Monday, December 24, 2012

1st helicopter rescue

1st Helicopter rescue

Today in aviation history: April 25-26, 1944- First AAF helicopter combat rescue. Lt. Carter Harman of the 1st Air Commando Group (standing in photo), flying a ...Sikorsky YR–4 helicopter, rescued four men from the Burmese jungle in the first Army Air Forces combat rescue by helicopter. In late April 1944, a 1st Air Commando light plane crash landed deep behind Japanese lines in Burma with three wounded British soldiers aboard. Lt. Harman flew his helicopter from his base in India on a circuitous 500 mile route to avoid the Japanese. He had to stop for fuel every 100 miles at landing zones torn out of the Burma jungles and controlled by friendly ground commandos.

He then flew to a clearing near the crash site to pick up the first wounded British soldier and took him to an emergency strip prepared by British commandos on a sand-bar 10 miles away. He went back and picked up the second wounded soldier, but an overheated engine forced him to remain at the sandbar overnight. He went back the next morning to get the third wounded soldier and then went back again and got the L-IB pilot.

a little history of the Huey

"Whatever can be said about the Huey, double it for the H-34"
Duane Keele, former USMC and Air America H-34 pilot.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Charlie has a sister in Texas

Dawg blog reader Doyle Eldridge posted these pictures on the popasmoke facebook page
of an H-34 at the gate of NAS JRB near Ft. Worth, Texas. Re-posted with his permission.    
 Thanks Doyle.

YZ 77        Buno  148764

So, anybody in the South who needs an H-34 fix, you don't have to
come all the way up to Northern Idaho to see  dawg Charlie
Of course Chalie  is always open to having visitors.
Just call Bill Collier  208-597-0622 if you are coming up this way.
Free tours.  Of course donations always accepted.

Former crew chief John Gordon says,   "I crewed in YZ 77 at Qui Nhon in "65", but it wasn't this one."
What is  JRB, anyway, Doyle?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Charlie, the social butterfly

H-34 Charlie had a very busy schedule over Veteran's day week-end.

First off, USMC veteran John Pugh towed the old beastie from her nest to Oak street in downtown Sandpoint, so that she was positioned right outside the windows of one of our better restaurants in town called TANGO.  Inside, the event was the celebration for the 237th birthday of the Marine Corps, hosted by Marine Corps League detachment #1110 of Sandpoint, Commandant Robert Rutherford presiding.  It was a great occasion.  We expected 53 guests, and ended up with 65.  The cook and her crew had to do some mighty scrambling to come up with food to feed the extra 12 people, but she did a grand job.The food was excellent. The League garnered four new members from this event.

Here is John Pugh pulling Charlie out of the NorthWest auto body storage yard on
GN road out behind the Sandpoint airport.
In the background holding the gate is grandson Calvin Aerni, 16 who volunteered to help out.

Blatant commercial advertisement here:
Anybody in the Sandpoint area needing any auto body work, please consider using Northwest Auto Body.  My wife and I have both used this shop and can say from personal experience that they do excellent work.  Mel and his crew also do windshield chip repair that will save your windshield if caught in time.
Norhtwest is kind to allow us to store Charlie in their storage yard, at least for the winter.

Northwest Auto Body
1305 Michigan St.

Charlie sits patiently outside TANGO restaurant while 56 Marines and guests celebrate the USMC birthday party. The weather earlier in the morning had been down to 21 degrees with about ten knots of wind.  There was a bite in the air.  No complaints from this old workhorse.

As soon as the USMC birthday function was completed, John again towed Charlie two blocks down Oak street to a position in front of Union Bank, so she could be seen from the Panida theater, where the film  "Life After Service" by Mike Strain of  My Legacy Videos  was having its world premier showing.
Several local veterans were  featured in this 96 minute video speaking about how veterans re-adapted to civilian life after traumatic combat...or NOT in some cases.  This blogger was one of the featured, see this snippet from "LIFE AFTER SERVICE":

(PLEASE feel free to pass this snippet on to anyone.  It would be wonderful if
any vet might see himself in this situation and go on to get some help for PTSD.)

Charlie sits in front of Union Bank, a short block from the theater.  No one
went over to visit with her after the film as it was dark and cold out there.
John Pugh once again volunteered to tow Charlie a few blocks to the VFW hall where she spent the night at the edge of the VFW parking lot..  John had trouble seeing where he was going, and we have decided that from now on we will avoid night towing if at all possible.  We very nearly bought the neighbor's fence putting the helicopter into this third position.
Sunday we had an ALL-Veterans pot luck at the VFW hall.  Food, as always with pot lucks, was excellent and varied, and we had the pleasure of hearing youngsters read their winning essays from the VFW  "Patriot's Pen"  writing contest.  Remarkably, most of the winners were home schooled.

Right after the pot luck dinner, (and before it got dark) Sunday pm, Russ Fankell became the Charlie tow truck.  He pulled the helicopter a few blocks down Division Street to the parking lot at the Sandpoint High School for Monday's event.  Every year this school has the entire student body attend an assembly to honor veterans.  At 0900 Monday morning a bunch of veterans came to the school library where they were given coffee, tea and cookies, and then escorted into the gym by some of the most absolutely cute, most charming, erudite and well spoken young women in the country.  It was a great pleasure to speak with them and be escorted into the gym by these beauties.

Lori and Molly, two Sandpoint H.S. cuties!

As you can plainly see, it snowed a bit overnight.
Monday after school, Russ Fankell once again towed Charlie back to her nest on GN road.
Thank you John Pugh and Russ Fankell for your towing services, the use of your trucks and the generosity of you time for helping Charlie make these events.

A few months ago I had approached the police chief and asked him if we needed to notify the police of this kind of activity, or if we should have any special permits or any other beaurocratic bother. At the time Chief Lockwood said, "No, just do it."   Chief Lockwood has since retired and we got a new chief of police, so I once again went to the new chief with the same question.   Same answer,  "Just do it."

Thank you Sandpoint.

Friday, October 26, 2012

a bit of aviation humor

here are some bits of humor forwaded to me by former U.S. Navy diver terry Fowler:

They are cold, steely-eyed, weapons systems managers who kill bad people and break
things. However, they can also be very charming and personable. The average
pilot, despite sometimes having a swaggering exterior, is very much
capable of such feelings as love, affection, intimacy and caring. These
feelings generally just don't involve anyone else.
The ideal pilot is the perfect blend of discipline and aggressiveness.
The medical profession is the natural enemy of the aviation profession.
It's not that all pilots are good-looking. It's just that
good-looking people seem more capable of flying.
BUT IT WAS A LONG TIME AGO..............

feedback from previous post

After the previous post mentioning medevacs, dawg blog reader Dave Blanton responded with this:

"I was medevaced on a H-34 on 14 March 68 south of Danang several miles to NSA Danang hospital near MAG 16. just about 1800 hours, about dusk."  Dave

(That 1800 is 6:00 pm for you civilians out there.)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

a nice gift for "Charlie"

Complete Viet Cong uniform, gift from former marine Glen Barton
At the veterans Standown last June  Charlie and crew were asked by  Marine Corps League
member and  Vietnam veteran Glen Barton
if we would be interested in accepting a full and complete Viet Cong uniform. 
How could we refuse?

(For those who may not know, the Viet Cong  {V.C.} were the communist insurgents in Viet Nam
intent on taking over the country and converting it to communism. The ENEMY!)
Above is an overall shot of the entire uniform laid out on a blanket.

This is the dreaded "black pajamas" that demarked the Viet Cong.
Unfortunately for us, it was also the every day uniform of most of the people in Viet Nam.
It was always really hard to tell the enemy from the bad guys!
The pajamas are two piece, very light cotton, loose-fitting, and very cheap to produce.

A typical Viet Cong khaki hat and checkered scarf.

The Viet Cong ammo pouch.  Too bad, we did not get any ammunition with it, nor did we get the enemy's weapon, the AK-47 Kalashnikov.  Anybody got one you would like to donate to the cause?
We'll take it!  Working or not.


Rice tube.
This is how the enemy carried his rations when he was on the move. It is nothing more than a cloth tube with tie strings on both ends.  The VC carried it around his neck full of rice, and that was his mainstay.  I don't know how long he could subsist on a tube of rice, but I'd bet he could last for
a week or more on one tube of plain rice only.

back pack

Tennis shoes type boots. 
All of these items are brand new, never used at all.  We can see why the boots were never used, they are the VC equivalent of size 18!  Huge.
Glen said he collected this stuff piecemeal on ebay and other Internet sites,
but did not volunteer a whole lot more information.

When Glen delivered the VC uniform a few days later, he also brought us a bonus.  Since we are adult men, we cannot call it a doll, so this is called an "action figure."  Someone produced this action figure of a Viet Cong, in full uniform. It very well matched our full uniform except the doll has "Ho Chi Mihn" sandals.  These were usually made out of old tires, just like the huaraches of Mexico.

Viet Cong action figure in full uniform.
Sinister looking guy!

How would you like to meet up with this guy on a dark night in some isolated jungle hillside landing pad?  Him and a few dozen of his comrades?
Life as a combat helicopter pilot in Vietnam had its exciting moments.

Close-up of Ho Chi Mihn sandals.

A huge thank you to Glen Barton for donating these items to Charlie.  For now they are in safe storage, but we may have the beginnings of a start of a military museum here....

Just before the standown, I was in San Diego for the Air America reunion.  There I met a fellow
who gave me even more exciting items to add to Charlie's growing inventory.  More soon on that.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Thursday, October 18, 2012

10,000 hits on dawg blog!

I am excited to announce that today the H-34 "Dawg Blog"  got it 10,000th hit.

A great big thank you to all the H-34 fans out there who have followed Charlie in her journey for the past 18 months.  It has been an incredible story, and more chapters are unfolding.

A few weeks ago we found out that Charlie could no longer live at the Sandpoint A-1 Helicopter Co. hangar  and that we had to find her yet  another new home.

I drove around the airport and found a nice, fenced in auto storage yard with a six foot high fence around it.  Asking the neighbors, I determined that it belonged to the Northwest Auto Body shop.  When I approached Mel, he said "Sure, why not?"  So now, after an overnight stop at Jan Lee's hangar for last month's E.A.A. meeting, Charlie is asafely ensconsed in the Northwest Auto body storage lot on GN road, just on the west side of the Sandpoint airport.

Anybody in the Sandpoint area who needs auto body work done, please think about using the Northwest shop, thanks.  They also do repair of windshield cracks.  Get that small crack or pit repaired before it becomes a need for a new windshield.  My wife and I have used this shop four times over the past few years and are quite pleased with the work and the service we have received.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

a little feed back

I posted a notice about the dawg blog on the USMC Pop-a-Smoke page.
I got a response from a former H-34 crew chief:

Fred Williams "Looking GOOD! I know I've said it on POPASMOKE before, but there is just something about the 34 that just makes you feel an allegiance to it. Kind of like an old sweetheart you never got over. Most of all if you were a Crew Chief. "
I can honestly add to this, " if you were a pilot."
for anybody who wishes to see more about the H-34 in Viet Nam, and the entire history of Marine Corps rotary aviation, see:
Thousands of pictures at this site, free to the public.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Charlie goes to the Standown

June 16th, 2012  the Vietnam Vets of America chapter 890 of Sandpoint, Idaho hosted a Standown at the Bonner County Fairgrounds.  The  V V A, Allen Hacker President,  was assisted by Detachment  #1110 of the Marine Corps League, who provided almost 800 meals to the 1200 veterans who attended the Standown.

We received several truck loads of surplus military gear from the government, and spent two days placing all the materials on tables for the veterans to "shop."  All this was provided free by the VVA and the MCL. Many thanks to the many men and women who worked hard to put all this together.

                                Charlie was towed to the function by John Pugh. 
                           Here they are departing the north gate from Sandpoint airport:

Charlie has been provided a home at the Hangar of A-1 Sandpoint Helicopters for several months,
including all the cold winter months.  Thank you Ken D'Atillio and sons.
It was so much easier to work on her inside, away from the cold.

Here is our FAV old H-34, all decked out in her
finest marine Corps green, with caution tape de-
marking her blade tips, just in case some vet driving
a motor home may not see those blade tips.

We borrowed a little Huey technology here in that we drilled small holes in the top of each blade tip in order to insert the "S" hook ends of the motorcycle tie-downs.  That is much easier than the old cloth pockets we used to use in the military.  It makes one wonder what kind of whis-whis-whistling sounds those holes would make were we to fly these blades.  The sounds like bullet holes in the blades used to make...perhaps....?
This was an easy tow, as it is only about half a mile from her
home at the airport to the fairgrounds parking lot.

John Pugh attaching the two higher tail rotor blades before we unlocked the tail and unfolded it.  We take the two higher blades off so as to not catch any power lines while in transit. 
Can you imagine what a high tension power line might do to our magnesium helicopter?

Here are some pictures of the long line 1200 of vets waiting to enter the mail pavillion:

                                         can you see Charlie WAAAY at the bend of the line?
We were blessed with nice weather.

MCL member Dr. Ken Conger added a display of a Viet Nam Marine in full battle array with all equipment
complete with M-16 rifle.  Ken is quite a military historian and collector of military artifacts. 
His interest was heightened when he learned all about his father-in-law's service in the
Pacific with the Marine Corps in WW2.

 Here are Present Commandant Robert Rutherford (right) conferring with immediate past Commandant Everett Wood about how much salt peter to put in the BBQ beef sandwitches for the vets.

Bill Stevens (Founding Commandant of Det. #1110) with back to camera, his wife Jerri opposite him next to Dick Williams.  Ev Wood to the far left with Bob Rutherford.
(unknown woman at far right)
preparing the 800 meals we served to veterans that day.

We served BBQ beef on a sesame seed bun, potato salad, baked beans,
and a bottle of water to each vet at no cost to him or her.

above, More of the MCL "cookie" crew. Tim Hogan, Dennis Minnick, Ken Conger.
Before  the Standown was over, John Pugh had to leave, so Dennis Minnick volunteered to tow Charlie back to her home at SZT.  he did a superb job of delivering her safely.

Many kudos to all the fellows who helped make the standown the best one yet.
Allen Hacker, President of V V A chapter 890, and ALL of the troops who helped put this together,
 are to be commended for a great Standown.

Charlie all tucked in and safe at home after a hard days work at the Standown.

Actually, we found out about this time that the A-1 folks want us to remove Charlie from their premises. 
 A quest began to find Charlie a new home!

stay tuned...

in the meantime, if anybody would like to donate a few dollars to the cause,
please feel free to send a check, money order, or nasty old cash even to:

Bill Collier
402 Sandpoint Ave, no. 224
Sandpoint, ID  83864

put on the check:  for Charlie/V V A
to make this contribution tax deductible
thank you

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Better pictures of Ben Stein with trophy

Ben Stein holding the trophy given to him by Sandpoint veterans
in appreciation for his on-going support of veterans in Bonner County.

the trophy up close
note the shape of the granite base is laser cut to look like the USA.

An up-close of his end table in his living room.
When he said we could come back to take more pictures for the blog, he was very gracious
 to let us do a re-shoot as the earlier pics were poor.
When I finished taking the pictures, I said:  "You are going to be famous!"

OOPS!  a repeat.
worth repeating.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Ben Stein Honored for Generosity

Today Actor/Economist/Man of Many Talents  Ben Stein was given 
two awards for his generosity to the veterans of Bonner County, Idaho.

The first award was a beautifully engraved glass plaque in the shape of the state of Idaho,
with a  marble base, laser-cut to the shape of the United States of America.
(This is a very poor picture, and will be replaced/enhanced by a better picture soon.)
Bill Collier, Secretary of V.V.A. 890, holds up the plaque to be admired my Mr. Stein. 
He is assisted in the presentation by Lt.Col. James Barr USMC, retired.

Over the past few years Mr. Stein has very generously supported
Viet Nam Veterans of America Chapter 890
with its various veterans-helping-veterans activities in the area,
most notably helping out with the expenses of our local Stand Down each June. 
 This year  V.V.A. 890 provided surplus military gear to almost 1200 veterans of all stripes. 

In addition, Marine Corps League Detachment #1110
provided nearly 900 lunches for veterans attending the Stand Down.

Mr. Stein was also awarded his very own


with H-34 helicopter device
for his generosity is supporting the H-34 restoration project.

James Barr,  Ben Stein, Bill Collier
wearing their "crew" hats.

Ben Stein was most happy to receive these small tokens of our appreciation,
and repeatedly thanked us for our service. 
He proudly displays both of these awards on a table in his living room.

OOOHHRA!  Ben Stein.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Charley at the E.A.A. fly-in.

We towed Charlie to the local E.A.A. fly-in on Saturday August 11th, 2012.
She was a hit.
We met a lot of aviation-intersted people and gathered a few dollars in donations for the cause.
We were a bit short on staff as this was a busy week-end all around, so we never got around to lifting  the two side rotors to the fully extended position.
Participants were Howard Bigelow, James Barr, Bill Collier, Ken Conger.
Barry "I need a bigger hammer" Gage, who did the fine job of replicating the tail rotor blades, and his charmimng wife Tracy, stopped by with his beautifully restored 1929 Chevy Coupe and added its beauty to the helicopter for a while.(see last photo)

Here is USMC ret.  LtCol. James Barr preparing to tow Charlie
across the airport to her position at the fly-in.
Come to think of it, this is probably the only time this helicopter has been on a runway in several decades!

A most beautiful and charming young lady, Linda from Tucson, stopped by to admire Charley.  The admiration was mutual.
Barry Gage and Tracy's 1929 Chevy Coupe. 
He did a fantastic job of making this old car brand new again.

Someone asked if the helicopter makes much noise.  We were truthfully able to
answer that is makes about as much noise as a Ford F-150 pick-up.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Here is Charlie on display at the "Lost in 50's" old car show, Army side.
Thousand of people come to Sandpoint every year to celebrate old cars of any and every vintage.

This is the very first time we had all four rotor blades on, and had them spread.  It turns our lifting the blades into place is a challenge.  We also had no rotor brake to keep the tranny from turning, so the whole assembly wanted to turn whenever we lifted a blade with the special blade-lifting tool.  Once the rotor turned so much we lost control;  a blade slipped out of the tool and crashed down onto the blade saddle, breaking one of the pockets off AGAIN!  Fortunately we have several spare saddles and we can easily repair this.

Dick Williams manning the business side of old Charlie.  We gathered nearly $200 in donation from the public, and made a lot of wonderful contacts with people interested in the old machine. Everett Wood and Bill Stevens were very helpful during this event.

A bit out of sequence time-wise here, but this coming Saturday the 18th of August, 2012 Charlie will be
attending the E.A.A. fly in at Sandpoint airport. Can something attend a fly-in if it has to be towed?  YES. Come on down.  Pancake breakfast 0800-1000.

Lost in 50's parade, continued

When the last post about Charlie was made, she was in the middle of the "Lost in 50's"  Parade through downtown Sandpoint.  Immediately after turning left from 1st Ave onto Cedar Street, Charlie blew a tail wheel tire.!!!
We had anticipated that by beefing up a furniture dolly to serve as a spare tire, so that we could at least get the helicopter out of the parade so as to not impede the progress of the parade.

We got the furniture dolly out of the belly of the beast to place the tail wheel on it. Rather than slow the parade by getting out the hydraulic jack, we simply went to the side of the road and asked for volunteers to lift the tail up.  Six beefy guys instantly lept out to assist.  As they lifted the tail up, we placed the dolly under it.  The dolly crushed down through it like it was made of toothpicks!

Now we had a dilema--if we continued on until we were no longer choking the parade to a halt, we risked ruining the magnesium rim, an item we thought was irreplaceable. There was also a small risk that scooting the magnesium rim on the street might generate enough heat to ignite the magnesium,  with the very real possibility in that event that this could ignite the entire helicopter!  Once ignited, this entire helicopter will become ashes in less that 15 seconds.  I have seen this happen.
What to do?

We knew that we were only two blocks from a place where there would be room for us to edge over and let the parade pass, so we decided to take the risk and proceded on the crushed dolly with only the ruined tire rubbing on the road at first.
Soon the weight wore through the old tire, and the mag rim began to leave a silver streak on the pavement.  It looked like we might be able to save the rim, but it was wearing down fast. This could be the end of Charlie's public appearances if we ruin the rim and cannot find a replacement.

We did make it to the wide spot in the road, and were able to let the rest of the parade pass.  Now we had a problem of what to do with our H-34. A neighbor who lived right there came out with a metal dolly and offered it for our use.  We got the same volunteers to once again lift the tail and placed the flat tail wheel tire on this second dolly.  Once again the dolly was crushed!  see picture below of second, crushed dolly. Finally, after much consideration, we decided to call a tow truck.

The nice folks from Clyde's towing showed up almost immediately, and rigged a wide strap sround Charlie's tail, and moved her only about 100 feet into a small triangular city park.  We figured that since we were so very close to our assigned show spot for the car show the next day, there was no sense in taking the helicopter all the way back to the hangar at Sandpoint airport, and then returning her all the way back into town the next morning by tow truck.  The thought also was that if we towed her home, she was done for a while and would not be in the car show. at all.

Of couse we could not leave Charlie out in the open in the park without a guard, so some one had to spend the night with her.
All you H-34 drivers out there, eat you hearts out.  I got to sleep in an H-34 for the night.
I know that many times in my flying career I had naps in various helicopters, but
this may very well have been the first time I ever over-nighted in an H-34.

Afterr a short and very miserable night's sleep, Clyde's folks showed up again at 0530 and towed Charlie backwards the two blocks to our assigned static display station on Cedar Street.
After the car show, we got yet a third tow, this time all the way back to the hangar at the far side of the airport.  All the time we kept thinking, "What is going to be the cost of not one, nor two, but three tows and about two hours of the time of the tow-truck crew?"  This was going to be one humoungous bill, we kept thinking. 
As it turns out, Clyde's did not charge us a bit for the three tows. 
If you are ever in the Sandpoint area and need a tow, please call Clydes.
The three members of the Clydes crew were awarded "Charlie crew" hats for their superior service.