52D Combat Avn Bn 3Q67 Operational Report

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DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY
HEADQUARTERS, 52D COMBAT AVIATION BATTALION
APO San Francisco  96318
"FLYING DRAGONS"

AVGD                                                                                              6 November 1967

SUBJECT:    Operational Report for Quarterly Period Ending 31 October 1967
                       RCS-CSFOR

TO:                 See Distribution

 

SECTION I - Significant Organizational Activities

    1.    (C)    General:  This report covers the period 1 August 1967 through 31 October 1967, and is submitted in compliance with Headquarters I Field Force Vietnam Regulation 1-3 dated 23 March 1967, and Headquarters 17th Combat Aviation Group Regulation 1-3, dated 12 July 1967.

            a.    Mission:    The mission of the 52d Combat Aviation Battalion (Flying Dragons) is to provide aviation support to US Forces, Republic of Vietnam Forces and Free World Assistance Forces operating in the II Corps area, with priority to the 4th Infantry Division.

            b.    Station Plan:    The 52d Combat Aviation Battalion is stationed at Camp Holloway, Pleiku, RVN, and is commanded by LTC Edward P. Lukert Jr.  Subordinate elements consist of the following units:  (Detailed list of detachments is shown in enclosure 1).

                    (1)    Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment - Pleiku, RVN.

                    (2)    119th Assault Helicopter Company - Pleiku, RVN.  Equipped with UH-1H and UH-1C (A) helicopters.

                    (3)    155th Assault Helicopter Company - Ban Me Thuot, RVN.   Equipped with UH-1H and UH-1C (A) helicopters.

                    (4)    170th Assault Helicopter Company - Pleiku, RVN.   Equipped with UH-1H and UH-1C (A) helicopters.

                    (5)    189th Assault Helicopter Company - Pleiku, RVN.   Equipped with UH-1H and UH-1C (A) helicopters.

                    (6)    57th Assault Helicopter Company - Kontum, RVN.   Equipped with UH-1H and UH-1C (A) helicopters.  (Not operational as of 31 Oct 67)

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                    (7)    179th Assault Support Helicopter Company - Pleiku, RVN.  Equipped with CH-47A and OH-23G helicopters.

                c.    Type aircraft authorized and on hand as of 31 October 1967:

                                                        AUTHORIZED     ON HAND

                        (1)    UH-1C                    32                    29

                        (2)    UH-1C*                    2                      0

                        (3)    UH-1H*                  92                    81

                        (4)    CH-47A                  16                    16

                        (5)    U-6A                         1                      1

                        (6)    OH-23*                     0                      2

                                 TOTAL                 143                   129

                                  *  issued to 179th ASHC in lieu of 2 UH-1C aircraft.  OH-23's utilized by Hq, 17th CAG.  Totals do not include 57th AHC aircraft.  (For a more detailed account, see inclosure 2)

    2.    (C)    Intelligence:  The Battalion S-2 Section continued to publish a daily INTSUM which is distributed to all units of the battalion, non-battalion tennants of Camp Holloway, Hz, 17th Combat Aviation Group, Hq, 4th Aviation Battalion, Hq, 4th Infantry Division and 633d Combat Support Group at New Pleiku AFB.

            a.    Enemy activity in the Central Highlands has been comparatively light for the entire period.  In early August there was a limited continuation of enemy activity in Northwestern Kontum Province.  The expected build-up of activity before the September 3rd election failed to materialize.  Throughout the remainder of the period, activity has been characterized by a great deal of unit movement with a noticeable increase during the last half of October.  This activity seemed to culminate in the 26 October 122mm rocket attack against US/GVN installations to the North of Pleiku City.  Significant isolated events were:  23 August, 1/4 Division forward CP received 40-50 122mm rockets; 26 August, 155th Assault Helicopter Company compound, Ban Me Thuot, received 60 rounds of 60mm mortar fire; 23 September, a fire of suspicious origin in the class III yard of the 88th S&S Battalion, Camp Holloway; 26 October, 45 rounds of 122mm rocket fire received in the general vicinity of II Corps Headquarters and the MACV compound, Pleiku.  It is expected that the areas of enemy activity will be directed against the Special Forces Camps along the border.  There will be increased sabotage activities and a continued strong probability of mortar/ambushes on Highways 14 and 19 should be expected.

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            b.    Ground to air fire was reported on 64 occasions resulting in 45 aircraft hit, no crew members killed, however 9 crew members were wounded in action.  Of the aircraft shot at, 33 were UH-1H's, 24 UH-1C's, and 7 were CH-47's.  Altitudes of aircraft receiving hits varied from 20 feet to 4,500 feet; specifically, 10 received hits below  500 feet, 8 received hits between 500-1000 feet, 7 between 1000-2000 feet, 13 between 3000-4500 feet, and 7 at an unknown altitude.

            c.    Major activities of the S-2 Section during this period have been the implementation of USARV Reg 190-20 and the issuing of the new USARV Form 361, Standard Gate Pass, for Camp Holloway.  However, additional security checks will be necessary since local nationals apparently are able to "purchase" the required MSS clearances.  An immediate result has been an increased awareness of the indigenous employees on post.  It has also caused employing agencies to account for their employees which was not done in the past.  It is expected that a ceiling will be placed on hiring of indigenous employees by controlling the number admitted on post.  Distribution facilities are being installed in central locations on post to distribute leaflets encouraging all indigenous personnel to provide any information pertaining to enemy activities. (See inclosure 3)

            d.    The Intelligence Section of the 155th Assault Helicopter Company continues to have the responsibility of gathering intelligence information on the Ban Me Thuot area and receiving reports from all local civilian agents and military organizations in the Ban Me Thuot area.

            e.    Intelligence briefings and indoctrinations were given to the newest member of the battalion, the 57th Aviation Company, in Kontum.  A basic load of maps and other necessary forms and references were provided.

    3.    (C)    Operations and Training Activities

            a.    Operations                    

                    (1)    Support:  The 52d Combat Aviation Battalion (Flying Dragons), supported numerous operations including: Francis Marion (73 days), Horace Greeley (22 days), MacArthur (19 days), Project Omega (92 days), FOB #2 (92 days), 52d Arty (81 days), Press Camp (81 days) and Project Delta (10 days).  In addition aviation support was provided to II Corps Hq (92 days), Co "B", 5th SFG (92 days), Pleiku Sub Area Command (1 day) and other units within the 17th Combat Aviation Group (11 days).  In general during the reporting period, the "Flying Dragons" supported II Corps with one assault helicopter company; 4th Infantry Division with two assault helicopter companies and one assault support helicopter company, and II Corps ARVN with one assault helicopter company.  The percentage of the battalions lift capability allocated, by month, was as follows:

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                                AUG    SEP     OCT

                                                                 4th Inf Div        64%    63%    62%

                                                                 ARVN              12%    11%    14%

                                                                 Other                24%    26%    24%

(For a detailed sequence of significant events and statistics, see inclosure 4; for a map of operational area, see inclosure 5)

                    (2)    Operational Statistics (1 Aug - 31 Oct 67)

                    CMBT           OTHER        UH-1C        UH-1H        CH-47A
                    SORTIES      SORTIES **HOURS  **HOURS  **HOURS

                    89,038            21,529           6,297            23,678        3,756

                    TOTAL                                CARGO      A/C             A/C
                **HOURS         PAX               TONS         HIT           *DAM/DEST

                    33,731            155,851          21,994         45                50/7  

                   CREW MEM ENEMY       STRUCT   MED   SORTIES DELAY
                  *INJ/K             KBA             DEST        EVACS OR CXL FOR WX

                    18/8                 58                   11              310               3,065

*    includes results of hostile fire and accidents
**  adjusted DA Form 1352 time

                    (3)    Valorous Unit Award:  On 21 September 1967, by direction of the Secretary of the Army, the Flying Dragons with assigned and attached units, received the Valorous Unit Award (First Oak Leaf Cluster) for extra ordinary heroism during military operations against a hostile force near Duc Co, Republic of Vietnam, (28-30 May 1966).  See inclosure 6 for the complete text of the citation.

                    (4)    Airmobile Operations:  The 52d Combat Aviation Battalion conducted several battalion size airmobile combat assaults during this reporting period.  The employment technique, although not uncommon in Vietnam, is unique in this area and increased the ground commander's effectiveness immeasurably.  Loss of some reaction time was experienced, due to the absolute necessity for sound prior planning by the lifted unit.

                    (5)    CH-47A Support:  During this quarter, the increased demand for CH-47 support in the Central Highlands continued.  This demand made iat necessary to reinforce the 179th Assault Support Helicopter Company on several occasions with aircraft from the 180th Aslt Spt Hel Co and the 196th Aslt Spt Hel Co, for short period.  The 179th Aslt Spt Hel Co

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     maintained an average of 152% of the Department of the Army flying program throughout the reporting period.  In the month of August, the unit set an all time record of 1,415 hours flown, over 177% of the DA program.

                    (6)    335th Assault Helicopter Company:  In mid September the 335th Aslt Hel Co departed this operational area with the 173d Abn Bde.  The 52d Cbt Avn Bn was relieved of logistical and administrative responsibilities to the 335th Aslt Hel Co at that time.  Statistical data included in this report does not include data on that company.

                    (7)    57th Assault Helicopter Company Arrival:  The advance party of the 57th arrived in Pleiku on 14 October 1967.  They were welcomed and briefed by the battalion commander and staff, and immediately started preparation for the main body.  The main body of the 57th Assault Helicopter Company deployed to Vietnam beginning 23 October 1967, and completed the move on 26 October 1967.  The company was assigned to the 52d Combat Aviation Battalion and will operate from their base at Kontum, RVN.  The unit's aircraft and equipment arrived at Vung Tau, RVN, on 31 October 1967.  A small delegation from the company was sent to Vung Tau to organize the shipment of aircraft and equipment to Kontum.  The remainder of the company worked feverishly on the base camp to complete it before the arrival of their TO&E equipment.  Pilots and crews were given their in-country orientation and trained with other organic units within the 52d Combat Aviation Battalion from 29 October through the end of the month.  The proposed operational date for the 57th is 15 November 1967.

(For problem areas of receiving, processing and training new aviation units, see Section II, Part I, para 1).

                    (8)    Major Operations Supported:    The 52d Combat Aviation Battalion completed support to Operations Horace Greeley and Francis Marion during the reporting period.  (For aviation support statistics, see inclosure 7).

                    (9)    Weather:  During the month of August, the weather was characterized by low ceilings and poor visibility, due to ground fog and rain.  Early take-offs were precluded by IMC conditions until mid-day and generally required the return of aircraft prior to 1700 hours.  Winds were predominantly out of the WSW during this period.  In late September, the winds began shifting to the NNE bringing better weather and improved flying conditions.  Early morning ground fog, lifting after 0900 hrs local, continued through mid October.  From 16 October until 31 October the weather was generally CAVU.  The winds shifted to ENE, bringing cooler temperatures and excellent flying conditions.  (For more detailed meteorological data, see inclosure 4).

            b.    Training

                    (1)    Replacement training was reorganized and given increased command emphasis during this period.  This training is now conducted bi-monthly at battalion level and covers the entire training spectrum as

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outlined in 17th CAG directive 350-1.  The level of the instruction is closely monitored by the battalion training officer.  Inadequate availability of training aids, continues as a problem area.

                    (2)    Aviation Training continues at company level, with command emphasis on the following subjects:

                            (a)    Instrument training

                            (b)    Pre-Flight inspections

                            (c)    Monsoon weather procedures

                            (d)    Emergency procedures

                            (e)    Cross-country flight planning

         (f)    Use of "go-no-go" chart

                            (g)    Use of "Max Gross Weight" chart

                            (h)    Rules of engagement

                            (i)    Escape and Evasion

                    (3)    Battalion safety has developed a combination of charts, extracted from TM 55-1520-211-10, enabling gun pilots to make quick, accurate computations of max gross weight for current geographic and atmospheric operation conditions.  This chart is readily available in all UH-1C aircraft.  (See inclosure 8)

                    (4)    The standardization section planned and initiated a comprehensive training program for 45 newly assigned aviators of the 57th Assault Helicopter Company.  Initial in-country orientation requirements were completed in four days by a training team comprised of experienced instructor pilots.  Following this initial training, the aviators were assigned to fly on combat missions with aircraft commanders from operational units.

                    (5)    Selected aviators from units within the 52d Combat Aviation Battalion attended a four day instrument Flight Training program which was designed to prepare them for instrument instructor pilot duties.

            c.    Research and Development:  Within this reporting period, the 52d Combat Aviation Battalion took part in, continued or completed the following tests to the degree indicated:

                    (1)    Special purpose equipment:  a zeon light was installed on a UH-1H model helicopter for testing.  This light is employed with armed helicopters and used for night reconnaissance missions in conjunction

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with the Camp Holloway defense system.  Initial testing results of this device are very favorable, when employed in the immediate Pleiku-Camp Holloway TAOR.  However, its effectiveness is limited in areas of heavy vegetation.  Testing continues.

                    (2)    "Snoopy" - The testing of the man pack "people sniffing" devices installed in UH-1C aircraft was completed during this period.  Results of this test indicated that this device, when installed in helicopters, is ineffective.  The device has a sensing rate of once every 15-20 seconds, and in addition, 9 to 15 seconds are required for readings to register.  Airspeed of the aircraft averages 80 KPH (132 FPS) and therefore the target area is 800-1350 meters away before readings are received.  It was also found that the air speed sensings were too small to be effective for aerial employment.

                    (3)    "Ringtrop" - Airdrop of anti-personnel devices in large quantities.  Testing on this device is complete.  However, results of these tests have not reached this headquarters.  Large quantities of these devices are on hand, and will be employed upon request from major tactical units operating in this area.

        4.    (C)    Logistics:

             a.    Class I:

                    (1)    No significant problems.

                    (2)    The 57th Assault Helicopter Company established Class I account in October.

            b.    Class II:

                    (1)    350 GPM pump and filter and Holloway.

                    (2)    Rough Terrain Fork Lift at 155th Assault Helicopter Company.

            c.    Class III adn IIIA:

                    (1)    No significant problems.  Short fuse missions continue to require fuel to be transported by organic helicopter airlift, however close coordination and timely warning orders have kept this requirement to a minimum.  POL storage and pumping facilities at three fixed locations and five field sites handled a total of over 3 million gallons of fuel required by battalion aircraft.

                    (2)    The mini-port POL system continues to show improvement.  Use of the 350 gallon per minute pump and filter allow a reduction in tanker requirements of 50% at Camp Holloway.  All UH-1 slick aircraft are

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now refueled at the mini-port.  Future planning calls for a ten nozzle mini-port to be incorporated into the new helipad complex at Holloway Army Airfield.

            d.    Class IV:    No significant material shortages.

            e.    Class V & VI:    Support availability continues to be excellent.  New type ammunition (Piggy Back Rounds) has been procured for evaluation.

            f.    Command emphasis was placed on Material Readiness, Mess Management, and Fire Prevention during October 1967.

            g.    The 57th Assault Helicopter Company arrived in country assigned to the 52d Combat Aviation Battalion during October.  The company  was moved by air and trucks to the Kontum Airfield where they have constructed a temporary cantonment area.  The permanent area plan was submitted for approval and issuance of a construction directive.  (See inclosure 9)

    5.    (U)    Civil Affairs

            a.    The Battalion Civic Action Officer, the Battalion Chaplain and volunteers from subordinate units are now engaged in civic action activities in five Montagnard villages in the battalion area of operations.  The battalion continues to receive many boxes of soap, vitamins and clothing from friends in the US.  AS new personnel arrive, so do new sources of donations.  These items are being distributed through village chiefs, the Pleiku Province Hospital, the Evangelical Hospital, and the Christian and Missionary Alliance.  The battalion conducts medical assistance clinics, with emphasis on hygiene; eg, washing and treating skin disorders.  The Battalion Civic Action Fund continues to receive donations from organizations interested in the program.

            b.    Specifically, the Chaplain contributed:

                    (1)    Over 25 boxes of sheets, clothing, soap and drug items which were received from churches and individuals in the states.  These were distributed for use by the CMA missionaries and the VNCS Clinic-Hospital.

                    (2)    A sewing machine was donated to the VNCS Clinic-Hospital.

                    (3)    Approximately 200 cases of surplus food from units at Camp Holloway were distributed to the Montagnard tribes through the CMA missionaries.

                    (4)    The Catholic congregation collected over $150 in special offerings for construction of a new church for the local parish.

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                    (5)    The Protestant congregation collected over $200 in special offerings for the construction of a library for the local Jerai (Montagnard) Church.

    (6)    (C)    Personnel

            a.    PIO Activities During the Period August - October 1967.

                    (1)    Feature stories submitted:    15

                    (2)    Home town news releases submitted:    42

                    (3)    Nightly reports of daily aviation activities were furnished by subordinate elements during the reporting period.  Company level support has improved over the last reporting period; however, feature highlights for days activities remain insufficient, and the PIO effort has suffered as a whole.

            b.    Special Services Activities for the Period August - October.

                    (1)    During the period a total of 350 out-of-country R&R quotas were received.  Of these, 342 quotas were filled.  The "no-show" rate decreased due to closer coordination between the SSO and assigned units.

                    (2)    A total of 20 in-country R&R quotas were received, 14 for EM and 6 for officers.  This is a favorable increase over the last reporting period.

                    (3)    The Arts and Craft Shop was opened in August and is now operating four days weekly.  Primary interests are in leather goods, model building and photography.

            c.    Awards and Decorations

                    (1)    Total number of awards and decorations submitted during this period:

        AWARDS                                                                        NUMBER 

        Distinguished Service Cross                                                           1

        Silver Star                                                                                        2

        Distinguished Flying Cross                                                            28

        Other                                                                                            2526

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                    (2)    Total number of awards and decorations approved and returned during this period:  497.

            d.    Personnel Problems During the Period August - October 1967.

                    The battalion is still experiencing difficulty receiving replacements in our critical MOS shortages:  Communications (MOS 35 series), Helicopter Tech Inspectors (MOS 67N), Helicopter Crew Chiefs (MOS 67N), Clerk Typist (MOS 71B) and Armament Maintenance Personnel (MOS 45 series).  The battalion continues to be extremely short of personnel in MOS 11B.

            e.    Command Changes

                    The following new commanders assumed command during August, September and October 1967:

        COMMANDER                                UNIT                                DATE

        LTC Edward P. Lukert Jr.                52 Cbt Avn Bn                    6 Sep 67

        MAJ Jessie E. Stewart                    170th Aslt Hel Co               20 Sep 67

        MAJ Wilbur R. Mixter                    405th Trans Det                 20 Sep 67

        MAJ David C. Whitworth                402d Trans Det                    1 Oct 67

        MAJ Donald R. McCabe                179th Aslt Spt Hel Co          3 Oct 67

       *MAJ Bernard R. Allman                57th Aslt Hel Co                 14 Oct 67

        CPT Philip C. Ashley                        545th Trans Det                 17 Oct 67

       *MAJ Niles C. Clark Jr.                   615th Trans Det                 25 Oct 67

        NOTE:  * does not indicate date individuals assumed command of respective units, only when they reported in-country as elements of this command.

            f.    Gains and Losses

                    (1)    The following gains and losses occurred during August - October 1967:

                            (a)        GAINS        OFF            EM

                                        August            18              41

                                        September      30              66

                                        October           24              54

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                            (b)    LOSSES            OFF            EM

                                     August                 28                63

                                     September           25                82

                                     October                25                68

                    (2)    At present the battalion is 133 EM and 45 Officers and Warrant Officers below TO&E strength.

            g.    Morale - The morale of enlisted and officer personnel throughout the battalion remained exceptionally high.  This was due primarily to:

                    (1)    Maximum recognition for job accomplishment through promotions, awards and decorations, and letters of appreciation.

                    (2)    Liberal leave and R&R policies.

                    (3)    Continually improving standards of living.

                    (4)    Availability of  post facilities.

                    (5)    Continual indoctrination in job performance and mission orientation.

            h.    Religious Activities During the Period August - October 1967.

                    (1)    During the quarter the Battalion Chaplain was responsible for all religious activities at Camp Holloway and at operational sites.  Protestant services were conducted by the Battalion Chaplain.  Religious services were provided for the 155th at Ban Me Thuot on a weekly basis by the Protestant missionaries and the Catholic Chaplain from MACV.  Catholic services for Camp Holloway were conducted each Sunday by the PSAC Chaplain.  Transportation was provided from Camp Holloway to the 18th Surgical Hospital Chapel each Friday for Jewish personnel.  During the quarter, a Sunday morning Protestant congregation continued to attend the hymn-sing at the CMA compound each Sunday.  Two cook-outs were held jointly with the CMA missionaries during the quarter.  The evening service for the Protestant congregation increased during the period.  Dramatic films produced by the Billy Graham Association were show twice each month.

                    (2)    The following additions and improvements have been made to the Chapel and grounds in the quarter:

                            (a)    A piano was donated to the Chapel by MAJ Kraph of the 170th Assault Helicopter Company.

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                            (b)    The front yard area of the Chapel was sodded and a white border fence erected.

                            (c)    An outside bulletin/announcement board was erected.

    7.    (U)    PSYOPS:

            The battalion continues supporting the Chieu Hoi and Hoi Chanh Programs, and distributes leaflets and rally instructions periodically.  The battalion now has distributed more than one million such leaflets and safe conduct passes.  This augments the 4th Infantry Division program in the western portion of Pleiku Province.  These activities are programmed in known or suspected enemy areas of operation and are the responsibility of the Psyops Officer.  (See Inclosure 10)

    8.    (C)    Safety and Standardization

            a.    Staff Visits:  The assignment of an additional officer to this section has permitted increased staff visits to subordinate battalion units.  During these visits, instructor pilots are briefed on items of light standardization and training; check-rides are conducted.  Unit operations are observed during single and multiple-ship missions.  After action reports are furnished the unit commander with recommendations.

            b.    Safety:  Statistics reflect that nine aircraft were destroyed and twelve lives were lost as a result of the eleven major accidents that occurred during this period.  The accident rate for the 33,731  flight hours was 32.2 per 100,000 hours.  The following represents accident cause factors and frequency of occurrence:

                    CAUSE                                                                            NUMBER

                    (1)    Maintenance or material failure                                     4

                    (2)    Inadvertent low level weather entry at night                  1

                    (3)    Tail rotor struck revetment                                             1

                    (4)    Aircraft overloaded and lost RPM on takeoff                1

                    (5)    Contaminated fuel                                                            1

                    (6)    Loose equipment struck tail rotor causing                      1
                             antitorque failure

                    (7)    Late recovery attempt from descent                               1

                    (8)    Antitorque failure (investigation in progress)                 1

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            c.    Accident Prevention:    Thorough investigations of all accidents were conducted to determine

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