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Soldier to Soldier: Thank You for being there

Charley Scandalito COL (U.S.A. Retired)        Vietnam 1967 - 1968

Originally Published on November 27th, 2018.

LTC Maurice Morton:

After 45 years, I want to do something I should have done so long ago. And that is to thank you for your support when I so desperately needed it.

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One of the most enduring and vivid images of Vietnam is the helicopter. There is little doubt that the helicopter revolutionized warfare and how the war in Vietnam (1955-1975) was fought. Flying your helicopters you lifted troops, supplies, material, equipment, and vehicles. You conducted visual reconnaissance, command and control, medical evacuation, artillery spotting, fire support, and countless administrative tasks. You were aerial weapons platforms and aerial trucks. The 40,000 pilots were the men behind this revolution.

You sir were one of them.

Many helicopter pilots were thrill seekers to some degree. They liked fast cars and a fast life. To “party hardy” was a common term used to describe their lifestyle. They loved to fly and the war gave them the opportunity to do that. They were little concerned with the politics of the war, the conflicts back at home, and could care less about the drug culture, sexual revolution, the environment, and other social issues that defined their generation. A common aviator’s phrase was,

“Who needs drugs, I’m already high.” 

Helicopter pilots experienced a broad range of combat, from air-lift, med-evac and fire-support to landing in ‘Hot LZs’, in which choppers would find themselves caught in deadly high-volume crossfires. Crew protection, other than armored seats for the pilots, was minimal. There was little armor to protect vital engines, transmissions, and fuel tanks. Crashes were survivable, but aircrews suffered relatively high casualties.

And yet you came in with guns blazing and never complained.

You were there when I called and needed you most.

LTC Maurice Morton

Enemy action was not the only cause for concern. Of the 4,642 US helicopters lost in Vietnam and the 2,177 pilot and crew killed in action (KIA), over half were due to non-hostile causes — accidents, mechanical failure, weather, and other non-combat causes.

And yet you came in with guns blazing and never complained.

Aviators had to deal with long flying hours in a less than pleasant climate, heat, humidity, dust, rapidly changing weather conditions, spare parts shortages, and spotty maintenance.

And yet you came in with guns blazing and never complained.

You and your crew came in with guns blazing when I needed you most with little concern for your own safety and welfare to save me and my men from sure disaster.

For that “SIR” I want to Thank you for being there – so long ago.

Charley Scandalito                   Captain Charley Scandalito
COL (U.S.A. Retired)               Vietnam 1967 – 1968

Charley has a unique and interesting military background that cannot be condensed into such a small space. To read his full biography article about his many years in the service, ….click here.

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