T-28 Trojan Foundation

PAPPA HOTEL MIKE TO DROP ZONE ECHO AT LIMA SITE 353
 by Judy Porter
Translation: 8,959 refugees at Ban Pak Ke, in north central Laos, will receive rice from the sky, compliments of the United States Agency for International Development. The end of an era is approaching but it is not quite at hand. For thousands of Laotians and ethnic Hill Tribes people who have been forced to move, time and time again, because of the war, to barren land or land insufficient to support the population; rice from the sky has been the sustaining factor in their rejection of communism.
 As of November of 1973, when the first good crop in many seasons was harvested, a substantial percentage of refugees throughout this war torn country became self-sufficient and refugee rolls were reduced considerably. There remain, however, those who fled the intense fighting just prior to the February 1973, cease-fire and the thousands that are crammed into a relatively small area northeast of Vang Viang in the north central part of the country.
The process begins in the Office of Refugee and Rural Affairs at USAID headquarters in Vientiane, Laos. In an office shared with five others, Mac Thompson peers over the top of the latest reports from his Area Chiefs in the field. The reports tell Mac of the latest influx of people, births, deaths, and other data required to determine the amount of rice and noodles (U.S. Public Law 480) that must be delivered to each village. The map behind Mac's desk looks like a pin cushion. One pin for each Drop Zone. That is easy enough to comprehend.  "One drop per month at each Drop Zone?" I asked. "Not exactly" was Mac's modest reply. "A few villages are small enough that one drop a month is all they need but most require several drops and there are some that take 25 or more to feed the population."  Mac Thompson is a young man from Portland, Oregon, who appears calm amidst a fantastic amount of detail work. He has worked in Laos for over seven years and is no newcomer to the science of logistics; he once moved several hundred bags of cement into a remote valley by elephant caravan.     
click here for the full story available at University of Wisconsin Digital Collection
click here for Judy's Oral History recorded by The Vietnam Center and Archives
Judith E. Porter  11/28/1938 - 11/01/2013
I wish I had known Judy.  She quietly garnered respect and admiration for her photography and writing while living in Udorn, Thailand with her Air America husband during the SE Asia conflict.  She explored the world around her and captured life in photographs of Air America in action, the local indigenous people and documenting the USAid project.  In her later years she was active with the Air America organization.  - H. Murphy
Here is a sample of her photography and writing:
Air America Chalet LS20
Locked, Loaded, Ready to Rock and Roll.
Select interview then press play arrow

  • Allen Cates, Author Honor Denied12:03
  • John Wiren of Air America6:43
  • Larry Stadulous Air America8:39
  • Ben Densley Air America5:55
John Wiren with Hmong celebrating his book "Flight of the Erawan"  Milwaukee WI
Click on thumbnail photos to enlarge
Photographs courtesy of John Wiren
Recommended Books (click on covers)
"Haulin' Ass"
1970 in the midst of battle at Long Tieng Air America pilot, Jim Russell,  delivers needed supplies.
The iconic photo by Hubert Van Es shows a last-minute rescue by Bob Caron, Air America helicopter pilot and CIA contract employee, O.B. Harnage (reaching for the people) before the North Vietnamese overran the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon April 29, 1975 on the Pittman Apartments in downtown Saigon, where senior Central Intelligence Agency employees were housed.  Photo rights Corbis.  Click on photo for video clip.
AIR AMERICA "the most shot at airline"
Honoring the 240 Air America pilots who lost their lives to hostile air fire
Air America  Memorial Plaque at UT Dallas McDermott Library
The Secret War in Laos and How I Got There 
by Warren Erickson
"Our motivation was hard to explain. It certainly wasn’t the money. I think we liked the freedom, the flying and overcoming obstacles to get the job done. CAT/Air America had a slogan  something like we deliver anything, anyplace, anytime.” These were not empty words, our government really got its money’s worth with Air America."  (For the full story click here)
In Gratitude to the Crews of Air America:
A Speech to an Air America Symposium
- Craig W. Duehring
Symposium held at UT Dallas on April 18, 2009.
Photo Albert Grandolini Collection
It Takes Five to Tango by John Wiren
"Early in May of 1964 I was instructed to go see the station manager.
I immediately wondered what I had done wrong this time but, when I found out that four other of my cohorts were likewise summoned, I was somewhat relieved. With the station manger was a customer type (CIA). We were ushered into the office, and it was immediately evident that this was a closed- door meeting.  We  were asked in the most strictest of confidence whether we would be interested in flying the T-28 (Trojan) for interdiction of roads, air to ground combat and SAR. To the man, we eagerly accepted the offer. It was our chance to retaliate after being shot at for several years in unarmed aircraft." 
(For the rest of the story click here).  Photos of John:
     
The lack of Lao pilots led the CIA to form in May 1964 the A-Team, a pool of Air America pilots trained to fly the T-28s. This unmarked T-28C, brought up to D standard, was seen taking off for a reconnaissance sortie with an Air America crew.  The A-Team was disbanded in 1967 when sufficient Lao and Thai pilots were available.   Credit: acig.org  and  National Security Archive
AIR AMERICA

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