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War Stories

Downed chopper saved from Marauding Cong - 1 Jul 1966



Vol 1 - No 18 - 1 July 1966

see also Hometown News Article

"An outstanding job," said Major General Fred C. Weyand, division commander, in commending 2nd Lieutenant John F. Alto, of Seaside, Ore.The pat on the back came after Lt. Alto's unit, the aero rifle platoon in 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry, rescued a downed helicopter 25 miles northwest of Saigon near the Iron Triangle.

The mission started when a CH-47 (Chinook) helicopter, on a reconnaissance mission, took a round of enemy fire in its oil system and was forced to land in a clearing in Viet Cong territory.

The rescue job was given to the men of the aero rifle platoon, a unit experienced in rescue under fire. Forty minutes later, four choppers from D Troop, 3/4 Cav., had airlifted 30 men of the platoon to secure the area. Meanwhile, the original distress call brought Air Force jets in to pound nearby enemy positions with bombs and napalm. Gun ships from D Trp supplied protection from the air in shifts as they machine-gunned the VC that were closing in on the crippled ship. Parts were called for from Saigon, and rescue choppers evacuated the passenger's of the Chinook to Cu Chi.

During the afternoon, the platoon was resupplied with ammunition to sustain their harassing fire, keeping the enemy away from the area.

By five o'clock, the new parts were in place and fresh oil added to replace that which had sprayed the interior and passengers. The big ship was given a final check before it lifted to fly again another day.


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