Holder of the ONA Super Wings Gold Award for magnificent contributions to the ONA Crew Web

AMAZING ONA CREW


Captain Patersonīs son killed in Vietnam

It seems like yesterday when I walked into the lobby of the Holiday Inn in Niagara Falls the previous year seeing a Marine Major talking to Capt Paterson. The rest of the crew had their eyes cast down. His son had just been killed in Viet Nam. He was a Marine and had only been in the country 21 days. I think he was 19. It was awful. Bill declined JFKs offer to fly another pilot up to replace him. He flew that night to London then back to New York and his son's funeral.

Bien Hoa AB

Midnight over Bien Hoa and all hell breaking loose on the ground, it was like a giant electical storm, lots of flashes and reflections off the rice patties and condition red and being asked if we wanted to divert to Cam Rhan Bay and Capt Bill Patterson saying he was going to wait it out, he flew B 25s during WW2. Turning around he said to the rest of the cockpit crew..."those kids are waiting to go home" - and we waited and we did get in. Browneyed LORI FRATTINI is a native of Vermont. She has a degree from Burdett Jr. College in Boston, Massachusetts, and is a graduate of the Grace Downs Air Career School. Lauri Frattini in the back said she thought we were in trouble when they turned on the runway lights, (they turned everything off, hey, sometimes they even left the tower) they were at our nine o'clock position and Bill stood the plane on its side to get lined up.

Everybody lift your feet when I tell you!

A gag the crews returning to the States would do to the troops was to have the Senior announce that during takeoff she was going to come on the P/A and tell everybody to lift their feet so as to lessen the weight of the aircraft. So about 50 seconds into the takeoff roll on would come the announcement and everytime 100% would lift their feet up. They were amazed when the nose of the aircraft would just about then come up and get airborne. The F/A never let on it was a gag. The guys loved it.

The Milk Run

A certain German Senior marched off one of the flights returning from Viet Nam and told me that "dies soldiers hav not had any fresh milk for one year now and dey all vant the second cup. Zoo in de future you vil put on extra. Yes?" Yes mine Frauline. The Catering Dept in New York never caught on we were putting fifty extra containers on each overpack for the return trip.


Photo courtesy Ron Preed
Photo l to r: 1:?, 2: Marlissa Berger,
3: Milt Marshall, no 4:?, no 5: Ron Preede,
no 6: Carolyn Carado, no 7: Paul Witting
says its not him! Cd be Ken Meade?
no 8: Amos Blum

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LEO SKELLY
ONA TOKYO JAPAN
STATION MANAGER

Amos Blum was the guy who got me into the 
adventure with ONA and I stayed with the 
airlines all my professional career.


JAL - JAPAN AIRLINES

Amos hired me at JFK NPT (north passenger terminal), as a part time passenger service agent while I was still working at Japan Airlines as a passenger service agent.

Mike Stott, America Trans Air

You may remember Mike Stott, today he is still "on the job" with America Trans Air in Kuwait turning aircraft around with troops enroute to and from Iraq. He does a month there then home for a month. He was in Bangor a long time for ONA.

YOKOTA AFB

Well, let me start at the beginning. While station manager in Tokyo, I hired him as a part timer at Yokota. Him being a GI working for the Air Force, I thought the man never slept. I paid $5 hour - min 4 hrs - as part of his duties. He would go by Daiwa cab down to Hanada to get a Shore Pass issued for the ONA crews who would commercial in from New York or HNL. Since they arrived as passengers and left as crew, they got a Shore Pass ( just like Maritime Seafarers) from immigration. We, Mike or myself, would arrive at Hanada and wait for the crew to arrive on Pan Am or NWA and collect their passports and turn them over to the Japanese immigration officials, who would then enter their names in a log book and issue a number for each passport on a yellow piece of paper inserted into said passport. As they would leave Japan "going south" i.e. to Viet Nam, the Japanese would compare who came into Hanada with who left at Yokota, then do it all over again when the crew would show up 12 hours later, having gone to Viet Nam and then flown back to Yokota at which point they would now re-enter Japan as a crew member.



Friendly Japanese government officials

Well, in the beginning they were quite careful about everything until we discovered a very nice custom the Japanese have. When you do repeat business transactions in Japan it is customary to bring a small gift and we had access to the gift they ALL WANTED, scotch whiskey, Johnny Walker Red, Chivas. You name it! So we would arrange to buy booze at various points on Tachikawa and Yokota at $2.00 a bottle at the Civilian Club and at the O Club. My first visit we had two shopping bags of about 10 bottles of hooch. We would carefully cut out the section of the label that had a serial number printed so the military could not track it back to who bought it if it showed up "on the strip". Every military base in the world has a strip... bars and joints that GI's frequent but in our case we knew it was being consumed by some very happy Japanese government workers. Banzi!!!! Frank Bell freaked out when I put that on my expense report ..... returned it to me and told me to say I took the hotel manager out to dinner, but please donīt report bribing Japanese customs/immigration officials in writing. OK, so thereafter whenever I or Mike would make the trip into Tokyo we would bring one bottle for the Pan Am rep or NW rep and two for the Japanese government officials and it was all tolerated and actually expected. Mike said when the Pan Am agents saw him entering the terminal they would literally stop what the were doing and make a mad dash to see who could get to him first! Mike would then be escorted "inside to immigration" and he told me it got to the point the officials would culturally hand him the Log and he would fill out the Shore Passes himself. After the first incident of the crew sitting on their bags for an hour before the two hour ride to the hotel, we discovered the way to speed things up. I knew we were "golden" when Capt Love growled at me: "Skelly, I don't know what the hell you did but I like it". He was the head of his own band of merry men ... The A Team F/E Bill Mogey, Nav Paul Stark and the First Officer. I can still see his face but the name escapes me.

The New Takanawa Hotel

The Old Takanawa Hotel
They were the funny fellows, like piling up furniture and plants in front of peoples doors so in the morning upon opening their door there was a wall of shrubs. The hotel management always looked the other way. Who says the Japanese donīt have a great sense of humor! These jokes usually happened after crew were poured out of a taxi from the Civilian Club. The two hotels were either the New Takanawa or the Old Takanawa. The hi jinks the crew would come up with never failed to amaze me ...like having Chinese fire drills downtown Tashikawa. That's where everybody jumps out of the cab, runs around it yelling and tapping on the side of the cab and then jumping back in. Last one in, buys next round of drinks at the next bar!

Dead Ants game!


The other craziness was everybody lying suddenly on their backs and feet in the air on the floor at the Officers Club and doing their imitation of "dead ants". The Club Officer asked me to tell them to tone it down but the Colonel present loved it! Figures, he flew a F-4 Phantom and had just returned from down south. And he joined in for "Dead Ants"... Paul and company directing traffic with those little flags the Japanese would take from holders on busy streets and march out into traffic knowing the drivers would stop instantly. Actually digging up a wheelbarrow and carrying Paul Stark back to the hotel asleep! Paul Stark suddenly appearing at the hotel window during the annual fire drill and getting on a ladder and made believe he had panicked and couldn't move and the Japanese firemen trying to coach him down. And then we went thru the "Duty Free" shop phase. It was opened by the Yokota Officerīs Clubs and soon the Air Force Police in Travis and McCord AFB were saying they had to meet several flights where the booze was consumed in flight and shall we say a ruckus broke out. After that it all was put in the belly of the plane and given back when the troops disembarked in the States.
Jones at Dominican Rep ONA going away party

Freezing water at the Old Takanawa

And then during the world series Carroll Jones was lying in bed at the Old Takanawa, listening to Armed Forces Radio when an entire crew of Cabin and Cockpit "somehow" obtained a pass key and rushed into his room with buckets of ice and processed to pile on him after first dumping the freezing water...and Big Carroll Jones tossing bodies thru the air like dolls ... of parties that spilled over into the room next door and Paul Stark jumping fully clothed into a tub that was already occupied by a F/A who let out a blood curdling scream before being rescued by Capt Bob.
The instant Stark dispensary
Of crews ordered to go from Bangkok by commercial and not having a yellow fever shot and Paul Stark getting an American half dollar and a hammer and literally banging an impression into those old yellow shot record books, then initialing it so it looked official, well, it worked.

The A Team lives on in my memories.
Oh, the fun we had! Those were the days.
I salute all that flew "DOWN SOUTH" with
them and the other great ONA pilots.


Leo Skelly


Lost Vikings at Hanada - Visa's dilemma

Senior Sally Kellerman was staying in a overflow hotel (we ran out of rooms) out by MT Fuji, when we discovered that two Swedish Nationals commercializing from NY to BKK did not have correct documentation. They had to be physically offloaded from a Pan Am aircraft at Hanada due the technicality of having Swedish passports and could not arrive in Bangkok as civilian passengers and leave on ONA as military crew back to Japan. So we had to ask for volunteers and Sally took two F/A who had just graduated and sent them off in the Daiwa cab for Hanada. The cab then picked up the two F/A who had to switch and get off the airplane. Once you told a Japanese what to do because a rule was being broken, there was no way the ladies could have talked the Pan Am Japanese officials from offloading them. Normally the crew flight time was under 12 hours flying time round trip to Viet Nam, but Thailand was a bit too much so a crew change had to take place. However, the two Swedish F/Aīs did not get the picture and could not understand why they had to deplane. The Pan Am agent said he did not know Swedish people could be so violent - uh - Mike Stott reminded him about the Vikings to which he of course said "Ah so Des ka" - yes - you are right - Oh, the telex's back to New York was hot to the touch, but they caught up with their original crew within two days, but Mamma Mia, were they mad. (It would be very interesting to know if above Swedish F/Aīs read this and can confirm it really happened!)

Mount Fuji


Paul would get on the p/a and announce the Legend of Mount Fuji that if a aircraft flew over it with a female virgin onboard something bad would happen to the aircraft. He would pause then add - "But don't worry,we have never lost one aircraft".

Red light district

The flight department asked why we were putting the F/A in a red light district to which I quoted Pam Gaines, bless her heart. When hearing the contents of the telex I had just gotten and Pam was leaving the ops building at Yokota to pick up a flight "down south". Pam's quote with a wonderful laugh was: "Oh for Gods sake ... all of Tokyo is a red light district ... whatīs the big deal?" and that's what I sent in the telex. (I left out Pams name). I will always remember landing at McCord AFB and applause breaking out as Pam spoke over the intercom, "Welcome home fellas". It still brings a tear to my eyes. She was great. I know there are some GI veterans who must still remember their first welcome home was from Pam Gaines, the little girl from San Francisco. Pam Greene and Betty Broderick Boe with her husband at ONA New York reunion 2003 Years later another Pam, Pam Green, told me her story of having a passenger on TWA calling her over and telling her, "I remember you....you brought me home from Viet Nam on ONA". We were all so young and yet it feels like yesterday despite the years in between.

Back in the world

Remembering GIs kissed the ground after getting off the aircraft, "back in the world" and Flt Attendants cried because they still had a loved one flying a T37 in Cam Ran Bay , an Aircraft Commander on a "Herc" C 130 out of Tuy Hoa, of the eerieness at night coming out of Viet Nam on an empty plane and knowing why it was empty and some of the F/A breaking down and crying it was no wonder people got wild in Japan.

Five hour delay due rocket attack

A year later we were circling over Viet Nam waiting for them to lift artillery fire that was going thru the ILS path. Well, the cabin lights were all turned out and as soon as the plane door opened there was a thunder of boots getting the hell out. Including the crew. Shortly thereafter we departed. Paul Stark still has the telex I gave him that came out of Da Nang. "Five hour delay due rocket attack". It was the departure message from the Flying Tiger rep in DaNang. New York dispatch had been going nuts, "where's 852?". Then they started calling on the phone.

National Guard fighter unit,Korea

Of the National Guard fighter unit we picked up in Korea (they came directly from the Officerīs Club) and the Chaplin leading a conga line out to the plane calling out "Praise God". They had been activated and sent to Korea after a C121 had been shot down and the US navy ship, the Pueblo, seized by the North Koreans. The padre lead them in song and singing every song they knew en route back to Yokogawa.

Dead body in the rear cloakroom


Of catching some shuteye on a flight from Bangkok (military charter every seat full) inside the rear cloak room behind the F/A blue bags and it being June of 1970. Many new Flt Attendants were coming out of school and sent directly on Japan / Viet Nam trips. I heard the drape being opened and suddenly closed and some urgent whispering taking place in the galley then the drapes being quickly pulled back and then just as fast closed again I heard the "Senior" say "oh that's just Leo, he's our rep in Tokyo". I think I gave the first F/A a near heart attack upon seeing the dead body hidden there. Me. And so.

The A Team lives on in my memories


The A Team lives on in my memories. Oh, the fun we had! Those were the days. I salute all that flew "DOWN SOUTH" with them and the other great ONA pilots.
Leo Skelly, New York
Retired from JAL after 20 years.
SOS CHILDREN VILLAGES - SHARE YOUR ABUNDANCE

IN FOND AND LOVING REMEMBRANCE OF ALL FRIENDS AND COLLEAGUES WHO ARE NO LONGER WITH US