1st MIBARS In Vietnam!

Delivery Platoon

The Real "Good Guys" of 1st MIBARS

 Transporting Product and People

Photo Credit: MIBARS Information Booklet, HQ 1st MIBARS, 1967

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

To ensure timely receipt and dissemination of mission-related materials and resources, as well as the mobility of its staff, the 1st MIBARS utilized an organic airborne delivery capability -- the Delivery Platoon, the logo of which is pictured at left.  Although the platoon was located organizationally in the Headquarters Company in Saigon, individual aircraft were deployed in support of each of the MIBARS field detachments.

The Delivery Platoon provided each of the detachments with a deHavilland U6A Beaver aircraft, a pilot (either a commissioned officer or a warrant officer), and a maintenance specialist who was also known as a Crew Chief.  Originally a Canadian bush plane, the 1947 deHavilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver was designed for rugged service as a versatile aerial hauler capable of operations on a variety of airfields while carrying substantial cargo and affording great reliability. In 1951, the aircraft was purchased by the US Army as a liaison aircraft. At first known as the L-20, it was re-designated U6A in 1962. The Beaver was employed throughout Vietnam for the transportation of personnel and materiel but could also be called upon for aerial mapping, observation work and "other duties as assigned."  The aircraft was about 30 feet long, with a wing span of 48 feet, and stood 9 feet tall.  Powered by a single 450-hp radial piston engine and having a payload of about 2250 pounds, the U6A's range was 770 miles at a maximum speed of 140 mph. The Beaver was unarmed.

deHavilland U6A Beaver -- "B" Detachment's "Good Guy" Aircraft

Photo Credit: Bob Crowell

Photo Credit: MIV

Above Left:  Low, slow and generally reliable: a view of the world -- over the engine air intake housing -- from the right seat of "B" Detachment's U6A Beaver as it begins to over-fly the I Corps Compound sometime in 1968.  Above Right:  Call Sign Good Guy 182: this aircraft, shown with its warrant officer-pilot, flew delivery missions  in Support of Detachment "B" Operations in 1967.  The picture, taken at Marble Mountain Air Facility, shows the aircraft parked on a hard stand composed of steel matting generally referred to as  PSP -- short for either "pierced"  or "perforated" steel "planking" or "plating."

The Good Guys Are On the Job

"One of the first missions [upon our arrival in Vietnam in 1965] was a delivery of photo intelligence to Duc Hoa, a small dirt strip west of Tan Son Nhut that included US forces. About three miles from airfield I called "Duc Hoa Advisory" was told that I could land; however, "One Shot Charlie" had been active on the NE side of the field. I called back "Hey, I am a Good Guy do not shoot at me". When I landed, I taxied to the operations ramp and without shutting down the engine handed the intelligence summary packet to the airfield NCOIC [non-commissioned officer in charge]. I noticed a sign near operations which stated "Please Do Not Shoot Our Charlie". The NCO said their Charlie could not shoot straight, so if he was killed they were afraid he would be replaced by some Viet Cong that could shoot straight. Later that day I returned to Duc Hoa and upon establishing radio contact was asked if I was the "Good Guy". The call-sign stuck, and the delivery platoon adopted it as "our" call-sign.  Hence forth we used "Good Guy" with last three digits (Good Guy 859) of the aircraft serial number" as we made radio calls."

Donald "Scotty" McMillan, Delivery Platoon; Fort Bragg NC and Saigon, Vietnam, 1965-1966

Care and Feeding For the Good Guy

Photo Credit: Bob Crowell

Photo Credit: MIV

The Delivery Platoon's Crew Chief for "B" Detachment was responsible for the day-to-day care and routine maintenance of Good Guy 182Above Left:  The Crew Chief  is shown hosing down the aircraft, from which the engine cowling has been temporarily removed for engine servicing.  Although not discernable in this photo, the aircraft's tail number is 75182.  Tail numbers are a standard component of aircraft call signs which include a designator, often the manufacturer of the aircraft, as prefix, and a suffix composed of the last three digits of the tail number.  A civilian pilot in Canadian bush country might have used "deHavilland 182" as the call sign for this aircraft, but since the men of the Delivery Platoon considered themselves "the good guys," they used Good Guy 182Above Right:  "B" Detachment's Crew Chief in mid-1967.

No Drama -- All Business

Although it was a stout bird, the U6A Beaver was, perhaps, among the least dramatic of all aircraft in the combat zone.  At rest, it sat high on the ground and required an ungainly climb to reach the pilot or passenger seat.  Inside, it was relatively roomy and comfortable, but lacking an oxygen system and supercharged engine, it was relegated to slow flight at lower altitudes.

While it could have engendered some romantic interest as a "bush" plane, any potential thunder that might have come the U6A's way as an unusual  participant in Vietnam's air war was largely usurped by newer short-takeoff-and-landing (STOL) aircraft used by Air America and other allied forces -- planes such as the Helio Courier and the Pilatus Porter.  Like fighter pilots going to afterburner, STOL pilots liked to demonstrate the capabilities of their aircraft for all to see and therefore had a tendency to draw attention to themselves by taking off and landing at the most extreme angles possible, despite the fact that runways in DaNang were wide and thousands of feet long.

Yet despite it all, U6As like Good Guy 182 had their own unique and important jobs to do.  They lined up daily on air base taxi ways -- interspersed between C-130s, F4Cs, A-6s, Thunderchiefs  and other aircraft of more exotic design or heavily laden with munitions -- waiting with neither complaint nor apology for their turn at the active runway and the skies above Vietnam.

Tet Offensive, 1968: Good Guy 182's "Over and Out"

Good Guy 182 was destroyed when a mortar round landed beneath the right wing the first or second night of TET 68, at Marble Mountain.  As I recall, the mortar round landed on the tarmac near the right wing.  All five fuel cells were punctured and drained and it was amazing the bird did not burn.  I remember we had to file a combat loss report that required counting the holes by aircraft section.  There were more than 700 holes in Good Guy 182.  The last time I recall seeing her, she was being towed to the bone yard located at the north end of the airfield.  It was a bad night; lot of aircraft, Army and Marine, destroyed that night, and a few men, too.   The next three weeks were interesting.  Good Guy 182 was replaced by Good Guy 427 and another aircraft, and we had two pilots for awhile and were "busy beavers," literally.

Bob Crowell

Photo Credit: Don Skinner, "B" Detachment, Reproduction Section, 1969-1970

Photo Credit: MIV

Left:  Successor U6A Beaver to the destroyed Good Guy 182.  "B" Detachment's air capability now based at DaNang Main Air Base in 1969, this aircraft enjoyed a tie-down sheltered by a steel revetment -- visible in the background -- that offered protection from attack and explosions on three sides.   Right: The view climbing out after take-off from Marble Mountain Air Facility.  "Marble Mountain" was actually five separate marble and limestone outcrops known to the locals as the Mountains of the Five Elements.  Individually, they were named for water, metal, wood, fire and earth.

Hauling Brass!

"D" Detachment and the Baby Huey

Islands In the Sky

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