CAPTAIN KEN HEALY
Captain Kenneth Healy, ONA Chief Pilot
for the DC-7 Pacific Division based in
Oakland, Ca. 1959 through 1961. Ken
left ONA to complete his career with
World Airways as a senior executive
and flying the B-707, 727, 747, DC-8
CAPTAIN KENNETH HEALY
INGRID (BAKKER) & WARREN VEST
HERB & USCHI ECKARDT
Celebrating Ken Healy´s 96th birthday!
DC-6 Shannon Ireland
LAST PLANE OUT OF DANANGby Paul Vogle
Journalists can work a lifetime and never get that elusive "BIG story," the one that splashes your byline across the front page, "top fold," of the New York TIMES or leads every evening broadcast on television network news. But Paul Vogle did, and it nearly cost him his life. It was March 1975. The final victorious Communist offensive was sweeping down the length and breadth of South Vietnam. Da Nang, the country's second-largest city, was about to fall, and UPI sent Vogle to cover the final moments. Ed Daly, the pistol-packing, tough-talking president of World Airways, was sending two of his 727 airliners north to pick up refugees from the terror-stricken Vietnamese port city. The scene at the former U.S. air base there was one of utter chaos. Thousands of panicked civilians as well as deserting South Vietnamese troops lined the 10,000- foot asphalt strip. World Airways chief pilot Ken Healy first made a low-level pass over the runway, then decided to set the bird down while the other aircraft circled overhead. That's when all hell broke loose. The plane taxied toward the old Air Vietnam ramp where civilians were anxiously waiting. But suddenly, jeeps and other vehicles full of angry South Vietnamese soldiers, chased the plane, it's ramp open to the tarmac. The deserting troops tried to fight their way aboard, ahead of screaming Vietnamese women and children. They knew this was the "last flight" out of Da Nang. Vogle described the frenzy into his cassette tape recorder:MOBS OF PEOPLE ARE PUSHING AND SHOVING, THOUSANDS TRYING TO GET ABOARD. THE PLANE IS TAXIING AWAY FROM THE MOB.THE CREW IS SCARED. THE MOB IS PANIC-STRIKEN. THERE'S A MAN WITH AN M-16 (RIFLE) POINTED AT US, TRYING TO GET US TO STOP. WE'RE LOADING MORE PEOPLE. THE PANICKED CROWDS ARE RUNNING AFTER US. WE JUST PASSED A POTHOLE IN THE RUNWAY. A JEEP, A PICK-UP TRUCK, JUST CRUMPLED UNDER AN ENGINE . . . THEY'RE IGNORING THE ENGINES ... PEOPLE ARE GRABBING AT THE STAIRS. SOLDIERS ARE RUSHING THE PLANE RIGHT NOW. DALY IS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE RAMP. HE'S TRYING TO PUSH THE SOLDIERS BACK. WE'RE BEING MOBBED!" [At this point, Vogle's humanity shines. He stopped being a newsman long enough to shout to the wild crowd in Vietnamese: IT'S ALL RIGHT. IT'S ALL RIGHT. WE'VE GOT ROOM FOR EVERYBODY. DON'T PANIC." But the mob is crazed with fear. They continue to claw at the ramp. The huge mass of people weigh heavily on the stairs, and the plane is in danger of being over-whelmed and unable to take-off.] MEN WITH GUNS ARE FIGHTING EACH OTHER. THE PILOT GOOSES THE ENGINE. [The roar of screeching jets in the background can be heard as Healy keeps the plane moving.] PEOPLE ARE STORMING ABOARD, SHOUTING . . . PUSHING . . . SOLDIERS, CIVILIANS. PEOPLE ARE CLIMBING UP ON THE WINGS NOW . . . THEY'RE FALLING OFF! SOLDIERS ARE FIRING INTO THE AIR TO SCARE OTHERS AWAY . . . WOMEN AND CHILDREN ARE LYING ON THE GROUND. SOME ARE TRYINGTO LIE IN FRONT OF THE WHEELS! [The engine noise picks up, and Vogle is now screaming into his recorder:] A MAN JUST FELL OFF THE RAMP . . . I SEE A BODY, COVERED IN BLOOD. THEY'RE (THE VIETNAMESE) HANGING ONTO THE STAIRS, BUT ARE FALLING OFF AS WE TRY TO GET AIRBORNE." Healy threw the throttle, and the over- loaded jet surged into the air, headed for the temporary safety of Saigon.
DISARMING THE SOLDIERS
In his superb book - "55 DAYS: THE FALL OF SOUTH VIETNAM" - former UPI Saigon Bureau Chief Al Dawson described what happened next. "The soldiers were armed. Vogle and Daly moved up and down the rows of people, stepping over the troops. Vogle asked a man for his rifle. The soldier looked at him with a blank face. Vogle realized he was stunned, virtually comatose. The newsman reached down and plucked the rifle away. He made his way from man to man, taking rifles, pistols, grenades, ammunition." Somehow the stricken aircraft landed at Saigon's Tan Son Nhut Airport, the body of a South Vietnamese soldier, hanging from one of the plane's wheel wells.
DC-7B N953P Oakland Airport 67
DC-7C N953P Oakland Airport 67