by Author Unknown
Just another day in the life of a CH-37 pilot.

While stationed at Danang, flying the CH-37B for the Air Force on the
Blue Springs mission, we were sometimes given other missions. On April
8, 1965, we received orders to transport a squad of Marines and a mobile
refueling station to a location near Tam Ky, about 50 miles south of
Danang, along the coast. The Danang runway separated the Marines, on the
North, from the Army and Air Force on the south side. I was the pilot
and Rick Case, a veteran pilot who flew Corsairs in WWII, was the
co-pilot. After loading the refueling station and men we began what had
always before been an uneventful flight to Tam Ky. However, on this
flight, the number two engine began to run rough, but we continued
since we were past the half way point. As we were searching for the
coordinates, we suddenly began to receive small arms ground fire and in
the process we lost the first stage hydraulic flight control assist
which was driven by the main transmission. The flight characteristics
changed when one side of the dual stage servos lost pressure. With
number two engine misfiring, we had no choice other than to land
immediately in an open area. When we examined the aircraft, we had
eleven holes and three of my crew, SFC James Vernon and the two Storey
brothers were wounded. Immediately, the Marines on board used their
radio to call their unit. I could not raise Danang on the helicopter
radios. Within thirty minutes, we had the refueling unit unloaded and
was examining the damage to the transmission. Closer inspection
revealed that a bullet had hit a banjo coupling between the hydraulic
line and the transmission. The transmission had taken no damage, but we
couldn't fly in its current condition. By the time we had ascertained
the damage, two Marine CH-34's were circling overhead. One of them
landed, picked up the POL squad and took off back to Danang. We were
left with no protection and as far as I know, the unit at Danang was not
advised that we were down.
Nearby, Tam Ky had a MAAG compound which we contacted by radio.
A few minutes later a Jeep arrived and I went back to the compound to
use their radios and also to ask if we could chance flying the CH-37 to
their compound for the night because we felt there was no way it could
be repaired before nightfall. I was refused permission to bring the
helicopter to the compound. They were afraid the mere presence of an
aircraft, expecially one as large as the CH-37, would expose them to
mortar attacks.
Luckily, using their radios, we relayed a message to our parent unit,
the 339th Maint Co, about 200 miles southeast at Nha Trang, and told
them the exact part we needed to be flyable again. We were told that
Captain Jerold Spier would try to find the airstrip at Tam Ky, even
though it would be dark. All we could do was sit and wait. (Captain
Spier was killed in an auto accident within one month of returning to
When the MAAG people took me back to the downed site, I explained our
options to the crew. We had misgivings about our chances of repairing
the helicopter that night. However, we removed the M-60's and personal
weapons and began to set up a perimeter. We figured we were there for
the night and we also wondered why we didn't have some other protection
since everyone should now know we were down in a hostile area.
Dusk began to fall and about 1/4 mile away we could see people moving
around. This caused the adrenalin to flow. Just as it got darker, we
heard a fixed wing overhead trying to find an airstrip. That was our
plane and within minutes someone from the compound brought us the
hydraulic fitting and hydraulic fluid. SFC Vernon had already
disconnected the damaged part and was ready to go to work. It seemed
like the men we had seen earlier were getting closer. We still had the
M-60's on our perimeter ready to fire but hoping that the aircraft was
repaired before any shooting became necessary.

Finally about 2100 hrs, we cranked up, checked for leaks,
checked the flight controls, loaded our
weapons and flew out. On the way back to Danang, our number two engine
continued to misfire but never quit.
Three of my crew received Purple Hearts. I still am puzzled by
the Marines action of leaving us and to my knowledge not notifying
anyone that we were down and never checking later to see if we were okay
or if their POL refueling equipment was still there.