1968 part2

  History Of The 155th Assault Helicopter Company   Approved by Bobby L. Moore Maj Inf Commanding   1 Jan-31 Dec 1968   Written by SP/4 Royce J. Campbell Unit Historian   Forward       Serving as a combat support avaition unit in the Republic of Vietnam, the 155th AHC, with its supporting detachments, is similar to many other aviation units of the same size and structure.   Under the names "Stagecoach" and "Falcons" the men of this proud company have spread their reputation for accomplishing their mission while maintaining the highest of safety standards and maintenance availability throughout the Republic of Vietnam. From Dong Ha in the north to Soc Trang in the south, from the fertile coast to the Cambodian border, they have flown over 75,000 hours in support of the allied forces combating the threat of Communism in South East Asia.   The 155th Compound, Camp Coryell, at Ban Me Thuot, is looked upon by all members of the unit with pride and pleasure. Kept in a high state of police and boasting modern and well equipped clubs, a theatre and volley ball courts. The 155th AHC has been most fortunate in being able to establish good social and professional relations with the people of Ban Me Thuot. The men have been most cooperative in abiding with local laws and curfews.   This history is dedicated to all those men who have served and are serving with the 155th AHC and its detachments since its arrival in Vietnam, with special tribute to those officers , warrant officers and enlisted men who gave their lives in defense of their country.       Preface       Since 6 Dec 1968 it has been my my privilege to command the 155th AHC. 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 esprit 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 the US and 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 1968. Company pilots, crews, and aircraft flew a maximum 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 and sacrifices in the full year's efforts of 1968.   It is my privilege to write this preface to the 155th's unit history for 1968. The unit history which began a good many flying hours and DEROS dates ago at Ft. Riley, Kansas, and which is being made daily here in Vietnam is keeping with the highest traditions of Army Aviation and the United States Army   Bobby L. Moore Maj Inf Commanding   1 Jan-31 March The morale of the members of the 155th AHC and its supporting detachments at Camp Coryell, Ban Me Thuot, has been exceptionally high as evidenced during the last 2 days of Jan. This was the beginning of the Vietnamese Tet holiday season, and along with the holiday season came a constant series of attacks on Camp Coryell. Both the officers and enlisted men worked around the clock to counteract these attacks and to defend the airfield. Since the compound is composed primarily of aviation units, there was much to be learned about ground combat operations. Each man was willing to learn and continued to do so with very little rest during the period. High morale and individual aggressiveness were contributing factors to the overall success of the defense of the 155th AHC and its supporting detachments. The "Stagecoachers" proved themselves to be effective Infantrymen as well as exemplary aviators.   The Stagecoachers celebrated New Years Day with a stand down in recognition of the unit's outstanding safety record. It was a quiet beginning to what was to become a hectic period for the 155th.   At 0245 on 4 Jan 1968, Camp Coryell was again attacked with 82mm mortars and ground elements firing B-40 rockets. Fortunately no caualties were suffered on the compound, but some 46 rounds of hostile fire destroyed 2 UH-1H helicopters, and damaged 10 other UH-1H helicopters. Additionally 2 transient Dustoff ships also incurred damage while parked overnight in the corral. Several buildings and vehicles were damaged or destroyed. The company had been poised in readiness to support Operation Thien Bo on 5 Jan. With a significant amount of damage inflicted by this attack, the 165th Transportation Detachment and the 155th Service Platoon proved their responsiveness and ability in meeting the challenge of having sufficient mission ready aircraft to support this operation on 6 Jan, with superior maintenance effort.   On 6 Jan 1968, the company conducted its largest combat assault in several months of operation. 11 lift helicopters of the 155th and 5 aircraft from the 92nd AHC provided the assault ships for this lift; which was in conjunction with Operation Thien Bo 1/68, a joint 23rd ARVN Div and 14th Ranger Group Operation. 5 Falcon UH-1C's were utilized for landing zone pre-strike along with VNAF A-1E's. The gunships provided suppressive fire and continous air cover for the air assault operation. A total of 850 troops of the 11th and 22nd Ranger Battalions were lifted in 240 sorties.   An additional 190 troops from the 1/45 regiment were lifted from Ban Bleck into another one-ship LZ which was to be set up as a Fire Support Base. The Pathfinder Detachment worked for several hours clearing this LZ so that 4 CH-47's from the 180th ASHC could airlift 4 tubes of 105 howitzers along with necessary ammunition and supplies to establish this base. The 155th Service Platoon provided refueling facilities at both PZ's to support the operation. The entire mission was accomplished on time and without incident.   For the duration of Operation Thien Bo 1/68 from 6 Jan through 13 Jan 1968, the 155th provided a daily compliment of 5 UH-1H and 2 UH-1C helicopters. These aircraft provided the ground commander with a responsive and flexible airmobile force which was employed to take maximum advantage of the tactical situation as it developed.   On 11 Jan the company extracted the Fire Support Base which had been established on 6 Jan. This was accomplished with 8 lift helicopters escorted by 4 armed gunships. 4 CH-47's were again detached to lift the artillery and heavy equipment. A total of 90 aircraft sorties were flown without incident.   5 lift helicopters accompanied by a light gun team extracted 140 troops of the 23rd ARVN Div on 13 Jan. The mission was successfully completed in 85 sorties.   Also on 13 Jan, 6 UH-1H and 2 UH-1C helicopters of the company returned to Dak To and extracted a 4th INf Div FSB. In 85 sorties, some 450 troops were lifted out without difficulty.   On 17 Jan at 0125 hours, Camp Coryell was again subject to an enemy mortar attack. A total of 26 rounds fell in or adjacent to the compound. There were no casualties, however 5 UH-1H helicopters received light to moderate damage. 3 transient aircraft of the 92nd AHC were also damaged along with the 165th maintenance office and orderly room.   The intensive attack on Ban Me Thuot and the adjacent airfield began on 30 Jan at 0150 hours. At this time both flare and gunships were ordered airborne in support of various check points and outposts under attack. At 0200 hours the 155th went to 100% alert, and at 0250 hours approximately 20 rounds of hostile mortar fire fell on the city airfield complex. Small arms fire was encountered throughout the night. 8 aircraft were damaged by hostile fire. The Falcon gunships not yet commited were ordered aloft at 0300 hours. They were later credited with destroying 2 enemy 82mm mortar positions. Flare and gunships flew throughout the night in support of Darlac Sector and the 23rd ARVN Div.   At 0815 hours a Falcon aircraft piloyted by WO1 Ian Lindsey and WO1 Lawrence Hanna was downed by hostile fire 2 miles south of Ban Me Thuot. A 165th recovery aircraft along with a Dustoff ship were dispatched to the scene, and several ships already in the air were diverted to the location to help defend the downed crew which had been forced to land in a highly insecure area. At 0830 hours, while taking off to direct recovery operations, Major Billy R. Goodall was wounded when his aircraft was engaged by hostile automatic weapons fire. The downed gunship crew was finally extracted at 0930 hours. Intense hostile activity precluded any attempt to recover the aircraft, and necessitated its destruction later in the day. While returning from the crash scene, the 165th recovery aircraft was credited with 15 KIA's when it's door gunners engaged a VC force caught in the open.   At 1330 hours another UH-1C was damaged and the crew chief wounded by enemy anti-aircraft fire. The aircraft completed its fire mission and then returned to home station for repairs. While landing on the city airfield at 1830 hours, WO1 Teaford received facial wounds when his UH-1H aircraft was hit by automatic weapons fire.   From 2300 hours 30 Jan to 0400 hours 31 Jan the Falcon gunships gave continual support to the 23rd ARVN Inf Div in the Ban Me Thuot vicinity. During this time these 2 UH-1C's sustained 32 hits from hostile fire. They were credited with silencing 2 enemy machine guns.   At 1600 the water pumping station SE of the compound was lost to the VC, and 155th personnel were withdrawn from that location. Another mortar attack hit the compound at 1820 hours, but caused no damage.   On 1 Feb 1968, at 0210 Camp Coryell came under attack by mortar fire. 20 rounds fell within the limits of the compound causing 6 casualities, 2 of which required medevac. 5 aircraft and several structures were also damaged. Compound defense consisted of small arms, defensive 81mm mortar concentrations, and flare and gunships.   On 2 Feb at 0310 hours 25 mortar rounds fell on the compound. There were no casualities as most personnel were already in bunkers. Gun and flare ships were used in defense of the area. Aircraft damage included 2 UH-1H's and one UH-1C heavily damaged and 3 UH-1H's moderately damaged.   Also on 2 Feb at 1400 hours, a combat assault departed Ban Me Thuot airstrip. The flight of 6 UH-1H lift ships was led by 1LT Jerry Daniels and gunship cover was provided by 2 AF gunships from East Field. The mission was in support of an element of the 503rd Inf and consisted of moving in a force to secure an area south of Ban Me Thuot to be used as a fire base. The mission was accomplished without incident.   On 4 Feb the 155th flew a combat assault in support of one Battalion of the 73rd Airborne. 1LT David Rutledge led aflight of 6 UH-1H and 2 UH-1C's. 2 manuever companies were successfully moved from the field to a fire base for further deployment.   On 5 Feb at 0150 hours 20 mortar rounds fell on the compound. Personnel on the compound were on alert and were in bunkers and no casualties were incurred. Aircraft damage included one UH-1H with moderate damage and one UH-H with light damage.   Another attack took place at 2240 hours when 30 mortar rounds fell in the aircraft parking area and catonement area. 8 casualties were incurred during this attack, all sustained by personnel making their way to the bunkers. Gunships and a flare ship were again employed in defense of the compound.   The second week of Feb was one of rebuilding and recovering from the Tet attack. Maintenance personnel worked feverishly to repair battle damage to aircraft and vehicles. Compound personnel worked along with PA&E employees to restore eletricity, water supply and sanitation services, as well as improving the defense posture and perimeter fortifications.   During the night of 14 Feb, 2 Falcon gunships were dispatched in response to a request from the 503rd Inf FSB for air support to assist in repulsing an attack on their location. These 2 gunships flew 40 sorties from 0130 to 0400 hours and were credited with 15 enemy KBA. As a token of appreciation the crews were later presented a B-40 rocket launcher and a light machine gun captured in this action. These war trophies are now on display in the Officer's Club.   On 17 Feb, 8 lift ships escorted by a light gun team, flew 124 combat sorties in support of Phu Bon Province Senior Advisor. Over 240 troops and 9 tons of cargo were lifted in this operation without incident.   Elements of the 155th deployed to Qui Nhon on 19 Feb to support the 22nd ARVN Div. In 35 sorties some 197 troops were inserted and later the same day extracted to their staging area at Bagi Airfield. The following day a similar combat assault was conducted and successfully completed.   The company sufferd its first mortar attack since Tet at 0115 hours on 23 Feb. An estimated 53 rounds of 82mm mortar fire were received, causing damage to several aircraft.   The 2nd Airlift Platton accomplished a combat assault for the 23rd ARVN Div accompanied by 2 UH-1C gunships at Tuy Hoa on 23 Feb. This mission was accomplished utilizing 5 UH-1C helicopters to airlift the 180 troops involved. It was completed without incident.   On 26 Feb the Falcons were credited with 10 enemy KBA and 5 military structures destroyed when they exploited intelligence from the Darlac RDC office on hostile location in the local area. The local RDC/PRU teams have afforded the 155th with some highly useful and reliable intelligence.   2 March 1968, found 5 slicks and 2 gunships back at Cheo Reo for an insertion of 215 troops in 75 sorties. These troops were extracted from a pick up area on 4 March and returned to the Cheo Reo airstrip.   At 0350 hours on 4 March the compound was again subjected to an enemy 82mm mortar attack. A total of 86 rounds fell on the compound during the nightlong attack in which B-40 rockets and bangalore torpedoes were employed to breach the perimeter. A satchel charge team infiltrated through the R&U yard, killing a Korean PA&E employee, but they were repelled by a reaction force. Other attempts by hostile elements to penetrate the perimeter proved futile, and NVA casualities were 8 KIA along with an unknown number of wounded. Numerous weapons and items of equipment were captured. The 155th suffered 2 fatal casualities, both assigned to detachment 10, 5th Weather Squadron which was attached to the company at that time. The 185th Recon Airplane Co also lost one enlisted member in the attack. Additionally, some 31 personnel on the compound were wounded, 15 of which were serious enough to warrant medevac. Since the mortar rounds were directed at the cantonement area, there was no aircraft damage, however numerous structures and vehicles were damaged or destroyed.   On the afternoon of 4 March, while hovering out of the revetments, a UH-1H meshed main rotor blades with an adjacent helicopter, causing major damage to both aircraft along with a third aircraft which was struck by flying debris. One pilot required medical evacuation for head injuries.   The company conducted an Eagle Flight in Cheo Reo area on 10 March for the Senior Advisor of Phu Bon Province. 186 PF troops were airlifted in 54 sorties.   On 13 March at 2220 hours the 155th AHC compound was again attacked by a hostile force employing 82mm mortars. An estimated 81 rounds were fired in 4 separate barrages. There were 20 WIA on the compound and one of the unit's NCO's was killed as a result of this action. Again no aircraft were damaged since all the rounds fell in the cantonement area. Major Billy R. Goodall, 155th Commanding Officer was wounded in both legs and required medical attention resulting in his ultimate evacuation to CONUS. He was replaced by Major Urbach, Jr., formerly Executive Officer, who assumed command.   On 16 March, 8 UH-1H and 2 UH-1C helicopters supported ARVN elements at Cheo Reo. In a combat assault 128 troops were inserted in 26 aircraft sorties. The following day some 209 troops were extracted by company aircraft in 54 combat sorties without incident.   Elements of the unit displaced to Bao Loc on 18 March to conduct a combat assault for the Lam Dong Sector Advisory Team. Some 180 PF troops were lifted in 28 sorties, and the mission was successfully accomplished despite the marginal weather.   The 1st Platoon of the 155th supported B-23 Special Forces Detachment on 19 March in the vicinity of Ban Me Thuot. In an operation conducted against the 32nd NVA Regiment, 260 CIDG forces were airlifted in 42 sorties.   On 22 March the 2nd airlift platoon flew to Song Cau on the coast to conduct an airmobile mission for the Phu Yen Province Advisory Team. 190 PF troops were lifted in 30 sorties.   24 March was a full day for the company. The 2nd flight platoon left early in the morning for Cheo Reo where they lifted 486 troops with 7 UH-1H helicopters, logging 104 combat assault sorties in very hazy weather. They returned too Ban Me Thuot and during the afternoon flew in support of SF B-23, airlifting 138 CIDG troops in 14 sorties. Meanwhile, the 1st platoon conducted a combat assault for the 23rd ARVN Div. 5 slicks and 4 gunships were employed to lift 170 ARVN Inf in 60 aircraft sorties.   The company again exerted a maximum effort on 25 March which was to be a long and memorable day. 5 aircraft of the 1st platoon and 2 Falcons departed before dawn for Kontum to stage a combat assault for ARVN units in that area, lifting 198 troops in 24 sorties. Upon return, they were joined by an additional 3 slicks and 2 gunships, and dispatched to Ban Don to support SF Mobile Strike Force elements in contact with the 32nd NVA Regiment HQ. In a valiant action, the company lifted 185 CIDG reinforcements into a insecure LZ while under heavy fire, and then returned to provide ammunition and medical supplies and evacuate wounded. During this action CPT Robert A. Albracht, Operations Officer, employed his C&C aircraft to make low level gun runs over the enemy position in response to an urgent request by overwhelmed allied forces for air support. For their valorous acts both CPT Albracht and his crew were subsequently recommended for decorations by SF observers.   Upon the completion of this mission, all aircraft diverted to Duc Lap in response to a tactical emergency declared by SF's and CIDG elements there who were under enemy contact. A total of 106 CIDG troops were air lifted in 11 sorties. During this action CW2 James Goss of the 155th distinguished himself by valarous deeds and was recommended for the DFC.   In a seperate action on this date, 2 UH-1C gunships again acting on current intelligence reports with local RDC advisors, struck at a suspected NVA medical facility south of Ban Me Thuot. They were credited with 7 KBA and 12 WIA in this action.   On 26 March, 6 UH-1H and 2 UH-1C aircraft provided Army Aviation support for the Phu Bon Province MACV Team. Flying 42 sorties out of Cheo Reo airfield they lifted 281 troops and 2400 pounds of cargo in a combat assault. The Falcon gunships were credited with 10 enemy KBA and 5 structures destroyed in this operation.   On 28 and 29 March company aircraft lifted 507 troops out of Cheo Reo for the Phu Bon Province Team. A total of 140 combat sorties were logged without incident.