Courtesy of Terry Rolinger & Larry Gardner
From Terry Rolinger
OF A CREW CHIEF 1968
arrived in country in mid February of 1968 when the 48th was based at Ninh Hoa
supporting the 9th ROC Division (White Horse). A post Tet mop-up was underway
and I was recruited as a gunner for a few days with a CE whose name I believe
was Panowski, I'm sure about the "Ski" part at least. At any rate I
was hooked on flying and spent the next couple of months in maintenance asking
for a ship on a daily basis.
maint. sarge finally relented and I was assigned to the first platoon
"Snoopy's." I spent several months with them and eventually got a nice
H model, tail number 356 (67-17356), and became the primary ship for the platoon
leader, Capt. Gardner. My father, who worked for a Mobile Oil distributor, sent
me a case of car polish and plastic cleaner and we (my gunner and Capt. Gardner)
spent many an hour polishing that bird to a dangerous gleam. Capt. Gardner was a
great guy wasn' afraid to get dirty and help out.
any red-blooded adrenaline junkie would, I coveted a spot with the Jokers and
was transferred to the guns for the last few months of my tour. I was Joker 83
and was CE on "Murder Inc." We were still flying B models with flex
guns at that time and it was not unusual to see crewmembers running along side
their aircraft on "attempted" take offs, especially on the Hog-Frog.
Murder Inc. was a baby hog with 19 hole rocket pods on each side. We had
the full hog 24 rocket pods but could never get off the ground with them loaded
all the way. My first gunner, who I have recently come back into contact with,
was George Kraft. George is now an engineer with Raytheon.
The Koreans kept things very quiet in the AO and, with
the exception of the occasional TDY to BanMeThout, there wasn't much action. I
extended for 6 months "in search of the war" and flew as a slick CE
with A Troop 7/17th Air Cav in the DakTo area. Got in a big hassle with a
drunken redneck first shirt over my moustache (some things were worth fighting
for, right?!) and extended for another 6 months to get out of that situation and
to get a 4 month early out. My last 6 months was spent as a gunner for the
Sharks, the gunship platoon of the 174th AHC which was then based at DucPho.
I write this, scenes pop into my mind from my time with the Blue Stars:
company commander leading a rousing drunken rendition of "Stewball was a
Racehorse" at a going away party in the maintenance area.
Spending my 21st birthday in the Ninh Hoa whorehouse with the peephole
you could watch your buddy through. Fearing for my life when we were training
Korean pilots who thought left was right and vice versa.
Walking around the tent compound in torrential monsoon rain quacking like
ducks and just enjoying the hell out of it.
Running out to our ships in the rain with buckets, rags, and soap to give
them , and ourselves, a thorough washing. Korean
grunts at some isolated firebase braced at full attention for an inspection in
their underwear. Bouncing some poor dead Korean, we had to sling load out of the
jungle, on the ground on final into their compound. Rescuing a trapped platoon of Koreans from the midst of an
inferno of a jungle fire. Spraying defoliant
from my slick and having to throw away my clothes and repaint the tail boom.
Washing our ships in the river at the water point.
minutes on the perimeter of the tent compound.
Shooting at elephants and watching the tracers bounce off of their backs. Drinking rice wine with the Montangards.
Seeing a shark as big as the tail boom of the aircraft off the coast on a
trip up to TuyHoa. Walking the skid up to tap a new PP on the helmet through the
window and watch him jump 2 feet off his seat.
Hot brass games. Rocket caps
in the shins. (I swear I still find little pieces to this day.)
Eating lobster thermidor in NhaTrang and thinking "This is really
some kind of
war!" Ascending in circles
above NhaTrang one incredibly hot day until the ship wouldn't go any higher, and
then staying there until we were all half frozen.
Buzzing the giant bhudda statue outside NhaTrang.
Hundreds and hundreds of dollars worth of stereo equipment in the middle
of a leaky tent blaring Bob Dylan full blast and having the CO walk in.
"Borrowing" ice from a hole in the ground outside the mess
tent. Eating thousands of pounds of
a meat like substance that smelled and tasted an awful lot like liver.
Drinking beer, eating dried squid, and singing "Dannny Boy"
with some REALLY drunk Koreans. The
smell of KimChee sweat on the Korean grunts when we brought them back from a
mission. Did I mention the smell of the KimChee sweat on the grunts
when we brought them back from a mission?!
to my father who stored them in the attic during the dark years, I still have
both my Snoopy patch and my Joker patch and wear them proudly at all veterans
best to all of you and Welcome Home!
in peace and brotherhood,
From Larry Gardner
comment (above) sure brings
back fond memories. I looked up the
history of 356 that Will has on our
web page. I'd like to remember some
feelings of the time.
noticed that 356 came into the unit in 04/68 with 76 hours on the airframe.
Up until about that time, all of us slick drivers had always flown D
models. The first thing when you
flew a different D for the first time is you wanted to see how much power it
had, and the crew chief could let you know this and more, if you would ask.
recall myself and 2 or 3 other pilots making a few trips to Nha Trang about
March and April of that year to pick up new H models for the unit.
I believe that 356 was about the 5th or 6th H model that we got in, and I
was told that it could be "my" ship.
Until then, all of the company had flown every ship, mostly flying ships
within the platoon you were in. I
think the C.O. felt that if we were assigned ships as pilots, that we would
watch the maintenance on them and take more pride in the care of them.
Seems like I remember a
didn't get to fly 356 every day, because of maintenance times on the aircraft
and the scheduling of the 140 hour monthly maximum we all tried to stay under.
But I tried to be with Terry every time that I could. Terry really took good care of 356 and I always thought it
was the best ship in the company. Some
time after that, I was taken out of the 1st platoon and assigned as platoon
leader in the Service platoon.
Not until I read the aircraft history, did I realize that 356 had an accident with one of our pilots some months later. It eventually went to the 192nd AHC, had a mishap with them in 11/69, and came back to the states in 1970. I would sure like to see her again.