174th Assault
Helicopter Company

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Dolphins 2nd Platoon Hootch, Duc Pho, 1970

Note: The accompanying photo and caption was furnished by David Rosenthal, Dolphin 24, 1970.

This photo was taken inside the addition to the company street-facing side of the 2nd Flight Platoon's hootch in Duc Pho in November 1970. The addition, as far as I can recall, was completed in mid-1970. Recognizable faces from L-R (sitting at the table): MAJ James Searcy, CPT Clifford Stern (not a particularly popular guy), 1LT John Gilchrist**. That's probably Greg Manuel in the background with his hand on his forehead.

** We called Gilchrist "John Wayne" because he was so gung-ho; I think his father was a General. In any case, he and I flew together a lot and, one day just after sundown, we did an extraction from an LZ in the Rice Bowl. On the way in, the dinks who were hiding at the edge of the clearing opened up on us as we flared. Rounds came up through the floor, hitting everyone and breaking stuff loose everywhere. One got Gilchrist just behind the ear and he began screaming and flailing all over the cockpit. It was a "cold" area but the crew chief and door gunner shot the hell out of everything, suppressing the bad guys as we escaped (the GIs in the LZ were REAL safe since they'd dived into their holes when the dinks first began shooting).

I pulled as close to 50 lbs of torque as our wheezy -13 engine would permit to get us back to the medevac pad. They took Gilchrist out by pulling his red handles and, because both crewmembers were also hit, they took them too, leaving me alone to park the machine. I dropped it at Maintenance, then ran back to the o-club to tell everyone Gilchrist got it in the head and was fighting for his life in the ER.

Two minutes later, about 30 guys mobbed the place demanding to know how he was. The ER doctor didn't know what we were talking about. Then we heard Gilchrist's voice say, "Who're you looking for?" We spun around all at once to see him standing there smiling. He showed us a single band-aid behind his ear; apparently, the round had dissipated nearly all its energy going through the fuel cell, honeycomb, floor, and stanchion pole before hitting him with about the force of a bb-gun.

Someone asked me what the stuff on my back was and I checked to find it was blood and *I* was hit (I didn't even know at that point). Like the crewmembers' wounds, it was only a scratch but I spent the rest of that evening washing my flight suit top (ever try to get a NEW flight suit from our Supply?).

Anyway, sometime in mid-December, Gilchrist was flying low-level in the Horseshoe (northwest of FSB 411) when a dink put a round into the cockpit. It passed through the legs of the guy in the right seat, through the console, then into Gilchrist's leg. The bullet traveled up his femur, lodging in his pelvis. That was the end of his tour and, since I'd just DEROS'ed to that part of the country, I visited him in the Gettysburg, VA hospital where they'd evacuated him.