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Text Only File with Endnotes: 1,000 Years of O'NOLAN History.
Download: Microsoft Office Word Viewer 2003.
JOHNIE ARZELL NOLEN served in the United States Air Force from 7 July 1948 until 31 July 1968. From 16 September 1952 to 3 February 1954, JOHNIE ARZELL NOLEN was stationed as a Military Firefighter in Japan at FEAMCOM (Far East Air Material Command) Tachikawa Air Base. FEAMCOM and Tachikawa Air Base were divided by the field's runway. Tachikawa and FEAMCOM (Far East Air Material Command) became one Air Base in 1956. In 1977, Tachikawa Air Force Base was returned to Japan and later converted partially into a park.
“On 18 June 1953, the worst air disaster up to that time occurred at Tachikawa Air Base in Japan when an engine fire caused the crash of a C-124 shortly after takeoff, killing all 129 passengers aboard.” (1) JOHNIE ARZELL NOLEN and his military firefighting crew responded to that tragedy and were involved in the collection and disposition of the people killed on that day. A Statement of Military Service and some photographs documenting his early military firefighting career are listed below. Several of the fire trucks pictured were Army fire trucks taken over by the Air Force according to a 2 April 2007 e-mail of Ted Heinbuch, United States Military Fire Apparatus Historian and former U. S. Army Firefighter, Fire Trucks at War.
"Posted Monday, June 29, 1953.
Broken rain clouds hung low over Tachikawa Air Base last week as the EUR-124 Globemaster, biggest of the Air Force's transport craft, lumbered to the end of the runway. Visibility was a safe 2˝ miles, and the 122 Air Force and Army passengers chatted easily as the massive, two-deck plane made a perfect takeoff.
For 60 seconds, the Globemaster bored upwards through the overcast, above the tiny farms and woodlots that fringe the western outskirts of Tokyo. Its destination: Korea. Then at 4:32 p.m., from 1,400 ft., the pilot flashed word that he was in trouble: "ONE ENGINE OUT—RETURNING TO FIELD FOR GCA LANDING."*
For 120 seconds, the rows of servicemen held fast to their seat belts as the plane lurched and swayed towards the air base; some prayed; one boy clutched his rosary. A second engine failed, and the plane began to lose altitude more rapidly. Four miles short of the base, the Globemaster slammed steeply into a watermelon patch, broke up and caught fire, skittering bits of burning metal at a frightened Japanese farmer who stood near by. Most, if not all, of the men were killed on impact, which was so great that many bodies were torn from their boots.
All 122 passengers, returning from five-day R and R (rest and recreation) leave in Japan, and the seven-man crew were dead. It was the worst airplane disaster in history.†
* Ground Controlled Approach (i.e., instrument) Landing.
† Next worst disasters: Dec. 20, 1952: U.S.A. F. Globemaster at Moses Lake, Wash.; 87 killed. March 12, 1950: chartered Avro Tudor airliner at Cardiff, Wales; 80 killed. June 24, 1950: North west Air Lines DC-4 in Lake Michigan: 58 killed.
From the June 29, 1953 issue of TIME magazine." (2)
NOLEN, JOHNIE ARZELL.
Type and character of separation: Honorable Discharge to Retire, 1 August 1968. Retired in the Grade of SSGT (E-5).
* E-mail: 29 May 2011 - Photograph believed to be “Harice Christian aka Hoss or Chris was assigned to the FEAMCOM 6400th Maintenance Group in Japan from Oct 1 1952 to Aug 11 1954. We believe he may have been a member of "The Retrievers" 6401st Field Maintenance Sq. Based on the few stories he shared he traveled between Korea and Japan repairing or salvaging damaged and destroyed aircraft.”
1956 - NOLEN, JOHNIE (MAEM) [MAE?] USAF. Home: 2757 S. Lake Ave. (WPB).
25 July 2007
Hello, Mr or Mrs. Nolen,
I hope you don't mind me writing you. My name is Sidney Earl Goodroe. I live in Macon, GA. My father was Herman Joe Goodroe. He was killed in the plane crash described on your website. The plane crash at Tachikawa Air Force Base. It is to my understanding that the Mr. Nolen on that website was one of the firefighters that arrived on the scene to assist. He seems to have been one of the men who recovered bodies from the crash.
I was only 18 months old when my father was killed on that plane. All these years I have had nothing but the local newspaper clipping and a few personal items of his to take out and remember him by. I was so ecstatic to finally find pictures of the base and, ultimately, the pictures of the crash and the Times article posted on this site.
You don't know what it meant to me to finally be able to actually see this new information about my Dad's death. It is possible that Mr. Nolen was responsible for recovering my fathers remains.
I wish to thank your family for giving me this chance to express my deepest thanks for this man and his efforts in getting my father home to us.
Please, if you would, respond to this e-mail. I would like to ask more questions possibly, or just know that you recieved this heart felt thanks. I will anxiously await your reply.
Thank You, Again
Sidney Earl Goodroe
Thanks for your e-mail. Unfortunately, I know nothing more about this event in my father's life other than what is already posted on my website @ http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~nolenancestry/page11.html. I was not born until four years later and my mother remembers my father writing back home about that days events.
There is a Yahoo Group @ http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TachikawaAirBaseJapan/ for Tachikawa Air Force Base. And you do have to register and sign in to be able to use that particular web site. Thank-you for your kind words, and I am truly sorry you never got to know your father due to this tragic military accident.
My father died in 1986 and retired from the military after twenty years of service. I am certain he responded to numerous tragic events during his time as a Firefighter for the United States Air Force. Again, thank-you for your e-mail. I wish you and your family all the best.
Glenn Allen Nolen
26 July 2007
Thank you for your speedy reply. This website has answered virtually all the questions my mother and I have asked ourselves over 55 years of my life. And to finally have actual pictures of the wreckage posted there, while being a tragedy, has finally given me some insight about the crash itself. I thank you, and shall always honor your fathers memory for his service to his country and on that tragic day.
Sidney Earl Goodroe
The following Tachikawa Airbase photographs appear on this webpage with the permission of Ted Heinbuch, U.S. Military Fire Apparatus Historian.
12 March 2009 e-mail:
I wanted to share with you these photos I found on eBay. They are from Tachikawa Airbase and it looks like they may be from the same period that Johnie served there. I don't have the name of the young airman that appears in the photos.
U.S. Military Fire Apparatus Historian
Former US Army Firefighter
3 December 2010 e-mail: 1953 Tachikawa photographs.
U.S. Military Fire Apparatus Historian
Army Fire Fighting Platoon Historian
Former US Army Firefighter
1. C-124 Globemaster II @ http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/aircraft/c-124.htm.
2. Time Magazine @ http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,889723,00.html.
Here are my websites:
1,000 YEARS OF O'NOLAN HISTORY IN IRELAND & THE NEW WORLD: MICHAEL O'NOLAN, COUNTY GALWAY - 1473, (ESTIMATED BIRTH: 1410-1440) AND THE DESCENDANTS OF DONELL OGE O'NOLLOGHAN (O'NOLAN) & JULIAN FALLON OF GALWAY - 1500, DONELL OGE O’HOLOGHAN (O’NOLAN) OWNER OF QWAROWN BROWN (CARROWBROWNE) CASTLE - 1574, TOMHAS O'H-UALLACHAIN (THOMAS NOLAN) & AGNES MARTIN, BALLINROBE CASTLE, MAYO COUNTY IRELAND - PRIOR TO 1585 THOMAS NOLAN RESIDED AT "THE CREVAGHE" (CREAGH CASTLE) PURCHASING ENNISCRONE CASTLE IN COUNTY SLIGO AFTER 1597 DYING 18 JUNE 1628; JOHN NOLAN & FAMILY ATTACKED AND FORCEFULLY EVICTED FROM ENNISCRONE CASTLE, 1641-42; JOHN NOWLIN LIVING IN ISLE OF WIGHT COUNTY, VIRGINIA, 1643; THOMAS NOLIN (NOLUN) OF JAMES CITY COUNTY, VIRGINIA, 1717; WILLIAM NOWLAND (NOLAND) (NOWLIN) OF GOOCHLAND COUNTY, VIRGINIA, 1740.
O'NOLAN (NOWLAND) (NOLAND) (NOWLEN) (NOWLIN) (NOLUN) (NOLIN) (NOWLING) (NOLEN) CENSUS, DEED, LAND, MARRIAGE, & OBITUARY RECORDS, 195-1990: IRELAND, VIRGINIA, NORTH CAROLINA, TENNESSEE, ALABAMA, ARKANSAS & TEXAS.
Here are some of my favorite websites: