OH-6 Experiences
By Leon Skeen

NOTE: Leon Skeen was an OH-6 helicopter pilot who flew for the heavy artillery units in the I Corp and DMZ area of Vietnam.


One day when I was a newbee, my S3 and I were in the A Shaw Valley looking for targets. Before I knew it, he had directed me 30 miles into Laos. I didn't know it until later that day. It makes cold chills run over me now when I think about it.

On another occasion one of our own 8 inch howitzers fired about 50 yards from me while I was flying near FSB Birmingham. Luckily, I was hovering down on the Perfume river and the shell exploded up on the bank. All the shrapnel went above me but I got a good taste of the concussion along with lots of dirt and grass. From that day forward, I didn't fool around after I got clearance from Division Artillery, and I went straight from point A to point B.

It didn't take me long to learn my way around the artillery. I had a great S3 (not the one that got me into Laos) named Maj. Ronald Cox. He taught me that when 105's were going to fire, they would pop a WP (white phosphorous) round over the target to warn aircraft that the rounds would be arriving. About 50% of the time when we were doing registrations, some dummy in a slick (UH-1) would forget to call Divarty and would fly through my gun-target line or over the target. I started carrying a WP grenade to pop if I saw one coming. One day I was doing a 8 inch registration when I saw a Huey low leveling straight for the stream junction that we were using. The FDC had just called "Shot over" and I figured he was a goner. I popped the WP and he didn't even flinch. He was about 150 yards from the explosion directly off his nose. He almost crashed trying to change directions but flew on like nothing had happened. He was lucky.

Another time I landed my OH-6 on Eagles Nest (a high pinnacle on the mountain top at A Shaw Valley). The front of the skids was hanging over the west side and the rear of the skids was off the east side -- just enough room on that pinnacle for the passenger to get out and walk away from the aircraft. That in itself is not so bad but when you consider that the airspeed indicator was indicating 60 knots while I was on the ground. That was hairy.