"NAM as I saw it........"

some recollections of CWO Ernie L. Greening, US Army Helicopter Pilot after two tours in Nam


It is the SOLDIER, not the reporter,
who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the SOLDIER, not the poet,
who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the SOLDIER, not the campus organizer,
who has given us freedom to demonstrate.

It is the SOLDIER, not the lawyer,
who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is the SOLDIER who salutes the flag, who serves under the flag
and ALL TOO OFTEN, whose coffin is draped by the flag,

Nam as I saw it . . .

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Assignments prior to first tour of combat in Vietnam

Along with three other Gentry County, Missouri, Boys I entered the Army at Kansas City, MO.
and was sworn in at the "Soldiers Memorial" late in the evening of 5 September 1955

Endured 8 weeks of Basic training at Camp Chaffee, Arkansas

After a short (3 months) tour as a snow plow driver at the Canal Locks in Upper Michigan, I spent 4 years as a Military Policeman in Indiana, Germany & Korea

Went to M.P. Desk Sgt. School in The German Alps

followed shortly by Traffic Accident Prevention . . . School . . . a two month break . . . Then to Operations and Intelligence School

THEN in 1961 I was assigned to Ft. Carson, Colorado

Where I served 3 years as a Recon Platoon Sgt & Drill Sgt.

ended up an E-7 in 2nd Bde Hq & Hq Co 2nd of the 11th Inf as a Recon Plt Sgt & Sniper

Would like to hear from other members of the 2nd 11th

Earned the E.I.B. Then I was sent to:

Jungle School where I Qualified as Jungle Expert
Less than a year later off to Camp Hale, high in the Rockies for Mountain Warfare School

followed shortly by Special weapons School

Less than a year later was sent to NCO Academy

I was going to have to use all this training MUCH sooner than I thought. . .

In October 1962 we went on high alert because of Castro...
In the spring of 1963 I was leading my Scout Platoon toward the 4 corners area of Colorado, headed for Camp Irwin, Calif. and Six weeks of Desert training. Just before Noon I was pulled over by a State Trooper, who told me to pull the Platoon off the road at the entrance to the Mesa Verde National Park and for me to go to a telephone at the Colorado State Police Headquarters and call my Unit Commander.

I was told about a crises and told to make good time coming back to Ft.Carson. I asked the troop commander to radio the trooper to go back to my guys and have them refuel and to start back toward Ft.Carson at 10 MPH over the posted speed limit. I was in a recon Jeep, which consisted of the driver, with me in passenger seat with a .30 cal machine gun mounted in front of me and a Cpl. on a .50 cal on a mount in the back. The Troop commander told me to follow him, We went through several towns with red lights and sirens blaring before I caught up with the platoon which was climbing Wolf Creek Pass. I figure the locals thought I was chasing the trooper with a gun Jeep.
My Platoon had just three days to practice loading out on C-124s and C-133s and get to an airfield near Pueblo, Colorado where we were issued LIVE ammo and went into intensified training. I was sent to Strike Command Headquarters, Mac Dill Air Force Base where I was assigned to the J-3 section. My primary job was watching Castro by reviewing aerial photos, monitoring Intelligence channels other sources of Information. I along with my Air Force countgerpart, prepared the Generals briefing room every morning at 6:00 for the daily 7:00 a.m. briefing. One of the most interesting jobs I had in the Military.
Watching Castro
I had applied for Helicopter Pilot Training while at Ft. Carson. Those orders came through in September of 1963. I was relieved of assignment at STRIKE and sent to Camp Walters Texas for Flight Training. I was assigned to the last training class of the "Tigers", pilots who went from the Hiller trainer at Walters to the OH-13 Souix Gun ship school at Ft. Sill, OK. I have an entry in my flight log book in red:
22 Nov 63 from: MWL(Mineral Wells, TX) to: PK(Possum Kingdom) Bell OH-13E - 114209 - Just after 12:45 Flight Called back because JFK shot in Dallas

We were on alert until the Pentagon decided it was a domestic affair and not a foreign country that did the shooting.

Last of the Tigers 63-7WT

Sworn in as Warrant Officer WO, 24 Jan 1964

Flight Assignments prior to my orders to Vietnam

Feb 64 to May 65 CH 21 "Shawnee" checkout then of to... Korea and the 13th Transportation Bn

May 65 to May 66 I was a Flight Instructor at Ft. Rucker (remember the flashlight lens cover on our caps?)

Early in May 1966 . . . Ft. Rucker, Alabama, Stage Field. . .

About 1000 hrs. I had two student Pilots working on GCA (Ground Controlled Approaches [radar]) at one of the many stage fields when I received a radio call from the control tower to break off and RTB(Return To Base). Thoughts raced through my mind: was some thing wrong with a member of my family, one of my student's families, had I got into trouble again?
I seemed to have a knack of attracting the Highers attention. Less than a week ago the Branch Commander had bought a new station wagon for his wife. On the first morning when she went out it had fake bullet holes across the windshield, for some reason I was called in for it? ? ?
Also, I was supposed to be training my students for the Tactical Instrument (TAC) ticket (flying in clouds with reference to instruments only) (a relative simple procedure in a Fixed Wing aircraft but, dangerous in an unstable Rotary Wing aircraft) but if my students showed any potential at all I would try to get them extra time and a standard card.
I felt the TAC ticket was a death certificate. I had been chewed out for that just last week, so that must not be it.
I was very " Vocal" about the Army taking the .45 Automatic away from Pilots and replacing it with the .38 revolver. In fact I had just had an article published (April 66 Aviation Digest ).

Oh well, we will soon know…

I was met at the tie down area by my flight commander who told the students to shut the aircraft down and me to go with him. On the way he told me that all of the instructors who had orders to report to Vietnam in August had been moved up to 12 May..

Evidently a bunch of pilots in Vietnam had been shot up. I had just five days to get my family and furniture moved, settled and to report to Travis AFB.(Air Force base).

Fortunately for me, the Household Transportation Department was swamped and they could not get us moved until around the 20th.

Now my orders read:

To Rpt to Travis AFB NLT (Not later than) 1200 hrs 1 June 1966.

As the C-141 lifted off from Travis, I leaned back in my seat with mixed emotions:

1; I was a pilot and had been trained for War, so here I go. After all, that is what I was being paid for.

2; I was a husband and father, I could get killed and not see my kids grow up.

Especially since I was being hurried to the 1st Air Cavalry Division because they had just lost a bunch of pilots.

That did not sound so good.

OH Well, time will tell.

I recalled the 23rd Psalm, Psalm 27 - 1, and Proverbs 29-25.

I would not be alone over there.

I asked "SKY - 6" To appoint a Good strong Angel to watch over me while I was in Combat Zone

While refueling at Clark AFB, I met a pilot I knew from a previous assignment who was returning after a year in "country". He told me, it was not bad, just to keep my head and Fly the airplane first and to worry about "Charlie"* second and I would come out OK.

I felt a lot better on the flight to Pleiku.

* The Charlie comes from VC Victor Charlie on the 2-way radio.

Day one Vietnam . . . 2 June 1966. . .

Arrived at Pleiku in the upper highlands of Vietnam. . .HOT and DUSTY

Was met by a PFC in a 3/4 ton truck, was taken to a HOT, DIRTY tent, given an off white supposed clean sheet and a mosquito net.


I was assigned a folding cot and told to check bulletin board every hour or whenever I saw any new orders being posted.

I asked about food and was told there was a case of "C"s (ration Combat) on the table, to help myself.

I asked where the Officers Mess was and they burst out laughing, I heard several mentioning FNG between snickers.

I assumed there was no Officer Mess Close and took a couple cans of gourmet Cs and set up my cot and mosquito net.

There was artillery going off every couple of minutes, all sizes 105's, 8 inches and 175s. As none of the Old timers seemed to be concerned, I decided It was all outgoing.

Found some dog- eared Luke Shorts and started reading.

About 2200 hrs the lights went off everywhere and a Sergeant came in with gas masks in cartons (un assembled) told us to assemble our masks and to get into a bunker a few feet outside the tent.

There were about ten of us. He left us one flashlight. It is quite an experience assembling a mask while holding a flashlight. Explosions all around, not knowing what is going on and still no combat gear of any kind, especially since NO weapon having been issued.

At least the Marines carry their weapon with them on assignment.

I guess the top brass figure an Army Aviator with over ten years of service and a Top Secret Clearance is not mature enough to carry a weapon, even in a Combat Zone.

The bunker was a mud hole with very little over head cover. As no one of authority seemed to be around and I figured if a VC comes by, one grenade in a bunker would be bad, so I got between three trees that offered some cover and concealment.

That's when I met my first F--- You lizard. There is a very ugly lizard that makes a sound yyyyuuuccckkk yyyooouuu when disturbed and evidently I had disturbed him.

I told him to shut up because right then cooked lizard appealed to me more than old, cold C rations and if he bothered me I was going to try him out. After all, I was a grad-U-ate of the Jungle Warfare School in Panama and lizard was the best food I had found in the Jungle.

He kept quiet and in about an hour some one yelled the All-Clear, the lights came back on and I went to my cot and tried to sleep, but between the artillery and constant hum of helicopters coming and going, I got very little sleep.

Viet Nam . . .Day 2:. . .3 Jun 66
Still HOT and DUSTY

Breakfast, a can of "C"s. I went looking for that lizard.

A little after 1000 hrs a LT came and got me and told me I was assigned to B Co 228th. 1st Air Cav. It was a Chinook outfit.


On the way to the flight line I saw some damaged aircraft, it had not all been outgoing last night.

After a short hop in a Caribou, I was at the "Golf Course" the name for the 1st Cavalry main airfield at An Khe, Camp Radclife.

There were DOZENS of Helicopters flying around, C-130s landing and taking off, and Jeeps running up and down the flight line. Camp Radclife was a bee hive of activity and ten times as big as I had imagined it.

At "B" Company I was told the staff was busy, cleaning up after Operation "Crazy Horse"   Evidently the first Brigade had found a Viet Cong regiment and had a pretty good scrap. 

They would see me the next day.

I was given a cot, nothing else (still no weapon) and told where the Mess Hall was.  I found a nice battalion sized Mess in a wooden building with nice art work inside.  

I had an excellent meal.

  At least I would eat well while in garrison. Things were looking up although I still had not been issued combat gear.  On the way back from Mess Hall I smelled a terrible odor.  I looked around and saw black smoke billowing up from across the road.  I asked a warrant near me what that was.  He told me they were not allowed to dig latrines and that we went in a 55 gal barrel that was cut off at the first ring and they burned it with Jet fuel.  He said I would get used to it.   Two tours and I never did get used to it.

Went to the "O" Club (Officers club) to see if I knew any of the pilots assigned to the battalion.  Met several I knew.

Day three: 4 June 66

Things settled down, I was issued flight gear, combat gear and an old .38 revolver.  I asked for a .45, was told Officers did not get .45s.  I found a guy in supply that knew where a .45 was.  We struck a deal.  I put the .38 in my toilet article bag and strapped on the .45.  A .45 Auto is twice the weapon the .38  is.  Shoots farther, faster, MORE POWERFULL, and carries more bullets.  I was given a tour of the company area and then assigned to fly with and an experienced pilot the next day.  He was to show me the area.  I went to PX and bought an air mattress, poncho liner, some Snacks and some Tide as we did our own laundry.  No civilians were allowed on this compound.  At least I would not get my throat slit at night.  Wrote my wife to send a good pillow and some sheets.

   One of our crew chief's earned a Purple Heart today. He was loading VC prisoners on the Chinook and a VC bit him pretty bad on the thumb.



Day 4    5 Jun 66


After a good breakfast I found the old CW4 that was to give me my orientation flight.

 He was to show me the area and let me get used to the Chinook because within the next two days I would be given a check ride.  I told him I was already a Chinook Instructor Pilot.  He said it does not matter; I would be given a check ride. I figured I could probably pass it.  I noticed that besides the one "chicken plate" (a ceramic bullet stopper like police men's vest) we all wore, he carried three more.  He put one in the chin bubble below his feet, one in the lower window to his left and fastened one to the middle console to his right.  I found out later this was his last flight before going home and that he was just being careful. I guess that is why my orientation flight was at about 10,000 feet Of course he could show me the whole area from that altitude so maybe he was not paranoid.  At least it was cool up there.   After we got up to about 7,000 feet he told me to take the controls and gave me directions.  He allowed I would not have much trouble passing the check ride as I had more tandem rotor time than the Company IP.  We flew about an hour then he took the controls and showed me what they called a "Hot" approach.  It amounted to a Power on autorotation.


I was fresh from Rucker so I knew the Emergency procedures by heart and the performance charts were a piece of cake so I studied the after action reports in the Company Operations trying to figure what the check ride would be about.  I did not sleep very well that night because the Artillery was still going off and I now knew some of it was incoming as well as outgoing and I was worried about flunking the check ride.  I did not want a pink slip on my first combat ride.  I went to bed after going through the entire CH47 manual (about 3 inches thick).

Charlie threw eight mortar rounds into our area between 2200 hrs & midnight.  So much for good nights sleeps before a check ride.  I still was not used to the artillery going off every few minutes and the  C-130s and Helicopters coming and going.  Now Charlie was adding to my insomnia.


Day 5   6 June 66

No Instructor available. I went down to flight line and talked to a Maintenance Officer and some Flight Engineers.  Asked about check ride, they all said forget it, If I knew how to fly, I would pass.  I went over a preflight and run up with a Flight Engineer (FE).  He said I would have no trouble.  OH well, maybe I can sleep tonight.


Day 6       7 June

Fairly good nights sleep and a good breakfast.



The check ride consisted of picking up a sling load moving it 100 feet setting it down then a normal take off and doing a single engine approach.  I was told I would be a "turtle" that is to  fly with an older pilot (not older in age but more time in area) a few weeks and when he thought I was ready he would put me up for an Aircraft Commander Check ride.

Flight Log: 7 Jun 66  " Training"         5 landings                     1.5hrs  Pilot  Day VFR(Clear Weather)


 8 June 66 (My 29th birthday) would I live to see my 30th?



There were no open seats, so I improved my living area, built myself a "hot" closet out of rocket boxes.  A "hot" closet keeps stuff from mildewing and guns from rusting in that hot humid climate. HOT BOX   It had two 100 watt bulbs in it for heat. I dug a new clean bunker by my tent.

Went out to Green Line (the outer perimeter of base camp) and practiced with my new .45.

9 June

No seats, cleaned and practiced with my .45 again.  At least ammo is plentiful in a Combat Zone.  Ordered a Bill Jordan type holster from a Stateside dealer.  Double stitched leather is much better than the issue holster.

 Located and introduced myself to (Browned nosed) the Mess Sgt.  Many times a Pilot misses regular meals, if the Mess Sgt knows you; there will be food when you get in. I did not fall off the turnip wagon yesterday.


10 Jun 66

I was assigned to fly a re-supply mission to the Bong Son area.  It had quite a reputation.

I took a load of food and ammo into LZ (Landing Zone) X-ray and brought a damaged OH-13 back to Pleiku... (LZ X-Ray is the one the movie "We were Soldiers" is about)




Flight Log:  CS (combat support) 18 landings Pilot (P) 3.8 hrs Day VFR (Day Visual Flight Rules) Clear weather.


Nothing remarkable happened the next few weeks. It was a routine of re-supply, haul artillery, re-supply, recover downed aircraft and re-supply.  We hauled everything every where.  For the first time in History, because of the Chinook (Hook) artillery could be set up ontop of the hills and put direct fire on the enemy.  We could move an entire battery at once.  We hauled prisoners out, moved entire villages, including chickens, pigs and a couple of times water buffalo. The First Cavalry was spread all over the highlands and as most re-supply was by Chinook, I soon learned where all the units were:

1st Brigade elements around LZ Bird.

2nd Brigade around the Iron triangle  

3rd Brigade in reserve at An Khe.


Letter Home 14 June 66;


Dear Dad:

Been here two weeks and already got an Air Medal.

Unable to purchase a Fathers Day Card in Pleiku so this will have to do.  Hope I am where I can purchase you a card this time next year.

 I have been supporting the 101st near Dak To.  It has probably been on the news. Some Captain had to call the Napalm in on his own position to break contact with the enemy.

The way we work it here is we take a fresh Chinook out to a unit and stay with them for a given number of flight hours. I sleep most nights in the Chinook.  The Chinooks have rigging for litters so I carry a folded up litter and my air mattress along with my mosquito net.  It only takes a couple of minutes to set up and I sleep pretty good.  I rigged a coffee pot to work on the Chinook voltage so I have fresh coffee every day, the crews seem to like me (probably just because of the coffee).


Letter Home 24 June 66:

Hello All:

Just back at base camp for four hours, changing clothes and aircraft then back to support position. Am supporting Operation "Nathan Hale"  near Tuy Hoa.  The mail clerk noticed the Post Mark on your last letter and told me he was from Higbee.  Everything OK, back to the War.



Flight Log end of June 66:

Aircraft Ch47A    Pilot (P) time 51hrs       Day VFR(DVFR) 48hrs    night VFR (NVFR)3      Copilot 9       Day VFR

177 combat support sorties


 Flight Records signed by Gwyn L. Tyner, Major


July 1966

4 July (Independence Day) got my second Air Medal

7 July signed off as safe ?? To haul passengers


End of Month:

CH47A  Pilot  50hrs  + 2  hrs C0-pilot  DAY VFR 44   NIGHT VFR  4  WEATHER (WX){flying in clouds by the use of instruments}2    N WX 2

256 Sorties

Means I flew 52 hours, 44 day, 2 hrs on instruments, 8 hours night, 2 hours on instruments

Flight Record signed by Edward E. Adams, Major


Aug 66:


On 2 August, Operation "PAUL REVERE II" was commenced for the primary purpose of denying rice to the hungry VC.  We sprayed every rice field that was not near a friendly village with "Agent Orange" or diesel fuel. The first significant contact with the enemy came at LZ Juliett on 8 August as a reinforced enemy battalion came at the Company A 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry. In less than three hours I hauled 11 loads of supplies in and took wounded and dead out. Each load is from 5 to 8 thousand pounds.


6        Aug (both Mom & Dads birthday)

Air Medal (4th Oak Leaf cluster)

Flew long hours the next few days as several units were in contact with the enemy.

On 15 Aug 66 Paul Revere ended and the Division posted this score:  861 enemy confirmed dead and several tons of food and equipment captured.

The 2nd of the 7th Cav opened Highway one, so we could now run trucks from Saigon to Phan Thiet.





Letter Home 16 Aug 66:


Well I am sitting up here in Highlands with a broken aircraft.  Have been doing a lot of night and weather flying, Most of the Old warrants will not fly at night and certainly not in weather.  I feel we should, we have the aircraft and training, so we should support the Men on the ground the best we can.

  It is pretty obvious that THE US POWERS TO BE are NOT trying to win this war. No clear goals or objectives, we patrol an area in day time then leave it at night. No front lines, just isolated islands of US personnel. We are not allowed to shoot Charlie in Rubber plantations or across the border in Cambodia even when we see them clearly.  We each have a map with NO FIRE zones, like game sanctuaries in US, We can not fire on Charlie NO matter what in these Zones.  So I am going to  occupy my time by improving my flying skills, have fun, teach new pilots to fly in weather safely and willingly and come home in one piece.



Letter Home 29 Aug 66:

Have been assigned to a Gun company for 60-90 days, now I can shoot back at Charlie.


Some jerk in the "States" gets a perverse satisfaction from sending wives and parent's telegrams saying that their husband or son has been killed.  If you get a telegram and a uniformed serviceman does not come within 24 hours, take telegram to FBI.


On hill 534 in Pleiku Province, the Cav found a tunnel complex with over 600 VC in it. It had a Mess Hall, Dispensary, sleeping quarters and a communications center.   I told them how to smoke them out, like we used to do groundhogs only on  a somewhat bigger scale.  We got  eight 500 gallon Blivets (rubber tanks) 4 filled with Gasoline. 2 with Diesel and 2 with Aviation Fuel and dropped them from a thousand feet on the hill, we were going to let it soak in for 10 minutes then fire a rocket into it to set it off, but after about three minutes the whole top came off the hill, evidently some one was smoking or had a fire going.  The Infantry later told me they did not receive another shot from that hill for more than three days.

"A" company  of our Battalion was on a training mission just outside our wire, training some new men; it turned into the real thing.  They had landed on a VC platoon sized patrol that was scouting our perimeter.

Another battalion sized unit (5/7) has joined us from Ft. Carson.  That was my old outfit.


Charlie learned a lesson the hard way last week near Bong Son.  A couple of VC companies were surrounded by Cav units, but on the East side there were no Infantry, just our 155 Artillery batteries.    Charlie decided he could over run them so he tried; he was introduced to "Bee hive" rounds, our new type of "grape shot" thousands of 8 penny nails with fins on them where a regular nail has a head, are fired with one round.   The whole battery lowered their muzzles level with ground and fired at once.  Charlie was litteraly "nailed".






CH47A  P 61  DVFR  1.3 WX 3.2 N   14.7     CP 14.6 DVFR 

Flight record signed by: Phillip E. Daves, Major


29 Aug 66 I was assigned TDY (Temporary Duty) to "D" 227th flying Huey guns.  My Call sign "Devil 35".


Sep 66

During the late evening hours (22:00) "Charlie" sent several Mortar rounds into the golf course. He got three of our Gun ships and two ch47-s from the 228th. He wounded two guards on the B 228 flight Line. Night attack

Do not fly near as many hours with guns as with Chinooks, we only average about 1 hour a day, mostly just stand-by, but when we do fly we are normally eye ball to eye ball with Charlie.  It's fast and furious.

12 September 2000 hrs (8:00 PM) we assaulted the Crows Foot area with more than two Brigades. (Crow's foot named for a river junction that looks like a crows foot). It is near Phu Cat and Bong Son. Both VC strong holds.    I did not get to fly much , so I mostly worked on the aircraft radios, they have no signal Officer and they can hardly communicate with each other, much less the people on the ground.  I know a little about radios so will try to get them fixed up in my spare time.



18 September

 We broke up an ambush that Charlie had set up for B/228th. A Chinook was down and Charlie knew they would come back for it, so he set up a horse shoe shaped ambush around the Chinook and held their fire until the recovery crew was making their approach.  When they opened fire the Maintenance Officer called for help, we were in the area so we responded with two C Gunships. I was flying a "HOG" 40 mm cannon on nose  We flew at extremely low level and took out most of the VC.  One machine gun was in a church steeple and the LT with me said we cannot shoot temples. I told him he was right but I did not see a temple all I saw was a machine gun nest and if he did not want to see a temple shot up to look out his side window for about 30 seconds.  I waxed the temple (machine gun nest). On the next pass we ran out of Ammo but the Chinook crew was still on the ground. I told them we were out of ammo but would make one more pass with our landing light and side arms; they had better get that Hook out of there.  I  made a low level high speed pass, flashing the landing light while the co pilot  fired both of our pistols out his windows and the door gunners emptied their machine guns with one hand and their M-16s with the other.  The Hook made it out but I took a hit in the tail rotor and had to make a running landing at the nearest dirt strip. The 228th crew tried to put me in for a Medal of Honor but the Brigade Commander said: " Warrants do not get Medals of Honor in this division".END OF DISCUSSION.
Footnote: Some company that makes models of aircraft used me & this incident for their Model gun ship:
To see it: click on this URL. Use your back button to return here
  I got an Air Medal (fifth Oak Leaf Cluster)..with "V" device.


19 Sep 66, flew three hours in support of the 2 of the 8th who made contact with two VC Companies.


21 Sep

Flew 9 hours today, 1 hr of WX. Logged 30 sorties, definitely my longest day in a gun ship.

We were in support of the 2nd of the 5th CAv, who was pretty heavily engaged near LZ Hammonds
OP Map

Flight Log P 48   DVFR      P8 NVFR    WX 2   CP38   DVFR  CP 4 NVFR 

Missions: 137


Flight Record signed by: Phillip E. Daves, Major


Statistics for the Division:

110,000 flight hours, sorties=250,000, troops and passengers=375,000, Cargo transported=30,000 tons,

Comparing with Air Force our Div alone flew 3 times as many hours, 8 times as many sorties, 3 times as many troops and passengers; we carried slightly less cargo, and flew 10 times the sorties the entire Air Force in Nam did in September 66.  MY OLD Chinook unit alone hauled 1830 troops in one day at Soc Trang. Not bad when you consider 33 American or 66 Arvin troops in one load. We call the Arvn troops little people among other things. There is no way they could win the war, no heart, no desire, no discipline.



Oct 66



First 5 days I flew with guns a GO GO  (CH 47s fixed up with guns.5 .50 cal.MG's, two rocket pods, 2 20mm cannons and a 40 mm"chunker")

1 Oct 66 I flew as extra crew member. Standing up in passage way showing them the AO.  They found out I was Ch47 Qualified so I got to fly left seat a couple of days.

Left seat fires the 40 MM grenade launcher "chunker". Right seat, Pilot fires the 20's and rockets. There is a G.I. on each 50 cal MG).

2 Oct ACH-47A    CP 6 hrs DVFR  8 sorties

3 Oct UH1 B Guns directing GO-GO in support of C 1/12 and C 1/5 that were driving the VC South toward A & B of the 12th Cav. We provided the east wall of the box.

I logged over 4 flight hours that day, expended over a ton of rockets. Had just finished supper and was getting ready for some much needed sleep when I was sent back out.


4 Oct  ACH-47A  ( Assault Cargo Helicopter-47 A model) CP 6.8  hrs DVFR


5 Oct. logged 4.8 in UH1B "Guns" (Huey)mostly chasing VC survivors from yesterday.  We caught some in open so our door gunners had a "turkey shoot".  I found some bunkers and as I had been calling for artillery fire from a  Battery at LZ Up Lift I called for some 175 or  some 8 inch stuff to bust the bunkers.  They told me to move back a little and then I saw the biggest shock wave I had ever seen.  I asked them what it was and they told me it was the  Navy with a volley of 5 inch guns, needless to say we destroyed the bunkers in the next few minutes.


7 Oct 66

Scorcher, rain stopped, sun out HOT AND HUMID

Starting Operation Irving II



13 Oct 66

 Most of the Division is in field so; I am back at base camp with two gun ships on stand-by in case Charlie hits the Camp.

Ran into an old buddy today. (Remember Al Smith) He heard me call the tower for landing and called on the radio" Devil 35 are your initials Ernie Greening", I said yes and he met me at the aircraft revetment.  He was a flight class mate as well as on the first assignment in Korea with me.  Glad to see him. He gave me an experimental 3 shot grenade launcher to carry and try out. I have been carrying a Police Special shot gun;   holds  eight 12 gauge shells. I use number one buck. Makes a tighter shot group than 00 buck.

Al  Smith can help me with my radio problem as he sends damaged aircraft back to the US for rebuild, He can pull the parts I need off them before he sends them back.



23 Oct

  Re-assigned back to "B" 228th


Because most of the division is in the field we have to sleep in our birds with clothes on so if Charlie hits base camp we can get a rapid take off and disperse the birds.  We do not even have a co-pilot; the Flight Engineer (FE) sits in left seat.  We have all switches in go position except Master Switch, We can be airborne  in less than two minutes if both engines cooperate. Flight Engineer starts the cranking procedure while I strap in, then I take over and by the time he straps in we are normally going to Flight.  Kind of fun…



31 Oct Operation Paul Revere IV was launched by a re-enforced 3rd Brigade.

Rest of Oct logged 17 hrs P DVFR   4 CP DVFR  CP NWX 1

Flight  Record signed by:  Clarence E. Gabbord, CW3



Nov 66:

Did a lot of defoliate spraying missions, both around base camp "Green Line" and out in the field, mostly to deny rice to the VC.  Spraying Agent Orange
During one of these spray missions Roger Gould and I had our door gunner shoot a deer for "fresh camp meat". When I got back to camp a LT. Colonel asked me if I had a Vietnam hunting license. I told him no, but at the time the deer appeared hostile, I had to shoot him in self defense.  That night he was second in line for the fresh meat. So much for hunting licenses.   On two other occasions I liberated young water buffalo for camp meat.

Camp meat


24 Nov 66

Got a nice letter of Appreciation Through channels from 227th battalion commander for fixing their aircraft radios.



Almost every trooper in first Cav got a hot Turkey dinner on Thanksgiving thanks to our Chinooks.  The troops are all over Nam, but we got them hot chow. Some of them ate while shooting at Charlie. Probably the LAST meal for some of them too.


27 Nov 66

Big storm, high winds, heavy rain. No fly. Need the sleep.



CH47A_ IP 7    P 114     WX 3     NVFR 12      NWX 3

Flight  Record signed by: Clarence E. Gabbord, CW3


1 – 9 Dec 66..Spent some time on the beach of Phan Thiet  supporting Task Force South, 101st Airborne in the Song Moa Forest, Was with Roger Gould an old friend.(Attachment #4)   we tried fishing and caught some UUGGGLY fish.  They were so ugly we threw them back.

10 Dec 6617 Dec 66   Time off for R & R in Hawaii.


26 Dec hauled Bob Hope show from An Khe to Quin Nhon then out to an aircraft carrier.

My approach to the Aircraft Carrier

After I returned, I was supposed to get two days off as the powers that be had arranged a Christmas truce.


During this truce the VC moved three NVA Battalions into position around LZ Bird. 

Then attacked in force.

Due to weather, most of our guns and the Air Force could not get to them; Charlie got into camp, killed several G.I.s and blew up several big guns.  The LZ  needed re supply bad.

 As I had an instrument ticket and was willing to use it, I was elected.  I told Operations Officer that I had drank two mixed drinks since morning as I was not scheduled to fly.  I asked him to clear it with commander. I felt I could do it but every regulation in the world says 24 hours "bottle to throttle". Commander came and checked me out. He said it was up to me, that I was the only pilot immediately available that could fly sling loads in bad weather and the Grunts were getting their butts kicked.  I told him to get an all volunteer crew and I told them I had had two drinks that I could make it but it was up to them. They said lets go.  I told the co-pilot to watch me like a hawk and if something bothered him to speak up; my feelings would not be hurt.  We made it ok.  I never took another drink while in a combat zone again that tour or the next.  Instrument flying, especially with a sling load takes ALL your skill.

The next 4 days I never got to take my boots off,  LZ Bird was near Bong Son.   I flew day and night, logged  56 Combat support sorties, hauled over 140 tons of ammo & supplies in, did not keep track of wounded I hauled out, logged 30  flight hours on 5 different Chinooks,  over 7 hours of night weather.


I would do a sortie, refuel, get a fresh co-pilot, sometimes a fresh bird, fresh thermos of coffee and go back up.  The way I did it was fly  VFR on top, have radar line me up with the valley, let down on instruments, the Black Hat (air control) would listen for my engines, talk me down, I would release my load, pick up wounded, climb back on top and do it all over again. After a couple of trips, radar marked my descent point with a grease pencil, so I was in same spot every time I started let down, made things easier.

 Several weeks later I got a Bronze Star for this action.


Got 6 hours sleep then had to fly another 6 sorties out there.


DEC 66    IP  9  P  152  WX 3       NVFR  16    NWX 8.5


Flight Record signed by: Wayne T. Boles, Major

7        Jan 67  NO fly  No note in Log as to why no fly.

8        Jan  67

I cut down a big tree for Major Adams today. (Another Story).

Rains ever day

27 Jan 67: The Two Front Brigades were operating in the same area near Bong Son and heavily engaged. We were hauling rockets to several Assault companies, D-227, D-229, 1-9th and hauling artillery to LZ Hammond.



Jan 67   IP 5   P  125       WX1       NVFR 4       


Signed:  Wayne T. Boles, Major


Feb 67

Cannot remember the date or occasion, but Roger Gould and I did something for the Navy and they gave us more fresh lobster than we could eat.

One other time the Navy told me they had a supply ship off the coast that had some kind of trouble and was headed back to the Philippines for repair and that if I had a way of getting out to them they would have a Sling load of  tenderloin and lobster as well as other fresh meat and vegetables.  It did not take me long to get the permission I needed from CO to make that trip.  Needless to say  our unit ate well for a week.


11 Feb

Bad weather No fly

Just after dark the CO came in and asked me if I thought I could make it to Bong Son as they were under attack and needed artillery shells.  I checked weather and figured I could make it. One nice thing about being in a Combat division, Both Aviation and Artillery has good weather forecasters. The CO climbed in with me and said lets go, (turned out to be a pretty dangerous Mission for a Commander).  After we took off with a load of bee hives and other supplies, things rapidly turned bad.  We lost our Gyros.  I told the CO I thought I could make it on needle ball and airspeed and asked him if he was up to it. He said "Plow On, we really should not drop these bee hives in open country where Charlie can get it and the Grunts need this stuff".

 I think the bee hives were still "classified" at that time.

When we were almost there an engine light came on, indicating possible engine failure.  I briefed him on single engine procedures very carefully because a lot of pilots shut down the GOOD engine instead of the bad when an Emergency happened.  I told him there was no hurry in cleaning up a bad engine and to let me or the Flight Engineer confirm each move before he did it. I would be busy flying the aircraft (remember what the Old warrant told me at Clark)?... Always fly the bird first. The bird will kill you just as quick as or quicker than Charlie.


Flying a sling load at night on needle, ball and airspeed separates the men from the boys.

Any way we made it and as a Chinook flies great on one engine when empty and low on fuel, we elected to return to base (secure) rather than spend the night in an LZ under attack.  On the way back with one engine shut down the light came on the good engine nose box.  What next?  I decided to crank up the bad engine to take some of the load off that nose box.  Not sure this was the correct thing to do, but what the ____ we were essentially writing the "Book" on the CH-47 every flight we made anyway, at the time it seemed like the best thing to do.   I am on basic instruments, bad engine on one side, and bad nose box on the other.  I called radar for a straight in emergency running landing on the Main runway.  That way I did not have to add any power to land, in fact I would be reducing power all they way in. I told the crew to stow all loose equipment, to dismount and stow the machine guns as we were not going to need them unless we crashed, and to buckle in securely.  We landed hot; wheel taxied to a clear spot and called maintenance to bring tow for the bird.  We later got DFC s for this night.


IP 13.6   P 91               WX 7     NVFR 8.5        NWX 3.3

Signed: Thomas K. Phifer, CPT


Around The first of March we were at the "Turkey Farm" near Pleiku waiting for the weather to clear up enough for a Battalion sized assault.  As the Bird was combat ready and we were short of sleep, I told crew to get some shut eye and I would stand watch.  

A sparkly clean "Dog Robber" (Infantry Captain, Generals Aide) came by

and told me a General was headed my way, to get my crew


I told him we were tired, had been in heavy combat and needed the rest,

that I would talk to the General.

He said" I am a captain and I am ordering you to get your crew up",

I told him I was the Aircraft Commander, therefore I outranked him

and that I was a MAD, TIRED Warrant, and to get off my turf...

About ten minutes later General Creighten Abramsshowed up with his usual

entourage and the Captain (with a smirk on his face).

I saluted the General and I wish you could have seen the Captains face

when the General Abrams stuck out his hand Said "Ernie,

I did not know you were in country, How you doing?"

I said "fine Sir".(we had been assigned together off & on since 1956. While I was at the G3 in STRIKE Command we met several times and started playing chess. we had played many a game of Chess when he was a Colonel and myself a Staff Sgt. He was a second Lt. in the first Cav when I was born and told me the Cav would still be riding Horses if some "OLD" Generals had their way.He was the tank commander that broke through the Germnan lines and helped the 101stat Bastogne. He often told me to "Speak my mind" not to tell him what he necessarily wanted to hear but what he "NEEDED" to hear

He said" Ernie I have a problem and you are just the guy to help me.  Captain go get me and the Chief a cup of coffee while we talk." The problem was that the Air Force would not come down to low level on bad weather days to support us.  He asked me what I thought.  I told him about an idea I had for a Chinook Bomber.  He  asked what I needed.  I told him, just his support because I would be  harassed  by both the Air Force and Army. 



Reluctant to change.

In fact the cavalry would still be on horses except some one was vocal enough to get trucks and later helicopters into the inventory.  I asked him if I could get a letter of authorizing me to draw equipment from the Air Force.  He said no sweat, what else do you need. I said the "A" model Chinook was a little weak for a bomber, could I get a new B or C model?  He said "You get the next Hook that shows up in country".  He then sent the Captain to get my CO  and he briefed him. 

Needless to say the next month went fast and I enjoyed it.  I rigged the BCH-47 (Bomb Cargo Helicopter) for both internal and external bombs.  Until we got some real bombs we rigged some 8 inch artillery shells with time and impact fuses and practiced with them.  I used the same Bomb site a relative of mine had used on the "Doolittle" Raid. YES, there was a Greening on the Doolittle Raid  I found that with a given altitude above the ground I could get neat air bursts.  The racks were fixed so the Flight Engineer could release them one at a time, or any amount up to a full load at once.  If we were flying at 110 knots 1100 feet above the ground we would get an air burst every 75 yards.  I could put any thing the AF had on the external racks and I released them from the  Control stick.  We supported the 3rd Brigade mostly as they had constant enemy contact in the AN Loa valley.

We did a good job but the idea never took hold.  One night I got to help the guys at Dak TO. The enemy was in the wire and the AF could not get below the ceiling.  I called for two gun ships that had been working with me and knew how I operated and we took off with a full load:  20 eight inch rounds double fused*.  We got to Dak To just before midnight and they had made an arrow of burning one gallon food cans filled with diesel that was on a lazy susan so they could point to the enemy.  I saw the enemy in the wire and asked if the friendlys had good cover.  They said yes.  I had the "snakes' gun ships make a west approach to cover me and I flew in a southerly direction directly over the wire.  We released 5 of our 8 Inchers.  The strike zone would have been a strip about 75 yards wide and 400 yards long.  We did a hard wing over and repeated the run on the other side of the compound.  We dropped two flares then circled looking for more targets. The snakes found a few but we did not see any. I asked the Green Berets where they would like me to expend the rest of the bombs.  They told me they would mark a hot spot with White Phosphorus (WP). We dropped the rest of our  "stuff" on them and headed home.
* we used double fuzes so the enemy had no chance of recovering them and using them against us later.  The next day we went back as this was the only place that we had bombed that we could revisit and walk around and see what actually happened.  We had done a great job, much closer to the friendlys than the AF could have gotten and much more accurate as we were lower and slower.  The Green Berets asked how they could thank us, I said lets see your arms room.  I left there with a night scope on a match grade M1 Garand.  I think my Co-Pilot left with a Tommy gun.  The AF got the hint and started supporting the Division better and I was sent back to the daily grind.


12 years later I was enroute to my favorite Elk hunting spot with my life long hunting buddy and we stopped for gas at a station  near Colorado Springs.  A Guy hollered " were you a HOOK pilot in  Nam, I said yes, He was the Sgt from the Special Forces camp at Dak TO and remembered me from that night.

We later painted bomb silhouettes on the bottom of some of our regular hooks, thought it might keep Charlie from shooting at them.

27 Mar

Part of a letter home:

We have been very busy this last week; the entire First Div (all 3 brigades) is in Bong Son area chasing Charlie up the AN Lo River. We are mostly leap frogging Artillery batteries up just behind the Grunts.

Just before dark each night we have been salting escape routes with crystal CS gas. It is supposed to keep him going the way the Infantry wants him to.  We do this by rolling 55 gallon drums of the stuff out the back with timed charges in the barrels.


Mar 67:  IP 17     P  92   WX3   NVFR7              NWX 4


Signed:  Thomas K. Phifer, CPT


Apr 67

1 April 67:


Big change of command ceremony at LZ Two- Bits. Lots of pomp and circumstance.


2 April 67

A cool 105 degrees in the shade today. 

Sunday April 9, 1967

Early this morning, Charlie mortared us then conducted a ground assault at our South west corner.  It was reported we lost 9 Sky troopers killed and 17 wounded before we rejected them in about an hour. I recall that 5 of our Chinooks got hit along with our guard jeep and two of the wounded were our guards. Being an old Recon Platoon Sgt, I was asked to take a small patrol and search our area for VC that might have got in and be waiting for a chance to do more damage.  I led my first combat patrol.


25 April received 24th Oak Leaf Cluster to my Air Medal

AND this message:


 Special Orders 92

Indiv will rept as indic for trans to CONUS enr to new asg.

Rept to:  526th Repl Co; Camp Schmidt, Pleiku,RVN,  NLT 24 hrs prior to acft dep time.

PXU 30 May 67 for flight V292 SUU

(Translated: I leave Vietnam 30 May 67 for Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines in route home)


                             P 107  WX 2   NVFR 3           NW 1

Signed: Wayne T. Boles, Major


May 1967



1 May

Sent to Saigon to pick up a new bird and any replacements for the division.

Picked up Shiny new bird, the flight engineer and I gave it a good pre-flight,  run up then shut down and checked it out.  No problems, picked up a new Major for battalion, two new cooks and some supplies. Flew to Phu Loi to refuel and to be sure everything was ok. (I do not like new ships or ones just out of  extended maintenance). Stopped at Phu Loi, checked it out, everything seemed to be OK, refueled and headed for Cameron Bay.

Stopped at Cameron Bay checked everything, refueled and headed North for LZ English.

About 30 minutes south of English several warning  lights lit up, I heard a loud screetching sound and the Flight  Engineer Yelling to" get this bird on the ground."  I got off two May Days on UHF before I landed in a rice paddy which covered all my antennas. When I disengaged the rotors, they stopped immediately (BAD).The screeching sound I had heard was the Aft Transmission freezing up    I saw we were lucky, I could have ran out of control any second.  We were not in friendly country.  With one eye looking for the Air Cover I expected any minute and the other on the transmission and hydraulic fluid all over the back of the bird.  I told the Major that this was definitely "Indian country " and asked him to take the two cooks out and recon our immediate area while the flight engineer (FE) and I tried to fix the bird.    I had to show the two cooks how to load and fire their M-16s.  What a mess, NO  Air cover,  No Machine guns, very little ammo and other than the FE(one of the Best) and I, all green, non-combat type troops.  A couple of weeks earlier I had gone down with airplane trouble I had a fully equipped Infantry platoon on board along with Mortars and machine guns, they set up a perimeter that could have held VC off forever.  That time air cover arrived with in 10 minutes.  This time No air cover.  Not a helicopter or Jet in the sky.  I crawled in the mud and unscrewed the VHF antenna from the belly of the aircraft. I then stripped all the RF cable I could get to out of the controls closet and from under the floor. I rigged the antenna as high as I could stretch the RF cable and duct taped it to the aircraft (we used duct tape (100 mile an hour tape) for lots of things).  The FE told me whatever was wrong with the bird was beyond his capability and even if we fixed it we did not have any hydraulic or transmission oil.  I said OK, we have to get this radio working.  I told him that as we just had our side arms (the major had the FEs M-16) if we heard the Major and the cooks firing, he and I would move discreetly to cover and re assess the situation.  We also rigged three signal fires in a triangle and set a can of jet fuel by each one so if a helicopter came near we could signal them.  Fortunately the APU (Auxiliary Power Unit [generator]) was still working so I did not have to worry about running down the battery.  I made a May Day call on VHF guard and every VHF frequency that I had (I believe it was four others) every 15 minutes.  About an hour after dark I got weak contact with an Airliner going into the Philippines, after I assured him several times that I was serious he relayed my position and problem to Saigon.  He told me a VHF frequency that Saigon would try to get me on.  It worked; I thanked him, and then told my situation to Saigon.  Saigon got back to me in about an hour and told me I would have to spend the night alone, everyone in Division was committed, LZ English was being hit

 What a deal. Sure could use a cup of coffee and a can of "C"s... Wonder if there are any lizards around?

About midnight I got a call from some Artillery Battalion Commander, he asked if I was a Chinook, I said yes. He said do you know how to direct artillery and I said, Yes Sir, Ft. Sill trained and combat tested.

He said that Chinooks had been good to him and that I had my own 8" battery for the rest of the night.  I thanked him and told him I only had VHF with 4 or 5 channels (most artillery is on FM).  He said he would take care of that.  About ten minutes later a battery Operations Officer called me and said he had been given to me exclusively for the rest of the night.  I said OK lets find out exactly where I am. Give me a WP, quick at this coordinate. BR96829500. He said that if I was no better at fire control than most of the Division Pilots he had dealt with, that I should get the crew and myself behind a dike.  I told him I was an old Recon Platoon Sgt.  Had directed fire at FT. Sill for cadets and had directed numerous missions in country including the Navy. JUST SEND THE blankety blank  ROUND.

He did and it was less than 200 yards from where I wanted it.  We worked out some pre-planned interdiction and a box around me in case we were attacked and I asked for random rounds the rest of the night on two likely approachs to my position.  We spent an uneventful night.  At dawn the next morning it looked like about half the Division was coming, the 1/9 Blues along with 4 gun ships and ½ my company showed up.  None of them had brought food or coffee.  Our CO ordered some hot chow for us. I asked CO to Thank the Artillery battalion commander for me.

AND IF THAT ARTILLERY COMMANDER IS READING THIS " THANKS SIR" You have no Idea how small you feel in Indian country with little help. Those rounds were worth their weight in gold to me and the crew.



13 May 67

Received 26th Oak Leaf Cluster to Air Medal

IP 11  P 37  

Signed by:  Wayne T. Boles, Major


30 May 67 got on big "SHINY" Bird and Flew home.


What a Deal…..

Before I stopped to purchase civvies I

Went into the first steak house I saw and ordered a huge Rib eye.

  When I got ready to pay for it they said"on the house". I thanked them and headed home. Not ALL civilians were hostile after all.


Some unique missions I recall:


Unable to put a time or place on these missions.


  1. Somewhere near LZ X-Ray I got a call that a G.I. was severely wounded and was in deep triple canopy jungle.  Dust Off was unable to get to him.  The trees were taller than the amount of cable on our Chinook.  They told me that if I did not get him out immediately he would die.  The FE and CE rigged tie down straps and cargo straps to add about 75 feet of length to our cable.  We lowered the make-shift rig down to the Medics below, they rigged the G.I. and we hauled him up to the end of our cable but crew was unable to lift him the rest of the way in.  He was about 75 feet below the aircraft.  As I gathered speed he of course was drug behind the Aircraft.  I had to fly below 45 knots to keep him in a somewhat safe angle.  We went to the nearest surgical hospital, then as he was so far below us the FE could not accurately estimate his height above the ground, I got a Good "Black Hat" (LZ controllers) to talk me down.  We eased him onto the ground and he was immediately taken to MASH.


About three days later I was in the area so I stopped to see if he made it.  He was alive and expected to survive.  He would be on the next flight to Japan or Hawaii.  I asked him what he thought about being slung out.  He said" as soon as I cleared the trees, I knew I was on the way to Hospital". He said the ride actually revived him, the fresh air, I guess.


  1. I recall several ladder missions where both nose boxes on the Hook heated up.  We probably should have limited the ladder missions on  A Model CH47.


  1. I recall a flight where I was a passenger in a Chinook from another unit traveling from LZ English to Lang.  The crew went inadvertent IFR and was confused.  The FE told them he had been IFR with me before.  They sent him back to get me.  I stood in passage way and calmed them down then took the left seat and shot a GCA... They thanked me profusely.  PS they stayed at Lang that night.


4. I recall going into Phan Thiet and the Right gunner yelling Speed Up- Take off.

 51 caliber tracers were moving up behind us. Evidently the enemy gunner could not crank the wheel fast enough to gain on us and he had started shooting behind us instead of in front.  We out ran his traverse and called gun ships in to get him.


  1. While the average day in a Chinook was just a routine day of hauling supplies, there were enough of the "HOT & FURIOUS" days to make flying a "Hook" an experience not easily forgotten.


  1. On time at LZ English my CO got a call from an Infantry commander asking us to knock down some tents with our Chinooks.  That was unusual as they normally complained about our down wash.  Anyway I reported to the Battalion Commander and he told me some prostitutes were using the tents and the G.I.s were not only hiding the Prostitutes from his MP's they were using Ammo and other Military equipment to buy the favors. Of course that stuff would go straight to Charlie and be coming back at us.


I flew low over the tents with a heavy sling load, leveled the tents.  That night the Commander said they had thought it was an isolated incident and had set the tents back up and were in business, he asked me if I had any ideas.  I told him about our spray rigs so we mixed rice paddy water and put in our spray tanks and had another Chinook follow right behind us with CS gas.  A heavy dose of "Poopy" water and the CS stopped the "Red Light district" at LZ English.


8. I had an engine failure near LZ Two Bits so I made a running landing there and called Maintenance for a new engine.  I went over to an Artillery unit and asked if my crew could get a hot meal with their men as we would be there a while. He said of course and asked why I had made the running landing.  I told him I had "Lost an Engine" just west of the LZ and it was standard practice not to hover on one engine if we did not have to.

About an hour later I saw a line of troops moving out and went over to see if we were under attack.  They said no, that the Lt was out looking for the Engine I lost.  I explained to another Lt what losing an engine meant and asked him to recall the Lt without embarrassing him.


  1. One time near the Cambodian border we were sitting in an LZ unloading an internal 105 MM gun.  A VC stood up about 100 yards away and started shooting at us. I yelled to the left Door Gunner "10 o'clock – 10 O'clock", he said nonchalantly "NO Sir it not even 9:30 yet".  The right door gunner went over and took his Machine gun and silenced the V.C.  I found out shortly that the Left door gunner was a Dental Assistant that wanted to see some action.  From then on I made it a point to check out our door gunners experience before take off. The Flight Engineer, Co-Pilot and crew chief are all part of our unit so I know them.  The left door gunner is normally "Walking wounded" from the hospital, typically Infantry guys that know what they are doing.


  1. After spraying Agent Orange all week, I was called into the Brigade Commanders Office.  He started out by chewing me out for my "Poor" Map reading skills; I just stood at attention until he was finished.  He said what do you have to say for yourself? " I told him I did not know what he was getting at, that I had been a Recon Platoon Sgt before flight school and had taught Map Reading for over 10 years"  He said you sprayed defoliate on a Banana Plantation.  I told him Yes, Sir, I did, but it was no accident I had been ordered to by the Full Bird that ran the Chemical Operations for the Division.  In fact he could check my After Action Report for that date; my written Orders along with a sketch map were stapled to it.  He apologized and dismissed me, as I was leaving I heard him tell his Aid. "get that SOB  from Chem on the phone and if you want to keep your job, you had better have the right man in front of me next time, that was embarrassing for both me and the Chief." Anyway I found out later that we had been given a big bill for about 3 years of bananas.  I do not know what happened to the Chemical Corps Colonel, but neither he nor his Sergeant ever flew with us again.






Some of the ways I improved my flying skills:


When the mission was not urgent I would see how good I could get at hovering over a load by starting about 20 feet behind the load and keeping track of how many corrections the FE had to give before the load was hooked.  The ideal was you are over the Load; you are hooked, come straight up (x number of feet) and ready for take-off.

Another of my techniques was to lift each load with less power than the load before it.

I experimented with the power settings (cruise setting, approach settings etc.)

Also a tandem is unique in that you can move the hook left by giving it a little right pedal.  I also experimented by pivoting around different points of the aircraft (stations).


June 67 - March 69


I spent a little over a year in Germany as Rotary Wing Instrument Flight Instructor then got Instrument Examiners Course on the way back to Vietnam.  One note of interest as I was leaving Germany:  While in Germany I had taken up racing motorcycles cross country.  I saw the value of a motorcycle to the Infantry Recon Unit.  I tried every thing I knew to get a motorcycle shipped to Nam but could not. The Army was dead set about motorcycles. I had shipped my car about a month ahead of me so I could pick it up in Brooklyn and drive it home.  I was riding my motorcycle the last month in Germany.  I took my foot locker that I was sending to Nam over to transportation and shipped it to my assignment in Phu Loi, Vietnam.  The transportation Officer said "anything else"? I said yes this Motorcycle.  She said go dump the gas and oil out of it and takes it to the Post carpenter who will crate it.  She said she would take care of paper work.  I knew the regulations better than her.  It was expressly forbidden for them to ship a motorcycle to Nam.  I walked home and ordered some tools, spark plugs, some tires, tubes and repair parts sent to my Nam address.  Halleluiah.  When I got to  Nam it was waiting for me.  The CID came and interviewed me about shipping a motorcycle; I told them I was part of a "Secret" test.  I gave them the name of an Air Force General in STRIKE Command.  Then as they were headed back to Saigon, I borrowed a Jeep and raced to Ben Hoa Air Force base and got on the secure radio to my General friend.  I told him what was up and he said no sweat, he would dazzle the agents.  I guess he did I never heard anything else about it and the motorcycle played a big part in my second tour.

Click on picture to see more of the Motorcycle in Combat

6 Aug 69 (Mom & Dad's Birthday)

My Middle brother (Lowell, Air force)and I were shiped over together....My second tour his first.


  I do not recall much about my tour at Phu Loa, except flying Bob Hope again, and being in country with my brother.  We had arranged with the Air Force (his branch) and the Army to send us over on the same tour.  We had another brother at home so the family line was not endangered.  We had some good times together.  We not only went over together we had adjoining seats on the airliner over and we had assignments close in country.  We got together about every week.  I met two officers who would become life long friends, Captains Schroeder and Harris.  Normally REAL Officers had very little to do socially with Warrants, but these two were different.


I do remember designing and flight testing both a VOR and NDB approach off Ben Hoa's navigation radios to our airfield.

Flight Records August 1969:
76.9 hrs Pilot Ch47A Day 1 hr night
Excerpts from first letter home this tour:
Assigned to the 205th, a chinook company.
I have the best living quarters that I have ever had in the Far East.
It is an old Japanese air base from WWII.
I have a normal Officers bed, Shower in room, small yard, with croquet court

As far as flight duty: this unit supports all units in III Corps area.
Put in longer days than first tour but less contact with Charlie.
I can get down to Lowell have supper and get back before dark.
Also: I get back to unit every evening so sleep in my bed every night, not in the field.
This unit does not respond like the first cav. I broke a hydraulic line yesterday. It took five hour for maintainence to get out and fix the bird. The First Cav could have changed an engine in less time.
We do have three birds on stand-by every night. One for fire buckets, One for Tactical emergencies and one to recover downed birds.
Pretty flat country with a mountain East (Gia Rae) and One West(Black Virgin) to navigate from.
The unit pilots are mostly right out of High School, they do not get serious about anything.
None of them have a work ethic, i.e. doing the odd jobs that have to be done around camp.

Flight records Sep 69:

102 hrs pilot, 3 night, 1 weather

Excerpt from letter home:
Rainy season over, now Hot and dusty. We are supporting more and more Vietnamese units, they do not understand airplanes, They think we can fly with as much as they can stuff in, like they do their trucks. We constantly have to explain that we are weight limited. Word is we are down sizing the American Units and turning it all over to the south vietnamese. They will not last a month after the last american is gone, if that long.
No discipline, NO patriotism, NO GUTS.

I enjoy working with the Austrailians. great guys and good soldiers.

Flight records October 1969:

Logged 37 hours Aircraft Commander(AC), 18 hrs of Instructor Pilot(IP), 47 hours Pilot 4 night 2 weather

Excerpt from letter home:

Further proof that the South Vietnamese Army cannot hold their own. Yesterday we flew two South Vietnamese Companies out to support another company that was getting stomped. When we got there the south Vietnamese would not get off the airplane. I thought they were going to shoot us for a minute. I got one of them that spoke English and told them that if they did not want to get off that was Ok with me, but our next landing was going to be in Cambodia. They got grudgingly off.
About an hour later when we got back with the other Company, this one was still setting in the Landing zone, even though a sister Company was catching Hell about 1/4 mile away. NO WAY THEY WILL BE ABLE TO HOLD THEIR OWN WHEN WE LEAVE.

Flight Records November 69:

59 hours aircraft commander(AC), 27 Instructor Pilot(IP), 10 hrs pilot, 3 night, 2 weather

Flight Log Dec 69:

109 AC, 2 hrs IP, 1 pilot, 1.5 night

Flight Log Jan 1970:

11 AC, 33 IP, 20 Pilot, 3 night, 3 weather 2hrs Night/Weather

9 Jan 70:

Since the 3rd of January I have been the Standards pilot for the 12th Avaition Group. We have 6 aviation battalions. I have to stay current in 12 aircraft models and give IP's and SIP's their Check rides and currency rides. Click to see aircraft callsigns and tail markings of 12th CAG aircraft. I am expected to visit each battalion at least twice a month and check there safety and flight programs.

Still living out of a suitcase, must wait until another Officer leaves before I get a room.

24 Jan 70

Lowell is going up to Tay Ninh with me tomorrow. I will give him a guided tour.

I am supposed to get my own bed in a week, can move off the porch.

Feb 70

41 hours IP, 10 Pilot 17 night 1 weather

3 Feb 70:

I have to get a chinook manual translated to Vietnamese. Going to be a "Booger" to get it translated. we are starting to turn our aircraft over to them. We are expected to make a pilot out of a guy who was plowing with a water buffalo a year ago. Knows nothing about any machinery except a Honda Scooter. I feel sorry for the unit instructors.
March 70:

35s IP,25 Pilot 10 night, 3 weather:

4 Mar 70:

Last letter before R & R:

I don't think any of the South Vietnamese Units have completey taken over yet, Some are pretty good , but the majority are pretty sad. About one in 30 of the guys we get to make pilots out of, I would feel comfortable in the back with him flying.
Appears to be a big Charlie build up in both Laos and Cambodia, Hope they let us start crossing the borders pretty soon.

April 70:

9 hours Aircraft commander, 44 IP, 31 Pilot 5 night, 2 weather

3 Apr 70:

Monsoon season is here.

The Safety Officer of all people wrecked my helicopter while I was on R & R.

The Cambodian government is giving the VC three choices:

1. get out of Cambodia and go back to Laos
2. Go into south vietnam
3. Stay and fight the cambodians.

I think he (VC) will stay in Cambodia unless the UN send troops or we get permission to enter Cambodia.

The VC have stepped up the night attacks on our airfields. He hits three or four every night.

We had about 10 Congressmen visit this week, " SIGHT SEEING?" somethings UP.

11 April 1970 Picked up 27 th Air MedalI also received the Vietnam Forces Honor Medal for this action

From 13 April to 17 April we had two chinooks and 4 cobra's on standby to support Apollo 13 in case it came down in our area.

Flew severeal more VIP's this week, Something is UP?????

Start of what I call MY "JOHN WAYNE WEEK":
25 April - 8 May

25 April 70

This morning the Officer of the Day got me up around 4:00 ( Yes 4 AM) Told me to put on my cleanest ? flight suit and go to Brigade Headquarters. I met the Brigade Commader who told me I would be taking a White House Staff Officer into Cambodia. He offered me his Huey. I told him I would rather have a Cobra. He said OK. I called the SIP at Di An and told him I wanted his best cobra ready to go in 30 minutes, NO wing stores and only one can of ammo for the .20. CRAMMED with fuel, run up then shut down and topped Off again with fuel. I wanted it clean and fast.
We crossed the border near the "Parrots Beak" just at dawn, I flew him around for the best part of an hour, showed him all the Supplies setting out in open or poorly camouflaged. We saw a large black sedan with flags on fenders and four motorcycle escort in front and a truck with anti aircraft guns following. We saw one VC sitting on his bunker cleaning his MG. (I am NOT allowed to mention names). The High ranking staff officer I flew said in his opinion South Vietnam Army should go into Cambodia but we should not go in, just support the "little people"
I got to see him give a speech at the College of the Ozarks in 2002, he said it was still his opinion that we should not have gone in. But most of the other staff convinced the president to go for it.
Three days later we GOT THE WORD FROM THE "WHITE HOUSE" to go into cambodia

Starting 29 April 70 and for the next three weeks I flew 12-15 hours a day as Command and Control in Cambodia.
My job was to find and mark (with smoke grenades and tracers) enemy positions for our gun ships to destroy.
I had it arranged so that two or three Cobras showed up full of fuel and ammo every thirty minutes to replace the ones I was working with at that time, That way I could get three waves done before I had to refuel & rearm.
My crew chief and I rigged up a device that allowed me to put out huge quantities of billowing white smoke. We used this several times to blind or bewilder the enemy to save downed crew members.

Some times we used it to bewilder friendlys too. HA-HA.
Took my brother Lowell (Air Force) with me one day. We figured Dewayne could carry on the family name if we got shot down.

He commented that he thought we (the Army) flew a "little" too close to the ground.....

1 May 70 Picked up my first Silver Star:
Click to View
6 May 70 Picked up my second Silver Star.
8 May 70 Picked up my third DFC
We captured huge quantities of Arms, Ammunition,and other supplies.
Map OF John Wayne Week MAP
Rocket Location MAP 2

After Cambodia, I mostly flew congressmen around on "Fact Finding Missions"? ? ? and then more Congressmen came over to follow the first??? to my LAYMANS EYE it looks more like they are here to get their picture taken in the War Zone and take home War Trophys.
Yesterday I hauled the German National TV crew around.
After the sight see-ers left I got to help the Australian Aviation Officer.

August 1970 Got on the "Big-Shiny-Bird" and flew home.

Total Flight Time:
6390 hours in Rotary Wing Aircraft
1057 hours as Instructor Single Engine2147 Instructor Multi-engine199 hrs Instructor wx
1832 hours Combat time 549 hours Weather 541 hours night 76 night/weather
And the ...SCARIEST...126 hours of Low level goggle time...
2133 hours in Fixed Wing Aircraft
1651 hours Single Engine 482 hours in Multi-Engine

To see the aircraft I am certified in click 227th patch

Some neat

 Innovations I saw:


One was fastening a 55 gal barrel to a rear wheel of a ¾ ton 4X4 to mix cement.

Cement Mixer


The Battalion Maintenance Officer "Big O" came up with several ideas to recover a Chinook as fast as possible.  A couple were coolers with quick disconnects. They just isolated a cooler that had battle damage and flew the hook back.


There were as many ways to heat C rations as one would expect.  One way even aroused the Boeing Company.  We got a TWIX (telegram) wanting to know why our transmissions all had concentric circles on them. No other Chinook company in Nam had them.  It was because about ½ hour before "Chow Time" we would tell the FE what we wanted to eat and he would put the C rations on the transmission and they would heat up evenly.  Of course as we were flying the cans moved around and made the circles that Boeing mentioned.


Another was the Fire buckets.  We got the idea from the Forestry department and improved on it by making the trap door bigger and using our Hydraulics instead of electricity.  Hydraulics was stronger and more maneuverable allowing the FE to release the water in a controlled manner. He could dump it all at once, like an ammo dump fire or release it slowly as we moved along a grass fire line.


Some crew Chief or door gunner found out a C Ration can made a perfect feed for ammo on the door gun.  Within a month every door gunner in Nam was using a C ration can to feed his MG.


The furniture and stuff made out of rocket boxes and Artillery boxes was amazing.

On first tour I made me a cabin and moved out of the leaky tent.

An old water trailer makes a good septic tank.

On second tour I had indoor plumbing.


We came up with several ways of refueling and rearming the advance birds.


  1. A Chinook would haul two 500 gal fuel bladders, a pump, the necessary hoses and crew out to a forward position and they would set up a rearm and refuel station.
  2. A Chinook would put a 1000 gal tank internal, fly to a designated spot, run three hoses out each side of the ship and create a fast refuel, re- arm  position.  This was mostly used on raids. We could refuel 6 little birds at a time.
  3. Once on a "Special" long range mission when I was flying "Guns" we refueled from the wing tanks of an Air Force Bird.  We landed at a deserted Rubber plantation, made sure it was semi safe then the Air Force bird landed, refueled us and left...


We could build a pretty good LZ in one day.

Air Force would drop a "Daisy Cutter" this essentially cleared the upper foliage.

The Hueys would drop off engineers with C4,  Prima cord and chain saws, they would clear an area big enough for us.  We would then bring in a couple of Dozers, a back hoe and a road grader. Normally by dark we had a good LZ complete with dirt strip long enough for C-130s.



Fly the airplane first and foremost then worry about  the enemy.

Each Unit should:

  1. Start a Lessons Learned Log.  Have every one contribute, immediately after each mission while data is still fresh.  Things they were faced with, what they did, what they would and would not do if confronted with that situation again.  Make this mandatory reading.


Share this info with other like units.



  1. In an Aviation unit especially, where crews are going in and out at all hours, have a snack bar available at all times.  Even if it's only hot coffee, soup and "C"s.  I missed a lot of meals in Nam and when your blood sugar is low you make mistakes.  I also expect it shortens your survival time if you go down hungry.
  2. If at all possible assign ships to pilots, they take a lot better care of it and  are not apt to forget to write up an over speed or over boosts.  I had a lot of Crew chiefs and Flight Engineers tell me of thing pilots did not write up, that actually endangered the next crew's life.
  3. Have a common frequency in each AO where all units can get to any other unit.  Many times I had something important for people and could not get to them.  At least at command level.  It is nearly impossible to use the SOI and SSI while flying low level.
  4. Enforce the correct use of this frequency and guard.




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