February , 1968
That same day we went in near the Citadel for a medical evacuation and as soon as the ramp was down we were overloaded with healthy news personnel. There were wounded Marines and ARVNS all over the place out there so I told the news people to get off my helicopter. They all seemed to agreed that as civilians they had priority, and gave me a hard time. My aircraft commander was getting nervous and was ready to get the heck out of there when I advised him of the problem The next thing I recall is getting slammed to the side of my aircraft as the pilot rushed by me and began physically throwing them of the helicopter. On the way to the medical facility the pilot aid he needed a head count and I recall we had 38 medevac and five of us made 43! Of course you must remember that we did not have on a full load of fuel and some of the evacuees were ARVN troops which only weighed half as much as Marines.
I was very proud of my entire crew that day, especially the pilot, and wish I could recall all their names.
|June 19, 1969
I remember flying as Crew Chief on an administrative flight June 19, 1969 when we heard a recon team calling for an emergency extract. Since it was an administrative flight we were not armed with .50 caliber machine guns at the time. My pilot, I believe he was a Major, advised Da Nang DASC that he could return to Marble Mountain, pick up some fifties, two gunners and would take the emergency extract.
One of the gunners we picked up was a Marine who will remain nameless, but also a Marine who was constantly telling lots of "war stories" about his former exploits. He was manning the gun on the right side of my aircraft.
Upon arriving over the recon team we kicked out two ladders, one from the crew door on the right and the other from the ramp which had been lowered to the level floor position. I was laying on the floor looking out the "hell hole" and directing the pilot into the extract zone when I saw a "gook" with an AK-47 aiming at us. I yelled out, "gook at two o'clock, get him!" and looked up at my right gunner to see his eyes get as big as silver dollars hiding in a frozen position behind his gun. About that time I took a round in my leg. Immediately thereafter I saw Cpl. T. J. Snow, my left gunner, grab his arm as he reeled back from his gun and then get hit again in his side which caused him to stumble toward the open ramp at the rear of the aircraft. At first I thought he was going to fall out the open ramp but he recovered short of the opening and fell to the deck. I shoved the right gunner from his frozen position and was able to neutralize the enemy soldier on the ground.
It was then that the emergency extract was terminated as far as our aircraft was concerned. I understand that the gun ships remained on scene and another section of CH-46s completed the mission.
Cpl. Snow and I were evacuated to the United States where I spent about nine months in the Philadelphia Naval Hospital. As to Cpl. Snow, I have not heard from him since but often wonder how well he recovered. Upon being released from the hospital I shipped over for another tour with the condition that I could return to Vietnam which was granted and soon I was back among my "Purple Foxes.".
After this incident I heard from different Marines that the right gunner had claimed his gun jammed on him and that was the reason he did not fire upon the enemy who was stitching holes in my aircraft. I looked for his name on the "Squadron Roster" and was pleased to see it was not included for, with God as my witness, the man nearly caused the death of my crew and the recon team on the ground.
John W. Allen, former Sgt. USMC
John W. Allen's squadron history index