If this is how your flight ended up, well you have had a bad day. This transport plane was shot down by a surface to air missile as it made its approach to the airfield. Another ghost of the war in Vietnam.
According to the story told by US Navy Corpsman William Hatfield, who took this picture, this was the third plane shot down that week. Unfortunately Hatfield was not able to document where the airfield was before passing. He did recall that when ever planes were coming in there was always a feeling of mixed emotions. Often they would be bringing reinforcements and even supplies, two things that there was never enough of, but there was also a feeling of dread.
No matter how often they patrolled the perimeter or how well the area was “secured” every flight in and out was in danger. “Sometimes we would just watch as the missiles flew up towards the planes, wondering if they would make it or not,” he relayed in a 2012 interview.
“As soon as the missiles were in the air artillery would fire on the position and Marines would be sent. By the time anyone got there was never any sign of the VC (Viet Cong). They sure did have a system figured out.” Hatfield went on. In this case, to the best of his recollections the flight crew did not survive the attack. “It was always tough when is happened like that, as a corpsman I usually had to help with the casualties and recovery. Gunshots, shrapnel, grenades were all things you learned to deal with, but messes like this were just something else.”
Of course being determined to document what he could of his time “in country” once the debris was cleared he took the picture above.