Saber Article Index

Mar/Apr 2020

I got email from Earl “Buck” Fink finkpamd@aol.com who said he was with A 1-5 Cav and that they were the company whom Ronnie Mays stayed with them on FSB David after everyone else had left. Earl confirmed, like Ronnie had said, that one Trooper was KIA in his hammock when they received incoming RPG fire. Earl said that it was unfortunate, and that Trooper was “short.” I carried a captured NVA hammock in C 2-7 Cav but sleeping above ground to me was a no-no, for just that reason.

15th Med Bn VietnamEarl said he was a Penn State graduate, drafted into the Army in 1969, went through basic training, then Infantry AIT, and finally NCO School, so he said he went to Nam as a “Shake ‘n’ Bake.” He ended up going through Quan Loi to FSB David. Earl said that he was informed by the public media about the Cambodian Incursion on the way there, and then suddenly found himself right in the middle of it. He of course started at the bottom, and eventually worked his way up to running a squad, like most “Shake ‘n’ Bakes” did.

Earl said A 1-5 Cav was working a rice cache near FSB David when the attack occurred. Then, they walked in after, set up with whoever was there, like half of C 2-19 Artillery, and then they walked out of Cambodia. Earl spent the next months in Nam, however the 1st Cav was winding down, and even ended up with a rear job, the Army utilizing his college economics degree.

I got email from Ronnie Mays who said he finally contacted fellow artilleryman Larry Diesburg whom I wrote about and was badly wounded on FSB David. They talked for over two hours, and Ronnie signed up Larry in the 1st Cav Assn. They plan to meet at the upcoming Reunion in KY. Ronnie said it was thanks to the column in the Saber that they were reunited.

15th Med Bn VietnamI got a telephone call from Hanz Zinsman from Hawaii. Hanz said he was a 67N MOS which is UH-1 Helicopter Repairman, or Crew Chief and mentioned going out to FSB David-in response to reading my column. Hanz said he was in the 1st Brigade “Flying Circus” http://flying-circus.org . They were the 1st BDE scouts, C&C, and all things aviation needed. Hanz said something like his brother was a door gunner, so that’s what he wanted to be. Recruited as a crew chief certainly increased his chances of becoming a door gunner.

I forget why he said they went up to FSB David, but that’s where 1st Brigade had relocated from Tay Ninh, which I had mentioned J.B. Coleman wrote about in “Incursion.” Hanz said he went out to look at the dead NVA after the attack, like others wanted to do. He sent me photos which were proof. See the 1st Cav 1st Brigade Aviation Patch pictured left.

15th Med Bn VietnamHanz said he is Hawaiian. I thought his name didn’t indicate that, but he said his grandfather was German, and the rest is history. Hanz said after the Army something about Westpac Helicopters, which I wrote down, probably continuing his career. You must check with him for the details, and I don’t think he’d mind if you call him at (808) 277-8766 if you wanted to contact him.

I also got a telephone call from Tom Hoover of Marine City, MI (586) 549-6745. Tom said he was in B 1-7 Cav ‘68-’69, A Shau to Tay Ninh. Tom was looking for a medic of his. The only help I would be with that is to mention him in the column if any medic reading might recognize him and his stats.

Tom sent me a DVD of his Nam home movies. It is an interesting reminder of that experience.

FROM THE 15TH MEDICAL BATTALION ASSOCIATION: The 15th MED Bn Assn has acquired essentially all the 15th MED Bn records on file with the National Archives and the National Personnel Records Center. However, many records were lost, destroyed, misfiled or are otherwise unavailable, and many are illegible. We’re seeking historical information from our members.

You can help by scanning any historical documents from Vietnam and sending them to Terry A. McCarl, Historian, 15th Medical Battalion Association historian@15thmedbnassociation.org . If you are looking for historical information, please send an e-mail to historian@15thmedbnassociation.org . Thanks!

15th Med Bn VietnamSP4 Jimmy Odum: 22 June 1970 MEDEVAC mission awarded the DFC. Mike Bodnar 13010 N. Lakeforest Dr. Sun City, AZ 85351-3250 (623) 972-4395 MBodnar27@Gmail.Com www.15thMedBnAssociation.org Jimmy is looking for the medic and door gunner on that mission. If you were on that mission, or know who was, please contact the historian.

CW2 Gil Gatto: 3 December 1968 MEDEVAC mission. CW2 Gil Gatto would like to get in contact with anyone who knows anything about an incident near Quan Loi on 03 December 1968, particularly those who were on his crew. He was the AC, 1LT Charlie Williams was the Copilot, and SP4 Gary Dubach was the Crew Chief. He does not remember the identities of the Medic and Gunner and would like to know.

That operation has been designated as “Combat Assault on LZ Eleanor, 21 km E-SE of Loc Ninh Airfield, Phuoc Long Province, 03 December 1968” on http://coffeltdatabase.org . KIA in this incident were twenty members of D 2-7 Cav; two members of HHC 2-7 Cav; and one member of A Battery, 1/21 Artillery.

Gil recalls that he flew over four straight hours picking up approximately forty wounded and taking them to the C Co, 15th MED at Quan Loi. His aircraft was the only one hauling wounded during that period, but he believes that other MEDEVACs were involved after that time. He would like to know the identity of those other crews.

A Medal of Honor was awarded posthumously to SGT John N. Holcomb, D Co, 2-7 Cav for valorous actions in connection with this incident. His citation describes the incident in detail. Research SGT John N. Holcomb MOH Citation.

According to Gil, USO comedian and singer Martha Raye was traveling somewhere (don’t know where) to do a show, got word of the mass casualty situation at Quan Loi and diverted her helicopter to Quan Loi to provide her assistance as a nurse. She was known to frequently do that type of thing throughout WWII, Korean and Vietnam Wars.

Gil recalls that when he landed with the first load of wounded, she was there to help. She pitched in, helping with the wounded and afterward, drank a few beers with the Troops and stayed the night in the “luxurious VIP Guest Accommodations” at C Co, 15th MED.

Charlie Williams passed away on 9 November 2013. Gary Dubach was KIA February 14, 1969.

Point of interest: The aircraft flown by Gil Gatto and Charlie Williams on 3 December 68 was 67-17174, which was shot down on April 14, 1969, resulting in the deaths of SP4 Gary Dubach (Crew Chief) and SP4 Stephen Schumacher (Medic).

LTC (Ret) Ken Moro (then CPT) was the XO of C Co from 06/68-05/69 and has some memories of this incident. Ken Moro recalls that a Chinook transported about thirty stabilized wounded from C Co 15th MED at Quan Loi to hospitals in Long Binh and Saigon.

If anyone remembers who the medic and gunner on Gil’s aircraft were, or anyone else who flew MEDEVAC missions that day or the next, or remembers anything about the incident including Martha Raye, please send an e-mail to historian@15thmedbnassociation.org .

FIRST TEAM! Garryowen
Mike Bodnar 2\7 '69 MEDEVAC 1-7\70
SO THAT OTHERS MAY LIVE

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