4:24 | Navy gunship pilot Robert Goddard flew missions in support of ground troops in Vietnam. His Huey gunship had awesome firepower but he had to be careful when the situation called for firing very close to friendly forces.
Keywords : Robert Goddard Vietnam helicopter pilot Bell UH-1 Iroquois (Huey) rotor wash gunship Minigun M60 machine gun U Minh Forest Green Beret Sea Wolves US Navy Sea Air and Land Teams (SEALS)
Out of a sense of patriotism and duty, and with a strong desire to learn how to fly, Robert Goddard joined the Navy during the Vietnam War and entered flight school. Taking the helicopter path, he volunteered for the Sea Wolves, a special unit flying Huey gunships.
It was down in the delta where Robert Goddard was based in Vietnam. The Navy Sea Wolves pilot flew a Huey gunship in support of the small Navy boats operating on the rivers and the ground troops in the area. He remembers his first mission well because of something he'd never seen, tracers from an AK-47.
When the scramble horn went off, the Sea Wolves pilots and crew dropped everything and rushed to get in the air. Robert Goddard flew a Huey gunship, often based on an offshore ship in the Gulf of Thailand. They weren't safe from the Viet Cong even there because of sappers constantly trying to attach explosives to the hull. He was lucky, never getting a scratch despite gunfire from the ground, tricky maintenance and water in the fuel.
The Sea Wolves were a Navy helicopter squadron that flew Huey gunships in support of ground troops in Vietnam. Pilot Robert Goddard frequently could not fire because he didn't know where the enemy was, sometimes just trying to attract fire himself to distract them. One day he let a fellow pilot take his place on one of these missions, a decision he thinks about til this day.
His experience in Vietnam as a Navy helicopter pilot gave Robert Goddard a sense of very close kinship with the men he met there. It also honed the skills needed to succeed in civilian life after the war. Did any of the Vietnam War movies get it right? He says there are two.
Navy gunship pilot Robert Goddard remembers close calls he had in Vietnam, some due to enemy fire, some to friendly fire and at least one of his own making.
Huey gunship pilot Robert Goddard recalls the time some "hot intel" turned into a hot reception from the Viet Cong. He can't pinpoint who it was who planted the false information, but it was a set up, for sure.
When he stepped off the plane in Da Nang, Michael Marshall knew this was not a place you wanted to be. It was hot and there was a strange smell. Within days, he was with his Marine unit at An Hoa, providing security for bridge building engineers. It did not take long before he saw death.
After the column was devastated by an NVA ambush, wounded Americans were scattered in the darkness. After his captain heard one such group calling for help on the radio, Freddie Owens joined a patrol to find them, guided by a gunshot every few minutes. Once there, medic Daniel Torres volunteered to stay with those who couldn't move and protected them through the night with medicine and a machine gun.
They were hunkered down after fierce fighting when the call came from "Ghost 4-6." It was a group of wounded men who had pulled themselves together after the ill fated march to LZ Albany and were lost in the dark. George Forrest sent a patrol to find them, and in an incredible act of bravery, medic Daniel Torres stayed through the night with them and saved many men. Captain Forrest still had to write a gut-wrenching letter to the mother of a missing soldier. Part 3 of 4.
The RPG that severed Joe McDonald’s foot didn’t kill him. The machine gun fire that hit him as he still tried to help others didn’t kill him. The grenade taped to his hand might have killed him if the VC had found his hiding place.
What was it like moving through thick jungle? Michael Marshall answers that question and more as he recalls his time in Vietnam. He loved his M14 rifle, but he wasn't too crazy about the C-rations and the old grenades.
In a letter home, Tommy Clack expressed his worry that something bad was going to happen and it did when his unit engaged the NVA near the Cambodian border. He saw the enemy soldier stand and fire the RPG that changed his life forever.
As Marine Captain Ron Christmas fought to regain the city of Hue, he found the enemy adept at concealment and surprise. Every soldier in a spider hole was armed with a rifle and a RPG launcher. He also encountered a nun with an AK-47. His action during this time earned him the Navy Cross.
Hamann admires a Cambodian colonel and his soldiers, whose sacrifice was felt throughout the war. The Rustics feel guilt and dismay following orders to vacate the region, leaving their Cambodian allies to face communist aggression without US air support.
A veteran of World War II and Korea, Frank Noonan served long enough to make it to Saigon on the first American warship to venture up the Mekong River. There, he observed a German civilian use an unusual defensive technique when attacked at a sidewalk cafe. (This interview made possible with the support of JANIS HAUSER In Memory Of ALFRED W. HAUSER, Army Air Corps.)
Upon his arrival in Vietnam, Roger Hamann is assigned to serve as a "Rustic", communicating with French-speaking Cambodian troops from the back seat of an OV-10. Though he flies dozens of combat missions out of his Thailand air base, one in particular still haunts him.
Jack Martin had no close personal relationships with Vietnamese civilians during his tour, but the children who gathered whenever he stopped his jeep were friendly and curious. They were interested in a physical trait that Americans had that none of them shared. He also hosted the occasional USO visitor, including Tarzan, who refused a helmet. (This interview made possible with the support of BARBARA SHELDON in honor of Joseph Graham.)
Army engineer Jack Martin was offered his choice of assignments. It could be Korea or Vietnam and he hated cold weather so much, he chose Vietnam. His first assignment was at a desk in Long Binh, but his career got a boost when he was offered command of a battalion. He jumped at the chance and faced a host of challenging situations. (This interview made possible with the support of BARBARA SHELDON in honor of Joseph Graham.)
He was used to discipline, so Marine boot camp wasn't so bad for Michael Marshall. When the drill instructor asked if anyone was unhappy and wanted to go to the Army, he thought surely no one would step forward.
As a battalion commander, Army engineer Jack Martin had a host of problems. From whether there were enough personnel to get the job done to keeping wayward enlisted men from abusing the Vietnamese civilians. Then there was the grim task of writing condolence letters. (This interview made possible with the support of BARBARA SHELDON in honor of Joseph Graham.)
The Marines did what they could to help villagers with sanitation and health needs, but Michael Marshall could feel the chilly distance between them. His company commander was Captain Jerome Cooper, who held an important distinction.
After his first tour, Grady Birdsong got orders to a new assignment in Dong Ha, where he spent time clearing roads and running security. Keeping an eye out for enemy forces while on the road was essential to staying alive.
It was early in the battle when Michael Marshall pointed to the machine gunner to show him where to set up his weapon. An enemy round tore into his arm and he was knocked to the ground. The rapid response of his buddies and the evacuation team was outstanding. Back home, his employer before the war continued the good work.