1969 part 2

  1 July-30 Sept: After a period of seven weeks without an enemy attack on Camp Coryell, the longest period of respite the 155th had seen in 2 years, the night quiet was again broken by incoming rounds. On 23 July at 2333 hours, 5 B-40 rockets and 10 82mm mortars struck the compound. Due to increased bunker facilities, and the overdue nature of the attack, the rounds inflicted negative damage.   Again, there was a long period without enemy attack on Camp Coryell in July and Aug. Finally, the compound was attacked on 12 Aug. Early in the morning, a total of 37 rounds struck the compound, landing not only in the corral and dustbowl, but in the billeting areas as well. 10 B-40 rockets and 27 82mm mortars impacted, causing damage to 4 UH-1H’s and one UH-1C, 10 structures, and 4 vehicles. 11 personnel were wounded during the attack. Falcon gunships and a flareship were launched, but because of difficulty encountered in getting clearance to fire, returned with negative results.   The 155 was not subject to enemy attack during the entire month of Sept.. In late Aug and early Sept. of 1968, the 155-supported areas of Bu Prang and Duc Lap were the targets of a long, hard-hitting offensive by the enemy. Duc Lap in particular was the focal point of enemy activity in the 155th’s area of operations during that year.   All sources of information gathered thus far in 1969 indicated that the enemy was planning a 1969 offensive aimed once again at Duc Lap.   The end of the summer monsoon and the beginning of the winter monsoon brought about a great increase in enemy activity in large parts of the 155’s area of operation. Although the rainy weather precluded any large scale enemy activity during July and Aug, toward the end of Sept the lessening rainfall afforded the enemy greater ease of mobility, as was indicated by large troop buildups in the border areas west and SW of Duc Lap.   An enemy buildup similar to that which occured just before the battle of Duc Lap in 1968 had been evidenced by intelligence reports received from the Duc Lap- Bu Prang area. To increase our information concerning enemy activities in the areas around Bu Prang and Duc Lap, the 155 conducted numerous sniffer missions in those areas in support of the 23rd ARVN Div and B-23 (SF). Much valuable intelligence was gathered and many significant sightings were made. Several ground operations were conducted by the supported units as a result of these sniffer findings, with results.   As a result of information gathered regarding a probable enemy offensive in the Duc Lap area, the 155 was becoming increasingly committed in an attempt to provide adequate support to the units in the Ban Me Thuot support zone. Due to increased mission requirements, the 155 was given operational control of as many as 20 additional aircraft during this period. This more than doubled the mission capabilities of the 155, but put the 155 operations under a severe strain as a result.   July also marked the return of the company’s support to B-50 operations. In addition a commitment to 2nd, 3rd, and 5th Mike Strike Force was added at the time.   The resupply, sniffer, B-50, and command and control requirements placed on the 155 at this time precluded supporting any great number of combat assaults. A total of 27 were conducted within the July-Sept quarter.   On 18 July, after being inserted by 155 aircraft south of Ban Me Thuot, 2 LRRP teams came into contact with an enemy force. One Stagecoach and 2 Falcons were dispatched to the area. One gunship received damage fromground fire but the Falcon team was credited with 13 enemy killed by air during the action.   On 25 July, while supporting 4 slicks on a B-23 troop movement, a pair of gunships expended, killing 5 enemy soldiers.   The month of Aug was marked by the intensive increase of sniffer operations conducted for the intelligence gathering purposes. 2 sets of sniffer missions were run daily in and around Darlac and Quang Duc Provinces. These missions were given high priorities due to the need for gathering as much intelligence as possible on enemy movements and activities. Although, hampered by deterioting weather conditions, the results of these missions proved later to be of great assistance in planning for the coming enemy offensive.   In Sept the 155 was again given the commitment to support B-50 operations. 4 slicks and 4 guns were provided each day for the entire month for this mission.   As in July and Aug, Sept was characterized by the presence of a great number of aircraft from throughout II Corps operating in the Ban Me Thuot area. This was due to the need to provide increased tactical and logistical aviation support to units operating in the Bu Prang-Gia Nghia-Duc Lap triangle. Consequently, as many as 35 aircraft from other units were working in the Ban Me Thuot area, with 155 operations acting as controlling agency, placing an additional workload on the 155 for operational and maintenance support.   The 155th continued in its efforts to improve facilities and conditions for its personnel during this quarter. Some of the improvements were: Old bunkers were torn down and replaced with new and larger structures, concrete pavement was poured to connect all living areas, a new surface miniport area was constructed to replace the old underground system. A single line system with 7 UH-1 and one CH-47 refueling stations was put in use. The miniport now has a 20,000 gallon capacity. Renovation of the dog kennels in anticipation of the return of a K-9 security detachment, construction of guard bunkers along the south perimeter fence, installation of a minefield inside the NE perimeter, an interior guard tower was equipped with a .50 caliber machine gun and a xenon light, and rewiring of all billets.   Although perhaps a contradiction in terms, the absence of the always present enemy attacks on Camp Coryell made for an uneasy time of waiting. However, as external enemy activity increased, so did morale with the men of the 155 anticipating participation in the tactical defense of the Ban Me Thuot-Duc Lap area.   During this period, a new act of requirements was devised for the awarding of AC orders. Since the is unit safety minded, and a direct parallel to aviation safety and pilot proficiency can be made, the requirements for becoming an aircraft commander were broadened to: (1) 300 hours In-Country, (2) 5 Hours Minimum Night Time, (3) 5 hours of hood time, (4)a minimum of 2 maintainance test flights, (5) a grade of 90% or better on each of two-dash ten tests,(6) an aircraft commander checkride with company instructor pilot,(7) two mission checkrides with instuctor pilots.   This program proved to be a basis for similar programs instituted in many other aviation units.   The 155th continued in its tradition of maximum support and highest aircraft availability within the 10th Avn Bn. Average UH-1H availability July-Sept was 97.1%. Average for UH-1C for the perod was 96.5%   The last quarter of 1969 left Camp Coryell only slightly damaged by the enemy in relation to the first 9 months.   Although attacked 5 times during the period the compound suffered comparitvely little damage.   On 25 Oct, in the early morning hours, 15 rounds of 82mm mortars, struck the compound. The result was 2 UH-1H's and one UH-1C gunship, 2 buildings and 2 vehicles damaged. 5 personnel were injured, 2 of whom required medical attention.   On 10 Nov, the 155 was again attacked. 8 B-40 rockets and 17 82mm mortars struck the compound, damaging one UH-1H, 5 structures and one vehicle, and wounding 6 personnel.   The compound was attacked 3 more more times during the quarter, on 16, 25, and 30 Nov. All 3 resulted in negative damage, although a total of 37 mortar rounds impacted in the 155 area.   Due to the tremendous increase in enemy activity during the first part of Oct, and due to the buildup of resources and the strengthening of the defensive posture of friendly units, it is impossible at this time to divide he mission performed from the enemy situation.   Following is a background of friendly efforts to meet the coming offensive, included to offer a complete picture in order that the reader may fully understand the gigantic proportions of the preparations made. It must be remembered that the 155, being the local unit and main provider of aviation support in the Duc Lap-Bu Prang area, played a significant role in the building of a successful defense against the soon-to-come enemy onslaught.   The weather has been the most significant natural factor relating to the buildup of enemy forces. The summer monsoon, and the rain it brings, continued through Aug and Sept, hindering any large scale enemy activity. Oct brought with it good weather and a tremendous upsurge in enemy activity throughout the area of operations, and especially in the areas around Bu Prang and Duc Lap.   Intelligence reports indicated massive buildups of enemy forces along the western boundry of Quang Duc sector between Bu Prang and Nhon Co. Large size enemy units were reported in Cambodia north of Bu Prang and west of Duc Lap.   Great emphasis was put on gathering further information in these areas. This was accomplished by conducting seperate daily sniffer missions around Duc Lap, Bu Prang, and areas south in an extension of II Corps known as the "Death Valley of Bu Gia Map." Intelligence gathering by the 155 continued to fix locations and sizes of individual enemy units.   The questions of the intentions of the enemy were answered on 22 Oct when it became clear that the enemy was on the move. Large size units moved across from Cambodia into positions north of Bu Prang and south of Duc Lap. Large units were still massing along the Cambodian border posing a substantial artillery and standoff attack threat to the outposts of Bu Prang and Duc Lap.   On 25 Oct the enemy began his offensive. One of the 155 supported units in the area, 5/22 Artillery, in preparation for the offensive, built 6 fire bases in the Duc Lap -Bu Prang- Gia Nghia triangle; fire support bases Dory, Helen, Susan, Annie, Kate and Martha. These firebases provided support for Bu Prang and Duc Lap.   Work on those firebases began in early Sept and continued throughout Oct. Initial work was hampered by marginal weather and the difficulty of providing continous Chinook support to transport loads and equipment.   Annie and Kate were set up within 6 klicks each of Bu Prang. While these firebases could provide artillery support for Bu Prang, it became clear that they would be vulnerable to any determined enemy attack. In addition everything depended on resupply by air because the roads were not secure enough for transport. Security was for these firebases was provided by CIDG and elements of the Mike Strike Forces. All units in the area of operations were under control of the 23rd ARVN and a divisional Light Command Post was set up at Gia Nghia. B-troop, 7/17th Cav was assigned the mission of conducting "Hunter-Killer" operations in the Bu Prang- Gia Nghia area. Thus the stage was set for what developed during the last part of Oct.   The 155 and several other units in the 10th and 52nd Battalions were now responsible for inserting, exchanging and supporting the troops at these new firebases.   On 25 Oct, the enemy began his offensive. LZ Helen came under attack by a multibattalion sized unit which had been crossing the border on 22 Oct. Personnel and equipment were extracted in total from LZ Helen on 29 Oct by the 155 and OPCON units. During the extraction a large sized enemy force attacked the LZ inflicting heavy casualties. The extraction was completed on the 29th and that afternoon a regimental size enemy element moved into Helen and claimed it as theirs.   During this time LZ Annie and LZ Kate were being threatened by another regimental size unit. 155 Stagecoach aircraft continued to make medevacs under heavy fire at theses firebases. On the 30th, LZ Martha was to be removed to reinforce Duc Lap because it was under heavy attack. On the evening of the 30th Martha was relocated to Duc Lap by aircraft of the 155th and OPCON units under heavy mortar fire. Every time a ship came in to remove troops the LZ was pounded with enemy mortars. The troops were moved into LZ Mike Smith, a new FSB located at Duc Lap.   LZ Kate then became the major target of the enemy. Enemy .50 caliber and 37mm anti-aircraft positions were active all around the firebase and they took their toll of aircraft. At 0930 hours on 30 Oct Kate came under sustained enemy ground attack by at least 500 NVA.   Two Joker gunships from the 48th AHC were diverted to LZ Kate. One Joker was shot down, crashed and was destroyed. There were no survivors. During that same day, 3 additional gunships and 1 CH-47 were hit by enemy ground fire in the vicinity of Kate.   The situation deteriorated rapidly and on the 31st Kate was low on food and ammunition.   Aircraft were not able to get into Kate due to heavy ground fire and mortars. One CH-47 was hit by heavy ground fire and had to abort its emergency resupply, droppig its load in the jungle short of Kate.   Thus the stage was set for an emergency night resupply into Kate. At 0200 on 1 Nov, 5 slicks and 4 gunships from the 155th departed Ban Me Thuot for LZ Kate. Each slick carried 1,000 pounds of much needed resupply.   Under cover of darkness and heavy repressive fire by the gunships, the slicks made resupply without incident. The month of Oct ended with LZ's Kate and Annie still under seige and the camps at Bu Prang and Duc Lap under eminent danger of attack.   On 1 Nov, LZ Kate began receiving continous artillery fire from Cambodia. In addition, the enemy was conducting massive ground and mortar attacks. On the afternoon of the first, after all of Kate's big guns were damaged or destoyed by enemy artillery , the firebase was declared no longer capable of operation. The decision was made to evacuate Kate.   The 155 airlifted two companies of the 5th SFS into the area one klick NW of Kate on the night of th first. The troops at Kate successfully walked out and united with those units. Immediately after the evacuation of Kate, 155 and OPCON inits extracted LZ's Annie and Susan, also while under continous fire.   On 2 Nov, while 155 aircraft were providing suppressive fire for a convoy that had been ambushed just north of LZ Dory, an emergency call went out to all aviation support in the Duc Lap area.   While on a "Hunter-Killer" reconnaissance mission north of LZ Helen, 2 Loaches and one Cobra of the 7/17th Cav had been shot down within minutes of each other. All aircraft in the area responded. Cav ground troops were inserted and one pilot was extracted. One pilot died in the crash, two pilots and two observers were captured by the enemy. (One pilot and one observer were released some time later.)   Later on 2 Nov, 4 slicks and 2 guns from the 155 conducted an emergency resupply of 4,000 pounds of food and ammo into LZ Dory, which was under attack and unable to be supplied by road.   The main offensive now shifts to Duc Lap, where LZ Mike Smith, began receiving 122mm rockets. At the same time Dak Sak (Duc Lap Special Forces Compound) received incoming rounds and recoilless rifle fire.   Late in the morning of the 6th, friendly units set up a defensive perimeter on the rim of the volcano overlooking Bon Sar Pa, south of Duc Lap.   On 9 Nov while flying a hot resupply into the volcano, 2 155 aircraft were hit by .50 caliber fire and B-40 rocket fragments, resulting in one pilot wounded. He was later returned to CONUS.   On 11 Nov another aircraft was hit by 12.7mm anti-aircraft fire SE of Bu Prang, wounding one crewman. Later that morning one passenger was killed and 2 wounded when their aircraft took hits from 37mm anti-aircraft fire near Bu Prang.   One of the more significant actions took place on 17 Nov when 155 Falcon gunships expended 5 times on enemy locations near Bu Prang. As a result of Falcon gunship and Tac Air Support, 72 enemy were killed, more than half of which were credited to the Falcons.   In separate actions on the 17th, 2 Falcon gunships received damage from enemy fire.   On the 21st, Falcon guns expened 3 times on enemy locations, receiving credit for 23 enemy killed by air. During this action 3 gunships were hit bt ground by ground fire.   On 22 Nov, 2 Falcon gunships on standy-by at Gia Nghia were called to Duc Lap where they engaged enemy targets. Both ships took damage from ground fire and the pilot of one ship was wounded in the leg, causing his return to CONUS.   On 25 Nov another 155 ship took hits from ground fire while resupplying the volcano, wounding the pilot.   The activity at the volcano had now reached the point where the Stagecoach slicks performing resupply to the troops on the rim would always receive ground fire, either enroute to or from the volcano, or from within the crater of the volcano itself. Launching out of LZ Mike Smith, these resupply helicopters had to alter their routes and landing patterns every time they ran a mission. There were confirmed .50 caliber positions around 3 sides of the volcano, with heavy small arms and troop concentrations on the 4th side.   In addition there was one small spot on the rim suitable for landing and this pad was constantly wracked with direct mortar, rocket, and artillery hits. An aircraft landing on the volcano had to be fast. If the cargo couldn't be kicked off or the wounded loaded within 27-28 seconds, they would have to wait for the next trip, because within 29-30 seconds after touchdown, a mortar would strike the pad. Many a StageCoach aircraft got an added boost on take-off from the concussion of a mortar round directly behind it.   This resupply and medevac mission put the crews under a great strain. Going into the volcano as many as 4, 5, or 6 times in one day under theses conditions put the crews under so much pressure that the ground commander insisted that the crews be changed daily so as not to overtax the same people day after day.   On 27 Nov, a gunship covering a volcano resupply mission received heavy ground fire and was forced to make an emergency landing in enemy territory. The crew destroyed the radios and cipher equipment before being safely extracted by another gunship. The gunship was destroyed in place.   On 4 Dec, while extracting a wounded ARVN from the volcano, the resupply command and control helicopter drew heavy fire, wounding a pilot.   It must be remembered that the battle of Bu Prang-Duc Lap was a full scale effort by the enemy. Although not mentioned in this history, the events and circumstances surrounding all operations 28 Oct-28 Dec required aviators and crews to daily risk their lives in an effort to provide support to the beseiged firebases and outposts.   Many more medevacs than are recorded were actually flown. Many more enemy were killed than the Falcons were given credit for. This is a result of the fluid maneuvering of both friendly and enemy units.   The constant enemy activity, the fact that if asked to pull a medevac a Stagecoach aircraft would go into an area that had been the target of over 200 enemy artillery rounds that day, the fact that though enemy mortars were sure to follow a resupply by seconds, all confirm that under under the most severe of conditions the 155 Falcon- Stagecoach team can and will provide optimum support, without reservation and without delay to the units which it serves.   The last and by far the busiest quarter of 1969 left in its wake a great sense of accomplishment, and a feeling of relief that the ordeal of 2 months was over. Although acting as controlling agency in conjunction with Vagabond Forward, the 155th operations had handled as many as 50 additional aircraft daily during Nov and Dec. This put quite a strain on 155 operations.   In addition, the company flew more hours than any other company in the 10th Avn Bn for long periods, still maintaining an extremely high aircraft availability record.   Although 28 aircraft from the 155 received damage from ground fire the knowledge of the enemy and terrain proved to be a factor in minimizing damage to aircraft. Aircraft from other units, in trying to support the 155, proved that anything less than a complete knowledge of terrain and tactics creates a dangerous situation. Hour for hour, the 155 took less damage from ground fire than outside units unfamiliar with the area of operation.   On 26 Dec 1969 Maj Dean Owen relinquished command of the 155 Av Co to Maj Gerald M. Luisi, formerly assigned as Assistant Div Aviation Officer of the 25th Inf Div.   The change of command ceremony was held at Camp Coryell. Major Owen was presented the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry by Col Kanh of the 23rd ARVN Div.     1 July-30 Sept:       After a period of seven weeks without an enemy attack on Camp Coryell, the longest period of respite the 155th had seen in 2 years, the night quiet was again broken by incoming rounds. On 23 July at 2333 hours, 5 B-40 rockets and 10 82mm mortars struck the compound. Due to increased bunker facilities, and the overdue nature of the attack, the rounds inflicted negative damage.   Again, there was a long period without enemy attack on Camp Coryell in July and Aug. Finally, the compound was attacked on 12 Aug. Early in the morning, a total of 37 rounds struck the compound, landing not only in the corral and dustbowl, but in the billeting areas as well. 10 B-40 rockets and 27 82mm mortars impacted, causing damage to 4 UH-1H’s and one UH-1C, 10 structures, and 4 vehicles. 11 personnel were wounded during the attack. Falcon gunships and a flareship were launched, but because of difficulty encountered in getting clearance to fire, returned with negative results.   The 155 was not subject to enemy attack during the entire month of Sept.. In late Aug and early Sept. of 1968, the 155-supported areas of Bu Prang and Duc Lap were the targets of a long, hard-hitting offensive by the enemy. Duc Lap in particular was the focal point of enemy activity in the 155th’s area of operations during that year.   All sources of information gathered thus far in 1969 indicated that the enemy was planning a 1969 offensive aimed once again at Duc Lap.   The end of the summer monsoon and the beginning of the winter monsoon brought about a great increase in enemy activity in large parts of the 155’s area of operation. Although the rainy weather precluded any large scale enemy activity during July and Aug, toward the end of Sept the lessening rainfall afforded the enemy greater ease of mobility, as was indicated by large troop buildups in the border areas west and SW of Duc Lap.   An enemy buildup similar to that which occured just before the battle of Duc Lap in 1968 had been evidenced by intelligence reports received from the Duc Lap- Bu Prang area. To increase our information concerning enemy activities in the areas around Bu Prang and Duc Lap, the 155 conducted numerous sniffer missions in those areas in support of the 23rd ARVN Div and B-23 (SF). Much valuable intelligence was gathered and many significant sightings were made. Several ground operations were conducted by the supported units as a result of these sniffer findings, with results.   As a result of information gathered regarding a probable enemy offensive in the Duc Lap area, the 155 was becoming increasingly committed in an attempt to provide adequate support to the units in the Ban Me Thuot support zone. Due to increased mission requirements, the 155 was given operational control of as many as 20 additional aircraft during this period. This more than doubled the mission capabilities of the 155, but put the 155 operations under a severe strain as a result.   July also marked the return of the company’s support to B-50 operations. In addition a commitment to 2nd, 3rd, and 5th Mike Strike Force was added at the time.   The resupply, sniffer, B-50, and command and control requirements placed on the 155 at this time precluded supporting any great number of combat assaults. A total of 27 were conducted within the July-Sept quarter.   On 18 July, after being inserted by 155 aircraft south of Ban Me Thuot, 2 LRRP teams came into contact with an enemy force. One Stagecoach and 2 Falcons were dispatched to the area. One gunship received damage fromground fire but the Falcon team was credited with 13 enemy killed by air during the action.   On 25 July, while supporting 4 slicks on a B-23 troop movement, a pair of gunships expended, killing 5 enemy soldiers.   The month of Aug was marked by the intensive increase of sniffer operations conducted for the intelligence gathering purposes. 2 sets of sniffer missions were run daily in and around Darlac and Quang Duc Provinces. These missions were given high priorities due to the need for gathering as much intelligence as possible on enemy movements and activities. Although, hampered by deterioting weather conditions, the results of these missions proved later to be of great assistance in planning for the coming enemy offensive.   In Sept the 155 was again given the commitment to support B-50 operations. 4 slicks and 4 guns were provided each day for the entire month for this mission.   As in July and Aug, Sept was characterized by the presence of a great number of aircraft from throughout II Corps operating in the Ban Me Thuot area. This was due to the need to provide increased tactical and logistical aviation support to units operating in the Bu Prang-Gia Nghia-Duc Lap triangle. Consequently, as many as 35 aircraft from other units were working in the Ban Me Thuot area, with 155 operations acting as controlling agency, placing an additional workload on the 155 for operational and maintenance support.   The 155th continued in its efforts to improve facilities and conditions for its personnel during this quarter. Some of the improvements were: Old bunkers were torn down and replaced with new and larger structures, concrete pavement was poured to connect all living areas, a new surface miniport area was constructed to replace the old underground system. A single line system with 7 UH-1 and one CH-47 refueling stations was put in use. The miniport now has a 20,000 gallon capacity. Renovation of the dog kennels in anticipation of the return of a K-9 security detachment, construction of guard bunkers along the south perimeter fence, installation of a minefield inside the NE perimeter, an interior guard tower was equipped with a .50 caliber machine gun and a xenon light, and rewiring of all billets.   Although perhaps a contradiction in terms, the absence of the always present enemy attacks on Camp Coryell made for an uneasy time of waiting. However, as external enemy activity increased, so did morale with the men of the 155 anticipating participation in the tactical defense of the Ban Me Thuot-Duc Lap area.   During this period, a new act of requirements was devised for the awarding of AC orders. Since the is unit safety minded, and a direct parallel to aviation safety and pilot proficiency can be made, the requirements for becoming an aircraft commander were broadened to: (1) 300 hours In-Country, (2) 5 Hours Minimum Night Time, (3) 5 hours of hood time, (4)a minimum of 2 maintainance test flights, (5) a grade of 90% or better on each of two-dash ten tests,(6) an aircraft commander checkride with company instructor pilot,(7) two mission checkrides with instuctor pilots.   This program proved to be a basis for similar programs instituted in many other aviation units.   The 155th continued in its tradition of maximum support and highest aircraft availability within the 10th Avn Bn. Average UH-1H availability July-Sept was 97.1%. Average for UH-1C for the perod was 96.5%   The last quarter of 1969 left Camp Coryell only slightly damaged by the enemy in relation to the first 9 months.   Although attacked 5 times during the period the compound suffered comparitvely little damage.   On 25 Oct, in the early morning hours, 15 rounds of 82mm mortars, struck the compound. The result was 2 UH-1H's and one UH-1C gunship, 2 buildings and 2 vehicles damaged. 5 personnel were injured, 2 of whom required medical attention.   On 10 Nov, the 155 was again attacked. 8 B-40 rockets and 17 82mm mortars struck the compound, damaging one UH-1H, 5 structures and one vehicle, and wounding 6 personnel.   The compound was attacked 3 more more times during the quarter, on 16, 25, and 30 Nov. All 3 resulted in negative damage, although a total of 37 mortar rounds impacted in the 155 area.   Due to the tremendous increase in enemy activity during the first part of Oct, and due to the buildup of resources and the strengthening of the defensive posture of friendly units, it is impossible at this time to divide he mission performed from the enemy situation.   Following is a background of friendly efforts to meet the coming offensive, included to offer a complete picture in order that the reader may fully understand the gigantic proportions of the preparations made. It must be remembered that the 155, being the local unit and main provider of aviation support in the Duc Lap-Bu Prang area, played a significant role in the building of a successful defense against the soon-to-come enemy onslaught.   The weather has been the most significant natural factor relating to the buildup of enemy forces. The summer monsoon, and the rain it brings, continued through Aug and Sept, hindering any large scale enemy activity. Oct brought with it good weather and a tremendous upsurge in enemy activity throughout the area of operations, and especially in the areas around Bu Prang and Duc Lap.   Intelligence reports indicated massive buildups of enemy forces along the western boundry of Quang Duc sector between Bu Prang and Nhon Co. Large size enemy units were reported in Cambodia north of Bu Prang and west of Duc Lap.   Great emphasis was put on gathering further information in these areas. This was accomplished by conducting seperate daily sniffer missions around Duc Lap, Bu Prang, and areas south in an extension of II Corps known as the "Death Valley of Bu Gia Map." Intelligence gathering by the 155 continued to fix locations and sizes of individual enemy units.   The questions of the intentions of the enemy were answered on 22 Oct when it became clear that the enemy was on the move. Large size units moved across from Cambodia into positions north of Bu Prang and south of Duc Lap. Large units were still massing along the Cambodian border posing a substantial artillery and standoff attack threat to the outposts of Bu Prang and Duc Lap.   On 25 Oct the enemy began his offensive. One of the 155 supported units in the area, 5/22 Artillery, in preparation for the offensive, built 6 fire bases in the Duc Lap -Bu Prang- Gia Nghia triangle; fire support bases Dory, Helen, Susan, Annie, Kate and Martha. These firebases provided support for Bu Prang and Duc Lap.   Work on those firebases began in early Sept and continued throughout Oct. Initial work was hampered by marginal weather and the difficulty of providing continous Chinook support to transport loads and equipment.   Annie and Kate were set up within 6 klicks each of Bu Prang. While these firebases could provide artillery support for Bu Prang, it became clear that they would be vulnerable to any determined enemy attack. In addition everything depended on resupply by air because the roads were not secure enough for transport. Security was for these firebases was provided by CIDG and elements of the Mike Strike Forces. All units in the area of operations were under control of the 23rd ARVN and a divisional Light Command Post was set up at Gia Nghia. B-troop, 7/17th Cav was assigned the mission of conducting "Hunter-Killer" operations in the Bu Prang- Gia Nghia area. Thus the stage was set for what developed during the last part of Oct.   The 155 and several other units in the 10th and 52nd Battalions were now responsible for inserting, exchanging and supporting the troops at these new firebases.   On 25 Oct, the enemy began his offensive. LZ Helen came under attack by a multibattalion sized unit which had been crossing the border on 22 Oct. Personnel and equipment were extracted in total from LZ Helen on 29 Oct by the 155 and OPCON units. During the extraction a large sized enemy force attacked the LZ inflicting heavy casualties. The extraction was completed on the 29th and that afternoon a regimental size enemy element moved into Helen and claimed it as theirs.   During this time LZ Annie and LZ Kate were being threatened by another regimental size unit. 155 Stagecoach aircraft continued to make medevacs under heavy fire at theses firebases. On the 30th, LZ Martha was to be removed to reinforce Duc Lap because it was under heavy attack. On the evening of the 30th Martha was relocated to Duc Lap by aircraft of the 155th and OPCON units under heavy mortar fire. Every time a ship came in to remove troops the LZ was pounded with enemy mortars. The troops were moved into LZ Mike Smith, a new FSB located at Duc Lap.   LZ Kate then became the major target of the enemy. Enemy .50 caliber and 37mm anti-aircraft positions were active all around the firebase and they took their toll of aircraft. At 0930 hours on 30 Oct Kate came under sustained enemy ground attack by at least 500 NVA.   Two Joker gunships from the 48th AHC were diverted to LZ Kate. One Joker was shot down, crashed and was destroyed. There were no survivors. During that same day, 3 additional gunships and 1 CH-47 were hit by enemy ground fire in the vicinity of Kate.   The situation deteriorated rapidly and on the 31st Kate was low on food and ammunition.   Aircraft were not able to get into Kate due to heavy ground fire and mortars. One CH-47 was hit by heavy ground fire and had to abort its emergency resupply, droppig its load in the jungle short of Kate.   Thus the stage was set for an emergency night resupply into Kate. At 0200 on 1 Nov, 5 slicks and 4 gunships from the 155th departed Ban Me Thuot for LZ Kate. Each slick carried 1,000 pounds of much needed resupply.   Under cover of darkness and heavy repressive fire by the gunships, the slicks made resupply without incident. The month of Oct ended with LZ's Kate and Annie still under seige and the camps at Bu Prang and Duc Lap under eminent danger of attack.   On 1 Nov, LZ Kate began receiving continous artillery fire from Cambodia. In addition, the enemy was conducting massive ground and mortar attacks. On the afternoon of the first, after all of Kate's big guns were damaged or destoyed by enemy artillery , the firebase was declared no longer capable of operation. The decision was made to evacuate Kate.   The 155 airlifted two companies of the 5th SFS into the area one klick NW of Kate on the night of th first. The troops at Kate successfully walked out and united with those units. Immediately after the evacuation of Kate, 155 and OPCON inits extracted LZ's Annie and Susan, also while under continous fire.   On 2 Nov, while 155 aircraft were providing suppressive fire for a convoy that had been ambushed just north of LZ Dory, an emergency call went out to all aviation support in the Duc Lap area.   While on a "Hunter-Killer" reconnaissance mission north of LZ Helen, 2 Loaches and one Cobra of the 7/17th Cav had been shot down within minutes of each other. All aircraft in the area responded. Cav ground troops were inserted and one pilot was extracted. One pilot died in the crash, two pilots and two observers were captured by the enemy. (One pilot and one observer were released some time later.)   Later on 2 Nov, 4 slicks and 2 guns from the 155 conducted an emergency resupply of 4,000 pounds of food and ammo into LZ Dory, which was under attack and unable to be supplied by road.   The main offensive now shifts to Duc Lap, where LZ Mike Smith, began receiving 122mm rockets. At the same time Dak Sak (Duc Lap Special Forces Compound) received incoming rounds and recoilless rifle fire.   Late in the morning of the 6th, friendly units set up a defensive perimeter on the rim of the volcano overlooking Bon Sar Pa, south of Duc Lap.   On 9 Nov while flying a hot resupply into the volcano, 2 155 aircraft were hit by .50 caliber fire and B-40 rocket fragments, resulting in one pilot wounded. He was later returned to CONUS.   On 11 Nov another aircraft was hit by 12.7mm anti-aircraft fire SE of Bu Prang, wounding one crewman. Later that morning one passenger was killed and 2 wounded when their aircraft took hits from 37mm anti-aircraft fire near Bu Prang.   One of the more significant actions took place on 17 Nov when 155 Falcon gunships expended 5 times on enemy locations near Bu Prang. As a result of Falcon gunship and Tac Air Support, 72 enemy were killed, more than half of which were credited to the Falcons.   In separate actions on the 17th, 2 Falcon gunships received damage from enemy fire.   On the 21st, Falcon guns expened 3 times on enemy locations, receiving credit for 23 enemy killed by air. During this action 3 gunships were hit bt ground by ground fire.   On 22 Nov, 2 Falcon gunships on standy-by at Gia Nghia were called to Duc Lap where they engaged enemy targets. Both ships took damage from ground fire and the pilot of one ship was wounded in the leg, causing his return to CONUS.   On 25 Nov another 155 ship took hits from ground fire while resupplying the volcano, wounding the pilot.   The activity at the volcano had now reached the point where the Stagecoach slicks performing resupply to the troops on the rim would always receive ground fire, either enroute to or from the volcano, or from within the crater of the volcano itself. Launching out of LZ Mike Smith, these resupply helicopters had to alter their routes and landing patterns every time they ran a mission. There were confirmed .50 caliber positions around 3 sides of the volcano, with heavy small arms and troop concentrations on the 4th side.   In addition there was one small spot on the rim suitable for landing and this pad was constantly wracked with direct mortar, rocket, and artillery hits. An aircraft landing on the volcano had to be fast. If the cargo couldn't be kicked off or the wounded loaded within 27-28 seconds, they would have to wait for the next trip, because within 29-30 seconds after touchdown, a mortar would strike the pad. Many a StageCoach aircraft got an added boost on take-off from the concussion of a mortar round directly behind it.   This resupply and medevac mission put the crews under a great strain. Going into the volcano as many as 4, 5, or 6 times in one day under theses conditions put the crews under so much pressure that the ground commander insisted that the crews be changed daily so as not to overtax the same people day after day.   On 27 Nov, a gunship covering a volcano resupply mission received heavy ground fire and was forced to make an emergency landing in enemy territory. The crew destroyed the radios and cipher equipment before being safely extracted by another gunship. The gunship was destroyed in place.   On 4 Dec, while extracting a wounded ARVN from the volcano, the resupply command and control helicopter drew heavy fire, wounding a pilot.   It must be remembered that the battle of Bu Prang-Duc Lap was a full scale effort by the enemy. Although not mentioned in this history, the events and circumstances surrounding all operations 28 Oct-28 Dec required aviators and crews to daily risk their lives in an effort to provide support to the beseiged firebases and outposts.   Many more medevacs than are recorded were actually flown. Many more enemy were killed than the Falcons were given credit for. This is a result of the fluid maneuvering of both friendly and enemy units.   The constant enemy activity, the fact that if asked to pull a medevac a Stagecoach aircraft would go into an area that had been the target of over 200 enemy artillery rounds that day, the fact that though enemy mortars were sure to follow a resupply by seconds, all confirm that under under the most severe of conditions the 155 Falcon- Stagecoach team can and will provide optimum support, without reservation and without delay to the units which it serves.   The last and by far the busiest quarter of 1969 left in its wake a great sense of accomplishment, and a feeling of relief that the ordeal of 2 months was over. Although acting as controlling agency in conjunction with Vagabond Forward, the 155th operations had handled as many as 50 additional aircraft daily during Nov and Dec. This put quite a strain on 155 operations.   In addition, the company flew more hours than any other company in the 10th Avn Bn for long periods, still maintaining an extremely high aircraft availability record.   Although 28 aircraft from the 155 received damage from ground fire the knowledge of the enemy and terrain proved to be a factor in minimizing damage to aircraft. Aircraft from other units, in trying to support the 155, proved that anything less than a complete knowledge of terrain and tactics creates a dangerous situation. Hour for hour, the 155 took less damage from ground fire than outside units unfamiliar with the area of operation.   On 26 Dec 1969 Maj Dean Owen relinquished command of the 155 Av Co to Maj Gerald M. Luisi, formerly assigned as Assistant Div Aviation Officer of the 25th Inf Div.   The change of command ceremony was held at Camp Coryell. Major Owen was presented the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry by Col Kanh of the 23rd ARVN Div.