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good evening vietnam welcome to lz
this is the veterans live show i’m your
host ronny ymbras
i serve with 101st airborne division in
vietnam tonight
from december 67 to december 68.
tonight’s guest very special operator
here spec 5 ed hepler
he was actually a crew chief on a ue and
was in flight
when they announced the paris peace
accords when they were signed
ending united states involvement in the
vietnam war
we will speak to him in a few moments
but first i’d like to let you all know
the program is brought to you by
fallen ever forgotten vietnam memorials
in the usa
featuring over 50 memorials in the
united states one from each state
with infrared pictures and it lists all
your buddies who never came home go to
fault for more
and we’re going to go right now to the
vietnam memorial traveling wall has
announced that it will begin its 2021
season in melbourne florida
at the 33rd annual florida all veterans
the war will be displayed from april
11th through the 19th
i was there two years ago uh in july of
2018 and it’s an outstanding outstanding
performance they got yui’s flying in
they got all kinds of tents and setups
demonstrations and food and music
and they have a concert area where they
have guest speakers things like that
okay this state in the vietnam war
all right this state in the vietnam war
january 27
1965 the beginning of two coups took
in laos general furumi
once again attempted to seize control of
the government
the number one song on january 27 65 was
by petula clarke
in vietnam january 27 1973 the parish
peace accords were signed
by officials from the united states and
north vietnam
bringing an official end to america’s
in an unpopular foreign war the number
one song january 27
1973 was superstitious
by stevie wonder let’s
okay this is from lattice love sokol
1968 navy corpsman theodore
rozkowski on the ground outside of
caisson’s outer defenses
he used a stethoscope to listen to bc
tunneling under the base
very clever very good idea
next photo bill swearinger
swearingen landing on top the rock pile
his brother was there several months in
here he is he worked the radio relay
from the top of the rock pile thank you
bill for that picture
okay i took this picture there’s a
155 uh what do they call this uh mobile
or track uh well it’s on a track and you
got a bunch of marines up top
probably have a couple inside there so
you almost have a whole squad
in the background you got a pagoda
and in her foreground you have a looks
like a start of a graveyard situation
okay next picture again from ladislav
what a great picture look at the little
birdies on his on his finger
fly little bird fly look at that that’s
a good one
very good a lot of slob okay
jim blank he left vietnam mid february
he helped close down benoit da nang and
cameron bay
and he was stationed at tonsino i know
what that tsn means there jim thank you
great outfit got the m16 ready to go it
looks like a c-130 in the background
very good
nice picture these are some of the cards
that i
uh found at a show military
show gun show um yeah
it has facts 66 different cards they
have a picture
uh like the briefing the president uh
nixon and kissinger coming in they have
to become a president richard nixon
who now assumed the american leadership
role in vietnam
from 68 to 73 president nixon and harry
kissinger were the principal no
negotiators in the vietnam peace talks
peace negotiations with communist north
vietnam were very difficult
and kept secret many times these
negotiations ended with the paris peace
talks agreement of january 27 1973.
those cards were made in canada there’s
66 different cards
we’re going to start giving some out to
uh some of the vets
who watch the show
okay here’s our guest tonight ed hepler
welcome ed how you doing we’re good how
about y’all
very good man man um why don’t you just
give us a brief uh
bio of who what where you served and
okay um i guess i graduated high school
in 1970
uh joined army did basic at fort polk
um ait at fort eustis virginia
and my first station was in vietnam um
i was with the 330th transportation
as a general support aviation company um
that did you know rebuilt heavily
damaged aircraft and stuff
and uh i was there for about a month and
a half transferred from there down to
the 114th assault helicopter company at
and there i was a mechanic door gunner
crew chief
and uh i left there
and my that was my first tour i left
there and went to fort hood
they said hey we don’t need aviation we
need tankers
they put me on a tank that’s right yeah
you know
i was a driver a gunner and then a
in about all within about seven months
and then uh i told him i don’t care what
you do i went back in aviation
so they gave me a set of papers i said
what’s that they said you’re back in
aviation i said great
open them up going back to vietnam is
not what i had
mechanic and uh uh crew chief
it’s 6 7 november and uh
just a volunteered as a door gunner and
they needed door gunners so
i was going to train you train for a dog
on it like is there a school for dog
well there was training for door gunners
most of the time when i was there it was
just uh
mechanics or you know um
other crew chiefs that would slide in
his door
okay so a crew chief would train for
and the pilots obviously and uh whoever
else but like the medic and the
door gunners were like could have been
anybody well not that yeah but well you
the crew never really trained uh to be a
crew chief he trained to be a mechanic
uh you had to be a mechanic at first and
then you went over and usually you flew
as a door gunner or something like that
oh i like it
because something broke down yeah and
then you would be a mechanic
i mean a crew chief okay
so let’s go what happened with uh where
were you stationed in vietnam
uh first time was at ben long down to
and uh with the 114th and then the
second time was uh
with the 57th up at camp holloway
outside of pleiku
so like you uh actually volunteered to
go back too right
well you know that’s i wanted back in
aviation so they sent me to vietnam
ah right okay i got you so tell us about
the experience
you had uh what is this uh
50 48 years ago today
about um laying around that something
happened okay we’re flying a mission
we’ve taken off that morning we had our
guns mounted on the helicopter
and i forget where we were flying to we
heard you know we were listening to
i think it’s a fbn whatever radio
station yeah yeah we were listening to
that and they came across and said hey
the paris peace corps
were uh signed you know the war’s over
and we had flown we landed about noon
back at uh
camp hallway and they came out and took
our guns off the helicopter
wait a minute what are you doing they
said the war’s over we don’t have enemy
and we got shot at more after that than
we did
leading up to the second i don’t mean to
laugh but really yeah so
obviously the word didn’t get to the vc
and the nva
to i mean the nva maybe but not the vcs
well they were just shooting at us
yeah helicopters surprising anything you
want to do you know what i mean sure
helicopter flying guy some guy in the
farm gets out of his hooch
pulls out his ak and pop pop pop and
you’re flying by you’re not gonna
know what the hell is going on right
yeah oh that’s crazy we were flying one
it was after that we were flying the
south vietnamese were still fighting
so we would fly right that’s right we
advisors around we had the uh canadian
peacekeepers we flew them around
and uh we’re flying along toward the
battle was up ahead of us
ahead of us away so we’re flying up
there and uh
my gunner i was a crew chief at the time
my gunner said i got three guys on the
road down here
and the pilot said keep an eye on him he
says okay a couple of minutes later he
says hey that guy
mr uh disappeared taking fire and
i moved over to his side of the aircraft
so i could see what was going on
and i saw something fly by the hell by
the helicopter so i went back to my side
and uh if the
we talked to um special forces guys
because we landed at one of their camp
right and they said the small arms was
probably 51
yeah and uh the whatever that was some
type of rock
rpg rpg
so where do you spend most of your time
in uh four core
uh in the delta was three well
most of my time was down the delta on
the first tour
oh yes the second tour was a little
all right well you went back and they
you showed up and they canceled the war
yeah they were afraid
there you go there you go and uh
combat assault companies how many how
many combat assault companies
are there i have no idea there’s a ton
of them
uh yeah i was in the first aviation
and so the brigade was spread out from
the delta all the way to the dmz
right so
there we go this is my first combat
yeah yeah going down to coochie from um
no we were in kuching sorry going down
into the delta yeah
okay that was some crazy
experience when you get in your first
fire fight but uh yeah
thank you for the support and the
whatever else you did
uh to cover our butts you know what i
mean yeah let me tell you
when when we heard those jewish coming
which sometimes you couldn’t hear them
coming in so fast because they were
flying low
i found out from a guy’s a helicopter
pilot actually on the show a couple of
weeks ago
that uh yeah you wouldn’t hear that that
helicopter even with that noise that it
used to make the familiar yui noise
yeah the treetop level it’d be right on
top of you
yeah and uh
i know i we for the unit i was in
particularly we had reached the point
where we figured we were already dead
it just hadn’t happened yet so we did
crazy stuff
you know let’s swing around outside the
helicopter or something like that while
it’s flying
nice we have so many guys so many guys
believe it or not like in some of the
movies you see with helicopters guys
like apocalypse now or
uh hamburger hill let me tell you there
was some scary stuff
even though you you thought you were
flying there when the doors not open and
then you hear a fire and then
the birds going back and forth you know
what i mean
you couldn’t wait to get off the ground
and then you couldn’t wait to get on the
you know we if we were going to get shot
usually is that through the bottom of
the aircraft
so we sit on ammo cans helmets whatever
we could find to sit on we set on
right right yeah you know hit me here
kill me that’s all right but don’t come
below me
and say so what what did you do the same
thing on both tours
yeah oh wow i’d go in as a mechanic
and then i volunteered to fly as a
gunner so finally they moved me over to
flight platoon and i’d fly as the gunner
until i
learned what i had to do and i became a
crew chief
gotcha what uh what was it like after
the piece of chords were signed
like i said earlier they shot at us more
afterwards than
before but i mean what did you do what
uh what kind of if the war was over
what they took the guns off the
helicopter what were you doing like
you still had missions to do oh yeah we
had lot and like i said we were flying
the um
canadian peace observers or whatever
they were
we remind them all over the place we
flew them to
uh have meetings with the vc the nba
sometimes we’d pick up nva or vc
commanders and fly them into a
place that they could have meetings and
stuff how about any movie stars any
showgirls or movie stars or politicians
you fly around
uh the first tour i was over there we
picked up miss america
and her own yeah
the airfield commander the company
commander and us
uh the three of us flew down up to
saigon and picked them up
and we were coming back the airfield
commander had miss america and
some of her top girls with her the
company commander had several girls and
the technicians and stuff that was with
and we got their baggage so you your
helicopter had the baggage
yeah you’re in a luggage oh man
yeah well you can’t get no phone numbers
like that
that’s interesting and uh anything
odd or peculiar happen on one of your
flights or you know a two-year flight
uh yeah after the peace treaty uh sign
we there’s a we called it don k pass
that i think it’s got another name
but normally when we flew through the
past going down to uh i think queen yarn
right we we fly really high because the
the bad guys had the whole mountain
range just about
and uh we flopped hi well after the
things kind of quieted down we said okay
we don’t need to go so high since we
don’t have
uh enemy anymore so we were a good bit
lower we’re still kind of high but a
good bit lower
and we’re flying through and we look
down and we start taking fire
and it was so thick it looked like water
reflecting off the water
i mean sunlight was reflecting off of
water it was just sparkles everywhere
and uh so we started yanking and banking
and got through there and we found out
there was another huey a little ways
behind us he was a lot lower
than us so we landed and uh
at i think i think it was queenon
we landed that and the place we landed
was a
little helicopter pad about halfway up
this real high hill
and uh the colonels and stuff they ran
out said
are you the guys that got shot and said
no they said stay here we’re going to
need you
about that time we heard this other
helicopter coming in and he was
and he came in and we we were about
ready to jump off that cliff
because he was coming in fast or
screaming and coming in fast i got
really really fast you know okay he
about stood it up on his tail and
flopped right down so me and a colonel
ran to one side and uh really the other
and uh a major or colonel ran to the
other side to check on the pilots
we pulled the pilot out on our side he
had a bullet just about
above his elbow he had gotten shot there
right and uh the other guy
who got had gotten shot in the foot so
it took both of them to fly the
and i thought they did a really good job
yeah right
that’s cool a guy in the back
he was messed up really really bad he’s
the rto
right and uh he was that’s
that was a that site will stick with me
for the rest of my life that was
horrible i got one
i got one for you our first patrol our
first patrol
yeah we were out of atacuchi
where the 25th division was and uh sure
enough he took some fire
called the gunship in thing must have
been i don’t know
80 feet off the ground 50 feet off to
the ground
got hit with something blew up in the
sky and crashed yeah that was crazy our
first mission
and then we had to
try to get the bodies we wanted to
recover the bodies and uh
man that was bad because walking down
the trail because
the stuff was thick and it was mucky and
you you know we had to move
and first time uh you hear
bullets go by when you
the one that you don’t hear gets you oh
yeah if you
like a like this little sound he’s
wizard bye
it was sad though yeah it was bad
because uh the chopper
burst into flames too you know so yeah
we had um
the first tour at this place called
dongdam was one of our sister
sister companies down the delta and they
we had cobras they had uh
the charlie model gunships and uh he was
on a run
one night and a friend of mine saw him
said he was coming down on the gun run
and he hit
like a wall of of uh tracers and he just
burst into a fireball and went straight
to the ground
wow that’s crazy
now two tours what made you come back
just i told the guys when i was in tanks
i wanted back in aviation
or they put me back in aviation they
happen to be going back to vietnam
ah okay so what happened with uh
your reserve unit or your well
i got out you know yeah
we got out 73 i had a 13-year break
um met my wife we got married i had a
whole bunch of different jobs
and you know there was something missing
the camaraderie i guess
right that’s what i was missing and uh i
was coaching my son’s
football team little seven and eight
year olds and one of the parents come up
and just said hey you ought to try the
national guard they’ve got
try one where prior servants can go in
for a year and see if they like it
eventually i said okay i’ll give it a
shot i went in there
and 25 years later i retired and 23 of
full-time there you go and what’d you go
in as
a buck five no it is uh they
cost me a rank i went down to e4 to come
in there
oh so you weren’t e5 you went down to e4
and then you’re up to e9
yeah wow check you out man that’s pretty
good very impressive
um tell me about your
issue with the reacclimation
process that we did not have as combat
right the from my perspective
it was wrong to take people straight out
of combat and then put them back into
the civilian world
you know they came back from vietnam
they said thank you for your service and
out the door you went
some of the guys did that um yeah and
i think that made them have a really
tough time adjusting
the ones i think that we’re lucky if you
call it that
they came back to the states and they
still had a few months or a year or
right so that kind of acclimated them a
little bit
you know but to get out of the service
and when you come into the service they
take a civilian and train them to be a
be a killer yeah but then whenever you
out of service and just you’re back to
it takes the time to reacclimate and
figure out what’s going on
because in the army or the military
your place in the organization is well
defined you know who’s above you who’s
below you
and what your duties are you get back to
the civilian world
it’s all convoluted you don’t you kind
of lost for a while till you figure out
what’s going on
yeah the uh interesting thing about that
like you said reclamation well i was
supposed to go to the 82nd
back and forth brag when i got back and
i wrote some politicians and people
and they got i got a transfer instead of
going to fort bragg i went to fort
hamilton brooklyn which was 30 miles
from my house
yeah and talk about reassigned to duty i
was put in charge of a ceremonial squad
burials oh man that went like from
one side of the coin to the other side
of the coin doing the funerals for
that i you know left just left and it
i think that actually uh somehow
perpetuated my
issues and uh yeah not good
um when i made sergeant major you
remember that move you catch me if you
yes there was a fbi agent chasing the
con man or whatever he was
right right well that fbi agent happened
to have been the
sergeant major in the army before he
went to the fbi
and uh he passed away well they called
our base
and wanted somebody to be there to
present the flag you know when he
when they were burying him so my
commander called me up and said i got a
job for you
okay i went down i was the one that um
you know took the flag it was already
folded right here by myself and i walked
up had to present it to the
uh daughter i believe
and uh you know the nation thanks you
for your
uh yeah
and uh then i turned around walked off
but that was
that was something doing that okay is
there anything else you’d like to bring
up that we haven’t talked about
with your service time in vietnam i miss
not the vietnam part but the fly yeah
um i taught crew chiefs and door gunners
in the states um every uh natural
that went on in the southeast we were at
uh hurricane katrina all the fires in uh
south georgia and and yeah
reassigned to what kind of unit over
here there’s a huge unit
um where was it based
uh this is uh georgia national guard
and um we are in a place called winder
to start with is uh just a
salt helicopter company with ues then we
got blackhawks and we changed to a
which we had like i think one flight
company with us
we moved to um this place called dobbins
air force base
and then when we were there is all these
fires coming we were
taking the baby buckets and dropping
water on the fires and doing all that
what uh so what do you like better the
ue or the blackhawk
i’ll always love the huey but the
blackhawk is a fantastic helicopter
everything they learned about
helicopters in vietnam
they corrected when they came out with
the blackhawk
and um okay so it was sophisticated
it was 30 years later though right yeah
something like that yeah
well the ue was developed in the late
50s yeah
and that black hole came out in the 80s
no no uh
i think somebody told me that uh
the first units that got him was like 79
80 somewhere around there
gotcha well okay is there anything else
let us know real quick
and we’ll uh wrap it up
uh i guess i thank you for having me on
we’re going to uh send you a book
send you one of our books and uh
i just want to thank simplified home
loans for having this
book to give you and uh welcome home
thank you very much for your information
and uh
stick around hold on a minute we’re
gonna do we’re going to do a
answers and see what we could do go
okay what do we got here airy jacobs
509th parachute rigger in-house thank
you ernie
keep jumping stand in the door brother
my brother was a ringer with the 509
mainz and wiesbaden germany how about
that for a
coincidence okay marie’s back
all right miss marie kennemur a crew
chief and door gunner
men who wear many hats there you go but
i think his best hat is on his head now
the command sergeant major hat
never thought i’d have does amen to you
brother you did great
all right what’s next matt okay kilo 19.
he has heard stories of crew chiefs
climbing all over the aircraft in flight
too guys are wild he said
yes yeah whenever you’re 19 you figure
you’re invincible or you you’re already
dead so why not do crazy stuff
what does it mean by climbing all over
the aircraft uh
one of the things they used to do
especially with the gunships
uh because the skids were closer to the
body of the aircraft
right a new pilot would be flying he’d
say hey chief whenever we land
my windshield’s dirty i need you to
clean it so he’d get out on the skid
and walk up next to the helicopter and
start washing the guy’s windshield off
in flight yeah oh my god
okay what do we got next there matt the
next question thor fireball
affair bar got out of the united states
air force i wanted to be a door gunner
went into the usmc it was a zero three
five one and securities ended up
in the sandbox doing that security
forces ended up in the sandbox
thank you gents for your story oh that’s
i guess his mos was a zero three five
one yeah and uh ended up in a sandbox
i’m not sure what that means about this
over the desert uh in o4 our unit went
uh kuwait uh for oif
oh i look at it in the sandbox okay
and we covered up to uh babylon
okay i got to walk through the ruins of
gotcha next kilo 19 these guys have
literally developed the tactics used
really what kind of tactics is he
talking about
attack helicopter attackers or assault
even when the huey’s
for our and even the ch-21s when they
first got to vietnam they didn’t have
and they learned real quick they needed
gunners well
when uh desert storm came up some genius
decided all they needed was a crew chief
on there and that was it
they found out real quick hey you know
they needed guns on here for a reason
you know that something that took 20
years for them to realize what we were
doing they need to do again
yes what do you got next one
ed what was your mos 67
november um and then whenever we got
blackhawks in those
uh 15 tangos oh gotcha good okay
and the last one is airborne from
facebook user a company first to the
101st airborne lz sally 68.69
thank you i was there 6768
okay now uh
i have one question for you though the
uh evolution of the helicopter
the tactics used the gunships
yeah what was the difference with just
the gunship just having
the rocket pods on there and the 60s or
was there
mini guns right they had many guns
the covers had a 40 millimeter 20
mini guns and rocket pods um
the charlie models and the mic model
they had rocket pods and machine guns
and they also had door gunner
when they first came out with a cobra a
lot of pilots
didn’t want to fly without the door
gunners and
so they had to create new tactics on how
to use the uh
okay gotcha well i got to tell you what
i know from my the bottom of my heart
and the guys i was with
when we saw gunships coming in we felt a
lot better and a lot more at ease
and we would kick their butts you know
what i mean lay some fire
in the hedge in the tree line they drop
you know fly right down the tree line
and blast the
area out and things like that it was
really uh very
very thank you and rewarding for us
to have you guys support well well thank
you very much
was supporting the grunts amen
thank you so much ed talk to you soon
take care okay
thank you very much for the the show
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