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Dustoff


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Print by Joe Kline
498th Air Ambulance Platoon

Vietnam medevac missions
by Williams S. Phillips

In April of 1962, the 57th Medical Detachment (Helicopter Ambulance) arrived in Vietnam with five UH-1 “Huey” helicopters. They took the call sign Dustoff. Over time the number of medevac detachments grew in Vietnam until the entire country had coverage and Dustoff became the universal call sign for all medevac missions.

A Dustoff crew consisted of four people: two pilots, a medic and a crew chief. Usually, one pilot would fly the helicopter while the other acted as the aircraft commander. The commander would navigate, monitor all of the radio transmissions, talk to the unit requesting the medevac and would take over flying if the pilot were injured. The medic kept the helicopter stocked with the necessary medical supplies and the crew chief would maintain the helicopter in top working condition. They would both load the patients onto the helicopter and the medic would administer any necessary medical treatment on the way to the hospital, often with the help of the crew chief. The medic and crew chief would stay with a particular helicopter while the pilots were interchangeable between helicopters. These crews saved many lives and were universally respected by all of the soldiers in the war.

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Evac Hospital 93rd, Long Bình, 1966

 

List of Medical Units in Vietnam

 

 

 

 

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Helicopters in the Vietnam War


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…

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UH-1 ‘Huey’
Lift platoon

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OA-6A ‘Loach’
Scout platoon

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AH-1G Huey Cobra ‘Snake’
Aero Weapons platoon

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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.

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Combat Lift Platoon


Among the Best

Lift Pilots and crew of Charlie Troop 1/9th were some of the finest and bravest in the Vietnam War.

On down bird missions, they would steadily hover their chopper above the treetops while the Blues rappelled one at a time to the jungle below. They were easy targets for “Charlie” but that would never stop them from completing a mission.

In the event, we wanted out quickly we could usually count on them being a radio call away…

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UH-1 ‘Huey’

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‘Rock Steady’

Photo courtesy of Jordan Green

CPT Rhett Lewis ‘Cavalier 43’ 1969-70

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WO David A. Farrell ‘Cavalier 42’ 1970-71
David was the A/C (Aircraft Commander) of our bird on May 6, 1970 down bird mission in Cambodia.
Photo by Dennis Junger

Nighthawk

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Blues Rappelling

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Peace

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McGuire Rig

Staff Sgt Dave Roger guiding chopper into LZ


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Richard Lamb, crew chief C Troop early August until late October 1968.
Transferred then to HQ Troop as crew chief on the Squadron check-out LOH.
That aircraft was destroyed Christmas Day in a landing mishap and he was
transferred to B Troop Scouts. Shot down Feb 9, 1969 in LOH 16069

Photo by Richard Lamb

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Sgt. Gregory Lee Peffer (center on the ground) KIA January 22, 1971

Gods Own Lunatics

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Phuoc Vinh Airfield


Largely a Support Airstrip

Phuoc Vinh
Click on map to enlarge…

Phuoc Vinh Firebase

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Photo courtesy of Jordan Green

Photo by Terry A. Moon
1st Cav Photographer 1968-1969

Photo by Terry A. Moon

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NW Approach

Photo courtesy of Richard Lamb, crew chief C Troop early August until late October 1968. Transferred then to HQ Troop as crew chief on the Squadron check-out LOH.

This is a Walker Jones aerial photo of Phuoc Vinh firebase provided to me by Frank McKinnon (HQ Troop 1/9th). Charlie Troop and HQ areas are top/center. Click on photo to enlarge…

Sunset over Phuoc Vinh
Photo courtesy of Peter Guthrie (1LT Blue Plt Ldr 1968-69 ‘Cavalier Blue’)

Photo courtesy of Stan Edington

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AH-1G Huey Cobra ‘Snake’

Cobra on the refuel pad
Photo courtesy of Chris Bussells

Photo courtesy of Staff Sgt Dave Roger

Photo courtesy of Dave Roger

Photo by Mike Thompson (crew chief) 228th Assault Support Helicopter Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division, 1970-71
Courtesy of Jordan Green

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Control Tower

Looking down from the control tower (generator in the center)
Photo courtesy of Stan Edington

Some of our high tech communication systems in the tower

Stan Edington (air traffic controller from December 69-November 70)

Control tower in dubious weather conditions
Photo courtesy of Chris Bussells

Photo courtesy of Jordan Green

Photo courtesy of Chris Bussells

Photo courtesy of Stan Edington

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Photo courtesy of Dennis Junger

Photo courtesy of Chris Bussells

Photo courtesy of Chris Bussells

Each morning the Blues picked up ammo for their daily mission from a conex in this area.

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Photo taken as we departed from Phuoc Vinh heading to Fire Support Base Buttons early one morning.

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UH-1 ‘Huey’

Tom Stokesberry (Charlie Troop crew chief, 1969)
Photo courtesy of Jim Delp

Helicopter Maintenance Hanger

Spec 5 Dennis Junger

Photo courtesy of Jordan Green (Charlie Troop Maintenance, 1969-70)

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Light Observation Helicopter ‘Loach’

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Photo courtesy of Dennis Junger

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C-130 Cargo Planes

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C-123 Caribou
Photo courtesy of Mike Logson (1969)

Photo courtesy of Jim Delp

CH-47 Chinook

Photo by Mike Thompson (crew chief) 228th Assault Support Helicopter Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division, 1970-71
Courtesy of Jordan Green

Part of the HHC 31st Eng Bn company area taken from top of the radar tower.
Photo courtesy of Chris Bussells, 31st HHC

Photo courtesy of Chris Bussells

Photo courtesy of Jordan Green

Photo courtesy of Jordan Green

Volleyball game in the rubber trees at Quan Loi
Photo courtesy of Chris Bushels

Captured VC flamethrower
Photo courtesy of Chris Bussells

Radar unit on the wooden tower was used to pinpoint the origin of incoming rounds for retaliation purposes.
Photo courtesy of Chris Bussells

What a mortar round does to a sandbagged roof
Photo courtesy of Chris Bussells

Howitzer near Phuoc Vinh perimeter
Photo courtesy of Chris Bussells

31st HHC main street
Photo courtesy Chris Bussells

Sky Crane

Photo courtesy of Jordan Green

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Photo courtesy of Dennis Junger

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1st Lt Ralph Diaz
C company 31 Engr. Bn. 79 GP 20th Eng. Bde.

Ralph was the project engineer for the Phouc Vinh airfield up grade, ran the soil cement soil stabilization plant, and also did the asphalt cap on the runway.

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Photo courtesy of Ralph Diaz

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Photo courtesy of Ralph Diaz

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Photo courtesy of Ralph Diaz

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Photo courtesy of Ralph Diaz

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Photo courtesy of Ralph Diaz

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Photo courtesy of Ralph Diaz

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Photo courtesy of Ralph Diaz

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Photo courtesy of Ken Piotter (31st Engineer Battalion HHC)
Ken was a construction surveyor on the main airfield from January to April 1969 putting down the pierced metal run way.

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Photo courtesy of Ken Piotter

Late 60’s aerial photo of Phuoc Vinh

Photo taken as we departed from Phuoc Vinh heading to Fire Support Base Buttons early one morning.

Photo courtesy of Bob Powers (HHC 31st from April 69 to March 70)

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Photo courtesy of Dennis Junger

Photo courtesy of Bob Powers

Photo courtesy of Bob Powers

Photo courtesy of Bob Powers

Photo courtesy of Jordan Green

Photo courtesy of Bob Powers

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Puff the Magic Dragon was a WW2 Cargo plane (C-47) adapted with M-60 Gatling guns.
Photo courtesy of Mike Logson (1969)

Frank McKinnon (HQ Troop 1/9th) was Col Booth’s crew chief
Photo courtesy of Frank McKinnon

Photo courtesy of Frank McKinnon

Photo courtesy of Frank McKinnon

Ted Hall, unknown & Frank McKinnon
Photo courtesy of Frank McKinnon

Photo courtesy of Frank McKinnon

James Herder
Photo courtesy of Frank McKinnon

Back side of maintenance hanger
Photo courtesy of Jim Delp

Mess hall in flames (1969)
Photo courtesy of Jim Delp

New mess hall (right)
Photo courtesy of Jim Delp

Double Whammy
Photo courtesy of Jim Delp

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Photo courtesy of Ralph Diaz
1st Lt, C company 31 Engr. Bn. 79 GP 20th Eng. Bde.

Enemy rocket lands on Phuoc Vinh Airfield
Photo courtesy of Jim Delp

Aftermath of rocket attack on Phuoc Vinh air strip
Photo courtesy of Jim Delp

Photo courtesy of Jim Delp

Jim Delp (HQ Troop 1/9th, 1969)

Jim holding remnants of 122 mm rocket.

Hand signals were frequently used by the troops.

Jim Delp holding tiger brought in by the ‘Blues’

Photo courtesy of Jim Delp

‘Charlie’ scores a couple direct hits on HQ hoochs.
Photo courtesy of Jim Delp

Photo courtesy of Jim Delp

Photo courtesy of Jim Delp

Photo by Richard Lamb (Crew chief) C Troop early August until late October 1968. Transferred then to HQ Troop as crew chief on the Squadron check-out LOH.

Photo courtesy of Richard Lamb

‘Asian Girls gone Wild’
Photo courtesy of Dennis Junger

Working girl of Phuoc Vinh
Photo courtesy of Dennis Junger

Photo courtesy of Chris Bussells

Co. H (Ranger) 75th Infantry

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Photo courtesy Craig Stedman
595th Signal Co

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Photo courtesy Craig Stedman

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