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Thank you for visiting The Battle of Kontum. And please feel free to add a comment concerning the Audio Taped Interviews.

My name is Sid Chambers and I was assigned as a Captain to the 57th Assault Helicopter Company on June 22, 1972. I was a Lift Platoon Section Leader in the First Flight Platoon. As an incoming newbie, I inherited the 57th Awards and Decorations (A&D) Officer. I am not sure who the previous A&D Officer was or what happened to him. Since I was very occupied with my in-country check rides, mission briefings, and other new guy familiarization activities, I also never got to meet Vogel and Lea. In fact, I think they may have already headed back to the states. But I did have the privilege of reading their statements as well as all of the award documentation. Even though that was 45 years ago, I still remember how impressed I was as I read accounts about their actions after their UH-1H was shot down.

As I read their statements, I was totally amazed at what they had accomplished. As officers, we were supposed to be the leaders, but it was so gratifying to me to see CEs and DGs step up in a horrific situation and take charge. Those accounts were almost unbelievable as they managed to elude enemy soldiers, obtain radios and later, batteries from an enemy camp! That was unreal plus they still managed to take care of the wounded, find food and water, and finally after 2 weeks on the ground, they were rescued. The award documentation was for Silver Stars. I did check with the 17th Aviation Group A&D Officer to see if these awards could be upgraded to a Distinguished Service Cross or even a Medal of Honor. But I was not successful. I certainly hope they did receive their Silver Stars. They earned them.

Subsequently, the 57th AHC had another set of enlisted crewmembers who stepped up in October 1972. Their story was in the VHPA Aviator magazine a few years ago. The CE was SP4 John Ross the DG was SP4 Jeff Smith. John took charge when his co-pilot was killed and the AC was severely wounded when their Huey was hit by a 57mm recoilless rifle while sitting on the ground at Firebase 16 south of Pleiku. Through his actions, they were able to successfully evacuate the wounded and surviving members of the crew. John and Jeff were also awarded Silver Stars. John and I have kept up with each other since the late 90s and now we see each other at the Gladiator Reunions and other informal get togethers. Although we were officer and enlisted then, we are brothers now and count him as one of my lifelong friends.


LTC Sid Chambers - US Army Retired

Sid Chambers <>
- Wednesday, May 03, 2017 at 17:41:26 (EDT)

Listening to your recording early this morning has immobilized me mentally. So far, I haven't been able to do anything today. I will just go for a long walk this afternoon. I keep seeing everything over and over. (Naturally, I won't listen to the other recordings right away -- you know, audio overload.)
Let me add this, however. I have noticed that too many interviews on FB are often lousy because the quality of the person asking the questions is often lousy. But you had the GREAT SHEEHAN -- wow. Put that in you pipe and think about it for a while (smile face). He almost never let you up for oxygen. Good on him. Otherwise we wouldn't have your voice of EXPERIENCE.
Because, you deserve it!
They say the true job of an editor is to make the voice of the writer sound more like himself than he already does. That's exactly what Sheehan did to you. Full stop.

James Michener <>
Vientiane, Laos - Friday, March 24, 2017 at 17:44:56 (EDT)

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