Recorded Audio From a Helicopter Rescue Mission During the Vietnam War
Mark Garrison flew hundreds of missions for the 119th Assault Helicopter Company during the Vietnam War. One day, a fellow veteran pilot contacted him to share audio from a mission they’d flown together—but it wasn’t just any old recording. It was one of the day Garrison’s helicopter almost got shot down.
Garrison’s helicopter was among a group that flew directly into enemy fire to aid infantrymen on the ground, who had been surrounded by 2,000 North Vietnamese Army troops on March 30, 1969. Racing to the battle in Plei Trap Valley, the group defied orders to stand down.
With the help of his son, Garrison made a video using the audio shared with him by that other pilot on the mission. The account, while just under three minutes, is nothing short of riveting. At one point, Garrison (going by the call-sign “Pigpen”) is hit with a barrage of enemy fire and his audio cuts out only to have the intrepid pilot return to the fold a few moments later. When his compatriots ask how he’s holding up, Garrison coolly responds: “Other than being on fire for a little while back there …” Listen to the full account with the video below.
Described in his book Guts ‘n Gunships, Garrison’s extraction mission wasn’t the only act of bravery performed by the pilot during his service in ‘Nam. The pilot was awarded 25 Air Medals, four Bronze Stars, and the Distinguished Flying Cross, among other accolades. For more info on Garrison, you can read a Reddit AMA with him here. There’s also a full recording of his mission posted on SoundCloud here.
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