Lt Mike P. Kurtgis

 I served as an FO in July, 1968 with B/2/35 until 17 Sep 68.  Then I went to HHB,  DivArty, as an Air Observer (AO) for the 3rd Brigade from October, 1968 to July, 1969.  

I operated out of the 2/9th Battalion HQ while serving as AO at LZ Oasis and was the LZ Oasis nighttime FO (as an additional duty).  The tiger hunts were the best.  


Lost Medivac
I remember a situation where we (I was flying with Cider Fac) were firing a mission in support of an Infantry Company (1/35th) who was hit pretty hard along a blue-line stream in thick cover.  They did not have radio contact with their Higher HQ and we acted as the radio relay.   Major Ferrel was in contact with the Brigade HQ and relaying the SITREP and requests from the Company.  Maj Ferrel relayed the request for the Medivac (Dustoff) and directed to the hot zone.   Fast Movers were on the way also and Maj Ferrel directed them when they got there.  While the Medivac was hoisting the WIAs, it took a direct hit from an RPG and went down in a fireball.  There had to be four or five guys that were hoisted onboard.  It seemed like I was flying the Chu Pa forever.  My last mission which was July 1st, was high up on the big mountain (1,480 meters) in support of another Company when the OH6 Loach we were in took incoming round from a Radar-guided Chicom 41mm antiaircraft.  They beat a line directly to our aircraft and at our altitude and  it stopped about 200 yards away from my door and pounded the airspace.  I had a perfect GT  (gun-target) line back-azimuth and I looked up the range in my book (which as I recall was about 11 km) and it was inside Cambodia/Laos (donít remember which).  I called an 8Ē Fire Mission, one gun, to adjust to my position (get around political clearance, donít you know) and then Azimuth 4800 mils, 11 km, Battery 5 rounds, 100m grid (donít remember the fuse or type round, etc., that I used) and went back to the Oasis.  That was my last fire mission and I left Vietnam arriving at Travis AFB on July 4th 69.

My Support
I gratefully acknowledge my two Recon Sgts, George Bishop and Lance Cayne, who were with me when I served as FO for "B" 2/35th and Sp4 Ray Plunkett who was with me at The Oasis out of the 2/9th TOC.

The Russian Helicopter
{exchange of notes with Lt Donnie Blankin}

The  UFO (occurrence) might have been the night I fired a mission against a Russian helicopter that we had been tracking over Plei Me just west of the Oasis.  Q4 radar at the Oasis and the Hawk Missile radar was tracking the aircraft.  I fired the mission from the TOC at Oasis.  I donítí remember which battery fired, but I called for air bursts, fuze time, as I recall.  They sent a Company out the next day to search the area and found a bunch of aluminum confetti.  And small pieces.  It went on for about six weeks including a conclusion at Oasis on Mothers Day, 1969 when the Oasis was attacked and the Hawk Radar was destroyed.  The whole mission was top secret at the time. 

Back to Tour of Duty/Memories