The following excerpts are from the Winter 1997 DUSTOFFer Newsletter. The complete
newsletter, and all the stories, is mailed to each DUSTOFF Association member. If you are
not a member, become a member now and read the complete, intriguing stories.
It seems like both a short and a long time since our last reunion. I have made two
trips back to San Antonio for Council meetings, and stay busy with the affairs of the
Association - which is what you expect your President and other Officers to do. Thanks for
all the correspondence and calls with input for our business affairs - I'm even glad to
get the complaints, and to work on resolving them. Your Officers are working hard to make
our 19th reunion a good one. Please register early so we may plan effectively. We have a
number of new members who expect to be at this year's reunion; some of them started flying
"way back when". I hope that many of our "old timers" who have missed
recent reunions are also back this year. We need to see each other again!! The flight plan
was closed out this year on another long time member; we never know when we will attend
our last reunion, so try not to miss any. Keep those cards and letters coming, and I'll
see you in February. DUSTOFF! Charlie Webb
50th MEDICAL COMPANY
MAJ Glenn Iacovetta brought us up to date on the goings-on of the 50th Medical Company
which included three JRTC rotations, their
Forward Support Medevac Teams remaining constantly deployed with their respective
brigades, medical coverage at Ft. Knox with two
UH60s and crew, and support of the Tennessee, Indiana, Kentucky, Illinois Military
Assistance to Safety and Traffic (TIKI MAST) program.
Their latest initiative lies in train-up and execution of the UH60Q test program. The
50th Air Ambulance Company was chosen as the initial test unit to integrate the Quebec
model into division mission training and support with two UH60Qs arriving sometime in
FROM THE WIREGRASS
In this article Colonel Randy Sexton brings us up to speed with the progress of the
UH-60Q through its development cycle. Four UH-60A helicopters are being modified into
UH-60Qs during this, the engineering and manufacturing, phase of the program at the
Sikorsky plant. Aircraft number one had its first flight in May of this year.
Developmental testing was conducted on this first aircraft and is substantially complete
now. That aircraft is now at the Naval Warfare Systems Center, Dahlgren, VA; undergoing
electromagnetic vulnerability (EMV) testing. That aircraft will join the number two
aircraft at Ft. Campbell in
January for the Operation Test (OT).
Aircraft two, three and four are being modified. Aircraft number two will be used in
training pilots from the 50th Medical Company and Tennessee National Guard who will fly
aircraft during OT. The third aircraft is scheduled for delivery around the end of
December. It will be used in a logistics demonstration in early January and then serve as
a backup for OT. Aircraft number four will be ready for delivery to the government about
the end of February.
Four additional UH-60Qs were provided for in the 1997 appropriations. Production beyond
those aircraft remains uncertain. Funding for continuous production of about one company
per year is currently projected beginning in FY02. While we are a long way from having a
modern fleet of MEDEVAC aircraft in the field, our chances for eventually reaching that
goal have never been brighter.
The latest issue of AAAA Magazine has suspense dates for this year's AAAA awards. Many of our units qualify for these awards.
Please take time to nominate your unit. If you don't tell the world what your unit is or
has done, nobody else will.
HOLDING OUT ON A WAR HERO
||The story of Warrant Officer Hugh C. Thompson Jr., one of our DUSTOFF Association
members, in being awarded a medal for stopping the My Lai Massacre
Thompson set down his chopper, angrily confronted a fellow American soldier and saved
more than a dozen villagers cowering in a bunker. He then plucked an injured child from a
body-filled trench before heading back to headquarters. Throwing down his helmet, he told
commanders what he saw. They ordered a cease-fire, and the killing ended.
Approved for the Soldier's Medal
in Aug. 1996, Thompson has not yet received the decoration or even been officially
notified by the Army that it has been granted. In the midst of this unusually long delay,
Army officials are debating whether to award the medal in a private or public setting.
Some argue a public ceremony would rekindle interest in one of the Army's most sordid
episodes. Those who have championed Thompson's cause are dumbfounded that the Army would
not want to publicize his actions, accounts of which have been woven into cadet ethics
courses at the U.S. Air Force Academy and in a mock My Lai trial at West Point.
Thompson set down his chopper and approached the more senior Lt. William L. Calley, and
got into a bitter argument with him about what was occurring. Calley
would become the only soldier convicted at My Lai. Taking off once again, the crew soon
saw other soldiers running toward a bunker where villagers had fled. Thompson put the
helicopter down and after telling another officer not to fire at the civilians, the
25-year-old Georgia native walked to the bunker, as a dozen U.S. soldiers stood by.
Climbing back into his chopper, Thompson hovered above the irrigation ditch, dropping down
once more to pick up a toddler, who was covered in blood and slime but not seriously hurt.
The whole cripping story is in the Newsletter mailed to our members.
UPDATE - Hugh Thompson was presented the Soldier's Medal in Mar 98. Here is a copy of
WHAT HAPPENED TO MY OLD UNIT?
We get lots of questions from Association members about the current status of a variety
of air ambulance units; we talk at casual gatherings about the location and status of
units we served in (and, usually, units we have fond memories of), and the consultant,
proponency office, and other active duty staffers receive some of the same inquiries. Most
of the active duty folks are reasonably up to date on locations, etc., at least for
assignment preference statement reasons. However, many of the younger active duty troops
have never even heard of some of the units the "old timers" served in. This
article brings you up to date with the units from the Korean War through the conversions
in 1987 of the first new evac battalions, and a gradual conversion to the 15 aircraft
The complete article and a complete listing of units is included in the Newsletter send
to DUSTOFF Association members.
If you are not a member, become a member now and read the whole newsletter.
HUGH C. THOMPSON, JR.
(THEN WARRANT OFFICER ONE, UNITED STATES ARMY)
For heroism above and beyond the call of duty on 16 March 1968, while
saving the lives of at least 10 Vietnamese civilians during the unlawful massacre of
noncombatants by American forces at My Lai, Quang Ngai Province, South Vietnam. Warrant
Officer Thompson landed his helicopter in the line of fire between fleeing Vietnamese
civilians and pursuing American ground troops to prevent their murder. He then personally
confronted the leader of the American ground troops and was prepared to open fire on those
American troops should they fire upon the civilians. Warrant Officer Thompson, at the risk
of his own personal safety, went forward of the American lines and coaxed the Vietnamese
civilians out of the bunker to enable their evacuation. Leaving the area after requesting
and overseeing the civilians' air evacuation, his crew spotted movement in a ditch filled
with bodies south of My Lai Four. Warrant Officer Thompson again landed his helicopter and
covered his crew as they retrieved a wounded child from the pile of bodies. He then flew
the child to the safety of a hospital at Quang Ngai. Warrant Officer Thompson's relayed
radio reports of the massacre and subsequent report to his section leader and commander
resulted in an order for the cease fire at My Lai and an end to the killing of innocent
civilians. Warrant Officer Thompson's heroism exemplifies the highest standards of
personal courage and ethical conduct, reflecting distinct credit on him, and the United
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