THIS PRAIRE FIRE MISSIONS LOG COURTESY OF CHARLES HERRMANN
PRAIRIE FIRE MISSIONS LOG
Decembeer 1968 thru May 1969
21st Helicopter Squadron, Nakhon Phanom, Thailand
Three missions remain rather vivid in my memory
1. 24 Dec 68: SOG team was under fire while we were enroute, actually engaged in hand-to-hand fighting (rifle butt to the groin type fighting). A-1E's got things quiet so we could pick up 2 survivors, one U.S. and one indigent (Montagnard). Indigent cried without restraint on trip home, he had lost a life-long friend in the struggle before we arrived. The war became "real" for me at that moment.
2. 7 Jan 69: Team under fire in bomb crater in extreme southwest corner of North Vietnam while we were enroute. A1-E's got things quieted down so we could make pickup. For some reason or another indigents did not know how to use the jungle penetrator. Held hover for an extremely long time until "lead" A-1E advised that he and his friends were running low on ammo. Dropped Jacobs Ladder and 6 man team latched to ladder and we climbed to 2500' MSL (to get above limits of small arms fire) and flew some 25 miles or so to the top of a karst that had been declared "safe' by lead A1-E pilot. Brought chopper to a hover, team got off ladder one at a time, then boarded helicopter. This action necessary since we could not have team hanging below chopper because we needed to climb to 10,000 feet and "jink" while crossing the Ho Chi Minh Trail (enroute "home") where enemy anti-aircraft missile sites were located.
3. 28 Mar 69: We had departed inserting the team by less than 5 minutes when the FAC advised us that the team was under fire and as soon as the A-1E's could quiet things down, we would have to retrieve the team. The A-1Es' did their job and so we went in with both guns firing and made the pickup. Actually saw one black pajama clad individual run from left to right under the nose of the chopper, and since he apparently did not stop and shoot us down, I guess he was "running for his life". The A-1E's HAD to be laying down a helluva lot of ordinance for us to return to the same spot, hover, hoist 6 people on board and then escape…..UNSCATHED!
In closing, I just can NOT give those A-1E drivers any higher praise. Unfortunately, of all of them that protected me on so many occasions, I only knew one of them personally. The fact remains that they "had a job to do"……WOW…….did they EVER do it……as far as I am concerned. I have been..... and will be eternally grateful for the job that they did. They definitely helped make it possible to write this summary. GOD BLESS EVERY ONE OF THEM!