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(TT2022) A real time machine for me

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posted on Feb, 5 2022 @ 12:24 AM
I was not going to write a time travel story this time around as it was not something that I fancied doing however fate had something else in mind, I suppose ?

I was going through some stuff while looking for a "Last Will and Testament" and found a very old large thick brown satchel that had moved with us overseas. I opened the satchel and found the following story which in my best guess, was written around 1979 while I was in Saudi Arabia with some free time.

This is a true time machine for me as mental pictures and guys faces came flooding back as I started reading. This is just a few pages of a many page story that I had forgotten I even had. All the names and places are real as are the call signs.. If any of our members were there "I still live and hope all of you are doing well too".

Cambodia 1970

“YELLOW THREE IS ON FIRE,” said the matter of fact voice transmitted over VHF comm radio #1. After checking the fire warning light on the forward instrument panel, which was supposed to illuminate if their was a fire in the engine compartment, Sky pressed the intercom to speak to his Crew chief on the left side of the aircraft.

“Chief, are we on fire,” Sky questioned ?

“Uh, dunno, let me check,” was the Chief's reply.

As Sky waited for the Chief's report and with his head turned to the left one of Yellow Flight's lift birds (called a slick) came auto-rotating into the shallow water and elephant grass very close to Sky's own aircraft. With some satisfaction Sky realized this was the bird on fire and not his 915 or Yellow 3 slick, A very large orange fire ball was burning up and through the engine cowling covering for the engine compartment just behind the particle separator of Yellow 4. As the bird settled into the water and the fuel switch was turned off the orange fireball disappeared into a bunch of grayish black smoke. .

The VHF, UHF, and Fox Mike, radios were full of what seemed like most of all the 8 ships in this flight transmitting, “We are taking fire, One !”

This was the flight's second attempt into this Landing Zone (LZ) to pick up the last remaining troops in Cambodia. The first attempt had not been successful either as they had been shot at from behind what seem like every tree until “Yellow One” finally pulled pitch and the flight departed; still without even seeing the friendly troops they were to extract.

Since Yellow 4 had been the bird on fire and not yellow 3 Sky sat at a hover while Yellow 4's aircraft commander transmitted on UHF (thinking he was on intercom) for his crew to grab their weapons and get out of their disable machine. The words he chose were a little more like, “ Grab the machine guns and let's get to F outta here” !

When he had transmitted those choice words he had not realized he was on UHF and talking to the world therefore his voice was just one more voice in a sea of voices all transmitting on the three different radios about some sort of distressing news about Yellow flight.

Yellow 4's Crew Chief and Door Gunner most likely did not hear their aircraft commander's evacuation order but even so they needed no prodding to grab their Sh*t and get away from their burning, sinking UH-1, that now sat in a Hot LZ.

( A Hot LZ is a landing zone where the bad guys try to punch holes with their weapons into whatever catches their eyes. This tends to discourage you with their many weapons and hostile actions from delaying your departure. It is also implied by their actions that you should not come back. A slick is a big target but we were young, bold, and almost bullet proof until we weren't; so there we were.)

Sky just sat at a hover waiting for Yellow 4's crew to come through the muck, waste high in the water to the perceived safety of 915 and a way out of a beautiful LZ with many bad guys wanting to shoot important pieces of their bodies off.

To help Yellow 4's crew Sky dipped 915's skids below the water while thinking if he went much lower 915 would get a tail rotor strike (thus a failure) so then they would all be stranded.

Yellow 4's crew trudged over to 915's cargo bay and once everyone was on board Sky pulled pitch to depart. He was the last aircraft out of the LZ and as of yet he had not seen anyone shooting at them.

This was a horrible mission as the slicks could not return fire into the tree line with their M-60 machine guns because no one knew where the friendlies were.

This was Cambodia and all of the first Cav's missions were flown low level at tree top level or lower usually around 90 to 100 knots. The missions were flown this way to avoid long periods of time exposed to a bad guys gun sights and aiming ability with some sort of weapon meant to cause death and destruction on one's body and bird. This tactic worked even though you could hear a slick from very far away and a whole gaggle of slicks just that much further; triple canopy or dense jungle was your friend and helped conceal you until you crashed due to an engine failure or whatever ?

As Sky rejoined the flight that was headed to LZ Bronco he was amazed to see his fellow slicks looking like some kind of WW2 B-17 war movie with the way some of the birds were riddled with gun shot holes.. There was one bird on Sky's right that had a new guy ( FNG right seater/copilot) waving at everyone through his shot out wind screen. They had taken 5 rounds in the cockpit yet no one was hit bodily.

A UH-1 could take an unbelievable amount of punishment depending on where the punishment was dished out. Birds were often times landed back at base with holes punched in their skin from nose to tail; those kind of missions usually made for one hell of a war story that night in the bunker bar. There were other times when fate would let you know just how worthless it valued your feelings with one well placed round (the dreaded Golden BB) that would send you crashing through the jungle or auto-rotating into an open field or rice paddy. The jungle could be very annoying as the trees seem to hate you invading their space so they would come through the wind screen and any other place they could find to rearrange your face and internal organs rather rudely; think of a coat hanger up a hot dogs butt for roasting to give you some idea.

(to be continued)
edit on 727thk22 by 727Sky because: (no reason given)

posted on Feb, 5 2022 @ 12:26 AM
There was a lot of chatter on the radios enroute to LZ Bronco about the status of the aircraft each was flying next to.

“Ah Two, I count six hits left side of your tail boom, all clear of the tail rotor drive shaft”.

“Roger 3 you look clean on your right”. “Click click” was heard as Sky keyed his mike in response.

Radio transmissions continued with light chatter and bantering. Life was good and this war was just something they all did together. No one had been hurt and they had not left anyone in their lift flight back in the LZ screaming on the radio as they burned to death.

Being burned to death is a very bad way to die.

Sky knew they were going to go back to the same hot LZ and once again try to get the troops stranded there out but that was in the future not now.

Unfortunately President Nixon had announced to the world via a white house statement and news briefing all troops would be out of Cambodia this very day no later than 18:30 hours. Of course the North Vietnamese heard the same thing and passed the message on to their troops in Cambodia.

I could have written that message to the NVA myself. “Stay close, no contact, wait until helicopters land and begin to load their troops. Then destroy everything. If any prisoners are taken tie them to a tree, skin them alive and make them say Uncle Ho many times as they die”.

It was just a passing thought as Sky was more interested in 915s engine and transmission instruments. He scanned them constantly either directly or out of the corner of his eyes watching for the first indication that all was not well with this assortment of moving parts he affectionately called 915. This particular lift bird and Sky had gone through many combat missions together and 915 always pulled her heart out for him and the crew bringing them back to base alive.

The flight continued on in an southeasterly direction in a loose formation more or less behind the Killer Spade yellow one. It was only a 20 minute flight back to LZ Bronco where they would land and be able to shut down their aircraft and inspect for damage.

LZ Bronco

LZ Bronco was a very small fire support base with only 5 105 Howitzers. The LZ was just inside the Vietnamese border with Cambodia and was there solely to support the troops that were now some 5 clicks inside Cambodia. There were already signs that the base was being dismantled and once the flight could get the remaining troops out of Cambodia, Bronco would cease to be anything but a memory.

Bronco's radio operator could hear the now 7 lift birds and the two Snakes (Bell AH-1 Cobra gun ships) long before he got a visual on the flight. Yellow one called on Fox Mike that the flight was inbound and requested any landing information available.

“Bronco this is, Yellow flight, LZ advisory over”.

“Yellow one this is Bronco.... suggest you guys land mostly on the west side or where ever you can find a spot...not much wind but suggest a southerly approach...uh, over”.

“Roger copy that, we are 2 miles out”.

The flight of 7 slicks split up and slowed down while looking for a spot around the small fire base to land. Landing would require some rather delicate maneuvering and close in hovering if any of the flight were going to all fit somewhere within the confines of Bronco's berm. (Berm is the perimeter and clear cut area around and in some cases inside the constantina wire of the base). The Snakes would not be landing as they were going to Bu Dop to refuel and rearm as necessary. After a little jousting and hovering Bronco ended up with three lift birds on the west side, two on the north side and 2 on the east side of the base.

Sky after landing, rolled the throttle off to flight idle and hit the countdown clock for 915s required two minute cool down of the engine. He then opened his side door and placed his booted foot in the “V” between the door and 915's fuselage; using that place as a foot rest he observed the aircraft commander (AC) of Yellow 2 walk around the side and tail of his bird looking for damage besides the bullet holes Sky had reported. Yellow Two's AC was like most old guys in the flight (old being maybe 23 years of age as it was not the age but the time in country that counted) with a long handle bar mustache, faded Nomex flight suit with a CW1 rank on his shoulders. His only personal carry weapon was an Army issue 38 revolver which was carried in a shoulder holster whose straps crisscrossed his back. It was rumored that the 38 and the yellow Cav patch would be enough to strike fear in any enemy... Sky certainly had his doubts with that saying though...

As the Yellow 2 AC bent down you could see his silver Aircraft Commander's chain swing away from his body, The chain was of tightly woven Chrome metal with a silver sheen and was fastened to the center zipper of the flight suit. The other end was fastened to a little booklet called the S.O.I. Or standard operating procedures booklet which was carried in the left breast pocket of the flight suit. Other times there was a super secret Whiz wheel (that is what we called it, but the Army had a very long detail name for the P.O.S) that was affixed to the chain to decode and send coded messages over a radio frequency.

It had been determined by S2 of the great American military Puzzle Palace that the First Carvery was giving away to many secrets over VHF, UHF, and the FM radios to the enemy. So, S2, in their great wisdom, decided the lift birds would use different call signs each mission. So instead of saying, “One we are heading to Bu Dop” you would say, after consulting the whiz wheel. “ Two kilo alpha, this is Zulu Bravo tango, I set 8 delta”. * 8 Delta * was the key setting for one's whiz wheel which had to be set to for decoding. “ Roger 8 Delta set” would hopefully be One's reply. Then you could send your long drawn out message as a code. The Whiz wheels were changed everyday and the old ones from the prior day were burned. No one used this nonsense as we had briefings before a mission or we just played follow the leader to a landing like good little sky soldiers. Single ship missions you did not talk much to the ground troops except to tell them to pop smoke and here I come !

Our two Snakes today were Delta 21 and Delta 23 who were trying to protect the slicks. They had not been any help with the hot LZ because no one could locate the friendlies who were afraid to pop smoke and give away their positions...... so the Snakes made fake gun runs while the lift birds got shot up.

Back to LZ Bronco

Sky was just sat there waiting for 915s two minute cool down as a North Vietnamese mortar tube made a final adjustment and let fly their airborne bombs. As fast as the NVA loaders could drop the mortars into the mortar tube the weapon or weapons belched forth their large explosive shells. It surely took a few seconds for the first three rounds to complete the great lobbing arc through the air; probably around the time Yellow 2s Aircraft commander was squatting down to check the underside of his aircraft's tail boom was when the mortar shells had been fired. The first round hit an estimated 40 feet to the left of Yellow 2s bird and the next two rounds impacted on Bronco, so not so close to the birds as the first round.

edit on 727thk22 by 727Sky because: (no reason given)

posted on Feb, 5 2022 @ 12:29 AM
Sky's first reaction was to marvel at the burrowing ability of Yellow 2s AC and then as the first shrapnel, dirt. And dust pinged 915 Sky asked himself, “Did I shut this thing down yet”?

As Sky was trying to figure out if 915 was still running the Yellow 2 slick took off straight up with the FNG new guy at the controls and transmitting, “Mayday Mayday Mayday” on UHF 243.0 guard frequency.

Not only had the FNG left his aircraft commander on the ground chewing a fox hole with his teeth but his uncoordinated lift off had almost made his tail boom contact 915s rotor blades as there had been less than 3 feet of clearance at most between the two birds spinning/turning parts..

As more mortar rounds landed Sky finally figured out 915 was still running even though she was at idle. He started rolling on the throttle without over temping the engine and was starting to get enough rotor RPM to get 915 up on the toe of her skids. Now that there was possibly enough room he would try to make a running take off from LZ Bronco.

As the burrowing AC of Yellow 2 saw his FNG depart with “HIS” aircraft and Yellow three starting to build up a head of steam and noise for lift off a voice in his head evidently told him to get up and catch a ride with 915 as the KRUMP of impacting mortar rounds spurred him on to a burst of speed an Olympic athlete would have been proud of. He had sprang from the dirt and dove into 915s cargo hole. Sky did not see him and the first indication of Yellow 2s AC was on board was a loud Thump Sky could hear through his tight fitting helmet. He turned his head in time to see the warrant officer holding his side and struggling to get to the cockpit area as 915 clawed for air. About this time Yellow 2s FNG was on the radio hollering about being a New Guy who was airborne but did not know which way to go. He went on and on about how LZ Bronco was getting mortared and how he would circle at altitude Etc. Etc. “ Mayday, Mayday, Mayday”!

The now displaced Yellow 2 aircraft commander finally made it between Sky and Bobby Bad Back and pointed while saying, “Follow that aircraft”!

Sky smiled and nodded while he keyed his mike trigger to tell the FNG to relax and get off the radio. “Just follow us to Bu Dop....Ahhh not to close New Guy.... STAY BACK”!

When yellow 2s AC had jumped into 915's cargo hole the aircraft was probably already do 5 to 10 knots across the ground while trying to achieve translational lift. 2's AC made the opening to the cargo hole but was slammed into the aft bench seat leg rest. As Sky looked at this poor dirty Warrant Officer Sky knew this AC was madder than most people could imagine by some of the comments he was making about his FNG right seater. Sky just smiled with his eyes under the dark visor of his helmet as he thought “ I would not want to be Killer Spades' Yellow 2s FNG when we get to Bu Dop”.

The flight to Bu Dop was uneventful so after refueling and shutting down 915 and waiting for the rotor blade to coast to a stop Sky exited the aircraft. He, Bobby, The Door Gunner and Crew Chief all did a very intense and complete walk around inspection of 915. All they found were 4 small holes midway up the vertical fin which supports the tail rotor and its' drive shaft. 915 was still good to go.

There seemed to be some sort of commotion down the flight line where the lift birds had parked and in the general vicinity of the now parked former Yellow 2 bird. From Sky's vantage point it looked like a couple of Warrant Officers were holding Yellow 2s Aircraft Commander's arms behind him as he jumped, kicked, and jerked trying to get his hands on his new guy FNG right seater who had left him at LZ Bronco. Sky realized at this distance if gunfire broke out he would just duck behind 915 and wait “whatever” out.

This had been a weird day from the start. That morning in the hot darkness of his mosquito net covered cot Sky had been awakened by his platoon leader and assigned his “task” for the day. He was to continue getting Bobby Bad Back ready for Aircraft commander by letting him fly left seat when circumstances permitted. Sky's mission today would start with him joining up with a Killer Spade flight leader at Bu Dop before 08:00 and forming a lift company to pull the remaining troops out of Cambodia .

Sky realized as soon as he was told that “lead” would be a Killer Spade instead of his own companies lift birds evidently the great planners of this days endeavors expected the flight to be in some serious Sh!t. Ever since Bravo Company (call sign “CHICKEN MAN”) got their butts blown away in the first two weeks of Cambodia the planners decided to take two or three birds from each company to make up a flight of lift birds. This arrangement was usually only done when there was expected to be enemy action and the possibility some of the slicks getting shot down. Some days, if only for one mission, a large flight of slicks would be led by a different company. The lead ship might be a Killer Spade (Alpha Company), Bravo Company (Chicken Man) or Charley Company (Ghost Riders). Delta company was exclusively our gun ship company that went with us into harms way when we might need covering fire by our gunships.

Before Bravo company's decimation (and another little engagement that got Charley Company at an LZ that became known as Shakey's Hill ) each company usually flew together with their own people. All the Aircraft Commanders and New guys lived together in the same one or two sand bagged living areas. Because they lived and fought together they could more or less read each others thoughts and were one hell of a tight knit fighting force. Weaklings never led a flight much less became an Aircraft commander.

After his morning brief and wake up call Sky was dressed and walking in the darkness to the revetment that protected his ride for today who would be Aircraft 915. His thoughts were more on possibly deflating Bobby Bad Back's ego that what mission they would be flying today. Sky knew how the Killer Spade boys ran their flights; usually down wind seemed to be a normal approach procedure for them. The way they did things were a function of staying alive in Ta Nin province which was their normal area of operation (AO).

It was almost a given if Killer Spade tried to work in Ghost Rider's AO they got their noses bloodied and how conversely the Ghost Riders from Phuc Vhin would suffer the same while working in the Killer Spades A.O..

Each company had suffered minimal losses since the first day of the Cambodian operations. Ghost Riders had lost two aircraft with crew as had Alpha company Killer Spades. The first Cav could always get the boys new aircraft replacements so a bird lost with no one hurt really didn't matter all that much as it might just turn into another good war story. However, death mattered for all the reasons it has mattered through out all of history . When an outfit like Bravo Company got mostly blown away and lost their old guy aircraft commanders it was a very hard time for them to rebuild an effective lift company without going out and crashing birds on a weekly basis.

posted on Feb, 5 2022 @ 12:34 AM
I think it was standard procedure in all the Companies of the 227th that any New Guy (usually referred by the title of FNG...the F part of the FNG you can use you imagination of what the F sands for ) had to have 350 hours flight time with the unit before he could be recommended for Aircraft Commander. Even after the required time there was no guarantee you would ever make Aircraft Commander if you were deemed a weak pilot who could get people killed. These weak Dicks would become permanent right seat copilots with extra duties of something like “Cut the Grass Officer, Pest control Officer, or even sometimes safety officer”.

Some of the safety officers were afraid of everything. Since most of them could not fly they were wonderful people when it came to making up reasons why something could not be done or had to be done a certain way. They were given a type writer and a way of communicating with other safety officers on safety related problems. It was great for the pilots of a unit because we never saw any of these safety officers work unless it had been filtered, changed and made appropriate by the Battalion Safety officer who was usually there because he was old and had survived being a combat aviator. Since the mission of the First Cav was really a “NO SH*T” fighting unit, the Army B.S. was usually kept a bay- never far away, but held back by, “Hey there is a war on, can do, mentality which worked best without interference from some REMF (rear essalon MF).who thinks they know what the flights are facing...many did, but some did not have a clue and at times those few tried to throw a wrench into the fine oiled machines that were the front line fighting units.

The End for now.....

I have to take faded pages from the satchel and retype the pages into my word processor which with only two fingers working is rather slow and tedious. If there is interest in the remaining story I may type more pages otherwise this is all for now..

posted on Feb, 5 2022 @ 01:43 AM
Outstanding recap of everyday activity in the Vietnam War.

Much of what you mentioned brought up memories of what my father told me about what he had experienced back then.


posted on Feb, 5 2022 @ 02:11 AM
Thanks for your submission.

Good Luck in the Contest!

posted on Feb, 5 2022 @ 01:35 PM
a reply to: 727Sky

The events from your diary are even more amazing considering they were real. Facing death with every mission almost comes across as a numbing of the senses. I guess balancing self-preservation and duty will always be a fine line.

Thanks for this and any future excerpts you share with us.

posted on Feb, 6 2022 @ 12:21 PM
Quite an intense story! Please post more.

posted on Feb, 23 2022 @ 11:09 PM
OK Part 2, 3 and 4 are now up ... I figure part 5 will finish this mess !
Part two :

Part three :

Part 4 :

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