39. The Crash Of 148 By Mike Ogrysko
I was the crewchief on a gunship (66-148) in May 68 when it lost a compressor blade and blew the engine. We were flying west of LZ Uplift on a recon mission. We thought that we took fire since the area was hot. I believe Mr. Ray Labier and Mr. Loren Hall were the pilots. They autorotated into a small, dried up rice paddy in between two hills. The landing zone was not that big and I think they thought we were going into the trees. So we literally bounced (about three times) into this place really hard. I remember my gunner (SP4 ?? Smith, flying out the door and his safety strap yanking him back into the aircraft each time we bounced.
It was definitely the scariest situation of my life. Thank God that gunships flew in pairs. The other gunship was 077 with Mr.Billy Hall (the short one) as AC, Xavier Flexen as CE and John Clayton, the gunner. I can't remember who was the other pilot on 077. In any case, 077 flew cover for us and radioed for help while we set up a defensive position around my ship. As I mentioned this was a hot area and we expected to start taking fire any minute.
Mr. Hall in 077 tried to toss us his M-16 while we were on the ground and we missed it. The M-16 didn't take too well to the impact.
A slick from the 129th AHC picked us up about 20-30 minutes later and took us to LZ English where we spent the night. We took our M-60's and mini-guns with us, but left the rocket launchers with about half the rockets and remaining min-gun ammo. I remember being told to get the radios out, and I was so nervous that I started cutting the cables to get the radios out faster. This was about 5-6 pm and since the area was hot they didn't recover the aircraft until the next morning. Needless to say it was stripped down by morning. The aircraft was a total loss and I was told it was hooked out over the South China Sea and dumped. However, I recently learned it was salvaged, sent back to the States for rebuild and returned to service in Vietnam.
On the lighter side Mr. Hall recorded in the log book "Engine went boom and the ground came up and smacked us in the ass." I felt bad that I left my Kodak Instamatic in the aircraft, but Mr. Hall had left a 35mm camera with a new lens there. I remember him trying to get shots of the An Khe nurse's quarters from the air while the nurses were sun bathing topless. I guess maybe the VC got some nice photos.
Last modified: Saturday July 2nd, 2022