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War Stories

Strange Strand

Stories about CW2 Kenneth L. Strand
Died 1 July 2016 - also see his Obituary i
Comments from those who remember him: Bacon, Dow, Hoag, Sikkema, Dooling, Hooper

strandBruce Sikkema: (Sep2016) I think 'Strange" Strand was Centaur 47 when I first got to Cu Chi in Dec 69.

Cary Bacon: (Sep2016) We had the affectionate name of "Strange Strand" for Ken. He would often open the FM radio net at any first light mission I had with him as a Good Morning Vietnam or as a Robot voice. Also he perpetuated the mistique of being the son of a Gangster that when was finished he would go back and join his father in "the family business" presumedly as murder for hire. We all knew it was just a laugh and I think everyone carried on with the ruse. Sorry he is gone. My condolences to his family.

Dale Dow: (Sep2016) Strand may have been a scout pilot for a period of time. However, on 2 April 1970, he was the Aircraft Commander and Rog Johnson the pilot of a AH-1G Cobra during the Renegade Woods battle.
Information received from Jack Craig indicated that Strand started out flying Cobras, but went to the Light Scouts after a couple of months. He must have gone back to the Aeroweapons Platoon if he was flying a Cobra in support of the LRPs on 2 Apr. Also the plaque mentioned was probably made by the members of Teams 38 and 39, Co F (Ranger), 75th Inf for actions in the Renegade Woods, 2 April 1970. Strand received the DFC for his actions.

Jim Hoag: (Sep2016) I was wondering about that. I remember a Strand flying Cobras. I also vaguely remember folks calling him "Strange Strand" cause of some of the goofy things he'd do like rotating the cannon barrel all the way forward so there was no lag when 1st fired.

Bruce Sikkema: (Sep2016) Strand was a Cobra pilot. I flew his front seat a few times when I first got in country. I remember one time at the end of a first light Hunter/Killer mission over in the Parrots Beak where the NVA had a base camp just across the border and we could not fly within a klick of the border, Ken pulled the nose up a little and punched off a pair of rockets in the direction of base camp just to "let them know he was watching them". His nickname was "Strange Strand" and I think he liked the notoriety of it!

Sam Dooling: Strange Strand – I suspect there are many stories about Strange Strand, but a couple that come to knifemind for me: On his MyPage, one of his photos shows him holding his “throwing knife.” I remember the CQ’s were always very reluctant to have to go down to his room in Hooch 5 to wake him up for an early mission. He lived in one of the walled rooms with an air conditioner and separate lights – with a light switch inside next to the door. He loved to lie in wait for the CQ to knock on the door and put his hand inside the door to flip on the lights (how they were supposed to wake up the pilots). Strange worked hours on perfecting his knife throwing skills – and as soon as the lights went on, he would throw his knife at the light switch to see if he could get the CQ’s hand!!! To my knowledge, he never actually hit anyone and it was sort of a game for a while, but finally he was getting too close and a CQ complained, so Strange was counseled and thus ended that saga. I actually believe this activity was the genesis of his nickname – Strange.

If you read Ken’s obituary, you will note that prior to becoming a pilot, he was an Army air traffic controller (ATC). When operating as a Scout Team, generally the Scout and Cobra flew to the area of operations at altitude and once they arrived, the Scout would request clearance to go low level – with the response from the Cobra generally being “cleared low level.” That was never good enough for Ken. Generally, whenever a Scout requested clearance, going back to his ATC day, Ken would read off a lengthy IFR clearance – “Cleared to position, via radar vectors, Vector xxx to intersection YYY, then Vector QQQ, etc. and on and on; maintain altitude 12 feet, squawk 1234 – readback.” One day, Ken’s Scout had brought one of the FAC pilots along as an observer (unbeknownst to Ken), so when Ken gave this lengthy clearance and said “readback,” the FAC pilot read the clearance back to Ken without missing a beat. Sort of took the wind out of Ken’s sails, but it sure made for a good O Club story for several weeks. also see Loach Ordnance story


Wayne Hooper:

FNG: All of us Centaurs spent our time being an FNG in the troop. This story is about one evening during mine. Strange Strand had just entered the hootch, knife in hand when incoming started coming in. This being my first experience, I wasn't sure what was going on. Everybody ran out of the hootch and nobody said "come on new guy follow me". I knew nothing about bunkers or where they were, but considering the chaos, maybe I should find one. Strange Strand had just walked out the door and was just walking. As I passed him, he was laughing when he said "where are you going?", and I said "I don't know. Where am I going". he just kept laughing as I walked along with him. We soon crossed paths with Ken Rucki, a slick pilot, wearing a steel pot, a chicken plate and aiming a rifle at me, an FNG, he said " halt who goes there, friend or foe".

I was a little confused, very naive and wondered should I show him some ID or what? Anyway, in the midst of it all, we all shared a good laugh.

Continuing our journey, an older man, a soldier with gray in his hair and one star on his collar was walking quickly towards us in the opposite direction. A few steps after passing the General and with the incoming still coming in, a voice shouted out filled with anger, "soldiers about face." We turned around, looked at the General and he said, "don't you know to salute General Officers?" And Strange Strand said, "Two Stars and above Sir Two Stars and above." We turned back around and kept walking... Wayne Hooper

The Knife: In the hootch I bunked in , one corner of the ceiling had a parachute hanging from it for decorative purposes. It was attached around the edges and held up from the middle tight to the ceiling. It looked nice. Strange Strand would come to visit with his Knife and throw it at the wooden wall inches to the left of the exterior doorjamb about head high, where there was parachute rope tied off to the wall. It ran up the wall and was hidden by the parachute as to where it went. He targeted it. Visit after visit, throw after throw, week after week, he kept it in his sights. Finally the rope was cut in half and the middle of the parachute floated slowiy to the floor. Strand started laughing that Strange laugh and flashing that Strange smile and as he Strutted away, as only he could, I was looking for peacock feathers..

Red Nose Cobra: Strange Strand and Rudolph the Red Nose Cobra, otherwise known as "Affectionally Yours" had a clear bubble nose. All Cobras did, or do still. Strand painted the bubble bright Rudolph Red and It always made me smile when looking at it. Softening the viscious look of the Centaurs best- looking shark teeth, Thank-you Bruce Powell, in the whole U.S. Army. None less lethal, it was definitely Strange... Wayne Hooper.