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War Stories

Another Scout Killed in the Mushroom - 5 July 1971

by Steven Borden - comments by Don Borey


mushroom CW2 Edward Lewis Mortimer, also known as "Ed" or "Louie" was flying his LOH Scout aircraft on a morning Visual Reconnaissance mission in the area along the Saigon River called the Mushroom. He was the low bird, or scout, of a "Pink" team with an AH-1G Cobra Gunship flying above him for cover.

At the Mushroom, Mortimer when down low "on the deck" and began his search for enemy positions. He was flying over a relatively flat area when he found them. Unfortunately they found him at the same time. As he started to turn away and radio the situation to the Cobra overhead, the enemy opened up with considerable firepower. His bird was struck with sufficient force as to cause it to loose power and crash. Ed Took a round through his leg, which severed an artery. His Crew Chief SP4 Glenn "Randy" Nicholas received a broken back during the crash.

Even with his serious injuries, Nicholas was able to pull Mortimer from the wreckage and was talking to the Cobra overhead on an emergency radio. The Cobra radioed back to operations to let them know a bird was down. This caused the Troop to launch everything flyable. The Cobras took off first and helped relieve the Cobra covering the downed crew. They kept firing on the area around them to keep the enemy away, while back at Lai Khe Huey's were being loaded with troops and a doctor to launch a rescue mission.

Two times the rescue Huey's tried to land near them and both times were driven away by extremely heavy fire. Almost all of the ships were hit, and two had to return to Lai Khe, barely making it before their Huey's quit. A third attempt was successful.

With troops on the ground securing the area the Huey with the doctor landed and made the pickup of both men. They immediately returned to the hospital at top speed. The other Huey's went in and recovered the ground troops.

Ed died enroute to the hospital. He had lost too much blood from the injury to his leg.

SP4 Glenn "Randy" Nicholas received the Silver Star for his heroic actions in trying to save CW2 Mortimer.


Comments by Don Borey:

We were operating out of Lai Khe that day. I was not assigned to fly any missions that day. I was in my room when I heard the alarm, a siren I think, go off indicating a troop scramble. I grabbed my gear and ran to the flight line. I saw Skip Petrie in the back seat of a cobra running up. He waved at me to come over. I threw my gear into the copilot seat and climbed in. As I was trying to get strapped in, Skip had the cobra out of the revetment and was taking off. He filled me in on what was going on. We arrived in the area and made contact with the c&c who was trying to coordinate the operation to rescue Mortimer.

We picked up cover for the slick going in to pick up Mortimer. I think we could see the enemy advancing on the pick up location. Skip punched off a pair of rockets which impacted fairly close in on the right side of the slick. The slick had picked up Mortimer. They then pulled pitch and headed to the evac. We learned later that CW2 Mortimer bled out on the way to the evac hospital.

I recall that the troop had been assigned a RVN Brown platoon that day as a reaction force. When the call came in that Mortimer was down, the Browns balked at getting on the slicks to go rescue him. They said they were only with us for training that day. After some delay, one of the Squad leaders with our Blues got some of the Browns to go with some of our Blues. I always felt that the delay may have contributed to Mortimer's death.

That's my recollection.