Bad Bill Bauman
I was a helicopter pilot with the 187th AHC, I think we had the most extraordinary commanding officer in the entire military. I must say, that to this day, I have never had a CO, Boss, Associate, Partner, anything to compare with Bad Bill Bauman, Blackhawk 6. Major Bauman had made it up through the ranks to Sergeant before he went to West Point. He knew the Army from both sides, he had gray hair and a voice of pure gravel, I was Major Bauman's Peter Pilot. I loved my job. Major Bauman led from the lead helicopter, not the C&C over head. So flying with Major Bauman was the best for a young Warrant Officer, everyone checked in with Blackhawk 6, I was in the middle of the action all the time just where I liked it.
Major Bauman had built his reputation as a strong leader, and he always took care of the enlisted men first. When the Blackhawks moved to Tay Ninh, the Officers slept in dirt/mud floored tents until all the enlisted quarters were built. Fly all day bang nails at night.
Tay Ninh was a large flat dusty spot with burms and barbed wire all around it. Everyone slept in tents and the only structure around was the hospital next door. It was made of air filled tubes arched to make a U shaped structure. They were air-conditioned and very nice. One of the hospital structures was the Officers Club, the only Officers club on the entire Tay Ninh Base Camp. Frequented by most of the Blackhawk pilots. I think it would be safe to say that Blackhawks Six and his company of pilots camped out there every night. I would not want to brand all the Warrant Officers as the same, but most of the ones I knew were real party animals, serious adrenaline junkies, looking to get laid, and with nurses around it was like adding Gasoline to a roaring fire.
One night after a long day of surgery, the hospital commander, a full bird Colonel, stopped by for a drink at his very own Officers Club, to find a full blown party going on. He stopped the music, walked over to Major Bauman and said, "get your animals out of my club!" Big Bill Bauman stood up knowing full well that he was the largest animal there, and said, "if you call one of my men an animal again, I will smear your face all over that wall," then he turned and faced the crowd. "This place is off limits to all Blackhawks," he said, then turned to his slick platoon leader Airborne Ranger Captain Rock Lungarella and said, "You have ten days to build a club on Blackhawk turf, use all the helicopters you need, use all the men you need, now all my Blackhawks come with me." We all walked out of the room grumbling. Jack McGrady and Sam Bose could not believe their ears, just after you learn the low crawl home, they give you a new test, a different club.
Every man in the 187th Assault Helicopter Company helped build the structure. I had worked as a framer at home in the summers, and could drive a framing hammer with the best of them. I don't know where Rock came up with everything, but the club was beautiful. It was open light and airy, and we held everything from briefings to card games there, and the nurses, well they were there for the opening, and they stayed as long as I was there.
"Crash" Coe Blackhawk 54
Rock Lungarella Blackhawk 69
Tay Ninh, Summer of 1967
©1997 Wayne R. "Crash" Coe.
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