Dustoff: More Than Met The Eye (Paperback)

Dustoff: More Than Met The Eye By Arnold Sampson Cover Image
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The stories of the "Dustoff" rescues have been told before, but the heroic levels of courage that the crews displayed cannot be celebrated too often nor too loudly. The soldiers assigned to Vietnam used helicopters to go from point 'A' to point 'B' as safely as possible. Medical evacuation helicopters (medevac choppers), also known as 'Dustoff' ships, were the lifeline between a soldier with a severed foot and a top-notch, case-hardened facility that could save a man and not be daunted by severe injuries. These unarmed ships would journey valiantly any condition, including nighttime missions with limited lighting, cutting through midnight storms that might ground any other aircraft, and would perform extractions immediately following or during active hostile fire exchanges. This was all done before GPS equipment was available to tactical aircraft. The four-man crew of Dustoff choppers were known (and indeed, expected) to go anywhere at any time to save the lives of people they would only see once in life. The missions were undertaken without hesitation, and the crew would march forward with little detail of the exact location of potential patients.

The experiences of relative safety in the confines of one's home base could be as dangerous to one's mind and spirit as the sound of small arms gunfire could be when the ship neared the ground. When an uncle, a brother, a cousin, or a former boyfriend came back to the war and seemed 'different,' this book details some of the types of experiences that may have impacted that person and made them act as stunned, as closed-mouthed, as angry, as paranoid, as untrusting and as indifferent as he did.

There were as many Vietnams as there are Veterans who survived it or appeared to. Every man's experience or his perception of that experience was different. Many a man came home and had no more to say about his year away than the average child says when a parent asks, 'How was school today?' Don't share, don't say, don't trust, don't feel and don't open up; "try to forget it" was one unspoken mantra issuing from that war.

Whether it succeeds or not, this book attempts to honor all who served, to give solemn thanks to those who did not make it back to their families and hopes to provide some small glimpse of the woes, challenges, and demons experienced by one simple guy from Maryland. This pilot had one goal to be as effective as possible in performing his duties and to help as many people as he could until his Higher Power took away his ability to serve. In that fateful year, he never harmed anyone. He never killed anyone. Along with the talents, accompaniment and aid of a variety of skilled crew members, some of whom may not have understood him, he saved hundreds of people. Some of them were heading towards death at an accelerated rate of speed. The dash was slowed by the swift stick of an IV needle and by the 110 knots of air speed that carried that man or men to a hospital. No one died on my ship in the entire year. I hope that none of the ones just clinging to life when we handed them to the EMT's later succumbed. Yep, I hope that everyone lived and got home and thrived.

This is an easy book to read. There are no conscious embellishments. If something was misremembered, that happened despite an enormous effort to get the fact straight in my memory bank. They were always straight in my heart.

About the Author

Shortly after completing the U.S. Army's Rotary Wing Aviator's course, author Arnold Sampson was assigned to the 68th Medical Detachment (helicopter ambulance) in the Republic of Vietnam (RVN) where he spent much of his tour in Chu Lai. During that tour, he spent time in the unit's two field-standby sites located at Ban Me Thuot and Duc Pho, and he also had a short temporary duty stint with the 254th Medical Detachment in Nha Trang.
With assignments as the unit's supply officer, acting detachment commander, executive officer, and operations officer, he became intimately involved in the day-to-day operations of a medevac unit. Seven months into his tour, he became an aircraft commander with the call sign Dustoff 85. To him, that felt like a 7-year sojourn.
He was awarded several commendations that were part of a team/crew effort. However, his two Purple Heart awards, awarded after separate injuries from shrapnel, and his Broken Wing Award were more singular and very personal. During his short year of service, he was also awarded the Bronze Star, at least five awards of the Air Medal with "V" device for heroism, a Distinguished Flying Cross, and a Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Silver Star device for heroism.

After returning to the States, he earned an FAA commercial helicopter pilot's license while stationed at Fort Ord, California. He is writing this book to recount the most vivid memories of his varied experiences in the unit in hopes that telling his story might enable him to sleep better at night. He has post-Vietnam insomnia and tranquil sleep often still eludes him. With this book he is paying homage to friends who died in-country or who succumbed to the long tendrils of the war once they got home. He values them, misses them, and dedicates this book to their memories and their families.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781098391904
ISBN-10: 109839190X
Publisher: BookBaby
Publication Date: July 1st, 2022
Pages: 200
Language: English