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Captain Freeman's nose art











"Ancient Serpent 6" door logo on Major Crandall's Huey



Major Crandall's nose art












Nose art of UH-1E Huey flown by Captain Pless
























Nose art of 173rd AHC "Robin Hood" Lift Platoon















Night Rescue Mission talleys painted on the right side of Lt Lassen's aircraft, just below the pilot's door. There were two mission talleys on the ship.



















Tail insignia of B Troop, 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry


Joseph "Guy" LaPointe and his wife Cindy shortly before Guy shipped out to Vietnam. (photo courtesy of Cindy LaPointe Dafler)




Door insignia of the 82nd Medical Detachment



Nose and cargo door insignia of 82nd Medical Detachment


Captain Ed Freeman  - November 14, 1965             A Company, 229th Aviation Battalion

    Click on illustration to see larger image, then click "back arrow" to return to this page  
  Captain Ed Freeman served as Second-in-command of A Company, 229th Aviation Battalion  in 1965-66. On November 14, 1965, he flew in support of LTC Hal Moore and the 1/7th Cavalry fighting against three battalions of NVA at LZ X-Ray in the Ia Drang Valley. Captain Freeman flew 14 missions into the face of enemy fire over the course of the first day to deliver much needed ammo and water, and to evacuate wounded soldiers.  He was eventually awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions at LZ X-Ray on July 16, 2001.

Captain Freeman's Huey displayed the 229th crest on the nose, the A Company blue triangle on the pilots' doors, and a small 1st Cavalry Division emblem on the rear of the tail boom. The 229th's aircraft  had "high visibility" markings (yellow and red vertical stripes on the fuselage) at LZ X-Ray. A photo of Captain Freeman's aircraft taken at LZ X-Ray by Joe Galloway shows that there was no M60 gun mount, nor a free-hanging M60 being used on his ship. The cargo bay doors were removed from the aircraft. His ship also sported an antenna strung along the tailboom. There was a small white or yellow placard on the frame post just behind the pilot's door with the number "2" in black. This signified the "second " ship in the combat assault mission. The canvas seat coverings in early Hueys were red in color. Mr. Freeman doesn't remember the a/c number of the ship he flew on the first morning of the battle.  Andy Spencer has researched a/c numbers of early 229th Hueys.  In 1965 A Company flew 1963 and 1964 manufactured Hueys with a/c numbers that fell in the ranges of 63-08xxx and 64-13xxx. The majority of A Troop's Hueys were built in 1963. Because Ed Freeman flew a Huey with the nose number of "775" on occasion, I've illustrated his ship as 63-08775.

      Major Bruce Crandall - November 14, 1965  A Troop, 229th Aviation Battalion            
  Major Bruce Crandall was commander of A Company, 229th Aviation Battalion, on November 14, 1965 at LZ X-Ray. With Captain Freeman's ship following him, Major Crandall flew 14 mission into the hot LZ , taking intense enemy fire to deliver supplies and evacuate wounded from the battle. As his ship was damaged by enemy fire (his crew chief was also wounded on one flight), Major Crandall was forced to switch to another aircraft. He flew a total of three different ships in his effort to support the troops at LZ X-Ray. Major Crandall was finally awarded the Medal of Honor on February 26, 2007.

Major Crandall's aircraft was very similar in appearance to Ed Freeman's, with one major exception. Major Crandall had a unique A Troop door insignia - a large, winged rattlesnake coiled inside the A Company triangle symbol. The snake is smoking a lit cigar, and blowing smoke out it's nostrils. Mr. Crandall told me that flight crews didn't have assigned aircraft in the 229th. Instead, they took any aircraft that was available for the mission at hand. As a result, at the end of a mission, Major Crandall's crew chief would unhinge Major Crandall's distinctive doors from the aircraft they had just flown. At the beginning of the next mission, his crew chief would fasten the doors in place on the new aircraft they were going to fly! That way, Major Crandall's distinctive doors always marked him out for the other pilots during the mission. Photos also show Major Crandall's ship displaying a small  white or yellow sign with the numeral "1" on the frame post just behind the pilots' doors. This signified the lead ship in the combat assault mission. Major Crandall's ship may or may not have had his rear cargo door present. He did not have an M60 hard mount or any free-swinging M60 in use during LZ X-Ray.  I don't have any photo evidence that his ship carried the tail boom antenna, but other 229th Hueys during this time period did, so I illustrated Mr. Crandall's aircraft with this detail. Mr. Crandall doesn't remember what a/c number his ship had on the morning of  November 14th, 1965. Based on Andy Spencer's research of early 229th a/c numbers, and based on photos show Bruce Crandall flying ship number "888" on occasion, I illustrated his aircraft as a/c number 63-08888.

      Captain Stephen Pless, USMC - August 19, 1967          VMO-6    
  On the afternoon of August 19, 1967, Captain Steve Pless and his crew were flying  medevac escort near Quang Ngai (south of Chu Lai in I Corps). On the way to a pick-up of wounded ROK Marines, they heard an emergency call on the "Guard" channel  from a transport helicopter. It had set down to make repairs on the beach, and was attacked by a large number of VC. Four Americans had been left on the ground when the ship took off, and they were being overrun by the enemy. Determining that the H-34 they were escorting could make the initial medevac pick-up without their support, Pless and his crew decided to respond to the emergency call. As they approached the site they could see the enemy beating and hacking at the four American prisoners. Pless took his gunship into a gun and rocket run, targeting a large group of VC in the clearing. Driving the enemy off with his gun run, Pless landed between the Americans and the enemy. Gunnery Sergeant Poulson jumped out and ran to support the single American still capable of walking. Putting the American on board the aircraft, Poulson, followed by the copilot and other crewman raced to help the other Americans. Determining one of the Americans to be dead, the three crewman began carrying the two injured Americans toward their Huey. At this point the VC attacked and tried to overrun the crew and helicopter. Pulling out their side arms, the crew alternately dragged the injured Americans and fired at oncoming VC. Some of the enemy came within a few feet of their Huey while they were loading the injured aboard. When all were aboard, Pless applied power to his grossly overloaded Huey and took off over the water. The skids of the ship touched the water four times before he finally got the aircraft to gain altitude. Pless jetisoned his rocket pods and ordered the crew to throw out all unnecessary items from the cabin. They landed  the injured at Chu Lai First hospital and returned to their base at Ky Ha. The next day Pless and his crew learned that 20 VC dead had been found on the beach with evidence of many more enemy casualties being dragged off. Captain Pless was promoted to Major in September, 1967, and was awarded the Medal of Honor on January 19, 1969. The rest of his crew, Captain Rupert Fairfield, GySgt Leroy Poulson and LCpl John Phelps were all awarded the Navy Cross. Major Pless was killed in a motorcycle accident just a few months later on July 20, 1969. He is buried at Barrancas National Cemetery at NAS Pensacola, FL.

Pless's ship was a UH-1E. The vertical VHS antenna fin normally mounted on the roof is missing. This was common on Marine UH-1E's. However, there was a large rounded dome on the roof in front of the engine. To the right of this dome was a roof-mounted hoist (not visible in this illustration). Pless's Huey was a gunship, and had rockets and dual M60s mounted on a Marine TK-2 weapons mount system. There were also defensive M60s mounted on swivels for the crew. The MARINE legend on the tail boom was painted in flat black. The aircraft number "15" was painted on the nose, behind the pilot's doors, and on the tail in flat black. Step covers on the aft cabin sides were painted red. There were vertical white stripes around the covers, and a vertical red stripe on the engine cowling. Like most Marine UH-1Es, this Huey carried tail boom mounted antennas. This Huey survived the Vietnam War and in 2005 was restored to it's August 1967 appearance by the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, VA. The Huey is now on display in their Vietnam gallery.

      PFC Gary Wetzel - January 8, 1968               173rd AHC        
  PFC (later Sp4c) Gary Wetzel was a door gunner on "Robin Hood 866" in January, 1968. He was nearing the end of his second tour when his helicopter was hit by an enemy RPG rocket while landing in a hot LZ with an insertion team. The grounded helicopter was hit repeatedly by enemy fire and the pilot, Bill Dismukes, was wounded. As PFC Wetzel went to the assistance of his pilot, another enemy rocket impacted the ship just behind the pilot's seat. Wetzel was blown out of the helicopter, suffering severe wounds to his right arm, chest and legs, and his left arm was almost severed from his body - hanging only by a flap of skin. In spite of his multiple wounds, Wetzel climbed back into the damaged ship and took an enemy automatic weapon position under fire with his door gun. The enemy gun had the American troops pinned and Wetzel was able to destroy it with his fire. Wetzel then tried to go to the aid of his pilot again, but passed out from loss of blood. When he regained consciousness, his crew chief was dragging the wounded pilot to the shelter of a nearby dike. Wetzel crawled over and attempted to help the crew chief move the pilot to safety, but passed out a second time.  After he and the other survivors were rescued, Wetzel's left arm was amputated and he spent five months in military hospitals recovering from his injuries and infections. Gary Wetzel was awarded the Medal of Honor on November 19, 1968.

"Robin Hood 866" was a UH-1D. It had the 173rd "Robin Hood" nose art, and 11th Combat Aviation Battalion tail boom vertical stripes (white-green-white for the 173rd). At this point I don't know if the tail number was only the three-digit "866" or a five-digit number. (anyone out there know how the 173rd displayed their tail numbers? - If so, please contact me!) "866" flew with rear cargo doors during this action.  You can see a photo of  heavily damaged "866" after it's recovery on page 20 of Wayne Mutza's book "UH-1Huey in Action", published by Squadron/Signal Publications.

      Lt (jg) Clyde Lassen, USN   June 19,1968           Helicopter Combat Support Squadron (HC)-7        
  Lt Lassen flew from the USS Preble (DLG-15), a Guided Missile Destroyer. The Preble served as a rescue ship for aircraft carriers operating at Yankee Station in the Tonkin Gulf off the coast of North Vietnam. In the early hours of June 19,1968, Lt Lassen and his crew were tasked with attempting the rescue of the crew of an F-4J that had been shot down south of Hanoi. The pilot and RIO were on the ground in North Vietnam and so far had evaded enemy patrols. Although his UH-2A Seasprite was not designed for long-range missions, Lt Lassen and his crew were chosen to make the rescue attempt. They took off shortly after midnight, and after holding briefly at the coastline, they were directed inland toward the downed airmen by the RESCAP aircraft flying cover over the downed F-4 crew. As Lassen's ship neared their position, the RESCAP aircraft launched parachute flares to illuminate the ground. The downed aircrew were in heavy canopy jungle on a ridge, and their emergency strobe lights couldn't be seen through the thick canopy. Making radio contact with the men on the ground, Lassen began a slow descent in a small gap between two trees, hoping to make a hoist extract. However, the last illuminating parachute flare went out during his descent, and Lassen lost all visual references. He hit one of the trees, and the door next to him was ripped off the ship. The aircraft sustained other minor damage, but incredibly Lassen was able to maintain control and climb out of the trees. Lassen then directed the downed men to make their way to a larger clearing at the bottom of the ridge. As the men cleared the jungle, Lassen turned on his aircraft's landing lights and descended to a low hover. The RIO had a broken leg, and it took two minutes for the two men to make it to Lassen's ship. Heavy enemy fire erupted from the treeline, and Lassen's door gunners returned fire with their M60's. Once the men were finally inside, Lassen took off for the coast. He had a vibrating engine, a broken compass, and a rapidly decreasing fuel supply. Once he cleared the coast, Lassen headed for the nearest US ship capable of landing a helicopter. He landed on the USS Jouett (DLG-29) with 135 lbs of fuel left (5 minutes of flight time!). Lt Lassen was awarded the Medal of Honor on January 16, 1969 (the rest of his crew were awarded the Navy Cross). Clyde Lassen retired from the Navy as a commander in 1982. He died in April 1994 after a battle with cancer and is buried at Barrancas National Cemetery at NAS Pensacola, FL.

Lt Lassen's UH-2A Seasprite was painted a flat gray color, with the legend "NAVY" in flat black on the tail boom. There was a small color national emblem in front of the Navy legend. The only other known markings were two "Night Rescue Mission" talleys painted below the right-side pilot's door (see illustration at left). Markings on the aircraft were minimal in an effort to lower visibility during combat SAR (Search and Rescue)operations. The tops of the main rotor blades appear to have been a light grey color with yellow tips. The undersides were painted black. The rear rotors were flat black with red-white-red stripes at the tips. While the UH-2A Seasprite isn't a "Huey" in the accepted sense - a Bell manufactured UH-1 series or Cobra, the Kaman Aerospace Industries UH-2A was part of the UH family of light utility helicopters used in Vietnam.

      Sp4 Joseph G. LaPointe - June 2, 1969                     HQ Troop, 17th Cavalry, 101st Airborne Division      
  Sp4 Joseph "Guy" LaPointe was a medic with Headquarters Troop, 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry. On June 2, 1969,  he was just one day from going on leave to meet his wife and new son. However, SP4 LaPointe volunteered for a mission that day because his replacement was a new guy without any field experience. The patrol landed on the top of Hill 376, near the famous "Hamburger Hill" battle site. Sweeping away from the hilltop LZ, the point man walked into a fire zone from concealed enemy bunkers. Two more men were quickly wounded and "Doc" LaPointe moved forward to aid his wounded buddies. He put himself between the enemy bunkers and the wounded, and began working on the wounded. He was soon hit by enemy fire, but ignoring his own wounds he continued to shield his buddies while tending their wounds. He was hit by a second burst of fire and knocked away from his friends. He crawled back to the wounded again and once more shielded them from enemy fire while resuming his aid.  This time an enemy grenade landed among the group, mortally wounding them all, including Doc LaPointe. He was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously on December 16, 1971.

B Troop, 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Huey UH-1H that carried SP4 LaPointe on his last mission. Aircraft number was "17573". The 101st Airborne Division emblem was displayed below the a/c number on the tail. B Troop Hueys carried a white vertical tail boom stripe just forward of the horizontal tailplane. Yellow crossed sabres adorned the nose of the aircraft. The front ends of the skids were painted black. The aircraft was commanded by Lt. Fernando DePierris. Lt. DePierris flew numerous resupply missions through bad weather and heavy enemy fire to the surviving patrol members trapped on the hilltop. He lifted the survivors and casualties off the hilltop the next day after the enemy positions had been taken out.  This Huey was turned over to the South Vietnamese when the 101st withdrew from Vietnam. Surprisingly, the aircraft survived and is now on display, complete with 101st markings, in the Vietnam War museum in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon).

      CW3 Michael Novosel - October 2, 1969          82nd Medical Detachment (Air Ambulance)            
  CW3 Michael Novosel was pilot-in-command of of a UH-1H med evac Huey with the 82nd Medical Detachment in 1969. On October 2, he went to the assistance of a group of wounded South Vietnamese soldiers that were pinned down by an enemy force concealed in a series of bunkers. Flying without any gunship cover, he made repeated runs against heavy enemy fire to pick up the wounded. Near the end of the action, he spotted a wounded ARVN soldier near an enemy bunker. He maneuvered the ship near the wounded man and a crewman reached down to grab and lift the wounded soldier into the aircraft. During the maneuver the aircraft was hit by enemy fire and CW3 Novosel was wounded. In all, Michael Novosel and his crew made 15 extractions in the face of enemy fire, saving 29 wounded South Vietnamese soldiers. He was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1971.  (Michael Novosel was a veteran of three wars - World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. He flew B-29s in WWII and left the Air Force in 1953 as a Lieutenant Colonel. He joined the Army in 1963 as a Chief Warrant Officer at the age of 42. He flew over 2,500 med evac missions during two tours in Vietnam.)

82nd Medical Detachment aircraft had two distinctive insignia. They had a unique pilot's door insignia involving a med evac kangaroo carrying a wounded youngster in its pouch, over a red cross emblem. The nose and cargo doors also carried a unique red cross, trimmed in white, without the normal white square background. The unit designation "82" was placed in the center of the cross. 82nd Hueys had red tips on the skids. The call sign of CW3 Novosel's ship was "Dust-Off 88".

            More Medal of Honor Hueys coming!        
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