DOLPHINS & SHARKS
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COMBAT ASSAULT on LZ LOLO
Photograph following the Assault
on March 3, 1971
The following photograph of LZ Lolo was on the cover of the 1994 edition of the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association (VHPA) Membership Directory. Following the first color photo, taken two days after the initial assault, there is an explanation of what is in the photo, followed with an annotated black-and-white reproduction of the photo. On the next bullet down on the 1971 History's page is an enlargment of the LZ Lolo photograph. It is provided on a separate page to reduce excessive download times for any one page.
VHPA member Mike Sloniker has spent countless hours searching Cliff Whiting's pictures of FSB LOLO, which were most likely taken on the afternoon of March 5, 1971. Mike talked to over 20 "LOLO veterans,” listened to tapes of radio transmissions, collected copies of a dozen "LOLO photos,” consulted Defense Intelligence Agency material and the VHPA KIA/MIA database, and read numerous After-Action reports. The notes on this page summarize the events of March 3rd -- the initial assault of LZ LOLO.
A -- WO Gary Arne, Rattler 23, 71st AHC, flew UH-1 H #67-17269, the first aircraft shot down. He was Chalk 2 in the initial assault. The tail rotor was shot out on final, he lost hydraulics, and the engine quit. The Huey was skewered on a broken tree. The crew was evacuated that afternoon.
B -- 71st AHC, UH-lH #69-15358, was Chalk 4 in the initial assault and the second aircraft shot down. The CE was Will Fortenberry but the names of the other crew members are not known.
C -- WO Robert Morris, Comanchero 39, A/1 01 AHB, flew the third aircraft that was forced down during the initial assault. The aircraft caught fire after they had dropped off the ARVN troops. Knowing there were no friendly bases nearby, Morris returned to LOLO. They were streaming fuel and had other battle damage when they landed but the fire had gone out. Many believe this Huey was retrieved from LOLO on the 5th or the 6th. The crew was evacuated that afternoon.
D -- CW2 John Gale, Comanchero 14, A/101 AHB, flew UH-1H #67-17720, the fourth aircraft shot down. He was Chalk 18 (the 8th Comanchero) in the assault. They took heavy fire, especially on the right side, during the approach and caught fire. CPT Gerald Crews, the copilot on this ship, was a former Special Forces officer and helped organize the ARVN, the artillery, and air strikes around the base. SP4 Boop, the CE, took several photos on LOLO including a striking series of three showing 720 burning.
E -- WO Manuel Catzoela, a Lancer, B/1 58 AHB, flew the fifth UH-1H downed on LOLO. His aircraft was hit by an RPG as they started to leave the LZ and burned rather quickly. 1LT Charles R. Anderson, the copilot, was hit in the head by the main rotor and died on the spot as he left the aircraft and started running toward the trench. Their CE, possibly SP4 Paul Sgambati, received a serious head wound during the approach. He was unconscious when they crashed, was evacuated that afternoon, but died soon thereafter. They were the only LOLO fatalities.
F -- A CH-47 landing to lavender smoke with possibly the sixth 105mm howitzer.
G -- The 174th AHC's gun platoon, the Sharks, lost two UH-I Cs, #66-15094 and #66-15169 during action near LOLO. Most everyone involved believe the gunships crashed on the face of the escarpment and not on LOLO. The only explanation for this white area is that a bomb had shattered one of the boulders.
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