unit history information
for D/3/5 CAV 9 INF

For date 691029

D/3/5 CAV 9 INF was a US Army unit
Primary service involved, US Army
Incident reference: 69102929.KIA This information is available on CD-ROM.
An Xuyen Province, IV Corps, South Vietnam
Location, U-Minh Forest
D/3/5 CAV 9 INF losses were 2 KIA
Aircraft lost in D/3/5 CAV 9 INF were 1 OH-6A
Description: What follows is an edited version of a Copyright 1997 article written by James R. "Tony Tiger" Spletstoser that was posted on the D/3/5th Cav Website; see Hotlink: A. He wrote this off a taped interview that he made almost 25 years ago and this is the way that WO Derosier described the action. This article is part of his unpublished book, "Hit's Through the Chin Bubble." He was a civilian employed by Dynalectron Corp. who had a contract to collect Battle Damage Data for Aberdeen Proving Ground. He was trained as a fixed wing pilot, an aircraft mechanic, and photographer for service in Vietnam. Because of the length of this narrative, the unit history and Tony's general observations are stored in this record while the HELICOPTER record contains specifics about Wheeler and Greeno's aircraft and how they died. I met with WO R.T. Derosier to record information concerning three Battle Damage Surveys that he had either witnessed or had intimate knowledge of. The one that follows is about WO C.J. Wheeler and SP5 Jerry Greeno, who had been called to glory a month before when their luck ran out. It was an unusual combat situation. In this case, WO Derosier had been flying Wheeler's wing. Both of these Warrant officers and their SP5 observer-gunners were warriors of the highest order. They were all grown men in their late 20s, had wives and children back home. The mindset of an Air Cav Scout pilot is that they psyched themselves with positive self-esteem. While they didn't perceive Chuck as a pushover, they knew that they were good and they were just young enough and cocky enough to think that they would always come out the winner. Both of these Warrants planned to make the Army their life and career. Their Observers would have rode with them through the gates of Hell if they had been asked. By its nature, flying Scouts is a risky business. These men were good at their jobs because they were a well-trained team. They had learned their art from the ground up from those who had preceded them. These lessons were not in any book and had not been taught in flight school. Flying skills, learning from the mistakes of others, always helps to give a Scout pilot a bit of an edge. A lot of the right kind of luck has a lot to do with survival. Luck can be compared to a cat with nine lives, but even luck can get used up after so many times. Flying the OH-6A 'Cayuse' and going out to fight Charlie toe-to-toe was something that could really get your blood up. The Air Cav flight teams fed off of it, a high that was the next best thing to sex. These Air Cav OH-6A's were what I'd call well armed. They each carried a multi-barreled type 7.62mm machine gun capable of firing 4,000 rounds per minute. They called it a mini-gun. The crew chief had a butt-stocked M-60 machine gun that he used like a belt-fed automatic rifle. Not that the mini-gun was ever turned on for a full minute; the LOH couldn't have carried that much ammo. But it would put out some awesome bursts. The other ordnance aboard was the crew chief's Frag-bag filled with goodies for Chuck. Everything from CS, smoke, Frag, Willie Pete, and their own answer to those almost indestructible Mud Bunkers, the Baby-Bombs. They were made up of a stick of TNT, a screw-in grenade fuse and 2 lbs. of C-4 taped around it. There were two bad things about the way D Troop flew their Scouts. One; there wasn't anything in front except their pink body's that would stop a 7.62X39mm ChiCom 'ball' or even a .22 LR bullet, for that matter. The armored seats were good but only worked if Charlie fired as you were leaving. The crew's Chicken Plate vests helped a little, but there was a lot more of the Pilot and crew chief hanging out than was under the vests. There was that ever lovin' Colt M1911-A1 .45 ACP pistol in the holster that the pilot would slide around and let hang between his legs over the family jewels. Two was the Frag-Bag and those Baby-Bombs. A grenade fuse is much like a blasting cap, only with a timed fuse. You hit a blasting cap with a hammer and you'll blow the hammer away and likely your hand with it. So think of that odd angry 7.62mm bullet as the hammer and the grenade fuse as a blasting cap that is screwed into a one pound stick of TNT. TNT looks like a square stick of plastic wrapped in thin cardboard, no armor, with metal ends. Added to the one-lb. block of TNT, the LOH observer taped either one or two 2.5 lb. blocks of C4 to complete the "Baby Bombs." The choice depended on the target. The Observer/crew-chief had these stacked all around him, on the floor in front of the observer's seat and on the console between the seats. These LOHs are loaded. The crew chief is ready to take on every Mud-Bunker in the U-Minh Forrest. I have always been worried about the 'Bombs,' even the Frag-Bag, for reasons that I have stated before. The Baby-Bombs are an example of a field expedient to fill a combat need. Neither the Frag-Bag nor the Bombs would have been allowed if things were being done by the book. You must understand that the people who write the books were sitting behind a desk somewhere back in CONUS and don't have to get out there with it all hanging out, and try to kill Charlie. Somewhere there must be an ordnance engineer that could put together something that would be a good fuse/detonator that would do the job without creating a situation that could spoil your day. Doesn't have to be Hi-Tech, just a bulletproof grenade fuse. When I first met Wheeler and Derosier we were still stationed at Dong Tam, the 9th Division Base Camp. Of all the Army Aviation units that I had to deal with in the IV Corps and even part of the III Corps area, D/3/5 Air Cav gave me the most business. They were all a bunch of "Magnet Ass's," so naturally I spent a lot more time with them than others. In this way I got to know most of the pilots and crew chiefs pretty well. Occasionally when the D troop Scout's "hash and trash" (derived from the original, you know, hauling 'Ash and Trash') maintenance OH-6A would make a run to Tan Son Nhut, I would go with them and the pilot would let me get some stick time. After Derosier transferred into maintenance, I got to spend more time in the LOH. Flying it in forward at flight speed, the stick response worked out just about like handling a fixed wing aircraft. But trying to hold it straight at a hover was a real bitch. I never had enough hover-flying time in a LOH, to get the hang of it. It took me only about 15 minutes to learn to hover a UH-1H, but that short-coupled little LOH was an whole-nuther-thing. I've always said that if you could fly a OH-6A, you could fly anything. It was a different story with guys like WO Derosier. They would put a LOH on and wear it. I have seen them dance around outside the Base perimeter wire, looking for VC sign, about 6 feet off the ground, blowing the grass away, trying to find anything that looked different, and they'd never even come close to sticking the tail into the bank or wire. They were all pros.
Comments: CIV Spletstoser, James R.; ; ; WO1 WHEELER CONRAD JACK; pilot; KIAOF; SP5 GREENO GERALD THOMAS JR; crew chief; KIACM; WO1 Derosier, Richard T.; pilot; ;
Hotlinks: Hotline A = http://www.geocities.com/Pentagon/7063/scout.html

The source for this information was Article written by James R. "Tony" Spletstoser

Additional information is available on CD-ROM.

Please send additions or corrections to: Gary Roush Email address: webmaster@vhpa.org

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Date posted on this site: 05/13/2023