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...well here I am again up at 4:00 AM, the Cats woke me up, and Severe Tinnitus, will not allow me to fall back to sleep. I wanted to get this Chapter out before the New Year, anyway. I'am posting the Photos separate from the text, as when I go to Edit the text, later, the Photos get dropped!!

Paused, Getting Coffee.


Remember back in Chapter One....I described Vietnam as "The Land of Accidents"?? Brace Yourself!! With respect for those Who gave up their lives. These were brave Men, once, a couple of 'My' Pilots, when I was back in the 16th Cav.PXL_20231226_232932250.MPPXL_20231226_233000370.MPthumbnail [4)   


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Original Post must have been in October 1970. Long after I was transferred into the 147th Assault Support Co. , from the 16th Cav. After all, I was Trained as a Crewchief of CH-47 Chinooks.

...after completing a mission, I have long forgotten, for what?...our Pilots are flying our Chinook due south, Returning back to Can-Tho Airbase. At approximately 4:00PM, on a Beautiful Sunny day, We had just arrived to Base, one minute out, when Listening to the Civilian operated, Base Control Tower, Radio......

"Air America,* Cobra at your '6 O'Clock', ABORT!!"

"Air America, Cobra at '6 O'Clock', ABORT LANDING!!"

"Air America, Cobra at '6 O'Clock', ABORT-ABORT!!

Collision Eminent!!

Our Pilot, over the Intercom...."There's been an accident, we're ordered to land Beside the Airfield, the Landing strip is closed!"

* a 'Air America' is a Single Engine, Small, Fixed-Wing Airplane. They are Not Painted, they are Entirely Polished Aluminum and are very shiny, as they look 'Chrome 'Plated'. This particular aircraft was being piloted by a Vietnamese Pilot. He was coming in for a Landing, from the West end of the Airfield Landing Strip, of PSP (Perforated-Steel-Plate). He had 3 to 4  Passengers, 'Souls' On Board.

The Cobra was Hovering, generally, five feet off the Ground, and Backing-Out of the LAST Reventment at the West End of the Airstrip, Right side as We Look West!, the Area of the 16th Cav.

We had landed our Chinook on the Left side, OFF the Air Strip, Just outside of our Barracks of the 147th. Sorry guys, for all the Sand coming in the Window Openings.

The Collision was Horrible!! A Huge Fire. Flames and Black smoke up into the Sky. We all stayed away and let the fire teams do their work. There was Nothing they could do, as there was the Danger of Explosives going off. Just stay back and let it Burn! I did Not realize at that time...the 2 Pilots were Trapped within the Cobra!

Now for the Gruesome!

I did not go see the scene until one or two days Later. We were warned to Stay away from it, because of the possibility of Unexploded Ordinance, 'Cooking-Off'. The Wreck was still Smoldering, and the Smell of what had been, Burning Human Flesh, was Over-Powering.

The cause of this 'Accident' was a Compound of Errors! The Cobra Pilot AFTER getting Clearence to 'Taxi' Back-Out over the Runway, had just tuned his Radio to the Military Control for the Cav. The Air America Pilot, was NEVER Cleared for the Landing! AND, he had his Radio Turned OFF!

I was, OfCourse, Saddened by this. Any aircraft crew-member, should Never see anything such as This! It Changed Me Greatly! It Did Not ever Stop Me from Performing My Duty, from that Day forward. The experience gave to me a Profound meaning of how Lucky I was to be Alive! Probably a good reason why I am Smiling in Most of my Pictures. I have said before...while in the Nam, I was 'Almost' Killed 100 Times!! Lucky?? Or just Fate. A future Chapter...'A Talk with the LORD'.

As seen in the first picture, It was a good thing the Rocket-Pods were empty, they had Not been 'Armed' Yet! The '40mm Grenade Launcher' seen beside the 'Gyroscopic' Gun/Rocket SIGHT, Did NOT have it's 'Drum' of Grenades, Loaded Yet. Otherwise there could have been Multiple 2.75" Rockets going off in all directions across the airfield, and with 200 Grenades, uncontrolled!

The fixed-wing came right down on Top of the Hovering Gunship, a direct hit!! The 'Fixed Wing', was Torn-Up and Ripped to Pieces.

As the Cobra Rotor Blades were Torn Off and then, the Ship became Inverted, Both Pilots were Trapped inside and Burned Alive, if Not already Killed! In the Photo, one can see, they were burned right Out-Of-Their Boots!

I was told, Later, by a Witness, the 'Graves Registration' Team, had to 'Cut' the Bodies out of the Wreckage, and had asked "does anyone have a Bayonet??"

All that was said about the Airplane wreckage was..."A Womens body was 'Cut in Half', and was laying across the Runway, along with other bodys.

I did Not search out the Cobra Pilots' Names, Who they might have been. They could have been the Pair who I had helped replace a Hydraulic Hose, only two months earlier. That didn't matter, as I didn't get those Pilots' names, either.

We Don't get Names, and we Never 'Make Friends'!! Not in Vietnam! 'The Land of Accidents'.

I have Witnessed on two occasions, a Huey Criewchief walk straight into a Tail-Rotor!

The first guy was killed instantly. He was one of the Pilots. Doing what he should not have been doing! Looking over and around the Ship, while at ground idle. He gets to the Tail Boom, takes a 'Short-Cut' under the tail, Grabs the 'Stinger', (the curved Steel Bar that Prevents the Tail Rotor Blades from hitting the ground) Down, Under and UP!! With his Head Right INTO the Tail Rotor, No Helmet! He was Killed Instantly!!

The second, was wearing his flight helmet, Walked Straight INTO the TAIL Rotor Blades. His Helmet was Split in Half from around his head, Knocked Unconscious to the Ground, he Survived with 41 Stitches. These Accidents were always with the Huey at 'Ground Idle', and in the Middle of the Night! The thing here is...(I) would have been the Third candidate, had I Not 'Caught' Myself, only one foot from getting into Tail-Rotor Blades. At Night, Yellow Taillight Flashing, the Tail-Rotor is Absolutely SILENT, AND Mesmerizing!! Not even a Buzzing! It is Not a Good Idea to perform a 'Inspection', at night, or any time, during a Ground Idling 'Chopper'!!

Appropriately 'Nick-Named'.

Happy New Year...see You on the Other Side!

Next Chapter 9 'Ordered to Kill' (Old Man and Old Women)     

Last edited by marlinjack

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