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In Vietnam, the War Torn land, the people were very hungry. I witnessed Starvation and Excruciating Suffering. A people whose Soldiers survived on eating Rats, there were NO Dogs, that were Pets! Dogs could be found at the Local Meat Market. Slaughtered for cooking. Seeing a Dog Still Alive, was Rare. I NEVER saw a Cat!

We had a Chinook Flight Engineer, don't remember his name, Trucco, I believe. Had gone 'downtown' and Came back to base carrying a White Puppy, a Retriever! Yes! He found this one at the 'market' still Alive....rescued him just in Time!

He named Him after, how much he paid for the Dog, 'Buckandahalf'. $1.50 MPC of course (not american money. having US Dollars in Country could get a soldier court marshalled).

It must have been a 'slow' day as Trucco with his buddies, sitting around, come up with the Brilliant Idea of....Let's 'Air-Bourne' Qualify Him! So, one person comes up with the Parachute to a Night Flair*, and they talk a Pilot into volunteering to take the crew up to 3000 feet.

* A parachute flair is a Aluminum Cannister approximately 3 feet long a 6 to 7 inches in Diameter...and filled with Magnesium Powder. Once ignited, burns hotter than the sun, White HOT!! Hence the Illumination. The flair weighs in at 50 pounds, I Think.

The actual Parachute from one of these things, is a Piece of Taylored ART! Beautiful! Gorgeous WHITE NYLON. Large. Large enough to 'Float' a 50 LB. flair, Slowly to the Ground, with plenty of time to burn itself out. Certainly safe enough to bring a say, 5-10 pound puppy down to earth in a graceful, slower decent.

With the Chinook Hovering over the Base at 3000 feet, the Ramp is lowered, and with a final check of the Harness and Rigging, One man holding the Chute from entanglement, the Other soldier gives the Pup a gentle-controlled 'Toss' into the wild blue-yonder. Geronimo!!

From the ground...A Great Success!! A Gentle decent. Being there is No controlling this Parachute, 'Buckandahalf' 'Lands' onto a Barbed-Wire Fence, But, is Unscathed! The Team runs over, collects the New 'Airborn Ranger' and soon after, they pin His 'Silver Wings' onto his Dog Collar. Now, this calls for a Celebration!! I have cold beer. From then on 'Buck' was our 147th Companies' Official Mascot.

Trucco was 'Short', maybe less than 60 days to coming home. He spent all his free time getting Buck Cleared to come home to the US. After getting the approval of multiple Medics, and shots, and all the paperwork forms, Trucco left Vietnam, on the 'Freedom Bird', to 'Back-in-the-World' USA, WITH Buckandahalf, that Beautiful White Retriever. (I think I can find the Picture)

For a Prized Parachute.

We mostly 'Staged' at Chu-Lai. It's up due north from Saigon, near the Cambodian Border. Our Chinook would stage there as stand-by, to be immediately available for rescue of All Pilots shot down in the AO (Area of Operations).

There was a Fuel dump there, and there were low reventments, where ALL unused Ordinance would be left behind, Never to be Brought Back to Base. As It was HOT Ordinance. Too Dangerous to be kept aboard ships, longer than absolutely Necessary. We did not leave ammo, of any caliber, there, as the Enemy could easily make bombs and booby-traps out of it. But! a Load of Night Parachute Flairs, 6 or 7, had been left stacked up. These things were so Dangerous, that Only a Specific well trained crew were allowed to throw these out of a chopper, at Night. NO Pilot would want to fly the 'Night-Hawk', they would be ordered too. Flairs are Never brought Back to Base, Better they 'Go-Off' out there, than near the Hangers.

Everyday I am with My Own assigned Aircraft. I never had the same two Pilots, twice. Not in the same week. I never had the same (co) Doorgunner, twice in a row. The Gunners were always rotated around from ship to ship, and there were substitutions, as in this particular day. The Gunners Job is to Sign-out the Two 60's in the morning, before sun-up. And after the return to base after a mission, he takes guns to the Armory, and cleans them. Also, after breakfast, he's suppose pick up 2 C-Rations, for our Lunch! One for him, one for Me. In the Dark of the Morning, I am performing My Pre-Flight Inspection, by Flashlight. Every Morning.

THIS particular mission to Staging at Chu-Lai, I get a 'New Guy' Doorgunner, 7 Days In-Country! I have been there 8 Months! A Tall, Great, Good Looking Hispanic Soldier, all of 19 Years Old. Now this is why I GET PISSED-FN-OFF, when I DO NOT get Listened too! I told the Kid....out here, "Touch NOTHING". I have My finger in his face! "Touch NOTHING"!!

Well the New kid, Forgot to get our 'C' Lunches. I was hungry, and didn't have any of my care package treats with me.

Being it was Casual, a Pilot suggested, go down to the end of the field, take a right, go about 200 yards, there's a hooch there, they can cook something for you. I go, get there. In a stick hut with a dirt floor, a person is cooking some kind of 'burger' in a skillet with Orange government cheese on top. Well, I missed mess and was that hungry. They don't slaughter their water buffalos. There are No Cattle. This can not be Beef. Knowing it is either 'Rat' or 'Dog'....I ate it!! Yes, I was That Hungry. A Day Later I came down with the worst case of Dysentery, Diarrhea I have ever had in My Life. Did Not go on 'Sick-Call'! Went on the next days' mission. I Threw a Empty 5000 Round ammo can in the ship, for a Toilet!

Back to the Point!

I was Not gone More than 45 Minutes, I get back My Chinook. There is a strange smell in the air. I ask the Pilot "where's My Doorgunner??" I never 'caught' his name. I was told He was picked up by a emergency rescue, and choppered back to base. He was in the reventment trying get himself a sevener Parachute from one of the Flairs. To get at the Chute You must reach Your arm way-up the tail-end of the cannister, to un-hook it...if that is even possible. Yanking on the Chute, triggers the Igniter!! The Young Mans' ARM was Instantly Incinerated, up to the Shoulder! I hope they brought the poor guy Morphine. Should have Listened and Understood, Sp-5 Jack. Next Guy, Don't Forget the C-Rations! I take Full Responsibility for this Tragedy!! I left My post at the Aircraft!

           "When in The NAM....Touch NOTHING! Repeat, NOTHING."

The Young Man earned himself, a one way ticket 'back to the World'. Was Honorably/Medical Discharged, But received NO benefits, as he was not in the Combat Zone, nor in the ARMY, long enough to be 'Vetted'.

Next Chapter 7 'Saved by the Belt, 3 Rats for Supper'

Last edited by marlinjack
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...You are Absolutely Right, Rene! Throwing an Innocent animal out of a Helicopter, was NOT a Good Idea. In My view...It was a Great Idea!! A Risk, they were sure to make it Safe. I misdescribed the Dog as a Puppy. Actually, He was a Young Dog. Makes No difference Here, excepting for the fact that Trucco had saved the Dog, just moments before he was to be filleted into steaks. Being at the right place, at the right time. For what these brave men would go through in a Day, they deserve to do something Monumental. Their intent was Not Cruel. They wished to Do something special. There are dogs that Parachute with their Handlers. And there are Rangers who were Scared at their First Jump. Our Dog is 'Airborn Qualified'! Who said Buckandahalf was Scared? Hell, he wanted to go Back and do it Again!! Besides all that...all of us needed a reason to Celebrate! And, I probably Ate his brother for Lunch, or was it 'Rat'! I can Imagine the Fear. the little Dog experienced, sitting in a Cage, waiting, hearing other Dogs being Slaughtered!!

Thank You for Your Comments. Keep them coming. Wait 'till you see what's coming up Next.

See You on 'The Highway of Broken Dreams'.


Pictures to Follow, searching.

Last edited by marlinjack

I am fully aware that I have no idea what you experienced there with the fear of dying that you must have felt every day. In such an atmosphere we may be led to do things that we would not normally do. That's why I didn't criticize, I just said that MAYBE it wasn't a good idea. “Dogs parachute with their master”, I know it and it’s totally different, a dog trusts its master and his mere presence reassures him.
I said that the story had a good ending and I should also and above all have said
that it had started well since, as you point out, Trucco saved the dog from certain death.

Continue to tell us your memories.

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