From 1957 to 1960, AST#7 used borrowed H-19's operating from a U.S. Navy LST-230 to install and resupply HIRAN ground stations. Thanks to Bill Crawford(and Earl Mahoney) for these photos and stories
That is CPC corrosion preventive compound on the nose, and elsewhere. We painted all the seams and chipped paint because we operated off the LST and it helped to keep the corrosion off the chopper.
One day my pilot, Dick Bourne, asked me if I could paint an 8 ball on the nose and I said heck yeah. We had 2 crews working off 2 LST's and we both had engine changes, so we pulled into Naha port and towed the choppers down the highway with a truck to Naha AB. The base commander had a really nice H-19, all painted up real pretty and we took it and painted a big cherry on the nose and used the call sign CHERRY.
Then we went over to rescue and took one of their H-19's. The CO said I can't keep you from taking the chopper but you have to paint over the RESCUE on either side of the nose so people won't think it belongs to us. So we painted out the rescue on both sides and also painted a black bar across the front of the nose like the 3 bar jackpot on a slot machine and called that one JACKPOT.
Ah it was great back then when the Photomappers had such a high priority, we could get anything we needed from anyone. 8-Ball the morning after a typhoon hit us off Okinawa and me checking for damage and lifting the other chopper off the ship to tow it to the base. The mainland Chinese and the Taiwan Chinese were fighting over the islands of Chiemoy and Matsu. We were operating near that area and we wanted them to know that we were Americans, so we painted the biggest flag that we could get on the chopper. This is the radio operator painting the 50 star flag even though there was only 49 states at the time.
We had 1 pilot, 2 mechanics,1 radio operator,1 medic,1 cook and 3 ground station guys that we put up on the mountain on board a navy reserve LST operated by 47 Japanese. We told them where we needed to go and they would take us there and we put the guys on the hill, the B-50's would fly their photo and electronic missions and if every thing was good, we took the guys off the hill and moved them to the next place.
I was stationed at Misawa AB, Japan and went TDY to thePhotomapping outfit at Clark for 90 or 60 days at a time, I spent a total of 11 months on the ships, from Sandakan Borneo up through all of the Philippines, Taiwan, Okinawa and all the islands in between. I used to leave my clothes in the barracks at Clark when I rotated back to Misawa because most of the guys at Misawa didn't like that TDY but I loved it, so I would be my own replacement and go right back to the PI get my stuff and fly back out to the ship. What an adventure!!!
Fire Aboard LST-230
When I got into the photo mapping outfit at Clark AB in FEB 59 I was asked if I would like to go on the LST or stay at Clark. The guys at Clark did the heavy maintenance and if both H-19's were out on the two ships they just played poker and drank beer all day. So not being a poker player I chose going on the LST where the action was.
When we were putting a site on the hill or taking it off the hill the pilot would fly by himself and have minimum fuel on board. About every other trip the pilot would point to the fuel trailer and we would start the pump engine, pick up the hose and proceed to put a few gallons of fuel in the chopper, the pilot would watch the fuel gages and tell us when to stop.
This used to be done by hand pump from 55 gallon drums but that was to slow and cumbersome so a fuel tanker was requsitioned from the salvage yard at Clark AB. Now fuel could be pumped from the drums by hand pump into the tanker until it was full, about 1000 gallons and then pumped into the chopper, not bad.
Here's pictures of the tanker taken by Earl Mahoney(1374th M & C) in 1957.
We worked in shorts and jump boots when the weather was hot, which was most of the time. Here's a picture of me standing fire guard on engine start.
Well on 11 AUG 59 in the SULU sea Philippine Islands we were putting a site on the hill and refueling just about every trip. Jim " Tex " Barrett and I were the two chopper mechanics on LST # 230. When the pilot would want fuel I would start the pump engine and drag the hose to the chopper and do the refueling while Tex would operate the fuel tanker. The throttle was a long piece of safety wire that you had to hold to control the pump engine RPM. On this day the pump started to leak fuel and I jokingly told Tex that some day that pumps going to catch fire and when it does I'm jumping over board.
Well the next time that Dick Bourne came in and pointed to the fuel truck, I started the pump engine, picked up the hose nozzle and walked to the chopper when all hell broke loose. Tex was hollering GET OFF THE DECK GET OFF THE DECK. I turned around and holy shucks that fuel tanker was blazing from the rear. Tex jumped back and let loose of the safety wire throttle and it went wide open, spraying burning fuel everywhere
All Dick Bourne had to do to save himself was just fly to the beach and shut down the chopper. He said later that all he could see was flames and just a windshield between them and him. He cut the mixture on the chopper engine and pulled the rotor brake on and jumped out of the chopper. I threw the fuel hose away from the H-19 and grabbed the 15lb fire extinguisher and ran to the fuel tanker expecting everyone else to do the same thing. When I got to the tanker I thought holy moly this is hot & I looked around and I was the only person on the deck. This scared me because a 15lb extinguisher isn't going to do much to this fire.
About that time I became aware that the ships fire alarm was going off and all of a sudden there were japanese crewmen comming out of every hatch & they all had extinguishers. After the fire was out I started to shake like a leaf. All of the other GI's had run back to the fan tail of the ship and everyone was shaking. We had about 10 55 gallon fuel drums tied down around the fuel tanker so if it would have blown, running back to the fan tail of the ship would not have helped.
I'm not sure where we got our next fuel tanker from, either from Clark or Naha but it was an operational tanker. It was a cleaned up JP-4 tanker. When we would pull into Naha port in Okinawa we called the POL section at Naha AB & they would come down to the port and change filters, do any maintenance then top off the fuel tanker. Ahh life was good, no more hand pumping and best of all no more fires. Here's a picture of me on the new tanker.