⇐ Back to Stories ⇑ Home

The “Bear”, The Roadrunner, and Intruder Success
John "Jack" Mayhew

In mid-1967, I led the Project Delta aviation task force that included the Bandits, the Wolf Pack, pilots from the Rat Pack, the maintenance support team, and Will McCollum the unit operations Sergeant to An Hoa, a marine outpost west of Danang. This was my first Delta, and it was to be a baptism by fire. The previous Delta OIC was Bob Moberg who was now the unit Executive Officer.

WO & AC Denis Petrevich,
The Bear

The first week was devoted to recon of the area and inserting Delta Recon teams. The next week I decided it was time to bite the bullet and insert one of the recon teams. I had wisely ask Moberg to give me a rundown on the pilots and crew members, and he proudly did so. As the time approached, I selected an aircraft commander with the nickname of “The Bear”, I figured if we did not make it we would have the toughest guy in camp on our side and for the record, he was at the top of Moberg’s list of “go to” pilots. At the anointed time we did our briefing, loaded the team, and tagged on to the end of the flight commanded by John Wehr. Darkness was swiftly approaching as we reached the LZ which was a very, very small opening in the jungle.

WO & Dave Bitle, 1967
Wolf Pack PLT SGT

As we approached the treetops, I realized that I was along for the ride; but I saw, first hand, the value of the coordination between the crew in the back and the pilot. Without the Intruders in the back we would not have made it into the LZ! The value of the Door Gunner and the Crew Chief stuck with me forever. This was a team carrying a heavy load in an underpowered helicopter, and by working together, they accomplished the impossible. The recon team was on the ground and I was called on to perform my only task. Key the mike and report “Bingo”. We climbed out and joined the end of the flight which had dropped us off and continued to fly west as a deception to give the team the element of surprise.

We settled in for the quiet flight back to the base camp and in a few minutes, the Intruder frequency came alive with the call of the “Roadrunner”. My first thought was, here comes a lot of unnecessary chat, but there was nothing but silence for the remainder of the flight. Over the next weeks, I heard the “Roadrunner” each time we completed a mission. At one point I considered starting a campaign to identify the voice but decided that it was a welcome touch signifying that we had successfully done our job. Years passed, and my curiosity got the best of me, and I launched a campaign to identify and thank the voice in the night. Much to my chagrin, I identified the voice but, his voice had been silenced. Rest in Peace Sergeant David Bitle; you did a good thing and we miss you.



⇐ Back to Stories ⇑ Home