Today in History – March 14, 1969 – 1Lt Jim “Ollie” Grewell ejects and is saved by a tree.

Jim “Ollie” Grewell Caterpillar Story

My unassing was late afternoon on March 14, 1969 when Reeseman and I were doing a road cut on the HCM Trail on the Cambodian border west of Phu Cat.

I was just ready to release in a 30-degree dive at 470kt when [F-100C #] 54-1740 wound up at about 360degrees per second and the last thing I recall is grabbing the ejection handles. The chute did not have time to fully open.

I went through a tree and that is what saved me. I came to a few minutes later and my helmet was laying on the ground in two halves like an eggshell, held together by the O2 mask, and hanging from my harness by the hose. The FAC, Troy Usher was on the radio coordinating the rescue and Reeseman was at altitude on a tanker when an Army Huey called asking if they could help.

They were only five minutes away hauling supplies to a firebase camp and the FAC directed them to my location. The Jolly Green was still thirty minutes out and there were empty enemy bunkers in the area, so I took the Huey’s offer to give me a ride out of there. They dropped a one-hundred-foot rope with a noose on the end and slung me out and over to a clearing, dropped down, and pulled me on board.

As they exited they emptied their automatic weapons on the bunkers and the floor I was lying on was covered with hot brass. They took me over to an army base hospital west of Phu Cat and the Jolly Green crew was not happy that I took the first ride offer out of Cambodia acing them out of a rescue.

My left elbow was broken but other than that I was just severely bruised from head to toe. CWO Bonebrake the Huey AC and his crew brought my bricks and six-shooter to me a few days later in the hospital, so I was able to more properly thank them for the ride.

A week later, I was sent to a hospital in Japan and then to the hospital at Scott AFB, IL, until I was

released from active duty in July 1969.

Clive “Ollie” Grewell “Headed West” on June. 20, 2017.

To read more about his life as an F-100 pilot go to 

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