A Memory From Jim

Discussion in 'Vietnam Memories Forum' started by Guest, Mar 11, 2003.

  1. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Posts: 830
    (1/16/02 11:44:03 pm)
    | Del All A Memory From Jim
    This following memory was posted by a poster named Jim who was a poster on our MSNBB and was on this one for a while. Jim had so many memories and here is one that I happen to have a copy of. Thought the new people here would like to have an opportunity to read it.

    Subject: Gunship pilots
    From: Jim
    Date: Fri 16 Jun 2000

    Spot Decisions:

    One night we had a LRRP team get in trouble six or seven hours after they were dropped. Through the night they could hear movement and ultimately swore they were surrounded. We responded with a gun ship team. After the scramble, the LRRP team urgently requested extraction. The problem was the helicopters were Cobras. Without authority the gun ship team picked the LRRP team up. How? The Cobra's (only one I think) put down in the dark and the LRRP team sat/grabbed/clutched the skids. The team leader communicated with the pilot on the radio. They even brought a dog out with them. We figured they were either going to court martial the pilot or give him a medal. They gave him a medal.

    I was in division helicopter control at the time and scrambled the gunships. This occured in the 1st Inf. Div. AO sometime around 10/11/12 of 1968. My best guess of the location was somewhere between Lai Khe and Tay Ninh. I think it was later published in the division newpaper and you should be able to find it in those archives-- wherever they are.

    Cool Heads:

    Another night around the same time, we had a company or so sized RON near the east side of the Michelin rubber plantation. An ambush was set out about 100 meters down a road from the makeshift company TOC which consisted of a couple of APC's with the back gates down. During the night the company came under fairly heavy contact.

    The NVA apparently hadn't found the ambush. The NVA were so close to the ambush the patrol could hear them talking to each other and they were moving closer. The ambush leader didn't quite panic but came close. He was extremely scared and pleaded with the company CO to send an APC to pick up the ambush. The CO couldn't as he had several wounded and was under fire. This went on for an hour or two with the CO trying to calm the ambush leader down all the while directing the rest of the company. The ambush leader was on the verge of just getting up and making a run for it serveral times but each time the CO talked him out of it. It was an amazing demonstration of leadership.

    We scrambled a gunship team (again Cobras) which was fairly unusual at night. Upon arriving on station, the gunship leader contacted the ambush leader for fire direction. It was probably somewhere between midnight and two o'clock in the morning. The gunship leader couldn't see anything and all he knew was that there was friendly troops grouped in the area. He had no previous knowledge of their formation or placement. Essentially he had a call for help and a grid coordinate.

    The gunship leader asked the anbush leader for a strobe burst. The ambush leader refused to turn the strobe on and was almost incoherent. All the ambush leader would give were references to points the gunship leader could not know. He would say things like "they're on my right" or "I'm down the road" all the while begging the gunship leader to fire immediately.

    So, the gunship leader started flying in a circle and turning his running lights on periodically. Each time he would ask the ambush leader if the gunship was to the front, left, right or back. In what was apparently complete darkness, he finally figured he had a fix on the ambush site. From there he confirmed which direction the NVA were. The gunship team laid minigun fire down which was apparently right on or very close to the target. When the gunships ran out of ammo and pulled out, the CO sent an APC down the road at top speed. It did a fast 180 degree turn and headed back at top speed. All of the ambush patrol were able to get on and were safely returned.

    I listened to the whole thing on the radio for about two or three hours. The ambush leader's voice was cracking to the point of crying and he was convinced they were all about to be killed. The gunship leader's voice was that typical matter-of-fact pilot monotone without any emotion whatsoever in it -- even when he was receiving fire by turning his lights on. It would have been extremely easy for him to fire early and hit our own troops. He didn't.

    I don't quite remember the gunships's unit but I believe it was an element of the 1st Avn. Btn. out of Phu Loi. The gunship leader's call sign was 'sneaky pusher 19" (I"m not sure whether the numerical designation is correct). We worked with him often. My understanding was that he was only nineteen although I never confirmed it.

    Whoever he was, he was as good as we had.

    After the fact, I wished I'd have had a tape recorder. It was more gripping than anything I've ever heard in any movie or documentary.

    Sure would like to see you return to the board. You had some excellent memories that you told us. Wish I would have copied more. Thank You - Hope

    *Senior Chief Moderator*
    Posts: 568
    (1/17/02 5:33:00 pm)
    | Del Re: A Memory From Jim
    Hope, was this Jim Hansen---I believe I recall the story and Jim was only Jim on most of his posts. Yes, a very moving and shaking story---bet Jim is still a 'mover& shaker'!!! Thanks for bring the story back. Wilborn

    Posts: 834
    (1/17/02 8:27:56 pm)
    | Del Re: A Memory From Jim
    Chief, if that was our only Jim back then, that was him. He was another real good story teller. Really enjoyed his memory writings. - Hope