26. A Door Gunner's Recollections Of The 134TH by Richard Gose

I was one of the first members of the 134th who joined the unit in February 1967. There were ten or twelve of us who were sent to Ft. Bragg from Ft. Polk where we had just completed infantry training at Tigerland. It wasn't until we were leaving Ft. Polk that we realized we were going to be door gunners. Not one of us had ever ridden in or had any training in helicopters. We were all 11B10's.


At Ft. Bragg we bunked with the 57th AHC until the 134th was assigned our own barracks. A few weeks before we left for Vietnam, part of the 134th was detached from us and sent to Korea. In the fall of 1967 we flew cross country to the Oakland/San Francisco area. A day or two later we embarked on the SS Pope: stopped in Okinawa for a few hours and eventually landed at Cam Ranh Bay either the day before Thanksgiving or Thanksgiving Day.


After a few days at Cam Ranh the 134th moved to Tuy Hoa/Phu Hiep. We were at Phu Hiep living in tents until we moved to barracks. Tuy Hoa and Phu Hiep were used interchangeably when we referred to where we were stationed.


The majority of my time in-country was spent at An Khe in the Central Highlands. The small detachment at An Khe was more or less permanent although G.I.'s were always coming and going. During and around the time of TET '68 our fire team had brief but intense experiences at Dak To and Pleiku where 632, my ship, was damaged by hostile action. Also at Kontum where our sister company, the 57th from Ft. Bragg, was stationed. The superb flying of WO Wilkerson at Kontum during Tet saved the day for us. I will be forever grateful to him.


I was very fortunate being in the same unit, platoon, and having the same crew chief (Mike Robb), the same gunship (66-16632) and the same NCO (Sgt Richard Lopez) the entire time I was in the army, other than for training. In wartime there is a definite advantage going into a combat area as an intact unit rather than as an individual replacement.


During my time, the 134th lost four men, WO's Reali and Worth and Specialists Hoskins and Loveland. A few years ago when the traveling wall came to Duluth I walked over and said a prayer for them.


Our platoon, the gun platoon, had a few wounded with SP/4 Caldwell being hit in both legs and SP/5 Bittner wounded in his leg.


Another day I will never forget is New Year's Eve, 1967. The Warrant officers should we say excessively celebrated New Year's that night. At the same time the Koreans from the White Horse Division lit up the night sky with ordnance. The combination of these two events was something to witness. The next few days many Warrant Officers found themselves in the company of higher pay grades and in trouble for their celebration that night. In retrospect, as an E-4 it was worth witnessing.


When I Hid My 38

I remember one incident that involved our sub-nose 38 revolvers. To give this account a more understandable perspective the following incident happened during the time frame when PFC Long was doing his infamous, or famous, 30 day tour with the 173rd for trading his weapon.


For some reason known only to the army, the 134th flight crews were issued snub-nosed 38's. We were issued these weapons while the 134th was still at Ft. Bragg. There was a great deal of puzzlement as to why we were issued these Jack Webb weapons. They were more ornaments than anything else.


In country I never came across another unt that was issued this weapon. However, because of the uniqueness it made some GI's envy our 38's. As time went by most of us bought cowboy style holsters from the stores at An Khe to carry our 38's.


At one point we went up to Pleiku and bunked with an unsavory non-flight company. They immediately commented on and expressed admiration for our 38's. Later that afternoon they asked us if we wanted to trade or sell our 38's. They asked us on other occasions that evening to trade. To me, these guys acted like they would steal anything. After conferring with my crew chief Mike Robb we decided they would probably try to steal our 38's that night. I don't know where Mike hid his but after I hopped into my bunk and got under the sheets I put my 38 in my underpants.


In the morning after a good night's sleep I reached in my shorts for the 38 and realized the hammer was cocked. In a nanosecond I remembered that I had forgotten to unload the weapon the night before. This situation called for extreme caution. Very carefully, I reached down, uncocked the hammer of the revolver and gently pulled it from it's location. From then on I always unloaded the weapon before I went to bead!


The day My Glasses Fell Apart

One day after supper when our light fire team was on patrol we observed three VC running into a treeline. Istarted firing at the location they dad ran into, then apparently for no reason my civilian eyeglasses fell completely apart. I quit shooting as I'm near-sighted and could not see. As the M-60's of the gun platoon never jammed Captain Chrobak asked What happened? At first I told him that I can't see. I believe he momentarily thought I may have been hit but I let him know my glasses had fallen apart.


The next day I went to an army Optometrist and was issued two sturdy pair of army eyeglasses.


At one point we went up to Pleiku and bunked with an unsavory non-flight company. They immediately commented on and expressed admiration for our 38's. Later that afternoon they asked us if we wanted to trade or sell our 38's. They asked us on other occasions that evening to trade. To me, these guys acted like they would steal anything. After conferring with my crew chief Mike Robb we decided they would probably try to steal our 38's that night. I don't know where Mike hid his but after I hopped into my bunk and got under the sheets I put my 38 in my underpants.


As for myself I separated from the Army in September 1968 as my time was up. I missed certain aspects of being in the 134th more than I thought I would. My family and community were very supportive when I came home so I was not exposed to the negativity some soldiers were when they returned.


I still have my original Devils unit patch and some pictures of the SS Pope when we crossed the Pacific. I believe that SP/4 Motsinger designed the patch. Competence, dedication, professionalism you name it and these 134th troops had it. One of the most memorable occasions for me from two wars and 35 years of service occurred when I finally landed at the Tiger Division Headquarters and shut down the helicopter in late afternoon on completion of that airmobile operation that had started at around 0400 Hours. Chuck Teeter nudged me from the co-pilots seat and pointed to a guy standing off to the side with bandages all over his head, one arm in a sling, but walking with a world class smile on his face. That's Mister Schuster, the pilot of #3 Chuck informed me, Apparently nobody was killed. If it were not so unmilitary, I could have hugged Mike Schuster, because I really thought I had got him killed trying to avoid fratricide. Heroes all magnificent troops unbelievably loyal and committed to each other may your 134th Reunion be as outstanding as your service.


AM Def Ser Cam

Last modified: Saturday July 2nd, 2022