The wench and cable on the CH46

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The wench and cable on the CH46

Postby donald » Tue Jul 23, 2013 11:37 pm

First time I ever rode in a chopper was from VCB to Hill 950 to join the company in August of '68.
I noticed the cable wench mounted over the cargo hatch. I always looked forward to watching the crew chief operate it. Hauling up stretcher cases and using the horse collar during medivac was, to me, a cool thing to do. I told myself that if I ever got the chance I was going operate it. My chance came on July 4th '69.
The company moved into the NVA bunker complex south of Khe Shan on the third. We got ambushed by 4 gooks behind a rain mound. The ambush was beaten of. I had to take my fire team on LP to the ambush site. That night our perimeter was mortared by our own 81's with WP. The Marines that were in the position ,where I would have been, were severely wounded.
The next day I got orders to rotate, I was short so myself and all other short timers in the regiment were to be transferred to 1/9.
That's when I got my chance.
All choppers flew in pairs, A guy working shore party told me that when they came in they were going to use a horse collar on me because of the trees.
When the first chopper came, in the NVA came out of their holes and opened fire. The chopper was directly over head when it got hit . It started to smoke, tried to fly off but crashed. In the interim two Huey gunships, two cobras and two OV10 Broncos showed up and orbited the LZ. They took turns strafing the gooks with machine gun fire and rockets. Every one
dove for cover, except me.
I stood there in the middle of all this calmly watching the planes make their passes.
The next chopper came in and lowered the horse collar. I had all my gear on. I put the collar on over my pack and under my arms. when I started to lift off a guy from S2 ran up and handed me a large wicker bag and an AK 47 and told me to take them to S2. When I got up to the cargo hatch I didn't fit. The crew chief grabbed the bag and rifles. then they polled me in( I almost fell out). We had go around and pick up a stretcher case. Brauer had collapsed with malaria. The corpsmen had strapped him to a medivac stretcher. The crew chief started to run down the cable, I stood up and said, "I can do it, Go fly the chopper". HE DID!!! I ran the cable down, they hooked up Brauer, then I lifted him up. As soon as he left the ground, the stretcher started to spin with the auto gyration of the chopper.
All this time we were taking ground fire.I could see NVA on the ground running through the trees and shooting up at us. The two crew men were firing their 50's. The rounds hitting the ship sounded like hail on a tin roof. I could see holes of light everywhere. Shrapnel was sliding around on the flight deck. The other support aircraft were busy firing at the gooks, while flying around us. I could fell my heart go BA WHOMP PA, BA WHOMP PA, BA WHOMP PA. Everything seemed to move in slow motion.
I finally got Brauer up to the cargo hatch. I stood over the hatch reached down with my left hand grabbed the stretcher strap, unclipped the cable with my right and in on motion I yanked Brauer
into the ship. I stood up and yelled, "I got him let's go".
We flew to the fire support base about 3 miles away, landed, I handed a crewman the bag and AK then got off. The chopper took off. I walked over to a pile of sandbags and sat down. I lit a cigaret and watched the rest of the firefight. As I did I noticed the silence around me. I looked over my left shoulder then my right. The gun crews were standing by their guns in silence with their mouths open, staring at me. A few minutes later another chopper came, I put out my cigaret, boarded the chopper and left.
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