Rest in peace my friends

I’d like you to meet five guys I met when I was in Vietnam. These guys were the crew aboard a Lockheed C-130E serial number 62-1785, of the 314th Tactical Airlift Wing based at Ching Chuan Kang Ab, China.

990101-F-5502B-002
Lockheed C-130E (Wikipedia)

On September 6, 1968, this aircraft had taken off from Tuy Hoa Air Field (the home of the 31st Tactical Fighter Wing) and was delivering cargo to the airfield at Bao Loc, where I was located for most of my time in Vietnam. September is  a rainy time in Vietnam and it was solidly overcast about three thousand feet above our heads. Bao Loc about 85 miles southwest of Cam Rahn Bay Air Force Base and is in the southern end of the Central Highlands and is surrounded by mountains on three sides, all extending well above the cloud base.


We could hear the C-130 approaching – the distinctive sound of four turboprop engines can be heard for miles. Our runway is oriented east-west, located at the northern end of the town, and has a base camp named Camp Smith located along its side. That is where I was located, at the forward logistic support activity. Once we heard the aircraft approach, we headed to the airport to unload the incoming flight.

It never arrived. About two miles south of our camp, flying at an altitude just below the clouds, 62-1785 was hit by ground fire. The pilot attempted to land the crippled aircraft, but crashed near the small village of Tan Phat.

We loaded up on a couple of trucks and headed to the crash site to do what we could to rescue the survivors. The aircraft was completely destroyed. We recovered the remains of the crew and brought them back to camp for the first step in their final journey home.

In 2010 I visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall at Washington DC, paying my respects to these five casualties of that war.

The crew:
Pilot: Capt David Horace Risher. His name is on the Wall at Coordinates 45W 051. He is interred at Arlington National Cemetery – Arlington, Virginia.

Pilot: Capt Leonard Selanikio. His name is on the Wall at Coordinates 45W 057. He is interred at Long Island National Cemetery – Farmingdale, New York.

Navigator: Maj Eugene Winfield Hartman. His name is on the Wall at Coordinates 45W 052. He is interred at Arlington National Cemetery – Arlington, Virginia.

Flight Engineer TSgt Ralph James Lund. His name is on the Wall at Coordinates 45W 059 Cemetery Unknown.

Loadmaster Sgt. Jesus Ochoa. His name is on the Wall at Coordinates 45W 055. He is interred at Holy Hope Cemetery and Mausoleum – Tucson, Arizona

Rest in peace my friends.

About Terry Welshans

I grew up in Burbank, California. My dad worked at a company that made sub assemblies for about every airplane made in the 1960-1970 era, so it was only natural that the aviation bug bit me while I was quite young. I hold a commercial pilot certificate and fly as much as I can. I live in Bardstown, Kentucky with my wife, moving here after we retired. I am a Vietnam veteran and a cancer survivor. I like to keep politicians honest, and do so when they open an avenue where I feel they have erred.
This entry was posted in American History, Heroism, Memorial, USAF, Vietnam, World History. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Rest in peace my friends

  1. rafflaw says:

    True heroes!

  2. It did not feel right to click “Like” on this. Interpret the “Like” as appreciating the story and the fact you posted it.

    I am glad they were recovered and brought home right away. some were not so lucky. My friend Chambless Chesnutt went down on September 30, 1965. He and his back seater laid out in that stinking fetid jungle for twenty years until their crash site was found in 1985. He is back home in Little Rock.

    • shortfinals says:

      I am reduced to a silenced awe by the huge amount of selfless sacrifice which comes to light on this blog.

  3. Ron Stokes says:

    Thanx Terry, and ‘Welcome Home Brother’.

    • Terry Welshans says:

      Where and when Ron?

      • Ron Stokes says:

        1970… 589th Engineers, Co ‘C’, Song Pha, RVN. Luckily I was a Draftee and only had 11 months left when I got my orders. Nixon began an ‘Early Out’ program but since I didn’ do a full tour i didn’t qualify, but doing 30 days less than everyone else was good enough for me.

        • Terry Welshans says:

          I was RA with 3 years. At the end of my time in RVN I could have extended a few months to get an early out, but yearned for just getting out of there.

          Our convoys from Cam Rahn on Highway 1 to Phan Rang turned inland and passed through Song Pha on Highway 27A, then to Dalat, and then down QL20 to Bao Loc. Lots of ambushes along that part of the road. Engineers were using Rome Plows to widen the sides out to remove cover along the way. Welcome Home!

          • Ron Stokes says:

            Damn, That highway you traveled is very familiar to me. The only diff’rence is we (589th) laid down the part of that highway that went over the Good View Pass above Song Pha. Sorry we weren’t there sooner because that dirt road Hwy #1 you used was ‘black top’ when we were done. We still had ambushes and booby traps (IED’s today) but mostly they just blew up our sewer pipes on the mountain. Luckily in my time there we only lost 2 men to enemy activity. I say luckily because other units had many times that. Agent Orange lessened the mileage on our Rome plows, LOL.

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