"History from Memory "Pleiku"|
By Richard Pare, CMSGT USAF(RET)
JC, I prowled your website, and you did have my first 362d commander listed,
Lt. Col. Benjamin Losiewicz "Gentle Ben". However, the dates are wrong as he
did have an overlap of a few week with Lt.Col. Courtney. I think I can safely
say we didn't like L/C Courtney for many reasons. I had my own reasons. When
Col. Losiewicz left I gave him a model of 131. The airplane was named "Gentle
Ben". About a month later, col. Courtney called me to his office and gave
me a C-47 model kit and told me to make him a model like Col. Losewitz's.
About four months later, about a week before I rotated, I gave it back to him
and told him I hadn't had time to build it.
How did "131" become "Gentle Ben"? Months ran together over there but I will
say it was the summer of 71 and "131" was sent to Okinawa for corrosion
control and paint. On the way back, it lost an engine. When it it got to
DaNang it needed another engine change. Quality pulled an inspection on the
airplane. One of the discrepancies was a left main gear actuator leak.
Hydraulics was changing the actuator and couldn't get the actuator mount bolt
in. They pulled the gear lock in the cockpit and had the gear pin out on the
gear. While manhandling the actuator to get in the bolt, the gear collapsed
trapping and killing the hydraulic specialist in the wheel well. The second
hydraulic specialist got his arm pinned by the wheel well door. The only thing
that saved his life was the fact we always pointed our props down. The prop
was buried about six inches into the ramp and was probably stopped by the
PSP under the asphalt. "131" was a man-killer, a jinx ship, and the crews
would not fly it. Day after day it aborted, more often than not without even
starting engines. Col. Losiewicz came out and took 131 out on a mission. He
did the same the next day. On landing he declared the airplane as safe and
Although markings were not allowed, that night we stenciled "Gentle Ben" on
the side of the nose. Col. Losiewicz loved it and allowed us to stencil names
on all the airplanes. I am told "131' was destroyed on the ground during a
rocket attack in April 1972. Maybe it was a jinx ship.
Later, after the 360 TRW folded, the 362d became a hand-me-down orphan. These
were the beginning of bad times. In the fall or winter of 71, we got Phu Cat's
R-1830 powered ECs. We considered the R-2000 engined EC-47Q as super goons
although my understanding of the engine change was the R-2000 had a 300 watt
generator versus the 200 watt of the R-1830 giving increased electronics
At any rate, we came under the 366 TFW, and one of their F-4 squadrons had
tiger teeth. Even the HH-43 ended up with tiger teeth. We put a set of tiger
teeth on one of the Qs (either 730 or 204) and maintenance was real proud of
it. The airplane deployed to the FOL in Thailand and they demanded the tiger
teeth be removed. The crew chief declined and they painted out the teeth.
We were told we could put tiger teeth on the R-1830s (they did not deploy)
but not the R-2000s. We didn't have the heart for it.
I can remember we had one young Captain who always wrote up engine oil leaks.
The E-8 Shift Chief kept telling the Captain oil leaks were part of life on
recips and that's why we had a 25 gallon oil tank for each engine. The Captain
kept writing his oil leaks. One day, he air aborted for an oil leak and
rightfully so. A valve rocker arm push rod had slipped and punched a hole in
the rocker box cover. As soon as he got out of the airplane, the E-8 grabbed
the Captain and took him to the tail of the airplane. Pointing to the oil
running off the elevator, the E-8 pronounced, "Now that's an oil leak!
Bye the way, the 4th dog's name was "Ginger" and she adopted us at DaNang
while the other three (Woofer, Nichol, and Beauregard) came from Plieku. We
loved those dogs. We would get off shift at midnight and we'd often catch a
1 a.m. movie. If condition were hairy, we stayed up to about 5 a.m and BSed
If the dogs whimpered and ran for the barracks, it was time to hit the dirt.
They heard incoming before it hit while the boom was our first indication.
If it was a Boom-Boom it wasn't close but if it was a solid single Crack, we
could expect to hear or feel the falling dirt.
After the Marines left, rocket attacks fell off significantly but we'd get
the occasional reminders. I still have some pieces of rocket shrapnel I picked
up on our ramp. You have to admit, Charlie fought an excellent
I haven't located my black book yet. I had made sketches of "131" to build
the model and one of the modeling group guys turned the sketches into drawings.
I knew where the drawings were. With the "131" drawings, was an outline drawing
I had made of the 362d South Ramp (We created a TEWS North Ramp for the Phu Cat
airplanes. It was located on the old C-123 "Bookie" ramp next to 15th Aerial
Port.) My sketch had the revetment assignments for each airplane and the crew
chief. That's and some memory is where the message board input came from.
For some reason, I couldn't add this to the message board. This has to be a
memory test. Would anybody care to help me. 362 TEWS, DaNang Field, I arrived
in Mar. 71. The Good times: Commander - "Gentle Ben" (Don't ask me to spell his
name although I remember it) Swing Shift Supervisor: SMSgt Morgan, My Supervisor
MSgt George Bard, Supervisor on other shift. MSgt Hurt (Fred or George?). Swing
Expeditors - TSgt Gaylord, TSgt Brown. Crew Chiefs/EC-47Q Tail number.
SSgt Pringle -#8087, SSgt Randolph - #9570, SSgt Slothouser - #8636, SSgt Stoltz
- #5204, SSgt Jones - #9771, TSgt. Dan Flores - #8009, SSgt Bennett - #6029, A1C
Ergy (Sp?) -#3704, A1C Phelps/A2C Evanoski - #0730, TSgt Bird - #5681, "Shadow" -
#9208, SSgt Bocz -#1131.
362 TEWS North: ex Phu Cat birds - 313, 702, 980 "The Black Eagle", 865. (10 in all).
Dogs: "Woofer", "Nichol", "Beauregard, ? "Das Fliegen Machinen (sp)", "Das Fliegen
Machinen Phasen Docken", "Das Fliegen Machinen Spitten Bangen Werke". The case of the disappearing scrounged bench stock". Anybody want to add to this?
Nice website JC, keep up the good work.