Down Bird

Quick Reaction Force (QRF)

As a member of the Blue team, our primary duty was to scout for the enemy on the ground after our reconnaissance helicopters found signs of enemy movement.

All too often a Scout bird would get shot down. In that event, the Blues would scramble down to the helipad and board our Hueys and head out to the crash site.

The crash site was usually marked by smoke rising above the jungle, as most of the birds crash and burn upon impact. Our pilot would hover the Huey above the trees close to the downed aircraft as we rappelled one at a time to the ground through the dense vegetation. We always carried rappelling equipment with us as standard equipment, which consisted of leather gloves, rope and d-ring.

Fortunately, with our vast air support, the NVA and Viet Cong usually stayed out of sight until we were gone. Unfortunately, we mostly brought back depressing and disheartening body bags…
Down Bird in Cambodia Audio (May 6, 1970)


Filed under Vietnam War

2 responses to “Down Bird

  1. GoldStarSon

    Hi Bob,
    My name is Frank W. Bengtson Jr. and my father was a scout pilot in A-Troop, 1/9 in apr-may of 1971. He was shot down and killed on May 7, 1971 along with his crew while doing reconnaissance at the Chup Rubber Palntantion in Cambodia. At the time of his death he was platoon leader known as “Apache White”, other soldiers in the unit nicknamed him “Animal”.
    He was killed 6 months prior to my birth so he never got to see me before his death.

    I have been fortunate enough to have many hours of audio that my father recorded while flying for the 82nd artillery and 1st aviation, obviously the job of scout pilot in the 9th did not allow for such leisure activity but I got a great sense of what it must have been like to fly in Vietnam. He also sent hundreds of letter’s home, all of which Ive been able to catalog and write a book based upon (no publisher). It was the one true way I got to know my dad and what he stood for in his brief but brilliant life.

    I found your blog site while doing research about the 1/9th and enjoy your posts. I just listened to the audio file about the recovering of a downed loach and it really hit home for me. I see that you rotated out in Apr of 1971 so I wasn’t sure if you ever crossed paths with my father or if perhaps you may know of any of the men who recovered my dad and his crew.

    I have spoken with the cobra pilot covering him that day but this recollection was vague and I would like a better first hand account of what the recovery team encountered at the crash site because I’ve gotten conflicting reports as to exactly what happened that day.

    Just wanted to drop a line and say thank you for keeping your fellow soldiers spirits alive.

    Frank Jr.

    • Frank, your father, served with A Troop, and I was with Charlie Troop. So very slim chance we ever met. Hopefully, there’s someone else that reads your comment that may have known him. Don’t give up the search…

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