Please note these changes and additions for our Association. Our new web site is located at: www.rattlers.bitshop.com This web site work is the product of Charley Sparks and is sure worth checking out. If you have an e-mail address you should go to our web site and leave your name and address on the guest book for Charley Sparks. We will publish all the e-mail addresses of our men that we have in our next address directory. Here are some numbers you should also be aware of if you are due to renew your membership. Since our directory was printed last June, we have added 43 new men and have made 46 address corrections. The directory now contains over 920 of our men. Please join or renew your membership today. On your address label of this mailing, the year number to the right of your name must be 98 or above for you to receive our new directory that will be mailed around July 1st, or you must remit your dues before that time. On every mailing, we lose men who have not given us a corrected address. If you move, let us know!
BOARD OF DIRECTORS MEETING
The Association Board of Directors has given the go ahead to begin accepting lifetime memberships for the first time. The cost is on a sliding scale based on your age. Here is the breakdown as approved: age 50 & below = $200, age 51 - 55 = $175, age 56 - 60 = $150, age 61 - 65 = $125, age 66 & over = $100. We will allow a one year payout of four payments if you prefer. Lifetime membership numbers are being offered on a first come, first served basis. You may use any three numbers for this. (For instance, you may wish to use your old call sign number with our unit as your membership number or the last three tail numbers of your aircraft) See the membership form in this newsletter for more information.
The Board of Directors decided to begin paying the National Director a monthly stipend of$100 to offset personal expenses. Ron Seabolt did not enter into this discussion or vote on this issue. Our vacancy on the Board created by the resignation of Ron Taylor has been filled on an interim basis by Johnnie Hitt (OF 69-70). It will be necessary for board elections to be held at our next reunion. Our present Board continues to work well together with the future of this Association as our guide in making decisions. A lot of hard work is involved with keeping things running smoothly and we feel that it is important that a wide range of time frames need to be represented on our Board. FYI - your present Board of Directors consists of: Ron Seabolt - National Director & Treasurer, Hal Bowen - Deputy National Director, Chuck Carlock - Secretary, and these men as Members-at-large: Steven Donnelly, Johnnie Hitt and David O'Quinn.
For the purpose of holding elections at next year's reunion a nomination chairperson has been appointed. He is R.J. Williams. R.J. served as a crewmember in both the 1st and 2nd platoons and as a tech inspector in maintenance. His time frame is 66-68. His duties as this chairperson will be to record all nominations for offices on the Board of Directors of our Association and to inform the Association of the nominations. The criteria for being nominated for office or for nominating someone are as follows: Only active members (dues paying) will be elegible to vote or hold elective office. If you are a dues paying a wish make nomination for our Board of Directors please contact R.J. Williams at: 745 Orchard Rd, Manheim, PA 17545-9275.Phone # 717-664-4087.
REUNION - APRIL 1998
The Association has agreed to a contract offer from the Holiday Inn International Drive Resort located at 6515 International Drive, Orlando, Florida 32819, to hold our 1998 reunion during the last weekend of April,1998. This reunion will commence on Thursday, April 23rd and run through Sunday, April 26th. This area offers a wide array of family entertainment opportunities that we hope will encourage our men to make this a family vacation. The room rate at this Holiday Inn will be under $70 per night plus taxes. We are not quoting an exact price at this time due to the possibility of a maximum 5% rate increase. This hotel has blocked 200 rooms for our reunion. If you think you think you may attend this reunion, please make your reservations early by calling 407-351-3500 and be sure to tell them you are with the Rattler/Firebird reunion. If you do not identify yourself as with our reunion, you will not receive the group rate. Also, if something comes up, you can cancel your reservation up to 24 hours before the reunion starts. It helps us to organize things if reservations are made early.
The sales of the book Firebirds through the Military Book Club are reported to be very strong. Our Association is due to receive a royalty check at the end of April. The paperback version, published by Bantam Books, is due out this summer. The cover of the paperback will be different from the hardback copy. A quote on the back of the Bantum Book says, "Going to hell in a helicopter". All royalties from this book go to our Association with the interest being used to help defray the cost of food and beverages at our reunions.
Frank Anton has completed his book detailing his military career. The book should be in the bookstores in late June. The POW segment of this work makes up about 85% of the story. Frank wanted to name the book "Wake Me When It's Over", but the publisher decided to put their spin on the name by calling it Why Didn't You Get Me Out. Summit Publishers, who published Firebirds, are handling Frank's book and the senior editor remarked that it is the best book they have ever had. Ron Seabolt has read the manuscript and thoroughly enjoyed it. Even though this is a gut-wrenching horrific story of men becoming almost sub-human due to starvation and the witnessing of about a 50% death rate in the jungle camps, it is a highly recommended book that is a part of the 71st AHC history. Frank also opens your eyes with his first hand knowledge of POWs left over there, a subject that the Pentagon does not want discussed.
Frank is taking orders at his residence for autographed copies of his book, mailed directly to you for a total price of$20.00. This includes postage. This is a hardback book that will sell in the bookstores for $22.99 plus tax, un-autographed. Make your check or money order to Frank Anton and mail it to Frank at: 730 Palm Dr, Satellite Beach, FL 32937. The books will be mailed starting in June. The Association does not usually give out this type of information about an item for sell, but this book is a much anticipated product that many of our men want to purchase.
The "H" model Huey that we obtained last October has been put into display shape by a lot of hard work. Everett Jeffcoat came in from South Carolina to apply a fresh coat of OD paint and help Carlock with other items. The tail rotor and nose art was painted by Kay Seabolt. John Hastings of the Vietnam Helicopter Crew Members Association, spent a Saturday working on this project. The ship will really take you back in time with all the "Rattler" markings. A debt of gratitude is owed to Chuck Carlock for his efforts with this aircraft. We will have both a gunship and a slick on display at the Orlando reunion along with many other items that will be familiar to our people.
NEW HUEY OBTAINED
Our Association has been given a UH-IH model Huey by the U.S. Army. This aircraft was located at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and was being used as a training aid for the cadets. Because of the Huey being phased out of service, this aircraft was scheduled for destruction when one of our members who works at West Point, Jim Waterbury (OF 69-70), contacted the Association about obtaining it. Jim performed all the on site leg work required and Chuck Carlock contracted for a local hauler to drive to New York and bring this ship back to join our other two Hueys at Chuck's place near Ft. Worth. Carlock flew to Newark, NJ, then drove to West Point to see that things went as planned with the preparing this ship for movement via trailer. The ship, tail # 64-13773, has a long history in Vietnam, starting out as a "D" model with the 48th Avn. Co. - call sign "Blue Star", located in I Corp. It was damaged and repaired stateside and returned to the 335th AHC - call sign "Cowboys", later it was sent to the 52nd Aviation Battalion - call sign "Dragon". Here it was damaged and returned stateside, repaired and sent to the 175th AHC - call sign "Outlaws" located at Vinh Long in IV Corp. Once again it was damaged and sent stateside for repairs. This aircraft is 99% complete and will require much less work than our other ships to become a great display item. The place that Carlock has obtained many helicopter parts is located at Keene, Tx. When he happen to ask about an old slick that the owner is trying to put into flying shape, he was very surprised to learn that the ship was originally in our company. The time frame with us was Feb. '66 - Feb '67. It was a UH-ID serial # 64-13560. If you know anything about this aircraft, please pass the info to the Association. Seabolt scoured his old 1st platoon records and came up with these last three tail numbers for 66-67: 989, 568, 684, 796, 690, 068, 528, 890, 669, 859, & 189. As these numbers are written, I get a distinct déjà vu sensation. In my mind, I can see men with these ships. Lynch, Perez, Becker, Whitehead, Profitt, Morrison, Falk, Arthur, Palmieri, Brubaker, Ratliff, Rennie, Larson, Sundt, Ziehl. All 1st platoon crew chiefs.
In our last newsletter, the question was raised about one of our men that was killed while on bunker guard duty on the beach at Chu Lai. Daniel Garren (EM 69-70) was inside the bunker when the shot occurred outside while this other man moved the weapons out of the rain. One M-16 discharged, hitting the guy in the shoulder and severed a main artery and caused the death. Garren did not remember this man's name and asked for help. Our Association received calls from several men that remembered the incident, but a letter from David Rewitz (EM 69-70), answered our question. The KIA was PFC George Dewey Brookshire, died on I Sept. 69, from Woodland, CA. This raises our known KIAs to 54. If anyone can recall any other KIAs, please let us know in order to keep the records correct in this matter.
Death came in many ways in our company. WO Bob Pruhs died of gunshot wounds on his very first mission after getting his check ride that Oct. 14, 1966 morning. CW2 Charlie Cotton died of a gunshot wound on the last lift of the last day he would have flown. Francis George Graziosi, one of the crew members of the Firebird that disappeared, apparently died on his 19th birthday, Jan. 10, 1970. The crew chief /door gunner combo of Peter Alden Schmidt and Craig Alan Schmitz died within 16 days of each other. The first died while on a mission into Laos during the other's R & R. The body was not recovered. After returning from R & R, the second of this team was shot in the neck and died 16 days after the first.. Ernie Palmieri was shot between the eyes the day after receiving a Dear John letter. Jim Morrison died on the date of his original DEROS, but he had extended his tour. Our last to die was the company ISG, Harry Kendall Harris, Jr. who fell ad of a heart attack on the beach at Chu Lai. No matter how they died, be it enemy action, accident, pilot error or natural causes, our Association will forever remember these men and the part they played in our history.
We are sad to report the deaths of two of our comrades:
On October 31, 1996, Bob Castle (OF 68-69) had a heart attack and passed away. Bob was buying an airline ticket to fly to Bob Burroughs' (OF 6 -69) retirement at Ft. Campbell, KY when the attack came. Many men have commented to this office about this being a very tragic loss to our Association.
On March 4, 1997, Beryl Scott (WO 66-67) had a heart attack and passed away at the airport in Atlanta, GA. Ron Seabolt flew many missions with "Scottie". This guy could make a war seem almost enjoyable with his mischievous sense of humor and fine flying ability. Rattler 19 will be sorely missed.
At the age we would like to urge everyone to get a physical, go on a diet, quit smoking, exercise and all the other things that will enable you come to our reunions for a couple of generations at least. If you need to ask the V A for help, DO IT! That's what they're there for.
On January 10th, several of our men showed up in Dallas, TX, in order to take part in our helicopter showing held at the Dallas Convention Center during the militaria/gun show. The purpose of our attending this show was to sell autographed copies of Firebirds. Most of our men who came in for this event had major roles in this book and spent many hours signing these for the public. It was great having all this help around to answer the thousands of questions that our display always generates. Our aircraft were awarded 1st and 2nd places in the aircraft division during judging, with the slick edging out the gunship for 1st place. On Saturday, we sold 92 books and should have done as good on Sunday, but an ice storm cut down on the amount of customers, leaving us a two day total of 110 books sold.
On Friday and Saturday nights there was a huge bull session held at the same hotel that our '95 reunion was held. These men attended this mini-reunion: Frank Anton, Joe Bruce, Chuck Carlock, Ray Foley, Roger Hall, Shawn Hannah, Mark Leopold, Jim Miller, Bob Parsons, Jerry Richardson, Ron Seabolt, and R.P. Taylor. Also, during the show, an old Firebird, Ted Lorvine (OF 69-70) came by and visited awhile.
On January 10, 1970, Ted Lorvine was the Aircraft Commander of one of two Firebirds that were trapped by inclement weather. The ships split up to make it back to base and the ship commanded by Captain Herb Crosby was never heard from again. No wreckage, no bodies, nothing. This incident has haunted many men who were there at the time. Ted Lorvine cannot remember who any of his crew were that day and would love to know who was with him. If you were on that flight, or know who was, please contact the Association and we will pass this on to Ted. Ted is in the process of building a new home and will be moving about the time you read this, that's why he suggested contacting the Association.
by John Wiklanski
Attended by: David Nottingham, Kelly McHugh (Firebird 97), John ("Ski") Wiklanski, and Jim (George) Hardeman
It had been 27 years since these Firebirds had seen Kelly McHugh. Kelly McHugh (Firebird 97) - Lead NC, Robert Combs, co-pilot (flying a training run for lead NC), John Wiklanski - crew chief and Jim Hiler - door gunner, were flying a support mission covering the slicks during an insertion of ground troops in August, '69. A slick had already been shot down in flames as we were on our way to cover. We took heavy ground fire and Kelly was hit seriously in the leg by a .50 caliber round that passed through his calf, splattering blood and flesh through the cockpit. The round continued - blowing off the end of the collective arm and exiting through the top of the helicopter. Kelly was also hit by a small caliber round or shrapnel in the arm. Co-Pilot Combs was also hit in the arm by a small caliber round, but by comparison to Kelly's wound, he said he hardly knew he was hit. We returned to LZ Baldy and landed safely. Kelly was medivac'd out and spent over a year in rehab getting his leg back in "workable" order. (note: this complete war story will appear in our November '97 newsletter)
Twenty-seven years later, from April 4 through April 8,1997, four Firebirds who served with Kelly, primarily during '68 and '69, got together for an outstanding week-end of renewing friendships, meeting spouses, sharing many stories, (some stories taller than others) eating terrific food and having a great time.
On Friday morning, Kelly and Mindy McHugh flew into Atlanta from Oakland, CA, where they met Ski and Ellen Wiklanski, who had arrived from Boston, MA, and Jim (George) Hardeman, who lives in nearby Hiram, GA. David Nottingham, from nearby Sugar Hill, GA, joined the group on Friday afternoon. Jim and Debbie Hiler from Ohio, had planned to attend the get-together but had to cancel their plans at the last minute and could not be there. "George" and LaRue Hardeman were hosts for the week-end at their vacation home on Strom Thurmond Lake in Georgia, and they truly did a grand and gracious job of offering a perfect week-end. They provided everything from comfortable accommodations to generous and tasty meals (including authentic and awesome Southern barbecue), plenty of liquid refreshment, beautiful surroundings and warm sunny weather. Everything you have ever heard about "Southern hospitality" is true!
Week-end activities included watching slides, movies and pictures, interwoven with many tales of Firebird facts, lore and legend. There was also time for boat rides on the lake and the Savannah River, and admiring the ante-bellum and Victorian homes and shops in the nearby town of Washington.
There was not a dull moment throughout the extended week-end. The stories flowed steadily throughout the days (and nights), as did the local micro-brews and a good supply of "Budweezer". It is safe to say that there are still plenty of stories and brew left for the Association Reunion in Florida in April 1998. We are looking forward to seeing all of you then.
LIVE and LEARN
by John C. Brown, Arizona Daily Wildcat (February
For some people the thought of selling their business at age 45 in order to pursue their lifelong dream of becoming an artist would be much too risky of a venture to even consider. For someone like Anthony D'Orsay Jones, (EM 69-70) it seems too risky not to.
Jones returned to school in the fall of 1994 after receiving a Vietnam Veteran academic scholarship and selling his plane, which he used as a flight instructor. Now at age 47, he will graduate with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in May.
"1 went back to school, not to necessarily get my degree, but to become stimulated again," said Jones, "My Friend Felix invited me to return and see the amazing results of the computer and how it has integrated itself into the art world."
To make his computer art, Jones photographs his original canvas works, scans them into his computer and then alters them.
"I don't want to be trite," he said. What's inside of me is dynamic and the computer helps me be more versatile. I can take a photograph or painting and with my computer, work on progressions of the original."
Jones signs his work as D'Orsay (he got his middle name from the famous French museum) and has a show at D.O. Draver Fine Art Gallery in Breckenridge, CO. He's preparing another show at a gallery in Vail.
Known as "Tony" among friends, the artistic side of him has been with him ever since he was a child and has always played a significant role in his life. He began when he was 12 years old and continued during his high school days at Salpointe, where he won medals from the Hallmark foundation for his oil works.
During his two-year service for the 71 st Aviation Company in Vietnam, Jones painted artwork on the front of assault helicopters in his squadron and on the helmets of the pilots. "The flight crews paid me $50 a nose and $15 a helmet," he said, "It was an honor to have your symbol on your aircraft."
Jones said one of the hardest things to handle about the war was when someone got killed a week or sometimes even a day before they were scheduled to go home. "It was my job to log all of the pilots' hours," he said, "I would joggle the times for pilots who were supposed to go home soon so that they didn't have to fly so many missions, and in return they taught me how to fly."
Upon returning from the war, Jones first attempted to go back to school and enrolled at the University of Arizona in the fall of 1972. He soon found that the combination of some people's unfriendliness toward vets and the stress of the school environment was too much to handle.
"When I got back, all I wanted to do was to grow my hair long and look like a hippie so that I could fit in with everyone else. But I was feeling a lot of post-traumatic stress and wasn't getting along with authority figures like bosses and teachers," he said.
After dropping out of school, Jones went into real estate and pursued anther dream, aviation. He bought 15 acres on the northwest side and built his first home in 1975.
Jones believes that there is an art to everything and found the masonry work on his home to be challenging and rewarding. During the same time he was married briefly and had a daughter, Jennifer, with his wife. She also attends the U of A. Frank Felix, director of scholarship development at UA and a close friend from high school helped Jones get back to school. Felix has always supported Jones' art and believes Jones is a great inspiration to others, especially younger students who should learn to strive toward their aspirations.
"If you have enthusiasm and imagination and the talent like Tony, you can overcome the bumps in the road of life and have a great pay-off." Felix said, "The fact that Tony sold his plane to get back to school shows how much commitment he really has.
One constant in Jones' life has been his strong motivation not to regret life decisions. "Life's too short to just sit around and be a wisher. If there's something I want to do, I'm going for it. While watching TV, Tony was inspired with an idea for a T-shirt.
"One morning last December I was getting ready for school and was watching the news. All these people were fighting in this K-Mart over some Elmo dolls. I couldn't believe how crazy people were going and how much they were willing to pay, so I grabbed myself and said, Tickle this Elmo," Jones said.
The thought of it made him laugh and he realized immediately he had something that was simple but ingenious. He could make a T-shirt that said "Tickle This Elmo" with an arrow pointing downward. He called his good friends Gary and Judee Limmer, who own a T-shirt and gadget store in the Tucson Mall. He asked them if they thought the saying would have selling potential. Gary Limmer was equally enthused and contacted a national T-shirt distributor to see if their marketing department was interested in the T-shirt idea. The company bought the rights to the saying and made several thousand shirts and distributed them nationally to hit stores about a week before Christmas.
"It was great, I didn't have to do anything. Next thing I know I get this royalty check in the mail - just because one morning the idea popped into my head," Jones said smiling. A national store chain has placed several orders, which gives Jones and the Limmers 7 % of the wholesale price.
"You never know what exciting turns your life can make if you're willing to take a chance," Jones added.
Jones has five acres of land near his home that he would like to use as an art studio and gallery that can double as a cultural center. Poetry readings, outdoor theater productions and music festivals are some of the activities he'd like to host.
In the spring of 1996, he took an advanced artist video class and produced a nine and a half minute documentary on Vietnam using actual super 8mm footage from the war with the help of his friend. Films like his would also be shown at his cultural center.
He hopes that revenue generated from his artwork and the T-shirt will be enough to start the project.
"I believe everything I set out to do in life I was able to accomplish. Whether it made me happy or not is another question. I think art is something that will settle me, bring me peace, maybe create some interesting things for other people," Jones said.
Editors note: Tony Jones' humor is also displayed in this newsletter with his poem, "Ode To The Team". Tony also did a great job painting the Rattler on the front of our display Firebird gunship.
Tom Knapp (EM 66-67) was a Monday qualifier at the L.G. Championship, a PGA Seniors Tour event, held at Naples, FL earlier this year. Tom finished the tournament tied for 23rd and won $10,750. The list of golfers who Torn beat included names like: Gary Player, George Archer, Hubie Green, Bruce Crampton, Bobby Nichols, Gene Littler, Miller Barber, Lee Elder, and many more, recognizable name pros. Congratulations Tom!
The Association was sent the following information by Doug Womack (WO 70-71). This is an excerpt from the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1996:
Procedure for consideration of military decorations not previously submitted in timely fashion (section 526).
Upon request of a Member of Congress, the Service concerned will review a proposal for the award or presentation of a decoration (or upgrading of a decoration), either for an individual or a unit, that would not otherwise be authorized to be presented or awarded based upon time limitations previously established by law. Requests for consideration of awards previously prohibited from being considered due to time limitations should be supported by sworn affidavits, eyewitness statements, certificates, and related documents. Corroborating evidence is best provided by commanders, leaders, and fellow comrades who had personal knowledge of the circumstances and events relative to the request. A request for award not previously submitted in a timely fashion will only be considered under this provision if the request has been referred to the Service Secretary by a Member of Congress. A letter will be sent to the recommending official when the request is initially received. The Service Secretary will then make a determination as to the merits of approving the award or presentation of the decoration or any other determination necessary to comply with the provisions of the statute. Upon completion of the review, the recommending official will be notified of the findings and of the final action taken on the request for consideration.
Before 9 February 1997, these requests could have been made directly to the Service concerned. However, this window of opportunity has closed and now you must use a Congressman for submitting requests for awards. Our Association affords you an excellent opportunity to take advantage of this Act because of having over 900 men located that can possibly verify an incident or action that occurred. The member of congress should send your recommendation to: Commander, U.S. Total Army Personnel Command, Awards and Decorations Branch, 200 Stovall St., Alexandria, V A 22332-0471.
Let me start by thanking CPT Dan Grigsby, 2nd Platoon Leader of the 71st AHC, MAJ Tommy Stiner (now COL, USA, Ret), Brigade Aviation Officer, 1/5 Mechanized Infantry, and MAJ Fred Tolleson (now COL, USMC, Ret), Senior RVN Marine Corps Advisor. In 1971 these men tried to make the system work. They tried to see that appropriate recognition was given to men of the 71 st Aviation Company for acts of heroism on 18 and 24 March 1971 while supporting Operation LAM SON 719 in southern Laos and Quang Tri Province, RVN. Because of systemic failures, these men were unsuccessful. Because failures of this type were so common in Vietnam, Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act of 1996 to include Section 522. Section 522 provided a window of opportunity for recognition by consideration of acts of valor in the Vietnam Conflict, but all submissions had to be made by 9 February to be considered. Under Section 526. Acts of valor may still be considered if the recommendation is supported by a Member of Congress.
On 3 February 1997 recommendations, signed by LTC Robert Harman, USA, (Ret), the last Commander of the 71st in Vietnam, and extensive documentation were hand carried to USA Military Awards Branch in Alexandria, Virginia. On 18 February 1997 orders were signed awarding the Silver Star to WO1 Jim E. Fulbrook (now MAJ[P], USAR) and WO1 Douglas M.F. Womack (now CW4, USAR, Ret) for 18 March '71. They, along with WOI Edgar J. Albrick, Jr. (now CW2, deceased), CPT Danny D. Grigsby, and WO1 Michael F. Harbin (now CW4, USA, Ret) received the Distinguished Flying Cross for the action on 24 March 1971.
Inquiry as to the original disposition of these awards was initially made in 1982, but that inquiry was not supported by sufficient documentation. The research for that first inquiry included the first attempt to establish the A/501-7Ist Association. Later when Ron Seabolt, the tallest Rattler (literally and figuratively), was doing such great work locating former unit members, that research became the largest sole source of names and service numbers provided to him. such as Mike Sloniker of the Vietnam Helicopter Pilot's Association (a "Shark" for the 174th AHC), more documentation became available.
One more individual must be acknowledged. The effort to see this recognition given did not end with the failed inquiry in 1982. It continued because of a heart wrenching letter found in the 71st AVN historical file at the USA Center of Military History in Washington DC. After Ed Albrick's tragic death in a traffic accident on 31 August 1972, his father wrote a letter to the 71st (then in Germany) asking if there was any records of awards for his son. It was a profound honor 25 years after death of his son's heroism, and forward to him Ed's Citation and Certificate for the Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster.
I have given thanks, but I must also apologize to those Rattlers whose names I could not find. The Crewchief and Gunner on 761 for 18 March, and the other pilots and crews that flew on 24 March were equally as deserving of recognition for their heroism. The courage displayed by all is recounted as follows:
On 18 March in the vicinity of coordinates XD64730, Fire Support Base DELTA and XD725350, FSB HOTEL, over 30 wounded Vietnamese Marines of the 174th Brigade were medically evacuated by the crew of UH-1H 70-13761 from the 71st Aviation Company (AHC). The ship was manned by two Aircraft Commanders, WO1 Jim Fulbrook (Rattler 20) and WO1 Doug Womack (Rattler 28), and an unidentified enlisted Crew Chief and Door Gunner. Their assignment that day to fly high ship (recovery) for a flight of four Rattler UH-ls engaged in a resupply mission in Laos. At the end of each fuel load the high ship was tasked to extract wounded from the beleaguered RVN fire bases.
On the first approach to LZ DELTA Rattler 20 executed a high overhead spiral approach to the saddle of the ridge occupied by the firebase. Small arms fire was taken from NVA troops from the 812th Regiment of the 324B Division, who employed a "hugging" technique to keep aircraft from landing at the firebases. The NVA would move in close to the perimeter, dig in, and use small arms and machinegun fire against the aircraft. As 761 touched down and wounded were being loaded, mortar fire commenced. Incoming rounds exploded to the front and rear of the aircraft as the enemy tried to bracket the LZ. As the aircraft lifted off, a mortar round exploded just to the right side of the aircraft. Luckily, rain fall and water runoff had created deep cuts in the slope on the sides of the firebase, and the round, impacting in the cut, and made a fan of shrapnel just outside the rotor disc of the Huey.
As the Rattlers continued with their resupply mission, the crew from 761 was again asked to pickup wounded from DELTA. The second approach was flown by Rattler 28. To confuse the enemy mortar crews, a zig-zag approach was made to the same pad as before. Small arms fire intensified as the ship neared the LZ. The last leg of the approach was directed toward the northern-most pad on the ridge, and at the last few feet the helicopter veered to the right where the wounded were staged in the saddle. Mortar fire again rained down on the LZ, but the feint to the upper landing pad bought the crew some time to load the wounded. This time on take-off a mortar round exploded to the left of the ship, and the crew was shielded a second time by the deep cuts in the side of the ridge.
As the afternoon went on, the resupply ships attempted to put sorties into DELTA. Loaded with resupply, the ships were less maneuverable than 761, and when they attempted to land, aircraft 66-15128,65-19510, and 69-15770 all took hits in their main rotor systems, and the flight aborted that portion of the mission. A 10lst medevac ship also made several attempts to land, but turned away after taking several hits from the automatic weapons fire emanating from points all around the LZ.
Later as the flight was resupplying FSB HOTEL, aircraft 68-15742 was literally blown off the LZ by a motor round. As 742 inched forward on take-off, a round passed through the turning rotor system and exploded by the tail boom, leaving at least 30 hits from shrapnel. The blast lifted the Huey and as the aircraft settled back toward the ground and the edge of the steep escarpment, the wind off the face of the cliff picked the helicopter up again carrying it ;iway from the LZ in a rapid climb. Although the LZ was clearly in the NVA mortar crew's range, Rattler 28 immediately landed and picked up RVN soldiers wounded in the mortar barrage.
Toward dusk USMC MAl Fred Tolleson, Senior Advisor to the Marines on DELTA, again asked the Rattler high ship to land and evacuate the wounded. MAl Tolleson cared deeply for the RVN Marines he served with, and a favorite soldier was among the wounded on DELTA. He made the request with the understanding that due to the intensity of the anti-aircraft fire surrounding FSB DELTA, the approach was strictly voluntary. As the day had progressed, enemy positions around DELTA were reinforced for the siege that precipitated the abandonment of the firebase. At least three 12.7mm (.5Ical) machineguns were positioned at 120 degree intervals around the LZ to prevent a safe approach from any direction.
As the request came over the radio, Rattler 28 immediately banked 761 toward DELTA. A brief conversation ensued among the crew, and all agreed without hesitation to try and rescue the wounded. Firebirds were in the air, but they had expended their rockets and minigun ammo, and could offer no gun cover. To confuse the enemy mortar crews, Rattler 20 asked that a smoke grenade be used to mark the northernmost pad while the wounded were again staged in the saddle. Because of the anticipated anti-aircraft fire, both pilots were on the controls with Rattler 20 directing the approach.
As 761 and crew entered into a high overhead approach and began descent, murderous fire erupted from the heavy machineguns surrounding DELTA. The NVA gunners used tracer rounds to track the Huey as it spiraled down toward the LZ, while the pilot from MAJ Tolleson's Command and Control ship yelled over the radio for the Rattler crew to break right and left to avoid the fire coming from all points around the firebase. The Crewchief and Gunner leaned out from the relative security of their guns wells to identify and engage enemy targets, but there was little they could do to suppress so much fire.
As the ship touched down in the saddle, the mortar fire began again. As the wounded rushed the helicopter, the ambulatory soldiers collided with those being carried on stretchers. Bodies fell everywhere in their mad scramble to board the chopper. As mortar rounds exploded to the front and rear of761, the pilot from the C&C ship yelled that the ship was bracketed and ordered the crew out of the LZ, but the Rattlers held their position until the wounded were aboard. Finally the ship lifted off, climbing at maximum torque, through a hail of mortar and machinegun fire. Then as the ship gained altitude the guns were suddenly quiet in what may have been a silent salute. Amazingly 761 had not taken a single hit. The only visible sign of the intense fire that had been directed at the crew was the Gunner's bleeding hand, probably cut by shrapnel.
Eleven years later MAJ Tolleson would relate one of the more macabre war stories ever told. In the scramble to board the aircraft the Marine that MAJ Tolleson wanted rescued had been knocked from his stretcher falling under the aircraft. The pilot of the C&C ship, emboldened by the success of the crew of761, volunteered to attempt a rescue. The C&C ship descended through heavy automatic weapons fire and made it to the LZ. Unfortunately the mortar tubes were too close to being zeroed in on the LZ. As the wounded Marine was rushing toward the ship he was supported on either side by fellow Marines, and a mortar round struck him in the head. The explosion vaporized his head and killed the men helping him to the aircraft As the men to his side fell away, the headless body continued to run toward the ship, stumbling, and finally falling still. The pilot immediately pulled pitch to save the ship and crew from the mortar barrage.
Until 18 February 1997 the only U. S. recognition received by the crew of761 for their acts of valor that day was the utterly solemn voice on the radio of a witness stating "You guys must have balls as big as watermelons." While CPT Grigsby tired to push through award recommendations at the unit level, MAl Tolleson made Silver Star recommendations to the 101st. It is suspected that since the 71st was not a 10Ist unit, the recommendations were returned to the RVN Marines who on August 1971 awarded RVN Gallantry Crosses for the action.
The following is a direct quotation from the original statement by MAJ Tommy C. Stiner, Brigade Aviation Officer, 1/5 MFCH. It was written in late March 1971 in support ofa recommendation for impact awards of the DFC for members of the 7lst. Research supports that MAJ Stiner misidentified the Air Cavalry unit as C Troop, 2/17th Cavalry. D Troop, 3rd Squadron, 5th Cavalry (Division Reconnaissance) is the unit that all evidence points to as involved. Both units were subordinate to 1/5 MECH.
"At approximately 1815 hours on 24 March 1971, a heavy scout team from C Troop, 2d of the 17th Cav contacted a large enemy force in the vicinity of coordinates XD 6748. One scout aircraft was shot down. The second scout aircraft maneuvered to determine the fate of the first aircaft and was also shot down. A UH-1H attempted to land elements of the aerial rifle platoon in the vicinity and was also shot down. An AH-1G attempting to suppress the area was virtually destroyed by fire from two .51 caliber gun postions. A rifle company was inserted to move and the 71st Assault Helicopter Company, which was supporting the brigade, were out on 10 separate port missions. I issued an alert call on the company UHF for all aircraft to assemble for an emergency combat assault. Within 20 minutes the entire flight was assembled and loaded with troops. These troops were inserted in the vicinity of the downed aircraft in the face of extremely heavy enemy fire. Three of the lift ships sustained disabling hits during the insertion but completed the mission and limped back to B Med at Khe Sanh to drop off their wounded. Some of these crews eventually obtained replacement aircraft and rejoined the action. At about the same time that the first insertion was taking place, a platoon from 4th of the 3rd encountered extremely heavy contact in an area approximately 40 kilometers away. It a was readily apparent that reinforcements were necessary to prevent annihilation of this small unit. The flight was contacted and diverted in the air to the Pick-up Zone where they airlifted a platoon size element into the second contact area. This was accomplished under heavy fire. The troops in the first contact area were again so heavily engaged that it was necessary to redirect the flight to reinforce the ground troops which were inserted earlier. This was accomplished expeditiously and the flight refueled, rearmed, and then returned to the second contact area to finish the insertion there. By this time the ground force had reached the downed aircraft in the first contact area, so the flight was called to extract the dead and wounded. After this was completed they extracted the company. The hostile fire was so heavy that 6 gunships were continuously used to cover the aircraft going into and coming out of the Landing Zone. Even though sustaining hits each time, the crews continued repeatedly until all personnel were extracted. One helicopter, Rattler 11 and crew, was particularly noteworthy. His helicopter sustained so many hits that it was literally shot down in flames. The pilot skillfully guided the burning aircraft to a stream bed and sat it down in such a manner that no one was injured. Throughout the day the entire flight demonstrated courage and a sense of urgency that credits the United States Army's airmobility concept. It is difficult to single out individual acts of heroism since the entire flight was one continuous heroic endeavor from morning til night. I recommend that every crewmember involved in this action be awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his contribution to an effort that undoubtedly averted disasters." signed, MAJOR TOMMY C. STINER, INF Brigade Avn Officer.
The Air Mission Commander that day was CPT Dan Grisby, Rattler 26. He did a tremendous job leading his flight through what can only be described as withering anti-aircraft fire. Tail numbers from the damaged aircraft were not found, but all aircraft lost were identified. There were countless times that Rattlers risked their lives for nameless, faceless victims of war in long forgotten places. Today we know the names of those aircrewmen lost on the 24th of March 1971 in the tri-border area of Quang Tri Province, men the rattlers brought home. D Troop losses were from the OH-58A's that were shot down. 69-16136 went down first, losing two enlisted crewmen, SGT Harry M. Beckwith and SP4 William E. Neal. The second scout, 68-16955, went down at the cost of CPT David L. Coker and PFC Robert D. Walters. The D Troop UH-IH that was shot down was 66-16627.
WOI Ed Albrick, Rattler 11, was piloting 69-15357 when it was shot down in flames as he was coming out of the LZ. It appeared that he was having difficulty controlling the ship. Smoke from the fire was heavy on the right side of the aircraft as he turned back to the LZ in a slow spin. He made it back to the LZ where he held it briefly. Realizing he could not leave the ship in the way of the rest of the flight, he stayed with the burning helicopter, and repositioned it to a stream bed.
While the Rattlers in the flight had each been called to assemble by MAJ Stiner or CPT Grisby, WOI Jim Fulbrook, Rattler 20, joined the action of his own volition. Monitoring company radio traffic, he heard the Rattler flight in trouble, cleared his resupply mission, and flew to their aid. He set up an orbit over the enemy gun positions in an effort to distract and draw fire from the anti-aircraft weapons. From his vulnerable position, he located the NVA heavy machinegun pits, and directed the Cobra gunships to adjust their attack to try and neutralize the anti-aircraft fire. His crew brought their M-60's to bear on the enemy guns, and they remained overhead until the last ship was out of the LZ.
WO1's Mike Harbin and Doug Womack were in the flight along with all the other Rattlers whose names could not be found. More than just concern to retrieve the bodies of downed helicopter crews drove the Rattlers. The 4th Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, the unit in contact and needing reinforcement, was also from the Americal Division. We were all thrust into LAM SON 719, forced to operate in unfamiliar environment, and engaging a determined, well equipped numerically superior NVA Army. We were looking after our own.
Unfortunately, the action of the 24th of March preceded our return to Chu Lai by only a couple of days. It is clear from review of the 71st AVN Operations Report and Lessons Leamed, that some records were lost in the rush to redeploy to our old Area of Operations. Many of the aircraft that suffered combat damage were not listed. Not all of the aircraft destroyed were in the ORLL. All of those records would have been helpful in identifying aircrews for the operations cited.
All the Members of the 71st can be proud of the unit's performance during LAM SON 719. Per statistical analysis contained in the 10Ist Airborne Division after action report, the anti-aircraft environment in that operations was 17 times more dangerous that what was encountered elsewhere in Vietman. It is not just those who flew in LAM SON that should be proud. We functioned well under such adversity because we had Rattlers break us in when we were new. We were tactically proficient because the "old guys" showed the "newbies" how to survive. The Army gave us wings, the Rattlers taught us how to fly.
Editor's note: The Association owes Doug Womack a debt of thanks for not only writing this story for us, but for also showing our membership that there is a way to still receive your medals that will work.
An example of using our membership was recently shown by Mark Corker (EM 67-68) who received an eye injury while on a mission with the Firebirds. Mark was trying to locate anyone that could confirm this injury. Roger Hall had asked Will Latimer's sister to loan him Will's diary. (Will was KIA on his 2nd tour) In the diary dated April 29, 1968, Will wrote about Corker getting fragments in his eye. This was the type of confirmation Mark was searching for to use on his VA claim.
Roger Hall was devastated to learn of Latimer's death after he joined our Association. Through his contacts in our association, Roger was able to contact Latimer's mom and sister in Arkansas and Roger decided to do something for Will's family and himself. He contacted the local newspaper in Searcy, Arkansas, The Daily Citizen, and asked if the editor would be interested in printing a story about what Will's comrades thought about him. The editor was thrilled about this idea which produced the following story in The Daily Citizen, printed on September 2, 1996:
Back in 1967 and 1968, I served in Vietnam with the 71st Assault Helicopter Company. This unit could be argued to have been the finest attack helicopter unit in the war. One of the gunship pilots I flew with was from Searcy, AR. Here is how we remember Will Latimer, along with stories by the men who knew him and flew with him almost every day.
I was not a pilot. I was a gunship helicopter door gunner. I flew with every helicopter pilot in the company. This is not intended to make light of our other pilots because they were all very good, dedicated men who because of their skill I am alive today. The one who I believe was the finest, bravest, most dedicated helicopter pilot was Will Latimer.
The Doogie Howser-looking helicopter pilot standing next to his helicopter looked like any other little boy wearing his father's uniform playing Army. This was not so, for it was his uniform and he was the "BEST".
I cannot estimate how many lives were saved by the commitment of our crews to support units under heavy attack, no matter how difficult or dangerous the situation. These were men not looking for medals, and nobody even said "thanks". However, you ask any infantry men that ever needed a Firebird gunship for support, when we arrived on-station we were there to do a job. We stayed until the last rocket and bullet were fired. We never once left because of the extreme danger to ourselves.
Will Latimer was fearless. He would fly low and slow in order to draw fire away from the infantry troops and at us so we could see where to fire back, and fire back we did. He would direct the crew where he wanted us to fire, always making sure we knew where the friendlies were in order to now shoot our own men, at the same time maneuvering the helicopter to line up his rocket sites on the target! Man, could that guy hit his target! I once saw him put two rockets through the door of a cement machine gun bunker. What a shot! Will was wounded while flying the Firebirds.
Why am I telling you this almost 30 years later? ell, I came home in March of 1968 and Will was still there. I never knew if he made it home or not until just recently with the release of Chuck Carlock's new book, Firebirds. It is the story of the gunship platoon I flew with. When I read this book, I learned to my pleasure that men I left behind indeed did com home alive. I cannot say how sad I was to hear that, although having completed his tour with our unit, while serving a second tour with only a couple months left on his tour, our fearless pilot finally tested Mr. Death's' one time too many and Mr. Death won. He took Will away from us, his friends, and all the people who loved him. His father, Will Sr., has now passed on also, but his mom still lives in Searcy. Will has a sister who lives in Arkansas. When you see Will's mom at the store or around town, please tell her, her son was THE BEST OF THE BEST. signed Roger Hall, Bakersfield, CA.
When I think of Will Latimer I always think of March 11, 1968. Will was flight team lead of two helicopter gunships that were shot full of holes by enemy anti-aircraft guns as he drove the enemy back from an American infantry unit in danger of being overrun by a North Vietnamese Army battalion. As he flew from the area he told me over the radio that the infantry commander (Lt. David Zbozian) was shot two times as he talked over the radio. Zbozian (currently from Dickson, Tennessee) was wounded 13 times that day and was later in the hospital with one of our pilots that was shot down suffering a broken back. We had three helicopters shot down that day and seventeen shot full of holes. Will left his battle-damaged gunship helicopter and flying in another one, went back to rescue one of the crews of a gunship helicopter that was shot down. To the best of my knowledge, all Will received for his efforts that day was a possible "thank you" from the gunship crew. signed: Chuck Carlock, Author of "Firebirds"
The memories I have of Will Latimer are in no way meant to hurt or put down anyone else that I flew with in Vietnam. I will further add that most are not recognized except among ourselves.
In late 1967 while serving as crew chief in the Firebirds Gun Platoon, Will Latimer flew my aircraft. He was friendly, very professional, and expected 100%, which he got from our crew. Before long, he was flying our aircraft a lot, so I think he was in a position to request the aircraft crew he wanted.
Later at Hill 35, where we were on stand-by with two gunships (UH-I C), Will landed with another aircraft to replace one that was due maintenance. The action in our area was getting intense for the infantry, and we were being scrambled day and night on fire support for them. Will was the flight leader and Jack Sepp and I were on the wing ship. After the first flight it was nearly dark when we finished re-arming and Jack and I were checking for bullet holes when Will came over to our aircraft. He said to us, "I want you to switch places with the crew on my aircraft." I was surprised that he would change the gunner and crew chief on his aircraft as they were assigned to that aircraft. I protested as I was friends with those guys. He said, "I told them that on the lead aircraft I want the most experienced crew" and if it was OK with them he wanted to switch, to which they agreed. I believe that if they had indicated they did not wish to change, he would have honored that.
Will flew different from anyone else. When we were attacking enemy positions near friendly troops he'd literally go in point blank and that demanded total performance from the gunners. I always warned him when door ammo was low or out because I knew he was counting on it. My gunner and I knew how much he was depending on us and how intense things were going to become to accomplish our mission.
On one of darkest nights ever, we were called out into the mountains. Our infantry troops were in big trouble, being overrun by a larger force. In 25 minutes we arrived in the vicinity of a fire in a narrow valley with high steep hillsides all around, which we could barely make out. At first Will could not get any radio response from the troopers, then we heard them speak so softly we could not make out what they were saying. We flew up the valley and the enemy blasted away at us and we sat on our guns as we didn't know where to troopers were. Finally we understood them, and the radio whispered, "Bring it down, they are all around us". Will asked their location and they said, "We are near the small fire, there are five of us left together. It doesn't matter anymore, we don't have a chance. Bring it down." Will lined us up and we all knew they didn't have a chance either way. We attacked down the valley again and again until our ammo was gone and my gun broke a firing pin with 30 rounds left. Latimer's voice on the radio trying to raise the troopers was a voice I have never heard. He flew us up and down that valley and the enemy gunners knew we were out of ammo and they wanted us real bad. I told Will our door gun ammo was gone, to which he did not respond. He called to the troopers once again and none of us could believe when they answered. Will told them we would fly up and down the valley and let them shoot as us until more gunships arrived. In doing so, we were passing close to an outcropping on the side of the ridges, trying to return heavy machine gun fire with our pistols when something told me I had better repair the M-60 machine gun. In the darkness, ignoring everything, I quickly threw new parts into the gun and was closing the feed cover on the 30 rounds I had remaining when at that very instant we were passing very close to an outcropping and in the darkness we could not see it was loaded with enemy behind a heavy machine gun, which had us point blank. We were going slowly and they waited until we were broadside. All I could see was the end of the barrel blazing away, almost in my face. I jerked up the gun and gave them the 30 rounds. They had us for a moment, but the thirty rounds changed that.
Will was always moved by troops in trouble and would do absolutely everything possible to help them, without hesitation. When our wing man, Bob Parsons, was shot down behind us, Will dove our aircraft to the crash site. Arriving with enemy nearby, bullets started flying and Will, without hesitation, headed in to land. He yelled for Jack and me to jettison our rocket tubes. Instantly I reached out to pull the release and at the same time he shot a rocket from the tube. The blast numbed my arm, and I momentarily had difficulty handling and firing my machine gun. At the same time we received a radio call to hold on, that one of our slicks was nearby and that they would go in and for us to cover them. Will kept us in a hard right turn around Parson's aircraft until the slick pulled the four crew members out, then we followed them out. As we were leaving, we were instructed to hit the downed aircraft. Will turned around and told me to "hit it", which I instantly did and it lit up.
Will briefed us on the way out. It was late afternoon, hot but a clear beautiful day. We were scrambled on a bad one. Enroute Will told us that we had flown many dangerous missions together but today extreme danger was ahead. It occurred to me that he was very much concerned that all of us would not return. We were so young and invincible, flying with him especially. Even though he didn't like the odds, he carried on. The feeling I had was that he was concerned more for us than himself.
On one day in the middle of 1968 somewhere, we took off early in the morning. Infantry troops were pinned down in a rice patty in front of a hedge row. Will took us straight over the troops at the hedge row but what we did not know was we were going point plank at a camouflaged concrete French bunker and they waited. When they fired I could hear their guns above my own. Day and night we flew with the bravest man I ever knew. signed: Ray Foley, Crew Chief "Firebirds"
TEENY WEENY AIRLINE OF COMPANY C
(This story is by SFC Bob Rounsefell and is reprinted from The Green
"Announcing the departure of Flight P-104 from gate number two to Tra Bong, Minh Long, Ha Thanh, Nong Son, Thuong Duc and Coo-Kaa Mung-Gaa ," the metallic voice of the loudspeaker drones out the departure call.
Chicago's O'Hare Field? New York's JFK International? Hardly. Gate number two in this case is a walk-through appeture in the blast wall surrounding the 60-foot square chopper pad and in front of the C Team in Da Nang. Although "Coo-Kaa-Mung-Gaa" lays its claim to fame to the old Jack Benny radio programs, and perhaps C Company's Teeny Weeny Airlines can't take you to some of the famous and exotic places its big, commercial counterparts can, it does go to such places named above which have achieved a certain amount of notoriety in recent times, and it does offer "interesting" flights.
"TWA", consisting of two, very much overworked UH-I "Huey" helicopters, has for its "president" Warrant Officer Robert E. Holly, Darien, Conn., assigned to the 71st Assault Helicopter Company. The two aircraft and their crews are attached to Company C, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne).
"You call, we haul! That's pretty much our motto," says Holly. "We do a little bit of everything: medevacs, emergency resupplying of critical items, delivering the mail, carying people on and off sites, inserting Mobile Strike Force (MSF) recon teams and resuplying operations in the field."
"But perhaps most important of all, we are the primary link to the outside world for the teams and we never forget it. Whenever we can, shut down and bat the breeze with the guys for a few minutes over a up of coffee. It does them a world of good to talk to somebody from the outside."
The crews and pilots are rotated regularly, but Mr. Holly stays on. "They try to leave the aircraft commander up here because he knows the area and can find the isolated place. Sometimes, like now with the monsoons, it's flying inside a light bulb and you just have to know where you're going. You have to know all the little identifying features on the ground.
The two choppers try to make the rounds to all the camps every day, but occasionally the weather or maintenance interferes with their schedule. They carry a variety of material, ranging from ammunition to food to people.
The choppers have hauled German Shepherd dogs, eggs and other equipment in and around I Corps. "Impossible" landing zones are common. On occasion, the pilots had to "bull" their way in, using the prop blast from the blades to beat down the tall grass and small trees. "One bunch spent two days cutting out a pad for me. I came in with the ship and there's a hole in a bunch of hundred-foot trees. I made a vertical descent into the hole, a guy jumped in and we lifted back out. I never saw anyone else. It as really erie!", spoke Chief Holly.
And there are frustrating events at times. Mr. Holly remarked. "I remember one time I had a load already on board when this guy showed up with a forklift with about a ton of materials on it. I hollered Hey-y. I got a Huey here, not a Chinook! His reply was, 'No sweat, sir, you'll be able to lift it.' I told him to get some wheels and I'd try Highway One."
Mr. Holly leaves Vietnam soon. Though everyone in I Corps is glad that he's going home, they'll miss the "Ole Rattler" and his incredible flying machine.
Medal of Honor Information
Info received from the Veterans News and Information Service
Q -- What payment do Medal of Honor recipients receive?
A -- All Medal of Honor recipients are entitled to a special monthly stipend of $400 for the rest of their lives. They can receive the stipend while still on active duty. Many additionally receive compensation for disabilities adjudicated to be related to service and not directly related to the receipt of the medal.
Q -- Are there other special benefits provided to Medal of Honor recipients?
A -- A Medal of Honor recipient is entitled to a gravemarker that includes a gold Medal of Honor seal. It may be placed on a veterans gravesite anywhere in the world. The Department of Defense provides additional benefits for Medal of Honor recipients -- a travel card which allows them to fly, space available, on military aircraft and, if enlisted, a supplemental uniform allowance and an increase in retirement pay. Children of Medal of Honor recipients, if otherwise qualified, are not subject to the nomination requirements for admission to any of the U.S. service academies.
MAKE REUNION RESERVATIONS EARLY
DATE OF REUNION: APRIL 23-26, 1998
CALL 407-351-3500 FOR RESERVATIONS
TELL'EM "RATTLER - FIREBIRD" REUNION
ODE TO THE TEAM
(71st Bowling Team) by Tony Jones (EM 69-70)
Out to the crapper I would trapes
With hopes of getting rid of something I ate
The mess hall was known for it's sumptuous delights
that urged your stomach to do back flips at night
There must be a reason they put it so far
Away from the hooches but so near the bar
Come hell or high water I couldn't refrain
I had to go out there in the wind and the rain
My flip flops kicked sand all up on my ass
The rain made it stick like salt on wet glass
There was no glory there was nothing but gore
Taking a dump in 'Nam was certainly a chore
I was going to explode I'd held it too long
I could see the red cherry passing along
From the looks of it's tracking it must be a bong
One pull with my lungs would sing me a song
As I sat on wet plywood with those crazy clowns
Only two were crapping but all getting down
I wondered what I'd do when the bong came to me
My friends getting mellow, I don't want to flee
It smelled to high heaven like an unwashed foot
Crap stacked so high almost touching my tush
A hit off the bong just might get me started
Tomorrow's crap burning as I coughed, spit and farted
I was at Golden Pin Lane with the best of the league
They didn't mind the stink it was hard to believe
Between every fart they laughed, coughed and wheezed
War is hell with my nuts in the breeze
They laughed and they joked as if at a bar
Getting caught doing this, my record would mar
Could these be the Patriots running this war
If you read Stars and Stripes we're winning so far
The smoke was so thick it was hard to ignore
I forgot about crapping and began to keep score
The next thing I knew 1 was grabbing the door
With that crazy ole smile the lifers deplore
I cruised back to my hooch on that dark rainy night
With my bowels and my head both tweaked just right
Who needs a chopper to take a flight
I Thank God for the Team on Tournament night
For everything there is
an appointed season
And a time for everything
A time for sharing,
a time for caring,
A time for loving,
a time for giving;
A time for remembering,
a time for parting.
You have made everything
beautiful in its time
For everything You do
IN MEMORY OF
BERYL EUGENE SCOTT