174th Assault
Helicopter Company

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Mel Lutgring, the Last Witchdoctor Crewchief

Witchdoctor was the call sign for the maintenance section of the 174th AHC. Although the one aircraft the maintenance section had was officially a "Dolphin," it always went by the callsign "Witchdoctor." SP4 Mel J. Lutgring became the last Witchdoctor Crewchief on UH-1H tail number 69-16650. Mel felt Witchdoctor 650 was special, as the last three digits of his social security number were also 650. In the second photosbelow, Mel is safety wiring the cannon plugs of the instruments on Witchdoctor 650 for an upcoming IG (Inspector General) inspection. According to Mel, the Lieutenant Colonel in charge of the inspection team said that 650 had the cleanest rotor head he had ever seen, and he wouldn't hesitate to fly it. Mel didn't take him seriously until 5:00 a.m. the next morning, when the Lieutenant Colonel showed up and flew left seat on a compat assault extracting ARVNs. (Photos property of Mel Lutgring, Chu Lai, Sep 1971)

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