On the Ramp @ Clark, 27 April, 1975
The photo above was taken on 27 April 1975 on the Clark AB ramp prior to taking
off for Saigon. This was during "Operation New Life", the evacuation of
Vietnamese refugees from Tan Shon Nhut Airport in Saigon, and it was our second
trip into Saigon (the first was on April 25). We were the next-to-last C-141
out of Saigon...ever! The number of refugees we packed into this C-141 was,
after three headcounts and a lot of guessing and by gollying, 308! It was a sea
of heads, and by the time we got them to Andersen AFB, Guam that evening the
entire cargo compartment was awash in puke, crap, and other assorted filth.
After the pax were offloaded we taxied the airplane to the washrack were the
base fire department took high pressure hoses into the cargo compartment and
flushed the offuse out the back of the airplane. We returned to Clark later
On a previous trip into Saigon two days earlier on the 25th we brought out 260+ refugees. We were only supposed to carry a max of 180, since that was the number of Oxygen outlets in the cargo compartment, but the APU of a nearby C-130H had crapped out and they couldn't get their engines started, so Tiger Ops people (the loading in Saigon was coordinated by Flying Tiger Airlines) asked us if we wouldn't mind taking their load along with ours. I figured, "Why not? This is an emergency.", so we loaded 'em up fast as we could and didn't take head counts until we got airborne. Most other C-141s were taking similar numbers out of Saigon as well, and by April 27th all C-141s were packed to the gills with humanity. In total, my crew alone evacuated 568+ refugees out of Saigon. As an aside, we heard that the C-130H with the crapped out APU was a smoldering wreck by the time we the airlift ended on 29 April. It had been mortared after we left.
The members of my crew on that trip, all members of the 14th MAS at Norton AFB, CA, who were clowning for the camera in "full battle gear" (borrowed from our two Security Police escorts who flew with us on the trip that day) were, from left to right:
TSGT Joe Sayers (LM), TSGT Don Green (FE), TSGT Steve Litchfield (FE), 1LT John McAleer (CP), A1C John Melvan ( Student LM), CPT Charles "Pat" Gilmore (AC), and LTC Darwin Grossman (N).
Other "battle gear" we had were flack vests, which were already in place on our SEATS in the cockpit. We sat on them rather than wear them, for obvious reasons. We were flying a 437th MAW airplane that day, rather than one of our own 63rd MAW airplanes. We decided to have this picture taken at the last minute, just as we were boarding our airplane to start engines and taxi out. It's become a prized possession since then. I bought a Saigon Temple Bell that day from a vendor at the Saigon airport and it sits on a bookcase in my office to this day.
Regards, Pat Gilmore
Maj, USAFR (Ret.)
On the Ramp @ Pope, 4/2000
Paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina in line to board a C-141B Starlifter from McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey, to take them to the drop zone on Fort Polk, LA for an aerial assault. The exercise, called Large Package Week, involves the airdropping of 1200 paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne and their heavy equipment onto the drop zone.