EC-47 43-48009 Crashes November 10, 1971

EC-47 43-15133 Destroyed in Rocket Attack, 1970

From: [email protected]
Date: Sunday, August 30, 1998 8:47 PM

Hi JC,

I saw Mr. Millers page on tail numbers for EC-47's. I guess that answers my question of two airplanes having the same last three numbers. 45-1133 was a EC-47P which was shot down, and 43-15133 was a EC-47N which he states was destroyed on the ground by rocket fire at Pleiku in May 1970. He asks if this was the plane in the photo. (I'm assuming he means the one on the page of slides I sent you.)

I think I can say yes on this. I looked at the slide mount and it had Apr 70 stamped on it. I know for sure that the melted propellers came from the plane that was hit by rocket fire that day. The slides of the melted props was stamped June 70, so the dates seem to jive.

I had to think about it for a while, and this is how I remember it. I was off duty in the barracks area at the time. It was during daylight hours when the first 122 mm Katusha(spelling?) rocket hit the flightline scoring an almost direct hit on the aircraft, which had a full load of fuel on board, and it burst into flame.

The air-raid siren sounded and everybody was running into the bunkers when a second Katusha landed in the street between two barracks. It must have had a delayed fuse, because it burrowed into the ground before it exploded, blowing a crater about 10 feet deep and 20 feet across. Two Purple Hearts were earned that day. One was a mechanic on the flightline, whose name I cant recall, who suffered shrapnel wounds. Fortunately they weren't life threatening. The other was Sgt. "Smokie" Smoak, who, like me, was off duty in the barracks area, but didn't quite make it into the bunker fast enough, and was hit in the head with a football size chunk of blacktop. Again, fortunately, his injuries weren't life threatening either, and after a few days in the hospital, he was good as new.

Sgt. Smoak's picture is on page 60 in the year book. That night I went to work, but the SP's had the revetment cordoned off, so we couldn't get too close. After checking for any more unexploded ordinance, they brought in a big front end loader and scooped the remains of 133 into a dump truck and hauled it away. From that day on until we moved to DaNang a few months later, we had to work in our flak jackets and steel helmets. And heaven help you if the chief of maintenance caught you not wearing them, you would be in for a sever repremand.

Well, JC, I hope this helps. If you want to forward any of this to Mr. Miller, or include it in any way on the site, be my guest.

Regards, John Fuertinger

The below information was received on February, 12, 2002 from another eye witness, the Maintenance Flight Chief, MSgt Edwin L. Diehl, on duty at the time of the attack.

My name is Edwin L Diehl and I was stationed with the 362 TEWS in aircraft maintenance at Pleiku and DaNang, March 1970 to March 1971.I was a MSgt. and was a Flight Chief at the time aircraft 133 got the direct hit.

I was making my rounds checking what maintenance problems we had on the mission returning aircraft. I stopped at aircraft 133 and talked with the young crew chief. He was an A1C but I do not remember his name, there were two or three airman from A and E or Field Maintenance squadrons also at the aircraft working.

The crew chiefs biggest problem was the aircraft had a fuel leak and he was removing the under body panel that had a million screws in it to get to the fuel cell.

I left 133 and was walking up the ramp checking on the other aircraft. A Ssgt. Podaka ( Spelling ?? ) ask me to help him run a engine he had just changed a oil pressure transmitter on. We had finished, I was standing in front of his aircraft looking west (it seemed to me) the SSgt was standing on the left wing in the process of closing up his aircraft for it was ready to go.

The first rocket hit near the md-3 ( electrical generator ) as I was looking that direction, the blast blew the SSgt. off the wing, for we were only three or four aircraft away from 133. There were small bunkers at the end of each reventment wall, big enough to hold two people, where the other two guys come from I don't know but there were four of us in that small bunker looking to the west, the second rocket hit aircraft 133 dead center. I assure you if the third rocket had come our way nothing would have hit us in the head for we were no longer looking, it might have hit us on our butts for all four of our heads were on the ground with our rears in the air, like I said the bunkers were small, maybe big enough for two people.

We saw the radome and the cockpit section blow across the ramp in front of the aircraft. I was so worried about the airman working on 133. My heart told me to go check on them but my feet would not move, a feeling I don't know how to explain.

The all clear siren blew in just a few minutes, I took off running not knowing what I was going to find. I and the others got there looking for the crew chief and the other airman, at first we didn't see them but all of a sudden they came out of the large bunker across the ramp. I ran over and grabbed the crew chief and gave him a big hug, I know he thought I was crazy, I was a happy person. His only words were " Sgt. I don't have to fix the fuel leak now ".

What happened when the first rocket hit, the crew chief said he laid down under the aircraft and the others did the same. The crew chief said something told him to run to the bunker across the ramp ( the good lord up above ), the others followed him with the last one getting a little help being blown into the bunker from the second rocket blast. No one was hurt. This story had a very good ending.

A week or so later another rocket hit the md-3 that was supplying power to an aircraft that was parked in the same spot 133 had been parked. After that we didn't do any maintenance on aircraft parked on that spot. We did the maintenance on the aircraft parked up the ramp and when there was no maintenance left we'd tow them to the spot where 133 had been hit, if another rocket come in it may have got another aircraft but at least not any people. The next time we may not be so lucky.

J. C. This is my story, it may be to long or not worded correctly, be my guest if it needs changed. Ed Diehl.

Am sending (attachment) you a pic of AN133 burned up in the revetment at Pleiku in May 1970. I was sked out on this bird that morning, but ran for the bunker (0430) when the rockets (mortors?) came pounding in. After the attack, and after we showed up, they put us on another bird. The fire was still smoking from the 133 revetment. Ed Benningfield