Happy Valley & Samurai IV
29 MARCH 1968
following is a running dialog of Intruders' recollections of this action.
Official After Action Report by MAJ Bobby Sinclair, 281st AHC Executive Officer and Air Mission Commander
There is an audio CD recording available of
the 29 March 1968 portion of this mission.
|Subject: Coming Home
Date: Sat, 10 Apr 1999 19:43:00 -0700
From: joe macarthy <email@example.com>
To: Trubee Krothe <TRUBEETR3@aol.com>
My view returning to Phu Bai
|[Photo by Joe MacCartney]|
Subject: Re: Coming Home
Date: Tue, 20 Apr 1999 18:54:39 -0700
From: Joe MacCartney <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: "Kenneth D. Smith" <email@example.com>
Ken, sorry that I've been so late in returning your email. OK, then about the photo. That has been a real problem for me also. Memory Holes, don't ya just love 'em. This was returning from an insertion or recovery and I wasn't the hole ship. This was at Phu Bai, just outside the camp Eagle perimeter. That's the Phu Bai I remember. Anyway it was before August 69, 'cause that's when I DeeDeed 'Nam. I have looked at the original photo to try and determine if those areas on the "street" is water, and if so then it would mean that it could have been much earlier in the year or even in the "Wet Season" of the previous year (1968). Does any of that help?
Subject: Re: Coming Home
Date: Wed, 21 Apr 1999 13:25:12 -0700
From: "Kenneth D. Smith" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: "Joe MacCartney" <email@example.com>
Thanks for the reply. That is the same Hue Phu-Bai that I remember all too well. I was there in MAR '68 on Delta Samurai IV. I was just an FNG peter pilot. I got tired of getting rocketed every other night. I especially got tired of running to the bunkers w/incoming. Everyone must have thought I was crazy, but I built a bunker/bedroom on the southwest end of the pilots tent. It was constructed of three wide sandbags stacked vertically for a roof that was about 6' 6''. The roof was some boards & sheet metal covered with one each, O.D. in color army issue poncho for rain protection. I made windows out of 105 mm ammo boxes & rocket boxes. It was about 7' X 7' on the inside, and had such amenities as a built in fold out writing desk made from a rocket box that used the lid as the writing surface/door. I slept through the rest of the rocket attacks; I may have been crazy, but I didn't have to run to a bunker anymore. The rocket attacks also decreased after I finished the sandbag hooch. I, therefore, surmised that I help everyone by decreasing the rocket activity.
The event that many of us Bandits & some Wolf Pack will never forget is Happy Valley. A Delta recon team encountered a large unit of NVA dug in at Happy Valley. We inserted the ARVN Ranger Battalion to find out that we had stepped on a regimental size unit of NVA. Holy Shit, we got it kicked out of us that day. I was peter pilot on the last ship to make it out of that LZ. I was flying "Rescue One". I think that I Ed Young was my A/C. Our crew chief had fashioned a set of twin sixties to adapt on the standard door gun mount on the H-model slick. I attribute our exit untouched by enemy fire to luck and those blazing M-60s. They were of course on the A/C's side of the slick. Rescue Two got shot down, as we were exiting the LZ. We abandoned any further attempt to extract either the rangers or our downed pilots. The Marine Gunships that were supporting us refused to help any other attempt (one of there guns & I think two CH-46 slicks got shot down that day along with two of our H-Models). They (Marines) insisted on "fast movers" & artillery to move the Rangers & our downed pilots of the LZ. Below is an account of the same written by Cpt. (then 1st Luey) John Wehr. I can tell you I was never so happy to leave anywhere in my entire life. We left H-Pu Bai with two cases of beer opened in the back of an H-model. Beer was going everywhere. Did you ever try to piss out the open door of a Huey? I can tell you it doesn't work as can all the rear seat occupants of the H-model.
For grins check out the A&D section of the 281st web page for 29 MAR 68. That was the day we met Ho's boys in Happy Valley, just a klick or two over the ridge from A Shau.
John Wehr's Memory follows:
Do you remember CW2 Ed Young an older pilot, from Arkansas coal country who
didn't have his first pair of shoes until High School or so he claimed. He
was a great guy and I have been trying to locate him for a number of years.
The last time I saw him was in 1970 as I was finishing up the Instrument
Flight Examiners Course at Ft. Rucker. He was an Instructor Pilot for the
Huey Tactics phase. A couple times we met at the O'Club for Happy Hour and
talked about old times. A great guy, lot of guts and grit, I'd like to
E. Young was hit in Nha Trang as he virtually walked into an 82MM Mortar
round that exploded below the back steps of the officers hooch. He was
coming down the back stairs and took the blast in the chest, arms and lower
body area. I thought he was KIA but lived through 11 hours of surgery at the
8th Field Army Hospital, eventually coming to back to the unit and finished
the combat tour. Ed was with us at Hue Phu Bai, the dark day in Happy
Valley, the single ship LZ that had stacked up shot down birds. While going
into the LZ, ED was the one on the radio yelling that his finger was shot off
as he looked down between his legs and observed a finger and blood on the
floor of the aircraft. The finger belonged a grunt in the back, hit with
automatic weapons fire. Ed picked up the finger and tossed it out the window
and hauled butt to a Medi-Vac aid station pad at Hue Phu Bai. I never will
forget those series of radio calls from E. Young. I was the next bird that
ran a gauntlet of automatic weapons fire while inserting troops and got out
of the hell hole. The finger incident is funny know but not then.
Better go talk with you more later.........
Subject: 29 MAR 68, Happy Valley & Samurai IV
Date: Tue, 11 May 1999 01:23:03 -0700
From: "Kenneth D. Smith" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: "Wendell Allen" <Wendell50@aol.com>
Looking at the website, I noted that you were part of that horrific day in Happy Valley when we left all that aircraft carnage and our pilots on the ground. I am writing to you (& CC:ing a few from the group who might have similar memories of this day) to see if you can help me recreate some of the details of that day. The entire Samurai IV Delta generated 35 awards for valor from PH to DFC's. I also counted (from the website) that 29 MAR was the highest day for medals w/17, the 16th of March was second w/16; there were 8 on the 14th & 3 on the 13th.
I'm trying to remember who the aircraft commander, crew chief & door gunner were on my Bandit slick. What I recall is that we were flying "Rescue" and were the first rescue ship. We went into the LZ to pick up a downed slick crew. We were the last slick to make it out of the LZ. Rescue 2 came in behind us & never left. We wanted to go back, but the Marines refused. They had lost two CH-46 slicks & a gunship already. They refused to support anymore attempts to recover pilots or troops (ARVN Ranger Battalion) from that LZ. They insisted on fast movers & artillery to move the ground troops to a safe LZ.
I may have been flying with Ed Young, but I'm not sure. John Wehr reminded me that Ed was screaming in the radio that he had lost his finger, but it was someone else's finger that had landed on the him or in his immediate vicinity. The Bandit aircraft that we were (I was in) had been cleverly fitted with twin sixties by the crew chief. The sixties were mounted on the AC's side of the ship. I would like to have this day remembered as well as the whole Hue-Phu Bai experience. I had only been in country since Jan (two weeks before Tet). This was my only Delta Mission, somehow the Bandits seemed to get passed over for Deltas. I sometimes wonder if it was our small unit size or the fact that we got hammered so bad during Samurai IV.
Many thanks if you can help in recounting this episode. I note that a lot of the pilots listed in the awards section for this period are not a part of our current 281st Roster.
Ken Smith CW2
281st Bandit 68/JAN/69
Subject: Re: 29 MAR 68, Happy Valley & Samurai IV
Date: Wed, 12 May 1999 17:35:33 EDT
I WAS ONE OF THE GUYS YOU PULLED OUT THAT DAY. I HAD TAKEN A CREW OF 281ST TECH'S IN ( ON THE SAME SLICK WITH THE MARINES) TO TRY TO RECOVER ONE OF OUR SLICKS THAT HAD BEEN DOWNED. MAJ. RUSKAUFF THOUGHT IT MIGHT STILL BE FLYABLE.
IT WASN'T AND WE STARTED TAKING FIRE FROM THE MINUTE WE WERE ON THE GROUND. I WAS ABLE TO GET MY GUYS OVER TO A CRATER ON THE FAR SIDE OF THE LZ. YOU SURE WERE A PRETTY SIGHT WHEN WE SAW YOU COMING IN. I UNDERSTAND THAT THE MARINES WHO WENT IN WITH US TO TRY AND GET THEIR BIRDS OUT WOUND UP AS POW'S UNTIL THE VERY END.
WENDELL (WRENCHBENDER 4)