Returning from our mission and just entering the countryside from
Saigon, we hit the deck flying low-level on Hwy 1, going north, and broke off to the NW into low arid lowlands. Still on the deck, a few clicks off the Hwy, a half squad of VC popped up and sprayed the starboard side of the ship, hitting the copilot's window, floor, instruments, cargo floor, etc.
I was firing my M-60 out the door the whole time, jamming the rounds down the VC's throat with them still firing on us. It was like a slow motion fire fight. After I broke contact I jumped up to the pilots to check them out. On the way there Don Amundson, the crew chief, grabbed me, in shock, because my face and shield was full of blood. I was hit in the face during the fight but it didn't bother me, I was interested in getting to the pilots.
Lt. Bill Graves, the Aircraft Commander, was all right but Lt. Montgomery, the co-pilot, was slumping in his seat staring and not responding to questions. I checked his body and found three hits, two not so severe, but something was wrong. He wasn't wearing his armored plate, and I found a hole in his left chest. I pulled him
forward and put my hand up the back of his shirt to check his back. I wanted to see if his back had been blown out, but fortunately it wasn't, the round was still inside.
The area of the wound and his faint look and not responding just told me it was a lung wound. I grabbed the first-aid kit and ripped it open, took the plastic and with that and my finger pushed it over and into the hole with my finger. I left it there until Graves landed and we had medics. I kept my hand over the wound until he was out of the ship and passed onto the medics.
by Bob Kendrick - Stallion 504 Door Gunner - 11/67 - 10/68
Both Bob and Don Amundson, the Crew Chief of 504, were awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal for Heroism for their actions.
by Don Amundson - Stallion 504 Crew Chief - 11/67 - 10/68
January 13, 1968
Just another busy mission day in Vietnam and heading back to Dong Ba Thin. I was the Crew Chief of 504 (named "Love", Bob Kendrick was the Door Gunner ("the best" by the way), Bill Graves the Aircraft Commander (the best I ever flew with, and I flew with the best and often) and Lt. Montgomery was the Co-Pilot.
As Bob mentioned in his account, we were flying low and he mentioned the route we were taking. As always, when flying low, it was machine guns out and ready. I was never worried about them not firing, as Bob kept them in good shape. I did one thing different on this day, and that was - I put my tool box under my bench seat. I don't know why, other than I did.
As I recall, without anyone seeing anything or saying anything, just like that the ground opened up and we were getting hit and returning fire. I had my radio cord to my helmet shot in half so I didn't hear any of the communications for most our little fire fight. As we were firing back, I could tell we were taking hits as I could hear the rounds hitting the chopper. I was leaning out and had my M-60 almost straight down as I could see those shooting at us as we passed. I could hear Bob firing and shooting off his weapons (he always seemed to have extras).
I think Bob was wondering about me, as I was about him. At the time I didn't know my cord was shot off and I was wondering why he wasn't responding. I jumped out of my seat and he was coming out of his. At that time I noted the cord and noted that Bob had blood all over his face. I think he was cut by plastic, as he was very close to being shot in the face. After I found out he was okay, we checked the pilots and found that Lt. Montgomery was hit. We tried to keep him awake and we pulled the red levers back and flipped the seat back to check him out. After discovering that he had a sucking chest wound, as I recall, we put a piece of plastic over it from the medical kit, made sure he didn't have his back ripped out and pulled him back off the seat. Bob continued to attend to him. Captain Graves asked me to get in the seat as we weren't sure how bad the chopper was hit. It seemed to be vibrating. I remember Captain Graves having a wounded right hand that he had on the collective stick. He said it was okay, so we continued to head for the Phan Rang Base (I believe, but not sure about the base name without some help). We had taken Lt. Montgomery's helmet off, and I used it so I could communicate.
When we landed, the medics and medical support group took all three crew members away to check them out. I was all alone with the chopper (504), and I kissed the pad it was sitting on.
There were holes all over 504, and one of the collective connecting tubes was shot in half (among other parts). My tool box was riddled with armor piercing rounds. Had I not put that tool box in that location, I could have kissed my butt goodbye. I believe we did all the right things, and believe that we poured enough rounds at the enemy to suppress some of their fire. Lt. Montgomery lived.