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

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