VIDEO: Vietnam Huey pilot finds own audio 47 years on
UNITED States military pilot Mark Garrison has discovered the audio from a mission he flew during the Vietnam war -- one he was lucky to survive.
Using the codename 'Pigpen', the recording caputres radio communications from inside three helicopters.
The pilots flew in as 125 American troopers were being surrounded by thousands of enemy fighters. They provided cover so a transport aircraft could collect those on the ground.
Every one of the soldiers was rescued.
In the minutes after the transports left, the hill where the soldiers were standing was overrun.
Meanwhile a load of ammunition, mortars and artillery rounds were set nearby to explode as the enemy took the territory.
Listen to the audio below (some colourful language)
Garrison has told news-sharing website Reddit how his helicopter was struck with two rocket-propelled grenades, destroying his weaponry and miniguns.
A red smoke grenade delivered by the enemy also meant they were flying blind as enemy troops fired machine guns at the aircraft.
At one point he asks fellow pilot "Waldo" how he's looking:
Pigpen: "..it looks like they missed the engine old buddy, it's all in the green."
Waldo: "oh, that's no sweat then. How's everything else looking?"
Pigpen: "other than being on fire for a little while back there, I don't, uh..."
Garrison was forced to stick his head out the window in an attempt to guide the helicopter under heavy fire.
He said by the time they finally escaped the enemy attacks -- and an electrical fire -- he was shaking so much he "could hardly hold a beer without spilling it".
Mark Garrison asked if he knew the recording existed, and in answering he elaborates further on the mission.
Read his full response below:
I knew that it existed at one time but had no idea that it still did and had been transferred to CD, by none other than the guy on ground commanding the troops that we saved that day.
His name is Homer Steedly and was a 1st lieutenant at the time.
There were 125 American infantry troops on the ground completely surrounded by between 2 to 3,000 NVA enemy troops. It's was our job to get them out and I'm happy to say that we did!
Steedly was on the last slick chopper out of the LZ and a great friend and exceptional pilot named Jack Hawkins volunteered to go in and get them as the light was fading, mortars were impacting the chopper pad and there were hundreds of AK 47s, RPGs and, as Waldo put it, "or some s___", shooting at him all at once.
The gunships were giving the enemy all the Hell they wanted from the air at the same time. Hawkins took hits on the way in and out, but all were on board and on their way home.
Homer told me that just before they were picked up and Hawkins was on final approach to the LZ, that he and his men put all the ammo, mortars, and artillery rounds in a nice little pile on top of the hill and lit a fuse to it all.
Lt Steedly also told me that as they climbed out he turned around and said it looked like a fire ant hill had been kicked, there were so many NVA troops rushing up the hill like ants and overran it.
When they got the top, however, the burning fuse gave them a big surprise that they had not anticipated.