Fri, 16 Mar 2007 SUBJECT: 1LT. JIMMIE DOOLITTLE III
The attached picture, by the way, was shot by 1Lt Jimmie DooLittle III, who was an A-1 pilot waiting for arming when Will and I came in to land on the parallel taxiway at NKP. Will was flying lead and I was flying number two. Rotors were overlapped. You don't fly like that with just anybody. Like I said, Will was good. Jimmie D. developed his pictures after he returned from his mission, found out who was flying the helos, and came by my room and gave me the print and the negative.
Fri, 16 Mar, 2007 SUBJECT: WORDS OF ADVICE
That was an interesting ten days for me. I flew as copilot to Bill Campbell for the entire time and he was nice enough to let me do half of the flying. I never forgot a word of advice he gave me one day. We were about to touch down at the pickup point - a high ridgeback. Just before I touched us down, I ran out of anti-torque pedal travel and the nose moved from absolutely straight forward as a result. I said "Oops" over the interphone. Bill let me know later about how that was not a good thing to do in order to not scare the heck out of the FEs. Good point that I never forgot.
I remember carrying (in the CH-3) up to 75 people and anything they could carry from about 5500 feet at the pickup point. CH-53s carried even more. Carried some pigs and horses, too. Max speed enroute to the dropoff point for us was about 55 knots indicated. By 56 knots, the blade stall was bad. Per the American Ambassador, we moved 6,105 refugees altogether. (JERRY KIBBY)
Fri, 16 Mar 2007 SUBJECT: CH-3 MID-AIR IN A HOVER
As I remember the story: They were parked on the east side of the runway next to the old mill building, while all the rest were on west side. They decided to move over, which involved getting permission from the tower. This was always problematic -- half the time we couldn't understand the guy in the tower. (this was also the tower that would clear the pathway across the mid-point of the runway by firing an AK down the runway!) So they got permission, and took some time getting airborne to a hover, then started moving very slowly across the runway. In the meantime, tower without checking and thinking that they had cleared the runway, cleared a Laotian T-28, that had just done a hot reload of bombs, for takeoff. As the H-3 hovered slowly about mid-runway, here comes the T-28 across the hump in the runway, bearing down on the H-3. Seeing he couldn't takeoff the T-28 pilot, started veering to the right. Fortunately the H-3 was hovering high. The T-28 tail fin nipped the underside of the nose wiping the electronics door and breaking the nose gear sissors. It was said that the FE in the cabin door looked up to see the T-28 approaching and was speechless in shock, and the pilots never saw anything until the hit.
The T-28 went off the side of the runway, continued for a time to a stop(sturdy old bird). These T-28s had just been modified with the Yankee Extraction System, similiar to the A-1s. So after the bird stopped, the Lao pilot decided he was supposed to use it, so pulled the ring and was fired up a couple of hundred feet, parachute opens but he hit the ground hard(some said he landed on his head!). He spent a day or two in the hospital, then was back flying his normal twenty-five sorties a day. (HAROLD BRATTLAND)
Fri, 16 Mar 2007 SUBJECT: CH-3 NEAR INCIDENT
The same crew, I think after the runway incident, when we were closing out sites, was the last crew out of a site at end of the day that was used for refueling. So they had to carry back out all the remaining stuff from the site. This included the famous refueling pump that was put together by the Ponies I think --- any way, it was an irrigation pump converted to JP-4 with new seals, and whatever else was left. Also some heavy refueling hoses, etc. Also, there was the Lao Lt leading a small patrol (5?) that had the body of one of their solidiers that needed to be brought back for burial.
The procedure we taught (tried to teach) when we were loading unknown amount of weight was to hover check before beginning a takeoff, even a running takeoff: six inch wheel clearance = good to go; no hover, no go.
Well they thought it all wasn't too heavy, and started a rolling takeoff down the short ridgeline without first trying a hover check. The result was as Jerry says, can't climb, wallowing through the air, yelling at the FEs to start kicking out the stuff. So there goes the hoses, and the smaller stuff, finally the irreplaceable pump. Finally the pilots say "...we're climbing now....I think we can clear the ridge...." To which one of the FEs replied "...sure glad sir...the Laos threw out the body and then the Lt was lining up his troops to jump too!!...."
Another day in the life of "...You Call, We'll Haul..."
Well, one caveat, I didn't actually witness these events, but heard it all told several times by others as we went over our escapades a few days later. Witnesses can flesh out the details.
Fri, 16 Mar 2007 SUBJECT: CH-3 COMPRESSOR STALL
I had just returned from leave in Feb70 and came back to find the sqdrn deployed to No Laos. After a day and half, I was fragged to take a ship just out of phase up to L-98 to meet with the others. When I arrived Roger Penny and Bill Morey briefed me that we needed to have all ships flying that day and next. One of the birds was having a compressor stall problem at max power, so they said I needed to take that bird, instead of the one I had brought, because I would know how to handle that situation. So I said sure, no problem, I'll try to get another days work out of the bird.
So Lt Waldo was my copilot as we went out to a site to pickup a load. Guess what, a load of HOGS! They had given these big gunnysacks to the Mong for their pigs and hogs, and with the hog inside, sewed up the end. Perfect for controlling the animal, but now the locals and FE had to manhandle these "packages" without handles. First the family got on, seven with big backpacks and hands full of all their belongings, then as many hogs as the FE thought we could handle. Picked it up and could just barely get wheel clearance. I said to crew we will be doing a rolling takeoff on the nose wheel to get lift as quickly as possible, and to the copilot Waldo, we are going to have a big torque split, but I am going to pull until the #1 starts to pop, then back off a little. Okay here we go. As we were breaking ground, the #1 did its poping, and Waldo comes on intercom and says in his C-141 voice "KEEP GOING -- IT's ONLY A COMPRESSOR STALL!!l!!". As we climbed out, Waldo comes back on the intercom and says "Boy, that was dumb thing to say----we can't fly on the remaining engine!!"
I think that was the heaviest internal load I had ever carried in an H-3 up to that time.
Tue, 13 Mar 2007 SUBJECT: TAT
TAT = Tactical Armament Turret 102B, manufactured by Emerson Electric, housing 1 GE 7.62 mm Mini-gun and up to 8,000 rounds. The turret was hydraulically driven, the gun was electrically driven with a gunner selectable rate of 2,000 or 4,000 rounds per minute. It hung on the sponson (left, right or both) in place of the drop tank. Sight was an electro-optical servo sight mounted in the crew door (I have never found a photo of the sight) and the forward cabin window on the left side. Normal load was 4,000 rds of ammo and was normally loaded on the right sponson. Pilots were not happy about having to choose between fuel and weapons. Most of the time they choose the fuel. I can tell you more if you really want to know – I worked on them, loaded them, maintained them. (JIM HENTHORN)
Mon, 5 Mar 2007 SUBJECT: OPS PLANS
It is still funny that none of the Jolly Green bunch want to admit there were others (H-43's) flying up north before them. And only mention fighters using the classified call signs. When actually by the time we got there in May of 65, the fighters weren't using AFSAL call signs either. They were using Buick, Olds, etc. It makes me wonder if only units like Special Ops and us, flying missions behind enemy lines not in specified Ops Orders, were the only ones using the AFSAL call sign system.
When General Heinie Adderholt was discussing "Presidential Findings" about the Irangate mess with another guy at a ACA Reunion, he pointed me out across the table and said, "If we needed all that to operate! That old Major there would have been hung out to dry for what he did in Vietnam!" When I asked what he meant, he asked me, "Did you have written order's for what you did over North Vietnam, Joe?" I thought a minute about our classified Ops Plan for Laos, and realized we didn't, and said, "No! Only a verbal request from ASOC for the first mission and a twx simply saying "What you did yesterday is your new mission. Plan on it!" As far as I know we never took time to put it in writing. So when the H-3's got there and they weren't on the AFSAL list , the "Jolly 85/76" was approved by ASOC at Udorn. Until Baylors group got there, we couldn't say where or what we were doing. The one exception was when we made the first pickup of a USN pilot Grant Townsend, and they blew our cover. I had to send Walt Turk to Saigon for the press interview, so they didn't know where we were out of. But I can tell you this--there are some fighter pilots who'll never forget the "Naked Fanny's", regardless of their weird call signs! (JOE BALLINGER)
Tue, 6 Feb 2007 SUBJECT: CHOPPER STOWAWAY
Capt. Don Walker and I had an H-19 out one day for "proficiency" practice. (which meant anything goes) We generally didn't have a crew chief on board when two instructor pilots flew together. Anyway we flew up north toward Pyramid Lake and points in between, buzzing along as low as we could. We'd go up over the ridges and jump a flock of chukar partridge and chase them down the hills and thru the gullies. Up and down and around and around. We got after a coyote and chased it into the ground. I happened to look down in the cabin and saw that someone was there. I made sign language to Don as 'who the heck is there?' About that time a quivering voice comes over the intercom "Ah, sir, could we land for a moment, I just lost my lunch!" We landed and got out and apoligized profusely to our passenger, explaining we didn't know he was there. He said that was OK but we swore him to secrecy for the flying we had done and took it easier on the way back to the base. (K V HALL)
Sun, 4 Feb 2007 SUBJECT: MUONG PHINE
I heard about the Mong Phine shoot-down (early October 1969) from some of the folks who were there. It happened a short time before I got to the squadron. Capt. Pete Costa was the guy who told me the most about it. He was someone's copilot that day. I got to talking with him shortly after I got to NKP - turns out he is from San Leandro California - just a short way from San Lorenzo, California where I lived. He was one of the guys who was left behind on the ground for a while after the initial pickup by rescue. I heard a rescue tape once (I don't have a copy of it) on which he called on his hand-held emergency radio to let everyone know that not everyone was picked up yet. Since they were surrounded by a fair sized enemy force, he was a bit concerned - his voice was pretty high pitched in his radio call. (JERRY KIBBY)