"Land the Landing Force!" (continued)
Down We Go
We are at about 1500-2000 feet and start to auto-rotate down to the LZ. We all feel helpless, as we can't shoot back at anything but only hope that we get on the ground safely and can start to fight back.
The engines roar and the helicopter goes back into full power and lift at about 800 feet. The roar is deafening, the vibration makes you believe that the helicopter will shake apart and we cannot wait to get out of the bird.
As we are the first assault wave into the zone the VC/NVA [Viet Cong/North Vietnamese Army] 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!”
Over the landing zone, the crewman opens up with M-60 machine gun preparatory fire as we get ready to land. Between the roar of the engine, the machine gun fire and incoming bullets, the tension in the cramped cargo bay is unbearable.
The crew chief starts yelling, “Get out! Get out! Get out you bastards, we’re taking fire!”
Clearing the LZ. The troops really want to get off the bird. The crew really wants to get in the air. The enemy really wants to kill us all. Things happen fast in a hot LZ. Photo by Terry Arndt.
We all jump out as quickly as possible and the helicopter pulls away. We want nothing more than to get out of this helicopter in one piece.