“My cousin Bill Ostergaard was an Artilleryman with the Americal Division in Nam and cousin Bob Dwyer was a Marine F-4 Phantom pilot but never went “across the pond”.

Dad served with the 32nd Infantry Div, fought in New Guinea and the Philippines. His brother, Mel was also in the 32nd ID. Uncle Bill Ostergaard was a combat engineer in the pacific and Uncle John Dwyer was in the Navy in the Pacific surviving the Okinawa fiasco.

I was a helicopter pilot in Vietnam with the 101st Airborne during 1970 and 1971. The first picture is of me standing in front of the Eagle Dustoff Aircraft 460 and was taken in Khe Sahn during January 1971. I beat the air into submission. I’ve seen what it’s like to be on the giving and the receiving end.

My first combat unit was the Kingsmen, a “slick” Helo company where we would take the troops out to the jungle, then resupply, and eventually bring ’em back. My second unit I flew scout helos OH-6A, and my last unit was Dustoff a medical helicopter rescue unit. The medical evacuation helicopter was shot down during a mission in April 1971. My aircraft #460 that I flew all through the Laos operation without a dent in her until is shown here after another crew took her out. I was not on board that day. All four crewmembers died on October 10, 1971, CW-2 Chester Luc; WO-1 Thomas Stanush; Joseph Feeney; Sp4 David Funes.

I ended up being saved out in the A Shau Vally by B 2/502 and the “Blues” of the 2/17th Cav 101st and L Co 75 Rangers. We were shot down, which left me with a vertical compression of the spine and cracked vertebrae. One of the times I was shot was through the left thigh, which severed the sciatic nerve so they tried to do a nerve splice, which in the end didn’t work. So they had me in plaster from my chest to toes for way too long.

Today I do volunteer work for the Innsbrook Foundation, a charitable organization during the summer, and when I find out about any vets or active duty that need advice about dealing with the Army or VA, I try to help them as much as possible.”

~ Fred Behrens, Vietnam Veteran

Veteran stories collected by Jenny La Sala www.JennyLasala.com