More from other Lancers

It was sunny and beautiful that day we departed
It was Ft Carson, which is where we started

We flew through that day and throughout the night
Da Nang Air Base would be our next sun light

Then in to a 130 all strapped to the floor
Off to Camp Eagle, my ass is sure sore

The Chinook we then rode rattled and whined
By now our bodies were numb, but not so the mind

The thought were racing for what was in store
There was no running from this, the Viet Nam War

This trip to Evans, as boys we started
But by the Grace of God
It was as Lancers, and men, we departed

Bill G.
Lancer 655, CE

During the 1971 invasion into North Vietnamese strongholds in Laos, the Lancers continued their heroic performance during the most intense combat in the Vietnam War. As a Lancer pilot in that campaign I would like to relay just one moment in one day of Operation Lam Son 719 and honor two particular Lancer crews. Due to continuous battle damage of American air power supporting South Vietnamese troops, helicopters as well as their pilots and crew gunners were becoming scarce and right seat pilots were quickly promoted to Aircraft Commanders. CW2 Robert Schnedler and myself had only weeks before been promoted to AC and flew
together that day in the second aircraft when two Lancer helicopters were assigned to resupply a South Vietnamese unit in a desperate situation. As was the case frequently in that campaign there weren't enough flyable gunships available and this mission of desperation required the Lancer aircraft to accomplish it without minimum protection into a beleaguered South Vietnamese Army position on the verge of being overrun by an overwhelming enemy force. CW2 Glenn Marr, the senior
Aircraft Commander on the mission, piloted the lead aircraft and flew his cargo of badly needed ammunition to the South Vietnamese almost depleted of means to defend themselves. CW2 Marr's aircraft was in clear view of the enemy and was hit repeatedly by enemy fire but he steadfastly held the aircraft in position until all the cargo was out of the aircraft into the hands of the desperate South Vietnamese. He flew his crippled aircraft away from the deadly landing zone for a short
distance before he was forced to put it on the ground near an abandoned South Vietnamese position; a small circular berm line in the open from which the same troops he had just resupplied had deserted due to overwhelming enemy mortar fire. As was the case in practically all such situations the second aircraft into the LZ would likely receive even more intense and accurate fire from the enemy. CW2 Marr's surprise landing resulted in the enemies peaked awareness of another approaching aircraft. Mortars began exploding onto the South Vietnamese position and
enemy fire greatly intensified. The crew of chalk two knew the enemy had enough time now to load and aim RPG and heavier caliber machine guns on the spot obvious to everyone this helicopter would very soon fly to and pause to unload their cargo of sandbags and barbed wire. Any approach pattern to the LZ was unobstructed from enemy view and would put chalk
two low and slow directly over the enemy encircling the South
Vietnamese. Ten seconds from the South Vietnamese position, chalk two was receiving direct hits from from enemy troops in the open that were moving toward the South Vietnamese position. Precise fire from chalk two's gunners was the only means they had to protect themselves and this Lancer crew fired effectively on enemy near and under the aircraft. There was little doubt chalk two would be shot down before reaching the South Vietnamese and worst could very well crash violently into their
position. At that moment chalk two heard the mayday call from CW2 Marr that he was going down. All desperate factors considered, chalk two broke off their fatal approach to find and protect their Lancer brothers only five hundred yards away. CW2 Marr's downed aircraft was quickly spotted and chalk two landed attempting to remove both crews from a seemingly inescapable situation. Under enemy 51 caliber anti-aircraft fire, chalk two, with all Lancers aboard, avoided being shot down and escaped for all to fly again that same day back into Laos.

As often was the case, Lancer pilots had to quickly analyze incredible risk and take action to save the most and lose the fewest. That day CW2 Marr and CW2 Schnedler took calculated risks and through skill and bravery gave the desperate South Vietnamese a chance of survival. It is my view that these Lancer pilots and their crews at that moment on that day in the early months of 1971 again defined the typical character and courage of all Lancers.

John Donaldson
Lancer 14