Saturday, August 22, 2009
I just spoke with Terry Curry who was also at the Base Leg Crash, and who saved Davis' life. He said he had also pulled my dad out of the burning chopper, which was news to me. I am waiting to hear back from Davis: did Curry save my dad's life also? Wow and more wow.
This is the first time I have seen your complete blog. I have found it through footnotes and read a few entries. You are doing a great job in your support of the survivors. It sounds like all the questions we had about your Dad's heroism in Vietnam has been answered through this last communication with Mr. Davis. It was helpful for him to talk with you I am sure. It is interesting to read your initial blog in 2006 inquiring about your Dad to your 2009 information updating all on the support that can be obtained from various entities. Keep up the good work. Personally I am so happy that you are finally getting answers to the burning questions about your Dad. As for me, I still shake with emotion when I read the "real truth." I prefer to remember your Dad as a skinny 17 year old walking three miles in all kinds of weather to court me; as a 26 year old proud pilot with his shiny new wings after he graduated second in his pilot training class 57-O in Bartow, Fl; his terrific sense of humor. Even when he made me angry I would always laugh at his comeback; his ability to make friends. Everyone liked Bob even though at times he could be a real bear; the tenderness he showed with his babies; his toughness as a father; but most of all, I am so sorry that you girls did not get the opportunity to know a "real man" whose approach to life was never comprising his values or beliefs and whose intelligence and strength of character still support me today. I am so thankful that I have made peace with those events from 1969-1971 and can appreciate Bob's heroism and the many lives he saved and touched during those years. I know he is thanking me for letting him rest finally. Again keep up the good work in your support for the children. Love Mom
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Bob Davis was the crew’s Chief Mechanic on the Huey chopper Base Leg Crash about 1 mile outside of Ban Me Thuot. Four crewmen were on board: Bob Swenck (pilot), his co-pilot, Kline (gunner) and Bob Davis (mechanic). A severe engine compression stall occurred when chopper was 300ft above ground. Swenck could not establish auto-rotation, so chopper landed on right skid, the skid failed, and the chopper fell over on its side. Rotors hit the ground, and the chopper burst into flames. Davis was trapped inside, the door overhang metal had pushed onto his helmet, smashing it onto his head just below his ears and he was stuck, unable to get his head out of the helmet. 12,000 rounds of ammo was stored in cans right next to 240 gallons of JP jet fuel, near Davis. (The Hueys had jet engines which were very susceptible to debris getting into the engines.) 8 choppers had been lifting off at the time, (4 Army and 4 Air Force) and all returned to location to help downed chopper. Pilots had to stay with running choppers, so 3 or 4 men from each chopper ran toward the one down, a total of around 12-15 men. Swenck initiated and organized the rescue. The men attempted to lift the chopper, but their first attempt failed. Upon second attempt, as Terry Curry climbed inside to release Davis’ gunner belt and helmet, they were able to lift the debris just enough to free him. As Curry was cutting his belt, ammo was already starting to pop off. Curry got Davis out from under door metal and through overhead green window above pilot seat and dragged Davis across ground to safety. 15-20 seconds later the whole wreck blew up sky high. All men were running as fast as they could away from the burning chopper. The only injury was gunner Kline who got some shrapnel in his leg. He was sent home and was not heard from again.
Davis spent the night in the hospital, on a cot with one blanket. The hospital was underground, and he saw one doctor all night long as he lay there. Some crew members came next day to take him back to base location. Alphonso (R.T.), Davis’ good friend, came up to him and with a mock sad face said, “I screwed up. I could have used my safety saw to cut your head off and save your body!” Davis did not fly any more missions after that, staying on ground duty. When I asked him if he was hurt at all, he said, “I hurt my pride and got a couple of marks on my neck where the ballistic helmet pinched it.” And then he said, “Vietnam was the highlight of my life, but I never talked about it until recently.” He also told me “Your dad was one of the finest pilots I ever flew with, in over 200 missions. When you looked at the flight manifest and saw his name, you knew you were with one of the best.” Swenck received an Airman’s Medal for Valor for his actions that day.