This letter is to the crew of the gunship flying in Binh Duong province South Vietnam on May 17, 1969. To me, it’s like a message in a bottle. I hope one of you is still alive somewhere, and by some coincidence read this. I’m writing to say “thank you.”

Fifty years ago on that day, I was a soldier in the First Infantry Division near the Iron Triangle just north of Lai Khe. I was ambushed and lost five men within seconds. Two of us survived. Within a few hours, I found myself the sole survivor. Your gunship and crew of the First Calvary Division Airmobile rescued me.

Under fire you flew in; landed; took out enemy forces; and picked up me and my best friend and flew us to a nearby base camp for treatment. We were both bleeding to death. I would not be writing this today without you. And I’ve never had the opportunity to thank you. I don’t know your  names; where you’re from; or how to contact you. But you gave me a chance at life that others didn’t have.

After eight months in the hospital and several more thereafter recovering, I returned to college, learned a trade, became successful, have enjoyed the love of a woman, and have created memories that others didn’t have the opportunity to make. All because of you. I now live in a beautiful part of the country, and will spend my remaining years thankful that you risked your lives saving mine. But, more importantly, I hope that you survived as well and have had the same happiness that you have given me to enjoy all these years.

Bless you.

Rich Newcombe


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