War Stories

March 16th 1969

by Larry Ray
March 16th 1969

From the editor: The following story is in account of an action from March 16th 1969 it is by Larry Ray a Crew Chief from 4thAviation. The Cacti owe this Crew chief and his crew a debt of gratitude for their actions on this day. It is followed by remarks by Lt. Col. (retired) Bill Burdick who was the Bravo 2/35th CO that day.

March 16th 1969

By Larry Ray

4th Aviation

We had been on a re-supply mission in and around Kontum. Our mission was complete and we were flying back to Pleiku, (Camp Enari).

I was flipping through the channels on our radio, and I heard someone almost shouting on the Intercom. We are pinned down and out of ammo, and need someone to get us more. I switched radio back to our channel and told the pilot to go to that Channel.

There was a unit on the ground pinned down and needed ammo. He switched over and got in touch with someone on the ground. He then got in touch with a major who directed him to a pick up point Where we then loaded ammo. The Ammo was in wooden crates and ropes attached so we could lower the ammo to them, as there was no LZ.

As we got over the area we seen the yellow smoke, I told the Major to lower the ammo, but to make sure he kicked it out over the skids, so it would not get lodged. He kicked it out but not far

enough and it did jam on the skids. I got out of my shoulder harness and crawled out on the skid, and took my k-bar knife and cut the rope and dropped the ammo.

During the dropping of the ammo we began to receive small arm fire from the ground. I instructed the pilot to break to the right and get out of the area.

We went back to the pick up point, I jumped out and ran around the chopper and noticed a few holes, but they didn't appear to be in critical areas, so we loaded up and made another run. We dropped our ammo, and again received more small arms fire from the ground.

We went back once again and picked up another load of ammo and got over the area dropped the ammo and as we started getting hammered big time with small arms fire. We started getting vibration in helicopter.

This time we headed back to Camp Enari. When we landed and got the helicopter shut down, we began to assess the damage.

There were 57 rounds that had penetrated our chopper. One round had hit the transmission firewall where my head would have been had I not been out on the skid freeing that jammed ammo. Another hit our tail rotor drive shaft and was only held together with about one inch of metal.

I was put in for a Distinguished Flying Cross for my actions that day, and was awarded an Air Medal with V Device.

I always wondered how many lives were saved that day by the risk we took.

Larry Ray

The following are comments from Lt. Colonel Bill Burdick (retired) He was the Bravo 2/35th Company Commander.

We were pinned down and by intense gunfire Larry and his team saved 10 of my wounded Soldiers. One of our wounded was the 3d Plt Ldr. His wounds were very painful. He was lying on the ground crying as I held his hand, I kept telling him everything would be ok, I was doing this as I adjusted air support. I was the one shouting into the radio because the battle was so loud.

We lost one guy that day.

Larry and his chopper team were fearless and heroic that day.

Bill Burdick