One Good Deal After Another (continued)
1 October 1968: Landing Zone Tree Trunk
Excerpt from the BLT 2/26 Command Chronology reporting the enemy situation on 1 October 1968.
Embarrassing as it may be, the fact remains that I remember nothing about the helicopter movement to the DMZ except the landing. We had no “Zippo” meeting with the helicopter squadron commander and his staff because we were going to a landing zone defended by a friendly force, the company we were replacing.
Fox, Golf and Hotel companies were at the top of the ridgeline that overlooked the Margo area. The forward command post, the 81mm mortar platoon of 4 tubes rather than the 8 that had been manned before 16 September, understrength Echo Company, and the Engineer and Recon Platoons, were at the bottom of the hill near LZ Margo. We were much accustomed to moving by helicopter and what probably happened is that the helicopter squadron picked up the two segments from their respective locations and flew them to the friendly landing zone in the DMZ.
The helicopter carrying most of the forward command post Marines did not use the rifle companies’ landing zone. For reasons unknown to anybody except the pilot, he chose to land in a “landing zone” consisting of a large tree trunk that had been knocked down by a bomb. The trunk was lying across the top of the bomb crater.
Whoever he was, he was good.
A CH-46 cargo helicopter delivers 81mm mortar ammo on LZ Margo. Showing the same level of skill as the pilot on "Landing Zone Tree Trunk" two weeks later, this pilot kept his rear wheels and ramp on the deck long enough for his cargo to be offloaded despite the constant threat of enemy mortar fire. Photo courtesy of Thomas H. Roadley.
He put the front landing gear on top of the tree trunk and hovered in place as the Marines jumped off the tail ramp one by one. It worked like a charm despite the fact that as each Marine jumped down into the crater, the tail lifted several inches.
The last Marine out had quite a jump, especially when loaded down with a pack, radio and radio batteries. I don’t remember if others used “Landing Zone Tree Trunk.” Probably so. The faster the helicopters got in and out, the better, especially in the DMZ.