DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY
HEADQUARTERS, 307TH COMBAT AVIATION (PHANTOM) BATTALION
APO San Francisco 96296
|AVBN-PC||17 April 1968|
SUBJECT: Documentation of Army Aviation Operations (29 January through 29 February 1968)
164th Aviation Group
APO U. S. Forces 96215
1. Task Organization: During the period 29 January through 29 February 1968, the 307th Combat Aviation Battalion included:
a. Headquarters and headquarters company 307th Combat Aviation Battalion stationed at Soc Trang, RVN.
b. The 199th Reconnaissance Airplane Company (O-1) stationed at Vinh Long, RVN.
c. The 221st Reconnaissance Airplane Company with the 325th Signal Detachment (RL) attached and stationed at Soc Trang, RVN.
d. The 235th Armed Helicopter Company with the 608th Transportation Detachment (KD) and the 190th Signal Detachment (RL) attached and stationed at Can Tho, RVN.
e. The 244th Surveillance Airplane Company with the 502nd Transportation Detachment (KD) and the 537th Signal Detachment (RL & RX) attached and stationed at Can Tho, RVN.
2. Significant offensive and defensive Actions:
a. Can Tho City and Can Tho Airfield: The 307th CAB has one half of its resources at the Can Tho Airfield. The 235th AHC, the 244th SAC and a platoon from the 221st RAC are stationed at the airfield. During attacks upon the airfield, the assets of these units come under the centralized control of the airfield commander. Because of the command structure, the action outlined will be confined to each unit's contribution.
At 0300 hours 31 January 1968, the Viet Cong launched an attack against Can Tho City and the airfield. The defensive posture of the 244th SAC was at 100%, and the unit was manning positions on both the north and south side of the airfield. Double security was placed in each revetment and machine guns were placed in these areas to provide a second defensive line. The 235th AHC, also 100% committed, was providing a Firefly for the Phong Dinh Sector and Highway 4 Firefly in Dinh Tuong Sector. Because of the alert status in effect, all of the mission ready aircraft were placed on strip alert and assigned crews were with the aircraft. The unit had a mixture of UH-1C gunships and AH-1G helicopters at this time. All personnel were either on the Can Tho defensive perimeter, assigned as crews on strip alert or assigned defensive positions in the revetment area. The personnel assigned in the revetment area had a dual function not only to defend the revetment, providing a second line of defense for the airfield, but also as ammo and fuel handlers for the airborne aircraft.
When the attack began, illumination by Special Forces located on the airfield revealed attacks from both northwest and southwest of the airfield. The force appeared to be at least two full company size units. The 235th AHC had aircraft airborne and engaging targets at 0303 hours. The gunships of the 235th AHC, because of the numerous targets, were continually rotating with new fire teams as they expended their ammunition. The aircraft had to be rearmed and refueled while the airfield was actually under attack with much of the incoming fire being directed at the gunships flight line.
The ground action of the 244th and 235th was significant and produced many heroic acts. On the north side of the compound the VC main force was immediately engaged by tremendous fire power. A Xenon searchlight was brought into position on the extreme west end of the ramp and illumination of the threat area north of the runway was accomplished. This enabled all weapons to be brought to bear at the point of greatest threat. When breaks in the fog and cloud layer would permit, the gunships from the 235th were able to engage the enemy and placed accurate fire continuously within 50 meters and at times closer to the friendly positions. Simultaneously the VC attack launched on the south side of the runway was directly at the 244th perimeter line. The Unit Security Officer detected movement to his front and directed his men to hold their fire. The VC unit moved to within 10-15 feet of the 244th SAC line before the command to fire was given. The VC unit, estimated at platoon size, was immediately engaged at close range, and was almost wiped out by the first volley. Under grenade and mortar attack, the men of the 244th, all but two who had never heard a shot fired in anger, fought at extremely close quarters like seasoned soldiers until a red flare on the horizon signaled a retreat for the VC forces. When dawn broke, 67 dead were counted along the north side of the airfield, and 30 wounded POW's were found. Over 100 lbs of plastic charges were found, numerous B40 rockets, and large stocks of Russian AK-47 rifles, grenades, satchel charges, and ammunition were taken. Numerous VC dead and wounded had been carried away in the night as evidenced by blood trails and dragging marks.
Throughout the engagement the O-1 aircraft of the 221st RAC were airborne and provided the eyes for the Sector TOC in the defense of the area. The O-1 aircraft were able to assist the ground units by giving enemy movements in the continuing clearing operations conducted throughout the next day. They also accounted for 10 VC KBA within the city. A significant event occurred when Cpt Joseph Lazzard spotted an APC the VC had captured and attacked it with rockets and machine guns forcing it to flee down Highway 4 to a place where it could be destroyed by an anti-tank weapon. The VC continued the offensive against Can Tho with repeated mortar and recoilless rifle attacks during the month of February. He began a systematic probing of the perimeter each night to find weak spots, and positioned snipers around the airfield to harass landing aircraft and ground crews.
The next significant attack occurred on 15 February when the infamous VC Tay Do Battalion attacked the airfield. Elements of the battalion kidnapped members of the Vietnamese RF company located inside the compound on the west end, marched into their camp, assassinated the unit's officers and dependents and began to attack the airfield. Illumination was not immediately available; however, OV-1's hastily equipped with flares were scrambled and soon provided the much needed light for the conduct of the defense. The mortars of the overrun RF company were turned against the airfield but were immediately silenced by very accurate fire from the 235th AHC AH-1G gunships. Ground elements of the 244th and 235th and the gunships soon proved too much in the way of firepower and the enemy signaled a retreat with a red flare.
The direct fire support of the gunships at Can Tho definitely played a singular role in the overwhelming defeat of the enemy in the numerous engagements throughout the documented period.
b. Vinh Long Airfield: At approximately 0310 hours on the morning of 31 January 1968, the Viet Cong initiated a coordinated mortar and ground attack against Vinh Long Airfield, Republic of Vietnam. As the intensity of incoming mortar rounds diminished, personnel of the 199th RAC began moving to their assigned defensive positions on the west end of the Vinh Long runway. The defensive mission of the unit was to secure the western end of the runway, protect the unit's aircraft, and to repel any enemy ground attack from that end of the airfield.
Even as the lead elements of the company defensive force reached the transient revetments, a fire fight was in progress between the VC and the night crew augmented company guard which were the first elements to take the enemy under fire in the company's defensive area. It was during this initial fire fight that Sp/4 Fred K. m. Hatada's courageous actions resulted in his being mortally wounded and Sp/5 Kenneth H. Erickson receiving his wounds which required medical evacuation. Sp/4 Hatada was a flight operations specialist and Sp/5 Erickson a crew chief.
Maj John S. Jacob, the company commander, SFC Dwight C. Clark, the unit First Sergent, Cpt Richard M. Pribnow, the second platoon commander, and WO Richard W. Shoup were the first to arrive from the company billets area, and they encountered intense small arms and automatic weapons fire as they attempted to reach the wounded personnel and stop the enemy's advance. The VC were already in several revetments which contained unit O-1 aircraft and although they could not suppress the enemy fire with the weapons at hand they were able to deny the enemy freedom of movement within the revetments. Three of these four personnel were wounded, and the fourth had a round pass through his helmet barely missing his head. As these personnel were forced to pull back, other members of the unit were arriving on the scene. Cpt Robert S. Jones, Jr., the company's executive officer, Cpt Charles Baker, the general support platoon commander. and Cpt Daniel P. Alfridge, the unit maintenance officer along with aircraft mechanics, cooks, clerks, supply and maintenance support personnel at this time took up the offensive and began rooting out the entrenched VC from the revetments. By the coordinated use of hand grenades plus fire and maneuver these personnel advanced from revetment to revetment under intense enemy fire. As each revetment was cleared, personnel were positioned to prevent enemy reinforcement and to re secure the unit's defensive perimeter.
When the advancing group reached the second revetment east of the general support hanger, they administered aid to the wounded and recovered the body of Sp/4 Hatada. At this point the VC had been boxed in and they broke from the revetments and attempted to flee south over a mound of dredged sand and thereby escape into the rice paddies and trees on that side of the airfield. The fleeing enemy were taken under fire and killed or wounded by accurately placed and devastating fire by company personnel. Cpt Jones, Cpt Baker and WO Shoup with a small group of men eradicated the remaining VC with their personal weapons and grenades tossed to them by Cpt Aldridge. After the general support platoon hanger was regained, the group continued toward the second platoon hanger and linked up with personnel there thus restoring the perimeter and securing the company's defensive position. At this time relief was sent to the unit's machine gun position located on the dredged sand. These machine gun positions were effectively and heroically manned throughout the encounter and although cut off by the VC until the perimeter was secured, they were instrumental in preventing enemy reinforcements from entering the battle and protecting the flanks of the unit.
As the sun rose on the morning of 31 January, the initial assault by the VC had been stopped in the 199th RAC area of responsibility, and the enemy had been made to pay dearly for his effort. Ten VC were killed and six VC were captured in the company aircraft revetments, and the adjacent area. In addition one US BAR, four US carbines, one US M-1, one AK-47, and two Chicom rifles along with great amounts of ammunition for these weapons as well as satchel charges and hand grenades were discovered on the bodies of the dead VC, in the revetments and on the dredged sand to the south. Numerous documents of varying importance were also captured and turned into the intelligence channels. During this initial action, personnel of the unit suffered 1 KIA and 7 WIA. A check of the battle area in the company's area of responsibility disclosed that even though the VC had been in the revetments with satchel charges, they had not been able to place them and no aircraft had been destroyed. Of the twelve O-1 aircraft in the revetments only four had been damaged and these were all repairable at unit level. The immediate and decisive action taken by each member of the unit had saved the aircraft and the unit was able to continue to perform its mission of supporting elements of the 7th and 9th ARVN Division, all assigned sectors in the IV Corps Tactical Zone and to continue to provide a general support capability.
An after-action evaluation indicated the brunt of the VC attack had been directed against aircraft in the 199th and also the 175th AHC revetments located on the south side of the airfield. The action in the 175th area also included revetment to revetment fighting and the ejection and destruction of the enemy force from these areas was instrumental in reducing the loss of valuable aviation assets on the airfield. Other units participating in the defense of Vinh Long Airfield were the 346th Aviation Detachment, the 611th Transportation Company (ADS), the 114th Assault Helicopter Company, the 52nd Signal Detachment, the HAL-3 (Sea Wolves) plus attached support elements.
The defensive/offensive force of the 199th RAC was composed of pilots, cooks, clerks, crew chiefs and maintenance personnel. All elements of the company participated in the defense of the airfield. Many members of the unit had gone directly from BCT to AIT in their specialized fields with no additional training as infantrymen. The TOE mission of the company is combat support, but by demonstrated ability, aggressiveness and dedication to duty, the unit performed in an extraordinary manner in defense of Vinh Long Airfield.
c. Soc Trang Airfield: There were thirteen (13) attacks on the Soc Trang Airfield during the period 29 January through 29 February 1968. These attacks were primarily composed of attacks utilizing 75mm recoilless rifle fire. There were two instances of mortar fire during the attacks. Five of the thirteen (13) attacks were accompanied by minor ground type attacks with small arms and automatic weapons fire. The 221st RAC was the eyes of the Province and the Airfield TOC's during this period. Continuous night airfield security was flown by the 221st which also included a flare capability. Back up flare capability was provided with the addition of a U-6 to the 307th CAB during the period. One mission during the period required the use of the U-6 to drop flares over an outpost under attack even though there was a ceiling of 1200 feet. Utilizing the airfield GCA and having the aircraft drop flares on command, the ground controller can effectively control the aircraft and position it with respect to wind and insure continuous light over a target for up to 1 hour and 30 minutes. This technique was developed and all of the local outposts are now placed on a grid overlay with the airfield GCA should the need ever arise again.
3. Total Number of Airmobile Operations Participated in by Unit: Unable to document as AAE, IV Corps will shift assets numerous times during a day to insure mission accomplishment and the same fire team might support 2 or 3 different air mission commanders.
4. Significant Airmobile Operations: This unit does not plan or execute airmobile operations but is under OPCON of a mission commander of another unit when conducting airmobile operations.
7. Administration Missions Accomplished: 77
8. Ammunition Expended:
5.56mm .50 cal
25,865 3,986,800 8,028 11,200 2,000
9. Casualty information:
KHA WHA HHA KIA WIA
15 79 41 1,588 55
10. Number of Decorations Received for the Period:
DSC DSM SS
LOM DFC SM BS
BS"V" AM AM"V"
ACM ACM"V" PH
1 7 2 12 20
11. Number of Recommendations for Awards for the Period:
DSC DSM SS
LOM DFC SM BS
BS"V" AM AM"V"
ACM ACM"V" PH
17 36 4 29 153 5 8 61 49
12. Copies of Letters of Commendation:
Incl. 1. 21st
2. MACV TEAM 56, PHONG DINH PROVINCE
3. 9TH INFANTRY DIVISION ADVISORY DETACHMENT
13. Statistical Information: Incl. 4
14, Armed Helicopter Questionnaire: Incl. 5
FOR THE COMMANDER:
"A TRUE COPY"
JAMES L. PERSON
OFFICE OF THE COMMANDING
21st INFANTRY DIVISION
29 February 1968
SUBJECT: ARMED HELICOPTER SUPPORT
TO: Commanding Office, 164th Combat Aviation Group
1. During the TET offensive by the Viet Cong, the 21st Infantry Division was indeed fortunate to have been supported by the armed helicopters of your command. It is difficult to emphasize sufficiently the part played by these valiant crews in turning the series of VC attacks into an overwhelming victory for the cause of the Government of Vietnam. Close air support by the air forces was not always responsive to the very fluid situation, nor always willing to strike close to friendly troops as occurred in one certain case where friendly troops were within 50 to 100 meters of the desired target, nor were the air forces always able to fly the approved mission due to the poor weather conditions in the objective area or in the take off base area; it was at times such as these that the helicopter gunships were the only fire support available and moved quickly to engage targets of VC automatic weapon concentrations that had slowed down the advancing friendly forces. On more than one occasion these gunships were called and successfully attacked pinpoint targets that were only a few feet from the positions of the friendly troops. At no time did these gunships fail to heed the call for assistance from posts that labored in defensive situation and with the arrival of these gunships, the defensive soon turned into offensive action.
2. The support rendered by the US Army's armed helicopters has filled a very necessary role in engaging the forces of the Viet Cong throughout the 42nd Division Tactical Area of Vietnam. Gunships have often been the sole fire support available to commanders within the 42nd DTA where operations are often conducted in areas where artillery cannot be employed without undue effort and delay and when close air support by air forces has been allocated higher priorities to other operational area. Responsiveness, flexibility, accuracy, and the ability to place either high explosive rockets in quantity or volumes of automatic weapons fire on a target are key factors in the excellent support rendered by the gunships of the assault and armed helicopter companies. That these gunships are immediately and directly responsive to the commanders and their advisors remains the most valuable factor in assisting the overall worth of these assets to the ground commander as gun platforms and reconnaissance vehicles.
3. I am among the commanders in Vietnam who wait expectantly for the delivery and employment of the newer, faster, more maneuverable, and better armed gunships that have been the subject of much recent discussion. The capability to deliver larger caliber ordnance than can be carried by the infantryman in the field is a must, as is the capability to stay for relatively long periods of time on the scene of battle or to shift speedily from one scene to another within the overall battlefield, or to remain on the scene of the battle to assist in the development of the action by either reconnaissance or containing the battle area. Only so long as these gunships remain immediately and directly responsive to the ground commander at the lowest possible echelon can this same ground commander inflict the maximum damage on the enemy that has been found unprepared. Unacceptable is the lose of an opportunity to close with an enemy due to the delays that are commonly experienced when processing requests for support through third or more parties.
4. It is with great expectation that the 21st Infantry Division awaits the next opportunity to work closely with the elements of the 164th Combat Aviation Group in engaging the forces of the Viet Cong.
Major General NGUYEN VAN MINH
21st Inf. Div. & 42nd DTA
s/joe d. berry
t/JOE D. BERRY
A TRUE COPY
JAMES L. PERSON
MACV TEAM 56
PHONG DINH PROVINCE
|AVDE-AG||24 March 1968|
SUBJECT: Combat Effectiveness of Armed Helicopters
164th Aviation Group
1. In response to your request of several days ago herein are my opinions of the value of armed helicopters.
2. For the last eighteen months I have been the Senior Advisor in this Province. During this period the VC have been more active in this Province than in all but one or two other provinces in the Delta. This VC activity has generated daily requirements in this Province for responsive fire support to protect outposts, the provincial capital, district towns, airfields and lines of communication and to support offensive ground operations varying in size from platoon raids to division level sweeps and airmobile operations. During the 1968 VC Tet offensive their main attack in the Delta occurred against the city of Can Tho and the airfields and supply facilities near it. Vietnamese artillery and mortars, US Army artillery, USAF and VNAF tactical fighters and AC47 ("Spooky") aircraft, USN and VNN boats and USA, USAF and USN armed helicopters have all been available to support this Province during the Tet offensive and at other times.
3. Of these fire support means, the US Army armed helicopters have by far been the most responsive. The combination of eye, hand and gun in the gunship plus the Army aviators willingness to engage the enemy at close range have made the gunships the most effective weapon available to me against troops in the open day or night. The gunships are far less sensitive to weather than are tactical fighters. I have seen them attack targets day and night under ceilings of less than 200 feet. Repeatedly during the Tet attacks on Can Tho, Can Tho airfields, Binh Thuy Airbase and other vital installations in this area, US Army armed helicopters were the most responsive and effective counter fire weapons against VC mortars and recoilless rifles. Although "Spooky" AC47's actively participated in counter fire operations, the altitude Spooky normally flew, 3,000 feet or higher, limited the crew's ability to actually see the target on the ground. Time after time gunships broke up attacks by VC assault forces, prevented movement of VC reinforcements, helped our own hard pressed units to disengage, and supported counter attacks of our ARVN and RF/PF troops, often against superior forces.
Were it not the ready availability of the gunships during VC Tet offensive there is no doubt in my mind that the VC would have neutralized both of our airfields, and penetrated and held for a period of weeks a large share of Can Tho itself. A success of that magnitude in the Delta, coupled with the success achieved by the VC in Saigon and Hue, the two other important political centers in Vietnam would indeed have been a victory for the VC.
4. The Firefly Teams consisting of one light ship and two gunships have been used nightly in this Province since May 1967 to interdict VC lines of communications, attack VC troop concentrations and protect the airfields in this area. In the period December 1966 to May 1967, one of our airfields had been shelled every month. After the Firefly Teams were made available to us nightly, the VC were not able to attack the airfields with indirect fire weapons until the 1968 Tet offensive. During this same period the Hoi Chanh or VC rallier rate was higher than any previous period and Hoi Chanh repeatedly stated that their great fear of the gunships was one of the reasons they rallied.
5. The gunships have been a major factor in encouraging the RVN and RF/PF forces to increase the tempo and scope of their ground operations. VN commanders knowing that gunships are protecting their flanks and searching to their front and rear are willing to undertake maneuvers of far greater depth than they would without gunship support. The gunships have greatly increased the width and depth of the battle area on every one of the numerous ground operations I have observed them support.
6. One of the outstanding advantages of the US Army armed helicopter is intangible. I and the field grade Army aviators who command the armed helicopters have gone to the same schools at Benning, Sill, Knox, and Leavenworth. We've climbed the same hills in Korea or shared similar experiences in combined arms training in various theaters. We enjoyed a common background and outlook. I have always been confident that these officers fully understand my problems and requirements and would demand that their subordinates met them to the best of their abilities. The professional background of those field grade Army aviators often allowed them to forecast my support requirements before I was aware of them myself. This close professional relationship between myself and Army aviators was unparalleled in any other fire support system available from other services.
7. My major criticism of the gunship is that there were never enough of them. In my view, one platoon could have been profitably employed in direct support of my Province for the last year.
JOSIAH A. WALLACE, JR
Colonel, US Army
Province Senior Advisor
s/joe d. berry
t/JOE D. BERRY
A TRUE COPY
JAMES L. PERSON
9TH INFANTRY DIVISION ADVISORY DETACHMENT
US MILITARY ASSISTANCE COMMAND, VIETNAM
APO San Francisco 96357
|MACV-9TH-G3||25 Feb 68|
SUBJECT: Justification of Armed Helicopters
307th Combat Aviation Battalion
1. Reference telecon with Captain Jones of the 199th Aviation Company.
2. The following comments are submitted in support of the use of armed helicopters within the 41st DTA. These comments are necessarily general in nature because to cite examples would not portray any better picture of their worth.
a. The best example of the importance and need for armed helicopters can best be described since the TET offensive began. Had it not been for the armed helicopters, Vinh Long City and Vinh Long Airfield would now be in the hands of the Viet Cong. Their mobility and firepower is not equaled in any other fire support system today. Nor are the other fire support systems as responsibe as armed helicopters. Their quick reaction, volume of fire and accuracy of fire has led to the Viet Cong fearing armed helicopters more than any other means of fire support. This in itself, speaks for the overall worth of the armed helicopters.
b. Countless outposts and watch towers and district towns during the Viet Cong TET offensive have been saved from the Viet Cong by use of armed helicopters alone because other support means were not available or the VC were positioned so close to the friendly elements that air and artillery could not be employed without endangering the friendly forces. In additions, a great many outposts and district towns were resupplied which could not have been accomplished without armed helicopter support.
c. Delta terrain which is characterized by flat ricelands interlaced with dense treelines, innumerable streams and canals of varying sizes, virgin swamps with high grass and dense vegetation and mud that is fatiguing to troops, dictates the use of helicopter transports for deploying reaction forces and assaults on known VC bases. Transport by boat is normally limited to rivers and deep canals and by truck to roads that reach into only a few areas. In order to counter VC antiaircraft weapons when using the helicopter transport to traverse Delta terrain the helicopter gunship must be employed. The gunships neutralize and suppress enemy fires that are essential in defeating the VC in Delta terrain and at the same time protect the transports carrying troops.
3. I have the greatest admiration for the pilots and crews of the armed helicopter companies supporting the 41st DTA. Their willingness, cooperation and professional skills are to be commended. Without armed helicopters available, the waging of battle in this DTA would be most difficult, if not impossible.
WILLIAM M. CALNAN
s/joe d. berry
t/JOE D. BERRY
A TRUE COPY:
JAMES L. PERSON
STATISTICAL DATA (29 Jan - 29 Feb 68)
|1. HOURS FLOWN||101||479||1,832||999||5,389|
|2. SORTIES FLOWN||47||762||2,532||306||6.053|
|3. TROOPS TRANSPORTED||93|
|4. CARGO TRANSPORTED||2|
5. AIRCRAFT DAMAGED ON THE GROUND
DUE TO HOSTILE ACTION
|6. AIRCRAFT RECEIVING HITS IN FLIGHT||17||29||8||44|
|7. AIRCRAFT SHOTDOWN||1|
|8. NUMBER OF VR MISSIONS FLOWN||67||454||97||3,727|
|9. NUMBER OF PHOTO MISSIONS FLOWN||23||5|
|10. NUMBER OF SL R MISSIONS FLOWN||182|
|11. NUMBER OF IR MISSIONS FLOWN||187|
|12. NUMBER OF STRUCTURES DESTROYED||493||1,197||61|
|13. NUMBER OF SAMPANS DESTROYED||56||374||157|
ARMED HELICOPTER QUESTIONNAIRE
1. What type missions have your gunships performed since 31 Dec 67?
a. Close air support (Combat-in-cities and airmobile operations)
b. Direct fire support (LZ preparation)
c. Visual reconnaissance
d. Armed reconnaissance
e. Escort missions
f. Screening force for ARVN troops
g. Advanced guard for assaulting ARVN troops
h. Conduct of Items a through f at night
2. Could these missions have been accomplished by other means? If not, why?
It is extremely doubtful that anything other than armed helicopters could have performed these missions. The gunships were immediately available and responsive to the advisors in IV Corps. Requests followed a much clearer command line for contact of armed helicopters than other assets. The missions assigned were almost entirely short fuzzed and time was the prime factor. Air Force tactical air would not engage targets close to the troops with out first asking for relief of all responsibility for safety of the ground elements. A great majority of all attacks started during the hours of darkness; the armed helicopter gunships continued to operate with artificial illumination and provided identical support to that possible during daylight hours. No other airborne weapons platform was available in the majority of the attacks. During many of the attacks it was found that too much reliance was placed upon the gunships when artillery was available. It was quite difficult to get ARVN artillery to fill the gaps when gunships had to engage the target having seen muzzle flashes of incoming weapons. The artillery at Soc Trang did not even have prior concentrations ??????? that proper shift techniques could be employed. Therefore the majority of counter battery fire was effected by the helicopter gunships.
3. During the TET Offensive, did your gunships play an important role?
The gunships of this battalion were most probably the deciding factor in the defeat of the Viet Cong in Can Tho city and Can Tho airfield. The quick massing of fire power possible with gunships in the primary principle which makes the gunship such an asset. The 235th AHC destroyed 1,690 structures, 430 sampans, killed 894 Viet Cong and wounded 653 during the 29 January - 29 February time period. The majority of the claims are for the cities of Can Tho, Tra Vinh, My Tho, Ben Tre, Vinh Long, Moc Hoa and Tieu Can. The most singular asset which was responsible for turning the tide of the VC offensive in IV Corps was the armed helicopters of the 164th CAG.
4. During the TET Offensive, did Air Force aircraft share in the defense of your airfield and to what extent?
Can Tho Airfield: The first Air Force strike was at first light of the morning following the night of the first attack on 31 January 1968. As mentioned in basic letter armed helicopters were airborne within 3 minutes of the attack. During 31 January and the next 5 days, daylight strikes were employed to within 3,000 meters of the airfield. Air Force "Spooky" (AC-47) aircraft were generally available but stand off altitude of 3,000 feet does not allow for effective observation of the target being engaged. The cloud layer on 31 January 1968 precluded the use of "Spooky".
5. What increase in capabilities over current gunships are desirable in future gunships? Why?
a. A larger caliber point fire weapon, preferably 20 or 30mm cannon on a 360 degree flexible mount with a greater selectivity of warheads are needed. Weapons of this type would allow a stand off capability to engage large caliber anti-aircraft weapons such as 50 cal. or 12.7mm prior to entering area to destroy personnel and positions.
b. Ability to carry a larger ordnance load is desirable. This capability would allow for a greater selectivity with all weapons while in flight and also would allow a longer station time.
c. More airspeed in straight and level flight is desirable. The AH-1G has adequate speed in a diving attack and for visual reconnaissance low level; however, to disengage from a low level target attack or from a target of opportunity engaged low level, more dash speed is necessary to insure less vulnerability.
6. Please give all factual written statistical data available, based on the experiences of your unit, which would support the following contentions:
a. The UH-1 gunship is providing important support not available from the Air Force or any other means.
The UH-1 gunship is providing all of the support mentioned in questions number 1. It would be impossible to escort an air column of slicks with any of the fixed wing attack aircraft we have at the present time. Weather restricts fixed wing aircraft that does not affect helicopters. The maneuverability of a helicopter air column dictates that it be escorted with something of comparable ability. The UH-1 gunships are capable of spotting and delivering accurate fire power upon the enemy with immediate response. The capability to recon by fire and observe the results can only be accomplished by gunships.
b. The AH-1G can provide better support than the UH-1 gunships.
The AH-1G (Cobra) has been highly successful in the conduct of combat operations here in IV Corps. This aircraft has been able to assume all of the missions presently assigned to older UH-1B/C model gunships. The speed and the increased ordnance load coupled with the versatility and accuracy of the armament systems has made the aircraft exceed the capabilities of our gunships plus give us the ability to provide wider tactical capabilities.
7. If gunships had not been available in your area of operation during the TET Offensive, what would the probable results have been? Why?
The general consensus of opinion is that the armed helicopters in IV Corps were the most singular factor in turning back the Viet Cong offensive. The VC would most probably have occupied all 3 of the major airfields for a period of time. The length of the offensive would have been much longer. The gunships were the only direct fire support for the airfields during some phases of the initial offensive. The tenure of the Viet Cong in cities was always shortened by the arrival of gunships with their ability to ferret out the VC in their hiding places in the cities and to catch the VC in the open as he attempted to retreat,
Documentation by: 1st Sgt. Joe White
Coding/Graphics by: Joe Moore