Saber Article Index
“This We’ll Defend.” Everyone who was in the United
States Army knows this phrase. It’s staring at them on their Drill
Sergeant’s medallion when they first enter. In light of current events,
anyone who is trying to alter this country outside of the constitutional
process will find there are millions of Veterans who ave this phrase
ingrained in their conscience and will never let it happen.
I received a telephone call from 969
MEDEVAC door gunner Richard Hampsher who called to correct me on some things
in the last Saber. I first mentioned Richard back in 2017 Mar/Apr when he
called to say that he knew MEDEVAC door gunner Bill Pickle and that they had
both made SGT/E-5 at the same time.
off, Richard said that James Megehee was not an SSG, but an SP6. Richard
said that James was a door gunner and not a crew chief and
that he was used to training new door gunners like he was doing with Dave
Parks. Richard said James was not sitting next to Dave in the gunner’s hell
hole, but in the middle of the aircraft and was thrown out with the Medic,
SP5 Gary Lee Bowdler, whom Richard said was also new. James may have been
training the Medic as well. Richard said that James was older. He was due to
go to flight school back in the states.
Richard said that the crew chief called “Lurch” was the
first name, Jim, from North Carolina, and his last name began with an “M.” I
found a James Minish on a 15th MED Roster. Email to his address returned NG.
I looked online and found a valid obituary for James. James “Jimmy” Lee
Minish, 70, of Greensboro died Tuesday, October 31, 2017.
Richard said that he ran into Jim at the “Wall” in D.C.
and that Jim was as surprised as him to meet coincidentally. Jim wanted to
get a MEDEVAC patch. There is a recent photo of Jim on that obit Web site,
which is on a slideshow with other photos, and I couldn’t download it. The
hat he is wearing says, “15th MED/EVAC 1st CAV CREW CHIEF\DOOR GUNNER.”
I asked Richard about an individual who suddenly showed
up when I was on the ground at the Huey being trained when I first joined
MEDEVAC. To my memory, he was rather short, had whitish hair, and on his
Nomex, he had a CIB pinned, so I knew he was a grunt. He also had the
demeanor of an infantryman and seemed to be concerned that I get it right.
He may have known that I was a Medic just from 2-7 Cav.
It was strange the way he acted. I didn’t know what to
think of him as I was being trained for MEDEVAC and no one introduced him,
he suddenly was there for no reason, acting strange. I emailed Dave Parks
years ago about him, but Dave never replied.
I asked Richard if it was Dick Gamester whom I never
met but worked the radios in OPs. Richard said that Dick was short like that
and had a CIB, so we determined it was him. I never saw him again.
Richard said that Dick was close to the pilots. He was
probably a grunt looking out for his own by working the radios in OPs, where
I never went to because they were so busy and instilled in the pilots the
urgency of the grunts being picked up; that it wasn’t just some unimportant
job. I’m sure they probably knew that just by being in MEDEVAC, but an
infantryman there with a CIB pinned on would impress that.
Richard said that he had numerous Air Medals because
Dick took care of that for the door gunners. Richard said something about
receiving an Air Medal for every twenty-five missions.
I mentioned I had never received any Air Medal in
MEDEVAC. Although, a couple of them in 2-7 Cav for Charlie Alphas, i.e.,
Aerial Combat Assaults. Even though I had flown quite a lot on MEDEVAC
January to May before Cambodia, and then every day in May and June 1970 when
we were all assigned to an aircraft. Everyone in MEDEVAC was assigned and
flying during the Cambodian Incursion, not just one crew for each 15th MED
company covering each brigade; backups; standbys; and admin flights.
Someone must not have been doing their job, keeping
track, or I’m mistaken about the requirements for the Air Medal. I looked it
up online, and it says, “Per 25 operational flights during which exposure to
enemy fire is expected or per 100 operational flights during which exposure
to enemy fire is not expected.”
I wasn’t there for medals, but it would have been
helpful to show what was accomplished. I was flying on MEDEVAC to keep
grunts alive. I think I, as well as the others in MEDEVAC, can say that
happened, even if I can hardly remember most of it.
MEDEVAC pilot and 15th MED Assn webmaster Ron Huether
always writes: “I’d give back all the medals to have saved just one more
life.” That’s a good reminder.
Richard said that he doesn’t use a computer but would
get together with his daughter, who does and send some photos. That hasn’t
happened yet. It has to be a lot to ask for someone’s time to do all of
Richard says he was fortunate and was never shot down.
He mentioned an incident when he and probably the crew chief had to go down
on the hoist to get to a downed helicopter. I didn’t get the details from
him. I thought he could more accurately write about that to me.
a book on my Kindle Reader from Amazon, which is a remaster of Matthew
Brennan’s memoir, all of which I had read many years ago in the original
form. The remastering is called Flashing Sabers: Three Years in Vietnam.
Matthew mentions being in III Corps on his third tour
and a couple of incidents involving MEDEVAC. But it was he and the Blues
that went down to the downed crews and used MEDEVAC because of their hoist,
to extract, if survivors were found.
1st Cav Assn and 15th MED Assn Historian Terry McCarl
and D 1-5 Cav platoon leader, Joel Chase posted photos on the 15th MED Assn
website of those on FSB David in June 1970 I had written about, included
Always remembering our 1st Cav Troops on duty around
the world, over and out.
FIRST TEAM! Garryowen
Mike Bodnar 2\7 '69
SO THAT OTHERS MAY LIVE