That C-123 crunched in a few minutes after Broderick landed. He had come up from Dong BaThin but Bao Loc was socked-in as it often was in the morning. I heard him circling around and called him on the FM radio. I told him there was a hole just working its way over the airfield and if he did an FM home he'd be able to find it and come on down. That worked out fine and he found his way down, but what none of us knew was that this VNAF 123 was buzzing around up there, also looking for a way down. When he saw the Huey circle down through the hole I guess he thought he had it made so he tried the same stunt.
Just about the time Jim's blade stopped, I looked up and saw this C-123 coming straight down toward the eastern end of the runway. He disappeared behind the crest of the runway and I figured it was curtains for him. Me and everyone else hanging around the gunships started running on the runway. All of a sudden, I felt the ground trembling, like a mild earthquake or something. A second later we could see the cockpit of the 123 rising above the runway crest like a full moon. The gear was wiped out and he was sliding on his belly.
There was a Captain about 3 paces in front of me and somehow he managed to turn around in mid air and head back in the opposite direction at warp speed. The suction he created as he passed carried me the first 5 or 6 yards until I could get my own feet moving. I could hear the 123 hot on my heals as I sprinted past the gunships, all lined-up in a nice row. It suddenly occurred to me that they were all armed and loaded with fuel. I could see the impending explosion after the inevitable collision. That spurred me on to Olympic quality speed and I must have looked like a blurr as I went past the helicopters. I dove behind a dirt berm and cursed the fact that the buttons on my jungle fatigues prevented me from getting a little lower.
As I recall, the C-123 stopped about 8 feet short of the first C-Model. Just another day in-country.
CWO Fred Harms
Nov67 - Oct68
I was standing outside the tent in the company area when we first heard the plane. With the low overcast none of us thought that he would make an approach. Suddenly, we could hear the RPM on his props building. He broke through the clouds and it was obvious from our position that he would not be able to flare and stop his high rate of descent. The plane hit the end of the runway then bounced back into the air. At the top of the bounce he must have reversed thrust on the props. It seemed like he almost stopped but when it hit the second time it continued to slide. We held our breaths as it slid towards the Sidekicks. Thank goodness it stopped short!
CWO Jim Koch
Nov67 - Aug68