The New Cavalry
During the Vietnam War, the United States relied on the helicopter as never before. The helicopter’s role in combat expanded enormously in this conflict as thousands of “choppers” rapidly transported personnel throughout the war zone. Heavily armed helicopters offered a fearsome component to ground operations as close air support.
From March 1970 to April 71, I had the honor of serving with Charlie Troop, 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry, 1st Air Cavalry Division (Airmobile) in Vietnam. We were 100% mobile and made up of three platoons, aero scouts (White platoon) aero weapons (Red platoon) and aero rifle (Blue platoon).
My first duty was radio guy (Blue India) in the bush for the Blues…
AH-1G Huey Cobra ‘Snake’
Aero Weapons platoon
Maintenance hanger and flight line at Phuoc Vinh Airfield
The Maintenance platoon’s main job was to keep Charlie Troop’s aircraft running in tip-top condition, which was critical for the success of our missions.
Once again, one of our Scout birds got shot down, and the Blues were called to either rescue or recover the crew.
It was a typical rappel mission as there was no place near the crash site to land our choppers. I was Blue India (the guy with the radio) so I was one of the first of six Blues to rappel down into the jungle. The details of this mission are still foggy to me, but I do recall receiving sniper fire
We always had one if not two Cobra helicopter gunships circling high above us in the event, we needed extra firepower. These Cobras (Snakes) were equipped with mini-gun and rockets and were very much feared by the enemy.
Lt. Michael La Chance (Blue) was our platoon leader. decided it was time for some help from above; we had no idea how many unfriendlies we were dealing with. La Chance grabbed my radio and called for one of our cobra pilots to make a gun-run in tight to our position as possible. We popped a smoke grenade to guide him in.
Suddenly, bamboo was flying everywhere with explosions all around us. It sounded like a sewing machine on steroids, and the whole jungle began to rip apart. My first thought was Charlie was throwing some big stuff at us. I then looked up and saw our Cobra directly above pulling out of a gun-run, and realized what happened. The smoke that marked our position must had drifted too close to our position and the pilot came in right on top of us with mini-gun and rockets.
A few of our guys were injured by that incident but nothing serious. I lucked out again with only the crap scared out of me along with the rest of the Blues. After all, I was a FNG and just twenty years old, half way around the world in a strange land.
The Cobra pilot (WO 1 Myron R. Lamont) was grounded for a short while because of that incident. In fact, he was beating the bush with us on our next recon mission and made a comment on how thick the jungle was when on the ground…
WO1 Myron R. Lamont