1967

PREFACE FOR 155 HISTORY 1967   Since 6 November 1967 it has been my privilege to command the 155th Assault Helicopter Company. Before that I had the opportunity to observe this company for a number of months while serving as Executive Officer. The demonstrated flexibility of the aviation support and the far ranging missions impressed me. I find it even more satisfying to command a unit with such an evident display of espirit de corps and team effort by both officers and enlisted men of the company and its detachments. During the period of my command, this company has supported ground and air elements of United States and Republic of Vietnam units in the Central Highlands. It has been my pleasure to be a part of this hard working combat assault helicopter team.   It is my goal for the future that the 155th repeat the outstanding record it set in l967. Company pilots, crews, and aircraft flew a maximum number of combat hours with outstanding maintenance support behind them, and have produced one of the finest unit safety records in Vietnam. The men of each supporting unit contributed to the overall flight record of the company and made real history for the past year. Individually, they deserve special commendation for their participation in the full year's efforts of 1967.   It is rare privilege to write this preface to the 155th's unit history for 1967. A unit history which began a good many flying hours and DEROS dates ago at Fort Riley, Kansas, and which is being made daily here in Vietnam is in keeping with the highest traditions of Army Aviation and the United States Army.   BILLY R. GOODALL Major, Infantry Commanding       HISTORY OF THE 155TH ASSAULT HELICOPTER COMPANY APO SAN FRANCISCO 96297   1 JANUARY 1967 - 31 DECEMBER 1967   WRITTEN BY UNIT HISTORIAN APPROVED BY BILLY R. GOODALL MAJOR INFANTRY COMMANDING     SIGNIFICANT EVENTS AND OPERATIONS   1 Jan - 31 Dec 67 The 3rd of January brought a new scene to the 155th. The company moved its flight elements and representatives from maintenance, avionics, and administration to a field headquarters at Camp Holloway Airfield in Pleiku. From Pleiku, elements of the 155th alternated in Kontum working with special forces. The company moved back to Ban Me Thuot on the 23rd of February only to be recalled to Pleiku. These moves were typical missions for the 155. It was always on the move. On 16 March while participating in a combat assault west of Pleiku, a flight element of the 155th came under intense enemy fire. Two aircraft were seriously damaged by hostile rounds and one other was shot down and burned upon impact. The Company suffered two KIA and two WIA during the fierce engagement with the enemy. " I saw the ship going down flames billowing from the engine compartment. Then it hit the trees and fell through the canopy. We noticed a small clearing about 200 meters from the crash and set our ship down in it. The crew chief and I jumped from the ship, he with his M60 machine and I with my M-l6". This was the way 1LT Richard Sperling described the action after the 155th Huey crashed after being hit by ground fire during operation Sam Houston on that eventful day. LT Sperling and SP5 Michael Baucom unhesitatingly went to their rescue with complete disregard for the enemy mortars were trying desperately to destroy the downed crew.   On the 27 August, 6 lift helicopters and 4 gun ships extracted 180 CIDG Special Forces Troops from Duc Lap in Darlac Province. As the transport flight lifted out of the Duc Lap landing zone on the first lift, hostile fire was received. Two of the company aircraft were hit and one returned immediately to the airfield. The other aircraft, commanded by Warrant Officer Steve Owens, was forced down into a clearing in the jungle when it lost oil pressure. The aircraft was receiving fire when it touched down in the clearing from an enemy force in the tree line. One passenger was wounded by the fire. The remainder of the flight followed WO Owens into the clearing and their passengers secured the area within ten minutes. Two hours later the damaged aircraft was removed, but the CIDG Commander decided to take the opportunity to stalk the enemy and remained on the target which had been inadvertently offered him. WO Owens said of the action "It was close, but how many times can you get shot down and have your own line company follow you in. We were receiving heavy fire on to ground. Had it not been for the quick reaction of those CIDG my crew would not be alive today".   On the 6th of November a second change of command was held for the 155th. The guidon was passed from Major Charlie P. Fleming to Major Billy R. Goodall. The year closed with elements of the unit in Pleiku. The 155 Aviation Company (AML) was the epitome of Air mobility at work. The year had seen them working in Hue Phu Bai area in the north. Their call signs had been heard as far south as Saigon. They were truly part of the Vagabonds of Vietnam.   SIGNIFICANT EVENTS AND OPERATIONS 1 JANUARY - 31 MARCH 1967 General The morale of the members of the 155th Assault Helicopter Company and its supporting detachments at Camp Coryell, Ban Me Thuot, were greatly affected during the early part of January by the holiday season just passed. The new swimming pool had recently been officially opened and the company had provided as much entertainment as was practicable, including participating by local Vietnamese religious and social groups. The mail service, crucial at this time of year, had been excellent, and the men were in high spirits.   January: On 2 January the 155th conducted a combat assault, inserting 600 Civilian Irregular Defense Group personnel into a 1anding zone west of Bao Loc. A lifetime member of the 155th, helicopter number 64-19600, crashed into the landing zone on the first lift, and although there were no injuries sustained by the crew members, the aircraft was total]y destroyed. This was the last of the original aircraft that came over with the unit in 1965. The 3rd of January brought a new scene to 155th. The company moved its flight elements and representatives from maintenance, avionics, and administration to a field headquarters at Camp Holloway Airfield in Pleiku. Utilizing an average of ten lift helicopters and four armed helicopters a day, the company supported with other flight elements of the 52nd Aviation Battalion. The 155th continued support of Operation Sam Houston through out the month of March. During this support the company conducted numerous combat assaults as well as accomplishing daily re-supply and command and control missions. Four days after arriving at Camp Holloway, on 7 January, the 155th was involved in one of the most hostile mortar attacks in the II Corps Tactical Zone. At 0135 hours, 7 January 1967, Camp Holloway was mortared. The 155th lost 5 UH-1D's and four others were damaged during the attack. The lift helicopters and crews on flare standby that night and four armed helicopters on gun standby actively participated in the defense of Camp Holloway. They were credited with killing sixteen enemy and silencing three mortar tubes and were subsequently decorated at ceremonies held at battalion headquarters. The latter part of January nine lift helicopters and four armed helicopters moved to the Kontum area to support a Special Forces unit in that area. The flight remained there for a short period of time and returned to Pleiku to continue supporting the 4th Division.   February: During the month of February elements of the 155th returned twice more to Kontum to support the Special Forces unit in that area. The rest of the month was characterized by normal support of the 4th Infantry Division in Operation Sam Houston with the company staging most of its operations out of Camp Holloway, Pleiku.   On 4 February the 155th held a ceremony for the memorialization of Warrant Officer Michael N. Coryell. The 155th installation designated as Camp Coryell. Warrant Officer Coryell, his pilot and his crew lost their lives on 30 October 1966 when shot down by enemy small arms fire on a mission near Plei Djereng, 25 miles west of Pleiku. Military representatives and civilian guests accompanied troops in paying tribute to the aviator and his crew who died in the service of their country.   During the period 21 though 23 February the l55th returned to Ban Me Thuot to stage combat assaults for e1ements of the 23rd ARVN Infantry Division northeast of the city. On 23 and 24 February the Company moved back to Pleiku to support the 4th Infantry Division there. On the evening of 24 February the entire company was called to Bao Loc to support the 101st Infantry Division in operations there. Enemy activity in that area was intense and several aircraft received hits. Many heroic actions were committed by members of the company, and although the aircraft were constantly under fire, no serious injuries were incurred by 155th personnel. On 26 February the company returned to Pleiku to continue support of the 4th Division.   March: Through the month of March the l55th continued supporting the 4th Division with numerous combat assaults and daily re-supply and command and control missions. The month of March also brought with it the heaviest fatality toll for year 1967, along with its share of aircraft accidents and heroic actions by 155th personnel.   On 2 March Major Robert V. Atkinson turned over the reigns of the famed Stagecoaches to Major Charlie P. Fleming in an impressive change of command ceremony. The ceremony was attended by various military representatives and civilian guests. On 3 March a lift helicopter, number 65-59927 lost power on an approach to a landing zone. Five of the passengers and crew members on board received minor injuries. The aircraft was totally destroyed in the resulting fire. On 16 March, while participating in a combat assault west of Pleiku, a flight element of the l55th came under intense enemy fire. Two aircraft were seriously damaged by hostile rounds and one other was shot down and burned upon contact. The Company suffered two KIA and two WIA during the fierce engagement with the enemy. "I saw the ship going down with flames billowing from the engine compartment. Then it hit the trees and fell through the Canopy. We noticed a small clearing about 200 meters from the crash and set our ship down in it. The crew chief and I jumped from our ship, he with his M-6o machine gun and I with my M-l6." This was the way 1LT Richard Sperling described the action after the l55th Huey crashed after being hit by enemy ground fire during Operation Sam Houston on that eventful day in March. The survivors of the ill-fated mission may well owe their lives to the fast action taken by Lt. Sperling and his crew chief, SP5 Michael Baucom, who unhesitatingly went to their rescue with complete disregard for the enemy mortars that were trying desperately to destroy the downed crew. These actions are indicative of the characteristics displayed by all personnel of the 155th Assault Helicopter Company.   On 18 March a helicopter in a return flight from Nha Trang was forced to auto-rotate into the jungle east of Ban Me Thuot. No injuries resulted in the accident but the aircraft was destroyed by a grass fire. On 20 March an armed helicopter crashed on take-off from Ban Me Thuot and was destroyed. Again on 24 March another armed helicopter was crippled by enemy fire and crashed into a secure 1andlng zone. There were no injuries in this accident.   On 29, March the company terminated its support of Operation Sam Houston and returned to Ban Me Thuot,carrying with them many memories that shall never be forgotten during that eventful month of March 1967.   General: During these three months the company operated in all area of the II Corps Tactica1 Zone supporting American,Korean,and Vietnamese combat units. The period is characterized by the company's mobility and by its noteworthy accomplishment of severa1 major troop movements as the various it supported conducted company, battalion, and even regimental size operations.   April: The first part of April was uneventfu1 except for one incident that took p1ace on 3 April while the 155th was supporting the 101st Airborne Division in the Khanh Duong area. One aircraft was hit by enemy fire and wounded the crew chief. He was immediate1y evacuated to the 8th Field Hospital in Nha Trang and was later released for duty.   On 11 April the 155th terminated its brief but eventfu1 support of the 101st Infantry Division (Abn) and 23rd ARVN Division operations in the southern Darlac Plateau. The company immediately began to prepare for a unit size move to Ninh Hoa to begin support of the 9th Republic of Korea division. The move, consisting of all flight elements, platoons and representatives from all supporting detachments, began on 11 April when an advanced party flew to Ninh Hoa and was briefed by the command of the 176th Assault Helicopter Company which had been working with the ROK's since their arrival in country. With instructions to be operational by 1200 hours on 12 April, the rest of the company left Ban Me Thuot the morning of the 12th. The main body of the company was followed by six "Chinook" sorties of supplies and maintenance equipment.   On 1 May the company assumed the mission of direct support of II Corps Headquarters with the mission to provide combat to Vietnamese and other allied units throughout the II Corps Tactical Zone. A 1ight team of armed Helicopters and at least one transport helicopter were assigned for an indefinite period to the MACV Advisory Team in Lam Dong Province. This gun team was credited with 34 enemy kills during the months while conducting their unique area clearing operations in that area. On 1 May the company inserted a reinforced battta1ion of the 23rd ARVN Training Division with artillery into two landing zones northwest of Bao Loc, Lam Dong Province. A heavy team of company guns( Falcons ) were credited with 25 confirmed enemy kills and the destruction of 40 enemy bunkers. Later during the lift, one company aircraft crashed on touchdown to a sloping area. The aircraft was totally destroyed and 5 passengers died as a result of wounds sustained in the accident. None of the crew members were injured.   On 6-7 and 13-14 May, the company inserted two battalions of the 23rd ARVN Infantry Division with artillery into the area southeast of Bao Loc. The major lift was accomplished over a two day period. Later the company extracted the two battalions in another two day operation. The company also conducted combat assaults with the 23rd ARVN Infantry division near the Cheo Reo valley during the month of May. On 13 May, material failure of a transmission drive shaft caused one of the company's aircraft to crash as it was returning to home base from a combat assault. The aircraft commander subsequently died of injuries sustained in the accident. The two other crew members received only minor injuries. (The following article appeared in the May 67 edition of the Army Reporter): BAN ME THUOT (1ST AVN-IO)- A Vietnamese civilian helped save the lives of four Americans from the burning wreckage of an Army helicopter here recently. The helicopter mishap occurred when a UH-1C gunship was attempting a takeoff from Ban Me Thuot City Airfield. It lost power and crashed in a sparsely populated area. No civilians were hurt. Phan Van Ngong, an employee of Pacific Architects and engineers, was the first to arrive at the crash scene. A few moments later the crash rescue unit from nearby Camp Coryell arrived and started to put out the fire. Ignoring the flames from the burning chopper, two members of the crash rescue team, Sp4 and Sp4 Leonard Jones stared to pull the crew members to safety, Mr. Ngong joined them and rescued the gunner just as the intense heat of the fire detonated the chopper's ammunition. Major Charlie P. Fleming, Company commander of the 155th Assault Helicopter Company, forwarded a letter of appreciation to Mr. Ngong through the Pacific Architects and Engineers manager at Ban Me Thuot. It read in part:" I would like to take this opportunity to extend to you my deepest gratitude for your heroic efforts on behalf of the crew of the helicopter that crashed at Ban Me Thuot. Your valiant display of courage while rescuing the crew members from the burning wreckage was a source of admiration to myself and to the many friends of these men."   June: The company continued to provide support to ARVN units in the II Corps Tactical Zone, accomplishing several major lifts in the Dak To, Cheo Reo,Ban Me Thuot areas.   On 12 June, four of the company's UH-1D's and two gun ships flew to Qui Nhon to fly Premier Ky, the American Ambassador to Vietnam, and their party to ceremonies celebrating the birthday of Emperor Quang-Trung in Binh Dinh province. On 28 June the 155th flew a VIP mission for General Westmoreland to various locations surrounding the Ban Me Thuot area.   PERIOD 1 JULY - 30 SEPTEMBER 1967 General: This period saw many flying hours in support of allied in the II Corps Area under the operational control of II Corps head quarters. The company operated from such varied staging areas as Bao Loc, Ban Me Thuot, Cheo Reo, Qui Nhon, Phan Rang, Hue and, Phu Bai. This period also began a series of attacks of the Camp Coryell Compound.   July: On 5 July 13 transport he1icopters and 4 armed ships of the 155th were joined by CH-47's to lift a total of l,450 troops of the 23rd ARVN Infantry Division into 4 landing zones along highway #14 between Duc Lap and Gia Nhia in the south central highlands. The lift, which was an attempt to clear the route for a convoy,required 300 slick sorties of troops for a total of l42 hours flown that day. Although ground fog in in the operational area prevented the lift from proceeding according to schedule at first,it was accomplished without incident.   On 9 July, 13 of the company's transport helicopters and 4 of the gun ships were attached to the 10th Aviation Battalion for a major operation conducted by the Capitol Division of the Army of the Republich of Korea south of Qui Nhon. The company lifted a total of 610 Koreans into a landing area along the coast from which they were to conduct sweeping search and destoy maneuvers. On 13 July, 11 transport helicopters and 3 gun ships of the company had their first experience with Naval gun support when they lifted 350 troops of the 23rd ARVN Division into 2 landing zones south of Phan Rang.   On 24 July the company gun ships were engaged by enemy fire while on a search and destroy mission near Bao Loc in Lam Dong Province. One of the ships was forced down into the jungle where an enemy force estimated to be two companies in strength was located. Another company aircraft braved the intense enemy fire to rescue the downed crew. The other gun ship limped back to the secure airfield where it landed safely. The two gun ships were responsible for at leash 85 enemy deaths before they were forced out of action.   August: On 12 August,7 company lift ships were working with the 10th Aviation Battalion staging a combat assault near Tuy Hoa. The company was credited with relocating elements of the Capital ROK Division in the mountains southwest of Tuy Hoa.   On 26 August, 2355 hours, Camp Coryell was the target of an enemy mortar attack during the final minutes of 26 August 1967. 23 mortar rounds exploded inside the perimeter of the compound, damaging some maintenance facilities and several aircraft. None of the rounds struck the cantonment area which houses the men of the compound. There were no injuries to military personnel,however 10 adults and 4 children living in a housing project south of the compound were injured. The attack left a total of 10 wounded,and 4 dead among the civilian population. The surprise attack lasted only three minutes. Two gun ships and a flare ship were immediately dispatched but failed to detect any activity in the area. The enemy force, suspected to be a small strike force, hit and ran.   On 21 August, 6 lift helicopters and 4 gun ships extracted 100 CIDG Special Forces troops from Duc Lap in Darlac Province. As the transport flight lifted out of the Duc Lap landing zone on the first lift, hostile fire was received. Two of the company aircraft were and returned immediately to the airfield. The other aircraft, commanded by Warrant Officer Steve Owens, was forced down into a clearing in the jungle when it lost oil pressure. The aircraft was receiving fire when it touched down in the clearing from enemy fire in the tree line. One of the passengers was wounded by the fire. The remainder of the flight followed Warrant Officer Owens into the clearing and their passengers secured the area within ten minutes. Two hours later the damaged aircraft was removed, but the CIDG Commander decided to take the opportunity to stalk the enemy and remained on the target which had been inadvertently offered him. Warrant Officer Owens said of the action, "It was close,but how many times can you get shot down and have your own line company follow you in? We were receiving heavy fire on the ground. Had it not been for the quick reaction of those CIDG, my crew would not be alive today."   September: On 5 September a veteran pilot, CWO Robert H. Holt celebrated his 5OOOth air hour. His 5000th hour was logged while f1ying a combat support mission with the 155th in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. The 15th of September brought unlimited activity for the armed platoon (Falcons). While working with the CIDG, two gun ships conducted a recon when 500 meters from the LZ one ship received enemy fire. When the light gun team circled back they observed two armed men scurrying through the bushes. They engaged in a rapid exchange of fire, and gave the friendly patrol ample time to get to them before they could take the information they had observed to their superiors.   On 17 September two lift ships were conducting a visible recon for preparation of a combat assault later in the day. While observing, the two ships began receiving intense enemy fire. Immediately upon receiving word of the incident the 155th operations dispatched 7 lift ships and 2 gun ships to the area. During the heavy exchange of fire company ships received hits. There were no injuries to the crew.   On 22 September, the 155th prepared for a move to the Hue,Phu Bai area in support of Special Forces. During this operation on 25 September,during an exchange of fire, crew chief John Gann was critically wounded and his gunner, SP4 Vincent McDonough displayed an extraordinary amount of heroism while under fire. Without regard for his own safety SP4 McDonough saved the life of his crew chief by exposing himself to hostile automatic weapons fire while applying his knowledge of emergency first aid. On 27 September the company again returned home to Ban Me Thuot.   OCTOBER - 31 DECEMBER 1967 General: This period was characterized by a continuing commitment of aircraft to the II Corps Tactical one. Several major troop movements were accomplished, including the battle of Dak To and Hill 875.   October: The month of October brought few significant events other than the routine support of the allied troops of the 23rd ARVN Infantry Division in the areas of Bao Loc and Ban Me Thuot.On 19 October a command and control ship from Bao Loc enroute to Ban Me Thuot by way of Dalat, ran into a considerable amount of bad weather. The ship lost RPM and crashed into a tree. Four Vietnamese were killed and two of the crew received minor injuries.   November: On 3 November the 155th conducted a combat assault in the vicinity of Kontum, utilizing 8 lift helicopters and 4 gun ships. 60 troops of the 22nd ARVN Infantry Division were inserted and 250 troops were extracted in 120 aircraft sorties. The operation was conducted without incident.   The 6th of November brought the second change of command for 1967.Under clear skies and before the massed troops,the guidon was passed from Major Charlie P. Fleming to Major Billy A. Goodall. Also passed the guidon of the 165th Transportation Detachment to Major Eugene P. Malkoff. The ceremony concluded with remarks by the departing commanders and martial music provided by the 23rd ARVN Infantry Division band.   November also brought another enemy attack when Camp Coryell was again pounded by 50 rounds of enemy mortar fire. No personnel received injuries. The company lost several helicopters and other equipment as a result of the attack. Ten s1icks and four gun ships conducted a combat assault in the Bao Loc area for the 11th Ranger Battalion on 13 November. 729 troops were lifted without incident in 226 sorties. The Falcons were credited with 20 enemy killed during the mission. On 14 November the 155th returned to complete their mission in the same area. Two gun ships received hits from automatic weapons fire and were forced down. Two crew members were wounded in action aboard one of the gun ships. The damaged aircraft were recovered the following day.   December: On 9 December the company left before dawn to go to the aid of a besieged outpost in the Tuyen Duc Sector. Several United States advisors had been trapped and it was feared they were either killed or captured. The 155th immediately inserted elements of the 101st Airborne Division. This mission was accomplished without incident.   On 24 December three lift ships and four gun ships deployed to Pleiku and spent Christmas in the Pleiku area. On Christmas day those ships took part in the air mission supporting the visit of Army chief of Staff. The 155th provided helicopter support and gun ship for the Chief of Staff during his overnight visit in the Ban Me Thuot area.   The 31st of December marked the end of the 3rd year for the 155th Assault Helicopter Company and its detachments. From then until 2 January 1968, the 155th relaxed and readied for the new year.     STATISTICS 155TH ASSAULT HELICOPTER COMPANY 1 January 1967 - 31 December 1967 Combat hours flown 26,817 Combat sorties 67,176 Total passengers 100,744 Total cargo 3,064 tons