Paul Stansel and I recanted the events we shared on or about 13 March 1970. It was a "Pacifier Mission" supporting the 1st Bn., 5th Marines. The overall mission was successful however, for us it was anything but "routine." The afternoon took an interesting twist as we were dispatched to the Arizona Territory to retrieve some prisoners and grunts. We made a stop to offload a couple of wounded "gooners" (Viet Cong) and that's when it hit me. I envisioned a souvenir in the form of a "Baton" of long black hair which one of the prisoners happened to be sporting. As we stopped at the hospital to unload, the gurneys came wheeling out and I decided to take an added moment to obtain my prize. Pilots Kenny and Stansel were patiently waiting to complete the offload as I proceeded to the rear of the aircraft. The prisoner had a foot wound and was approximately 18 years old with very long black hair. I borrowed my gunners knife and approached my prize---I am sure she thought my intentions were far greater than I had in mind. The grunts on board provided cover as I proceeded with my attempt to cut through the thick black mass of hair with a very dull knife. Time was going by as the gurneys were poised outside the ramp and Lts. Kenny and Stansel were beginning to inquire as to what the problem was. My hurried attempt to complete the cut was yielding a great deal of discomfort by the young lady so I aborted my efforts. I dropped the ramp and returned to my door position. As the gurney wheeled her in I noticed the hair was gone. To my surprise , the grunts finished the job and were passing, hand to hand up to me, my desired prize.
Turns out a green grunt Lieutenant who was on board found things inappropriate and reported the incident. Well, from that point on things went downhill. We returned to Marble Mountain and before the rotors stopped we were advised we were in deep shit. We were all quarantined as a brief investigation took place. My prize was confiscated and locked in a safe. I was provided a receipt by Lt. Hank Lamb for the evidence. I still have the receipt and it reads, "Received from Cpl. K. Wages, one swath of human hair." The incident scared the hell out me and the rest of the crew to whom I owe a great apology. I thought there for awhile I would be courts martialed and made an example of. The big concern was my actions being viewed (after the Captain William Calley, USA incident at My Lai) as continuing cruel actions by military personnel etc. etc. Well, the attention didn't rise to the level feared and I got off with a stern verbal warning from LtCol. Brady.
I often wonder if the trophy adorns someone else's collection or was it just pitched out. Today I reflect on what drove me to take such brutal measures without even giving it a second thought. It sure seemed a good idea at the time.
Crew of YK-5
|1stLt. Paul H. Stansel||Pilot|
|1stLt. Larry H. Labrie||Copilot|
|Cpl. Kerry J. Wages||Crew Chief|
|Rank? First? Matza||Gunner|
|Rank? First? Wiger||Gunner|
After Action Report
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