Tales of the RH/CH-53D helicopter
Paul Fiorillo writes:
I've never heard of or used the RH designation for the CH-53. It appears the Navy had some of those models used for airborne mine countermeasures. Marines only used CH-53Ds to my knowledge. Your uncle certainly did save a lot of lives. That plane could take a beating and keep flying. In fact, the life of the Flight line Chief of my squadron who was in Force Recon during Vietnam, was saved because at CH-53D came in to rescue what was left of his team. Master Sergeant Bosch was his name. One hardass mean bastard who demanded respect just by being in the room. He loved those 53s.
I do have another story about the CH-53D. It was when my Squadron was getting back from a deployment circa 1988, we were unloading our CH-46s at (Marine Corps Air Station) MCAS Tustin and while we were working away, there was a CH-53D hovering over a landing pad at about 200 feet above the deck. I could see the crew chief standing behind the crew door on the side of the aircraft with his white flight helmet on and his back sun visor down. The pilots were testing the flight controls of the plane before they took the bird around the test pattern. The 53 tilted forward a bit, then tilted back, then left, then right and finally it came to a stop still hovering above the deck at about 200 feet. The thrust of the huge blades blowing the dark exhaust to the ground. After a few minutes more of hovering there, I could hear the big bird start to strain. The massive blades began taking huge cuts out of the air making a deep WWwwwaaaaaaa as the huge bird took off into the sky straight up like it blasted off. Dark exhaust poured out of the engines as the plane gained altitude. I could see the helmet of the crew chief getting smaller and smaller as the helicopter kept launching higher and higher when finally at about 1500 feet above the ground, the big bird began to nose over to make its way around the test pattern. I was truly awestruck and amazed at the sheer power of that CH-53D. No other helicopter I had ever seen before that ever displayed such a immense amount of power.
To this day, I tell friends about that aircraft and it has impressed me to this day.
I don't blame you for being proud of your Uncle. There's probably a lot of Marines out there who are alive today because of the superb engineering that went into that aircraft. If your uncle was alive, each one of those Marines would thank him too.
I've also heard, from listening to conversations, that the CH-53s are surprisingly nimble even though they are so big, mostly because of the raw power at the pilot's disposal, but all that power is reserved for heavy lift, hence a CH-53's squadron designation HMH, which stands for Helicopter, Marine, Heavy.
Take care Mike.
At the same time I was posting this, a CH-53 crashed in Kabul
, killing all aboard, and two children. Seeing the best thing he could build get beat by Murphy
ate my Uncle Bill's soul. He'd never see the his glorious bird powering through the air on TV. Never.
He'd only see a CH-53D when there was blood, and smoke, and wreckage. Usually on every channel on the news.
William Taht died of cancer 17 tears ago.