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Trash Haulers


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Back in the 1980s a lot of books were starting to come out about the Vietnam War, and about the military of the 1960s and 1970s. Most were written by former soldiers and Marines, but a few were by pilots, mostly fighter pilots, while others were by aviation authors of some note such as Robert F. Dorr. After I contributed to some of Bob's books, I suggested that he write one about the Air Force troop carrier mission. He wrote back and said "Why don't you do it yourself?" There was a definite need for such a book - for several, actually - and I decided that if no one else was going to do it, I might as well do it myself. So, I started writing and started looking for a publisher. I finally found one in the form of TAB/Aero, a now-defunct company in Pennsylvania that specialized in self-help books but also published a line of aviation books. In 1988 TAB published my manuscript as The C-130 Hercules, Tactical Airlift Missions, 1956-1985. I hated that title! My working title was The Green Garbage Can, since the book was about the "trash haulers" who flew the Lockheed C-130 in the troop carrier squadrons of Tactical Air Command, United States Air Forces, Europe, Pacific Air Forces and Alaska Air Command I decided to call it Trash Haulers. The published title came from someone in TAB's marketing department who claimed they did a research study and decided that there wasn't enough name recognition for the Trash Haulers title. As it turned out, TAB's choice of a title hurt sales because another book came out about the same time by another of my friends, the late US Navy Captain M.E. Morris, called C-130, The Hercules. Both books were published about the same time and some bookstore chains elected not to stock my book because of the similarity of the two titles even though the actual subject matter was only the same in the sense that it was about the C-130. TAB ended up doing a production run of only 2,500 copies and the book went out of print by 1990. Since that time, I have had a lot of requests from C-130 veterans for copies of the book. Some copies are available from used book sellers, but they are rather pricey. I was working on other projects, particularly a book about the USAF troop carrier mission from World War II through Vietnam. At the time I was using a word processor, but then lo and behold, along came the miracle of the computer and the scanner and I was able to scan the galley of the original book into Microsoft Word. TAB was purchased by McGraw-Hill and they returned the rights to the book to me after they decided not to continue publication.
TRASH HAULERS is a revised version of the original book, with a lot of new information that I have been able to find in the twenty-three years since the original was published. I have incorporated that information into the book, along with some corrections to material that was in the original publication. In addition, I've added information about missions that were still classifed in the 1980s, but have since been declassified and information revealed about them. I also included an epilogue giving a brief description of USAF airlift operations since the time frame the book covers.
For those who are not familiar with the C-130 troop carrier mission, it was actually one of the most exciting of all of the Air Force missions, and arguably the most important. To learn more about it, read my new book ANYTHING, ANYWHERE, ANYTIME. From the time the first C-130As were delivered to the 463rd Troop Carrier Wing at Ardmore AFB, Oklahoma until the tactical airlift mission transferred into Military Airlift Command after the US role in Southeast Asia came to an end, troop carrier crews were involved in one history-making operation after another, starting with the movement of US troops to the Middle East in 1958 to provide stablity to the region after the president of Iraq was assassinated. Another crisis erupted almost simultaneously on the other side of the world when Red China threatened invasion of the Chinese Nationalist-held islands of Quemoy and Matsu. In 1960 322nd Air Division C-130s from France were assigned to fly a United Nations peace-keeping team to the former Belgian Congo, and to support them while they were there. In 1963 322nd was ordered to support the Indian military after Chinese troops moved into India's northern provinces. A year later Tactical Air Command C-130Es from the 464th Troop Carrier Wing at Pope AFB, NC were sent to the Congo as part of a US Strike Command mission sent to the region to assist the Congolese government in its efforts to defeat a rebellion by Marxist-led tribesmen who called themselves "Simba," or lion. The Simba Rebellion led to an intervention by Belgian paracommandos who were flown to the Congo by 464th TCW C-130s who were on temporary duty with 322nd Air Division in France. The USAF C-130s dropped the Belgian paratroopers on the airport at Stanleyville to rescue Americans and Europeans who were being held as captives in a Stanleyville hotel, an action that made headlines around the world. A few months later in April, 1965 TAC and Military Air Transport Service C-130s airlifted elements of the Army's 82nd Airborne Division to San Isidro Airfield in the Dominican Republic to establish order after civil war erupted in the Caribbean nation.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the globe, Pacific Air Command's 315th Air Division was engaged in a number of operations in Asia, some of which were highly classified and kept from public view. From the time the first C-130s were assigned to 315th Air Division's squadrons at Ashiya, Japan and Naha, Okinawa, they were involved in classified missions including dropping and resupplying indigeneous guerrilla forces in Tibet. After the Laotian Civil War ended in what was supposed to be a truce, 315th C-130s, often flown by civilian crews employed by the Central Intelligence Agency, supported anti-communist forces in Laos. At the same time, 315th's C-130s were flying missions into South Vietnam, where the government was battling an insurgency supported by North Vietnam. In addition to overt air transport missions into Southeast Asia, 315th's C-130 squadrons were involved in clandestine missions dropping propaganda leaflets (over North Korea as well as Vietnam), dropping flares and acting as forward air controllers for fighters, inserting and resupplying team operating deep in communist territory and other tasks, some of which have never been revealed to the public (and probably never will be.) In 1965 the war in Vietnam erupted into a full-fledged war and 315th C-130s became an integral part of it. By 1966 315th's troop carrier squadrons, which had been supplemented by Tactical Air Command squadrons transferred from the United States, had become the prime mover of men, equipment and cargo in Southeast Asia. In late 1967 all hell broke loose and C-130 crews found themselves flying some of the most dangerous missions in US military aviation history. For 77 days USAF and US Marine Corps C-130 and USAF C-123 crews kept Allied forces at the remote camp at Khe Sanh supplied, both by air-landing and airdrop. At A Loi C-130 crews went into a fog-filled valley in weather so bad their escorting F-4s refused to fly to drop supplies to the troops of the 1st Air Cavalry Division who had launched an invasion of the deadly A Shau Valley. On May 12, 1968 C-130 and Army and Marine helicopter crews flew the most dramatic missions of the Vietnam War as they evacuated the camp at Kham Duc, with a loss of two C-130s and one crew. Four years later C-130 crews were called on to drop supplies to the besieged South Vietnamese garrison at the town of An Loc.
TRASH HAULERS tells the story of the C-130 troop carrier mission (it was redesignated as "troop carrier" on August 1, 1966) from start to finish. Much of the material comes from the author's own experiences as part of the 464th TCW at Pope, the 6315th Operations Group/374th Troop Carrier Wing at Naha and the 463rd Tactical Airlift Wing at Clark Field, Philippines. Other material was provided by other troop carrier/tactical airlift veterans and some is from official sources. E Flight, HEAVY CHAIN, COMMANDO VAULT, FACT SHEET and JILLI, COMMANDO SCARF, BANISH BEACH - they're all here. If you want to know what C-130 crews did prior to and during the Vietnam War, you'll find it here.

TRASH HAULERS is available from book sellers such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, BooksAMillion, Powell or direct from the publisher. Order autographed copies directly from the author for $28.95, including postage and handling. Mail your check or money order to:
 Sam McGowan
3727 Hill Family Lane
Missouri City, TX 77459.

Go to Sam McGowan, Author to see other books by Sam McGowan.

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