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Nakhon Phanom During The Secret War 1962-1975

Arrival: My First Day

It just goes to show not everything in life goes according to plan. In truth, going to plan is almost always the exception!

My first day turned into my second day as well. Seems that we were scheduled to fly out on Contential Airlines from Travis in the late afternoon on August 24, 1969. I know the date well....it's my birthday. About an hour out over the Pacific we had engine trouble and the pilot elected to return to Travis. No problem, except that we were delayed past midnight to obtain another plane and for that reason lost a day credit in SEA. They gave us a free meal while we were waiting. Upon departure eveything went smoothly and we landed at Hickam in Hawaii all straining out the window to see Diamond Head. We then changed planes shortly thereafter and departed for Clark AFB in P.I.

About two hours away from Clark, we encountered severe terbulance and eveything not nailed down headed for the cealing including me as I was in process of lifting myself out of the seat headed for the bathroom. Suddenly I was rising on my own!! It was just a second earlier that I had released my seatbelt! I was sitting in the middle seat and when I grabbed both arms they went up in the air also along with me! There was a Tech Sgt sitting to my left and a MSgt on my right who pushed me back down into the seat. Turned out they had served together at Wright Pat as MT's or something like that which came in real handy a couple of minutes later. Two of the Stew's had been tossed in the air and landed hard.

The MSgt laid across the isle and held one of them down so that she would not be tossed again on the other side of the downdraft. Turned out she had a broken back and the other stew had a slash all the way across her face. The stew with the broken back was in the rear (about four rows back) of the place which had three bathrooms in the back. Two of them could not open the doors and had to remain inside the bathroom for the duration of the flight to Clark.

The only guy to get himself out of the bathroom was covered in you know what and sat next to me in his 1505's stinking for two hours and apologizing all the time. I told him not to worry about it as there was nothing he could do about it....but GOD what a stench!!

Once everyone on the plane was aware of the critical situation of the two stew's they started taking up a collection and I'd say if there was anyone who didn't throw in at least five bucks I'd be amazed. As soon as the plane landed on the tarmack an emergency crew removed the stews first before we disembarked and walked across the tarmack to the terminal....we met a bus about halfway. I've often wondered how the stew's made out. Is there anyone in the TLC who was on that flight? (Stranger things have happened!)

From there the rest of the flight to Bangkok was uneventful. Except I should add, unlike most others I never had a night in Bangkok on the way up country. We arrived - and then departed off on the C-130 for NKP about an hour and a half later. I can still remember looking out the little round window at the brown square in the green ocean of jungle on the way in....

The Gift