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Tet 1969 at Cu Chi

Originally published by Vietnam magazine. Published Online: June 12, 2006 
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The American command in Vietnam had predicted the attacks for months — believing at first that they would start at the end of the summer of 1968, then around the time of the presidential election in November, and finally about the time of Richard Nixon's inauguration — but the NVA and the VC remained relatively quiet throughout that period. In spite of a conditional Tet truce unilaterally declared by the Communists, many in the U.S. and ARVN commands thought there would be a reprise of the attacks that had occurred all over South Vietnam in 1968, but the 1969 Tet passed with little additional activity. It was during the week after Tet that the Communists struck, launching attacks against 115 cities and military bases.

On March 10, 1969, Newsweek reported: 'At Cu Chi, the headquarters of the U.S. 25th Infantry Division (Mechanized) some 20 miles northwest of Saigon, enemy sapper squads slipped undetected through the barbed-wire perimeter in the middle of the night and ranged up and down the airstrip planting their explosives. Before they were driven off, they totally destroyed nine giant Chinook helicopters and badly damaged four others. And despite the heavy damage inflicted, some U.S. officers believed that the Cu Chi attack was nothing more than a diversion — a maneuver designed to keep the 25th Division occupied while large enemy forces slipped past the base and moved toward Saigon.'

That was the whole analysis — a one-paragraph report, stuck in the middle of a two-page story that was buried in a 100-page magazine. It was so inconspicuous that it would have been easy to miss. The reporting in Time was even thinner, mentioning the rocket and mortar attacks and comparing the situation to Tet 1968. On March 14, 1969, Time reported, 'The attacks in South Vietnam left 453 Americans dead in the first week, a higher toll than for any one week since last May — higher even than in the first full week of the Tet offensive a year ago.'

A week later, Time devoted a column and a half to 'Assessing the Attack.' The report focused on the attempts to overrun Landing Zone Grant, a'super' fire support base northeast of Saigon. American defenders had reportedly thrown back a battalion of Communist troops, killing 285 of them in the process. American losses were 17 killed, including the commanding officer, Lt. Col. Peter Gorvad.

Tet 1969 was practically missed by the media. Histories of Vietnam make almost no mention of it. Yet the Tet 1969 attack at Cu Chi, where I was stationed at the time, was a memorable engagement. It began with a rocket and mortar attack. The area of the 116th Assault Helicopter Company (the 'Hornets') was near the center of the large Cu Chi base camp. Although the center was where the NVA or VC aimed, a few of the rounds fell near us, waking us and sending us scrambling for the bunkers. These were little more than trenches dug about four feet into the ground and covered with a plywood roof that held several layers of sandbags, a series of 55-gallon drums covered with pierced steel plate (PSP) and more sandbags. The theory was that anything hitting the sandbags would detonate in the top layer, with the lower layers, PSP and the bottom layers absorbing the shrapnel.

There was a wood bench in the bottom of the trench, and there were areas about shoulder height that could be thought of as shelves, though they were really just places where the dirt had been dug out. Minimal equipment, such as aircraft first-aid kits, was stored there.

There were also bare light bulbs on a long wire — looking like oversized, clear Christmas lights — strung from one end of the bunker to the other. As long as the generator was working, there would be light in the bunker. The psychological importance of that little thing — lights — might explain why the engineers on Titanic worked so hard, sacrificing themselves, to keep the lights burning until just minutes before the ship sank.

When I dived in, there were maybe a dozen men in the bunker, sitting on the bench. I was the only one who brought any weapons, having grabbed both my .38-caliber revolver and an M-2 carbine. I was wearing a T-shirt, fatigue trousers and unlaced boots.

At about that time, the ground-attack horn sounded. We had heard it infrequently for six months, mainly when someone caught sight of what he believed to be an enemy patrol near the wire. I took a position near one entrance to the bunker and gave the revolver to another pilot who covered the other. We could still hear an occasional explosion far away, but I felt safe enough in the bunker.

The ground-attack horn continued to blare, and the length of the mortar and rocket attack suggested that the enemy might be making a serious probe. I didn't expect trouble, since — even if they managed to break through the wire — there was more than a brigade of infantry on the base camp. More could be brought in, not to mention the interlocking fire of the artillery at the fire support bases surrounding Cu Chi, and airstrikes that could be launched by the Air Force.

Sitting there, I wondered if I was going to have to defend the bunker with the two magazines I had. Suddenly the operations officer ran around a corner, skidded to a stop near me and announced, 'We've got to evacuate the aircraft.' Someone asked, 'To where?' The operations office replied: 'Don't know yet. We just need to get them off the airfield right now.'

I ran out of the bunker toward my hooch, grabbed my flight helmet, then ran across the company area to the small footbridge that crossed the ditch by the road that led to the 'Hornet's Nest' — our name for the ramp and aircraft parking area. There I met Warrant Officer 1st Class Lance Overholt, a pilot I had known since flight school. He was a 'peter pilot,' or co-pilot, rather than an aircraft commander. Lance suggested, 'Let's get your aircraft.'

We ran into the Nest, between helicopters, until we reached the northern corner where mine was parked. The crew chief and another man were working to get the door guns mounted. I tossed my carbine onto the troop seat and then ran to the rear of the helicopter so that we could untie the blade. Then I climbed into the pilot's seat, looked back and saw that the door guns were mounted. Both men were in the back, working to load their weapons. I turned on the battery, the main fuel and the start generator, ignoring the checklist. After looking right and left, I yelled, 'Clear.'

'Clear back here,' shouted the crew chief. Overholt nodded, and I pulled the trigger that would start the turbine. My eyes were on the gas producer and the engine temperature gauge. We were doing a hot start, and it would be very easy to overheat the engine.

Once the turbine caught and the gas producer had reached 40 percent, I let go of the trigger. Overholt, who was sitting there with his gloves and helmet on and plugged into the radio and intercoms, put his hand on the throttle. I buckled my seat and shoulder belt, put on my gloves and helmet, and then plugged in.

Over the radio I listened to the communications from our operations bunker, the Cu Chi tower and other places. Outside, far over the perimeter, we could see the lights of some kind of aircraft circling. There were some fires burning on the base, but not very big ones.

'We have Charlie on the active runway,' said Overholt. I said, 'We have suppression on the active.' That meant that if we saw movement, the door gunners were cleared to fire. No one from our company should be running around on the runway. Over the radio, Warrant Officer John Schaeffer said, 'I'm off and in orbit behind Puff [a Douglas AC-47 gunship] at 7,000 feet.'

We rarely climbed above 3,000 feet, outside of small-arms range, but this sounded like something Schaeffer would do. He was always somewhere he shouldn't be, doing something he shouldn't be doing.

'Flight, this is One-Six. Join on me.' That was Captain Joseph Downs, the first platoon leader we called Dai-uy Downs (Dai-uy was the Vietnamese equivalent of captain). I had to laugh at Downs' order. It was night. There were aircraft taking off all over the airfield, including the Hueys assigned to the 'Little Bears' of the 25th Infantry Division and the light observation helicopters of the 'Three-Quarters' Cav (3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry). I had no idea which aircraft or which formation One-Six was flying.

I lifted to a hover, slowly backed out of the revetment and turned. Seeing two of the gunships on the assault strip, I moved toward them as they struggled to take off to the south. Shadowy figures ran around below. A burst of machine-gun fire ripped through the darkness, the red tracers glowing as they floated upward, nowhere near me.

From somewhere on the northern side of the runway, another string of tracers erupted. These were green, meaning enemy, and much closer. They looked like glowing golf balls tossed at me. The crew chief opened fire, his ruby tracers flashing down at the end of the runway.

One-Six was on the radio again, demanding that we all form on him, but he still hadn't provided the information needed to find him. Each helicopter was taking a position somewhere south of Cu Chi, on the far side of Highway 1, over the open area.

About a thousand feet down, green tracers from Communist machine guns bounced around, some spinning upward, others along the ground. Red tracers, from American M-16s or M-60 machine guns, replied. A few fires burned on the northern side of the base camp and in the tiny city of Cu Chi.

Over the intercom I heard, 'French fort firing up at us.' The French forts, triangular-shaped structures built low to the ground, were now occupied by South Vietnamese soldiers who had a habit of shooting at everything without regard to its identity. Fortunately, their tracers were nowhere near us.

Near the edge of Cu Chi, close to the perimeter of the base camp, someone with automatic weapons was firing upward. The green tracers were rising slowly toward us. I figured they were about a hundred yards away. Behind me, one of the door guns fired, the red tracers dropping around the source of the green. The enemy stopped shooting at us.

Puff suddenly opened fire, the red tracers of his mini-guns combining into a long, glowing stream that resembled a ruby-colored ray from a science fiction movie. It bobbed and wove along the ground, touched something that exploded into orange fire, then disappeared.

'Hornet flight, join on me,' insisted One-Six, but he still didn't provide a location. 'All Hornet aircraft, join on One-Six, or make your way to Bien Hoa,' announced Hornet Operations. Someone asked, 'How's the ground attack going down there?' A reply came: 'I'm safe in my bunker. I don't know.'

At last giving his location, One-Six radioed, 'All Hornet aircraft, I'm orbiting at 3,000 near Cu Chi city.' Overholt asked, 'We going to join on him?' I said: 'If I can find him. It'll be easier than trying to find everyone on the ground at Bien Hoa.'

'Sir, we're taking fire from the right,' said a voice over the intercom. 'Do I return it?' I glanced out the cargo compartment door and saw a stream of red tracers. That didn't mean that the South Vietnamese were shooting at us, only that whoever it was had American ammunition. It wasn't all that close, either. Someone was shooting at the sound of the aircraft.

'No,' I replied. 'We don't really know who is where down there now. If it gets any closer, then see if you can suppress it.'

I spotted four or five helicopters in a staggered trail formation off to the left and turned toward the group, wondering if this was the Hornet flight. As I approached, even in the dark, I could see the white hornet painted on the nose of one of the aircraft. I passed them, turned and rolled over, catching them. I slowed to 60 knots and said, 'Three-Seven has joined the flight.' 'Roger, Three-Seven,' said Downs.

I said to Overholt, 'You've got it.' Overholt put his hands on the controls and said, 'I've got it.' He took over flying while I sat back and studied the situation. The various radios were alive with chatter, from Air Force pilots, Army pilots, operations, other Hornet aircraft, and Armed Forces Radio in Vietnam. The automatic direction finder covered the commercial broadcast bands so that we could listen to music while flying. I had the volume set low, but could still hear rock and roll in the background.

Below, I could see the base camp outlined in lights. There were fewer fires now and less shooting. Most of the rounds were outgoing. Red tracers bounced along the ground, most of them on the northern side of the base. Some were directed into the edge of Cu Chi city, and there seemed to be no return fire. Schaeffer called, telling us that he had joined the flight. One-Six asked for another head count and learned that most of the aircraft had found him. 'Turning toward Bien Hoa,' he announced, and the flight began a gentle maneuver.

Bien Hoa wasn't all that far from Cu Chi, but by the time we arrived it was getting light. Once we landed and lined up on the side of an asphalt strip, we were told to meet at the mess hall. I was feeling uncomfortable because I had taken off without a shirt. The crew chief supplied a field jacket with Spc. 4 stripes on it. I thought nothing about the rank as we all headed toward the mess hall.

We found a table set up for four on the officers' side and sat down. The mess hall was a little nicer than ours at Cu Chi. For one thing, rather than huge floor-mounted fans that were supposed to circulate air, it had air conditioning. For another thing, the hall was done in a wood resembling cherry, though I didn't pay enough attention to be sure it wasn't just plywood with cherry stain. And, most important, the food seemed better than what we got at Cu Chi.

Some of the officers assigned there looked at me strangely, wondering what a Spc. 4 was doing on the officers' side, but I was sitting with three warrant officers, including Schaeffer and Overholt. They probably figured I was the crew chief or something and let it slide. I was fully prepared to explain, but no one asked.

As we ate breakfast, Captain Downs circulated among the tables, giving us the news. 'Muleskinners got hit last night. Charlie came through the wire near them and ran through the revetments tossing satchel charges into the Chinooks. Blew up a bunch of them.'

'How many came through the wire?' Schaeffer asked him. 'Maybe a platoon, maybe a little less,' replied Downs. 'We got them all?' asked Schaeffer. One-Six grinned and said, 'There are a couple still running around inside the wire. Got everyone a little jumpy.'

'I hope we're in no hurry to get back,' I said.

'We've got a couple of ash and trash missions to fly, but the early morning operations have been changed. Got the grunts in the field around Cu Chi. They just walk out the gate to begin their search.'

After we finished breakfast, our platoon leader, Two-Six, walked over and asked me, 'You ever been to the Air America pad?' 'You mean at Tan Son Nhut?' I asked. 'Yeah.' 'Once; I think I know where it is,' I said. 'You have to enter through the main control tower and not Hotel-Three,' he said, meaning that I'd have to land on the airfield proper rather than flying into the helipad near the biggest PX in the world, just on the edge of Tan Son Nhut.

'We'll all head back to Cu Chi. You'll need to refuel and then fly over to the Muleskinners to pick up a flight crew and take them to Saigon. They're going to pick up a new Chinook.' I consented, and he asked, 'Who's your peter pilot?' 'Overholt,' I said. That surprised him. Normally, the junior aircraft commander was paired with the senior peter pilot, putting as much experience in the cockpit as possible. The problem here was that Overholt and I had been in flight school together, and he'd arrived in-country and at the company a week before I had — yet I had already made aircraft commander and he hadn't. Although I wasn't supposed to know, the platoon leader and the other aircraft commanders thought that Overholt might resent the situation. But Two-Six finally agreed that last night's activities had overruled that concern.

Once we finished eating, we strolled back out to the aircraft to await instructions. Flight lead, by default, was Downs. He rode up in a jeep, walked toward the nose of his aircraft and waved a hand over his head, telling us to crank.

He flew back to Cu Chi and stopped at the petroleum, oil and lubricants (POL) point, which hadn't been damaged in the attack. The rearm point looked as if it had been hit. There were the remains of the 2.75-inch rockets, the wood from ammunition crates, cardboard, paper, smoke grenades and other debris scattered in front. The sign looked as if it had been hit by some of the larger ordnance. The remains still smoked, but not everything had burned.

When the flight took off from the POL point, I broke away from the formation and landed on the Muleskinners' company pad. As we passed over part of their flight line, I could see the remains of Chinooks in the revetments. Here were what had once been huge, twin-rotor aircraft, each capable of carrying 40 soldiers, reduced to a small pile of smoking rubble. There didn't seem to be enough material in the revetments for a Chinook — just ash with partially burned rotor blades sticking out at strange angles.

The Chinook pilots climbed into the back. Neither of them looked any the worse for wear. They were both in fresh flight suits. One carried a black briefcase, a flight bag and a revolver in an Old West–style holster. The other carried a flight bag and wore a shoulder holster with a .45-caliber pistol. Neither said a word to me, but one of them talked to the crew chief. With the turbine running, even at flight idle, conversation was difficult.

'They want to know if you know the destination,' said the crew chief on the intercom. 'Yeah,' I said. 'Ask them how everything is.'

A moment later he said: 'They lost one man, Spc. 4 Isaac Stringer, Jr. He was killed by an RPG [rocket-propelled grenade] in the maintenance area. They lost a bunch of their airplanes.'

The crew chief then relayed to me that the VC had punched their way through the wire, blowing up a bunker to do so. They had first run toward the Muleskinners' area, stopping just long enough to blow up the aircraft, and then spread out over the Cu Chi base camp, looking for targets. Apparently they had attacked the POL point, but they hit the refueling points rather than the storage area and destroyed only a couple of hoses. That reduced the capacity to refuel aircraft but did no serious damage. They found the rearm point and tried to blow it up, but with only moderate success. By the time they moved beyond that, most of the aircraft had been evacuated. The 25th Division, either with its infantry companies or with the military police, had begun searching the camp for the sappers. The Americans believed there might be as many as 25 or 30 of the enemy still hiding in the camp.

As we took off for Saigon and the Air America pad, I looked back at Cu Chi. I couldn't see much. The fire that always burned on the northeastern side still burned, throwing up a column of smoke that helped us navigate. Anyone who managed to get within 10 or 20 miles of Cu Chi could spot the smoke and then use it to navigate the rest of the way. I didn't see any real damage, other than that to the Muleskinners' Chinooks and around the rearm point.

It wasn't long before we had made our way to Saigon, following the standard practice of flying at low altitude to avoid aircraft taking off or landing at Ton Son Nhut. We got permission to land directly at the Air America pad and touched down. Sitting on the pad was what looked like a brand-new Chinook.

The two pilots climbed out, thanked us for the ride and disappeared toward the hangar. I called the Tan Son Nhut tower to take off, explaining that I was in a UH-1 at the Air America pad, and requested a straight-out exit to avoid the traffic pattern filled with jet fighters, four-engine transports and other fixed-wing aircraft. We finally got our instructions and took off.

Arriving at Cu Chi, we refueled and then headed for the Hornet's Nest. I parked in the revetment, shut down and got out of the aircraft. In Operations I learned that the enemy soldiers had all been eliminated. There had been few American or South Vietnamese casualties. The damage had been limited to the Chinooks and the rearm point, though there was some minor shrapnel damage in the company area. Something had poked a couple of holes in the corrugated tin of the buildings, ripped up some of the bamboo matting and put holes in some screen, as well as a few more holes in the tail booms of some of the aircraft.

The damage wasn't heavy, except to the Muleskinners — and even then, some of the destroyed aircraft had been replaced by noon the next day. The entire force of sappers had been eliminated. I never did learn how many there had been. Surely fewer than 50, but maybe as many as 40.

Other than Newsweek, news magazines failed to report on the attack. It was mentioned only in passing, suggesting that a base northwest of Saigon had been hit. Quite a few bases were described by the media as being 'northwest of Saigon,' so those reports could have been about one of the other attacks.

Our mission for the following day changed slightly, but only because the infantry conducted searches around Cu Chi rather than flying out into the Ho Bo Woods, the Iron Triangle or the areas along the Saigon River. We were fully prepared to fly the next day. Admittedly the pilots had been flying since early morning and had had very little sleep the night before — but that was not an unusual circumstance.

Of course, Tet 1969 was nowhere near as dramatic as Tet the year before. The media seemed to believe that fewer troops were engaged and the scale of the attacks had been reduced significantly. In reality, the numbers were about equal, but the Communists had not enjoyed the initial successes of 1968. The news media were surprised in 1968, whereas in 1969 they were waiting for something to happen.

Reporters might have thought there was heavy damage at Cu Chi, but I saw only minor damage and disruption — and, of course, Isaac Stringer had been killed. I also noticed that everyone in the camp was armed. Normally, upon return from the day's missions, the weapons were stored.

The day after that, everything returned to normal. Although the Tet 1969 attack on Cu Chi was certainly disruptive to the Muleskinners, it might be classified as a nonevent except to those who participated. Yet it was one of many mere footnotes in the history of the Vietnam War that became vivid memories for those of us who were there.

This article was written by Kevin D. Randle and was originally published in the February 2003 issue of Vietnam Magazine. For more great articles be sure to subscribe to Vietnam Magazine today!


72 Responses to “Tet 1969 at Cu Chi”


  1. 1
    Don Eriksson says:

    I was there also…in a ditch across the runway from the 1/5th. I have pictures of the burned Chinooks and the ammo dump that cooked off.

    • 1.1
      george lacy says:

      I was in the 20th trans in Cu Chi 69 to 70. I cannot find any phtos of Cu Chi. Do you know where I can find some?

  2. 2
    James E. Murphy says:

    I was with the 125th Sig. Bn. and on Battalion Guard that night. Shortly after the sirens went off we headed out to our sector as a reaction force. Going through the Wolfhound area, we were ambushed. It was a night to remember.

    • 2.1
      Dave Heathcott says:

      Hey Jim,
      I was with 125th sig bn as well but I left for the world Feb68 and thank goodness missed tet 69. I was in company C assigned to the photo div. Do yoou know any of the guys from co C ?

  3. 3
    Ginny Petersen says:

    My brother , Mike, was there at this time, just having arrived "in
    country". It is funny, when I think of Vietnam and those who
    served, you are all 19 years old in my mind…I forget that time
    has marched on. God bless you for your sacrifices, and God bless
    those gave the ultimate sacrifice. You will ALWAYS be heroes.

  4. 4
    Lorenzo Royster says:

    Dear colleagues of Lorenzo (Jerry) Royster,
    Lorenzo was a member of the 242 Helicopter, 1st aviation
    company and he was in at Cuchi. I am writing for him as I am his
    Speech therapist. He was very moved reading this story and he is
    proudly wearing his CUCHI hat on his birthday. He was there
    in 1968-69 and has since become very disabled with his speech.
    He sends his best wishes to you and thinks deeply about the
    secrifices taht wer emade during this time. He asked me to write
    to you and he can be reached at my email address,
    Melissa.zilberstein@va.gov. Please send a good hello. He is in
    tears reading this and really needs your good wishes. He asked me
    to send this to you. God bless you and thank you for your service
    to our country from Lorenzo and Melissa.

  5. 5
    David A. Farrell says:

    I was there when Cu Chi got hit. I spent the night in a ditch not far behind the front lines on the bunker. All night fire fights broke out and we thought that if the bunker line was overrun we were the backups to plug the hole. But we were never called up to the bunker line, although we did receive rocket and mortar fire all night, I think from overshots on the bunker line. I was in the supply battalion, working for a Lt. Col. Rogers and Master Sgt. Remington. My company was called out in full battle gear, boarded 2.5 ton trucks and taken to our designated area. C-130 gunships were scanning the bunker lines with large spotlights and red tracers were streaming down from the gunships. It looked like they were pouring large buckets of red paint out of the ships, and with the smoke and fog, it looked like the film the War of the Worlds. Of course, we knew nothing about what was going on, the size of the NVA group that hit us or what was to transpire. I said to myself as I boarded the truck, "Well, I guess this is where I get it. I never thought my short little life would come to an end in this miserable little hell hole. I thought of my wife and one year old son, about what they were doing, and wondered if I would ever see them again. Of course, it was not nearly as bad as the guys had it on the bunker line (I think they were seasoned frontline fighters) but it was real scary, not knowing what was transpiring. And of course you never knew whether a rocket or mortar would land in the ditch and blow you up. The next morning we were used to make a sweep through our area and along the bunker line to check to see if some NVA was still lingering in the area. That was scary too since you knew they were just using you to draw fire in order to see if they could find some stranglers. There was a number of dead NVA lying near the wire and the gunships were stilling pounding some dug in near the bunkerline. I visited the airfield and there were a number of Chinooks and other types of aircraft burned to a crisp. It looked like where a huge plastic toy had been burned. It was my only taste of combat and I always tell people, I got close enough to combat to get the shit scared out of me, but not close enough to get hurt. I know now what it means when the Army says everyone in the Army is first and foremost an infantry soldier because if they need you they will throw you into combat, although you are not prepared and well-trained for it. They need warm bodies in emergencies and will not hesitate to convert an inexperienced behind the lines unit into a front line unit if they need it. I am not sure of casualties in our area, but I heard a rumor that 20 NVA and two Americans were killed along our bunker line sector. Again, that is unconfirmed. I saw at least three dead NVA who had not yet been removed from where they died. All they had on were rubber sneakers, a small wrap around their privates and wate, bandeliers of ammo strapped around their shoulders and a bandano on their heads. None had weapons on them; they were evidently stripped from them by GIs before the bodies were disposed of. After the battle we went back to work in the supply area doing our jobs just like nothing had ever happened. The next day replacement helicopters were flown in to replace the destroyed ones. I always thought from the NVA side that it was just a useless loss of human life since they gained nothing from the attack. It was just because some higher up officer in the NVA wanted to harass us and hit us just because it was Tete. How senseless war is. But I will never forget the sacrifices that was made on young American boys called on by their country to serve. I did not agree with the war but I went when called because I knew others had died for me and my family so that we might have freedom. I still hold in utter contempt the politicians who sold out our boys and cut and ran rather than stay and salvage something from the deaths of 58,000 of my fellow Americans. What a tragedy. We cannot ever repeat it again.

    • 5.1
      LaWanda Medley says:

      I agree we should NOT have been there. I feel like my husband was killed that day for Nothing…

  6. 6
    william f jackson says:

    i was stationed there in cu chi 1968-1969 20th trans co. the red hat wearing guys , we were located at the end of the runway going away from the hanger. we housed ,supplyed and protected the officers ,warrant officers and enlisted men,all the gunships, big riggs, and other vehicles in that era . my homeboy ,bro J william serving out of the 25th battalion med.,graduated with me ,and ended up running into each other at cu chi. a couple of my buddies ihung with were sp/Edwin klapp from Des moines,IA ,and sp/ gerald Morgan, D,C., bro-D onald Brantley from L.A. just to name afew. im new at this but do want to connect. hit at me my bro- because over there we were BRO,S!!!!

    • 6.1
      DANIEL GRAY says:

      HEY WILLIAM!
      YOUR THE FIRST GUY TO ADMIT HE WAS IN THE 20TH TRANS, WHERE THE BIG THRILL DURING THE DAY WAS FILLING ROCKET AND MORDER HOLES FROM LAST NIGHT, THEN RUN BACK AND FORTH TO THE BUNKERS AT NIGHT. IF YOU WERE REAL LUCKY THEY WOULD PUT YOU ON THE PERIMETER BEHIND THE BERM. USE THE STARLIGHT SCOPE, HOPE THE BIG RATS DIDN'T LIKE YOUR TOES. THEN SPOT AN "UNFRIENDLY" AND BE TOLD TO HOLD YOUR FIRE…..COMMON OCCURANCE AT THE 20TH TANS.
      I WAS THERE WHEN TET WAS JUST GETTING GOING IN THE FIRST PART OF FEB. UNTIL AROUND THANKSGIVING WHEN THEY TRANSFERED ME TO BIEN WA. WE HELPED SOME RESSERVEST FROM NE USA THAT WRE JUST CALLED UP. THEY WERE PISSED!!IWAS SURPRISED THAT BIEN WA WAS SO ACTIEVE.
      DID YOU KNOW A BLOND KINDA SHORT SURFER TYPE HIS NAME IS MIKE SAVAGE FROM GARDEN GROVE CA. WE WENT THROUGH BASIC THEN HELICOPTER MAINT SCHOOL AT FORT RUCKER. GOOD LUCK,
      DANNY

      • 6.1.1
        George Marshall Lacy says:

        I was there and did we have fun or what? I have been trying to find stuff on the 20th Trans but it's like it didn't exist. Was Maj. Widmer the CO then? Did you know Jesse Lovelady or Mike Fowler?

      • 6.1.2
        GEORGE KLINGBEIL says:

        I ARRIVED IN THE 20TH TRANS ONE WEEK AFTER TET IN 69, ONE THIRD OF MY TOUR WAS ON GUARD.BUNKER AND TOWER .WAS IN THE HOOCH NEXT TO THE ONE THAT GOT HIT. MAJ.WIDMER WAS THE CO WHEN I WAS THERE.PEOPLE I REMEMBER,DENNIS DECKER WAS MY ROOMY,WORKED WITH BOB WHEELER,JOHN SHERMAN,JOHN THOMPSON,GLENN MILLER,TEX,CAL SWARTZS.

      • 6.1.3
        MARV DAHL says:

        HEY DANIEL
        .I REMEMBER MIKE SAVAGE WE WERE BROS I ARRIVED TET 68 AND ROTATED FEB 69 I REMEMBER OUT ON THE FLIGHT LINE WAITING FOR A RIDE AND HERE COMES MIKE A BIG HUG AND SAYING OUR GOOD BYS MADE A LOT OF GOOD FRIENDS AT THE 20TH

    • 6.2
      william a phelps says:

      Hi I was there also William a phelps worked in the battery shop at night would like to find out more of the guys that were at the 20th.transportationcompany

      • 6.2.1
        David says:

        Hey, I know I'm about a year late, but you guys wouldn't happen to have known Supply Sergeant Bill Reynolds, would you? He was in the 20th Trans from April '68 to, I think, September of '69.

  7. 7
    Luis A. Padilla says:

    Sept68-Sept69 Combat Medic 2/34th Armour what a year of total darkness in my life. Just like the rest of us not knowing. But thank theGood Lord my hat goes out to all of those that served then and now are reminicing as i always do since it's and unforgettable time of my life.

  8. 8
    wmestep says:

    All of us at 2nd Brigade Aviation Company were dressed when we experienced the RPG round at a Division Arty's Loach. Captain Cavanaugh, Bill Austin, Jack Cosby and myself and a couple of other pilots were waiting for orders. About 4:30 am or so we were told that we would fly our four LOAHes out for safety. I said: "How is that going to help, we will still be in Vietnam when we land." In spite of my acute observation, we flew our four Oh6a's (which all happened to be in mission ready condition for once) to Duc Hoa. We got a lot of stares when this heavily armed, pistols and M-16's and unshaved group strolled into the dining hall for breakfast. They started to ask us why we deserved to eat there, but after looking at our hardware, they waived the question and served us. We had all taken our crew chiefs who normally did not get to fly on our C&C missions as well as a box of C-rations per helicopter. On returning to Cu Chi in the morning, Bill and I spent the rest of the day looking for NVA stragglers. I know I flew seventeen hours out of 24 that day although I only got credit for about nine. As I recall the action started with a 240 mm rocket landing in our hooch area or it could have been just an RPG round. It didn't take us pilots more than six minutes to get to the maintainenance hangar for our orders. I remember our sargeant telling me to get my head down "sir" if I wanted to keep it as an RPG flew over. I said something about "this must be how the boys at the Alamo felt." By the time we evacuated the base camp, we already knew that ten chinooks had been destroyed. For those who want to know about casualties and the enemy who got away, see the After Action Reports for the 25th Infantry division for that day in 1969. I didn't know that we had lost a full bunker of men while waiting for orders to allow them to fire until I read these reports a few years ago. I was told that some of the sappers got away by marching in formation right out the front gate during the confusion of the morning. If that was indeed a true story, the whole mess showed how inept alot of our commanders and SOP's were in Vietnam.

  9. 9
    Lem Dickerson says:

    All you former Muleskiners please get in touch with the group on Yahoo groups

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/muleskinnersgroup

  10. 10
    Edith Kawai says:

    My husband was at Cu Chi at a time when there was an attack. He was on duty in the Motor Pool. A sapper ran into the motor pool and he had to go in and try to find him. He had to search each vehicle and thought he was going to die every time he opened one of the doors. The sapper ended up disappearing into a tunnel. I'm pretty sure it wasn't on Feb. 26, 1969 but during that year. Does anyone have any information about another attack. His nick name was Flip. His hame was Wilbur G. Dickson. He is from Hawaii. He was on night duty with the 725th Maintenance Battalion, Company D Motor Pool attached to the 3/4 Cavalry. He was working in the aircraft maintenance building adjacent to the Motor Pool.

    Does anyone remember such an attack?

    • 10.1
      madriles,gilbert says:

      i was there with the 554th/if you need any information or witness of the firefight that began at BUNKER 19/let me know/do not forget the messhall boobytrap.

  11. 11
    Carl Garver says:

    Hi edith, I don't know if you will see this or not but I wasn;t at cu chi, that was our HQ but I was at Tay Ninh with 3/22/25th inf. I was a combat medic and I;m not sure of the attack you speak of but I know that there were plenty of them throughout my tour 69-70. 2 more things, When I first came into country I got to know a guy he was Jap/Hawian and I don't remember his name, but we hit it off and he was going to make me some good hawiian food and then we got sent to our assignments. He was a medic also, I want to say his name might have been danny but not sure. so if you ever run across a hawian medic from the 25th that remembers, I would like to here from him. ( I pray he made it) Also my girlfriend is hawaiian her name is Shirren Kaaiai from oahu. Just a little FYI. My email: carlgarver@aol.com

  12. 12
    Jim says:

    I was at Cu Chi (town) the day tet started in 1968 no one around but my Driver . We were in B-Troop 3/4 making a supply run. No Gooks to be found as usually anywhere. We were scared out of our wits..Lucky to have made it to base camp….

    • 12.1
      Dan Cook says:

      Jim, I was in the 3rd platoon of B troop march 17 68 to april 1st 69. have you found the 3/4 cav reunion site?
      I was in base camp on tet 69. I think I went to the bunker, but I may have gotten stoned and missed it. Tell me about you B troop activity.

      Dan

  13. 13
    LaWanda Medley says:

    My husband John Medley was one of the two killed that day. He held the other man in his arms till volunteers went back to find them. He passed away along with the other man. He now has a beautiful grandson named after him. Our daughter still fills the loss of never knowing him. I can be contacted at LMedley@aol.com

  14. 14
    Dale W. Lewis says:

    Would like to make contact with any of the guys I served with. 25th inf. 725th maintenance bat. E company 1 Feb 1968 – 31 Mar. 1969

    • 14.1
      leggett says:

      Hi Lewis, my brother was with 25th inf and maintenance in 68-69 cu chi i will find more and get back with you .his name is David Leggett.
      God Bless you all. sharon

    • 14.2
      Daniel Lansing says:

      Served with the 725th maintenance battalion, E company from Sept. 1968 into July 1969. During the last few months, I was crew chief for one of the two company ships, the H model Huey, tail numbered "Greentape 468".

      • 14.2.1
        ron drown says:

        hi guy i.served with echo co 725th flight line 168-69 airframe can not recall you.my mind is gone. may.odonue was company commander at the time.old topper was first sargent. i would like to hear from you .maybe we can remember some of the other guys in our co.i

    • 14.3
      Laura Lesher says:

      My father, Walter Lesher, served from 1967-1968 (not sure of the exact dates–his DD-214's at home). He passed away in 2004. He met my mom in Cu Chi either while he was serving with the 725th Maint. Bn. E Co., setting up and running the NCR500 or just after he returned to work doing the same thing as a civilian with Lockheed.

      Did you know my dad?

      • 14.3.1
        Laura Lesher says:

        I'm not sure if he returned in time for the 1969 attack–he mentioned online somewhere that he worked in the same [NCR500?] vans until CuChi turned over to the ARVN., and that he also worked at 79th Trans in Qui Nhon & the USAAMMC at TonSonNhut for NHA.He didn't leave Vietnam until 1972 with my mom & older brother. (My mom is Vietnamese & my brother was born in Saigon in 1971).

      • 14.3.2
        Daniel Lansing says:

        No, sorry I didn't know your father. There were many people stationed on that base camp at that time.

  15. 15
    kenny smith says:

    i want every one to know this i am mad at the u.s.army for lieing to me back in may-5-1969 to aug-1969, i was with the 3rd 13th 25th co D in and out side of ch chi s,vietnam. i am no where to be found is any of the listing of the 25th. i have prostate cancer from agent orange. i am looking for the people for liying to me when i got there. any one can e-mail me if you can help fine the people from my unite. here is my e-mail get2it88@yahoo.com

  16. 16
    Sgt Marion Crow says:

    125th Sig Bn…Com Ctr…Went so fast. Like another planet in the solar system. Don't remember…or maybe don't want to remember. There were those who gave the ultimate. All I gave was my time. Lucky. Miss the guys who just 'disappeared' after a firefight. No one told us anything. Just had to grieve on our own.

    • 16.1
      Dave Heathcott says:

      Hey Marian, What co, were you with. My name is Dave heathcott And i was in company C. Left in Feb 68 and fortunitly missed tet 69.
      I was in the Photo Div across the road from the com center. Just wondering if we knew any of the same friends.
      daveheathcott@gmail.com

  17. 17
    Hugh R says:

    Have had a few of the old OH-6's with MX records of t he E/725th mx bat with some insane historical records, LMK I will try and photo copy some stuff.

  18. 18
    Joe Lynch says:

    I was with the 25th MI detachment at CU Chi. I remember that night well. We were all in the bunker behind our hooch before half of us were awake. After sitting there listening to the explosions around us , the sound of the siren changed and one of the guys who had been there more than a month told us to get dressed and report to the area around the headquarters building . We stood in a bunker with our M-16s on top of beer cans for the rest of the night waiting for the ground attack which Thank God never came. My thoughts and prayers are with those who sacrificed their lives or who came home either physically or mentally less than whole. I made some great buddies there and think of them often.

  19. 19
    Terry White says:

    It has been a long time since 1969 Tet and though I can remeber that night my memory has failed me in other areas. I was with an artillery unit there on Cu Chi during this time period, unfortunately I am unable to remember the division number of the unit. 211th 221 or something on that order. Any help putting my mind back in order would be appreciated. Thank you.

  20. 20
    Dave Heathcott says:

    I Went back to the world Feb 14th 1969 and missed this attack on Cu Chi. I was a photographer with the 125th Sig Bn Co C. A few of my buds tracked me down but I was in a bad frame of minde at the time. Would like a second chance if any of you see this. Would also like to hear from any one in the photo div.

  21. 21
    Jeff Elmer says:

    I was with the 25th MP's responsible for the POW camp. We were on the other side of the base camp when we were woken. Ran outside to find night had tiurned into day . We loaded on a 21/2 ton and rushed to the POW camp. We formed a perimeter around the camp. We had to listen to the POW's cheering the attack.
    The next morning I transported one of the sappers to the Siagon area to be turned over to the ARVN's as a POW. I still remember the BB holes in the sappers back from the claymores. What a night.

  22. 22
    STEVE ANDERSON says:

    IAM LOOKING FOR ANYONE WHO WAS IN THE 2OTH TRANS FROM MAY OF 1970 UNTILL DECEMBER OF 1970. A ROCKET OR MOTOR WENT THROUGH A HOOTCH,LANDED ON A PERSON LYING ON HIS BED. LARRY WOODWARD WAS COMPANY COMMANDER. THIS HAPPENED AT 12.30 IN THE AFTERNOON. PAUL HARVEY WAS ON THE RADIO.

  23. 23
    Steve Anderson says:

    Sorry I forgot to Say, like Paul Harvey would say" Now for the rest of story. The rocket that went through the roof and landed on him was a dud. This is refference to the rocket attack in Cu Chi,the 20th Transportation red hats.

  24. 24
    Val Reed says:

    I was in the 20th trans from Jan. to Nov. 1970. I remember a rocket hitting not to far from our company, as I was sitting on the multi hole toilet. I thought this is a hell of a place to get killed. I also wore the Red Hat of the 20TH. Haven't seen Don Burson from Bay Village OH. in about 29 years. Caught up with Don back in 1983.while coming back from vacation out west. At the time he was living around Columbus. Hey to Curt Johnson, Dean Durell, Miller ,Henderson,Buroviack? and all the guys!

    • 24.1
      steve anderson says:

      I remember the boxing ring we had in the 20th transportation Co.
      I was not a boxer in the ring but I did box a guy in a empty hootch

      I lost the fight.

  25. 25
    SP/5 Drew Peterson says:

    I arrived at Cu Chi in December 1968 at age 19 and was there for TET 1969. I was with the 25th Admin. Co. across the road from Div. Hq. It was a night to remember for me. Earlier that evening I had put on Sgt. pins on my PFC shirt and a group of us went to the NCO club for drinks, Rum and Coke. When the attack started I was sleeping off the alcohol in my hootch and was rudely awaken to say the least (what a headache!). I recall all the sirens, rockets, mortars, etc. We all ran to the bunker to wait for it to end as usual. When it didn't stop it appeared to be more serious than we first thought. Everyone was called out from the bunkers and told to grab our equipment and M-16's and form up in the company area. I remember standing there in formation in front of the Orderly Room waiting for somebody to tell us what to do or where to go; the rockets were still coming in and the guy behind me said all it would take is one lucky shot from one rocket to wipe out this whole formation (that comment didn't sit well with me). Finally they chose a group and they all boarded the trucks and headed for the bunker line to reinforce the bunkers that were assigned to our company. The rest of us, me included, were marched out to the perimeter of our company by a gravel road near the power plant and told to sit down along the road in one long line along the road. So there we were, watching the big show, I remember watching the Air Force C-130 "Puff" spraying down a solid red line of bullets. Then all of a sudden the rockets started coming in towards us. Everyone dove into the ditch along side of the road. They walked those rockets right over us, some landing in front of us and others behind us as they went over. I lost count as to how many after 6 or 7. Dirt was flying up everywhere and the noise was deafening. I couldn't get my face far enough down into the ground in the ditch. When it stopped, everyone got out of the ditch and sat along the road again and talked about what just had occurred. The fellow next to me said, "If I wanted all this I could have stayed in the infantry". When all of a sudden, here they come again. The rockets started coming towards us, we all hit the ditch again, the dirt was flying again, the rockets got closer and closer to us and then they went right over us again and behind; behind us was our company area and hootches. This happened one more time. We stayed there until the sky in the East started to lighten up. It was strange, after all that we were finally released and we went to our hootches to put our things and M-16's away and headed for the Mess Hall for breakfast, and then to work; for me it was the Finance Office. A few short hours earlier it was life or death, and by 7AM there we were in the Finance Office doing our daily payroll duties like nothing happened. I haven't had a Rum and Coke since… {Cu Chi, Dec. 1968 -July 1970}

    • 25.1
      SP/5 (SGT) Drew R. Peterson says:

      I have a copy of the Cu Chi attack that was written in the Stars & Stripes newspaper. If anyone would like a copy email me at: drewpeters@aol.com.

      • 25.1.1
        Dick Johns says:

        Drew,

        Please contact me at 317 371-7591 or E-mail at rjohns60@comcast.net.

        I was section supervisor of 25th Admin Co. when you where there. I just wanted to know if you are the same person that I knew as Rich Peterson.

        Thanks Dick Johns

      • 25.1.2
        steve anderson says:

        Yes I would like a copy of the article. Please sen to my E-mail.

  26. 26
    Terry Hammer says:

    I was with the 1/8 Artillery Tete 69, me and a few others were sent to guard the motor pool, I remember I was at one end when rockets started coming in distroyed a few trucks but no one was hit, the barrage of rockets stopped just short of my position.

  27. 27
    Dick Johns says:

    Drew Peterson I am trying to contact you. I was in Cu Chi and was with the 25th Admin Co. I was the section Supervisor (SSG Johns).

    Please contact me at 317 371-7591 Thanks Dick Johns

  28. 28
    Maxwell Joy says:

    I was there with A Co. little bears. That was a bad night. The first thing we did was form around the Co.area. This was very rememberable as the supply Sargent had issued ammo in the box, m16 does,t work well one at a time. Then to the bucker line right in front of the Chinook helicopters.What show puff put on that night.

  29. 29
    JACK WAGONER says:

    I was in Cu Chi for all of 1970 with the 242nd Aviation Company, I lived in the swimming pool hooch with Daniel Miller who was the life guard there. I worked in the flight line office before we relocated to Phu Loi where I worked in the helicopter parts department before leaving in December 1970. Would like to hear from anyone who was there during the same period.

    Jack Wagoner
    jackwagoner1950@gmail.com

  30. 30
    Robert Speybroeck says:

    trying to fine guys in my unit from july 68 to 69 cu chi vietnam the graves registration unit 25th s+t co. 25th inf. div. please call 574-271-9557 or 574 286 -6886

  31. 31
    Doyle Broome says:

    George, I'm Doyle Broome and I was in the 20th at Cu Chi when you were there, do you remember me. I have been e mailing Glen Miller and George Klingbeil. Where do you live? I live in Tennesse and Klingbeil and Miller live in Florida.

  32. 32
    Frank (Chico) Hernandez says:

    I was at Cu Chi Basecamp the night the helicopters were blown up. I was a teletype operator and I was working the night shift. I went outside that night and saw the battle. Anyone from company A 125th Signal Battalion can verify my story because our unit also got hit. We had our bunker line on the opposite end of the base camp where the helicopters were blown up. Our guys killed some VC and we loaded the dead bodies on our trucks the morning after the attack. I had seen combat at Dau Tieng base camp and I had been through a lot of rocket and mortar attacks since arriving in country in March 1968 but that night in 1969 was a biggie.

    • 32.1
      alfred Skip Erion says:

      hello

      • 32.1.1
        alfred Skip Erion says:

        Does anyone still have contact with any of LSI civilian mechanics that worked at the 20th trans {red hats}? If so would you please forward my address. I would like to communicate with anybody from that era. I was then Cpt Erion xo and production control chief.

  33. 33
    Stan Valley says:

    I must be really old, we moved the 20th to Cu Chi in April of 67 and started the Red Hats Glad to see they still there for a few years later. Looking for David Morrison from Iowa, he played guitar and I taped a lot of his songs and would love to get them back to him. Please contact me at stanvalley@yahoo.com

  34. 34
    Don Cone says:

    My brother Ernie Cone was at Cu Chi from late 68 to early 71 and was with the Mule Skinners. He was planning on going to the reunion a few years ago in Texas, but got sick and wasn't able to make it. Please respond to me if anyone remembers him or has any information that might help. Thanks, I was very proud of him and all of you guys.

  35. 35
    Bob Smith says:

    I was there too, would have been WO1 Smith in quality control. Spent that night on top of bunker by runway with M-16 and 45. Was there Aug 68-69, went back to 520th to AVEL at Phu Loi as Cpt on Oct 71, flew Pipesmoke for couple of weeks. We have been having reunions of all the AVEL's in country, had about 120+ members and wives in DC last Oct.

    We had a 520th reunion scheduled in Branson Oct 2013 but had to cancel due to lack of response, could not get 20 folks and 10 rooms booked. Sad.
    Bob Smith

    • 35.1
      marv dahl says:

      just wondering if you knew Jim Zarvas at the 520th APD in siagon i flew left seat he would sign off the new uh1 and oh6 he gave alot of stick time. we went all over 3&4 corps

  36. 36
    Bob Smith says:

    I remember a bunch of these guys from 20th. I got to leave about four days early, Had a rocket hit a hooch, next day one in ditch behind mess hall, next day one came over hangar and hit motor pool. I went in to MAj Widmer and said it was time for me to leave. Gave me a little bs then flew me to Long Binh and dropped me off in middle of street because they had closed the helipad. Remember Sgt Reynolds in supply. Have some pictures. Have been in touch with Jerry Mellick who closed out the company and moved to Phu Loi, second tour I was with Avel when we closed out Phu Loi and I had six months and got to come home!!
    robertsmith656@msn.com

  37. 37
    Dave Heathcott says:

    25th Inf Div.125th Sig Bn. Co. C. Cu Chi Feb 68 Feb 69. My name is Dave Heathcott I was a photographer/lab tech. Bunked with some pole jockys and mechanics from the motor pool. Dan, Smoky, George, Sgt. Pickett, Dennis and Terry Just to name a few. I don't remember last names too much. bad gray matter I guess. any way I would love to hear from any of the mentioned or any one from the lab after I left.
    daveheathcott@gmail.com is my address.

  38. 38
    John Hersh says:

    I have many photos taken on the morning of March 10 from the 29th Trans Company area but cant find a way to share them with you. Email me at jhershcfi@myactv.net. I was there from November 68 to September 69. Was with the 357th the reserve unit that was activated and split up throughout the 537th.

  39. 39
    james kreil says:

    I was in e 725th maint. the night of attack I was the cq runner. I remember the crack of the rpgs, woke up top mitchel and was sent to bat. headquaters, right next to are hootches. There i was sent back e company and told to alert everyone. E company was part of reactionary guard and sent to bunker line. First sarge Cq and several others sarg faith took up position behind sand bags until told all was clear. I extended and ended up in 3,4 cav right next door. crewed loach.

  40. 40
    Steve Hood says:

    Marion – I was also with 125th Signal Battalion working Com Ctr (February '69-February '70). After so many years, I've forgotten so many names…wondering if we were there at same time.

  41. 41
    Steve Hood says:

    Marion – I was also with 125th Signal Battalion working Com Ctr (February '69-February '70). After so many years, I've forgotten so many names…wondering if we were there at same time.
    Steve Hood
    hood389@comcast.net

  42. 42
    Maurice Zurliene says:

    I was with the 25th Inf 725th maint Charlie Company in 69. I remember that night very well we were told to take the M88 out to the perimeter and take a stand. The explosions from the choppers north of us could be heard a long way, then they told us the enemy got through the wire and was trying to over run the base camp. We stayed out there all night and when day light came we saw the bodes that were left. If any body knows anything about SGT Linwood Johnson or any body from Charlie Company please E-Mail me, at 1bigzee@gmail.com. I was ther from April 1968 to Aprile of 1969.

    MO

  43. 43
    Doug Moore says:

    It's been interesting reading all of these memories from so long ago. At the time, I was commanding a Dust Off medical evacuation helicopter unit at Cu Chi and my crew and I were among the first to know something was about to happen. Late that afternoon, we picked up several wounded soldiers north of Cu Chi and delivered them to the 12th Evacuation Hospital located on the west end of our basecamp. Things were quiet afterwards until just about mid-night as I recall when my alert phone rang. The caller was from the 12th Evac and said there were a couple of \bleeders\ in the group we brought in earlier and they would be needing more Type \O\ blood within the next couple of hours. Since there seemed to be no urgency to the request, my crew and I began walking out to the helicopter in no particular hurry. We remember how quiet it was that night. The only sounds were a generator in the far distance and the pounding of our boots in the dirt. The crew chief untied the rotor blade and gave it a spin before he and the medic took up fire guard positions. When they were ready, I called \Clear\ and both responded, so I pulled the start trigger. I heard the turbine wheels beginning to turn and suddenly there was a tremendous explosion behind us. I stuck my head out the door and asked the crew chief what happened because I initially thought it might have been our engine. He yelled back that a rocket had hit right behind us and just off the runway. By that time, the engine was at full operating RPM, so I yelled for him and the medic to climb aboard. I called the tower and asked for an immediate departure to the west and was cleared. Just then, another rocket hit behind us, so we made an emergency take-off to the west. The tower operator asked whether we were aware of two rockets landing near our parking ramp and I said we were. At that time, he began broadcasting \Attention all aircraft in the vicinity of Cu Chi, we are under heavy rocket and mortar attack at this time. Avoid our airspace.\ When I got to about 1500 feet, I turned to look back at the basecamp and saw explosions here and there. We saw where the rockets were being fired from and that was a wooded area northeast of the basecamp, so I relayed the approximate coordinates to the tower operator and asked him to pass them to the 25th DivArty who could fire counter-battery. Just then, all hell broke loose along the southern perimeter particularly near the Chinook ramp and the ammo dump area. Red and green tracers were flying everywhere. About that time, I heard two of the Diamond Head gunships calling the tower for takeoff instructions and assume they were the quick-reaction fire team. I told them where the rockets were coming from and then heard several other helicopters calling for take-off. Since we couldn't do anything else and would only add to the mad-house of scrambling aircraft, we headed for Long Binh to pick up the blood. About 30 minutes later, we were on the way back to Cu Chi and listening to the radio chatter about what was going on there. I called the tower and asked permission to land at the 12th Evac. Initially, the tower refused my request saying it was too dangerous. I told him I had already talked with the hospital and they needed the blood right away, so he told me to be careful and go ahead and land. We made a high speed approach like we did out in the field and landed on the hospital pad where several soldiers grabbed the boxes of blood and ran for cover. We took off right away and since the battle was still underway, we went back to Long Binh where most of the other aircraft had assembled until the situation at Cu Chi was under control. In addition to those brave troopers who manned the bunker lines that night, there were real heroes in the airfield tower. Those guys stayed at their post despite the rockets, mortars, and tracers flying through the air all around them. The maintained control of the airspace and stopped confusion from causing crashes. I wrote award recommendations for them and sent them to the Airfield Commander, but never heard from him. I hope they were appropriately recognized for their courageous efforts. In closing, I'm going back to Vietnam in the latter part of August and will visit Cu Chi. I hope there are no old VC still hanging around that remember us.

  44. 44
    wally wallner says:

    Spent several weeks working the boonies out of cu chi with co f lrp 51inf abn.we lost a whole 6 man team largest leeches l had seen while in Vietnam a 10 day mission and your boots were done. We were camped at the far end next to the burn by a arty battery

  45. 45
    alfred Skip Erion says:

    Bob Smith, I remember you, a very good pilot as I recall. I would like to communicate if you get this. let me know. I was then Cpt Erion, if you remember. Skip

  46. 46
    alfred Skip Erion says:

    I am looking for two young men 1968-69 that worked in the production control office. I was then Cpt Erion and was in charge of Maintenance and was the chief test pilot. I would love to correspond thru this site with anyone from that time line, Pilots, Mechanics, and anyone that kept the Red Hats running.. Thanks Skip Erion



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