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This page is reserved for stories about "Spooky", so everyone help this effort out a bit
"I'm the gunner who found the bear, on Tay Ninh Mountain "
In the summer of 66. Maj. Robert Francis Grundman, flew to the special forces camp, to talk them out of it. With much luck, and a generator in trade, he got the bear. Maj. Grundman was Killed on 26 Sept 66. in circumstances not clear to anyone. It happened while flying over an ARVN compound in the evening.. He was the BEST PILOT we had in the company.. We Named the bear after him.. I was the Bear keeper for a while the Bear did not need one he was well behaved. Most of the time he was loose in the company area. looking for hand outs of honey jars."
When we went to Saigon to pick the Bear from the Vet clinic.. and the very joyfull trip back to the Airbase..When the Bear decided that the Vietnamese Driver should not be in the taxi. And jumped in the front seat with him and decided to do him a job.. I was with SGT Kesterson, (Sweet Pea) we had our hands full trying to keep the taxi on the road, and holding on to the Bear at the same time
Sgt. Charles Kesterson:
" In July of 1966 one of the NCO’s SSG Molinary was on a scrounging mission to Nui Ba Den when he noticed that the Special Forces unit there had a baby Malay Sun Bear: He relayed the information back to Little Bear operations in Cu Chi. One of the pilots, Robert (Spooke) Grundman and Joe Reales went back to Nui Ba Den to trade a generator for the bear and brought it back to Cu Chi as a mascot."
Trip To The Vet
I had taken the Bear to Saigon to get shots, The Vet had 5 soldiers, one each leg and one holding the head , Before the Vet had given the shot ,he briefed us , He said "When I count 3 all of you release the bear and get Back".
He gave the shot counted to three, all of us jumped back , the Vet forgot to step back and Spooky , took a bite out of him . The Vet laughed ,( after a few choice words ). then said something about failing to follow his own instructions.
Return From The Vet
As I remember the story ( 30+years later) The Bear was bought / given from a local village around the mountain around September / October 1966. Every one was around the bear , I believe someone had to read up on how to / what to feed the bear. As I wrote earlier about the Vet, the bear and I were flying back from Saigon to Chu Chi with a new Avn unit to Viet Nam , we started out from Saigon headed toward Ben Hoa then turned to Chu Chi , we flew into a blinding rain , I was setting in the jump seat behind the pilots facing the door , as we started to descend rapidly I looked out the window and the trees were growing rapidly. I leaned back getting ready to kiss my ass goodbye., I knew we were going to crash, the bear went to the window looked out , came back to me in a hurry sat between my legs, looked at me as if to
say , Been nice knowing ya.. We broke out of the rain and we were Home. Both the bear and I were very happy to get back on the ground. We never flew with any other unit other than our own again.
From many first hand acounts/sources it is clear that Major Grundman was well liked by the officers and men of the unit. He was the first flight standardization officer for the Little Bears. This was confirmed by two of the officers present at the time. And the Operations Officer who was the one who got the call that Spook had been killed. "Just after takeoff from CuChi outside the perimeter we got heavy fire, one round hit Maj. Grundman. He died instantly and never knew what hit him.
In a unit that was generally officer 'top heavy' it speaks highly of his skill as a pilot that he was selected as the Instructor pilot/ check pilot. Following his death due to hostile fire on, 26 September 1966, the Little bear was named "Spooky" in his honor. Spooky died upon departure from Vietnam in 1972 due to an overdose of a tranquilizer being administered to sedate her for the transit to Hawaii
Ron, this really took me back. My wife used to send me "instant pudding", the sole user being "Spooky". She took the big dixie-like cup and emptied it in a minute with that long tongue of hers. Problem was, when it was empty she wasn't finished and went searching for more food. Anyone with food in their locker, locked or unlocked, was in trouble. Bear was going to get it!
As another old friend says, "thanks for the memories".
I am the oldest of three Watts Boys. When I arrived at CuChi, my other brothers were already in country-David (CPT) was in the Delta living among the gooks; Paul (2/LT) was stationed in Saigon living the good life. About mid way through my tour, I was detailed for duty in the Division Aviation Office, however,I remained housed in Bear living quarters.About this time my brothers came to Cu Chi to visit me (had pictures in Army Times). I learned that brother Paul could not get his favorite brand of cigaretts, Vantage Menthol, in Saigon--well, Cu Chi PX had plenty of them the next week. Being a good brother, I bought 4 cartons and stored them on a shelf over my bunk for future delivery to Paul. I spent a few days with the Div."JUMP CP " out in the jungle. When I got back to my hooch, I found that the bear had gotten the cigaretts down on my bunk, shredded the 4 cartons, piled the debris in a pile and sh-- right in the middle of that pile! Now you know the rest of the story!!
Sometime in 1969, Spooky was built a new home. Round-about that time there was a young officer in the 2nd platoon who had a reputation for doing screwy things. Like take newbies on joy rides, etc...
Well the time came for Spooky to move from the old cage to her new digs. Most of the company formed two ranks,the middle of which was the intend path to her new home. As luck would have it, guess who was the victim of Spooky's burst for freedom... I marvel at God's choices!
As you can see I was in the "other" helicopter unit on Cu~Chi (stingers). 25th . Aviation was right near us so we had some rivalry .I still remember the 25th.Aviation "Little Bear " a small brown (maybe black) bear that was caged up behind the "O" club. I can still remember gasing the little animal just before we opened the cage -walkway went to the back door to the "O" club . Bear shot out of the cage and directly into the building . We took up lawn chairs with approate adult beverage and watched the place ("O" club) get empted out.Lots of other nights it was like the alley between the 2 units was like the DMZ with gas grenades go back and forth> always slept with my mask at rackside . Other memories like I belive 20 something Feb. 1969 when they got thru the wire over around POL and shachele charged the Chinooks from the 247nd "Muleskiners" . Got all shot up that night trying to get out of CC. The guys over in Iraq are having a hell of a time tonight ~wish I was there to kick some ass of those camel drivers. But now I'm too old and melow and my nights are full of "where's my slippers ~less go to bed after the news " Nighty Night Little Bears - Bill Reid