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Walt Philbin Remembers (continued)

A Guardian Angel Named Spooky

I remember that night, after a chopper had come and taken Cooper and other wounded, sitting and watching Spooky the fixed-wing aircraft with the incredible number of 7.62mm rounds that amounted to an unbroken streak of red and a belated equally unbroken buzzing sound.


It flew up there all night for us like a Guardian Angel.

AC-47 Gunship 'Spooky'.jpg

Air Force AC-47 gunship "Spooky", a military version of the Douglas DC-3 that had been modified by mounting three General Electric 7.62mm miniguns to provide close air support for ground troops. The Marines and corpsmen of BLT 2/26 were grateful for Spooky's presence -- and reassuring bursts of bullets that looked like rivers of fire and sounded like a buzz-saw ripping through wood -- through the long night after the battle on LZ Margo. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

And despite that I remember feeling more than at any other time of my tour that there was a good chance I wasn’t getting out alive. And yet being too exhausted and numb, really to worry much about tomorrow or to entertain any terror.


Still, I remember keeping myself awake cheering Spooky on, saying over and over to myself and to him, “Don’t run out of gas, please.”

MXU-470 minigun modules aboard

MXU-470 minigun modules aboard Spooky. Each of the three 7.62mm miniguns could selectively fire either 50 or 100 rounds per second. Cruising in an overhead left-hand orbit at 120 knots air speed at an altitude of 900 meters, the gunship could put a bullet or glowing red tracer (every 5th round) bullet into every square yard of a football field-sized target in potentially less than 10 seconds. Information and photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

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