My name is Kristine Blanksma and my father ( CAPTAIN ERLE LAWRENCE BJORKE "THE DUKE" )was 28 years old when he was killed in Khe Sanh, South Vietnam on October 15th, 1967. I was only 3 months old. He had a dream. A dream to fly airplanes. In order to make this a reality he attended college, received his engineer degree and enlisted in the U.S. A. F. Not soon after enlisting he received his shipping orders, 1st stop Tennessee , where he would complete his C130 training, and then Vietnam. My mother was pregnant! After delivering a healthy baby girl, he was able to come home. Three days later he returned to Vietnam. While most kids brag about their family scrapbooks, I only had enough pictures to complete 1 page.
At 0650 hours a C130E aircraft, tail #64-0548 departed for the Marine Base at Khe Sanh to perform a volunteer Emergency Re-supply Mission. The large aircraft otherwise known as The Hercules, was filled with plats of containers that would be air dropped from the back of the plane at a low altitude. The NVA (North Vietnamese) had surrounded Khe Sanh and the only way to supply the men with food, ammunition, sandbags used for protection, and mail was by the USAF C-130's. The 7 men on board were warned of poor weather conditions, however, still volunteered. No one really knows what went wrong. Up until this summer my mother and I knew nothing regarding what happened: sealed documents, sealed military information, and certainly not even a clue as to where to start to look. Thanks to much perseverance and many brave men as of this summer we know now the whole truth. Although at times the information was extremely painful and almost more than I could bare I am very thankful. Jose Munoz was there that day. He heard the crash and was one of about 50 Marines that ran to the airstrip. The nightmares he has still haunt him. He remembers seeing the plane split in half and pieces of the plane scattered on the runway. He can still hear the loud bang from the plane bursting into a bundle of flames. He can vividly remember the men still alive fighting to get out of the tail of the plane. In particular, he describes the co-pilot; not realizing it was my father. His legs were crushed and he was trapped in the cockpit. The Marines tried to help and gave him a gas mask. However, they were unsuccessful. He remembers seeing a man with severe head wounds run back to the plane to try to help the men trapped but he was pulled back for his safety. The co-pilot bowed his head as if praying and was engulfed in flames. Six out of seven heroes were lost that day.
I enjoyed looking at some of the pictures that you posted on the net. I was
wondering if you had the date of the C-130 picture that you took? My dad was
killed in the 10-15-67 crash...and I know they used foam on his plane. My
dads website is www.geocities.com/erlebjorke Someone told me about this website
and I really enjoyed it. Thanks!