Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Attack of July 15, 1967 on the Danang Airbase

Of the many attacks on the Danang airbase, the artillery attack on the morning of July 15, 1967 was the most devastating. A total of 83 NVA 122mm and 140mm rockets hit the base in the early hours before dawn. We suffered 8 killed, 175 wounded, 10 aircraft destroyed and 49 aircraft damaged.

I was working the grave shift in the 366th AEMS shop at the south end of the base. The NVA artillery unit working south of Danang began a sustained attack that morning. One of the first rounds hit the building we had vacated the week before. Had we not vacated the building I, and many other AEMS personnel, would probably have been killed as the shop took at least one direct hit:



The APO mail distribution directly across the road from the old shop caught the blast and shrapnel:





Our new shop compound, where I was during this attack, took several very close rounds. Both of our buildings, just beyond the photo recon trailer, had shrapnel damage:


The 140mm Russian-made rocket (Katyusha) is a contact shell meant to hit anything above ground level with shrapnel (see the mail building above):



This crater shows that the 122mm Chinese-made rocket is a penatrator for cratering:

Remains of AC130:

In all, we had over 60 aircraft destroyed or damaged. In addition to the 83 NVA artillery shells that hit, our own bombs on aircraft at the south end of the field cooked off. We probably sustained more damage on the flight line due to our own ordinance:



The south cantonment area across the road from the flight line was heavily damaged by rocket fire:

















The crew of this crash truck were killed when a 250 pound bomb on an F4 cooked off while they were fighting the fire. Three of the crew were the morning bartenders at the compound snake pit (beer garden). We lost some fine friends:






Damage to the old French revetments is testimony to the force of the bombs on our armed aircraft going off. The pictures were taken after the F4 wreckage was removed:







 As I noted earlier, these pictures were collected across the 'net. My personal pictures of my tours in Vietnam were destroyed. However, many were nearly identical to these.


46 comments:

  1. Hi Fisherman,

    I was at Danang AB from the first week of Jan '67 to 20 Dec '67. I had been looking for some info on the web about that period, but, until I found your page today, I hadn't had much luck. I worked at the Finance Office, so, I might have processed you in or out, or paid you in piasters. I lived in tent B-4 in the cantonement area, and had a couple of people I knew killed in one of the barracks which appear in your pictures. Their names were Jerald Sumida and James Price.
    They worked in the CQ's office next to the office I worked in. They died in their bunks, by one of the first rockets to hit. One of the mortars in the Feb. attack hit the building behind the one I worked in, and some shrapnel tore through our office, narrowly missing all six of us. We had hit the deck as we heard the round coming in. I retrieved a piece of that shrapnel as a souvenir! I came out unscathed, as I hope you did too. I was ready to "didi" when my rotation date arrived.

    Thanks for posting the pics and especially the stats. I hadn't heard the actual numbers, before reading your page. I did have the unpleasant job of closing out the pay records of the fire-crew killed in the July attack. I imagine you know that they were declared "Missing in action" initially. Very sad for their families.

    Thanks again, fellow Vietnam vet!

    Frank

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    1. Hello Frank,

      Good to hear from you and glad you found the site. It's hard to believe that was 47 years ago. I haven't heard from many but have run across a few 366th vets. http://366th-tfw.net/ used to have a message board but the site hasn't been maintained since Don Bach passed away in 2002. There is some more info at http://366fightergroupassoc.org/ as well.

      Take care and thanks for service,

      Daniel

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    2. Have a question. Were there any Air Force Weather Observers killed in that or subsequent attacks?

      Thank you

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    3. Hi David. Thanks for visiting the site. Although I have the dates and total casualties for the many attacks at Danang, I don't have a breakdown by unit. The 3 killed in the July 15, 1967 that I knew personally were on the crash truck.

      Daniel

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    4. Thanks for the pics,I was probably the only Army guy there at the time. I was in a hanger waiting to go to Chu Lai to see my brother a Seebee there. It was set up by the Stars And Stripes newspaper. I was with a new guy fresh out of jungle training and was always curious what became of him. Thanks again Dave

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    5. Hey, my name is Curtis J. EDWARDS and I was in Nam in 1966-1967. I was in the Air Force stationed at Da Nang Air Base. I was in the 366th Combat Support Group. I was stationed at Da Nang during the rocket attack on July 15, 1967. I went by Joe back then. I remember this attack well. I was in one of the barracks that was hit, and I was hit with scrapnell. We made it out of the barracks, but my best friend was hit pretty bad. His guts were coming out from where he was struck with scrappiness, so I found a box to put them in. Later the medic came, and he saw he was my friend was in such bad shape that he transferred him to a hospital ship. I never heard if he made it or not. I will never forget the many wounded airmen, especially those who were burned from the fires started by the rockets. I worked in the finance office. One of my jobs was to to send the records home of those who were MIA or KIA, which was not any fun. The morning after the attack, I helped put out smoldering fires, and helped pick up pieces of barracks. Still get flashbacks from this attack from time to time.

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    6. Hi Curtis,

      My name is Philip "Frank" Osborne. I remember you from the Finance Office. In fact, I have a photo of you in the office. I have attached a copy, and some other pictures.

      I am very happy to hear that you survived, and are still alive. You are the 3rd person I have been in contact with, from the Air Force. Two, including you, were at Danang, and one was in Basic Training at Lackland AFB with me. I have photos of several others who were at the Danang AB Finance Office.

      I don't know if you remember, but the hole in the door behind you, in the photo, was made by a piece of shrapnel from a mortar that hit the Officers Quarters building, behind the Finance Office. That shell was my introduction to the war zone. I still have that piece of shrapnel, which passed through the office and exited through the screened window on the opposite side. Fortunately, we heard the round come whistling in, and we all hit the deck before it exploded. That attack was on Feb. 2nd., 1967.
      I remember that one because it was the first attack on Danang AB, and happened 2 days after my 21st. birthday.

      Two people that we knew, who worked in the Charge of Quarters office, on the other side of that door, were killed in the barracks area, in the July 15th attack, along with 6 fire fighters. Their names were Jerald Sumida and James Price. R.I.P.

      Your experience was horrendous, to say the least. You are lucky to have lived to tell the tale. It's hard to believe it has been 50 years, but the memories are vivid, still!!!

      Be sure to share any other memories you have of the gang from the Finance Office. I am hoping to share some more of my photos with them.

      Wishing you the Very Best, and Thanks for your service!

      SSGT Philip "Frank" Osborne

      PS I initially made the mistake of replying by email, on Sept. 21st., to your comment from this site, which is a "No Reply" email address. Later, I realized my error, so I am posting this reply to you now. I hope it gets through. I don't know if photos can be attached to these comments??? If your photo doesn't post, that is the reason. I will look for another way to post the attached photos.

      6 Attachments

      PPS Do not PREVIEW your comments on this site. I did this once, and lost the entire comment. Just hit Publish when your comment is complete.

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    7. I would love to have the pix you mentioned, and any more info you could send. Please send to jedw455165@yahoo.com. The pix did not come through. Also e mail me your address so we could get together. I live in Hermitage, TN, just outside of Nashville, TN

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    8. I was there basically the same time as you. I vividly remember the July attack I was part of the intelligence team briefing, debriefing, creating and supplying mission materials for crews. My barracks was one that was hit. It was the last barracks on the row. I had just been told by a runner to report for duty...it was very early morning, but I thought it was still the middle of the night, completely groggy and trying to wake up and get dressed. There were several very pretty flashes...a little like fireworks and they seemed to get closer and closer when suddenly my mind started working and I heard the explosions. I hit the deck and started yelling in-coming.My bunk area was one bunk from the door and I could have sworn I was crawling, but not getting anywhere. I pulled my buddy out of his bunk and made it out of the door on my belly toward the bunker. The barracks had already been hit. It seemed surreal and in slow motion at the time. When all clear was signaled I caught a ride on a jeep to the command post. It was two or three hours later that the commander commented on the fact that I had no shoes or socks. First time I had noticed.

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  2. Hi Daniel,

    Thanks for your response.

    I have actually found one guy I knew, on the message board. I will be trying to contact him later today. It's a long shot, as his message (and e-mail address) is dated 2003. After 11 years he probably doesn't have the same e-mail address.
    His name is Mike Carson. He was from Denver, CO. I believe. I have some photos of some of my fellow airmen who worked in the Finance Office, which I would like to send to them, if I can locate them.

    I remember that the camaraderie was very good among the group, despite the
    difficult circumstances.

    Wishing you the best!

    (S/SGT) Philip (Frank) Osborne

    Kansas City, MO

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  3. Hello! I was cleaning out my shed the other day and found this book about my town, Sandstone, MN the Quarry City. Anyway, in it I found a sentence in there that my dad was in the Viet Cong tet offensive in 1967. Pardon me if I'm not saying it correctly. My dad would never talk about Viet Nam so I thought I would Google the info and found your blog. Now I have a small idea of what he saw that day. His name was TSgt or MSgt, not sure when he got promoted, before or after Viet Nam, Vergil E Nielsen. He was a jet engine technician. Thank you for posting this. He's gone now, died Sept 17, 2002 but I think about him always.

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  4. Hi Christy,

    I appreciate your comments and glad the information posted here was of value. I didn't know your dad personally but I knew them all in a way.

    The actual Tet offensive was in late January of 1968. We began taking artillery at Danang in February of 1967 with the attack of July 1967 being the heaviest. We were a prime target of the NVA due to our air campaign over North Vietnam, our interdiction of the Ho Chi Minh Trail and tactical support for places such as Khe Sanh. We were flying 90 missions a day by late 1967.

    Your dad would have been there during this period and been quite busy. We may have worked on the same planes at the same time as we avionics types also took care of engine instrumentation. We certainly shared the same flight line and the engine shop was very close to ours.

    Take care,

    Daniel

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    1. Good Morning, Daniel,

      Thank you very much for sharing this, I'll also share it with my sisters as we never knew anything about that part of his life. I appreciate your blog and that you answered so quickly. Thank you again!

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    2. just came across your site I was on the south end of the runway in the f-4 fuel shop. luckily we got tired of waiting for c-rations to be dropped off and caught a ride to main base to get midnight chow. we ate and were on our way back and the attack started we were on the road in front of the POL dump not more than 100yds. away. we crashed in the guards bunker and several people jumped in on top of us. the fuel tanks were being hit hard and started cooking off. A night from hell. It took us about 4 hrs. to get back to our area with all the damage. I remember the fire crash crew being killed and also remember a crash truck driving right through the fence to get to a barracks that had caught a rocket. What a sad night

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  5. This happened on my dad's first day in country at Da Nang A.B. His barracks was one the barracks that was hit. He was lucky to have come away injured

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  6. My late uncle, Bob Maloy, was Wing Commander of the 366th TFW at the time of this attack.

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  7. Hi Bryan and thanks for the posting you comment. I recall Col. Maloy as being a very well respected commander and pilot. When he was shot down it was very tense until he was rescued. If memory serves me, he came out of the incident with only minor injuries from the ejection.

    Daniel

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  8. I was there also for the July 15th '67 as well as Tet '68 attacks. during this time period if memory serves me correct, we were switching places with the VNAF. They went to the North end and we went to the south end of the flightline. Anyone remember when the viet govt sent a surveying team onto Danang? We got clobbered shortly after. I worked the flight line on F-4's as an jet engine mechanic and remember well the sniper fire, mortar and rocket attacks. July 15th I remember well as I was on the Flight Line when the attack happened. It was chaos. I hope alot of my buddies are still alive and would love to hear from them. A2C Thomas Twitchell

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  9. Wow, I have been looking for a long time trying to find out this attack. I was there and still have night mares of it. I was in the 366th Security Police and that night was in a perimeter tower behind the barracks area that was hit so hard. I was unable to get down out of the tower because of all the incoming and the fires. I have had bad dreams of the night, I can still hear the calls for help and see the flames. It has taken me 50 years to seek help to try and clear my mind. With the help of the VA here in Cheyenne, Wy I am getting better. Would be great to here from any of my old friends from that time. I was also in the 377th in Saigon in 68/69.
    Robert D joy Sgt

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  10. I was there the night of the july 15th rocket attack and remember it like it was yesterday. I was a weapons troop in the 390th T.F.S. We had just finished the midnight shift after loading all our F4's with bombs when the rocket attack began. I well remember the scenes of devastation depicted on this site but have no pics of my own so I really appreciate all the photos other vets have submitted. I would appreciate hearing from any vets who were in the weapons shop that night.
    Ken Emmons

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    1. This may be a long shot. But my dad was a weapons troop during this period also. His name is Tony Matela. He still doesn't talk about his time in country. Would love to know more. I am a Iraq war vet myself.

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  11. I was with Hq battalion post office 1st marine division just outside of danang when they hit. I remember it well, as we took a few short rounds. Thanks for posting the photos. Just was thinking about this and decided to type in infor on it on google and came upon your sight.

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  12. I was with Hq battalion post office 1st marine division just outside of danang when they hit. I remember it well, as we took a few short rounds. Thanks for posting the photos. Just was thinking about this and decided to type in infor on it on google and came upon your sight.

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  13. I was crew chief on General Walt's Huey that night and we made numerous trips to evacuate the wounded. Flew til dawn then picked up Gen Walt to fly over the area and assess the damage. I was with VMO-2 at Marble Mt.
    Gene Day in country June 1966-to late Dec 1067

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  14. I was living on the air strip during that attack and a couple others that were not so bad. I worked at the R&R processing center until october 1967. Thanks for posting the photos.

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  15. Unfortunately, my wife's brother, Robert Osborne Jones, was killed during the Vietcong attack in July 1967, at Danang. According to the YouTube video I just saw, only 8 died, and he was one of the 8. Would any of you know of people on the base, at that time, who may have known him? He was in the Air Force, and was born in New Zealand. At 20, he was 14 years older than my wife, and I thought it would be real nice if she knew someone who knew her brother. Thanks in Advance, Mark Alba

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Mark. I knew 3 of the crash crew that died when the fire truck was hit with a blast from our ordinance detonating in the fires following the attack.

      Don't recall the unit(s) of the other 5. I have never found details regarding the casualties.

      Daniel

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    2. Hello again Mark. Please see Philip F. Osborne's reply below.

      Take care and God bless,

      Daniel

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  16. Hi Mark,

    After I read your message about your wife's brother Robert Osborne Jones, I logged on to a web site named: www.togetherweserved.com, of which I am a member. This site is dedicated to helping those who were in the military services to connect with people with whom they served. I was at Danang Air Base from mid-January 1967 to mid-December of that year. I searched for a list of those airmen who were there during 1967. Among the list was a person named Robert Henry Osborn Jones, Airman First Class, Deceased. (You will note that Osborn is spelled without an "e" at the end, unlike my own surname). According to the information on this site, Robert died in the first mortar/rocket attack on the base, on Feb. 27th, 1967. There appears to be one other discrepancies between the info you provided and the data on this site. The site indicates that Robert was born in Arlington, Virginia in 1946. The following is the citation from the site:

    Robert Henry Osborn Jones was born in Arlington, VA in 1946.

    Joining the United States Air Force he attained the rank of E-4 /A1C while stationed with the 15th Tactical Fighter Wing at McDill Air Force Base in Florida.

    In July of 1966 A1C Jones was assigned to the 366th Tactical Fighter Wing at DaNang AB, Republic of South Vietnam as a Maintenance Specialist on the F-4C Phantom II.

    On the night of Feburary 2, 1967, DaNang sustained it's First Rocket Attack of the Vietnam war. That night the Viet Cong fired 56 Rockets at the base that damaged 13 Aircraft and killed 11 Americans and wounded 124 others. The attack also killed 35 ARVN troops and wounded 50 others.

    He is interred in Arlington National Cemetery.
    The Wall/Plot coordinates are: 15E 106

    This page, dedicated to Robert, was registered on Nov. 16, 2008. The last update to the page was dated Feb 26, 2015. The page was created by John Paul Jones, Sr. (JJ), SSgt. This person is also shown as "Fallen."

    The following decorations are listed for Robert:

    Purple Heart
    Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation
    Air Force Good Conduct Medal
    Vietnam Service Medal
    Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal
    National Defense Service Medal

    I hope this information will be helpful to you. I worked in the Finance Office at Danang, and therefore might have met Airman Jones. I offer my condolences to his sister.

    Sincerely,
    Philip F. Osborne, SSgt.

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  17. Dear Daniel,
    Thank you very much for sharing these pictures on the blog. I am writing you because my late father Pete Leacacos was a Marine, 1st Marine Aircraft Division, MAG-12, stationed in Chu Lai from 19th December 1965 to 14th July 1967. He had told me that he was on the last plane out of Da Nang and had taken off just before the rocket attack of 15th July 1967.
    Do you know of any planes with home going servicemen that had taken off just before the attack with ? I am asking because I would like to corroborate my father's story with someone who was on the air base during the attack.
    Furthermore, I am interested in getting in touch with someone who was also stationed in Chu Lai, 1st MAW-MAG 12 between 1965-67 and who would perhaps known my father Sgt.Pete Leacacos. for information, he wrote the daily newspaper called the CHU LAI Chatter as well as being noncommissioned Officer for Awards and Civil Affairs and having done some undisclosed combat duty.
    How would you suggest I go about finding someone in MAG-12 during the time he was there?

    Thank you in advance for the answer to my questions,
    with best wishes,
    Justine Isserles-Leacacos

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    1. Hello Justin - Thank you for visiting. Regarding your Dad's departure, Danang was the primary point of arrival and departure for many entering and departing I Corp at the time. It was an extremely busy place. So there is no reason to doubt he left just prior to the July attack. It could have been earlier in the day as well.

      As for those stationed at Chu Lai you might visit http://www.1stmaw.marines.mil/Subordinate-Units/Marine-Aircraft-Group-12/ or search for Marine veterans groups online.

      Take care,

      Daniel

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    2. Dear Daniel,

      Thank you very much for your prompt reply and for the link you gave me. All the best, Justine

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  18. I know that this is a long shot but my father was badly injured during this attack. I don't know what company he was with as he never spoke about his time in Vietnam. He served in the Air Force and his name is SSgt. Gary Roby. I found several pictures that he had taken during his time there and don't know if there is any change of finding any of those individuals in the pictures.

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  19. Hi Fisherman,
    I just received your post with the Civil War photo attached. Does this mean that photos may be uploaded to this site, now? If so, how is this done?

    Thanks for providing this site!

    (SSGT) Frank Osborne

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    1. Hi Frank. I was playing around with the idea as the post above mentioned pictures but Blogger (old technology) doesn't have an option for posters to attach pics.

      Did you get the picture or just the URL? I had to insert the html [img][/img] but did not see the pic when I previewed and posted. Considering an upgrade to add more capabilities.

      Take care - Daniel

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  20. To the Son or Daughter of SSGT. Gary Roby, US Air Force:

    I checked for Gary's name among the members of a veterans website namely:

    www.togetherweserved.com

    of which I am a member. I didn't find anyone by that name on that site.

    There is another veteran website named:

    www.vetfriends.com

    which you might like to search. I am not a member of this site.

    Good luck with your efforts, and Thanks to your Dad for his service. I hope he recovered from his wounds.

    [SSGT.] Philip F. Osborne

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    1. Here is a possible link. Name and date is right. Hope this helps.

      https://billiongraves.com/grave/Gary-Lloyd-Roby/9583953

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  21. I was out on the VMGR-152 flight line (Marine Corps side southern end) refueling a KC-130F that had just returned from a flare mission. While refueling, the first few rockets past over my head striking the Air Force F-4s with pinpoint accuracy. The strike continued northerly along the Air Force side hitting planes, maintenance buildings, and Air force barracks.
    I watched helplessly as the Control Tower took a hit at it's base tumbling the tower over. A Crash Crew truck came up to put the flames out when another explosion occurred tossing the truck end over end. The rockets then started coming back down the Marine side of the runway eventually striking the ammo dump. A HUGE mushroom of flames, sparks, and rockets went off. That's when I got to do my best 'John Wayne' impression yelling 'HIT THE DECK!! to the only other Marine with me on the flight line. After that we sought the shelter of a bunker.
    The bunker turned out to be the CO's, with a few KC-130F pilots. Hearing the pilot's conversation, they wanted to get one of the 130's off the ground as it was a sitting duck. I didn't tell them that the aircraft was down in the chocks because of a bad GTS. I should have.
    Suddenly they leaped over the bunker wall (in their 'white' skivvies :) and headed for the plane. CRAP!! They weren't getting the bird in the air without my help, and here I was SAFE in a bunker! lol
    Well I followed (something I feel proud of today as to 'running towards the fire!') The two pilots and flt engineer were exiting the acft when I got there and I told them to get back in. I then went and got the squadron's external GTS Power unit (do you know that then move awfully SLOW under a rocket attack? lol) hooking it up to the acft. Once connected I gave the sign to windmill #1 engine. It lit off and the pilots started the remaining 3. With 4 engines turning high power I could no longer hear the location of the rocket strikes and knew that they must be headed our way. I gave the ok to taxi while the plane turned and started to head for the runway. After about 100 yards it suddenly stopped! Now what!!? The crew door then opened with the silhouette of the flt engineer standing in front of the cabin's red lights, waving to me 'COME ON!!'
    Hesitation.... is it safer in the air or on the ground? lol
    I chose the air running towards the door. Climbing in I took the navigator's seat donning a headset.
    We then taxied for takeoff to the southern end of the runway and stopped. It was eerie as one of the pilots called the tower for take-off clearance. I informed the pilot over the headset that the tower was no longer standing. Looking down the runway it was littered with debris. That's when one of the pilots suggested taking off on the taxiway! Oh great, what did I sign up for! lol
    We maneuvered over onto the taxiway (which had some small rows or hills in it if you would remember). We rolled picking up speed, uphill downhill like waves. All this time I was looking out the side window of numerous fires along the Air Force side. Then in the middle of the runway was what appeared to be an acft 'engine' just laying there on it's side. One of the biggest pieces of FOD that I had ever come across. Then.... a combat power takeoff straight up!!! While we climbed I wanted a good look back at Danang and what had happened so I unbuckled and carefully made my way to the rear of the acft where the hatch was still open. Danang airbase had been crippled with what appeared most of it being on fire. Something this 20 yr old kid would remember the rest of his life..... Semper Fi

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    1. Thanks for your contribution Hawk. It's good story about what was happening over on the southeast side of the base. I was just on the other side of the old F4 revetments on the south end of the AF area in our avionics shop that night.

      Daniel

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  22. Hi again, Daniel,

    I hope you are having a nice Memorial Day weekend.

    Some time ago I found, on the internet, two excellent portrait photos of Danang Air Base, Base Commander, Col. Robert Maloy (1) accompanied by the pilots of his Wing, in front of his F-4 Phantom fighter jet, (2) with his base support staff. If you would like to have copies of these photos for your site, I would be happy to send them to you. Please let me know how I can get them to you.

    I attended all of Col. Maloy's monthly Commander's Calls, and I have some very nice recollections of those meetings. In one of those meetings he shared how he came to have what he referred to as "The ugliest bird" on his aircraft tail-fin.

    I believe the Col's. nephew has commented on this site. If you see this note, and would like to have copies of these photos of your uncle, (allowing that you don't already have them,) I would be glad to send them to you. Let me know how I can send them to you.

    I don't think photos can be directly updated to this site. If I an wrong, please let me know.

    I wish all who read this note a pleasant and peaceful Memorial Day Holiday, and Thank You to all who served.

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    1. Good to hear from you again Frank. I met Col. Maloy once while working on his F4 Phantom. He was a fine commander and appreciated by everyone at Danang.

      What I remember most, other than his MIG mission successes, was hearing of his being shot down in October 1967. It was real solemn around the base until we got word he was rescued.

      Yes, I'd like to see the portraits. You can send them to "jdnew @ msn .com. I can probably fit them on here somewhere.

      Take care,

      Daniel

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  24. Pretty sure this was the date I received a patch thru air link from my Captain sitting at the end of the runway with about 300 plus souls on an Eastern Airlines Stretch Eight. He told me about the mortar attack. Said the military wanted him to pull off the runway to let F-15 to take off. I told him to ignor and red line those engines and head to Wake Island. I was a crew scheduler in charge of the MAC Operation. I took a lot of heat for burning up 4 engines.

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