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Rodger Pettichord

memorable airplanes in action

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Hi all. The other night, I was half asleep and found  my memory drifting back to my time in Viet Nam and the planes I saw there over a five-year (1968-1973)  in-an-out series of assignments. I  was struck by how visually vivid some of those memories still were...A B-52 Arc Light strike; an F-4 coming in low and fast for an ordinance drop; a Kaman flightline fire copter suppressing the flames of a crashed jet; a Canberra making a low pass over the base on its pilot's end-of-tour mission;  A C-47 Spooky night-fire mission; a C-130 landing lopsided with one engine shot out and smoking. Made me wonder--this Forum must have others who were in Korea or Viet Nam. Any special memories of aircraft from those days?

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My hitch in the USAF ended in '60 so I missed Vietnam.  In training at Chanute we had some monuments parked (B47's and a B36) but just itinerant traffic.  Later at Paine Field, pre-Boeing, we had a squadron of F89 Scorpions, some Guard C119's, a C47 and a couple of H19 choppers.  My final assignment, Galena AK had two ready to launch F102's an H21 helo and an L20 (Beaver).   

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I was in the North Atlantic during Viet Nam, serving on the great WWII veteran aircraft carrier USS Wasp (CV, CVA, CVS 18).  When I was aboard, as a Quartermaster 3/c. we were in ASW duty.  We flew S2Fs, and A-4s, and it was always exciting during flight ops watching these birds take off and land.  We were home ported at Quonset Point, RI, (now Quonset Point State Airport, and nicely done as an Orbx freeware).  Then it was a venerable WWII era NAS.  While there I was invited along while the ships assistant navigator was doing his routine night flying required flights to stay current in a Grumman C1A, (COD version of the S2F).  Unlike civilian PAX aircraft, Naval aircraft have whatever PAX seating there is facing to the rear - greatly increases safety, but also greatly increases tendency to airsickness.  It started as fun, but ended in misery.  Nineteen years later, as a Naval Reservist, I was activated for the first Persian Gulf war (Desert Shield/Storm). Attached to COMFAIRMED, I was, among other assignments, Personnel Transfer Supervisor at NAS Jeddah, King Faisel Naval Base, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.  I transferred  personnel arriving form Stateside on C9s, C141s and  civilian charters, to C1As and other aircraft to deploy them to ships in the fleet (Red Sea) and elsewhere in SA.  There was a trio of P3s assigned to NAS Jeddah, as well.  Often "lulled" to sleep by the ROAR of their engines running up before a late night patrol mission.  A very interesting job in an interesting environment.  Seemed tough at the time, but it was a great experience.

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One of my favorite memories from 1966.  At a small dirtr  strip outside Da Nang that was supporting a 1st Cav op, a C-123 (or maybe it was a Caribou) came in for a real, real short field landing.  As it braked and reversed,  the co-pilot leaned out his window holding what looked like a large handkerchief so it would work like a braking parachute.  

 

One of my least favorites, but funny,  memories:  returning from R&R to the 1st Cav base in An Khe from Saigon on a C-130 with a load of replacements.  Not sure exactly what happened, but we didn't brake hard enough and slid off the end of the steel plate runway and into a ditch.  Much yelling and cursing.  Nobody hurt.  After a bit the side door opened and a large fellow without a shirt on came aboard and welcomed everybody to the 1st Cav.  The airplane was still there at the end of the runway when my tour ended a few months later.

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On 5/4/2018 at 10:59 PM, Ken Q said:

I was in the North Atlantic during Viet Nam, serving on the great WWII veteran aircraft carrier USS Wasp (CV, CVA, CVS 18).  When I was aboard, as a Quartermaster 3/c. we were in ASW duty.  We flew S2Fs, and A-4s, and it was always exciting during flight ops watching these birds take off and land.  We were home ported at Quonset Point, RI, (now Quonset Point State Airport, and nicely done as an Orbx freeware). 

Ken, I made a cruise on the Wasp with HS-7 in '70. Looking through the cruise book I found some names in N Div. you may remember.

 CDR Olds, QMCS Bryant, QM1 Miller, QM3 Denos, QM3 Vogel .

 

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26 minutes ago, JMBIII said:

Ken, I made a cruise on the Wasp with HS-7 in '70. Looking through the cruise book I found some names in N Div. you may remember.

 CDR Olds, QMCS Bryant, QM1 Miller, QM3 Denos, QM3 Vogel .

 

I remember them all especially Marty Vogel, and many others.  I was on board from March 1971 until just before decommissioning. I was transferred in May, 1973 to the USS Patterson (then) DE1061, (later) FF 1061.  

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Most important memories for me were first cruise on USS Forestal.  Shortly after arriving on station had ordnance prematurely released from A/C on flight deck with catastrophic results killing 135 crew members in a matter of minutes. Not what you call nice memories.  Returned home to repair the damage and transferred to HC-2 returned to Vietnam Aboard USS America CV 66.  I was very happy to serve as Plane Guard rescuing our guys when they had to ditch.  Although not as exciting as flying air strikes as before it was much more rewarding in my mind.

 

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Thanks people for your memories of Nam.. A different kind of war.. Keep em coming lads (at least until the Mod closes the thread). Teecee.

 

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Memories are one thing, comments are another.

The topic has already strayed from "memorable airplanes in action"

and it would be best if it returned to its subject.

Thanks.

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Gotcha, Nick

Along with a slew of bad ones.....one of my most pleasant ones was flying over the jungle northwest of DongHa in an L20 Grasshopper. on my way back from directing strikes  in Laos at the road being used by NVA to transport goodies south (We would cut the road in the afternoon, come back in the morning and it would be rebuilt).

I had the two side windows open and locked against the wing roots, and I could clearly smell the jungle below. Smelled like a florist shop.

Next day I found out I had been right over the area where an entire NVA division was camped awaiting start of the TET offensive.

Fortunately they had no way of knowing I was out of WP  2.75 rockets.

If they had known I would not be writing this.

 

That's as pleasant as I can get.

 

 

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In Phan Rang, there were Americans, Korneans, Vietnamese, and Australians operating. This thread so far has been all Americans. Any Aussies or Koreans or Vietnamese want to add a aircraft memory?

Edited by Rodger Pettichord
grammar = "a" should be "an"

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On 5/6/2018 at 3:47 PM, Rodger Pettichord said:

In Phan Rang, there were Americans, Korneans, Vietnamese, and Australians operating. This thread so far has been all Americans. Any Aussies or Koreans or Vietnamese want to add a aircraft memory?

I'm pretty sure there are not too many Viet Namese who frequent these forums to comment on the war, U.S troops who served in Viet Nam number 300,000 while Australian personal was approx. 60,000.  The 5 to 1 difference would account for more stories. 

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I was in the U.S. Army at Nha Trang.  Flew in a C-130, C-123K, and C-7 occasionally when going to different locations in country.  I had my private pilot certificate at the time, so really enjoyed the flights.

 

Gary

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gwhess--that's about as great a combination of planes as one could imagine. How lucky to get to fly in them. I was in C-130s quite a bit for in-country transport, and got a C-123 ride or two. Never got into a C-7, much to my regret. 

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On ‎5‎/‎14‎/‎2018 at 5:09 PM, Rodger Pettichord said:

gwhess--that's about as great a combination of planes as one could imagine. How lucky to get to fly in them. I was in C-130s quite a bit for in-country transport, and got a C-123 ride or two. Never got into a C-7, much to my regret. 

The C-7 was a nice plane!

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For twenty years my personal action plane was a PA20 (N6948K) - built in 1950, #53 off the line.  Along the way it gained an O320  (150hp) engine, double puck Cleveland brakes, Scott 3200 tailwheel, skylight mod, extended wing tips and a Borer 82" prop.  Not a SuperCub but higher gross weight and faster cruise.  I put about 3000 hours on that sweetheart and, from all reports, it's going great guns up in North Pole, AK.

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On 5/6/2018 at 10:53 AM, spud said:

Most important memories for me were first cruise on USS Forestal.  Shortly after arriving on station had ordnance prematurely released from A/C on flight deck with catastrophic results killing 135 crew members in a matter of minutes. Not what you call nice memories.  Returned home to repair the damage and transferred to HC-2 returned to Vietnam Aboard USS America CV 66.  I was very happy to serve as Plane Guard rescuing our guys when they had to ditch.  Although not as exciting as flying air strikes as before it was much more rewarding in my mind.

 

 

Ah, the Forestall.  One of my favorite memories of her was being tied up alongside her one night standing on the Happy Valley's (CVA-45) flight deck and watching the Forestall's hangar deck movie.  Yep, she was that big.

We tagged along to provide submarine  protection on her shakedown cruise to Gitmo.  

One of the things that the Navy learned from that cruise is that destroyers were not fast enough in a heavy sea state to keep up with their Supercarriers during operations.

 

Dale

 

 

 

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