2003 Calendar

This is the tenth calendar produced by the VHPA. Turner Publishing of Paducah, KY printed, marketed, and distributed this issue. This issue, as did many previous issues, commemorated the 2,197 helicopter pilots who died or were declared MIA (missing in action) in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam Era (1961 through 1975). Please note that this number varies slightly as we learn more. The goal of the VHPA Calendar is to refresh the memories of all those who flew and worked on helicopters in Vietnam, and to record, preserve and display the events and activities that were important to those who served in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. If a reader has additional information about any photo in this calendar, please submit it to Mike Law in care of the VHPA or law@vhpa.org.


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Owner R.J. Del Vecchio
Routine MEDEVAC?

CH-46A Bureau Number 151959 also known as Echo Papa 6 or EP 6 from HMM-265 - April, 1968. This photo was taken by Cpl R.J. Del Vecchio of the Photographic Services Section, Service Company, HQ Battalion, 1st Marine Division using a Nikon F camera with the 43-86 zoom lens using Ektachrome film rated at ASA 400 in the mountains south and inland of Da Nang. “My partner on this trip was Cpl John C. Pennington who was killed in action on 9 June 1968. We had open travel orders to go wherever the action was, so we went from unit to unit as the situation presented itself. On this mission, we had joined an Infantry unit sent to check out a bunker complex that had been located by Recon Marines and heavily bombed a couple of days before. One of the Marines was injured, possibly by a booby trap, and required evacuation. The pilot had to bring the helicopter up a long valley from the plateau. This was just amazing because the valley was very steep and narrow and there was very little clearance for their rotor blades. After threading their way between the trees, they arrived over a small cluster of bomb craters where they lowered the hoist, retrieved the man, did a slow 180-degree turn, and went back out. I’d guess this entire effort was completed in less than 20 minutes. But while it was going on, I had time to move to several locations on the side of the valley to take a sequence of about a dozen pictures. I was out of film by the time he started to make his turn to depart. You can tell by the relaxed posture of the Marines that the enemy had left the area. Even 34 years later, I am still impressed with the skills of that helicopter crew. As a grateful former passenger, with sincere admiration for the job the helicopter crews did, and in memory of those who did not return, I am glad to contribute these pictures to the VHPA for publication.”

Owner Don Joyce
A Mojave in Thailand

CH-37B #55-00623 from the 611th Transportation Company - October 1965. This photo was taken by VHPA member CWO Don Joyce on the military side of the Air Field at Bangkok while he was serving there with JUSMAG. 1LT Wilbur (Bill) P. Lusker (now deceased) and CW3 Bob Edens had recently flown 623 via a hopscotch route from Vung Tau to Bangkok. Bill’s son, Dave, is also a member of the VHPA. Don recalls that a USAF aircraft had crashed ‘up country’ in Thailand and they wanted to recover at least one of the engines for analysis. Don believes this aircraft and crew only stayed in Thailand about two weeks and then returned to Vietnam. The sign reads Army Aviation Branch, JUSMAG, Bangkok, Thailand. JUSMAG stood for Joint United States Military Advisory Group.

Owner Dean Nelson
Working the Hole

CH-47A #66-19088 from the 178th ASHC - August 1967. VHCMA member Dean Nelson took these photos while serving as a Flight Engineer with the 178th Assault Support Helicopter Company, the Boxcars, at Chu Lai. Often they would put pieces of their body armor on the deck for some protection from hostile fire and then lay on a cushion. The man had to lay there during the entire sling load operation to watch the load and immediately report anything unusual that was happening. On the right you see their load; a busted Minuteman, 176th AHC, UH-1D being returned to Chu Lai. Dean printed these photos in the 2002 Boxcar Calendar that he prepared for the 178th ASHC Veterans Association.

Owner Dean Nelson
Broken Minuteman

The sling load for the ‘Working the Hole’ photo.

Owner Ron Magnus
A Joker Snake

AH-1G #69-16445 from the 48th AHC - May, 1972. This photo was taken by VHPA member CPT Ron Magnus of his wingman as they climbed the Hai Van Pass north of Da Nang. Ron recalls, “I don’t remember the other pilot in my Cobra that day nor the crew of 445. We were flying north as we did on most every mission. My collection of slides shows that I took several pictures on this day. What you can’t see are the bullet hole patches in 445. This was during the famous NVA Easter Offensive, we were taking hits almost every day. This was ‘business as usual’ for me until May 21st when I took a round through the left hand while flying a Cobra and medically evacuated from Vietnam.”

Owner Ellwood Soderlind
Outcast 6, this is 3 - I have a problem!

OH-6A #66-07855 from D/1/4th Cav 1st Infantry Division - 9 May 1968. VHPA member CPT Ellwood Soderlind, Outcast 6 (the Scout Platoon Leader), provided these photos of his wing man’s ship flown that day by VHPA member WO1 Mike Guillot and SP4 D.A. Brown as Crew Chief/Observer. Ellwood recalls they were working northwest of Lai Khe that day when Mike, Outcast 3, announced that he had a problem because he’d just flown through a tree. Ellwood thought, “We fly through trees all the time - what’s the big deal!” When he got a look at Mike’s ship, he radioed, “You don’t have any skids!” Mike says, “We were working a defoliated area and being a good Scout, I had my head out of the aircraft. I was flying west, late afternoon, sun in my eyes (he adds - ‘This is all an excuse, but hey, it all worked out in the end!’). There was this tall, dead, gray-colored tree that I just didn’t see. I was flying from the right seat. The right front bubble was gone. I remember I could hardly talk on the radio with all the wind noise. We were almost done with the mission anyway, so we broke for home. I don’t think I could fly faster than about 60Kts and that took about 20 to 30 minutes. The maintenance guys had the pill of sandbags ready when I got there, so it wasn’t any big deal to land on top of them. I remember the observer’s legs were bruised from the tree branches but I don’t think he had an serious injuries.” The accident summary in the VHPA Helicopter database reads: ‘Wing ship was on a low level recon and had a tree strike. The aircraft was flown to the airfield and landed on a sandbag pile with no further damage.’ The database also provides the name of the CE/Observer, SP4 D.A. Brown. The un-cropped version of the photo on the right shows a mini-gun laying on the ground. Mike added, “We liked those mini-guns but you had to keep reminding yourself - you are not a small gunship! There was a time to fire the mini and then there was a time to put out the smoke, get the heck out of there and let the Cobras pound the bad guys!!”

Owner Ellwood Soderlind
Outcast 6, this is 3 - I have a problem!


Owner Steve Shepard
This ain’t no teeter-totter!

These photos were taken by VHPA member WO Steve Shepard of H Troop, 10th Cavalry (formerly C/7/17th Cav) at Camp Holloway in May 1972. Steve explains: “This was just after the NVA Easter Offensive in MR II had peaked. We were still flying everything we had long hours every day. I took my camera everywhere I went. I was down on the flight line and saw this 180th ASHC Chinook making a very SLOW approach. I waited until it got pretty close and I could include the Holloway control tower in the picture. The CH-47 passed almost directly over our Cobra revetments. There were two men working on one Cobra’s main rotor system. The Chinook’s rotor wash caused the Cobra’s blades to turn and the men started yelling. I saw the blades make a 180-degree arc and took this picture just as they had managed to get them stopped. You can see that the push-pull tubes are disconnected from the head. Naturally, they had untied the blades so they could sit on them. Not only were they concerned that they might fall off but that the turning blades could damage other parts of the helicopter. Several guys from H/10 have looked at this photo. We believe the man on the left is either SP5 Chadwick or Jones and on the right SP4 Eugene C. Thompson or SP4 Gabriel.”

Owner Steve Shepard
Chinook landing at Camp Holloway


Owner R.J. Del Vecchio
More on the Routine Medevac

CH-46A Bureau Number 151959 also known as Echo Papa 6 or EP 6 from HMM-265 - April, 1968. This photo was taken by Cpl R.J. Del Vecchio of the Photographic Services Section, Service Company, HQ Battalion, 1st Marine Division using a Nikon F camera with the 43-86 zoom lens using Ektachrome film rated at ASA 400 in the mountains south and inland of Da Nang. “My partner on this trip was Cpl John C. Pennington who was killed in action on 9 June 1968. We had open travel orders to go wherever the action was, so we went from unit to unit as the situation presented itself. On this mission, we had joined an Infantry unit sent to check out a bunker complex that had been located by Recon Marines and heavily bombed a couple of days before. One of the Marines was injured, possibly by a booby trap, and required evacuation. The pilot had to bring the helicopter up a long valley from the plateau. This was just amazing because the valley was very steep and narrow and there was very little clearance for their rotor blades. After threading their way between the trees, they arrived over a small cluster of bomb craters where they lowered the hoist, retrieved the man, did a slow 180-degree turn, and went back out. I’d guess this entire effort was completed in less than 20 minutes. But while it was going on, I had time to move to several locations on the side of the valley to take a sequence of about a dozen pictures. I was out of film by the time he started to make his turn to depart. You can tell by the relaxed posture of the Marines that the enemy had left the area. Even 34 years later, I am still impressed with the skills of that helicopter crew. As a grateful former passenger, with sincere admiration for the job the helicopter crews did, and in memory of those who did not return, I am glad to contribute these pictures to the VHPA for publication.”

Owner R.J. Del Vecchio
The wounded man is winched aboard


Owner Al Fink
The 195th Ghostriders

UH-1Hs from the 195th Assault Helicopter Company - 1968. VHPA member Al Fink, Ghostrider 21, provided the photo of the PZ (Pick-up Zone) which shows at least seven Hueys gathering to load troops from the U.S. 9th Infantry Division during the May Offensive of 1968. At this time, the 195th had been in-country about six months. The August 2002 VHPA Calendar describes how they “camoed” their aircraft during the summer of 1968. The bottom three photos were provided by Crew Chief Don Haase. They all show the camouflaged paint scheme. The left most photo shows a ladder ship, equipped to support MACV-SOG operations in III Corps and in Cambodia. Don is in the center photo that also shows some Ghostrider nose art. The aircraft in the right most photo is landing at Dau Tieng to refuel.

Owner Don Haase
A 195th Ghostrider Ladder Ship


Owner Don Haase
Nose Art on a 195th Ghostriders Huey


Owner Don Haase
A 195th Ghostrider landing at Dau Tieng


Owner Don Joyce
The Original DUSTOFF

UH-1B #63-08717 from the 57th Medical Detachment (Helicopter Ambulance) - July, 1965. VHPA member CW3 Don Joyce took this picture at Tan Son Nhut in July 1965. By this time the 57th had been flying in Vietnam for three years. The only other DUSTOFF unit in Vietnam was the 82nd Med Detachment at Soc Trang. But the Air Ambulance platoon of the 15th Med Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division was on the way as were other medical evacuation units. The VHPA Helicopter database shows that this aircraft was destroyed on 22 September 1965 with VHPA Member 1LT James Truscott as the Aircraft Commander.

Owner Steve Shepard
Convey Escort

A C/7/17th Cav AH-1G and OH-6A on the An Khe Pass - March, 1972. These photos were taken by VHPA member WO Steve Shepard from the front seat of the second Cobra flown by VHPA member WO Roger Lone. The Cobra in the picture was flown by VHPA members CW2 Jeff Clink and CPT Tom Butz. The LOH pilot may have been WO Russell, now deceased, or VHPA member WO John P. Johnson. Steve says: “C Troop, who still called themselves the Ruthless Riders, maintained a ‘Convey Escort package’ of two Cobras, a LOH, and a Huey at An Khe. The Transportation command that controlled the convoys from Qui Nhon to Pleiku and back would notify us when they had trucks getting ready to enter the critical sections of QL 14 and we would launch. Most of the time the Huey, which could have served as our C&C or chase/rescue ship, was tasked to fly some important people around the Pleiku - Kontum - Dak To area. CPT Zane Brown usually flew our Huey. On this day we were orbiting an American convoy that I think had some equipment from units that were standing down in the Pleiku area. They were coming down the An Khe Pass when a truck tipped over in one of the worst possible places for an ambush. The dust hadn’t settled by the time we arrived over them. They were scared (well, you know the word) because the road was now blocked. You can see the ammo containers spilled on the roadway. Our LOH landed to see if anyone was injured or if they needed to fly someone out. Those familiar with the old 1st Air Cavalry Division basecamp at An Khe should recognize old Hong Kong mountain and parts of what was once the Golf Course behind the Cobra.”

Owner Steve Shepard
Convey Escort LOH


Owner Dean Nelson
One Mortar Round

A Boxcar CH-47A at Phu Loi - Late 1966 or Early 1967. VHCMA member Dean Nelson provided this photo which also appeared in the 2002 Boxcar Calendar. To the best of our knowledge, there were no 178th ASHC or 400th TC Detachment casualties from this attack where most of the rounds fell on the flight line and runway. However, this Chinook would be in maintenance for some time! It sustained damage to two aft rotor blades, the left pilot’s door, the left chin bubble, and 78 shrapnel holes in the skin. One 60-mm mortar round did all this damage.

Owner Don Clarke
Retrieving a Village Search Team

Four B/7/1st Cav Hueys - Late 1969. This photo was taken by VHPA member WO Don Clarke from the front seat of a Cobra. He believes this is a village near Vi Thanh in western IV Corps. A close inspection shows what appears to be ARVN troops moving onto the pickup zone. All the bomb craters would suggest that this was NOT a friendly place to visit!

Owner Doug Neil
Doug’s Tour

These photos were taken by VHPA member 1LT Doug Neil. As a brand new ROTC 2LT, he attended the Artillery Officers Basic Course and then graduated with helicopter flight class 71-6 on 6 March 1971. In late April he joined D/1/10th Cav and was assigned to flew Hueys in their Lift Platoon. During mid-1971, D Troop had helped close out and turn over the ARVNs the old 1st Air Cavalry Division and then 4th Infantry Division base camp at the Golf Course. The majority of D Troop was based at An Son but they also had resources near the old An Khe Special Forces base and that is where Doug lived. Until about September 1971, D Troop had three primary missions. QL 19 convoy escort, general security for the An Khe area using their Blues and standard Air Cav VR (visual reconnaissance) tactics, and working with C/75th Rangers (the Long Range Patrol company from the 4th Infantry Division). The center and right photos on the top show a D Troop Huey racing off to pickup a Ranger team. Doug remembers guys in D Troop replacing their 4th Infantry Division patches with I Field Force patches. The center photos of the Cobras were taken at An Khe during this period. During late 1971, D Troop started the stand-down process. Doug was the Supply Officer. In late December, he and CW3 Ringo took the Troop guidon and the Property Books to Long Binh as part of the close-out of D/1/10th Cav. In january he was assigned to the 48th AHC and was involved in one of the last super-gaggles in II Corps - a 60-ship operation using Korean Infantry. Then a strange thing happened. He and four other Artillery officer pilots were assigned to the 196th Light Infantry Brigade at Da Nang. When the Americal Division withdrew, the 196th was reconstituted as a separate command to safeguard this area; but they were short Artillery Forward Observers( FOs) and there were none in the pileline for them. Doug was assigned to A/3/82nd Artillery (Flying Red Horse) served three 40-day tours in the field with A/1/46th Infantry commanded by CPT Mills. The three photos at the bottom and the left top are of I Corps helicopters. They patrolled around Fire Base Linda. When Doug returned to CONUS in April 1972, he was given a pilot assignment again.

Owner Doug Neil
Cobras at An Khe


Owner Doug Neil
A D/1/10th Cav Cobra


Owner Russ Warrier
Blue Max (ARA)

UH-1Bs from C Battery, 2d Battalion, 20th Artillery, 1st Cavalry Division - 1966 and 1968. These photos were presented to the VHPA by Russ Warrier, President of the Blue Max Aerial Rocket Artillery Association. In his younger days, Russ was the Crew Chief of #64-14054. This photo shows three aircraft at the Bong Son refuel point in 1966 from a copy someone gave Russ several years ago.

Owner Russ Warrier
Blue Max (ARA)

This photo shows #64-14054 with a CS gas ejection canister to compliment the 24-shot rocket pod.

Owner Russ Warrier
Blue Max (ARA)

This photo shows #64-14054 equipped with the Maxwell SS-11 system. Russ took this photo of VHPA member WO Edwin W. Fuller at LZ Evans in 1968.

Owner Russ Warrier
Blue Max (ARA)

A C Battery ship on display, for an unknown reason, as LZ Evans.