Dear Mr. Rivera, I would like to extend my warmest and most heartfelt gratitude to you and the other members of that galiant gunship called "Guns"A"GOGO" without who's support there would have certainly been more casualties. This is day that has been etched into my soul for eternity as often as I remember it with trembling in my heart and tears in my eyes. Each pass that your gunship made was an act of mercy as it keeps the enemy from advancing on us and exposing those whom that would start running when they realized that your gunship was coming down on them making them better targets for us. I often thought about "GUNS"A"GOGO" and it's crew and how someday that I's like to personally thank each every one of you and pay tribute to those on board. It has been a long time since that nightmarish day on the battlefield whose memories were the source of many nightmares and lost sleep. Even as I type these few notes of thank you my body is trembling as my adrenaline is rushing throughout my body once more. Those of us that survived that battle would often sit around and talk about how bad ass your chopper was, the most awesome display of fire power I had ever seen in my life!
When you and the other members gather together at your reunion this coming June know that you have been toasted to MANY times in appreciation of your deeds. The area that this battle occured in was Trang Bang a continually bad AO throughout the war. I would have replied sooner but it took me a few days to gather my thoughts and composure to write this letter. I hope you can print it out and take it to your reunion to read to the other crew members.
The total number of casualaties for the day was 26 KIA's, 34 WIA's out of the ninety eight of us who went out on the operation that day. It is good to know that there are still men like you and the rest of your crew still exist. As long as I see the light, your memories will endure my brothers in arms for the deeds you all performed so valiantly.
Sincerely, Mike Moschkin of A1/27th Infantry "WOLFHOUNDS" 3/65-10/66
Around the first of December 1966, the unit was redesignated as 1st Aviation Detachment (Provisional), and attached to the 1st Cavalry Division's 228th ASHB at An Khe. Several days later, #145 finally arrived to join her two sister ships, and commonly became known as "CO$T of LIVING".
Unfortunately, on the 5th of May 1967, while participating in action near Bong Son, "CO$T of LIVING" was lost when one of her M-24A 20mm cannon forward mounting pins vibrated loose during a gun run, permitting the weapon to rotate upward and fire into the rotor system. The aircraft pitched nose-up and went straight to the ground. All eight crewmembers perished.
On May 5, 1967 I was flying the #3 ship (Yellow 3) in the lead formation on a CA (Combat Assault) into a valley south of Bong Son and LZ English. I don't remember specifically, but don't believe that was our first or only CA of the day. We had picked up the grunts and were on long approach to the LZ when, as I recall, the first Guns A Go-Go ship flew by us and started to fire on the LZ. It was my 1st time seeing Guns A Go-Go in action and it was an awe inspiring display of fire power. The first ship had completed its run and turned away and the second ship (Co$t of Living) commenced its run in. I looked away for a few seconds, to look for the specific LZ we were going to land in, when a radio call on the Co. net came in saying "Look at Go-Go".
When I looked up and saw Co$t of Living, the nose had already pitched up 45+ degrees and very briefly thereafter one of the front rotor blades flew off. They were at approximately the same altitude as us (1000-1500 ft). Once the aircraft's forward climb reached its peak the aircraft started to spin backwards, nose still pitched up, tail down. About halfway down, fire erupted underneath and in the middle of the aircraft and a second or two later it impacted. I don't recall there being a large explosion. I'm sure there was a lot of radio traffic immediately, but the only one that stands out in my mind is the lead Guns A Go-Go ship calling "Go-Go 3 this is Go-Go 1" , "Go-Go 3 this is Go-Go 1", "Go-Go 3, this is 1" and then someone called and said "Go-Go 1, 3 is down". We flew into the valley at least 1 more time that day but had to avoid the crash site as ammo was still cooking off. The sight of that ship going down and the thought of those men inside have stayed with me for almost 40 years now and will until the day I die. My sympathys are with the family and friends of the crew of "Co$t of Living".
Apr. 5, 2007 Post Script: I believe it was the following day, that enroute to a Pickup down by LZ Hammond, we had a 6 ship gaggle that rescued the survivors of a downed CH-47, WNW of Hammond. WO1 Wade Bishop, who I was flying with the day "Co$t of Living" went down, was flying the lead ship, and after spotting a column of black smoke off in the distance, made a heroic landing, chopping his way down thru some sizeable trees to search for survivors. He and another ship managed to find and Medevac, as I recall, 3 crewmembers. The others were KIA. Had we not witnessed the thick black smoke from the "Co$t of Living" accident, we might not have detoured so far to investigate
Sincerely, John J. LaDue
The two remaining ACH-47's continued to operate through the rest of the year, participating in numerous missions and proving valuble assets to field commanders. During the interm, long standing gun and grenade launcher maintenance problems were resolved as mission tactics and techniques were refined.
Then on February 22nd, 1968, while participating in the big push to recapture Hue during the Tet Offensive, "Birth Control" recieved some bad hits while pulling up from a gun-run, basically because the ceiling was so low that day due to weather, and had to auto-rotate into the rice paddies about 600 meters NW of the Citadel walls. "Easy Money" made several attempts to land, but waved off at the last second because the incomming was so intense, especially from some thatched huts just off the NW corner of the Citadel! Finally "Easy Money" landed, but came in hot and wound up between "Birth Control" and the oncoming enemy. The crew laid down supressive fire while the downed crewmembers began making their way over. Fire from the huts quickly made that an impossible task, but about that time, two "Hogs" from the 1/9th showed up and they were ready for a FIGHT! While one covered, the other flew right up in front of those huts and came to a hover about 20ft off the ground, unleashing a full salvo of 2.75 FFAR's (76 rockets) into the structures! This got things quite enough for the remainding crewmembers to board "Easy Money". As she was struggling to get airborne from all the extra weight, a WP round came in near the back of the ship, hit one of the structures, and fell UNDER the chest protector of one of the crewmembers! He started screaming and flopping around, prompting the others to think he was hit, so they jumped on him to keep him from falling out the back of the helicopter. All he was trying to do was get that burning phosphorus out of his clothes, but the harder he struggled to do so, the tighter all the other crewmembers held on! He got burned bad enough to get a Purple Heart, but survived, and as it turned out, was the only one injured during the events of that day! "Easy Money" made it safely out and evaded to Camp Evans. Before an aircraft recovery could be attempted, the report came in that the NVA had walked mortars up to "Birth Control", completely destroying her where she sat. Upon recieving the news, crewmember Walt Lacy responded: "She went out proud."
Since the Army would not allow the ACH-47 to operate alone, plus the fact that lift helicopters were badly needed in the field, the program was cancelled, and "Easy Money" was transferred back to Vung Tau, where she served as a maintenance trainer with the in country Boeing Facility until the end of the war.