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RECOVERIES NEAR QUANG NGAI— 27 April to 3 May
Old 10-19-2019, 05:24 AM   #194
JOHN JONES
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Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: ENGLAND
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Default RECOVERIES NEAR QUANG NGAI— 27 April to 3 May

Thank You Dragnet.
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Some more neat information has come forward, post 140 relates.
John
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"During sustained operations covering a six day period, personnel from the 339th Trans Co successfully recovered four crash damaged UH - 1B helicopters and one L- 19 reconnaissance aircraft form the combat assault areas in Quang Ngai and Kontum Provinces. A total of ten aircraft crashed during the operations — the biggest loss to date in the history of the United States participationin the war in Vietnam. In addition to crashed US Army aircraft, three Marine CH- 34 helicopters, one Vietnamese CH - 34 helicopter, and one Vietnamese AD - 6 fighter plane crashed. The first day of the assault, 27 April, two UH- 1B’s crashed in the assault landing area. Within a few hours after the assault had begun, a recovery crew from the 339th Trans Co was sent into the area. In less than seven hours, the crew, consisting of S/Sgt CecilKeith, S/Sgt Richard Elam, SP/5 Manuel Galvan, Sp/5 Carmel Cantrell, SP/4 Anthony Mayo, and SP/4 William Reed had completed the operation. Flying a CH - 37, Captain Frank Mariano and CWO Raymond V. Semora sling loaded the wreckage to Quang Ngai. During the operation the “37” was hit four times by Viet Cong ground fire approximately 75 yards from the crash site. The recovery crew had also been under fire from the Viet Cong snipers during the entire operation. However, the “37” pilots only narrowly escaped injury when bullets passed within eight inches of their heads, and the recovery crew sustained no casualties.Two days later, two more UH- 1B’s crashed in the same area, and the same recovery crew went in to remove the wreckage. One UH- 1B belonging to the 117th Air Mobile Company had crashed on top of a hill above the landing area. Immediately after the crash the Viet Cong opened fire on the helicopter from a hill bordering the south edge of the landing zone. One ARVN soldier, who was riding in the helicopter was killed and the helicopter was hit 11 times in the ensuing fire fight. Because the hill had not been secured, the recovery team worked quickly and had the UH- 1B ready for sling load in 1½ hours. As the “37” began to climb from the area with the sling load, and at the same spot it had been hit two days before, it received five more hits. The number two engine was hit three times. Despite losing five gallons of engine oil and the danger of fire, the pilots, Captain Mariano and CWO Semora successfully reached Quang Ngai with the sling load. There was a total of thirty six holes in the “37” from bullets and shrapnel, and the engine had to be repaired and a main rotor blade replaced, rendering the “37” unflyable for two days. Meanwhile, the recovery team had begun work on the second crashed UH- 1B that had gone down 50 yards west of the landing zone. As the recovery crew worked, the Viet Cong began to slowly close in on them from the east and south. Armed UH 1B’s from the 117th Air Mobile Company began making contour strafing and rocket attacks on the Viet Cong positions only 75 yards from where the recovery crew worked. The recovery crew returned fire at the Viet Cong positions which had been betrayed by the muzzle flashes of their weapons as they fired at the armed helicopters overhead.Upon hearing of the on going situation CWO Harry L. Smith, Maintenance Officer of the 339th, hurriedly returned to the area and airlifted the recovery crew to safety. The crashed UH- 1B was destroyed to prevent it from falling into Viet Cong hands. In follow up operations, the 339th recovery team changed an engine at the staging area on a UH- 1B that had been hit seven times in the operation, while a fixed wing crew recovered a crashed L- 19 that had been shot down by the Viet Cong ground fire.Captain Mariano and CWO Semora were decorated with Distinguished Flying Crosses at Nha Trang by Maj Gen Dalk M. Oden for the valor they displayed during the operations."
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