THE 19th OF DECEMBER 1967
by Mike Slonoker
On the 19th of Dec, 1967, I was an FO with an INF Bn, 3d Bde 101st at
Phouc Vinh. On this day I was with A/1-506 INF, normally I was with the
3/187 INF. We were finding out a lot about the FOs and some of the 19
year old OCS 2LTs were making big unsafe mistakes. I was on one of the
4 RA 2LTs in a BN with 15 2LTs in it. The Bn Cdr was rotating the RA
LTs around for some reason, hence I did not personally know the Infantry
As background, 3d Bde arrived in country en masse on 2 Dec 67, 2d Bde
arrived on 15 Dec and was sent to Cu Chi. Since we had no slicks to
train on at all in the states, we were using the month of December to
learn how to work with the 128th, 173d, 116th and the 162d. I know the
units because I took pictures of the noses of the helos.
By the 19th of Dec, I was sicked and tired of climbing in the slicks,
going to an LZ, having an 8 hour walk in the woods, getting picked up at
1700, and RTB. How ignorant I was! Shortly after noon we were taken
to Phouc Vinh, got some Cs, ate them on the airstrip, and loaded up when
the 162d returned to what we thought were 8 ships. It turns out there
were 7, so we were scrambling to reassemble the aircraft loads(ACLS) so
we would have unit integrity on the ground.
I was in the company command group of the CO, his two RTOs, me and my
RTO. My CO was a 2d tour guy who did not want all the eggs in one
basket so he did not want me with him on the CA. So, me and the RTO
would usually put with an Inf Squad that was in the platoon right behind
the command group.
When the slicks landed, the 6 of us hustled to our slick and jumped in.
The guy in the left front seat montioned me to come talk to him so I
jump out and ran up to the door as we hollered under the noise. He,
either Harke or Holz, said the ship was weak and I was to ride in the
one right behind us, so I grabbed my RTO and ran for the next ship.
Off we go. There is a certain amount of excitement in the heart of a 22
year old scared as shit arty LT that went on each time the blades quit
beating so loudly and the breeze started to blow thru the cabin. I was
in my usual position of sitting with my feet dangling outside when the
aircraft made a violent manuever and was suddenly landing. We were
landing to a huge fire, and we were still at Phouc Vinh.
The crewmember in the left rear of my slick grabbed a fire extinguisher
and is putting the shit on one of the guys from the slick, I would have
been in, who is on fire. According to Roush's data the slick lost its
engine on take off, crashed and burned. All 8 souls were lost:
The crew of UH-1D 65-09987 from the 162d AHC
WO1 Larry Harke
WO1 John Holz
SP4 Anthony Campaniello
SP4 Robert D. Kline
and the heart of 2d Squad 3d Platoon Company A 1st Bn 506th Inf (Abn):
PFC Eugene Miley
PFC Steven Radu
PFC Charles Carpenter
PFC Jimmy Woolfolk
On Christmas Day, 1967, I reflected on what it felt like to spend my
first Christmas, and only Christmas, so far, away from my family. We
were still in Phouc Vinh. I have kept the menu for the meal, that has
Westmoreland's signature on it. Most of all I recall walking over to
the 162d's AO at Phouc Vinh and looking at the slicks and Copperhead
I recall looking at an empty revetment and wondering if that was the
revetment the slick came from.
I reflected on how short the life span (in my mind) could be by being
with the Infantry.
That Christmas was a turning point for me in getting control of self
pity, and feeling sorry for myself. I was shown on the 19th that there
are others who were under worse conditions. Life has many teaching
points and this was one of them.
Since moving to Northern VA, I have made it a priority to stop, on Dec
25th, by Panel 32E and look at and touch the names, because in that
empty revetment, I vowed I would never forget those guys, ever.
WO1 Larry Harke 32E22 Washington
WO1 John Holz 32E23 Pennslyvania
SP4 Anthony Campaniello 32E20 New York
SP4 Robert D. Kline 32E24 California
PFC Eugene Miley 32E25 New Jersey
PFC Steven Radu 32E26 Ohio
PFC Charles Carpenter 32E21 California
PFC Jimmy Woolfolk 32E28 Texas
..a moment in time, 31 years ago.