189th Assault Helicopter Company 

1968 History

January 1968: The New Year ushered in a new lifestyle for the officers and men of the 189th. They were able to leave inhospitable tents with their rain barrel bathtubs for wooden hooch’s with real showers right in the center of Camp Holloway. The local VC was not ready to let the company enjoy their new quarters, with the move, came nightly mortar attacks making it inadvisable to sleep above ground. Most nights as many as 50 mortar rounds were lobbed onto Camp Holloway. In an effort to stop the nightly barrage, half of the gun teams were kept on alert at night after putting in busy, long days in hopes of silencing the mortar tubes.

2 January 1968: Change of Command from MAJ Bobby Sanders to MAJ Neil Leva CO, MAJ William Fraker is XO.

8 January 1968: A GHOSTRIDER aircraft landed at a fire base SW of Dak To and, while running, received extensive main rotor damage. An infantry detail working at the fire base cut down a tree down and it fell into the turning blades. The aircraft was recovered, and there were no injuries to the crew.

9 January 1968: The 189th inserted A and C companies 1/8th Inf 4th Inf Div into a hostile LZ that was prepped with artillery for twelve (12) minutes and the barrage was very effective. Seven (7) GHOSTRIDER slicks and three (3) AVENGER guns flew 45 sorties and 20 flight hours. Small arms fire was encountered, but there were no hits or injuries.

10 January 1968: The 189th conducted an extraction of A and C company’s 1/8th Inf 4th Inf Div in support of Operation MacArthur, utilizing eight (8) slicks and four (4) gunships that flew 42 sorties inserting 254 troops west of Dak To. Although heavy automatic weapons fire was received, there were no negative hits or injuries. They also did a final extraction of 2/503rd Abn, 173rd Abn Bge, in the vicinity of Kontum airlifting 252 troops in 40 sorties. One (1) GHOSTRIDER slick crashed resulting in major damage to the aircraft, but no injuries to the crew.

11 January 1968: The 189th conducted a CA and final extraction in support of the 1/12th, 4th Inf Div west of Dak To in connection with Operation MacArthur. They lifted 254 pax in 42 sorties. A GHOSTRIDER aircraft crashed in the vicinity of Dak To Receiving major damage to the aircraft but with negative injuries to the crew. They continued to stay available and conducted another CA and final extraction in support of the 2/503rd Abn, 173rd Abn Bge, in the vicinity of Kontum lifting 252 pax in 40 sorties. This mission was conducted with no incidents or contact.


12 January 1968: The 189th conducted a series of CA’s and extractions supporting the 3/8th and 1/8th Inf 4th Inf Div in Spaatz AO lifting 777 pax in 139 sorties. The aircraft received moderate enemy automatic weapons fire in the vicinity of Dak To. A 170th UH-1H assisted in the lift and sustained one (1) hit from small arms fire, but the crew was not injured and the aircraft continued to fly.

13 January 1968: The 189th performed a CA in support of C company 3/8th Inf 4th Inf Div southwest of Dak To. The LZ was prepped by artillery for 15 minutes prior to the seven (7) slicks and three (3) gun ships entering the area. Only sporadic small arms fire was received during the insertion.

14 January 1968: The 189th conducted multiple CA’s and extractions in support of the 1/8th and 3/12th Inf, 4th Inf Div in Spaatz AO lifting 256 pax in 43 sorties. Aircraft encountered no incidents.

18 January 1968: The 189th conducted a CA and final extraction supporting the 1/503rd Abn, 173rd Abn Bge, in the vicinity of Kontum airlifting 478 pax in 158 sorties. Not a bullet did fly.

20 January 1968: The 189th conducted a CA and extraction of the 2/503rd Abn in the vicinity of Kontum where 369 members of the unit were extracted in 62 sorties. The mission was completed without enemy contact.

23 January 1968: The 189th conducted multiple CA’s in support of the 173rd Abn Bge, in the vicinity of Polie Kleng assaulting with 380 pax in 68 sorties. The weather was clear and the insertion went off without a hitch.

24 January 1968: The 189th conducted a CA and extraction for the 1/503rd, 173rd Abn Bge, vicinity of Dak To where 173 pax in 20 sorties were pulled out and they only got shot at twice.

25 January 1968: Early in the morning, mortar rounds began falling within the area of the Unit Hooch’s and before anyone could take cover and head for the bunkers, one (1) round landed on the roof of an AVENGER hooch wounding five (5). CPT Howe took shrapnel in the stomach and CPT Bowling took shrapnel all over. They were the most critical of the group and evacuated to the 18th Evacuation Hospital. MAJ Fraker had minor fragments to the scalp and right knee. Mortar rounds continued to fall throughout Camp Holloway. After the attack the AVENGERS, both officers and enlisted personnel spent every off-duty hour digging bunkers so they could sleep underground. The AVENGERS had hot-spot duty on the first night of TET and was the first fire-team airborne taking heavy fire from lift off. The AVENGERS initially worked the East Perimeter, then were called into Pleiku City to support a CAV element that was under enemy fire, then diverted to Kontum to support the 57th AHC who were virtually over-run. TET was starting, and we did not know it. All units at Camp Holloway were alerted and told to take to the air.

25 January 1967: After completing one (1) mission, (AC) WO Brink piloted his helicopter toward Hill 943, which were just a few miles from the battle-scarred Dak To. WO Brink was searching the hill for signs of enemy mortars in the dense jungle foliage. During his second pass over the area, the AVENGER aircraft came under enemy 50-cal. automatic weapons fire. When the round struck the aircraft, “it sounded like a rocket had hit me in the tail,” WO Brink remarked later. When I looked around to check for damage, I saw “red smoke was coming from somewhere.” The round had pierced the belly of his ship and hit a red smoke grenade hanging from the radio console. Thick red smoke completely blinded the occupants of the AVENGER aircraft. WO Brink thrust his head out of the window in search of an emergency landing zone. The grenade, still burning, had lodged between the radio and its carriage. The (CE) SP4 John P. Miller grabbed the “hot” grenade and pitched it from the ship. They were able to land without any damage.

Enemy activity at area fire-bases and troop concentrations in outlying areas fell to almost nothing as TET approached. In a nationwide coordinated attack, Charlie struck every town and Provincial capital as the Vietnamese New Year arrived. The AVENGERS flew all night long responding to requests for fire support in the Pleiku and Kontum areas. As a result of one (1) mission near the Kontum airfield, the AVENGERS were credited with killing 165 NVA regulars. The GHOSTRIDERS were kept just as busy defending the Camp Holloway perimeter with door guns stripped from the slicks. They successfully repelled a sapper attack that followed one of the all to frequent mortar barrages. The spirit of the unit, as a whole, was evidenced by the fact that every person not employed elsewhere spent the night on the perimeter reinforcing the normal contingent of guards. It was through the efforts of these men and the men of other units that Camp Holloway was able to survive the 1968 TET offensive with relatively light damage.

25 January 1968 to 4 February 1968: During the TET Offensive in the Kontum Pleiku area, many men distinguished themselves by exceptionally valorous actions while serving as Aircraft Commanders, Pilots and crew members of AVENGER gunships. They displayed a vast amount of courage and daring during the battle by continually providing ground troops with direct and suppressive fire support. Their ships were hit by hostile fire on numerous occasions, but they fearlessly persisted on placing accurate and deadly fire on enemy positions. Crew members continually placed suppressive fire on areas not accessible to aircraft weapons systems. Often rearming and refueling while under mortar attack and automatic weapons fire they performed their tasks with the highest degree of professionalism and daring. Many of the personnel serving as pilots and crew members received the Air Metal with “V” device for heroism.

26 January 1968: At approximately 0230 hours, Camp Holloway came under attack. The initial attack came when sappers penetrated the 88th S&S Bn perimeter, slipping by US personnel on guard, and planted satchel charges in and around the POL area. The sappers left charges in the 88th S&S Bn Class I, II, and IV yards also on one ammunition pad. The mortar attack was initiated at 0245 hours against the 52nd CAB and the 219th Avn Co. An estimated 110 to 120, 82mm mortar rounds fell in the vicinity of the aircraft parking ramps. The attack was broken at approximately 0320 hours. Results friendly: 40 US WIA, 24 aircraft damaged, 3 major, 21 minor. VC losses: 1 KIA, 1 WIA captured by 52nd Security Detachment.

26 January 1968: The 189th AVENGER and 57th COUGAR gunships received twelve (12) hits from intense enemy automatic weapons fire while covering a SOG team that was in contact in Laos. Bullet holes were taken in the aircraft but not in the crew. All aircraft continued to fly.

28 January 1968: The 189th conducted multiple CA’s and extractions in support of the 3/8th and 1/8th Inf 4th Inf Div in Spaatz AO. They lifted 610 pax in 200 sorties. Some enemy small arms and automatic weapons fire was received but no hits sustained.

As the month of January was coming to a close, a new devastating section of the war's history was about to begin. Coming in from a long day flying the FOB II mission on the evening of 29 January, several of the 57th aircraft received fire as they came in over Kontum city on final for the Coliseum, the unit's aircraft revetment area. This was attributed to the ARVN's celebrating the arrival of TET. Throughout the night of 29 January, small arms fire could be heard from the city as streams of bright red machine gun fire brought all members of the 57th AHC out of their tents and to their battle stations. The COUGARS scrambled four (4) gun ships while slicks became airborne to provide flare support. The compound as well as Kontum city was under siege. The TET offensive had begun. When the main NVA attack came along the unit's eastern perimeter, the company poured M60 machine gun and small arm from every bunker. Neighboring Cavalry elements wheeled several tanks and APC’s in along the northern flank and opened up with murderous beehive rounds. Overhead, gun ships from the 57th COUGARS, along with the BUCCANEERS of the 170th AHC, AVENGERS of the189th AHC and CROCODILES of the 119th AHC from Pleiku made pass after pass along the perimeter spewing a hail of mini gun and 40mm grenade fire. After breaking the ground attack, they turned to the numerous mortar positions that were spotted by blazing muzzle flashes. Rolling in on these positions with 2.75 rockets brought great satisfaction to many gun pilots as numerous secondary explosions resulted from direct hits. As dawn broke on the GLADIATORS Compound and Kontum City, it appeared that the attack was over. This assumption was quickly dispelled as throughout the day the compound was subject to numerous sniper rounds. In Kontum the battle was waged from house to house. A partial police of the unit's eastern perimeter accounted for 59 enemy dead. It can easily be assumed that the actual number of enemy dead was somewhat higher. The second night of the offensive, the battle shifted to the western neighbors, MACV, Special Forces Team B24, and the 43d Signal Compound. The three (3) units occupy a square section on the northwest side of Kontum City. They came under sustained mortar and ground attack on the nights of 30 January to 2 February. At one time the NVA took two (2) bunkers on B24's perimeter. The courageous gunship crews, along with several other attack helicopter teams from Pleiku again saved the day. Two (2) gun ships remained in the air throughout each night as the GLADIATORS flare ships circled overhead providing an eerie day light brightness over all of Kontum City. The 57th compound took continual sniper fire through 4 February when the city was finally cleared and the NVA withdrew. Miraculously no members of the unit were killed, though 26 were wounded, none critically. During the six (6) day period of 30 January to 4 February, the body counts in the Kontum area reached 785 NVA troops dead.

30 January 1968: Two (2) 82mm mortar tubes of an unknown manned force attacked Camp Holloway at 0140 hours. The duration of the attack was about thirty (30) minutes during which time 20 to 30 rounds fell within the confines of Camp Holloway. The location of the enemy position was visually confirmed from the HAAF control tower and counter-mortar and AVENGER gunships were employed to neutralize the position. However, after a three- to five- minute pause, 10 to 15 additional rounds were received. The AVENGERS again engaged the enemy position with aerial rocket and mini-gun fire. Incoming rounds ceased immediately after the AVENGERS engaged them for the second time. The reaction of the AVENGERS, it is believed, caused the enemy mortars to cease fire, and spoiled a planned ground attack. Two hundred fifty (250) enemy personnel had earlier been reported in the vicinity of Camp Holloway, preparing for an attack on some installation in the area. The following morning, the same enemy element (identified as H-15 Bn) was located, taken under fire and destroyed by AVENGER and GLADIATOR gunships. 130 VC and NVA were reported killed by aircraft. The following personnel from the 189th AHC were wounded in action and treated at Camp Holloway Dispensary, then returned to duty: 1st SGT Kelly L. Alfred and SP5 Lawson Hardwick Jr. SP4 Jerald D. Smith was wounded and evacuated to the 18th Medical Evacuation Hospital. Five (5) 189th aircraft received minor damage during the attack.

30 January 1968: Having spent most of the night in a bunker or under a sandbagged bunk, CPT Hooper came into the hooch screaming, “everyone get airborne.” We grabbed our gear and headed to the flight line; we would be briefed in the air. CPT Hooper got his fire team in the air and headed out to Kontum. Upon arriving at Kontum, he sighted and immediately engaged numerous enemy machine gun and sniper positions. Both ships received several hits but continued making daring low level passes until both aircraft expended all ammo. Rearmed and airborne, the ships were directed to proceed to a suspected rocket battalion emplacement northeast of Kontum. On one firing pass, his ship was hit on the left front by a 37mm explosive round. His pilot WO Butler received multiple wounds in his left leg. WO Butler permitted evacuation only after the fire team had expended their ordinance. After braving the enemy fire and evacuating the wounded to medical aid CPT Hooper returned to Kontum with another aircraft and continued his assault on the insurgent forces. CPT Hooper received the Silver Star and WO Butler received the DFC and Purple Heart for their actions at Kontum.

31 January to 1 February 1968: The AVENGERS and other fire teams continued to engage the enemy positions, flying numerous hours and expending load after load of ammunition, both in Pleiku and Kontum.

2 February 1968: CPT Hooper distinguished himself while serving as an aircraft commander of an attack helicopter team, which was involved in an attack on an enemy battalion in the vicinity of Dak To. Ignoring the fact that three (3) other aircraft had already been shot down by the ever increasing enemy fire, CPT Hooper and his wingman WO Kreutz repeatedly placed devastating fire over the hostile positions. Due to the proximity of the friendly ground troops to the enemy positions, they made daring passes firing their rockets with extreme accuracy. On each of their heroic passes over the insurgent emplacements, they superbly directed the fire of the door gunners, which caused the enemy forces to go into a state of complete chaos. During their firing passes, AVENGER 694(Need photo) received 1 hit separating CE Shoship’s middle toe from his foot. He continued to fly for 3 more sorties before he discovered his dilemma. AVENGER 693(Need photo)  received five (5) hits; two (2) crew-members were wounded. Through the courage and personal bravery of the crew in the face of intense hostile fire, they were instrumental in the successful defeat of the enemy forces. Both CPT Hooper and WO Kreutz received the DFC for their heroic actions.

3 February 1968: Another day, another attack at the 57th AHC compound at Kontum. The AVENGERS again spent most of the night and all day defending the camp. It was like a turkey shoot. They kept coming out of the trees and the guns kept shooting. There were clerks, cooks, mechanics and everyone else available torquing rockets and the guns were averaging four (4) and five (5) ammo loads per fuel load. The 57th AHC did not have any aircraft flyable after the assault and Warrant Officers, some of whom were in the 189th, were actually leading ground patrols. Those first few days were the worst but the 57th held out with the help of the 189th.

4 February 1968: GHOSTRIDER 158 (Need photo)  received 18 hits from small arms fire in the vicinity of Kontum. One (1) crew member was WIA.

5 February 1968: The 189th continued to support missions in defense of Dak To and Kontum during the TET Offensive.

6 February 1968: 18 rounds of 122mm rocket fire and 30 to 40 rounds of 82mm mortar outside the Camp Holloway cantonment area attacked HAAF. No personnel injuries, two (2) aircraft received light damage. GHOSTRIDER 066 (Need photo) was hit by recoilless rifle fire in a LZ causing major damage to the aircraft. GHOSTRIDER 066 crashed outside the perimeter of the fire base and was under heavy fire by the enemy. One (1) crew member was WIA. GHOSTRIDER VI, MAJ. Leva, went in to rescue the downed crew. He unhesitatingly landed in close proximity to the downed aircraft and went to it to determine whether it was capable of flying out. Immediately, enemy mortars fired upon him and his crew. He continued to check the aircraft and decided that the aircraft was flyable. After directing AVENGER aircraft onto the enemy mortar positions, he waved the AC off and despite the damage by enemy fire; the downed aircraft was saved as he flew out of the area under heavy enemy small arms fire. MAJ Leva received the DFC for his heroic actions after accomplishing the mission successfully.

11 February 1968: AVENGER 693 (Need photo)  made a forced landing on highway 14 as a result of an engine failure, causing minor damage to the aircraft and no crew were injured.

14 February 1968: The 189th lifted two (2) companies of the 1/8th Inf Bn during a CA in the vicinity of Dak To without incident. A total of 12 hours and 41 sorties were flown to lift 245 pax.

16 February 1968: The 189th conducted a CA for the 1/8th Inf Bn with ten (10) GHOSTRIDERS and four (4) AVENGER aircraft. Thirty (30) hours were flown to move 250 pax in 100 sorties into a LZ in the vicinity of Dak To. Minimal ground fire was received and the operation was conducted without major incident.

18 February 1968: A LLRP consisting of nine (9) members was surrounded and called for extraction. They were operating deep inside Laos when a superior NVA unit attacked them. Air Force Tac Air bombed and strafed the area before the slicks from the 57th AHC went in for the pick up. The AVENGERS provided helicopter gunships. After the Tac Air had expended, the first slick went in and extracted half the team. The second ship, piloted by LT Richard Griffith and WO John Cook followed and picked up the remaining five (5) members. As they started out of the LZ they came under intense hostile fire. The ship burst into flames and plummeted to the ground. At this time the chase ship, piloted by WO John Herbold, descended into the area and was able to pick up LT Griffith, WO Cook, the crew chief and one (1) member of the LRRP team. The remainder of the patrol and the gunner perished in the fire. AVENGER 092 received hits in the cabin area, causing light damage to the aircraft and no injuries to the crew. WO Cook died two (2) days later of the burns he had suffered in the fire. WO Herbold was later awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his heroism. S/SGT Fred W. Zabitosky was nominated for and received the CONGRESSIONAL MEDAL OF HONOR for his heroism in this action. (His citation for the Medal is Enclosure 3).

22 February 1968: This day proved to be a true test of the 189th ability to coordinate and execute a number of CA's and final extractions. Three (3) different operations were performed with some aircraft being used on more than one mission. The first was an extraction of the 3/8th Inf Bn utilizing seven (7) GHOSTRIDERS and four (4) AVENGERS. Eighty-four (84) pax were lifted in 28 sorties the second was a final extraction of the 1/8th Inf Bn with eight (8) GHOSTRIDERS and two (2) AVENGERS. A total of twenty two (22) hours were flown to complete the operation. The third mission for the 189th was a CA for the 3/12th Inf Bn utilizing four (4) GHOSTRIDERS and two (2) AVENGERS. Two-hundred and fifty-two pax were lifted in eighty-four sorties (84). Small arms fire was received during the initial assault; however, there was no damage to aircraft or crew. All extractions and insertions took place just west of Dak To in a heavily defended area. Seems like the NVA and Viet Cong like to dig deep holes in the ground, craw in them and defend them, then we have to dig them out, not fun.

24 February 1968: AVENGER 691 (Need photo)   crashed at Old Dak To. The aircraft was a total loss. Crew was not injured.

25 February 1968: The 189th AHC picked up 342 pax from the 1/8th Inf. Bn. With nine (9) GHOSTRIDERS and two (2) AVENGERS just southwest of Kontum and relocated them northwest of Dak To. 116 sorties were flown to complete the mission.

27 February 1968: GHOSTRIDER 172  (Need photo) was hit twenty (20) times in a heavily armed area deep in enemy territory. The aircraft made a forced landing, causing moderate damage to the aircraft and two (2) crew-members were injured. GHOSTRIDER 174 had an engine failure and crashed eight (8) miles south of Ban Me Thout. The aircraft was a total loss, negative injuries to crew.

28 February 1968: The GHOSTRIDERS conducted a final extraction of the 1/12th Inf Bn six (6) GHOSTRIDERS and two (2) AVENGERS moved 110 pax in 52 sorties from YB007289 to YB007218. The operation was completed without incident.

29 February 1968: AVENGER 690 (Need photo)   received five (5) hits of enemy fire in the vicinity of ZB160050. The aircraft received light damage; one (1) crew member was WIA. A second extraction of 224 pax from the 3/8th Inf Bn from ZB 003213 to ZB140075, with six (6) GHOSTRIDERS and three (3) AVENGERS. Heavy automatic weapons fire was received in the LZ. One (1) AVENGER received several hits and one (1) crew member was wounded. Ninety seven (97) sorties were flown to complete the operation.

During the month of March the unit encountered two problems in maintaining its top-notch performance. The first was weather, and the second was during this period the Vietnamese burned their fields in preparation for the growing season. The smoke from this burning created a dense smoke which on some days reduced visibility to only two (2) or three (3) miles.

1-4 March 1968: Seems Charlie had Camp Holloway figured out and he would lob 15 to 20 rounds of 82mm mortar fire into the Camp every night. The perimeter would be reinforced and guns would fly.

3 March 1968: The 189th conducted a final extraction for the 1/8th Inf Bn From YB972267 to YB953238 with nine (9) GHOSTRIDERS and four (4) AVENGERS. 391 pax were lifted in 134 sorties. The unit was initially extracted to a fire base with further extractions to be continued by CH-47A's due to a TAC emergency crisply CH-47A's were not available and a second secure to secure lift had to be made by the GHOSTRIDERS to the final LZ.

7 March 1968: The 189th supported the 3/12th Inf Bn with eight (8) GHOSTRIDERS and four (4) AVENGERS to execute an extraction from YB857269 to YB888152. 210 pax were airlifted in 35 sorties. Automatic weapons fire was received in the LZ, but no aircraft or personnel were injured.

8 March 1968: The 189th supported the 1/8th Inf Bn with five (5) GHOSTRIDERS and two (2) AVENGER aircraft. Ninety (90) pax were airlifted from ZB00243 to ZB010219 in forty (40) sorties. Another extraction was conducted in support of the 3/12th Inf Bn utilizing five (5) GHOSTRIDER and two (2) AVENGER aircraft, forty five (45) pax and one (1) ton of cargo were airlifted from YB887289 to ZB010219, 18 sorties, were flown to complete the operation. Camp Holloway got mortared again.

11 March 1968: AVENGER 693 (Need photo) crashed and burned as a result of engine failure and was forced to land in an unimproved area in the vicinity of Kontum. The aircraft was on a combat support mission, providing fire support to a ground unit. On its way back to base, the aircraft developed a mechanical problem. The command pilot of the aircraft, CWO Elmer Lauck, was the gun platoon maintenance officer. He flew to the base of a sister unit, diagnosed the problem and decided to fly the twenty (20) miles back to Pleiku to insure that the aircraft would be available as soon as possible. Tragically, shortly after takeoff, the engine failed. The pilot attempted an auto-rotation and the aircraft stuck a wire fence that was invisible in the low light, causing the aircraft to crash. As the helicopters were in part constructed of magnesium, filled with jet fuel, and the engine was hot, the results of most crashes were a high temperature fire. The aircraft crashed onto its left side trapping the (AC) CWO Lauck, the (CE) PFC Albert Andrews and the (P) WO Ron Fish. The (G) SP4 Meade pulled himself clear and with smoke blocking his vision started to run from the aircraft. He looked back and saw he was alone. Imagine this gunner, SP4 Meade was about 5 feet tall and maybe weighed a hundred pounds. Still he raced back to the burning aircraft, grabbed the 6' 2, 180 pound bloody pilot WO Fish, tore off the shoulder harness and while his own clothing was actually smoldering, pulled the co-pilot away from the burning aircraft. Once he reached a safe distance, he dropped the bloody unconscious pilot and tried to run back to the burning aircraft when ammunition in the aircraft started exploding. He could not get close to the burning aircraft and rescue anyone else. Fortunately a passing aircraft landed and picked up the two (2) and flew them to the Pleiku field hospital. Maj. Leva landed at the crash site shortly after they were evacuated and attempted to reach the burning aircraft; however, the heat actually started melting his helmet face mask. The burning aircraft exploded. WO Elmer Lauck was prior Special Forces; he served in VN with the 5th SFG before going to flight school.

13 March 1968: This day proved to be a very busy day for the 189th two (2) CA's and two (2) extractions were performed utilizing six (6) GHOSTRIDER and three (3) AVENGER aircraft. The aircraft extracted the 1/3rd Inf. Bn from Polei Kleng to Dak Pek. Thirteen (13) sorties were flown to move thirty (30) pax without incident. Then they inserted 76 pax from the 3/8th Inf. Bn. Kontum to a LZ just west of Polei Kleng in 28 sorties. Automatic weapons fire was heavy; GHOSTRIDER 044 took seventeen (17) hits of 30-caliber fire in the vicinity Polei Kleng. The aircraft received heavy damage and one (1) crew member was WIA. Later in the day seventy-six (76) pax from the 3/8th had to be extracted from Polei Kleng back to Kontum, because of heavy weapons fire received in the LZ. Many aircraft were hit but the extraction was performed without casualties.

15 March 1968: The 189th conducted an extraction with eight (8) GHOSTRIDER and two (2) AVENGER aircraft in support of the 1/22nd Inf Bn and eighty-two (82) pax were airlifted from ZA095535 to ZA195665. The operation was completed without incident.

17 March 1968: During a command and control mission WO Brooks flying as (AC) was requested to land. While hovering in a clear area, one passenger jumped from the aircraft without permission and the aircraft shifted causing the tail rotor to strike a stump. GHOSTRIDER 628 (Need photo)  began to spin, and then crashed and burned, it was a total loss. The (CE) SP4 David L Groves was KIA. All other crew and passengers were rescued.

21 March 1968: The 189th supported the 3/8th Inf Bn during a CA with nine (9) GHOSTRIDER and four (4) AVENGER aircraft from ZA0278928, ZB000045 and ZB034036 to ZA939912. Three hundred and forty (340) pax were airlifted in 136 sorties. Enemy small arms fire was received about 200 meters north of the LZ causing only slight damage to the aircraft. Also that day AVENGER 696 sustained incident damage on take-off from HAAF refueling area.

26 March 1968: The 189th supported the 1/22nd Inf Bn with ten (10) GHOSTRIDER and three (3) AVENGER aircraft during a CA in which 192 pax were airlifted in 72 sorties from ZA065308 and ZA055357 to ZA077378. Small arms and automatic weapons fire was received in the LZ. GHOSTRIDER 162 (Need photo) received eight (8) hits from 30-caliber automatic weapons fire causing light damage to the aircraft and one (1) crew member was WIA. Later that day another CA was performed with the 3/8th Inf Bn with eleven (11) GHOSTRIDERS and five (5) AVENGERS from ZA128962 and ZA130970 to YA939913. Two hundred and sixteen (216) pax were lifted in 72 sorties.

28 March 1968: After some thought and planning the 1/22nd Inf Bn decided they needed to do a CA and extraction from ZA079375 and ZA055357 to ZA113283. Two hundred and fifty troops were airlifted in ninety (90) sorties without incident.

3 April 1968: Det. C-2/5th SFG requested two (2) CA's one (1) consisting of 170 troops from AR763503 to ZA904742 utilizing seven (7) GHOSTRIDER and two (2) AVENGER aircraft. The insertion was made in 36 sorties, during the assault enemy small arms fire was taken in the LZ only minor damage was received by the aircraft. The operation was a success. The other CA was to move 102 troops from YA31454 to YA56533 utilizing the same number of aircraft. The troops were moved in 26 sorties and it was completed without incident.

4 April 1968: HAAF, the 52nd CAB received 40 rounds of 82mm mortar fire that impacted the CH-47 parking area. Three (3) CH-47's were damaged to include other miscellaneous equipment. There were no personal injuries during the attack.

7 April 1968: The 189th supported 42nd ARVN Regt with seven (7) GHOSTRIDERS and two (2) AVENGER aircraft to extract 365 pax from ZB049156 to ZB045225. Eighty (80) sorties were flown to complete the operation without incident. The extracted unit was re-supplied and equipped at ZB045225 and the unit performed a CA to ZB045118 and ZB058124.

11 April 1968: Five (5) GHOSTRIDER and two (2) AVENGER aircraft performed an extraction of 171 pax for Det C-2/5th SFG from YA804734 to AR765498, no enemy contact was made.

12 April 1968: six (6) GHOSTRIDER and four (4) AVENGERS moved Eighty-five (85) troops for Det C-2/5th SFG from YB952683 to ZB014713. No enemy bullets were encountered.

15 April 1968: MAJ William W. Fraker assumed command of the 189th AHC.

15 April 1968: The GHOSTRIDERS supported the 2/35th Inf. Bn. On a CA with seven (7) slicks and two (2) guns moving 158 pax with 44 sorties from ZA035927 and ZA063911 to ZA155937. There were two (2) blade strikes and a busted skid during the operation. Charlie decided to not make contact that day.

19 April 1968: While serving as an (AC) on a AVENGER aircraft CWO Butler was escorting an unarmed helicopter during a mission to extract a LRRP that was in heavy contact with the enemy near Dak To. Arriving over the contact area, he encountered a heavy volume of enemy small arms and automatic weapons fire while encircling the trapped team. Continuing to engage the enemy, his murderous barrages of rocket fire caused the insurgent troops to break contact and withdraw, thus enabling the rescue helicopter to enter and depart the landing zone safely. After the evacuation helicopter safely left the area, CWO Butler returned to the scene and totally silenced the enemy with his aircraft armament systems. CWO Butler was awarded the DFC (2nd Oak Leaf Cluster).

20 April 1968: A LRRP team sighted an enemy force preparing an anti-aircraft position. While serving as team leader of an AVENGER fire team, CWO Butler located the enemy position by flying low over the area. On his first firing pass on the enemy position, he encountered heavy enemy fire. Although his aircraft received many hits, he relentlessly attacked until the enemy position was totally destroyed. The friendly patrol on the ground then informed him that they had to be extracted and he volunteered to cover the extraction helicopters, despite furious enemy fire, his attack with rocket and minigun fire insured the safe recovery of the aircraft by suppressing and diverting the enemy fire. Only after expending all the aircrafts ammunition did he retire from the fray. CWO Butler was awarded the DFC (3rd Oak Leaf Cluster).

22 April 1968: An AVENGER aircraft piloted by (AC) WO Kreutz and (P) WO Fish crashed after engine failure. All did a good job of crashing. SP4 Nelson, the gunner, got a bruised arm and no one else was hurt. The accident was the third (3) in six (6) weeks for WO Fish so MAJ Fraker made him his new Assistant Commanding Officer.

25 April 1968: A GHOSTRIDER aircraft had an engine failure WO Leary (AC) did a beautiful job and put it down without a scratch. MAJ Fraker rewarded him for his good job by being put in the AVENGER gun platoon.

26 April 1968: Another busy day for the 189th as two (2) CA's had to be performed using the same aircraft. Seven (7) GHOSTRIDER and four (4) AVENGER aircraft moved 103 troops of the 3/12th Inf Bn from ZB015216 to YB852187 in 38 sorties. Then another 103 troops from the 3/8th Inf Bn were airlifted from ZB015216 to YB882291 in 42 sorties. Both missions were completed without incident.

28 April 1968: AVENGER 263 (Need photo) was hit three (3) times with enemy small arms fire in the vicinity of FSB-16 while supporting Operation Greeley. One (1) crew member was WIA, and the aircraft received light damage.

16 May 1968: A slick from another unit crashed and burned at FSB 5 in support of Operation Greeley. Witnesses from the 189th said it was over-gross, and the crew was over-confident, and they are the luckiest six (6) people in the world. The aircraft was destroyed but the crew survived. On that same day WO Spofford, WO Ronyak and WO Martinak thought they would show all aviators at Pleiku how to make you known. So they decided to do a fly-by of Holloway AAF. Everyone thought it was neat, except MAJ Fraker.

21 May 1968: The 189th AHC had an IG Inspection. All the troops and aviators that were not flying had to stand tall and act like they knew what they were doing. It must have worked because they passed with flying colors.

25 May 1968: A and C Company 1/8th Inf were attacked from the south-southwest and west by elements of the K-4 Bn, 95C Regt. AVENGER gunships were called in to suppress enemy fire and, after heavy contact the ground force, counted 149 NVA, KIA. WO Zima shot himself in the hand with his own pistol. Not a smart thing to do.

1 June 1968: The 189th picked up the FOB-2 mission out of Kontum. GHOSTRIDER and AVENGER aircraft were committed to the 5th SFG to support insertions and extractions of LRRP teams in Laos and Cambodia with the intention of disrupting traffic on the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

10 June 1968: Dak Pek Special Forces Camp received intense enemy fire from 60 and 82mm mortars 75mm RR, and 122mm rockets. The size of the unit making the attack as well as the weapons employed in the ground attack indicate that major elements of the 2nd NVA Div had returned to Dak Pek. AVENGER gunships made pass after pass laying down intensive rocket and minigun fire in support the SF Camp.

13 June 1968: SP4 Gambone shot himself in the leg with his 30-caliber machine gun-accidentally. Totally ashamed for what he did, he would not look at MAJ Fraker when he visited him in the hospital. Fortunately it was a clean wound and he went back to the unit within a week.

13 June 1968:  Sergeant Donald L Torres was awarded the Army Commendation Medal with V Device.  For heroism in connection with military operations against a hostile force.  Sergeant Torres distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions while serving as crew chief on a helicopter engaged in the evacuation of a ground unit in contact with the enemy west of Dak To.  As the ship approached the landing zone, it received heavy automatic weapons fire.  Air strikes by Air Force aircraft failed to decrease the concentration of fire directed at the approaching helicopters.  Sergeant Torres accompanied his ship’s approach by placing accurate machine gun fire on the enemy positions.  He continued to brave the incessant hostile fire to direct the loading of the aircraft and assisted the aircraft commander by guiding his movements into and out of the landing zone.  

16 June 1968: MAJ Fraker with his great scrounging skills was able to get 20 pounds of popcorn for the Red Cross at the 71st Evacuation Hospital. It was used to cheer up injured troops staying in the hospital. The 189th was credited with the donation. They also received 2 pallets of 17 lb warhead fleshette rockets at FOB-2.

18 June 1968: (AC) WO Dillmore and (P) MAJ Fraker flew number one (1) insert ship into a LZ where no aircraft had successfully inserted a team without incident. Two (2) helicopters were shot down in previous attempts to enter the LZ. Small arms fire was received but only slight damage to aircraft and no personnel were injured. Later in the day, MAJ Fraker had his first opportunity to fire fleshette rockets in an AVENGER aircraft in support of the same mission.

25 June 1968: The GHOSTRIDERS and AVENGERS with C&C in the hands of MAJ Fraker flew all day in support of FOB-2, making one (1) extraction and two (2) insertions.

30 June 1968: This day marks 45 days without an accident under MAJ Fraker’s command. He bought champagne for his pilots to celebrate. The big spender bought 12 bottles at a cost of $1.25 a bottle, for a grand total of $15.00. At the time everyone thought it was great, until they found out how cheap he was, but to give him a break, it was probably all he had in his wallet.

6 July 1968: SP4 Robertson shot himself in the leg with his own 38-caliber pistol. Not smart.

9 July 1968: MAJ Fraker and SSG Tomessetti took a truck full of food to the orphanage at Tu Tam. They talked with Sister Gisele about a generator and a new building. MAJ Fraker was hopeful that the unit could get the materials needed to construct the building.

13 July 1968:  1st LT Uwe Lindner was flight lead for a flight of four aircraft of the 189th Assault Helicopter Company supporting the 5th Special Forces Group in an operation west of Dak To.  The unit had been called upon to make an emergency extraction of a 12 man reconnaissance team whose position had been compromised and were evading a superior enemy force that was in hot pursuit.  This mission was being controlled by a FAC on the scene that knew of the teams position and was to guide the group in.  Overhead, Air Force A1E Skyraiders were there to provide air cover if necessary and helicopter gunships of the 189th AHC flew cover and provided close support for the slicks.  The FAC preceded the flight and established an orbit over the general area of the team.  The team was spotted and the FAC started drawing enemy fire.  The A1E Skyraiders were called in and the fleeing team took cover while the Air Force brought in their ordinance on the enemy positions.  The team in its hasty withdrawal had become separated and several landing zones were necessary.  As soon as the Skyraiders withdrew, the gunships set up a protective orbit and the first ship came in for the pickup.  The landing zone was located in dense jungle and was a very confined area.  Landings were made to the ground in the most delicate of maneuvers for helicopters.  The surrounding jungle was so dense that the helicopters had to literally out their way to the ground, clearing very small foliage and cutting down the tall grass in the LZ.  In all, three separate pickups were successfully completed in different locations and all of the dispersed team members were recovered.  This was accomplished with no significant damage to the ships involved and no injuries to any of the rescued men.  Due to the highest order of determination and skill of the pilots and crews of the aircraft was this emergency terminated in the face of a superior enemy force and the most taxing of flying conditions.    Sergeant Donald Torres, Crew Chief awarded the Army Commendation Medal with ‘V’ Device. 

14 July1968: Three (3) GHOSTRIDER aircraft were called out to do an emergency extraction in Laos. Members of FOB-2 were in trouble and had to be taken out. These men, WO Wallin R Haber, WO Christain A Peterson and 1LT Daniel L Bradshaw assisted their AC's in maneuvering the ships into a small jungle clearing, cutting through dense foliage, evading enemy fire to land and allowing the ground personnel to board their ships. They directed and aided the crew members in the performance of their duties. Through their brilliant teamwork, they contributed immeasurably to the success of the mission. All three (3) received the Air Medal with “V” Device. AVENGER gunships covered the extraction.

15 July 1968: The 189th made two (2) insertions for FOB-2 in the vicinity of Dak Pek. The slicks going into the LZ received ground fire. MAJ Fraker was flying with the AVENGERS and was providing fire support with fleshette rockets. The body count was 146 NVA, KIA and zero (0) for the good guys. The boss says, “fleshette rockets are here to stay.”

5 August 1968: After 80 days without a accident, WO Dobbs and WO Bradshaw banged up GHOSTRIDER 252 (Need photo) at An Khe.

11 August 1968: MAJ Fraker and a few men from the company went to the orphanage. They took a bunch of school supplies, clothes, toys and other items. The men were close to finishing the fence around the orphanage. Slowly materials such as cement and lumber were being gathered to build the new building.

28 August 1968: (AC) 1LT Liner was maneuvering the aircraft in the LZ looking for a landing place and the aircraft had a main rotor blade strike. (P) Was WO Licina.

31 August 1968: After approach to the LZ, (AC) WO Wiles was hovering the aircraft to find a safe place to land when the main rotor struck a small tree.

1 September 1968: CWO Kreutz was (AC) of an AVENGER gunship providing aerial fire support to a LRRP team in heavy contact with a numerically superior enemy force near An Khe, Even though his aircraft was under constant hostile fire and received many hits, he remained on target and made pass after pass giving protective fire to the distraught team members allowing them to move to a defendable position. Only when his ammunition was expended did he desist. CWO Kreutz courage under fire contributed immeasurably to saving the LRRP team from certain annihilation. CWO Kreutz was awarded the DFC (First Oak Leaf Cluster) for his valorous action on the mission.

7 September 1968: The FOB-2 mission was turned over to the 57th AHC. The FOB-2 mission was to insert and extract LRRP teams in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. By October the GLADIATORS and COUGARS had completely taken over the FOB-2 mission from the GHOSTRIDERS and AVENGERS of the 189th AHC. Aircraft requirements for the mission included eight (8) slicks and four (4) gunships for FOB-2, with the remainder of the 57th AHC aircraft allocated to miscellaneous missions.

13 September 1968: WO Peterson serving as (P) on a GHOSTRIDER slick during a mission to extract a five (5) man LRRP team that were under heavy enemy fire near Duc Co. Through his alertness he initiated the successful recovery by spotting the exact location of the patrol on the ground. While flying through intense hostile fire, he directed his door gunners to fire onto enemy positions, affording the patrol the necessary cover to board the aircraft. With the entire patrol on board, he flew his ship, hit several times by small arms fire and critically leaking fuel to the 71st Evacuation Hospital. For his heroic actions WO Peterson was awarded the DFC.

15 September 1968: The 189th inserted troops of the 3/8th Inf into two (2) fire bases and later in the day one (1) company of CIDG west of Plei Mrong. MAJ Fraker flying with WO Nilmeier made two (2) LRRP insertions, a medevac and a LRRP rescue in a thunderstorm with the aide of the AVENGERS. In the middle of the night, Charlie decided to launch a few rockets and mortars into Holloway. No rest for the weary.

18 September 1968: The 7/17th CAV was supporting a GHOSTRIDER insertion of troops with gun support. They were called into place fire on the enemy and friendlies were shot, one (1) KIA and three (3) WIA with two (2) rockets. WO Nilmeier was in the LZ when it happened. Witnesses described an OH-6 shooting.

21 September 1968: GHOSTRIDER 370 (Need photo) was on take-off from the LZ at forty (40) feet and fifteen (15) knots when the aircraft was hit in the mid area by a B-40 rocket causing an in flight fire, the aircraft crashed and was destroyed. (AC) WO Brooks, (P) WO Crammey who received minor injuries were checked at 71st Evac Hospital and released. (CE) SP4 Silversmith sustained 1st and 2nd degree burns when aircraft crashed and burned. His left eye was injured and operated on at the 71st Evac Hospital. He was evacuated to Japan on 23 Sept. (G) SGT Roscoe L Prosky was KIA. Shortly after the crash of 370 (need photo), GHOSTRIDER 473  (need photo) was making an approach to drop a fire extinguisher and at 60 feet off the ground, the aircraft was hit by another B-40 rocket in the tail boom. (AC) WO Nilmeir was able to land the aircraft in a upright position. SP4 McGarity had been on the right side of the ship and received the greatest impact of the explosion since the rocket hit the aircraft just aft of the fuel cell. He was pulled out of the ship by WO Gillis. McGarity received major injuries from the explosion. He lost both of his legs from the knees down, loss of both eyes, broke both arms with nerve damage to the right arm, fragmentation wounds to head and arms. He was medevaced to Japan 25 September. WO Nilmeir received fragmentation wounds in the left calf, right foot, ankle and injury to the right eye and was transferred to Japan 24 September. WO Gillis broke his wrist and was checked out and released from 71st Evac Hospital. SP4 Taylor, from the 604th Maint Det received 1st and 2nd degree burns on his face and arms and he was evacuated to Japan on 23 September. All crew members were submitted for Silver Stars and DFC's. Kenneth McGarity, Specialist Four was awarded Air Medal (First Oak Leaf Cluster) with “V” Device; Robert E Taylor, Specialist Four (Enclosure 4 is a detailed report of the mission from XO, CPT Murray). (Enclosure 8 is a statement by Colonel Richard I. Wiles)

23 September 1968: The aircraft UH-1H 66-16531 was a medevac helicopter belonging to the 283rd Medevac Detachment in for repair to the 604th TC. The main rotor hub and one blade had been changed and some sheet metal repair completed. Two run-ups had been completed on the aircraft that morning for tracking by CWO Jesse Hill, quality control officer of the 604th TC. After the lunch hour WO Cahela approached the aircraft and pre-flighted for test flight. Six (6) people boarded the aircraft for the test flight. There were no seats or safety belts aboard the aircraft for passengers, only the pilot and copilot positions had seats and safety belts. After checking the aircraft in the hover test area for approximately five (5) minutes, WO Cahela departed Camp Holloway Airfield for the big rice paddy area approximately four (4) miles to the southeast of Holloway. Upon arrival in the area WO Cahela made an autorotation to the west, completed the autorotation and initiated a takeoff to the west. After forward speed was attained, a sharp cyclic climb was observed to an altitude of 300 or 400 feet, followed by a sharp right turn to the east. That caused all passengers to rise in the aircraft with one (1) passenger hitting the ceiling of the aircraft as it started down in an autorotation. Once forward speed was attained, WO Cahela banked the aircraft steeply to the right; a bank followed the right bank immediately to the left, very steep, probably in excess of 60 degrees. It was during the left bank that one (1) passenger observed the main rotor blade strike the ground. When the main rotor struck the ground the main rotor blade snapped and caused severe mast bumping, separating the rotor head and remaining portion of rotor blades from the aircraft at an unknown point during the crash sequence. The main rotor head with remaining portions of the rotor blades came to rest six (6) feet past the junction of four (4) dikes. The ship exploded during the crash and fire consumed the aircraft. Except for the main rotor blades and hub, all major components of the aircraft were at the crash location. (P) WO Gerald Cahela, (CE) PFC John M White, and passenger SP5 Jack Sizemore Sr, were all KIA. Passengers D R Chrisman, E4 W L Badley, E4 B Hauer were injured.

3 October 1968: Major Robert N Morrison assumed command of the 189th AHC.

2 November 1968: AVENGER 244 (need photo) was in close support of an insertion when it took one (1) hit of automatic weapons fire through the main rotor blade. The aircraft continued and accomplished its mission.

5 November 1968: The 189th GHOSTRIDERS and AVENGERS performed an insertion south of Duc Co for the ARVNS under II Corps Command. During the insertion, extensive enemy small weapons and anti-aircraft fire was encountered at the LZ. Crewmembers from the slicks and gunships displayed tremendous bravery because of the amount of weapons fire being received, by staying on station until all ARVN troops were inserted. The following crewmembers were awarded the Declaration of Merit before II Corps for the Cross of Gallantry with Gold Star. 1LT Charles T. Daily, 1LT Stanley B. Albrecht, WO Odis J. Lambright, WO Terry G. Opdahl, 1LT Curtis C. Parsons, WO James T. Hattan, WO Brent L. Hanawalt, WO Thomas L. Locke, SSG James L. Smith, SP5 Jose Martinez Jr, SP5 Gilbert Carrillo, and PFC Louis T. Frye.

6 November 1968: While returning from an insertion of a LRRP, (AC) WO Cranney and (P) Stasiewski were notified that another LRRP team was in contact with a superior enemy force and had to be extracted at once. WO Cranney headed for the location just SW of the Oasis, a 4th Div FSB twenty (20) miles SW of Pleiku. When WO Cranney's aircraft arrived at the site AVENGER gunships were already on station giving the LRRP team heavy fire support. WO Cranney was in contact with the team on the ground and told them he was going into the LZ. He also instructed his (G) SP4 Ciosielski, and (CE) SP4 Roach to suppress the enemy fire with M-60 machine guns. While the team was boarding the aircraft, the ship received small arms fire. The door gunner brought the hostile fire to a halt when he got a confirmed kill on a NVA soldier who exposed himself for a better firing position. Due to the courage and teamwork of the AVENGER crew the LRRP team was returned safely home with a wealth of war stories. Later that day LT Hedrick was piloting GHOSTRIDER 153 and landed near a CONEX container to off-load flares. As aircraft picked up to a hover the CONEX door swung into tail stinger and caused tail rotor to hit Conex container.

13 November 1968: The 52nd CAB conducted a Battalion size CA and FSB move in support of the1/8th Inf, 4th Inf Div, in Spaatz AO. The aircraft, twenty-four (24) UH-1H slicks, four (4) UH-1C gunships, and nine (9) CH-47A Chinooks were used to move 550 pax and 143 tons of cargo in 437 sorties. Fog and enemy automatic weapons fire delayed the lift for one (1) hour. One (1) UH-1H slick was hit with an enemy B-40 rocket and destroyed. All crewmembers were WIA and medevaced. Late into the night Camp Holloway received twenty (20) rounds of 122mm rockets. There were four (4) US WIA, 1 UH-1D helicopters destroyed, three (3) CH-54's with light damage, eight (8) UH-1H's with moderate damage, two (2) UH-1H's with light damage and numerous buildings with varying amounts of damage.

15 November 1968: On an insertion of a 4th Div LRRP west of Duc Co, GHOSTRIDER 22 piloted by 1LT Phillip Ahneman, received an emergency call from a downed Birddog of the 219th Aviation Company, call sign HEADHUNTERS. The HEADHUNTERS had experienced an engine failure and were forced to ditch the aircraft in the only suitable open space, a soft river bottom. The ever-present threat of Charlie turned what would have normally been a routine forced landing into a race for safety. 1LT Ahneman and his crew, 1LT Robert Acklen, SP5 Joseph Meeks and SP4 Tony Gambone, immediately recognized the problem and made a quick change from the role of CA helicopter to that of a medevac helicopter. They picked up the pilot and his observer from the river, a little wet and shaken but very grateful.

16 November 1968: The 189th airlifted an eight (8) company CA near Duc Co in western Pleiku Province.

18 November 1968: The 189th extracted five (5) companies from Duc Co AO. That evening Camp Holloway received three (3) 122mm rockets with negative casualties or damage.

20 November 1968: The 189th inserted six (6) companies into hostile positions in Pleiku Province. During the insertion GHOSTRIDER 175 experienced complete loss of anti-torque control and began a turn to the right. Aircraft would not streamline and continued right turns, completing five (5) revolutions. The (AC) entered autorotation, and it settled into a small clearing. The accident was caused when the number two (2) tail rotor drive shaft hanger bearing failed.

22 November 1968: An AVENGER gunship received four (4) hits from heavy automatic weapons fire in Laos. One (1) crewmember was WIA, the aircraft continued to fly.

4 December 1968: A 189th AVENGER fire team supporting a CIDG team received credit for nine (9) NVA killed by air.

13 December 1968: AVENGER gunships destroyed four (4) sampans on the Ya Krong Bolah River.

16 December 1968: GHOSTRIDER 153 (need photo) was being flown by (AC) 1LT Ahneman and (P) WO Swanson, crewmembers were (CE) SP4 Ledbetter and (G) Weeks with six (6) passengers on board. The aircraft was at a one (1) foot hover over a cement pad prior to landing, the aircraft started a turn to the right. With full left pedal applied the aircraft continued to turn to the right. The (AC) performed a autorotation to get the aircraft on the ground then hit the pad, bounced into the air and rolled over coming to rest on its left side. A small fire was started and quickly extinguished by the ground crew. After all crew and passengers were clear of the wreckage, the (CE) returned to the aircraft to turn off all switches to kill the engine. The crew suffered minor injuries and the passengers were unhurt. It was determined that the flex coupling in the tail rotor drive shaft failed.

17 December 1968  (See Enclosure 9 for awards)

18 December 1968: AVENGER 234  (need photo)  was on a CA making a gun run on a enemy position when it received one (1) round of small arms fire through the windshield into the cockpit. No crewmembers were injured.

19 December 1968: 1LT Speer served as pilot on an AVENGER gunship in support of a friendly force that was completely surrounded and out numbered. 1LT Speer put deadly and accurate minigun fire within thirty (30) meters of the friendly positions. Although receiving heavy enemy fire on each firing pass and taking numerous hits in the aircraft and two (2) crew members wounded, he continued to over fly enemy weapons positions and thereby drew fire away from the beleaguered force and permitted them to escape from their extremely perilous situation. 1LT James D Speer was awarded the DFC for his heroic actions on the mission.

24 December 1968: The 57th AHC, 170th AHC and the 189th AHC air assaulted two (2) Battalions into VC Valley, forty (40) km ESE of Pleiku.

25 December 1968: A few missions were flown out to FSB's to give the grunts a decent meal for Christmas. The Chaplain went along with the turkey and mashed potatoes to bring a little bit of peace into their lives even if it was only for a short while. Christmas day was pretty much a quiet time for everyone who all wanted to be home with family and friends. Commanders tried to do their best, but they were too ugly to fill the gap.

31 December 1968: With the year coming to an end everyone was sitting around trying to figure out how to bring in the New Year. It was decided that because there were no fireworks, they would have to improvise. Just as they were finalizing the evening’s entertainment, the 52nd CAG Commander put out the word that no weapons firing would take place at mid-night. What a bummer! The bunkers were manned mostly by helicopter crew members, which meant that each bunker had two (2) machine guns. As mid-night drew closer, trigger fingers got itchier. At mid-night the entire bunker complex opened up with machine gun fire. The AVENGERS were watching the show when one (1) of the pilots set off a pen flare. Everyone was engrossed in the fireworks and did not notice the Bn Commander standing twenty (20) feet from the hooch. With so much stuff going on, he just shook his head and let things happen. Great show. Beer was raised to bring in the New Year because it was bubbly and champagne was not available.


1969 History