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War Stories

Letter Home - 5 Sep 1967

Bruce Powell

Taking hits covering the slicks; Billy Vinson; Norm Clark; Harold Fisher; Jeff Halliday; TJ Lange; Wild ass return to target maneuver.

Seems like I have less and less time every day. The responsibility is tremendous....I'm a Team Leader now.....I have a million things, stories, experiences, to write about, but I'll have to take a whole day off to do it.

We got mortared last night. Nothing big; no one hurt too bad. Last week I took 3 hits covering the slicks on a troop drop. One went thru the tail fin, another smashed thru the sink elevator and the last one came thru the top of the cabin and almost got my pilot. Four slicks took hits, two men wounded. It was a real mess, but we got out of it. We called over 20 air strikes (Air force bombers) into the area.

CPT Vinson's feeling real good but they won't let him fly. We're down to 4 pilots this week. Two others are on R&R. (That's in our section). This means we fly every day and every night until our other two get back. The Heavy Weapons section is in about the same shape.

We haven't had the CMMI Inspection yet. In between Flights I either work on the generators (rewiring everything because of a fire we had 3 days ago) or in the Motor Pool office. They're giving the Motor Pool to another office here real soon (Yeah!) He will have 3 assistant officers to help him. (Wish they would have thought of that a long time ago).

I talked to Norm Clark last night. He sure had a swell time (on his visit to my home in Salem, OR). I'm so glad everything worked out to where you all had fun....I think he has a good chance of making SP5 (Sergeant) before too long. He's in charge of the EM (Enlisted Men) in the Heavy Weapons Section.

We escorted Henry Cabot Lodge and party from Saigon to Bau Tri a few days ago, to watch the elections. We flew continually up and down the MSR (Main Supply Route) between Cu Chi and Tay Ninh during Elections (3 Sept) to guard against VC terriorists. ……Will write more later. Bruce

This is a follow on based on some recharged 40 year old brain cells:

There is a possibility that this mission was just West of Cu Chi and that Harold Fisher was flying lead slick. If it was this mission, it was one of my first as Team Leader. Jeff "Doc" Halliday was my new pilot, Lange was the crewchief (462). I had briefed my crew that the fellow in lead ship often had problems and turned lead over to wing. That is why I liked to fly with him so I could get more Team Leader experience. I was extremely gung ho and told my crew if we became lead there would be none of this BS about breaking away from receiving fire. If we receive fire we will roll directly into it and take the bastards out. Doc was new, Lange was invincible, but not sure about the gunner. They were all pumped up "Yeah, let's do it!"

The lead ship called with some problem, radios or something; we took lead. The LZ turned hot as we were pulling out of our first pass covering the slicks and beginning to climb to our daisy chain cover. Lange yelled "Receiving fire Left Rear". Doc pulled a high power hammer head left, turning and twisting on a dime and began the attack. The turn was beyond vertical. I called wing and said "Cover Me!" Don't remember where he was or what he did. Just was glad that he wasn't in our way. I also don't remember how we got the airstrikes in there so fast, but it was beautiful.

We didn't know it at the time but we had taken a hit in the roof. Lange didn't find it until a few days later when it rained. Water was dripping on the center console between the pilot and copilot. It was hard to believe that we were so steep in that turn that the round entry was nearly 90 degrees to the roof. This means Doc had us in about a 125 degree bank (180 degrees would be totally upside down)!

Somehow it had went through the rotor system near the mast without hitting either of the rotating blades, made it through the roof and must have dropped to the console. We never did find the bullet.

It baffles me how Lange was able to not fall out of the aircraft. I learned with later experience the full power of G force to firmly hold objects and people in place.

Lange was peppering the target with his M60 as we came out of the circus maneuver. We were already to low to fire many rockets, but Doc got a good salvo off and I was hosing the target with mini-gun. We didn't touch the ground but it was close; something about flying through dirt, rocks and debre from the rocket explosions. I can only imagine what the VC were doing, but we were not getting any more fire. Neither were the slicks. Years later when I thought of this mission I pictured little black pajamaed VC dropping their weapons and diving for their tunnels. Then chuckling to myself thinking that I bet some of those turkeys never shot at a Centaur again.

I don't recall if the Aerorifles were inserted or were able to stay on the slicks and get out. But the Slicks got out and seemed to be damn happy that they had those crazy bastards covering them that day.

I talked to Major Fisher later in the company area and he said something to the effect that he had never seen cover like that and we were welcome to cover him anytime. His comments meant more to me than an award. I think Doc and Lange felt the same. Boy, that whole thing was an off the scale adrenaline rush.


Help me out here guys. I would like to know how much of this is true and how much is just my very active and creative subconcesious.

Jeff "Doc" Halliday, do you remember any of this?
Who was the gunner?
Who were the crewmembers on wing?
Do any of the Slick crews besides Major Fisher remember this?