22 Die in Fiery Crash at Da Nang
S&S Vietnam Bureau
Saigon -- Twenty-two persons died and 11 were injured when a four-engine U.S. Navy propeller-driven EC-121 Super Constellation crashed and burned as it came in for a landing at Da Nang airport just before noon Monday, the U.S. Command announced.
The plane destroyed an F4 Phantom jet fighter-bomber parked near the runway as it hit a steel-covered aircraft revetment, bounced, and landed near a road near the runway, Stars and Stripes reporter Spec. 4 Bob Hodierne reported witnesses in Da Nang as saying.
The plane carried 31 persons, including the crew, all of them U.S. Navy personnel, the Command said. It said two U.S. Air Force men were injured on the ground.
The U.S. naval Support Activity at Da Nang Monday night listed eight patients as a result of the crash. Five were listed by the hospital as in good condition, two in fair and one in very serious condition.
Witnesses described the crash this way:
The plane was approaching the field for a landing when it suddenly veered to the right as if to take off again and smashed into the revetment.
The fuselage landed just short of a road that runs in front of the headquarters of the 366th Tactical Fighter Wing. This section of the plane, where most of the bodies were found during the seven-hour recovery operation, burned fiercely.
The tail section and one center wing section landed in the road. The tail section was the only part that did not burn.
The U.S. Command declined to release information on the flight's manifest or crew until families of the dead and injured could be notified. Survivors were not immediately available for comment.
From the Pacific Stars and Stripes, Wednesday, March 18, 1970
By Spec. 4 Bob Hodierne - S&S Staff Correspondent
DA NANG -- One of the nine survivors of Monday's crash of an EC121 super constellation electronic surveillance aircraft, a crash in which 22 U. S. Navy personnel died, said Tuesday that he has no idea how he got out of the aircraft alive.
"I just don't know. All I can remember is hitting, reaching for the door handle with my right arm and covering my face with my left. The next thing I knew I was out in this field," said CPO Robert K. Ishler, 31.
Ishler, from Hoquian, Wash., who has been flying for the Navy for 14 years, said it was his first crash.
Ishler was the plane's avionics electronics chief and suffered only minor cuts and bruises. None of the other eight survivors are listed in serious condition.
"The man sitting alongside me didn't know any more about what happened than I did." Ishler said. "He braced for the crash too and got out with a scratched leg. He doesn't know how he got out either."
"It was bound to happen sooner or later," he said. "I was pretty lucky."
"The first thing I knew about any trouble was when we hit. There wasn't any other warning. I knew we had crashed. You can just feel it, it wasn't anything like a normal landing," Ishler said.
The father of three said he was sitting in the extreme end of the aircraft, strapped to the floor next to the door. The tail section of the craft broke away from the main portion of the plane in the crash and that is where most of the nine survivors were reported riding.
"I don't know if I was thrown from the plane or got out myself. I just remember hitting and then being outside, seeing other guys on the ground," Ishler said.
"I'm not a religious fanatic or anything -- but maybe now," he said. "I was damned lucky to save my life, there's no doubt about it."
The sailor had only cuts and bruises. "I'm a little stiff," was his only complaint.
"I guess I'll have to think about going back to flying. I feel alright about it now, I guess. I think I'd fly now. But I don't know. I'll talk to my wife about it, too."
"I'm pretty lucky," he kept repeating.
From the Pacific Stars and Stripes, Thursday, March 19, 1970, pg. 6
Note: The second article above was first sent to us by David Branks. Later I was able to obtain photostatic copies of both articles from the Pacific Stars and Stripes.
The image below is From the Pacific Stars and Stripes, Thursday, March 19, 1970, pg. 6, scanned and sent by Max Bettman
The following is a Newspaper Article sent by Max Bettman