Eighth Aerial Port Squadron, USAF in Vietnam

John Webb

8th APS MOB Team Member
August 1969 - August 1970

John was a member of the 8th MOB from August, 1969 through August, 1970. He was wounded at Bu Dop in May of 1970 and awarded the Purple Heart by Col. Victor Lisec, Squadron Commander.

After he returned from Vietnam, John later became a Load Master, but after 8 years in USAF, returned to Texas and worked for his father-in-law's John Deere dealership and then went back to college, finished his degree and worked for John Deere Corporate for the next 30 years until retiring in 2009...

These days, he is enjoying being a grandfather in a small town in West Texas.

John found our web site in March of 2018 and contacted us to "check in" with the rest of the team and share these photos.

Below is his story and the photos he sent us.


On one mission we were on a resupply mission...unloading aircraft.  The airstrip and "ramp area" were so small that they would back the planes into the unloading area.  The loadmaster was sitting on the end of the ramp and someone from the team would guide them back in.  This one afternoon we started getting a mortar/rocket attack. 

Who ever was backing the plane in started waving his arms to leave..the load master didn't understand so the guy flipped him the bird and took off running.  I was watching and I did the same thing.  I spied a big blast hole filled with howitzer brass and jumped in. 

Half way thru my jump I spotted a BIG..I mean BIG snake sunning on some of the spent brass.  I think we both saw each other at the same time.  I about broke my neck getting back out of there and I think the snake did the same thing.  I wasn't bitten but scared the crap outta me.  Later Bickford was laughing his ass off..I said "Bick what the hell was so funny?"  He said "you...it was like you jumped in and they reversed the camera..you came out the same way you went in."  It was a good laugh   AFTER it was over...

Editor note: John was a big guy, but didn't like snakes. I think (in my fuzzy memory of our time in Vietnam) that incident occurred at the SF Camp at Katum - Easter Sunday, 1970 - when John jumped into the hole, then sprang back up out of it "like a jack-in-the-box" is what I thought. Luckily, he was neither bitten by the snake nor wounded by the shrapnel.

Then again, a similar event could have occurred more than once... But I remember the story with images of Katum in my fuzzy memory...

(BTW - We used to refer to these vipers as "Two-Step Charlie" - they bite you; you take two steps and fall over dead...) -

John Webb -  Vietnam. 1970

John Webb -  Vietnam. 1970
John Webb with CCT Probst -  Vietnam. 1970
John Webb & CCT Probst
wounded at Budop, Vietnam. 1970

The Purple Heart Medal

A little on how I got my Purple Heart.  We flew in to Bu Dop Special Forces camp that morning in May 70 for a resupply and pallet recovery mission.  One of the first birds that landed picked up some shrapnel and got a flat.  I sat there almost all morning till a plane could bring a tire and a crew to change it. 

Right after it took off I was unloading some 175 shells off a 130 and a mortar hit right on the other side of the runway.  I backed out with the pallet still on my fork lift and set it down in a hurry.. the plane took off during several more mortars.  I started to get off the forklift.  I put one foot on the seat and the other one on the step and a round hit at the front right tire of the fork lift. 

The blast knocked me about 10 ft away and I crawled over between stacks of recovered pallets.  I think we got around 80 rounds but seemed like it was a thousand.  In about 40 minutes we heard the all clear siren from the camp and the 1st Sgt came down to our area to see if everyone was ok. 

I had my back to him and said some of the CCT had been hit and to see about them.  I turned around to talk to him and he said well what about you?  I said me?  he said yeah look at your chest.  I think I acted like Redd Foxx...Here I come lord...LOL..a small piece of shrapnel about the size of 00 buckshot had gone thru the arm hole of my flak vest and hit me in the upper chest/shoulder area. 

It wasn't bad but as much as I was sweating the blood had gotten in the sweat and spread all over my chest.  IT was only a small blood vessel but looked a lot worse.  They took me up to the camp to try and remove it but they couldn't so they patched me up (that's the picture of me and Probst) and I went back to Tan San Nhut with the team.  I was met at the plane when we landed and they took me to the ER where they got it out.  I kept that little hunk of metal for years but lost it some where during all my moves.

USAF 463L Pallwet Recovery at Budop SF Camp, Vietnam, 1970

USAF 463L Pallet Recovery at Budop SF Camp, Vietnam, 1970

"Pallet Recoveries" were one of our frequent fill-in missions, recovering used cargo pallets from the dirt airstrips where they had been delivered, full of cargo, by the C-130's or C-123's.

Each one was 88x108 inches, made of aluminum-skinned balsa wood. They weighed about 300 pounds, but could handle 10,000 pounds of cargo.

These were a favorite hiding place for snakes, scorpions... and VC Booby Traps.
Even a simple pallet recovery mission could be very dangerous..

That's one of 8th MOB's 10K Adverse Terrrain Forklifts - the famouns "10K-AT" - in the background.
It was a new machine at the time, but newer models are still in use by the Air Mobility Command.

463L Cargo Pallet and netting in the foreground.

Col. Victor Lisec Awards Purple Heart to John Webb -  Vietnam. 1970
Col. Victor Lisec Awards Purple Heart to John Webb
 at Tan Son Nhut AB, Vietnam. May, 1970
recent reunion photo - MOB team members who served with John Webb
8th MOB Reunion Photo
John served with
Jim Wade, Paul Appel and Neil "Brownie" Brown
August, 1969 - August, 1970
8th MOB Barracks Row, Tan Son Nhut AB, Saigon, Vietnam. 1970

8th MOB Barracks Row,
Tan Son Nhut AB, Saigon, Vietnam. 1970
8th MOB Barracks, Tan Son Nhut AB, Saigon, Vietnam. 1970

8th MOB Barracks Door
Tan Son Nhut AB, Saigon, Vietnam. 1970
Bunard Air Field, Vietnam. 1970
Bunard Air Field, Vietnam. 1970

Bunard Air Field, Vietnam. 1970
Bunard Compund, Vietnam. 1970
Song Be Mountain ("Nui Ba Ra") in background
C-130, Budop, Vietnam. 1970
C-130, Budop, Vietnam. 1970
Huey UH1-B Gunship - refueling at Loc Ninh, Vietnam. 1970
Huey UH1-B Gunship
refueling at Loc Ninh, Vietnam. 1970
US Army Chinook, Loc Ninh, Vietnam. 1970
US Army Chinook, Loc Ninh, Vietnam. 1970
US Army Chinook - loading wounded, Loc Ninh, Vietnam. 1970
US Army Chinook - loading wounded
 Loc Ninh, Vietnam. 1970
Chao Phya Hotel  On Secret Mission to Cambodia
Secret Mission to Cambodia

This photo is from a mission from Tan San Nhut where we landed in Thailand and were supposed to go into Cambodia on a secret mission. 

We landed at Bangkok and then flew into U Dorn Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand. 

It was a total cluster from the start and no one seemed to know what each other was doing.  We left there and went to Pattaya Beach Resort on the coast of Thailand and stayed there 2-3 days while the big wigs tried to figure things out.  After 3 days we left and flew back to Tan San Nhut...we were never told what the mission was supposed to be. 

Things still haven't changed much have they?  LOL

ed note: Sure finer digs than some bunker at BuDop, eh?

C-123s -  On Secret Mission to Cambodia

c-123s & Team Gear on the Ramp
Thailand, May 1970
John & Sgt. Smith -  On Secret Mission to Cambodia

John & Sgt. Smith - on the Ramp with gear
Thailand, 1970

ARVN on Truck - 1970

A couple of ARVN on a truck - Vietnam, 1970


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