The following text describing the battle damage to the Cobra helicopter 67-15475 was provided by Thomas J. Whelan who served with the 173rd airborne in Vietnam. Tom has also written a book about his experiences as an airborne trooper entitled “A Knights Journey into Shangri-La”.
27 July, 1969
6 February, 1970
15 April 1970
13 July, 1970
19 January, 1971
6 July, 1971
July – December, 1971
2 August, 2005
Al Wikoff, a high ranked member of The Veteran’s Memorial Park commission of Dixon, recently announced that our Cobra Gunship had served and survived the Vietnam War. She has been shot down five times by hostile enemy fire, and that she allowed the pilot, and weapons officers to survive its crash each time, taking the brunt of the force against her.
She arrived in South Vietnam in March of 1967 with “zero time” on her. AH-1F, serial number 67-15475, was then issued to the 7th squadron of the 1st Cavalry, who were then in and around An Khe, in the Central Highlands of South Vietnam, at this time. Its first Operational damage occurred on July 27th, 1969 after newly installed primary weapons subsystem malfunctioned during a mission. At this time, she had been flown for 1142 hours. The first battle incident came in February 6th of 1970, when she had been shot down by heavy enemy ground fire, as she giving armed escort to medivac helicopters. Both pilots were wounded during this action. The amount of time on her was then 1792 hours.
The second incident causing damage to her came on the 15th of April 1970, when she was providing direct fire support to an Infantry element of the 1st Cavalry. She had 1954 flight hours on her. The third downing came on the 13th of July 1970 when she was providing support for a heavily armed escort mission. Again, heavy small arms fire brought her down having flown 2092 hours.
The fourth damage incident came on the 19th of January 1971 providing direct escort protection to ground soldiers, receiving heavy damage by hostile fire from enemy forces. Combat hours flown was 2471. The fifth and final combat damage was sustained on the 6th of July 1971 as again heavy ground fire was received to her as she was on a heavily armed escort mission, with 2745 combat flight hours on her. She was still flying with 3/17 Cavalry “C” troop for 3127 hours until December of 1971. The US Navy acquired her in their Maintenance Group who brought her back home to their Naval Air Station in St. Louis, Mo.
In 1972, she was taken to Hawaii and was issued to the infamous 25th Infantry Division ¾ Cavalry Unit, Schofield Barracks. The history of 67-15475, Cobra Helicopter Gunship goes on and one for this is very seldom ever heard of, or even done, when an aircraft of this type would comeback from a war; especially the Nam since we handed over all American equipment to the South Vietnamese before we left their country.
This aircraft should be kept in the Archives of the United States, as it hosts the sacred blood of American Soldiers in her and she has saved hundreds of men’s lives. Like the lady that she is, she truly is magnetic. She definitely draws you nearer to her. Lord God…what an honor it is to have her in Dixon.
T.J. Whelan - Dixon
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