Bien Hoa AB, May 16, 1965, Ground Casualty, Other Accident:

EXPLOSION! BIEN HOA AB
May 16, 1965

3rd APS

Steve Thimlar

 

Subject: 16 MAY 1965

On 16 May 1965, Bien Hoa AB, major flight line muntions mishap, 26 USAF killed, several injured and deaths and injuries to VNAF personnel, plus the loss of the Aircraft, POL, 3 out of 4 EOD men killed in line of duty. I was there!

SSgt George Graham was the Com Plotter that morning. Each time a jet bomber blew up he was tossed out of his chair. TSgt Ander, the Flt Chief on duty, went into the air when either an A/C blew up or a string of bombs piled on the ramp went up.

On the second day, an AP was dispatched with a riot gun to shoot dogs eating human flesh. There are many more things such as 3 APs at an interection directing emergency vehicles to and from the flightline, and AC parts landing in the area of the AP huts while we were responding to what was first thought to be an hostile action.

 

A1C Sebastian Coco, Bien Hoa AB
http://home.att.net/~jbaugher2/b57_4.html

On May 16, 1965, while waiting to takeoff on a mission, a B-57B exploded on the ground at Bien Hoa, setting off a whole chain of secondary explosions. The resulting conflagration destroyed ten B-57s, eleven VNAF A-1H Skyradiers, and a US Navy F-8 Crusader. The surviving B-57s were transferred to Tan Son Nhut and continued to fly sorties on a reduced scale until the losses could be made good. Some B-57Bs had to be transferred to Vietnam from the Air National Guard, and 12 B-57Es had to be withdrawn from target-towing duties and reconfigured as bombers to make good these losses.

 

Bien Hoa AB, Air Police - Law Enforcement

http://skyraider.org/skyassn/memberpics/hilliard/hilliard.htm

Damage was not caused by VC action. We did it all by our selves. The B-57s, I think 24 (but at least 8 ) were parked wing tip to wing tip and armed with 500 pound bombs. The B-57 was started with a black powder cartridge that fired when the pilot hit the starter switch. That in turn caused a small starter turbine to spinning. These turbines had a nasty habit of spinning loose and coming out of the starter housing like a buzz saw. It didn't much matter as long as it did not hit anybody or any thing. In this case it came out and hit the fuse of one of the 500 pounders starting a chain reaction. I think I am right about these numbers, but you might want to check them:

24 B-57s destroyed
2 crew men in each B-57 and I think they were all killed
24 VNAF A-1s destroyed
Several VNAF killed
Several VNAF A-1s damaged
Several USAF ( other than B-57 crew ) killed
Several USAF A-1s damaged

One USN jet fighter (I do not know the type) destroyed. The pilot was USAF Maj. Bell, on an exchange tour with the USN. He had a hung bomb and they would not let him back on the boat with it. He was almost into base ops and went back to his plane to get his maps. He was standing on the wing when the B-57s blew. We found his name tag and it took about 3 days to figure out who he was.

Col. Wild Bill Beatha ( Cmdr. 34 Tac Ftr Gp ) said he was in command of the worst U.S. military disaster since Pearl Harbor.

Delmar Shelley Hilliard

May 16, 1965 Bien Hoa AB B-57 Disaster Photo -- Chris Godfrey, Tue, May 18 2004, 13:41
The photo by Steve Thimlar of the B-57 disaster at Bien Hoa AB brings back vivid memories as I was there and was involved in rescue/recovery operations until we were ordered out of the area due to the continuing explosion of bombs "cooking-off." Although his photo shows A1E aircraft, we did loose many B-57s. In addition, our rescue helicopter was severely damaged and the control tower was 35+ per cent destroyed. Needless to say the parking apron was severely damaged and all munitions on the ramp were destroyed. Steve and I also served on the "Drydock" Special Express convoy (munitions escort from Cat Lai to TSNAB and BHAB) for a brief time. Tough times but good times with very good cops!


Trying to locate: Anyone who knew TSgt. Donald Joseph Seaman
Branch of Service: Air Force
Unit was: 34th Consolidated Aircraft Maintenance Squadron
Where served: Bien Hoa AB
When served: died May 16, 1965 at Bien Hoa
Message is: I am interested in finding anyone who either knew my father or was there at Bien Hoa when the explosions happened that fatal day in May.
Please contact: Joseph F. Seaman
Mailing address: 18 South Boulevard Avenue
City, State, Zip: Maple Shade, NJ 08052
Or send email to Joseph F. Seaman using this automatic email form.

 
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LAST
FIRST
Suffix
Grade
Home City
ST
Province
Age
Panel
Line
ACOSTA
JESSE
SSGT
SAN ANTONIO
TX
BIEN HOA
30
01E
115
ARAGON
JOSE
FOUNTAIN
CO
BIEN HOA
25
01E
115
BALDONADO
SECUNDINO
JARALES
NM
BIEN HOA
37
01E
117
BELL
ROBERT
HOUSTON
TX
BIEN HOA
34
01E
116
BROWN
BRIAN
ALVORD
TX
BIEN HOA
30
01E
116
BUNCH
CLAUDE
HELENA
AL
BIEN HOA
45
01E
116
CALE
JAMES
WASHINGTON
DC
BIEN HOA
28
01E
116
CLARK
ROBERT
MUNCIE
IN
BIEN HOA
33
01E
117
CRAWFORD
WILLIAM
WINDSOR
MO
BIEN HOA
33
01E
117
DONAGHY
EDGAR
CHESTER
PA
BIEN HOA
34
01E
116
ENGEL
TERENCE
GRACEVILLE
MN
BIEN HOA
21
01E
117
FIDIAM
AARON
JR
TSGT
ENDICOTT
NY
BIEN HOA
30
01E
117
FOX
CHARLES
METAMORA
IN
BIEN HOA
31
01E
118
HAYNES
VERNON
ROCK RAPIDS
IA
BIEN HOA
38
01E
118
HICKS
WILLIAM
SMOCK
PA
BIEN HOA
35
01E
118
JEPSON
ARTHUR
JR
CAPT
CHICAGO
IL
BIEN HOA
33
01E
118
KEA
ANDREW
AKRON
OH
BIEN HOA
35
01E
119
MC FERON
ERNEST
EDNA
TX
BIEN HOA
30
01E
119
RACHAL
CHARLES
LENA
LA
BIEN HOA
41
01E
119
RAULERSON
CLIFFORD
JR
A1C
SURRENCY
GA
BIEN HOA
26
01E
119
SEAMAN
DONALD
MAHANOY CITY
PA
BIEN HOA
34
01E
119
SHANNON
BILLY
CENTER
MO
BIEN HOA
37
01E
120
SNYDER
GERALD
BIGLERVILLE
PA
BIEN HOA
39
01E
120
UNDERWOOD
JAMES
CHOTEAU
MT
BIEN HOA
39
01E
120
WAGNER
LEE
JR
1LT
ALLIANCE
OH
BIEN HOA
26
01E
120
WEAVER
HAYDEN
WYOMING
WI
BIEN HOA
23
01E
120

Of the 26 Casualties, 21 were married, each leaving a widow and family.

 
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