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67-0006 and 67-0008
Robert L. Sullivan
I was a C-141A Loadmaster in the 86th MAS, Travis AFB, from 1975 until May, 1976, then took a swap to
Charleston AFB and began flying for the 76th MAS in June, 1976. I flew 916 hours while at Travis, which
included 2.6 hrs. in Saigon, Vietnam. I've pinned it down that I was there on the last official day of the
conflict. C-141s took up the mission Operation Babylift/Newlife
after the C-5A crashed on take off from Saigon.
The peacetime military was good to us all. We flew our assess off shuttling between islands. I think it was a month before I saw home (Travis). When we finally arrived back in the States, it was 24 hours later, and we were back in the air; I enjoyed every minute of it.
Then it was off to Charleston AFB, closer to my Maryland home and all of Europe. It was the difference between night and day flying in Europe and the Pacific Islands.
On the 28th of August 1976, we departed Ramstein AFB on our way to RAF Mildenhall and some fish & chips. It was a cargo flight with a full complement of crew, no passengers, and little for a loadmaster to do. This bird's tail number was 65-0220. The flight was as routine as any.
As we got closer to RAF Mildenhall the weather began to change; the flight was getting rough. Our pilots were doing their best to route around the storm, but it was getting bumpy, and we all had to buckle in. The aircraft finally touched down at RAF Mildenhall. It was then that we learned that two C-141s had crashed, one in Greenland and the other flying into Mildenhall. Unfortunately, both were McGuire AFB aircraft, tail numbers 67-0006 and 67-0008.
Four C-141s had flown into RAF Mildenhall through that weather. Regarding tail number 67-0006, estimates were that a 100-mph downward vertical airshaft had caused the right wing to fail, followed quickly by the upward half of the vertical stabilizer, and the all four engines.
The time to mourn would come later; we still had to climb back into our aircraft for the return flight to Ramstein AFB. These airmen are not forgotten; their sacrifice lives on in all of us. I only hope that their families have been able to move on and appreciate, as well as understand, that they did their jobs.
I do not count on luck or pre-destiny; I take every day as it comes. However, when the internet first began, and I needed a username, I combined my nickname (Sully) and 220, mostly because I'll never forget that day.
I finished my Air Force career with 1,726 hrs. in C141A models.
Former SRA Robert L. Sullivan (Sully220@comcast.net)