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Wed, March 05, 2008                                                                                                                              SUBJECT: WHAT'S THE CHANCES

This is an after Vietnam story that will really hit hard.  I was the base education counselor at Charleston AFB in 2004 to 2006 and I was counseling a young SrAmn named FIKE.    When I advised him about his education issues we got talking and he seen all my helicopter pictures on my wall and I asked him if he had any relatives in Md and he stated " he had relatives in Ohio and Md. I asked if they lived in Friendsville, Md and he said " his grandmother lived there".  I also asked him if he had an uncle named Thomas Fike and he got this faraway look and said yes he had an uncle named Thomas and that he was killed in Vietnam. I looked him straight in the eyes and said yes I know, because I flew with him the day he was killed. He was the last Green Hornet to be killed and it was outside of Saigon. Another friend Richard T. King was the other door gunner and he got shot up pretty bad and was med-evacted out of Vietnam.  (BILL KASEMAN)

Fri, 22 Feb 2008                                                                                                                                                SUBJECT: SUPERSTITIONS

When I went back in 72 to Nam for a Special Ops mission, I found one day that only several of the older crewmen, I had known before, were flying with me. When I asked Sgt West why, he told me that the younger guys were superstitious about this being my third time over. But he would take care of it! And several days later everyone was rotating on my schedule. When I asked how he did it, he said that he told them, I'd never been hit, nor lost a man on my crew.  AND that as long as I had my good luck hat (a beat up Go-to-Hell type you couldn't wear anymore by regulation, that I figured was better than a baseball cap if I had to E & E) with me I couldn't be hit! Now thats a crock as you well know! But just as I was taxiing for what was to be my last combat mission up at AnLoc, Tower called me and told me to Hold! Thinking "Thank God! Its called off!" A jeep came up beside us and threw something aboard and Tower cleared me for takeoff.  Now thinking, "I'm getting too old for this shit!", I asked the FM what that was all about! "Hell Maj! You forgot your hat and they brought it out to you!", as he stuffed it behind my seat where I always carried it.  So superstitions work many ways! Got three pickups, didn't take a hit, and the hats hanging above my desk right now!           (JOE BALLINGER)

Fri, 22 Feb 2008                                                                                                                                                       SUBJECT: ENGINE FIRE

And an interesting engine fire on an H-3 at Hill in 1972.  The first winter after the school was moved there was a real bad one.  So some of us Ops guys went down to help Maintenance burn out engines after waterwashes.  On this day when I cranked # 2 first, it went BOOOM and blue fire flew out the intake and exhaust (and the Crew chiefs eyes did get big and he ran for a fire extinguisher). The EGT didnt go up much, but I shut it down and stood by fire handles for an engine fire.  Since nothing happened I decided to try # 1 with the Crew Chief now standing by with the extinguisher.  The same thing happened with another big BOOOM and I did another shutdown.  By this time there is a fire truck, the Wing DCM & Wing Co staff cars there too, with guys crawling all over both engines.  After both engines were inspected finding nothing, with the Wing DCM and Co leaning over my shoulder in the cabin asking me what I'm going to do.  I told them, "Try it one more time!" They both departed and I hit the # 2 start and it lit off like advertised.  So why not!  I lit off # 1 and it was fine too. After burnout I shut down and signed off the machine.  The next day, the DCM called me and told me what they had found out!  It seems the young airman in charge of the water cart got tired of it freezing up and put antifreeze in the water. And that sure makes for an exciting water burnout!


Thu, 21 Feb 2008                                                                                                                                                      SUBJECT: ENGINE FIRE

In 1972 I was at Hill AFB at a Wing Staff meeting when the question was asked, "What is the hand signals for engine fire?" Believe it or not, there wasnt one! So no one gave an answer except one wise ass Major.  "Its when the Crew Chiefs eyes get the size of saucers, and he runs like hell for a fire extinguisher!"  (JOE BALLINGER)

Mon, 4 Feb 2008                                                                                                                                                     SUBJECT: H-3 SALVAGE


Picture of the left side of CH-3E 64-14228 I took when my Peace Jolly (H-3 Foreign Military Sales for Tunisia) team salvaged it at Sheppard AFB in 1996.  I've been TDY to Sheppard since, found out about 228 at this junk yard, and visited it. Probably bought thru the base DRMO. When we parted it out, we did not take the engines, and the owner probably sold them for a nice profit. As well as 228, we parted out HH-3E 67-14712 that was there as a maintenance trainer, as well as the ole silver bird, 63-9677. The only thing we took off 677 was the J-4 gyro in the nose elect. compt., as we needed it for one of the Peace Jolly H-3's.  Prior to parting those 2 H-3's out, I went TDY  to evaluate the condition of the 3 H-3's at Sheppard and wrote a report.  I recommended that 677 be made available for the Air Force Museum program, but that fell on deaf ears.  If my memory serves me right, I believe 677 ended up at the White Sands Missile Range (and I think I heard that it's setting on it's side) 


Mon, 31 Dec 2007                                                                                                                                              SUBJECT: H-53 MEMORIES


Sad to see the 53 go.  One of my 43 pilots, Covey Campbell, was in the first or one of the first group of pilots to cross over to the HH-53 and went to Udorn with them in 1968.  When I was at NKP in 1974-75 I often sat outside the Fire Dept and watched the HH-53 and CH-53 flying around the yard.  Since I was an Assistant Fire Chief with my own pickup I also drove out to an area where the 53s did some transition work.  I finally got several rides on a CH-53 in Dec of 74.  Just being in the the helicopter when it lifted off to a hover and flew around the NKP area it was exciting to feel and sense the awesome power the 53 had.  I really wanted to rock and roll with guns, but, they would not let me do that.  I have very fond memories of those two flights mainly due to the crew that I was priviledged to ride with, Capt Hall, Capt Rye, Sgt Hermanson, and SSgt Hurley.  They died in a CH-53, 70-1628, crash near NKP on 24 Jan 75.  I also assisted in recovering their bodies. 


I got to know them quite well during training exercises for the Fire Dept.  They were the crew that seemed to always be picked to be available to provide training to my Crash Rescue Crews in the event of a serious emergency involving the CH/HH-53.  These are good and bad memories mixed together.  They were great guys and warriors.


I was also there when the CH-53 loaded with Security Police crashed on 13 May not to far from where the one crashe don 24 Jan.  Both were nasty tragic events for sure, but, the 13 May crash was the worst because of the higher number of causalities, 23.  The wreckage was upside down and had to cool before we could cut into the aircraft to remove the remains.  The Buffalo Hunter CH-3s flew the bodies back to NKP and placed them in some large cooled storage containers they had.


In todays AF where actual gunners are assigned to Rescue and AFSOC Helicopters I am sure I would try to train to be a gunner.  With helicopters going away in AFSOC I guess I would be in Rescue, however, the Osprey might be exciting to fly on.  But, the big old 53 was a thrill for me to catch a ride on. 


All together I have flown on HH-43s, Hueys (Army gunships) out of Long Bhinh, HH-3s, CH-53s, Civilian Bell Ranger, and believe it or not a Cobra in 1967 out of Bien Hoa which was a ride for sure.  Almost hitched a ride on a CH-47 Chinook out of Bien Hoa once, but, flight was cancelled due to maintenance problems.  Also, have time in AC-47s, HC-130s, HU-16s, C-123s, O1E Bird Dog, T-37 and T-38.  Guess you could say I was a Hitchhiker at a time in my life.


More good memories than bad to be sure.  (GARY PRUITT)

Wed, 07 Nov 2007                                                                                                                                    SUBJECT: AIR PARK PAVE LOWS

I mentioned before that we have a Pave in our air park here at Hurlburt.  A sad sentry at the gate as you drive in.  Sad because it seems to know that it has a lot of infils, exfils, and oher heated missions remaining in it.  Sad further knowing that it represents a national capability that will not be fully replaced, if ever, if at all.  CV-22 considered, IMHO.


The dedication for that air park Pave Low will be either 30 Nov or 14 Dec.  I'll forward some pictures.  It sure is clean with a high gloss coating.  There is now an older "J" model Pave Low (#433) in the air park at Kirtland AFB, outside Brimms Hall, named after Maj Dick Brimms, sole fatality in a Pave Low crash in Nevada.   (TOM GREEN)

Wed, 7 Nov 2007                                                                                                                                                             SUBJECT: I RECALL

I started in the H-3 by attending the first Factory School at the Sikorsky Plant in Stratford CN while I was still assigned to Malmstrom.  I was at the factory when they announced over the factory PA that President Kennedy had been killed in Dallas.


I returned to the Sikorsky Plant at least twice to ferry new H-3 C’s to Eglin AFB.  The new birds were slick silver with a gloss clear top coat.  As soon as we got them to Eglin TAC sent the silver birds to the depot at Mobile to have them painted olive drab.  The hydraulic fluid and engine oil used in the H-3 was a perfect solvent for the green paint they used.  The H-3’s were streaked in slimy green paint that ruined your flight suits, gloves and boots just doing a preflight.  This is where the “green giant” name and some less complimentary names got started.


The FOD shield was added to the aircraft early on after it was discovered that ice would build up on the cockpit overhead windows and cockpit roof and shed as the temp dropped taking out the engines.


The rescue hoist was added because the electric cargo handler turned hoist was too slow for combat and only had 100 ft of cable which was too short for the trees in SEA.  The new hoist would overheat the utility hydraulic system so they added a small electric hydraulic system cooling fan and radiator.


I went to Bangkok to ferry back a newly overhauled (IRAN) bird.  The radar altimeter and doppler fiberglass antenna covers under the nose were clearly marked “Do Not Paint” so they taped the signs and painted the covers.


The relief tube funnels were used to service the damper reservoirs.  Pulling the funnel on and off the hose ruined the end of the hose so a few inches of hose would get cut off.  After several cut offs over time some pilot would enter a write up that the relief tube hose was too short.  That write up was always cleared as ops checked by maintenance and found OK. 


I recall torturing one of the best and hardest working crew chiefs at NKP.  In SEA we always wrote with grease pencil the many call signs and frequencies on the inside of the wind screen so both pilots could see them.  I knew our crew chief always jumped into the cockpit and wiped off the markings as soon as we got out of the cockpit.  On our way back from a mission I reached out and wrote half the letters of some of the data on the outside.  We were all standing watching him trying to figure out why he couldn’t get all the letters to clean up.  I can see him reading this now and thinking “So you’re the SOB that did that.”  (JAY MERZ)



Tue, 23 Oct 2007                                                                                                                                            SUBJECT: H-43 CAPABILITY


The irony of all this is the H-43 now in the boneyard.  In 1964, we came up out of Kirtland to make a pickup off Buffalo Mtn (it peaked at 13,326), west of Colorado Springs , south of Leadville.  Then we had a fuel cache near Raton Pass and made one stop there.  A Piper Super Cub had crashed and was found by an USAF jet pilot. The downed pilot was a VIP local developer with some valuable documents with him, so it was given a high rescue priority! The original plan was to bail out some PJ's for recovery, but the winds being over 40 Kt were too high for that.  The Army Hueys at Ft Carson said they couldnt get that high  After refueling at Peterson, I followed a gutsy CAP woman pilot in moderate to severe turbulence to the site and found it on a ledge at about !0,500 ft with the pilot laying outside near the wreckage. There wasnt enuf room to land, so I hovered OGE at 10,500 for nearly twenty minutes while our medic and another crewman recovered the body (minor injuries, but he had frozen to death while in shock) and brought him up in a stokes litter!  Then my two crewmen with the briefcase and back to Peterson! Lets see the Osprey or ANY of our helicopters today try that! (JOE BALLINGER)



Wed, 3 Oct 2007                                                                                                                                                            SUBJECT: TECH REP


We had a Sikorsky Tech Rep at NKP in 65 by the name of Reuben Hardy. Wore fatigues like us and had a patch made "Civilian Advisor-Non Combatant"  He got us jeep fan belts from Bangkok to use on the H-3 transmission oil cooler when we couldnt get AF belts.  Just cut the time down to 25 hours until we could get the MilSpec ones and many other things to keep our two H-3 going!  



Sun, 30 Sep 2007                                                                                                                                           SUBJECT: H-19 SLING WORK

When I was with the school at Stead they did quite a bit of sling work with the students.  On the days I went to the sling work area I would fly out on one of the birds and be dropped off at the pad.  I worked two pads with two birds.  I would marshal one over the weight, hook them up and run out front and marshal them off,  theN high tail it to the other pad just as the second bird was on final. Didn't take long to get worn  out.  Some of the students couldn't hover well so I would run back out and move them back over the weight.  This got old and I finally resorted to picking up the weight and moving under the bird and hooking it up.  I also discovered that by grabbing the gear you could put the aircraft over the weight.  Oh yeah as the FNG on the first sling work no one mentioned the static electricity jolt.  Learned that real quick! (JIM MOORE)


Sat, 29 Sep 2007                                                                                                                                                         SUBJECT: PAVE LOW

A little history next week as I take one of the last two J-Models to the boneyard. The guys from ARINC (some of whom flew them since the 70s) will take the other one. (VINCE DEPERSIO)

Wed, 26 Sep 2007                                                                                                                              SUBJECT: AIRCRAFT TAIL NUMBERS

I dug out my form 5’s today and did the research. It sure was a stroll down memory lane. I did learn that the form 5 is not full of all the information we would like. In the early days they did not put tail numbers on the form.   I don’t know if anyone has sent you the tail numbers from the 703rd TASS Shaw AFB Sumter SC. These are from my form 5. They should sound familiar to some Dustys;  234, 695, 692, 679, 707, 700, 720, and 718    CRS says wow did we have that many there?? I guess when you are having FUN it all runs together. (HARVEY MELTZER)


Tue, 25 Sep 2007                                                                                                                          SUBJECT: DO YOU SMELL SOMETHING?


While flying out of Dak To, I had an opportunity to attach a “Sniffer” to my helicopter. It was a test of the device to see if it could pick up readings from enemy troop concentrations should we happen to fly over them. The sniffer measured the amount of ammonia given off by urine. Returning from a recon mission in the Prairie Fire area at a comfortable 3000 feet AGL, I saw the needle on the sniffer peg out. I did a 270 degree turn to try to identify the area, and the needle pegged out again as I crossed a draw on the side of a hill about five clicks east of Dak To. Several more turns were done to confirm the location. At Dak To, I checked with our Intel, who suggested I talk to someone in the 173rd, just moving into the area. I did, and was told “There isn’t anything out there! Now, go away.” We did not have any teams in the field at the moment, so I asked SOG for permission to test fire my rocket pods, since they might be out of alignment. Permission was granted, so my flight headed out to the east. Over flew the draw again, this time a little lower, and the sniffer pegged out again. This was a good place to check sight alignment. I fired a few rockets into the draw, and the small arms fire that resulted convinced me to go home. I reported the small arms fire to SOG. Two days later, we responded to a request for help from a company from the 173rd that was in danger of being over run by NVA. The company was on a hillside, just to the south, overlooking Dak To. The NVA had come from an area about five clicks east of the base, and were getting set to hit the base that night. Guess there wasn’t “anything out there” after all. (BOB STROUT)

Tue, 25 Sep 2007                                                                                                                              SUBJECT: BATTLE DAMAGE UH-1F/P


While deployed to Dak To, RVN, in support of the MAC-SOG mission, we got caught in the “Roles and Mission” battle going on between the AF and the Army regarding armed helicopters. We were scheduled to escort a VNAF H-34 carrying a SOG team leader to look for landing zones for an upcoming mission, when we were ordered to remove the Mini Guns. The SF guys are very resourceful, and soon I had two M-60 machine guns in my cabin doorways hanging from bungee cords. My wingman had one M-60, however his second gun was an M1919A4, .30 caliber gun they scrounged from the RVN army unit assigned to guard the Operating Base. We were armed, so off we flew.  In route, the guns, which had been charged, were bouncing up and down on the bungee cords. On the .30 caliber gun, the cord began to work back towards the trigger assembly, which did not have a trigger guard. The door gunner saw what was happening, and reached for the gun. Before he could grab it, the bungee cord reached the trigger and the gun started to fire, swinging towards the inside of the huey. He caught the gun and pulled the bungee cord off of the trigger, but not until several rounds had penetrated the fuel cell. Mission was over. We returned to Dak To, and called home for a new cell. The 14th ACW assigned C-47 brought fuel cell to us, and a message that when the aircraft was fixed, both helicopters were to return to Nha Trang until the “Roles and Missions” situation was resolved.  (BOB STROUT)

Tue, 25 Sep 2007                                                                                                                SUBJECT: MOSQUITO CONTROL H-19 STYLE

I was assigned to Missile Site Support at Plattsburg AFB in upstate New York. The Base Ops Officer came into the section one day and asked if anyone had ever done any aerial spraying. The silence said it all. He pointed to me and said, "You are flying to Pease tomorrow, check in with the Base Ops Officer".  The next morning I fired up one of our H-19s, and with a crew chief, headed for Pease AFB, NH. I landed at Pease and was directed to a hangar to park. There I was met by a Maintenance Officer. He looked over the 19 and told us to check in at the Guest Quarters and then come back. When we returned, a locally fabricated 100 gallon tank had been installed, complete with a jet engine fuel pump to pressurize the spray boom. The fuel pump was connected by a hose to a 20 foot boom that a team was trying to strap to the rear landing gear struts. I don't remember how they finally got it attached, but the struts were free and the boom was securely fastened. A couple of test runs and we found out we could get a pretty good spray pattern about 30 to 50 feet off the ground and flying at speed less than 30 knots. We spent the next two days spraying all the marshes surrounding the base, as well as the area around the housing area. I don't know what insecticide was used, but DDT was still acceptable in 1964. Must have worked pretty well, for I heard later that there were not too many mosquitoes that summer at Pease. I now consider myself a self qualified Aerial Spray Applicator.  With all the restrictions in effect these days, I doubt if a base CO could get away with this today. (BOB STROUT)