I guess that was my
By Bobby Schulze
As I recall it was quitting time in August of 69. I had been flying the Tuy Hoa Valley all day long. It was nothing spectacular, just the "normal" CA in the AM and resupply in the PM. I think there were two ships doing the resupply, myself and WO David Spies. We pulled into the pad at Phu Hiep to POL (get gas) and all of the sudden a jeep comes barrel assing down the PSP. Suddenly, my ROK observer jumps out and starts saluting from a 1/4 mile away!! Oh crap! I
thought I must have fouled up something big time! I watched as the jeep drove within striking distance of the rotor system. The ROK observer runs over and stands at attention saluting his little tail bone off. A ROK Colonel is screaming at the poor guy and I thought "here we go again". I just want to fly back to Ninh Hoa to no shower water and get a drink right pronto! I figure if I get drunk enough I won't smell myself rotting away!
Here comes my observer with "a request" from the Colonel. Man. I don't want to hear this it's quitting time at the factory! "Sir! (he's screaming in my face) My Colonel wants to know if you can fly out to x-company position to remove dead and wounded!"
Oh brother, I think, this is real cool. Dead and wounded, I know I personally would not want to be left on the ground. "No way" was my first reply! "I'm going home too much fly today". The poor observer was caught between a rock and a hard spot. His face fell to the ground as he went back and told the Colonel, I said "No". Now the ROK Colonel comes out of his jeep walks up to the chopper and salutes me! My God these people are polite. Now in perfect English he tells me that without my help, his troops cannot move during the night to break off contact with the enemy. Now I feel bad.
Wait a minute~~~ did he say "contact with the enemy?" I asked him, "Are your troops in a "firefight?" He nodded the affirmative. Now I was thinking, here I am, no other choppers around, this is going to be a hot LZ, I should be going home right now. I look at the desperation on the mans face and figure I'm their only hope right now. As was my "normal" routine I asked my crew members what they thought. Their bodies were onboard just as well as mine, if one decided "no" I would have told the Colonel, " Sin Loi"! They all decided that they were BIGGER than life that day and it was our duty to go and get the dead and wounded. At this particular moment I went into a rage and told the Colonel to get me a "Goddamn interpreter who could speak English well enough for me to make sure everything was coordinated when I arrived on site." He did, this poor SOB scrambled into the back of the Huey and his eyes kept getting bigger and bigger and BIGGER as I told him I wanted everyone on board within 10 seconds of us touching down. After 10 seconds I was pulling pitch and splitting the scene. (Side bar note) In flight school I learned the "Average" life expectancy of a helicopter pilot in a "hot" LZ was 10 seconds, I was not going to s-t-r-e-t-c-h the average. Believe me, at 10 seconds I was going to be gone! We pulled pitch and headed out for the LZ. The observer was frantically calling the unit I was going to meet. Who of us ever can forget " Yom-bue-shay-o!! An-yee - hash-a -meeka?" He kept screaming into the
PRC-25. Now I'm about to wet my pants 'cause I have no gunships, no slicks, just my trusty Crew chief Gary Moorman and my best gunner in VN Larry Hoenig. I do remember my co-pilot WO Hastings, he performed admirably as I explained to them all the "HIGH OVERHEAD CIRCLING APPROACH". This was a technique taught to me in later flight school by the very best pilot in the world Mr. Henry Mallett.
As we arrived on scene at approximately 2000 feet AGL (above ground level) I circled the LZ and observed many tracers being exchanged. I called WO David Spies on the UHF and asked if he would come back and cover me in case I went down. He was half way back to Ninh Hoa and
running out of fuel. I told him if he didn't hear from me in 30 minutes to assume that we had gone down and send help!!! He replied in the affirmative.
The "high overhead circling approach" was a way of getting in to "hot" LZ's with a minimal risk of getting "blown away". It was a daring maneuver, that I begrudgingly shared with few aviators
who had the mettle to apply it. Here's what transpired. We did a "high recon" of the situation. We determined wind direction and speed. We determined enemy positions. We determined friendly positions. When we were downwind and directly over the LZ I turned 68-15726 on it's left side almost 90 degrees to the ground, I put he LZ on my left shoulder and "beeped" the rotor RPM down with that "magical" little beeper button on the collective. GOOOSH we started to fall out of the sky!!! Every time we started into rotor over speed I'd pull collective to load the rotor system. Meanwhile the Earth is becoming a green blur as we descend and I have to keep yanking the collective. All of the sudden the fire fight stops as we continue a really radical controlled crash. (Later on I figured that when ever I pulled pitch to stop rotor over speed we kept expelling huge puffs of black smoke out of the turbine. The NVA didn't know if I was crashing on top of them or the ROK's so I assume they broke off contact to take cover).
When we reached about 125-150 feet I stuck the tail end of the Huey right down into the ground and all I could see was the sky. I kept it there until we stared to "fall through" and then screamed at Hastings to beep up!! Now we are falling into the LZ, I glanced over at the RPM's as they started to come back and started to pull collective. It was the most God awful sound I ever heard in my life as we came to a GROUND EFFECT hover at about 6"! Everything on that huey was TWISTING, WARPING and doing unnatural things!!! It was great!!! I think I actually used "the pucker factor" To suck that machine off the ground! "Punch the clock"! was my next command as I held her at a hover " let me know when 10 seconds are up!" I barked at Hastings. I felt the ship shift and rock as the Troops were loaded on board. Sadly, after 10 seconds all on board were corpses. I saw NVA regulars getting back into position as they realized I hadn't crashed but had out witted them. I Pulled pitch and did a sideways to the left takeoff over the trees and stayed on top of the trees (my favorite place) for a few miles.
I turned around to look at the dead troopers and when I starred into their blank unknowing eyes I realized what a shock it would be for their family to see them this way now. It was a grief I could never shake. Still can't to this day.
We flew into Phu Hiep with an ambulance waiting for the cargo. When we touched down, there was the Colonel saluting me as I tried to land. They immediately placed all the DOA into body bags. The Colonel came up to me with a paper bag. Inside were two quarts of Calvert's. On the bag he wrote, "To Pilot and crew, Many thanks for your fine support! Col. Kim."
I guess that was my DFC.
By Bobby Schulze
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