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

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Horace Cleveland Collins. KIA. 10th Feb 1965
Old 02-10-2018, 05:06 AM   #1
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Default Horace Cleveland Collins. KIA. 10th Feb 1965

Some of the recoveries that Scott Drew took part in during the war, involved casualties and these in the main, were medevaced before the recovery ships arrived. One incident lingers in Scotts mind, as it resulted in a KIA and produced a unique bring that item, that sparks those memories. But more of that at a later date.
On the 10th Feb 1965, Scotts team arrived in the Song Be area, to be met with the scene as pictured. A model B Huey from the 118th Avn Co, had crashed due to hostile fire and all but one crew member had walked away. Trapped beneath it was a door gunner, on TDY from the 25th Infantry Division, with the unit on the 'Shotgun' programme. He has recently been identified as Horace Cleveland Collins, aged 19, from Jacksonville Florida.
Certain key details are still vague due to the passage of time, we are some what uncertain if Horace was still trapped at the time this picture was taken. Also the aircraft inventory number is still unknown, but Scotts recollection is that after the recovery, (next posting) that the aircraft was deemed to be damaged too severely for incountry repair and was returned to CONUS.
In the background can be seen a sister ship from the Units 1st Platoon 'Scorpians', which was in formation with the downed ship at the time of the incident. Around this ship can be seen several crew members, those troops aside the downed aircraft, appear to be armed local security forces. The sister ships inventory number can be clearly seen and John Brennan has traced its history back to 1966. However, a record of its service with the 118th is still missing, as is a full report of the incident. Veteran accounts due to the passage of time, are now very hard to obtain. However, one forum posting from 3 years ago, shows how the loss can be felt half a century on. No trace as yet of Mr Lewis, or anyone else who flew that day, but we will keep trying, until all avenues are exhausted. I am sure somewhere in America, Horace's remaining family, are thinking of him this day.

"I was a good friend of Horace. He slept in the bunk above mine and we both flew with the 118th Aviation out of Bien Hoa V.N. He was a great friend as well as a great Warrior. I miss him today and will grieve again this Feb 10th. I flew on the same mission with him and saw his chopper go down. Wish I could have done more to save him. It hurts a lot."
Added by JackLewis · January 20, 2015
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File Type: jpg Song Be #1B.jpg (169.8 KB, 99 views)
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Horace Cleveland Collins. KIA. 10th Feb 1965
Old 02-10-2018, 05:23 AM   #2
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Default Horace Cleveland Collins. KIA. 10th Feb 1965

"As to the Song Be 118th recovery mission, as I recall we would have attached our normal sling to the hole that was machined into the Jesus Nut on top of the mast, the nut that held on the main rotor head. If that nut ever came off, Jesus was your only hope… The nut was about 3 ½ or 4” in diameter on the inside, was a sort of cap affair that had a flange on top of it with a hole in it for attachment of the lifting sling. We used a regular clevis and threaded pin to attach the sling to this lift point. This was the same procedure that was used to remove or reinstall the main transmission, should that have to come out for maintenance.
After the short sling was attached we would have attached another longer sling to that one so that we could get on the top side of the aircraft on its side and do the hover hookup under the CH-37. Then as I recall she carefully lifted the aircraft back upright. Seems that the skids were bent up some, but in the final shots of that final hover hookup she looks to be sitting pretty square on the ground, so they probably weren’t too messed up.

I just don’t remember if SP/4 Horace Collins body was underneath the aircraft or had already been removed. I just don’t remember, sorry. The Unit guys should remember if we can ever find some of them that were in the Unit at that time.
Once the aircraft was back upright, we would have drained what fuel we could get out of the fuel cell, pulled the main battery, and all of the other loose stuff in the cabin and cockpit. Got the aircraft as light as we could make it for the lift.
The Monkey Bar would have been installed to keep the blades in line with the fuselage if they were still in mostly good shape. If not the two blade retention pins would have been removed and the mangled remains of the blades would have been pulled out of the blade grips and either hauled off or left as junk at the scene. Seems we didn’t do much of that leaving of stuff like that though, didn’t want Charlie to make anything bad out of our left over stuff.
Once the aircraft was made ready for the lift, two of us would have climbed up on top and actually sat on the blade grips up on the main rotor head. I always did the grounding of the CH-37 hook to dissipate any static electricity charge that was built up by the rotor system, then I would grab the back of the hook. The other guy, Vic Alanne in this case, would have the top end of the sling in his hand, and would slap it onto the hook of the ‘37’ There was a spring loaded safety “gate” at the opening of the hook to hold the sling in place. He would then give it a good tug or two to make sure that it was secure, and we could climb down to the ground. Of course the Flight Engineer or Crew Chief on the CH-37 would be laying down facing forward, looking down through the Hell Hole, helping the pilot get lined up over the load, and we would give him a thumbs up when we were done, he would return that if he was happy that all was good.
Exiting out under the RIGHT side of the CH-37 for reasons I mentioned a while back. Then one of our other guys would be giving the CH-37 pilot hand signals and looking to make sure that all was OK as he did the lift and flew away with it.
We’d pick up any equipment that we had not used, load it into our helicopter, and fly back home.

Sammie Johnson, God Bless him, would all the time we were on the ground be standing at a good observation point with his M-14 and three mags taped together for quick change reloading. I don’t remember him ever having to return fire on the bad guys, but it did give us a bit of a secure feeling to know that at least someone was watching over our safety and could return fire if needed. In the early years and from all of the photos I have looked at of the later years recovery work, the guys on the ground were not armed. Weapons would have just gotten in the way of the work that they had to do"
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File Type: jpg 57 1659 Slave Driver recovering 118th BANDIT UH 1B near Song Be #3 LoRes.jpg (165.6 KB, 98 views)
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Old 02-10-2018, 03:50 PM   #3
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Thanks for sharing his story.
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Old 02-13-2018, 08:20 PM   #4
Sgt. Steiner
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I have never read a post as moving as this one. 19 year old kid KIA.
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Old 02-16-2018, 04:41 PM   #5
Ralph P
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Thanks for the thread and sharing, appreciated.
Somebody, after all, had to make a start. What we wrote and said is also believed by many others. They just don't dare express themselves as we did. Quote - Sophie Scholl - White Rose resistance group
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