Saber Article Index

1999 Jul-aug

MEDEVAC 15th Med\15th FSB
Mike Bodnar
307B N Main Copperas Cove, TX 76522
1704 254-542-1961

This column has achieved field grade status in the fact that there are major error corrections to note from the last issue of the Saber. They are immediately as follows:  There was a photo of three MEDEVAC crewmen, i.e. Mike SMITH, LT Dennis SCHMIDT, and LT Steve MODICA. The caption read incorrectly. Gunner Mike SMITH is still very much alive as noted in the beginning of the last Saber issue. It is Dennis SCHMIDT and Steve MODICA who are deceased since Vietnam; R.I.P.

I flew with both LT SCHMIDT and LT MODICA quite a lot. LT SCHMIDT somehow liked me enough to take me up in the co- pilot's seat with him at Song Be to show me how to fly a UH- 1B, with or without a gunner or crew chief, I do not remember.

I understand that is what the pilots did with any E.M. if they liked them enough. At the time I could not have cared less about the thrill of piloting a UH-1B but I went along with the experience which ended as quickly as it had started while I felt the squish of the flight controls.

I do not know what I had done to impress LT SCHMIDT for him to like me enough to do that with me. At that period the only person that I was trying to impress was the Grim Reaper.  I do remember getting into some kind of, at that age, rare dissertation, in the MEDEVAC crew members tent at Song Be and holding LT SCHMIDT's attention. That could have been what did it. LT SCHMIDT was not easily impressed and he was a hard-core soldier as well as an excellent pilot having been promoted from Warrant Officer.

LT MODICA wrote an article, which appeared in various places in Army publications called, "MEDEVAC Meadows" about when his aircraft got shot down during the Cambodian Incursion but in Vietnam up by Katum in War Zone C. That was also when we had our only combat K.I.A. while I flew on MEDEVAC from January until July of 1970. That casualty was door gunner Gary L. TAYLOR.

That was also when the Medal of Honor was won by then SFC Louis R. ROCCO who was in MACV and flying out with LT MODICA's crew to ARVNs who were to be medically evacuated. That date of incident was 24 May 70 and only one combat K.I.A. during those six months was an indication of good FIRST TEAM work.

Back on earth; SNORE mentions that, "We made it to the History Channel! Retired pilot and a friend to us all, Hank "Oakie" TUELL [COL ret.] was recently seen on national television telling the story of MEDEVAC and the Vietnam experiences of crew members and their plight in rescuing and caring for the injured."

I flew with then LT TUELL a lot and I knew him to be, as well as an excellent pilot, a consummate professional who never said anything to anyone except in the line of duty, and in the line of duty he led by example. He was most popularly known as "Okie" because he was from Oklahoma but I see that everyone spells it "Oakie."

There were actually two "Okies" in MEDEVAC when I was there. Then LT TUELL was "Little Okie" and CW2 Phillip "Big Okie" GIBBONS who DEROSed in February 70 was the other and "shorter" because he had been in country longer "Okie." My first mission on MEDEVAC out of Phouc Vinh, a hoist, was with both "Okies" as pilots. Gunner Tim KIRWAN should remember that one.

LT TUELL had the notable bad habit of chewing tobacco EVERYWHERE that he went probably because of his Oklahoma heritage. I feel guilty because I worked for the supplier; I picked that stuff in the Connecticut River Valley for a summer job when I was younger.

Of course "Oakie" did not think that it was a bad habit and literally "passed it around" to everyone in MEDEVAC as a sort of cultural exchange. I saw his fellow pilots and crew members of every ethnic and cultural background chomping on the same "Oakie" chaw when it came time to "party."

My opinion was that was one foul wad of junk, and getting shot at was enough partying for me! In consideration for the crew chiefs LT TUELL always had a number ten G.I. can-not G.I. number ten-next to him by his pilot's seat. We had enough to do to clean up the blood, gunpowder, and battle damage.

Next, SNORE mentions that the 1st Cav Air Ambulance Platoon motto for MEDEVAC: SO THAT OTHERS MAY LIVE is being imitated and his exact comments are, "In case you missed it the Air Force's Elite Recovery Group in the Balkans has adopted our logo almost to a 'T': THAT OTHERS MAY LIVE."

If imitation is the highest form of tribute then that must be a tribute to the originals, who of course are the FIRST TEAM's MEDEVAC. Not believing some coincidence I would testify to the 1st Cav MEDEVAC's long legend and honorable reputation.

The only coincidence that I will believe is the fact that another correction to the last Saber issue is the publication error of that same motto at the end of the column, incorrectly printed the way that our new heroic U.S. military rescue team is using their motto and not the way that it was in the FIRST TEAM: SO THAT OTHERS MAY LIVE.  I specifically mention this because as in the combat arms whom we were a vital life line for, our motto meant everything to us. We busted our butts and many gave their lives, or went home with holes in them that they were not born with, to get to those combat soldiers and keep them ALIVE!

SNORE also wanted to add, after their MEDEVAC\15th Med Reunion, "Welcome back from Vegas, had a great time and wish to thank everyone who attended and made this a very exciting week. I would also like to thank John TABOR once again for the fine job and all the hard work he did in setting up everything. Mr. RAMSEY will be the Reunion Chairman for the 3rd Annual Reunion in San Antonio, TX."

Other mail from the cyber red nylon mail bag: Paul STROESSNER <FIRSTCAV1@WORLDNET.ATT.NET>of Warwick, RI, just wanted to send a "thank you" to MEDEVAC for "your help" in Phan Thiet, July, 1966-July, 1967. Paul also says, "I served with the 2\7."

Our own John TABOR from Waxahachie, TX JTABOR@AZMAIL.NET  jtabor? adds his comments: "LZ Vegas was a BLAST, I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as I did. I've started my countdown to LZ San Antonio. I hope we see more new faces there as we did this year in Vegas.  Crayton MORRIS CGHTM@AOL.COM of Portland, OR says, "WOW! after all these years I didn't know there was the "15th Medical Bat. Org."...I was a chopper pilot for a short time (July and August, 1966) before being transferred to C Trp. 1\9th Cav-1st Air Cav Div. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!! I have some slides of our base headquarters at An Khe if anyone is interested."

Gail MONCIVAIS from Clark Summit, PA writes again to say: "At the time of my original posting I has having trouble with the Windows 98 program. Since then a softpack has been installed and my e-mail has straightened out. I have e-mailed people all over and even from the women's Web site. You can contact me at <GMM347@AOL.COM>and I will answer this time. I receive so much e-mail now I have to go in every few days and clean out things I have already answered.

I was in 15th Med from February 78-Feb 79. My oldest son was born at Fort Hood while I was on active duty. I was stationed at HQ & A Company because the original unit I was assigned to had shipped to Germany with their assigned unit for maneuvers. I was due to deliver so I was transferred."  Jimmy G. DILLARD DOC2CAV7@NETDOOR.COM of Pontotoc, MS writes and is looking for old friends from Tay Ninh and Phouc Vinh. Jimmy served with A 2\7th Cav Oct 69 through Oct 70. He adds, "Any response appreciated." GARRYOWEN from and to Jimmy!

Art JACOBS AJVALKYRIE@AOL.COM writes from Lawrence, MA, "I was a Warrant Officer with the 15th Med in 1968. My call sign was MEDEVAC 21. I arrived in January of 1968. I was CPT Jake MAST's co-pilot at LZ ENGLISH. Then I went north and was CPT Ray KINNARD's co-pilot at LZ SHARON. MAJ GOODMAN, our platoon leader, made me an AC (aircraft commander), and on my first day as AC (7 April) with CPT Ron CLAUER as my co-pilot, got shot in the foot during a MEDEVAC mission northeast of EVANS.

When I returned to duty I was an AC at LZ JANE and then went back to EVANS. On 24 July, I lost three different aircraft during hoist missions with 1LT Steven BEALS (K.I.A. 26 November), CPT Ron CLAUER, and WO Paul HUSTON. I was shot in the arm on that third mission, we lost our engine, and crashed in the jungle. WO James MAGIN again was in the aircraft that came out to get us.

Our CO, LTC Guthrie TURNER was on board that ship. I never forgot what it meant to see how much he cared about the MEDEVAC Platoon. I was classmates with WO James DORAN (K.I.A. with BEALS), both in flight school (67-17) and the Medevac School at Fort Sam Houston.  I would like to hear from other members of 15th Med, especially those who were there in 1968, and, those who were in the MEDEVAC Platoon."

My comments are in the next sentence. Thank you for everything Art: SO THAT OTHERS MAY LIVE

Chuck EASTERLING BIDDY@FROGNET.NET 1-740-989-2033, says that he was with Co. B 15th Med. Bn. 1st Cav. Div. from Dec.66-Dec67 and was glad to find fellow 15th Med. He says that he has been looking for a long time. Chuck is also searching for a fellow comrade from the same company: the Company Clerk by the name of Jack DRAKE from CA. If anyone has info please contact Chuck, who says that he spoke to someone from his old unit very recently for the first time since 1967 through contact with us; and found Jim SCHLAAK. "It was great talking to him, I appreciate his time."  Lee DORSEY CLDORSEY@EROLS.COM , Bel Air, MD, "178th, 179th, B\228(Cav), and the 362nd ASHC(Cav) all Hook and mostly Cav," spent 3 tours in Nam, two were with the Cav, and he says, "I look at every [Web] site that pertains to the Cav. I have a close friend from high school and we met in Sin City one Sunday in 67. We still meet on Sunday after church. I was in B\228 ASHC (Hook Unit) and I can't tell you how good it made me feel to see you guys run to our bird to take care of our wounded. Bless You and All Of Yours." Thanks for the benediction Lee, here is mine: FIRST TEAM!

Lastly, Louis RIVERA-LUGO, C Co 15th Med, called on June 10th, was a 91ZULU and the First Sergeant for, as he remembered, "Charging Charlie," in Quan Loi. I repeat, the First Sergeant; and Louis says from 1969 to 1971. Louis says that he enjoyed the command of "Colonel" MCNANEY, and is looking forward to seeing him, if not at this year's reunion, then I would think at the 2000 Reunion because it will be where Louis lives by Ft. Bragg.

Louis says that he remembers MEDEVAC pilots "Oakie," whom Louis says had a degree in biology, and Mr. ZEPP. If you would like to contact Louis you can call the 1st Cav Association at 1 800 234 9313 for his information.

Always remembering our 1st Cav troops on duty around the world; over and out.

Mike Bodnar C 2\7 '69
MEDEVAC 1-7\70

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