"My O-1 Backseat Adventure"
Submitted by -CWO Chuck Brainerd, Cougar 34, 57th Assault Helicopter Company, Pleiku 1970-1971
My name is Chuck Brainerd, I Flew with the 57th Assault Helicopter Company. When I arrived in country the Gladiators and Cougars were based at An Khe. Later that year we moved to Camp Holloway where this event happened in late1970 or early 1971
A 219th Headhunter pilot approached me at the Officers Club in Camp Holloway. He asked if he could exchange a ride during a bird dog mission for a ride in Cougars Revenge Night Hawk. So named for retaliation for the death of Cougar Jeff Coffin that was killed south of Pleiku.
I had seen these guys on missions in the AO and wasn’t sure I wanted to fly in one since they didn’t have the two door gunners that I was use to. Also it was a non-turbine aircraft and I didn’t have a fixed wing rating. But the 20 year old inside of me made the deal.
I had one condition, which he agreed to. I would be able to bring along a M-60 Machine Gun. He said yes to this request. After draping belts of Ammo every where I could, We took off to a strip that I cant remember the name of, landed and, pulled up to a conex, removed the smoke rockets and rearmed the Bird Dog with HE, 2.75 inch Rockets. Then we headed out to the AO. Enroute he asked me if I wanted to do a Split S, to proud to admit I didn’t know what that was, I said yes. When he finished the maneuver I still didn’t know what a split S was. I experienced G forces I have never felt and saw the horizon where it was not supposed to be. He asked, how did you like that?? I answered I’m not sure what you did but that was fun hoping he wouldn’t do that again.
Arriving in the search area, he told me some one had use that trail last night, I could not even make out a trail. After following the trail for a short distance, we heard a short burst of AK fire. After firing the HE Rockets, He began circling the area; he reached for a M-79 and a laundry bag full of Ammo for it and began firing it out the left side. After he had his fun, he allowed me to shoot the 60 out the right side.
Now we were having fun. After expending all the ammo we headed back to the PSP runway at Holloway. During the post flight he exclaimed "Oh, Holy (expletive)". He showed me that the M-60 shells had damaged the leading edge of the right horizontal stabilizer. I said I had to go and left quickly never seeing him again.
This year this 60-year-old pilot soloed a Cessna 305 Birddog. Looking in the back seat I can’t believe I shot a M-60 out the back right window. I’m in love with the plane and have a great respect for the 219th Pilots and crews that flew them.
I thought he was Head Hunter 11 but I am not sure of that. If you are the pilot in this story, please email me at email@example.com, I would love to talk with you.
Chuck Brainerd Cougar’s Revenge (Cougar 34)
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