Skip to comments.The FReeper Foxhole Profiles "A Hillside Near Khe Sanh" - June 26th, 2004
Posted on 06/26/2004 12:08:48 AM PDT by snippy_about_it
are acknowledged, affirmed and commemorated.
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Capt. Gerald O. Young
The severely injured HH-3E pilot laid his life on the line to save a rescue force from disaster.
Shortly after midnight on Nov. 9, 1967, Capt. Gerald O. Young, an instructor pilot with the 37th Air Rescue and Recovery Squadron, Da Nang, headed his HH-3E Jolly Green Giant toward an area southwest of Khe Sanh.
Low-hanging clouds shrouded 5,000-foot peaks off to his left. Visibility was poor. It wasn't a good night for a rescue mission in the hill country just below the DMZ, but Young was a veteran of 59 combat missions, including as far north as Haiphong. He and his crew had volunteered for this one.
The previous afternoon, a small US-South Vietnamese reconnaissance team had been surrounded by a NVA battalion. Two helicopters had been shot down during a daylight rescue attempt. Young and his crew were flying backup for another Jolly Green, supported by a C-130 flareship and three Army gunships, in a desperate attempt to save the ambushed patrol.
As the rescue force approached the beleaguered team, the enemy opened up with automatic weapons on the escorting gunships. The primary HH-3E moved through heavy fire into the area, now lighted by flares from the C-130. Hovering along a steep slope, its crew picked up three survivors before they were forced to withdraw to an emergency landing area, badly shot up and leaking fuel and oil. The pilot advised Young not to make another attempt under such extremely difficult conditions. Nevertheless, Young decided on one more try, even though the gunships were low on fuel and ammunition and might not be able to stay with them.
Young approached the slope head-on, hovering with one main wheel on the ground and his rotor blades barely clearing the bank above him. His copilot, Capt. Ralph Brower, directed fire from the gunships while Sgt. Larry Mansey leaped to the ground to help the wounded aboard, covered by SSgt. Eugene Clay at one of the chopper's machine guns. The big bird was sprayed by automatic weapons fire while five survivors were pulled aboard. During takeoff, a direct hit exploded one of the Jolly Green's engines, flipping the craft over on its back as it burst into flames and crashed down the hillside.
Young, hanging upside down in his harness, finally escaped through the broken windshield, his clothing on fire. He rolled down the slope to extinguish the flames, which had inflicted second- and third-degree burns on his legs, back, arms, and neck. Then, with his bare hands, he smothered the flames that were consuming a soldier lying nearby who had been thrown clear of the wreckage. Were there other survivors in or near the burning wreck? Young crawled 100 yards up the hill toward the flames, but was driven back by intense heat and enemy fire.
Young knew that daylight would bring a rescue force looking for survivors. The first A-1E Sandys to arrive spotted him and the unconscious man he had rescued. Young tried to warn them of a possible flak trap. He knew that the main rescue force would arrive at any moment and that enemy troops were moving back into the area to oppose them. The only way he could help was by leading the hostiles away from the crash site. In his condition, that meant almost certain capture or death.
He hid the wounded man whom he had rescued earlier and, despite the agony of his burns, took off into the brush, with enemy troops in pursuit. Each step ahead in the long hours of flight was a triumph of will over searing pain as he lured his pursuers farther and farther from the wreckage. After stumbling and crawling for six miles, he eluded the NVA troops late that afternoon, 17 hours after the crash, and called in a helicopter to pick him up.
A rescue force had finally been able to land at the crash site, retrieve one survivor, and recover the bodies of the dead, including that of the man Young had hidden. Young spent six months in hospitals, recovering from his burns. In May 1968, he was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Lyndon Johnson at a ceremony dedicating the Pentagon's Hall of Heroes.
Before retiring as a lieutenant colonel in 1980, Young served at the Air Force Academy, was instrumental in setting up the forerunner of the Air Force Mast Program (which provides helicopter assistance to civilian highway patrols), flew with the VIP transport squadron out of Andrews AFB, Md., and was Air Attache to Colombia.
In 1985, 18 years after his last combat mission, he was asked how he felt about his Vietnam experience? "The air rescue mission was one of the best in the war," he said. "There is no greater compensation than to participate in saving lives."
By that standard, Young was a wealthy man indeed.
By John L. Frisbee, Contributing Editor
...for some did fight to the last man on hill top firebases.
This is so true.
Have had Freeper Foxhole threads make first page hit returns when Googling.
A great way to honor veterans and peak researchers attention : )
Yep, isn't it great! This is sometimes how we hear from authors or family members by freepmail from them googling. We think it's wonderful and helps spread the word about the sacrifices our veterans have made.
Thanks for the book recommendation Light Speed.
Just got back from seening "The Notebook", What a tearjerker!
Oh Oh! Now Snippy will start charging for her autograph. :-)
LOL. I don't think that will pay the rent!
It couldn't hurt.
RE: #20...Ya, I thought I would have been done by last Christmas, Easter at the vary latest but noooooo.
Shoot I will be lucky to be finished by Labor Day, 2005.
Well only one more big project left, gotta put on the new roof. A few things ont the inside and I can get my final inspection from the fine folks at the building codes office.
I hated roofing work, always seemed top be the hpttest days of the year wehnever I did that work.
For every insertion like this one that was detected and stopped, dozens of others safely slipped past NVA lines to strike a wide range of targets and collect vital information. The number of MACV-SOG missions conducted with Special Forces reconnaissance teams into Laos and Cambodia was 452 in 1969. It was the most sustained American campaign of raiding, sabotage and intelligence-gathering waged on foreign soil in US military history. MACV-SOG's teams earned a global reputation as one of the most combat effective deep-penetration forces ever raised.
From MAYSEY, LARRY WAYNE
LAOS : PANHANDLE U.S., Royal Laotian, and VNAF aircraft continued their attacks on traffic along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. During 1967, B-52s flew 1,718 sorties in this area, almost triple their 1966 record. The major targets were trucks which had to be hunted down and destroyed one-by-one. This seemed to be irrational thinking to many Americans flying these combat missions for these trucks could have been destroyed en masse before, during, or after their unloading from the ocean freighters that had hauled them to North Vietnam if bombing of Haiphong had been permitted.
Note: I will be happy to fax the four-page story The Day It Became the Longest War by the Marine aide present at the White House meeting in November of 1965 at which Lyndon Baines Johnson told the Joint Chiefs no they would not be allowed to bomb Hanoi and mine Haiphong harbor.
How many American deaths did Johnson thereby insure would occur? Did he thereby assure our eventual defeat--albeit by the fifth column of Cronkite, Fonda and Kerry.
From Young's Park
UH-1B with side mounting M134 minigun and seven-tube 2.75 inch rocket launcher on M21 armament subsystem.
From the Why Did We Bother Department:
1917 1st American Expeditionary Force arrive in France during WW I
Hill 861A makes Roark's Drift look like a game of patty-cake.
Took years for the story to become known, too many witnesses died, too many with their exploits unsung. Remember all officers and senior non-coms were killed. Nobody to write the citations, and Khe Sanh was a busy and dangerous place.
This seemed to be irrational thinking to many Americans flying these combat missions for these trucks could have been destroyed en masse before, during, or after their unloading from the ocean freighters that had hauled them to North Vietnam if bombing of Haiphong had been permitted.
It should seem like insanity to anyone. Only a politician could come up with such a stupid plan.
Not only once but twice in the last century did we save france's butt for all the good it did.
Thanks for the story on Hill 861A. I'd be interested in the sources you have. I've only read general histories on Khe Sahn.
looks interesting. In case there is no link, it is The Hill Fights : The First Battle of Khe Sanh by EDWARD F. MURPHY
Read Hammel in my last, not du Hamel. Amazon does not list it.
Thanks. I know that feeling.
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