Takhli RTAB, Thailand
April 10, 1970
It was as usual a beautiful day in Thailand. Everything was going great at the station. Our station Manager Don Mooring was off on another assignment in places unknown. I was filling in as station manager during Don’s absence, that means all the jokes pranks and what not, were going to be played on me that day and I was ready. Sometime during the morning Mark Londer came into the office and said there had been an accident in Udorn and a bunch of our folks had been killed. I wasn’t going to bite because I thought that was a sick prank and I threw him out of the office. About 15 minutes later my phone rang and it was (I think) Frank Mortenson , calling from Korat AB. He said to me in a very low and somber voice, “Minoughan did you hear what happened in Udorn?” I told him, yes remembering what Mark had told me. He said “they is no one here that I want to talk about this with but will you let me ramble?” Of course I said. This man was clearly devastated and just wanted to talk about it to someone, why me I don’t know.
A short time ago he said, our country lost several fine American’s and this just breaks my heart, he said. I could feel the sorrow in this man’s heart coming through the phone. He was truly devastated. I knew I had to change the subject so I suggested to him we talk about something else right now. I told him everything else is in God’s hands and we need to move ahead. I took a chance in changing the subject because I was afraid he might bite my head off for being what could have been perceived as inconsiderate. He said to me “Minoughan you are right. There is an entire base there with thousands of fine airmen and they have no radio or television to get their minds off of this disaster.” Then he proceeded to tell me his plan on how to get the radio station back on the air. He was going to feed a signal and programming to Udorn from Korat. In his mind he had the whole thing planned out and how he would accomplish this task. I let him ramble on for several minutes, as it seemed to take his mind off of the terrible tragedy at Udorn.
Finally he stopped and said it’s a great plan, but I can’t get it to work without new transmitters, the old ones were destroyed in the crash. There are no extra transmitters in country, without transmitters the plan will have to wait. Then it dawned on me. I said, “ Isn’t Udorn 1520 just like us here in Takhli?” He said yes. I told him, I think your plan is on the road to completion and the radios will be blaring in Udorn soon. I reminded him that two months ago Larry Loback from Korat engineering had delivered to us and installed two new transmitters. There was nothing wrong with the old transmitters and they were both setting in the transmitter room waiting to be picked up and taken to Korat. He asked me “how can we get your old transmitters to Udorn?” I said let me call you back. I hung up and called the Wing Commander at Takhli. (He loved us and his weekly TV program.) Colonel Bottomly, Wing Commander told me he had just returned from a mission and had heard everything on his aircraft radio and expressed his condolences. I told him I needed to get two transmitters to Udorn ASAP. The Colonel said he would have base ops call when they have a crew and C-47 available. Ten minutes later base ops called and said they had the crew and plane and were waiting on us to bring the transmitters to base ops. I immediately called the network and gave them the news. You would have thought I just handed him his retirement papers and a million dollars cash he was so excited. I have to call a hundred people he said, call me back when you get an ETA for Udorn. I know phones were ringing all over the country while the Good Guys in Takhli loaded the two transmitters on to the truck, drove to base ops and loaded the transmitters on the plane. I called the network with the ETA for Udorn.
I wanted to bring this up just to thank everyone involved in that fateful day. Frank Mortenson for his idea, Colonel Bottomly for his help in arranging the transportation to Udorn, all the remaining personnel at Udorn that day for their efforts in getting the station up and running. I know there were folks from every AFTN station in Thailand who one way or another assisted Udorn in some way. I believe that the station was on the air the same day or the next day. Don’t you just know the 9 men who paid the ultimate sacrifice were all standing together, looking down at all of us and smiling, saying it was an honor to be a member of The American Forces Thailand Network, and the mission goes on.
Patrick Minoughan AFTN-Takhli RTAB Program Director, Sept 69-Sept 70