THE DUSTOFFer ONLINE NEWSLETTER

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[June 1996] [November 1996] [June 1997]

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.

PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE

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 January, 1998.

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

mylai.jpg - 4362 Bytes 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 is told.

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's a copy of the award

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 companies.

The complete article and a complete listing of units is included in the Newsletter sent to DUSTOFF Association members.

If you are not a member, become a member now and read the whole newsletter.

 

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SOLDIER'S MEDAL

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 States Army.

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