Monday, October 21, 2013

Unexpected Assignment

By R.L.Clark

 You may remember that in June of 1963 our movement to Japan was cut short when Cliff Judkins and Don Tooker ‘s planes exploded during in-flight refueling.  Subsequently the squadron was flown to Atsugi on GVs (USMC C-130s).  Our planes were to be transported by ship after they determined what caused the explosions.  

A B-26. I flew as a co-pilot in this plane on a Tuesday. 
 The next day the crew pulled the wings off somewhere
in the jungle and were never heard from again
So, here we are in Japan, a combat-ready Fighter Squadron with no airplanes.  About two days after arrival the Skipper called me into his office and the following conversation ensued between us. He asked me if I knew anyone in Wing H.Q. who I may have crossed before.  No Sir I replied.  You have a third MOS  (Military Occupation Specialty), tell me about it.  I told him that when I completed Basic School the USMC, in its infinite wisdom, instituted a policy that all Regular Officers must serve a tour in the Fleet before applying for Flight School.  I was sent to Artillery School and subsequently to the 12th Marine Regiment on Okinawa as a Field Artillery Officer, MOS 0802. For the next 18 months we deployed to such “Garden Spots” as Japan, Taiwan, Borneo, Philippines, Korea.  We also sailed off the coast of Thailand for 40 days expecting to go into Laos. Nothing happened and we sailed back to Okinawa.

Tell me about your TOP SECRET Clearance.  For the last 3 months in the Far East, I was a Courier
R.L. Clark
carrying dispatches to various places and I expected that the clearance had lapsed when I returned stateside. He told me that once a background check had been completed it was permanent, modified by “Need To Know”.
CIA Headquarters in Da Nang
How much time do you have in the T-28? Approximately 150 hours with 10 carrier landings I said.   He said that the                        T-28 may be the plane I would be flying where I was going.  He asked what my qualifications regarding side-arms was.   I listed .38 and .45 cal. Pistols; M-1,M-14, Rifles; Thompson  Sub; and BAR.
Skipper said “Congratulations you just received orders for 6 weeks of Temporary Duty to South-East Asia for On-The-Job Training; Good Luck; Turn in your .38 to the Armory.  They will supply your needs when you arrive.  They have a battery of shots for you at Sick Bay.  Do not take your Log Book because even though you are there, officially you are not there.  CIA runs the show.  Two days later I was on a plane to Clark AFB where I stopped long enough to get several more shots then to Da Nang in Viet Nam.
Special Forces Outpost in the Highlands
where we were involved with some missions against the VC

I learned what the definition of ADVISOR was.  Stay alive any way you can, trusting no one but yourself and the Army Special Forces.  I have highest regard for the “Snake Eaters”.  They know how, when, and where to complete the mission.  Also, I was told that when up on a mission with Vietnamese pilots, never fly in front, but stay behind them.  CIA figured that they were 20% infiltrated by VC.  Six weeks later, I was back in Japan with a lot of “On The Job” training behind me. When I was ready to leave Da Nang,  this CIA man called me into his office and told me that basically everything I had seen or done was classified TOP SECRET and I had to sign a statement that I would tell no one what I had seen or done and to render no opinions to anyone.  If I did not want to sign, I could not leave. Guess What? I eagerly signed it.

. A DeHavilland landing at an outpost

When I returned to Atsugi, the Group C.O., His Intelligence Officer, and my C.O. called me in and wanted a report on my time in Viet Nam.  I told them that I could not do it and Why I could not do it. All three were enraged and called Wing HQ.  My C.O. showed me the response which was short.  “leave Captain Clark alone he is following orders and you do not have the NEED TO KNOW.