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C141Heaven: 2011 Blog

Thursday, December 29, 2011 09:51 am

Crew Latrine

It seems like an odd request, but does anyone have a photo of the C-141 crew latrine? I got a note from someone working on a book and he needs one. If you had an interest in taking photos of this aspect of the C-141 please send it along so I can forward it to him. Contact me via email if you can come up with anything..

Sunday, December 11, 2011 08:00 am

Air France 447

One person's view on the Air France 447 crash. It has an quite interesting take how such a thing could happen to anyone. There's a link in this story to the Popular Mechanics article which contains a full transcript of the last minutes of the flight.

You can also download the Popular Mechanics article in PDF form from this link (about 3.7mb)[Right-Click-Save-As].

Saturday, December 10, 2011 12:49 pm

Class 1 Accidents

Here's a link to a PDF file (about 1.8mb) listing all C141 Class-1 incidents from some sort of AF system that tracks these sorts of things.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011 11:51 am

New Photo of 65-0253 Refueling Accident (7 Oct 1993)

Phil Webb submitted the photo below. Note the life raft on a flight-of-fancy just to the left of the aircraft.

Sunday, October 30, 2011 09:02 am

Piece of Crap Plane

Got this link via email from Steve Burgess. Admit it, there were times we all said this.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011 03:57 pm

64-0641 -- Olympic Mountains Crash

For no particular reason I was searching the web this morning for more information and comments about the crash of 64-0641 and came across a Washington state history web site that had quite a list of newspaper article references which you can view towards the bottom of the tail number page.

Try as I might I was unable to locate any of them .. but if you live in the Seattle area and have a Seattle Public Library card you can supposedly access the archives of all the Seattle Times (and possibly the Seattle-PI). If you are the curious sort and have time to waste I'd greatly appreciate any of the source articles mentioned in the list referenced above.

Since I was in the base theater when General John H. Gonge went postal on Colonel Schafer (I think he was deputy wing commander or possibly 62nd operations commander..can't quite remember), I'm particularly seeking the two articles from the Times noted in the reference list for March 28th!

If you are a Tacoma resident the Tacoma-News-Tribune might even have more articles in the late March/May/June '75 time frame as well. A little research project for your spare time.

Contact me via email if you can come up with anything..

Sunday, September 11, 2011 07:18 am

Never Forget

Wednesday, September 7, 2011 04:03 pm

Unidentified Tail #

While browsing through some unposted photos today I found the image below. I can't make out a tail number or location. The only hint as to age is the unpainted area in front of the empennage which suggests an early crash. If anyone knows which aircraft this was please contact me via email.

The original photo I had a copy of was a very damaged black and white print. While retouching tears and dust spots I had the image blown up to a very high magnification and noticed the remains of an engine just in front of the tail section.

Sunday, September 4, 2011 11:47 am

The Crash of 67-0006

I received this scan of an article from the Peterborough Evening Telegragh from Martin Hall. Martin lives in Great Britain just a few miles from the site of the crash of 67-0006, which happened 35 years ago.

Note the opening paragraph ... referring the the C-141 as a "small jet aircraft". Also, the middle column says "... a 27,000 pound cargo load restricted the number of people on board." [Don't believe everything you read in the papers].

Earlier in the week, Richard Humphrey, also sent two links with photos of the site of the crash:

Link #1        Link #1

GEOGRAPH is an interesting site whose aim is to collect geographically representative photographs and information for every square kilometer of Great Britain and Ireland. The site generously allows re-posting of it's photos (with proper attributions). Here's a series of them.

© Copyright Richard Humphrey

Entrance to the Memorial Site ... © Copyright Richard Humphrey

© Copyright Richard Humphrey

© Copyright Ian Simmons

Thorney Dyke Road ... near the memorial site © Copyright Julian Dowse

© Copyright Tony Bennett

Monday, August 29, 2011 11:39 am

Nice Note From Former Pilot ... Don Brown

I just finished looking at the"Patches" section and our "Flower Mouse" from the 58th MAS. I will dig in the basement for my Mouse with the Atom symbol on his shoulder.

I arrived from Tinker in 1967 as the only 2/Lt in a 1,200 or so man squadron. There were 16 Browns. I was immediately dubbed "Whitey Brown". The Squadron Commander was a Bird Colonel who asked me if I would sew 1/Lt bars on for my first trip. Being a non-politician, I replied "If you can get me the paycheck."

First trip was with Lt.Col Jim Martin (15,000 hrs in C-124) A student Nav LtCol Mattei with 18,000 hrs to his Lt.Col Hatton Instructor with 20,000 hrs. The Loadmaster and Flight Engineer made me their "toy" pilot for the next 10 days. The MSgt.s had about 45,000 hours between them, so I was a real novelty.

I flew the"A" model for some 3,500 hours with an intervening tour on EC-47's.

Many years later I married Capt. Terri Ollinger who had only flown "B" models.

As a "bucket list" item, we took our son to Wright-Patt just before the deactivation of all C-141's. Here we are inside the "Freedom Bird" for the POW's in Viet Nam, as we flew what was, by that time a "C" Model C-141 on the way to Dover.

Don Brown, MAC Animal (Ret)

Saturday, August 27, 2011 09:12 am

The C-141 Still Makes the News, (occasionally)

Base 'stretched' C-141s in 1979
by Mark Wilderman
60th Air Mobility Wing History Office

8/25/2011 - TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- On Aug. 14, 1979, the 60th Military Airlift Wing sent the first of its 39 Lockheed C-141A Starlifter aircraft to the Lockheed-Georgia plant near Dobbins Air Force Base, Marietta, Ga., to be upgraded, or "stretched."

When the C-141A first entered service in April 1965, it became apparent that the aircraft's volume capacity was low compared to its lifting capacity. In other words, the C-141A ran out of physical cargo space before reaching its weight-carrying limit.

The stretch consisted of adding a 160-inch fuselage plug in front of the wing and 120-inch fuselage plug behind the wing, increasing the length of the cargo deck by 23 feet 4 inches. In addition, the upgrade included the installation of an air refueling receptacle on the upper fuselage, just behind the cockpit. The modified aircraft were designated C-141B.

By stretching the 270 C-141s in the Military Airlift Command fleet, the Air Force gained capability equal to an additional 90 new aircraft, plus increased range from the new air refueling capability.

On April 11, 1980, the first C-141B assigned to an operational wing in Military Airlift Command arrived at Travis, sporting the new gray and green "Lizard" camouflage scheme more suitable for combat operations. The last of MAC's 270 C-141 conversions was completed in 1982.

C-141s operated at Travis from 1965 to 1997, bridging the gap between the piston-powered Douglas C-124 Globemaster II and the Boeing C-17A Globemaster III. The Travis C-141s were retired in December 1997.

One of the 13 surviving C-141s, "The Golden Bear," is on display here at the corner of Burgan Boulevard and Travis Avenue.

Photo by Irving Williams, © 2005
Note:This photo has been edited with Photoshop (though not especially skillfully, by Mike Novack) to remove a hideous traffic light pole that exists on the corner in reality (who needs/wants reality these days anyway?) It appeared right in the middle of the aircraft when the picture was snapped from across intersection, so I 'zapped' it for a much nicer image.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011 10:14 am

Norton Vets Group Still Trying.

I got this note this morning from Ed Jeffries who is still working hard for a C-141 Memorial at the old March AFB


I am Edward Jeffries Msgt USAF retired Flight Engineer who was stationed at Norton AFB Ca.

After all the planes left Norton, and none were still flying I was selected by a group of AF vets to try to save one C-141 serial number (64-0614). We gave a lot of time and money trying to get the bird transferred to Norton to make a memorial to all that flew and maintained this wonderful beautiful flying machine.

The Air Force lead us along for two years thinking that it would cost around $15,000 plus transportation. Them in 2011 they told us that the price was (hold your hats) $165,340 (and that's for just the front 40 feet). We don't have enough room for the whole fuselage but we do have a place that will make a beautiful Brick Memorial Garden where the sun shines almost everyday. Even though it's now the San Bernardino International Airport to the public >em>IT'S STILL NORTON TO US .

Now for the bricks. The cost is $100 each they will have three lines with 20 spaces, where one can place their name, rank, dates for on station and anything to their desire as long as it isn't foul. they are engraved and blue epoxy is placed in the letters. They do look very good.

Use your imagination..Here's a photo of our sample brick:

It's not necessary to have been stationed at Norton to sponsor a brick. If you want to be remembered just send your check which is tax deductible along with what you want on the brick. We will get them and place them around the area. We are hoping to have the dedication in late 2011 or 2012.

Send to 63/445 Norton Vets
7125 Elmwood Rd.
San Bernardino, Ca. 92404.


Thanks Ladies and gentlemen.

Ed Jeffries Msgt USAF (retired)

Sunday, August 14, 2011 11:36 pm

Early Morning..A Long Time Ago.

Ron Reel. Taken the morning his unit deployed to RVN.

Sunday, August 14, 2011 10:22 pm

Those Darn Chinese!

Just when we learn they are launching their first flat-top, the one-up themselves with this on the drawing board.

Painted Blue to Boot

AND Folding Wings!

Sunday, August 14, 2011 10:22 pm

Just showed up in my inbox

Thoughts of a C-17 Aircraft Commander Thoughts on a recent day at work

I had an unforgettable day yesterday and wanted to share it with you. I know we've all sat around and discussed in detail why we do what we do and if we will be willing to continue to do what we do day in and day out regardless of deployments, retirement decisions, job opportunities, missed birthdays, missed holidays, etc. This is something I wanted to share and you were the people that came to mind. It's another reason I continue to serve.I guess because many others do and sacrifice a lot more, some even their lives.

My crew was alerted yesterday to find that our mission had changed. We were now a backup to a high priority mission originating from Afghanistan. When I asked where we would be going the answer was "back to the states". Later I learned our destination was Dover.

I was the aircraft commander for one of two C-17s that transferred the Chinook helicopter crash soldiers back home. The crew that started this mission in Afghanistan would end up running out of crew duty day and need another crew to continue the soldier's journey. We just happened to be available. After being alerted and going through our normal sequence, I found myself at the foot of the aircraft steps.

Before I took my first step upward I noticed a transfer case close to the door. I had only seen one in pictures. The American Flag was tucked smartly, folded and secured on top. I paused at the bottom of the stairs, took a deep breath and continued up with my mind and eyes focusing on making it to the next ladder leading to the cockpit. However, as I entered, I couldn't help but notice the remaining nineteen transfer cases in the cargo compartment. The entire cargo compartment was filled with identical transfer cases with American Flags. I made my way up to the cockpit and received a briefing from the previous aircraft commander. After the briefing we exchanged a handshake and the other pilot was on his way.

I felt a need to ensure the crew focused on their normal duties. I instructed the other two pilots to began the preflight. I went back down into the cargo compartment to see what needed to be done and find the paperwork I needed to sign. The cargo compartment was now filled with numerous people from the mortuary affairs squadron. They were busy adjusting, resetting and overall preparing the cases for their continued flight. Before they began I asked who was in charge because I knew there was paperwork I needed to sign. I finally found a Staff Sergeant who was working an issue with the paperwork. After it was complete, he brought it up to the cockpit for me to review and sign.

There are moments in life I will never forget. For me, it's the days my son and daughter were born. Another occurred five months ago when I had to deliver the unthinkable news to a mother that her son was killed in Afghanistan and although I didn't anticipate another day like that this soon, yesterday was another. I looked at the paperwork I was signing and realized the magnitude of the day. I glanced over the paperwork and signed. In a way, I felt I had taken ownership of these fallen soldiers. It was now my duty to ensure they make it home.

After confirming the preflight was complete and the aircraft was fueled, I went outside to start my walk-around. As I walked down the steps, a bus had parked in front of the aircraft and unloaded eleven passengers. The passengers were fellow SEAL team members who were escorting the fallen back to the states. I stood at the front of the aircraft and watched them board. Every one of them walked off the bus with focus in their eyes and determination in their steps; just as I imagine they do when they go on a mission. I made eye contact with the lead SEAL, nodded my head in respect and he nodded back.

Finishing my walk-around, I stopped at the bottom of the stairs. I looked up into the cargo compartment; two American Flags and one SEAL Team Six flag hung from the top of the cargo compartment. Three of twenty transfer cases visible; one with an American Flag and two with Afghan flags. I looked up at my aircraft and saw, "United States Air Force" painted on the side and I stood trying to take it all in. I wanted to make certain that I never forget these images. That I never forget the faces of the SEALS, the smell of the cargo compartment or the sun slowly rising over the landscape. It's important that I don't forget. We need to honor the dead, honor the sacrifice of the fallen.

I understand my role in getting these fallen soldiers home is insignificant compared to the lives they lived and the things they did for our country. Most of it we will never know. All I know is every American should see what I've seen. Every American should see the bus loads of families as they exit the freeway headed for Dover AFB to reunite with their fallen or witness the amount of time, effort, people and equipment that go into ensuring our fallen have a honorable return.

The very next day we took the same aircraft back overseas. We had leveled the aircraft at our cruise altitude and I walked down to the cargo compartment. No more American Flags hung from the ceiling. All the transfer cases were gone.

Instead I watched a father lay with his son, cradled on his chest, on the same spot that only yesterday held a fallen soldier. I watched a young girl, clutching a teddy bear, sleeping quietly where the fallen had laid. I realized so many Americans have no idea where the fallen lay.

I'm honored to be one that does.

C-17 Aircraft Commander

Sunday, August 14, 2011 10:15 pm

62nd Troop Carrier/AW Annual Picnic

On Saturday, September 10th , the 62nd Troop Carrier/Airlift Wing Association will be holding its annual meeting and picnic starting at 10:00 a.m. in the Heritage Room at the McChord Club. The pavilion at Holiday Park is undergoing major repairs and therefore we had to change to an indoor picnic at the club.

Food will be served starting at 12:00 noon. The menu is green salad, potato salad, coleslaw, southern fried chicken, burgers and all the trimmings, french fries and fruit along with coffee, tea, water. We will also have a no host bar.

All current members are encouraged to attend, and potential members are also welcomed. Cost will be $7 per person.

For a good food count please RSVP to Otto Dobias at (253)862-0677 or o_dobias@comcast.net as soon as possible but no later than September 3rd.

Start planning now for the 2012 reunion - September 2012 - in Reno.

Sunday, July 24, 2011 03:31 am

141 Wins Tour de France

Cadel Evans, wearing # 141, won the 2011 Tour de France.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011 03:37 pm

A Real Puzzle

John Zimmerman, a former cargo load planning specialist at Norton AFB, found a C-141 puzzle which he forwarded on to me.

The box ..

The completed puzzle.

(thanks to my wife .. she's better at these sorts of things).

There's three 141's in there somewhere.

Monday, July 18, 2011 11:56 am

McGuire Starlifter Memorial Park

Former C-141 crewmember Bryan McPhee submitted a set of images of 66-7947 (Golden State Starlifter) at the McGuire Starlifter Memorial Park. Click here to view them. Scroll to the bottom of the page for the latest images.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011 05:57 am

IL-76 Crash

US-chartered cargo plane crashes into Afghan mountaintop; 9 crew members feared dead
By Associated Press, Published: July 5 | Updated: Wednesday, July 6, 4:47 AM

KABUL, Afghanistan -- A Russian-designed Ilyushin-76 cargo plane chartered by the U.S. military crashed into a mountaintop in eastern Afghanistan, officials said Wednesday, as fears rose for the fate of its nine-member crew.

The plane hit a mountain peak late Tuesday night, around 11 p.m., said Sayed Aleem Agha, the top official in Sayagred district of Parwan province, north of Kabul.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011 09:33 am

The C-141 Still Lives at Charleston...

I stole this one from James Fuller's FaceBook page. He made a recent trip to KCHS (in a C-17) and grabbed this shot:

Wednesday, June 1, 2011 04:09 pm

Altus C-141 Memorial Ceremony

Pics submitted by Jeff Englar .. evidently from an iPhone newsfeed of some kind.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011 03:15 pm

Very Cool Photo!

This one is from Frank Correa. I will be posting more over the next few weeks.

Ramp @ Kuwait AIP

Wednesday, June 1, 2011 02:43 pm

Interesting Info about some C-141 Testing Programs

Dave Stahre sent along several PDF files related to some testing he was involved with in the 80's and 90's for simulator upgrade and aerial refueling programs. Kohlman Systems Research in Lawrence, Kansas did the instrumentation and Edwards did the flight tests. "Have Flow" was the name of the AR test program at Edwards.

There are three separate PDF files for your enjoyment (try Right-Click/Save-AS if they don't display properly in your browser)

Document 1    Document 2   Document 3

Sunday, May 1, 2011 11:21 am

Requiem for a Prototype

[From AirForce Magazine.com]

Volunteers are refurbishing the sole prototype of Lockheed's stretched C-141B transport at the Marietta Museum of History's Aviation Wing, adjacent to the Lockheed plant in Marietta, Ga., where workers built the airlifter. Designated YC-141B, the aircraft (serial number 66-0186) first flew in March 1977. It languished for many years in Lockheed Martin's boneyard, stripped of its wings and pilfered for parts until the Air Force retired the Starlifter fleet in 2006.

The volunteers reattached the aircraft's left wing early this month and are currently mounting the right wing, former Lockheed employee and restoration volunteer Bill Paden told the Daily Report. They aim to refurbish the flightdeck, exterior, and cargo hold "as funds permit," he said. Given that all C-141s in the Air Force's aircraft boneyard at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., are "now reduced to scrap, virtually nothing is available to replace missing items," meaning replacement parts must be fabricated, said Paden.

At left, YC-141B shown in early March 2011 as workers were
reattaching its left wing. Shown right, the aircraft in its glory in 1979.
credit:Marietta Museum of History's Aviation Wing photo and Air Force photo

This additional note from Craig Johnson (forwarded by Paul Minert) discusses a bit more about 186.

Thanks for passing this long Paul, that aircraft has special meaning for me, in that I flew it in the test program at Edwards AFB, along with Al Capone, Darrel Hardman and Jay Berry. A couple others, Steve Johnson for one, flew with us on some of the airdrop tests, Steve was the OT&E test loadmaster. Al was the first loadmaster, I believe, to fly on it after it was stretched. Al, you did the baseline test also before it was stretched, right? anyway we had a few firsts, like the first time 40 CDS containers were dropped from a jet. the load weighed about 68,800 lbs if my memory is correct, & before a limit of 65000 lbs was put in the book for containers drops. Also flew the jet at 9% of MAC to determine what the new forward C/G limit should be. The A model had a stop in the T-tail so the leading edge, nose up attitude, could only be lowered so much. The B Model had that stop removed to allow more horizontal tail authority. This is provided for better use of the forward cargo space since the B was more easily put out of it's forward C/G limit of 18%. Of course they only moved the limit 2% to 16% but every little bit helped. This let the B model carry a fully served comfort pallet in PP 1 with an otherwise empty aircraft and have a large flight crew up front and be in C/G limits.

Sunday, May 1, 2011 11:09 am

Altus - Aircrew Memorial

Tuesday, March 22, 2011 03:52 pm

Norton C-141 Memorial....

The story of the Vets group at Norton trying to get a C-141 from DM placed at Norton continues. Ed Jeffries, who's doing a lot of the heavy lifting on this project sent this note:

Well Friends, we are getting there.

Since our group does not qualify to get government surplus property we have to go through the City of San Bernardino. That took much too long in the city agreeing to be the sponsor, but they finally said ok.

The Air Force still wants $165,340 for the plane. I wrote to the Chief of Staff of the A.F. and asked him if the A.F. could donate the plane to the city, but haven't heard back yet.

We now have just over $14,000.00 in our account and have been selling memorial bricks to help with the funding. We need to sell somewhere around 2,500 bricks. We still don't have a permanent site for the plane but I did pick out one which they haven`t approved yet. Next week, I hope.

Now for the bricks. The cost is $100 each. They will have three lines with 20 spaces, where one can place their name, rank, dates for on station and anything they desire as long as it isn't foul. They are engraved and blue epoxy is placed in the letters. They do look very good. You don't have to have been stationed at Norton to sponsor a brick.
If you want to be remembered just send your tax deductible check, along with what you want on engraved the brick. We will get the bricks engraved and place them around the base of the plane.
We are hoping to have the dedication 06-04-2011.

Please send donations to

63/445 Norton Vets
7125 Elmwood Rd.
San Bernardino, Ca. 92404


Will have pictures in the blog. Thanks Ladies and gentlemen.
Ed Jeffries Msgt USAF (retired)
7125 Elmwood Rd.
San Bernardino, Ca 92404

Sunday, February 6, 2011 01:05 pm

Ramp at the Lockheed plant in Marrieta Georgia.

Mark D. Smith sent this shot of the ramp at Lockheed taken when his crew took an A model home to get stretched and pick up a B model to take back to Travis. You can make out 4 B models (left to right) and one A model just to the right of those.

Sunday, January 30, 2011 12:10 pm

Law gives life to dream - Funds sought to land C-141

Law gives life to dream - Funds sought to land C-141
Published on Saturday, January 01, 2011
By SB Sun Staff Writer

SAN BERNARDINO - Retired Air Force Master Sgt. Ed Jeffries is back up in the air.

The 83-year-old San Bernardino veteran calls it Cloud Nine.

Jeffries and his "old crew dogs" of the 63/445 Norton Veterans Group are focused on a particular four-engine jet cargo plane and their plan to bring it to San Bernardino.

The nonprofit group has been working for two years to get the first 40 feet of a rare C-141 aircraft transported from Tucson's Davis-Monthan Air Force Base to the former Norton Air Force Base as a memorial honoring both service members and civilians who served aboard the cargo plane and at Norton.

Last week, Jeffries' craggy face, etched with deep lines, lighted up when he learned of a new piece of legislation that could help make the dream a reality.

"I felt like I was floating on Cloud Nine at first - it was such good news," said Jeffries, a retired flight engineer who logged more than 16,000 hours in C-141s in his 25-year career.

On Dec. 16, Congress passed the Federal Surplus Personal Property Donation Program, legislation that says veterans groups are eligible to receive donated items from the federal government.

That would include a C-141.

"This legislation could make it so much easier to get the airplane," Jeffries said.

However, wording in the recent legislation may prove to be yet another obstacle in the C-141 saga.

"I thought we had been given a nice Christmas present, but the new legislation, which the president already signed into law, did not include our veterans group - only Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion and Disabled American Veterans," Jeffries said.

Sandra Klar, a disposal property specialist with the Government Services Administration in San Francisco, said she was waiting to be briefed by the Department of Veterans Affairs as to what veterans groups would be eligible, according to Jeffries.

"If they interpret it as all veterans groups, that puts us in," he said. "If not, it's just another hurdle."

Purchasing the aircraft would cost the Norton veterans group $20,000 - money they do not have.

As it is, there could be as much as $75,000 in supplemental costs, according to Jeffries.

The memorial will utilize the front fuselage, including the full cockpit, crew rest and front portion of the cargo compartment - everything forward of the wing.

Jeffries, who served in three wars under seven presidents, has been leading the contingent of Air Force veterans to bring the aircraft to San Bernardino for free public tours at the former base.

In recent months, the project has hit a series of hurdles - mainly in fundraising for the project.

But the skies may still open up for the dream of a C-141 memorial at Norton.

Since August, the veterans group has been working with the office of Rep. Joe Baca, D-San Bernardino, through conversations and meetings with a Baca representative, Jess Vizcaino.

"I was proud to support this legislation when it came before me in the House of Representatives last week," said Baca, who supported the bill.

"Thanks to S. 3794, veterans organizations like the 63/445 Norton Veterans Group will now be able to go through the state and be eligible to receive federal surplus items," Baca said.

"My office was eager to assist our local veterans in their efforts to bring the C-141 aircraft back to Norton."

According to Jeffries, the group would go through the state and the process would involve only a "minor bit of paperwork."

In all, the new legislation would save one year's worth of paperwork, said the raspy-voiced Jeffries, whose cancer surgeries have left him with 1 1/4 lungs.

For Jeffries, the C-141 is more than an airplane.

The vintage, four-engine, giant jet cargo plane is one reason for living.

Kathy, Jeffries' wife of 43 years, said getting the C-141 is what keeps him going.

"I think if I lose this airplane, I'd just go out," he said.

Jeffries described a recent nightmare in which the C-141 project died, foreshadowing his own death.

"This project has given me endurance," said Jeffries, who considers himself a patient man.

He estimates he's logged more than 1,000 phone calls in a worn book he calls his "bible."

To Jeffries' knowledge, there are only four of the cargo giants left in "bone yards" across the country.

"They're extinct - there are no more flying," he said.

The planes enjoyed an illustrious 43-year career between 1964 and 2006.

In their heyday in 1964, 60 of the aircraft were assigned to Norton. By September 1993, the last of the C-141s at Norton were reassigned.

A workhorse of the Air Force, the plane transported moon rocks, supplies, the returning Hanoi prisoners, Bob Hope's annual USO troupe, returning soldiers and VIPs, as well as undertaking mercy missions and the re-supply of scientific missions in Antarctica and the South Pole.

Additional cost estimates for the San Bernardino C-141 so far include $2,500 for a route survey from Arizona and about $15,000 to get the chopped, enclosed aircraft "dressed up."

Jeffries said expenses may range between $50,000 and $75,000.

"When it gets here, we'll have to clean it with a pressure wash and steam - the interior is terrible with bird droppings and feathers."

The total price tag will also figure in fencing, signage and liability insurance.

Sunday, January 30, 2011 12:10 pm

Norton vets eye C-141; old plane would be SB memorial

Norton vets eye C-141; old plane would be SB memorial
By Michel Nolan San Bernardino County Sun, Calif.
Publication: San Bernardino County Sun (California)
Date: Sunday, May 23 2010

May 23--SAN BERNARDINO -- Norton Air Force Base will always live in the hearts of Ed Jeffries and fellow members of the 63/445 Norton Veterans Group.

"It may be San Bernardino International Airport now, but it will always be Norton to us," said retired Air Force Master Sgt. Ed Jeffries, a 25-year veteran who served in three wars -- under seven presidents -- logging 16,000 flying hours as a flight engineer.

Jeffries and nine other "old crew dogs" of the 63rd Military Airlift Wing gathered at the former base on Tuesday to discuss their plan to bring one of the dwindling numbers of C-141s to the former base as a memorial.

The four-engine jet cargo plane flew between 1964 and 2006 -- an illustrious 43-year career as a workhorse for the Air Force.

In its heyday in 1964, 60 of the aircraft were assigned to Norton. By September 1993 the last of the C-141s at Norton were reassigned.

The nonprofit group is making arrangements to have the first 40 feet of a rare C-141 cargo aircraft transported from Tucson's Davis-Monthan Air Force Base to the former base as a memorial honoring those who served onboard the aircraft and those who served at the base -- both military and civilian.

According to Jeffries, Stater Bros. Markets board Chairman and CEO Jack Brown, and Matich Corp. President Stephen Matich have volunteered to cover the cost of transporting the aircraft.

"Stephen Matich and I will go to Tucson to pick it up," Brown said. "We've worked out the logistics and are just waiting for the site to be determined."

Added Brown, "It seems it should be a focal point. These guys are decorated war heroes and are deserving of any support the community can give."

Matich said the group is trying to gain possession of the airplane now.

"They're working with the U.S. Air Force and Homeland Security, trying to get it released," he said.

"We're glad to be a part of this. I told Ed if you can get it off that base, we'll get it here," said Matich, whose grandfather built the base in 1933 when it was known as the San Bernardino Air Depot.

To Jeffries' knowledge, there are only four of the cargo giants left in "bone yards" across the country.

"They're extinct -- there are no more flying," he said.

"The airplane we want was going to be chopped up and sold for scrap metal."

Raymond Akin, a retired flight engineer and former teacher, said, "It happens to everyone in the fleet when they get so old -- it's like us."

San Bernardino's C-141 of choice has a colorful history. In 1977 in Australia, the airplane lost two of its engines and was able to circle around and make a controlled crash landing -- the first time a C-141 has lost two engines on the same side.

The crew of seven survived.

According to Jeffries, "The compressor blades had blown up and were ripping the airplane with shrapnel. The holes have since been covered up."

Frank Reed, a retired flight engineer, defined the group as "a bunch of old engineers and loadmasters with a grandiose idea."

The veterans group, 110 members strong, plans to recondition the aircraft when it arrives, eventually opening it up to the public.

The goal is to have the aircraft here by July 4. The exact site at the former base is yet to be determined.

The memorial will utilize the front fuselage, including the full cockpit, crew rest and front portion of the cargo compartment -- everything forward of the wing.

Retired flight engineer Loomas Marshall reported that the wingspan of the C-141 is 160 feet.

"We've heard the engineer's panel on our plane is in really good condition," he said.

According to Chief Master Sgt. Gil Vanegas, "In almost every disaster in the U.S. -- you name it -- the C-141 and Norton took part. They were part of a lot of history."

The plane transported moon rocks, supplies, the returning Hanoi prisoners, Bob Hope's annual USO troupe, returning soldiers and VIPs, as well as undertaking mercy missions and re-supply of scientific missions in Antarctica and the South Pole.

According to retired load master Paul Pfeifer, the C-141 made a lot of air drops as well.

"Fully loaded, the gross weight of the C-141 on takeoff was 325,000 pounds," Pfeifer said.

The C-141 could carry either a dozen Jeeps or three Huey helicopters, two 500MM Howitzers or two fire trucks, he said.

Jeffries, 83, said that making the plane a memorial has been a dream of his since the co-pilot of the C-141 controlled crash contacted him in 2008.

"This is what keeps me going," Jeffries said.

"The veterans' memorial project will also include assisting area veterans, funding a scholarship program, and even making presentations in schools," Vanegas said.

"We're trying to keep the history of Norton alive," he said.

The veterans group is hoping for financial support from the community to get the C-141 ready for the public at the former base.

For more information, call Jeffries at 909-486-1727. Donations can be sent to: 63/445 Norton Veterans Group, 7125 Elmwood Road, San Bernardino, CA 92404.

Sunday, January 30, 2011 12:10 pm

C141 Charleston Unit Gulf War Veteran Pilot Makes it Happen

C141 Charleston Unit Gulf War Veteran Pilot Makes it Happen
March 18, 2010

WE at Veterans Today are excited that we helped open the door to get this story moving that then went to VA Watchdog and then to Channel 13 in Indiana. We hope that all of the Charleston unit members that are affected get help now! We also hope the widows have their claims handled in an expedited manner through the VA. The Charleston unit has a hero in LT COL Avery for his units' members at Charleston AFB.

Veteran gets benefits restored after WTHR report Posted: Mar 18, 2010 3:40 PM MDT Updated: Mar 18, 2010 3:52 PM MDT

Indianapolis A local Gulf War pilot is getting his just due as a result of a 13 Investigates report.

In November our investigation found the V.A. denying veterans their benefits, and their credit for war time service.

Now it appears the government is making amends and taking steps to stop vets from getting lost in the system.

Lt. Col. Steve Avery's weak knees can barely support the weight of the find: hundreds of pages of medical records that the US Department of Veterans Affairs criss-crossed the country to dig up. For two years they sat in government files as the former Gulf War pilot failed to convince the V.A. that he flew covert missions in and out of Kuwait, and suffered exposures to depleted uranium and insecticides.

Now, months after a 13 Investigates report prompted the V.A. to review Avery's case and its own internal policies, there is good news for him and veterans to come.

"They've given me 100-percent disability, my wife and children have certain benefits", Avery told 13 Investigates.

For starters, Avery's compensation is increasing to more than four times the monthly amount he received in 2007. The smaller amount was based on a 60-percent disability rating. But now the government says the retired Lt. Colonel is no longer able to work.

"I'm not complaining or anything, but when you go over there and go on these missions, you're not given credit for anything," said Avery. "You need help and thanks to [Sandra Chapman] and Channel 13 and several other people here I really appreciate your helping us out", he added.

The Defense Finance Center at Fort Benjamin Harrison in Lawrence and in Cleveland are among the agencies that helped. Payroll specialists used his earnings and check vouchers to confirm his Desert Storm flights.

In the government's award letter, the V.A. says, "All reasonable doubt is resolved in [Avery's] favor that [he] served on active duty while flying missions to Southwest Asia during the Gulf War." But the agency denies a connection between his Desert Storm service and his bad health.

Initially the V.A. refused to even consider Gulf War benefits for him or his squadron.

The 707th out of Charleston, South Carolina, wasn't officially activated, and there was no way "for the V.A. to confirm Avery's participation in covert missions. Old Air Force records were tossed out.

After 13 Investigates exposed the gap, Rep. Steve Buyer, Indiana's ranking Republican on the Veterans Affairs Committee, called for a top level investigation, in a letter to V.A. Secretary Eric Shinseki.

"This is drawn attention nationwide at the Air Force Reserve and the Pentagon," said Avery, who has gotten the support of veterans across the country. Within weeks, V.A. Centers all across the nation received new directives, alerting workers to new policies and a new operations unit at McDill Air Force Base in Tampa. The unit will help confirm war time duty for all veterans, whether they were officially activated or only used for temporary covert missions.

"At least the people in the future they'll have it documented so if something happens, they won't have to flounder around and wait and beg for 3 or 4 years to get their situation taken care of," said Avery

The V.A. still denies Avery and his squadron were exposed to toxic chemicals. While many of his comrades are too sick to go to war with the V.A., Avery vows to make a stand, no matter how weak, his knees.

It could take as many as two years before Lt. Col Avery's appeal regarding toxic exposures is resolved.

Officials from Veterans Affairs say according to the law, veterans must provide evidence they suffered exposure traveling to or from a war zone or in the line of duty.

Sunday, January 30, 2011 12:10 pm

Photos of Avery

Top photo of first crew into combat during Desert Storm: Photo of (far right) aircraft commander of C-141 based at Charleston AFB, South Carolina, Stephen Avery (born in Indianapolis and raised in Clinton County, Michigantown, IN). Lower left photo: Colonel Avery and his son TSgt Aaron Avery, C-17 Stan Eval aircrew member, also based at Charleston AFB SC on active duty. Lower right photo of Colonel Avery just prior to his 30 year retirement as a Air Force Command Pilot with nearly 8,000 hours of F-111F and C-141 flight time. Col. Avery now lives on the northeast side of Indy.

[Photo from the Indystar.com]

Sunday, January 30, 2011 12:10 pm

Battling VA for Help

C141 Charleston Unit Used in Desert Storm on
Reserve Manning Instead of Being Activated Battling VA for Help
November 30, 2009 posted by Denise Nichols
News from Channel 13 investigation:

A 13 Investigates report is sparking a national policy review over benefits for reservists who go to war, but aren't officially activated. For years, a local pilot says his squadron has been unable to prove they are sick and dying from war illnesses. More importantly, some can't find records to show they even served.

WTHR report prompts review of Veterans Affairs Dying to serve

Indianapolis -- A 13 Investigates report is sparking a national policy review over benefits for reservists who go to war, but aren't officially activated. For years, a local pilot says his squadron has been unable to prove they are sick and dying from war illnesses. More importantly, some can't find records to show they even served. Congressman Steve Buyer, the ranking Republican on the Veterans Affairs Committee, called for a top-level review. Two weeks later, the VA responded. Covert operations during Desert Storm are a must for crew safety and mission success.

But long after volunteers from the 707th Airlift Squadron returned home, a veil of secrecy and gaps of information at the VA are keeping some sick and dying reservists from medical benefits they desperately need. "They came down with brain tumors, brain cancer, leukemia and ALS," said Lt. Col Steve Avery of Indianapolis, explaining what happened to him and nearly 50 of his crew members. 13 Investigates found it's up to the reservists to prove they were exposed to spent tank shells, uranium dust and unusually high amounts of insecticides in order to get medical benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

After weeks of inquiries, the VA is responding, saying the agency is not privy to records for covert or classified missions.

"We would not generally be aware of the existence of those documents," VA Deputy Director Tom Pamperin told 13 Investigates by phone. He says benefit determinations are based in part on what's in the file.

"Is there anything in the veteran's record that would suggest that this thing they're saying is credible?" Pamperin added.

Lt. Col Steve Avery was recognized in a newsletter put out by the 315th Airlift Unit in October 1991. His crew was cited as one of the first reserve units from Charleston, sent to Desert Storm.

But the VA confirms it has no record of service for Avery in 1990 or 1991. His squadron wasn't officially activated.

The VA says the Air Force Reserve destroyed the service records, leaving the sick reservists caught in the crossfire.

"If you were on active duty, like the other two squadrons, if anything happened you can go back and show those records, whereas our squadron did not have anything to substantiate that," said Avery.

The VA and Department of Defense are now creating a special Operations Command with McDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida to help close the gap. The new unit will be able to confirm veterans' service, with data on classified or covert missions, without breaching confidentiality requirements. The official start of the program is expected in coming days.

"We can go to them and ask them if the veteran's service included duty assignments and others that would make their current claim credible," said Pamperin.

It won't help Avery though, a 33-year veteran who suffers from ALS like symptoms, and other ailments.

"These people were in the war zone with every one else. Our reserves are fighting our wars. So to say that they didn't have "active duty" orders or they're not covered is just it's ungrateful to our veterans," said Avery's wife Mary Ann, who is frustrated by the complex system now in place.

Avery isn't the only one from his squadron claiming Gulf War illnesses. The Air Force isn't keeping track, so he created a roster showing the names of more than 50 squadron members who are sick or dying from similar illnesses.

Chief Master Sgt. Wade Cheney served as a chief Loadmaster in the 707th during Desert Storm. He's battling stage 4 lymphoma, and paying for his treatment with no VA benefits.

He told 13 Investigates, "In the meantime, we are all just dying. Delay of time is on their side. Just like Agent Orange."

It's not just Gulf War vets from the 707th having difficulty getting benefits. Pesticide exposure Cynthia Daugherty, a former C141 mechanic, was activated with a communications unit. Two years after her return, a Gulf War Care Team diagnosed her with a number or war related illnesses. She had records, but it still took two years of haggling to get full disability.

The VA concluded she was adversely exposed to burning oil fields, but not pesticides. That was the determination despite post-war reports revealing widespread pesticide and insecticide use in housing and staging areas.

13 Investigates obtained federal EPA records showing contradictory directions given to all flight crews that read:

"Harmful if swallowed or absorbed through the skin. Avoid breathing vapors," but spray "..when passengers and crew are onboard and all doors, hatches, and ventilation openings are closed." By the time the EPA demanded a label change, the war was over.

"If they flew C-141's or military airlift transport planes during Desert Storm, they really need to be concerned about this," said Avery, recalling what happened on board the aircraft. "As the pilot you could be up in the cockpit and look in the back of the airplane and you couldn't see the passengers because there was so much bug spray," he and others told 13 Investigates.

The VA is now reviewing Avery's flight records showing dozens of logged pilot hours before, during and after Desert Storm. They know when he flew, but not where. Since 2001 Avery has raised post-war medical concerns. In performance reports, Avery's former bosses including Retired General Gerald Black rated him "a true patriot". top notch staffer (who) coordinated a comprehensive investigation with federal..authorities into possible Desert Storm-related ailments affecting his squadron."

Eight years later, he's still fighting.

Two weeks after 13 Investigates first uncovered the problem, the VA and its Indianapolis Regional office have turned up new records for Avery including travel vouchers from the Defense Finance Accounting Service in Lawrence.

The agency hopes to make a new round of benefit determinations for him within the next 30 days. Unfortunately, other sick squadron members from the 707th will have to pursue a similar paper chase to prove their service.

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