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.
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.
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.