I remember Christmas of 1970. I was stationed at Phouc Vinh, South Vietnam with C. Company, 227th Assault Helicopter Bn, 11th Combat Aviation Group, 1st Cavalry Division.
On Christmas eve I went to midnight mass and then down to our flight line. Since I was slated to fly on Christmas day, We thought it best to preflight our UH-1H aircraft the night before so that we could sleep in a bit on Christmas morning. When we arrived at the aircraft our crew chief and door gunner had already loaded up the M-60 machine guns with belts of ammo and were ready to go.
Our mission on Christmas was to fly resupply for units of the 2nd Bn, 7th Cav. We took off at 0800 and headed north for the Special Forces camp at Song Be where we could stop to top off our fuel tanks for what we knew would be a long day. After refueling, we headed out to Fire Support Base 11 Bravo. At the FSB we got our coffee and sat on sandbags while we got a mission briefing from the black hats (load masters). We would be hauling Christmas dinners in mirmite cans, along with mail and ammunition out to the small units which provided the perimeter security for the FSB. These guys were dirty, grubby, and looked miserable (at least to aviators) but we could tell that they were elated to see us with the turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, and pumpkin pie we were bringing in. We flew 5 or 6 sorties out to the troops without a break. We then returned to Song Be for more fuel then headed for FSB Dragonshead. When we got to Dragonshead we shut our aircraft down and had a quick bite of the turkey and fixins while we received another mission briefing. Then, instead of the customary afternoon nap we'd have taken back home, we flew 6 more sorties to the troops around Dragonshead. Again, these guys were really happy to see us and thanked us for the great support. Talk about job satisfaction! When we finally arrived back at our base camp just before dark, we had been gone over 12 hours and had logged more than 10 hours of flying time. We were really exhausted but my crew and I couldn't have asked for a better day. It's one Christmas I'll never forget.
What a cool thing you did for those guys. You provided a piece of home in a place unlike what they knew. That had to make you feel like a million bucks! I am sure they remember what you did as their favortie Christmas story. Thanks for sharing.