Friday, November 28, 2014

A tribute to our helicopter crews...

       Without our fantastic crew chiefs and ground support teams, none of this helicopter flying in Vietnam could ever have happened.  Our crew chiefs flew all day with us, loading and unloading cargo and passengers, putting their lives in our pilots’ hands hour after hour, day after day (some nights), landing after landing.  

        Without them the machines would have deteriorated to un-flyable junk in less than a week. After working all day in the air, they many times worked all night to maintain the helicopters. Sometimes they had to wash blood off the cabin floor and sweep our maggots from dead marines.

         They changes out engines overnight, replaced gear boxes, rotor blades and many other components--in the field at times.  They filled about 100 zerk fitting with grease, most of them every night; there must be 50 zerk fitting on the H-34 rotor head alone.  They did all the refueling whenever we stopped to refuel. 

        These were the most dedicated crews that could possibly have existed, anywhere, anytime, any war.  They never got enough thanks and credit for their sacrifices.  Thank you crew chiefs, gunners mechanics, avionics and armory personnel.  

This is an excerpt from my book:

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

"We Gotta get out of This Place" the Animals

My most favorite song from the Vietnam era, by the Animals, very well done:

for those of you who may have missed it, I recently published my book:

so far I have had seven five-star reviews.

Monday, October 27, 2014


borrowed from

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

H-34 Charlie on TV this morning.

This morning I as interviewed about Charlie by Matt Rogers of KHQ-TV channel 6  Spokane.
This was a lot of fun-except the 0530 wake up!

PART I:  2:05 minutes

Part II,   3:05 minutes

I have just been notified that the second link does not work.

Just scroll down from the first video and you will see little windows and you can click on part II.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

My book, "The Adventures OF A Helicopter Pilot" now on

If you have been enjoying this blog about old Charlie the H-34 and all things helicopter, and some of the stories I have written about my experiences as a pilot of these machines in Vietnam, then you will like my book.

                    "The ADVENTURES OF A HELICOPTER PILOT"
          'Flying the H-34 in Vietnam for the United States Marine Corps'
                        by Captain Bill Collier, USMCR.

"This is the journal of an honest, down to earth, self-deprecating, capable, and above all, courageous American in some of the most difficult circumstances in this nation's history. The pages fly by and as they do, I see more clearly the superb character of a hero with a sense of humor. We need more like him and they are getting more and more rare. Attention must be paid!"                                                                          Ben Stein, Actor/Author, man of many talents.

"Bill Collier knows what it means to go into harm's way, and he never hesitated when there was a hazardous mission to be accomplished.  Just ask the guys he rescued, and the Marines he served with."                                                        Major General Larry Taylor USMCR (ret.)

link to book on amazon:

For the first 10 people who write a review on amazon, I have a free copy of my 25 minute historical documentary, "The Rescue of Raven 1-1."  Buy the book, read it, post a review and then let me know so I can send you the DVD.

Thank you, 

bill collier 

Monday, August 25, 2014

hello to France

I see on my statistics page for the "dawg blog" that I am getting quite a few hits in France.
 I am going to be in France next month.  Anybody willing to meet with me there?



After touring the garden for an hour I felt compelled to leave some kind of offering to the veterans honored in this memorial park.

I opened my cooler, extracted a cold beer and drank half of it.  The rest I placed at the base of the monument for all the fellows I never knew.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

H-34 Charlie's busy summer, part two, 2014

H-34 Charlie has had a busy summer.

Fist she was in the Lost in 50's parade and old car show (see previous posts.)

Following the Lost in 50's activity, she "supervised" the veteran's Stand Down at our local fairgrounds June 14th.  At our Stan Down we provided surplus

military gear to about 1100 veterans, and fed almost 700 free meals for the attendees. It was a dreary day with a light rain falling, but a little moisture did not deter the veterans.

Here is a picture of Charlie at the "receiving" line. The Marine Corps League had a recruiting tent next to Charlie. We made some new friends but did not recruit one new member.

Our local VFW post No. 2453 managed the Stand Down, and Marine Corps League Detachment #1110 provided the tasty food. Chapter 890 of the Vietnam Veterans of America provided much of the funding for this event. GREAT JOB, GUYS!  Good working together.

This is our big veteran event for the year, and is always greatly anticipated.
We have a lot of veterans here in Northern Idaho who pretty much hide out in the woods most of the time and they do not come into town often. They tend to be poor, so it is a nice thing to have a place where they can get boots, cold-weather gear and sleeping bags. Our winters here can get very cold.

Here is Charlie pre-positioning at the fairgrounds the night before. Marine Corps League member and former Commandant Everett Wood has become our most experienced tow-meister. That did not prevent a minor tree-strike on the way home from the 4th of July parade!  more on that next post.

After the Stand Down Charlie returned to her nest at the NORTHWEST AUTO BODY storage area on GN road, out behind Sandpoint airport (SZT, for you aviators out there).

Blatant Commercial Plug here:
If you live in our area, and
if you need any kind of auto body work or windshield repair NORTHWEST is your place to go. With their new facility out in Ponderay, it is even more convenient to use their courteous, professional shops to have your auto body and windshield needs met. If you use them, please be kind enough to say to them that you appreciate their generosity for letting Charlie live in their storage yard for free.

At the end of the stand down, the Marine Corps League ran out of BBQ beef on toast to make sandwiches. I ran to the store to buy more, but the store had no BBQ beef at all.  I asked for help even, and the asst. manage came to assist, but no luck.  I had to buy some canned hash and we made a field expedient substitute for BBQ beef by adding catsup to the hash.  We borrowed a name from my wife daughters for this treat, calling it Hash La Too-sha  see video, Marine Corps League member Vivienne S. speaking:

A quick note here, after 24 and a half years, I am in the final, final, final, final stages of finishing my book, 
"Flying the H-34 in Vietnam for the United States Marine Corps."

I will be posting asap when it is available on Amazon Books.  SOON!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Sikorsky S-52, WWII vintage helicopter.

Here is an article I found on Facebook about the Sikorsky S-52,a predecessor to the
This helicopter was actually used in WWII.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Another collection of H-34s!

I am in the Dallas area visiting my old buddy James B. Barr, LtCol. USMC Retired. We
flew together in Vietnam in squadrons HMM-161 and HMM-363 for 10 months. One day he had and engine failure and I was able to fly down and rescue him and his crew. He says we were under attack, taking heavy fire and could have been shot down after I rescued him. I have to disagree. I recall it being a quiet and routine

pick up. Too bad our memories do allow not us instant replay. I will post that story soon.

At the Lost in 50's old car chow last week-end, I was approcahed by a couple, Mr. and Mrs. Hampton. They told me of another helicopter company in Payse, Texas that operates H-34's. The Hamptons gave me the phone number of 5 State Helicopter Company.
I am in the Dallas area for the annual Air Amierica reuinion, so yesterday James and I drove over to Payse and paid a visit to 5 State. Here is what we found:

also known as California Helicopter International L.P.
President/CEO Brad Ladue runs a very clean operation and does rebuild work for other helicopter companies.

We were heartily and amicably greeted by Brad and given the VIP tour of their facility. They have three of the most beautiful S-58T models. (S-58s are the civilian version of the H-34, with the old 9 cylinder piston engine replaced by a twin-pac of small turbines. This not only gives the helicopter turbine reliability, but lightens the engine package by about 1,000 pounds, making the machine more capable of lifting heavier loads.) He showed us videos of himself taking steel beams up to the top of a huge football stadium. They also had three helicopter being rebuilt in an adjacent hangar, and Brad reports they have one each on station in Australia, Korea and California. Nine H-34s/S-58s in total. YEA!

I am very pleased to see these old machine continue to be in service.

Before we left, Brad presented us with baseball caps, lanyards and S-58T pins to put on our caps. We really enjoyed his hospitality and seeing the beautiful helicopter.

Here are James and I in front of the blue one.

As he was showing us through his spare parts hangar, Brad came to a big pile of neatly stacked H-34 tail rotor blades. he looked at one in the top of the pile and said, "This is a dash-14. We can't use is in civilian aircraft, would you like to have one?" We immediately responded with an enthusiastic, "YES!" So we now each have genuine, never-used H-34 tail rotor blade. Mine will be attached to H-34 Charlie very soon.
James plans to hang his on his wall somewhere for a conversation piece.

Brad also told me that he does repair work for the helicopter company that I found last fall (see previous post about "A Secret Nest of H-34s!) in north in Washington state that does the cherry drying. Brad also used to own the same H-34, N79AR that I found in Washington, the one that I flew in Alaska in 1983. He showed us a picture album of his using it. The Helicopter world is pretty small.

I will post about that adventure in Alaska some day.

I must announce that I have completed my epic adventure book about flying the H-34 in Vietnam. Twenty four years in the writing, it should be finished with the final production and layout soon. We are planning a release before the 1st of July. I will post. Watch for "The ADVENTURES OF A HELCIOPTER PILOT," Flying the H-34 in Vietnam for the United States Marine Corps. It will be on Amazon.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Charlie goes home after all the action

After the old car show, Wood once again towed Charlie back to her nest on GN road.

One again, a GREAT BIG THANK YOU to Northwest Auto Body Shop for the use of their storage lot. We made it a point to pass out their business cards to several people, and to give Northwest a hearty reccomendation as people visited the helicopter.

Here is Charlie at a stop light on her way back to storage. How many times will you see an H-34 at a stop light?

The next picture is Ev Wood posing by Charlie in the Northwest storage yard.

Lower picture is our favorite 90 year old World War II Veteran and Marine Corps League member Marilyn Hales. (Just left of center holding green balloon.)

People visit Charlie at the car show

Old Car show

Everett Wood did a remarkable job of backing Charlie into the exit driveway of US Bank in downtown Sandpoint. Then the public began to come and see the old helicopter.

As usual, the Lost in 50's parade started at the Sandpoint High School. Charlie was towed their by Towmeister Everett Wood, where we then transferred it over to Mike Kazar'a 1953 Jeep.

You can see all the old cars waiting for the parade to begin.

Charlie is center, above, red turtle back makes her stand out.

Girls in poodle skirts decorated on old truck.

Charlie follows the Marine Corps League "Staff Car" created and driven by Dick Williams, Adjutant and Paymaster of Det. #1110.  V V A member Mike Kazar driving the 1953 Korean-war vintage Jeep.  The "Roger" mentioned in the background is Roger King, who was most helpful in making one of Charlie's axel nuts in his shop early on.  We truly would not be in the parade if not for Roger's help.

CHARLIE leads the parade!

For the second year in a row, and marking her third year in the "Lost in 50's" Parade, Charlie got to lead the pack through our small town of Sandpoint, Idaho. here is a link to the lost in 50's week-end: For three days, Sandpoint is all about the music and times of the 1950s. Girls (some of the 50s) wear poodle skirts and jewelry of the era. Lounspeakers blare music of the 50s on the streets. Friday night is the parade of old cars, and Saturday is the car show. We figured three years ago that since Charlie is a 1957 model, she should qualify for the parade and show; the organizers of the event agreed. On the Thursday night of this week-end, impersonators recreate the music of Elvis, and Jerry Lee Lewis and, for the first time this year in replacement for Richie Valens, we had a very realistic copy of Johny cash. It was a rockin' good time in our refurbished Panida theater. Friday and Saurday nights the main pavillion at our award-winning fairground rocks out with the old time rock and roll. (see the link above for more details.) Here is a nice picture of Charlie just out of the gate from our high school at the start of the parade:

Tow vehicle, 1953 Willys Jeep, provided by Vietnam veteran Mike Kazar. Towmeister Everet Wood, past commandant of Marine Corps League Detachment #1110, handled the heavy lifting by towing Charlie out of her nest and to the functions, where Mike took over with his lighter Jeep. Here is an amusing, if not frightening short of Wood towing Charlie and nearly colliding with a school bus!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Sad day! Last remaining dawgs in boneyard torn up, destroyed.

The boneyard of old H-34's in Tucson is a sad place for these old dawgs:

Sunday, April 13, 2014

...the choppers are coming...

"When a Marine in Vietnam is wounded, surrounded, hungry, low on ammunition or water, he looks to the sky. He knows the choppers are coming..." Leonard F. Chapman General, USMC

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Khe Sanh Airport from above, Fall 1966

Khe Sanh airport from above, Fall of 1966.

This is the picture I was unable to add to the post, "Enemy Helicopters!"

Pictures missing from "Enemy Helicopters!" post.

Elephants graze just off the end of the runway at Khe Sanh Airport,  Fall of 1966.

Here are two of the pictures that go with yesterday's post, "Enemy Helicopters."  There is one more-an aerial shot of Khe Sanh airport.  I will keep trying to figure out this insane system.

This is NOT the very same Vietnamese Airforce H-34 "Butterfly" mentioned in my story.  This was taken somewhere near the coast in flat terrain.

Helicopter/Blimp crash!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Enemy Helicopters!

This is yet another excerpt from my soon-to-be published book, "ADVENTURES of a Helicopter Pilot" Book One Flying Helicopters in Vietnam for the United States Marine Corps. (My apologies this morning, I can't seem to figure how to insert the pictures I want to go with this.) I am shooting for a 1 July publishing date. I will post. Enemy Helicopters! Occasionally we were sent from Dong Ha to Khe Sanh to support the marines who held positions atop the hills surrounding Khe Sanh airport, just as we had once been sent to Dong Ha from Phu Bai. I was flying copilot for Captain Arch Ratliff. (Picture of elephants grazing in grass off Khe Sanh airport should be here.) In the fall of 1966, the Khe Sanh area was very peaceful. Elephants grazed off the end of the runway. A few months later, in the early summer of 1967 the Marines held all the high ground around Khe Sanh and the seige of Khe Sanh was in the near future. We were supporting those troops around the air base. We had heard rumors that enemy helicopters might be operating in the area. Since Khe Sanh was very close to the borders with both Laos and North Vietnam, this was the most likely area to encounter them. On a break between flights, hanging around operations, a message flashed to us that our marines in the field were being strafed by an enemy helicopter. Ratliff and I and the second crew dashed to our helicopters, leapt into the air in record time and sped to the area where grunts were reporting the enemy helicopter. We were excited because this was a big chance for fame and glory, the chance to do a little air to air combat between helicopters, and maybe even shoot down an enemy helicopter. We had all been weaned on stories of World War II dogfights, our hero Pappy Boyington and his Marine Corps VMF-214 Black Sheep Squadron. Primarily, we were driven to get out there to protect our marines in the field. No filthy “gomer” helicopter pilot was going to strafe our marines and get away with it. We were out for revenge, to kill! When we arrived in the area, there was no enemy helicopter in sight. We saw only a Vietnamese Air Force (VNAF) H-34 “Butterfly” (the same type machine that we were flying). We contacted the marines on the ground and confirmed with them that this indeed was the machine that had strafed them. The VNAF H-34 was casually flying around the area above the marine positions. (Picture of VNAF H-34 belongs here.) We added maximum power to our engines and caught up with it. We tried to contact it by radio, but we had no common frequency. No joy. We weren’t sure what we were getting into. Was this an enemy helicopter posing as a VNAF? Perhaps it was a renegade VNAF, shooting our marines on purpose. We didn’t know how its crew would react to our presence. We approached closer and closer to the chopper, anticipating it might shoot at us. We instructed our crews to bring their machine guns from the outer sides of our helicopters to the inner side of the formation, so that each of our two helicopters now had two M-60 machine guns trained on the VNAF aircraft. Then we slid our formation position tighter and tighter to the helicopter. We instructed our gunners to be alert and in the event of any hostile fire from that helicopter, they were cleared to fire at will. We could blast them out of the sky in an instant. Once they noticed us, it only took a few seconds for the pilots of the enveloped H-34 to realize that we were very serious in our actions. Since we were unable to contact them on the radio, we made hand signals for them to return to Khe Sanh airport. They acknowledged and began a very careful, slow and deliberate turn back to the airport. All three helicopters flew back to Khe Sanh airport, landed and shut down. (Picture of Khe Sanh airport from the air goes here.) Captain Ratliff and I were very surprised to see climbing out of the VNAF helicopter a United States Air Force Lieutenant Colonel and a United States Army Major. They climbed into the back of their six-by truck and ordered their driver return them to operations. Even though we had just forced them to land, they acted as if we were not even there. Captain Ratliff hailed to the driver of the truck to stop. He then yelled up to the two senior officers. “What the hell do you guys think you were doing out there? Don’t you know there were troops below you? You just shot up a bunch of our marines!” Instead of acting surprised and apologetic, the two got very defensive and arrogant. They acted as if it was their right to go out and shoot up a bunch of our marines if they wanted to. Wrong attitude! Captain Ratliff and I started up the side of the stake bed truck, intent on tearing these two assholes into dog meat. Neither of us gave a thought to the consequences of our actions. Thoughts of court-martials and years in prison for the very serious offense of assaulting a superior officer were simply pushed to the backs of our minds. For an instant, the thought of any punishment meant nothing to us. No asshole was going to shoot up our marines and get away with it. Ratliff headed for the throat of lieutenant colonel, and I was headed for the army major. Superior rank was going to be no protection for these two flaming assholes from the wrath of two livid Marine Corps helicopter pilots We felt it was our duty to thump these two guys, hang the consequences. Just as we got to the rails, and were about to tear into these two jerk-offs, cooler heads prevailed; a few of our comrades grabbed us by our arms and kept us from climbing the truck. By then quite a crowd had gathered including our commanding officer. Our C. O. ordered us to back off and told us to return to operations area and write up a report on what had just happened, which we did. We learned later that these two were the liaison officers to the to the Vietnamese Army unit at Khe Sanh and they were out for a familiarization flight of the area. They had not bothered to consult any troop deployment maps, had not talked to any officers in charge of the troops in the field, and they had no idea where any troops were deployed. If anybody should have known where the troops were deployed, these two morons should have known. They just happen to be over our marines when they decided to test their machine guns. Fortunately no marines on the ground were killed. One required a medevac for a wound to his thigh. It probably saved his life in the long run. I doubt seriously that any reprimand was given to the two jerk-offs. Surely the wounded marines were given purple hearts for their injuries due to “direct enemy action.”

Thursday, February 20, 2014

a video from youtube about Marine Corps helicopters in Vietnam

somewhat propaganda-ish, but some good video footage in this short film.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Man-Powered helicopter attains sustained flight

Two young Canadian engineers created a quad-copter that flew above three meters for over one minute, winning the Sikorsky $250.000 prize. see link