With the Viet Cong on the move throughout the Delta, the VNAF Dustoff crews could not keep up with their missions. We began helping them again during the day, along with flying most of the night missions ourselves. Gunships were usually available during the daytime and we began to work regularly with Cobras from the 187th Assault Helicopter Company out of Can Tho.
During one particular mission on the afternoon of December 4, 1971, we got to see some spectacular Cobra firepower in action. It was our seventh mission of the day, and since we’d had Cobras with us all day, things had been rather quiet. The VC didn’t like to make a Cobra pilot mad.
On this particular mission, we were making an approach to an area just beyond a row of hooches, the grass huts where some of the villagers lived. Outlaw 3 stayed upstairs to keep an eye on things for us, while Outlaw 4 accompanied us down, flying just off our right side. Suddenly, he accelerated and circled right in front of us. The guy in the front seat was sticking his finger through a bullet hole in his plexiglas canopy. He had been fired upon from one of the hooches as we passed by and the bullet pierced the canopy right in front of his face.
“They shouldn’t have done that,” Outlaw 4 said, as he circled around behind us and lined up on the row of hooches. “It kind of makes me mad when they put a hole in my helicopter.”
He let loose a salvo of rockets that hit the first hooch. It was like a domino effect as hooches down the row began to explode and collapse. Apparently, there was a cache of ammunition or explosives stored in several of the grass huts, because there sure wasn’t that much firepower in those rockets. The feeling among the crew was one of mixed emotions. You didn’t want to destroy civilian homes, but when you saw what they contained, you were sure glad you did.