Helicopter AH-1G 66-15301


Information on U.S. Army helicopter AH-1G tail number 66-15301
The Army purchased this helicopter 1067
Total flight hours at this point: 00000061
Date: 01/31/1968
Incident number: 68013133.KIA
Unit: 334 AHC
This was a Combat incident. This helicopter was UNK
This was an Unknown mission
Unknown this helicopter was Unknown at UNK feet and UNK knots.
Unknown
Helicopter took 3 hits from:
Small Arms/Automatic Weapons; Gun launched non-explosive ballistic projectiles less than 20 mm in size. (14.5MM)
The helicopter was hit in the Left Side
Systems damaged were: ARMAMENT, MAIN ROTOR SYS, STRUCTURE, PERSONNEL
Casualties = YES . .
The helicopter Continued Flight.
The aircraft was diverted prior to accomplishing any mission objectives.
Repaired at BIEN HOA
Original source(s) and document(s) from which the incident was created or updated: Survivability/Vulnerability Information Analysis Center Helicopter database. Also: LNOF, 80408, BELL (Bell Helicopter. Lindenmuth Old Format Data Base. )

Crew Members:
P WO1 CAMERON ROGER SLETTEN KIA
AC MAJ GRAY RONALD E


War Story:
My name was Major Ronald E. Gray and my call sign was Playboy 16 a platoon leader in the the 334th AHC. On Jan 31, 1968 I was the Aircraft Commander and WO1 Cameron was the co-pilot/gunner in the front seat. I was the light fire team leader. Earlier that morning we discovered several hundred North Vietnamese in rice paddies at the end of Bien Hoa AFB runway. We engaged them and after running low on ammo I called OPS and instructed them to activate one of my light fire teams to replace us. That fire team led by CWO 3 Stream arrived on site and we returned to refuel and rearm. Airborne again we received instructions from OPS to proceed to My Tho to rescue a Code. On arriving we were unable to establish commo with the ground unit and eventually received OK to proceed north toward Saigon. While enroute at about 1800 feet and 160 knots we received hostile fire through the left front of our Cobra mortally wounding WO1 Cameron. I instructed my wing man to break right and climb while I broke left and fired rockets. I then headed with my wing man toward Hotel 3 at Thon Sa Nhut AFB where we executed a circular approach due to ground fire. Requested medical support, radioed OPS Sit Rep, and requested replacement Cobra. It finally arrived and a CWO 3 volunteered to be my co-pilot/gunner. With my wing man we continued to fly that day engaging several targets.

Note: Contrary to what you published I don't recall any buildings nearby when we received fire, nor did we give any slicksŁ cover while they dropped supplies, nor did anyone come up on guard and talk to Roger, nor did my Cobra almost hit the ground. Actually we flew straight to Hotel 3 at Saigon where both myself and my wing man landed safely. I don't know who wrote the article I'm referring to but perhaps they should have gotten their facts straight. If it was someone called Wayne R. Coe, please tell him Peter Pilot was Major Gray, the same Peter Pilot who sometime later took command of the Cobra NETT.

From: Ronald E. Gray, LTC USA (Ret), November 2017

While it's no big deal, Maj Gray's rendition is partially incorrect. Sorry, at almost 80 I obviously forgot a few FACTS. I checked with some other Playboy team members so I could get things straight.

Yes Gray was their Fire Team Leader and AC. Roger was in front seat when killed and they were on their way to My Tho. His wing man, Mike Dodson (retired 09) advised me that he became Gray's wing after engaging the enemy at the airfield and after rearming and was released, by me, from my Fire Fly mission. (I don't believe Maj Gray was even in the air when the NVA were discovered or engaged. He was probably at our billets and was trying to get to the airfield when TET broke out. Major Gray DID NOT discover and engage the enemy forces discovered by my Fire Fly team of which his later wing man, Mike Dodson who was then flying as the low ship on MY team. We were doing a brief recon of the base around 0300 before refueling (as we usually did) to go out again when we actually flew over and exposed the enemy in full uniform on the Southeast side of the airbase runway that ran west to east. .In fact, we also saw 2 men that initially appeared to me to be sappers, but my door gunners said they were USAF security guards crawling away from their tower and the enemy prior to the main attack at 0330. I reported this information to Bein Hoa Air Force tower as well as to my battalion commander's call sign. My BN CO was LTC Bob Deets who was flying with our Group Commander COL Nick Paski. I did not know they were listening or were flying in this area at the time. We all were almost bingo so we did a hot refueling and since we had not engaged any targets of consequence during our mission, we did not need rearming. To give me more room in my D model UH-1 to pick up the security guards I told my door gunners to kick out the Vietnamese Area Operations Officer and, I believe another person. (Particularly since the VN Office would not give us permission to engage the enemy until he could "clear it" with his higher up). AF tower informed me that their Wing Commander wanted to be on my ship and was at the North end of our Scabbard. I picked up the Air Force 3rd Wing commander, Col Tackett ?? whom I also believe put me in for the DSC (see my citation and accompanying statement on the web) My FireFly team took off to the North, breaking left to engage the enemy (without permission) and to pick up the AF security guards. As we were taking off, all hell broke loose and rockets were in bound. I believe we then engaged the enemy forces and I picked up the two security guards and dropped them off at the tower. While engaging the RVN, my copilot, an Australian Lt was shot in the leg. I dropped him off at our landing site and took off with ?? in the front seat. We did get some further support, but did not think that it came from Gray. I "think" Maj Gray was in the officer billets in the city of Bien Hoa and trying to get to the airfield with several pilots after TET broke out.

This is from LTG Dodson,

"Ken, I was on the initial missions with you against the close targets at the airbase. Stram was in my front seat. Later in the afternoon I (still with Stram in the front) flew with Ron and Roger to My Tho. We were out in the middle of nowhere coming home when a single shot hit Roger. We landed at the pad near the hospital. Ron had to crab the landing so he could see out. Mike."

If you need to confirm the above, Michael Dodson, retired LTG is now on his state legislature┬ of KS.

The Air Force report on the attack is at this link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tet_offensive_attacks_on_Bien_Hoa_and_Long_Binh

Ken Rubin, LTC Retired.

This record was last updated on 01/28/2022


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Date posted on this site: 11/13/2023


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