Little Bird -
The posts about the Valley Forge bring back other memories.
It was early in 69 (Some time in Jan.) The New Jersey was off shore up in Northern I Corps and the 2/17 was given the honor of having her support some of our operations. S*** she was 30 miles off shore and still could hit the valley floor. The fire bases on the rim of the A Shau had be evacuated for the rainy season as they could not be readily re-supplied. I was given the mission of taking the Squadron Arty LNO out to the ship to coordinate activities. Me being a Scout Pilot, and not knowing any better said why not.
We took off from Camp Eagle and took off due East. I had been given the frequency for the New Jersey gun control and contacted them just as I got my feet wet. Things weren't too bad at first but when I lost the shore line reference I got a little worried. The guys on the boat had me on radar. No one else was dumb enough to fly straight out into the ocean.
They guided me in slick as a baby's ass. Then when I got landing clearance I was confused all over again. Port, Starboard, Aft (that one I knew), etc. Me being a desert rat raised in southern AZ hadn't seen that much water any where and then they start talking swabbie. I explained to that control operator and he actually started talking American. They landed me to the aft Helipad and then asked me how long I was going to be because they had a Navy Bird about 10 miles out. I explained my Mission and I didn't know how long them fire control guys were going to gab.
That Control Officer just me if I could park over on that big flat box to my right front. Heck it was big enough for two Lochs. I parked and shut down and a couple of navy types came running out and lashed the skids to that big ole box. Shortly after that they told me to hold my ears and they opened up with the forward guns on the other side of the boat. I thought my Loch was going airborne with out the rotors turning.
It was then I realized I was parked on top of one of them big gun sets. I just set there and prayed they didn't have to fire at something out in the water and use the one I was sitting on.
Got that LNO back on board and headed back to shore. Sure was glad to see that beach come into sight.
I am sure glad I didn't join the Navy
F. Ray Knight,
© F. Ray Knight Jr. 1997
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