Above the Best by William McDaniel McCollum


Warrant Officer Daryl Miller was standing beside me as the mission commander briefed the pilots and crew members. Like most of us, he was just a kid, about 24 years old. He did not smoke nor drink, and I had never heard him use an ugly word. He was a great guy, a good pilot and my friend. The mission commander informed us that a Special Forces Delta Team was in trouble and had to be extracted immediately, as they were about to be surrounded by a large company of the North Vietnamese Army. After the briefing we all hurried to the flight line, and in minutes we were on the way. Daryl was the copilot in a UH-1D recovery helicopter; I was flying a UH-1C gunship… The weather was marginal with low clouds and poor visibility. The team on the ground was running for their lives. The radio traffic was going wild as Wolf Pack gunships made a couple of gun runs firing rockets and mini-guns to keep the North Vietnamese Army’s head down. The next thing I saw was the helicopter that Warrant Officer Miller had boarded rolling end over end down a steep hill. When it finally stopped rolling, it burst into flames. I could not believe that anyone could survive such a crash, but moments later I saw all four of the crew escape from the burning helicopter, seemingly with no life threatening injuries. The odds said they should have survived. With minutes Miller and two of his crew were killed while being rescued by a U.S. Air Force helicopter, a rescue which they should have survived. -Lance Ham, Warrant Officer, Wolf Pack Pilot, 1968-1969

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