"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

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Crew Chief's Memory of Thanksgiving '68

Thanksgiving - Vietnam War-Style

by Lance Pinamonte

Sometimes one person’s story inspires another, only from a different angle, but still from the same day.

Like most days, a helicopter crew's day begins the day before. 

After landing from a 12-hour day, we went to work on the aircraft, most of the time in the dark.

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. 

Once all was in place, we fired up the bird, and with a quick "Clear Left/Clear Right", we were on our way to the resupply pads of Lai Khe.

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. 

We loaded our ship with everything and took off, all of this while the ship was running. Then we flew towards the boonies.

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. 

These guys were our reason to be thankful. They were the ones who were sleeping in the mud, while we slept, showered and were clean. 

We would sometimes steal ice cream from the VIP supply pads for them -- it was always good to see them smile -- they were our brothers. When they said "Thank You", we knew it was felt and it made our day...  on this day, the smiles were contagious.  

We helped them unload the containers, then took off for another sortie to another group. This went on all day and then we returned to the outfits later to pick up the empty containers.

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.

Lance L. Pinamonte
U.S. Army - 1967 to 1970
67N30 Crewchief/Doorgunner Helicopter Mech.
Champagne Flight

Other Articles by Lance:

“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

Feel free to comment on this post. You are also invited to write about anything you want to share. Memoirs From Nam is YOUR blog. You are writing America's history.

Send it to me in an e-mail and I will be proud to post it for you.


  1. An enjoyable article, Lance, thank you! --Michael Roman

  2. Thanks for all you did for us out there. Most were where chow couldn't be sent in, but as always we made the most of what we had. Just thankful for another day, especially Thanksgiving as we all had so much to be thankful for. The sound of choppers coming in for any reason made us smile as well as more apprehensive due to where our LZ happened to be at that time. Joy & fear all rolled into one.


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