The first two photos below where taken on 15 October 1971 and is of the LAST operational mission flown by the 174th Assault Helicopter Company. This is an impromptu fly-by of the company area. The "powers-that-be" would not let the unit perform an en-mass unit fly-by, so they did a lesser one on their own. One of the mechanics took the top photograph and gave it to Mel Lutgring, who was crew chief in the left gunner's well of Witchdoctor 650, the lead aircraft of the third V-of-three (with two Shark gunships on his left and right "wing.") Captain Tyrus Manning, the unit maintenance officer, was the pilot. The three Shark gunships in the revetments in the foreground, although difficult to tell, were: 65-09470, the Ace-of-Spades (#2); 65-09540, the Grim Reaper; and 66-15242, Easy Rider (#2). The second photo down is of the formation returning to the flight line. Typhoon Hester, which hit Chu Lai the last week of October, destroyed many of the remaining 174th helicopters. Two additional photos are below.
In the rather deteriorating photo below is SP4 Mel J. Lutgring (left) and PFC Mike Gunnels. Mike has the "artillery brass" mug that was presented to Mel by Captain Tyrus Manning. This picture was taken after flying the last operational flight pictured above. (Photos property of Mel Lutgring, Chu Lai, Oct 1971)
This photo below was taken on the flight to pick up the 105 Howitzer artillery shells used to make the mugs (in the photo above). The "Stars and Bars" on the helmet visor cover was sort of a joke. You know, "The South Shall Rise Again (even if it is just a hover check)." At the time, Mel didn't know that he was actually related to the family of Robert E. Lee on his faternal grandmother's side of the family. (Photo property of Mel Lutgring, Chu Lai, Oct 1971)
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