When I read this story in the Salem News, I could hardly believe it. Simply beyond words.

Man tracks down pilot who saved his life in Vietnam

Rick Lindsey was lying on the ground, blood pouring out of the severed femoral artery in his right thigh, his femur bone shattered, when he saw a beautiful sight.

It was a U.S. Marine Corps Sikorsky UH-34D medical evacuation helicopter, swooping in to Hill 55 in Vietnam amid intense fire, its machine guns firing back.

“It was about 100 meters away, and I’m thinking, “Boy, I’d sure like to be on that,”; Lindsey said.

Lindsey, with the help of a cooperative Viet Cong soldier he had captured that morning, made it to the helicopter, as did two other injured Marines. As the helicopter roared away from the chaos below, Lindsay waved goodbye to the Viet Cong prisoner, whose finger Lindsay had shot off that morning. The POW waved back with his bandaged hand.

The Marines were flown to a hospital in Da Nang. All three survived. And Lindsay, who would go on to serve 24 years in the Marines before retiring as a lieutenant colonel, vowed that he would one day find out the identity of the man who daringly piloted that helicopter on May 13, 1967.

Lindsey’s search culminated on Saturday, when he flew from his home in Virginia to meet Leland McDonough of Beverly, the man who saved his life.

Here are Leland McDonough (l) and Rick Lindsay (R)

I knew it was the kind of story that our good friend Bruce McQuain would really enjoy. Bruce, a Vietnam Vet himself, is the man who brings us the Someone You Should Know stories every Sunday night. For once, I had the opportunity to tell Bruce about Someone He Should Know.

This was a great honor to be able to tell the story of Leland McDonough and Rick Lindsey. I can’t thank Leland enough for joining us and sharing it with us.

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