posted on Oct, 25 2017 @ 10:03 PM
Many of us dream of flying just once in our lifetimes in a helicopter. In 1970 times were so-so and being 19, I was doing nothing either creative or
productive. The times were about the War and the demonstrations against it, many facing the draft still. I was one of those, and at least to have some
choice in what I was to be doing in the service, I joined the Army. During those years virtually everyone except "Some Senators Son" was sure to end
up in South East Asia, specifically The Republic of Vietnam. The Day I left for Vietnam, I was at Fort Lewis, located in Washington state, it was a
gray drizzly day filled with gloom, which was intensified by someone there at the staging center who thought it cool to be playing the bag pipes. That
along with the gray drizzle cast a surreal atmosphere about the place. I was leaving all I had known up to that point, all that was familiar, behind.
Upon riving in Cameron Bay, I spent several days before being dispatched to Camp Eagle, to the far north of the country, and then to Quang Tri, only
3-4 miles from the DMZ of North Vietnam and the South.
Spending a month there I saw some firefights that will forever be in my memory. Some two or three months later we stood down to Camp Eagle again in a
seemingly unwind of where I had come from, and finally to the South, to a fire base known as Camp Bearcat. It was at Camp Bearcat that I was afforded
the opportunity to become a Doorgunner on a Huey (slick) and jumped at the prospect. Having heard all the horror stories of short lifespans of Crew
Chief's and Doorgunners, it was admittedly a scary proposition to undertake, but never the less I jumped on board. Our typical day consisted of
inserting Blues Platoons and Rangers. Otherwise we would fly to an airbase and spend the day 'waiting'. Some days were intense others life
threateningly boring. Lift off was a feeling of being lifted by some invisible rubber band, then the tail rising to an extreme angle and collective
applied, the Birds' were on our way, quickly rising to an altitude of 2,000 feet and leveling off at that point as a cruising altitude most commonly.
Morning was a mixture of many things, and prop wash on my side intensified everything to the point, there was no guessing the weather, you were in the
thrust of it. Some mornings the cold chill of low temperatures was apparent, or the occasional rains would dampen out 'Jets' and gung-ho,edness, by
virtue of a good collateral soaking. Other times in the early dawn stillness it was beautiful, almost too beautiful to be a war zone, never the less
there was an ever present danger all around us as often times we went to places not allowed, to retrieve downed crafts or rescue pilots or soldiers.
Often times after the monsoon season, flying was much different, there were smells not present the rest of the year, and while flying over low clouds
or jungle mist the shadow of the Slick's prop on the clouds would appear as a circular rainbow, very unusual and pretty to see. Cold days brought the
wop,wop bounce felt as the prop was in dense air, much more so than in dry conditions. Late night incursions were few, but we had our share. Ar night
there was an absence of ground based lights, as many 'Villes' had no electricity, the only thing seen might be a small fire or a lantern, often
times extinguished at our coming presence. The stars were so bright in the night sky, they seemed to be your one familiar sight that you could cling
to, the sometimes cold was all around you when flying at night because our altitude was often times increased to 3,000 feet. During the warm summer
months there was less lift and a feeling of comfortable warmth, but being in a huge fan, never too hot. Rising to altitude, there was a significant
'feel' change as the temperatures varied. But during the days it was much more uniform in temperature. I did this every day for nearly a year,
either finding My way somewhere on foot, or by air. What many would pay to fly as much a I have flown. To experience the seasons, the smells, and all
the nuance's of flight. The feeling of power with two Cobra's, two Loaches and three to four Slicks indescribable, simply you just had to be there.
This..... is Reality.