One Ride With Yankee Papa 13: Larry Burrows’ Photo Essay

Life Magazine’s chilling photo essay of the Vietnam War, “One Ride With Yankee Papa 13” by Larry Burrows, offers a gripping depiction of the daily hardships of American troops. 

Burrows, an English photojournalist, had been covering the Vietnam War ever since 1962 and accepted a request by Life to create a photo essay in 1965. Of course, when he signed on he had no idea if the time spent with the helicopter squad would be relatively peaceful, or if they were going to see constant action. As it turned out, Burrow’s trip would be anything but forgettable. 

Burrows and the helicopter crew of YP-13 (Yankee Papa 13) endured a hail of fire from enemy Viet Cong machine guns, and was given the order to press on for as long as their helicopter was still operable. They spotted a downed US helicopter, YP-3, and it was immediately obvious that the crew was in trouble. They landed just long enough to haul YP-3’s crew on board and took off, all while Pfc. Wayne Hoilien poured bullet rounds into the treeline.

The photojournalist describes the harrowing event, “Bullet holes had ripped both left and right of his seat. The plexiglass had been shot out of the cockpit and one V.C. bullet had nicked our pilot’s neck. Our radio and instruments were out of commission. We climbed and climbed fast the hell out of there.” 

To see the photo essay “One Ride With Yankee Papa 13” in its entirety, visit Life’s website and get a close-up look at the face of war.

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