Saber Article Index

2006 Sep-Oct

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

James BELAIR , Berlin, NJ writes, "I was with 15th MED June '68-Jan '69, and again 1970. I was a door gunner '68-'69. I had a little monkey called, 'Jo Jo'; 1970, I had a little black bear."

'69-'70 MEDEVAC door gunner Dave PARKS sent over the following story from the Stars and Stripes: "When a MEDEVAC bird lifted out of Tay Ninh, none of her five man crew could know that it was the last time she would fly.

"Hours later, when the crew arrived back at the 15th Medical Battalion 114 Station in Tay Ninh, visibly shaken, cut, bruised, and on another bird, the story of how the MEDEVAC chopper died unfolded.

"The bird must have passed on whatever luck she had left, before going down, to Warrant Officer Richard LEONARD and his crew. The luck turned out to be quite a lot.

"Seldom does a 1st Air Cav MEDEVAC crew refuse to go into a contact area, even with the shooting still going on, to pick up the wounded. This was no exception. "Warrant Officer LEONARD radioed the soldiers on the ground as he made his final approach: 'We are coming into your location at this time, so give us everything you've got.' The enemy 'greeted' the MEDEVAC ship. "'Well,' said Specialist Five Bill KELLER, with 30 days left in country, 'those AKs talked to us all the way in, and then their big brother just flat out told us to leave the neighborhood.'

"As the MEDEVAC bird moved into the contact area, it started receiving small arms fire. Just after Mr. LEONARD pulled into hover, the thick jungle necessitated using the hoist. A BLUE MAX Cobra pilot flying aerial rocket artillery (ARA) radioed, 'MEDEVAC just got a direct hit with a B-4O!' The B-40 is a recoilless rifle rocket grenade [North Vietnamese version of RPG-2] and is what Specialist KELLER termed the 'big brother.'

"The round hit above and behind the MEDEVAC's crew chief, Specialist Five Rodney WILLEY, in the transmission housing. The steel gearbox not only kept most of the shrapnel away from the crew, but also prevented the fuel cells from rupturing and igniting. 'I saw the round coming toward me, but all I had time to do was duck my head, then I was thrown out of the ship,' recounted Specialist WILLEY.

"Specialist Four Dave PARKS, the ship's door gunner, who holds the Silver Star, said, 'I just did a lot of praying on the approach in. We couldn't use the gun because I didn't know exactly how far out our ground troops were.'

"Once the stricken bird slammed to the ground however, and the crew got out, Specialist PARKS was manning his machine gun on the hastily formed perimeter with the infantrymen. I'm a machine gunner, and just because my gun looks a bit different from a grunt's M-6O, doesn't mean it won't work on the ground.'

Specialist KELLER immediately checked out the crew and then went around to the wounded from the ground company, Company D, 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry, and treated them. 'Bill was really great,' said Specialist PARKS. 'He never stopped moving the whole time. He just went from one guy to another, and talked some of them hack to life. Another MEDEVAC, this one from Phuoc Vinh, tried to come into the same area, but it also received heavy enemy gunfire. Mr. LEONARD waived it away because we were too crowded down there already. The second MEDEVAC bird took hits on the way out, enough to force it to land in a nearby clearing. A third MEDEVAC carried out its crew.'

"By nightfall, a small army had gathered around the MEDEVAC pad at Tay Ninh, awaiting the outcome of the afternoon's events. A few hours later, in the pitch darkness of the jungle, stumbling out into a small clearing, was a MEDEVAC crew, some wounded infantrymen on stretchers, and an escort of 14 ground troops. This time, there were no complications with the MEDEVAC mission.

"Back in Tay Ninh, Specialist KELLER looked at Mr. LEONARD and said, 'You know something? It took about a week and a half to get through this one afternoon, but tonight it takes only a millionth of a second to relive a nightmare.'

"'Yes, we were lucky today,' sighed the commander of the bird whose tail number added up to 13."

Kevan MYNDERUP from Hanford, CA signed the 15th MED Guestbook: "Great site. Brings back memories. Thanks to the MEDEVAC crew back on Nov. 21, 1968 for braving the gunfire and getting all (8?) of us back to the aid station at Tay Ninh. I would not be alive today if it was not for that crew. Honor & Courage, C Company 'DEATH FROM ABOVE' 1st Bn. 8th Cav, 1968."

Fred DEAKINS posted for those guys at the Reunion in Reno that expressed an interest in the Psycovets T-shirts and hats, the Website is  "Tell Sid, the manager, you are a friend of mine. He might give you a discount, but I doubt it. LOL"

Craig ROHRERE North Judson, IN signs in, "Adjutant 1965-'66. I was with the first group sent to Vietnam."

SP5 Paul TROOP asks, "Does anyone remember the name of the MEDEVAC crew chief KIA out of Tay Ninh 1969? June through December. Need name for research."

Webmaster\Past President 15th MED Assn. 2003-2006 Murray GIBBS replied, "Hey Paul, On 9 June, '69, SP4 William Lee BROOKS & SP4 Michael Raymond WICK were KIA."

I think there were others. '69 PSG Gordon RUSSELL, for one, should remember.

Murray also mentions that the 15th Forward Support Bn. will be deploying in Oct. If you want a pen pal, or to show your support, you can contact Bn. Executive Officer Major Dale FARRANT for leads.

Murray says, "He e-mailed me a few weeks ago and wants to make contact with us. I recommended using the MSN Website of 15th MED Assn. Everything is set up for them to start applying to join. I made sure I captured every screen name we have, and put a [legal] name and e-mail to it. I also created the 'Contact' as a discussion board to us to make contact. Hopefully this will stimulate the discussion boards again and get some more members of both the 15th MED and 15th FSB to join."

Fellow C 2-7 Cav and MEDEVAC Medic-twice my replacement-Bill WALSH sent over a photo stating, "Mike, A pic of myself and Mikey G in Lansing IL, at counter demonstration, and security with the Patriot Guard Riders, for the Marine's funeral. A handful of that scum from Kansas showed up with their ignorant signs and chants." Bill rides a motorcycle with the American Knights M/C Illinois, and before retirement, the Chicago P.D.

Bill later explained, Mikey G is Mike GRAFFIS, a 1st Cav and Chicago P.D. colleague who retired at the same time. They ride Harleys together with a club called the American Knights. They have two chapters; their IL Chapter, and the mother Chicago chapter. The Website is: <AMERICANKNIGHTS.COM>, but I found: >.

Bill says that he and Mike also are members of the Patriot Guard Riders (PGR), formed in response to that Kansas church that goes around demonstrating against soldiers at their funerals and wakes with way out of line signs. It was at one of those funerals where the photo was taken. It was also the last one they ever came back to IL for. The following week Lt. Gov. Pat QUINN had a bill passed banning them from any wake or funeral of a veteran. The PGR also has a Website where you can see that Kansas group with them.

Bill also says that they will be riding as a club with all other IL clubs to the 9/11 ceremony in Springfield, IL next weekend..."It's impressive; all clubs throw down their animosity with each other for the weekend...Hells Angels, Outlaws, 1%ers, police clubs, fireman clubs; all band together for a most impressive weekend and ride on Sunday morning."

The photo is at the funeral of Marine Lance Corporal Phillip MARTINI of Lansing/South Holland, IL, killed in Iraq. Bill says, "Since PGR follows those church members from KS, and monitors their Website, we know where they go. They originally planned on going to Hines in Chicago too, but a little bird called the district police commander there and the boys in blue and several plain clothes units were waiting upon the arrival, and, shall we say...they decided it would not be a good thing to demonstrate there. As Dorothy said, 'Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore.'"

President 15th MED Assn., Jim CALIBRO is happy to say that the 2007 Reunion has been finalized. The location is Dayton, OH. The dates are May 3-6, 2007. Still are working on the Dinner Banquet. When finalized, the membership will know and arrangements will be made to send out the Registration Form. A copy of the Registration Form will be in the Document section of the MSN Website. Here is the major detail of the 2007 Reunion in May: Doubletree Hotel Dayton-Downtown, 11 South Ludlow Dayton, OH 45402 Local: 937-461-4700 Toll Free: 800-222-8733 Rates: $77.00 a night plus tax Code: 15th MED Bn. The link to view the hotel:  Check the Website to avoid long link typing.

Free shuttle service from hotel to airport 7am-11pm. Hospitality room to meet in, 2nd largest Air Force aviation museum nearby, home of the Wright Brothers, first flight.

Discount Car Rental from AVIS $10.00 discount, plus 10% discount if you belong to Triple AAA, Entertainment, or AARP. Free delivery to the Hotel because it is 2 blocks away. Contact is: Tim JOHNSON Phone: 937-222-6705. Make your reservation in advance of hotel check-in.

Our Reunion Coordinator will be working on discount airline tickets while still setting up the Dinner Banquet. If the discount airline tickets are possible it will be posted in an upcoming newsletter. If any of you have any questions or concerns feel free to call Reunion Coordinator Gary ANDREWS at: (937)829-9701.

Randy CAVANAUGH '68-'69 C 15th MED called the other night from San Diego, where he lives. We discussed things in general, like next year's 1st Cav Reunion in Riverside, CA, and service in Nam. Randy doesn't have or use a computer so all his news comes from the Saber. That is why I pass along the 15th MED Newsletter. There are probably other non-cyber vets in the membership.

Randy mentioned reading in a 1st Cav yearbook about a ground attack in Quan Loi, circa July '69, after he had left country. He said the enemy apparently went through the wrong place in the wire and found themselves battling only Medics of C 15th MED, whom he says, fought them off. Who knows where else they got in, etc. Believe half of what you hear/read, and all of what you see.

If anyone can confirm this story, let me know. I would prefer someone who saw it.

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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