Saturday, April 9, 2011

Diary Entry 60: Saigon, Saturday Night, 18 September 1965

                                                                                                      Saturday Night, 18 September 1965

This afternoon we lost our first C-130 transport aircraft at Qui Nhon.  It crashed in the bay when trying a landing.  Early reports indicated that 6 people got out okay and 4 passengers are still missing.  Am worried about it as one of my officers from J-4 ([Lieutenant Commander] Dick O’Neil[, U.S. Navy]) left to go to Qui Nhon this afternoon and I don’t know whether he was on this particular flight or not.  I sure hope he wasn’t.  Maybe I’ll run up there tomorrow and look at it, but don’t know why.  I sure can’t do anything about bringing the people back or getting the plane out of the water.

This U.S. Air Force C-130, above, with Movements Branch staff officer Lieutenant Commander Dick O'Neil aboard, crashed while attempting a landing at Qui Nhon, South Vietnam, 18 September 1965  (Photo courtesy U.S. Air Force).

There was some action at An Khe today with the battalion of the 101st Airborne Brigade and we’ve been sending C-123s in all day with reinforcements and with supplies.  Sherman was right when he said:  War is hell.  I’ve grown to hate it intensely.

Monday am going to ride the railroad from Saigon to Bien Hoa air base.  I want to start using the railroad and there is a good bit of reluctance on the part of shippers to do so, because they are afraid that it isn’t secure.  Figure the best way to convince them is to ride it myself. That way I can say for sure that I’ve been over the route and I know it is secure.  We will have armored cars with Vietnamese soldiers going with us.

Haven’t seen Grady or anyone else I know in the past few days.  Just been very busy trying to keep ahead (or up with!) all the movements we have going!  Things are looking up, however.  Colonel [Jack] Tooley, the commanding officer of the [U.S. Army 507th] Movements Group has arrived and has opened a small headquarters.  Within the next 2 months, I should be out of business and turn over running the airline and steamship companies to him and his 300 people.  Will be real happy to do so.  When that happens, maybe I’ll have just a little bit more time to rest, relax, or do some shopping.

Still very put out about the proposed assignment to DCSLOG (Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics, Department of the Army) in Washington.  I am going to write them one more letter and see what they say.  As far as my “career needs” are concerned, I sure don’t care about being a general and don’t care whether I become a full colonel or not.  Just want to come home and relax without any pressures being put on me.


  1. I, SP4 Robert Fender, 117th Trans Co TC, was standing on the beach that moment when the crash occurred. I watched it on approach and said to my friend Fred Piluso, that aircraft is not going to make it, it then skipped like a stone, then rolled, flew up into the air, then nose dived into the sea. The plane was not in the water very long when an Army Lark, amphibious vehicle came from behind us. It stopped, asked if anyone had dive experience, Fred said he did, then went out to the aircraft and dove into the wreckage. I waited he came back later, said that all were killed. Both Fred and I were from Pittsburgh, PA and had known each other before enlistment. Fred later re-enlisted, and served with the Special Forces. We both made it unscathed through the war. BTW at that time my unit was attached to the 1st Infantry Div for support. We were all considered MACV then. All forces were gathering in Qui Nhon, Army, Marines, Special Forces, ROC Army. If you need to contact me (