Courtesy of Terry Rolinger & Larry Gardner

From Terry Rolinger

MEMORIES OF A CREW CHIEF 1968

I 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.

The 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.

As 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.

As I write this, scenes pop into my mind from my time with the Blue Stars:

The 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.

Mad 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

a 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?!

Thanks 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 gatherings.

My best to all of you and Welcome Home!

Yours in peace and brotherhood,

Terry Rolinger

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From Larry Gardner

This 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.

I 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.

I 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 conversation like that anyway.  Terry was assigned as the crewchief, and he placed our names in black letters right up there next to the doors.  Man was I proud to walk out and fly that ship!  The only pictures of me on the web is of me waxing that windscreen, and I guess I did do my share of it.  I don't remember a checkout from D's to H's, only with the bigger (L-13?) engine, you could not exceed 50 pounds of torque, and had to write it up if you did.  I didn't know that there was a "50" on the gage until then.  The difference I noticed in my new ship with all the power, and the older D models, was that the H seemed to sink faster with a lowered collective.  The D's would float more in autorotation, and when you would lower the collective to the bottom to get down fast.  But the power was fantastic!  After that when I flew with other pilots in the company, I could tell right off if he had D model time.  There was a definite difference in technique in the take off.

I 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.

Larry Gardner
48th  AHC
Oct 67-Oct 68

1st Platoon Ldr, Service Platoon Ldr, 2nd Platoon Ldr

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