The Early Days (Continued)
September 24th, 1963 brought to a close the 45th Transportation
Battalion and gave birth to the 145th Combat Aviation Battalion. With the
redesignation of the 45th a new chapter in aviation history began. The
second and last 45th Battalion Commander in Vietnam, LTC. Kenneth D.
Mertel, became the first Commander of the 145th Combat Aviation Battalion
and continued the "Old Warriors" proud history. The new 145th retained the
slogan earned by the 45th, "First In Vietnam". The slogan originally given
to the 45th for being the first Aviation Battalion in Vietnam would take
on a new meaning in the 145th, the meaning of being first and formost in
all aspects of airmobile tactics and equipment.
The 145th started it's history with the units of the UTT, 18th Avn,
117th AHC, 118th AHC, 120th AHC, HHC 145th CAB, and elements of the 57th
MED DET., having lost the 119th AHC to the 52nd CAB and the 121st to Delta
Avn. Bn.. The units of the 145th continued their mission of supporting the
South Vietnamese Units and working out airmobile tactics that would be the
basis for all airmobile operations through out the war.
LTC. Mertel turned over command of the 145th to LTC. Charles M.
Grandelli on the 29th of November 1963. After the riots and overthrow of
the Dien government in November 1963 the news media started to notice the
Vietnam War. Under the command of LTC. Grandelli the largest heliborne
assault operation ever executed by US Forces in support of ARVN troops
took place on the 17th and 18th of January 1964. LTC. Grandelli carried on
the very fine traditions of the 145th untill the 30th of March 1964 when
he turned over command to LTC. John C. Hughes.
Due to their efforts the 145th Battalion and Airlift Platoon, UTT,
118th AHC, and the 120th AHC was awarded the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry
for operations between 2 June 1964 to 12 June 1964.
21 July 1964 brought about another change of command when LTC. Hughes
turned over command to LTC. Robert K. Cunningham. Shortly there after in
August of 1964 the UTT was redesignated the 68th Aviation Company, this
was just a name change the personnel, equipment and mission remained the
In October 1964 the 18th Aviation Company (Fixed Wing) was
transferred to the 14th Combat Aviation Battalion.
March of 1965 brought about many changes in the 145th. The 68th
Aviation Company, formerly the UTT, went throught another name change, now
the 197th Aviation Company. The 74th Aviation Company (Fixed Wing) and
Company A/501st Aviation Battalion arrived in Vietnam and was assigned to
the 145th. With the addition of the two new units the 145th was larger
then ever before.
The first unit in Army Aviation to receive the Presidential Citation
for Vietnam service was awarded to the 197th Aviation Company (Armed
Helicopter) for their actions from 1 April 1965 to 3 April 1965.
In May of 1965 Company A/82nd Aviation Battalion arrived in Vietnam
and would soon become officially part of the 145th. As with many units
that arrived before and after this one many of the personnel from other
units of the 145th and the new unit would be exchanged. The reason for
this was to bring experienced personnel to the new unit and to help break
up the DEROS dates. This also served to unite the units of the 145th into
one fighting unit.
Distinguished Unit Citation were awarded to the 145th C.A.B., 117th
AHC, 118th AHC, 120th AHC, 197th AHC, and Company A/501st Avn. BN. for
their actions between 10 June 1965 to 13 June 1965.
24 June 1965 LTC. Cunningham turned over command of the 145th to LTC.
Charles M. Honour Jr.. As it would turn out LTC. Robert K. Cunningham
would be the longest 145th Battalion Commander in Vietnam, serving as
Battalion Commander for 11 months and 2 days. And LTC. Honour would be the
only Battalion Commander to be Killed in Action with the 145th.
In August of 1965 the 117th Aviation Company would be transferred to
the 52nd Combat Aviation Battalion not to be returned untill 1968.
November of 1965 brought about another award for the 145th C.A.B.,
the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Palm for its service from 29
December 1964 to 4 November 1965. On November 15, 1965 the youngest Army
Aviator to be Killed in Combat in South Vietnam was Dana Edward Brann, 19,
born August 8, 1947. He died in action while serving with the 120th
Aviation Company, may he rest in peace. November also brought the return
of the 68th Aviation Company to the Battalion. Although the 68th got its
name from the other 68th that served with the Battalion, this 68th was a
brand new unit. The new 68th worked hard to up hold the image of the other
68th it was named after, after a short time the members of the other 68th
(197th) began to accept the new unit. The Meritorious Unit Commendation
was awarded to the 197th AHC for its outstanding service from May to