History of Company "C", 158th Aviation
1. Unit History
Each military unit has its own unique history and "Charlie" Company is no different. There was an attitude of " I'll come get you today out of that hot LZ because tomorrow you may have to make the same decision". The Phoenix suffered more casualties in a two year period than any other aviation unit in Viet Nam. The men who served with the unit are proud of their contribution to the Viet Nam War.
Warrant Officer John Eaton was assigned to the 297th Aviation Company at Fort Riley, Kansas in March,1968. There was one problem. There wasn't any 297th Aviation Company so he was assigned to the 16th Aviation Battalion. The 16th consisted of a battalion headquarters and a headquarters company. Captain Monte Davis was the headquarters company commander and Major John Jenkins was the executive officer of the 16th. The mission of the 16th was to train and prepare aviation units for deployment to South East Asia. Earlier the 16th had trained and deployed a unit to Thailand. The 297th Aviation Company never came into being instead Company "C" of the 158th Aviation Battalion was formed in its place on August 6, 1968. Major Jenkins who had served with the 1st Cavalry Division in Viet Nam became its first company commander with Captain Monte Davis as the executive officer, Warrant Officer John Eaton and a SSG Tindle as the first unit members. 1 Many of the pilots who were next assigned to what was to become C/158th started at Fort Wolters as class 68-1 in June, 1967 and then to Fort Rucker where they became class 68-503. Those aviators assigned from Fort Rucker were Jack Ross, Roy "Twiggy" Miller, Raymond O. "Tex" Mobley, John Hodnett, Maurice Morton, Robert Coleman, Richard Paetz, Jerry Powell, Gary Quarles, Bob Brooks, Otto Offereins, Larry Pluhar, Leon Dixon, Phillip Nystrom, Rick Morrow, Jamie Naverette, Wayne Moline, Jerry Warnick, Terry Mortenson, Wallace A. "Doc" Pryor (killed in an automobile accident at Fort Riley when he ran into a stopped city bus), Ron Nyhan, Ken Montgomery, and James Wilkinson ( he is the one who came up with the call sign, Phoenix). 22 The 173rd TC detachment was assigned for additional maintenance support.
As Skip Lee recalls the 297th Assault Helicopter Company consisted of one gun platoon and two lift platoons. They picked up about a half dozen "B" models from the Red River Army Depot, right on Marshall field at Riley shortly after being formed. They did lose an aircraft with a crew while training at Riley. When Skip's group reported to Riley there were already a few pilots assigned. One was a big prick of a training officer named John Eaton. He is the one that thought it was necessary to go to the gas chamber, fire our pistols, and all that other Army crap. Later they would go to the Bell Helicopter plant and pick up the aircraft that they were going to take to Viet Nam. The Company Commander was Major John Jenkins and then the Executive Officer (XO) was Captain Robert B. Dalton. The First Platoon Leader was Major Fred Daniloff and the Second Platoon Leader was Major Paul F. Burke. CPT Monte Davis became a section leader and the supply officer and Major William Ankenbrant was the maintenance officer. Within the next couple of weeks after we arrived others started showing up. They were CPT Larry Willett, LT. Gary Elliott, LT. Greg Fuchs, LT Dave Rainey, WO Frank Metsker, Donnell Mills, Albert Ondira (the piano player), CW2 Jones (maintenance officer) and several others. 22
The rest of the 158th Aviation Battalion was formed at Fort
Carson, Colorado. Companies "A' and "B" were assault companies
and "D" was the attack company. Being at Fort Riley had some
advantages for the unit. The Post and Headquarters staff went all out to help
Company "C". There were a large number of training areas available.
Also the unit members who had a previous tour in Viet Nam were invaluable in
passing on their experiences and training to accomplish combat missions. They
spent a lot of time training in the field and even though there weren't any
mountains at Fort Riley, the weather was as Major Jenkins wrote, "hot, hot,
hot". There were always problems with density altitude which became good
training for Viet Nam. 2
Skip Lee remembers training a little differently. He stated that you went to Operations, picked up a credit card, filing a flight plan and going to places like Kansas City or St. Joseph, Missouri. " Some of the more adventurous even got down to Tulsa or Wichita. They would also fly to one of the many deserted WWII training fields and pick up some of the sweet young girls from Kansas State University, and take them along. A couple of guys even had the nerve to put their wives or girlfriends in flight suits and leave from the airfield. We actually did some unit training, like the time we over flew a turkey farm with a flight of ten helicopters and scared all the turkeys so bad they beat themselves to death. The farmer filed a claim with the government and was paid a pretty penny and we got told to quit flying over turkey farms. We also had the honor of flying in a fly-by for the last surviving horse from the horse cavalry, "Chief". The old fellow went to the happy hunting grounds that summer so there was quite a funeral. We also flew the game warden around so they could count their buffalo herds. We actually did go on one field problem, I believe in November because it was pretty cold. The memorable part of that training exercise is when Major Jenkins found out that several pilots brought along some spirits to ward off the cold weather (Major Daniloff set the precedent here when he told us that he was not going to freeze out in the Riley boondocks). He ordered a late night scramble and everyone was ready to go, even though some were unable to find their assigned aircraft. Fortunately, he called it off before anybody could get the aircraft started. We all got a very stern lecture and then proceeded to dig a big hole and bury the remaining booze. So, if you are ever out somewhere in the vast expanses of Riley you may find a cache of some pretty good whiskey that has been aged for an additional 32 years. "22
The pilots of the "Phoenix" also re-established the "Cockpit Club" at the airfield. In the early 1960s there was a "Cockpit Club" at the airfield since the regular Officer's Club allowed duty uniform to be worn at the "O" club but not flight suits. In 1961-1962, the 18th Aviation Company and the 339th Transportation Company used the "Cockpit Club". The club was closed when the two units deployed to Viet Nam. 23 The Phoenix pilots re-established the "Cockpit Club". Skip Lee stated that the operating hours were from when you got off work until no one was left standing. There were a couple of great piano players in the unit, Wayne Moline and Albert Ondira. One time an Air Force Colonel came into the club and walked over to Skip, pulled down the zipper of Skip's flight suit and poured a beer down on Skip's chest. Skip put the Colonel in a headlock, drug him to the bar, and poured a whole pitcher down the colonel's back. The colonel bought Skip a beer.
They flew their aircraft to Oakland, California for departure to Viet Nam. The aircraft went by ship to the port of DaNang. The unit members took buses from Riley and flew out of Forbes AFB in Topeka with refueling stops in Anchorage, Yakota AFB, Japan, and then to Da Nang Viet Nam and arrived February 23, 1969. Major Fred Daniloff, CWO Jones and Skip Lee were designated as the rear detachment. This meant that as soon as the rest of the unit got out of town, they were to make a final inspection and turn the keys to the buildings over to someone from Riley and then get to Forbes and catch the last airplane. The big brass at Riley thought it would be a brilliant idea to send us off with a parade of some sort. The only problem was that it was about 20 below zero with a wind chill of somewhere near 50 below the morning they were leaving. They had shipped their winter clothes and anything they didn't need in Vietnam so all they had to wear were jungle fatigues and lightweight flight jackets. The brass showed up in winter weight greens and overcoats to stand on the reviewing platform to send them off. They had the band in the hanger with the door closed. When it was time for them to play, they opened the doors, they played their songs, and then closed the doors before their horns froze to their lips. The Commanding General gave them a very long speech. Finally, everybody filed onto the waiting Greyhound buses. The first bus was the officers, followed by the enlisted guys in the following two buses. Daniloff, Jones and Lee, along with a few of the wives that stayed to the last minute to see their husbands off, were standing off to the side, also freezing, as the buses passed in review. As they went by, with the general and his staff standing at rigid attention, saluting, and the band playing some patriotic song, someone (Skip was told that it was Jerry Warnick) gave the crowd a perfect "pressed ham" on the bus window. Daniloff and Lee almost had to be carried off the field we were laughing so much.
Skip doesn’t remember how many hours the flight took but sitting facing the rear on a C141 is not his idea of first class. Fortunately Major Daniloff made sure that they had enough rum to mix with the Air Force cokes to make the time go faster. Chief Jones only lasted about a month at Evans before he started shooting his .38 caliber pistol off in the middle of the night, trying to kill snakes that were after him. The first flights got to Da Nang in the morning and the last plane got there in the same afternoon. Chinooks (CH47) picked us up for the flight to Camp Evans. 22
The 158th was to become the second assault battalion of the 160th Aviation Group ( later the 101st) of the 101st Airborne Division. The 101st was being changed to an airmobile division. The 158th Battalion was assigned to Camp Evans which had been previously a base camp for the 1st Cavalry Division.
Shortly after their "Welcome to the 101st" formation which was held on the runway at Camp Evans, several rockets hit over by the Post Exchange. The North Vietnamese Army had welcomed the 158th to Viet Nam. 3 The officer quarters were on a hilltop next to 95th Medical Evacuation Hospital. Ninety-fifth Evac moved in November/December time frame and someone at higher headquarters decided to move an artillery battery in 95th old location. So much for a good night's sleep. The enlisted area was down the hill near the Company "A" area. "A" and "C" Companies shared a mess hall.
As Jack Ross and his maintenance crew prepared the unit's aircraft for service, several of the unit's pilots were assigned to Company "B" and Company "C" of the 101st Aviation Battalion to learn the area of operations. Some of those who went were Roy Miller, John Hodnett, Frank Metsker, Ron Nyhan, and Otto Offereins. They spent two weeks with the Kingsmen (B/101) and the Black Widows (C/101) during the February and March, 1969. They became the first aircraft commanders. As Roy "Twiggy" Miller stated, "They became the blind, leading the blind.
In May, 1969, the Phoenix became a part of the assault on Dong Ap Bia, also known as "Hamburger Hill". The Phoenix was the first to land in LZ 3 with the initial insertion. They carried soldiers of the 1st ARVN Division. Major Jenkins lead the first flight in with Roy Miller as the leader of the second flight. It was a "two shipper" landing zone. Later "B' Company received enemy fire in that landing zone. The Phoenix's first hot LZ was an ARVN insertion on Tiger Mountain. Roy Miller's aircraft was shot up and he had to land in the A Shau Valley floor on the third trip into the landing zone. His co-pilot was Paul Michal who was a prior Navy vet and was one of the "old" men of the Second platoon at the ripe age of 28. He was wounded and Major Jenkins landed with them and took Paul to Camp Eagle for medical treatment. . Roy's crew chief, Duncan, got in the right seat and they flew aircraft 616 back to the Phoenix Nest. They had taken four rounds in the fuel cell but it self-sealed at about 250 pound of fuel. A couple of rounds came through the crewchief's well. There were several hits through the console and the right side door. One of the rounds had hit Paul. He lost part of his left hand and was sent home. Terry Hilt was the door gunner on 616 and got the first confirmed kill in the unit. 616 had a red Chinese hat on the fuselage behind the door to signify the event. Roy got some sheet metal fragments in his right leg but didn't realize it until that night in the Phoenix club. He poured some whiskey on the wound, took two aspirin and flew the next morning.
The Phoenix lost one aircraft at Hamburger Hill. It had a short shaft failure and was being evacuated by a Chinook. Unfortunately the Chinook crew dragged the aircraft through the trees. 26
The Phoenix suffered their first fatalities on the morning of April 15, 1969 with the crash of aircraft 67-17614. Warrant Officers Terry Mortensen and Jerone Warnick and Specialist 5 Doyle Dunbar were flying an early morning "sniffer" mission when they hit a large tree and exploded. 5 On May 2, 1969, John Hodnett and his crew survived a mid-air accident with a CH-46D. The CH-46 was climbing up to altitude when it came in contact with Hodnett's aircraft during a big troop lift in Quang Tri Province. There weren't any windows above the pilot's position which prevented the pilots from seeing Hodnett's aircraft. There was some damage to the Huey's skids. Unfortunately the crew of the CH-46 was killed. 4
On July 20, 1969, tragedy would strike the maintenance platoon when SFC James Couch walked into a rotor blade while he was assisting in an aircraft recovery. Couch was walking down a slope of a hill to get on another aircraft that would return to the Phoenix's Nest. Despite the efforts of the crewchief to warn Couch to bend down, Couch didn't see the crewchief or was distracted by something else. He walked into the main rotor blade. He was immediately taken back to Camp Evans and then was transported to the Navy hospital ship off the South Vietnamese coast where he died. The sad thing was that Pappy had been at one time in his career a member of the Presidential Flight Detachment.
On September 3, 1969, Warrant Officer Alan C. Maness was accidentally killed
while performing duties as the night duty officer. He was checking the bunker
guards on the perimeter. He had checked one bunker and left to go to the next
bunker. The story was that he forgot something or had lost something and
returned to the previous bunker. He surprised the bunker and the soldiers
accidentally shot WO Maness. The second bunker line was manned by soldiers of
the Phoenix and they were upset at what had happened to Mr. Maness and they
wanted to fire on the bunker where Mr. Maness was killed. Fortunately there
weren't any further action taken by the Phoenix guards. It could never be
determined if the soldiers at that bunker were on drugs or whether he startled
them and it was an accident. 4
Because the pilots of "D" Company lived across the street for the pilots of "C" Company and we shared our club with them, there was a special relationship between the Redskins and the Phoenix. There were a lot of good humored jokes between the "Penises" and the "Foreskins". Also they had flown each other's aircraft to get a better understanding of what was required to accomplish the missions. The Redskin pilots couldn't believe that we could get Hueys into those tiny landing zones. When a Redskin pilot was killed, it affected the Phoenix pilots also since we knew each other. The Redskin pilots took their job of protecting the troops ships very seriously and could be counted on to provide the best gun coverage. One afternoon during a combat assault, one of the Redskin Cobras had a maintenance problem which left one Cobra to cover the five assault ships. Redskin lead announced to the flight that he was out of ammo but not to worry since his co-pilot had opened the canopy and was firing his pistol. Fortunately the LZ was cold or the NVA was laughing themselves silly but we were able to get all of the troops on the ground.
Our days were filled with flying combats assaults one day and the next day you would be flying resupply or any number of different "ash and trash" missions or occasionally a day off. During the summer, some crews would take their aircraft to the river to wash them. You would land on a sandbar in the middle of the river and then you would have flowing water to use in cleaning the aircraft. I remember one occasion in the Ashau Valley while waiting to take a reaction force, we polished our aircraft much to the dismay of our non-rated maintenance warrant. Operations would receive the next day's missions in the afternoon or early evening and then started assigning crews based on the aircraft availability. The aircraft commanders already had been assigned aircraft so it was a matter of assigning co-pilots to those aircraft while maintaining platoon integrity. The charge of quarters runner would wake up the co-pilots first so they could preflight the aircraft prior to the mission. Usually the preflight was performed in darkness by flashlight which made the co-pilots vulnerable to a possible enemy sniper shot. Fortunately that never happened. Ronnie McDonald provided some trivia in that the Phoenix were the first and maybe the only unit to have generator powered light sets on the flight line. Ronnie had an AMOC classmate that just happened to be in the G4 shop at Camp Eagle and they made a night flight slingload direct requisition. Battalion staff came over to the Nest the next day, scratching their heads trying to figure out where the lights had come from and how we had managed to get them when nobody else could. 20 The crewchiefs and door gunners would next arrive at the aircraft with the machine guns, ammunition, etc. Most crewchiefs kept a case of C-rations on the aircraft so at least you wouldn't starve until you got back to Camp Evans. The doorgunners were primarily infantrymen who had spent time in regular infantry units and then applied to fly as doorgunners. The doorgunners were also expert chefs with "C" rations which came in handy during waiting periods for the next flight.
Missions for 101st aviation units included supporting the 101st Division, 1st ARVN Division, 3rd Marine Recon, 1st Brigade of 5th Infantry Division (Mechanized), and Special Forces Command and Control North. The 158th provided General Support; Direct Support to the 3rd Brigade; Direct Support to 1st Brigade of the 5th Infantry Division (Mechanized). Each month the three 158th lift companies rotated assignments. Missions included were Division Standby, Sniffer, Flareship, Nighthawk, Psyops, and Brigade Courier. Different missions required flexibility to adjust to the changing requirements. The 158th Aviation Battalion did the first night time battalion size combat assault in the lowlands east of QL1 to demonstrate to the VC and NVA that we could operate at night. Of course it attracted all of the command to see a battalion size night assault. Additionally the Phoenix did a joint combat assault operation with the Vietnamese Air Force Hueys. Fortunately the Phoenix had Phillippe Las Hermes who had a dual citizenship of the United States and France. "Frenchy" father was French and his mother was a US citizen and he spoke French fluently. So when the joint operation was conducted, Frenchy was in the trail aircraft so any of the VNAF aircraft that started to stray from the formation, Frenchy spoke French to the VNAF which they understood and any communication problem was corrected. 4
Working with the Army of South VietNam could be trying on some days. The average soldier didn't speak English so the crew-chiefs and door-gunners spent a lot of time using hand gestures. During one combat assault, Skip Lee and Gary Earls were the pilots of one aircraft when the crewchief told Skip that the soldier sitting behind Earls had stolen Skip's camera and the strap was hanging slightly out of the man's shirt. Skip had served his first tour in the 173rd Airborne Brigade so he took out his pistol and cocked it and motioned to the man to return the camera. Earls, who was the section leader was pleading with Skip not to shoot the man since Earls would have to fill out all of the paperwork. The ARVN soldier got the message and returned the camera to where he had found it. CWO John Beeson had a dog as a pet which hated the Vietnamese. The dog would fly with Beeson and during Vietnamese operations bark at the ARVN soldiers until they departed the aircraft 4
Command and Control North was a part of the Special Forces, MACV-SOG. These missions usually were conducted in Laos or North Viet Nam and the rules were different. The North Vietnamese in those areas were not known to take prisoners. There was a rumor that they offered a bounty for capturing aircrews, dead or alive. If you were shot down then there was only one chance for extraction since the North Vietnamese would set up an ambush for the second attempt. An example of a CCN mission that required flexibility happened to the section leader, Captain John Trotter and his flight. John was the flight lead with CWO Bruce Fairley as his copilot. The other two aircraft commanders were CWO Bill Majors and CWO Steve Lewis. As John and Bruce picked up the first portion of the Special Forces team an enemy .51 caliber machine gun began firing on their aircraft. It looked like they would have to land in a little clearing near that LZ and possibly become prisoners of war. Suddenly the engine surged and John got a little altitude until the engine RPM decreased. When the engine RPM increased, John would get some altitude and they would fly a little longer, further and further away from the hot LZ. Bruce turned to John and said in his Georgia drawl, "John, if you can fly this aircraft, I can talk on the radio". The flight path looked like a car on a roller coaster track but they got everyone out of the danger zone. That aircraft would never fly again but it proved the reliability of the UH-1 since there were so many bullet holes that we stopped counting at two hundred. Bill Major's aircraft was the next aircraft to pick up the next portion of the team and his aircraft took hits in the fuel cell. Bill related that the Forward Air Controller informed him that he was losing fuel. One of the team members had a sucking chest wound so every time the FAC told him about the fuel, Bill stated that he just added more airspeed until he reached maximum airspeed. He was more concerned about getting that team member to medical care. They landed in the Ashau Valley. Aircraft 604 was hooked back to the Phoenix's Nest. It was up on jacks in the hanger when one of the jacks failed which resulted in further damage. It was determined that the damage was so extensive it had to be taken down to the heavy maintenance in DaNang. Enroute, the Chinook had a hook failure and 604 met its demise in the South China Sea. John Kamps may have been Bill's co-pilot on this mission. John had bullet holes in his hat which was laying on the top of the instrument panel. This was the mission that Bob Andrews and Bob Watkins went down trying to cover one of our downed Hueys. Skip Lee and Watkins were both instructors in the same section in the aviation maintenance school at Fort Eustis. 28 Steve's aircraft receive some hits but was flyable. Everyone looked for Andrews and Watkins after they went down even after the "official" search was called off. 4
Sometimes luck was with the Phoenix, CPT Bill Brown was flying in Laos on a CCN mission, returning to South Viet Nam when a fire detector light illuminated. Bill decided to land on a sand bar to check out the light since he didn't know if the engine was on fire or if it was a false alarm. Fortunately it was a false alarm and the North Vietnamese were not alerted so they returned to South Viet Nam undetected. 27
On September 27, 1969, all of the 101st units had pulled out of the A Shau Valley, thus closing one chapter in the division's history. The A Shau Valley would have been difficult to defend during the upcoming monsoon season. Low hanging clouds and unpredicable weather were the biggest factors in abandoning the valley. There was an artillery raid in either November or December, 1969. The Phoenix flew the troops into the abandoned firebase, possibly Airborne for the raid. The Phoenix continued to fly missions and hadn't lost anyone to hostile action until December 21st when Captain Arthur Herndon, WO Thomas Forsythe and Specialist 4 David L. Egleston were killed while flying a mission near the DMZ. They were caught in a cross fire of .51 caliber machine guns. Specialist Amos survived the crash by jumping from the aircraft just prior to impact. He would survive another crash less than two months later by jumping from the aircraft which was piloted by CPT Donald Swanson. Another Phoenix aircraft had taken fire in that area of the DMZ on December 20th, the aircraft was piloted by CWO Bob Sauer. Sauer had given a spent round from that action to Tom Forsythe who wanted it as a good luck charm. 24
On January 29, 1970, the Phoenix lost another flight crew. One of the most respected platoon leaders was Captain Donald Swanson. Swanson had been involved in the club business in either Reno or Las Vegas and he talked often about returning to that business after he left the US Army. He was instrumental in setting up the Phoenix Officer's Club. He always had a big smile when he was tending bar at the Phoenix club. He was the flight lead of a Phoenix flight to pick up a team of combat engineers who had cut a landing zone in the jungle that morning. General John Wright, the CG of the 101st decided to have a landing zone per grid square. The mission would require that when you got to the assigned position, you hovered the aircraft in position while the engineers would repel out of the aircraft with their equipment and then cut the landing zone. His aircraft had been hit in the LZ by a RPG and Swanson and Las Hermes lifted the aircraft out of the landing zone. It flew for a hundred yards, fluttered, then fell toward the jungle covered mountain foothills. Warrant Officer Jack Glennon couldn't believe that anyone could survive the crash. Crew chief Mike Amos jumped from his seat in the tumbling Huey. Remarkably Amos survived the fall and was picked up by a Medevac Huey the next day. 10 La Hermes died on the hospital ship or in Japan on February 14, 1970. Specialist Mahlon R. Arnett was listed as Missing In Action. 5 It was ironic that "Frenchy" Las Hermes received his draft notice from the French Army that fall. He boasted in the club, "What are they going to do to me if I don't show up, Send me to Viet Nam". Also Phillipe's father had served at Dien Bien Phu with the French Foreign Legion. 25
The Phoenix had passed their first year in Viet Nam but they were going to be tested again and again. Each time they met the challenge. On April 1, 1970 they airlifted troops from B/2/506th into Firebase Ripcord. Ripcord was located on the eastern edge of the A Shau Valley. It had come under increasing fire from the NVA. On July 21st MG Sidney Berry, CG of the 101st made the decision to evacuate Ripcord.
CPT. Randy House was the flight lead for the Phoenix. After twenty minutes of orbiting, CPT House left his flight to make an evaluation of the situation due to communications problems. House was unable to make contact with the command and control aircraft but made contact with the pathfinder at Ripcord. He decided to continue the extraction. House directed his choppers to the available landing areas. As the extraction continued, the pathfinders instructed some birds to land on different pads, but the NVA were clearly listening in on their communications. As the evacuation continued, Warrant Officer Ken Mayberry was serving as an aircraft commander, with Warrant Officer David Rayburn as his co-pilot. As Mayberry and Rayburn's chopper approached the landing zone, Rayburn was dismayed by the ferocity of the mortar fire. Both pilots were experienced combat veterans and had taken hits on multiple occasions. The scene reminded Mayberry of one equally hot extraction he had participated in south of Ripcord, at LZ Kelley, where he had flown through a wall of tracers and was rocked by an airburst that nearly nosed him into a mountain.. Of twenty Hueys in that earlier operation, only four aircraft had remained flyable after the extraction.
Mayberry and Rayburn grimly continued their approach. Mayberry counted nine mortar shells exploding around the landing pad he was headed for. He also saw six Gis standing in the open, waiting for him. Someone radioed him, "Go around!" but Mayberry replied, "We're going in."
Rayburn looked over at Mayberry and said, "Ken, are you sure you want to do this?" Mayberry kept looking straight ahead, watching the LZ they were approaching. Finally he said, "We're their only way out, and if we don't get them…." Both knew that they all stood between the troops on the ground and the NVA surrounding them. Their unwillingness to give up on what was clearly a very dangerous rescue mission was typical of the resolve demonstrated by many warrant officers who flew Army helicopters in Vietnam. It was an unspoken, solemn vow. The Phoenix crews would do their best, no matter what.
As they made their final approach, the fire got heavier, Mayberry slammed the Huey down amid exploding mortars while six heavily laden soldiers rushed for the helicopter. A mortar round hit in front of the soldiers, a second round just behind them. The infantrymen were thrown to the ground, all of them badly wounded.
Mayberry shouted to his crew chief, Specialist 5 John Ackerman, and door gunner, Specialist 4 Wayne Wasilk, "Get them!" The two young South Dakotans rushed twenty yards through the mortar fire, helped four of the wounded infantrymen up and carried them to the helicopter. Fire continued to fall all around them. It seemed to Rayburn that he could feel the AK-47 rounds and mortar fragments peppering the Huey as if the helicopter's skin were his own.
Mayberry looked over his right shoulder, though the cargo door to his right rear. Mortar rounds were being walked up the mountainside as he watched. He held his breath, waiting for the next hit. The crew chief and the door gunner struggled to get the injured men into the cargo bay. The crew chief shouted, "Go! Go!" and Mayberry lifted off into the clouds of fragmentation. Moments later, a second chopper, piloted by Warrant Officer Dave Wolfe, came in and picked up another group of six soldiers-again under heavy fire. At the same time, Wolfe thought that his bird had suffered amazingly minor damage during the pickup. There had been no wounds to his crew or the passengers.
Flying behind Mayberry's Huey, Wolfe called Mayberry on the aviation net (VHF) in a state of amazement and disbelief. Wolfe disregarded all normal radio procedures ( which typically involved using call signs and waiting for replies), announcing to Mayberry: "Ken, you're smoking, I don't see flames, but there is smoke everywhere. You're losing fuel. There are pieces falling off everywhere. I think you better put that thing down now." Both Hueys were still ten miles west of Camp Evans, over the Annamite mountain range.
Mayberry came on the radio and responded, " I've got a little vibration. I might be losing some instruments. All my packs (passengers) are badly wounded, so I'm going direct to Charlie Med. Pad (187th Mobile Army surgical Hospital); we'll check it out there." Specialist 5 Larry Frazier, Wolfe's crew chief, watched Mayberry's limping Huey, amazed that it was still flying and relieved that his bird was not in the same condition.
Mayburn and Rayburn carefully piloted their bird back to base. On the ground, they counted more than forty holes from enemy fire. Their close shave did not stop them for long, however. As soon as they could get a replacement aircraft, they continued to extract troops from "hover holes" below the mountaintop.
Frazier had helped six infantrymen scramble abroad under fire at Ripcord. Shortly after they lifted off, a rifleman motioned to Frazier and handed him a piece of paper that he had taken from his pocket. Frazier read what was written on it and handed it to the pilots. It read, "Thanks for saving our asses." It was a heartfelt thanks Frazier would not forget. He was impressed that the GI had written it under artillery bombardment, before being picked up. The GI knew the birds would get them out, no matter what.
After the operation ended, Wolfe flew back to refuel at Camp Evans, Frazier hopped down from his crew chief's well and walked forward to open Wolfe's door and move his sliding armor plate back. As her reached for the pilot's door handle, he was startled to see Wolfe's "air-conditioning." Frazier pointed out the damage and the trajectory of the enemy rounds that had holed the bird--many had hit very close to Wolfe's seat. The lower part of his pilot's door had been blown away by rounds passing through the nose radio compartment, exiting under Wolfe's legs, through the left pilot's door. They also found several holes in the fuselage under the door gunner's seat. Frazier later joked about Wolfe's reaction: "If he hadn't been sitting down, he might've collapsed." Wolfe had been so distracted by the damage to Mayberry's Huey that he had been unware of just how badly his own bird had been hit.
Captain House, still circling above Ripcord, continued the extraction with the other lift companies. They were circling in sight of Ripcord, keeping an eye on the deadly landing zones marked by mortar explosions. House continued to fill the position of command and control. He had just seen his Hueys getting shot to hell while getting the job done. Painfully aware that there were troops still waiting for extraction on the firebase, House understood the importance in the role of impromptu air mission commander. He figured the sooner they finished, the better.
Operations in the area around Firebase Ripcord had proved to be a costly undertaking. Between April 1 and July 31, 1970 , 135 Hueys were seriously damaged and rendered unflyable. The vast majority of the division pilots and crew members survived despite combat damage to their aircraft. 6 The Phoenix had passed another test but the North Vietnamese had not seen the last of the Phoenix crews.
On May 6, 1970 the Phoenix endured another loss when the aircraft piloted by
CWO Clifford Poe had a mid air collision with an aircraft from Company B, 158th.
Warrant Officer Roger Baxter and Specialist 5 Allen Kinne were with Poe. Poe's
aircraft was the lead aircraft in a flight of two, he made a turn and the second
aircraft from the Lancers crashed into Poe's aircraft. John Kamps spent several
hours with Poe the night before and Poe had a premonition of his death. Poe had
two or three days before DEROS and had asked to be replaced on the mission. John
thinks that it was a CS mission rather than a smoke mission. 7 Major
Gerald Lord, the Phoenix Company Commander, wanted to replace Poe but was
ordered by the 158th Battalion Commander to have Poe fly the mission.
On May 18, 1970 Warrant Officer Robert K. Cole, Warrant Officer Nicholas G. Saunders, and SGT. Carlton C. Gray were killed. They were flying a re-supply mission in the Ripcord area and had made a radio transmission to an infantry unit after dropping supplies. They had a pay officer and his sergeant with them. Easterling, the crew-chief jumped from the aircraft prior to impact and was found on an adjacent ridge several days later. 15 Easterling stated that after the crash the crew was out of the aircraft when he walked down to get his weapon. Easterling believed that the rest of the crew was captured briefly and then placed in the aircraft and burned later that day. The pay officer was found with a broken neck. 17 Search was conducted for several days with no contact. Larry Frazier remembers that Carlton Gray was a brand new door-gunner in December, 1969. Gray flew with crew-chief, Larry Frazier to recovery the bodies of Art Herndon and his crew. Gray was cleaning the M-60s before he and Frazier went on the mission. Neither M-60 fired that day because Gray had forgotten to install the firing pins since they were in a hurry to go on the mission to recover the bodies. 16 The bodies of Cole, Saunders, and Gray were sling loaded back to Camp Evans. During the flight Cole's body bag opened and his body dropped to the earth. It was later recovered. Cole' father made it to Viet Nam to do his own investigation. Colonel (then Major) Gerald Lord had corresponded with Mrs. Saunders, Nick's mother, several times. When he was stationed at the Pentagon, he met with Mrs. Saunders.8
Then on June 12, 1970, Warrant Officers Tom Tindor and John Wilson were on a combat assault at LZ Kelly. They were chalk 2 in the flight when an AK47 round entered through the floor, missing the armored seat,collective and the chicken plate and killed Warrant Officer John Wilson. There was simply nothing anyone could do. Tindor experienced survivor's guilt and personal disgust. Tindor was called home for a family emergency, never to return to the Phoenix. 10
Then on September 20, 1970, the Phoenix lost another crew when during a low level Ranger team insertion near the DMZ, Warrant Officer Larry Baldwin, 1LT Albert Finn, SGT William Dotson, and SGT Dan Felts. A Cobra pilot thought that Finn took a .51 caliber round in his windshield just before they hit the ground at 100 knots. 10 Steve Butrym escorted Finn's chicken plate to DaNang to be tested for a suspected .51 caliber hole.
Fire Base O'Reilly was just northwest of Fire Base Ripcord. Beginning in August, 1970 the NVA increased their attacks on O'Reilly. 9 Ken Mayberry says that O'Reilly was worse than Ripcord. He landed and picked up some AK47s near O'Reilly. After they took off, the crewchief said, "Sir, you're not going to believe this, the blood isn't dry on this AK". 10 O'Reilly was abandoned on October 7, 1970. Typhoons Kate and Louise wreaked havoc in the latter part of the year, and the heavy monsoon rains curtailed
Tragedy occurred on December 7, 1970 when an officer took his own life. It stunned everyone who knew him. In all wars there are situations where there aren't any explanations.
Tom Marshall wrote in his book, "Price of Exit" that by December,1970, the Phoenix Hueys included replacement aircraft with weak engines. Some were "D" models which had been converted to early "H" models with weak engines. Plus there were a couple of the newer "H" models with the self sealing fuel cells.
On January 25, 1971 the prelude to the largest airborne invasion since June 6, 1944 started with Operation Dewey Canyon II. Dewey Canyon II would pave the way for Lam Son 719. The plan was for the ARVNs to cut off the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos. What the air crews didn't know was that they were flying into a trap. The North Vietnamese had placed approximately fifty anti-aircraft batteries in the area. The first phase required that QL9, the single lane road from Quang Tri to Laos be usable for military traffic. Huey crews assaulting security troops onto Khe Sanh were pleasantly surprised to find a "Welcome to Khe Sanh" sign awaiting them. It was from the Phoenix, C Company, 158th Aviation Battalion, 101st Airborne Division. WO John Michaelson and his crew had placed it there the night before. 10 On February 8, 1971 the aerial assault began and the Phoenix lost another crew consisting of CW2 Paul C. Stewart, the aircraft commander, WO1 Thomas P. Doody, pilot, Specialist 4 Charles G. Bobo, crewchief, and PFC John E. Robertson, doorgunner. The MIA synopsis reports: The helicopter was operating about ten miles west of Lao Bao on an insertion mission. Stewart radioed the flight leader that his aircraft had sustained damage to the tail rotor by ground fire, and that he was returning to the PZ, which was about five miles inside VietNam. While the aircraft was in route, Stewart radioed that he was inverted and was going in, and nothing further was heard. The flight leader then observed a column of smoke coming from the crash site. The Cobra team accompanying the operation was dispatched immediately, but detected no signs of survivors in the area of the wreckage. Several burned remains were seen around the wreckage. It was determined that the aircraft had crashed, exploded on impact, and burned. The remains were identified as Doody, Bobo, and Robertson. A fourth body was determined to be that of an ARVN on board the aircraft. No trace of Stewart was found. Tom Marshal's book, "The Price of Exit" gives an excellent account of Stewart's actions. It could not be determined whether he burned in the crash or was thrown clear of the aircraft as it impacted. They were in aircraft 68-16307 and the crash site is XD582368. The Phoenix and other aviation units continued the air assaults. With the next three days of combat assaults, twelve Phoenix birds out of twenty took major hits. 10 Stewart had extended his tour and was known as "Mr. Invincible". The Phoenix had become callused to carry on and in spite of all of the banter they knew they could rely on each other. 30
Lam Son 719 would claim the lives of another Phoenix crew. On March 5, 1971, the Phoenix would lose one of its best platoon leaders. Captain David Nelson was a second tour Sky Crane pilot and should have been stationed in DaNang with the 478th Aviation Company. He had survived being shot down on February 20th with Major James Lloyd, the Phoenix Company Commander. On March 5, 1971 he was the aircraft commander of UH-1 # 67-17341 with Warrant Officer Ralph Moreira, pilot; Specialist 4 Joel Hartley, crewchief; and Specialist 4 Michael E. King doorgunner. Nelson was an experienced flight leader and on this date was the flight lead of ten aircraft inbound for LZ Sophia. The MIA synopis reports: The UH-1H was in a flight of ten on a CA mission in Savannakhet Province, Laos. While on its final approach to LZ Sophia, and at the time the pilot should have been making his final turn, Nelson radioed that the aircraft had been hit in the fuel cell and that the door gunner had been wounded in the head. He then said they would attempt to return to the FSB on the same flight path as previously briefed. After the other aircraft had disembarked their troops and were on their way back to the FSB, some of the other crewmen said they saw a chopper believed to be that commanded by Nelson burst into flames, crash and explode. As soon as the ball of flame was observed, attempts to make radio contact were made with no success. No formal air to ground search was attempted because of enemy anti-aircraft fire and ground activity in the area. 12 Tom Marshall says it best in his book: "The loss of Dave Nelson, the most competent, the most capable pilot, shook the men of the Phoenix. From that point forward, the Phoenix pilots understood how little control they had over their individual fates. Nelson's loss hit them hard, very, very hard. " 10 In late 1989 the remains of Nelson and his crew were found. The process of identification would take a year. On October 5, 1990 they were buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Nine Phoenix aviators attended the funeral.
The Phoenix had survived Lam Son 719. They went back to supporting the 3rd Brigade of the 101st and continued flying CCN missions. In July,1971 they supported Lam Son 720 and in September, they flew in Lam Son 810. 13
But fate was not finished with the Phoenix. On May 17, 1971 a call was made by the Redskins for any available slicks to assist in a Prairie Fire ( hot extraction). Warrant Officer David P. Soyland and his co-pilot, Warrant Officer Dale Pearce were called by Phoenix Operations to respond. As the aircraft,UH-1H, #67-17607 was in the Landing zone, it was taking heavy anti-aircraft fire. The door gunner, Special 4 Gary Allcorn reported later that WO Pearce's hands jerked upward to the sky as if he was hit. As the aircraft crashed, Allcorn was ejected. Allcorn later regained consciousness and was later rescued by Special Forces team as well as the crewchief, Specialist 5 Parker. The body of Dale Pearce was unable to be extracted from the wreckage. Allcorn reported that he saw a figure with a white T-shirt running down a ridgeline with the NVA firing at the individual. Special Forces surmised that Soyland attempted an escape and was killed by the NVA. 10 His body has never been recovered. There are seven different NVA witnesses concerning Soyland's actions. 29
On December 31, 1971 Specialist 4 Robert Denmark had the unfortunate honor of being the last enlisted member of Charlie Company to lose his life in Viet Nam. The last officer was 1LT Byron Kulland who had served with the Phoenix and then was transferred to F Troop,8th Cavalry. He was shot down looking for Air Force pilot, LTC Iceal Hambleton, Bat 21. 19
Flight & Operational Aspects
Flying in I Corps was a demanding and unforgiving area of operations. Changing weather, low hanging clouds, lack of navigational aids required that pilots be familiar with every square mile of the flying area. Most of the landing zones would only allow one ship to land at a time through triple canopy jungle. It was usually a vertical descent and ascent. Sometimes you would have to land to a hover and have the troops jump onto the ground. This type of flying demanded the closest crew coordination. Whichever pilot was on the controls, the other pilot would monitor the engine instruments, radio calls, watch for obstacles and the enemy, and coordinate with the rest of the flight and gunships. The crewchief and doorgunner would tell the pilot that he was clear as well as fire their weapons if needed and watch for enemy activity and try to keep the troops informed as what the situation was. The pilot on the controls only listened to the crew, he had to have total concentration on getting the aircraft on the ground. The rest of the aircraft in the flight would space themselves to allow the aircraft in front enough time to go in and land and unload the troops and the take-off. This would be accomplished by doing S turns or orbiting over the LZ or returning to the pickup zone to get the next load. Flight lead would announce to the rest of the flight what kinds of conditions the landing zone was in as he ascended. Then you would go get the next sortie. Also the Cobras would be making their maneuvers, trying to protect everyone in the flight.
In 1969 you were issued a .38 caliber pistol with six rounds, a chest protector also known as a "chicken plate". The plate was made out of a ceramic material that was effective against small arms fire. We usually took out the back plate so we would have more plates for every crewmember. Plus the pilots were protected by the armored seat. It was made from ceramic material and could be effective against small arms hits. Most of the pilots procured an extra weapon such as a M-16 and extra ammunition. If you were shot down the extra armament could mean the difference between life and death. During the fall of 1969, we were issued pin gun flares. The US Air Force had survival radios but the Army didn't. Bob Andrews of the Redskins had a survival radio but left it on his bunk when he went to fly a mission. Bob crash landed in Laos wishing he had the radio. He made his way back to the Ashau Valley where he was picked up by a pink team from 2/17 Cav.
Sometimes the crews had to educate the ground force on how to use aircraft and aircraft procedures. One day CWO John Eaton and 1LT Gary Earls had a mission to pick up a battalion commander at a site south of Camp Eagle. The Colonel came out and sat down in the seat and the crewchief, Joe Woods, motioned for the Colonel to roll down his shirt sleeves. The Battalion Commander refused. Joe calmly said, " Mr. Eaton, the colonel refuses to roll down his sleeves". John turned as said," Sir, roll down your sleeves". The colonel mumbled something about flying a lot without rolling down his sleeves. John, said, " Sir, I've been flying for a couple of years, and I still roll down my sleeves". The colonel looked at Earls for moral support. ILT Earls said, "Sir, Mr. Eaton, is the aircraft commander and under AR 95-1 he is responsible for the safe operation of this aircraft and the final authority on whether it leaves the ground or not". The colonel rolled down his sleeves. He just didn't want to mess up his uniform. 4
The best ground unit to work with in 1969 was 3/187th Infantry Battalion. The S3 Air had come to the Phoenix pilots in the spring and asked them about aviation operations. He got a class on loads and weight and balance so when we did logistical missions for them, the first load was light and as your fuel load decreased, the amount that you had to carry increased. We could more for them in less time than the other two battalions in the Third Brigade.
As flight lead the job could be easy or hard depending on many factors. You were given the grid coordinates of the landing zone. Usually there had been an artillery preparation and many times the aerial rocket artillery (ARA) Cobras would circle the landing zone area. Fortunately there was an excellent working relationship between the Redskins and the Griffins (C/4/77) ARA lead would coordinate with Redskin lead on which part of the LZ to cover. The ARA would work the perimeter on the LZ and the Redskins would work the interior in case the LZ was booby-trapped. Or they would rotate depending on which ordnance was available. The ARA would make several runs to expend all of their rockets so the maximum amount firepower would be used on the landing zone. As flight lead you had the responsibility to report to the rest of the flight if the LZ was "hot" or "cold". And what condition the LZ was in and what obstacles were there. You had to keep track of the number of sorties and passengers and insure the successful completion of the assault.
Origin of the Phoenix
The original drawing is in the possession of Gary Elliott. It was drawn by a Sergeant Murphy, who was the communication sergeant around March or April, 1969. He used a C-ration case divider as his drawing pad. The drawing was sent to a firm in California for the original patches. Later the local Vietnamese tailor shop made the patches. Some of the senior enlisted staff chose Phoenix because they believed the Vietnamese were superstitious and they felt the mythical Phoenix would strike fear in their hearts. There is a story that the Phoenix would fly over a united Viet Nam. It was Gary who also came up with the idea of business cards for the Phoenix pilots. At one time there was a Phoenix bird painted on the nose of each aircraft. It became a good luck charm for us. The Commanding General of the 101st ordered all nose art removed when the Kingsmen of B/101 went overboard on their design. Gary Elliott plans to give the drawing to the 160th Aviation Regiment since the core of the 160th pilots came from C/158. Hilly Winne-Smith who had been a pilot in C/158 at Fort Campbell told Gary Earls in 1990 that the Phoenix pilots had become the 101st Division experts at night vision goggles. When the 160th was formed they needed those pilots with that special set of qualifications.
Where we lived
Several years ago there was a discussion between John Eaton and John Kamps about who lived in which hootch.(building). Later on a visit to Atlanta, John asked Gary Earls and Gary Sherman, the same question. We could remember some folks but not all. In 1998 at the VHPA Reunion in Fort Worth, Jack Glennon gave his answer and filled in a lot of the blanks. Of course, there is a need to have a complete listing as possible. The buildings were originally built for the US Marines by the Navy SeaBees in 1967/1968. Built out of wood with screens for windows all around the building and a tin roof and a door on each end of the building. Sandbags were place around the bottom of the wall and on the roof. During the monsoon and winter we covered the screens with plastic with hopes of keeping warm. Usually there were five rooms with a common living room/kitchenette . Each "bedroom" had enough room for a single bed and some storage. Rocket boxes made excellent storage containers. Everyone chipped in to buy a refrigerator and a television. Of course there were only two channels, AFVN and a Vietnamese. This explains why the club became a necessity. The Armed Forces Viet Nam showed old American TV series. I remember the TV series "Combat" as one of their programs. AFVN radio station played a variety of programming including "polka" on Sunday morning. 3 The 500 gallon water buffalo was "graciously "donated by a motor pool at Camp Eagle for the officers' shower. 21
Hootch 22 1969 1970 1971
Larry "Lurch" Miller
Tom Marshall ( Nov 24)
Hootch 23 Became RLO
Gary Earls (6/69-1-70)
Major John Jenkins
Major Larry Karjala
Major Gerald Lord ( 1 Dec 69-1 Jun 70)
Major William Longarzo ( 2 Jun 70-29 Aug 70)
CPT Robert J. Baker ,
Major James Lloyd
Major Teddy Allen( Oct - Dec71)
RLO in 1969 Swamp in 1970
Bill Rodgers (?)
Holiday Inn in 1969 Country Club in 1970
Phillipe Las Hermes
Alan Maness (?)
Tom Marshall ( Dec 11 )
Terry Mortenson (?)
Hootch 29 (Next to Phoenix Club)
Aircraft Aircraft Commander Crewchief Door Gunner
66-16517 Art Herndon Amos Eggleston
67-17596 Frank Metsker Arthur Martin Ron Slee
67-17597 Albert Finn William Dotson Dan Felts
67-17598 (Challenger's Ship)
67-17601 John Eaton Joe Woods
67-17603 John Beeson (AC), Patrick Hull (CE), Steve Gates(G)
67-17604 Skip Lee/ Bill Majors Lanny Van Tussel
67-17605 Donald Kenck (CE)
67-17606 Jamie Navarette/ Jack Glennon/ Ken Mayberry (AC's) Richard Metcalf (CE) Rickards (G)
67-17607 Ken Mayberry/David Soyland John Ackerman/ Skip Parker Wayne Wasilk/David Daily
67-17611 Larry Frazier
67-17612 Ted Olson Drinkwater
67-17614 Terry Mortensen Doyle Dunbar
67-17616 Roy Miller Duncan Terry Hilt
67-17617 Ron Nyhan/Don Swanson
67-17341 David Nelson Joel Hartley Michael King
258 Ronnie McDonald (71)
288 Layne Heath (?)/Paul Stewart Charles Bobo John Robertson
68-16375 Nick Saunders Carlton Gray
389 Larry Frazier
462 Randy House (AC, for a while), Pat Hull (CE)
69-15412 Ken Morrow John (?) McCabe
739 David Daily
599 is alive and well at a military museum in Aurora, Illinois. Mayberry found his aircraft, 606, serving with a Cavalry unit in Scottsdale, Arizona in 1993.
History of the Officer's Club
Every unit had a place which was a gathering location so guys could compare missions and tell stories and the Phoenix were no exception. Skip Lee would occasionally provide entertainment with singing "Green, Green, Grass of Home" on his guitar. I think that was the only song Skip knew. What became the Officer's Club was an extra hootch or two, possibly a mess hall based on its "L" shape. In late June, 1969, Walt Thompson, Gary Earls, and Jim Boehringer spent a couple of nights there until they got their room assignments. In July or August we begin to build the club. Someone worked out a deal with the SeaBees to provide the construction expertise and to help us construct this monument. The deal was we would provide aerial transportation for the SeaBees. I think their headquarters were in DaNang.
CPT Steve Rotsart became one of our procurers of supplies for the club. I believe that he went to the Philippines to get some supplies. Don Swanson had worked in either Reno or Las Vegas in some casino so Don knew what kind of equipment he needed to provide an oasis in this sea of uncertainty. Skip Lee recalls how the furnishings came to be. " While I'm at it, I would like to set the record straight on the club and the Furnishings. They came from Okinawa. One evening, (CPT Donald) Swanson and I were talking (over several cold ones) about what was needed to finish the club. We came to the conclusion that we would not find it in country which led to a discussion where we could find everything. I told him that I have pulled a couple of previous tours in Okinawa so I knew my way around well enough to find what we wanted. We went to (Major) Krajala with the idea. Krajala had enough drinks in him at the time that it sounded like a good idea to him. The next day I had someone drop me off at Phu Bai without the faintest idea of how I was going to get to Okinawa. I thought about heading to Saigon and then taking it from there. While I was standing there , a Marine C-130 taxied in. I went over to the pilots and asked them where they were flying out of. They said Futema in Okinawa. I asked them if they were going there. They said they were the next day but they could only pick up passengers in DaNang. I caught a Chinook to DaNang and went to the Marine Corps flight operations. They said that I needed orders to get on the flight. I then went to the 282nd Assault Helicopter Company and looked up the maintenance office, a friend and classmate of mine named Mike Michaud. I asked him to use his typewriter and sat down and typed a set of official looking orders sending me to Okinawa to testify in a courts-martial of somebody I made up. Mike signed the orders as a Colonel somebody. I took them back to the flight operations and was given first priority because I was on official military orders. The plane was full of Marine grunts so when the pilots saw me they brought me up into the cockpit for the five hour flight. I told them what my mission to Okinawa was and one of them volunteered that I needed someplace to store the stuff I bought. When we landed he took me over to a Gunny (Gunnery Sergeant) and told him to give me a store room in the hanger. He gave me a room and a padlock to store things as I bought them.
The next day I started shopping, along with a few other things. Whenever I bought anything I would have it delivered to the hanger and put on a pallet. After about a week of serious shopping I decided I better get on back to where I belonged. The Gunny had the C-130 that was scheduled for that day's run backed up to the door of the hanger and had the pallet covered with a big net loaded in the back of the plane. The pilots cranked it up and away we went. Again, I was in the cockpit. I called flight operations on FM from the airplane about the time we got adjacent to Camp Evans. I suggested about five Hueys were needed at DaNang Main in about one hour. By the time we got the pallet unloaded a flight of five landed and we started loading. There were airconditioners, a couple of upright freezers, flood and spot lights, carpeting, upholstery for the bar and miscellaneous other necessities. The red wall paper was ordered out of a Sears catalog. 28
The bar was triple-think so it could provide an instant shelter during rocket attacks. The wall covering was a red velvet type. Someone made a large Phoenix bird to hang on the wall in the fall of 1969. We celebrated the opening night with a big party and even flew out to the hospital ship and brought those nurses to the party.
It was either the night of December 24th or December 31th, 1969, that the 3rd Brigade duty officer entered the club and attempted to shut it down. Big mistake on his part. He was tossed out and told not to come back.
7. Died after Tour
1. James Boehringer, died 4 Jan ,1993, Troy, Michigan
2. Frederick Daniloff, died Feb, 1974
3. Phillip F. Hickey, died in an aircraft accident
4. Paul Almer, died in an aircraft accident
e-mail message from John Eaton, dated January 23, 1999 to Gary Earls
e-mail message from Major John Jenkins, dated May 16, 2000 to Gary Earls
e-mail message from Roy H. Miller, dated February 7, 2000 to Gary Earls
personal reminiscences of Gary E. Earls
VHPA yearbook-1999-section IV, KIA-MIA List
Tom Marshall, article in Viet Nam Magazine, June, 1998, "Rescue From FSB Ripcord"
E-mail from John Kamps, dated February 1, 2000 to Phoenix flight
Discussion with Colonel Gerald Lord and LTC Gary Earls, July, 1992, VHPA Reunion, Atlanta, GA
"Rise and Fall of the American Army" by Shelby L. Stanton, copyright 1985, Dell Publishing
."Price of Exit" by Tom Marshall, copyright 1998, Ballantine Publishing
. E-mail from Steve Butrym, dated May 25, 2000 to Ken Mayberry, and all
VHPA Yearbook-1994," Introduction to the History of Dewey Canyon II/ Lam Son 719
E-mail from Ken Morrow, dated May 13, 2000 to Gary Earls
E-mail from Don Davis, dated May 8, 2000 to Gary Earls
.E-mail from Ken Mayberry, dated May 25, 2000 to Larry Frazier
E-mail from Larry Frazier, dated May 23, 2000 to Gary Earls
E-mail from Rick Carlton, dated May 25, 2000 to Gary Earls
E-mail from Ken Mayberry, dated January 21, 1999 to Gary Earls
19 " The Rescue of Bat 21" by Darrel D. Whitcomb
20. E-mail from Ronnie McDonald, dated June 18, 2000 to Gary Earls
21. E-mail from Steve Bookout , dated My 9, 2000 to Gary Earls
22. Phoenix History by Skip Lee, dated June 22, 2000 to Ken Mayberry
23 Personal Reminiscences of Rebecca Allwine Earls
Conversation with Bob Sauer, July 4, 2000, Washington, D.C. with Gary Earls
25. Conversation with Tom Marshall,July 3, 2000, Washington, DC with Gary Earls
Conversation with Jack Ross, July 4, 2000, Washington, DC with Gary Earls
Conversation with Jack Glennon, July 3, 2000, Washington, DC with Gary Earls
E-mail from Skip Lee to Gary Earls, July 18, 2000
Discussion with Skip Butler, Jeff Bulmar, Ken Mayberry, and Gary Earls, July 4, 2000
"Into Laos, Keith William Nolan, page 131, 1986, Dell Publishing