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War Stories

The Last Mission - 28 Jan 1973

Brian "Stretch" Harrison

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StretchThe 11th Combat Aviation Group After Action Report for 28 January 1973 states:

1. Elements from F Troop 4th Cavalry engaged targets along the Son Tra River resulting in 30 enemy KBH. The contact terminated at 0755.

2. At 0800 hours all armed combat activities by the 11th Combat Aviation Group ceased due to the provisions of the unilateral ceasefire in the Republic of Vietnam.

On this last mission I was riding along as door gunner on slick # 16286 piloted by 1LT Dan Keirsey, his comments below:

"... I know we flew down to Chu Lai the night before. Slept where ever we could. Got up early and and flew out to an area adjacent to some firebase. Engaged large numbers of NVA attacking the firebase. Cobras using flechettes and mini gun. At exactly 0800 announcement on Guard frequency that the cease fire was in effect. All flew back to DaNang. Believe we popped smoke grenade tied to the skids in celebration. Afterwards we flew on up to Tan My and began the process of standing down our operations and heading home."


My Memories:

I remember us flying south quite a ways (longest mission I ever rode along on) and arriving around dusk, and volunteering to sleep in 286 to provide security. Wayne Moose said that most of the other troop members slept on cots in a large building. Wayne also remembers high tension lines near the building and seeing Cobras hovering underneath them.

moose Everyone was up at first light and flying (scattered, not tight pink team formation) along a river and surrounding area and over villages, and seeing South Vietnamese flags here and there. Around 0745 or so we started noticing NVA flags also, and eventually someone yelled “shoot” over the intercom or radio. I had 2,000 rounds for my M60 as did crew chief Bob Totten and in the next few minutes I fired approximately 1750 rounds (flying home later I remember being worried that I only had around 250 rounds remaining). I assume Bob Totten fired at least as much as I did, the crew chief being on the left side along with the A/C (aircraft commander) meant he saw more what the A/C saw and got first dibs on targets. The aircraft was often tilted left so the A/C could see the targets better. This meant the door gunner (on the right side) spent a lot of time looking up at the sky.

At the top of the hour I remember a big booming voice on the radio announcing “Cease Fire, The Unilateral Cease-Fire is now in effect…” and the Troop flying home after that. I don’t remember going to DaNang but maybe we did.

Wayne Moose flew with pilot David Broadnax within 10 miles (north) of My Lai that morning. Wayne didn’t fire his M60 at all.

Here’s a picture I took of Wayne that morning (with his camera) just before heading out:

 

budda

 

 

We flew home along the coast, and over the Hai Van Pass.

 

 

 

 

casketWe had been through cease-fires before but this one “held”. Here are some Scouts cutting up at Tan My:

goofing off

The Scouts also made a casket out of two footlockers and held a mock funeral...