'Now this is no shitter'. I arrived in Chi-Chi to celebrate my 20th birthday in 1962 or 63, loaded down with six bottles of duty-free Nandi booze. Of course most of my friends had their own six-packs of alcohol as well.
Eight days, plus or minus two days, I arrived on the Ice aboard the Pegasus, C-121, to what looked like the end of the world. Someone else said, that if we were not there we could throw a rock and hit it from the Pegasus.
Two weeks later, I decided to take a ride on the City of Christ Church, LC130 320? I don't know why. The flight electrician, Bobby Quilan, was a friend of mine so I suppose I thought it was a pretty good idea at the time.
We flew, to Byrd Station, I got off there, just to say I'd being there, and was summarily attacked by a white husky named 'Ben', named after some Russian stationed there. Next we flew to Pole, then went somewhere else, and eventually we returned to Williams Field - the Strip. About fifteen minutes before touching down, Bobby Q gave me a crash helmet, told me to put it on, and moved me from where I'd been, next to the forward hatch, just below the bridge but I never bothered to think much about it. I was hung-over or something.
We arrived at Mac and rather than land we started doing fly-overs. Why I didn't know or thought to ask. The loadmaster had by this time lowered the ramp and started throwing stuff out. I remember saying to him that somebody's wife was not getting their letters because the ADJ loadmaster was throwing everything out. All-the-while I am now 'tied' down in my cargo seat, and had my arms entwined through them like Bobby said I should. My bud still hasn't said a word of why we were dumping the cargo.
Finally he did. His self control something to be admired, he then calmly mentioned that our nose vertical-ski was now pointing straight up and down and that repeated efforts to recycle them had not cured the problem.
Anyway, finally all the crew was in the back part of the plane, save the driver. The last man off the bridge was this red-headed 6'4" jarhead navigator on the crew. He ultimately sat down, seat-belted himself in, right across from me, put on his helmet, and that's when I saw his eyes. The man was scared shitless and I summarily followed same.
Eventually we landed, torn the nose-ski off, did a Disney ride thing on the Herc, the plate bit and everybody lived to tell. The Squadron doctor mean while was rushing in to find dead men, but we fool him and all survive with nary a scratch. Save this one smart-ass sand crab who thought getting attacked by a husky was cool. He got hit by a FOB. I think it was a small fire extinguisher. He lived.
Meanwhile, the Doc is going over the crew, I think the jarhead shit all over himself and the doc in his haste put down a small box of 'old moe' bottles of bourbon, the small kind used on the airlines. As I walked off the plane, whistling, I don't know why but I took the 'old moe' box, and trip over to my Quonset hut to tell everyone what had happened.
They barely looked up from their card game. I think one of them, Jim Hurst, the plane captain of the Divine Wind said, "no shit". There was no love-lost between the ADRs and ADJs.
Anyway I shared the 'old moe' wherein everyone chased it with beer because the 'moe' went down like broken glass and razor blades, real rancid shit. Sometime during the day, morning or night, who knew the sun never went down, I went to my rack, and must have had some nightmares because I fell off my bunk bed, the one on top, landed on a can of beer, with my head, and split it open.
A had visions of being backlogged to Christchurch but it never happened, in spite of my dramatics. I pretend head trauma, but choosing not to piss all over myself, which on reflection I think I should have, I became normal to ask where the 'head' was.
A couple of weeks later I was assigned to Byrd Station, ground support and almost a month to the day later I did another number and crashed aboard the Galloping Goose on some glacier collecting my flight pay. I needed several hours to collect it, I forget how many. No shit, they weren't paying me enough.
I am looking at an old picture of the Chi-Chi avionics branch circa 63/64 or 64/65. The gob on my far right was the radioman on the Divine Wind, the year before at Byrd Station, a first class by the name of Ralph. Next to Ralph is Chief Barry, someone I still remember, the Elect CPO because he chewed my ass once. He never raised his voice to me and I have always wished he had. I remember the AEs a little more clearer, but this is one gob who I think I remember being a twiget. Pitsos, short for Pitsoganos who planned to become a scuba diver for his sheriff's department back home. Tom and the kid, next to Tom were also a twigets, all shop types. There is Lynne and Goodie and seven other gobs all are age, early twenties, whose names I don't remember.
Working this piece of modern marvel (computer) is still a mystery to me, because otherwise I'd send you the picture.
When I was in Chi-Chi, me and this rigger rented the first house on the left side of the road leaving the base and airport. The rigger's name was Jarbeau. I used to say to anyone who'd pay attention to me that Jarbeau was a spy from Canada. We used to have parties all the time there all the time, and of course the owners were always invited.
I don't recognize the Avionics Officer in Charge. He was the new boy on the block. The year before, maybe you remember this, we had this dufus, a navigator who everybody said couldn't find the flight line. I think he flew in the Invergiggle, LC-130 318?
Well Dave, thanks for replying it's been good hearing from you. And yes send off the 'Sea Story' on to the Puckered Pete. The skid event was a momentous experience, it had never happened before to a Hercules and when I sent it to you I thought you were the gob in charge of up-dates.
P.S. There is one hand missing from the picture; a kid by the name of Jerry Morris from Cincinnati. I am thinking that maybe he had left the shop when this picture had been taken and was already home.
Something else. The first class twidget on the Galloping Goose, that crashed either at Holiack or the Beardmores was name Paul. Plane captain, Gerry Austin, and a jarhead navigator, whose name I forget. I called him Sarge. How's that for originality. CMDR Kloak was the driver and CIC at Byrd for our detachment there. I remember his copilot's face but not his name.
Oh-oh. One more thing. The Galloping Goose was replaced at Byrd by the Slow Tortoise. The plane captain's name was 'Winking Blinking Red' . I remember flying with him one time, (flight pay) and I noticed that all his instruments were indicating erratic. They flickered. I mentioned to Red why he hadn't mentioned that problem and he said to me, "the reason they all are waving is because they're friendly."
I mentioned the web page to my dentist and he said I'd never mentioned being on the South Pole to him before. I mean how do you toss that into a conversation, but apparently that was something special almost 40 years ago.
"To the men who flew the Southern course."
Rafael (Ralph the Mexican) Melendez
P.S. I was reading something on the many pages I found and one had the names of the people died or lost on the Ice. There was one entry for Byrd Station and it seems that a civilian went missing there.
I can believe that. There was a couple of times I got caught out there in a 'white out' kicked myself on the ass for volunteering for duty on the Ice. Once I made a complete circle, I thought I was walking a straight line but I found myself at the back door of Byrd and the second time Ben the husky mutt found me. And the only reason he bothered with me was because my pockets were always jammed with venison packets, similar to Slim Jims.
He couldn't get enough of them even though they made him fart like a champ. It seems that the Byrd I was on was the second one after the first one started to collapse and many of its supplies were never removed. Besides the venison, I found cans of condensed grape juice that several of the hillbillies on the Hill could make into wine. My biggest find were large cartons of lobsters.
The lieutenant on Byrd, a Seabee, used to go crazy when people called, early e-bay, asking for the merchandise. I used to give the stuff away but I think he thought I was selling it. The following year this one kid from New Orleans, took the business over, after I told him where to find it.