Khe Sanh was the staging area for the Lam
719 invasion because it was just 10
. Its 3200' runway
was ready for use
. For some reason the USAF always
called it Ham
Ngai. There was a continuous stream of C-130's flying in and out, so
arranged with the army to avoid
accidents. These corridors also helped smooth out the air
traffic. The inbound corrider was from Hue
the outbound corrider was to Quang
to the northeast.
February 24, 1971
first blocked out with a load of ARVN troops, cases of vegetables,
coops of chickens, and two pigs--when I got on the airplane I thought
that smell was familiar! However, as we taxied out Saigon Tea
(TSN ALCE) told us to return and take over another mission of a higher
(Combat Essential) priority.
So we and our troops and chickens and pigs taxied back in and
parked. We flew an empty airplane down to Vung
and picked up
. Because of our destination I
had the loadmaster put additional chains on it,
which he didn't appreciate (sorry, Steve).
Sanh was actually a piece of cake. The aluminum matting runway
was quite good, the corridors in and out went smoothly, the GCA whent
smoothly, and I even made a good landing. I was glad to be able
take Col. Rogers his mail from Det One too--I sure know how much
receiving or not receiving those letters can mean.
February 25, 1971
were spozed to carry a 35,000 lb. forklift to Khe Sanh but decided not
to because it was just too heavy.
Loadmaster Steve Hank reported that this two-axle 35,000-lb. forklift was way over the
single axle weight limitation on the floor. So after considerable
hassle with various colonels, majors, and captains we took drums of
Peneprime (used to keep dust down) instead.
Landing at Hue
told us that the antiskid system was
inoperative on one main wheel. But I decided to press on to Khe
Sanh anyway. Mission hacker.
Khe Sanh one wheel locked up and scrubbed a big bald spot into the tire
as it dragged its way down the runway (we can at least say we've left
our mark at Khe Sanh!)
We could have flown it out that way, but there was a spare available,
so flight engineer Bruno Fronzaglio changed the tire
As we taxied out to the runway, the
air was filled with choppers
the tower frequency was filled with instructions. Tower cleared
us to take off, so I put the power to max and released the
brakes. As we started to roll, a helicopter from the right flew
across the runway directly in front of us--idiot. I crammed on
the brakes and aborted the takeoff.
the props into reverse pitch and started backing the airplane up toward the beginning of the runway.
Meanwhile loadmaster Steve Hank opened the ramp and told me when we
reached the beginning again. With a wary eye out for helicopters we
leaped off for Danang
Our troublesome wheel was now leaking brake fluid, but fortunately we
had no more short field landings ahead. So we just
off the brake line (leaving 3 good wheel brakes) and leaped off for Tan Son Nhut feet wet.
crippled airplane punch
like war for my
taste. A rather disquieting day.
April 8, 1971
Withdrawal of the ARVN forces from Khe Sanh was complete and the
aluminum runways (now two) were disassembled for use elsewhere