Category Archives: Viet Nam

Charger Dustoff

Was reading a piece in the latest issue of The VVA Veteran magazine on a documentary called When I Have Your Wounded, the legacy of Army Major Charles L. Kelly, the founder of Dustoff medevacs in Vietnam. Which you can watch free here and you should because it’s worth the hour or so it takes.

Got me to thinking about Charger Dustoff, the call sign of a frequency I used to call medevacs while at Moc Bai, when I was an Army lieutenant advising Vietnamese light-infantry militia, about a klick southeast of LZ Baldy. It was then occupied at first by the 196th Light Infantry Brigade and subsequently by the 7th Marine Regiment. All I ever knew was the call sign Charger Dustoff, which came and took our Vietnamese wounded about 25 kilometers southeast to the 91st Evacuation Hospital at Chu Lai.

The Vietnamese preferred Charger to the Vietnamese dustoffs, first because Charger would come in a hurry while the Vietnamese pilots took their time about it, and second, as their lieutenants told me, the American doctors would work to save a limb whereas the Vietnamese surgeons simply whacked off a damaged arm or leg, making the survivor a beggar for life.

Thanks to Google, I learned that Charger was part of the 236th Medical Detachment out of Da Nang. They initially were assigned to the 196th at Baldy. But when the 196th left Baldy to the 7th Marine Regiment, Charger stayed around, operating out of Hawk Hill, about 16 klicks southeast of Baldy.

And so we used them through December of 1969 when I left Moc Bai to take a desk job at province headquarters in Hoi An. Two stories, one about their pique at having their time wasted and a second one about their fearlessness:

One morning we had a Vietnamese troop who was losing a lot of blood from multiple gunshot wounds while we waited for Charger to come get him. But the medics couldn’t stop the bleeding and he died just as the bird was settling into our little LZ. The pilots were pissed off, partly at our wasting their time and partly because they didn’t much like ferrying wounded Vietnamese anyway. But before they could lay into me about it, they got a call from an American unit and flew off to take care of them.

The other story is about one time after midnight on radio watch when I heard a Marine lieutenant come up on the 7th Regiment’s artillery net seeking a medevac for a dying troop on a distant hilltop under fire. He was told to forget it because the big, twin-rotor CH-46 they used couldn’t be risked for one guy.

At that news the lieutenant broke down and started begging. I got his freq and connected him with Charger who were only too happy to fly into a hot LZ in the dark to get his man. This was at a time when few aircraft of any kind flew at night in Vietnam, let alone helicopters. They got him out safely and I heard later that the wounded young Marine survived. I also heard that the regimental XO was mighty pissed at me for interfering in Marine business.

John Kerry: Moral Midget

Bill Kristol on Twitter: John Kerry entered public life 45 years ago slandering his fellow American servicemen. He leaves it slandering America’s finest ally.

Lurch singlehandedly created the “baby killer” meme which dogged us for decades. Now he ignores the 500,000 Syrians killed in favor of slandering Israel.

Good riddance to a moral midget.

Via Twitter

Bob Dylan was never my poet

I sorta liked “A Hard Rain Is A’Gonna Fall,” but otherwise. Folk music was a joke. And the hard rain didn’t really fall. LBJ retired to the ranch. The only people who got really wet were us veterans of his fuckedup war. Howsomeever.

“We are not a folk but a church, and our native music is church music–the Battle Hymn with its quotation of Isaiah 63, for example, or “The Year of Jubilo,” whose hymnal roots I analyzed here. Our popular poetic language is that of our national epic, the King James Bible. We sang the go-to-meeting songs of the Methodists and other Protestant denominations. This informed the spirituals of black slaves who gave us our first original art form. American folk music? Gospel is as close as we get to such a concept.”

The most authentic thing Dylan ever did—besides going electric—was to refuse to go accept his Nobel Prize for Literature. He knew he was a phony.

Read the rest from a practicing Modern Orthodox Jew.

Sanity returns to the Air Force

warthogs

The A-10 Thunderbolt II’s retirement is being rethunk. Good news for the groundpounders, for whom air support from the fast movers always was problematic.

I once flagged a passing F-4 Phantom for air support and was shocked to watch it fling a 250-pounder (the smallest bomb it had at the time) farther than desired: right into the outskirts of a friendly village. The Thunderbolt II, whose pilots call it the Warthog, carries only 10-pounder rockets, in addition to its 30mm rotary nose cannon, and is slow enough to be a lot more accurate.

“Air Force maintainers are also preparing to replace the wings of the A-10 fleet, tapping a $2 billion contract originally awarded to Boeing in 2007, which was intended at the time to keep the fleet flying until 2028. Some corrosion of the planes has been seen at the depots, but Pawlikowski says this is to be expected, especially on an aircraft that has been in service since 1977.”

Their wings likely corrode faster because they fly low and (relatively) slow and stir up and collect a lot of dirt, dust and vegetative derbis. The Warthog could do a lot more damage to ISIS than any fast mover. Sure wish we’d had them in Vietnam.

Via Popular Mechanics

Adios, Cassius Clay

His death really isn’t a surprise. His head injuries from boxing could have done him in years ago. But septic shock from a respiratory ailment (according to the ever-fallible snooze media) seems indicative of something besides the usual truth that hospitals are pretty dangerous places.

In the face of the usual storm of encomiums for a celebrity, let me add my iconoclastic two cents. He was a good boxer with a big mouth and a talent for self-promotion. I really did like watching him fight and laughing at his antics. He got the shit beat out of him occasionally and that was sad.

And his head injuries limited him ever after. But then I remember he dodged the draft without consequences. Not that many others didn’t as well. I didn’t like that either. But it didn’t endear him to me. The Muslim conversion was pretty stupid, about what you’d expect from a not-very-well educated American black. And the anti-Semitism that has flowed from it is what you get from Muslims.

His was complicated by having a Jewish grandson.

Adios, Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali. Enjoy perfect health in the hereafter where you will undoubtedly learn, if you pay attention, that Mighty Mo was a fraud all along. And, no, you don’t get any virgins or raisins.

R.I.P. Joe Bol

joebol

Joe Bol, friend, OCS classmate, rare reader and occasional commenter here, passed on to the next world Wednesday, from complications of multiple medical problems. Adios, Joe, see you again on the turnaround and may our next incarnations not include a thankless political travesty like the Vietnam War.

Via his adopted son Joseph Bol.

UPDATE:  Obit for Joe with updated photo. Pity for the misspellings and the usual military ignorance of our non-serving, self-centered fellow citizens. Thus he is credited with a Bronze Medal for Vietnam, as if he had been competing in the Olympics. It’s Bronze Star Medal, of course. Nothing at all about where he went to school or his occupation after the war. I don’t know the former but, IIRC, he was an accountant for the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority, which promotes professional athletics, horse racing, etc.

Hoi An, the colonial Williamsburg of Vietnam

HoiAn

Another from OCS bud Jay Fortun. My old stomping ground of Hoi An (first half of 1970) was a major stop on the ancient Europe-to-China sea route around Africa called the Silk Road. As such the seaside town of about 120,000 today has long had warehouses and villas built by Dutch, Portuguese and Japanese.

My Advisory Team 15’s compound was believed to have been built by the East India Company. Subject of one of my short stories in Leaving The Alamo and more in my novel The Butterfly Rose.

Hanoi is now promoting the little port for tourism, including building hotels, and Jay says the crowds of foreigners show it’s working. Even UNESCO is in on the act, branding the core area of about five by five city blocks a historical preservation site.