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TOMAHAWK HISTORY CONTINUED
OPERATIONS AND TRAINING
During the month of JULY, the 128th Aviation Company continued to support the
On 1 JULY, the “TOMAHAWKS” received a mission from the 11th Aviation Battalion
The 128th Aviation Company was alerted at 0900 hours, 5 JULY 66, to proceed to
At 1020 hours the slicks lifted a company size force of ARVNs into a blocking
position, which surrounds a network of small canals. The “GUNSLINGERS”
pre-struck and attacked the area, sinking 3 VC sampans and destroying one foot
bridge. At 1500 hours the
The 128th Aviation Company was given the mission of supporting the 2/27 Inf. Bn,
25th Inf. Div. located at Cu chi. On the morning of 6 JULY 66, 7 slicks and one
light fire team arrived at Cu Chi to lift a reinforced company into an LZ area
near the village of Tan My. The 2/27 Inf. had just swept this area on the 5th of
JULY and this airmobile exercise
The “TOMAHAWKS” had an early breakfast on the morning of 8 JULY and reported at
On 9 JULY the 128th Aviation Company was given the mission of reinforcing the
145th Combat Aviation Battalion during an airmobile assault. The 2nd Battalion
of the 503rd Infantry was lifted into an LZ four miles south of Xaon-Loc on a
search and destroy operation. The troops were picked up at Bien Hoa and due to a
low ceiling, were flown
On the afternoon of 9 JULY 66, the “TOMAHAWKS” and 5 gunships departed for Vinh
On 12 JULY 66 the “TOMAHAWKS” were assigned the mission of providing airmobile
support to the Special Forces Camp (Det-B32) Tay Ninh. The mission of the
On the afternoon of 12, JULY 66, the 128th Assault Helicopter Company was given
the mission of providing direct airmobile support to the 2nd Inf. Bde, 1st.
Inf. Div., who is conducting the division’s operation, “El Paso II”.
The area of operation is along
Since the “TOMAHAWKS” were providing direct support to the Bde, aircraft
commitments were established by the Bde. and the company Operations Officers in
the forward area.
Some of the different types of operations that were conducted during El Paso II
were combat assaults of company size, road clearing exercise, (Highway 13),
With a need of more devastating firepower to cover the Infantry’s movement
In order to lift the mortar sections and their 1,600-pound sling loads, the aircraft were defueled to 700 pounds, plus leaving behind the door gunners and extra gear.
The pathfinders were used in the PZ and LZ on this first move. In addition the
During the first mission the “TOMAHAWKS” flew 39 hours made 93 sorties, carried 103 passengers, and hauled 32.7 tons of equipment and ammunition. The gunships escorted the slick and they flew 2,018 hours.
On this first airlift mission of Light Horse Artillery, two problems were
The remainder of the month the “TOMAHAWKS” supported the Bde during its search and destroy missions, plus provide aircraft and fire teams to other units with higher priority.
One of the missions occurred on 23 JULY 66 when the 128th Assault Helicopter
The flight of 20 slicks departed Phuoc Vinh at 0730, with instructions to remain
The air mission commander was the Commanding Officer of the 162nd Assault
On JULY 28, the “TOMAHAWKS” were attached to the 173rd Aviation Company
for the purpose of making a combat assault 5 miles northeast of Den Dong So. The
flight was delayed until 0910 due to zero flight conditions. On this mission,
the slick door gunners were left at Phuoc Vinh, because the ground mission
commander desired to put as many troops into the LZ as possible on the first
lift. The increased number of troops totaled
Throughout the remainder of the month, the 128th continued to support the 2nd Bde at Quan Loi. Much of this time was spent on stand-by, that is, to lift a ready reacting force into an area that was suspected of being infiltrated by Viet Cong.
STATUS FOR JULY
Number of flying hours: l,558.9
Number of pass hauled: 6,587
Number of tons hauled: 216.2
Number of sorties: 3,840
Average Aviation Time: 67.6
Service Platoon & Maintenance:
With the increased number of hours building upon each helicopter, plus the severe utilization and adverse conditions in carrying out the company’s mission all add up to a higher percentage of down time. Many of the aircraft are approaching 1000 hours, which requires closer and more frequent inspections. Aircraft availability for JULY was 76% for the UH-1B and 64% for the UH-1D.
393rd Transportation Detachment:
During the month of JULY the Detachment completed the following work load: 88 major work orders, 5 engine changes, 4 hot end inspections and 8 periodic inspections, plus numerous test flights. Captain Roger J. Sulzer, T.C., departed on 26 JULY and Major Dalano R. Brister, T.C., assumed command of the 393rd Transportation Detachment.
432nd Medical Detachment:
During the month of JULY the 432nd Medical Detachment gave a total of 137 routine immunizations and treated a limited number of patients for minor accidents and diarrhea. Major Gene C. Reed, Major Alejandro F. Martinez, CWO Jene R. Oates, WO Thomas Blanchard, SGT Nicholson, and SP4 Paul Bynum were treated for wounds received on a combat assault 12 JULY 66.
Captain Frank F. Anzalone was transferred to Phouc Vinh as the Aviation Medical Officer for the 162nd Aviation Company.
The month of JULY was to be the month that the 128th Assault Helicopter Company
Upon considering these facts and others it was decided at higher headquarters to postpone the move indefinitely. After receiving this information, the improvement of the Company area began to pick up.
The month of AUGUST was the advent of the Officer Infusion program for the Tomahawks. Since the unit came from the United States, one year ago to the month, most of the experience and lessons learned would be lost by a rotation of 90% of its members. To correct this situation the units of the 11th Avn. Bn. redistributed their personnel to preclude any one unit from rotating in mass during any one or two months. Though 16 new Officers & 30 new enlisted men were assigned, the majority were from other units. This type of infusion program is a constant program for all of the battalion.
Personnel Strength for the Month of AUGUST
Officers Warrants Enlisted
432nd 0 0 12
A new Commander took charge of the Tomahawks during AUGUST, Major John P. Casey, Jr. from Springfield, Virginia. Prior to assuming command, in order to appreciate fully the capabilities and problems of his unit, Major Casey spent several weeks flying and training with each of the platoons on a wide variety of missions. A company formation was held and the symbols of command, the Tomahawks and War Bonnet, were passed from Major Gene C. Reed to Major John P. Casey, the second Tomahawk 6. Major Reed had assumed command on 6 AUGUST 1965 and held the job during that busy, building, combat-tested year.
The 128th remained in direct support of the 2nd Bde, 1st Inf. Div., during most of AUGUST. Our area of operation was Hon Quan, Loc Ninh and the surrounding rubber plantations.
On 1 AUGUST the Tomahawks began repositioning elements of the 2nd Bde. from Loc Ninh to Quan Loi starting with the 1st Light Horse Assault Arty. at 0940 hours after a short weather hold. Later B Company of the 1st Bn., 18th Inf. was moved to Quan Loi. At 1320 hours the Tomahawks went on 5 minutes stand-by with a 35 man ready force. At 1345 a long range patrol made contact with a VC force of unknown size, the ready reaction force was called to the air. Major Lawrence, flying the Command and Control ship spotted the LRP and coordinated their pick up. Under the cover of the Gunslingers the LRP was extracted from a single ship LZ, which resulted in damage to one set of main rotor blades. With additional support the Tomahawks continued to move the 1st Bde. 18th Inf. from Loc Ninh to Quan Loi, completing the move by 1845 hours.
The 2nd of AUGUST dawned with instrument weather and a mission to support the Big Red One on a road clearing operation, code named Cheyenne. This was one of many times Highway 13 from Phu Cong to Loc Ninh was opened for safe traffic. Our entire stay at Quan Loi was plagued by bad weather. Numerous thunderstorms and low ceilings of fog and haze were an almost daily planning factor. Finally at 1715, in spite of bad weather, the Tomahawks moved the 1st Light Horse Arty. from Quan Loi to Ap Tau. Again on the 3rd, the Tomahawks moved the Light Horse Arty to firing positions south of Chan Thanh. Again on the 5th of AUGUST, they were moved south of Loc Ninh in anticipation of a VC attack on the Loc Ninh outpost that night.
From the afternoon of 5 AUGUST to the evening of the 7th, the 128th participated in insertions and extractions of long-range patrols re-supply from Quan Loi to Phuoc Vinh and night surveillance missions. Each night 6 slicks and 1 light fire team would remain over night and (RON) at Quan Loi in support of the 2nd Bde’s night operations plus any emergency missions that might take place.
On 8 AUGUST 1966, the "TOMAHAWKS" were part of a 30 ship mission, lifting the 2/28th Infantry Battalion 3d Bde, 1st Inf. Div. from Phu Loi to an LZ 2 kilometers southeast of Di An. The "TOMAHAWKS" lifted 210 troops in 45 minutes. After the lift, the "TOMAHAWKS" and "GUNSLINGERS" returned to the Teepee to refuel and prepare to return to Quan Loi. About 5 minutes after departing Phu Loi, Captain Charles E. Silva's UH-1D 64-999 developed extreme tail rotor vibrations. Captain Silva turned back to Phu Loi, making one precautionary landing en-route. Just within the outer perimeter the tail rotor broke loose and snapped the vertical pylon off just above the 42ş gearbox. Captain Silva made a successful forced landing with no injury to the crew. The helicopter was recovered by a CH-47 within the hour.
On 10 Aug 66, after moving 1st Light Horse and 2 companies of the 2d Bn. 18th Infantry, which terminated about 1745, a gunship flown by CW3 Richard H. Schweitzer struck a tree limb while parking at the forward Teepee. The point of contact was made by tail rotor, which came off and was thrown approximately 75 feet. There were no injuries. At 1040 hours the "TOMAHAWKS" were called upon to move the remaining elements of the 2/18 Infantry Bn. from Loc Ninh to Quan Loi. Darkness was moving in and a light rain started to fall reducing the visibility to about one and a half miles. At 2035 hours one lift was completed with 9 slicks. As the lifts continued, the visibility became less due to ground fog and the rain. Upon departing Quan Loi on the 3rd lift the entire flight went IFR, causing utter consternation over Quan Loi The Gunslingers remained on the ground and thus spent the night at Quan Loi. The slicks continued towards Loc Ninh and in the process of letting down through the clouds and fog aircraft #935 flown by Major Fred W. Pierce Jr. and CW3 Billy McGlothlin hit a tree with the elevator almost causing a serious accident, but due to the fast action of the crew the helicopter was landed safely at Loc Ninh. Due to the low ceiling, ground fog and rain plus total darkness the flight remained at Loc Ninh. The crews slept either in, on top or under their aircraft. At 0645 hours the following day the flight departed for Quan Loi except for #935, which was repaired by Witch Doctor and returned to Phu Loi for a complete inspection.
From the 11th to the 23rd of AUGUST, the company continued to support the 2d Bde. at Quan Loi. Each day, missions were about the same.... dropping of 7 and 14 man teams to probe through the jungle and rubber plantations to search for fresh signs of “Charlie”. Throughout this period no significant contact was made by the LRP's. Some re-supply, command and control and combat assault missions were flown. On 23 AUGUST, the forward element of the 128th Assault Helicopter Company was displaced back to Phu Loi, thus closing out all operations at Quan Loi. The mud was so thick that the Air Force C-123 would fish tail on landing and could only come in about half the time. One of the more pleasant aspects was the chow; it was generally acknowledged that SP5 Lawson did an outstanding job with the field mess.
The "TOMAHAWKS" had a very busy day on the 24th of AUGUST 1966, making three different combat assaults in one day. At 0700 hours the "TOMAHAWKS" joined A/501 and 118th AVNCO at Xaun Loc in support of the 173d Airborne Bde. The pick up site was a narrow road running through the jungle 18 kilometers east of Binh Ba and the drop off zone was a jungle clearing 3 kilometers east of Binh Ba. The "TOMAHAWKS" carried 160 troops in 3 lifts returning to Phu Loi at 1100 hours. At 1215 they were alerted to proceed to Bear Cat ASAP to lift a security force into a new artillery base north of Ngai Giao. The pick up was made at Bear Cat and the mission went according to plan. The GUNSLINGERS provided en-route escort for the 3 lifts. The lift was completed at 1635 carrying a total of 151 troops.
At 1715 the "TOMAHAWKS" conducted another airmobile operation near the town of Ben Cat. The mission was to lift one ARVN Inf. Div. into an LZ 14 kilometers south, of Ben Cat on highway 13. A total of 14 lifts were made carrying 10 troops per aircraft utilizing 3 slicks and being escorted by the GUNSLINGERS. The mission of the ARVN Bn. was to search the town for VC and to protect the villagers from VC terrorism. The lift was completed at 1938 hours. A busy day for the flight crews, carrying a total of 632 troops.
On 25 AUGUST, the “TOMAHAWKS” supported the 5th Special Forces at Tay Ninh. At 0610 hrs the "TOMAHAWKS" lifted 3 different groups of CTT troops into 3 different LZ’s. All LZ’s were cold, but were pre-struck by the GUNSLINGERS and suppressed by the slick door gunners. After the lift, the flight returned to Tay Ninh and refueled to 1,200 pounds. The "TOMAHAWKS" flight then departed for the pick-up site to remain on stand-by. The pick-up site was located near the village of Ben Co Noi. The mission of the CTT groups was to break up a rear area security force of the VC. Very little contact was made in the LZ's and the CTT groups were pulled out at 1135.
The "TOMAHAWKS" returned to Phu Loi at 1225, only to be called on another mission in support of the 25th ARVN Div at Doc Hoa. The “T0MAHAWKS” arrived at Doc Hoa at 1255 and were briefed on the mission by the U.S. Advisor, who had been working with the ARVN Div. for the past 3 months. The mission of the 32d Ranger Bn. ARVN was to capture 100 Russian rifles that were reported in the village of Hoa Khanh. Three lifts were made into the LZ, which was pre-struck by the ARVN Air Forces and. the GUNSLINGERS. On the first lift into the LZ the slick door gunners suppressed the wood line and bunker locations. Only sniper fire was received and the lift continued until completed. At 1700 hours the C&C ship, flown by Major W. Lawrence attempted to land in the LZ but was hit by sniper fire and re turned to Duc Hoa to examine the damage. After final consideration of all factors, it was decided to leave the ARVN troops in their position all night and that they would walk out the next day.
From 26 AUGUST to 30 AUGUST 1966, the "TOMAHAWKS" supported the 25th Infantry Div on several of its operations plus working out of Tay Ninh repositioning supplies and ammo for new units that were arriving in SEPTEMBER. While supporting the 25th Infantry Div. during this period, a most impressive combat assault was conducted on 29 Aug 66. Working with the 2/27 Inf. Bn., the "TOMAHAWKS" made 2 lifts into 4 different LZ's near the town of Ap Tan Hoa. This new concept was quite successful in capturing 4 VC and their equipment, the GUNSLINGERS who supported the operation killed 4 VC trying to escape. After the US troops were dropped off in the LZ's, slicks flew to Boa Trai and picked up 50 MIKE Forces troops and put them into an LZ ˝ kilometer south of Ap Tan Hoa as a blocking force. The operation was completed at 1630 hours with the Viet Cong suffering heavy loss.
STATUS FOR AUGUST 1966
No. of flying hours 2,101.0
No. of pass. hauled 9,796
No. of tons (cargo) 3l2.5
No. of Sorties 5,329
Avg. Aviator time 81.9
SERVICE PLATOON AND MAINTENANCE:
During the month of AUGUST, 24 PE’s were performed which required approximately 200 man-hours per PE. JP4 used in AUGUST was 48,537 gal’s, 629 quarts of #7808 aircraft oil, 220 gallons of cleaning solvent, 165 gal’s. of motor oil and 9,740 gal’s. of mogas for 4 vehicles, trucks and the messha1l. Many little things plagued maintenance during AUGUST such as windshield wipers, rotating beacons, fuel quantity gauges, oil temperature and pressure gauges, fuel boost pumps and RPM warning lights.
393rd TRANSPORTATION DETACHMENT:
The Detachment for the month of AUGUST pulled 4 hot-end inspections, which required 120 man-hours apiece. Sheet metal was rather busy toward the end of the month as they repaired 7 ships for bullet damage.
432 nd MEDICAL DETACHMENT
This is the month of our lowest V.D. and accident rate. The Med Det. was able to move to a new location and improve their dispensary, which is still a tent. The platoon Sergeant, Edward King was promoted to E-7. This month they treated 77 patients and gave 137 shots. The detachment also had new medics assigned.
285th SIGNAL DETACHMENT
Avionics for the 128th Assault Helicopter Company continued to be performed in the same manner as it was in previous months. The detachment received 743 work orders and completed 735.
The major problem area in the Avionics area continued to be the ARC-54 FM radio. This problem, however, is prevalent to all Avionics Detachments in the Republic of Vietnam.
During SEPTEMBER the 125th completed the Officer Pilot infusion program begun during JULY and AUGUST. Many of the new Tomahawk Pilots came not only from the 11th Battalion's Units but also from the Headquarters and Staff Elements. The Tribe also received 8 Aviators from CONUS and said good-by to many old timers who were departing. Captain Charles E. Tennant was the only original Tomahawk left at the end of SEPTEMBER and held the record with 12 months in the theatre. Company strength held steady with the same infusion program taking place in the enlisted ranks.
Personnel Strength in SEPTEMBER
Officers Warrant Officers Enlisted
128th 22 22 129
393rd 1 0 69
285th 1 0 14
432nd 0 0 10
The Tomahawks were scattered to the winds during the first nine days of SEPTEMBER. During this time we were used mainly for single ship general support operations. Command and Control, re-supply, administrative personnel runs and psychological warfare missions were very common. Pre-Baton Rouge started on the 10th, and so began a prideful era in Tomahawk History. The operation began 6 kilometers east of Nha Be. The morning was peaceful and it appeared the old timers (or the short - short timers which ever you prefer) would wind up their year with a calm uneventful combat assault. They were very wrong. Shortly after the first drop-off of the 1st Bn., 18th Infantry, 1st Div. the VC became highly unfriendly. Our friends in the Duchess Battalion began to take casualties and needed help. A Tomahawk slick went in for the Medivac. Captain Newsome and WO Homes were shot down while on the first mission, however a four-ship security force protected the aircraft while the crew and sensitive equipments were evacuated with no casualties. Later on, the eight slicks went in to extract the ground element. Things got very hot and heavy for a while and when the smoke of the battle ended seven of the aircraft had received hits. Two of the Gunslingers aircraft received heavy damage while covering the extraction. Major Stewart and WO Wages were forced down when their hydraulic system was shot away. Warrant Officer's Clark and Hestand were forced to jettison rocket pods that had caught fire from the numerous automatic weapons fire; however, they remained on station and never ceased flying cover. The Gunslingers were credited with three confirmed kills by actual body count that afternoon. Operation Baton Rouge utilized all Tomahawk and Gunslinger aircraft between 11 and 15 SEPTEMBER. Rapid movement of troops and supplies was the established order and 1,400 troops and 27 tons were airlifted by the company during this period.
The men of the 128th had made such a favorable impression on the supported units during the first half of the month that a one-day operation by them was named Operation Tomahawk. It was accomplished on 17 SEPTEMBER, in memory of the 10th.
The Tomahawk lifted the Duchess Battalion of the Big Red One to Can-Gio on the 19th. It was a narrow beach area by the South China Sea, across the bay from Vung Tau and at the southern edge of the “Rung Sat” special Zone. Until the early days of OCTOBER, the unit supplied the Infantry with round-the-clock support at what was called the "Tarpon" area. Many combat assaults were made into this dead land of mud and more mud. Gunslingers aircraft destroyed several boats and were instrumental in helping to capture a sampan, which is now a permanent part of the 1/18 Infantry, christened Vanguard I.
Many of the memories the pilots and crews have of these days concern the beach...the sunrise and sunsets over the South China Sea...the many hours of stand-by...watching the small dog the 1/18 Infantry had attacking the sand crabs when the tide was out. Another item of great interest was fighting your way home each evening through the thunderstorms that seemed to form in a line between the “TARPON” area and Phu Loi. On one occasion all aircraft were forced to remain over night at Vung Tau due to bad weather.
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