174th Assault
Helicopter Company


LZ San Juan Hill

This is LZ San Juan Hill, a mountain-top fire support base (FSB) located about 10-15 statue miles to the west of Duc Pho. The coordinates are approximately BS 634 380, and it is in the mountains approximately six miles northeast of the Special Forces camp at Ba-To. Although unmarked on my 1971 (second-tour) map, that I've put on the website, this photo was taken in 1967 and those who are interested can look up the LZ coordinates on the map page at http://www.americal.org/174/map2a.htm. Note the FSB is on two hill tops with a short saddle between them. You can see the resupply helipad on the near hill top. It is the bluish-looking open spot just to the right of center. As you can tell, the Vietnam mountains were absolutely beautiful, and the paroramic views from a location like this could almost make you forget where your were. Note that the caption for the second photo, below, is below the photo.

(Both photos below by Jim McDaniel, June 1967)

Above is a UH-1D Dolphin slick. Note the "174" unit designation on the pilot's door. This aircraft does not have the white-blue-white rings painted on the tailboom as was the unit's normal paint scheme. Perhaps it was a new aircraft, not yet completely painted, or perhaps it had had a tailboom replaced. WO1 Jim McDaniel was flying this aircraft on a Command-and-Control (C&C) mission, and the unit commander had us shut down while he visited his troops at the FSB. I can't locate this helipad in the top photo, and I can't remember exactly where on the LZ it was, but it was used so we wouldn't have to close the resupply helipad when we had to shut down a helicopter on-site. As you can tell, they built this pad right on the EDGE of the mountain-side, and it consisted of simply laying down a covering of sandbags on the ground. It required a reasonable amount of care not to tear up the sandbags with the skids by sliding around on them when landing and taking off. This was an especially interesting landing from the left seat, for you could not see the ground out the left window as you hovered for a touchdown. You could only see the pad out the chin bubble between your feet. Sort of an uncomfortable and uncertain feeling as the conflicting "perspectives" played on your senses. Takeoffs were fun, however, for you could just pick it up to a hover and simply "fall off" the mountain to the left, picking up airspeed as you went screaming down the slope. Scared the s**t out of the passengers. One was usually expected to exhibit a degree of judgment, however, and not use this technique when toting around the unit commander. Note the right door gunner has removed his shirt and placed it over his pedestal-mounted M-60 machinegun. Also, the troop seats in the back are down in the "have-a-seat" position, indicating we were not flying resupply or combat assaults this day. The seats are folded up and secured to the transmission firewall for those types of missions.