CW2 Joseph W. Cacic was a potential VHPA member who died after his tour in Vietnam on 12/01/2015 at the age of 63.7 (Exact date not known.)
Wheaton, IL
Flight Class 71-17
Date of Birth 03/30/1952
Served in the U.S. Army
This information was provided by Olin Fite, Mike Cacic (brother)

More detail on this person: I just received a note from Joe Cacic's brother informing me of his death. We were running buddies in flight school (71-17 B3) and have kept in touch all these years. He was an Emu. He apparently died in his sleep two weeks ago and was not discovered for a couple of days. He was a real hero. He related one of the most hair raising stories I have ever heard.

He was in county 30 days hauling ARVNs in to Cambodia from their base at Dian. He was chalk 4 in a flight of 7. They landed in a very hot LZ and the ARVNs refused to get out of his bird. The rest of the flight took off while the crew attempted to get the ARVNs out of the aircraft. As soon as the flight left an NVA stepped out of the tree-line right in front of him and unloaded his AK into the cockpit. The instrument panel exploded attended by low rotor rpm warning full christmas tree light as they lifted off and crossed the trees the hydraulics quit. They managed to fly to a nearby ARVN firebase where they did a running landing on the road outside. Joe said the good guys on my side were shooting across the road at the badguys who were shooting across the road at the good guys. He said it sounded like a popcorn machine inside his aircraft. They skidded to a halt with approx one rotor rpm. The A/C door armor was jammed by round and he had to climb over the peter pilot seat to get out, as he was exiting an NVA as getting in the bay door. The C/C bird came to a high hover nearby over 6‚«÷ elephant grass. They hauled ass through the grass and jumped up into the C/C bird. Joe said he emptied his revolver over his shoulder and was grabbed by the wrist by the crew chief on the C/C bird and hauled on-board given an M-16 and ‚«o I started mowing them down like I was cutting grass. Of the 8 Americans involved there were no injuries. Joe thinks he was the last goodguy on the base as the NVA overran the firebase and killed everyone there.

He got the next day off.

The following day he was flying ash and trash to the same firebase after the ARVN had retaken it. On the way out they get a request for medivac from the hot LZ. The A/C says we need to go down there and get these guys. To which Joe says Dude I was down there two days ago. They shot the shit out of us. The A/C says look they are our allies we need to help. Joe says you're the A/C. A/C says ok we'll make a low pass, if we take fire we'll leave. Down they go. They land and about 50 ARVNs try to get on-board none of whom are wounded. While the crew are trying to bum's rush the ARVNs out, hitting them with their cleaning rods, they pull pitch with 25 ARVNs still on-board. Max torque red lights flashing they make it to the nearest tree line. Joe looks down through the chin bubble and sees a 50 cal right below. It was like a sledgehammer hitting the aircraft•, the instrument panel explodes, low rpm audio screaming, no hydraulics, a round passes by Joe's head and tears a hole in the overhead about 18 inches• long. They fly to the nearby firebase and execute a running landing on the same road. No bad guys this time. Joe gets out and looks back at the cargo hold. It was like a bathtub of blood came pouring out of it.• The 25 ARVNs had been shot to pieces. The ARVNs had stopped the 50 cal shooting the transmission out of the helicopter. Joe had some minor cuts on his knees from the shattered chin bubble. The A/C, the door gunner and crew chief were uninjured. The round that missed Joe appeared to go straight through the cockpit in line with the center of Joe's body. How it missed him was miraculous.

Later in his tour he was A/C chalk 4, the lead came in too hot, did a tail dragging flare, chalk 2 goes right, chalk 3 goes left Joe's peter pilot has the controls and buries the tail rotor in the mud. The main rotor hit a paddy dike which rips the transmission out of the helicopter, splits a rotor blade lengthwise which enters the cockpit and stops one cigarette length from Joe's face.

Joe flew 1500 hrs in eight months. Desired very much to make the Army a career but was riffed in the force reduction. He was a great pilot, a hero in my mind and I miss him very much.

From: Olin Fite

This information was last updated 05/18/2016

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