Saber Article Index

2014 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

I had recently been updated in January by MEDEVAC gunner Ricky Goodson that Bill Walsh had hit a low point in his fight with cancer, but no word since. Thinking the better, I e-mailed Bill to see if he was up for the July 2014 1st Cav Reunion in Chicago where he lives.

I got no reply so I just contacted Ricky who did reply: "Bill died week before last. He was buried last Tuesday. I flew up Monday and back Tuesday after the funeral. He was buried in Lincoln National Cemetery. He had a military funeral, twenty-one gun salute, taps, bag pipes playing Garyowen, and flag folding. The cemetery was a miniature Arlington. Very nice and no cost to the family. Head stone like the ones in Arlington. Name, rank, religion and branch of service etc.

"I talked to him a couple of days before he died. He was ready to go. A lot of pain, tired of fighting it and made his peace with God. Largest funeral I have ever been to. Police buddies, two motorcycle clubs dressed in their colors and his VFW buddies. Patriot guard (25-30 bikes) and police escort to the cemetery.

"Sent you an e-mail after I talked to him before he died. Don't know if I had your right e-address. I am going to miss him. We kept in pretty close contact until he got so bad and was in and out of the hospital. Communicated through his brother after he got down. Don't you go up and die. You two are the only ones I have been in contact with from days gone by. Keep in touch, Ricky."

Bill was a Medic in C 2-7 Cav after I left in '69, and flew on MEDEVAC with Ricky the door gunner as I had, after I left in July '70. Bill was a Chicago cop as well. Sad news. R.I.P. Bill.

I received a call from Mike Lorber of Mt. Pleasant, WI who e-mailed, "It was a pleasure speaking with you this morning, Mike. To recap our conversation, a good friend of mine, Scott Drabant, is joining the 1st Cav Association (and Northern Illinois' Sheridan Chapter) and will attend the Reunion this coming July. Scott was assigned to the 15th MED Bn. at Ft. Hood from 1976 to 1973. He was a SP5 Medic. Scott does not recall specifically where on-base he was attached to. Scott is now a hospital pharmacist at the McHenry Medical Center, McHenry, Illinois. It would be a great morale boost for a new member if you could mention his name in an upcoming SABER. Take care, Mike, and maybe(?) rethink about attending the Chicago Reunion."

I told Mike that traveling these days is a nightmare and I've been to so many Reunions, getting strip searched every time I go through the airports isn't worth it. Mike says he joined the Army as a clerk typist to avoid Vietnam but was surprised with orders to there and served as the company clerk for HHC 3rd Brigade Apr '67-'68. He says that he sometimes was asked to be an M-60 gunner on "Snoopy" scout helicopters, and ironically did that as well. I spoke to Dave Barron, of Peoria, AZ on the phone, who said he was a U.S. Army helicopter crew chief in 1-9 Cav Apr '75 to Aug '75 at Ft. Hood. Dave has the following information: "I am with Light Horse Legacy, a non-profit out of Peoria AZ. We have one UH-1D, two OH-58s and a Marine UH-34D helicopter. LHL uses the aircraft as an outreach to inform Veterans and their families of the services available for PTSD issues. We support the West Side Veterans Center in Peoria in particular.

"I am attempting, with no real luck after some weeks to locate any information, in particular details including an aircraft tail number of a UH-1H Huey MEDEVAC helicopter crash that occurred in 1969. The details of the incident are as follows; Date: 14 Feb. 1969 (Yes Valentines day) Unit: 15th Medical Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division Location: Binh Long Province, South Viet Nam Know details: Upon approach to a LZ (landing zone) the aircraft came under hostile fire and crashed collapsing the landing gear. Upon exit the Crew Chief and Medic were struck by the rotor system and killed. (this was from personal history from the Ashtabula, Ohio city oral history Website). The pilots were uninjured. Not much else is known. Personnel involved: Gary Lynn Dubach (crew chief), Stephen Lawrence Shumacher (Medic).

"We have acquired another UH-1H that served in the 15th MED Bn. during that time and is quite possibly the aircraft these crewmen died in. Our use of the aircraft will be to serve as the focal point of our mission in support of the fifty year Vietnam commemorative. We are an official DoD partner in this effort. The aircraft will be an interactive piece and will travel to different locations during the three years for the commemorative from 2015 thru 2018, ending as a permanent display at a yet to be determined location.

"If in fact his is the aircraft involved in that shoot down, then the focus will change. To that end we need a copy of the official report of the incident that includes the details and the aircraft tail number i.e. 67-17174.

"I'm sure, as a retired Firefighter/Paramedic and a Veteran of the Air Cavalry myself that the report is quite accessible if this information crosses the right desk. Thank you for your help, Dave Barron, 8150 N. 104th Ave., Peoria, Az 85345 (602)377-6442.

I just spoke to Dave and he forwarded from MEDEVAC pilot Gil Gatto kbrgil@yahoo.com : "All I know about that mission was they were shot down and made a hard landing. From what I remember Dubach was shot leaving the aircraft and Schumacher ran to his aid, the skid collapsed and the rotor hit Schumacher killing him. "It is possible Dubach was hit by the rotor blade. Can't Remember for sure! It was during TET of '69 in the area called the Parrots Beak not far from Tay Ninh.

"They both are responsible for saving a lot of lives, showing courage on every mission putting their lives on the line. I had flown a lot of hot missions with both of them. They were well liked, respected and trusted by all the crew members and pilots.

"I wish I knew more about the mission. But, it was a great loss for us. Hope this helps some. Gil Gatto MEDEVAC 20."

I received snail mail from William Bennett of Weston, WV who was in 8th Engineers Jun '66 to Dec '67. He wants information about when they were working near the South China Sea Jul-Sep [doesn't say which year] when they were ambushed. His platoon sergeant was wounded and aeromedically evacuated [doesn't specify by whom]. If someone may be able to remember with this vagueness anything like that you can call him at (304)269-7158 to find out more, or e-mail me.

I received an e-mail from Vince Laurich retredeye@verizon.net who was a lieutenant in A 5-7 Mar-Jun '68-short tour because of wounds received-sending: "Subject: Three War Medic-Mike, First let me say I always enjoy your thoughts and comments in the Saber. Just in case you need some personal stuff whenever you have space or need a filler. A note about a 15th MED treasure pushing ninety who many troops and peers might remember from along the way. I know he would love the contact with old friends. The attached photo is Harry Heater and I. Harry has seniority over me. I'm the bearded guy with the good looking hat. Thanks for all you do.

"A special trooper. Career Medic. Last spring I attended a Traveling Wall exhibit at the Hatfield American Legion in Hatfield, PA and met an incredible man, SFC Harry (Doc) Heater, who served in three wars: WW2 as a ships Medic/aid on Army Troop ships, in Korea with the 1st Cav, and went over to Vietnam in '65 in support of the CAV MEDEVAC\15th MED. Another tour, supporting 1-8th Cav in '67.

"Small world dept., he had spent numerous tours at Valley Forge General Hospital, the last in '68/'69 when he retired as NCOIC. He hugged me with enthusiasm when I told him I was a patient at VFGH in '68/'69 time frame. Today he writes great poetry and lives in Spring City, PA. Certainly one of those special folks we meet along the way. He laughs and embraces life with a million stories. I know he would surely enjoy hearing from others who remember Sgt. Heater. <Docheater8thcav@comcast.net>

"The photo was taken at the Wall on Veterans Day, Nov 2013. Harry tries to go down every year. Always smiling. Usually sitting on a bench near the Soldiers statues holding court and telling jokes and stories. Vince Laurich A 5-7 '68."

'67-'68 MEDEVAC crew chief Randy Brewer <randelljbrewer@bellsouth.net > sent the following: "Dear Mike: LTC Turner was new to us in July, '68, having arrived in June. On July 24th, we were called for a hoist mission, my ship was MEDEVAC 458. Art Jacobs was a/c. We were badly shot up. We returned, got another aircraft, returned to the location, and were shot up again. I was crew chief on the first two aircraft.

"The third ship, had it's assigned crew chief, returned to location, and was shot down. No more aircraft. Plt. Leader, Maj. Dorris Goodman got a ship out of maintenance for a one time flight- he was a/c, CW Magin was co-pilot, I was crew chief, can't remember the gunner.

"As we lifted off, I felt the ship rock, looked up and there sat LTC Turner. I (a SP\5) said, 'Colonel, you can't go on this one, we may not come back.' He replied, 'I am TOO going!' Goodman lifted off saying we had no time to argue.

"We still had radio contact with the downed aircraft. I saw yellow smoke at 9:00 o'clock which was confirmed. Goodman began to set up his approach and I noticed Turner was unarmed. I knew Jacobs was injured, Turner would have to leave the aircraft, we had no idea where or how many NVA were in the area. I gave him my unauthorized Colt .45 & two magazines, and then, I unwrapped my precious M-79 from my field jacket (court martial offense- but I wasn't about to send my CO out unarmed) loaded it with a canister round, showed him the safety, gave him three more rounds, Goodman came in like a bat out of hell, flared and landed.

"LTC Turner ran for CW Jacobs, who was shot in the arm, grabbed him under one arm and brought him back to the ship, the rest of the crew came running with guns, ammo, and radios, and we di-di-mao'd the AO post haste. LTC Turner unloaded the M-79 and returned it and my .45 with a grin and a 'Thank you.' Never said another word about it.

"458 was so badly shot up it was sent back to the states and I got a 'new' rebuilt 'H' model; MEDEVAC 578. Since I was getting 'short,' it was decided to keep 578 at Evans for VIP missions, so I had the privilege of flying with our new CO quite a bit. What a great guy- 180 degrees better than the last CO.

"When we went somewhere on a VIP mission, he gave the pilots money for lunch for them and the crew too. He treated us so well we found it hard to believe after the CO before. I took quite a few photos of him- enclosing what I consider the best.

"578 eventually had to be sent to LZ Jane and I went with it until my last two days in country-but I'll never forget the courage, honor, and compassion LTC Turner had for 'his' men. He was truly a man among men. I had just received a Christmas card from him when he passed- a real shocker. (former) SP\5 Randy Brewer- MEDEVAC 458\578 Oct. 3, '67- Oct.3, '68 P.S. The downed aircraft had to be destroyed by artillery & napalm."

After reading in the last Saber about the crewmen killed in Nov. '68 Randy said: "I just received the March\April SABER and saw the article about MEDEVAC 18. I heard about their being shot down after I got back to the states, but didn't know the specifics. I flew with both Doran and Beals, and knew John Alling quite well. Have quite a few photos of him. I was contacted by his family some years ago seeking information, but I really didn't know the circumstances of his demise. I did make copies of all the photos I had of him and told the family we were good friends. I have long since lost all contact information I had with them. I did not know the other two [gunner and Medic] so they must have come into MEDEVAC after I left Oct.3, '68."

Randy adds: "I heard about Doran and Beals getting shot down after I got home. I heard that they were shot down and I also heard that a B-40 rocket went right up the exhaust on their aircraft."

I think I had heard about that incident even in 1970 as one of the MEDEVAC horror stories passed down by word of mouth. B-40 rocket up the exhaust. When they were dead hits like that, all die.

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