Trumpets Blow for "Vijaya Raja"
A special U.S. Navy C-130 Hercules aircraft from Fleet Logistics Support Squadron Fifty transported Plai Prathupha, a one-and-Quarter-ton load of good will, from Thailand to Sri Lanka international airport of Colombo. The U.S. Government bore the full cost of the mission to transport the gift of the tusker from Thiland to Sri Lanka's Dalada Maligawa.
All the trumpets were blown, as the tusker came to town. When some 1400 kilos of a baby elephant landed on the concrete tarmac of the Katunayake airport, necks craned and the cameras clicked to record that little bit of history.
And history it was. Thailand, or Siam as it was known in the 13th century, had received from this country the gift of Buddhism and that debt was repaid in some measure by the gift of the baby tusker. For Plai Prathupha, the 15 year old jumbo will be groomed to take over the mantle of Maligawa tusker and help keep alive the traditions of Buddhism in Sri Lanka.
|Plane Commander||LCDR Bruce LaGasa|
|Co-Pilot||LT Brad Johnson|
|Co-Pilot||Capt "Super" Snyder|
|Flight Engineer||AEC Ted Jachens|
|Radio Operator||ATC Ron Gates|
|Loadmaster||ABH1 Juan Reyes|
This Special Airlift Mission required hands on particpation by Captain Super Snyder..."I had meetings and phone calls from PACFLT, CINCPACFLT, and met directly with 7th FLT! They were dealing directly with State Department on this evolution!"