Tag Archives: charlie troop blues

Search and Destroy

Enemy Shelter

Blues pushing over a shelter used by ‘Charlie’, and apparently we enjoyed it by the look on my face. Before we left the area, it was torched. Anything that aided the enemy in any way was destroyed…

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Night Mission

Down Bird in Cambodia


I was on the lead bird when I snapped this picture of our other chopper of Blues.

It was late afternoon when we landed in Phuoc Vinh after another long day in the hot steamy jungle. I was looking forward to a long cool shower and maybe a beer or two before I hit the sack.

As we walk the short distance from the helipad to our hooch someone hollered out those all too familiar words “down bird”. We all did an about face and scrambled back to our choppers, which were by then fully cranked and ready to go. We were informed that one of our Scout birds was downed by ground fire in Cambodia. We all knew it would be dark, by the time we reached the downed Loach but that didn’t matter in this life or death situation. There was always a chance the crew of the downed bird survived the crash and needed our help, so we had to reach their location as quickly as possible.

When we reached the area of the crash our Lift pilot hovered our bird over the treetops in position for us to rappel. Only a few of us Blues rappelled into the darkness of the jungle that night. I had a radio on my back when I went down and recall getting tangled up in the jungle’s undergrowth before my feet hit the ground. Then the real drama began!

It was our understanding, there were no friendlies in this part of Cambodia, which clearly made it a ‘free-fire zone”. We heard movement not far from our position, and it had to be one of two things. Either the crew of the downed bird survived or ‘Charlie’ was closing in on us. We were ready for the worse-case scenario which was of course ‘Charlie’. There was a slim chance the crew survived the crash so we expected the latter. That’s when a call came over my radio “hold your fire”. The movement was a squad of friendlies from a grunt company that beat us to the downed bird.

We stayed the night in the jungle and were extracted by our Lift birds the next morning…


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A Few Good Men

Squad of Blues at helipad in Phuoc Vinh


Weaver, ?, Mike Milton, Pat Cadenhead, Frank Biesel

I took this picture while waiting for a Lift bird to pick us up before being inserted on a recon mission.

Specialist 4 Mike Milton (center) carried the M-60 machine gun for the Blues. Mike’s heroic actions while on a recon mission were pointed out on page 89 of T.L.Criser’s book “The Ghost In The Orange Closet”. Tom Criser carried the radio (Blue India) for the Blues just before I arrived in Country.

Typically, two squads of Blues flew out of Phuoc Vinh on two separate birds early each morning and headed north.

In an older entry (Mortar Attacks) I wrote about a close call down at the helipad. ‘Charlie‘ pumped some mortars at the airstrip one morning while we were waiting for our choppers. One of the rounds landed just on the other side of the red barrel in this picture. Not a good way to start your day…

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PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)

Facing Wounds You Can’t See


The Author: “The Ghost in the Orange Closet” Sgt. Tom Criser (right)


I never met Tom Criser in Vietnam, he was leaving Country as I entered.
We both carried the radio (Blue India) in the field for the Blues of C Troop 1/9 (probably the same one).

I usually don’t finish a book in one sitting, but this one, I had to…
Great Job!
Rob Struck (Blue India) 1970

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Blue India

New Guy got the radio

I was a FNG (f**king new guy) so they put a radio on my back. My call sign was Blue India.

As a RTO (radio telephone operator) I was the only communication between us Blues on the ground and our choppers in the air. It only made sense that the RTO was a prime target in a firefight, so that’s probably why the radio was given to a FNG. I found out a little later that the Blues radio guy (Blue-India) was killed in an ambush in September of 1969.

The most common radio used was the PRC-25. The PRC-25 ran on battery power, and the battery only lasted for one day of continuous use, so I always carried a spare. The PRC-25 had two large knobs, which changed the frequency. The frequency had to be changed often to insure that enemies could not pick up transmissions.

I also carried smoke grenades. The smoke grenade released clouds of colored smoke to help mark location for gun ships and Huey Pilots.

The first time I rappelled from a chopper with a radio on my back, I flipped upside down from being a bit top heavy. After a few more rappelling missions, I finally figured it out…

Tom Criser served in Vietnam from February 1969 through March 1970. He also carried the radio (Blue India) while with the Blues.

Pat Bieneman (Blue India, 1968-69)


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