Archived Guestbook #4
Friday 03/16/2012 2:29:59pm
Name: Philip J. Morneault
Referred By: Just Surfed In
City/Country: Tolland, CT
I've have had a hard time keeping the events of March 16, 1970 at Danang out of my mind this week and especially today. So, it must be time for me to tell of my experiences that day.
No, I was not one of the rescuers.
However, I would like to think that what I did kept the situation from getting worse. I was on the flight line that morning at the time of the crash. I saw the airplane attempt to get back in the air and the turn it took that led to the crash. It was turning and coming it the direction towards where I was. I could see that it was not going to make it.
At the time, I was driving a tractor hauling a trailer load of AIM 7 and Aim 9 missiles. When I saw the plane coming towards me I made a quick turn and accelerated to get out of the way just as the tip of the wing hit the revetment between the flight line and the taxi way. I barely got out of the way as the plane exploded on impact.
I saw people rushing to the plane to rescue personnel on board. To this day, I ask myself if I made the right decision to drive away with the explosives rather than stop and go help with rescue efforts. What if I had been able to save just one person? Would I have been able to make a difference? Did my actions of getting the explosives away from the crash site keep the situation from getting worse? There are no answers to these questions. Just more questions.
Maybe I will get the answers when I join them in the spirit world.
May they all RIP!!
Philip J. Morneault
former Staff Sergeant
366 Munitions Maintenance Squadron (366 MMS)
366 Tactical Fighter Wing, USAF
Danang, South Vietnam
From Sept. 1969 to Nov. 1971
Entry in Guestbook: 16 August 2012by Ray Wasilewski
I was a BT1 and worked at POL fuel . I was driving around checking fuel valves for leaks with another 1st class. I remember we got to the baseball field when the plane hit the hanger, there was fire everywhere, We ran and got to the back of the plane that was not burning and with the help of others got the door opened and helped a navy chief out of the plane. then helped put some of the guys who passed on streachers. To this very day I have dreams of this crash, I week later an Air America passenger crashed a 100 yards from me and crashed , it had clipped it's wing off with an F4 landing. It was full of Vietnamese who all perished . I'll never forget these events. I still pray for all those guys. 40 some years later I got out of the navy and became a pilot?????
Entry in Guestbook: 7 September 2012by Gary Wheeling
I was a crew chief in the crash/rescue fire dept USAF .this crash was the worst crash I have ever responded too.it's been over 40 years and I can visualize every second of this crash.as a footnote several of us were told that we would receive the bronze star.this did not happen.after I returned to the states I mentioned this to my fire chief .he checked the status of this and he was told that danang had no records of me being there.I advised my chief to tell whoever to shove it
Entry in Guestbook: 2 December 2012by Gary Wheeling
I was a crew chief in the air force fire dept.to this day I still remember responding to this crash.we had a lot action there,but by for this was the worst crash I had worked.
Guestbook entry: 17 March 2013by Albert Litzow
I was attached to the 9 th SOS for most all of 1970 although I was officially with the Army 7th Psyops Battalion . I virtually never went to lunch but that day was meeting an old friend at the NCO club. I had just stepped onto the baseball field when I heard radial engines going full throttle ( I had Commercial ,instrument and multi engine ratings in civilian life) I looked up and there was a C121 headed virtually right at me. It was still relatively wings level and nose down as I turned and ran I heard it hit and looked around. I saw the fireball but more than that I saw the tail section virtually right over my head. I've never figured out if this was true but it appeared hundreds of feet up slowly flipping. It hit about 20 yds to the north of me. The next thing I saw was a young airman running full tilt towards the rear door, he starts pulling on the door handle, I started forward and was about yell "the fuselage is busted open",when the door opened from the inside and this bent over airman dropped into the arms of the the runner. I also recall a middle section of the aircraft had come over the retaining wall and was resting on a tanker truck. We heard eleven had lived but I never found out if that was true at least for a little while. The response from rescue personnel was very quick.
Entry in Guestbook: 26 March 2013
by Norman L. Sparling
Served with VQ-1 1968 & 1969
Entry in Guestbook: 19 May 2013
by Ken Stephens
I was stationed in VQ-1 from 7/68 to 7/70. Flew as an enlisted crewman in A-3s. I was a close personal friend of Barry Searby. It has been 43 years and I still miss him. Sometimes I feel his presence. It sounds weird, but it is actually very comforting when that happens.
Entry in Guestbook: 11 October 2013
by Norman Roberts
I was a good friend of Barry's and shared a room with him in the NCO barracks in Atsugi, Japan. We also rented a small house together in Yamato, just outside the base. I didn't fly like Barry did, but took care of the aircraft communication systems on the ground crew. Barry and I hung out together quite a bit and he taught me a lot about photography, one of his passions. My memories of our friendship and time spent together will always be with me. Thanks to all who contribute to this site to keep those memories in our hearts.
Entry in Guestbook: 29 November 2013
by John Augustynowicz
I was on PR 24 when 26 crashed. They were our replacements. As I remember we were either in P.I. or Tiwan? We were told to go back to Da Nang. Lost a few good friends and I thing about them every year on Nov. 11th when I am in DC at the Wall.
Entry in Guestbook: 05 February 2014
by George Bletsch
You can find pictures of the actual crash happening ,under patrick wiggins at bottom of page 366th gunfighters site PICTURES OF DENANG NO57 ETC. LOOK FOR PATRICK WIGGINS NEAR BOTTOM
Entry in Guestbook: 03 March 2014
Richard Kirbyspray used to clean rails at hangers in Atsugi Japan VQ1 1967
I was stationed with VQ1 in 1967 was just an E3 at the time and cleaned the weeds from the rails that the hanger doors slid on with a herb-aside I believe it was agent orange brought in off manifest and we would spray it then scrap it the next day. I now have type 2 diabetes and and am applying for va benefits anyone that can confirm please write. Thank you.
Entry in Guestbook: 15 March 2014
As I sit in the central time zone at 2230 03/15/14 it is about the very min. PR 26 went down 44 years ago. May we never forget.
Entry in Guestbook: 05 April 2014
by Joe Ortega
I was an AK2 in maintance control when the plane went down. At first there was confusing over which squadrons plane it was, because VW1 was also due in. I helped unload the planes engines so they could be inspected. We all had friends and coworkers onboard. Guy Denton was my next door neighbor in Atsugi, may he RIP and pray his family is well.
Entry in Guestbook: 10 January 2015
by Anita Bingham
My husband, Charles Bingham, was one of the survivors. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, should anyone like to contact him.
Entry in Guestbook: 11 March 2015
by David Altman
This week i turned 66. I referenced my 21st. birthday, celebrated in DaNang, RVN.
Forty-five years ago...On March 16th. 1970 a typical steamy hot sunny day in Viet Nam. A bunch of us had just come out of the squadron shack, just off of the flight line after hearing our det relief aircraft, PR 26 was on final approach. We joined the oddly uniformed crowd forming on the flight line already waiting to greet our squadron mates with beer and cold drinks icing in barrels eager to greet our friends and get our mail
In the crowd we jockeyed for position, watching as our EC-121 banked in final approach to the runway. In an instant it began to roll to the right clipped its wing.. and cart-wheeled over two revetted F-4 phantoms and broke up into three pieces in a ball of fire.
In moments the crowd fragmented in all directions i and others rushing to the crash site. I remember standing there helpless as the fire crews worked heroically to extinguish the inferno and save who could be saved. Going through the wreckage i was crying I thought of home and Lakewood and how far away it all was and how alone and frightened i was and mostly how happy i was to still be alive.
In the blink of an eye.. we lost 23 of the 31 aboard. Fine men the crew of PR-26.
I am still so very happy to be alive and will always remember them, and hope to be worthy of this life.