174th Assault
Helicopter Company


Shark Door Gunner at the Ready

This is an early 1967 photo of Andrew Kasarda, a Shark door gunner in 1967-68. This photo provides good detail of the bungee cord the gunners used on the gunships instead of the fixed machinegun mounts that the slicks (Dolphins) used. The bungee was a tough elastic cord hooked to the top of the aircraft door frame and secured to the carrying handle mounted on the top of the modified M-60 machinegun. With this arrangement, the gunners could lean far outside the aircraft and fire their machineguns forward, rearward, or down (even between the skids), yet if they dropped it or got hit, the machinegun would not fall from the aircraft. The cord coming down from the top and to the right is Andrew's microphone cord for his helmet. The linked ammunition hanging down is being fed from a box (sometimes wood, sometimes metal) between the gunner's feet, and normally contained about 1,000 rounds of 7.62mm rounds. Note also his "chicken plate" (armored chest protector), commonly worn for obvious reasons.
(Photo property of

Andrew Kasarda. Duc Pho, 1967)