No Man Left Behind Part 2

Pat Bieneman 1968-69


On December 29, 1968 a chopper went down. The Blues were called out to secure the chopper and extract the crew. As we drew closer to the site, word was passed around that the chopper had caught fire and that there were no survivors.

When we got there the chopper was still in flames and there were three bodies in the middle of the fire. We had to put it out before we could remove the bodies. First we called up and had all choppers in the area send down there fire extinguishers. We used them until they ran out. Then we poured our canteens on the flames. Finally we peed on the rest of the flames.

The bodies were burnt beyond recognition. The bodies bags were brought up. We took the first body and did what was necessary to get him into the bag. It was only when we reached the second body that we found out who had been in the chopper. As we started to move the second body out of the hot spot someone saw a dog tag in the middle of his chest. It read "Kingman, David". I still have tears come to my eyes today as I remember this. 1LT David Kingman and his crew was ours. We had just eaten a steak and drank a beer with them the night before. We finished getting the third man and left.

Losing anyone in combat is a traumatic event. We Blues accomplished our mission that day. But for many of us that mission was the worst one we encountered. I guess it was because we had partied with them the night before.