Saber Article Index
MEDEVAC 15th Med\15th FSB
307B N Main Copperas Cove, TX 76522
MEDEVAC crew chief Rick FREEMAN
PEACELOVE928@YAHOO.COM remembers: "I had around 400 hours of flight
time as a MEDEVAC crew member. Flying became as routine as getting in
the car and driving is now. The experience of flying was heightened by
flying with the doors open so there was nothing between you and that vast
ocean of air. I enjoyed the flying, the aerial views of the countryside,
flying above the clouds, and low level and contour flying.
"There were some anxious moments. We went on a mission and were told
it might be hot so the pilots were maintaining 5000 feet. When we
approached the pickup site we were told we would have to do a hoist
mission. We hadn't prepared for that so the pilot came to a hover at 5000
feet so the Medic could take off the side door and prepare for a hoist
mission. This was a strange feeling being at a standstill at 5000 feet. I
don't think we hovered more than five minutes, but it was a long five
minutes! I was relieved when we started getting some forward air speed
"We were flying into the Ashau Valley trying to pick up some
wounded and were having trouble with the cloud cover. We tried going
above the clouds to find an opening where we could get through. We went
between two mountain peaks with the clouds obscuring the mountaintops so
it was like flying through a tunnel. That was spooky. Rick"
PARKS SHOOTDOWN@YAHOO.COM , '69-'70 MEDEVAC door gunner responded, "I
hated to fly in the fog, stand on the skid with a foot out feeling for
anything. But, the boys in the towers were good at getting us close to
where we wanted to be. They would tell us to come to a hover, then say
OK, start down; put us right in the revetment once. Ain't enough guys
on this site to get me into another bird!"
To which Rick FREEMAN
responded, "Shootdown, I didn't like flying in the fog. We went out on a
hoist mission one night in the rain and it was pitch black. They used
flares to get us over the site. Once we got over the site the pilot got
vertigo and almost put us down in the trees. The other pilot pulled us up
at the last minute. I haven't flown in a long time. I work next to a
small airpark and watched a plane today doing some stunt flying, loops
and rolls. Not for me. Rick"
GUNNERMADMUR@AOL.COM adds, "Hey Rick, Were you with us at the Battle Of
Hue when there was so much debris in the air you could not see too far?
Anyway, we just made a pickup close to the Citadel of Hue and were flying
back. Do you remember the antennas? Well, there they were and we were
about to fly right into them.
"The AC pulled the MEDEVAC's nose
straight up until we just about stalled and then does a tail spin and now
we are coming straight down. He pulled up a again and now we are in level
flight going back the same way we came. That was a combat stunt if I ever
saw one. I didn't want to see an instant replay. All the other flying I
"Yes, I remember Ashau Valley. If you remember Rick, I
was the NCOIC and I had to be first in line to get that Gama Globin
shot. When you looked at me in pain I thought you were going to become
some chickens...haha!! It hurt for 2 days. Try flying sitting on one
cheek. My butt never hurt so much after that...President Murray."
And, adds more: "Hey guys, I think I have a big advantage on most of you.
I was a radio teletype operator when I went to Vietnam. Well, that didn't
happen over there. Ended up in the 15th MED Bn. as a radio operator at
headquarters, Camp Radcliff. I didn't get along with the commo guys and
their Sgt. When they asked for volunteers for MEDEVAC door gunners I
jumped on it. My tour went from safe to extremely risky. Never lost my
"Peacelove flew with me thru TET at the Battle of HUE.
I know he can tell you that almost everyday and every time we went out
on a mission I either shot at the enemy on the way down, in the LZ, or on
the way back. Sometimes all three. The reason was snipers in trees just
waiting for choppers flying back and forth from Camp Evans and the hot
spots just north of the walls of Hue. You talk about setting a standard
well, it was pure hell. On many, many occasions you saw and engaged
company size groups of NVA. I believe Peacelove and I had a couple
MEDEVACs shot up from under us in a couple of hours. The 3rd one didn't
get shot up, from what I could remember that same day.
to mention one thing, "I am slightly color blind" and almost failed the
physical because of that. It proved to be my greatest advantage over the
other gunners and crew chiefs."
JTLAMMLE2@MSN.COM responded: "Hello Rick, I was your gunner for a while
as well as for Randy BREWER. Just wanted to say Hi and let you know I am
still kicking. I live in Moses Lake, WA. Send me an e-mail and let me
know where you are now......."
Dave "Tater" PARKS also mentioned
that during '69-'70 there were four members of MEDEVAC from Idaho.
Dave-himself, Mike "tater" SMITH, Jack "Willie" WILLIAMSON, and Don DUNN.
Dave said that DUNN didn't stay long. He wanted more action and went
to 1-9 Cav Blues.
Dave also mentions a couple of phone #'s for those
of you that may want to call. Gunner Richard HAMPSHER (989)354-3555.
Also pilot, Fred ALBRIGHT (814)695-6937.
I think that Dick HAMPSHER
had a CIB. I remember when I was first learning the MEDEVAC ropes, a
stubby blond guy, always with a war face on and a silver and sky blue
Combat Infantrymen's Badge, along with everyone else, making sure that
I was doing things correct.
"Thanks Murray for your comments on the [photo] album I'm in the process
of putting together, and thanks to those who've e-mailed welcoming me
to the party. I'll definitely be at the Reunion; also Richie KRAUS, John
WATERMAN, Ken WOLLARD, (Weird) Ralph TUTRANI, and Henderson MCKEE, have
said they'll try to be there. Also, think I might of found WO Paul HUTSON
tucked away in Ohio; waiting for Art JACOBS to get back to me with
confirmation. I've noticed most of you guys were there a little before or
after me, but I definitely remember your mugs as I look at your pics;
also Randy BREWER, probably Jim CALIBRO; and Bill MEEKS name sure sounds
familiar...I live close to Portland so won't be needing any hotel room.
Stay well...Bro Norm ROBERGE, Co C 15th...Apr '68-Mar-'69."
RAMSEY JRAMSEYMSI@AOL.COM writes, "I have added Bill PICKLE's e-mail for
you. Bill is now The Senate at Arms and is in DC. Thanks Jim"
"Medic Tango..Floyd" SR71US@AOL.COM "MEDEVAC set a standard for me that
no job or jobs have ever come close to.. in 30 years. I loved the job,
the intensity, the camaraderie, and the fact that I was doing something
'positive' in an otherwise...situation.
"I'm proud of the job I
did...however good or bad I did it... and I'm really proud to have been
associated with men like yourselves <POINTING people MEDEVAC 15MED the
all to>...I'm glad I extended for the extra 6 months...but it was time to
leave forever when I left. I was hallucinating...I love reading about the
missions...they bring back such memories...and makes me appreciate the
guys and girls out there defending us now...It also makes me appreciate
what you guys did...then and now. You're an integral part of the
leadership of the youth of today at work and in your own home. This
country is lucky to have guys like you Murray, Rick, and all the
others...As I've said before...I'm proud to have been associated with men
like you..even the Democrats! <LAUGHING>."
In response to the
previously mentioned crash of MEDEVAC 457, Sept. 08, '67, gunner Jim
CALIBRO wrote: "Mike, We had two crews out of LZ Uplift at the time. Ours
and the other one mentioned. Like everything else I couldn't remember the
exact dates. But a while back I was surfing through the old SNORE's
site and found a list of KIAs SNORE had posted on the old Web site with
the dates. Also Gunner GIBBS had sent me a list of KIAs that I think he
had received from Fltpltsgt which had all the information on it.
"The helicopter actually exploded and crashed as it came into LZ Uplift,
(that is another whole story in itself). It could be that they aren't
classified as KIAs because they crashed, I don't know. Corky WALSH and
his crew were flying out of LZ English at the time. I also believe CWO
CASEY was at LZ Uplift when they crashed. Jim"
"Lxuplift672" CASEY CWOCASEY@AOL.COM does comment: "Yes, I was [there]
and they were all shot up, BEFORE they crashed on [the] LZ; came in
smoking to my left, missed America Mt. to their rear, went 30-45 degrees
left to right, no capability of maintaining height, bounced off low sand
bag revetment, skid got caught and twisted and fell feet down. Only a
pilot like Roger ROSE could have done that!!
"The TOC was right on
the LZ pad and my station was outside where we guys from the Evac Plt
were standing by to offload wounded at all times. We heard all chatter
and knew ROSE was in trouble all the way in. There were three full crews
involved that night, not two. We did our best to extract everyone but it
wasn't enough. Mr. ROSE was 23 and he was a friend to this 19 y.o. PFC.
May they all rest in peace. regards doc"
After '69 MEDEVAC PSG
Gordon RUSSELL had asked me if the familiar MEDEVAC patch-which is sold
in the 1st Cav gift shop-was authorized or not, I tried to research that
and also ran it by the members. Medic Tango stated, "Hi Mike, I don't
want to take sole credit for the MEDEVAC patch, but myself and a couple
of others got together and 'designed it'.
"We then had some Viet
ladies stitch them into our green baseball caps. We used the crew wings
to represent the helicopter part, the red cross from our helicopter for
the medical part, and put the 'SO THAT OTHERS MAY LIVE' underneath to
represent our mission. All this was on the Cav patch.
"I do not
remember who else was involved, but it was a group effort...regardless.
"Sorry I forgot to tell you the time frame.. it was summertime at
Camp Evans, so it had to be May-Sept/'68. To my best recollection. Medic
That seems to be the case-although I didn't think they had a
summer in Vietnam, just one big one-because Murray GIBBS says that he
never saw that patch and he was MEDEVACed as WIA just prior to that. Jim
CALLIBRO says that he never saw that patch and he dates back to '67. No
one else has yet disputed that claim. Everyone else after that seems to
have worn, possessed, or knew the patch.
From Victor "DocAdams1"
ADAMS VICTORJADAMS@YAHOO.COM , "I served in South Vietnam with the 15th
MED Cav between Dec '68 to June '69 as a front line medic with 1st and
the 12th Bn. They called me Doc ADAMS because my last name. The guys said
I acted like Doc ADAMS on the old TV program: Gunsmoke. I was loaned out
to A and C company 1st & the 12th when I was out in the field. With 15th
MED I was stationed, A Company, Tay Ninh, and then at Quan Loi with the
company that I forget."
Bill "dad606" MEEKS
MEEKS_W@MSN.COM responded: "Doc ADAMS, my name is Bill MEEKS. I was with
A Co. 1st and the 12 Cav from Nov '68 till Feb of '69, then went to A Co.
15th MED, worked on the ward, then went to MEDEVAC in June of '69, till
Nov of '69. I have a feeling we know each other. You can contact me at
<MEEKS_W@MSN.COM>, would like to talk to you."
Damien D. VIERRA,
known as "Pineapple," from Bellflower, CA,
FIVEOINSC@MSN.COM , signed
into the 1st Cav Assn. Guestbook on 11/15/03, and was shortly after
welcomed into the 15th MED Assn. as a fellow MEDEVACer. He says that he
left Vietnam in April of '71. '70-'71 MEDEVAC PSG James MCDONALD (CSM
ret.) <CSMRET@TDN.COM>recognizes Damien as one of his SP4 67N2F crew
Mark "DocDuckXray" DRAKE (DUCK)
Longmont, CO, writes, "The Profile list [on the 15th MED Assn. Community
Web site] is a great idea! Comrades, please go to the list and fill it
out A.S.A.P., as I think it will help greatly in getting many of us back
together. I do not remember many names but many nicknames, please include
yours when you fill it out.
"Just got the new Cav Calendar for
2004. Quite a shocker when I saw LZ Illingsworth on the calendar. I
remember just a couple of days before it was hit, LZ Jay was also
overrun. Those are a few days I will never forget at 15th MED in Tay
Ninh, the 's' really hit the fan. A lot of good men were KIA and wounded
on both of those Fire Bases.
"I was X-raying a Lt. from Illingsworth
when he was handed a note with the guys he lost on the LZ. He turned and
put his fist through the wall behind him. He told me he was going to
put one of his men in for the MOH. Turns out that guy was Pete LEMON.
There is more on the Web if anyone is interested, just look up MOH's or
Pete LEMON. I talked to the Lt. a couple of years ago, he was not doing
well, can't remember his name. Duck"
CAMPBELL624@HOTMAIL.COM , MEDEVAC Crew Chief '71-'72, A/C #
67-17624, also sent as an e-mail address:
CAMPBELL624@YAHOO.COM , said
that he was just engaged to be married for the first time, "Go figure."
He remembered his Vietnam service, "Gliding over country breathless in its
beauty until you come 'on station,' and its time to do your duty.
Sometimes in the morning a mission called routine, meant dropping down
through pea soup fog into triple canopy. Or trying to save a baby burnt
by accident, who'll haunt you till the day you die with a pain that won't
"While it was reasonable to question what the war was about,
our mission was quite simple: to get the wounded. Flying into hell's
fire, without a moments pause, because death was the enemy, life was the
"You can feel your heart beat behind your chicken vest,
knowing what it meant to hear, 'Fire has been suppressed.' Hovering under
fire offering all you have to give, your dreams, your hopes, your future,
SO THAT OTHERS MAY LIVE."
From "SureShrinkAlpha" Bruce BLAKESLEE
BLAKESLE@UMDNJ.EDU "Wow. It is great to find you guys. I was in Phuoc
Vinh and Tay Ninh '69-'70 as a Social Work/Psychology Tech. Looking for
my NCO John BERNARD.
"I've avoided remembering most of my tour in
Vietnam, at least until 9/11, and then it all began to flood back. Now,
little by little I am more in your face with my history in the Cav. This
was the biggest adventure of my life and, in many ways, has been
ingrained in me and my life since. It's wild how you deny that until you
can no longer keep it locked down. Anyhow, it is great to find this site
and hope to hear from some of you. Bruce BLAKESLEE."
As I have
mentioned before, there is congressional legislation pending for a combat
badge for aeromedical evacuation crews as distinguished from the Combat
Medical Badge for infantry Medics. There is now a Senate version,
S.1487, introduced one month later by PA Senator Arlen SPECTER. One of my
senators' offices told me that it will have to be reintroduced in the new
session, as will the house version, HR 2587. <HTTP: cgi-
The senate version wording specifies either
awarding the Combat Medical Badge or a new badge which they want to call
the Combat MEDEVAC Badge, or also abbreviated CMB. My thinking is that is
nothing but confusion.
As I have said, having been both a Medic in
the infantry in combat, and a flight Medic on MEDEVAC in combat, that
there should be new badge created, and to preserve the exclusive,
sanctity of the Combat Medical Badge for what it was intended, i.e. the
Also, my thinking is that the new badge should be
called the Combat Aeromedical Evacuation Badge, or CAB. That would not
confuse it with the CMB, Combat Medical Badge. Two completely different,
and completely exclusive functions. It is like the difference between a
Senator, and a member of the House of Representatives. I do not think
that they like to be confused with each other, if you need to explain
that to them when you contact them about this.
As I have also
mentioned before, MEDEVAC and DUSTOFF were radio call signs in Vietnam.
When U.S. Army Aeromedical Evacuation was first started in the Vietnam
War, the first aeromedical evacuation unit at the time was given the
choice of some existing radio call signs for their use. They chose one
that did not have a combat connotation, i.e. DUSTOFF. That call sign
stuck and was used by every Army Aeromedical Evacuation unit in Vietnam,
except the 1st Cavalry Division's Air Ambulance Platoon in the 15th
Medical Battalion which adopted MEDEVAC as their call sign-as well as
they also were the ONLY Army Aeromedical Evacuation unit in Vietnam to
have M-60 machine guns mounted on their helicopters.
It seems the
1st Cav got it right because the aeromedical evacuation these days seems
to be referred as "Medevac," thus the use of the term in the pending
Senate version of the aeromedical evacuation combat badge. But, it
doesn't have to be what they want to call it.
Tell them so, if you
think different. We did it, they didn't do it!
The U.S. Army wants
to keep the Combat Medical Badge exclusive to infantry Medics only, and I
agree. So, not to confuse the two, as well as not to blend the two, the
combat aeromedical evacuation badge would be better named: Combat
Aeromedical Evacuation Badge, and abbreviated CAB. This would also be
more inclusive to those veterans of the Vietnam War's DUSTOFF who may
feel uncomfortable with the acronym term "Medevac" when there was a
MEDEVAC, and there was a DUSTOFF.
We were, and they all are still,
technically, aeromedical evacuation. Write, e-mail, contact your
congressmen, and the respective Armed Services Committees if you agree
with this proper, and distinctive wording. It's your country, it's your
service; use it or lose it.
Always remembering our 1st Cav troops on
duty around the world; over and out.
Bodnar C 2\7 '69
SO THAT OTHERS MAY LIVE