“Shotgunners, or officially aerial door gunners, are tough, skilled Soldiers trained to protect the sky-coaches flying over South Vietnam,” says the film’s opening.
The 1966 Army short only runs about four minutes but is a window into training at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii which at the time was home to the 25th “Tropic Lightning” Infantry Division. The military began arming their transport helicopters in Southeast Asia as early as 1962, first just with rifle-armed gunners then with light machine guns such as M1919A4 Brownings and later M60s.
By the time the above film was made, the program had been expanded and fully established, arming UH-1 Hueys with both door gunners– for “slicks”– as well as gunships with externally mounted rocket pods and machine guns. Just after this film was shot, the Army began fielding dedicated AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters, but of course, door gunners continue to this day.
Be sure to look out for lots of groovy M60 footage as well as a short burst of M14 on full-Freedom.