David Bilbrey Remembers


After 3 months in the states I signed a waiver saying send me back to the war.  I was then assigned to the HMM-364 check crew at first, something about my records being messed up, but after 6-7 weeks S-1 said, "screw it" and I was allowed to fly guns.  My first mission was to fly with Cpl. Joseph "Joe" Dobosz on an angel mission to Chu Lai as their bird was down. The morning of the second day a helo was sent up with a replacement for me so I could go back and take a check ride.

I had met Joe and several of the flight crews before I got my Skins back, so I was not a stranger to them, especially as this was my second tour.  My most vivid memory of Joe was after one of those supergaggles we had, a troop lift somewhere out west, I was in the lead aircraft and Joe was on my wing.  When we were done with that lift, and returning to base, my pilot advised Da Nang DASC that the first mission was complete and that he and his wing man had additional crew time left if there was another mission for him.  DASC said, "Standby" and shortly assigned our two aircraft to an emergency recon extract.  A team had walked into an enemy bunker complex and was wanting out. There was another recon team in the area which was was moving toward the team in contact with the enemy to provide any help they could.  My pilot was the S-3, a Major, but I can't recall his name at this time.  We had flown many times before and had developed an unusual connection.  Whatever the mission, if things were as they were supposed to be, all I had to say was, "zones clear, ramp clear etc.", and he would simply key his mike twice to indicate he acknowleded my transmission.  Anyway, we picked up the recon team which was moving toward the team in contact and the pilot of the second helo, which Joe was acting as crew chief on, transmitted that he was ready to pick up the team in contact.   My Major replied, "Negative, why do you think I picked up all this additional fire power."  All the way in, while on the ground and when departing we were taking fire.  Sure was good that my pilot picked up the extra 'fire power,' because my starboard gunner's .50 caliber machine gun had broken its return spring and out of action.  The recon Marines on board however provided a lot of covering fire.  Upon our departure I saw a platoon size force of enemy leaving the area.

After we returned to Marble Mountain, Joe told me that he was hanging out his door, as we were going down for the second team, shaking his fist at me and saying, "Steal my F-----g Glory."  Joe and I shared much booze and what laughs we could manage together.

There are other Marines and memories, but most times it is so blank or it comes in such a rush that I'm there again.

The VA has me 100% total and permanent which pays the bills but, sometimes I'm so ---lost and God help me I wish I could go back and make a difference again it gets scary.  These attacks lately against our country have brought all that back, even though I know all I can do is be here for the men this war against terrorism will screw up.

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