I was lucky
You will probably not remember me, but I served under you as a door gunner from November 1967 to 1968.
As I get older, things, events from my past come to the fore, so to speak, and I become curious, you know I wonder what ever happened to this person or that person. I've talked to Gene Perry a little, but I'm trying to locate John Shelton. I have always wondered whatever happened to him. What did he do with the rest of his life etc. I am hopeful that perhaps you had kept in contact. Mr. Perry has lost contact.
I would appreciate your time. Glad we all made it home okay.
I spent my first year at camp Holloway as the Battalion mail clerk. I made friends and lived my life knowing that I had a good job and I should take it seriously. I knew how important mail was to everyone. When it came time to go home, I preferred Vietnam to Ft Benning Georgia. Plus, I was always curious about what was over the next hill. I have never had any regrets about extending and becoming an OJT door gunner.
Reading the account from your book THUNDER of your ship being shot down in December 1967 after picking up wounded out of an LZ in Laos, was Brad Witherell, your co-pilot? If so, I think I was your door gunner. We had just started working the SOG mission, and I was a brand-new door gunner. I had never fired my machine gun, or any machine gun, and we were receiving fire on approach and WO Brad said to me to start shooting at something. I said what do I shoot at and he said “you see all those smoke trails that look like little camp fires? That is someone shooting at you, pick one out and shoot back”. I did. OJT, now you are a door gunner.
I was lucky, I know. I never got hurt, but had a once in a lifetime adventure. You, and people like you had a great deal more on your shoulders, and you performed well in my opinion from today's perspective. I'm sure I felt that way then, because I was rarely scared, and just did my job to the best of my ability, (most of the time). I will say this; when good old alligator 207 was shot down in that LZ in March 1968, and we were being either mortared or shot at by whoever, I was scared and hugged the ground and said to myself, I want my family to be proud of me for what may happen today, perhaps even die. I wasn't thinking of the infantry guys we were with, but I was thinking of my crew. I was the low man on the totem pole as a door gunner, but this was MY CREW. I was ready to give my life for them if need be. I don't really call it being brave. I was scared, I felt like a cornered coyote, I guess, but I know I would have performed. I will never forget that feeling. I know I did things the right way on that particular day.
Again, thank you for everything, and thanks for being my Captain.
Terry Montanye <firstname.lastname@example.org>
USA - Tuesday, April 26, 2022 at 17:22:30 (EDT)