October '70 - Command Chronology

Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 364
Marine Aircraft Group 16
1st Marine Aircraft Wing, FMFPac
FPO San Francisco, California 96602
3 November 1970
Ser: 03A30870---


1-31 October 1970, Marble Mountain Air Facility, DaNang, RVN-

Commanding Officer LtCo. H. W. Steadman
1-31 October 1970
Executive Officer Maj. W. L. Becker
1-31 October 1970
Administrative Officer Maj. D. S. Jensen
1-31 October 1970
Operations Officer Maj. N. R. VanLeeuwen
1-?? October 1970
Maj. J. M. Solan
??-31 October 1970
Aircraft Maintenance Officer Capt.C. N. Knox
1-?? October 1970
Maj. G. F. Dooley
??-31 October 1970
Logistics Officer Capt. A. C. Blades
1-?? October 1970
1stLt. J. N. Staples
??-31October 1970
NATOPS Officer Capt. A. J. Garcia
1-31 October 1970
Flight Surgeon Lt. USN (MC) R. A. Moyer
1-31 October 1970
Intelligence Officer 1stLt. J. A. Owens
1-31 October 1970
Motor Transport Officer 1stLt. D. Cooper
1-31 October 1970
Sergeant Major SgtMaj. R. D. Brandt
1-?? October 1970
MSgt. E. P. Ewing
??-31 October 1970
Average Monthly Strength

The "Purple Foxes" of HMM-364 flew 1,096.7 hours during  the month of Octo- ber.  This effort represented 1,321 tasks for 4,130 sorties including  the transport of  10,258 passengers/troops  and  242.6 tons of cargo.   One hundred  and thirty five  missions  were  flown  in support of two hundred  and forty four  casualties. These casualties represented 84 emergency, 53 priority and 107 routine evacuees.

The  "Purple Foxes"  received  fire  twenty six  times  during  the month and had over  thirty hits in  their aircraft.   All during  the month operations  were hamp- ered by poor weather, which made it necessary for the "Purple Foxes" to fly low level many times to complete  their missions.   This low level flying  undoubtedly accounts for the numerous fire incidents and hits reported by HMM-364.

On  the morning of  13 October,  a Vietnamese Army truck loaded with civilians and ARVN soldiers  was stalled on Liberty Bridge.   Rising water  and swift curr- ents prevented any rescue from the ground.   1stLt. LABRIE was directed  to the scene  where he  descended amid  power  lines  to try  to  pick up  the  entrapped people.  Because of the winds he could not hover the aircraft so the people could enter through  the rear ramp.   Realizing  the urgency of the situation. he turned the aircraft so  the evacuees could  enter the side door.   During this time the air- craft rear  wheels and ramp  were under water and  the blades close to  the wires. His actions undoubtedly saved these people.

On  the  27th of October,  HMM-364  lost its  first  aircraft of  the month due to hostile fire.  1stLt. DENTON  the pilot, and 1stLt. RIERSGARD,  the co-pilot of the duty medevac chase aircraft were on short final to Hill 270 (AT999315) when their aircraft came under heavy fire.   In a few short seconds  they had an engine shot up  with resultant fire/power  loss and  the aircraft crashed into  the hillside. Their  aircraft broke into  two parts and burned.   In a heroic effort  the Marines on Hill 270 helped rescue the crew of  the downed aircraft.   The entire crew suff- ered minor injuries and the aircraft was a total loss. During this time, Maj. VAN LEEUWEN,  the pilot of  the lead medevac aircraft was  directed to  the scene to evacuate  the casualties.   Ignoring  the  danger of  exploding  .50 caliber ammu- nition and  the hostile area around  the downed aircraft,  he proceeded to rescue the crew.

On  the  same   day as  the  above  enemy  action,   1stLt.  BARON   and   1stLt. THOMPSON  were on a medevac mission when  they received fire and had num- erous hits.   Proceeding back to Marble Mountain Air Facility,  they were forced to make an emergency landing.  1stLt. BARON and  his crew chief did an excell- ent  job  of  getting  the aircraft  safely to  the ground  under adverse conditions. Because of this no further damage resulted.

The following day,  the 28th of October, HMM-364 had an accident when an air- craft went out of control in  the chocks and turned over on its side.   The aircraft suffered substantial damage but the crew got out unharmed.

Because  of  the heavy rains  that occurred during  the last part of  the  month, a tremendous rescue  effort was flown for  three days by  the  "Purple Foxes."  On 29 October, mission 80 afternoon crews were launched to rescue 400 Vietnamese stranded due to rising flood waters.   In  IFR  weather without  gunship support, these crews rescued Vietnamese civilians who otherwise might have drowned.

Things were getting progressively worse by the morning of 30 October.   The low areas up to  20 miles south of  DaNang were  devastated by the flood.  American servicemen,  Korean  Marines,   ARVN  soldiers  and  thousands  of  Vietnamese civilians  were in serious danger from  the uncontrolled  deluge.   Every available aircraft  was diverted to  the disaster areas.  During  the entire day, rescue opera- tions were  hampered due to low ceilings,  poor visibility and enemy ground fire. The  "Purple Foxes",  with full knowledge of  the inherent dangers of  the opera- tion, flew without  the use of gunships or navigational aids.  It was a tremendous effort of both pilots and crews.

Another  incident  was  illustrative  of  the  events of  30 October  occurred when 1stLt. ORAHOOD and  1stLt. THOMPSON  hovered precariously close to near- by  trees  and  a  church steeple to pull  10 children from  the roof of  the church south of Hoi An.  With the aircraft's main mounts on the tile roof of the church, crew chief  LCpl. BROWN,  laying on the lower hatch door,  helped the children into the aircraft.

During  the  late afternoon  and  into the  waning  daylight of  30 October,  Maj. VAN LEEUWEN and LtCol. STEADMAN, working in the area where the raging Song Vu Gai emerges into  the coastal plains,  participated in a daring  rescue of many stranded  and flood  bound civilians.   After sighting  the frantic flood vic- tims, the aircraft was put down on a water covered road.  Although the road was considerably  higher  than  the  surrounding terrain,  the water  was of  sufficient depth  to  cover  the FM antenna an disrupt  normal communications  with  U.S. ground  units.   Seeing  small  children  in  immediate  danger of  drowning  Cpl. LITCHFIELD,  the  crew  chief,  jumped  into  the  swirling  waters  and effected several  saves.   He  was  shortly  followed  into  the water by two aerial gunners, GySgt. THOMPSON and Sgt. BEENE.  For the next two and a half hours,  these Marines were almost constantly in the water effecting rescues.

During the day,  hundreds of people were rescued.   Some of  the crews never left their aircraft for seven hours because there was so much work to be done.

When,  at 1830 on 30 October,  the flight crews of  HMM-364  were recalled they had amassed a total of 58.5 flight hours and had rescued 980 people.

The effort  put forth in  the rescue was commented upon by  the CG III MAF  in his 022151 Nov. 70 message  in which he stated,  " . . the many individual acts of heroism  should be  justly  rewarded.   I am  justifiably and  extremely  proud of Marine Corps Aviation."

The "Purple Foxes" maintained an average aircraft availability of 12 and an air- crew availability of 18 during the month.   The high pilot flew 87.5 hours for  the month  and  the  high  crew chief  and gunner  flew 77.2  and  84.6  hours respec- tively.  218 Air Medals and seven Air Crew wings were awarded. 


9 October 1970 - During  a  medevac  mission,  aircraft  155354  received six hits while in a zone, knocking out the supervisory panel  The crew departed the zone without further incident.

10 October 1970 - The crew of aircraft 154020 was on a resupply mission enroute to LZ 425 when the #2 fuel control failed.   Whereupon the pilot shut  the engine down and returned to Marble Mountain Air Facility.

12 October 1970 - Three  forward blades and  one aft blade were  damaged when the pilot of aircraft 154838 hit some wires in  the zone while on a night medevac. The number one engine of aircraft 154020 had a compressor stall.  The pilot who was on  mission 73 (Recon) aborted and flew  the aircraft back to Marble Moun- tain Air Facility.

18 October 1970 - The pilot of aircraft 153354 was on a  resupply mission to Hill 270S when  he took three hits in  the aft  transmission.  Due to  the loss of press- ure, a precautionary landing was made at FSB Ross.

20 October 1970 - Returning from a night medevac mission,  the pilot of aircraft 154798 was on a short final when the hydraulic oil cooler failed and the #2 boost pressure was lost.  The pilot landed without further incident.

21 October 1970 - The  pilot of 154026 was on a medevac  mission when he  took one hit in the forward rotor blade.

23 October 1970 -The  pilot of  154020  landed  safely  after  it  lost  its #1 engine during a hover check.

24 October 1970 - During  a troop extract,  the pilot of aircraft  153347 damaged the aft rotor blades when he hit a tree in the LZ.

27 October 1970 - Two  incidents and  one  accident  occurred.   Aircraft  154838 crashed  and  burned on  Hill 270S when  the aircraft  was shot down  while on a medevac mission.   The pilots of aircraft  154027 and  154815 received hits in the fuselage and aft pylon while  flying low level on medevacs.   The pilot of  154815 was forced to make an emergency landing.

28 October 1970 - During a turn-up to check  the blade track of  aircraft 154042, it went out of control and crashed in the revetment.

29 October 1979 - The  pilot  of aircraft  153349 was  on mission  80 when  an air burst resulted  in five shrapnel holes in  the belly of  the aircraft severing the FM antenna.

30 October 1970 - Aircrafts  153349 and  153376 each received  one hit  when re- turning from  the emergency evacuation of flood victims.  The  pilots were flying low level when aircraft 153349 had its junction box hit and 153376 was hit in the co-pilot's side of  the aircraft.   Aircraft 154026 received two hits, one in the nose and  the other near  the left stub wing while  the pilots were flying medevac miss- ions.

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