DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY
Company B, 158th Aviation Battalion (AH)
101st Airborne Division (Airmobile)
APO San Francisco 96383
SUBJECT: Combat Operation After Action Report
158th Aviation Battalion (AH)
101st Airborne Division (AMBL)
APO San Francisco 96383
Aircraft Incident/Accident - 12 November 1969, at 1335 hours, aircraft 67-17496
made an approach into an LZ vicinity YD 053633. The LZ was secure and other log
ships had been into the LZ prior to this aircraft. The aircraft commander
intercepted a call for a medevac at the LZ. After picking up three wounded the
aircraft started to depart the area and was requested to return for another
seriously wounded soldier. Approaching into the LZ for the second time the
aircraft encountered small arms and automatic weapons fire. The medevac patient
was picked up and as the aircraft departed the LZ for the second time, it
encountered heavy automatic weapons fire and RPG's which finally brought the
aircraft down about 50 yards from the LZ. The aircraft was a total loss as it
burned due to subsequent enemy mortar fire. The gunner incurred minor injuries
and the other three crewmen sustained minor cuts, bruises and abrasions. Of the
medevacs on board, one was a KIA and the other three seriously wounded.
JOHN E. WATTS
DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY
Company B, 158th Aviation Battalion (AH)(AMBL)
101st Airborne Division (Airmobile)
APO San Francisco 96383
8 December 1969
SUBJECT: Combat Operation After Action Report, Second Brigade.
158th Aviation Battalion (AH)(AMBL)
APO San Francisco 36383
1. Combat Assault, 30 November 1969, 2nd Bde, 101st Airborne Division.
2. Company B, 158th Aviation Battalion was assigned the mission to
provide an Air Mission Commander for 19 lift helicopters and four
gunships to lift A and B Co's and a Recon Plat of the 2/506 Inf and A,
B, and C Co's of the 1/502 Inf.
3. The assets available for the lift were 10 UH-1H helicopters from Co
B, 158th Avn Bn (AH), nine UH-1H helicopters from Co C, 101st Avn Bn
(AH), two AH-1G helicopters, Co D, 158th Avn Bn (AH) and two ARA
helicopters from B Btry, 4/77 Aviation Section.
4. The Air Mission Commander received a briefing from the S-3, 158th
Aviation, 2300 hrs, 29 November 1969. A crew briefing was conducted for
pilots of Company B at 0430 hrs, 30 November, with plans for the AMC and
the gun ships at Fire Base Birmingham prior to the lift.
5. The concept of operation was for 13 lift ships to extract Co. B,
2/506 Inf Bn from YD 585135 and insert them into a landing zone secured
by Co A/1/502 Inf at YD 765093. As this lift was being conducted, six
lift ships would simultaneously begin an extraction of a Recon Plat,
2/506 Inf at YD 588038, and transport them to Fire Base Birmingham. PZ
times for both lifts were 0700 hrs. Each lift was to be escorted by two
gunships. The second phase of the operation consisted of 17 lift ships
picking up Co A, 1/502 Inf at YD 765093, moving them to Fire Base
Birmingham. Upon completion of this lift, phase three began with 19
lift ships extracting Co A, 2/506 from YD 538106 and inserting them into
an LZ at YD 737033 secured by Co C, 1/502 Inf. Phase four was the final
lifts with 11 ships picking up elements of Co C, 1/502 Inf from YD
732088 and the entire flight of 19 ships conducting an in flight
rendezvous and proceeding to Fire Base Sally.
6. Initially, plans were for the 10 ships of Co B, to rendezvous with Co
C's aircraft at Fire Base Birmingham at 0600 hrs and shut down while the
Air Mission Commander attended a final briefing by the Airmobile Task
Force Commander (CO, 2/506th Inf Bn) and staff. The Air Mission
Commander would then give a thorough briefing to all air crews involved
in the mission. At 0530 hrs, Co B's aircraft cranked and attempted a
departure from Camp Evans. Bad weather caused a delay in the launch and
the 2nd Brigade Commander placed the lift ships on standby until 0800
hours. At 0800 hrs the aircraft launched under marginal weather
conditions. Co B's flight landed at Fire Base Birmingham and the nine
aircraft from Co C, 101st Aviation Battalion joined them shortly
thereafter. The AMC attended the briefing by the AMTFC and learned that
the sequence of the mission changed form that given at the briefing on
29 November 69. Three additional lifts were added to the mission, plus
the sequence of the lifts changed as well as the number of aircraft
required in each. The decision was made to launch the aircraft
immediately due to a break in the weather in the pick-up area, therefore
there was no time allotted to brief the flight on the changes or to give
the gunships and Co C's aircraft an initial briefing.
7. The mission was launched at approximately 0845 hrs from Fire Base
Birmingham with 17 lift ships escorted by two ARA gunships proceeding to
B/2/506 at YD 585135. The weather was marginal enroute and in the
vicinity of the pick-up area. The unit had not been notified of the
lift and were totally unprepared to be extracted. The lift ships had to
be placed in orbit for approximately 20 minutes. The area of orbit was
confined due to the weather conditions causing the flight to be
subjected to unnecessary hazards because of the delay. When the ground
troops were finally ready, the extraction was made and the unit lifted
to YD 765093. At that location, A/1/502 was picked up and taken to Fire
Base Birmingham. A total of 19 sorties was hauled for A/1/502. Upon
completion oa A/1/502's move, all 19 ships were used to pick up A/2/506
at YD 538106 and conduct a lift to YD 737033. Upon reaching Fire Base
Birmingham the weather had deteriorated to the point of a 100 ft ceiling
confining the flight route to the LZ, to the valley along the stream
from YD 723092 to 737033. The AMC determined that it would be
disastrous to lead the entire flight down the valley, therefore he gave
instructions for the flight to set down at Birmingham and he proceeded
to the LZ. The decision was made to lead the aircraft down the valley
in pairs, drop off the troops and pick up the troops to be extracted,
and take them to FB Birmingham. As the valley was cleared the next two
aircraft were brought in. A total of 12 sorties from C/1/502 was lifted
from YD 737033 to Birmingham. While the slow process of two aircraft at
a time was in progress, three ships from Co B, were dispatched to YD
660077 and extracted one platoon of D/2/506 to FB Birmingham. While the
lift to YD 737033 continued, the AMC took seven ships of Co B, and made
and extraction of B/1/502 from YD 732088 to FB Birmingham. Upon the
completion of the A/2/502 and B/1/502 moves, the nine ships of Co C,
101st Avn Bn were released with instructions to make a final lift with
four ships from FB Arsenal to LZ Sally. The AMC then took five ships
and picked up a unit along the road in the vicinity of YD 642093 and
conducted a combat assault into vic YD 694067. After that mission, six
ships were placed on CA standby at FB Birmingham, one released to return
to Camp Evans and three assigned resupply missions. The ACL on all
lifts was five.
8. Problems Encountered - The weather during all lifts was such that
the risks involved should only have been undertaken in a tactical
9. Results of Combat Missions - 30 November 1969.
a. 280 - Combat Sorties
b. 506 - Combat Troops Carried
c. 75+00 - Combat Hours Flown
a. Marginal weather conditions should be given more evaluation and
consideration by the Airmobile Task Force Commanders in missions that
are not tactical emergencies.
b. The Air Mission Commander must be given sufficient time to give all
pilots a general briefing on an operation as complex as this one. Had
the Air Mission Commander been downed by enemy fire or been forced to
leave the flight, the entire operation would have been forced to halt
until another AMC could be briefed. This could very easily result in a
small number of infantry troops being left in a field location and
subjected to an immediate assault by a superior size enemy force. It is
desirable to allot the AMC enough time to follow the same troop leading
steps as Infantry Commanders use in planning operations.
JOHN E. WATTS
SCRAMBLE THE REDSKINS
Friday. 3 April 1970, marked the fifth day of heavy fighting in the northern
sector of Quang Tri Province, just south of the Demilitarized Zone. Elements of
1/5th Mechanized Infantry had encountered a well fortified NVA regiment and had
come under intense mortar file, 122mm rocket fire, .51 caliber machine gun and
small arms fire. Throughout the five days, Cobra attack helicopters from the
101st Airborne Division and F-4 Phantom Air Force fighter-bombers provided close
air support for the ground troops.
The helicopter gunships destroyed numerous enemy positions in the face of heavy
.51 caliber machine gun anti-aircraft fire. One of the gunship units providing
particularly outstanding support was D Company, 158th Aviation Battalion, 101st
Airborne division, nicknamed the "Redskins".
On the afternoon of 3 Apr 70, a Redsnin fireteam, led by 1LT John Omer, was
scrambled from nearby Quang Tri to engage three .51 caliber machine gun
positions. The NVA still held the strategic high ground and were able to bring
effective fire against the friendly element. The Redskins arrived on station
and immediately began receiving heavy enemy fire. They returned deadly accurate
fire on the enemy gun emplacements and silenced one of the .51 calibar positions
before their ordinance was expended and forced them to return to Quang Tri to
re-arm. The Air Force then took over with two F-4 Phantom jets and engaged the
remaining two positions.
Perhaps it wasn't their day, or maybe "Charlie" was a little more determined
than expected, but the F-4 Phantoms were not having too much success with the
.51 caliber machine guns. Whichever the case, the call soon came over the
radio, "Scramble the Redskins. The Fox 4's are taking fire!" Only time will
reveal the historic significance of that line for at least one hot afternoon in
northern I Corps, the Redskins reigned supreme.
Operation Report, Combat Assault, Apache Snow - D Day +
in support of 3rd Brigade, 19 May 69.
1. Company B, 158th Aviation Battalion (AH) was committed to support an airlift by providing 10 lift ships of a 15 ship combat assault plus a command and control ship for the operation. Both U.S. and ARVN Forces of approximately 1000 troops from PZ (YC 363080) vic FB Airborne to LZ 1 vicinity YD 330004, and from PZ ( YC405952) vic FB Currahee to LZ 2 vic
2. No briefing was held by 3rd Brigade as to size, shape of PZ's or LZ's and also as to the enemy situation. The Brigade S-3 Air NCO gave the locations of PZ's and LZ's as well as the anticipated times for pick-ups. During the night the lift was changed to a 1-12-2.
3. The C&C picked up the C&C crew of 2/501 at FB Airborne at 0655. It was at this time that a visual recon was made to determine the actual LZ and where the artillery and air prep would be made. This caused a delay in the PZ time of 1+00 till 0830.
4. B Company left Lancer Pad at 190805 and arrived at PZ at 0825 to start pick-up of the initial troop insertion. At 0850 aircraft 67-17654 had a severe blade strike in the one-ship PZ and landed at FB Airborne. At 0900 aircraft 67-17659 upon lifting out of PZ had an engine failure and suspected short shaft failure. The aircraft was turned to the right knocking off the tail boom and crashed back into the PZ with no injuries to the crew. The aircraft was total loss and the PZ was completely engulfed with debris. If the PZ was properly prepared the aircraft could
have make a safe landing without its destruction.
5. The nine ships that were troop loaded were sent back to Birmingham to refuel, shut-down and wait further instructions. It took over three and a half hours to have the two downed ships slung out by Chinooks.
6. The C&C ship was diverted to start the CA #2 from FB Currahee (540 ARVN Troops) to LZ 2 with a PZ time of 1330. The lift was completed at 1530.
7. The C&C ship then returned to start lift #1 with the addition of four Kingsmen aircraft and with one of the Lancer ships being diverted to a logistic mission. The lift was completed without any further incident at 1740.
8. Results, Operation Apache Snow D Day + 9
189 - Sorties flown
840-Combat Troops inserted (2/501, 3/ARVN)
78+00 - Combat flying hours.
TOMMY W THORNTON