Twas the 10th of December, in seventy-one.
We were rustled from duties to get our guns.
As the radios crackled that horrible sound
“My men are dying and falling around!”
“I don’t know how long that we can hold out!”
His voice was cracking as he continued to shout,
“Munitions are low and darkness is near,
Won’t someone come save us? Get some help in here!”
The Captain said, “Hurry, there’s no time to lose!
Pilots, run up and ready your crews!”
We lifted to Lai Khe, Cobras and Slicks.
Only the best men were holding the stick.
We wore Maggots and Rat Pack on our left chest.
We were Crusaders and we were the best!
They needed us there and they needed us fast.
Without us coming, they could not last!
The night was black as we drew near.
Our hearts were pounding, some filled with fear,
But this was our mission and not one backed down,
As we left the safety of Lai Khe town.
Loaded with ammo, munitions and crew,
We lifted for Chup Rubber, flights two by two.
Chalk one and two took fire coming out.
“Break right, 3 and 4!!” the Captain would shout!
Once landed and empty in that pit of Hell,
Chalk three took the hits. I watched as she fell.
Into the darkness and tree tops below,
She was burning like crazy. That’s all that I know.
My Warrant said,”Empty this bird, we’re going in.
We’re going down there and pick up our men”.
We took off and circled the horrendous site
Where the Crusaders’ horse burned so bright.
We started to land at the closest spot there,
But a big gun was set up on that spot so bare.
There still was no sign of the Crusaders four.
Only the blazes from the left side door.
The word went out ---“Crusader Down!”
The flights came in from all around.
Jungle trees so thick and tall,
Couldn’t see a thing there, nothing at all.
We rotated crews for hours on end.
Thirteen would pass before we saw them again.
A flash on the horizon our eyes met,
Just as the sun was about to set.
The smoke streams trailed green as we flew in,
And word got out we had our men.
Now we were whole again, with red and white band.
We headed back for “Ye Holy Land”.
Based on actual mission into Chup Rubber. We had inserted a ARVN company into the area to set up a fire support base. Evidently we put them right on some regulars who had artillery and anti-aircraft guns. During emergency re-supply that night, aircraft #503 was downed by .51 cal.
All four crewmen escaped, thanks to 2 Chu Hois they had on board. From what I was told, they actually walked through an NVA compound and got food. (The NVA were out looking for them).
I was flying with Cpt. Greenfield that evening just as the sun was setting. We saw two flashes from a survival mirror on the horizon that led to their pick-up.
Capt. Zooks was ac on 503. “Bart” Bartholemew was one crewman. Bill Gray was my a/c on 577. David Mosier was my gunner. I am sorry I don’t remember the other names. I would like to. Capt. Robert Greenefield was C&C.
One interesting point –Upon leaving DiAn, we were Chalk 3. During the mission, my mag compass started to swing and we changed position with 503. The LZ would only accommodate two birds at a time. We left Lai Khe at 15 minute intervals. (Sorry, Bart!)
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1997 2001 WMH