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...5:00 AM on our Extra day, February 29th, let's make the best of it!

54 Years of 'Severe and Cronic PTSD', will not allow me to go back to sleep. I've been thinking about how to 'Properly' write this. If 'YOU', the Reader, can Not 'Handle' the reality of Death, Read NO Further!

...My Chinook was called out, one morning, to Fly Out and retrieve a Cobra Gunship, that had been shot down by Enemy Fire. It was a Long Flight, North and we made it there in the Afternoon. We found Her Half buried in a Muddy Rice Paddy, up to her belly. A Cobra! The Skids were completely Buried and Hidden in the Mud. This was a Ship I had Worked on Myself, back in the 16th Cav. She was one of the two 'Escort' Cobras to the 'Four Horsemen'.

The One Pilot had been killed, and His body had been recovered. There was a crew already there, and they had the Cobra set up for the Lift, with the Sling attached to the Mast and Rotor Head.

No need to set our ship down, hovering, I guided us over and we went to work. The Soldier standing up top, hooked us up. He Jumps off and I give clearence to the Pilot Bring Her Up!

Immediately! We realize, This is NOT Going to Go Easily. The Skids are Locked in the Earth, and Our Chinook can not even make her Budge! We Pull and Pull....and Pull Again! NO Movement.

From the Pilot..."Chief, Permission to go to 'War Emergency Power". (WEP) My reply, We can not leave a Cobra out Here, especially over-night!! We are Ordered to Recover! My ship is Not going to fly back to base, Mission Failed. She is Healthy, the Engines are Strong, let's do this!

The Pilot is cranking up the Engines to Maximum power. The Turbo-Shaft engines Normally run at 110%, the Pilot pushes them to 120%. The Engines are Screaming! The Rotor Blades are whipping the air to the point of 'Rotor Pop'. The center of the Chinook is bending downward with all of the Stress on the Hook. We try again to Lift the Cobra.

NO MOVEMENT of the Cobra from with-in the Ground!

Then, The Pilot gets Serious!! He Fires Up Both Engines with ALL THEY GOT!!! Maximum Power and Beyond! The Engines are Screaming for Mercy! The Chinook is Bending Curved Down as if about to Break. Our ship is going to Snap in Two, I Know it. We PULL, WE Pull Harder, We pull with All She Has!! Rotor Blades are Roaring...Insane!


The Skids start to rise out of the mud. Appearing into view and released Free. I'am watching this through the Hole. The Pilot starts Backing Off on the Engines. We are up with our Ship Hovering and the Cobra hanging, as a worker attaches the 'Droge' Chute to the Tail. This is a Small 'Parachute' that is needed to keep the Cobra Pointed forward during flight. If there were No Droge Chute, the 'Load' would Spin endlessly, the Entire flight. was a Long Flight, near Sundown when we arrived back to Can-Tho Base. We set the Cobra down at the side of the Airfield, over at the 16th Cav. Did I Hear Cheers!?

We had missed chow. We refueled and parked our ship. I did a Brief 'Post-Flight' Inspection, then off to the Barracks for dinner a'la 'Care Package'. My door gunner..."we missed Mess, I'am Hungry". I told him come by My cubicle, I have some Chow. When he soon shows up, I open my locker, On the Top shelf I have the saved contents of a Couple of Care packages, sent to Me from Family, back home. Candy, Popcorn, peanut butter, crackers, cookies, More. I say Pick something. He chooses the Can of Crab Meat. Take it, it's yours! How Much?? No Money! The perks of being Marlins' Gunner...this Day!

The Very Next Morning

...I was Not awakened for a Mission early this morning. I was allowed to sleep in, a few more minutes, Rare! A break for the success of the prior day. Morning Mess was a Delite, 'Eggs to Order' and Bacon, Coffee.

When done eating, my previous Gunner, comes to me and tells me..."You have got to come see this!"

We walk out to examine the Cobra we brought in the night before.

It had Not been 'shot-up' as bad as I expected. The first thing I noticed was the 3/8" Thick Cobalt Steel Armor Plate, was Split in Two pieces and had fallen down, out of position. Normally the Plate would have been Bolted in, One at each side of the Cockpit Seats, at the Pilots' Shoulder Level.

"...The Pilot had been Lured In by 'Small Arms' fire, a Ambush! And then 'They' Opened up on Him with a 50 Caliber and Armor Piercing Rounds!" Shattered the Armor Plate, and 2 Rounds had gone through the Pilot. He would have Died Instantly!

I looked inside of the Cockpit. The Cobra sitting on bent skids leaned at an angle. This caused the Blood to Pool in the Corner of the floor, 4 Inches Deep. Interesting, Gravity had caused the RED Blood Cell Platelets to separate from the Plasma and sink to its' own level below the YELLOW Plasma, on top, and almost Transparent. The Smell! Was thick and was of Iron. It triggered a Memory, of, way back in My past of a Iron railing going down steps at a Elementary School...Just after a Rain, the Smell of Rusting Iron, Smelled the Same.

...I did not get the Full Report! I Assume the Recovery Crew and Our Chinook, were Safe from Taking Fire, From the Insurgents with the 50 Caliber Machine the 'Second' Cobra would have Massacred them, Right Now!!

I didn't know who the Pilot was. I had worked on that ship, months before. GOD Bless Him.

...and a Year or so earlier, I was before a Select Commitee, of a Major and two Captains, when asked, telling them I would choose to Be a Cobra Pilot. They took the guy with the Pilots' License. I ran into the Person, Tyler was his name, later in Nam. He had Washed out of the Flight School Training, and was Then, in the Infantry.

"...There is No Fate, But what We Make"     

Last edited by marlinjack
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