We have spent the summer in Barra de Navidad in Jalisco, Mexico.
I shot this footage when I wrote the last entry about the wreck of the cargo ship from Hurricane Patricia. It struck some memory from my youth so I thought I would explore it a little here.
Watch the video then read below.
The video was taken early in the morning as the helicopter approached the fuel dock area. We now jokingly call that ‘fire-base Barra’. It flew in over the lagoon with the sun and the anchored boats at its back. I could hear the sound of its rotors from two or three miles away.
I realized as I took the footage that I have been in or near the Huey helicopter since I was 17 years old. That is when I joined the Army as a volunteer and headed off to South East Asia. I am now 65 years old. This is a remarkable fact.
I have spent 48 years of my life and the Huey keeps reappearing like some totem beyond. I have seen them in combat settings in South East Asia in the late 60’s and early 70’s.
I have seen the news footage after I got home of them lifting the last people (except for the marine squad left behind) off the roof of the Saigon embassy. I watched the evening news as navy and marine personnel pushed them off the end of an aircraft carrier into the ocean because there was no more room for them to land.
I worked in Emergency Medical Services in Southern Colorado where at times the Air National Guard would fly medivac missions to the San Luis Valley in weather that civilian flight services could not fly in. We hot loaded then at night with the blades still running because of the altitude of a bit over a mile high at the local airport.
Seen them in movies like ‘Predator’, ‘We Were Soldiers’, ‘Apocalypse Now’,’Clear and Present Danger’, and ‘ The Matrix’. I have played the Ia Drang Valley battle in a simulator called Armed Assault, with a group of hard-core game players called United Operations, reenacting the battle from the movie, ‘We were Soldiers’ based on the actual battle early in the Vietnam Conflict.
The helicopter is iconic. It is now a part of a collective memory. It brings visions, dreams, nightmares, sweats, racing hearts, and smell of aviation fuel and smoke and heat from its engine.
All that was missing was the sound of 50 cals firing out the doors. Thankfully.
Makes me want to add the sound track from ‘Flight of the Valkyries.’