Uncommon Bond

Thankfully all the things that happened to Hanson did not happen to me. The travel to Vietnam, check in, etc. was from my experience. The units involved were mine as well including the duty assignments for 2/20th Aerial Rocket Artillery and Division Artillery. I flew somewhere almost every day to check on troops at firebases and the pilots of the Cobras stationed at Tay Ninh, Quan Loi, and Phuoc Vinh. Because of the frequent travels I conversed with pilots, crewmen and also the artillerymen at the firebases. I gained a lot of knowledge from them. Several of my best friends were Cobra pilots and furnished me with harrowing tales of firefights around the bases.

Although I didn’t know him personally, a flight surgeon from the 1st Cavalry was taken prisoner from his downed helicopter and eventually was taken to Hanoi. I think he spent 5 years there.

I saw many tunnels including one underground hospital complex. I expanded on my knowledge by reading several books.

I never met an NVA surgeon but did spend time with captured VC and NVA soldiers when I examined them for illnesses. The language barrier limited our conversations but I did learn a little of their daily struggles.

I learned much about the usual Vietnamese life from my contact with villages near my unit’s base camp. My commander allowed me and my medics to use a truck to take medical supplies to the villages and perform MEDCAP (medical civil action programs) We treated men, women and children for all types of diseases. We went so frequently that I developed friendships and learned much about their daily struggles just to survive.

I was subjected to rocket and mortar attacks just like all the 1st Cavalry troopers but was never involved in a firefight and for that I am most grateful to the excellent soldiers who protected our perimeters.

Thanks to my unit assignment I spent time in almost every type helicopter including the Huey, LOH, and Cobra mentioned in the story. I frequently watched Sky Cranes and Chinooks in action as they transported their massive loads including howitzers.

— Dr. John House, author of Uncommon Bond