Monday, January 25, 2010

The Plane Crashes at Nha Trang Air Base 1969


Still no sun in the past 2 weeks now...a cold rain yesterday and now a cold front moves through. It seems more like March than January for the past couple of weeks. After yesterday reaching near 50 for a high, this week looks snowy, cloudy, and cold.

Yesterday my old radio buddy "Wulfie" and I headed to Coldwater to visit and old friend who is laid up in the Hospital with a serious infection. Kent's infection is due to the cancer fight that he is currently going through, and it appears the infection has entered where the "port" for the Chemotherapy is being administered. Kent is a pretty young man{upper 40s}, and he is in a pretty rough fight, but being the exercise freak he is, he's beating the double demons he is facing...my prayers are with him in this go.

As more normal January temperatures approach, Mom will be heading south to the Fort Myers area for the remainder of the winter....unlike the past years however, older brother Mike will be holding down the homestead, so no winterizing will be needed. It appears the temps in Florida have warmed up...got a couple calls from old friend Tom, who headed down to train horses for the winter in Central Florida, and things have returned to the 70s and 80s for highs.

Looking back at the 1969 Crashes of Nha Trang_____

I have mentioned several times, including here:


The plane crashes that I witnessed while stationed at Nha Trang during the Vietnam War....now being a Cop(Security Police) in the Air Force, stationed at various Air Force Bases, you invariably have witness of or secure plane crash locations...the 2 in the last part of 1969 are the ones that stick in my mind more than the others from my 4 year hitch.

The interesting thing is that I have had several comments and contacts from guys that were stationed there during the same time...they just happened to drop by this blog, either by accident or search. This past week I was contacted by a Army Vet who was stationed at our sister location, Camp McDermott, located on the perimeter of Nha Trang Air Base....Bruce Beagley contacted me, saying he had some old grainy black and white photos of the incidents. He sent those to me over the weekend, and I will share some with you today.

October 1969....Jet Goes the Wrong Way off Runway___
{photo at top of page left}

I remember it was my day off in October 1969, when a Air Force Jet Pilot crashed landed at the end of the Nha Trang Runway....I'm not sure of the real true story, but rumors were that he thought he was heading into Cam Rahn Bay, suffered combat damage, or was just landing the wrong way...what I do know are the results.

He crashed landed going the wrong way, not far from the Main Gate, being manned by a couple of fellow Law Enforcement guys with the 14th SPS, and their partner QCs from the RVN Air Force. The pilot went through the barrier fence and ended up going past the beach road that ran in front of the base before ending up in the sand. He survived, but 2 Army Troops were killed in a 1 1/2 ton{or 3/4 ton} as the Jet smashed into them....several civilians on the road were killed as well. I had seen several photos of the events, but the black and white one sent by Bruce seems to set the mood of that day.

Air Vietnam Sabotage 12/22/69_____

Air Vietnam was the Trans American airlines of it's day in South Vietnam. On a sunny hot day shortly before Christmas Day in 1969 I had received orders to transfer to Tan Son Nhut(Saigon) for the remainder of my tour...on that morning we received a call that there had been an explosion in mid air on a Air Vietnam DC 6 carrying a large number of passengers, it turns out that someone had blown a hole in the skin of the aircraft with some sort of explosive:



As the Cops and the Fire Protection guys were waiting near the runway, the plane sat down, bounced, and skidded off the end of the runway hitting a school house and parts of the shanty village located near the end of the runway...as you can see from the enclosed photos, it was a miracle that only 10 were killed on the plane, and 24 on the ground{although I have seen some reports that the numbers killed on the ground were much more than 24}.

Of the 6 months I spent at Nha Trang....these 2 events as well as the Rocket Attack on October 12, 1969, stand out as my biggest memories of my time on base. Thanks Again Bruce for the opportunity to use the photos.

The Rest of the Week____

It's gonna be a busy week Basketball wise....games tonight through Saturday night without a evening off....will see how the back and legs hold out. Plus Dartball tonight after I drive back from the Freshman game at Antwerp.


back later>>>>



Photos-Top and Left is the aftermath of the Air Force Jet after it overshot the runway and crashed on Nha Trang Beach...the other phots are from the Air Vietnam DC-6 that had a explosion in flight, landed and overshot the Nha Trang runway, finally hitting a school and out village and burning...10 were killed on the plane, and another 2 dozen on the ground...the color photo is one I took of the school in August 1969, before it was destroyed in the photo from 12/22/69...bottom is an Army Jeep that got caught in the resulting explosion, after the AV Prop Plane it the ground and burnt. The expression of the civilian women compared to the military personal is an interesting contrast.






































18 comments:

Harry J said...

Pat I remember the USAF I thought to be a F-106 crash the Air France I must have gone back to the world when it occured for I have no recallection of it,but another crash we had though less tragic was the Air America that landed then the nose gear collasped....

PRH....... said...

Harry...you were around for the F 106 ditch...but you had already left for the "World" when the Air Vietnam crash occured....I was on my way out the door 5 days later for Saigon and Tan Son Nhut.

I also remember the Nose Problem...I think we were on duty and they foamed the runway, or the Fire Protection guys put something of the same sort down...but lucky the plane made it in ok.

Good Memory as usual! :)

Mushy said...

Interesting stuff Pat...loved the photos too.

I think I only posted one story about a crash, but there were others at DaNang: http://mushysmoochings.blogspot.com/2007/11/if-rockets-were-not-enough.html

PRH....... said...

Thanks for the Link Mushy....I will take a gander at that.

Blowin' and Snowin' tonight....

FHB said...

Cool pictures. I just picked up a book on the last years in Nam. It's on the stack of books I'm gonna read. "The Forgotton Victories and Final Trajedy of Vietnam", or something like that. It covers the Abrams years. Lookin' forward to it.

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drhodder said...

Hey guys, I was the USAF crew chief working in the control tower when the Air Viet Nam DC-4 crashed. If anyone wishes to have my perspective just contact me either on the phone 605-341-1870 or email drhsanta@msn.com. Saw the aftermath of the F-100 from Tuy Hoa that crashed also. Went to the crash sites of both accidents. My tours were 1965-1970 and 1971-1972. Many other things occured during my tours, good and bad. Retired SM/SGT Douglas R. Hodder. Talk to you soon...Doug

Anonymous said...

hello from Louisiana...I was at Nha Trang when the F106 crashed.Was standing on the beach and witnessed it.Not a pretty sight.The vehicle was 3/4 ton with 2 ARVNs in it.I only remember 1 civilian on a bicycle who was plowed under.The plane came to rest about 50 yards up the beach from me.That pilot cracked out of the canopy,hit the beach and started running.By the time he got past me I figured I better start running too.I outran that by a LONG way.Of course to be fair, he was weaaring all that gear and I was wearing swimming trunks.By the way, I was with 1st Field Force,55th M.I. detachment.Our quarters were on hwy1

PRH....... said...

Always good to have different views and comments...we all saw it, or remember it, a bit different....thanks for stopping by.

Randy Waskowiak said...

I watched both the DC-6 crash and the F-100 crashes from beginning to end. I was sitting on a bunker in front of the old 201st Avn Co with my buddy Dan Bartholomew waiting for our aircraft to come back. Then out of the north the F-100 set down. Our eyes were glued on the aircraft as we didn't have jets like this in Nha Trang. The 1st thing that happened was a parachute came out of the tail of the F-100. It never opened and wasn't attached to the aircraft. It just rolled off to the side of the runway. The aircraft the proceeded down the runway with puffs of smoke coming off the wheels where the pilot was applying the brakes. Then when the plane reached the end of the runway it just kept going and hit a Army truck and others exploding into a ball of orange fire and came to a stop on the beach.
When the DC-6 crashed I was on the flight line in front of the old USAF hanger, now the 201st AVN Co hanger, working on my aircraft when I saw fire trucks running out to the runway and the DC-6 was flying very low just above my head. I could see that it has a big hole behind the cockpit area. It made several low passes and then it began to land coming from the south. It touched down and the first thing to come in contact with the runway was it's tail. The DC-6 then bounced around a bit and settled down and began to roll down the runway. I thought all was well at that point but when the aircraft reached the end of the runway it attempted to lift it's nose at about a 45 degree angle and then dropped to the ground exploding into a huge ball of fire.
Randy Waskowiak
Army
201st Aviation Co.
Mat 1969 to April 1970
rwaskowiak@gmail.com

Randy Waskowiak said...

I watched both the DC-6 crash and the F-100 crashes from beginning to end. I was sitting on a bunker in front of the old 201st Avn Co with my buddy Dan Bartholomew waiting for our aircraft to come back. Then out of the north the F-100 set down. Our eyes were glued on the aircraft as we didn't have jets like this in Nha Trang. The 1st thing that happened was a parachute came out of the tail of the F-100. It never opened and wasn't attached to the aircraft. It just rolled off to the side of the runway. The aircraft the proceeded down the runway with puffs of smoke coming off the wheels where the pilot was applying the brakes. Then when the plane reached the end of the runway it just kept going and hit a Army truck and others exploding into a ball of orange fire and came to a stop on the beach.
When the DC-6 crashed I was on the flight line in front of the old USAF hanger, now the 201st AVN Co hanger, working on my aircraft when I saw fire trucks running out to the runway and the DC-6 was flying very low just above my head. I could see that it has a big hole behind the cockpit area. It made several low passes and then it began to land coming from the south. It touched down and the first thing to come in contact with the runway was it's tail. The DC-6 then bounced around a bit and settled down and began to roll down the runway. I thought all was well at that point but when the aircraft reached the end of the runway it attempted to lift it's nose at about a 45 degree angle and then dropped to the ground exploding into a huge ball of fire.
Randy Waskowiak
Army
201st Aviation Co.
Mat 1969 to April 1970
rwaskowiak@gmail.com

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Robin Vo said...

My name is TRANG. I am Vietnamese. I am the SURVIVOR from the 1969 CRASH.

I was named after this city of Nha Trang where I was born.

I still remembered vividly the time where this airplane crashed into my little school.

I survived, survived again and again and again....

I hope to meet and share a tear with any survivor of this 1969 CRASH into my little school.

My email is twoloyal2@gmail.com



Pat Houseworth said...

^^^^Thanks for stopping by Trang, glad you are alive and well...I remember that day vividly from some 45 years ago.

Brad Harris said...

Hi Dr Hodder - did you ever meet my dad - Maj Russ Harris ?
He was stationed there at that time and spoke a couple times of aircraft crashes.

Anonymous said...

I was station at tent city on my way back to 297th motor pool (1969) and came upon the F100 crash, probably happen about 20 min. earlier. I took a few pictures, and still have them. Was not a pretty site. You have to fill bad for for those that were killed and hurt.

Ken Weller said...

I was also stationed at Nha Trang 69-70 and witnessed both of these crashes. I was USAF air traffic control GCA (ground controlled approach). Our unit was the green trailers with radar antenna rotating on top, located between the flight line and runway. We were next to SOS. I still remember opening the back door of our unit and watching the DC-6 land. As it passed by only a couple hundred feet from me I could see a male in dark pants and white shirt that I took for a flight steward making his way from the cabin to the cockpit. The large hole in the left side of the plane just aft of the cockpit was surrounded with jagged metal as if it had been caused by an explosion. It was large enough that I could see the man inside from head to toe trying to make his way forward. This was the worst thing I have ever witnessed. Once we were aware the wreckage came down on a daycare or school and most all children were killed, it was heart breaking. I still have days when I remember those little lives lost that day in such a horrible way. I wish we could have done more, we tried to get the pilot to go to Cam Ranh Bay where they had a much longer runway and were better equipped to handle his emergency and loss of hydraulics. The pilot was frantic and insisted on landing at Nha Trang. I never found out what caused the damage to the plane. I did not know that a child survived that day but glad to here that you did Trang. You were very lucky that day and I wish you all the best. Sgt Kenneth Weller