In or about my 2nd or 3rd month,
which would have put it in early 68', I witnessed something
that to this day makes me laugh. I was flying with Condrey as "Recovery
One" which is normally positioned right behind the C&C ship on all
our Delta missions. On that particular day it was about as turbulent
as it could get and still be flyable. Because the ACs sat on the left side
of the ship all our turns were to the left. This enabled all the
ACs to keep an eye on what was happening below with the insertion ship.
In this situation it was the job of the copilot to fly the ship and keep
normal separation between ships. Because of the turbulence we had stretched
out the trail formation to give us some breathing room.
My eyes were fixed on C&C when I noticed something on the side of the C&C ship that was not normal. To me it looked like a jacket or something was getting ready to blow out on the door gunner's (right side) side of the ship. I moved the ship to the right somewhat to get a better view of what was about to get blown out. One minute it was there and the next it was gone. The further to the right I got the better my view became. When it dawned on me what it was I told Condrey so he could have a look as well. Condrey then said something to the effect, "Is that what I think it is" and I said something like, "I do believe so".
Apparently the door gunner, new to the unit, was sticking his helmeted head out into the wind stream to see just how far he could get it out before it would pull him out. Right before our eyes he found out as a gust pulled him right out of the ship. His 6' "Monkey Strap" held but not his shorty mike cord. So here is this guy dangling some 6' below the ship with no way to tell anyone and being thrown all over because of the turbulence. There was no way he could have gotten back in by himself and the C&C pilots would not have known unless they looked back there. How I wish I had taken a picture of that.
Condrey and I couldn't believe what had just happened before our eyes. Condrey then got on the radio and asked C&C if they had lost anything. When they finally found out the door gunner was no longer in the ship Condrey told them where he was. C&C turned over the flight to Condrey and broke off to make a right turn that would allow the crew chief to come over and pull the door gunner in. We didn't get to see that part because of the opposite turns and the greater distance now between C&C and the rest of the flight.
As C&C was returning to take up the lead position again one of the pilots came over the radio and said that the door gunner had now firmly planted himself against the back of his little compartment. He also said something to the effect that we should see the look on his face and that his eyeballs were now the largest he had ever seen. A short time later we learned that the door gunner had been reassigned because he had no desire at all to fly again and wanted out. I bet that's one story he won't be telling his children or grand kids.
Because of the strange circumstances we often found ourselves in things like that just seemed to happen from time to time. They tend to break up the monotony and the seriousness of the war. It was easy to poke fun at one another and nobody seemed to take offense at it. We just sort of went with the flow of things. I tend to think that little things like this were spaced out so that they would lessen the tension of the more serious moments that we often saw or were a part of.