Billy was a loadmaster with the 345th TAS. This is his
At Nha Trang we capped off the brake line for the left front main
gear, but on landing at Bien
it locked up, rubbed through all the tread and overheated
the wheel and brake. When we stopped for an engine-running
offload of our 130 combat-loaded
, we had this conversation over the intercom...
- "Go pilot."
out and inspect the left main gear and see what you can find."
- Pilot. I didn't see anything. Give me 5 minutes
and I will have them off the plane."
But within a minute the left front main
blew, injuring several passengers. It also set the
gas turbine compressor on fire on the opposite side of the airplane.
I ran out the back of the plane with my headset on and it jerked me
to the ground. I pulled out my .38 because I thought one of the
passengers had thrown a grenade. When I realized the blast was
from the outside of the plane I thought we had taken a round.
Both wheel wells were ablaze when an inebriated GI happened by on
his way back from the club. He grabbed the large
fire bottle we used during engine starts
and turned it onto
both flaming wheel wells, putting out the fire.
I ran back up the ramp into the airplane and fought my way upstream
through the troops running out the back and down the ramp. I
yelled to the rest of the crew and they T- handled
engines. Meanwhile the fire truck arrived and blasted us with
foam as we all tried to exit through the crew door. What a
The airplane sat on the ramp for a long time awaiting parts, but it
was repaired and returned to service several months later.