We knew them as “Sandy”

This picture of a “Sandy” is celebrating the “6th millionth pound of ordinance dropped” over North Vietnam by carrying a special bomb (look under the right-wing!)  While this link (Thanks, Bayou Renaissance Man!) shows the Navy variants of the A1H Skyraider commonly called a “Spad”, the Air Force also had their versions in the Southeast Asian Theatre.  They were usually painted in camouflage colors and were known as a “Sandy” by both the U.S.A.F. and Army “Grunts” on the Vietnamese soil.  You can find some pictures further down on the same link above.  When they fired up the A1H, you couldn’t help but look to see what the loud “pockita-pockita-pockita” sound was coming from. The high horse-powered engine necessary to move such a heavy and highly-armored plane into the air by way of its massive four-bladed propellor.

The Grunts loved it because of the high “loiter-time” it was capable of, the pilots loved it because of the armor and the fact that even when shot full of holes, it would still safely return him back to base.  If it sounds like I thought highly of them, you’re right.  I was one of the aircraft electrical repairmen that kept them flying.  We were more commonly known by the nickname as “Spark-chasers” and were trained to work on many different types of aircraft.  Including but not limited to; jet-powered, propellor-powered and helicopters.  If it flew we fixed it, and not just from the Air Force.

Sometimes we would get battle-damaged aircraft belonging to the Navy and the Marines at our base.  We repaired it sufficiently for it to be able to Return To Base (RTB) back on ship, but sometimes we made sure that back aboard the ship they knew it was courtesy of the United States Air Force that got them their plane back by stating so in big print in the aircraft’s Repair Log.  A little competitiveness was always to be found between the different branches, you had to get your fun where you could!

As to the Sandy, it was a dirty, oily, noisy beast, but I will forever remember their great service to us G.I.s.  And now you know where my nickname originated from also.  By the way, the numeral 4 is because I am number four of nine children and as Paul Harvey would say, “and now you know the rest of the story”.



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