Saber Article Index

Jul-Aug

I received a correction to the last column. MEDEVAC 21 Art Jacobs said that he was in MEDEVAC 1967 to 1968, not what I wrote and was printed. I had gotten his dates from the15th MED Assn website page: “MEDEVAC Pilots and Their Call Signs.”

That list has also been corrected. That page was put together as best as possible years ago and relies on corrections from readers who are more knowledgeable. After some lengthy commo with Art, I have submitted even more corrections for those call signs and dates. Their webmaster edits that page.

Art also mentioned that I had left off CWO Jim Doran pictured to his left in the one photo of four at LZ Sharon. I thought that he was leaving one individual unnamed in his caption, but that was my copying and pasting that somehow clipped it off.

I received a snail mail document handwritten by 1968-1969 A Company 2-8 Cav 11Bravo Thomas Ginop <tree1968.1969@gmail.com>. Tom took the time and wrote a long memoir of his Tour 365. It would make a good Saber Trooper’s Tale.

 After their move south with the 1st Cavalry Division-which was Operation Liberty Canyon-Tom’s company combat assaulted out of LZ Rita-Operation Sheridan Sabre-leaving mass graves being created from a ground attack there before they arrived. Then, closer to the Cambodian border on their second day,  they walked into a bunker complex and an ambush. Tom said, “I did not know I could be that scared! It was unreal.

“We took several KIAs and WIAs. It was the sixth of November. I had just turned twenty years old and was now living a nightmare!

“We would ambush the NVA at night, and they would ambush us in the daytime. Just before Thanksgiving Day we were working with our sister companies B and D, and a company from 5th of the 7th.

 “We were looking for a large force of NVA. Our company had little action.  We had just a couple of small firefights. However, A 5-7 and our B Company really hit it and had many  casualties and needed a MEDEVAC.

“It made it in [the MEDEVAC] and picked up a load but was then shot down in our area. We were sent to recover the bodies. After two days in a hundred-degree heat, we got to the crash site.

“As best I can remember, the pilot, copilot, and door gunners were belted in. Everyone else had been thrown out. It was a very traumatic sight!

“We had to bag all the bodies and get them to an area where they could be picked up by choppers. All the while we were there, we could hear the NVA talking and moving around. We could also hear chain saws.

“We were informed later that we were in the middle of at least a battalion sized NVA force. Once the bodies were evacuated, we got moving as soon as we could to get out of that area.

 “I am not sure if they removed the wrecked chopper or if it was left there. By the way, that occurred on Thanksgiving Day. I haven’t had a good Thanksgiving even after all these years!”

That is an excerpt from Tom’s writing. He continued writing about what happened after that, and for the rest of his year in Vietnam. I told him after I read it, and about what had happened to most everyone around him, that he was fortunate to have left Vietnam with  only one Purple Heart, and his life!

Thinking that everyone on MEDEVAC 18 was consumed by fire I was somewhat surprised that they had found the crew members still belted in. As helicopter crew members on MEDEVAC, we had to wear Nomex; shirt, pants, and gloves; and our Army leather combat boots. Together with our flight helmet, that made us more fire resistant than not.

That could not be said about everyone not a crew member, like the extracted casualties. As a MEDEVAC Medic I was tethered in using a wide strap hooked onto any of the floor rings, the other end hooked to a mesh net jacket over my bullet resistant chest and back armor. I never left home without it! I could reach anywhere in the helicopter that I needed to do my job, right to the doors. Any explosion or crash would less likely throw me out.

I cannot know if the MEDEVAC 18 Medic, SP5 Johnny Glen Gregg, was strapped in as trained. I can say the wounded infantrymen on board were not.

I had to ask Tom Ginop, and he said he did not find ashes. He said the bodies thrown out were scattered everywhere. Tom did not want to go into any more detail, because of the stress. He said that others he tried to contact about it did not want to remember it all. But Tom courageously answered my further questions.

Tom also referred me to his platoon leader, Tip Harte. Tip also did not, for the same reasons, want to elaborate, but did confirm what Tom had told me. I thank them both.

As well as MEDEVAC 18 WO1 James Donald Doran, his copilot 1LT Stephen Carl Beals, crewmen SP5 Johnny Glen Gregg, SP4 John Stephen Alling Jr., and PFC Robert Earnest Jones KIA 26 NOV 68, the following extracted A 5-7 Cavalry infantrymen were KIA: SGT William Michael Ebel, SGT Curtis Hall Rainer, SGT Patrick Edward Smith,

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

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