Chopper Crew Chief An Everyday Hero
By WO1 Donald Mattingly
CU CHI - Out of the war in Vietnam have come many heroes. The single heroic acts of soldiers are recognized with medals and praise. But, the day-to-day heroism of men doing dangerous but necessary jobs often goes unnoticed by most.
One such everyday hero is perhaps the helicopter crew chief. Warrant Officer Donald M. Mattingly, a chopper pilot with Company A, 25th Aviation Battalion, knows the crew chief well and depends on his competence. He has this to say:
“As each and every infantryman will tell you, the chopper is his lifeblood. It delivers his supplies, takes out his wounded, and extracts his fellow soldier in time of imminent danger.
“The man on the ground watches as the Huey comes in; piloted by, I am sure, the equivalent of the daring men of World War I who flew against the `Red Baron.' With enemy tracers streaking by the chopper, the crew defies all to bring needed supplies to the ground unit.
“As the Hueys head for home, the infantryman says a quiet thanks to the pilot.
“And yet, there is another man, less known and even less glorified who should be included, for without this man, all the money and all the aircraft available would be useless. This man is the crew chief.
“The crew chief is the man responsible for the aircraft being operational. He sits in the left gunner's seat and shares the dangers of each mission with the pilots.
“We call him a man but in reality he is an 18- to 20-year-old boy fresh out of Advanced Individual Training (AIT). He is a boy who, for the first time in his life is away from home. He is a boy who is on the aircraft an hour before the pilot, insuring that all is well; the same boy who rides shotgun on the M-60 machine gun when flying; the same boy who continues to work on the aircraft when the mission is completed.
“And after he has finished work on the aircraft, this same boy pulls guard duty, K.P., and does additional work in maintenance. It is a misnomer to call this individual a boy because he matures fast and leaves as a man.
“As a pilot who depends on the competence and judgment of the crew chief, I wish to say to them: Thank you for a job well done.”
Oct 28, 68
2-22 Fights VC Squad
CU CHI - In a short but sharp afternoon clash with an estimated enemy squad, Company B, 2d Battalion (Mechanized), 22d Infantry, killed two Viet tong and captured one AK-47 assault rifle.
The 3d Brigade unit was on a reconnaissance in force through wooded terrain three miles east of Go Dau Ha when it came under enemy sniper fire. Immediately, Captain Malcolm Waitt, B Company commander from Montgomery, Ala., turned the guns of his armored personnel carriers loose on the enemy positions, flushing out ten Viet Cong.
While the enemy fled, two were cut down by the riflemen. Cobra gunships from the 25th Aviation Battalion's Diamondhead Company then arrived on the scene, pasting the enemy area with rocket and minigun fire.
The Triple Deuce company pushed into the area and uncovered an enemy base camp of more than 30 bunkers. The riflemen also recovered the weapon and web gear from the enemy dead.
Two days later, Triple Deuce along with two companies of Vietnamese Marines swept back into the base camp to destroy the enemy positions and in the process captured stockpiled enemy equipment, food, and ammunition.
Quick Huey Crew Doubles Up, Rescues Stranded Jet Pilots
By SP4 Jim Brayer
CU CHI - The crew of a UH1D Huey helicopter rescued two grounded Air Force aviators only 15 minutes after their RB57 photo reconnaissance plane crashed 15 miles east of Dau Tieng.
It took about 25 minutes from the time their distress signal was received until they reached Cu Chi's 12th Evacuation Hospital.
First Lieutenant John H. Webb, commander of the rescue chopper, and. Warrant Officer Jeffrey M. O'Hara, pilot, are assigned to Company A Little Bears, 25th Aviation Battalion.
Air Force Major James W. Johnston, pilot of the unarmed recon aircraft later said that one of its two engines developed trouble, and the plane went out of control. “It went into a starboard roll and was inverted when we ejected from the craft,” he said.
He and his navigator, Major Philip N. Walker, managed to radio a distress signal before bailing out at 5,000 feet. They had been on a photo mission for Detachment 1 of the 460th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing.
Johnston stated that they parachuted to the ground uninjured about 2,000 meters from the wreckage of their aircraft.
When they touched ground, both heard small arms and automatic weapons fire from what seemed to be two enemy troops. Johnston, some 200 or 300 meters from Walker, landed in waist-deep water in a rice paddy. He sloshed his way through about six more paddies, trying to get away from the bright red and white chute.
Noticing an O-1 Bird Dog light scout plane circling the area, Johnston tried to raise radio contact, but his portable radio refused to function. Finally he was able to signal the scout plane with a mirror, a part of his survival kit.
Walker had landed in the river, but when he heard the gunfire, he untangled himself from the parachute straps and slid to the edge of a thicket.
Meanwhile, Webb and his crew were flying a routine general support mission from Tay
Ninh to southeast of Dau Tieng. They had five passengers with them. “Our ship was almost at
gross weight,” Webb explained.
Suddenly, at 11:30 a.m., they received a distress signal from an aircraft in trouble.
Within ten minutes after the call, Webb and his Huey were in the rescue area. He saw the Bird Dog circling around overhead, and took his chopper in low. The commander spotted the brightly colored parachute on the rice paddy where Johnston landed and saw a nearby smoke signal.
Knowing that his Huey wouldn't hover over the water with the size load he had aboard, Webb took his five passengers to a nearby dry clearing, where they disembarked and set up a perimeter.
When they went in to rescue the Air Force pilot, he said he wasn't hurt and that Walker was nearby, toward the thick tree line.
Johnston piled in with his equipment, and they proceeded to pick up Walker. Later, Johnston described the rescue as working like “clockwork.”
After the five other passengers were again aboard, Webb guided his craft to the scene of the crash, planning to set up a perimeter around the wreckage.
“All we saw was a hole that resembled a B-52 bomb crater. The plane was demolished and litter was strewn all around the area.”
Feeling it safe to leave the wreckage, Webb and his crew returned to Cu Chi with their Air Force comrades.
Pilot Gets Lieutenant's Bars Through New Army Policy
Would you believe W01-CW2-2LT in nine days? Second Lieutenant Larry W. McCabe, an Army aviator serving with A Company (Little Bears), 25th Aviation Battalion, has probably set a new Army record. McCabe went through three pay grades, from a Warrant Officer to a Commissioned Officer in nine short days.
On October 24, WOl McCabe was promoted from WOl to CW2, something that happens every day. However nine days later on November 2 Brigadier General Glen C. Long, assistant division commander, commissioned, then CW2 McCabe, to the rank of second lieutenant, something that does not happen every day.
McCabe, winner of two Distinguished Flying Crosses, twenty Air Medals, and a Bronze Star during his Viet Nam tour will shortly depart to attend the Basic Armor course at Fort Knox, Kentucky.
SECOND LIEUTENANT - Larry W. McCabe is sworn in to his new rank (left) by Brigadier General Glen C. Long, assistant division commander for maneuver. (PHOTO BY SP4 DENNIS JOHANSEN)
25th Avn Bn Awarded Two Unit Citations
In parade ceremonies at the 25th Aviation Battalion, Major General Ellis W. Williamson decorated the colors of that unit with the Valorous Unit Award and the Meritorious Unit Award.
The Battalion was cited as a valorous unit for action July 19 1966, south of the Saigon River in the Ho Bo Woods when two infantry platoons made contact with entrenched Viet Cong forces and called for gunship support.
Gunship crews of the 25th Aviation Battalion responded aggressively engaging the hostile force, flying fearlessly at treetop level through intense ground fire. Despite the increasing barrage, they effectively suppressed the enemy and prevented them from inflicting heavy losses on the American forces.
In reinforcing the troops, transport helicopter crew braved the hostile fire and landed within 150 meters of the line of contact.
Later, when the battalion was requested to extract friendly forces from the battlefield, pilots maneuvered their craft from point to point, to pick up the still savagely engaged forces and often landed within two meters. of wounded men so door gunners could quickly lift them inside.
The 25th Aviation Battalion earned the Meritorious Unit Commendation during the period of April, 1966, to December, 1967. In that period the total dedication of the battalion earned it the respect and admiration of all those with whom they served.
The men of the battalion participated in all major tactical operations conducted by the maneuver elements, and in every instance, they acquitted themselves in an outstanding manner.
SSG Vernie Nance, Co A, 25th Avn Bn
SP5 Glenn W. Rushing, Co B, 25th Avn Bn
SP5 Lee S. Gross, HHD, 25th Avn Bn