ATTN.: SAM~ REGARDING "SPOOKY 10"
- Hello Sam~
Thank you so much for your in-depth and very rapid response. I was
greatly hoping that someone would have first-hand knowledge (or know
someone who does), but I wasn't expecting a reply so quickly.
Yes !! You're absolutely right in your note (below) that James' crew
was one of two Spookies that were lost during the same time frame
with the same result for both~ The entire crews of both flights were
To continue with a few more details, both crews were also assigned
the same call sign of "Spooky 10" which makes things somewhat
confusing, because it's difficult to discern which "Spooky 10" is
being referred to when they're both being discussed in the same
As I mentioned earlier, the one on which James was aboard was the
first of these two planes to be lost with the plane's tail number
The second involved Theodore (Ted) Kryszak's crew, which was also
composed of Russell Dean Martin (Co-pilot), Harding Eugene Smith,
Luther Lee Rose, Harold E. Mullins, and Ervin Warren.
I'm in touch with the family of Russell Martin, and the family is
about as unhappy about the case closure of their case as we are with
To avoid confusion, I'll refer to James' crew as "Spooky 10 # 1", and
the second as "Spooky 10 # 2."
In brief, Spooky 10 # 1 (which involved James Preston who is a
relative of mine) was sent out on May 15, 1966 to help destroy the
infrastructure and numerous enemy truck convoys that were operating
along the Trail and were predominately composed of members of PAVN
Group 559 (Truong Son Corps), AAA Batallion.
According to reports that we've been provided by the various POW/MIA
accounting agencies and JPAC (formerly JTFFA), the plane was hit by
AAA ground fire, but the details become cloudy from there.
The site was finally located in 1993 after being narrowed down from
among 2 other Spookies that were lost in the same area (One being
Kryszak's crew (Spooky 10 # 2) and the other being one involving
Dennis Eilers (Spooky 12).
According to(highly conflicting and ridiculously absurd first hand
accounts that were provided by Vietnamese witnesses (former members
of PAVN Group 559), Spooky 10 # 1 "crashed in flames and was burning
fiercely in their bivouac area with all crew members having been
killed upon impact and thrown completely clear of the plane. All go
on to say that they extinguished the flames with water from a
chemical truck and immediately buried the entire crew in a total of
three graves~ Two being mass graves containing 3 to 5 bodies each,
and the 3rd being a single grave in which they (allegedly) placed the
body of a crew member that was found within some underbrush the
By 1997, the site had been excavated 11 times, but NEITHER of the 2
mass graves were ever located. Dental remains were recovered from a
single grave which has now come to be associated with the pilot (Col.
George Jensen), but even the excavation teams have clearly stated in
their notes that the lack of mass graves is highly problematical with
Further, additional reports state that the Vietnamese
witnesses "salvaged" numerous items from the plane and crew including
emergency beepers, blood chits, wallets, camera film, paper currency,
maps, a copy of the flight manifest~ and a photograph of a woman and
young girl with the words "Boston" and "Potomac" handwritten on the
back, which no family member of either crew has claimed to this day.
The primary item that led the excavation teams to even identify this
particular site with "Spooky 10 # 1" at all was the recovery of a
single dog tag bearing James' name, of which our family continues to
question the authenticity. Like countless other dog tags that have
been recovered over the years, it's simply too shiny and undamaged
for it to have undergone a fire and 30-plus years in the dirt of a
Laotian jungle. (Photos of the tag are on my website).
In addition, it's incomprehensible to me that so much paper could
have survived if the fire had been as all-consuming as we've been
Now in regard to "Spooky 10 # 2" which involved Ted Kryszak's crew.
We know for a fact that the two crews did know each other personally,
and I have a photo here at home of George Thompson (Flight Engineer
from Spooky 10 # 1) standing beside Russ Martin (Co-pilot of Spooky
10 # 2).
Spooky 10 # 2 was sent out two weeks afterward (June 3, 1966) to
complete the same mission that Spooky 10 # 1 was unable to complete,
and the crew suffered the same tragic fate.
According to my understanding, James' crew (Spooky 10 # 1) had
spotted a bamboo-covered road slightly off of their main flight path
and it's this road that they had been assigned to go back to look for
if time and fuel allowed. Unfortunately, I'm not sure that this
secondary route was ever even investigated during the SAR, because it
was called off within only 24 hours due to negative results.
At the present time, the case of "Spooky 10 # 2" is now in the
process of being inconclusively closed out in the same manner, much
to the anger and dismay of the Martin family who continues to seek
additional answers in much the same way as our own family.
Sam, it sounds as if the C-130 pilot that you know may have been
flying with Ted Kryszak's crew (Spooky 10 # 2), because it's
relatively well known that the plane was seen at the time that it was
hit~ It continued to maintain altitude for approx. 3 to 7 minutes
before taking a deep nose dive. A "bail out order" was also reported
to have been heard just before the plane went down.
There are so many details to cover in order to share all that we've
learned, but I suppose that can only be accomplished with time.
However I do hope this has established a good foundation to build
If it would be alright, I'd like very much to continue this
discussion with you to whatever degree that you're able to work with
me on putting together a few more pieces from all sources that you're
I'm especially interested in asking if you'd be willing to forward my
e-mail address to any / all friends that you're still in touch with
who knew these two crews from the clubs. In addition, I'd like to
know more about the letter that you received years ago from the C-130
pilot who saw one of the Spooky 10s go down. (I could be mistaken,
but this sounds very much like the situation involving Spooky 10 # 2~
Ted Kryszak's crew).
In brief, I'll welcome anything and everything from all sources /
individual that you're aware of who can provide additional info.
Believe me, we continue working with BOTH of these cases just as if
they had never been closed out and ALL information will be
God bless you for such a treasure trove of info~ And for your
willingness to respond so quickly with all that you remember.
I very much look forward to learning more, and please feel free to
forward my e-mail along to others who can provide additional insight
Amanda Y. Kidd
Relative of CMSgt. James Arthur Preston
USAF~ 4th Air Commando Squadron
Loadmaster~ "Flight Spooky 10"
Missing In Action~ Laos~ May 15, 1966
Case Inconclusively Closed~ May 15, 2000
AMANDA KIDD'S POW/MIA MISSION OF HOPE
(THE EMPTY COFFINS OF ARLINGTON~ WHO REALLY LIES BENEATH THE STONES?)
In a message dated 7/31/2004 10:43:17 PM Central Standard Time,
Nonetheless, I wish to take a few minutes this evening to introduce
myself and hopefully make contact with Loadmasters of a certain unit
that I am trying to locate.
In brief, I am a relative of CMSgt. James Arthur Preston who was
Loadmaster aboard an AC-47D Spooky gunship that was lost over Laos on
May 15, 1966 while assigned to an armed, visual reconnaissance
mission along the Trail near the border of Savannakhet and Khammouan
If I am not mistaken, that airplane was one of two that were sent TDY
to Ubon, Thailand to fly missions over the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Both
were shot down within a few days of each other. I was flying the
Blind Bat C-130 flare mission out of Ubon at the time. While I didn't
know any of the Spooky crewmembers myself, some of my friends had met
some of them in the clubs. I am in contact with a C-130 pilot who was
working with one of the gunships when it went down, although I don't
know if it was Spooky 10 or the other one. His crew was dropping
flares for the AC-47 and saw the airplane go down. In a letter he
sent me years ago, he related that they searched in vain for any
signs of life from the crew and saw and heard nothing.