3 F105 Rescues
We were TDY in Okinawa and rotated flying out of Bangkok to fly "res cap" missions as the returning fighters had a gas
station if needed..
At dusk we were to return to Bangkok. We brought our gear into the tanker-ops, such as it was, and before we left for crew
rest the field phone rang. The Lt.Col., acting on-site Cmdr., answered a call for a tanker. CP Al Westbrook heard "105s" so
he asked the Lt. Col if was "drogue or boom" receivers. The field phone went dead so we told the ground crew to hook up the
drogue and keep the stand in position if necessary to remove the drogue.
When the phone got back on line we were advised to come as soon as possible. I started engines ASAP and I told the co=pilot
to notify ground control it was an emergency and required immediate take-off. This was a dual use runway with civilian international
aircraft on the other side of the runway from us.
When we requested an immediate T-O the tower ordered a C-130 ahead of us to taxi across the runway. It so happened that
an airliner ended up nose to nose with the C-130. The airline pilot was irate but we rolled immediately. We climbed northward
as fast as possible and called the radar folks that we were approaching the area and would orbit for refueling. We were directed
past the forbidden parallel and confirmed it with the directing agency. They vectored us north to the F-105s; we called them
on frequency and reported felt. Level 29.
They said they couldn’t climb because of fuel. Descending, we got to 1200 ft. and three refuelings. We then climbed
up because the mountains in the area had guns at 9500 ft. We remained on site refueling several times. We called Mexico Control
with our ever reducing fuel; requesting to land very soon.
Fortunately a sister crew recognized my voice and asked to replace us. We were finally directed to RTB Bangkok. Gratefully
we turned south and face severe thunderstorms. Solid East to West.
Being pretty low on fuel we could climb quickly to nearly 45,000 ft. Clearing that obstacle we started a long glide with
reduced power, sweating the fuel situation.
As we got radio contact with Don Muong tower we told them we were low on fuel and needed to land south with no delay. When
we declared an emergency they cleared the way for a safe landing. We cleared the runway and as we taxied to the parking area
2 engines flamed out.
The three 105s were trying to protect a wingman (No.4) who bailed out into the enemy area. We never heard if they got the
downed pilot. He was the intelligence officer and shouldn’t have been there. Air America lost 2 pilots and US lost a
After we debriefed the Lt. Col. In charge sent a 2 page message to Okinawa and Pacific Commander in Hawaii. The next day
a crew arrived to relieve our crew back to Okinawa. I stopped at the Officer’s Club and met Paul Cleland, whom I had
been stationed with in Bitburg, Germany.
He asked me about our job and when heard their call sign "Pontiac" he said that was his squadron. When I told him that
they were trying to decide between and a medal and a court-martial he said, "Don’t worry you won’t hear anything
more of that talk."
Sometimes it’s nice to have good friends.
Crew: Pilot - Dick Ring
CP - Al Westbrook
Nav. – George Batte’
BO – Sgt. Lewis
A Two Foot Snow bank
It began with a 4 ship mission to refuel 4 B-47s over the Atlantic – coasting out from the Boston Area. Our KIS was
getting a steady deposit of dry snow. During preflight, 2 B-47s had cancelled. We got de-iced, then shut down and got de-iced
( at the South taxiway_ before take-off. The snow fall intensified.
Colonel Kyes, our Wing Commander, accompanied by the D. O., came out to check with me about the weather. Snow, still powdery,
was about 5 or 6 inches and I told Col. Kyes that the "dash-one" had the worst condition, as 5 inches of slush.
The dash-one advising that conditions would extend the T-O distance 27% over a dry runway. Conditions that night showed
our take-off distance was 8600 ft. I told the Col. That even adding 2700 ft. from take off we were looking at a 10,300 ft.
distance. That was a 2000 ft. "pad" plus the overrun. The decision was to "go".
Both aircraft started engines after de-icing and No 4 had an engine fire so couldn’t go. Col. Kyes said that just
before we took off, that we would drive down the center of the runway so we could maybe see his car tracks.
As we taxied into take-off position we could only see one runway light on each side. I tuned in the ILS. frequency before
T.O. Our acceleration check 70 – 120 showed 118 knots. (We had a 3 knot tolerance.) So I said we’re a go!
We couldn’t see anything, but I was on the ILS center lines. I felt that we were slow accelerating so I hollered
"Give me a marker". Lindsay Nelson (Boom Op) jumped up and reported "No. 3"! At that time we were 20 knots low for take-off.
I pushed the throttles full forward risking a flame-out and called flaps thirty. "That lowered a planned take-off by 6 knots).
As they shuttered down, green runway lights showed the end of the runway. I pulled back on the yoke as hard as possible and
almost simultaneously felt a thud.
I call "gear-up". Co-pilot Palmer Lewis said, "It didn’t come up!" I said, "Try it again". Still no movement. I told
him to try again and if they didn’t come to use the override. This time they came up.
We were not increasing our speed and couldn’t lower our nose to gain speed – thanks to the pine tree forest.
I told Palmer to "squeeze" the flaps to 20°. Our speed increased slightly and we gained a little altitude so we squeezed the
As we passed abeam Marquette we had 400 ft. of altitude so we increased our speed by leveling and thanked God for the flat
surface of Lake Superior.
We were about 60 miles out from Boston when the SAC Command Post called to inform us the B-47s returned to Africa.
We found out after landing back at KIS that Col. Kyes called crash on the runway as we passed at the end of the runway.
In reporting to the factory, they recomputed the T-O data and determined that we were at terminal airspeed and would never
have been able to go any faster. George Batte’ called some reassuring words keeping us informed on altitude and distance
away from that 2100 ft. hill east of us.
Our Crew was young, but I would not have traded them for anybody.
AC - Capt. Dick Ring
CP - 2nd Lt. Palmer Lewis
Nav. - 2nd Lt. George Batte
B.O. - Amn. Lindsey Nelson
Base Crew Handles Refuel Rendezvous With New Jet
SAWYER AFB — Crew E-107 of the 46th Air Refueling Squadron at K.I. Sawyer rendezvoused with a General
Dynamics FB–111, the newest member of the Strategic Air Command (SAC) bomber fleet, to add another eventful day to the
history of Sawyer’s 410th Bomb Wing.
This was the first time that a SAC commanded FB-111 was refueled in flight by a SAC commanded Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker.
Done After One Week
The FB-111 had been in the SAC inventory for only one week when the KC-135 crew commanded by Major Bernard J. Disteldorf,
completed the first successful air refueling of a FB-111.
Disteldorf said: "Normally, an operation with a new aircraft is loaded with problems. The FB-111 was a pleasant surprise
in that everything went as briefed."
Ssgt. James Holden, boom operator, commented favorably on the responsiveness of the new aircraft to response to requests
for minor changes of position while the two aircraft were in contact. Holden had previously refueled the fighter version of
the FB-111, while serving in Southeast Asia.
Other crewmembers of Crew E-107 are 1st Lt. "Fritz" Barrett, copilot, in charge of the management of fuel balance
during the off-load, and Capt. Tom King, navigator, who was responsible for the rendezvous of the tanker with the FB-111.
Marquette Mining Journal, November 4, 1969.