Tactical Airlift in Southeast Asia

by Harry Heist

This story is from a firsthand account. It is not copyrighted unless noted but we request anyone using this for other than personal use to credit the author and the museum.
Notify of

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

I would like to thank Harry Heist for documenting the mission in which jet fuel and flares were used to bury the area’s the VC were using I was a crew member on one of the aircraft in that mission. Thanks so much. Ser ed May 1964 to May 1965.

Thanks to everyone but I found out what my problem was with C-130 landing at Da Nang May 30 1972 at 0330. It was in the wrong monthly report no wonder I couldn’t find out any thing. They had it in May 30 1971 and by luck I happened to see it going thru the internet looking for evidence. Everything it said that happened is what I recorded to the VA. So big thanks to everyone.

Ken Synder:
Just looking at this page and remembering things like the 36TAS at CCK in 1972 and our later trip through Africa transporting the war college students. Loved the closing comment from Sam McGowen below “TAC airlift was fun, MAC not so much.” So true of the transition to MAC. Remember going into MacDill as we transitioned to MAC. Checking into billeting, a MAC C-141 crew was also checking in. Their engineer got out his tape measure checked out the bed in his room and informed billeting it was not adequate. The whole C-141 crew got vouchers to go down town. Not “Little MAC” as I seem to remember we were known during and just after the transition. Called our on the road, TAC headquarters tactical airlift controllers (I forget their specific name) and complained about not being treated equally. On base rooms seemed fine to us and didn’t understand the C-141 crew’s problem. TAC higher headquarters said they felt our pain but at that point couldn’t do much about it. Things improved but the road was bumpy. Would love to talk to you. Excited to see your name.

Bob Zeman: I was stationed at Cam Ranh Bay ALCE from Aug 68-Aug69 which would have been before you got there. If you had to be somewhere, that would have been a good choice. Went TDY to Ban Me Thuot for a couple months in late 68 with a new mobile ALCE project.

I was stationed at Cam Rahm Bay with Det 2 ALCE 1971-71. Checking to see who on here might have been in the unit during that time.

Bob are you still around? I replied on 27 November 2018 but haven’t heard back from you. A buddy of mine who was stationed at CRB ALCE with me and Ban Me Thuot TDY took some video in 1969 and I do have copies. Shows ALCE and an 8mm drive around the base including the revetments and C-130s. I have very few pictures and no video other than that. I knew a Duty Officer there at CRB ALCE by that name in 68-69. Slender frame, glasses, graying hair. I’m pretty sure his name was Robert Collins. Nice guy as I remember, kind of quiet. I believe he was a Major when I knew him. Hope all is well with you.

Robert Collins is my grandfather.

My father was stationed in Don Maung, Thailand and was on an aircraft (1967) that had to make an emergency landing over Vietnam after kicking flares they lost engines on impact, to my knowledge no lives were lost. However, I am in need to find this flight number, aircraft make or any information that can be provided. I am currently trying to help him fight for VA benefits due to Agent Orange exposure that he has shown signs of. Please if anyone can help me with this I would be forever in you graces. Maps of the base in Don Maung (1967-1968) showing where building are located, where airman were housed (slept), building information of where they are located i.e. personal office, NCO, Medical, motor pool, etc.
He was there from 1967-1968

A few criticisms – first, it was in the Southwest Pacific AOA in World War II that troop carriers made their major mark. They were also active in Burma and were involved mostly in airborne operations in Western Europe. I was TDY to PACAF from TAC and served two tours in PACAF as a C-130 loadmaster. In between, I was on C-141s at Robins. I had to laugh at the way the engineers made a big deal out of going into Cam Ranh in C-141s. MAC air evacs were nothing after having a man die on your airplane then having to wash the cargo compartment out with a hose – the crew chief took one look and got sick and the fire department guy handed me the hose. When I went back to C-130s at Clark I felt like I’d come home. At Clark I was on the premier bomb crew in the wing and dropped something like 100 combined M-121 and Blu 82 bombs. I got a letter of commendation for my first drop. The FAC gave us a BDA of 100 KIA. After we dropped our two bombs, we spent the rest of the day shuttling into forward fields. I was so used to rockets and mortars that when we had attacks at Cam Ranh I never bothered to get out of bed. I became disgusted with MAC’s attitude when I was on C-141s and picked up a Charleston airplane that the idiot loadmaster had loaded with two pallets of mail for Udorn in front and two double-marrieds behind it. I tried to get MAC air freight to switch the load at Yokota because I knew there was only one 25 K-loader at Udorn. They said it wasn’t their problem. Sure enough, when we got to Udorn, I was told they only had the one K-loader and they couldn’t take the marrieds off to get to the mail. Furthermore, they had cargo for Bangkok. I ended up offloading the mail through the crew entrance door a bag at a time and no cargo for Bangkok. I wrote up a trip report but never heard anything back about it. From Clark I went to C-5s at Charleston and got there in September after the first one was delivered in June. The only place we flew in Vietnam was Cam Ranh. We were loaded down with master sergeants, most of whom had never had an overseas tour. By the time my third enlistment ended in 1975, I was so disgusted with MAC I said to hell with is and got out. TAC airlift was fun – MAC, not so much.

Was there any Air Force operations in Southeast Asia after 1975?

My father was the navigator and former roommate on the fatal 11JUN65 C-123 crash. This brief summary is the most detailed account that I have seen to date, which is frustrating and sad. Harry, thank you for your service.

Can anyone tell me best place to go to find out the flight i was on during a tactical airlift in south vietnam may 30th 1972. 834 was the main airlift providor during the timeline.

I was with the 3rd FSR, Okinawa, and left Kadena on a C-130 taking two 5 ton trucks to Da Nang and turned them over to VNMC. We went in under rocket fire but made it thru. Soon as I unloaded the trucks they took off before they got hit. There is no record of rocket attack but I know it’s real. We landed 30 May 1972 at 0330 a.m. If any one knows about this flight email me please.

A friend was stationed at Dover AFB from 1970 to 1973. He was a loadmaster on a C-141. Although he mainly flew to Europe and the Middle East, in 1971 he flew several missions to Vietnam. I would like to find some information about those flights to Vietnam in 1971, if possible. Unfortunately, he does not recall his unit. It appears to me that the 20th and 326th Military Airlift Squadrons operated C-141s. Any help would be appreciated.

My Grandfather, before he passed, said he wrote and published a tactical airlift combat operations manual between 1957-1968. I am trying to find out more about this. Anyone have any information? His name is Robert S. Collins.

The tactical airlift operations manual was Multi-command Manual 55-130. Your grandfather probably contributed to it. As I understand it, several people were involved. Bill “Bones” Blanton was one of the authors.

Was he a Major and stationed at Cam Ranh Bay ALCE in 68-69? I knew a Duty Officer there during that time.

Larry, I will have to check. He retired around ’70 as a Lt Col.

I was stationed in Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam, in 1969 and I can’t remember the squadron I was attached to. Any information would be appreciated.

14th Aerial Port was at Cam Ranh Bay, and that’s the only squadron I remember there. We flew in and out of there many times in 66-67. My only impressions of Cam Ranh were that it was a pretty big and very busy base, with no town outside the gates for a guy to go have a beer. Must have been kind of a bitch to have been stuck there for a year!!!

What were your duties? The aerial port was 14th but there were loadmasters assigned to Det. 2, 834th Air Division who flew with us in the C-130B rotational unit as second loadmasters on bomb drops.

my dad was over there, 834 air division det 1
wish i asked more questions

I am looking to locate an old friend colonel Ted Ireland who was stationed in Vung Tau Vietnam 1966 1967 he was with the USA air force