Charlie Troop 1/9th Cavalry An Lo Valley by Mike Askew

Posted on September 1, 2011



It was late October 1967, we were flying south of An Lo lake reconning the mountain range not far from LZ Uplift.  We were getting close to having to return to Uplift for refueling when I noticed something unusual under an out cropping of rocks that was surrounded by high elephant grass.   I immediately told the pilot what I had observed and he broke around and did a second fly over.  We could see a well used trail leading into the rocks from the east, but we didn’t see any human activity.  My pilot decided to fire a few rockets into the opening under the large rock.  We made several gun runs on the location before  coming to a hover not more than 100 feet from the opening so that I could observe what was under the rock.    I was facing the rocks and my gunner was facing the valley while the pilot hovered the helicopter.  When the high elephant grass parted due to the rotor wash I could see a hammock hanging on one
side of the cave and a AK 47 leaning against the wall on the opposite side of the opening.   I was telling the pilot what I was seeing when all of a sudden a VC stood up in front of the cave and started firing one shot at a time.  I was caught off guard and grabbed for my M-60 to return fire.  The VC looked as though he was drunk, kind of swaying back and forth while firing his weapon.  I think his swaying was because of the rocket attack we had put on the position before moving in to take a look.  The pilot began to fly the helicopter out of harms way by dropping the nose and falling down the side of the mountain.  As he began to fall away I pulled the trigger on my M60 and the VC fell down into the elephant grass.  We were running low on fuel by this time and had to leave the are and head for Uplift.  On the way there we laughed about how bad of a shot the VC had been.  He had fired at us point-blank, but missed with each shot.

Arriving at the refueling point, I jumped out of the chopper and grabbed the fuel hose and began to refuel.  I was standing there looking at the side of the helicopter when I noticed a small hole about one inch from where I was sitting.  I let the pilot know what had happened and he immediately shut the engine down.  We opened the engine compartment and could see that the bullet had passed through our fuel cell and the transmission mount taking a large chunk out of the transmission gear box.  The helicopter was not flyable and had to be air-lifted to An Khe for a full transmission and fuel cell replacement.

I guess that VC wasn’t such a bad shot after all.

Mike Askew