190th Assault Helicopter Company
Spartans & Gladiators
In Late September 1967 the "Spartans" were sent to the I Corps tactical zone. While there the company made history as the only Army assault helicopter company to provide direct support to the Marine Corps. On the first of November the company moved to Duc Pho where they greeted the newly arrived 198th Light Infantry Brigade and trained them in air assault operations. The "Spartans" returned to Bien Hoa Air Base on 15 November 1967, and resumed their missionof general support to the III Corps Tactical Zone.
The company has set many records for safety and heroism, as they have never had a major aircraft accident and have received over 300 awards for valor.
Prior to movement overseas the 190th went through rigorous training in Vietnam operations which included working with the 101st Airborne Division on a number of field exercises. This training was indeed intensive and did not overlook any aspects of challenge one might encounter in Vietnam such as flight safety, CBR training, and weapons qualification to name a few. In May of 1967, on one of the field exercises supporting the 101st Airborne troopers, the 190th logged 633 flying hours, participated in 2,239 sorties and airlifted 4,519 infantry troops. The 190th maintained an 80 per cent aircraft availability during the exercise and this individual and unit effort paid great dividends, as when the 190th was cited by Major General Ben Sternberg, Commanding General, 101st Airborne Division for conducting outstanding demonstrations of air mobility during the field training exercise.
At the time of their arrival in country, the commanding officer of the 190th was Major David E. Hagler, and the executive officer was Major Robert Hagee. Major Hagler commanded the 190th from 27 January 1967, until 6 January 1968, and through this leadership and guidance formed the 190th into an effective unit and tempered it into a combat hardened assault helicopter company.
At Bien Hoa the company officially became the 190th Assault Helicopter Company with the "slicks" becoming well known as the "Spartans" and the gunships as the "Gladiators". The unit officially became part of the 1st Aviation Brigade on 5 September 1967.
The "Spartans" and "Gladiators" continued on their road to becoming a well knit unit between 10 August 1967, and 4 September 1967. This was the date they became fully operational by being introduced to an in-country orientation with other units within the 145th Combat Aviation Battalion and the 12th Combat Aviation Group.
The real "Spartan" test was yet to come. In the latter part of September 1967 they were sent on TDY mission to I Corps working for the 1st Marine Division Wing in Hue, Phu Bai, and certain special forces units. This move put the 190th farther north than any other Army unit in Vietnam. The platoons soon became familiar with such places as Con Thien, Gio Linh, and Khe Sanh. The "Gladiators" flew with Marine Tac Air controllers and directed strikes on proposed LZ's often times clearing inaccessible terrain for use as an LZ.
At the conclusion of their Marine support on 31 October 1967, the 190th moved South to II Corps for 15 days to support the newly arrived 198th Light Infantry Brigade at Duc Pho, in order to prepare the unit for its role in the Vietnam War. On 16 November 1967 the 190th departed Duc Pho to return to Bien Hoa and after only three days the unit was again prepared to go full steam ahead in III Corps.
On 7 December 1967 while supporting the 5th ARVN Division the 190th and ground troops came under heavy contact northwest of Phu Cuong. The "Spartans" pressed relentlessly into the area with the "Gladiators" suppressing the enemy and drawing fire away from the slicks. Only 3 ships remained in the flight at one time but 190th maintenance worked feverishly replacing and repairing the damaged aircraft. The officers and men of the 190th were presented 68 awards for their valorous action by 1st Aviation Brigade Commander, Major General Robert R. Williams.
On 15 December 1967 the 190th was called off a normal mission to support 25th ARVN CIDG Forces in tactical emergency. The CIDG Forces were surrounded by an estimated VC regiment. The "Spartans" lifted 20 sorties of troops into the area while the "Gladiators" grim determination that the besieged CIDG Forces, still overpowered by the enemy, were able to break contact and withdraw from the area.
On 6 January 1968, Major Charles U. Vaughn assumed command of the 190th Assault Helicopter Company, his leadership and guidance has been invaluable in further sharpening the 190th into a keen edge of combat effectiveness.