Did mention that Dak Pek was way the hell up north of Dak To and the helicopters would not shut down and wait on you? That night I spent sleeping in a bunker with about $200,000 in a brief case in my cot with me. There were also two armed guards with so I didn't feel too bad.
Dak Pec, was so isolated that the Special Forces guys could not shop in the local village or market for food. Everything they ate was brought in by air. As I sat on the runway the next day, waiting for a helicopter ride, a Caribu landed and off loaded a cow. The crew chief was so mad he could spit. n That plane was brand new and when the pilot pulled one of his fall down and land moves, that cow shit a line of crap all over the cargo area. Needless to say I passed on a ride back to Pleiku in that one
Over on the run way by the Special Forces camp was a Caribu that had crashed landing at that remote strip. It was so far from anywhere that the Army just wrote it off and left it there.
The next day, I made my way back to Dak To, and two fire bases where we had units. I think we also stopped in Kontum to pay a rear area ammo supply point. As we were finally headed back to Pleiku, the pilots met up with another Huey from his unit also headed back to Pleiku. I was listening to their conversation and one of the pilots said, "Wanna Race?" I until then did not realize that if you wanted to go really fast, you lowered the nose of a Huey and it would go really fast.
I had never been in a Huey that was going really fast and not overloaded. We were going well over 100 Knots and all of a sudden that damn bird shook like a hound dog shitting peach pits. The door gunner right beside me said ,"Don't worry but we might crash." Shit oh dear, here I am with about $175,000 in my lap and we might crash. Then all hell broke loose. I had never seen the dash of a Huey flash and sound so many alerts. Master Caution, Chip Alert, Engine RPM and then silence. The damned engine just quit. it was so silent that I about shit myself right there.
|From the back of a Huey|
I had read about Huey's doing an auto rotation but had never seen one. There I was, smack dab right in the middle of a live demonstration. The pilot pulled up the nose, gained a little altitude and started the rotors spinning as fast as he could. Just when I thought I would get to smack me and all that damned money into the earth, the pilot pulled full pitch and we landed in a garden right behind a montagnard village. My legs were shaking as we crawled out of the bird and the pilot calmly told me that there would be about a 30 minute wait until a recovery bird would arrive. I told him that unless he wanted to have a full report made to his Flight Operations, he would get on his little handy talkie and have the second helicopter land and pick up up. He could just tell the other bird that His name would be in my report if he didn't come back right damned now. Having two pretty pissed off soldiers with me armed with M-16's didn't hurt. There was no way I was going to spend one more minute on the ground in the middle of "no and fucking where" with that kind of money in the brief case. I could just see a casualty assistance officer coming to my house and telling my wife that I had been killed and ,Oh by the way you owe the Government $150,000.
The other bird came right back and took us to Artillery Hill. I didn't report them but I probably should have. Two young sets of Pilots just out on a joy ride. Oh well, All's well that ends well. Everyone got paid and we didn't die.