Stories Letters and Documents

Everyone who was in Vietnam had different experiences and perspectives about the war in Vietnam, the Army, the indigenous population, and daily living. Because of this, almost every event is remembered differently by each person. The purpose of this page is to provide a to place and examine those recollections. It is also a place where family members and friends of those who did not survive can read first hand accounts of the events that were part of the daily lives of those for whom they mourn.

There is a Story Index, Letter Index, and a Document Index that gives a hint about the subject matter for the listing. There is also a Glossary for those who are not familiar with the acronymns, terminology, and slang used by aviators and servicemen in Vietnam. The Story section also includes articles from Army Reporter, Pacific Stars & Stripes, The Falcon, other news publications. The Document section is for interesting military documents.


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And This is No Shit!
Index of Stories
Story #1 is about an unsecured UH-1 cargo door that fell off during flight in 1970. Contributed by Henry Lipscomb.

Story #2 is about Jerry Penny. Jerry served in the 176th AHC during 1970 and was killed in an auto accident on April 27, 1981.

Story #3 is about the Bob Hope U.S.O. Christmas show, Da Nang, South Viet Nam Dec. 24, 1970. Clayton Jeter

Story #4 The One and Only Time I Forgot my Chicken Plate, April 7, 1970. Contributed by John Longstreet, MM X-Ray.

Story #5 Incident Report involving UH-1H 17458 flown by Philip Richard with Rick Phillips' memories of the incident and other information about Philip Richard.

Story #6 The aftermath of Typhoon Hester which blew through Chu Lai in October 1971. Contributed by Craig 'Thor' Thoricht.

Story #7 Article From Southern Cross Vol 2, No.9 Chu Lai, Vietnam April 27, 1969- 21 Impact Awards for 176th Chopper Rescue. Contributed by Jerry Herman.
Story #7.1 Crew Member Saw the Light - Addendum Story About the 21 Impact Awards for 176th Chopper Rescue. Contributed by Philip S. Lee.

Story #8 An F-4 Phantom Shoots Up The Manor. Contributed by Ralph Liening.
Story #8.1 Amplification to Story #8. Otherwise known as Let's get the hell out of here, it's MIGs. Contributed by Ed Covill.
Story #8.2 Addendum to Story #8. Navy F8 Crusader Strafes Minuteman Manor. Contributed by Philip S. Lee.

Story #9 A War Story "TINS" about Mike 'Pick' Pickles contributed by John Longstreet.

Story #10 Have You Released Our Bird? Story contributed by Hank Anthony.

Story #11 This story is about a series of "Prairie Fire" missions that took place in August 1970. Story contributed by Rick Reavill and Steve Clark.

Story #12 The Stories Behind The Disconnected Pitch Tube. These two stories were contributed independently by Ed Covill and Tom Herrington.

Story #13 They Don't Monkey Around -An article from "The Army Reporter", Sept. 30, 1967. Contributed by Les Hines, ADVA Historian.

Story #14 Aviator Flies Beaucoup Hours. Article about CW2 Albert C. Cerullo from "The Falcon", December 22, 1968. Article contributed by Les Hines, ADVA Historian.

Story #15 New LZ:"Minuteman" Article about the naming of an LZ by the 5/46 Infantry for the 176th AHC "Minutemen." from "The Falcon", March 18, 1969. Article contributed by Les Hines, ADVA Historian.

Story #16 Change Of Command At The 176th from "The Falcon", February 2, 1969. Article contributed by Les Hines, ADVA Historian.

Story #17 A Day In The Life Of A Check Pilot. Contributed by Don West. Don was a 176th IP (and a good one) during 1970-71.

Story #18 A story about some major monkey business in a dark latrine. Story contributed by Ken Garrett.

Story #19 A story about on of the Kingsmen who visited the Manor and his memories of the beach. Story contributed by Dennis Kreish

Story #20 A collection of stories about life in the 176th AHC in 1968-69. A C-130 crash at Chu Lai West in December 1968 and other information contributed by Mike Parris.

Story #21 Wreckage Of Dreams contributed by Brian Lambie.

Story #22 Another Day in the Life of a Musket. A story about a one of those Special Forces missions that "didn't happen" when there were "no U.S. ground forces in Laos."

Story #23 15 May 1967 - Reds Down 6 Copters - a Stars & Stripes news article, a recollection from Roland Scheck, and orders for the Award of the Distinguished Flying Cross. All are descriptions of action that ended Roland Scheck's Vietnam tour with the 176th AHC because of wounds resulting in the amputation of his leg. Information contributed by Roland Scheck.

Story #24 Memorable Combat Experience - A story about 15 May 1967 contributed by Donald E.Long. Anyone reading this story who ever flew in this area in later years should immediately recognize the description of how to get to the river valley called "Chump Valley" in this story. It was never a "Happy Valley" unless you were happy to get the hell out of it. The door gunner mentioned in this story as being severly wounded is Roland Sheck. Several individuals mentioned in this story received awards for bravery. The documentation is ongoing, but so far it is known that Major Charles Kettles (view image of award) and Chief Warrant Officer Raymond R. Secrest received the Distinguished Service Cross and Captain Don Long and Warrant Officer Ron Roy received the Silver Star. It is believed that PFC Washington and SP4 Hawley were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. Also, it has been reported that Bob Bodo, not mentioned in the story also received a Silver Star in this action.

Story #25 Phoenix (Rising From My Ashes)- A very personal story about the effects combat during the 15 May 1967 extraction in "Chump Valley" written by Dave Roblyer. Dave Roblyer was awarded the Purple Heart and the Silver Star for his part in this action. That day, Dave Robyler was AC, William C. "Chuck" Wilcher was pilot, Francis O'Marion Mack (died after tour) was crew chief, a person called "Bones" was gunner. The ship was UH-1D 65-10061.

Story #26 A 1967 news article from The Screaming Eagle September 6, 1967 contributed by Hank Anthony.
Log Over 600 Sorties in 24 Hours Brigade Served and Saved by Flying 'Minutemen' By SP4 Dan Stroebel.

Story #27 Red Gunners Bag 5 Helos in 1 Day- Pacific Stars & Stripes Wednesday, April 22, 1970 furnished by Les Hines, ADVA Vietnam Historian.

Story #28 U.S. Loses 27 Helos In Week- Pacific Stars & Stripes article from Sunday, April 26, 1970 furnished by Les Hines, ADVA Vietnam Historian.

Story #29 Pacific Stars & Stripes Vol. 26, No. 134 Friday, May 15, 1970 Page 7
Lizard Plaguing 'Services' - Story compliments of Les Hines, ADVA Vietnam historian.

Story #30 Mr. Trunchon's CA, The Falcon, 16 CAG publication- Article provided by Les Hines, ADVA Vietnam historian.

Story #31 A Night Of  Terror, The Falcon, 16 CAG publication- Article provided by Les Hines, ADVA Vietnam historian. Special note: This is an article about the sucessful E&E of WO Frank L. Carson of the 71st AHC. The article omits the entirety of the event that night because although Carson successfully evaded, WO Frank Anton- Firebird 90, Robert Lewis- crew chief, and Jim Pfister- door gunner were all captured and held POW for 5 years. These men were a 71st AHC Firebird gunship crew.

Story #32 176 AHC Birthday, The Falcon, 16 CAG publication- Article provided by Les Hines, ADVA Vietnam historian.

Story #33 Who Needs A Sissy Harness? - A story about a few seconds in the life of a "charlie model gunship" crew chief during a combat assualt. Contributed by Larry Shatto.

Story#34 Truth is Stranger Than Fiction - A story about a very costly maintenance mistake. Contributed by Craig Thoricht.

Story #35 The Milk Run - A war story written by Al Gaither and Dave Sebright including the perspective of the company commander on the ground. Taking place in November 1967, the soldiers and aviators involved in this action would not learn until much later that their actions would affected the enemy's ability to assault the the large American base and the city of Da Nang during the Tet Offensive of 1968.


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Life At The Manor

Story 1 - The following story was contributed by Henry E. Lipscomb. It is a story about an unsecured UH-1 cargo door that fell off during flight in 1970. The story is slightly edited from the original text. Explanations of abbreviations, slang, and terminology can be found near the end of this document.

I was a gunner in First Flight and my CE was J.R. Richmond, who I have located after 28 years. Our bird was 468, Cheap Thrills, which was blown away by Musket rockets while I was on I&I in Sidney. It seems the crash site was a little hot for a recovery party. Well, the Army, as kind as it was, gave Richmond and I a brand new beat to shit slick to carry on our terrorist campaign, which we proudly painted Means To An End on the nose. Mr. Ott was our main AC but we flew with other great pilots such as Spot, Stump, Penny, Dunn, Gross, and Zipperer to mention a few and we flew with some other guys, who the hell is Fat Five.

One day while Richmond is somewhere other than flying, I am DG with AC Spot (Stan Gray), PP Stump (William Bush) and some CE with Blind Faith painted on his flight helmet.

We started the day west of Tam Ky doing RS for the 196th Infantry Brigade in and out of the mountains around FSB Mary Ann, doing the usual low level tricks on the rivers, spooking every parrot in the jungle, and to this point the day had been fairly uneventful.

Spot gets a call that Uncle Sam is in a jam down around LZ Stinson and our presence was most certainly appreciated. We head south and Spot gets Stinson on the push and discovers they have found a NVA training camp with dinks in the open. At the time there are only two ships inbound to Stinson and they were trying to get a gun team up. We make Stinson and they were right. Two ships, no guns and two platoons of grunts looking like they would rather be elsewhere. We were then informed that we would be inserting the grunts with two ships and making as many sorties as required to make the lift. I hoped the genius that made this call wasn't a West Point grad or our country is in for BIG trouble.

Here we go screaming out of Stinson with five grunts on each ship at low level hell trying to make evening chow at the NVA camp. We are probably five minutes out of Stinson when there was a tremendous explosion on our ship. The tail boom swings hard left, I watch five steel pots float gracefully out of the right cargo doorway, and I'm slammed against the transmission wall. I remember thinking we had probably taken a rocket. As I pulled myself up to look down the tail boom, which I thought didn't exist any longer, every thing looked fine, but wait a minute we didn't have a tail rotor! I then informed Spot of our T/R situation, or lack of, and he responded something like "no shit". Meanwhile, Spot And Stump are certainly earning their flight pay while the ship is doing this crazy left swing thing and acts like it wants to invert. From the sounds over the intercom I know we're going to have a hell of a laundry bill.

Thank God for running landings and semi-wet rice paddies. Spot and Stump performed the most beautiful landing I had ever witnessed and we all sucked face with the ground after that. We checked out the ship to find the left cargo door was missing and CE informed us he had left the pin out of door. At this point the grunts wanted to kill this CE slowly but Spot got things cool and informed us he thought the mayday had gotten out.

I grabbed my free 60 and some ammo and asked Stump if he would like to set up a fighting position about 30 meters from ship. Stump grabbed enough ammo that we could have marched to Hanoi, but I wasn't complaining. As we set up behind a rice dike we could hear other ships searching for us. Then suddenly Stump begins to make strange noises of pain and begins to beat himself upon his chest. Stump is now engaged in fierce hand-to-hand battle with NVA ants.

Stump finally makes about 50 kills and we move out to a new fighting position. I'm beginning to wonder if we are going to be located when a Musket breaks the tree-line. Suddenly, his wing man is doing the same and I'm getting a warm fuzzy feeling, but thinking what took them so long. It's uncanny how 15 minutes on the ground can seem like hours. Well, we all made it to the Manor in time for the movie that night and I'll never forget what great pilots Spot and Stump were that day. Thanks a lot guys!

Lessons Learned:
1. Never fly with a guy who has Blind Faith painted on his flight helmet.
2. If you anticipate any hand-to-hand action, hang with Stump.

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Story 2 -This story about Jerry Penny was contributed by Carl Zipperer.
Explanations of abbreviations, slang, and terminology can be found near the end of this document.

Jerry Penny was one of the most unique individuals that I knew in the 176th AHC. His radio call sign was Minuteman 23. Jerry and I were room mates when I first got in-country. He was really p-o'd when I moved into the room. He kept the extra bunk in the room made up so that it always looked as if someone was living in the room with him. When Jerry got back from flying that first day that I moved in, it didn't bother him a bit to ask me to find a bunk somewhere else.

He complained loudly and often about how bad it was to have some FNG in the room, and also used the wall over my bunk for target practice with his case knife. He even practiced with the knife a few times while I occupied the bunk. I was an FNG and he didn't want me in the room. Click here for a picture of that bunk.
You can see Jerry's knife in the wall a couple of feet above and to the right of my flight helmet sitting on the bunk.Click here for a picture of Jerry.

Jerry moved out eventually, after I would not give in. As soon as he moved out, I took over his bunk. His bunk was made out of 6 pallet mattresses stacked on a plywood sheet resting on the edges of three rocket boxes. My bunk was simply a sheet of plywood nailed to a frame on the wall with one pallet mattress on it.

Despite his unwillingness to live in the same room with me, Jerry and I flew together many times and we eventually became close friends. I remember more specific things about flying with Jerry than any other aircraft commander, probably because of the kinds of things that Jerry would do. Anyone who has ever flown with him understands the meaning of that statement. Even when he was scaring me out of my wits, I enjoyed flying with Jerry. We occasionally flew together on flare missions even after I became an aircraft commander.

One day I remember clearly was the first time he decided that I, an FNG, was going to do all of the flying for the day. We had to re-supply a unit of the 1/52 Battalion that was located to the northwest of FSB Stinson. The unit had chopped out a small hover hole in the trees. As was common, when we called the unit to have them identify their location with smoke, the unit notified us that the LZ was cold, but that they had been in contact earlier in the day. I didn't know it at the time, but we were in the area of a sapper training camp.

I began executing a high overhead approach while Jerry cautioned me to keep the cyclic trim set so that it would raise the nose of the chopper if I got hit and let go of the controls. He told me that he had known of this happening. Of course, I had made approaches like this before, but this was my first time to shoot a high overhead into a very small LZ in definite bad guy country. It did nothing to improve my nerves to hear about his previous experience having the other pilot get shot.

I came in high and hot and botched the final approach. I fully expected Jerry to complain loudly, for I deserved it. I almost hoped that he would take over the landing and save it. I had seen a some experienced ACs perform some unbelievable saves to make an LZ and avoid a go-around. But this would not be the case. Jerry just laughed at me and complained about having to fly with FNG's and told me to go-around. Now, not only was I extremely nervous, but I was embarrassed because I was making targets out of the entire crew.

As I aborted my approach and circled around for another one, I anticipated hearing gunfire. I was low and slow and felt totally exposed. The phrase sitting duck took on a new meaning for me. As I came circling around, not yet used to making low level approaches, I didn't see the LZ until it was too late to make a landing. There was no need for Jerry to say go around. I am certain that Jerry knew exactly where the LZ was located. He just sat there rather calmly, laughing at me, talking about FNGs and what I was doing wrong.

As I nosed the aircraft over and began to circle for the third attempt, I was positive that we would get shot up and I would be the cause. Even Max, the gunner, complained about FNG's this time. I didn't miss the third approach. We got in and out of that LZ and never took fire.

For the rest of the day, I had to listen to Jerry and the crew discuss the shortcomings of all FNG's, particularly the one currently in the right seat. But by the end of the day, Jerry had taught me how to save almost any approach that was too steep on final. On previous days, I had seen Jerry do a lot unnerving things in a helicopter. I began to realize on this day that flying with Jerry Penny was always going to be far different than flying with any of the other aircraft commanders.

Jerry flew aircraft #239 most of the time. Even if 239 had a radio problem or some other minor problem, Jerry would prefer to fly 239 rather than take another aircraft. Max, the gunner on aircraft 239 had an extra M-60 and Jerry would fire it out the left window on hot CA's while I did all the flying. I never was sure if he trusted me that well, or just didn't understand that he was mortal. That is how I learned how to fly formation on a CA, and do it with hot 7.62mm brass bouncing off my helmet and falling down my neck.

I flew with many pilots who taught me a lot during the year that I spent in the 176th AHC. Jerry taught me several different things that the others did not. He taught me how to operate at the extreme edge of many of the limitations of the UH1-H. He frequently operated there. Jerry taught me that he feared death a lot less than I did.

Those of us who were fortunate enough to know Jerry Penny miss him. He died due to injuries suffered in an automobile accident in the U.S.

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Story 3 Explanations of abbreviations, slang, and terminology can be found near the end of this document.

The Bob Hope U.S.O. Christmas Show
Da Nang, So. Viet Nam Dec. 24, 1970

I had just been transferred to my new unit (176 AHC.) in Chu-Lai from An Khe by only two weeks perhaps. The members of our company were asked if anyone would be interested in going to Da Nang and seeing the Bob Hope Christmas show. I spoke up and asked to go, and was told that I could. I was surprised on two points. First, I was a new guy in the company and I figured that I would get bumped. I was then surprised, that out of a couple hundred men, only about a dozen of us were interested in going.
Several day elapsed before going on December 24th. We all loaded up in the back of uncovered 2 1/2 ton trucks and rode in a convoy to Da Nang, that was to our north on Highway 1, about 45 miles away. We wore helmets, flak jackets, and carried canteens of water. I remember feeling uneasy about being attacked by a sniper while in route. What a way to go to a concert I thought.
When our convoy arrived, I couldn't believe the amount of G.I.'s and trucks, in fact I wondered if I could find our truck again when the show was over. There were hundreds of olive drab trucks just like ours from all over So. Viet Nam.
I was then surprised at the size of the amphitheater and the amount of servicemen already sitting there, waiting for the show to start.
When we got seated, the theater was only half full, but continued to fill completely in a couple hours. All the while, sitting in the hot sun, baking with no shade, and only a canteen of water and no food.
Our group sat half way back and to the right of the stage. I wondered about a rocket attack. This place would have been a perfect target for a Viet Cong attack.
Soon we were treated to Les Browns' Band, and a helicopter soon brought Bob Hope in, and the show started. I remember him coming out on stage wearing a cap and swinging his golf club. He told lots of jokes, mostly about Viet Nam and life back in the in the world (U.S.). The show was like I figured it would be, after having watched them so many other Christmases on TV.
I had hoped to be entertained by Joey Heatherton, But Ursula Andress was the beauty for 1970. Of the acts we saw, I liked the Ding-a-Lings, which impressed me the most. They looked great, and looked even better when they danced. I only wished that I had a telephoto lens for my camera, and a pair of binoculars. Other acts were Bobbie Martin, Johnny Bench, Lola Falana, The Golddiggers, Gloria Lorring, and Miss World from Grenada. The show lasted a couple of hours, and then we all headed back to the truck, finding it with no problem.
Just as we pulled away, the truck lurched forward very fast and Sp-5 Brian Elliott, sitting next to me, near the tailgate, fell completely over it violently, and landed head first on his helmet on the hard surfaced road. We all couldn't believe that he was not hurt, because he fell from about five feet and didn't get a scratch. He was shaken up a bit though. We helped him in and yelled at the driver to be more careful and took off, back to Chu-Lai.
Other than being scorched all day, and not having anything to eat, it was enjoyable and I wouldn't have missed it for anything. It was a piece of Americana, that I'll never forget, and feel very lucky to have been able to attend.

Clayton L. Jeter

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Story 4 Explanations of abbreviations, slang, and terminology can be found near the end of this document.

The One and Only Time I Forgot my Chicken Plate, April 7, 1970

Well there I was and this is no shit.
My crew chief (Rick Deems) and gunner (John Kerlin of "Kerlin"s Cannons" fame) had already DEROSed, and by the way my A/C was 510. I was not flying that ship however, and I can't remember which one it was,,,,,,,, nor can I remember the crew chief, and as for the gunner, we had just got in several EM from the 1st Inf. Div. and he was one of those on one of his first missions.

During this time we were only allowed to fly 135 hrs in any given 30 day period of time. Well, if you were a normal pilot you were always banging those hours right at the 135 mark and sometimes you went over and would have to take a day or 2 off to get back under the 135 hr thing. I had gotten to about 143 hrs (don't know why I remember that) and was on a few off days.

Cpt. Lorac Craig was the XO at the time. During lunch (which was rare), he had some paperwork that had to be done, so he asked me if I would fly his mission for him that afternoon. Since I was a "2 digit midget" with about 62 days left I was getting pretty picky about what mission to take,,,,,,, well it seems to me that his was one of those "easier" ones like Div Arty support and Jerry Penny was the PP which probably influenced my decision so I told him that I would, but "if I took his bullet I was going to be pissed" (this was in jest but little did I know what was in store).

Since my routine was different (starting at midday), somehow for the first time in Vietnam and during those 1000+ combat hours I forgot to take my chicken plate,,,,,,,,,, I didn't realize this until we were airborne and going on with the mission. Jerry asked me if I wanted to go back and get it but I declined since 1/2 the day was done and we had an "easy mission".

Some how we were supposed to resupply some unit in the "boonies" about 35 clicks NW of Chu Lai and right about 1/4 the way up the mountains that were there,,,,, can't remember the FSB that was fairly close but LZ Hustler was a 1 ship LZ that we had just put some troops in a few days earlier and we were about 10 clicks west of that so we were fairly well getting to the "bad areas". When I found out where we had to go, I made the comment to Jerry that I didn't believe I was going in there without my chicken plate.

Now then (as was normal procedure) when I found out where we were going I made a call on Victor as to the area we were going in and that I would call when I was "back up",,,,,,,,, MM-0 (John Edwards) answered the call since he was in the area,,,,, OK, I was flying cuz the troops were right on a difficult ridge and the wind was pretty screwy and we were heavy. Jerry had his AC orders temporarily taken away (that's another story) so this was another reason. I made my first approach to the area and had them pop smoke when we were on short final. I noticed that we were coming in with a right quartering tail wind, so I broke off the approach and turned left down the ridge to make another attempt. On the second attempt I had them do the same thing only earlier and as we were on short final the wind switched to our tail again, so I broke off the approach and turned to the right this time (you know, never fly the same pattern twice) well just as we had turned to the right all hell broke loose,,,,,,,,,,,,, it was "never ending fire",,,,,,,, I estimated about 35-45 folks shooting at us with small arms,,,,,,,,,, we were taking so many hits that the ship was getting tossed around,,,,, well my first reaction was to dive for the trees,,,,,,,,,, we were about 50-100 ft off the trees,,,,,,,, during this nose down angle all of a sudden my left arm was knocked off the collective and was laying in my lap with the fingers in this grotesque position,,,,,,,,, I actually thought when I saw my arm that I could pick it up and lay it on the console,,,,,,,,,,,, I yelled at Jerry "you got it, I'm hit, I'm hit I'm hit,,,,,,,,, He took the controls and continued diving for the trees,,,,,,,,,,, all this probably lasted about maybe 30 seconds. I really have know idea,,,,, all I know was that I didn't think the fire was ever going to stop.

Well it finally did. I immediately got on the radio, #3 which was VHF, and called MM-0 (John Edwards) who was about 15 clicks away and told him we were hit and going down,,,,, I couldn't believe that taking as many hits as we did that the ship was going to continue to fly,,,,,,,,,,,,,, Immediately after telling MM-0, I switched to "Guard" on #2 UHF, and gave a perfect mayday call, which was answered first by "Helix 6" who said he was on his way followed by the search and rescue unit with the Jolly Greens out of Danang (can't remember their call sign),,,,,,,,, Jerry wanted to know where to go (back to Chu Lai) or to set it right down at first available. I told him to head for Hustler,,,,,,,,,, About this time I looked at the caution panel and couldn't believe that no lights were on,,,,,,,,,,, Well I kind of took stock of the situation and MM-0 had us in sight so I canceled the mayday call and started talking to John,,,,,,, I believe that the only reason that I didn't go into immediate shock was by me getting on the radios and start talking.

Neither one of the gunners got a shot off. I think the gunner got shot in the hand and the C/E got it in the foot. Don't know about the pax that we had on board. Well MM-0 was now flying formation and giving us the once over visually. He wanted to know how much fuel we had cuz we had a steady stream coming out. Our fuel was at 700 lbs. if I remember correctly. Also wanted to know the extent of injuries to C/E cuz we must of had a gallon of red paint in the C/E compartment which was showing red all over the left side of the belly. I still couldn't believe that this ship was going to fly so we went into LZ Hustler.

Jerry landed and moved over as much as he could to let MM-0 land next to us. I remember screaming at him to land the gd thing before it quit running (probably a small over-reaction on my part). Well you see, like I said,,,, MM-0 flew the CC ship and he was flying some O-6 who was checking on his troops on the ground. Normally he would do his high overhead to the area, land and let the colonel out and then take-off again and stay in the area till the whoever was ready to be picked up. Then he would go back in and retrieve the person and continue on his mission. When I gave the mayday call, the colonel was on the ground so John left him there and came to my rescue. He landed and waited for the ground troops at the LZ to patch me up the best they could, then they loaded me on his ship and took me to Chu Lai and the 91st, I think (the one on the beach). Hell he landed and shut the ship down and came inside to see if I was going to live, since by now I was spitting up blood and all that good stuff.

Guess he really got in trouble for abandoning that colonel on the ground,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, found out later that they slung the ship back to the 176th by Chinook,,,,,,,,,,, heard that there were 37 holes in the ship and that one missed the transmission by a millimeter.

Ran into a guy in Alaska who was in the company and he told me that he had an 8x10 glossy of the bullet hole in the windshield (click for pic) taped to his footlocker. Wish I had that picture. (That guy in Alaska who had the picture was Butch Brant, who has since contributed the picture. Click the hypertext above to see the picture.)

I was in the 91st for 10 days then moved to Japan for another 10 days then sent back to the US and finally to Fitzsimmons Hospital in Denver for about 60 days. After release I was sent to Hunter/Stewart, and stayed there till Aug. 6th '72 when I was discharged.

Don Bueche got ahold of me in the mid to late 70's stating that "he had something that I might want." Well, I knew what it was,,, it was the shoulder harness (click for pic) that held my long nose .38 when I was shot,,,,,,,,,,, They cut it off of me at a makeshift LZ that we landed at (Jerry was flying) and it has a perfect image of an AK-47 round exiting my body where the strap goes under your armpit and up the back of your left shoulder. The bullet came in thru the front windshield into my body in the left shoulder and exited between my shoulderblade and armpit. When the bullet came out it was sideways and you can see that perfectly in the strap,,,,,,,,,,,,,, quite the war relic that only I can fully appreciate.

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Story 5 Explanations of abbreviations, slang, and terminology can be found near the end of this document.

The following report describes a tail rotor failure during a mission involving Philip Richard. Minuteman 29.
Accident report- 031045H August 70, UH-1H, 17458, 176th AHC. Aircraft reached 300 feet and 40 knots during take off when the left pedal malfunctioned followed by a loss of tail rotor control. the aircraft commander executed a power descent to 3 feet where he executed a hovering autorotation. The tail rotor stacked bearing retaining nut had backed off.

Rick Phillips who was CE on 458 remembers, "No damage in fact, it was one hell of a great rice paddy landing. We sunk about 2 feet in muck. The paddy was surrounded by hills, he put it into a depression. Because of the muck it took a lot of pulling from the hook to get it loose. I was told later that a month earlier the area was one of the hottest spots in VN."

After Richard Philip left the 176th AHC to fly OH-6s for Div. Arty., he had a very memorable and unusual shot down incident. While flying an O-4 who was acting as artillery observer in support of a unit in contact northeast of FSB Stinson, Richard was asked by the O-4 to descend to tree-top level in an attempt to get a fix on the enemy position. While near the ground, the aircraft came under small arms fire sustaining 27 hits. Philip Richards was struck in the armored chest protector by 6 of the rounds that hit the aircraft. He suffered no serious injuries, but had a very sore chest for several days.

Richard continued flying for Div. Arty. Within weeks after after the shoot down incident, an OH-6 that he was flying had an engine failure on departure from an LZ. Richard attempted a 180 degree autorotation, landed on the toes of the skids, rolled, and burned. He died from burns received immediately following the crash.

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Story 6 Explanations of abbreviations, slang, and terminology can be found near the end of this document.

This story is about events following typhoon Hester in 1971,
As the 176th began to stand down in October 1971, a typhoon named Hester hit Chu Lai and it was a big one. Every hanger on the air base was flattened and all the aircraft that were in those hangers were ruined. Most of the hootches that we lived in were also destroyed. There were sheets of corrugated iron scattered all the way to the Laotian border. All the aircraft that were in the concrete revetments were saved so we were operational once the weather cleared.

One of the funnier stories of my tour came out of that typhoon. As soon as the weather cleared a lot of "Brass" from Danang came and told us that we had to salvage all the spare parts we could and get them to Danang ASAP - with all the paperwork properly filled out in triplicate!

Rumor has it that no sooner did the "Brass" leave than the CO called a meeting and told us to forget "that shit" and we would handle the problem in a different way. According to the rumor, three ships were sent to Danang with orders to appropriate every cargo net they could lay hands on. For the next three nights, every net was loaded to the max, flown out five miles over the South China Sea, and dropped off. The place cleaned up in record time. When the nets finally ran out, they began to bury everything that was left between the runways. That was a good plan except they kept digging up stuff the Marines had buried when they left Chu Lai in 1970. Two F-4 Phantom airframes and a radar set were found, among other things.

It was unbelievable then and even more amazing now.
Craig 'Thor' Thoricht

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Story 7 Explanations of abbreviations, slang, and terminology can be found near the end of this document.
Article from Southern Cross Vol 2, No. 9 Chu Lai, Vietnam April 27, 1969

Americal Division Front Page Headlines

21 Impact Awards for 176th Chopper Rescue

CHU LAI-- Twenty-one medals for valor, more awards than the Americal Division has ever made for a single action, were presented in ceremonies recently at the 176th Aslt. Hel. Co. ramp here.

BG Wallace L. Clement, deputy division commander, made the impact awards to crew members of 6 helicopters involved in a daring rescue mission near Tien Phuoc.

1LT William D. Bristow (Alhambra, Calif.) commander of the 14th Cbt. Avn. Bn. UH-1 slick was finishing a resupply and Medevac mission at 5:55 p.m. Mar. 19 when the drama unfolded.

As the slick emerged from the remote landing zone, heavy automatic weapons fire was directed at the craft. PFC Robert Wilhelm (Tolley, N.C.) and SP4 Boyd Kettle (Durango, Colo.) crew chief and doorgunner respectively, fired back.


Pressing for altitude, the slick lurched, and flames spread quickly through the chopper after several hits.

"We continued firing and tried to land as quickly as possible," said 1LT Bristow. Co-pilot WO1 Paul E. Lent (Richmond Springs, N.Y.) radioed two distress calls.

When the ship touched ground, flames were lapping at the cockpit. The Medevac patient, passengers, and crew evacuated as the ship's fuel cells exploded and the slick became an inferno.

"Darkness was approaching so we checked weapons and ammo," said 1LT Bristow. "We had an M-16 with 35 rounds and a .38-cal pistol with 20 rounds."

Bad Outlook

WO1 Lent's mayday call had been monitored by another aircraft, and two 176th "Musket" gunships and two "Minuteman" slicks were diverted to the crash area.

Meanwhile, MAJ. Ronald C. Metcalf (Hickory, N.C.) 176th CO, left company headquarters in a recovery ship with maintenance and medical personnel aboard.

By 6:30, two gunships and three slicks were orbiting the downed aircraft while enemy gunfire increased. Fire became more intense as the rescue choppers inched toward the scene.

"I didn't think anyone could have survived the crash and fire," said MAJ. Metcalf who told pilot WO1 Jerry W. Herman (Wooster, Ohio) to lead his gunship fire team to look for survivors.

(continued on Page 7)

Several passes over the crash site revealed nothing, and the gunships temporarily left to provide cover for a ground patrol ambushed while attempting to secure the downed ship.


Hope dwindled when a second gunship search also failed, but one commander, WO1 Richard K. McLean (Miami), suddenly saw a flash of light.

"I thought it was just a muzzle flash," said WO1 McLean. "Then I realized it was actually a strobe light."

Far below on his back in the middle of a rice paddy lay WO1 Lent who had crawled from a hedgerow where the downed fliers were hidden 75 meters from the crash site. WO1 Lent flashed 1LT Bristow's strobe at the gunships.

Fast Work

Hearing the conversation about the strobe, WO1 Bruce W. Shaffer (Washington), and WO1 John M. Blair (Spokane), pilot and co-pilot of a slick, volunteered to extract the crash victims.

"We quickly organized the three slicks and gunship team," said MAJ Metcalf, "and WO1 Shaffer began a high overhead approach."

As he descended through the increasing enemy fire, MAJ Metcalf flew his slick like a gunship, and followed WO1 Shaffer to lend cover. WO1 Gary L. Williams (Phoenix, Ariz.) swooped in as MAJ Metcalf's wingman.

As WO1 Shaffer landed, WO1 Lent and SP4 Kattle hustled the other five survivors into the rescue ship. Lent then darted for the chopper amid a hail of bullets and SP4 Kettle followed.

"Rounds were hitting all around me," WO1 Lent said. "I thought I was a goner."

WO1 Shaffer lifted safely as gunships hovered nearby.

Two Silver Stars, 11 Distinguished Flying Crosses, and eight Air Medals with "V" device were presented a week later.

WO1 Shaffer and Blair received the Silver Stars; MAJ Metcalf, WO1 Williams, WO1 McLean, WO1 Herman, and 1LT Bristow received the DFC.


Other DFC winners were SP4 Robert O. Allison (St. Helens, Ore.); SP4 Antonio K. Taylor (New York City); 1LT James D. Horton (Troy, Pa.); WO1 Glen E. Goff (Knightstown, Ind.); WO1 Thomas G. Melin (Clyde Park, Mont.); and WO1 Philip S. Lee (Norfolk).

The Air Medal with "V" went to SP4 Steven R. Cundry (Springfield, Mo.); SP4 Phillip R. Varnum (La Crosse, Wis.); SP5 Lawrence J Silva (San Leandro, Calif.); and SP4 Billy L Parsons (Trona, Calif.).

Also AP4 Richard C. Sear (Akron); SP4 Richard R. Cronover (Levisttown, N.Y.); and SP4 John C. Gruidl (Minneapolis); SP4 Jerry L. Mitchell (Reading Pa.).

(16th IO)
---------------------------------End of Article-----------------------------------------

Story #7.1 Explanations of abbreviations, slang, and terminology can be found near the end of this document.

Crew Member Saw the Light - Addendum Story About the 21 Impact Awards for 176th Chopper Rescue.

Although McClean takes credit for spotting the strobe light the facts are otherwise. The sun was setting but there was still indirect lighting in the valley. The gunner or crew chief sitting in the right rear of the gunship I was in (note I was sitting in the copilot's seat) wore thick glasses. As he stared down into the wreckage area, he picked up the weak strobe light which was being intensifed by the magnification of his glasses. He told us he saw the light. And the AC of the aircraft after a time reconfirmed this fact . Soon everyone saw the light. Keep in mind the sun was setting and it was getting darker on the valley floor.

    McClean was flying trail gunship - but he broke off and started a one aircraft attack - probably what was needed at the time. But the fireteam leader was not impressed and had words with him on the ground after the event. 

    I cannot remember the crew chief or gunner's name and I cannot remember which side the crew chief even sat anymore, but he was definitely on the right as I can remember looking over and staring at him as he made the report. And as usual, he probably did not get the credit due him.

Philip S. Lee

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Story #8 Explanations of abbreviations, slang, and terminology can be found near the end of this document.

F-4 Phantom Shoots Up The Manor

My service date was January 1969 to August 1970. One incident that I think happened in 1969 was a Phantom hit by ground fire and the pilot ended up bailing out over the sea but the plane turned and was heading toward our company while another Phantom was trying to shoot it down with 20mm shells spraying the compound. One dud hit our hooch roof and fell in front of the door. One of the pilots got some shrapnel by the laundry hooch. Anyway, the plane ended up in the ammo dump across the road, luckily the dump didn't go up.
Ralph Liening

Story #8.1 Amplification to Story #8- F-4 Phantom Shoots Up The Manor

As I remember it, the aircraft involved were U. S. Navy Corsair IIs that were departing Chu Lai Main northbound when the lead aircraft got a Fire Warning light and the pilot (I hate calling them "Naval Aviators") elected to take the Nylon Approach. The rest of his perfectly fine airplane, except for the malfunctioning Fire Warning System, continued flying in a broad right hand turn out over the bay with his wingman formulating his plan to save the day! He'll just shoot down the airplane and become a hero.

Meanwhile back at the Manor, your's truly, MM29 in 376 (His Lordships) is hot refueling with my CE, SP-4 Hank Stewart doing the honors and my DG, either SP-4 Chris Campbell or SP-4 Don Ramsey doing the safety watch. or watering the PSP. I don't remember who the PP was but nowadays, I'm lucky if I remember my own name!

My first impression that something was amiss was watching cannon shells going off in the company area immediately followed by the Corsair II rolling inverted and crashing at the north end of the bomb dump.

Not ever seeing our hero, Dead Eye Dick, the wingman, my first thoughts were MIGs. We did have a Hawk Missile Battery just on the north side of the Manor and they weren't in Vietnam to catch the sun! I screamed at Hank and the DG loud enough and probably with a convincing scared look on my face, that both tossed the fuel hose, slid open the cargo door and dove into the aircraft. I pulled pitch, crossed the bomb dump, and quite literally headed for the hills west of Chu Lai, front doors flapping in the breeze, and not known at the moment, trailing fuel cause, yes folks, the fuel cap was sitting on the refueling point, sheared off of it's chain by the opening cargo door. The crew finally gets strapped and plugged in and there is a collective "What the F--ck, Over?" on the ICS. I explained what I saw and all eyeballs are now outside looking for Red-Zoomies. We reached the hills and started slowing down to set up a hover down in the trees between two hills. I'm now on the radio trying to find out what is going on when the DG says on the ICS that we have left a trail of white mist all the way from the Manor to where we are "fixin to hide". "So what the hell are we gonna do now?". About this time the word is getting out from Chu Lai Main Tower that the U.S. Navy had exceeded all of our expectations once again, so we decided to quit spraying JP-4 on the mosquitoes and return to the Manor to find the fuel cap, and while we are there, maybe refuel again.

Ed Covill, Minuteman 29, Musket 38

Note: According to sources, the fast mover that accidentally strafed the Manor was flown by the brother of a Warrant Officer who was assigned to the 176th AHC.


Story #8.2 Addendum to Story #8. Navy F8 Crusader Strafes Minuteman Manor

Excerpt of E-mail note from Philip S. Lee.

Dear Carl,

... the event mentioned in your web site concerning the F8 Crusader strafing the camp. That aircraft was definitely a Navy F8. It flew right over my head with the canopy missing. I ran out of the Enlisted Gun hooch as the 20 millimeter round impacted the camp. At the time of the event, the 101st were living in our area during an operation called Operation Batangan?? south of Chu Lai. One of the slick Pilots who is my boss at present was almost killed in my room when the 20mm impacted the wall. You also might note the 20mm started in the 176th Company shower area blowing the wall down, continued parallel to the beach thru the gun hooch, then parallel the walk way over to Battalion causing senior officers to jump in the muddy estuary and ended up blowing up the movie projector in the Battalion Area. As far as I know no one was injured which I always found amazing...

Philip S. Lee

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Story #9 Explanations of abbreviations, slang, and terminology can be found near the end of this document.

a war story,,,,,,, or,,,, "there i was and this is no shit",,,,,,,,

"pick" got ahold of me one afternoon after the day was done,,,,, he wanted me to fly with him while he picked up either a major or a light colonel over at the fsb due west of chu lai,,,,,,,,, i remember that this guy who we named john wayne, reportedly had a "necklace" of vc ears that he wore,,,,,,,,,, well we landed and here comes the dude with 2 cpts (i believe) with him,,,,,,,,,,,,, they were carrying a couple of boxes and when they got in i noticed that the boxes contained,,,,,,,,, 100mph tape,,,about a dozen grenades,,,, some quart cans of motor oil,,,, and some "willie pete",,,,,,,,,,

we took off and headed north from lz stinson and started trying to find a specific hootch that these guys were very interested in,,,, once we located it the fun began,,,, these guys started taping a grenade to one side of the oil can and the willie pete to the other,,,,, we proceeded to make bombing runs on this hootch at 110 kts and 10 ft off the tree line,,,,,,,,,,,, they kept throwing these damn things out the door as we were on our strafing runs,,,,,,, took them about 4 runs to get the timing right,,,, wasn't a problem as far as we were concerned,,,, they'd pull the pin on the grenade and let er rip out the door at the right moment,,,,, talk about a bombing run,,,,,,,,,,,,, those bombs were just the right strength,,,made a nice little explosion and once it hit the target, it was blown to bits,,,,,, and everything close was set on fire,,,

this "john wayne" used to call us several times a month,,,,, usually the same scenario,,, find a specific target and have some fun,,,, those guys would just sit back there and laugh,,,, they were having a ball,,,,,,,,,,,,, isn't war somethin,,,, if you told that to some one who wasn't there, they'd think we really were "baby killers",,,,,,,

pick just loved doin that stuff,,,, he really was "into" the war,,, i ended up taking his r&r to sydney for him,,,, he didn't want to go,,,, i personally think that he didn't want to miss anything,,,

reminds me of the time ed barthell and i were flying down by my lai,,,,,

well "there i was and this is no shit",,,,,,,,



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Story #10 Explanations of abbreviations, slang, and terminology can be found near the end of this document.
There is one funny story I'd like to tell. It concerns one of the most prolific men I'd ever met, Major Morton. We had an unusually bad week as far as keeping aircraft flying and were forced to borrow a helicopter from another company and they wanted an estimated time the bird would be returned to them. Major Phillips said tell them 1100 hrs, so I relayed that to them. There was a delay and the mission went into plan B. They called back and asked if we had released their bird yet and I replied no, but it would be released shortly. At 1400 hrs they called back and asked if "I" had released their bird yet: now all of a sudden it became my bird. I told them I had not heard from the field for two hours, but as soon as I got word I would call them. Now their calls came every hour, always the same, "did you release our bird yet",. and each time they called the caller's rank increased. It started with a SP4 at 1100 hrs and by 1600 hrs I was talking to a Captain. Captain Woods was standing over my shoulder, and said give yourself a promotion. Don't take their shit, so I became Capt. Hank for a brief time that afternoon, but it took longer than that to live it down.

Finally at 1800 hrs a call came in that their "bird" was shot down and was being lifted out by a hook. I really didn't want to tell them that. I figured by this time I'd be talking to a Colonel or higher, so I waited for Major Phillips to come home. But sure enough they called half an hour later. I think they must have suspected or heard something about it. The next call I got came from a pilot of ours escorting the Chinook carrying the wounded bird home. It seems the cable that was holding up the borrowed bird somehow broke and the Huey fell in the rice paddy below. Major Phillips wasn't there yet but in walks Major Morton just as they called again, asking if we had released their bird yet. The Major said "Tell them we just released it five minutes ago..... from 2000 feet".

Hank Anthony

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Story #11 Explanations of abbreviations, slang, and terminology can be found near the end of this document.

This story is about a series of "Prairie Fire" missions that took place in August 1970. Although it was not commonly known at the time because of their secret nature, these missions were a continuation a long-standing relationship between the 5th Special Forces and the 14th Combat Aviation Battalion, particularly the 176th Aviation Company (Assault Helicopter). At the time that these particular missions occurred, anyone who had previously participated in a Prairie Fire or Oak Circle mission certainly knew the gravity of being assigned to such a mission. However, if you had never participated in one, you had no idea of the concentration of NVA forces and anti-aircraft artillery(AAA) that were across the border in Laos. Only the Air Force, CIA (Air America), and Special Forces operated in Laos and were familiar with the heavy NVA defenses. The only conventional American helicopter units regularly encountering these type of defenses were Marine, Army, and Air Force aviation units operating across the Demilitarized Zone in North Vietnam. It would be six months after these Prairie Fire missions, during Lam Son 719, before hundreds of helicopter aviators would learn about and encounter the concentration of forces and weapons that waited along and across the border between Vietnam and Laos.

I do not claim that this account of those few days in August 1970 is exactly the way that everything happened. The information in this story is based on the best recollection of two individuals who participated in those missions 29 years ago, Rick Reavill and Steve Clark. I am not aware of the existence of and did not have access to any official military documents to support the events in this story. I realize that this is only part of the story about what took place during those last two days. The rest of the story can only be told by other surviving participants. Any other helicopter crew member, Air Force A-l pilot, Air Force forward air controller, or Special Forces member who participated in, or has documentation of the missions that are described in the following story is encouraged to contribute information about what occurred during the missions. If you participated in these particular missions and would like to contribute additional information, please e-mail your information to
Carl Zipperer

Rick Reavill, who wrote his parts of this story while off duty and living on an oil rig in the South China Sea, starts the story with some background:
As a group, by the time of this mission, none of us involved in this action were strangers to special types of operations, specifically, LRRP insertions and extractions in mountains and locations with minimal landing zones (LZs), during night and day with our friendly, rowdy, and now famous neighbors from-up-the-beach in Chu Lai, the 75th Rangers. Philip "Gooch" Richards, aircraft commander ( AC) with Tom Reynolds crew chief (CE) and Dusty (last name unknown) as gunner (0) in the UH-lH named "Proud Mary" along with Jerry Penny, Craig "Max" Maxim and myself flew too many of these missions in aircraft 239 to remember. The chance for up close and personal shoot-outs with angry and motivated North Vietnamese Army(NVA) troops was always an immediate possibility on this type of mission, and several times was a reality.

I remember being praised by two of the Ranger team leaders that we had taken on a pre-insertion recon for a landing zone (LZ). We were very low, flying up an offshoot canyon of Happy Valley when we rounded a kind of dog leg and came upon two NVA (pith helmets and that kind of green khaki) walking along a boulder strewn trail. In a reflex action, I opened up with my M60 machine gun, dropping the man in the lead. The second dove behind a large boulder and attempted to return fire, but I was able to use the rock to his left rear to ricochet my rounds into his back and side. We pulled off and the two Ranger team leaders decided that it wasn't too smart to dismount and go wandering just then, so we returned to their pad down on the beach.

There was much back slapping all around when we landed. These were not my first kills and I had already negotiated that turn from my upbringing. I was able to put it away, and the praise felt good coming from these two world class warriors. As a group, I think those of us pulling the LRRP missions felt that we were getting, nay WERE good at what we were doing. Hell, by the summer of seventy we were flat cocky. when the mission orders came down to report Chu Lai Main for a "real special" mission, my ego had been so stroked I figured the powers that be up there in the ivory tower had finally woke up to fact that they had some real Hard Chargers down there on the beach who were combat proven born killers with steely eyed heroes for pilots.

But we were in for a big surprise. As I recall, we landed out just east of the active runway next to the jet revetments. As we strolled into the hanger area with that well rehearsed cool look, wearing knives and carrying guns, we were met by the flat stares of the Hmong tribesmen mercenaries who we knew as Montagnards. They were not impressed, but we were. They carried a whole lot of guns and wore knives that got put to use. We'd never seen them before, but they'd seen a lot of us. They'd seen us come and they'd seen us go down.

Next we got the briefing from the intelligence types. We filled out a form, stating that we would be entering the "Kingdom Of Laos" on our own accord, so don't blame Uncle Sam. If we discussed the mission with anyone outside the mission, ever, we would be reporting to Leavenworth. Hmmmmm, now this was definitely a job for men of our caliber. Naturally we couldn't wait to get back to the Manor (the 176th Assault Helicopter Company area was known as the Manor) and tell EVERY LIVING SOUL that we have just made the VARSITY.

The first of these Prairie Fire missions went smoothly. They consisted of long flights to Kham Duc, followed by short jabs over the border, dropping and picking up the men of mystery, usually two Americans and four mercenaries. One time, one American, a short, dark-haired green beret, and a Hmong were both dressed in NVA uniforms. It was spooky.

Then the party was most abruptly over. The date of the initial trouble was August 14, 1970. We had previously inserted, I believe, a six man (usual configuration) team of two Americans and four Hmong. The insertion was cold and after waiting the usual period for the team to establish their radio contact we broke for Kham Duc for fuel, then returned to Chu Lai. This was followed by a day hanging around the old Marine jet revetments (was anything American made in RVN really old, or were we just phenomenally young?) eating the rations the Special Forces guys and the Hmong were using. We spent the night at the Manor with no special feelings other than another day gone by. At about 04:00 hrs Sgt. DeDe, our platoon sergeant, rousted us with a blazing flash light to the eyes, his favorite method used to actuate slumbering combatants. Get up you're late already. We hustled out to the aircraft and in short order reported to the hanger that housed the Special Forces Operations people at the Chu Lai Main airport.

Steve Clark describes some of what he remembers from those two days:
We went to the briefing the first morning, I knew this was going to be some kind of John Wayne mission as all the old timers had broken out all the weapons they had stashed under their beds. I recall being given some kind of documents we had to read or sign about the mission and I can't recall what they said. We were given some kind of rescue vests in the event we were shot down. We headed up to Marble Mountain and picked our people up and headed out.

Rick picks up where he left off:
After landing at Chu Lai Main we went inside and were briefed. The team we had inserted had made contact late the previous day. They were on the run and had casualties. We were to pick up a reinforcing team, a ladder system and proceed to Kham Duc, an old French airport and former Special Forces base near the Laotian border. From there, we would refuel and prepare to insert the second team. There was a lot of hustle going on it seemed. In fact we may have gone up to Da Nang, to the Special Forces compound to pick up the second team and ten on to Kham Duc.

Arriving at Kham Duc we are re-briefed. The situation is grim, one American is dead, two Hmong are badly wounded and need to be extracted or they may not survive. The feeling amongst the Minutemen is we've got to get these people out, we always get our people out. To say that the Special Forces people are close to their Hmong mercenaries would be a massive understatement.

The order of the flight of slicks was: Lead insertion bird is aircraft 239, carrying the ladder system and the reinforcement Special Forces team. The crew members on 239 were Jerry Penny- aircraft commander (AC), Steve Clark- pilot (P), Rick Reavill- crew chief (CE), and Walter Ray "Odie"Hall--gunner (G). Chase bird1 was crewed by Marty Ott- AC, Walter Burkhart- , ? Garza- CE, and? Pickett-G. Chase bird2 was commanded by Joe Gross- AC. I do not remember the other crew members on his aircraft. I feel sure that someone else will remember who they were and we can fill in their names in this story. My apologies are offered to anyone whose names I cannot remember. It has been along time and this story needs to be told.

We lifted off from Kham Duc about mid-morning and headed approximately northwest. After the advised flying time, we raised the Air Force forward air controller (FAC) flying the mission and he vectored us to his location. The FAC was working a pair of fixed wing Al Skyraiders. The FAC puts us into an orbit to the east of the LZ at a higher altitude than our usual 1,500' AGL. I commented on this to Jerry and he said it was because of the AAA. Our conversations were clipped and strained. We were very tense. This was not your usual LRRP insertion. There were Al fixed wing fighter-bombers supporting the team on the ground. The Als looked like a World War II news clip, the crunch of their bombs somewhat muted by our distance. They were on a different radio frequency so we missed the conversations, but we could see heavy 12.7 mm automatic weapons fire following them on their pull outs and it didn't appear to be slacking.

We were joined by two AH-lG Cobras. They had bigger and more rocket pods than I'd seen before and also a 20mm Vulcan canon on the left side. Fuel was beginning to concern me. The FAC came up on our frequency as we stretched our orbit out to keep him in sight out the left window (AC's side). He was out of marking smoke and would give us an audible mark on the LZ. He took a run right on top of the trees heading towards the LZ. At the right distance heading east to west he started the count, 10, 9, we could hear the heavy and small arms fire transmitting across his keyed mike, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, the sound was growing to a steady roar, 2, he's really pulling a lot of back pressure to pull the nose level as he skims the top of the LZ. You could hear his engines straining at what must have been lull throttle as well as the incredible volume of weapons fire from individual and crew-served weapons as he says "1, MARK MARK! do you have the LZ in sight?" Jerry rogers in the affirmative, looks back at me, asks me if I have it. I say yeah and he mouths the word FUUUCCK!

The FAC got us set up on the approach. We have one Cobra ahead of us and one Cobra directly behind us. The idea was the Cobras were going to lead and follow us in. As we reach the LZ we will drop out the bottom, pull to a hover, deploy the ladder and drop the team. Fine and dandy on paper. We begin the approach-- Jerry is in his best form. Nobody low levels a UH-1 like Jerry Penny. when the Cobra pilot in the lead tells Jerry to stick to him, Jerry definitely takes it to heart. He tells Steve Clark to stay with him on the controls, be ready to take over. We charge the LZ at as much airspeed 239 is capable of. I am afraid.

Steve relates his memories of the insertion as with the following:
The only thing I recall about the insertion was Jerry telling me to stay on the stick as we flew in. what was going on in back or around me I can not say as I was pretty focused on what was going on in front of me. I remember the weather going to hell on us and not having maps to go anywhere but the way we came in and having the Air Force 02 FAC guiding us north and then into the A Shau Valley or something like that where we landed. I can recall thinking we needed to get those guys out of there and volunteered to go back the next day.

Rick continues with the story:
In the hours prior to arriving in the vicinity I'd had time to psych up for it (this was not my first rodeo and all that other B.S). I realize that I was gripping the fore stock of my M60 like a vise. I thought of my one year old daughter, having only seen her on my leave before coming to Vietnam. I suddenly missed her and asked God to take care of her if I didn't make it. I felt better. We can do this, we must, there is no one else. It boils down to that.

The Cobra swooped up to get into firing position and we were literally on his tail as the Cobra went nose down to fire. We were in a 50 degree (approximate) right hand bank, nose low attitude, and my view of the Cobra was from the mast back. He fired a pair of rockets and the back blast streaked past us. I immediately think, that's too soon! In the next instant I could hear the Special Forces medic/team lead screaming in my headphones "Cease fire! Cease fire! The Cobras are hitting us!" I had a terrible sinking feeling, This is going bad, really bad. We leveled out and the distance to go evaporated. Suddenly there were muzzle flashes all along my side.

Everything I'd learned kicked in. I'm on automatic, shoot the closest ones first, lay down a base of fire , come on 60 don't quit, rockets impact into the tree line from the Cobras, the fire slackens. I worry about "Odie". His gun has fired intermittently, is he okay? We are over the hole in the trees that constitutes the LZ. "Odie"and I are both talking Jerry to it. Attaboy "Odie", don't shout, stay cool, it helps me get a grip.

We hovered down, and I checked and saw the ladder roll out the right door. The Special Forces Master sergeant literally threw his men out the door. We were about 60 ft above the jungle floor, our skids at tree-top level. He followed in an instant and I think FEARLESS! Looking down I saw the Special Forces medic weakly waving for us to come lower, to hover down and get them out. I told Jerry, but he remained coldly professional. Gone is the boisterous prankster. He was staying with the game plan, totally focused. The LZ must be enlarged.

Steve was weathering the storm. With the troops off the ladder Jerry added power for takeoff. Steve seemed cool and detached as he called out the torque gauge readings. I felt the thunk, thunk of airframe hits. Shit! "Odie" was calling Jerry up, "Come on up. Coming up."

The fire started back up from seven o'clock. I opened up on it, Odie called us clear of the trees, Jerry rolled the nose over and we moved ahead. There was kind of a bang-pfft and my 60 stopped. The round just fired failed to eject, the link feeder picked it up another live round and the bolt shoved it into the expended casing, firing the live round. Double feed! This blew off the extractor from the bolt, and it along with the remaining brass from the live round flew into my right arm pit (many crew chiefs and gunners in the 176th used free guns in the slicks) There was a thirty-caliber machine gun firing at us from down slope to the west. Jerry later told me it was so loud he didn't realize my weapon was down and he mistook the NVA's fire for mine. I went into fumbalideze trying to unlimber my M16, and finally got off one magazine basically into empty jungle.

We picked up air speed and I found Odie in an epic struggle with the ladder. I joined him on the cargo floor and together we tried to pull this contraption back inside. Well, they roll up on the ground just peachy. Try that in a 120 knot wind with mad gooners shooting at you. When we had it shortened up to about 30 ft, it started to wave up by the tail rotor. That's all we needed. I plugged my helmet cord back in and told Jerry to SLOW DOWN! He pulled way back and we finally got it in. Odie and I just fell in a heap, gulping for air. With the team inserted, we returned to Kham Duc. By the time we arrived there, all the aircraft were flying on fumes.

After arriving at Kham Duc, it seems like we just basically refueled. Don't know how information was passed to us when we were on the ground there. However when we got the information, we got our orders to return to Chu Lai. The Air Force would be providing the TAC Air necessary for the team's survival overnight. As we took off for Chu Lai, I think we were all relieved to be back over the familiar terrain of South Viet Nam. I believe I was so relieved that I may have fallen asleep. After the rattle and shake of the adrenalin we were plum tuckered out! All you old time vets please forgive my slide from vigilance here.

Steve relates his opinion of the days results:
I think we didn't expect what we (U.S. forces) encountered on that first day and if we could have, we would have pulled those guys out that day. Unfortunately, we were not able to do that and that is why we headed back the next day. These guys were not going to accomplish anything except staying alive with the contact they were in.

Rick continues with the story:
Upon arriving at the Manor, we all shut down and the crews kind of milled around sharing thoughts on the day and comparing notes, so to speak. One thing stood out. We had gotten the team in, by god, and we would get them both out! The airframe mechanic from the Blacksmiths (maintenance platoon) showed up. As he got started repairing the bullet damage to the tail boom and cargo area roof (none structural) Jerry insisted I go to the Battalion dispensary. I replied that it was too piddley, but he said "Go". I went, got a tetanus shot, a band aid and some Darvon. I threw the Darvon in Charlie Brown Creek. The EM club had better stuff for that sort of thing.

Returning to the aircraft, I found some of my fellow crew chiefs had already pitched in and were helping out the airframe guy The air frame guy was a short, dark-haired guy from Seattle, Washington who was quiet but very friendly. He and I had arrived in-country together and left on the same freedom bird out of Cam Ranh Bay. He had worked every day all year except for one R&R. He had put up with rocket attacks, heat, dust, and broken birds night and day without one bitch. When we left for home, I remember he wouldn't wear the Army Commendation Medal he had received at the end of his tour. He didn't think he deserved it. Hopefully he'll read this and we can straighten him out on that score. After we had finished up fixing the aircraft, I reneged on the beer I'd promised everybody so we could try to get some rest.

About this time gunner Craig "Max" Maxim approached me and drew me to one side. It's been my experience that true brothers tend to argue strongly when they are concerned for the other's well -being, Max argued that he should replace Odie due to his being pretty green. Max and I could read each other like a book by this time and I admitted that he may be right. However, call it combat intuition/superstition or whatever, I turned down the offer. I did mention the offer to Odie. He stopped, turned to me and said, "Rick, I've got to go, I've got to be there when we get them out."

We retired to the hootch. There we worked on the M60 machine guns. Going over the day again, I asked Odie if his gun had jammed or misfired, as I'd only heard him get off a couple of bursts. He calmly replied no, he'd only actually SEEN a couple of NVA in the open. He had, however, seen a strange sight. It looked to him to be flashbulbs, like a whole lot of people taking our picture. Well, we got that straight in a hurry, making it clear that we were not in the least bit famous and there was no one in Laos who wanted a signed 8x10 glossy of our sorry asses. It was, however, our JOB to KILL EVERY SON OF A BITCH MEMBER OF THE NORTH VIETNAMESE ARMY OUT THERE OLD ENOUGH TO DIE!

It was also relayed to me that a couple of Musket crew chiefs, (gun ship platoon) I believe it was Rocky Wells and Jessup, had volunteered their services as gunners. My friend Walter Ray "Odie" Hall would prove himself to be more than adequate to the task the following day. He would be instrumental in the recovery of the wounded Special Forces troops and the crew of Marty Ott's shot down helicopter.

As we sat around chattering in the post mission let down, Jerry Penny, our AC, stopped in, pulled up an ammo can seat, and shared a can of coke. We spoke of the mission and all the usual things. He seemed ill at ease. Relationships between members of a regular flight crews were always pretty relaxed. We could always speak fight out without too many inhibitions. I asked Jerry what was up. He came out with the fact that he was up on his flight hours for the month and that Gordon "Butch" Sears was scheduled to be our AC for the mission the next morning, which was rapidly approaching. Some background here is appropriate. Read the story on this web page about Capt. John Longstreet's damn near shoot down and wounding. He wasn't scheduled to fly that day either. What I referred to earlier as combat intuition/superstition has a base right there in that story. After flying months of combat missions, pilots and crew members subconsciously fall into patterns of behavior that they may or may not recognize. I had some personal rules, I never flew as an extra gun, ever. If you were on the mission board, you flew, if you weren't on the board and you flew, it could be bad karma baby. We knew the struggle Jerry was going through, the three of us just kind of sat there taking turns looking at each other. Odie finally piped up and said "Hey, Butch is cool. We'll be fine." With that, Jerry left to go crash and we never discussed it again, but I could tell it bothered him. I had no problem with his decision then and I don't now.

I finally rolled up in my poncho liner about 01:30 hours August 15th 1970. It would be a big day, the results of which would reverberate all the way to the Paris Peace talks. As wrung out as I was, sleep was elusive. I couldn't shake the vision of the Special Forces medic laying sprawled in the LZ clutching at his mangled legs with one band and trying to wave us down with the other while laying beside the body of his comrade. I couldn't forget the sound of his voice after the Cobras' rockets exploded right on the edge of the LZ as he was pleading for us to come lower so they could get out of that hell hole, which at that very moment was being blasted and strafed by Air Force tactical aircraft to keep the encroaching NVA at bay. Before I could dream, it was time to go.

Odie and I arrived at the aircraft in time to see Steve Clark, the same pilot we'd had the day before, finishing his walk-around pre-flight. ALL RIGHT! Three quarters of the team still good to go! Butch showed up shortly. To say that we thought highly of Butch wouldn't even come close. He WAS cool. I'd been on innumerable combat assaults and LRRP insertions and extractions with Butch and I'd never seen him sweat. He was always calm and very smooth on the controls. He didn't have the razzle dazzle style that Jerry possessed, but I had no doubt in his ability to pull us through what was promising to be a very tight spot.

Before Odie and I had gone out to the aircraft we had gone to the bunker between the 2nd Flight Platoon hootches and perused the illicit weaponry there. We had, as a group, amassed plenty of what we all considered essential to combat operations, and plenty of what wasn't. There were even a couple of Communist made rocket propelled grenade launchers with the grenades. I figured they might be awkward if not flat dangerous to fire from the helicopter. That morning along with our usual load of two M60s complete with 2,800 rounds of linked ammo each and our individual M16 rifles with 18 magazines of 18 rounds, or 324 bullets, Odie and I hung smoke grenades on the seat pole just ahead of our bench seats in our gunnels (the passenger seats had, of course, been removed) and stuffed fragmentation grenades in our ammo boxes and under our seats. We carried along lull canteens with spares.

We were outfitted with our chicken plates (body armor) and had dug around for extra butt plates (armored seat pads) as well. And we had adjusted the extraction harness (basically a parachute-type harness) to fit something we had been lax about previously. Butch commented that "Gee you guys are taking this pretty seriously, looks like you're loaded for BEAR." Odie said, "WE ARE."

I asked Butch if he had bullets enough for the big .45 automatic he always wore right in front of his crotch even when not seated in the aircraft. He always joked that those puny little .38s weren't large enough to cover the territory. He kind of grinned until he realized I wasn't joking at all. We boarded the aircraft and swung around the pattern to the familiar landing spot for the Special Forces hanger area. We went in to be briefed (this is very early morning- 0:dark thirty). Some Special Forces guys mission loaded the birds while we were inside. Arriving back at the aircraft, I was concerned to find the ladder system has been loaded on my bird. This bothered me A LOT. It was not just because after the previous day's experience that I had a tremendous urge to never see one of the friggin things again. It was also because this denoted us as a chase bird for the one actually going into the LZ. This was a last minute change and definitely rubbed me the wrong way. Maybe that's why actual combat (as opposed to the zoomin-around, shootin-guns fill' kind) never really agreed with me. You had to stay flexible, not my most solid trait. But what's done is done and we are going to be the chase bird.

Marty Ott, Wally Burkhart, Garza, and Pickett would be in the first extraction bird, with 239- Butch Sears, Steve Clark, Rick Reavill and Odie Hall first chase bird. Joe Gross would pilot the second extraction bird with his crew. I believe this is where the Rattler bird (71st Assault Helicopter Company) makes its appearance, as second chase bird. Two of this Rattler bird's crew would never return from Laos.

Before boarding our helicopter, we are joined by a Special Forces Medic and a Special Forces Colonel! Now looking back, from the vantage point of years and the seasoning of a small portion of maturity, I realize that this Colonel was undoubtably a consummate warrior who was highly skilled in special ops/small unit tactics etc., and had a very high stake, i.e. his people on the ground, in this mission. However, at the ripe old age of 19 whatever tact I could muster was invariably masked by a severe case of chronic smart ass. I assumed that our two add-on pacs had overlooked the obvious. "Say SIR, you know if this bird is put to it's intended use, that is picking up the crew of the bird we're chasm, when they get shot down, plus whoever else they're lucky enough to get on board, it's going to get real FUCKIN CROWDED in here not including any extra individuals we have to take along." He looks at me for half a second and says "Crank It. " I'm not sure how he means that, but it's readily apparent that he and the Medic will accompany us. Fair enough. The Colonel is carrying the Car-15 (a carbine similar to an M16) I wind up using later that day. We lifted off and followed the now familiar route to Kham Duc, performed the ritual refuel, then continued on to the battleground.

It was still early morning when we arrived in the vicinity. With the dawn, the NVA had renewed their assaults on the beleaguered teams. Bravo Tango, the Air Force FAC has the Al Skyraiders working out and dropping their bombs danger close to the LZ. At one point I heard the Master sergeant that we had inserted yesterday, whose call sign was One Zero, shouting on FM radio. "GOOD! GOOD! YOU'RE KILLING 'EM NOW, THEY'RE CHOPPIN' GOD DAMN WOOD NOW!" I'd heard from the G Co. Rangers that you could tell when you put the hurt on the enemy because they'd be chopping tree limbs for litters for their wounded. No matter what is said about the North Vietnamese, they were as professionally opposed to leaving their dead and wounded as we were.

Now it's time to extract. The approach route for Marty Ott and crew will be the same as the previous day with a Cobra lead and a Cobra trail. Butch will take us in 239 roughly astern of the trailing Cobra at his 5 o'clock position (right rear quarter). This position enables us to view Marty all the way to the LZ and then we move into a racetrack pattern that we can stretch out as need be in order to be on time to pick him up as he comes out. We are on a westerly heading and then turn abruptly right to the final approach. We are well behind the trail Cobra, but hauling ass. Odie gets reintroduced to his photographer buddies. He gives them a very warm greeting to be sure, one continuous burst from the first flash he sees until we turn right (east). This brings the friendlies on to his side of the aircraft, he shuts his M60 down. I see no direct fire on my side but fire on likely looking defenses and tree line. I shut my M60 down as we near the LZ. My view of Marty is unobstructed. It is a chilling view as we sweep past. Marty has just flared to a stop and is hovering down into the trees. The tree tops are blowing back but the LZ is still incredibly small-- there's no way he'll make it. I think, please God help him, Garza and Pickett. They are both leaned out of the helicopter going hot and talking Marty down.

We broke night and started around again. As we traveled away, the sound of firing dropped and we were out of it. It shouldn't take long but we had no way of knowing the depth of hell our fellow Minutemen were in. We later learned that Garza spent his time outside the helicopter in the LZ running around picking up and carrying the wounded aboard. He is wounded by gunfire during this endeavor but carries on, boards the aircraft and continues to fire his M60 in defense of his pilots and aircraft.

Our first word (I have no idea how long they were down in there, but a half century sounds about right) was when Marty keyed his mike, barely audible over the roar of gunfire, he simply says, "Comin' Out." We do an abrupt 180 degree turn and re-enter the approach from a little different angle, although trying to fool the gooners at this juncture is a rather moot point. We are greeted by a terrifying sight, the tops of the trees have sucked BACK IN! as soon as Marty pulled power. The main rotor looks like a giant rotary mower, the blades visibly slowing. Just when it looks like all is lost HE'S FREE! JESUS!

Okay here we go. We angle away from Marty, still keeping him in sight until he builds air speed and then close on him. What we see is a mess. The wounded are in a heap in the cargo area and Garza is slumped but manning the fire extinguisher. We do a pass underneath to check out the severity of the damage. It is obvious that the chin bubbles and cockpit plexiglass are shot out. In addition, Odie and I are treated to a JP-4 (fuel) shower mixed with a large quantity of hydraulic fluid. We are at approximately 1,500 to 2,000 feet above ground level in high mountains, over a solid cloud deck. The strain of the moment is unreal as we continue to perform our jobs. This is no time to break down into the 'woe is us' mode. It is out of our hands, our friends are going to go down. Marty is the extract bird and has done his job. We are the chase bird and now we are going to do ours.

We continued heading east in an attempt to reach the comparative safety of the border. After an undeterminable length of time, we came to a break in the clouds. It was a hard fought salvation. We followed Marty on his right wing as he descended through the cloud cover, he informed us that his hydraulics are totally out. It took Marty and Wally on the controls to fly the machine. And they were not sure how long the engine would keep running.

We entered a long narrow valley. As we got lower, I realized I was looking at cultivated fields of corn. This was bad. When inside Vietnam, way out in the boondocks you come across crops and no people, h meant the people using the crops didn't want to be observed. When they were observed, those being observed felt a strong need to kill the observers. We needed to get in and get out rapidly.

Marty and Wally flew a fairly straight course to a small knob hill pretty much in the center of this valley. Things were looking pretty good until the flare. It steepened drastically and the aircraft began to settle with a considerable amount forward airspeed. The tail made contact first. The aircraft bounded up violently until the main rotor contacted the ground. In one motion the main rotor blades flew off; the top of the main transmission exploded, the fuselage snap-spun 90 degrees right and the aircraft impacted to a crashing halt on the left side, folding the left skid underneath. The body of the aircraft rocked back upright. Wounded were thrown everywhere.

This is where time sped up for me rather than slowing down. As we overfly the crash at about 15' altitude above it, I look down and see Marty Ott slumped over the controls. Now, you guys may recall, I don't know if it was written or just accepted policy that at a crash sight the crew chief of the recovery aircraft would dismount and assist in removing radios (the holy grail of which being the KY-28 encoding radio) and provide whatever assistance the crew chief of the downed aircraft might need. This has been on my mind since we left the LZ. I knew Garza was wounded and now it appears Marty is also, and we gotta GET OUT OF HERE!

In some kind of spasm, the squirrels inside me break loose all at once. I judge the speed and height of my not-yet hovering helicopter to be satisfactory. I jump. This becomes my first lesson in non-parachute-equipped bomb trajectory. My entrance to the scene takes place somewhat east of my planned arrival spot, at a lower altitude, and with considerably more airspeed. It is an unglamourous feet, butt, head son of arrival, best replicated on WWF Wrestling. The Medic and Colonel later undoubtably laughed their asses off over that one. By the time I get back to where I'm supposed to be, said Colonel and Medic are efficiently loading wounded. I come face to face with Marty, standing fully erect outside the aircraft. He had actually been busy collecting his maps out of the chin bubble when I saw him "slumped over". He looks at me kind of baffled and said "Where've you been?" I don't reply.

Butch is hovering as low as he can-- there is no room to land on this small hilltop. The crash uses it all up. We help Garza and Pickett to my bird. Somehow we get them up and they kind of pile up m my gunnel. They are both shocky and appear stunned. Unfortunately, they are sitting on top of my M60 and microphone cord. Wally Burkhart has been boarded by the Special Forces guys along with the other wounded. As the Special Forces guys help carry him with an arm around each of their necks, Wally appears to be grinning. I can't tell if its a grimace from the pain or if he's just been knocked slap- happy from the tremendous impact of the crash. Marty and I turn our attention to the crashed UH-! H. I retrieve the VHF radio from the right rear.

As I'm working at that, Odie opens up with a long burst into the tree line bordering the base of the low hills to our south. This causes me to take a look around. Is that movement I see to the north, or the squirrels again? This causes the "Where's your M16, numb nuts?" question to come up. We gotta get out of here. I rip around the front of the crash and fling the low value VHF radio into the hovering helicopter. I believe Marty got the KY-28 out. Marty then draws his .38 and starts putting the radios in the console out of their misery, one shot at a time. I've got a better idea, I pull Garza's M60 out of the wreckage, yell at Marty to "Git Back" and prepare to do real battle with the radio stack. Three rounds and the M60 jams. With the shrapnel that thing was blowing off, I'm damn lucky Marty didn't get hurt. Marty makes kind of a 'screw it' wave with his left hand, holsters the .38. Fine by me pardner, we got to GET OUT OF HERE! I throw Garza's M60 back where I'd found it (so much for depriving the enemy, hey, we were in a hurry!)

We get to the helicopter still hovering over our heads. Marty and I face each other, then we each interlace our fingers and stoop over to give the other a foot up. Seeing this, we drop our hands in unison and raise one foot. This is ridiculous, we both just jump up and clamber aboard. Marty pulls himself into a ball facing outward on the cargo floor next to Garza in my gunnel There is literally no more room. I'm forced to stand bent over just behind Steve Clark, who is flying in the left seat. Butch had Steve flying from that side because Steve was about to make aircraft commander. I'm straddling the leg of one of the wounded Hmong, which is encased in one of those blowup plastic splints, I can see the femur, he has 4 morphine syrettes stuck in his collar and the leg reeks of gangrene. Every time I try to move to a better position he screams in agony. I stop. Damn! I can't talk on the intercom so I lean over and give Butch the thumbs up, we begin taking fire from 9 o'clock, literally at my "rear". Steve Clark is on the controls. Butch appears to be very calmly talking on the radio and to Steve like he's sitting back at the Manor or something. I finally see the Colonel's Car-15 piled amongst all the other gear. I grab it, pushing my helmet against the cabin roof to steady myself, and trying not to point it directly at anyone in the cram packed cabin, rack back the charging handle. Okay, now we are not nude.

Steve coaxes the grossly overloaded aircraft through translational lift. Looking over my right shoulder I catch a glimpse of movement, then the underbrush below us literally explodes with AK47 and .30 caliber RPD machine gun fire. Instinctively, I flinch. Buffeted by the wind, I manage to switch the Car-l 5 off safe, but not all the way around to full auto, and answer this fusillade with single shots, tracers to boot (lighter, don't hit as hard). At this point I think we are past fear and on to some new plateau. It's been a long day. I feel foolishly helpless. They are going to shoot us down. Suddenly there is a tremendous series of explosions directly on the NVA's positions. THE COBRAS! I guess they had previously gone after Joe Gross and his crew and had now returned to give us cover. Sorry Joe, I got caught up telling our end of it.

After Marty came out of the LZ, it was Joe's turn. He suffered the same fate as Marty. I forgot to mention that the last thing we heard from Joe as we followed Marty, was that he had smoke in the cockpit and was going down west of the LZ. If it were not for those Cobras, we would have definitely not pulled any of this off.

Steve relates how he remembers the extraction:
I remember Joe getting shot down and flying overhead as he was getting picked up. I remember taking fire unlike anything I had experienced before. We had Cobras on station and those old WW2 looking fighter planes. I recall following Ott. He had taken some rounds in the fuel cell and fuel was pouring out like some kind of faucet had been turned on. The idea was to head west and get in some kind of friendly territory if that was possible. I think his hydraulics were also gone. As we headed east the terrain became more mountainous and there was no level spot for him to put down. He lined up with a small hill and drove her in. At first glance everything looked as though it was going to go well but as they made contact the aircraft flipped. I can remember everybody standing on top of the aircraft as we picked them up. As we lifted out of there I could swear I saw a puff of smoke in front of us in the air but at that point I was so scared the clouds could have looked like and-aircraft fire.

Rick continues with his story:
he ride to Kham Duc entailed trying not to move and flapping in the breeze. Oh yeah, the Colonel jerked the Car-l5 out of my hand as soon as we were clear of the enemy fire. I think he was afraid I'd drop it. We were hardly elated when we reach Kham Duc, but felt as though we had accomplished something very positive. One more lift out and we would have a successful rescue pulled off. A medivac Huey from Chu Lai took the wounded team members and our friends away.

At Kham Duc, Butch and Steve were in one of the commo bunkers somewhere we assume, keeping up with the score. After checking out our helicopter we found one bullet graze on the avionics door in the nose, one 30 caliber size hole at a 45 degree angle up through the gunners gun mount, and one through the left side horizontal stabilizer. The main and tail rotor blades were OK. We were so lucky it was spooky. We plopped down and practiced what soldiers have been doing since day one on this orb. We waited.

After asking Odie about the firing on his side during the extraction at the crash sight, he stated that he fired at two individuals moving from west to east along a narrow trail partially obscured by brush, one of whom dropped from sight and the other retreated to the west. This would indicate to me that they were moving towards the group that engaged us with heavy automatic weapons fire as we took off to the east. Man I loved this guy. Two days of this crap and he's a no hesitatin' combat veteran! With the stress off at least for a while, we fell into that dreamless sleep of men in combat. The kind you can fall into instantly as a refuge from what's going on around you, and you're guaranteed no rest from.

We awoke stiff and gravel eyed from the sound of Butch and Steve strapping into their seats. We got our gear back on as Butch told us the news. The Air Force had been really laying it on the enemy and this is it. We will be the last train out of town. The Rattler bird becomes Nat 3, we are Nat 4. That means the Rattler crew will extract, we will chase. I wonder about that. Are we drawing friggin straws or what? We've been in and over the LZ more than any of the other chopper crews. How come we're not extracting? My mouth for once stayed shut. I seemed to have found a new sense of tactfulness. We lifted off and the sense of impending doom was so familiar now that I felt as though I would never lose it. In fact there are days now 29 years since that I know I never have. We are flying in a loose staggered right formation. I waved at the Rattler door gunner. He gave me the thumbs up and I flash him the "peace sign". He grinned broadly and nodded up and down vigorously. One more time, Lord just one more time. I didn't know the gunner's name then, but I now know that his name was Peter Schmidt and the pilot in the right seat was 1st Lt. James Becker.

Like any thing dreaded we were there very soon. The FAC with call sign Bravo Tango is still working (I can't recall the call sign of the other FAC that relieved Bravo Tango for his fuel breaks). We can now plainly see the brown smoky scar of the LZ. High frees still stand to the north along the spine of the ridge, which runs north west to south east, the LZ being just at the military crest of the ridge line. There's no need for a smoke mark, lets just get it over with. We are on a common radio frequency with Bravo Tango and the team leader on the ground whose call sign is One Zero. The Al Skyraiders are still on another frequency. Bravo Tango informs One Zero that we are about to begin our approach to which One Zero shouts "You promised me Jolly Greens! You promised!" (Jolly's being Air Force CH-53 rescue helicopters that were much heavier armed than our Hueys). I feel stung but fully understand. Bravo Tango soothes him telling him he'll be out in just a minute, "Just hold on buddy." One Zero's voice is raw. He sounds like what he is, a man who has survived 30 hours of constant, barely survivable combat. He has rescued his comrades, loaded them on a helicopter to safety, stayed behind and continued to fight on so that his team, his five Hmong warriors can also be pulled to safety. It is a desperate situation now and we are his last hope.

We are as a group yearning for this to be over. Bravo Tango wastes no time setting us up on the approach. For what ever reason we lack the Cobras this time. We follow Nat 3 in and watch as he comes to a hover. The only trees to worry about are at his twelve o'clock, dead ahead. It looks good. The constant pounding is having the desired effect on the NVA. That's right, we're back and you little NVA bastards had better keep your heads down if you want to keep em. We roll around for the down wind leg of the race track.

Suddenly we hear One Zero yelling "He dropped a ladder! He dropped the fucking ladder! What the HELL? Bravo Tango tells them to "Get on It" A moment later he screams, clearly out of control "He's crashing!" static -- CRASHED! CRASHED! MY TEAM!

We are shocked and stunned. Our crew intercom erupts.. Oh NO! Oh Jesus CHRIST NO! NOT NOW! Was it me that said those words? I don't know, I just remember the words. We wrench around and Butch asks if I can see the wreckage. All I can see is just the trees. It is like the helicopter was swallowed whole, totally devoured. Bravo Tango attempts the impossible, to console One Zero and get him focused back on getting out. We stand by in orbit to the east. We are numb, distraught, horrified, grief-stricken. No one emotion stands out long enough to grab on to. It is an utter disaster.

I can't remember whether we made a fuel run and returned or if we went right in to pick up the downed helicopter crew and surviving Special Forces. My memory just fast cuts to the final approach. It is eerily quiet as we make a nearly flat run to the LZ. With no trees to worry about now we hover down the last few feet. As soon as Butch touched the toes of the skids to the slope, the men stumbled aboard helped by the Master sergeant. On board are the Rattler aircraft commander, who was Nat 3, his face a blood mask, and his crew chief who is not only in pain and shock, but in an agony of the mind that no one should ever be forced to live with. They were the only two who had been able to get out of the aircraft. The aircraft had crashed on it's right side, the side with the ladder, the side with the pilot and gunner who were unable to get out. The Special Forces Master sergeant just sat stoically in the cargo compartment, a figure of abject exhaustion.

There are only two men from the 71st Assault Helicopter Company aircraft going home today. We lift off and head east with neither Odie nor I firing a shot. It is over. The sergeant turned to me and I raised my visor so we could look at each other directly. The look in his eye's still haunts me, he is trembling, he says above the roar of the wind,"My team is dead." With my right hand on his shoulder I try to tell him we tried our best. He wept openly.

In memory of those Special Forces who gave their lives and were left in Laos on August 15, 1970, who remain unknown to us. In memory of those aviators who gave their lives and were left in Laos on August 15, 1970.

1st Lt. James Becker 26 years old Killed In Action - Body Not Recovered
August 15th 1970 Panel 8W Row 113

Sp/4 Peter Schmidt 20 years old Killed In Action - Body Not Recovered
August 15th 1970 Panel 8W Row 115

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Story #12 Explanations of abbreviations, slang, and terminology can be found near the end of this document.

Ed Covill's Story behind Disconnected Pitch Tube

Near sunset the Primary Team was scrambled for a heavy contact mission down near one of the OPs vicinity of Stinson; I think the OP (note: either OP 1 or OP George) near the Son Tra Bong. I was flying FTL of the Primary. When we got there, we were greeted by a full fledged firefight and our support was helping but the dinks were not about to break contact yet. I got a radio message back to the Manor to scramble the Secondary Team and also the flareship as it was starting to get dark. It seemed that the dinks were not going to go away without a couple of more doses of Musket persuasion or for that matter anybody else that wanted to join in. I established contact with the Secondary Team and briefed them in on the situation. We broke for home upon expending and passed the Secondary (now primary) on the way back to the Manor. They said that the flareship had to be loaded yet and would probably fly out with you after you refueled and rearmed. I said okay and I would brief them on the ramp and you guys can update us when we come back out.

Meanwhile back at the ramp - The designated flareship usually was assigned at the end of the day after a maintenance determination of available aircraft. The assigned aircrew would then preflight, runup the aircraft and move it to the flare revetment for loading. If memory serves me correctly, this is what happened except upon shutdown for loading the AC (I can picture him but I don't remember his name) had asked maintenance to check the play in the scissors assembly as it seemed real sloppy.

At that time the Secondary scramble had not happened yet. The crew left the aircraft for whatever reason and maintenance came out, inspected the scissors assembly, found it out of limits and removed it. No entry was made in the logbook. When the Secondary Team was scrambled and it looked like we were going to need the flareship already, the Flareship Crew returned to load with flares in preparation to go out with my team after I rearmed. The AC did check the logbook, found no new entries and planned to start as soon as the flares were loaded.

As I came up the ramp after refueling, the flareship was already running in the revetment. We pulled into rearm and I instructed my PP to brief in the Flareship Crew while we rearm and also have him give me a commo check on Uniform and Fox Mike. (Sorry Guys, I don't remember his name either but if he surfaces, HE WILL TELL you about!) My PP was standing on the right skid toe briefing the AC (a lot of ACs preferred right seat for the flare mission in case of inadvertent IMC) when one blade went to full pitch. The aircraft jumped about 10 feet in the air and then came down. It repeated that cycle a few more times while starting to spin in the revetment. My PP had a bird's eye view of all of this when he was thrown off. He got up and ran towards the armament storage berm and stated later that the vertical fin passed him as he dove over the berm.

If I recall correctly, nobody was hurt by this incident, but a few shorts had to get some serious laundering!

Ed Covill, Minuteman 29, Musket 38


Tom Herrington's Account of the Disconnected Pitch Tube

I believe the photos of the UH-1H with the missing tail boom was designated to be the flare ship sometime in early January, 1970. The aircraft was loaded with flares, and had already been pre-flighted ( the crews gear, helmets, chicken plates etc were aboard ).

Someone from maintenance came out and disconnected the push pull tubes from the swash plate to the head, without making the proper entry in the aircraft log. While this/those unknown person(s) were away from the aircraft a scramble was called.

When the crew got to the bird it was dark, and since they had already pre-flighted they strapped in and began to crank. WO Mike " Purple Seal " Fuson, fire team lead for the escort flight was standing on the skid briefing the slick AC when the aircraft began to self destruct.

Needless to say pieces of Huey flew all over he ramp with some parts being thrown over the berm and into the ammo dump. Somehow no one was hurt and no other aircraft were damaged. I was attending the movie at Battalion when I heard the crash of the rotor impacting the tail boom.

Tom " Bone " Herrington, Musket 35 69'-70'

Click HERE to view image of the damaged aircraft.


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Story #13 Explanations of abbreviations, slang, and terminology can be found near the end of this document.

The Army Reporter Vol. 3, No. 38 Long Binh, Vietnam Sept. 30, 1967

They Don't Monkey Around
CHU LAI, (101st ABN-IO) A squad of rock-throwing monkeys attacked a platoon of 101st Airborne Division near here recently but retreated in haste.

The 1st Platoon of Company B, 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry thought enemy soldiers were ahead when they saw bushes moving. A rock fell into the paratrooper's position.

The Americans hesitated a moment to consider how to combat the monkeys. Then Sp4 Rodney M. Ward and PFC John Files took action, counter-attacking with rocks.

The monkeys found the Screaming Eagles' aim too accurate and beat a hasty retreat.


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Story #14 Explanations of abbreviations, slang, and terminology can be found near the end of this document.

THE FALCON Vol 1 No 14 16th Combat Aviation Group, Chu Lai, RVN
PAGE 5 DECEMBER 22, 1968

Chief Warrant Officer Two Albert C. Cerullo, 23, of Elmont, N.Y. is completing his tour in Vietnam, having flown 1605 combat hours in 241 flying days.

CW2 Cerullo came to the 176th Assault Helicopter Company on Nov. 19,1967 and flew his last day on Nov. 9, 1968. He became aircraft commander after slightly more than two months and 200 hours in country. Mr. Cerullo,"Minuteman 12", has not had an accident charged against his record since he began flying.

That doesn't mean his tour went without incident. He has had two engine failures, one while sitting in a landing zone west of Chu Lai and one at 1600 feet above ground level. On the second occurrence, Mr. Cerullo landed his UH-1H "Huey" in the only partially clear area available. The only damage done was to the rotor blades by trees in the area which could not be avoided because of the small LZ. No one was injured.

Mr. Cerullo mentioned other exciting moments like west of LZ Center when his helicopter received 32 hits in a LZ on a combat assault. Twelve of the rounds went through the cockpit. With severed tail rotor control cables, two crewmen and two passengers wounded, Mr. Cerullo took off and returned the crippled aircraft to the nearest hospital. He landed in a nearby rice paddy with-out further damage. The engine had taken a round and there were powder burns on the bottom of the aircraft, from enemy weapons, where they were dug in on the LZ.

Mr. Cerullo has been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with numerous clusters, and the Purple Heart, with several other, valor awards pending.

He plans to continue his training at Hunter Army Air Base, Ga., upon his return to"the world" and hopes to earn the rating of instrument instructor, continuing the realization of his childhood dream 'to be a professional aviator.
(176th AHC-IO)


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Story #15 Explanations of abbreviations, slang, and terminology can be found near the end of this document.

THE FALCON Vol II No 6 16th Combat Aviation Group, Chu Lai, RVN
PAGE 2 MARCH 18, 1969

The "Minutemen" of the l76th Assault Helicopter Company were recently honored by Lieutenant Colonel Ronald R. Richardson, Colorado Springs, Colo., when the newest landing zone in the area of operation was named "LZ Minuteman" by "The Professionals," 5th Battalion, 46th Infantry, as a permanent reminder of the close combat-support relationship enjoyed by the two units.

LTC Richardson, commanding officer of the 5/46th, was on hand to receive the "Minuteman" guidon from Major Ronald C. Metcalf, Hickory, N.C., company commander of the 176th AHC.

Colonel Robert Tulley, Fairfax, Va., commanding of officer of the l98th Light Infantry Brigade, looked on as LTC Richardson officially named the first LZ in the area of operation after a supporting unit.

LTC Richardson said, "I've named this LZ to honor the "Minutemen without whom the Brigade couldn't function. They've done a tremendous job and we're proud of every 'Minuteman'."

The new LZ is located 15 miles south of Chu Lai on the Batangan Peninsula, recently cleared by joint Americal Division, Marine and ARVN efforts in Operation Russell Beach. "Minuteman" LZ, named just two days after the "Minutemen" had celebrated their second" anniversary in Vietnam, commands a beautiful view of the South China Sea and the lower rice lands around it's base. Prior to Operation Russell Beach, the peninsula had been a VC and NVA sanctuary for about twenty years.

Captain Michael Smith, New Lebanon, Ohio, who commands "Delta" Company, 5/46th, the company initially assigned to occupy LZ "Minuteman,"firmly planted the guidon in the turf.

Daily support of the ground units in the area is being given by other units of the 14th Combat Aviation Battalion in a addition to the "Minutemen." The 5/46th however is traditionally supported by the 176th AHC. As LTC Richardson put it, "Every ground troop knows the 'Minutemen'."


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Story #16 Explanations of abbreviations, slang, and terminology can be found near the end of this document.

THE FALCON Vol II No 3 16th Combat Aviation Group, Chu Lai, RVN

Major Ronald C. Metcalf, Hickory, N.C., took command of the 176th Assault Helicopter Company on Jan.14,. 1969 during a brief Tuesday morning ceremony held on the 176th maintenance ramp.

Major Metcalf assumed his new command after serving five months as the assistant operations officer of the 16th Combat Aviation Group. This is his second tour in Vietnam, having served with the 1st of the 9th CAV., 1st Air Cavalry Division during 1966-1967.

During his 13 years in the Army Major Metcalf has served in Korea, Europe and Vietnam, as well as the United States. He entered the service during the Korean conflict, but got out in 1954 to attend college. He graduated from Wofford College, Spartanburg, S. C., with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology in 1959, re-entered the Army, and has served continuously since.

The new CO took command from Major Richard G. Adamski, who was reassigned to Ft. Carson, Colo.

Lieutenant Colonel Robert E. Wilson, 14th Combat Aviation Battalion Commander, participated in the ceremony, while LTC Charles A. Klopp, who recently relinquished the Battalion commander's slot to become Group operations officer, watched with a group of officers presenting the 16th Group and the 14th Battalion.


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Story #17 Explanations of abbreviations, slang, and terminology can be found near the end of this document.

A Day In The Life Of A Check Pilot

For some reason, a Captain felt I would make a good IP for the unit. They sent me to Saigon for IP school very early in my tour. It was so early I still was not an aircraft commander. They had to scramble a bit at the school since you couldn't be an IP without being an AC.

Anyway, when I did get AC orders I was assigned the task (honor) of giving 90 day check rides to Minutemen. During this time, the same Captain who sent me to IP school was taking me out and flying with me to see if I knew what I was doing. This guy was the best UH-1 pilot I had ever seen. Was his name Edwards or Majors? I think he had spent some time as a UH-1 test pilot prior to RVN. A short, barrel chested no nonsense guy. He left in the spring of 70, I think.

He demonstrated a maneuver that still amazes me. He would make a near vertical take off with full power, not accelerating much over effective translational lift. When reaching around 200 feet he would roll the throttle off and count one thousand one; one thousand two; one thousand three; BEFORE lowering the collective pitch. (to simulate an engine failure and a slow response to an unexpected loss of power.)

After, finally, getting to one thousand thrrrreeee he slammed the pitch down and very abruptly nosed over the Huey, filling the wind screen with fast approaching PSP. The rotor rpm at this point was dismal. Well below the green. (The first time he showed me this I was on the controls with him struggling to get the throttle back on. He said "Nope, just watch"). As we reached the last possible few feet of altitude he abruptly decelerated (wind screen now filled with blue sky) trading our high rate of descent for an amazing increase in rotor rpm. He would then calmly apply some pitch and level the Huey for a soft, very low ground run, power off landing.

The training this fellow gave me saved my life. Not long after he turned me loose as an IP I experienced the zany fuel switch incident. I was giving a check ride to a maintenance pilot using a brand new UH-1 with less than 25 hours on it. It was to be the Colonels new C&C bird (until this happened). I had taken the controls and intended to demonstrate a hydraulics off landing at Chu Lai East. We were on downwind, landing to the South, a bit low, a bit out over the water, with the hydraulics off, when the boost pump lights came on and the engine quit. I can't remember the fellows name. A real nice guy and a good pilot, this maintenance platoon pilot. He saved our lives by getting the hydraulics back on in time for me to recall my lesson about how to exploit low rotor rpm and a high rate of decent. I pulled the rotor way down out of the green and dove for the beach. I remember thinking, "if I'm going to die I'm going to die on dry land." The Huey's rpm responded when the nose came up and we sort of plopped into the sand and rocked forward a bit. Our maintenance people came out and cranked the copter back up and flew it to the Manor. I never did see the fuel switch in the off position and the maintenance pilot swore he had not turned it off. That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

A Colonel summoned me to his office across the creek from our hootches (14th Aviation guy). He chewed me out in the dark due to another unexpected power failure of the electrical generator. I think he sort of bought my story.

Don West, Minuteman 22 from March 70 to December 70.


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Story #18 Explanations of abbreviations, slang, and terminology can be found near the end of this document.

Major Monkey Business

In early 1969, CW2 Trevino caught a monkey and brought it back to the manor. The warrants made a cage for the monkey out of wire and PVC and the monkey was kept as a pet. After a few weeks the monkey escaped and could not be found. One night, as warrants do, a bunch of us were sitting on the top of the warrant bunker BS'ing when we saw Major Metcalf headed for the out house with his flashlight in hand. A few moments passed and all of a sudden Metcalf let out a scream and started shouting he was going to kill that SOB. The monkey had been hiding under the out house and when Metcalf sat on the hole, the monkey evidently touched his genitals, scaring the living hell out of him.

I've never forgotten that night. I just don't know which SOB the major was going to kill.

Ken Garrett, Minuteman 24


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Story #19 Explanations of abbreviations, slang, and terminology can be found near the end of this document.


I spent some time at the 176th from June to September of 1969.

When I was at Chu Lai at your camp, it was like an R & R for me. We never had the ocean so close to us, and in fact it was just about a 1/2 mile walk from my tent on the sand, to the beach. At Camp Eagle, we were in the middle of nowhere just out side of Hue and Phu Bai, facing the Ashau Valley, so a trip to the beach was a nice change.

However, not until just now did I know the beach that I went to, and the ocean I floated out on often, was known as Shark Beach. In July of 69' I floated on a air mattress. I drifted out far, and the water was deep, but clear. While trying to paddle back to shore, I was alone, and a large shadow swam beneath my mattress. Not taking any chances, I came back to shore and to the operations tent.

There was radio traffic from the Muskets asking for clearance to clear their weapons at some sharks near the beach, the very area I just swam out of. I will never forget that beach, and while there, never went back into the water.

Thanks for listening to my story, please be sure to visit the "Kingsmen"
(Editors note: The Kingsmen's site can now be found at

Dennis Kreish
"B" Company 101st AHC
Camp Eagle 1968-1969
TDY Chu Lai, 6/69 to 9/69


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Story #20 Explanations of abbreviations, slang, and terminology can be found near the end of this document.

C-130 Crash

Sometime in December 1968, I think it was about the 18th, we were standing in line for mail call when we heard engines backfiring. When we turned and looked back toward the air strip we saw a C-123 about 300 ft up with black smoke pouring out of both engines. It crashed with the wings vertical in a left turn. It was about 400 yards from the bridge on the bank of the creek, between the airstrip and the bomb dump. The plane took off and at about 300 ft. the engines quit. The pilot tried to turn away from the bomb dump and only succeeded in side slipping into the ground.

A group of 176th people and HHC people ran to the burning wreck and saved 9 of the 30 people on board. We were told that the reason for the crash was that this plane had short take off assist jets on the end of the wings, and that the crew chief had put JP-4 in the aviation gas tank.

The sad thing is that the reason for the crash was this C123 had jet assist pods on the end of the wings. Jets take JP4 fuel. Piston engines take aviation gas. Someone put the JP4 into the Aviation gas tank.

This is the only picture I have left of the wreckage.

The people involved from HHC received Bronze Stars while our group watched from formation in front of the hanger. This just added to the rift between HHC and the 176th. The enlisted men from our company caught a lot of grief from across the creek. I guess it didn't help when one of our gunners set up with a M-79 and lobbed HE at the Headquarters Trailer.

Another time we had to go over and sandbag the Battalion Commanders trailer. He wanted the roof reinforced with PSP and sand bags. We put three rows of bags above the top edge and painted a red bulls eye on the roof. For a long time we would see that bulls eye every time we flew over. Someone finally told and it was no longer funny.


250 mm Incoming Rockets

In late '68 or early '69 we were hit with 250 mm rockets. At least that's what we were told they were. We had an alert one night and everyone hit the bunkers. We could hear this sucker go over, It sounded like what you would think a WW2 German V2 would have sounded like. It flew over us and hit the creek bank on the battalion side. It hit behind the officers shitter, blew up a lot of sand. We always thought it would have been great if the Old Man had been on the throne. "Talk about finishing in a hurry"!!

We always seemed to get hit with a lot of stuff that had to be aimed at the ammo dump. Then there was the night that the water truck hit a 500 lb bomb laying in the road. It didn't have a fuse and had rolled off one of the trucks going to one of the Mag bases. Didn't hurt the bomb, Broke the truck, and the driver stayed drunk for the rest of his tour.


Chow Time

I wonder if anyone remembers the slick that sheared a short shaft out on the USS Guadalcanal. They went out to get a load of spare parts and couldn't get back in the air. I flew out with the Blacksmith and a couple of aircraft mechanics. I remember the Navy boys laughing at us when we found their chow line. We were like half starved dogs. The enlisted food was so bad that we tried to get the CA's out of Duc-Pho because the 174th food was so much better that ours. I wonder if they ever figured out why our food was so bad. All of the enlisted knew why.

I remember a WO, first name Ted, who would have started his second tour in the summer of 69. I was getting Smokey ready to go one morning when this new WO walks up, I said good morning sir. He looked at me and said " That's the first thing that I want to talk to you about, My name is Ted." He said that he had been a crew chief on his first tour and had went to WO school so that he could fly. Man did we ever like that guy. He cut the lock off the "private" messhall reefer. We were surviving by stealing the emergency C Rats off the birds going into PE. Boy did we ever have a party, real steak, crab, lobster, fresh vegetables. I still remember the look on the face of the Mess Sgt. He did not come to the party, I don't think he would have survived it after the guys saw the quality of the hidden supplies. I would like to thank Ted and those like him that tried to look after their men.


Stupid Water Truck Driver

Some time late in my tour, Maybe Sept 69. The water truck driver went for his daily run and found two 5000 gallon tankers in front of him. Instead of waiting his turn (As he was in need to get back for his daily Mary Jane ration.) He went to the Chu Lai motor pool where they had a truck wash. It consisted of a sump pump in a swamp. So this bright individual fills up our potable water tank with three loads of swamp water.

The next day 40 of us were hit with amebic dysentery. My temperature went from normal to 106 in the time I could stagger from the flight line to my hooch. That night the First SGT. picked all of us up in 2 ea. 2 1/2 ton trucks and took us to the base hospital. For the next three weeks toilet paper was at a premium. The sides of the birds were streaked as the crews had to hang it over the side. If the mission went over one tank of fuel the men were miserable. I never saw the truck driver again. I wasn't the only one who told the top SGT. what would happen if I survived to find him.

Mike Parris


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Story #21 Click here for Wreckage Of Dreams written by Brian Lambie
Explanations of abbreviations, slang, and terminology can be found near the end of this document.



Story #22 Explanations of abbreviations, slang, and terminology can be found near the end of this document.

Another Day in the Life of a Musket - Jerry Herman

We were working out of Phu Bai. I remember we left early one morning to insert a SF team. They gave us the coordinates that they wanted to go to. Normally there was 2 or 3 Americans and 3 or 4 indigenous personnel to a team, if I remember right. Anyhow, when we got to the coordinates that they wanted to go to, it was triple canopy mountainous jungle as far as the eye could see. We circled looking for a place to set them down. A few clicks away we found an area that one or two choppers could drop the guys into tall elephant grass. As gun escort, we made a couple of slow passes and didn't receive any ground fire at all, so we gave the slicks the OK. They made their approach, hovered, dropped the troops (no ground fire) then started to lift off. As they started to gain altitude all Hell broke loose. The SF Team called us and said that as they ran to the trees they noticed hooches and bare areas under the trees. They said "I think you set us down right in the middle of a VC Training area.

We immediately started pounding the area with mini guns, rockets, and M60 door guns. There were muzzle flashes and tracers going everywhere. The team was pinned down and the ground fire was too heavy to attempt an extraction.

Upon running out of ammo, we left for Phu Bai, calling ahead to have fuel and ammo waiting. I believe we had 2 light fire teams of Hueys, one team of cobras, and three slicks to start with that day. We started making round robins, one trip after another. We had as much respect for those crazy Special Forces guys as they had for us. We'd have given our life to get them out. So we kept it up, non stop. They even brought us sandwiches because we kept the engines running during refueling and rearming. Early on we received a radio call from Air Force Jet jockeys (since we were working on the "GUARD" frequency. They told us what they had onboard, in the way of HE Bombs, Willy Pete etc. They wanted to know if they could assist us and what was our coordinates. We said sure. We can use all the help we can get. We then gave them our coordinates. There was a short pause and then "Come back with those coordinates." We repeated and then they apologized and said "Sorry, we can't come over there." Soon after we did get help from jet jockeys, although I believe these were Marines.

Then the first Jolly Green Giant came in to attempt a rescue. As he started onto long final approach he got hit by an RPG and burst into flames, banked to the left, and crashed. If I remember correctly, both pilots were killed, however a couple of the crew survived, and called us on their radio.

Now we had the SF team in one location and a couple clicks away were the crew members. This is really bad. We put down more rockets, the jets dropped more bombs. The second Jolly Green made an attempt to rescue the team. He was hit with heavy fire and called us to inform us that he had been hit and had jet fuel leaking. He was going to shut off his radio and head for home.

We had started at first light and it was now afternoon. Everyone was exhausted but the adrenaline was keeping us going. We had to get them out. More rockets, more bombs. As the sun was getting low in the West we FINALLY got the third Jolly Green Giant in to make the rescue.

If memory serves me right there were 96 aircraft sorties flown that day. Another day in the life of a "Musket." Of course there were never any awards given for these missions (although well deserved) because we weren't there.

I believe Mr. Arlene and Mr. Paul Cook were also on this mission.

As remembered by WO Jerry Herman

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Story #23 Explanations of abbreviations, slang, and terminology can be found near the end of this document.

15 May 1967
1- Reds Down 6 Copters
from the Pacific Stars and Stripes, 1967.
2- Specific information about the action from Roland Scheck.
3- General Orders Number 694 - Award of the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Reds Down 6 Copters
S&S Vietnam Bureau
Saigon - Communist gunners shot down six U.S. helicopters and hit seven others Monday during a four-hour battle near Quang Ngai. The helicopters - all Huey gunships - were supporting the 101st Airborne Brigade troopers as they fought Viet Cong along the north central coast. One of the downed choppers was destroyed and five others were lifted out.Twenty Communists were killed in the battle. U.S. losses were three killed and 34 wounded. Four paratroopers and six Viet Cong were killed in an earlier fight the same day. In two battles in the mekong Delta Monday, U.S. troops killed 82 Viet Cong. One American was killed and 32 wounded.


We were at Duc Pho... the company had moved there from Lane Army field about two weeks prior to that...we were supporting the 101th Airborne Div...Tiger Force to be exact...we had flown them just west of Duc Pho...we had been there earlier in the day and unloaded some of them...on the second trip in we received very heavy fire...two wounded paratrooper came running towards my chopper...(we were the lead ship) and Major Kettles asked me to wave them to the last was way to far and I told them to come ahead...we were on the ground way to long...all of a sudden a full burst of machine gun fire traveled throughout the Huey...starting with the co-pilot and ending with the tail rotor..they told me later the ship took 23 hits...but Major Kettles flew us home...the wounded airborne trooper put a T-kit on my leg. after stopping at Duc Pho we changed choppers and Major Kettles and WO4 Secrest flew me to the field hospital in Quinh Nhon and they amputated my leg there...that was the end of my life as a winged warrior...didn't last long...but I still miss it thirty two years later....always tell my boys that I hope they never have to do anything like this...would give a million dollars so that they won't have to...and would not take a million dollars for the experience...the 176th and its men all were very good to me and treated me like on of their own ( I had just come over from Germany and volunteered) and even though I knew they thought I was not right in the head...they always treated me (and still do) as if I was native could I not love a bunch of guys like that....Roland



APO San Francisco 96374


14 February 1968

NUMBER 694    


      1. TC 320. The following AWARD is announced.
SCHECK, ROLAND J. RA 16962378 (SSAN NVAL), SPECIALIST FOUR E4, United States Army, 176th Assault Helicopter Company1 14th Combat Aviation Battalion APO 96374
Awarded:  Distinguished Flying Cross
DateAction:   15 May 1967
Theater:  Republic of Vietnam
Reason: For heroism while participating in aerial flight as evidenced by voluntary action above and beyond the call of duty. Specialist. Four Scheck distinguished himself by exception-ally valorous actions on 15 May 1967 in the Republic of Viet-nam while serving as door gunner aboard a UH-1D helicopter to reinforce a unit of the 101st Airborne Division which was in heavy contact with an enemy force of unknown size. When the aircraft entered the area, it was suddenly hit by intense automatic weapons and small arms fire. Specialist Scheck immediately located one enemy position and began placing sup-pressive fire upon it until he had silenced it. When his helicopter landed under an intense barrage of mortar fire, Specialist Scheck, with disregard for his own safety, maintained his position and continued to fire on enemy bunkers, keeping the enemy fire at a minimum. Almost immediately, a second lift of reinforcements was needed and Specialist Scheck unhesitatingly volunteered to assist. Although their landing was again subject to intense enemy fire, Specialist Scheck continued to place effective fire on the enemy positions. When the aircraft departed from the landing zone, the enemy fire increased in intensity and several enemy rounds struck Specialist Scheck, wounding him in the leg. Seeing that there were several wounded personnel in the area who were pinned down by heavy enemy fire and unable to make it to a waiting aircraft, Specialist Scheck, disregarding his painful wound, undauntingly directed his fire into the enemy positions, allowing the wounded to make their way to the helicopter. Specialist Scheck's courage, determination, intense devotion to duty, and his heroic actions are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, the Americal Division, and the United States Army.
Authority: By direction of the President under the provisions of the Act of Congress, approved 2 July 1926.



  Colonel, GS  
  Chief of Staff    
Adjutant General
  25  AVDF-AGD
    2  AVDF-AGA
    2  AVDF-IO
    2  Ea Indiv Conc
    1  ADVF-AGPR
    1  CO, 14th Combat Aviation Battalion
    1  CO, 176th Assault Helicopter Company
    1  CG, USARV ATTN:  AG Awards
    1  USA Pers Svc Support Center
         ATTN: AGPE-F
         Fort Benjamin Harrison, Ind. 46216


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Story #24 Explanations of abbreviations, slang, and terminology can be found near the end of this document.

15 May 1967
Memorable Combat Experience

It was 15 May 1967. My unit was the 176th Avn Co (Minuteman), 14th Avn Bn. WO Roy, SP Hawley, PFC Washington and I (CPT Long) were working insertions for soldiers of the 1st Bde, 101st Airborne Div (before the rest of the division came into the country). Just after a "C" ration break we were told to take our next load to an area about 25 kilometers NW of Duc Pho, in a valley heading west into the larger Song Ve river valley. We picked up the troops and put them in amidst a hail of machine gun, rifle, and mortar fire. WO Roy remembers that we had to fly through a wall of green tracer fire going up in front of us. As I was at the controls on the first trip in, I was so focused I must have blanked out the tracers and concentrated on the touch down (good training did work). The soldiers offloaded. Many were being shot a short distance away from the helicopter. At first we thought they may have been running in front of our M60's, which we learned was not the case but is an indication of how hot the LZ was. As soon as they were off, a full load of wounded were placed aboard for evacuation. Those of the wounded who were able, were urging us with their hands, eyes, and voices to "go, go, go". At that point we felt it was the normal reaction of a wounded soldier wanting to get to treatment as quickly as he could. Little did we know then that it wasn't "getting to" somewhere they were concerned with, but rather "getting away from" that particular valley. It soon became clear. As we departed, the door gunner and crew chief were calling out "machine gun 2 o'clock, machine gun 10 o'clock, machine gun left, right, etc...about 8 in all but miraculously we were able to keep flying. We weren't sure of whether we were hit going in or coming out. After departure, our instrument check showed all were "in the green" so we kept flying. We took the wounded to the aid station, picked up another load of soldiers, and went back.

On our way back to the LZ, we saw the platoon leader's (Major Kettles) helicopter flying our way leaking fuel. He had been in the LZ right after us. He informed us his helicopter was badly shot up and the door gunner was severely wounded, that the ground troops needed ammo brought in and more wounded taken out, and to team up with another ship (WO Marty was one pilot, not sure of the rest of the crew) which had ammo for the next approach to the LZ. We led the approach..WO Roy was at the controls for this trip in with the second ship at right echelon so the unloaded ammo would be as close as possible to the troops in the tree line. Because of where we had to land in the LZ, after the soldiers dismounted, we noticed the other soldiers who were supposed to put wounded aboard were not moving. They couldn't be blamed due to the heavy fire. Just as on the first trip, of all the soldiers jumping off to join the fray, many were being hit before making it to the tree line. Because of this, we had to wait until the second ship had offloaded the ammo, loaded wounded and departed before we could relocate. It seemed like an eternity with all the bullets and mortars. The second ship reported taking many rounds, some through the cockpit but again, miraculously, without injury to the crew. Finally, we were able to hover over closer to the tree line to minimize the soldier's exposure so they would load the wounded. In doing so we maximized our exposure and as could be expected, after lacing us with machine guns, just as we touched down they got us dead center with a mortar round, one of many falling around us. After the bright flash was over, not being sure if we were really damaged, I checked the instruments and all were "in the green" so I pulled pitch. That was a "big" mistake since the round had made several alterations to the helicopter to include making one rotor blade somewhat shorter than the other. The pitch pull caused us to flip over on the left side, then go back the other way stopping upright on the skids. I believe we all set a record at that point "un-assing" the aircraft. In fact, Ron Roy and I both went between the pilot and co-pilot seats at the same time and do not remember touching each other. I still had my flight helmet on but the communication cord had disconnected and remained in the helicopter and I did not even feel the tug. SP Hawley and PFC Washington went to the far side of the LZ but were able to dash back across later without injury. Fortunately, even though the helicopter was destroyed, I was the only one wounded. The adrenaline was working so good I didn't know shrapnel had hit my lower right leg until I hit the ground when I jumped out. All of a sudden we were infantrymen for awhile, firing at the enemy from behind our burning helicopter.

It wasn't long before the flames got to our machine gun ammo which began spraying everywhere forcing us to move to tree cover to continue to assist in the ground battle. Eventually our gunships had to depart, so "fast movers" were brought in to drop daisy cutters and napalm. The bombs were close enough that some of the shrapnel was hitting the ground behind us. This went on for an hour or so and then they left. Then our C & C ship had to leave. As the "wop, wop, wop" of those Huey blades faded in the distance and there were no more gunships or "fast movers", we realized at that moment what silence really meant. It became so quiet, for some reason, it was frightening. No birds were chirping, there was no wind rustling the grass or trees, and the water in the stream to our front seemed to run quietly. A tower of smoke was rising straight up from our helicopter marking its demise. The smoke changed colors as the flames devoured different colored smoke grenades, yellow, green..but eventually changed to black when the flames found the fuel. There was a low haze hovering just above the ground which smelled of gunpowder, burning helicopter, and burned flesh, a reminder that while it may be quiet, it was not over. None of us were moving for fear of making a noise which would draw unwanted attention from the bad guys. We did not know it then but later we were told that, including us, there were only 44 of us on the ground facing a much larger well-trained force on the other side of the stream. Someone also told us approximately 40 of us were wounded or dead. We saw at least one dead infantryman. I know the hospital at Qui Nhon was filled up that day by the wounded soldiers because after my initial treatment, as I was being readied for evacuation from the 101st Medical Aid Station, I was told there was no room for me and would be treated daily at the Aid Station. It was clearly not a "win" day for our side.

Later, after continuous exchanges of gunfire, around 1830 we heard a faint sound in the distance which told us helicopters were coming. We looked to the east and there in the sky, as beautiful as could be, were six Hueys on approach to our LZ to get us all out. It was a memorable experience to know we were not forgotten because, as mentioned earlier, we were greatly outnumbered and helicopters on approach and in the LZ were, as we had proven, sitting ducks. Leading that flight was our platoon leader, Major Charles Kettles. Since he had already had one chopper shot to pieces around him (over 40 bullet holes, plexiglass shattered, rotor blades badly ripped) and his door gunner severely wounded that day in the same LZ, he had every right not to be in the sky coming back to get us, but he was. I was later told the Commanding General was against it because we were so badly outnumbered. The General wanted to wait until the next morning to attempt an extraction because of the losses we had already suffered that day in both manpower and helicopters. Our helicopter and crew weren't the only ones hit that day, just the only ones hit by a mortar round and therefore, the only ones who did not leave the LZ. Besides the killed and wounded ground forces, there were also other wounded Minuteman personnel. I thank God Major Kettles argued for and got the helicopters needed to come back. Everyone knew what it meant to have been left in that area overnight with most people on the ground wounded and badly outnumbered. I'm sure no one in that LZ that evening at 1815, with the sun heading for the horizon, who was rescued because he came back, will ever forget it.

To make a long story short, everyone was extracted from the LZ that day, including the dead, amidst a withering hail of small arms and mortar fire. Because of what had happened before, WO Roy and I instructed the infantrymen around us to run with us to the furthest helicopter. It meant running through the small arms and mortar fire but it was the only way any of them would go to any but the closest helicopters. Because of my leg, two soldiers had to get on each side of me while I carried their radio, etc. As we ran we approached a wall of mortar and small arms fire but kept going. Amazingly, just before we got to the area where mortar and small arms fire was concentrated, it stopped for a few seconds. We ran through that area to the helicopter and as we got through it the fire resumed behind us. I don't attempt to explain it but am thankful it occurred.

Five of the six rescue helicopters were so badly damaged we were told they never flew again ....too many repairs were needed. The helicopter flown by Maj Kettles, his second of the day, also suffered over 40 hits from small arms fire and other severe damage from the mortars. Amazingly, on this trip in, neither he nor any of his crew were wounded. Another amazing thing is that the one helicopter which did not get hit while rescuing all of us was the one we were on and that, of course, was sheer luck. It was not a Minuteman helicopter. Because there were not enough of our own available, it was "borrowed" from the 161st (Pelicans) and flown by their crew. One of the pilots was Ed (Trip) Wilson. All in all that day our unit had many wounded personnel. By the grace of God none were killed and we lost 13 helicopters (temporarily or permanently) to battle damage before it was all over. Our helicopter, which had performed brilliantly to the end, became a pile of ashes, a mechanical martyr marking the battle site. Later, as usually happens, the seriousness of the situation wore off, and our buddies began calling the area where we were blown up "Chump Valley" because only "Chumps" would be dumb enough to land on the enemy's mortar registration point. Our crew did take some ribbing about that. Since they hit us right on top, it would seem we landed on their mortar registration point.

To put this in perspective, I don't believe the 176th ever had a day quite so bad after that. I know for a fact that they had not had one even close to such intensity up to that point. The unit had been "in country" only 3 months. It was the unit's first big encounter and to that point the biggest battle participated in by 14th Avn Bn personnel and the Bn had been operational in Vietnam for apx 2 years. Our helicopter (last 3 were 046) was the first one in the 176th totally destroyed in combat and I was the first unit member wounded severely enough to be grounded..approximately three months..mostly due to constant infection and not the initial wound. I guess somebody and some helicopter had to be first. It may as well have been our crew and helicopter.

By any means of measurement this was by far my most memorable experience in Vietnam, one which I know is equaled by many others who served there. I'm thankful to be here to remember it. I'm very sure I would not be here or would have had years of my life taken from me if Major Kettles had not come back for all of us. Even though I'm writing this as a memorable experience, I'm only able to do so because of a memorable person, Major Charles Kettles, a really great human being and valiant soldier.

Donald E. Long

LTC, IN, Ret


Donald E. Long
LTC, IN, Ret


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Story #25 Explanations of abbreviations, slang, and terminology can be found near the end of this document.


On the fourth of July Nineteen Hundred and Ninety Three,
I stood watching rockets on the lawn of the Registry**.
Tears running down my cheeks in the dark.
Remembering the men I had met recently.
We mastered complex machines, and through our fear, flew bravely.
The men who had flown Helicopters in Vietnam, like me.
Recalling my experiences as a young man in Vietnam.
I take a deep breath, and let it out slowly.
Again I am in the forest of the tall men,
Shoulder to shoulder, with men much like me.
Service to others, honor, living, and action,
Were important to them and me.
We did more than any one could have asked us you see,
We offered our lives for others in country.
These acts make my life more valuable to me.
I had lost sight of my service, in country.
In Phoenix a transformation came over me.
Relating with men of like stature,
I remembered how large the heart is inside of me.
I left our reunion proud, walking as tall as could be.
Reunited, with men who flew Helicopters in Vietnam, like me.

* A city in Arizona near site of 93 convention, also a mythological bird that rises out of the ashes.
**One of the hotels the 93 convention was held at.

In Feb. 1967 I arrived in Vietnam aboard a C-141. Almost immediately I felt the anxiety of the combat zone. In May hot metal ripped through my flesh and I observed my blood pooling on the floor of the helicopter. I was Air craft commander. Chuck the pilot flying with me was also wounded (later med-evaced to Japan).

We were part of a 13 helicopter flight, extracting men under fire. We picked up as the flight took off from the LZ (Landing Zone). An explosion near the left rear of the aircraft indicated we were narrowly missed as an RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenade) passed under our helicopter. We set back down, when my gunner noticed two more men were left in the LZ. The flight disappeared over the rim of the canyon. We secured the two men aboard, and left the LZ under heavy fire. That night a local artillery battery pounded the area of the battle. With each shot my body stiffened. A fitful sleep finally came.

The next day I awoke changed. I was no longer invincible. The flashes while flying over villages at night, the sound of being fired at while flying, the incoming rocket and mortar fire; all took on a new meaning for me. From that time forward I felt I was living alone in a hostile world.

I brought that world home with me. That is the easiest description I know for my PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). It also included a detachment or numbing, a suspicion of others, a lack of feeling of accomplishment, and a lack of feeling accepted.

I maintained this sense of my reality for 18 years. The point of change, was the death of my wife ( an ex-Amy Nurse and Vietnam Veteran.) As I worked through my grief, the issues of Vietnam came back into the foreground of my consciousness.

Realizing I was marginally functional, I turned to the Veterans Outreach Center for help. I received both group and individual counseling. As I began dealing with my issues, life took on a new meaning for me. I decided I wanted to become a counselor, and entered the Masters program in Counseling at Cal. State Fullerton. Through the self reflective writing of the program, and additional counseling I have received, I have put my experiences in Vietnam into a new and more positive perspective. With this new perspective I made the journey to Phoenix.

In Phoenix I did not meet any of the men I trained with or flew with in country. I did meet some of the most outstanding men I have the pleasure of knowing. Some were still flying, many of us had gone on to other pursuits.

As we exchanged stories, what became most apparent to me, was that each of us had offered to lay down our lives for others on many occasions. This was not done to be heroic, to be recognized, or to be awarded a medal. It was done simply because it was a part of our nature. This new found knowledge along with the fellowship, was very healing for me.

I left Phoenix walking taller and feeling prouder than I have for a long time. What a unique fraternity we belong to. Those of us who proudly wore the wings in combat.

Welcome home.

David A. Roblyer 93
RVN. 67-68

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Story #26 Explanations of abbreviations, slang, and terminology can be found near the end of this document.

The Screaming Eagle September 6, 1967  Page 3

Log Over 600 Sorties in 24 Hours
Brigade Served and Saved by Flying 'Minutemen'

By SP4 Dan Stroebel

CHU LAI - The "Minute-men" of the 176th Aviation Co. shouldered one of their heaviest workloads since arriving in Vietnam as they ferried troops, ammunition and supplies for the 101st Airborne during Operation Benton near here re-cently.

On D-Day the sound of rotor blades whipping the damp morning air echoed over the brigade area as the "Minutemen" lifted the first wave of paratroopers into the combat zone. Back and forth the chop-pers shuttled as the day wore on.

Late In the afternoon, 2nd Bn. (Abn), 502nd Inf. made contact and the pilots of the 176th re-mained in their cockpits fur-nishing supplies, Medivac and gunship support.

WO Dennis D. Bostad, Stevens Point, Wis., flew nearly 19 consecutive hours during the first day of the operation.

"After the first 10 hours, I was numb," recalled Bostad. "Then I caught my second wind and kept going."

Bostad flew four types of mis-sions during his long stint at the controls. After 11 hours and 30 minutes of combat assault flying, he switched helicopters and flew the command and con-trol ship for Lt. Col. Ralph Puckett Jr., commander of the paratrooper battalion.

Later Bostad was flying. ammunition resupply missions. When he landed his helicopter at the end of the long day, he had been evacuating wounded from the battlefield, often under fire.

"The night flying was the most challenging," Bostad ex-plained. "About midnight, the moon set and the troopers on the ground had to use flash-lights to guide us in. It got to the point where we quit hoping we could do it - we just knew we had to get in."

The gunship pilots and crews of "Minutemen" battled their way through the long day with mission after mission of close support for the paratroopers. Two and three gunships orbited the battle areas, lacing the Communist infested jungle with machinegun and rocket fire.

Capt. Matthew M McGuire, Long Island, N.Y., was flying his gunship in support of 2nd Bn. (Abn), 327th Inf. when a .30 caliber enemy bullet smashed through the helicopter wind-shield and struck him in the chest. His armored vest saved his life.

"It knocked the wind out of me, but I was more concerned about where the bullet came from," McGuire said. "We weren't aware of any ground fire, but it came from some-where."

McGuire had logged 14 hours when he walked away from his chopper.

WO Kim P. Hogan, Evanston, Ill., flew his gunship nearly eight hours that night, support-ing paratrooper forces who battled the enemy at hand-grenade range.

"The paratroopers had a man on the perimeter use a flash-light to mark their forward positions," said Hogan, "and we went in firing as close as possible. It was tight all the way."

In the first 24-hours of Op-eration Benton, the "Minute-men" pilots of 176th Aviation Co. logged 214 hours in the air while flying 648 sorties in a spectacular demonstration of Army aviation support.

Click here for photo. Picture caption:
176th Aviation 'Musket' Smokes VC
A rocket from a gunship of the 176th "Minutemen" streaks toward its target during Operation Benton fighting.
(Photo by Pfc. James Nelson)

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Story #27 Explanations of abbreviations, slang, and terminology can be found near the end of this document.

Pacific Stars & Stripes Wednesday, April 22, 1970 Page 6
Red Gunners Bag 5 Helos in 1 Day
S&S Vietnam bureau

SAIGON - Enemy gunners downed five American helicopters Sunday, killing four U.S. personnel and wounding six, according to an official U.S. spokesman, who said this brought to 1,577 the number of choppers lost to hostile fire over South Vietnam since 1961.

This was the first time since May 12, 1969, that five U.S. helicopters had been shot down and destroyed by enemy fire U.S. officials said.

The helicopter losses began Sunday morning when a UH1 (Huey) was shot down 27 miles east northeast of Saigon in Bien Hoa Province, wounding one American and four Thai soldiers, U.S. officials reported.

At noon Sunday, another UH1 went down in Pleiku Province, 231 miles northeast of Saigon, killing three Americans and wounding two, according to U.S. officials.

Shortly after noon, a third Huey was shot down in Kontum Province, in the central highlands 296 miles north-northeast of Saigon, resulting in one U.S. KIA and three wounded, spokesmen said.

A fourth UH1 fell to enemy fire in Quang Tin Province 59 miles southeast of Da Nang, but resulted in no casualties, officials reported.

An OH6 light observation helicopter was destroyed early Sunday morning in Quang Ngai Province 50 miles south-southeast of Da Nang, according to American officials who said those aboard escaped safely.

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Story #28 Explanations of abbreviations, slang, and terminology can be found near the end of this document.

Pacific Stars & Stripes Sunday, April 26, 1970 Page 6
U.S. Loses 27 Helos In Week
S&S Vietnam Bureau

SAIGON - The United States lost 27 helicopters and nine fixed-wing aircraft in the Vietnam war during the week ending April 21, the U.S. command reported Friday.

The new figures bring the totals lost during the war to 3,603 helicopters and 3,091 fixed-wing aircraft, according to a U.S. spokesman.

Just the helicopter losses for the week would amount to more than $6 million figured on the basic cost of $318,000 for the most common chopper used in the war, the UH1 "Huey."

The command does not break down chopper losses by type. However, the spokesman said one of last week's losses was an AH1 Cobra shot down by Red gunners in the Mekong Delta 14 miles southwest of Saigon Wednesday. Both crewmen were reported wounded.

The spokesman said the Cobra's basic cost is $318,000; the CH47 Chinook's is $1.5 million; the OH6A Cayuse light observation helicopter $190,000; and the OH58A Kiowa LOH $100,00.

Four of the fixed-wing aircraft went Laos, the command spokesman said. One other went down in Vietnam, and four were support aircraft, he said. He did not say where the support aircraft were lost.

One of these planes was a U.S. Air Force F4 Phantom jet shot down by Red gunners in the lower panhandle of Laos Wednesday, the spokesman said. He said both crew members were rescued from the area of Laos just west of South Vietnam's northmost area.

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Click Here for Story #29  Pacific Stars & Stripes Vol. 26, No. 134 Friday, May 15, 1970 Page 7
Lizard Plaguing 'Services' - Article provided by Les Hines, ADVA Vietnam historian.
Explanations of abbreviations, slang, and terminology can be found near the end of this document.


Story #30   Mr Trunchon's CA, The Falcon, 16 CAG publication- Article provided by Les Hines, ADVA Vietnam historian.
Explanations of abbreviations, slang, and terminology can be found near the end of this document.


M R . T R U N C H O N ' S C A
(176th AHC-IO) CHU LAI, RVN-

November 2nd was a fitting day to climax the Army career of Chief Warrant Officer Three Michael Truchon of the 176th Assault Helicopter Company's "Minutemen" stationed at Chu Lai, RVN.

CW3 Truchon goes home in December to retire with twenty years in the Army, nine spent as an enlisted man.

During his career he had two tours in Europe, one in Japan, and was an infantryman with the 1st Cavalry Division during the first beach landing in the Korean Conflict.

On his first tour in the Republic of Vietnam, June 1965 through May 1966 he was assigned to the 120th Aviation Company "Beans" at Tan Son Nhut Air Base near Saigon and while there participated in numerous combat assaults and eagle flights in support of the 173rd Airborne Brigade.

When the 120th went to VIP support, CW3 Truchon volunteered for maintenance "So I could stay busy," he said. Some hard work at on-the-job training, and his military occupation specialty was changed to maintenance officer.

Now on his second Vietnam tour with only 29 days left, this former tactics instructor at Ft. Rucker, Ala., volunteered to go on a "hot" combat assault west of Quang Ngai.

CW3 Truchon was on the "Blacksmith" maintenance ship and had been sent to the Quang Ngai Airstrip as a standby-recovery aircraft during a large combat assault involving more than 20 lift ships.

When one of the ships had to shut down for a maintenance inspection, and another had battle damage, CW3 Truchon volunteered to take their place. He took part in seven lifts and received heavy small arms fire, but took no hits as he was flying right behind and aircraft in which both pilots were wounded.

"It was just like old times with the 120th," he said smiling.

On retiring Mr. Truchon plans to complete a course in hotel management and settle down in New England to take up a new profession. With the drive and determination Mr. Truchon has shown for the last twenty years, the hotel business can expect some stiff competition in its ranks over the next twenty years!

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Story #31 A Night Of  Terror, The Falcon, 16 CAG publication- Article provided by Les Hines, ADVA Vietnam historian. Special note: This is an article about the sucessful escape and evasion of WO Frank L. Carson of the 71st AHC. The article omits the entirety of the event that night because although Carson successfully evaded, WO Frank Anton- Firebird 90, Robert Lewis- crew chief, and Jim Pfister- door gunner were all captured and held POW for 5 years. These men were a 71st AHC Firebird gunship crew supporting an infantry unit that was overrun.  Sixteen NVA anti-aircraft guns were hidden in the trees near the crash site. The anti-aircraft guns and bad weather made rescue attempts impossible. Also during the action involving this infantry unit, Major Brady, a medevac pilot, was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for flying four trips into the anti-aircraft fire and extracting 39 wounded.
Explanations of abbreviations, slang, and terminology can be found near the end of this document.


A  N I G H T  O F  T E R R O R

EDITOR'S NOTE: "I was pulling back on the cyclic the co-pilot was calling 'Mayday' and we crashed".....8 p.m.

These are the words of Warrant Officer Frank L. Carson, Coral Gables, Fla., a gunship commander with the Americal Division's 71st Assault Helicopter Company "Firebirds," after spending 18 hours escaping and evading a North Vietnamese and Viet Cong force near Chu Lai, Republic of Vietnam.

On Jan. 5, 1968, at approximately 3 p.m., Warrant Officer Carson and his crew were flying an armed helicopter mission in support of Company "C", 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry, 196th Light Infantry Brigade in Que Son Valley, 40 miles north of Chu Lai. Company "C's" position was in imminent danger of being overrun by the 3rd Regiment, 2nd North Vietnamese Infantry Division.

As Warrant Officer Carson and his crew were placing deadly fire on the enemy's position they came under intense enemy fire taking numerous hits resulting in loss of controls, causing the aircraft to crash in the middle of the enemy's position. The following is a recount of the ordeal that Warrant Officer Carson experienced in the tense 18 hours that followed.


By Warrant Officer Frank L. Carson

I was the first one out of the aircraft and as I got out I realized that we were being fired at from four sides. My wing man in the second helicopter flew overhead and all the fire that was directed as us was diverted to him; the remainder of the crew scrambled out with the break in the fire.

We huddled in the mud--a rice paddy against a dike--near the aircraft and talked. Adhering strictly to standard procedures, the co-pilot advised the crew to remain near the aircraft until pick-up.

At this time an AK-47 automatic weapon began shooting directly at us from across the rice paddy--only 40 yards away--there was no conceivable way to escape from this fire. Realizing this, my wing man rolled in and placed four rockets directly on top of this weapon, saving our lives.

As additional aircraft arrived at the scene, the intense ground fire made me realize that pick-up was, in my opinion, out of the question. At this point we had a hasty meeting nd decided that under the circumstances, it would be safer to split up and work our way out individually.

Low crawling as each flare died, I made 30 or 40 yards progress to the North when I heard voices in the distance. My shoulder ached from the crash, but I could still move my arm. I began burrowing in a five-foot rice paddy dike, and as I completed my concealment four NVA walked past my position. they all had AK-47's and packs on their hips--side arms or ammunition. A flare ignited to the west, and concealed me in shadow, and revealed them completely.

I waited for one hour and began sliding along the dikes again. I removed my shirt so bubbles wouldn't collect in the sleeves and make additional noise. Only when a flare went out would I chance sliding over each dike. AK-47, 50 caliber machine gun, and rocket fire was intense at the searching aircraft. (Continued)


I heard moving water to my front and saw foliage. I realized I was coming to a creek or river. Just as I was coming upon the edge of the creek, still behind a dike, the NVA started shooting through the rice paddy dike I was on--a foot in front of my face--and then they stopped.

I didn't



A N I G H T  O F  T E R R O R

I heard moving water to my front and saw foliage. I realized I was coming to a creek or river. Just as I was coming upon the edge of the creek, still behind a dike, the NVA started shooting through the rice paddy dike I was on--a foot in front of my face--and then they stopped.

I didn't move--they started firing over my head and to my rear. They were trying to flush me out but I didn't move...I heard their voices closer and as the flare died out, I rolled into the river. It made a big splash---I went under and was moving with the current.

I came up once and saw a bend in the stream and heard the frantic enemy soldiers yelling.

I went under again and around the bend.

A wall of artillery was falling on the opposite bank and I left the river and began low crawling toward the sound--at this time hundreds of tracers on the ground lit up the area across the river in the direction of the aircraft. Some of the crew must have been putting up a heck of a fight in that area.

I thought if I stayed in the river, moving with the current, it would take



A  N I G H T  O F  T E R R O R

me east--but with the NVA so close I elected to crawl through the friendly artillery. The concussions battered me, a few pieces of shrapnel hit me, the fumes engulfed me...but it worked; the NVA didn't follow---artillery had saved my life.

About three or four hours had gone by since I had left the aircraft. It was painful to move so I elected to sleep. I checked directions with the constellation Cassiopia before sleeping and drew and arrow toward east in the dirt. Before I slept I was careful to remove all the leeches I could find, as they were draining my energy--they covered my face and arms.

I awoke with the sound of intense fire. It was early morning and everything was obscured with ground fog. I realized that the battering of what seemed like a thousand automatic weapons was directed upwards into the fog toward the returning helicopters--they were continuing their search.

Visibility was about 10-15 meters and I decided it was an excellent time to move. I removed my clothing except for my white boxer trunks and sweatshirt and buried them. I could not remove my college ring to bury it even through I tried.

I headed toward the brighter haze indicating east and skirted any trees and villages. I hoped that I looked somewhat like a native. I elected to move in the day because I was becoming extremely weak. As I was passing a mound of dirt I noticed a trench and a hole in the mound. Inside, was a stack of AK-47s. I decided they were concealed here to be utilized only at night. Only 20-30 yards ahead an identical hole revealed ammunition in green rectangular boxes, very similar to the U.S. Army ammo boxes.

As the light increased I noticed I was walking parallel to what appeared to be a main trail or road, because many natives were already traversing that route.

A native, with a pole and two baskets, was coming in my direction. I hid in the leaves and as he passed by I considered killing him for his baskets. My existence depended on me looking like a native, but I had no weapon and I felt I didn't have the strength.

As the fog lifted I continued walking parallel to the trail and stayed far enough away to obscure my facial features from natives on the trail. I walked thusly for hours. Finally I realized I was in a valley directly between American fire-support bases.

I decided not to climb up the mountains for I understood the walls were likely to be heavily mined. Instead, since it appeared I might be in friendly territory, I elected to walk down the main trail.

Immediately I was recognized as being American, and a Popular Forces officer took me up an unmined trail to the top of the mountain, where an American sergeant called for a medivac chopper.

I learned later that I had traveled only five and a half kilometers in a period of 18 hours--a long way through my night of terror.

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Story #32 176 AHC BIRTHDAY, The Falcon, 16 CAG publication- Article provided by Les Hines, ADVA Vietnam historian.
Explanations of abbreviations, slang, and terminology can be found near the end of this document.



Happy birthday to the "Minutemen" of the 176th Assault Helicopter Company! Feb. 8, 1969, the 176th celebrated its second anniversary in Vietnam, and during the two-year period has built an excellent reputation as an aviation company.

The 176th Assault Helicopter Company arrived in-country on Feb. 8, 1967 at Tuy Hoa Air Force Base and was immediately transported five miles south to its new home at Phu Hiep. Once settled, the men who were to be chopper crewmembers began flying with other companies of the 14th Combat Aviation Battalion which provided the instruction in planning airmobile assaults, and aerial gunnery tactics.

On March 8, 1967, Lieutenant Colonel Harry McDaniel led the "Minutemen" on their first combat assault, and by Mar. 25, 1967, the 176th had flown 2200 sorties, over 600 combat hours, and was declared operationally ready.

The first operation was Beak Ma II, in which the "Minutemen" supported the 9th Republic of Korea "White Horse" Infantry Division, and then on to Operation Ojackyo and the Capitol ROK Infantry Division. During this operation the "Minutemen "trained five Korean aviators and familiarized them with the complexities of airmobile assault techniques.

Next came the 101st Airborne Division and Operation Malheur II, when the company was moved to Duc Pho. Upon the successful completion of Malheur II the "Minutemen" heli-lifted the 101st to the mountains and river valleys west of Quang Ngai in operation Hood River.

Following the completion of Hood River, the 176th Aviation Company began Operation Benton and again were moved, this time to Chu Lai, the headquarters of Task Force Oregon. After operation Benton it was back to Duc Pho for the 176th and Operations Raid and Cook.

In late November 1967 the 101st was withdrawn from the field and moved to Phan Rang, but this time without the 176th. The old 101st area was taken over by the 198th Light Infantry Brigade, which had recently arrived in-country, and the "Minutemen" were to support the new brigade, now part of the Americal Division.

In all, the "Minutemen" of the 176th have had an exciting two years in Vietnam and have had the privilege of working with two accomplished divisions in the U.S. Army.


Story 33"Who needs a sissy harness" By Larry Shatto
Explanations of abbreviations, slang, and terminology can be found near the end of this document.
 For those not familiar with how we moved around in the back of a Huey, we wore what we called a Monkey Harness that was secured to the aircraft floor. It had a strap that was strong enough (so they told us) that if you did fall out you would only fall a foot or two and with a little help you simply crawled back into the Aircraft.
 That was good for the slick crews because they had a few reasons to move around in the cargo compartment more than the gun crews did. Tending to WIA's, unloading supplies at a hover or tossing flares out (or RVN's in a hot LZ) required you to get out of the well and move about. You also had to supply your pilots with things like cigarettes, cold soda etc, etc, so you were always moving around.
 In a Charlie model gunship you could almost reach across to the other side and if you needed to do something for the pilots or move around in the back you were pretty much in the center of the aircraft. the few times I found myself outside in the wind was when I would actually freak a pilot out by handing him a cigarette thru his window while standing on the skid (but that's another story). Bottom line.. Us Gun guys don't need no frigging sissy harness right?  
 On this occasion it was a little different. We had launched out of Chu Lai on a Combat Assault with two light teams of Muskets to escort about ten Minutemen slicks into Happy Valley (there was nothing happy about that valley by the way). Everything was fine and dandy until we began our initial run which meant prepping the LZ before the slicks landed.
 We were the wing man in our fire team and flying 605 carrying the mini-gun and seven shot rocket pods. Lead rolls in and fires up the LZ and we follow him in to cover his break and to lay down a few rounds of our own. All very impressive and well coordinated,..... air speed, heading, altitude, cover fire on the break, spacing, then begin second run in as the slicks start their final approach .. 
 Now comes the fun part: but first a little information on the XM134 mini-gun subsystem. Two six barrel 7.62MM Gatling guns that fire something like 3,000 rounds a minute, fed from trays against the back wall of the cargo compartment. The ammo chute on the C.E.'s side runs over the rocket pod and connects to the bottom of the mini-gun. This connection is made with a couple of quick disconnect pins that hold the feeder delinker assembly to the gun. The feeder delinker feeds the rounds into the receiver as it removes the link that has held all the bullets together in one continues belt. Enough said, Y'all know this stuff anyway right?
 Here's where things got interesting, I noticed that after we pulled out of our first run that one of the QD pins had worked itself loose during the firing and was about to fall out. No pin means no feeder delinker, which means no bullets getting to the gun and that's never a good thing. Not a problem says the infamous CPT Mothersbaugh..."Shatto, why don't you just quickly crawl out there and reseat the QD pin while we're straight and level then we can start our second pass".
 Remember a couple of paragraphs back about sissy harnesses? 
I thought "WTF over" but then I had all the faith in the world in our pilot (still do BTW) so out I go feet on the edge of the airframe and knees tightly squeezing the pylon that holds the pods and mini gun mount as I reach under the gun to quickly (he said hurry!) reseat the QD pin and as I backed my somewhat nervous ass backwards into the cabin I heard a radio call none of us liked to hear.
"Lead we're taking fire from Three o'clock".
 Now I don't remember if we were in front of the slicks and decided to make a quick turn to come to their rescue or if we were right next to the flight and had turned to avoid having a midair but either way, in my mind, it was NOT the time to be executing any kind of turn, let alone a steep left bank.
 So now I'm looking straight down from three thousand feet and the only thing keeping me from getting Airborne qualified is how tight I hang on. I believe everyone on that mission (including the bad guys laughing their asses off) heard my polite request :censored: to level off so I can get back inside.  
 I sometimes wish I had taken pictures because I know that there has to be ten very deep gouges from my fingertips, two large dents in that pylon from my knees and ten holes in the airframe where my toes dug thru my boots and held onto the floor.
Lesson learned....Stay inside dummy!


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Story# 34 File this under the heading of "Truth is Stranger than Fiction" , contributed by Craig Thoricht.

The most bizarre memory I have of my military time was of a sunny, clear day on the flight line finishing up a 25 hour inspection.

I may have mentioned previously that the Army was very fanatical about helicopter maintenance. The work was based on flight hours and every 25 hours of flight time a certain sequence of events had to take place.At 25 hours one routine,at 50 hours a more involved plan was followed,then at 100 hours a very detailed schedule had to be followed.
The last item,however,regardless of hours, was to wheel the helicopter out to the flight line,flush out the engine with solvent-let the engine sit,then start the engine and flush again. Then all the air filters were replaced and we all went on the test flight.
This particular time my maintenance crew was assigned a "FNG". That is to say a Freaking new guy. Or words to that effect.
Anyway-Mr.FNG begged for the opportunity to be the guy up on top working the solvent pump. It was hot and we all wanted the job done so the crew leader had Mr.FNG go behind the hanger, fill the solvent pump from the marked barrel and bring it out to the flight line.
The pilot made sure all was clear-he pulled the circuit breakers for the ignitors to be sure the engine didn't start up,then he pulled the starter trigger on the collective stick and we all watched Mr.FNG joyously pump solvent into that Lycoming gas turbine engine. Mr.FNG was so proud of himself and we were glad he was having a good time.
After the proscribed time to wait for excess solvent to drain out of the engine the pilot once again made sure all was clear,he pushed in the ignitor circuit breaker then pulled the starter trigger.

Of course, a VERY LARGE EXPLOSION took place. A HUGE fireball went up.The "incoming" Sirens started blowing and generally all hell broke loose.
Mr.FNG was blown off the helicopter into the sandy area between the runways. Luckily he only singed his eyebrows and eyelashes. The pilot jumped clear and,like the rest of us hit the deck because we all figured that the best marksman of the NVA had just dropped a mortar round exactly on that helicopter at that particular second.
No more mortar rounds landed,but, by then the helicopter was burning furiously. The frame of a UH-1 helicopter is mostly magnesium and once lit up is almost impossible to extinguish.
Several minutes elapsed and more brass than I had seen my entire time in country showed up. The fire squad showed up,too, but all they could do was hose down the ashes. Parts of the tail boom and a few chunks of the main rotor blades were all that was left.
As memory serves, the First Sergeant was the one that made the discovery that the solvent pump didn't have solvent in it. It had AVGAS [military speak for 125 octane aviation gasoline]. There is a huge difference in the way each smells. Turns out that the solvent barrel and the AVGAS barrel were next to each other and,unfortunately,Mr. FNG had a reading problem.
Turns out that MR.FNG was an artillery guy and had been sent to our unit because we were short of bodies and some idiot in personnel figured a body was a body.
I felt bad for MrFNG because the First Sergeant Scrounged up a broom and,the last I saw of Mr.FNG was him on 12 hour a day guard duty of the latrine in the company area. He marched in circles around the latrine with that broom on his shoulder.

I couldn't possibly have made that up. I have a really good imagination,but not that good.

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Story #35 The Milk Run 11 NOV 1967 - By Al Gaither, Dave Sebright, and Jesse W. Myers, Jr., call sign "Satan", the CO of C Company 2/327, 101 Airborne: NO SLACK

Dave: It was a beautiful day to be a newly appointed Aircraft Commander in the176th Aviation Company. My assigned helicopter was UH-1D 65-10052 and my new call sign was Minuteman 17. I had been in country since the first of September and I had accumulated about 240 combat flying hours. I had been shot at, had my helicopter shot up, and had a few aircraft emergencies under my belt. I felt like I had the world by its gonads. Two months earlier I had joined up with the unit at Duc Pho and started flying support for the 1st Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division during Operation Cook in the mountains NW of Quang Ngai. On 11 September we airlifted the Screaming Eagles to the mountains NW of Tam Ky and just South of the Que Son Valley. At this time the 176th also relocated to Ky Ha on the North end of Chu Lai. Life had gotten better with real beds instead of cots, sea huts instead of tents, real food instead of whatever they were feeding us at Duc Pho, and enough Officer Clubs to keep us entertained. Life was good.

Al: I arrived in Cam Ranh Bay, Viet Nam reception center on 24 SEP 67, with flight school friend and fellow WO-1, Edward A. Fitzsimmons. The next day we were both assigned to Task Force Oregon, I Corps. The following day, 26 SEP, we boarded a UH-1D for a flight to Ky Ha, located at the North end of Chu Lai. We bunked at the 14th AVN BN Hq until the 29th, then we both were assigned to the 176 Assault Helicopter Co. Call signs for the unit were: Minuteman for slicks, Musket for the guns. I was further assigned to the 1st Platoon slicks. As an "FNG", when I drew my flight gear, the only chest protectors left on the shelf were size "Short - Small! Seemed about the size of a deck of cards! I made it my business for the next few months, to go to the supply room every time I knew of someone DROSing or being evacuated, to see if a bigger one was being turned in. I ended up with a X Long - X Large. Its weight put my legs to sleep, but when the "fit hit the shan" it felt good!

For the next month I flew missions as a Pilot, learning the trade. Most of the assignments were as a C and C,(command and control) where we landed at a field headquarters and picked up the Commander and or staff to fly over their AO, (area of operation), or the second type of mission which was "Utility". Utility ships had a variety of tasks, including delivery of troop replacements, food, water, medical supplies, ammunition, mail, medevac, and anything else a combat unit might need. These aircraft were also on call for CA, (combat assault) operations, where two or more ships, usually accompanied by UH-1 C gunships were used to infiltrate or exfiltrate troops into combat areas. On 11 NOV 67 I was assigned a mission to fly with AC (aircraft commander) WO-1 Dave Sebright on a utility mission for the 1st Brigade, 101st ABN Division.

Dave: The relationship between our air crews and the 1st Brigade combat units was very good. The Screaming Eagles were well trained and led, hard charging, and battle tested. There was not much that we would not do for these units, even if it meant stretching the safety envelope occasionally. We had seen a lot of battle with the 1st Brigade and they knew how to use their aviation assets.

On the 10th of November I was given our mission for the next morning. We were to fly resupply missions for the Brigade S4 to their subordinate units. We would pick up our loads at Chu Lai and Tam Ky and fly them to the various fire bases. This was a milk run mission flying from secure locations to other secure locations. There was not much chance of getting shot up and there should be plenty of flying to keep us busy. W01 Al "Gator" Gaither was my assigned pilot for the mission. Al had been assigned to the 176th since the 29th of September and was known to be a good pilot. We were both assigned to the 1st Flight Platoon (Slicks). Up to this day we had never flown together because until 8 November we were both pilots and had to fly with Aircraft Commanders. We were assigned my aircraft 052. Unfortunately neither one of us can remember the crew chief or gunner we were assigned that day.

On the morning of 11 November we performed our pre-flight inspection on 052, had a short briefing for the crew, then proceeded to fly to Tam Ky to the forward Brigade resupply pad. We started flying our resupply missions and had flown approximately three hours before we landed on LZ Center. There were Hueys parked all over the LZ, I later learned that there was a change of command going on for B Company 2-327 Inf. and that there were two Generals on the firebase. There were gunships shut down on the LZ which was very unusual. It seemed that the only open flat space left on the LZ  was the “No Slack” resupply pad that we had landed on. After we had landed one of the guys working the pad told us that they (2 Bn, 327th Inf) had a tactical emergency going on and asked us to shut down. The Bn S3 (Operations Officer) came to the pad and gave us a short operational briefing and asked us if we could make an emergency ammunition resupply to Charlie Company. The S3 told us that C Company was surrounded by NVA and they were running low on ammunition. The Battalion had requested gunships but none were available at that time (where did the General's gunship escort go?). It was apparent that C Company would need ammunition resupply shortly. The Milk Run was going sour.

We loaded up our slick with about 1,000 pounds of 5.56, 7.62, and 40mm. We stacked the ammunition cases along each side of the cargo compartment so that they could be pushed out rapidly. We asked for two volunteers to ride along with us to push the ammunition out. This would allow our crew chief and gunner to stay on their M-60s. We quickly had the two volunteers to ride along. Unfortunately we do not know their names, only that they were on the resupply pad. We are now waiting for a lull in the fire fight to deliver the ammunition. The waiting time gives us a chance to evaluate the situation. I knew that a high overhead approach was not going to be a good solution since we had no gunships. The best solution seemed to be to fly in low level and try to surprise the enemy on the way in. Coming out of the Company location was not going to be good no matter how we went in since they were surrounded. We had C Company pop smoke while we were still shut down on the resupply pad. We identified the smoke coming from an island of trees on the valley floor. It was several miles away. Al and I stood on the pad trying to pick out a route and identifying landmarks so that we could navigate in low level. This is not going to be easy as there are many small islands of trees on the valley floor. Soon someone came running down from the BTOC and told us that Charlie Company was out of 7.62 and 40mm and they had redistributed their 5.56. They were down to eleven rounds per man. It was time. I believe we had been on the pad about a half hour but it could have been longer or shorter.

Al fired up the L-11 turbine and brought it up to operating RPM while I got the radios on and tuned. I called C Company and told them our basic plan of coming in low level from the North and to be trying to hear and see us in case we needed a direction change. I took the controls and we lifted off LZ Center diving down the North mountain side to the valley floor. We can no longer see C Company's position and will not see it for a couple of more minutes. We cross over a small ridge flying about 5' AGL (above ground level) and a 100 knots. The trick now is to go to the right island of trees. We head West to a visible check point and turn South directly towards the LZ, I hope. Al and I are talking trying to identify the correct island of trees. We are about a mile out traveling over two miles a minute when the RTO hears us and finally sees us. We are headed directly in to the LZ. It is time to flare and decelerate. I stand 052 on its tail and drop down into a high hover in the tree tops. We are taking fire but the tree tops are helping. I feel Al lightly on the controls. As we are coming to a high hover the RTO tells us to kick the ammo out there.

Al: I could see several NVA scurry back and forth in the underbrush directly to our front not more than 75 to 100 feet away. I could hear rounds hitting the ship and then I saw one of the NVA sit down at the base of the palm tree to our right front. At that moment I thought "He is very close and he is not going to miss!" He began to fire his AK and I felt a burn on my leg and a spray of particles of plexiglass and aluminum hit my chin and lips. I was yelling into the intercom for the gunner on my side to get this guy, not realizing that one of his rounds had clipped my commo cord in half and no one could hear me. It looked to me that he fired several single rounds, and then went "guns-a-go-go" on full auto. Over the noise of the firing and engine, I could hear the ammo pushers and the crew in the back yelling "GO, GO!" Every warning light in the instrument panel that was still functioning was lit up, and because Dave wasn't answering me on intercom I was sure he was hit. It was time to move out! As I tried to expedite our departure, I felt resistance on the controls and felt the collective come up and the cyclic move forward I realized that Dave was OK, or at least was able to fly the ship. It wasn't until we landed at the firebase that I realized why I could not direct the gunners fire and that no one could hear me.

Dave: The two volunteers push all of the ammunition out in a few seconds. Our M-60s are laying down fire. The crew chief gives me the all clear and I take 052 to maximum power as I start a left turn directly towards LZ Center. We clear the trees while making our left turn and the NVA roll onto their backs and hose us down with small arms fire. The crew in the back have their M-60s laying down fire and both of the guys from the resupply pad are firing their M-16. They are hosing us down good with AKs. Bullets, shrapnel, and plexiglass are flying all over the cockpit and cargo compartment.
Suddenly I feel Al coming on the controls. I try to talk with him on the intercom to get him off them. He is not answering. I yell at him to get off the controls and he yells back that he thought I was hit since I did not answer him. His helmet communication cord has been shot in half right next to his neck. We are about two minutes out of the LZ and by now climbing out at 80 knots and all of the power 052 can muster. We have engine and transmission gages going wacko, warning lights coming on, and smoke coming from an electrical fire in the nose compartment. The smoke is minor and soon is gone. Some rounds had hit the wiring harnesses. I am communicating with the crew chief and gunner to see if they or the volunteers are injured. It appears no one has any major wounds. As we are on short final approach to LZ Center I smell the distinct smell of hydraulic oil burning on the engine. All is well though as we have power and controls. We land and shut down.

Soldiers from the 2d Bn, 2-327th Inf are all over the pad. Everyone is trying to talk at once. Someone from the BTOC is on the pad and I ask them to call the rear so that we can get a ride back to home base. 052 is peppered with bullet holes. Al has his helmet cord shot in half and his baseball cap that he had stored in a cubby hole behind his head had a bullet hole through it. One of the volunteers had his steel pot shot off from his head. He had his unread mail tucked in the helmet liner and was pissed that he had lost it. Shortly a slick comes in and gives us a ride back to Ky Ha. 052 will need a ride home by a CH-47 Chinook. Back at Ky Ha I head into operations to file a report and Al catches up with his Dad who had arrived in Viet Nam the same day. (Picture compliments of Pacific Stars and Stripes). Later I watch the Chinook bring in 052. At about 10 feet above the ramp 052 starts spinning and the hook pilot punches it off. It will be Jan of 68 before I get 052 out of maintenance. That night I catch up with Al and his Dad. Al is wearing his hat with the bullet hole in it.

Shortly after 11-Nov-67 Al went to the Muskets (Gunship Platoon). I don't believe that we ever flew slicks together again. If we did it would have probably only been for a check ride. Maybe once was enough!! 052 ended up having 28 bullet holes in her and numerous other holes from shrapnel. During the time that 052 was in maintenance for repairs I flew 054 until Bob Hartley and I flew 054 into a rice paddy, but that is another story for another time.

Dave Sebright, Minuteman 17
AL Gaither, Musket 10

Jesse W. Myers, Jr. continues The Milk Run story from his perspective.

Company C, 2
nd Battalion, 327th Infantry (Airborne)
November 11, 1967

The Mission
On November 6, 1967, Company C, 2-327th Infantry, along with the remainder of the Battalion made a helicopter assault into the Hiep Duc Valley, west of Tam Ky, RVN. The Battalion’s mission was to block exfiltration routes from the east heading west out of the valley.

The Situation
The next five days passed without major contact with the enemy although there were numerous signs, sightings, and reports of his presence in or passage through the area of operations. Late in the morning of November 11, Charlie Company deployed three of its four platoons in patrols using a cloverleaf pattern around the CP location. First, third, and fourth platoons dropped their rucksacks at the CP and second platoon remained with the CP as a reaction force and to secure the rucksacks. Company field strength was around 80 to 85 with nine troops in the CP and 18 to 20 in each platoon. Each platoon had two small rifle squads and two M60 machine gun teams. Third platoon and fourth platoon both quickly began seeing enemy signs such as a discarded uniform, black pajamas, bulk rice, and a VC id card.

The Battle
At approximately 1245 hours, the third platoon point man had a meeting engagement with three enemy soldiers. One NVA was killed, one was wounded and captured, and one fled. Third platoon pursued and encountered the main enemy perimeter. They attacked and penetrated the perimeter to what was evidently a command post in a hut. The platoon leader initially estimated there were 15 to 20 NVA soldiers. Subsequently, we determined there were many more--at least a company. Once third platoon had overrun the CP, the enemy reestablished the perimeter thereby surrounding the platoon. Shortly after penetrating the enemy perimeter, the platoon leader was seriously wounded by an NVA grenade. It was obvious that his wounds would impair his ability to direct and adjust artillery, gunships, and TAC air. Consequently, the CP with a point man borrowed from second platoon, began maneuvering to join up with third platoon to assume control of supporting fires.
As the CP neared third platoon’s location, the point man opened fire on three NVA who were positioned to ambush the unit. The point man shot one and the other two fled. Having penetrated the perimeter, the CP maneuvered left to join third platoon. As the CP neared the 2 third platoon location, they came under RPD fire from the left killing the artillery recon sergeant. The CP maneuvered past the RPD and linked up with the third platoon around 1400H.
Meanwhile, the first and fourth platoons were also on the move to link up with the CP and third platoon. First platoon arrived about 45 minutes later breaking through the western side of the NVA perimeter and linking up with our expanding C company perimeter. Fourth platoon linked up with the second platoon at the old CP location, policed up their individual rucksacks, and headed to the contact location with the second platoon minus three men who stayed behind to guard the remaining rucksacks. Fourth and second platoons crashed through the weakening NVA perimeter from the North and joined the rest of the company. Meanwhile, the battalion recon platoon (Hawks) linked up with the three troops from the second platoon to secure the remaining C company rucksacks.
By this time we had gunships and TAC air, each working in their turn, and we getting heavy fire from our DS 105 mm battery and a GS 155mm battery. We began running low on M16 and M60 ammunition and requested a resupply. We attempted to secure an LZ for the resupply chopper, but even after losing one man killed, we were only able to secure a small area for the landing leaving the approach unsecured. The resupply chopper was able to get in and kick out a few cases of ammunition, but was shot up coming in and going out. Those few cases of ammunition were vital as third platoon troopers were running low after fighting for about three hours. With those few cases of ammo plus redistribution of ammo from troops from the other platoons, we were able to get everyone up to a level where we could repel a substantial enemy attack. We also tried to get a medevac in, but the pilot aborted because the LZ approach was too hot.
The contact continued sporadically until after midnight. We were tied down with our wounded and KHAs that we couldn’t evacuate and the enemy commander was trying to withdraw with his wounded. I have always been convinced that the enemy commander probably overestimated our strength. First of all, it was obvious that we completely surprised him. He had no idea we were there, consequently, he had not been able to observe us and determine our strength. Second, the way the battle unfolded, with his unit getting attacked initially by third platoon, then from a slightly different direction by the CP group, followed by an assault by the first platoon from a third direction, culminating with an attack from another direction by the second and fourth platoons, he most certainly thought we were a much larger force.

The Aftermath
Around 1800 H, A company made an airmobile assault to set up a blocking position approximately 1500 meters to our west. We continued to employ artillery, helicopter flare ships, and C130 gunships until after midnight as we continued to receive sporadic probes and sniper fire. However, we received no further casualties from enemy fire.
As the morning of the 12th dawned, we were able to evacuate our wounded and dead. As we were preparing to move out, we had gunships hose down the area to our south in case there were any enemies remaining there. Unfortunately, one of the door gunners on the C model huey gunship became disoriented during a firing pass and hosed down the CP with his M60 wounding two more troopers. The gunship landed and medevaced the two troopers and C Company headed back to pick up their rucksacks.
Following the conclusion of the contact, information obtained from an A company POW confirmed the unit we were facing as the 40th battalion of the 1st VC regiment. According to the Brigade S2, the battalion had an estimated strength of 250. Immediate results of the contact were four friendly killed and five wounded plus two more wounded by the gunship. The NVA lost 14 killed by ground fire and one killed by air. One SKS, one RPD, and five AK47s were captured along with numerous rucksacks. Over the next three days, an additional 11 NVA bodies were discovered in graves and two wounded NVA were captured. Also, two additional SKS rifles and two additional AK47 assault rifles along with ammunition, magazines, rucksacks and grenades were captured. Other information included a FAC report of five NVA dragging a body down to the nearby river just south of the contact. Further, interrogation of a female civilian revealed that after the contact, three NVA with small arms had passed through heading east and that the village chief (who was VC) had fled across the river to the south. Finally, interrogation of a civilian in another nearby village said that a squad of NVA with small arms had stayed in the village the night of the 12th and left heading west.  

Larger Implications of the Battle
The 1st VC regiment was a battle hardened outfit. The regimental commander and all three battalion commanders were veterans of Dien Ben Phu. Operation Starlite in August, 1965 was the first major offensive regimental size action conducted by a purely U.S. military unit during the Vietnam War. U.S. forces involved included the 2/4th, 3/3rd, 1/7th, and 3/7th Marines. The opponent was the 1st VC regiment which then consisted of the 60th and 80th VC battalions. The 1st VC regiment suffered 600 plus killed and had nine prisoners taken. They also lost 109 weapons. The Marines suffered 54 killed and 203 wounded. They lost 22 tanks and PCs and 13 helicopters. The 1st VC regiment was a tough outfit. Later, the 40th battalion which was a local force battalion was added to the 1st VC regiment. Operation Starlite is covered in detail in The First Battle - Operation Starlite and the Beginning of the Blood Debt in Vietnam by Otto Lehrack.
Sometime prior to 1967, the 1st VC regiment, including the 40th VC battalion, was added to the 2nd NVA Division. During the period April, 1967, through early August, 1967, the 2nd NVA division was heavily engaged with the U.S. Marines in the Que Son Valley in I Corps. This battle is chronicled in Road of 10,000 Pains, The Destruction of the 2nd NVA Division by the U.S. Marines, 1967 also by Otto J. Lehrack. According to Mr. Lehrack, during the battle the U.S. Marines had over 600 men killed while the 2nd NVA division lost over 6,000. At any rate, the 2nd NVA division essentially disengaged, refitted, and came back down in August to disrupt the SVN national elections to be held on September 3 and to get control of the rice harvest. Following those actions, the 2nd NVA division was to head to Da Nang for the Tet Offensive. The Marines reengaged the 2nd NVA division disrupting their plans and inflicting more damage.
In August, the U.S. Army began replacing Marine units in the southern part of I Corps and the Marines began redirecting more of their effort to the Northern part of I Corps along the DMZ. Consequently, the Americal Division, including the 1st Brigade of the 101st, began assuming responsibility for the Que Son Valley and the 2nd NVA Division. The 2nd NVA Division had been badly beaten up by the Marines and 1st Brigade S2 put their strength at 4,500. Following the rice harvest, the 2nd NVA division would have been preparing for the Tet Offensive and their objective, the city of Da Nang. The 1st Brigade of the 101st killed 1105 enemy soldiers during engagements with the 2nd NVA Division plus capturing 186 individual weapons and 34 crew served weapons. That damage, combined with other inflicted by the sister brigades in the Americal Division, finished the 2nd NVA Division for the Tet Offensive. Once the Tet Offensive began, only one enemy rifle company was able to make it into the city. Thus Da Nang was saved from the death and destruction suffered by other major cities in South Vietnam and C Company and the 176th Assault Helicopter Company had a hand in it.

Jesse W. Myers, Jr.
C Company Commander

I have attached a copy of the only photo we can come up with from 11-11-67.  The wounded soldier in the picture is 1LT Mike McDermott, platoon leader of the third platoon which is the unit which initiated the contact and was involved in the heaviest fighting.  He tells me he thinks this photo was taken by a Pacific Stars and Stripes photographer who was traveling with his platoon.  Mike served four years in Vietnam and counts two DSC's and a Silver Star among his many decorations.  Among the many fine soldiers with whom I had the privilege of serving, Mike is the best combat soldier I have known.  If you are interested, he is the author of a great memoir , True Faith and Allegiance: An American Paratrooper and the 1972 Battle for An Loc .

As for the other photos you sent, I haven't found anyone who can identify the ADSOC troopers for you, but will keep trying.

No Slack

The action on 11 November 1967 resulted in the following award being presented to the Milk Run Platoon Leader that we resupplied, Lt.Michael A. McDermott
First Award) Citation:
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Michael A. McDermott (OF-109765), First Lieutenant (Infantry), U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam, while serving with Company C, 2d Battalion (Airborne), 327th Infantry, 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Airmobile). First Lieutenant McDermott distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions on 11 November 1967 while leading two rifle squads on a search and destroy operation near Chu Lai. The two squads were separated by two hundred meters when the point man in Lieutenant McDermott's squad surprised approximately fifteen North Vietnamese Army soldiers and opened fire on them. Lieutenant McDermott, realizing they had gained the initiative, immediately ran to the front of the squad and, disregarding the enemy fire, led his men as they chased the communists, personally killing two. Penetrating a North Vietnamese company command post, Lieutenant McDermott's aggressive action completely disrupted and disorganized the enemy troops, causing them to flee, leaving behind many of their weapons and equipment. Knowing that the approximately seventy North Vietnamese in the area would try to retake the position, he quickly called for his other squad to join him and organized a perimeter within the captured post. The enemy launched a fierce counterattack and Lieutenant McDermott was wounded by a hostile grenade, but refused medical treatment until after the aggressors had been repelled and a relief force arrived. Although painfully wounded, he left the medical holding area three times to direct his men in repelling enemy assaults. His fearless leadership, despite being vastly outnumbered, resulted in the complete rout of the communists. First Lieutenant McDermott's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army. Headquarters, US Army, Vietnam, General Orders No. 471 (February 11, 1969) Home Town:, South Dakota Other Award: Distinguished Service Cross w/OLC (Vietnam)

Pacific Statrs and Stripes photo of Steelworker Chief C.L. Gaither and WO Al Gaither
Steelworker Chief C.L. Gaither (WWII, Korea, Vietnam) and WO Al Gaither (with hole in hat) in front of 052
Damage done to bulkhead of 052 by AK47. The 2-237 ADSOC trooper standing outside the door was checking his M-79 after landing was one of the two men who pushed out the resupply.
The 2-237 ADSOC trooper telling his buddy about how he lost his mail stored in his helmet when it was shot off his head.
UH-1D 65-10052 "Old Patches"
UH-1D 65-10052 with WO Dave Sebright


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Index of Letters
July 10, 1967 - Please also say a prayer for the men on the ground fighting this war. Letter includes a record of the mission log from one of Max Mizejewski's missions.

October 1, 1970 - It started forty-eight hours ago and it looks like it's here to stay.

October 12, 1970 -Our company has moved to a new area.....while we were on a CA, one of our ships in the formation had a power failure with six troops on board.

Jan. 4, 1971 - As I was coming out, I started receiving fire.

January 24, 1971 - My peter pilot was a new guy and it was the first time that he'd ever been shot at.

March 22, 1971 - We sent twelve birds and forty-eight people to Quang Tri for three days for the big extraction (Lam Son 719). (A letter about the loss of the crew of UH-1H 68-15759)

June 5, 1971 - I sold all of my stereo equipment a few days ago...





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Notes have been added to provide additional information or clarity. Those notes are in italics. Explanations of abbreviations, slang, and terminology can be found near the end of this document.

July 10, 1967
(3 page letter home dated 10 JUL 67, to my wife.
Submitted by Max Mizejewski, Minuteman June & July 1967. The best damn days of my life!)

(page 1)
Dear Joey,
When you pray to God for me, please also say a prayer for the men on the ground fighting this war. I found out what war is like last night, and it is not a very pretty picture. I was on flare stand-by last night. (We have an A/C loaded with flares on parachutes and if anyone gets in trouble we fly around and give light to them) and all hell broke loose after 1900 hrs. Some of the artillery people spotted a large number of people (about 200) gathering in the rice patty's after dark (there is a 1900 hr. curfew) so they sent up 3 gun ships to take a look, using the light from our flare ship. Well no one could decide weather or not they were V.C. so 3 or 3 ½ hours later they called in a tank platoon (5 tanks). After that all the people disappeared and the tanks started back home, well on the way home one tank hit a mine buried in the sand along the beach. The tank burned completely! So we stayed on station until we ran out of fuel and another A/C took over. When we got back to Eagles Nest to re-load with flares, there was a call in that a platoon back in the hills needed help BAD. So we scrambled the A/C and got right back in the air. The platoon had come under small arms fire, hand grenades and mortar attack at about 0100 hrs., and everyone was wounded including the man who was talking on the radio to call in help. It is people like that man, who make you proud to be an American! He carried on after being shot at least 3 times because he knew that without his help no one would be able to find them. And you never heard about so many people working so hard to try to help this platoon. We stayed on station until the sun came up. It was a long night but it didn't seem too bad cuz when your helping to save someone's life you don't seem to tire very fast.
Love always,

(page 2)
I found out today that the guy who was on the radio all night and was shot up was only 19. They are putting him in for the award just under the C.M.H. He sure did an outstanding job. He brought the artillery to within 50 yards of the position, which is what saved them cuz they were about 150 to 300 V.C. against 30 men. Only 2 died, the rest are doing OK now. The artillery fired over 900 rounds in 4 hrs.!!! I understand a lot more about a lot of things due to that night.
I received a letter from my parents today also - so tell them I got it cuz I don't have time to answer it. Say Hi to all of them for me.
Tell me more about your job, what you are doing, who you are working for, etc.
Love always and forever,
P.S. we are going to have to have a business meeting soon, so get your notes straight.

(page 3)
First take off at 0630, 10 July 67

Sorties Pax Weight Mission Time
4 4 0 DCS
2 6 0 DCS
2 5 300 DCS 02:35
3 6 0 DCS
2 4 100 DCS
3 6 0 DCS 01:30
4 9 0 DCS
5 10 0 00:40
4 8 100 00:40
3 11 0
3 15 0 01:35
35 78 500 Total 7:00 hours

Flare ship 9:20 hours
Shut down at 0630 ??? 11 Jul 67

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October 1, 1970
Dear Folks, It started forty-eight hours ago and it looks like it's here to stay. I really don't know what to call it. The usual name is the monsoon season, but it's more like a typhoon. It has been raining, or rather the sky has been falling, for two days without stopping. The winds were 30mph almost all day today. I got scrambled for a tactical emergency, but the weather was so bad we were told not to go. The creek in back of the hootch (Charlie Brown Creek) became a raging river overnight. The bridge across it has been condemned because it's sagging. The hootch next to mine is three feet from being washed away.

Last night, sappers crawled through the wire into the perimeter. They didn't get a chance to do any damage, but they haven't been found and may still be inside the perimeter. They didn't get a chance to do any damage but they haven't been found and may still be inside.

One of the bunkers was washed under and collapsed last night. One of the three guys inside got a broken leg. Viet Nam is now one big lake with the mountains like islands. I've never seen so much rain. I don't have any dry clothes and both of my boots are soaked. Our hootches leak terribly and all the rats and roaches have come out to live in my bed. ~~~~~

I've made up my mind to do the best job that I can despite everything. It's the only way that I can get any satisfaction out of what I'm doing here. I try to look at it as a job and try to do my best. I get more disappointed every day because of all the med-evacs I have made lately, though. Today, four GIs drowned because of the monsoons. That's a hell of a way to go. I really pity the guys in the field. Their morale is low enough without things like this to make it worse.

Sometimes I feel ashamed of what I have. We aviators live in luxury compared to the guys in the field and the fire support bases. I know because I just got back from three days at a fire support base (FSB Dottie) a week ago. Here I am complaining about things, but I took a hot shower. I've got a bed, four walls and a roof. I don't have to sleep in the mud. ~~~~

I'd better close soon. The weather is slacking and I may get scrambled soon. It is supposed to break around 9:00 p.m. and it's close to that now. I hope that you're all doing well.

Lots of Love, ---- 279 Days

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October 12, 1970
Dear Folks, Our company has moved to a new area here at Chu Lai. It's really nice. We now live in air conditioned quonset huts. The huts are divided into four rooms. Two people live in each room. I'm living with Jeff Thommen, a good friend of mine. The rooms are about 12 x 30 and really nice. Jeff and I have real beds with springs now. I don't sleep on a piece of plywood anymore. We had to swipe the beds. They're hard to come by.

The mess hall is a lot better and I've been eating regular meals lately. It's surprising how much my stomach had shrunk. I bought a refrigerator and Jeff bought a TV. We have real sinks and toilets in the latrine. I still can't remember to flush the toilet. It's been a long time without one.

We're in the process of fixing the room up. We sectioned it off into two rooms. One is a bedroom and the other is for the TV, refrigerator and the bar that we're building.

I hear that Nixon is pushing for a cease fire here. I hate to see it in a way. It will be a good chance for the enemy to build up. We've been hurting their supplies lately and it's hard for them now that the monsoons are here. The highers are rationing our gunships on rockets now and that really hurts. You'd think that there isn't a war going on the way some people act who don't have to fight it. A lot depends on the gunships. They save a lot of lives with their firepower.

Yesterday, while we were on a CA, one of our ships (Editors note:actually a Dolphin, 174th AHC) in the formation had a power failure with six troops on board. We were at low altitude, but the pilot landed the aircraft safely without power. Unfortunately, one of the grunts figured that he could fly better than the aircraft and jumped out at about twenty feet. He was seriously injured. The lead ship broke off and dropped off his troops to secure the aircraft. He picked up the downed crew and the injured grunt. They carried him to an aid station but there, they decided that he needed a hospital. Someone threw the grunt's rifle back on board and it went off killing the peter pilot. We were in the process of attacking a platoon of NVA and because of the mishaps only five of them were killed. The gunships got them.
Click here for more about the loss of Dolphin pilot CW2 Peter R. Goodnight

I didn't get the LOH transition that came down. It went to another section. I expect to get the next one though. (Editor's note: That LOH transition went to Philip "Gooch" Eugene Richard, Minuteman 29. One day in a LOH, Gooch took multiple hits at one time,several in the chicken plate. Several weeks later he had an engine failure, crashed, and died the next day from burns over 90% of his body.) ~~~~

I've really found out how to enjoy myself here. I don't like being here, but I keep remembering that you always told me to make the best of a bad situation. Always try to be the best. Well, I may not be the best, but I try harder. A job well done means a lot of personal satisfaction and that's about all that you can get in a war like this. I try to do more than expected no matter what type of mission that I get. Some of the things that I do scare me later, but that is why the Army chooses people my age to be helicopter pilots. Even the Marines admit that we're the best. Sometimes we really hang it out, but we have to live up to our image. That's all we have to live up to.

I don't like the killing, but I've gotten used to it now. The war here is really odd though. The morale is terrible. We aren't just fighting the VC and NVA. We're having to fight for the American image. We have to fight the crazy politicians an the people who don't realize what the war is like here. It's such a big farce that it's sickening. People try to say that we're fighting for world freedom and peace, but it's all a big lie. The politicians can make all the fancy statements that they want to. I'll tell you how we feel. We aren't fighting for the freedom or for the United States. We're fighting for our lives.

Write as often as you can- I miss you both. Love, ----

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Jan. 4, 1971
Dear Folks, You should get a call from ---- about me, but in case you don't I'm going to write you also. First of all, I'm fine. I feel great and there's nothing wrong with me. I'm in the hospital and have been since I was shot Dec 31. I went into a hot LZ on a resupply mission. As I was coming out, I started receiving fire. I took one hit out of about fifteen that were fired. I must be the luckiest guy in the world because all that it did was cut through the left cheek of my butt. I guess that I'll never live it down. It's sort of funny getting shot in the ass.

I should get stitched up today and be out of here in two or three days. I'll be back flying as soon a I can sit down long enough. The next time that I fly though, I'll be flying gunships. I was supposed to start flying guns two days ago, but now it will be quite a while.

I don't want y'all to worry about me. I've got a nice size (extra) hole in my butt, but it shouldn't be too bad after it's sewn up. It will probably never even show with a bathing suit on. The only thing that will show are the two holes in the back of my leg where the docs dug out some shrapnel. To go along with the scar a souvenirs of Viet Nam, I also have the bullet all in one piece (AK47) and a purple heart presented to me by a general.

I still can't get over how lucky I am. It was a clean flesh wound. It could have been a lot worse because it missed my family jewels by about a half inch.

I hope that you all had a nice Christmas. I lucked out and was over hours Christmas, so I got to sleep all day. I enjoyed all the packages from everyone.

I had a letter in my briefcase in the aircraft the day that I was shot. It was for y'all and it had a check for the roses in it. I don't know where the letter is, but I asked a buddy to find it and mail it for me. Let me know if you get it.

I'm still waiting to hear if we're going to get drops. I'll have six months in country in three more days. I miss you all and I'll be glad when I'm back home. I'll close for now so that I can mail this letter. Love, ----

P.S. A pilot that gets his aircraft shot up often is referred to as a "magnet ass". I'm told now that I'm the true "magnet ass".

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January 24, 1971
Dear Folks, I received two letters from you today. I was relieved to hear that you had finally received my letters.

My rump is almost healed now. I can sit down for short periods of time in a soft chair. It's still rather uncomfortable. I didn't try to make you think that I was hurt less than what I was. It wasn't a serious wound. It put me out of commission as a pilot because I do my work sitting down. The wound looked bad but wasn't. The reason for leaving it open for five days was to see if infection was going to set in. That's normal procedure for bullet or shrapnel wounds. Now that I'm sewn up and healed, there's nothing but three scars. The two small holes in the back of my leg required three stitches apiece and the one on my butt required seventeen.

As to what happened to the aircraft, we started taking fire just as we were leaving a unit in the field. I started evading maneuvers and got hit a few seconds later. The pain and shock made me lose control and we almost crashed.

My peter pilot was a new guy and it was the first time that he'd ever been shot at. As soon as I got hit, I told him to take the controls. He was so scared that I had to scream at him twice more before he would take it. While I was trying to find out how bad I was hit and if everyone else was okay, he climbed out and headed west. It just so happened that Chu Lai and the hospital was to the east. This made me mad, so I had the gunner (Tyree) (a friend of mine who knew his way around) instruct the pilot how to get us back while I made radio calls. If I had been unconscious, we may never have made it back. I had to talk (on the radio) almost constantly all the way back in.

Before I was halfway back though, I had two ships inbound and one escorting me back. It's nice to have buddies to fly out and make sure that you make it back. It's a standard practice that if one aircraft gets in trouble everyone else diverts to help him. I expected to make it back okay and I did, but one thing really made me feel good. I had a good buddy who's call sign was Minuteman 29. We had an agreement that if he ever got in trouble he'd holler for me and if I ever got in trouble, I holler for him. He (Philip "Gooch" Eugene Richard ) went to another company to fly LOHs and got killed. After that, I made the same agreement with another friend, Minuteman 0 (Larry P.Warrick).

When I got hit, I couldn't contact my control, so I called for any Minuteman aircraft. Minuteman Zero was in operations and heard me on the radio. He jumped in his bird with his crew and come out to get me. It was great to hear him call me and say "Two-seven, this is Zero, where are you Buddy? I'm coming to get you". Aviators have to be some of the best guys in the world.

By the way, I just remembered Zero got shot down yesterday but no one was hurt. He was about five miles north of where I got shot. Since I got shot, there has been a lot of activity in that area. The resupply mission out there has become known as the "Death Mission". It doesn't help much because in another week or so I'll be back out there flying it. Thank goodness I've only got about a month until R & R.

See you in 164 days. Love, ----
Note: The author of this letter regrets that he failed to thank the FNG Lieutenant for taking the controls and saving everyone's life. THANKS! Hudon.

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March 22, 1971
Dear Folks, I'm flying regularly again now. I've got my own mission and my own aircraft and I fly both almost every day. It's nice to have a VIP mission instead of flying resupply every day as I was before I got hit. I was flying over four hours a day regularly even though I wasn't supposed to because I thought that I would try to do everyone a favor. ~~~~~

We sent twelve birds and forty-eight people to Quang Tri for three days for the big extraction (Lam Son 719). My best friend (Reg Cleve) had to go and I'm worried about him. He has less than two months left. So far I don't think we've (176th AHC) even had any birds damaged. Of all the aircraft on the extraction the first day, thirty were damaged and six shot down with sixteen people (pilots and crew members) missing to dead.

~~Some of this letter is omitted due to the personal nature of the writing.~~

I'd better close now. It's getting time to go to bed. Tell all the folks hello for me. I miss everyone. Thanks again for the package. Love, ---- 109 DAYS! DEROS-ETS

(Editors note: The body of this letter was written in cursive, and the following page was printed.)

I was just informed that the only true friend (Reg) that I have ever had along with his entire crew were hit with 37mm anti-aircraft fire and the ship exploded in midair. The crew chief was also a close friend of mine. He used to be my crew chief.

Reg for some unknown reason asked me before he left to write his wife and be his body escort if he were killed. There isn't a body left as far as they know. How can it be true? I loved him like a brother. This must be the most horrible day of my life.
Editors note: The Army listed as MIA on 22 MAR 71: Reginald D. Cleve, John G. Traver III, Donald P. Knutsen, and Walter R. Hall. Their status was eventually changed to KIA. They are greatly missed.

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Saturday- June 5, 1971
Dearest Mother & Dad,

Well, here I am writing to ya'll again! It was really great talking to you on the telephone. I could hear every word you said, except about the last 30 seconds you started fading away. O-well, at least we got to hear each others voice. It sure is nice that they have this setup over here. I usually try calling ya'll every other Monday morning, which is every other Sunday night for ya'll. I've tried calling ya'll about five times and got you twice. Most likely I'll be calling ya'll on Sunday night the 13th (your time). So try to be home.

I sold all of my stereo equipment a few days ago to one of the guys in the company. I paid $173.00 for it, and sold it for $170.00. It had a lot of use on it (several guys had it before me) plus this Vietnam sand and weather ruins them. Tomorrow I'm sending off for a real nice outfit, a lot better than the one I had. I'm buying it through "PACEX," which is a mail order set up. It is only for servicemen and I'm having it sent straight home. Ya'll should be getting it in about a month or so. I can hardly wait to get home and play the little devil.

It sure is going to be weird, me being back home again! From the way Gary Moody talks, Pasadena has really changed in the last year. I am really looking forward to coming home, in fact it is on my mind just about all the time. I now only have 52 more days, of course I keep very close count! Ha.
It seems like the days are starting to slow down a bit, that is they are not passing by fast enough. Only 7 weeks to go which really doesn't sound to bad compared to 52 when I first got over here.

Well, I'm out of words, so I'll close for now. Be real good and write soon. Bye.
love always,



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Index Of Documents
Document #1 - Congratulations! You Are On Your Way Home. Contributed by Brian Elliott
Document #2 - Award of Air Medal With "V" Device (Second Award).
Document #3 - Award of the Distinguished Service Cross to Major Charles Kettles

Document #1


During the past few moments you have been clearing the AG outprocessing team.
If you are an E7, E8 or E9, you will handcarry your records and MTA to the Chu Lai terminal to report for your flight reservations.  All senior NCO's are permitted to make flight reservations 6 days prior to departure date.
If you are an E1 through E6 you should call the Chu Lai Terminal after you have completed outprocessing.  You will also handcarry your records with you.  You MTA (Military Travel Authorization) will be waiting for you at the air terminal.  For reservations call:  Chu Lai 3710.  (Everyone should be at the terminal NLT 0700 hours the following morning.)
Before boarding the plane you will be required to have the following items:
  1. Trim haircut, sideburns, (moustache, if applicable)
  2. Clean uniform with appropriate insignias.
  3. Clean polished boots.
  4. I.D. card, MAVC 5 card, and dog tags.
  5. Personal baggage and "DON'T FORGET YOUR 201 FILE"
Within the next 24 hours you should be leaving Chu Lai.  After that home is about 3 days and 10,000 miles away.


At the Returnee Detachment you will convert you MPC to U.S. currency.  To convert up to $200.00 MPC, all you need is your I.D. card and MACV 5 card.
To convert any amount over $200.00 MPC you must have a COMMANDERS CERTIFICATE, I.D. CARD, MACV 5 CARD.  COMMANDERS CERTIFICATES ARE OBTAINABLE FROM YOUR UNIT COMMANDER.  Don't leave Chu Lai without a COMMANDERS CERTIFICATE if you plan to convert more than $200.00 MPC.


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Document #2


Headquarters, Americal Division
APO San Francisco 96374

NUMBER          7385

27 June 1970


TC 439. The following AWARD is announced.
176th Aviation Company, 14th Combat Aviation Battalion APO 96374
Awarded: Air Medal with "V" Device (Second Award)
Date Of Service: 17 March 1970
Theater: Republic of Vietnam
Authority: By direction of the President under the provisions of Executive Order 9158, 11 May 1942, as amended by Executive Order 9242-A, 11 September 1942.
Reason: For heroism while participating in aerial flight in the Republic of Vietnam. Private Ramsey distinguished himself by valorous actions on 17 March 1970 while serving as a Door Gunner with the 176th Aviation Company. On that date, Private Ramsey was a member of an emergency resupply mission for friendly forces operating northwest of Landing Zone Stinson. As his aircraft approached the landing zone it came under intense enemy fire. Responding immediately to the urgency of the situation, Private Ramsey placed highly effective suppressive fire on the insurgents, allowing the supplies to be unloaded. As the aircraft began to leave the area, it was again engaged by hostile fire. Ignoring the danger involved, Private Ramsey repeatedly exposed himself to silence the enemy and provide maximum security for his comrades on the ground. When supporting gunships arrived in the area, he was instrumental in directing their attack on the enemy emplacements. Through his timely actions, Private Ramsey was instrumental in the success of the mission and the subsequent defeat of the enemy. Private Ramsey's personal heroism, professional competence, and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service, and reflect great credit upon himself, the Americal Division, and the United States Army.
signature of
Mark B Reasor

Colonel, GS
Chief of Staff

Asst AG


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Document #3  

APO San Francisco 96375

GENERAL ORDERS                                                      9 MARCH 1968
 NUMBER 1049                                                                                          




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Glossary of Terms and Abbreviations

1LT - First Lieutenant

27th Surg - The 27th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH)

2LT - Second Lieutenant

91st - the 91st Evacuation Hospital

A Shau or A Shau Valley - a region in Thua Thien Province of I Corps roughly west of Da Nang that was a major branch off the Ho Chi Minh Trail

A/C - aircraft

A1E - a propeller-driven bomber capable of heavy loads and close support for ground troops

AAA - anti-aircraft artillery

AC - aircraft commander

AF - Air Force

AHC - assault helicopter company

AK47 7062 millimeter (.30 caliber) infantry assault weapon produced by the Soviet Union and China

Americal - 23rd Infantry Division

Ammo - ammunition

AO - area of operation

APC - armored personnel carrier

Apple - a green smoke grenade

ARA - aerial rocket artillery

ARCOM - Army Commendation Medal

ARVN - Army of the Republic of Vietnam

Ash and Trash - helicopter re-supply mission or what is carried on that mission , also Ass and Trash

ASHC - assault support helicopter company, mainly consisting of heavy lift helicopters.

Ass and Trash - helicopter resupply mission or what is carried on that mission, men and supplies

B40 - a shoulder fired rocket launcher also known as an RPG

B52 - a heavy strategic bomber

Banana - a yellow smoke grenade

Battalion - an organizational institution usually comprised of 400-900 men and commanded by a lieutenant colonel

Bird - an aircraft, usually helicopter or light fixed wing

Blivet - a transportable heavy rubber fuel bladder

Bn - Battalion

Body Bag - a plastic bag used to transport bodies

Booby Trap - a mine or concealed explosive device usually triggered by pressure or a trip device

Brass - brass casings from expended ammunition. Also refers to higher echelon commanders

Break Squelch - to press and release the transmit button of a radio without transmitting, causing an audible click on a radio frequency. Normally performed in two two consecutive clicks as an acknowledgement to a radio transmission.

Brigade - a basic military organizational unit made up of battalions and smaller than a division and usually commanded by a colonel

Bronco - OV-10 aircraft used mostly by Air Force forward air controllers

C&C - command and control, also known as Charlie Charlie

C-4 - plastic explosive

CA - combat assault

Call sign - a pilot identification name for radio transmissions

Capt - Captain

CE - crew engineer/crew chief

Charlie, Charles, Chuck, Victor Charles - Vietcong or VC

Cherry - a red smoke grenade usually designating the presence of the enemy or a new troop replacement

Chicken plate - A hard armored vest - chest protector worn by helicopter crewman

Chieu Hoi - a program offered by the Government of South Vietnam which offered amnesty to Vietcong defectors. Literally means open arms.

Chinook - CH-47 Chinook, a twin engine, twin rotor heavy lift helicopter

Chopper - helicopter

CIB - Combat Infantry Badge. An award presented to individuals with an infantry MOS for service in combat

Claymore - an anti-personnel mine used primarily by US troops which could be triggered by a command device or trip wire

CO - commanding officer

Co - company

Cobra - an attack helicopter designated AH-1, also known as a "Snake"

Cold LZ - A landing zone that had not received enemy fire for a specified period of time

Company - an organizational institution usually consisting of two or more platoons and usually commanded by a captain

Cong Bo - a water buffalo, an oxen-like animal used primarily for farming. The Vietnamese tractor

CONUS - continental United States

Corps - two or more divisions responsible for the defense of a region, used loosely to refer to that region

CP - command post

CPT - Captain

Crew Chief - aircraft crew member responsible for performing daily maintenance and loading,. Often responsible for a weapons position on the aircraft. Also know as the CE

CW1,2,3,4,5 - Chief Warrant Officer grades

CWO - Chief Warrant Officer

Cyclic - A helicopter control that changes the plane of the rotor blades

Cyclo - a human-powered three wheeled cycle with a passenger seat in front

DEROS - Date of Estimated Return from Over Seas

Deuce and a Half - a 2.5 ton truck

DG - door gunner

Di Di or Di Di Mau - to move quickly

Di Wee - captain

Dink - slang for Vietnamese persons

Dinky Dau - Vietnamese term for "crazy", actually dien cai dau

Div - Division

Div Arty - Division Artillery

DMZ - demilitarized zone

DOC - the name generally used when speaking to or about an enlisted combat medic

Door Gunner - aircraft crew member who mans a gun while sitting at an open door

E&E - Escape and evade

Elephant Grass - a tall grass with very sharp edges found mainly in the highland regions

EM - enlisted men

ETS - Estimated Time of Separation (from military service)

F-100 - close troop support fighter jet

F4 Phantom - a twin engine tactical fighter-bomber

FAC - Forward Air Controller

First Flight - 1st platoon in an aviation unit

Flare mission - night mission requiring the dropping of magnesium illumination flares

FM - Frequency Modulated- radio frequencies used for short distance, line of sight transmissions

FNG - New guy having recently arrived in Vietnam, f___ing new guy

FO - forward observer

Frag - fragmentary grenade

Free 60 - an un-mounted M-60 machine gun

FSB - artillery fire support base

FU Lizard - the f_ _ k you lizard, occasionally known as the insulting lizard, was named for his insulting call. 

Go around - to abort the landing attempt and try again

Gooks - derogatory slang term for Asians originated in Korea

Grape - a purple smoke grenade

Grunts - infantry troops

Guard - emergency frequency, usually (UHF) 243.0,. also 121.5 on VHF, or 60.75 on FM.

Guns - helicopter gunships

GVN - Government of South Vietnam

HE - high explosive

High and hot - An approach to landing with too steep of an angle and too much airspeed

High overhead approach - A tight spiraling descent into a landing area

Hit - Struck by a bullet or shrapnel

Hootch - house or quarters

Hot - Under enemy fire or having been under enemy fire within a specified period of time

Hover hole - A tiny landing zone in the trees accessed only with vertical hovering

Huey - a UH-1 helicopter originally designated HU-1

Hump - walk or patrol on foot

Hunter/Stewart - A base combination of Army airfield, artillery and mechanized infantry near Savannah, GA

I&I - intercourse and intoxication, a slang take-off of R&R- rest & recuperation

IP - instructor pilot or initial point (navigational term)

Insulting lizard - More commonly known as the FU lizard, was named for his insulting call. 

Jolly Green Giant or Jolly Green - HH-53 heavy helicopter primarily used by the Air Force for air crew rescue

K - abbreviation for kilometer

KIA - Killed in action

Klick - slang for kilometer

LAW - light anti-tank weapon

Lifer - a career soldier

LOH - Light observation helicopter, pronounced loach

Low level - technically, low level is flight conducted 1,500 feet or less above the ground

Low level hell - low level flight conducted at extreme close proximity to the ground

LRDB - little round dink boat, a small round fishing boat

LRP, LRRP, LURP - long range reconnaissance patrol

LT - lieutenant

LZ - landing zone

M1 - a .30 caliber carbine

M14 - a semi-automatic 7.62mm assault rifle convertible to automatic

M16 - a select-fire semi-automatic or automatic 5.56mm assault rifle

M60 - a 7.62mm machine gun also known as a "Pig"

M79 - a single barrel 40mm grenade launcher also known as a "thump gun"

MACV - Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, in charge of the advisory groups

MAJ - Major

Mama-san - an adult Vietnamese woman

Manor - the home base of the 176th AHC

MIA - missing in action

MIG - a Soviet jet fighter, actually MiG

Mike - slang for minute

Mike-Mike - millimeters

MM - millimeter

MM-0 - Radio call sign Minuteman 0

MOS - military occupational specialty

MPC - military payment certificates

Musket - a 176th AHC helicopter gunship or crew member

Nails - anti-personnel rocket warhead also called flechettes. The warhead contained numerous small finned metal darts similar to nails

Napalm - an incendiary bomb

NCO - non-commissioned officer

Newbie - a person new to Vietnam

Nuc - water

Nuoc mam - a pungent sauce made from fermented fish

NVA - North Vietnamese Army

PACEX - Pacific Exchange, on-post store

Papa-san - an elderly Vietnamese man

Peter pilot - pilot, or co-pilot of a helicopter, designated as P in a flight log

Pin - retaining pin

Platoon - an organizational unit made up of approximately 45 men

Point or Point Man - the lead soldier of an infantry patrol

POW - prisoner of war

PP - peter pilot

PRC-25 - a lightweight (relatively) FM field radio

PUSH - any radio frequency

PVT - private

Quad 50 - an electrically operated, four barreled, turreted, .50 caliber anti-aircraft weapon usually mounted on a truck.

R&R - rest & recuperation

Recon - reconnaissance

REMF - rear echelon mother f----er or a soldier working in a rear unit

ROK Marine - Korean troops

RPD - NVA/VC light machine gun

RPG - rocket propelled grenade or B40

RTO - radio telephone operator

RVN - Republic of Vietnam

Sapper - A Viet Cong or North Vietnamese elite troop specialized in perimeter infiltration

SF - Special Forces

SGT - sergeant

Shithook - a CH-47 Chinook helicopter

Short, Short Timer - an individual with only a few days left in Vietnam

Slick - slick sided UH-1 cargo helicopter, as opposed to a UH-1C gunship with side mounted armament

Slope - a slang term for any Asian

Smoke - A smoke grenade

Snake - an AH-1 Cobra helicopter

SOG - Studies and Observations Group

Sorties - aircraft combat missions

SP - Specialist; SP4, SP5

Steel pot - metal combat helmet

STOL - short takeoff and landing aircraft

UH1-H - A particular model of Bell helicopter also known as a Huey

UHF- Ultra high frequency radio. Frequencies most commonly used for military base to air communications

USARV - United States Army, Vietnam

VC - vietcong

VHCMA - Vietnam Helicopter Crew Members Association

VHF- Very high frequency radio. Frequencies commonly used for air to air transmissions

VHPA - Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association

Victor Charlie - Vietcong

Ville - village

WIA - wounded in action

Willie Pete - white phosphorous

Wing man - the second aircraft in a team of two, not the lead aircraft

WO - Warrant Officer

XO - executive officer


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