Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A World Away from Vietnam

Loading HH-43B Kaman Huskie onto C-124 for trip to South East Asia

Port Townsend, today. On Memorial Day, I related the loss of a buddy in Vietnam, A1C William Pitsenbarger.

The pilot of the HH-43B Kaman Huskie, nicknamed with a “Pedro” call sign, was a fellow by the name of Harold (Hal) Salem. As Rescue Crew Commander (RCC) Captain Salem determined the safety of a rescue mission and often had to make life and death decisions to protect his crew and aircraft.

“Pits” Pitsenbarger was ferried into the combat zone by Captain Salem, RCC of “Pedro 97.” And Captain Salem had to leave Pits on the ground, under withering enemy fire.

And it was RCC Captain Salem who returned with Pedro 97 the following morning, discovering the carnage inflicted during the night.

Upon completion of his Temporary Duty in Vietnam, Captain Salem was assigned to us at the Western Air Rescue Center as our Flying Safety Officer. And we became great friends.

As a member of the inspection team, I accompanied our officers on routine inspections of our 13 detachments located in the eight western states. Whenever possible, we flew on military aircraft, which required fitting a parachute! Great confidence builder!

And here is Captain Salem relaxing at the pool in Albuquerque New Mexico, where we were inspecting Detachment 3, Kirtland Air Force Base. A world away from Vietnam.

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