Friday, April 5, 1968
We were nearly finished reinforcing our new hooch. The bunker was solid, and we were confident it would protect us during a mortar attack. As we were taking a break, we heard heavy gunfire out in Arizona and then some loud pops.
A Huey helicopter was flying toward us but losing altitude and smoking heavily from its tail. It made a wide arc, turning south (away from us), and was getting dangerously low to the ground. The copilot jumped out the right side and fell to the rice paddy below. Just before the chopper crashed, the pilot jumped out the left side (feet first, hitting the ground). The Huey exploded on impact, and there were multiple secondary explosions. Below the dark cloud of black smoke rising high into the sky were two smoke markers set off by the pilots (one yellow and one purple).
A second Huey was circling the crash and firing a mini-gun. Three more Hueys arrived, followed by a CH-46 (twin rotors) medevac chopper, and the area was lit up with automatic fire. A crewman rappelled down to the copilot, and the chopper landed nearer to the pilot. The rescue took a few minutes, and when the medevac left, the Hueys fired a WP marker into the tree line where the heavy gunfire was located.
Kilo Battery guns fired on the marked area, immediately firing seven HE rounds and then re-marking the site with WP.
We could hear “Cease Fire” from the Exec Pit as the first A-4 Skyhawk came in firing 20mm cannons. A second A-4 dropped two tanks of Napalm, and we could see them both wobbling into the target; one fell short and bounced before igniting over the tree line, and the second created a fireball high in the sky. The first jet circled and came in on a high altitude run; it dropped a 500 pound bomb on the downed helicopter. After a final 500 pound bomb was dropped on the tree line, the two A-4’s came together into a close formation and did a victory roll . . . everyone cheered, and we went back to work. The war was everywhere around us and elusive at the same time.
With our hooch reinforced, we turned our efforts into building a new walk-in refrigerator. We decided on an 8’X12′ concrete floor and laid out the perimeter with string.
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