21st Special Operations Squadron 1967 - 1975
Page 6

Last Revised: December 14, 1998

Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Air Force Base

My first sight of the ramp at NKP came when I disembarked from the C-130 that had carried me upcountry, stopping frequently along the way. Hot and noisy, the cargo space was packed with supplies, my duffel, and of course myself and other guys catching rides to where ever. Bright sunlight greeting me as I stepped off the ramp and grabbed my stuff. I stared in amazement. The ramp looked more like something out of WWII than the modern Air Force. Piston Power everywhere. PSP ramps, even the runway was aluminium planking... surely a time warp had occurred.

The 56th Air Commando Wing was made up of 1 squadron of A-26's, 3 squadrons of A-1's, C-123 Candlestick flare ships, a FAC Squadron, and oddest (to me) of all, my old friends the Navy with P2-V Neptunes. Under the control of both the 7th Air Force and the 13th Air Force, the base was highly classified. It also resulted in the odd patch at the upper left. Tucked away was another squadron of T-28's with bombs(?), some EC-47's with a forest of antennas, some Thai H-34's, and no 21st Helicopter Squadron.

Since I had beaten my unit in-country by at least a month, someone somewhere decided that the best thing to do was to assign me to the 456th Munitions Maintenance Squadron, Gun Shop. There I learned about the care and feeding of 50 call machine guns for the A-26 Invader, call sign NIMROD. Learned quite a bit about the care and feeding of the WWII machine guns, cut my hands constantly on the ammo chutes, learned about pre-Korean War vintage Lot-numbered ammo. When you open the wooden box and find white crystals or a liquid leaking out of the rounds, leave it alone and call EOD to make the pickup. Happened frequently. Working on the A-26 gave me a sound appreciation of the ability of the prop-driven bomber to go out night after night and work the Trail.

Next Page | Previous Page

Back to Jim's Home Page | Back to Jim's Vietnam War Page
© Copyright JEH 1998