Bob Graham – Caterpillar Club

Bob GrahamIn November 1964, I was with the 531st TFS. We were deployed to Clark AB in the Philippines from England AFB, Louisiana. I was flying as an IP in the backseat of an F-100F.

On takeoff, we took some groundfire at the end of the runway from what was presumed to be a group of Huk Guerillas. Some rounds hit the generator, fuel tank and a bunch of other stuff resulting in explosions and a massive fire from forward of the wing root down the length of the fuselage. Apparently it was quite a spectacular sight from the ground.

We were over a populated area (the city of Angeles and surrounding villages) so we could not punch off the stores or eject. We managed to get the bird up to a low downwind thinking that we might be able to get it back down on the runway. However, as we turned base, fortunately over a wide open unpopulated area, the flight controls burned through and we ended up ejecting slightly nose down and inverted at about 800 feet.

My chute did not have a chance to fully deploy so I hit pretty hard but, fortunately, in the middle of a narrow stream about four feet deep running through the elephant grass. All in all, it was a tough way to start the day but it could have been a lot worse.

-Bob Graham