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|Men, as I sit here on I-75
40 miles north of Tampa Florida and stare at the miles of
stopped cars in front of me and also at the many miles of
cars behind me I just know there is a terrible accident
before me. All of us sitting here are thinking the
same thing I am sure. Without giving it a lot of
thought I feel sad for whoever is involved up ahead.
I sit here and think of things only a mind with not much else going on can do.
Suddenly I see the medivac helicopter fly over head, northbound at full tilt and I watch with an understanding that not many sitting here on the highway with me can comprehend. I watch as the helicopter nears the accident and pulls back and slows the machine quickly and begins to circle the scene of the accident ahead slowly. Suddenly the circling stops and the hover starts and
the man sitting in the pilots seat begins to reduce pitch and the helicopter slowly lowers to the pavement. I can sit here and know what's going on. I watch with amazement at it all and am moved by it all too.
I am suddenly flooded with memories and feelings that have laid dormant for nearly twenty-eight years.
Feelings of urgency, feelings of excitement and feelings of fear ... all at the same time for I can only imagine what the crew on that rescue helicopter can feel, but I can imagine it not with the curiosity of a child but with the experience of a past life it seems, as I was once a crewmember on a helicopter whose primary purpose was that of a war bird but also was used as a machine
that saved Lives.
Many times that old UH-1H would hover into a hole carved in a jungle forest or come screaming into an LZ (seamed like we came in fast) and we would put those on board who when they entered our home in the air, they were wide eyed and excited and once in a while desperate, not because it was their first ride on a helicopter, but because it was going to rescue them and save their lives. Odd I didn't think much about that until now.
At this moment Crusaders and Blackhawks I feel an unbelievable pride and and honor I have not felt many times before. Suddenly the acts of heroism and the acts war are upon me and I can only feel pride and honor that I did what I did and that I did it with you. You men are my heroes and believe it or not you men are my friends for we as flight crews no matter what the era, we did the same thing and we did it together at one time or another.
The fact that there is a terrible accident before me is a sad and terrible tragedy for someone and I feel for them and hope for them some peace and comfort in all of this. At the same time I feel like saying to all of you, Thank you for my own experience as a crewmember on a Crusader ship so many years ago. If I had not seen the acts of bravery with my own eyes of my Pilots, my Gunners and my Friends, I just wouldn't believe it to hear about it and that's the truth.
The pilot has just pulled pitch, nosed it forward and is flying by and traffic will be moving in a few moments. Its a beautiful site to watch this machine go flying by me. I will sign off now, but my day has changed and my thoughts are of gratitude and feelings that I am a better man for my experiences of 1970 and 1971.
YOU ARE A CREW CHIEF --
the rest is BS
Benj Simpson inspired this note -- YOU ARE A CREW CHIEF -- the rest is BS.
In 1990 I got a letter from APERCEN (Army Reserve Record Center St. Louis, MO) which total me that I had been promoted to CW3 (I thought that I had been discharged on April 1, 1971). I found out that I went home without officially quitting. To make a long story not to long. I trimmed 30# from my old ass, passed a class two flight physical, and was sent to Ol' Mutha Rucker, Al for 25 day of refresher flight training RRAST (reserve rotary wing aviation standardization training?). Hadn't flown anything for over twenty years let alone a UH-1. I was scared shitless almost as bad as Flight School -- Except when I left Rucker in 1971 there were damn few aviators in the world who could even stand in my shadow let alone fly formation, auto-rotate, or stay alive in a helicopter. Now I returned wondering if I could hover! Bought a new uniform, WOC spit shine shined boots and brass, and my silver wings, 40 Air medals, Purple Heart, yada, yada, --- and a Bit Me attitude Maggot 10 has seen and been and done things that you kids don't even know are possible. I reported to a full bird....who just look in amazement and finally said, " Your older then the Command Sargent Major--- you Dinosaur Looking old Fart." The ironic twist -- two days later Iraq invaded Qwait and I was put on 24hour standby mobilization status. The Army did it to me again!!!!! Did this happen to anyone but, Me -- I thought not.
The adventure (an adventure not a career) was incredible I got back to maybe 80% (32 hours in the aircraft
UH-1H about the same in helicopter flight simulators not the "ole blue canoes" real simulators) none of the aviators down there could even imagine what skills I was missing---They just weren't in the training manuals or training experience of the military flight fraternity.
They could compute density altitudes, hover weight, engine performance, but the comradely and gladiator ethic was not there --- we came here to learn to fly not to go to war --- but they went and did well -- I take nothing way from them. I made two more ADT Tours at Rucker and I will personally take credit for keeping LA (lower Alabama) Iraqi free. 68-69 Crusaders know of my Armed Bunker in my hooch -- word gets around --- keep away from Maggot "10" He is old and crazy (agent orange, numba 10, dinkie dow, Nam Vet,) What every, they didn't even come into my AO at all. I opened some old wounds, found some holes in my heart and soul and mind ---the smell of JP-4, the rotor blades, engine sounds, LIMA-LIMA over the Florida Panhandle brought it all back big time. Benj, it is all still there if you needed it ---you would have it all in a second. Having this shit come crashing back on me has made me remember how very special we were---all of us -- An Aircraft Crew was a unit of remarkable skill and courage. Don't dig too deep -- there is more in you heart and soul and your mind then is either useful or necessary to remember. Once it is out you have to deal with it --- don't try that alone.
Brothers that is my little tale. I made CW4. Relived in some small measure the glory of my youth when I flew as one of the best -- the Crusaders..
"10" I will be QSY to bed
Over, and Out
I too, had chills return to my spine after some years, the familiar sound of twin Huey blades in flight. The sound broke my concentration as I was breaking ice on a tank that was froze over and the snow was drifted about 1-2 ft. over the top of the edge of the tank. I had been there working on this cold miserable task for some time and knowing that mother nature would leave no mark of my labor in about 2 hrs. when I herd that old familiar beat of the approaching rotor blades. The rest and reflection was a welcome "at ease". Many thoughts ran through my mind, thinking of our missions. Going out to support people in need, as these guys were doing.
This was the Blizzard of 1978-79. The snow depth on the level was now approaching 21/2 ft. Nonnative people in western NE. were running out of food, some had been without electricity for weeks. The UH-1H comes to the rescue again. I stood there and watched as the two Hueys passed, that familiar, doppler, whop, whop of the rotors to the departing wherrrr of the tail rotor that I once knew so well. I wondered if the crew chief knew his ship like we did, did he know what the stabilizer bars did (provide gyroscopic stability in-flight), did he know the torque of the JESUS nut, and did he know how to position the lock so as to tell if it had been slipped one way or the other, mostly one way!! Did stateside crew chiefs have to pull an intermediate inspection, was it the same as over there? And then the cold in my fingers returned and I realized hey, your not a crew chief anymore. Its not your problem you've got cattle to worry about. Many years have passed since then but I still think about the men and machines of the 187th with pride, dignity and honor. And now I've a place to go and visit with these men, and learn about their experiences in their life in Tay Ninh, and now. Thanks daddy rat (38) and all others who contributed to the web page and net chats!!!
Look out!! As soon as I get the Branding over with and these cow and calves turned out to pasture I'M GOING FISHING!!!! :-) Hell, I may not even put bait on my hook. And before the towering cumulus starts and the pollen and my hay fever get kicked in, I'm going to jump in the plane and which ever way the wind is blowing--- that's the way I'm going!!! Drinkwine, keep those little fingers off the keyboard keys, look what you've done to me, but I guess that's what it's all about-- communication--- and interpretation. Remembering
Benj. Simpson C/E-70-71
Pilots and Gunners
|All this Cobra chit
chat jogged a dormant memory cell...Frank
The day started out like most days, up early, before the daylight. Off to the mess hall for some powdered eggs and coffee and a box of C-rations for lunch. MMMM
Mike Elliot and I got the guns from the shack and headed out to the ship which as we approached was just a silhouette in the morning light. We did our thing with the Huey, mounted the guns, checked the fuel tank for bombs, etc, and waited for the big guys to wander out and do their pre-flight.
Mike asked me "Where we going today?" I had no idea, never did. I was just along for the ride. Could be a PX run to the parking lot or a day of hauling ARVIN'S around. We both hoped it was the PX run because that usually meant a stroll through the seedier side of Saigon and at eighteen, well, enough said about that...
Finally our pilots showed up as we were sitting there chatting about the day to come. The pre-flight took a few minutes and when we were ready to go Mike jumped in on the right side and I stood out front and guided the big bird out of the revetment and over and down and then I jumped in. Up and away we went.
The A/C (and I remember his name and what he looked like, I (C)an RS) mentioned the plan for the day and it was not that unusual, it was the "hauling ARVIN'S around" thing..
We picked the little people up at the staging area and where that was I don't have a clue, not once did I ever look at a map. The flight lifted and headed to the LZ. I remember this, we had a full load! Little dudes, crammed into that Huey, even had one sitting next to me in my gunners well! Wasn't too pleased about that as I was territorial about my space...and to be honest, didn't like Vietnamese very much (there's another story there for another time).
The flight lined up for the approach and as we started the approach, M-60's screaming from both sides of all the birds, everyone serious as hell about getting down, getting off and getting back up and out, is when all hell broke loose.
"Incoming!" I screamed. Rockets! So
damned close that I felt the concussion and it set me
back. This was short final and we were barely moving! The
ARVIN'S were yelling so loud and so fast it didn't even
sound like Vietnamese! I squeezed the triggers so
hard nearly bent them looking for
"SIR! What the hell was that back there!" I yelled into the mic.
The response was "Cobra support."
Wow, I sat back and thought about that, thought it was Charlie getting a damned good bead, scared the hell right out of me!
Didn't know if you guys were just that good and I should be proud or should I be mad as hell.
Well, I was never mad as hell about it.. out of the clear blue sky came the Crusaders Rat Pack. Gave me goose bumps then. Gives me goose bumps now..
Frank Drinkwine Crusader CE 70-71
|Letters Home - 13
Wayne R. "Crash" Coe - Blackhawk 54
It was great to see John Quesenburry and his lovely wife Heidi while they were here in San Francisco for business. I could have picked John out of a crowd, the years have been very kind to Captain Q. It must have been the transfer to Otters that accounts for the lack of strain lines around his eyes.
John and I talked about the fucked up leadership in the early 187th and the reign of Major Bauman.
Right after I talked to John, I got all the letters I had written home, sent to me by my mother. In this group of letters is one dated 13 May 67, I have transcribed it and you can see the ramblings of a 19 year old Warrant with one or two days in country.
I do not know who these guys were, I must have blocked out their names, or have been to stupid to remember, either way some help please.
This is a letter I wrote to my parents.
13 May 67
Dear Folks, It Is now about 8:30 PM and I am completely beat. I flew almost 9 hours without shutting down the aircraft except for a half hour break for lunch. It is really hard work around here, and there is always the constant fear of being shot down, and at night there is the fear of being mortared by Charles, the pressures are something else. we have to fly over loaded aircraft in a supper high Density Altitude conditions. I really don't mind the poor living conditions, the tent doesn't leak and the mud you get used to, but the men we have for leaders really shouldn't be at all. If something doesn't change in the leadership of the 187th there are going to be a large number of young pilots getting killed by some of the ridicules mistakes these so called leaders make. There have been three aircraft completely totaled out by crashes that resulted from very poor maintenance on the aircraft. If I get shot, that's the way it works, but when the darn aircraft blows up, it doesn't even give a person a fighting chance. Most of the Warrant Officers are joining together, and are all putting in requests to leave and go to a different unit if things don't improve in one week starting tomorrow. I'm not a quitter, but I am also not a fool. Now that you all know of my problems, I guess I will hit the sack and get some sleep. We have a combat assault tomorrow morning a 04:30-------------------- and needless t say I have to be alert for that type of stuff. I'll write all of you tomorrow if I can, maybe tomorrow I won't feel so bad about getting stuck in this (#*@#*&$) outfit.
Wayne R. "Crash" Coe
|My Perspective at 18
Frank Drinkwine (CE)
09:57:19 EDT From: Frank Drinkwine
Well, at risk of being a nuisance, there is so much on my mind that I want to write and express to all of you, I ask you to be patient for a time.
First of all. I didn't know the man who passed on recently, but I know of his character and the type of man he was just from reading the letter his friend wrote about him.
I hope someday that someone who knew me will remember me like that! Truly, he is an honored man. *******************************************************************
As a crew chief on a Huey for a year, my perspective is that of an 18 year old boy in a situation meant for someone with some maturity of mind. I certainly didn't have that. My one goal was to make it through the night thinking that if I could survive the night, I could make it to another day. To this day I feel I am a survivor of many a circumstance.
I want to tell this group what I saw and how I felt and about a few men, Pilots and crew that were such a part of my life for that year. It wasn't all bad. In fact, there were times when I had more fun than ever before and strange as it may sound I was happy at times.
I counted as one of my friends though, a woman named Hoa a second platoon Hooch maid. Does anyone remember her? She was to me an old woman then, perhaps as old as thirty! She was an anchor of sorts to me, constantly reminding me that there were nice people every where.
I recall coming in one afternoon after a day of delivering ARVIN'S. One LZ after another... I was in the C&C bird that day. Really boring for me.
When I walked into my recently remodeled room there was Hoa, sitting there on my bunk folding my clothes. She noticed I was really pissed off I guess and asked "Drinkwine, why you so mad?" My attitude then was death to dinks. Screw em. I told Hoa that I had missed a confirmed kill today (that's what I lived for) and I was mad as hell at my pilot for making me stop so he could call in the Cobras to clean up the area before we landed. You see, when we were coming in, I saw the little guys running for cover, fully armed and I had a bead on em!! My blood and my heart turned cold as ice and when I saw them. My pilot saw them them also.
He said something to the flight and pulled up. I said I can see em! He said STOP! Why in the world wouldn't he let me dust off those guys? I argued with him for a moment and he started to get mad at me, real mad. I was livid, this is why I was here I thought. This is what it was all about I thought. For a moment, I hated him.
God what a bummer. I told Hoa, I hate dinks. That's all I wanted to do anymore was shoot em!
She had stopped folding clothes and sat there on the bunk looking at me and listening to me rant and rave.
When I had finished my loud talk, I found myself standing there looking at Hoa sitting there on my bunk looking back at me with such a blank look on her face and tears starting to roll down her cheeks.
"Gee Hoa, why are you crying?" I asked her.
She said to me and I remember it word for word "Drinkwine, I am a dink or a gook. My father, he died in this war and so did my brother and so did my husband. When I get hurt I feel pain and when I feel bad, I cry...just like you do. You talk like we are dogs."
And she sat there and cried and I was quiet. I felt like a jerk. I really liked Hoa. She was nice to me, all the time.
I suddenly remembered my basic training in ft Campbell Kentucky and how we used to run in formation and sing them "I hate Charlie Cong" songs and about all the war stories our DI would tell us and I remember thinking, I could shoot one of them Cong's... I remember the day... that I changed.
Looking at Hoa, I suddenly felt so sorry for her and so ashamed of myself . I forgot she was a person and so were the VC I saw running down there and trying to hide and that at least they were fighting for a cause worth dying for. Was my cause worth dying for???
I told Hoa I was sorry, but she didn't stop crying. She just said "no problem Drinkwine" and finished folding my clothes.
Hmm, was I the same after that experience? Not really. I wasn't angry at that pilot anymore. I wondered about him and what he was thinking about when he told me to stop. Was he just following a procedure or was it something else. I never asked him. I just knew that I was confused and the blood lust I had nurtured for so long was in jeopardy.
I will always remember Hoa. She always talked to me as a friend and she realized I was only 18 with no direction. I wish I could tell her thank you now for that was the beginning of a change for me.
I went on a lot of flights after that day but, things were starting to look different to me. I was nicer to the ARVIN'S...didn't throw any more of em out of the ship prematurely and stopped wishing I could find some VC running for cover.
That captain/pilot was from Boston. Wish I could remember his name.
So men, am I on the right track here? Is this the right format to use to tell a story like this? Please feel free to tell me if its not. I hope it is.
Frank. 1970-1971 UH-1H 279 & UH-1D 626
30 Years Later
Frank Drinkwine (CE)
I have always thought I was "OK". Sure I'm intense, controlling, stubborn at times, focused on the task at hand, an adrenaline junkie and maybe a few other things I do not care to admit right now, but after reading some of the stories I wrote last year when I first discovered this wonderful Web-site you created, I suddenly have the feeling that all was not well in Dodge back then. Suddenly I remember how I was feeling when I wrote the stories to the net. I was elated, but I was hoping to God someone would be there that I could talk to about Viet Nam. My time had finally arrived that I needed to speak up about what I saw and what I did when I was 18 years old. I don't feel like a nut at all in fact I feel I am very normal. I just need to control things now, I'm intense as hell about it and everything I do, I do with a vengeance. I learned that when I was 18 Mike and you know what the clincher is? I couldn't change back to the way I was before I went over anymore than the Tiger can change its stripes. I am what I am now and that's that.
I re-read some of those letters I wrote and I am glad I did as I think things have changed a lot since then for me and it just has to be my attitude. I still have some distance to travel, but at least I'm on the road now and that's the important part, taking a step, trying to get better, trying to see the whole picture instead of just the little part with me in it where I am in control of everything for survival reasons.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart Mike. It started the healing process for you and then for me when I found the net and found you too... we just didn't know it when we started did we. I sure didn't. I didn't know I was this way. Now I do.
John J. Jewett - Maggot "10"
This is the truth and the fact of the matter. PTSD is a medical not a psychiatric disorder. A place in the brain called the Hypo campus which has to do with traumatic recall/memories can been measured with Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). I a "normal" person it is about the size of a pea and low in light -- in a PTSD (especially a combat Vet). It is the size of a large peanut to golf ball size and bright indicating activity. This is reality based it is not psychotic or a delusional response. It directly relates back to combat. The other aspect is the rage component. Aviators in particular are subject to continuous, high levels of adrenaline. In normal physiology the (fight or flee response) stress/fear stimulate the brain to ask that adrenaline be sent to the body to gear up for a fight or a run ... that is normal. Adrenaline is pumped out--- the body has receptors that say that enough or we need more keep it coming. After hours and days and weeks and month of extremely high levels for long periods of time these receptors are destroyed (maybe over 90%). The brain asks for adrenaline the body pumps it -- not receptor to know that it is there -- more is pumped -- still no joy -- more is pumped --- and the body may have 10 or 12 time the normal amount of go juice. Therefore, you don't get angry in normal increments -- ergo.... it is zero to super rage in one big step. It can take 15 to 20 minutes to come down.
There are many different manifestations; however, as aviators we have always been taught --- only God out ranks and Aircraft Commander -- we were totally responsible for an aircraft, crew, and PACs. Flight leads ten ships, 40 crew members, 60 grunts, three gun target lines, artillery prep count down, approach angle, four radios, and then it goes hot ( I haven't mentioned flying the aircraft with flawless skill, while watching the panel, smoking a camel and talking on the radio. Insertions under fire extractions under fire, base camp incoming rockets and mortars, pilots and crew die on your watch, real concern that you yourself will not complete the day. You can not survive combat if you are shaky. Fly scared -- Die scared --kill other people. Yes, Aviators have/get PTSD... we are Just men and we don't show it.
It embarrasses me that I could survive the amount of combat that I flew: I never broke formation, ducked a call for medevac, left a Crusader (or anyone else on the ground). and in 1994 unexplainable shit starts to happen in my life -- emotions just barely under control, "intrusive thoughts", yada, yada. I'm not here to be a living testimonial, because I am usually pretty functional -- but, it can get really scary for me and people around me. I have buddies Vietnam Vets who live it and fight it every day. Jimbo can leave the perimeter His house, Gregs dead no problem there, Cal relives it everyday same ambush, two of these men are still wearing jungle fatigues.
If you don't know about it then just shut up, if you can't or won't help, stay out of the way and don't do anything stupid. There is no help out there except a "brother" the VA sucks --- It is just like going in hot having to reach out for help or to reach out to help--- if you can't do either---don't do any thing stupid --- cause if you get in my face with you ignorant uninformed opinion -- you will probably never finish hurting my feelings --- It has happened --- Yes, I'M MAD AS HELL AND I DON'T TAKE IT ANY MORE..
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