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War Stories

Working With Sabre Alpha - May 1967

Bruce Powell

Audio story of flying support for A Troop in the field. Transcribed text can be scrolled as audio is listened to.


Summary of things mentioned: A Troop, Lt Appler and Cpt Strickland; Lt Julian FO; Sabre Alpha 65 Beocki; Centaur 12 now; 12 May actions.

On the 11th and the 12th of May, I worked with Sabre Alpha (that’s Alpha troop), Sabre Alpha 6, Cpt. Strickland (he’s getting to be a short timer--that’s a guy that doesn’t have much time left before he goes home) and Lt. Appler, who’s also a short timer. I’ve really gotten to know these guys. They’re really a great group. Just thought I’d take the rest of this tape and tell you about my experiences with them.

They moved out into an area out there on the perimeter, about 2000 meters out, and it’s a rubber plantation called the "Filhol". The upper end of the Filhol is the Hobo Woods, and above that Boi Loi Woods. You’ve probably read about them in the newspapers. There’s been a lot of action in them.

Well, anyway, the Filhol woods (Plantation not woods) is where we’ve been receiving most of our mortar fire, so they made a big sweep, search and destroy mission out there. When they go out to make a sweep, usually Sabre Alpha Six Cpt. Strickland or Sabre Alpha 5, Lt. Appler, flies in my ship with me, along with their forward observer (artillery observer)--this is Lt. Julian. He’s a real wild character.

I usually fly overhead, and Lt. Appler usually will direct the tanks and get them to their right coordinates to set up for the night or conduct a sweep. What he has is, in effect, it’s a company-sized unit with three platoons, and each platoon has a lieutenant leading it. Each platoon has several tanks and quite a few armored personnel carriers. They have mortars in their armored personnel carriers with 50 calibers mounted on them, and then of course the tanks have the big 90 mm weapons. They carry a lot of ordinance. When I say ordinance, I mean ammunition and firepower.

Cmd Post
The controlling station is Sabre Alpha 65, and of course we all know each other by our call signs even more than our own names. I can’t think of his rank, but this enlisted man, his name is Beocki, he’s Sabre Alpha 65. He’s a real great guy. He’s small, a skinny little guy, good looking, and I really enjoy him.

Anyway, how I get to know these guys is I’ll fly them around in one of these operations, and then when they get to an area where they’re going to stay for awhile, they’ll circle like in olden-times, you know, like covered wagons make a big circle. The only difference is they all face their vehicles outward and all their weapons outward, and then the two or three command vehicles in the center will back up to each other and lower their tailgates and make kind of an operating center there. They have a controlling radio going to each platoon. Each platoon has their own frequency, and then Alpha troop itself has a frequency. They all know Centaur 12—that’s me—and I really enjoy it.

Well, it’s kind of hard to explain the way it is. I fly the little bubble, as they call it, and I come out to them, I bring their mail out to them, and whenever I have any spare time, I take some of the people up and show them what it looks like up in the air, and they take the platoon leaders up and they recon for ambushes that they’re going to set up in the evenings. You get to know them real well, and it’s really great, you know, to have people like this, and when you’re not flying out there to have them ask about you and everything. I get a kick out of it. The only reason I’ll regret leaving OH23's for gunships is the comradeship I’ve had among these people.

[end of audio]

Dictated by: Bruce Powell, Scout and Gun Pilot, D Troop 3/4 Cav (67-68).
Transcriptionist’s note: This document was typed verbatim from the recorded audio. Grammar was not corrected (is/was/were, laying/lying, etc.).