COMBAT SUPPORT OPERATIONS

A. Missions

1. Many types of missions were flown, ranging from routine administrative support to combat assaults.  They included:

The majority of flying was done during the hours of daylight, but a night capability existed and was frequently called upon.

2. The crew were not subjected to hostile fire on every occasion, but the most routine mission often would turn into a hazardous one when unexpected ground fire was received.  Complacency was a luxury which could not be afforded.  Helicopter crews soon found they were faced with a determined, elusive, and dangerous enemy - the Viet Gong terrorist. (VC)

B. Command and Liaison

1.  The command and liaison missions (C&L) originated at the supported units and were funneled up to the 13th Aviation Battalion Operations Center (COC) through Division and IV Corps Tactical Operation Center (TOC) where they were consolidated.  COC determined the number of aircraft available for the units.  The company operations section received the missions from COC and assigned them to the respective platoons.  The aviators assigned a C&L mission then flew their aircraft to the reporting point specified in the mission order.  C&L support ranged from support of corps and division senior advisors and staffs,  to sector support wherein the villages, hamlets and districts were visited and resupplied, Special Forces, USOM etc., received their allocations along with the other requesters.

C.  Pre-Planned Assaults

l.   On the pre-planned assault, the operations officer received a briefing from the unit conducting the operation (usually division) and, upon his return, briefed the company on the operation.  The enemy situation, tactical ground plan., company formation flight routes, release points, refueling and staging instructions, etc., were covered in detail.  COC had by this time levied the respective aviation units for the assets necessary to complete the mission.  The aviation units involved would then proceed to the staging area for the final briefing on any changes in the operational plan.  The 13th Aviation Battalion provided logistical support for the operation in conjunction with the battalion liaison officer who was located at each division headquarters.

2.  In the majority of cases, a combined effort on the part of the four aviation companies in the Delta was required.  The company in whose area of operations the operation took place was delegated as the unit to control the operation.

3.  The execution of the air assault phase of the mission utilized a transports leader, an armed escort, and a reconnaissance of the landing zones.  A command and control ship assisted by the vector control aircraft exercised over all supervision of the operation.  Upon completion of the initial troop lifts the bulk of the transports were released to perform C&L missions while the remainder were held on stand-by in the event that unit reinforcements were required at a later time.

D.   Eagle Operations

1.  Eagle flights were usually flown in conjunction with a troop lift in support of a ground operation in search of VC activity or concentrations in an attempt to develop a situation.  Normally, ten transport aircraft carrying 100 Vietnamese Rangers and a platoon of armed helicopters formed the flights. Armed aircraft provided security for the troop carriers as they would in a regular airmobile operation.  The force was flown to an area suspected to contain a VC unit at which time the armed aircraft would screen the area for VC activity, often receiving ground fire which gave the eagle force commander an indication of what to expect.

2.  After the troop commander had selected the area which he wished to search, he would coordinate the selection of a landing zone with his advisor and the airlift commander.  The flight then swooped down into the landing zone (LZ) with armed aircraft escort to provide suppressive fire if needed.  The troop carriers landed, discharged the troops and climbed to altitude to orbit over the area or to be returned to the staging area until the troop commander requested to be picked up.  Meanwhile, the armed aircraft were flying their "Daisy-Chain" pattern at low altitudes searching for likely targets of fleeing VC.  During these operations prisoners, supplies, and weapons were often captured and hidden VC facilities such as arms factories and hospitals were located and destroyed.

E.  Doctrine Employed

1. The 175th Avn Co. (AML) employed aviation doctrine garnered from preceding aviation units operating in the Republic of Vietnam.  Techniques employed by the company were:

2.  Old techniques were refined and modified and new techniques were developed and employed. Techniques that were determined best for overall operational ability were retained and became SOP to all aviators.

F.  Psychological Warfare

1.  Psychological warfare missions were frequently assigned to the unit.  Basically, they involved the dropping of propaganda leaflets and/or mounting a bank of loudspeakers on an aircraft so that an accompanying Vietnamese could broadcast messages to persons on the ground.  The speaker ship was fired at on most occasions.

2.  The standard procedure was to fly at 1500 feet while broadcasting.  Later, better equipment was received and we were able to fly successfully at 2500 feet and accomplish the mission.  An empty transport accompanied the speaker ship as a chase ship to be immediately available, as all the missions were conducted over hostile territory and speedy recovery of the crew was imperative should they be shot down.  Operations of this type were conducted separately and in conjunction with combat missions.  They were also conducted during daylight and hours of darkness.

G.  Fire-Fly

1.  "Fire Fly" is one of the most versatile capabilities organic to the company.  A transport was equipped with a bank of seven to nine aircraft landing lights mounted on the side of the aircraft for operation by the crew chief or gunner.

2.  A Free Fire Zone would be designated by the appropriate ARVN division commander, and the local personnel were told to keep clear.  The transport would then fly between 1000 and 2000 feet, depending on the visibility and search out movement in the area.  Two or three armed aircraft accompanied the transport and would destroy any moving object sighted.

3.  These missions had varying success, depending on the activity in the area.  There was no set manner in which to conduct these missions and something new was tried each time.

H.  Summary of Operations

1. The 175th Avn Co (AML) has established an outstanding record for responsiveness and support during the period covered by this report.  During this period the company:

2.   Easter Sunday, 1967

On 26 March 1967, the 175th Avn Co (AML) supported the 9th Division ARVN in an operation east of Vinh Long.  The operation began as a normal flight with the Outlaws lifting troops out of Vinh Long.

Acting on Intelligence reports of the location of the VC, the commanders chose the location of the first LZ and the Mavericks (Armed Platoon) reconned it.  After carefully checking out the proposed landing site, and it appeared to be suitable, the Outlaws lifted in the first lift of ARVN soldiers.

As the transports touched down, heavy enemy fire was received from a bordering tree line. One ship was shot down in the LZ and a Dust off ship that went in to pick up the crew was shot down.

It was not until hours later and many VNAF, USAF, and Army Air strikes went into the tree line that any ships were able to get into the LZ to rescue the people there.  The Battalion Commander's aircraft was shot down in the LZ, and the Commanding Officer, Colonel Jack Dempsey, was killed.

Throughout the day the Outlaws continued to airlift troops into an LZ near by.  Up into the hours of the following morning there were still gunships on station and transports making resupply and med evac missions.

What had started off to be a normal operation on Easter Sunday in the Delta of South Vietnam had suddenly turned into an operation using aircraft f rom Vinh Long, Soc Trang, and Saigon.

The tireless devotion displayed by every unit taking part will long be remembered by every one observing the operation that day.  The complete operation was a picture of courage, responsiveness, and reliability.


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