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Postby margo4vets » Thu Aug 15, 2013 5:21 am

This is one of those delightful "if-it-isn't-true-it-should-be" stories from the Vietnam era.
(I can understand why the Huey drivers might not have been too anxious to report this incident to their superiors. )

One of the best things about being in a U.S. Army aerial gun platoon was the sense of superiority we felt over all things living. I mean, you take the age of each individual flying in a light fire team, add them up, and then divide by the amount of rockets aboard both ships, the rounds of 7.62 and 40 mm . . then subdivide by the pounds of fuel. Sum result is the average age of immaturity aboard the aircraft.
And then, the rules we lived by didn't particularly cause a certain conservative lifestyle.
Let's see :

Rule ( 1 ) You can have all the ammo you want !
Rule ( 2 ) The vast areas that you will fly over are your domain, where you roam to do as you want.
Rule ( 3 ) The two rotor aircraft together are worth over $ 1,000,000. If you break anything ' they ' are going to give you a brand new one.
So anyway, here we were cruising down life's highway... actually Highway 13. I had my door gun unhooked from the bungee, pulled the gun barrel in and secured on the floor. as did my gunner. My feet were up on the cabin bulkhead and I was slumped down, smoking a cigarette, drinking a beer from the ice cooler, and listening to ' rock and roll ' on AFVN via the ADF radio probably pretty much like I would have been doing at home goosin' around in my 64 Chevy SS.

But in this case, we were six feet off the highway, doing 90 knots, playin' chicken trying to run cyclo-cart traffic into the ditches. I casually glanced over at my gunner in time to see him sit up and stare out to the right front. "Sir, aircraft 2 o'clock about two miles, looks like an Air Force Forward Air Controller in a Cessna." I sat up and looked across at the small aircraft through the pilot's window and could see him, a bit higher then us and we were pulling up on him. The FAC was flying in an O-1 Bird Dog, a small, fixed-winged, observation plane. The Air Force used them to control the jet fighter bombers during air strikes ; the Army used theirs to correct their artillery fire.

Our aircraft commander in the left seat in, reached down to the radio console and flipped his selector to Channel 3.

"Crossbow 31, 33. Close on us, join up." And then he turned his head and grinned at the pilot. " Let's scare the ' fool ' out of that FAC puke ! "

Our wingman called," Closing up the in close formation." The A/C pushed over the Huey's nose, to pick up additional airspeed. We closed to slightly below the Air Force Forward Air Controllers' six o'clock position. He appeared to be doing about 80 knots at 200 feet.

Actually, the FAC was probably working his job. And because his altitude was so low, it almost guaranteed his being gifted sheet metal damage from enemy ground fire. He was painted gray, so we knew he was an Air Force FAC and not an Army Artillery spotter. That made it even more fun, because we rarely got to mess with the Air Force pukes. As we closed on him from low and behind, we had built up our speed to a face-stretching 100 knots. My A/C keyed his microphone and told our wingman, "31, 33 . . we're going to pass close under the FAC after we get out in front by a hundred meters or so, then we will climb up in front of the Cessna puke's face and give him a thrill. Together let's just climb a bit here, nose over to pick up passing speed, then dive right under him."
And we did. At climbing power, we picked up altitude, then dove down with Crossbow 31, right next to us in formation. As we passed below the FAC, I was laughing in glee, as was Johnny my gunner. We zoomed ahead and then climbed swiftly at 100 meters in front of our quarry. As Johnny and I looked back, we could see the O-1 Bird Dog run smack into the dual sets of our rotor wash.

And the FAC puke bounced all over the sky !

With a friendly wave out the Huey's open side door, we once again resumed our trip down Thunder Road . . leaving a trail of ' ditched pedicabs, angry Vietnamese and a vengeful [ and resourceful ] Air Force Forward Air Controller. We were almost home. I was debating whether or not to open another can of beer, when our wingman frantically shouted , " THREE THREE, THREE ONE . . H-E-R-E ! " As my pilot started to flip the radio selector to respond, I saw him sit up straight and rigid, staring over his right shoulder. I tried to see what he was looking at, but I suddenly felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and I slowly turned to look out my side.

There were two F-4 Phantoms, wheels down, dive brakes out with full flaps, cruising right along side us. They were probably doing twice our speed, but in our memories, they seemed to be standing still. As they passed to the front of us, they quickly closed up with two other F-4's, who had overtaken us just to our right.
With the exact precision of the famed Thunderbirds, they closed formation in front of us at our exact altitude. You could almost hear their flight leader calling the marks . ." Gear up NOW ! Speed brakes retract NOW ! Flaps up NOW ! " AFTERBURNERS . . NOW ! "

And then suddenly they were gone, hidden from view by the burning explosion of eight GE engines in afterburner. The only thing we could see was the smoky contrails as they zoomed up out of sight. I could plainly hear our pilot shout as we hit the ' little present ' the Air Force zoomies had left in the sky in front of us. We went hurtling up and down . . up and down . . as our pilot attempted to control the Huey gunship.

Ten minutes later, we had quietly ' hover taxied ' down the active runway to our revetments at Lai Khe. As we sat our helicopter down, the USAF FAC pilot began a flyby next to us on our active runway, cheerfully waving to us out his open cockpit window.


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