Photo courtesy of GMG3 Bill Dunn (66-68)
Story courtesy of Capt. Jack R. Griffin
|"A few days ago Tom Harper sent me a copy of a photo (shown above, along with another) of a Snoopy configured DASH and some old memories stirred. One of these is amazing, but first I must point out that in 67-68 Bob Kesteloot, John Tortorici, Dick Couch and I discussed our Snoopy ops to such a degree that it isn't clear whose idea was whose. Surely, others in the crew had input; but if fair to name them, I must leave that to Bob, John, and Dick to clarify."
"There were two configurations beyond the original intent for the Dash. One was called Midget. The purpose of this configuration was the rescue of downed pilots in areas unsafe to send a manned helo. The second was Snoopy. Although a mission of Recon is generally associated with this configuration, it was as a naval gunfire spotting platform that was the priority. This was prompted by the pending removal of the A1 Spad as the platform for airborne spotting."
"The first use to which we put our DASH was as Midget. We were assigned as shotgun for the Reeves, DESRON 9 flagship, on South SAR. A plane of ours had been shotdown and the two people in it had successfully ejected. One person was on the beach and the other in the surf firing tracers from his pistol. The Reeves helo was unable to close because of gunfire from the treeline. After awhile, aircraft overflying our men reported the one on the beach to be captured by 2-3 men while one VC covered our man in the water. The enemy took our guy's pistol, slung his AK ,and used the pistol to control our man. Each time one of our planes flew over, the VC would duck under the water. After a couple of flyovers it occurred to the "good guy" that he was being restrained with an empty gun because he had fired all his ammo. So, what did he do? Well, on a final flyover, he reached in his jumpsuit and pulled out another gun and either clubbed the enemy with it or shot him. (I don't remember which.) Then he started swimming to sea for all he was worth. We sent in Midget. Midget had a jungle penetrator hanging from it, and the intent was to drag it in the water slowly past the downed pilot expecting him to grab on and then be flown out to safety. A couple of close passes were made, but never grabbed. Eventually, the Reeves' helo was in position to pick up our man safely and did so. To the best of my knowledge, this was the only time Midget was attempted to be used in combat. The flyer was awarded the Silver Star."
"That isn't quite the end of the story. I always admired our man's escape. I met him by chance many years later. In my final tour of duty I was the Director of Quality Assurance for the Defense Contracts Administration Services Region--Los Angeles. On a visit to one of my ordnance contractors in San Ana in 1980, I exchanged pleasant conversation with one of my in-house QA inspectors. It took a surprisingly short time for me to discover that this fellow was our man who got away. I was awed by this opportunity to meet him and discuss that day. Unfortunately, his escape had so infuriated the enemy that it is suspected the enemy killed our other man in revenge. Although observed going into the trees under guard, he did not make it to any POW camp. Our hero sadly blamed himself for his friend's apparent death."
"Bob, John, Dick or I got the idea to hang a bomb rack on Snoopy so that it could carry a 500 lb. bomb on one side and a video camera on the other. Dick and his gang got the bomb rack somehow, but despite my several personal attempts, I was not able to get permission to use it. Our idea was to put Snoopy into a hover directed over the most threatening gun sites such as on Hon Mat and Hon Me islands and drop the bomb. Our Admiral nixed the concept with instructions that he wanted us to concentrate solely on developing a capability to spot with Snoopy. The resolution attainable at the time was insufficient and eventually the idea was abandoned. I thought our idea would have worked fine and was disappointed we never had a chance to prove it."
Jack R. Griffin
Thanks to MM3 Gary Wigley for this copy of "Snoopy".