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The Fourth of July celebrates the signing of The Declaration of Independence, but it is also a time for us to remember those who have helped to keep The United States of America free.  David L. Casey is one of those who fought in the service of his country. The following is his account of a combat experience in Vietnam.

“I was on a mission with the 118th Assault Helicopter Company in September of 1967. I was a medic but the only place I felt a medic could be functional with a flight of helicopters was being with them and sitting behind a machine gun. So I was a doorgunner/medic. I had to use the machine gun on plenty of occasions. The guys felt more secure with me there. We were carrying ARVNs (Army of the Republic of Vietnam) from one landing zone (LZ) to another while they were searching for the enemy.

“It was about 5 p.m. when they called us to pick them up. We started our descent into the LZ with a Stagger Left Formation. When the lead ship was about 10 feet above the ground we started receiving heavy enemy fire. I could see the bullets and RPG’s flying as we landed. I was the inside gunner and had to hold my fire as the ARVN’s tried to get on our ships. They weren’t able to get on because every time they tried they were shot and fell to the ground. While they were laying on the ground I spotted an enemy close to the ship across from me. The other ship was unable to fire on him due to it’s position. I fired my machine gun to give them protection. While I was doing this I could hear over the helmet headset that my crew-chief had been shot in the arm. He told me to hold my position and that he would be OK. Then I heard the peter pilot (Co-pilot) say they’re firing an RPG at us. The RPG hit the skid and exploded wounding the co-pilot in the legs and abdomen below his chicken plate. I was told to still hold because we were going to lift off. We started to lift off and I saw an NVA soldier taking aim at me as we were starting to fly. I brought my machine gun around as much as I could while still firing. My ammo ran out and I could see him smiling. I was telling the pilot ‘break left, break left!’ and as he did the NVA fired and put three bullet holes under my seat into the fuel cell area, which didn’t come through the floor. We were unable to fly any further than Cu Chi because our chopper had taken fo many hits and we had wounded to get to the hospital.

“When we got to Cu Chi I took the co-pilot out of the chopper and put him on a hospital gurney, then I got my crew-chief into the ER. After all this we finally had a chance to look over the aircraft. Not only did I have bullet holes under me, but all the way from the tail boom right next to me on my right side. I knew then that God had something for me to do. At the time I didn’t know what that was, but I was truly grateful to Him. My aircraft commander (AC) had nominated me for a Bronze Star with Vdevice and Air Medal with Vdevice. The Vdevice stands for Valor. When the 145th CAB commander heard about me he was upset and talked to my battalion surgeon. The contention was that a Medic wasn’t supposed to man a gun, but to stay away from combat. My battalion surgeon told me if I took the awards I wouldn’t fly again. I decided I would rather be there for the guys than to get the medals.” (MSS 2350 no. 1351)

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