|Thanksgiving - Vietnam War-Style|
by Lance Pinamonte
Like most days, a helicopter crew's day begins the day before.
The Pilots had already gone in to be debriefed and get their assignments for the next day. The Gunners took their guns to the cleaning station and began their tear downs for cleaning. The Crew Chiefs were pulling intake barrier filters, wiping, lubing rotor heads, and inspecting every inch of the ship.
When the Gunners were done with the cleaning, they returned to the ship to help the Crew Chief with maintenance. So around 2300, most of the crews were done, and many finished their aircraft and were helping those who had more to do, like intermediate inspections.
Maybe by 0100, all the crews were done and they had a chance to go in and check the mission board for the next day, grab a bite to eat at the mess hall, take a shower, and change clothes..
This was Thanksgiving and the mess hall smelled great, as they prepared for the next day. Nothing was ready, of course, but it smelled great.
After my shower and a change of clothes, I checked the mission board and saw "Resupply, 0600 report" and knew it would be an early wake up. If I could get to sleep, I could maybe get a solid four hours of shut eye. So I went out to my ship, strung my hammock, dug my poncho liner out and hit the sack.
The pilots and Gunner woke me up at 0500 by opening the doors. I wiped the sleep from my eyes, put up my hammock and liner, helped the gunner haul his guns/ammo, and went over the pre-flight with the AC and Pilot.
Contact with the resupply crews and landing in between their rows of supply's, we would usually load up the ship with C rations and ammo, but today was different. Today they had deuce and a halfs just off the pads and were hauling insulated containers for hot meals to the pads.
Smoke popped in a small clearing in the middle of nowhere as we swooped down to deliver chow to a worn out looking group of grunts, 11B. They would be waking up in a bug infested jungle, tired, eaten, wet, and smiling at our arrival.
Sometimes the temps would be in the high 90's, humidity at 98%, and they had been walking for days. "Looking for trouble", is what my ex-grunt Gunner would say.
The funny part is the fact that we only got to eat some beanie weenies from our C's, and had very little time to think about what we were missing meal-wise.
So another day ended and once again we went to work on our evening inspections, cleaning, then finally going to the mess hall for our turkey sandwich, a cold shower -- and if we were lucky, the "Thank you’s" would be our reason for a good night’s sleep ...
Happy Thanksgiving to all the 11Bravos out there.
God bless America.
67N30 Crewchief/Doorgunner Helicopter Mech.
“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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