Strength & Honor

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Ron Current

Selected Excerpts

So Others May Live
Ron Current (US Army Dustoff pilot)

". . . One day we were supporting the Whitehorse Division of the ROK on a hoist mission in mountain jungle. We were told on the way that the troops were still in contact with the enemy, but that there were two men near death. We made several low passes over the troops on the ground, did not draw fire, and decided to go in for the pickup even though we had no gunship support. We made our approach to the one hundred foot hover and came to a stop with the nose of the helicopter some twenty feet from the side of the mountain.

The crew chief began lowering the penetrator and we began to think it would be a routine mission. Suddenly Plexiglas was breaking everywhere. My chin bubble was shot out and our radios were gone. My Peter Pilot on this mission was WO1 Jack Parks, whose voice raised an octave or two as he said, "Taking fire, taking fire!" I lost radio communication with the crew chief but decided to leave since there was no one on the penetrator yet. I turned the helicopter away from the hover spot and lowered the nose to accelerate.

We were dragging the cable and penetrator through the trees and as a result the boom of the hoist knocked the crew chief down on the cargo floor of the helicopter. I told Jack to cut the hoist. He did nothing, still paralyzed by the rounds tearing through the aircraft. I finally reached up to the switch on the console and cut the cable myself. We landed the helicopter ten minutes later in the company area, so riddled with bullet holes, we would learn later, that it had to be sent back to the states to be rebuilt.

We switched helicopters and flew back out there to find the gunships had arrived and were softening up the area with rockets which sounded like the side of the mountain was falling through the rotor system while we hovered. We finally got our patients and returned them to Cam Ranh Bay at the large hospital there. That area was hot for a long time. . . ."

Photo courtesy of Ron Current
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