Kaman Rotor Tips logo  April-May 1966-page 3-4-5


"President Honors 38th ARRSq"

The 38th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron, Military Airlift Command, recently received the Presidential Distinguished Unit Citation for its "extraordinary gallantry" while carrying out combat rescue missions in southeast Asia. In making the presentation during a White House ceremony, President Lyndon B. Johnson told the assembly that the squadron "has enscribed its name on the honor scroll of American heroes."

"Time and time again the men of the 38th have risked their lives so that their comrades might live, "the President said.

Based at Tan Son Nhut AB in Vietnam, the unit earned the Presidential Citation for its outstanding record in combat operations from August 1, 1964 to July 31, 1965. The President credited the squadron with saving the lives of 74 persons during the period covered by the citation. Crews from the 38th flew 8700 combat missions in their unarmed HH-43B's, HH-3C's, HC-54's, and HU-16's; while logging 12, 750 hours, unit rescuemen won 250 individual decorations including 16 silver stars and 10 purple hearts. Since that time more than 30 other "saves" have been made by the squadron and the number of individual decorations awarded has passed the 300 mark. 

After President Johnson spoke, Dr. Harold Brown, Secretary of the Air Force, read the award accompanying the citation. Also present were Gen John P. McConnell, Air Force Chief of Staff, and Col Allison C. Brooks, Commander of the Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Service. LtCol Edward Krafka, Commander of the 38th during most of the period covered by the citation, accepted the award from the President.

SMSgt Roland J. Biler, former maintenance supervisor of the squadron, and TSgt Charles P. Walther, recently named Airman of the Year for MAC, represented the squadron at the ceremony. Sergeant Walther's record during a year in Vietnam is an excellent example of the 38th's "extraordinary gallantry" which brought forth Presidential praise - the pararescueman received the Air Medal and 10 Oak Leaf Clusters, the Airman's Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster, a Bronze Star and an Air Force Commendation Medal. He is to represent MAC at the 1966 convention of the Air Force Association.

Also on hand was Maj Ronald Ingraham, former helicopter pilot with the 38th. Major Ingraham recently was featured in a special two-part "Twentieth Century" television program which described air rescue activities.

An excellent example of the type missions flown during the period mentioned in the Presidential citation is contained in still another citation - one which accompanied the Distinguished Flying Cross awarded to Capt Carl G. Layman for the rescue of a downed pilot during a battle between the 1st Infantry Division and the Viet Cong.

Captain Layman said afterward that the mission was successfully accomplished due to the "outstanding work" of his crew - Maj William T. Hayes, Jr., copilot; A2c Michael R. Donegan, paramedic; and TSgt Joseph W. Blaquiere, helicopter mechanic.


Captain Carl G. Layman distinguished himself by heroism while participating in aerial flight as an HH-43F crew­member of Detachment 6, 38th Air Rescue Squadron, Bien Hoa Air Base, Republic of Vietnam, on 20 July 1965. On that date, Captain Layman was the pilot on a rescue helicopter that scrambled at night on a reported bailout of a pilot from a fighter-type aircraft. In spite of darkness, heavy rain, poor visibility, low ceilings, and high winds caused by thunderstorm activity, the helicopter rescue crew proceeded to the suspected area of bailout. Fearing the downed pilot had been injured and was unable to signal, the rescue helicopter descended to within 50 feet of the ground and, using floodlights for illumination, initiated a low-speed search for the pilot. During this time the helicopter was an extremely vulnerable target and all crewmembers were in great personal danger from hostile fire. Although sporadic tracer fire and one mortar burst was observed at close range, the helicopter crew persevered in its search until they located the downed pilot and returned him to safety. The outstanding heroism and selfless devotion to duty displayed by Captain Layman reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force. 

That Others May Live

Daily the 38th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Units continue flying their life-saving missions in the face of enemy fire. Following are just a few of the many incidents reported. While concerned with the activities of Det 6 at Bien Hoa and Det 7 at Da Nang AB, they are representative of 38th missions in many areas:

Two HH-43F's were dispatched to Zone "D" from Bien Hoa after a helicopter crashed in the war-torn area. As one HUSKIE hovered, the paramedic, SSgt George E. Schipper, was lowered to the ground and the injured chopper pilot and his crew chief were quickly hoisted aboard. Due to a hoist malfunction, however, it was not possible to immediately recover the Sergeant so the first HH-43F left while the second HUSKIE moved in and took him aboard. Meanwhile, the Army had landed a security team of 20 men in the area, but almost immediately their helo crashed near the wreckage of the first. As the secondary HH-43F began rescuing the crew of this helo, a request was received to also evacuate the stranded security force from the Viet Cong-surrounded area. Meanwhile, the crew of the first HUSKIE returned from delivering wounded and both Air Force helicopters completed the rescue work. In all, 24 persons were evacuated by the HUSKIE crews, plus machine guns and radios from the downed aircraft. Manning the HUSKIES were: Primary helo - Capt Karl G. King, RCC; Capt Ronald L. Bachman, copilot; Sergeant Schipper; and Alc Alexander Montgomery, helicopter mechanic. Secondary helo - Capt Charles P. Nadler, RCC; Capt Raymond L. Murden, copilot; TSgt Kenneth L. Perkins, helo mechanic; and Alc Henry J. O'Beirne, pararescueman.

Two HH-43F's from Det 7 at Da Nang were also involved in the rescue of a downed helo crew. During the missions they were not only continuously exposed to enemy fire, but made hazardous landings in an extremely confined area as well. Because of the limited visibility and light rain, the rescue helicopters were forced to fly at low altitudes and the entire 18-mile flight was made within range of ground fire. Since the downed helicopter crewmen had only side arms for defense against the VC, Capt John B. Kneen, RCC, decided to land at the crash site, despite the unsuitable terrain, in order to speed up the evacuation. He set the HH-43F down in a tiny clearing with the helo's tail section overhanging a ridge; the rotor blades overlapped five-foot trees and the tips were only a few feet from the wrecked Army chopper.

Taking three survivors aboard, Captain Kneen took off and Capt Waino E. Arvo, Jr., then guided the second HUSKIE into the hazardous spot to pick up the other two survivors.

Flying with Captain Kneen as copilot was 1stLt Arthur F. Machado; SSgt Curtis F. Yancy was helicopter mechanic and SSgt Charles A. Kezer, pararescue specialist. In Captain Arvo's crew were Capt Harold A. Solberg, copilot; TSgt Delmar F. Mapes, helicopter mechanic; and Alc Dennis C. Hughes, pararescue specialist.

HUSKIES from Det 6 scrambled when helicopter assistance was requested to evacuate two wounded Australian Army troops from Zone "D". After the forward air controller marked the area with smoke and armed helicopters made several passes over the area, one of the two ARRS choppers lowered Alc William H. Pitsenbarger, pararescueman, through the heavy brush. The two wounded men were hoisted aboard and then Airman Pitsenbarger was picked up. Floodlights were necessary during this phase of the operation because of the trees skirting the pickup area. The choppers were not hit although there was ground fire in the area. Others aboard the recovery HUSKIE included Captain Murden, RCC; Captain King, copilot; and Alc Gerald C. Hammond, Jr., helo mechanic.

During another mission, Sergeant Schipper volunteered to ride the hoist into the midst of a raging firefight to coordinate the rescue efforts and help clear a landing area. Some of the wounded were taken aboard by hoist but, due to Sergeant Schipper's actions, it was possible to load the others directly into the chopper. The HUSKIE crew evacuated 12 wounded men and delivered ammunition, food, and chain saws to the area. In recognition of his actions, Sergeant Schipper has been recommended for the Silver Star. Capt Edwin A. Henningson was RCC aboard the HUSKIE, Captain Bachman, copilot, and Airman Montgomery, helicopter mechanic.

The next day the detachment was called on again to evacuate more wounded personnel from the Zone. Four Army men with chain saws were lowered through the trees and brush to enlarge a clearing for helo landings. Four wounded U.S. and Australian troops were evacuated by hoist and then, with the clearing made, 21 more casualties were taken to safety. Captain Nadler was RCC on this mission, Capt Maurice G. Kessler, copilot; Sergeant Perkins, helo mechanic; and Airman O'Beirne, pararescueman.

The pilot of an A-1E bailed out at night over enemy-­held territory after his aircraft was disabled while conducting an air strike in defense of the Special Forces camp at Pie Me. Evading capture by the Viet Cong, the downed pilot managed to maintain contact with the forward air controller and several attempts were made by Army helicopters to come to his aid - but they were driven off by the intense ground fire. While the downed pilot remained in hiding from the searching Viet Cong, two HUSKIES were scrambled from Bien Hoa AB and, after a three-and-a-half hour night flight over mountainous terrain, arrived at Pleiku. As they began the rescue attempt shortly after daylight, a heavy firefight broke out between enemy positions and the camp. Realizing the downed pilot could not escape capture much longer, Capt Dale L. Potter lowered his HH-43F until the rotor blades were only a few inches above the high elephant grass and the A-1E pilot was hastily snatched aboard. Firing at the time was described as "very intense." Sharing in the hazardous rescue were the copilot, Capt David G. Henry, TSgt Richard A. Connon, a helicopter mechanic, and SSgt Leon Fullwood, pararescueman.
(add by Ragay : Mr Jim Burns comment on 22 June 2007 : " may possibly be the 12 March 1966 loss of an A-1E from the 1st ACS that went down about five miles from the Laos border." ; "I used the book "Vietnam Air Losses" by Chris Hobson to look up the  'possible matches' ")

One of the most recent, and hazardous, missions involved two HH-43F crews from Det 7. Manning the primary helicopter were Lieutenant Machado, pilot; Captain Kneen, copilot; MSgt Harlan D. Longmire, helicopter mechanic; and SSgt David J. Wheeler, pararescue specialist. Aboard the secondary helo were Captain Solberg, pilot; Capt James C. Rodenberg, copilot; Sergeant Mapes, helicopter mechanic; and Airman Hughes, pararescue specialist.

This vivid description of the mission was included in a report on Lieutenant Machado's activities during the night-time evacuation of wounded Marines from a rice paddy in an active battlefield:

Lieutenant Machado distinguished himself by gallantry in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force near Tam Ky, Republic of Vietnam on 9 December 1965. On that date, Lieutenant Machado led a flight of two rescue helicopters, at night, approximately 30 miles south of Da Nang to recover the crew of a Marine helicopter downed by hostile fire while attempting to evacuate wounded Marines. Numerous small-arms tracers were observed throughout the flight to the active battlefield, known as "Operation Harvest Moon, " and geographically located in a valley surrounded by mountainous terrain. Heavy small arms fire was encountered in the recovery area; and 50 caliber machine gun tracers described arcs no less than a mile long upon several occasions in an effort to down the aircraft flying over­head. Flares from an AC-47 were used for search until radio contact with a Marine patrol made it possible to find the exact location.

The patrol had recovered the crew from the helicopter, stating the pilot was killed and one crew member was in very serious condition. The Marine patrol also had 30 wounded men and requested their medical evacuation. Using flashlights, the Marines pinpointed the landing zone which was located in a rice paddy between two hamlets. To avoid drawing increased ground fire, Lieutenant Machado turned off all external lights and in total darkness landed in the paddy after three tracers zipped over the helicopter on final approach. He dispatched his crew to load the most seriously wounded personnel and render medical aid. Then, taking off in total darkness, he climbed in an erratic course to avoid known Viet Cong locations. While passing through 1000 feet of altitude, six mortar rounds were seen and heard exploding along the aircraft's ground path and about 500 yards slant range from the helicopter. Their concussion physically shook the entire aircraft and illuminated it sufficiently to draw several more small-arms tracers. Minutes after de­parting the area, a Marine helicopter was hit several times while approaching the same landing zone to evacuate the remaining wounded. This courageous and aggressive act in the face of hostile fire resulted in the evacuation of five seriously wounded personnel and within minutes gave them the benefits of hospital treatment. Lieutenant Machado's outstanding, humanitarian performance emphasizes his high esteem for a fellow man's life. By his gallantry and devotion to duty, Lieutenant Machado has reflected great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

"It is my duty, as a member of the Air Rescue Service, to save life and to aid the injured.
I will be prepared at all times to perform my assigned duties quickly and efficiently,
placing these duties before personal desires and comforts.

"These things I do that others may live. "

-  Code of the Airescueman



last update : 12/04/2017