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Old 03-01-2004, 18:01   #1
Ambush Master
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One-Zero School Brightlight !! Page 1 of 4

Following is an actual AAR from a Brightlight Mission in RVN. This mission was manned with 5 students (myself included) from the MACV SOG Recon Teamleaders School (One Zero School) and 3 Instructors. This is the REAL DEAL FOLKS you can find the names that I left in the clear on "The Wall"(mine being the exception):


EYEWITNESS STATEMENT BY MSG ROBERT N. T., XXX-XX-XXXX, OF EVENTS OF 22 JANUARY 1971


On the 22 of Jan 71 at approx 0945 we were notified that a LOH helicopter was down and help was needed to secure the helicopter. We asked for volunteers to go with us on this mission. I started out with the lead helicopter with CPT S., SFC M., SSG H. and SGT Bennett aboard with me. The second helicopter behind us carried MSG G., SSG Lovelace, SGT Opperman, and SGT Celano. We went into the LZ first, which was a small troop ladder LZ, about 20 meters from the crashed LOH. I talked the pilot down as low as safely possible before dropping the troop ladders and they landed with 4 to 5 rungs on the ground. SFC M., CPT S., SSG H. and SGT Bennett quickly went down the ladders to the ground, I pulled the ladders back up into the helicopter before telling the pilot to move out as the area was such that I was afraid the dangling ladders would endanger the helicopter in trying to get out. I remained on board for this reason as I had direct communications with the pilot. As soon as we were safely out, the C&C ship with CPT M. aboard directed the second ship into the LZ. The pilot seemed to have trouble getting into the small LZ, as he was hovering too high for too long. The people on board had dropped the troop ladders and had climbed down to the end of them but were still too high to get off. About this time we heard over our radio that they were under fire and we saw the Slick move to the right and crash. SFC M. had moved towards the crash site when the second helicopter started taking fire and was not sure it had crashed until we told him by radio. We seemed to be the only one in the air that SFC M. could make commo with, so we stayed in the area as long as we had fuel. During this time SFC M. and the people with him had located two of the crew in the crashed LOH and moved them to the LZ for extraction. Both were found dead. They located the third member of the LOH in the crash and he was also dead. They then moved to the crashed Huey, finding the pilot dead, and the other three crew members alive but badly in need of medical attention. They did all they could for them while we got Dustoff ships to extract these people first. MSG G. was found alive but with broken ribs or other possible chest injuries. As they extracted the wounded, the team came under fire by B-40 rockets which hit the crashed Huey, seriously wounding CPT S., and also hitting SFC M. in the arm and body with small pieces of fragments. They extracted CPT S. on the next Dustoff. They then moved the bodies of SSG Lovelace, SGT Opperman, and SGT Celano to where they could be moved out by Dustoff ships. All three were found dead with the Huey crash. About this time the Reaction Force sent in by the 25th Division finally arrived at the crash site. SFC M. requested that we extract him, SSG H. and SGT Bennett by Stabo rig as they were too tired to walk out to a secure area to be taken out. We safely extracted them from the crash site.

Robert N. T.
MSG, XXX-XX-XXXX
Det B-53, 5th SFGA

EYEWITNESS STATEMENT BY CPT JAMES P. M., XXX-XX-XXXX, OF EVENTS OF
22 JANUARY 1971



On 22 January 1971 I was returning from an operation in my command and control helicopter when a call for assistance from the tower requested my helicopter to try and help a downed Light Observation Helicopter. Assistance in securing the chopper was also requested. I flew to the area and saw the downed LOH burning a few kilometers from the airstrip. I requested use of a team and assets from B-53. I left the area to refuel and returned to B-53 to brief the team leader. After briefing Master Sergeant G. I returned to the downed LOH. About 5 minutes later 2 UH 1H's with the teams on board arrived in the area. The first helicopter was inserted and the team went down the ladders with no problem. The second ship came in, dropped it's ladders and 4 men started descending. At this time the ship received small arms fire. The ship lifted slightly and then nosed into the ground. I then requested another team to standby. They were not used because a company was inserted 500 meters away. A command and con-trol from the ground assumed control. After contacting SFC M. on the ground, and briefing the new command and control on the situation, I re-turned to B-53.



James P. M.
CPT, Infantry
Det B-53, 5th SF Gp (Abn), 1st SF
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Old 03-01-2004, 18:03   #2
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Page 2

EYEWITNESS STATEMENT BY SGT MARTIN T. BENNETT, XXX-XX-XXXX, OF EVENTS OF
22 JANUARY 1971.

ON 22 Jan 71 at approx 0900 hours MSG G. came up to our class and asked for volunteers to go out and secure a downed helicopter. Captain S., SSG H., SGT Opperman, SGT Celano, and SGT Bennett offered our assistance. The first chopper load consisted of SFC M., CPT S., SSG H., and SGT Bennett. The second chopper had MSG G., SSG Lovelace, SGT Opperman, and SGT Celano. The first chopper went into the LZ, hovered, dropped the ladders and we went down and set up security. The second chopper came in, hovered, for approx 5 minutes and then took fire from approx 3 AKs. The chopper swerved to the right and it's main rotor struck a tree. Somewhere between the time that the shooting started and the chopper hit the tree, MSG G. jumped from the ladder. After the chopper hit the tree, I saw it Climb out of control and then spin. I really didn't think that it had gone down, even though I could hear the whine of the engine after it had crashed, there was just too much happening. When the ground fire started SFC M. pulled us all together to tighten our security and at the same time we weren't sure where the LOH was. He got an azimuth from one of the choppers overhead and we started moving. CPT S. started out on point with me behind him then SFC M., MSG G. and last SSG H.. Somewhere between where we started and the LOH, I ended up as point. It was about 25 to 35 meters. We crawled up to within about 10 meters of the LOH, which was burning, and I saw a bunker. I saw one of the pilots and made my way up to him to see if he was alive, he wasn't. At this time I saw the other pilot piled up in the door of a bunker. It looked as though the two had been thrown from the aircraft upon impact due to the fact that the instrument panel and other parts of the aircraft were between the wreckage and where I found the pilots. The second pilot was also dead. CPT S. and myself, upon command from SFC M., proceeded to drag the bodies back to the LZ. When we got them to the LZ we tied them together and were awaiting a dustoff. When the dustoff arrived, it hovered about 30 meters from our, position and started lowering the rescue seat. We were popping a signal panel and the door gunner saw us, but they wouldn't come to our position. It was at this time that we were told that the second chopper had gone down. SFC M. told us to forget the bodies and move out in the direction of the dustoff. I again took up the point position when I came up on the bunker that I had found before I stopped and asked SFC M. what I should do. He said just run across the top of it, so I took off. We ran across another bunker about 10 to 15 meters from the first and we crossed it in the same manner. Right after we got across this second bunker and broke out of the brush we saw the downed Huey. There was a dustoff medic coming down to it and when we got up to the chopper I saw SGT Celano still entangled in the ladder. I hesitated and SFC M. hollered at me to get around to the other side of the chopper and set up security. When I got around to the other side I found SGT Opperman's body like Celano's, still entangled in the ladder. As near as I could figure it, neither of them really knew or thought that it was going to crash, and just held on and rode it into the ground.
I told SFC M. that I had found another body and he said not to worry
about it until we got the wounded medevaced. SFC M.,
CPT S. and MSG G. were on the right side of the chopper giving assistance to the medic, keeping commo going, and keeping up security while SSG H. and myself were on the left side for security. After the wounded had been gotten out SFC M. came over to me and said "Let's go find Lovelace, he's not here." We moved about 30 meters to the rear of the chopper and found his body under a bunch of brush. We then drug him over to the chopper and put all of the bodies together in a group. I went back to security and a short time later SFC M. called me over to have me go check out a bunker, off about 20 to 25 meters that looked like it had a man on top of it. I had seen this same bunker from my position when we were at the LOH and I knew that what he thought was a man was a big sheet of canvas on top of a bunker and it had rolled up due to the wash from the choppers. SFC M. accepted this and the medic mentioned that we should get the radios out of the chopper and I was behind him and about 10 meters from SFC M. when a terrific explosion went off between SFC M. and myself. It knocked me off my feet and for a distance of about 6 to 10 feet off into the underbrush. When I hit the ground I started crawling towards SSG H. and the medic. SFC M. was hollering get away and then a second explosion went off in approx the same area. At this time I thought it was a B-40 and that SFC M. and everyone on his side of the ship was dead. I didn't hear him hollering and I could just barely hear anything anyway. I got to SSG H. and the medic and we lay there thinking that everyone else was dead and there we were without any commo. We were waving at the gunships which were flying at about tree top level trying to communicate, but it didn't do any good. Finally I decided that I should make my way to the other side of the chopper with SSG H. covering me and try to retrieve the radio. At about the time I got up even with the nose of the chopper I saw some movement from the bushes and it was SFC M.. I called out to him and he answered and I called to H. and the medic to come on when I moved to where SFC M., MSG G. and CPT S. were I saw that CPT S. had been injured by the blasts. The medic went to work immediately and we moved away from the chopper over to where we had left the LOH pilots on our LZ. We were there for about five minutes before the reinforcements arrived and when they did we just fell back to the center of their perimeter and proceeded to move all of the bodies to the LZ. SFC M., SSG H. and myself were finally extracted after being on the ground for seven hours.



Martin T. Bennett
SGT, XXX-XX-XXXX


EYEWITNESS STATEMENT BY SFC ALTON E. M., XXX-XX-XXXX, OF EVENTS OF
22 JANUARY 1971



At approximately 0945 hrs 22 January 1971, CPT S., SGT Bennett, SSG H., and myself were dispatched by helicopter to the site of a downed LOH to secure the area. Upon arriving at the site of the downed LOH we dropped the ladders and climbed down. We set up security on the LZ so the second chopper came in and dropped their ladders and 4 people climbed down. This chopper was hovering too high and the people who had climbed out on the ladders were approximately 30 feet off the ground. At this time the chopper started receiving fire from the ground and it looked to me as though the chopper pulled pitch and started to fly away. About the time the chopper started to move away, one of the four men on the ladder dropped off. I did not know at this time that the pilot had been hit and that the chopper crashed. We then moved off the LZ and headed for the downed LOH. Upon finding the LOH we realized that we were in a base camp of some type. We found bunkers, food, clothing, water containers and numerous other items throughout the area. We also found two bodies from the LOH. We secured the bodies and their equipment and moved back to the LZ for extraction. Upon reaching the LZ we were told that the second chopper had also crashed a short distance away. I told the other people to move to the site of the second chopper. We had to move back across the bunker complex to reach the crash site. When we got there, I positioned the people around the crashed helicopter and started looking for the people. We found the bodies of the pilot and two of the men who were on the ladder when the chopper crashed. I got SGT Bennett and we started looking for the third man who was on the ladder. We found him dead about 30 meters from the crash. The other three crew members and MSG G., the one who jumped from the ladder, were alive but in need of immediate medical attention. We gave what attention we could and called for a Dustoff to extract them. About this time two explosions occured near the crashed chopper. CPT S. was wounded as a result of these explosions. The Dustoff came in and we began extracting the wounded. It took several Dustoff helicopters to get all the wounded and dead out. About this time a Reaction Company from the 25th Infantry Division arrived at the scene. They secured the area and we were extracted and taken back to CLT.



Alton E. M.
SFC, XXX-XX-XXXX
Det B-53, 5th SFGA
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Old 03-01-2004, 18:06   #3
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Page 3

EYEWITNESS STATEMENT BY SSG JOSEPH B. H., XXX-XX-XXXX, OF EVENTS OF 22 JANUARY 1971.


On 22 Jan 71 at approx 0900 hours, MSG G. came up to our class and asked for volunteers to go out and secure a downed LOH chopper. Captain S., SGT Bennett, SGT Opperman, SGT Celano and myself, SSG H., offered our assistance. The first chopper load consisted of SFC M., Captain S., SGT Bennett, SSG H.. The second chopper had MSG G., SSG Lovelace, SGT Opperman and SGT Celano. The first chopper went into the LZ hovered, dropped the ladders and we went down and set up security. The second chopper came in hovered, dropped the ladders and they didn't reach the ground. Everybody was on the ladder but it was not low enough to get off so it hovered for approx 5 minutes and then took fire from approx 3 AKs. So then I opened up in the direction that the fire came from, then the chopper swerved to the right and it's main rotor struck a tree and that's when I started looking away from the chopper again. After about 2 minutes SFC M. called us in closer for more security and at that time I saw MSG G.. He had jumped off the ladders when the chopper was fired at. We weren't sure where the LOH was. SFC M. got an azimuth from one of the choppers overhead and we started moving. Captain S. started out as point with SGT Bennett behind him, then SFC M., MSG G., and myself. The LOH was about 25 to 30 meters from the LZ, so we started crawling up to within about 10 meters of the LOH which was burning, and saw one of the pilots. He was dead. About 4 meters away we saw one more body. It looked as though the two had been thrown from the aircraft upon impact, due to the fact that the instrument panel and other parts of the chopper were among the wreckage. Captain S. and Bennett upon command from SFC M., proceeded to drag the bodies back to the LZ. When we got them to the LZ we tied them together and were awaiting a dustoff. When the dustoff arrived it hovered about 30 meters from our position and started lowering the rescue seat, we were popping a signal panel when the door gunner saw us, but they didn't come to our position. At this time we were told that the second chopper had gone down, SFC Monrou told us to forget the bodies and move out in the direction of the dustoff. Bennett took up the point position at this time.
When we came upon the bunker that Bennett found, he stopped and asked SFC M. what he should do. He said just go across the top of it, so he took off. We ran across another bunker about 10 to 15 meters from the first and we couldn't cross it the same way. Right after we crossed the second bunker, we broke out of the brush we saw the downed chopper, there was a dustoff medic coming down to it and there were approx 3 people sitting
outside of it wounded. We moved in and when we got up to the chopper I saw SGT Celano still entangled in the ladder, then I went around the chopper to set up security. At this time we found one more bunker but all I was concerned with was security. SFC M. told us to set up the M-60 MG so I did. I was on security off on the left side of the chopper about 15 minutes where M. and Captain S. and Bennett were getting the bodies together. At this time there was an explosion so I hit the ground
and then the second explosion went off in the same area. I thought it was a B-40 and that SFC M. and everyone on the other side of the ship were dead. I didn't hear anyone hollering and could just barely hear anyway. SGT Bennett came up to me and the medic and we lay there thinking that everyone else was dead and there we were without any commo. We were waving at gunships which were flying at about treetop level trying to communicate but it didn't do any good. Finally we decided that we should make our way to the other side of the chopper to retrieve the radio, at about this time we got up even with the nose of the chopper we saw some movement from the bushes and it was SCF M.. We called out to him and he answered. When we got up to SFC M., MSG G. and Captain S., we saw that Captain S. had been injured by the blast. The medic went to work immediately and we moved away from the chopper area to where we had left the two dead LOH Pilots on our LZ. We got dustoff in and MSG G. and Captain S. were evaced. We were there for about five minutes before the reinforcements arrived and when they did we just fell back to the center of the perimeter and proceeded to move all of the bodies to the LZ. SFC M., SGT Bennett, and myself were finally extracted after being on the ground for seven hours.



JOSEPH B. H.
SSG, XXX-XX-XXXX
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Old 03-01-2004, 18:07   #4
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EYEWITNESS STATEMENT BY MSG VERLIN R. G., XXX-XX-XXXX, OF EVENTS OF
22 JANUARY 1971



On 22 Jan 71 at approx 0900 hours, I was informed that a LOH was down in the Tbai AO, and as the reaction force team leader, I was to prepare for a Brightlight team insertion on the downed helicopter. At that time, both indigenous Brightlight teams were being utilized on another mission. One team was on security of the DZ during an airborne training operation, the second team on standby for a PW capture team that had already been inserted into our AO. I advised the S3 of this situation and was given permission to form an emergency Brightlight team from combat experienced US Cadre and RT students. This I did by asking CPT S., and the RT students, for volunteers. CPT S., SGT Bennett, SSG H., SGT Celano, SGT Opperman, immediately volunteered when told of the situation and were ready within three minutes after volunteering. SFC M., SSG Lovelace, and myself were from the Cadre. I assigned SFC M. to lead one team and one chopper, and I took charge of the other team. The CO gave us a check over and all the information that was available, then gave us the lift off sign. We arrived at the downed LOH site within approximately four minutes. SFC M. made his insertion into an LZ that was within thirty-five meters of the downed LOH. SFC M. and his team inserted into the LZ by ladder with no difficulty. My chopper approached the LZ and lowered down toward the LZ. The chopper pilot was taking entirely too much time in descending. I immediately gave him the signal to drop down thirty five feet and to move over to his left approximately five meters. He started his descent and then turned his chopper 180 degrees. His descent was very slow. SSG Lovelace and I then kicked our ladders overboard. The pilot was descending slowly as we went over the side and down the ladders to the end rungs. SSG Lovelace and SGT Celano were on the left ladder while SGT Opperman and I were on the right ladder. The pilot lowered us to within approximately 10 feet off the ground, right above a small tree. At this time I gave the signal to SSG Lovelace for he and I to jump because we were taking too much time hovering over the LZ and the pilot was not lowering the chopper down. Also we had only four men on the ground at the time. At approximately the same instant I prepared to jump, three AK 47s opened up from the ground on us. One AK was shooting at us hanging on the ladders, while one was shooting at the chopper, and one was shooting at the tail rotor. The pilot was shot and the chopper started upward and to the right. I immediately jumped from the ladder, as we were about thirty to thirty five feet in the air at that time. SSG Lovelace and the others did not jump. Just as I was departing the ladder one AK round hit one of the ladder rungs that I was on, and another creased the left side of my chest. On hitting the ground, a very hard pain hit me in my left side. I knew I had been hurt but how bad I didn't know. I was interested only in getting to the other four men on the ground. After crawling over to the other four men already on the ground, I let SFC M. know that I had been hurt and that he was to take over the radio because it was difficult for me to speak. I could still hear the turbine whine of the chopper engine that had crashed. I also heard automatic fire, then it stopped.
I told M. to get the men together and get going toward the downed chopper that I had come in on. This he did and he had only gone approximately twenty to twenty five meters when he came up on the downed LOH chopper and four large bunkers. Bennett spotted two pilots from the LOH and proceeded to check to see if they were alive or dead. Both were dead. M. told him to drag the bodies back to the LZ and tie them together for an extraction along with the M-60 machinegun from the LOH. We then proceeded over the top of the bunkers after looking around for the third LOH member. But we did not see him, as he had burned up in the LOH. At that time the LOH ammo started exploding, preventing a search. We backed off quickly and proceeded toward the downed Huey chopper. During this search I had checked my emergency radio and found it was inoperative. It had been damaged in my fall. I then used the PRC-25 while M. was supervising the removal of the bodies from the LOH. It was then that we were given approximately direction to the huey. Actually we were only about twenty meters away but the jungle floor was very dense with undergrowth. We then proceeded to the downed Huey and found a medic being lowered into the crash site. I told M. to form security around the Huey and start to work on the wounded. This was done and the wounded were evacuated out and then we started on the dead. At this time a B-40 rocket hit among us and it contained CS. We started to move away from the area when another B-40 rocket hit among us and wounded three of us, of which CPT S. was hit the most seriously. M. and I received minor wounds. Prior to this all, the dead and weapons had been assembled and ready to be evaced out when the rockets came in. At this time we started to move out of the immediate area and back to the LZ to extract the two bodies from the LOH and get CPT S. out. We made it back to the LZ and called for the Dustoff. It came in and M. asked me to go out too, because I was having difficulty in breathing and moving. He also stated that the link up forces were just outside our perimeter. Cpt S. and I were extracted to the 93rd Medical Evacuation Hospital at Long Binh. In closing my statement I would like to say that all the men that were with me performed their job under the most difficult situation like hard core Special Forces men should. They strictly volunteered for the mission, well knowing their chances. Some lost their lives in trying to save others. Lets hope that these men are not forgotten so soon. I know we won't forget them.


VERLIN R. G.
MSG, XXX-XX-XXXX
Det SGM, Det B-53
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Old 07-29-2004, 12:04   #5
TerribleTobyt
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Martin-

Good onya.

Later.

Toby
1-2, RT California
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Old 07-31-2004, 19:33   #6
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Just a note. Opperman had been assigned to CCN and was sharing my hooch. I went on a mission, he went to 1-0 school and of course didn't return. I remember him as a bright, friendly guy and I was shocked by the fact of his death while at the school.
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Old 07-31-2004, 19:34   #7
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Forgot to add, thanks for the detailed report Ambush Master very interesting read.
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