Share stories of your experiences in the unit.

Welcome to the first blog for the 774 TAS Association.

Please use this blog to provide feedback to the membership, ask questions and maybe share some stories of your times in the unit.  There were all kinds of stories shared at the reunions so lets get some of these out to everybody.

Cheers,

Lou Voit

28 Comments »

  1. Lou Voit said,

    February 27, 2010 @ 6:46 pm

    This is my first entry so here goes.
    Just a quick story of a time when the 774th deployed to Turkey.
    This was my first ROTE back in the Fall of 1980.
    We had just arrived and I was an extra Navigator flying missions only when someone went sick or injured. We got a group together to go to Adana and we hired a taxi. We had heard that Turkey was having some issues with rebels but we wanted to see what the town looked like and have lunch somewhere.
    Off we went. I was sitting in the front pax seat and the back had three other crew folks… anyway we come to a roadblock. Here are some soldiers with weapons at the ready. The driver says “NO Problem.. we will go right thru”
    We slow to the inspection line and wait our turn.
    At the checkpoint, the driver waives at his buddy checking ID expecting to be waived through.. NO
    Everybody get your ID out..
    One soldier comes over to my side and signals for me to roll down the window and I comply.
    The muzzle of this automatic weapon comes in the window and is stuck in my nose. Then the head of the guy come parallel with the window with a big scowl on his face..
    We quickly got the IDs out for the inspector…
    Welcome to Turkey!!
    It was a moment of relief when the weapon finally exited the window and we went on our way.
    That day as we walked around Adana looking for ROTE Treasure.. any way you looked..north, south, east or west. there were two soldiers with automatic weapons..
    Don’t get out of line there….
    Take about a sobering experience..
    Well we finally go to lunch at a restaurant. The menu in Turkish.. the waiter speaks no English. He sees four Americans and decides to impress us.
    Here comes a whole array of plates and bowls full of all kinds of stuff.. in all colors and smells. We decide to try it all.. BIG MISTAKE…
    In the taxi going back to Incirlik, I can feel my stomach rolling.
    We were sick for about three days but what an experience!!
    Wouldn’t trade it for anything.. Hey, if you are in Turkey.. be careful..
    Cheers.
    Lou Voit

  2. Lou Voit said,

    February 27, 2010 @ 6:50 pm

    OK not it is your turn.. who has a story??
    Lou Voit

  3. Henry Davis said,

    February 28, 2010 @ 10:54 pm

    This was on ROTE and we doing our two weeks in Incirlik. Sometime in the early eighties. Mike Komosao and I went out for a run. We had been at the movies on base earlier that evening and after decided to go for a run, so it was about 2200 hrs. We had been briefed at our in-country briefing that we could go any where on base after dark, but not off base, because at that time the Turks were imposing martial law after dark. So we thought nothing of going for a run on base at that time. (BIG MISTAKE) At one point we ran by some little guard shack. All of a sudden two guards come out and start running after us. They were shouting something in Turk. We thought the hell with these guys and just kept running. Then we heard them lock and load their automatic weapons. So we stopped running IMMEDIATELY. They ran up to us and pointed the weapons in our faces and were yelling at us in Turk. We thought they maybe wanted to see some ID. Problem was we did not have any, because we did not normally carry any when we went to run. They got very mad when we were unable to produce any ID, as a result they fixed their bayonets and acted like they were going to stab us in the face. After a while they calmed down, but still made us stand there with our hands in the air. After an hour or so of that, they let us sit down next to their shack, but we still had to keep our hands up. (My arms sure were getting tired) I heard one of them make a radio call from the guard shack. Then about 15 minutes later a group of Air Force personnel in civilian clothes in a blue Air Force pick up showed up. They had heard the radio call and came right out to see what was going on. At this point I was starting to relax a little bit, until I saw the look of abject fear on their faces. Then I started to get real scared again. They asked what was going on. One of the guards motioned (with his gun) for me to go talk to them. I told them to get us the hell out of here. I also told them to go find somebody of rank that could speak Turk. After about 30 minutes a Lt. who could speak Turk showed up and talked them into releasing us into his custody. The Lt. admonished us for running on the base perimeter after dark. We told him how we had been briefed that we could do that. He said the info we had been given was wrong. There are those Air Force communication skills for ya. The next day I told my crew of our late night adventure. Gary Castelli and John Bly told me that had they shot us, they themselves would have been shot. For some reason I never found much comfort with that answer.

  4. Guy m. Davis II said,

    March 10, 2010 @ 2:41 pm

    Hey gang, I was in the 774th from 01-75 to 11-77. The 774th was my first assignment as a brand new Loadmaster. I remember the ROTES to Delta Rhein Main AB Ger. and Bravo in England, and the 45 dayers to Panama. from the 774 TAS I went to the new 37 TAS at Rhein Main, and believe it or not they have the Odosity to send me back to Dyess.

  5. Guy m. Davis II said,

    March 10, 2010 @ 2:51 pm

    I have some real good ROTE stories, I’m just not sure if the statues of limitations are up. Also I’d hate to put anyone that moved up in rank and dam sure wouldn’t want any of their subordinates they may have chastised for doing the same thing or worse. I know because I got out as a MSgt. and I had to. I don’t telling about what I did, I’d have to change the names of the others, unless they would like to add in.

  6. Jerry Sapp said,

    March 11, 2010 @ 3:02 am

    The Green Weasels are still flying. I got this article from Military.com
    March 05, 2010
    Air Force Print News|by TSgt. Joseph Kapinos
    A C-130 Hercules aircrew conducted a new method of airdrop that makes deliveries more accurate and flexible for resupply of small, mobile forces, in Afghanistan.
    The C-130 aircrew from Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, performed the first-ever low-cost, low-altitude combat airdrop to re-supply Soldiers at a forward operating base in Afghanistan. The airdrop concept became operational March 1.
    A C-130 low-cost, low-altitude combat airdrop is accomplished by dropping bundles weighing 80 to 500 pounds, with pre-packed expendable parachutes, in groups of up to four bundles per pass.
    The drops are termed “low-cost” to reflect the relative expense of the expendable parachutes compared to their more durable, but pricier, nylon counterparts. “Low-altitude” alludes to the relative height from which bundles are released from the aircraft.
    “Our goal for this mission is to fly to a small forward-operating base and drop some of the smaller bundles to them,” said Lt. Col. Darryl Sassaman, the 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron assistant director of operations who flew on the first LCLA combat mission. They’re different from the usual, larger bundles, which we normally drop. Depending on the group we’re dropping for, they may not need the mass amount of supplies and equipment, but still need re-supply. Utilizing these smaller bundles accomplishes that mission, giving (ground forces) the ability to quickly pick up the supplies and keep moving forward.”
    The new airdrop method is another tool airlifters in Afghanistan use to keep ground troops supplied with what they need. In many parts of Afghanistan, rugged terrain and the lack of roads for vehicle convoys make airdrop the only way ground forces get what they need to continue combat operations.
    Low-cost, low-altitude combat airdrops will be a niche augmentation to its cousin, container delivery system airdrops, said Col. Keith Boone, the director of the Air Mobility Division at the Combined Air and Space Operations Center here.
    “Our main method of supply will continue to be through air-land missions, landing at airfields and offloading supplies,” he said. “Where that isn’t possible, we will deliver sustainment requirements through larger scale CDS, everything from ammunition to meals.
    “The LCLA drops will meet the needs of a smaller subset of the units,” Colonel Boone said. “This is a significant step forward in our ability to sustain those engaged in counterinsurgency operations throughout Afghanistan.”
    The low-altitude delivery is also more accurate than traditional, higher-altitude airdrop methods and cuts down on “stray bundles” that can land away from the drop zone.
    The importance of avoiding those stray bundles was emphasized by Gen. Raymond Johns, Jr., the commander of Air Mobility Command, as part of the briefing prior to the first combat LCLA mission.
    “This type of mission has given military members, the ones working in these villages, one day, one yard at a time, another opportunity to be successful,” General Johns said. “A random bundle destroying someone’s property or even worse, hurting someone, can undo all the progress our folks are making within a village.”
    In addition to increased accuracy, LCLA drops require no specialized training for parachute riggers and can be dropped from a variety of aircraft.
    Because Air Force officials have quickly developed this capability, only three aircrews were qualified and flew during the proof-of-principle phase. Additional crews will be trained as the requirement develops.
    “It’s pretty amazing to be a part of this particular mission,” he said. “We are here on the frontlines, doing the mission. A lot of people think we only re-supply people here with mail and food. They tend to forget that our primary customers are the guys on the ground. This type of airdrop will directly impact and support them in their fight against terrorism.”
    The aircrew planned extensively and trained locally before they could fly the mission. Along with ground training, the crews held mission-planning exercises, trained onboard the aircraft and flew practice runs at high and low altitudes.
    For one young loadmaster, the training, as well as the mission, offered the chance of a lifetime.
    “This mission is pretty cool,” said Airman 1st Class Kameron Trout, a 774th EAS loadmaster. “I have only been in the Air Force for two years and I was selected to do something most people only dream about. From now on, I will be known as one of the first people to do this in combat. When I look back on my Air Force career, this is something for which I can be truly proud.”

  7. Cliff Hodge said,

    March 24, 2010 @ 2:50 am

    Good to see this up and running! Most of you know we lost Mary in October. Thank you each for continued support. I intend to make June reunion roll-call. Reservation already in! Come on down!
    cliff

  8. Buzz Howard said,

    April 23, 2010 @ 4:35 pm

    Looking forward to the reunion. We may be able to make only the Saturday shindig. I think we need to encourage Col. Lowell Fathera to attend. I saw him when I was flying out around Phoenix during a Super Bowl a couple of years ago. He lives in Tucson, does NOT have a computer, but does receive “snail mail.” He also has a normal “land line.” Pretty sure he is in the white pages. My great stories revolve around the time Gene Downing, Errol Reksten, Rich Garcia and John Sekula were a crew. We did ESTA at the Goose, flew the European Eagles, some other stuff. I remember one day we were trying to get into Aalborg, DE, to support the A-10s. We got the best PARs the Danes could muster–they were great!–but finally aborted to Ramstein after what must have been 3 or 4 tries. We then flew about three USAF PARs before we finally stirred up enough air to see the ground and land! I don’t remember the exact day, but as were holding trying to get a phone patch to Phantom, we were “put on hold” for more important traffic. That was the day the first group of American hostages were released at the very beginning of the Iranian Hostage Stand-off. They were flown into Copenhagen in a USAF C-9 and they were priority over us to talk with Phantom (322 ALD), Of course, they broadcast the entire message in the clear over HF…and then got their butts reamed for not encoding the message. Ah, those were the days!

  9. Henry Hibbert said,

    May 3, 2010 @ 9:36 pm

    Hi Guys! As a LM, I remember only the good rote’s,,,GRB, Saudia, Italy etc had lots of fun, kinda miss those days, but life moves on.

  10. Mark Bartels said,

    May 28, 2010 @ 1:49 am

    Ok , am signed up for the reunion ,golf and all. will try to get ahold of the LR contingent

  11. Lou Voit said,

    June 25, 2010 @ 1:41 pm

    This is a story about an evening in Athens. At the BuenaVista, the Officers Wives Club was having a Art Auction and Wine/Cheese evening. Steve Nutter was in town and we had gone down to George’s for steaks and wandered back to the club about 9PM. Well we saw the sign and walked back to the ballroom to see if they had any wine left. Steve is always looking for that bottle of wine that is good and can be had for a small investment. The Art Auction was a bust.. not many came and the concessionaire was boxing up the frames. The ladies were in a dither as they had opened many bottles of wine… I mean too many bottles before they realized the crowd was not coming. Well we helped them by draining a few Mateus bottles.. they had Rose, White, Red. The ladies were collecting the bottles in boxes and were going to throw them in the dumpster outside.. yes bottles with wine still in them.. can you believe it??? Well Steve and I decided we must provide some assistance and corralled several cases. I believe some of his crew was with us so we may have made off with 4-5 cases. Now the BuenaVista had an elevator to the top floor.. was it 8 floors up?? anyway up to the top. If you went around the corner and down the hall there was a stairwell that went to the roof. So there we are on the roof, the stars are shining bright, there were some lounge chairs up there and we had maybe 40 opened wine bottles. Starting from the Dry and moving to the Sweet…. It took us awhile and I am sure we solved many of the worlds problems up there. If we had only written them down. The next day was a NO FLY day and it is a good thing.
    We had found good wine with very little investment.

  12. Frank M Savala 3rd said,

    September 16, 2010 @ 3:06 am

    Hey there all ! I am the son of 2nd Lt. Frank M. Saval Jr. Navigator Deceased AF 774th TAS. He passed away in the 4/13/82 crash in Inkulik Turkey. I am sure many of you remember that tragic incedent . I am very proud of my fathers sacrifice for his country, the Air Force and the 774th. I was 3 years old when he passed so my memories are more second hand but I understand he was a good man. I used to be in possesion of many of his things ie; flight patches (green weasel), a plaque with the 774th weasel logo, etc; All of these things were stolen in a box some years ago, I was devestated. They even stole the flag from his ceremony ! I was however able to recieve a new one, flown over the capitol on the 20th anniversary of his death. Unfortunately I have had no luck aquiring any 774th TAS material. Anyone out there who could be of any assistance would be so greatly appreciated !! I am willing to pay or do whatever may be necessary to reattain some of these momentos. Any help ? Please ! Thank you very much for your time whomever you may be !!
    Sincerely ,
    Frank M. Savala 3

  13. Dirt Winston said,

    October 5, 2010 @ 4:34 pm

    Frank,
    I knew your father and thought the world of him. We were second lieutenants together in the 774th. But what made us friend was the fact that after meeting at Dyess and talking about our pasts. we realized that we’d gone to Thomas Eaton Jr High in Hampton, Virginia together.

    To all my Green Weasel buddies out there,
    This past weekend I was drinking beer with Dave Scott. He is doing well. Also, in early September we saw Jimmie Simmons. They are doing well also. I was at Lajes Field in 2007 and saw on the flight schedule that a C-130 from the 774 EAS was flying through. I went out to meet it to see if Wilber was still on the patch – he is! The nav on that aircraft was Tom Hamm!

  14. L.D. Edwards said,

    December 14, 2010 @ 6:12 pm

    Gentlemen: I still have a very much treasured 774 ‘pin’ which I received from one of your team while I was the PAO at 3rd AF in the UK, 1977-1984. We always took great delight in hosting you at the Mildenhall Officers’ Club, and your crews oft-times kept our Public Affairs Office busy discussing your presence in the UK.
    I think of you often, and wonder where that ‘friendly voice’ went over the years.

  15. Bill Emmer said,

    July 14, 2011 @ 2:07 am

    I was a pilot in the unit from September of 1973 until March of 1977. They were interesting times. I arrived about a week after the squadron had deployed to Europe; the 774th had just re-located to Dyess from Forbes in Topeka, KS. I was a new Brown Bar, eager to slip the surly bonds, and the only officer in the squadron was Major Nick LaFlamboy, whom I later dubbed Major Flameout (it stuck!). He told me I wouldn’t be doing any flying for about two months and I was crushed. A week later I was sitting on a folding chair doing my first North Atlantic Crossing seated just to the left of the A/C in an Illinois ANG KC-97. As a B-747 Captain and later an A-330 Captain years later, I would look out the left window on the way to Europe and smile to myself as I’d watch the Big Dipper rotate around the North Star, remembering that first crossing.

    The October war had just begun and they needed my skills at Rhein Mein AB in Germany. Wow. What an intro to the life of a Herk driver. All of the bodies had already been paired up, so I got a Col.’s room to myself in building 140, an old Luftwaffe barracks. We flew everywhere, and it was an amazing, exciting intro to TAC Airlift. Spaghetti Runs, Turkey Trots and NATO milk runs that kept us flying constantly.

    Some of the officers in my peer group (some just a bit senior, some a bit junior) were Red Ted Heidemann, Pete Farmer, Clay Bailey, Jerry Nichols, Clyde “C-zo” Herzog, Bill “Hatch” Hatcher, Ed “Eduardo” Campbell, Steve Slavinski, Ron Pierce, Steve Harrington, John “Happy” Happ, Bobbie Everrett, Greg Allison, Paul Mattingly, Dayton Melhoff, Dave Spracher, Dave Hancock, Dave Sanders, Gary Fancher, Bob Carlson, Ronnie Smith, Rick Mann, Rob Dorough, Davy Grounds, Gary Wilfong, Elden Hoffman, Jim Moore, Steve Maus, Jim Franke, Rob Berg, Stan Freidli, John Bly, Bud Clements, Angie Deniakos, Major “Whizzer” White, and so many more folks that I haven’t thought about in years, but who were part of the reason that this was such a great squadron.

    Some of the E’s were Bernie Dallas who was the most humble Chief I ever met in my career which included 14 more years in AFRES/ANG, the late Shelley Kelley, John Annen, the aforementioned Radar, Kittie Kitigawa, Danny Muramoto, and I must confess I am seeing faces but names aren’t coming…the outstanding hispanic SMSGT who ran the Loadmaster section, the FE who used to say “hey diddle diddle they’re all in the middle”…my halfheimers is flaring up tonight.

    I shouldn’t overlook our leadership. L/C Doug Wood was an outstanding Commander–no one was more surprised than he when we got him promoted to full Colonel. We had an Airman in the unit we dubbed “Radar” who could make a cursive “D” that looked so much like Col Wood’s when he initialed paperwork that half the time we didn’t bother him–we’d just get Radar to sign it. It kept the trivial reams of data flowing and saved Col Wood enough time that he could concentrate on the important stuff. When his new boss arrived at the reception to pin his Eagles on, Col Wood introduced me to him and then commented: “If Dick Nixon had had Bill working for him he’d still be President!” I like to think he meant that as a compliment…

    L/C Bruce Mosely was someone who was easily disliked, but was a good Ops Officer none the less. If you worked for him, you actually did appreciate his fairness. I once flew Co-Pilot for him when he’d fallen asleep during a Tac Briefing; in flight when lead started to do something that he wasn’t expecting, I said “Colonel Mosely, you missed that part of the briefing…” He looked at me, and shortly began to grin. I didn’t embarrass him in front of the crew, but we both knew what I was talking about. He was a good sport, and a great handball and raquetball player. I wasn’t in his league, but Heidemann was, and he enjoyed occasionally beating this guy who was in great shape for a far more senior officer.

    I’ve recently retired as an airline pilot, having been blessed with a great career in spite of the chaos that deregulation has heaped upon the industry. I’m so grateful that I had my military career in addition to being an airline pilot. While only about a third of it was on active duty, the most interesting time was flying Herks in the 774th…3 rotations to Europe, 2 months in Bamako, Mali (Red Ted and I hit Tombouctou–Timbuktoo–four to five times a week), a month or so deployment to the old Canal Zone in Panama, a month as a rookie AC in Alaska making regular trips to Shemya…lots of excitement for a below average guy trying to have an above average time! Many of the finest people I’ve met in my life were blue suiters…truly outstanding individuals. I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world.

  16. Kevin M O'Sullivan said,

    April 24, 2012 @ 12:09 am

    Hi there,

    I am looking for Lou Voit who was one of my Nav instructors when I went through Nav School in the RAF in Enland when Lou was on an exchange posting at RAF Finningley in 1970/71.

    If anyone sees this posting can they pass it on to Lou and ask him to get in touch please.

    Many thanks

    Kevin M O’Sullivan

  17. Kevin M O'Sullivan said,

    April 24, 2012 @ 12:16 am

    The contact details for Kevin are:

    A1kmos (at) ymail (dot) com

  18. Carl Penaranda said,

    August 20, 2012 @ 12:56 pm

    Asgd to 774TCS shortly after its arrival at Langley AFB, VA (1963). MPC directed reassignment & cross training into 271 Air Ops, after completion of AK remote tour with USAF Security Service (now ISR agency). Staff personnel were LTCOL Cryer, Cmdr; LTCOL Malone, Ops Ofcr; MSgt Lettiere (1stSGT), and TSGT Schutheiss (NCOIC, Ops). CPT McCollum (of McCollum bundles air drop creation ?), was also asgnd. Rotes were made to Panama (Greenleaf), Philippines (Two Buck), and, at that time, Evereux AB, France (Cross Switch). Would have liked to stay with 774TCS, but was later reassigned to Hqs 463rd’s Consolidated Form 5 Section. Hqs & 774TCS left Nov 1965 for Mactan Isle Air Field; 773TCS to Clark. 772nd TCS & newly acquired 29TCS, in Jan 1966, left for Mactan & Clark, respectively. Sad day when we lost CPT Callanan & crew over Pleiku. Having been asgnd to 774TCS I knew the aircrew; it was they who also flew me to Mactan for our PCS move. Wish I had found this website earlier, to share further, my experiences as a Green Weasel!

  19. Don Rogers said,

    September 29, 2012 @ 2:00 pm

    Hi guys,
    I was an FE in the 774th from 1974 until 1977, when I left for the 37th which was being formed at Rhein Main. Before coming to the 774th, I was a crew chief on 63-7805, the airplane that lost all 4 engines on the way to Hickham.

    When I finished FE school at the Rock and arrived at the squadron, no one was there. They were on rote so I flew a few months with the 772nd.

    Lots of faces, but not many names are floating around in my head. Bernie Dallas of course, comes to mind. One of the very best bosses I ever had in my USAF career. My next door neighbor in Abilene was Glenn Ellison. Don Potter, Tom Kraemer, Guy Davis, Bobby Camper, John Sekula. Why don’t I remember the First Shirt’s name? I’m sure I stood tall in his office a few times. I think Col Ferrier was the commander when we busted 2 ORI’s with our brand-new H-models.

    For those who may be interested, here’s a little history of my flying career after the 774th. As I mentioned, I left Dyess for the 37th at Rhein Main in 1977 — the 6th FE to arrive at the newly reactivated squadron. I spent 6 great years there and then returned to Dyess; this time with the 772nd. Thet means that I had been in all 3 of the 463rd’s squadrons. (I was with the 773rd as a B-model crew chief at Clark AB, PI.)

    I stayed with the 772nd until my retirement in December 1985. While still on terminal leave, I got a job with St. Lucia Airways as a Herc FE in Khartoum, Sudan. When that contract ended, I went to Galaxy Airlines fly the L-188 Electra. That job sucked — the airline; not the airplane, so I went back to St. Lucia Airlines.

    To make what’s probably becoming a pretty boring tale, after St. Lucia was bought out, I went to a company called Transafrik, based in Luanda, Angola in 1989. There, I flew the Herc and the Boeing 727 for the other side for the next 7 years.

    After all that 3rd world crap, I decided to try flying for a US company and got hired as a DC-10-30 FE for Gemini Air Cargo in 1996. Stayed with them until I retired again in 2003. Ended up with 24,700+ hours and 2 ex-wives.

    Since retirement, I haven’t done anything except float around in my pool drinking beer and loving it.

    I’d love to make it to the 2012 reunion, but my daughter and her family will be returning home from a 3 year tour at Ramstein AB. Her husband will be retiring as a MSgt fire fighter.

    If anyone remembers me and wants to drop me a line, my address is Topgun0193@aol.com.

  20. Doc Boyle said,

    October 15, 2012 @ 8:36 am

    I was with the 774 TAS from 1975 to 1980. When I look back at those times, everything now seems somewhat insignificant. It was probably the best 5 years of my life. I noticed the articles about the C-130J but I was there during the transition from E to H-models. I have enjoyed reading the inputs from other members. It certainly brings back pleasant memories. I remember when we totally redid the squadron building because of the CAFI. I can still see those guys on the floor in the entrance putting together the tile pieces of the weasel patch. Take care and God bless.

  21. Fearless said,

    December 31, 2012 @ 9:43 pm

    I received the letter below written by Bill Emmer to Ted Heidemann and Bob Carlson.

    Ted (CC Bob) 12/12/12

    You may or may not know that you have a Christmas gift en route to the suburbs of St Louis from the
    suburbs of Denver. I went to my 40th class re-union in October and stopped by the Carlson’s abode en
    route to the Academy. While there, amid lies and war stories aimed at the Carlson women (Anne and
    their daughter Caitlin), Bob revealed that he’d not only brought back sand from Tombouctou, but that
    he’d taken some and put it into an hourglass. Upon further discovery (remember, he’s an attorney and
    requires special interrogation techniques) he divulged that he had adequate sand to make not just
    another one, but several other ones. It occurred to me that not only must I have one of these, but so too
    must you!!! So, to commemorate our successful careers—not only did we all survive that mission, but
    we’ve all lived through successful careers, raised children (all of whom are decent citizens), and are
    still alive and well to brag about our successes (conveniently omitting our occasional failures).

    However, to add to the provenance of the ancient sand in the orbs shared by the three of us, there is
    some interesting background information that should be shared as well. First, it must be said that Bob
    was only on our crew for the return journey. I recall that he flew with Capt Jerry Nichols, and briefly
    with Capt Francisco Molina. You too were a Captain, I was your 2Lt Co-pilot, Stan Friedli was our
    Navigator (Bob is my Zoomie classmate; he and Stan were 2Lts as well), Ssgt John Annen was our
    Flight Engineer, and Ssgt Shelly Kelley was our Loadmaster.

    We flew to MacDill AFB on the way into Bamako, Mali, our staging base. That night at the Club at
    MacDill, Major Wayne LaFlamboy (he had flamed out two engines slipping a Herk—an unauthorized
    maneuver in a C-130—and I tagged him with the moniker “Flameout” which stuck) and I imbibed a bit
    too much, and as we left the Club for our BOQ rooms I wondered out loud if the fancy 8X10 matt just
    outside the O’Club door with its impressive TAC insignia might not be useful in denoting his command
    post once we got to Bamako. He decided that it would, we rolled it up and put it on our shoulders and
    didn’t make it ten feet before being accosted by two very large AP’s wondering where we were going
    with the matt. I quickly explained that when you’ve had too much to drink that the matt, being upside
    down, was difficult to read, and that we were just turning it around for the benefit of the fighter pilots
    who weren’t as adroit as airlifters…they let us slide! Flameout was quite impressed with me for having
    saved our bacon, and a bond was formed that lasted for the remainder of our time at Dyess.

    We left the following day for Lajes AB, on the island of Terceira in the Azores. It was my leg, and
    during the descent I got vertigo briefly due to the red rotating beacon sweeping the clouds—this was
    the single occurrence of vertigo for me in nearly 20,000 hours of flying. Fortunately Ted was there to
    save the day. The next day we flew from Lajes to Tenerife, an island in the Canary Islands owned by
    Spain. Lajes AB is owned and operated by the Portuguese; the USAF and USN had detachments there,
    and it was then and is now a major base for US military aircraft transiting the Atlantic between the US
    and Europe. Because Portugal was the last nation to still have colonies in Africa, most African nations
    would not readily permit flights through their airspace by aircraft having departed Portuguese soil.
    Therefore, we stopped at Tenerife, bought minimal fuel, and proceeded to Bamako.

    The airport was built by the Soviet’s and outfitted by the French. Our hotel was built by Egyptians,
    financed by the French, and virtually unused. There was neither enough electric capacity in the entire
    nation of Mali to light it, nor was there enough water pressure to get the non-potable water above the
    5th floor of the structure which had perhaps 10 floors. The rooms were quite luxurious by nearly any
    standard, although they had an odor that is common in third world countries—mostly a mix of staleness
    and dried animal protein (in these rooms it likely emanated from the snake skins that covered all of the
    walls). The bathrooms too were quite stately, with imported showers, tubs, toilets and bidets. When

    our good friend Elden Hoffman, a Co-pilot on one of the other crews, met us downstairs for our first
    meal he asked if we had “foot washers” in our rooms like he did, and of course he never lived it down.
    However, as neither the ice nor the water out of the taps was potable we filled the bidets with ice and
    put our beverages in it to chill them, not having to bother emptying the water once the ice melted.

    Each day we would arise at 0400, take a cold shower (sore subject—we paid $3/day for hot bathing
    water, fresh drinking water, electricity and food; however, the hot water was available from 0700-0800
    when the Field Grade Officers got up), grab a bite, and go out to the airport. Once at the airport, we
    would climb to the very top of the control tower, roughly 50 feet, fill out a flight plan, the details of
    which would never be transmitted, and descend in a trance from whence we came. Unfortunately, Ted
    always missed the ground floor landing and wound up in the basement—with Willie hot on his heels.
    Two left-handed, below average aviators trying to have an above average time…asleep at the wheel.

    The German Air Force showed up after we’d been there a couple of weeks, and set out the next
    morning in their C-160 Transalls—two engine versions of the Herk—and returned later that day full of
    the grain that they’d been unable to deliver because they couldn’t find the airfields to which they’d been
    dispatched. Their commander, a Major, was furious, and sent each Aircraft Commander and Navigator
    with us so they’d be able to find the airfields in the future. In their defense, there were no navaids along
    the routes or at the destinations (Tombouctou had an ADF that was ancient—housed in a mud hut with
    a thatched roof, it was pre-WWII, and was only operational after one of the locals heard an aircraft and
    ran to the hut to rope-start the ancient gas generator). The navigational charts were blank white pages
    with blue latitude/longitude lines and warnings in blue rectangular boxes that stated “terrain features
    unsuitable for navigation”. We intentionally flew off course each day to annotate landmarks on these
    otherwise blank charts.

    The leadership developed a “Grain Line” which helped them track the progress of the grain (sorghum)
    that we’d been tasked to deliver. Essentially, it involved flying two sorties per aircraft 7 days a week.
    While that gave each crew a break, as there were 4 crews and 3 aircraft, it didn’t ever allow a day off
    for the maintenance personnel. With that in mind, we crew members stepped up to the plate and flew
    an extra sortie per day in order to “stand down” after a couple weeks of extra flying. The plan was to
    have a day off where we could play beer ball against the Germans, the Marines from the Embassy, and
    the Peace Corps volunteers. When the day finally arrived, we were well ahead in mid game when
    Flameout came to me as I was about to bat and said “Where’s Ted?” Taking a swig of my excellent
    Czech Pilsner provided by the Germans, I said “He’s on second base.” He said “ Your buddy Carlson is
    still stuck in Tombouctou, and you guys need to go get him and his crew. “Nick” I said, “It’s my turn to
    bat!” He said “Bat, get Ted, and go get Carlson.” “But Nick, I’m halfway through my second beer.” He
    said “Finish your beer, bat, get Ted, and go get Carlson.” So we did. I’m fuzzy on the details here (no,
    not because of the beer), but I think this was after our famous “Night Flight to Tombouctou”. If you
    had read the FLIP Supplement for Mali in 1974, there was no IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) flying
    allowed, nor night flying allowed—this was strictly a day VFR (visual flight rules) operation. We set
    out after a few beers and flew night IFR to an unlighted 4,000 foot packed laterite airfield and made
    multiple approaches trying to figure out how to get in. There was no terrain to be concerned about, so
    rectangular patterns flown at 1000 feet AGL posed no danger. However, the visibility was about 1000
    meters in blowing sand, and by the time we picked up the airfield we’d be too high to land. With Stan
    Friedli lying on the floor looking out the side windows, and after getting a few jeeps to park just
    beyond the departure end with their headlights on, with lighted smudge pots along the sides of the
    runway, we finally managed to put it on the ground—quite firmly. We hit so hard that the small
    hubcaps on the nosegear, held on securely with spring steel circlips, flew off (we didn’t know this until
    we’d returned to base). Bottom line, when engaged in flying such as this, far away from civilization,

    rules, regs, and bureaucracies, you pretty much do what has to be done, and try not to stray too far from
    what you’ve been taught at the same time. Of course “too far” is seldom defined the same by those far
    far away as by those in the field trying to avoid leaving their buds for a second night in Tombouctou,
    where $2 bought you a room, three meals and a woman for the night. Most of us declined the woman…

    No, on this trip to Tombouctou to get Carlson and crew, we arrived during the day. I recall that because
    I’d spoken to him on HF radio before we left, and he said “Willie I’m dying, bring me a gallon of
    Kaopectate. I scrounged around and got the male nurse to cough up a bottle—maybe a pint—and
    showed up about four hours later with it in hand. He said “You’re too late…I finally just tied my
    intestines in a knot and stuffed them back inside my rectum.” He had gotten diarrhea from coffee
    perked (but not boiled for 20 minutes) by our field kitchen staff. He had been limping along on Lomotil
    which would get him through each day’s mission. Once stuck at Tombouctou the Lomotil wore off and
    the search was on. The honey bucket on the airplane was never an option, “It’s just not done” not then
    not ever. He searched out “the facilities” in “the terminal.” Disgusting was an understatement, even for
    an experienced third world traveler; there was a real risk the swarm of overly agressive Africanized
    flies guarding the 2000 year old hole in the ground might prevail. He was acutely aware that one such
    kamikaze fly had flown down my throat several days earlier, and not tempting fate he chose the desert.
    A nice spot behind 55-gallon fuel drums lined up along the ramp. . He said to me “Don’t go near the
    ones with X’s on top.” I gazed over at the line of drums, and as far as I could see there were X’s drawn
    in the dust on top of these drums. He was literally pooped out!

    Ted had a flaming red Afro, the likes of which had never been seen in what was once French West
    Equitorial Africa, now Mali. He was given the key to the city more than once, ate everything we were
    instructed to avoid (I just knew he was going to die as soon as we got the gear in the well so I ate
    nothing), shook hands with everyone (I never took my flight gloves off), and was then, as he is now, the
    most optimistic person I’d ever known. I remember the day he decided to get that ‘Fro trimmed. He
    asked me to come along as I was the only French speaker, and unless you were fluent in Bambara (a
    sub-saharan Tuareg dialect), it was French or nothing. After telling the barber “Pas trop court”, I
    looked up from my two-week old Time magazine while trying to discern whether Dick Nixon was still
    President (the US was in the throes of the Watergate scandal) just as this gent ran the shearers across a
    near-bare scalp…and decided that it might be a good time to explore the market outside. It was the only
    haircut Ted got in Mali, and he didn’t need another for months after he returned to the states!!!

    We played Monopoly with Malian Francs (worth 1/1000 of the French Franc, which was then 20
    cents), played foosball against the locals, destroyed the local economy by causing rampant inflation as
    we bought all manner of crafts and jewelry for nothing while being gouged by the locals, met
    wonderful people, and witnessed poverty and generosity on scales unknown in the West. Looking back
    on a career in aviation spanning 40 years, it was truly the only meaningful, life-changing thing we ever
    did. There’s no doubt in my mind that it impacted all of us in the same way. It re-defined poverty. It
    gave us an insight into the world that we would never again see in our lives.

    The flying was a bit tedious because there were so few destinations, and there was no air conditioning
    due to the very fine sand in the air—the very same stuff in those hour glasses–that is carried by the
    wind for thousands of miles to other continents. It pitted the props, destroyed the air cycle machines
    that turned bleed air into conditioned air, and literally sand blasted engine components that often chose
    to fail at inopportune times—like an acceleration bleed valve that should have opened to un-load an
    enginge compressor but didn’t, causing the #4 engine to roll back while the #1, 2 and 3 went into full
    reverse. I promise that however bored you might be, that will definitely keep you awake for a week!

    We would be airborne by sunrise with 14 metric tons of grain destined for Gao, Goundam, Nioro or
    Tombouctou. Later in the day we could only airlift 10 metric tons due to the warmer temperature.
    While there were occasionally other destinations in Chad or a shuttle here or there, these small,
    unimproved fields occupied the majority of our time. Because of the extreme temperature we only shut
    down three engines while offloading; usually the #3 engine was left running, and usually the Co-pilot
    stayed in the 120 degree cockpit to mind the store. But as uncomfortable as it was for us, it paled in
    comparison to the men who unloaded the 50 kilo (110 pound) bags of grain sorghum—the stuff we
    feed livestock. Convicted thieves, these men were given the chance to earn back their right hands. In a
    Muslim country, one convicted of theft has his or her right hand amputated. By tradition, personal
    hygiene is accomplished with the left hand, and communal eating therefore only with the right. No
    right hand, no communal eating, and one is completely ostracized from public interaction. Typically a
    dozen men would offload 10-14 metric tons of grain one bag at a time in temperatures averaging 120
    degrees. It’s just another reason for an international aviator to keep his hands off what isn’t his!

    One evening Ted and I were at a social gathering in Bamako, and Ted turned around and slugged a guy
    in the chest. The guy held his hands up, and could have died. He’d tried to steal Ted’s wallet out of his
    back pocket. Had Ted ratted him out he would have been toast. The gent all but kissed Ted’s feet as he
    quickly disappeared from the room.

    We were constantly visited by VIPs from the states, Europe and the Embassy. As no one spoke French
    but me, it grew very annoying because the full Colonel commander (Chester Facett) was affronted that
    a mere second lieutenant would be more sought after than he. But after Bonjour, all communication
    tended to cease without me. ABC and CBS news sent teams, the Inspector General of the Foreign
    Service, the USAF, the American Ambassador, the President of Mali, etc all visited from time to time.
    Often we’d return from flying a mission to find someone in need of a translator, and off I’d go, leaving
    no time for lunch. Fortunately I’d brought several cases of Campbell’s Chunky Beef or Vegetable Soup
    with me, and nothing has ever tasted better than when prepared in the galley of a Herk. By the time I
    made it home I’d eaten every can.

    We were allowed to move unmanifested Tuaregs back to Bamako, and were doing so one day when
    Shelly Kelley said “There’s some guy speaking French over here and I don’t know what he’s trying to
    say.” He was a journalist who’d bought a round trip ticket from Paris months earlier, and had taken a
    river boat to Tombouctou. The Niger River had dried up, the boat of course had stopped running, and
    he’d been stranded, living off the locals and quite obviously a mess. I approached Ted about taking him
    to Bamako. “He’s not manifested, so it’s against the regs” said Ted. I said “There’s an unmanifested
    Tuareg chief carrying a spear with an unmanifested dead boar on the floor, and another Frog ain’t goin’
    to make a difference” I said. Ted mumbled something about me always trying to get him fired, walked
    away, and we took that French journalist back to Bamako. No one was ever happier to board a C-130!

    Ted, Bob and I departed Bamako for Dyess AFB toward the end of July, 1974. Ted had asked me to
    remind him to check something before we left. I reminded him on that day, but neither of us could
    remember what it was. Eventually we shrugged it off. En route to Lajes, we began rotating anyone
    who’d ever wanted to fly a plane through the cockpit, as maintenance had cannibalized or “canned” the
    autopilot and servos, an aux fuel pump, an HF radio and sundry other “spare parts” since we were
    going home and wouldn’t technically need these things for the journey. I was in the back winning a
    hand of cards when one of the guys rotating home with us said “Capt Heidemann wants you.” I told
    him I’d be up in a few minutes. He came right back and said “It’s important.” I said I’ll be right up. He
    came back seconds later, so I abandoned my cards and went to the cockpit. I could see the red idiot
    light, meaning fuel pump, paralleling valve or pressure switch had failed. We shut down the number 3

    engine, and I looked at Ted and said “Now I remember what you wanted me to remind you to check.”
    “What?” he asked. “The LPUs” I said. We’d left Bamako without life preservers. After a few hours
    of three engine flight over water, we were safely on the ground for what would end up being several
    nights. We got a message to USAF Logistics telling them we needed either a paralleling valve or
    pressure switch. We’d been able to confirm that the fuel pump was working. Sure enough, the next day
    a C-5 arrived from Dover AFB with only a fuel pump. The next support aircraft wasn’t due in for about
    5 days, and by this time we’d seen most of Lajes. We’d been gone for 6 weeks and we all wanted to go
    home. Ted set about finding LPUs, and I went looking for parts. I found a Navy CPO– a maintenance
    weenie–who traded my old C-130 parts for his P-3 parts—same engine, different series. The USAF
    won’t use non-USAF parts, so I took the old ones off and put the new ones on. We ran the engine, the
    idiot light went out, and we got a Navy mechanic to safety wire the parts. My cost—a bottle of Scotch
    for the parts, a six pack of beer for the safety wire job. Ted, however, had a tougher time with the
    LPUs…I recall a bottle of scotch and a couple cases of beer at the least!

    Stuck in Lajes, we took a cab to Angra on the far side of the island and ate at a lovely Portuguese
    restaurant called the Lusitania. I’ve been back several times since, and always eat the same meal we
    had that night: Al Catre, a sort of pot roast that is delicious. The night before we left we had what I’m
    sure remains one of the most memorable meals in our careers as aviators. We went to George the
    Crook’s in Praia (praia means beach in Portuguese, and it is the town closest to Lajes AB). We had
    African rock lobster dinners, Mateus wine, and all of the trimmings. The wine was just a few dollars a
    bottle, and the meal was $20 per kilo of lobster, with the trimmings thrown in for good measure. We
    over tipped and left $20 apiece for what was surely as good a meal as any of us has ever eaten.

    From Lajes we flew to Bermuda. Because the aux fuel pump had been canned, we couldn’t carry as
    much fuel as we normally would, so we sold the USAF on the need to fly to Bermuda before coming
    back to Dyess. While we only spent a single night, it was beautiful, the food was excellent, and
    everything was VERY EXPENSIVE. I do recall a huge per diem bump on the travel voucher, however.
    The next day we left Bermuda and flew non-stop to Dyess AFB. Once we hit the coast Mssrs.
    Heidemann and Carlson hit the bunks as they planned to drive to Colorado as soon as they cleared
    customs…to see the ladies they ultimately married. Yours truly was left alone at the helm to aviate,
    navigate, and communicate. With VORs, TACANs, airways, radar, and ATC it was a walk in the park
    after six weeks in Africa and the journey home with a limping airplane. And it was good to be home…

    I wanted to provide some provenance for the hourglasses. You can easily buy such devices for a few
    dollars in any homegoods store across America, but none will come with such unique sand, the African
    wood, nor with such colorful history. While the sand is of course tens of thousands of years old, the
    story of how it ended up in Arvada, Ferguson and Orlando in 1978 and 2012 is by comparison quite
    recent. Here’s hoping that many years from now our families can enjoy reading about how this
    occurred as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it. And of course, it goes without saying that (then) Lt
    Carlson’s decision nearly 40 years ago to bring back that bag of sand certainly was most important as
    well. By the way, how difficult was it to get that sand through customs? I bet it didn’t cause nearly the
    stir that Capt Heidemann’s large box of contraband, belonging to an unlikeable Army Major, did way
    back then…but we’ll leave that for another day.

    Here’s hoping 2013 is a great year for all of us, and perhaps a “Green Weasel” re-union is in store.

    Merry Christmas to the Heidemann and Carlson families from the Emmer family.

  22. Mike Gartland said,

    January 4, 2013 @ 10:17 pm

    Having read Bill Emmons letter to Red Ted et al, it brought back fond memories of going TDY to Mali for King Grain. Yeah, the foot baths were memorable for a fact. The flying conditions……..dust clouds to 18000 ft and the fact that shortly after we arrived, the cabin pressurization and the A/C system crapped out, were challenging to say the least. I flew with Capt. Molina as my driver. I can remember enjoying the Bamako Crud that a few caught. In fact, it haunted me for a number of years even after I got out of the service. Never did know what the heck it was, but it sure was not fun. I was on Capt. Molina’s plane the day he accepted the challenge from the Germans as to who could make the first turn-off after an assault landing. Just before touchdown, he reversed the props and made one of the more exciting landings of my career as a L/M in Hercs. I cannot remember if we won or not, but it was an interesting experience that I never wanted to repeat for any occasion.

    When my TDY was up, I flew home with Red Ted and his crew as their L/M. I can no longer remember the tail # of the plane, but suffice to say, it had no business flying anywhere, let alone back to the states. We layed over in Lajes to get a new engine and scared the snot out of some swab jockey in Bermuda with the #3 engine start up. Seems that #3 had some issues with its ignition and flooded with raw fuel before it ignited. Sure enough, when it lit off at Kindley, flame shot nearly all the way to the tail. The Navy fire guard was truly awe struck as he had never seen that act before. When we finally arrived back at Dyess, the plane was grounded with numerous “red” X’s and several pages of write-ups.

    I also was the 774th Loadmaster on 805 during it’s exciting trip to Hawaii. The FE was Sonny Beach, Zoomie heart, did not hesitate in the least and put the engine condition lever from feather to air start and lo and behold, god alone knows why, it worked. At that point the pucker factor was somewhat high and things were intense.

    I loved my time in the 774th. I had the honor of serving under Bennie Lopez as my NCOIC. Lt. Col. Wood was the C/O and Lt. Col. Mosely was ops officer and a damn good one. One of my best buddies was Bob VanAsdlan, who died up in Alaska of a freak accident. One of the others was Jon Annen, who was Heidemans FE on his hard crew.

  23. Daniel Murtagh said,

    April 29, 2013 @ 3:24 pm

    my father was a member of the 774TAS, 2nd Lt. Daniel Lee. he was on a flight that crashed in Turkey on 13 April, 1982. I was only one and a half at the time. I’m posting here in the hopes that maybe someone who knew or served with my father might read this and get in contact with me. being that I was only a baby when he died, I don’t know much about him and would like to learn more. if you did know or serve with my dad, 2nd Lt. Daniel Lee, please email me at danielrmurtagh@yahoo.com

    thanks to anyone who reads this and tries to help me

  24. Daniel Murtagh said,

    April 29, 2013 @ 3:34 pm

    Frank Savala, my father was on the plane with your father. i would love to talk or email with you about what you have found out. My father’s name was Daniel Lee. hopefully you still read these posts. take care

    dan murtagh

  25. Jon Martin said,

    May 24, 2013 @ 10:17 pm

    I just found this site and glad to see there are some folks posting who I flew with in 1973-1977. I was on several ROTES to Germany and England and did the Panama shortie 45 day boondoggle.

    I remember flying LAPES with John “Happy” Happ as the AC and all the fun we had trying to pass the ORI for second time while Col Sam Barrett was the Wing King. He was not liked very much. Me and Monty Harper worked the Safety office at that time. One day I had forgotten my tie and Monty drew one for me and cut it out of paper, colored it blue with a pen and pined it on my shirt. It got a couple of laughs. I met up with Steve Slivinski years later at Rhine Mein where I was stationed with the 7405th Ops Sq. Clay Baily (otherwise known as Maxwell C.) was commanding the 37th TAS at the time and he was an old Green Weasel too. I remember Red Ted and the rest of the guys Bill Emmer mentioned and Doc Boyle as well. Those were good days with a great squadron and we had a lot of fun flying the old Herky bird around. I retired in 91 and went to fly with United for 12 more years but, that was never anywhere near the fun and enjoyment of being an Air Force pilot. I still have my weasel patch on my old A-2 jacket. Hope to hear from some of you. I live near Denver now.

  26. Buzz Howard said,

    September 28, 2013 @ 3:42 pm

    Remembrances for Rocky Skillern, United captain, 63, from Humble, TX. Rocky was the captain who suffered the fatal heart attack that was covered in the paper the other day. Everyone has Rocky stories. He was part of the glue that held the squadron together in the late 70s. Frank Kistler was his roomate one rotation…how in heck that happened…? Frank was collecting “fine wines” from Europe and Rocky managed to drink everything Frank had collected during a trip “downstram.” Frank was madder than a hornet and made Rocky promise he would replace every last bottle. Rocky promised. Frank got back from a trip and every bottle of fine wine was replaced…with Black Cat! Even Frank managed a smile and I am sure he was no longer put out with Rocky. To Rocky…gone west…silent toast!

  27. John Assalone said,

    September 12, 2014 @ 2:20 am

    I do look forward to attending a reunion in the near future. To say I was a little wild back in da day may be understatement. But in some ways that’s how it was. I remember one of my Lt brethren so waking up in the colonels parking space after we moved him and his bed there . 82-86

    On an iPad so typing is not easy

  28. Eric Richstein said,

    April 15, 2017 @ 3:41 am

    Hi Guys, I was a Nav in 709th TAS from Nov 1969 to Feb 1971 at Clark.
    I had to miss the last two reunions but hope I can make the next one.
    Interested in getting in touch with anyone who may remember me and seeing how they are doing after all these years. After leaving Clark I wound up in the 62 TAS at LRAFB. Left active service in 1973 to return to grad school in Washington, DC and in April 1974 joined C-5 unit at DAFB for next ten years and finished out my time on Air Staff @ Pentagon and then retired.
    Hope to hear from some one out there. Fly safe, Eric

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