Saber Article Index

2011 Jan-Feb

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

I heard from MEDEVAC gunner Richard GOODSON richard.goodson@tyson.com who updated commo from pilot Henry "Okie" TUELL. Rick says he is putting in one more year, then retiring. He will golf for a living; hunt, and fish.

From Henry TUELL insredlodge@earthlink.net , "Rick, great to hear from you. I haven't kept up with many of our crew except Dan BRADY, Monty HALCOLM, and Lee CAUBARREAUX. I guess we were the lucky ones - I came back without any problems and kept plugging away in the Army trying to do my thing to make it better. I flew for lots of years then became a hospital administrator. Had a great career and ended up a full bird and was the chief of staff for the Army Medical Command. When I retired I consulted for CDC and helped them build their response programs. Got to be part of their 9/11 and Katrina response efforts. Last year I traveled with the World Health Organization team to help countries prepare for the pandemic influenza. Had a great time but got a little tired of the international travel. Ended up spending the last month in Africa.

"Retired from everything except an occasional WHO trip and really having fun. My bride of forty-three years and I live in a little town in Montana called Red Lodge. We don't have any stop lights in the county and are about an hour from Yellowstone Park. We have three horses and spend lots of time in the high country going to remote trout fishing spots. I didn't get my antelope or elk this year but did get eight deer. We have both white tail and mulies here and really like going after the big mulie bucks.

"Am doing some great volunteer work with wounded warriors. We bring groups out from Walter Reed to hunt and fish - gives them a good break from treatment. Reminds me every time we do this how lucky I am. Hank"

By the eighteenth of November is when November usually kicks in for me, and I always remember that I forgot that it was Jon WALLENIUS' birthday on November 17th. It seems every year I e-mail him for the belated "Happy Birthday." I tried again this year as usual, but the years seem to be getting to Jon who mentioned it's just another reminder of what he went through in Vietnam on his birthday in 1965.

Jon was an 11C with B 2-7 Cav which became a reinforcing company with 1-7 Cav at LZ Xray on Nov. 14th-16th, '65. When that fight was over and other units including the rest of 2-7 Cav came in to relieve, 1-7 Cav and B 2-7 Cav went into the rear to stand down.

The next day, Nov. 17th, 2-7 Cav and 2-5 Cav moved on to extractions at LZ Albany and LZ Columbus, respectively. 2-7 Cav walked into an ambush at the PZ designated LZ Albany, and were decimated. Jon had told me he was in the rear getting drunk at the time, celebrating his birthday, when B 2-7 Cav was mustered as quick response to the rest of his battalion at LZ Albany.

What Jon had told me years ago, and anyone can read about, wasn't pleasant. I'll try to remember, not only Jon's birthday in the future when it happens, but not to remind him.

Although it's too late now, Jon mentioned to notify of: SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 20 from 9 PM ET, SHAKEY'S HILL (Encore Performance) on the Military Channel. "In 1970, CBS News cameraman Norman LLOYD followed a battalion of American soldiers [B 5-7 Cav] into the jungles of Cambodia. The mission was to seek out substantial weapons and supply caches being used by the North Vietnamese Army during the Vietnam War. As the battalion closed in on the location of the caches, they encountered a growing resistance from the North Vietnamese forces. Rarely seen footage and first-hand accounts take the audience through each firefight leading up to the operation's climax, which came to be known as the infamous taking of Shakey's Hill. By melding field interviews from 1970 with retrospective interviews from 35 years later, SHAKEY'S HILL explores not only the events leading to this successful mission but the effects of war decades later. SHAKEY'S HILL, winner of the 2007 G.I. Film Festival's Best Documentary Award, is produced and directed by Norman LLOYD."

If you missed this you should be able to buy the DVD called: "Commitment & Sacrifice-A True Story-The Soldier's Story" from the Website: www.commitmentandsacrifice.com . That is where I had gotten it back in 2005.

It documents B 5-7 Cav in Vietnam and Cambodia, while they pursue caches in Cambodia, one extra large one which became known as Shakey's Hill-named after the first trooper KIA whom they had nick named "Shakey," because he had a slight stutter. It also follows up by documenting the veterans of that period, years later at their reunion. Then, the documentary goes on to Iraq with 5-7 Cav, to show the continuing commitment and sacrifice.

I may have mentioned it in a previous Saber column after I had first watched this, that it could have been the incident that we were monitoring on the radio on MEDEVAC. My crew was just flying around, like on call, at the outset of the Cambodian Incursion. The pilots had the radio on the intercom, which wasn't common, and I heard a unit in contact with voices yelling and screaming something like, "They're coming down on us!" Then a lot of shooting. I just thought to myself, "Poor guys!"

When I saw this DVD I realized it could have been this incident-and if it was, they were not so surprised because they were on the attack. I don't remember going in for any pickup right at that time. Of course, if they, or anyone called, we went. Somebody did, for them. Probably, when they finished what they were doing, and had time to evacuate casualties.

The DVD does show what I can confirm is MEDEVAC, because the door guns are visible. 1st Cav MEDEVAC was actually the only frontline aeromedical evacuation during the Cambodian Incursion. We picked up for all units. I remember extracting wounded from the Big Red One, i.e. 1st ID, 25th ID, 199th LIB, 11th ACR, and whoever else was out there, e.g. ARVNs and civilians; NVA if they were POW.

The one identifiable MEDEVAC crew was on a ground pickup. I can't identify which crew, but MEDEVAC. On one of the hoist missions it's hard to see the door gunner but it looks like MEDEVAC. I even thought it could have possibly been me, I certainly did it plenty-could have been, as well as any of us.

Another hoist shot makes me wonder, because the hoist is on the wrong side of the aircraft. It looks like the crew chief's side, and I wondered how that could be. Not knowing whom else to ask, I ran it by Rick GOODSON, and CCed it to Henry TUELL. Rick said, "Never saw one on the crew chief side, always on the gunner's side.  Don't know about Dust Off. Did you see 60's on the chopper?"

I got to the where I said to Rick that the film maker could have just spliced in a clip from some other time and place. Documentary film makers will do that to illustrate their point and maintain the intensity. Military documentaries do that a lot, so I've noticed, maybe because footage isn't available. Often, I can tell that something shown is not where or when they say it is. If anyone has ever seen a situation on MEDEVAC where the hoist was on the left side- looking forward to the front of the Huey, let me know.

Rick GOODSON also added, "I remember leaving from Quan Loi the early morning in May of '70 along with everything else that would fly heading for Cambodia. Remember picking up a general that went down and he used our ship as a command ship for the invasion. Flew in and out of Cambodia for quite awhile. We even picked up LRRP's a few times when we were not suppose to be there prior to the invasion. It all looked alike to me. Flew for about twenty-four straight hours one time and was starving by the time we got back to Song Be. All they had to eat from the mess tent was tomato sandwiches. I remember them bringing them out to the chopper and they were the best sandwiches I ever had.

"Don't remember which infantry unit was where. I just remember picking up a whole bunch of troopers from every unit from everywhere. Friendly and unfriendly alike." I got an e-mail from Daniel TOOTHMAN "Fang" danmedevac19@msn.com  who sent a link for a video of a contemporary SHook doing some fancy maneuvering to make an extraction: http://biggeekdad.com/2010/10/chinook-helicopter-landing/

He says, "I am sure you have all seen this before, but it's worth another viewing. Should be a thriller for all you Hookers...anytime!! With a little editing, a great ad for Chinook!!!! Among the best I have seen!

"Glad to see the troops approaching the ramp from the side!! An Army helicopter pilot doing his job-The ole CH-47 still going strong after fifty-two years. Aren't you glad the Transportation Corps was in charge of R&D and procurement back then?"

"Here's some excellent helo crew coordination work for a tough extraction. Make sure your sound is up so you can get the full effect. Love and miss those sounds...the engines singing, all those gears meshing and straining to turn the rotors to beat the air into submission. I can almost smell the hydraulic fluid too! "This is good. Sometimes in MEDEVAC we'd have to hold one skid of the Huey on the side of a hill while the crew would pull patients up into the helicopter from under the skid on the downhill side. We'd have to move them to the uphill side of the passenger compartment to keep the main rotor from hitting the ground. The lift-off was fun also.

"One night in May 1969 (I think), LZ Grant, NE of Nui Ba Den, was taking a ground attack and we couldn't land at the log pad outside the wire. We put one skid on top of a bunker inside the LZ and loaded patients from that side. As I remember we did that five times with illumination-Puff or Arty-the only light, 105's firing continuously, Cobras working out, and tracers everywhere making it a challenging hover. We had two birds working that mission, but I don't remember the name of the AC of the other aircraft. He was of Middle Eastern extraction and in our typical sensitive military manner, we called him Camel Merchant, or something like that. On one trip in they took fire from a .51 cal, but he didn't think they had taken any hits. We finished the mission and while they were hot refueling at Tay Ninh, they heard the tell-tale 'Whoosh, Whoosh, Whoosh...' of a compromised main rotor blade. After shut-down they found that a bullet had entered from the bottom of one blade near the aft end near the middle of the span, and exited the top about an inch or two behind the spar. The blade had definite unnatural bend in it so the aircraft stayed there for the night. All in a days work in MEDEVAC." With the new year, get serious about gearing up with your veteran buddies in Chicago for Welcome Home 2011, a Chicago Vietnam Veterans' Welcome Home Parade, June 17-19, 2011." Go to: www.serviceandhonor.org for the info.

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