A Hot Extraction
Every year at Veteran's Day I pay my respects to all our comrades who are memorialized on the "Wall". This year (1998) I ran into Mike Sloniker who is doing some work in chronicling the "helicopter war" for the VHPA. He gave me this tape that had been made by a pilot who was actually engaged in a hot extraction...Mike thought it was a CCN extraction somewhere in the vicinity of the Rock Pile. Knowing that I had flown CCN missions, he asked me to try and identify the names of those pilots whose voices I was hearing. Frankly, some of it sounded familiar but nothing was obvious to me.
Among the several hot extraction's we flew, there is one that I vividly recall following LAM SON 719...in fact LAM SON 720 had already been executed. Here is the story, we had
inserted a team in the Dong Ha area. I think they were from the group at Phu Bai...not Marble Mountain. The team was not to initiate contact but to set up a listening post tapping into any NVA lines of communication they might find. Not long after they were inserted...and I believe it was within 36 hours, they were discovered. In fact by the time we arrived on the scene, the team radio operator was in contact with us but whispering so low that it was difficult to understand him. However, I do remember him giving us a play by play description of members of the team being found one by one by the NVA and killed on the spot. I remember this because it was one of the most emotionally draining extraction's I ever experienced. I was a bit disappointed that I did not recognize any of the call signs or voices on the tape Sloniker had given me, hoping it might have been a Comanchero extraction. If that was a CCN extraction, Bravo Company was probably flying it.
By the way, did any of you know a guy by the name of Kirklighter? I think he was in 2/17th, but could be wrong. He was an aviator and his name is associated with LS 719. At any rate Kirklighter 's son, Fritz, is here in Washington serving as a DOD civilian. Fritz was in my organization for awhile before taking a job with the Army at the Pentagon. His dad has passed on and Fritz is always looking for stories about him while he was in Nam. If any of you knew Fritz's dad, please come on line with who you are, how you know him, and any little story you can recall. You'd be giving Fritz a wonderful present.
My deepest respect and love to all,
Jay (Comanchero 26/666 '70-'71)
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