1/83rd Cobra Crash at FSB Blaze

Dan O'Brien (69-70)
"A" Battery

Dan sent this message to the writer of the Sgt Boyer article.

I dispute Sgt Boyer's testimony on the rescue of a Cobra pilot that crashed at Firebase Blaze in Vietnam. I was with A Btry 1stBN 83rd artillery, 3rd section howitzer crew. I was fueling 55 gallon drums when the Cobra coming in from the southwest was yawing uncontrolled towards where I was fueling from a fuel bladder up on a stanchion. There were two fuel bladders on stanchions, one diesel and one mogas and a few bladders on the ground for replacements once these emptied. There were not HUNDREDS. The Cobra came straight at me and he started losing altitude about 50 feet out and connected with the above bladder which forced the chopper to do a 180 degree turn, facing the fuel bladder but still upright on its skids. It missed my four drums by a few feet. I had moved about 50 feet so I would not get hit and in seconds, myself and another fueler who was also doing the same as me went directly to the aircraft where I had been standing, refueling. The engine was racing at full throttle but the damaged rotor blade had stopped turning on impact with the stanchion and was not a threat to us. We undid the latches on the undamaged door and opened it. The pilot was semi-unconscious and we had trouble with the seatbelt which finally came apart. We lifted this groggy pilot from his seat and carried him away from the aircraft. A captain showed up and took him to a medic station. There was nobody riding front seat as an enlisted gunner in the aircraft. I have been searching for the Cobra unit and pilot for 45 years. Alpha Battery 1st Bn 83rd Artillery XXIV CORPS was at Blaze in March and we came back from Firebase Cannon to Firebase Blaze in June after being evicted due to heavy enemy threat. We occupied Blaze all of July, August and September. I testify these facts to be true with witnesses from the 83rd artillery.

Dan O’Brien Ret US Army
3rd section MINDBLOWER

Dan then sent this message to some of the 1/83rd guys.

Do any of you remember the Cobra that crashed in to the POL fuel bladder at Blaze? I was filling the 55 gallon drums to fuel the Mindblower as we always did. I have been searching for years to find out if the pilot was injured or if he didn’t make it. A few days ago I came across an article written on a USMC site about Army Sgt Boyer who seemed to be traveling here and there and rescuing troops during his 365 tour. Sgt Boyer said it was very dangerous with over a hundred fuel bladders but he had to break from his normal duties to get HIS SOLDIERS out of the Cobra. There was an officer in the pilot seat in back and no enlisted gunner in the front seat. There were 4 fuel bladders and not 100. The latches opened easy on the above cockpit door. The rotor was damaged and not spinning but the engine was running at full throttle. Here is Sgt Boyer's version of that and other incidents that brought him an ARCAM medal. Maybe he was trying for a Silver Star. I was still trying for SPEC 4 but I was still 4 months short of the actual promotion.


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