Alastair Bridges - SAS insertions
Department of Veterans' Affairs
The SAS insertions were the ones that really got us uptight. And I think about those you, and yes, you'd be feeling pretty uptight about it when you were flying in there. We'd fly one helicopter at treetop level with the troops and another one high and behind it so he could actually give directions to you while you're down at treetop because you cant see the pad at that height and you'd be uptight until you were told "You've got a hundred metres to run" or whatever it was, I can't remember what they used to work on now.
And then you started to concentrate on the job and you're not really thinking about the problems at all which is why, if we went in there and there was VC on the ground and opened up on us, the troops behind would also open up and because I'm concentrating on flying that was always a fright to me. I just wasn't expecting it. I wasn't thinking about it at all. So you're pulling full power and get out of there as quick as you can, which is pretty slow because a helicopter going down will keep going down until it gets near the ground and then it takes its time to get out and we're working hard because the co-pilot is looking at the instruments making sure I'm not pulling too much power.
I'm looking at the edge of the trees to make sure we can get over those and clear those alright and once you were clear them, time and time again you just looked at each other and break up laughing, "Woo hoo We made that" sort of thing. The other difficult one then was when we did get them in then we'd go off and loiter for half an hour to see if they were okay and time and time again they'd have contact and call up and then you'd, again, concentrating very much on getting into there and getting the job done and it was afterwards that you'd start to sort of feel "Phew".
In my mind's eye I can see machine guns sitting over here firing at us on the ground. I just don't know why they didn't hit us. Definitely, I've got an extra hearing aid on here. The SAS just right behind you when they opened up, that was an ear-splitting noise, yeah. From the ones outside, the VC shooting at you, no I don't think I could never pick them, you'd just see the puffs of smoke but the other one you would hear was when the American, fasties we would call them, the jets would come in and drop their bombs that came in and dropped bombs and they were pretty close to us. We talked to them as well to make sure they didn't hit us. And you'd hear those things going off and you could feel the blast from them, so they were pretty close.