Saber Article Index
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 <email@example.com>. Tom took the time and
wrote a long memoir of his Tour 365. It would make a good Saber Trooper’s
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
“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
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
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
SO THAT OTHERS MAY LIVE