Page 480

Page 480 (1968: The Defining Year)

Photo is from the Abel Collection

An Air Force Fairchild C-123K Provider transport
brings in supplies for the Marines at Khe Sanh. This version of the
Provider was equipped with auxiliary jet engines and could land, unload,
and take off in less than one minute.

later died of their wounds. All told, of the 11 persons on board the
aircraft, 8 perished.55

The following day, a North Vietnamese 122mm rocket exploded 15 feet
from an Air Force C-130 which was offloading troops, killing one and
wounding four. Fragments damaged the tail section and the aircraft could
not fly until repaired. On 12 February, enemy gunners once again hit
the transport, which finally departed the next day, sporting 242 new
holes. At this point. General Momyer, the Seventh Air Force commander,
ordered the cessation of Air Force C-130 flights into Khe Sanh. Ten
days later. General Cushman followed suit, issuing the same prohibition
for Marine Corps KC-130s.56

The supply needs of the garrison were too great to be satisfied without
the heavy lift capability of the C-130s. On the average, the defenders
of Khe Sanh consumed or expended 125.6 tons of supplies per day, compared
to Marine Corps planning figures for a force of that size which estimated
a consumption of 131.4 tons per day. Initially, however, the need to
replenish stocks consumed or destroyed, as in the explosion of ASP No.
1, drove the daily requirement up to 235 tons. The combination of weather
and hostile fire prevented the smaller aircraft from flying a sufficient
number of daily sorties to fulfill this requirement.57

To maintain the flow of supplies without landing C-130s, logisticians switched to other methods of employing these aircraft. The most familiar was the simple parachute drop, known officially as the Container Delivery System. The Marines established a drop zone to the west of the combat base, near the 1st Battalion, 9th Marines. C-1 30s parachuted bundles of supplies into this zone to be recovered by the Marines of Company A, 3d Shore Parry Battalion, assisted by working parties from other units and trucks from the 1st Battalion, 13th Marines. The system was largely successful, but occasionally equipment suffered damage through improper packing or heavy bundles crashed into the 1st Battalion, 9th Marines perimeter, destroying bunkers. Some drops drifted into enemy territory, or could not be recovered from the drop zone because of enemy fire.

Page 480 (1968: The Defining Year)