Golden Flight (lst Lift Platoon) 190th Assault Helieopter Cornpany
Period: 29 December 1967 - 26 January 1968
The notes recorded in this log were written upon completion of
assault missions by members of the platoon at the direction of the
platoon leader partly as the result of the loss of one of our finest
aircraft commanders, Charlie Wilcox who was killed in action in a combat
assault against elements of the Phu Loi Regiment on the 7th of December
1967. 29 DEC 67 Mission CA Time 02 + 30 26 sorties Insert and Extract.
2nd Plt had the lead. We went back to the LZ of Dec 7, Near Phu
XT748166. There was a 45 minute arty prep, 8" and l05mm. There was also
an air strike and finally a three minute gunship prep. Full suppression
on the north side with the slicks on short final. The north side of (he
LZ was smoked. Approach heading was 120. Trees bordered the north and
south sides of the LZ. The zone was open and wet. The slicks were
airborne for the end of the TAC Air Prep and were able to roll in with
the gun prep. The smoke ship, compensating for wind flew parallel and
slightly ahead of the slick lead on final blocking the tree line to the
north from view of the flight.
On lift - off Chalk 8 received fire and marked with smoke. The
and distance of fire was estimated and the area was engaged by the
Gladiators (Gun platoon).
Four ships, I stby and 3 lift made the second lift. The rest of the
flight went to Cu Chi to refuel. On the second lift no supression. On
lift off Chalk 2 got a clip detector light. He was going to put it down
on the spot but received AW fire and he moved to a more secure area. He
dropped out of the flight and the maintenance officer flew the ship to
Confusion resulted later in the day about the position of the ships in
The AC's have been instructed to take their physical number by counting
in the formation and to use that. All formations are to be by SOP unless
directed so by flight lead.
Whenever possible move the aircraft from the LZ site when in difficulty
if the site is not positively secure. The extraction was made in an open
area to the south - relatively secure area and on a road.
The 100 man element was inserted to probe suspected main force
in the area west of the Saigon River north of Phu Cong.
Only surperficial damage was sustained by chalk 2 - J. A.
31 December 67 CA 06 + 30 23 sorties Insert and Extract 1st PLT had lead
1 LZ, tall trees V of 5 No prep, only suitable LZ in the area -
extremely hazardous received AW fire lst lift into LZ 2nd lift received
sniper fire on appraoch to PZ in Vo Xu. Received the AW fire from left
side of 2nd LZ. Arty and air prep prior. Timing not bad. Smoke ship was
used, timing poor. Ships were on the ground and smoke was still above
them. 3rd LZ, received AW fire from the right on long final. Smoke too
high again. The timing of all prepa and inbound leg of final approach
should be very closely coordinated. Artillary in final prep was shut off
before lift ships were all cranked. The gap could have been significant.
one ship had one hit in LZ 2. 2nd LZ staggered trail lst time. 2nd
sortie trail around northern edge of LZ along tree line with full
supression on left side. Guns worked well all day. Troops were fast to
exit aircraft. 4th LZ to prepared strip. Went in cold in conjunction
with other AHC (Boomerangs)simultaneous insertions from opposite
directious (Ys470928) Simultaneous landings excellent use of airmobile
concept. Radio discipline is breaking down in the unit.- J. A.
Cancellare LZ I 2 lifts YT546180 LZ2 YT818307 LZ4 YT875296
l. Smoke plays an important part in any operation. It greatly reduces
the amount of accurate fire received from enemy.
2. ThC smoke ship must be as low as possible and must have sufficient
lead on slicks to have its cover at ground level when slicks are on
3. Smoke ship received brass form gunship in windshield. Must be
and coordinate all movement of all aircraft.
4. Slicks are not reporting fire rapidly - not using smoke and
is not accurate- J. A. Cancellare
2 JAN 68 CA Night TAC E 04 + 35 7 sorties Class V & Med Evac
XT550809 1/2 Hour Stby 0200 man HELOS Brief - freqs and coordinates from
OPNS 2 separate flights of 5 Golden to Dau Tieng Silver to Katum Golden
flt off at 0230 hrs, Radar vector to PZ from Paris Control. Arty FSB
under attack Picked up ammo and headed north. Broke flt into 2-2-1 and
contacted ground element. They got a hold on ARTY Couldn't accurately
advise on Arty. Checkcd w/C&C and ground. People not making much sense.
Decided to go in. Landed to 2 strobe lights. Almost crashed aircraft.
Spatial misorientation. Dust- went IFR & lost all sense of direction.
Did many unusual attitudes close to the ground. Mortars incoming. AW
fire all around Airstrikes in area. Miraculous nobody killed completed 3
sorties - med evaced 10 people. Total 40 - 50 med evaced by flight
Entire platoon did outstanding job. - much confusion.
1. to many helicopters in the area. Two AHC's were called in. One
have been sufficient- as a result conjestion in the later stages was a
problem. Aircraft became low on fuel and some were forced to return to
PZ with loads.
2. No common uniform Freq for participating AHCs
3. Guns were employed correctly. Engaged targets of opportunity and
stood by to render aid to slicks.
4. Round jammed in gunner's M-60 - took barrel off & round cooked
grazing individual, lodging in wallet.
Other unit lost 2 UHIDs in landing accident- cause dust &
Landed on top of other running UHlD. One CE killed - J.A. Cancellare
PS: 374 NVA KIA 135 US WIA 27 US KIA
No pathfinders used Wrong PZ emphasized 35 aircraft Katum 9 aircraft
tieng Dau Tieng had lighting and area suited to this type of operation.
4 JAN 68 CA 6 miles SW Phu Cong RVN
Originally conceived as a search and destroy operation. Troops were put
in to search canal lines and destroy bunkers. Briefirig at 0730 with
0830 crank. Opns Officer made jokes about the gravity of the situation
and posibility of strong enemy forces in the area. Remarked, "should be
a lot of incident bullet damage." No one appreciated these flippant
remarks. 2 LZs and 1 PZ originally set up for 90 sorties only 77
actually inserted. LZ 1 was preped and flight went in. Auto wpns fire on
second lift from left side. Smoke ship used with good results however
made five (5) lifts into the LZ- all same heading - could have been a
massacre if they had been waiting. Second LZ not worth memtioning. PZ is
a different story. Troops were lined up 360o. Flight landed and took off
270o. 1st lift (White Flight ) sat in the PZ for 5 minutes. PZ
supposedly organized by pathfinders - not the first time they have
screwed up royally. Second lift we had 5 ships and landed staggered
trail. Had a group of troops in the middle of the LZ. One ran into the
tail rotor of chalk 8 with a bangalore torpedo, knocked the tail rotor
and 90o gear box off which struck a man running behind him. Chalk 7
evacuated man to Saigon. Badly injured - head wounds with brain exposed.
Better off if he dies. Curious thing about this is that it doesn't
happen more often - ground troops always keep their heads down when
running or walking near an aircraft. Have watched numerous incidents of
troops and children run under tail rotors. No way in hell that crew can
keep them clear. Day ended uneventfully as far as enemy contact is
concerned. Always 60 - 70 N @ 500 - 1000'. This is extremely dangerous.
Also shallow under arched approaches continue to be SOP. This is going
to cost us dearly someday. Thomas A. Connelly
5 JAN 68 CA 32 sorties Insert and extract 08 + 45 The object of the
day's mission was to insert search and destroy elements in two locations
and a search and destroy and blocking force in a third location. LZ 1
and LZ 3 were proximasl to each other. LZ2 was not connected with the
other two insertions.
T O was at 0715 with a full fuel load. Time enroute was 50
reducing the ability of all elements to remain on station. The refuel
facilities at Blackhorse - the nearest to TAOR (30 minutes) were so slow
that a 160 lb difference resulted among aircraft in the flight. Later in
the day aircraft refueling first were shut down so the other aircraft in
the flight would be at equal levels after refueling.
LZ l, 3 flts from Vo Xu 1 f1t from Vo Dat
There was an exceptionally good air and arty prep in this LZ, 1
duration total. The LZ was slated as a 10 ship LZ but after the first
lift subsequent lifts were 5 ship. Elephant grass 8 - 10 ft high was
throughout the area and 60 - 80 foot trees were interspersed throughout
the LZ with 60 - 80 ft barriers surrounding the LZ. On the second
insertion lead aireraft had a main rotor blade strike. Suppression was
full on the first sortie and rules thereafter. Sporadic small arms fire
was encountered on the first lift. Smoke was used to good advantage and
gun cover was adequate and accurate. Weapons in the slicks were
performing well. Troops offloaded rapidly YT830264
LZ 2 had 20 to 30 foot obstacles but was suitable for 10 ships. Smoke
was used and the flight went in staggered trail left.
1/2 Hr of arty was used but it was shut off prior to the slicks
the PZ. No time was set for pickup and sufficient time was not allowed
for the slicks to take the safest route to the PZ. 1 lift here. 80 men.
LZ 3 YT825452 was a burned out village very dusty and full of ash and
dead tall trees. It was for the following reason. Obstacles 80 to 100
feet high man - made partially destroyed structures. Not adequate room
for 10 aircraft after they cleared the barriers with loads. Some ships
made a go around on final. Smoke was used and gun coverage was adequate.
The flight refueled once during the previous sequence of events and once
after. The flight stood by at Vo Dat, a very poorly sercured and exposed
runway which is extremely dusty.
Extractions were commenced at 1500 hours with one refuel stop after
first 4 extractions. l hour was lost for each refuel action, time en
route and 30 minutes for each at POL. The first extraction bordered a
treeline. Troops were lined up in trail and had traveled 4000 meters in
6 hours with light contact. After all were loaded a 7 man group waded
through 4 - 5 ft grass and chalk 7 was forced to hover up to the group.
This caused the flight to spend 4 minutes on the ground in a unsecured
area. THe treeline on the right was smoked and the troops boarded from
the left. The slicks fired into the woodline while waiting for loading
to be completed. Stray rounds ricocheted near the guns who were covering
above the tree line. There were no barriers in the PZ and it went
smoothly except for the time spent in the PZ.
The sccond extraction was at location YT815423. The area was also
suitable for extraction. Winds were favorable and the 30 ft barriers
were of little consequence. Full suppression was used in departing the
PZ. Minimal time was spent on the ground.
The last PZ was totally unsuitable. It was slightly north of the
morning's 3rd LZ. Dust and ash caused 4 aircraft to go around because of
the obstacles and the IFR conditions produced by the approach of the
first five ships.
The pickup was made down wind and with the existing obstacles was
difficult for all of the aircraft to negotiate. The flight refueled and
the C&C asked the ground commander to move the troops 200 meters
southwest to a much more suitable PZ. An hour and a half elapsed while
the aircraft were refueled and the troops were not moved. Subsequent
lifts were made into the wind. Dust and ash continued to plague the
flight. On the first extraction in this PZ one aircraft got a tree
strike and had to return to Bien Hoa. Another aircraft had a hot start
900o and had to return to Bien Hoa. Obstacles natural and artificial 8-
m- 100 ft tall had to be threaded through to land to the troops. The
flight returned to Bien Hoa at 1845.
l. The unit was not consulted for the coordination. The
instructions were passed through a disinterested 3rd party. There was no
recon of the LZ in advance to forcast difficulties which could have been
avoided. 2. The results were that 2 of the LZ's and one of the PZs were
unacceptable for the number of aircraft involved or the use in an
airmobile operation. 3. This was borne out by the fact that two aircraft
received blade damage in both insertions and extractions and numerous go
arounds were caused by the obstacles and ground conditions in the LZs
and PZs. 4. Refuel facilities are too far distant for efficient and
expeditious completion of the mission. 50% of the time on the aircraft
was spent in transit to or from POL and in POL.- J. A. Cancellare
2l JAN 68 Mission CA time 00 + 50 5 sorties Insertion Ist PLT had
lead. PZ was Lamsan. LZ 1 was XT818101. LZ2 was XT812098. Two lifts ACL
8 & 9 were made shortly after arrival at the PZ. The Gladiators and the
Playboys provided gun support which was outstanding. The LZs were
capable of handling 5 ships at best so the flight was split. The
insertions were made without incident. l. The barriers in the LZs were
close and on 4 sides. They were approximately 30 ft high. There was no
room to play in the event of an aircraft malfunction or an enemy held
LZ. It would have been better to use 3 ship lifts. J. A. Cancellare
25 JAN 1968, 05 + 30
CA 10 miles south of Phouc Vinh. Insertions.
Worked with the IOlst Abn Div again ! Cranked at 0720, T/O at
Briefing consisted of a few lines scratched on a piece of paper lying in
operations (really thurough!) All lifts went uneventful, received
negative fire all day. While enroute to lone LZ, UHF was blocked out by
a hot mike. An alternate radio was not used by C&C and lead or between
the flight. Consequently the flight overflew the LZ. If the enemy had
been in the area, it would have given him plenty of time to set up for
the flight. There was even smoke! Approaches were between 55 - 60 K,
1000 FPM descents, more like autorotations! This is going to cause some
serious results, one of these days.
At FSB Dave which was one of our PZs, the troops were supposed to
picked up in a staggered trail. The PZ also had many stumps, fences and
large pieces of wood and ponchos which could easily take off a tail
rotor. Troops still insist on departing the aircraft from one side. I
guess they'll learn when they get a whole squad shot in an LZ. We sat
anywhere from 30 - 40 minutes at Phouc Vinh at flight idle. This
happened twice! Very poor planning! In fact, thats the impression I get
in all their association with aircraft. - Raul L. Regalado
26 JAN 68 CA area approxirnacely 10 miles South & WesL of My Tho.
at 0630, Take Off at 0640.
First hazard of the day became evident on take off. Crew had wiped
windshield but done so inadequqtely, result was impaired vision becoming
much more apparent during hover and take off. A dirty windshield makes
the predawn hours much more precarious than they have to he, A smear job
is no better than not having the windshield wiped at all.
The second hazard manifested itself later in the day while refueling.
Not all POL. facilities have standard or excessive separation for POL
points. A 180o or 90o turn could put your tail into the following
aircraft even though you remain over the area marked for your skids. As
the day wears your judgement can be impaired by habit. Always ascertain
you have adequate room before entering a POL point and make your turn
slow enough to allow the crew ample time to clear your tail. The next
incident occurred in PZ #2 and wasn't an isolated incident without
precedent- it has happened before. After receiving fire on final and
short final we touched down. Chalk 8 had a weak ship and was unable to
carry a full load, he kicked one man off. Just a poor grunt with no FM
or UHF receiver, unable to discern what was happening, didn't know what
to do. Finally realizing predicament he went through the usual
proceedure of trying; to get on every aircraft but the right one. During
the course of events chalk 9's troops decided to unload and at this
point nobody knew what was happening. We spent five minutes plus in this
PZ which seems like an eternity with the enemy near. The lesson learned
here is that before kicking a grunt off ascertain you have a place for
him to go. Next and last was just a simple thing I learned through
seeing its application. I often envision the ground forces as being
somewhat inflexible and thought that asking for a change would be
tantamount to asking for confusion. There were numerous times however
which they were requested to realign their troops on different azimuths
in the PZs and did so with little difficulty. This enabled us to vary
approach paths and stay clear of more intense fire. Every operation has
its inherent hazards and moments of terror. The preceeding points are
those which remain foremost in my mind on this particular operation.
Steven O. Stillman.