Taking Fire!

Memoir of an Aerial Scout in Vietnam


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About the Book

As a first lieutenant in the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, U.S. Army pilot David Porter was section leader in an Aerial Scout platoon in Vietnam. Their mission was to conduct reconnaissance in OH-6 aircraft (a.k.a. Light Observation Helicopter or “Loach”) near the Cambodian border. Finding and engaging the enemy at low altitude in coordination with an AH-1 Cobra gunship circling above, these units developed a remarkable method of fighting the Viet Cong: Hunter-Killer Operations. The tactic had great local success but died with the war. Few today are aware of the hazards these pilots faced during times of intense combat. Porter’s vivid memoir recounts the internal workings of a legendary air cavalry troop, in-the-cockpit combat actions, and the men who were key players on this perilous battleground.

About the Author(s)

Colonel David L. Porter retired after twenty-seven years in Combat Arms. In addition to Vietnam, he served multiple tours as a cavalryman on the German border, and commanded a cavalry squadron during the collapse of “the wall” in early 1990. He served in multiple combat divisions, Armor School, and various staff positions, including the Pentagon. In retirement, he became the Director of Admissions at Colorado Technical University and is currently a government contractor training America’s soldiers. He lives in Jackson, Tennessee.

Bibliographic Details

David L. Porter

Foreword by Major General Richard Davis, U.S. Army (Ret.)

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 182
Bibliographic Info: 23 photos, glossary, appendix, index
Copyright Date: 2020
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8051-4
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3908-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Foreword by Major General Richard Davis, U.S. Army (Ret.) 1
Preface 3
Prologue 5
1. In the Beginning 7
2. To Vietnam 15
3. The Quan Loi Military Complex 18
4. Hooch City 24
5. The Enemy 38
6. Indian Country 43
7. “Find the Bastards and Pile On” 51
8. ­Hunter-Killer Team Operations 64
9. The Characters 73
10. Starting with the Blues 79
11. To the Scouts 87
12. Life as a Scout: Now It Begins 99
13. “Find and report enemy locations and dispositions” 110
14. The Dink Build Underway 122
15. The Bad Days of February 135
16. Life After the Scouts 157
Epilogue 161
Glossary 165
Appendix 167
Index 169

Book Reviews & Awards

• “The stories are well written and allow readers not familiar with the Air Cav to get a look and feel of what it was like….Well written and a good read.”—Combat Helicopter Pilots Association

• “Taking fire is an excellent examination of the inner workings of the ACT and operating in Vietnam.”—Army Aviation Magazine

• “Impressively informative, vividly written…fascinating read from cover to cover…recommended”—Midwest Book Review

• “Dave Porter’s vivid description of the life and experiences of an aerial scout during some of our toughest battles in South Vietnam is a ‘must read’ for both old and young soldiers alike. A scout pilot and his aerial observer were ‘up close and personal’ with their enemy on a daily basis and only survived due to their skill and repetitive training. No one could tell their story better than ‘Dave’ a young cavalry lieutenant who flew the missions under the canopy and lived and felt all of the emotions that come with face-to-face combat.”—Pete Taylor, Lieutenant General, U.S. Army (Retired)

• “This gripping account of the mundane boredom and high anxiety of an Aerial Scouts’ tour in Vietnam keeps you glued to your seat as he shares his tour in-country. It contains riveting stories of inflight emergencies, emergency landings and coping with the loss of fellow Aviators, including the emotional homecoming reception—courtesy of the Californian war protesters—and reunification with his family upon his return to America.”—Gerald E. Klein, Command Sergeant Major, U.S. Army (Retired)

• “The bravest, toughest and most tenacious warriors I knew in the Vietnam War were Air Cavalry Scouts. My experience in an air cavalry troop parallels Dave Porter’s in enough ways to know that those whom he led (as well as Dave himself) measured up to those very high standards. I also know the author well enough to know that his accounts are accurate, and, perhaps even understated. An extremely high number of battles in Vietnam started with an air cavalry scout being shot down or hit while performing the toughest reconnaissance missions given. It is hard to imagine just how much pressure and pain those warriors endured. This important book begins to reveal just what warriors those Air Cavalrymen were.”—Paul E Funk, LTG US Army (Ret), president and CEO, The National Mounted Warfare Foundation

• “A riveting account of an Aerial Scout serving with the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment in Vietnam in 1969. This writing gives us a vivid picture of the challenges facing a young officer as he established his credentials as a true professional in our armed forces. The period discussed in the book describes the building of the foundation for Dave’s professional life. The reader will be pleased to know that he continued to serve our Army. Dave Porter enjoyed a long and distinguished career as an Armored Cavalry Officer. He was always leading from the front and caring for the soldiers and families in his charge.”—Joseph R. Inge, Lieutenant General, U.S. Army (Retired)