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The Centaur Timeline: 1966-1973


Events of 1966

January 1966


February 1966


March 1966

April 1966: War Story "The Jesus Nut" by Bob Graham: In army aviation, the “Jesus Nut” has become a real specific item to many. This story touches on this metaphor’s possible origin or development and how it played on the minds of a Hog crew returning from a night fire mission. We were supporting the fortified hamlet of Bo Tri when suddenly things seemed to go wrong. Violent one to one vertical vibrations threatened to bring the Hog out of the sky. This firsthand account has some short poetic lines about the divinity of certain chopper parts. The article was published in the The VHPA Aviator magazine. Mentioned in this story are MAJ Prosser, MAJ Squires, LT Alto, LT Allred, SP5 Cooper.

April 1966: "Counter Mortar Tactics–1966" by Bob Graham: April 1966 - March 1967, I experienced severe mortar attacks while on outsourced incountry training with the 114th AHC Knights gun platoon, the Cobras, at Vinh Long in the Delta shortly after arriving at Cu Chi. Their well-organized scramble to the alert horn put at least 60 Hueys airborne in minutes, day or night. At the Centaur Corral the tactic was to hanker down in the bunkers.

April 7, 1966: Book:"Baptism by Fire". Page 31 of "Centaurs In Vietnam; Untold Stories of the First Year"

May 6, 1966: TropicLightningNews Vol1No10 Countersigns Harass V.C. The Viet Cong have gone into the sign-making business. D Troop, 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry, found a Viet Cong poster tacked to a tree about three miles northwest of the base camp. It read: "Attention. This is a death area. Do not enter. Stay in the safe area." When Major General Fred C. Weyand, division commander, saw the sign, he decided to retaliate by ordering similar signs posted around the division's perimeter. The job fell to Second Lieutenant Leon Fox, of the 246th Psychological Warfare (psy war) Detachment. Lt. Fox contacted several printers and ordered 1,000 posters. The signs read: This is U.S. 25Th Infantry Division country. Any Viet Cong advancing beyond this point will be shot. But Lt. Lox didn't want to wait three to five weeks for delivery of the signs. With the aid of the psy war detachment, he had a stencil made and, while they waited for the printed posters, Specialist Four Philip Cloupier started hand painting the first of the signs. "We've turned out a couple of dozen signs," Lt. Fox said. "These have gone to the units guarding the perimeter. We let them post them where they think the signs will do the most good. Lt. Fox, in explaining his "signs of the times," said the division has erected its own death area for the VC - a reminder that the division plans to be around for awhile.

May 20, 1966: War Story "Little Bear Crash" by Bob Graham: Carl Burns and Bob first recorded this tragic accident in the book Centaurs In Vietnam. The topic has been reignited from discussions in email exchanges. The original accounts, page 60 thru 62 of the book were written in 2008 by eyewitnesses who did not have all the viewpoints. This article presents some added variation and may conflict in recording memories that are nearly five decades old.

June 1966: War Story "Shell Rep by Fearless Frank" by Bob Graham: Early June 1966, caught in the open with incoming mortar and recoilless rifle fire is the experience. Then CPT Frank Delvy dutifully conducts a shell rep as the rounds continue to fall around the Cu Chi base camp.

June 1966: War Story "Luck Has Its Day" by Bob Graham: Geometry and good luck save Centaur maintenance officer CPT Thompson when a mortar round lands within three feet of his bunk. In the aftermath CPT Delvy and I discover that Thompson is bleeding from wounds on the chest and back indicating that shrapnel may have passed through him. We did a mini damage assessment and attributed the minor wound to geometry and good luck.

June 1966: War Story "The Birth of Robin" by Bob Graham: This is an essay of an emotional event in my first tour in Vietnam, the birth of Diana’s and my third child, Robin. I share my experience of the evening at the Centaur’s new home at Cu Chi.

June 1966: War Story "Flameout 66" by Bob Graham: LT Herbert Caddell was my copilot for an early morning mission supporting the ARVN Ranger School at Trang Bang. Although the cloud ceiling was low, flying VFR on top was an option in fulfilling the mission. While establishing radio contact with the rangers, Herb and I experienced a flame out and executed an autorotation through the overcast, jettisoned our rocket pods and landed successfully in a dry rice patty. CPT Thompson in Stable Boy responded to our dilemma, and we were out to fly another day. I close the story with a poem “Emergency Reaction”.

July 1966: War Story "The Claymore Ambush" by Bob Graham: The Cu Chi base defensive perimeter of bunkers overlook wide bands of concertina wire. An area named in honor of entertainer Ann Margaret is the scene of a squad ambush by LT Alto’s aero rifles utilizing claymore mines. This account with a poem includes the tricky task of defensive wire maintenance and the stealthy setting of an ambush with a real nerve- racking surprise ending. Also named in the story are PSGT Horner, Squad Leader SGT Nixon

July 1966: War Story "Extractions – R – Us" by Bob Graham: July-August 1966
During a period of intense intelligence gathering, the split Centaur operation out of our forward base at Dau Tieng became overcommitted with two active LRRP teams. A compromised team called for extraction. I joined MAJ Mike Squires and his crew (crew chief James Pyburn and door gunner Herb Beasley) of 661 as copilot for the hot extraction. This article was published in theThe VHPA Aviator magazine. Also mentioned was MAJ Peterson.

July 01, 1966: TropicLightningNews Vol1No18. Downed chopper saved from Marauding Cong. General Weyand, 25th Inf Div Commander thanks 1LT John Alto for his AeroRifle Platoon rescue of a downed helicopter near the Iron Triangle.

July 12, 1966: Book:"Crashes & Hard Landings". Page 47 of "Centaurs In Vietnam; Untold Stories of the First Year"

August 1966

September 1966: War Story "LRRP Insertion" by Bob Graham: Actual event Around September 1966
This is a short vignette with poem of a LRRP insertion in the story “Cambodian Sunset” published in the The VHPA Aviator Magazine, The action was authenticated by personal contact with SP4 Mike Wood of the LRRP and SP4 Herbert Beasley, the insertion slick door gunner. The insertion slick crew and the five man LRRP team are all identified. Mentioned in this story are MAJ Squires, CPT Hatfield, Pyburn, Beasley and LRRP Team members; Arp, Wood, Blackman, Robins, and Caldwell

September 1966: War Story "Cambodian Sunset" by Bob Graham: Inserting the LRRP at choice spots along the Ho Chi Minh trail stretched the Centaurs operation out of Tay Ninh. Just after a picture perfect insertion as the sunset, an Air Force RB-66 spent a split second in nearly the same air space as MAJ Peterson and I in the C&C. This article was published in the The VHPA Aviator magazine. Mentioned in this story are MAJ Squires, CPT Hatfield, Pyburn, Beasley and LRRP Team members; Arp, Wood, Blackman, Robins, and Caldwell

September 2, 1966: TropicLightningNews Vol1No27 Stable Boy watches Helicopter Corral. When the helicopter pilots of D Trp., 3rd Sqdn., 4th Cav., fly their choppers out of the corral, they take the "Stable Boy" with them. The stable boy is a UH-IB helicopter which acts as a maintenance and recovery ship.

The airship was nicknamed stable boy by Maj. Richard W. Thomas of Wilmington, Del. It seemed only logical to Maj. Thomas that the aircraft designated to watch over the choppers flying from a corral should be called stable boy.

Maj. Nicholas H. Doiron of Chisholm, Maine, who pilots the stable boy along with Maj. Thomas, explained how they worked during an air operation.

With a crew of two pilots, a crew chief and gunner, a technical observer and a medical man, they fly above the other ships and are able to easily spot any chopper which may be in trouble.

Sitting down beside a downed ship, the stable boy crew moves into action. Medical aid is given to any injured and an appraisal of damage is made.

If the damage is minor, the ship is repaired on the spot. In the case of an extensively damaged aircraft, the crew, along with weapons and radios, is immediately evacuated. The damaged helicopter is picked up at a later time.
To date, the crew of the stable boy has recovered three downed ships, along with the crews and weapons. During one operation recently, they also succeeded in detaining a VC suspect until the gunships arrived.
The crew of the stable boy has become a priceless aid during air operations, and all pilots who fly from the corral consider it only good sense to take the stable boy along.

September 2, 1966: Book:Stable Boy & the Corral. Page 37 of "Centaurs In Vietnam; Untold Stories of the First Year"

October 2, 1966: TropicLightningNews Choppers rip VC. CPT Charles Robinson of Multon, Mass., dug his face into the soft floor of the bunker and waited. Once again came the whooshing sound, then the explosion and the clinking as mortar fragments hit tree branches.

Seconds before the first round had landed at the treeline, just beyond the tents housing the helicopter crews.
It was 12:10 a.m.; the armed-helicopter crews of D Trp, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav, were the men in the bracket at the Dau Tieng airstrip.

The next mortar missed the bracket and the men sprinted for the aircraft. With rounds falling close by they began to pull a pre-flight inspection for damage.

Team leader CPT Francis X. Delvy spearheaded the attack with rockets and machine gun fire as soon as the ships were airborne. Following close behind was Robinson's ship which blasted the area with rockets and 40mm grenades.

Suddenly the Viet Cong were trying to overrun several isolated outposts outside the perimeter and enemy fire had ripped into an armored column on its way to reinforce the outposts. Unable to contact the ground commander, Delvy followed the tanks' line of fire and attacked the VC positions.

As the pilots swooped in low to pump fire into the enemy positions, the VC turned their automatic weapons skyward. The door gunners in both aircraft returned the fire with their M-60's, lacing the VC positions. That night the door gunners fired more than 5000 rounds each.

October 02, 1966: TropicLightningNews Midnight mortar attack on Dau Tieng airstrip...CPT Frank Delvy (team leader) and CPT Charles Robinson sprinted from tents as rounds landed in treeline, got helicopters airborne...Centaur gunships attacked VC positions...then VC attacked isolated friendly outposts and a US armmored relief column...gunships, unable to contact US ground commander, attacked along main guns' line of fire and expended more than 5000 founds from door guns.

October 12, 1966: Book: A Day Late & a Nickel Short. Page 71 of "Centaurs In Vietnam; Untold Stories of the First Year"

October 28, 1966: TropicLightningNews Vol1No36 Rifle Team Destroys V.C. Med Supplies Five bags of rice spotted on a rice paddy dike led to the destruction of Viet Cong medical supplies by the Aero Rifle Team, D Trp., 3rd Sqdn., 4th Cav.

Spotting the bags of rice from the air, the rifle platoon landed to investigate. After a quick search, it discovered the cleverly camouflaged VC aid stations in two different groups of trees about 190 yards apart.

Although it made no contact the team did find eight medical first aid kits, eight tunnel head lamps, one rifle, two VC flags and miscellaneous documents.

Returning the following morning, the rifle team destroyed the aid stations with explosives. While sweeping the area for a third station, D Trp. encountered two VC hiding in heavy underbrush.
Both surrendered without a fight.

November, 1966

December 2, 1966: TropicLightningNews vol1No18 – New Mexico Family Adopts Division's Aero Rifle Platoon. Receiving letters from home at evening mail call is often said to be the best part of a soldier's day. This is especially true for the American fighting man in Vietnam who is thousands of miles from home. Even a short note containing bits of news and a few words of encouragement is a great help. Aware of this, the family of Mrs. Iva Jo Parratt of Carlsbad, N.M., decided to do something to let the men in Vietnam know that someone was thinking of them. Mrs. Parratt began by writing a blind letter to anyone in Vietnam who could supply her with the address of a platoon that she could not only write, but also adopt. Knowing the best way to gain quick results was to start at the top, she addressed the letter to any major general in Vietnam. The letter was brought to the attention of Col. Robert J. Coakley, information officer for U.S. Army, Vietnam. Col. Coakly thanked Mrs. Parratt for her voluntary offer to assist our fighting men a with this new and admirable method of correspondence." He added that she would soon hear from a platoon. Her letter was forwarded to the "Tropic Lightning" Division.

Once the letter arrived at Cu Chi, the Aero Rifle Platoon, D Trp, 3rd Sqdn, 4th Cav was selected as the platoon to be adopted by the Parratts. Filled with enthusiasm after hearing from Col. Coakley, Mrs. Parratt did not wait to hear from the platoon. She wrote directly to them using the partial address she had received from the colonel. In her first letter she introduced her family and explained why it wanted to adopt a unit in Vietnam. She wrote, "I know letters from home are a help to the fighting men in Vietnam. I love to write letters, so why shouldn't I help in the way I can?" She went on to describe each of her four children, "We have just purchased a new home," she added, "with an acre of land ..." In closing, Mrs. Parratt confessed she didn't ever know many men were in a platoon but her family was anxiously waiting to hear from them.

The letter was answered by the platoon leader, 1st Lt. John Alto, 24, of Seaside, Ore. He thanked the Parratts for their thoughtful offer and then explained that they had just adopted 42 infantrymen. He expressed hope that the Parratts would find the platoon and D Troop as interesting as she hoped. Lt. Alto stated that the family's interest in the platoon was a great morale booster.

In her return letter, Mrs. Parratt did not seem at all shocked by the adoption of 42 men, but was enthused with the project. She wrote that since she was a Cub Scout den mother, Lt. Alto's information about the platoon was a great help to her. She said that all of the children were very interested in what was happening in Vietnam.

The platoon recently received a box of fudge from the Parratt family as well as the weekly letter. The men of the Aero Rifle Platoon write as often as possible.

December 9, 1966: TropicLightningNews Vol1No42 Young Pham's 'Gift' Explodes in His Face. Pham Van Ca took his post early in the morning a mile outside of Cu Chi recently to await American convoys throwing candy, C-rations and other gifts as they rolled by. As he stood alongside the road, a Vietnamese bus passed and something flew from a window in the vehicle. Pham ran after the gift and scooped it up while it still rolled. When he lifted it to his face for inspection, the gift exploded. Luckily, elements of the 3rd Sqdn, 4th Cav, were nearby securing a piece of the road. Members of Trp D ran to Pham, administered first aid and called in a helicopter. Pham was loaded aboard the chopper and taken to the 25th Med Bn at the division base camp.

Medics rushed him to the neighboring 7th Surgical Hospital where the 10-vear-old was wheeled into surgery. Today, Pham occupies a bed in the hospital's post-operation ward. Although both hands are covered in bandages and there are a few cuts healing on his face, the boy's biggest problem seems to be trying to understand the ward's air-conditioner. While Pham is undergoing a series of operations at the hospital to repair his fingers his mother is staying at the division's "Friendship House" - a building equipped with bunks, shower, foods and magazines and set aside for Vietnamese who have to stay on post overnight. Everything is just fine now.

December 23, 1966: TropicLightningNews Vol1No44 LRRP Action Ends in 4 VC KIA, One Distinguished Flying Cross. Routine patrol by members of the Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP), 3rd Sqd, 4th Cav, resulted in the death of four Viet Cong and the second award of the Distinguished Flying Cross to a "Tropic Lightning" aviator involved in the action. The recent skirmish took place 15 miles north of the Cu Chi base camp. "The term had moved about 200 meters west of a river bank when it spotted four Viet Cong," said 1st Lt. Gerald D. Traxler, 22, of Fresno, Calif.

Lt. Traxler, who is the executive officer of LRRP, was observing the action from a command control helicopter overhead.

After observing the four enemy for some time, the team called for extraction. As it marked the landing zone, the team received heavy automatic weapons fire from the north, south and east. Returning the fire the LRRP team killed four VC to the front.

Two of the enemy were downed with one shot from an M-16. As the hostile machine gun fire became more intense it was evident that to save the patrol members, the extraction ship would have to set down in the lead-infested landing zone. This task was assigned to Maj. Myron E. Squires, 33, of St. Petersburg, Fla.

As aircraft commander, Maj. Squires landed his ship, which had became a target of the hostile fire, and enabled the safe extraction of the patrol.

For his daring actions, which were completed without loss of personnel or equipment, Maj. Squires received the Distinguished Flying Cross.

December 25, 1966: Book:Christmas in Cu Chi. Page 195 of "Centaurs In Vietnam; Untold Stories of the First Year"

Transition Year 1966 to 1967 - by Tom Fleming
As the mass departure of first year Centaurs began, the Troop went through some big changes. The second year of the Centaurs had begun.


Events of 1967

Second Year of the Centaurs - Mar 1967 to Mar 1968 - by Tom Fleming
A Troop Commanders summary of D Troop during the second year of combat and how it changed from the first year.

The Way it Was - 1967 - by Tom Fleming
A description of the organizational, personal and equipment status of the troop and the tactical activities engaged in by the ¾ Cav Squadron and D Troop.

Operational Level Timeline - 1967 - Tom Fleming
A Troop Commanders overview of the operations of D Troop in 1967

Audio Tapes to Home - 1967 - Tom Fleming
Eight reel to reel audio tapes sent home describing events of the day in D Troop.

Filght Operations Audio Tape - 1967 - Tom Fleming
Audio tape recording of the radio traffic in Centaur Flight Operations one evening.


January 1967

Jaunary 27, 1967:War Story "Return to the Devil’s Playground"by Bob Graham: The crew assignments for MAJ Squire’s slick (661) gave First SGT Petty an opportunity to give “wannabe” door gunner CPL James Spencer a mission as SP4 Herb Beasley was on shit burning detail for the day’s checkmate operation in the ‘Devils Play Ground east of Cu Chi. This account chronicles the hazards LT Alto’s aero rifles face while checking the credentials of indigents with the assistance of the Vietnamese police, ‘white mice.’ MAJ Peterson elects to join LT Alto, the squad, and the white mice as they proceed through a sequence of very close calls. Highlighted are the very tenuous low level maneuvers by slicks and gunships in support of this specific event when CPL Spencer was shot at close range following a squad insertion. This story will continue to be updated as others clarify their account of the action. Mentioned also are CPT Lacy, his crew chief Lara and door gunner Mike Vaughn and riflemen SP4 Risner.

February, 1967: War Story "Two Down" by Mike Vaughn: This is an essay that Mike wrote in 2003 and was published on the VHPA website and other places. It is an amazingly well told story of the life of a Crew Chief on a slick.

February 13, 1967: Letter: Bruce Powell to Home: Stationed at Cu Chi. "D Troop, 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry." We're the Strike Force for the Division, under direct control of the Division Commander General Weyland. Unit's history dates clear back to Bull Run. (Remember "MacKenzie's Raiders"; they were 4th Cav.) Flying OH-23's right now. Capt Sanders is my IP while I'm in the "Light Scouts". I flew wingman for Capt Stephans on the "Dawn Patrol". Park in bunkers (sandbags stacked about 5 feet high in a horseshoe shape). Warrant Officer Basset was waiting for me to fly copilot with him on a "C & C South". First mission as a single ship with 2 MP's. One was a Lt (Lt Cooney) who flew from San Francisco with me. Ethan Norris and 5 others are one block from me in A Company, 25th Aviation Battalion. Buck Buxton (Ethan's roommate in flight school, is bunking next to me here at "D Troop." Food's good. Morale is high, housing is good enough,; It's hotter than hell!

February 25, 1967: Letter: Bruce Powell to Home: 5 hrs of Gunship time, but still flying OH-23's___Medavac soldier from convoy with battery acid in eyes (OH-23, Trang Bang area)

February 27, 1967: TropicLightningNews Vol2No8 How LRRP Scored Big in Op. 'Gadsden' "The eyes and ears of the division." That's what Maj. Gen. Fred C. Weyand calls the 25th Inf. Div. Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP), and that's what he called decorated the men of two patrols recently for their part in Operation "Gadsden."

Two Silver Stars, a Distinguished Flying Cross, six Bronze Star Medals with "V" device, and three Air Medals with "V' device were presented to the men of the two teams by General Weyand. The general credited the two teams with pinpointing the position of enemy forces. As a result, he was able to request an emergency B-52 raid to destroy the Viet Cong.

The first team went out on patrol from January 31 to February 2 under the leadership of Sgt. Jerry L. Caldwell, 29, of Kingsport, Tenn., a member of Trp D, 3rd Sqdn., 4th Cav. That evening four armed VC came straight toward the teams' position. The team opened up with rifle fire and called in artillery to within 50 yards of its own position. The team broke contact and moved several hundred yards to set up for the night. Toward dawn the next morning, the team spotted 12 VC within the span of 90 minutes, but were able to stay hidden. The five men moved about 100 yards before they heard sounds and stopped. They called for artillery fire and waited. After the firing stopped everything was quiet.

Suddenly, things began happening a little too quickly for comfort. At 8 a.m., four VC were spotted near their position. A few minutes later, six more came nearby and turned off into the woods. The five-man team waited and watched. Then at 9 a.m. the sounds of voices came from all around their position. It was time to go and they called for a helicopter to extract them. Half an hour later, nearly 20 VC began closing in on the team. Them men pulled in and tried to remain hidden, but they were spotted by several Viet Cong, a scant 10 feet away, and had to open fire.

The pilot of the pick-up chopper arrived before the gunships. Sensing the urgency of the situation, aircraft commander Capt. Gary I. Hatfield landed in the burning landing zone, and with cover from the door gunners, the team escaped. Sgt. Caldwell was awarded the Silver Star. Capt. Hatfield the Distinguished Flying Cross. Capt. Joseph A. Lacy, 28, of Columbus, Ga., commander of the LRRP detachment, led the second patrol into enemy territory in the early morning of February 3. From late afternoon until early the next morning, about 150 Viet Cong filed past their position. They moved in small groups, widely spaced, and they all carried weapons ranging from pistols to light automatic weapons.

Capt. Lacy crawled to within ten yards of the moving enemy to observe and count them. Late in the afternoon of the same day an air raid bell sounded and American planes soon were over the area, dropping bombs nearby. Soon after, activity started again, and the patrol heard digging within 20 yards of their night position, but they stayed where they were. Early the next morning the patrol moved out toward a bridge they had to cross, but spotted a VC ambush. Capt. Lacy moved close to the enemy position and called in an air strike, killing four VC and capturing a rifle. The patrol moved out and crossed the bridge. They had gone 200 yards when they were spotted by two Viet Cong with rifles. After a brief fire fight, one of the enemy lay dead and the other escaped. The patrol reached their rendezvous point and was extracted without further incident.

Capt. Lacy was awarded the Silver Star for his action, and the other four members of the team each received Bronze Star Medals with "V" device. They were SSgt. Patrick L. Lacy, Cpt. Albert G. Pruden Jr., Sp4 Larry D. McIntosh and PFC William J. Boyd III.

Second Year - March 1967 – March 1968 - by Tom Fleming
A description of D Troop (Air) in the second year of its deployment to Vietnam. The troop areas –old and new, organization, equipment, and personnel.

March 3, 1967: Letter: Bruce Powell to Home:___Squadron Duty Officer in a bunker___LRRP team outside perimeter on ambush mission___Description of unit structure___A and B Troop on convoy duty; C Troop attached to 1sst Brigade.___I am Motor Officer and Generator Officer for extra duties___Training part time with CPT Delvy in guns.

March 5, 1967: Audio Transcription: Bruce Powell to home: Part One. The hooch we’re living in has about 8 or 10 guys in it. Their having a B-52 strike in the distant background. I can also hear a Huey crankin’ up. Our D troop area here is just across from the airstrip. The 23s are parked first, and then the Hueys. D troop is really different than any organization you’ll run into. Composition of the Aerorifles. Flying a Sabre Alpha 6. One of his APCs ran over a mine just up short of Trang Bang It blew the hell out of the APC and killed a couple of guys. I flew over it the whole time with Sabre Alpha 6 and an artillery observer. Centaur 44 and his wingman pulled what we call a “stickup.” ...picked up about 5 suspects Spotted 5 or 6 Spider holes. I went back to Go Dau Ha, Checkpoint 178 a refueling station . They’ve got an artillery unit there. Boy, that’s really something to come landing in that place, in that little 23, and having ‘em fire them 155s off. OH-23 problems.

Major Stalker and Cpt. Stephenson got a Delta model Huey and took Cpt. Strickland, and the man I was flying around (Alpha 6), and took him back up over the area. Bunch of troops leaving. mountain in the area and it’s up by Tây Ninh, north of Tây Ninh. Nui Ba Den Two of the Hueys that are out there right now (I just got a report a few minutes ago) got fired at. One of them was at 2000 feet, and one was at 1400. Both received fire out of that area. Checkpoint 8, is a great big graveyard. Flying Sabre 6 , Col. Webb, commander of the 3rd squadron. We were in a Huey, shooting an approach into that graveyard where they had their command deal set up, and an armored track about 50 yards from us drove over a mine; just blew it all to hell and killed three of them. [end of audio] Dictated by: Bruce Powell, Scout and Gun Pilot, D Troop 3/4 Cav (67-68). Date: 5 Mar 1967 (670305bap1)

March 5, 1967: Audio Transcription: Bruce Powell to home: Part Two. Artillery unit behind hooch; Medivac coming in; Cpt Sanders; Centaur 17 and then 12; Col Peterson CO; Maj Prosser XO; Motor Officer duty; WO Anderson leaving; personal weapons vary greatly; Jungle fatigues; Pepsi; Putting up radio tower Transcribed audio (transcribed verbatim with no grammar correction): Well, I keep getting interrupted here so many times, I’m about a nervous wreck out here…Jeeps driving in, aircraft taking off, and all kinds of stuff. Luckily, they’re not firing any artillery tonight. That’s another weird thing. About 50 feet behind our company area here, they’ve got an artillery battery, and I’ll tell you, they pick the un-godliest times of the day to fire artillery. Pretty soon you learn to sleep with it. The first night it went off, I about jumped out of my tree—I couldn’t believe it. You think THAT was something, boy, I think I wrote you about that first B-52 strike--that was fabulous. Well, that just lights up the whole sky. I thought we were having a mortar attack for sure—I was halfway to the bunker when I heard that. Now here comes a Medivac [MedEvac] in the background, shooting a real steep, fast approach. Maybe you can hear him if I shut up. [pause, with chopper in background] No telling what it was for. He could be coming up from Tây Ninh or Checkpoint 10 or Sabre Forward—there’s 100 places up here. This has really been an education for me here so far. It’s kind of like it was when I was in flight school. Do you remember how I used to say it’s hard to believe how much you can learn in such a short period of time and everything? Well, it’s the same over here, really. Sure, I’m stuck with the 23s and everything, and I got to a point there to where I’d have done anything to get out of them. I’m still looking forward to getting out of them and getting into gunships, but right now I really feel like I’m doing my job over here because I’m getting a lot more missions and I fly anywhere from 3 hours to 8 hours in a day. By the way, I’ve got over 90 hours, and I’ve only been here 3 weeks, so that’s quite a few. I won’t get that much when I get into gunships—not even near. Well, anyway, when I first got here, I was introduced to Cpt. Sanders, and he was the commander of the light scout section, and I was given the designation as Centaur 17. I’ve only been here a few weeks, and now I’m Centaur 12, second in command under Cpt. Sanders. So, when he leaves, that means I’ve got to make the decisions, and it’s kind of hard for me right now, because you know, I don’t understand the complete functioning of the organization yet, and it’s kind of hard for me to walk around and tell these people what to do. I’ve got one captain and, let’s see, 7 other warrant officers under me right now. The reason the captain’s under me is that he’s leaving in about a week, and he’s not experienced in light scouts, so rather than make him executive officer, they made me—well, I’m not really an executive officer, I’m just second in command. Well, anyway, it gives me some responsibility. I was really gung-ho when I first got here, and it must have showed up all over my face, I guess. I hit it off real good with Col. Peterson, our commanding officer. He’s leaving too. So is Maj. Prosser or “Parker”, our executive officer. Well, anyway, right off the bat, they made me motor pool officer and in charge of all the vehicles that we have here in D troop, and the generators. Right now we’ve got three 30 kilowatt generators and three 15 kilowatt generators. We’ve got more than anybody in the whole 25th infantry division, so, I mean, we’ve got lights and power more than we know what to do with. I’m even using my electric razor—my good Remington, you know. It really works out great, but I’m having trouble with these generators—they’re diesel engines, and I’ve never worked with diesel before. I’m learning slowly. An education just learning how to start one of them cotton-pickin’ things. We had one of them go out last night, and we had to wade around out there and try to fix it. But what’s happening here is all the key personnel that really know their way around are leaving, and well, luckily enough, this one man, warrant officer Anderson, one of the guys I hit it off with right away when I got here, he’s going to be staying here for an extra couple of months. He’s been in charge of the motor pool, and he’s really helping me out a lot. He knows a lot about generators and about the motor pool itself, so he’s giving me a hand. His key man, an enlisted man that did the diesel generator work, is leaving, so we’re having to break another man in. Boy, I’m getting pissed off—these choppers keep coming in and I don’t even know whether this tape’s going to turn out or not. Let’s see…anyway, what I was going to do with this…I had about four or five of these tapes. They’re kind of hard to come by right now. The PX is out of them. I was going to get them all, I was going to sit down and take about 3 hours, and I’ve been keeping kind of a log book on my time and what I’ve been doing. I was just going to go through it day by day and just kind of tell you everything I’ve been doing and some of the experiences I’ve had and everything, but it just hasn’t worked out to where I’ve had near the time to do it. Last night I was up all last night because I was duty officer. I wrote you about that in a letter. Thank goodness nothing happened there. I don’t know what I’d have done if they’d had a cotton-pickin’ attack. I’d have just turned on all the radios and called for artillery and scrambled everybody in the countryside, I guess. (This dumb turd on guard duty here keeps walking by and shining his flashlight around and keeps bugging me.) Well, that’s one thing about being here at Củ Chi--this post, you, know, it’s outside of town. I’ve only been to the town once, that’s when I came on the convoy out here, and there’s no Vietnamese here. I mean, we’re all Americans. Some of the Vietnamese come in during the day and fill sand bags with dirt, you know, stuff like that, but they’re really checked out real close, and boy, at night, if you see a “Slope” around, you shoot ‘em. That’s the way. We call them Slopes here. Everybody carries a weapon. The Delta troop is real unusual, because they can carry almost anything they want. We’ve got guys here with 16-gauge shotguns, Thompson automatics, AR-15s, M16s… Right now, I’ve got a .45…[noise in background] There was a mortar in the background going off—they got a couple of mortars off in our area, too. What these mortars are doing, they’re firing illuminating rounds out here for some of the LRRP patrols that are out. They got a LRRP unit out there at that Checkpoint 8, that graveyard I was telling you about a little earlier. I’m enjoying myself over here. You know, I mean, considering all factors. The weather’s been fabulously beautiful. I’ve got a pretty good suntan on my arms because the standard dress here is fatigues or jungle fatigues with the sleeves rolled up. You got to keep them rolled up, it gets so hot. It was up around 100 degrees today, enough to kill you off. I’m getting used to it, though. One of the great things about it, you know--I told you I’d probably end up being a boozer like the rest of the guys that came over here because they didn’t have anything else to drink—they’ve got pop, oh, they’ve got all kinds of pop here. I drink about 3 or 4 bottles of Pepsi a day. I try to keep it down low, but boy, it’s really great, I’ll tell ya…and, we have water hauled in by water trucks all the time, and we’ve got a shower here. The guys dug a well. It’s not drinkable water, but it’s clean enough to wash in, and everybody in this troop takes a shower every night. That’s SOP. It’s really great—it feels good, too. It’s warm enough to walk around here in your skivvies at night. It’s kind of windy tonight, though. Standing in that shower with just slats up around it, you know, the wind will whip through there and kind of freeze you before you can get dried off, but it’s not bad. I really like it. Of course, we’re building a lot of things. We’re putting up a radio tower right now, making it out of steel pipe. They got somebody from squadron working on that. They’ve got a welding rig out there. Gosh, I wouldn’t even know it was Sunday if it wasn’t for the fact that they had a church service in the mess hall when I got in to eat dinner. They have church services here—two different services each night in the mess hall in the orderly room. [end of audio] Dictated by: Bruce Powell, Scout and Gun Pilot, D Troop 3/4 Cav (67-68). Date: 5 Mar 1967

March 14, 1967: Letter: Bruce Powell to home: Breaking in 3 new pilots for Dawn Patrol___Flew 6 hours in War Zone C___Building Motor Pool hootch (office and tool room)___Applied for cement pads for generators___Sgt Chapman is Motor Sergeant/ good scrounger.___Studying TM 38-750 to get Motor Pool records straight___PX ran out of audio tape mailers___120 flying hours so far

March 15, 1967: Letter: Bruce Powell to home: Mortared last night at 1900 hours. 75 rounds. 50 were 81 mm and 25 were Recoiless Rifle___Two direct hits on our hootchs. Two enlisted seriously wounded. 14 other minor injuries.___Much confusion. Ran the radio in Opns awaiting Opns Officer. Lt Cowell & Maj Stenehjem (CO) arrived.___2 hrs later after all clear we had another attack.___Arthur, Ashabranner, new guys, and Baum & I dove into open bunker. Lt Skinner running from shower.___Quite funny in retrospect. Spent rest of night in bunker.___We are covering the withdrawal of elements from Junction City (1100 vehicles so far)___CBS TV with Squadron Cdr and Commanding General.

March 21 1967: Battle of Soui Tre (LZ Gold) by Tom Fleming
A Description of the battle which resulted in 647 enemy dead, 38 US KIA and 187 US WIA – the largest battle of the war to date. Describes the participation of several D Troop elements and personalities involved in the medical evacuation and downed air crew recovery during the battle.

March 26 1967: Letter: Bruce Powell to home: Trying to get M-60 machine guns for skids for our 9 OH-23's ___I been lobbying with the Sqdn Cdr since I fly him a lot.___The gun systems jam frequently. Lt Skinner describes how they hooked them up in the 1st Cav.___7 ½ hours over War Zone C today. Found abandon VC headquarters 25 mi NW of Tay Ninh.___Lt Julian (FO) blew up the whole area with artillery.___Last week in this area had big battle. 596 VC dead. 10 or 15 GI's KIA. Lots of wounded. I missed it.___Bought a TV for the hootch. Seems funny to fight a war then come home and watch TV.

April ?, 1967: Post Card: Bruce Powell to home: Grounded for a while to get Motor Pool ready for inspection.___Flew Stable Boy yesterday. Standby at Go Dau Ha. 10½ hours flight time. ___Flew mostly Medivacs. Hauled 4 wounded and 3 KIAs. Back to OH-23's tomorrow.

April 3, 1967: Audio Transcription: Bruce Powell to home: (Part One); Sitting outside hooch again at night; Flares being fired; LRRP mission today;___Sabre 2 Cpt Drake to Dau Taing; Lt Skinner Finance Officer to Saigon; Hotel 3 approach; new CAR-15; Chulon PX;

April 3, 1967: Audio Transcription: Bruce Powell to home: (Part Two); Ice problems in Saigon; 118 Piasters = 1 dollar; UH-1 slick Hornet;___Convoy driver with eye accident; medics

April 4, 1967: Letter: Bruce Powell to home: Motor Pool is a 24 hour job.___Feel safer here than I did at Ft Rucker.___Comparison of wars___Sent to Korea for Mail Order Catalog___Cpt Sanders went to Hong Kong two months ago and spent $2000

April 23, 1967: Letter: Bruce Powell to home:Transferring to Heavy Scouts (Gunships) in a week or so.___Major maintenance day in Motor Pool this morning. 21 drivers.___What it is like to fly Medivac (in Stable Boy the other day).___Description of Stable Boy. The on board Medic. Maintenance Officer Cpt Fleming. The Corral.___Detailed account of the 2nd of 3 medivacs from the other day. Mohawk Alpha call sign. Tight area. Set off mine in trees.___Cpt Fleming was PIC. Heavy fire. Dragged through the trees on the way out. 6000 rpm.___One man shot in lower forearm. 2 KIA's.___Rainstorms make Cu Chi look like a lake. Roof on hootch leaks too.___Ethan Norris and 3 other guys (Little Bears) from my class took hits last week. Forced to land. No injuries.

April 24, 1967: Letter: Bruce Powell to home: Troop Duty Officer today. Description of what goes on; siren; standy guns; etc.___Found out that the battle where I was flying Stable Boy mission the other day got a body count of 32.___Cpt Delvy shot down this morning. Hydrallics out; landed in a mine field. No one hurt.___IG inspection of the Motor Pool will be this morning.___Artillery unit next to us makes sure we get no sleep.___My overreaction to artillery barrage (Lt Buxton reacts)___Rainy season. Grew mustache two months ago.___Dreaming of Vung Tau In Country R&R if Motor Pool inspection goes well.___Ethan Norris (Little Bears), Buck Buxton and I put in for R&R in Hong Kong in September.

May, 1967: War storyDeadly Ambush, but No Body Count: SSG Bill Altenhofen, platoon sergeant of the AeroRifles, led his men on a night ambush in the “Iron Triangle” that blew up one Viet Cong insurgent with a claymore mine, leaving no intact body to confirm the kill.

KIA MedEvac - May 1967 - Tom Fleming
A description of the troop Maintenance and Recovery crew’s (Stable Boy) effort perform a MedEvac in the midst of a fire fight only to discoverer that the real reason they were called upon was to evacuate a dead soldier for morale purposes.

War Zone C LRRP Rescue - May 1967 - Tom Fleming
A description of a successful rescue of a LRRP involving all elements of the troop standing by on high alert for over many hours. The successful rescue was in doubt from the moment the LRRP was compromised deep in War Zone C.

May 8, 1967: TropicLightningNews Vol2No18 VC Surprised. An estimated company size unit of Viet Cong was surprised recently in a fortified base camp nine km southeast of Tay Ninh City by elements of the 25th Inf. Div. during a search and destroy mission "Saber Thrust." Alpha and Delta Trps.

Of the 3rd Sqdrn., 4th Cav., working with Co. B, 4th Bn., 23rd Inf. accounted for 17 enemy killed. The Viet Cong were initially shaken by an air strike at 8:30 a.m., immediately followed by a Delta Troop armed helicopter assault. As the helicopters criss-crossed the objective with machinegun, grenade and rocket fire, M-48 tanks and armored personnel carriers moved through the dense jungle uncovering numerous tunnels, bunkers and living quarters. One underground dispensary complete with medical supplies was uncovered.

Alpha Trp. Commander, CPT James H. Strickland, of Birmingham, Ala., at one point during the height of the action dismounted from his command armored personnel carrier and flushed into the open an armed Viet Cong who was wearing "Ho Chi Minh" sandals, an olive drab uniform with web gear complete with a canteen and hand grenades. The combined element of surprise, superior fire power and mechanized and air mobility assured the success for the "Tropic Lightning" a unit spokesman said.

May 8, 1967: TropicLightningNews Vol2No18 Frantic Call Brings Help In Minutes. A frantic call for help came into the "Tropic Lightning" Div. operation center at two in the morning. An Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) outpost in the village of Phuoc Hiep, about four kms north of Camp Cu Chi, was under attack. Just 37 minutes after the division received the early morning call, "B" Trp. Of the 3rd Sqdrn., 4th Cav., was on its way to the rescue.

As the first platoon, commanded by Lt. George Rogers, 24, of Williamsport, Pa., arrived at the besieged outpost, an estimated battalion size enemy force was at the perimeter wire. The VC broke contact immediately at the sound of the approaching armored cavalry. The first platoon chased the fleeing VC to the south as the second and third platoons surrounded the village. SSG Glen Pike, 26, of Denver, Colo., and his second platoon soon found and engaged elements of the enemy force. Pike's "track" was hit by an anti-tank round and completely destroyed. All the men were rescued from the personnel carrier as it burned.

Five wounded men were "dusted off" by Delta Trp. Helicopter gunships. No Americans were killed. In the morning the second platoon found four dead VC, apparently the ones who had destroyed their lead "track."

May 8, 1967: TropicLightningNews Vol2No18 What Sort of Man Reads TLN? An independent man by nature, SGT Jerry Caldwell was a member of the elite Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol before becoming a fire team leader in the 3rd Sqdrn., 4th Cav. The 20-year old Kingsport, Tenn., soldier joined the commando style LRRP shortly after his arrival last summer. His leadership qualities soon became apparent and he was changed from SP4 to CPL. A short time later, he was promoted to team leader with the rank of sergeant.

While leading his team on many intelligence gathering missions, Caldwell earned the nation's third highest award for valor, the Silver Star. In making the transition from follower to leader, Caldwell recalls "I've always had fear but I used to think of myself when I got in a tight spot. Now I find myself thinking of the men I am responsible for. I still have fear but it is for my men now."

May 10, 1967: Letter: Bruce Powell to home: Fly OH-23's in the morning and UH-1's all afternoon.___Four Hueys on standby on the “Hot Spot”. Aerorifles in field. ___Crossed rifles on the doors. Description of flight gear, positions, aircraft.___Got butt chewed for not wearing Chicken Plate. Some talk about the Chicken Plate.___WO Anderson and 3 AC's scramble from Opns Shack. Detailed description of a Hot start.___Thrill of the formation take off. Off to pickup the ground troops dropped earlier.___Talking about a few months ago when I was in San Francisco trying to get to Nam.___Detailed war story about classmate Cpt Bill Hill, Silver Star as Lt on first tour. Flying UH-1s this tour. Killed.___Story of flying commercial airlines to Bien Hoa. Rode in the cockpit___The IG inspection I wrote about was a CMMI. Didn't fly for 2 weeks prior in preparation. We did well.___Early flight tomorrow over the Fil Hol Rubber Plantation area with Cpt Strickland (Sabre Alpha 6).___Not many Tanks left in A Troop; keep hitting mines. I was flying over 3rd Plt when they lost one today. None hurt.___Lt Rogers from B Troop killed three days ago by mine. Night mission. Lt Sharpe (B Trp) killed a week ago___Two pilots wounded by their door gunners several weeks ago. I transfer to Guns on 15 May.

May 11, 1967:Audio Transcription: Bruce Powell to home: (#1Storm11May67) ; Flying Cpt Strickland; Monsoon season; terrible storm; ruined hooches;___Little Bears and Arty Unit wiped out; Trip toWar Zone C maybe; Motor pool damage.

May 12, 1967:Audio Transcription: Bruce Powellto home: (#2SabreAlpha) ; A Troop, Lt Appler and Cpt Strickland; Lt Julian FO; Sabre Alpha 65 Beocki;___Centaur 12 now; 12 May actions.

May 12, 1967:Audio Transcription: Bruce Powell to home: (#3AttackRaven) ; Combat operations; Going down in tunnels; VC ambush killed several;___attacking with OH-23; Death up close; broke chin bubble; VC Squad.

May 12, 1967:Audio Transcription: Bruce Powell to home: (#4Tunnels) ___Monsoon Rain; Centaur Guns; Marking targets; sniper rounds; finding more tunnels;___A Troop Tanks; Dig out the tunnel entrance; tunnel findings; shape charges; Mighty-mite smoke blower; Giving Charlie a target;___Go Da Ha; Cpt Sanders & WO Baum; VC flags

May 12, 1967:Audio Transcription: Bruce Powell to home: (#5Rat Down) PFC Mark Thomson driver for Strickland; Wanted to be Rat; Shape charge; New tunnel; Booby trapped tunnel; LT Webster; Thompson's hand blown off; Centaur Medivac; WO Baum; Hospital visit

May 12, 1967:Audio Transcription: Bruce Powell to home: (#6MoreTunnels) OH-23 pilots are not heroes; Comradeship with A Troop; Going to guns; WO Baum update; Sgt Monroe lost in tunnel; Lt Julian; Australian make rifle found; trophy for PFC Mark Thomson.

May 22, 1967: TropicLightningNews Vol2No20 Join LRRP. If you can hide in grass for an hour with 15 VC less than 15 meters from you without giving away your presence, as a LRRP team did recently, call the Leapfrog switchboard. Ask for Delta and then for the LRRP. They are looking for men like you.

You'll train hard and long. The training will be both physical and mental. You'll learn to detect hidden booby traps, disarm them and assemble traps yourself.

You will be specifically trained in one area and cross-trained in several other areas.

After long days of training and learning to work with a team, you will start your job finding and watching enemy's movements, seeing the enemy without being seen.

You will become a member of the elite Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol, better known as LRRP.
LRRP is now looking for men who would like to join the team. Volunteers must be above average in military subjects, proficient in map reading, physically fit and able to swim.

Infantrymen with Ranger, Airborne or Recondo training are preferred. However, men without such training can be accepted.

Volunteers will be accepted on a two week attachment. If they don't meet the LRRP qualifications, they will be sent back to their units.

May 22, 1967: TropicLightningNews Vol2No20 LRRP Plays Hide & Seek with VC. ". . . we just laid there and watched them," stated SSG Billy Ponder of Columbus, Ga., as he described how the five-man Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP) of the 25th Inf. Div., played a deadly game of "hide and seek" with the Viet Cong. "Our mission was to locate and observe their actions, and we did just that," he added.

Ponder and his patrol from the 3rd Sqdn., 4th Cav., were dropped into the dense undergrowth of the Boi Loi Woods 64 Kms northwest of Saigon. They were prepared to spend three days at the deadly game. According to SP4 Thad Comer of Chicago, the team landed in mid-afternoon and started looking for an overnight position to observe a VC supply route. "We got within 150 meters of the road when we spotted a VC walking down it. "We hugged the ground, remained silent and let him pass. We continued looking for the best possible observation point." An hour and a half went by as the men just laid there and watched." "We counted 13 of them," Comer continued, "it seemed as if they were all around us." "I called back to the base camp for artillery support and a chopper to pick us out of this VC infested area," said Ponder.

Five minutes passed and the artillery started to drop in, and the men made their way quickly and quietly back to the landing zone, their three-day mission working deep in VC territory was cut to a short four hour period. The men saw what they were sent to see and made a safe return without casualties.

The SP4 Buff Suicide - 6 June 1967 - Tom Fleming
A description of the tragic loss of a soldier at his own hands and an attempt to account for one more Centaur on the VMWall. The description is made from the perspective of several players as the tense situation unfolded in a tent at Goda Ha fire base while standing by for a LRRP mission, culminating in Specialist Buff taking his life and his evacuation to graves registration

June 10, 1967: Letter: From LTC Neirus,1/9th Cav Sqdn Cdr answered my (Bruce Powell) request for transfer.___He said wait for LTC Shea to take over ¾ Cav.___Shea trained with 1/9th and is taking over ¾ Cav soon. Things will change. He took over week and a half ago. Things changed.___Several weeks ago I was transferred to Slicks (flying aerorifle platoon). Four Huey's covered by escorting gunships. ___Description of an air assuault. Flew as CPT Fisher's peter pilot. Learned a lot about formation flying.___10 June I finally got transferred to Guns. CPT Delvy is Platoon leader and my instructor. He has 3000 hrs of UH-1 time.___Description of Heavy Scouts gunship & weapons. The aircraft are 1000 lbs overgross, overstressed, overflown & full of holes___They hunt, disrupt, confuse & kill charlie. I was born to fly a gunship.___Last 3 weeks I've been building a new hootch in spare time. Beautiful inside. Strongest hootch at CuChi.___The Majors want it for an officers club. No way. Buying booze in Saigon and trading for materials.___Lost a roll of $10 bills in that big storm. $120. Never turned up.

June 24, 1967: Letter: Bruce Powell to home: Still building hootch. 32 x 16 feet (standard) but my new slanted design for the sides. More hootch details.___Gunship training here is more OJT than anything else. Siren blow continuous pitch for mortar attack. Up & down for guns.___Oogha horn for Dustoff crew. Mission last week supporting Mohawk Alpha (Troop attached to ¾ Cav for Iron Triangle Opn.)___Description of gunship scramble; tells what every one does. Flew to “Sabre Forward” in Iron Triangle. Delvy PIC.___Description of the “Fire Mission” & the battle. Receiving fire, mark with smoke, G force turn, 3 gun runs at machine gun position.

June 26, 1967: Letter: Bruce Powell to home: Continuation of above letter. Taking off for 3rd training mission. Diverted to battle again.___CPT Eschenwald, Centaur 21, called “Got a hornets nest in SW Hobo.” Hang right head for Trung Lap.___Delvy concerned. This was my first mission in right seat. We didn't have time to change. Into combat with limited rocket training.___Centaur 21 out of ammo. His wingman shot up & headed for Cu Chi. No injuries. Ensuing battle described in detail.___Bringing in the fast movers. Birddog marks with Willy Pete. Movers dropped high and low drags; straffed with 20 mm. ___Had counter mortar duty last night. Need sleep.

July 01, 1967: Letter: Bruce Powell to home: Picture of me in front of GP Medium tent holding AK-47 (Russian) given to me by Lt Bud Benson, XO A Trp.___Cpt Fisher said I could sell it to Airforce guys for 2 or 3 hundred dollars. Will keep and try to get it home. ___Tents temporary while building hootch. Hot and dusty, miserable quarters.___CPT Bill Vinson taking over gun platoon when Delvy moves to Operations. Vinson has mostly fixed wing time in Middle East.___Chain of command for me right now: Delvy, Vinson, Eschenwald, then me. ___Mom, go visit Vinson's wife Ann in Monmouth, OR. She is 29, has two kids, Kimberly 8 and Gregory 4. ___Getting settled in the new hooch. Gun training going well.

July 06, 1967: Letter: Bruce Powell to home: Been in Vung Tau for 3 days with WO1 Rick Arthur. (need dates). Rick had been slightly wounded in left leg by his door gunner. ___Hitching rides to and from Vung Tau. A/C from “Blackhawks”. Describing the “Rung Sat” area. Near accident enroute.___Met WO Zeke Broadley, flt school friend of Ricks. The town, the beach, the jellyfish stings, Jap gun emplacements, serious sunburn.___(Need date) Sqdn back in base camp for repairs (from Iron Triangle). Long description of Iron Triangle battle. A & B___Trps hit hard. Casualties were about 30 in A Trp and 20 in B. Lt Rogers & Lt Johnson KIA. ___Our Rifle Plt Ldr, Lt Gerrie, wounded in 4 places. Div Cdr, Tillison, awarded Silver Star to LTC Shea. LT Mosenthal wounded.___LRRP guy, only a week incountry, died during Medevac.

July 17, 1967: PostCard: Bruce Powell to home:Short on pilots. Another mortar attack last week (need date). 24 hour standby.

July 25, 1967: PostCard: Bruce Powell to home:Norm Clark, door gunner, home to Oregon, 30 day leave. Visit my family.

July 30, 1967: Letter: Bruce Powell to home: A while back, flew gunship escort for President of Phillipines at TayNinh. CPT Bill Vinson my instructor in guns. MAJ Delvy to Opns.___Covering the Wolfhounds at Trang Bang in hairy operation. 9 “Hornets” (Slicks) doing insertion. Also dodging friendly fire. ___Hit in exhaust and main rotor. A Troop hit bad yesterday. CPT Drake, doing bad job (Replaced CPT Strickland). Drake had no control.___We couldn't shoot for some time. Drake says or fire too close. Dodging friendly 50 cal richochets. Artillery out of nowhere.___5 dead, 16 wounded for A Trp. Talked to SGT Michaels (A Troop Plt Sgt) at 12th Evac. Said he wished I had been with them with my___“Go Kart Chopper” (OH-23). COL Shea let WO Baum & CPT Stephenson go fly with 1/9th Cav. Came back ready to arm the scouts.

August, 1967: War Story "FNG" by Pat Eastes: Pat's story of getting to Vietnam, training as a Centaur Gun Pilot, then his first hot mission.

August 04, 1967: Letter: Bruce Powell to home: Bought Minox Spy Camera. Had cold. Released by Flt Surgeon. Made A/C – Aircraft Commander. Got mini-guns for gunships.___2000 rds per min per gun. Wow. OH-23s flying in pairs now with skid guns.

August 09, 1967: Letter: Bruce Powell to home:Counter mortar at Dau Teing 7 & 8 Aug, Cu Chi tonight. Flying mostly nights, trying to shake a cold. Thunderstorms every night.

August 16, 1967: Notes: Bruce Powell (not letter):___Wrote SGT Chapman's commendation award. WO Walt Baum flew me to Saigon (Hotel 3). Description of new OH-23 armament.___Yesterday Baum was flying wing on CPT Stephenson and passenger was killed (OH-23). His door gunner was SP4 Whitmore.___They were at check point 41 preparing for Stick-em Up.

August 21, 1967: TropicLightningNews Vol2No33 Army Photographer Captures Viet Cong – Twice A U.S. Army photographer played a double role when he caught a Viet Cong on film and then by the scruff of the neck. An OH-23 helicopter from Trp D, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav, was on a road check operation along Highway 1 when the pilot, 1LT Leland Burgess of Auburn, Ala., spotted a Viet Cong running along a rice paddy dike. "We had just cleared a high hedgerow when I spotted the VC standing on a dike," explained Burgess. "He started running for some woods about 300 meters away so I flew up ahead to block him."

While Burgess was maneuvering the aircraft back and forth blocking the running VC, Sp4 Jack Mraz of Fairfield, Calif., was snapping pictures. "We were running low on fuel," Burgess added, "so Mraz volunteered to jump and take the VC. It was touchy because I couldn't take another passenger, which meant Mraz would have to wait on the ground till another chopper could get in." The photographer grabbed an M-16, three magazines of ammo, jumped, grabbed the VC and waited almost ten minutes for another chopper, while Burgess circled overhead. "The funniest thing about the whole operation," Mraz recalled, "was watching the VC running back and forth yelling 'Americans number one, Americans number one!'"

The VC was taken to the 25th Div's base camp for interrogation and later admitted that he was a member of a local force VC unit.

That same afternoon, just a mile away, two other choppers from D Trp caught two more Viet Cong.

August 23, 1967: Letter: Bruce Powell to home: Got back from 7 days in Bangkok yesterday. Details of Bankok trip. Guy killed with Baum was CPT from 65th Engrs. ___CPT Vinson grounded for 3 months with lung problems. CPT Eschenwald, next in command, DEROS in 7 days. CMMI in Sep.___Motor SGT Chapman to rotate in month. Dispatcher/Clerk leaves in week. Fly Road Runner for convoy tomorrow.

September 05, 1967:Letter: Bruce Powellto home: Team Leader now. Took 3 hits covering slick last week (date?). Tailfin, sink elevator and cabin top. 4 slicks hit. 2 wounded.___20 air sorties. Was this in 462 covering CPT Fisher? CPT Vinson feels better. Short pilots in both sections. Rewire generators.___Getting replacement Motor Off and 3 assistants.

September 14, 1967: Letter: Bruce Powell to home: (date?) CPT Vinson became Centaur 20 (Gun Plt Ldr). Delvy promoted to MAJ. Detailed description of Team Ldr job in combat.___9 Sep I became Gun Platoon Leader (Centaur 20) (is really Heavy Scout Section Ldr.) Signed for 6 helicopters & weapons systems___and all plt equipment. About 3 Million dollars worth. One LT, six Warrents, and 12 enlisted work for me. Experience level is low.

September 29, 1967: Letter: Bruce Powell to home: Almost have to live in the Opn Shack. New Warrent to my section this week. LT Moore not ready for AC yet.___WO Hooper leaves in 4 days. Made Mark Schmidt AC when I took over Section. Made Jeffrey “Doc” Halliday AC today.___Story of night mission “Lightning Bug” Cu Chi to Go Da Hau. Moore is pilot. Rick Arthur, Centaur 43, is wing.___“Diamond Head” flew the bug. My crew chief Collins spotted road block in the heavy rain. Went IFR for a while.___Refueling at South Pole. MAJ Fleming had us change out all rockets (bad batch). Heavy rain made it tough.___Ethan Norris, Flt School buddy in Little Bears, shot down yesterday. Wounded in leg. ___334th unit in Bien Hoa got 4 Cobras (AH-1G) a few weeks back. My goal is to get a Cobra.

Divisional Air Cav - October 1967 - Tom Fleming
An operational example of how the Air Cav Troop of the 25th ID division Armored Cav Squadron performed an integrated reconnaissance and offensive combat mission. This example describes an actual mission performed.

Stuck Throttle - October 1967 - Tom Fleming
A description of unfortunate circumstances that came very close to ending with disastrous conclusions for a young aviator and his passengers. Some pilots newly graduated individuals from flight school were not cut out for duty as an Aero Scout.

October 9, 1967: TropicLightningNews Vol2No40 Teamwork Pays Off For Army Air Force. A relatively minor incident during a25th Inf Div operation demonstrates the effectiveness of U.S. Army-Air Force teamwork. A Long Range Reconnaissance Team (LRRP) has been secretly dropped on one of the likely infiltration routes the enemy is apt to utilize if pressured too much. They’ve been stealthily moving in "Charlie" territory and have pinpointed a large base camp, the shelter and training area for a large VC unit.

The LRRP has spent a harrowing night a scant 20 yards from the base camp, observing over l00 VC. Having pinpointed the enemy concentration, LRRP proceeds to the pick-up zone. An Air Force Forward Air Controller (FAC) is flying hisO1-E "bird-dog" aircraft overhead monitoring the LRRP's progress. The monotonous drone of the engine is interrupted by the LRRP commander's urgent “whisper" over the radio: "Hello FAC, we have a four man VC ambush between us and our extraction zone. They’re about 50 meters from us; I don't think they have us spotted." The FAC relays the message to the LRRP's unit commander.

Moments later the LRRP commander, a young army captain, once an aviator and now a volunteer for this special mission again radios the FAC: "That ambush will have to be wiped out if we're to be extracted as planned. They’re sitting where the north-south trail intersects the southern edge of our recovery clearing." The message is relayed and word comes back for the LRRP to pull back approximately 200 meters and for the FAC to call for an immediate air strike. Minutes later, with the LRRP some 200 meters to the southwest of the ambush site, two USAF F-5 fighter-bomber aircraft check in with FAC. "Tiger O-1" flight exchanges its mission number and ordnance information for the target description. The FAC explains: "Your target is a VC ambush three miles to the south of our present position. The ambush is located in that finger-like clearing, where the trail intersects the south side of the clearing." Tiger lead acknowledges: "Rog FAC, we have the target in sight. You’re cleared to mark it any time - we're ready to work." The FAC continues: "The friendly patrol is some 200 meters to the southwest of the ambush. They’ll not be marking their position for obvious reasons. Standby one while I talk with ole 'Whispering Smith' down there."Switching radios the FAC calls the LRRP commander: "Have your men taken cover?" "Rog FAC, we’re ready - go to it!" whispers the LRRP commander. "Sounds good, FAC; happy hunting - we'll let you know what it looks like from our vantage point." "OK troops, but be sure to keep your heads down," warns the FAC.

"Hello Tigers," the FAC calls the fighters, "Ready to roll in for my mark, do you have me in sight? " "Rog, FAC, you're cleared to mark, and Tiger O-1 is rolling in with two bombs." The FAC's smoke rocket finds its mark only two seconds before Tiger O-1 drops two perfect bombs directly on the ambush site. "Two on the money lead!" the FAC confirms."Number two, lay yours down the trail." "Rog, two is rolling in," "Cleared in, I have you in sight," the FAC replies."Beautiful, that should take care of anybody trying to 'deedee' down the trail!" After three more deadly passes, the FAC asks Tiger02, "Feel pretty good about dropping those low drag 500's that close to the friendlies?" "No sweat, FAC; am I cleared in? " says the pilot of the F-5perched to roll in on a dive bombing pass. "Rog, you're cleared in, I have you in sight," radios the FAC."One bomb away - and - right on target! Beautiful two you're cleared to do that three more times." "Rog FAC, rolling in from the north again," replies Tiger 02. "You're cleared in -one bomb away - and - bingo; on the money again! You’re doing better with those low drags than most of the 'jocks' are doing with their high drags. Keep it up!" "Rog - in from the north," repeats Tiger 02. "Cleared in - how ‘bout that shack again (direct hit) - must be your day;" exclaims the FAC. After the fourth perfect bomb, the FAC radios, “That should do the trick, hold high and dry while I confer with ole 'Whispering Smith' down there." "Rog- Tigers high and dry," chime the fighter pilots. "How did it look to you from your angle?" the FAC asks the LRRP commander. "FAC, my observer says those four Charlies were wandering to and fro on the trail when that first drop occurred - looks like you wiped them out. We’ll be exploiting that strike in minute for their weapons, but take four body count right now. I’ll give you further results later. Sure nice to have you guys around when we're in pinch." The FAC replies, "Glad to be of assistance, See you this afternoon." Switching radios, the FAC calls Tiger O-1 flight: "Hello Tigers, this is your FAC with the BDA, ready to copy?" "Rog, go ahead, “Tiger O-1 cuts in. The FAC continues "your target coordinates were XT- ; on target at 1130, off target at 1140, 100 per cent ordnance in the target area,100 per cent target coverage and four KIA body count. Those troops down there really appreciate your work. Outstanding ordnance delivery, especially those bombs, 02; best I've seen in a long while." The flight leader returns, "Roger FAC, enjoyed working with you; see you at the O-Club bar at Bravo Hotel. Tigers, let's go button five."

Later after a daring extraction covered by split second coverage from Army gunships, artillery and USAF fighters, the LRRP commander has an informal chat with the FAC. "We found four of them pretty badly mangled; never knew what hit them. We found one of their weapons. Sure glad those jet jockeys were hitting on the money today. It would have been curtains for us had they missed." The FAC confides, "Believe me, we’re always glad to help you out; hope to work with you again soon."

October 09, 1967: TropicLightningNews LRRP/USAF teamwork...LRRP deployed along an enemy infiltration route spends night surveilling a large VC base camp with over 100 VC...but a VC ambush blocks LRRP's escape route to pickup zone...LRRP radios information to USAF FAC...two F-5 fighters strike with 500-lb. bombs while LRRPs keep their heads down...later LRRPs find 4 VC bodies...followed by successful extration involving "split-second coverage" by Centaur gunships, field artillery, and USAF fighters.

October 15, 1967: Letter: Bruce Powell to home: Training CPT Stephenson to take my job as Centaur 20. Training MAJ Fisher, XO, as gun pilot. CPT Vinson on leave. ___Hog leader Johnson on leave. CPT Wilde (Gun pilot instr) working with 1st Cav for a few weeks. Designing our own tactics.___Writing section SOP. My pilots are extremely aggressive. I think the VC know it. Diamond Heads (25th Div) seem to draw more fire.___13 Oct Diamond Head pilot killed near Hobo Woods. They need to upgrade their tactics. Talk about “Check Mates” & “Stick-em ups.”___Things we do to get VC to shoot at us. Ship availability problems. Round thru rotor blade last night. 6 hits in the last week.___Detailed story about night mission, LT Sanford on wing with no landing lights (shot out), landing to lights of trucks along runway.___Unpredictable night weather is problem. So many new pilots. Hate to send them out at night.___Made LT Moore AC today. He is on night mission with Halliday (copilot) tonight. Has very new crew chief and door gunner.

October 16, 1967: TropicLightningNews Vol2No41 Men Needed For 25th's LRRP Det. Enlisted and officer personnel are being sought for a Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP) Detachment being formed by the 25th Inf Div.

Volunteers will make up the LRRP Detachment, assigned to the 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav.
Desirable prerequisites for the volunteers are: Ranger Recondo School, Jungle Training School; excellent physical condition; above average knowledge of map reading and at least eight months left in the command, unless the volunteer is Recondo School trained with six months remaining on his tour.

Two armor or infantry lieutenants are needed to be LRRP leaders. They must have at least one month of combat experience and seven months remaining on their present tour.

Officer interviews may be arranged with the G1, Cu Chi 101/121 or Lightning 1.
Required for patrol from enlisted personnel are: six E-6 to be patrol leaders, 24 E-4 to be IS radio operators; and eight E-5 to be assistant patrol leaders.

In the communications section there is a need for one E-5 as chief RTT operator; one E-5 as senior field radio repairman; one E-4 to be a field radio mechanic, eight E-4 as IS radio operators; and two E-4 to be RTT operators.
Interviews for volunteers with the grade and MOS for the enlisted openings may be arranged by contacting the chief of the AG Personnel Management Division, Cu Chi 229.

October 29, 1967:Letter: Bruce Powell to home: Describing the emotions of war. The excitement of seeing the new AH-1G in action (Playboys; 334th at Bien Hoa). ___Story of Cobras coming in to replace our shot up Heavy team. Rick Arthur leading, Mark Schmidt on wing, me in third position.___Arthur took 4 hits. WO Gary Cockran (Rick's copilot) hit in leg. Playboys are only “Company” of all guns in the Army.___Put in my application to extend for that unit. COL Shea pinned DFC on me for OH-23 action with A Trp.___Scout platoon operations focused on Hobo Woods. Found 3 base camps two days ago.___Wolfhounds, ground unit of 25th Div sent in and are in heavy contact. Will scout for them tomorrow.

Flight Operations (Audio) - November 1967 - by Tom Fleming
An audio tape of an actual mission involving a shot down Aero Scout and the subsequent scramble of the troop in response to the downed aircraft and the engagement of enemy elements in the vicinity of downed helicopter and crew. The audio has background noise from the VRC-24 UHF radio in Flight Operations and at times the transmissions are difficult to clearly hear. An explanatory document describes the mission and players.

November 13, 1967: TropicLightningNews Vol2No45 Progress Being made In Securing Highway 1. Quick and highly visible progress is very gratifying. In September and through October the 3rd Sqdn, 4th Cav, was making frequent contact with the enemy on Highway 1 north of Cu Chi. During the earlier part of September an incident occurred almost every other night. The road is far more secure now. The 25th Inf Div's Cav unit's mission is to secure the road. It is not an easy task.

The actions, scattered over the past two months, netted 11 Viet Cong by actual body count. The squadron estimated that another 31 Viet Cong had been killed. Two RPG-7 rocket launchers were captured the night of Sept. 12. An RPG-2 was also captured during that action. Several carbines and much small arms ammunition has been captured by the squadron. The frequency of the contacts dropped. In an effort to secure the road and the surrounding areas during the Oct. 22 elections, the entire squadron went to the field for five days.

The headquarters' elements established a forward command point near Go Dau Ha, 44 kms northwest of Saigon. The squadron's four troops were dispatched in around-the-clock security vigilance. Delta Troop (Air) maintained aerial security. Its Aerorifle Platoon was active in "roundups." Working with the National Police the platoon checked ID cards in various areas near Cu Chi.

The other three troops were on the road, holding various sectors of responsibility. There was only one casualty during the election vigil. The man was returned to duty the same day.
The election went by without mishap. Record crowds went to the polls, ignoring Viet Cong threats. Progress has been made.

November 13, 1967: TropicLightningNews Sep-Oct 67...Aerorifle Platoon conducted nighttime "roundups" of VC along the Main Supply Route (MSR) as part of round-the-clock operations by all four 3/4 Cav Troops to improve security along the MSR..resulting in 11 VC KIA, 31 more estimated KIA and captured weapons.  MSR security contributed to a high turnout in Vietnamese elections.

November 13, 1967: War Story "The Bu Dop Mission" by Bruce Powell: This was a supposedly dangerous and classified mission that called for volunteers. It ended up being a cakewalk for the unsupported gun crews, while our buddies in Cu Chi got the crap shot out of them with heavy mortar and recoiless rifle attacks.

November 20, 1967: TropicLightningNews Vol2No46 Circling 300 feet above the HoBo Woods, 54 kms northwest of Saigon, the crew of a 25th Div gunship spotted a wounded man in the dense jungle below. Rolling in for a closer look, the aircraft commander WO Bruce Wood of Fresno, Calif., from Delta Trp (Air), 3rd Sqdn, 4th Cav, scanned the terrain. SP5 Sidwayne D. Collins, the crew chief from Pennington, Va., spotted the infantryman waving his arms. Collins threw a smoke grenade signaling that he had spotted the wounded man. "He looked seriously wounded, but he managed to drag himself into a small clearing," Collins said. "Then he threw a smoke grenade to mark his position for us," he continued.

Circling the area five minutes before the sighting, the gunship had received several rounds of automatic weapons fire. The wounded man, PFC Arthur B. Lyon of the 2nd Bn, 14th Inf, was also under fire. The gunship fired rockets and miniguns into a trench where several VC had been spotted. Lyon killed one VC himself. This is remarkable as Lyon had crawled and pulled himself through thick underbrush all night after his ambush patrol had suffered heavy casualties. He had been wounded in the leg, lost a great deal of blood, and was unable to walk. In the face of imminent danger from point blank enemy automatic weapons fire, Wood took control and eased the helicopter into a clearing 100 meters from the wounded man. Before he had a chance to ask his crew, they all volunteered to go in after Lyon. "I was proud of my crew and especially Collins who said over the radio that he insisted on going to get Lyon," Wood said.

The next three minutes were critical. Wood maneuvered his ship among the trees at a three-foot hover. WO Howard Anderson, the pilot from Marathon, Fla., said, "The landing zone was small and full of stumps and small trees. We could not land the craft." The door machine gunner, SGT Kenneth Wilson of Rosamond, Calif., gave his M-16 to Collins who had volunteered to get the wounded man. Wilson said, "Collins was gone a minute or so into the thick brush, then he came back carrying Lyon. He could have beaten the 4-minute mile easily." Covering Collins, Wilson scanned the brush looking for signs of the enemy. After Collins carefully placed Lyon in the ship, Wood and Anderson coaxed the helicopter up over the tree tops, the skids dragging branches. The ship was carrying more than its normal load. The Delta Trp gunship carried Lyon to the "Tropic Lightning" Div's 12th Evac Hosp in Cu Chi. The trip took five minutes. Wood said, "Lyon thanked us for rescuing him. He didn't really have to. I got all the thanks I needed when I saw the expression on his face after we picked him up."

November 27, 1967: TropicLightningNews Vol2No47 Cong's Aiming Stakes Fail As Cav Hits 2 VC Squads. Bamboo aiming stakes failed to improve the Viet Cong's aim and dug-in firing positions did not protect them during a recent contact with Charlie Trp, 3rd Sqdn, 4th Cav.

The 25th Div's cavalry unit was sweeping southeast on Highway 1 toward the Hoc Mon Bridge. The bridge is 16 kms northwest of Saigon. At 10 p.m. the troop's 1st Plt made contact with two squads of Viet Cong firing from the south side of the road. Five vehicles were hit by 10 RPG-2 rockets. The enemy also fired some 200 rounds of small arms ammunition.

The armored vehicles were lightly damaged. There were only two U.S. soldiers wounded.
The contact lasted five minutes. The 2nd and 3rd platoons arrived as reinforcements minutes after the initial contact. A flare ship and a gunship from Delta Trp (AIR) provided illumination and added firepower. The combined elements returned fire with 90mm tank guns, small arms and automatic weapons.

Immediately after the contact with the Viet Cong on the run, a reconnaissance of the area was made. Blood trails were found strewn with bloody T-shirts and web gear. The bamboo aiming stakes were found by members of the 1st Plt. The stakes were alongside the road, set apart approximately the length of an armored personnel carrier.
The following morning the troop found one dead Viet Cong still holding his RPG-2 rocket launcher. He was carrying a green canvas packet with two RPG-2 rockets and three grenades. An AK-47 assault rifle was also policed up

November 27, 1967: TropicLightningNews Vol2No47 Leaping From Helicopters, Aero Rifles Kill 4 Viet Cong. Leaping from their helicopters and assaulting through 500 meters of brush, the lightning-fast Aero Rifle Platoon killed four Viet Cong and detained two suspects near the village of Duong Long in Tay Ninh Province, 56 kms northwest of Saigon.

The quick reaction platoon, from the 25th Div's 3rd Sqdn, 4th Cav, dropped into the landing zone after helicopters had sighted movement in the thick hedgerows. It was the same area where intelligence sources indicated the presence of an enemy concentration. "We were alerted over the radio of the activity," said 1LT William Mosenthal, the platoon leader from Norwich, Vt. "We charged at full speed to the hedgerows," he added. Fanning out, the Aero Rifles received small arms fire from the hedgerows. Fire was returned, until two Viet Cong came into the open with their hands in the air. PSG James Price of Onaway, Mich., and his elements found the body of a third Viet Cong. Two carbines were seized.

The helicopters of Delta Trp spotted more movement in hedgerows to the southwest. Two more helicopter loads of Aero Rifles were flown in, as the 2nd Plt of Bravo Trp rushed up in their armored personnel carriers, dismounted and helped beat the brush. During the sweep, Price saw fresh footprints around a well checked earlier by the platoon. As one of the men peered down the well, he was shot at, from a tunnel dug into its side. "We moved out of the angle of fire and began digging," Price explained. "Our equipment was pretty modern. . . a couple of bayonets and some bamboo stakes," Price said jokingly.

After the digging and fighting was over, the Aero Rifles had added three more Viet Cong to the day's list of KIAs. Before the tunnel was destroyed, the platoon found a RPG-2 rocket launcher and six rockets, a CHICOM sub-machinegun and small arms ammunition in the tunnel. The Delta Trp Aero Rifles suffered no casualties during the contact. "Except one; I got sunburned," lamented Price.

November 27, 1967: TropicLightningNews Vol2No47 "Baby Scouts" Net 2 Two. "Baby Scouts" (OH 23s) from Delta Trp (AIR), 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav, found three men hiding in a rice paddy between Trung Lap and Trang Bang recently. Flying the daily "last light" patrol, WO Mackie Webb of Ware Shoals, S.C., spotted the men just north of Highway 1. He pushed the stick on his "Baby Scout" and plummeted in for a closer look. Two armed men started running across a paddy. Webb called back to base camp for permission to fire. Permission granted, his doorgunner placed effective suppressive fire behind the fleeing figures.

WO Daryl Gunn, St Louis, Mo., flying security several hundred feet above swooped down for a better look and a chance to join in. A third man suspect was spotted near all the action. He came into the open with his hands in the air. Both scouts landed and Webb and his doorgunner looked for the two men in the paddy. He found one body but the other man had disappeared into the water of the rice paddy and could not be found. The detainee was brought back to the 25th Div's base camp at Cu Chi. "We have had about 75 per cent of our contacts in this area," Gunn said.

November 27, 1967: TropicLightningNews Cu Chi base camp on 15 Nov 67 suffered its 7th mortar and recoilless rifle attack (135 rounds) with 5 KIA and 26 WIA...Counter-mortar gunships retaliated and "silenced the enemy positions." 

November 27, 1967: TropicLightningNews 2 Centaur gunships (Powell and Meeks) deployed to Song Be and Bo Duc in the Highlands in support of the 1/27th Infantry (Wolfhounds) in a 2d Brigade task force engaged in search and destroy ops.

November 27, 1967: TropicLightningNews After a helicopter sighting of VC near Duong Lap,Tay Ninh Province, Aerorifle Platoon led by 1LT William Mosenthal and PSG James Price landed, charged through half a kilometer of brush, received and returned fire, and captured 2 VC and killed 1.  After more aerial sightings, Aerorifles conducted a sweep with B Troop, killing 3 more VC, capturing weapons, and destroying a tunnel.

November 27, 1967: TropicLightningNews Two OH-23 Light Scouts on "last light" patrol along MSR, piloted by WO Mackie Webb (flying low) and WO Daryl Gunn (flying security above), used door gunners to attack 3 VC in a rice paddy between Trung Lap and Trang Bang...landed, captured one prisoner and verified 1 KIA.

LRRP Extraction Charcoal Kiln - December 1967 - by Tom Fleming
A description of a LRRP mission out of Dau Tieng in which a newly assigned Team leader with a barely trained team madea mistake and compromised his mission. The LRRP Team is successfully rescued.

Kit Carson Scout (Video) - December 1967 - by Tom Fleming
The troop was assigned its first Kit Carson Scout, a young man from a nearby village who while operating with a Viet Cong element was wounded by a Centaur gunship, Chou Hoed, volunteered to be trained as a Kit Carson Scout and requested assignment to the unit that wounded him. He proved to be a loyal brave soldier who acquired the respect and confidence of the soldiers and leaders he served with.

December 19, 1967: Video: Pat Eastes/TJ Lange "Bloody Stickem Up" Two pilots put their crew in danger by trying to capture a VC, who answered by throwing a grenade at us and almost killing us all. All crewmembers were wounded. TJ awarded a Bronze Star "V" for his action. Also see TJ Lange retelling the story.

Prek Klok - December 1967:
A LRRP team that was compromised in War Zone C NE of Tay Ninh and SE of the SF Camp at Prek Klok in Dec 1967.

Events of 1968

Digging the New Well - 1968 - by Tom Fleming
D Troop had recently closed on a new home on the South East side of the main runway and was in the process of adding to the constructed facilities already in place. A new well for the water source for the officer’s shower was called for. The operation turned out well after some difficulty digging the well.

Mission at Dau Tieng - January 1968 - by Tom Fleming
A description of a rear area security mission in attachment to the 3d Bde and the ensuing actions which include, prisoner snatch, enemy base camp search, LRRPs, B-52 Arch light and a two division Division Artillery” time on target” that nearly wiped out D Troop.

January 7, 1968: Letter: Jim Moore to Bruce Powell:___Not many missions lately. Will change when Maj Fleming gets back.___Hot and dusty. ¾ Cav attached to the 2nd Brigade to get the Go-Mon ?? over by Phu Cong. ___BDA after AirForce tested new bomb and dropped 50 gal drums of CS gas. We wore masks. Worked well.___3 runs, 5 VC body count. Hit in tail rotor driveshaft. Returned home for repair and back out.___Air Force dropped Napalm, missed, killed 25 americans. The 20 mm was accurate and got kills. Warrior 6 happy with our part.___Got new pilot WO Yetman fresh from Flt School. New gunner Rice. Two or three training missions a day to get new guys up. ___Got 461 back today. Pick up 744 from 725th tomorrow. Suppose to get a brand new Charlie model from Saigon. ___New logging rule. Log engine time not flight time. Engineers finishing bunkers.___Lange, Hoffman, Portas, giving classes to new guys on their own. Made Williams Maintenance Officer. ___Scrambled to Bao Trai. Being overrun. 3 50's firing at us. Johnson and Wood took hits (433 & 172). I flew 460. Had Hydrallic leak.___462 had minigun problem. Scrambled again at 02:30. 4hrs. Expended. 2nd Brigade moved in at 06:30.

January, 1968: War Story "Year of the Rat" by Pat Eastes: Pat's recollection of several incidents during Tet '68 combat operations. First 122mm attack. NVA regulars were showing up instead of VC. LTC Glenn Otis; Doc Halliday, Mike Siegel. AC-47 Spooky. Downing a damaged Aircraft and hitching a ride. Handling enemy 50 cal positions. Fighting in Saigon.

Battle of the Ho Bo Woods (Video part one) - 29 January 1968 - by Tom Fleming
Part one of two videos describing the operational situation, planning for the mission and circumstances leading up to the engagement.

Battle of the Ho Bo Woods (Video part two) - 29 January 1968 - by Tom Fleming
Part two details my participation in the engagement up to the rescue of the survivors of the Aero rifle Platoon and my departure from the troop area.

January 30, 1968: War Story "The Battle for Saigon": This War Story page outlines and links to all the Centaur related events of this big battle.

February 1968


March 1968: Audio Tape: Bruce Powell, Sharks Teeth Tale


April 1968


May 1968


June 1968


July 2, 1968:Audio Tape: Bruce Powell, Centaur 40, Heavy Weapons (AH-1G) Section leader. His voice and that of Centaur 41, to be determined, are on the tape. It is a detailed account of the hot extraction of a six man LRRP team (Cobra 23) trapped on the East side of Nui Ba Den mountain by LOH pilot Centaur 14 (believed to be 1LT Anderson). At that time, Jul 68 , I was a month from rotating from Nam back to the states after 18 months as a Centaur. Through my personal notes and letters, here is what I think is correct about that time frame: Major Fred Michaelson was Centaur 6, the XO was who ever Moose Marcinkowski replaced later in that month, CPT Mills was Operations Officer, John Whitehead was the Gun platoon leader over all the sections of Light Scouts (OH-6A), Heavy Scouts (UH-1C), and Hogs (which were now AH-1G Cobras). Charlie Rice was Light Scout section leader, Rick Williams was Heavy Scout section leader and myself with the Cobra section. Cobra 23 LRRP Rescue

July 2, 1968: TropicLightningNews Pilot Risks Life to Save LRPS This is the newpaper version of the Cobra 23 rescue story above.

August 1968


September 1968


October 1968


November 1968:


November 4 1968: War Story "The An Doc Extraction": by Dale Dow. This synopsis of actions involving the Aero-Rifles is based on the memories of several of the pilots, crew members, and Aero-Rifle infantrymen who were assigned to Trp D (Air), 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav on 4 November 1968 and on the Daily Staff Journal (DSJ) prepared by the S3, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav that recorded the events for that day. Many aircraft were lost; 1 KIA and several WIA.


December 1968



Events of 1969


January 1969


February 1969

February 20, 1969: Letter: Dalles St John to Powell: Dalles wrote this letter from Nam to Bruce Powell in Savannah, GA. Chuck Weseman got his commission & he didn't; Trouve left & Laird took over; 11 Cobras and 24 pilots; No C models; took off sharks teeth; lost 2 Cobras; Clay Maxwell and Moore (which Moore is this?) injured in crash & sent home.

March 1969


April 1969

May 19, 1969: TropicLightningNews Vol4No20 D Troop Cavalry Boasts Flexible Air, Ground Team CU CHI - Quick and efficient support is the mission of D Troop, the aerial arm of the 3d Squadron, 4th Cavalry. D Troop's Commanding Officer, Major William Laird of Tampa, Fla., describes his unit this way, "We fly anytime and anyplace that Squadron requests. Normally we have gun teams, flare ships, dustoff and visual reconnaissance flights on stand-by, 24 hours a day. In addition, we fly for other units in the division," Laird explains, "but supporting Squadron is our primary function."

D Troop is sometimes thought of as a mini-aviation battalion. It has OH-6As for visual reconnaissance and Command and Control flights; AH-1G Cobras for gun support; and UH-1 slicks for carrying troops and supplies. D Troop has one platoon not normally found in an aviation unit, the Aero-Rifle platoon. This is a regular infantry platoon used to develop the combat situation on the ground. An elite unit, the aero-rifles have figured strongly in numerous actions involving the Squadron. The pilots and aircraft commanders flying the Cobra gunships are experienced and highly qualified. Experience is an absolute necessity when fire support within 50 meters of friendly troops is needed. This support is awe-inspiring to say the least. With mini-guns, grenade launchers and rockets pounding away at Charlie, it is small wonder that ground troop commanders often pay personal visits to the pilots to say "thanks."

Captain William Cirincione, Cobra platoon leader, has nothing but admiration for his men. "From the crew chiefs and armorers to the pilots, I have never worked with such a dedicated and professional group of men," praised Cirincione of Cleveland, Ohio. The aero-scout platoon has the most exciting job in the Troop. The aero-scouts fly at tree-top level in front of advancing ground troops to look for the enemy in his lairs. If the LOH discovers Viet Cong, it can engage the target, provided it is not too large. The pilot calls in the fire of his covering Cobra. Between the two aircraft, the enemy usually winds up with the short end of the deal. This method used to discover the enemy has enabled the ground commanders to change their plans to suit themselves, not the enemy.

The advancing LOH carries a crew chief and observer who both act as door gunners. Their eyes have to be sharp and their reflexes fast. Numerous North Vietnamese Army soldiers have found out just how quick they are, but are not around to tell about it. First Lieutenant Gerald Odom of Mount Dora, Fla., is the platoon leader. He compares the Indian scout of yesterday to the modern LOH. "When the enemy has to he found, the scout will do it," says Odom. "Years ago it was a man on a horse, today it's men in an aircraft." The work horses of the Troop are the slicks. They slingload ice to thirsty troopers, carry their mail and resupplies, provide medical evacuation no matter how hot the action is, give illumination with flares, transport the aero-rifle platoon on assaults, insert and extract Rangers, and perform many other missions. Captain William Reavis of Greensboro, N.C., has command of all facets of slick and aero-rifle operations. "We hae pulled as many avs five combat assaults in one day and then flown all night when the Squadron made contact," relates Reavis. My pilots and crew members are nothing less than outstanding," said Reavis. "They exhibit great courage on every mission we have. Not only that, but they sometimes work through the night just to make sure the aircraft are ready to go the next day."

The aero-rifle infantry platoon is a highly mobile force capable of swift reaction to any situation. From scramble horn to insertion is usually only 20 minutes. First Lieutenant Eugene Carolan, of Detroit, Mich., is the ground platoon leader. His situation is unusual for an aviator. He has earned the Combat Infantry Badge for ground action in addition to his flying duties. He enjoys leading the "Rifles" and considers himself fortunate from the standpoint of experience.

The heart of D Troop is the operations center. Captain William Chiaramonte of Albuquerque, N.M., receives missions from the 3/4 Horse S-3 and passes them down to the appropriate platoon leader. Since the Centaurs could be on many different missions simultaneously, it is necessary that Operations be a well-run and efficient machine. "We have to know everything to make the Troop function efficiently," Chiaramonte explains. "To insure efficiency I have radio operators, operations sergeants, clerks, and an artillery liaison officer. They're kept pretty busy throughout the day and night. We never close!"

A vital part of the Troop efficiency is the Service Platoon. First Lieutenant Jack Dickson of Tullahoma, Tenn., has direct command of both the maintenance section and supply section. The job which occupies the majority of his time is maintenance of the Troop's helicopters. Dickson's crews work around the clock, side by side with the crew chiefs from the flight sections. In addition, the avionics and armament sections make sure the aircrafts have good communications and that weapons are functioning properly. The supply section cares not only for the mundane replacement of pencils and other gear, but also services the fuel tankers and wheeled vehicles in the unit.

Delta Troop is large. It must be to insure combat effectiveness. It is a proud troop, part of a proud squadron. From the pilots to the supply clerk, professionalism is a way of life. The ground troops know that when the Centaurs are requested, the job will be well done and done fast. Captain Garrett Marcinkowski of Cohasset, Mass., the Executive Officer of D Troop, sums it up this way, "You name it, we've done it. If we haven't, nobody has."

June 1969


July 1969

August 1969

September 1969

October 1969

November 1969

December 1969


Events of 1970


January 1970


February 1970


March 1970


April 1970


May 1970


June 1970


July 1970


August 1970


September 1970


October 1970


4 November 1970    Notes: Ed Wolfe: Transfer to D/3/4 CAV, Long Binh.  After interviews by the Cobra and Huey platoon leaders, I choose to fly the OH-6A as a scout pilot.  Transition in December in the Loach.

December 1970


Events of 1971

1971-72 Yearbook Photos

January early, 1971; Notes: Ed Wolfe: Started to fly aero-scout missions

February 10, 1971: D/3/4 Cav re-designated as F/4th Cav

March 1971

April, 1971: Troop moves to Lia Khe as the only US unit in the base camp.

May 7, 1971: Notes: Ed Wolfe: DEROS orders and heading down to 90th Replacement

June 1971


July 1971


August 1971


September 1971


October 1971


November 1971


December 1971


Events of 1972

1971-72 Yearbook Photos


January 1972


February 1972


March 1972


April 1972


May 1972


June 1972


June 8, 1972:  Log Book entries - These excerpts are from the US Marine advisors to the Vietnamese Marine 147th Brigade and 258th Brigade logbooks during the NVA offensive in 1972. Entries dated 9 thru 14 Jun and 11 July 1972


July 1972


August 1972


September 1972


October 1972


November 10, 1972:  F Troop, Fourth Cavalry engaged an enemy company-size element (AT978571), equipped with .51 caliber weapons resulting in three enemy KBH.

November 15, 1972:  F Troop, 4th Cavalry observed and engaged two T54 tanks, two Soviet armored personnel carriers, and four trucks one mile south of the Qua Viet River (YD 379662).  During the engagement, the team received heavy automatic weapons fire and one SA-7 was launched by enemy ground troops forcing the aircraft to depart prior to making a damage assessment of enemy forces.

December 11, 1972:  A light reconnaissance team from F Troop, 4th Cavalry, acting as a Naval Gunfire adjustment platform, directed fires resulting in 11 secondary explosions.

December 19, 1972: Elements from F Troop, 4th Cavalry conducted a search and rescue operation in the vicinity of Y400644 for the crew of a downed Air Force OV-10. The team was successful in extracting the downed pilots and returning them to DaNang for medical attention.  The pilot of the OV-10 died of injuries incurred in ejection and the aerial observer was treated for injuries and returned to duty.

December 31, 1972:  A light reconnaissance team from F Troop, 4th Cavalry observed four tanks and 20 troops at YD338704.  The team adjusted Naval gunfire with unknown results.


Events of 1973

January 6, 1973:  A light reconnaissance team conducting a bomb damage assessment of a B-52 strike (YD298748) observed trucks moving in the area.  The team adjusted Naval gunfire resulting in five secondaries and six sustained fires.

January 8, 1973:  A UH-1H aircraft from the 62nd Aviation Company while flying in support of the Vietnamese Airborne Division was reported shot down in enemy held territory northwest of Quang Tri (vic Y3155).  Field reports incited that the aircraft was hit by small arms fire and an SA-7 missile.  Negative contact was established with the crew and repeated attempts to locate the aircraft were unsuccessful.  USAF aircraft participating in search and rescue efforts reported intense antiaircraft fire and attempt was terminated with negative results and four crew members and two passengers were listed as missing in action.
(Brian's note - F/4 flew this mission as well, a maximum effort).

January 28, 1973:  Elements from F Troop, 4th Cav engaged targets along the Son Tra River resulting in 30 enemy KBH.  The contact terminated at 0755.  At 0800 hours, all arms combat activities by the 11th CAG ceased due to the provisions of the unilateral ceasefire in the Republic of Vietnam.

January 28, 1973:  Equipment retrograde/transfer:  D/17 Cavalry ceased combat operations and prepared to retrograde all OH-6A helicopters to CONUS through the 142n Transportation Company.  D/17 was informed of a requirement to maintain five AH-1G, Cobra gunships on strip alert for an indefinite period.  Two of the gunships would be provided by F/4 Cavalry with crews provided by D/17.  All other AH1-G Cobras were prepared for retrograde.  F/4th Cavalry ceased combat operations.

February 1, 1973:  F Troop, 4th Cavalry completed the transfer of the installation at Tan My Island.  The island, with all installed property and equipment, was turned over the the 1st ARVN Division.

February 15, 1973:  The Morning Reports of F Troop, 4th Cavalry and D Troop, 17th Cavalry were zeroed.  Al of the personnel from these unites had been either shipped out of country, transferred to the Joint Military Commission or the ICCS, or assigned to the HQ 11th CAG.

February 28, 1973: ICCS aircrew received ground fire Northwest of Hoi An, Coord BT085625 wounding the pilot.  ICCS members from Canada and Indonesia wet aboard ( Brian's note - I think this was WO Broadnax from F/4)