Door Gunner

The 560th volunteer door gunners began in 1963 and ended in late 1966.  Officially 437 Air Medals were awarded to company personnel, however, more were earned than awarded.  In the beginning some personnel flew full time but most flew on their free time or when needed.  MP door gunners saw a lot of changes in door gun technology.  Beginning with M-2 carbines and standing on the skid with a safety strap leading back to the cargo cabin, to side door mounted M-60 machine guns with the gunner and crew chief seated on the outside seats of cargo cabin (B model Huey).  Below George Moll of the 560th relates some of his experiences when he served as a volunteer door gunner in 1963 with the 114th Avn. Co., Vinh Long.  This excerpt is from the 114th Avn. Co. history book, Knights over the Delta, Steve Stibbens, Editor.


There I was, nineteen years old, living in downtown Saigon in an air conditioned hotel, eating at a Navy mess.  Worked every day, played every night.  I couldn't stand it.  I volunteered to go down to Vinh Long as a gunner and I wouldn't change the experience for nothing.  When we got into a danger situation, we were too busy to get scared.  When it was over, there was no need to get scared.

     First time I flew, it did kind of scare me.  It was a night scramble.  What we did was just high tail it to the first 'chopper available.'  I jumped into a slick and we picked up troops.  Man, the whole sky was lit up with tracers and here we are right over the treetops going into this village.  And there I am, like a fool standing out there on the skids, looking at all these tracers.  I thought "What the hell am I doing here."

     Gunnery training meant flying down the river shooting at milk jugs.  It was pretty easy but gunners had to shoot left handed, being on the right side of the aircraft.  We Started out with M-2 carbines, and then we changed to AR-15s.  They took us down to the range and let us shoot 'em.  Then about two weeks later, we got brand new M-14s and they were the biggest pile of junk.  Dammed thing jammed on me three times one day when we jumped three VC battalions.  Two guys in khaki uniforms with sidearms came up.  I thought, 'Man, they're going to be easy targets.'  I pulled the trigger and nothing happened.  The bolt was not even touching the shells and I couldn't pry it out.  I tried shooting with my pistol, and then I grabbed the M-2 carbine from the Vietnamese observer.  Had to fight him over it.  It was loaded with ball ammo, no tracers, and I couldn't tell where the bullets were going.

     When we got back from that, I went down to the arms room and found enough parts for the aircraft mounted guns to put together a M-60 machine gun.  We found a ground kit with the shoulder stock and stuff.  Man, I really enjoyed that.  And everybody started switching to M-60s.

George Moll