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  • Amanda Y. Kidd
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 1, 2004
      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
      declared MIA.

      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
      being 43-49546.
      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
      following day.

      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
      this case.

      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
      aware of.

      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
      welcome !!!!!!

      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
      as well.


      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



      In a message dated 7/31/2004 10:43:17 PM Central Standard Time,
      spooky10crew@... writes:

      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.

      Sam McGowan
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