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War Stories

Attack Raven - 12 May 1967

Bruce Powell

Audio story of flying support for A Troop in the field and using the unarmed OH-23 "Raven" as a weapon.

Transcribed text can be scrolled as audio is listened to.


Summary of things mentioned: Going down in tunnels; attacking with OH-23 "Raven"; broke chin bubble; wounded/KIA; VC Squad.

We, uh, got into a pretty hot one out here on 12 May. Probably one of the first things a fella thinks about when he comes over to Viet Nam is just exactly what he’ll do when he’s actually getting shot at. I’ve been shot at before, but it’s never been too real, because I’ve always been high, and you never can see the man who’s shooting at you.
We went out in the woods—I actually lived with them during the day. When we’re not flying, I’ll land, and eat C-rations with them. A big Chinook will come flying in and land there, set a water trailer down, sling-loading, give them some hot food and Mermite cans, and every once in awhile I’ll sneak a ride out on a tank, go out on a search and destroy mission with them. I’m not supposed to be doing that stuff, and I probably won’t be doing it in the future after what happened on the 12th.

We were out riding around in one of the tanks, and Captain Strickland and I found this tunnel complex—extensive underground network—and after they checked it out, I’d always wanted to go down one of these tunnels, so Captain Strickland and I followed one of the members of the Rat Patrol, and they went on down ahead of us.

tunnel While all these Rats are real small guys, they have pretty cool heads—they take a lot of risks. I followed them down into this tunnel, which is barely enough to get through—we almost got stuck in it about 15 or 20 feet back, and the entrance was about 6 feet under the ground. We found this big room which you could almost walk around in. It was huge (well, I mean “huge” – you had to bend over to walk around in it—about 15 feet square, but that’s pretty good sized for underground). Obviously, a VC headquarters down in there. I took some pictures down in there, and if they come out, I’ll send them home.



I came back out of the tunnel and did a little wandering around. I found a booby trap out there and had some men de-arm it. I was standing by the helicopter right out in the middle of the woods there, and all of a sudden we heard some fire. Later on, we found out it was a Browning automatic rifle (BAR). This Charlie popped up out of a hole, saw one of our men wandering around by himself carrying an M79 grenade launcher, and he zapped him right there, cut him in half. He came out of his hole and grabbed the M79. Of course, we didn’t know what was going on, but immediately my first reaction was to run for the ship and crank it.


Captain Strickland, after he yelled what was going on, he saw me cranking the ship, and he ran over and hopped in. We strapped our seatbelts on and pulled pitch just as quickly as we could, and he had his little CAR-15 (that little AR-15 weapon), and we went zooming out over the trees. I was still at low level. Just as I came up over the position where they were being fired at, I was only about 20 feet off the ground, this man below me was pointing—standing up and pointing. Just about the time he pointed the position where they were at, he got shot down right before our eyes. I’d never seen a man killed before, but they really shot him up.

Captain Strickland opened up with his CAR in the general area where the fire was coming from, and pinned the man down. I went down to low level and was knocking down the small shrubbery and everything else. It must have scared the VC, because they went back in the hole.

There was three other men out there, (wounded) and what we had in mind is that we might possibly draw the fire off of them because they didn’t have brains enough to hit the ground right away.

Well, anyway, we whipped around at low level in the heat of the thing, and trying to get the tanks to move up, and the 2-0 element finally moved on up. Two of the men were killed and three of them were down. We weren’t sure whether they were injured or not.

We couldn’t seem to get anybody up there to help them, so I landed in a bunch of crap down there, and broke the bubble out of my helicopter—the bottom part of it—and Captain Strickland jumped out and run over and tried to help one man.

I didn’t want to stay in the helicopter because I was a sitting duck, so I got out and crawled around. I crawled up to this one guy laying in a pile of blood there, and he was dead. I went over and checked out a couple of other guys who were okay.

Captain Strickland was really hurting—these were his people, and he’s worked with them for a year, and it was all he could do to keep from crying while he was directing his men.

A tank pulled up right behind me, about 15 feet behind my chopper that was still running. Just as I was crawling back up to the chopper and about to plig my helmet in, he fired a 90 mm round, at that hole. Well, I’ll tell you, that’s the loudest thing I ever heard. It shook my helicopter and I thought I’d bought the farm for sure right there.
Anyway, that startled me enough to give me the realization that we’d better get out of there, so I called Captain Strickland, trying to get him to get back in the chopper, and grab one of his wounded men so we could Medivac him.

The one man that was wounded they put in the tank, and the other two were okay, so we hopped in the chopper and tore out and flew low level around the area looking for Charlie to come out so we could zap him. Well, he didn’t come up again.

It turned out that there was almost a whole squad of VC. We tried to figure out from reports we had the people that received fire from different positions.

We really covered the area.

[end of audio]
Dictated by: Bruce Powell, Scout and Gun Pilot, D Troop 3/4 Cav (67-68).
Date: 12 May 67
Transcriptionist’s note: This document was typed verbatim from the recorded audio. Grammar was not corrected (is/was/were, laying/lying, etc.).