"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

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Round Trip: by Lance Pinamonte

Some things stick with you longer than needed...

Recently, I found myself wondering why I am filled with a deep dread whenever I think of a "Round trip Ticket".

The reason finally dawned on me the other day when I was discussing prices for round trip packages with a friend.

In other posts, I have told the world what a normal day was for a flight crew in the RVN.  We started our days before daylight with pre-flight, our mission, or missions, fairly set before takeoff. On many days, our mission would change as the day went on, by changing courses, or schedules, as needed to support, or lift, troops and supplies.

This is an example of one of those days ...

It was a simple day. We were taking off from our revetment with a "Clear Left, Clear Right" from the Gunner, and Crew Chief, hovering to the main strip, calling for clearance, and quickly going into transitional lift, then climbing to 1500'. 

Our day was set:  lift an LLRP team into an area near Nui Ba Ra, then fly some resupply to various units in the field. So we flew into Lai Khe to pickup the LRRP's and dropped them without problems. We then went back to Lai Khe, and loaded C's and water for the first resupply run.

After a couple of sorties, we got a call for an emergency Medivac.  We were in the area, so we turned around, turned on the speed, contacted the unit, and realized it was the LRRP's we had dropped earlier. 

We came in high and they popped smoke, then dropped down to the tree tops and came in hot to the small clearing.  We picked up a few tracers as we cleared the trees, but nothing heavy.

Carrying an Injured LRRP
The LRRP's had two wounded.  One was serious, with a sucking chest wound.  Another had schrapnel in his leg.

I helped load them up and gave the pilots a green light to DiDiMoa!  

We cleared the LZ and climbed quickly to 1500', heading at top speed to the Lai Khe Medivac pad.

My gunner and I swung around and checked our passengers. Both were fairly stable and it looked like they would make it home.

We landed shortly, and the medics came out to the pad to help evac our passengers. I was most worried about the guy with the chest wound as his pulse was not very stable.

I then told the pilots I wanted to check the ship out, before we started back to the resupply pad, so they hovered off the pad and set down on the ready pad nearby.

After going over the ship, I found no holes, and we took off to finish our missions for the day. 

The rest of the day went smooth, except for a short message from our headquarters, saying we had night On Call, so we came in.  I finished my daily inspection, and we settled into a night in our hammocks on the ship. 

It was about midnight when the pilots woke us up. We had a Black Cross mission, Black Cross from Lai Khe to Bein Hoa.  Black Cross meant transporting our dead, and it was done at night.

We landed on the Black Cross pad in Lai Khe and helped the guys load up the body bags. I could see the tags under the marker lights of the ship. One of them was the LRRP we had Medivac'd earlier that day...

As I sat down in the gun well, my Gunner said, "He has gotten a round trip ticket today, God Damn It!"  It is the simple statements that stick with people sometimes ... 

We can watch a politician spout paragraphs of hyperbole, and maybe one sentence will hit us as meaningful. Or as my old gunner would say, "They don't pay us enough to give a shit, but many a shit has been given!"

"Cool Kid"

Lance L. Pinamonte
U.S. Army - 1967 to 1970
Crew Chief/Door Gunner
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 feel comfortable sharing. Memoirs From Nam is YOUR blog. You are writing America's history, sharing the truth about the Vietnam veteran, and what it was like in Our War.


  1. Excellent post Lance. On the money how life was & is for us. Things we remember come back so clear by a simple saying sight, words, sounds, Trips we made others will never have a true understanding of our world my friend. Great writing. I too remember many of these round trippers.

  2. Wonderful that you can now identify and share that message. Hopefully the identification has allowed you to process and release more of what was so you
    can move forward with lessen of a burden. God Bless

  3. Lance pal you honor that lrp everytime you think round trip as will I whenever I see or hear of a round trip. All your writings have my ditto and especially my respect to you.
    I did not envy those night missions GOD continue to bless you and yours as well as anyone that read these words. --Mihanel Pabon

  4. A different perspective, from the chopper, than the grunts. Thank you for sharing. I often wondered, as I watched them fly off after a resupply, medevac, etc. Welcome Home!


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