Taipei Air Station - 1966 - - - " What you have in the end are memories"......... Photo Courtesy of Richard Reesh.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Attempted Hijacking of a C5A. No, It's a KC135. Wait, maybe a B-26?

A friend sent this story over to me a few days ago.  Attempted Hijacking at Tainan!

I found it interesting and thought you might enjoy reading the wire stories and hearing first hand accounts of what really happened at Tainan AB.

Let's see how much "Uncle" was involved in changing the incident for the news service wires. I have no idea where the news of the hijacking leaked from, probably out the main gate.

Below, the Sunday Stars and Stripes Newspaper article.  Sunday was November 19, 1972

This United Press International (UPI) news service article reports the aircraft was a C5 and the attempted hijacking took place on Friday November 17, 1972.

The day after the UPI article was published in the Stars and Stripes, the Associated Press (AP) News Service posts a different story on their wire, which is picked-up and published in the Stars and Stripes, depicting the aircraft as a KC135. Also, the date has changed to Saturday, November 18, 1972. Hmmmm?   You'd think the Stars and Stripes would make a correction to the article they published in Sunday's Stars and Stripes??

I bet I can guess what happened..

THERE WERE TWO ATTEMPTED HIJACKINGS,  on different dates on different type of aircraft.  Sounds palatable to me.

How about you, would you buy off on this scenario?  

You Wouldn't?  Me neither.  Let's find out what really happened.

The appearance of 2 different aircraft is not what happened.   It was 1 large C5A which was involved in the attempted hijacking. The KC135 was a cover-up story to hide the C5A from even being there. 

Remember, Uncle Sam didn’t want the public to know it was supporting the Vietnam War effort via the back door.

Makes you wonder, what really happened.  Maybe the Public Affairs Officer at Tainan had a hangover, must be something like that? You don't think so?

Below, 5 or 6 different folks, who were stationed at Tainan Air Base, write about their remembrances of that Friday, 17 November 1972.

     The plane was a priority, but security had been dropped. The C5A was on the flight line for repairs. When it landed on Tainan AFB it sucked up parachutes into it’s engines at the end of the runway when it opened the engine doors for additional braking thrust. 3 of the 4 large GE engines sustained damage.
     The plane sat of the flight line for several days awaiting replacement engines from California. Once the plane was supposedly repaired, it left and after about 45 miles or more out over the straits of Taiwan the crew noticed a leak and the plane returned to Tainan for additional repairs.
     When the planes left the first time, the rope stanchions were dropped to the ground and left laying there. SP/LE was notified that the plane had departed.
When it returned for the secondary repairs, the plane was parked in the same exact spot on the tarmac but the control tower never notified Security or SP/LE of it’s return. Hence, it never had Security details re-assigned to it once it returned.

     This C5 was originally Guarded by L/E when it first arrived PRIOR to the attempted hijacking. When the plane took off the first time,  the Tower notified L/E and SP that the plane was gone. When it returned after the leak was detected on board, the Tower never notified anyone of it’s return and needed addition guards. That was when the attempted hijacking occurred. 
     If you guys remember, the Stars and Stripes came out twice a day. 
The first edition (evening had the correct story of it being a C5A, the following morning edition had the change, and it was now called a KC-135 on a routine fueling mission. I was always amazed at how our government spun the story to hide the fact of the cargo on board the C5A.
     The Cargo was small NEW aircraft destined for countries surrounding South Vietnam. If you remember, financial support for Vietnam was faltering in the US and congress was cutting funding “in country”. We were supplying New Aircraft to the smaller countries surrounding South Vietnam, on the condition the donated their older fighters to the South Vietnamese for the war. We didn’t want that little secret let out.
     Wow !  First time I heard that story. I was recalled from downtown, as well as all the SPS and LE guys, living downtown. By the time I got to SP CSC, that kid was taken away, but CSC was still in a state of  mayhem. There were our guys, Chinese enlisted and Chinese  officers crawling out of the woodwork at  CSC.

     I was working the day shift (L/E Flight Chief) the morning after this incident happened. The C-5 was being guarded by L/E because it was considered priority C. We didn't have a man on the plane, just patrols making periodic checks. We actually had L/E in fatigues guarding the C5A on the ground, plus patrols drove by to check on the guard(s) assigned.

     The Chinese youth had a shotgun and was knocked down the steps of the AC by a crew member.  The youth did have a sawed off shotgun, approx. 21 inches in length, from about 1 ½ inches behind the “V” of the pistol grip in the stock to the tip of the barrel..

Mid shift L/E apprehended the one individual and turned him over to the Office of Special Investigations (OSI)   OSI were from China and the hijacking was meant to be a major embarrassment to the US and Taiwan military relationship. 

     I never heard anything about any other individuals being involved or any being trained as a pilot.

     I was the WSS Flight Chief on duty when that C5 was hijacked.  LE didn't respond to the C5.   The Desk Sgt (is L/E) called CSC and said only that the C5 crew wanted to see me right away.  My SAT and I arrived at the same time. Not sure WHY? We were all on the same radio.
     We took the hijacker from the flight crew and locked him in a cell at CSC.  OSI didn't arrive until we'd already turned him over to FAMP and 3 big Chinese in orange flight suits. Yes, the only holding Cell was located at CSC.

     I was on loan from LE to security because I had a driver's license and was the driver of the SAT or Reserve SAT old Dodge 6 pack. I remember alot of finger pointing between a couple of guys. I also remember some of those that arrived from the NCO Club during the recall, would of been better staying at the club cause they weren't much help in the condition they showed up in.

     Nobody guarded C5's until after that hijack attempt.  Then they were declared Priority A and we had to rope and guard them.

     I heard about the C-5A incident after arriving at Tainan. Always thought it was one of those stories to impress the new "slick sleeves". You know like trying to get the AB to go into the CE paint shop and ask for 5 gallons of white prop wash (that one didn't work). Now, I know it was true and will file the emails in my Tainan folder. Those cops that were there have my greatest respect because it had to be TENSE during the follow-up to the incident.  

The entire time I was in the USAF, I hated the C-5. It was almost guaranteed that when one landed, it was going to break. Then there was all those ropes and stanchions that had to be put around it and light units during darkness. Had some choice nicknames for the C-5 like OLOB (One Landing, One Break) and Linda Lovelace (because of the aircraft's agility). Give me a C-141 or C-130 anytime.
Some of these recollections contradict each other, but the fact remains, there was an attempted hijacking of a C5A at Tainan Air Base in November 1972.

To help you understand some of the Acronyms found in the information above: 
SP = Security Police
L/E = Law Enforcement
SPS = Security Police Squadron
CSC = Central Security Command
OSI = Office of Special Investigations
WSS = Weapons Security Systems
FAMP = Foreign Affairs Military Police
SAT = Strategic Assault team
PSAT=Primary Strategic Assault Team
RSAT= Reserve Strategic Assault Team

 You've read the first hand accounts of how this hijacking went down. These men were there and lived the day.  Their accounts are what REALLY happened.

In today's world,  the news of an attempted hijacking of a military aircraft probably would not even make the news for a day or two.  Back in the Day, the hijacking incident was BIG news in Tainan and quickly made the wire services.

Another story from our days in Taiwan.  What days they were.......


Anonymous said...

Kent Mathieu:

Thankyou ! That was good writing. All the guys of the 6214th SP's, LE's and K-9's that participated in this incident , their individual stories, you have incorporated into a running bonified story and we thankyou for bringing out to the forefront. That young Chinese perpetrator, just happened to be there at the right time and right place. It was never answered how he managed to get on the base and stay undetected. There were CAF guards dotted all over the flightline along the back roads ( off the beaten paths) and the QSA (405th) and the TOFF (Munition) storage areas. Plus our guys, of the SP flights, criss-crossed the CAF posts. Gee, a 14' boa constrictor that had injested a farmers pig, couldn't get across the back road near the QSA without being detected.

Jim Dwyer said...

Nice to have the details that can be given. Bet it took some time to get all the questions answered.

Anonymous said...

The C-135 aircraft id came out of the embassy. The IO at Tainan had been instructed to refer all media questions there.