Don’s Birthday 1965
Don in H-43
H-43 MAINTENANCE ON TARMAC AT LIDDETTA
INSTRUMENT PANEL IN H-43 KAMAN HUSKEY
H-43 in hanger at Liddetta Air Field, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
DALE DUNHAM (L) and JOHN CHRISTIANSON (R) set up camp
After being assigned to Incirlik AB, Turkey (Det. 84 Tuslog) I got a TDY to Addis Ababa at Christmas time. My wife Judy and I still hadn't received our Household Goods from stateside.
I flew down to Ethiopia in one of those nice noisy C-130s. All of the pilots lived in one house. We had a 'house boy' that kept us in food and laundry. One of the enjoyable parts of the TDY was eating Chinese food. I really learned to like it there and brought that back to my family.
Don and others refueling in the field.
A "short-cut" from the Hiran site near Dira Dawa back down to the central line of lakes formed along an ancient rift. It was a solid 90 minutes of jungle, not a single place to land. Both of us were slinging two 55 gal drums of JP4 to refuel with enroute. Sweat time.
DON VAN METER
Above is a map of the HIRAN Sites and major cities in Ethiopia. These radio sites were essential for the C-130’s navigation while photographing the country and the location on mountain tops necessitated the use of HH-43s to fly at altitude. It seems that the "Jollys" just couldn’t get it up!!!!!
CAPT NEIL McCUTCHAN 1966
John Christianson, (?), Young, Don Van Meter, Dale Dunham.
We broke out into the high lands before the rift and landed on a saddle back.
Kurmuk on the Ethiopian-Sudan Border at HIRAN Site 12A.
H-43 FRONT VIEW AT LIDDETTA AIR FIELD ADDIA ABABA, ETHIOPIA.
When AARC asked for a volunteer for a DetCO in Ethiopia I responded that my bags were packed and time was wasting. I guess no one else was interested in the job because they said: “Don't let the door hit you in the ass” or something like that. I spent one year there and still don't understand Amharic.
All of the other personnel were assigned on 3 month TDYs except for Lt Nick Thornton who hung around with me for six months. I can't remember who was there with whom for the most part. But there were some exciting times that I will not forget. The 15 pilots and the aircrew are those I remember best because of our time in the field. Let me preface my remarks by saying there was no backup (except in a few isolated instances), so when our two birds went out they were on their own almost all of the time. If you couldn't get to "civilization" on your own you were in deep Ethiopian camel dung.
USAF MAPPING OPERATIONS
1963 - 1966
Capt Neil McCutchan in the boonies 1966.
I set up the 43 landing spot with two holes for the front gear--this way the floor would be level. The few inches drop it gave me worked out well. I also set up a tarp right below the azimuth doors in the cabin and had it set to let out any water that dripped in through the rotor shaft/transmission housing when it rained. We were there in the rainy season so this act was necessary too keep the inside of the aircraft dry. It worked well and the water was funneled to the back step by the clam-shell doors. I also used a mosquito net with my air mattress and sleeping bag inside; all the comforts of home. The rest of the guys wanted to sleep in tents or in a small building at Arba Minch, or wherever we were if one was available. I did keep the rear cabin cargo net up in place in case a lion or leopard decided to see if I was a good meal or not.
Christianson checks for Lions & Tigers & Bears, Oh My!!!
O2 TANKS INSIDE H-43
We took ground fire coming down off the small mountain as we removed the HIRAN equipment and personnel. A real adventure.
Aerial photography was provided by the United States Air Force-1370th Photographic Mapping Wing based at Kagnew Station, Asmara, Eritrea, Ethiopia. From 1963 until the early part of 1966 Atlantic Air Rescue Center-Air Rescue Service (MATS) provided field support flights. Upon their departure, Air Rescue's role was taken over by chartered Ethiopian Airlines DC-3 aircraft flights and Army Map Service Civilian pilots until the completion of the project in the summer of 1970.
I arrived at Hahn AB, Germany, in June 1965, then was on my way to Ethiopia in early September and returned to Germany right before Christmas. I spent one night out in a shelter-half (had to put two together to make a pup-tent), it was a very miserable night sleeping. After one night out in the bush, and after hiking about a half mile to a stream to take a quick bath, we saw a lion chasing a buck in the brush near where we made camp--this was after we had taken off. From then on, I slept in the 43.