483rd Maintenance Detachment
Assault Helicopter Company

[Photo by Gary Stagman]

483rd Maintenance Detachment

June 1966 - May 1967 - CPT Stanley J. (Rudy) Morud was the first CO of the Maintenance Det., and was the Commander who took it to Vietnam. Rudy was a World War II fighter pilot and had a reputation for operating construction equipment with the best of them. He was responsible for a lot of the grading and prep for latrines for the maintenance area, and initially setting up the maintenance tent on 55 gal. drums so some of the heavy maintenance work could be done. Rudy was medically evacuated to Japan and retired upon returning to the states. 1SG McClendon, the initial 1SG, transferred to the 119th AHC after the unit arrived in country. 1SG Osborne replaced him.

67 - MAJ Richard D. McMillin,OF102360, TC, CO. 
1SG Jack R. Addis, Oct 66 - Oct 67

67 - 8 Feb. 68 - MAJ Donald Ruskauff, CO. 
1SG Robert (Bob) Ohmes, July 67 - July 68

Feb. 68, MAJ Stephen L. Smith, CO. 
1SG Robert (Bob) Ohmes, July 67- July 68

The final Morning Report for the 483rd dated 26 January 1969 reads: 

No Pers asg 0 atch 0
final M/R 26 Jan 69 rec
trf HQ DA Forscom

Signed by: L. Paul Morsen
Admin Officer
WO1 Avn

Stories by Don Budlong, 281st Engine Shop 2/68-1/70

Maintenance Murphy's Law 1970's Style

It was another great day in the Intruder Maintenance Hanger. All the
maintenance personnel were working on the aircraft in the hanger doing whatever was scheduled to be done. The stereo in the hanger was playing their favorite music, "We Gotta Get Out of this Place".  I was being the nosy Maintenance Sgt., so I was wandering around the maintenance area seeing the progress on each aircraft and getting estimates from the teams as to when the aircraft would possibly be done, and when I should tell our friendly Maintenance Officer/Test Pilot an approximate time his services would be required.  

There wasn't a big push for aircraft, as we had plenty for the scheduled missions and extras on the flight line to cover any that might developed any problems prior to mission take offs. Things were just going too good this day. The Prop and Rotor guys were scoping a head and blades for installation on a "Charlie" Model. Another was in for an unscheduled engine change. Another team was on the flight line helping to take care of any maintenance issues that the flight platoons needed some help with.    A phase was in its last part of being finished, except for a skid change. Just before they were getting ready to push the aircraft outside so I could lift it up with the wrecker for the skid change, I told one of the younger Maintenance Mechanics to loosen all the bolts holding the skids to the cross tubes. So the team installed the ground handling wheels, one of them hung on the stinger to make it easier for the others to jack up the ground handling wheels. 

As they were jacking up the aircraft, all at once the aircraft moved back and collapsed flat on the floor, the landing gear had folded up!! I could not explain the look that must of been on my face when that happened. CAPT. Attwood was standing on the deck above the hanger floor when this happened. He hit the steps running, "What the HELL happened?" I said "I don't know". We went over and looked at the landing gear and instead of the mechanic loosening the bolts, he removed all of them, thus making a retractable landing gear. All I could think of is, "AW S**T, why me"?? I positioned the wrecker in the open bay next to the pancaked aircraft and set the out riggers. I hoisted the aircraft up until we could get jacks under all the jack points. 

After inspection we found that the aft hard points were torn up from the pad on the cross tube. Jerry, one of the civilian DynCorp sheet metal men, said, "I can fix that."  So off to the Air Force he headed. He came back later with all the information he needed.  Yes, they had the type metal he required and the cherry loc rivets he needed to do the job, so he proceeded to get the torn up parts removed from the aircraft. Once removed, he took them to the Airframe shop and the Air Force guys helped to fabricate the new parts. It took about a week, and the aircraft was back on its skids ready for test flight.  I really couldn't rant and rave at the young mechanic, as he did it like he thought I had said to do it. So whenever you tell someone to do something, make sure that you explain "EXACTLY" how you want it done. 

That's the story to the best of my knowledge, and I'm sticking to it!!

Hope you enjoyed one of my experiences. I don't know of any pictures of this. I would love to see them if any exist. 


Gary Stagman

Subject: [281AHC] AC orders?
Date: Mon, 29 Jan 2001 17:41:46 -0500
From: "John Galkiewicz" <galkie@hotmail.com>
To: 281ahc@yahoogroups.com

This question just came to mind, did anyone get through a year in the 281st and yet did not make AC or almost did not make AC? Did anyone leave after a year and not make CW-2 or 1st LT.

Subject: Re: [281AHC] AC orders?
Date: Mon, 29 Jan 2001 16:34:38 -0800
From: Paul Swol <swol@mcn.org>
To: 281AHC@yahoogroups.com

A whole bunch of us enlisted types

Subject: [281AHC] AC orders?
Date: Mon, 29 Jan 2001 21:40:46 -0500
From: "John Galkiewicz" <galkie@hotmail.com>
To: 281ahc@yahoogroups.com

There are quite a few things in life that I wish I could take back or do different. That email about not making AC or CW-2 or 1st LT is one of those. I hope I don't get an answer on that one and I don't want one now either. And I apologize for it.  Why, because we all learned from our year over there. Some of us learn in different ways than others and some of us faster and slower than the rest. There seems to be a reason for everything and the way things work out the way they do, only thing is that sometimes it takes a heck of a long time before that piece of the puzzle fits in with the piece we now have in our hand.
Getting home in one piece was the prize we were all after. What we have done with that prize to now is what counts. I do believe though that put in harms way with bullets coming through the cockpit and people hurt, there wasn't a one of us who would have froze on the controls instead of waiting the few extra seconds for that one last guy to get on then pulling pitch with the best of 'em. We all take our turns in life and for some of us those turns didn't come 'till way after 'Nam was over with.
If I have offended anyone I am sorry.

Subject: [281AHC] Maintenance
Date: Tue, 30 Jan 2001 09:09:18 -0600
From: "Robert Ohmes" <rohmes@kc.rr.com>
To: <281AHC@yahoogroups.com>

Hey, Galkie and all:
Read your message yesterday and it led me to thinking about my tour in Nam and all that went on--your question,  while it didn't bother me, made me think about the poor slugs who stayed back in the Allied Shop area and the Maintenance Hangar and did their jobs---sometimes the same thing day after day and very long hours.

[Photo by Gary Stagman]

They weren't able to come home and tell about their "glory" days unless they had very active imaginations and could make up some wild stories (usually told to them by someone else). There was the man who worked in the engine shop and repacked short shafts--just think how many thousand hours did a unit fly in a year's time and then divide that by 25 to get the approximate number of short shafts this poor E-4 or E-5 had to repack for his tour in Nam. Or, inspect the hot end of an engine, realign a rotor head, repair the radios, buck the rivets, repack the bearings on push-pull tubes, and the many other 100s of small jobs needed to be done by the maintenance people to keep the aircraft flying. All the time, the Maintenance Officer was yelling to get the aircraft out to keep availability up to 80%. These guys don't have great stories to tell to their kids or grandkids but their jobs, I feel, were just as important to the overall mission as the pilots, crewchiefs and gunners. I know that I yelled alot at these kids myself to get things done----some days they didn't feel like working and neither did I. But I was and am very proud of the work they accomplished. Many of you are here now because of their dedicated work. Guess I will get off my soapbox--I have preached enough today.
Bob Ohmes

[Photo by Paul Swol]

Subject: Re: [281AHC] Maintenance
Date: Tue, 30 Jan 2001 08:04:03 -0800
From: Paul Swol <swol@mcn.org>
To: 281AHC@yahoogroups.com

Right on Bob!!!!

Subject: Re: [281AHC] Maintenance
Date: Tue, 30 Jan 2001 13:00:44 EST
From:  nckmmk@cs.com
To: 281AHC@yahoogroups.com

That is okay Bob............you can get on your soap box anytime. I think you are preaching to the choir though as each one of us young crazy pilots knew exactly how much time your maintenance guys put in to keep us in the air. Maybe we didn't say thank you enough so here is a big THANK YOU......thirty two years later but never too late. 

Subject: Re: [281AHC] Maintenance
Date: Tue, 30 Jan 2001 13:39:39 EST
From: JWG3RD@aol.com
To:  281AHC@yahoogroups.com

Fred wrote and said Bobs message was beautiful. I totally agree, but would like to carry it one step further. The need for all of us to reach out and find all the unsung hero's is absolutely priority one. I knew quite a few of the maintenance and operations people, but not all of them. It was easy to fly back to Nha Trang, get out, file the after action paperwork and head to the house. Many hours of hard work followed, being accomplished by those people who worked long into the nite without much chance of a air medal or even some tales of danger and intrigue to tell his grandchildren. Lou, I hope you can get some of these names onboard so we can all express our gratitude for the job they did. I didn't get to thank them then, so maybe I can do so at some future event.
Thanks Bob for bringing the subject up. Operation Lifesaver all the way.
Jack Green

Subject: Re: [281AHC] Maintenance
Date: Tue, 30 Jan 2001 10:46:06 -0800 (PST)
From: jack interstein <jint_10306@yahoo.com>
To:  281AHC@yahoogroups.com



Subject: Re: [281AHC] Maintenance
Date: Tue, 30 Jan 2001 13:02:47 -0600
From:  Steve Matthews <webmaster@281stahc.org>
To:  281AHC@yahoogroups.com

I agree that there were ALOT of guys who served in RVN and had important but boring, tedious or otherwise mundane jobs. (Life is still like that for most of us.) But, I think two things on that account.  

First, there were no insignificant jobs in Vietnam! I know it's easy to say, but anybody who served in the Army long enough to really know what the Army was all about knows that EVERY job contributes to the mission accomplishment and is therefore critical. I was a FA service battery Cdr. at Ft Lewis after my second RVN tour, and I know first hand how the combat MOS types love to take the glory and shun the grease monkeys, wrench benders and other support guys. But, I made sure my troops KNEW they were mission critical. Without them there would be no mission accomplishment, no mission capability even. so,......... 

Second, I remember ALOT of flying hours when SHIT just didn't happen. Boring, cross-country ash&trash missions that we flew when we weren't in the field. Fortunately, we had RECONDO to break up the shit missions, but there were still
alot of those. Also, I've observed that some guys, regardless of what seat or where stationed they had their own excitement, rocket & mortar attacks, sappers, accidents of all kinds, etc. Some guys had the kind of tours you see in the movies, some of us had the kind of tours that we could go home without nightmares, flashbacks and survivor guilt. Everybody had a different experience, even in the 281st. 

Subject: [281AHC] Maintenance
Date: Tue, 30 Jan 2001 14:36:41 -0600
From:  "Robert Ohmes" <rohmes@kc.rr.com>
To:  "281AHC@yahoogroups. com" <281AHC@yahoogroups.com>

Norm: I wasn't looking for a "Thank you" from anyone---I just thought that with so many speaking about the pilots, those poor guys who worked on the choppers should be remembered---their thanks were the safety of everyone on those choppers. It's pretty obvious that they couldn't control what happened when the ships were airborne other than to have them safe as can be to start off. And, they did work hard and long hours to maintain them. In all sincerity, they earned much more than they gave and I know that they know they did their best to help during this period of time. Those kids had to all grow up so fast---as you all did! Different degrees of safeness but still in danger.

Subject: Re: [281AHC] Maintenance
Date: Sat, 30 Jan 2027 13:35:22 -0600
From:  "Gary Stagman" <COOTER@Charter.Net>
To: <281AHC@yahoogroups.com>

Why thanks alot!!!!!!! Bob when he was there said he had the best, heck when I was back there in 1970, I felt that I had the best. Well, the 281st I feel did have the best maintenance personnel in the country.
 [Photo by Gary Stagman]

Subject: Re: [281AHC] Maintenance
Date: Tue, 30 Jan 2001 15:52:48 EST
From: Mitchellrw@aol.com
To: 281AHC@yahoogroups.com

Spoken like the great CSM that you are Bob. You are the soldiers' soldier without doubt and truly THE Sergeants' Major. I am sorry I missed serving with you. Thank you for being our conscience and reminding us of the guys who were always there for us when we didn't have a clue. The thankless jobs that were done on a daily basis, behind the scenes are the ones that made the 281st the great unit that it was. 
Bob Mitchell 

Subject: [281AHC] Re: Maintenance
Date: Tue, 30 Jan 2001 22:53:17 -0000
From:  jhyatt53@airmail.net
To: 281AHC@yahoogroups.com

Well said Bob. I often think about the crew with me at C-3 in 1966. We kept the B model in a sand pit at the A/82d Avn Co. Tools, guns and supplies were kept in a CONEX. We had to hitch a ride from the aircraft to the SF area. Everyday after flying all day the CE never failed to complete the Daily and he kept the aircraft spotless -even if it meant getting back to the hooch well after dark. I think I have a photo of him on his knees brushing sand off the engine deck. We never missed a mission because of maintenance.  We all had different jobs, none was more important than the other - just different.
John H. 

Subject: Re: [281AHC] Maintenance
Date: Tue, 30 Jan 2001 17:57:37 EST
To:  281AHC@yahoogroups.com

Bob, you beat me to it. I was one of those men that worked day and night to keep the aircraft flying and ready to go. There where times that we worked all night with flash lights to get these flying machines up in the air..... My self I spent most of the time up in the action area. And when I returned to base camp we did our work no matter what it was. Sure there where times we just hanger grunts but we got those boys up in the air. And all of us worked together to get the men off the ground in to safe area's. My hat is off to you. And to all that worked on the ground.... Welcome home. 
Joe Baldwin  SFC 67-68 

Date: Tue, 30 Jan 2001 17:09:02 -0600
From: "Murray, Jeff" <jeff.murray@bankofamerica.com>
To: 281AHC@yahoogroups.com

Maintenance was a mystery to me during my RVN year but as I progressed through the aviator ranks the hanger became almost a second home to me. We owe those guys much more than we can ever let them know.

Subject: Re: [281AHC] Maintenance
Date: Tue, 30 Jan 2001 18:17:37 -0500
From: "Craig Albee" <craigalbee@earthlink.net>
To: <281AHC@yahoogroups.com>

The greatest honor in my life has been the ten months I was so closely associated with our service platoon. We worked, we flew and we cried together with only one purpose, to keep the "zoomies" in the air. Bob you have rekindled a flood of wonderful memories for me. I doubt if anyone appreciated these guys anymore than I and we had a few stories like recovering the huey Steve Bovio was shot down in or the soldier in Kontum who crashed through the fence in a wrecker and jumped in the back of the huey we were trying to test-fly. The maintenance guys were always there when you needed them, a finer bunch I have never before or since known.
Craig Albee Intruder 46

Subject:  Re: [281AHC] Re: Maintenance
Date: Wed, 31 Jan 2001 02:31:10 -0500
From:  "John Galkiewicz" <galkie@hotmail.com>
To:  281AHC@yahoogroups.com

I remember early on looking back at the crew after we had reached the bottom of the clouds and were now headed home after a long day. Many times I saw both slumped over in sleep but didn't think much of it. I later found out about the long hours spent by the crew making sure "their" ship was in top shape for the next day. Then throw in on top of that night guard duty.  Then turn it up a notch with a hard landing or two and maybe even a crash for some. There are a lot of stories behind the stories. I wonder just how many times us FNGs were in greater danger from getting shot by our crew chiefs for messing with their bird then from Charlie? I wonder if my picture was on Johnnie Huges' dart board for crashing old 129 the "Hero Death Ship" of Happy Valley fame, with him in it too. I can't even remember if we ever flew together after that. What a ride that was. Some good came out that though, I got my A&P because of it and it saved my life a couple of times many years later.

Subject: Re: [281AHC] Maintenance
Date: Wed, 31 Jan 2001 07:58:23 -0500
From:  "James R. Torbert" <torbert@bigplanet.com>
To: 281AHC@yahoogroups.com

All this talk about maintenance reminds me of several stories. I arrived in Nam in Nov68. When someone saw on my records that I had been to test pilot school it was decided that I would have TDY orders to go visit several units throught the country to see how they were doing maint, before go to the 281st. When I finally arrived in Nha Trang, MAJ Miller had three top test pilots in Joe Fox, Ted Untalian? (Dosker, check spelling) and a WO Nelson?(I think that was his name) So the MAJ said I was to fly for several months. I started in Wolf Pack, because they wanted me to get C model time and then made the rounds of the flight platoons. Even spent some time in Operations, but never had the motor pool. Anyway after all this TDY to visit others it didn't take me long to realize we really had the best team in country.

A lot of my flight time was at night in order to get the birds ready for the AM. This team would work all night and then keep on if it wasn't right. And if I remember the crew chief was usually right there the whole time his ship was sick.

One night we were changing blades on a C. We had a blade guy who was the best. I think he was a SP5, don't remember his name, but he was from South St. Louis and we talked forever in the night of all the great pasta places. He was just a kid, and really missed his girl back home. I say kid, he was probably 19, I was all of 25. We got the shot up blades changed. All run up test and ground test were in the green. We got clearance for main runway as SF was firing mortors and it was about 3 am. Just after lift all hell broke lose. It was a better ride than six flags. I declaired and abort and got the bird stopped on the end of the runway. Pissed the air force off, as the tower woke up the crash trucks, and a couple of their big birds had to hold till we got off the end of the runway. All of this and this SP5 was in the other pilots seat. He new what was wrong, and after we got the ship back to the area we got it fixed and flying again. Part of it was, it wasn't the same taking off with wolf pack if you didn't have a full load.

We also had an engine guy on our team, I think his name was Birdsong, or something close to that. We had a call of a bird down about five clicks out of Dalat. Bobbie Stanfill and I got our recovery team and went to rig for a sling load. We found the ship in this beautiful meadow, will trees all around. It was a great place for a forced landing. We had been in the LZ for about 15 minutes when we noticed the trees were beginning to move. There was an infantry company on operation in the area, and they offered to provide security while we rigged the bird. Anyway, Birdsong started his inspection, and he couldn't find anything out of place. We put it together, did run up and ground test.
Everything looked good. Birdsong said he felt good enough about it that he would ride back with me. So, I flew back to Nha Trang with Birdsong as Bobbie and crew followed close behind to be recovery(which we didn't need) This time we pissed off the CH -47 guys because they were enroute for sling load when we cancled their mission. Birdsong was the greatest.

I have gone on here for a long time, which I haven't done very often. But I have often wondered about these professionals and all the other team members who gave their best in keeping our ships flying safely. I'll drink to that! 
[Photo by Jim Torbert]                                           
Jim "MOM" Torbert

[Article by Gary Stagman]