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  • In Honor of

    CAPTAIN RICHARD L. BASINGER, USMC

    Journal

    The pages that follow are word for word what my father wrote in the daily journal he kept while in Vietnam. At first, I struggled with whether or not to include this on the web site. I decided to do so because it is a wonderful record that gives those of us who have never been in combat a glimpse into the day-to-day life and duties of a Marine combat helicopter pilot. Also, the journal is for the most part matter-of-fact, and does not contain any personal information that would be inappropriate to share with others (this was left to personal letters which I will not publish on this site). It is likely that I have misspelled some words as at times my father's handwriting was difficult to read.    - Mark Basinger

    1966 - August | September | October | November | December
    1967 - January | February | March | April | May

    31 Oct. 1966:
      Susie sent me a 
    box for my birthday.
    I shall try and write
    something in this Day
    Book everyday until I
    get home and Susie
    is in my arms once
    again.
            R.L. Basinger
    

    [This inscription appears in the inside front cover of my father's journal. Apparently, he must have recorded his notes up through Oct 31 elsewhere and then transferred them to this journal that he received from my mother.]


    August 1966

    19 I left for California and then Vietnam Susie and Mark took me to the train and we said good bye until next year. I felt sad as I know she did.
    20 Enroute to California Saw some sights from the train.
    21 Arrived at about 3:PM. We went to Travis and checked into Transit base. I met 2/Lt Jim Nelles from Penn. while on the train. He has the same overseas date.
    22 Jim Nelles and I checked into a motel and rented a car. We checked out all the bars. Had a good time.
    23 We went to the Arcasia Club and had a good time. We met some people we met the first night we were in Fairfield.
    24 Spent most of the day getting ready to leave on the plane. I called Susie and let her know I had arrived in safe conditions.
    25 We are now in Okinawa. It is a very beautiful island. Mostly Japanese people. We are staying at Camp Hansen.
    26 Still on Okinawa. Met some old friends at the O'club. We had a small party.
    27 Left for Da Nang Vietnam today. Da Nang is the busiest place I've ever seen. Jets, helicopters and transports are based here. Two 12,000 ft. rwys.
    28 Got on the plane to meet my Squadron I am assigned to HMM363 which is now on the Iwo Jima.
    29 I checked into Cubi Pt. BOQ to await the arrival of Iwo Jima. I have spent most of my time writing letters and going to the exchanges.
    30 No additions today.
    31 Today I checked into my assigned unit. At first I felt a little ill at ease, but that feeling left shortly. Great bunch of fellows.
    ^ Top of Page ^

    September 1966

    1 We are docked in Subic Bay for approx. 8 - 10 days.
    2 Liberty, sent Susie some wooden carved dishes set. Bought myself a Zodiac wrist watch and a small Japanese 16mm camera.
    3 Liberty
    4 Liberty
    5 Started a short operation with the Philippine Marines
    6 Philippine Marine operation off the carrier. I got about 7 hrs flight time.
    7 Liberty
    8 Liberty
    9 Liberty
    10 Liberty
    11 Liberty
    12 Liberty
    13 Liberty
    14 Liberty
    15 Liberty
    16 Tonight we sail for Vietnam. We don't know actually where we are going to operate out of.
    17 Off shore of Vietnam only a few miles from DMZ. We are now getting organized for missions.
    18 Operating with 4th Marines out of Dong Ha. I flew a strike mission and several med evacs. One was pretty hot. We were shot down on a med evac. Everything OK.
    19 Today I flew two Recon Retractions. Nothing very hot.
    20 We flew mostly resupply and med-evac missions. We also flew a couple of recon insertions.
    21 Today I received the first hit in the a/c I was flying in. It was a med evac of 4 WIA's. This was in addition to being shot down the 18th.
    22 Mostly the same. I received my first letter from my little wify. She has received my mail frequently. I received 4 letters at one time.
    23 Received mail from Susie and from my folks. Everything going about the same. Picked up my 4th hit today.
    24 Same Routine Shut down in small village 200 yds short of DMZ. It had the International Control Commission that was set up by the Geneva Convention. I took several pictures.
    25 Same Routine Took 4 hits in YZ66 and also took motor fire in the zone. 6 emergency med evacs. One ran to the plane and he had 2 sucking chest wounds.
    26 Same Routine I got about 3 hrs. night time. All emergency resupplies. Tracers flew like wild fire.
    27 Received word that we are leaving for Ky Ha (Chu Lai) sometime tomorrow. Operation Prairie is still going strong. It was a continuation of Hastings.
    28 We left for Ky Ha today. We have a short breather for a couple of days.
    29 Off coast of Chu Lai. Starting to off load tomorrow.
    30 Off loading the Squadron into Ky Ha. I got about 7 hrs. flight time. Almost everything was external loads. I flew 65.8 hrs this month.
    ^ Top of Page ^

    October 1966

    1 Receiving Frags already. Doing much the same thing we did off the carrier.
    2 Living quarters are not so good. It still is my home until I get back to good old USA. Water is OK. Ice at the O'club. Also cool beer.
    3 I am now getting Susie's mail on regular dates. Usually every other day.
    4 I have a new job. I am now the squadron motor T. officer. Out vehicles are in very poor condition and I see no vast improvement in the near future.
    5 We are going in full gear again. I got about 68 hrs for the month of Sept. Most of it was after the 15th.
    6 I received letters from Susie and she enclosed some snaps of her and Markie. Both look wonderful. I miss them very much.
    7 Same Routine
    8 Same Routine We made runs to Da Nang and I saw Randy Drisgula for a while. He was on Perimeter Guard Duty.
    9 Same Routine Took another hit in 69. No damage. Fire taken from village south of ROK CP.
    10 Flew a Recon Retraction Hot zone. Received fire entering and leaving zone. People were pretty badly hit. Also .50 cal. Fire. A'4s naped the whole area after we left.
    11 Received a written congratulations from CG Robertshaw about the Retraction on 10th.
    12 Had an emergency Recon Retraction at base of Mts south of village of O'kep. Hottest zone I had been since I have been here in Vietnam. O'Kep had been destroyed by A-4s day before. Cong had been moving in that area.
    13 Went into Tropo Pad at Quang Ngai. Shut down and waited for VIP. Went to army O'club there. They have it made. Hot showers maids and even there own sep. rooms.
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    26 Usual Routine. Took fire in one zone. No hits. It was a resupply to ARVN outpost.
    27 12:30PM. Learned we were going to Da Nang for 4-5 days for MAG-16. 12 a/c and 28 pilots. We didn't do much this day.
    28 Came into Marble Mt. To assume duty load for MAG-16 and HMM263. I had med evac up to Phu Bai. Launched 3 times; twice at night. Once we climed to altitude over the field to contact an army SP. Forces group who were in a shit sandwich.
    29 Returned to Marble Mt. We flew frags out of Da Nang. Nothing exciting.
    30 After relief of med evac we joined Maj. Awletts flight for a Recon Insertion. No fire taken at all. Returned to Phu Bai for VIP runs from Quang Tri to Dong Ha and return.
    31 Resupply mission out of Da Nang. Took supplies to a small craft that went a ground in the beach area south of Dong Ha. We took sniper fire returning to Phu Bai.
    ^ Top of Page ^

    November 1966

    1 We had med evac in area of Phu Bai. Launched once at night Picked up 13 severly wounded men that got caught in a mine field. 2 died on way to Hue Hospital. 1.2 hrs of actual instruments.
    2 Arrived home to Ky Ha from assignments in Da Nang and Phu Bai areas. I flew in the afternoon. Found out I flew 84.8 hrs in month of Oct.
    3 Had the med evac today. We picked up 8 civilian people. One from a farming village south of Quang Ngai. Saw some Budda Monk in traditional garb. Probably V.C.
    4 Had the SDO last night. Today we flew direct support for Korean Marines. No hairy incidents. Snipers along Song Tra Bong river were reported.
    5 We had a Aerial Recon today and discovered a Platoon size formation of V.C. We called an air strike in on them. I flew 4.1 hrs and I also flew a med evac in the afternoon. I also had night med evac.
    6 Went on a VIP hop and was diverted for combat cargo mission. No firing taken. Got 3.2 hrs.
    7 We had convoy escort today. I got 6.5 hrs of flight time. Bob Goetz and Ruddy Nebel got hit with flying bullets on a med evac. No serious damage.
    8 Flew a troop lift in A.M. and flew ROK Direct support. Had 8.1 hrs. of flight time. No firing incidents, but saw V.C. near a LZ and reported it. Carried 4 V.C. prisoners.
    9 Flew a med evac to Da Nang, Injured ROK had brain damage. He was still alive when we got there. I flew 1.7. No other action. Navy Commendation went through wing level.
    10 Happy Birthday to USMC. 191st Birthday. Received my first Air Medal which was presented in a short squadron ceremony.
    11 I had a resupply mission at Da Nang and came back and flew another resupply mission to Chu Lai area. Had 5.9 hrs of flight time. Baron Vanoshousus and Doug Darran were shot down. OK.
    12 Had SAR at Chu Lai We didn't launch. Pretty quiet day.
    13 We flew ROK Di Supply. We were fired upon by snipers from across the river. Only got 1.5 hrs. No hits received.
    14 Flew ROK supply again. We were again fired upon. No hits on the aircraft.
    15 I had med evac today and got 3.8 hrs. We went on instruments several times. We were fired upon 6 times along a river bank Moderate fire, no hits
    16 We had a small troop lift and also cargo, but part of the mission was aborted because of weather.
    17 It rained most of the day and many missions were aborted because of weather. We also flew missions out of Marble Mtn. We had an engine chip light and made a forced landing to Da Nang airfield. No complications.
    18 I flew a resupply to 5th marines. We received heavy fire and were shot down. Full autorotation. Zone was unsecure. We took sniper fire. No one injured we left A/C in zone while another came in and got us out. Very heavy fire received.
    19 Flew only 0.7 today. Our resupply to Tur Phi was aborted because of poor weather.
    20 VIP hops today, 4.6 hrs. Flew Gen. Nickerson around. Pretty quiet.
    21 Quang Ngai med evac only flew 1.8 total. We had a 13 plane strike in the morning.
    22 Emergency Recon Retraction and also one other Recon Retraction. We also had a recon insertion. Zone was "hot". No hits received.
    23 Flew frags out of Marble Mountain. Saw Randy again. Flew 5.8 hrs today. No excitement.
    24 Flew a troop lift of ROK marines. No fire. Also flew a recon mission for 3rd Mar div. Flew 4.3 hrs. today.
    25 No fly today because of weather. Played bridge.
    26 We flew emergency resupply missions to both Marines and ROKs. Got 3.4 hrs.
    27 Only a few missions went out because of weather. I only got a 0.8. Weather was very limited.
    28 Had the SDO watch today. No flight hrs.
    29 Flew 6.3 hrs today. We drew sniper fire from ARVN base at Que Son and also at Nhu Thron. We flew a strike in the A.M. and a resupply mission in the afternoon.
    30 We flew resupply again. I flew 3.8 hrs. No fire. Worked around Nui Tron area (ROK).
    ^ Top of Page ^

    December 1966

    1 Didn't fly today because of annual physical. Also it rained hard.
    2 Flew 3.4 hrs today had both resupply and Recon insert.
    3 Had SAR at Chu Lai didn't launch at all weather stayed 200/1 most of the day.
    4 Flew med evac. Only launched twice. One zone was hot but didn't receive any fire. 2nd zone med evac was already dead. Note: Tra Bong S Forces outpost was overtaken shortly after we left.
    5 We only flew a few hrs because of weather. Nothing big. Squadron lost YZ66 by VC satchel charge after an engine failure. Every one safe.
    6 Went to MMAF. We flew 3.4 hrs. of resupply to various outposts. An Hoa area. HMM 263 lost an a/c after it was shot down. V.C. had zone surrounded but pilots and crew escaped. We took 2 hits.
    7 Bad day for us. We lost YZ 68. Plane crashed on the side of mtn. south of An Hoa. Everyone escaped without injury. People were not evacuated that night because of weather. Pilots and crew stayed there all night. V.C. probes, no contact. Terrain was too rough.
    8 Sparrowhawk lifted out pilots and crew. HMM 263 lost another a/c trying to recover the 1st a/c. A/C burned in zone. Somehow pilots and crew got out. We flew resupply to Nui Dau which was 47 miles south of Chu Lai.
    9 Flew med evac at night. Flew 2.1 hrs. of night time and also 1.2 hrs. of actual instruments. One ROK position was attacked by mortors. 4 WIA's, 4 KIA's, no fire.
    10 Flew 4.5 hrs today. We supported Operation Serra. Mostly Quang Ngai. One zone was hot. No hits.
    11 Flew 5.5 hrs. of direct support with Quilett. No fire received.
    12 Had SAR at Chu Lai Didn't launch
    13 Flew Quang Ngai direct support for operation Serra. Flew 4.1 hrs. No fire. Also flew a med evac.
    14 Flew ROK Direct Support Got 12 mission credits Took fire in two zones. No hits. Flew 6.3 hrs.
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    ^ Top of Page ^

    January 1967

    1 Happy New Year Truce still going and we received fire from several positions
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    9 Very tragic accident Gary Shields Bob Schena and eight other Marines were killed in an air crash over the water east of Chu Lai Bodies washed up several days later
    10 Looked for victims of air crash, Nothing.
    11 Flew resupply at Q.Ngai. Nothing unusual.
    12 [no entry]
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    19 On loaded a/c and equipment to Iwo Jima Steaming for Okinawa
    20 Set up base at Futema MCAF Very nice
    21 Had liberty and took it easy
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    ^ Top of Page ^

    February 1967

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    25 a/c received many hits in one particular zone do to the zone being unpreped before the strike. Our C.O. was injured in the leg by .30 cal missle. He will be going home. Flew night med evac. Made the 35,000th landing on the USS Iwo Jima.
    26 Flew resupply and a night med evac. Received fire at several of the zones. Enemy located in bunkers.
    27 Flew med evac today. Zone was hot and we received several hits in the a/c. I was wounded in the leg by shrapnel and was operated on that afternoon. Surgeons took several pieces of metal out of the bone and calf muscle. Everything is OK.
    28 Didn't feel too good today. I required demorial to get rest. Wrote a letter to Susie and my folks explaining everything.
    ^ Top of Page ^

    March 1967

    1 Operation will end shortly. Good operation for a [??? not sure of this word].
    2 [no entry]
    3 [no entry]
    4 On load completed, steaming for the Philippines and Subic Bay. Sewed my wounds up. Very painful
    5 Everyone is on liberty and I am on my back. No chance to go to Clark.
    6 Still resting. Dressed my wounds and they are looking good. Wrote a few letters. Read two short books. [PHOTO]
    7 Still resting. Ankle is sore and very stiff. Read another book and started on yet another.
    8 Wounds look better. Still draining quite a bit. Still getting many million units of ProPenull. Still resting.
    9 Still resting, feel much better than usual. Received one letter from Susie dated 25th of Feb. [personal information omitted]
    10 Liberty finally. A good meal and a movie. Returned to the ship and I was beat.
    11 No liberty Wrote letters and rested
    12 No liberty; Rested Bob Francis brought my mail to me; good old Bob.
    13 No liberty; still resting Leg feels much better
    14 Took liberty in afternoon and bought my Captain's bars and another set of wings. Will be promoted 2 April.
    15 No liberty; rested
    16 Bob Francis and I went to Subic O'club and had a few drinks. Had a fine evening. Ate a good meal also.
    17 Started back to Vietnam for another operation. Dong Ha.
    18 Doctor discharged me from Medical Ward. Leg still bothers me when I try to hard. Won't be flying this operation. I was designated a Section Leader.
    19 [no entry]
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    ^ Top of Page ^

    April 1967

    1 Flew for the first time 1.4 hrs. No trouble. Part of the advanced party to Marble Mtn.
    2 [no entry]
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    4 Promoted to Capt. Dated 1 April. A lot of dissention among the older officers. We are still considered Lieutenants. Others accept it good.
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    13 Night Med Evac. Hairy mission. I orbited overhead while leader picked up med evacs. I lost my tacan and had to do an instrument letdown from 8500ft without aid of Da Nang Approach.
    14 Admin runs. Paul Courtney received a Silver Star for the night med evac the previous night. Gen. Robertshau pinned the medal on personally. I received no recognition.
    15 Moved from Marble Mtn. to Dong Ha. We are to be the start of a new Marine Air Group.
    16 Poor Weather. No Fly.
    17 Dong Ha. Chased the General around. Weather is poor. Went to Gio Lin. Also to Camp Caroll. We are now permanently attached to Dong Ha.
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    28 Dong Ha - Rocket Attack killed 8 US and wounded 74 others. 45 rounds received. Next morning grunts found another 55 rounds at 010/4 . Apparently Spooky scared them off. Flew night med evac night after the attack. [PHOTO]
    29 [no entry]
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    ^ Top of Page ^

    May 1967

    1 Resupply. Flew 4.1 hrs. No fire.
    2 Resupply. Flew 4.9 hrs. No fire.
    3 Flew Afternoon med evac. We launched 2 times. No fire received.
    4 Night Med Evac - No launch.
    5 No launch.
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    ^ Top of Page ^

    [In the afternoon of May 12, 1967, Captain Richard Louis Basinger was killed in action when the UH-34D helicopter he was piloting (YZ-78) was hit by an enemy mortar round shortly after lifting out of a zone while on an emergency resupply mission to a Marine outpost at Con Thien. Captain Basinger was 24 years old. The Crew Chief, John Wendell Jackson (age 23), was also killed in the incident. The Co-Pilot, George Hadzewycz, and Gunner, Ronald Hartline, were wounded but did survive.]