Brigadier General Lindbergh and the Blue Stars

Shortly after participating in Operation Junction City (February 1967) in Tay Ninh Province, the 48th Assault Helicopter Company worked with the 1st " Brigade, 101st Airborne Division on an operation in Bao Loc, RVN, not far from our base camp in Phan Rang. While still in support of the 101st in March 1967, several crews rotated through Nha Trang. The mission in Nha Trang was support of the First Field Forces (IFFV) Headquarters. The crews were put up in a villa on Doc Lap Street in downtown Nha Trang. The missions varied, however, consisted mostly of a VIP courier service shuttling visitors and others around the country. Those crews finishing early for the day were afforded the opportunity to resupply Korean units of the 9th (Whitehorse) Division, headquartered in the Blue Star's next permanent home, Ninh Hoa.

One morning around April 1967 our mission was to fly a US Air Force brigadier general from Nha Trang to Tuy Hoa and then on to Qui Nhon. The name of the general was not provided, which was not unusual; however, we were on the "hot spot" on Nha Trang airfield at the appointed time. After a staff car dropped the general and other passengers off, we waited for all to get on board and buckled up before beginning our start up procedures. I noted the general's name as Lindbergh, and quipped to my copilot, Mike Hayes, that I imagined this guy must take a fair amount of "ribbing" to have the name Lindbergh and be a command pilot as well.

We cranked up and proceed to Tuy Hoa, our first stop. A few miles from Tuy Hoa, I called the tower and told them we were inbound with a "Code 6" on board. The tower requested I contact base operations on another frequency. After several unsuccessful attempts I again contacted the tower; told them of my inability to contact base operations, and requested landing instructions. The tower gave permission to land on the taxiway adjacent to the tower and stated they would contact base operations.

While on final approach I could see there was no sign of activity or waiting vehicles for the general. I executed a "missed approach" to allow the air force an opportunity to notify the appropriate greeting committee and get to the ramp area. I suspect the air force base personnel expected BG Lindbergh would arrive in something a little more sophisticated than a US Army UH- ID model. By the time I entered a second final approach, the air force folks had recovered and rendered the appropriate protocol. BG Lindbergh visited for a couple hours. We then took off for Qui Nhon. The flight was uneventful and we dropped the general off at the requested area. The general shook hands with the crew and thanked us for the ride.

Ten years later in 1977, I was reading an article on the 50th anniversary of Charles Lindbergh's solo flight from New York to Paris. The article mentioned that in 1967 Charles Lindbergh in his capacity as a US Air Force Reserve brigadier general toured South Vietnam to observe and report on the defoliation program.

I then recalled the flight we had made from Nha Trang to Qui Nhon. It was perhaps best that I hadn't made the connection in 1967, as I probably would have embarrassed myself.

During my time with the Blue Star's, the unit also flew BG James Stewart and "The Rifleman", Chuck Connors.

 

KEVIN L. BAGLEY,  BLUE STAR, 1966-1967

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