My name is Doug Lawson, MSgt. USAF Retired and I was assigned to NKP where CH-3C 676, the Black Mariah, was painted black.
It was not the lack of paint.
I was directed to have all insignia, etc. painted out and all lights to be disconnected to prevent inadvertently turning on a light. One of my maintenance crew decided to use Black paint and just slopped it on. When I seen what he had done I told him to paint the whole aircraft Black. It was miserably hot that day and he was very unhappy! (as was I).
I don't remember the tail number of another CH-3C, the first aircraft sent to Thai-Am for repair, but I believe it was #689. It had went down in Laos and we done some repairs and flew it out to NKP. We didn't have the capability to repair it so we trucked it to Bangkok for Thai-Am to repair.
I later went down to check on the repair because it was taking too long. While there I picked up a local English Newspaper with a front page picture of "The Black Mariah" among other CH-3s at NKP with the caption "A sister in mourning"
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RotorHead member Jim Mardock ask Doug the following; Do you recall when this happened at NKP? I was never at NKP, but know some of the guys at Udorn went up there during '66. I assume that since you were disconnecting non-essential lighting, this was in preparation of using 676 for night missions. Although, I don't think the night ops ever took place. Doug replied:
I'm sorry I don't remember the dates. I didn't deploy with the 20th. Major Lethbridge and I followed about a month later. I think we arrived in Ton son Nhut in January. I believe in March we were sent to NKP because the pilots would not fly their missions because of an alcoholic MSgt in charge. 676 and another aircraft were already on site. Also we were flying primarily night missions when we arrived. So it wasn't painted because we were going to fly night missions, rather that the mission tasked was extremely dangerous. I believe the aircraft was painted about June? A lot more goes with this story. 676 and the other bird was the only aircraft at NKP belonging to the 20th until after a lot of waves had been made and I got a call from Communications that I had 16 aircraft in-bound. We didn't have adequate space for this many aircraft and later we moved all operations to Udorn.