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

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Best Laid Plans
Old 09-02-2017, 10:28 AM   #31
JOHN JONES
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The CH437 was the 'workhorse' in those early years, before the Chinook
and Skycrane aircraft became available. Heavy equipment and supplies were
needed in remote bases, as the build up continued. If not on stand-by to shadow
Air assaults (Recovery) varied missions were demanded of these machines.
A beast in size and power, they still needed to be handled carefully, as these finely tuned aircraft, tried to cope with the constantly changing conditions in Vietnam. Although no photo shots exist of this incident, a still from an 8mm movie is attached. In terms of balance, the 611th was also capable of 'sitting on a load' When these aircraft settled, there was usually only one winner. In Scotts own words.

So here is what happened the day that “Wooly Booger” sat back down on the Howitzer it was trying to sling load for Marvin The ARVN.
I remember that we got the call for the mission to move the gun along with some ammo from point A to point B. We knew that both the takeoff and landing areas were rough and dusty areas that would require that the engines be on filtered intake air rather than open ram air. That caused a small loss in power.
We asked that this mission be all set for early the following morning.
We arrived at the LZ early the next day in the ’37 and Sammie’s UH-1B. The ammo was there so we loaded some into the helicopter. Don’t remember how much but some. The fuses were going with Sammie. Lucky guy!!

So finally around 1000 or so the gun shows up. We hadn’t slung one of these before so didn’t know how to rig it but gave it our best shot. Well we had it rigged wrong of course and the muzzle of the gun tipped down to the ground. We had the pilot cut the load and to land but kept him turned up.
We re-rigged the gun and another guy and I did the hover hook up. After we got out of the way the pilots attempted the lift. And couldn’t get it off the ground for very long before the Nr would drop and she would come back down to the ground. They tried this a couple of times but no luck. Just too heavy with the included internal load of ammo.
You could start to see black smoke in both engine exhaust streams, an indication that the cylinder head temps were climbing towards or were at the red line.
The Bendix Pressure Injection carb had a setting called “Auto Rich” that would automatically start enriching the mixture going into the engine to try and cool it down a bit. At least that is my understanding of the process.
So had the decision been made to stop at that point, cut the load and move off to the side to cool the engines while we unloaded the ammo from inside, well that day would have turned out totally different. We could have made a second trip with the ammo.
But the decision was “Let’s give it one more try…”. And both engines failed and the helicopter sat back down on the load, with the armor plating of the upper right corner of the gun poking a good sized hole just forward of the APU on the left side aft of the aircraft. Behind the gunners window. So that was that…

My memory isn’t super sharp on what happened next over the rest of that day, but as I recall some radio calls went out and two engines were pulled from other CH-37’s, I believe at least one was from the 611th, and the gear and tools needed were flown to the site.
A Vietnamese wrecker operator was found and while he couldn’t speak English and we couldn’t speak Vietnamese, both engines were changed in record time and just at dusk she was ready for its first run up.
Again my memory isn’t 100% sure about all of this, but I do recall being up front when the W3 fired the engines up, the guys outside did a good leak check, and he said “Let’s get out of here!!” Stupid me asked “But sir, you haven’t done a mag check yet…” To which he replied “So Drew, if the mags don’t check out 100%, do you want to stay here and **** with them??” (it was getting dark out there)
I got his point.
Scott
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339th Transportation Company
Old 09-02-2017, 11:28 AM   #32
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Default 339th Transportation Company

The “engine art” is the large eyeball looking designs painted on the front of the engine nacelles. Interesting that the Army didn’t like that, most of the Marine Corps CH-37’s had that artwork on their engines. And I don’t know what the story of the aircraft on the ground by the water’s edge is. Will ask Frank. Looks like there may be some life rafts in the water too. Scott

Ray Semora remembers: " We painted the engine cowl disc with white
cross eyes, radiating red streaks, the effect was a pair of blood shot eyes.
Our 'hit' ratio went up, or so it seemed, so we painted them over.
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Rookie Pilot / Tug
Old 09-02-2017, 11:34 AM   #33
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"Johnny Reb 636 Was carrying a tug internally. We were transitioning a Huey pilot to Ch37's and making touch and go at NhaTrang. I was filling in for the gunner, Joe Pulcinni. The CE, CC and I were bored sitting on the fold up seats in the cabin. Altitude of 1000ft lost power in nbr 1. We were too low to maintain altitude and upgrading pilot was slow at applying full power to nbr 2. Landing gear was never retracted from touch and go. Down we went softly into the elephant grass and river. We were only 2 miles from NhaTrang. Assistance arrived within 5min. ARVN special forces trainees and thier US adviser. We pulled straws as to who would drive the tug into river, so we could fly out Nbr 1eng fuel line was severed by the luckiest shot, no one ever heard or saw the shooter.On forced landing only the tail rotor blades we're damaged. No injuries. 6-8 hours later we flew it out and left the tug" Frank
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339th Special Forces / Fire bases.
Old 09-03-2017, 11:31 AM   #34
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Default 339th Special Forces / Fire bases.

"The 339th CH37B tail #998 offloading a Jeep and other supplies. Photos were taken by me, not sure of date, November or December 1964. We made many trips to this special forces site about 60 miles west of Danang, often recieving enemy small arms fire. Some of our loads consisted of a catapiller earth mover, (4 trips) a huge generator. We performed these missions when we were not needed for operation Blue Springs at Danang" Frank
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56th Transportation Company (High place drops)
Old 09-03-2017, 11:40 AM   #35
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"Our CH-37 (not sure the tail number as I wasn’t on that mission but sent my camera along to document it) parked on top of what I believe is Nui Ba Dinh Mountain, or Tay Ninh Mountain, or Black Lady Mountain depending on who you talk to. As you can see we loaded an internal load of a small building and moved it somewhere. Don’t remember if it was for the Special Forces (probably) or someone else. I think that the Air Force (x) was setting up some sort of radio site on top of that mountain. In some of the photos you can see some of the Vietnamese sitting on a bunch of big boulders that make up the crest of that mountain" (x) AF guy in the picture.
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56th Transportation Company (High place drops)
Old 09-03-2017, 11:47 AM   #36
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Default 56th Transportation Company (High place drops)

"Doing a similar lift for the Special Forces with 57-1659 “Slave Driver” in probably early 1965 when they ended up breaking the drag link that supports the main gear leg in the down position. Luckily the pilot CWO3 Royce Raley (RIP) was able to horse the helicopter into the air and fly back to our hangar at Saigon. Thankfully we had external fuel tanks mounted so were able to refuel him while he was holding the loaded helicopter in a two-point hover. The left main and tail wheel. The downwash from the main rotor of that loaded CH-37 had to be about 90 MPH or more. Tough to work under. After some attempts to shore up under the fuselage which failed as we tried to set the helicopter down on mattresses and other things, a wing jack was borrowed from the Air Force and placed under the jack point on the right engine stub wing and that took the weight of the helicopter as Mr. Raley shut it down. I remember him walking out of the back cargo door…wringing wet with sweat…stopped when he was on the ground, looked at all of us, went over and looked at the broken drag link on the right main, looked back at us and said “If anyone needs me I’ll be in the club…” Indeed. He performed an amazing piece of piloting that afternoon with a bunch of our lives in jeopardy. Had something happened and the rotor system had hit the ground we all would have probably been killed by the flying pieces I think he got the DFC for his actions that day" Scott
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Sauce, smells and no steak dinner.
Old 09-03-2017, 12:13 PM   #37
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Default Sauce, smells and no steak dinner.

"I also remember another incident that while not really any type of an emergency does still stick in my mind…and NOSE!! We had a mission to haul a bunch of bags of rice (100# or so each) plus a bunch of clay bottles of Nuoc Mam from somewhere to somewhere else. Might have even loaded that load at our hangar, I don’t remember. Anyway Nuoc Mam is a spicy hot fermented sauce. Actually very tasty when used in one of the traditional Vietnamese dishes, but mighty smelly too. The Nuoc Mam was in clay bottles that were all woven together with some type of wicker or tough grass stuff. Maybe a dozen or so in a grouping. We loaded the rice first then put the strings of Nuoc Mam bottles on top of the rice to cushion them a bit from the vibrations of flight. Well, some of them broke in flight…And of course some of the sauce leaked down underneath the floor of the ’37… No matter what we tried we never could totally get rid of that smell" Scott
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Enjoyed your rice story. I too have one. June 1964.
"We carried twenty fifty pound bags of rice to a montagnard village near Buon Ma Thuot (NW of Nha Trang). Off loaded the rice and the locals gave us two cows (the special forces advisor prearranged the trade). Loaded the two reluctant cows, got them on their sides, tied their legs and placed drip pans under their butts. Guess what! They never ****, but they vomited all over the cargo floor. Yep me and the CC on arrival Nha Trang had to clean up the mess. The two cows were brought to the mess hall with the intent of making a few steaks for the guys. The special forces Doc. checked them out and they were both deceased and not edible. Don't know their disposition.

August 1964. We loaded 26 ARVN on the CH37 at Nha Trang, to take them to an LZ near Tuy Hoa. I'm standing and tethered manning my M60. We had just heard about some ARVN fragging the chopper that brought them to their LZ. So I was watching them more than out my window. Noticed they were smiling at me. When I returned to looking out the window on lift off I saw that my M60 machine gun barrel was missing. Embarrassed I radioed the cockpit about FOD left on the runway, and quickly inserted a replacement barrel. (I could only imagine what the ARVN were thinking)

Frank
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Setting Up in TSN AFB
Old 09-10-2017, 12:59 PM   #38
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"The CO (Paul Needles) and the other officers decided on who was going to stay with the 56th and who were going to get sent out to other units, bringing in their guys to get varied rotation dates back home, we all went down to our hangar and company area at Tan Son Nhut. Our company area was freshly built, with a really nice cinder block shower facility. Our crappers were outside units, built of wood, with half of a 55 gallon drum underneath the hole to catch the ‘stuff”. We had a couple of local Vietnamese men who would occasionally slide those partly full barrels out of the outhouses, dump in a few gallons of Jet Fuel (kerosene) and set them on fire. Going and coming to the shower, walking through the smoke from burning **** barrels…Lovely!
Our first hangar is shown on this photo, and we shared it with a US Air Force electronics outfit. As I recall we did some quick building of what was needed to open up our shops and got to work. Many of the shops were in trailers, so didn’t take much to set them up. The instrument repair shop, machine shop, hydraulic shop, machine shop, etc. Supply, particular the aircraft parts supply was probably the largest and most difficult to get up and running. Because all of the parts you needed were half a world away. We weren’t there very long, just a few months, then we moved to another hangar location that was directly across from the civilian air terminal at Tan Son Nhut. Our company area stayed the same. Same drill, some hurried building that went on for a while after the move, but we were doing maintenance all the while.At our second hangar location we were able to watch the Pan American “Freedom Birds” come in and out every day… Unfortunately this hangar was located next to the US Air Force “Ranchhand” hangar. They were the guys who sprayed the defoliant “Agent Orange” along the river banks. And we now know that wasn’t such a good thing for the human physiology!
When I took over the running of our engine shop we still had the CH-37’s, and they were powered by two (2) Pratt & Whitney R-2800 engines. I didn’t know a lot about those engines, hadn’t gone to school on them. So I spent a lot of time over at the Ranchhand hangar talking to their old mechanics. And lots of time up inside of the C-123 “Provider” aircraft, that used the same engine. And also did the spraying of Agent Orange. I remember the first time I walked up the ramp into the cargo bay, there was a very strong chemical smell and some slippery, gooey stuff on the floor of the aircraft. I asked the Sgt. what that was, he said , “Oh no problem. That’s just the stuff we spay on the jungle to kill it. It won’t hurt you any…”. Right!
Our second move to the third hangar location put us at what was called “Hotel 3”. It was just a large open grass field with some concrete taxiways crisscrossing it, and some hangars on one side. Had a large water tower at one end of the field. I worked there until April of 1967 when I rotated home.
That, as shown on the photo, was the hangar for the 120th “Deans”. Maybe not all that interesting in itself, but the 120th was made up from the first helicopter company that served in Viet Nam, starting in November of 1961. That Company was the 57th Transportation Helicopter Company (Light Helicopter) CH-21).
Scott (The Deans Hanger is the rectangular building, oppostite the 56th's hanger))
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Last edited by JOHN JONES; 09-10-2017 at 01:04 PM.
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All work and no play, makes Scott a dull boy.
Old 09-10-2017, 01:49 PM   #39
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Default All work and no play, makes Scott a dull boy.

All the below, related with Scotts full permission.
"Our actual work shift in the allied shops was pretty much a “normal” one of eight hours a day for five days a week, at first with the weekends mostly off. Unless we had a large influx of work come in then we worked 7 days a week until that was cleared. The war was pretty slow moving back in those early days, so we mostly had all nights and weekends off. I guess we went downtown three or four nights a week. When Maj. Royals took command in early 1966 he rightfully changed that work pattern to have about 85% of our staff on seven days a week. So then the shops were open for business 7 days a week, as one would expect in a war.
Darryl Braun (Later KIA with Air America) was one of the guys who was brought in from another outfit when we got to Tan Son Nhut, and had been in the Saigon area for several months. He and I hit it off pretty well, and he had an old Zundap motorcycle and he hauled me into town pretty early on. A few months later I bought my first Honda motorcycle through the PX in Cholon, which was the Chinese section of Saigon. I think that first bike, which was a brand new Honda 250 Scrambler cost me $426 as I recall. I ordered if through the PX, and it arrived a while later in a crate. We had to uncrate it and put a few things together and I rode it back to the Company. I had several occasions when I lived off base, and as I recall our barracks were in short supply for the enlisted men, so all enlisted men E-6 and above had to find lodging off base. The rest of us could stay out if we desired. I don’t remember having to ask permission to do this, but maybe we did. I think we just did it and signed out and back in with the log in the orderly room. Like I have mentioned before, it was pretty loose in those early days. We were paid in US currency at first as I recall, and cautioned (which never worked well) to only change money at an official money changer place. But you could find a much better rate downtown, and most of us did that. And that led to the issuance of Military Payment Script (MPC or Monopoly Money) being used in lieu of greenbacks. Then you had to buy a Postal Money Order to exchange for Piasters. As I recall the MPC design and/or colors were changed a time or two and a lot of Vietnamese who had been changing it for Piasters got stuck holding real Monopoly Money! There was a back gate not far from our Company area that we went out and came in through. AP’s on the gate but they just waved us through. A pass was needed for driving around in the secure area (military area in general) on Tan Son Nhut. Just a formality to get. Darryl hauled me into town pretty early on. A tour of some of the bars on Tu Do Street and my first of many visits to one of the local brothels.
The Honda motorcycle was the first of three I had while I was in Viet Nam. Used it to scoot around the airport and of course to go into town at night. Being a young, virile lad of 18 when I arrived in that Country, from a small logging and fishing town on the Northern California Coast, I was just amazed that the local girls would take care of your needs for such a small sum… So I and a couple of buddies took that route regularly. Some of the gals that I hung out with on a regular basis used to ride with me around Saigon, and up part way to Bien Hoa to get some special fruit that they liked. It was sort of a citrus I guess, like a Grapefruit sort of. Our quarters were quite primitive at first and not really large enough, so some of us rented space downtown Saigon. As the old saying went back then, I have a “Whore, a Honda, and a House”. One time coming back in late by cab, I was walking past “100 P alley”, which was just outside one of the main gates into Tan Son Nhut Airfield. I had drank up most of my money and was headed to the hooch for some sleep. A female voice out of the alley caused me to stop and chat with her. I ended up trading a see-through type Scripto cigarette lighter with a fishing fly in the fuel tank for an all-nighter plus a couple of Ba Mui Ba (33) beers…amazing trade! But that’s how it was early on. 100P was less than a dollar.
In the early days of that war we gave no thought to whether it was safe to venture out on a motorcycle on some of the back roads. That changed later on"
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All work and no play, makes Scott a dull boy.
Old 09-10-2017, 01:53 PM   #40
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Default All work and no play, makes Scott a dull boy.

Xx
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56th's Company Area.
Old 09-17-2017, 12:05 PM   #41
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"The entrance into our fixed wing hangar. The hangers were next to each other, with the allied shops trailers parked outside nearby in a row".

"This Photo shows a set of ground handling wheels near the heel (rear portion) of the skids on that UH-1. There were some spring loaded pins that would snap into eyes mounted on the skids to hold those wheel sets in place, then each wheel set had a hydraulic pump and cylinder that would actually lift up the heel of the skids, one side at a time as you pumped them up. Then a couple of guys on the “stinger” sticking out of the rear of the tailboom could steer the helicopter while others pushed, or you could hook a tow bar to some eyes on the toe (front) of the skids and with a couple of guys pulling down on the stinger could move the aircraft into or out of the hangar"

Scott
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56th's Company Area.
Old 09-17-2017, 12:12 PM   #42
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"Dave Robin and some other guy I don’t recognize. But painted on the wall behind them is the word “Thuoc” with some Vietnamese punctuation above the word. That is the third word in “Cam Hut Thuoc” or “No Smoking”.

"One of the CH-37’s in the shop, main blades removed, and it is up on jacks. You can see the A frame of the left wing jack and can probably tell that the aircraft is off of the ground. That is the same type of wing jack that we had to get from the Air Force and get set up under the right side of 57-1659 “Slave Driver” when she broke her right drag link lifting that internal load of building supplies. You can just imagine how difficult working that jack in under that stub wing was with 90 MPH+ winds coming down from the main rotor. That was a tough deal for sure. Had anything happened that caused the aircraft to settle to the ground that the main blades to hit the ground we all would have been killed. The aircraft would have torn itself apart and most probably caught fire. That would have been a very bad day for sure".
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56th's Company Area.
Old 09-17-2017, 12:21 PM   #43
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"Those all look like UH-1B’s to me, the early version of the UH-1 series. You can see on the aircraft in the very center of that photo the engine cowling is open and a mechanic is doing some work. I don’t know why they are all parked so close together like that, they are too close for any of them to be cranked up. Maybe there was some maintenance work that needed to be done to all of them, some sort of factory bulletin or something. Seems to be aircraft from several different companies"
The aircraft on the right side of that photo has some sort of snake art on the open right side door, maybe the “Rattlers” or something similar. Looks like it may have a rattle on its tail". (Co. A/501 Avn BN., 71st AHC?)

"The best I can remember the red X designation meant that an aircraft was not airworthy and could not be flown at all. A circled red X meant that it had some serious issues but was OK for one flight to ferry it to a maintenance facility for repairs. The normal squawks (what we called maintenance items that needed fixing) were shown by a diagonal red line in the Dash 10, which was the flight log book for each individual aircraft. The aircraft could still be flown with these discrepancies. There may have been more symbols used but those are the three that I remember"
Scott
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TDY in PI
Old 09-23-2017, 08:42 AM   #44
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"Here I am standing on the fan tail (rear deck) of the USNS CORE. I had one of the guys take that photo because it showed the name “California” on the next ship in line and of course I was from California!
What happened there John is that a deck load of Army L-23’s with some sophisticated radio gear and antennas installed came into the port of Saigon. But there was no way to get them off of the ship and to the airport; the wingspan was too wide for the streets, and we couldn’t pull the outer wing panels because of the sophisticated radio antennas. So a few of us from the 56th got aboard the Core and sailed back to NAS (Naval Air Station) Subic Bay in the Philippines (PI) to have the airplanes craned off of the deck, then we could pull the plastic covering off, service the engines and then they were flown back into Viet Nam. I went for the engines, two or three fixed wing guys went, and a rated pilot to run up the engines. I don’t know who flew them back to Viet Nam. We were there a couple of weeks I guess. As I recall there were five (5) aircraft and we got four flyable but one had a serious problem that I don’t recall what it was. I assume that someone else went back to the PI and got that aircraft flyable. I seem to remember that it was an engine issue that we couldn’t fix, possibly a bad magneto. We didn’t have any parts with us, just tools".
Scott
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Hanger Queen
Old 09-23-2017, 09:11 AM   #45
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"The engines in the CH-37's were 18 cylinder radial engines of 2800 cubic inch displacement rated at about 2400 HP each Commonly called R-2800's The radial engines had nine (9) cylinders in each row like spokes on a wagon wheel. The R-2800's had two rows of nine cylinders. 2 spark plugs per cylinder, a separate magneto for each set of spark plugs for redundancy. All piston engine aircraft engines have two spark plugs and two separate ignition systems for safety. As I recall it took about 25 to 30 hours of maintenance for each flight hour. A real Maintenance Whore they were…"
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