LT-RT UNK, JOE GAGNON, HARVEY MELTZER
HARVEY & JOE E HOLLENS
"CIVIC ACTION" MISSION GONE BAD
CLICK ON SMALL BLOCK TO PAUSE
This was a civic action flight to the Temple at Thai Phanom. It is where the "Lord High Abbott" of the entire province is housed.
We had the Base Commander and his Thai interpreter along. We presented a bell made by MMS. A tripod frame with a highly polished part of a 500 lb. bomb. It made great sounds.
The Abbot then blessed all present and presented us with Buddas that will protect us from every type of war injury we could get across the river.
He then requested a ride so he and several monks could see the temple. He was in the jump seat (CRS on pilot & copilot) other flight mech was Nat Comfer. The base photographer was aboard also.
He took the pictures, I never saw him get out. It really doesn't take long to get out.
The second picture (1b) shows the Abbott and Interpreter.
We got as high as the cross arms on the electric poles. The engines were giving their best and really putting out a very high-pitched squeal.
I was in the door at the time we hit; there was a very loud explosion and the brightest blue flash I have ever seen. The very next thing we are on the ground and coming to a stop. If it weren’t for the hoist knocking me back into the cabin I would have fielded the transmission.
When I got out I saw the smoke on top, got the fire extinguisher and put out the small fire from the hydraulics. I guess we set a speed record on transmission removal, and didn't have to open any doors either.
Then the recovery part started. CE was called and some folks that I have no idea where they work. A big discussion rose about getting the Thai electric to take down some wires, so the bird on a flat bed could get back to NKP.
I listened for awhile then I talked to the Base Commander and showed him that I had pinned the gear and it was safe. I suggested we get a tow bar and a wrecker with hitch and tow it home.
That’s what they did. Guess what? That Bird was rebuilt and put back in operation!
Here is where I am still part of the old days
This was so popular that a Christmas card was made using the picture
21st SOS CH-53
When I left NKP I was reasigned to Shaw AFB SC. There I became flight examiner and chief of Quality Control. This unit was like an FOL to NKP because almost all the pilots were the ones I flew with over there. One of the most remembered was "Capt America" John Grove and the Ops officer Maj. W.C. Hinkley, CRS doesn't alow me to give the other names.