tv Vietnam War Helicopter Pilots CSPAN November 12, 2017 2:49pm-4:01pm EST
steadfast, not only in southeast asia but wherever they may be asked to serve in freedom's cause. collects the american war in the anon raged, lbj's war. from john f. kennedy to gerald r ford. this veterans day weekend, american history tv, 48 hours .ive coverage all weekend every weekend on c-span3.
of the helicopter role for the vietnam war. the national archive hosted this event by remembering the vietnam exhibit. veteransall the anon and those who served during the vietnam era, november 1, 1965 to may 16, 1975, stand and be recognized. [applause] , weeterans, as you exit -- on thech of you back of you.
in 1972. he is a master army aviator. over 19 helicopters and has over 5000 hours of flight time. during his years of service, general cody served in six of the army's combat divisions. during operation desert storm, lieutenant colonel cody led task force normandy, a flight of eight apache helicopters, into iraq and destroyed two critical iraqi satellite sites prior to the start of the allied air campaign. general cody is currently the senior vice president and officer for l3 technologies incorporated. he is the chairman of the board for homes of our troops. board of trustee of the intrepid fallen heroes fund. board of trustees of the george c marshall foundation.
on the advisory board for the hopeful warriors, and the founder and lead pilot for operation flying heroes, an organization that provides flights to iraq and afghanistan 's wounded warriors. general cody received a distinguished graduate award and a good pastor award and is an inductee of the army aviation hall of fame. ladies and gentlemen, please welcome general richard a. cody. [applause] general cody: thank you, everybody. for our vietnam veterans and their families, sometimes saying thank you for your service is not enough. and i want to tell you what i really want to do is say thank you for inspiring a young 16-year-old from vermont back in 1966 as i got to watch your vietnam helicopter pilots on tv, and that inspired me to want to become like you, a helicopter pilot. i was lucky enough to be able to achieve my dream, but more
importantly, as soon as i graduated from flight school, it was hundreds of vietnam era officers and colonels who taught me what flight looked like, who taught me how to be an aviation leader, and quite frankly, i tell everybody i would not be a general officer had it not been for my vietnam tutors. thank you for everything you have done for this great country. i also want to thank you because in 1991 when i came back from the iraq war, it was 3:00 in the morning. i had my squadron from the
101st. we landed in bangor, maine. we were some of the last guys out of the iraq war, the first gulf war. my guys, we were watching on tv waiting back in saudi arabia. we saw all the parades and everybody being welcomed home. my troops are saying, nobody will greet us. 3:00 in the morning, we get off the airplane so they can refuel it, and there was a group of vietnam veterans at 3:00 in the morning shaking the hands and giving my soldiers and myself a welcome home from combat that you guys never got. i will never forget watching young soldiers exchanging their sandy caps with the bush caps on the vietnam veterans. get touched me anyway that you
will never know -- it touched me in a way you will never know. this series about helicopters and those daring and that flew helicopters and their crews as part of the vietnam series is something that all americans should know about. we should take time to honor. i am very pleased that the archives are doing that. what you all did in vietnam was really transform our army and our way of thinking about the warfare in terms of the 360 degree battlefield. today, many soldiers are alive from battles of iraq and afghanistan and other places that we have thought in -- fought in because we learned from you the tactics and
procedures of the vertical lift and aviation in the ground regime, whether it is medevac, crew transport, supplies so we don't have to drive through ied-ridden lines of communications to the attack helicopter's role on the battlefield. a lot of people do not know that we sent 7000 uh1's to vietnam, and over 3000 of them got shot down. we sent over 1100 cobras, just like the h1g that is out there. we sent 1100 of those in combat. over 300 of those shot down. over 2200 pilots, helicopter pilot, our fallen comrades, got shot down and paid the last final salute to the united states in sacrifice to all of us. and we learned from all of that. i think it is fitting that we take time to understand the sacrifices of you guys and those who over at arlington cemetery and how important it was the way you pioneered today's aviation force. in 1979, we had the hostage situation over in iran. as you know, that did not end well. immediately thereafter, we
formed up what is now the 160th special operations regiment, and it was vietnam veteran pilots that we called back to active duty to form of what is now the gunship company, the lift company, and it was again the vietnam veteran helicopter pilots who we depended upon to get the tactics, techniques, and procedures down so we can form of that special helicopter unit, which is today known as the night stalkers and probably is the world's best unit on aviation. today, you will get to hear from several of our vietnam helicopter pilots. they all have great stories to tell. they are all heroes in their own right just like you. they are all great americans, great patriots. but the other thing is they are great brothers in arms. these guys have been together ever since vietnam. people forget it has been over 50 years since we brought in the huey and cobra into vietnam, so i think it is fitting we hear from them today.
i will end by the way i started. thanks for your service. i get asked a lot, what do we say to our veterans who have served and worn the uniform and donned the clock of this nation? -- cloth of this nation? i tell them saying thanks is important, but if you want to tell the men and women who have borne the brunt of battle, especially our vietnam veterans, what we really need to do as americans is live our life as americans worthy of their service and sacrifice. so god bless all of you. i hope you enjoy this event. thank you. [applause] >> thank you, general cody. now i will turn the program over to our moderator, duane williams. he is a decorated vietnam veteran and helicopter pilot. graduated from high school in october 1966 and was assigned to the 175th helicopter company.
he served as gunship pilot. after vietnam, he was reassigned to court walters texas -- four walters, texas, until his honorable discharge in 1969. in the 1970's, he was a pilot in the offshore oil industry and began a 31 career as a key -- as chief pilot instruction , pilot, extra mental test pilot with bell helicopter -- experimental test pilot with bell helicopter. since retiring from bell, he currently resides in arlington, texas, with his wife of over 15 years. -- 52 years. please welcome duane williams and numbers of the the and him helicopter pilot association. [applause]
>> good afternoon. can you hear me? thank you all for being here. it is certainly my pleasure being here this evening. and i think it is even more so a great honor to be here with these guys. whenever i was called and invited to come out here and participate, the first thing i did was go and check my size 40 flight suit i wore in vietnam. [laughter] dwayne: i got to get one leg it. these guys maintain a strict regiment of workout, diet. [laughter] dwayne: they fit in their size 40 really good. my wife said you will look nice, so she just me up, and here i am. we do have a story today to tell, several stories. before we get into that, i would
like to introduce these guys. first of all, from the north carolina vietnam helicopter pilot association, and they are the ones responsible for those beautiful aircraft that you see out front. they come all the way from north carolina. they got here sunday night. they will be here for a sunday. they have been standing out there every day, long days, taking care, answering questions, and they do a great job. i think i like to give them applause for that. [applause] dwayne: to my right here is joe, colonel of the united states army retired. he was in vietnam in 1968. he was the commanding officer of the 604th transportation company. callsign, caretakers. they provided maintenance for the 189th assault helicopter
company, maintaining 28 to 30 aircraft. you had a heck of a job doing that. next to him is ed hughes, lieutenant colonel retired. ed was in vietnam in 1971. he flew with the 116th, callsign hornets. and he is a survivor of 719. i do not know if you know what that is, but he is going to tell us about it. and then we have jerry, retired. he was in vietnam 1968, 1969. he flew in the 101st. and he also, i think he flew the hueys, and he also has an interesting story about flying the 806 gunships.
last but not least, we have jerry. he and i are the only two i guess that thought we would cast our fortunes as civilians. i don't know about me, but jerry has done pretty well. one of the things i am sure he is proudest of is he is the founding father of this group. he has done a tremendous job putting it all together and maintaining his aircraft. i know the work it takes, so i would like for jerry to talk just a minute about this unit. if you do not mind, jerry. >> i would like to thank the archives foundation and the staff here. bell helicopter for bringing us here to honor the vietnam veterans. back in 1989, 16 pilots in greensburg, north carolina, saws -- to see if there was an
interest to put together a local organization whereby helicopter pilots can get together, tell war stories, and i always say there are two things helicopter pilots do not do. beer, andt drink they do not tell war stories. >> they do not lie. jerry: we started off with 16 people at about 9:00 in the morning, and with two cases of beer, three dozen krispy kreme doughnuts, north carolina, and a gallon of coffee, by 2:00 in the afternoon, we had written bylaws, elected officers, and the constitution, and set up to be incorporated. we had a lawyer present. three months later after some people decided we need a helicopter to talk about, we decided we would go ahead and try to get a helicopter. we spent three years to try to get our first aircraft.
after we put this thing together and got it presentable, we went to wilmington, north carolina, to do a parade. this was really selfish on our part, but we wanted to ride in a parade. we came through and were putting the aircraft back together. first thing he knew, we had 150 people standing on aircraft. -- around the aircraft. we realized then, wait a minute, there is an interest in this. from there, we proceeded to secure other aircraft. right now, we have six aircraft. we do displays, all up and down the east coast and florida and kentucky and tennessee, we have done over 300,000 series at schools at no cost to schools. by virtue of what we do, we can take these aircraft to schools. not only the historical part of their education, but we can relate to core studies. some student decides what he is going to do.
today, this is the third trip to washington, d.c., this year. this year, we did our third presidential inaugural parade with our aircraft. we have been told this is the most pervasive any organization like this has ever done in history. hopefully we will be around for another one. we will see. one of the things i am a proud -- i am most proud of is these guys they put up , with me. they go sometimes some places that i would not go with me. they put in long hours like they are doing out here today. we are still supported. we take no federal or state funding. no sponsorship from organizations. we have been doing this for 28 years. we continue to do this successfully. it can be done for organizations willing to put forth the effort and have support from these people. thank you all for supporting us here.
>> the photos we have are really not relevant to what we are talking about perhaps, but they are really neat photos. occasionally, i will flip through here so you see something new. it might trigger something like i have a story for that. you will see me flipping through this, but right now, i will let joe talk about what it was like maintaining 28 aircraft in a combat situation. joe: thank you. it is a real honor and privilege for me to be here. i was a young brash lieutenant down at fort campbell. and gung ho. just could not wait to get to vietnam. i wanted to be the greatest infantry platoon leader there ever was. a young lady took me by the arm and said you are going to fight school. i said i can handle that.
long story short, off we went. went to flight school, which was kind of unusual because in those days, we needed helicopter pilots. i went to flight school then , rotary wing and then aircraft maintenance and off to vietnam. i was confident that when i got to vietnam, i was going to end up flying a u21, beach king air twin-engine, nice safe airplane, real high. no problems. well, the dream went kaput. i went to camp holloway. i took over the 604th detachment, which was attached to the ghostwriters, the 189th assault helicopter company. probably the worst time in their history. i was talking earlier today to one of our guys. we got there both about the same time. it seems like in a month or two before i got there, there was some pretty intense combat
operations through that area. the 52nd battalion from our parent organization, had literally float itself into the ground supporting the infantry and flying combat, combat assault, evacuation missions of all kind. long story short, when i had arrived, our unit which was 20 uh1, 8 gunships had absolutely nothing flyable. no mission capable aircraft anywhere. our aircraft were shot full of holes. they were down, needing maintenance. i want to send a thank you to the maintenance personnel that worked behind the scenes over there. i had some of the best enlisted men and warrant officers that i think the army ever saw. they were professional. they were dedicated. they were competent beyond belief. maintenance guys are behind-the-scenes guys.
you don't hear a lot about them when you see the vietnam things and you see the other documentaries and war stories but let me tell you, maintenance , is never ending. the uh one is a marvelous aircraft. go to wikipedia and look upuh1, and you will just be blown away -- go to wikipedia and look up uh1 and you will be blown away by the abilities. it takes a lot of maintenance, scheduled maintenance, combat damage to be repaired. our guys were sometimes 24, 36 hours. we test flew airplanes after maintenance when we should not have. literally sitting there half-asleep in the cockpit doing check tour hover make sure everything was cool. jerry was one of my test pilots. the enlisted guys, we got back to our mission requirement of 12 slicks and six gunships within a month.
it was only the dedication and the professionalism of the nco corps that did that. i had an infantry first sergeant of all things, and he was a leader's leader. nco's you are before are the backbone are the army. this guy put these young men under his arm and just trained them and brought them up the way they should be. made them just love what they were doing. i had a technical inspector that had grown up with the huey, worked on the evaluations when the aircraft bought the airplane -- when the army bought the airplane and he knew as much about it as any engineer out there. i had the greatest warrant officers. we used to laugh about what my guy said he could do a rotation at night in the dark and not have a problem. and they could. they were that good.
as i say 24 hours a day, seven , days a week. we did not have sunday's or thursdays or whatever it was. we just fixed airplanes. they love what they were doing, and they did it very well. one of the more exciting parts of that was recovering downed aircraft. that ran the gamut. there were airplanes that got shot down that we would have to go out and rig and pick up with a chinook or a crane or whatever and bring it back so they can be salvaged or repaired to fly again. there were airplanes that we had to fix on site. i was telling the guys one of the most exciting times i ever had was i went up to a place which was pretty hotly contested piece of ground, and we had an airplane that had landed there and had damage to the rotary blades and damage to the tail rotor. sergeant francis and i, who was
my chief technical inspector got , dropped off on the ground, and we spent about the next two or three hours trying to do enough battle damage repair if you will to get the airplane flyable again to bring it home. i got up on top, down to the waterways, and i was putting duct tape on the rotor blades where the holes were. francis was fixing the tail rotor. he had to replace it in the field, which was unheard of. not another man in the army could have done that. he stood on a 55 gallon drum if you can imagine trying to change the tail rotor on an airplane. the bad guys started lobbing mortar shells into the unfortunately -- and fortunately we were on the other side. but it gives you a attention so we climbed off of the airplane and jump over it and hide. the gunfire would go away. we go back up and do our thing until they start shooting again. after about the third iteration, i said, i think they are having more fun with this than anything else. we should finish this airplane and go home. he said, good idea.
and we did, off we went. that is a quick run on the maintenance part of it. we cannot give enough things to -- thanks to the young enlisted guys and the warrants that worked so hard. the other group that often gets overlooked and i want to give a shout out to is the wives and the families. we get all the glory. we get all of the "thank you for your service," but the wise and -- wives and the families that were left back here in the states waiting, we did not have cell phones. we did not have any way to talk to them or communicate to them for the most part except letters, and they were there. they were waiting. they did not know from day to day where we were. we were too busy honest-to-goodness to think about it. i never thought about dying or getting shot or killed. i did not have time to think about that. i had airplanes to fly. but my wife did. she thought about it every day
as did all of these guys's wives and girlfriends and mothers and families. i just want to say a shout out to them. they deserve our gratitude forever and i thank them. [applause] >> echoing joe, my young wife dropped me off at fort walters in november 1965. we celebrated our 52nd anniversary. that is quite a feat, i think. >> amen. >> my wife, we chose well. all of the wives up there, you get kudos. you really do. i know you go through, and my wife suffered through. my wife woke up one morning or
in the night with a terrible pain in the knee. she knew i had been shot, which i wasn't. she did not know that. she did not know that for weeks. like joe said, they endured and suffered and they endured. the wives get a round of applause. jerry. mr. phelps. jerry was with the 101st. i think he stayed with him the whole time, but one of the things he started flying was the oh-6 gunships. i will let him tell that story and what that was like. jerry: i arrived in vietnam assigned to charlie company 101, the black widows that flew the huey slicks for about two months. they called down and asked for volunteers for the third brigade.
so i volunteered for that. i joined the headquarters and headquarters company, third brigade, vietnam. started flying the oh-6 with the many got on the left side and the door gunner in the right rear and a few hand grenades. and we would go out. our typical day with start first light in the morning. we would do recan around cap evans. -- camp ovens. looking for any targets and sensors would get picked up the night before. many times it was just water buffalo, stuff like that. but every now and then, we would find a few bad guys. -- weit, we had 60 sixes had six oh-6's.
we had the blues platoon. one of the oh-6's went out and found some enemy activity. we could insert the blues platoon to develop the situation. at that time, they were fully armed and carried very few rations. just bullets and weapons. we never left them in overnight. we would call on their infantry platoons and companies developed a further, and we would pull our people out at night. after we completed the recons in the morning, we would marry up with another oh-6 gunship and we would be assigned to maybe an a.o. two recon develop the situation in other area, or if a mission came in from a grant support unit that was in contact and needed some aerial report, they would go
help them out as much as we could. we could also marry up with of the 77th ara cobras, which really give us a little bit of firepower there. we would go down in the treetops, look around what we could find. when we develop something, we would call in for the cobras to help take care of the situation. that was pretty much our routine everyday. we did this area perimeter every morning. we worked anywhere from the dmz south to kurrahee, eagles nest, up by the rock pile, and the dmz, vandergriff, which is the marine base. always interesting going there because the marines dug vandergriff in the valley, and the mountains on both sides are owned by both guys. -- by the bad guys. whenever we landed there, we took fire.
but it was a very fulfilling job. i enjoyed doing it. i was extremely lucky. i was pretty good. i only got shot down one time. we made it through, went back got another , helicopter, and took off again. our day there, i ended up in about 950 combat hours. dwayne: thank you, jerry. [applause] dwayne: 950 hours. i think the average helicopter pilot in the amount probably flew 1000 hours. that is a lot of time. that is a lot of time in a year. it is all pretty much combat from the time you lifted off. , you could be shot anytime. i think that was the average time that the pilots flew over there.
and when i introduced ed, when i first looked through their bios, i saw where ed flew in vietnam in 1971 and he participated in 719. i do not know if you know the history of the vietnam war, but but lam son 719 was primarily a south vietnam operation. at that time, the war was starting. a lot of the u.s. military were kind of standing down so they did not have military support. they were not the primary units in this operation. and it was the largest combat assault operation in the history
of the entire vietnam war. and it was an incursion to cut off the supply line into loas, and they used 276 hueys. i do not know how many cobras, but i am sure several hundred. of that, 168 helicopters were shot down. i think the going in was not so bad. it is always the picking up. the lz's sometimes not so bad. the pz's, the pickup zones, that is when you sweated it. anyway, i will let ed tell us his story about lam son 719. ed: i showed up in vietnam in july 1970, was assigned to the
helicopter company to the yellowjackets team. as a new guy, they call you the new guy. for the first two or three months, you fly with the aircraft commanders that had been there and have earned the right to be an aircraft commander. after three months or so when you have a key related 300 hours in country, they put you up for a check ride. you do not ride with one person. you ride with every aircraft commander in the unit that flies that type of aircraft you are going to fly. in my case, a uh-1 and a hotel model. you have to please everyone of those pilots, those aircraft commanders, or you do not get called in aircraft commander. i was fortunate enough that i passed my ride and i think the callsign hornet 214, and that is what i used for the rest of my time there. we ran missions of an assault helicopter company.
everything from ash and trash carrying parts from point a to point b, resupply out to fire bases or two troops in the field, command and control, combat assaults, could be two or three ships up to 10 ships in that area. in march of 1971, a lot of us were in the club and had a couple of drinks. which aviators do not normally do. they came across and made the announcement that all members of the 116t word to return to their unit. we went back to the unit, and we were informed we were going to participate in lam son 719. about one hour after that, we took off. our flight lead of f slicks and -- of 4 slicks and two gunships. we refueled, took off, started across the past.
for those of you that have been there, you know what that is. it goes down to the south china sea and climbs up i don't know how many thousands of feet, but it goes way up. in the dark, we all went. everybody got out of it but me. there was a mountain to my west. i climbed as high and as fast as i could go. about an hour and a half later i , was brought down. next morning, we got briefed, that afternoon we were on , our first flight going into laos. that is where i developed my appreciation and respect for the world war ii aviators. i now had an idea what they went through. imagine a helicopter flying through flak. not just an individual 51 caliber or ak-47 shooting at you. this was flak. you fly and look up in front of
you in the huey that was there a minute ago is not there anymore. you had cobras flying alongside, and they would find a 51 caliber and they were told, do not attack individual 51 cals, and the reason was they were sucking the cobra in and a second one would open up and shoot the cobra down. no army aviator is going to leave their buddy on the ground. another cobra goes in. then the third 51 cal would open up. now you have two cobra pilots down. we had aircraft from the flow from the 174th got shot down trying to get them out. those three crews stayed on the ground in a bunker, a bomb crater, for almost four days until they inserted a loop of buffalo rangers to secure it. when they did, that entire area was surrounded with dead north
vietnamese. those guys fought for their lives for three or four days. the lam son 719, i never prayed so hard in my life. from the minute we took off to wherever we went west and back again, i was praying. when we did the extractions, they were saying, go down there and pick them up. the first wave went into pick them up. the south vietnamese, they were trying to get out of there because they were getting their you know what's cleaned, and they were not being orderly about getting an aircraft. the huey would only carry about 13 total people, 8 american combat loaded troops plus 4. the south vietnamese were just cramming on aircraft 13, 15, 20, whatever they could get on there. some of these hueys could not take off. they would try to and then they would crash over the ridge line. , we went to the maintenance people, vehicular maintenance, and we got as much accelrys as
-- axle grease as we could get. we greased the tubes and the skids so if they were hanging on, once we cleared the ridgelines, they did not stay long. that is the only way we could save those aircraft and save the crew and the pilots. we did that for two or three days. i was telling dwayne earlier, i have a 1.5 inch piece of mortar round that went through my aircraft going through one of those ridgelines. lands on, down south for a year you got , shot at. yes we took a bunch of hits here , and there. lam son, boy i tell you what, it woke me up, and it really built my respect for the world war ii pilots. dwayne: thank you, ed. [applause] dwayne: like i said, when i saw
he had flown in that, i was like we have to hear that story. vietnam was a helicopter war. i think it is where the helicopter -- it was in its infancy and had to crawl and walk and jog and run in a span of 10 years. that is exactly what it did. across the board, all of the military, all of the branches combined, there was over 12,000 helicopters that served in that war during that period of time. we lost 5600 of those through accidents, but most, combat. and the iconic huey and the cobras that you see out front, general cody touched on that.
the huey, it personifies that war. in fact, i don't know if you know it, but the u.s. postal service saw fit to put the huey on the stamp of the tribute to the 1960's. it is the face of that war. there was over 7000 hueys sent into vietnam. those 7000 hueys to 7.5 million flight hours. we lost 3600, i think. almost half. of the 12,000, we lost almost half, of the 7000, we lost almost half. as a general cody mentioned the , cobra was the johnny-come-lately.
it did not get there until late 1967, 1968, and it flew over one million hours. we lost 300. it was a risky business. i read several articles where it listed the most dangerous jobs in vietnam. which one do you think was number one? helicopter air crewman. number two was the long-range recon controls. -- patrols. oh boy. those guys. the third was the tunnel rats. let me tell you, tunnel rats get the top of the heat. it was a risky business. that was just part of the price, i suppose. we lost a lot of good men. general cody mentioned the men we lost.
percentagewise, we represent a small number, but we had a high casualty rate overall. i read an article once where it said that the marines lost a lot of people. they lost over 13,000. crewmen in the marines, you had three times a greater risk of being shut down and killed as a helicopter crewman as you did being an infantryman. and we can sit here and talk about that, but i think the take away from that is i think as general cody said, i think it started a new -- now there is not a unit in the military in the world that is not have a
-- that does not have a lot of helicopters. these guys are the ones that set the pace. any of you have anything you can add to this? >> i would like to add two comments. i want to back joe up on the merchants personnel. i flew 1100 comment hours in two months and never had one mechanical failure that was not caused by me hitting a tree or something. [laughter] >> never had an engine failure. never had problems at all. the second thing is the warrant officer. are there any officer pilots here? outstanding. ok. medevac. flight school told us how to find helicopter. -- fly the helicopters. the warrant officers in vietnam taught me how to really fight -- fly that helicopter and what it would do. everything i did after that i , owe to them just like general cody said. they taught me how to fly the aircraft, what it could really do, and how to make it do it.
>> you know when you get to vietnam, like you said, you are treated kind of like a leper. [laughter] >> like you said, the new guy. they do not know you. really when we went, i graduate one month and i was in vietnam 20 some odd days later. when i got to the unit, they were really strapped for pilot, but they tried to -- every one of the units, it was not like for that boy in to the meatgrinder. they all try to give you some time. i heard ed mention ash and trash. in between combat assaults. i think it took me, they like to have 25 days, and i had 25 hours before they put you in combat assault. on the fifth day, i was in combat assault. took me four days to 25 hours.
imagine, if you will, a young man who just got there, did not really know what it was all about, and i am sitting as a copilot in the second lift comprised of 10 aircraft. i would be in the second lift, so it is an lz, and they called it cold, which means nothing is going on. there are no bad guys. [laughter] >> in reality, it meant nobody knew what was there. [laughter] >> that was our experience. dwayne: after that flight from every tree line had a cobra. it is like there is a cobra in there going to strike. i did not know. but i am sitting there. there were jets on call. there was a level of air force vacs. i am listening to all this talk,
and they are hearing gentlemen, , we are on short final. the lz, 30 seconds. we want to be in the kill zone in 30 seconds. well, they say your lifespan is 30 seconds in the kill zone and lz. they start ordering, it is eight seconds. i am sitting here in that first lift hits. all hell breaks loose. screaming, taking fire, getting shot. i remember willy pete in there, and they are hammering away. i hear taking fire from 2:00, 3:00, 4:00. i am thinking, oh. whatever length of time i have between now and when we land in the lz, that is how long i have to live. >> amen.
dwayne: i cannot say i was scared. i was overwhelmed. i just kept thinking, how did i get in this movie? let me off. and then we come in and we landed. the aircraft, the helicopter, just when it comes in inflows and settles in, we settle into the rice patties. when you start selling it, it is like a duck on a pond. you settle and you are at your most vulnerable. you can't fly. they know it takes you a while to get the troops off. 30 seconds, gentlemen. 30 seconds. get them off. i see tracers flashing by. ok, not good. i am already, my gut septa and i sucked up, and i am trying to
sink into the seat. i hear the trail. you have the lead in the front and the trail. he is the eyes for the lead. he goes, they are dropping mortars on us. they are dropping mortars. i hear this and look over and see this. if it had been a hard surface, we would be gone, but the mud absorbs it. i see mud flying and black smoke or flame from it. i see that and here in aircraft, aircraft, and the gutter behind the screens, "i have been hit." i am shrinking, doing my best to get behind that chest protector. thinking, what have these guys got against me? finally at long last, the trail says, troops are out, let's go.
lead did not have to get a second. that aircraft came up and the nose ducked, and we cleared the lz. one aircraft that i have to get in. that is the lifeblood of a helicopter, and he has been shot and he managed to get out of the lz. now we are going to pick up and get more, and we will go back. oh yeah. we will go back. i think that was the mantra of the helicopters. those guys on the ground at new we were going to be back. weknew were going to be back. we took them into combat. we took them into the lz, and we brought them out. in between, we carried supplies, ammo by the time, water, food.
if they got hit, they knew that we were going to be in there to pick them up. they knew that within a matter of minutes, a medevac is going to be in their and pick them up. does not matter what we lose. we are going to be in there. when those guys were engaged in combat and call for guns, they are coming. i think that is -- the first combat assault, i remember thinking this is going to be a long war. this is going to be a long year. maybe i can pick up anything, a tank driver. as you went on, it became accepted. you knew it was a risk you would accept. when i got there, i know these guys would say the same thing, i did not really know why i was
there. i cannot say i was there to fight for democracy. i was there because my country sent me. they asked me, and i went. i volunteered. every helicopter pilot, all 40,000, imagine that, 40,000 helicopter pilots served in vietnam. we all volunteered. every one of us. and i think if there is a legacy, it is the fact that we never left anybody on the ground. be it american, in my case down south, we supported the south vietnamese army. we made no distinction. they were our flock. we were there shepherds. we would die for them.
after a wild, i knew what i was therefore. -- after a while, i knew what i was there for. i was there for these guys. i was there for that guy. i was there for these guys. i was there for these guys on the ground. that is what i was there for. every one of us can make that statement. i don't know what more we can say, but i think we are getting close to where we want to have some -- >> need to recognize the door gunners. they had the discipline. when you think about a door gunner, m60, bungee cord sticking out of the door, he has to have the discipline and presence of mind not to shoot the rotor blade. it is a whole different ballgame. they volunteered. they come in and try it. in my case, the gunner was also
my crew chief. >> the hueys. what you mentioned, in vietnam, survival, it was to survive. you had to be inventive. back in those days, you have to understand, we did not have any of these things you have today. we were likely lucky to have a wristwatch if it works. i was down south, i did not have to worry about mountains. the rice bowl of asia. rice paddies and rivers and creeks and ponds. up north, they had mountains. these guys flew in mountains.i did not have to worry about that . one day i had one of my closest friends flew with the 71st and firebirds. i was at the reunion and they were talking about the moo
moon method. the way they navigated. how did you navigate with the moon method? quite easy. up there when you were scrambled out when there was a call, you scrambled out and it did not , matter what the weather was. they would be in the wee hours of the morning. you have not seen black until you have seen black over a jungle. oh my lord, is it black. these guys, they would use the environment. they could navigate out, but when they go out, maybe it would start getting a little drizzly or whatever. it did not matter what kind of a firefight they got into. all of these gunships say two or three rockets because they all knew they had to go back to the mountains, and they were pretty sure they knew where they were going. it is kind of dark and they are going along, so what they would
do when they would become unsure, they would slow down to about 35 miles. the crew chief and a gunners would stand outside on the skids. they would fire rockets. listen for a bang. [laughter] then they heard a bang, they had a mountain. [laughter] >> run out of rockets in the second. i said, you guys, you certainly topped my source. guys whosaid, those love the way, they taught us so many tricks. we would not have survived if they had not done that. i would not be sitting here with these guys telling these stories. anyway. >> one quick thing.
joe saved me from myself because i had to get shot at for nine thehs by six gunships in field. he came along and said, this guy is qualified. he would work as the maintenance test pilot. i was not getting shot at anymore, but i was losing tail rotors. hydraulics. you know. a lot of times we flew into the fog, climbed into the fog, and rotating back to the runway. in the process, you may lose an engine, a tail rotor. he took me out of the safety of getting shot at and put me where the aircraft would fall out of the air. i appreciated what he did for me. [laughter] >> wrote quick. -- real quick. >> they put me in the cockpit with an officer, 19 years old.
on a mission to get my in country orientation and teach me how to fly. food andaking supplies. there were lots of fire bases around vietnam. typically up on a pentacle. do not know much about flying, the wind gets squarely and you were loaded pretty heavy. we came around to make our approach and the ward officer said, you got it son. put it on the ground. it is a real team effort. you are chatting you appear are doing great. a little bit to the right, to the left. long story short, i was too hot and too fast. i had to come around. i did the same thing. they are talking to me, this time i am too slow. they had to go around again. approach, the word officer looked at me and said you know what, if you don't put
this thing on the ground this time, they will probably shoot you down because they want but mail and food. we got it on the ground, thank god. >> we would love to sit here, but we would like to take any questions on either side? question number one. >> is it on? can you hear me? 48 years ago, i remember you guys as it young and handsome and bulletproof. [laughter] >> whoa! >> you are still handsome but you are not young and neither and i -- am i. we were there for you. i was a nurse at 21 years old. [applause] >> that clapping is for my patience -- patients.
our casualties were by the hundreds, as you know. our heroes were you guys. the dust off pilots. they were bulletproof. we were young. they would go into the worst conditions and be shocked at. couldnded just so they bring those wounded to us. because you were so brave, and because you were so quick, and got to our hospitals, 27 military hospitals in vietnam up and down and then the navy, the hospital ships, their nurses where prettier because they got to wear white. we were in jungle fatigue. the marines were really happy when they got to their post in the sanctuary. the guys came to us and we looked just like you, jungle fatigues. if a patient made it to our hospital, we had a 90% save rate. we saved 90% of our patients who came to our hospital.
i worked in the burn unit. and burns.crashes i took care of a lot of burned helicopter pilots who went home disfigured, never fly again. my hat goes off to those chopper pilots. we loved you guys. we still do. i will get my hugs later. i always do. were true, true heroes. they were there to save lives. flye of you who did not desktops, i am sure there were save you touched down to men. i have fond members -- memories of all of you. all of us nurses feel that way. thank you. >> thank you. [applause] i wanted to thank you gentlemen because of you, i am alive today.
as a member of a medevac company, i served in the central highlands from the pacific ocean to the cambodian border. i personally took part in the evacuation of over 2000 combatants, civilians, and u.s. military personnel. outew over 1800 total fly -- flight hours. i would not have any of them if it had not been for you guys. we would call you guys first. you would go in ahead of us, get the enemies to duck, we would fly and as fast as that bird would carry us. we would get on the ground, if i am on the ground for more than 30 seconds, i am dead. my mission was to put them on board while they are bleeding and cut them off the helicopter at the even act hospital next to a medical doctor within a 30 minutes without fail. 280 5000ted over
american combatants who would be dead today if it was not for their job of protecting me while i was doing mine. so, thank you guys. i love you. [applause] i think we have a short video clip, if we can roll that and show that. it is -- if we can do that. very short, i think it does -- shows a rescue mission. can we pull that up? [video clip]
>> all right. i think that says it all right there. that is what the helicopter does so well. it is always there. .e have no more questions i certainly appreciate all of you being here today. speaking for all of these guys, thank you. it has been quite an honor. [applause] >> god bless america. >> amen.
[captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] this veterans day weekend, american history tv looks back 50 years to the vietnam war with 40 hours of coverage. archival footage and first-person accounts from vietnam war veterans and protesters. to join the conversation, like us on facebook and follow us on twitter. american history tv, all weekend, every weekend, only on c-span3. tonight, on afterwards. >> it was imperative for me because i had a platform, if this is my 15 minutes and here i am, and i am here today, i am not speaking on behalf of the fbi. i am not speaking on behalf of any intelligence agency.
i hope like to say that and pray i am speaking on behalf of the millions of muslim americans and 1.7 billion across the globe that do not think radically. i want them to feel comfortable and stand up and say, that is not the religion, that is what be -- what is being worked by al qaeda. they are not the only announcer: ones with the voices. announcer:muslim american toeral agent requested remain anonymous. he talks about fighting domestic terrorism in america. he is interviewed by michael german, author of thinking like a terrorist, inside of a former fbi undercover agent. watch afterwards, tonight at 9:00 eastern on c-span two tv. -- book tv. there were ago,
almost 500,000 americans serving in vietnam. according to the national 11,360 three000 -- of them were killed or died there in 1967. , unreal america "where we stand in vietnam." it is a critical assessment of the military situated at the time posted by charles collingwood. the program includes a variety of field reports from vietnam and interviews with u.s. political and military leaders, soldiers. >> this is the first of two cbs news special reports -- "where we stand in vietnam." in the final analysis, it is their war. they are the ones who have to win it or lose it. we can help them, give them equipment, send our men out