1969 part 1
Preface On 26 Dec 1969, I assumed command of the 155th Aviation Company (Assault Helicopter). Since that date, I never cease to be amazed by the professionalism, dedication and Esprit De Corps that exists within this unit. A unit history is non-existant without the daily, often times mundane, activities of flying. These missions run the gauntlet from VIP support, command and control to providing a transportation service to indiginous tribesman. Periodically though, the ultimate test for for any any unit must be experienced combat. Throughout the pages of this history for 1969, the officers and men of the 155th continually met the test and never faltered in denying the communist forces victory. No unit is comprised of machines and equipment, but rather a unit consists of men. These men, for the most part non-careerest, come from all walks and stations of life. Their education, ethnic background and religious beliefs may differ but as soldiers they have arrived in the Republic of Vietnam and made this unit what it is- a cohesive, aggressive team. It is to these men, who daily make history, that this document is dedicated. It is also dedicated to future members of the 155th so that they too may see what their predecessors accomplished and enable them to continue carrying forward the ideals of freedom. Gerald H. Luisi Major Inf Commanding History of the 155th AHC APO San Francisco 96297 Written by: WO Bruce McInnes Unit Historian Approved by: Gerald H. Luisi Maj Inf Commanding 1 JANUARY -31 March 1969 The new year started off with a bang at Camp Coryell,in keeping with the expected pre-Tet offensive. At 2100 hours on 2 Jan, Camp Coryell came under its first hostile attack of the year when 10 rounds of 82mm mortar fire fell on or near the compound. This attack resulted in negative casualities or damage to equipment or structures. On 3 Jan, at 0150 hours, less than five hours after the first attack, four rounds of B-40 rockets struck the compound, also with negative damage. On 6 Jan, Camp Coryell again came under enemy mortar attack. 14 rounds of 82mm mortars struck the compound from unknown enemy positions. Six UH-IH's were damaged and one vehicle damaged in the attack. Attacked again on 8 Jan at 2310 hours, by an unknown size enemy force using 82mm mortars,20 rounds struck the the compound, damaging 3 structures and wounding 2 men, one of whom died as a result of his wounds. During the month of Feb, Camp Coryell was relatively free from enemy attacks. However, on 23, Feb at 0100 hours, 30 rounds of 82mm mortars impacted on the compound from an unknown enemy locations. Negative damage resulted. In March the tempo picked up again, with Camp Coryell receiving 6 mortar and rocket attacks. The first on 4 March, occured at 2310 hours. 20 mortars were fired with no damage. Later that night, on 5 March at 0130 hours, 14 rounds of 75mm recoilless were received, damaging 5 aircraft. At 2145 on 12 March the 155th again came under light attack. Negative damage resulted from the 2 B-40 rockets received. The same night, at 0045 hours on 15 March, we were attacked again. This time 7 rounds of 82mm mortars struck the compound, resulting in damage to 5 UH-1H's and UH-1C's. On the morning of 21 March at 0130 hours, 15 rounds of 75mm recoilless rifle landed in the compound, damaging 1 UH-1C. On Sun 23 March, the 155 was attacked in the midst of a company party. As personnel were broiling steaks and opening beer, 6 rounds of 122mm rockets landed in the compound. 4 enlisted men were wounded during this attack. The 155th Aviation Company during the period 1 Jan-31 March continued to provide support for the 23rd ARVN Division and other units with operations in Darlac, Tuyen Duc, Khanh Hoa, and Phu Bon provinces. In addition, the 155th supported Special Forces, and 4th Infantry Division elements in the Pleiku-Kontum Province area. On 3 Jan a 155 aircraft crashed into a mountain between Ban Me Thuot and Dalat, after going IFR in low clouds. The pilot died in the crash and the aircraft commander, crew chief, and gunner were seriously injured. On 5 Jan the 155th participated in multibattalion combat assault just north of Ban Me Thuot. Providing 10 slicks and 4 guns, the company airlifted 611 troops in 309 sorties in support of the 23rd ARVN Division and 2/35, 4th Infantry Division. On 17 Jan the 155th provided 9 slicks and 2 guns to the 45th ARVN Regiment, 23rd ARVN Division for a combat assault south of Ban Me Thuot. The assault was continued on 18 Jan because of weather delays the previous day with 6 slicks and and 2 guns. The 155th lifted 1041 troops in 446 sorties during the 2 day operation. Following up with the daily logistic and gun support, the 155th Falcons were credited with 6 enemy killed by aircraft and 4 structures destroyed. During the Jan-March quarter, the 155th provided combat assault support to units of B-23 (SF) and the 45th Infantry regiment (ARVN) in areas near Gia Nghia, Nhon Co, Duc Lap, Lac Thien, Bu Prang, Duon Ho, Buon Black, and Quang Nhieu. On 6 April, at 2320 hours, Camp Coryell came under enemy attack. 14 rounds of 82mm struck the compound, damaging 8 UH-1H aircraft and 2 UH-1C gunships. Also damaged were 2 vehicles. Again, on 25 April, the 155th was target of enemy attack. 10 rounds of 82mm mortars struck the compound, damaging 4 UH-1H aircraft, 2 vehicles and 2 structures. During the month of May, Camp Coryell fell victim to enemy mortar attack on only 2 dates, being hit 3 times in the same day on one instance. On 16 May, at 0005 hours, 14 rounds of 82mm mortar struck the compound. 3 UH-1H's and 2 UH-1C gunships were damaged at this time. One EM was wounded and was medevaced. At 0130 hours, 5 rounds 82mm were received, this time with negative damage. Again, at 2000 hours, the 155 received incoming mortars, 15 in number. In addition, small arms fire was directed at the compound. The POL storage facility received minor damage as a result. On 22 May, at 0115 hours, Camp Coryell came under combined mortar and sapper attack. A total of 56 rounds of 60 and 82mm mortars, B-40 and B-41 rockets, and 75mm recoilless struck the compound. A small sapper team entered the compound in the PA&E area, and were able to damage or destroy 8 structures and 9 vehicles. 2 aircraft received major damage, and 2 received minor damage as a result. One civilian was slightly wounded. June of 69 was the first month since Sept of 68 that the enemy failed to attack Camp Coryell. The 155 remained alert, however, because of the continous attacks on Ban Me Thuot City and outlying areas. In April, the 155thflew its aircraft in its normal support role for units throuhout II Corps Tactical Zone. The second half of April, however was marked by a tremendous upsurge of enemy activity. This resulted in the 155th providing aircraft for 22 combat assaults for B-23 (SF) 45 Regiment, 23rd ARVN Division and Darlac Sector. The 155th also began supporting B-50 SP in their operations. Most of the support for Tank Force Wood, operating in the vicinity of Bu Prang, came from the 155th. May brought about the end of our support to Task Force Wood, with 155th "Stagecoach" Slicks and "Falcon" Gunships removing the last of TFW's troops from Bu Prang area on 18 May. A total of 18 combat assaults were conducted throughout May in support of TF Wood, 2 MSF, B-23 (5 SFG) and 45 Regiment (23ARVN Division). On 23 May, 3 ships supporting B-50 (SF) were hit by ground fire, causing one to be a total loss with loss of 2 crew members and 2 passengers. The company had a total of 8 aircraft damaged on combat missions in May. During the month of June, in addition to the steady daily support of units in its normal area of operations, the 155th provided aircraft for a total of 16 combat assaults. The largest of these occured on 21 June, when the 155th provided 5 slicks and 2 guns, moving over 900 troops to an area SW of Ban Me Thuot. The 155th also provided 2 Stagecoach slicks and 2 Falcon Gunships in support of daily intelligence-gathering "Sniffer" operations. Although Camp Coryell did not come under enemy attack in June, Ban Me Thuot City and outlying hamlets and installations were hit hard by the enemy. These attacks necessitated the launching of 4 gunships and a flare ship on round-the-clock support of the beseiged village south of Ban Me Thuot at Lac Thien. During one of the night support missions, a command and control aircraft with several passengers on board ran into IFR conditions on approach to Lac Thien airstrip. The aircraft crashed into the lake and overturned. Miraculously, no one was injured, although the aircraft was completetly destroyed. In a daring rescue, the 155th commander hovered near the wrecked aircraft and allowed the wet survivors to board his aircraft. The 155, during the second quarter of 1969 did much work aimed at improving living and working conditions for its assigned personnel at Camp Coryell. Some of the improvements were: All structures on the post were completely repainted,the COC was renovated and further protected with a chain link fence, flare pots were installed to light the runway at night, all the revetments were topped with SSP, the defensive perimeter was strengthened with additional wire barriers and the introduction of a .50 caliber machine gun on top of the Air Force observation tower, many new bunkers were constucted so that there is sufficient bunker space for all personnel during attacks, The revetment area and many areas of the cantonment area were resurfaced with peneprime, a gas chamber was constructed for gas mask tests, a 25 meter small arms test firing range was instituted, a new dayroom was built and stocked with recreational equipment and books,and the company swimming pool, inactive for the past year, was relined, refilled, and the area around it was repaved. It was officially reopened the last week in May, with the 155th Commander, Major Bobby L. Moore, being the first to take the plunge. To his regret, he forgot to get his clothes off in time. On 25 June Major Booby Moore relinguished command of the 155th to Major Dean N. Owen, formerly assigned to IFFV headquaters. Major Moore was presented the Bronze Star for Service and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry.