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Fri, 11 Apr 2008                                                                                                   SUBJECT:  THE PASSING OF RAYMOND E. KEY JR


The passing of Raymond E. Key Jr is the ending of an era of men who loved helicopters enuf to stay in the field even though there was no rank in it.  Ray was a T/Sgt when he was with me in Newfoundland in '61. He'd have been at least an E-7 in any other field. Heres a story that can be told now!  Ray was my Maintenance Tech, but still at 39 (I was 28) he flew as a crewman too!  Especially when we had pregnant women to pickup as he was the only one who had ever delivered babies.


One blowing snow day, like it always seemed to be, when the Salvation Army guys called us that they had two women in this village that needed to go to the hospital at Corner Brook.  So I got Ray and away we went in a H-19B.  After finding the place, and while loading the women, one of the ville's elders came up and said, "Sure is a cold one Mate! Might ya need a warmer!" Now you have to know that the Newfoundlanders were poor but would give the shirt off their back to anyone when in need.  And they had a homemade rum about the color of Coke called, "Old Screetch!" After looking at the bottle with dark fluid in it and a glass he was holding in the other hand, knowing well that I wasnt supposed to and fly. But it was colder than a well diggers you know what and sure didnt want to make the locals unfriendly, I nodded and said, "Justa short one, Mate!" My co-pilot, Roger Hagel, was in the cockpit at the controls and Ray was helping load when I took that short one, slugged it down and tried to keep a straight face as it burned all the way down knowing dammed well why they called it, "Old Screetch!"  Ray was watching as I did it, so I told the old fella, "Thanks! And I think my Sarge here could use a good warmer too!" So he handed Ray about a halfa glass and he belted it down just like I had done. Now Ray was one of those guys who'd I never try to drink under the table, but when it hit bottom in him he shook his head and shivered a little telling me, "Jesus Christ Captain! You owe me one for that!"


Anyway we got out of there by flying down the road just above telephone poles in the blowing snow, then climbing IFR, changing controls every five minutes or so when vertigo set in, to above 6,000 ft where the cover L-20 was in the clear and made it to Corner Brook without any more problems.  And back at Harmon that night, I had to pay Ray off with some good stuff at the NCO Club. Hazel was quite a fine lady too! I'm glad I had the privilege of knowing them both!




Mon, 07 Apr 2008                                                                                                                        SUBJECT: H-53 ENGINE FLAME OUT


Four birds coming back from alert at L 36 left Big Bertha up their overnight. Emergency landed at 36, crew and rescued jumped on the other bird and high tailed it home. They wrote about this in National Geographic article by Howard Sochurek. I went up the next day to find out what was wrong with her. This was the day after she picked up five and lost an engine. It turned out the engine fuel lever on one engine was in cross feed and they ran the tanks on that side dry when “the crew” slammed her in cross feed.   When the engines started to unwind the engine that was already in cross feed died and the other one lit on the full tank on the other side. That morning when I got to Lima 36 I started the APU and checked the gauges, one main was empty and the other was full.  All I did was transfer some fuel and put some in the empty tank from the 50 gal drums and primed the fuel system on the dead engine and lit her off. Let her run for 50-gal worth and she did not even sputter. Checked all over for bullet holes and fuel leaks and signed off on the red X.  Another bird brought in a flight crew and we took of back to Udorn.  (RON LOFTIS)



Mon, 07 Apr 2008                                                                                                                      SUBJECT: FACTORY FRESH AIRCRAFT


I picked up the first batch of HH-H helicopters at Bell for my unit at Hill AFB.  We flew to Buckley AFB Colorado spent the night and flew across Wyoming making two fuel stops.  We had 22 aircraft upon completion. (See pictures in OFOTO section)


I was in the 20th SOS at Cam Rahn Bay when we received the new UH-1N gunships.  I was on on trouble shooting and identfying a problem with the torque meters.  They sent a team in to fix the problem.  I got to fly on some of the FCFs and liked the feel of the contols when I got to fly the aircraft  (BILL LYSTER)



Sat, April 05, 2008                                                                                                                    SUBJECT: FACTORY FRESH AIRCRAFT


Not being a pilot, or crew chief,  I never got to pick up any new ships, but when I got to Eglin AFB, in March 1964, there were 22 factory fresh Sikorsky CH-3C's, and 9 Bell UH-1F's on the 4488th Test Wing flight line. I am only sure of two serials on the CH-3's, 63-9689 and 63-9690. These were two of the 12 we had at West Plains, MO, for exercise Gold Fire I, November 1964. I didn't keep any records on the Bells, or find any photos, so I don't know much about them.  The CH-21B's I worked on at Turner AFB, from 1960-1964 , were all 52, 53 and 55 models.




Sat, April 05, 2008                                                                                                                    SUBJECT: FACTORY FRESH AIRCRAFT


In June 1957, we picked up two H-21B at the factory in Philadelphia and ferried to the West Coast to be shipped overseas.  I don’t think they were new but don’t know why they were at the factory.  Anyway I was Les Walsh’s co-pilot on 53-4399 and Jim Quick and Bill Lyell flew the other one. As we flew near Pittsburg, PA, “Wild Bill” asked if we knew how they found steel in Pennsylvania, ? Well, they “smelt it” of course !!  A great trip across the U.S., thru Ohio, Missouri, New Mexico, Arizona to Burbank, California. It took us 8 days but what a tour.


I and Jude Lees did pick up H-21B 57-2610, brand new, at the factory and flew back to the School at Randolph in December 1957.  We both were so new in the H-21 that we couldn’t remember if we should cruise at 2400 or 2500 rpm. We finally settled on 2500 for take-off and 2400 cruise.


In 1970, the 5040th Heli Sq at Elmendorf got to replace its aging H-21Bs with new HH-3E’s.  The Squadron pilots got to go to Stratford, CT to pick up our new birds.  In July 1970 I got to pick up 69-5807 with an asshole CP whose name I’ll not mention. We flew thru Jim Okonek’s home town in Wisconsin to pick up a couple of outboard motors, a canoe and 12’ fishing boat (we got a good deal) in our already stuffed H-3 to take back to AK.  Except for my companion it was a great trip. Took us 5 days.  (K. V. HALL)



Fri, April 04, 2008                                                                                                                    SUBJECT: FACTORY FRESH AIRCRAFT


CH-53C  S/N  68-10926,  NKP,  Aug. 1970.  We did not pick up this CH-53 at the factory but at the Port of Sattahaip Thailand. It was off loaded from the cargo ship, completely cocooned in the white plastic shrink wrap.  We struggled pulling the plastic off, installed all the main and tail rotor blades, and did all the maintenance prior to the FCF. I think that the ships Captain did not think that this aircraft could get off the ground, he and entire ships crew watched the FCF. The ships Capt. was so impressed he invited us on board for lunch. After the successful FCF, we flew back to NKP, finally the 21st SOS had it's first CH-53. The air crews could hardly wait to get flying and fly it they did, we(they) overflew the 100 hour phase insp. by 50 hrs. to 150 hrs. and finally red X it for phase insp. It was a privilege to be the 1st crew chief assigned to 926 (Arkansas Traveler).  (DAVE COMSTOCK)



Fri, April 04, 2008                                                                                                                     SUBJECT: FACTORY FRESH AIRCRAFT


In 1973 the powers said that Det 22 at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho could have three new HH-1H hueys and Doug Brosveen and I and two mechanics went to Hurst, Texas to pick up the first pair. They were at an aux field out in the toolies having been FCF's by the Army.  Dick Henderson and I picked our horse and started extensive preflights and the sight of RAH bounding 30 feet in one step out of the cabin was a sight I'll not soon forget.  The prairie grass had grown so high that the rattlers could crawl up through the hell hole and curl up around the transmission.  Wonder if he remembers it too.  We flew the first pair to MHAFB without serious incident however an engine chip light at Sheppard AFB slowed us down a day while I ran an oil sample to the lab at Tinker.  We formated northward with me as 2 so we could screw around.  While DB flew over the length of Mesa Verde, Dick and I were down in the canyon looking up at the picture-takers.  Our choice of 14,000' from Grand Junction, Co. to Hill AFB, Ut. saved almost 100 lbs of fuel over Doug at 10,000+ as terrain dictated.  Minimum beep, just above the horn also helped conserve fuel.  Tricks learned from Harry Rodgers.. The hoist on the HH was a real POS. Two kinds of electricity and hydraulic to boot.  Can't remember if we ever got 3  OR at the same time----.  I've forgotten how the 3rd helo got there and the old "N" models we got a year later were more mx hours per flight hour but better suited to our work in the high country.  New helos sure smelled good, though.  (JIM WOOLACE)



Fri, April 04, 2008                                                                                                                     SUBJECT: FACTORY FRESH AIRCRAFT


Picked up brand new H-5H models at the old Sikorsky factory in 1950. Picked up a new H-19B at  Old Sikorsky factory 1952. Picked up a new H-19B at old Sikorsky factory in 1954. Went to school at old Sikorsky factory on the H-19 in Feb. 1952. The H-5H we picked up was one of two used to form the first unit in the Air Force assigned the duty  to evacuate  The President , Vice Present and the Cabinet in the event of an emergency. We were based at Langley AFB. The CO was Capt Al Kopit. Other officers were Capt. Calvin Jackson and other officers whose names I can't remember. I was a S/Sgt at the time and crew chief on one of the H-5H's and S/Sgt Ed Lusk was the other crew chief. Others were assigned whose names I can't remember.    




Fri, April 04, 2008                                                                                                                     SUBJECT: FACTORY FRESH AIRCRAFT


Around that same time in CRS memory I went to Kaman and picked up a new HH-43B. The factory treated us really nice. We were there a few days getting the AF acceptance and test flight accomplished. After all of that we rested and started our trip Home. Eglin AFB Fla. The flight was in the cold weather. We then discovered how nasty using the heater system could be (I can smell it now). One of our stops was at Warner Robins AFB GA. This was the ARS regional center. My bird was overdue an inspection, You may have guessed Hdq. Did not have any inspection cards at all. Then we found that the tail cables needed to be reset due to flight hours. And I seem to remember that someone said that the Hot section needed to be accomplished. So our short stop turned out to last about a week. Later we learned that the hot section time for inspection had changed and I did not need to do it. It was a real learning experience. I had gone to Sheppard about 9 months prior, so I was a little behind the power curve on 43 maintenance. 




Fri, April 04, 2008                                                                                                                     SUBJECT: FACTORY FRESH AIRCRAFT


Not too long after I cross trained into helicopters from KC-135’s, I was assigned to Whiteman AFB and H-19’s. Just going from jets to the old reciprocating engine type aircraft was somewhat hard for me and strange. The H-19’s we had were old and well used. On a hot day we weren’t entirely sure that we could complete our mission. Word came down that we were replacing our H-19’s with the Bell UH-1F. How exciting that was! New helicopters, more power, better looking and better equipment! I was chosen to be one of the flight mechanics to head off to Euless Texas with two other crews in order to fly back our brand new helicopters. The people at Bell were great! We got the full fifty cent tour of both the factory and test flight operations. After our tours we were introduced to our new machine, and it really looked nice. We finished an FCF, accepted it, and now were ready to head home. Each aircraft had a Pilot and a FM, so some of us got some stick time while heading home. That was really nice, it really flew well. All were well pleased at the change as it supported our mission at Whiteman very well with very little problems. I believe this happened in 1965, but you know well that old brains don’t always remember well! 




Fri, April 04, 2008                                                                                                                     SUBJECT: FACTORY FRESH AIRCRAFT


I was at Udorn in Nov 65 when the then new HH-3Cs arrived by C-133s.  Don't remember exactly how many there were, but, think it was six or eight.  I was a HH-43 fireman so not really involved with the new aircraft.  But, I sure remember the excitement that went through the unit which was Det 5, 38th ARRS then.  I did get assist with some odds and ends stuff on my off days getting the helicopters ready to fly and took up the offer of a ride several times.  If I remember correctly the first HH-3C to FCF was flown by a pilot by the name of Jennings. 




Fri, April 04, 2008                                                                                                                     SUBJECT: FACTORY FRESH AIRCRAFT


Got the first 6 HH53B at Eglin after factory school, escorted the first two HH53B to SEA on USS CARD, delivered to Udorn AB 1967.  Picked up, test flew and deliver first HH53C from ship in Thailand to Da Nang AB 1970.  Deliver first two HH53C to Woodbridge AB, GB 1972 first Alantic crossing by H53.  So much for new airfcraft, I started on the H-19 in 1965 and my first 43 was a 1965 model in 1968.  (JOHN KRILETICH)



Fri, 4 Apr 2008                                                                                                                          SUBJECT: FACTORY FRESH AIRCRAFT 

Mine was a onetime experience in 1960 while I was stationed at Suffolk County AFB, NY on Long Island (now Francis S. Gabreski Airport ANG base) and If I remember correctly, we were flown across Long Island Sound in the local base flight C-47 to the Kaman factory. We spend the night, got a first class tour of the factory the next morning after which we did a short acceptance flight of HH-43B, 59-1593 and then made the short flight (about an hour if I remember right) across Long Island Sound, back to SCAFB. All pretty un-eventful, except that I remember that “new car smell” that some of you mentioned you remembered when you picked up your new birds. 




Fri, 4 Apr 2008                                                                                                                          SUBJECT: FACTORY FRESH AIRCRAFT


I participated in the First Article Configuration Inspection for the CH-3C, ferried several new HH-3E's from Sikorsky to Turner for the first CCTS for Rescue H-3 crews and maintenance personnel conducted by the 1370th Photo Mapping Wing, and picked up one of the two HH-3Es that we flew non stop from Eglin to Floyd Bennet Field in NY, then trans Atlantic to the Paris Air show in '67.  (GREG ETZEL)



Fri, 4 Apr 2008                                                                                                                          SUBJECT: FACTORY FRESH AIRCRAFT


In the early 70's the AF bought the HH-1H from Bell to replace some of the UH-1F model hueys.  The H model had a different engine and gear box configuration and an extendable 40 inch arm rescue hoist along with a little more cabin space.  I got to pick several of them up at the Bell factory and deliver them all over the country to various detachments (mostly missile sites).  Smelled like a new car and in most cases flew great with no chip lights, etc.  Once I got to reposition an HH-43B from Homestead AFB, FL, to George AFB, CA.  We logged 40+ hours in the little over a week it took to get it there.  Saw some interesting country on the way west.


Those were the good ole days for sure!   (JOHN FLOURNOY)



Fri, 4 Apr 2008                                                                                                       SUBJECT: STRANGE FEELING ON RETURN TO NKP


When I got my first assignment out of pilot training in 1967, I flew C-141s out of Travis AFB.  Those aircraft were almost brand new.  Talk about nice!  I don't recall just how many hours they had on them at the time, but it wasn't much.  I went back to the same base to fly C-141s after my stint in helicopters, and was amazed to see engines with several times what the engine change time had been before I left for helicopters.  The C-141 was used pretty intensely.  Based on my experience in Thailand, I was assigned to orient new crews to the Thailand Klong missions when the C-141s took that over from the C-130s.  It felt kind of strange taxiing in at NKP, going by the 21st SOS flight line, not long after my helicopter assignment was over.   (JERRY KIBBY)



Mon, 17 Mar 2008                                                                                                                                               SUBJECT: BLU-82 LZs


I’ve made landings, while in the 20th HS “Green Hornets” in the UH-1F,  in LZ’s that were blown for us by the BLU-82. I remember one insert we were on, into one of these LZ’s, where I was on the low bird (carrying the team). We dropped down to tree top level about three miles out to make our run into the LZ. We flared and came to a high hover over the crater and were just beginning to start our decent down to the ground and as I was scanning the edge of the LZ, I was startled to see a whole line of surprised NVA troops, (must have been at least 40 of them) out in the open, walking along the edge of the LZ. We were so close I could clearly see the eyes on several to the NVA troops as they were swinging their AK’s around to the firing position. As soon as I saw them, I called out “abort” and opened fire as did my left door gunner and the team members that were in my door. My pilot immediately pulled pitch and we made a hasty exit from this LZ and went on to insert the team in a secondary LZ.


What amazed me that day and still does till this day, is how it appeared we had surprised those troops. I mean, if you’ve ever heard a “Huey” (especially with the 540, wide cord blade, rotor system) booking along, low level at high speed, you hear the damn thing coming for several minutes before it shows up. But as we came to a hover and started down, it was as if those troops had just looked up and realized there was a helicopter about to land. I mean the look on their faces was one of those “deer in the head lights” looks and then it dawned on them what was going on. As soon as we let loose with our weapons they all went diving to the ground and even though we begin taking ground fire, we got out of there without taking any hits. No doubt I had the “deer in the head lights” look myself as I could not believe how casually they walking along when I saw them. That was one of those days that I will never forget…  (JIM BURNS)



Thu, 13 Mar 2008                                                                                                              SUBJECT: FIRST HH-53BS (BUFF) TO SEA


I was sent to Sikorsky factory to train on the first HH-53Bs being built in 1967. I finished school and went back to Eglin for further training.  I deployed to SEA in Aug 67 to Udorn with the first two BUFFs to land in SEA. 


There was a huge controversy  about what  name we were going to use for the HH-53s. The Air Force and Sikorsky wanted to call them Super Jolly Green Giants and much pressure was put on the troops to call them that.  However throughout AF history the nicknames for birds were given to them by the crews flying and maintaining them.


The first two birds were put on the MSTS Aircraft Carrier Card and sent off to SEA. We flew over the standard way to Udorn and when the birds arrived we flew to Vung Tau to meet them and assemble them and fly them back to Udorn. When we landed at Vung Tau Army Hueys flew us out to the carrier to take the spray on plastic off the birds and  put them back to together. 


There was a lot of talk among the troops about the pressure to call the birds Super Jollys but I concocted a plan to keep them nicknamed Big Ugly Fat F-----s.  I took up a collection and went downtown Vung Tau, had a Vietnamese tailor make two flags with the large letters BUFF on them and a Sikorsky Winged ''S'' in the center and I had pockets sewn in the top and bottom like curtain rod holders.  I procured some  half inch rebar in lengths five inches longer than the flags. My next job was to convince Major Marty Donohue to stop the birds after we landed at the end of the runway at Udorn to let me put the flags on the refueling probes of the BUFFs.   Marty was a great officer and all around good guy and  he went along with it.  Stopped the birds short on the taxiway at Udorn  and with the aid of some good old cameo duct tape the flags were taped on the probes and we taxied  into Udorn. Nobody had ever seen a HH-53B  at Udorn since these were the first two in the USAF inventory... Well everybody on base came out to see them with their BUFF flags flying proudly. (RON LOFTIS)



Thu, 6 Mar 2008                                                                                                             SUBJECT: ANOTHER GREEN HORNET STORY


I’m also a member of the Vietnam Helicopter Crew Members Network and as I was scanning through the emails on the network a few months back, I saw an entry from one of the Army guys about picking up a downed Air Force huey in Cambodia one day in 1967. Well that perked up my interest as I went down with my UH-1F, while on the way to insert a team, in Cambodia. I emailed him back and it turns out he was the guy that stood on top of my bird … in the dark … and attached the recovery sling strap to the CH-47 recovery helicopter’s cargo hook. As soon as I can find the story I wrote about this day, I’ll send it along to you. Anyway, like I said, through that net I was able to connect with a guy that was involved in the recovery of my bird. I’ve never met the guy, but in a way we were involved with each other 31 years ago. We were corresponding by email, but when I lost my old ‘puter’ (hard drive failure), I’ve lost his address, but now that I’m getting my new ‘puter’ up and running, I’m going to give out a shout to him on the net and see if we can re-connect.  (JIM BURNS)



Thu, 6 Mar 2008                                                                                                                            SUBJECT: WHAT'S THE CHANCES II 

Another story that happened is about 30 years after Vietnam and the VFW in the town where my mother lives ( Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania ) was doing a wall of remmebrance for all the prior and present military members who lived there.  Well as stated in my bio I was awarded the DFC and I had given a copy to my sister, so she found out about them doing this and she went and was talking to the Post Commander and she gave him a copy of the DFC citation. As they were talking a gentleman who was sitting at the bar came over and asked to read it.  My sister said as he read it he turned white as a ghost and told her, " I don't want you to think it's the alcohol talking, but could I hug the sister of the man who saved me on that misson".  He was the 2nd Lt in charge of that LRRP's team that we had to go in hot and pull out.  So we are trying to set up a date to go where he lives in Muncy Valley, Pennsylvania and do a reunion. This was really a freaky incident.  (BILL KASEMAN)