Saber Article Index

1999 Sep-Oct

MEDEVAC 15th Med\15th FSB
Mike Bodnar
307B N Main Copperas Cove, TX 76522
1704 254-542-1961
E-mail: mbodnar27@juno.com

The 52nd Annual 1st Cavalry Division Reunion has come and gone, like all things do if you wait long enough. In the process I managed to see once again many familiar, and meet many new, 1st Cav heroes. Among those new 1st Cav heroes whom I met were veterans of MEDEVAC and the 15th Medical Battalion.

The first name that I would like to mention is that of Henry W. "Captain Hook" LAND III (Cpt. Ret.). Box 205, Tangerine, FL 32777. Henry was a MEDEVAC pilot from August '67 to March '68. That would put his last flight mission during Tet of 1968, when the 1st Cav Division along with the rest of the United States military was so very busy fighting off a widespread enemy campaign to conquer South Vietnam.

I can in no way tell Henry's story fully and accurately, but very briefly, during that Tet offensive Henry was piloting a MEDEVAC aircraft and while trying to evacuate wounded, received enemy gun fire which struck his hand holding on to the Cyclic. That was, needless to say, Henry's last flight. He mentioned something to me about working in pharmacy after that and his e-mail: <PHARMNURS@AOL.COM>would indicate that. Henry now wears, in I assume as good spirits as possible, a hook where his right hand was shot off. Thanks Henry-Sir!-SO THAT OTHERS MAY LIVE.

Another MEDEVAC veteran whom I met for the first time was John "ELKDOG" CRESPI, 315 Scarborough, Olathe, KS 66062 (913) 397-6318 ELKDOG@AOL.COM . John had a lot to say and was worth listening to. John, as mentioned in a previous column, flew on MEDEVAC from '67 to '68 as an E-6 flight medic. John wrote one of these Saber 15th Med columns previously, two years ago in the Sept\Oct '97 edition.

On July 08, 1999, I received a call from Bob HARDY of 201 Summer Street, Somerville, MA 02143 (617)623-3527. Bob was in A Co. 15th Med from December '67 to '68. Bob told me that his job was to set up the facilities when A Co. moved. Bob's time frame would put him through Tet '68 which he told me about, and then through the 1st Cav move down south to III Corps at the end of '68. Being in A Co. 15th Med he ended up in Tay Ninh where he told me that he had a reunion with men he knew in the 25th Infantry Division which was HQed in Tay Ninh.

Bob also told me that he would be at the 52nd Annual 1st Cav Reunion and so I made a point of trying to find him there. I managed to find him, in the short intermission time at the closing Banquet, and I was surprised that I had seen him at many previous 1st Cav Reunions but I never had a chance to talk with him. Bob is apparently a regular at the 1st Cav Reunions and has a long history of STANDING BY.

Another telephone call I received, but on July 22, 1999, was from Ralph TUTRANI of 04 Buckley Circle, Royersford, PA, 19468 telephone: (616)948-3437. Ralph was an E-5, originally from New York City, and working as a clerk in 15th Med starting at the beginning of 1968. Ralph told me that MEDEVAC-as usual-was looking for crewmen so he felt that he "could do the macho stuff too," and offered himself as a door gunner.  Ralph, after spending a short time as a clerk, finished his tour of duty, I would say, flying through some of the worst times in MEDEVAC history. Ralph said that his MEDEVAC career ended when he was wounded in February of 1969. Whatever Ralph's reasons were for doing what he did, ultimately, it was SO THAT OTHERS MAY LIVE, and I think that you can feel good about that Ralph, thanks!

Ralph told me that he called me because he recognized some of the names of MEDEVAC crewmen printed in this column and that he has had a bad case C.R.S. (can't remember s___). Perhaps some of those crewmen who know Ralph will read this and get in touch with him. Ralph told me that he now lives by Philadelphia but is a consultant, so that puts him on the road most of the time and away from home. I think that you can always write to Ralph's address if you cannot reach him by telephone; or leave a message.

I received e-mail from Bud DAVIS MEDEVAC791@AOL.COM 801 E 152nd Street, Tacoma, WA 98445, one of the original MEDEVAC crewmen. Bud says: "I flew with MEDEVAC in 1965-66 as did my best friend Mel ALLEN [2165 Hughes Drive, Oxnard, CA 93033]. We are both coming to the reunion again as we have for the past ten years or so, hope to meet you there. I'm glad to see that someone is finally trying to find some of these guys. It's not too hard to see what ship I flew on. I WAS VERY PROUD OF MEDEVAC. Your article was right about DUSTOFF. They didn't go into a hot LZ for our guys but MEDEVAC always did. I'll see you at the reunion. A FRIEND IN WAR AND PEACE---- BUD"

Unfortunately I was not able to see Bud nor Mel whom I wanted to see at the Reunion because I had spoken to them before at 1st Cav Reunions over the years. This is one good reason why I would like to see the other MEDEVAC and 15th Med veterans who have organized to come to the 1st Cav Reunions and have a hospitality suite like other units do where it will be easier to see everyone from the unit.

If everyone here mentioned can come from so far away, Henry LAND all the way from Florida, and he expressed to me interest in the upcoming MEDEVAC\15th Med Reunion in San Antonio, TX so I know that he would dearly love to get together with everyone from MEDEVAC and 15th Med, and if also another MEDEVAC pilot whom I did not get a chance to meet but came in from Alabama, James H. NICHOLS (LTC Ret.) 984 Winston Avenue, Elba, AL 36323, feels that much about the 1st Cav Reunion to come from far enough away to make it a journey, then I think that everyone at one reunion would bring out the many, many MEDEVAC and 15th Med veterans. I think that is worth considering and is a good item to bring up at the next MEDEVAC\15th Med business meeting; right men?

Gary D. Greene KIK6HBBA@AENEAS.NET originally from CT now from TN writes that he served with C Co., 15th Med from '74- '77. "I was part of the group that went to Ft. CHAFFEE, AR, for the Vietnamese refugee relocation in '75. We also helped to re-open what is now the Desert Warfare Training Center, at Ft.IRWIN, CA. Does anybody know Dennis REAP, I served with him in the Cav in '76\'77. He was wearing the Cav patch on both sides at the time. Also 1st Sgt YTUARTE; thanks, Top, you helped me get my head back on straight, it's been all uphill since."

Ronald J. FINDLAY <KAWA@PORTUP.COM>from Marenisco, MI says that he was not in MEDEVAC, but that he served with A Co. 15th Med from Sept. '66 to May '67. He was in Phu Cat, Phu Me, Duc Pho, and other places not remembered. He says, "What I will always remember are the guys that I served with, if not by name by a love only a Nam vet can have. I need help finding someone, anyone who was with me in Nam. Thanks R.J. FINDLAY, S.P.5."

Glenn SHEATHELM, 1530 Beardsley Ave, Muskegon, MI, 49441 3112 was an artillery recon Sgt. in D 1\8 Cav '67-'68 and wrote once again to find medics WEST and ADKINS or ATKINS in D 1\8 at the same time. I will send to Glenn the roster of names found which can be viewed at http://www.vabch.com/mssb/snore/web7.htm for anyone who would like to see it. If those medics were not on MEDEVAC nor in 15th Med then it is doubtful that we would have a record of them.

Many people think that 15th Med had control over the medics in the 1st Cav Division and I think that the Division Surgeon who was the 15th Medical Battalion Commander and the chief surgeon in the division was responsible but I think that when the line battalions needed medics as any other M.O.S. then they went to 15th Admin who got them from the In Country Replacement Center and then they were assigned accordingly.

I was sent the following e-mail description of West Point's own air assault school and I thought that I would include it to illustrate how much is expected of soldiers today to meet the requirements of air mobility; requirements that we as Skytroopers met through O.J.T. and just Army training Sir! I think that it proves just how good of a job we all did in Vietnam:

WEST POINT'S OWN AIR ASSAULT SCHOOL...

"When I was a cadet I was disappointed when I didn't get to go to air assault school at Fort CAMPBELL, my cadet company was only allocated two slots. This summer, 351 cadets went to West Point's own air assault school. That is about eleven per company. Since the early '90's, West Point has been running the school at Camp SMITH, a National Guard post near Peekskill, NY. This has allowed more cadets to receive the challenging training than ever before.

Air assault is the movement of troops and equipment by helicopters which includes loading aircraft and jumping off or rappelling from helicopters. West Point's school provides the same training as other air assault schools in the Army. This summer the school was run by a ten cadet cadre who were responsible for the daily operations of the school and 14 certified air assault instructors who were tasked from air assault schools in Fort CAMPBELL and Fort DRUM. The equipment for the school is provided by West Point with the exception of the UH60 Black Hawk helicopters which are provided by the National Guard.

The school is eleven straight days of training. It consists of three phases and starts with what is known as qualification day. First, cadets are required to traverse a series of difficult obstacles requiring strength and agility at dangerous heights. Then they run a hilly two mile course in eighteen minutes or less. This day weeds out the weak and those who cannot overcome their fear of heights. Only then does the real training begin.

About half of Phase I takes place in the classroom. Cadets receive an aircraft orientation where they learn technical information about aircraft and aero medevac operations. They also have a class called pathfinder operations which are hand and arm signals used to move aircraft.

The course then moves outdoors for static load training which is how to load aircraft and move into and out of aircraft tactically. A practice combat assault is the highlight of this phase. Cadets are loaded onto UH60 helicopters, go on a low level orientation flight, and unload tactically on a landing zone. At the end of every phase cadets take a written and hands-on examination. Those who fail are retrained and retested. Those who fail the second time are dropped from the course.

Phase II is sling load operations. Cadets are taught how to sling various pieces of military equipment such as a HUMMV, fuel blivets, cargo nets, and water buffalos so that a helicopter can transport them. For the hands-on test, instructors set up four loads and rig each with four deficiencies. Cadets are required to find at least three deficiencies in each load. At the end of the test, cadets attach the slings to UH60s for a test flight.

Cadets learn how to rappel in Phase III. First they learn how to tie a rappel seat and belay procedures. Then they get to do the fun stuff. They start on a slanted wall and then work up to rappelling off a 40-foot tower. They learn three different rappels: Hollywood (no equipment), Hollywood Lock-In (a variation of the Hollywood rappel), and full equipment. Cadets must demonstrate proficiency in all three rappel styles to pass this part of the course. This phase culminates with each cadet rappelling twice out of a helicopter.

The last day at air assault school may be one of the toughest. It consists of a formidable twelve mile road march carrying about twenty-eight pounds of equipment. The march must be completed in three hours or less. Captain Brian BISACRE, the committee chief for air assault school, called it the most difficult road march course at any air assault school due to the hilly terrain. This summer, Cadet First Class Ryan NENABER, distinguished honor graduate and highest academic scorer for his class, finished the road march in an impressive one hour and fifty-four minutes. Those cadets who pass all three phases and the road march graduate and have the honor of having those coveted air assault wings pinned on their chests." Karen (HADDOCK) FRALEN U.S.M.A. '87 <KFRALEN@NETSCAPE.NET>

I called a good buddy of mine, Howard ANDERSON C 2\7 Cav '69, of Oakland, CA, to wish him a happy birthday on August 26. Howard used his age and wisdom in Vietnam to keep me and many others from doing anything stupid, thus getting through hell in one piece while we still got the job expected done and he also inadvertently inspired me to extend six months to fly on MEDEVAC.

I would like to mention that it was Howard who was most vocal about the impression that MEDEVAC made when they came in and used the only available landing zone, the side of a fallen giant tree amid B-52 bomb craters in War Zone C, Tay Ninh Province, on June 20, 1969, after one of our machine gunners, whom Howard was in the gun team with in 1st Platoon C 2\7 Cav, was struck in the face by point blank tracer fire from a thirty caliber Chicom machine gun right in front of me. As it turned out, it was a good thing that I was there, and that MEDEVAC was there. I do not think that wounded machine gunner would have survived in any previous war, including Korea where they did use medical evacuation helicopters, as even there he would have been strapped to a skid with no medic nor Ringer's I.V. for the short but critical flight back to a surgical hospital. Again, Happy Birthday and GARRYOWEN Howie!

Bringing up the rear, ironically, is James F. BRODIE JBR8519738@AOL.COM from Bend, OR. James writes that he was one of the first members of 11th Air Assault MEDEVAC at Fort BENNING. He writes that, "I went to Nam as a TI from '65'-66. Back in country '68-'69, with the 227th 1st Cav. I have some pics and I changed some of my movies to video. I have the Flying Crane with the operating medical pod taking off from our pad in An Khe. I went through the whole list on the register and did not see one name I recognized, nor any entries from the first bunch of us in '65. Please, don't tell me I am the only one left. Maybe, we are just too old to use a computer; I know I just got mine. HHC 15th Med BN EVAC '65\'66 See ya, Jim."

As a footnote: Doctor Joseph W. "DOC" MCNANEY M.D. (Col. Ret.), who entertained us as the host of the Vietnam Veteran's Luncheon at the 52nd Annual 1st Cav Reunion and had everyone rolling in the aisles with laughter putting his commanding boisterousness which he is famous for-especially to those of us who served under him and kept us in line with- to good use, requested of me to put out a query for any photos of MEDEVAC that anyone would like to submit to go on display in the 1st Cav Museum at Fort HOOD, TX.

"DOC" MCNANEY told me that he was in the 1st Cav Museum and that he saw no record of MEDEVAC so he registered a formal complaint with the curator who said, by all means, send photos in to display. I would suggest sending "action" photos if anyone has any. I was always too busy to take photos during combat action but I know there are some out there.

The best way to send them is to first scan them so that you do not have to jeopardize losing them and then you can send them as a 400x300 pixel or so-not too big, not too small-.JPG file to me at: MBODNAR@MAILCITY.COM because my Juno e-mail will not accept graphic files. You can then notify me at my Juno e-mail address above that you sent photos to me so that I will look in my Mailcity e-mail, which I do not do regularly. Roger? I will submit all photos that I receive and but to the grace of the powers that be they will be immortalized in the 1st Cav archives.

Always remembering our 1st Cav troops on duty around the world; over and out.

FIRST TEAM!
Garryowen,
Mike Bodnar C 2\7 '69
MEDEVAC 1-7\70
SO THAT OTHERS MAY LIVE