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UPDATED: 28 Dec 04

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Note:  This story speaks of the grim realities of war.  It should not be read by young children without an adults permission. [The Webmaster]


 

SEAWOLF Gunships Down

By Seawolf Gunner Bill Rutledge

Two Seawolf Gunships that were knocked out of the sky while scrambling under a mortar/rocket attack at Dong Tam in 69, 7 wounded 1 KIA .  Very lucky indeed that all were not killed. 


 

Two SEAWOLF Gunships Down

 

On the afternoon of March 25 1969 Seawolf Detachment 6 staging from Dong Tam along with Detachment 4 and 7 who came to help were scrambled to attack a large force of enemy gunners who had ambushed a Unit of River Patrol Boats (PBRs) in a nearby river. The PBRs had been hit with heavy automatic weapons and B 40 rockets and had suffered both KIA and WIA and could not break contact. The Seawolves put in strikes until the PBRs broke contact and escaped the kill Zone. Rearming/refueling the Gunships continued putting in strikes all afternoon and into the evening, until the enemy fire ceased. Dets 4 and 7 returned to their respective staging areas as Det 6 again rearmed/refueled and waited for the nightly scrambles that always came. Around 2 AM on the 26th an enemy rocket and mortar barrage began in the Seawolves staging area. The 2 Gunship crews ran through the explosions and raining shrapnel to get airborne to save the birds and attack the enemy. As they lifted off, just clearing the deck, the Army ammo dump near the birds was hit and the violent explosion knocked both Gunships from the sky wounding the two Pilots and two Door Gunners in each bird. The lead bird was knocked on its side pinning the Pilot underneath with the fuel bladder split spreading fuel everywhere. The trail bird was hit with a huge piece of flying munitions from the ammo dump blowing off the main rotor and transmission crushing the cabin in on the air crew pinning them inside. Both Gunners on the trail bird worked their way free and pulled the wreckage off their Pilots and pulled them from the wreckage. The Copilot died in their arms as he was extracted. With the ammo dump still exploding and hot shrapnel hitting in the fuel on the deck, the Door Gunners from the trail aircraft ran to the lead bird and helped that crew lift the bird off the pinned Pilot and saved him from certain death. Other Seawolf also left their bunkers and helped the injured Pilots back to safety in the Bunker. The Four Gunners were decorated with Silver Stars for Extraordinary Heroism in the rescue of their Pilots. The above narrative was taken from documents, citations and first hand information from Seawolf Pilot Ken Lowe and  two of the Seawolf Gunners involved, Aviation Ordnanceman Third Class Neil McDonald and Airman Michael O’Brien, Both decorated with the Silver Star for this action.

 

AECS Bill Rutledge



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