27 November 2008


My company in Viet Nam was undergoing a transition. Our new
AH1-G's were arriving, and with each new "Snake" we had to give up one of our UH1-C "Charley Models".
We were down to two "Charleys", so now and then I was tasked to fly as Co-Pilot carrying our Infantry squad in our UH1-H "Slick".
I had gone to Operations to check the tasking board the night before and found I would be "on standby" as Co-Pilot on the slick. This meant my chances of actually flying were pretty slim, so I felt comfortable partying and drinking with friends until the wee hours of the morning.

I dragged myself out of bed at first light, still feeling the residual effects of far too many adult beverages, pre-flighted the aircraft, and rushed back to bed to sleep... hopefully beyond the coming headache.

"Sir! Sir! They need you to scramble RIGHT NOW!"
It's the CQ runner from Operations.
Bleery eyed, I check my watch. It's 0930. I still need another three hours shuteye or so...
This can't be happening.
"Skeeter's been shot down!"

Skeeter was the call sign of our little OH-6 Scout.

Outta bed and into my flight suit... I grab and strap on my .38 revolver and my "chicken plate" body armor, then jog 300 feet to the flight line. Tom, the Aircraft Commander, cranks the Huey as soon as he sees me headed his way.

We fly to the scene of the crash and circle. The little bird is on it's side burning. It's pilot and gunner/observer have been rescued, the crew chief didn't get out in time. We see lots of bad guys flitting below from one covered area to another, and our gunships are hosing those areas down with mini-gun and rockets.

I'm beginning to be uncomfortable.
Pretty quickly I realize I've made a big mistake...
In my rush to get airborne I should have taken a few seconds to hit the latrine. I need to pee, and I'm beginning to feel some gastro-intestinal pain due to having too much fun the night before. Landing is impossible... we can see bad guys running all around beneath us.

The pressure got worse.
And worse.
Finally I can stand the pain no longer. I fill the seat of my flight suit with warm, mushy stench. I'm not in pain any longer, but I'm now squishing around in my own waste and the foul smell makes everyone on the aircraft almost as uncomfortable as me.

Back home, I undressed in the shower and scrubbed myself down.
Lesson indelibly learned...
From that day forward I limited my alcohol intake before flying, even if I was just on standby. And I never got into another helicopter without first making a "pit-stop".


The Old Man said...

Same rule applies before leavin' the wire. As your mom used to say, "Go to the bathroom before you leave."
BTW - I earned the "Order of the Dirty Diaper" in my first firfight, so you ain't the Lone Ranger...

cary said...

It's amazing what a little unfriendly fire will do to the strongest bladder...