Prolog:

 

During most of the year, 1970, I was the Operations Sergeant for the Phoenix. I was in the operations during some of the best and some of the worst times for the aircrews. I was, and still am, very proud of having had the privilege of serving with such an outstanding body of men. This led me to write a poem while I was at the VHPA Reunion 2000. "The Lord and the Phoenix" gives my opinion of those men, yesterday and today. When I first took it upon myself to write poetry I did so because I wanted to write about the deaths of Lt. Finn, WO Baldwin, Sp4 Dan Felts and Sp4 William Dotson. I'm must confess that their memorial service had a greater effect on me than any other during two tours in Vietnam, and that I carried their deaths with me long after returning to the world, completing my military career and on into civilian life. So, here goes, "The Lord and the Phoenix" and "Treefrog, Dumptruck and the Flight of the Phoenix...

 

SFC Joseph Haymore

 

The Lord and the Phoenix

... and on the eighth day; from so far away,

 

the Lord's gaze fell on Earth.

 

He'd created light, then extended His might

 

and in Eden He placed all of worth.

'twas no small thing; in a world without sin

to find a fault to repair.

Then He looked to the sky and exclaimed, "Oh my!

There's no Phoenix up there in the air."

So he made Larry Bell, on whose shoulders it fell

the task to build "Hueys" great.

 

Then in Mineral Wells from the poor and the "swells"

 

brave "Wobbly-ones" did He make.

 

And "RLOs" too; not many, a few

 

He created to add to the mix.

 

One "RLO" brave, not a rogue nor a nave,

 

did He deign to call, "Phoenix 6."

 

He sent them to 'Nam where they'd act as a balm

 

to soothe the pains of the grunts.

 

When they got there, they ruled all the air.

 

Very soon they covered all fronts.

 

What a sight to behold! That fearsome fold,

 

as they soared over all of the land.

 

From the Evans mud up to Quang Tri's crud

 

they swarmed like a Mongol band.

 

The Lord smiled and said, "I'll Just go to bed;

 

there's not so much for Me now;

 

'til this war is done and somebody's won,

 

And turned every sword to a plow.

 

So I'll rest for a bit, while in Heaven I sit,

 

and look down on what I've done.

 

The Phoenix is great, but make no mistake

 

I just wish that I could be one!"

 

 

Joe Haymore Phoenix 3M July 2000

 

The "Phoenix" was "C" Company, 158th Aviation Bn, 101st Airborne Div (Air Mobile). On Sunday, Sept 20, 1970 a helicopter assigned to that company was shot down in an area north of Quang Tri, I Corps, Republic of Vietnam. The pilots were 1Lt Finn and WO1 Baldwin. The crewchief, Sp4 Dan Felts (Dumptruck) and the doorgunner, Sp4 William Dotson (Treefrog) were killed along with the pilots when the aircraft impacted and burned. They were both friends of mine. Treefrog was a budding poet who had given a copy of Rod McKuen's "Stanyon St. and Other Sorrows" to me only days before he died. It has taken me nearly 30 years to put that day to rest.

 

Treefrog, Dumptruck, and the Flight of the Phoenix

In a place called 'Nam, in stillness and calm,

 

 

recollections are what remains.

 

 

Just ashes to dust and metal to rust

 

 

is all that records their pain.

 

 

 

They died for a cause; gave life without pause,

 

 

But the reason was never made clear.

 

 

They gave all they had for a cause that was bad

 

 

With no outward signs of their fear.

 

 

They were one of a few of our chopper crews,

 

 

one I prayed would surely survive.

 

 

The bird crumpled and burned; their souls were interred

 

 

and none were to come home alive.

 

 

They are all gone now, and I don't know how

 

 

to establish reason or blame.

 

 

There's none left to grieve; and none to receive

 

 

my feeling of loss that remains.