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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Close Shave With Death

Readers, I have been trying to convince Lt Col Frank Chong Keng Lay RMAF (R), my former Flight Commander when I was in No 3 Squadron, RMAF Butterworth, to contribute to my blog on his flying experiences. I was his deputy then. Due to work committments, he could not find the time yet to pen his experiences. For your information, he holds the record of being shot the MOST by the communist terrorists (CTs).  Somehow, he seemed to be the favourite of the CTs. Of course, at the expense of 2 lives! I remember very well when a total of 2 Air Rescue escorts from the MSSR (commando) then, were shot dead in his nuri in two separate incidents.

To be frank, those days we seldom talked  about being shot by the CTs in the crewroom. In fact, most of the time we were away flying or on 'detachment' at Kroh. To us, it was routine for the CTs to take pot shots at us. After all, the CTs needed  a big and bulky 'moving target' for their target practices... and Nuri was the most ideal target! All we had to do then, was to submit 'Hazard Report' to be sent to Air HQ and Department of Air Force (DAF), MINDEF. And a copy for the 'Scrap Book'. I was told recently that most of these reports were no longer traceable in No 3 Squadron....a real pity indeed! 

Maybe due to the frustration on reading my posting  entitled "Gallantry Awards Of Malaysia", he wrote his comment below - 'as is where is'. This is actually his second comment on this medal issue. I republished his first comment in "Never Ending Story".     

Chong said...

renHave they, the decision makers researched how the PTU was won? How many PTU winners/award holders; checked their CITATIONS; ONE WAS NOT AWARDED THE PTU FOR FLYING THE NURI BUT FOR GOING ON RESCUE MISSIONS IN HOSTILE TERRAIN, EVEN AFTER COMING HOME WITH TWO HUNDRED BULLET HOLES OR MORE WITH SHATTERED WINDSCREENS AND HAVING TO GO IN AGAIN THE NEXT MORNING TO THE SAME LANDING PAD AS THE CASUALTY WAS STILL TRAPPED IN THE SAME LP KNOWING THAT THE COMMUNIST TERRORISTS WERE STILL WAITING THERE FOR THE RETURNING NURI FOR THEY KNOW THAT THE NURI PILOT AND SQUADRON WILL NOT REST UNTIL THE INFANTRY CASUALTY IS SUCCESSFULLY RESCUED. tHIS IS VERY IMPORTANT AS THE NURI PILOT MUST GET THE JOB DONE LESS THE MORALE OF THE GROUND TROOPS WILL BE SEVERELY AFFECTED THAT THEY WILL NOT GIVE THEIR 110 PERCENT TO THE OPERATIONS AT HAND. tHERE IS NOTHING WORST THAN FOR A COMMANDER ON THE GROUND BE HE A PLATOON COMMANDER, COMPANY COMMANDER OR A BATTALION COMMANDER TO HAVE A DEMORALIZED UNIT BECAUSE HIS WOUNDED COMRADE IS NOT EXTRICATED FOR MEDICAL TREATMENT; IT CAN HAPPEN TO HIM AND BE FACED WITH THE SAME SITUATION AND BE LEFT IN THE BATTLE FRONT UNCARED FOR WHICH IS WHAT I AM FEELING NOW MY PRIME MINISTER, THE EX DEFENCE MINISTER, THINKS MY CONTRIBUTIONS ARE NOT WORTH A SEN ALTHOUGH MY RESCUE MISSION IN THAILAND COST THE GOVERNMENT THOUSANDS OF RINGGIT MALAYSIA AS I HAD TO TAKE OFF AT FIRST LIGHT ESCORTED BY TWO TEBUANS FIGHTER JETS FIRING ROCKETS AND GUNS WHILE ME AND MY CREW RE-ENTERRED THE SAME LP THAT I WAS SHOT THE PREVIOUS DAY .MY CREW AND I SUCCESSFULLY SAVED THE INFANTRYMAN , A SERGEANT WHO WAS SHOT BY THE CTS THE DAY BEFORE, I BELIEVE HE IS STILL IN A POSITION TO CELEBRATE HIS HARI RAYA HOLIDAYS NOW NOT KNOWING WHO PULLED HIM OUT ON THAT FATEFUL DAY. I AM RETIRED NOW AND I BELIEVE THE SERGEANT ALSO IS AND I AM SURE HE HAS A FEW SCARS TO SHOW HIS GRAND CHILDREN AND HIS CONTRIBUTION TO TODAY'S PEACEFUL CONDITION. DURING MY ENTIRE TOUR WITH NO. 3 SQUADRON I WAS INVOLVED IN OPERASI SELAMAT SAWADDEE, DAOYAI MUSNAH1 AND 2, THE NURI FLIGHT WAS SHOT 22 TIMES OR THEREABOUT AND TWO COMMANDO ESCORTS SACRIFICED THEIR LIVES AND THEY BOTH DIED, ON DIFFERENT OCCASIONS SHOT IN THAI TERITORY, ESCORTING ME AND MY CREW. THE NURI CREW WILL ALWAYS GET HIS CASUALTIES OUT AT THE RISK OF THE CREW'S LIVES AND LOSS OF AIRCRAFT. THANKS TO TUHAN ALLAH I DID NOT LOSE ANY AIRCRAFT AND ALWAYS BROUGHT MY CREWS AND HELICOPTERS HOME SAFELY ALTHOUGH I CANNOT QUANTIFY THE COST OF REPAIR TO THE RMAF.

November 1, 2009 11:55 AM

Chong, here is a comment from a footslogger who remembers you....

Butterfly said...

Aaahh, Lt Col.Chong, that rings a loud bell. One heck of a man!He was there everytime we needed him. I recall how he was "stranded"in my gun position when his chopper engine failed. We had to open up a new LP to accomodate a second heli land bring in the "rescue". He spent a few nights with us and of course it was always a pleasure to have another officer to chat with. After that incident, we had the odd flight in to drop off newspapers from the Butterworth mess. It was Lt.Col Chong, saying thank you. I do not see why these brave men in their flying machines are not accorded the same accolade?

 October 19, 2009 3:21 PM
Source: mind NO EVIL

If I may make a suggestion, RMAF museum should trace those Hazard Reports (1977 - 1980) through the good office of the Inspector General, DAF, and exhibit them in the museum. Those were part of RMAF history. Hopefully, those reports are still available in the archive. Otherwise, a piece of RMAF history is gone forever!

To Lt Col Frank Chong Keng Lay RMAF (R), let it be known to you that I truly enjoyed my tour at No 3 Squadron with you as my Flight Commander and appreciate your support. Those were the most fulfilling years of my flying career even operating under hazardous/hostile environments. The Squadron's esprit de corp remained intact during those trying days.

My regards to Anne and members of your family. 

3 comments:

Capt's Longhouse said...

,,,Yes, indeed Lt Col(R)/Capt. Chong Keng Lay is someone very special !. I remember first meeting him when I attended the Mines Warfare Course in PULADA, his men plus himself taught us how to disarmed booby traps (before joining RMAF he was with the Army Engineering Core). I was even invited for lunch at his home and got to know his beautiful family too !.(perhaps convinced him there to join us in the RMAF ! hehe but seriously, he was already very interested in flying then)
,,,Later, he surprised me when he joined us as an aircrew and flew bravely together into the heat of many battles against the CTs without fear or regrets. He as always will be there come rain or shine, with that smile in his face ever ready to serve or rather fly.
,,,Again, after his retirement from the Armed Forces, he joined us in the civil helicopter, 'dog eat dog' environment as an offshore helicopter pilot serving the nation indirectly/directly to nationalise the local helicopter market from being too dependent on foreign pilots that cost an arm and a leg of tax payers money !.
,,,I have lots of time and respect for this guy, he is an example to the rest of young Malaysian and if the nation needs an hero, please don't look too far !. We have got one typical guy here-lah. The real thing, not Hollywood/Bollywood stuff !!.

I rest my case..and my salute to Capt. Chong again !!.

Capt. Shariff UBAN

Anonymous said...

The man who was always eager and ever ready to fly. Anytime anywhere and that is Frankie Chong Keng Lay!!!
Who will ever forget him!!! Nobody except the MAF and RMAF in particular and what happen to RMAF now!!! Rubbish with the kind of leaderships that is $$$EH**E and chicken!!!!
Too many Bollywood stuff in the RMAF and Philistine around.
Hahahahaha Shariff Uban!!! you are right!!!

Capt's Longhouse said...

Guys !

,,,while we awaits Capt. Chong KL to write his, perhaps you might want to know more about late Capt. Choo YB ....ref ;"The nation recognised our sacrifices by conferring bravery awards,,,in 1979; few received posthumously, eg, PGB for the late Capt (U) Choo YB and PTU for the late Lt (U) Chung MT." ????....

,,,YES, indeed the late Capt. Choo YB relief aircrew from 7 Sqn. Kuching before being killed at Ops. Gubir, he was involved with another Thai/M'sia border Ops. with me from 10 Sqn. whereby he volunteered to be the "Dummy" chopper for the CTs to take pot shots at so that we can determine where from the damn CTs were shooting our chopper from !!. Can you ever beat that ?. Talking about sacrifice and bravery and total dedication in defending this beloved country ??..this guy sandbagged his chopper and hovered just to be shot at !! and radio across for me to abseil/winch down the troops accordingly to attack the CTs.
,,,with the Nuri carrying protective sandbags for the 12 x troops on board, my chopper was over weight to hover out of ground effect as such we had to rest her belly on the tree branches, while the troops were abseiled/winched down or else we can't take-off safely or just have to jettison the sand bags in a hurry !.
,,,this technique of flight support were never written anywhere in our SOP as such we kept it to ourselves (o.k. am only now disclosing it ! hehe)but the troops were happy to have these kind of crazy Nuri aircrews that gave them the maximum support beyond the call of duty !.
,,,Indeed, it was Capt. Choo's idea to place his chopper as the target so that we could safely deploy our troops and surround the enemy. That special Ops. was indeed a big success and we brought back a couple of dead CTs as trophy.
,,,Unfortunately a few months later his chopper was shot down at Ops. Gubir and were killed together with everyone onboard.
,,,In fact, we were together that morning at RMAF Butterworth, all three of us,,,meself, Capt Choo and Capt Chung were discussing "When, Where and How" to crash land the chopper in case of being shot down while we were having our morning shower !!. Maybe I will write more about the Ops Gubir flight support whereby 21of our choppers were shot at and Capt. Murad's 139 bullet holes chopper that Capt Choo was supposed to help ferry back was unfortunately in vain on 27th April'76.
,,,Darm the CTS !!..you guys killed my dear buddies..and if any body were to bring Chin Peng back, am still awaiting to settle the score !.. that is/was my last promise to late Capt. Choo & Capt Chung.