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A TINS!* of a different color

And this one is Cav red 'n' white, rather than generic aviation blue.



It's been a while since I've popped a TINS! here, so I guess I owe you kids one.

And -- providentially enough -- one of my Viet Vet aviator buds just narrated one worth a wider audience.

Spoiler alert: He was still strapped into the cockpit of that inferno when the pic was taken. That said, I'll let him take it from here...


Quick and dirty, of the picture, is that it happened in the spring of '70 just outside of LZ North English. Al Bowker, my normal back-seater, and I had been working this area on both sides of the mountains/hills separating the Ahn Lo valley and the costal plain. Al had worked up a pretty good picture of things through his trail reading and our skirmishes over a period of days. Al and I knew something BIG was brewing. However, we just couldn’t quite pin it down or find the main body of bad guys.

Anyway, Al wasn’t with me that day and Rocky was in my back seat [my note: the aircraft was an OH-6A]. We were sliding down the hill looking in and about the jumble of boulders. Suddenly, before we could even say "AWE S---," an NVA Regular stepped out of a cave and emptied a 30 round clip, from about fifteen feet, into the bird. Miraculously none of us were hit. However, the bird literally came apart in mid air. I swear to this day that I saw a rotor blade come off, Rocky later told me that the main transmission was knocked off it’s mounts, the engine was gone, I never got a radio call out as they were also destroyed. We crashed straight down onto the rocks. I was knocked out. When I came to, I was alone in a broken bird beginning to burn. Still strapped into my seat, the bird/ammo/fuel blew up. For reasons well beyond my understanding, I was unhurt except for some minor Willie Pete burns on my face.

While this was going on, Rocky got into a pistol shoot out with another NVA regular and killed him.

Eventually, we gathered together, Rocky, myself, and a new observer on his first mission. Rocky and the other observer thought I was dead. However, we managed to stumble together and went to ground. Finding a deep crevasse in the huge rocks with a fair amount of brush for cover, we huddled together and took stock of the situation. We had two pistols, a handful of ammo, and one frag grenade. We could hear the NVA seeking us and a one or two points they walked so close we cold have touched them. Using hand signals, we concluded that hiding was our ONLY option.

Unknown to me at the moment, Steve Davis, our XO who was flying C & C went into action. He was a Pointer and a Leg. When he inserted the Blues*, in the faint hope that they might find someone alive, he also inserted himself to lead them in. For his actions, Steve got a WELL EARNED Silver Star. Anyway, we could hear the Blues fighting their way up to us. When they push the NVA types back far enough, Steve was the first friendly face I saw as he was WALKING POINT! Without an instant of shame I cried like a baby at the sight as I had already assigned the last bullet to myself (the intel people had told me – probably BSing me – that there was a BOUNTY on my head, by name!) and I wasn’t going to give the bad guys the pleasure of taking it while I was alive.

It remained a "long day in the office." My guys could not walk out with the blues as both had injured their legs in the crash. Steve (Captain Davis) assigned the RTO to me as he and the Blues tried to push out a perimeter as we remained in contact. While I was a LIABILITY on the ground, I could conduct the Medevac operation for my crewmen and call gun support. In the end, two Medevac ships got shot up and I called a lot of tight gun support. You haven’t lived till you called in your Snakes for CLOSE support while lying on your back exposed on the rocks so you can see everything! Word do NOT describe the deadly beauty and sound of Snakes working close support.

Rocky and the other observer were evaced to Quy Nhon. I walked out with the Blues and was evaced to LZ English for an overnight at the Evac Station. While there are lots of fascinating “sub-stories” to that LONG day, that is basically the long and short or it.

The GOOD that came out of it was that we had built upon Al Bowker’s previously great work in the back seat and set off a three day battle that cost the NVA dearly. Intel later told us that they had pieced together enough from captured weapons and documents that we had triggered a Battalion-sized surprise attack that was going to hit English that very night. Their best guess was that it might have been possible for the NVA to have temporarily, at least, over-run English causing havoc, great loss of life, equipment, and aircraft.

And the best part is that I am going to see Steve for the first time in 40 years at this year’s 7/17th reunion. After all these years, we have finally gotten reconnected! Praise God!!

Any mistakes or misrepresentations are a product of my declining years, over-active imagination, or suchlike.

Pastor Bruce

*Note for the non-Army folks: Cav units were designated by colors. The Aeroscout platoon was "White," the Gunship platoon was "Red," and the Infantry and their Lift Ships were "Blue." Other colors denoted a mix of units, e.g., a Scout/Gun mix was a "Pink Team," Infantry with Gunship support was "Purples."

And you guys think that there's a squad of guardian angels looking after *me*?

The Rev has a *regiment* of 'em watching his six...

38 Comments

WOW.  Glad all the good guys made it out alive, at least from this fight. I'd love to be a fly on the wall at this reunion!
 
God does work his miracles. Too many coincidences there to be anything else.
 
Some story, UnkaBill.  My previous boss, proudly had a hand-bill framed and hung in his office, of his Viet-Cong bounty on his head.  His picture was prominent in the "Wanted-Dead-Or-Alive" poster.  He apparently made a name for himself working the USMC G-2 in '68.  As a consequence, he ruffled more than a few feathers amongst Charlie's inner circle.
 
Yup, Chawles-Baby floated a few "Wanted" posters around, usually for psychological effect.

The one with my pic on it made it abundantly clear they just wanted me dead...
 

GREAT story... with a great ending!

 
Old Major Unger, my housemate for a while, had a price on his head when he was an advisor back in '62 and '63.  He felt kind of insulted at the smallness of it, something like 100 Piastres.

P.s. Of course I cued up "Cavalry of the Clouds" before clicking on "read more."  The Armorer should listen to some Alford. It just might get him out of his funk.
 
Ummm.... did I read this correctly? He was in a... Loach?
 
Correct, Mizz Susan.

Loach, Little Bird, Killer Egg -- but if you absolutely, positively were gonna get shot down, that was the helicopter to be in. You had a better chance of surviving dropping out of the sky in a Loach than in just about anything else except a parachute.

And we didn't wear parachutes.

/end hydration break
 
That seems completely counterintuitive. They look as if they'd be about as survivable as a motor-sickle on a set of slick mountain switchbacks. I'm guessing... less bulky cockpit stuff to work its way into your vital organs?  Or...? 

/ working-The-3-M's break.
 
Yep, they never did get around to installing the sideways ejection seats in the hellafloppers.
 
They actually did have a sideways ejection seat for the bombardier in the B-45, for a while. It would break your neck, but hey, your corpse would be mostly intact and un-burnt. That's a win, right?
 
The Loach was designed around a roll cage, and an overbuilt one, at that. Everything else -- landing gear, engine mounts, rotor blades, tail boom -- was designed to break away or crush in a crash, which dissipated the impact forces to a survivable level.

I saw a guy hit a dry rice paddy at about 90 knots -- the aircraft rolled for 100 meters, shedding parts the whole time. When the dust settled, he and his observer unstrapped, brushed broken plexiglass off themselves, and ran over to where I'd landed to pick them up.
 
Not only that, but that machine is _purty_. My favorite part of Magnum, P.I., was the scenes with the helicopter.  The Ferrari, not so much. He really was too big to fit into that car.
 
Bill, if you would be so kind as to cure my ignorance, please tell me what TINS is. What was the name of the next epsiode after "In Media Res." I'd heard stories about some of our troppers having a price on their head, but never had it confirmed by someone that saw the evidence.
 
QM   "TINS" that would be This Is No (Insert first word of USN name for river outside Subic Bay main gate).

Old QM
 
Whut Old QM said.

In Medias Res starts it off, followed by Sequel As Prequel, then And Prequel is Sequel…, which segues into Occam’s Punji Stake, then Ab Initio: Muttering Death, which unwraps into Camera Obscura, and finally Dies Irae.

Essentially, they're seven chapters of the book I'm never gonna get around to finishing.

 
My favorite is the one with the giant pot plant Bill's Guys in Back didn't want him to defoliate. That one is just funny.
 
Meanwhile... I liked this one so much, I just had to share.
 
 ...they're seven chapters of the book I'm never gonna get around to finishing.

Bite. Thy. Fingers.

But not so hard that you can't get back to work on that book.....
 
MacGyver has always said he'd rather be in either a -47 or a Loach if the ground came up to meet him right quick.
 
Bill, it looks like SKK might be on the verge of doing to you what some of the Lex Babes do to him when comes to writing his book.

I'll take a look at the other parts of the story as the first has piqued my interest.

As for TINS, it should have occurred to me. A bit dense I guess.
 
 "This Is No Ship"?

Cheers
 
it looks like SKK might be on the verge of doing to you what some of the Lex Babes do to him when comes to writing his book.

I don't believe Mizz Susan would stoop to bribing me with Guinness.

 
 LOL!  Lex babes don't bribe him with Guinness, they just harass him about writing the book. I know Fuzzy Bear is acquainted with Lex, I met her in the last meet up on 8 July along with her Marine beau (no accounting for taste, but there it is), and she didn't offer him any Guinness.  We both agreed we needed you there, though, so here taste is obviously not too badly degraded.

Just read the entire series. Good story. Get the rest on paper and find an agent!
 
 I don't believe Mizz Susan would stoop to bribing me with Guinness.

Good gracious. Guinness? And send you the way of Brendan Behan, et al? Tucked away in some dreadful borstal with only memory and wit to sustain you? *tsk* Perish the thought.

Besides... meaningful writing must be approached with passion, intensity, subtlety, and no small measure of blood, sweat and tears.

You can't do that if you've got a buzz on!

*innocent smile*

 
...passion, intensity, subtlety, and no small measure of blood, sweat and tears.
You can't do that if you've got a buzz on!


You can if a flashback kicks in after the second sixpack...
 
Yeah, but that's not a buzz! That's a chemically induced head trip.

Which leads you to the easy part.

Open a vein. Dip your quill in the blood. Commence scirbbling. 
 
I tried that -- my keyboard got all sticky.
 
Bill...please use small words. I may want to read it and I don't want my lips to get tired.
 
 Ah... no wonder. The nibs do tend to get stuck between the keys. Try scribbling on the screen, next time. 

Fishie.... have you sufficiently recouped from your adventure in San Antonio?  
 
 Careful, Fishmugger
He may try to use a 6-point font.

Cheers
 
Good answer JM...didn't think of that.

SKK...I need to push more fluids...And considering who I was with...they will be Cuba Libre's. But...I need to brush up on my Spanish. I never had a chance to use the 2 words I know.
 
I wouldn't use 6-point font -- I'd need too many cat hairs for scale.
 
I'm not fonta that tiny type, either. You have to use such a fine quill to keep from smearing the manuscript. And it's so sharp when you dip it in your blood. But, then again... it's probably nothing compared to closing a bullet wound with safety pins, so... Carry On.

Fishie, I hope Bob and Blake at least gave you cold Gatorade when you were on grill duty!

In case y'all are wondering... Fishmugger spent the weekend at BAMC with Cooking With the Troops, and grilled up a firestorm of food for our troopies and their caregivers! *High five* to one of the Good Guys!
 
Hey, FM -- how many 55-gallon drums of chili did you make?
 
Chili was not on the menu...we roasted 4 pigs and all the fixings...and grilled a bunch of chicken. The key was the herd of Cuban attendees that knew what they were doing. They came from Miami, Houston and California just to roast and cook and serve the troops. There is nothing happier then a bunch of Cubans roasting away and preparing yuka and rice and beans.

I just lugged and carried and turned and things like that...and tried not to get in the way.

Blake and Bob did a fantastic job of getting everyone headed in the same direction.
 
They travelled from Miami to Houston to cook for our troops? And you went from NJ, and Bob from VA, and Blake from Indiana. This totally warms my heart. You all are fantastic! 
 
SKK...they traveled from Miami and Houston and California to San Antonio to cook. And yes about Blake and Bob and Ellen came from Rochester NY and Heather came from Charleston SC and then I forget. We fed close to 400 on Friday and then Ellen and Heather put forward a class on Saturday to teach cooking to the troops. I was tester of efforts. The rigatoni and the apple crisp with ice cream were excellent. I was too full to test every thing else.