Recon Insert from USMC/Combat Helicopter Association
HMM-164 RECON INSERT, JANUARY 19, 1968
My bird was YT-6 and my wing was YT-1. I was lead bird and the pilot was Maj Robert Nelson and co-pilot was Lt. Tim Timmons. MY GUNNER was Jerry Siudzinski. YT-1 was crewed by Doug Lanford and Jim Nylander. I don"t recall the pilots. We set this recon team in and later pulled them out after a deadly fight.
There are more photos of course but these three were the most poignant to me. From 1968 to present, I have been haunted by something. The Marine looking at me snapping the picture was later wounded and presumably died of his wounds. We pulled this team out later in the afternoon after they were almost immediately involved in a fight and were caught in interlocking fields of fire from the NVA in the small valley. I have posted the photo's here to see if any one can Identify further the Marines in the Photos as I believe they were of the 1st Recon Battalion.
Post insertion lift off.As the team departed via the side hatch due to the grass being too thick to lower the rear ramp, I grabbed my 35 mm color slide Nickorex camera and began snapping some shots, as the LZ was quiet. As we lifted off I snapped this last shot and didn't realize that over 20 years later a Friend of mine, Jim Tyler and an ex-Recon himself with two Silver Stars would spot the NVA in the grass above the teams position. Later in the afternoon, we had to go in the Valley three times, under heavy fire to retrieve the team that was pinned down only a few yards from original LZ. The covering HUEY'S were being fired on by the NVA and were driven out of the Valley. The THIRD time in, after being shot out twice before, Major Nelson did a 180-degree turn just before setting down. This went unnoticed by me as I was dumping my armor so as to run out and get the team myself. I wasn't in the mood to leave them there as had been threatened if they were unable to move. I lowered the rear ramp and went in with ramp down to crush the grass. Ergo, as I ran out the rear after disconnecting my com.cord I ran to my left to what I thought was the team's position when actually I was now going the wrong way into Indian Country. That too led to an adventure that cannot be adequately be described here. Needless to say, the team reluctantly came out and clamored aboard YT-6 followed by the NVA etc. Some how we got out and thanks to the 180 maneuver earlier by the Pilot, we flew directly out of the Valley and didn't have to bank sharply to avoid the hills (and the heavier weapons emplaced there).
The Marine looking at me is Ronnie Williams according to Gunny Hagar later wounded and died the following day from shrapnel wounds in left shoulder and chest. (Worked on him all the way back to Alpha Med Phu Bai) Team is deploying in the bush just above the clearing. They didn't get any farther! Submitted by:Chuck Nowotny, Click Here for more & photos of January 19th, 1968