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Personal Accounts

The picture of the EC-121 on the main page is a picture of PR-26 that was taken January 8, 1970 by Masaaki Hayakawa. He and his friends would take pictures of the planes at the base in Atsugi, Japan. He has graciously given me permission to use this picture on this site. More of his pictures can be found at his web site:  JET INTAKE US Navy and USMC aircraft in JAPAN 1968 - 1983  - http://usn-ac-japan.hp.infoseek.co.jp/  Picture copyright:  Masaaki Hayakawa  - mach3@yk.netlaputa.ne.jp

PR 26 in the air - date unknown - from Masaaki Hayakawa site - http://usn-ac-japan.hp.infoseek.co.jp/airloss/photo/ec-121m(145927).jpg

 

The following entries are compilations of information from e-mails, guestbook entries and other sources. If you have more information that you would like added, please contact me

 


Archived Guestbook 1 - Entry 1:

 Name - Delivan (Del) Young    Email - deltyoung (AT symbol) aol.com

 Date --     From - Rochester, NY

I was one of the 8 survivors from the PR-26 crash at Danang. I was a Lt. and an evaluator at the time. I was quite badley beat up and spent about 3 mos. recovering. Couldn't wait to get back on flight status and spent a little over 5 additional years on active duty. I don't know who pulled me out of the aircraft. would like to thank that individual who ever it may be.

(webmaster note: Mr. Young and Mr. Branks have since made contact.)

 

Archived Guestbook 1 - Entry 2:

 Name - Gerald W. Martin (Jerry)    Email - gerald.w.martin (AT symbol) boeing.com

 Date --     From - Seattle, WA


Was in VQ-1 from 69 to 71 and was standing at the north end of the runway when PR-26 crashed. Got there late to be of much good but lost good friends.

 

Archived Guestbook 1 - Entry 3:

 Name - Robert K. Ishler ATCS(Ret)    Email - Bobishler@aol.com

 Date --     From - Rochester, WA

I was one of the survivors of the PR-26 crash in Danang. I was probably the luckiest one on the crew because I was the only one that didn't have to go the hospital. I was the senior enlisted man in the back end and remember walking through the aircraft on approach and wondering if I should get my movie camera out and film the landing. I thought that I'd wait until sometime during the det. I then thought about taking the radar seat because the guy sitting there was a trainee (AT2 John Birch) and wouldn't know what to do if the pilot called for a practice radar approach. My next thought was he'd let me know if he wants too. Lucky for me, I decided to go to aft ditching station rather than moving everyone around. I can remember just before the crash seeing an orange glow out the aft port hole above the head. I presume it was when the wing hit the top of the hangar. I must have sensed something was wrong because I remember yelling to Don Holder to "hang on, I think we're in trouble." The next thing I remember is opening the door asking Don if he was OK; he said "yeah" and I jumped out. Someone on the ground asked me if anyone was in there and I said there was and he went in to help Don who really wasn't OK.

 

Information posted on other site - received permission to include it here

Brian Nickerson - brian (AT symbol) comfacs.com

The aircraft was an EC-121 with VQ-1. The squadron was attached to NAS Atsugi, Japan at the time, but the squadron had a detachment at Danang Airbase in Vietnam. The plane was landing at Danang with one engine feathered because of mechnical problems. As it is understood, the landing was not lined up correctly, so the pilot decided to abort the landing and go around for another try. Whether because of only having three engines or otherwise, the turn out from the landing pattern was too low, and the plane caught its wing on a US Air Force F-4 revetment hangar. This put the plane into a nose-down attitude and the crash happened almost immediately. A portion of the aft end of the plane broke away from the main fuselage. Eight of the crew in the aft section survived, including one person who walked off with a minor scratch.

 

Archived Guestbook 1 - Entry 5 and Entry 6:

 Name - Skip Klaas    Email - skip (AT symbol) kg.hsanet.net

 Date --     From - King George, VA


I served in VQ-2 from 1966-1969. I was the flight electrician on crew 26 before I left Atsugi to go back to college in the USA. AE2 floyd Andrus was my replacement on the crew. Had I not gotten really mad about 4 months before at something that happened to me in the squadron (had to move some LCDRs furniture at his house while the off base duty driver), I was going to ship over and stay with the crew for another tour.

I was in college living in Bettendorf, IA when I heard about the accident. Needless to say I just thought about how close that came to my name being on the list instead of Floyd's. God was watching over me.



On my previous post , I was in VQ-1 from 66-69. I later served in VQ-2 from 1973 to 1977.

 

 Archived Guestbook 1 - Entry 8:

 Name - Ken Stephens    Email - kenstep (AT symbol) pacbell.net

 Date --     From - Sacramento

I was an AT2 flying whales out of VQ-1 when PR-26 crashed. Lost some good friends and co-workers. Barry Searby was a close friend and I will always remember him.

 

Archived Guestbook 1 - Entry 13:

 Name - DeWitt P Harris    Email - bobwyte (AT symbol) aol.com

 Date --     From - TN.

 I was in VQ-1 from 63-67 remember a few names on that list .GOD bless them all.

 

Archived Guestbook 1 - Entry 14:

 Name - GREG G.COLLUCCI    Email - CABOSUNSET (AT symbol) WEBTV.NET

 Date --     From - CLIFTON,NJ.

I flew into Da Nang with VW-1 crew 7 on that Saturday March 21,1970.They had put the tail section,behind our revetment at FASU. I still have the Stars & Stripes articles & slides.I always ditched on the deck by the aft crew door.The seven survivors were lucky to have been pulled out by that airmen.

 

Archived Guestbook 1 - Entry 18:

 Name - Bob Schmidt    Email - bschmidt (AT symbol) otenet.gr

 Date --     From - Hania, Crete, Greece

Really great to find this site. I was the Asst. Safety Officer for VQ-1 and was on the accident investigation team for the accident. There was a Combat Photo team film taken of the crash. It was quite graphic in that it started only a few minutes after the impact and documented all the rescue efforts. It shows the crash crew vehicles arriving along with the survivors being loaded into the ambulance's. Last time I saw it was in early 1971. The CO. of the squadron had it in his personal position. Maybe some like Capt. J.D. Meir would know more about its eventual disposal.

 

Archived Guestbook 1 - Entry 19:

 Name - Morris Waxler    Email - mowax44 (AT symbol) aol.com

 Date --     From - Johnson City, TX

I was in an AE in VQ-1 in 1969-'71. Flight electrician, AE2 Floyd Andrus, was my buddy. I was in DaNang the day of the tragedy. God bless them all! Sorry I didn't know William Bletsch.   I have been searching for AE Charles Bingham,  suvivor of the crash, and other AEs from the VQ-1 Electric Shop,1969-'71. Connie, Thanks a million for this site!

 

Archived Guestbook 2 - Entry 37

Friday 10/11/2002 3:55:27pm

Name:  Don Holder

E-Mail: Accidentally deleted

Comments:

It's been over thirty years since the crash but it is still clear in my mind. I often think about all the friends that were lost and what their lives would be like today. The pain is not near as great as the day it happened, but the pain still lingers inside of me. Thanks for this memorial page.

 

Email received Thu, 13 Feb 2003 11:03:12 -0800

From:  Mike Rutledge

I was just "surfing" and came across your website.

Memories came flooding back!

I was working on a bomb rack in the weapons release shop (Air Force) and suddenly the lights went out.  I looked out the shop door and saw my  friend, Bill May, coming through the door.  Behind Bill was a wall of flame.   It was the EC121.  I actually didn't know what happened because I don't  recall any loud noise, just flames. It was a nasty sight.

We lost two F4's.  Bill had just returned from removing two Aero 7A missile launchers from one of our destroyed birds.  Too close!

To my knowledge we lost no one on the ground.

I remember walking over to Gunfighter Village later on and smelling the fire fighting foam.  All I could think about was the air crew.  I threw up!

By the way, your Danang under attack photos are actually pictures of the VNAF, Marine, and Air Force bomb dumps blowing up.  They burned for  about 18 hours.  The fire was an accident started by us, not the enemy.

Best regards,

Mike Rutledge

 

Email received:  Thu, 21 Aug 2003

From: Larry Sherman

I AM T/SGT LAWRENCE L SHERMAN AND WAS THE SUPERVISOR OF AIRMAN DAVID S. BRANKS AT THE TIME THAT THE EC121 CRASHED.  THE REASON WE WAS NOT WORKING IS BECAUSE I DECIDED WE HAD EARNED A DAY OFF SO I LET THE CREW GO.  THE AIRCRAFT CRASHED IN FRONT OF OUR HANGER AND WOULD HAVE KILLED OR HURT MANY MORE PERSONNEL ON THE GROUND.  THE DOCK CHIEF IN THE HANGER NEXT TO US ALSO TOLD HIS PEOPLE TO TAKE OFF SO, YOU SEE WE WAS LUCKY MORE PEOPLE WERE NOT HURT.  I SEE THAT THEY FINALLY GAVE DAVID S. BRANKS THE AIRMAN'S MEDAL THAT HE SHOULD HAVE GOTTEN BEFORE HE LEFT VIETNAM.  WE WERE MAD THAT THEY TURNED HIM DOWN IN VIETNAM.  AFTER THE CRASH A CAPTAIN BROUGHT AIRMAN BRANKS BACK TO THE BARRACKS ALL COVERED WITH LINES OF TAR ALL OVER HIS SHOULDER AND CHEST AND WANTED ME TO TAKE CARE OF HIM.  I TOLD THE CAPTAIN " YOU HAVE A JEEP TAKE HIM TO THE HOSPITAL WHERE THEY CAN HELP HIM"  WITHOUT A LOT OF PAIN.  HE WAS WEARING ONLY SHORTS AND SHOES AND I FELT GOING INTO SHOCK.  HE WAS A GREAT WORKER AND EARNED THE AIRMAN'S MEDAL.  I ONLY WISH HE COULD HAVE RECIEVED IT SOONER.  THEY SAID HE WAS JUST DOING HIS JOB.  I WORKED WITH HIM AND DO NOT REMEMBER THAT AS PART OF THE JOB.  TO SGT BRANKS JOB WELL DONE AND WAS GLAD TO KNOW YOU.

T/SGT LAWRENCE L SHERMAN RETIRED  HAMMOND OREGON      E  MAIL ADDRESS  LARRYSHERMAN (AT symbol) CHARTER.NET

 

Email received: Wed, 25 Feb 2004 03:42:30 +0000

From: Vernon L. Mills , son of Staff Sergeant Franklyn N. Mills

My father was on a scrounging expedition, typical for him per others I have spoken with, and (now this what he said, ten years later,...)

"it came over a roof and landed in front of me on the road. I just went went in and cut people loose so they could get out. Maybe a half dozen, maybe more, I don't remember".

According to a newspaper article I saw in a scrap book years later a fuel cell exploded injuring his left knee. That leg haunted him to the day he died.

 

Email received: Tue, 1 Mar 2005

From Chuck Harvie.

I was stationed at DaNang with the Navy Squadron VXN-8. Our squadron flew a Connie's, one out of DaNang and several out of Ton Son Nhut. Our DaNang Connie was located at the FASU Flt line. I did not see the crash but was told by our CO that morning that a Connie had crashed while landing. I could see the smoke from our flt line. Later that afternoon some of us drove over to the crash site to see what we could see. Later that evening a bunch of us went over to the Airforce side of the airbase to the Airman's Club. My memory may be failing me because it could be that we went to the "ZOO Club" located at the FASU compound. It was one or the other, but I am willing to say it is an 80% chance it was the Airman's Club. The only reason I am bringing this up is that while at the club I walked by a guy sitting at a table with a drink in his hand, don't remember his name, or how the conversation got started, but this guy was on PR26 when it crashed. He did not seem to be injured so I asked him where he was when the airplane crashed. He told me he was near the aft door. Ever since then whenever I flew on our plane I always sat in the rear at the seats around a table that was in our Connie just forward of the aft door during take offs and landings. The next day, or within a couple days after the crash, the larger pieces of the damaged aircraft were brought to the FASU flt line and stored there for awhile. I had my camera and took seven photos of the first piece being trucked over and unloaded and placed in the rivetment. I would like to send copies of the seven photos to you so you can post them on your site.

 

Email Received: 2010 Oct. 6

From Steve Westacott

MY NAME IS STEVE WESTACOTT. I WAS ABOARD PR26 ON 16 MAR. TODAY IS OCT 6, 2010. IN THE LAST FEW DAYS I HAVE HAD CONTACT WITH SOME OF MY FRIENDS FROM BACK THEN. I HAVE TO THANK PNCM JOHN WALLER WHO CONTACTED ME AND THAN HELPED ME FIND DAVID BRANKS WHO PULLED ME FROM THE WRECKAGE THAT DAY. I GOT TO TALK TO HIM A FEW DAY AGO AND HOPE TO GET TOGETHER IN THE NEAR FUTURE.

THANKS TO ALL THOSE WHO HELPED

GOD BLESS

 

Email received: 25 August 2011

From Larry Gibson, Major, USMC (Ret) lgibson (AT symbol) eastms.edu

I observed the crash.  I had just landed an R4D (C-47) on the same runway the EC-121 was approaching when it crashed.  We landed on the left runway of parallel runways, approaching from the south.  As I approached, the tower warned me that people were working just off the approach end and to be sure not to be too low while passing over them.  My landing was uneventful and I turned left off the runway and taxied back down the west side of the  field and shut down.  While walking toward the hangar, I saw the EC-121 on final approach about three fourths of a mile away.  Crossing the end of the runway at or below 100 feet, the pilot added power as he began waving off the landing.  As he did so, the nose began coming up and the plane began going into a right turn.  The bank continued to increase as the nose got higher.  I told my friend, “If he goes past thirty degrees angle of bank, there is a problem”.  The plane continued increasing its angle of bank until arriving at 90 degrees of bank.  By this time the plane was perhaps 400-500 feet in the air as it began falling vertically into the tops of the Air Force hangars.  All of this time the engines were roaring at full power.  The crash occurred probably a mile and a half away so we continued hearing the sound of the engines for six or seven seconds after observing the impact.  The initial cause of the accident was initiation of the “waveoff”, for whatever reason.  Once the waveoff was commenced, I think the pilot added too much power from the “two-engine” side (number three engine was feathered) which caused that wing to raise and the plane begin to turn right.  I would have thought the pilots would have practiced such situations sufficiently to be able to handle it but it appears to me that this is what happened.

2nd email to answer question:

I didn’t mean the pilots would practice the engine-out landings during missions, only that they would have probably practiced them at some time during initial check-out in the plane, etc.   I remember the expression “NATOPS Check Flight”.  Pilots would undergo an annual check flight of some type.  Of course, in a plane like the EC-121, another check pilot might just ride with the “checkee” during a regular mission and count his successful performance as the check flight.  Anyway, a more judicious application of the available “power” might have prevented the left wing rising and the turn commencing.

I think the presence of the workers at the end of the runway inadvertently caused the accident.  If they had not been there, it would have been a relatively simple straight-in landing with # 2 engine out which probably would not have been any big thing.

 

Guestbook Entry: Friday,  16 March 2012

by Philip J. Morneault

I've have had a hard time keeping the events of March 16, 1970 at Danang out of my mind this week and especially today. So, it must be time for me to tell of my experiences that day.

No, I was not one of the rescuers.

However, I would like to think that what I did kept the situation from getting worse. I was on the flight line that morning at the time of the crash. I saw the airplane attempt to get back in the air and the turn it took that led to the crash. It was turning and coming it the direction towards where I was. I could see that it was not going to make it.

At the time, I was driving a tractor hauling a trailer load of AIM 7 and Aim 9 missiles. When I saw the plane coming towards me I made a quick turn and accelerated to get out of the way just as the tip of the wing hit the revetment between the flight line and the taxi way. I barely got out of the way as the plane exploded on impact.

I saw people rushing to the plane to rescue personnel on board. To this day, I ask myself if I made the right decision to drive away with the explosives rather than stop and go help with rescue efforts. What if I had been able to save just one person? Would I have been able to make a difference? Did my actions of getting the explosives away from the crash site keep the situation from getting worse? There are no answers to these questions. Just more questions.

Maybe I will get the answers when I join them in the spirit world.

May they all RIP!!

Philip J. Morneault
former Staff Sergeant
366 Munitions Maintenance Squadron (366 MMS)
366 Tactical Fighter Wing, USAF
Danang, South Vietnam
From Sept. 1969 to Nov. 1971

 

Entry in Guestbook: 16 August 2012

by Ray Wasilewski

I was a BT1 and worked at POL fuel . I was driving around checking fuel valves for leaks with another 1st class. I remember we got to the baseball field when the plane hit the hanger, there was fire everywhere, We ran and got to the back of the plane that was not burning and with the help of others got the door opened and helped a navy chief out of the plane. then helped put some of the guys who passed on stretchers.  To this very day I have dreams of this crash,  I week later an Air America passenger crashed a 100 yards from me and crashed , it had clipped it's wing off with an F4 landing.  It was full of Vietnamese who all perished . I'll never forget these events.   I still pray for all those guys. 40 some years later I got out of the navy and became a pilot?????

 

Entry in Guestbook: 7 September 2012

by Gary Wheeling

I was a crew chief in the crash/rescue fire dept USAF .this crash was the worst crash I have ever responded too.it's been over 40 years and I can visualize every second of this crash.as a footnote several of us were told that we would receive the bronze star.this did not happen.after I returned to the states I mentioned this to my fire chief .he checked the status of this and he was told that danang had no records of me being there.I advised my chief to tell whoever to shove it

 

Entry in Guestbook: 2 December 2012

by Gary Wheeling

I was a crew chief in the air force fire dept.to this day I still remember responding to this crash.we had a lot action there,but by for this was the worst crash I had worked.

 

Email received: Saturday, 9 March 2013

From: Bob Carey

I was assigned to the 9th Special Operations Squadron at Danang that day and the aircraft ended up virtually adjacent to our revetments. Something has been festering in me for a long time and it is time to relieve my mind.  Several of us on the ground heard from reliable sources a different explanation than the government "mechanical failure"  story.  What we heard was that PR 26 was on an emergency approach with an engine out on the right wing when two South Vietnamese A-37 aircraft taxied out onto the runway for takeoff without clearance and when PR 26 attempted a go-around a second engine

failed on the right wing causing the aircraft to hook a F-4 revetment and cartwheel to the ground.  That would explain the tail section ending up about a block away on our baseball field.  By "reliable sources" I mean several people physically working on the flightline within view of the incident  I was flying missions with the 9th SOS at that time and felt like I was watching family perish as we stood on our blast wall staring at the carnage.

 

Guestbook entry: 17 March 2013

by Albert Litzow

I was attached to the 9 th SOS for most all of 1970 although I was officially with the Army 7th Psyops  Battalion . I virtually never went to lunch but that day was meeting an old friend at the NCO club. I had just stepped onto the baseball field when I heard radial engines going full throttle ( I had  Commercial ,instrument and multi engine ratings in civilian life) I looked up and there was a C121 headed virtually right at me. It was still relatively wings level and nose down as I turned and ran I heard it hit and looked around. I saw the fireball but more than that I saw the tail section virtually right over my head. I've never figured out if this was true but it appeared hundreds of feet up slowly flipping. It hit about 20 yds to the north of me. The next thing I saw was a young airman running full tilt towards the rear door, he starts pulling on the door handle, I started forward and was about yell "the fuselage is busted open",when the door opened from the  inside and this bent over airman dropped into the arms of the the runner. I also recall a middle section of the aircraft had come over the retaining wall and was resting on a tanker truck. We heard eleven had lived but I never found out if that was true at least for a little while. The response from rescue personnel was very quick.

 

Entry in Guestbook: 26 March 2013

by Norman L. Sparling

Served with VQ-1 1968 & 1969

 

Entry in Guestbook: 19 May 2013

by Ken Stephens

I was stationed in VQ-1 from 7/68 to 7/70. Flew as an enlisted crewman in A-3s. I was a close personal friend of Barry Searby. It has been 43 years and I still miss him. Sometimes I feel his presence. It sounds weird, but it is actually very comforting when that happens.

 

Entry in Guestbook: 11 October 2013

by Norman Roberts

I was a good friend of Barry's and shared a room with him in the NCO barracks in Atsugi, Japan. We also rented a small house together in Yamato, just outside the base. I didn't fly like Barry did, but took care of the aircraft communication systems on the ground crew. Barry and I hung out together quite a bit and he taught me a lot about photography, one of his passions. My memories of our friendship and time spent together will always be with me. Thanks to all who contribute to this site to keep those memories in our hearts.

 

Entry in Guestbook: 29 November 2013

by John Augustynowicz

I was on PR 24 when 26 crashed. They were our replacements. As I remember we were either in P.I. or Tiwan? We were told to go back to Da Nang. Lost a few good friends and I thing about them every year on Nov. 11th when I am in DC at the Wall.

 

Entry in Guestbook: 05 February 2014

by George Bletsch

You can find pictures of the actual crash happening ,under patrick wiggins at bottom of page 366th gunfighters site PICTURES OF DENANG NO57 ETC. LOOK FOR PATRICK WIGGINS NEAR BOTTOM

 

Entry in Guestbook: 03 March 2014

Richard Kirby

spray used to clean rails at hangers in Atsugi Japan VQ1 1967

I was stationed with VQ1 in 1967 was just an E3 at the time and cleaned the weeds from the rails that the hanger doors slid on with a herb-aside I believe it was agent orange brought in off manifest and we would spray it then scrap it the next day. I now have type 2 diabetes and and am applying for va benefits anyone that can confirm please write. Thank you.

 

Entry in Guestbook: 15 March 2014

AUGIE

As I sit in the central time zone at 2230 03/15/14 it is about the very min. PR 26 went down 44 years ago. May we never forget.

 

Entry in Guestbook: 05 April 2014

by Joe Ortega

I was an AK2 in maintance control when the plane went down. At first there was confusing over which squadrons plane it was, because VW1 was also due in. I helped unload the planes engines so they could be inspected. We all had friends and coworkers onboard. Guy Denton was my next door neighbor in Atsugi, may he RIP and  pray his family is well.

 

Email Received: 06 November 2014 1:46 PM

Frank H. Sands

Sgt, 4th TFS

I was a sgt in the 4th TFS.  SSgt LaVerne E. Jones and I were the first to reach the tail section within seconds of the crash.  There was not a loud noise, only a severe shaking of the building.  We ran out the back and past the building behind us and there was the tail.  There was one troop on the ground between a set of bleachers the was dead (looked like broken neck).  There were two lying just outside the open end of the tail.  One was dead, and the second was not breathing.  I thought  heard breath.  Ssgt stepped on the mans chest, and he really sucked in air.  I picked him up and carried he through the gate in the fence and laid him down.  I went back to the tail, and SSgt Jones was inside dragging another troop to the edge.  He handed him down and I carried him to where the other was laying.  I saw a medevac coming down, and i told two airman to keep the area clear so they could land.  I then went back to the tail.  There were two strapped in their seats.  Jones and i got them out and to the chopper.  All four of these guys seemed like they would make it.

I then went to the flight line and helped a little, before getting a duty roster and started a head count for our squadron.  We had two that went to the infirmary.  They were walking to lunch, and the aircraft came right at them...they were really shook up, but no physical damage.

I requested my military record to file a health claim about two years ago.  I my service records, there is a citation that was not acted on.  I applied to get the citation completed and was turned down by the Air Force.  The said there needed to be eye witnesses.  An eye witness wrote the thing.  I am debating whether to follow up.

I am glad i found out about this sight, as it explained a lot of things associated with this crash.  I can still see the big guy laying between the bleachers and couldn't understand why he didn't get up.  As I left to go to the flight line, I saw why.

All the best to you and yours.

 

Entry in Guestbook: 11 March 2015

by David Altman

This week i turned 66… I referenced my 21st. birthday, celebrated in DaNang, RVN…..

Forty-five years ago...On March 16th. 1970… a typical steamy hot sunny day in Viet Nam. A bunch of us had just come out of the squadron shack, just off of the flight line after hearing our det relief aircraft, PR 26 was on final approach. We joined the oddly uniformed crowd forming on the flight line already waiting to greet our squadron mates with beer and cold drinks icing in barrels… eager to greet our friends and get our mail…

In the crowd we jockeyed for position, watching as our EC-121 banked in final approach to the runway. In an instant it began to roll to the right… clipped its wing.. and cart-wheeled over two revetted F-4 phantoms and broke up into three pieces in a ball of fire.

In moments the crowd fragmented in all directions… i and others rushing to the crash site. I remember standing there… helpless as the fire crews worked heroically to extinguish the inferno and save who could be saved. Going through the wreckage i was crying… I thought of home and Lakewood and how far away it all was… and how alone and frightened i was and mostly how happy i was to still be alive.

In the blink of an eye.. we lost 23 of the 31 aboard. Fine men… the crew of PR-26.

I am still so very happy to be alive… and will always remember them, and hope to be worthy of this life.

 

Email received 15 November 2015

Donald Burnett
SP/5; 138th Avn Co (RR)

My name is Donald Burnett and I was a SP/5 (E-5) in the Army stationed at Da Nang from Jan 69 until our Unit (138th Avn Co (RR)) moved to Phu Bai to the north. My Unit Flightline was directly across the South end of the two Runways. I along with several other Crewchiefs were on the Flightline and actually noticed the Super Connie lost a engine on take off. We followed it as it came back around to make a landing. We were frozen as it aborted and attempted to "Go Around"  it banked right and caught it's wingtip on the Air Force F-4 concrete hangar and Cart wheeled in.

I found your page as I was looking for some other info at Da Nang. The web pages I found didn't list any Army units there. That set off the bell, why weren't we listed. In the process I came to your page and the memory came flooding back.

I have one other uncanny incident to relate. I left the Army in early 1972, knocked around for a Year and came to the realization I wasn't going anywhere. So I joined the US Coast Guard and became a Aviation Electriciansmate. My first duty station was Air Station Puerto Rico where I was assign to a Helo Gearbox change crew. In the process of working we happened to somehow get on my pyror  service and I related to seeing the Super Connie go in at Da Nang. The Supervising CPO about fell over as I told what I saw. His name was Glenn Ishler brother to CPO Robert K Ishler survivor. What were the odds of that happening?

My Army unit has a web page www.138thavnco.org with several photos of our flightline and the south end of Da Nang

 

Email received 30 November 2015

Walter C. Caiazza, MSgt. USAF (Ret.)
wcaiazza (AT) roadrunner.com

Due to Vietnamization, my 820th. Red Horse Engineering unit had returned to the US from Tuy Hoa Airbase. It had been part of and attached to the 366th Fighter Wing in the Da Nang. I was to have departed with the rest of my unit. Instead, about 12 or so of us remained behind to clean, package, balance our books and ship everything first to Da Nang and then to CONUS (Continental US). This would have been our last mission. I had been to Da Nang before. After arrival at Da Nang Air Base, we balanced and closed our unit's books, washed, cleaned, painted to US Department of Agriculture standards and packaged most of our equipment. We were close in placing them on a ship for return to the US, which in turn meant we would return home ourselves shortly there after. Then, a major aircraft accident occurred. It was March 16th. 1970. A Navy EC 121K , Super Constellation Aircraft crashed. Part of it landed in a service area between concrete hangers that protected F4C fighter jets within them. It was a mess. The concrete protection offered to the fighters worked. However, fuel from the crashed aircraft leaked and found its way on the ground into one hanger. The fuel caught fire and the F4C aircraft within the hanger was heavily damaged or destroyed. We had to return our equipment to use and supplement the local Civil Engineering Squadron in its clean up efforts. I remember, because while cleaning up all of the debris, we picked up a paperback book belonging to someone on the airplane. Its title was "The Last Voyage of the USS Pueblo". Some brave souls were lost that day. The accident also caused us to clean our equipment it all over again and delayed further our return to the land of the BIG BX.

 

Guestbook Entry 27 September 2015

Steve Sauer

I joined VAP-61 July 1970. Plane Captain on the RA-3B, fourth man on a 3 man crew. Detachments in Cubi Point and UTapao Thailand. Returned to Guam from Thailand and we were part of VQ-1. Within a week or so I was sent to the VQ-1 detachment at DaNang, June 1971 as flight line ground crew. I have found chute rigger 3rd class Bill Wallace on line within the last month or 2. Another Vapper we were buddies in DaNang with VQ-1 summer of 1971. He is still as beaucoup dinky dao as ever! Any body remembers us let me know.

 

Guestbook Entry 17 March 2016

Larry Coy

I was a pilot on the first Connie to arrive in Danang two days after the Tonkin Gulf "Incident" and continued six week deployments from Atsugi until leaving the Navy in November 1966. No facilities on base but slept in Tourane near the waterfront in original French house. Interesting times.

 

Guestbook Entry 17 March 2016

Max J Booe CTTCM(RET

After all these years did not know this Webb site existed.I spent two tours in both VQ1 and VQ2..one tour was From 69-73 in VQ-1.Stationed at Atsugi and made the move to Guam..That was my crew and believe that it was crew 6 that crashed in danang. I and my wife can remember we had one on my friends over for dinner before he went on deployment and can not remember his last name we always called him Tex and he Parrish in the crash.Had allot of good memories with that crew..

 

Guestbook Entry 20 March 2016

Richard Haver

I was in DaNang on March 16, 1970, watched PR-26 approach the south end of the runway on my way to the VQ-1 Det Bravo Admin Building to greet the crew. The hangers obscured my view of the final approach, then I saw everyone running toward the runway and a large black cloud emerge on the Air Force side of the base. I ran into the Building and hit the squadron radio calling for Deep Sea 26 to respond. Nothing heard except Deep Sea 32 heard the call and responded wanting to know what was going on. 31 was on track at the time. The Det Duty officer got in the squadron jeep and drove to the crash site. I took over as Det Duty Officer and went to the Spook Shack and got on the TTY to Kamie reporting that it appeared 26 had crashed. They patched it over to Building 181 in Atsugi and the NavSecGru Office in Charge took over the task of passing updates to Atsugi. My next task was to go to the crash site. The fire was out, my shipmates had been taken away by then, but the crypto and classified material on the plane had not been recovered. My task was to get this accomplished with the Det Bravo personnel in the area. Gathering Jim Masters' and Red Martin's things was both an honor and moment of great sadness. In the back of my mind I guess I knew that the "Blue Crew" was gone and nothing in VQ-1 would ever be the same again. We all went to the hospital that night to see who we could. I visited Del Young. He was awake, but not lucid. His head was a big as a pumpkin and badly battered. Sat with him for about and hour. Doctors said he would make a full recovery, but it would take some time. Flew a mission the next day in PR-25, the Det OinC reminded us the war was still going on and we had our job to do.

 

Guestbook Entry 20 March 2016

H.E.Gillins (ABH-2)

I was stationed at Midway Island & a lot of these Birds came through there as they were winding down there service to the Nation. It may be for all I know this bird passed through Midway enroute to DaNang? Midway was a hub of activity for Willy Victors in late 58 through the 60's while flying the DEW Line. We lost a WV Checkpool 16 on 1-22-61 in a crash that killed 9 folks. Thanks to a fellow Midway Vet we have found this site to help support the existing Willy Victor site. My respects to the crew of PR-26. It's good to keep the memories of these planes & crews alive.

 

Guestbook Entry 22 March 2016

William B. Leppert

Thanks for posting this site. I flew with VQ-1 in 1967 as a CT in Det Bravo from NCSP, San Miguel, P.I. I was there at the time of the rocket attack on July 15. I flew 38 missions. Some of my shipmates, including LCDR James Overstreet, were part of the fateful crew that perished ove the Sea of Japan when they were shot down by the N. Koreans in 1969. Although it has been 49 years since my time at DaNang, the memories remain fresh in my mind and I think of it often. I recommend the reading of a newly published book by authors, Richard Mobley and Edward Marolda, Knowing the Enemy, Naval Intelligence in Southeast Asia. There is reference to VQ-1 and the role it played during the Vietnam war. My e-mail is memphis@stjoelive.com, if anyone wishes to contact me.

 

Email 29 May 2016

William Taylor
raywasilewski (AT symbol) cox.net

Just found this article. I was one of the very first people at the scene when the Connie went into the hanger. I was watching a ball game next to the Air Force enlisted mens club. I was stationed at the Navy POL farm at the end of the airbase. Once everything stopped after the crash. And some of us realised what happened everyone there jumped into action. As I recall I helped take 5 deceased men of the crew off of the plane forward of the tail. I remember helping remove a Honda motor cycle out as well and it was unharmed I think it was around the middle of March . I have never forgotten this. At times still have dreams of it. My name is Ray T Wasilewski I was a BT1. US Navy. I was with another first class whose name escapes me after all these years. I know we were happy to have helped.

 

Guestbook Entry 26 June 2016

William Taylor

I was in VQ-1 from April of '69 to April of '71. I was an enlisted crewman in A-3s. and did one det south in one of the P-3s. I was in Atsugi when PR-26 crashed, but knew several of the guys on board well. Joe Saukaitis wasn't even "real" Navy, but a reservist doing his active stretch. Scott Purdom, Thurle Case, Floyd Andrus were all friends. Charlie Bingham was, too. He survived the crash.