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By: Ed Creamer

Somewhere down in Hell there must exist an H-3 (Hell's Operations) Dept., where they spend their days playing acey-ducey and odd manning to see who goes for beers. However, in their spare time, when they weren't enlarging Ann Margaret photographs, they'd dream up missions and have Heaven's Wing Staff forward them down to some pour soul picked at random from their "future arrivals" list.

Historians of the Vietnam cook out and sleep over will note that one such mission involved Lt. of Marines, Roger Cook. Yes boys and girls, young Roger was selected to haul a water buffalo from Ky Ha to a village near the Laotian border. Not just any village mind you. No! This village was selected by the powers to be to have its only water buffalo that had been killed replaced by the Marines in a formal ceremony. One attended by the villagers, their band and more American brass than can be found in a candle stick factory. Boys and girls can you spell hearts and minds?

After the crew studied up on where the CG of an H-34 was, the animal was loaded and tied down under the transmission. When the crew chief had secured the cargo, the flight of two headed west.

With ASE engaged, all appeared to be going well. That is, until said four legged cargo decided he wanted to go home to Momma. With one concerted lunge, the tie downs broke and said piece of meat totally disregarded the posted CG warnings and headed for the tail cone. I'd like to say at this point the ASE stayed engaged. I'd like to but I'd be lying to ya. It didn't. The nose arched up 30 plus degrees while our Lt of Marines was remembering NATOPS stating the cyclic needed to be pushed forward in instances of this sort.

With the crew chief yelling "It's loose sir" and the port side gunner trying to keep away for its horns, the HAC of the second helicopter radioed in an unsecure mode, "What the Hell's going on?" Roger could be heard yelling, "Shoot the damn thing". "He's in the tail cone. He's loose in the tail cone." "Shoot it damn it." "But, the fuel tanks..........." "SHOOT THE *@&%#@ THING."

They did.

You would think that all would be fine now wouldn't you? Well, it would have been except all that weight was still in the tail cone and the aircraft was in a tight right hand spiral with nose high. (You'd forgotten all about that little CG thing hadn't you?) Somehow, the gunner and crew chief were able to drag the deceased replacement forward and sanity returned.

At this point, I'd like you to picture this. Two choppers on final with one dead water buffalo gift on board. A LARGE crowd of Vietnamese (with band) and numerous USIA and military brass were all standing anxiously near a make shift grandstand. The aircraft touched down and taxied up to the reviewing stand. Before the local band could launch into their version of "Where's The Beef", or Roger could think of something to say to the assembled multitudes, the crew chief and gunner kicked the carcass out the door and there it lay,,,,,,,for all to see.

In the end, it all worked out, sort of. The brass decided to truck in the next replacement. And, instead of eating their usual rice with nouc mahm that night, the villagers ate beef stew. The village even leaned a new song, "Home On The Range".

And Roger, wellllll, he eventually left Vietnam and took to flying them big commercial jets. He took with him a new "bung hole" from all the chewing on him the brass did.