Thank you for your efforts. It has only been in the past several months I began to realize what I had gotten myself into when I served with H Trp from Jan to Aug 1972. I listened from the air over the Radio as Mr. Vann directed the battlefield on the day you describe. I was there when Kontum was hit so hard by Rocket Ridge. Unless I am mistaken, Cpt. Stein lost his leg by attempting to get a new Commander to the fire base battle you describe. I was overhead the day Tan Canh was overrun and the defenders retreated in mass. Several aircraft were shot down on the first pass. Ours was one of the ones that was not. I, and many others, listened throughout the night as Wayne Finch's ELT transmitter sounded throughout the night and we were so disappointed in our failure to extract him as well as the loss of a good infantry NCO during the fire-fight resulting from our efforts. Day after day we went back with hunter killer teams into the areas you describe as infested with enemy and day after day we got shot out if not shot down. I did not think anyone knew. Now I know they do. Thank you.
Regards, a Cav pilot
REFLECTIONS: I have received many e-mails from aviators who flew with units during the Battle of Kontum. I am humbled by the stories they tell and amazed by the actions they lived through. Every one who went to Vietnam knows the War through their own experiences and that becomes, for them, the Vietnam War. The number of Americans who experienced the Vietnam War numbers in the millions however, the number of Americans who experienced intense combat during that War, first hand, day in and day out, were relatively few. Those who flew with the Cav and the guns of the 361st AWC and the 57th AHC during the Battle of Kontum did extraordinary things by anyone's measure. Late in the summer of 1972 a representative of the British Military was sent to Vietnam to learn how the helicopter pilots handled the stress of combat. Some of you may even remember talking to Maj. Martin... I ended up being his escort and had to introduce him to many of the pilots so he could question them about stress coping strategies they used. In the two weeks he was there, he was amazed at what these men had done - and so am I.