C-130 reunited with crew chief from Vietnam War
October 12, 2010
- Fort Polk civilian reunites Vietnam vet crew chief with C-130
FORT POLK, La. -- The two C-130s on Texas Avenue are not just mock-ups used for training. Rather, they are aircraft with a lot of history and sentimental value for one former Air Force crew chief who traveled to Fort Polk Oct. 1 to see his old bird.
Retired Air Force Master Sgt. Bobby Hunter was a crew chief on the camouflaged C-130 from 1967-1968 in the midst of the Vietnam War. He tried for years to locate the plane and learned last year that it was here on post thanks to the help of Keith Morrow, installation G-3 air officer, and an aircraft historian who helped Hunter locate the plane.
Several years ago, Morrow was able to bring the two C-130s from Alexandria airfield to Fort Polk to use as training aids in airborne and crash, fire and rescue operations. He set them up as mock-ups and pulled them to their current location on Texas Avenue. The camouflage plane is used for pre-jump exercise training, and the gray plane assists in crash, fire and rescue training.
"I received a call from an aircraft historian last summer. He told me that he knew one of the crew chiefs that used to fly the plane during Vietnam, and he wanted to come see her," said Morrow.
Hunter and Morrow linked up on Fort Polk a few days after the initial phone call from the historian for Hunter to view the plane and reminisce.
Although Hunter was able to tour the plane at that time, Morrow still wanted to do more work and make it look like it did in the Vietnam War. Hunter provided Morrow several photographs of the plane and agreed to return to Fort Polk when the project was complete.
Morrow painted the plane with the help of Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Stewart, the Fort Polk G-3 air noncommissioned officer, to match the markings from the photographs Hunter had provided him several months prior. All details were included, right down to the red hubcaps on the plane's front wheels.
The project was completed this summer, and Hunter, along with the pilot and assistant crew chief of the plane, were invited back to Fort Polk to see the finished result.
The reunion was a small one with Hunter being the only part of the original crew able to travel to post to see the plane. He was accompanied by his wife, Patricia, and his brother, Don. The three toured both of the C-130s parked on Texas Avenue. They also took a tour of a new C-130 that was here from 50th Airlift Squadron in Little Rock, Ark. to assist in airborne operations the same day.
Morrow intends to do another reunion when the pilot and assistant crew chief from Hunter's team are all able to travel to Fort Polk. In the meantime, though, Hunter was able to view the plane and travel back in time with the memories the plane held.
"She has a lot of history," said Hunter. "She's a proud old bird."