View Full Version : A Thank You From a Grateful Daughter.....

06-07-2012, 07:04
Originally Posted by 98G
Thanks for your kind words about my father. This excerpt is from an article written about my brother when he served in Vietnam. It runs in the family.

Terry Garlock’s Story

And then there’s the day I had my own bad landing. On December 17, 1969, I was part of an emergency standby team hanging around the ping-pong table waiting for the emergency buzzer. When it buzzed, a light fire team of two Cobras was scrambled, with John Synowsky and "Steve" Stevens in the lead ship, Ron Heffner and me in the wing ship. We were called to aid a convoy that had been ambushed by the enemy near Lai Khe in an area so replete with enemy tunnels it had been largely defoliated to make life harder for the enemy. But our enemy was resourceful, and could do amazing things with very little.

When we arrived at the ambush site we engaged the enemy in a firefight, our aircraft took a number of hits from small arms and automatic weapons. While pulling out of a rocket run, our tail rotor was shot off. We were in big trouble. John followed closely while we lost altitude, frantically instructing by radio to maintain airspeed to keep it flying. But we went down, spinning out of control.

Vietnam helicopter pilots know that none of this is extraordinary. Most of them were shot down at least once, some several times, although losing a tail rotor makes it more deadly. We went down fast and hard but we were lucky. At impact we rolled to the left, the rotors beat themselves to pieces without killing us and the aircraft didn't immediately burst into flames. If you’ve seen the movie Blackhawk Down” it was a lot like that but we spun down from much higher altitude.

My canopy door was pinned to the ground, trapping me in the cockpit with fuel leaking and the turbine still running. Ron and I were unconscious and I had a broken back with legs paralyzed, too weak when I woke up to break free on my own.

If John had gone by the book that day, he would have kept his aircraft flying to minimize the assets and number of people at risk. But John couldn't wait, his people were down, they were hurt and in extreme danger and so he broke the rules. He radioed for a medevac helicopter and gunship cover and immediately landed his Cobra nearby.

John and Steve hurried to help Ron and to break me free of the wreckage, then turned off fuel valves and shut down the turbine. They were risking their own lives since explosion was imminent and they were exposed to capture by an enemy with a record of torture-killing gunship pilots. Then when medevac arrived, instead of getting airborne ASAP for their own safety they stayed to help load Ron and me into the Dustoff helicopter on stretchers.

John Synowsky was a 21-year old captain, standing guard over his men in the middle of nowhere, in the open with no cover, just pistols for weapons and the enemy nearby - that's the last time I saw him in Vietnam.

After John’s and Steve’s commanding officer chewed them out for risking themselves and their aircraft, he awarded them the Soldier’s Medal for voluntary risk of life while saving lives.

I think of John and Steve as living examples of the virtues of loyalty and courage. What is noteworthy to me is not just that they risked their life for me, but that such actions were so common as we all struggled to keep one another alive.

I went through several hospitals in Vietnam, Japan and finally in the US, and as I recovered and resumed work John and Steve and all the others continued to fight the war every day, determined to live to the end of their 13 months and return home.

John Synowsky eventually married a lovely woman named Annie, raised two sons now in college and he’s finally doing what he always wanted, raising cattle and horses on a ranch in Texas just west of Ft Worth. I’ve managed to see John a few times over the years and renew my gratitude for his loyalty and courage saving my skin long ago. In December 2000 John met my wife Julie and Melanie my daughter adopted from China. She was just three years old then and as we were parting she said to John “Thanks for saving my daddy, Mr. John.” John will never forget that.......

Big Teddy