Most of our operations were pretty routine and came of with no hitches; however, there were a couple of rugged moments:
In May of 70 we arrived at Phuoc Vinh Army Air Field on one of the evenings Charlie unleashed a pretty intense mortar attack. A number of our guys and myself were hit and one with very serious wounds. The mortars that got us came during the night/earily morning For me it was the first attack since Song Be and the sounds of incoming were more like outgoing and the reverse. I guess it had to do with the terrain difference that seemed to change the sound. Consequently the delay in responding I believe cost us some wounds. (See Rich Howard's Comments)
I will also say this was a day of miracles which I won’t go into here but suffice it to say that some would not believe it were it shared.
Col. Lisec awarding my 2nd Purple Heart
To see the Airlifter article CLICK HERE To view another Hometown article CLICK HERE. It was after this event that Col. Lisec pulled me back to Tan Son Nhut saying he refused to take a chance on having to send me home in a body bag. I only had a short time to go before my tour was over.
On another of our operations we flew our cargo in mostly class A Ammo and food. All went well then we got our return load. A chopper had been downed two and a half weeks earlier and it burst into flames. The Grunts couldn’t reach it due to enemy activity but they finally were able to retrieve the bodies. I can’t remember if it was six or eight body bags strapped to those pallets, but I have never forgotten the smell after flying all the way back to TSN. To this day I can walk by a hospital room and smell death before a last breath is breathed.
On an opperation to Bu Gia Map (Djamap), we went in with our forklift and cargo on a C-130. It was pretty basic and rugged compared to the other places we usually went. During the offload of the bird, Charlie started lobbing in mortars. Our bird had to get the heck out of there and left us and our equipment behind. When the attack ceased we tried to load our forklift on a Chinook which had offered to get us out of there. We tried several times to load the forklift but the jet pods on the Chinook were too hot and they could not be shut off. Finally we thanked them and told them to go, We chose to remain with our equipment. I remember the army personnel passing the evening after dinner by shooting rats from the edge of a benjo ditch. In order to stay the night we took some C-130 pallets and placed half rounds of conex over them to provide cover. That evening sleep wasn’t easy but finally it came. The next thing I remember feeling was this heavy weight on my chest and swatting at it. I remember thinking this was a bad dream but when the swat connected and it was hairy my eyes came wide open. I was staring at the nose of the biggest ugliest rat I had ever seen. I swear it seemed it was like a medium size dog. I think It was as scared as I was and it ran one way and I jumped and ran the other. There was no sleep for me the rest of the night. The next morning our team and equipment caught another 130 out of that place.
On another occasion Col. Lisac went with us on an operation. I can't recall the location but during the operation we began receiving enemy fire. In this location there were many bomb craters which we used to find cover. All at once we realized that a Loach had flown in the direction of the fire drawing it out. Suddenly a Cobra appeared throwing all kinds of fire power at the enemy. after about fifteen or twenty minutes the threat was eliminated and we resumed our operation. The fact that the Col. chose to be in the field with us just went to show how this man led his troops. He was the best officer I ever served under.