CH-3E/67-14702/15 Jan 69
On 15 January 69, I was flying with Maj. Henery and Capt Adams on a fateful mission.
As I remember it, we were coming out of Nam from an over night stay due to a long mission the day before. We were a three bird gaggle and we were the low (lead) bird. We had no real data pertaining to angels or anything ---- no current codes because we were not on a mission, only dead heading home.
It might have been a FAC but not sure who flagged us to help out in a pick up of a downed pilot. Understand, we were just RTB, when we got a call to assist. After minimal coordination we decided to give it a try and we wound up in a trap.
VC machine guns were at the spot we were vectored into. Within seconds our number two engine, control tubes and hydraulic accumulators were gone. I remember the red mist in the cabin from the compressed air and hydraulic fluid. Rounds came up through the floors and in through the door. Everything seemed to be coming from the right side. We banked up and to the left (uncontrolled flight) did a 360 and went in hard. I remember everything flying around the cabin it felt as if we were almost inverted.
After we hit we exited with our weapons and gear and set up a perimeter off the nose of the ship. Maj Henerey got on the radio and started calling for assistance. Since we were in direct sight of our sister ships we had no trouble correlating our position. We all had our radios out but only Gerry talked.
If I remember correctly, Capt Adams was badly hurt. I remember I had my M-60 and the M-79 grenade launcher along with ammo. I looked back at the ship and it looked like a big spider with smoke coming out of the engine areas. The tail boom was broken and leaning off to the side, the front cockpit windows shattered and the electronics compartment door was pushed up to the window areas. The spider effect came from the blades, broken and hanging down. From the front it looked like a big dark spider smoking from its head. That particular sight remains in my memory till this day.
Anyway, the attempt was made to get a Jolly Green to assist, they seemed to be in the area, not sure why. It was determined the area was too hot, VC were said to be on the ground and coming our way, Jolly Green did not want to come in at that time.
Number two bird (I believe it was Capt Shetter, not sure about the name) said we are not leaving our own down there and came in and picked us up. An experience I'll never forget. Things could have been quite different had it not been for the courage of our brothers on the number two ship.
Evidently we did everything right as we were referred to at the jungle school in the P.I. after that as part of the references of what to do in the event you get shot down.
Anyway, memories do flood back with the appropriate stimuli, sometimes vague but always there. If my recollection is inaccurate in any way, it's mine and I'll stay with it.