Saber Article Index

2005 Mar-Apr

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

Cary SACCENTE CARYTS@ATT.NET of West New York, NJ, wants to know, "Anybody from 15th MED Bien Hoa '70-'71??" Let him know.

'70 MEDEVAC crew chief Damien VIERRA responded to my request of who may have been on the MEDEVAC that went down on 05 Jan '70, picking up for D 2-5 Cav. Damien suggest that door gunner Dave PARKS may have been on that flight. Ironically, and very eerily, I just happened to e-mail Dave and he responded with an affirmative, on 05 Jan 05, which was thirty-five years to the day of that incident.

In his own words, Dave remembers: "North out of Tay Ninh, way past Grant or Ike. Picked out their smoke. Went in the first time. Kicked out the rigid litters and went back up. Also about 10 other gunships doing a daisy chain trying to cover things. Went back and just got to a hover, the cable part way out. Had the pilot move the tail to the right, as we were getting way too much fire from that side. Cable about 50' down and then we beat it down. RPG up and behind the crew chief. Was surprised we didn't land on more guys than the two we hit. One fellow was right under the ship, the other had a skid across his chest. Helped the grunts use a tree limb to lift the ship up so they could pull him out. By that time both had expired! Pulled the pin on my gun and set up next some grunts. They just laughed. Seems they didn't think my gun would work on the ground. WAS kind of hard to shoot it off the bipods but it sure did work. Guess I set up the gun first, then helped with the two under the ship. Then went over and turned off the ignition to the turbine. Motor was still running. Wasn't too long before another of our ships showed up. Told Mr. LEONARD that they should get out of there, was too hot. Was Mr. ALBRIGHT, AC, and SPARKMAN was gunner. Not sure who else was on the ship. They also took way too much fire and crash landed in a clearing a short distance away. Another of our birds picked them up pretty quickly. Dropped them off at C Company. Another bird tried to hover, but Mr. LEONARD said no, still too hot. Was bullets flying all over the place. Sure you know how that is? Was dark by the time things calmed down any. The grunts sent out some guys to find a clearing a short distance away, so we could stroll over there and get a ride. Got off the trail right away cuz of the dark. Had two guys in rigid litters so we could carry them. Ended up having to drag them most of the way. Couldn't stand up, was easier to crawl. Actually, we got lost. So Mr. LEONARD shot one of them little pocket flares into the air, and one of our birds told us which way to go. We all thought them little flare guns were dumb but they did the job that night. Was not my idea of a good walk in the country side!! Not sure just how many of our birds were involved but there were at least three!

By the way, Mr. LEONARD was AC, can't remember the peter pilot's name, know he was a Capt. Medic was Bill KELLER, Crew chief was Rodney WILEY. Rod was out of maintenance. Pissed someone off there and they made him go fly for his last two weeks in country. Rod was blown out of the ship, the pp was trapped inside the ship. Mr. LEONARD was hit between the helmet and the back of the seat with a bunch of frag, all in the back of his neck. Lucky it didn't mess him up more. Then me and Keller just hurt from the crash, bouncing around inside, ya know. If you want more let me know running out of paper on this one. Later, Mike. 'they are never forgotten, but sorely missed' Dave SHOOTDOWN@YAHOO.COM ."

We have to thank Dave for that reminisce and his courage, throughout. That cannot be easy to have to remember after all these years and under those conditions. If anyone else has more to add to this story please send e-mail or snail mail to me.

'69 MEDEVAC PSG Gordon RUSSELL GRDNRUSSELL@AOL.COM wrote: "Hi. Mike, If you watched the inaugural today, you did see our own Bill PICKLE escorting the president. He was on the left as they came forward, his name was mention on the PA system. Bill, as you know, was a door gunner, MEDEVAC '69." To reiterate, Bill PICKLE is presently the U.S. Senate's Sergeant at Arms. He was also an 11B in 2-8 Cav. HTTP: sergeant_at_arms.htm office reference

"Hi Mike: I was curious if I could share my time with the Cav with you. I was with HHQ Co. at Camp Howze in '60-'61, under Lt. Col. Spencer REID. Although I worked with Medical Records as my primary job, I also worked with the Div. Preventive Medicine Officer. We rode with the MPs ViDokey Posse, boy could I tell you some wild stories.

"I wish that I could make the reunion this year, but I am on O2 24/7 and it is difficult to get around, but I would enjoy hearing from anyone. Please ask the guys and gals to keep in touch. Joe GUDICE, SSG, 65 Round Hill Road, Washingtonville, NY 10992 (845)496-0226 JJG@HVC.RR.COM ."

On Thursday, 02/10/2005 2:44:16 PM, one of our best, MEDEVAC 1 (Okie) '69-'70, Hank TUELL INSREDLODGE@EARTHLINK.NET signed the 15th MED Assn. Guestbook, from Red Lodge, MT. When I had joined MEDEVAC in Jan. '70, my very first mission was a standby call out of Phouc Vinh with two "Okies" as pilots, a Chief Warrant Officer, "Big Okie," and Lt. TUELL, who simultaneously had to be "Little Okie." From the '70 Roster, that may have been CW2 Phillip GIBBONS, who DEROSed 02-'70, just after I had joined.

I subsequently flew on successful hot missions with Lt. TUELL in '70, who's nerves of steel were accompanied by a shotgun and his ubiquitous wad of chewing tobacco. "Okie" had to always carry a #10 can with him on board because expectorating out of the window was not possible. If he has now relocated to Montana then perhaps we should call him, "Monty." Nevertheless; it's great that he signed in.

Gordon RUSSELL, and then Murray GIBBS, notified me of news that after sixty years of debate, Army officials have finally decided to create a badge for non-infantry soldiers that recognizes their direct participation in ground combat. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter SCHOOMAKER presented the new Close Combat Badge, or CCB, to a cadre of senior officers recently, during a regularly scheduled meeting of four-star Army generals, according to Lt. Col. Bryan HILFERTY, an Army personnel spokesman.

The new badge will be the equivalent of the Army's Combat Infantryman Badge, which was created in 1943. The CIB, in the form of a rifle surrounded by a wreath, is reserved for infantry and Special Forces soldiers only.

The Close Combat Badge will be awarded to soldiers with military occupational specialties in armor, the cavalry, combat engineering, and field artillery. Officers must have a branch or specialty recognized in Army regulations as having a high probability to routinely engage in direct combat.

The CCB will be presented only to soldiers who are engaged in active ground combat, moving to contact and destroy the enemy with direct fire. All soldiers are allowed to wear their unit patch on their right shoulder as a combat patch after spending 30 days in an authorized combat theater. While prestigious, however, the wearing of this unit patch as a combat designator does not necessarily indicate that the wearer was involved in direct ground fighting.

The purpose of the Combat Infantryman Badge and the Combat Medical Badge, which has been reserved for Medics serving with the infantry, is to indicate that the wearer has come under direct enemy fire. These were the only two Army symbols for that, and as a morale incentive since WWII. "The creation of the new Close Combat Badge closes a debate that soldiers have been talking about since the 1940s, when the CIB was established," HILFERTY said in a Monday telephone interview to news sources.

"Soldiers and their leaders have argued over the years that the infantry and Special Forces are not the only two branches of the Army that get into firefights. The Army has periodically reviewed the criteria for the Combat Infantryman Badge, but it wasn't until the conventional wars in Iraq and Afghanistan turned into insurgencies that the non-infantry soldiers' point of view gained increased momentum. So, at the request of commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan, last year SCHOOMAKER approved the creation of a task force to look at creating a new combat badge to widen the pool of soldiers recognized for their actions under fire," HILFERTY said.

More details about the new Close Combat Badge, including its design and the procedure for soldiers to request the award, will be unveiled after this initial press release. A March administrative message will follow that formally outlines the exact rules and regulations, officials said. The new badge should be available this fall through unit supply and also for purchase in military clothing sales stores. Effective date: Sept. 11, 2001 (retroactive) Note: As of Feb. 14, this criterion was pre-decisional, meaning that it has not yet been fully approved by Army or Defense Department officials.

As I have mentioned in previous columns, the recent rewording of the Army Regulation awards the Combat Medical Badge to some combat Medics not just serving in the infantry under fire. The creation of the Close Combat Badge for other soldiers under fire justifies any break with original intention, and recognizes all. Our next badge of recognition should be the Combat Aeromedical Badge, CAB, or some version thereof; stay tuned.

'70-'71 MEDEVAC PSG James MCDONALD (CSM ret.) sent out a photo of the plaque for the MEDEVAC helicopter at the 1st Cav Museum, quizzing, "What is wrong on this sign?" Many found errors in the information; bad grammar; bad spelling; etc. Murray GIBBS was assigned the task by the director to improve that plaque. The last revision I saw had not been finalized, but getting there, with feedback from pertinent veterans. Murray sent out revised versions which you can also get updated from him: GUNNERMADMUR@AOL.COM .

Reasonable facsimiles of the M-23 Armament Subsystem with M- 60 machine guns, including the Huey helicopter machine gun mount, are also sought. You can also contact Henry LAND CAPTHOOK1STCAV@NETSCAPE.NET about that if you are creative., and want to contribute. Real ones will get stolen.

In response to a posting by Dennis O'DONNELL "Radar-15th_Med" DEVINODONNELL@MSN.COM , Michael AHERN (WO '67) "MikeAhern1" AHERN001@COX.NET wrote, "Hey Dennis, this is Mike AHERN. Saw your note referencing a lack of 'old' guys ('67). I was one of those, and know that there are a few still around. Bumped into a few. Roger BROYER, Bud GREEN, JORGENSEN, BATERSNIDER. Is interesting to see what the old group is up to these days. Was wondering if anybody had any knowledge of the whereabouts of one Ken ARCHENBAULT (WO-1 pilot '67). Would love to visit with you all. Hope I can make it down to the reunion in Texas this summer." "medevac68_69" MEDEVAC_25@YAHOO.COM sent over: "There is another list at: <WWW.VIETNAMDUSTOFF.ORG>, complete KIA for all DUST OFF and MEDEVAC units both by name and date." Where which, I found a thorough roster for 15th MED but I did notice some names missing. I did not see gunner TURNER and a Medic, ARMSTRONG, whom I knew of both in '70. When I inquired, Database Operator James MCDONALD CSMRET@TDN.COM  supplied on Master Find Roster: SP/5 ARMSTRONG, Joseph E. HSC, 15th MED 1970 MEDIC, and TURNER, Rodger, 15th MED 1970.

Vic ADAMS VICTORJADAMS@YAHOO.COM replied, "If this is the same TURNER you are talking about, I was friends with him while in Vietnam. I was a Medic with 15th MED at An Loc or Song Be in '69. This must be the same guy that we are talking about. Yes, he was with the Big Red One, I still remember seeing him with the 1st Infantry Patch on his shoulder. He lived with me in the same hooch that I was in. Between missions he was always cleaning his M-60. We visited many hours between his missions and my shifts. If this is the same guy, here is one piece of information that will prove to be the test:

"I think it was his uncle back in the states made a deal with him. That he (TURNER) was to stay in the Army for a 20 year hitch, then he would get 40,000 dollars. I think that was the amount that his uncle and he agreed to. I can remember that he was dreaming when he got out that he would buy a little farm and have a horse and such in his dreamland farm."

I had seen gunner TURNER on a MEDEVAC pickup for C 2-7 Cav in '69 when we had to extract one of our wounded out of War Zone C. I later spoke to him in the MEDEVAC hooch in '70 at Phouc Vinh and he mentioned to me having been in the Ho Bo Woods on a previous tour. That was a nasty haunt of the Big Red One before the 1st Cav moved down to III Corps in '68 to screen to the border regions for '69 Tet, rendering the enemy infested areas closer to the cities less important. It was very stressful for 11B and MEDVAC gunner TURNER to speak about that to me, saying, "It was bad," about which all accounts I have read, confirm. Gunner Mike SMITH "tater1" MVANDCO@MSN.COM posted, "Roger TURNER was one of the first to train me. He is the nephew of General TURNER. He works on Wall Street in stocks. Was about to retire when I talked to him a few years ago. General TURNER can get in touch with him. tater"

Dave PARKS adds: "tater is right. Remember TURNER. The medic is new to me, unless he was the medic that got a field commission and went on to bigger and better things." Dave also asks "Anyone remember a medic, Timothy BECKER?"

'70 MEDEVAC PSG L. Don BARTON "Don Bartpm" MUDMEDIC70@HOTMAIL.COM says, "Mike, I was thinking about the MEDEVAC in Jan. '70..The one Cpt. Michael HAGERTY and Col. LOWE wanted to go see and pull the radio's..I told Col. LOWE he was not going to go without me to take care of him. Anyways, Mike set down and LOWE and I went to the site... there were some Rvn & SF in the area, that had some security but not much...LOWE wanted to get he was walking up to the craft...I pulled him back...don't go there it may have a booby-trap...we moved up for a look with SF guys and yes, there were 2, attached by trip-wire. We both dropped a load in our shorts...Col LOWE told me that if there was ever anything he could do for me in the future...just give him a call...and he was true to his word. He was at DA in '73...& I needed to get off recruiting duty and they were sending me to Fort Polk, LA. I did not want to go there at all. I called Col LOWE from my station in Sheboygan, WI. I said 'Help me if you can.' All he asked was where do I want to go. I said Denver Fitzsimmons. Go there, your orders will there when you arrive...I packed my family and made the trip on his word only. When I reported in, the Personnel Sgt., ' You made this trip without orders, are you nuts?' I had him call DA & they told him the re-assignment had been approved by a higher up, and orders would be in within a few day's..Col Lowe was a very good man to know..I don't know where he is now, lost track of him over the years...but, if you know, e-mail me back a note. The old DOC, Don, PS remember I was 32 years old when I was trying to keep up with you kids. LTC LOWE was the XO of 15th MED!"

Mark "Duck" DRAKE <WWIFUP@YAHOO.COM>writes, "I met a vet who is a member of the Elks in Colorado. He gave me a pair of deerskin gloves to use when in my wheelchair, which I was in at the time. They have a service project which is to give gloves to veterans that use adaptive equipment such as wheel chairs, hand cycles, and exercise equipment, but they are mainly designed for wheelchair use. I will be working out the details with the Elks and will post more information on 15th MED as I get logistics worked out. I will also post information on our web site HTTP:// as it is available. Take a look at the Web site. I actually have a buddy that is doing all the work on the site, his name is Denny and also a Viet vet. Duck"

PBS's FRONTLINE just aired a ninety minute program about the 1st Cav in Iraq called: "A Company Of Soldiers." Their reporters were embedded with the 8th Cav and showed what daily life and work was like while with them. It can be seen in it's entirety online at: <HTTP: company shows frontline pages wgbh . DVDs and VHS tapes can be purchased through them and you can also download the transcript for free.

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.