I was the flight engineer. I took the right machine gun that night. McSween, our gunner, took the
left M-60 machine gun. Ray, the crew chief, was lying on his steel vest peering down through the
cargo hole, anticipating the hookup. The pilots were in radio contact with the Huey gun ships
that were securing the pickup zone and rigging the downed helicopter. The call came back
Black Cat 021 your package is ready for pick-up. We were coming in high over the PZ. You
could see the ship on the ground lit up by the spotlights from the circling gun ships. The copper
was located in a small clearing in the jungle. As the gun ships continued circling around us, giving
us cover, we made our final approach over the downed aircraft. I was leaning out the door over
the gun looking down as the pilot turned on the spotlight. Ray directed the pilot over the load for
a quick hookup, it was a GO! We came UP and OUT of the PZ HOT, climbing as fast as we
could. The blades were pounding the night air. I called to the pilot- "turn off the LIGHT! THE
LIGHT!"...... Reply "I WILL!" We looked like a Holiday Inn floating across the night sky! Again the
LIGHT!....... Reply- "WE'RE HIT! WE'VE BEEN HIT!"... The light goes out. I'm looking; I can see no
tracers coming from the ground towards my side of the ship. The pilot still screams, "WE'VE
BEEN HIT!" I felt a sudden RISE in the ship! The pilot "YELLED, "WE'VE LOST THE LOAD",
WE'VE LOST THE LOAD. I looked down towards the ground hoping to see the UH-1 hit and
burst into flames upon impact. BLOW! BLOW! No such luck. The night stayed black! If the
aircraft would have blown up and burned there would be little left for (Charlie). We proceeded
to climb to around three thousand feet, then leveled off. Ray and I walked around inside the
ship, feeling the walls for vibrations and looking for hydraulic fluid. Everything seemed to be ok.
The Question was, how many rounds were we hit by and where at? It seemed to be a long flight
back home that night. We had to get this ship on safe ground. PHU LOI would never look so
Upon landing the pilots and crew inspected the aircraft for damage. We located where
one round had pierced the lower aft section of the aircraft. The crew completed the post-flight
inspection. We were lucky that night!
We topped off the evening by rehashing the night's events at the Black Cat Lounge, till last call. The next day, the talk around operations was the sling holding the UH-1 was shot out from under us. Last night I didn't notice any rigging on the cargo hook. Must have been a lucky shot??
Now when you look at the picture of the side of aircraft 021 you will count thirty-one
recoveries. Well, now you know why there is a red X over aircraft recovery number 21. By the
way for you former hookers- Ray, the crew chief, DIDN'T pull the pin! LOL!
This event was experienced by
SP/5 Mike (Sugar Bear) Brown
Flight Engineer AC/ 021
213th Assault Helicopter Co.
The BLACK CATS FROM PHU-LOI