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The Power of a Woman
Blackcats!
1971

by: Ed McPherson (Bugs)
Sp/4 U. S. Army
Marble Mountain, (outside Đà Nàng)
282nd Assault Helicopter Company
(Blackcats (slicks) / Alley Cats (guns)
Door Gunner: 1970-1971-1972
© 2004


I lied about my age and flew as a door gunner for the last six months of my 17th year, my 18th year, and the first six months of my 19th year. I liked six months being 20 years old when I was Honorably Discharged from the Army.

My dad was Air Force and stationed at Đà Nẵng AB (about 5 miles or less from Marble Mountain) for about 15 months of my tour. He worked personal (survival) equipment for the Fox-4 pilots, best I remember. Also he managed the Officer's Club. Msgt Edwin L. McPherson Jr. did two or possibly three tours that ended in 1971.

The Power of a Woman
by Bugs

Can't exactly remember the dates nor the exact place, except that it was south of Marble at some MACV Compound sometime between 1971 and 1972. Although we were with the 282nd Assault Helicopter Company, Blackcats, we had been assigned to work with MACV for a few days. At day's end we landed the Huey in the road in front of a church located in the middle of the compound and shut her down for the night.

We went to the club and started drinking scotch. I do recall that whoever the AC (aircraft commander) was, he was short and had a head full of red hair. We sat drinking in the club for several hours and with each swallow of that scotch the barmaids got to looking better and better. When they closed the bar we decided we were going to go home with a couple of them. Only problem was they lived off the compound and we couldn't get out the gate. Being determined, committed diehard "Cats" we decided , if we couldn't drive out the gate, by golly, we'd fly over it, and we did just that ... well, sort of!

We staggered to the helicopter, and I do mean "STAGGERED" and cranked her up. The red head was at the controls, the Peter pilot was just sitting there, I was in the back and the crew chief got off and refused to go (you know how those crew chiefs were, ha). Now I don't remember how many rpm's you really ought to get before pulling pitch but whatever it was, we didn't quite get there. When the red head pulled on the stick we shot straight up to a height of "just above the power lines and the church's steeple. That bird moaned and started bleeding down and went into what I remember best described as a spin.

Now this compound, as I recall, was at the very edge of the ocean and sat atop a large cliff. I'm not sure who sobered up the quickest, me or the peter pilot, but the red head (aircraft commander) never had a clue.
I remember looking forward and he was gripping those sticks and singing some song at the top of his lung capacity. The Peter pilot was fighting for the controls and yelling at him -- "Let go, I've got it!" I lurched forward and grabbed the red head from behind, nearly getting thrown out in this spin, and jerked him free. I don't to this day know how we survived but the Peter pilot nosed her over that cliff straight into the ocean and managed to build enough forward air speed before hitting the water to make things right.

Once we got her back on the ground we noticed we had drawn quite a crowd. In fact, we had emptied all the hootches below us and had most of the compound heading for safer ground, or at least to anyplace they didn't think that helicopter was going to crash at. The second amazing feat we accomplished that night was the four of us trying to hold each other up and convincing the compound's commander that we had been working on a tail rotor problem and were "test flying" the aircraft.

The lengths a man will go to over a woman (????) ... but then what can I say -- we were "Blackcats."


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