SAVING DUSTY CYANIDE(14 April 1972)Armed and ready now. No time for checklists.Cleared by tower, ‘Good hunting, Panthers’.And off we go, into the now setting sun.We are Third Platoon, a heavy flight of three.Turning north along the Redball,Torque power inched close to redline,Gauges holding steady in the green.Climbing now, radio checks complete.Daylight nearly gone it seems,And weather closing in,But we hurry on towards Charlie,Hoping to get there in time.11th Battalion troopers in a desperate fight.Dusty and friends in one helluva tight spot.And North Vietnamese Army Regulars,Positioned to make it a rough night.Inside our deadly cocoons - mostly silent,Except for muffled, churning rotors spinning,And the piercing, steady screamOf our ever trusty Lycomings.‘Dusty Cyanide, it's Panther one-three,Heavy team approaching your position.We have rockets, 40 mike mike and minigunHeard you might need a little bit of help’.‘Panther, Dusty Cyanide, welcome back, my friend.We are now under heavy ground assault;Taking many casualties, we must retreat or die.Fire your rockets deadly close to our position’.But darkness has surely fallen now,And clouds block all heavenly glow.Lord, there is just no way of knowingFriendly from enemy down below.‘Just fire a pair, Panther, and I will adjust’.‘Very well, here ya go Dusty’, as I squeeze off a shot,Launching rockets away with a fiery whoosh,And a silent prayer that they find the right spot.‘Panther one three, Dusty Cyanide, that's perfect!Keep firing! Keep firing! Just keep it coming!’.Whether unseen Godly hand or just plain luck,For now no matter - Major Duffy is happy.‘Panther flight, Panther lead, shoot on me’.And so our deadly flight of airborne armor,Rain hellfire laced with brimstone,Into the inky darkness below.And Dusty with his comradesFade into the jungle night,Hurrying away from Firebase Charlie,Given another chance to fight.
October 12, 2008
Thank you for participating in the FAC Memorial Dedication on October 3rd, 2008. Your Requiem was EXACTLY the touch and sentiment we wanted for this occasion. I couldn't stop from crying when you read it but I was not alone. This is a quote from one of the Honored Family members about what his son said: "He said it was really something sitting there with all of those old guys. He thought the old guy next to him had a cold because he kept sniffling. He said he looked over at him and he had a big tear running down his cheek as well. So he looked around and all of those old guys were crying. He went on to say it was the most impressive thing he had ever seen or been a part of."
You will be remembered by the Poem which you allowed us to put on the bench. It is a poem about what FACs did written by someone other than a FAC. We chose it because it was educational and part of the reason we built the Memorial was to let the public know something about Forward Air Controllers. Your poem is the best form of compliment and it is all the more meaningful because it was written by someone who has been through the toughest of combat and has come out a Real American Hero!
Chairman, FAC Memorial Committee
We checked in and were told "You broke the attack!" and "Shoot 50 meters from the big fire!" The problem is, we could see no less than three big fires and three or four small ones. Otherwise, the mountaintop was pitch black.
We settled things by putting a pair 50 meters from the largest fire in the middle and were told. "That's it Panther - put it right there!" and, a pass or two later: "OK Panther, we are leaving." and, I believe, a direction of egress. We put the rest of our load between the big fire and the assumed position of the friendlies.The last thing we heard from the out-of-breath, pounding through the boonies voice on the other end of the radio was: "You broke the attack, we're clear and heading down the mountain." Then, nothing
Three or four days later, when survivors had been recovered, the American sent us a thank-you via Peter Arnett. The message was: "The first guns were good -- they broke the attack, but the last team was best. They broke up things and covered our escape!" I believe Arnett came by the "Stickitt Inn" and delivered his message personally.
Bill Reeder, who was part of the first team of Panther guns on station, went back to Viet Nam some years later and tells of sitting in the bar in Pleiku. Some of the locals were singing. He asked the bartender what they were singing about and was told "They sing about the Heroic Battle of Firebase Charlie." Bill told the bartender "Hey, I was at Firebase Charlie!" After that, he reports, he didn't have to buy a drink for himself all night!
Forrest B. Snyder, Jr.
Panther 19 - Firebase Charlie
Yes, I got shot over Charlie about noon. Few bullets on the wing, and one exploded on my windshiel. I knew it was some time in April, but I don\'t remember the date. Luckily my aircraft did not burn and I made it back to my base. About 2 PM on the same day, my classmate, LT Ky supported Charlie. He was shot down and never come back.
Remember in our POW group, Lt Hung, Lt Nho were platoon leaders at Charlie. When Charlie was over run, they scattered. In bamboo camp, Lt Hung was in the same cell with me, he told me that he did see LT Ky\'s body (without the head) laid on the ground. I could not understand what force that caused his head separated from his body? even today I could not figure it out.
The bailout system, Yankee seat, in the A1 aircraft is very safe. I have bailed out 2 times; and the system does save my live. The first time my aircraft was got shot over North West of Kontum. I tried to get to Kontum air field. I made to Kontum airfield, I saw the run way, but my aircraft was burning so bad. The rudder & aileron became inoperative. I was force to bail out close to the runway.
There is only one A1 squadron in high land area. More or less, all A1 pilots in Pleiku at time time have involved with the battle of Charlie.
O.K. It is long story! the story about war will never end.
I will stop here. Talk to you later.
John, thank you for the Requiem and the OK to put it in bronze on the pedestal!! It was outstanding having you read it at the Dedication. I tried to read it today to my old Radio Operator when I took him to the Memorial, and I broke down and couldn’t get through it; The requiem is emotional for those of us who were there and it will add a lot to the whole Memorial having it between the two “walls” of names.
2008 Memorial Chairman
You have given me such a great gift with your poem "Jaws of Death". The experience is at many levels.
I sent the poem to my immediate circle of love - my wife, my four children, and my hero, my 83 year old brother-in-law Owen. These are some of the responses:
"If you could see my face just now, you would know it all. The tears are streaming down, my heart is racing - so much power in the words - so much to see." T.
"Beautifully expressed---words almost bring me there. This one battle has me praising God that you are still here." Owen.
"Dad, this is truly amazing. I\'ve heard you recount bits and pieces of this over the years, and it always made me feel so proud of my hero.
Reading it, in such vivid detail, is so powerful in a much more terrifying way. Imagining you in this situation, and perhaps for the first time understanding, unmistakeably, how close you were to dying, brought tears to my eyes.
Thank God you came home. What a difference that has made in soooo many lives." Jim.
"What a gift! I agree with Jim whole-heartedly. That is an amazing story told with a wallop." John.
"As is age appropriate, the third son thirds the thought. This is a keeper." 3d Son
"The poem is so intense and moving - it puts you in the moment. I can\'t help but cry each time I read it and thank God that he brought you safely home to us." Joan.