VI TANH 1965
At Vi Tanh, assaulting tree line, APCs stalled, sitting in the
open paddy, "6" gets a brilliant idea (at 5K altitude), we'll drop
some troops between the APCs and the tree line, why? Who knows, we just do
it! Short final, 12 hueys with ARVN Rangers on board, right over the APCs, must land, do a 180 and back out over the APCs, direction of attack, 12 o'clock the LZ, receiving fire from tree line, troops out, up! One round through the right wind screen, another round through the left wind screen, two rounds through the nose, up to a hover 180 turn, Gunner slumped over in well, looks like he took a round in the head, no blood to be seen, another round through the left door, still pedal turning, completed turn, trail (was lead) calls flight up!
Back out over the APCs, climb out, gunner still not moving, CE climbs out of well to assist the gunner, must maintain formation, wind whistling through the wind screens, about half the instrument panel inoperative, aircraft flies OK, outside of pilot shaking as he tries to fly formation, back to staging area for another lift, short on fuel, shut down refuel, rebrief, Gunner just stunned by a round that clips left side of Flight Helmet continuing through cabin wall ,stopping at the transmission. Lead aircraft inoperative due to
"battle damage", being number two, lead of next lift falls to us, Warrior 21 takes right seat, I remain in left seat, prepare to crank, pull trigger, nothing! Right seat tries, nothing again, can't start the aircraft, no power to the starter, recheck switch settings, everything set right, still no joy...21 bails out, runs to next aircraft in line, leaving us to figure out why the thing won't start??? Another inspection reveals a round entered the left-hand pilot's door post, severing a wire bundle which apparently had the
connection from the collective starter switches to the starter! Never saw it on the first post flight inspection, thought we weregood to go, superficial damage only...of the original 12 aircraft, eight remained flyable after the first lift, six after the second and four after the third and last lift, no one went down in the LZ, everybody limped back to the staging area, only to be grounded for battle damage, no casualties in the flight crews, the ARVN took a beating, never did get out of the LZ, APCs refused to assault the tree line, leaving the Rangers between them and the VC in thetree line, stayed there two days, finally the VC pulled up stakes and melted away, leaving the ARVN battered and bloody, to police up the battlefield, lick their wounds and go home. Just another day in the life of a Slick Pilot in 1965 in the Delta. Awards....."6" got a
Silver Star....lift pilots got Air Medal with "V" Device...ground crews and maintenance got a lot of work...all AC patched up enough to fly back to Soc Trang...what fun...you mean those wind screens are
not bullet proof?????? PS; a total of eight hits on my AC, never heard one, too busy flying, however did notice the rounds through through the wind screens, thought that was all we got, until we inspected the aircraft at the staging area....also windscreens did not shatter, just some nice spider web looking holes. left as evidence....
Vinh Long RVN
A Co. 101st. Avn. Bn.
Soc Trang RVN
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