REDHORSE AT UTAPAO AIR BASE, THAILAND
Webmaster: R.G."Andy" Anderson
MA DANG (RED HORSE)
In Thailand we were known as Ma Dang which translated means Horse Red. My first tour of duty with Red Horse was at Utapao, Thailand and I will always have found memories of those times.
Step-n-Half with his handler SSgt Charlie Heckler Plus the Airfields Shop in a Photo Op.
Utapao Air Base, Thailand
"Step-n-Half (whose original name was One and a Half)," first saw duty with the 554th Red Horse Squadron in 1968 at Phan Rand Vietnam. Step-n-Half was originally borrowed from downtown in the village at Phan Rang. In those days the 554 Commander's radio call sign was "Redhorse 1" and the Deputies call sign was "Redhorse 2" so as you can guess "Step-n-Half" got his name from these radio call signs. By being named "Step-n-Half" put him in between the Red Horse Commander and his Deputy Commander. His fist handler was AIC Charley Money from Arlington, Texas. Charley corrupted "Step-n-Half" by giving him cigarettes and cold beer. From Phan Rand, "Step-n-Half" went to Cam Rahn Bay, Vietnam and then to DaNang Vietnam. "Step-n-Half" was brought to Utapao AB, Thailand from Vietnam. At Utapao AB, he was kept staked because there where open entry ways to the compound that he could escape to. And another reason is that he didn't especially like some of the Thai men that worked for Red Horse and would bite them if given a chance. Never knew "Step-n-Half" to bite a Thai Lady. Believe he had too much class for that. Later as we lost our Thai Workers and closed those openings around the perimeter we let "Step" loose and he had free access through out the Red Horse Compound. He liked to eat cigeretts and drink beer (having learned these nasty traits from Charley Money in Vietnam). When Horsemen were on the Red Horse Lounge Patio at Utapao---"Step" would be there trying to mootch a cigerett or a cool drink of your beer. In fact he also appreciated a good hamburger, hot dog, or a bag of peanuts. When Red Horse was leaving Thailand (June 75) for Korea they wanted to take "Step" there also. After a long search the Horsemen finally found a C-130 pilot with enough guts and one that was willing to take "Step" to Korea. So "Step's" trailer was refurbished and "Step" was loaded into it and taken to the Airfield Ramp for loading. But Utapao's Base Commander heard about it and put a stop to "Step's" transfer to Korea. What a let down for "Step" and the Horsemen in Korea that where waiting for him. But where the Air Force broke down the Navy came to the rescue. They loaded "Step" onto one of their ships in November 1975 and took him to the Phillipines, to Detachment# 6, 554th Red Horse Squadron. "Step" lived out the rest of his life in the Philipines. After Step-n-Half died he was buried in the Security Police DOD's Cemetary at Clark AFB. We thank you Step for past memories that you gave us. May you rest in peace......
This is the shoulder patch that all 554 Red Horsemen in Thailand wore on the left shoulder of their light weight jungle fatigues. This was sent to me from Charles Wanner a former horseman in Thailand. Thanks Charlie...
SSgt Blenkin never did wear his Red Horse Hat while at Utapao. He told me once that it was easier getting in and out of the civil engineerings material supply yard when he was there taking what he needed to do our Red Horse Projects. Guess they thought he was one of their troops since he was there so much.
Red Horse Formation at Utapao, Thailand. The horseman (second from the left)looking at the camera is "Ski" believe he grew up some where around Berkley in California. He told me that his mother was Japanese and his father was Polish. That is the reason for the nick name of SKI. Ski was with us in Okinawa and we all had some good times there. Check out the Okinawan Page for more on this.
SSgt Robert Anderson (also known as Andy) was the Red Horse Project Manager to Install BAK 12 Aircraft Arresting Barriers on both ends of runway at Utapao. Sgt James and Sgt Jeffreys Red Horse Construction Heavy Equipment Operators and SSgt Michael Golden (without the shirt) was our top notch Red Horse Heavy Equipment Mechanic. If a piece of heavy equipment was broken down, you could bet that Old Goldie could repair it--and have it--up and running--in no time at all. Goldy used to ride with a motorcyle gang in his younger years and had been a feature in a magazine article. I always thought he was just talking when he told me this. But when we were again stationed together in Red Horse back in 1978 at Kunsan, Korea I was up in his dorm talking with him when he came across this magazine article in his locker and he then showed me the article. And in it they refer to Goldy as the "Dirty Old Man". Guess they where referring to what Goldy normally talked about. ---Girls---
Here is a picture of SSgt Charles Heckler holding Step and A Half at the front of a Red Horse convoy getting ready to cross the bridge at Utapao that we had just finished rebuilding. Step was always there when we finished a project.
Colonel Meredith had that red blanket, two blocks of salt and oats brought over on a plane from the states. AIC Charley Money (Steps first handler) sewed the Chief Master Sergeant Stripes onto the red blanket. Colonel Merideth and AIC Charley Money with Step and a Half met General John D. Ryan (who was the Air Force Chief of Staff) at Phang Rang's airport with the 554th Red Horse Squadron in formation. After Colonel Merideth presented General Ryan him with a plaque and as the General turned to walk away that sorry horse bit him in the butt(hard). Charley told me that he thought for sure that his two stripes were gone. The Pentagon called back from Washington to see if General Ryan had his rabies shots. But Colonel Merideth said, "He chews on Airman Money all the time and he ain't dead". Colonel Meredith was a great Red Horse commander.
Front side of a 20 BAHT Script. For those of you that didn't make it to Thailand this what their money looks like. All of the Thai money that I saw had a picture of the King on the front side of it.
This is what the back side of the 20 BAHT Script looks like. In those days 20 BAHT was equal to one dollar. It may be worth more than that now since we are no longer there and the economy isn't doing as well from what I have read in the newspapers.
This is a picture of the Red Horse Lounge and it's patio that was located inside of the Red Horse Compound at Utapao Air Base, Thailand. In the lounge horsemen could get a good breakfast early in the morning and a cool brew when you got off of work. Two of the girls that worked in the lounge married a couple of dirt boys just before Red Horse left Thailand and accompanied their husbands to the states.
This is a picture of the Walk Through Gate at Utapao Air Base, Thailand. Unless you drove into the base, this is the gate that you had to go through to enter or leave the base. In this photo the Thai's are going to work.
This is the main drive through gate to Utapao Air Base, Thailand. Note the pick up trucks with the covers on their beds. These are called BAHT Trucks. A passenger gets in the back of the truck and when they get to where they want to get off they tap on the trucks rear window. The driver will stop and you pay him. Normally about one baht or five cents in those days. Looks to me, as though the Thai girl in the picture is fixing to have a baby.
This is a picture of Charlie Wanner and his pretty wife while at the beach.
A road shot outside of Utapao Air Base, Thailand. Not sure where it is at, but could be on the way to Ban Chan or Killo Sip for you guys and gals that know Utapao. Charlie Wanner sent this in to me to be posted here.
Some of our Horsemen would come to Utapao and then be sent TDY to the Phillipines. They would spend six months in PI, then come back to Utapao process back into the base, then go back TDY to the Phillipines to finish out their tour of duty in South East Asia. So I have placed a copy of the Phillipine script in the above pictures. Again we have the front in the top picture and the back on the bottom picture.
On the way to the downed Jolly Green Helicopter (to the left in the picture) civil engineering stuck their bulldozer. I pulled it out with my dozer before going on to get the Jolly Green. Note the puyings (Thai ladies for you Americans) on their way to check out the downed helicopter.
Downed Jolly Green Helicopter & Sgt Hart from Red Horse. This helicopter was downed by small arm fire that took out one of it's jet engines. It landed just inside of Thailand after participating in the rescue of the "Mayaguez" a U.S. Merchant Marine Ship that had been hyjacked by the Khemer Rouge Cambodians in International Waters. You can see the Cambodia Mountains in the back ground of this photo. The Khemer Rouge tried blowing this helicopter up twice, but where scared away by the security police that were with us, when they started shooting their flares so they could get a good shot at them.
Jolly Green Helicopter setting by the road and ready to be loaded onto a tractor with a 60 ton flat bed trailer for the two day journey back to Utapao Air Base. It rained most of the way back to Utapao and we had to have an electrician ride on top of the Jolly Green so he could lift live electrical wires over the Helicopter that we had to pass under to get back home.
This helicopter is loading one of the Jolly Green's Jet Engines onto a 40 foot flat bed trailer for transporting back to Utapao Air Base.
Everyone was really interested in watching James cook his C-Rations. Including myself the one without the shirt. The Thais' that lived here had never seen Americans before. And had also never seen food that came out of a can. Speaking of C-Rations, two thirds of the C-Rations we took with us had to be thrown away due to bacholism. The ends of the cans where swollen outwards and was a dead give away as to the bacteria that had developed within those c-ration cans.
Just before Cambodia fell to the Khemer Rouge, about twenty of the Cambodian soldiers came to Utapao, Thailand to learn how to repair crater holes that were being blown into their runways by the Khemer Rouge. So it became Red Horse's tasking to train them in crater repairs and in how to assemble the AM-2 Matting and anchor it so aircraft can use the runway with minimual down time. About two weeks after these soldiers returned to Cambodia the Khemer Rouge had won the war there. Seeing the news on what the Khemer Rouge did to their prisoners, I have assumed that all of these men we trained were more than likely executed by the communists. Anyway, before they left Utapao one of the Cambodian soldiers that we had trained gave me this Cambodian money as a memento of him and his group.
In this photo we have poured the BAK-12 Aircraft Arresting Barrier floor (seven feet of concrete) and have the bolts placed for the B-52 braking system. The footers for the building are in place and the pipe for the tape is in place and is being covered by heavy equipment. Notice the sand fill over the pipe. This will help prevent it from being ruptured by rocks, etc.
This photo shows the BAK 12s, B-52 bomber aircraft braking system installed on the concrete slab and bolted down. The Barrier Shack structure is well on it's way to being put together.
In this picture the Airfield Construction Heavy Equipment Operator's (dirt boys)are leveling all of the ground around the BAK 12, insuring that the area slopes gradually with no hills or mounds left. This is done so that if an airplane runs off the runway it doesn't become airborne again.
This is a BAK 12 Aircraft Arresting Barrier Project that was being constructed on the runway at Utapao Air Base, Thailand in 1975 by 554CESHR, Red Horse. SSgt Robert Anderson (your editor) was the project manager for this project.
Sgt Andrade from Hawaii is the operator on this TD-20 Bulldozer. He is working on the BAK 12 Aircraft Arresting Barrier Project.
Sgt Black from Iowa has a full blade of dirt while operating his road grader on the BAK 12 Aircraft Arresting Barrier Project at Utapao.
Here are but a few of the planes that the Vietnamese flew to Utapo, Thailand when they lost the war to North Vietnam. A lot of the pilots for these planes were enlisted personnel that had flown officers and the officer's families to Thailand when Vietnam fell. Many of these pilots wanted to return to their own families in Vietnam, but were not allowed to return once they landed in Thailand. After being processed they were put on planes along with the Vietnamese Officers and their families and flown to the Philipines and placed in a refugee camp. All were detained at the refugee camp until they could be relocated to someplace else. Most of the refugees ended up in the United States of America.
Here we have the Red Horse Vehicle Maintenance Shop. Charlie Wanner sent in this photo.
This picture of the used tire storeage area at Uatapao Air Base, Thailand in Red Horse was also sent in by Charlie Wanner.
Here we see the oil storage area with an "A" Frame Hoist that the Vehicle Mechanics use to lift heavy parts off the Red Horse Heavy Equipment when they are making repairs to it. Sent to us by Charlie Wanner.
Here we have a Scraper setting in the vehicle maintenance waiting for repairs at Utapao, Thailand. Sent in by Charlie Wanner.
Road leading up to Red Horse Entry Control Shack at Utapao, Thailand. Sent in by Charlie Wanner.
This is Charlie Wanner's Utapao NCO Club Card. As you can see he had checked out of the NCO Club and was getting ready to rotate back to the states.
This is a picture of Ray Minton and his lovely wife Linda. Ray served with the 556 Red Horse Squadron at Utapao, Thailand prior to the 554 Red Horse Squadron being deployed there from Vietnam.
The men in this picture are some of the Locale National Thai Men that Red Horse hired to help on Red Horse Projects at Utapao. Received this picture from Sgt Ray Minton.
This is a picture of Sgt Ray Minton and his friend "Do Little" (Nick Name) taken outside of the Red Horse Administration Office.
Sgt Ray Minton standing by the 556 Red Horse Statue.
Here we have a Thai band that played in the Air Force NCO Clubs in Thailand. Their Group Name was Known as the Vampires.
This is a picture of the Red Horse Headquarters Building at Utapao. The picture was sent to Red Horse Country by John Gajdos.
This is a picture of a Modular Dormitory Project in 1973 and was sent to Red Horse Country by John Gajdos.
This picture is a Boating Excursion in 1973 at Patio Beach. Notice the beer being thrown through the air in the top left corner of the picture. This was sent to Red Horse Country by John Gajdos.
Here we have a picture of the Red Horse Hootch/Lounge. The building is being extended on the right side when this picture was taken. The Picture was sent to Red Horse Country by John Gajdos.
This picture was taken in 1973 when the Contonement Building was being built in the Red Horse Compound. The Picture was sent to Red Horse Country by John Gajdos.
Again this photo was taken when earth work was being done to prepare the Red Horse Compound for new construction. The Picture was sent to Red Horse Country by John Gajdos.
Here we have a picture of four Horsemen stationed at Utapao in 73. The one on the left is John Gajdos. Next to John is Frank Carasosa. In the back is Hall and on the right is Sgt. Robert Vaughn. The Picture was sent to Red Horse Country by John Gajdos.
Another picture of the Red Horse Headquarters Building at Utapao. The Picture was sent to Red Horse Country by John Gajdos.
This is a picture of Step and One half taken in 1973 at Utapao Air Base, Thailand. The Picture was sent to Red Horse Country by John Gajdos.
This is a picture of AIC Charles Mitchell at NKP with Red Horse in the 68-69 era.
This is a picture of Sgt Dan Dasilva at his work area in the engineering section at Utapao, Thailand.
Another picture of Sgt Dan Dasilva at his desk in the engineering section of Red Horse at Utapao, Thailand in 1972.
Sgt Dasilva spent 95% of his time here drafting and planning different Red Horse Projects.
Drafting is not the only thing that Engineering Assistants do in their day to day work. Sometimes they do get to go on the job sites and do some surveying. Here Dan Dasilva and TSgt Jackson are doing some survey work for a Red Horse Project.
When Sgt Dan Dasilva left, Dan's friend Dave Galvin took over his desk and drafting duties in Red Horse.
Though we all talk about DEROS back to the states, it is still hard when you have to leave friends that you have lived with for an extended period of time. Here Dan Dasilva is saying goodbye to his roomate John Cook before his departer to the states.
This is a picture of Dasilva and Tullis who were starting college again in the Fall Semester of 1973.
This is a picture of the 556 Red Horse Squadron from the 67-68 Class at Utapao, Thailand. Picture was sent to Red Horse Country from Sgt Lou Young who was there in Red Horse at that time. Our thanks to Sgt Young and his daughter Tricia. Click onto the picture to make it larger and more detail.
This is a photo of Det 1, 556th CESHR Redhorse from Udorn RTAFB, Thailand taken Jan. 18, 1968. From Left to Right: 1st Row. Sgt Williamson, AIC Gay, Sgt Torres, MSgt Rogers 1st Sgt, Sgt Kline, AIC Mosely, SSgt Donner. 2nd Row. TSgt Jarels, SSgt St. Pierre, SSgt Fletcher, AIC Belfiore, TSgt Mitchel, SSgt Denet, Sgt White, Sgt Lemasters, Sgt Harris. 3rd Row. AIC Kelly, AIC Kaderavic, Maj Nordquist Det. Commander, Sgt Benton. 4th Row. TSgtr Sexton, TSgt Jennings, Sgt Freedland, AIC Foraker, SSgt Pinney, SSgt Seay, Sgt Harrison, Sgt Monroe. Missing from the Photo for some reasons: Capt Hearst, TSgt Cicchette, SSgt Borges, Sgt Bohl, TSgt Riggs.
AIC Martin Haynes and the Crew at Utapao Air Base, Thailand (66-67)
TSgt John Cecil taking a melon break (66-67)
AIC Martin Haynes Thailand (66-67).
Aic Martin Haynes, Rosenthal and the Line Crew (66-67)
Airfield Operator on Backhoe with mountain in background as seen from Utapao, Thailaind (66-67)
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