Wayne Mutza served as a Huey crew chief, among other helicopter duties, during his tour of duty in Vietnam. His book, Aeroscouts in Vietnam: Combat Chronicles (Squadron Signal Publications, 136 pp., $34.95, hardcover; $24.95, paper), is a large-format, lavishly illustrated compilation of first-person reports by thirty-two men, most of whom flew the OH-6A helicopter—commonly known as the Loach—in Vietnam.
The book contains detailed accounts of the men’s tours of duty, along with lots of war-time photos, mainly of Loaches and their crew members. There also are present-day photos of the former pilots and crew members.
The small, well-armed Loach was used, as the book’s title implies, as an armed reconnaissance vehicle. “At the very least, ” the Loaches “yielded intelligence that pinpointed, temporarily at best, the locations of a clever and elusive enemy, ” Bill Staffa, who flew a Loach for the 123rd Aviation Battalion in Vietnam, notes.
The Loach crews, Staffa says, “were usually the most heavily armed two or three people you’d ever want to meet. The variety of weapons on board these aircraft and the ingenuity with which they were employed is the stuff of legend.”
Very “little real training prepared these young soldiers, ” he says. “Many died or were injured before they ever had the opportunity to reach their potential. The ones that survived did things most people have not dreamed of doing, and probably wouldn’t believe.”