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War Stories

Letter Home - 29 Oct 1967

Bruce Powell

Seeing the Cobra in action; Playboys; Mark Schmidt; Rick Arthur; Gary Cochran wounded;

Received award from Col Shea.

.......One thing abut this damn war is that you get to feel the extremes of all your emotions, love, hate, fear, sentiment, pity, excitement. I’d be a liar if I didn’t include excitement. That’s probably one of the most important things, because it helps to lessen the pressure of the other emotions.

I saw a “Cobra” (latest helicopter in Vietnam) team in action a few weeks ago, and was so elated just watching them that I couldn’t think of anything else all day. Of course just flying anything is exciting. But the Cobra is the finest; and just the thought of it with all it’s power and (near) aerobatic capabilities gives me chills. I sure want to fly one!....The Cobra Team (“Playboy” is their call sign) came to replace one of our teams that was getting shot up pretty bad.

I came on the scene with my aircraft to reinforce the “Centaur” fire team. (Two aircraft for team; 3 makes a reinforced or Heavy Team). WO Rick Arthur was leading with WO Mark Schmidt on his wing. We made on final run on the target to expend our ammo and let the “Playboys” take over. Rick’s pilot WO Gary Cochran got shot in the leg on the break. I wanted so much to stay an watch the Cobras work out, but we had to get Gary to a hospital.

Rick had 4 hits in his ship. Charlie got lucky to hit him that many times. But part of it was in the fact that
they bored in too close before breaking. I’m convinced that good training and application of the training along with lessons learned will keep a gun pilot from buying the farm.

I looked into the Cobra situation a little to see what the chances would be of getting into a unit like that. The only Huey-Cobras in country belong to the 334th Armed Helicopter Company stationed and Bien Hoa. It’s made up of three platoon, the “Playboys”, the “Thunderbirds”, and one other. The 334th is the only “Company” of gunships in the Army. They live high off the hog at Bien Hoa. Their aircraft are faster, have more firepower, and are safer than the UH-1C models that we have in “D” Troop. (turned out not to be true). They live in one of the most secure places in Vietnam, Bien Hoa. They have Hooch girls (Vietnamese) to do their cleaning and laundry. They have scheduled time off and a Villa in Vung Tau to go to with it. They have a nice Officer’s Club of their own and several others within walking distance. And mostly they are the first pilots in line to transition into the Huey Cobra.

I looked at all the advantages and disadvantages and decided to try for a transfer with an extension. ............................

I finally got the paper work on the award that A Troop gave me for helping them out several months ago. Remember the tape I sent? The award went in as a Bronze Star and came back as a DFC ( Distinguished Flying Cross), the highest award in aviation for valor. I sure was proud of it the day COL Shea (Squadron Commander) pinned it on my chest. I was going to write and tell you but I decided to wait and get the orders and everything. The orders don't explain it exactly the way it happened but they are pretty close. ……………….

All of our Scout Platoon operations have been taking place in the Hobo and Boi Loi Woods lately. You've probably read about some of them. My section found three base camp (VC) areas (Bunkers & hooches camouflaged) very well hidden in the jungle of the Boi Loi two days ago. The 25th Division moved the Wolfhounds into the area, and boy are they battling it out. Were going to go out and recon for them again tomorrow………………………..