Questions from Students and Others

History of the Vietnam War 101
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Re: Questions from Students and Others

Postby bill » Fri Jan 08, 2010 7:48 pm

Chuck Gutzman wrote:
Charissa wrote:Hi all,

I didn't get a registration email and figured it wasn't up yet; hopefully I'm doing the right thing by posting this way. (If I am not apologies. I also tried looking through the older forum posts but the page wouldn't display so I hope I am not reposting questions.)

I assume as a writer and student in history that I'd post here. Currently I am trying to write a novel, featuring a character who is a Huey pilot during the Vietnam war. However, information seems to be hard to find as I am not so hot at googling and a lot of things dead end. I have no one to ask in person as all of the Vietnam vets in my family were killed in the war or were in the USMC and only occasionally met pilots.

If I may ask more than one at a time, they are posted below.

Thank you for any and all help!
Charissa :)

1. What is the maximum about of tours of duty that a man could have? I heard the average was 1-3, 3 certainly hasn't been surpassed in my family, but would it be possible to do more? Were there limits and was it possible say, if someone wanted to fight for the duration of the war that they would be able to? Is there any way that one could "re-enlist"?I want him to be in it for as long as possible.

2. I've encountered conflicting resources on this... Did your average Huey pilot simply do transport and pilot 'slicks'? Did only Cobra pilots do combat? I guess what I am asking is this, do you have to be a specific thing to do rescues, transport, and combat, or did a Huey pilot engage in all of those at some point in time? I'd like him to experience the different sides that came with being a pilot.

3. There are so many different battalions/regiments and so on. I am not sure what exactly he would be in, (I have read Marines etc had pilots as well.) so I am wondering if anyone can help me in deciding what he should be attached to.

Hi Charissa: (1) There were a number of us that had at least 4, and the most I am aware of was Major Monte Baugh who had 7. (All as a grunt.) He did it through multiple voluntary extensions. Finally the Army made him come home to attend the Command and General Staff College, but he finagled his way back to the war as soon as he finished the course. He spent the bulk of his time In Quang Ngai Province in I Corps, and a lot of it at a place called Duc Pho.

(2) It is true that most Huey pilots flew "slicks". However, there were more Huey Gunships than there were Cobras. The Cobra came later in the war. Nearly every model of the Huey that flew in Vietnam had a gunship version. I got pulled out of a pretty nasty place in the Plei Trap Valley in II Corps once by a "B" Model Huey gunship. Problem with the "B" model though was that it was woefully underpowered and when it was fully loaded and it was hot a door gunner or the crew chief sometimes had to run alongside for a short ways so that it could build up some transitional lift to get off the ground. The later models all had sufficient power. For a look at a door gunner read Xin Loi Vietnam. It was written by a friend of mine named Al Sever and is an excellent book. (I'm a bit prejudiced here.) As to your Huey pilot doing rescues - it was nearly always a slick of one kind or another that picked you up on an extract while the gunbirds kept the bad guys busy.

(3) The 1/9 Cav was a reconnaissance squadron in the 1st Cavalry Division and had one of the best records of the war, as well as having all of the helicopter types you would be interested in. Not a bad choice. The "Black Cats" of the 282nd Aviation Company in Danang were a good bunch too. (They flew HUeys). In reality, you need to pick "where" in Vietnam, then which aviation unit kind of falls into place. That's one of the reasons I'd use the 1st of the 9th or one of the 1st Cav companies. They served virtually all over Vietnam and into Cambodia. If you want to put him in the Navy go with the Sea Wolves. The Marines had a lot of choppers, but very few Hueys.

Good luck with your project.



for a few months in '67 the usmc ch-46's were grounded due to problems with several of them losing the aft pylon and crashing. a bunch of army hueys with a smiling black cat face on the hood came up to support our recon operations. the pilots were great and we had a lot of good inserts and extracts from those guys!

it was the first time i flew nap of the earth and the inserts were more successful because we were able to sneak in low and fast. the pilots would drop us off, then touch down at several other fake lzs to confuse any nva that might have been in the local area. they would also wait around a lot longer than the usmc pilots to see if the team was in the zone okay.

really good support!

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Re: Questions from Students and Others

Postby Chuck Gutzman » Tue Mar 09, 2010 6:58 am

Hi Bill: That was the Black Cats. They were a pretty good bunch when it came to inserts, they and their companion gunships (the Alley Cats) were also very good at extracts. I worked with them in '69-'70. A couple of the pilots were on their third tours and they knew the area along the border like the backs of their hands.


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