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Steven Riddle  

To the best of my memory.


You are bringing back to life what had almost become a dream.

I was flying one of the damaged gunships you mentioned on May 17th in the Battle of Kontum.

To the best of my memory.

We had staged at Kontum and were waiting for further mission orders. The two Cobras were secured in revetments along with a fully loaded “Bravo” model Huey Gunship and we were watching the C130 load. It was taking on refugees leaving the city. A line of locals extended from the back of the aircraft all carrying as much as they could, trying to get out of harms way, a number of them were already on board.

Rockets started coming in from a nearby ridge and at the first explosion the 130 pilot hit the throttles. As the aircraft rotated we all remarked that the load gate still hadn’t stowed and it was going to be bad. Well it was. The ramp contacted the runway and caused the nose to drop. I stood there in shock as the whole thing disintegrated into a ball of flame. I am amazed that anyone survived. I never heard until I read the account today that anyone did.

With the cargo plane dispatched the enemy concentrated its fire on our Helicopters and rockets started hitting all around us. We climbed into a nearby conex that was sitting next to a small water tower and took cover. The problem was that the conex faced the line of fire. My copilot didn’t like that and decided he would take cover outside. At about the same time rockets hit the revetment and the water tower. My crewmate took a chunk of shrapnel in the side and came crawling back into the container. We all decided we should try to get him to medical help and out of the line of fire. A hurried check of the Cobras found they had both been damaged by the revetment hit, a hole as big as a basketball was in our engine cowl and I think the tail end of the other ship was gone. The Huey was untouched but heavily loaded with fuel and ammo. We had four extra crewmembers added to the four Huey guys to get off the ground. Somehow the pilot of that underpowered, overloaded helicopter managed to waggle it down the PSP until we got enough speed to get off the ground. It was a sweet, sweet moment and we all cheered.

We got airborne and flew through the smoke of the C130, I will never forget that moment.

I do remember one more thing from that day. A double Scotch was twenty cents!

Thanks for verifying my life!

Steven Riddle <>
USA - Wednesday, June 07, 2006 at 19:29:59 (PDT)

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