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240th AHC Flight Operations

To all 240th Members
From Linda

240th AHC Brothers
A gift to you from Linda
Two Slideshows

A Tribute to Our Brothers
Gone Too Soon

Return To Sender
Email Contacts For 240th Members

West Point Invitation to 240th AHC
Dedication to Bronze Bust of MSG. Benavidez

May 2, 1968, Frozen In Time,
SP4 Danny Clark

240th Yahoo Group

Tribute to a Gold Star Mother

Tribute to Bob Hope

Reunion 2002 Update
Dothan, Alabama

Patches & Pins
From The Past

Submitted by Lt. Bill Cowan

Marines Of The Rung Sat

Knight In White Flight
Photos of Dean "Babe" Wright
From Mike Jones

We Will Not Forget
Photos of Matt Amaral

Chuck Brda
Winged Greyhound

Don 'Sully' Sullivan
A Man With a Mission

Union Jack & Stars and Stripes

Hitchin' A Ride
Photos by Captain Doug Price,
Mad Dog 6

Hey, Joe, With Gun in Hand
Photos of Joe "Ragman"

Diary Of A Doorgunner
by Walt Weber

In My Life
Photos by Morris Miller

The 240th AHC
From A 9th Infantry Perspective

We Gotta Get "To" This Place
Photos by Ray Burris

240th AHC, A Unit History
by Major Jimmy Moore

I'm Just A Soldier Whose Intentions Were Good
Photos by Jon Jay

18, I'm A Boy, I'm A Man
Photos by Bill Marchetti

This Greyhound Went Down To Georgia
Photos & Memories
of John Thrift

Over The Delta & Far Away
Photos by Mike Forrester

I Love A Rainy Monsoon Night
Photos by Carl LeDoux

My Little Duece Coupe Huey
Photos by Mel Snyder

Mad Dog To Apache
Photos by Louis Wilson

This Mad Dog AC IS

For the VC/NVA
Photos of Don Brenner

Photos Of Robert Cook

Photos of Mr.Felix Bates
the Frito Bandito

Burn Bad Guys Burn
Photos by Terry Morris

Greyhound Paperback Writer
Photos From Wayne Mutza

To Love Somebody Like
240th Brothers Loved Each Other
Photos From Steve Beckner

Leaving On A Midnight Freedom Bird
Photos From Hunter Causey

Mad Dog Gunship 028
Your Time Has Come

Mad Dog Gunship 028
Page Two

Memorabilia Memories Of The 240th
by Steve Beckner

Stuck In The Middle Of Bearcat
Photos From Nam Brothers

Rubbings & Remembrance
From The Wall

Flags Into Battle

Aircraft Of The Vietnam War

Words of War

LZ of the 240th AHC

Paul 'Frenchy' LaChance

Joe 'Ragman' Tarnovsky

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I was one of the Marine advisors which the 240th always supported in the Rung Sat Special Zone, between Saigon and the South China Sea. The Rung Sat, which was about 500 square miles, was one of only two special zones in Viet Nam. All other areas came under the various Corps headquarters, I through IV. The Rung Sat's importance was that it bounded the shipping lane from the open sea into Saigon. All shipping into the ports near Saigon, be it international and military shipping, made its way up the Long Tau River through the center of the Rung Sat. Because of that, we were very independent when it came to military operations. Our job of protecting the shipping lane meant we had immediate military support whenever we needed it, and although the 240th was an Army helicopter unit stationed some 40 miles away at Bearcat, they were often supporting us when we took to the field.

Our primary headquarters was in Nha Be, a Naval Base at the top of the Rung Sat. Nha Be was headquarters to U.S. Navy brown water forces (PBR's, ASPB's, etc.), a Seawolf detachment, SEALS, various Vietnamese navy elements, and a large U.S. Navy logistics and administrative element. We Marines also had advisory teams in the Rung Sat's two districts - Can Gio and Quang Xuyen. Army advisors led these two districts until the summer of '69, when Marines took over.

Besides being advisors to the civilian aspects of the districts, Marine advisors worked with local Vietnamese forces - RF's, PF's, and special intel squads which we developed and trained. Some of these guys were so-so at best, but others were among the toughest troops I worked with during my time in Viet Nam.

I was in the Rung Sat from April of '69 through August of '71 - almost 2 1/2 years. I came there from a 13 month tour along the DMZ. During my Rung Sat time we had lots of helicopter units which supported us, but NO UNIT came close to doing for us what the 240th did. I could write books about what I saw those men do. No military unit I ever worked with, saw, or read about could compare with the 240th - and that includes my experiences with Marines! There was some sort of spirit, boldness, courage, and devil-may-care attitude about them that made them the fiercest group of men imaginable. And yet, they were all just guys over there doing what lots of Americans were being called upon to do - the difference was that they were doing it like no others!

I particularly remember a series of missions in April of 1971 in which the 240th was supporting PRU missions I was running. The 240th had come down about five days in a row and taken my 12 man team up into Nhon Trach District, just to the east of Saigon. Nhon Trach was outside the Rung Sat Special Zone, but we occasionally got superb intelligence and were given immediate permission to run ops outside our AO. One reason was that the PRU were CIA assets, and the second was that we had such great success rates. Our normal tactics were to take advantage of intel to try to capture a POW, interrogate him in the field, and then have him take us to his comrades.

On this op, as expected, we quickly captured a POW. The information he gave us quickly led us to a group of VC hiding in the nippa palm, and that resulted in a horrific shoot-out between the VC and the gunships. The "Dogs" were the ONLY gunships I ever saw who would confront the VC at tree top level and shoot it out. They'd circle in a tight pattern around the target, with the doorgunners just blasting away while the VC blasted back. When I wasn't on the ground with the troops, I'd be up in the air with the CC&C ship, circling over the battle. It was always UNBELIEVABLE to watch what was going on.

On the third day of running similar ops and having similar shoot-outs, we finally got our hands on a prisoner who was willing to show us their command bunker. This was to be a real prize for us, and we were psyched. However, because it was so late in the afternoon we had to cancel until the next day. Unfortunately, we learned that night that the 240th was already committed to support another priority op and couldn't be diverted to us. Accordingly, we got another helo unit. It was someone we'd never worked with, and I don't recall now who it was. But, you can imagine how disappointed my troops and I were at finally having a prize target and not being able to work it with the 240th.

At first light we briefed the op at the Nha Be helo pad, loaded the troops, and went airborne. The prisoner was next to me in the C&C, together with my PRU counterpart. When we got to the target and he pointed it out, we couldn't believe it! They had put their command bunker into a piece of woods about 1/2 acre large and totally surrounded by rice paddies. It was as good as it gets. It was the last place we would have ever thought to look, and that's probably why it was there.

I directed the C&C pilot to have the slicks with my troops hold tight to the west while the guns blew the shit out of the target. My intent was to then have the troops drop right on it. Suddenly, however, the pilot turned around to me and said "We're not like the 240th! We won't go below 1,000 feet." I looked at him in disbelief. Sure enough, though, when the guns rolled in they fired from about 1200 feet. Not one rocket hit the target. In fact, they weren't even close.

They rolled in again, fired again, and the same thing happened. I was so mad I couldn't see straight. This was the kind of thing that made the difference between winning and losing a battle. This was a perfect, high priority target of major value and importance to the VC. Taking it out would have crippled their ability in the area. But these guys were absolute cowards, unwilling to take a chance for a prize. Some men were there to risk all and win. Some men were just there.

I aborted the mission and told the C&C pilot to take us back to Nha Be. There was no way in the world I was going to put my troops on the ground with that kind of lack of support. They were total unprofessionals. I didn't want my PRU troops getting into a firefight with the VC security element around a command bunker, and then not be able to count on the kind of helicopter support needed to kill the enemy and win the fight. I also didn't want my PRU troops to see that we had Americans who were chicken-shits - afraid to confront the enemy head on, face-to-face.

When the 240th re-joined us a few days later, we immediately flew out to see if the target was still there. They wanted it as badly as we did. A few well-placed rounds quickly showed us it had been abandoned. We'd had our chance and missed it, all because the 240th had been sent somewhere else. They were as pissed as I was.

I think back often on those days with the 240th. My troops loved working with them, because we NEVER got skunked. If we didn't chase something up from the ground, they would from the air. And the end result would ALWAYS be dead VC - without exception.

If there were ever a study to be done on leadership and espirit, the 240th would be the place to do it. Somewhere early on in its history, it was imbued with some kind of dedication, devotion, courage, and can-do attitude that stayed with it throughout its time in country. I was one of those lucky enough to see it. I can still even recall my first encounter with them in September of '69 when they supported me and a small intel unit in the southern Rung Sat. They were flying at tree top level above my troops and I as we assaulted a base camp. I'd never experienced anything like it. Everyone else we'd worked with flew up in the stratosphere. This time, these guys edged slowly over us to point out the bunkers in front of us, and then circled tight and blasted them. They killed 6 VC in the attack, and then as we moved forward to clean out the camp, the lead gun swooped down, hovered over us for a second, and a calling card was thrown out the pilot's window. I had no idea what was up, but as it fluttered down to the ground I picked it up. It read "M.H. Forrester, Mercenary, "Death on Call" Professional EXTERMINATOR, 24-Hour Service, Contact Mad-dog 16, 240th AHC, Bearcat, Vietnam." For me, it was the beginning of an exceptional relationship with an unbelievable group of men.

I expect that to this day the men of the 240th don't really know or understand how different they were from virtually every other unit in Viet Nam. Sure, they have their unit pride and their war stories, but the reality is THEY REALLY WERE DIFFERENT. When called upon, they came. They didn't come half-heartedly or with a "hurry up and get this over attitude." They instead came with 150% devotion to getting the job done, no matter what the risks and no matter what the costs. They literally put everyone else to shame. My Vietnamese troops were no-nonsense, aggressive operators. When we knew the 240th was going to be with us, we knew it was going to be a great day. And we also knew that if the going got tough, we'd have the kind of help and support which would get us out - without question!!

Hats off to the men of the 240th. There is no way I could ever express my gratitude to them for being able to work with them, watch them in action, and get to know some of them. In fact, I wish I had taken the time to meet and get to know each one of them. They are the kind of men that make a difference in the world, and they surely did in Viet Nam.

Lt. Bill Cowan (LTC. Retired) USMC
Plastic Handle 6
Rung Sat Special Zone

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