~ The Unsung Heroes of the Flight Line ~
When most people think about helicopters and what they do, they usually think of some hot-shot pilot doing all kinds of tricky maneuvers. What many fail to consider is that the pilot wouldn't even be getting off the ground were it not for the crew chief and door gunner making it happen.
They are the ones who are at the flight line hours before take off time, checking out and fine tuning the aircraft to make sure everything is operational. They are the ones who stay at the flight line for hours, sometimes late into the night, cleaning the aircraft and armament systems so it'll be ready for the next days mission.
They are the ones who are stuck in the cargo bay of the aircraft at the mercy of whom ever their pilot may be, as well as wide open to enemy fire. Uncle Sam thought about providing armored seats and sliding chicken plates for the pilots, but must have dozed off when it came time to provide a similar type of protection for the crew.
It was a long time before this dawned on me. I took too much for
granted. For that error in judgment I would like to apologize, to all
the crews that did the hard part, usually with little recognition or
appreciation. They are the people who made the whole thing come
together. They, on many occasions were the ones
with the brains and intestinal fortitude to make things happen in
order to have a successful mission. I salute you all and cannot heap
enough praise on you for the brave and magnificent job you did in