“I Did Everything I Could To Bring Everybody Home”: An Attack Helicopter Pilot In Vietnam

Stephen C. Darrah


MAJ(R) Stephen C. Darrah graduated from West Point in 1965 and commissioned into the Infantry. After several years at Fort Campbell in the 101st Airborne Division, he transferred to aviation and deployed to Vietnam as a pilot, where he served two tours as a gunship platoon leader and assistant Operations Officer in D Company, 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion, and as the Executive Officer of C Troop, 2/17 Cavalry. In this interview, Steve Darrah talks about his time at West Point, his experiences playing squash and tennis, and one of his early mentors. He describes his decision to switch from Infantry to Aviation and the armament common to the type of gunship he flew. He provides examples of the types of missions he flew, including “Firefly Missions,” and explains the differences between UH-1B & C Huey model gunships and the AH-1G Cobra gunships. He then discusses several operations supporting Long Range Reconnaissance Patrols and Special Forces missions, along with flying through heavy anti-aircraft fire in the A Shau Valley. He concludes the interview by comparing his first tour with his second tour and subsequent assignments, ending with observations about his career.


conflicts Vietnam War
topics War in the Air Wartime Decisions USMA 1965 Army Athletics Leadership
interviewer Fredric Laughlin
date 11 April 16


name Stephen C. Darrah
institution USMA
graduation year 1965
service Infantry / Aviation
unit D Co, 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion, 1st CAV / C Trp, 2/17th CAV, 101st ABN
service dates 1965 1974