In 1967 I was a C-141 aircraft commander flying out of Travis AFB. We were staging out of Clark AFB when I got a call late one night to report with my crew at the earliest time for an emergency air evacuation mission. I was told I would be augmented with extra crewmembers as it would be a long mission. When we reported I was advised we were to proceed to Saigon and to expect instructions when we landed.
We arrived at Saigon about three hours later and were met by an ambulance and a staff car. I was told I would have one passenger who was to be accompanied by a doctor and two nurses. A young man on a stretcher was onloaded, but I didn't get a good look at him at the time. I was given my flight plan which took me to Japan for fuel and then nonstop to the Brooks burn center in San Antonio, Texas. I was glad that they had augmented us with additional crewmembers as this was going to be the longest flight of my career. Before takeoff I didn't have time to get into the rationale for the urgency of the mission with the command post, or why only one passenger(with attendants). I would have to get more information later.
After takeoff, I gave the airplane to my copilot and went back to the patient. The doctor told me that the soldier had been hit by a phosphorus shell but had not been killed. He was, however, horribly burned. They had him heavily sedated and were giving him full time, and very attentive, care as he was delirious. It was very heartrending as I could see that he was in very bad shape.
We landed in Japan for fuel and then took off again for Texas and landed some 12 hours later. The young man was still alive when we landed. We were met by a team of people that immediately drove him off to the hospital.
To this day I do not know is this fine soldier lived. Thirty-eight years later I still think of him and wonder, and hope, that he survived. I also think about what a wonderful country we live in that would spend tens of thousands of dollars in an effort to save the life of one soldier.
I hope that someone might know the outcome of the story. I pray we succeeded and feel that it was one of the most important missions of my career. God bless him wherever he is.