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Copyright © 2002 Enrique del Rosario

History: The Big Flood

OVEMBER 1, 1964: The VC took a camp we had just resupplied. They got two 105 millimeter howitzers. [mckee]

photo by Cpl Glenn Turley, Vietnam 1964
Vietnam Mosaic - photo by Corporal Glenn Turley, Vietnam, 1964

11/2/64: Some people in the squadron will be going on R&R (rest and recuperation). L/Cpl Ruettiger went to Bangkok today. Sgt. Androlevich goes to Futema (Okinawa) tomorrow. OEs are flying security all through the night. I guess it's to pinpoint enemy fire immediately in case of an attack. [winkel]

    November 2, 1964: Lyndon B. Johnson elected as President of the United States.

11/3/64: Our planes went in for a landing somewhere and they started to receive heavy fire. The gunners fired back. They hit quite a few VC. The only thing that was hit on us were some rotor blades. [winkel]

Took Stevens to Tam Ky to receive a medal from the ARVN. [mckee]

    They stood divided into helicopter teams along one edge of a large field, their red berets at a jaunty angle. Nearby, 15 Marine Corps helicopters awaited their passenger - Vietnamese Rangers. Beyond the choppers was the Quang Tin provincial headquarters building.
    O'Sullivan confers with Koler     Two Americans, off by themselves, talked over the final plans for the large combat assault about to begin. Calmly puffing on a cigar, LtCol Joseph Koler, Jr., Commander of the Marine Squadron, looked at the landing zones on the map and compared them with aerial photos. U.S. Army Capt Christopher O'Sullivan reviewed the enemy situation. It was estimated that two Viet Cong companies armed with 60-mm. mortars, .30 caliber machine guns, and an assortment of small arms, occupied a series of eight small hamlets along a peninsula about 20 miles southeast of DaNang.
        Four Army UH1B armed escort helicopters orbited overhead. Koler gave the signal to "load up" and the 39th Rangers boarded the transport 'copters. Capt O'Sullivan and 1stLt Donald R. Robinson serve as advisors to the unit and accompanied it on the operation.
        Shortly after 0900 the Army helicopters entered the area of the first landing zone (LZ) adjacent to the small village of Tan Hop. The UH1B "Hueys" were immediately brought under intense fire from the vicinity of the village and from fishing boats along the Truang River on the far side of the zone.
        Capt. Fred Smith, an Army pilot was wounded in his left arm during the first exchange of fire. The armed choppers returned enemy fire as the Marine helicopters descended into the LZ. Marine machine gunners in the transport choppers opened up on the rebels as LtCol Koler led his flight in for the landing.
        The Rangers charged from the aircraft and engaged the insurgents.
        One mile farther south the secon flight of Marine helicotpers approached the hamlet of Van Doa Dong. Flying the lead was Capt. George F. Boemerman.
        Muzzle flashes from the rebel weapons were sighted from the air as the Viet Cong again opened fire. Tracers from the Marine guns streaked across the LZ kicking up puffs of sand as they sought their targets. Bullets knifed into the water of the river near the boats from which the rebels fired. Debarking their passengers, the choppers took off to rejoin the first flight near the 5th Regimental headquarters to the southwest.
        Soldiers of the 5th climbed aboard the second heliborn assault of the day swung into action.
        Using similar tactics, the Marines split into two flights and landed at separate LZs about five miles south of the Ranger landing. The second area was a large rice paddy complex between the river and parallel to the South China Sea.
        Viet Cong Reds started firing at the helicopters from the landing zone. The escort choppers poured suppressing fire into the site as the Marines landed.
        Several rebels were wounded in the landing zone, and others attempted to flee by crossing the river. One VC was struck by the lading gear of a Marine helicopter.
    1stLt Curt Platte, 1965     1stLt Curt Platte saw movement behind a paddy dike on his approach. The controls was the copilot, 1stLt Rudolph Fahrner. When the aircraft was within 50 yards of his position, the rebel jumped to his feet. Platte, the pilot shouted over the intercom, and Fahrner flew the chopper right at the VC.
        Their mission completed, the Marines returned to their base at DaNang.
        The two Vietnamese units, working toward each other, began to search and clear the area. They were backed up during the operation by an Armored unit and a Regional Force company that had moved into the area by road the previous night.
        Enemy casualties for the assault totaled 93 killed, 10 captured, and a supply of Viet Cong weapons were taken. [WO Rob Robinson]
11/4/64: Typhoon Iris begins its 9 day rampage over the northern provinces of South Vietnam

Heard that Lyndon Johnson was elected president. [mckee]

11/5/64: Had USO dancers put on a show for us. [mckee]

        It didn't matter what songs they sang for us, that the acts and dance steps were less than perfect, or whether their jokes were funny. The important thing to us was they were there to entertain us, and they were "round-eye" women. Those of us who could get out of standing guard or doing menial maintenance jobs, headed down to see the floor show. Who these women were (and there were also a few men entertainers with them), I can't recall, but one of the women was a friend of Major Dick Bancroft. Watching them sing, dance, and joke was the highlight of our week, something we could talk about to color our drab days. For a brief hour, war seemed far away.
        In the show's finale, the woman who was Major Bancroft's friend, picked Lance Corporal Charles McKinney out of the crowd of Marines to sing to. She looked right at him and started singing:
      "I'm a little lamb who's lost in the wood, oh how I could always be good, to one who'll watch over me...".
    And McKinney, sitting on the floor, just looked right back at her with big brown eyes.
      "...someone to watch over me."

    She went to McKinney, bent down, and planted a red lipstick kiss on his cheek.
        He was the envy of every Marine there that night. [delrosario]

armed forces expeditionary medal 11/6/64: Got the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal. [mckee]

11/10/64: November 10th is the holiest of holy days in the Marine Corps religion. It is the day, in 1775, that the U. S. Marine Corps was founded, in accordance with the Second Continental Congress resolution: "that two battalions of marines be raised.". Legend has it that the cadre that met to oversee the initial organization of this band of sea soldiers met at Peg Mullan's Beef Steak House located on the corner of King Street and Tun Alley. What probably happened, after exhaustive hours of organizing and drinking, two of them staggered out into the alley to relieve themselves of the beer that was liberally supplied by Peg. In the darkness behind the tavern one of them got a bit disoriented and asked of the other, "Where the hell are we?" Whereupon the other replied indignantly, "why you boot, back in the Old Corps everyone could navigate night or day. We're on Tun Alley." Thus forever, generations of Marines will come to know that their beloved Marine Corps received its first baptism at or near or behind Tun Tavern.

1964 - DaNang, South Vietnam: Rain, rain, rain, for weeks. Rain without cease. The Compound was inundated. To get between the hootches and the messhall meant wading through a lake that was already six to eight inches deep. My leather boots, the ones I had bought at the Futema PX just months before, simply rotted off my feet because they could never get completely dried off. All of our utilities were soaked through and through. The only place that was high and dry were the comodes, which were built on raised platforms - a tribute to the French who designed and built these buildings during their Indochina interlude.

Flight operations had been greatly curtailed. Several outposts, Aro, Tako, Kham Duc, to name a few, all relying on Marine helicopters to resupply them, were in dire straits. They had not been resupplied with essential war material or food for weeks. I worried if I would be able to get the requisite six hostile fire days in order to qualify for the $55 a month bonus combat pay. The pilots sitting in the smoky ready room near the Air Vietnam terminal waited and waited for the word to launch their flights but the deluge never abated.

In the midafternoon the word was passed for all Marines who were not on guard duty to assemble in the Compound. In ceremony befitting fighting Marines, we gathered, not in dress blues resplendent with medals, not with wives and families among us, but garbed in the attires of war, in a far-off country ranged by war.

The cathecism of ceremony were recited, the legends retold, and the vows repeated that this Marine Corps shall long live. Then, to the sounds of a scratchy recording of the Marine Corps Hymn, a huge cake was brought forth. By tradition, the oldest and the youngest Marine present at the ceremony shall receive the first two pieces of the birthday cake. [delrosario]

Marine Corps Birthday. Max launch of helicopters to evacuate people from rooftops. [mckee]

Today the United States Marine Corps is celebrating its 189th birthday. But that didn't influence the weatherman. It rained all day. But it did make for a better birthday. All duty sections were secured, except for Duty Section 2, who had to go to the hangar and standby until 1800 hours in case a med-evac or SAR was needed. At 1100 hours we had the traditional cake-cutting ceremony. Colonel King, the Commanding Officer of the Marine Task Element, spoke to us. His speech was very inspiring. After the speech and the Marine Corps Hymn they could have shipped over about fifty percent of the men. The colonel spoke abouthow proud he was of this command and that this is the real Marine Corps - here wearing our utilities (field uniform) and not dress blues, no dependents, rain and dirt outside and being fired at every day. He also read a letter from the Commanding General of the First Marine Air Wing.

Sergeant Robert L. Frye, 1965 Sgt. Robert L. Frye received the Navy and Marine Corps Medal today for saving two men in an aircraft (OE) crash at Twenty-Nine Palms, California last February. We had turkey, ham and cake for noon chow and steak for evening chow. At about 1700 hours word was passed for an immediate max launch. [winkel]

navy and marine corps medal It is the tradition in the Marine Corps that the oldest and the youngest Marines present at the Marine Corps Birthday cake cutting ceremony should receive the first two pieces. Colonel King cut the cake and presented one piece to the oldest, Gunnery Sergeant Michael Caruselle, and the youngest, Private Angel Torres. Gunny Caruselle had enlisted in the Marine Corps prior to the Second World War and, along with Korea, was fighting in his third major war. Angel, from California, had been a rock and roll singer in his even younger teen years and had, in fact, cut a couple of records. I don't think that Angel was much over 18 years old when he arrived in Vietnam in 1964.

Master Sergeant Caruselle, 1965 PFC Luis Angel Torres, 1965

     The word came like a thunderbolt that shocked us back to the realities of war. "All pilots, crewmembers, and duty sections report to the flightline. We have a max launch."
     We exited from the little building we had crowded into for the cake-cutting ceremony and headed for the flightline. Each of us knew what we had to do. The pilots donned their flight suits and went straight to the operations ready room for their pre-flight briefings. The crew chiefs were already scurrying around their aircraft doing their pre-flight inspections while their gunners were mounting the M-60 machineguns onto the swivel bases at the hatch and ports of the UH-34D. The Combat Recovery Team were being briefed by First Sergeant Force on their mission. The Marines of HMM-365 and the Marine Task Element, Vietnam, were being called upon to use all of their resources, skills, and courage to effect the rescue of thousands of Vietnamese people who were in danger of being swept away by the fast rising flood waters. Darkness would soon fall and there was an sense of urgency that was felt by all. We knew that this mission would be one of the most difficult tasks we would have to perform.
     Within minutes the first of the helicopters were airborne. They fanned out to search sections around Danang, looking for people in distress. The OEs had been aloft before them reporting on the flooding, the weather, the locations of people to be rescued, the tactical situation. National Highway One, in addition to many sections of the road already under water, had four or five of its bridges cut by the Viet Cong, further complicating any rescue and subsequent rebuilding operations we would have to undertake.
     At the flightline, ground personnel had established a receiving and staging area for the flood victims we were expecting our helicopters to soon deliver. Medical personnel had an aid station, supply personnel had brought woolen blankets and crates of C-rations to warm and feed the Vietnamese, riflemen and machinegunners had established a perimeter around the flightline to insure the security of the area. The CRT were waiting for the first of the helicopters to return so that we could check for weapons that the refugees might have snuck past the crewchiefs.
    The helicopters didn't have far to go before they came across the first group of people needing rescue. Having been driven to higher ground by the rapidly rising flood water, the Vietnamese were found in wretched huddles of humanity, cold, wet, frightened, clinging to each other, their children, the few precious belongings only the poor can treasure. Often with them were water buffaloes, geese, ducks, chickens, pigs, dogs, and any other living thing that could not live in the angry waters. From the air, the pilots and crew could see the precariousness of their landhold. Sometimes, pieces of houses would be swept away by the strong flood current, or an animal would be seen paddling for higher ground. Even the snakes fled the waters, their undulations leaving barely a ripple in the rushing flood.
flood rescue, danang, vietnam november 1964      Most of the people that the rescuers found were sitting on top of the roofs of their dwellings. They had stayed with their property and belongings until the very last, having done everything they could in their losing fight against the elements. When the helicopter crews found them they found few places of ground to set down on safely so that they could load the flood victims. Working against time, the diminishing of daylight, blinded by heavy rains, and having to keep control of the aircraft against the gusting and ever changing wind, the pilots deftly maneuvered the H-34 over the people. The crewchiefs would then talk the aircraft to its best position over the people before they would winch down the "horse collar" rescue sling. The trouble was, most of the Vietnamese did not understand what the sling was for. It took having the crewchief or gunner to set the example and for the people to follow, by the crew having to be lowered by the hoist and sling, attempt communication with two divergent tongues and a confusion of arm-and-hand gestures, for the Vietnamese to entrust their lives and the lives of their children to strangers, to leave the relative stability of their rooftops to ascend a slim line to a craft without wings, and then finally, to overcome the natural fear of heights, before any rescue could be effected.
     Although the primary concern of the pilots and crew was to rescue as many people from the flood as possible, they could not forget for one moment that they were flying over potentially hostile territory. The war did not simply wash away with the flood. Quite a few of our helicopters were taken under fire by VC who did not appreciate our humanitarian effort and some sustained minor damage by hits from small arms fire. Hovering almost motionless while the hoist brought people up from the dangerous waters, the choppers presented fat targets for the Viet Cong. It was up to the gunners to keep vigilant and, if need be, keep the heads of the VC down with machinegun fire while the crewchiefs directed the rescue sling up and down. To keep the helicopter at a steady altitude and position while wind and rain lashed the craft about takes tremendous skill and courage. To do so while being subjected to hostile ground fire earned the pilots of HMM-365 the admiration and respect of the entire helicopter community.

    DANANG, South Vietnam (UPI) - U.S. Marine valor was commonplace in the massive rescue operation launched for victims of the destructive floods that have ravaged a wide area of South Viet Nam's midsection.
       Leatherneck helicopter crews dodged Communist antiaircraft fire and flew into raging storms to snatch helpless Vietnamese from almost certain death. More than 1,500 were rescued from rooftops, trees and islands.
       Part of the full story of Marine heroism began to unfold Thursday as the rains finally let up. Ten days of violdent weather left hundreds of Vietnamese dead or missing and more than 1,000,000 without food or shelter.
       The Communist Viet Cong guerrillas infiltrating the disaster area took pot shots at the Marine mercy mission. Several helicopters were hit, but none was downed.
       The floods also took their toll of the Communists. Many guerrillas who have been living off the land faced starvation unless they can capture food supplies stored in government-controlled towns and villages.
       One guerrilla band attempted a raid on a village seven miles north of DaNang Thursday and was driven off by artillery fire.
        Other guerrillas were caught up in the floods and drowned. One Viet Cong was rescued by a helicopter (that WO Rob Robinson of Tampa, Florida, was riding in).
        Robinson's crew had to wrestle hand grenades away from the dripping rebel, who had apparently intended to blow up the helicopter once aboard. The guerrilla was disarmed before he could do any harm.
       Acts of heroism by American servicemen were common.

      Sgt. Alfred A. Frye of Orange, California, stripped off his flak suit and dove into the churning flood waters to rescue a drowning Vietnamese woman.
      1stLt Charles Swan, 1965    Frye's pilot, Lt. Charles Swan, Highland Park, Illinois, managed to hover over the exhausted Frye and drag him from a torrent that almost swept him away.
         (Swan, a rangy, 215-pound, 6-foot-3 former basketball player at Lake Forest College, is a son of Charles G. Swan.
         "he loves to fly," said his mother, Patricia. Swan was a 1956 graduate of Highland Park High School.)

      Major Marion R. Green of Gage, Oklahoma, nearly had one more passenger when he landed than when he took off. A Vietnamese woman had a baby in a truck a few minutes after she was carried off Green's helicopter.

      [Chicago Daily News, November 12, 1964}

     Igor Sikorsky, America's foremost helicopter engineer and manufacturer, honored our pilots and enlisted combat aircrewmembers with a special award, the Winged S, in recognition of their outstanding skill and unwavering courage in the face of wind, rain, and fire - a quality few men could have possessed or delivered.

     After the Vietnamese were lifted up and brought into the hovering chopper, another danger had to be dealt with. Some of the Vietnamese were armed with small arms or grenades. The crewchiefs had to disarm them before they could possibly do any harm to anyone on board or to the helicopter. A few Vietnamese who attempted to cling to their weapons found themselves joining their weapons on a 100-foot free fall, with boot-assisted launch from the crewchief.

At the flightline, the wretched evacuees were met by a contingent of Marines and Navy personnel from the squadron and the Task Element. After the Combat Recovery Team eyed them carefully to see if any might be attempting to bring weapons into our security zone, they were led to the squadron hangar where they were given a new woolen blanket to warm them. Attending to those suffering from hypothermia and diahhrea were the "bac si", the corpsmen and doctors. Also among them was Chaplain Heim who greeted them, offering them food from our C-ration cache, and whole milk, something the Vietnamese had never had except as babies from their mothers. [delrosario]

pfc schuldheisz leads vietnamese flood refugees to shelter 11/11/64: It was rainy and cold all day. The helicopters that went out last night and all day today were all on rescue missions. Everything all around here for miles is under water. From the air the base looks like an island. The rivers are overflowing, the rain keeps coming and the cold wind makes it worse. Houses are all under water and the families are on top of the roofs waiting for the choppers to pick them up. The choppers hover overhead, the crewchief goes down in a "horse collar" attached to a hoist. He lands on the roof and then puts one person in the "horse collar" at a time and they get hoisted up. The old and sick are sometimes hoisted up in a basket. Some people are so cold and sick that they forget their kids who may still be in the house or attic. When they finally think about it they say their kids are still down there. So the chopper circles around with the hope that the person can find their home. One mother sent her two boys up to the chopper but wouldn't go herself because her own mother was in the attic and too old to climb up to the roof. It is a pretty bad sight when they bring some of these people back. Some are too old to walk. Some have broken bones, sick, or too cold to move. some are hysterical. One old lady had a broken leg and leprosy. I guess that is the worse I saw. Some little babies are blue from the cold. Kids have cuts on them with maggots in it. A lot of people were wearing old ripped, dirty and wet clothes. A few had no clothes at all. Everyone brought in was put into six-byes (trucks) and brought to a church or temple in town. We brought in (rescued) about 250 people last night. Today, from sun up to sun down, we brought in another 1,402 or 1,508 people (not sure of the right number). The rescue effort will continue tomorrow. We caught a few VC with the civilians. They were carrying hand grenades and weapons. Three or four of them were brought in for interrogation. Also a few women gave birth last night and early this morning.
    The VC tried to get on the base today. They have lost about seventy-five percent of their rice and they need chow. I believe they were trying to get into the compound. There were 20 or 50 of them. They were hit by mortar shells firing continuously out to about 1,000 yards. [winkel]

    Capt. John Eilertson of Richmond, Virginia, and his crew set a record for helicopters by piling forty Vietnamese, most of them children, aboard his Sikorsky UH-34D. It was built to hold 13 passengers at the most. He was assisted by Sgt. Nathaniel Tucker of Cleveland, Ohio, and L/Cpl Francis J. Mayher of Staten Island, N.Y. The copilot was Lt. Ronald E. Pettis of Williston, North Dakota.

    Capt Eilertson

        "Tucker and Mayher kept piling them aboard and Pettis gave her every inch of manifold pressure there was", Eilertson said.
        "If we hadn't had a good wind we'd never have gotten off the ground."
    Eilertson and his crew ferried 127 refugees in four trips. [Miami Herald, 11/13/64]

Email received from Bill Martin, 9/12/05, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina


I'm sorry I have been so slow in responding to your messages. We've been on a weekend trip with the grandkids.

Yes, I also remember the flood relief way back in '64. I was the HAC in the second a/c in Capt Eilertson's section. I remember there was a bridge over the river that was a few miles south of Da Nang. The bridge was built up pretty high over the water so it had dirt "ramps" sloping down away from the center of the bridge on each end. The north end of the bridge was facing right down "main street" in a village. There was a small crowd at the village end of the bridge on the sloped area. We landed both a/c on the north slope and took on a normal size load of people. The crew chief explained, to the people left there, with sign language, that we would go to Da Nang and then come back for another load.

Yes, you guessed it. When we got back it looked like the whole town was on the sloped area and bridge. Some how we blew people back enough to get on the ground, and of course they then mobbed the a/c. I remember the crew chief saying "Let's Go, Sir" or something to that effect. I looked out my window at him and he was still standing on the ground with his arms outstretched trying to hold the crowd back. I said something like "Get aboard first" and he said something like "Let's go - I will jump on". So I started pulling power and he jumped on somehow.

We went right down "Main Street" at what seemed about two feet off the water for what seemed like forever, trying to get some airspeed. I remember overboosting the engine, I think about four or five inches of manifold pressure, because the load was so heavy. I don't think it was too serious an overboost because I think I remember flying all day and recorded it when we got through flying. I do not remember going back for a third load. Probably other a/c had found them and started lifting people out by that time. After we had done the hard work.

I'm sorry to say that I do not remember who any of the other three men in my crew were. I'd like to know. Maybe if we spread the story around we can find someone who was there and learn what he remembers. I know I kidded Capt. Eilertson by telling him that he had all the kids and babies and gave me all the big fat adults and that's how he had a few more people aboard than I did and that I thought he had a lighter gross weight load also because he had no overboost problem.

I have been looking for some Marine CH-46's from HMM-365 in on the TV, with no luck. I'm sure they are continuing the good work that we prided ourselves in accomplishing so many years ago. After all, it is just expected from the best squadron in the Corps. I understand they are over in the Biloxi, MS area. My home state. All the news media seems to be stuck in New Orleans.

Good to hear from all of you. Lets keep the messages circulating and build up some enthusiasm for a good next reunion.

Bill Martin

U.S. Army Gen Wm. Westmorland and Vietnamese MajGen Thi flown aboard the USS Princeton by HMM-365 during the flood
    The magnitude of the damage inflicted upon the inhabitants of Quang Nam, Quang Ngai, and Quang Tin Provinces by the November storms is borne out by the following statistics. In these three provinces over 50,600 houses were destroyed while 4,870 civilians were reported either dead or missing. Another 12,240 Vietnamese were forced to seek refuge at government centers in the wake of the flood. [CTU 79.3.5 ComdD, 17Oct64-14Jan65]

11/12/64: VC shelled the compound. [mckee]

The VC tried to get on the base today. They lost 75% of their rice and they need chow. I believe they were trying to get into the compound. There were 20 to 50 of them. They were hit by mortar shells - firing continuously. They were about 1,000 yards out.
    One OE engine failure today. The CRT was ready to go for it but it made it back to the base. All the Army Hueys were called to Saigon as soon as possible, so our choppers are being armed like the Hueys. Two to eight rockets loaded on both sides of the chopper along with two M-60s. All these choppers will carry is a crewchief and a gunner. I think the gunner will continue to fire from the co-pilot's side of the aircraft. We almost have one chopper finished. There will be a total of six aircraft fully armed - maybe 10. These fully armed choppers will be called stingers. Work should be completed in 2 to 3 weeks, I believe. [winkel]

the stinger's sting 11/14/64: Flew to northern outpost (Khe Sanh?). 7.4 hours and carried 6900 lbs. of cargo and 34 passengers. [mckee]

Yankee Mike 13 was shot down today. It made a safe landing in a clearing. They found the round in one of the fuel tanks. A maintenance chopper was sent out to make the necessary repairs. After they made the temporary repairs they found out the starter was not working. A new starter was brought out and both choppers returned to the base safely. No one was hurt.
    The Army received 12 more Hueys today. We heard the ones they already had were going to Saigon. We have two of our stingers already armed with two stationary M-60 machineguns and rockets - 18 rockets to a cylinder - one on each side. We will start on the third stinger tomorrow. The only thing the Hueys have over us is that their M-60s are maneuverable. The Marine Corps doesn't have the money - or at least that is the excuse we are getting for us not getting the maneuverable type guns. The Army paid $28,000 per machinegun unit. [winkel]

Major Richard Bancroft, 1965 11/19/64: This morning ten Army Hueys with Nungs went out and raised some hell. They captured 8 more VC. Two of the VC kept saying, "No VC - farmers...use grenades to blow up stumps". One of the Nungs finally got pissed and took a jump at the VC and hauled off and let him have it across his cheek with his left hand. This afternoon the Huey slicks went out again with the ARVN, accompanied by Stingers YM10 and YM22. Our stingers have 36 rockets on each chopper compared to just 14 on the Army gunships. When they came back, an Army lieutenant came over to Major Dick Bancroft and said, "I never saw anything so beautiful", praising the shooting of the Marine stingers. [winkel]

Captain George Boemerman, 1965 Said another Army advisor, "Beautiful? Hell, they are magnificent!"

Sergeant Willard Reeves, 1966 In one of the incidents, Captain George Boemerman, flying the stinger of crewchief Sergeant Willard Reeves, fired one rocket from each side pod simultaneously at a Viet Cong who was trying to duck into a culvert. One rocket hit 3 feet from the hole and the other went right inside the culvert, blowing him all to hell. Our stingers also fired at a water tower under which a VC was taking cover. The rockets collapsed the tower on top of the VC. Still another was the stinger attack on a VC mortar site. After the rockets fired at it by our stingers, we sent ARVNs to check out the damage and they confirmed that there were no survivors among the VC mortar crew.

The TK-1, an externally mounted combination of M-60 machine guns and 2.75-inch rocket launchers, was first used on 19 November in support of a Tiger Flight mission conducted just south of the Song Thu Bon about 17 miles from DaNang. Two armed UH-34Ds expended 90 rockets and 500 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition on enemy positions during prelanding strikes. The effectiveness of the new system could not be determined after this particular strike, but an estimated 10-15 Viet Cong were killed in a similar action by the armed UH-34Ds the next day. [Robert H. Whitlow, U.S. Marines In Vietnam, 1964-1965]

stinger patch


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Enrique B. del Rosario