An Excerpt from the Book Firebirds

The following is an excerpt from the book Firebirds (ISBN 1-56530-197-8) by our own Chuck Carlock, published by The Summit Publishing Group, and is reprinted here with the permission of the author.

Frogs

On October 20, I was flying with Anton in a Frog gunship. Prior to this day, I had flown the Frog several times while making airstrikes and also had some experience with it in flight school. On this mission, we caught a Charlie running down a rice paddy dike with a weapon. Anton screamed, "Get him!" I put a perfect box on him. I shot short, long, left, and right. Since everything missed, my effort only speeded up the guy, who now resembled O. J. Simpson dashing through an airport. Anton got really steamed because neither I nor the door gunner could hit the guy.

Naturally, the lead helicopter got credit for the kill. Suddenly, we took a hit in the tail boom and turned toward a village where the automatic weapons fire was located. By this time, all gunship tactics were forgotten, and we once again engaged in a wild west shootout. As we ripped low level down main street (the only path through the village), I was doing real damage with the 40mm cannon. I knocked out the top of a hootch about seventy-five yards in front of us and saw a flock of chickens scrambling in all directions. For some strange reason, I went for the chickens with the 40mm, and we passed low level through the feathers. Anton was completely furious by then. He stormed for a week about his stupid peter pilot who massacred chickens. My only response was that I was going for the VC food supply. At least to my knowledge, the helicopter wasn't hit by a drumstick.

By this time, Anton and I had become good friends.

Anton had 40mm grenades explode inside the grenade launcher mechanism two days in a row. They finally discovered that the cannon barrel was bent. This could have blown the pilot's legs off. In certain areas, we were told to shoot all water buffaloes because the VC used them just like trucks to haul supplies. I remember one day, I made a perfect 40mm shot on the rump of a big buffalo. I told everyone that sucker could have won the Kentucky Derby.