Steve R. Kennedy
I was born and raised in Dallas, Texas, the third of four sons. I attended
Arlington State College (now the University of Texas at Arlington) and majored in ROTC and
Military Drill Team. The transcript says History Major, but the Drill Team got my time. The Sam
Houston Rifles were repeat 4th Army Champions.
Below: Wilma and Steve, Military Ball 1965.
I was commissioned in 1967 as an Infantry 2LT. Like many, my very first set of orders read TDY
enroute to the 90th Replacement Bn., Viet Nam. We spent the first year on active duty driving
from Texas to Georgia. First it was Infantry Officer Basic at Ft. Benning, then to Ft. Wolters to
be a Blue Hat in class 67-24. After primary, my class was sent to Hunter Army Airfield/Ft. Stewart,
Georgia. We were the first numbered class there. Only 12 students preceded us. (My Flight
Commander for Tactics was none other than MAJ Dick Overhamm.)
Above left: 1LT Don Millikin. Above right: 1LT Steve Kennedy.
There were many memorable missions. They included
flying flare ship on a night we got mortored. The Shark team and flare ship (us) had gone south to support an
RFPF unit. When the attack started, LZ Bronco base defense asked us to “come home.” We went low
and fast back to Bronco with the hill shielding our approach. I was leading and broke over the top
of Bronco first. I immediately saw a motor flash. We dropped a flare on top of them and lit up seven
VC women carrying the tube. The Sharks took them out. As I recall, we were told all seven were
hootch maids. The tube was picked up at first light and decorated the Officer’s Club for the rest
of my tour.
Five Shark Pilots resting out on their porch. L-R: Bob Thomas, John Gendreau, Warren Smith, Jim Towle and "Skip" Beebe.
One of my favorite missions was “People Sniffer.” It involved a team
of 4 aircraft, two Slicks and a Shark team. The high ship carried a map board and recorded the Hot
Spots. The low ship got equipped with sensors, mounted on the backs of the pilot’s seats. They
had tubes running to probes on the skids. We also carried two Chemical Corp guys to operate the
stuff. The equipment detected smoke from campfires and ammonia from... well, you figure it out. The
detectors were only good about 10 feet above the trees, so the low ship spent all the time on the
deck, flying up and down the valleys, with the Chem. guys yelling “Hot Spot” over the radio. The
Crew Chief and Gunner put smoke grenades with the pins pulled under their foot. If they saw
anything through the trees, they kicked. When the smoke popped, the Sharks subtracted 50
meters from the smoke (to allow for the distance the smoke traveled before it got to the ground) and opened up.
Some guys thought I was crazy because I always volunteered for low
ship, but, it was the high ship that took all the fire. Low and fast was safer. On my first low mission,
I gave the controls to my Peter Pilot (co-pilot) and he promptly flew us through a tree top. I never let that
happen again. "Pete" got to watch after that.
Just one of the landing pads "frequented" by the 174th. LZ Charlie Brown.
On 17 Nov 68, I became the
Platoon Leader of the
2d Platoon. On the same orders, Richard Meier became a Platoon Leader of the 1st Platoon. Mark
Schindehette got my old job as Intelligence Officer, Mark Fisher and Milford Hansen became Flight
Platoon Section Leaders. At first,
I was in the Platoon hootch. Then MAJ Brown got the idea of putting all of the Platoon Leaders
and the Operations Officer together. I was one of the first occupants. This is the building pictured
with the 75mm howitzer hole in the roof. Ironically, CPT Schmitt, our outgoing XO, wounded by the
same round that killed MAJ Brown, had been appointed Casualty Reporting Officer in early February.
Panorama photo of the 2nd Platoon hootch
Platoon Leader's hootch after the mortar hit
I left for home on March 7, 1969, four days
before the Platoon Leader’s hootch was hit. See our Crew Losses account of that fateful
day by clicking on date to the right:
11 March 1969. I got a two week drop. Do the math! (It wasn’t until
30 years later when I found the web site that I learned about the attack and MAJ Brown’s death.
Above Left: CPT Bob Gambler. His nickname was "Sharkastic 6." Above right: 1st Platoon WO1 Bill Murphy - a Company favorite and a "helluva great pilot." We believe this photo was taken in early ’68 just before he went to Sharks. He’s with the 1st Platoon’s pet deer here in this photo.
The rest of my service consisted of a tour at Ft. Wolters as a Flight Commander. A
branch transfer to Military Intelligence was followed by a second tour in Nam flying RU-21Ds
for the 303rd Radio Research Bn. out of Long Thanh North, IV Corp; Phu Bai, and Danang. Then
after the Intelligence Career Course, I went to Ft. Hood and commanded the 373d ASA Company.
In September 1975, I was involuntarily released in the Reduction in Force.
Below are two recent photos of me (taken on 11/15/02) at the Southwest Airlines Dallas Maintenance Facility during the visit by Huey 091, the "In The Shadow of the Blade" aircraft. Southwest Airlines was one of the sponsors of the tour and one of our Captains was on the crew.
Note: Steve sent
this interesting piece of information after this webpage had been put together: "...another subject; recently I talked to LTC James A. Franklin,
Commanding Officer, 3d Bn 1st Inf, 11th Brigade. LTC Franklin had his headquarters at LZ Liz. He
was, without a doubt, the best Infantry commander we supported. You have a picture of him in the
stuff I gave you. To the left is that photo and a 'today' photo of LTC Franklin as well. We gave
him the helmet he's wearing there. As I recall, it was 'personalized' on the back. There is
a copy of the Letter of Commendation he wrote on Harry Cooper's Photos
Page. - Steve. You can see a recent
'blog' on Franklin at the Georgia State Board of Education's Web Site
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