SUMMARY OF FLIGHT
13 Nov 67
182 - A/C 1LT Hudgins; Pilot WO1 Ceceoli; CC SP4 Stephens; Gnr PFC
178 - A/C WO1 Sayers; Pilot WO1 Clifford; CC SP4 Douylliez; Gnr SP4
212 - A/C MAJ Allan; Pilot 2LT Thomason; CC SP4 Malsberger; Gnr SP5
521 - A/C WO1 Bruner; Pilot WO1 Bradley; CC SP5 Carpenter; Gnr SP4
On 13 Nov 67, 1LT Hudgins and his wing man WO1 Sayers were the armed
helicopter support for the 3rd Brigade, 1st Cav Div Ready Reaction
Force. The fire team was on standby at LZ Baldy. Around 1600 a call
came in that the two B Troop, 1/9 Cav armed helicopters had been shot
down about 6 miles Southeast of Que Son, RVN.
LT Hudgins' fire team was told to get airborne as soon as possible, that
a flight of lift helicopters was being formed to take an infantry
securing force in to protect the downed aircraft and extract the crew
members. After getting airborne, LT Hudgins made coordination with the
lift flight leader and other armed helicopters that would also be
covering the downed aircraft. The two downed aircraft were about 1000
meters apart in open rice paddies. Neither area was secure. Enemy
troops had been firing on the downed crews from the tree lines
surrounding both ships.
It was decided that LT Hudgins would use his fire team to accompany the
lift ships into the LZ and provide protective fire for them. Seven lift
helicopters were loaded with securing troops and as the flight neared
the 1st downed aircraft the enemy opened up with small arms and
automatic weapons fire. LT Hudgins and WO Sayers immediately placed
their gun ships on opposite sides of the flight and started returning
the enemy fire.
As the flight touched down and started loading troops and picking up the
downed crew, LT Hudgins and WO Sayers gun ships continued to orbit the
LZ delivering fire until all of the lift ships were safely out of
danger. A second load of infantry was picked up and put into the same
LZ. Again enemy fire was received from the tree line and the crew
members of the gun ships quickly and effectively suppressed it.
On the second lift, LT Hudgins' ship had taken a few minor hits as well
as one of the lift helicopters which had to break off of the flight.
The flight was left with six ships, but both gun ships were still
flyable. The six remaining lift ships picked up their 3rd load of
troops. This lift was to be placed around the 2nd downed helicopter.
The second LZ was expected to be much hotter than the first, as there
was a small village on the west side of the LZ that was known to contain
several automatic weapons positions.
As the flight reached about 400 meters from the LZ, LT Hudgins and WO
Sayers began directing their crews to fire on the village, hoping to
destroy, or at least distract the enemy gunners. The original firing
pass was successful as all the lift helicopters made it into the LZ
without receiving fire. As the gun ships broke around for a second pass
on the village LT Hudgins lead aircraft was hit by an extremely heavy
volume of automatic weapons fire and the lift helicopters were also
beginning to take hits. WO Sayers guided his ship and began firing on
the positions that had just hit LT Hudgins' ship. This gave the lift
helicopters just enough time to start out of the LZ. LT Hudgins
helicopter was hit badly but he and his fire team made one more final
pass until the lift ships were off the ground, but the entire flight was
still encountering fire as they departed.
One of the lift helicopters put out a call that he was going down and at
the same time LT Hudgins said that he would also have to land his
helicopter. Two lift helicopters immediately broke off from the flight
and followed the two ships in to the effect and immediate recovery of
both crews. Meanwhile, WO Sayers with his lone gun ship continued to
cover the downed aircraft. No one was injured by enemy fire and both
emergency landings were completed successfully.
The flight then departed to reorganize and refuel. A call was sent out
requesting two additional gun ships be sent up as soon as possible.
Major Allan immediately cranked his standby gun ships. He was flight
leader and WO Bruner was A/C of his wing ship. While MAJ Allan was on
route the lift helicopter flight leader managed to round up additional
aircraft to bring his total back up to 8 flyable. By this time MAJ
Allan's fire team had joined up with the 8 lift helicopters. MAJ Allan
directed WO Sayers to take his aircraft to LZ Ross to refuel and rearm.
As soon as this was accomplished, WO Sayers again returned single ship
to LT Hudgins downed aircraft to insure that enemy did not destroy it
while the securing forces were being organized. MAJ Allan then
accompanied the lift helicopters in to pick up the troops that would be
used to secure LT Hudgins' downed ship. There was quite a delay in
organizing the infantry for the move and because of the delay MAJ
Allan's fire team was low on fuel when it arrived at the LZ. It became
necessary for MAJ Allan to contact WO Sayers and have him escort the
lift ships and the LZ while he refueled his fire team.
Time was becoming a factor as it was getting dark and the weather was
deteriorating rabidly. Mr. Sayers joined the flight and they started in
to secure LT Hudgins' downed aircraft. As the lift ships reached the LZ
they encountered fire from the southwest edge of the LZ. Mr. Sayers,
flying his lone gun ship immediately rolled in and suppressed it. The
lift helicopters were again able to make it out of the LZ but one of
them had taken hits and had to return to a secure area. This reduced
the number of lift helicopters back down to 7.
By this time MAJ Allan was back on station with his fire team. He
directed WO Sayers to return to a standby status. The flight had an
additional 2 sorties to take into the same LZ. MAJ Allan's fire team
joined up with them while the other lift helicopter went back to
refuel. As they came back to the LZ they again encountered fire, but
MAJ Allan's and WO Bruner's crews were able to suppress it, allowing all
aircraft to depart with no hits.
It was now quite dark and the flight was running in and out of rain
showers. But they still had one lift helicopter down that had to be
secured. The flight of 7 proceeded to pick up the troops necessary for
this insertion. On the way to the LZ the flight ran into extremely bad
weather forcing them to fly low level over areas that they well knew to
be hostile. Due to the poor visibility the flight missed the LZ on the
first pass. As they were turning around to come in again one of the
lift helicopters received some hits and went down MAJ Allan and WO
Brunner began suppressing and the remainder of the flight diverted from
their original LZ and landed the troops into the new position but after
checking his aircraft over the pilot decided that he could fly it out.
So the flight came back in, picked up the troops again and continued on
to their original LZ.
All this time MAJ Allan and his fire team were orbiting the LZ but due
to the extremely poor visibility and the close proximity of friendly
troops he instructed his flight to fire only on positively identified
targets. He was flying as a physical shield between the enemy and the
flight. The flight finally deposited their troops in the correct LZ and
departed. On departure they encountered fire. Both MAJ Allan and WO
Bruner's ships were hit but they were still flyable. The flight was
again down to 6 lift ships. All four downed aircraft now had securing
forces around them but it was still necessary to take an additional 6
sorties back in to the 2nd LZ of the night. It was the LZ that LT
Hudgins and the lift helicopter had received the fire that had downed
them. The flight made the pick up of the 6 sorties and started to the
LZ. The weather ceiling was down to about 500 feet, they were flying in
and out of rain showers and visibility was poor.
MAJ Allan and WO Bruner knew the situation at the LZ and also knew that
the enemy positions were dangerously close to the friendly troops
already on the ground. In order not to endanger the friendly troops
they would have to restrict their fire to when it was needed the most.
As the flight approached the LZ the gun ships as well as the lift ships
were hit with a tremendous volume of automatic weapons fire. MAJ Allan
and WO burner flew their ships as before to shield the lift helicopters
placing their fire only when they had a positively identified target.
They continued flying in this manner until the last lift helicopter was
out of the LZ. Some of the lift helicopters were hit badly but they
were all flyable. On the lead lift ship the crew chief was wounded. As
they pulled out WO Bruner's gun ship took several more hits and was
forced to make an emergency landing. A lift ship heard WO Bruner's call
and immediately turned around to pick up the crew. While MAJ Allan, now
the only gun ship in the area, covered the rescue, the crew was picked
up safely and the remaining helicopters departed the area. By this time
so many of the helicopters in the flight were so badly damaged it was
impossible to secure WO Bruner's aircraft. It was destroyed that night
by the enemy troops using satchel charges.
The results of the nights action were staggering, there were 5
helicopters shot down. MAJ Allan was able to bring his ship in but it
had been hit several times. There were a total of 13 lift helicopters
used. One of them was shot down and 10 others received a varying number
of hits. Several so badly damaged they could not be flown again until
extensive repairs were made. Of the 5 aircraft shot down all 20 crew
members were rescued.
JAMES W. HUDGINS SR.
Walter F D ALLAN
MAJ, Sig C