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Well-known member
Apr 21, 2005
Auburn, CA or Reno, NV
I never lost a door gunner, but I did carry out several infantry casualties
(From RV Discussion section, here).

Did you also fly medivacs?

Almost half the time we had a resupply helicopter come in, it would get shot at, when otherwise was peaceful. I have seen my share of door gunners shot, even killed, yet IIRC, they always wore a bullet proof vest. Perhaps that is why we assumed it was the most dangerous job there, because the choppers got shot at more than anything. We also lost our first six choppers in a row during the 1970 Cambodia incursion, no survivors from those six choppers. I cannot remember, but wouldn't that be ten troops in each, including the crew? Two gunners, two pilots, six grunts? Was our largest combat loss of the entire year. 36 grunts short, went into Cambodia anyway (next morning as it was already dark, when we got the news) to blow up what was left of the choppers and get what was left of the bodies on Medivacs. All the enemy soldiers left the area, as they knew we were coming. This time we were dumped off about two clicks away and humped to where the down choppers were.

Soon after that, we were declared "combat inefficient" or whatever that term was to mean our infantry company was too small to be there. Soon went to the base camp in An Khe from there to wait for more FNGs to arrive.

I was lucky enough to be on one of the last choppers into Cambodia or else I wouldn't be here to tell the story.

To this day, I have no clue what happened, because it was very obvious then the NVA (or perhaps VC) was waiting for these choppers to come in. Trenches all over, looked much like a VC basecamp with live chickens and vegetable gardens close by. Of course, we grunts are never told anything about how this could happen.

As I recall, the norm was to have gunships go in first, with infrared detection equipment. I have no idea if gunships were involved or not. Can you make any sense out of how such can happen? Perhaps a shortage of available gunships at the time? Did you ever fly gunships, such as the Cobras?

-Don- Reno, NV
Every pilot in Vietnam flew Medivac. Who ever was closest would turn and go to pick up our guys.

There were dedicated MediVac ships with markings and medics. however most medivacs were done quickly by a ship in the area

I flew one mission in the front seat of a Cobra. It is a very different aircraft than a Huey.

I was back in the world on a 30 day leave between my two tours when Cambodia happened.

I got back in time to be one of the last Hueys out of Cambodia at the end.

Usually a combat Assault was preceded by gunships and maybe even an airstrike by air force aircraft.

I help develop or at least test the concept of a "Smoke Ship" for use to hide landing Hueys.


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Every pilot in Vietnam flew Medivac.
OIC, I had no idea how that worked. FWIW, I never saw a medivac get shot at. Even when choppers just before and after would get shot at. Was it coincidence or did some NVA really go by the rules of war?

All the medivacs I can recall were clearly marked as such.

What years were you in Vietnam? My DEROS was 3, September 1970. But I was several days late, because the supply choppers that came to pick me up got shot at and left. At least they were shot at just before they landed on solid ground. I recall we were then very short on supplies and the choppers were getting shot at so much that one time they dumped our C-rats and supplies above the jungle from a ways away and we had to hump to get them before the NVA did (and we did). Have you ever done a resupply without landing? I only recall that one time, the end of my year in RVN.

When I finally was picked up, all was fine, not even a shot fired. I cannot remember if we first humped to a new location, but most likely we did and perhaps we were not yet noticed by any enemy troops.

First time I even heard of the smokeship.

But sometimes we did find use for smoke grenades.

Do you know if the smoke ships ever actually got used? I am not sure how well that would work when we normally set up on the top of a hill for the night.

-Don- Reno, NV
I was there from the 4th of July 1969 to the end of 1970.

I did two tours but got out early in my second tour.

Here is the story I posted about the smoke ships. It happened at the end of my time in vietnam and I do not know how often it was used,

Most old war stories get better every time you tell them, at least mine do.

I did two tours in Viet Nam and most of the time my room mate was Michael Phillips. Mike was from Billings, Montana. We took our two adjacent rooms and created the best Officer Quarters at Vinh Long. We had a double room with a Bar, Entertainment Center, desks, and even a slot machine that we sto.....rescued from Dong Tam when the 9th Infantry went home.

Here is a picture of Mike followed by our BOQ

Now I have mentioned Mike for a couple of reasons. For over 35 years I tried to find out what happened to Mike after Viet Nam. A few years ago as I was attending a reunion of the 7/1 Air Cav in Tampa I found out that Mike had contacted the organization and I got his phone number from the membership comittee. I called and found out that Mike lived just west of Houston. Mike has spent most of his career working for Phillips Oil Company. I made the trip to see him. We had a great time, swapped pictures from Viet Nam and told stories.

Oh yes, He also told me that after I left, some Captain kicked him out of the party hooch and took it over.

The following is a story that Mike swears is true, but I do not remember it.

We were both in the Headquarters Troop and we got all kinds of different missions and request from the Squadron Commander. Anything that was out of the ordinary was usually given to us to do. According to Mike we were asked to develop a "Smoke Ship" to be used to cover combat assaults by laying down a smoke screen to hide the slicks as they unloaded or loaded troops in an LZ (landing Zone).

Again according to Mike, we supervised the mounting of a tank under the center canvas seat, installed a pump, lines, and nozzles to spray hydraulic oil into the exhaust of the turbine engine.

Now this is the part that is absolutely Mike's recollection and not mine.

We fired up the Huey in a revetment (protected parking space) and got it warmed up. Mike turned to me and said "Where should we go to test this thing out?". Again according to him, I shrugged and said "Heck, lets just let her rip right here" and flipped the switch.

This is a revetment:

A Huge, billowing cloud of smoke engulfed us and started moving downwind enveloping the entire flight line. Surely I would have remembered that. I did leave Viet Nam on a flight a few days later, but I am sure that was purely coincidental.

Every fire truck on the base decended upon us to put out what they thought was a fire

The crew chiefs and door gunners from every ship that was down wind of us spent a week cleaning a film of oil off thier aircraft.

That is Mike's story and he is sticking to it.

Here is a shot of a smoke ship in action, you can see how effective it was.

I thought I would add a few comments about Mike Phillips. I might even send him this link.

Mike would never eat fruit cocktail. One day I asked him why. He said that when he was a kid, (like we were not still kids then), he had taken a big jar of marischeno cherries and drained the liquid. He then filled the jar with some clear vodka. He got sick as a dog from eating them and could not even look at cherries after that.

The most dangerous thing that Mike ever did in Viet Nam was the following. One day when he was off from flying, he went downtown off the base to Vihn Long. He bought a huge stuffed Cobra, the snake..not the gunship. He brought it back to the hooch and sat it in the middle of the main room facing the door. It sat up about 2 feet high and was in the striking position. We usually came in well after dark from flying. That night I opened the door. switched on the light and just about had a heart attack on the spot. Probably why I had my open heart surgery a few years back. Next time I see him I am gonna box his ears....

The last tale about him is that Mike was mentioned in the book that Col David C. Hackworth wrote. Both Mike and I used to fly him around on occasion. Well I take it that they both went down in a huey one day and Hackworth wanted to thank Mike by putting him in the book. It must have happened after I left because I do not remember it happening, course sometimes I do not remember a lot of things.
I was there from the 4th of July 1969 to the end of 1970.
We were there at the same time for many months, but we were far from each other. Vinh Long is near the Mekong Delta, I was never close to that area, I was mainly in the Central Highland Jungles between An Khe and Pho Cat, such as around the Pleiku area, way north of your area.

I never saw a live Cobra in Vietnam, but I knew they were there. But we did see a very large Reticulated Python cross right in front of the point squad, I was the one to tell our CC (Captain) what it was. It was probably large enough to eat one or two of us. The longest snake species in the world, and has been known to eat a few people for lunch.

-Don- Reno, NV
A few great books about the Vietnam conflict are "Dispatches" by Michael Herr and the definitive inside baseball chronicle of how the war was executed on the ground in SE. Asia and who was running it "A Bright Shining Lie" subtitled "John Paul Vann in Vietnam" by Neil Sheehan.
David Halberstam's "The Best and the Brightest" chronicles the MBA brain collective advising Johnson and who were really running the war.
"We Were Soldiers Once and Young" by Lt. Gen. Harold G. Moore and Joseph L. Galloway about the battle at IA Drang is excellent.
(From RV Discussion section, here).

I have seen my share of door gunners shot, even killed, yet IIRC, they always wore a bullet proof vest.

-Don- Reno, NV
There is no such thing as a "bulletproof" vest, only bullet "resistant". They are not designed to withstand the penetration of most rifle rounds.
There is no such thing as a "bulletproof" vest, only bullet "resistant". They are not designed to withstand the penetration of most rifle rounds.
Which most used hand weapons of modern war are a rifle of some sort... How many wounds were received in VN by pistol were there?.. A few cases, I'm sure.. Maybe tunnel rats...
We, "The pilots", had ceramic "Chicken Plates" that we only used when landing is a hot LZ. We also had side panels that we could slide forward next to our seats, and ballistic helmets.

Unfortunately that did not help the door gunners.

I remember the name Seajay from some posts back and forth on the war stories thread.

By the way, I looked again at the second picture and wanted to mention that they were taking a nap, not shot.


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I thought I would lighten up this thread.

We would land at all kind of out of the way places and usually we could count on the kids showing up.

These kids are probably all grandparents by now.


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There is no such thing as a "bulletproof" vest, only bullet "resistant". They are not designed to withstand the penetration of most rifle rounds.
True. I was using the common name, not what it really can do. But often in Vietnam choppers are shot at from a click or two away where such a vest will help a lot even with a direct AK47 rifle round (7.62×39mm) hit.

For those that don't know what a "click" is it means one KM. I think the term came from some type of heavy artillery that clicked as it was moved up and down for a KM of distance. Not sure, as I had nothing to do with heavy artillery other than the way it shook me off the ground while I was trying to sleep near some firebases.

-Don- Reno, NV
Those were not the kids to worry about.

After the commies took over the south, the 100,000 Amerasian kids who were born live from when the Americans screwed the Vietnam prostitutes were not treated well at all.

One of the many countless evils of the human heterosexual orientation. . .:(

-Don- Reno, NV
None of that would have been necessary had the allies not taken pity on the French after WWII and handed Indochina back over to them as if it were their property. DeGaulle was an arrogant jackwagon who couldn't have commanded a troop of boyscouts. The French treated the Americans like second class citizens at Noumea ( Naval S. Pacific Theater HQ) forcing them to live aboard ship in the harbor until Halsey took an armed detail ashore and read them the riot act. If a German drives across the border in Alsace the French surrender.
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I can safely say none of those 100,000 were mine.. Though being of the heterosexual persuasion and 20 yrs old, I had a serious relationship at home that I wasn’t going to mess up.. Married her and still happy after all these years .
Those were not the kids to worry about.

After the commies took over the south, the 100,000 Amerasian kids who were born live from when the Americans screwed the Vietnam prostitutes were not treated well at all.

One of the many countless evils of the human heterosexual orientation. . .:(

-Don- Reno, NV
If you had the clap they made you wear dress blues with a red stripe down each leg.
None of that would have been necessary
The entire war wasn't necessary. The entire mess was supposed to be fixed with an all-Vietnam election in 1958 as mandated by the Genova Convention in 1956.

When the USA discovered the north would even win an honest election, we decided war was a better idea. But even that didn't work.

Ho Chin Minh told his troops:

"We do NOT have to win any military victories--we only have to fight the Americans until they tire and leave".

From a military standpoint, the USA won in Vietnam by a landslide. Less than 60,000 Americans killed, more than a million VC & NVA KIAs. Way too many to get an accurate count. We never lost even one major battle in Vietnam--not even one.

-Don- Reno, NV

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