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Clyde Alloway was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, attended Chandler High School in Arizona, entered the Air Force in 1953 at Phoenix, and called his home town Portsmouth, New Hampshire (Pease AFB).
Technical Sergeant Alloway was in Vietnam 1965-66 as a flight line crew member on A-1 Douglas Skyraiders, and was again in Southeast Asia when he volunteered as an Illuminator Operator with the 18th Special Operations Squadron in 1969. He died after bailing out over the China Sea off the South Vietnam coast, on June 7, 1970 when his crew’s aircraft was unable to control a runaway propeller on their AC-119.
He was 32 years old.
The mission where Clyde bailed out began as a routine mission to intercept and destroy Viet Cong convoys heading south down the many trails called the Ho Chi Minh trail. However, about 20 minutes into the mission, a runaway propeller occurred and the pilots turned around and headed back to Da Nang Airbase, trying every way to feather the prop. This included all the emergency procedures, including pulling abruptly upward to almost stall the aircraft to try to slow the prop speed, but to no avail. As the crew related their story, the engine appeared to be on fire with a 50 foot trail of sparks as if the gigantic radial engine cylinders were being consumed. The floor was vibrating up and down and trying to walk felt really weird as if they didn’t know when their foot was going to touch. The engine appeared to begin to twist off its engine mounts and all control over the engine was lost. The other reciprocating engine was at max power all this time as were the two small jets but they were still losing altitude (remember the AC-119k was operating at 180 percent over the original designed gross weight) and the pilots struggled to maintain control for a bailout. When Aircraft Commander Warren Kwiecinski gave the signal for bailout, Clyde was prepared and went into action as jumpmaster, clearing the path for crewmembers to get to the rear of the aircraft, and jettisoning the flare launcher.
Pete Chamberlain was on the mission where Clyde was lost and he told this story of their aircraft’s runaway prop and decision to bailout to Clyde’s son, Jeff: “It has been said that ‘Courage is when you are afraid but do it anyway’. Your Dad exemplifies that to me. He knew what was going on and he knew what faced him. He wanted to get back home as much as any man and more than most. But he gathered himself together for every mission and did what had to be done. My last glimpse of him was of him motioning me out the bailout door as I ran by him. I was told he waited for every other crewmember to get out until the pilot got back there and told him to go.
Taking that step out that doorway into a pitch-black night was very hard for me and I thought I hesitated (my mind was going warp speed) – later I was told that I flew past everyone. I was a strong swimmer, had swum that morning in that body of water, knew where I was (fairly close to shore) because I was a navigator and had access to all the nav info at my position. Moreover, I was dumb and thought I was immortal like many immature flyboys. I was still not thinking all that rationally at this time. I was LUCKY. I don’t know what your Dad’s thoughts were but I don’t believe he was a swimmer and it was the blackest night I can ever remember. It took a strong and courageous man to perform as your Dad did under those circumstances.”
Ron Merino, copilot on one of the CH-53 Jolly Green Rescue helicopters trying to recover the bailed out crew, was the last person to talk with Clyde as he was trying to get himself free from the parachute after the bailout. Rich Hay, Copilot on the Mission, tells his story of that bailout in his entry in this book. We may never know everything about Clyde’s death, but Clyde was one of the more senior NCOs on our AC-119s, and his Stinger crewmates remember him as one of our more mature NCOs.
Clyde’s marker is in the San Bruno Military Cemetery just outside San Francisco.
He is survived by his daughter Lynn Pappa, son Jeff Alloway, and brother Jeff.