This is JoCo podcast number two seventy five with Echo, Charles and me, JoCo Willink. Good evening, Echo.
Good evening. I have thought about writing this for the past forty eight years as I wrote, I felt it was important to relate to those great soldiers that made this such a great company.
We all have a journey in life with many crossroads curves and offshoots, the synergistic effect created by individual journeys coming together at this point in time at this location created an organization that truly stood above the rest.
The quality of an organization ebbs and flows with the quality of the leadership and the dedication, personalities and expertise of the individuals present at a particular time during this time period, I witnessed the synergism of the unit only increase further with each passing month.
This story is important so that people know who the helicopter crews were and what they were asked to do and did in nineteen sixty four and sixty five, the Army ramped up the warrant officer candidate program to meet the expanding need for helicopter pilots in Vietnam. Between nineteen sixty five and nineteen seventy one forty four thousand warrant officer cadets were awarded flight wings.
Most were high school graduates and some had some college. The average age of pilots, crew chiefs and door gunners. Was 20 years old. Badly needed, they were trained quickly and given enormous responsibility to maintain a very complex piece of equipment. Our aircraft were not as sophisticated as the machines today, but the one D and the one H models were exceptional, forgiving workhorses without which this war could not have been waged.
Of the five thousand one helicopters that went to Vietnam starting in nineteen sixty two. Over three thousand three hundred were destroyed, were destroyed in combat, this undeclared war also could not have been waged without the young men that supported, maintained and crewed these aircraft. Average age of pilots and crews, 20 years old, three thousand three hundred out of 5000 helicopters lost in combat.
And that is a little excerpt from the introduction of a book called Undaunted Valor, an assault helicopter unit in Vietnam, 1969 to 1970.
The book was written by Colonel Mat Jackson.
Who served as a U.S? One also known as the Huey pilot in the two hundred twenty seventh Assault Helicopter Battalion in Vietnam, and he also continued on in the Army after Vietnam, becoming an infantry officer and eventually commanding a battalion during the first Gulf War and conducting the largest air assault in history with the 101st Airborne Division.
And it is an honor to have Colonel Matt Jackson here with us tonight to discuss his experiences and share his lessons learned.
Colonel, thanks for coming on. Thank you for having me. It's pretty awesome to read your book and then be sitting here talking to you. And before we jump into the book, let's talk about because the book the book jumps right into basically you enlisting in the army. Let's let's go back a little bit further than that. So you were born in in in in the Navy Yard in Brooklyn. And your dad was a was in the Navy? Yes, yes.
I was born dad was stationed at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in nineteen forty seven. He had been on submarines during the Pacific. His first ship was in Lexington until it went down. And then he decided to transfer to submarines at that because he felt they were safer than receiving dive bombers. So, so, so.
So he was on he was on the news. On what ship in the battle? Accorsi the Lexington. And it went down and he got recovered by one of the other vessels.
Yeah, he was in the water for about six hours before he got picked up by a destroyer. So then he transferred. When he got out, he went back and transferred over to the submarine service and he thought that the submarines would be safer.
He didn't like airplanes, man. So, yeah, I was born at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. And every three years after that, for the rest of my life, until I joined the Army, we moved to a different place, constantly moving around, dad, jumping from one submarine to another. Norfolk, Key West, Naples, Italy. Yokohama, Japan. Coos Bay, Oregon. So. Quite extensive travel as a kid and your dad was was an enlisted guy in the beginning, he started as enlisted, he was a master chief and I had 19 years in.
And then through the Eldo program, I got promoted to a Lieutenant J.G. and stayed in until he made lieutenant commander and he got out in nineteen seventy three. He was commanding the Navy base in Cuba, Oregon.
And so what was your dad like? I mean, was he going on deployments all the time when you were growing up or was that like, yeah, dad was gone a lot.
But in those days, the old diesel subs, they go out for two or three weeks and then he'd be back in and mom ruled the roost. Then, you know, I've been hit with a shoe, a spatula bill to back up her hand.
But dad was a disciplinarian. And from a very young age, I was taught that you say yes, sir. No, sir. Yes, ma'am. No, man. And don't you dare get caught lying. There was nothing that made my dad madder than a catchy line. I would get a spanking, never got beaten, but my little fanny got worn out a couple of times.
My dad, I learned real quick, but he was a good man. So his mom, though.
And so you're traveling around all these different places. Are you playing sports or what's what's like what are your hobbies when you're growing up hunting?
Dad taught me to shoot when I was seven years old. And any chance we had, we'd be out on the weekends out hunting someplace, squirrel hunting or deer hunting. That was when we lived in Virginia and Connecticut. In Italy, I learned to play soccer because all my friends were Italians and and I learned to speak very good Italian.
You come to my house and that was the way I spoke Italian, but has played a lot of baseball, softball when I was a kid. Typical kid things. Typical kid things.
What would you do? Where were you when you graduated? When you graduated from high school?
I was in Yokohama, Japan. And there I learned I learned to play football because we had to have every high school kid playing in order to have a team.
All the boys play in any way.
And that's why I learned judo took judo lessons while I was over the Kocon and really enjoyed my time in Japan. We were there for two years and I found it very enjoyable.
So then when you graduated high school, was your dad looking at you ready to throw you out eight when you turned 18? I go, you could go figure it out now. Well, Dad, Dad said the day I graduated, son, you have three choices.
You can go to college, you can go to work, or you can go in the military. But the operative word is you can go.
So two days after after I graduate high school, I went back to Oregon and got a job on a logging crew, set in chokers and then went to college for a year. Then the next summer, I shipped out on a merchant oil tanker, the South American trader, and did two trips to VA from Okinawa to Saudi Arabia on an oil tanker and then came back and did another year of college. And it was a pretty worthless year. So.
So what year is this? This is in let's say I went to college in sixty five and sixty six. I went out on the Merchant Mariners and then when I came back, sixty seven was a worthless year and at the end of sixty seven Dad was coming back from Japan and we had a little discussion about my future and I was going to go back in the Merchant Mariners. He said if you do that you'll never go back to college. And he was right.
I wouldn't have. I love the Merchant Mariners. And I said, OK, I'm gonna join the Marine Corps. He said, you joined the Marine Corps. They're going to take us both to the hospital, extract my foot from your rear end. So I thought this conversation is going nowhere. You're oh for two. Oh for two.
And he said, look at you've got a private pilot's license.
Why don't you go into that Army one officer flight program. So the next day I went down. Signed up.
So you had your private pilot's license already? Yeah. What was that. I mean, how come you did that where you just interesting. Like flying. Yeah.
The first two years I was in high school, we lived in Coos Bay, Oregon, and I got a job working at the airport, refuel and airplanes. And instead of getting paid in cash, I get paid in flying lessons. So by doing that, I was able to get my private pilot's license just before we went to Japan.
So you like flying and your dad says your dad knew about this warrant officer program. Did you recognize what was going to happen with this warrant officer program? I mean, in that introduction that I just read, you know, you're talking about the fact that they needed they needed pilots. They needed pilots for a reason. I mean, they were they were losing them.
And did you just think, OK, well, that's that's that's a path I'm going to take.
I thought, I'm getting out of college.
I really didn't think much about what was happening over there.
We'd see it on TV, you know, but no, I just I was determined I was getting out of college one way or the other, and that was the path to get out of college right then and there.
So I joined up. So this book, Undaunted Valor, there's actually there's actually three books that you've written called Undaunted Valor. The first one is this one, an assault helicopter unit, Vietnam. The next one is called Medal of Honor and then lands on seven nineteen. That's Vol. one, two and three. So in this book, you the way you.
Listen to me, or the way that I understand it is that this first book, Volume one, you're the lead character, even though the lead character has a different name, Dan Corey, that's that's this is your story? That's correct. And I mean, it's real. I mean, if you were trying to cover it up, you didn't do a great job because Dan Corky's dad was a master chief. He became an officer. You know, he grew up in all these different places.
And so you didn't do a is there a reason why you said, you know what, I'm going to change my name in this book?
It's just because my attorneys said that you want to change your name, you don't want to use your real name in the book. So that's reason I I come up with Dan Corey.
Did you pull Dan Corey out of anyone? Was that a name that meant anything?
Corey was a good friend of mine in college. And Dan, I just kind of pull that one out of the air or so write on.
So we're going to jump into this first book here a little bit and.
Well, here we go. OK, first chapter is called It Begins. It says, Raising Our Right Hands. We all took the oath of allegiance. Those of us that were flight school wannabes were escorted to a waiting cab that was to take us to the airport. We were there were anti-war protesters blocking the front door. So we went out the back through an abandoned storefront instead of bands playing.
As we went off to combat, as our grandfathers had experienced, we were sneaking out the back door.
That's correct. This is back in. See, this had been February of sixty eight. And in Portland, Oregon, at that time, as today, they had demonstrators outside the station, all in front of the metro station. So what they had is the station had a back door that went through an abandoned storefront and they would take us in and bring us out through that back door so that we didn't have to put up with. The protesters are out front.
Yeah. And you said, is your grandfather at your grandparents went off to war. But this is actually your parents. Your dad went off to war.
Well, my dad and my grandfather, my grandfather was in destroyer's in World War One. I served in the Navy back then and went to the big wars.
Fast forward a little bit. You get to boot camp.
I like this one section of boot camp. The hill was one hundred yard dirt and gravel field with a steep slope of fifty feet. At one end we were lined up by squad and four ranks of ten on command. We had to crawl to the top of the slope. When I reached the top, my hands, knees and elbows were raw. For the next three days, we revisited the hill each evening before chow. On the third day, I was really feeling sorry for myself.
Suddenly I had a come to Jesus moment. Hey, dumb ass, you volunteered to be here. You weren't drafted. You quit college and volunteered for this shit. So stop your crying and suck it up.
Yeah, yeah, it was. They say it was kind of a Friday thing that you as a seal sit in there. You're chuckling because you think, my God, what a bunch of wimps going up the hill. But, you know, once you guys have just got Muslim were draftees and we were in a state of shock because that was the very first day in basic training.
You spent five days in reception station and they treated you so nice. And then you get over to the the company and oh, my God, the drill sergeants were devouring us. So we start up this hill and I'm thinking, oh, my God, this is you know, it's killing my knees. It was all stones. These are getting torn up. Hands are getting torn up.
And on the third day I had the premonition came sucking up. So.
So you're going to boot camp with just everyone, just normal. Everyone is going in the army. Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. There's no there's no special treatment because you're going in this war.
An officer, you know, basic training was you were thrown in with everybody, draftees, National Guard reservists, regular Army guys enlisted and you all went to Fort Lewis, Fort Polk, Louisiana.
Fast forward a little bit. You get done with basic training. And look, you've got all this is the thing. I always have to make this statement. I'm not reading the whole book, people, if you got to get the book to get all of it. But so when I when it might sound like it's jumping around, it is jumping around. I'm just jumping through sections. The stories you've got you've got a bunch of great stories in here and and they're just tons of lessons learned.
I'm going to fast forward a little bit. You get done with basic training and then you go to preflight and you say basic training taught us discipline. Pre flight is going to teach us attention to detail. Cadet Brady Trade the eighteen hundred briefing. Welcome to Pre Fight. I'm a holdover from a previous previous class so me and the other cadets were directed to meet you and get you settled in after tomorrow morning. We're just like you and in this with you, first formation will be at zero five thirty and it will be frightening.
Our TAC officers are sworn officers who finished their flying tours in Vietnam. Now they're babysitting us instead of being instructor pilots and they're not happy about it. You can expect to get your ass smoked in the morning. Nothing you do will make them happy, so be prepared for it. This is my second time going through this and I'll try to laugh my way through tomorrow morning because it's the only thing to do, he explained.
That's all you could do, they smoked us that first morning, in fact, they smoked us all the way through pre-flight and the big thing at pre-flight and we didn't realize at the time was attention to detail, because the quickest thing they'll get you killed in a helicopter is a broken safety wire or a bolt that that's turned into slippage. Marks aren't lined up. So that's what they were adamant about there in pre-flight is Tiki's attention to detail. How much detail?
At the end of the third week, we had to take our belt buckles apart, our brass belt buckles and clean the inside to get the penicillin out.
Or they'd be the belt buckles apart, your shoes, your low quarter shoes. You had to be sure and take a black magic marker and go around the outside to cover up any any stitching that it turned white. Your uniforms, you had to take black magic marker on your uniforms, wear your name tags and make sure that that thread hadn't turned any white toothbrush. You better be sure there's no leftover toothpaste inside. That toothbrush was all those kinds of things that that they went through and it paid off.
I mean, it really paid off once we got the flightline. The idea of attention to detail.
Yeah, yeah. That's that's a common theme. When I went to Navy boot camp and I think it was as stringent as that. But an officer candidate school, the same thing, attention to details. Huge. And I remember they have the drill instructors at at officer candidate school. They have a they walk around with a metal ruler in their pocket and they're measuring your folded underwear to make sure that they are, whatever it was, four and three quarters inches by four and three quarter inches.
Perfect square. That's what it's going to be.
And if you fail. Attention to detail. Ours was a rolled underwear, nine inches. There you go. So and they they had a ruler and if they didn't like it, you'd come back and that Barrack's would be torn apart.
Beds be upside down, mattresses upside down, everything out a foot lockers. And Tarkowski, you'd be standing there waiting for you. God help you.
Again, I hate to fast forward through so much good stuff, but I have to. On the flight school, we did get a pay raise coming to flight school as we were promoted from E one or two privates to E five sergeants. Our pay went from ninety eight dollars to two hundred and twenty five dollars a month. Almost all extra pay went to two things. Haircuts and laundry bills. Yep.
Every day you'd spend half a day on the flight line in a flight suit and it was those grey flight suits over from the sixties. The Air Force or Navy wore an orange one the other half the day you were in fatigues, starched fatigues, and they better not be broken over from yesterday.
You'd they'd be breaking starch every day and they would start so bad that you had to work at getting your leg down your pants or your arm down the sleeve.
I mean, it was it was brutal starch. But by God, you had to do that every day in between haircuts in the laundry bill, there went your pay raise right there.
So that lasted well. And I know you were in the army until the 90s, but when I came in the Navy and when I got the SEAL team, I when I was going through basic SEAL training, the same thing, which is freaking crazy because that is the most pointless thing in the world, to have combat uniforms starched.
I think it was the Marine Corps, God bless them, was the first service that I saw where they said, look, you don't starch those uniforms. And they started just looking like normal clothes.
Yeah. Which was a good thing. I remember I remember when the army got away from it. I think it was in the mid seventies that, you know, you don't need to start your fatigues anymore. And then definitely when the the BTU's came out, it was a big no no to get those things started so. Well, I was glad to see that.
I wish the Navy would have known that because I had started Speedo's for the first ten years of my career. No, absolutely. As a matter of fact, my son was going through some of my old gear the other day and he was picking up a fair fight, a pair of pants or freakin twenty or thirty years old. And they're still you could put them on inspection. Ready?
It's Sergeant Boom. Once we completed fleet pre flight training, we entered primary flight training at any one time in nineteen sixty eight. There were ten flight companies in session. You ended up you get to pick. Well I guess you draw what kind of helicopter you're going to fly now you're told. OK, you get told and you get the fifty five love that aircraft.
Looks like, looks like kind of a dragonfly.
Look it's the if was bought the army bought them right off the shelf from Hughes aircraft and it's in the civilian world. It's a huge three hundred. You started the engine up then you engage the clutch which engaged eight rubber bands that started turn the main rotor. And so we got that going for us.
Yeah, but the thing had a ton of power. And down here in Texas in the summer, the thirteens in the twenty three is the other two training aircraft. They could barely get off the ground. Twenty five would spring off the ground. So it was just a great little aircraft to fly. I loved it.
Awesome Mom. About two months into our flight training, we returned from the flight line and we were told to get in formation right away once all two hundred and seventy five of us were assembled, as we'd have had about seventy five drop out of the class. At this point, our company commander came forward and address the class. One of our fellow classmates crashed that day and was killed. That was something none of us had considered at this point in our training.
His death would not be the last either. Another student and his flight instructor were killed in a mid-air collision with another aircraft flown by someone from another class. How there weren't a lot more merit.
Midair collisions always amazed me. A little bit of a wake up call.
Well, it was you know, you had roughly around twelve hundred aircraft at eight o'clock in the morning, leaving and coming back in at 11 o'clock and then leaving again at one o'clock and coming back at five o'clock. And most were flown by students.
So the students had anywhere from 10 hours to 50 hours or less. He got yeah he got one hundred hours total while you're in flight school, early flight school, the first stage there. So you had a lot of an experience out there running around and not that big of an area. And why we didn't have a lot more Arimidex. I have no idea. The the one student, the first student that we lost, he flew into a cloud and we hadn't had any weather instrument training yet.
At that point when he went in the cloud, people that saw him, he came out of upside down. He was inverted. And you just don't invert in a helicopter. It doesn't work so that he got killed that way. And then the other one was a student, an instructor, and another aircraft slammed into them. We lost them there. Those are the only two that I knew about. There were others that that did happen in other flight classes, but we were kind of fortunate.
We started out with three hundred and fifty. We graduated, I think one point fifty somewhere in that neighborhood there.
I get done with that. It's on to advanced flight training. This was I kind of had to there's a good leadership lesson here that I wanted to jump into says we are approaching the end of our instrument training. When we return to the barracks from the flight line the night prior to the meeting, meteorology exam, Mr. Clinton wasn't happy with the condition of the barracks and had gone on a rampage aided by a bottle of Jack Daniels.
Beds were overturned while locker contents were were lying on the floor. The fire hose was spraying water and the contents of everyone's foot lockers were everywhere except in the foot lockers. He was on a tirade. One cadet was singled out.
Mr Clinton was berating him. Evidently, the cadet was responsible for his five o'clock shadow. Mr. Clinton told the cadet to get into the push up position. Once there, he placed a razor on the floor in front of him and told him to shave. The cadet looked scared and I was mad.
I had had enough of Mr Clinton's crap with all respect for his rank that I could muster. I stepped forward and got in Clinton's face. Sir, you've been drinking and you are drunk. If you do not leave this minute, I'm going straight to the company commander and have him resolve this situation.
Now leave, I shouted. There was dead silence.
Mr. Clinton just stood there and glared at me with his bloodshot eyes. Everyone was watching. Finally he laughed, turned and staggered out of the barracks. Everyone, including me, sighed with relief. We spent most of the night getting the barracks back in order, and no one had an opportunity to study for the weather exam. It showed the next day. The exam was in the morning. When we returned to the barracks after flying in the afternoon, we were immediately informed by the company first sergeant that we were all restricted to the barracks until further notice and I was to report the company commander's office.
When I arrived, the senior officer from the weather committee was present as well. I was told to sit down, Cadet Corey. Do you know why I've restricted the company and called you here, the company commander asked like I was some clairvoyant and I could read his mind. This was the first time I had ever spoken to the man again. Dad's words of wisdom came to mind. No, sir, I replied, knowing this wasn't the time to be a smart ass.
It appears, Cadet Corey, that most of your class failed the weather exam. We need to know why, he stated.
Oh shit, most of the class, which includes me too. Again, as class leader, it was my fault. Didn't you study for the exam last night? Asked the weather committee instructor who didn't look happy. Why did I suspect that shit rolled downhill here and it was coming right at me, however, I was seeing a U-turn for this shit storm. No, sir, we did not study last night. We had a party. Instead, I replied, their eyes bulged and I thought both men were going to drop dead from heart attack.
You did what? The company commander. You had a party the night before. The most one of the most important exams in this course. Do you realize by having a party and failing that exam, you could all fail flight school and be sent to infantry immediately? Yes, sir, I replied. And let them stew on this revelation. Now, the weather instructor had a grin on his face as he turned to the company commander. Well, I guess the problem wasn't with the instruction, but with the discipline of these cadets.
I was beginning to see what was going on here. Somewhere above their level. The shit hit the fan and someone high up was looking for somewhere to lay the blame the army needed. Helicopter pilots at this point had spent considerable money training 80 cadets. The Army couldn't afford to wash out 80 cadets at one time. The company commander wasn't looking too good right about now. Cadet Corey, why in the hell would you have a party the night before a major exam, sir?
We had no choice, I answered sheepishly. I was beginning to enjoy this. I had been around the military long enough to know when people were in a state of panic over something that had gone terribly wrong. Oh, Dad, you taught me well. What the hell do you mean you had no choice? The company commander, sir. When we returned from Flightline last night, Mr. Clinton had torn apart the barracks to include turning on the fire hose and told us to get the mess cleaned up.
Before morning. We had a barracks cleaning party to get it squared away and that took until midnight. Light out lights out was at twenty two hundred, but we worked on stuff until dark, until we had it taken care of. Only the married men had a chance to study last night. You're dismissed, Cadet Corey, and there you go. So you you then up you go to the company commander, then you end up with a battalion commander and the school commandant and the school commandant.
Finally, you end up all assembled. The battalion commander comes out. I'm Lieutenant Colonel Barlowe, your battalion commander. I have not met most of you and normally do not meet cadets until graduation. However, because of this incident, I have met some of you and thought I should meet all of you. What you've experienced is not typical of the treatment of cadets. Changes have been made. The first being that you have a new company commander. Major Carter will be your company commander for the remainder of your training.
Mr. Clinton and Sergeant First Class Moron will no longer be your tax either Major Carter, and he turns it over the to back up a little bit.
Our class got a bad rap.
The first the very first day we showed up, me and another guy. We had flown into Savannah the night before. So we had a twelve hundred hour report him and I got there at about 11:00. So we report on time. The rest of the guys, they all flew in on a flight that was supposed to land at eight o'clock in the morning but didn't because of the weather. So they all showed up an hour late. So that set Clinton off.
And for eight weeks, we never got a pass to get off the base where every other class had blanket passes on the weekends. And so Clinton and the man had had a drinking problem and this wasn't the first incident with him. But this is the one that broke the camel's back when he when he went through that that weather exam, as I said in the book, you couldn't afford the flunk. Seventy nine guys right now. Somebody was going to go ballistic over this.
So it worked its way up. And thank God we got to the brigade commander's office and they asked me, they said, why do you think Mr. Clinton did that? And I said, well, sir, because he was drunk. Well, the three of them looked at me like, do you know what you just said?
You accuse an officer of this? Well, I was a little bit older than most cadets.
I joined the army. I was twenty one the day I came in. And all the other classmates, they were 19, 20 year olds and been around the military all my life. I had an idea how things worked, so I was gone.
I was going to play my trump card and that's where I played the trump card was with the brigade commander. Over the next couple of days, they called in every day. They call in three guys and they'd ask them the same questions and everybody back my my comments up. So we got Mr. Clinton got rhythm, Mr. Clinton got rid of Sergeant Moron. And I use the name Sergeant Moron. I never heard the guy ever speak. He had he had tattoos covering them everywhere before tattoos were popular.
And so I don't know anything about the man outside of he never said anything.
So I figured it was more exciting. But then after that, we went into our advanced training. We transitioned was the following Monday morning. And and things went along really well after that with the unit. Major killed him. It was a he was a great guy.
How'd you like that, Huey, when you started flying it? Oh, I loved it. I still love the Huey to this day. The he's a fantastic aircraft, had plenty of power. Even the Delta models had plenty of power. They were forgiving. They were just they were a dream to fly and they still are. Isn't it great? Well, I guess is not too crazy. I mean, I joined the Navy in 1990 and we still had Hughie's and they're still Hughie's right now.
The Army's put all layers in museums. What about the Marine Corps? The Marine Corps has got a different huie. They got a big beefed up, one muscular thanks to twin engines.
And I'm not sure if it's got four rotor blades or just two, but they've got a beefed up Huey that's much, much bigger than the Army's ever war. So it's great aircraft. I mean, why wouldn't still be using today? I don't know.
I mean, we've got the Black Hawks now where they're way bigger than I mean, they're way smaller than a Black Hawk, though. Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Tiny, we could get we could get six combat troops besides the crew crew for board and had power, you know, to do things and stuff like that. The Black Hawk, when we assaulted into Iraq back during Desert Storm, there was 15 guys in my aircraft with me and my auto's. My and I had one squad of infantrymen with me when we went. And so much more power, much more much faster aircraft. And it was an aircraft, the Black Hawk I was on the test bed for.
They were designed in case we went into war with Iran. And that's that's really what we were looking at for an aircraft. They could get the altitude, the mountainous out mount altitude around Iran to replace the Huey. And the Black Hawk was the the choice over it. They were, too. There was a Boeing put a proposal up for the task and then Sikorsky put a proposal up for the test and it was called UTE'S at that time, utility tactical transport system.
And Sikorsky is the one that won.
So and it seems like when you look at the the Huey, it's like a freakin nineteen sixty nine muscle car just in terms of, hey, that's the engine. There's you see the aircraft now the helicopters.
There's so many computer parts too. It's like when you open up the the hood of a car nowadays you don't know what the hell's in it.
It's all you can't, you can't fix any of it with a wrench.
But you look at the you look at the Huey. Who is the guy crew? The Huey. The guy was eight, nineteen years old, maybe twenty. And he was the crew chief. And what those kids did with those engines was just amazing. They'd work on them. And you know, I was a pilot in the most dangerous thing you could do is let the pilot up there around the engine.
My crew chief wouldn't dare do that. But these kids, they really maintain those things. Well, what what? They couldn't do it. The operator level that the crew chief level, they went into the maintenance level, which is right there with our unit, and they were all 19 and 20 year olds doing the sheet metal work and the electronics. I took a bullet through the through the wiring bundle one day and the wiring bundle was about that thick and it was maybe thirty five forty white wires in there.
And I saw a kid sit down and sit there and put each one of those wires back properly to each one of them to get get the communications and the electronics all working up to me it was a bunch of spaghetti crack.
So let's fast forward a little bit. Let's get to let's get to Vietnam.
The flight from Fort Lewis, Washington, to Vietnam was 14 hours of the two hour stop at Yokota Air Force Base outside of Tokyo, Japan. The plane was a commercial airliner contracted by the government. Most Air Force transport aircraft were carrying cargo cargo, not passengers. We arrived in Camron Bay, Vietnam, in the dead of night.
Jumping forward a little bit, you get to where you're going. A Jeep came to us and look, in order to get there, I got to bypass all the bunch of good stuff, get the book. A Jeep came to stop in front of me with a hatless captain driving you, Mr. Corey?
Yes, sir. I snapped to attention and saluted and saluted.
Shit, you're trying to get me shot. Damn sniper sees you doing that. I'm going to be the one that's going to get shot, don't you? I don't have a hat on for a reason, so get your shit and let's go, he said with a disgusted tone. Sorry, sir. I tossed my duffel bags into the jeep and climbed in. He extended his hand and grinned. There's no snipers here. Just thought I'd scare the crap out of you.
I'm Captain. Good night. The operations officer for our merry band. Welcome to the Chicken Coop. The chicken coop is the company location. And this here is the parking area and is the chicken pen. Our call sign is Chicken Man. Chicken man. That's our call sign. I responded that our audience instill the courage in the hearts of our troops and fear in the minds of the enemy. Why couldn't it be something bold and dynamic? I thought, chicken man sir, how do we come by that callsign I asked the official callsign is Drumstick.
There's a popular radio show in the Chicago area now. It's on Armed Forces Radio in Vietnam about a wicked white winged warrior called Chicken Man.
Some of the episodes are hilarious. When the unit first came to Nam, we were the hoot owls and the name has changed several times over the years to Apache and Lucky shot in nineteen sixty six, sidewinder and Swordfish in nineteen sixty seven, a drumstick in nineteen sixty eight. Some of the warrant officers decided about six months ago to start using Chicken Man callsign and it's pretty much stuck. So now it's the unofficial call sign for the unit. I was starting to like this chicken man call.
Now the the you got to understand warrant officers back there again, they're all nineteen year old.
Some were 18, 20 year old. And it's the 60s, so, you know, once you got out of flight school, your hair regulation kind of slip and you're trying to grow a mustache when you don't have any hair to grow a mustache. And what are they going to do to you and your dog tags and send you to Vietnam? You're already there. So foreign officers were kind of a rebellious bunch to the army. We had the warrant officer protection association that, you know, if something was going right in the unit, all the warrants you get together and bitch about it.
But so when they when they came up with this name Drumstick, everybody thought, oh, my God, what a stupid name. And then the Chicken Man series started on AFV end and then it stuck.
And even after they changed the name Drumstick officially bark, bark, bark, bark, chuck man took chicken and we still kept the chicken man callsign. We never gave it up. And like on the front of the book there, it's got a picture of the aircraft with the chicken on the nose and we never took the chickens off the nose.
Awesome. So you're going through kind of in learning what's going on there. And and and finally we get to this. How much how much flying are we getting? I asked every newbie ask that question, Captain. Good night. Chimed in. You'll get all the flying you want and more than you can handle. There'll be days when you go to bed with your butt cheeks hurting and they'll still be hurting. When you wake up and you have another 12 to 15 hour day ahead of you, some days you'll get 20 hours in before you shut the engine down.
Normally when you get one hundred and forty hours for the month, you get a two day stand down if I don't need you. He explained, is another individual walked in. This is Lou Price, he's going to show you where you can set up housekeeping.
Lou Price was probably absolutely one of the best helicopter pilots ever knew. Lou was twenty one years old. His first mission in Vietnam was about six, about eight months before I got there. And it was in the Oshi Valley.
He flew in and he walked out because his aircraft landed upside down and he had to punch his way through the green house bubble. They were shot down going in. The aircraft rolled up, Lou. He left after the year. And in the book, as you see, he came back about eight months later. He said Vietnam was a hell of a lot safer than being an instructor at flight school.
And Lou stayed for the next year and he had been discharged from the army.
And we're still flying in Vietnam. They had to get a Marine escort, I mean, a Navy escort to come and get him and take him back. And it was because the First Cav division had left all of our personnel records had left. And so they didn't know how much time anybody had left in the unit. So, Lou, just he was enjoying it. He was flying his beer, drinking, flying his helicopter, drinking his beer. Had nothing better to do.
So Lucja state and fire they had bring it up to get him out of there Lou. He lashed out and last I heard, Lou had been a financial adviser to a major corporation before he passed away, but he was a great pilot.
You did note in here that there was the latest Led Zeppelin song was playing on a reel to reel tape player. Oh yeah, he's wild. I was talking to this. So I have a son who's 18 years old and he listens to Metallica so much.
When I was thinking about this, the first Led Zeppelin album came out in like nineteen sixty eight.
I was born in nineteen seventy one and and and when I grew up Led Zeppelin seemed really all right.
They seemed so old. I mean I love Led Zeppelin, but they seemed like they were way before my time.
Well, my son was born in 2002. The first Metallica album came out in nineteen eighty three, that's all.
So what way before he. He's way older than Metallica. He's much, much further away from Metallica beginning than I was from Led Zeppelin opening. You know, it's crazy all that time goes by. But you guys were there and in the thick of it, listening to some Zeppelin.
Has your son ever heard and got a David?
Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. I love playing on guitar. I still I still played around the house. My wife looks at me, she goes, we're going to have one of those moments.
And this is always a good a good thing to do here. You just kind of talk about some of the characters. The pilots were a mixed bag. Most of the warrant officers fell into one of three categories, either high school graduates, college dropouts or former CEOs that had gone to flight school.
Most of the warrants were bachelors with girlfriends back in the states, except the old guys who were married with wives and two kids back in the states.
The commissioned officers, as you call them, real live officers were oral.
Those as warrants referred to them.
We're all college graduates, but I didn't notice any West Pointers in the unit. You could spot them by the large ring on their finger, hence the nickname Ring Knockers, although no one did p t there were no overweight pilots, most were attempting to grow mustaches with limited success. We were all just too baby faced. Most of the crew chiefs and maintenance personnel were volunteers who had enlisted rather than waiting to be drafted. There were twenty nine draftees.
The most and most were door gunners who had volunteered to extend four door gunner duty to cut their draft time short or to put more money in their pockets before going home. All were prior grunts. They were all good soldiers. There was an occasional drunk and disorderly and maybe an occasional pot use. But I couldn't recall any specific cases of a lack of discipline. If pot was being smoked, it was kept pretty quiet and infrequent.
The crews that the crews in the unit, they're fantastic kids. The door gunners, they they most of those guys, I think just better. Every one of them was an infantry guy who volunteered to come and serve as a door gunner. And they were an essential part of the aircraft. Not only do they take care of the guns on the aircraft, they also assisted the crew chief in cleaning the aircraft and running the engine, stuff like that. Uh, the pilots, as I said, you know, college dropouts, most of us or the old guys and the old guys, they were we try to give them the easy missions, but they never took them.
They stepped right up to the plate like everybody else. Fortunately, we only lost two or three guys in my time there that were married men, my roommate, Dave Hanna, another and two other guys that that I knew real well that we lost.
But both of them were married guys, the crew chiefs, all of those guys had gone. They had enlisted four crew chief duty and they had gone to the maintenance course and came back over really a great bunch of guys. And I still keep in touch with several of them commissioned officers, the KAROLOS, the real live officers as sworn officers refer to them. Most of them were pretty good guys. Uh, we have one or two that were. Less than stellar, let me put it that way, but most of them were really, really pretty good.
Our main officer was fantastic and I still communicate with him quite frequently. The operations officer, I talked to him a lot. He was good. Even our previous operations officer who left the day I got there, Howard Burbank. He kind of heads up our reunions and he thinks a great guy. So most of the officers were really fantastic and easy to work with in the unit. Aircraft commander didn't make a difference what your rank was. You had to earn the seat to be an aircraft commander.
And it took four months of flying time and a vote of confidence by all of the existing aircraft commanders before you got that honor didn't make a difference if you're a warrant officer or if you are Gnaraloo, if you didn't cut the mustard, you didn't get in the left seat. And they held that pretty, pretty, pretty steady through my entire time there. It was. And it was good. There was a lot of respect for aircraft commanders. Everybody understood how it worked.
If you were Gnaraloo, you're going to be in the right seat until you get voted to be in the left seat.
And it worked well as you're kind of learning the the the ropes of what's going on there. You're talking to a guy, Sergeant First Class Robertson, like an Ops guy, I guess you guys called him Pops.
He good man. Good. He lays some stuff out for you. What are most of the missions that we fly? I asked. Sir, it's a bit of everything. You may start the day off flying ash and trash resupply for a battalion followed by being part of a six two combat assault followed by Flying Night Hunter Killer or Chuck. Chuck, Chuck, Chuck. I asked command and control. A battalion commander will jump aboard with his staff, usually a fire support officer, and fly around the circle, flying a circle around a unit in contact while the battalion commander directs artillery fire.
Boring as hell for you generally. What's a six to? I asked. A six to is a flight of six hewitson to cobras. The Cobras will come from our Delta Company on the other side of the chicken pen. They refer to their area as the snake pit and hunter killer. That's a fun one three aircraft, a cobra flying at about a thousand feet, a Huey full of flares flying at about a thousand feet following the Cobra and a Huey flying between the ground and five hundred feet, nice and slow with lights on so Charlie can see you and shoot at you.
The low bird is equipped with a 50 caliber machine gun, replacing one of the sixty guns and a searchlight with a low angle with a low light intensity night vision scope on top is mounted in the cargo door.
If the low bird sees something or get shot at, the cobra rolls hard on it and the flare aircraft starts dropping. Flares of the COBRA can see targets once more. Coffee? Yes, please. How do you get our how do you get how do you get missions during the night and generally before twenty hundred hours, the maintenance officer will tell us how many birds we can put up for the next day. We pass that to battalion sometimes around zero two hundred battalion start sending the missions to us.
Captain, good night. Comes in about zero four hundred and assigns the pilots and the missions and we start waking everyone up. Generally we get the birds in the air at first light. Most of the birds aren't instrument rated, so that can be a problem in the monsoon season, which will begin in about three months. When do I get to fly? I know what you're thinking and that's good. But enjoy sitting on the ground for as long as you can, boss, because once you're cleared, you'll get all the flying you want and then some.
Yeah, you did get all the flying you wanted it. So that was one thing that was interesting to me. And I guess I kind of knew it, but not this. Clearly you you guys did everything, whether it was logistics runs, whether it was supporting assaults.
You were doing everything you did. Every the only thing you didn't do is operate as a gunship because we weren't equipped to be a gunship. There were aircrafts before that. But everything else in medevac, it wasn't common for the Slick's to fly medevac missions unless it was really an emergency. And why is that?
Well, we didn't we weren't equipped with medics or any medical supplies on board. We had little first aid kits and that was about it. So they would try to get the medevac birds to come in and take care of them. Now, they had medevac birds and dustoff Deathstar Medevac birds were part of the First Cavalry Division and the 101st Airborne Division. They were equipped with guns, had the big Red Cross on the side, but they had guns on board.
Dustoff had the Red Cross on the side, but they had no guns and they were part of the Forty Fourth Medical Brigade. So that was the difference between the two. When people hear the term dustoff for medevac, well, which one was which now is the difference between them? The only time I ever flew medevac is when I was actually supporting a ground unit with a long mission and they got hit at the same time. And I came back in and they threw on a bunch of guys that were wounded and I flew them out.
But that was about it for a medevac mission.
The missions we didn't like, that medevac wouldn't fly is pulling the bodies out. Medevac wouldn't touch a body. We had to fly those out. So we did those. But everything else, we did it all. Resupply Sea and Sea Knight. Hunter killer. One night hunter killer.
I'd fly the Lobert, I didn't want to fly that flare bird one bit. What is in the low bird? The one that's the bait? Yeah, the like that one. I like that one. The the flare bird. He just orbits around up there and he's getting bored, boring. And the bad thing is he's carrying twenty one million power candles.
Oh yeah. These huge, huge flares. You're going to take a tracer around the tracer round.
That bird's burning and the fact they carry them in fifty five gallon drums out on the skids that were held on by straps so that they did take around Kabul, they would take the machetes and cut those straps and drop and try to drop all that stuff right away. So I never want to fly the flag for Lobert. I love flying low. And that was fun. Bait, bait.
Fast forward a little bit, sleep came quick and I dreamt of pleasant things as I hadn't been in country that long enough to have bad dreams. As I slumbered, I began to dream about the jet I heard coming for coming in for a landing on our airstrip. It was getting louder and louder and holy shit, jets can't land here. I was on the floor of our tent with everyone else when the rocket impacted behind our tent, followed by a second impacting the VIP landing pad behind the major's tent.
Incoming. I heard that grabbed my flak jacket and my helmet. I was half running, half crawling to the bunker in my boxer shorts when another rocket impacted with the flash spraying shrapnel diving through the door of the bunker. I plowed into someone in total darkness of the bunker and got shoved to the other side. Hey, watch it, man. Someone said, anyone seen the new guy? I recognized Lou's voice over here, Lou.
I answered this. Your first rocket attack. New guy? He asked. Well, yeah, I've only been here for two days. Is this common? I asked you up almost nightly. And since this is your first, you get to buy the beer can be sure the refrigerator stocked tomorrow morning. When we come back in the darkness, the sounds of laughter could be heard over the sounds of impacting rockets and secondary explosions.
Any time you did something for the first time, you had to buy a case, a big case of beer.
And that was the cost of learning.
So I bought a lot of beer just like everybody else those first couple of months. Yeah, yeah. Those one twenty two rockets, they they weren't accurate, but boy, they would sure wake you up and just create havoc for your evening. They were always trying to shoot at the runway or at the chicken coop snakepit area.
And every once while we lost an aircraft want to slam in there the mortars, they were accurate and we did not like it in the mortar rounds in and you may bring it up later on, but, yeah, the mortars, the the barber, our barber was the one that was registering the mortar rounds on us.
Well, Kazimir so yeah, that was I don't know, I don't know when that I don't know where that came from. But when I got the SEAL teams same thing. Oh the your first time jump in or your first time doing a faster up Caucasia bureau. Your first time. What. You know first time shooting an MP five. Yep. OK, so bear. So they got their beer out of us that's for sure.
In the ER at last. Oh now you're flying and you get that, you get the aircraft turned over to you. OK, Dan your turn. Oh, wow. It was Dan and Tony Naksa on a first name basis, I have the aircraft, Tony, you have the aircraft. You responded indicating he recognized I had positive control of the aircraft with my left hand on the collective right hand, on the cyclic, my whole hand. I started coming up on the power.
The aircraft broke ground. Oh, shit. Screamed the door. Going to work on a tie. Well, the crew chief as I was shitting my pants. All right, you two knock it off. Tony said to the crew they were laughing their asses off. Oh, sir, can we screw with the new guy? And they did that to me.
Well, of course they did it.
Every new guy, too.
So like I said, the crew chiefs and indoor guys, they're a bunch of jokesters. And if they if they could jerky chain, they jerky chain. All in good fun. No.
So you talk about doing combat auto rotations. Loved it. So explain the auto rotation and then what what gets different on the on the combat in flight school, they teach you how to do the standard army issue.
Auto rotation, one thousand feet over the approaching the runway, chop the throttle, pull the nose back to a 60 knot airspeed, put the collective down completely, let the aircraft fall seventy five feet in the ground. You fler the aircraft and pop the collective. As the aircraft continues to settle, you level the skids and in with the rest of the power to set it down on the ground. Just love doing auto rotations.
So the purpose of an auto rotation is you have some something wrong with the aircraft. Yeah, the engine quit, engine quits. And you you can you can land an aircraft, you can land a helicopter safely without an engine. Yeah. Yeah. It's basically the momentum of the helicopter blades. That's right. They're just spinning and they keep spinning because they've been spinning really fast. And then as you come down, does the does the air keep them spinning as you keeps them spinning.
In fact, when you execute that flare, you've got to pop that, collect it or you're going to get an overspeed on your rotor head. So you pop the collective and that that keeps from the rotor speed going out. You want to keep your rotor in the green at sixty six hundred rpm and no correction at three hundred and thirty five, three hundred and forty five rpm engines at sixty six. So you keep it at three forty five. When you flare you're going to go well above that three forty five.
So you pop that collective and then that lets you settle the aircraft down and then when you get to about four feet off the ground you come in with the rest of it as you level the skids. Easy, sit down. You don't want to try to parachute out of a helicopter with no engine. You might get beat up on the blades. So, no, nobody wears a parachute to exit a helicopter in an emergency, a combat auto rotation.
There's a thing in the book called The Dead Zone, and pilots have to know the dead zone, there's a certain area that if you don't have airspeed and altitude, airspeed or altitude, you're going to die. You want to have airspeed where you want to have altitude.
If you can have both, you're better off. But you have to keep one of those to the combat order rotations, especially the low level one. You'd come into treetop level at 90 knots, airspeed and chop the throttle right then and just start your flare. And just as the aircraft comes over where you want to touch down, you keep the flare going, keep the flare going, keep the flare going and pull the power and set it down. I love doing low level rotations.
There are so much fun.
Then you get the advanced stage, you do the 180 auto rotation thousand feet, drop the throttle, take the aircraft, turn it a tight turn and come down or what?
I was taught by a guy that was a test pilot at Bell Helicopter. Thousand feet drop the throttle zero. The air speed to a pedal turn, punched the nose straight to the ground, build up your rotor rpm and just do a normal touch down and you can do that at three sixty two and a three sixty. Save me one time are you.
So like how many times when when you start trying to do the combat auto rotation, how many times do you try this before you've got it.
About three or four times. You do enough auto rotations in flight school that you've got the basics for an auto rotation down pat and you go up with an experienced pilot and they'll run you through a couple of times. You'll have no problem. Then again, too, once you become an AC. You can do auto rotations whenever you want. You don't have to worry about an instructor pilot sitting next to you and we would do that. We would go out.
And when we were coming back at night after a mission, let's do another rotation. Let's go shoot some moderate patients. So you practice those things constantly when you're coming back in. But now today they don't even teach touchdown or rotations, I don't think.
Why is that? I have no idea. What do you do if you lose power?
I think they teach in the auto rotation, but they make them put the power in before they get to the ground and and set it down. But I had heard that they don't teach touchdowns anymore. They don't let them take them all the way to the ground.
How much does a how much does an 60 cost?
Oh, God. How much is that here? We got a Huey right now.
You can get by a Huey for about five hundred thousand. What about me? What about in this time period? Oh, this time period I think there are two fifty two hundred fifty thousand.
And I mean what's your best guess on a Black Hawk.
Probably somewhere in the neighborhood of about eight or nine hundred thousand. And that's just a guess. Yeah. Huh, that's way cheaper than I thought. I'm going to have to check that one out.
Yeah, I'm not I'm not sure Roger seems like the huie was way, way, way cheaper.
Oh, it is. There's nothing sophisticated about Heery. I mean, Engin was simple. The L 13 engine, a great engine, but nothing, no complicated computer electronics in it. You had just standard flight instruments and none of it was computerized. No computer chips, very simple aircraft to work on and a simple aircraft to fly. And it was an amazing aircraft to fly. It would take so many hits. That and it's still keep going, that the biggest I saw was a friend of mine, Al has Beilharz, he got hit and I covered it in one of the books.
I forget which one it's covered in. He had one hundred and seven bullet holes in his aircraft, one of which was a 50 caliber round that went through the the frame right above the pilot's head. In fact, one of our Canadian lieutenants, he had gotten shot in the groin and it leaned forward. And when he did that 50 caliber round hit the post and if he had to lean forward, he would have hit him in the head. But yeah, but he had one hundred seven rounds in that aircraft and the aircraft still flew.
Another thing that you do over there is the combat take off. Yes. So what's the combat take off all about? A nice a nice flight school type helicopter take off is you come to a three foot hover, you pull your power, you drop your nose and you climb out. A nice way to climb combat helicopter take off. You pull that power in and you shove that nose over at the same time. And so you're coming out of there like a bat out of hell.
It's no this three foot hover, stabilize and then go. It has pushed the nose over, give it full power and get out of there as quick as you can.
And the first couple of times you do it for new guy, it scares you because you think you're going to hit the rotor blades on the ground and you roll it over so far.
But how much clearance do you have?
Oh, you got your front rotor blades, six or seven feet. Easy, no factor. That's no factor.
But when you're sitting there, you're normally looking at it sitting up there 15 feet and then all of a sudden it's six feet off the ground.
You go scare the crap out here. You say here, Dan, or he's you're getting advice. Dan, don't fly without a map and know where you are at all times on that map.
If you go down, you can have a lot of time to figure that out. This is another cool thing is you guys were just doing land now the whole time. Yeah. No, you're not you're not looking at any kind of instrument to know where you are.
I mean, I guess other than your compass, the you had a DB NDB non directional beacon, there was one and then we had one at like and I believe there was one up at Song Bay. And if you had to do an instrument approach, you're going to do an NDB approach or GCA approach. But that was it.
So you'd really need to know where you were at at all times, have a good idea where you were, where you were you flying in a small enough area that you got to know everything just really easily from like up to Tainan was probably 80, 90 miles from Thayn in across along the border was probably another hundred miles and then back down to like was probably another eighty miles.
So that was about the area you working in.
And so you had a bunch of geographical references there. There's that road. There's that mountain. There's that whatever. There's the river bridge.
In fact the funny thing was three cordera we flew in, it was pretty flat, the vegetation wise, but ten in there was a mountain there that look like an extinct volcano. It wasn't, but it's just this big tits sticking up and it's Dongbei was another one sitting there. So if you could see those two, you knew exactly where you were at. And then there's Thunder Road that went up the middle. So you had a pretty good idea where you were.
You were at at all times.
You're on a mission. You're out there, fast forward a little bit, you're still learning. As we made a pass over the intended landing point, Mr. Leak went into education mode. OK, the smoke tells us almost no wind. So that's not going to be a factor. The trees on the south side look lower than the north side, the units on the south side as well. So we'll make final approach over the south side. Never make your approach the same twice in a row if you can help it.
Always make the approach from a different angle, each time turning into final at the last minute. If you can, you make the approach, you make the approach the same each time and Charlie will fire your ass up. Got it. Got it. Yes.
The the big aless. You had a lot of options.
Where it came critical was when you got into a smaller L.G. or a hover hole that you're going have to resupply it. If if you came in the same way three times in a row, Charlie's probably going to smoke on the third time. You always tried to come in a different way, a different angle. You had to keep in mind what's the lowest approach path I can use, especially if you had a heavy aircraft. Where's the wind blowing? I want to come into the wind and I want to come in on the lowest path.
So a lot of times that would dictate that maybe the final turn would be the same. But you want to come in from the left side, you want to come in from the right side. If you could. You come in from India, you come in with the wind and then do a petal turn, although that's seldom very happened. So you just did not want to have the same approach, the same path. Every time when I was home on leave after my year there, somebody was using my aircraft, went into another hole the same way three times.
And the third time Charlie got them and we lost the aircraft, lost the crew and lost everybody on board.
You know, it's as you as you mentioned, the weight of the aircraft. One thing that I really got an appreciation for and I noticed it, you know, when I would get out of helicopters, you could see, you know, the helicopter would move a little bit depending on what kind of helicopter was. But, you know, when you drive a car, if you put five hundred pound, I mean, if you put two hundred, three hundred, four hundred pounds into a car, you don't really notice it.
You have to put a lot of weight into a car before you notice. It takes a little longer to break. You know, maybe if you're if you throw a bunch of, you know, two thousand pounds of bricks into the back of your pickup truck, you notice that.
But the Huey, you guys could notice the weight. You know, three, four hundred pounds is a lot different. And you have to be it's like you guys were so attuned to those aircraft, the the weight and balance.
You know, if we were in a hover and it was three hundred pounds off to one side, you're going to notice that you noticed it, especially the guys started jumping out of the aircraft. You'd notice the rocking in it a lot of times going into an El Z for the first time on a resupply. I would try to take thirty water cans that gave me a good sized load for that trip. It also gave me a load light enough that I could see how the aircraft was handling based on the wind conditions and the approach.
There was one time I got no one else. I only had ten water cans on. That's how bad that hole was. But most of the time, thirty water cannons was good. Then the only went back the second time. You know, if I could take more than thirty water cannons, it's mammo. We throw that on as well. But you always had to be careful and the crew chief was really the guy responsible for this watching where the weight and balance was at, making sure that they put in too much weight up for did the pilots keep trying to keep it all back, back sent around the transmission?
Well, in the center of the aircraft.
Another little section here sort of about what what life was like over there for you guys, it was obvious that the rear echelon lived a lot better than those closest to the front action. We lived good as aviators, certainly much better than the grunts.
But these rear echelon mothers ramp's, as we called them, were living the life there was always had been and always would be some animosity between those on the front lines and those in the rear. Those in the rear areas enjoyed levels of comfort only imagined by those on the front. Clean sheets, hot chow, good boots and movies were just some of the perks besides never getting shot at, and all the while bitching how tough they had it because of the paper cuts they received.
History shows General Eisenhower wanted Paris to be an R and R center for the front line troops just after it was liberated.
A hundred and fifty thousand ramp's took up residence and he could do nothing to dislodge them.
Some things never change, and they still haven't changed to this day. During Desert Storm, I was I was out there with my battalion and were wearing jungle boots. We used superglue to close the holes up on the side to keep the sand out. And it got to the point we were using duct tape to hold the boots together because they were just getting torn apart in the flint and up shows some shrimps from the back in and they've all got brand new desert boots.
We never got desert boots the whole time we were there and we were front line infantry. And so it hasn't changed and it never will change. You're always going to have that argument. A perfect example. As you look at the movie, What Glory about the Fifty Fourth Massachusetts Infantry Regiment and what was their big complaint? Boots. It hasn't changed. We're still arguing about boots in the military.
I have I have a leadership consulting company. The name of the leadership consulting consulting company is Echelon Front.
And there's a very specific reason why we have that, because we wanted people to know, like we're talking about what leadership is like from the front. Yes, the front lines, not what it's like in the rear with the gear.
That's right. Well, we used to say nothing's too good for the infantry. So the infantry gets nothing.
Check next sections called reality sets in that evening.
This is fast forwarding. That evening we were in our tent discussing that day's activities. The assistant, the assistant maintenance officer came in looking for a beer. Hey, John, how's it going? I ask give me a beer and I'll tell you how it's going. One of the other pilots opened the refrigerator and handed him a cold one. We have thirteen of our twenty one aircraft shot to shit two. We've got to be evacuated back to the states.
They're shot up so bad. Two fifty one and two twenty eight of the remaining eleven. We have an estimated three thousand hours of work ahead of us to get them into flying condition. Tomorrow we'll have a total of six aircraft that we can put into the air as I already had two in for periodic inspections. The first of those shot up today will be up the day after tomorrow, and that's 740 as I only only need twenty four hours of maintenance to solve that one.
I can tell you that maintenance platoon is not going to get any sleep for a few days. I silently thank God I wasn't a maintenance officer. Again, just pointing out that the teamwork that it took to keep these birds flying was immense, immense, immense teamwork to keep them up.
It was incumbent upon the pilots to make sure that we weren't messing aircraft up with with three strikes on rotor blades or tail rotor strikes on on Bush's. That was a bad factor that happened. Not paying attention. You bend the skids on a stump or on a log or you punch a hole in the bottom of the aircraft on a stump. So it is incumbent upon the flight crews. First of all, make sure you don't screw the aircraft up because the maintenance guys, when we got in situations, they had more than enough work to keep them busy.
Another kind of interesting thing here. At this time, we had no standardized markings on the noses of our aircraft. The pilots doors had a green triangle with a lightning bolt through the triangle, but that was all across the nose of the aircraft. Commanders and crews generally put their individual pet name on the nose, Iron Butterfly, Green Lantern, devil's advocate and hard luck to name a few. We had some really good. We had a really good nose artist, artist, Sergeant Scovel, who was kept busy.
Some units had a bit more discipline and had a standard emblem on the noses of the aircraft, which you guys eventually got the chicken.
We eventually got the chicken. Mike Scoville, he is now a famous artist in southwest America. He's out there and he still does great artwork. I've got a couple of his pieces and he keeps busy with that. But at that time, our unit had an assortment of nose art and it's got It's Got Change is a great book that a guy named John Brennan just published his second one. And it's nose art of aircraft and it covers all a lot of units that had nose art on them.
Both of my birds are in there.
What do you have on your birds?
Well, the first one had the chicken. And then I had the hard luck. So what was that what was that nose art for hard luck? It was the calf patch with the chicken in the middle of it. Got it. And then hard luck ran across the top. I'll send you a picture of it. That's awesome.
This is another interesting thing, and this is this is I was going to bring this up earlier, as you were talking about why it's so important to have confidence in the aircraft commander, as Lou is bring us into position as Chalke six. He asked, how much formation time do you have? Just where we got in flight school in a couple hours the other day, I replied without looking in his direction. Don't tell me this is your first combat assault.
OK, I won't. But it is. Oh, I see. It's going to be a long day. He took a breath. OK, formation. Flying here isn't like flight school, he said as he moved closer to the right side of chalk five in Motherfucker, which is where you guys go to flight school and motherfucker, they wanted to rollerblade wits between aircraft. Here we fly at one to one 1/2 rotor from the other. He was going for the half rotor distance and my pucker factor was starting to suck the seat up my ass.
I looked back at Chalke seven. Oh shit.
He's going for half Rotar distance as well, Lou, as calmly smoking a cigarette and continuing to lecture while he held the cyclic cyclic in his hand index and middle fingers. The one thing you don't want to do is overlap rotor blades. Oh, trust me, that ain't happened. OK, you got it. He said, I responded. I got it. And I wished I hadn't. Immediately we started sliding back to a two rotor blade dist. Chalke seven called us Hey Chalke six.
Did the new guy just take it great now the entire four formation new I add it. Yeah and he's shitting in his pants. Now that wasn't true, but it wasn't far from the truth. OK, let's close it back up and get with the formation. I pulled in some more power and eased that aircraft forward. Good. Now just hold it there, Lou said. And I immediately started drifting back. Now get back up there.
Yeah, formation flying. To be truthful, I didn't like formation flying. I didn't like it in flight school.
I don't even like reading about it. I want it to be.
I really wanted to be a dustoff pilot because dustoff pilots didn't fly formation. So that made me happy. And then they said, no, you're going to a liftin. I went, oh hell, I don't have to learn how to fly formations. I hate formations. So it was not easy for me to get in there with Lou and fly formations. But he is such a good pilot and such a good instructor. And it may be because he usually drank a six pack in the morning before he got in the aircraft.
I don't know.
But anyway, he was really good and really made at ease and probably after about five hours I could get in there and be comfortable flying at one rollerblade out. And and in the book I go through about how he taught me about how to get judge your distance, how to judge where you're going to be, how to keep yourself out of trouble in ELSS and stuff. Really, really a good pilot. But then that half rollerblade that's not scared the bejesus out of me.
You have a section here. Fast forward a little bit. You're talking about it's a good conversation. As you know, I tend to bring things back to leadership. There's a good conversation you have about leadership in here and it starts where you talk about the current company commander that you had at this time. And the question is, have you ever seen him in the cockpit or on the flight line or out of his tent? When you do, please, please let us know it'll be a first, said Mr.
The other seconded that comment. How come? I asked the CEO's on his third tour over here. His first was as an advisor in the early sixties and his second was in sixty five as an aviator. Pretty rough assignment. He took a couple hits in the aircraft and on his body. He's paid his dues. He only has another couple of months in command and then he'll probably move up to battalion or brigade staff. He's all right. He just doesn't care to fly anymore, responded Mr.
Tolliver. Well, what makes a good flight leader? I asked as I open another beer for myself and others, Mr. Reynolds Field that fielded that question. He had been in the unit for about seven months and was considering extending, but not for our unit. No one seemed to do that. Extending your tours was a rare occasion in Vietnam.
Even in those units that appeared to have high morale and good leadership, a good flight leader must be a good pilot, must first be a good pilot and know his aircraft, know what its limitations are and how far he can stretch them. He must be a good aircraft commander taking care of his aircraft and his crew. Just because we're officers doesn't mean we can't help the crew take care of the aircraft.
Did you notice when Captain Bullock landed, the first thing he did was leave the aircraft to his crew and beat feet to the club for a beer instead of stay behind and help them sweep it out and post-flight it? No, he left that to Hess, his co-pilot for today.
And the crew, self-centered bastard. Just because he's an Aurélio, he thinks he's too good to get his hands dirty. Do you think he helped fill sandbags to build the bunker? Not him or any of the Arlo's, for that matter. Jamison stood there that day and supervised while everyone else did the digging and stacking. OK, Reynolds, that's enough venting, interjected Mr. Tolowa. Besides being a good pilot and aircraft commander, a flight leader must plan, coordinate and anticipate the mission.
Once he gets his brief from the ground commander, he needs to do a recon flight over the last year. He needs to judge how many aircraft will fit in and what formation will work.
So we're not doing last minute dick dance like we did today. Bullock never did a recon, and that's why we were dick dancing in the kill zone. Once he's done once he's done his recon, he needs to coordinate with the ground commander on what formation will be so they can plan accordingly. He needs to coordinate with the attack helicopters. It's going to be an insertion. He needs to coordinate with the aircraft commanders and let us know what's what. And he needs to anticipate what all can go wrong and have a plan for that as well, be it an aircraft breaking down before the mission or ground fire on the Elzy or.
U.S. aircraft commander and leadership was so important, I found out recently that the commander that we had before, the current man I talk about in there, was worse than the current company commander and the current company commander. He just was not interested in being the company commander or or or exercising leadership. Leadership in the unit was from the ALOS. It was from our operations officer and one of the platoon leaders, one of the other platoon leaders who I mentioned in there did not exercise leadership.
And very seldom do you ever see him exercise leadership. And it was pretty much up to the operations officer in this one other platoon leader that that really took things by the horn. They were the flight leaders and really guided us pretty much. That's one of the reasons nobody ever really up for the unit. The morale of the unit wasn't that good at the time. It was it was good with the warrant officers and and the crew chiefs and stuff.
But as far as a unit cohesion goes, it was lacking. The you mentioned something in there about the flight leaders, if you had a flight leader that was screwed up, everybody's lives were going to be in trouble. And on this one mission there, that was the flight leader. We got a bunch of aircraft shot up. That was March 6th. And I think we went in with something like seven aircraft. One broke down before we got there.
The other six went in and the Elzy had to go in to two and two. And the VA was sitting there waiting for us. If we ran it against VA, we were going to be trouble. v.C didn't worry about them. They couldn't shoot for shit, but they couldn't hit their their ass with both hands.
But the VA knew how to shoot at a helicopter and they did a good job of shooting at him.
But the leadership was important and it just was lacking when I first got there.
Yes, that that's an area that that I skipped over.
Yet it's real obvious, you know, when you look at it, you're thinking, OK, how long it's going to take us to put two birds at a time, multiple lifts in a row before the enemy goes, OK, well, we'll wait for him and we'll hit him next time they come in here.
Yeah, a lot of times they let you in on the first lift and then the second lift, that's when they'd open up on you or the third lift. Usually if it was an extraction, you could expect the third lift coming out to take fire. Last position you want. It was number six in a six ship lift coming out of a two ship Elzy, because you're going to catch every bit of it. They're just waiting for you. And if they could knock an aircraft down, then what happens is they've got to oh, there's a wrench thrown and everything.
Everybody's got to come back and you've got to pile on and you better have a plan ready for if you have a plan ready for it, there's a crew going to get killed.
Then even you're talking about the contingency of, hey, one of our aircraft might go down before we even take off. That's right. Maintenance problem if you don't have some kind of contingency. And that's another thing that we'll get into. But the idea so you have the aircraft commander who's obviously in charge of their singular aircraft, but then you've got the flight lead that's leading the whole operation that's in charge of it overall. And that's the person that has to account for all these different things.
That's right. That's right. Usually he would go out, the flight leader would go out about an hour before everybody else and get the coordination with the ground commander, done the artillery, et cetera, go out and do his recon of the Elzy, make sure he knew what formation was going to make sure the ground commander knew what formation he needed to have his troops in to pick up. And he knew what formation you were going to drop them off because that would make a difference in his ground assault plan.
So all that coordination had to get done. You had to have a flight leader that was on his toes that to do that kind of stuff.
Initially when I got there, only the rules are could be flight leaders warn officers we were technical officers, not tactical officers. So warn officers weren't allowed to be flight leaders when I first got there.
Here's a mission that we hadn't talked about yet. What's a sniffer mission? I asked. This machine picks up ammonia, which bodies give off in this heat in the form of perspiration. When the machine gives off a reading of Max, the operator will call our call out Max Mach, which means he has a large group giving off a lot of perspiration and we should engage problem. First problem is not only do humans give off ammonia, but so do monkies.
So we'll probably be shooting a lot of monkeys. Second problem is in order for this to work, we'll be flying at treetop level at sixty knots. The two cobras from El Lobo will be one thousand feet and following us and will engage if we call for fire or taking fire. Bob and Bob informed me, you're shitting me, right? We're going to fly at tree top it only 60 knots. I shit you not, Bob said with a grin.
So that's an interesting one.
Yeah, the sniffer missions were they were they were interesting the first time I took a hit in the aircraft and we were flying along and the guy ran out Max Mach and about that time a claymore in the top, the tree went off and like a shotgun blast hit the front of the aircraft.
So but I am sure that more monkeys died than in VA.
From the sniper missions to the truth, it was.
Now, here's something that you mentioned before. Fast forward a little bit. Mike and I walked back to the aircraft and saw that I had that had a light load of ammo. Morning missions usually meant picking up empty water and my cans from the night before and taking ammo in for the day ahead.
As we started the aircraft, Dave asked, Have you done any hover holes yet? Just around long been, which I understand isn't much compared to this area, I replied. He says back, you're about to experience the scariest thing about flying in Vietnam.
Well, talk to us about talk to us about Hovell never holds long been the vegetation around long was the biggest.
Trees are only about thirty feet well scattered out. You had some brush and stuff like that. So it was it was pretty open to. Rain, you can find an pretty easily nothing to it up along the Cambodian border song by region that we flew in a great deal there, it was different there. It was Triple Canopy Jungle. The trees were about three hundred feet high and it was packed. There was no ELSS to get in.
Elzy, you either had a bomb crater from an air strike or they would bring in a daisy cutter in fifteen thousand pound bomb that had chains welded around the outside the casing. They drop it from a C-130 on a parachute and it had a probe on the end of it and it would come down when it hit the ground, that thing would go off and it would make a nice one ship helicopter. Elzy It would clean out every tree, every stump, everything.
Just beautiful. But most of the time you didn't get that. You got the bomb crater from a B fifty to strike to go down it. And so when you come into that thing, here you are, you got a load on board. Thirty water cans. You come in and I think you're looking for the wind. You want to land into the wind, turn into the wind and you start down, you're at a hover and you're hovering down three hundred feet.
The eyes in the back of the crew chief and door gunner, and they're telling you, bring your tail right, bring your tail left, drop down, stop, come right, come left, start down. Stop, move your tail to the left. And you worked your way down through those trees to get to the bottom that hole. There were times I would look up through the greenhouse window and I couldn't see the sky.
These kids would wander, make us come down. We'd slide around, drop down among the tree limb, slide back down on that tree limb and start back down, turn the tail, boom, slide down some more. And it takes all the eyes, all eight eyeballs on that aircraft to bring that aircraft down into those holes.
Are you working with the same air crew all the time? Yes.
Well, the only the only person it wasn't the same would be the right seat. Pilot aircraft commanders flew left seat, right seat, right seat. Pilots flew the they were the new guys. And we rotated new guys through through the aircraft commanders. But it'd be me, my crew chief, my door going to be always the same.
And that's the full loadout, co-pilot, pilot, co-pilot, door gunner and crew chief. Yeah. So, you know, exactly when this guy says left a little bit, you know what that means.
Yeah. In fact, if they would have to say, Mr. Jackson, come lift your other left.
So I will screw up. Oh, OK.
Yeah, that sounds freakin scary.
You're having some some chow and Captain Bullock and what's Captain Bullock's position? He was one of the battalion leaders, so he's one of the leaders and he's got he's doing some introductions. He says this is Lieutenant Weed, he said, indicating the new pilot, Lieutenant Weed, was tall, lanky, with long blond hair, reminding me of a California surfer, which he claimed he was during his introduction. We didn't pay much attention until someone asked him for his first name, Richard.
What's his response? Lou couldn't let that one go. Looking at the four of us, he said prob probably loud enough to be heard by the group. Lieutenant Digweed. We couldn't keep it in. All three of us were in hysterics, Lou. Maintain a straight face. Standing up and turning to Lieutenant Dick. We do introduce himself. Welcome, sir. I'm Lou Pryce, heading back to the States in a month, he said, and left the mess hall.
Lieutenant Digweed was in Vietnam on his first tour and he would prove to be a cocky guy if he wasn't in charge of something. He tried to make himself in charge. And one more than one occasion was put in his place by a flight leader or an aircraft commander. He arrived at the unit before I made aircraft commander. So I was fortunate enough. Never have to fly with him.
Yeah, he was one of those lieutenants that thought because he was a lieutenant, he would be in charge of the aircraft. And it it took him a while to realize that, no, you don't get to be in charge of the aircraft until you're voted in charge of the aircraft.
So we had many, many times with Lieutenant Digweed the night the night Hunter killer missions. You already you already kind of briefed what those were and that you preferred to be the bait.
Oh, yeah. I'd much rather be the bait. Uh, they were they were good missions. A lot of times you flew them down the rivers so you'd be flying along.
And one of the reasons you liked it, because you knew if you had an engine failure, you'd be better off going into the river than you would in the jungle. So we always flew it right right along the edge of the tree line there. But you fly long. It was interesting. You were looking for something. You weren't just born a hold sky like the the cobra in the flesh ship, or you had the same crew all the time.
Usually the guys that were on the searchlight and the Starlight scope, that was usually somebody from the supply room or one of the kids out of maintenance that wanted to go out and do something besides his normal job.
So they would jump up and volunteer for that. The Night Hunter Killer Mission, that crew got that mission for a month. So when everybody else was out flying in the daytime, we'd be sleeping. And when they came back in, that's when we were going back out.
So you got to work with the usually the same units and you got to know the the brigade staff at the 2nd Brigade in the areas that you're working, you got a good relationship with them that that carried over once you were back on day shift with these guys, did you feel like safer because you're flying at night and it's hard to see a helicopter at night or was a little bit.
A little bit. But then again, too, you know you know, you're out there trying to get shot at.
We flew at the pilots doors open off, took those off the aircraft wise up because each one of the pilots, we carrying them seventy nine grenade launcher on his lap check and we'd fire it out the door if we needed to go.
And it was just kind of nice to be able to look out there. Couldn't flap the doors off during the day for some reason, but we like flying in at night like that. So and got an example there. You talked about three times.
So you got the 50 cal in the back. You got, what, a COBRA gunship as well with all their munitions. But you guys had to make sure you had those EMTs every night. That's right. That's right. We had a fifty on one side or sixty on the other. And the two seventy nines in the labs. Yeah, the one time we got in trouble.
And it was one of the cases where we almost flew the mission three times the same way we were coming back. We'd flown twice up in Long Bay on the river.
So at the first night, one way flew the second night the same way the third night thought, let's change up. So we came around and we flew it in the opposite direction.
We're coming down and the cobra starts screaming at me, you're taking fire. And my crew chief, he looked behind us and he said, Yes, sir, we're taking fifty one fire minus.
You could tell it's fifty one because it looks like a flaming basketball coming up at you and the cobra starts to roll hot and another fifty one opens up in front of me and then a third, fifty one opened up on the other side of the river and that's the way they would do it. They'd set up three fifty once and try to catch you in the middle of the cone and they were set up perfect. If I've been coming from the other direction, I'd have been right caught between two of them easily.
But as it was, one gun was out of position. The flare ship dropped his flares and then we spotted all three of them. And the Cobra went to work. And my crew chief, which was our company commander at that time, flying his first night Hunter mission, he was on the phone calling the artillery up. So the next day they went out and found what the results were and and then the mission went to another unit. I warned them about that.
They did the same thing I did. And the third day. They got fire and they were ready with the artillery, and the next day they went out and picked up, policed up all three guns and about twenty one bodies.
So are you getting shot at the fifty one cows? That is that green tracer coming at you? Yes. See, that's the weird thing.
I've talked about this with some other guys that were in Vietnam is for us. Everyone has red tracer now. Yeah. So you just it's it's it's a different we don't have that distinguishing characteristic of green trace green tracers and they look like flaming basketballs at night and daytime, look like a flaming hard ball.
But at night that was a basketball coming up. You just. Oh my God. There was no doubt in your mind what was shooting at you.
A little leadership here, Major Anthony. So you get a new a new company commander, Major Anthony. Now, the new company commander just stood there looking over us and we had him. No one said anything until he finally told us to take our seats. He then went on to give us his philosophy on command and how he expected the unit to operate.
An hour, an hour later in the club, some discussions took place about what had been said.
Mike said, Dan, what did you get out of the major speech? I'm wondering if I heard wrong. What I heard was don't do anything that's going to jeopardize my success in command and we'll get along fine. Do so and I'll be unmerciful upon you. Yeah, I heard that too. Mr. has agreed. I continue to you know, I've seen commanders like this when I was a kid with some of my dad's skippers. Having a command is a is a mandatory is mandatory for a successful career, especially the higher up you go.
However, managing and leading that command effectively and efficiently is what's important. Some officers view it as a threat if their subordinates do anything that would reflect badly on them. Major Anthony strikes me as that type. We'll just have to wait and see, I guess.
And he did not prove us wrong. He was really afraid that we were going to ruin his career and his last comments when he finally gave up command was, well, I don't have you guys to ruin my career anymore. So. I never saw him fly a mission, a combat mission. He'd fly the ash and trash going down to Saigon, to the parks and stuff like that. He moved his tent because we were living in tents at that time.
He moved his tent out to the flight line and he would sit there in a chair. And when it was time for you to launch, he checked your times off. If you launch late, you're going to hear about it that night when you got back in. But he was very, very much fearful of his career. And I'm sure that his career probably ended disastrously for him.
I hope on April 16th, nineteen sixty nine, I was flying with Mr. Driscoll, returning from a long day in Quang Loy, I said, and Quan Loy area flying resupply of one of the infantry battalions. It was late in the afternoon. The sun was setting. We were monitoring, monitoring the four radios when we heard the mayday call. Mayday, Mayday Lobo one three is going down.
Mr. Driscoll, a cobra just went to the bamboo at three o'clock, said our crew chief specialist Grossman Lobo, one three got off one call before he plowed into the bamboo. He was in a dive on a gun run and pulled out too late, only being able to get the nose of the aircraft up, but not enough to stop his downward motion. He crashed into ten foot high bamboo and put the aircraft over on its side. He was on top of an NBA bunker complex.
Quickly, Mr. Driscoll took controls from me and told me to plot our location and get out an additional mayday call, which I did, alerting everyone where we were. While I did that, Mr. Driscoll made an approach into a small clearing he'd spotted close to the downed aircraft and landed. It was just big enough for us to fit into. The first thing I noticed was the NBA bunker opening not ten feet from my door. I drew my thirty eight caliber pistol and pointed it at the opening, expecting someone to open fire at any moment.
The downed crew were struggling to get the many guns off the front of the cobra when they began taking small arms fire. Specialist Grossman opened with the sixty machine gun shooting at nothing specific but in the direction of the enemy fire, as did Specialist Leonard, our door gunner. I cocked my thirty eight and waited. As soon as the downed pilots got the many guns off the downed cobra, they ran to our aircraft and Mr. Driscoll pulled power to get us out of there as both gunners were firing.
And I emptied my thirty eight at the bamboo worthless weapon. The downed pilots thanked us profusely for saving their butts as they occupied the other side of the chicken pen. Their CEO came over that night and bought drinks for us at his club since we no longer had one. He invited Major Anthony, who declined to drink with us but made sure we didn't fly. The next day, a few months later, I came in from my flight and lying on my bed were orders for an air medal with V.
The downed air crew had put in our crew for the award. There was nothing our CEO could do about it. But instead of presenting the awards to us in front of the entire company, he simply put them on our beds or at least had the orderly room clerk do it. He did that as well for the crew chief and the door gunners awards. The man held grudges, his last words to anyone when he departed the unit after six months with something to the effect of he wouldn't have us around to ruin his career.
I think he may have done that on his own.
So his late his leadership style, when he first got there that first night and I put this in the book, he came into the club, which was our we had a big GP medium tent where our club was that. And he came in and he asked us how many who's flying tomorrow? Well, bunch of the guys raise their hands. And gentlemen, no drinking.
Twenty four hours for you fly. And everybody's going, wait a minute. We fly every day, and that was his point. Army policy was you would not drink twenty four hours before you fly or smoke within 50 feet of the aircraft. Well, warned officers to us it meant you didn't smoke. Twenty four hours before you flew or drink within 50 feet of the aircraft. But he didn't go along with that.
So he shut the club down. And that way there he could say if somebody crashed, he could say, hey, it's my policy. They violated my policy because they drank the night before so they couldn't blame him. That's where he was. Well, the the Cobra company commander, he invite us over. So we went over there. Our company commander wouldn't go. He made sure we didn't fly the next day. But but yeah, it's just the way that man was.
OK, well, I'm glad that you had a horrible leader, but damn, going into that, Z landed on top of an NBA bunker complex, grabbing those guys in mayhem.
Well, you had no choice, mate. You don't leave somebody behind. And that's kind of one of our models was you don't leave people behind. You saw the cobra go down. We didn't know it was a bunker complex till we got on the ground there with them. And I look over and I see this opening there and I've got this worthless pistol that you couldn't hit a thing with. And but that's what you do. And we did that many times over.
Is it you going to someplace it because you had a crew down you go and you get the crew out of your aircraft, take any hits on that one.
Now, we didn't take any hits on that one. No, that's just what you're doing. No time to think about it now. No time to think about it.
If you thought about it, you would have never become a helicopter pilot to start with, you know, I had a I had a guy by the name of Dean Ladd, who was a Marine Corps officer in World War Two, and he was going into Tarawa, too. And he'd already been in to a couple other islands.
I mean, he was a he just combat combat combat.
Now he's going to Tarawa and, you know, there's shelling and there's machine gun fire. And I asked him, I said, so when you are getting out, this is as they realize at Tarawa, you know, they hit the coral reefs. Now they got to walk eight hundred yards and there's a freakin Japanese machine gun fire coming. I said, well, you know, when you when you realize you're gonna have to walk, were you thinking I might get shot or whatever he's like now that that wouldn't happen to me, will happen to somebody else.
And that's pretty much what everybody everybody says, like it might happen. And he ended up getting shot or getting shot and somehow survived.
But the attitude of like, well, look, it's going to be dangerous for other people, but not for me.
I think I think the helicopter parts for a large extent had that same attitude. You know, hey, we see an aircraft go down. It's going to be somebody go down, but it's not going to be me. And you just you just didn't think about that happening to you. If you did, you probably wouldn't have finished the mission.
Yeah, I was going to say maybe you get a guy like your earlier company commander who had deployed already, who had done a tour over there, and he had seen combat taking hits to his body and to his aircraft.
And eventually he realizes all this. I'm not quite as good as maybe you're not as lucky as I think I am and I'm not going to sit back here.
Yeah. And I'm and I'm not invincible. So and I could see that what happened with an older guy like that. But, uh, young guys and that's the reason they have young guys, is helicopter pilots and crew Cheesus that young guys just don't have any fear. Maybe we're not smart enough to have fear.
Oh, yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Fast forward a little bit throughout the spring and summer of nineteen sixty nine, enemy forces attack fire bases along the border. Their tactics were always the same, waiting until after midnight, the enemy would commence their attack with a mortar and rocket barrage in concert with sappers attempting to penetrate the wire, followed by infantry waves attempting to penetrate the perimeter. Elzy Grant was a favorite target of these attacks several times between February and May.
Elzy Grant experienced major attacks, the first in February, saw the battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel Gorvy, that killed when a round hit the talk. He was seriously wounded but refused to leave the battle. The enemy managed to penetrate the perimeter wire and fighting was fierce to include artillery, lowering the tubes and firing point blank into the charging enemy with anti-personnel shot blue max gunships were called in and engaged the follow on enemy, as well as pursuing those attempting to retreat.
In May, Elzy Grant was under attack again simultaneously Quen, Lioy, Elzy, Jamie and Elzy. Phyllis also came under ground assaults that night. The enemy wanted the First Cavalry Division out of three core region, which was not going to happen.
Yeah, they they started stepping up the the fight back then and hitting those three ELSS at the same time that that had everybody up and scrambling. We got pulled out in the middle of the night to start flying Re-supply in there. And you had to be careful when you took the resupply in because you had you're trying to go in there, but where the VA at around that wire. So you're looking to see where most of the shootings at. And you come in most of the time.
You come in fast and low and kick out. And just that's the way the grunts want. If they didn't want to have to run out there to grab ammo or grab your aircraft. But then as daylight came out, then you'd start going in there and start getting more of the resupply in, bring in reinforcements. And I talked about we did one night combat assault that we brought reinforcements in and we put them about two klicks out and they were catching the NBA is the NBA.
We're trying to get back to Cambodia. But, yeah, that they started picking up, hitting those fire bases pretty hard.
Fast forward a little bit.
We had a new commander arrive in August who was a major improvement, Major Robert Saunders. I say that right.
So, yeah, he was a leader and we recognized it almost immediately. One of his first actions was to allow us to hire housemaid's previous commanders wouldn't hear of it. So we cleaned our own tents. Now we had maids that would come over from the village and clean out our rooms, do our laundry and shine our boots. In an effort to raise morale, Major Saunders directed that one hooch would be turned into an officer into a club for the enlisted members of the unit.
There wasn't another there wasn't another empty hooch available. So he directed that the officers should build our own club.
We had an engineer Aurélio pilot, and he drew up a design for the commander's approval with the design. We then began a scavenger hunt for building material, and before long we had an officers club. The brigade, the engineer brigade headquarters poured a concrete floor for us in return for some flight time for their projects.
Yeah, yeah. The bad times Sanders got there. We moved out of the medium tents and moved to the other side of the chicken coop. The other side, the chicken pen, and took over some wood buildings that were hooches, and that's what Saunders said, OK, you can have housemaid's now, but he said, I'll tell you right now, better not be any sex going on with the housemates. And so the guys were they were pretty adamant about watching that, that there would be no boom boom girls and that that increased morale significantly right there.
But then he said, OK, there's an empty hooch, Thatcherism club officers, if you want, when you build it yourself. And we did engineer officer, he drew up the plans for we started scavenging and scavenging stuff up. I seem to remember a pallet of of tin coming flying in one day on the bottom of a helicopter being delivered.
But it was a great little club.
They had if we had a stone bar that we were located in a rubber tree plantation, Tabou cutting down a rubber tree, you didn't dare cut down a rubber tree. In fact, you couldn't even run military operations in the in the plantations, rubber tree plantations. So we built the bar at a stone and it went from the wall to a tree in the middle of the club.
I mean, it was a nice looking bar we got. Not that you got any pictures of it. I wish I did. I don't. But we had this big tree growing up through the middle of the roof. And so we we built our club and it was sheet metal on the outside tin roof. We had a big cargo parachute that we requisitioned one day, spread out over the top of the for extra shade. And we put we got two of those parachutes.
We put one over the enlisted club as well, so the guys could sit outside and enjoy themselves outside. It was a nice club and we used to have the pilots would be over there. And then a lot of the other pilots from other units are the engineer battalion brigade, their headquarters. Guys who come over in the medevac nurses would come over.
So it's pretty nice little place.
So this is what what do we call the club? They're just the club, the chicken coop, where we just call it the chicken house. The chicken house. We had a chicken.
Our mascot was a rooster for a dollar. You could buy the rooster a shot of scotch. A rooster would not drink beer. He would drink sugary drink scotch.
And that was it. You'd buy a shot of scotch for a dollar from Sam, our barmaid, and she'd set it down for him. And Richard walk over and he'd sit there and drink that scotch. And about two of those that rooster couldn't walk anymore. But it was funny as hell watching that rooster. What was the rooster's name?
Rooster. The the SEALs that SEAL Team two during Vietnam had had a monkey that they brought home from Vietnam. Oh, my God. And they had it on the quarterdeck and it was like the most ornery evil monkey. The monkey's name was JoCo.
You read the partner in our book about the monkey, didn't you? What about it? Oh, one of our pilots. Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, he took it in the aircraft to go ahead. The guy is a he's a right seat pilot and they had in Vietnam they had these monkeys, they were given monkeys there. They get pretty damn big. Well he bought one of them and it was kind of small and he brought it out to the aircraft.
Thank God it was not the aircraft commander that day.
So the monkey sitting there and the monkeys jumping on his seat and he jump over to the aircraft commander's seat and then he climbed up on the first aid kit behind the aircraft. Commander scurried over first aid kit. Troops jump on board, going in for a combat assault. And they think this is funny, watching the monkey run back and forth.
Two minutes out, cobras roll hot, one minute out, the door gunners open up. And when they opened up, that monkey opened up with his bowels.
And is this all over the pilot? All over the aircraft commander screaming is set off by the aircraft. Man reached up, grabbed him, grabbed by the neck and about two hundred feet up tossed that monkey out the window.
I don't know if he learned how to skydive, but that monkey was gone. But nobody would go near that crew that day. They stunk so bad.
Yeah, like I said, I've fast forwarded through a bunch of stuff. There's some stories in here you gotta read for sure. That's one of them. The other one, I was thinking that the monkeys and I'm not going to cover today, but the the guys are calling in that they're being attacked, they're surrounded and all this stuff. And you guys got over top and said, you're surrounded by monkeys.
How we didn't tell those monkeys. We didn't we didn't want to we didn't want to bust the chops. It was a brand new patrol leader. It was a team out there. So we just went ahead, OK, yeah. We engaged the monkeys and they were able to any out of the area. So when we got back into the brigade talk, I said, hey, what what the report you get on the enemy situation out there might not quite be true, Jack.
Next up, Ralph was a good aircraft commander, a quiet man, he was the youngest pilot in the outfit as he joined the army right out of high school. He was not a drinker and spent his evenings working on college correspondence courses. His mission for that day was flying C and C for the division's engineer battalion commander. The engineer battalion commander wanted to fly out to where his engineers were working on various projects in the area, see their progress not unreasonable as they were scattered all over the and improving roads, building a school and supporting projects on the various firebases bases.
The day started off normal and they were visiting the various locations. However, just after lunch, things changed. The colonel wanted to go on a recon of some areas. Ralph agreed to fly those areas and B and proceeded to fly between Quen Lioy and Song Bay. The colonel was focused on looking for clearing's.
Finally, he asked Ralph to take them down and land in one. Ralph asked for the frequency and callsign of the unit in the clearing so he could contact them prior to landing, especially as he didn't see anyone in the clearing. The colonel came up with an excuse for why he couldn't provide the information and told Ralph just to land. Ralph insisted on a call sign in frequency before you take the aircraft down. The colonel became irate, but when he accused Ralph of being a coward, that was when things exploded.
Ralph reached up and disconnected his helmet from the intercom system, took the controls from the copilot and headed back to Camp Gorvy that the colonel was livid. Ralph didn't care, didn't care. Reaching Camp Corvax, my son's name, Bhagavan Gavaskar, that's named after that battalion commander that was killed during that assault, Ralph landed at the engineering pad and told the colonel politely but firmly to get out of his aircraft. He then called our battalion headquarters on the radio, which was being monitored by almost every pilot from the battalion, and told them that he had just tossed the Tost Engineer six out of his aircraft and was returning to base to say the least.
Shit was about to hit the fan.
Making that call on the radio alerted every aircraft on the frequency as to what had happened.
However, someone saw Ralph position in this and nothing came of it, at least on for Ralph.
Yeah, you talk about egos and the engineer had an ego and he was out to make a name for himself in the division and he was a fairly new guy and he would do that and he'd try to get an aircraft go down into a clearing without anybody being in the clearing to protect them. Ralph was smart enough to say, no, I'm calling Ralph a coward. Bad mistake. Ralph had already had a Silver Star at this point and a distinguished Flying Cross.
This engineer, battalion commander, did that to my roommate and my roommate flew into the clearing, they never came out. The NBA were waiting for him and everybody was killed.
So Ralph did absolutely the right thing with this guy because of his ego. Want to impress everybody?
Yeah. That you talk about that here, exactly what happened when I this is fast forward a little bit. When I returned from my mission that evening, Major Saunders approached my aircraft as I was shutting down Mr. Chorea word, please, he said as he opened my door. The major was standing in front of my aircraft and hadn't approached me. Yes, sir. I unstrapped, climbed out and came over to him. It's Mr. Corri now instead of Dan.
What did I do wrong? Let's walk. Mr. Cooper. He called over his shoulder addressing my co-pilot. Sir, would you grab Dan's gear and put it in? Put it in his room, please? Yes, sir. He called back with a question to look on his face. We walk half way back to the chicken coop with nothing said between us, but we're angling towards his hooch. Finally, he said, Dan, I have some bad news.
Dave and Y.A. were shot down today. I'm afraid the entire crew was killed. Y.A. was Dave's co-pilot for the day and fairly new to the unit. I felt like I had just been gut punched. What happened, sir? As best as anyone could tell, while supposedly flying from Quen Loida Boot up, the engineer colonel had again gone on a recon and convinced Dave to land in a clearing. A Scout team happened to find the aircraft sitting there.
It was obvious that someone had landed the aircraft before the enemy opened fire with some heavy weapons as the only damage to the aircraft was in the cockpit and transmission and none in the engine or beli the skids indicated a normal landing. Dave and Y.A. were still strapped in their seats, and Sergeant Alford, the door gunner, was in his as well. The crew chief, however, was found about one hundred yards from the downed aircraft. It appeared that Specialist Collins fought as empty, as empty.
Five, five, six shell casings were around him, but not a weapon. The aircraft was booby trapped. The colonel, his staff were dead in the back of it. There had been no friendly soldiers at the location. Damn, that son of a bitch has got more aircraft shot up than any one damn historias, and now he's gotten people killed, at least a sorry ass was one of them. Bastard. Major Sanders, just let me rant while he opened a cabinet and pulled out a bottle of Johnnie Walker Scotch filling two glasses.
He handed one to me and raised his own two absent comrades to Dave, Y.A., Alford and Collins. A few days later, I was sitting in my room writing a letter when my new roommate, Ohey Richie, came in from flying. He looked troubled as he grabbed a beer and tossed his flight gear on the bed. What's up, Richie? I asked. Just a bad day saw my first crash and it was not pretty, he said, finishing off the first beer and opening the second.
What happened? Was it one of ours? I asked. No, it was a Charlie company bird and one of the pilots was in my flight class. I just been talking to him before we launched and now him and his crew are dead, hit a tree. Damn, were you under fire? No, we were coming out of an Elzy, which we'd been in four times already, and the blade on the right side hit a tree at about seventy five feet.
Rotor blade just came apart and they crashed and burned. No one got out. Damn, Sario and who the pilots, let's see, Warrant Officer Thomas Brown was in flight school with me. Warrant Officer Dennis Varnay was the Aceh specialist Marzin Shelbie was the door gunner and the crew chief was Specialist Robert Lazaro's. I just met them not an hour before when I went over to talk to Tom, opening another beer for myself. I raised it and tapped Ritchies beer in a toast to absent comrades.
A few nights later, our platoon leader came walking down the hall. The CEO wants to see everyone in the club, he said. We all started heading that way.
The C.O. did not look happy. Gentlemen, take a seat after you get a beer. He didn't have to say that twice. After everyone was seated and holding a cold one, the major raised his beer to absent comrades. The look of shock and dread was on everyone's face. We all stood and raised our drinks to absent comrades. We all repeated and chugged our beer, still wondering who'd we lost, motioning us to sit down. The major looked over everyone before he started to speak.
Charlie Company lost a crew last night. They were on a night mission out of Elzy buttons and ran into bad weather at about zero two hundred hours. They attempted to take off in the fog. The grunts on the perimeter said they had all their lights on so they could see them in the soup. The aircraft got through about two hundred feet and then it crossed the perimeter wire. It as it crossed the perimeter razor wire. It appeared to roll ninety degrees and crashed into trees on the perimeter.
The whole crew was lost and that that period of time we start to lose some crews and we knew a lot of the crews and the other units because we flew a lot together. A lot of times they'd have maybe a unit could put four birds up for a lift and you get tagged to put to your birds with them. So you got to know the other crews and the other pilots as well. But this period of time when Saunders got there, that's when we started losing a lot of birds and it kept right on up for the rest of the time.
I was there the night birds who had minimum minimum instruments for weather fly. And if the guys didn't practice their weather flying, they were rusty at it and try to pull off in the fog. That sounds like what happened there. You just wasn't on his instruments that night and he lost control of the aircraft hitting a tree. That happened frequently. In fact, my last mission, one of my last missions, one of our birds hit a tree at about seventy five feet up and we got one guy out.
We didn't think he would make it, but last summer I had lunch with him at the Congressional Golf Club in Washington, D.C. and he pull through. He's in a coma for six weeks, but he looks good. He said from the neck down. He said, I'm one big scar, but from the face up, he looked, John look pretty good. So. And the thing is, I think a lot of times people don't understand, I mean, when this stuff is happening, the war goes on.
Oh yeah. It's like, OK, we still have a mission to do. We're still going to get the bird spun up. We're still going to go out and do our job. Yeah.
Now you you've got to put it behind you at that time. I don't know how it was in other units, but at that time in our unit, we never did have a memorial service when somebody was lost the just before I left, we had a guy that we all loved dearly, a crew chief, and we were on a combat assault. He got shot in the arm pit. Well, the chicken plate didn't cover the armpit and he died.
We had a memorial service for him. But anybody else we lost the memorial service was get drunk in the club that night. So a lot of us just didn't have any any good thoughts about when we left there.
So it was. It was good to see. Good, good to have a drunk fest anyway with the guys.
Fast forward a little bit. My crew and I arrived at the aircraft and conducted our preflight good morning posi house. She look, I asked my crew chief. All good. All good, Mr. C answered as he closed the engine cowling. Quillen How's the guns and ammo? I my gunner fresh cans ammo this morning. Mr. Curry. We're good, Mr. Corey. We're good, he responded. I climbed up and looked over the rotor head while my co-pilot for the day, Warrant Officer Ron Fender, did the walk around.
Inspection and tail rotor all appeared to be good. We strapped in, started the engine and waited ready. Ready to assume the mission if called upon.
Hey, one niner to seven is down. Assume his mission and contact Bajour six when you reach Kwan Lioy for further instructions. Flight operator instructed Roger three India one niner has it I started pulling power Ohgi OK guys coming out about this time I saw Chip Rumball Chicken Man two seven along with his co-pilot Warrant Officer McCartney waving to me and running over. I set the aircraft back down jumping on the skid next to my door. Tip asked Hey Dan I'm low time pilot for the month.
Let me take the mission. He had just returned from a seven day on our trip to Hawaii and hadn't flown much for the past month. You got it? I said is Ron and I unstrapped and climbed out, turning over the aircraft aircraft to Chip and McCartney. We watched as they hovered out of the chicken pen and onto the runway. We were walking back to flight operations when they started down the runway and disappeared behind the trees, reaching flight operations.
We went in First Class Sergeant First Class Robinson was crying. He saw us and immediately got a shocked look on his face. Oh, my God. Who's flying your aircraft? You asked. I told him why. What's the problem? They got off the runway and we're climbing out when the rotor head came off.
They're all dead. Yeah, I was stunned and suddenly sick to my stomach outside, I threw up. Ron dropped to his knees and start and stared at the ground. I went back to my room and just sat on my bed. 30 minutes later, Major Saunders stock stopped by. You OK? Danny asked. I don't know, sir. I checked that head and it all looked good. What happened? I don't know. But the accident investigation board will figure it out.
You just take it easy. He left, but about an hour later he was back down. I hate to ask you, but can you take a mission? It seems Lieutenant Weed is too upset to fly his mission and has brought back his aircraft. Lieutenant Wead was close to Chip, the aircraft commander. Yes, sir. I got it. I picked up my gear. I'll walk out with you. I want you to see I want to see just how upset he is.
The major and I walked together to the flight line. We didn't say much as there wasn't a lot to say. I didn't expect what came at me. As soon as lieutenant, we saw me, he threw his helmet on the ground and came at me. You son of a bitch. Corey, this is your damn fault. Major Saunders. Step between us. Lieutenant, stop right there. Get your shit and go to your room. Not another word.
Do you hear me? Now go turning to me, the CEO said, Dan, forget this and get on with the mission. This wasn't over. However, that night at the club, Lieutenant, we'd proceeded to loudly badmouth me. I let it go as he was lieutenant and I was just a warrant. But I finally had enough. Hey, Lieutenant Deke, we'd, with all due respect for your rank, go to hell. I knew using his full name as modified by the warrant officers would piss him off.
And it did. With that, he was up and headed straight for me. I was off my barstool and eager to get it on with him, looking forward to hurting him. I was not a brawler, but could hold my own in a fight just before he got to me, Captain Armstrong, a platoon leader, step behind him and jerked him off his feet.
Don't you dare move, Lieutenant Captain Armstrong was an infantry officer of considerable size, very tall and very muscular. He was a no nonsense man. Mr. Corey, I think you should retire for the night now, he told me. Yes, sir. And I departed back to my room in the Warren officer's hootch.
After any aircraft accident, an accident investigation is held, my co-pilot was interviewed, as were the assistant maintenance officer and myself, the crash site was well was examined as well. The rotor head was flown to a general aviation support facility at Vung to and examined. The results were posted and indicated that the rotor head did not come off, but it failed. The rotor head that had been put on the aircraft the night before was a rebuilt one. During the rebuilding, the bolt holes for the bolts that held the pitch change.
Horn had been cleaned and resized one millimeter. However, the same original bolt sizes were installed upon the US and Corpus Christi offloading aircraft overall facility. Those original bolts were one millimeter too small between the test flight and the takeoff. The bolts holding pitch change horn had failed due to the stress, and the result was a loss of control over the blades, making the aircraft unstable. In flight, the investigation board found that there was no way to the assistant maintenance officer or I could have found the problem as the bolts hadn't twisted out.
But it simply and instantly torn out. The bolts were never found, but the condition of the bolt holes told the story. Easy for them to say, but this would haunt me every day. I couldn't help but think that it was something I should have caught on the pre flight. It could have been me and my co-pilot. We had come that close. Yeah, that that that incident has haunted me for a long time. I lost Posi, I lost Quynh and it was that close that.
That we almost bought the farm, the maintenance officer had flown the bird the night before, after they put the road ahead on it and all seemed well, and then we got out there in the morning and looked at it and I did the road ahead. The safety wires were all in place. The slippage marks were all lined up and everything looked good and. But when Chip went out, he pulled full power when he came off the end of the runway and those four bolts that hold that pitch change weren't on, they just blew out.
And they said when they made us officer told me when we took it down the wrong time, they looked in there. They could see where the threads had just been ripped apart. They hadn't they hadn't been screwed out. They just were the bolts exploded out of there. So we lost the crew, lost the aircraft.
Talk about some other missions that you did, you talk about doing some psy ops missions, which, yeah, they didn't like me to do psy ops missions. Why is that? Well, I did that one psy ops mission and know it was just after David died. It was just after Chip McCartney was killed. And they say, OK, are you going to fly this last mission?
OK, so they put these big loudspeakers in the side of the aircraft and this Vietnamese captain jumps in and they say, OK, we want you go at this crossroads. So we fly to this crossroads. We're at twenty five hundred feet and we're flying around. This guy's in the back of the aircraft. SING-SONG Vietnamese language for two hoy's, right? Yeah. Two hoy's trying to get the North Vietnamese to surrender. So my crew chief Lovelace at that time says, hey, Mr.
Quarrie, there's a bunch of guys down here in the in the bamboo.
They're digging trenches right alongside the intersections. So I look over there. I thought, well, shit, there they are.
And Vuh down there. And I turn to the American sergeant and I said, hey, you think those guys can hear from us being up here? Twenty five hundred feet, which likes to go down a little lower. He goes, Mr. Quarry, nobody. A flight.
Fifteen hundred fifteen hundred side. I said, I'll take it. Fifteen hundred. And so as I'm lowering the aircraft down to fifteen hundred flying this orbit around these North Vietnamese guys, then I turn to my co-pilot, get song by artillery on the line. He calls up song by Artie and says Fire Mission Standby.
That gives them the coordinates. Everything we get down there, sure enough, and VA starts shooting up at us. So I said we're taking fire. And he says he said, yeah, we are.
Mr. Bridges, you need to go back up. I said, no, we need to get a little further out. So I'm just moved out a little bit further. They kept shooting.
Well, that's when I called the artillery in on them and the Vietnamese captain in the back, he just went ballistic. I mean, you know, they're supposed to surrender. And I said, well, he talks at them now.
They're going to be more willing to surrender after we hit him with some artillery. We did.
We put about twelve rounds in there on top of these guys. And after that, the Vietnamese guy didn't want to argue with any more, but he took it back.
And the American captain in charge of the SAPS program, he came up. He says, we're going to have to scratch, scratch this mission off as a failure.
And I said, well, yeah, I said, hey, you know, they started shooting first and I was protecting my crew and your crew as well.
So he he just kind of laughed at me and he tapped me on the shoulder, says, yeah, I got it.
I understand. I hate it.
Stops missions. This was crazy. Your dad was still in the Navy at this time.
Yeah. And he's now an officer and he's in freakin Saigon.
Yeah. Yeah, he was living well. He was one of the ramps. He was one of the rooms in Saigon. Well deserved.
After he fought World War Three was on submarines. I got no bro, probably enjoyed the five in Saigon.
So I went and asked company commander, I said, Hey sir, this is Sander still I said and he was Sanders getting towards the end of his tour. So I said, Hey, my dad's in Saigon.
Could he come up and fly three days with me or something like that. And I thought centers and you know, they'll know.
They said, Sure, bring him up, OK, we'll bring him up. So Dad came up and I picked him up in Saigon. He jumped in the front seat.
Before you get there, when you were in Saigon, I know you went to an officer's club with him. Oh, yeah. And they they come to kick you out. Well, as you're going into the officers club, you see like a bunch of nice pistols hanging up on the wall and you're thinking, oh, yeah, unsecured. No one's watching them. And you're thinking, well, that doesn't seem very smart. So then you sit down having some lunch with your dad.
They kicked us out. They kicked you out because you're not a field grade officer, which is a major lieutenant commander above. So they kick you out on your way out.
Some of those weapons with you, so you end up with a nice instead of that 38 caliber pistol that wasn't very effective, you end up with a forty five, a nice 1911.
I'm sure not that's not quite the right way. Let's just say that when I got back to like I had a brand new forty five. OK, so so your data ends up freaking coming up.
How, how old your dad at this point.
That's probably is about forty three. Forty four. OK, he's in the game. Oh yeah. He's in the game.
He's, I think he was, he was about 50 when he retired from the Navy and this was three years before he retired from the Navy. So he's in his late 40s.
So he came up and what was he doing? What was he, some kind of liaison or something? No, no.
He was in J six at Macfie headquarters communications. And I guess I can say it now. It's not classified anymore. But he was working on the communications plan for the repatriation of POWs. Got it is what he was doing at the time. So so he came up to like and spent about three days with it, flew as my crew chief or I lose my door gunner, gave my my crew chief and some time off. But he did good.
He had to have his ass chewed a little bit.
Yes. So tell us about the first gunfight. Yeah, that's a good one. Yeah, we're up we're flying along there and he's working the ELSS and he's doing good clearance and clearance and stuff like that.
So we got the troops on board. Troops all get on the aircraft and that uniform is the same as ours of fatigues. And he had just made his lieutenant commander, Zephania, which is just a little smaller than the the army major. The grunts are back there in the back and all of a sudden somebody starts pulling on my collar. I'd look over, this is grunts. Paul McCartney goes, Hey, sir, what's your rank?
Is it to why? And he goes, they to that major back their screw ups.
And he's your door gunner. So I told no, it's my dad. He's flying with us. So they thought that was pretty cool. So we go in on this combat assault. We were in top five or six position and we're going in a staggered right formation. So you got one aircraft in front of you and you got one off the side.
Six minutes out, the artillery goes in, the artillery cuts off at two minutes out, the Cobras roll hot. One minute out, door gunners opened fire. And right away we start seeing green tracers. And I hear my crew chiefs gun firing, but I don't hear my dads. And I said, Dad, open fire.
Nothing, and I'm thinking, oh, shit, he's been hit and I turn over my shoulder and look, he's standing on the skids, he's got his monkey harness on and he's taking pictures out in front.
I got on that.
I got on the intercom and said, Dad, get your ass in here. Get on a gun.
So he gets on the gun. When we got back, we had a discussion about crew chief duty.
He's a door gun on Erica.
And he wrote My Mother. And he said, you know, I've had a lot of ass tunes in my Navy career, but that's the worst one I've ever had.
And he took it. I would give him credit.
He took it quite well and he came back. Fluid's about three or four times.
That's crazy. I like this this conversation you had with your dad. It says he says, I noticed one thing different about those Air Force pilots from you guys. Air Force pilots seem to be outgoing and always in a positive mood versus you guys who always seem withdrawn and pensive, he explained. And then you replied, Dad, an Air Force pilot is that way because he's flying a machine that wants to fly and if left alone, will generally fly quite well on its own.
In addition, compared to a helicopter, an airplane has very few moving parts that can cause a serious malfunction.
On the other hand, helicopter pilots flying machine that does not want to fly and only does and only does so by the interactions of the pilot to balance for forces all opposed to each other.
Plus, a helicopter has a lot of moving parts, any of which breaking can and does cause a major disaster. Helicopter pilots are moody because we know something is going to break if it hasn't done so already. That's right. That gave the old man something to think about.
He had Daddy flown with one of the things he did when he came up it like we had a of ten squadron that flew out of there, the Broncos, and we got him a ride and one and he went out and flew with them. He flew with the Captain Rider, an Australian captain, as an exchange officer.
And he thought that was pretty cool out there flying with those guys. And so when he came back in that night, that's when this conversation came up about the fighter pilots. They're just jovial and happy. And Zatarain, you guys, you're all kind of moody and down in the dumps. So. Yeah, and that's why we fly something it doesn't want to fly.
Harry Reasoner, about nineteen seventy three, wrote a great article about helicopter pilots and helicopters and it's kind of along that same line is what what Dad. Nice conversation was.
Yeah. Well it's like you said, a plane, you can, you can let go of the stick and it'll kind of just cruise for a while. Yeah. It'll fly itself but a helicopter is not that's not that's not happening.
That's not happening. They have now helicopters that do have an autopilot on them. But in those days you let go of those controls and a Huey now, no telling where she's going to go.
Fast forward a little bit. You get you eventually get orders and you're going to go to Fort Ordered, which to you sounds great because it's up by Monterey and you start like thinking, oh, I'm going to California, I'm going to beat. Yeah. And it's going to be awesome. And then you start asking people about what the deal is and you start hearing that it's actually horrible to be there. It's expensive as hell. And the high school kids are driving around in Jags and Mercedes and and you're going to barely scrape by, won't be able to afford anything as a warrant officer.
And so you figure out, OK, I'm gonna try and get my orders changed and you go talk to your C.O. and and you say, hey, can I get my my orders changed?
He's like, no, I can't. Do you think I think I'm magic? And then he says, Now wait one.
There is a way you can change your orders now as excited there is how you can extend for six months and stay in Nam.
He was grinning. Did he have something to do with my RFL? I wondered, sir. You're kidding. Hell, I've already had my cherry busted, had a door gunner wounded, had hydraulic failure and a compressor stall. Add to that over thirteen hundred hours of flying here. I didn't mention the aircraft had gone down with the pitch change, horn failure, the one I'd almost ridden in. He knew that was on the score card without me mentioning it.
Yeah, you've racked up some time but that's only. But that's the only choice you have. Think about it. And he headed to the bar.
Yes. Yeah. And I really thought at the time I thought, well, he just changed my order. It's not a problem. But no it wasn't.
But that him enough and the platoon leader, Lieutenant Robocop or Captain Beauchamp, they had probably already worked this out ahead of time. I'm thinking they didn't have anything to do with me getting orders to ORed, but putting the idea on my head to extend. And up to this time we had not had guys extending, at least for our unit.
And so when I said, OK, I'll extend, I'm thinking I'll go to a medevac unit, which is what you kind of wanted to do because you don't have to fly in formation.
Yeah. So information. But then Beauchamp and so they so they get you to extend.
Yeah. They got, they say listen yeah. You don't go to medevac unit will be in. Rear with the gear, you know, you just have to fight the nurses and the nurses there and the whole nine yards. So you agree seems like a good idea. You're not going to get it or you can go back to some place. Once you get orders, you go back to someplace better than ordered.
And so you get that extension up and then and then then you guys go out and you do some drinking and now you guys are drinking hard. And we go to the book after about an hour. That's a company about an hour, but people feeding you drinks. The company clerk came up to me in the officers club and asked me to sign some papers. What's this for? I asked with a slight slur and blurry eyes. I was becoming as drunk as our rooster, who frequently declares each night was fed Scots.
The damn rooster would not drink beer. Expensive taste. Oh, it's just some paperwork I need your signature for on the extension, he said. And I signed it without another thought. I thought I had submitted everything as he left the Arlo's excuse themselves, slapping each other on the back and laughing their asses off. Two nights later, I found out what was so funny. The major wanted all the pilots in the club for a meeting and then he goes in there and he announces that I'm happy to announce one of our chickens has decided to stay in the coop.
Mr. Corey has graciously modified his extension to remain with us instead of going to a medevac unit. Thank you, Dana. That's going to happen. Oh, yeah. They got you drunk and you signed papers to stay on.
I did. And then right after that, he announced, well, who's the new instructor pilot? And one of the pilots asked me that and he just kind of grinned and he looked around.
He goes, Mr. Korey's the new instructor pilot. So tell us about the instructor duties and instructor duties. You're the unit instructor pilot. And your job was to when a new pilot showed up in the unit, they flew with you. Their first orientation flight would be with you. And then frequently they would fly with you then. Well, Major decided that since I was going to take my extension, leave in about a month and a half, he wanted me to fly with new pilots only.
So a new pilot would come in and we had to come in right away. Almost. Mister, I forget the one gentleman's name.
The other one was Domus, but I would fly with one on one day and fly with the other one the other day and vice versa. The days they weren't flying with me, they'd be flying with another AC. That was my job to teach them combat flying, combat orientation's combat takeoffs, how to get over all those sorts of things.
And you're still doing your normal missions. Oh yeah. Fly with the new guys. Yeah. Yeah. You just, you fly the normal missions just now. You got really new guys flying with your right seat.
On May 4th, nineteen sixty nine two aircraft from our sister company, Company B, join a formation with the second aircraft in a right echelon to the first. The second aircraft attempted to pass the first aircraft on his right side. There was a miscommunication between the two aircraft resulting in a midair collision. All crew members on both aircraft were killed.
Yeah, yeah. When you flew formation, you flew by S.O.P. But if it but if you were going to do something outside of the the normal formation flying, like trying to pass somebody on the opposite side, you had to be sure and communicate with them so that everybody understand what you're going to do. And evidently there was a lack of communications with these two guys and one flew right into the other.
You know, you had to worry about getting shot at. You had to worry about the aircraft maintenance failure and you had to worry about somebody flying in to you. Yeah, I was telling you earlier that pilot was never really my kind of thing. Like, I have no desire to be a pilot. That's one that's like a couple right there. I don't like relying on some big, big machine with a bunch of parts that I don't understand that's going to keep me alive and keep my friends alive.
I don't like that it was just a matter of trusting each other.
Yeah, I trusted one hundred percent the guys in our unit that I flew with 90 percent, the guys in other units I didn't fly with. So but you had that trust and bond built up amongst you. You know, you all went to the same flight school. You all understood about what what the different formations were. And so you didn't do anything radical. And even when we would fly, you know, our company would fly with their company because we all flew by an S.O.P.
We had a system, we understood the system. And so things were relatively safe. It's when somebody would go do something like this that's out of the ordinary that that people got killed.
Yeah. And this is because everyone's relying on each other so much as I mean, it's similar in the SEAL teams.
If somebody if some of these outside, if the job is outside their capability like it's a non-starter.
That's why I like what I like what you guys had with the with the AC. In order to be an aircraft commander, you had to get the thumbs up from the other actors. There's a standard there that you can't compromise because it's truly putting everyone else at risk. That's right, everybody.
Fast forward a little bit coming around the end of the valley.
I climbed up the ridge and popped up, looking south right down the runway. This is just out on another freakin mission, which you're doing all the time as a sniffer mission. On the on the left, Specialist Linman started shooting the sniffer team, let loose with a 40 millimeter round under the bamboo canopy. On the edge of the runway was a regular village of NVE soldiers lying around somewhere in uniform, some lying in hammocks, some cooking chow tables were made out of bamboo, as were chairs.
They were totally surprised, as were we. And this is they're they're occupying an abandoned airfield. Yeah. So that's why you see an airfield and there's no VA right there. Lobo on my left in the bamboo fire. I screamed as I increased power and airspeed rapidly staying low to the ground. I had never seen so many enemy soldiers before. As soon as I spoke, two point seventy five inch rockets were slamming into the bamboo. And as NBA troops ran and dove for cover, Lobo was firing ripple effect, automatically launching twenty eight rockets with just one pulled the trigger and punching the target.
Then, as many guns opened on the tree line on my left as we were hauling ass down the runway. As we cleared the abandoned SF camp and runway, we stayed low level until we were confident we could climb to altitude and not get hit by a fifty one cal machine gun. But something wasn't right, and in the fuel of the aircraft, the cyclic felt stiff and was getting stiffer. Mr. Corey, we have a problem. The housing for the Push-Pull to be shot away.
And each time you move the cyclic control, it's binding the rods. Can you fix it? I was surprised at how calm I sounded when I was shitting bricks here. No, sir. I could hold up the tubes, but then I would be flying the aircraft from here. He said, well, what do you suggest? Slowly descend and find a clear area that we can do a running landing into. You might be able to raise the nose, but it will be a one time move not to be countered by attempting to lower the nose.
OK, I can do this. Running landings were practiced and the further south I flew, the better terrain for this. A runway would be nice, but the closest Wysong Bay and it was laid out east to west where as I was flying north to south, that ain't going to work. I started looking for an open area. What about the road? Bruce said he was now on his third cigarette since I'd taken the controls. Damn, he better save a couple for me.
I thought in the distance we could see a straight stretch, but the trees were close and the sides were lined with bamboo. It's going to have to do. I want everyone up forward and seat belts on Linman, make sure everyone is strapped in tight. As I got to treetop level with the road under the chin bubble I started easing up on, I started easing the nose up. Slowly, the air speed began to bleed off 80 knots, 70 knots, 60 knots and our speed continue to drop.
We were slapping the tops of bamboo stalks now twenty knots bamboo stalks. We're breaking off and I could feel the main rotor buffeting as we hit thicker vegetation, I just didn't want to know what kind of vegetation at this point just don't let us hit a hardwood tree trunk and rip the rotor head off at 20 knots. The skids touch the ground and we're sliding along, steering with the pedals to maintain a straight line. Broken bamboo was whirling about as if it was in a tornado.
As the aircraft came to a stop, I was shutting the engine down while Linman and Dietrick had the guns in hand with belts of ammo in their arms. And and we were on asking the aircraft as Mike landed right behind me, he didn't worry about tree limbs. One look at my rotor blades told him that I'd cleared out everything for him as if a giant lawnmower had passed over the bamboo field. As my flew us back to song, Bai Dietrich had asked the question that I knew was coming.
Hey, Mr. Stinky, was that your first time shot down? Bruce walked into it, yeah. I've only been in country a couple of months. Thank you, sir. You're buying the beer tonight? I considered it. I considered if I should speak up as well as it was my first. Then Mike spoke up. Hey, Mr. Corey, that's your first two, isn't it? There will be lots of free beer tonight, guys. I started to protest, but to no avail.
Yeah, yeah. They took we took one round and it's all it hit us, but it hit right on the housing for the the Push-Pull too.
For the, for the cyclic. So every time I move that psychic I can feel it starting to bind up. I didn't dare try to move it left or right because I you know, I did not want the aircraft in a turn. And it just I just kept moving forward and back. And finally, we just found a straight stretch of road and said, OK, let's let's go down the road. And we practice running landings all the time.
So that was no big deal. I was just worried that I wasn't going to get that knows far enough back up to slow the aircraft down. The last thing I want to do is be doing sixty knot sliding down that road on my skids. So making sure we had enough room to ease that nose up and keep that aircraft from sliding too fast.
But yeah, Mike, Mike saw us go down. He heard the Mayday Lobo put out a mayday for me as well. And they got in four hours later, Chinook came in, pick the aircraft up and flew it back to like and yeah, that's what's crazy.
These helicopters, you get shot down and you just leave the bird and then a forty, forty seven would come in, strap onto the thing and take it home.
Well, what would happen is that a bird would go down and first of the Ninth Cav, they always had a rapid reaction force. It's called their blues and they would fly in that rapid reaction force into where the aircraft was if it was salvageable, said security. It set security, and then they'd hook the aircraft up to a forty seven and forty seven, would pull the aircraft out and fly it back to its own base. And that's all they did with this one.
They replaced the rotor blades, they replaced the bell housing on the bottom, and that was it. Two days later, that bird was back up and flying again. Now, when you did, do you get that? Do you stay in your own bird like all the time? Are you always find the same bird?
Yes, unless it's down for maintenance for some reason. So you get some other random bird, all the birds a little bit different now. They were pretty much laid out the same thing. There were a little corpse about them, but nothing that you'd really notice. We had we had outboard motors, right, for our Zodiac boats, yeah, and they even though they're all from the same company, they're all supposed we had names for them, you know, and they would all be just a little bit different.
Temperamental, temperamental. Like this one, I remember is called Frankenstein. You know, like the one that was it was all you look like it would never run, but it was the most reliable.
But but it's but for you, you didn't care if you got a different bird other than hard luck.
Yeah. Yeah. I didn't care we'd fly anything. What you didn't like, though, is you got a different crew chief.
You always got a different crew chief and a different gunner because the crew chief and gunner always stayed with the aircraft. The aircraft was now for maintenance. They were down for maintenance as well, helping to help them get the aircraft ready. So that's the one thing I didn't like about is I had to learn different crew chiefs and different gunners, but otherwise, yeah, it's the aircraft were pretty much the same.
Now, are you? So your flight this is analog flying, right? I mean, this is you're moving the stick and it's moving a piece of whatever cable that's moving something. It's moving a tube. It's moving a tube. But that's what it is. So this ah is a Black Hawk. The same thing is a Black Hawk.
Is it is it analog like that where you're actually moving a gear somewhere or moving a cable or moving a tube?
I think so. I'm not sure about the Black Hawk, but on the Huey it was always tubes. The only place you had cables was back in the back in the tail boom. And it was a cable.
Two cables, two or four. I can't remember. I think it was two cables. It ran down the tail boom, back to the tail rotor. But for the for the acyclic, the collective and the pedals, initially, those were all Push-Pull tubes.
They were called. But it's all mechanical. It's all mechanical. Mechanical.
There's no there's is there anything like power steering.
The only thing that was that was the governor. The fuel on the Huey that was controlled. The throttle was controlled by a governor. So once you started the aircraft up, you brought the throttle up all the way and the governor would stop it at sixty six hundred rpm on the engine. And you had a governor control switch. If that went out, then you had to fly the aircraft manually and you learned how to fly it manually with the fifty five in flight school.
But on the Huey that was really sensitive with that, trying to fly that thing with the, the manual control on the throttle. But that's the only thing that was automatic, so to speak, on the Huey was that throttle control man.
These are some like durable beest.
Oh they were the Huey, the Cobra gunship, the the old Charlie model gunships. They were just great.
I mean, Bell helicopter built a great aircraft force and it did well.
The Huze built the 086, which you see those with the sixes now in Task Force One sixtieth.
The 086 guys love to fly that thing because if it got shot down, it would crash the road ahead, come off the table, come off and it roll like an egg. And so guys, really, they they didn't mind.
They did mind getting shot down and crashing, but their survivability rate was really good in the six.
All right, going back to the book here, you take some leave and and while you're on leave, you know, you go to where? You go to DC, Baltimore area, D.C..
Yeah, my mom was going to college at the University of Maryland. And then, you know, you spent some time with with Mary. Is that right? Yeah, I spent some time with Mary, get to know her.
And then let me give you some background on Mary. Let's hear about Mary. I met Mary. Dad was stationed in Morocco. Your dad, my dad and sixty seven. Yeah, and I went back to Morocco for Christmas of sixty seven. Mary, one night in church in Morocco, in Morocco there, what was her parents doing? They were stationed at the same Navy base. It was a communications base. So she's another Navy brat, Navy brat, and the base is no longer there.
It was at Cydia outside of Kuneitra, but I met her church.
We went out for a ride. My dad's MRG the next day and that was it. And then a year later, just four, I went to Vietnam. I came back and met her parents know. So our parents and everything, she'd already gone back to the states.
And so when I came back from Vietnam, the first time, they moved all the way to Morocco and marry there and marry there.
And so so I came back to the states and mom said, hey, why don't you go down, see the Simmons'? And I said, yeah, we used to live in Virginia Beach with devastation on the cobbler SS three forty four. So I thought, yeah, they'd be kind of cool, like to go back and see Norfolk. So I went down and met her and we got kind of hooked up then.
And that was, that was while you were on leave now.
That's why I was on my extension leaf. Got it. So that's really kind of a mission accomplished there. Yeah. Stateside mission accomplished. You you come back from leave and you mentioned that you were ready to go back from leave, that you were ready to go back to normal. Yeah, I was ready to get back.
I just I was climbing the walls a little bit.
You get back there. Hey, I read in the paper in DC that an aircraft went down, wasn't one of ours. No one said anything, but everyone looked uncomfortable. Finally, someone spoke up.
Yeah. It was one of us. That was all he would say. Well, who was it? Did the crew get out? Everyone OK? It was your aircraft, one nine. No one got out. What what the what happened? I asked. I was in total shock. Shock. They were on a resupply over a hover hole. The gooks opened fire on them on their third pass and they crashed into the trees. Grunt's said that they made each of their three approaches over the same ground.
They had five new replacements on board. The grunts got to the aircraft and we're shooting gooks in the cabin and cockpit.
Who was the crew? It was Ash as AC and NewBay Taylor, your crew chief. Linman Lynam. As I say, his name, Lynam and Dietrich were on board too. Sorry, they told me I didn't know the co-pilot who had arrived the day after I'd left to go home. The AC, like all our guys, was a good my good man. He had just received a dear John letter from his wife telling him she was getting a divorce.
I guess she didn't need to know. I guess she didn't need to know. I raised my glass and they joined me to Absent Comrade's.
So the guys, Lynam and Dietrick, who you just went through that that caused a crash landing, what you did. Yeah, you went through that crash landing, you go home and both those guys get killed.
Yeah. And the thing that struck me was that here I'm in Washington, D.C., I'm reading the paper in the morning and it's talking about this helicopter shot down a hundred miles north of Saigon. I think what's so unusual about that, I mean, helicopters getting shot down all the time in Vietnam. And I just it just kind of struck me odd that that would be there. And then I get there and I find out was my own aircraft.
There's a chapter in here called Stand Down, and it really points out the the importance of crew rest.
You guys were run ragged, but you go through one point where you you you're in the helicopter flying. You wake up. Yeah. And you see that the the person well, I guess it's the lead pilot. My co pilot is also asleep and the crew's asleep. Yeah, that happened. We had a posse. It got to the point where, you know, earlier you said in the book, you know, if you had a hundred and forty hours, you got a couple of days down.
I was pushing over a hundred and sixty hours and it got to the point where most of the pilots were the same boat. We were short of pilots. We were training our crew chiefs to fly the aircraft because it was getting that desperate. So what we did was if we were flying a long leg, one pilot would sleep, the other would stay awake. And so that's what we were doing. Well, he was flying. We're come back at night.
Beautiful night to fly. And I thought I said, I'm going I'm going to get some sleep. He said, OK. So I closed my eyes and right away I fell asleep. Well, something told me to wake up and I kind of woke up and looked around and it may have been a one of the first indications of a problem is a change in sound in the aircraft.
You know, if suddenly the engine's quiet, you know, you got a problem. But there were just you really listen to sound in the aircraft and that would that would tell you something's wrong. A whistling sound. You just got a bullet through the rotor blades. So something just woke me up and I just sat there and just kind of looked around. Everything looked great. And I looked over at him and I thought, I wonder what he's looking at.
And his head was down.
And then I realized he's asleep and we just sat there and the aircraft was flying along perfect.
And then she just and I suspect what happened is that he probably just let a little pressure off his hand and the cyclic just ease forward a bit because the nose started dropping. We started picking up speed and pick up speed. Sound is going to change. The aircraft start vibrating. And then he woke up and looked over at me and I went, you had a nice nap. So, yeah, we got back in that night and the medical officer came out and they they stood the whole unit now because I was the third aircraft come in that day and the other two aircraft came in and pilots both declared, that's it, we're done.
So the medical officer came out when the company commander came out and they grounded the whole unit.
You guys end up getting a Valen Unit award? Yes. Yes. We got a valid uniform for the action on six March sixty nine.
Here's another thing that happens, you're in for a briefing, Mr. Corey, you and I will have three lives tomorrow and that should about do it. Mr. Roberts, you and I will fly together the day after tomorrow. Sir, Mr. Roberts responded looking at me and I had him. You two are going to be the next flight leaders. The policy about warrant officers not being flight leaders has changed. You will be first if you guys want the assignment.
All the warrants in the room were smiling and talking softly. My platoon leader was smiling and while Captain Weed wasn't, he didn't protest, nor did any of the commissioned officers. I never knew if the major I'd spoken with them before the meeting or not. Yes, sir.
I'll take it slow.
And you alluded to that earlier where the real the real life officers were the only ones that could be flight leads. Yeah. And now, like you were saying, you're so undermanned that they open it up and you and one other guy get to be the first warrant officer flight leads.
Yes. They change the policy because we're just we're so short of officers. We didn't have any experienced officers that were ready to take over flightline positions. So the company commander, he went to the brigade commander and said, hey, we got to start letting the experience warrants. You know, he said, I got I got two warrants that are that are over over twelve months in the unit. And these guys know what they're doing. You got to you got to open the policy up in the brigade commander.
Colonel Szewczyk, really a good guy. He absolutely opened it up.
So you said you were trained in some of the crew chiefs to become pilots and any of them ever make that transition while you're in Vietnam? Oh, yeah.
They could they could they could we train them sufficiently to land the aircraft, not hover a running landing. But we always felt that, you know, if somebody got shot, if both pilots got wounded, something's going to bring this bird back. So we would train the crew chiefs to do running landings. My crew chief was pretty darn good at it. And one crew chief, I think it was Grossman, uh, he came back and went to flight school and graduate in flight school and came back to him as a pilot de.
Here we go, another mission and look, I'm covering a tiny percentage of this book and just trying to figure out which one of these freaking crazy missions to to highlight. I just it's like it's like a roll of the dice to pick one. They're all they're all nuts. Here's one at minus one. The door gunners opened fire, concentrating on the tree line. As we touched down, the gun started off the aircraft. That was when a sledgehammer hit the side of the aircraft one, two times.
And then I lost count. The engine started winding down the rotor. RPM's started dropping as the engine RPM went to zero. We're taking fire, screamed Pieter's. It was on his side of the aircraft and it was concentrated on our engine. His gun was ripping through ammunition. Get out, I yelled and we began on. Asking the aircraft to talk to is leading the rest of the flight out. We were now on the ground with the grunts.
Peters was on his sixty machine gun and I told him to get down. No need for him to sit in the gunner's position and be a target. To his credit, he did and took his gun with him, dragging ammo as well. Specialist Lovelace was doing the same. The Cobras were coming in around for a second pass and using the remaining rockets and forty millimeter ammo that they had. Rattler six was on the ground next to me and began calling for artillery support as the second flight crew flight came into view, the artillery silence and the anti-aircraft gun that had worked us over, as well as the small arms fire that was coming from the trees.
We remained in the Elzy until the third lift and jumped on an aircraft to get out. Already, the battalion commander had notified Brigade that an aircraft was down in the Elzie. A recovery team was getting ready to come and get the aircraft and fly it, fly it back under forty seven. A new engine would be installed that night and that aircraft will be flying in the morning, hopefully flying back. Lovelace turned to me, Damn, Mr. Khoury, you're psychic with your feelings.
And that's something I kind of skipped over. You have a whole a whole chapter that's called psychic. So you had some kind of whatever sixth sense about I.
I don't think things are going to go well.
I the first the first time I happened, I went back to the aircraft one day and just didn't have a good feeling.
Got got shot up bad that day, and it happened just a second time, third time I came out of the aircraft, I asked Lovelace, I said, how is the aircraft today? He goes, You got your feeling, don't you? And I kind of lied. And I said, Yeah, I just it's going to be OK, guys. I just got a strange feeling, that strange feeling hit me six times.
And it just I would go out to the aircraft and I would just have this feeling of dread for that day. And lo and behold, we'd get hit. And I just think I'm a believer in the supernatural. And my patron saint is Saint Padre PIO. And I just think Padre PIO was watching over me. He blessed me when I was a little kid. And I think he was just watching over me saying, hey, be careful.
So, OK, well, I was going to ask you, like, what? I appreciate you, Saint Paul, but just let me know that I'm going to get shot up. I did a little bit more than that.
Just let me know it's going to hit me.
Yeah, I that's so. So six times you had that feeling. Yeah.
And each time you had that feeling we got we got the living daylights shot out of us. Didn't lose anybody.
Do you ever have the feeling that it did and it didn't happen. Yeah. Yeah I see. I had a guy, I had a guy named Johnny and the great guy. But man, every time we rolled out he thought he was we were all going to die. Every time he goes, he smoked chain smoked.
He said, we go tonight.
Tonight, sir. I can feel it. There's one. You ready? You ready? Because it's coming every night. It didn't matter what we were doing. The logistics. Ronnie, he got a bad feeling about this one boss is coming like this. JoCo, you like where this is going. OK, so I had to take that in stride. I didn't have St.Paul, I had St. John's were all going to die. We had and you know what?
That guy went out on every single mission. And as a matter of fact, this is on my first deployment to Iraq. And our senior my senior enlisted adviser said, hey, man, you got to get, you know, get Johnny out of here, man, get them on the first. Because, you know, it takes takes a couple of weeks to get everyone flown home.
And I said I said he said, hey, you got to talk to Johnny, get him on that first boat out of here, man.
He's going to you know, he's he's he's losing it and he's not going to want to leave.
And he goes he goes, you need to you need to get him on a plane.
And I said, I'm not going to put him on a plane. He's not going to want to leave. And he goes, we'll just ask him. And I go, all right, fine, I'll ask him. So I go up the Johnny one day. And I said I said, Hey, Johnny, you know, the first first planes are heading home. You want to be you want to get your seat on that plane.
He goes, fuck you. I was like, Roger that. Just checking John off you all the last bird home, you know, like he was he was paranoid, but he was doing his job, didn't want to go home.
We had a we had a warrant officer that come into the unit and he flew made aircraft commander and never flew a combat mission. After that, as aircraft commander, he would he would take the aircraft out. And within 30 minutes, you know, he'd be coming back and complaining about something wrong with the aircraft. And if they made him an assistant ops officer and he served as assistant ops officer, but he never flew a combat mission against the bad feeling.
Yeah, he just I would say he had a yellow streak.
He didn't have a bad feeling. He had a yellow streak. But yeah, well, that was the difference.
Johnny had that bad feeling all the time, but no yellow streak there.
He was ready to rock and roll another one. On April 30th, Arvin forces, along with some U.S. forces, crossed Parrot's beak into Cambodia. The Arvin forces consisted of 12 infantry battalions and three Ranger battalions. The US elements consisted of a brigade from the Twenty Fifth Infantry Division. Tropic Lightning and two squadrons of armed cavalry Operation Rock Crusher was on tour here, this is the first major operation going into Cambodia because, of course, the SOGGE guys were going in there.
Oh, they were in there all the time. On May 1st, 1970, at zero seven 10 hours, company C, two hundred twenty seven H be inserted in Arvin Airborne Rifle Company to secure landing zone just across the border inside Cambodia once the landing zone was secured. Six hundred and one hundred one point five millimeter howitzers and three hundred and fifty five millimeter howitzers, which would support additional insertions throughout the area of operations were brought in by C forty seven helicopters.
Later that day, the 2nd Battalion 7th Cavalry was inserted into landing zone X-ray, marking the first American ground troops from the 1st Cavalry Division to enter Cambodia. Throughout the day, 1st Battalion 9th Cavalry flew reconnaissance missions while elements of the two twenty seventh and to twenty ninth helicopter assault helicopter battalions provided life support to Arvin Grunt's and the two twenty eighth assault support helicopter battalion provided forty seven heavy lift capability for the movement of artillery and other heavy equipment.
The invasion of Cambodia didn't didn't know what was coming. The night before I got called into the company commander's office, me and Reynolds and a couple platoon leaders, and he said they poured eight drinks, scotch. We're all sitting here looking at each other like, what the hell is this? And how many of there was you? There was about eight of us.
Make one poor guy and one guy that got it. I mean, it's officer platoon leader Flightline.
And he said, Gentlemen, I can't tell you where we're going, but we got a big lift tomorrow and the minutes. Officer, I've been real stingy about letting us take an aircraft.
And he turned to me and says, What's availability, Martin? I mean, as I've said, sir, we got twenty one out of twenty one. And he says, good. They turn to to me and he says, You're Chalke to tomorrow. If I go down you take the flight in. I'm thinking, what the hell, he turned to Reynolds and he says, if Corey goes down, you take the flight in. OK, sir, he says, now, I want you to get every one of your pilots and your crew chiefs up, and I want every aircraft pre-flight it tonight, I want maintenance to know right away if an aircraft's got a problem, but we're crankin.
Twenty one aircraft tomorrow morning. So the next morning we got up. All the birds cranked up. Colonel, are the boss, the CEO. He led the assault. We went up to a stage feel and we're sitting here with our twenty one aircraft. And here came Bravo Company where they're twenty one and Charlie Company that they're twenty one and then ten forty sevens. And we had all of the Lobos that was, that was 20 aircraft and we had 20 aircraft blue max.
And we're sitting there going what.
And hell we've never seen this many battalion commander shows up, he takes map board, he throws the canvas over the map board and says, gentlemen, we're invading Cambodia.
The crew chiefs, kerchiefs, Dawkins's all got up and left and went back and started cleaning guns and clean and ammo right away.
And we did we picked up an Arvin force and we flew treetop level. Tank commander was at three thousand feet and he was navigating, telling chalk one what is heading was, et cetera, and directing the artillery and the Cobras. And we flew at about, oh, maybe two hundred feet above the trees and punched across the border.
And we went across the border. There was a road parallel at the border. Look, now there's guy in India and they're khaki uniforms. As far as you could see down the road, both sides of the roads sling arms and there's just standing there kind of shocked that all these aircraft are passing over them. When it hit the landing zone, picked up, didn't take any fire going in. We thought, now this is great. Took a lot of fire coming back out across that road.
But that was the first day of the Cambodian invasion. We did three assaults that they put in Vietnamese soldiers in. So it was a big day. Then things got hot the next day. Next day, the NBA waiting for the helicopters. And we started taking a lot of hits the next days.
So it's it's kind of crazy. I always I always kind of joke about Hollywood. And in Hollywood, you know, they show, like, the platoon's about to go in and the commander shows up right. As the birds are and says, all right, gents, here's where you're going. And here's the mission. I was talking about how unrealistic that is, but that's what you guys did.
Well, yeah, kinda. In fact, I'm glad you brought that up, because I've got two screenwriters and a a producer right now, and the screenwriters are taking the three they're taking two books, the first two books, and they're writing the screenplay. And one of the things I've told him, I said, look, guys, I do not want this to be typical Hollywood. And they're good guys. A rich Graff who starred in Making the mob in New York, he played Lucky Luciano in that and a guy named Rocky Khaleq.
And Rocky owns GOCE Walker Productions. And then my producers, Amy Soto. And she's worked with John Malkovich, Mel Gibson, several of these guys. So there's a good crew. But I told them, I said, I do not want this to be a typical Hollywood movie. And I and I give them a list of movies to watch.
This is good ones and this is terrible.
I don't want these terrible ones. So we've had some lively discussions about what will be in this movie and not in this movie. So but yeah, Hollywood just makes it look kind of odd. But when you have an S.O.P, you can say, all right, this is what we're going to do and here's how we're going to do it.
And you don't take a lot of discussion with it. And and some of that works out pretty well. It worked out well for me for one exercise where I found out my Elzy, the up for reserve was sitting on my left and I grabbed the flight leaders, grabbed the cockpit commander, sat down, pulled a poncho over our heads, turned the flashlight on, said, OK, here's your new ELSS. Any questions? No, let's go. So you can do that stuff if you have a system and if you have a good working procedure.
But yeah, some of the stuff that Hollywood puts out is just full.
Here's one mayday, mayday, dragon breath two, three is bailing out and going down the vicinity and there's the grid coordinates.
You all are in the air. Watch the parachute go down. So there's a guy bailing out of of one of these. He's a foreigner observer. So what's he doing over the weekend? He wasn't.
Yeah, no. What was that? Twin tailed Cessna. They had a push pull. Yeah, yeah, I don't I don't I don't remember the nomenclature on it, but it was it wasn't the only 10, but he was in one of those when he went down.
So this guy punches out of his aircraft and you guys are on this operation looking, watching this parachute go down, watch track. And as it goes into the jungle, you're flying, you're looking for it. And here we go. As Captain Beauchamp slid the aircraft over the pilot, Sergeant West informed him, sir, the pilot appears to be out cold. He's just hanging there, hanging in the tree there. OK, we have to get him quick, quick, Captain Beauchamp said, surveying the ground for a place to land.
There wasn't one as the vegetation wasn't dense, but the trees were 30 feet high and close enough together that it didn't offer a clearing big enough to land in West had already climbed into the cabin area and was preparing a two hundred foot rappel rope that was maintained in the aircraft. Sir, I can get him.
And with that, he dropped the rope and was prepared, preparing to go down. OK, but and West was gone, he'd forgotten to put gloves on and his hands were paying for that mistake. How am I going to get him out? He said more to himself than any one particular. Jamison, you keep an eye on him and keep him covered.
Captain Beauchamp said to the door gunner, dropping the 70 feet or so W sprinted to the pilot, who is still unconscious and hanging in the tree. Only a few feet off the ground, small tufts of grass and dirt were being kicked up around W as small arms fire was directed in his direction. Damn parachute release won't release son of a bitch, damn it! Come on, w screamed, hoping the pilot would wake up and give him some assistance.
He did not got to get a knife. Pausing at a low crouch. W waited a moment before he sprinted back to the aircraft, which was still at a hover and gauging the NBA position as he ran w made a cutting motion, hoping the gunner or co-pilot would recognize the signal and drop a knife. They did picking up the knife. W didn't hesitate to sprint back to the hanging pilot, cut him free and throw him over his shoulder. Just then, an RPG round slammed into the tree.
The pilot had been hanging in with the pilot over his shoulder and a fireman carry position. W ran for the aircraft and the dangling rope grabbing the rope. He wrapped it around the pilot and himself and motion for the aircraft to take off. W didn't have time to tie a knot, but only had the rope wrapped around himself and the pilot because of his rope burned hands. W couldn't climb the rope, but prayed he could hold on long enough to get safely back to ground.
As the aircraft climbed out and built up some speed, small arms fire continued. Captain Beauchamp didn't fly, couldn't fly with any speed as the drag on west and the pilot would be too great and pull them off the rope. W was dangling about 70 feet below the aircraft, which was flying over the jungle at two to three hundred feet. Helicopter crews did not have parachutes. As W cleared the trees, Captain Beauchamp nosed the aircraft over and began picking up speed, all the while praying W didn't fall.
Everyone was well aware that if they had the an engine failure or any other emergency W in the pilot wouldn't survive. Arriving over a clearing captor, Beauchamp Captain Beauchamp lowered the aircraft to place W and the pilot on the ground and then the aircraft. This was an unsecured clearing, only about fifteen hundred metres from where they picked up the pilot detaching the rope W and Jamison quickly loaded the pilot into the aircraft and departed for Elzy Center, where the unconscious pilot was quickly transferred to a medevac aircraft that had been requested.
W resumed his duties as crew chief. W went on to receive he was put in for the Medal of Honor, it was downgraded to the Distinguished Service Cross and he spent 20 years in the Army, retired as a command sergeant major at Fort Eustis, Virginia.
Oh, yeah, that's that's a that's a that's a crazy story. And the crazy stories just kind of continue, they just kind of continue throughout this book, just incredible heroics.
On every page you end up getting commissioned, you end up getting commissioned. How do they commission you as an infantry officer while you're there? Does that is that orders that you get that you have to wait for?
No, no. I got commission while I was there as an infantry officer, battlefield commission based.
Totally surprised the living daylights out of me. Well, what had happened, I got I was getting calls that that morning I got a call. Somebody saying a Mr. Corey, I understand you're going to battalion. And so when you talk about I'm calling the battalion. Yeah. It's understand you're going to battalion. I'm thinking that's impossible. I extended to stay in the unit. Now, a little while later, my platoon leader, Beauchamp jumps up on my skids because I'm getting refueling, taps me on the show.
I he says and I hate to see leave now, send the good missions to us when you get up there and battalion staff, I'm thinking, oh, Cripe leaders saying this, this might be true throughout the day.
I keep getting radio calls. Hey, Dan, sorry to see you leave. I'm Ohama.
So that night I get to I get back in. I'm really dejected. I'm feeling down. I throw my gear in the room and go over the bar and get a beer.
Company commander walks in and he says, everybody get a beer. I need your attention.
So I'm thinking, oh, Cripe. So he gets in. He says, hey, I got good news and I got bad news. I said, the first good news, first bad news. He says, Corie, come up here. So I go up there and he says, y'all know, he's been with us now, what, six months down? I said, Yeah, it's been about that, sir. And he says, you know, everybody's flown with him.
You've done a great job, Hamajima, but it's time for you to leave. So we're going to miss you, Dan. But we know you'll go forth and do great things for us.
Graduation's. So I go back up, I get on my barstool, I'm sitting and he says now for the good news is we got a new new guy is arriving. He's got about sixteen hundred hours flying time and a lot of experience. And that's what we need, guys, in a lot of experience here in the unit. Let's welcome the new guy, Lieutenant Cory.
And I'm sitting here at the bar and I'm not facing him facing the barmaid, I'm calling Lieutenant Chory, a dude's got the same last name as me and wonder what the he's from. I turned around and everybody's looking at me, and the old man looks at me, says, come up here, Lieutenant Corie. And so I thought. Wait a minute, you're talking about me, so I get up, walk up there and he congratulated me and somebody had put me in for a direct commission, the first lieutenant, so I was the first lieutenant in the infantry.
Now, is there no such thing as how come you're not a first lieutenant pilot? Is that is that not a thing? We'll see.
At that time, we didn't have an aviation branch. The army had they had all the other branches, but we didn't have an aviation branch.
And there were some politics involved with that with the Air Force. And they did not form the aviation branch in the army until about nineteen eighty five. And at that time, you had a choice. If you were an infantry officer, if you were another branch, you could decide you're going to go to the aviation branch or retain the branch that you were in. And I retained the infantry branch because I lost the the Vietnam I left I just before that.
So I would have been able to fly anyway. So I just stayed in the infantry.
So back to the book a little bit. I mean, so you get this commission, you're you're still conducting all kinds of missions. I'm jumping through all kinds of missions. You're starting to get short, meaning you're close to heading home.
Yeah, I'm picking it up here. I was in the chalk two position and it just cleared the trees and was really paying no attention to Chalk three who attempted to fly between two trees and caught a rotor blades on one. Yeah, to everyone's horror, the aircraft slowly road rolled to the right where the damage rotor blade made contact with the ground. When it did, the rotor blades began to disintegrate with pieces flying everywhere. Soldiers in the back began falling out of the aircraft and they were fortunate and they were the fortunate ones.
As the aircraft was now descending toward the ground, as the right side impacted, the transmission was ripped from its mounts and tore through the cargo compartment. As the aircraft came to a stop, the engine was still running now at ever increasing RPM as there was no rotor to turn or transmission connected fuel began to spill across the engine. At this time, the aircraft aircraft were not equipped with self fuel cells that would prevent a major fire. The aircraft began to burn and burn rapidly as Bill had been waiting for Chalke three and four to take off.
He was only he was only light on his skids when the accident happened, his crew chief, door door gunner and Captain Head immediately jumped out and ran to pull people out of the aircraft. Soldiers on the ground also moved forward to assist lightning, and that was a call sign. One of the guys was attempting to climb out, but was dazed and having difficulty moving quickly to assist lightning. Captain had was having difficulty as well as the fire was now in the cockpit and spreading rapidly.
The co-pilot was consumed in the flames, as was the crew chief. The gunner could not be seen as he was under the aircraft, having occupied the right side of the aircraft that day. Finally, lightning was extracted from the wreckage and fire.
Yeah, yeah. That's the story that you told earlier.
Yeah, they are lightning. That was his name is John Copenhaver, a great guy.
And his nickname was Lightning because John just always kind of walk kind of slow time to talk to little on the slow side.
But we all loved him dearly. And he was he was really a great platoon leader as well. And but, yeah, they hit this tree. And I was always worried about John and this this particular right seat pilot flying together. There had been an incident the month before with them flying together and they lay down some stumps and.
There is just something about this right seat pilot that the day I met him, I looked at him and said, this kid's not going to make it. There was nothing about him. Tell me, you know, he wasn't competent. He was he was a halfway decent pilot. He was a nice guy. But there was just something about it. He told me he going to make it. And so they had that first accident. Him and John and I was kind of concerned about them flying together again.
But I didn't make flight assignments, so there's nothing I could do about it. And then they had this happen and hit the tree and we got John out. We didn't get anybody else out. And John spent six, six weeks in a coma and but he's doing quite well today. Lives and lives in Maryland, Rockport, Maryland, I think it is. But he's doing well, so.
You say no one was in good spirits that evening, everyone in both the officer's club and enlisted man's club was in a sober mood. It hurt even more when we were informed that the division commanders aircraft was missing and presumed crash.
My good friend Bill, did you say Michael?
Michael, Michael was the pilot. The division commander was Major General Casey, a very much like division commander. Very good guy, Casey.
Casey was a super he had been the division assistant division commander and then moved up, took over as division commander and division commander very long. But he was a guy that was always out there with us. You'd be in an Elzy or you get back to a refuel point and there Casey being he'd be talking to you like, OK, how to go. You know what problems you got as the aircraft running maintenance work on. OK, he was concerned.
He was he was what everybody considered a good leader. And we were all very much down. We found out they crashed into a mountain top in bad weather. Then this happens, Lieutenant Corey, sir, you got your orders, you're going home, you're to report to two Division RIR no later than tomorrow. We have a bird waiting for you at 14 today to take you to Benowa. What what are you talking about, sir? You are to report to Division Rehr Casualty Assistance Office.
You better get packing fast. It's suddenly dawned on me Bill's parents had requested that I bring Bill's remains home.
Yeah, I was close with his family. I stayed there before I went to Vietnam and then when I came home on leave and before I went back again, I stayed with my mom and dad. Great, great people up there. They lived in Monroe, Washington, outside of Snohomish. He had a little brother that had just gotten into the Air Force Academy. Bill is really proud of Norm. And this happened. And they they had me be the escort officer to bring Bill home.
You say arriving at the funeral home, this is after you get back, arriving at the funeral home, I made sure Bill was settled in for the night. And then I was taken to Bill's parents house in Monroe, Washington. Mom and Pop wanted me to stay with them as they considered me family to other couples were there with mom and Pop. When I arrived, after putting my bags away in the upstairs bedroom, I came into the dining room where they were all seated.
Dan, what are you drinking? Pop asked. I wasn't much of a drinker except beer, but took a scotch on the rocks. When I sat down, Mom placed her hand on mine and asked what happened. He was a VIP pilot. She was a tough woman. But I could see from the puffy eyes that she had been crying. I tried to explain as calmly, in as much detail as I could what had happened. Bad weather, bad maps.
But I didn't have the heart to say that the general probably find the aircraft. Generals could fly, but not in weather. And on top of that bill was an instrument rated either, but could handle the aircraft and weather conditions. Then the hard part came bills in the casket, but I advise that it be a closed casket casket ceremony, I said before taking a sip of Scotch. Why is that? Asked Pop. Well, there was an explosion and fire.
His body is in a plastic bag under a glass case on the glass case is his uniform. With all his decorations, the glass case is held down by 300 screws. Opening the lid is easy, but not the glass case.
The rest of the evening was spent telling good stories of Bill from flight school and our one mission in Vietnam together between drinks A.D. we got through the night. The day of the funeral came, and Bill's sister Judy arrived early with her husband and children to cook breakfast, the ride to church was quiet and we all sat together in the front of the church. It was packed as Marilyn Monroe was a small town and everyone knew the Michael. The preacher stood and gave the eulogy, praising the work bill had done in the community and for the nation.
He said that Bill was not afraid of death, but loved life, few helicopter crews in Vietnam were afraid of death. It was part of the job, but they all loved life. They were some of this nation's finest. When the preacher finished, six army pallbearers came forward, hoisted Bill's casket and solemnly moved outside to the hearse.
At the gravesite, I lowered my salute and accepted the flag from the commander of the burial detail, executing a smart about face, I walked over to mom thinking that this was one strong woman as I saw no tears. Standing in front of her, I knelt and said, on behalf of a grateful nation, I present this flag. That was what I had been instructed to say, but in my heart, I had my doubts about this being a grateful nation.
Standing slowly. I came to attention and again raised a slow salute. In the distance, the command for the firing squad could be heard and three volleys of seven rounds each caused many to jump as the 21 gun salute was fired.
On the last volley of the three, the distant sound of taps was heard. No one held back tears at this point. I slowly lowered my salute, turned and walked to the side, my officials duties concluded. As many started to leave, I came back, put my arms around mom. And wept just like every other human there. And I weep to this day. Yeah, that was that was kind of a hard, hard period for me going through the the funeral with them.
I picked Norm up at the airport from the Air Force Academy. They gave him leave emergency leave and he was home for that. And and he struggled his first year through that academy because of this. But he got through just fine. He became a C one pilot. Then he went to work for the airlines and he's retired from that now, so he's doing well. We stay in touch and mom and Pop, they've passed away at this point.
But it was a great guy. We got a chance to fly together one time, had had a kick kick day that day, picked him up. He never flown a combat mission, you know, flying VIPs around. That's all he ever did. So I picked him up, went out to a fire and they had a battalion commander out there. He was crazy as hell, had a big red bow on the back of his helmet. And I never asked him why that was there.
But we get there and he says, hey, yeah, how do you feel?
How do you feel about dropping bombs? I said of really not quick to drop bombs because you're a quick drop these bombs, he said. How do you feel? I said, Well, I will do it. So we get out to the aircraft. They got this box that's on the one end of it sitting on the floor and the other ends up on stands.
And in this box he's got about six eighty one millimeter mortar rounds with aerial bomb fuses in the nose tape tied around the tails.
And so what we did is we flew along two thousand feet and we went over these four crossing points on the river. And as the as the the crossing point came up through the pedals, I would say, Mark, Mark, Mark. And they'd open the door on that box and these mortar rounds would fall out at two thousand feet.
And it was just like a bombing run. And we did this about four or five times that day. Bill thought, you guys are crazy. This is great stuff. And then we did a long mission that he'd never done before. He'd never been down and out.
How accurate were the. Oh, that was darn accurate. It was really it was really pretty darn good. Accuracy, surprise, 11 days. But the commander communications, I don't have any mortars in this range, but I want the NBA to think that we've got guys pretty close to them.
So that's the reason we were doing that. And we did we did one combat assault. And Bill just he was excited when the day was over, flew about 10 hours that day. But he really enjoyed that day. And then it was it wasn't two months later that that he crashed up there. So.
So now you're home from Vietnam. Yeah. And you're you're now going to become an infantry officer. You talked about your retina. When did that happen?
That happened in 83. OK, so you still could fly, but you still but you have to become an infantry officer. Is that how it works?
Yeah. Yeah, I was an infantry officer, so I went I got home and went to Fort Benning and after Officer Basic Course went to Fort Lewis, Washington, took command of a infantry company up there. And then we formed the 9th Infantry Division up that had been stood down in Vietnam. But they stood back up. I was there. So I was there as the aviation officer for the 1st Brigade. So I was back to flying again. Then I went to Fort Benning for the advanced course, then went to Alaska.
Are they are they taking you with your combat experience and thrown you in sort of a leadership position in these.
Oh, yeah, company commanders. I got to Alaska and they made me the operations officer for the aircraft squadron. So I was up there for that for a year. And then on a Friday night, I got a phone call saying, you need to report to Anchorage on Monday morning. We just relieved the company commander of the airborne company. You're going to take command of the airborne company.
Why do you get relieved?
I didn't ask that question to ask. So you roll in and take.
So now your company commander, company commander of one of the airborne companies in Alaska, how do you like grunt work? Oh, I loved it. I loved grunt work. I enjoyed flying. But I honestly one day was thinking when I was flying, you know, I'm I'm really a glorified Greyhound bus driver.
And I saw all the things that was to do in the Army. And I wanted to do other things besides fly that helicopter.
So when they said you're going to be an infantry officer, I had no complaints about that.
And I love grunt work commanding that airborne company in Alaska.
People go, well, it's thirty below zero. You got to jump out of an airplane. Let's jump. So I did that and then.
So what year is it now.
That was, that was seventy eight. I was commanding the airborne company. Seventy nine. They made me the operations officer for the infantry battalion. How was, how was the post Vietnam years in the army.
Terrible. Absolutely terrible. We didn't have any, any ammunition to train with the soldiers. They would charge up a hill in a training exercise and they go bang bang bang 13 cents bang bang bang. Thirteen says because that was the cost of training rounds, 13 cents around. But we didn't even have training rounds. It was really pretty bad in the Army. We went through a period from 70 to 75 when we were rifting captains.
And that just kill the morale in the captain's ranks. The I was in the advanced course in seventy three there at Fort Benning, we had ten two hundred man classrooms on one side of the building, ten, two hundred and ten classrooms on the other side of the building, all full, all of them infantry captains back from Vietnam. And on one day they walked in and from being a 200 man class, every one of those rooms went down to be in one hundred and forty man class.
Those captains were pulled out. They told you you have 90 days to get out. Or you can revert to being a sergeant, one of the other. Wow. So and they did that for four years. So that really ruined the morale in the captain's ranks. So, no, it was not the early years after Vietnam. We're not not good years in the Army.
One more question about Vietnam. This is a question I bring up and you already talked about it, but you said most of the guys that you had, most of the crew chiefs, most of the most of the support people that weren't flying, they were people that had volunteered. Was it was it if you're going to be could you be a just assigned a dog owner or was those all those people volunteers?
Dog owners were volunteers.
May they have been drafted and then they volunteered for.
That's what a lot of them where they were drafted into the infantry. They did a tour in the infantry and then they volunteered to be a door gunner on it.
So could you tell the difference between someone that was a draftee and someone that was a lifer?
No, you really could. There was at the guys that were drafted, you know, people say, oh, they had bad attitudes. I never saw it. They all had a good attitude. They were all in this together.
Now, what did happen? Guys that were drafted and they came back from Nam, if they still had a year left, they would send them to Germany. And there's where the problems were, all that in Germany, they had big time morale problems there. What are you going to do? Send me back to Vietnam, vet my dog tags? It got to the point in Germany in the early 70s where the duty officers were armed with forty fives.
Yeah, they had one incident of their word. Duty officer was stuffed in a wall locker, thrown out a second story window. Yeah, the morale in Germany in the early seventies was not good at all, but in Vietnam you very seldom saw a problem.
I have one problem once in the aircraft, Gerney six just refused to go to the field.
Last I saw of him, the MP Saddam, and they were driving away with him, but that was it.
So now now we're in in the 70s. Bring him back. Bring us back to time. It's just morale is horrible.
It's tough. It's tough, especially in the officers corps, because because of all the rifts going on, guy doesn't always have a job next month or not.
What are they basing it on? How do you know if you're going to get ripped or not? You don't. It's not performance. It's just numbers.
It's I would like to think it was based upon your efficiency reports, but we had a guy in my class had a distinguished service cross. They reported him.
What? Yeah. Yeah.
Well, all of us. All of us said the same thing. How the hell did he get reacted? I mean, he's got the Distinguished Service Cross. This is in seventy three and he got lifted.
One of the guys that I work with in seventy five Charlie had, he had Silver Stars, a couple of Silver Stars, a Purple Heart, couple of Distinguished Flying Cross got rifting. He's now he got out and he became the I think the eastern manager for Mitchell Entires.
But it you didn't know it was supposed to be based on Fisher's reports. And I think at some point in time they just said all these guys have got great efficiency reports. We just got to have the numbers now. And if you are a reserve officer, up until seventy five, you were definitely in the hunt to get recruited. Regular army officers didn't face that. The next reffed. Seventy six regular army officers were in that boat, too. So, yeah, it's just it got bad.
So you're just keeping your fingers crossed basically. Yep.
Yep. I hope to God the army never has to go through that again. Do you know do you know off the top of your head how much smaller the army got from nineteen seventy to nineteen seventy eight.
No I don't, I don't. There's just a massive downsizing. Massive downsizing.
I can tell you this today you could take all the eleven Bravo infantrymen in the army and put them in RFQ Stadium and you'd still have empty seats. So the army's not nearly as big as it used to be. Not even close, not even close. That's crazy. Today, we rely a lot on the National Guard and the Army Reserve, and they've really stepped up. They stepped up in Desert Storm and a lot of the animosity that existed in the 70s between the active Army and the Army Guard and the Army Reserves, a lot of that disappeared, thank God, during Desert Storm.
Well, I worked with the National Guard all the time in in Iraq, and they were freaking awesome. Yeah, they were outstanding, outstanding professionals.
Yep. They've stepped up and done a great job. I was the aviation advisor for Maryland for two years and we had an aviation maintenance company that was fantastic. We took them down to Bragg every year. And Fort Bragg always wanted these guys come down to work on the aircraft form. They're just really super.
So, so, so this time. So you're continuing kind of up through the ranks. You become you do your company commander tours.
What comes after that company commander then? I was an instructor at the Army Commanding General Staff College. I was a tactics instructor. And then I got tagged, kicking and screaming to go to Germany as an exchange officer in the German army for two years, teaching tactics and interoperability issues with German forces then came back, went to Fort Campbell and fact we got a phone call in the middle of the night and a guy called me and he said, This is the personnel officer for the 1st Airborne Division.
How quick can you get here? And I said, Sir, I could be there in five days. He said, start packing stuff. You'll be here in five days. I turn around on my wife and said to start getting stuff off the walls were being transferred back to the States in five days. She started to laugh at me. Twenty minutes later, the phone rang. It was my boss, he says. You are relieved from that assignment.
Get the Fort Campbell as fast as you can. What was that all about?
There was something coming down and they needed me to be there to be the brigade executive officer for the for the 2nd Brigade.
Did you know someone there was one of your friends or something? I didn't know anybody. Just just random. Just random branch branch pulled my name out of the hat and said, get the Fort Campbell.
And so what was your role then?
I was the executive officer for the Brigade, 2nd Brigade. OK, and then how was that for two years? And then I went over to command of 3rd Battalion, three to 7th Infantry for two years and had that during Desert Storm. So tell us about Desert Storm. It got boring to you that you're sitting out there in the desert. You know, I had the task force at West Point training the cadets for the summer, and my XO was sitting there reading The Sun newspaper.
He says, hey, you know, just what the heck is going on with Iraq and Kuwait? So we read that. And I said, you know, Billy, if they go into Kuwait, we're going to go to war. And I think it was two weeks later, it was in the Wall Street. It was in The New York Times. And two weeks later, we got the call and I turned to Billy. I said, let's get out of here.
So right away, we got the West Point staff. We planned out what we had to get done that week and to get out of there. So when we got the call on a Friday night to get out of West Point, we were gone the next morning and got back to Campbell, had three weeks back at Campbell before we'd shipped out to to Iraq or out to Saudi Arabia.
Well, if if Saddam had attacked, we in the second would have been speed bumps.
And thank God he didn't attack. But we went up and sat about 60 miles from the border and we had a defensive position set up there. And that's what we said from August to February, January to January. Oh, good times.
Oh, yes. Sitting out there in the middle of the desert. At least you're there in time for summer.
Yeah. Yeah, in August. Well, it made us appreciate when when when February. January rolled or you were now freezing. You know, you're freezing at night.
So, yeah, we sat up there and just ran tactical exercises and like we would back in the States and it was it was it was different because we'd always trained in force and woods and stuff like that. But we got up there, we said, all right, we're in a new environment.
Let's learn how to do this new environment. So we spent a lot of time learning desert techniques, studying up on what the Desert Rats had done in World War Two, looking at some stuff that we've received from this, I guess, about desert operations and just started practicing that stuff. And the kids, the kids, the great soldiers did fantastic.
And then the war kicks off. And you did I get that right. When I opened up, there was the largest airborne assault ever. It was the largest air er mobile er mobile assault. Sorry. Yeah. Air assault ever. And for people that don't know air assault is with helicopters. Airborne is with parachutes. Yeah. So it is the largest.
Er so what the hell did that look like.
Oh it was, you know I talked about in the book about we had 60 Hughie's and 10 schnooks and all those cobras.
Well this made that look small because these were all Black Hawks and Black Hawks.
You have any idea how many. I think let's see, we probably had close to 80 Black Hawks and 80 Black Hawks all taking off at the same time. And we took off from several different locations and then joined up in the air and flew in for this thing.
And I am sure that the Iraqis that we flew over just kind of oops, oops, because we got we got in there and there was there are four or five positions that that were set up that that we went into right away and took over. And what we did is we set up a big perimeter out there.
So we did. You guys flew into Iraq. Oh, yeah. Yeah. And then you hit the ground and we're your your mission tasking was to secure some positions where our mission tasking was to secure this big area that right away they started flying in fuel blipverts.
And we were securing, for lack of a better term, a giant gas station for the Cobras and the Apaches.
The Apaches were flying out of there, going after the Iraqi tanks and stuff. So we sat there for my battalion, sat there for two days doing that, and then we flew out and went with another brigade to another location and secured that for the gas station. I was in a state of shock that we got to that second location. We are engaging some Iraqis and my s three came up and said, sir, cease fire. I said, what are you talking about?
Cease fire? We're in the middle of contact, sir. Cease fire. It's word came down from brigade. We have to cease fire. I see you go back and call Brigade for clarification on that, I'm not cease fire and right now somebody's shooting at us. And he came back, he said cease fire. So we were shocked.
After four days, this thing's over with and all the troops said it was a cease fire because the war was over. Yeah, yeah. And all the troops said the same thing. We're going to be back here, sir. We're going to why are we doing we're going to be back here some day. We can't stop now. And we did that to take any casualties.
I had one soldier dislocated shoulder. That was it. We'll take it. Yeah. The fact that it was kind of kind of unique, because when I when I took command of the battalion, my training guidance, I gave it to the battalion and I said that in conclusion, we will go forth, we will win. We will win the last battle of the next war and we will win the entire war and we will bring everybody home. I didn't realize I was going to bring everybody home alive, but I was happy to do that.
So that worked out good. When you were when you were getting ready during that August to whenever the invasion kicked off, did you were you thinking it could be a major battle and major casualties? Because so I came in the Navy in nineteen ninety and I remember they were saying on the news there's going to be forty thousand casualties in the first 48 hours.
Yes. In fact our operational plans, my last objective was airport Baghdad. We planned it out that far as where we were going to go, and so when we got the word stop after four days, we're going, what in the world has gone on? I have heard because because right now I'll put a shameless plug in. I'm writing another three book series on Desert Storm and.
And I have found out in my research that one of the reasons that we stopped was because Turkey did not want us to overthrow Saddam because Saddam, they felt, was the only one to keep the Kurds in check. And Turkey said, don't go to Iraq. And then Schwarzkopf's guidance was kick him out of Kuwait. You didn't have any guidance supposedly to to go after him in Iraq. So that's one of the reasons we stopped. But, yeah, we thought we were going to go all the way to Baghdad.
Very disappointed that we didn't. Yeah, well, so what did you do after that? What was the next move? The next move was to out to an army headquarters that was was worth his headquarters in the army. And I did two years there after I got promoted. And then they said, sorry, the next time it's the Pentagon. And I said, I'll take the option.
Thank you very much. So I went ahead and retired ninety three.
And now you have you have two sons.
Yes. Two sons. Both boys. Yeah. Their sons. Their boys.
Like J.J. He joined the Marine Corps Reserves while I was in when I first got command of my battalion and I came home from a a field exercise that just kicked my butt and walked in the house and my lovely wife Mary standing there and got her arms crossed.
And she said, guess what your son did.
I'm thinking, my son, you know, as far as I know, it's our son. I know that. Jay, would you do. He goes, Semper Fi.
I want you join the Marine Corps. He said, Dad, Dad, I joined the Marine Corps Reserves. I just he says he was in college and he says, I'm just tired of going to school. I'm going to go in the reserves. I'll drop out of school one semester. I'll do my two weeks in the summer, one weekend each each each month. And and, you know, just wanted a break. So I said, OK, that sounds good.
Mary Stanton, and she goes, well, what if they have to go to war?
And I said, Mary, the Marine Corps Reserve hasn't gone to war since Korea and nothing's going to happen.
There you go. There you go. Them words, Thanksgiving Day.
I'm standing on the Iraqi the Iraqi border. My brigade commander flies in. He goes, hey, you call home lately? And I said, Yes, sir. There's a phone booth behind every sand dune. I don't know.
I haven't called home since we got here. It's well, you need to call home when we get you back to Eagle. And I said, what's happened is, is your son's unit got activated.
He's on his way. So three days, three days before the air war started, I got a chance to go down to where the Marines were at.
And I got to spend the day with him. And I'm sitting there as we're leaving and I'm looking at him.
God damn, he's just a little kid.
So I got back and I was talking to my brigade commander, Tom Hill, and he says, just look like a little kid. Tom reached over, tapped me on this. Every one of your troops is just one of those little kids like, damn right, I'm the oldest guy in that battalion. He's right. They're all a bunch of kids.
So but Jay came through fine and then came back, got a two year ROTC commission or ROTC scholarship, and that came in the army as an armor officer. And now he's in 06 at NATO headquarters in Brussels. Chris, he did the same thing, quit college, join the army. I got a phone call from a recruiter one night saying, hey, I got your son here.
We're going to sign him up for four years. And I said, no, you're not. You're going to sign him up for two.
So and Chris wound up back in my brigade, the first brigade of the first and the Scout Bitton got out, went to college, came back in on an ROTC commission infantry. And he just retired two years ago as lieutenant colonel. And he got he was in the infantry and then he got over into strategic intelligence. A good friend of ours, Lieutenant General Friederich, an SF guy, talk, Chris, going into straight intel. And Chris has done a lot of work in that that arena there with with you guys and some other people.
So he just retired a couple of years ago, back in the Pentagon, doing the same job, back in the same office. So he can't wait to get out of there and come down to Florida.
And what did you do after after you retired? Two days after I retired, I started as a real estate appraiser. Friend of ours had an appraisal company and found out I was retiring and said, once you come do this. So I went up there and saw what it was about and thought, yeah, I have to work for the government. Back in the town that we want to live in makes a decent wage. So why not? So I went back up there and spent two years as an apprentice doing that and then took my my exams, passed those and just kept doing real estate appraising for twenty years or so.
And then what at what point did you decide you're going to write the books.
We came down here in twenty or down here.
We came to Florida twenty sixteen. That's when I finally said OK, I'm fully retired, sailed my boat down from Tennessee, sailed it over and my wife had a problem come up. She couldn't get on the boat anymore. We had a thirty six foot sailboat. So I thought, OK, I'm gonna sell the sailboat. She can't get on it. We're not going to can't do cruising. I was doing boat deliveries from Panama and Mexico, but she never went on those so.
But anyway, so suddenly I didn't have anything to do and we went down to the. To the Dave, because see about this this Retin-A and we're talking to the guy and he said something about Vietnam and I broke down.
I mean, big time. And he said, have you ever been evaluated for PTSD? And I said, no, he's we're getting you evaluated. And they sent me over to the VA for an evaluation. I had always thought, I hate to say this, but I always thought PTSD was a bunch of bull. I thought it was just a sham. And I'm sitting there with him, my wife, and I'm crying. And they took me over there and I got valuated and they put me in a 16 week program with a psychiatrist.
And for about eight weeks, we spent one day a week crying and walking through this thing. So one of the things he suggested, he says, you know, why don't you write everything down that happened while you were in Vietnam?
So I said, all right. So I started writing the first book. And at first I started to write it as an autobiography.
And I thought, well, hell no, he's going to read this. So I make it a novel.
So I wrote it as a novel and went to a reunion in twenty nineteen of our our unit and the first time I'd ever been to one. So I took the book with me and presented it there and the guys loved it and they said, well what about, what about this or what about this. Why didn't you include this.
So I wrote the second book and did that and put that out there and it's had great reviews. And then guys started calling me, hey, you know, we were in Laos on seven one nine. The biggest battle at Army Aviation has ever been and wanted to write a book about that. So I wrote the second book are the third book and I've put that out.
And now they've come back and said, well, we love the third book, but we want more of the wife's side as to what wives are going through. When this battle is going on, they're hearing about it. So right now, I'm drafting out a fourth book that'll that'll be coming out sometime after I get this this series that I'm working on now about Desert Storm.
Anyone who is who got a guided you through the writing process, there's a guy named James Rosen and James Rootin a couple of books, a couple he's got a bunch out there. And he wrote one interview with a terrorist. He was an interrogator and he wrote that and he wrote a couple of books. My mommy has PTSD, my daddy has PTSD. And he wrote those. And I read one of his books. It's got a series called Rigged.
And I read that and I wrote him send him an email saying, hey, I really enjoyed reading your books. Well, come to find out, he lives around the corner from me. And he called me up and said, Let's go to Buffalo Wings. And we went to Buffalo Wings. And he has been kind of my mentor, guiding me through on how to write the process of how to get published. And we publish on Amazon, fix me up with a great editor.
She's really good. I drive her crazy. But so he he's been kind of guide me along. And then I got this while here about we need to make a movie and we're working right now on that with the with the two screenwriters and my my producer. Any any idea when that's going to come to fruition? Well, we're hoping to have the screenplay done by the end of the summer and the producers putting together the package that we're going to start taking to the studios.
I'm just hoping that I'll still be alive when we get it on the screen.
Now, it takes it's about a three to four year process. I'm finding that to get a movie made.
Yeah, no, I think that's a minimum and it can. The other weird thing about movies are you can you can sell a screenplay tomorrow for a millions of dollars and it can never get made. Yeah, you can just sit in someone someone buys it from from you and it just sits there and that's the way it is.
Sometimes I would rather have it made than make a million dollars. And I know people are going to go. Yeah, right. I think our story is important enough that it needs to get out there.
I've already talked to a couple of organizations what money we make on this. A lot of it is going to get donated back to the Army Aviation Association, the Wings of Liberty Museum at Fort Campbell, the American Huey Huey Huey, Chapter three sixty five.
I mean, these are outfits that have been helping me out and stuff like that. So that's our intent is to get a lot of this money donated back to those that helped us.
Well, that's that's awesome. Look, we've been going for over three hours right now. I kind of we should probably wrap this thing up for people to find you online.
I know you have you have Matt Jackson books, dot com. Is that the main place to to find you?
They can find us at Dot Matt Jackson books, dot com. We're on Facebook. Matt Jackson, we're on Facebook. Undaunted Valor. And very soon we are going to have a website for the movie Gout's Fact Sheet. Sent me an email yesterday and I got to see you on Saturday and we will have that coming out pretty soon. The books are all for sale on Amazon. That's who we work with for publishing stuff.
Yeah. And we'll have those linked up so people can just we have a thing on our website called Books from the podcast. We'll have all these on there so people can get in and get the books echo.
Yes. Do you have anything? I do. OK, so now now we get to the real part of the house, when he seemed off, a quiet went out, OK, what's going through his mind? OK, so when you started working with the the screenwriters. Right. And you were like, hey, these movies don't follow this, you know, B.S. but these movies, you sort of can the what were the movies that you kind of can like that had some integrity with their Hacksaw Ridge.
That's great. One of the best ones is Hamburger Hill. I thought that was that was a pretty good production that they need to focus on. Uh, one of the ones I said no to was what was the Clint Eastwood where he's a Marine.
Heartbreak, Heartbreak Ridge. No, no, no, no, no. Nineteen, seventeen, I thought was pretty good for those. Those are the three big ones that I focus these guys on looking at. What about Saving Private Ryan. Oh, Saving Private Ryan is definitely good, right? Yeah, that's that's a great one.
All right. What about Apocalypse Now? Absolutely not. What about Platoon? Because we had a platoon is a good one.
Oh, yeah, but it's a good one. Never seen platoon. You never have.
I tell you what, he was reprimanded, but you haven't seen Cobra, so I haven't seen Cauvery of course.
So yeah. When you guys watch Cobra then. Yeah.
You added to your platoon was one of the first good ones that came out, you know, Apocalypse Now came out and.
Yeah. Because that came out in seventy five.
Seventy five and it was such I don't want to say the word on the air but absolutely not.
I nearly threw up watching it back. I never watched the whole thing. I watch bits and pieces here and there and just that told me I didn't want to see this thing but the tune came out and it was pretty darn realistic. I love the part where in Hamburger Hill, where they make them brush their teeth as soon as they arrive, happened to us in Vietnam.
Since we got off the airplane, we had to brush our teeth.
So, you know, stuff like that was pretty realistic to what was going on for Apocalypse Now was blowing smoke.
Well, when the the joke that I forget who it was, they played a joke and you said, hey, don't salute me.
That was that was our operations officer when I got there. Yeah.
OK, so that's from a scene from Forrest Gump, by the way. I don't salute.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Except for he says it for real. Yes. He's not. Yeah. Yeah he's being serious.
Yeah. And Forrest Gump was made way after so that's interesting. Yeah. You know, I wonder if there's some sort of a through through line or something.
Well I don't know. I'll call Tom Hanks up and ask him. But Gary's we had Gary Sinise on the podcast. Yeah. It was pretty good briefing. I definitely said it kind of like there.
You can't you cannot not like a guy.
Huge supporter, huge supporter of the military and of America. Sir, you got anything else you want to add?
No, no. You guys, I hope I answered all your questions. Just getting warmed up.
I will tell you, of the three books people ask me, that's OK. You wrote three books. Which one's the best? In my opinion, lamps on seven one nine is the best people that have read that have called me up and they said, I'm crying, I've read this thing, it's intense.
And I will warn you right now, if you thought the combat scenes in the first one were intense, that one there is just unbelievable. It is absolutely unbelievable what those guys went through in flying that operation. I just can't say enough about the bravery, the determination, the dedication, the loyalty, the courage, you know, would be awesome.
As if if you've got any friends or, you know, anyone that was there and they want to come on here and talk about it and talk us through the book. That'll be awesome.
How many would you like to have at one time? Well, I'll have them all at some point. You know, you can if anyone wants to come on this. What? That's what this podcast is for.
I will. I will. I know I know the guy in particular that I will I will call him up and ask him if he'll come talk to you about it, because he was an integral part. He was part of the Comancheros and and they did a great job. Of course, every one of the units, the blue dolphins, the Robin Hoods that were like with us, one up there, they all just amazing what they did and how they did it.
And, you know, when you go into a battle and you lose in forty five days, six hundred aircraft, eleven hundred crew members and you still accomplish the mission, it's just unbelievable what they went through. But yeah, I will call one guy in particular and and see if he'll come out and sit down with you.
Open invite to anybody you send me. The chair is waiting for them. It'd be an honor to have him on. And it's, you know, you're talking about it's incredible what they did. But as far as I'm as far as I can tell, as far as I know, what you all did over there was incredible. And and. Well, thanks for joining us today. And more important, thanks for thanks for your incredible service, your incredible sacrifice.
And we won't forget.
We will not let it. We will we will not forget what you all did and we will not forget your brothers that did not come home.
Well, thank you very much for having me and for those thoughts. Thanks for joining us, sir. Thank you. And with that, Colonel Matt Jackson has left the building and we are here Echo Charles. Yes, sir.
Another guest, another another example of how much more we can do as human beings.
Yeah. Something to think it's something for us to think about, because we should want to do more right in our lives. We should want to which you want to get better and be better.
Check any suggestions on how we do that? Yeah, plenty.
But but the part where, you know, when he was talking about I forget the term when how they got a lower and they got a you know, when you go through the jungle with helicopter, I felt that part of it was making me kind of nervous, like, yeah.
Imagining there's not a lot of times when I read stuff and actually I didn't read those sections because it was a lot of dialogue and the dialogue would be like, pull left, pull the tail.
And, you know, just like this dialogue going back and forth, I don't I didn't think I could do the dialogue justice. Yeah.
So I just asked him to kind of describe what it was like, but yeah. Crazy, crazy stuff, the whole thing. Just the fact that those helicopters are basically like.
A nineteen sixty eight VW bug, like they got an engine, they got a steering wheel from, you know, there's not a lot of there's no computers in this.
Yeah. Just completely manually, manually maneuvered through space. And he made a good point.
Do that like you kind of don't think about compared when you compared it to airplanes where it's like Brown, the helicopter is all you, the airplane.
A lot of time you can sort of let it cruise, you know, where the helicopter is like, man, you can't wait to tell that to Dave Burke.
Good deal. You know exactly that either way. All right, cool.
Yes, we're all improving, trying to turn on the path. Yeah, I'm on the path.
I used to say maybe one way to try and improve is seen how quickly we could get through certain tasks. Yeah, like efficient. Yeah. That's getting more efficient as opposed to rushing it because we don't want to rush nothing. Or do we. I don't know. Am I wrong. Should I. Should we rush it.
I'm thinking we could probably move more, more quickly, more efficient efficiently. I get it.
I know you think that there's a bunch of people that are listening. They're not. They're not they're not listening. They shot it off.
They they heard Colonel Jackson left the building. Right. Oh, cool.
So let me get back 70 minutes of my time right now because I can just press stop on this podcast. All right. All right. OK, all right. OK, I got you.
I got you. Hey, look, we're all we're all in the path. We may need some help. How about that? We'll supplement our selves with supplementation from JoCo.
See that right there? That whole sentence did not need to exist.
It exists. And it has it has a massive value first. OK, I'm saying look.
Hey, look, if I'm about to give you some help, how should I declare to my when I should I should I declare that I am here to help if you need help, OK.
Or or could use help. I'm just saying you need to tell us what we need to know. OK, all right. I'm going to try. But you're over here, you know.
I know that's the thing. I bring this on myself. Yes. I should just be totally silent. Yeah, well, OK.
I don't I don't know about all that. OK, how can we help ourselves?
I go through supplementation. Jakov you you got problems with your joints or you don't want to ever worry about your joints anymore. Take supercool oil and joint warfare. Boom.
You want vitamin D three supplementation, which is good for all aspects of health if you care about that, which we do because we're on the path bome.
Choco's that that is. Well also you want some additional protein. We got milk and it tastes good now. But that. To put a banana in there, there's something also got discipline and discipline go, which are at its core. I like the fact that I tell you to hurry and I tell you that everybody already knows all this and you still tell this stuff to me like I'm hearing it for the first time.
Well, you're looking at me like hearing it for the first time. Yeah.
Some of us either didn't hear it or it's cool to get a reminder, OK, you assume saying yep, everyone's reminded good stuff. Yeah. Supplementation.
Look, get the discipline. Go. I was I was going to go into this earlier off air, but the so if you drink energy drinks.
Yeah. I don't care if you get the sugar free one, but it's like at a certain point, usually after the first one, if you tolerate, if you're even into it after the first one, you're like, Brad, I can't do these anymore, at least for a day. Your body knows and they it tells your mind this is not good.
That is the point right there. Yeah. Yeah. It's like your body knows. Yeah.
Your body knows there's something wrong with this one. JoCo discipling go it it your body still knows. Your body knows it's good. Yeah.
Your body says hey I could use a little bit more of that. So if you're listening to a four hour Vietnam pilot scenario, those things just keep rolling with it with a smile, I'll tell you that. Yeah. Yeah. Hey, if you want to get any of this stuff and you want to get it shipped to your house for free, throw to geography dot com, and then what you can do is subscribe.
If you subscribe you to come to your house for free. Anything that you want in this category of supplementation, you can also get the drinks at Walwa.
You can also get the whole line at vitamin shop Jakov.
You can get some also Orjan USA dot com. You can get the stuff there as well. Also jiujitsu stuff. When we're doing our jiujitsu we want some new stuff and just face it. We could with Colonel Jackson we could have gone down. He trained at Dakota Con Judo, we could have gone down that hill. That's a two hour, three hour podcast. Didn't even get there yet because when that guy was coming when when when Lt.
Digweed was coming at him. Right. That guy was about to get judo tossed right on his head.
So that's what I'm talking about, really.
So jujitsu. We're doing jujitsu. Sorry, but yeah. Or USA. I'm saying if you know, you want to get some new jujitsu stuff, boom, that's where you get it all made in America, by the way. I see it. I say, by the way, but it's a huge deal. Here's the thing, though.
If let's say you need stuff beyond just jujitsu stuff like you got your jujitsu stuff handled, you got the GI, you got the rash guard, you still might need to go to the grocery store. You can't wear the GI to the grocery store, which you can wear is American made jeans.
You know, not to mention you can make it as American made boots, Drew, getting older, you know, and I don't think a hundred percent work industrial like this that. But let's face it, there's some I know you don't like the word fashion, but there's some fashion in there. Leave it to Pete Roberts.
Some function there. OK, Pete Roberts bleeds over in some some scenarios, put it this way.
He added a significant amount of aesthetic value to both, by the way, jeans and boots.
I don't agree. You just can't see that kind of stuff. No, it's just functional. Yeah.
Like I said, you can't really see that kind of stuff, but nonetheless, it is there. So.
Yes. Or the USA. That's the spot to get these items. Also, Choco's, Dawesville, JoCo store, this is where you can get your T-shirts that say discipline equals freedom. Good deathcore. Take the high ground. Hardcore kando, hardcore rigondeaux. I like when somebody comes on to Twitter or the gram and says you should make a shirt that says back to the book or you should make a shirt that says this political freedom or you should make whatever.
And I go, yeah, it's there. Yeah, I'm not same.
We thought of every shirt by any stretch but there's a bunch of shirts there.
Speaking of thinking of every shirt.
So we've expanded into a subscription scenario and this is where we can experiment for lack of a better term with all other ideas for shirts, every idea pretty much.
What's this thing called the shirt locker. So that's a good name. What what did you originally call it? I forget that was a long time ago. I forget. Well, you can have that for, you know, in your mind. Like I said, it's a it's a good little deal.
Fun checked out again. Chuckles Dot.com. If you like something, you know, get something.
You can also subscribe to this podcast. There's not just this podcast. Also, there's JoCo unraveling.
Myself and Darryl Cooper of Marter made fame famous from made.
Yes, in my mind, yes. You can check out JoCo unraveling. We're talking about a bunch of different things, historical things, and how they tie in to what's going on right now. We got the Grounded podcast, got Warrior Kit Bond. Guys have new episodes up there. You can also check us out at the JoCo Underground dot com, Jon. Around outcome, this is look, it's a what they call it paywall, I always say firewall, you correct a paywall.
What's the difference? A firewall is a security thing, has nothing to do with paying anything.
So we have a thing that you can pay. It cost eight dollars and 18 cents a month. It's basically you're supporting this podcast. You're supporting all these podcasts that we're doing. And also we have a contingency plan in case we get. Removed for whatever reason or if we we hear that other platforms are injecting advertisements into our podcast, we don't like to I don't like that. I don't want to have Colonel Matt Jackson talking about flying a mission in Vietnam and have somebody edit in a freaking advertisement.
So we don't want that.
We don't want that.
So that's why we made JoCo underground dotcom. We also we also put a little additional podcast on there just to say thanks. So we appreciate if you're if you're helping us out there, you're you're helping us remain free to go to JoCo underground dot com I and help out there. We also have a YouTube channel, a YouTube channel, because Echo Charles is a YouTube.
Technically you're the YouTube technically.
So, you know, it's also YouTube. And he wants you to subscribe to his YouTube channel where he posts YouTube videos first.
OK, first off, the YouTube channel is called JoCo podcast and does have echo in there at all. Ever pretty much. Maybe in some of the titles.
Yes. What's the difference between a YouTube and somebody that's posting YouTube videos? Yes, well, I don't know. I guess if you go to super YouTube, you know, YouTube is that that's their primary occupation is to be on YouTube.
But then again, even that. Yeah, that that is it.
I think as far as I know, there's some really legit YouTube out there that make freakin awesome stuff and and post it. Yeah. There's also a lot of YouTube out there.
It's hard to throw in that same bucket with the awesome. Yeah. The awesomeness.
So I think you're more in the bucket of like, you know.
All right. What's the next. I'm not into anyway. All right. Cool, good. I mean you're you to read me too. But no, that's not our primary. So technically we're not YouTube YouTube channel.
And it is. I think it's legitimate. OK, so check that out if you want.
Also, Psychological Warfare is an album that JoCo made. We made of JoCo telling you how to get through moments of weakness. I was actually telling you.
Yeah, telling me now it's everybody now everybody that wants because we all have them from time to time something.
But yeah, you can get that anywhere where you where you get MP 3s. With the Amazon Google Play this week, also, you want a visual representation, you want things to hang on your wall basically. Yeah, go to go to flip side canvas dot com. My brother, Dakota Meyer, he's got a company made in America making cool stuff to hang on your wall, which is legit bunch of books. Got a bunch of books. We got the books that we talked about today.
The book we talked about today primarily was undaunted. Valor and Assault Helicopter Unit Vietnam. There's also volume to Medal of Honor and Volume three, which Matt Jackson, Colonel Jackson, said was the best of the three about, about Lance Lamson in seventy seven.
Eighteen largest air battle, final spin. I have a novel coming out myself. And it's a story. It's a book. It's a poem. It's a new form of writing. Am I allowed to do that, we don't know. Yeah, we I don't know if I'm allowed to do it, but I did it. It's a story. If you want to get final spin, if you want that first dish, boy, that first the dish is going to be loaded.
All right. Have you on the first dish ordered because guess what the publisher is thinking, the publishers like? Well, you know, JoCo, you you mostly write books about leadership. So, you know, what's this thing over here? They're not going to print enough. They're not going to print enough. And then it'll come out. You'll be mad because you've got the third edition.
Brutal shame. Just a shame. Leadership strategy and tactics, field manual. The the evaluation, the protocols, discipline issues.
Freedom Field Manual, where the Warrior Kid one, two, three and four making the dragons about face. This is getting to be a long list, is it in the the original books, extreme ownership and the dichotomy of leadership that I wrote with my brother, Leif Babin. Also, we have Echelon Front, which is our leadership consulting company. We saw problems through leadership correction front dotcom. If you want us to help inside your company, we have EFF online, which is online training for leadership.
You can get your whole organization into the game. Go to EFF online dotcom.
For that muster are leadership events we are executing. We didn't execute in twenty twenty. There was the virus and whatnot. We are about to execute one in twenty twenty. And guess what happened. I got the virus, I got it, I had I had Madrona, and so when I had this wrona, I couldn't go spread it to everybody. So we we didn't execute any in twenty twenty one. We are one hundred percent executing in twenty twenty one.
Orlando May twenty fifth and twenty six, Phoenix, Phoenix, August 17th and 18th and Las Vegas October, twenty eighth and twenty ninth go to extreme ownership dotcom. Everything that we've done has sold out. These are going to sell out to especially because we got a little less people for social distancing and whatnot. So less seats.
So they're going to sell out if you want to come. Go to extreme ownership dotcom ASAP. We have F battlefield, which is us for this particular one. The next one we've got up is us walking the battlefield at Gettysburg. This is a small number of people attending very small. It's like thirty five people.
So if you want to come, go to Ashland front dot com slash events, you can sign up for that or you can sign up for the we do combat missions, simulated combat missions to teach leadership. Awesome stuff. If you want to help service members active and retired, if you want to help their families, if you want to help Gold Star families, check out Mark Mom, Mom Mumbly.
She's got a charity organization. And if you want to donate or you want to get involved, go to America's Mighty Warriors dog.
And if you want any more, I mean, if you just feel like you need more of my protracted pontifications or you need more of EKOS confounding catechisms, you can find us on the website, on Twitter, on the gramme or on their Facebook EKOS Adequate Charles, non-magical willink.
And thanks once again to Colonel Matt Jackson for joining us and for writing these books.
But most important for his service to America, and we will not forget the fallen soldiers of the two hundred and twenty seventh assault helicopter battalion. Freedom is not free, and thanks to all the other men and women out there in uniform who are always on watch and ready to protect and defend our way of life, and that includes not only the military, but also police and law enforcement, firefighters, paramedics, EMTs, dispatchers, correctional officers, Border Patrol, Secret Service and all the other first responders.
Thank you for protecting and defending us as well.
And to everyone else, remember the price that was paid for our freedom. And in the book, Undaunted Valor, there's a part that I did not read today.
This is where Dan Corey and his team fly to an outstation to pick up some bodies of two soldiers that were killed in action and then they arrive on scene.
And the two fallen service men wrapped in ponchos are loaded onto the old huie war warbird. And Dan Corey whispers a prayer that he had written.
He says May they saw with the angels on Wings of Eagles, may they watch over those they loved and those who love them, may they rest in peace until we gather for the final formation.
Ahmed. And that's all I've got for tonight and until next time, this is Echo and JoCo. Out.