A veteran of the Fall of Saigon was at the Fall of Kabul

| August 18, 2021

BuNo 154038

Here’s an interesting story to come out of the Biden’s Kabul quagmire. The helicopter you see on the left is a US Department of State-affiliated CH-46. It was flying all day from the embassy evacuating people to the Kabul Airport. That particular aircraft has a long history of service to this country, dating back to Vietnam-times.

War is Boring has a great article on the storied history of the intrepid little Boeing Vertol helicopter.

As US forces withdraw and panicked allies flee a newly Taliban-controlled Afghanistan in one of the most humiliating moments of recent memory, one grizzled veteran -who has seen such a departure before- will be left behind to fall into enemy hands.

A plucky CH-46 Sea Knight, serial number 154038, is believed to have previously participated in the evacuation of Americans and South Vietnamese from Saigon as the North Vietnamese military took the city near the end of the Vietnam War.

Known as “Operation Frequent Wind,” the mission was to evacuate American civilians and “at-risk” Vietnamese from the collapsing country, which had been swept by the North Vietnamese after the US withdrew for political reasons.

Participating in the operation was 154038, which was first issued to the US Marine Corps in 1967. During Frequent Wind, the 154038 was photographed aboard the USS Hancock, immortalizing her presence during this chapter of history.

Old 154038 would change hands many times until 2011, when records obtained by Helis.com indicates that it was transferred to the US State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics on December 5.

From 2015 to 2020, the venerable ex-Marine workhorse would operate in Afghanistan under its dubious new master before being handed over to Red Air Transport, who decided to keep the helicopter in-country.

Flash forward to August 15, 2021, when 154038 was spotted evacuating US personnel from Afghanistan alongside Chinook helicopters.

In response to a post by the Barstool Operators Facebook page, which featured images of the veteran warbird, an individual wishing to remain anonymous claimed to be the son of the man flying 154038.

“That 46 was being flown by my father,” the poster stated, noting that 154038 was the only DoS CH-46 “up and running all day today, in an out of the embassy.”

The individual went on to state that “After [his father] landed for the last time, they disabled everything they could on that bird and are leaving it there at the airport.”

And thus, it seems, is the end of 154038, which will not join the husked remains of abandoned war equipment of the United States, Soviet Union, and other nations which found humility in the mountainous region that seemingly cannot be conquered.

A loyal workhorse to the very end, the “little Sea Knight that could.”

Rest in peace, 154038. You were not just a good Sea Knight- you were one of the best.

Category: Afghanistan

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

I’ll be honest, when I first read the headline, I thought for sure it was going to be about some guy that was 8 when Saigon fell, claiming he had been present for both events.

President Elect Toxic Deplorable Racist SAH Neanderthal B Woodman Domestic Violent Extremist SuperStraight

I hope that the pilots and crew were able to booby trap it with thermite. Maybe not enough to kill anyone “not authorized” trying to fly it (wink wink nudge nudge). But enough to melt engines, controls, hydraulics, etc. Enough to make 154038 a melted husk memorial.

The crew could have just left it airworthy. If any talibs were actually able to start it they wouldn’t be able to fly it any further than the scene of the crash.

E4 Mafia '83-'87

Wow…a -46 that’s still fying. Oh, the stories she could tell. We had a detachment from HC-8 Dragon Whales onboard for my 2 Meds & 1 North Atlantic deployments. It seems like a cruel fate for an old warbird who gave it her all.


Dismayingly ironic that a single helicopter and it’s aircrew have more COHESION, LOYALTY and HONOUR than a hundred Millers’, Bidens’ and/or Harris’ combined… Bravo Zulu CH-46 aircrew – for placing The Mission and all other above yourselves – you’ve definitely earned your rest, many gallons of beer and a nation’s unyielding gratitude for your bravery.


A got-damn Greek Tragedy. That 46 should’ve made it’s way into an aviation museum. It was present and saw service during 2 GIANT CLUSTERFUCKS in American History.

Sadly, it was left to rot and be forgotten in that shithole country.


[Edited to add the image directly -Mason]


Spot on Jay! Shoulda shoved some of those healthy young pu$$y assed Afghan men out of a C-17 and made room for that whirlybird to come home.

Yesterday’s episode of JAG was a flashback to a young Vietnamese that was passed up by his mother to the Marines on the last chopper out. He became a Marine Aviator and got jammed up by JAG, trying to save his baby sister from a prostitution ring. Typical Hollywood ending in that he saved his sister and was returned to flying status.

You gotta wonder with all of the comparing of the two time frames…how many Afghans will do as the Vietnamese did and become hard working productive American Citizens? Yeah…not too many.

The Other Whitey

Very different cultures. The Vietnamese, be they Buddhist or Catholic (I’m acquainted with plenty of both), are a hard-working people with strong family values and deep-rooted patriotism both for their lost homeland and for the United States. They make for good neighbors and are generally great people to know.

Would anyone apply that description to the residents of Afghanistan? I rather doubt it.


ToW – I know and worked with some Lions of Pansjir and beg to differ. I would say too that they maybe of a minority in that shit hole.


…how many Afghans will do as the Vietnamese did and become hard-working productive American Citizens?”

Uh, zero! As soon as they get the word that there will be free food, money, and health care for life, they will migrate to places like Dearborn, Michigan, and dissolve into the most radical Mosques.


Some Lions of Panjir, some are American residents, have fallen back to their Valley and will take on all comers. They have done it for centuries.

The Other Whitey

That’s a goddamn shame. She should’ve been preserved on the Midway or at Flying Leathernecks or Pensacola. March Field has a C-141, tail number 65-0257, that was one of, if not *the*, last out of Tan Son Nhut in ‘75.


This is a good story among so many bad coming out now. Thanks Mason.


Ol’ Poe’s ol’ brain malfunctions again: I posted this comment under the wrong article.


154038, the little Frog that could. It used to be said about the 46: “if it ain’t leakin’, get the fuck out of it”. Good times.

Prior Service

This is cool.