483 GEEIA/EI 1970 - The Whole Year

Korat RTAFB, Thailand
Potter, Leigh
Posts: 2
Joined: May 31st, 2013, 8:39 am
Year Enlisted: 1967
Year Discharged: 1988

483 GEEIA/EI 1970 - The Whole Year

Postby Potter, Leigh » August 11th, 2013, 5:16 pm

483rd GEEIA in December 1969 to December 1970. I was a NAV-AIDS tech working with Sgts Trover, Desotelle, Hull, "Licklighter", and other crazies. I remember antenna changes and escorts to Don Muang Airport and Kang Nung,Korea. At Kang Nung we set an antenna using the gin-pole method during an ice storm. Now that was fun. The first antenna shipped to us did NOT make it to Kang Nung. The helicopter bringing it to us forgot the double-nut the cable lifting the antenna suspended below the craft. The hardware unscrewed in flight and the antenna left the chopper at altitude. The crew watched it descend into a Korean rice paddy. There was a farmer working his water buff in that paddy. When the 700 pound antenna embedded itself in the muck there was a farmer running one way and a water buff running the other. No one got hurt but the laundry bill for farmer Kim was major that day.

We augmented the depot at Tachikawa AB, Japan and rebuilt TACAN antennas that were shot up and brought there from Nam. I was lucky enough not to go to Nam but feel privileged that I served in SE Asia that whole year of 1970. I actually conducted some training of Thai Airmen that wanted to better understand the URN-3A TACAN at Korat. It was quite interesting because I didn't speak Thai and the airman interpreting was not understanding technical jargon. It was quite an experience. To be honest, I can't remember if there was another USAF airman that helped.

I was with Trover, Desotelle, and two other airmen at Lop Buri Airport. We installed a VOR at the airport. I think I remember about 1300 nuts and bolts that held the shelter together. It was dauntingng task but the system got installed. The Thai base commander gave the team a congratulatory dinner to honor the installation. We were treated to one of the finest dinners I had while in Thailand. Sgt Trover was our team chief if I'm not mistaken. Lop Buri was a city that has sacred monkeys at the shrines downtown. Quite a thing to see were the traffic jams caused by wandering monkeys. We all lived down town in a hotel. The US Army had a special forces camp that was our watering hole. Always interesting to see how the Army lived and compare it to our USAF way of life.

Thailand holds a special place in my heart. I was 21 and turned 22 while there. The culture shock was amazing. I never would have believed that I was a rich man until I saw the poverty of Thailand. We were "Super-Baht" and I was humbled. The Thais are the warmest people I encountered in my 20 plus years in the Air Force. Lots of good memories and friends from that year. If any one reads this and recalls events, please add on to this posting.

Does any one remember the "NASA - Dirty World Bird" patch and club?

Hull, Gary
Posts: 21
Joined: April 28th, 2007, 11:47 am
Year Enlisted:
Year Discharged:

Re: 483 GEEIA/EI 1970 - The Whole Year

Postby Hull, Gary » November 24th, 2014, 8:08 pm

Leigh;

I must admit that I do not remember you. I must also admit that I have a good memory but it's just not as long as it used to be. What jobs did we work together on? Do you remember another E-4 by the name of Don Henson? Don and worked together on many jobs, the first being at Chiang Mai when we built a screen around the TVOR to reflect the signal over the mountains. TSgt Green was our NCOIC at the time but Don and I did all the work. Around April or May of 1970 Don and I received orders to man a secret site so two other troops could have an R&R, but our orders were canceled two days before we were scheduled to be choppered in because the site was attacked and destroyed. I do not recall where the site was although I believe the site location was never told us. Do you remember what ever happened to Don? He extended his tour shortly after this mission being canceled. Joe Desotelle and I worked on a couple of jobs together, mostly at Udorn. We were at Udorn when the F-4 crashed into the radio facility and we helped look for remains after the fire was put out. I found a foot still in a combat boot during the clean up. It was a shocking reminder to me that we were in an active war zone. I was also at Ubon on two occasions when the base was attacked by sappers. Of course I was living downtown in a hotel so was never in any danger. We worked on the TACAN at Ubon which at the time was located off base on top of a hill overlooking the runway. We could exit the site and look to our right and see F-4s bombing and strafing in Laos. After the second attack, the site was actively guarded with tanks, APCs and about 20 Thai special forces troops led by a US Army green beret. It was the same army green beret and 20 or so Thai special forces who "escorted" me into Laos to fix a portable TACAN (I think now that it was a TRN 26). The good Lord was looking down on me and I managed to get it up and running although I never had seen one before. Pure blind luck on my part to get it back on line. Yes I was humbled and honored to have served July 1969 - July 1970. My only regret is that I did not extend. Late in my tour I was at Udorn when a USAF Major stopped me in the bar at the Paradise hotel to try to recruit me for duty with Air America. His job was to find qualified TACAN folks for work with AA. Obviously I did not take his offer and within days I was transferred back to Korat to sit out the last 2-3 weeks of my tour where I was assigned to the local comm squadron to maintain the Korat TACAN. It was a great year for me as a still very young almost 22 year old Sergeant. I'd do it all over again if I could.


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