Saber Article Index

2012 Sep-Oct

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

Current 15th MED Association president Art Jacobs, writes: "My son, Scott, and I received a pleasant surprise recently in Peru, Indiana. We were attending the National American Huey Historical Museum event at the old Grissom Air Force Base (an hour north of Indianapolis) when we looked up and saw Dan and Betty Korty plus an 'entire platoon' of their children and grandchildren.

"You may already know this, but the American Huey Organization has rebuilt two Vietnam UH- 1s; tail numbers 369 and 803. Aircraft 803 (a D Model then) served with the 15th Medical Battalion from 1965-1967. Aircraft 369 served with the 498th Medical Battalion at Camp Lane (Qui Nhon). The aircraft are fully certified by the FAA and are in more beautiful condition now than any of the ships you might have remembered from Vietnam (there are as many qualified maintenance men in this all-volunteer outfit as there are pilots and crew chiefs, and the aircraft are lovingly cleaned and rubbed down every night).

"The weekend included some great presentations; one by the impassioned founder of the organization, John Walker (a former Marine helicopter pilot who fell in love with the Huey as not only the iconic symbol of the Vietnam War, but as the greatest helicopter ever built), and another by John Steer, an amputee survivor of Hill 875 (Hamburger Hill) who is now a minister.

"I signed up with these guys as a Life Member, and got to make three flights in the left seat at the controls with my son sitting in the back. Memories from 44 years ago came surging back as my hands and feet got in tune with the cyclic and collective. Man oh man; I was getting back on the bike! It is hard to describe the thrilled look in young Scott’s eyes as we walked back to the hangar together. What else could a father better dream of than to have his son gain a real sense of what we did way back when, and feel the awesomeness of that bird and its mission to save lives.

"There is so much I could tell you about the dedicated people who were drawn not just to this project (the Hueys and the future museum), but to this amazing man, John Walker, who is energy personified when it comes to preserving these fabulous machines. Please go to their Website and see some marvelous things about the aircraft that meant so much to us: <www.>.

"After numerous conversations and e-mails with the Executive Committee and many of you, I am putting in place a procedure to help ensure that we continue to strengthen the pool of future Association Officers. In keeping with the powers provided me in the current Constitution & By-Laws, I am appointing a 'Nomination Committee' that will work to seek out qualified candidates from among you to run for office. The Nomination Committee members are Jim Calibro, Mike Smith, Dave Huser, Norm Roberge, Murray Gibbs, and myself.

"It is true that we have always been able to nominate and elect the next Association Officer at each of our Annual Business Meetings, but it has always gnawed at me that the process seemed 'spur of the moment and informal' in the sense that sometimes the person being nominated: was surprised and had not necessarily thought about serving; didn’t want to disappoint anyone, so did not turn the nomination down; usually ran unopposed because no one else was nominated; never received any dissenting votes in the 'public' vote (voice or hand); never really addressed the membership espousing their goals and objectives.

"The social aspects of our Association are at the core of why we gather, and that will not change, but for those who are elected and serve, we can do much better than doing it in a 'small club' manner – we are bigger, financially stronger, and more important than conducting ourselves like just a few folks having a beer each year and telling war stories.

"There are four critical attributes or qualities our future Association Officers should possess: 1. Integrity – to hold the trust and faith of the membership; 2. Ability – to be capable of managing and organizing our affairs; 3. Motivation – to have the time and energy to perform the tasks of office; 4. Mission – to have uppermost in their mind the welfare of our members.

"I will be asking the Nomination Committee, members who in my mind have demonstrated the attributes and qualities above in the work and service to the Association over the years, to not just offer the names of those individuals they feel qualified, but to have the Executive Committee approach those individuals to determine their willingness to run for office.

"We would like to have at least two people running for office in Sacramento. Those names would be on a paper ballot. Each individual running for office will have three minutes to state their credentials, their goals and objectives for the Association, and why the membership should vote for them. Ballots will then be marked, collected, counted by the Sergeant-at-Arms and the Secretary, and the outcome announced.

"To maintain openness and fairness, anyone who would like to run for office can: have their name added to the paper ballot by contacting me at least thirty (30) days prior to the reunion; still be nominated from the floor at the Annual Business meeting in real time (they would be voted for as a write-in candidate); still have their three minutes to address the membership. If four or more candidates are running for office, the two receiving the most votes will participate in a run-off vote after having an additional two minutes to re-address the membership.

"Bottom line, I believe that the above procedures will mean that we will not just have better candidates, and better choices, but we will have a real sense of how our Association will evolve and improve over the coming years. By the way, the current title for office is 'Alternate-Replacement.' It is descriptively accurate, but not very elegant. I am proposing that the Association change that entry level Association Officer position to 'Junior Vice President.'

"Our current Junior Vice President is Leo Williams. I have already involved Leo in the activities and business of the Association. Leo will become Vice President in Sacramento under Corky Walsh, our current Vice President, when Corky becomes President. By then, Leo will have a full understanding of what we do. Since Leo will also be the Reunion Chairman for 2014 in Florida (where he will assume the Presidency).

"I tell you all these things to let you know that we will have smooth administration transitions, learn from each other, and not re-invent the wheel. Of course, as with any new way of doing things, there is always room for improvement.

"Please, if you have any suggestions or ideas that will enhance or improve how we find, select, and vote for our future officers, please contact me directly. I thank you in advance.

"And, one more thing; Jim Calibro continues to work hard on getting us ready for California. Make sure you set aside 17-21 April 2012 to make Sacramento are biggest and best Reunion yet. We will soon have the booking information available. See you there!"

'67-'68 MEDEVAC crew chief Randy Brewer e-mailed, "Mike: Pilot Dan Toothman states that PSG Gordon Russell was in B Co. 15th MED in '68 when the 1st Cav first deployed to Viet incorrect. According to my book 'The 1st Cav in Viet Nam,' an advanced party of over 1,000 men left Cam Ranh Bay on Aug. 13, 1965, and landed at An Khe.

"Everyone, including the Commanding General began to clear brush by hand so that it was as 'slick as a golf course (hence the name Golf Course) to keep sand and dust from being kicked up by the aircraft. Advanced combat elements arrived on Sept. 14, 1965.

"Secondly, John Brennan's second book named "Viet Nam Helicopter Art: U.S. Army Rotor Aircraft" is technically incorrect. They are "Rotary Wing Aircraft" or at least that's what they were called when I went through Rotary Wing Aircraft School at Ft. Rucker, AL, in July & August, 1967. Probably a little late to change the title-but that is the correct term for helicopters."   

The 1st Cav Assn. 15th MED roster has Gordon Russell as being in B Co. 15th MED. He may have told me the he was advanced party, but I cannot confirm that with him now. I informed Randy of this.

Randy did reply: "I e-mailed Gordon all the time, but never actually met him. I know he was with Gen. Patton when he relieved Bastonge, because he sent me photos of himself and Patton. I don't know about '65, but wasn't he a platoon sergeant in 15th MED in "69? [Yes, A.A.P. PSG] He never mentioned being in 15th MED in '65, but that certainly doesn't mean he wasn't.

"Just to be sure, I googled 'rotary wing aircraft' and was correct on that including the spelling. Maybe it's not too late to get the title correct on that 2nd book!"

12-'69-04-'70 MEDEVAC PSG Doc Barton <> Phoenix, AZ, responded to my mention of seeing WO Larry Hatch's photo of Cpt. Haggerty, and Larry's service with him in MEDEVAC. Don says, "Cpt. Mike Haggerty, Air Ambulance Platoon Leader, and Cpt. Woods, approved my assignment to MEDEVAC [From 2-5 Cav '69]. I had a few missions with Mike, some I can't talk about because, the statues of limitations have not expired.

"I returned to the USA in Apr. '70 and was assigned, Recruiting Duty, Green Bay, WI, Mike's home town. His father was City Fire Chief. I did spent a few days with them; they enjoyed all the war stories about MEDEVAC.  

"Mike and his wife (name?) came home to visit and we got together, had a few adult beverages, and told a bunch of lies (fibs).  His poor wife had to make a few beer runs and cook dinner; had a great time; family was so nice.

"We lost contact over the years. I called his father for an update on his location, that is when his mother informed me about his death. Mike was a diabetic. He was working in his garage, had a diabetic-seizure, and died before emergency medical arrived (If I remember it correctly).

"After all he went through in Vietnam-two tours-to die at such a young man; life is not an option. WE THE PEOPLE MISS HIM..."

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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