Recently I read an entry posted several months ago from Dave Powers out in Montrose, CO asking for information about Jimmy Young. I wanted to provide what I remember. I hope the years have not faded my memories of that day too severely. I can assure you that many of my memories of Jimmy remain fresh even after all these years.
Dave, your entry indicated Jimmy was crewing with Steve Davis out of Portland, OR. I remember vividly the face of the crewchief he was flying with that day, but prior to now I have not been able to put a name to the face. If Steve was a tall, dark-haired, quietly pensive guy with a rather sad looking face -- perhaps it grew even more somber after Jimmy died -- then we are probably talking about the same guy. I have some pictures of Jimmy, the crewchief, and Captain Thomas "Slick" Hausman their A/C. My guess is that most of the pictures were taken shortly after I arrived in-country in Feb 71.
In one picture, Slick wears his sneaky, sly grin and the twinkle in his eyes that never failed to give one the impression that he was up to something or laughing at some private joke. It is the look of a guy cool enough to earn the call sign Slick from a bunch of hot-dog-rotary-winged-crazies like the pilots of the 2nd Platoon. Steve's face carries the look of someone who has seen more than he wanted or had bargained for, his eyes possess a vacancy that speaks volumes and his face appears limp. His sadness has already taken up residency.
In the picture I am looking at, Jimmy is sans shirt and there is no indication of chest hair. He looks like a kid. Its odd how that is the way I remember all of you and that seems terribly unfair, for while I have soft and grey you are all still firm and youthful. Jimmy while shirtless is wearing the crooked smile which seemed to be a nearly permanent fixture on his narrow face. His way blonde hair (now see there is another thing - all three of these guys still have great, thick shocks of hair, while I am giving serious consideration to that Propecia stuff) is a little longer than regulation and there is a wet curl hanging down onto his forehead. The four of us are in a Huey, the doors are closed, I am taking the picture and sit here now wishing I had made better use of my Konica's timer feature. Outside the bird, it is raining and we have the doors closed.
I flew as Peter-P for Slick and his guys on several occastions. I have always considered Slick as being a Warrant Officer with RLO bars. Frog and I used to tease Captain Hausman by telling him he was too cool not to be a Warrant and that it was the heart of a Warrant that pulsed inside his chest. He would just grin his grin. Always appeared totally innocent -- was almost always apart of all the really well thought out pranks. He was a good man, a good officer, and I can tell you that he had earned the respect of the entire 2nd Platoon. His crew was loyal to him. We all were. It would be wonderful to hear from - or about- him again. Slick was wounded on the day Jimmy died. It was nothing life threatening, but his hand (I believe it was his cyclic/right hand) was torn up pretty good. My memory tells me it was shrapnel rather than a bullet wound. Slick was short anyway, so his would would carry him home slightly ahead of his DEROS. Some days after Jimmy died, I went with some other guys to see Slick at the hospital in Qui Nhon (Can anybody tell the unit or designation of that hospital?) to say our goodbyes. Because Slick was getting short, I had previously arranged to "buy" his room from him for $150.00 when his DEROS rolled around. At the hospital I gave Slick the money for his room. He looked good, he was maintaining -- at least while we were with him he demonstrated that his sense of humor and his play'em as they fall perspective of life seemed to remain intact. His room -- my room -- was worth every penny! Its funny, but I cannot remember who I sold it to when I left. God, it would be great to see Slick again.
I cannot remember the name of their Peter-P that day, but I also have pictures of him. I never really got to know him very well. While I drank my cares away, I believe it would be fair to say that his went up in smoke and for this reason we hung with different after-hours crowds. That could be it, or perhaps my lack of memories of him may be an indication that I had already hit the off switch on getting to know the new guys. I can tell you that my memory of that day tells me he did one hell of a job in getting their wounded bird down from a ridge-line LZ and onto a sand bar in a stream or a clearing next to a stream.
The operation we were involved in was one of the largest I witnessed. The129th AHC flying in support of the Tiger Division of the ROK and the 22nd ARVN was spearheading the operation. We were joined by our "sister" company, the 61st Aviation Company, and aviation units from all over II Corps. Their may even have been a few units from I Corps helping us to insert several thousand ROK'S and ARVN'S up into the Central Highlands. There were beaucoup units involved. The Navy had prepped some of our LZ's overnight, while at other LZ's artillery units would continue blasting away until we arrived on staition. I remember watching FOX-4's finishing their final deadly runs and within seconds the first Huey, escorted by our own gunnies, would be on short final to an LZ. We most assuredly had all our shit packed neatly into one bag!
If I had been Chuck, I would have crawled a little deeper into my hole and said to hell with this nonsense -- you can call me when this is over. But, you guys remember Chuck, the contrary little bastards would wait out the shelling and the fast-movers and our gunnies and then crawl out of their tunnels when we came into view. I cannot believe, no I refuse to believe I am alone in having come to the realization that I respected the tenacity, the willingness to endure hardship, and the bravery of the enemy we encountered up in the Highlands. Larry "Thor" Thies and I had made A/C on 16 June, so we were at teh back of the flights for the most part. Everywhere ships were taking fire and many, many other birds were hit, the radios crackled with traffic concerning hot LZ's and calls for Medevac's back into many of the LZ's where we were leaving the ROK's and ARVN's. Larry and I lost a friend from flight school, W. O. Michael Wilson who flew with the 61st Aviation Company. My memory had always been that Jimmy and Mike died on the same day, but "The Poet" is listed as "KIA 25 June 71 - Panel 3 West, Line 89. I've been stallin'. Could you guys tell? Jimmy Young was a young kid for Texas, Dallas I believe. He had a quick, easy smile that he shared with everyone. I have pictures of him passing out C's to Vietnamese kids. I remember Jimmy with fondness.
Slick was probably flying lead. I think I was part of another flight. Most of the LZ's were single ship jobs, however, a few were large enough for two Hueys. I think Slick, and Jimmy, and Davis, and their Peter-P were in a single ship LZ. Chuck was waiting. They came under intense fire - the way I remember it is that Jimmy's gunmount or his well took a direct hit froman RPG. He was shredded-up pretty badly. That's how I have always remembered it. I remember the radio traffic that they were going down. I remember the terror of waiting for it to happen to me or to another friend. My memory is that Jimmy died instantaneously. I remember we had a memorial service at the Chapel for Jimmy, and yet, he still lives in my mind's eye - he always will - it is there he will remain "forever young."
Copyright © 2001 by Keith "Lurch" Weisheit, All Rights Reserved