Contributed by John Broome (RIP 25 September 2011)
I know I have written this story before but i tried cleaning it up a little still there is much more to tell and some more of the graphics
There is probably anywhere from eighty eight to Five hundred and fiftyversions of what happened on this day 27 November 1968. This is my story of how I saw it. It was not the most horrendous thing I had seen in Southeast Asia but it was the saddest day by far! It started out as any other normal operational day then, the Crusaders in Dau Tieng inserting Troops into an LZ and nothing really exciting like fear or death at the time. Then the call from Crusader Six (Maj. G) a real special person, "The Commander", gives us a call. Let me regress here for a moment. I am the Crew chief of a highly experienced team on a UH-1C (Armed helicopter with two mini-guns with 2200 7.62 NATO rounds, 38 19 pound 2.75 rockets, Two Door gunner with 3000 rounds of 7.62 NATO rounds Two M-60 machine guns and two machine gun bags with an assortment of machine gun parts. Two M-16's with two bandoleer's of loaded Clips 5.62 rounds. All four Crew members with side arms of various nature. On Board is AC Jim Saunders One hell of a of a Pilot and Cpt. (wannabe Kirk) Dougan on his check ride. Crewchief John Broome (the Indian), door gunner Raymond Jimison dead eyed dick as long as he was high! We are a light team at the time from Tayninh our wing man Crewchief was Ricky Pope don't know who his crew was that day but on with the fact some BS but most fact from my perspective. Maj. G called us Rat 5 up on UHF and we preceded to his location somewhere South West Of Tayninh East at Nosebleed high. anything above 500 Ft. AGL on a Charlie model for me in the Ratpack was considered nose bleed outside of insertions. After that all work was done on the deck! Crusader 6 proceeded to tell us a tale of what we were going to do! but Oh dam where did those Jets come from. Big Eggs were dropped Napalm the kind that sticks to stuff and burns everything. for three or four passes they make South to North while Crusader Six is telling us where he would like the LZ marking smoke dropped for the flight. You see back then guns went in first softened up the LZ and lit up Charles in case he didn't know we were coming!! We also dropped smoke for lead to land to on the first insertion to an LZ. A Marking Spot for a Target...... Well the jets drop their last eggs outbound artillery is inbound dam Big eight inchers must be something here looks pretty safe big wide open field with trees on three sides to it. "Who we working with Now" Manchu's Chief of my God every time we work with the 4/9th Manchu's somebody gets hurt or %$#@ed up! This is not going to be pretty for we are now a heavy fire team for the standby from Tayninh is up operational with us now. We are three gunships and the slicks are inbound from Tayninh. Only problem is big bullets are still falling on the LZ AO and they are pounding the .... out of it. About that time we are up in Nosebleed area - very high. Shit, it's cold! Then i saw them the slicks with the grunts with their legs dangling out the floor the way the road right on the edge of the aircraft with their packs three per side for fast get away. Something started crawling up my neck this was not going to be pretty...... You know how you feel when say someone walks across your grave. OR The fear of the unknown gnawing at you only last for a second or two for you really don't have time for it right now! Hell where you going to run you are inside on of the most powerful machines in the world with the best of the best at the controls and you know you have a good aircraft and the only one New is Cpt. Kirk! <BFG> and he is fixing to become real experienced very fast. Finally inbound Three thousand meters , Twenty five hundred meters hold back more rounds on way, two thousand meters slowing back to sixty knots then fifteen hundred meters slowing even more now it's thousand meters out of LZ fixing to do a turn-around. Crusader six says last rounds inbound and then whump, whump, whump - we are five hundred meters out turning it on sixty seventy eighty knots first pair of rockets leave the tubes mini-guns start burning the ears!! Both machine guns are blasting the hell and me and Raymond have smoke in our Hands. Dike is in sight smoke on. Smoke away machine gun falls apart. Shit rivets popped out. Nothing works . I reached and grabbed my M-16 and the belt with the magazines. Chalk three on fire all hell breaks loose. Mr. Saunders puts that bear on her tail pedal turn to LZ and Rockets Miniguns blazing away. Many know the history of what else happened but I will continue here with the rest of my story. At least three birds mayday'd out of the LZ but Lead took what was left back to Tayninh (that was CW2 Tesmar) that particular day. Trail was the young one or at least he looked it. CW2 Ronald Timberlake. I cannot get this out of my mind. Lead I have one of those Super Strong H models and am going around I'll pick up the crews. Ratpack inbound. Damn, we had aircraft scattered all over the place. And now one was going back into one of the hottest LZ's I have ever seen. I sure hope my son and son-in-law and grandson's never have to witness! Well yes sirreee bob he landed or rather hovered from crew member to crew member while we were putting down suppressive fire for him. Then those words “RatPack Trail Coming out! Taking fire , taking fire, taking fire”. Well he made it and he brought them all out. Read Crusader Down. not one thousand meters from LZ and the Radio “Mayday May Crusaders going down” - we was on him like flies on fresh Cow minutia in Saudi Arabia! He got them out and saved the aircraft course shot all to pieces but just landed it like an engine failure in a rice paddy out of harm's way! I miss the him! I really. The last Time I saw him smiling was the reunion Dallas in 98 I believe on top of the table I believe! well maybe not that bad!! We had to break off go back for refuel and re-arm and I needed a new machine gun and a new AC Ronnie Hopkins for Jim had a cyst on his Ass as big as a (whatever) I found this info out later at a reunion in Dallas also. By this time two more gunships where up and we had a heavy rotation going on. The flight what was left was refuel and loaded another company of soldiers of "Manchu's" out to the hottest dance in town. it was all day like that every insertion was hot and then it ot dark this is the part I wake up to screaming in the middle of the night to. The Flair ship is made up of all volunteers now we all know that to fly you had to volunteer but these guys except for the pilots who one had already been wounded earlier that day the flair crew was made up of maintenance personnel and avionics' people Chandler and I had been promoted on the same day and went to the same promotion board we had also gotten drunk the day before just laughing and having a good time over what we had been though and survived we were getting close to double midget digit's. All I know is they had a flair go off inside the aircraft and I watched and heard every call that went out over the radio's to all of us and I watched her burn all the way to about 500- 300 ft. then explode.. Dam I mean how much more could we take already been at this since o dark thirty and now it is dark again around 9 -10 PM. Mr. Hopkins scared me. he was upset and we all were. I didn't want to be in a gunship anymore it was not fun anymore this was dangerous! I grew into manhood way too soon as we all did like I said earlier I had seen worst but this aircraft had friends aboard and i knew it. Thanksgiving's sucks - then again, I survived. Mark if you are out there thinking about you buddy he was flying in the slick behind the flair ship telling them their height as they went to the ground. Jim Brady was his Crew chief Mark was on loan to the other Platoon that day. ????? He is a Survivor he has as much anger or more than I do he needs one of you keepers out in California. Yea I have a temper yes when you push my buttons I go off, yes I am a walking time bomb how many of us aren't? When I sit down to thanksgiving Dinner this day I will give thanks for my brothers that survived and the ones that are in peace. I will also say a prayer for those that are hunting down those radical BASTARDS in the desert. May God be with our brothers and sisters who are bringing justice to them that deserve Justice. By the way none of us I know of except Jimision saw one dam bad guy that day from our ship! Just amazing I never saw a Mr. Charles that day.....
May peace be with you all including that SOB Snake Driver I got mad at earlier. Hell, anyone know who he was? This is as close as he is going to get I am sorry I fired on you whoever you were next time don't punch my buttons!!