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War Stories

Bored NightHawk Crew

Stanley "Stan" Allen Nighthawk Crew Chief - 1968-69

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nighthawkThis mission started just like most of the Night Hawk missions. We would get the crew together, sometime in the late afternoon at Cu Chi and depart for usually, Tay Ninh. The crew usually consisted of Aircraft Commander Steve Zorger and myself and whichever Door Gunner was assigned to my ship at that time. The copilots rotated through by whatever schedule they had in Operations.

The light man, about 98% of the time, was one of the Air Force, Air Traffic Controllers from the control tower at Cu Chi. They needed 4 hours a month to get their Flight Pay. We needed volunteers to run the light.

We took off and did our usual Ash and Trash mission on the way to Tay Ninh. Usually this consisted of delivering mail, sometimes personnel, just returning from R and R or sick call, back to one or more of the Armored Cavalry Troops, in the field at their night Laager positions. This night we then proceeded on to Tay Ninh.

We landed and refueled then hovered over to the pad at the "TOC" next to the field. The pilots went in to get their mission briefing for the first portion of the night. The pilots came out and gave us a quick briefing about any friendlies in the area and told us we were going to go over near the Cambodian border along the river.

msrWe took off and flew out our fuel load and never saw anything. We went back to Tay Ninh and refueled and the pilots got a new briefing. Everything was just a repeat of the first mission except that we worked an area in the general direction of Cu Chi. With the same results. NOTHING. We returned to Tay Ninh and they got another briefing.

While they were doing this, the rest of the crew went to the Mess Hall for something to eat. The pilots joined us there. We got our briefing from them during dinner and returned to the aircraft. Took off this time for the area around Nui Ba Den. We knew that we could always find someone to come out and play, on that mountain. We knew where there were some caves, that the bad guys liked to hide in. So we flew by and fired a few rounds into the caves, almost always someone would come out to play.

This night we did everything we could think of to invite them out to play but no takers. We flew off the rest of our fuel load and went back to Tay Ninh. We refueled and rearmed what little ammo that we shot up into the caves. I do not to this day know where all of the bad guys went that night. When I think back on it I do not even remember seeing any Tracer Fire anywhere in view while flying.

This time the pilots went for their briefing, they were given a rout to fly back to Cu Chi, as Dawn Patrol. They used us as we were already out flying, so they did not have to use another bird for that. They could use the other bird for something else.

When I was there this mission was to fly possible Convoy routs and look for possible Ambush sites and or any suspected booby Traps along the road (buried roadside bombs), or at least evidence of someone digging along the roads.

It is a very bad thing to have a bored Night Hawk crew. We were accustomed to having a busy night playing with the bad guys and spoiling their plans for the evening. We were bored sick. As we flew back toward Cu Chi along the highway, Flying low and slow, so we could look, we came through some little village along the highway. (this was during the time of year that all of the Rice Paddy's are flooded). The road out of the village was built on top of, or formed to, the Rice Paddy Dike.

RicePaddyWe see a man, on a little Red Motor Cycle. He is probably going as fast as it will go. He is wearing a suit and Tie. He is leaning out over the handle bars of the bike, with his coat tails flying in the breeze and his tie is over his shoulder blowing also. We circle him a few times and cannot see any weapons at all. His eyes are about the size of Silver Dollars. He looks very scared. He is probably just a College Student or Business man on his way to school or work.

It was about 3 minutes before the end of Curfew for that area. In that area you also had to have permission to fire on anyone, unless you were fired upon. We knew that we would not get permission to fire this close to the end of Curfew.

As we came around from behind him, Steve Zorger ask me if I had any CS gas back there. I said yes, I did. He said well lets get his attention. Drop a gas grenade on him but do NOT hit him, with it. It is too much paperwork, if we hurt him here. So I directed Steve in on the target. I dropped the CS Gas. It went over his head and landed on the highway about 100 to 150 feet in front of him. It bounced and rolled down the center line of the Highway. He rode through the white cloud. He came out the other side still riding but weaving all over the road. He ended up riding off of the side of the road and into the Rice Paddy. It looked like a slow motion picture in a movie, where someone rides into the water. As he went up and between the road and the water he separated from the bike. They both landed with a splash. We continued to circle and watch.

He got up and fished out his bike. We could see that he was hollering something at us but of course could not hear him. He was also using sign language. I am not good at reading sign Language but I do not believe, that he was trying to tell us that we were NUMBER ONE G I. The last that we saw of him he was pushing his bike back toward the road. Still hollering and using sign language. We all got a good laugh out of this incident. But thinking about it latter. We probably helped the Viet Cong Recruiter meet his goal for the week. He was probably out humping Rockets that night.

Morale of the story: A bored Night Hawk crew is a bad thing!!