On 6 August 1964 at Fort Benning, Georgia, the 62nd Aviation Company (Air Mobile Light) was activated. The unit was formed from assets available within the llth Air Assault Division and Thomas E. Anderson, Major, Infantry, Commanding Officer of Company A, 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion, was selected to command the new unit. The company was organized under TOE 1-77E and, after augmentation was authorized a strength of 14 officers, 41 warrant officers and 117 enlisted men. It's basic organization consisted of a company headquarters, two airlift platoons, a gun (armed) platoon and a service platoon; the organization was further modified upon arrival in the area of operations. Major items of equipment authorized were 25 UH-1B utility helicopters and 6 fixed wing aircraft; 3 observation (0-IF) and 3 Utility (U-6A).
The 62nd Aviation Company would serve
as an entity for only 129 days before being deactivated on 14 December
1964, by General Orders number 223, dated 4 December 1964. The personnel,
equipment, and support units of the 62nd were reassigned to Company A,
502nd Aviation Battalion. Although the numerical designation was
changed, the personnel, equipment, organization for combat, assignment,
and mission remained the same. The Outlaws would maintain A/502nd
as the unit designation until General Orders number 210 activated the 175th
Aviation Company and deactivated A/502nd Aviation Battalion, effective
1 September 1966.
PREPARATION FOR DEPLOYMENT
The company, being cognizant of the short period of time available before deployment, began immediate preparations. The G-1 section of the llth Air Assault Division had screened the records of all personnel prior to assignment, thereby negating the extensive re-shuffling of personnel that normally accompanies an overseas movement, and turnover of personnel was kept to a minimum.
Since personnel who comprised the company came from within the llth Air Assault Division, qualification in the UH-IB and training in operational techniques was not a problem area.
The major tasks that faced the company were POR processing and the receipt, processing, and packing of organizational equipment. Captain John W. White Jr., Armor, lst platoon commander, was appointed as coordination officer for the voluminous task of preparing the company's equipment for rail shipment. Captain White, with the cooperation and assistance of all personnel within the company, accomplished this task during the period 16-23 August 1964. Throughout the preparations for deployment, the work was well organized and each man rendered maximum effort to insure that the deadlines for shipment were met.
Upon completion of the out loading of
equipment the personnel of the unit departed on leave to prepare their
personal belongings for shipment, resettle their families, and to say their
adieus to friends and loved ones.
DEPLOYMENT TO VIETNAM
On 19 September 1964 a small advance party element, commanded by Captain Iller, consisting of two officers end six enlisted men left Fort Benning enroute to their new destination. This element flew to Vietnam to establish liaison with Support Command and coordinate the details of the reception of the main body at Vinh Long.
Early in the morning of 26 September 1964 the main body departed aboard C-118's from Warner Robbins Air Force Base in Macon, Georgia, on the first leg of their journey which terminated five days and 9000 miles later.
After intermediate stops at San Francisco, Hawaii, Wake, Guam, and the Philippines, the main body arrived on 30 September 1964, at Tan Son Nhut International Airport, Saigon, Republic of Vietnam. Shortly after their arrival in Saigon, the men were shuttled in U. S. Air Force C-123 transport aircraft to the dusty airstrip at Vinh Long, which was to be their now home. Vinh Long is a provincial capital city located on the Mekong River, 55 nautical air miles southwest of Saigon in the heart of the famous Mekong Delta region.
The advance party and the officers and men of the of the 114th Aviation Company (AML) greeted the new arrivals and welcomed them to Vinh Long.
The compound located at Vinh Long, had been established by the 114th Aviation Company just a year before the arrival of the 62nd and the facilities available were expanded to house and accommodate the 62nd. The living conditions and facilities available within the compound far exceeded the expectations of the personnel and, apart from the miserable hot and humid weather, the men were pleased and excited over their new "home away from home" and anxious to get on with their work.
The company arrived in Vietnam with 26
officers, 29 warrant officers and 117 enlisted men. The combined
strength of both companies, including attachments numbered in excess
of 600 officers and men located on the Vinh Long compound.
ASSIGNMENT AND MISSION
When it arrived in Vietnam, the 62nd become a part of the US Army Support Command, Vietnam, under USARYIS and USARPACC and was placed under the operational control of the Delta Aviation Battalion (Provisional). The general mission of the company was to augment, within the "rules of engagement", the aviation capability of the Republic of Vietnam forces by providing Army aviation support for the ARVN forces of the IV Corps area. Specifically, the aviators of the company would be required to fly troops and supplies over the remote and otherwise inaccessible areas located in the Delta to avoid ground ambush and to provide the third dimension in warfare, the vertical air landed envelopment.
On 5 Oct 1964, the Delta Aviation Battalion (Prov) was redesignated the 13th Aviation Battalion and the 62nd was placed under operational control of the battalion. The 13th Battalion continued to coordinate aviation support within the IV Corps area from its headquarters located at Can Tho.
Primarily, the 62nd was to render support
to the 7th Infantry Division (ARVN) located at My Tho, unless circumstances
dictated a consolidation of effort from the various aviation companies
located in the Delta.
To carry out it's mission, the company was equipped with twenty-five (25) UH-1B helicopters broken down into two airlift platoons, each with eight aircraft, and one platoon of eight armed aircraft. For simplicity and controls the platoons were further divided into two sections each with four aircraft. The remaining UH-1B was equipped with a supplemental radio console and utilized as a command and control aircraft.
Each lift aircraft could transport eight ARVN troops in addition to it's organic American crew of four. The company's lift capability was ninety-eight ARVN troops or approximately one infantry company.
The armed platoon, with each aircraft equipped with the XM-6 machine gun system and 12 tube rocket installation, provided escort for the troop carriers to and from the landing zone, provided detailed reconnaissance of the landing zone proper, and suppressive fire in support of the air landed assault when necessary. Upon completion of it's primary mission, the armed platoon provided assault fires for the ground elements when necessary to bridge the gaps in available air and artillery support.
The command and control aircraft was flown by the company commander and carried representatives of the ARVN division command group, ARVN staff representatives and MAG advisory personnel, who jointly controlled the air mobile assault and subsequent ground operations.
The observation fixed wing aircraft (O-lF's) were utilized as reconnaissance and artillery adjustment vehicles with one being detailed as the vector control aircraft flown by the operations officers who assisted in the control function and covered the refueling gaps of the command and control aircraft ensuring continuity of command in the operational area.
The garrison organizational activity consisted
of the normal administrative orderly room organization an operations/intelligence
office, and airfield dispatch office. The overall post facilities
and functions were shared jointly by the 114th and 62nd, controlled by
the office of post coordinator, who was the senior company commander,
Support Units Attached
In consonance with it's unique mission, two direct support units were attached to the 62nd, to join it upon arrival at Vinh Long, The first of these was the 150th Transportation Detachment (CHFM). The detachment was activated on 8 August 1964 at Fort Eustis, Virginia. Equipment and personnel for this unit were drawn from the assets of established CONUS units.
On 1 September 1964, Captain Frederick R. Bisch, Transportation Corps, was assigned as commanding officer. Capt Bisch was previously assigned to the staff and faculty at the Transportation School. Key personnel comprising the command group of the unit, in addition to Captain Bisch, were CWO John C. Moodt, Transportation Corps, and Sergeant (E-6) James W. Proctor.
On 27 September 1964, the main body departed
Langley Air Force Base via KC-135's and arrived at Vinh Long on 30 September
1964. The unit's equipment began arriving on 7 October and was approximately
95% complete on 27 October 1964.
Initially, approximately 50% of the assigned personnel were transferred and fillers picked up from other units in order to spread the DEROS dates of unit personnel, In addition lack of working space, parts packages, "hardware", and equipment hampered initial operations.
These problems were soon solved and a consolidated system of maintenance was adopted. The 62nd Aviation Company's service platoon maintenance personnel were incorporated into the 150th, which enabled them to work two shifts, thereby spreading the maintenance workload and providing continuous maintenance support.
The 62nd absorbed the administrative workload of the 150th thereby allowing the personnel of the detachment to exert their full energies to their primary mission; providing second and third echelon maintenance support. This system proved to be most satisfactory in all respects due primarily to the organizational abilities and close supervision exercised by Captain Bisch and CWO Moodt.
The other attached support unit was the 28th Signal Detachment (RRA). This unit was activated at Fort Riley, Kansas, on 11 August 1964. The unit arrived at Vinh Long on 16 September 1964 and on 6 October 1964, the unit began supporting the 62nd. On 8 October 1964, Captain Joseph R. Clelan, Signal Corps, assumed command of the unit. The detachment was authorized 1 officer and 6 enlisted men and had the primary mission of providing radio repair and avionics supply to an aviation company, The detachment had the capability of providing up to fourth echelon maintenance on all aircraft radio equipment.
The Service Platoon of the 62nd, minus
the maintenance personnel attached to the 150th Transportation Detachment,
joined forces with the 114th Service Platoon and was responsible for the
functioning of the consolidated ammunition supply point, Utilizing one
officer and seven enlisted men, the service platoon was responsible for
requisitioning, storing, and issue of all ammunition utilized by the installation.
Training With The 114th
During the period 1-20 October 1964, the personnel of the 62nd were given on-the-job training by the personnel of the 114th. The professional manner in which the members of the 114th gave their time, effort, and benefit of their experience cannot be adequately described and contributed immeasurably to the ability of the 62nd to become combat operational in such a short period of time.
In the first week after arrival, a transfer of approximately 50% of the officers and men of the 62nd was effected for the purpose of spreading the DEROS dates in the company and to give depth of experience to the new unit.
Each new aviator was given an initial
proficiency check in the UH-IB and then proceeded to obtain twenty-five
hours flying on command and liaison missions with the crews of the 114th.
Concurrently, the members of the armed platoon, although all were recruited
from the gun companies of the llth Air Assault Division and were qualified
in the aircraft and armament systems, trained with the "Cobras"
(the armed platoon of the 114th) and gained knowledge and experience in
armed helicopter tactics and techniques employed in Vietnam.
On 7 October 1964, the company received
the first 12 of it's 25 UH-IB helicopters. During the Period
13-19 October, the remaining aircraft were received, coming from various
units within the country. During this period, the TOE supplies and
equipment shipped from CONUS arrived piecemeal and were processed and made
ready for use.
62nd Becomes Combat Operational
By 20 October 1964, the "Outlaws" of the 62nd were trained and anxiously awaiting the opportunity to forge out on their own. The company was officially declared operationally ready for combat operations on 21 October 1964.
Eagle Force Operation of 27 December 1964
Summary of Operations October
- December, 1964