Veterans Voices: The Huey Pilot

Veterans Voices

EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — Imagine flying into enemy territory with no back-up, and gunfire coming at you from all sides.

For one Vietnam chopper pilot, that was the day-to-day reality.

On this week’s Veterans Voices, it was 1969 and Bob Rohlfsen bought an expensive sports car to drive around. He said he wanted to live life to the fullest before risking his life in Vietnam.

Bob Rohlfsen was drafted into Vietnam right out of college, becoming a Huey pilot. A Huey is a utility chopper typically used in resupply and evacuation missions. Officers would instruct Rohlfsen where they wanted to drop reinforcements or pick up supplies. Sounds simple, but the enemy was always nearby and ready for a fight.

“That mission we didn’t like because we went in by ourselves, one helicopter. We would supply outposts with mail, food, ammunition, hand grenades, smoke grenades. All we had was one machine gun on each side of our Huey. We did get shot at quite often. They’d just take random shots at us as we were coming in with supplies,” Rohlfsen said.

Rohlfsen says he’s been shot at roughly 60 to 70 times, but was somehow never hit. On his first day on the job, he was with two men sitting behind him in the Huey. They were hit and died instantly.

“The crew chief was sitting behind in the transmission well, and he said, ‘Sir, don’t turn around, you won’t want to see it.’ And I didn’t worry about that because I was shrunk as small as I could get in my armored pilots seat,” Rohlfsen said.

A while back, Rohlfsen went on an honor flight to Washington, D.C. to see the memorials built honoring Vietnam servicemen and that helped him get through the stigma surrounding the war.

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