rescue chopper suicide stance

In almost any Vietnam style chopper rescue scene on TV or in the movies, there’s a soldier standing on a runner in front of a huge open doorway on the side of the chopper and leaning back against the sole (floor) of the cabin, blasting away with an M16 or equivalent, while the chopper hovers or cruises close to the ground.

Is this for real? Is the cabin interior as well as the soldier suppressing the ground fire, generally allowed to be so exposed ?

Most helicopters are constructed from frame and panel elements which are made from extremely thin aluminum for the best strength to weight ratio. Such construction doesn’t lend itself well to withstanding bullets. Open door or not, protection for the occupants needs to be in the form of personal armor - not vehicular.

Having said that, I suppose there was probably some increased protection on the underside, but the scenario you describe is probably best avoided by keeping the exposure time short, and the suppression fire effective.

To the OP: yep. They were called door gunners and were firing M60 machine guns. Suppressing ground fire works both ways. If the gunner can get out there and hose down the entire LZ it works better for the lift. Of course, as you’re thinking, you’re going to have to be out in the shit to have that sort of field of fire.

A buddy of mine was a door gunner. His view was that machine gun fire in general makes people duck. He didn’t worry too much about aiming on the way in to LZ’s.

Also, per my ex, when they landed, the first guy out of the helicopter was a volunteer. If you were first out X number of times you got some kind of medal, because it was most dangerous, you’d be an instant target.

The door gunner was standing on the deck, not on the skid.

Fuji, for Hueys at least, the pilots had armoured seats, and side panels. They were entirely vulnerable from the front, except for chest protectors. No other areas of the chopper had armour. Too heavy. Bullets coming up through the deck into the cargo area were commonplace.

ratatoskK what you say contradicts everything I have read on the subject. All comment that I have read from grunts was to the effect that they wanted out from the chopper as fast as possible, even to the extent of jumping before it had settled, because the chopper was a valuable sitting duck full of enemy and drew the heaviest fire. A much more attractive target (and entirely without cover) than a single grunt hitting the dirt nearby.

Princhester, all I know is what he told me. What you say does not necessarily cxontradict this… once the craft is on the ground then I’m sure they all want out quickly. But there is still going to be someone who is first out, an individual not surrounded by a mass of others.

I just talked with my ex, and here’s the real answer. He was a radioman, and when the helicopter was flying around with a bunch of guys, he had to hang out of the helicopter because the radio (which was a big thing he wore on his back) didn’t fit inside. So he did hang outside and was the first individual out when they landed.

When they were going somewhere, either the artillery would “prep the area” first, or not, if they didn’t want to reveal their position. Then the helicopters would go in waves. The first wave to land was considered going into an “unsecured landing area.” If you were in the first wave 70 or 80 times, you got an “Air Medal.” If you did it another 70-80 times you got another Air Medal.