Stars & Stripes Article on the 360th TEWS

The Sky Has Ears

Young Men, Antique Ladies
Eavesdrop on Communists

Tan Son Nhut AB, Vietnam (Special)-Men of the 360th Tactical Electronics Warfare Squadron here can make the claim few other units in the US Air Force can match - on an average, their aircraft are older than the men who fly them.

Called "Antique Airlines", the unit is equipped with the oldest aircraft in the USAF inventory, the venerable C-47 skytrain. Most of these grand old ladies of the airways are pushing 30 years of age, while the majority of the men who fly them are barely halfway through their 20's.

Comparative youngsters such as 1st Lt. Gene E. Carton, Capt. William J. Gallaher, and Capt. Marshall E. Collins, all 26 have learned to handle the old aircraft with the skill these flying model-A's have come to expect.

When on the ground, the C-47's receive the attention of even younger men. Mechanics and maintenance specialists such as Sgt. Robert E. Thorton, 20; Sgt. Ron A. Combs, 21; and A1c Rudolph T. Woolridge, 19, have become experts at keeping the old girls flying. While some may claim that they have to mix Geritol with the engine oil, the fact still remains that the Antique C-47's seldom miss a scheduled flight.

The old addage, "You're only as old as you feel", certainly applies to the C-47's of the 360th. Their sweeping wings an smoothly flowing lines enable them to blend in well with the more modern-looking aircraft with which they share the parking revetments. The aircraft may be old on the outside, but what they carry inside is as modern as tomorrow.

The 360th TEWS is a communications monitoring unit. Packed with a varity of special equipment and well-trained men, the aircraft are used to monitor enemy communications in Vietnam.

In the 30 or more years most of these aircraft have been around, handling another task has become common place. From its humble beginnings as a cargo hauler, the C-47 has grown to handle a varity of other jobs.

Armed with Three 7.62 mm miniguns, the C-47's paved the way for gunship development in Southeast Asia. Many of these early C-47's are still serving in this role with the Republic of Vietnam Air Force.

Other C-47's in combat are fighting in psychological war, dropping millions of leaflets, each urging the enemy in the jungles below to give up the fight and rally to the side of the Government of the Republic. Still others are used to transport dignitaries.

One C-47 of the 360th's sister squadron, the 361st TEWS, even became an interceptor. An unidentified aircraft was flying in the Republic of Vietnam and ground controller contacted the aircraft nearest to it on the radar scope, ordering it to intercept and identify. "Roger", came the reply.

Having second thoughts, the controller then asked, "What's your armament?"

The C-47 pilot simply replied, One .38 calibre pistol and 25 rounds".

Controller: "What are you?"

Funny, perhaps, but the fact still remains that the C-47 pilot, armed to the teeth with his lowly little .38, did make the interception, and successfully identified the wayward aircraft as friendly.

Young men flying an old aircraft, an anachronism, yet as modern as tomorrow. The young men of the 360th and the other units in Southeast Asia still flying the C-47 have come to respect their Veteran Aircraft. Who knows, perhaps their sons are years or so, when their sons are ready to begin flying they too may look at awe at their "New" mount - the way it's going now, the old C-47 just might still be around.

NOTE: This article was retyped from a clipping from the Stars and Strips Newspaper. Due to difficulties in the original 3 colums, it was retyped in a single column. Other than that, it looks pretty much like the original. J.C.

I also in Dec. 98, received another copy of this same article as it appeared
in The Observer on Janurary 28, 1972. This copy sent by Dick Auriero. Thanks.

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