174th Assault
Helicopter Company

Actual Cockpit Audio
from Lam Son 719

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(The lead-in explanation below is included at the beginning of all the audio pages)

Below are extracts of actual cockpit radio transmissions recorded during Lam Son 719, inside Laos, in March 1971. They've been converted into "wav" files, and the extracts here are short in duration but quite large in file size. Expect long down-loads. To keep the files as small as possible, they have been recorded with less fidelity than the original tapes. They are a bit difficult to understand, but with effort they can be made out. After each one loads, it's audio player will become visible. You may then click on the play button to hear the radio transmissions. When complete, you may play them again by clicking on the reset (or rewind) button and again click on the play button (specifics of how to do this on different plug-in audio players vary).

NOTE: While the audio files download, as a suggestion, you may wish to return to your e-mail or some other feature of your computer (other than another website page as that will interrupt this download). The audio files will continue to download while you use other programs in another window.

This tape extract is the actual Mayday call from First Lieutenant Butch Elliott after he was shot down and crashed in the trees, and a few seconds of the reaction to his call by "Boats 6" Major Spratt, the 174th Company Commander, and others. The Dolphins were assigned the callsign "Boats" for the Lam Son 719 operation. "Witchdoctor" was the callsign of the 174th's maintenance officer. This shootdown was just west of LZ Aloui on 03 March 1971. Major Spratt tried to land and rescue Lieutenant Elliott and his crew but was driven off by AAA fire. See the 1971 page for a detailed account of Elliott's shoot down and his three days on the ground in LAOS. (If you'd like to go to that page now, click "HERE" and you'll link directly to it -- but it'll interrupt any audio down-load still in progress. Maybe after you'll listened to all the audios on this page...) (397,298 bytes)

This segment is the short "Get out of that LZ..." tape that is on the Website's front page. The voice is the commander of the 174th AHC, Major Dale Spratt, as he very succinctly tells the aircraft in LZ Sophia to quickly clear the LZ because the trailing slicks were jammed up behind each other and were taking heavy fire from 23 millimeter antiaircraft guns (Major Spratt crammed a lot of information and meaning into this short transmission). The Dolphin slicks were really hanging it out with low airspeed at low altitude. The date is 05 March 1971, vicinity LZ Sophia, which is about 7 miles east of Tchepone, Laos during the Lam Son 719 operation. Several aircraft had already been shot down this day. (This LZ is marked on the Loas map on the Website's Maps page.) Note: The photo of the CA on the Website's front page is not the actual CA from Lam Son 719 in which this radio transmission was made. The front page photo is representative of CA's, but is from a CA in the Americal Divion area between Chu Lai and Duc Pho. (48,038 bytes)

This tape is also from 05 March 1971. Enroute to LZ Sophia. Captain Don Peterson took fire while he was over 4,000' above the ground (nose-bleed altitude for a lot of Army helicopter pilots). He was still climbing at the time and, at that altitude, he took hits in the tailboom from the 23mm antiaircaft guns. The crewchief is the first voice heard, the individual talking about getting the guns out is Red Dragon 09, Major John A.G. Klose, S-3 (operations officer) of the 223d Aviation Battalion at Dong Ha and the controlling HQ for this operation (to which the 174th was attached). (443,058 bytes)

This tapes reflects the chaos around LZ Sophia on 05 March 1971. By this date, the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) had rolled in a lot of 23 and 37 millimeter AAA (automatic antiaircraft) guns in the area and brought in more .51 caliber machineguns for triangular ambush sites of the American helicopters. Additionally, the NVA had brought in an enormous amount of signal intelligence gear which put them on the American radio frequencies. An example of this signals intelligence can be read in John Bishop's story of his shootdown on 03 March 1971 while enroute to LZ Lolo. (That story is being prepared and will be posted to the home page soon.) The amount of AAA fire forced an awkward approach into the LZ, referred to in other tapes as a "buttonhole" approach. As can be heard, UH-1Hs were falling out of the sky from the AAA. Dolphin 29 was shot down in flames, "29's on fire, 29's on fire and going down," and another Dolphin was shot down when he tried to go in after him. A third helicopter (Dolphin 17) did manage to get in under heavy fire and get Dolphin 29's crew. The other crew was extracted later. Auction Lead is Captain David Nelson, C/158 (WORWAC class 67-3). Captain Nelson took heavy fire while going into LZ Lolo. His gunner, SP4 Mike King, was hit in the head. Several of the ARVN (South Vietnamese) soldiers were also hit. His co-pilot was WO1 Ralph Moreira, and the crewchief was SP4 Joel Hatley. Shortly, Nelson can be heard explaining what is going on and that he was heading for "Kilo Serria" (Khe Sanh). Soon after that transmission, his last, the aircraft blew up at altitude. There were no survivors. It would take over 19 years, until 05 Oct 1990, before the remains of Captain Nelson and his crew were recovered from Loas and interred at Arlington National Cemetary. While this and all the tapes here consist of excerpts (because of the large file sizes), the actual time interval from the beginning to the end of this segment is only about a three minute period of time. (This file is huge. 1,119,234 bytes)

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