11 November 2008
Some Gave All
There were seven Infantry troops aboard the Huey.
Add Pilot, Co-Pilot, Crew Chief and Gunner, and you come up with 11 "Souls on Board".
If we found something of military interest on our recons, we could insert our "Animals" to investigate more closely. But something out of the ordinary popped up-
The Huey pilot called the team leader,
"Lead, Slick has a problem."
"What's your problem, Slick?"
"My transmission oil pressure is reading zero... segment caution light is on too."
"Well, what d'ya think?"
The Slick was a long way from friendly forces. Making a precautionary landing would put the entire crew at risk on the ground, and would cause lots of complications.
"I think we'll press on. If the transmission oil temperature goes up, I'll know we truly have a problem."
The transmission oil temperature gauge sending unit receives its reading from a probe that must be in contact with the oil flow to work properly. In a situation where the oil is all gone, it has nothing to read and will not indicate a rise in temperature.
This transmission was dry.
The Slick flew on for several minutes while the gears in the transmission, lacking the lubrication and cooling afforded by its oil supply, got hotter and hotter. It eventually got so hot it seized solid and the rotor came to a complete stop. The slick and all aboard plummeted 2,500 feet to the ground...
Eleven dead because the Pilot and Co-Pilot didn't know how the transmission lubrication system worked.
This incident happened to my Viet Nam unit shortly after I returned home.
The Pilot, a guy I knew well, was a serious, quiet, thoughtful young man.
Along with many others, I think of him and all the rest on that aircraft on Veterans Day.
Our military is the tip of our spear.
All who wear the uniform are at risk. We cannot say it often enough...
Thank you Veterans.