ANOTHER DAY IN HIEP DUC VALLEY
by Author Unknown
Another day in Hiep Duc Valley ( names withheld to protect the guilty )
I've never told this story before . I just wish I could remember it all. I can't even remember the names of my crew that day I wish I could.. The Hiep Duc valley occupation < attempted > by the NVA was well underway and we were always careful - lots of contact and heavy weapons -
The aircraft was 629, I had only had it a couple of months, if that. That plane and I had become a magnet ass !! The AC and I had words earlier in the day at Hawk Hill, he gave me some shit about my rotor head being dirty < I doubt that ! > or my uniform or something chickenshit and I told him to pray we never got shot down...SOB still owes me a thank you and a bottle of Jack!!
We were doing an ash and trash to an infantry company .. we had some stuff, and a couple of crunchies and a Kit Carson Scout. We were on short short, 10 feet or so off the deck to a hilltop west of Siberia, when we started taking hits from a .51. The airplane yawed and we hit the deck.. I think we bounced, but I'm not sure.. I hit the ground and slammed open the door and started to get the chicken plate back when a .51 round went through it (my 1st Purple Heart). It was back enough that the pilot wasn't hit. I yelled out that I was hit, dropped and started crawling away until the Kit Carson grabbed my ankle ( scaring the absolute shit outta me, thought he has a gook!! ) and told me I was going toward the gun. We all crawled to the NDP and hung out with the crunchies.. watching the fighters and gunships doing their thing.
The .51 cal was in a slit trench shooting at the F-4s.while they were dropping napalm, and while they were pulling out after the run. The Firebirds and Blue Ghost were trying but the rockets and miniguns didn't seem to do any good. We were as secure as we could be under the circumstances, there was an Infantry company. We had the crunchies pop a smoke, the AC was in radio contact, using one of the PRC-25s from the company. Maj. James came in where dustoff and nobody else would ..no peter pilot, no crew chief, no gunner; hovered, one skid on the hill, the other in space. I think I remember the Fire Birds and Blue Ghost in a daisy chain, dumping ordinance on the enemy, covering our extraction . Well, we split .. airspeed over altitude and headed back to Chu Lai
Major James dropped me off at the 23rd Evac pad where I was treated and released.. I tried to hitch-hike back to the company area.. but got picked up by the MPs for not having on a damn hat ( in a combat zone.. you believe that ? ) .. hauled me to the Provost Marshall's Office and kept me until someone from the unit came and picked me up. (somehow the DR never got processed ) Ed Farringer ( Widow Makers Platoon Sgt. )came and picked me up I think.. I went to the NCO club as soon a I found a damn hat.. mine was still under the nose cover of 629 and put some money on the bar. I don't remember how much it was.. I was use to paying for hits .. but for some reason I only had a soda and went off to the hootch. Farringer let me sleep in the next few days and I went to the Battalion aid station to get the dressings changed. No big deal.. lots 'a little fragments.. I think I was back in the air in a week. The next time I saw 629 it was just where we had left it.. Snake Doctor had gotten the radios. the KG and some parts.. including the "chicken plate ( this was laying outside the hanger - wish I coulda sent it home, it had a hole in it I coulda' shoved my head thru ! )" and the Fire Birds had used it for rocket practice. The company couldn't be tied down securing such a big target. The FireBirds had done a good job as usual!