"Land the Landing Force!"
by First Lieutenant Terrence D. "Terry" Arndt
Foxtrot Company, BLT 2/26
"As we are the first assault wave into the zone, the VC/NVA start to practice their marksmanship on us.
"We can hear some of the rounds hitting the fuselage. 'Jesus Christ, please get me out of the helicopter in one piece!'"
1stLt Terrence D. Arndt
Foxtrot Company, Battalion Landing Team 2/26
The Waiting Is Over
"Land the Landing Force -- USS Okinawa", on the ship’s loudspeaker the order comes, “Land the Landing Force!”
And it begins. A collective shiver goes up everyone’s spine.
War is a dangerous game. Landing a landing force off an LPH [Landing Platform Helicopter ship] in the early morning hours is a very dangerous game.
These are my fond memories about going into a hot LZ in an H-34, an Ugly Angel.
Quiet time before the op. One deck below the flight deck, Marines and corpsmen of BLT 2/26 wait for the order to board the helicopters. Everyone about to fly into certain danger had moments of reflection like this. Photo by Alan Green.
Whirling helicopter blades, ammunition, fuel and a pitching flight deck has everyone’s attention.
We start up the gangways, stumbling as we go, our minds racing and our thoughts with our families.
The Ugly Angels that will carry BLT 2/26 into harm's way are lined up aboard the USS Princeton for loading. Photo by Kent Wonders.
Once on deck, each helo-team is directed to a waiting helicopter.
BLT 2/26 helo-team boarding a UH-34 aboard the USS Princeton. Five Marines, their combat gear and boxes of 81mm mortar ammo are loaded onto the chopper. Photo by Kent Wonders.