To the nine men of AFTN who died while serving their country on April 10, 1970 at Udorn RTAFB,  Thailand

Click on their name for link to their biography

How their fellow broadcasters and friends remember them below



TSgt Jack A. Hawley  (37),  Wakeman, OH

SSgt James T. Howard  (27),  Denver, CO

AIC Andrew McCartney (20) Lakewood, NJ

SSgt Alfred N. Potter  (27),  Forest Grove, OR

\ Sgt John Charles Rose ( 25),  Bloomfield, NJ

TSgt Frank D. Ryan, Jr. (41),  Mercer Island, WA

SSgt Edward Wm. Strain (24),  Myrtle Beach, SC

TSgt Roy Walker  (40),  Albuquerque, NM

A1C Thomas L. Waterman  (25),  Roanoke, VA

VFW  POST 10249 logo -Udorn

The red, white and blue color scheme was selected because these colors are representative for both flags of the United States and Thailand.  The red symbolizes strength, the blue --loyalty and unity,  while the white symbolizes peace.  The nine stars represent the AFTN airmen that made the ultimate sacrifice giving their lives in service for their country for whom the VFW post was named.   In addition to being a symbol of the protector and truth, the stars also represents that divine spark of freedom that shines in each of us.

Designed by Bert Marohl for VFW Post 10249, used with his kind permission,  Feb 2003


AFTN crash painting


Commemorative painting presented to the USAF Museum of Art at the Pentagon  in l971 to honor the nine men who were killed at AFTN Udorn.  The painting by Chantiapkony replicates the station  with an F-4 overhead.

Image used with the kind permission of  USAF Museum of Art, Pentagon,  May, 2003

Gary Sumrall Remembers His Friends & Fellow Survivors from April 10, 1970

It had been 35 years ago on 10 April l970 that we lost nine great guys.  The traveling war memorial made it here in Payson, AZ a couple of years ago, and I took my daughter (who is now in the Air Force) and my Thai wife (Bua) (31 years of marriage) to see the memorial and the names etched on it. 

...I reflect back to that day and remember that the only reason my name was not listed on that memorial was that my shift had been changed from a day shift to the swing shift.  I remember listening to the station and network news (Korat), local weather than it was time for the Barbara Randolph show (as I remember)... then the F-4 coming in and then a "pop" on the air as it went throught the double story officers quarters (wood) and then right into the front of the station.  I could go on, .....

.....those AFTN personnel not working at 2:05:30 all had strange stories to tell... engineer Don Freas at the hoppy shop, Stn Mgr Jack (John)) Lynch reporting to the base clinic. Ray Hackett going to pick up our mail, and I'll never forget Larry Sawell coming down the road trying to find the station on his handheld AM radio (he monitored and critiqued us) as the station was on fire and smoking and the look on his face as he approached what used to be AFTN-Udorn.

Thanks again for remembering.

Gary Sumrall

AFTN Udorn l970

April 10, 2005

I made my annual pilgrimage to the Vietnam Memorial today to honor our nine AFTN brothers who died in the line of duty on April 10, 1970. 
It was a beautiful sunny Sunday in Washington with the annual Cherry Blossom Festival having just concluded  Saturday. The blossoms were in full force so there was major gridlock in DC and the Mall was crowded.  The new World War II memorial was packed with families enjoying the day.  The Washington Monument grounds had been stripped down to the dirt, no doubt to excavate for all of the wine bottles left over from the 4th of July. 
At the Vietnam Memorial the crowd was fairly sparse. There was a young Thai woman in traditional dress near the Memorial that made the visit particularly poignant. Vietnam Vets were helping visitors locate the names of lived ones. On either side of the 12-West panel where our friends are enshrined, Vietnam veterans and family members were making rubbings of the names of those they want to remember.  Wreaths, pictures, and teddy bears lined the base of the Memorial.
On the way home, I stopped by the bar of the old Willard Hotel and toasted these dear friends, lost to us 35 years ago today. Perhaps next year some of us can meet at the Memorial and together reflect on the fond memories we have of the Udorn nine.  
Dick Hiner , Columbia, Maryland
Acting AFTN Network Commander, Korat HQ, 69-70    


Vietnam wall, Washington, DC

April 10, 2004     Visiting Our Comrades

Today, I paid a visit to our nine fallen friends and comrades at the Vietnam Memorial. Here are some thoughts:
I used the Metro to get into Washington.  All the while, the vision of the bombed Madrid trains danced in my head. I didn't see a single security guard during the trip. I kept looking for discarded knapsacks under the seats.
I was relieved when I exited above ground at the Smithsonian stop. What a way to live. The Mall was crowded with tourists, mostly young couples with children. Young people were playing soccer on the grass. The WWII Memorial is almost finished. It was the last day of the Cherry Blossom festival and it was quite a hike to the Vietnam Memorial. 
While searching for 12 West panel,  I saw a veteran festooned with red, white and blue suspenders. He was about my age and overweight like me.  He had a ladder and was helping people climb to the top of some of the panels to take a rubbing of the name of a loved one. At other times he was helping the visitors locate a name. 
I finally made my way to 12 West.  There they were, at about knee level:  Hawley, Howard, McCartney, Potter, Rose, Ryan, Strain, Walker, and Waterman. I thought, "Thirty-four years is a long time, but I remember the tragedy like it was yesterday."  I'll never forget it. Nor will I forget the courage and dedication of the survivors and others who got us quickly back on the air at Udorn.
As I looked around the crowd, I wondered how many of these people, most younger than me, had any idea of the sacrifices made by the men whose names were recorded on the wall. I had the urge to contact the relatives of our nine friends who perished and tell them what these guys meant to us, and to the troops they served in Thailand. It was an emotional, moving experience that all of us should undertake. I will be here every April 10th to think, reflect and somehow connect with these guys.
As I was leaving, I heard someone say, "I wonder where they are going to put the Iraq Wall?  Let's hope and pray that it isn't multiple panels.   
Dick Hiner , Columbia, Maryland
Acting AFTN Network Commander, Korat HQ, 69-70    


April 10, 2003

Today marks 33 years since the crash at Udorn. I could not let the day pass, without memorializing it here. I'll be in Washington, Sunday, and, as in previous years, will pay my respects to The Fallen Nine:Panel 12 West, line 120.

Scott O'Gara, West Islip, NY,  AFTN Udorn, part-time announcer   l969-l970




I had a ‘phone call the other day

“…Hiya, Doc!  What’cha Say? ….”                                                                                                                                      

                A happy, raucous voice - -

                A name, a name, a face …

Just a friend, with time to spare, to while away.


And then – just a few hours, a day or so later …

Another voice, badly shaken, comes in to stutter . . .

                “An accident … a terrible accident…

                The word’s the station…the van…it all went…!

One of the birds…an RF-4…” Through sobs, a mutter.


Some were out, a renewed appointment

A visitor and his host in the pool and wet –

                At first…”Only two, perhaps three…”

                A whispered “Maybe ten...God, Help Me.!”

The Hours, the count, the toll…rising yet.


A New England twang…a soft southern drawl…

A friend, a voice, a telephone call…

                Little Tom, easy-going Andy

                Two in the van, others handy…

These voices stilled…the men quiet, the silence is all.


That Friday…that tenth day of April…

The numb shock, the waiting, until…

                “you’re sure, sir?  There’s no doubt?

                The entire station, no one inside got out?”

A mile from the line!  Impossible !   And still…


“The Voice of information…and Entertainment”.

Udorn’s ‘happy guys’…the center of merriment…

                The notice reads “All were from C.S.G….”

                We still can’t say “AFTN, Men!  RADIO!  T.V.!”

The tragedy of nine men…wrapped in one small comment.


“At Udorn, today, a bird returning with battle hits…

An aircraft…lost of it’s control… the crew ejects…

                If flew from the runway…in the sky tumbling

                Nine buildings hit – on one of them crumbling…

A small building, a radio building, and some barracks.


Nine men – “Air-men but not air crew, not fliers…

Nine voices, companions, husbands, sons and brothers

                “They belonged to AFTN?  What’s that?

                These records, this history…IT won’t say, mac”.

Nine men, nine faceless names, nothing more, nothing other.


Yes, I had a ‘phone call the other day…

“…Hiya, Doc!   What’ cha say?…”

                The voice?  A friend of mine…

                A name, a face, a voice on the line…

Only a man…now emptiness… he’s “gone away”.

[Copyrighted by Davis "Doc" Ball, 3 May l970, Korat, Thailand -- Used with "Doc's" permission, March, 2003. ]


I thought I was going to die in a crash that occurred in a ........... building directly across the street from where the RF-4C came to rest in the AFTN building........... 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.

Ron Sterry,  Lake Forest, CA  Udorn 69-70  1607th Postal Service CMR

"Tom Waterman, whom I was stationed with at Sheppard, ......was really a nice guy, who left (at that time) a wife and a baby, who wasn't more than a few months old...." 

 Steve Slezak, Iowa City, IA,  AFTN Ubon 71-72

"....I knew every man stationed at the Udorn AFTN site.  I knew Tom Waterman. .......I remember working into the dark that night and I was crying a lot because being in AFRTS/AFTN...., we were not just G.I.s, but brothers in uniform and a lot of my brothers died that day....."  

 Bill Ostrander, Sacramento, CA,   AFTN Depot level engineer 69-70 ( sent from to Korat to Udorn  late that day  to put AFTN back on the air. )

" This disaster directly affected numerous AFTN-NKP personnel since they personally knew several of those who died on a personal, as well as professional level. ..... Ed Strain and I had been roommates at DINFOS for almost eight (8) weeks since he was in the class directly behind me.......

I still recall the events of that fateful day, .....  I can vividly recall the good times Ed and I had at the Ft. Harrison NCO Club, common trial and tribulations with our class studies, plus the trek he took me on of the Udorn bars and joints when I as there TDY. "

Jim Treat, Santa Claus, IN,  AFTN NKP  Station Manager 69-70

DINFOS Memorial for Broadcasters


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