Here are a few stories submitted by some of our guys. I hope you enjoy the stories and will submit a story of your own.
"Borrowed Time... small world"
A Shau Battle My firearms instructor is a USMC Vietnam vet. While having coffee recently, the conversation drifted to "The Nam". This was very rare. It turned out that we were there during the same tour. To make it more interesting, we both should have died at the same time, same place, same day. We never met. Me? When I traded places with Mr. Pearson. That morning Mr.Pearson's Cobra was hit and there were no survivors. I was supposed to be in that seat. Some things will never be forgotten. At approximately the same time, my instructor was returning from patrol all night, and was assigned to an LP. That assignment was over-turned by his E9. Shortly thereafter the LP was over-run . . . there were no survivors. Small world . . .
by: Mel Walker - May 30, 2014
"Shot Down by a Laundry Bag"
In August of 1969, we hadn't seen a lot of action so I made the mistake of accepting Johnny Applegath's invite to go fly with him. From the first light mission we seemed to take fire everywhere we went.
We had just left a mountainside where we had to drop smokes to a unit that was pinned down. Our first pass, I looked out parallel to me and saw a rifle pointed at us from a cave as I dropped the smokes. We managed to take only a few hits in the skids and landed at the bottom of the hill to check damage. We were going to make another pass and I suggested to Johnny that we come in from another direction, but he didn't like that idea. So I made sure I tossed the smokes a little faster this time.
We left that location and were heading back to hill 29, low on fuel and with some new holes in the aircraft, when a Cobra flown by WO1 Rosenow was shot down by a 50cal. We flew over the crash site to check it out and realized that there was nothing that could be done.
As we departed that location, there was a loud bang as our tail rotor decided to depart the aircraft. Naturally we figured the 50 got it. Johnny put it in autorotation and we landed with just bent skids and no tail boom.
Now, I'll regress to the beginning of the flight. Anyone that knew Johnny, knew how much he liked his mini-gun and he wanted to keep it covered from dust. His instructions to me in event of a mission, were to untie the aircraft while he took the Laundry bag off the gun. Sounded like a good plan to me at the time. Once the aircraft was slung back to Hill 29, we walked down to look at the damange and on the way back to the bunker, we both turned to each other and asked about the same time if either of had noticed the Laundry bag.
If I ever see Johnny again, I'd like to give him a possible replica of that 50. It's green and made of cloth.
by: John Bosch - March 16, 2016
"Up in Smoke"
Soon after arriving at Marble Mountain in late ’71, several Rangers were added to our platoon and along with them came their hootch maid. I must admit she was hell on wheels and cussed like a sailor but she kept us looking strac.
During the spring when refugees flooded Da Nang she began bringing two young refugee sisters, one 8 and the other 11 to “help her” but of course we all pitched in and they were paid enough to feed their family.
Then it happened. One of the MP’s who had refused to move from the two hootches next to the Blues came out while the little girl was filling a tub of wash water and just kicked it in her face. Wrong move!
That afternoon we planned a CS attack on their hootches and I was thinking a couple of canisters. Oh hell no, the Blues always outdid themselves. I blew the whistle and all hell breaks loose and Blues are tossing in 5 – 6 canisters each and screaming like Indians on the war path.
Attack over and I ran away and looked back. Holly Cow, a huge cloud of CS was rising 200 feet in the air and beginning to drift towards the CQ and the NCO club next door. Next thing I saw was the CO walking on his hands and knees, snot dragging on the ground, being led by a blinded XO, straight into a piss pipe.
Then here come all the drunk NCO’s stumbling through the clouds of gas gasping for breath while trying to cover their eyes with one arm and feeling in front of them with the other arm. I suddenly had a bad feeling of impeding doom then remembered the Blues mantra “What can they do to us, send us to Nam”. Yep, hard to get much lower than a grunt in Nam.
The MP’s moved out that night and the CO only said he was glad they were gone and the Blues celebrated like we did every night and got drunk.
by: Ken Tomlinson - March 13, 2018
Several Blues had appropriated a couple of cases of steaks from the mess hall during the night and they were not the typical steaks served by the mess hall once a week, but really nice steaks. The next afternoon we rigged up a makeshift BBQ next to our hootches and began cooking. About that time the CO walked by and began chatting. We asked if he would like to have a steak with us and he walked over and the second he saw the steaks his face became very stern and shouted out “Those are my f****** steaks”. Again we asked him if he would like to join us and he walked away just shaking his head.
by: Ken Tomlinson - March 13, 2018
For some reason the little PX’s in ’72 seemed to not be able to stock the basics such as soap but almost every week they would be loaded up on some kind of toy and sold them very cheap. Several of us went in one day and they had kids archery sets for sale for a dollar so we stocked up and a few days later went out to the empty parking area behind the Troop area and began shooting a few arrows which in about 30 seconds became quite boring.
I suggested that we could remove the bullet from and M-60 round and place it on the tip of the arrow, shoot it up and watch it explode a safe distance away. It took a few tries and finally taped a small stone over the primer and lo and behold it worked.
Again, the Blues were never ones to be outdone and the arrows finally evolved till we produced one with a .50 cal round taped to the tip, half full of gunpowder and the rest with C-4. Not to be outdone we also taped about a quarter pound of C-4 around the shell.
About the time we were going to launch the armed arrow along came a guy, lets call him “Fred”. Everyone liked Fred but there was no doubt he had been hit hard in the head a few times and always had this puzzled look on his face.
Anyway, Fred asks “Whatcha doing?” and we explained everything to him and he asked if he could try it. Since we were down to our last arrow we said sure. Big mistake!
Fred took the bow and we set up the arrow and he raised the arrow to the proper trajectory but sudden leaned back and shot the arrow straight up!
I can still remember that very second as the arrow hit a commo line right above us and things went into slow motion. As I turned to run I was looking up and remember the arrow beginning to turn heavy side down. That is when I made an enemy, at least for awhile. There was a guy in front of me running and I grabbed his shoulder and used my arm to propel myself in front of him.
Somehow in the couple of seconds before the arrow landed everyone except Fred had found cover.
Thankfully the shell missed Fred and never exploded. We all then agreed it was time for a few beers and the game was over.
by: Ken Tomlinson - March 13, 2018
"John Wayne ?"
Probably around Nov 1969. We left our AO and were returning to Chu Lai for refueling, flying fast and low just above the TraBong River. While sitting in the back with a hot 60, relaxing and probably listening to some Jimi Hendrix, I thought i spotted someone hiding in the shrubs that lined the side of the river.
We didn't have time to investigate, but talked about checking it out on our way back to our AO after refueling.
When we returned to the site, it didn't take long to find the same guy crawling around in the low bushes. He seemed to be a village kid, no more that 15 years old. He looked like he was playing his own little game and we couldn't help but think he may have had some mental issues. He wasn't scared, quite animated, and always had a big grin on his face. He began walking down a path when we got word that a Huey was going to snatch him up for questioning. As we attempted to keep stationary, the pilot used the skid to block his path. An occasional bump to the mid section didn't keep this guy from trying to move ahead. He simply dipped under or went around the skid and continued on his way. We were getting frustrated. Figured that maybe a blast from my M-60, kicking up some dirt in front of him, might scare him into stopping. Instead, it wasn't a deterrent at all... he just smiled, waved and kept walking. We were close enough that I could yell at him to stop, but he wasn't having anything to do with this. I took out my Colt 45 pistol and waved it in front of him. Still, he marched on. I was told to take a shot at the path directly in front of him and I squeezed off a couple rounds. Oh, my gosh! What happened? The guy took his hands and pressed them tight to his chest. Stood there for a few seconds, then spun around dramatically and fell into a heap in the dirt. My heart was pounding and the pilot was furious with me, thinking I shot this guy. Didn't know what to do, but I assured him, I wasn't even close.
With the guy laying on the ground, we became confused and concerned. Then, I saw his eyes open up to see what we were doing.
Before the Huey arrived, he rose to his feet, still smiling and once again began his march. It was at this time, we realized he was doing a little acting. He took the John Wayne movie slogan, "Got Me", and fell to the ground. Academy award winner.
by: Mike Gustin - March 17, 2022