Saturday at the fish camp in Hudson.
David Warden and Rock Lungarella and I flew together in Viet Nam quite often. I was introduced to David Warden by Rock, at that time they were both Captains both Airborne and both had Ranger tabs. They were both thickly muscled and never showed any fear on the ground or in the air. I was nineteen years old, a W-1 and dumber than grass. They were and still are my hero's.
Our love for each other has spanned the 33 years with ease, but this meeting was different, Dave had just come within minutes of dieing from a stroke and had difficulty speaking and understanding speech, and Rock just found out Friday that he has Cancer of the Throat, and will be losing his ability to speak permanently.
Both of these old warriors have a shit load of fight left and Dave has lost 70 pounds, Rock is still smoking but knows that he will have to give up the Nicotine very soon.
After lunch we all went for a boat ride out in the
Gulf of Mexico, it is beautiful this time of year here, mid 70's blue sky
warm sunshine. As we idled down the canal towards the gulf, Rock
started telling a story about a medivac mission that we all three had been
on. As Rock started describing the landing zone with its rows of dead and
wounded the hair
Towering jungle trees all around the LZ. Manchu 4/9th Grunts dug in around the perimeter, it is first light just before sunrise. There is no wind blowing and the smoke grenade makes a plume that goes strait up and dissipates. Rock is flying, Dave is in the back, and I am trying to stifle a scream as Rock makes his high speed vertical drop onto the marker with the smoke grenade spewing yellow acrid smoke melting holes in the plastic panels staked to the ground our hastily built landing pad.
We did not know how many casualties to expect, but the rows and rows of fucked up grunts was a shock to us all.
Dave was out of the helicopter in a flash conferring with the medic, they loaded the worst wounded and Dave stayed behind to take care of the wounded troops. Dave always had his Doctor bag with him where ever he went.
Rock and I hauled ass back to the 12th Evac hospital in Cu Chi. By the time we had returned to the landing zone the 45th Dustoff had been there to take a load and so had the 116th AHC Stingers. We took the last load of walking wounded and Dave for the last lap of the day to Cu Chi. Usually Dave liked to go to Tay Ninh, but he wanted to be left at his quarters at the 269th Aviation Battalion in Cu Chi.
We all had a good laugh at how crazy we thought Dave Warden was for getting out of a running helicopter in a hot landing zone. Of course in Dave's mind he was only doing his job.
Wayne R. "Crash" Coe
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