It all started but about 0430 when I received a frantic call in my hooch from the our Platoon Sergeant ( I don't remember his name) that LAHP was undergoing a some sort of a base inspection and that all vehicles 'LEAVING' base were being inspected. Surprised and asked him why should that effect us? The Sergeant responded that we had a major issue. “WHAT ISSUE” I asked? Surprisingly, he indicated that some of our troops had smuggled a few "Girls" from Qui Nhon onto Lane and into their quarters, I believe it was 4 or 5, not exactly sure.
Their 'best laid plan' was to easily drive the girls out the gate early that morning since outgoing trucks were never inspected. Well that idea didn't pan out and the reason for the early call. The Sergeant asked me if there was any possibility of flying these girls off the base. WHOA!!! W-T-*, well you get it..... Anyway, wanting to protect these platoon members, since they were Cobras and were truly excellent men, I said that was a possibility, but then realizing I had better not get caught myself flying "Girls" off base.... How to Explain that to the Company Commander and Base Commander, Yikes!
Time was short and "WE", the Sergeant and I, had to come up with a plan. WE called Operations, told them we had an issue with one of the gunships, just completed some major maintenance on one of the gun systems on a bird that was scheduled for missions that day, and that we needed a short test flight. Wasn't sure if that was even going to work due to early morning mission requirements, but to my surprise, the MO said 'go ahead.'
I directed the Platoon Sergeant to have the girls in the Line Shack by 0600. It got light around 0600 and I had hoped I could get them off without anyone seeing them as things were starting to happen for the days missions. I told Sarge, have them ready to immediately board as soon as the gunship hovers over to the line shack. I forget who was flying with me, I'm sure he was totally surprised when I told him what we were doing... If anyone remembers, please let me know.
Anyway, its getting light outside, fired up the NOT fully loaded gunship, called tower, hovered over to the line shack on the way to takeoff pad...remember I haven't seen any of these girls, yet...told the one crew member who was flying with us to make sure the door was open, load the "Girls" as fast as they could when adjacent to the line shack, then immediately close the door. I hovered over, they loaded up, closed the door and I took off.
Now what to do! Airborne with 4 or 5 girls yelling in the back, them not knowing what was happening or where they were going, even I was wondering where in the hell I was going. The idea was to get the girls off the base safely and in the end, cover for the troops. Flying well out of sight of Lane, low level, I found a good road (dirt) near a village that looked like it headed to Qui Nhon and decided that was as good as any place to land and the deposit this screaming cargo. It was daylight by now, we landed, girls yelling, told the crew member to get the girls out the door as fast as possible. He did and I immediately pulled pitch and departed as fast as I could.
Called the tower inbound, called Operations, said the gun system was now up and running and good to go. Landed, called the Platoon Sergeant and basically told him I don't EVER want to hear of something like this again....AND thankfully, never did..
Conclusion; a very successful 'off the cuff' mission and sortie. I can still see and hear those girls, loading, yelling and off loading, a totally different mission. The things we did in country were not always attacking the enemy, supporting slicks, other times we just had to improvise.
Copyright © 2001 by Allan Hewitt, All Rights Reserved