Hawaii Lightning News
‘Operation Blue Light’ Moves Tropic Lightning
Reprinted from The AIR Division Advisor (RVN) January 7, 1966.
The Air Force’s "Operation Blue Light," a massive airlift of elements of the Army’s 3rd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division from Hawaii, is now be-ginning its second week.
Military Airlift Command (MAC), formerly known as the Military Air Transport Service (MATS), is carrying out the airlift of some 3,000 soldiers and 3,200 tons of cargo. This troop airlift, the longest in war times, began Dec. 24, when an advanced party of more than 100 members of the 3rd Brigade and 103 tons of equipment arrived at the Pleiku air base in the central mountain region, 240 miles northeast of Saigon.
Air Force Lt. Col. Russell J. Revel of Hutchinson, Kan., MAC airlift commander here, supervised the unloading of nearly 50 tons vehicles and 75 troops from the time the planes landed.
Colonel Revel is assigned to MAC’s 22nd Air Transport Squadron.
The Air Force’s C-133 jet turbo-prop and the C-141 jet transport are the primary air-craft being used in "Operation Blue Light." These aircraft are backed up by C-124 Globe-masters and C-130 Hercules transports.
More than 26 aircraft are involved in the operation. Throughout the airlift, aC-133 will be landing at Pleiku nearly every four hours, while the C-141s will touch down about every 10 hours.
Flying more than 6,000 miles across the Pacific from Hickam AFB, Hawaii, all airline crews make two stops enroute to Pleiku. The first stop for both the C-133 and C-141 crews is Wake Island.
From that stopover, the C-133 crews go to Kadema AB, Okinawa, and the C-141 crews fly to Clark AFB, Philippine Islands. The flight time, including the stopovers, is about 30 hours for the C-133 crews and 18 hours for the C-141 crews.
Colonel Revel explained that the stopovers are for refueling and servicing of the aircraft to enable them to have a quick turn around time in the combat area. While at Pleiku, the air-craft engines are kept in operation during an average 25 minute ground time.
Some 270 men from MAC units are directly involved in "Operation Blue Light." Also there are about 80 men from other major commands participating in the airlift. Most of the airlift command men and aircraft come from units in MAC’s Western Transport Air Force (WESTAF) with backup support provided by the Eastern Transport Air Force (EASTAF).