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Indo China Wars 1945 - 1975. Covering, French Indo China, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, etc.

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Did not make it home.
Old 07-13-2019, 06:38 AM   #181
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Default Did not make it home.

"CH-37A model 55-0611 “Ferdinan” of the 611th in the war, in a nice hover. This was in the late 1950’s.
She then went back through the Sikorsky plant, where they moved the horizontal stabilizer from the lower aft fuselage up to the top of the vertical fin across from the tail rotor. And some other flight control improvements, making her the CH-37B that ended up with the 611th, and was the one that was dropped alongside of the ship while being loaded for the trip back to CONUS."
Scott
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Old 07-13-2019, 08:27 AM   #182
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Amazing thread, thank you!!
__________________
When you go home
Tell them for us and say
For your tomorrow
We gave our today

--Inscription in the 5th Marine Division cemetery,
Iwo Jima 1945
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Recording History
Old 08-03-2019, 10:08 AM   #183
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Spotted this item on Ebay, confirmed with Bill Mullen (one the 8 original pilots
that took this units Det to Vietnam from KOREA) that he knew this guy.
He was not one of the 8 who shipped over and Bill has the same type of plaque
above his fireplace. So for a modest cost, this item has been donated to the
Fort Eustis Transportation museum. John.
---------------------------


"This digging up of history is a continuing process for sure John!
During Mike’s interview with Moon, Moon mentioned that he had flown the first CH-37 that had arrived at the docks in Saigon down to Vung Tau in late May of 1963, not mid-June that Ralph Young had in his book. The .5 hr. entry with one landing would confirm that flight.
Here is proof of that flight. I will change all of the dates of the 19th’s arrival based on this official flight record".


Cool!! Scott
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Vietnam Helicoptor Pilots Association
Old 09-08-2019, 12:16 PM   #184
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Default Vietnam Helicoptor Pilots Association

I am pleased to announce, we have taken a major leap forward in achieving
Scotts aim, to highlight the CH37's service in Vietnam, to the wider USA
Aviation community. Our small localised work of 12 months ago, has been
chosen by the VHPA, to feature in their 2019 membership directory.
Tireless work by Scott, to reformat and timeline our original document, has
produced a 160 page history, he can be proud of. This work will shorlty be
delivered to an estimated 7000 + active membership, with copies also slated for
many major Aviation museums within CONUS, as well as selected Vietnam Archives.
On the back of this, several face to face and telephone interviews with surviving
veterans, have been conducted in the last few months. I will feature selected parts
and additional images, on this thread, in the near future.
John.
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339th TC
Old 09-08-2019, 03:15 PM   #185
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A story from CWO4 Ted Jenkins, who was a CH- 37 pilot with the 339th

“Before Cam Rahn Bay became Cam Rahn Bay as we knew it later, it was just a short PSP airstrip that a Caribou could get on and of course, helicopters. Cam Rahn was filled with wildlife. We would take a CH - 37 down there and hover over the tall brush and flush out wild boar and deer and our Huey with a crewman with an M14 would nail them. Wild boar is delicious. We also got a deer which seemed as big as a horse. We would take them back to the Nha Trang and CW2 Jess Gossage our resident rancher/farmer would dress them. But I’m off the subject. George Ellis and I drew a mission to fly about ten high ranking Air Force officers, MAJs, LTCs, and COLs to Cam Rahn for their initial survey of Cam Rahn while it still looked like a jungle. I gave them their briefing and they finally belted up. All of them had cameras and all during the flight I had to constantly wrestle with the cyclic, back and forth, back and forth. After a few minutes of this I got on the intercom to the Flight Engineer and told him the flight controls were acting abnormally. Could he see anything wrong. He came back with, “Sir, I can’t keep these damn people in their seats. They are going from front to back and side to side taking pictures. And one will call another and they all go to that spot. I can’t get them to sit down.” I told him to immediately inform them to get their butts in their seats and buckle up. Amazing how smoothly the rest of the flight went! As I mentioned earlier in 1965 Cam Rahn only had a short PSP runway and rather than come to a hover with that many on board, I decided on a running landing. I came in at about 50 knots, flared and planted the tailwheel and it bounced two or three times (pretty good bounces). Probably the worst running landing I had ever made. When we shutdown, several of the Air Force guys complimented me on that smooth landing. Made me wonder what kind of landings they were accustomed to. After about three hours on the ground they returned and informed me that since we still had daylight, did I know where Phan Rang was and could we go there to see how that air base was looking. “Yes sir”, I replied, “no problem.” This time they all sat down, buckled up and were ready. After making sure they were secure, I reached under the forward seats and put on a flak vest and passed one up to CWO Ellis, and the flight crew also donned their vests. Eyes began to roam. Then the Major asked, “Why are you putting on those vests?” I just replied, “Sir, the clouds are low and to get to Phan Rang we have to go through that pass over there”, and I pointed out, “and usually Charlie was sitting up there with a .50 cal. Immediately all of them unbuckled and huddled in the rear of the cargo compartment for a conference. A lot of discussion was taking place. It was sort of funny. The Major then came back to the front and told us that they really didn’t need to see Phan Rang today. They could do it another time. CWO Ellis was up in the cockpit listening and he began to laugh. They couldn’t see him. So we took off our vests, I stowed them under the front seats, climbed up into the cockpit, smiled at George, cranked up and left for Nha Trang and an early beer. I had many humorous experiences in Viet Nam but this one always ranks near the top"

Ted Jenkins
Ted Jenkins
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339th TC
Old 09-15-2019, 09:28 AM   #186
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Crew chief Frank Ferry gives us the history of his service in the Viet Nam war
=====
After basic training at Fort Dix, N.J., I spent the next three months receiving aircraft maintenance training at Fort Rucker, AL. Late December 1963 I had orders to Vietnam. I arrived at Saigon (Tan Son Nhut Airfield) Vietnam, January 5, 1964 and was soon whisked off to Nha Trang on an USAF C-123 to begin my year tour with the 339th Transportation Company. My first few days compiled of many hours filling sandbags, and guard duty at the base POL Depot. About the fourth day I finally was able to put my MOS 67K20 (multi engine aircraft mechanic) to some use. Working on fixed wing aircraft, bird dogs, beavers and otters. I was still wet behind the ears and learned quickly from experienced mechanics like SP4 Heal and SP5 Murphy. Early March 1964 the 339th received another CH37B and they solicited for more crew members. The recovery section was headed by CWO Semora and senior NCO Cecil Keith. There was about a dozen guys interested and I was selected to become an M60 machine gunner and CH37B mechanic. At that time, I had to learn to rappel from 100', jumping from a hovering UH1B (I have photos taken of me). Later that month I was assigned to “Wayne's Work Horse” tail number 54-0998. CE SP/5 Harper, CC SP/4 Kaye and PFC me as gunner. Our names were painted to the right of the main cargo door entry. In my 9 months on “Wayne's Work Horse” I experienced four different flight engineers; Harper, Bobbitt, Kaye and Buckley. Most because their tours were up except Kaye, he went to another company CH37B. Our 339th sheet metal guys concocted M60 mounts for the three 37's. The gunner manned the left window M60, it was on a 180-degree swivel mounted on the window frame base and the ammo box mounted to the left of the M60. The second M60 mount was attached to the entry door frame and gave the CC a clear 180-degree view. The ammo tray fed the M60 from the right side. The gunner was responsible for replacing the ammo cans (we carried 6 cans, each can held 600 rounds), 2 extra M60 barrels, asbestos gloves to change hot barrels, 5 cases of C Rations, smoke grenades, 1 machete, flak jackets, four 5-gallon jerry cans of Aeroshell 50W dispersant engine oil, (most outposts had none). Just a few of the FE responsibilities were loading, offloading, weight and balance and along with the CC overall required maintenance and inspections inflight and on the ground, which meant long hours. The gunner pitched in when needed. The CH37B had 30-gallon oil tanks for each of the R2800 engines. “Wayne's Work Horse” had one engine that burned the normal 3 gallons per hour and the other engine 8 (eight, not a misprint) gallons per hour. The engine performed well with no mechanical problems, except for the high oil consumption. The retractable landing gear worked well also except one gear took about 15 seconds to retract and the other the normal 5 seconds (most of the time we flew gear down). Wayne's Workhorse never had an engine change during my tour. Engine clutches yes, about 3. The clutch lubricant had a terrible odor, we called it skunk oil; it was manufactured that way to distinguish it from other oils. There were a few occasions when one of the R2800 engines metal chip detector light in the cockpit would light up indicating metal in the engine oil screen. The flight crew decided to continue our mission and upon return to base the crew chief and I would remove and clean the engine oil screen. Yes, there were very small filings of metal, probably from the cylinder rings chaffing the cylinder wall. We then cleaned the screen and reinstalled it. Removed the red X, signed off the red X condition. This only happened one other time a few months later. State side the engine would be removed. To this day I’m still in contact with our 339th recovery section senior NCO Cecil Keith. I asked him if he was aware of any CH-37 engine changes in our section. His answer was “no”. Cecil was probably one of the Army’s most experienced NCO’s on 37’s, from Germany, Korea and Vietnam.
The three 37’s in the 339th had winches to assist loading from the front doors. They were installed in the center rear ceiling of the airframe and additionally secured to the cargo floor with a couple cargo straps. Power to the winch was provided with the onboard APU. We hauled many pallets through the opened clam shell doors and manually operated ramp. We also used the winch to assist us with the recovery and loading of the USAF Fire Bee reconnaissance drones near Danang. During the months of May through September all three 339th 37’s were accumulating many hours flying. We would perform many recoveries throughout I & II Corp. 90% of our flying was during daylight hours. It wasn’t very often all three 37’s was at Nha Trang at the same time. My ship 54-0998 during that period recovered approximately 3 fixed wing and 4 rotary wing aircraft. Then in October 1964 through the third week of December 54-0998 and its enlisted crew were TDY to D Nang. The cockpit crews were rotated and stayed at the Danang Hotel. We were housed in a 3-bedroom home behind the Da Nang Hotel and provided with a ¾ ton ambulance for transportation to and from the airbase. WOW, we were we lucky, the Air Force and Marines were living on the airfield in tents. Each day we would standby, waiting to see if we were needed to recover a drone; when released, we would fly missions transporting ARVN troops to and LZ or base camp. We often re-supplied special forces camps near the Laotian boarder. Occasionally we drew enemy fire near the camps. Around December 20, 1964, we flew to Saigon with some urgently needed parts for new arrival CH37B’s from Korea. While there I got to see the very first Bob Hope Show in Vietnam. I also witnessed the aftermath of an attempt to assassinate Bob Hope and his troop. I have photos of the Brinks hotel damage from a well-placed bomb. Hope and his troop were not at the hotel when the bomb exploded. Early January 1965 I was released to return home to Connecticut just after New Year’s Day. My orders took me to the First Army Flight Detachment, at Floyd Bennet Field, Brooklyn, New York to finish out my 3-year enlistment as an SP/5... At that time the base was run by the Navy. I feel the 339th had outstanding CH37B experienced mechanic’s which helped guys like me immensely. Fort Rucker gave us initial valuable training but working and flying with the flight engineers and crew chiefs was second to none. It paved the way for my future with Lockheed and TWA over the next 34 years”.
Frank
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SP/4 Jim Luger, 611th Transportation Company (ADS) Aug 1965 - Aug 1966
Old 09-21-2019, 03:39 PM   #187
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Default SP/4 Jim Luger, 611th Transportation Company (ADS) Aug 1965 - Aug 1966

“ After my training as an aircraft mechanic at Ft. Eustis, VA, I was flown to Saigon from Travis Air Force Base near San Francisco. The Saigon main passenger terminal had been bombed the night before, so we had to work our way through the rubble to get to the busses that took us to Tent City Alpha, where we filled sand bags all day for days. Everyone arriving in Vietnam was processed through Camp Alpha, unless they arrived with their entire unit. I was glad to get out of there and get shipped to a mysterious place called Vung Tau. When I arrived, the first sergeant saw on my personnel file that I had some experience in the orderly room at Ft. Eustis while awaiting orders to Vietnam, and said that at that time they needed a company clerk more than another mechanic. He offered me the job, and I thought sitting in an office with a fan and a Vietnamese assistant was more attractive than twelve (12) hours a day on the flight line. I accepted the job and the out going company clerk gave me a couple of weeks of training, especially with preparing the complicated daily morning report. After getting a secret security clearance, my first job was typing the court martial paperwork for an American GI (not from our airfield) who had shot up a Buddhist temple and killed a few Vietnamese. I was getting a taste of many odd experiences to come". Jim
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SP/4 Jim Luger, 611th Transportation Company (ADS) Aug 1965 - Aug 1966
Old 09-21-2019, 04:04 PM   #188
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Default SP/4 Jim Luger, 611th Transportation Company (ADS) Aug 1965 - Aug 1966

“When I arrived in Vung Tau there were very few soldiers in all of Vietnam, less than 30,000 I think and all of us officially “advisors.” But President Johnson decided to take control of the war and the amount of toops and material sent into Vietnam was staggering. The airfield at Vung Tau was not secure in those days, and we did not have US infantry support. The Viet Cong used to shoot mortars from a nearby mountin sometimes, trying to knock out our fuel and ammo dumps. When that happened everyone grabbed an M 14 rifle, cooks, mechanics, everyone and manned bunkers near the perimiter. I and the radio operator manned the orderly room (temporary command post), and coordinated bunker reports to battion headquarters. One night the VC mortared our hangars and other buildings, and the battle lasted all night, forcing us to abandon the orderly room and move the command post to the motor pool. The VC overarn one of our perimiters just before dawn, but the rising sun ended their attack. The next day B52’s bombed the entrance to the peninsula, that Vung Tau was located on. It felt like an earthquake that wouldn’t stop, but that mission put an end to VC attacks on the airfield. Later, Vung Tau was made into an R&R center”. Jim
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19th Transportation Company.
Old 09-29-2019, 08:21 AM   #189
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The following is s transcript of a telepone interview, conducted earlier this year by
Mike Law of the VHPA. Bill is thought to be the last surviving pilot, who flew this Unit detatchment to Vietnam. No personal or technical images, can be provided by Bill.
As in what could be considered a 'historical' tragedy, he lost over 3000 slides and
related paperwork, during a flood in 1972. John. (Part 1)
---------------------------------
William “Moon” Mullen. Graduated from flight school in October of 1961 while a reserve officer in the Army. He finished flight school in the top 1/3 of his class and went on to CH- 34 transition school at Fort Rucker. In early 1962 he was assigned to Ft. Benning as part of the Strategic Units (STRAC). During the Cuban Missile Crisis his unit was on a Navy aircraft carrier with their mission being to sling load 55 gallon drums of fuel into Cuba to support the invasion if it occurred. His unit was later assigned to Alaska for cold weather training. As Moon puts is, “What a mess that was!”Moon was a Section Leader now, with four (4) aircraft in his section.In early March 1963 he received orders to CH- 37 transition school at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. His first recollection of walking up to the CH- 37 was “Forget this! I’ll never learn to fly that thing!” His instructor pilot told him “You fly it just like an H- 23. Look out the front window and the rest of the aircraft will follow you”. After Moon was familiar with flying the CH- 37 he and his instructor would fly out to a remote area and challenge each other to make a running takeoff with the least amount of manifold pressure. Skills that would come in handy when he was deployed to Viet Nam, where working the aircraft at or above the posted redlines became common practice.Moon was assigned to A Flight, 19th Transportation Company in Korea on April 2, 1963. Being told right away that he had been picked for a special “Top Secret” mission. They flew every day doing sling loads of cargo, 105mm Howitzers, and aircraft. A Flt used the same four (4) aircraft for all of this training, they were to be the aircraft that would later take to Viet Nam.A Flight 19th Transportation Company deployed from Korea to Viet Nam in late May of 1963. They deployed with four (4) CH- 37B “Mojave” helicopters,eight CH 37 pilots which included four (4) commissioned officers and four (4) warrant officers, plus sixteen (16) enlisted men to handle the flight crew and maintenance needs of the aircraft. The four (4) CH- 37B aircraft that were deployed to Viet Nam were 55- 0623, 55 - 0625, 55 0627, and 55- 0636. To the best of Moon’s recollection these are the eight (8) pilots names, most of whom have passed on: “
The Officer in Charge was Captain Charles “Mojave 1” Callaway. Other officers were Larry Foote, Bill “Moon” Mullen, Lloyd Hardy, Ron Woodmansee, Bill Flowers, Bill “Mojave" Roundy, and James Goodloe . The sixteen (16) enlisted men who came over with us all had nicknames. The only two names I know for sure are crew chief SP/4 Herbert Houston RA18616138, and flight engineer Thomas Gilkeson, RA1564002.
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Bill 'Moon' Mullen
Old 10-06-2019, 04:15 AM   #190
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"The aircraft were flown to Pusan, then loaded onto the USNS heavy cargo ship “PRIVATE LEONARD C. B RONSTROM” while she was docked in Pusan Harbor, Republic of Korea, on May 15, 1963 for the trip to Viet Nam. The BRONSTROM was a railroad locomotive and railcar transport ship. When they were loading the CH- 37’s onboard the ship, they found that by lining up one of the main rotor blades over the center of the cockpit, and then removing the two side blades, the aircraft were narrow enough to be loaded side by side below decks on the ship.The unit deployed under the command of Capt. Charles P.Callaway. Capt. Calloway had a long association with the CH- 37, taking delivery of the second production aircraft from the Sikorsky plant, introducing the aircraft to combat in Viet Nam, and piloting the last active duty CH- 37 on its final flight to demilitarization in 1971.“We averaged over 100 hours per month per aircraft, prowling around Viet Nam supporting air operations from the Delta in the south to the northern border. In her own right she was truly an unheralded heroine in every sense of the word. Just ask any pilot or crewman.”Upon arriving in Viet Nam A Flight was attached to the 611th Transportation Company (DS) for rations and quarters. The 611th TC didn’t have adequate quarters for their own men, so the twenty four (24) men of A Flight subsisted on the local economy, finding quarters in downtown Vung Tau at the local hotels.
[On December 12, 1963, a US Army CH- 37B “Mojave” heavy- lift helicopter tail number 0627 flown by pilots and crew of A Flight 19th Transportation Company assigned to the 611th Transportation Company was attempting to recover a downed US Army fixed wing aircraft when it was hit by enemy ground fire causing the aircraft to crash and burn.]
Some additional information stated that there was a rope attached to the sling load and leading up through the hell hole on the CH-37 to help stabilize the load in flight. Some thought is that SP/5 Angell was pulled down through the hell hole by that rope when the pilot cut the load before crashing. I have searched with no result for more information on this fatal crash and the use of the rope to stabilize the sling load under the CH- 37. All I can say is that in all of the recovery missions that I was involved with, to my knowledge we never had any type of rope or strap leading from the sling load up through the hell hole into the CH- 37. First of all I don’t see how that could help stabilize the load as the hell hole is directly over the CH- 37’s cargo hook, which is supporting the load below at its balance point. I just don’t see how a rope or strap going up through the hell hole would do anything to stabilize a load carried below the helicopter. Plus, the concern of the flight crew would be that rope or strap may interfere with the load falling free should the pilot need to jettison the load in flight. And that would be a bad thing.
(Scott) Moon continued:
“After we lost that aircraft, we pretty much buddied up a high hour pilot with a low hour pilot. I buddied up with Bill Roundy who had come from Germany. He could make that CH- 37 square dance. He was a superb pilot. I remember visiting him several times in Alabama after the war until he passed away. I firmly believe I’m here today because of Bill”.
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Bill 'Moon' Mullen
Old 10-08-2019, 02:58 PM   #191
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Moon tells the story about how they “ requisitioned” the needed vehicles “When we arrived in Viet Nam and were attached to the 611th TC for rations and quarters, they didn’t have enough quarters for their own people,so we had to subsist ourselves on the local economy. We stayed in a local hotel in Vung Tau. It was about a mile and a half or two from the hotel to the flight line where the aircraft were, so we all bought bicycles to ride back and forth. The enlisted men said to us “This is ridiculous!” so they came up with a plan. We would crank up a ’37 and fly to Tan Son Nhut and on the radio when we arrived tell the ground control that we were supposed to pick up some equipment that the enlisted guys had arranged for. We taxied over to the area, kept the rotors turning, opened the front clamshell doors and lowered the ramp. Along came a ¾ ton truck and a jeep. Those were loaded interna lly. We raised the ramp, closed the clamshell doors and called for takeoff instructions. On the way back to Vung Tau I mentioned to the other pilot Bill Roundy, “Do you smell paint?” The enlisted guys were painting over the bumper numbers on those vehicles. They explained that they had taken one of the commander’s jeeps because it was in very good shape. Well, it didn’t take too long, in may be six weeks or so and we pretty much had our own motor pool.
The missions flown by A Flight were varied and spread all over the country from the Delta in the south to up near the border with North Viet Nam.One of the missions was to recover downed aircraft. Moon relates his memories from some of those missions: “I don’ t know how many aircraft recoveries I flew, but it was a lot. When we first got there we were in direct support of the CH- 21 company that was stationed in the Delta. Those poor guys. We recovered as many ‘21’s that fell out of the sky because of mechanical problems than were shot down. They were a death trap. In fact, a guy I graduated with from flight school, Timmy Lang, took his last breath in one of them. You may remember that I gave a tribute to him at the wall the VHPA arranged for at the reunion in Louisville”

Bill
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Bill 'Moon' Mullen
Old 10-08-2019, 03:40 PM   #192
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When asked about other missions that he remembered, Moon related the following: “I don’t remember about the unit being split up, that happened after my time. We arrived with four aircraft. We lost one so that put us down to three. Then I buggered up one, so we were down to two for a while. It was out of action for about a month. On that mission, Bill Roundy and I were assigned to move a 105mm Howitzer from point A to point B. A very easy sling load mission. When we took off with the gun below us, we got hit by automatic weapons fire. The flight engineer told us that we had...Well things happened all at once. The #2 engine caught on fire, hydraulic leaks, electric wires were sparking and we had extensive structural damage. So I could not maintain altitude with one engine. The other pilot was injured. I reached over, shut down the #2 engine and hit the fire extinguisher. And it worked!
I just dropped the 105 Howitzer. Another aircraft was with us, he dropped some yellow smoke to mark it. Then someone on the radio told us there was a little dirt strip just a few klicks away that was friendly. So I tried to get there because we had some wounded in the cargo compartment and my arm was bleeding. When we got on long final, I found out that the landing gear would not go down. They tried to lower it manually with a hydraulic hand pump but it wouldn’t go down. I knew that if we landed without the gear, the aircraft would tip over, the main rotor blades would hit the ground and the aircraft would disintegrate. The flight engineer told me to tell the folks on the ground that I would hold at a hover with the belly on the ground and they should jam some vehicles under the engine nacelles to keep the aircraft from rolling onto its side. By golly, it worked! That was probably my worst day. I was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, a Purple Heart, and an Air Medal. And you know what? I said Roundy at the beginning. But the more I think about that, it may have been Callaway. I did know He had taken a round in his leg and it was ugly. We were all nicked up, even the guys in the back. We were patched up at that dirt strip and got a ride back to Vung Tau. The ’37 stayed there until it was repaired and flown back to Vung Tau.

Bill
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Old 10-09-2019, 05:21 PM   #193
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Super thread John
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RECOVERIES NEAR QUANG NGAI— 27 April to 3 May
Old 10-19-2019, 05:24 AM   #194
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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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