Exploits of a Combat Helicopter Pilot
VIETNAM SAGA: Exploits of a Combat Helicopter Pilot
Excerpt from Chapter 4
I continued to fly ass and trash missions with the Rattlers for about a week until my orders came in transferring me to the Warlords. On the next to the last mission that I flew for the Rattlers, the AC and I had just delivered several new guys, the mail, and miscellaneous items to a base called Mihn Long, when a Special Forces Major came out to the helipad and asked us to shut the aircraft down and come to the Tactical Operations Center (TOC) for an urgent briefing.
We went into the TOC where we were told that a village about eight miles to the west had been attacked the previous night, and they’d had no further communications with it. The village contained about forty Vietnamese Regional Forces/Provisional Forces called “Ruff Puffs” and approximately two hundred villagers made up of civilian men, women, and children. The major asked us to take eight Special Forces Green Berets out to the village to see what happened. We agreed and then loaded everybody on board. Flying to the village took only a few minutes, but as we got closer we could see smoke rising up from the center. We descended and slowly flew over the village where we saw that everything had been burned down.
In the central open area, there was a large circle of dead Ruff Puff soldiers and village men. Inside the circle was a pile of naked, obviously dead women who had been raped, disemboweled, and mutilated. Several of the women had been pregnant, and their babies had been cut out of their bellies. There also was a group of approximately twenty to thirty small children who had been tied together and burned alive with gasoline. All the animals and dogs had been killed by the NVA and Vietcong. It was apparent the village men had been made to watch as their wives and children were abused, butchered, and set aflame.
After circling for a few minutes at about five hundred feet (to see if we would draw ground fire), I landed the aircraft outside the village perimeter and the Special Forces operators departed the aircraft and went inside the compound with weapons at the ready. For safety purposes, we took off and climbed to about fifteen hundred feet and circled overhead until we were radioed to pick up the guys on the ground about an hour later. When they climbed aboard, we could tell most of the hardened Special Forces operators had been crying (with tear streaks down their cheeks), and were in a state of shock at what had occurred in the village. They had known the people there personally. We took them back to their base at Minh Long and dropped them off. I was horrified and sickened by what I had witnessed in the village and can only describe the scene as Satan’s playground: straight out of hell!
I thought of the poem by Aldus Huxley in his book Apes and Essence:
The leeches kiss; the squids embrace,
the prurient apes defiling touch:
Do you like the human race?
No, not much!
That day, and forever more, I did not like the Communist “race” at all and decided I would seek revenge for all the people they had brutally tortured, raped, and murdered.
The next day we were told the NVA and Vietcong had made an example of the village, and the Ruff Puffs living there, because of their support of the Americans and South Vietnamese forces. I knew then that I’d made the right decision to become a Loach pilot and fly for the Warlords.
That incident immediately hardened my heart against the enemy and created an inner rage to kill as many NVA and Vietcong soldiers as I possibly could. Later, I would tap into that rage before every flight to prepare myself for what I was about to encounter that day – a perfect strategy!