Carl E. Lorence
AA Udorn-Thani, Thailand - March - October 1961, H-34
93rd/121st Soc Trang, RVN - October 1962 - October 1963, H-21
205th ASHC, Phu Loi, RVN - April 1967 - April 1968 - CH-47
Pilots assembled at Don Muong and Ed Shore - Pilot and I - Co-Pilot led the group of CH-34's just acquired from a Marine MAG up to Udorn Thani. My first mission was to pick up the body of an American at a village well to the west of Udorn. Then it was flights all over Laos in support of the Meo's/Hmoung. I did lead the only air assault, loading up Royal Laos troops and inserting them at a road junction east of Luang Prabang with three sorties. We did not go back for an extraction and never heard if it was successful. The most interesting mission was to take Prince Boun Oum on a farewell visit to all the villages along the Mekong south of Vientiane. He had led raids across to Thailand against the Japanese during the war from these villages. There was great merriment and celebration and of course, sadness as this was a sign that the royal family was admitting defeat or something. His one curious act was to bonk all the village leaders on the head with a silver capped carved stick, a large thing that brought them to their knees.
Then there was Guccione from NJ shot down and had to E&E for a couple of weeks to safety. And Ed Shore, my roomy, going down and being captured and then released after negotiations. And then the three nation peace meetings in a small school house north of Vientiane where the NVA flew in on Russian helicopters but they were flown by NVA pilots. And the guards were NVA and sort of hostile. Did this mission a couple of times. Took some small arms hits south of Savanakhet and later, a few rounds in the blades but nothing more serious. Had to use a rope to start the right engine of a Laos C-47 with a rope on the prop and several of us pulled the prop through about 10 times and it finally fired. Used a slip on the rope to come off if the prop started spinning and it worked - never saw it before and never again since.
In Viet Nam it was a year of air assaults with RVN forces on the Delta in the old banana H-21. I, a Warrant Officer, did do duty as mission controller for several assaults, controlling from & flying an O-1 fixed wing. I asked to be relieved after I controlled the battle at Ap Bac where Col Vann committed American advisors to the battle while we were still classified as "advisors" and I thought a Commissioned Officer should take over these mission. responsibilities.
Again in Viet Nam, now in the 205th ASHC, a Chinook Company, as an IP & Safety Officer. We formed at Ft. Sill, OK and shipped the a/c to RVN and built the base at Phu Loi. We supported both the 25th & 9th Divisions on both flanks of the "parrots beak" with re-supply and the like including air assaults. I was then transferred to the 12th Combat Aviation Group as Assistant Safety Officer but had no Safety Officer for most of the tour. As Duty Officer the night of the big Tet offensive, I formed the staff EM into a defense and we inflicted serious damage on the RVN & others who attacked us from an open field called "Widow's Field" along the highway to Saigon. Daylight revealed that we had been significant in the battle with wounded and dead enemy littering the field. We won that battle. Significant that the battle started with an explosion of an ammo bunker just off our compound which produced a hundreds of yards ball of fire and the shock moved our HQ building about a foot off the base. That was scary.