"The 361st TEWS moves to Phu Cat"

"Thanks to Jack W. Shelton Jr."

One of the great things about the net is discovery. I had just finished reading several books about the great airman who guided the air corps through WW II and got to thinking about my own experiences in SEA so I searched for EC-47 and there I found your wonderful website, too good to be true. Here is a little bit of my story as Prong 21.

I reported to the 361st as a First Lt. pilot in Mar 69. The unit was still at Nha Trang. By the time I made Capt I was an instructor pilot and served as the ass't training office and was also the movement coordinator for the unit relocation to Phu Cat. Everyday the squadron give me two birds that we had stripped the rear stations out of. During the day we'd fill them with all our squadron stuff and when a crew got back from a normal mission we put them in the cargo bird and send them north. We'd fly two to four loads a day up to Phu Cat. When it was all over, it took about 40 sorties. We moved everything we owned on those flights except engine stands and the commander's jeep. The jeep went by boat only after I gave up trying to get it through the C-47 cargo doors. I knew they did it in WW II but we just couldn't the jeep to swing around of the tines of the forklift correctly.

My favorite move story was about finding bed sheets. Phu Cat said they didn't have any and Nha Trang said we couldn't take the ones we had. One of the flight engineers went to work on the problem. In about a week he came to me and said to send an empty airplane to Dalat where a Vietnamese Army unit had hundreds of sheets that had never been unpacked. The South Vietnamese want to trade their sheets for a U.S. Army 2.5 Ton truck. We got the truck from a U.S. Marine outfit by trading them a bunch of aircraft tools. We got the tools from squadron maintenance section. I didn't want to know how the Marines got the truck and I never ask who drove the truck up to Dalat. I hope it was a marine.

At Phu Cat I became a Standardization and Evaluation Flight Examiner and served in that capacity until returning to the States in Mar 70, While at Phu Cat my first in country navigator was killed when one of our birds lost the primary power converter on an instrument approach back into Phu Cat one afternoon. The plane was under radar control at about 1500 ft less than 10 miles from the end of the runway. The problem was they where right in the edge of a thunderstorm when they lost power to the flight instruments. The weather was rough for the next week and or commander Lt Col Kennedy and the recover team had a difficult time finding our crews' remains. I'm so thankful you had the crews' names on your website. It took the squadron about two weeks to settle down after this accident. It was the rainy season and we would spend a good deal of each 8 hour mission flying IFR. None of us wanted to do that considering the accident and the unlikely ability to fix targets under these kind of weather conditions.

Because of the accident there was a safety of flight field modification implemented. You may remember that the alternate converter was in the tail of the aircraft and the nav or flight engineer had to back to activate the unit if the primary failed. I think the modification called for the activation switch to be moved up to the front compartment.

I have good memories of that year in SEA. During my tenure with the 361st we didn't do a yearbook but your site had both the one just before and after my time. Thanks for the memories.

After my assignment on the EC-47 I returned when back to MAC as a C-141 pilot and spent the rest of my career in that command serving as a stan eval pilot in a squadron, numbered air force, Hq MAC and then moved into the rated supplement as both a Security Police commander and aircraft maintenance squadron commander. After the Air War College in 1983 I become the Director of Assignments for MAC and then went to the Pentagon as the Director of the Personnel Plans Division. When I hit 20 years I retired and become a Baptist minister. I've since retired again and just garden.

Jack W. Shelton Jr. Col, USAF, Retired