First day of Operation Hastings, by Tim Bastyr (RTB)
July 15, 1966, is a day that all of us remember. That day is a “MUST” for a Remembrance. Throughout June and the first two weeks of July, I spent most of my time flying out of Dong Ha doing recon inserts and extractions. In fact, an awful lot of that time was with John Long at crew chief and on the other gun. Dong Ha was initially nothing more than a Marston matting air strip and an empty field. I can remember waking up on July 15 to the sound of a C-130 landing. The empty field had transformed literally overnight. UH-34’s, CH-46’s, a couple of CH-37’s and Hueys were all over the place. I was flying with Carl Babbitt as crew chief and on the other gun that first day; I can’t remember who the pilots were.
Late that first day, well after dark, we were settling in for the night. We were tired and just starting to realize what had happened that day and the losses we had incurred. About that time our corpsmen started passing out little 2 or 3 oz. bottles of VSQ Brandy. Man, I can remember how good that stuff tasted and the warm glow it left us with. I still have my empty bottle.