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"AAR" :: Archived
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JG300-Ascout
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PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2005 8:12 am
Post subject: "AAR"

"After Action Report". Way after. Oral history from my former cmdr. (CO of an Air Cav Sqdn., now deceased) as transcribed by his daughter. I deleted the names because some are principals in another story I'm debating whether or not to relate.
___________________________________________________________


Hi (“Ascout�);
Don't be too amazed by my depth of recollection - I have to refresh my
memory with audio tapes and notes I made during conversations with my
father. Like I said, I got it in my head at one time to write a book, so I interviewed him. Unfortunately, he became so sick that there are details on the audio tapes that are missing. He tried very hard to help me understand everything, but there are some gaps. For example, it took me quite awhile to determine that the incident at Hickory Hill happened in 1971 - for some reason I had it in my head it happened in 1968, but I couldn't figure out why Maj. ------ was there! It takes some time, but it starts to make some sense.

I just looked back at my transcript of one of the tapes and there is mention of a Maj. -----2 during the incident in Laos, so it must be the same guy. Dad didn't say anything negative about -----2, though - here are his words:

"The aircraft went down; they'd shot him down. He went down and he hit the ground real hard. Only one guy got out of the aircraft; there was four in it, the Lt. Col., his co-pilot, the door-gunner and the crew chief. The Crew Chief is the only on that got out. The aircraft hit the ground and the Crew Chief said the Lt. Col. was decapitated on impact. Part of the windshield or part of the aircraft came apart and took his head off. The other guy was hit; and part of his head was shot off, the co-pilot. The door gunner was in the aircraft, but he had been hit apparently too. Blood was all over the place, according to the Crew Chief. Maj. ----- and his people were there, and I was there within 30 seconds to a minute behind them. They hit an area that was as wide as Brown's yard over there. The thing was burning as it went down, it hit the ground and the one guy got out and started running. Maj. -----2 yelled at his gun birds, "cover me" and he
was the one that went in and picked him up. I came in behind him. I don't remember how many hits ------ took, seems like 20-30 hits, and he snatched the guy on the run. He came in, hesitated by him, the guy dove into the aircraft, and he never even touched the ground. He had a gun team on each side of him firing like crazy trying to cover him and get him out of there, and he still got hit 20-30 times. He got the one guy out; nobody else got out of that aircraft. It burned to a pile of ashes. It was an open area, so you'd seen anyone else leaving. And we asked the crew chief, and he said, "No, they're all dead". He said he didn't know about the door gunner, said he was either dead or unconscious. He was actually thrown out of the aircraft on impact himself. But he was still conscious, and he jumped up and started running. He wouldn't have lived either, if he hadn't."

It truly is an amazing story - and absolutely so unbelievable the things people do. I guess they are the ones that have to live with themselves and look in the mirror each day.

I'd love to see your pictures - and when we get out that way, we'll look you up. Our kids live in Aliso Viejo, so we get out there at least once a year. Also, we have some friends that live in Carlsbad. I don't think San Diego is too far from there. My mother has most of Dad's pictures - he put them from her next time we get together - I wish we'd started our "conversation" earlier - she was just here for Christmas, I could have asked her to bring them.
___________________________________________________________

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JG300-Dan736
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PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2005 2:21 pm
Post subject: Re: "AAR"

Thats quite an intense storie Ascout,thanks for sharing and I hope that you are able to help her with a successful book.

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JG300-Ascout
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PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2005 4:51 pm
Post subject: Re: "AAR"

Believe me, it gets more intense. Some of what happened later almost defies belief, but I was there and know it to be true. Regrettably, it culminates in the relief of two field grade officers (unjustifiably, and this was later reversed), reflects VERY poorly on more than one general officer, and some of the main characters are still living....one of them a judge. One must tread VERY lightly with regard to the narrative...and identities have to be protected. I'm not sure if it can be done, but I'm working on it. (Just the story...not a book...I don't think that will ever happen, for reasons just described).

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CrashEd
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PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2005 5:15 pm
Post subject: Re: "AAR"

Caint wait to read more! thanks for shareing.

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JG300-Stoopy
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PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2005 5:47 am
Post subject: Re: "AAR"

OK I'll bite.......is this right so far.....

At this point Maj. ----2 sounds like he has tons of guts and definitely has his sh%% together, swooping down in there under fire and pulling the lone surviving Crew Chief out.... Crew Chief was a lucky fellow indeed to have been thrown clear AND be able to have his wits about him to get up and start running. So far so good.

But now, is "Maj.---- and his people" who were there, are they still on the ground, in the bush, or waiting to get picked up? Sounds like this place (LZ presumably?) is crawling....and any word, later, on the door gunner who could have just been unconscious? The Crew Chief has a lot of detail about what happened inside the helo when it impacted, even though he was thrown clear and got away from the wreck pretty fast.

Trying to be careful here but awful hard not to ask.......

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JG300-Ascout
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PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2005 6:04 am
Post subject: Re: "AAR"

Stoopy...
Nobody is left on the ground except for the three KIA...a LTC, his co-pilot, and a door gunner. Same Major in both references, the first one to some "pre-history". Yes, ton's o' guts....Troop CO and a principle Cav Troop in Lam Son 719. Unusual rank for a Troop CO (most often, a captain).

The door gunner is "presumed" dead, since he was unresponsive but not examined...and in any case, attempted rescue was clearly out of the question. Nobody could have been inserted to find out at the moment and the A/C then burned to ash.

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JG300-Stoopy
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PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2005 6:14 am
Post subject: Re: "AAR"

Thanks. Certainly not trying to second-guess anything here, but since it sounds (from your comments) like there's quite a bit more to the story, am just wondering where it stems from. The Crew Chief has a lot of detail about what happened inside the helo when it impacted, even though he was thrown clear on impact and jumped up running... well who the heck wouldn't.

BTW just finished reading a paperback called "War Pilot" by Richard Kirkland.....P-38 pilot who flew some of the first helo's after WWII and in Korea. Has several stories in a last chapters from fellow pilots who were in Vietnam, very intense stuff on par with the above. If you haven't read it I'd like to send it to you if interested, and if you haven't read it already.

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JG300-Ascout
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PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2005 8:22 am
Post subject: Re: "AAR"

Con't:

"Just so you know the reporting structure and time frame (you probably
already do, but anyway...) Dad went back to Viet Nam in 1971 (his 4th tour), this time reporting to Gen. ---------- as the squadron commander. Gen. ------ requested him by name, BG------ had turned him down for the assignment, but outranked, so Dad took the job. (When he got there, the Squadron had been detached from the division; so he no longer worked for Gen. ---- and Gen. -----. The unit had been detached and attached directly to XXIV Corps.) It was about a third the way through Lam Son 719 and Nixon was saying we don't have American ground troops in Laos - so the Hac Bao came into the picture, which gave us Vietnamese ground troops. And then of course, there was the Air Cav (also, “not� on the ground). This is where Dad met Major Doan (the one in the picture with him. He'd met Capt. Nge before in 1967, when Dad commanded A Troop of the - and -th Cav.)

If I recall correctly, the animosity between Gen. ---- and my father began at "XXXX" Hill. The night before the operation, Dad briefed everyone – and gained concurrence from all - the Corp Commander, Division Commander and Assistant Division Commander. But some pencil-pusher in the White House decides that Dad and his men are too far out and issues a command to get off of the hill. Dad gets the word from a 1 star, namely Gen. ----; when he questioned where the order came from, he was told it came from the White House, but ---- wouldn't go back and question the order. Since Dad refused the order, and told Gen. ------ that it was too late to pull out, that they were in the middle of the operation by this point in time and to move out meant abandoning about 200 men who were dependent on the radio relay station on "XXX" hill. But Gen. ---- just gets General ------ on the line, a 2 star, and then ultimately the 3 star (don't remember his name) - but by then, they'd lost radio contact. Needless to say, they chewed him out pretty bad, but nothing really happened.

Anyway, back to the story - so Dad was reporting to General ------- and is responsible for the northern perimeter of Khe Sanh. General ----- is there, too, assigned to the -- and -th brigade - I think it was called a Mech Brigade? Anyway, his (------) job was to open up the highway from Quang Tri to Khe Sanh and to initially secure the Khe Sanh area, then to spread out and provide perimeter security. He was told specifically to keep his folks out of Laos - his folks were all ground troops except for an Air Cav unit he had. Dad, however, had heard from his predecessor LTC ---------, I think his name was, that Gen. ----- kept messing around in Laos. So before it happened again, there was a meeting with -----, -----, and my dad. Dad asked Gen. ----- what the rules were, and -----laid it out: "----- was to stay out of Laos, nobody goes after dead bodies, and nobody retrieves lost aircraft". They did have to document where every aircraft went down.

A couple of days after this meeting, the squadron commander for Gen. ---- Cav squadron was shot down in Laos - 7½ kilometers into Laos.
Coincidentally, “X� Troop commander was there and reported it to Dad, who had just refueled and was headed back into Laos. The “X� troop guy saw the aircraft go down, said it hit real hard - only one man (of 4) got out - the Crew Chief - who reported that the LTC was decapitated on impact, the co-pilot and door-gunner were shot dead. “X� troop got the Crew Chief out, but the aircraft had burnt to a pile of ashes. They dropped him off at the --- and -th, which prompted a question as to what was being done about the other three men - when Dad said "Nothing", he got an order from Gen. ----- to report. Dad refused to go right then, so this may be some of the insubordination you heard about. He did, however, go see Gen. ----- about 3 hours later, and found him pretty irate over the fact that Dad wasn't doing anything to recover his crew. Since Dad was authorized to be in Laos, Gen. ---- wanted him to recover those three dead bodies. After all, if he didn't recover the bodies, they had to be reported - accurately. This would place them 7½ kilometers INSIDE LAOS and Gen. ----- had been told to keep his people out of Laos. He was going to be in trouble, that's what it amounted to - especially since he's already reported them 7½ kilometers INSIDE VIETNAM.
This is why he needed the bodies. Otherwise, they're MIA and everyone wants to know where they went missing."

...and then, it gets weird. Really weird. With results that last another 7 years and, BTW, also precipitated a scenario where an Aerorifle Troop mounts up (armed) for a confrontation with 101st Airborne Div. Command HQ....until the situation is defuzed by the then-acting Sqdn. CO.

And that's about all I can safely say about this bizarre episode.

Talk about "handing out speeding tickets at the Indy 500".....

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JG300-fr8ycat
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PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2005 10:48 am
Post subject: Re: "AAR"

yea, thanks for sharing ASCOUT. Stories like this are amazing and I could read them all day, many times I have.

I have had the privelage to hear some first hand at a couple of reunions I have attended with my Father for his unit, a few posted on their site. Listening to the pilots and crewcheifs tell there stories it was almost unreal, but as one pilot put it, "you couldn't make this stuff up in the movies".

You know I heard a saying which says a lot and unfortunately I cant remember if this is how it goes exactly (will probably hack it up) but you'll get the idea,

"extraordinary men do not create extraordinary circumstances, extraordinary circumstances create extraordinary men".
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JG300-1Bullet
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PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2005 3:06 pm
Post subject: Re: "AAR"

Ascout
I just finished a book called "Snake Driver" that has some good stories about the cobra in Viet Nam. Also mentions Camp Eagle which I though was cool. I posted it in the book section.

www.com-central.net/in...&t=715

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JG300-Ascout
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PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2005 3:22 pm
Post subject: Re: "AAR"

Camp Eagle was my first "home" there. But the addon is not mine...That's Marty's over at Rotorwash. I did Phu Bai, which is there also, they were very close.

Checked your book ref...you might want to go here, as I took the photo's and got the story posted of the A/4/77th ARA bird (we worked with that unit, then later absorbed them)
The pics (frame of 4) are the ones on the left. Taken after recovery at Phu Bai...
www.vhpamuseum.org/ara...thara.html
Smile

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CrashEd
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PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2005 5:13 pm
Post subject: Re: "AAR"

"Images courtesy of Ed Miller, C btry 4/77 ARA" This guy sure has a good name Mr. Green

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JG300-1Bullet
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PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2005 7:18 pm
Post subject: Re: "AAR"

Good story Ascout thanks.
The first Cobra I saw was when I was in the 9th grade at the then Ector County Airport during the annual airshow. It was the coolest helicopter I had ever seen. They did a demo with it and I had never seen any helicopter so maneuverable. They did simulated gun runs along the runway, pulled up into the pure vertical, pivot around and come back down for another pass.. totally amazing. And to top that off she was fast too.
Still the sleekest looking chopper around Smile
Good luck with your project.

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