I arrived in Da Nang on 17 April 1969 and was assigned to HMM-364 as an Admin. Clerk. For the first 30 days I was assigned mess duty. The Admin. officer at the time was a 2dLt. (mustang) J. Muschette, Jr. I remember sitting back at the hutch one night wondering what I'd ever tell my children and grandchildren what I did in Vietnam. Remmington Raider? No! I knew that flying as a gunner was voluntary and I asked Lt. Muschette if I could volunteer. He said NO! that my job was a clerk.
The first and only time in my 21 year career that I requested mast was with LtCol. Brady who authorized me to fly (1/2 skins) for 15 days with the understanding that my admin. work would still have to be done. If I flew at night, I'd work during the day and vice versa. This set a president for the other admin. clerks who were able to fly long enough to obtain there wings.
Later on 1stLt. H. B. "Hank" Lamb was assigned the duties as Admin. Officer and he didn't care if I flew or not so long as all admin. duties were taken care of. When GySgt. J. D. Hummel was assigned as the Admin. Chief he too went to the gunner school and began flying as did SgtMaj. R. R. "Red" Ebert.
I remember the day I was flying chase on a VIP hop. We were following General Wheeler around in his Huey and he crashed. We landed the 46 and I proceeded down the ridge to help the grunts bring him to our chopper. While his head laid in his aides lap, I gave him one of our cards "This Trip Courtesy of."
I remember a number of the pilots used to take their grease pencil and draw sights on the front glass pretending they were in gun ships. I remember getting an occasion to fly in the left seat and actually fly the chopper. We had some great pilots.
I recall an incident where HMM-364 went on an emergency recon extract, picked up the team on a ladder and they were trying to hold on to one of their fallen comrades. We were taking fire. I held off returning fire until they had him on and I then opened up. The pilot received a DFC for that mission and the remainder of the crew received Single Mission Air Medals.
I was with HMM-364 when the Da Nang ammo dump went up. What a sight!
I remember on a night medevac when we went to an old french fort, it was pouring down rain and we sat waiting for the grunts to get all the wounded on board. Some wounded were loaded then we lost radio contact. A few moments later a number of grunts ran out from behind the wall and got under our 46. We regained radio contact only to learn that all wounded had been loaded and the grunts though we were stuck in the mud and were trying to push our bird up out of the mud.
I can remember one day we were flying around LZ 1 doing some VIP thing and on the way back to Marble we sat down in an Air Force supply area and there were pallets and pallets of beer stacked outside. I and another gunner ran over, grabbed a number of cases of beer, and off we went. Fly in Service. I do not know who the pilot and co-pilot were but we divided up the beer when we got back.
I extended my tour in Vietnam so that I could continue
to fly but the extension was cut short due to an emergency in the U.S.
and I left in Aug. 70.
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