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War Stories

The Joint Military Commission JCS - 1973

Brian "Stretch" Harrison, Wayne Moose and Dennis Hogan (also see Hogan Slide Show)

From The 11th CAG After Action Report:

"15 February 1973: The Morning Reports of F Troop, 4th Cavalry and D Troop 17th Cavalry were zeroed. All of the personnel from these units had been either shipped out of country, transferred to the Joint Military Commission or the ICCS, or assigned to the HQ 11th CAG."

From Brian Harrison:
A handful of F/4 pilots and crew chiefs volunteered for and were chosen to fly for the Four Party Joint Military Commission (JMC) or International Commission of Control and Supervision (ICCS). The rest of us with time left to serve in-country moved to DaNang as part of HQ 11th CAG. At DaNang I pulled security at night in the towers and during the day at a back gate not far from a concrete water tower.

We also heard that a number of our pilots refused to volunteer.

By this date our F/4 Cobras and Loaches had been prepared for shipment back to the U.S. via South Korea. All of our Hueys were de-armed and most were quickly transferred to the 1st VNAF (South Vietnamese Air Force) but one or two were held back to be used for the JMC and ICCS. These Hueys were initially painted similar to the Allied aircraft paint scheme of the WWII D-Day invasion. At Tan My I watched as one of our remaining Hueys was hand-painted with white stripes by a couple of crew chiefs.

 

From Wayne Moose:
I took this picture of a white-striped Huey at DaNang on 29 March 1973 from the window of my freedom bird

 

Soon afterwards we heard through the grapevine that the white stripes were deemed inappropriate - too much like surrender - and different colors had been chosen, one for each Military Region (1-4). Here are Joint Military Commission delegates at DaNang late March wearing orange “4” armbands:

 

From Dennis Hogan:

The NVA referred to themselves as the DRV (Democratic Republic of Vietnam). The VC were called the PRG (Provisional Revolutionary Government).

The post ceasefire drawdown was as follows with X representing 28 Jan 1973:
X+15 all combat troops
X+30 all direct combat support
X+45 all other support troops
X+60 all US JMC & ICCS personnel 

After X+60 the only US personnel left in country were to be embassy folks and civilian contractors, including Air America.

The JMC missions were to fly U.S., South Vietnamese, NVA, and VC military representatives around the country to facilitate the upcoming exchange of all POWs and later to watch the activities at the release points.

The ICCS missions were to monitor cease-fire violations around the country and these continued after 28 March 1973. The ICCS delegates were from Poland, Hungary, Canada and Indonesia - by design two communist and two pro-Western countries.

Here is a Polish representative of the ICCS at Vinh Long Vietnam in 1973:

 

CW2 David Broadnax of the F/4 Scouts (standing at the far left below) was wounded in the leg while piloting a ICCS flight out of Hoi An in March. see photo in Terry Young Album #17 of 21

Also, two ICCS Hueys operated by Air America were shot down and one of these lost with no survivors in the vicinity of Quang Tri on 7 April 1973.

To the best of my recollection the following F troopers also served in the JMC I Corp detachment:
CPT Barry Penzel, CPT Joe Bowen, WO1 Dave Scarborough, CW2 Rennie Funderburke, Mr. Malloy (no 1st name), 1LT Rusty Ray

Bowen and Malloy were shot down between DaNang and Hue on the last day of JMC flight ops (27 March 1973) while flying to turn in their Huey. We had already turned the rest of our JMC Hueys over to VNAF but Scarborough swiped one anyway and flew up to get them. Bowen and crew were mostly OK (minor cuts and bruises) and were able to board their freedom bird the next morning.

MAJ John P. “Jack” Kennedy was F/8 CO during the 1972 Easter Offensive and afterwards transitioned to 11th CAG as S-3 in October 1972 after F/8 moved from DaNang down to Bien Hoa.

(photo on the right is MAJ Kennedy showing Huey to VC)

He was my student at Ft. Rucker during the pre-solo primary phase of the Rotary Wing Qualification Course (RWQC) before deploying to Vietnam to take command of F/8. When he was selected to command the JMC flight detachment he called to see if I would volunteer for the JMC and be his pilot. The inducement to volunteer was a choice of any assignment anywhere in the world when it was all over (I chose Hawaii). The detachment was split between DaNang and Hue with CPT Barry Penzel in charge of the DaNang contingent and CPT Joe Bowen in charge of Hue. If Major Kennedy was not chosen to fly on any particular day, I split my time between both. My quarters were actually at Camp Swampy DaNang.

The JMC aircraft were selected from the various 11th CAG units, basically the Hueys with the lowest hours. I believe their crew chiefs were given the opportunity to volunteer with the same inducement of future assignment. If they declined another was chosen to crew the aircraft. I'm sorry but I can't recall names.

We flew JMC missions into Duc Pho, Quang Tri, Tam Ky, and Tra My among other places. Unfortunately my daily journal from the JMC stint did not survive my first marriage. Also I had given ten rolls of film to a UPI journalist who was embedded with our team in DaNang. He promised to get them developed for me. That was the last time I saw of him or my pics. I wrote an article for the VHPA news letter back in the nineties which covered a lot of the JMC stuff but not sure how to get my hands on that.

photos: CW2 Dennis Hogan and JMC Huey at Tra My

On the Tra My mission, we flew to a VC Command post. The mission was to pick up a VC major who had been chosen to be a JMC delegate. We were there for several hours including a lunch and ground tour of the area. The old VC major told us through our interpreter that he had fought at Dien Bien Phu with the Viet Minh against the French. He said he had been up-and-down the Ho Chi Minh Trail so many times that he was nearly deaf from all of the B52 strikes.

During lunch the VC major gave each of us a beautiful handmade card with embroidery on the front and stamped “Made in Hanoi” on the back. Our interpreter told us that we should give him something in return so the only thing I had was a one dollar greenback which I signed and gave him.

At lunch I sat beside a VC lieutenant who spoke excellent English and told me he had graduated from MIT. I gave him an old Shell Oil billfold calendar and a little bit later, just as we were pulling pitch to depart he ran up and handed me a little booklet of Ho Chi Minh sayings. In the booklet he wrote the following:

To Pilot Hogan: Peace is goal of all Vietnamese people. Signed 1LT Be

Photo: L - R: MAJ Jack Kennedy, CPT Daniels, unknown, LT. Be, CW2 Dennis Hogan

1LT Be was later identified as a POW interrogator from our lunch photos and the little booklet. I was also given a pack of cigarettes marked “Made in Hanoi”. I donated these items to the U.S. Army Aviation Museum at Ft. Rucker.

After lunch the VC major finally told us he would not be ready to go to DaNang for at least another two weeks so we would have to schedule another pickup. But as long as we were here, he said he would love a helicopter ride since he had been shot at by helicopters so many times. I took him for a short ride in the right seat.

When we got back to DaNang, our interpreter laughingly told us that the old boy really just wanted to check out his camouflage positions around his HQ. We never did go back to pick him up and were told later that he had passed away from natural causes.

Photo: The old Major on the right

Major Kennedy and I stayed in contact over the years but unfortunately he passed a few years ago.
 
During all of our JMC missions we found the VC to be very respectful but the NVA always seemed to be a bunch of arrogant pricks.

 

Major Kennedy and I also flew out to a VC command post west of Tam Ky in late February. The VC marked their LZs with a large white “X”. This was an initial visit with local delegates from DaNang in preparation for a later visit by delegates from Saigon. see photo to left

About a week later WO Orion (Tom) King and I flew to Tam Ky again to pick up the Saigon delegates and head west the 2nd time to the command post. We were single ship and when we arrived over the command post the white X was no longer visible. One of the VC delegates tapped me on the helmet and pointed down and said land. When we were on short final we began taking fire and immediately headed for the deck to evade. Once we were clear of bad guy land we went back to altitude and headed back to Tam Ky.

After we landed the VC and NVA moved off on their own and damn near got in a fist fight. The crew chief told me that there had been utter chaos in the back of the Huey when the shooting started and that one of the delegates had done his best to hide behind him. The only thing that any of us were allowed to carry was a sidearm. But the crew chief had an M16 hidden up in the soundproofing. I guess he was trying to get to it but fortunately was unable because the VC guy was holding on to him so tight trying to hide. In retrospect I guess it was probably my fault for trying to land in an unmarked LZ but since we had been there before and I knew exactly where the LZ was and the VC guy said to land. After the VC and NVA finish their squabbling they re-boarded their Huey and headed back to Saigon. We never attempted to go back out there again.

Dave Scarborough and I were to fly ICCS and JMC delegates first to Quang Tri to view POW release and then afterwards up to Dong Ha (this was the mission where we kept an eye out for Mr. Wilson’s Huey crash site - see SAR Mission story). Dave's aircraft was carrying the ICCS guys and I had the JMC guys. We arrived at Quang Tri fairly early in the morning and loaded into a boat to travel across the river to meet with the NVA. The prisoner exchanges had been going on for a couple of weeks… they would load a boat of VC POWs on the south side and a boatload of the same number of South Vietnamese POWs on the north side. There was a cable stretched across the river and the boats would pull themselves across, unload and prepare to take another group back the other way. The VC would dress all of the South Vietnamese POWs in VC uniforms complete with pith helmets and the South Vietnamese would dress the VC POWs in South Vietnamese uniforms. When the boats got to the middle of the river both sides would strip off all of the clothing except their skivvies. The river was flowing with uniforms all the way out to the South China Sea.

Here are two pictures of the Prisoner Exchange at Quang Tri. The South Vietnamese were on one side of the river and the NVA and VC on the other. POWs were exchanged by boat:

When Dave and I got to the NVA side of the river we were met by a very arrogant NVA officer who proceeded to jerk us around until about 4:00 p.m. before they would clear us to take the delegates on to Dong Ha. Our guess was they were trying to hide stuff located along the highway so the delegates would not see any of it. By the time we landed at the site in Dong Ha it was getting pretty late. The delegates all disappeared in jeeps heading off into the jungle. Dave and I were left with the two aircraft. It began to get dark and we were trying to raise our operations on the radio to figure out what we should be doing but of course since we were sitting on the ground we couldn't make any contact. At one point we thought maybe we should take one of the aircraft up to altitude and try to contact them. We were pretty heavily guarded by a bunch of NVA so decided that probably was not a good idea. The delegates eventually rolled back in around 7:00 p.m. and off we went. The problem was we were told not to stray off Hwy 1 which was completely blacked out and once again we were being painted by the AAA radar as soon as we lifted off. It was a pretty tense trip but obviously we made it okay.


Mr. Rich Neely was one of the D/17 pilots who flew with the JMC. Here is a photo of his aircraft being surrounded by protesting civilians during a mission to Duc Pho:

 

1LT Dixon, 1LT Steimle, WO1 King, SP5 Daugherty and SP5 Don Hauschild from the 62nd Assault Helicopter Company (Royal Coachmen) also flew as part of the JMC - see VHPA Museum page

 

From Brian Harrison:
A group of JMC representatives were on the tarmac watching as I boarded my freedom bird on 28 March 1973 at DaNang. After everyone was seated and right before the doors closed a NVA wearing his pith helmet with red star boarded the aircraft accompanied by a U.S. Army officer and they both stood in the door and looked into the main cabin…there was a loud roar from the 200+ GIs on board and I thought some of the guys were going to come out of their seats.