Joe Kurtyka's Photos


I entered the Air Force on 16 October 1962. After basic training I attended Fuel System training at Chanute AFB from November 1962 to March 1963. All I remember of Chanute is that it was plenty cold marching down the flight line at 0700. Upon completion of training I was stationed at Sewart AFB, Smyrna, TN where I served in the 4442nd training squadron working on C-130’s.

We shared a maintenance shop most of the time with members of the 314th Squadron. They were continually getting 90-day TDY’s to France, Panama, Philippines, Taiwan, Greece, Spain and other exotic spots. I never went anywhere, except for a regular drive to Nashville.

In early August of 1966, just about 7 weeks before I was to be discharged, a special request came down for volunteers to work with the Army. It would mean a one year extension of active duty. Young, single, not knowing any better but suspecting a tour of Vietnam, I volunteered. I was in the same program as Roy Bell. I spent 2 or 3 weeks at Fort Benning, GA, learning about the fuel system of the C7A. Then, after a short leave, I headed for Vietnam.

I arrived in-country on 6 October, 10 days before my normally scheduled discharge. In a couple of days I was sent via C-123 and Nha Trang to Cam Ranh Bay for 3 days and then was sent to Qui Nhon.

It seems the Army did not have an MOS equivalent to my AFSC specialty so I became a general aircraft repairman. This meant working in the PE hanger doing periodic maintenance where I spent time changing tires, pulling off landing gear, and removing and installing rudders.

We lived initially I the Army 12 or 20 man tents right next to the landing strip and frequently jogged across the runway to work, especially when we missed the bus.

In early December 1966 the Army moved the Air Force staff into two wooden barracks and announced the transfer of the planes. The Army troops were all worried about being shipped to Phu Bai when the transfer was completed because it was a hot area at the time.

After an especially moving Christmas party at a Leper colony run by missionaries along the coast, we shipped out by truck and bus to Phu Cat, maybe 60 - 90 minutes away. At Phu Cat we were drafted into the work detail that built the frames for the maintenance tents in what became known as Ellisville. We did get to move into new wooden barracks, but as Roy Bell states so eloquently, there was lots of mud, no paved roads, and no flush toilets or indoor plumbing for some months. A person could get filthy just running back from the outdoor shower. And, “Don’t drink the shower water!”

Free time at night at Phu Cat was taken by enrolling in Karate classes. One of the workmen from the RMKBRJ ? construction firm that was operating many of the large pieces of road-building equipment was a 2nd or 3rd degree black belt and for a nominal charge would give nightly lessons. Unfortunately, to get an advance belt, one had to “fight” a Korean soldier who already held the level of belt you desired. Not many Americans got over 1 belt — me included. The ROK soldiers took no prisoners, even in training.

My tour was pretty dull compared to the tours of a great many people. The only real excitement came when I assigned to aircraft recovery teams. One of those instances is documented in my photos.

I saw a lot of changes to the base (paved streets and indoor plumbing were two major improvements). With the move in August 67 to the permanent maintenance structures and the new ramp and runway, the place became more of a regular state-side AFB. Some of the fun was gone and the chicken shit details were spreading. Fortunately, I left in early October and was discharged on 10/12/67 from McCord AFB.

Along the road from Qui Nhon to Phu Cat

In early 1967, it was not uncommon for us to dress in our civilian clothes and hitch a ride to Qui Nhon from Phu Cat. Quite often we'd get a ride wit the Army troops in a deuce-and-a-half. They would all dressed in flak jackets and helmets and would be armed with M-14's; we were armed with cameras. I'm sure they thought we were crazy.

Vietnamese Bus Vietnamese Train
Hamlet Binh Dinh
Binh Dinh Town Square Temple
Rice Paddy Road To Qui Nhon
Quarry Water Buffalo
Phu Cat Bus Stop House of Mud
Another Rice Paddy

Downtown Qui Nhon

Local Bar Market
Vietnamese Children Barber Shop
Peace Hotel Street After Rain
Fabric Store Black Market
View From Gate 6 Downtown
Vietnamese Schoolgirls Taxi Stand
Main Intersection Gas Station

Qui Nhon Army Post

Home Sweet Home Tent City
Building B-62 Gate 6

Army CV-2

Bob Hope Fuel Storage
92nd Aviation Company Emblem Army O-1E
New Barracks Beach 1
Beach 2 Beach 3
Flight Line C-123 "White Whale"
Hamlet 1 Hamlet 2
Hanger Huey

Leper Colony

Christmas party at a Missionary-run leper colony over the mountain and along the beach from Qui Nhon. The route was protected by many, many armed Koreans (White Horse, I believe). We delivered wood and concrete and other building materials. Not many personal gifts for the kids. It was an awkward time with nothing to give to so many needy people.

Church Statue
Entrance Road Beach

Aerial Shots Between Phu Cat and Pleiku

[Joe took these from the air on a flight from Phu Cat to Pleiku.  I got out my chart and did my best to locate them, but welcome any corrections.]

Phú Lac Thu'o'ng So'n
An Khe/Golf Course Pleiku
Pleiku Approach

Phu Cat Celebration

This group of six slides were taken at Phu Cat I March or April 1967 during a party under a tent next to the "old" C-7A parking ramp. I do not know the occasion, but it could well have been the 'unit citation' party mentioned by Roy Bell in his photos. I only have the name on one person in one picture — that is me in the 'casual' civilian cap drinking a beer. Feel free to identify any of the others and drop your friendly webmaster a note.

Celebration 1 Celebration 2
Celebration 3 Celebration 4
Celebration 5 Celebration 6

Miscellaneous Aircraft

C-123 A-1E
RF-101 RF-101 Landing
F-100 Taxiing Airborne Hun
HH-43 C-47
AC-47 AC-47 In Revetment
T-39 T-39 Taxiing
C-130 F-4

The Crash of 62-4170

Crash of 62-4170 - 1 Crash of 62-4170 - 2
Crash of 62-4170 - 3

The Wreckage of 62-4178 At Litts Field

Photo 1 Photo 2
Photo 3 Photo 4
Photo 5 Photo 6
Photo 7 Photo 8
Photo 9 Photo 10
Photo 11 Photo 12


Butterfly Wasp Nest


Fuel System Repair Shop Ellisville Flight Line
Tent City Aero Repair
Downtown Ellisville Collapsed Supply Tent
Supply Tent Ellisville
The "Facilities" 459th TCS Emblem
Ellisville Packs Up TSgt. Cecil B. Miller

Caribous on the Ellisville Ramp

Ellisville Ramp 1 Ellisville Ramp 2
Ellisville Ramp 3 Ellisville Ramp 4
Ellisville Ramp 5 Ellisville Ramp 6

Guard Tower

Ellisville Guard M-60

Aerial Views

A set of seven aerial views of Phu Cat POL area and the new ramp taken in October 1967, just before Joe left for the States.

POL Area Construction 1 POL Area Construction 2
Aerial View 1 Aerial View 2
Aerial View 3 Aerial View 4
Aerial View 5

Phu Cat Base Photos

Phu Cat Main Gate Phu Cat BX
Phu Cat Laundry Phu Cat Chow Hall
Phu Cat Barracks 1 Phu Cat Barracks 2
Phu Cat Barracks 3 Phu Cat Barracks 4
Barracks Bunker Phu Cat Ball Park 1
Phu Cat Ball Park 2 Phu Cat Movie Theater 1
Phu Cat Movie Theater 2 Phu Cat Movie Theater 3
Barracks From Tower

Phu Cat Construction

New Ramp 1 New Ramp 2
New Ramp 3 Ramp Construction 1
Ramp Construction 2 Main Road 1
Main Road 2 Maintenance Area 1
Maintenance Area 2


19 Dec 2000 03:57 PM