Last Vietnam Exit

The C-130 on display at the front gate of Little Rock AFB, Arkansas

This C-130A Hercules was the 126th built by Lockheed Aircraft corp. of Marietta, Georgia. It was accepted into the Air Force inventory on 23 August 1957.
 
On 2 November 1972, it was given to the South Vietnamese Air Force as part of the Military Assistance Program. A few years later, the aircraft would be involved in a historic flight.
 
On 29 April 1975, this Herk was the last out of Vietnam during the fall of Saigon. With over 100 aircraft destroyed on the flight line at Tan Son Nhut Air Base, some of them still burning, it was the last flyable C-130 remaining. In a very panicked state, hundreds of people were rushing to get aboard, as the aircraft represented a final ticket to freedom.

People hurriedly crowded into the Herk, packing in tighter and tighter. Eventually, the loadmaster informed the pilot, Major Phuong, a South Vietnamese instructor pilot, that he could not get the rear ramp closed due to the number of people standing on it. In a moment of inspiration, Major Phuong slowly taxied forward, then hit the brakes. The loadmaster called forward again stating he had successfully got the doors closed.

 
In all, 452 people were on board, including a staggering 32 in the cockpit alone. Using a conservative estimate of 100 pounds per person, it translated into an overload of at least 10,000 pounds. Consequently, the Herk used every bit of the runway and overrun before it was able to get airborne.
 
The target was Thailand, which should have been 1:20 in flight time, but after an hour and a half, the aircraft was over the Gulf of Siam, and they were clearly lost. Finally, a map was located, they identified some terrain features, and they were able to navigate. They landed at Utapao, Thailand after a three and a half hour flight.
 
Ground personnel were shocked at what “fell out” as they opened the doors. It was clear that a longer flight would almost certainly have resulted in a loss of life. In the end, however, all 452 people made it to freedom aboard this historic C-130.
 
Upon landing, the aircraft was reclaimed by the United States Air Force and assigned to two different Air National Guard units for the next 14 years.
On 28 June 1989, it made its final flight to Little Rock Air Force Base and was placed on permanent display.
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I DIDN’T KNOW THAT!

As Paul Harvey used to say …”Here’s the rest of the story“.

If you were in the market for a watch in 1886, would you know where to get one? You would go to a store, right? Well, of course you could do that, but if you wanted one that was cheaper and a bit better than most of the store watches, you went to the train station! Sound a bit funny? Well, for about 500 towns across the northern United States , that’s where the best watches were found.

Why were the best watches found at the train station?

The railroad company wasn’t selling the watches, not at all. The telegraph operator was. Most of the time the telegraph operator was located in the railroad station because the telegraph lines followed the railroad tracks from town to town. It was usually the shortest distance and the right-of-ways had already been secured for the rail line.

Most of the station agents were also skilled telegraph operators and that was the primary way that they communicated with the railroad. They would know when trains left the previous station and when they were due at their next station. And it was the telegraph operator who had the watches.

As a matter of fact, they sold more of them than almost all the stores combined for a period of about 9 years.

This was all arranged by “Richard”, who was a telegraph operator himself. He was on duty in the North Redwood, Minnesota train station one day when a load of watches arrived from Chicago. It was a huge crate of pocket watches. No one ever came to claim them.

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 So Richard sent a telegram to the manufacturer and asked them what they wanted to do with the watches. The manufacturer didn’t want to pay the freight back, so they wired Richard to see if he could sell them. So Richard did. He sent a wire to every agent in the system asking them if they wanted a cheap, but good, pocket watch. He sold the entire case in less than two days and at a handsome profit.

That started it all. He ordered more watches from the watch company and encouraged the telegraph operators to set up a display case in the station offering high quality watches for a cheap price to all the travelers. It worked! It didn’t take long for the word to spread and, before long, people other than travelers came to the train station to buy watches.

Richard became so busy that he had to hire a professional watch maker to help him with the orders. That was Alvah. And the rest is history as they say.

The business took off and soon expanded to many other lines of dry goods.

Richard and Alvah left the train station and moved their company to Chicago — and it’s still there.

YES, IT’S A LITTLE KNOWN FACT that for a while in the 1880’s, the biggest watch retailer in the country was at the train station. It all started with a telegraph operator: Richard Sears and his partner Alvah Roebuck!

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 Bet You Didn’t Know That!!!