6:18 | Occasionally, Farrell would be riding in a helicopter to tend to different batteries across a 200 mile parameter. There were unfortunate times where the helicopters would be malfunctioning, forcing the pilot to land it in unauthorized territory. Much of this territory was occupied by the Montagnard, who had many friendly interactions with Farrell and the other men. Upon arriving at the fight in Dak To, his unit was met with heavy enemy fire almost immediately.
Keywords : Frank Farrell Dak To Vietnam helicopter malfunction Montagnard NVA (North Vietnamese Army) Viet Cong (VC) enemy fire barbed wire Cambodia Ho Chi Minh Trail Pleiku Vietnam 105mm howitzer batteries Hill 875 105mm howitzer
Frank Farrell grew up in an 'army family' with a father who served in the military as an artillery officer, which inspired him to do something similar with his own military career. He went to West Point before going off to Ranger school, then to Airborne school, and finally to artillery school.
Upon finishing a grueling 8 weeks of Ranger school and 4 more weeks of Airborne school, Farrell took on artillery school with the intention of following the path of his father. He wound up in artillery training at Fort Sill, and at this time he also got married at Fort Bragg. Before he even went to Vietnam, he was deployed to Italy as nuclear support for a total of three years and returned back to the states in 1966.
After his deployment in Italy, Frank Farrell was finally sent over to Vietnam in 1967. He talks about what it was like for him to hear about his friends' deaths prior to him going over, and his first job when he reached Vietnam. He was tasked with tending to all the different artillery batteries in his unit and making sure they were all successfully operating and able to complete their missions.
According to Farrell, one of the biggest issues the batteries had was obtaining more ammunition. Many batteries would run out of ammo fairly quickly, and so had to be replenished quickly and effectively. He talks about that struggle as well as what the area around Pleiku, Vietnam was like. In addition, he documents two separate attacks his division made in the middle of Vietnamese tea plantations.
While in the process of shipping supplies over to different batteries, there were times where the supply lines themselves would get attacked, causing a delay in replenishing weapon amounts. Once the battle at Dak To had concluded, Farrell and his men went back to carrying out their traditional search and destroy missions around the area.
Right before the Tet Offensive, Farrell's unit received an extremely powerful new weapon to use against the enemy. The sheer strength and nature of detonation of this weapon forced them to keep it on very secure lock down, stored separately from all the other weapons they had. They'd been suspicious of the NVA's plans prior to the Tet Offensive, but never expected something on as big a scale as that in such little time.
While working in South Vietnam, Frank Farrell remembers a handful of civilian interactions from the war, as they happened a lot of the time. He also talks briefly about leaders that stood out to him and what it was like to hear about US citizen morale upon returning to the states. Following his time in the service, he went on to graduate school in New York and returned to Vietnam many years later to find it was no longer the war zone it once was.
Steve Long was on the ground overnight at An Hoa when the base came under mortar fire. He recalls the selfless action of his hosts there, who protected the visiting Huey crew as best they could. He lost a good friend in another incident, made more tragic by the unusual circumstances.
When Galen Hoover woke up in a hospital with a bandaged head and a broken hand, he had no idea what happened or how he got there. The guys from his unit came to see him and he finally heard the tale of that fateful patrol on the canal that day.
Normally, a door gunner would not fly his last month in country, but Steve Long finagled his way into the air. In his other job in the avionics shop, he had a run-in with the new officer in charge. He got a little satisfaction the night after he got his orders home.
Coming home from Vietnam was a difficult experience. Jesse Groves was perplexed by the apathy and outright abuse. He suppressed his memories and moved on. Once later wars made service respectable again, and once he began to reconnect with his comrades, he could feel proud of his service.
Vietnamization was underway and, soon, Galen Hoover was sleeping away the long flight home. He landed in San Francisco and was glad to be back in the States, but as he left the plane, here came the peace protestors. What happened next haunts him still.
The bullet barely missed wrecking his knee. Jack Jeter was in for some hospital time before he could go home. Once he did, he was amazed at the blase attitude of his friends about Vietnam. Part 3 of 3. (Caution: strong language.)
The river boats were patrolling in narrow canals and rivers, searching for infiltrating NVA troops. Galen Hoover was in the second boat, trailing a boat that was supposed to be mine sweeping. That was the last thing he remembered about that day.
Steve Long was on a bus headed to Marine boot camp when he encountered his first DI, barking orders. He thought he was getting a plum job while marching, but road guard turned out to be not so good. He did enjoy meeting recruits from a wide variety of backgrounds, which was new to him.
“I was out of it for days,” recalls Dennis Haines, He had a head wound and would only regain full consciousness after he was evacuated to a hospital in Japan, where he learned the left side of his body was paralyzed.
Living full time with his Vietnamese crew meant that Galen Hoover ate what they ate. His first night on the river, they served him a dish that was so good, he requested it regularly, even after he found out what it was. The crew knew he was really green, so the boat captain thought he would mess with the new advisor a little.
There was little contact up by the DMZ so the 1st Air Cavalry was moved south near the Cambodian border. Plenty of action there. The first day, Jerry Gast's platoon set off on a 500 meter sweep in front of the perimeter and ran into a trail. The ambitious lieutenant decided they would follow it. Bad idea.
It started 45 minutes out from Da Nang with a sobering announcement from the pilot. Then there was the oven-like climate, the surprise machine gun fire, the ribbing from the old-timers. Steve Long was definitely in Vietnam.
The day Jack Jeter was wounded was the third day of serious firefights. His commanding officer, Captain Barry McCaffrey, was wounded on the first day and the temporary replacement had his own ideas about how to proceed. That led the unit right into big trouble. Part 1 of 3. (Caution: strong language.)
Tony Coalson's helicopter unit flew all of II Corps, a fourth of the entire country, unlike dedicated combat units, which only flew in their little slice of Vietnam. He recalls his first combat related mission, in which he delivered an assessment team right in the middle of one of the biggest battles of the war. Part 1 of 2.
Willard Womack was nervously awaiting the news of what happened to the helicopter carrying some of his friends who had just participated in the Battle of Ap Bac, a crucial turning point early in the war. They had come though that unscathed but were now missing. Decades later, he received an email that brought the memories flooding back. Part 3 of 3. (This interview made possible with the support of RALPH J. TINGLE.)
When helicopter pilot Tony Coalson was on the ground during the Battle of Dak To, he was astounded at the numbers of American dead. Some of the casualties were from a terrible friendly fire incident. He remembers watching a C-130 full of wounded men just barely survive takeoff. When he returned to his base, he had a solemn observation for his roommate. Part 2 of 2.
Upon leading the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, Myron Harrington had to help conduct an attack on the citadel in Hue City, Vietnam. This is the story of how he and his men charged the tower, which took longer to accomplish than expected.
As the American advisor argued with his Vietnamese counterpart over the radio, Willard Womack, an Army pilot stuck in transit, could hear the frustration mounting. The battle of Ap Bac could not be won with these tactics. Eventually, the evacuation was made and, weeks later, several of the aviators involved hitched a ride to Saigon for a night of carousing. Pt 2 of 3. (This interview made possible with the support of RALPH J. TINGLE.)
Willard Womack gives his account of the Battle of Ap Bac, a significant turning point in the Vietnam War. It begins with him hitching a flight to Saigon to pick up the pay for his outfit. Detoured on his way back to his base, he saw a group of men listening intently to a firefight on a radio. Part 1 of 3. (This interview made possible with the support of RALPH J. TINGLE.)
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.
There were 87 men on some high ground surrounded by Viet Cong and Marine helicopter pilot Bill Cunningham had a problem. There was only room for one ship at a time to land in the tiny landing zone they had hacked out of the bush. It would be one at a time so he spiraled down for the first load. Then he felt like a sledgehammer hit his leg.
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.
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.
Even after all that happened at the ambush site with the Viet Cong, Newinn and his special forces were instructed to return there once again to finish what they started. Upon arriving in the area once again, he came across a dead VC man, and it was his job to search the body for any kind of identification and clues.