I was in the early part of the Vietnam War, arriving in 1966. The helicopter war was still rather new and the army was still learning the best way of doing things. I can only speak for when I was there. When I left, for all I really know, they could have been using flying saucers.


Other than we all wore green uniforms, there was no real set rules of doing things- every chopper unit had it's own standard operating procedures (within reason, of course). I'm here to tell you the basics, and how we did things on the Longhorns and in the 1st Infantry Division.



I flew on the Iroquois UH-1D, more commonly known as the Huey UH-1D. There were two types of Huey ships- "slicks" and "gunships". I was on a slick.


The slick was a general-purpose ship, such as troop transport, firefight support, supplies, rescue, medevac, command, etc.

2 pilots, an aircraft commander and pilot

2 gunners, one of which was the crew chief

2 M60 7.62 NATO machine guns, total rounds carried 800-2,000


The gunship was the same ship but was very heavily armed, and obiviously used soley for combat and combat support.

2 pilots, an aircraft commander and pilot

2 gunners, one of which was the crew chief

2 M60 7.62 NATO machine guns for the gunners

4 M60 7.62 NATO machines mounted externally and controlled by the pilots.

2 rocket pods, one on each side of the chopper, each holding 12-20 rockets and controlled by the pilots.

I don't know how much M60 ammo they carried, but there was no room for passengers- the cabin was all ammo.



Here's the specs for a basic Huey UH-1D:

Length: 57' 1"

Weight: 4,900 lbs.

Carry Load: 3,600 lbs.

Cruising Speed: 130 mph

Range (loaded): 260 miles

Service Ceiling: 19,000 ft.



For most of our gunners the M60 machine guns were pintle mounted. Other units would use the same or use a bungee cord or even hold the gun freehand. Later in the war, I think 1968, some ships were armed with mini-guns.



2,709 Americans died in the Huey during the Vietnam war.

I saw a YouTube video once that told the story of how chopper gunners did their jobs in Vietnam. I had a slight chuckle. Folks don't realize that most of what they stated was not hard, dyed-in-the-wool procedures. Yes, we all followed many basics but otherwise each unit had it's own way of doing things. I'll give you a silly little example: in this video it stated that gunners would remove the barrels of their M60 machine guns when they flew into a base camp. Damn! We never did that- ever! My gun was put on safety and locked down in the 6 o'clock position when we flew into a base camp, but other than that, it was ready to fire. Removing the barrel would just seem stupid to us.


OUCH! I stand corrected about the year mini-guns were used on Hueys. I was recently sent an informative email from fellow Vietnam vet, P/5 my George Gardiner, crew chief in the 1/4 Cav (the Mustangs). He wrote:


"I have been looking at your web site. Awesome very factual. So many sites exaggerate or are short of info. Just a bit of update for you, as I said I arrived incountry Aug 66 so we are peers. I flew in a B Model Slick which had gun mounts installed but missing guns. 6 weeks later they installed the original m-60s and 7 round rocket pods. Jan 67 we put 2 50 Cal guns on, these were fun. As you said each outfit played there own way. Well the vibration was cracking the mounts we had made. So around mid Feb 67 my ship went down for maint and at this time we were fitted with the latest and greatest new rocket tubes and the new mini gun system. I mention all this because you thougt the mini came along much later. Awesome sound sitting over them when they let loose. Great talking to someone who can relate to our past."

© 2021 Rick Incrocci, Longhorn 77 Lai Khe South Vietnam. Send me an email at: reincrocci@gmail.com. I'd love to hear from you.