11. UFOs, You Gotta Be Kidding!! By David Burnett
I don't guess I have any one really big story from my tour. I was a 67N20 and spent three months as the gunner for Ike Pena starting in May of '71. I then inherited the #375 that had been crewed by Tom Claus. It was one of the stronger slicks and while it was in bad need of a paint job, it got the job done. I've come away from the experience struck with the tradegy of war.
On one mission, we had to hover down into an LZ cut by a daisy cutter. There were several slicks in the CA so we all had the same problem. We could only get within about 15 or 20 feet of the ground. The daisy cutter bomb typically leaves some splintered tree trunks standing that we can't hover below the tops of. The ARVN were toting really full packs and extra gear. Many of them were afraid to make the long jump with the heavy packs and we were left with no other recourse than to throw them out if they refused to jump. One ARVN in particular fell sideways as he landed. He was obviously hurt. About ten minutes after the last slick was out, we got a call to go back to medevac a paralyzed troop. We all had to throw guys out and no one could know for sure who had been involved. The man has come to my mind many times. I can only begin to imagine the hell that the life of a paralyzed soldier would be in Nam.
One of the more interesting missions was the re-supplying of the MACV outposts of the tops or sides of mountains. We could only get one skid up against the side of the mountain while we hovered and hurried to unload the C-rations. We always managed to hide a case or two for ourselves. It's not that we didn't have compassion for the advisers, but we were on the flight line before the mess hall opened, we were in the field for lunch and back after mess hall had closed. We either bough grubb from the PX or helped ourselves to some C's. I always noticed that the perimeters were totally clear of vegetation and some black crap was all over the ground. Nothing grew out there in the wire. While we were hovering, the rotors were kicking up a storm and when we got in in the evening we always had a load in the partical separators to clean. For that matter blowing your nose would deliver a load of black crud. I say all this to say that many years later I was told that agent orange was used to keep the perimeters cleared. I was told this after being hospitalized for the second time with cancer. Some of the other symptoms are birth defects and miscarriages. My son was born with malformed lungs and died at one day old. Both of my wives have had multple miscarriages. Makes a guy wonder, huh. Who knows. I joined the Army and don't regret it for a minute. I could have just as easily gotten it in Nam. I'll take my licks any time Uncle Sam calls. I thank God for our brave guys and gals that are serving today. Volunteers, every one.
I guess I'll just leave you with this one other short memory of my tour. I'm not the type to believe in UFO's, but. While on flight line guard duty one night, I was sitting on the flight line listening for anything out of the ordinary. Suddenly I heard a whoosh sound right overhead. It was a dark night and I couldn't see anything. It was way too real to be my imagination. The Mohawks couldn't have snuck up on my that quietly even if it had been gliding. I can't believe a Mohawk can glide very far at that altitude. I've thought about that so many times over the years and thought, could it have been, no surely not. Finally in the March 2000 copy of Popular Mechanics there was an article about a plane used in Vietnam covertly. It was dubbed the Q-Star. A high performance glider with a 100 horse highly silenced engine that would fly right over enemy positions. I guess I know now how they caught a buddy of mine sleeping on guard duty.
I'm really glad to have served in Nam and to have experienced all those things with some of the greatest patriots and friends a guy could ever hope to meet. God Bless the Patriots. God Bless the Veterans. God Bless America.
Last modified: Monday June 27th, 2022