"DA NANG - Quick action by an HMM-364 crew on October 13th saved 20 Vietnamese civilians from possible drowning in the Hoa An River recently.

The civilians were crossing the river in a truck some 15 miles southwest of Da Nang when the bridge collapsed because of high water following a severe storm.  Their truck dropped into the water.

Flying routine resupply missions, the HMM-364 CH-46 Sea Knight, piloted by 1stLt. Larry H. LaBrie, was diverted to the scene to assist the stranded civilians.

Arriving at the site, Lt. LaBrie and his copilot 1stLt. John N. Staples, saw the people scrambling atop the truck.  Realizing that the rapidly rising water would soon reach the truck top and possibly wash the people into the swift current, Lt. LaBrie took immediate action.  Guided by the crew chief, Sgt. David T. Howell, the pilot lowered the chopper until it hovered alongside the truck.  Sgt. Howell opened the aircraft's side entrance door to provide an easy access to the CH-46 for the stranded people.

The civilians, however, were afraid to board the aircraft.  Sgt. George E. Simmons, an aerial gunner, leaped to the truck to assist the people aboard.  Minutes later the stranded civilians were safely on the river bank."

Photo by, unknown Stars and Stripes photographer

After Action Report

Submitted by:
    David Ludke, former Cpl. USMC

(For pictures of the crew, click here)

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