Roy Bell's Photos


Roy's photos cover a very unique period in the history of the Caribou, for they span the the Army and the Air Force eras.  In Roy's own words:

"I joined the Air Force in October, 1965, in Los Angeles, California.  After basic training, I attended the recip aircraft mechanics' school at Sheppard AFB, Texas, with the notorious 3755th Training Squadron.  From there, I went to the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards AFB, California.  In either September or October of 1966, I was assigned to begin training for Project Red Leaf and was sent TDY to Fort Benning, Georgia to learn the Caribou and to eat Army chow.

A bunch of us left for Vietnam in early December, 1966, and were spread out amongst Army units all over the country.  I went to the 17th Aviation Company, 1st Air Cavalry Division, at An Khe.  When the Air Force took over the Caribous in January of 1967, we were sent down to Phu Cat to start up the 537th Troop Carrier Squadron (TCS) in the season of red mud, dirt runway, aluminum plank ramp under two inches of mud, and no flush toilets or indoor plumbing for 30 miles.  Things slowly got better.

I had been with aircraft 9753 (63-9753) since An Khe and was with her my whole tour.  Before her Air Force paint job at Cam Ranh Bay, like a lot of the Army planes, she had her nose art; a bikini-clad girl with the words "Under Exposed".  Maybe some of the old graybeards will remember her.  I was deeply saddened to learn the fate of her and her crew, God rest their souls. [Ed - 9753, with a crew of four, was involved in a tragic mid-air collision with an Army CH-47 Chinook helicopter, itself carrying 11 more people, at Camp Evans on 3 October 1968.  The details and eye witness accounts may be found here.  No one survived the accident.]

The day came when Red Horse finished the new 10,000 foot concrete runway and on the morning that the planes were to be moved to the new site, a very strange thing happened to me that some of the people there might remember.  I was by the maintenance office having a smoke and lost in thought, when a 1 1/2 ton truck that was parked behind me started up, pulled forward, and struck me from behind.  I tried to roll between the tires, but got pinned by the right front tire.  I remember a few guys yelling at the driver and when he stopped, the tire was at the back of my head.  He backed the truck off and I came to in a Dust Off chopper.  They put me back together and in a month or so, I was back in country.  I never got a chance to thank whomever the guys were who got the truck stopped, but maybe you could mention this in the newsletter or the web site.  They saved my life.

I'm sending along a copy of a 537th TCS insignia that is on a brass mug that the guys who served with the 17th Aviation Company in 1966 had made as keepsakes.  It's the only thing I brought home besides an attitude.  What the colors are is anybody's guess, so I'll leave that to you guys."

Roy's Photos

In The Dock Aerial View of Cam Ranh Bay
Cam Ranh East Ramp Engine Change At Qui Nhon 1
Engine Change At Qui Nhon 2 Engine Change At Qui Nhon 3
Aerial View 1 Aerial View 2
Fuel Blivets At An Khe Aerial View 3
Aerial View 4 Landing At An Khe
Early Days At Phu Cat Phu Cat Mud
Phu Cat Concrete Plant Phu Cat Runway Materials
Phu Cat Runway Construction Shift Change
New Ramp At Phu Cat First Day At Phu Cat
Old Runway At Phu Cat Phu Cat Well
Phu Cat East Perimeter 1 Phu Cat East Perimeter 2
First 537th Outstanding Unit Citation Phu Cat Barracks 1
Phu Cat Barracks 2 Phu Cat Barracks 3
Phu Cat Barracks Area Spooky
C-123 Early Phu Cat Ramp
Spooky At Sunset Caribou 63-9753
537th Insignia


09 Oct 2000 03:06 PM