174th Assault
Helicopter Company


Biography of

Steve R. Kennedy
1LT Dolphin 26

19 March 1968- 07 March 1969

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.

Summers during college were spent working at Six Flags over Texas on the Confederate Drill Team. There I met the love of my life, Wilma. Married for 40 years in August, 2006, we have two daughters, Janie (a CPA/MBA) and Amy (a Family Practice Doctor). Amy is also the mother of our two beautiful granddaughters Vivian and Leahla.

Below: Six Flags Drill Team 1965 (Steve on far right holding flag).

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.)

My arrival at the 174th was an event (as least for me). I was still wearing 2LT bars. My promotion orders were chasing me. I was picked up at Chu Lai (on 19 Mar 68), three days after My Lai. My “tour guide” on the trip south was CPT Boswell, the XO. He pointed out the “bad area” north of Quang Ngai and the Chinook downed on a sand bar in the river (According to my orders, WO Bill Walzer and SP4 Robert Hanson were on the same flight.) After arriving at Duc Pho, I got a long lecture from CPT Boswell about the difference between RLOs (commissioned officers) and Warrant officers. Finally, Don Millikin rescued me and took me to the 1st Platoon hootch. At the door, I came nose to nose with CW2 McConnell M. Cokewell. He recoiled at the sight and announced to all, “It’s a F**king Butter Bar.” CPT Boswell’s lecture was immediately forgotten. Fortunately, my promotion orders arrived soon, dated 12 March, a week before I arrived.

I was assigned as the Intelligence Officer, but spent most of my time flying with the 1st Platoon. My flight records show I flew 6.6 hours the day after I arrived and 54 hours by the end of the first month. I was also the Public Information Officer and Historian. Part of the job was keeping the records of rounds expended and body count. I make no claim to the accuracy of either one. I had the pleasure of working with both Lanny McCrary and Lenny Kaufman as Operations Officers.

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.

After a few years with Southwestern Bell, I “landed” at Southwest Airlines as a Telecommunications Engineer. I will finish my 25th year in December, 2006 and plan to retire in early 2007.

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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