Hello again Jack,
I have e-mailed you before. I just reviewed some of your history again and noted the May 18, '72 loss of a C130 on takeoff at Kontum. I witnessed that loss and was struck by the accuracy of your detail. After the aircraft crashed, ours and several other aircraft (maybe 4) flew to the site to try to recover bodies. We were amazed to find one person walking out and another found under a pile of burning rubbish. It was also a little odd to see the wood pallets holding ammo burning and fuel bladders spewing fire like a blowtorch. As I held the controls and the other pilot and two gunners searched, we began taking mortars just outside the crash site. None of the crew could hear it over the noise of the moment but, some of the others did and soon it was down to just us. By that time I was taking rocks and debris off the right rear as they walked in the mortars. Fortunately my guys finally heard it and came running. The other pilot was so tired from smoke inhalation that he did not get into the aircraft but just stood on the skid toe-plate and smiled. I got to 2500 ft before he even thought about getting in.
By the time we left the AO, POL was ablaze and we made one last pass down the runway to look for anyone left behind. We went back to Holloway. Prior to that we lost a door-gunner aboard my aircraft while rescuing one American and several Vietnamese from an overrun firebase. I have that mission on audio-tape. At any rate, I never understood the severity of the situation in total until I found your site.
Thanks, a fellow pilot
REFLECTIONS: I have received a number of e-mails about the C-130 that crashed trying to take-off with his back ramp down. There is an entry in the Memories Book about it. One can only imagine the terror that went through the pilot's mind as he realized the aircraft wouldn't rotate for take-off with the ramp down. Most of us who flew have stories of mistakes made that could have cost all those who were aboard our aircraft their lives. I remember one of my first missions in Vietnam with a young warrant officer, he must have been all of 19 or 20 years old. I remember how old his eyes looked... A small mistake, a bad judgment, a momentary distraction and the die was cast... Many of us know that we survived in-spite of ourselves... it could have been me.