Saber Article Index
MEDEVAC 15th Med\15th FSB
307B N Main Copperas Cove, TX 76522
The following eulogy for SNORE was sent over
to me by '70-'71 MEDEVAC door gunner Larry ASH: "This has been a most
disquieting year thus far. In January, we lost one of our most active and
creative alumni: Sherman (SNORE) BREEDEN. Sherman died of a sudden heart
attack after an extended illness. He was instrumental in the founding of
our [15th MED] association and the locating of former members of 15th
Medical Battalion, First Cavalry Division, who served in Vietnam. It was
Sherman's dream that we all be reunited both physically and spiritually.
He devoted his time and means to this effort for a very long time. I'm so
glad to know that he lived to see the fruits of his labors.
The Sherman that I knew was very family-oriented and the love of his
life was Ann, whom he referred to as, "My wife of 100 years." His
granddaughter, Alyssa, is a gem and you could always see the sparkle in
his eyes when she was with him or when he spoke of her. Sherm was very
proud of his son, Chris, and his sweet daughter-in-law. After his family;
his faith and country always sustained him. We all came to admire
Sherman BREEDEN and count him among our true friends. Our hopes and
prayers are with the family and Sherman, "We'll miss you."
MEDIC Mark "DOC" HOLIDAY DOC459@EARTHLINK.NET from Valencia, CA wrote
to say that he is sorry to learn about Sherman's passing and that he was
a great friend and person.
SNORE's wife, wrote to say, "To the "brothers" of The 15th Medical
Battalion Association: Thank you for the beautiful flowers, many cards,
letters, and phone calls. Special thanks to Jim "Fergie" FERGUSON and
Dillard CARTER for the visit. You touched my soul. A loving supportive
family and comforting words from friends is helping me through the worst
time of my life."
Chris BREEDEN MOTOMAN45@JUNO.COM , SNORE's son,
wrote: "I thank you all for the friendship, and love you have given my
MEDEVAC crew chief Jim FERGUSON
JIMFERG@HOME.COM says, "To
all of those who knew Sherman, and especially to his family, you have my
most heart felt sympathy. To Sherman: You epitomized the meaning of
'Friend.' A place in heaven is reserved for you, because if anyone
deserves to be there, it most certainly is 'you.' So long old buddy."
Dan PETERJOHN UHLAN@AOL.COM e-mailed to tell us: "I was assigned to
2-8 Cav in 1990-1992. I have been asked by the 8th Cav Association to
organize a soldier support program for 1100 young troopers currently
deployed to Kuwait for six months as a part of TF 3-8 Cav. The details of
this program can be found in the attached letter.
My purpose in
contacting you is to solicit your help in getting members of the 15th
MED\15th FSB alumni to participate in the program by adopting some of the
support units that form a part of TF 3-8 Cav. As you will see by the
Troop List in the attached letter, not many of the 'slice' units are
technically part of the 15th MED or the 15th FSB.
However, as you
probably well know from hard experience, the Troopers who are chopped
from support units to DS of the line units are the ones most likely to be
left out of any good deals. I would hate to see that happen to any of the
young men and women attached to TF 3-8 Cav.
I believe the attached
letter is self-explanatory but if you have any questions, please feel
free to contact me at my e-mail address. If you could give a brief
mention of the program in your next column in the Saber and give my
address as a POC, I'd appreciate it. If you have an e-mail list of your
members around the country, you could forward the letter with a request
that they share the program with community groups such as the Scouts,
VFW, American Legion, newspapers schools etc. I think it would very
beneficial if the general public got to know our young defenders as well
as those of us who have been there do. Thanks for your Time."
STRUB KRISTYGIRLS@AOL.COM , 15th MED '65-'66, wrote in to comment on
SNORE's Web site Guestbook: "What happened? Did everyone from the 15th
forget how to write. Let's let each other know we are still out there.
I'm doing great & hope you are also."
MARKADRAKE@USWEST.NET did just what Ron requested and wrote in to say
that he was just checking in and submitting new information for updating
his records. We now know that he is still with us.
STEVKITCARSON@AOL.COM wrote to say, "I was with the 15th '67 to '68 at
An Khe. Looking for anyone who was there in this time range."
found a sign in on the 1st Cav Assn. Web site Guestbook by Michael F.
AHERN MILDREDMA@AOL.COM of 1603 Alice Dr. El Reno, OK 73036, who said
that he was a pilot in 15th MED in 1967.
Some 1st Cav MEDEVAC
history from the book: Army Aeromedical Evacuation in Vietnam by Peter
Dorland and James Nanney states the following:
"In early 1970 the
U.S. military leaders in Vietnam saw the need for larger strikes against
the supply routes. Insurgents in Cambodia were stepping up their campaign
against the new anti-Communist Cambodian government of Lt. Gen. Lon Nol,
and Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital, was soon isolated. On 1 April
the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese forces began to clear a corridor ten
to fifteen miles wide along the border all the way from the Gulf of
Thailand to the Fish Hook region north-northwest of Saigon, threatening
III and IV Corps Zones in South Vietnam.
"Responding to these
threats, the allied forces decided to openly assist the new Cambodian
government. In mid-April ARVN forces conducted a limited cross-border
raid near the Parrot's Beak region, south of the Fish Hook region. At the
same time U.S. and ARVN staffs started planning for a joint operation
against several enemy sanctuaries in Cambodia, especially in the Fish
Hook region, and on 28 April President Nixon approved the final plan.
From early May to the end of June elements of several large U.S. combat
units in South Vietnam-the 1st Infantry Division, the 1st Cavalry
Division, and the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment-took part in these
joint strikes at suspected Viet Cong bases over the border. USAF B-52
tactical bomb strikes and large-scale U.S. heli-lifts and helicopter
gunship strikes prepared the way for the ground forces.
and MEDEVAC helicopters supported both South Vietnamese and American
soldiers in this operation. During May the 1st Cavalry's Air Ambulance
Platoon supporting the attack flew 1,042 missions (307 in Cambodia) and
evacuated 1,600 patients (946 from Cambodia). The dense jungle and
forests along the border resulted in eighty hoist missions for 182
"Although constituting only 7.6 percent of the total
missions for May, hoist missions accounted for 53 percent of the ships
hit by enemy fire that month. In May four ships were destroyed and eleven
damaged. Ten crewmen were wounded and one killed. In June deeper
penetrations into Cambodia increased flying time for the pilots and
crews, even while the number of missions declined as the fighting tapered
off. The crews flew 682 missions (199 in Cambodia) and evacuated 1,056
patients (397 from Cambodia). They also extracted 185 patients in
ninety-one hoist missions. The 45th Medical Company and the 159th Medical
Detachment helped the Air Ambulance Platoon by backhauling many patients
to hospitals around Saigon. Because the Viet Cong had been warned of the
foray and had fled the area, casualties were far below the April
estimates. What had loomed as a severe test for the Dust Off system
proved to be largely routine work, except for the dangerous hoist
missions over triple-canopy jungle and forest."
excerpts from the above book are based on an article by MEDEVAC pilot
Stephen F. MODICA (who is deceased since the Vietnam War) called "MEDEVAC
Meadow," and written in the United States Army Aviation Digest 21 (June
1975). This incident happened while I was flying on MEDEVAC on the
opposite end of the 1st Cav A.O. somewhere in Cambodia with other crews.
I flew with every one of these pilots at one time or another that are
mentioned in these excerpts. They were all great pilots and most of them
are still alive. This story is also about a Congressional Medal of Honor
recipient who earned that while on a mission with MEDEVAC:
Medevac in Peril-One of these hoist missions during the Cambodian
operation demonstrated that the air ambulance pilots had no monopoly on
heroism among the U.S. Army medical personnel in Vietnam. On the morning
of 24 May 1970 a helicopter of the Air Ambulance Platoon was ferrying S.
Sgt. Louis R. ROCCO, the medical adviser of a MACV advisory team
stationed at Katum.
"Since December 1969 Sergeant ROCCO had served as
liaison to the 1st ARVN Airborne Division's medical battalion. He had
trained ARVN personnel on mission requests, use of the hoist, the forest
penetrator, and the semi-rigid litter, and he also had presented classes
on basic first aid. Whenever his duties allowed him the time, ROCCO rode
the medical helicopters on live missions to help the medical corpsmen and
to practice some "hands on" medicine himself.
"At 1100 on 24 May,
MEDEVAC 2 with Sergeant ROCCO on board flew toward its base at Katum, in
northern Tay Ninh province along the Cambodian border. A request for a
pickup came in through the radio of a command-and-control helicopter
flying overhead. The call was on behalf of eight urgent patients of
the 1st ARVN Airborne Division. Two of the division's companies, the 61st
and 63d, were on a sweep operation five miles inside the Cambodian
border. The day before, the two companies had made contact with a North
Vietnamese force that broke off and withdrew. The commander of the 61st
Company had the small task force dig in for the night. The enemy attacked
at dawn on the twenty-fourth but was repulsed by the defenders. In
pursuing the North Vietnamese the ARVN soldiers took eight casualties.
The U.S. advisers to the 61st and 63d Companies radioed their evacuation
request through Maj. Jesse W. MYERS, Jr., senior battalion adviser, who
was overhead in a command-and-control helicopter. The pilot of MEDEVAC 2,
1st Lt. Stephen F. MODICA, radioed that he would take the mission as
soon as he dropped off a load of supplies. At Katum, the crew threw the
beer and sodas onto the pad, grabbed an extra chest protector for ROCCO,
and took off again. Regulations of the 1st Cavalry required gunship cover
for evacuation missions if a unit had been in contact with the enemy
within the past twenty-four hours. Usually C Battery, 2d Battalion,
20th Aerial Rocket Artillery-the "BLUE MAX"-provided this cover by
orbiting a team of two AH-1G Cobras, one high and one at treetop level.
MEDEVAC 2 had already learned from the U.S. adviser with the ARVN
companies that the last contact had been to the north two hours earlier.
Soon the BLUE MAX gun team arrived on station; MODICA briefed them on the
situation and said he would shoot his approach from the south. When the
helicopter dropped to the landing zone, North Vietnamese hidden in the
trees and along the ridge line opened fire with small arms and automatic
weapons. The lower gunbird opened fire at the muzzle flashes in the
trees. On its second pass it used its grenade launcher; the enemy
redirected some of its fire and the gunship took its first hit. On its
next run it again took enemy fire.
"Just before the MEDEVAC landed,
two enemy rounds hit MODICA in the chest protector and and one passed
through his left knee and lodged against the femur. As soon as the
aircraft bumped down, the copilot turned to kid MODICA that he ought
to practice his landings. When he saw MODICA's wounds, he took the
controls and pulled the ship out of the landing zone. The aircraft rose
fifty feet into the air before the engine stalled and the aircraft
crashed back to the ground. Major MYERS later described what he saw from
above in his command-and-control ship: 'The [MEDEVAC] ship seemed to
land, then shot up in the air, and then fell to the ground rolling over
on its side, thrashing around like a wounded insect.... Smoke was pouring
out of the ship by this time....' The two gunships made low firing passes
to give the MEDEVAC crew a chance to get out, if any still lived. One
Cobra gunship came to a high hover over the burning MEDEVAC, spinning and
firing at the North Vietnamese. The gunship took twenty-nine hits before
its ammunition ran out, forcing it to depart. The pilot transmitted a
Mayday for the downed MEDEVAC, giving its location and identification,
and then called MEDEVAC Operations to repeat the information.
the Medevac crew were stunned at first and unable to move. Finally ROCCO
dragged himself out and crawled away. He had a fractured wrist and hip
and a severely bruised back. As soon as he realized that the crew was
still inside, he went back. He pulled MODICA through the shattered
windshield and carried him across twenty meters of exposed terrain to the
ARVN perimeter. One by one he brought the unconscious crew out. All were
in bad shape. MODICA had a serious leg wound. The copilot, 1st Lt. Leroy
G. CAUBERREAUX, had a broken collar bone and fractured ribs.
"Sp5c. Terry BURDETTE, the medical corpsman, had a broken shoulder and a
broken leg. The gunner, Sp4c. Gary TAYLOR, who sat in the right door, was
crushed and burned when the ship crashed and rolled, and ROCCO severely
burned his hands trying to find him. The nearby ARVN soldiers could not
help because the enemy was shooting at anyone who moved. The two
bullets that hit CAUBERREAUX in the chest protector as ROCCO carried him
toward the ARVN perimeter did no further damage. ROCCO had saved his
three comrades from certain death.
"At Quan Loi, the Air Ambulance
Platoon's base, Capt. Henry O. TUELL III, aircraft commander of MEDEVAC
1, yelled to his pilot, 1st Lt. Howard ELLIOT, that MODICA had been shot
down. ELLIOT was in the shower; he grabbed a towel and ran to get his
clothes, scattering soapy lather as he went. By the time he had thrown
his clothes on, TUELL had already cranked the aircraft; off they flew,
ELLIOT lacing boots and fastening zippers. Although several other
aircraft were in the area, MEDEVAC 1 was the first evacuation ship on the
scene. MEDEVAC 2 was still burning, throwing off blankets of black
smoke, MEDEVAC 1 made its approach straight in and the enemy tried for
another score. On each side of MEDEVAC 1 two Cobras fired flechettes,
machine guns, grenades, and rockets; but enemy rounds still hit the ship.
One came through the left door and hit the armored seat just below
TUELL's hand. Shrapnel and shattered porcelain from the seat peppered his
hand and wrist. ELLIOT took the controls and nursed the ship back to Quan
Loi where a doctor cleaned, stitched, and dressed TUELL's injuries.
"Two hours later, after several air and artillery strikes around the
perimeter, the pilot of MEDEVAC 12, Lt. John READ, had his gunship escort
lay down a heavy rocket preparation as he tried a high-speed, low-level
approach to MEDEVAC 2. The North Vietnamese, still safely bunkered behind
1 1/2 feet of concrete, blasted MEDEVAC 12 out of the area before it
could land. Bullets punctured the fuel cells and disabled the engine.
With his tachometer falling, Lt. READ managed to land his ship safely in
a nearby clearing, where the crew was immediately picked up.
at the crash site MODICA remained conscious despite loss of much blood,
and talked to the aircraft orbiting helplessly overhead. The American
adviser with the ARVN forces, S. Sgt. Louis CLASON, told him that the
ARVN soldiers had not been resupplied in two days and were running out
of everything, including water. MODICA told him, 'Hey, listen. We have
one case of beer in the tail boom of the aircraft. You run out there-at
least that's something to drink.'
"Clason told him, 'Lieutenant,
you don't even know what your aircraft looks like. It is burned
completely to the ground.'
"About 1800, Modica radioed the nearby
aircraft that the ARVN defenders might not be able to hold on through the
night. After an hour of continuous friendly shelling around the allied
perimeter, MEDEVAC 21, piloted by CWO Raymond ZEPP and covered by
gunships, made the third attempt to reach the downed aircraft. The Cobra
fired a 360 degree pattern with rockets and mini-guns, but enemy fire
still riddled the MEDEVAC, knocking out its radios and starting an
electrical fire. Like MEDEVAC 12, MEDEVAC 21 landed in a field 500
meters to the west; its crew was quickly pulled out. Nightfall prevented
any further rescue attempts.
"During the long hours of darkness, the
enemy launched three assaults on the small perimeter. Flares overhead
illuminated the area and allowed the Americans to call in artillery and
gunships to break up the ground attacks. By nightfall ROCCO's injuries
had immobilized him. After pulling his crew from the burning ship, he had
treated their injuries and the ARVN casualties he could get to. Soon his
injured hip and hand stiffened, making any effort to move excruciatingly
painful. Finally he passed out. MODICA's leg swelled to twice its
normal size and the pain immobilized him too. CAUBERREAUX moved about and
lit cigarettes for the men, but with his crushed right side he could do
little else. Since they had no morphine or other painkiller, they had to
"At Quan Loi, planning for an all-out rescue attempt
continued well into the night. The plan called for two MEDEVACs to go in
and evacuate MODICA's crew and any South Vietnamese possible. A third
would hover nearby to extricate the crews if trouble developed and to
evacuate any remaining ARVN casualties. Since all their MEDEVACs were
shot up, destroyed, or committed elsewhere, the 1st Cavalry had to
borrow three non-divisional DUSTOFF helicopters. At 0930 next morning ARVN
and American howitzer batteries started laying a barrage of smoke rounds
in the area to create a screen for the upcoming rescue. Just before the
operation began, four Cobras fired more smoke rounds. At 1145 the flight
of three MEDEVACs with three cobras on each side started into the
area. The first ship in loaded MODICA and his crew and flew out. The
second extracted several ARVN wounded and also safely left the area. An
enemy rocket hit the third ship as it took off with two remaining ARVN
casualties, but the crew brought the ship down without further injuries
and was quickly rescued. The next day nine pilots and crewmen involved
in this rescue received Silver Stars. Sergeant ROCCO won a Medal of Honor
for his part in saving MODICA and most of his crew."
network news coverage of the evacuation of medical emergencies from
Antarctica posed the question, "Is the life of one person to be evacuated
from a hazardous location worth the lives of so many others to evacuate
For those that do risk their lives to evacuate individuals
like that in emergency situations then in their minds it must be in the
spirit of: SO THAT OTHERS MAY LIVE.
Always remembering our 1st Cav
troops on duty around the world; over and out.
Bodnar C 2\7 '69
SO THAT OTHERS MAY LIVE