The Distinguished Flying Cross

Pilot And Crew Chief Risk Lives
In Night Reconnaissance Extract
September issue of Sea Tiger
by, By SSgt. Mike La Bonne

Da Nang - A Marine helicopter pilot and his crew chief teamed up to make a daring night reconnaissance extract, 25 miles southwest of Da Nang. First Lieutenant David L. Cross (Pitcarin, Pa.), and Cpl. Joseph Dobosz (St. Joseph, Mo.), of HMM-364 were flying recon missions when an emergency extract call was received.

A recon patrol had come up against an enemy force large enough to outflank them.  Making their final defensive stand in a bomb crater, the surrounded Marines requested an extract.

While 1stLt. Cross was enroute to the scene, the OV-10 aircraft on station received heavy enemy fire while trying to locate the team's position and call in artillery.  Once on the scene, 1stLt Cross held a quick briefing with his crew then began descending towards the zone.  While maneuvering through the dark, mountainous terrain, matters became complicated when the pilot discovered he was critically low on fuel.

Continuing the mission, the pilot told the crew to drop the ladder and began backing into the zone through a small opening in the trees.  At this time, the only reference Lt. Cross had to guide on was verbal instructions from Cpl. Dobosz who could see a strobe light flashed periodically by the team.  While talking the pilot into the zone, Cpl. Dobosz dashed from window to window checking to ensure adequate clearance for his rotor blades.

As the chopper hovered over the extract zone, enemy automatic weapons fire opened up from a 360 degree circle.  Immediately the machine gunners on the CH-46 and the accompanying Cobra gun ships began covering the area with suppressive fire, while OV-10 Bronco's dropped flares.

With the team on the ladder, Cpl. Dobosz gave Lt. Cross the exit signal.  The 30 seconds it took to clear the zone was spent under fire from enemy guns.

Douglas R. Orahood relates that 1stLt. David L. Cross was the Aircraft Commander for this
mission and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.  He further states, "The extract was
in a bomb crater at the Tennis Courts, just above LZ 25.  They were in the perimeter due to
the crater being full of water and we had to swing the ladder from edge to edge so they could
climb on.  Dave and I had been on Mission 80 all day long, were already rigged with the ladder,
as we were on the downwind for landing at Marble Mountain when the call came.    We had
not been officially relieved by the next flight, so we took the mission...big mistake...ha!  I recall
that was one of two times in Viet Nam that I thought we were in "BIG TROUBLE" and knew
we were not going to make it out.  That was on the way to the sight and after a briefing by
DASC.  The funny thing is, that thought came and lasted just long enough for me to think..
"I won't be alive to eat breakfast in the morning..".  Go figure what make s the brain work.

1stLt. David L. Cross' History Index

Back Browser  or  Home