Saber Article Index
307B N Main
Copperas Cove, TX 76522
I received an e-mail from Glenn Beckett
lightﬂyer@live.com in response to my last column, who was an RTO
in Cheyenne Platoon B 2-8 Cav. Glen wanted to confirm about the
incident on 05 Sep 69 when 1LT John Kuulei Kauhaihao was MEDEVACed. Glenn
thought I was skeptical about that, but I just wanted more information. He
told me about a book to refer to by Phil Marshall “Helicopter Rescues
I did research the book by Phil Marshall on
my Amazon Kindle and downloaded free samples of all of his books, for
starters. He has written over eight books. I did buy the one containing
the information I was looking for. On Kindle I get an extreme discount so
getting them all if I want to would not be expensive. I asked MEDEVAC 2
Ron Huether if he knew Phil Marshall. Ron said that he was a speaker at
one of the 15th MED Assn Reunions. Ron said he, himself, was written
about in one of the books.
Phil Marshall was a DUSTOFF pilot so has the
inclination to write about these U.S. Army Aeromedical Evacuation
missions, and has the credibility to get interviews with the
participants. Immediately I noticed that Phil Marshall’s method of
writing improved on those writers I had mentioned in the last column who
did many interviews, but interpreted them in their own way. This author
Marshall, prints the words of the interviewees and shows them in comparison,
because each person interviewed has their own view and recollection. Thus,
the reader can draw their own conclusions.
This incident with B 2-8
Cav on 05 Sep 69 when a MEDEVAC was shot down starts with the details by
the aircraft commander, MEDEVAC 19 Dan Toothman. When I had seen during
writing the last column that a MEDEVAC crew chief, SP5 Louis De Bari, was
KIA 05 Sep 69, I suspected it was the mission for B 2-8 Cav. In the book
it says the copilot of MEDEVAC 2-2 was also interviewed. I have to quote
the book because to me it is confusing. Any other reader may not be
confused, which I’ll explain. The book reads, “WO Ray Zepp and myself, Jon
S. Richards, Peter Pilot, were the assigned MEDEVAC ship at Tay Ninh on that
day., MEDEVAC 2-2; normally we would have ﬂown that mission. However, we
were called to FSB Ike early that day to pick up some urgent patients due to
the base being mortared. As we started our spiral descent about half a
click north of the base some lucky gook on the ground opened up on us
with machine gun fre. We were hit by two rounds, one killed crewchief Di
Bari, and the other seriously wounded the medic in the leg. We couldn’t
tell how serious the ship was hit so we aborted the mission and ﬂew
directly back to the 45th Surgical hospital in Tay Ninh. We called in to
our Headquarters in Phouc Vinh and the mission to Ike was completed by
our platoon leader. Another ship brought us a new crew and it was
determined our ship was still ﬂyable.” That is a direct quote from the
book with all misspellings and incorrect formats if there are any.
sounds like Jon Richards was speaking about WO Ray Zepp and himself, as
Peter Pilot. It’s confusing to me because it says the account was from the
copilot of MEDEVAC 2-2. The writer is quoted as saying he and WO Ray Zepp
were assigned as MEDEVAC 2-2. Mr. Zepp-whom I ﬂew with a lot in 1970-was
MEDEVAC 21. I have read a lot of 2-7 Cav Daily Staﬀ Journals, DA 1594, that
mention MEDEVAC 21 picked up for them around that time in 1969. 2-7 Cav
was on LZ\FSB Jamie in Tay Ninh Province at that time, ten clicks east of
Ike, where 2-8 Cav was. There never is any mention of a MEDEVAC 22 in the
2-7 Cav Daily Journals. Only mentioned are MEDEVAC 21; and MEDEVAC 4
picking up for CIDGs further out in the AO. Jon Richards was MEDEVAC 22
‘69-’70. As quoted, that Tay Ninh crew would normally have been assigned
the B 2-8 pickup but were called to FSB Ike earlier when it had urgents
because of a ground attack. As stated, their MEDEVAC got shot at while
descending, killing the crew chief Di Bari, and wounding the Medic. They
had to abort and ﬂew back to the 45th Surg in Tay Ninh. I had never heard
of the 45th Surg there, and thought we always ﬂew wounded back to A 15th
MED in Tay Ninh.
Probably the standby crew from Phouc Vinh with AC
Toothman did the mission later for B 2-8 Cav. Dan Toothman mentions that the
door gunner, Leo Williams-said to be on his very first mission-and his
assigned Medic had never been under fire on MEDEVAC before, so I’m
assuming that was the standby crew with two newer members. The crew chief
was Jack Dalman and copilot was Ken Colby.
MEDEVAC 19 went in. Dan
Toothman says that the ground unit-B 2-8-was in a defoliated area with
one hundred seventy-five foot dead trees but a lot of thick understory,
which is why he thinks the NVA could get so close to them undetected. He
says that they as S.O.P. picked out a backup landing site on the way, in
the event they had to go down-and they did.
After about a minute or so
they took fire. Dan Toothman said he thought he was hit and gave control
over to his copilot. One infantryman with a leg wound had already been
hoisted. They apparently did not break oﬀ - i.e. leave until it became more
secure-and started hoisting the more urgent lieutenant in a poleless
semirigid litter litter.
Glenn Beckett is then quoted in the book with his story. He says the MEDEVAC
caught fire above them after their loading up the lieutenant on the hoist,
and it had to take oﬀ without fully hoisting the poleless semirigid litter litter, which
brushed the trees as they were leaving. Glenn says that he thought the
lieutenant was already dead or very near death when they loaded
him-either in the poleless semirigid litter litter or hooked him up. He said it was a frantic
time for them-because of the contact. He says they later learned the
MEDEVAC crash landed but did not know anyone’s outcome except that the
lieutenant did not survive.
Crew Chief Jack Dahlamn says there was a
perception that the lieutenant in the poleless semirigid litter litter was dragged through
the trees. He said they did not leave until he was free from the trees.
Dan Toothman states that his policy was they would not sever the hoist
cable if the casualty was still on it. They would either fully hoist or
lower back down.
They tried to descend into a clearing but lost all
control due to the enemy damage and Jack Dahlman said the casualty ended
up in a tree. Dan Toothman wanted to go get him from the ground where
they were but he was told that a LOH had picked him up.
There is even input from a Cobra commander who was covering the
operation. He said there were a lot of NVA in the area. He disputes the
mention of an LOH and said
none were in the area. He said they couldn’t do that procedure even
if there was one there. He says he saw the poleless semirigid litter litter bounced along the
ground and was concerned it would entangle in the tail rotor.
from the downed MEDEVAC all exited the aircraft and walked over to a
possible helicopter landing site a distance away. A command and control
helicopter landed there and everyone boarded and went to FSB Ike. The LTC
on the C&C said he saw it all happen and directed the Quick Reactionary
Force to recover the lieutenant’s body from the crash site.
remembering our 1st Cav Troops on duty around the world; over and out.
Bodnar 2\7 '69 MEDEVAC 1-7\70
SO THAT OTHERS MAY LIVE