Charlie Troop 1/9th Cavalry Bunker City by Edd Hogeboom

Posted on November 25, 2011

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Jack had asked Edd if he knew for sure who was 22. 22 is a call  sign  assigned to a pilot in the Red or Attack Cobra Platoon. Edd Call sign was 16 because he was the Scout Platoon Commander. Jack’s call sign would have been from 31 to 36 since he was a lift pilot.

Hey Jack,

Yes, I believe “double deuce” could have been Ray Mohr. I always called him double deuce or double D. Plus I suffer from CRS (Can’t Remember S_ _ t), I’m told there’s a lot of it going around, especially when you reach our age and have had a few head traumas along the way.

If memory serves me at all, I believe it was he and I that discovered what was referred to as “Bunker City” a few days before Christmas ‘ 69. The Air Force was supposed to Arc-lite it, I believe, on first light of Dec. 24 (stand-down was to begin later that day). Our “6,” Major Tredway, let us do the BDA since we found it — one problem, the “real high altitude pilots” of the AF dropped their “bags” about 12 clicks to the North of our assigned target. They requested that we come to that location and give a BDA (that’s another story for another day). Let it suffice to say the entire body count was of approximately 20 to 30 individuals that had long hair all over their bodies, their eyes weren’t slanted and they lived in trees and caves. We were allowed to work it again (since the AF couldn’t waste another 2 1/2 Million on another Arc-lite) on Christmas Day (of course, we could only fire if fired upon). It apparently was an engineering platoon of NVA and (possibly) some ChiCom, building the complex. They were very lightly armed and offered little resistance.

I probably did one of the most stupid moves of my short tour over there that day. The triple canopy was so thick; it was very difficult to visualize the situation at ground level. So at the urging (and ultimately it was always my decision) of my crew, we hovered down through an opening next to a cliff area. As my crew chief was directing me down through the trees a few inches at a time, I saw something very black out of the corner of my right eye. A cave entrance had been carved into the cliff wall and a tripod was set up on the floor at the entrance to the cave with a wooden chair directly behind it. They had placed their firing position at a point that would allow them to fire up and out through the same hole I was hovering down through…talk about a pucker factor going to an instant and solid ten. I still thank God that Charlie took a break that day!

To end this story (I haven’t really let myself think about this for many years, so forgive my “venting a little”), we hovered on down until we were beneath the triple canopy and proceeded to chase these guys back into their holes. I can’t recall the crew chief’s name (I do recall pulling him out of the bay of my LOH a day or two later for being already high on dope and trying to light a joint during my preflight. I was going hit him when my observer grabbed my arm and said, ” No Chief, they’ll Court Marshall you if you hit him — then he stepped between us and he punched the guys lights out!} Anyway, what I didn’t know was that this Crew Chief had brought an explosive device one of the LRRPs had helped him make. It contained Willy Petes, frags, nails, concussion grenades and CS. He told me right before he lit the second fuse to hover over the largest bunker of the twelve or so they had already built. He said he had a Christmas present for Charlie. Our skids were about ten feet from the top of the bunker. He tried to toss it through the door of what appeared to be a command bunker.

Needless to say, he hit the edge of the opening and his package fell right in front of the bunker. He screams that we have about 5 seconds to get out of the way. Fortunately, it took about 8 to 10 seconds for his package to actually explode. The CS just about did us in. My rotor wash, trapped under that triple canopy, was whipping it all around us and especially into the cockpit. I grabbed for my gas mask from under the seat, which was a total waste. Not only wasn’t it keeping the gas out, the lens were a nice dark amber color that did not permit me to see out of the mask. I finally found the markers I used to get to that point and found my way back to the “hole” I came down through and just prayed Charlie wasn’t going to be sitting in that cave when we started hovering back up a few inches at a time. That was Christmas Day of 1969. We were just thankful to get back to Phouc Vinh that night and with ourselves, and our “Pink Team” still intact.

May God Bless you and yours,

edd hogeboom, Cav 16

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