PREFACE

 

 

The history of the 189th Assault Helicopter Company for the years 1966

 Through 1971 has been written so that the officers and enlisted men of the

189th can be recognized for their outstanding work, esprit de corps, and

       dedication to their country during their tour of duty in the Republic of Vietnam.

 

 

  

 

PURPOSE

 

 

The purpose of this history is to outline the events that occurred in the 189th Assault Helicopter Company during the calendar years 1966 through 1971.  It is intended to give as accurate and factual account as possible of the fine officers and enlisted men, its equipment, as well as a concise picture of the combat operations in-which the unit participated.  Many accounts were researched through the National Archives, Texas State University, the VHPA, and information collected from members of the unit. This history in not complete, it is a work in progress, but it as accurate as can be from the information gathered.  The more feedback we get the more accurate the history. 

 

This history is a collection of actions that took place in the 189th Assault Helicopter Company both on and off the battlefield.

 

 

  

 

                  COMMAND AND CONTROL

 

 

 

The unit history would be incomplete if the officers and men of the 189th Assault Helicopter Company failed to pay tribute to their commanders who played the major role in developing and maintaining the unit's high standard of professionalism, “esprit de corps” and noted combat effectiveness.

 

Through their professional competence, thorough knowledge, exceptional leadership and loyalty to their men, they succeeded in building a foundation that formed one of the finest fighting units in the Republic of Vietnam and in the United States Army.

 

Even today the men of the 189th Assault Helicopter Company would like to express their appreciation for their outstanding leadership, personal concern and invaluable guidance they provided while serving as Company Commanders.

 

 The following were Company Commanders of the GHOSTRIDERS and AVENGERS

 

1 November 1966      1 December 1966          Captain Victor Hamilton

1 December 1966      21 Decwmbwe 1966      Major Robert T Bagley

21 December 1966     1 July 1967                    Major John J Webster

 1 July 1967                 2 January 1968              Major Bobby L Sanders

2 January 1968           15 April 68                    Major Neil I Leva

15 April 1968             3 October 1968             Major William W Fraker

3 October 1968          22 April 1969                Major Robert N Morrison

 22 April 1969             28 Sep 69                      Major Richard L Lincoln

8 September 1969      6 March 1970                Major John P Ratliff

6 March 1970            11 November 1970        Major George A Morgan

 

 

Respectfully

Brothers Forever

The GHOSTRIDERS and AVENGERS

 

 

 

 

Organization of the 189th AHC

Constituted 23 September 1942 in the Army of the United States as the 2027th Quartermaster Truck Company, Aviation.

Activated 5 October 1942 at Lockbourne Army Air Base, Ohio.

Inactivated 20 February 1946 in the Philippine Islands.

Converted and re-designated 1 August 1946 as the 2027th Transportation Company (Aviation).

Re-designated 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, Vietnam.

The 189th was just one (1) 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 Battalions.

Inactivated 15 March 1971 in Vietnam.

Assigned 19 February 1986 to the 3d Armored Division and activated in Germany.

Inactivated 16 July 1987 in Germany.

 

 

 

189th Campaign Participate

World War

New Guinea

Leyte

Vietnam

Counteroffensive, Phase II

Counteroffensive, Phase III

Tet Counteroffensive

Counteroffensive, Phase IV

Counteroffensive, Phase V

Counteroffensive, Phase VI

Tet 69/Counteroffensive

Summer-Fall 1969

Winter-Spring 1970

Sanctuary Counteroffensive

Counteroffensive, Phase VII

Philippine Presidential Unit Citation, Streamer embroidered 17 October 1944 to 4 July 1945.

Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm, Streamer embroidered Vietnam 1967-1968.

Presidential Unit Citation, October 29, 1967 to 30 November 1967. DA GO 38 Dated 20 July 1971

Republic of Vietnam Civil Action Honor Medal, First Class, Streamer embroidered Vietnam 1970


The 189th Aviation Company History

1966 – 1967

1966

The 189th Aviation Company (AML) was activated by Department of the Army with Fifth Army General Order 236, dated 19 September 1966, to take effect on 1 November 1966 at Fort Carson, Colorado. Shortly before Thanksgiving, the U.S. Army began assembling a group of aviators, crew members and support personnel at Ft. Carson, Colorado. The mountainous area around Ft. Carson, it was hoped, would give the aviators and crews a certain degree of training in mountain flying before being deployed to its ultimate destination, the Central Highlands, Republic of Vietnam. 

1 November 1966: Captain Victor Hamilton, Infantry, commanded and organized 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 assumed command. Under his guidance, request for additional equipment was submitted. A training program was established, the airfield operations elements were established, and unit training began.

 

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 604th Maintenance Detachment, the 519th Medical Detachment and the 6th Signal Detachment provided the unit additional support. Under TO&E 1-77G, the 189th was to prepare for deployment on a date yet undisclosed. Being one of the first Army units to receive the new UH-IH Huey, the area was also ideal for testing the new H Model at mountainous elevations. Sister companies, the 187th & 188th were also forming and receiving H models at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky during the same time period. 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. The first week dealt primarily with basic required subjects such as Code of Conduct, Geneva Convention, etc. The next few months or so were spent doing supply actions since the unit was to deploy with full organic equipment. Each day began with physical training capped with an increasingly longer run around post. When the morning Colorado temperature dropped below 28 degrees Fahrenheit, physical training was suspended.

 

17 December 1966: The Christmas Holidays began, and all formal training ceased for two weeks.

 

The initial pilots of the 189th were an odd lot with seven fixed- & rotary- wing rated Majors assigned to the unit. Many of the Majors in the unit were primarily “old” fixed-wing drivers and were not particularly overjoyed with the idea of going to Vietnam with a helicopter outfit. The remaining aviators, both lieutenants and warrant officers, were fresh out of flight school. While lacking maturity and flight experience, they were an enthusiastic and gung-ho group. Only three personnel, two (2) Warrant Officers and a crew chief had seen prior service in Vietnam.

 

21 December 1966: Major John J. Webster, TC assumed command of the Company. During the remainder of 1966, the unit was primarily involved with aircraft checkouts required for aviators in the UH-IC and UH-IH

.

After the Christmas holidays, training became serious under ATP 1-77G and continued until April 1967.

 

1967

 

1 January 1967: The following personnel filled the key positions within the Company:

 

Commanding Officer: Major John Webster

Executive Officer: Major Robert T. Bagley

First Sergeant: 1SGT Kelly Alfred

Operations Officer: Major Richard V. Coulter

Intelligence Officer: Major Jesse E. Stewart

First Airlift Platoon Leader: Captain Jack W. Blien

Second Airlift Platoon Leader: Major Albert H. Kraph

Gun Platoon Leader: Captain Pinckney C. Cochran

Service Platoon Leader: Captain Wilbur R. Mixer

 

The associated detachments and their initial commanders were:

 

604th Maintenance Detachment: Major Richard D. Caldwell

519th Medical Detachment: WOI Daniel J. Bainey

6th Signal Detachment: 2d Lt. James R. Conley

 

3 January 1967: Scheduled training resumed and, in preparation for deployment, the unit began a series of field exercises the first week of 1967. Although the snow and ice posed many problems, the improved engines in the UH-IH performed magnificently. As part of the exercise, the gun platoon was conducting its weapons training and learning about the ways of war and survival. The first week of the New Year was devoted to basic required subjects.

 

11 January 1967: Formal flight training began at section and platoon levels encompassing such subjects as Navigation, Instrument Proficiency, Night and Formation Flying, Flying with Loads, Gunship Tactics and Air mobile Operations.

 

20 January 1967: The first company-sized Air Mobile Operation was conducted and three (3) more followed prior to the Field Training Exercise (FTX) portion of unit training.

 

31 January 1967 – 6 February 1967: During this time, the gun platoon conducted its weapons training, gunnery trained in 7.62 systems and all gunnery personnel were qualified in the XM-21 and XM-23 systems.

 

7-9 February 1967: The unit was in the field for the first time where emphasis on operation of a tactical landing area, security of the area, operational reaction time, resupply, medical evacuation, and section and platoon-sized Air Mobile Operations with armed escort took place.

 

14-16 February 1967: During these field operations, further emphasis was placed on last week’s operation; however, reducing mission reaction time was stressed.

 

20 February 1967: The 189th was in the field for a five-(5) day exercise and provided aviation support to the 2/llth Infantry in its Advanced Infantry Training (AIT) cycle with emphasis on platoon and company-sized operations, resupply, medical evacuation and a night move all in preparation for the forthcoming Army Training Test (ATT) cycle. The unit was observed throughout the operation by ranking personnel who seemed pleased with the unit’s progress, and, even though the unit was testing the new aircraft during Colorado’s winter, they felt sure that the added power of the H model would perform just as effectively in the real test which lay ahead in the hot jungle of Vietnam.

 

During the same period, the Gun Platoon participated in the firing of the 2.75 Rocket Systems 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 testing.

 

After completion of the ATT, the 189th Aviation Company (AML) began preparations for its overseas assignment. The unit was notified of over-seas redeployment by the 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 inspection.

 

The arduous task of loading several hundred CONEX containers was assigned to the troops with Major Albert Kraph and 1LT Stephen Schmidt supervising as Movements Officers. Every CONEX had to have specific markings and a manifest detailing its contents. This was complicated somewhat by the unit’s determination to circumvent regular supply channels and commandeer as much station property from Ft. Carson as possible. Who was to know what lie ahead? Vehicles were prepared and loaded aboard trains for shipment to the point of debarkation.

 

16 March 1967: The Gun Platoon departed Fort Carson with eight (8) UH-IC’s and headed for Sharp Army Depot in Stockton CA. 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. On the morning of the 18th, they were flying low level skimming above the desert at about 50 feet when one of the AVENGERS looked up and saw a small camper trailer parked in the middle of nowhere. It was determined that they all would fly by to check it out. As the flight approached the trailer, a person could be seen sleeping on the roof in a lounge chair. Suddenly, eight (8) helicopters flew over him at about 50 feet with the last copter reporting him on the ground heading toward a huge cactus with brown spots in his shorts. Many fun things took place on the trip, but this was the highlight. The transfer of “C” Models was completed upon arrival, 18 March 1967 at Sharp Army Depot, Stockton, California.

 

28 March 1967: Additional movement instructions were received, and 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 1967: Requirements for the advance party were partially finalized, and the number in the party was limited to five Officers and included:

 

Major Richard V. Coulter, Operations and OIC

Major Jesse E. Stewart, Training and Intelligence

Captain Ernest R. Bowling, Communications

Captain Phillip Ashley, Maintenance

Captain Darrell Waite, Supply

 

21 April 1967: The advance party was alerted and departed Fort Carson at 0620 hours on 23 April. The party arrived and departed from Travis Air Force Base that same day for Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam. Arrival time at Cam Ranh Bay was 0500 hours, 25 April. From there, the advance part was processed through the 17th Aviation Group and finally arrived at its new station, Pleiku, Vietnam on 27 April. The unit was assigned to the 52nd Combat Aviation Battalion and was redesignated as the 189th Assault Helicopter Company, APO San Francisco 96318.

 

As the end of April approached and with the final shipment of the units equipment, the men were given their last leave and told to report back by 1 May for deployment to the Republic of Vietnam.

 

3 May 1967: The unit was broken into contingents and began departing via U.S. Air Force C-141 Starlifters. while enroute to Pleiku AFB, Vietnam. Intermediate stops at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska and Yokoda, Japan were made. The sweltering heat of Pleiku was indeed a change from the cold mountain air and recent snow of Colorado..

 

With May being late in the dry season, the unit had a few days to move into Camp Holloway to set up tents before the monsoon season. Having evolved into the 189th Assault Helicopter Company upon arrival in Vietnam, the unit was assigned to the 52nd Combat Aviation Battalion.

 

The unit’s location was a bare piece of ground alongside the runway as a permanent bivouac area. Because the assigned area lay outside of the Battalion’s perimeter, the first order of business was to extend barbed wire to encompass the unit’s new home. Tents were erected and sandbagged by officers and enlisted personnel who shared equally in the backbreaking task of filling sand bags with the red clay of Pleiku. Revetments for the slicks were built of perforated steel planking (PSP), soil and sandbags. The aviators alternated days working on construction and days flying as copilots with sister companies in order to learn the area around Pleiku and to gain some experience flying in a combat environment.

 

The remainder of the body arrived at the new location on the 6th and 7th . Shortly thereafter, the TO&E equipment, less aircraft, arrived. Finally, the 189th neared an operational readiness goal.

 

22 May 1967: The unit’s helicopters arrived at the Port of Vung Tau, a coastal city in II Corps and also an in country R&R site. Much excitement accompanied the crews fortunate enough to RON at the old French hotel, sample the local Bier 33 and consort for the first time with the local Vietnamese bar girls. It was a welcome respite from the heat and red dust of Pleiku. Vung Tau was relatively peaceful at the time and the rule was that no side arms be openly displayed while out on the town. Being new in the country, most of the 189th troops elected to go out armed, but concealed, rather than surrender their newly issued Smith & Wesson revolvers. Wanting to depart Vung Tau with the proper amount of flourish, the unit’s first real in-country flight was in full company formation flight from Vung Tau up the coast to Cam Ranh Bay, Qui Nhon and thence inland over Route 19 through the An Khe and MingYang passes to Pleiku. A full-scale flyby at Camp Holloway was made to announce the presence of a brash new kid on the block to both local VC and sister companies.

 

Today, the first ten (10) aircraft arrived followed by eleven (11) more H models and six (6) UH-IC’s the next day. Two (2) more H models arrived on the 24th. The remaining two (2) UH-IC’s were scheduled to arrive 25 May 1967.

 

With the arrival of equipment and personnel, the company was given an operational readiness date of 15 June 1967. Operational requirements demanded that the transition be made as quickly as possible into a full-scale combat flying unit. It is significant to note that both the aircraft commanders and pilots of most crews had very little, if any, combat experience, yet they went directly into flying operational missions.

 

27 May 1967: UH-IH, 66-1065 (Need photo)crashed in the ocean and aircraft caught fire while on a courier and resupply mission. WO Herbert A. Ripka, was the unit’s first in-country fatality. Although he was initially reported missing in the over water accident, three (3) days later his body washed ashore, and he was pronounced dead from drowning.

 

1 June 1967: The first DEROS took place in the 189th and, as a result, new personnel assumed key positions as follows:

 

Intelligence Officer: .............................Captain Michael Howe

1st Airlift Platoon Commander: ............Captain Eugene Malcoff

2nd Airlift Platoon Commander: ...........Captain Darrell Waite

Gun Platoon Commander: .................. Captain Rupert Bowling

 

During the first part of June, the 189th Assault Helicopter Company was assigned radio call signs. The gun ship pilots with their usual hefty amount of bravado decided to seek their combat fortunes using the call sign ‘AVENGERS’ Their platoon patch would feature the grim reaper holding a scythe on top of a coffin. The slick pilots followed the theme by selecting ‘GHOST RIDER’ as their call sign which was characterized by a patch featuring a ghost armed with a .30 caliber machine gun alongside a slick. It then followed logically, to name the revetment area, where the slicks parked their aircraft, the ‘GRAVEYARD’. The gun platoons C (Charlie) model gun ships were unable to park there. When fully loaded with ammunition, the Charlie models were not able to hover high enough to clear the barbed wire apron that surrounded the ‘GRAVEYARD’. Instead the Charlie models were kept in an area easily accessible to the runway and this area became known as the ‘ARSENAL’.

 

The First and Second Airlift Platoons had their own distinctive patches. The First Airlift was known as “Silver Flight” and their patch was a blue lightning bolt with silver lettering “SILVER FLIGHT 1st A/L”. The Second Airlift was known as “Scarlet Flight” with the same lightning bolt shape but red in color with white lettering “SCARLET FLIGHT 2nd AL”. Their patches represented the swift and sudden striking force of lightning which aptly defined the job of the lift platoons to “get in and out quickly”.

 

The Maintenance Platoon also adopted their unique patch and call sign “CARETAKER”. Its patch depicted the powerful Condor on top of a mountain keeping vigil over its young one which, in this case, was a UH-1H helicopter. The patch implies the care of the Condor even though it can be one of the fiercest fighters in the sky.

 

15 June 1967: The 189th AHC became operational, combat training was completed and the company assumed its place as a combat- ready unit in the 52nd CAB. The 189th AHC was placed in direct support of the 4th Infantry Division.   Mission assignments consisted of C&C, resupply, and combat assaults.

 

To prevent a major reorganization of the unit when the original members returned to the states after their one-year tour ended, pilots with varying DEROS dates were infused from other units. To make up for these newer members, some of the original men were transferred out to other units.

 

Mission: The mission of the 189th AHC was to provide tactical air movement of combat troops in air mobile operations, tactical air movement of combat supplies and equipment within the combat zone, combat assault support to combat troops, medical evacuations, reconnaissance, command and control, liaison, and logistics and administration missions.

 

Terrain: The II Corps Tactical Zone, where Pleiku is located and where 189th AHC rendered the majority of its support, covered an area of 32,725 square miles or 49% of the land area of South Vietnam. Its western border is 342 miles long and in common with Laos and Cambodia. The eastern border is approximately 400 miles of coastline bordering on the South China Sea. The area is 40 miles wide in the north and 142 miles wide in the south. The area is politically divided into the provinces of Kontum, Binh Dinh, Pleiku, Phu Bon, and Phy Yen in the 22nd ARVN Divisional Tactical Zone, and Darlac, Kanh Hoa, Quang Duc, Tuyen Duc, Nunh Thuan, Lam Dong, and Binh Thuan in the 23rd ARVN Divisional Tactical Zone. Geographically, this area may be divided into three (3) major areas:

 

Coastal Plain

 

The coastal plain is the narrow strip of long, flat and often marshy terrain not more than twenty (20) miles wide from the sea island. This area is formed by a series of numerous river deltas interrupted by rocky ridge lines running steeply to the sea. It is almost entirely under cultivation with four (4) rice crops a year.

 

         Mountain Region

 

The mountain region extends from north to south almost the entire length of the II Corps Tactical Zone. Elevations range from 3,000 to 8,000 feet with the eastern slopes quite steep and the western slopes more gradual. Rain forests cover three quarters of this area with most of the remainder covered with open, deciduous growth. Cultivation is limited to small cleared areas on relatively flat lands. Flying in this area is very hazardous with forced landing areas practically non-existent, ceilings frequently very low and unpredictable winds,

 

Plateau Region

 

The plateau region is located west of the mountains and is comprised of the Kontum Plateau in the north and the Darlac Plateau in the south. This region has altitudes ranging from 1,000 to 3,000 feet with gently rolling hills and much open area. Where the soil is not under cultivation, a thick growth of eight to ten foot grass covers the ground. Where adequate drainage is provided, this area will support four vegetable crops yearly.

 

The principal cities of these regions are Pan Thieu, Pan Rang, Ha Rang, and Sui Hen are on the coastal plain; Dalt in the mountains, and Ban Me Thu et, Pleiku and Kontum in the plateaus. The major routes of this area are:

 

Route #1 Saigon – Dan Nan (coastal route)

Route #11 Dalt – Pan Rang

Route #14 Saigon – Ban Me Thule – Pleiku – Kontum

Route #19 Pleiku – Sui Nhon

Route #20 Saigon – Dalt

Route #21 Ban Me Thule – Ha Rang

 

The Republic’s major rail line parallels Route #1 along its entire length with one spur line from Phan Rang to Dalat. The logistical and communication complex at Cam Ranh Bay is located between Pan Rang and Ha Rang

 

Weather: Weather throughout the area can be divided into the summer monsoons(June through September) and the winter monsoons (November through April) with the months of May and October as periods of transition. During the summer monsoons, the wind is southwesterly causing cloud buildups on the western slopes of the mountains. This results in a rainy season for the plateaus and mountain regions during the summer months while the coastal provinces have clear skies and good flying weather. The winter monsoons bring a northeasterly flow with the conditions reversed. The coastal provinces of Binh Thuan and Nhin Thuan are not affected by either monsoon seasons and have generally clear weather year round. Average rainfall in the mountain and plateau region is 92 inches; on the coastal plain 87 inches. The temperature on the coastal plain ranges from the mid 70’s to the high 80’s during the rainy season and low 80’s to high 90’s during the dry season. The mountains and plateaus experience temperatures from the mid 50’s to mid 80’s during the wet season and low 60’s to 90 plus during the dry season. Winds are normally gusty at 10 – 15 knots with velocity increasing with altitude. In the Kontum, Pleiku area, surface winds of 25 – 45 knots were common in the fall

 

For the most part, flying conditions due to weather and terrain were unfavorable for the majority of the year in this area. Due to the combination of monsoon, heat, dust, dense jungle, altitudes and density altitude, it is easy to see why the II Corps Tactical Zone gained the reputation for being an aviator’s nightmare.

 

The first series of operations that the 189th participated in supported the 1st Bge 4th Inf Div based in the school house of the abandoned hamlet of LeThan or better known to the Americans as Jackson Hole. Jackson Hole lies west of the Cateeka Tea Plantation and was very near to the Cambodian border.

 

Single ship hover hole landing zones (LZ’S) as well as the use of McGuire rigs were encountered for the first time. Long Range Recon Patrol (LRRP) insertions and extractions, medical evacuations and occasional hostile fire all provided necessary learning situations for the still unseasoned 189th pilots.

 

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 Cavalry Division northeast of Kontum where one (1) small arms round hit the aircraft in its tail section.  Aircraft was flown by WO Tom Mealy.

http://189thahc.org/bullethole.jpg

 

10 July 1967: Hill 830 is approximately 14 kilometers from the Cambodian Border and sits astride a major exit from the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The 4th Bn 503rd Inf of the 173rd Abn engaged a large, well dug-in NVA force. AVENGER guns supported the operation in a fierce two- (2) day battle. The BN suffered 24 KIA and 62 WIA, and they found a total of nine (9) NVA dead after the battle.

http://189thahc.org/Avenger_Gunship.jpg

 

13 July 1967: While in support of the 4th Inf Div in the vicinity of Due Co, the ground troops made contact with a superior force and were in desperate need of support. CPT. Hooper flying AVENGER 691 served as team leader of a fire team which arrived in the area and immediately directed and applied suppressive fire on the enemy positions and forced the enemy to break contact with the friendly forces. While his wingman AVENGER 693 provided suppressive fire, CPT. Hooper went into a small landing zone to evacuate a seriously wounded soldier. The AVENGERS claimed the first enemy kills of the company. One (1) NVA, KIA was confirmed and an estimated thirty (30) NVA KIA were unconfirmed. CPT. Lynn C. Hooper was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) for his part in the action.

 

17 July 1967: MAJ. Robert Bagley, the Executive Officer, was reassigned to IFFV. CPT. Michael Howe assumed the Executive Officer position and LT Lonnie Welch replaced CPT. Howe as the Intelligence Officer.

 

30 July 1967: CPT. Lynn Hooper assumed command of the Gun Platoon, replacing CPT. Ernest R. Bowling.

Cpt Bowling

 

31 July 1967: While in support of the 4th Inf Div GHOSTRIDER 529 (Need photo) crashed and burned approximately ten (10) miles southwest of Camp Holloway. Killed in the accident were WO Arnold 0. Nakkerud (AC), WO Glen Shropshire (P), and SP4 Donald W. Hart (G). The (CE) PFC Robert E. Keyes stated that the aircraft inadvertently went IFR during a low level pass and struck a tree in a descending left turn attempting to return to VFR conditions PFC Robert E. Keyes was seriously injured and evacuated to the 18th Surgical Hospital.

 

3 August 1967: In the morning, a CIDG company made contact with two (2) NVA companies one (1) km west of Dak Seang. A relief force also found itself under an attack which lasted until early afternoon. Almost every night during the last half of July, both Dak Seang and Dak Pek had been pounded by mortar, rocket and RR fire.

 

4 August 1967: As a result of the fighting on 3 August, the ARVN 42d Regt and two (2) ARVN airborne battalions moved in to reinforce Dak Seang. The 189th airlifted the 1/503rd Abn Bn of the 173rd Abn out of the jungle near Hill 830 and inserted them at Dak Pek. The 189th also conducted a CA for 5th SFG in the vicinity of Buon Ho. They inserted 177 pax in 168 sorties. The assault was conducted with no incidents and negative contact.

 

6 August 1967: 189th conducted a CA for 3/8th Inf 4th Inf Div in Francis Marion they moved 450 pax in 327 sorties. The assault was conducted with no incidents and negative contact.

 

7 August 1967: 189th conducted a CA for 3/8th Inf 4th Inf Div in support of Francis Marion moving 410 pax in 218 sorties. The assault was conducted with no incidents and negative contact.

 

10 August 1967: GHOSTRIDER 169 (Need photo) was completely destroyed by fire at Hensel AAF. There were no injuries as all crew members were out of the aircraft at the time. Aircraft 169 was shut down while being loaded with CS grenades which were dropped causing several to ignite catching the aircraft on fire.

 

11 August 1967: AVENGER 552 (need photo) flying at 1000 feet and seventy (70) knots, received small arms fire in the cockpit and main rotor blade. One (1) person on board was not seriously wounded and the aircraft continued to fly.

 

13 August 1967: Two (2) 189th gun ships received three (3) hits from automatic weapons fire in support of Francis Marion. No injuries were encountered and aircraft continued to fly.

 

17 August 1967: The 189th conducted a CA for 3/8th Inf 4th Inf Div in Francis Marion moving 267 pax in 81 sorties. The assault was conducted with no incidents and negative contact.

 

The 189th responded to a tactical emergency call from the 24th STZ (5th SFG), requesting six (6) GHOSTRIDER and two (2) AVENGER helicopters in the vicinity of Dak To. The mission was not accomplished due to weather and darkness and, luckily, the ground unit was no longer in enemy contact.

 

18 August 1967: The 189th conducted two (2) extractions for Co B, SFG in the vicinity of Dak To moving 247 pax in 138 sorties. One of the extractions was for the 24th STZ that was requested the night before. They also conducted a final extraction for 1/8th Inf 4th Inf Div in support of Francis Marion, 267 pax in 81 sorties were moved. Both missions were accomplished without any incidents.

 

25 August 1967: GHOSTRIDER 172 (need photo)  made a forced landing approximately ten (10) miles west of Camp Holloway with minor damage sustained but no injuries to the crew. The aircraft was sling loaded back to Camp Holloway and was mission ready on 27 Aug 1967.

26 August 1967: AVENGER 693 (need photo) was flying at 50 feet and 100 knots when it received one (1) round in the engine compartment from small arms fire in the vicinity of Dak To. No injuries and the aircraft continued on its mission.

 

The 189th conducted a CA for the 5th SFG in the vicinity of Phu Tuc, 153 pax in 223 sorties. The mission was conducted with no incidents.

 

31 August 1967: A reconnaissance patrol had been pinned down and surrounded by a superior enemy force just north of the Pleiku Valley, and it was decided to get them out. CPT. Hooper was designated flight leader for the night extraction mission. Operating in the most marginal weather conditions, CPT. Hooper planned, coordinated and led the successful extraction. CPT. Lynn C. Hooper was awarded the DFC for his actions.

 

3 Sept 1967: MAJ. Eugene Malcoff was reassigned to the 155th Assault Helicopter Company at Ban Me Thout. CPT. Ernest Bowling assumed command of the 1st Airlift Platoon.

 

3 Sept 1967: Avenger 690 (need photo) made a forced landing due to engine failure. There were no injuries even though the aircraft sustained major damage.

 

5 September 1967: CPT. Lynn Hooper was awarded the DFC for action he was involved in on the nights of 31 August-1 September. MG George P. Seneff presented the award. The GHOSTRIDERS and AVENGERS were conducting a final extraction of the 3/12th Inf 4th Inf Div in support of our favorite operation, Francis Marion, while CPT. Hooper was getting his award. The slicks hauled out 522 troops in 191 sorties taking up enough time so many of the 189th missed CPT. Hooper’s ceremony.

 

7 September 1967: Again the 189th was called on to perform another extraction for the 1/12th Inf. 4th Inf Div in support of Francis Marion.

 

Many of the operations were put on hold due to the weather, and much of September consisted of heavy morning ground fog, zero-zero until after 0900 hrs. Frequent afternoon rain showers and thunderstorms with ceilings 3500-5000ft broken, visibility to 3-7 miles. Temperatures were in the High 70s to the Low 60’s.

 

14 September 1967: The 189th conducted multiple troop movements and final extractions for the 1/12th, 3/8th, 4th Inf. Div. In support of Francis Marion. The slicks pulled out 529 troops in 206 sorties with enemy contact minimal

 

15 September 1967: The Company sustained its first casualties from hostile ground fire. While investigating suspected enemy tunnels and foxholes on the daily visual reconnaissance, GHOSTRIDER 166 (need photo) received automatic weapons fire from four (4) individuals who were attempting to hide in the trees. GHOSTRIDER 166 received approximately ten (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 Kravehak, the gunner, returned fire on the enemy location and claimed one (1) enemy KIA. 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.

 

15 September 1967: The 189th was reassigned from direct support of the 4th Inf Div to general support of the Central Highlands. These missions included the support of II Corps, 5th SFG and 52nd Artillery Battalion. Operations Omega and Prairiefire were also included.

 

15 September 1967: Major Richard Coulter was reassigned to be S-1 of the 52nd CAB. MAJ. Darrell Waite replaced him as Operations Officer; MAJ. Robert Davenport became the Platoon Leader of the 2nd Airlift Platoon.

 

17 September 1967: MAJ. Wilbur Mixter was transferred to the 405th Maintenance Detachment as the Detachment Commander.

 

21 September, 1967: The unit was notified at 2230 hours that GHOSTRIDER 166 (need photo)  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 (20) kilometers south of Mang Buk. All crew members survived with minor injuries although the aircraft was completely destroyed.

 

1 October 1967: MAJ. George Hodges was assigned to the 189th as Company Executive Officer replacing CPT. Howe. CPT. Howe was made the assistant gun platoon leader.

 

1 October 1967: The 189th supported Operation Prairiefire, the high stakes, top secret, cross border reconnaissance game. Across the border in Laos and Cambodia, the rules were much different and the standards expected of pilots much higher. Normal military protocol, rank, etc. were subordinated as natural leaders proved they were up to the challenge. Friendships formed based on trust and mutual interdependence. Foremost was the determination by all participants that they would stick to the bitter end of the mission to ensure no friendly forces were left behind in enemy territory. 10 October 1967 marked the start of a classified mission for the 189th with the 5th SFG out of FOB-2 at Kontum. This mission required all the skill, techniques and proficiency the pilots and crews could muster. Charlie was not to be laughed at.

 

It is impossible to determine whether the GHOSTRIDERS or the AVENGERS encountered more hostile fire on these missions. While GHOSTRIDERS were hovering above triple canopy jungle, using Maguire rigs (ropes and slings) to extract the teams on the ground, the AVENGERS were on station providing withering fire support. These missions established once and for all that the NVA had developed the Ho Chi Minh trail into a high-speed highway capable of rapid movement of men and equipment into all parts of South Vietnam.

 

3 October 1967: AVENGER 552 (need photo) was on a low level mission at 100 feet at 100 knots. The aircraft took four (4) hits in the left side while in support of a SF mission in Laos. One crew member was WIA.

 

5 October 1967: At approximately 0820, the 189th was notified the gunner on GHOSTRIDER 759  (need photo) put two (2) rounds through the top of the ship. Nobody was hurt, but the ship had to be brought back and checked out for further damage. Also, GHOSTRIDER 153 (need photo) piloted by WO Jones, was hovering over the dense jungle making a pick up by ladder when a tree bent down by the rotor wash flapped back into the tail rotor causing the aircraft to make a hard landing. The crew was not injured and the area was secured until a CH-47 aircraft picked up the aircraft.

 

6 October 1967: On a FOB-2 mission, aircraft GHOSTRIDER 171  was in support of a SF team deep in enemy held jungle west of Dak To. GHOSTRIDER 171, the leading insert ship, drew heavy automatic weapons fire wounding the pilot and almost totally disabling the ship. WO Butler brought his AVENGER gun team in to suppress the fire on the injured ship. After getting the troop ship safely out of the area, they returned to mark the heaviest ground fire area with smoke to facilitate air strikes by the Air Force. CPT. Shiver Eustice (P) received wounds to his leg and arm and was evacuated to the 18th Surgical Hospital. The aircraft was left at Dak To and arrangements were made to return the aircraft by CH-47. AVENGER 694  (need photo) received small arms fire but, in retaliation, the AVENGERS were given credit for 27 confirmed NVA kills. WO Richard E. Butler received the DFC  for his actions on the mission.

 

10-31 October 1967: Project Omega (Dak To) The first platoon of the 281st AHC Provided three (3) UH-ID’s for operations at Kontum in support of Project Omega with the 189th AHC, staging out of Kontum, the aircraft were utilized in the daily shuttle of a seventy two-man reaction force to New Dak To and to stand by daily to insert the reaction force in areas where the LRRP detected enemy activity. Three (3) assaults were made northwest of New Dak to into Mountainside landing zones.

 

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 (need photo. He was evacuated to the 18th Surgical Hospital and later to Cam Ranh Bay. The aircraft did not receive any damage from small arms fire.

 

14 October 1967: SP4 Duffin sustained a slight bullet wound to the foot. He was taken to the 18th Surgical Hospital. He was released from the hospital quickly and returned to the unit in a few days.

 

The 52nd CAB was the principle supporting aviation element during Operation Mac Arthur. The Battalion’s normal daily operational commitment to the 4th Inf Div was 22 UH-1Hs, 10 UH-1Cs and 7 CH-47s of which the majority was allocated to the 1st Brigade at Dak To.

 

15 October 1967: Reports pertaining to Operation MacArthur were published showing the buildup of enemy forces in preparation for the Battle of Dak To. During the period 15-21 October, there were several reports of small arms fire directed at aircraft in an area twenty (20) kilometers northeast of Dak To.

 

15-21 October 1967: During this period there were several reports of small arms fire directed at aircraft in an area twenty (20) kilometers NE of Dak To. With excellent gun coverage given by the AVENGERS and the GHOSTRIDERS, they continued to operate successfully and effectively on the FOB 2 mission.

 

19 October – 9 November 1967: 5th SFG (Prairie Fire) the aircraft used in this operation was assigned a primary mission of resupply and liaison. In addition, the unit conducted several combat assaults. The area of operations was southwest of Kontum where the assaults were flown into mountain landing zones. On one such assault, a 281st AHC aircraft killed one (1) enemy. On 9 November, the aircraft were withdrawn to Pleiku where they once again flew in support of the 52nd CAB.

 

22-29 October 1967: Contact was made with an unidentified company sized unit eight (8) km SE of Dak To. Heavy trail building activity was reported thirty (30) km NW of Dak To. An agent reported that a 4000-man force would use the trails to move into Knotum Province.

 

24 October 1967: Captain Howe called operations and alerted them that GHOSTRIDER 167(need photo)  had a small electrical fire and a main rotor blade strike while evacuating troops. The aircraft was flown back to FOB-2 and left there for maintenance to check the following morning.

 

 

25 October 1967: Our turn to be supported by another company. Due to maintenance problems, only one (1) gun ship could be supplied to FOB-2. The 165th AHC supplied slicks and remaining guns.

 

27 October 1967: The 52nd conducted a battalion sized Airmobile Operation in support of the 1/22nd Inf 4th Inf Div for Operation Mac Arthur. The 189th participated with slicks and guns. The mission was conducted with no incidents and negative contact.

 

28 October 1967: An AVENGER gunship received three (3) hits by ground fire in vicinity of Dak To. One (1) crew member WIA and aircraft continued to fly.

 

29 October 1967: Helicopter crews from the 179th Medium Helicopter Company, 52nd CAB, 189th AHC and 604th Maint Det provided support to recover a downed UH-1H helicopter. The helicopter recovery operation was carried out under difficult and extremely hazardous flying conditions. The ground party prepared a landing zone at the crash site located in dense jungle. The maintenance crew landed at 1800 hours and prepared the aircraft for extraction by CH-47D. The first attempt was unsuccessful because the lifting cable was too short. A longer cable was obtained, the downed UH-1H again prepared for extraction, and the LZ enlarged by cutting additional trees. The CH-47D returned and the recovery was accomplished during the hours of darkness. The GHOSTRIDERS and AVENGERS performed insertion of maintenance personnel and gun cover. WO Niester received superficial face wounds and minor shrapnel wounds to his arms and legs.

 

30 October 1967: Omega Operations terminated with all GHOSTRIDERS returning to Camp Holloway. Many pilots were looking forward to continuing this mission in the future.

 

2 November 1967: Two (2) GHOSTRIDER slicks were assigned to participate in a CA with the 170th and 119th AHC’s.

 

The Battle of Dak To was a major battle of the Vietnam Conflict that took place between 3 and 22 November 1967 in Kontum Province, in the Central Highlands. The 189th played a major role with insertions and extractions, medical evacuations, resupply and gunship support throughout the entire battle.

 

3 November 1967: AVENGER 552 (need photo) while on a CA the aircraft was hit in the cockpit by automatic weapons fire. One (1) crew member was WIA and the aircraft received structural damage and continued on the assault. GHOSTRIDERS were notified that a new commitment was given to them. Nightly flare stand-by, two (2) UH-1H's were required.

 

4 November 1967: Another mission was assigned. An area to include the western half of a semi-circle within a 15 km radius of Camp Holloway was to be visibly ? every day.

 

6 November 1967: The 4th/503rd established FSB 15 atop hill 823 for Battery C 3/319th Artillery. Hill 823 is approximately nine (9) kilometers from the Cambodian border and sits sat astride a major exit of the Ho Chi Minh Trail. CH-47D aircraft to the top of the hill airlifted the battery. Company B of the 4th /503rd were involved in a fierce fight to secure the hill for the artillery. AVENGER guns covered the insertion and took action to secure the hill. After the hill was secured the four (4) rifle companies rotated the job of providing security of the FSB. Later that day GHOSTRIDER 153 piloted by 1LT Hedrick landed next to a CONEX container to off load flares. As the aircraft lifted to a hover the CONEX door swung open and hit the stinger and caused the tail rotor to hit CONEX container.

 

7 November 1967: GHOSTRIDER 160  (need photo) caught fire in maintenance and received major damages. Aircraft commitment increased at FOB-2 to eleven (11) slicks and five (5) guns.

 

8 November 1967: In an area centered four (4) nautical miles west of Dak To, a SF team on a search and destroy mission engaged an unknown-sized enemy force in fortified positions. SP5 John Adams was (CE) aboard an AVENGER gun ship flying cover on a Special Forces insertion mission west of Dak To. Other members of the crew were: WO McKenna (AC); SP4 Begay (G); WO Weaks (P). CPT. Hooper was team leader, he and his wingman were circling the inserted troops, when they started received heavy small weapons fire. WO McKenna’s aircraft was hit with small arms fire and began to lose power and attempted to land. Failing to find a suitable landing zone, WO McKenna allowed the aircraft to settle tail first into the trees. As the helicopter struck the trees, the tail boom snapped off, spun and came to rest on an upslope caving in the front of the aircraft. After his wingman crashed, CPT. Hooper called for the flight of helicopters that just departed to return and rescue the downed crew. He continued to attack the enemy positions despite the heavy hostile fire and forced the enemy to withdraw from the rescue site. WO McKenna and SP4 Begay exited the right side of the helicopter, while Weaks and Adams exited the left. SP4 Begay suffered a broken leg, WO Weaks injured his right foot, and SP5 Adams had a broken arm and appeared to be in shock. The four had barely exited the helicopter when they began to receive small arms fire. WO McKenna radioed for help, and he, SP4 Begay and WO Weaks made their way to an extraction point with SP4 Begay dragging SP5 Adams. SP4 Begay, because of his own injuries, was unable to carry SP5 Adams far and left him in a slumped-over position against some bushes. SP4 Begay later stated that SP5 Adams condition had worsened. While awaiting extraction, WO McKenna returned to the crash site to see if he could help SP5 Adams. He saw two Viet Cong, one who appeared to be shooting at SP5 Adams. WO McKenna shot at the Viet Cong then fell down the slope to the creek bed where he was extracted. WO Miller, upon learning the position of the downed aircraft, immediately flew to the area. Captain Hooper advised him that the downed crew was receiving heavy fire and that the ridge overlooking the crash site was held by well armed and determined NVA. Disregarding the danger, WO Miller brought his aircraft to a hover over the site of the downed aircraft and, while under intense fire from the enemy, he directed his (CE) and SP4 Williams (G) to cover his approach and lower the McGuire rig into the crash site below. SP4 Williams placed accurate fire upon the enemy positions so that the rescue of the downed crew could be completed. WO members secured themselves to the rescue sling. He then made a slow vertical ascent under fire and safely lifted the injured personnel from the crash site and flew them to a safe landing area for transfer, inside his aircraft, for medical evacuation to a Pleiku Hospital. SP5 Adams was last seen slumped over just outside the left cargo door of the crashed aircraft. Subsequent rescue efforts were frustrated by enemy fire, and Major Sanders ordered all rescue attempts terminated. Following termination of rescue efforts, the downed aircraft was destroyed to prevent capture of weapons and equipment. The enemy broke contact leaving twelve (12) dead. SP5 Adams survived the crash of his helicopter and, with the presence of enemy forces, stood a good chance of being captured. His helicopter contained equipment the Army did not want in the hands of the enemy. The decision was made to destroy the aircraft. Twelve 500 lb. bombs, six CBU-2’s, 1600 rounds of 20 mm fire, and additional bombs and napalm were dropped on the crash site to prevent the enemy from getting equipment from the helicopter. SP5 Adams was declared dead on 03/13/78. All other crew members were rescued. CPT. Lynn C. Hooper received the Silver Star and WO Ronald E. Miller received the DFC and SP4 Claire P. Williams received the Air Medal with “V” Device for their heroism.

 

9 November 1967:  The aircraft were withdrawn to Pleiku where they once again flew in support of the 189th AHC.

11 November 1967: A Co. 2nd/503rd was moving along a narrow ridge 400 meters west of the LZ when they were ambushed by NVA. AVENGER gunships assisted in recovery of the troops. A Co. lost three (3) KIA and twenty four (24) WIA. B Co. lost one (1) KIA and eleven (11) WIA. When the fight ended, patrols found five (5) NVA dead along with weapons.

 

12 November 1967: Two (2) companies from the 503rd moved 300 meters north of FSB 16 to secure the ridge line. They started to move west along the ridgeline when they were once again ambushed. AVENGER and CROCODILE guns were called to provide suppressive fire, making firing pass after firing pass putting down intensive fire so the enemy would not break and run. The vicious fighting lasted until the next day. The 503rd lost 21 KIA and 17 WIA. A sweep of the area afterwards revealed 34 NVA dead and 21 enemy weapons.

15 November 1967: It appeared that the second phase of the Battle of Dak To was on its way. At 0840 hours in Dak To, AVENGER guns were on standby waiting for anything to happen, and they did not have to wait long. Charles decided he was going to make sure everyone was awake, so he sent his greetings via incoming mortars, 12 to 15 rounds landed on the parking ramp where three (3) C-130's were parked. Two (2) of the C-130's were completely destroyed and the third damaged. Everyone except the AVENGERS retired to the bunkers while the fire team took off and, directed by the tower, engaged the mortar firing position. The C-130's that burned were loaded with ammo so it was a long stay in the bunker for the troops. The C-130's stopped burning about 1230 hours. At 1545 hours, Charlie again sent his greeting via mortar to Dak Tothis time hitting the ASP setting it on fire resulting in a complete loss of the ASP. Again, everyone retired to the bunkers and again the AVENGERS took to the air. The ASP burned fiercely until 0130 hours and an occasional round exploded throughout the night in very close proximity of the bunkers. Charlie continued to send his greetings several times during the night. In addition to isolated thunderstorms over the airfield during the night, unreported weather was 1141 tons of various types of ammunition falling everywhere.. Damage to the airfield was heavy but only in certain localized areas. No injuries to 189th personnel.

 

15-21 November 1967: Heavy mortar and rocket fire continued day and night. Charlie seemed to be well entrenched in the surrounding hillside and their objective appeared to be an attempt to inflict as many US casualties as possible rather than attempting to over-run Dak To itself.

19 November 1967: The 2nd Bn 503rd Inf of the 173rd Abn Bgde numbering less than 500 men were given the mission of securing Hill 875, estimated to have been defended by a company of NVA main-force troops fresh off the Ho Chi Minh Trail. What followed was one of the fiercest battles of the entire VN War which would later be categorized as one of the “Border Battles” of 1967. The 189th AHC supported the operation with slicks and guns during the entire battle ending on 23 November.

22-28 November 1967: During this period, enemy activity decreased significantly. In what appeared to divert US forces from Dak To, the enemy began to increase ambush and harassing activities in Kontum City which was mortared on 27 November.

26 November 1967: A covert and clandestine operation was to take place in Laos which included eighty (80) ground troops consisting of Special Forces, Mountangards, and Nungs, were the largest SOG force that has been inserted since working with FOB-2. It was not long before a call came in that the team was pinned down and desperately needed ammunition, water, and entrenching tools and to have the wounded evacuated. It was just before dusk when the flight got to the LZ and, during the approach, the first aircraft GHOSTRIDER 628 (need photo)  took twelve (12) hits (mostly through the cockpit), receiving heavy battle damage. The (AC) Lt Gray received multiple serious wounds and the (P) WO Clines took a round in the leg but managed to fly the heavily damaged aircraft back to Dak To. The other aircraft could not land because of the intense ground fire so they made passes over the LZ tossing ammunition and other supplies out the door. A night extraction would be impossible so the aircraft returned to FOB-2. No one slept that night thinking about what could happen in the morning. (Enclosure 1 Letter from CWO Boyd Clines describing the nights action.)

 

27 November 1967: A 5th SF unit from FOB-2was in constant contact deep in enemy territory west of Dak Toand they called for an emergency extraction of an 80-man force that had been inserted the previous day. Their situation was getting critical as GHOSTRIDER 6 (MAJ Sanders) and AVENGER 6 (CPT Hooper) arrived over the position with eight (8) slicks and four (4) gun ships. CPT Hooper immediately led his fire-teams on devastating runs over the enemy positions where the enemy was so close that the use of Air Force ordinance was impossible. The AVENGERS made continuing firing passes at this determined enemy and, in spite of heavy weapons fire, they were successful in forcing the enemy to break contact. Backing up the gunship pilots with tremendous fire support were the crew chiefs and gunners on the guns and slicks who placed heavy and accurate fire on the enemy which protected the flank of the attacking gun ships allowing the GHOSTRIDERS to begin the extraction. Lt Gray was evacuated to Japan then later to the US. WO Cline's went to a Quin Nhon hospital and returned to the unit. MAJ Sanders was awarded the Silver Star, MAJ Leva and all AC’s were awarded the DFC, WO Webster, 1LT Lindsey, WO Butler, Ochotsky and others were awarded the Air Medal with “V” device. (See Enclosure 2 for statement from CPT John J Holland, SF Commander of ground troops)

 

29 November 1967: 189th conducted a final extraction in support of 1st Bde 4th Inf Div in the vicinity of Dak To. They extracted 252 pax in 87 sorties. Mission was conducted with no injuries or contact.

 

30 November 1967: The 189th conducted a CA in support of 3/12th Inf 4th Inf Div in the vicinity of Dak To. They lifted 585 pax in 182 sorties. The Battalion Commander of the 3/12th Inf. received a minor facial wound when his C&C aircraft came under enemy automatic weapons fire. GHOSTRIDER 154 was on a recon mission at 50 feet and 90 knots and received one (1) hit through the cockpit and continued on the mission.

 

1 December 1967: With the completion of the FOB mission, the 189th turned its attention to other commitments including the 4th Inf Div and support of the 170th AHC, 119th AHC and II Corps missions.

 

4 December 1967: The 189th AVENGER gun ships supporting a CIDG team received credit for nine (9) NVA killed by air.

 

6 December 1967: The 189th conducted a CA in support of the 1/8th Inf 4th Inf Div, in Spaatz AO. They lifted over 255 pax in 45 sorties. The mission was conducted with no incidents and negative contact.

 

13 December 1967: Dak To came under mortar attack causing extensive damage to GHOSTRIDER 156. No injuries were suffered, however, the aircraft could not be flown.

 

14 December 1967: GHOSTRIDER 159 (need photo) took one (1) round of hostile fire while in support of 4th Inf Div negative injuries.

 

16 December 1967: While on a mission for the 4th Inf Div GHOSTRIDER 174 received one round through the tail boom, and the aircraft was flown to Dak To for repair.

 

17-19 December 1967: Normal missions resumed.

 

20 December 1967: At 1530 hours, 189th GHOSTRIDER 154 (need photo)  was hovering at 120 feet lowering cutting equipment by rope. The tail rotor struck a tree causing the aircraft to crash and burn. Two (2) crew members, (AC) WO Mc Garry and (CE) David Antol were missing along with two (2) passengers: LTC Glen Belnap and SGM Herbert Roberts Jr. WO Baker (AC) suffered a severe cut lip. Sp4 Kornes (G) was evacuated with a broken leg. A search for the missing crew members and passengers had to be terminated due to darkness. The missing personnel were declared KIA. Reports indicate that LTC Belnap on board from the 3rd Bde 4th Inf took Antol’s helmet to talk with the AC while they were landing so there was no way to clear the tail rotor on the left. Rules were changed after that flight so that no one could use a crew member’s helmet during flight.

 

21 December 1967: The 189th received a call from WO Meister that AVENGER 697 (need photo) had been involved in an accident at Polei Klang trying to hover between two (2) 281st AHC aircraft where INTRUDER 748 and 039, AVENGER 697 meshed blades with 748 and was totally destroyed. (AC) of 697 was WO Ginac (P) was WO Engle, (CE) was SP4 Tipton, and the (G) was PFC Nelson.  SP5 Schenk was sitting in a trailing helicopter and observed 697 mesh blades with 748. He raced to the gunship and pulled the crew out from the wreckage and moved them to safety. He returned to the stricken aircraft and successfully shut off the engine preventing a fire. During the entire action, he was drenched with fuel and, had a fire occurred, death or grievous injury was certain. The only injuries sustained by the crew were head lacerations received by SP4 Tipton. Both aircraft were a total loss. SP5 Schenk was awarded the Soldier's Medal for his quick action in complete disregard for his own life. One (1) US soldier SP4 Paschall from the 281st AHC, INTRUDERS was KIA by flying shrapnel from the crash. At 1530 hours GHOSTRIDER 154 crashed and burned while on a resupply mission for the 3/8th Inf a tail rotor strike was suspected when the aircraft came in contact with jungle canopy. WO Baker (AC) suffered a severe cut lip. WO McGarry (P) and PFC Antol (CE) were missing. SP4 Kornes was evacuated with a broken leg. A search was made of the area for the missing to no avail.

 

23 December 1967: 189th Operations was informed that GHOSTRIDER 153 (need photo)  was down at Dak To with a split main rotor blade. Aircraft was sling loaded back to Camp Holloway by CH-47D.

 

25 December 1967: Being Christmas day, the entire company was thinking about family and friends at home. The mess hall had a better meal than usual, and many toasts and many beers were consumed. No incidents occurred. However, one (1) GHOSTRIDER slick carried Chris Noel to Camp Schmidt to entertain the waiting troops.

 

27 December 1967: At approximately 1300 hours, the 189th received a call that GHOSTRIDER 153, piloted by (AC) 1LT Lindsey, was down two (2) miles west of Dak To airfield. Neither crew nor aircraft suffered any damage, and the aircraft was sling loaded by CH-47 back to Pleiku. The other missions ran smoothly the rest of the day. A CA in support of the 2/503rd Abn, 173d Abn Bde was conducted in the vicinity of Kontum. They lifted 252 pax in 42 sorties.

 

28 December 1967: Still in support of the 4th Inf Div GHOSTRIDERS and AVENGERS conducted a CA, for the 1/503rd Abn, 173d Abn Bge in the vicinity of Kontum. They lifted 120 troops in 20 sorties into a new area. The mission was conducted with no incidents and negative contact.

 

29 December 1967: Normal missions in connection with the 4th Inf Div the 189th conducted a CA with 120 troops in 24 sorties from the 3/12th 4th Inf Div Enemy small arms fire was received from the SW quadrant of the LZ. An AVENGER gunship sustained one (1) hit with no injury to crew. Later that day, the 189th moved 352 troops of the 7th ARVN Bn. into a secure LZ. The mission continued with another insertion of 150 troops and tons of cargo moved.

 

31 December 1967: The 189th conducted a CA in support of 3/12th Inf 4th Inf Div in the Spaatz AO. They airlifted 150 pax in 50 sorties. The mission was conducted with no incidents or contact.

 

31 December 1967: Many spent New Years’ Eve in celebration, both in the Officers and Enlisted clubs at Camp Holloway, while others were committed to the 5th SFG, 4th Inf Div and others. At the celebrations, all commanders expressed their appreciation for the men of the 189thand toasted to a job well done with many more to go. Thus closing out the end of 1967.

 

Looking back on the different missions during the year showed a few problems encountered in the first months in support of the 4th Inf Div and the 5th SFG. The 189th recognized them even though the 4th and 5th appreciated how the unit performed for them. The coming year would be spent in support of the same missions and operations which were expected to be performed much smoother.


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1968 History