"Sharing can be a way of healing. Grief and loss can isolate,
anger even alienate. Shared with others, emotions unite
as we see we aren't alone. We realize others weep with us."
~Susan Wittig Albert

Through our writing, we walk out of the darkness into the light
together, one small step at a time, recording history, educating
America, and we are healing.
~CJ/Todd Dierdorff

Friday, October 10, 2014

Laotian Rescue Mission: by Byron Edgington

Byron Edgington and his Huey
CJ: I read with interest the medal of honor piece about Mr. Lemon. He's certainly a hero in my book. 

Here's a piece that may shed some additional light on the sentiments he expressed, the idea that we were all in it together.

First, let me state categorically that I am not a hero, and I will disdain the label, should anyone try to affix it to me.

The blog entry of October 6th, The Reluctant Hero, about Congressional Medal of Honor winner, Peter Lemon, reminded me of the mentality we all seemed to share in Vietnam, that, as corny and outdated as it might sound, we were indeed our brothers' keepers over there.
In chapter 12 of my memoir, The Sky Behind Me, I relate a story about a rescue mission from September 1970.

The short version is this: I was aircraft number two of a four-ship formation of Hueys headed into Laos to rescue a recon team that had been compromised. The NVA had discovered the mens' position, and the enemy was moving in for the kill.

My flight headed out from Camp Eagle, across the AShau Valley and into Laos, where we soon made contact with the beleaguered team. Flight lead, a fellow named Frank Tigano, arrived at the site, hovered so his four men could load, but took too long above the LZ.

As second ship, I had to make a sharp left turn, come back around and approach again. The LZ was too steep to land in, so Frank had been hovering, as men scrambled up a rope ladder into his ship.

When I turned back around, Frank's Huey was laying on its side on the LZ, rotor blades smashed, fuel pouring out, men trapped under the shattered fuselage.

I raced onto the LZ, had my crew drop our ladder, and we hovered while Frank and his men rushed inside my ship. I hovered there for nearly three full minutes — an eternity, it seemed — taking small arms fire the entire time. But I got those men out, and flew them to safety.

It wasn't until much later, nearly back to Camp Eagle, that I took time to assess the danger we'd been in. I realized that it never occurred to any of us to back away, or refuse, or retreat.

Our comrades were in trouble. We dove in and rescued them. It was pretty simple actually. We knew they'd do the same for us, and that knowledge, the realization that someone had our backs, was about the only morale booster we had in Vietnam. But it was a big one.

For a much longer version of the Laotian rescue mission by a fellow Comanchero pilot named Bob Morris, just click on Bob's name.  It's a fine rendition of the story.

Byron Edgington
The SkyWriter
Byron Edgington

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do, and by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

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1 comment:

  1. Thanks for all the rescues Mr. Byron Edgington. I was operating around the same AOs. in 69. Got into a few of those very situations. Without all you & your air crews did during any mission it was a matter of life or death for us all. You & your crews saved more comrads that will ever be known. We always knew your choppers were coming to get us no matter what. A very important part of our survival. I never got to thank hardly anyone for all that was done to save us. Now I wish to say thanks to you all. You guys were our Angels from above. Michael Lansford 101st AirBorne 68-69. Base camp, Camp Eagle. Welcome home my friend & God Bless.


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