Lockheed C-130A Hercules
This was an extremely versatile, high-performance aircraft which would lift anything, any weight, in and out of dirt strips, mud, even old broken-up roadways. Easy to fly, reliable, and terribly noisy.
Trained at C-130A Advanced Flying Course, USAF Combat Crew Training School at Sewart AFB, Tennessee. Then assigned to the 39th Troop Carrier Squadron, Lockbourne AFB, Ohio. From there, I flew hundreds of missions dropping paratroopers at Fort Campbell, KY and Pope AFB, SC. Many, many air landing exercises into short, dirt landing strips at night. Para-dropped heavy equipment by parachute, even a D-8 Cat and one big road grader. Air lifted troops to Detroit, Chicago and Washington during the riots of 1966. Cargo missions all over the United States, Alaska, and from Howard AFB, Panama, I flew all over Central and South America.
I made TDY deployments to France and Mildenhal RAF Station, England, and flew all over France, Germany, Holland, Spain, Italy, North Africa, Turkey, Crete, Greece, Norway and Iceland. I also flew aircraft ferry missions via Alaska, Attu, Hawaii, Wake Island, Midway, Guam, Japan and Okinawa.
In 1968, I was assigned to the 41st Tactical Airlift Squadron, 374th TAC Wing, PACAF, on Okinawa. Spent very few days on Okinawa. Most all flying for six months was "Incountry" Vietnam, hauling cargo, ammo, personnel, food, Vietnamese refugees all over south Vietnam. Operated in and out of almost all of the airfields there.
For the final six months I flew these C-130As out of Thailand on seven-hour nighttime missions over Laos and the Ho Chi Minh Trail, dropping flares to identify targets, acting as a forward air control for Air Force and Navy ammo-delivering aircraft. We found the targets, marked them, and directed the fighter bombers to the targets. Some nights I had as much as 2,000 rounds of 37mm anti-aircraft fire directed at me, some very, very, very close but no hits on my aircraft. This organization was called "Blind Bat".
I flew 188 combat sorties in all, during 1968-69.