189th ASSAULT HELICOPTER COMPANY

THE GHOSTRIDER NEWS

MARCH 2021

Greetings; Ghost Riders, Avengers, Caretakers, friends, and family.  Spring is almost here.  I hope this finds each of you well and safe.  Will this Pandemic ever get over with?  Perhaps when everyone gets the vaccines.  Have you got yours yet?  Keep on washing your hands and please wear your mask.  You might help save someone’s life.

 

189th AHC Reunion October 6-10, 2021 is CANCELED and has not been reschedule.  I have thought extremely hard on this and even lost a few nights of sleep, but with the Covid-19 pandemic and your input in the last few weeks coupled with not knowing when things are going to open back up or get back to normal, I have made this decision.  I cannot make any reservations for tours as they are closed until further notice.  Social distancing continues and the wearing of masks coupled with limited space for a function.  With the political situation not only in Washington, but in other cities of our nation; I just do not want to take a chance and from most of the input I received last newsletter you folks do not feel comfortable at this time to have a reunion.    

MARCH 15, 1971:   How many of you remember that day?  According to our history that was the day the 189th AHC stood down in Vietnam.  According to the dates of service on the 189th manifest several of you did.  I am sure some of you have stories that you would like to share with us about those last days.  I am sure some of you that had time left were transferred to other units.  Inquiring mines would love to know.  So, send me an email with your experience.

PILOTS PERCH:  By: Steve Schmidt (“Silver Lead”) 

Hello to all! Gerry told me this would be a newsletter devoted to the last days of the 189th AHC in Vietnam. March 15th was the date when the 189th AHC colors were cased, and the company ceased to be an active unit. A great big thanks to Gerry for the unit history on the 189th AHC website – it was an excellent source for this Pilot Perch article.

For those pilots who were present when the company was turned over to the South Vietnamese on November 15, 1970, I can only imagine how relieved you were to stand there and realize your helicopter training mission was complete. The Training Service Medal was awarded for your efforts to train the Vietnamese pilots. I wonder how many men received it; it must have been unique honor to get that medal.  (If you received a Training Service Medal please send me a copy of your orders awarding the medal if you still have them.  “Gerry”)

I was amazed to read in the unit history that on that day our own Gene Womack was standing on a nearby bunker and played taps for all of the fallen comrades of the 189th.” Gene has been a great supporter of the 189th AHC reunions and I can understand why Gerry calls Gene his right-hand man. He was one of the final members (a “final”).

I was one of the “originals” and know that many things are still missing from our unit history. Gerry has called it a work in progress – and we need to add our own memories if they are not already covered in the unit history. It will be a work in progress until the last of us dies. It is time we filled in the blanks from the “originals” to the “finals.”  (Please send your comments to Gerry.) Regards to all, Steve Schmidt (“Silver Lead” – 1st A/L Platoon)

 

More News about November 15, 1971:  By Greg Lesh

As the word got out that the unit was standing down there were a number of us, around a dozen warrants, a few enlisted maintenance and Captain Jack Gerke (Not sure of correct spelling) that were recruited by the Air Force to move to Pleiku AFB.  They had been given the task of giving more instruction and in country orientation to VNAF pilots returning from flight training in states.

AF was like living at a Best Western!  Brick barracks, hot water, washing machines for Houch maids.

Very nice officers club with a sign over the bar

"No Army Captains under the age of 21 will be served".  Can you imagine a Captain under 21?

 

Orphanage News:  When the pandemic started in 2020 Vietnam imposed some pretty stringent lock down procedures.  Their reported infection rate is miraculously low.  However, for the first time since the lockdowns Pleiku has 28 reported cases in January and Kontum still zero.  So, the lockdowns are still in effect and from what I read vaccines will not be available until the 2nd half of this year.  The Nuns both in Pleiku and Kontum have done an incredible job.    Schools have been closed, opened, closed etc.  Can you imagine home schooling 800 kids with 35% of them being teenagers?   Some of the college kids we support have come “home” to help and have made great contributions.  We were fortunate to visit the Highlands in February 2020, but we do not see another visit until mid-2022.  In 2021 we are going to continue our focus on basic needs, medicine, education and help with infrastructure when we can.   Our goal is to help them towards self-sufficiency.  They have a long way to go, and we may not see it in our lifetime, but they are well on the path.  Please look at our web site www.friendsofvso.org.  We have posted all our newsletters and several pictures and videos to help tell our story.  We have advertisements in various veteran magazines (VHPA, VVA etc.) but most of our donations come because of references, word of mouth.  Anything you can do to promote our story would be greatly appreciated by the kids and the nuns.  Be Safe:   Patrick Leary

 

Gerry’s Travels and Notes:  Since the last newsletter we have not done any traveling except to the doctors and the grocery store to pick up our order.  It is just not safe for us old people to get out very much. 

As mentions above I have canceled the 2021 reunion.  It is with sadness and due to my health and age, that I will not plan another 189th AHC Reunion.  If some of you younger guys would like to plan a reunion in the future, I will support you.  I do not want to see the 189th AHC stop having reunions.  Perhaps it could join with a group like the VHPA or VHCMA.  Yes, there are other groups out there, but I do not believe that many of them have the same interest as we do.  If you would be interested send me an email.   I plan to maintain the Manifest, Memorial Page, and the 189th AHC Website if I have the mental capacity to do so.  Sometimes that gets taxing.   I hope each of you understand.  It has been my and Bobbye’s pleasure to be a part of this group for many years and we plan on staying connected.  Gerry

Have you visited the 189th AHC website lately?  http://189thahc.org/

Please send me any updates that you may have such as change in address, email, or dates in the 189th.

189th AHC