J. (TONY) GEISHAUSER
Patriot, Chapter 1919
Vietnam) Article Sept 2001
A helicopter pilot delivers breakfast to a
company of paratroopers, 35 years late, and the troops love him for it
anyway. Who else but Tony could pull off something like that.
Anthony J. Geishauser was a
helicopter pilot in Company A, 82nd Aviation Battalion. That company, better
known as the "Cowboys", was the UH-l "lift" company supporting the “Sky
Soldiers” of the 173rd Airborne Brigade, homebased in Bien Hoa. From the way
those guys flew, the paratroopers they served thought those cowboy "huey"
pilots were very aptly nicknamed, and they were proud to have them around.
Early on the morning of March 16th, Company
B, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry, on Operation "Silver City" in War Zone
"D", had just over-nighted in dense jungle. At 7 AM Tony flew in right on
time and brought his helicopter to a hover above the tiny little hole in the
high canopy that had been cut to make the company's LZ. He was delivering
mermite cans with a hot A-Ration breakfast, the first hot meal scheduled for
the paratroopers in two days. But, just as Tony started the tricky maneuver
of easing his helicopter straight down between the trees, a tremendous burst
of fire from an NVA heavy caliber AntiAircraft gun shattered the morning
calm and shot up his aircraft, destroying the tail assembly. The rotor of
the out-of-control UH-l chopped through limbs and vines on the way down as
it crash-landed with Tony thinking, "I just knew the transmission was coming
through the cockpit". But, it didn't. An instant later and the men of
Company B had reached the crash site. They quickly got Tony's crew out of
the wreckage and hustled them back inside their defensive perimeter. Just
then all hell broke loose. Nobody even thought about breakfast from that
A large combined force of NVA and Viet Cong
had moved up surrounding Company B during the night and were preparing to
launch a coordinated attack at 7:30, but Tony's morning breakfast flight
spoiled things for them by coming in a half-hour before they were ready.
That tipped off the paratroopers and gave them a few valuable minutes to
prepare for the fight. The fight lasted all day. After hours of intense
close combat, many fighter-bomber strikes, much supporting artillery fire,
pass after pass of helicopter gunships coming in firing, and "Cowboy" pilots
under fire dropping cases of ammunition into the perimeter for troopers on
the ground that were starting to run out of ammo; the enemy was repelled and
withdrew. More than 600 enemy dead littered the battleground and the trails
leading away from the area, while the paratroopers sustained nine dead and
scores of others wounded. That engagement would be recorded as one of the
major actions of the 173rd Airborne Brigade during the Vietnam War.
On Ju1y 6, 2001 at the
Reunion of the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Fort Worth, Tony Geishauser, former
"Cowboys" pilot was guest speaker at an event that included his induction as
an honorary member of 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry. Because he had been
shot down in an unsuccessful attempt to deliver breakfast 35 years earlier;
Tony, in turn, presented the battalion members present with 250 gift
certificates for a hot breakfast from McDonald's. Many of the "Sky Soldiers"
present had Tony autograph their breakfast gift certificates and kept them
as souvenirs of the reunion and of that battle years before.