Saber Article Index

2008 May-Jun

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

Dan TOOTHMAN (Fang)  of Newport News, VA, signed the Guestbook: "Pilot 1\69-1\70. Best 'job' I had in 29 years flying for the Army. Would welcome contacts from anyone willing. Would like especially to find Jack DAHLMANN, CE '68-'69."

Ralph MC GREW RACS@RACS.NET  from Mt. Horeb, WI, also signed the Guestbook: "I was in the 15th MED in Korea in 1963, and with the 35th Eng. in Vietnam in 1966."

Terry GARLOCK sent over what he terms a long shot, trying to identify a MEDEVAC crew. "If anyone knows the MEDEVAC pilots or crew who flew near Lai Khe in III Corps in December 1969, please ask them to contact me .

"My Cobra helicopter was shot down in a firefight near Lai Khe Dec 17, 1969, and we went down hard. I had a broken back, legs paralyzed (until after surgery) and the broken bird had to be destroyed by rocket fire from the air to keep the weapons, ammo and radios out of enemy hands.

"I would like to know who was flying MEDEVAC to pick me up. It is not an entirely rational desire, and I have passed on similar messages myself from grunts who want to find the MEDEVAC crew who saved their ass, while I knew the chance of finding them was small.

"In my case, maybe a broken Cobra on the ground would stand out in memories among so many missions. Maybe someone even took a photo.

"Please pass it on, and to all MEDEVAC pilots and crews who see this message, you will never know how many guys think of you with gratitude for the rest of their life. Terry L. GARLOCK."

Jim CALIBRO, 15th MED Assn. past president 2006-'07 "Marchetti9" had written, "I just wanted to comment that I'm looking forward to the Reunion in Biloxi. (April 3rd to April 6th). The Reunions are always special to Holly and me, because we reunite with old friends, and make new ones. Everyone we've met, is special to us. I have a lot of friends, but it's hard to explain to them the bondage we share, unless they were there. We're all brothers, all of us, regardless of your job description. This Reunion will be extra special this year; I will be able to reunite with Randy BREWER, this year's Reunion host. It will be our 40th anniversary on Friday, April 4th, 2008, to the day, April 4th, 1968, that we were shot down flying a mission into the Ashau Valley. Randy and our pilot Larry FENSTERMACHER were both shot up that day. By the grace of God we were saved. I'll let Randy buy me a beer or two to celebrate on that day.

"I'm sorry that some of our brothers won't be able to make it this year, especially Corky and that funny guy Casey. He kept us laughing in Portland. You may not be there in body, but you're not forgotten. Normally I don't get sentimental, but I have had several health issues in the last two years like a lot of others, so I just wanted to say what was on my mind. Clear Right..."

After the Reunion, Jim wrote: "First of all I would like to comment that we had a great turnout for the Reunion in Biloxi, MS. Holly and I got caught up in the SNAFU with the airlines flying home. We went through five airplanes, in two days, but made it home safely. Two of those planes were grounded before we had a chance to back out of the gate. We had to get off and re-board another plane twice. Our luggage caught up with us four days later.

"Regardless of the SNAFU, we had a great time and everything was worth it. Our next Reunion will be held at Myrtle Beach, SC, in April 2009. If you haven't been to a Reunion yet, and live east of the Mississippi, this will be a good time for you to go. You'll never regret it.

"There was a member of the 15th MED Assn. at the Reunion who has made several trips back to Vietnam and is putting together another trip for a Vietnam tour in Feb. '09. I can't remember his name, but he was a former supply Sgt. in the 15th MED Bn. around the '66-'67 time period. If anyone has any info. regarding this trip or the member's name and address, please forward that info. to me or post it on the Website. We have several members interested in taking this trip. "Congratulations to the new officers of the 15th MED Assn. I'm sure after talking to Murray, he will be putting out a newsletter in the next week posting all the information. Jim CALIBRO, Secretary '08-'09." PEGGY LUSK  writes, "I would love to hear from anyone who knew my brother, SFC James Harrison BROOKS Jr., in Vietnam. He was a crew chief, killed April 25th, 1970. That is all we know. If anyone knew him; worked with him; I would like to hear from you.

"All these years, I have believed he is still alive. But, time has a toll on your mind.

"I miss him. I would like to know what he was like over there. Just general information. Thanks, his sister, Peggy."

Randy BREWER, MEDEVAC 458\578 SP/5 CE Vietnam '67-'68, compiled a message, especially for the 15th Medical Battalion\MEDEVAC brothers who attended the 11th Annual Reunion at Biloxi. He wanted to thank one and all for coming and sharing with him in "Katrinaland." He says he believes it was the most inspirational event in his life.

Randy said talking with Jim CALIBRO, who confided in Randy that the three times in their tour together that they thought was the "last," "He and I were together-although we did not 'hang' together that much. It was true, and very touching."

Randy says their Marine friend, Frank PLASS, regressed back to the night Tet '68 started, and that he and his friends who were left alive, eleven out of seventy, were lying there in the rice paddies, wounded and not daring to move, lest they be shot, having given up all hope of living. Above them in the night sky appeared three 1st Cav gunships, who immediately dispatched the enemy, and low and behold, an angel of mercy in the form of a 1st Cav MEDEVAC appeared and rescued Frank and his wounded companions.

From that time on, there was no "inner-service" rivalry between himself and the Army's 1st Cav. Because of MEDEVAC he says he is alive and well today. The motto of: "SO THAT OTHERS MAY LIVE" is just as strong and as much alive today as it was 40 years ago- Jan. 31, 1968.

Larry MOSS of Charleston, SC, makes contact and mentions he was "in country" Jun '68-Sep. '70. Larry served in 15th MED Bn. during Jan.-Sep. '70 as a MEDEVAC crew chief. He just wanted to say hello and would welcome any contact.

Larry wrote a journal about his experiences in Vietnam several years ago. Here is once excerpt..."As I said in my last post I am going to tell you about the bravest person I met both in Vietnam and in my life.

"When I first met Glenn SHUMWAY, I was serving in the MEDEVAC platoon, 15th Medical Battalion, 1st Air Cavalry Division. Our home base was in a little Vietnamese hamlet called Phouc Vinh. It was in the III Corps region of Vietnam. I had been 'in country' for over fifteen months and I was a flying crew chief on a MEDEVAC (acronym for medical evacuation) helicopter. A crew for a MEDEVAC chopper consisted of a pilot, a co-pilot, a crew chief, a Medic and a machine gunner. The battalion would forward deploy our units to three different fire support bases nearer where the troops were fighting and being wounded. That way the transportation time to the doctors at the field aid station was significantly reduced.

"Glenn was a Medic. He and I were about the same age, nineteen years old. He had been drafted and sent to Army Medic training before being assigned to duty in Vietnam. Glenn was a quiet and soft spoken young man. We became friends as we flew on the same chopper crew for some of the missions. The crew chief and gunner were assigned to the same chopper but the medic and pilots rotated between the choppers. This system gave the crew chief extra incentive to take care of the maintenance of his chopper.

"There was one thing unique about Glenn. Army medics were allowed to carry weapons to protect their patients and themselves if they came under enemy fire. The unique thing about Glenn was he was a conscientious objector. His religious beliefs would not allow him to kill another human being even if he was fired upon. So when he was drafted, he volunteered for Medic duty so he could serve, but would not have to carry a weapon. Now, all the other Medics in the platoon carried and fired weapons when they were in danger, but not Glenn. Being a MEDEVAC crew chief I had fired the machine gun mounted on the side of the chopper many times when I took enemy fire on the way into a hot landing zone to pick up the wounded.

"So while all the rest of us carried weapons and fired them when under fire, Glenn would not. His beliefs were so strong he would rather die than take another human life. He flew the missions like all the rest of the Medics, came under fire many times, but never once wavered in his beliefs.

"On one particular mission, the bravery of Glenn was graphically demonstrated. The MEDEVAC chopper that Glenn was the Medic on was called to the site where some wounded infantryman needed to be MEDEVACed. As the site was in the trees, the chopper could not land. The helicopter hovered about the wounded men, taking fire all the time. Then Glenn used a small hoist mounted in the helicopter to go down into the jungle to take care of the wounded. To evacuate the wounded, Glenn had to give them first aid and then get them into a semi-rigid litter so they could be hoisted out of the jungle. They would then be MEDEVACed to an aid station. All the while the helicopter was hovering, the Viet Cong soldiers were firing at the chopper. After hoisting the wounded into the chopper, Glenn then rode the hoist back into the chopper. Fortunately the wounded made it back to the hospital and survived. All the time Glenn took fire, he never hesitated to help the wounded even though he didn't carry a weapon. "Glenn was awarded a Silver Star for bravery for the above action. And for all the times he took fire and risked his life to save wounded but would never fire back, I call him the bravest person I know."

When I questioned Larry he replied, "As best as I can remember I flew with Glenn out of Phouc Vinh, Quan Loi, and possibly Tay Ninh. I believe it was in the first part of '70 when Glenn got his Silver Star. I think there was a story in Stars and Stripes about it. I was not flying with Glenn that day.

"Not sure if you knew, but I also flew as a crew chief with the 1st Aviation Brigade out of Bien Hoa in '68-'69; 118th Assault Helicopter Company. I extended after one year to fly with B Troop 1-9th Cavalry in the last half of '69. I was shot down in a LOH in the fall of '69 and was MEDEVACed by 15th MED Bn. While healing from my wounds, I extended again for six months to transfer to MEDEVAC in January '70. I worked in the maintenance platoon while my broken arm healed. When I got the cast off I started flying again."

Larry says he believes he remembers meeting me in the 15th MED Bn. He says my name is familiar. I may have met Larry briefly, but I never flew with him, and I know we were both very busy. I was also in MEDEVAC concurrently with Glenn SHUMWAY, but I rarely, if ever, spoke to him, like other Medics in MEDEVAC or the infantry during my time. We were all just too busy, and remote.

I made a lot of commo with Larry MOSS over his initial contact. I will post more from Larry in subsequent columns.

Webmaster and past president 2003-2006 of the 15th MED Assn, Murray GIBBS, sends the elected and appointed 15th MED Association Officers for 2008-2009: President: John CRESPI; Vice President: Fred MC KELLER; Alt Replacement: John BELAIR. Secretary: James CALIBRO; Webmaster/dBase Operator: Murray GIBBS; Search Coordinator & Chaplin: Paul TROOP; Snail Mail Coordinator: Norm ROBERGE; Reunion Coordinator: Pete MULFORD; Historians: Paul TROOP & COL William DOWNEY.

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

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

Bottom border for page.