The Last Combat Mission of Cobra 327

In Fairmont, Minnesota, a remarkable U.S. Army AH-1 Cobra gunship helicopter sits atop a pole in the center of the Martin County Veterans Memorial. Its serial number is 66-15327. The last combat mission of Cobra 327 was flown in February of 1971 by one of our own, long-time McAfee & Taft lawyer David Stinson, now retired. How this aircraft got from Vietnam in 1971 to Fairmont, Minnesota in 2023 is a story to be told.

This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the official end to the Vietnam War, when the last U.S. combat troops left South Vietnam on March 29, 1973. In honor of this and as part of our tribute this year to Vietnam veterans, McAfee & Taft is proud to present this special documentary.

By the beginning of 1971, the United States was in the throes of Vietnamization, the Nixon Administration’s push to end U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. Its objective was to equip and train South Vietnamese forces for an ever-increasing combat role while simultaneously reducing the number of U.S. combat troops.

At that time, 24-year-old Oklahoma native David Stinson was a U.S. Army first lieutenant who had been “in country” for seven months. He was assigned to C Troop in the 7th Squadron of 17th Air Cavalry as a combat pilot flying the venerable AH-1 Cobra attack helicopter. His unit had recently moved from An Khe in the Central Highlands of South Vietnam to Lane Army Airfield, just outside the city of Qui Nhon.

Within just a few weeks, he would find himself at the heart of a massive, highly secret, and exceptionally dangerous operation that would take the fight across the South Vietnam border into neighboring Laos. The journey would take David — and the rugged Cobra gunship he was flying — through a series of extraordinary events, testing the mettle of both man and machine, pushing both to their limits.

Written and directed by Brad Neese
Adapted from a story by David Stinson
Produced by Brad Neese and Karla Neese
Narrated by Chuck Brown

A Production of  Mind Trap Media
A Special Presentation by McAfee & Taft

Special thanks to:
David Stinson
Mike Cochran
Martin County Veterans Memorial
The Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum
Robin Croninger, Cody Smith, Caleb Taulbee, and Christi Chandler

Photos and footage courtesy:
David Stinson
Mike Cochran
Wayne Twiehaus
Martin County Veterans Memorial
U.S. Department of Defense
U.S. Army
National Archives
Library of Congress
The Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum
Getty Images
Mind Trap Media

“1960s Psychedelic Trip” — composed by Dennis Stimac;licensed via Pond5
“Sixties Rock”— composed by Kyle Duffy;licensed via Pond5
“Cinematic Army”— composed by Shawn Demetro;licensed via Pond5
“Ambient Drone Texture”— composed by Sean Cole;licensed via Pond5
“Documentary Nature Drama”— composed by Seven Sky; licensed via Pond5
“Drifting Home”— composed by Infraction;licensed via Motion Array
“Valor And Courage”— composed by DPmusic;licensed via Motion Array