Our "Purple Fox" Sneaked Around

The "Purple Fox" tail pylon  logo was quite the character as he continually wound up in places he had no business being.  Some of his escapades were conducted at night while others were undertaken in broad daylight.  Here are listed what will probably be only the beginning of such events.

Navy UH-46s Display Our "Purple Fox"

You might want to add to the "Birth" article that during the '69-'70 time frame it became customary for "SOMEONE" from HMM-364 and H&MS-16 to affix the tail logo to the underside of the Navy's UH-46's.  Whenever a Navy UH-46 came to Marble Mountain, "they" mobilized with three spray paint cans (one white, one purple and one black) and appropriate stencils.  When the front crew door, which contained the steps was down, "they" would scramble beneath the helicopter and paint the tail logo on the lowered door up side down.  When the UH-46 loaded and the door containing the steps was raised to the closed position, the logo was correctly centered and was very evident when the '46 landed back on any of the ships from which it was operating.  Seems to me that three acts were committed.  The Admiral of 7th Fleet took it as it was given and told his people to be more "security" conscious.  Semper Fi. - Father Fox

Charles R. Dunbaugh, LtCol. USMC (Ret)

What, This Is Not Da Nang?
Click photo for larger image

On a very clear night during the mid point of 1969, the pilot of a Seaboard World Airways stretched DC-8 with 217 replacement troops for the Vietnam conflict was over the South China Sea preparing to land on one of the two 10,000 foot long parallel runways at Da Nang.  He dialed in the Da Nang Tower frequency, announced his position and intentions, and was cleared to land at Da Nang.  Once again remember it was a beautifully clear night.  As the pilot continued westward toward Na Nang he saw a runway oriented north and south among the lights of the city of Da Nang and its surrounding area.  All passengers and crew were strapped in for the landing as the pilot lined up on the runway and made a perfect stabilized approach.  At the appropriate time he rotated the large DC-8 for the transition to the landing attitude and touched down.  The first thing which caught his eye as he looked down the right side of the runway was a large black background sign with a white number "3" painted on it which meant he only had 3,000 feet of runway left to bring his plane to stop.  Yes, he was talking to the Da Nang Tower who had given him permission to land on their 10,000 foot long runway, but he lined up and landed on Marble Mountain Air Facility's 5,000 foot long runway.

Witnesses say they have never heard such loud jet engine thrust reversals and the amount of smoke emanating from the locked up brakes of the main gear was spectacular.  The pilot did bring the DC-8 to a halt prior to departing the 500 foot overrun area at the north end of the runway.  The aircraft spent a couple days at Marble Mountain while everything which could easily be removed from it was accomplished to make it lighter.  What small amount of fuel remained from the Hawaii to Vietnam flight was drained to allow only a few minutes of useable fuel for the take off and flight to Da Nang.  A Seaboard World Airways test pilot was flown in to perform a "short field obstacle take off."  Guess who was riding along on one of the engine nacells when the DC-8 departed?  Yes, it was our "Purple Fox," but he was not alone.  Most every other aviation organization aboard Marble Mountain, Marine and Army, had affixed their squadron logo somewhere upon the exterior of the aircraft.  You be the judge of the future the original pilot had with Seaboard World Airways.

Submitted by:
    Franklin A. Gulledge, Jr., Maj. USMC (Ret)

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