Yankee Papa 13

These photographs are from the cover story from the April 16, 1965, issue of LIFE magazine. It shows pictures from the March 31, 1965, helicopter mission near Da Nang, Vietnam.

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“The Vietcong dug in along the tree line, were just waiting for us to come into the landing zone,” Burrows reported. “We were all like sitting ducks and their raking crossfire was murderous. Over the intercom system one pilot radioed Colonel Ewers, who was in the lead ship: ‘Colonel! We’re being hit.’ Back came the reply: ‘We’re all being hit. If your plane is flyable, press on.’

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“We did,” Burrows continued, “hurrying back to a pickup point for another load of troops. On our next approach to the landing zone, our pilot, Capt. Peter Vogel, spotted Yankee Papa 3 down on the ground. Its engine was still on and the rotors turning, but the ship was obviously in trouble. ‘Why don’t they lift off?’ Vogel muttered over the intercom. Then he set down our ship nearby to see what the trouble was

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Hoilien was pouring machine-gun fire at a second V.C. gun position at the tree line to our left. Bullet holes had ripped both left and right of his seat. The plexiglass had been shot out of the cockpit and one V.C. bullet had nicked our pilot’s neck. Our radio and instruments were out of commission. We climbed and climbed fast the hell out of there. Hoilien was still firing gunbursts at the tree line.

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Not until YP13 pulled away and out of range of enemy fire were Farley and Hoilien able to leave their guns and give medical attention to the two wounded men from YP3. The co-pilot, 1st Lt. James Magel, was in bad shape. When Farley and Hoilien eased off his flak vest, they exposed a major wound just below his armpit. “Magel’s face registered pain,” Burrows reported, “and his lips moved slightly. But if he said anything it was drowned out by the noise of the copter. He looked pale and I wondered how long he could hold on. Farley began bandaging Magel’s wound. The wind from the doorway kept whipping the bandages across his face. Then blood started to come from his nose and mouth and a glazed look came into his eyes. Farley tried mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, but Magel was dead. Nobody said a word.

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