Pilot Saves Wounded Marines
By SSgt. Mike La Bonne
Da Nang - Fighting time, bad weather and enemy fire, a helicopter pilot recently saved the lives of several Marines. Lieutenant Colonel Charles R. Dunbaugh (Meadville, Pa.), HMM-364 Marble Mountain Air Facility, was flying MedEvac missions from Landing Zone Baldy, southwest of Da Nang. Extensive search and clear missions were being held by Marines in the Que Son Mountains, southwest of LZ Baldy.
LtCol. Dunbaugh's day began when an emergency MedEvac was requested for two Marines wounded wounded by a booby trap.
The next MedEvac was a malaria case with high fever and convolutions. Again under bad weather, LtCol. Dunbaugh hovered five minutes over an enemy infested zone before he could hoist the man out by jungle penetrator.
One emergency, one priority and one routine - all by jungle penetrator, were his next medevac. Location of the unsecure zone was on a 60 degree mountain slope through 75 to 125 foot high trees. When the emergency MedEvac was safely on board, the penetrate was lowered for the priority. While the priority was being hoisted into the chopper heavy enemy fire sprayed shrapnel into the cockpit. LtCol. Dunbaugh ignored the enemy fire and held his aircraft steady until the hoist was completed.
His next mission, in the fog shrouded western edge of infamous Charlie Ridge, was two emergencies and three priorities which were successfully picked up by jungle penetrator.
It was a happy and satisfied helicopter crew that finally
called it a day and headed back to Marble Mountain.
Hospital Corpsmen at the 1st Medical Bn., 1st Mar.
Div., hospital, west of Da Nang,
rush to a "Purple Fox" medical evacuation helicopter to pick-up a wounded Marine.
A routine helicopter resupply mission was suddenly turned into a nightmare recently by enemy gunners. A CH-46 with copilot Major Frederick A. Locke (Union, N. J.), and crew chief Joe V. Johnson (Torrence Calif.), was flying toward Landing Zone Baldy, 16 miles southwest of Da Nang, when the nightmare began. Bad weather had forced the chopper down to a low altitude. It was ultimately forced to descend to a dangerous tree top level of 50 feet.
Cpl. Johnson was keeping a sharp vigil over the sights of his door mounted machine gun when the enemy opened up. Immediately Johnson returned fire, killing two enemy soldiers. An instant later the chopper went out of control, nosed over and began falling to the right. Leaping into the cockpit, Johnson found the pilot slumped over the controls with one foot wedged between the rudder pedals. Acting immediately, Johnson pulled on the controls to bring the aircraft's nose up. The chopper straightened out only seconds away from crashing.
Major Locke, hit in the right arm by the bullet which
the pilot, had difficulty operating the controls. Cpl. Johnson
assisted and between the two of them, got the chopper safely to the Naval
Supply Activity hospital.
Mail Call - A CH-46 helicopter from HMM-364 hovers overhead as Marine infantrymen scramble for their mail, supplies and water dropped in a zone 25 miles southwest of Da Nang. (Official U.S. Marine Corps Photo By Lcol. Sergio Ortiz)
Da Nang - There is a desolate place known on a pin worn map only as Malt-3, some 25 miles southwest of here. Marines there have a tender name for helicopters of HMM-364 from the Marble Mountain Air Facility. Men of Co. M, 3rd Bn., glance upwards every time they hear the clatter of rotors and tenderly say, "There's my baby, the bird!"
Their babies, the birds, represent a life-line for supplies, water and most important, the mail. Lance Corporal Jim Moore (Rockford, Ill.) is characteristically one of the first men to reach the helicopter upon landing. The rotors are turning and the supplies, tied with heavy nets, have barely touched the ground when he has reached and unhooked the parcel. "It's the mail," he said. "If it wasn't for the mail, I don't know what I'd do." It only takes a fraction of a second for the men to distribute all the mail among the group. Letters are frantically opened, devoured with smiles and reading only interrupted when a second, or perhaps a third, helicopter arrives with additional supplies or, hopefully, more mail.
The CH-46 helicopters spend only a few seconds on the
ground or in a hover. Once the helicopter lifts, the men wave frantically
at it, as if encouraging an old friend to return.
Da Nang - While hovering his helicopter between two mountain tops, a pilot braved concentrated enemy fire to extract a Marine reconnaissance team. First Lieutenant Hayden M. Wilbur (Chester, Pa.), HMM-364, Marble Mountain Air Facility, was flying recon missions near Thuong Duc, about 30 miles southwest of Da Nang.
The recon team had requested extraction following contact with North Vietnamese Army soldiers who were only 25 meters away. Once over the zone 1stLt. Wilbur discovered the team was located at the base of a cliff with mountains on both sides, which would require a ladder pick up. As Lt. Wilbur brought his chopper into a hover over the team, machine gun fire erupted from several enemy positions. Ignoring the steady stream of fire Wilbur hovered five minutes in the zone while the recon team hooked up to the ladder.
With the team safely hooked up and his gunners providing
suppressive fire, Lt. Wilbur left the zone and deposited the team at a
Pat Kenny, former 1stLt. USMCR
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