I was there with H Troop. The unit roster is not complete and has left many out that were there and contributed a lot. Jerry Spradlin was killed just north west of Kontum before the battle started. Jim Stein lost a leg before the battle and is the bravest man I have ever known. A lot went on (just) before the battle actually began. As a matter of fact I believe Jim was there during the battle because I was with him, flying his wing, when we evacuated Dak To. It has been a long time and I have forgotten a lot. Craig Smith was shot down by one of the NVA tanks and was later recovered with his observer. His observer's name was Blackwell and he was shot down with Cpt Finch if my memory serves me well. Cpt Finch later died on the way to a prison camp to the north. According to the VHPA CPT Finch died of dysentery. Blackwell took a round in the fanny when he was shot down with Lt. Smith and returned to duty and took a piece of shrapnel in the chest at Kontum during a rocket attack just before the battle began. I do not know what happened to Blackwell after he was hit. I suspect he was medevac'ed out of country.
As I have said there is a lot that happened that is not recorded in what I have read. One of the OH-6 aircraft on the map is the aircraft I was shot down in. Jerry Spradlin was shot down a week later. Jerry was hit by a B-40 rocket (Jerry not the aircraft). Jerry's observer was Larry Marrow and I do not know what happened to Larry but we never saw or heard anything about him again. Jack Rogers was another scout that was there and Jack escorted Jerry's body back to the states and did not return to Pleiku. Jack was also a very brave and courageous pilot that contributed a great deal to that effort. Jack and I were at Kontum waiting to relieve the team that was flying when Jerry was shot down. We both cranked our OH-6's and were on our way to help when Cpt Stein landed and told us to go back to Pleiku. Jim did not want us out there trying to get Jerry out and knew that he was dead.
The scouts were a very tight group and we had taken Jerry's death very hard. I know some of what I have related is before the battle but it was just before and during the NVA build-up. As I stated Cpt Jim Stein was a very brave man and one that I still admire very much to this day. Jim pulled out a Pink Panther pilot that had been shot and was in a bomb crater. It took us all day to finally get the pilot out; he was surrounded by NVA. When we finally got him out he died on the way to the hospital. I have to close now but if you are interested I will respond later.
Larry Brassell <email@example.com >
USA - Monday, July 21, 2003 at 05:45:13 (PDT)