1st Aviation Brigade HAWK Newsletter information
155 AHC was a US Army unit
for 155 AHC
For date 690630
10 CAB was a US Army unit
Primary service involved, US Army
Incident reference: 69032355.BAT This information is available on CD-ROM.
Darlac Province, II Corps, South Vietnam
Location, Ban Me Thuot
Description: It was Sunday evening in Vietnam. The sun was still high at 6:00 p.m. as the men of the 155th AHC at Ban Me Thuot vigorously devoured chicken, steaks and beer. It was a company party. They had momentarily forgotten the tensions of combat assaults and enemy engagements - but they were not unprepared. These combat aviators of the 10th CAB are well aware of enemy tactics. He hits hard. He hits fast. He hits when he is least expected.
In a daring daylight shelling, the first of a half-dozen 122mm rockets exploded in the compound at 6:05. The party was over. Charlie had come for a visit and he would be well received. "My first reactions were automatic," recalled WO Thomas Lee Dickinson, 19, Aberdeen, MD. "I came out of the hootch on the run, grabbed my weapons, and headed for the gunships. Steaks and spareribs were sailing through the air, people were heading for the drainage ditch, and feet were flying for ships."
When the feet of Robert Frearson, 21-year-old Army Captain from Glendale, AZ, reached the Starlight Ship, he found his crew ready to go. Approximately two minutes after the first round they were in the air. Reaction time for the Starlight Ship has been as low as 45 seconds from first impacting round. CPT Frearson described the takeoff procedures. "While I was cranking the ship, SP4 David Wyatt, Fayette, MO, strapped me in, and SP4 Albert Arredondo, Elmonte, CA, rolled down my sleeves. We lifted off and I called 'Gunsight Alpha' for a direction."
CPT Frearson further described the capture of one of the party crashers. He had been spotted by the Starlight Ship, standing by one of the familiar L-shaped trenches from which 122mm rockets are fired. "I decided to pick him up," he said. "The man took off all his clothes and set them on fire, along with the pouch he was carrying. He was half the way down a steep slope. We used our .50 caliber to walk him up the hill where we could land. SP4 Wyatt went after him and the two other members covered him from the ground. He approached the suspect halfway down the hill. The suspect pulled a knife and made threatening jabs. Wyatt faked a left hook and kicked him in the chest, making him drop the knife and roll down the hill. Wyatt then picked him up and brought him back to the ship."
American injuries were light, with no aircraft receiving damages. "They definitely knew the party was scheduled for six o'clock, and knew where we were. They were not after the ships," says PIO WO John D. Dowdy, St. Joseph, MO. "We are hit on the average of once a week, but usually between 2300 and 0200. They thought they would catch us off guard, but there is no time that you can be unprepared here."
The enemy positions were silenced within fifteen minutes. It was a typical encounter with the enemy today in Vietnam. They hit hard. They hit fast. But then, they aren't the only one.
Comments: WO Dickinson, Thomas L.; pilot; ;
CPT Frearson, Robert; pilot; ;
SP4 Wyatt, David; crewmember; ;
SP4 Arredondo, Albert; crewmember; ;
WO Dowdy, John D.; PIO; ;
The source for this information was ?, Vol ?, Num ? by SP4 Millard Adams; Aug 98 Ban Me Thuot Barb
Additional information is available on CD-ROM.
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