1st MIBARS In Vietnam!

Hauling Brass!

Photo Credit: MIV

The U6A deHavilland Beaver was reputed to be such a forgiving aircraft that a pilot could fly it in his sleep.  Here a "B" Detachment pilot seems to be testing that theory at the controls of Good Guy 182 somewhere over Vietnam in 1967.

"B" Detachment's Aerial Workhorse

Good Guy 182, delivered film and intelligence products, transported personnel, and carted supplies back and forth between DaNang, the 1st MIBARS headquarters in Saigon, the supply depots in Nha Trang and points in between -- anywhere the Detachment's needs required and supported units, depended on the detachment's intelligence products, were located.  Occasionally, it performed as a photo-observation aircraft, the removable doors allowing a wide field of view for taking pictures.  However, lacking agility or the "don't mess with me" aura of either a war bird or an O-1 Bird Dog that could call in an air strike if attacked, Good Guy 182 was never flown low over combat areas.   

Priority Cargo

All Photo Credits: MIV

Left:  Ready for take-off, the 1st MIBARS battalion commander, LTC Eugene Kelley, Jr. [1924-2012], buckles up in the shotgun seat of Good Guy 182 for a hop from DaNang to Saigon while "B" Detachment's aviator in 1966 and 1967 goes over the pre-flight check list.  Center:  The "B" Detachment commander, MAJ Anthony F. Matta [1929-2014], occupies the back seat on this trip.   Right:  Good Guy 182 often served as a commuter aircraft between DaNang and Saigon, the reassuring hum of its 450 horsepower engine sometimes providing a lullaby for a tired unit commander, in this instance a "B" Detachment commander,  exhausted from weeks of being on duty for what we now call "24/7." 

Beaver Tales

There were few dramatic war stories to be told about the venerable Beaver.  One pilot was said to have missed a warning about naval gunfire and flown through a barrage while traveling along the coast near Nha Trang.  While the aircraft was not hit, falling shells were clearly visible to its nervous occupants.

On another occasion, a flight was made to the supply depot at Qui Nhon to check the warehouses for photographic chemicals and rolls of printing paper, always in limited availability and slow to be obtained through normal supply channels.  It was rainy season, the ceiling was low, and the flight took place almost entirely on instruments, with total cloud cover below.  After an hour or so, the pilot, after consulting his instruments, asked his passenger to look for an opening in the undercast, saying that as soon as they popped out of the clouds, Qui Nhon would be there.  A break in the cloud cover was found but a spiraling descent brought a view of nothing but jungle through the Beaver's windows.  It was clear that the aircraft was lost.  The flight back to DaNang, using the air base's radio beacon, was as uneventful as the trip down.

Photo Credit: Bob Crowell "B" Detachment, Delivery Platoon, 1966-1968

Above:  Delivery Platoon aviator on the PSP (perforated steel planking) at Marble Mountain Air Base in 1967.

Another tale focused on the back seat of the U6A.  It was unremarkable -- except for the presence of the "relief tube" which was installed to facilitate urination in flight.  The relief tube was shaped like the device used by ship captains to communicate with their engine rooms in motion pictures of the 1930's -- the long voice tube with a funnel on the end into which one pressed their mouth and spoke.  Stories abounded of arrogant and verbally tiresome staff officers who didn't notice that headsets for passengers were stowed high on the cabin ceiling and were deliberately allowed by U6A pilots and crew chiefs to assume that the relief tube was a means of communicating with the front-seaters!  

Crew Chief's Occupational Hazard -- The Ride Along

Photo Credit: Bob Crowell

All In A Day's Work

"Most of the time flights were peaceful however there were few times when we did fly into a "hot" LZ [landing zone] and experienced some in-coming rounds and small arms fire, made our drop, and got the hell out of there as quickly as possible. We once experienced a small engine fire, made an emergency landing and I did a quick repair to complete our mission.

We did ferry troops returning from the jungle at times. A particular time we picked up 2 of ours (grunts) with 2 VC [Viet Cong] for transport back to Tan Son Nhut airfield for questioning.  They were in the back of the plane (my Good Guy 562) and there was a lot of serious interrogation going on during that flight.  The pilot sat in his left seat and as always I sat in my right co-pilot seat.  We concentrated only on our flight path on that particular flight.

Another time we ferried a soldier (I believe) from LZ English back to Saigon. He was to be awarded the Medal of Honor. I've tried several times on the Internet to find out who that particular soldier (or a witness) was but cannot find anything convincing to whom it may have been, and why.

The delivery platoon in Det D spent many a night at various LZ's (mostly all PSP [perforated steel plating] runways) and continued with our mission requirements the following day. We got to see a lot of Vietnam from the air and many different parts of the country by visiting many drop zones.  From the air we witnessed many a firefight.  Made us very happy we were in the air.  I am sure there are other delivery platoons with experiences who will attest to this.  The saying was "flyboys had it made" over there. I agree to that analogy for many reasons for which I am thankful today from my personal Vietnam experience."

Bill Riseling, "D" Detachment, Delivery Platoon, 1970 - 1971
Unscheduled Landing

"I think it was in late Nov 67 . . . we had a [new] WO pilot named Bob Smith.  We had a late afternoon flight to Hue.  On the return leg, good old Good Guy 182 blew up, the engine failed, that is.  We were over the coast, called mayday, and were able to glide to Phu Bai.  Spooky ride.  I remember "camping" there for about a week while waiting for parts to repair the engine."

Bob Crowell, "B" Detachment, Delivery Platoon, 1966-1969

Above:  "B" Detachment Crew Chief, armed with a bucket and scrub brush, strides across the PSP (perforated steel planking) on the hard stand of the Marble Mountain Air Base in early 1968.  At right, a makeshift barrier composed of stacked, sand-filled POL barrels provides some protection for the Good Guy aircraft.  A shed of unknown origin and use is seen in the background, along with a tanker truck possibly filled with aviation gas and used to fuel aircraft.

Delivery Platoon MAIN PAGE

"D" Detachment and the Baby Huey

Islands In the Sky

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