War Stories

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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28 January 1971
by Jimmy A. Norris
Terry A. McCarl,
Historian, 15th Medical Battalion Association
WITH CONTRIBUTIONS BY: John Reed, Harry Halle, John Tabor and Tom Trifiro


This story is an outstanding example of the dedication of Army Air Ambulance Crews, 1st Cavalry Division Medevac in this case. Whenever one crew was in trouble, another would spring into action to come to its aid or to take over and continue the mission of the other.

This story is also a tribute to CW2 Warren G. Jackson, the Aircraft Commander of the 1st Up aircraft on 28 January 1971.

On 28 January 1971, the 1st Up Medevac Crew at Phuoc Vinh was called out for an emergency pick-up in triple-canopy jungle. A hoist mission would be required-the most dangerous type. The Aircraft Commander (AC) was flying the mission while the Pilot was running the radio. They came to a hover over the pick-up site and started receiving enemy fire. The AC was shot in the hand. The Pilot took control of the aircraft and flew out of the area. At this point, the crew would have been justified in aborting the mission and flying back to Phuoc Vinh to get the AC medical treatment. Instead, after a brief crew meeting, the decision was made to make a second rescue attempt with the Pilot flying and the AC operating the radio.

Returning to the pick-up site, they again came under heavy fire. The Pilot was hit in the right arm and rendered unable to fly the aircraft. The AC took back the controls and was able to fly to a safe location where they could be picked up by another Medevac and taken to Phuoc Vinh for medical treatment.

At the time that the 1st Up Crew radioed in that the AC and Pilot had been shot, the 2nd Up Crew at Phuoc Vinh immediately mobilized and took off to resume the mission of the 1st Up Crew. When they arrived at the pick-up site, they were overwhelmed with enemy fire. Miraculously, even though the aircraft was seriously damaged, the crew did not sustain any injuries. They were able to "limp" to a clearing and set down and were rescued by another crew.

There was great relief for both crews when it was determined that everyone had survived that rigorous day!

Account of the 28 January 1971 Mission by Jimmy A. Norris

In early 1971, the Air Ambulance Platoon (call sign “Medevac”) of the 15th Medical Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) was headquartered at Phuoc Vinh, RVN with 12 aircraft. Daily, we had five crews on duty; 1st, 2nd, and 3rd up at Phuoc Vinh, and a crew on a one-week standby at LZ Buttons at Song Be and another at LZ Mace, several kilometers east of Xuan Loc and at the base of Nui Ba Ra mountain.

On 28 January, I was the pilot for the 3rd up crew at Phuoc Vinh. Regretfully, I don’t remember who the other crew members were. Typically, 3rd up flew all the backhauls (transfer of stabilized patients from the clearing stations to either the 24th Evac or 93rd Evac hospitals in Long Binh or the 3rd Field Hospital in Saigon). I don’t remember my crew being very engaged that day. There was no requirement for either the 2nd or 3rd up crews to be present in flight operations, but could be anywhere reachable within the unit area. Because I was the assistant operations officer, I was in operations performing routine operations duties.

The 1st up crew consisted of CW2 Warren G. Jackson, aircraft commander—“Medevac 25”; CW2 John Reed, pilot; SP5 John Tabor, flight medic; SP4 John Uebelacker, gunner; and SP4 Harry Halle, crew chief. In the early afternoon, they were bounced on a mission for the 1/7th Cav who was in contact and had wounded. The location was to the north, northeast of Phouc Vinh and in triple canopy jungle; therefore, it was a hoist mission. Our unit had its own “Medevac” FM frequency; some missions were run with the ground unit on that frequency, depending on the ground unit's wishes. Whether we were monitoring or whether we received a call from Jackson, I don’t recall. But we soon learned that after arriving on site, the crew ran into significant trouble. I believe they approached the hoist location, but encountered significant small arms fire. They took off but then made a second attempt, settling in over the hoist site. They immediately came under fire again. Reed took an AK47 round in the arm and Jackson was hit in his left hand holding the collective pitch control. We in operations were immediately concerned; these were our buddies.

I knew that we needed to launch 2nd up to possibly pick up our friends—we didn’t know the aircraft's status—or at least to assume the extraction mission. The 2nd up crew that day was WO1 Tom Trifiro, aircraft commander—“Medevac 14”; 1LT David Sheets, pilot; SP4 Andy Kramer, gunner and regretfully, I don’t remember who the crew chief and medic were. Without really thinking it through and as an emotional response I immediately ran to the 2nd up aircraft to get it started while the crew was rounded up. Very quickly, Tom and the other guys jumped aboard. We waited momentarily for David Sheets, but then, due to the mission's urgency, I decided to take over the pilot's position and we took off.

We made our way out to the unit location and I remember that John Chisholm, platoon leader at the time, came on the radio and told us in a worried-sounding voice to be careful. We made an approach firing M60’s out of each side of the aircraft. We lowered the hoist while artillery was firing to our rear, a Cobra gunship was shooting rockets on our left side, and an F4 jet was putting ordnance down on our right side. I had never before or since experienced such firepower up so close. The noise was intense, even in an SPH4 helmet. Tom was on the controls and I was reading the gauges to ensure we didn’t over torque or bleed off RPM. We often referred to Tom as “Terrible T”. To keep things light and due to the excitement, I recall saying “Terrible T, everything is looking good for you and me”. A Longfellow I wasn’t, but it did rhyme! Just as we thought that the unit below had put one of the wounded guys on the jungle penetrator (JP), we began to take fairly heavy small arms fire. Tom attempted to pull straight up to get out of the area without being shot down or further damaged, hoping to clear the trees with the JP and what we thought was the patient. Knowing we might have to “blow” (cut) the hoist cable to save the aircraft and crew, I had my finger on the red cable cut switch—thinking I might be dropping a fellow soldier to his death in doing so. As it turned out fortuitously, the patient wasn’t yet on the JP. I didn’t have to cut the cable because the JP snagged in the trees. Luckily the cable immediately broke instead of adversely affecting our control of the aircraft. None of our crew sustained any injuries.

We could get a call off to operations telling them that we couldn’t make it back to Phuoc Vinh due to the damage the aircraft had taken. We limped over to a clearing near the route from Phuoc Vinh to Song Be, sat down, set up a perimeter of sorts and waited for the unit to send an aircraft to retrieve us and rig our aircraft for slinging out. However, it didn’t take more than an hour to get to us, because we couldn’t communicate with anyone while on the ground; it seemed much longer. That was the end of our involvement that day.

I believe that at least one more and maybe two more crews attempted the mission with the ultimate success of evacuating all of the 1/7th’s casualties that day. I am not certain whether the 1st Up Crew had to be retrieved or if it was able to “limp” back to Phuoc Vinh.

Warren Jackson was treated in the 15th Med clearing station at Phuoc Vinh and remained with the unit. John Reed was taken to one of the Evac hospitals in Long Binh and was there for several days. Some of us visited him while he was there and we all went to lunch at a really nice Chinese Restaurant either on or near the compound. For a 1st Cav guy, it was almost like being back in “the World.”

John fully recovered and returned to the unit.

Photos of Awards Ceremony after the 28 January 1971 Mission

After this Mission was initially written up, Terry McCarl asked everyone if they had anything to add. Terry and the Pilot of the First Up aircraft that day, John Reed, added this to the Mission background via email:

Terry McCarl wrote to John Reed:

So you weren't new to the war in Jan 71. Did you have any experiences with D 229th that were more harrowing that 28 Jan 71?

Reed’s reply:

I was flying Cobras with the “Smiling Tigers” D229 when we invaded Cambodia 1 May 1970...a good day. President Nixon broadcast to the world that we would be out by 1 July. Not a wise announcement.

As we were pulling out the troops in Cambodia for President Nixon’s schedule, a lot of slicks were shot out of the sky. My job was to escort the slicks into the LZ with rocket and mini-gun cover for troop pickup and cover them on departure. Charlie/NVA were waiting for us. A terrible day for us. My worst experience in the war where I felt angry, helpless and very sad. Many soldiers died that day. I will never forget it!


McCarl writes back:

Thanks, John! What a way to start your tour as a Medevac Pilot!
Was your Medevac Number 18?

John Reed replied:

Yes…Medevac 18…I was into my 13th month in RVN after a year of flying Cobras with the 1st Cav D229th. Spent a total of 18 months. Still couldn’t buy a beer when I got home! Cheers!

From McCarl:

Thanks, John! Did you get any other medals for that mission? Sounds like a "great" first Medevac mission!

From Reed:

Terry…yes I did receive a DFC later. I was in the hospital I guess when the guys got theirs. I got my Purple Heart in the hospital along with a picture of General Putnam putting it on. I really enjoyed flying Medevac. It’s only by the Grace of God that we survived that mission! Whew!

Reed continued in another email:

I can add a few details. I flew pilot for ”Papasan" Jackson that day. My first mission for Medevac was one to remember. We scrambled and I navigated to the contact/extraction site. We made radio contact and Jackson elected to fly the mission while I ran the radios. Upon coming to a hover over the trees, we immediately took hostile fire and Jackson was hit in the hand, I took over the controls and flew out of the area. At a safe altitude, we discussed our options and it was decided that I would fly the next run and Jackson would do the radio work. I remember coming to a hover above the troops and the right side of the aircraft came under intense fire. I was hit in the chest but my chicken plate deflected the AK-47 armor-piercing round and it went through my right arm. At that time, Jackson took over and flew us to a safe altitude. Shortly thereafter another Medevac contacted us on FM, and we relayed our status and took off for Phuoc Vinh but we were unable to make it. We had to land at a fire support base short of home base. The aircraft never flew again, to my knowledge. And yes, I got a Purple Heart.

Medals presented for valorous actions on 28 January 1971 were as follows:

CW2 Warren Jackson: Silver Star, Purple Heart
CW2 John Reed: DFC, Purple Heart
SP4 Harry Halle: DFC
SP5 John Tabor: DFC
SP4 John Uebelacker: DFC
1LT Jimmy Norris: DFC
WO1 Thomas Trifiro: DFC
SP4 Andrew Kramer: DFC
Presumably, the unknown Crew Chief and Medic on the second aircraft also received DFC's.

Despite extensive efforts to contact John Uebelacker and Andrew Kramer, we have not been able to locate them. If anyone has information on them, or the unknown Medic and Crew Chief's identity, please contact historian@15thmedbnassociation.org .



By Terry McCarl

CW2 Warren Jackson was given the nickname “Papasan” because he was somewhat older than the other Warrant Officer Medevac Pilots assigned to the 15th Medical BN in 1971. He was 33 at the beginning of his tour, whereas most warrant officers with whom he served in the 15th Medical Battalion were ages 19-25. He had served a previous tour in Vietnam, as an OH-13 Scout Pilot with the 1st Infantry Division.

His tour dates are not known for certain, but are estimated to have been September 1970-September 1971. He served with 15th Med BN from September 1970-April 15, 1971 when the Stand Down and return to the US of the 1st and 2nd Brigades of the 1st Cavalry Division occurred. At that time, the 15th Medical BN in Vietnam ceased to exist, and Medical Company, 1st Composite Service and Support Battalion (CSSB) was created (primarily consisting of personnel of the 15th Med BN) to provide medical support to the 3rd Brigade of the 1st Cavalry Division which remained in Vietnam until June of 1972. Medical Company, 1st CSSB was re-designated as Medical Company, 215th Composite Service BN on 30 June 1971.

If you read “Mission 1- The Rescue of Curley Bowman: 28 June 1971, in Helicopter Rescues Vietnam, Vol. VIII”, you have already been introduced to Warren Jackson. Exactly five months after that mission on 28 January 1971, on 28 June 1971, CW2 Warren Jackson had the distinction of being the only member of 1st Cavalry Division Medevac to be awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the 2nd highest award, second only to the Medal of Honor.

Below is the citation for Jackson's DSC:

The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Warren G, Jackson, Chief Warrant Officer (W-2), U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam, while serving with Medical Company, 215th Combat Support Battalion (Separate), 3d Brigade (Separate), 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile). Chief Warrant Officer Jackson distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions on 28 June 1971 while serving as aircraft commander of a UH-1H medical evacuation helicopter answering an urgent medical evacuation request for Charlie Company, 2d Battalion, 8th Cavalry. This unit had sustained eight critically wounded patients while engaging an undetermined size force of North Vietnamese troops situated in well-fortified bunkers, While Chief Warrant Officer Jackson circled the contact site, he observed another medical evacuation helicopter, answering the same urgent call for evacuation, sustain serious damage from ground fire and crash in flames. Disregarding his personal safety, Chief Warrant Officer Jackson immediately descended his helicopter through a small opening in the jungle canopy to the site of the crippled aircraft and its crew. Enduring intense hostile fire from enemy soldiers advancing from the surrounding wood line, Chief Warrant Officer Jackson remained in control of the situation by directing suppressive fire from nearby Cobra gunships which stopped the enemy's attack. The time gained by this act allowed the downed crew to be loaded on his aircraft for evacuation to safety. As Chief Warrant Officer Jackson began his take-off the burning helicopter's fuel cells exploded requiring him to make immediate evasive maneuvers to avoid having his own aircraft destroyed by the blast. Upon leaving the immediate area. Chief Warrant Officer Jackson's aircraft was again subjected to devastating small arms fire, but due to his calm and professional attitude disaster was again averted, Chief Warrant Officer Jackson's devotion to duty and concern for his fellow soldiers led him to the same embattled area twice again that day with his damaged aircraft; thus, eight more wounded troops were safely evacuated. Chief Warrant Officer Jackson's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army. Headquarters, US Army, Vietnam, General Orders No. 871 (May 1t 1972}

Note: This citation incorrectly identifies Jackson's unit as the “Medical Company, 215th Combat Support BN” instead of “Medical Company, 215th Composite Service BN.”

SP4 Harry Halle was also the Crew Chief on the mission of 28 June 1971.

I never knew Warren Jackson personally, but wish I had. My tour was about a year before his. Several who knew him personally describe him as a Medevac Pilot of uncommon courage and skill, admired by all he came in contact with.

He also was very appreciative of the efforts of his fellow crew members. In January of 1971, he was awarded a Silver Star, the third highest medal. He somehow ascertained the home addresses of two of his crew members and sent letters to the parents of each, giving detailed accounts of their sons' heroism and expressing his appreciation.

Harry Halle provided the following email with a copy of the letter written to his mother by CW2 Warren Jackson after the 28 January 1971 mission:

“Attached is a copy of the actual letter written by CW2 Jackson (Papasan) that he had sent to my mother after this mission. I was pretty upset that he had sent this to her as I had told her that I was NOT flying so as to not have her worry. I received a Distinguished Flying Cross for this mission. We received 63 hits to the chopper & had to go to Phu Loi (not sure of the spelling) for repairs. We never were able to retrieve any patients due to both pilots being wounded, but, we surely tried.”

Harry Halle
16 January 2020

Letter from Vol. IX, Mission 12:

Dear Mrs. Carter,
I’m writing in regard to your son Harry Halle, concerning a mission that we were on together on the 28th of January. I don’t know if he mentioned it to you or not but I’d like to add a few things.
On our first attempt to hoist the patient, bullets started coming through the side of the aircraft and real close to where Harry was sitting. He never wavered a bit, kept to his duty station, clearing the aircraft and searching the area for the enemy. We were forced to leave the area because of the heavy fire. The ground unit said the wounded man was dying so I asked Harry and the rest of the crew if they minded giving it another try. They all insisted on returning to attempt another pickup.

The layout was such that the only way into the area would expose Harry face on to where we thought the VC [Viet Cong] were. I told Harry this on the way in, explaining that I hated to expose him like that but it was the only way in. His reply was “Roger that, Sir. Let’s get the patient.”

Again, after we got to the pickup site bullets started coming thru the aircraft, this time up through the floor. Harry kept his cool and poured out fire from his machine gun at the VC. We don’t know how much good it did but the VC stopped firing so he at least kept their heads down and we were able to get out. The other pilot was shot through the arm and the aircraft pretty badly damaged so we had to leave. A couple of other ships were able to get the patients out later and they are all recovering nicely.

Your son certainly showed his true colors that day. His concern for his comrades and sense of duty are really outstanding and I’m real proud to have served with him.
Hope this letter finds you well and happy.

Warren G. Jackson

Medic SP5 John Tabor's adoptive parents also received a letter from Jackson. John provided the following email with that letter:

“Harry/All: My grandparents raised me and they lived the last 10 years of their life with me and my family. Your email got me to thinking, when my grandparents died we went through their things and came across every letter I had written to them during my vacation in Vietnam. I couldn’t believe they had saved every letter, but I could not bring myself to read them, I still haven’t to this day. Yesterday I got those letters out and went through them, sure enough there was one from Papasan addressed to my grandparents, I’ve attached it below. Jimmy’s (Norris) write- up of the mission brought back some memories but both letters from Papasan, yours and mine, brought back details I had long forgot. I remember bullets coming up through the floor close to me and getting hit by a piece of metal and of course I thought I was shot in the leg. We were all very fortunate and blessed that day.”

John Tabor

18 January 2020
Jackson’s letter:

31 Jan 71
Dear Folks

I'm writing to you in regard to your grandson John. I was the Aircraft commander of Med-Evac 25 on the 28th of this month and John was my medic. We had a call for an urgent medevac mission about the middle of the afternoon and took off at once. At first it appeared that to be a pretty routine hoist. Just when we were over the friendly troops a VC (Viet Cong) fired at us and wounded me slightly in the hand and we had to leave. John at once jumped up and gave me first aid. The people on the ground and the fellow they had down there was going to die if we didn't get him out at once so I asked John and the other crew members if they were willing to go back for another try. They insisted on trying again so we went back in.

This time a machine gun opened up on us, several bullets coming through the floor of the aircraft and only inches from John. The other pilot was shot in the arm and a fragment of a bullet hit John in the leg at this time. John didn't know how badly he was hurt but he jumped up, exposing himself to the enemy gunners and helped the injured pilot out of his seat and gave him first aid. As it turned out, John wasn't hurt, only stung slightly but at this time he had no way of knowing this.

I'm very proud to serve with such a fine young man as your grandson and I know how proud you must also be of him. His concern for his fellow crew members and patients is really outstanding. Hope this letter finds you well and happy.


Warren G. Jackson
Med-Evac 25

P. S. The patients were evacuated later by another aircraft and they were all doing fine and on the road to recovery.”

One can only imagine how proud those parents must have felt to receive these letters, and how much they appreciated an officer going to the effort to find their addresses and write these letters.

It must have seemed like Warren Jackson was well on his way to a highly successful military career in aviation when he returned home from Vietnam in 1971.

His detailed military assignment history is unknown, but after his Vietnam tour, he was assigned to the Medevac/Crash Rescue Unit at Fort Wolters, TX. Reportedly sometime in the mid-1970s, he was stationed at Ft. Rucker, AL, serving as an aviator. He somehow developed a medical condition that grounded him, and he was assigned a job as a ground aviation maintenance officer. He left Ft. Rucker and was told to go back home while the Army evaluated him. After a couple of years without hearing from the Army, he started law school. After a couple of years of law school, the Army contacted him and said he had to come back into the Army for a year and then retire. He begged them to allow him to stay in California and continue law school, but the Army sent him to Germany and made him an Officer's Club Manager, a position entirely unsuited to him.

Warren Jackson died in Germany on June 26, 1978. The cause of death is not known, but presumed to be accidental. What a tragic ending to such a promising life!

Warren Jackson is on the “In Memory Honor Roll”, a program by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund to honor Vietnam Veterans who survived the war, but died later as the result of their service. Indications on the honor roll page are that his death was considered to be the result of PTSD.

No obituary has been found for Jackson, but below is an entry for him on www.findagrave.com .


This story is “Mission 5” in Phil Marshall’s book, Helicopter Rescues Vietnam, Vol. XIII. It is the 13th 15th Medical Battalion Medevac mission included in Phil’s 15 books.

Helicopter Rescues Vietnam, Volume XIII, and Phil's other 14 books as well, may be purchased by going to Amazon.com and searching for “Phil Marshall Vietnam.”

If you would like a copy signed by the author with a written dedication, any of Phil’s 15 books may be purchased directly from him for $20.00 each, which includes sales tax, postage and handling. Send cash or check (payable to Phil Marshall) for $20.00 per book with instructions on what book(s) you want to order and where to send the book(s) and what, if anything, you would like in the dedication. His address is 1063 Cardinal Dr., Enon, OH 45323, phone is 937-371-3643, and e-mail is dmz.dustoff@yahoo.com  . You may also use PayPal. Phone or e-mail Phil with any questions.

Terry A. McCarl
Historian, 15th Medical Battalion Association

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