HMM-364 loadmaster directs loaded UH-'}4D into a hilltop landing zone during operations in I Corps. (USMC Photo A329571').
Several days later. Lieutenant Colonel La Voy's Marines encountered an equally clever Viet Cong tactic while performing another evacuation mission, this time in support of a U.S. Special Forces patrol 20 miles west of Thuong Due. Army UH-1B gunships made several low-level reconnaissance passes over the pickup site while the UH-34D pilot prepared to hoist the casualties through the dense jungle. When the gunship crews reported no enemy activity, the Marine pilot maneuvered his aircraft into a hovering position above the invisible patrol. At this juncture, well-concealed Viet Cong began firing automatic weapons at the hovering helicopter and forced it to seek safety away from the pickup area. The escorting gunships then wheeled in from above, returning the Viet Cong's fire with rockets and machine guns. The enemy promptly ceased firing, whereupon the Marine helicopter again maneuvered into position above the patrol. Again the enemy challenged the aircraft with fire, this time striking it in the rear portion of the fuselage. Although no serious damage was done, the evacuation helicopter was again forced away from the patrol's position.
The UH-lBs once more placed suppressive fire on the enemy position, finally allowing a second Marine helicopter to hoist the wounded man through the trees. A new burst of enemy fire, however, interrupted a subsequent effort to retrieve the body of a dead patrol member. An HMM-364 helicopter returned to the area the following day and completed the evacuation. Although neither resulted in U.S. or VNAF aircraft losses, the incidents of 21 and 24 April confirmed that the Viet Cong was devising new methods with which to counter the Allies' helicopters. His use of false smoke signals and his persistent refusal to compromise his position by
Page 151 (The Advisory & Combat Assistance Era: 1954-1964)