PHANRANGERS MEMORIES OF PRAB
NAME AND RANK
WHILE AT PRAB: Airman/A1C Mike Vogel
THEN ('68).................and NOW ('05)
JOB TITLE: Aircraft Hydraulic Repairman
TOUR DATES: 315 CAMS (Aug 1968 - Aug 1969)
VETS FROM PRAB YOU WOULD LIKE
TO GET BACK IN CONTACT WITH:
I'm still trying to get back in contact with:
my first shop chief at PRAB (SSgt Dick Porreca) ---- CONTACT MADE (4/2005)
Tom Farrell ---- CONTACT MADE (5/2012)
Cheryl Brady - Highland HS
WHAT WERE YOUR
When I first arrived at PRAB I was put on a detail working with
RED HORSE building the new steel/concrete hangers for the F-100s.
Really enjoyed being part of that and working with the RED HORSE crew.
During my PRAB tour I worked 6 months on days and 6 months on nights.
While I was on days, working in the hydraulic shop, I spent quite a lot
of my work time doing our 'Phase Inspections' on the C-123s. Was a great
place for a young airman to learn about aircraft repair and procedures.
Being my first duty assignment in the Air Force and it being a war zone
you had to learn fast to take on the responsibilities. Made me feel
proud knowing I was supporting our air crews and the war effort.
I went out on a couple sorties with aircrew members on the C-123s
and went out on a couple recovery missions during my tour. This one
time we were down on the southern most tip of SVN (Vi Thanh). Spent
three days in nowhere land to recover a crashed C-123. Did feel great
when we finally were able to get it out of there. After that recovery
mission, at Vi Thanh, that aircraft (#569) became a special A/C to me.
On nights it seemed like there was more of a variety of work to
perform on the 123s. Resealing a main strut was a very messy job but
gave me a pretty good feeling of accomplishment, resealing and getting
those beasts back together.
YOUR BEST MEMORIES
What I enjoyed a lot at PRAB were: The 'everything pizzas' the cooks
on the 123 side would cook up every once in a while for dinner, and the
'hobby shop' where I think I used about every one of their facilities
during my spare time at PRAB (e.g., reel-to-reel recording lab, photo
dark room, building and racing your own race car on their race track,...).
I recall a couple more very memorable situations when I was at PRAB: One
day our hydraulic shop got a call from the 35th side of the runway.
They asking for a hydraulic repairman to assist a C-130 crew on determining
if their leaking left main strut would be OK for them to complete their
mission. I got a 'step van' and drove over to that side to talk with
the C-130's crew chief, just outside the wheel well. The leak was coming
from the top of the strut (its shrater valve) so I asked the crew chief
if there was an inspection panel inside the A/C where we could take a
better look. He said there was and we walked around to the back. While I
was walking up the ramp I noticed this was not just any ordinary cargo but
a cargo compartment FULL of US NURSES. Was a bear looking professional
while you are getting these CUTE stares back at you. When the crew chief
and I got to the inspection panel although I wanted to look over the
leaking valve there was this heavy, heavy, problem of me wanting to just
turn around and start up a conversation or two. Anyway, we decided that
the valve was not leaking excessively and I left the aircraft. To this day
I don't know why I didn't ground the aircraft, get some names, and party.
But then you know it wasn't easy to, out of the blue, start up a
conversation with one of these beautiful 'round eyes' after being in country
for 6+ months. To this day I don't know if that experience was a good one
or a bad one. To haunt me more I now live at the end of a runway of an
international airport with a large fleet of C-130s I now hear daily. <g>
Another strong memory of PRAB was this one day we had just about
completed a sortie back to PRAB. It was the pilot's last mission
in country (Fini flight) so the idea came up that we would put on
a little air show for the troops on the ground at PRAB. We came to
this great idea to tie smoke grenades to the cargo ramp using about
6 to 8 feet of safety wire. Everyone agreed to the plan so the
loadmaster and I started tying about 15-20 of these grenades to the
cargo ramp, straightened the pins, and waited for the pilot to give
us the word to open the cargo door and start throwing the grenades
out. We were getting near PRAB so the pilot gave us the word. We
opened the cargo door and started to pull pins and throwing the
grenades out as fast as we could. Funny thing though.....we would
get five or six out and a few would pop back in the aircraft. We
should have used a lot longer safety wire......the air current was
just throwing them back in. By this time we had most the grenades'
pins pulled and were now trying to kick at them to get them back
out of the aircraft....this did not work well. In fact the smoke was
getting so thick the pilots had to open their window to get fresh air
in the cockpit. This of course packed more smoke back on us and we
could not breath so we ran to the front of the cargo area. At this time
the pilot yelled over our headphones "CUT THOSE THINGS LOOSE!"
We both grabbed our dikes, took a deep breath, and walked to the back
of the cargo area, very carfully, through the thick smoke. When we
got to the grenades we had problems seeing them so just sort of 'felt
and cut' them loose. Afterwards the loadmaster and I did not at all
feel very well, after ingesting all the smoke, so we just sat down and
got ready for landing at PRAB. Just after we landed, and pulled into
the revetments, someone who had seen the airshow ran up the ramp to
us and only said: "Boy did that look cool!".....we were not impressed
and didn't really want to talk about it. I guess afterwards the 315
SOW safety people stated that there would be no more use of smoke
grenades for future 'FINI' flights. The incident happened in 1969.
Do any of you vets recall seeing the airshow?
YOUR FAVORITE PHOTO TAKEN
IN COUNTRY AND WHY:
One of my favorite photos I took at PRAB was the shot I took of
PRAB's outdoor 'Happy Valley Drive-In Theater'. I had some very
memorable times there watching Australian bands perform, with a
tall, beautiful, female, lead singer, and a few USO shows. My favorite
had to be the time the Surfaris ('Wipe Out' and 'Surfer Joe' fame)
performed there. Was a great show. Had any of you seen the show?
The photo also shows the large hill 160 (Nui Dat) where quite a
few of us had climbed to get our panorama views of PRAB. Looked
to had been a bright sunny day with a beautiful blue sky.
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