Thanks to Paul Ferguson, Ops Officer 1968-69 for the
following photos of the 14,000th landing:
14,000th Helicopter Landing Aboard the USS Benewah
As I recall it was during the summer of 1969. It was mid morning and I had the 0800 – 1200 duty as OOD. We were, as was usual, at anchor, probably off of Dong Tam – we hung out there a lot.
Our watch had been advised to expect the 14,000th helicopter landing that morning, and sure enough, the radio crackled with a call to “Keybrook Echo” (that was us) asking for landing instructions. We responded, advising the incoming
chopper that she had a green deck, starboard side, and requested that they do a touch-and-go then circle and come in again for a full stop landing.
The Captain (Solomon was his name – a good man and excellent mentor) was advised as was the galley, and suddenly a cake showed up as did the Captain and QM3 Robert Zinn as well, with a tape recorder and microphone at hand.
The helicopter in question was a Navy Sikorsky – we called her the jolly green giant. Several times a week she made a visit, bringing the mail and an occasional new crew member.
So the helicopter came in, touched down, that made landing 13,999, and she immediately took off again. And that’s why we wanted that touch-and-go, so that she would come back around for a second touch down, making the 14,000th helicopter to land on our deck a NAVY helicopter instead of one of the many Army choppers that landed and took off from our deck every day.
QM3 Zinn interviewed the pilot and co-pilot, the cake was presented, and the Captain presented each crew member with a ship’s plaque. I usually had my camera on the bridge when I had duty so I was able to shoot the whole thing.
I’ve always wondered what Bob Zinn did with the interview tape. . . (LTJG Paul
Ferguson, Ops Officer)