61st Assault Helicopter Company

November,75th Rangers

John Robinson

The Rangers at L.Z. English were a pretty tight knit group. They stayed to themselves, didn’t bother too many people, and in return asked that people who weren’t invited into their compound stay the hell out. We worked with them a lot, and although we had a good rapport, we kept our distance. After Gayle Crowell yanked one of their teams out of a very tight situation we were thanked but didn’t expect any reward. Needless to say we were pleasantly surprised when their C.O. told us that, “Because you guys are f!@%*& idiots and crazy too, we want you to come to our 4th of July party.” Now, you don’t take an invitation to a Ranger Party lightly, they hardly let anyone outside their group attend, so we were more than happy to accept.

The party started at 1600, so by 1630 all of us that weren’t flying were over there, getting started on a buzz. We stayed in the background, and for the first hour or so things were very nice, but pretty sedate for the infamous “Rangers”. We sat around drinking beer and an alcoholic concoction they had in a large vat. I had one drink of their “Joy Juice” and it was nothing like Macko’s. I think the recipe was 12 parts of any booze you can find, 2 or 3 parts juice, and fill to the brim with urine. It had a very unappealing taste, so most of us went back to beer.

At about 1800 steaks were served with real baked potatoes and butter too. What a feast, it was like dying and going to heaven! To the east the cumulous clouds were beginning their early evening buildup, meaning that within a few hours we would be drenched by thunderstorms and get soaked by torrential rains. Most of us welcomed the rains, since they cooled us off and after they departed the dryer air was a relief.

The mandatory porno films were brought out in our honor, and we were all eyes. The normal comments and jokes were spread about, making the show even better. The reel broke a few times, a normal occurrence, beer cans were thrown at the screen and the projectionist, also normal for the occasion. More beer was passed around and by now we’re on the way to a real buzz. About this time the rain, lightning, and thunder arrive, but no one notices. There’s a girl taking on three guys in ways most of us had never dreamed of. We’re totally engrossed in this academy award performance when, on cue, two or three rangers enter the hall and cool us off by throwing buckets of water in our direction.

“MUD FIGHT” one of the rangers yells, and the movie is shut off. People start running for the exits and start grabbing anything that will hold water. We’re unsure of what to do, until some ranger tells us that we’d better get some buckets, because nobody is exempt and we’re going to get muddy. Out the door we go, into the lighting, thunder, and rain, and we’re immediately met by a couple of buckets of mud.

“Well f@#% this,” yells Brightman and within a minute he’s back with a couple of buckets for us to defend ourselves with. WE scoop up some dirt and water and mix it up, stones and all. We then slink around, hiding by buildings, peeking around corners, trying to ambush any dumbass that shows his face. WE turn a corner, buckets in hand, but there’s no one to be had. Brad tells me to stay put and he runs off. A short time later he’s back with a fresh supply of courage, three beers apiece. Since we can’t find them, we decide to stay put and let them find us. We start chugging the beer, and when the urge comes we piss into the buckets to give our mud the proper consistency. We can hear the fight going full force but decide to stay put and let the “Battle” come to us. It’s still raining like hell, but at least we’re only semi muddy.

Brad goes off for more beer, comes back with a fresh supply, and we continue our perimeter defense. After finishing our beer we decide to once again stalk our prey. Off we go, two drunks stumbling through the rain, mud bucket in one hand, beer in the other, just looking for someone to unload on.

As we round a building the world unloads on our sorry asses. Mud from the left, mud from the right, it’s everywhere! We try to fight back, throw a bucket, reload as best we can, and throw again. There’s a 55-gallon fire barrel and I scoop some water out of it to mix with some dirt. We reload from the barrel several times, but the bombardment is overwhelming and we’re finally mudded into submission. A cease-fire is declared and we all retreat back into the hall where we reload on beer while the projectionist gets “Blown With The Wind” started again. As we watch the exciting climax of the movie, someone notices that along with the mud, empty beer cans and junk strewn around the hall, there are some pretty good traces of blood. We check ourselves out and surer than Stink on shit I’ve got a pretty good-sized gash on my left hand. We decide that I better have it looked at, but it can wait until the end of the movie. We drink more beer, watch the end of the movie, and finally seek out “Doc” the ranger medic who’s most likely the drunkest guy in the compound. I find Doc and asked the obvious question,

“Doc, will I need stitches?”

“How the hell do I know, I ain’t no f@#%&* doctor, but if I was I’d probably have it cleaned out and stitched up”.

Brad, or Willer, or somebody picks up some more beer, steals a jeep, and off we go to the L.Z. English hospital so someone sober can take a look at the cut. There’s no question that it’s going to take stitches, so we’re all betting on how many will be required to close the thing up. We must have looked really cute, a jeep full of drunks bouncing down the road, our flight suites covered in mud, and me with generous splotches of blood just for color contrast.

Unknown to us also traveling to the hospital were eight other people who were in much worse shape than we ever dreamed of being. They were in a slick that had gotten caught in the thunderstorm and crashed while trying to land at English. Sitting on the ground during one of these storms is bad enough, but being in a helicopter in a full blown thunderstorm is absolute terror. Winds of 30 MPH plus, with gusts to 60 or 70, not to mention the rain that completely obliterates all visibility, and thrown in for good measure the lightning and thunder, the only thing a pilot can do is try and get the ship to the ground with some semblance of control. Well, they tried but they came up short, and the aircraft rolled in just short of the active. Nobody was killed, but coming in to the hospital were some pretty messed up people. So the stage is set, and what followed was something out of a black comedy.

Whoever was driving parks the jeep by the entrance and I get out and stagger into the hospital. As soon as I get in the door a medic grabs me.

“One of the pilots” he says, “he’s really bloody, get him on a table.”

They carry me to a table, lay me on my back, and start cutting the flight suit off my body with some huge looking scissors. This gets me a little angry, I’ve just had patches sewn on the damn’d thing.

“Hey dingalings, I cut my hand, that’s all that’s wrong with me,” this as I’m trying to sit up and get the people with the cutters away from me.

“Lay down sir, you’ve been through a lot and we’re just trying to see where else you might be hurt.”

“My hand is hurt, now stop your damn’d cutting.” By this time my flight suit is in shreds on the floor, and they’re starting to cut off my underwear. Enough is enough!

“God Damn’d Assholes, it’s my hand that’s hurt not my balls, now fix my f@$%*& hand and let me out of this place.”

I must have slurred my words just a little, because they talked about me starting to go into shock, and what type of shot they were going to give me to calm me down. So there I am, stark naked on a table, and these guys are going to drug up a drunk. Great, just great!

At this point a doctor comes over and in a firm bedside manner says, “O.K. lieutenant I’m going to examine you, and then the medic is going to follow up. You cooperate, and don’t give anyone any more static, understood!”

He starts examining me and the assistant shoves a thermometer in my mouth. Move this, move that, does that hurt, does this cause you any pain, does it hurt to move this? All in all, a bunch of bullshit for one lousy little cut.

“This pilot is in pretty good shape, considering the other one has a concussion and fractures of his left arm” He states this matter of factly to the corpsman next to him.

(Boy, it must have been one heel of a fight after I left, I’m thinking.)

One of the medics comes over with a questionnaire I’m supposed to answer.

“Name, rank, unit of assignment,” the normal stuff. Then he comes up with the kicker.

“Do you remember anything about the crash?”

“What crash?”

“The crash you were just in.”

“I wasn’t in any f@#%*& crash, I’ve been at a party over at 75th Rangers.”

This threw the guy for a loop, and he went off to confer with the sadists that had cut off my clothes, leaving my puny little body lying naked on a table with just a midget towel to cover my dignity. He comes back a few minutes later and starts in again.

“You say you were at a party tonight, not flying?”

“You’re damned right I was at a party, who in their right mind would be flying in this shit. Now what crash are you talking about?”

“The slick that went down a mile north of here, you’re saying that you weren’t one of the pilots?”

“For the twentieth time, NO!”

“Then how did you do in you hand?”

“I’ve been telling you guys for an hour, I cut it in a mud fight.”

With this the guy gets the brilliant idea to count the pilots. Usually there are only two on a Huey, so if I come up extra, then my story will finally be believed. After an eternity passes, the medic comes back, and the look of enlightenment on his face shows that he has unraveled one of the great mysteries of the universe.

“You were right sir.”

“I know that, now when are you going to sew up my hand?”

“After we take care of the people in the crash, they’re in much worse shape than you are.”

“Can someone get a hold of my unit and have somebody bring me some clothes?”

“Oh sure, no problem sir.”

“Great, now are there any more questions on that form?”

“Oh no sir, I’ve torn that form up.”


“Because, that was for your Purple Heart.”

The postscript to this little story is:

  1. I didn’t get a Purple Heart.
  2. After awhile, the medics finally cleaned me up, and the hand was stitched.
  3. I lost the stitches bet, but I forget who won.
  4. Someone from the unit finally brought me some clothes, so I didn’t have to go home dressed in a towel. But it wasn’t Willer or Brad, as soon as they dropped me off they went back to the party and continued celebrating.