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War Stories

Letter Home - 13 Feb 1967

Bruce Powell

Telling about my assignment and some things about the troop.

Sorry for not getting a letter off sooner. I'm stationed at Cu Chi. My unit is "D Troop, 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry." We're attached to the 25th Infantry Division. It's a good unit. We're the Strike Force for the Division, under direct control of the Division Commander General Weyland. I'll tell you more later. There's a lot more to tell too! This unit's history dates clear back to Bull Run. (Remember "MacKenzie's Raiders"; they were 4th Cav.)

I'm a First Lieutenant as of tomorrow morning. Retroactive to 30 Jan 67.

D Troop has slicks, gunships, and OH-23's; so before a year is up I will have tried my hand at every type of chopper flying and every type of combat mission. I'm flying OH-23's right now. (For a month or so, until I get use to the area). The OH-23 is the small one that I flew at Ft Wolters. Capt Sanders is my IP while I'm in the "Light Scouts" (That's the group that flys the OH-23's). He took me up yesterday for an hour or so to check me out. Boy is it hard to transition back to the small choppers. He released me for solo after that flight. I couldn't believe it! I figured I'd get several weeks to learn more about radio call sighs, frequencies, check points, mine fields, unsecured areas, etc. I guess I will but it will be solo.

My first mission was this morning. I flew wingman for Capt Stephans on the "Dawn Patrol". We flew from Cu Chi to Tay Ninh and back along the Cambodian border. We have to park in bunkers (sandbags stacked about 5 feet high in a horseshoe shape). It's hard to get use to. I had two passengers with me on the first mission (a forward observer and a rifleman). I was glad to get back. It's hard enough to fly solo with a flack vest and 45 pistol strapped on. But when they cram 2 more people in with you on your first flight! Oh well, that's over.

I stepped out of that chopper and Warrant Officer Basset was waiting for me to fly copilot with him on a "C & C South" (cover and control mission for the convoy from Cu Chi South to Saigon). the commander of the the convoy rides with us in the left seat to control the convoy. (usually 20 to 40 trucks). We landed in Saigon at Tan Son Nhut Airfield and played slot machines for a while. (just like Reno. Ha!) They have nickel and dime machines in all the officers clubs, (Great! Lost $5.00 already).

We picked up the next convoy about 45 minutes later and escorted them to Cu Chi. I ate lunch and then reported to operation. "OK, Powell take these two MP's with you (Military Police Officers) and fly the afternoon C & C South." Off we went. I was nervous because his was my first mission as a single ship. One of the MP's was a Lt (Lt Cooney) who flew from San Francisco with me. It was his first ride in a chopper. It got a little windy for a while. In 30 minutes I go up again to cover the convoy's return from Saigon. (I'm starting to get tired).

If it will make you feel any better this outfit has never lost a pilot in Vietnam in the one year they have been here. They have had some wounded but nothing bad. The area I'm flying is pretty safe. Ethan Norris and 5 others are one block from me in A Company, 25th Aviation Battalion. Buck Buxton (Ethan's roommate in flight school, is bunking next to me here at "D Troop." It's like old home week. so far the whole trip has been a blast. I mean completely enjoyable. Food's good. Morale is high, housing is good enough,; It's hotter than hell, got a sunburn already, lot's of mosquitoes, but they are thinning out. This is just about the best, safest, and most enjoyable assignment possible in Vietnam!!