United States rescue teams raced Viet Cong forces to rescue the seven crewmen of a downed helicopter near Khe Sanh on Friday (December 31st).
LV Helicopter and crew prepare for take-off (6 shots)
GV Helicopter in flight
Aerial LV helicopter over crash area with indication smoke
SV Stretcher lowered (2 shots)
SV Gunner returns ground fire
GV Stretcher pulled up with wounded man
SV Medical officer in helicopter
GV Two crewmen hauled up
SV Medical officer treats wounded
SV Helicopter over Da Nang trailing red smoke flare
Initials OS/2200 OS/2213
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Background: United States rescue teams raced Viet Cong forces to rescue the seven crewmen of a downed helicopter near Khe Sanh on Friday (December 31st). The craft had been shot down by ground fire when on patrol. Within minutes, U.S. Air Force rescue helicopters were on the scene from their base at Da Nang.
While gunships held off the encircling Viet Cong, rescue helicopter "Jolly Green Giant" moved in to pick up the seven stranded crewmen -- some of them wounded. Film of the rescue was shot by a Department of Defence cameraman aboard the rescue ship.
SYNOPSIS: At the South Vietnamese military base of Da Nang, a United States Air Force rescue mission gets underway on Friday. It was a race against time. A helicopter patrol ship had been shot down by ground fire during a mission. The seven crewmen some wounded, where encircled by Viet Cong forces.
The rescue helicopter -- codenamed "Jolly Green Giant" -- headed out over the jungle to the crash zone near Khe Sanh. A smoke marker on the ground pinpointed the position of the crashed patrol ship and the rescuers lowered stretchers to winch the wounded aboard first.
Gunners on the rescue ship were supported by other helicopter gun-ships which patrolled the area holding off the encircling Viet Cong. Only one of the crewmen rescued was found to have been seriously injured. The incident occurred almost immediately before the start of the New Year cease fire in Vietnam. The rescuer operation had lasted a mere ten minutes.
As the helicopters returned to base at Da Nang, a red smoke marker was burned to warn medical crews on the ground that they had a serious injury to deal with.