Batcat
The United States Air Force
553rd Reconnaissance Wing
Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base


Korat RTAFB - The War Years
1967 - 1971

Korat RTAFB - The War Years page was originally part of the opening Batcat page first created on 06/08/96, moved to its own page 04/21/02, and Last updated 04/21/16.


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Photographs without another credit taken by webmaster Larry Westin.

Korat RTAFB Before the USAF
First Connies at Korat RTAFB
Korat viewed from the cockpit
Command and Intelligence
Ground views around Korat RTAFB
388th TFW Facilites at Korat
Airmen, NCO and Officer Clubs
Airmen, NCO & Officer Living Quarters
Tornado hits Korat 1968
Bob Hope and Korat City
To Be Added Later
To Be Added Later

Korat RTAFB Before the USAF

This image shows an aerial view of Korat before USAF expansion, showing Camp Friendship Army Base, view is looking north. Photo shows runway in place, but vacant land where the USAF base would be developed. Photo taken in 1964. Note that most of the USAF side of Korat RTAFB is primarily jungle. Photo courtesy of MacAlan Thompson, color, about 18K, added 11/03/02.

Korat RTAFB as First USAF personnel arrive

As you can see from the image above there was very little existed on what would become the USAF side of Korat. First USAF personel to arrive were sent in to establish communications, precision approach radar, etc. The first USAF arrivals found a lot of work was needed for the base to operate high performance aircraft.

This is a view of a Hootch upon USAF arrival at Korat. In the foreground is the outside urnial for the hootch with a corregated sheet steel around the urinal to give limited privacy. The "road" shown with the tree line behind is what will be the perimeter road. Note that the windows of the hootch have a thacthed "shutter." My thanks to Felix Herring for this image, which was taken in late 1964. Image is B&W, about 380K, added 04/21/16.

Just down from the above hootch was the first food stand on the USAF side of Korat RTAFB. Tree line in back is the perimeter. My thanks to Felix Herring for this image, which was taken in late 1964. Image is B&W, about 132K, added 04/21/16.

The building on the left is the first USAF NCO Club at Korat. It required those visiting the NCO Club to cross the perimeter road to get to the club. The NCO club windows also use thacthed "shutter." My thanks to Felix Herring for this image, which was taken in early 1965. Image is B&W, about 347K, added 04/21/16.

One of the early improvements is shown here. This image shows upgrading hootches from a thacthed "shutter" on the left (1964), to corregated steel shutter on the right (1965). During the 1964 to 1971 time frame the hootches never had glass in the windows. There were screens. My thanks to Felix Herring for this image, who is the airman shown in each image. Photo was taken in early 1965. Left image is B&W, right image color, about 115K, added 04/21/16.

Get an idea of Korat's base layout by viewing this Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base Map. Map courtesy of Jim Bartholomew, B&W, about 183K, added 09/28/02.

Korat - the first Connies to Arrive
were Big Eye then College Eye EC-121D's

A veiw of the Connie Ramp as it neared completion. Concrete is still being poured. At this time the College Eye EC-121D's have just landed, but as yet no EC-121R's are at Korat. In fact the arrival of the EC-121R's was delayed to allow concrete to dry more thoroughly. My thanks to Ed Thurston, for this image. B&W, about 264K, added 03/16/08.


Before coming to Korat the EC-121D's were at other bases. On initial deployment to Southeast Asia the EC-121D's were called "Big Eye" and later "College Eye." Here is a view of Big Eye Crew 16 on their arrival day in Southeast Asia. Crew 16 was at Tainan, Taiwan, until September 1967. During October 1967 "Big Eye" Moved to Korat as "College Eye." Here is a list of Big Eye crew 16 names. My thanks to Dave Biggs, for this image, and Greg Moore and Lester A. "Robbie" Robinson who provided the names. Image B&W, about 152K. added 02/14/10.


Here is a series of 5 views of the first EC-121 to land at Korat, which was EC-121D 53-0555. Check all these images, it was quite a welcome event. First Connie at Korat on the Ramp - view 1, here is another view of the First Connie at Korat on the Ramp - view 2, and one last view of the First Connie at Korat on the Ramp - view 3. Somebody was very quick with a camera - Note the ramp - NO oil stains! Crew deplanes from EC-121D 53-0555, shown deplanning left to right are Terry Kjenstad, Greg Moore, Les Robbins and seated on stairway is David Biggs. All members of Crew #16. A Welcome Committe met the airplane. In the middle is Major Ted Lang, aircraft Commander of Crew #16, which was the first College Eye crew to arrive at Korat (on Triple Nickel). Triple Nickel is now at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, Wright-Patterson AFB, Dayton, Ohio. My thanks to Greg Moore, for this image and the names. All 5 images are color, about 93K, 95K, 91K, 159K and 154K in size respectively. Added 03/19/08.


Korat from the Air - Outside views
from the EC-121R Cockpit while landing

View of Korat RTAFB Runway 24 from about 3/4 mile out. Royal Thai Air Force occupied the buildings on the right. At the time of my arrival the Thai's flew T-6 aircraft, by the time this photo was taken most of the T-6's had moved to other bases. B&W, about 197K, Larry Westin photo.
About 1/2 mile out about to land on runway 24 shows the 553rd and 388th Ramps on the left. B&W, about 135K, Larry Westin photo.
About 1/4 mile out for runway 24 shows primarily the 553rd Ramp on the left. Visible are 5 EC-121D Warning Stars, 1 C-121G, with 15 EC-121R aircraft in revetments, 1 in the maintenance hangar, and 1 on the taxi way performing a runup. B&W, about 417K, Larry Westin photo.
Another view of the Connie Ramp taken from an EC-121R landing. Korat RTAFB is visible in the background, with a 388th TFW F-105 taxiing for takeoff. Notice that only some revetments are in place. B&W, about 44K. My thanks to Bill Holbrook for this photo.
These 4 photos added 01/30/00.

November 1967 aerial view of Korat RTAFB. Note the Swadee Enlisted Club is at the lower left of the image. FMS/EMS barracks not yet complete in the foreground, aircrew barracks have the concrete foundation poured, but none of the walls are yet in place. B&W, about 304K. My thanks to Ed Thurston for this photo. Photo added 03/09/08.

The 553rd Reconnaissance Wing Command Post

During my tour at Korat I never saw the inside of the command post. Bob Look who worked the command post 1967-1968 and provided these images. This view is of Lt. Col. John Crocker with two of the three status boards behind him looking toward the upper desks which were for the NCOIC and duty officer. The board on the right of this view had a diagram of Korat RTAFB, and under it weather reports for all Thai bases. Color, about 140K, added 07/07/05.
Shown here is Bob Look on the right, and unidentified on the left working the command post communications console at Korat RTAFB. Behind are the slightly raised NCOIC and duty officer desks, and further behind that is the higher raised glassed in area which was the battle staff room. Red drapes cover the classified maps so this photo could be taken. Cabinet under the clocks was where the HF (High Frequency shortwave) radio was mounted. Also located behind the doors was a large tape recorder, all communications between the command post and aircraft was recorded. Color, about 135K. added 07/07/05.
This is an image of the Command Post Communications Console. The command post had HF, VHF (Very High Frequency) and UHF (Ultra High Frequency) communications capability. High Frequency single side band shortwave was used by the aircraft on orbit to provide hourly status reports to the command post. Closer in to Korat RTAFB the aircraft would call the command post on UHF. VHF is more of a civilian frequency, but was used at Korat. At times Korat tower monitored VHF closer than UHF. Color, about 170K. added 07/07/05.

The 553rd Intelligence shop

This is an image of the Inside of the Intelligence shop at Christmas 1968. Color, about 128K. My thanks to Charlotte Clinger who is shown in the photo when she was 2nd Lieutenant Charlotte Holder. added 02/14/09.

Ground Views around Korat RTAFB

This is an unusual view of the Connie Flight Line at Korat RTAFB from Korat City. Color, about 100K. My thanks to Rick Dietly for this image. Added 09/11/12.
A view of a Connie Taxiing. Look closely to the right side of the photo and you can see the Thai side of Korat RTAFB, and their North American T-6 Texan trainers, still used by the RTAF in the late 1960's. My thanks to Peter Eastman for this image. Color, about 52K, added 03/03/02.
Here is a view of the Connie Ramp. Color, about 57K. My thanks to David Pipher for this image. Added 02/18/06.
Aircrew on Alert. Aircrews would assemble survival equipment, have a weather and mission briefing, and be at the aircraft 4 hours (later reduced to 3 hours) before scheduled take off time. The aircrew arrived early in case another airplane aborted, that orbit would still be covered because the aircrew waiting would depart early. A lot of the time for aircrews at Korat RTAFB was waiting, and waiting. Color about 61K. My thanks to David Pipher for this image. Added 02/18/06.

A view of the "Tent City" the first arrivals had for accomodations. B&W, about 88K. My thanks to Robin Collord for this image. Added 02/18/06.
Here is a second view of the "Tent City" with Robin Collord and Larry Lees. B&W, about 88K. My thanks to Robin Collord for this image. B&W, about 75K. Added 02/18/06.
Here is the first 554th 554th Squadron headquarters Tent. Early arrivals to Korat RTAFB lived in tents. Construction of permanent buildins was a high priority. B&W, about 161K. My thanks to Paul Redd for this image. Added 06/14/12.
Shown here is the 553rd Reconnaissance Wing Headquarters at Korat RTAFB. Headquarters was considered ultra modern in late 1967 when it was built. Color, about 208K. My thanks to Bill Holbrook for this image. 01/30/00.
Across the street from the 553rd Reconnaissance Wing Headquarters building were sand bag revetments in case of air attack. Color, about 95K. My thanks to Bernie Rattay for this image. Added 09/13/09.
This is a drawing of the inside layout of the 553rd Reconaissance Squadron headquarters building 1920. I found this drawing in one of the official histories of the 553rd Reconnaissance Wing. B&W, about 427K. Added 03/06/15.
Shown here is the 554th Squadron building with Crew Bus in front. To the right of the crew bus is the 553rd Recon Wing Life Support building. This is where parachutes, survival vests, etc., were picked up before each mission. On the far right, the back end of the partially shown crew bus is next to the 553rd Recon Squadron building. In Thailand they drive on the left side of the road, so the steering wheel is on the right. B&W, about 33K. My thanks to Ron Bogota for this image. Added 05/26/00.
Here is 554th Aircraft and Crew Scheduling board. The scheduling board was located in the 554th Reconnaissance Squadron headquarters building. Color, about 113K. Larry Westin photo. Added 08/22/12.

Between the 554th Recon Squadron building, and the 553rd Recon Squadron Building, was Life Support. This is an interior view of the Life Support shop. Left to right Charlie Brown, Bernie Rattay and Spink. Survival vests on left, yellow bags are for life rafts. Color, about 121K. My thanks to Bernie Rattay for this photo. Added 09/13/09.

NOTE a Life Support Equipment Section Shop page was added 06/21/14. Click on Life Support Shop to view more information about the Life Support Shop. Added 06/21/14.

Base Hospital at Korat. B&W, about 50K. Larry Westin photo. Added 06/08/96.
Another view of the Base Hospital. B&W, about 118K. My thanks to Bernie Rattay for this photo. Added 09/13/09.
Inside view of the Base Hospital number 1, and Inside view of the Base Hospital number 2. Both B&W, about 151K and 161K respectively. My thanks to David Smith for these two hospital interior photos. Added 03/09/08.

Korat Base Movie Theater. Note the tin roof. I remember well that anytime it rained, almost every day about 15:00, the noise of the rain hitting the roof would drown out the movie. B&W, about 48K. Larry Westin photo. Added 06/08/96.
Vernie Andricks provided this image of the Nitnoi Theater. Nitnoi in Thai is small in Engllish. B&W, about 153K. Added 09/29/08,
Danny Hildebrand provided this image of the 388th Civil Engineering Squadron compound was located near the Nitnoi threater. Building numbers 341-343-344-345-353 and 354. Color, about 607K. Added 12/23/14.
Enlisted Chow Hall at Korat. B&W, about 60K. Larry Westin photo. Added 06/08/96.
Mel Sholl inside the Enlisted Chow Hall at Korat. B&W, about 70K. My thanks to David Smith for this image. Added 08/19/07.
George Thompson inside the Flight Kitchen at Korat. The flight kitchen and chow hall were two separate facilities. On base personnel ate at the chow hall. On missions an aircrewmember went to the flight kitchen to pick up in flight meals. B&W, about 70K. My thanks to David Smith for this image. Added 08/19/07.
Base Post Office at Korat. B&W, about 59K. Larry Westin photo. Added 06/08/96.
Base eXchange at Korat. Many items, such as cameras, required a ration card to purchase. B&W, about 43K. Larry Westin photo. Added 06/08/96.
Transportation to the city of Korat was via Two Baht Bus. B&W, about51K. Larry Westin photo. Added 06/08/96.
David Pipher sent me this color image of a two Baht Bus. It appears this view was taken from the top (second) floor of the barracks. Color about 66K. Added 02/18/06.
Brent Morris sent me these 3 views of the hobby shop recording studio. Inside of the recording studio - view 1, and also another view of the Inside of the recording studio - view 2, showing Airman Pertignani, and a third view of the Inside of the recording studio - view 3. I spent a lot of time in the recording studio myself. Notice these are reel to reel tape recorders, the standard in the 1960's before the days of 8 track or cassette tapes. Each of the 3 images between 34K and 39K. Added 06/06/06.
The Korat MARS station, which is short for Military Affiliate Radio System and Amatuer Radio Program. Color, about 152K. My thanks to Tom Sandelin, son of Batcat Thomas EdwardbSandelin for sending this image. Added 04/01/12.
The Korat Beauty Salon and Barber Shop. My thanks to Tom Sandelin, son of Batcat Thomas Edward Sandelin for sending this image. Color, about 129K. Added 04/01/12.

Airmen, NCO and Officer Living Quarters

One end of the enlisted Barracks, 554th on the left, 553rd on the right. B&W, about 51K. Larry Westin photo. Added 06/08/96.
A veiw inside one of the enlisted barracks. Although each floor was totally open, the lockers were arranged so 4 airmen (two bunk beds) had a resemblence of a room. Color, about 22K. My thanks to David Pipher photo. Added 03/18/06.
Another veiw of a different enlisted barracks interior. The floors were totally open, the lockers arranged so 4 airmen (two bunk beds) had a resemblence of privacy. about 99K. My thanks to Tom Stear photo. Added 07/18/12.
Other end of the enlisted Barracks. 553rd barracks on the left, 554th barracks on the right. B&W, about 51K. Larry Westin photo. Added 06/08/96.
View from the second floor of the enlisted Barracks. color about 55K. Image provided by David Pipher. Added Added 02/20/06.
Side view of the EMS Barracks which was located across the street from the Sawdee Club. color about 277K. My thaanks to Robert Gurley for the photo. Added 02/22/13.
"Hootch" girls wash our cloths. USAF agreement with Thailand required local Thai's be employeed. Girls made your bed, washed your cloths, and shined your shoes for a reasonable cost. B&W, about 69K. Larry Westin photo. Added 06/08/96.
Vernie Andricks provided this image of Drying clothes on a line. No dryers at Korat for the Hootch girls. B&W, about 134K. Added 09/29/08.
A view down from the second story of the barracks of Hootch girls putting clothes up to dry. B&W, about 248K. John Anderson photo. Added 06/27/14.
554th Recon Squadron Sign at the end of the 554th barracks. B&W, about 64K. Larry Westin photo. Added 06/08/96.

NCO (E-5 and above) Quarters were not as modern as enlisted. B&W, about 48K. Larry Westin photo. Added 06/08/96.
Danny Hildebrand provided this image of the 388th Civil Engineering Squadron Hootches. Hootch numbers were from 752 to 795. B&W, about 193K. Added 12/23/14.
Interior view of a NCO hootch. Color, about 129K. My thanks to Larry Marbach for this photo. Added 01/18/11.
Additional interior views of a hootch. These two images are of the hootches the 553rd used for the month or so we were stationed at U-Tapao RTAFB. These hootches are virtually identical to those hootches at Korat RTAFB. No glass in the windows, screens only. Here is hootch interior - view 1 and hootch interior - view 2. Note the mosquito net over each bed, with the only personal space a locker. Very basic. B&W, about 89K and 77K respectively. My thanks to Larry Lancaster for these two images. Added 07/25/11.


388th Tactical Fighter Wing
Facilities at Korat RTAFB

The 388th Tactical Fighter Wing (388th TFW) was the primary unit at Korat RTAFB. As a fighter wing the 388th had different needs than did the 553rd Reconnaissance Wing. These are images 388th TFW unique areas at Korat RTAFB.
This is an image of the 388th TFW Missile shop. Color, about 50K. My thanks to John Allen for this image. Added 07/23/14.
Here is a Map of the 388th MMS hootches and 388th TFW Bomb Dump at Korat RTAFB. Note there is also an off base munitions storage area. Color, about 269K. My thanks to John Allen for this information. Added 07/23/14.
Image of the bomb dump with CBUs on the trailer. Color, about 46K. My thanks to John Allen for this image. Added 07/23/14.
Building up MK 82 bombs at the bomb dump. B&W, about 148K. My thanks to John Allen for this image. Added 07/23/14.
Moving bombs from the bomb dump to the flight line to load on the 388th F-105 and F-4E aircraft. B&W, about 50K. My thanks to John Allen for this image. Added 07/23/14.


The Airmens, NCO and Officer Clubs

This is a photograph taken inside the Korat Kaboom Officers Club of the "Big Red" painting which hung behind the bar. Color, about 32K. This image provided by J. J. Smith, Jerry was part of the first deployment from Otis to Korat. Added 12/07/99.

Officer Club "Big Red" Painting Update as shown above in the Korat RTAFB Officer's club. The "Big Red" Painting is now going to the Batcat Museum. When Batcat pilot Lt. Col. Richard Dean McCreary was packing to return to the U.S., some unknown individual removed the painting from the officers club and sneaked it into Lt. Col. McCreary's luggage in early June 1970. Unknowingly Lt. Col. McCreary returned home to the U.S. with the "Big Red" painting. Recently Lt. Col. McCreary's daughter Dadre McCreary found the "Big Red" painting at her father's home. Dadre McCreary presented the painting to Batcat Cliff Jensen who will with his wife Chris Jensen take the painting to the Batcat Museum in Virginia this spring. Here is an image of Dadre McCreary presenting "Big Red" to Cliff Jensen. Our thanks to Dadre McCreary for going out of her way to preserve this painting and deliver it to Cliff Jensen. Color, about 213K, added 01/27/15.

Here is a view of the Outside of the Kaboom Officers Club. Color, about 139K. My thanks to Charlotte Clinger (then 2nd Lt. Charlotte Holder shown in this image in front of the club) for this image. Added 02/14/09.

NCO Club at Korat. B&W, about 45K. My thanks to Mike Yates for this image. Added 12/15/99.
Another view of the NCO Club at Korat. Color, about 232K. My thanks to John Anderson for this image. Added 06/27/14.
NCO Open Mess Menu. Color, about 102K. My thanks to Roy Fretschl for providing the menu so I could photograph it. Be the way the prices are considerably lower than today! Added 06/07/09.
Another view of the outside of the NCO Club at Korat. Color, about 253K. Many assigned to Korat RTAFB purchased bicycles to get around. My thanks to Phillip Cameron for this image. Added 07/26/15.

Enlisted men's club named was originally named the "Sawa Dee Club". The word Sawadee is equivilant to the Hawaiian word Aloha. The equivilant is more accurately a transliteration, rather than a direct translation. Later the Enlisted Club name changed to Swadee. B&W, about 76K. My thanks to Ed Thurston for this image. Added 03/09/08.
"Swadee Club". Note the revised spelling. B&W, about 71K. Larry Westin photo. Added 06/08/96.
To use the facilities of the clubs on base you were required to be a member of the club and keep your dues current. Can't remember what the cost of monthly dues was. Once you paid your dues you received a club card valid for the month. These are images of webmaster Larry Westin's December 1968 Airmans club card for the Swadee Club. Front view of the Swadee Club card. And here is a second view of the Back view of the Swadee Club card. Images are color, about 320K and 196K respectively. Added 02/20/16.
Ron Hanlin sent me this image of an overview of the Swadee Club. Believe this was taken from the upper story of the FMS barracks. Color, about 356K, Added 08/22/12.
Paul Desrosiers sent me this image of the interior of the Swadee Club. Color, about 19K, Added 09/23/99.
Here is a view of the Entrance to the Swadee Club with 2 Hostesses and a Thai Taxi. The Swadee Club was across the street from the FMS barracks. B&W, about 71K. My thanks to Larry Lancaster photo. Added 07/25/11.


Damage from the Tornado which
hit Korat RTAFB in the Spring of 1968

During the spring of 1968, during a severe storm, a tornado hit Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base. This first view shows Damage around the Base Swimming Pool. Second view shows damage to the Hangar Door. Third view shows what remains of a flight line Hot Dog Stand. There was a young Thai woman inside the Hot Dog Stand when the tornado flipped it over. Luckily she wasn't badly hurt, only cuts and bruises! Images are Color, about 66K, 29K, and 65K respectively. My thanks to Peter Eastman for these photos for me to scan. Added 03/25/02.


The Bob Hope USO Shows
At Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand

The images of the Bob Hope USO shows was originally here from 07/05/99, has now moved to it's own page. Click here for the Bob Hope USO page. Moved to it's own page on 10/17/13.
Views of the City of Korat and
the Surrounding Thai Country Side


The images of Korat City shows was originally here from 11/22/99, has now moved to it's own page. Click here for the Korat City page. Moved to it's own page on 05/06/14.

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