Green Bugs

Huey Pilot's First Flight

by: Jim Schueckler
(© 1997)

My first day as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam, probably January 10, 1969:

I was assigned as Peter Pilot to one of the most experienced Aircraft Commanders. Everything was going just like flight school; quick briefing, we marked our maps, wrote down frequencies, preflight the aircraft. Just like flight school. [Son ... there's no such thang as'a stupid question!]

Crank up the birds, pick up the grunts, take off in formation, head for the Landing Zone, the LZ.

On final approach, the Aircraft Commander took the controls and said, "Stay on the controls with me, but I will do the flying, understand?"

"OK, you've got it." ("Just like flight school." I think to myself.)

Some noise and smoke in the LZ; we dropped off the grunts.

Neat! Just like flight school. Just like I expected.

After the formation was back at cruising altitude I asked the Aircraft Commander about the one thing that I hadn't seen in flight school:

"What were those little green bugs?"

"What little green bugs?"

"When we were on final, and down there in the LZ---there were little



"... Are you kidding me?"

"No, there were a whole lot of little



and they were going REAL fast."

"You MUST be kidding me."

"... No, they were THERE---real fast and real straight."

"Those were tracers."


But ... they were coming TOWARDS us!"

"Yes, they were coming towards us!"

"Do you mean ...
... they were SHOOTING at us?"

"Yes, they were 'shooting' at us." (smugly)

"... Oh ..."
... said I, the humble newbie.

While we were refueling, the crewchief said on the intercom,

"Sir, I think we better shut down to see how much damage we have; some of those little green bugsbit us back here." (snicker)

It was many months before I stopped getting teased: "Hey Jim, see any little greenbugs today ... ?"

Welcome Home, Polecat 356
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Jim: When I read your above story, Little Green Bugs, it reminded me of the first time I experienced those same little green bugs. I arrived as a FNG in Tay Ninh attached to the 196th Lt Inf that was at a well established base camp. I thought I had it made when I actually saw TV antennas on top of many bunkers.
      Our sleeping quarters had about a three to four foot layer of sandbags around the bottom with screen up to the steel and sandbagged roof. I wondered why the top bunks were available and quickly grabbed one since it caught what ever breeze was available.
      I was laying on my bunk one night when all of a sudden those green bugs were flashing through our hooch leaving little holes in the screen, coming and going. Someone jerked me off the bunk and I suddenly realized what those green bugs were.
      I had been attached to a mortar platoon and as we huddled behind the safety of the sandbags, someone opened the swinging door and the air was full of "little green bugs". There was no way that we would get a fire mission since we had to travel about 40 feet to our gun position and THEY surely wouldn't want us endangered---Wrong!---Ring, ring, ring! on our crank telephone ... FIRE MISSION!
      I couldn't believe that we were supposed to get through all those little green bugs until someone told me to just hold my breath, pray and run as fast as I could which I did and unbelievably we all made it through without getting "stung" by those little green bugs.
      As soon as we returned fire, the little green bugs were gone as fast as they had appeared. This was my first time to experience these little green bugs and unfortunately wasn't the last time I was to see them through the end of my tour. The only difference was that I, like yourself, had become a little wiser.
      Take care, Bro. Great story that brought back somewhat humorous memories of what was a dangerous situation.

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