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War Stories

Talley, Izzy and the Tree

Jim Walt

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I flew as an observer for 1LT Terry Talley many times. A very nice guy. My favorite Talley story is this. We were low level in a B52 bombed area somewhere in the Iron Triangle.

ironTriangleI know many of you will well remember those B52 devastated areas. Everything was blasted away, with totally denuded broken tree trunks and shrubs everywhere. My job was watching left. Our crew chief, a wiry take-no-prisoners Texas boy named Izzy, covered the right. The pilot was, of course, supposed to fly the damn helicopter, straight ahead. Well, Talley liked to watch out the right side, a lot. Far too much a lot.

As we were buzzing along at about 75 knots 30 feet off the deck, I suddenly hear Iggy fire his M60. I jerk my head to the front, just in time to see a huge 3 foot wide 50 foot tall tree trunk approaching head on! Talley had just enough time to crank the Loach VERY hard right. We kissed the trunk with the left skid. Pucker Factor 15.

Izzy would later tell us that he had, for some strange reason, looked up and ahead on our flight path and saw the tree trunk we were speedily trying to merge with. He only had time to pull his finger on the M60 as our warning.

After the "Kiss of Near Death," there is an adrenaline soaked silence for about 45 seconds, as we all adjust to the fact that we nearly bought the farm from a VC tree. And then, Izzy keys his mike and goes on an EPIC spit flying invective and swearing rant, loudly directed at Talley. I mean, EPIC. And looooong. Iggy eventually calmed down enough to stop yelling and hyperventilating. After another 30 seconds of silence, Talley keys his mike, and slowly, with a hint of a smile in his charmingly modulated and calm Tenn. accented voice says, "Now Izzy, you know, as an enlisted man, you're really not suppose to swear at an Army Aviation Officer like that."