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April 10, l970 -- Eyewitnesses



Gene Rossel:

Chino, CA 10/28/02


I was there that day when the F-4 hit the AFTN and I thought I almost had it because the aircraft was right over my head and I was probably about 200 ft. from AFTN.  About a half hour earlier, I was trying to get into AFTN building, and the doors were locked-lucky for me.  ….






Ron Sterry

1607th Postal Service Unit


This evening my wife and I were watching a documentary about Tornadoes, and we commented that we really have never had to live through a disaster, except the one time, I told her when I thought I was going to die in a crash that occurred in Thailand when I was there 1970. (I was there Aug. '69 to Aug. '70). I was in the 1607th Postal Service Unit CMR (Consolidated Mail Room) building directly across the street from where the RF-4C came to rest in the AFTN building. We were working in our little one story teak wood framed hooch when we heard a very strange jet engine sound getting louder, then pop, pop (later found out the two ejection seats) then a progressively louder and louder crashing and scraping sound until it became quiet. We were all on the deck by now rolled up spread out all over the floor hoping not to get hit with whatever was happening outside. Then it became quiet, except for the sound of the fire in the AFTN building and chaos of guys running everywhere. We were in the building just to the south of AFTN and a two story BOQ building was just to the east. The F4 slid by it and took the exterior stairs with it, but left that end of the barracks on fire. Because the barracks building had been "racked" with the hit, the doors wouldn't open and the building had several "house girls" working it. I ran over to try to open the doors facing the upstairs exterior balcony but they wouldn't open. When I came downstairs, on the south side of the building, I saw that several girls had safely jumped out of the windows to the ground. For me, it was a very harrowing experience. Whenever we got mail in, on any day of the week we would tell the guys over in AFTN and they would announce it to all the mail guys in the units there so mail could be delivered immediately. The AFTN guys gave there lives to a very important cause, the well-being and happiness of many of us who were on the other side of the world from our families. I'll never forget them.


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