Mohawk Recon

Vietnam from Treetop Level with the 1st Cavalry, 1968-1969


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About the Book

Before unmanned combat drones, there was the Grumman OV-1C Mohawk, a twin-engine turboprop fixed-wing reconnaissance aircraft loaded with state-of-the-art target detection systems. Crewed by a pilot and observer, it flew at treetop level by day, taking panoramic photographs. By night it scanned the landscape from 800 feet with side-looking airborne radar (SLAR) and infrared. This lively, detailed memoir recounts the author’s 1968–1969 tour with the 1st Cavalry Division in Vietnam, serving as a technical observer (T.O.) aboard an unarmed Mohawk, searching for elusive enemy forces near the DMZ and along the Laotian and Cambodian borders, dodging mountains in the dark and avoiding anti-aircraft fire.

About the Author(s)

Russell Pettis served as a corporate fleet manager for a Fortune 500 company and wrote a monthly automotive information bulletin, covering driving techniques, new automotive technology and other safe driving guidelines. Currently he serves as the C.F.O. of Pettis Education, an educational consulting company. He lives near Annapolis, Maryland.

Bibliographic Details

Russell Pettis
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 158
Bibliographic Info: 17 photos, index
Copyright Date: 2021
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8736-0
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4525-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface: Vietnam, May 1968–May 1969 1
Introduction 5
1. The Letter 9
2. Oakland, California: One of the Gateways to Vietnam 15
3. First Mission 19
4. The Outhouse Transaction 30
5. The Rats versus McMann 34
6. A Typical Day: There Was No Such Thing; Sometimes They Don’t Miss Their Target 37
7. Dad, Can I Use the Family Car? 57
8. Tents versus Hooches 62
9. Midnight Requisitions Courtesy of the United States Marine Corps 64
10. He Said That He Would Not Be Going Home 67
11. The Marines and the Boomerang Does Come Back 69
12. The Royal Australian Air Force 71
13. Moonlight, B-52s and Battleship 73
14. LZ in the Morning and Jungle Clearings 80
15. All Three Landing Gear Wheels Are Supposed to Come Down, Aren’t They? 84
16. The Thief at An Khe 87
17. The Big Move South 94
18. Haka 102
19. Guard Duty, Vung Tau Style 108
20. The Green Berets Asked Us to Find a Concealed .­51-Caliber Machine Gun 112
21. Flat Tire and a Ride in a Loach with the 1/9th Cavalry Scout Platoon 115
22. Black Knight 22, You Have Two Bogeys Approaching from the Rear 118
23. Cats Supposedly Have Nine Lives, How Many Do People Have? I Used Six or More of Mine on One Mission 121
24. UFO and Something Else 129
25. Vertigo, 37 mm Anti-Aircraft Guns, GCA ­Foul-Up and Trucks in the Michelin Rubber Plantation 133
26. Incoming, and No, Lieutenant, You Cannot Fly Under That Bridge 140
27. Short-Timer and Finally Home 144
28. Military Awards and Service History 149
Index 151

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Anyone who served on operations in Vietnam is going to feel right at home with Pettis’ experiences as a member of the 1st Calvary Division… I immensely enjoyed reading Russell Pettis’ account of his exciting missions, along with his descriptions of day-to-day grunt life in Vietnam. I highly recommend Mohawk Recon.”—VVA Veteran