Turner, Merle Deane, Lt Col

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Last Rank
Lieutenant Colonel
Last Primary AFSC/MOS
Last AFSC Group
Primary Unit
1967-1967, 315th Air Commando Wing
Service Years
1945 - 1967
Lieutenant Colonel

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Home State
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by MSgt Larry Teboe to remember Turner, Merle Deane (Terry), Lt Col.

If you knew or served with this Airman and have additional information or photos to support this Page, please leave a message for the Page Administrator(s) HERE.
Casualty Info
Home Town
Macon, MO
Last Address
Macon, MO

Casualty Date
Sep 04, 1967
Hostile, Died while Missing
Air Loss, Crash - Land
Lam Dong
Vietnam War
Location of Interment
Woodlawn Cemetery - Macon, Missouri
Wall/Plot Coordinates
25E 112

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Vietnam Veterans Memorial
  2012, Vietnam Veterans Memorial [Verified] - Assoc. Page

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Aviator (Command)

 Unit Assignments
19th Air Commando Squadron315th Air Commando Wing
  1967-1967, 19th Air Commando Squadron
  1967-1967, 315th Air Commando Wing
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1945-1945 World War II/European-African-Middle Eastern Theater
  1950-1951 Korean War/CCF Intervention (1950-51)
  1966-1967 Vietnam Air Offensive Campaign (1966-67)
 My Aircraft/Missiles
B-17 Flying Fortress  B-47 Stratojet  C-123 Provider  
  1943-1945, B-17 Flying Fortress
  1951-1953, B-47 Stratojet
  1967-1967, C-123 Provider
 Other News, Events and Photographs
  Jul 27, 2017, General Photos21
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity

Lt. Col. Turner was the 19th ACS Commander at Tan Son Nhut AB, Viet Nam until his death as aircraft commander in 1967.  He was flying a C-123K and crashed in a severe storm in Lam Dong Province in South Viet Nam on Sept. 4, 1967.

He was killed when the C-123K Provider (#54-0621) in which he was flying went down under hostile fire near Dong Hoi, Lam Dong province on 4 September 1967.

(Some discrepancy, as one source states the aircraft was lost in a fierce storm, crashing on approach to Bao Loc Airstrip).

Crew: Lt. Col. Merle D. Turner, (pilot)
Capt Edward L. Goucher, (co-pilot)
A1C James R. Mayo (loadmaster)

TSgt. Jacklin M. Boatwright (Operation Ranchhand)
MSgt Harold C. Cook (Operation Ranchhand)
Capt William B. Mahone (Operation Ranchhand)
Capt Virgil K. Kelley, Jr. (Operation Ranchhand)

Passengers (all Combat Controllers/CCT with (8th Aerial Port Squadron, 377th Combat Support Group)
MSgt Charles A. Paradise
TSgt Fredrick L. Thrower
A1C Gerard L. J. Gauthier
A1C William E. Jerkins

He has two cemetery markers:

  Lt. Col. Turner was my squadron commander in the 19th Air Commando Squadron. For the few months I knew him Turner was to be the best commander I had in the Air Force. He knew how to get the most from his troops and yet was fair in dealing with us all. Many men died the day Col. Turner flew his last mission and it was a shock for all of us to lose him and other friends.I'm honored to be able to give a final salute to a fine airman.
Posted by: Michael Lafferty, We served together

Harold Lawrence, He was my Sq. Commander in Vietnam. C-123K, 

Hi Doug, Yes I can. Lt. Col Merle Turner was flying a C-123K. He was the commander of the 19th Air Commando Squadron which was stationed at Tan Son Nhut AB, RVN. It was early September 1967. I was the aircraft maintenance officer, a 24 year old new captain at the time. I was in Tokyo on R & R when they were killed. When I returned I heard the aircraft had been spotted on the side of a mountain and was told they were way off course. That is rumor.

I left shortly after that and never saw or heard of the official investigation. The information from the Wall indicates they were shot down and killed as a result. There were two crews on the aircraft and one crewmember was Ed Gaucher, a pilot who had shared a room with me for a couple of months when he first arrived. He and his wife and kids had just finished a tour with the American Embassy in Manila, Philippines. The C-123K was the "Dumpster". Our mission was trash hauling. Troops, paratroopers, bullets, food & supplies outbound and body bags inbound. We had just converted to the K model. It had two J-85 engines added outboard of the twin Pratt& Whitney R2800 recips. The aircraft was surprisingly lively with the jets on but they were used only on takeoff and landing. I flew a number of times on both the B and K models. I enjoyed several flights with Ed, my roomie. He enjoyed the K with the jets on.

We could actually outrun the CH-3 helicopters and wonder of wonders the "Douglas Racer" the C-47 Gooney Bird. Or the DC-3 in civilian terms. Climbing out without the J-85s on was fast and inspired confidence but on approach the aircraft was incredibly slow and vulnerable to ground fire since the jets were turned on but at idle only to be used in a missed approach or go around. I remember green tracers coming up at us, commie ammo. All of us in the cargo compartment would run as far forward as possible and get on the chain box where the tie down chains were stored. The whacks and thumps as the bullets hit the fuselage were unnerving. But when I was there, the VC were poor shots, never leading even a slow plane as was ours, mostly hitting the rear and tail section. When at Westover AFT, MA, we sent a C-123K to the air museum at Wright-Patterson AFB, OH which is named Patches as the most shot up surviving aircraft ever with documentmented over 2,000 hits. It was a solid old bird, but a pal of mine from Travis AFB, CA days, Tom Davies, was flying with the 12th Air Commando Squadron, the "Ranch Hand" C-123 spray birds [Only We Can Prevent Forests.] which had moved from Tan Son Nhut up to Bien Hoa in Dec of 1966.

Several days after returning from R & R in Hawaii and meeting his wife, he was hit with quad mounted 51 caliber guns. We had lunch the day he left for Hawaii. [This is bizarre, but I remember that we both had liverwurst sandwiches. In the middle of the war, the Club had just gotten liverwurst]. He was the left seater, the bullet went up through his left window, through his neck, behind the co-pilots head and out the other side, killing Tom instantly with little damage to the airplane. If you pick up any additional info, please let me know. I went to the memorial service held for them there at the base chapel but rotated back stateside very shortly there after. I'd like to know more about it myself. My memories of Cool Turner are fond ones although he wasn't fond of my handlebar mustache. He counseled me several times about traffic tickets on my motorcycle there on the base. He forced me to sell it declaring that I had the record number of tickets and the only one ever given for riding my bike in the Post Office to check mail. [It was raining and I was an experienced bike rider and could manage the steps up easily]. I retired two years ago from the 403d Air Wing, here at Keesler AFB, MS. After my 6 years active, I spent 28 in the Reserve with a substantial time with the C-123B & K. 
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