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
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
ONA TOKYO JAPAN
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.
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
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.
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.
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 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
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
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,
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.
Lost Vikings at Hanada -
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!)
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".
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
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
Five hour delay due
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
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
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
The padre lead them in song and singing
every song they knew en route back to
Dead body in the
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
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.
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.