F-100 Wire Strike

This is a story Colonel Sam Morgan shared with me about a flight he had with Bart over to Osan, Korea in the early 60s..

“I think it was 1962 or maybe 61.  Bart and I were sent to Osan in an F-100F for Armed Forces Day.  We had the night off so we took a taxi to Pyong Tech for an evening at the Officer’s Club.  We were carrying on at the bar, eating a raw steak, and yelling & hollering.  There were a bunch of Koran girls in the room wearing evening dresses and Bart kept yelling, “What are these wh… doing in the OC.  Finally, some guy came up and announced he was the Colonel in charge of the Post and he had as many of us as he could stand.  He was in the process of heaving us out when another Colonel came up, and announced he was in charge of the helicopter unit, and he wanted us to stay.  We stayed and I don’t remember how the evening ended but we awoke in a tent the next morning with a Sergeant shining our shoes (you had to wear Class A off base in Korea).  He said we had made a hit the night before and there was a helicopter waiting to take us where ever we wanted.  We did not feel well so we opted for a ride back to Osan.

We flipped a coin and I lost so Bart went to the Alert Pad and to bed and I went to the flight line to stand with the airplane.  About mid-afternoon Bart came bopping down, fresh as a daisy, and said, “Let’s go”.  I told him we had to stay til 1700 and he said bull shit.  We climbed in, cranked, tossed the ladder off onto the ramp, and started taxiing through the crowd  —  me in the back and Bart in the front.  We had 450s (external fuel tanks) so lots of fuel, but also a 450-knot speed limit.

As we climbed out Bart said, “We can’t go back without saying goodbye to our Army friends”  and I said, “course not”.  We were at about 20,000 and below us, we could see hundreds of tents in very neat rows and columns with a broad main street right down the middle  —  all dirt roads.  Bart nosed over with the burner lit and headed down.  I told him we were over the tank limit and he said he didn’t worry about that.  Soon we are very low and at a very high speed coming down Main street.  To give you an idea of the altitude, we almost made it under the wires  —  but not quite.

We hit and I hollered that we had hit something.  Bart said he didn’t feel it.  I told him to look back at my canopy where it was scratched opaque except for two little bands, one on each side.  I could see damage to the tanks.  Bart pulled up and we headed for Japan.  He suggested that we go out over the Sea of Japan, bailout, and claim that it caught fire.  I vetoed that idea and told him they would know why it caught fire.  We landed at Itazuke after dark on a Friday night so the only guy on the flight line was a guy to set the chocks.  We we got out of the aircraft he said something to the effect, ” H— Sh–, what did you guys hit?”  We told him to put the bird in the hanger, we would be back.

Our Maintenance Officer was Mother Hubbard and we had squadron maintenance.  We went to the club, got Mother, and returned to the hangar.  As we walked he said something to the effect, “H— Sh–, what did you guys hit?”  We told him we had already gone through that with the mechanic, could we fix it?

We worked with the mechanics all weekend putting on a new canopy, new tanks, and some skin patching on the rudder which was what cut the wires.  On Monday things seemed quiet so at 1400 Bart came up and suggested we go to the club to celebrate the Great Escape.  We were at the bar celebrating when Max Beall came in, ordered us to attention, and read Article 32 of the UCMJ.  It turns out we had not noticed the skin missing on top of the nose.  Charlie McClarren had gone out to fly the plane and, as he topped the ladder, he glanced at the nose to see nothing but ribs and radios.

We were grounded and the investigation started.  Many times I was asked if I was innocent and I had to say we were both equally guilty although I probably would have gotten under the wires.  After about a month where I was permanent range officer and Bart (I think) was permanent Mobile, they had a big trial  —  like a real criminal trial.  After deliberations they announced that it wasn’t really our fault but it was a lack of training; that indeed, with the right training we would have made it under the wires.  They started with the punishment phase and were starting to say that Bart and I could not fly together for a month when our Flight Commander, Bob Middlebrooks, hopped up from the back and said, “Hold it, Colonel, I think you are being too hard on the boys.”  Bart then hopped up and told Middlebrooks to be quiet.

After a little discussion, the court agreed and announced that we would take a low-level training mission over Korea with Middlebrooks in the back as the Instructor.  

The Army never complained.

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