Mission Number 3 LRRP Extraction

Posted on May 7, 2023


July 7, 1968

Once again, we were called out on a mission. Six Long Range Recon Patrol (LRRPs) members had been scouting enemy movement when they had to call for air support. An attack helicopter unit was dispatched to help them. They had received enemy small arms fire from an unknown size force. One of their own was dead. One rocket from the gunships went erratic and hit in the trees above the men spraying them with shrapnel. All of the men were seriously wounded and could not help themselves.

I was sitting on the right side of the helicopter behind the M60 Machine gun. I was tapped on the shoulder and asked if I wanted to repel down. I asked “is anyone else was down already.” I was told, “Yes, Fellin is on the ground”. That was SP/4 Robert Fellin. Bob was our M79 Grenadier.  I said is anyone else going and I just got a blank look. I said yes I’d go. I moved over to the left side of the chopper and asked if anyone had the proper equipment (D Ring, Swiss Seat and Gloves) to repel. I was told no. I was combat loaded. I carried the PRC 25 radio, 50 rounds of M60 ammo, 4 fragmentation grenades, 8 smoke grenades, M-16 rifle and 22 magazines of M-16 ammo. I took and stepped out onto the skid. I wrapped the rope around my hands and stepped off.  I held on until the pain in my hands made me let go. Luckily for me, the trees were very thick and I bounced and slithered down to the ground. Both of my hands were skinless. Sp4 Fellin who had a pair of thin flight gloves on  but  wasn’t faring any better. We assessed the situation and called for a Medevac with a jungle penetrator.

 The third leg is hidden on the back side.

That is a three prong metal seat attached to a cable which would be lowered and raised by a hoist to and from the helicopter.

We loaded each man, one at a time, onto the seat and sent him up. To do this, we would slide our arms either around the legs or under the arm pits and by using the crook in our elbows we’d lift the man up and move him to the Jungle Perpetrator and then hook him up.  Once all five wounded were on the helicopter, it took off and returned to the Evacuation Hospital.

  Thomas Sprinkle  Sp/4 Long Range Recon Patrol

While we were  preparing the last man and all of the equipment and weapons for extraction we paid close attention to the movement around us. We decided not to engage anything unless they came directly at us. We did not know how many there may be. When the helicopter returned we sent SP/4 Thomas T. Sprinkle (the Killed In Action (KIA)) up to the helicopter. Next we loaded all of their equipment and sent it up. After we sent the last of the equipment up, Bob Fellin told me to go up next. I did. As I was sitting on the Jungle Penetrator turning in a 360 degree slow spin, all I could think of was the VC were down there somewhere in that jungle was taking aim at me and there wasn’t anything I could do. It seemed that Charlie was too close by for Bob to go up on the slow penetrator.  A rope was dropped down to Bob and he tied it around himself and then the helicopter took off pulling Bob out of harms ways with him dangling below the helicopter.   It was only after the helicopter had cleared harms way that I finally felt the fear that should have been there the whole time..

At our first get together some 45 years later, Bob told me how bad I had sprained my ankle when I hit the ground. Bob had a photo that showed that he was the one with the badly sprained ankle.

For almost two weeks I had both of my hands completely bandages. To take a shower, I would have to put plastic bags over the bandages and secure them with rubber bands. To use the latrine I had to use almost a roll of TP every time. For some reason no one wanted to give me a helping hand. Finally the Troop sent me to China Beach for a three day in-country R&R. I took the bandages off when I got there and the salt air did it’s job.

Posted in: Missions