|1stLt. Chuck Story||Pilot|
|1stLt. Donald E. MacHarg||Copilot|
|PFC. Lawrence J. Ellsworth||Crew Chief|
|Cpl. E. G. Wagner||Gunner|
|Cpl. James V. King||Gunner|
|HN V. T. Sloan||Corpsman|
On March 19, 1969, while serving with HMM-364, I was assigned as Day Medevac with Don MacHarg as copilot and James King as our crew chief. We had flown to An Hoa Combat Base and had shut down awaiting notification of Medevac missions. Most recall that to park the aircraft out of the way, we were directed to park beside the fuel bladders/dump. The crew had left the aircraft and was talking to some Air Force personnel that were working on a damaged C-130 nearby.
The Public Address system announced that the medevac should make ready for take off. We began the short walk to our aircraft. The next thing I remember was laying face down feeling the steel matting burning my face, albeit disoriented. I pulled myself up on my knees and that's when I first heard an incoming rocket and subsequent explosion. My reaction after the explosion was to run towards my aircraft and crawled underneath it as another rocket came in. At this point I realized my head was bleeding as the puddle of blood formed in front of me. I put my hand to the top of my head and it felt like hamburger, I realized that I needed medical attention post haste and that I apparently must have been hit by the first rocket that came in and never heard it. I crawled out from under the aircraft and started running towards the bunkers along the edge of the landing pad area. Each time I heard the gut-grinding growl of another incoming round, I would lay straight out on my belly from my run, and each time blood would shoot out in front of me. After about five layouts across the mat to get to the bunkers, I began to wonder if I was going to die and was merely acting on nervous energy. The last time I went down I was near a bunker and began yelling for a Corpsman. Several people came out and dragged me inside a dark bunker. They were striking matches to view my wounds and the Corpsman was attempting to dress them.
After the "all clear" was sounded we managed to get out of the bunker into the daylight, I could see the crew looking at my wounds in wide eyed amazement. My only concern at that moment was whether I was gonna live or die. After the Doc reassured me the wounds were not life threatening - - - only then did I inquire if any of my crew were injured. I have often reflected on that selfish concern of me first and then the crew. I am no hero, but it brings home the motto of "the best medal is a live man's smile".
We managed to get back to our aircraft and there were
many people injured from the rocket attack being brought aboard.
The aircraft itself had plenty of holes in the skin but none were a hazard
to flight. I tried to get into the cockpit and Don, copilot and crew
chief argued that I might become unconscious during the flight. I
insisted that I fly, but in the interest of safety and their insistence, I sat in the back on the return flight to the medical facility in DaNang. Thus the flight time that James King logged from the right seat to assist Don MacHarg . BTW, MacHarg took most of the first pilot time in his logbook.
By Cpl. James V. King, USMC (Vet)
So glad to see Chuck's story. At the Pensacola reunion someone yelled at at me about flying together again. It was Don MacHarg, I didn't recognize him at first but when we started sharing the story a lot came back to me. I hadn't seen him since Viet Nam and never imagined he'd remember me! He and Chuck and I had a great time recalling that March day in 1969! You know the crews and Pilots really got along well and there was a lot of trust amongst all of us. The pilots weren't much older than us, but better educated (College boys). It's amazing we all made it through these events!!
First of all I was a Gunner, not a Crew Chief. I really am not sure who was the Chief that day, but he insisted I get up front with Don since I was familiar with the radios and control system. I guess we never imagined the depth of the shit we'd be in if Don got hurt en route!
We had a full load of Medevacs. There were two or three Marines from one hut which had been hit by a rocket. The worst of the lot had massive injuries to his shoulder and face. A lot of shrapnel damage. I think there was at least one KIA in that hut.
We were over near the C-130 when the medevac call came in. We must have been blessed to get away when we did as at least one rocket hit the C-130 and the Air Force guys took some serious injuries. They were repairing a wing and engine, but after that attack they had a lot more damage to deal with. The Air Force crew was on a 30 day TDY from Scott Air Force base in Illinois. They were about to complete the original repairs and they were headed back to US the next day.
We made it to a bunker and the attack was over quickly but the Gooks did a lot of damage. We came out and went to the aircraft and the Grunts were already loading medevacs as Don got the aircraft ready. I recall the matting had taken a rocket hit near the bunker and there were sharp pieces of steel scattered around.
Chuck was covered in blood and walking like he was going to pass out. He had a seemingly big head wound. He looked a lot worse than he probably was. The Crew Chief didn't want him up front in his condition.
Don was in the co-pilots seat and started up the aircraft. We were actually looking for Chuck when the Corpsman helped him onboard. Don did a great job getting those medevacs to DaNang quickly, some of them were in very bad condition. We had a full load of badly hurt Marines. The aircraft had some shrapnel damage but no major damage. The real hero of the day was Don MacHarg, but since he had not been checked out as a HAC, Col. Brady had to do some evasive footwork to keep him out of trouble. He should've earned at least a DFC for his efforts that day.
I had flown with both these Pilots before, but never up front!!
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