Updated: Jan 21, 2019
1969 Phu Cat AB Re-Visited
Our flight north out of Cam Ranh Bay took us out over the ocean and we stayed over the ocean until around Qui Nhon then turned due west for the 25mile trip to Phu Cat. All I could see of the flight was through this tiny window about knee high and everything below was layered in different colors of green.
In “Noble Canine” my recently release book, I talked about not being issued a weapon as soon as I got off the plane at the Bay. I didn’t know any better, I had this vision of being armed to the hilt. As I took in the other passengers, I counted 2 M-16’s and one 38 pistol a sidearm an Air Force crewman carried and that was as heavy as the weapons on board got. I got a little nervous as our C-130 turns westward and leaves the open sea for thick jungle canopy. I didn’t know this is the way it’s done here. There was a full load of unarmed military personnel flying on a wing and pray over darkest Vietnam which was pretty much most if not all of the country.
In six weeks, I would be flying south to Saigon, again no weapon. See “Noble Canine”
I guess I should say something about the aircraft we were flying in all those 50 years ago. Here’s what Wikipedia say’s: The Lockheed C-130 Hercules is an American four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft designed and built originally by Lockheed (now Lockheed Martin). Capable of using unprepared runways for takeoffs and landings. Unit cost: C-130E: $11.9 million, C-130H $30.1 million. First flight: 23 August 1954. Number built: Over 2,500 as of 2015. 70 C-130 Hercules were lost during the Vietnam War by combined U.S. Air Force and Marines use.
As I flew for my first ride in a military aircraft, I was very trusting and had complete faith that I would ‘arrive alive’ as we say in Florida. As we boarded the plane it was hot as hell on the inside, couldn’t touch the metal it was so hot. And it didn’t cool off until we reached cruising altitude. Very noisy air taxi. What I know is this, C-130‘s were real work-horses. Many a night, way off in the distance, I could see and hear the C-130’s mini’ guns and the solid ray of red energy floating downward to earth and ripping the ground, people, animals, enemy and, anything else that got in the way…to shreds.
This platform was the best weapon in Vietnam, second only to todays A-10 Thunderbolt II(Warthog). Combined, two of the best weapon systems on the planet.