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Info Sheet - PFC Paul Plante


I was initially an infantryman with Company A, 2/12 Infantry Battalion (Warriors) in 1969. I volunteered to fly Nighthawk missions as a door gunner/sniper with the "Little Bears" 25th Avn Battalion, and later assigned/attached to the Centaurs (D Troop, 3/4 Cav).

I am very much the unknown soldier in here, somebody who only a handful of Centaurs ever laid eyes on, and that at night, after dark, and its possible no one ever knew my name, as well, because names were superfluous.

I was simply the Nighthawk, or maybe just that "grunt with the sniper rifle we have to haul around."

I showed up as the sun was going down, flew the missions and then disappeared back to my day job as a 2/12 grunt.

Hence my status as the unknown Centaur.

How my time was coded by the Centaurs, I don't know, nor was it ever relevant to my mission, whatever that was to be on a nightly basis.

I started out my tour in Viet Nam in February of 1969 as an 11 Bravo light weapons infantryman with A Co., 2/12 at Fire Base Pershing out beyond Trang Bang and Go Da Ha serving as asst. gunner on a 60 machine gun.

In that capacity, I was wounded the first time on 20 March 1969 when an RPG hit my pack behind me sending hot fragments into the back of my head and along my skull to where they lodged near my cervical spine where they reside to this day.

The night before, 19 March 1969, our sister company Charley was mauled pretty good, and my Nighthawk mission that brought me to the Centaurs sometime in May of 1969, so far as I can figure, never knowing what day of the week it was, nor needing to, that being useless information came out of those two events, so far as I know.

What I do know is that after those two incidents, late March or early April, word came down that somebody was looking for someone who wanted to get on a helicopter after dark and go hunt Charley in his domain, and I said that is for me and volunteered and got the job, the job being to ride the helicopter while sitting there in the side door with an M-14 with a Starlight scope and look for people on the ground and fire them up.

Like a Comanche raider or a Parthian riding a helicopter as a horse.

The first missions were flown with the Little Bears, A. Co, 25th Avn. Bn., which unit was very active in developing the mission, and aggressive in its use.

So there was a collaboration between the Little Bears and 2/12 in setting up the mission and getting it going and making it functional.

How I ended up being detailed to the Centaurs, I don't really know.

When the centurion said go, I went.

And now, I am highly honored to be here among such illustrious company!