Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Vietnam -- The Three Officers I knew best

When you put as much time on the flightline as I did, you got to know many of the personalities both on the flight line and off it. Some were boring souls just after Silver Stars and Air Medals. But Officers like Fredrick Cappo, Joe Maxsom and a few others were highly trained professional blood and guts pilots hell bent at making, "killing is our business and business is good", a reality.

You can sugar coat what we were and what we did, but the true mission of our Battalion and our AH-IG Cobras was that of killing the enemy. I never saw a real live enemy soldier.  I never felt the recoil of a gun as the bullet left the chamber. I never saw my bullet strike true. I never watch as the target dropped dead.

But I did kill sure as I put those fin rockets into the tubes, placed chained 6.72 bullets into the ammo box or filled the drum with 40mm grenades. I just never pulled the trigger. I just never thought about it that way.

Anyway, the Officers I grew to know and share acquaintance with are:

Retired LTC Crag Geis
AKA The Animal

Craig was a tall man with a quick smile and a quick temper. He was the type of guy who would get the job done even if he had to do it. And if it was your job to get it done, he'd make sure you knew about it.

Craig loved to fly.  If he wasn't flying Cobras, he'd be flying something else. But Craig was also very safety minded. As soon as he noticed my eye crossing in, he knew putting me on the flight line -- even if I as good enough to do the job -- could put me in harm's way.

LTC Denny Kramp

There was almost something magical and special about Denny. He's the one on the left with deep set eyes that always looked sad even when he smiled. He seemed to have something always on his mind.

Denny was once an enlisted man and decided to become an officer. Denny took the time to know you and acted more like a father to me than my own. Problem with it was, as I did grow up and mature in the following years, Denny still made me feel like a kid needed a daily dose of inspiration.

BTW, the Officer second to Denny from left to right along with Joe Maxsom was flown from the grips of death via hanging on for dear life to the rocket pods and skids of another Cobra flown by Fredrick Cappo.

CPT Jeffery Johns

Only one phrase can describe Jeffery...totally cool. This is the guy you could label the "Iceman". He was our check ride pilot who approved the pilots as being combat ready. Like Denny, Jeffery was enlisted who became a warrant officer and then a regular officer.

I think he was mostly impressed with me when no one else was able to produce a pair of push/pull rotorblade bearings and keep us combat ready. Jeffery was a by the book type of pilot.


littlefoot said...

was joe maxsom called the kid because he looked so young. I crewed 68-l5086 in 1970 until it had engine failure. the Col. ship was crewed by a guy named pyzynski.

Richard T. Edwards said...
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