Rattler One-Seven: A Vietnam Helicopter Pilot's War Story

Rattler One-Seven: A Vietnam Helicopter Pilot's War Story

Rattler One-Seven: A Vietnam Helicopter Pilot's War Story

Rattler One-Seven: A Vietnam Helicopter Pilot's War Story

Synopsis

Rattler One-Seven puts you in the helicopter seat, to see the war in Vietnam through the eyes of an inexperienced pilot as he transforms himself into a seasoned combat veteran. When Chuck Gross left for Vietnam in 1970, he was a nineteen-year-old army helicopter pilot fresh out of flight school. He spent his entire Vietnam tour with the 71st Assault Helicopter Company flying UH-1 Huey helicopters. Soon after the war he wrote down his adventures, while his memory was still fresh with the events. Rattler One-Seven (his call sign) is written as Gross experienced it, using these notes along with letters written home to accurately preserve the mindset he had while in Vietnam. secret teams into Laos. He notes that Americans were left behind alive in Laos, when official policy at home stated that U.S. forces were never there. He also participated in Lam Son 719, a misbegotten attempt by the ARVN to assault and cut the Ho Chi Minh Trail with U.S. Army helicopter support. It was the largest airmobile campaign of the war and marked the first time that the helicopter was used in mid-intensity combat, with disastrous results. Pilots in their early twenties, with young gunners and a Huey full of ARVN soldiers, took on experienced North Vietnamese antiaircraft artillery gunners, with no meaningful intelligence briefings or a rational plan on how to cut the Trail. aircraft sustained combat damage. Gross himself was shot down and left in the field during one assault. Rattler One-Seven will appeal to those interested in the Vietnam War and to all armed forces, especially aviators, who have served for their country.

Excerpt

I slowly lowered the collective (pitch control) as we began our descent into Landing Zone Delta. All hell was breaking loose. the Firebird gunships were laying down cover as they screamed along side us. Their miniguns were puffing smoke, singing their loud, but familiar sound. Their rockets were yelling out loud, screaming sounds as they flew past. I told my crew, “Go hot.” My crew chief and gunner unlocked their weapons and opened fire. the noise was deafening. Our helicopter felt as if it was coming alive from the shuddering and shaking from her guns. Tracers were flying in all directions. Fear and terror saturated the air.

We continued our descent down into the hell below. We already had two ships shot down and four more damaged by fire, but we continued. My crew chief yelled, “Taking fire at ten o’clock!” Then my gunner yelled, “Taking fire at one o’clock, no three o’clock. Hell, it’s coming from everywhere!” We were now only three hundred yards from the landing zone and just about in, when I heard a loud explosion and felt the bird whine as a shell slammed through the transmission. the Huey reacted with a violent jolt, and then wham, another shell found its mark. I instantly pushed the cyclic forward and pulled up on the collective control, thinking to myself, “We’re out of here.” Fire was coming from everywhere and there was no place to hide. Time slowed to eternity as we slowly climbed out. Foot by foot, we distanced ourselves from the enemy and madness below.

We had taken a direct hit into the transmission, but thank God we were still flying. We could not set the bird down, it was too dangerous. We had to make it back, a little closer to the friendlies. Suddenly my . . .

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