Tue, 12 Dec 2006 SUBJECT: 606TH ACW HUEYS
In a book called "Apollo's Warriors" by Col Michael E. Haas, USAF, Retired it states that in January 1967, the 14th ACW, unexpectably found itself the recipient of 15 UH-1F Hueys formerly based with the 606th Air Commando Wing at NKP RTAFB Thailand . Do you have any information on this?
When I went to NKP in October 1968 I was sent to Huey school prior to departing the Conus. I always wondered why, since NKP had no Hueys when I arrived. (JIM MOORE)
Tue, 12 Dec 2006 SUBJECT: ORIGIN OF THE "GREEN HORNETS"
This was the genesis of the Green Hornets. The UH-1F’s were pulled from the SAC Missile Silo Support program and sent to Thailand as part of the JUSMAG-Thai program. They were to be used to support the training of the Thai Border Police and Thai Army. At some point, Gen “Spike” Moyer (according to a brief interview I had with Gen. Aderholt – Wing King at the time and MGen Singlaub – ACA Reunion 2006) got wind of the Hueys in Thailand doing more than just training Thai Army/Police and ordered them out of Thailand. The order came down on Jan 28 and they were to be gone by Jan 30. AF did its thing and sent them to the 14th ACW and assigned them to the 20th Helicopter Squadron since there were no other helicopter units in county other than ARRS. They were left without a mission – they came up with their own essentially – adding another page to the “Special Ops – We Improvise The Night” legend… (JIM HENTHORN)
Don't know if this is fact or not but I remember being told one time by someone that when the Air Force decided to get the UH-1 for missile site support that the Army was willing to give up some airframe slots on the production line, but they wouldn't give up any T-53 engine slots and that's why the UH-1F's ended up with the T-58 engines. I never have been able to find out for sure if that is true or not. Can't decide if it really makes sense or not since the AF was already getting the T-53 for the H-43's, but since the production of the H-43 was about to wind down and the Army need for the UH-1 was rapidly increasing, I guess it could be correct. With the H-3 coming on line at about the same time, I always kinda thought the reason the AF UH-1F's had the T-58 was because it would be common with the H-3 engines. Since the H-3 purchase was handled by the Navy, maybe there was just no shortage of T-58's through that production cannel. Who Knows!! (JIM BURNS)
Sat, 9 Dec 2006 SUBJECT: PERSONAL COMMENT
The problem has always been choppers get the bottom end of the budget in the USAF after bombers, fighters, cargo planes. So we usually went for a light small rescue helo and a cargo heavy. Classically in 65 the H-43 & the H-3. We knew the limits of the 43, but it was a good hardy bird after we found ways to extend the range. The H-3 had to be extensively modified too for combat. The one thing we all knew after 65 was we needed two engine machines to survive combat. We didn't have enuf machines and guys to use them like expendable jeep's as the Army did. Along in 67 or 68, a prop was written for a two-engine 43 (Huskie III ??). A great idea, except it didnt make it any faster and longer range, AND it would be an add on price of $325,000 with each 43 converted. A Huey N cost was not much more than that brand new. So as much as those of us in the Det's liked the 43, we all, and I mean all, got a copy of the prop and shot it down. The Blackhawk was what we had in mind, but got the UH-1N and the H-53 with the now reliable H-3 as a fill between them. The other thing we worked on just before I retired was the PAVE Low concept to get in and out under all conditions fast. I still believe to this day, if our Pave Low 53's had been used in Iran and air refueled, we would have got the job done! You've either got to sneak in fast with surprise effect, Or have Warthogs pound the piss out of the place, just before you get there. Like how we got a lot of our pickups with USN A-1's down in the bushes with us. If we could get the money, as a pilot, I would like nothing but Pave Low 92, perhaps a made in USA 101. Who needs cargo space for rescue. The most I have ever picked up was 15 off a ship in the China Sea off the PI with an H-3. We got 27 off that day with lead getting 12 before me. Also I can say, survivors don't mind being stacked in like cord wood if they are getting out and going to the doc. I think Tom Curtis took out 16 Laotian soldiers in the back of a 43 off the southern plaines of the Laotian panhandle. I took out 12 the next day. We lined the cargo bay with tarps to keep the blood corrosion down. Sounds bad, some made it. These were side jobs we did with our third bird, when it was up. So I really hope there is some hard cold evaluation of what the guys in the field want and need. One bird for all things aint gonna work. (JOE BALLINGER)
Sun, 19 Nov 2006 SUBJECT: H-19 GEAR PROBLEM
Back in 1961, at Eglin in the 48th ARS. We had an H-19 that busted the upper mount bracket for the nose gear. After some thought I told the pilot just hover and I will get him on the ground. I went and got a saw horse, and using the long cord talked him down to a landing on it. That was the easy part. We then had to stabilize the bird while he shut down. (no rotor brake please) the rest is history. (HARVEY MELTZER)
Wed, 15 Nov 2006 2006 SUBJECT: H-43 POWs
No-never saw these! The one I was thinking of was the US Postal Stamp commerating POW's! Those guys were stronger than any men I have ever known in my whole life! Just after they were released, I was out on a night air-refueling training mission at Hill, when I got a call to terminate the mission and come back to base.. When I asked why--Like a bad problem at home or what! They just told me to get back, go home and there would be a priority phone call waiting for me. I did, wondering what the hell was going on. When I got home I got a call from Tom, Robie and Blackie on a AF conference line! It seems they could call anyone they wanted. It was like 7 1/2 years hadn't happened. Like it was yesterday when I last saw them. Laughing and joking with me still calling me boss! Telling me that they had just completed the longest rescue mission in the history of Air Rescue. That when they stepped off the plane in the Philippines as I remembered on TV, Tom was first, then Robie, Then Blackie, and what I didnt know was Forby the pilot they went for was the next off right behind them. They brought him home at last! 7 1/2 years! Couldnt believe how good they sounded! With tears running freely down my face my guys were finally home too! Tom got together with Walt Turk & I at Hill a few months later and told us the rest of the story. How they still didn't know how Duane Martin got separated from them. Tom had my survival vest with my .38 which I had thrown to him to use for the mission. He said he had thrown my 38 as far as he could, and wrapped the M-16 around a tree and tried to hide but they had them right off. We had discussed Code of Conduct with our crews and fully decided that to fight it out in the North with 38 & M-16 was a little over and beyond the call of duty. (JOE BALLINGER)
Wed, 8 Nov 2006 SUBJECT: EARLY DAYS AT NKP
What I have sent you is just a fragment of what happened. Some of us, even though I'm a Jolly Green too, figure it's time to let the Pedros get some of the Glory. Heres a point of history seldom told. How did the Jolly Green get their name! They had classified call signs for the H-43 when it was flown over the north. Confusing as hell, more to us than the enemy. The fighters used Car names, Buick, Olds, etc. But we changed ours every 7 to 10 days. Some weren't nice like "Curse 22". Oh yeah the numbers weren't the tail numbers either! And no one knew who the hell we were.
Walt and I were flying along at 10,000 ft one day, when a Thud went by and asked his wingman, "Was that a helicopter?" Wing said, "Couldnt be! Lets go back and look!" Walt piped up with, "Okay to look, just don't come so dammed close this time!"
When the H-3 guys got there, we checked and the H-3 wasnt listed in the AFSAL. So I asked George, Freddie and Phil, what the nickname of their bird was! They said some called it "Big Mother!", and others "Jolly Green!" So I gave them their choice and they chose "Jolly" with 85 and 76! The rest is history! George and I have chuckled many times if they'd went Big Mother, could have led to "Mutha----------!
As to Tom Curtis and Walt Turk, there was only one of each! If you met them, you wouldnt forget them!! I will make one comment on what George said and these come from Phil Stambaugh's notes. George, Orvil Keese, Pert and Thayer made the pickup of Tullo, 27 Jul 65 with 685. Phil Stambaugh, George M, Hill, Armenia and Thayer picked up Pogreba, 24 Aug 65 in 676, (I believe that one of ours 43 flew as High Bird on that one), and the last pickup was made by George M, George Warren, Diggs, Tart and Scherzer of Greenwood on 21 Sep 65 (the day after Tom & crew got shot down) in 685. The one in the AF Museum at Wright Pat is the one that George had. You can still find the bullet holes in it` (JOE BALLINGER)
Wed, 8 Nov 2006 SUBJECT: EARLY DAYS AT NKP
85 and 76 were CH-3C's out of TAC, the 4488 Test Sqdn (Heli) at Eglin to Ubon where there were hangars and line maintenance to help put them back together. The Special Orders were dated 26 Jun 65. They had the 1250 shp engines, and a mickey mouse internal detachable hoist. When George made his first pickup, the hoist went down and only part way back up. The had to carry Tullo on the end to a rice paddy and have Pert, HM, and Thayer, PJ pull him in. Those engines were not only small, they were power deteriorated badly, and George had to over boost and temp it getting out of there. They had to change one when they got back to Site 36. That's another story.. Didn't have any remote area stands to change it. So the guys thru a rope over the rotor blades, dropped out the bad one, and put on a good one that Air America flew in. We later made a cuff with a pulley on it, in case we had to ever do that again.
The birds that Baylor got were the first HH-3C's with the 3H modifications. I have heard that they were designated C's because the -5, 1500 shp engines were contract furnished by GE until they could be tested and approved at Edwards. There were a lot of things we cut thru the crap in those days. We had a Sikorsky Tech Rep, Rubin Hardy who bought jeep fan belts in Bangkok for the transmission oil cooler too. Just shortened the inspection time til we could get approved ones.
Like a lot people never knew we put 250 ft hoists on our H-43,s. All you have to do is order a F model drum and cable and put it in... When I was Det Co at Nha Trang in 67, I agreed to take a H-43B as a third bird.. Davy Allen flew it in out of Thailand.. Imagine to my surprise it was one of my old birds from NKP, I think 280, but not sure now. When I bet Davy it had a 250 ft hoist on it, he lost when we ran it out. His argument was it wasn't in the records. Well what can I say, I had good men that could get things done.
By the way, we didn't hand pump fuel from fuel drums, we had three barrels connected by lines to the main. And thru them out the back (Clamshell doors off) just before pickup. Later we had F model self-sealing internals installed, but our mains were still just plain bladders! But even that was a helova lot safer than the fiberglass internal fuel tank on the H-3. Thats what got Lilly's crew! And yeah. Tom Curtis was a Capt when he was shot down. Promoted to LC thru the 7 1/2 years of POW. Being their last CO, I followed with AF Personnel, his, Robbies and Blackies promotions till they came back. Tom stayed in and made full bull, now retired down in Texas. I'm sure he was the DO you were thinking of. Lt Walt Turk, my Maintenance Officer at NKP, who I flew with most of the time! A former Helicopter Crew Chief, then OCS, is now a retired Colonel too. I think he was DM at Kirtland at one time! (JOE BALLINGER)
Sat, 4 Nov 2006 SUBJECT: EARLY DAYS AT NKP
I brought the Kirtland Det over 120 days TDY and got to NKP on the 3rd of May. We formed up with other TDY pilots, mechs, and PJ's and I became DetCO, by one day of rank over Tom Curtis. As briefed our job as Det Prov 2, PARC (mission) was to pickup pilots bailed out in Thailand, and under special permission, highly classified, Laos! We had three H-43B's, no armor, no self-sealing tanks, only the 38's and M-16's we brought from the States. And some stuff, like BAR, Thompsons, Swiss K's left over from the last TDY guys. As fate dealt the deck, JJ Taliferro went down on the Black River 17 May, NVN and we were asked if we could make it. We did and that became our new job.
Tom and I worked out a dream sheet of what we needed for rescue NVN. Two engines, guns, armor, IFR, A-1 E's for suppression and sent it to Saigon! It was after picking up Rademacher and Wilson, that out of the blue one day, a CH-3C arrives from UBON with George to find out what their mission is! I believe around the first week in July. It sure wasn't the machine we wanted (Nothing was then)!
After briefing them and as George out-ranked me, I passed command of now, Det 1, 38th ARRS to him. Lt Col Krafka, CO, 38th ARRS told me that I was to retain command as the two H-3's were transferred to Rescue, but the Officers and crews were still under TAC. George being a helova fine guy, with two wars already under his belt, said no sweat, and he ran the H-3's while I had the whole mess! They made their first pickup of Frank Tullo on the 27 of July. Most of the time, they worked alone (one bird) out of Lima Site 36 for the deep north missions and we with two birds handled the panhandle. We--the 43 guys were extended to 180 day's TDY. Tom and his crew was shot down on 20 Sep, and Dick Laine's 43 was shot up bad, so we were down to one H-43. The Udorn Det filled in until we got two HH-43F's.
I was Det Co of the unit til Bayor came in with his guys, the quote "Original Jolly Green's" Since there were only two H-3's for them, we retrained some of the previously H-43 pilots and crews into the HH-43F's we now had, and I left with the rest of my guys around 10 to 12 Oct just under the 180 days TDY. (JOE BALLINGER)