Saber Article Index

2004 May-Jun

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

Chuck LAWHORN, '71 MEDEVAC door gunner and 1-9 Cav, died on Monday, 3-29-04. His family address is 175 Fiord Drive, Eaton, OH 45320-2754, if you want to send your condolences. R.I.P. Chuck.

I received a response to the last column and Perry M. LUSBY's inquiry about CPT Madison A. FURRH. Another 1st MED Sqdn. veteran, Tom B. LEWIS, of Odessa, TX, wrote that CPT FURRH was in HQ Troop, while Tom was in B Troop. Tom was in 1st MED Sqdn. from June '40 to July '45, discharging on points. He says that he enjoys reading about the old squadron, and to him, "...it's still, the First Medical." He also said that Perry M.  LUSBY's-who is a retired colonel-e-mail address came back NG.

Richard LEHMAN, a MEDEVAC 3, and "latemedevac" LEHMANR3@COMCAST.NET Olympia, WA says that some in 15th MED were awarded the CMB just as the Cav finally stood down in '72.

Again, I thought that this may have been an error because no 15th MED personnel should have received the Combat Medical Badge CMB, but '70 MEDEVAC PSG James MCDONALD "FLTPLTSGT" authorizes, "BE IT KNOWN: c. Specific eligibility requirements: (1) The following medical personnel, assigned or attached by appropriate orders to an infantry unit of brigade, regimental, or smaller size, or to a medical unit of company or smaller size, organic to an infantry unit of brigade or smaller size, during any period the infantry unit is engaged in actual ground combat, are eligible for award of the CMB, provided they are personally present and under fire during such ground combat.

"NOTE: After the Div Main left 26 March '71, it officially marked the end of duties in Vietnam for the majority of the 1st Cavalry Division. MEDEVAC Platoon stayed with the 3rd Bde.(All personnel of the MEDEVAC Platoon of the Medical Company assigned to the 215th CS Bn,.3rd Brigade (Separate), 1st Cav Div), were they not assigned on orders, organic, to the BDE, there during the period of engagement, were present, and under fire (Small Arms & Rocket) during the ground attack of the Base at Bien Hoa, by the enemy.

"On 30 June '71, the 215th Composite Service Battalion (Support) was constituted in the Regular Army and assigned to the 3rd Brigade (Separate), 1st Cavalry Division and activated in the Republic of Vietnam, in support: (the 2nd Battalion of the 5th Regiment, 1st Battalion of the 7th Regiment, 2nd Battalion of the 8th Regiment and 1st Battalion of the 12th Regiment along with specialized support units as "F" Troop, 9th Cavalry and Delta Company, 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion and "C" Company, 8th Engineer Battalion helped establish the 3rd Brigade headquarters at Bien Hoa). The 215th participated in four campaigns, including Counter Offensive Phase VII, Consolidation I and II and Cease Fire. In addition the unit was awarded the Meritorious Unit Citation and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry. There were awards of the CMB. They were legal, justifiable, met specific eligibility requirements, and accepted by proud medical personnel. Wear them with pride, you know if you earned them. Platoon Sgt Mac"

As far as I'm concerned, if your company commander was not infantry branch of service, you shouldn't get the CMB. Brigade is too big, and too rear echelon, in comparison to the actual grunt medics slogging it out in hell in a platoon. But, that's the way that the A.R. is written.

Not even the other combat arms, i.e. armor and artillery, get a combat badge, only infantry. Recent changing of the A.R. to include combat Medics in armor and armored cavalry units are probably because those units have mechanized infantry personnel, and armored cavalry have some 11C mortarmen.

'70-'71 MEDEVAC PSG James MCDONALD CSMRET@TDN.COM thinks, instead of a new combat badge for combat aeromedical evacuation crewmembers, and certainly not the CMB: "1. To honor all Army flight personnel regardless of rank, DMOS, MOS or branch: A. Authorize all Army flight personnel's qualification wings to be silver (REAL SILVER).

"B. Authorize all Army Combat flight pilots and crewmembers to wear gold (REAL GOLD) wings. 2. This would recognize all who flew in harms way, regardless of their sky duties. 3. Special announcement would determine combat dates and zones. 4. Other specific feats or accomplishments can be addressed under Awards and Decorations Regulations (i.e. DFC, AM,). Think about that one; Clear Right Mac" We are still working on a combat badge for combat aeromedical evacuation crewmembers. Possibly called the Combat Aeromedical Evacuation Badge, or C.A.E.B.

Jim CALIBRO, '67-'68 MEDEVAC door gunner "DrillE7" MEDEVACCHOPPER@AOL.COM inquires, "Hey guys can someone explain to me the difference in the MOS for Medics. Some are 91A, B or C etc. Also did the Army establish an MOS for door gunners? During my day door gunners had a variety of MOS's. I think back then they grabbed whomever they could get and made them a door gunner, regardless of their MOS. Later I heard that they had a door gunner school. Think it was at Ft. Benning, I may be wrong on that one..."

Dennis CASEY "Lxuplift672" CWOCASEY@AOL.COM   responds, "Hey drill, short version. MOS  91A10=basic Medic 10 weeks at Ft. Sam E-3; 91B20=Advanced Medic, no more school, needed to make E-4; 91B30=same but E-5; 91B40=same maybe bloc but E-5; each of last two numbers meant increase in rank and duties so a 91B60 would be an E-7; 91C20 licensed practical nurse, additional one year school. E-6 30 would be E-7 etc. Difference was 91Bs were NCO hard rank like Sgt. E-5 91B30. 91Cs were all specialist from SP-4 top SP-9, only met one of those. "Conflicts were when a 91B would challenge a 91C on medical decisions. While the 'B' technically was considered an NCO, the 91C was final authority on medical decisions, and if you were a good 91C E-6, no E-5 almost never pulled rank. Now everyone is a 91W and I don't want to get into that-lol, hope this helps.

"All door gunners I knew had a combat MOS like 11 bang-bang. No Medics should have been a door gunner as this would have violated Geneva Convention rules that Medics are considered non combatants, that's why we carried a Geneva Convention Card with Red Cross on it..[We did?].

"Basically that meant if you got KIA you were supposed to be put in a different pile!  When the 's' hit the fan we all were soldiers, and then the MOS kicked in!  Hope this helps, I'm not an expert. I'm sure CSM Ret will have the correct and final answers. Best and regards, doc"

Crew chief Pat MARTIN MEDEVAC121@HOTMAIL.COM recalls, "I remember flying 3 or 4 back to back missions one night in April '70 out of Quan Loi to a FSB that was being overrun. We'd go in and land, loading patients, till "Chuck" got his bead on us with his mortars, then we'd pull pitch and head back to Quan Loi, drop patients, turn around, and do it again.

"In fact when this was all over with, we had flown over 17 hours. I pulled a running intermediate (that we got special permission to do) during this time, and even changed a search light out, laying in the penaprime, in the middle of the night (mixed with Quan Loi's red dirt, what a mess).

"What a day, but that was just a typical day in the life of a MEDEVAC crew. By the way, I know Iceman, he was in my PTSD clinic."

Don TATE "dtate313" DON.TATE@US.ARMY.MIL ALCON: posted, "My name is MSG Don TATE. I'm currently attending the Sergeants Major Academy at Fort Bliss, and I'm writing a paper on the Battle at FSB Illingworth on 1 April '70, specifically reference Medal of Honor winner Peter C. LEMON. If any of you were flying wounded out from that battle and/or have insight, photos, etc., you'd be willing to share, I'd really appreciate it. In any case, thanks for your time. Sincerely, Don TATE."

Mark "Duck" DRAKE WWIFUP@YAHOO.COM responded, "Sarg, Sorry I missed your call. The only details I can give you are the ones from my memory of treating the wounded and KIA's. I believe these fire bases were placed in these positions as the brigade commander knew where the VC were and wanted contact. As you probably know the headquarters for the VC and NVA was located in Tay Ninh Providence and was the greatest concentration of agent orange in Vietnam.

"FSB Jay was overrun just a couple of days before FSB Illingworth. [FSB Illingworth was named for one of the casualties of 2-8 Cav from previous fighting, John ILLINGWORTH]. It has been many years ago but I believe Jay had 19 KIA and Illingworth 28 KIA, on the FSB; it may be the other way around. My understanding that FSB Illingworth had about 410 men and all but a handful (10 or 12) were not wounded or KIA.

"Another point of interest about the massive overflow of casualties was we started receiving wounded about 2 AM and were still treating patients for the next couple of days. I also remember one morning in formation the C.O., a doctor in our company, came and passed out Valium to all the personnel in the company, and said if any one needed additional medication to see any of the Medics, and they would be given additional medication.

"He, to the Medics, 'You know where the meds are and take them yourself as you need to.' I believe this was after Jay and just before Illingworth. Do you have a body count for the VC/NVA? Because, if you do, it is probably very inflated. As you know the commanders were looking for recognition and promotions and many did it at the cost of American lives.

"Regarding Pete's lieutenant, he has Bangs Disease and is very debilitated, if he is still living. Bangs is a very severe form of Parkinson's. I no longer have his address nor phone number. Faithfully yours, Mark."

For those who don't know, the best, if not only, book on this subject of what was going on at that time in Vietnam III Corps '68-'70; the Dog's Head, FSBs Illingworth, Jay, & Hannis '70, is by J.D. COLEMAN: Incursion: From America's Chokehold on the NVA Lifelines to the Sacking of the Cambodian Sanctuaries.

Also, for those who do not know, J.D. COLEMAN was in the 1st Cav for two tours in Vietnam, as a public information officer, and earned a Silver Star as a company commander with B 2-8 Cav '66. He had also written the book: Pleiku, the Dawn of Helicopter Warfare in Vietnam.

J.D. is very professional and thorough in his research, and quite objective. These books are for the most part out of print, but many used copies are available online through: Barnes and Noble.com, Half.com, or Amazon.com. Ty CHAMBERLAIN MEDEVAC 25 '69 <TYC@POWERCOMPANY.ORG>wrote, "Here is the story [his] on the [MEDEVAC] patch. I got in country in the spring of '68. We (4-6) came in at An Khe and then moved down to Phouc Vinh so that is the appox. time [of the MEDEVAC patch creation].

"A group of us were in somebody's tent and we designed the patch. The only difference from the current patch was that the "MEDEVAC" was replaced with our call sign (MEDEVAC 25 in my case). It was a group effort but I believe I came up with the motto.

"When we were done, we went into town and had the first ones made while we waited. Originally, they were a Cav patch, cloth red cross, and then the letters and wings were embroidered as we watched. Quite impressive.

"It was a bunch of guys, a fair amount of warm beer, and much discussion. I do think that the original motto was 'So Others May Live' and the 'That' got added later. Time line was Nov- Dec '68.

"As far as it becoming 'official,' I did not know that until I saw it available at the Cav museum. It was satisfying to see that something I had a part designing was part of todays tradition. Part of the team is the important part.

"Wish I could give more names of the group but I transferred to 45th DUST OFF and became DUST OFF 25, shortly after doing the patch. And in the fine tradition of warrant officers, we created it, wore it and never asked permission."

Ty, also "medevac68_69" MEDEVAC_25@YAHOO.COM says, "Wondering if anyone remembers the pilots that were part of the group I got in country with. I remember Phil GIBSON, (maint. school grad), but the others are fuzzy. I do remember our in country checkout very well. We went out (IP and three newbies) on a regular training mission. While we were out, the radio let us know that there was a sucking chest wound calling, and we were the closest.

"Off we went. We got to the LZ, got the patient, and flew off to the hospital. On the way, the two in the back (me and one other) did CPR and kept him alive. I seem to remember Dan WARDEL as being one of the other pilots but I am not sure. I do believe we delivered our patient alive, but I am not positive. Hell of a check ride! Welcome to the Cav."

Ty told me, when I asked why he went to DUSTOFF, that he left for personal reasons. I didn't know you that you could do that. It had taken me months to transfer to the 1st Cav for personal reasons. When I asked about flying aeromedical evacuation without the guns, like on MEDEVAC, he said that he got shot down more on MEDEVAC with guns, then on DUST OFF without guns.

I just read in one book called: VIETNAM: THE HELICOPTER WAR, about a DUST OFF pilot, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Michael J. NOVOSEL, who earned the CMOH on 2 October '69. After a long day of persistent aeromedical evacuation of ARVN's in extreme conditions, he lost control of his aircraft while taking enemy fire. His copilot, Tyrone CHAMBERLAIN, regained control of the aircraft, and flew them in. Reading some of the other CMOH stories made me think that MEDEVAC pilots, that I knew, and had heard about, with their crews, did a lot of that stuff, but apparently the medals were not forthcoming. They just seemed to do it in stride, with valor.

I, myself, was awarded the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with a Bronze Star, after being shot down in March of '70, picking up for ARVNs in contact in Song Be. I was told that because we were picking up for ARVNs that no U.S. Army medal would be awarded. A good question then is how can they award a CMOH to a pilot picking up for ARVNs.

"BonyBard" CVM7@COX.NET wrote, "I was a MEDEVAC pilot for 2 months in July and August of '66 before being transferred to C Troop, 1-9 Cav and do not recall wearing any special MEDEVAC patch that 'we' could wear. However, I will check my box of patches, medals, etc., and see if I can find something! I'm 58 and getting a little forgetful...I do know there were some harsh discussions if we (as pilots, door gunners and the crew chiefs) were allowed to wear and have the MEDEVAC medal back then. We all wore them and I still have mine...anyone who served with the 15th MED Bn., 1st Air Cav Div., should be able to wear them! I'll let you know if I find anything. Crayton MORRIS, Phoenix, AZ"

Michael HERRERA INTREPIDMIKE_H@HOTMAIL.COM , who originally went over to Vietnam with B Company 326th Medical Battalion, 101st Airborne Division, from Fort Campbell, KY, in December '67, spent a good deal of time at LZ Sally. After being with the division for ten months he says he was somehow transferred to the First Cav and assigned to a rifle company, that was attached to Division HQ at An Khe, as their Medic, and spent a few months with them. In April '69 the company was disbanded and all grunts were reassigned to other line companies throughout the division. He ended up finishing his second tour of duty with HSC 15th MED, located at Phuoc Vinh.

He has stories worth reading at WWW.WAR-STORIES.COM/three-sisters-herrera-1969.htm  and <WWW.WAR-STORIES.COM/die-hard-herrera-1967.htm. Michael's main concern is the story about the good we servicemen accomplished "over there," that rarely received notice from the mainstream media.

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