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AH-1G Helicopter 67-15690, A/4/77 ARA
(Narrative provided by Jimmie Ferguson)

       On 19 Jan 1972 CPT Neufeld, Michael John and WO1 Ferguson, Jimmie D. in Cobra 67-15690 while on a CCN "Command & Control North" mission, were shot down.

       The mission was to be based out of Danang, but after a mission briefing it was determined that we would be short of fuel if flown as planned. If flown out of Phu Bai we would be 15 minutes closer to the insertion point and have fifteen minutes of loiter time. On the flight from Danang to Phu Bai with a flight of five UH-1's and four AH-1's on about a six mile final to Phu Bai helicopter 67-15690, an AH-1G, sustained two .30caliber hits.

       One round struck the aircraft on the right bottom side and lodged in the 40MM drum. The second round hit both of the pitch pull tubes, center punching one and severing the second one. I heard a loud crack or pop. I knew we had taken a hit. At that time, I was flying from the front seat; the cyclic started rotating clockwise following the rotation of the blades. The collective made full stop-to-stop, up and down, movements with every rotation of the blade. A vibration started that was so violent that I couldn't see anything. I had the distinct impression that the nose of the aircraft was pointed straight up and I could feel pressure on my back, not my butt that confirmed the attitude of the aircraft. I felt as though the aircraft was going to fall over backwards and I knew if it did the aircraft would disintegrate. I was trying to move the controls but they were moving violently about. I was placing as much forward pressure on cyclic as I could muster and for a brief second I had a flicker of sight. The front battery compartment popped open and I saw a can of oil or hydraulic fluid and a rag come out and fall past the cockpit. Then the attitude of the aircraft changed to nose level then on over to nose down. At that point I started applying about half as much backward pressure as I had been applying forward. Lo and behold the aircraft slowly started leveling out again and I could once again see for a flickering of a second. To my horror we were about fifty feet off the top of a rice paddy doing about 200 knots and I could see an eighty-foot dam just ahead. I shoved the right peddle to the stop and we settled into the water and crashed, coming to rest inverted in about four feet of water. I was totally amazed that I was still alive. I heard a radio call "flight watch out for the @#$%& blades". I understand at least one of the rotor blades went through the flight.

       There were so many things running through my mind I don't know where to start first to explain the sensation. I could hear that the engine was still running. I started to shut the engine down. I could smell JP4. I knew the aircraft was going to explode any second. I was really proud of myself up to now, about how I had been so calm and cool during a hopeless situation. I realized that if I didn't get away form the aircraft I would die. Then, I undid my seat belt and panicked! The next thing I saw was the pedals. I had no idea where I was at or how to get out of the aircraft. Now the aircraft was filling fast with water. Terror was setting in as I was running out of air. I could hear CPT Neufeld moving around in the back. He was chopping his way out. I couldn't find the aircraft breakout knife. I had left my 12" Buck knife back at the camp. I couldn't find the canopy door handle. Then I thought to use my Smith & Wesson to break out the Plexiglas window, if worse comes to worse, I can shoot out the window. But I have to do it quick before CPT Neufeld gets out of the aircraft (I didn't want to shoot him). But my gun wasn't on my belt. I later found that the nylon cord that attached the holster to the belt had stretched so much that the holster and gun were hanging below my knees. At this point the front cockpit was full of water. I was searching for air in pockets. Then the bright idea came to me, or maybe I was getting desperate. If the canopy sustained any damage in the crash maybe I could punch my fist through it. I began to beat the canopy. How hard can a person hit under water? Not very hard. As I was up against the canopy getting another gasp of air, CPT Neufeld, having cut his way through the back canopy, saw I was in trouble. He later told me he couldn't understand why I hadn't just opened the canopy door. Wheeling the knife still in hand CPT Neufeld just came down on the front canopy and poked a hole in the canopy. I saw the knife go in and doubled my feet under me & put my head on the small knife hole and literally pushed my body through the quarter size hole. I came through the cockpit about the time CPT Neufeld was on his second downstroke. He stabbed me in the right forearm.

       As I came out of the cockpit a UH-1 Huey was coming to a hover to the side of the aircraft. CPT Neufeld and I moved to get on to the Huey. Neufeld helped me on first. I turned around to take his hand when he turned around and headed back toward the cobra. I asked where he was going. He said I 'm going after the LOGBOOK so we can log the landing! He returned after retrieving the logbook and was helped in the Huey. CPT Neufeld moved over to where I was setting and started pulling at my shirtsleeve and said how bad did I stab you? When I got my shirtsleeve up and saw the stab wound I imagine that I turned two shades of white. The reason for this goes back some time...I have always kept a very sharp 12 Inch BUCK knife at hand. CPT Neufeld would watch me sharpen this knife from time to time. On several occasions I had offered to sharpen and oil his U.S. issued survival knife. CPT Neufeld would take his dull, pitted, rusted, poor excuse for a knife and make the same statement: "Don't even think of sharpening or oiling my knife, one of these days I might have to use it on a DINK. I want him to die a slow agonizing death of lockjaw and ptomaine.

       Here's Randy Tucker's addition to this incident

       I was reading Jimmy Ferguson's story of January 19, 1972 and AH-1G Helicopter 67-15690, A/4/77 ARA. I was the Aircraft Commander in the "slick lead" bird of the Robinhood (173 AHC) that joined with our 4/77 brethren for that CCN mission. We thought that 690 had a cyclic hardover in aft quadrant. The bullet holes explain his dilemma a little better. The AC did a tremendous job of controlling his A/C. He was flying level at 500 AGL out my left door then suddenly climbed almost vertically to 1000 ft then his A/C hammerhead'd, he kicked pedal and started an accelerated dive toward the ground. My pilot and I thought he was diving on a sampan below, later we heard he had had a hardover. He started a tremendous pitch pull at 100 AGL with blades coning, looking like a badminton birdie and at 50 ft his rotorhead separated. My flight was at 500 AGL and when 690's head separated it climbed to at least 750 AGL and flew about a minute before it lost energy and settled into the rice paddies. My flight scattered (Probably my voice Jimmy heard) and my trail bird and I responded to the crash landing on either side of the Cobra. The AC had freed his front seat (Jimmy Ferguson) and was dancing and clapping hands in chest deep water. Our trail bird picked them up and flew them to Phu Bai. I reassembled my flight and proceeded to the CCN ramp at Phu Bai. Looking back on all that happened, the Aircraft Commander did everything correctly. He was fully armed and fueled. He also had one great Guardian Angel flying with him that day. Thanks for stirring the memories. Very Respectfully, Randy Tucker, Robinhood 22.