Constituted 23 September
1942 in the Army of the United States as the 2027th Quartermaster Truck Company,
Activated 5 October 1942 at
Lockbourne Army Air Base, Ohio.
Inactivated 20 February
1946 in the Philippine Islands.
Converted and redesignated
1 August 1946 as the 2027th Transportation Company (Aviation).
Redesignated 1 November
1966 as the 189th Aviation Company, allotted to the Regular Army, and activated
at Fort Carson, Colorado.
Entered the Vietnam
Conflict May 1967 and assigned to the 52d Combat Aviation Battalion at Camp
Holloway (Pleiku, RVN).
The 189th was just one unit
of the largest Aviation Battalions ever formed, the 52nd Combat Aviation
Battalion (CAB) "The Flying Dragons" was subordinate to the 17th
Combat Aviation Group (CAG). The 17th CAG was subordinate to the 1st Aviation
Brigade, the largest Army Aviation organization formed since World War II. The
1st Aviation Brigade was comprised of several Groups, each having several
Inactivated 15 March 1971 in Vietnam.
Assigned 19 February 1986
to the 3d Armored Division and activated in Germany.
Inactivated 16 July 1987 in
World War -
Presidential Unit Citation, Streamer embroidered 17 October 1944 to 4 July 1945.
Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm, Streamer embroidered VIETNAM 1967-1968.
Vietnam Civil Action Honor Medal, First Class, Streamer embroidered VIETNAM
The 189th Aviation Company
(AML) was activated by Department of the Army with Fifth Army General Order 236,
dated 19 September 1966, to be organized on 1 November, 1966 at Fort Carson,
Captain Victor Hamilton
05318188, Infantry commanded the unit, who proceeded in organizing the unit
under TO&E 1-77E (Modified). Under his command the unit was open for the
receipt of incoming personnel and equipment.
1 December 1966: Major
Robert Bagley 04009745, Artillery assumed command. Under his guidance, request
for additional equipment were submitted, a training program was established, the
airfield operations element was established, and unit training begin.
9 December 1966, the 189th
was reorganized under TO&E 1-77G (Modified) as directed by General Order
427, Fifth Infantry Division and Fort Carson, Colorado. Under the new TO&E,
the 189th was authorized a Company Headquarters, two (2) Airlift Platoons, a Gun
Platoon and a Service Platoon. The unit was provided additional support by the
604th Maintenance Detachment, the 519th Medical Detachment and the 6th Signal
Under TO&E 1-77G, the
189th was to prepare for deployment on a date yet undisclosed.
As the unit was one of the
first units to receive the UH-1H Huey all new aircraft were picked up from the
factory in Ft. Worth, Texas and ferried to Fort Carson, CO.
12 December 1966: The 189th
began its formal training on. Each day began with physical training capped with
an increasing longer run around post. As this was winter in Colorado physical
training was suspended on those mornings when the temperature dipped below 28
The first week dealt
primarily with basic required subjects, such as Code of Conduct, Geneva
17 December 1966: The
Christmas Holidays began, and all formal training ceased for two weeks.
21 December 1966: Major
John J. Webster 01881081, TC, assumed command of the Company. During the
remainder of the of 1966 the unit was primarily involved with aircraft checkouts
required for aviators in the UH-1C and UH-1H.
After the Christmas
Holidays were over training became serious under ATP 1-77G and continued until
1 January 1967, the key
positions within the Company were filled by the following:
Commanding Officer: Major
Executive Officer: Major
Robert T. Bagley
First Sergeant: 1SG Alfred
Operations Officer: Major
Richard V. Coulter
Intelligence Officer: Major
Jesse E. Stewart
First Airlift Platoon
Commander: Captain Jack W. Blien
Second Airlift Platoon
Commander: Major Albert H. Kraph
Gun Platoon Commander:
Captain Pinckney C. Cochran
Service Platoon Commander:
Captain Wilbur R. Mixier
The associated detachments
and their initial commanders were:
Detachment: Major Richard D. Caldwell
519th Medical Detachment:
WO1 Daniel J. Bainey
6th Signal Detachment: 2d
Lt. James R. Conley
3 January 1967, schedule
training resumed. The first week of the new year was devoted to basic required
11 January 1967 formal
flight training began at section and platoon levels and included such subjects
as Navigation, Instrument Proficiency, Night Flying, Formation Flying with
Loads, Gunship Tactics and Airmobile Operations.
20 January 1967: The first
company-size Airmobile Operation was conducted on and was followed by three more
prior to the Field Exercise (FTX) portion of unit training.
31 January 1967 - 6
February 1967: Gunnery training (7.62 systems) was conducted. During the period,
all gunnery personnel was qualified in the XM-21 and XM-23 systems.
7-9 February 1967 found the
unit in the field for the first time where emphasis was placed on Operation of a
Tactical Landing Area, Security of the Area, Operational Reaction Time,
Resupply, Aero-medical Evacuation, and Section and Platoon-size Airmobile
operations with Armed Escort.
14-16 February 1967 the
unit again operated from the field. Emphasis was placed as on the first
operation for the purpose of reducing mission reaction time.
20 February found the 189th
in the field; this time for a five day exercise. During that period, the company
provided aviation support to the 2/11th Infantry in its Advanced Infantry
Training (AIT) cycle. Emphasis was placed on Platoon and Company-sized
operations, resuppy, aero-medical evacuation and a night move in preparation for
the forth-coming Army Training Test (ATT) cycle. The unit was observed
throughout the operation by ranking personnel who seemed pleased with the unit's
During the same period, the
Gun Platoon participated in firing of the 2.75 Rocket System and the M-5
(40mm)Grenade Launcher. With the completion of this training, the Company looked
forward to the ATT.
1-3 March 1967. The ATT was
conducted under conditions simulating combat. During the three day period, the
unit and supporting Detachments were judged combat ready in all phases of the
With the completion of the
ATT, the 189th Aviation Company (AML) began preparations for it's overseas
movement. The unit was notified of over-seas redeployment by Fifth Infantry
Division and Fort Carson Movement Order #5.
With the issuance of
Movement Order #5, the unit began processing all equipment for repair and final
16 March 1967, the Gun
Platoon departed Fort Carson with eight (8) UH-1C's for Sharp Army Depot. The
aircraft were to be processed for overseas shipment not later than 21 March
1967. On 17 March the Gun Platoon reported departing El Paso International, ETA
Yuma, Arizona 2326Z. Gun Platoon departed Yuma the morning of the 18th,
destination Sharp Army Depot, Stockton, California. The transfer of
"C" Models was completed upon arrival, 181637 March 1967.
28 March 1967 additional
movement instructions was received. All vehicles and conexed equipment were port
called for NLT 12 April. To meet the 12 April port call, rail cars were loaded 6
April for movement on 7 April.
29 March, Requirements for
the advance part were partially finalized on. The number in the party was
limited to five and included:
Major Richard V. Coulter,
Operations and OIC
Major Jesse E. Stewart,
Training and Intelligence
Captain Ernest R. Bowling,
Captain Phillip Ashbeg,
Captain Darrell Waite,
21 April, The advance party
was alerted and departed Fort Carson at 0620 hours on 23 April 1967. The party
arrived at and departed Travis Air force Base that same day for Cam Rhon Bay,
Vietnam. Arrival time at Cam Rhon Bay was 0500 hours, 25 April. From there, the
advance part was processed through 17th Aviation Group and finally arrived at
its new station, Pleiku, Vietnam on 27 April 1967. The unit was assigned to the
52nd Combat Aviation Battalion and was redesignated as the 189th Assault
Helicopter Company, APO San Francisco 96318.
3 May 1967: The unit was
broken into contingents and began departing via U.S. Air force C-141 Starlifter.
While enroute to Pleiku AFB, Vietnam intermediate stops were made at Elmendorf
AFB, Alaska and Yokoda, Japan. The sweltering heat of Pleiku was indeed a change
from the cold mountain air of Colorado where it had snowed the day before.
5 May 1967, base camp was
established at Camp Holloway and the main body began arriving. The unit was
assigned a bare piece of ground alongside the runway as a permanent bivouac
area. Seeing that the assigned area lay outside of the Battalion's perimeter,
the first order of business was to extend the barbed wire to encompass the units
new home. Tents were erected and sandbagged. Revetments for the slicks were then
built of steel planking and filled with soil and sand.
The remainder of the body
close the new location the 6th and 7th. Shortly thereafter, the TO&E
equipment less Aircraft) arrived and the 189th neared an operational readiness
22 May saw the arrival of
the units helicopters at the Port of Vung Tau, a coastal city in III Corps and
also an in country R&R site. Much excitement accompanied the crews fortunate
to RON at the old French hotel, sample Bier 33 and consort for the first time
with the local Vietnamese bar girls was a welcome respite from the heat and red
dust of Pleiku.
The first ten (10) aircraft
arrived, and the following day eleven more H models and six (6) UH-1C's arrived;
to be followed by 2 more H models on the 24th. The remaining 2 UH-1C's were
scheduled to arrive the 25th of May 1967.
With the arrival of
equipment and personnel, the company was given an operational readiness date of
15 June 1967.
27 May 1967, UH-1H, 66-1065
crashed while on a courier and resupply mission. WO1 Herbert A. Ripka, W3250625,
was the units first in-country fatality. Although he was initially reported
missing in the over water accident, three days later, his body was washed
ashore, and he was pronounced dead from drowning.
1 June 1967, the first
deros took place in the 189th. As a result, new personnel assumed key positions
Officer:.................Captain Michael Howe
1st Airlift Platoon
Commander:........Captain Eugene Malcoff
2nd Airlift Platoon
Commander:........Captain Darrell Waite
Commander:................Captain Rupert Bowling
During the first part of
June, the 189th Assault Helicopter Company was assigned radio call signs. The
Airlift Platoon's call sign was "Ghostrider" and the call-sign
"Avenger" was given to the Gun Platoon. The 189th AHC operations was
15 June 1967, the 189th AHC
became operational. The combat training was completed and the company assumed
its place as a combat ready unit in the 52nd Battalion. The 189th was placed in
direct support of the 4th Infantry Division. Missions assigned consisted of
C&C, resupply, and combat assaults.
The first series of
operations that the 189th participated in was support of the 1st Brigade, 4th
Infantry Division based in the school house of the abandoned hamlet of LeThan,
better know to the Americans as Jackson's Hole. Jackson's Hole lay west of the
Catecka Tea Plantation and was very near the Cambodian border. Single ship hover
hole LZ's (landing zones) were encountered for the first time. LRRP (Long Range
Recon Patrol) insertions and extractions, medical evacuations and occasional
hostile fire, all provided necessary learning situations for the still
1 July 1967 Major Bobby
Sanders assumed command of the 189th.
7 July 1967: The first
aircraft hit by hostile fire was Ghostrider 174 while on a combat assault in
support of the 1st Cav Division northeast of Kontun. One small arms round hit
the aircraft in its tail section.
13 July 1967 while in
support of the 4th Infantry Division, in the vicinity of Duc Co, Avengers 691
and 693 claimed the first enemy kills of the company. One NVA KIA was confirmed
and an estimated thirty NVA KIA's were unconfirmed. Captain Lynn Hooper was
submitted for the DFC for his part in the action.
31 July 1967 while in
support of the 4th Infantry Division Ghostrider 529 crashed and burned
approximately ten miles south west of Camp Holloway. Killed in the accident were
WO Arnold O. Nakkerud (AC), WO Glen Shropshire (P), and SP4 Donald W. Hart (G).
The crew chief PFC Robert E. Keyes was seriously injured and was evacuated to
the 18th Surgical Hospital.
10 August 1967 Ghostrider
169 was completely destroyed by fire on. There were no injuries as all crew
members were out of the of the aircraft at the time. 169 was shut down while
being loaded with CS grenades. The grenades were dropped causing several to
ignite catching the aircraft on fire.
5 September, 1967, Captain
Lynn Hooper was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for action he was
involved in the night 0f 31 August - 1 September. It was presented by Major
General George P. Seneff.
15 September 1967.
The company sustained its
first casualties from hostile ground fire on. While investigating suspected
enemy tunnels and foxholes on the daily visual reconnaissance, Ghostrider 166
received automatic weapons fire from four individuals who were attempting to
hide in the trees. Ghostrider 166 received approximately 10 hits wounding WO
Egekial Williams (AC) in the thigh and WO Albert Whaley (P) in the lower leg.
The observer Sgt. Lawrence Crippen received facial injuries from shrapnel. Sp4
Samuel Kravchak, the gunner returned fire on the enemy location and claimed one
enemy. All wounds with the exception of WO Whaley's were superficial and after
treatment at the 18th Surgical Hospital the individuals were released. WO Whaley
was eventually evacuated to the United States.
The 189th AHC was
reassigned from direct support of the 4th Infantry Division to general support
of the Central Highlands. These missions included the support of II Corps, 5th
Special Forces Group and the 52nd Artillery Battalion. Operation Omega and
Prairie Fire were also included.
21 September, 1967 the unit
was notified at 2230 hours that Ghostrider 166 was missing on a flight from Mang
Buk Special Forces Camp to Kontum. An air search was initiated on 22 September
and the missing aircraft was located approximately twenty kilometers south of
Mang Buk. All crew members survived with minor injuries although the aircraft
was completely destroyed.
1 October 1967.
This day marked the start
of a classified mission for the 189th with the 5th Special Forces out of FOB-2
at Kontun. This mission required all the skill, techniques, and proficiency the
pilots and crews ever had. Charlie was not to be laughed at.
The following points out
how much of a target the 189th was during many of the insertions and
6 October 1967: On a FOB-2
mission aircraft 6R-171 received several rounds. Pilot, Captain Shiver Eustice
received wounds in leg and arm and was evacuated to the 18th Surgical Hospital.
The aircraft was left at Dak To and arrangements were made for return by CH47.
Avenger 694 received small arms fire, but in retaliation the avengers were given
credit for 27 confirmed NVA kills.
13 October 1967: Company
was notified that WO Nelson had been shot in the back while participating in a
operation for FOB-2 while flying Avenger 693. He was evacuated to the 18th
Surgical Hospital and later to Cam Rhon Bay. No damages were sustained to the
14 October 1967: SP4 Duffin
sustained a slight bullet wound to the foot. He was taken to the 18th Surgical
Hospital. His recovery was quickly returning to the job in a few days.
7 November 1967: Aircraft
6R-160 caught fire in maintenance and received major damages. Aircraft
commitment increased at FOB-2 to 11 slicks and 5 guns.
26 November 1967: 1Lt Gray
(AC) received multiple wounds along with WO1 Climes (P) GR-628 received heavy
battle damage. Lt Gray was removed to Japan and then to the states. WO1 Climes
retuned to duty.
13 December 1967: Dak To
came under motor attack causing extensive damage to GR-156. No injuries,
however, the aircraft could not be flown.
20 December 1967:
At 1530 hours GR-154
crashed and burned while on resupply mission for 3/8th Infantry. Suspect tail
rotor struck jungle canopy. WO1 Baker (AC) suffered severe cut lip. WO1 McGarry
(P) and PFC Antol (CE) were missing. Sp4 Kornes (G) was evacuated with a broken
leg. A search was made of the area, but to no avail.
January 1968, ushered in a
new life-style as only weeks before the Officer's and men had left the barely
hospital tents, with their rain barrel bathtubs for wooden hootches and real
showers in the center of Camp Holloway. The local VC were not kindly disposed to
letting the Company enjoy their new quarters. With the move came nightly mortar
attacks, which made it inadvisable sleeping above ground. At times, as many as
150 rounds a night were thrown at the camp. In an effort to stop the nightly
barrage, half of the gun teams were kept on alert at night after putting in busy
days in hopes of silencing the tube.
Crash of UH-1H 67-17316
9/14/69, afternoon, UH-1H 67-17316 was returning to Camp Holloway after completing its daily mission of supporting the II Corp Commander. The normal daily mission for 67-17316 was to fly the II Corp Commander and/or his staff. The aircraft had completed its mission and was flying from north to south on the west end of Pleiku Air Force Base low level below the Air Force traffic. This was at the time a very normal and routine transit for all helicopters passing Pleiku Air Force base going to Camp Holloway. The aircraft flipped while flying low and fast and all onboard were killed.
Lost were: WO1 Larry Marsh (AC), WO1 Gary Mason (P), SP-5 Gale Pritchard (CC) and SP-4 Thomas Champagne (G).
A witness and rescue specialist that responded to the crash contacted me in late 2003 and gave me the following account. SSGT. Jack Harris was a rescue specialist assigned to the 38th Air Force Rescue, Detachment 9 and was a crewmember on an Air Force HH-43 Rescue Helicopter stationed a Pleiku Air Force base. Jack was on duty when 67-17316 crashed and they immediately launched when the Pleiku Air Force Base tower witness the helicopter flipped. Jack was the nozzle man on the fire suppression equipment when the HH-43 arrived at the crash site. I talked to Jack about 30 minutes after the crash, when I arrived on the scene, and Jack said it was a total loss when they arrived in two & one half minutes. I do not doubt Jack’s account because Jack was a good friend of the 189th Avenger Gun Platoon and had flown as a door gunner with me several months before.
Aircraft accident investigations are not like they are today but the report I received in 189th Operations before I left Vietnam stated that the cause of the crash was a malfunction in the rotor blade swash plate assembly.
Dave Speer Ghostrider Three/Operations Officer