20. LZ Devil By Andre Garesche

We spent the day on standby at LZ Uplift. Normal. Hot, dusty, boring. We were finally released around 1600 hours since there had not been any activity in the area all day. We headed back to Phu Hiep. Weather had been building around the mountains during the day and I had kept an eye on it. The cumulus had been getting bigger and darker. I still thought we could make it around the storm or maybe even through it if we had to but that wasn't to be the case.

We were hardly twenty minutes out of LZ Uplift. The rain started coming down so hard I was afraid we would go IFR. It was the heaviest I had seen since I had been in Vietnam. I spotted a grassy knoll just ahead and decided to go for it. It was big enough for two Hueys but that was about all I could determine. I didn't know if there was jungle around it or anything else. We just couldn't see. I called wing and told him we were going to have to set them down. Even though it was against our instincts we went for the knoll. He was more than agreeable. I landed first facing south. With our crew chiefs chattering directions we got wing turned around facing north without clipping tail rotors. Door gunners and crew chiefs covered flanks while we idled the ships with the weapon systems armed. We were not in the best of neighborhoods.

As a gunship pilot we didn't spend much time, if any, in an insecure area. This was all new to us but we had no choice. I chatted with wing, if nothing else, just to stay calm. We discussed tactics. Two Hueys idling on a hilltop was not SOP. We figured if Charlie was going to try anything it would be with an RPG. We would go to a high hover and fire in the direction it came from. We couldn't see anything so we would just be spraying an area. It was the only time I was ever on the ground where my co-pilot had his mini-gun sight down.

After what seemed like an endless ten minutes I thought I saw a gap. There was a downpour to the left and right but a gap up the middle. I called wing and told him we were going to make a break for it. I warned him of my rotor wash and told him I would hover a short distance until he could get turned around to take off into the wind. The rain had cooled the air so we could get the heavy gunships up a little easier. He was eager to get out of there too. He picked up to a hover, did a pedal turn, and was right on my tail as we tore out of there.

Later at the O Club we decided to name it LZ Devil and even got a map to look up the coordinates. As far as I know, we were the largest unit, with the most firepower, ever to have occupied that hilltop, even if it was only for ten minutes. We even went into operations and had them name it and mark it on the big operations map. One of the few times gunships actually occupied some territory.
AM Def Ser Cam
Last modified: Friday March 17th, 2023