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From the website: Korean War Project

 

374th Troop Carrier Wing (Homepage)

 

http://www.koreanwar.org/html/units/usaf/374tcw.htm?set=1#70984

 

 

On 2006-02-10 at 11:22:48, Susan Keith wrote:

 

I WAS AT THE C-124 GLOBEMASTER CRASH SITE IN TACHIKAWA
 

I have often thought of the families of the crash victims.  I was 14 years old at the time, and my sister

Sylvia, was 11.  She lives in CA and I live near  Columbia, SC and I spoke with her on the phone last

night to see what she remembered. Our father worked at Tachikawa Air Force Base and we and our

mother had sailed to Japan on a troop ship the winter before.  Yuk!!!  I was seasick for the two weeks

it took.  Just as a side comment, the stars were so beautiful.  Of course there was no light to cancel

them out and it was winter and we sailed far north.  I feel sorry for so many children today who think

there are only about 50 stars in the skies.

 

We lived in a small house that was off the base, one of four built together.  It was an interesting time.

only a few years after the end of the war.  The people were so curious about us.  At that time, people

still went to the bathroom in ditches.  A fire truck used to stop regularly in front of our house and the

firemen would get out and urinate in the ditch and try to see in our windows at the same time.

 

It was June and we weren't in school.  My mom was resting on her bed and I was doing the same.

Sylvia remembers being outside sitting on the ground and 'feeling" the explosion through her whole

body.  We had lived around airplanes for years so I suppose our ears were attuned to the sounds of

them.  We became aware that it was coming in our direction and it seemed to be too low.  The house

began to shake and rattle like a severe earthquake.  The noise was awful and seemed to be right

over the house.  Phrases like 'pouring the coals to it' and 'giving it throttle' come to mind.  That is what

it felt like the pilot was doing.  It was a desperate sound, and then there was complete silence for a few

seconds before the awful sound of the plane crashing into the ground.

 

We all ran out of the houses and piled into a car and raced to the site which was maybe 1/4 to 1/2 mile

from our house.  The site was actually off the road, screened by a grove of bamboo.  We could see the

smoke and flames and a Japanese man came running from the crash area, screaming for us to go away.

"All dead, all dead," he was shouting.

 

I know that nothing can comfort you but I hope it will help you to know that your loved one died immediately

upon impact.  The pilot was able to miss several houses around the site, including ours.  He is my hero.  The

tan ambulances that you are used to seeing on the television show, MASH, traveled back and forth for days

removing bodies.  It was very traumatic for two little girls who had never experienced anything like that.  We

cried a lot.  Our dad took us to the site a few days later.  The Japanese had sprinkled the area with salt.  I

understand that is part of a purification ceremony in Buddhist funerals.  I hope it helps to know that the

Japanese treated the site with great respect and felt great sorrow.

 

I had heard that the men on board were returning to Korea after R&R in Japan, but it sounds like men going

Korea also started from Tachikawa.  I wish I could help you more but perhaps it helps to know that all of us

Americans and Japanese, mourned your family member's death and thought of all of you.

 

Susan