By George Duerre
I was the section leader of a flight of two Huey Guns working with the 7th Marines at An Hoa. We were providing gun cover for the 46’s as they re-supplied the grunts in the field.
It was a slow day and we finished the re-supply early but were told to stay at An Hoa for the afternoon in case we were needed.
With nothing to do but try and stay cool, we four pilots hatched a brilliant plan.
We would tape smoke grenades to the skids of the two Huey’s. The grenades would be wired so the crew chief and door gunner could pull the pins on command.
On our return to Marble Mountain we would fly in close formation (like the Blue Angels) straight up the runway at 500 ft. Halfway up the runway we would execute a precision break and come around for a landing.
What was going to be spectacular was that as we came over the end of the runway the crew would pull the pins of the smoke grenades. And indeed it was a grand sight. Two Huey gunships, in tight formation, streaming multi-colored smoke from the eight grenades on their skids.
However – as we made our break to the left over the entirety of MAG 36 the smoke grenades began to melt the tape holding them to the skids. One by one eight grenades fell from the helicopters and landed on the squadron offices, maintenance buildings, chow halls, and even one into the fuel pit.
As we taxied to the revetments we received a terse radio message that our squadron XO desired our presence in his office.
A royal ass chewing followed. But what were they going to do? Cut all our hair off and make us fly helicopters in Viet Nam?