THERE I WAS, the little bird (OH6) and my high bird (an AH1G) in a typical Cavalry Pink Team configuration (Hunter-Killer team) trying to snoop out old Charlie. We had been scouting for about an hour just south of Fire Support Base Song Be, near the mountain of Nui Ba Ra (about 100 miles north of Saigon). It had been a quiet day until we got a call for help from a Medivac! They were attempting to rescue a grunt and couldn't get into the Landing Zone (LZ). The Infantry unit had cut the LZ with machetes out of the bamboo forest. Medivac attempts to land were met with light ground fire and a LZ they couldn't fit into.
The ground unit was in a panic, the medivac was getting frustrated and the wounded man needed some professional medical help, he had fragments of willie pete (white phosphorus) imbedded in his skin and was burnt badly. In military terms "things were going to shit in a hand basket". Our Pink Team made it to the site and my high bird made the initial contact with the ground unit. Not knowing where the enemy was the Cobra began reconnaissance with fire, 17 lb. rockets and 40mm (chunker) allowing me to move in without taking fire in my LOH (or "Loach"). I began a hasty approach into the LZ and it was small. As I began my descent from what looked like 50 feet above the bamboo, the tips of my rotor blades began to eat away at the narrow hole. Bamboo was flying all over the place. My skids finally settled on top of the pile of bamboo that the grunts had hastily cut down and it was totally unstable, the pile must have been 3 feet thick. I held it at a hover and two guys brought the injured man over in their arms placing him in the back of the helicopter. My Crew chief held him while I began my take off eating my way back out of the bamboo.
Cruising at altitude and headed back to the FSB, Phouc Vinh dispensary (home of C Troop, 1/9 Cav) the crew chief calls over the intercom that some of the willie pete is starting to smoke. Well its "balls to the wall" time. I got a little panicked but Phouc Vinh was just ahead and I radioed the tower that I had an emergency and needed direct clearance to the medivac pad. "Permission granted" and the next thing I know I am over the pad and a bunch of guys were playing basketball on it. Man was I pissed waiting for those guys to move off the pad. After what seemed like an eternity some guys finally came out with a stretcher and got the wounded man out. I have no idea who he was or what happened to him.