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Caspers in the News

By Tom Quinn, Casper Crew Chief

TOUR OF DUTY: Typical Day For A Casper Crew Chief

LAMPASAS, TX (2005) - When I first got this request from Ned, my first thoughts were how long could I pound on my chest. As I start to think of duties crewing an aircraft, I realized then that the duties of a crew chief are not all about him. It takes teamwork as in ‘Crew’ as in AC, Co-pilot, Gunner and Crew Chief. We relied upon each other having the knowledge & abilities to accomplish his part and working together overall to accomplish the mission.

My main responsibility was to maintain the aircraft in a maintenance ready status. Usual day would start getting to the aircraft at least an hour before pre-flight opening cowling up to assist with the pre-flight and doing a walk around mini-daily to see if there was anything missed on the daily inspection the evening before. (Here I need to point out that although some did not care for the pre-flights as they though it diminished their ability and integrity. To a lot more of us it was always better to have second, third, or four pair of eyes looking than one.) Cleaning and small amount of maintenance that could be done cause parts had come or had been differed for an appropriate time to complete the work. Assist the gunner in getting the weapons mounted and checked out making sure we had lots of ammo, (and beer Gotta keep a happy crew!). Then the pre-flight. First the Pilots and myself would go over the logbook to check to see what maintenance had been performed and what had been differed. The Door Gunner would go with one Pilot and with me, carrying the logbook, going with other. With the inspection done we were ready for takeoff.

There were many varied and different types’ of missions from Command & Control to hauling troops, re supplying the units out in the bush. Some could be mundane to exhilarating or to down right terror. The only one that I know we did not do was failing to accomplish any mission.

Duties while in flight were to clear the aircraft upon takeoff and landing; to watch for other aircraft; watch the instruments for any abnormalities and fluctuations; to observe what was happening around the aircraft while on the ground an in flight; to protect the aircraft and crew if necessary in using the machine gun. If we were hauling, troops and if we had time we would brief them about the aircraft and what could be expected during landing or if they may have to jump from the skid to ground. A lot of the time, this was done after boarding the bird.

On occasions we were taught how to fly by our pilots so if they were wounded we maybe able to take over the controls and have a controlled crash instead. Mr. O’Conner was the first pilot that taught me, and Mr. Morrison was to teach me how to do a test flight. Thank you, as my eyes kept me from going to flight school but it was fun and a great experience.

The success of our missions though came from all of us pulling together; as one day Shortround and I flew all day without shutting down, we came in about 1800 hrs and landed at Ghost Town but were told not to shut down as we were going out for a hot extraction. We changed pilots and took off to find this team; we were given coordinates east of the mouth to the An Loa. We spent two fuel loads looking for this LRRP team. Then we were notified that we were looking in the wrong place that they were somewhere in the Soy Cal. Changed pilots again before proceeding south. After being station for a while and running short on fuel, we went to Phu Cat and refueled. Finally we found them at 0500 we landed back at Ghost Town. The aircraft was schedule for another mission that day at 0600. After being wordy getting to my point - was that the Pilots that were done flying and the new Pilots jumped in an helped the Door Gunner and me to pull an intermediate and cleaning the guns. We made mission takeoff.

In the end it was all of us looking out and taking care of each other, even though we had our differences inside, no body outside could touch us, we were a team, a ‘Crew.’

Tom Quinn was a Casper Crew Chief and served at LZ English, Bong Son 6/69 - 12/71. He was one of the last Caspers to leave Vietnam.

Tom Quinn:

This site was last updated: 2/15/15