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.
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.