After having written my first award winning book, Missions Of Fire
And Mercy, I felt something was missing. I have always had a great
deal of respect for the infantry (grunts) who our unit, C/227th Assault
Helicopter Battalion, 1st Air Cavalry supported. They were always
appreciative of the helicopters and crews. My personal feeling
is that they heroically fought the worst part of the Viet Nam war.
Chopper Warriors will introduce many of the survivors of that war.
The true, interesting, gut-wrenching and often thrilling stories you
are about to read are from men whom I am honored to know. Many of
the words written here are theirs from interviews I have done. As a
storyteller, I have tried to recapture the events as they happened forty-five
plus years ago.
The narrative and scenes created here are mostly true, and the
dialogue is written for all audiences from teenagers to adults, men
and women alike.
Our unit supported these men in every way; inserting them into
the fiery hell of battle, and supplying them with ammo, food, water,
and mail, often under intense enemy fire. When they were ready to
move on to a different LZ, we picked them up and re-inserted
them. When they were sick or wounded, we flew them to the closest
field hospital. And when they were silently lying in the jungle,
having breathed their last, they were solemnly escorted
on our choppers. We reverently evacuated them to an area where
they could be cared for, prior to their final flight back to their loved
ones. I have the utmost respect for the guys we called “grunts”.
Though our military technology didn’t always work, the helicopter
was a very useful tool for putting our troops right where they
needed to be – deep within the enemy’s lair. More importantly, the
choppers saved innumerable lives that in other wars would have
been snuffed out. For that I am grateful to have been a part of the
First team in Viet Nam.
In my personal stories that you will read, I have used actual
names whenever possible. In other cases, names have been changed
in honor of the families.
It is my most sincere hope that these accounts will be read by
those who have lost loved ones in this most unpopular war. Many
soldiers involved in Viet Nam, the Gulf War, Iraq, Afghanistan, and
others, have declined to tell their own stories as they actually happened
to those they love back home. The feelings that war veterans
have, run very deep and are often very traumatic. Many don’t want
to relive those horrendous nightmares. Severe cases of PTSD, guilt,
or not wanting families to know what they went through are prevalent
and very real.
In many cases, their stories are relived here as they actually happened.
Here, you may finally read about what your son, grandson,
husband, father, or friend endured. Though honorable and often
heroic, you can be sure the memories are horrible, and something
they will never forget.
Throughout these pages, you will see the word “grunts.” It seems
that all wars have their own nomenclature. In Viet Nam, a grunt
grunt fought the toughest part of the war, in my mind. In many cases,
that was to lessen the fear of their family and friends. though noble,
I personally feel that to be a shame. i pray that knowing what your
loved ones went through may bring healing to a lot of you.