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Info Sheet - PFC Paul Plante

…………………………………………March 2023 Update……………………………………………………………

I was initially an infantryman with Company A, 2/12 Infantry Battalion (Warriors) in 1969. I volunteered to fly Nighthawk missions as a door gunner/sniper with the "Little Bears" 25th Avn Battalion, and later assigned/attached to the Centaurs (D Troop, 3/4 Cav).

I am very much the unknown soldier in here, somebody who only a handful of Centaurs ever laid eyes on, and that at night, after dark, and its possible no one ever knew my name, as well, because names were superfluous.

I was simply the Nighthawk, or maybe just that "grunt with the sniper rifle we have to haul around."

I showed up as the sun was going down, flew the missions and then disappeared back to my day job as a 2/12 grunt.

Hence my status as the unknown Centaur.

How my time was coded by the Centaurs, I don't know, nor was it ever relevant to my mission, whatever that was to be on a nightly basis.

I started out my tour in Viet Nam in February of 1969 as an 11 Bravo light weapons infantryman with A Co., 2/12 at Fire Base Pershing out beyond Trang Bang and Go Da Ha serving as asst. gunner on a 60 machine gun.

In that capacity, I was wounded the first time on 20 March 1969 when an RPG hit my pack behind me sending hot fragments into the back of my head and along my skull to where they lodged near my cervical spine where they reside to this day.

The night before, 19 March 1969, our sister company Charley was mauled pretty good, and my Nighthawk mission that brought me to the Centaurs sometime in May of 1969, so far as I can figure, never knowing what day of the week it was, nor needing to, that being useless information came out of those two events, so far as I know.

What I do know is that after those two incidents, late March or early April, word came down that somebody was looking for someone who wanted to get on a helicopter after dark and go hunt Charley in his domain, and I said that is for me and volunteered and got the job, the job being to ride the helicopter while sitting there in the side door with an M-14 with a Starlight scope and look for people on the ground and fire them up.

Like a Comanche raider or a Parthian riding a helicopter as a horse.

The first missions were flown with the Little Bears, A. Co, 25th Avn. Bn., which unit was very active in developing the mission, and aggressive in its use.

So there was a collaboration between the Little Bears and 2/12 in setting up the mission and getting it going and making it functional.

How I ended up being detailed to the Centaurs, I don't really know.

When the centurion said go, I went.

And now, I am highly honored to be here among such illustrious company!


March 2023 Update:

Early on, someone replied that they knew a Nighthawk who talked about his weapon being sighted in at some far distance, which would NOT have been me for many reasons, starting with the fact that we were flying at 300 feet, and I was firing from a moving platform that would have made having a rifle sighted in at some far distance a bit ridiculous, since we were more of an "area" weapon, not a precision weapon.

I was firing to mark targets, not "sniper" someone at 1,000 yards or whatever, away.

Ours was a psychological mission, in essence, to steal the darkness and night away from Charley, and this long the Cambodian border, generally, where the infiltrators would try to come through, although we did get scrambled once up to "Rocket City" as Tay Nhin was known, for a rocket attack which did take place, and we were more or less useless up there because the heavy hitters and fast movers were called in to try and hit the rocket sites, while all we had was me and the machine guns aboard.

Not world shaking news or anything like that, but I keep in my mind thinking of that comment, and thought one day to reply.

Hope all goes well with you all....