The Nighthawk ship was Viet Nam War inspired configuration of the "Huey" helicopter. A Nighthawk UH1-H was equipped with one .50 caliber and an M-60 on the left side and a mini gun on the right. Also installed were a starlight/infra-red scope and a 1 million candle power lamp. Six man crew on board consisted of 2 pilots, 1 crew chief (mini-gun), 1 Light man, 1 50 cal. door gunner, 1 M-60 gunner.

Sometimes the missions called for Cobra "GUN" support but most of the missions times were run with only a chase ship in case the Nighthawk ship was shot down.

Starting with an occasional night flight in 69,these missions became an effective weapon against the enemy and by 71 were routinely flown. The object was to fly low and spot enemy movements at night; sometimes drawing fire and then suppressing it.

My name is Mario Alberto Cruz. My tour was May 70 to May 71. Crew chief Sp5. One month was spent in "Slicks" the rest of my time was in the "Nighthawk Platoon". I hope these pictures honor those who call themselves, "NIGHTHAWK". 

My MOS was 67Y20, Cobra Mechanic. I got out of the hanger to slicks, then Nighthawk.
I believe this was the Guns "ammo shack"


Photos are Thumbnails - Click to Enlarge

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This is Charles "Al" Allen (good shot of the mini-gun, light and starlight scope).

This is me, Mario. Taken Dec70.
On stand-by at Hawk Hill. 

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Al and I were doing daily's.
This shot shows the fighter revetment in the background.

Good shot of Al and the scope

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Nighthawk 324


I left the military in 1972. I joined IBM in 1973 as a Field Engineer. In 1980 I went to work for Digital Equipment Corp (now Compaq). After 22-years, working mainly in the aerospace industry, I finished my hardware career in 1994 as a Field Support Engineer.  When I left the computer industry I became a Systems Analyst for a law enforcement drug task force in Los Angeles. Back in a war, it's now the "War on Drugs". I married my Viet-Nam pen pal in 1972. She has been my "Heart and Soul" for the last 29 years. If not for her, I would be a statistic. In 1998 I earned my private pilot's license (SEL); I just had to do it.


Mario Alberto Cruz    

 April 2001



Americal Division

"We will never forget those who are no longer with us"


Page 2 - "Blues Flight"  

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