6. The Kid And The Rock By David Ayers
Some time during the late Spring of 1971, I was flying lead with a light fire team. Our mission was to provide convoy cover for a rather large convoy of US Engineers who were relocating from the Quin Nhon area to the An Khe area. Of course this type mission could be as exciting as you would ever want, or as boring as "boring holes in the sky". This day was particularly boring as all we had to do was to get the convoy safely up and through the An Khe Pass. As hard as we looked, we couldn't find anything that even resembled an ambush and couldn't get anyone to take a shot at us.
It got so boring that my wing man was threatening to see if he could land on an empty flat bed trailer in the middle of the convoy. I can't remember who my wing was that day, but as dumb as the idea was, it was probably Lt Cannon Ramey. He was my roomie, my favorite wing man, and crazy enough to qualify for Menninger's any day of the week.
It soon became my turn to have a little fun. There was a US MP armored/wheeled vehicle parked at the top of the pass to provide escort to the convoy on into An Khe. I started making some low passes over the vehicle and one of the MP's asked me to come in a little lower and slower so he could get some good snap shots of the little baby Devil on our nose. I made 3 or 4 passes, getting lower and slower on each one. The last one was low enough that I
On each of the above passes, I noticed a group of local civilians working in what appeared to be an open sewage lagoon I think the locals referred to them as rice paddies. Among this group were several children ranging in age from about 6-12 years old. One of the older boys pretended to throw something at me on each pass. I didn't pay much attention to him. Finally, the entire convoy cleared the pass. We left the convoy and headed east on our way to Lane AAF to refuel. After that it was home to Tuy Hoa and the one (?) beer that we limited ourselves to each day.
I soon began to notice a feeling of numbness in my feet and lower legs. After about two seconds of serious thought, I decided that we had a high frequency vibration coming from most likely the tail rotor. I decided that I better land at one of the many little dirt airfields/PZ's that seemed to be about every 1/2 mile or so. I landed and shut down. As the blades were slowing down I started betting against myself as to whether I would owe the crew a case of beer.
The CE came up to me about that time and said he thought we had a .51 caliber hole in the tail. I told him there was no way since we hadn't taken any fire all day. Once the rotor came to a complete stop I got out to check. Sure enough, there it was. A hole about the size of a golf ball in the tail. As I was taking a closer look, I realized that the hole caused by the .51 did not have an exit hole on the right side. I had the CE pull the bottom inspection panel and out fell a rock about the size of a golf ball. At the same time, the Gunner noticed a large indentation in one of the tail rotor blades. We finally figured out that the cute little s**t of a Junior VC at the top of the pass had chunked a rock at us that hit the tail rotor which threw the rock into the vertical stabilizer.
Last modified: Monday June 27th, 2022