Here is my best "War Story"
By Stephen Cover
Copyright January 2010, all rights reserved
Now everbody knows that all war stories are obligated to start with
"This Ain't No Sh*t".......
But, this one really is the truth.
Back in the late summer of 1967 (Statute of limitations is well
past.... I hope) I was a helicopter pilot for a Cav. unit in South
It was a few weeks before I qualified as command pilot in our unit
flying the UH1-D Huey.
About 8 or 10 miles south of our base was a watermellon patch.
My Aircraft Commander, "Igor", would always say we needed to get
ourselves a watermellon every time we flew past.
One day, about half of the mellons in the field were gone.
They were being harvested.
That was good enough for Igor.
We swooped down on our way back from a mission and landed near the
biggest melon in the patch.
Our crew chief grabbed the mellon and we were off. (Nothing like an
armed helicopter for an escape vehicle)
Back at base we eagerly plugged the mellon.... It was still white
(We hadn't considered that they were picked green so they would ripen
up in shipment.... Duh!!)
That brought up the problem of what to do with the evidence....
We were sure our CO would enlarge our afterburner vents with a glowing
poker if he found out about our larceny.
Well, the solution was obvious. There was a corner of a field just off
of Highway 5 that always produced some enemy fire.
Although this was a hot zone, our usual route through the area bypassed
it by a reasnoable distance.
Even though this was in a free fire zone, Command had pretty much
decided that one VC shooting at hellicopters that were at least a half
mile out of range wasn't much of a threat and therefore there was no
need to mount an attack on him as long as he stayed where he was.
That VC became "The Prime Target".....
Design of our secret improvised weapon was discussed for some time
(probably 3-4 minutes).
We finally came up with the idea of stuffing the perloined watermellon
with grenades to "Wipe Out" the lone VC at the corner of the field.
We cut three holes in the watermellon, putting a Frag grenade in the
center, and a WP on either side it.
When the time came to drop our secret weapon, the crew chief would pull
the grenade pins, and throw out the "Bomb".
The grenade handles would be held in place untill the watermellon burst
on impact.... In theory anyway.
That afternoon, were were sent on a recon mission. (I think Igor
volenteered for it, but don't remember).
On the way back, we drifted over to the target area.
(Back in those days we flew at 1500 Ft AGL because 30 cal tracers would
burn out way before they got to our altitude, making hits on a
helicopter with small arms an iffy prospect st best.)
At 1500 Ft, Igor started our bomb run. The order was given to "Arm The
Weapon"..... The pins were pulled....
Naturally, all of the communications on the intercom would have made a
B-17 crew proud with both waist gunners on the lookout for Me 109s.
As we approched the target the Bombadier (Me) located the stream of
tracers and advised the command pilot of the precice (?) location of
Igor made a slight course correction, and as we passed over the
offending jungle, I hollered "Bombs Away".
The crew chief threw out the watermellon and we started a tight turn so
Igor could see the results.....
Yep, we hit the jungle....
Not too close to the VC, but we did hit the jungle.
A cloud of white smoke rose from the trees showing that our watermellon
had shattered as planned when it hit the ground releasing the grenades.
The tracers stopped. I doubt that our VC target had ever been shot at
Unsure of our results, we returned to base.
The next day, Igor took us back to the target area.....
You guessed it, a line of tracers arced up out of the usual place in
the corner of the field.
We were our usual 3/4 of a mile away and safe.
Oh well, It was an unusual adventure anyway.... The war went on.
Igor and our crew
chief with the "Improvised Secret Weapon"
And "That Ain't No Sh*t"