An Artillery Aerial Observer's
Most Vicious Six Weeks of the War
By Thomas Murray

In early 1971 the ARVN made a major effort to interdict the trail west of Khe Sanh. US ground troops kept out of Laos but the air support was massive. I lived in bunkers along the air strip for six weeks. It was the most vicious six weeks that I spent in the war. I was shot down in Laos in a Huey. Both pilots were badly hit. One door gunner died the other was really chopped up. The Sundowners loaned me to a Air Cav unit that was brought up from III Corps. They had no idea how to handle the enemy activity and lost most of their OH6A helicopters in the first week. The Cobras worked without them from that point on.

We got shot down trying to rescue to Air Force Pilots who were shot down making a run on NVA tanks, if you can believe that. The NVA artillery and rockets were very heavy all night while we slept at Khe Sanh.

I was shot down three times but Feb 25, 1971, is a day that is still very vivid in my mind. Thank God the medivac got their before the NVA.

The Major in charge of the Sundowners at the time was difficult to deal with. He didn't always have our lives at the top of the list of priorities. I didn't mind risking my life but I was real happy when someone else volunteered my life.

Tom Murray