From the website: Korean War Project
374th Troop Carrier Wing (Homepage)
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.