Site hosted by Build your free website today!

Copyright © 2001 Enrique del Rosario
by Enrique B. del Rosario
DaNang, Vietnam, 1964

Fly me somewheres north of Soc Trang,
where they are having quite a fight,
and the Vee Cee come a-sneaking
from the jungle in the night.

Arm my helo with guns and rockets -
leave behind the rice and pigs -
for today we go for glory, boys -
we're gonna shoot some MIGs!

Hear the motor straining, boys -
we'll surely pop this rig,
but who gives a damn, boys -
we're gonna get a MIG!

They took off from DaNang Field
and headed across the bay.
No fear they held, no thought of death.
Just one thought - to be an ace today.

Across the flooded rice fields,
over jungles green and still,
straight as an arrow the heroes flew
northward to find a MIG to kill.

He scanned above, he looked below,
'til late the hour, 'til darkness neared,
then turned, disappointed, southward,
for not a single MIG appeared.

"My pods are full of rockets
and there'r bullets in my guns.
I ain't done a-huntin' yet -
I'm gonna have my fun.

He spotted something in the distance,
but now he's low on gas.
"'Tis my only chance for glory -
I've got time for just one pass!

He lined the specks on the crosshair.
His iron finger began to itch.
"Now I have 'em where I want 'em -
I'll kill the sons of bitch!

Banking left, rolling right,
now he's got them on the mark.
The rockets flew out like thunder -
the guns began to bark!

"Talley ho! Talley ho!", he cried -
his wingman did the same -
for his guns and rockets found
their mark, his score, his claim.

At five he shot, and five went down -
not though the swept-winged MIGs.
Down to gory death he flamed
five no longer squealing pigs.

Copyright © 1964, 2001
Enrique B. del Rosario

tk-1 rocketpod and 2 m-60 machineguns on the crewchief side of an hmm365 uh-34d
navy/marine naval aviator wings

Notes and footnotes:

Do you remember when some incident occurred on the Tonkin Gulf? We were in DaNang and we were put on the alert because of something going on but we weren't given the entire need-to-know clearance. Rumors flew - North Vietnamese tanks and MIGs were on the way to hit DaNang - was one of the rumors I thought I overheard. I think it was Captain Michael Barkovich to Captain George Boemerman...forgive me if I'm wrong. Then Boemerman said, "that's awright, we got our stingers to take care of any tanks and MIGs those North Vietnamese may care to throw at us."

navy/marine combat air crewmember badge

  • stinger: a UH-34D utility purpose helicopter, capable of 122 mph top speed with a typhoon chasing it, incapable of barrel rolls, immelmans, and inverted flight. But armed with two rocket-pods firing 2.75-inch rockets and two M-60 7.62 mm machineguns remote-controlled, along with three manually-served M-60s in the cargo/passenger compartment, and driven by pilots who have no respect for MIGs or any other aircontraption other than an H-34, and we had a first-class dogfighting, air superiority, subsonic interceptor.
  • ace: an aviator who has five or more aerial kills.
  • Soc Trang: an airfield in the Mekong Delta where U.S. Marine helicopter involvement in Vietnam began with HMM-362 on Operation Shufly (April 15, 1962).
  • rice and pigs: a good part of what we were made to haul for the Vietnamese in the earlier years
  • MIG: short for Soviet-built aircraft manufactured by Mikoyan-Gurevich. In 1964-65 the North Vietnamese had MIG-15s, MIG-17s, and MIG-19s in their air force inventory.

vnaf pilot wings
Email from Willard Reeves, 7/28/98: Del: The following is an except from "The Flightline" (1st Marine Aircraft Wing Association - Vietnam Service) newsletter, dated "Spring 1993", volume 3, number 2, page 6 and page 8. Since Army gunships were not always available, three UH-34Ds of HMM-365 were converted to the gunship role early in November 1964 with the addition of the TK-1 (Temporary Kit 1) fire suppression kit developed by HMX-1 at Quantico, Virginia. First used on 19 November 1964, the TK-1 did not prove effective in combat. The inherent limitations of the UH-34D as a gun platform, because of its low speed and lack of manoeuverability (THIS IS WHERE AND HOW "DOUBLE A FRYE" GOT IT, DEL), in a tight right turn and a drop-off of airspeed from 120 knots to about 95 knots, reduced the value of the system. By the end of April 1965, it had been discontinued after the arrival of fixed-winged Marine aircraft. During the trial period the UH-34D gunships accounted for only fifteen percent of the total flight time but had taken eighty-five percent of all hits from groundfire. (Will comments again: I thought we had four gunships and "did not prove effective" - MY ASS! WE KILLED VC!)

vnaf aerial gunner wings

5/18/99: From: Jack O. Johnson, LtCol, U.S. Army (retired)

hmm365 stinger patch - courtesy of jack johnson

Dear Enrique:
    I was surprised to see that HMM-365 had a web page but was glad that after all of these years I could renew some lost friends...
    In 1964 I was a Captain, U.S. Army Aviator, assigned to the 68th Aviation Company flying armed UH-1Bs out of Saigon. We were the original Army armed helicopter unit in Vietnam. I was the platoon commander of the second platoon which had 4 UH-1Bs with flexguns and rockets, and a platoon leader UH-1B with an XM-4 setup of 48 rockets. Our call sign was Raider 26, platoon leader, 21-22 first fire team and 23-24 second fire team. We were dispatched from Saigon to DaNang sometime in November for about 30 days to help HMM-365 develop tactical skills in using armed UH-34s in doing combat assaults. We also had ten slick Hueys from the Delta that worked as lift ships along with your UH-34s.
    When we got there you had started to bolt rocket pods on the H-34 but no one had fired any at that time. We talked with your pilots and described how the rockets would work and then had them follow us out to a free fire zone and shoot away until they learned what the ship would do when rockets were fired. We had a ball with your guys. After a few days we started to do combined eagle flights, that is go out until we got shot at, then launch off our 10 slick hueys with some Vietnamese troops on board. We would insert them and they would sweep an area where we had received fire. We used your H-34s as well for lift ships and resupply. We had very successful operations because the VC didn't expect us to react when we got shot at and bring down a bunch of troops on top of them.
    When I terminated my mission at DaNang and flew back to Saigon I was met at the airfield by General Delk Oden who had been reading the after-action reports of our combined actions and was impressed enought that he took me to MACV HQ and I was debriefed by General Westmoreland in his office. Your guys got a lot of praise because of the way we were able to work together and the success we had.
    In February I was shot and wounded so that I had to be med-evaced to the states for recovery. When I got there I had received a Christmas card from HMM-365, copy of the card is included, and a letter and get well card from the "Stingers". I have always held these in high esteem and keep them in a scrapbook. The get-well card explains itself and the letter made me an honorary Stinger. I'm sending you a copy of the letter, get-well card and my Stinger patch. I'm also sending a copy of our unit patch "68th Avn" and our second platoon "Raider" patch.
    The name for the Stingers came up one night, as I recall, while we were at the bar in the Officers' Mess. We were drinking stingers, and someone said, "let's call ourselves the "Stingers" and that's how it happened.
    Your pilots also qualified us in carrier landings at the mess. Line up a couple of tables and grab someone by the arms and legs and fly them around the pattern and launch them onto the deck, the tables. We had to learn to handle a wet deck so they poured beer all over it and we splashed in several times. Your group also taught us some terrible, foul songs - or was it the other way - can't remember for sure on that one.
    I have a Marine, retired officer, here in Lawton who is a good friend and we talk aboutour experiences alot. He served with LTC Koler after his tour with HMM-365. General Koler did well both as a commander of HMM-365 and in other assignments. I was glad to have had the opportunity to work with him. Of course the guys I remember best were Skinner and Boemerman because we flew with them all the time we were up north with HMM-365. It was a pleasure to work with such a professional bunch.
    After I was wounded I spent a year in the hospital in Denver and then got back on flying status. I went back to Vietnam in September 1967 and commanded a full Army helicopter company. We had 30 lift ships, 10 guns, maintenance detachment, medical detachment, avionics detachment, and almost 400 officers and men. We were northwest of Saigon until after Tet in '68, then we moved north of Hue and supported the 101st Airborne Division. We also supported the Marines in northern I Corps. The helicopter company was the 188th, Blackwidows, and we have a web page now - that's how I found the web page on HMM-365.
    We have been very active in developing a unit history for the 188th and should hve it done soon. I'm really sorry that the 68th or UTT which was the original gun company the Army had hasn't started a history on what we did. We were all young and a little crazy then but we had fun.
    I hope that some of this makes sense to you. Maybe it will add a little to your history. My very best to all of the Stingers who are still around. Maybe we can get together at one of the VHPA reunions sometime.

Take Care,
Jack O. Johnson
LTC, U.S. Army (retired)

HMM-365 Vietnam Homepage

Copyright © 2003 by
Enrique del Rosario