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.
While going down a ridge line during a rainy night, Lowe and his men started getting mortared. Lowe was frantically trying to figure out their next move, but Dasher Wheatley instead chose to play in the dirt with a night crawler. Lowe was baffled at Dash’s behavior, but Dash responded with some words of wisdom that Lowe would never forget.
After being drafted in 1962, Tal Centers became an artillery surveyor, responsible for siting batteries and establishing ground coordinates. A three year posting to Cold War Europe gave way to the inevitable when he received orders for Vietnam.
Freddie Owens looks back at the devastation he faced at LZ Albany and balances that against the joy he feels when he sees the offspring and grandchildren of those who survived. These are feelings that he tried, and failed, to express in written form.
Dasher Wheatley was out on a search and destroy mission, and he and his men quickly found themselves outmanned and outgunned. Butch Swanton, who was on the mission with Dash, was hit, and Dash ordered everyone else to retreat while he stayed with Swanton to get him evacuated.
Freddie Owens reveals his most vivid memory of Vietnam, the desperate run of Capt. George Forrest right through the middle of an ambush. He also talks about the best and worst days of his tour.
Freddie Owens has maintained contact with his fellow veterans from Vietnam, sometimes talking them out from under the bed in the middle of the night. His own healing was incomplete when he saw the Twin Towers fall on 9-11 and that became a turning point for him.
Operation Kings started out badly when two young Marines suffered heat stroke and had to be evacuated. Then the three platoons were caught in an ambush by a larger enemy force. In the chaos, Lt. Frank Cox went to aid of his favorite corporal, whose life was saved by an unusual haversack load. Part 1 of 2.
Ron Mastin's first stop at the Hanoi Hilton was an area known as Heartbreak Hotel. One day he heard an American voice, the first he'd heard. "Do you know the tap code?" Once he had this, when he was near others, they could communicate. He still did not see another American until he got his first roommate.
It was better to put men in the field and leave them there. That was the philosophy of Battalion commander Ralph Puckett in Vietnam, where some commanders inserted and then quickly withdrew their troops. When the operation was over, the reward was beer and steak and ice cream. Being prepared was very important to him and he illustrates that principle with a story about some soldiers who were not.
Terry Sater joined the Navy in 1966 with hopes of avoiding going to Vietnam. His initial deployment was aboard the USS Enterprise stationed off the Coast of Vietnam. After failing Electronics School Terry was assigned to the Mobile Riverine Force Training in California.
Helicopter pilot Fred Mills was "really busy" flying medical evacuations in Vietnam. When trees prevented a landing, he dropped a chainsaw to troops, and he used a map with no borders to evacuate from Cambodia. It was "the dirty part of the war."
Dennis Haines was assigned to the 199th Light Infantry Brigade in Vietnam. The only brigade not attached to a division, the light infantry was so-named because they could move out on a mission at a moment’s notice. He describes the execution and fear of a frontal assault.
New Marine officer Frank Cox and his friend Jack Swallows admired the beauty of the mountains and landscape of Vietnam as they approached it on the troop ship. They didn't know where they were going, but soon they knew what knowledge they were lacking, and that was how to avoid booby traps, how to avoid friendly crossfires and how to relate to people who weren't really on your side.
His experience in Vietnam taught him something about what it means to be an American, says Jim Lawrence. He reflects on the death of his friend, Don Cornett, and the effect it had on all the lives connected to him. Multiply those numbers by the 58,000 names on The Wall and you get an idea of the true scale of the tragedy of war.
Initial contact had been made with the enemy at a site known as Hamburger Hill. Two days after Gordon Roberts arrived in the A Shau Valley, the battle began to grow, and lasted ten days as a vast bunker complex was discovered and taken. The main lesson he took from this fight was to press hard after initial contact so the opposition can't set up and execute their plan.
Frank Aiken found his Montagnard allies to be somewhat lawless and wild, though he says they were good fighters and they were lucky to have them. The enemy was everywhere, trying to get through the wire at night and taking potshots at them on the roads. He joined the locals for meals, though he says you couldn't be sure what you were eating.
Richard Nixon gave them six weeks to get into Cambodia and get out. Greg Camp got there and then had to deal with an ad hoc company of cooks, clerks and malcontents he was given. As their deadline approached, he tried to help a West Point classmate who was nearby with his own company and a severely wounded soldier. His only hope was the Jungle Penetrator, a rescue rig that could be lowered from a helicopter.
Dasher Wheatley taught Lowe many important lessons and he was always prepared for whatever situation befell the men. One day Dash filled up his canteens with water, added the purification tablets, put them away, and then drank water straight from the stream. Confused, Jim asked what he was doing, to which Dash responded in a way that proved just how valuable a soldier and great a friend Dash was to Lowe.
After a variety of Army medical jobs, Fred Mills had a final task. Planning operations for the Gulf War. After retiring, he recalls the harassment when he returned from his 2nd tour in Vietnam. Some sore bar patrons and scared Hare Krishnas also remember.
Freddie Owens says they paid no attention to news from home while in the field in Vietnam. They were trying to survive a war and didn't need the distraction. He certainly paid attention when he got home and there was a mob outside the airport.