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Bob Madich  

My recollection of the rescue attempt at Firebase Delta on Rocket Ridge (The Scribe)

On 4/22/72, 2nd platoon sergeant Ray Wilson, SFC asked myself and John Conrad, CE if we would volunteer to fly lead bird in a rescue attempt of an American CH-47 crew who had crashed on FSB Delta on 3/31/72. The plan was for us to fly in at daybreak, resupply and load up the wounded VNAF and American crew and fly out without alerting NVA enemy troops surrounding the FSB. The next morning, well before daybreak, we launched to Kontum. En-route we decided to test weapons at Wooly Bully. My M-60 machine gun jammed after 1 round was fired. I took this as an omen and prayed for divine intervention. I made a lot of promises to God that day. I had a feeling of doom that if I flew into the firebase I was going to die or worse, be captured as a POW. Nearing Rocket Ridge, we hear radio transmissions from the 57th and 361st cobra gunships while they made gun/rocket runs on NVA overrunning the firebase. John Vann (call sign Rogues Gallery)and the II Corps commander were monitoring the radios. It was decided for us to abort the resupply/rescue mission due to the ground attack taking place. To this day I still feel a sense of remorse for praying to God that we abort the mission. Later during the morning, we flew a med-evac mission involving one of the 57th gunship pilots being wounded by a gun shot to his arm. Cpt. Pepin jumped on board and administered first aid to the wounded pilot. We flew Nape of the earth, low level flight from Rocket Ridge to the Evac hospital in Pleiku. During the flight, I glanced at the airspeed indicator and it maxed out at 120 knots. We flew so fast with the side doors open that sound proofing was being torn from the bulkhead and Conrad and I were pulling and cutting the material with our survival knives. We landed at Wooly Bully and picked up an ARVN MD provided treatment to the wounded pilot. Flying into the Evac hospital, I saw power lines level with the nose of the helicopter and because of the flying skill of Cpt. Speers, AC we were able to clear the lines. Upon landing the helicopter left a trail of sparks across the PSP landing pad. Medics were waiting with a stretcher and transported the wounded pilot into the Evac hospital. A few days later, I was at the Camp Holloway Medical Dispensary and in walked CW2 Walter Zutter and the flight engineer from the downed CH-47 on FSB Delta. The said that they walked away from FSB Delta during the dark evading NVA the whole time. A medic informed the flight engineer that while he was shot down, his wife had given birth and he was the proud father of a baby girl. Back then, I didn't cry because it was considered unmanly, however, upon hearing the news from the medic, tears welled up in my eyes. i

Bob Madich <>
Duluth, MN USA - Thursday, April 24, 2014 at 10:36:11 (EDT)

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