I've been asked many times for more history on the UTT-68th-197th-334th Avn Co so I though I would put together a little something to get the conversation started. The info I have is from a few books like "Vietnam Order of Battle" by Shelby L. Stanton, "Airmoble, The Helicopter War in Vietnam" by Jim Mesko, "Returning Fire, in the beginning" by Col (Ret) James W "Pete" Booth, and many letters and conversation at Reunions. Also let me say I was never assigned to this unit and I'm putting this together from an outsiders point of view. I'm hoping many of those assigned will point out any mistakes and additional information.

 Vietnam Unit History

Utility Tactical Transportation
10/03/1962 - 08/15/1964

68th Armed Helicopter Company
08/16/1964 - 03/01/1965

197th Armed Helicopter Company
03/01/1965 - 09/01/1966

334th Armed Helicopter Company
09/01/1966 -12/31/1968

334th Aerial Weapons Company
01/01/1969 - 03/01/1972 left VN

The UTT, 68th Armed Helicopter Company, 197th Armed Helicopter Company, 334th Armed Helicopter, and the 334 Aerial Weapons Company are all the same unit. The best way for me to explain it is to quote 1/Lt. Luther D Young, Playboy 17, in the beginning of the tape we sell, Songs of the UTT, Luthur says: " Songs of the UTT, 68th and 197th Aviation Companies, they are really the same. For no matter what name you give a company, the sprit of the officers and men are what gives it entity. This sprit never changed.". The Company changed names 5 times in Vietnam but still remained the same.

This next section reprinted from the book "AIRMOBILE"
Armed Helicopter
During early helicopter operations the VC were unable to offer serious resistance to the H-21s. And while small arms fire was encountered, the enemy did not possess any sizeable quantities of anti-aircraft weapons. What ground fire the helicopters received did some damage, so field commanders decided to arm the H-21s in order to give them the ability to suppress fire encountered during landing operations. A .30 caliber machine gun was mounted in the forward door but had only a limited arc of fire. This made the gun relatively ineffective in the suppression role. In addition, the size of the H-21 and its mediocre maneuverability did not suit it to the fire suppression role.
In an effort to find a solution to this problem the Army looked at the possibilities of arming the new Huey with a variety of machine guns and rockets. During the spring and summer of 1962 various plans and tactics for arming and employing the Hueys were investigated. Following this, a test unit of UH-lAs was organized and deployed to Thailand for maneuvers and then deployed to Vietnam in September of 1962.
This pioneer organization, designated the Utility Tactical Transport Helicopter Company (UTTCO), was composed of fifteen UH-lAs armed with a weapons system fabricated on Okinawa. This first weapons system consisted of two .30 caliber machine guns and sixteen 2.75 inch rockets mounted on the Huey's landing skids. Upon arrival in Vietnam the unit was assigned to Tan Son Nhut where it supported the H-21s of the 33rd, 57th, and 93rd Helicopter Companies. This first element of UTTCO soon received reinforcements when eleven UH-1B model Hueys arrived in November. These differed from the A models in two important ways. The B model had a more powerful engine which allowed it to carry more armament, and it had a factory installed weapons pack of four M-60 machine guns and a different set of mounts for the sixteen 2.75 inch rockets.
Under the direct control of Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV), this unit was to test the role of the helicopter as an 'escort' or 'gunship' for troop-carrying helicopters*. The 'escort' role evolved into three distinct segments: the 'en-route phase', the 'approach phase', and the 'landing zone (LZ) phase'. During the en-route phase the helicopters flew at a relatively safe altitude with little danger from ground fire. During the approach phase the helicopters dropped down on the deck when they were several miles away from the LZ. These phases required little from the armed Hueys unless a ship went down due to mechanical failure or ground fire. Then one of the escorts would be detached to cover and provide support for the crew during rescue operations. However, it was during the LZ phase that the escort carried out its most important role. Throughout this part of the operation the escorts were constantly over the LZ providing support for the transport helicopters (slicks). Initially the armed Hueys would go into the landing area ahead of the slicks to find out if it was occupied by the enemy. If ground fire was encountered it was considered a 'hot' LZ and the escorts tried to suppress the enemy fire with their guns and rockets. Throughout the landing the armed Hueys remained over the LZ to cover the vulnerable slicks. Thus they were exposed for a long period of time to enemy fire, particularly if the landing area was small and could only take a few troop carriers at a time.
Despite this exposure to enemy ground fire only one escort was shot down between 16 October 1962 and 15 March 1963 during which the unit flew almost 1800 combat support hours. During this period eleven helicopters were hit by ground fire but in return the armed Hueys killed an estimated 250 VC. An indication of their effectiveness was seen in how unescorted helicopters fared during the same period. The rate of hits for unescorted slicks more than doubled, while the hit rate for escorted slicks dropped by 25 per cent. An even better indication of their effectiveness was when Marine H-34 crews at Da Nang began to request Army escort helicopters. During the latter stages of the test a platoon of the armed Hueys had been moved up to I Corps to see how they operated in the mountainous terrain. Though skeptical at first, the Marines eventually were won over and became enthusiastic backers of the armed escort. Despite the success of these armed Hueys, they were involved in a battle which resulted in a major Viet Cong victory and showed how vulnerable helicopters were to heavy ground fire. On 2 January 1963 ARVN troops carried out a major assault on the village of AP Bac located about thirty-five miles southwest of Saigon. Part of the plan called for helicopters to drop troops north and west of the village sealing off the enemy's escape. The 93rd Helicopter Company furnished ten H-21s for the operation and were supported by five armed Hueys. Unfortunately, no air support was available and when the H-21s moved in to land their troops the VC opened up with mortar, and heavy machine gun fire. The fourth H-21 into the LZ was downed, and as another H-21 moved in to rescue the crew, it too was shot down. The escort Hueys tried to surpress the heavy ground fire but were unable to silence the enemy gunners who in turn knocked down two more H-21s and an armed Huey. Finally, Vietnamese and American fixed wing aircraft arrived on the scene, and after repeated attacks with bombs, rockets, naplam, and machine gun fire they were able to surpress the VC fire. However, by then it was too late, the communists had escaped through gaps in the ARVN lines.
In a post mortem analysis of the battle a number of factors were cited which contributed to the defeat. In particular the air force pointed out that armed helicopters were not an adequate substitute for fixed wing escort, especially against a determined, entrenched enemy. Air support might be done away with against lightly defended targets, but if the enemy was in strength armed helicopters alone would probably not be able to suppress heavy ground fire without substantial losses.
During this period an experiment was conducted to further increase the ability of helicopters to react to the fluid guerrilla war. Code named 'Eagle Flight', it entailed a group of gunships and transport helicopters held back on a standby basis or in the air searching for targets of opportunity. With usually seven transport Hueys, five gunships, and one medivac, plus embarked ARVN troops, this reserve formation was on call as the need arose. It allowed greater flexibility for executing an airmobile mission since little planning was needed which proved extremely valuable when time was of the essence. After the initial success of the experiment, it quickly gained favor, and by late 1964 every helicopter company had organized its own 'Eagle Flight'.
These early tests with the armed helicopters produced a good deal of information for future operations. It was found that five to seven armed Hueys could support twenty to twenty-five slicks. However, with the armament system, the escorts were unable to carry troops. In addition to the forward firing rockets and machine guns the gunships also had door gunners that provided side coverage and helped clear jammed weapons if necessary. With all this weight aboard, the UH-lB's speed dropped to approximately 80 knots and as a result could not catch up with a formation if they were delayed at lift-off or attacked a target along the way. The Army realized that the only way to solve this was to upgrade the basic UH-1 engine or develop a completely new gunship from scratch. The former was quickly done, but the latter took time and eventually was caught in a web of conflicting requirements which almost caused the demise of the entire project.
End of "AIRMOBILE" section
(Ed Note) One other big difference between the UH-1A and the other UH-1 aircraft was the difference in the length of the mast, the UH-1A was much shorter.
     Another big factor in the armed helicopter was the battle between the Air Force and Army about the agreement that the Air Force (before 1963) would have all the attack aircraft. The Army ground troops finally won out in having their own close air support, UH-1 aircraft. The first CH-21 flew without escort and called in Air Force fixed wing aircraft if needed, the air speed was greatly different.
     The group of Army Aviators and mechanics that first armed a UH-1 aircraft did so mostly on their own and tested them at ranges in Okinawa.

      This part of the history is mostly taken from many long conversations over many years.
      The first few years of the UTT-334th history the UTT was kind of given a green light to experiment with equipment and tactics of armed helicopters. Many have said that the UTT operated on the edge and sometimes crossed over. Many times ideas from other groups was sent to the UTT to try to work the bugs out. They got the reputation of getting the job done.
     The name Utility Tactical Transport Helicopter Company did not fit in with the Army Regimental system so they were assigned a number, 68th, as were unit like A Co / 501st Avn Bn (71st) and A Co / 82nd Avn Bn (335th). Making it much easier to move aviation companies from one battalion to another. This move was away from the true regimental system but all aviation were at least in the same system, except for the Cav, but that's another story.
      Along comes military politics as the conflict grows larger. More higher ranking officers were assigned to units. Everybody wanted a unit with good lineage and what better lineage could you get then the (at the time) 68th Avn Co. So the 68th was redesignated the 197th and the lineage was given to a unit forming up at Ft Benning, GA the 68th Air Mobile Light Aviation Company. Without a doubt the officers and men of the 197th could build up another go lineage, and they did. Once again they were victim of their own success, another redesignation to the 334th Armed Helicopter Company.
     Many of the members of the original UTT, that could be spared from higher command duties, at the end of their tour, were able to be assigned to Bell Helicopter Company at Ft Worth, TX to help develop a new helicopter, AH-1 Cobra. Once the Cobra was ready to be sent to Vietnam with the Cobra NETT team, these former members of the UTT wanted to take them to their old unit, now called 334th AHC, around Nov 1967. The 334th and Cobra NETT team used the cobra a few times in combat while working the bugs out. During TET of 68 LTC Deets and some higher ups first cleared the Cobras to be used in combat.
     Now that the Cobra had replaced the UH-1C in the 334th it was time for another name change and another new pocket patch. It was redesignated the 334th Aerial Weapons Company. Which they could keep until they left Vietnam.

UTT-68th-197th-334th  UNIT   DECORATIONS
The Company performed with valor and distinction throughout its tenure in Vietnam. Unit awards conferred were:
-  Army Aviation Unit of the Year. AAAA Hughes Trophy Winner 1963
-  Presidential Unit Citation, Battle of Due Hoa. GO 30. 30 Aug 1965. (Pg1, GO 3 Dtd 27 Jan 66 amends GO 30 to read "PUC to Distinguished Unit Citation)
-   Distinguished Unit Citation. Battle of Dong Xoai. CO- 43 Pg1, Dtd 9 Nov 66 (Named unit with 145th Combat Aviation Battalion)
-  Meritorious Unit Commendation. GO 40. Dtd 31 Oct 66, Pg4, May-No v 65
-  Valorous Unit Citation GO-17. 19 March 67
-  Vietnamese Victorious Unit Citation GO-17. 23 March 68
-  Vietnam Cross of Gallantry w/Palm GO-22, 24 March 68. (Named unit with 1st Avn Bde/145th Avn Bn)
-  Meritorious Unit Citation GO-48, 13 Sept 68. (Named unit with 12th Avn Group)
-  Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry w/Palm 2nd award GO-21 3 Apr 69. (Named unit 1st Avn Bde)
-  Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry w Palm 3rd award GO 54 1974

Along with developing the UH-1 gunship and the same people working on the development of the AH-1 gunship. The UTT basically developed the tactics used by all the gunship in Vietnam and beyond. One part of those tactics was the 12 Cardinal Rules:
1 Do not fly in the dead man zone without a reason.
2 Always make a high reconnaissance first.
3 Never fly behind another aircraft.
4 Never fly parallel to any feature.
5 Never over-fly the target.
6 Always assume the area is hot.
7 Never fire until you have friendly force identified.
8 Avoid firing over the heads of friendly troops.
9 Fire only when you have a worthwhile target.
10 Always know the situation.
11 Brief your elements, to a man.
12 Take your time.
And for good measure Cpt Jerry Childers added one more.
13 Never leave anyone behind.

Lightning Bug, June 1965 DARPA sent the 197th a Rube Goldberg searchlight made by assembling seven C-123 landing lights. The 197th standardize the tactics and establish a SOP for a three ship "Lightning Bug " mission.
.50 Caliber Machine Gun side door mount. The 571st Direct Support Maintenance Detachment fabricated for a .50 Cal machine gun to give the 197th a little more punch on those Lightning bug missions.
Operation SeaWolf  When the Navy decided to start using gunships landing on boats on the rivers, the 197th was assign to teach them how to do it.
The UTT-197th was the first All Gunship Company and remained that way except for a short time in 1965 when one platoon got slicked out for a short time. With the arrival of the Cobras they needed a few UH-1s for lightning bug and maintenance but remained mostly an All Cobra Gunship.  From what I hear the pilots really loved their first gun run in the new Cobras until they landed and realized they had no crew chief and door gunner to rearm the aircraft.
I'm sure I left out a lot of UTT-68th-197th-334th history items, so if you have any additions or correction please send them in. I'll add them to this report and post them on our web page.
For a much more complete history of the unit please get a copy of the book "RETURNING FIRE, in the beginning" by Col (Ret) James W. "Pete" Booth, PO Box 235, Tennille, GA 31089. I want to send our condolences to Pete in the passing of his wife Sue to cancer February 2016 and a speedy recovery from his stroke.