AFTN- The American Forces Thailand Network

        Restoring AFTN Udorn Radio on the Air

When the crash occurred I was a Depot level AFTN Radio/Television maintenance technician stationed at Korat.  Being that I was a Depot level maintenance technician for AFTN, I had to go all over Thailand to maintain our equipment.  I was a Staff Sergeant in the Air Force at that time.  My CO, a Lt.Col, told me about the crash at Udorn and instructed me and SSgt John Bovolick, Jr.  to do two things when we arrived.  (1) Immediately go to Udorn and assist in identifying the casualties if possible and (2) get English communications back on the air (radio) for morale purposes.  I knew every man stationed at the Udorn AFTN site, I knew Tom Waterman.  A C-130 took me and the other airman there that afternoon.  We flew over the base theater and saw a big hole in the roof and was told one of the F-4 crewman fell thru the hole when he ejected from his disabled plane.  When we landed we immediately went to the AFTN site.  It was still smoking but I did not see any fire as the fire department was watering the area down.  Everyone in the building was killed and I did recognize a couple of my friends bodies but others were burned beyond normal recognition.  I did help put some in body bags, other G.I.s did also.  One or two AFTN site members survived as they were not at the building when the F-4 crashed into it.  One man that survived was a Tech or Master Sergeant ........the event was a traumatic experience to me ............  I remember working into the dark that night and I was crying a lot because being in AFRTS/AFTN (Armed Forces Radio Television Service/ Armed Forces Thailand Network) member, we were not just G.I.s, but brothers in uniform and a lot of my brothers died that day. I was not in charge of the operation because I remember a local Udorn officer (don't remember his rank) was giving a lot of orders. 

I took a 50 watt Bauer AM radio transmitter with me to Udorn in case I needed it.  All of the radio and TV equipment at Udorn was destroyed so I took the transmitter to the Communications (telephone) building and set it up there.  I strung copper wire to a telephone pole and used the wire as a transmitting antenna.  I needed communciations going into the transmitter.  I received permission from the Communications officer to have a permanent (dedicated) autovon line to Korat AFTN and soldered a PL-55 input plug to the autovon line from Korat AFTN and plugged it into the MIC input jack on the transmitter.  Everything that Korat broadcast was sent to Udorn via autovon line and rebroadcast on my transmitter.  We now had English communications again at Udorn.  I was decorated for my actions in Thailand. ...............


Bill Ostrander,

Sacramento, CA 
AFTN Korat- Network Engineer 69-70

October, 2002