Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Reminicing the Vietnam War

 
I arrived in a C-130 out of Clark AFB in July 1972 and left in May 1974. I was the lone human passenger and an E-3. I came from Malmstrom AFB and was a tool issue supply clerk with supply point experience in Minuteman Missiles (SAC). It was so cold in that plane I liked to have froze solid in my 1505 short-sleeved tropical uniform and the crew chief neglected me. 
 
1505 tropical uniform
To this day I would like to kick his arse.  Especially when by the time we actually landed, it was about a hundred degrees inside the cargo compartment of the plane.

Tent city was still going strong and I elected to move into a hootch from the open bay barrack that I stayed in the 1st week. That was awful with no fan and lizards all over the walls and ceilings combined with the National Geographic/Vietnam War in full swing with aircraft blasting the skies on afterburner. We had F-4 Phantom jets and when they took off in pairs it was so loud my ears would ring and all conversation would stop until it was over.

The point is I came when the base reopened and it was wild and woolly in the extreme. 19 bars opened up on the strip and a good number that were off limits. My buddy and roommate Tim Wheeler told me that in all the years he was in the AF, he remembers this time as the best.

There is a tale to be told in the middle and we all have them, but I was also there when most of the G.I’s and working girls left and many of the bars and stores closed and it was a quiet and very sad time. Takhli AFB and Bahn Takhli will always be a major part of my coming of age experience and like many, I cherish the memory and forget how many long hours I worked.

Just like when I arrived, I caught the freedom jet and I was the lone passenger leaving Takhli. I think this is one of the reasons so many airmen didn’t experience the “spitting” and derogatory remarks of protestors. Many of us came back one at a time and we made very small imprints on agitators. I have always claimed and believe I would have knocked the teeth out of anyone who spit on me because I was in uniform.

I would be interested in your initial response when you arrived. I remember the jungle humid mildew smell when the door opened on that C-130 and the thought that I would have to spend a year in this jungle hell-hole. So my initial thought was very sad and very negative. it changed very shortly when the world class adventure began.
Freedom bird back to the States (not mine)

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

W Ledgewood: 29 August 1969 took off from Travis. It was a commercial charter and they reconfigured the seats so there wasn't hardly any leg room. The flight attendants only sure beverages at certain times. Food? I don't remember any food???!! Stopped in Hawaii, for about 45 minutes, then landed at Clark. Everyone had to deplane and there was barely enough room for everyone to sit even on the floor. It was early in the morning and everyone was trying to find someplace to stretch out and snooze. When we landed at Clark, we heard about the flight prior to ours, hit some turbulent and many of the passengers flew up and hit the ceiling. One flight attendant, flew up and hurt her back. She landed in front of the bathroom door. An airman was in there and had to wait for the aircraft to return to Hawaii, before they could move the attendant. Finally arriving in Bangkok was such a relief. Spent the night and rode in a C-130 to Takhli that next morning. The only military aircraft I rode in during my 4 year tour! Left Bangkok 29 Aug 1970, 8 hours late. There wasn't a fresh flight crew. Stopped in Okinawa then on to America. We didn't catch the jet stream and had to stop in Seattle/Tacoma airport to refuel. Arrived at Travis and my ride was still there waiting for me.

Anonymous said...

J. Nix: Was at Takhli for only about 4 months, right before the'71 closure. I do remember the heat and gecko's all over the walls. Sent to Ubon (MUCH better than Takhli in every way) for the remaining 8 mo. of my tour. I'd heard later that the reopening of Takhli was one big clusterf&%k though. I was tdy'd to Guam during that time...6 mo. there, then back to March AFB. They sent everyone BACK for another 6 mo. but I was too short and got the hell out.


G. Johnston: I had spent the past 16 months at Lackland and Clark. I thought that I knew the definition of "hot", that is until they opened the ramp of our C130 after we landed at Takhli. I learned a whole new definition to the word "hot".

G. Williams: Landed at Don Moung in Feb 69, first thing that hit me was the heat and humidity. Coming from Pa in the winter it was a real shock. Second thing I noticed was a distinct odor, both in Bangkok and Takhli that I never identified but it was there. Thái people were friendly but a little pushy, at least at Don Moung. Flew Braniff charter to Thailand, Continental charter back to the world.

Anonymous said...

K. Fairchild: Got on a stretch 8 at Holloman. Flying Tiger's Airline Had no idea where we was going. Got in the air and shortly the pilot comes on the intercom told us our next stop was Anchorage, then yacota, Clark, then inhale destination Takhli Thailand. Everyone headed to phones in Anchorage to call home and tell everyone where we was going. Plane blew 6 or 7 tires at Yakota and damn near went though the fence at the end of runway. Had 3 or 4 hour layover to change tires. Went to Clark uneventfully then Takhli about 4 in the morning.


Bert Marshall: Travis AFB to Alaska, Yakota, and then Clark by Flying Tigers also. Boy was that ever a cramped flight and I sat in the last seat by the latrine so it did not recline. RHIP did not include E-3's.

:
J. Emanuel Went on a Cope Thunder out of Kadena to Clark. Our ride, 130, did not have a working ECS. The driver took a poll, did we want to go without and suffer or wait it out? Press on. We were a little ripe upon arrival.

Anonymous said...

C. Brill: The heat, humidity and odors are probably what every service member thinks of Thailand when they first arrived.

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