War Stories 2

Enjoy the stories in this section. Some of them may even have been true!! Have a favorite war story you've been relating over the years? Well sit down and shoot us a draft of it. Don't worry, we'll do our best to correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling before we publish it. to us and we'll publish them for all to enjoy.

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By: Flight Platoon SGT James McDonald

The Medevac call was, a Trooper Hit.... We went out on a balls-to-the-wall, pick-up and wound up with a Shepherd in a rigid litter that was passing as a GI. It seems the Scout Dog had a head wound, with an Abdominal Patch Bandage (APB) on like a bonnet, and he looked like the 'Grandmother Character' in Little Red Riding Hood.

Truth: You won't believe this. The handler had accidentally cut the dog with a machete while they were tracking the enemy. No one had thought of complications or SOP (Standing Operating Procedure) and, because of their love of the dog, the Ground-Pounders wanted an immediate pick-up. The Patrol Leader called in a WIA (Wounded in Action) Medevac request.

We picked up a Blue Max (Gunbird) escort, as the AO (Area of Operations) was known to be periodically hot. After we boogied to the coordinates, we established ground radio contact and called for the smoke. The gunner identified the smoke color as 'goofy grape,' which was verified, and, as the crew chief and gunner directed the AC (Aircraft Commander) down through the canopy, I kicked off a semi-rigid litter through the hole in the triple canopy jungle and started lowering the hoist.

On the ground, the patient was strapped in and hooked to the hoist cable. I spoke to the pilot over the intercom: "Patient is hooked up, I'll take the slack, and you take the weight" (which he did). "Okay....here he comes....half-way to the skid....at the skid......(then, a long pause)....the patient is half-way back down.......the patient is back on the ground." The gunner and I had gotten the hell scared out of us, for as we reached to grab the canvas handles of the litter of the hooded semi-rigid litter, all I could see was the Biggest Rack of Teeth I'd ever seen in my life. I think I pissed my Nomex pants. The pilot roared, "What the hell is going on back there!" I said, "Tell them to un-hook the litter, and I'll retrieve the cable and send it back down with the jungle penetrator for the dog handler to ride up on so we can get that 'Big Bad Wolf' in the aircraft."

Everything went smoothly, as the handler came up and sat in the gunner's hell hole and helped in getting the patient inside the chopper. The dog's handler apologized, saying that he didn't think there would be a problem, considering he had sent the dog up in a secured litter. I said, "Yes, like a barracuda in a rowboat." All went smoothly, after that, except when we came over the FSB (Fire Support Base) wire and landed on the pad.

The battalion aid station's dog ran out to jump in the helicopter because we sometimes gave him a ride to POL (Fuel point) and back. When we'd drop off a patient, we'd let him get in a little flight time and return him to the pad. This time, however, as he was in mid-jump to enter the aircraft, he caught sight of that big "Rack of Grandma's Teeth" and was confronted with a 'snarl' as he'd never heard. That dog did a 180 in mid-air, butt scrunched, paws paddling and did a spectacular, medal-winning, side-roll flip and hit the ground running, in the other direction. Not only did he get points for his acrobatics, but he was graded highly for his swift sprint back to the aid station. I never saw that dog again.

Ironically, the scout dog was an active duty Soldier, complete with name, serial number, 201 file, as well as medical and dental records. I think, as an SFC, I did outrank him. After all, he WAS a dog, but on this run, he was a Priority 2 pickup, which graded him above Vietnamese Soldiers and civilians. If they had only known - I'm sure Vietnamese American relations would have been greatly affected.


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When was the last Medevac Mission?
By James M. McDonald

Although 26 March 1971 officially marked the end of duties in Vietnam for the 1st Cavalry Division, President Nixon's program of "Vietnamization" required the continued presence of a strong U.S. fighting force. 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 helped establish the 3rd Brigade headquarters at Bien Hoa. Its primary mission was to prevent enemy infiltration and supply routes in War Zone D.

The 3rd Brigade was well equipped with helicopters from the 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion and later, a battery of "Blue Max," aerial artillery units and two air cavalry troops. A QRF (Quick Reaction Force) - known as "Blue Platoons," was kept in support of any air assault action.

1st Cav MedevacThe "Blues" traveled light, fought hard and had three primary missions; 1) to form a "field force" around any helicopter downed by enemy fire or mechanical failure; 2) to give quick backup to Ranger Patrols who made enemy contact; and 3) to search for enemy trails, caches and bunker complexes.

"Blue Max," "F" Battery, 79th Aerial Rocket Artillery, was another familiar aerial artillery unit. Greatly appreciated by troopers of the 1st Cavalry, its heavily armed Cobras flew a variety of fire missions in support of the operations of the 3rd Brigade. The pilots of "Blue Max" were among the most experienced combat fliers in the Vietnam War. Many had volunteered for the extra duty to cover the extended stay of the 1st Cavalry Division.

On 30 March 1972, General Giap of the North Vietnamese Army began an offensive across the DMZ in a final attempt to unify the North and South. By 03 April, these thrusts became a full-scale attack. More than 48,000 NVA and VC troops hit Loc Ninh. Two days later, on 05 April, the North Vietnamese threw massive assaults against An Loc and announced that by 20 April, An Loc would be the new capital of the South for the North Vietnamese.

In April and May, stepped up bombings by B-52's helped blunt the North Vietnamese invasion. Large groups of enemy soldiers were caught in the open fields, and entire NVA units were destroyed. Helicopters and gunships from the 3rd Brigade saw heavy action at An Loc and Loc Ninh, engaging heavy armor as well as ground troops. The intensity of the fighting took a heavy toll on them. For example, on 12 May, five Cobra gunships were destroyed in less than 30 minutes by Chinese Surface-to-Air (SA-7) Missiles. On 15 May, relief units, moving down Highway 13, broke through and helped lift the bitter siege of An Loc.

The North Vietnamese were reeling from massive losses and began to withdraw to their sanctuaries in Cambodia and Laos. Their spring offensive aimed at cutting South Vietnam in half and capturing Saigon had been decisively smashed. The helo air effort of the 3rd Brigade had turned in a magnificent performance in support of the remaining advisors with the ARVN units.

During the period of 05 April through 15 May 1972, more than 100 T54 tanks, armored personnel carriers and anti-aircraft guns were knocked out in the area around An Loc. By 31 March 1972, only 96,000 U.S. troops were involved in the Vietnam combat operations. In less than two months later, the last of the 1st Cavalry Division, the 3rd Brigade, began its "Stand Down" in a phased withdrawal and was bought back to the United States, completing the division recall on 26 June 1972, which had started over a year earlier on 05 May 1971. The 1st Cavalry Division had been the first army division to go to Vietnam and the last to leave. I want to find out when was the "LAST MEDEVAC MISSION FLOWN IN RVN"?


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