A/101 and Hamburger Hill
Hamburger Hill occurred while A Company was in Chu Lai working with the Americal Division. We got back up to Eagle right after the fighting occurred.† However, I was on a mission with WO1 Ken Trampe and another A Company crew.† Ken and I were chalk three in a four-ship lift. Chalk one and two were 158th Birds, and the other A Company bird was chalk four. It was a follow on to Hamburger Hill. Our troops were moving west toward Laos looking for the bad guys. It was supposed to be a simple admin move of a company of US troops from a saddle on one hill up to the top of another hill, which we could see through the greenhouse of our aircraft. We had to limit our aircraft load to just four troops because it was basically a high hover up to the top of the hill selected for a landing zone.
Chalk one goes in and out OK, and called a cold LZ. Chalk two made his way in OK but upon departure the NVA opened up on him and shot him up. He was smoking but still flying as he made a turn east toward Ta Bat airstrip (the spelling may not be correct but it was an airstrip in the A Shau Valley). We were short final when Ken decided to follow the smoking 158th bird to see if we could help. The 158th bird made a running landing into the dirt airstrip and we were right behind him. We off loaded our troops to give them more support. Once we found they did not have any wounded on board and were OK we headed back to see what decisions had been made about the guys that had already been inserted.
There were only 8 guys in the LZ and our way of thinking it would have been better to pull these guys out and blow the place away with artillery. It took forever for higher up to decide what to do. The decision came down to insert the rest of the company we had been lifting into the LZ. So the three hueys (one 158th aircraft and two from A Company) began lifting the remainder of the company into the LZ. My memory fails me as to who the crew was in the other A company huey. I sure would like to talk to them and see if there recollections are the same as mine. We shot our M60s all the way in and out of the LZ. There was no danger from hitting our guys because it was a pinnacle approach and the NVA were everywhere except in the LZ. We could not land because of stumps in the LZ so we came to a hover as low as we could to off load our troops. Our crew chief and gunner said they could see the NVA crawling all over the place as we approached and departed the LZ. None of the remaining hueys were hit. We could hear the B40 rockets shooting over our heads but fortunately the angle was to steep for them to get a good shot at us while we were hovering. The grunts were all laying behind what ever cover they could find and holding there weapons over there heads shooting down at the NVA.
We finished lifting that company and were directed to another company to the Northwest to lift into the fight, which we did. We refueled several times and reloaded our M60 ammo several times (we carried the larger mini-gun cans which held a lot more rounds). The crew chief and gunner did a great job of shooting and helping us from running into the stumps and bodies that were piling up in the LZ. We must have had ever gunship that could fly from the 101st and we even had some Marine gun ships supporting our guys. As we would make our approaches some of the gun ships would hover and shoot there rockets and machine-guns into the hill to cover us. We inserted the other company safely and then my memory starts to fade as to what happened next.
I canít remember if night called a halt to the fighting or the NVA finally melted away. I would like someone to help me remember all those guys that we lost on that hill and to find out what happened. Seldom do the crews know the outcome of the battle
Best to all, Jerry Simpson,
Comanchero 18, then Comanchero 42 when we were F Troop 2/17 Cav.
Dates served: Feb 69 to Feb 70.
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