John Niamtu On going to Vietnam

Posted on January 7, 2011

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The following was sent to me by John Niamtu, Sr.

Many of the pilots and all the 1/9 Cav Helicopters went on the USS Boxer LPH-4. We flew the aircraft from Ft Benning to The US Naval Port at Mayport Florida. After returning to Benning for final goodbyes we sailed in August 1965. We crossed the Atlantic, than thru the Mediterranean Sea, Suez Cannel, Red Sea, Indian Ocean and South China Sea to Cam Ranh Bay. While at anchor the Mohawks were off loaded to barges. We then steamed up the coast to Qui Nhon. The ship was then anchored at some distance from shore while the Helicopters were made ready.

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The CH-54s and Chinooks went first followed by the UH-1s and H-13s. No test flights, just ground checks. After take off follow highway 19 to the Golf course… The grapevine had reported ships flying at low level were being shot at.

It took several days to get us all off the ship. I flew an H-13S , flight of one, crew of one (me). When I found the Golf Course I was at 12,000 indicated. If Charlie shot at me I was not aware of it… It took forever to descend and land. I didn’t mind, I sure felt safe. See attached picture of the USS Boxer loaded with First Cav Aircraft at Mayport 1965.

Aboard the Boxer was about half of the Division’s Aircraft, The other half shipped out of Mobile Alabama.

The second picture is of me on left and WO John Hilburn at Camp Radcliff a couple of days after the 3 November 1965 Ambush. (You can read about the Ambush in Hal Moore’s book, ( We were Soldiers Once and Young). I was wounded while dropping off ammo in the Hot LZ a little past midnight, John stubbed his toe while running to the bunker at night during a mortar attack.

John died sometime in the late 60’s. He was working for Bell Helicopter as a Test Pilot. His death was caused by an accident while he was flying a Cobra…May he RIP. We were flight classmates in class 64-3W. He was a good man and I miss him…

John Niamtu/ Thirsty37…

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