David A Clemen
It Was an Honor to Serve
In 1972 I was an infantry sergeant assigned to B-Troop after D-Troop stood down. I lead a rescue/recovery team that rode along in Hueys as the unit worked the A.O. This team was hastily formed shortly after Capt. Wayne Finch and SP-4, James Blackwood were shot down. Blackwood was rescued, but Capt. Finch was lost, because the ARVN Unit involved was slow to respond and then refused to make a second rescue attempt. Pilots and crews demanded an American Unit be available, because they would not hesitate regardless of the risk. They were all volunteers and made up of infantrymen from D-troop. Sgt. Rick Canavitch, SP-4 Waldon, SP-4 Lewis, and SP-4 Mier.
On one occasion, as I was watching with a pair of binoculars from the Huey I saw a LOH go down and a second LOH fly in and pickup the crew. A short time later, Cpt. Jim Stein was in the Huey with me over the downed LOH site, explaining how we were going to sling the LOH out. At the time I though "who is this guy?" First he gets shot down and then he sticks a wrench in his boot so he can go back and sling out his own helicopter. The NVA were all over the place, so a gunship destroyed the LOH.
On May 16 part of B-Troop was attacked with recoilless rifle fire near the Kontum airfield. One LOH had its tail-boom blown off, I do not remember who the pilot was, but the "Oscar" (Observer) was Sgt. Pennybaker. He was a good friend and fortunately neither he nor the pilot were injured. However, myself, SP-4 Lewis, and one other were seriously wounded. I was bleeding in a trench when Cpt. Stein's LOH landed almost directly over me. He helped me into the back of the LOH and we were out of there in seconds. He flew me to the ARVN Field Hospital, which looked like something out of the Civil War so it was decided to head for the 67 Evac. in Pleiku. However before leaving, the ARVN MD gave me a shot of Morphine for pain. On the way to Pleiku I started to feel better. Suddenly the LOH pitched to one side and I almost fell out to a certain death. Strange as it might sound the thought of him landing at the 67 Evac. Hospital with no patient caused me to laugh out loud.
I never had a chance to thank Cpt. Stein so I'm thanking him now. It was an honor to serve with him and all the members of B-Troop.
Presently I am an R.N and work for the VA at Tripler Army Medical Center here in Hawaii.
Former Sgt. David A Clemen
David A Clemen <firstname.lastname@example.org>
USA - Monday, December 01, 2003 at 18:16:47 (PST)