9:47 | He considered it a day at the office, but on that day, helicopter pilot Roger Cox helped save an infantry platoon's bacon, landed in the middle of a fire fight in an attempted rescue, exhausted all his ammo trying to keep the men on the ground safe, and got shot down just for good measure.
Keywords : Roger Cox helicopter pilot Vietnam ambush B40 rocket Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) murder badge
Growing up as a Mormon in Utah, Roger Cox had a conservative outlook during the turbulent politics of the Sixties. He very much wanted to fly, and when the other services insisted on a college degree for flight school, he enlisted in the Army, which had a program for anyone who had the necessary talents.
Roger Cox was woefully unaware of the wider world when he was plunked down in Vietnam as a wide eyed nineteen year old. Why was there a swastika on that building? Why the strange reaction from one of the workers on the base when he met her on the street?
The air cavalry attached to the armored cavalry had the job of supporting the ground unit. When Roger Cox got to Vietnam, he became a Cobra gunship pilot. Each Cobra was paired with a smaller scout helicopter in a hunter-killer team. After a couple of months, he switched to scout pilot, which had some advantages that appealed to him.
Due to his religion, Roger Cox did not drink, smoke or swear. This caused some teasing from his fellow pilots in Vietnam, but he hung around while they drank, absorbing their advice and experiences. He realized he had the necessary skill set and became very good at dominating a fight with the enemy on the ground.
Visual reconnaissance was one type of mission that scout helicopter pilot Roger Cox flew in Vietnam. When you found some enemy on the ground, you struck first and hard. His other job was to support the infantry platoon of his cavalry unit. When they got into trouble, he went to bail them out.
When helicopter pilot Roger Cox responded to a call for help from an infantry platoon caught in an ambush, he first tried to get the layout of the battlefield. Where are the good guys? Where are the bad guys? Then he went to work.
Helicopter pilot Roger Cox tells the story of his first shoot down, a "good" shoot down. It was good in the sense that he was able to make it to a safe place to land. On another occasion, he came to the aid of another pilot who's shoot down wasn't so good.
Roger Cox wasn't flying that day, but another helicopter pilot from his unit ran into an ambush when he popped over a hill and the enemy on the ground were waiting for him. He was shot up pretty good, but managed to make it back to base where Cox got him to smile about it.
He was immediately recognized as a good scout pilot. Roger Cox started his second year in Vietnam with a new air cavalry unit and he carried on with the tactics he learned in his first year. You have to dominate the fight.
The call went out, infantry platoon in an ambush. Helicopter pilot Roger Cox responded and, during the fight, a Medevac pilot made the unusual decision to go in for the evacuation while the area was still hot. Cox covered him and kept up the fight, even after exhausting all his ammunition, an act which did not go unnoticed.
When the pilots were gathered at the bar, they could not help but laugh at something that happened that day. A platoon leader on the ground was under attack and could not get out any words except expletives.
Helicopter pilot Roger Cox was used to dominating the enemy on the ground, but he tells the story of a time when he knew he was beaten and retreated.
He was pinned down by enemy fire when he suddenly realized that, with his captain called to the front of the column, he was the leader of a company in the middle of an ambush. Jim Lawrence knew he had to get them moving and away from there so he stood up and at that moment, a sniper fired. Part 4 of 5.
Don Ware explains the details of flight missions operated in the Red River Valley during the Vietnam War. He then recalls a flight in which he led four F-105s on a mission to blow up a bridge on the Red River, and had to engage in several improvisational efforts to complete the mission and get home.
Pilot Charles White, Jr. was at the top of his class and wanted to go to Vietnam, but was devastated when the Air Force decided there were enough fighter pilots and made a Forward Air Controller out of him. Based out of Thailand and flying over Laos, he targeted movement on the Ho Chi Minh Trail for air strikes.
After recovering from a wound suffered on his first tour of Vietnam, Paul Van Riper tried to return to the same assignment. The Marine Corps had other ideas, however, and after a stint as an instructor at Quantico, he got his own company to command.
There was a clique in the Transportation Corps, says Frank Francois III. The old boy network determined which officers would be on the track for promotions, and they had decreed that there would only be one black general at a time in the Corps. However, his boss, Hank Del Mar, was having none of it.
David Brown can't remember anything about his first battle, but he'll never forget the second one, Hill 823. The men had to jump from helicopters onto the hilltop. Soon, they were surrounded as the enemy who fled during the bombardment came back up the hill to reclaim it. A long, sleepless night followed, with American gunships keeping up a constant barrage of bullets.
As the battle at Kilo One continued, Bob Atkinson's mortar team ran out of ammo and he had to crawl to another mortar pit under heavy fire to get some more. They kept getting incoming rounds until they hit the enemy firing a recoilless rifle from their own chow hall. The fright turned to bitterness as he ended the night alone on watch. Part 2 of 3.
Kenneth Moorefield, from the perspective of two combat tours followed by service in US embassies in the South and in the postwar North, says that he is still unsure about the value of the American engagement there. He is sure that the actions of the incoming administration in 1968 were deplorable, in light of facts that have emerged since then.
While in Vietnam, Marshall Carter was lucky enough to step on two mines that were both duds. It didn't faze him at all because he already expected not to return home. "The half life of a company commander in Vietnam was about four months." His aggressive tactics took the battle to the enemy and he survived.
When Ed Zielinski returned home from Vietnam, he took fire immediately, a spitball from an anti-war protestor. His entered a trying time in his life, but continuing to fly was a big help. He joined the National Guard and taught new helicopter pilots the real life skills they would need, the ones not in the book. (Caution: Coarse language)
The attack on the citadel in Hue City, Vietnam was no easy task, as one can imagine. It is here that Myron Harrington goes into descriptive detail on how exactly they planned and conducted this tower attack.
The extra choppers that Marshall Carter requested for his raid on a Viet Cong gathering came in handy right away. The command team's chopper was hit by enemy fire and had to be replaced even before the team arrived at the site. Part 2 of 5.
The Ia Drang battle marked a turning point in the Vietnam War. The enemy was prepared to sacrifice an entire division to find out two things: how to deal with American air mobility and how to deal with overwhelming supporting arms. Marine Captain Marshall Carter explains how they developed two tactics that were used the rest of the war.
During one mission, they were ambushed by enemy forces, leaving himself and others wounded. After they began to engage the enemy, they had retreated and the Medevacs were called in to gather the injured.
Jim Lawrence had intensely trained his reconnaissance platoon and had them armed and ready when they reached Vietnam, but what they found was vendors at the harbor selling boots and toys. Their first job was to carve a base camp out of the wilderness in the Central Highlands.
Bob Atkinson's favorite C-ration was the pound cake, and he tells about finding something unusual in his cake. R&R seemed non-existent but he did have one six day leave and met his mother in Hawaii because he was sure he would not survive the war. Flying back, he marveled at how pretty the country looked from the air.
In Vietnam, helicopter pilot Dick Dyer was reminded of what he was taught in ROTC, that you can't get too close to the enlisted men and non-commissioned officers. When he wasn't flying, he corresponded with his wife and family and even a few random citizens who got his name from the paper back home.
It was the most horrific, yet the most important day in his life. Jim Lawrence says the Battle of Landing Zone Albany made him the man he is today. As he sat in the hospital recovering from his wound, he read the casualty list from the battle and checked off over sixty names of men he knew personally.