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War Stories

KIA MedEvac - May 67

Tom Fleming

Alpha and Delta Troops of the 3rd Squadron, 4th CAV, working with Co B, 4th Bn, 23rd Inf accounted for 17 enemy killed.

In May of 1967 the 3rd squadron 4th Cavalry (A Troop and D Troop (Air) working with Company B, 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry (Mohawk) conducted an operation against a Viet Cong Battalion which was operating in an area south of Trung Lap and North of Trang Bang. The sweep by this Armored, Air Cavalry, and mechanized force against the VC Battalion was written up in the May issue of Tropic Lighting news paper.

In this operation I was flying as Aircraft Commander of the troop Maintenance and Recovery helicopter named “Stable Boy”. One of our missions was to orbit and respond to calls for medical evacuation of casualties or one of our helicopters in trouble. As the units were sweeping forward I received a call that Mohawk needed a MedEvac and to contact the unit. Upon contact with the unit I was told they were in contact, but there was a LZ adjacent to where the individual was located. I could hear a lot of automatic weapons firing over the radio while the excited radio operator was talking to me. I told the unit to pop smoke at the pickup spot.

I descended to tree top level and headed directly to the smoke as fast as I could. A short distance from the smoke there was a loud explosion just behind the tail of the helicopter which pitched the tail up and nose down just about the point I was going to pop the nose of Stable Boy up, stand her on her tail and drop in to the hole in the jungle where the smoke was coming from. The crew thought that there was a mine set up in the trees in anticipation of an incoming helicopter. The initiation of the explosive was late because I was going faster than whoever it was judged.

Somehow I managed to stand Stable Boy on her tail, level her out and we plopped into the PZ.

When we landed we sat there for what seemed like forever awaiting the wounded with machinegun fire all around us. SFC Kelly the LRRP Medic who always flew with me hopped out and started a low crawl toward a M113 PC nearby (30 Meters) that was furiously firing his machine guns into the brush just ahead of him and near our helicopter. I called and told the unit to hurry up with the wounded. Their response was there were no wounded only a KIA and we should come over and get him. With that I told the door gunner on the side where SFC Kelly had started out from to motion him back. Kelly hopped in and I pulled pitch and got out of there.

The unit complained to me that I wouldn’t pick up the KIA and that his presence in a bag on top of the M113 was bad for moral. I forgot what I responded but it probably wasn’t very nice. I told our Troop Commander that there was no such thing as a KIA MedEvac when he asked what happened. He agreed.