( DECEMBER 1967 )
LTC Robert M Deets assumed command of the 145th Combat Aviation Battalion
on 1 December 1967. LTC Deets started his military career as a Navy Seabee in
1940. He was a member of an underwater demolition team and earned the Bronze
Star for Valor. He began his career as an Army officer through a direct
commission in November of 1951. Prior to being assigned to the 145th he was
assigned to S-3 at 12th Group. Thanks to LTC Deets we have this very fine
detailed report on the Battalion's History.
On 7 December 1967 the 190th Assault Helicopter Company conducted airmoble
operations with the 4th Bn, 7th Regt, 5th Inf Div (ARVN). The unit was to
receive an ATT in conjunction with a search and destroy operation. The landing
zone was prepared for the assault by artillery and airstrikes under the command
of an aircraft from the 74th Reconnaissance Airplane Company. The first assault
went as planned with negative fire received. The second assault into LZ#2 met
with heavy automatic weapons fire from the right front. Chalk 10 was shot down
in the landing zone and chalk 9 made an emergency landing eight hundred meters
north of the LZ. This aircraft had received sixteen hits. The troops in LZ #2
were pinned down under voluminous enemy fire and without the planned,
subsequent lift, were in danger of annihilation. On the next lift into the LZ
the lead aircraft was engulfed by intense enemy fire that wounded or killed all
of the ARVN troops on board. Several other aircraft in flight were hit causing
two to make forced landings in the pickup zone and another at Cu Chi.
The FAC from the 74th Recon Airplane Company continued to direct artillery
and airstrikes on the entrenched enemy. To provide cover for the remaining
lifts, the smoke aircraft was employed. Braving the murderous enemy fire, he
repeatedly provided smoke cover for the remaining lifts. A heavy fire team from
the 334th Armed Helicopter Company was scrambled to assist in the operation.
They attacked the enemy fortifications with determination and tenacity,
disregarding their personal safty in order to place their fires to the best
advantage. The remaining aircraft were utilized to airlift a reserve company
into the area. The aircrews did not hesitate in continuing their mission even
in the face of devastating enemy fire. The smoke ship was hit and forced to
return to Bien Hoa for repairs. Numerous medical evacuation flights were
attempted; however, each time the aircraft met with murderous enemy fire. A
second smoke ship was called out to assist in the operation. After two passes
through the area, providing a smoke screen for medical evacuation flights, he
too was hit and fored to land in the landing zone. realizing the precarious
position the crew of the smoke ship was in, an armed helicopter from the 190th
AHC braved the intense, enemy, automatic weapons fire to land and extract them.
As nightfall approached, the ground troops ran low on ammunition. Again a
crew from the 190th AHC volunteered to deliver the desperately required
ammunition and at the same time extract the remaining wounded. Although the
enemy was literally filling the sky with bullets, the mission recieved light to
heavy combat damage. Three medical evacuation helicopters were damaged, one
making a forced landing five miles east of Cu Chi, another making a forced
landing just inside the perimeter at Cu Chi and the third taking numerous hits
and wounding the gunner.
Two smoke aircraft were hit, one making a forced landing in the landing
zone and the other being grounded after returning to the station. Of the
aircraft that recieved the combat damage six required evacuation by CH-47, four
were repaired and released for a one time flight to home station, two were
repaired and returned to the flight, and seven were hit but continued to fly.

On 8 December 1967 the 68th Assault Helicopter Company supported the 30th
and 38th Ranger Battalions in combat assaults for search and destroy operations
southeast of Phu Cong. The initial phases of the operation progressed as
planned with negative resistance. Prior to the combat assault into LZ #3 the
armed helicopters discovered occupied enemy bunkers on the north side. Although
the area was hit by artillery, a decision was made to disregard LZ #3 and
insert the troops into LZ 12.
The element moving west encountered steady resistance after moving about
four hundred meters west along the small north-south stream line. Additional
forces were inserted into LZ #4. The flight reported enemy fire on takeoff. The
ground unit moved south and immediately made contact. Two medical evacuation
missions were requested for eleven wounded in action and one killed in action.
The two aircraft attempted to land at the position by flying low level but the
enemy fire was so heavy that they had to abort the mission. Both aircraft were
hit and one crew chief owes his life to his chest protector. While providing
cover for medical evacuation, the armed helicopter fire team were taken under
heavy fire. One armed helicopter was hit, necessitating his return to home
station for repairs.
An aerial observer from the 74th Reconnaissance Airplane Company directed
numerous artillery and airstrikes upon the enemy positions. While the artillery
concentration distracted the enemy, a medical evacuation was successfully
completed. However, on his second trip in for wounded he came under heavy enemy
fire and received numerous hits. Another call for medical evacuation was
received. Since no other aircraft were immediately available, the 68th AHC
command and control aircraft accepted the mission. Although enemy fire laced
the area, three wounded in action and one killed in action were successfully
evacuated. Again the requirement for a medical evacuation came forth and again
the mission was completed in spite of the extremely heavy automatic weapons
Artillery, tactical air and armed helicopters continued to strike the
area. An AH-1G Cobra light fire team from the 334th Armed Helicopter Company
arrived and joined in the attempt to neutralize the enemy automatic weapons
positions. On one rocket pass the sky seemed to be filled with enemy fire,
hitting one armed helicopter and seriously wounding the pilot. Although an
extraction had been planned, the tactical situation and approaching darkness
necessitated implementation of the alternate plan which called for withdrawal
by boat. The 68th AHC sustained two wounded in action, while the ground units
had three killed in action and twenty-two wounded in action. Enemy losses were
not known. Six helicopters were hit, one requiring evacuation by CH-47, two
repaired for a one time flight to home station and three continued to fly.

On 14 December 1967 the 190th Assault Helicopter Company was diverted from
the assigned mission to support Company A, 5th Special Forces Group (CIDG), in
airmobile operations in th area west of Hiep Hoa, RVN. On final approach to LZ
#L the flight received light automatic weapons fire. One armed helicopter was
hit damaging the hydraulic system and wounding the crew chief. Two subsequent
lifts were made into the same landing zone. Sporadic M-79 fire hit in the
landing zone while the aircraft

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were on the ground, however, no aircraft were damaged. About one hour after the
insertions, the ground troops made contact with an estimated regimental sized
force. Tactical air and two light fire teams provided immediate support. The
enemy was well entrenched and possessed a minimum of six fifty caliber machine
The fire from these weapons plus countless small and automatic weapons was
devastation and deadly. Yet fire support to assist the ARVN's in breaking
contact was a dire necessity. A Cobra light fire team proved its worth time and
time again as they challenged the fifty caliber positions, never once faltering
in the attack. The efforts of these armed helicopters bore fruit and the unit
was able to break contact and withdraw.
This success was not without cost as three armed helicopters were hit,
one of which made an emergency landing with the aircraft on fire. Although the
sky was filled with enemy fire, the downed aircraft's wingman threaded his way
down through the hail of bullets to pull the crew practically out of the
enemy's hands. The action of the armed helicopters in the face of vastly
superior enemy fire power, was the factor that made the difference between
annihilation and successful withdrawal of the outnumbered ground units. The
190th Assault Helicopter Company had two crew members wounded, one armed
helicopter totally destroyed and three other aircraft hit.

On 17 December 1967 the 118th Assault Helicopter Company was diverted
from its schedule for a tactical emergency in support of the 604th CIDG, 25th
Infantry Division (ARVN) in the area southwest of Bao Tri. A unit of the 604th
CIDG was in heavy contact and in dire need of immediate reinforcements. The
emergency standby, light fire teams from the 68th AHC had been scramble to
support the ground unit in contact. Even though the area had been struck
repeatedly by tactical airstikes and armed helicopter, the enemy continued to
offer strong resistance. On each pass the armed helicopters drew heavy
automatic weapons fire, resulting in one aircraft hit and forced to make and
emergency landing. The landing was effected in a secure area. After several
airstikes on the enemy positions, the flight departed the pickup zone with a
company to reinforce the unit in contact.
Although a smoke screen was employed, the flight encountered an intense
volume of fire during the approach to the landing zone, on the ground in the
landing zone, and during takeoff. Two aircraft were hit by enemy fire during
take off and made emergency landings three kilometers east of the landing zone.
Two other aircraft in the flight followed then to the ground and extracted all
members and weapons. These aircraft also received fire while on the ground near
the downed aircraft. While reconnoitering the area, an armed helicopter from
the 68th Assault Helicopter Company was hit by automatic weapons fire, wounding
the crew chief. Whenever a helicopter got near the area, the ground seemed to
be covered with white flashes as the enemy automatic weapons opened fire. No
area in the vinicity of the doomed aircraft seemed to be free of the enemy and
making an insertion of a security force by air was impractical. For this
reason, elements of the 25th ARVN Division stationed in Bao Trai were directed
to proceed over land to the area to provide security until an extration of the
aircraft could be effected. One element mounted in APC's moved west from Boa
Trai while a second element moved to the southwest to act as a blocking force.
The element to the north encountered resistance about four hunderd meters north
on the downed aircraft and halted. A Diamondhead armed helicopter, was shot
down and made an emergency landing while supporting this element. The crew was
extrated by his wingman, however all armament, including XM-21 system, remained
with the aircraft.
Also, an armed helicopter from the 190th AHC flown by a crew from the
118th AHC was shot down. This aircraft crashed and burned.The crew was picked
up by the alternate C & C aircraft, quite shaken, but otherwise unhurt. The
ARVN troops were making no progress and it is becoming increasingly apparent
that they did not intend to reach the aircraft. With the prospect of these
aircraft remaining in an insecure area over night, recovery of the XM-21 system
became a major concern.
While a Cobra light fire team from the 334th Armed Helicopter Company and
a light fire team from the 25th Infantry Division (US) placed continuous fires
on the area of heaviest VC fire, a UH-1C from the 118th AHC with a volunteer
crew, approached the downed aircraft low level from the east. Upon landing, two
men jumped out and removed the two guns. The intense fire placed on the enemy
positions couple with the fading light, permitted successful recovery of the
guns. The professionalism displayed by the aircrew members involved in this
operation was outstanding. Regardless of the situation, mission accomplishment
was foremost in their minds. In this operation there were six crew members
wounded, two hospitalized, and four treated and released. One armed helicopter
was destroyed and seven armed and nine troop carrier helicopters received
combat damage.

On 18 December 1967 the 68th Assault Helicopter Company supported the
1/27th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division (US) on airmobile operations southwest
of Bao Tri, RVN. The mission of the ground unit was to secure the area around
three helicopter that had been shot down in order so extraction by CH 47
helicopters could be affected. The three helicopters had been shot down on 17
December and had remained without security. After intensive artillery and
tactical air preparation, air assaults were made into LZ 1 and LZ 2 with only
light resistance. The ground unit initially encountered no resistance and soon
advanced to the first downed aircraft. The armed helicopters of the 68th AHC,
while covering the advance of the ground unit in the direction of the other two
aircraft, received heavy automatic weapons fire from the same area where the
enemy had been entrenched the previous day. The aerial observer, from the 74th
Reconnaissance Company, flying above the area continued to direct airstrikes
and artillery against the enemy positions. Movement by the ground troops was
impeded because of heavy fire from the tree lines and canals. A second element
moved west and then north to circumnavigate the enemy position.
Meanwhile the light fire teams were assisting the ground unit in contact
with the enemy. On each firing pass the armed helicopters received heavy fire
from the numerous heavily fortified positions. Two aircraft were hit and one
crew chief was wounded. More artillery and tactical airstrikes were employed,
allowing the ground unit to advance very slow. However, their movement was
continually hampered by sporadic sniper fire. Time was growing short for a
daylight extraction of the downed aircraft. The decision was made to attempt an
extraction, utilizing the smoke aircraft, even though the enemy fields of fire
covered the area.
After the aircraft was rigged, the smoke ship put down a ring of smoke
around the downed aircraft

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while the light fire teams suppressed the area, enabling the CH-47 to make the
extraction. The ground unit continued to have heavy contact and at this point
were running dangerously low on ammunition. Oblivious to the heavy enemy
automatic weapons fire, an aircraft from the 68th AHC accomplished the
ammunition resupply mission. Armed helicopters provided escort for the resupply
aircraft, many times literally looking down the barrels of the enemy weapons.
Two flare equipped aircraft from the 118th AHC were scrambled to provide
battlefield illumination. A Cobra light fire team, from the NETT Team, was
diverted from another mission to augment the light fire teams on station.
Extraction of the two remaining helicopters was of prime importance. As
the armed helicopters placed suppressive fire on the enemy positions, the
aircraft with the the rigging crews made a low level approach and landed beside
the aircraft. By this time the only light on the scene was that provided by the
flare aircraft, and determining the location of the downed aircraft was
extremely difficult. To aid in fixing the exact location, the rigging aircraft
remained on the ground turning on his rotating beacon on call. This signal
enabled the CH-47 crews to locate the downed aircraft.
Without this signal, determining a location that would permit a landing
would have been extremely difficult if not impossible. The first aircraft was
extracted without incident. However, as the CH-47 departed the area with the
UH-1, it received heavy automatic weapons fire, wounding the gunner. The armed
helicopters placed immediate fire on the enemy positions, curtailing further
enemy fire. The ground troops had not planned to remain in the field overnight,
therefore, receipt of the night kit, rations and ammunition was imperative.
Although the area contained many enemy positions, and location of the landing
zone in the dim light of the aerial flares was extremely difficult, the 68th
AHC made seven sorties into the landing zone. It was necessary to utilize
aircraft landing lights to locate the land zone, thus making them an even
better target for enemy gunners. Despite these hazards, the aircrews pressed
forward with the mission, providing the ground unit with life sustaining items.
The 68th AHC had one wounded in action and five aircraft received combat
damage. Four aircraft required evacuation by CH-47 helicopters, however, three
were from the previous days operation.
Three other helicopters were repaired on the spot and cleared for a one
time flight to Bien Hoa. Another was damaged but continued to fly. At
approximately 0200 hours, 19 December 1967, the ground unit was attacked with
mortars, RPG and automatic weapons fire. If the two aircraft had not been
extracted prior to this time, they would have been destroyed or badly damaged.

On 28 December 1967, the 118th Assault Helicopter Company supported the
1st Battation, 25th Infantry Division (ARVN) on airmobile operations near Bao
Trai, RVN. After a weather delay until 1100 hours, the operation proceeded
without undue difficulty. At approximately 1600 hours the dicision was made to
extract the southern element and a light fire team was instructed to perform a
reconnaissance of the area. They recieved heavy automatic weapons and small
arms fire, sustaining numerous aircraft hits and one door gunner wounded in
The ground unit was directed to move further to the north and prepare for
extraction. In the meantime the element located at LZ #2 was extracted without
incident. The southern element had moved into a new position but was still
recieving fire from the east and south. Artillery was called in to provide
cover for the unit while it moved farther to the north. The standby smoke
aircraft from the 334th Armed Helicopter Company was scrambled to assist in the
extraction. The ground unit secured another landing zone, reporting only sniper
fire from the north.
The armed helicopter made a reconnaissance of the area and drew very light
fire, so the dicision was made to proceed with the extraction. As the smoke
aircraft started its pass, it encountered extremely heavy automatic fire along
the north flank. The smoke aircraft was hit and three crewmen were wounded but
they remained on statioin to provide the desperately needed smokescreen.
The flight started recieving heavy fire just short of the landing zone,
while on the ground, and after take off. The fire was coming from all sides
while the flight was in the landing zone. Continuous suppression from all the
armed helicopters and the door gunners on the troop carrying helicopters failed
to diminish the rate of enemy fire. The first two aircraft recieved numerous
hits and both crew cheifs were wounded. Four of the enemy were killed by the
door gunners while the flight was on the ground. On take off two aircraft were
crippled by fire, necessiting emergency landings approximately two thousand
meters from the landing zone.
The first aircraft was on fire as it landed. All crews, radios and
weapons were evacuated. The ground troops that were aboard the downed aircraft
provided security. The remaining aircraft proceeded directly to the hospital at
Cu Chi to drop off the wounded ground troops and aircrew members. Two of these
aircraft returned to the AO while the other two remained at Cu Chi, not flyable
due to combat damage. The emergency standby fire team and the flare aircraft
were scrambled. Sufficient troops to secure the area until a company size force
could move to the area by foot were to be inserted by the flyable aircraft.
By this time the area was in total darkness, the only light being that
provided by the aerial flares. The remaining lifts were made under extremely
hazardous conditions, without further incident. There were eight aircrew
members wounded in action. A total of ten aircraft were damaged by enemy ground
fire. Of these, two remained on the ground in the AO overnight and were
extracted the following morning. One remained overnight at CuChi and was
extracted the following morning, while the remaining damaged aircraft were
repaired and flown back to Bien Hoa Airbase.
During this time period the 334th AHC became the first aviation company to
fly combat operations in AH-1G Huey Cobra Gunships in Vietnam.
On 31 December 1967 the Meritorious Unit Commendation was awarded to the
68th AHC, 118th AHC, and 334th AHC for the period 1 January 1967 to 31 December
1967. The 335th AHC was awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation for the
period 1 February 1967 to 31 December 1967.
January 1968 brought the return of the 117th AHC to the 145th CAB from the
10th CAB, and the loss of the 335th AHC to the 268th CAB.
The next newsletter will start with the Battle of Bien Hoa, TET Offensive,




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