This Is
The American Forces Thailand Network

True Stories and other Crazy Stuff

From Joe Ramsey, Korat 68-69

Christmas eve, 1968, Korat, I was ending my seven-hour board shift, and frankly, had a major case of the blues. Knowing I still had a few more hours of production work to do taping the Midday Jamboree (yeee-haw) for playback at 11AM (while I slept), I just had to get out of the station for awhile. As usual, at that midnight hour, the base was dark and quiet, except for the seemingly, never-ending roar of afterburners from the F-105 sortees departing and returning. I walked to our new, well-lit book library.I was alone in there; sat and read a magazine for ten minutes.

"I'd had it: peace and meditation on this holy morn didn't work, so maybe a cold beer at the Sawadee Club might cure what ails me. The moment I stepped outside the door, I was blown back against the wall by a blast of hot air, gravel and horrific noise. Firstthought: incoming rounds from hell. While crouching down with my arms over my face there appeared a Kaman, H-43, Huskie helicopter with its twin, counter-rotating rotors, not more than 30 feet above me, hovering. (Those rascals must have been waiting for any soul to swoop in on and surprise). Above the noise of the chopper came the distinct Christmas carol "Joy to the World," blaring from a speaker under the front of the aircraft. A helmeted crewman stood in the open side door waving and screamed,"Merry Christmas, ___dammit!" Off they went toward the flightline.     Yeah, that's one Christmas in my life I'll never, ever forget. 

From John Wild, Ubon l968 (as posted on AFN Yahoo Group 2/12/04)

I had one Air Force roommate (at DINFOS), who was the tragic victim of the Udorn RF4-C crash, a John Rose from New Jersey.  We had two Army roommates as well.  Before one inspection, I took a damaged Air Force belt buckle and not realizing Brasso would remove the anodizing, started to "polish" it.  Well, Brasso didn't help the scratch, it removed the entire matte finish, and soon I had a shiny silver buckle which complimented my Army roommates brass, all shiny and ready for inspection. Either Daniels or Powell inspected us that date, and were determined to punish Rose for not having a shined buckle.  I still fondly recall his Jersey accent "Sarge, you don't have to shine an Air Force buckle - his is wrong, mine is right".   Those poor E-5's weren't into understanding the difference, and I wore that shiny buckle to every inspection thereafter, to the chagrin of John Rose who kept taking guff from the big green machine.

From Doc Ball, NKP, 67 NKP, 68 Ubon, 69-70 Korat (as posted on AFN Yahoo Group 2/03/04)

As one of the older timers, and one who spent a goodly amount of his time typing 3"x5" index cards for all the record shipments(including the old 16" disks!)  coming into our station(s) from about 1962 onwards, it's a real surprise to me that you have to ask the questions about ... especially, how a dj would look up a particular song. We had both full albums as well as the "current hits" where specific songs were added to a single disk to comprise the "hit songs" of the day/week. The standard LPs were no problem, as usually there was only the Artist (1), the album title(2), and then the specific tracks (up to perhaps 12 cuts) to type in. When we came to the "hit songs" (a misnomer, even then!), we had only the disk number as a single point of reference, with all the rest of the data having to have three cards per track. I hated the chore!! AND I have nothing but respect for anyone who could keep the index cards up to date even "mostly!" 

 About the only advantage to the CD that I can see is that you could store more disks in the same area with CDs, as opposed to the 12" platters. And, if a dj didn't already have a list of his own "potty break" records, he warn't doin' his job!!!   I know that in my stations, it was almost always a give-away, that whne Richard Harris' "MacArthur Park" came on, the dj wasn't in the control room!!  And, as I have observed, the CDs seem to have brought in much longer cuts than we used to have as a standard. There are definite disadvantages to automation! First and foremost in my mind, is the loss of personality on the air. I especially didn't like not being able to do my own "engineering" as time went along. I remember the first time I found out that at AFRTS-LA, you had to be an engineer to even move a mike position, let alone cue and start records. BAH!!!! Pox and Humbug!!!! Perhaps that's why I'm not still in the business!!

From Steve Slezak, Ubon, l971

One thing I do recall being told when I got to Ubon, involved a guy who was there a year before I arrived. He was on-air for one of his first shifts, when he kept hearing this small voice saying, "F..k you, you" every time he opened the microphone. He thought somebody was pulling a poor joke on him, and got a bit annoyed at this. When there was a break in his live show, he went looking for the perpetrators, but found nobody. He asked who was pulling the prank when he was relieved, at the end of his shift. Nobody knew what he was talking about. After hearing his story, and a bit of detective work, it was found that a "Too-keh" lizard was on a wall nearby...and we all know what their call sounds like. They weren't nicknamed the " you" lizard for nothing

From Kurt Pickering, Utapao l976, Korat l975, NKP l975

I was starting the expanded evening radio network newscast, which opened with four brief headlines and then went to spot.  Cold-reading, I made this blooper:  “The United Rubbers Workers strike entered its 16th day today.”  Somewhere in the next head, I realized what I’d said and had to go to spot early to keep from cracking up on the air.  And seriously cracked up OFF air.  An interesting slip, especially for someone from Ohio (the United RUBBER Workers being based in Akron).

 Ain’t as funny now, but I was 19 then .....

From Randy Worden, 67-68 Takhli ,Station Engineer

I was working the East of Midnight show for David Mellish.  I went to the library to pull the canned shows and came to “The hour of the Crucified”  (5 minute fill).  I frantically searched for the record, but it was nowhere to be found in the weeklies.   I figured in my twenty four year old brain,,, aha substitute.  I looked for a suitable sub and from “Tales of Horror’ Boris Karloff.  In my mind crucified and horror meant the same thing.

I cued up the platter and at the exact moment the station clock struck the time for the 5 minute fill before news.  Up pot new  show, down pot old show, transition was perfect.  I was cherishing my accomplishment when the phone at the station rang.  It was an irate Catholic listener who had waited all night to hear his weekly message through the Hour of the Crucified.   The canned show was supposed to be Catholic filler and I put on a horror fill.

That night I found out what was meant by “It is better to light one light than to curse the darkness”.

This story is true, it happened to me,,, East of Midnight.

From John Wild , Ubon l968

Did you know Bob Eddy?  He was a great, fatherly type NCO.  I must have driven him nuts – Doc Ball I’m sure did go nuts trying to explain me away, but we’re only young once.   My signal accomplishment was stealing acoustic tile from the CMR (mail room) going up nearby, where Korat couldn’t get us tile, but apparently the mail people could.  Every night between 0400 and 0430 (had that pesky switchover on records at around 0432 to finesse, otherwise dead air) I would sneak past the “ever vigilant” but otherwise asleep Thai guard, and spirit off 2x2 tiles, and the occasional bucket of glue/mastic.   MSgt Eddy would come in, see another half a wall of tile having appeared since the day before and just shake his head.   I did the work during Joe Allison’s Country Corner, did the midnight requisition during Bill Stewart, if memory serves.  One night, the Thai guard awoke, and I fell off the damn loading dock in the dark, stifling my cry.   Tore the knee out of a pair of 1505’s.  My Aussie buddies said, “hey, take them to the tailor downtown, have them cut off into 505’s, and we’ll spot you knee socks.  While 505’s stopped being issued one or two years before I enlisted, you could wear them if you had them.  So I had a pair of chopped and channeled 505’s and cool knees in the breeze

From Larry Dyer, Korat,l969-70

"About Korat TV.The control room remained in the van while the locals built a small studio attachment to the existing building.  We had major plans for many a studio production and needed something to build sets.  I remember calling over to Camp Friendship, the army base next door, to ask about some lumber.  They said come on over and bring a truck.... Three of us went over to pick up the lumber. When we returned, we had managed to take away 54 sheets of 3/4 inch Teak mahogany plywood.  Since there was more than what we needed for sets and props, I think everyone with AFTN had taken some and the barracks suddenly had walls and the creation of separate rooms for AFTN personnel.  Every time I see the price of plywood at a lumber yard I remember this, because that type of wood sells for over a hundred dollars a sheet today).

From Bill Ostrander, Korat, l969-70

During my last tour at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base in 1969-1970 I was a Depot Level Radio/Television Repair
Technician (Engineer) for Armed Forces Radio Television Services/ Armed Forces Thailand Network (AFRTS/AFTN).  The most fun time for me was working with and assisting in setting up the radio broadcasting equipment for the Bob Hope USO Tour Show in Korat in December 1969.  Korat AFRTS/AFTN was the headquarters for all English broadcast in Thailand and we would “feed” the Bob Hope USO Show to all American bases in Thailand.  We were having some difficulty with our audio equipment as it was very sensitive to noise as it was a slight windy day and we could hear air rushing past the microphone on the speakers making a “swooshing sound.”  We tried turning the microphone and volume controls down to drown out the “air noise” but the audience would not be able to hear Bob Hope and the other performers if we did that.  We decided to try something else to drown out the “air noise.”  We removed the foam wind sock from the microphone and put a condom over the microphone and replaced the foam windsock on the microphone.  The condom covering the microphone did the trick and eliminated the undesired “air noise.”  After the show was over I went up on stage to dismantle the microphone equipment and made a comment to Mr. Hope.  My partner and I mentioned to him that we had a wind noise problem and to fix it we placed a condom over the microphone to cut the noise down.  I can't remember his exact words but he smiled and said something like that was the closest that his face has ever been to a condom.

That December day in 1969 I shook hands with Mr. Bob Hope and will treasure that moment for the rest of my life.

From Patrick Minoughan, Takhli, l969-70

Someone was going thru the Takhli station for a couple of weeks and replacing the Intro or Outro cart for the start and end of their show. They would be replaced with blank tapes. Well, someone figured it was me and switched out my program Outro tape. Well, I popped the cassette in and said good bye to the audience and was listening to Korat Network waiting for the news and the countdown to throw the switch to the net. Suddenly I realize I have three minutes to go and my Outro music is not there. So I said to the listeners well it appears I have been had with my sign off music, so now you are going to get a real treat because we are going to flip switch to the network now so you can hear the network giving us all of our instructions and you will hear the beeps and AFSGT Lee Harris, telling us what's coming up, See you all tomorrow same time. Hooch 1224 (RB-66 Sqnd) ice down the gin I'm on my way. (Throw switch)

I came out of the studio really upset, not because of what happened but because they figured out I was the one switching the carts. I asked who the hell had the balls to do it to me. All these little innocent faces watching the TV in my office pointed to Dave Tunnell who just went live on TV news. So to pay him back I went into the film library, stripped naked, except for the combat boots. Then I went into the studio and stood naked next to his on air camera. Dave Tunnell was good but after begging me to leave during the commercials and me not moving, just standing next to his camera. He finally broke up in the last few minutes. Payback is son of a bitch."

From Dick Hiner, Korat l969-l970

When you arrive in Thailand, you receive a lecture from a doctor about VD, in which he emphasizes that masturbation will not make you crazy, blind, or grow hair on your palms. Then you receive a "Health coupon Book, " in case you don’t believe him. If you are in a bar downtown and are particularly enamored with a member of the opposite sex from the host country, you may escort the young lady out for an agreed upon sum of baht. And, you must leave a numbered coupon from your health book with the bar’s proprietor. If after the required weekly health examination conducted upon these young ladies, one is found to have a case of cupid’s exema, all the coupons in her box are sent to the base medical authorities. These numbers were then broadcast over AFTN and published in the Daily Bulletin.

One afternoon, our DJ in Korat was reading the numbers over the air when he read his own. He was astonished. After practically choking to death, there was a short silence. Then he nervously announced that we were going to hear "three songs in a row,". He dashed across the street to the clinic and was back before the third song finished.

However, he did stand for the the remainder of his shift.

From Brass Button Broadcasters, (pg 132)

The Audience Speaks Out-Winter l967,  AFTN Audience Survey

"I think we can do without so much long-hair music.  If someone cares for that type, he can buy the record, or tape."

"Too much classical music...hope this survey shows easy-listening music is not in demand... enjoy classics, but not while I'm trying to work on an aircraft..."

"Announcers and newscasters are as good as any in the States.  Other stations, in Europe, could take a lesson in efficiency."

"Phony country and western announcers."

"Have newscasters consult dictionaries and other reference sources for proper pronunciations."

"Don't push Thai language and customs...It's enough just being here "

"Chris Noel acts as though her audience was made up entirely of 15 year-old kids."

"Many of the songs on the Top 40 do not reflect the current tunes being played in the states "

"No blasting commercials.. a higher degree of professionalism than I expected, ....AFTN boosts morale, more programs related to Thai language, customs, history and places to go..."

"Not enough news on the war in Vietnam what progress we are making.  Newscasters should also take lessons in diction."

"We can do without Heartbeat Theater, dramatic interviews and Chris Noel's birthday kisses."

"In comparison to FEN,  AFN and AFKN, you're really tops.  The many changes in the program schedule shows a great effort is being made to keep improving the operation."

Updated  12/24/17

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