Reprints from 1967 and 1968
68th AHC, 334th AHC Combine to Save Two
Duc Hoa (145th Avn Bn 10)- During six hours of darkness recently, the
68th Assault Helicopter Company and the 334th Armed Helicopter Company
persisted in searching efforts in a jungle area just outside of Duc Hoa
and rescued a stranded crew chief and gunner.
SP4 Richard Parnell and SP4 Paul Richards were surrounded and cut off
from their own helicopter by enemy forces when they made an attempt to
retrieve the miniguns of a downed gunship.
In a nearby area troop-carrying slicks from the 68th were resupplying
ground troops that had made contact with an unknown size enemy force.
Because the downed ship was in the vicinity, the pilots of one slick
decided to make a recovery attempt of the miniguns following the resupply
As the slick touched down near the downed aircraft Parnell and
Richards jumped out and began making their way to the deserted gunship.
They were met by intense enemy fire.
"As we jumped and began running towards the wreck, automatic weapons
opened up at the 12 o'clock position," Parnell stated. "As we hit the
ground two more automatic weapons began firing at an angle which covered
both of us and our ship at the same time. We waved to our aircraft
commander to take off; we could see that the ship was receiving hits."
By this time it was almost dark, so the "Firefly" team from the 334th
was called to suppress the enemy and protect the crewmen on the ground.
MAJ Donald L. Beaker, 145th Combat Aviation Battalion executive
officer, and MAJ Larry F. Sanders, the battalion assistant operations
officer, made several attempts to resue the stranded crew, but the enemy
fire was too intense.
As total darkness came the air teams lost contact with Parnell and
Richards. LTC Robert M. Deets, 145th commander, gave orders to continue
searching for the two, and for six hours the helicopters continued
sweeping the area and suppressing the enemy. The two were eventually
located hidden amoung bushes by the "Firefly" ship.
The .50 caliber gunship of the "Firefly" team, commanded by Warrant
Officer Robert Dawson, made an approach, while Warrant Officer James R.
Britt held the light ship on course. SP4 Alan B. Shults kept the powerful
spotlight on the landing zone and subjects below.
When they landed the VC cut loose from everywhere, but the two
quickly scrambled aboard and the aircraft lifted out of the area.
In thanking the 334th crew, Richards remarked, "The pilots and crew
on the 334th ship really had a lot of guts to come in and pull us out,
because they knew how hot the area was."
Firefly Foils Enemy Action
Bien Hoa, (145th Avn Bn 10)- A Viet Cong squad moves quietly along
canal, carefully completing an order to reposition itself for mortar
attack that night. They move with care to prevent detection, and by
staying close to the canal bank the cover of darkness conceals them and
their sampans. In the distance the sound of helicopters becomes
increasingly louder. A single searchlight beams from one of the choppers,
turning night into day wherever it wanders. Suddenly the small sampan
convoy is found. In stark terror the Viet Cong flee, but the spotlight
follows its prey. In just a matter of minutes they are casualties; their
sampans splinters. The 334th Armed Helicopter Company Firefly Team has
again added to its record of enemy kills.
In the beginning of the United States involement in the Vietnam War,
the hours of darkness belonged to the Viet Cong. An enemy who rarely made
contact even in daylight, except when the tactical situation was clearly
advantageous to himself, the communist insurgents used the night hours to
carry out logistical resupply, tactical movement, ambush, and
interdiction. As daytime operations increasingly wrought destruction upon
Charlie's forces, the cogent need for nighttime mobile firepower became
In the early spring of 1965, the 197th/334th Armed Helicopter
Company, was given the mission of developing the armed helicopter for
operation at night. The mission was initially given on an experimental
basis, but by the summer of 1967, the system initiated and developed by
the 197th/334th was in nightly use thoughout III Corps. Thus the Firefly
System of nightly harrassment and interdiction was born.
The system developed by the 197th/334th Armed Helicopter Company was
totally unique in its planning and is even deadlier in its employment.
Three helicopters comprise the Firefly team: the low ship, the middle or
"lightship," and the high ship. The low ship is armed with rockets and
miniguns, and usually flies from treetop level to one hundred feet of
altitude. The middle ship contains the lights which provide the "eyes" for
the Firefly. Seven C-130 landing lights are mounted onto one pod; thus
giving the operator of the searchlight ample candle power to focus on
suspected enemy locations. The leader of the Firefly team flies on the
high ship, with a .50 caliber machinegun for aramament. Cruising at an
altitude of fifteen hundred feet-just above the lightship at seven hundred
feet-he has full view of the entire operation.
When a suspected enemy position is located, the team quickly goes
into operation. The lightship circles slowly above the target, always
maintaining surveillance over the enemy. Wherever the Viet Cong move, the
light moves along with them, and the lowship moves in for the kill. Rocket
and minigun fire are used to saturate the area where the insurgents are
known to be. In between the firing runs made by the low ship,the high ship
employs its .50 caliber machinegun. In this manner a constant stream of
firepower is utilized against the enemy positions untill they are
118th Kills 20
Bien Hoa, (145th Avn Bn 10) The 118th Assault Helicopter
"Thunderbirds" on a routine support mission for the 25th ARVN Division,
spotted an enemy base camp 15 miles southwest of Saigon.The team leader of
the fire support team, CWO Wayne Walker, East St. Louis, Ill., and 1LT
Thomas Easton of Wilmington, Del., spotted enemy movement and a large
bunker complex and proceeded to investigate.
Upon investigation the team leaders encountered small arms fire,
which proved to be a mistake, as the team leaders called the rest of the
team and started their gun runs on the complex. Within 30 minutes the team
left the site, but only after causing considerable destruction to the
enemy base camp and killing 20 enemy soldiers.
190th Resupplies Beleagured HQ
Bien Hoa (145th Avn Bn 10-) The district headquarters at Hiep Hoa on
the Oriental river had been under continuous enemy attack for over five
The enemy force numbered over 300 men and was a composite battalion
formed from local Main Force Viet Cong compaines from the Duc Hue
sub-sector area. The defenders had almost exhausted their ammunition
supply and realized that, as darkness neared, it would be impossible to
hold their position thoughout the night unless they were immediately
resupplied with ammunition.
The 190th Assult Helicopter Company was directed from an operation
south of Saigon to attempt to resupply the beleaguered defenders. The
flight consisted of nine troopships, four gunships, a smoke ship and the
command and control aircraft.
The operation, as developed by Maj Charles U. Vaughn, Portland, Ore,.
called for the initial troopships, the smoke ship, and the two fire teams
to attack simultaneously on a line from east to west.
The landing area could accept only one ship at a time due to its
small size, was completely exposed, was outside the compound, and had
enemy .50 caliber, .30 caliber, RPG rockets and automatic weapons fire
directed at it.
The gunships attacked two abreast with the wingman close behind. As
they started their runs, the smoke ship, commanded by CPT Thomas A.
Connelly, St. Louis, Mo., dived in under the gunships and with the lead
troopship, commanded by CPT Joseph Cancellare, EL Paso,Tex., flying
abreast, started his smoke run between the heaviest enemy concentrations
and the outpost.
On the inital pass, the smoke ship flew directly over 40 Viet Cong in
a ditch along a road, taking the enemy by surprise. As the smoke ship
passed over them, THey whirled to fire but were engulfed in thick smoke.
The gunnurs fired straight down into the massed enemy formation.
MAJ Vaughn, the 190th commanding officer stated, "We caught them
completely off their gaurd; we hit them hard, and as they treid to figure
us out and regroup, we slammed the door on them."
New CO For 145th
Bien Hoa, (145th Avn Bn 10)-At ceremonies recently LTC Robert M.
Deets relinquished command of the 145th Combat Aviation Battalion to LTC
Gerald L. Waldron.
Present at the cermony were Major General Robert R. Williams,
commanding general 1st Aviation Brigade and Col Robert O. Lambert,
commanding officer 12th Combat Aviation Group and other distinguished
During the 40 minute ceremony Major General Williams, COL Lambert,
LTC Deets, and LTC Waldron reviewed the battalion while the 25th Infantry
Division Band played "Ruffles and Flourishes." After the pass in review
Major General Williams Presented LTC Deets with the Legion of Merit,
Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster, Air Medal with "V"
Device, Air Medal with 5th thru 15th Oak Leaf Clusters.
Attending the ceremony as guests were Brigadier General Dunlop,
senior advisor to the ARVN II Corps; Col Walts, GC Hubble, Royal
Australian Air Force; Col Ogden, U.S. Air Force; and LTC L.N. Due, Vietnam