CATKILLER HISTORY, 1969:
Jack Bentley, Catkiller 16/17, provided this respoonse to a request for information (relocated from 1st Quarterly newsletter, 2003):
"Regarding the AO killed in mid 1969: His name was Michael S. Lafromboise, a Marine AO killed June 6, 1969. He had only 19 days left in country.. Leonard Bumgardner [Catkiller 14] was the pilot, and he made a valiant and desperate effort to get the aircraft into Quang Tri (the most sophisticated medical treatment facility in the area). They took a 12.7 round through the bottom of the aircraft, which hit Mike in the right leg and wrist. The tail number of the aircraft was 742. My first mission on the DMZ, with troops in contact, was with Mike in my back seat. I remember being in awe of his cool/calm demeanor and professionalism. Whenever you drew a mission with Mike, you knew it was going to be a good one. Jack Bentley"
[Click on any photo for a larger pixel version]
Mike Pate, Catkiller Mechanic, 1969—1971, sent these photos but can't recall some names of people in the photos, other than himself. If you recognize those unidentified, please let us know:
GLENN STEWART, CATKILLER 45 — JACK BENTLEY, CATKILLER 16, 1969:
Glenn Stewart, Catkiller 45 (demonstrating the survival vest we wore on each mission), and Jack Bentley, Catkiller 16 (demonstrating our standard flight suit), dug through their old photos and sent these for publication:
Additional photos sent by Glenn Stewart:
ESSAY OF TIME IN—COUNTRY BY JOE MEAD, SGT, 1969—70:
"I arrived in RVN on May 25th, 1969. My normal DEROS date should have been May 25th, 1970 but I got a one day drop to May 24th. My last day with the 220th was May 22nd. Major Gebhardt told me he was flying to DaNang that afternoon and offered me a ride which I accepted. While waiting for him outside the Orderly Room, with my duffle bag in my hand, tears flooded my eyes for a half minute for no reason at all. I whipped out my handkerchief and pretended to blow my nose and quickly lit up a smoke to make it look like all was normal.
Once in DaNang we went to the 212th Avn Bn HQ where I reported in as ordered, met two Sgts I had trained with for 7 months stateside - a nice reunion - and slept the night there. Next day, May 23rd, we took a military flight to our departure site (Cam-ranh Bay?) and after checking in and chow I took a shower and on the way noticed an M60 firing into the night from a bunker not far away. I hit the sack at about 10 and they woke us up a short time later for transportation to the airport and the Freedom Bird. I was a draftee, and upon arrival at Ft Lewis I was separated from the Army, as I had less than 150 days to serve.
In reviewing the roster I see that Larry Landersheim was KIA the day after I left - May 23rd, 1970. What happened? During my time with the Catkillers we did not suffer a single casualty other than an EM who took a bullet while driving a truck away from Phu Bai.
I worked in the Operations bunker and spent many a night on the midnight — 8 AM shift.
On my flight to "The World" I was sitting next to a guy who was in my Basic Training Company and Radio Op. School at Ft Dix. The last time I haad seen him was Feb 5th, 1969 as 20 of us from the radio school - one week short of graduation - were shipped down to Ft Gordon, Ga. for radio teletype School. I was startled to see him as I knew right away he had been in RVN more than a year. He said he extended his tour to get the same early out as me — he was also a draftee.
As a chair born warrior working in the Operations office/bunker I don't have much to offer in the way of Catkiller History, but I have found some notes that might be of interest:
During my tour 5/69-5/70:
- The name of one of the 101st AO's who was living with our company in early 1970 was (SGT)Tony McGinley.
- On the back of a photo dated 6 Dec 1969, I noted the temperature as 82 degrees — rather warm for the winter.
- On the back of a photo dated 19 Dec 1969 is the notation “Phu Bai—140 inches of rain for Oct. and Nov. — an all time record for Vietnam.”
- I arrived in Phu Bai at the end of May 1969 and have a pretty good memory of weekly incoming — usually Saturday night about 10 PM, from June to Sept and nothing after that.
- In June 1969, an AO was hit with a 50 cal. bullet and bled to death before our Bird Dog could get down to the ground.
On the lighter side:
- A pilot went down in the bush during the day, was rescued and next day, and a detail went out to torch the remains after useable parts from the aircraft were removed.
- One evening we had a plane make an emergency landing (on a sand bar?) and the pilot rescued by a Jolly Green Giant; forget the name of the pilot but saw him after he got back as he had to complete his paper work and give it to me. [Joe, in October 1969 I had a complete engine failure overhead Quang Tri, while flying northbound to Dong Ha. It was a matter of making a right base and landing dead-stick. Engine oil cap came off just south of Quang Tri. Don Ricks]
Perhaps some of the pilots could fill in the blanks and provide you with more detail as respects the AO KIA and the emergency landings.
- Three new electronic typewriters were delived to the company. Rumor had it they were orderd a long time ago and were finially delivered (maybe late 1969).
- After promotion to SGT, I was handed a driver license stating I was qualified in the jeep, 3/4 ton etc., even though I had never driven a stick shift in my life (Jan. 1970).
- Before my first stint as Sgt of the Guard, I was given 20 minutes to learn how to drive a stick shift. The guards howled with laughter as I struggled through the the gears while sweating like a hog. (Jan 1970).
- In the “theatre” we watched the Longest Day, which may have been the longest showing of a movie as the film kept needing splicing. Finially the projector broke, and we finished watching the movie the next night.
I believe the NCO club was completed in 1970.
Someone told me that during the Tet Offensive mortar rounds were walked across the company area.
Ask pilots who flew the night missions over Phu Bai if they recall seeing the flashes/sources of incoming but were unable to get clearance for return fire.
All the best,
CATKILLER SP5 WAYNE K. WOYTOWICH:
Wayne Woytowich, was stationed at Phu Bai. He served as a crew chief in Viet Nam from May 69—Oct. 70. He was in the 220th RAC, 1st Aviation Brigade. Wayne, of Madison, Alabama, passed away on June 18, 2009.
SP5 ALEX KNIGHT, 1969:
Back in 1969, SP5 Alec Knight took these shots with his camera, and recently he scanned the old slides you see below. There are higher resolution versions, but these reduced to 375 width provides the essence. Thanks for the input, Alec. He was a engine mechanic but served as NCOIC of the EM and NCO clubs: