THE BUILD-UP YEARS
1 January 1966 started off with LTC Charles M Honour commanding the
Battalion. In the next two years the 145th would be credited with many
"First" and many awards. Although I don't have the exact dates, the 145th
was the first Aviation Battalion to fly "Fire Fly" combat operations in
Vietnam and the first Aviation Battalion to fly "Smoke Ship"combat
operations in Vietnam. Starting in 1965 the Army started building up many
new helicopter units and battalions, Vietnam would become known as the
Helicopter War. The 145th played a large part in the build up and set the
example for other battalions to follow.
On 18 Febuary 1966 LTC Charles M Honour was killed in action. LTC
Horst K Joost, who was the executive officer of the 173d Airborne Brigade
at the time, replaced LTC Honour on 20 Febuary 1966.
The 1st Aviation Brigade was formed on the 1st of March 1966 and the
145th served under the 12th Group of the 1st Aviation Brigade. This was
done for better command and control of all army aviation units and
Under LTC Joost command the 118th Assault Helicopter Company received
the Meritorious Unit Commendation for the period June 1963 to June 1966.
And the 117th and the 135th Assault Helicopter Companies were awarded the
Valorous Unit Award for the period 1-20 June 1966 while serving with other
battalions in Operation Hawthorne/Dan Tang in Kontum Province.
LTC Walter F Jones replaced LTC Joost on June 26, 1966. Under LTC
Jones the 118th Assault Hel. Co. was awarded the Valorous Unit Award for
their actions on 19 July 1966. The 120th A.H.C. was transferred to Capital
Avn Bn in July of 1966. The 184th Avn Co (Surv Light) arrived in Vietnam
and was assigned to the 145th on 13 August 1966. While serving with 10th
C.A.B. the 117th Assault Hel. Co. was awarded the Meritorious Unit
Commendation service for the period of December 1965 to September 1966.
And the 135th was also awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation for the
period January 1966 to December 1966 while serving with the 10th C.A.B.
September 1966 brought another name change for the 197th A.H.C., they
became the 334th Armed Helicopter Company, this was the fourth and would
be the last name change for them. The 334th A.H.C. retained their fine
history earned under the names UTT, 68th A.H.C., 197th A.H.C., and
continued with many more first and unit awards. Co A, 82nd Avn Bn name was
changed to the 335th Avn Co in September 1966. The 1st of September 1966
brought a name change for A Co, 501st Avn Bn to the 71st A.H.C..
From the 14th of September 1966 to the 24th of November 1966 the
145th was involved in Operation Attleboro, the largest U.S. operation to
date in Vietnam. On 19 October 1966 a sizable enemy base area was
uncovered in War Zone C (Tay Ninh Province).
On 1 December 1966 LTC Howard M Moore replaced LTC Jones. The 335th
A.H.C. (formerly Co A, 82nd Avn Bn.) earned the Meritorious Unit
Commendation for the period 1 August 1966 to 31 January 1967. The Valorous
Unit Award was earned by the 145th C.A.B., 68th A.H.C., 118th A.H.C., and
334th A.H.C. for their actions on the 19th of March 1967 under the command
of LTC Howard Moore. The Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Palm was
awarded to the 145th C.A.B., 68th, 118th, 120th, 147th, 213th, 334th,
335th Aviation Companies for the period 1 March 1966 to 26 March 1967.
These last to awards were earned during Operation Junction City in Tay
Ninh Province, 2,728 known enemy casualties. The 117th was awarded the
Meritorious Unit Commendation for the period 5 September 1966 to 31 March
1967. In March of 1967 the 184th Avn Co was transferred to the 11th Avn Bn
and in April of 67 the 71st A.H.C. was transferred to the 14th Avn Bn.
LTC John A Todd replaced LTC Moore on the 7th of August 1967. The
190th A.H.C. arrived in Vietnam and was assigned to the 145th in September
1967, shortly there after to be sent on temporary duty to I Corp with the
Marines. The 213th Assault Support Helicopter Company was awarded the
Meritorious Unit Commendation for the period 13 Feberary 1967 to 15
October 1967. And under the Command of LTC Todd the Presidential Unit
Citation was awarded for the
period of 6 to 23 November 1967 by the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed
Forces of the United States to the 335th Assault Helicopter Company. The
award to the "Cowboys" was for extraordinary heroism during Operation Mac
Arthur in Kontum Province in November 1967.
Part of the 334th A.H.C. was transferred to Thailand the 24th of
November 1967 on temporary duty to fly escort duty over the Ho Chi Minh
Trail. They were to fly gunship cover for troops placing and picking up
listening devices all along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Their refuel point was
to be Khe Sanh which went under seize shortly there after, the mission was
called off the 3rd of March 1968.
On 1 December 1967 LTC Robert M. Deets replaced LTC Todd. The
Battalion History article in the next newsletter will cover LTC Robert M
Deets command of the 145th and their role in the victory of TET, 1968.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * *
George "Pops" Ecker, 1923-1988
George "Pops" Ecker - father, husband, Marine, Army Aviator, friend
and founder of the Viet Nam Helicopter Crew Member Assn. Int. passed away
June 12, 1988 after a short battle with cancer.
My first contact with George was in January of 1987, George had been
reading the Army Times and seen the ad I had sent in about the
Association. George was excided about seeing the ad and give me a call, it
was 4 AM Indiana time, something I kidded him about each time I talked to
him after that. George had served with the 81st Trans. Co. in 1962 and 63
and with the 68th Aslt. Hel. Co. from April 1968 to September 1968 as
Maintenance Platoon Sergeant, and other tours in Vietnam. George quickly
sent in his membership. He planned on attending the 1987 Reunion, he left
Huachuca City, AZ and headed for Texas to visit some army buddies and rest
up a few days, he called me from Texas to let me know the trip was to hard
on him and he should head back home. I never got to meet George in person
but I talked with him many times on the phone, times when I got discourged
I could count on George to get me going again. I'll miss George as will
those of you who served with him those who knew him.
George was born in Michigan on December 17, 1923. He was a career
military man and retired after serving 26 years. George is survived by his
wife Kathryn Ecker of Huachuca City, AZ; two sons, Michael Brunofski of
San Jose, CA., and John Brunofski of San Francisco; two daughters, Lodi
Evens residing in the Phillipine Islands and Connie Batton of Michigan,
five grandchildren. Graveside services were held June 15, 88 at the Fort
Huachuca Cemetery. George "Pops" Ecker was buried with full military
honors. In lieu of flowers the family suggests remembrances be made to the
Viet Nam Helicopter Crew Members Assn., P.O. Box 4886, Huachuca City, AZ.