One from the CIA..Earthquake McGoon




 
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May 14th, 2004  
Mark Conley
 
 

Topic: One from the CIA..Earthquake McGoon


Some really strange stories about the pilots that flew for the CIA are out there. Some are still classified of course. Some are no longer in the dark realm of secrecy. One such story is about a legend among these pilots, described as usually the most unusual pilot of them all. His name was James B. McGovern, otherwise known among his peers as “Earthquake McGoon”

James McGovern, 31, a 260-pound former World War II fighter ace from Elizabeth, New Jersey, was part of the China Air Transport formed by former Flying Tigers that delivered supplies and such to groups supported by the CIA. It was while working in Indo-china during the China civil conflict in 1949 that McGovern got his nickname. A saloon owner in China nicknamed McGovern "Earthquake McGoon" after a hulking hillbilly character in the popular "L'il Abner" comic strip, which McGovern resembled...Sort of. McGovern often had difficulty pulling the stick or control yoke back far enough to land or take off rapidly… because his stomach stuck out so far that it interfered with the action.

One of the stories that come from this legend was during his shoot down and capture by the Chinese Communists in 1949. After being rounded up by the group, McGovern decided he had nothing to lose, and demanded that if the group wanted him, they would have to carry him because he wasn’t going to take another step. So taking a chance, he immediately sat down, and would not move another inch.

His captors could have shot him. Instead they built him a hammock type chair strung between a pole, and started off with him. After a walk of about 4-5 miles, the captors that had been switching off to carry him had enough. Cutting his bonds, they motioned for him to go away and leave them alone. Luckily, he was picked up by a nationalist patrol, and returned to CAT alive.

McGovern was one of the few CAT pilots that volunteered his services to re-supply by air the ill-fated French garrison at Dien Bien Phu. On the next to the last day of the battle, His aircraft was struck by ground fire, and after flying almost 60 miles into Laos, crashed. McGovern and his co-pilot were both killed. It has often been said that these two pilots were the first American casualties of the Viet Nam War.

The complete news story about finding the crash site and possibly his body can be found at the following link:

http://www.air-america.org/newspaper...s/mcgoon.shtml
May 14th, 2004  
Redneck
 
 
Wow, sounds like quite a character.
May 15th, 2004  
Darkmb101
 
Amazing
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June 6th, 2004  
Marksman
 
 
Sad but funny though
December 27th, 2004  
rotc boy
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Redneck
Wow, sounds like quite a character.
you can say that again 8)
June 1st, 2005  
Starscream
 

Topic: Re: One from the CIA..Earthquake McGoon


Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Conley
One of the stories that come from this legend was during his shoot down and capture by the Chinese Communists in 1949. After being rounded up by the group, McGovern decided he had nothing to lose, and demanded that if the group wanted him, they would have to carry him because he wasn’t going to take another step. So taking a chance, he immediately sat down, and would not move another inch.

His captors could have shot him. Instead they built him a hammock type chair strung between a pole, and started off with him. After a walk of about 4-5 miles, the captors that had been switching off to carry him had enough. Cutting his bonds, they motioned for him to go away and leave them alone. Luckily, he was picked up by a nationalist patrol, and returned to CAT alive.

l
I read about this guy recently in Christopher Robbin's book "Air America", and he sounds like an amazing character!

Apparently, Earthquake McGoon refused to bail out of a plane.......
According to the book, "Earthquake McGoon had solemnly informed his colleges that whatever the circumstances he would never bail out. 'I'd only have to walk', he grumbled. For a massive man, he had tiny delicate feet, and his favourite footgear was a pair of moccasins, unlaces and slit across the toes for added comfort. So, when on a routine cargo mission in a C-46, together with a Chinese co-pilot and radio operator, bad winds forced him off course he did not bail out. For nine hours he flew searing for an alternative airfield and at midnight radioed that he was running out of gas. He kept flying until he spotted a dry riverbed and bellied the plane onto it's gravelled bottom, directly into a patrol of Red soldiers.

McGoon and his crew were marched an gunpoint along a steep trail towards a mountain village, but after a couple of hundred yards he sat down on the floor and began to massage his feet. The soldiers threatened to shoot him but he did not move. 'Go ahead' said McGoon peevishly'. I'd rather be shot then walk any further on these feet of mine.'
The Chinese realised that their prize catch was not going to moved by threats and commandeered a horse from a neighboring farm. McGoon was loaded onto it and the procession moved into a village where, together with his Chinese colleges, he was flung into jail......"

"The first concrete news came when the two Chinese crew members escaped through enemy lines. They had been thrown with McGoon into a tiny cell with a single barred window. He managed to pull the bars apart enough to allow the Chinese to slip out, although his own bulk would not have squeezed through the entire window.

McGoon made a terrible prisoner. Feeding him posed a logistical problem for his captors. Jail rations were just not enough, and the guards offered him their own food in an attempt to still his bull-like roaring between meals. His beard grew thick and long and he saved his wine allotment for one long binge on his birthday when he quaffed it all and burst out of his cell like a beserk gorilla and smashed up the prison furniture . Attempts to indoctrinate him misfired. Every night there was a period of political education when his captors attempted to convince him that they were sincere friends of the oppressed peoples of Asia. 'If Communism is so honest,' McGoon countered, 'how come some b**tard stole my razor?' Similarly, he challenged their argument that they were liberators. 'Prove it by turning me loose.'

And they did. McGoon was taken to the border, given five dollars and shoved across with a sigh of relief. Nobody recognised the considerably slimmer and bearded McGoon when he pushed his way to the bar at Gingle's and boomed 'Set them up, I've got half a year's thirst!'
He had been missing exactly 6 months."
August 9th, 2007  
Team Infidel
 
 
wow.. quite a character
March 24th, 2009  
tomtom22
 
 
WOW!
Interesting couple of stories.
March 24th, 2009  
AB_Shorts_Momma
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tomtom22
WOW!
Interesting couple of stories.
I'm with you on that one!
March 26th, 2009  
Sevens
 
 
Very interesting.