BATTALION HISTORY 1 August 1968 thru 31 October 1968
DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY, HEADQUARTERS, 145TH COMBAT AVIATION BATTALION, APO San Francisco 96227 11 November 1968
SUBJECT: Operational Report of 145th Combat Aviation Battalion for period ending 31 October 1968
1. (C) Section 1. Operations: Significant Activities
a. The mission of this battalion has not changed during this reporting period.
(1) The 324th Airfield Support Detachment was attached to Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 145th Combat Aviation Battalion on 1 August 1968.
(2) The Organization of the 145th Combat Aviation Battalion during this reporting period included the following units, located as indicated, (See Incl 1)
c. Significant personnel changes during the reporting period were as follows:
(1) Commanding Officer, 145th Combat Aviation Battalion No Change
(2) Battalion Executive Officer 11 Aug 68
Outgoing: Major Edmund L Fuchs 01936032 Incoming: Major James I Ransbotham 040033560
(3) Battalion S-1 / Adjutant 17 Sept 68
Outgoing: Cpt William E. Bannister 05320641 Incoming: Cpt Michael J Jett 05332614
Battalion S-1 Adjutant 8 Oct 68
Outgoing: Cpt Michael J Jett 05332614 Incoming: Cpt John D Hoskinson 05330166
(4) Battalion S-2 1 Sep 68
Outgoing: Major Boyce C McKinney 091928 Incoming: Cpt Larry R Page 05318557
(5) Battalion S-3 1 Sept 68
Outgoing: Major David R Hagler 04010457 Incoming: Major Giffen A Marr OF105749
(6) Battalion S-4 11 Aug 68
Outgoing: Major Charles R Mix 04005918 Incoming: Major Emmett R Conrow 02291837
(7) Commanding Officer, 68th Assault Helicopter Company 24 Sep 68
Outgoing: LTC Billy G Sims 089607 Incoming: Major Richard S Daum 090745
(8) Executive Officer, 68th Assault Helicopter Company 1 Nov 68
Outgoing: Major Richard S Daum 090745 Incoming: CPT Geoffrey R Webster 05233880
(9) Executive Officer, 118th Assault Helicopter Company 6 Sep 68
Outgoing: Major Robert G Shain 087369 Incoming: Major Bobby L Moore OF103880
(10) Commanding Officer, 135th Assault Helicopter Company 14 Oct 68
Outgoing: LTC Robert E L Osbourn 04011634 Incoming: Major Paul E Kootz 095088
(11) Executive Officer, 135th Assault Helicopter Company 1 Oct 68
Outgoing: LCDR Neil Ralph RAN 0949 Incoming: LCDR Graham R Rohrshien RAN 01516
(12) Commanding Officer, 190th Assault Helicopter Company 2 Aug 68
Outgoing: Major Charles R Vaughn 082302 Incoming: Major Charles R Byrd 085962
(13) Executive Officer, 190th Assault Helicopter Company 2 Aug 68
Outgoing: Major James R Boyd 085917 Incoming: Major John A Lynch III OF105731
(14) Commanding Officer, 334th Armed Helicopter Company 28 Sep 68
Outgoing: Major Joel J Mikuta 074394 Incoming: Major Charles A Edwards 085158
(15) Executive Officer, 334th Armed Helicopter Company 28 Sep 68
Outgoing: Major Russell A Bronson 074394 Incoming: CPT Stanley C Sluxarz 05420497
(16)Executive Officer. 334th Armed Helicopter Company 10 Oct 68
Outgoing: CPT Stanley C Sluxarz 05420497 Incoming Major Sammy L Childs 04075777
d. Unit Strengths as of 31 Oct 68
Subordinate Officers WO EM Total
Unit Auth O/H Auth O/H Auth O/H Auth O/H
68th AHC 17 17 53 43 229 207 299 267
118th AHC 17 19 53 40 229 194 299 253
135th AHC 17 15 54 44 244 199 315 258
190th AHC 16 20 53 39 220 198 289 257
334th AHC 31 14 26 38 217 194 274 246
HHD 27 26 11 9 151 171 189 206
145th CAB 125 111 250 213 1290 1163 1665 1487
PERSONNEL (ENLISTED) GAINS AND LOSSES FOR AUGUST, SEPTEMBER, AND OCTOBER
Unit AUG SEP OCT
Gain Loss Gain Loss Gain Loss
68th AHC 12 15 12 28 24 19
391st 7 6 10 5 6 5
282nd 0 0 0 0 0 0
118th AHC 16 19 15 23 13 14
573rd 4 12 13 3 12 7
198th 1 1 1 2 0 0
135th AHC 14 18 33 51 27 11
614th 9 9 18 15 10 3
68th Sig 0 0 0 2 0 1
87th 0 0 0 1 1 0
197th AHC 1 1 0 1 1 0
190th AHC 20 32 9 21 15 5
605th 12 9 5 4 8 2
334th AHC 17 11 17 17 29 11
571st 3 8 12 7 8 5
320th 1 0 0 1 0 0
HHD 12 12 11 16 11 12
Scty Plt 4 3 0 3 2 2
430th 1 1 0 1 1 1
520th 0 0 0 1 0 1
g. Awards and Decoration: The following awards were received by members of the battalion during the period 1 August 1968 through 31 October 1968.
AWARDS NUMBER RECEIVED AWARDS NUMBER RECEIVED
LM 1 SS 14
DFC 47 BS "V" 8
BS 46 AM "V" 83
AM 2648 ACM "V" 14
ACM 63 PH 30
h. (C) Intelligence Situation During early August the enemy forces in the III Corps Tactical Zone generally avoided contact and attempted to resupply and reorganize his assets for a new offensive which was eventually to begin approximately 25 August. It was obvious almost from the beginning that there was going to be a major change in the VC/NVA strategy in this offensive. In previous offensives the enemy drives were characterized by attempts to move major forces directly against the capital and other major population centers. In this offensive the enemy struck at the outlying province, concentrating his efforts in the Tay Ninh, Katum, and LocNinh areas. It is believed that his reason for doing this was to draw forces away from the capital military district (CMD) so that forces positioned in the Angel's Wing and Parrot's Beak area of Cambodia could have relatively free movement into Saigon through the southern approaches to the city. Captured documents and POW's also pointed to a secondary mission for the enemy forces operating in the Tay Ninh area and that was to cause as much damage to the 25th US Division's combat effectiveness as possible while practicing for the first time large scale economy of force measures. The VC/NVA forces launched three multi-battalion sized attacks against Tay Ninh City, two of which succeeded in occupying portions of the city for short periods of time without accomplishing their objective of sufficiently weakening the forces in the CMD to insure a successful offensive. As a result of this failure, he again pulled back into his base areas to reorganize and resupply his forces.
Since early September the enemy has continued to avoid contact and is believed to be preparing for yet another offensive which is to be initiated at some future date. In the meantime the enemy is directed to continue with increased emphasis on terrorist, sapper, and stand-off type attacks against major targets while conducing heavy attacks against lightly defended targets to provide his recent replacements with a source of excellent combat training.
i. Operations (1) Combat Operations
This battalion continues to be committed daily to tasks varying from combat support missions to battalion sized combat assault operations, with the emphasis being placed on company sized combat assault operations. The battalion is normally committed daily for three combat assault companies, one general support helicopter company and a variety of armed helicopter missions, including three firefly teams from the 334th Armed Helicopter Company. The normal mission profile for the combat assault helicopter is ten UH-1D lift helicopters, one command and control helicopter, one maintenance helicopter, one smoke helicopter, and four armed helicopters from the unit's assets. In addition spare aircraft are taken if they are available
(2) Counter Mortar:
(a) The Bien Hoa Air Base was subject to enemy rocket/mortar attacks on nine occasions on five dates during this reporting period. These attacks occurred as shown below.
TIME/DATE NUMBER OF ROUNDS DAMAGE TO BATTALION AREA
010022 Aug 12 Rds 122mm Rkt 0
063022 Aug 4 Rds 122mm Rkt 0
230025 Aug 17 Rds 122mm Rkt 0
225830 Aug 11 Rds 122mm Rkt 0
030008 Sep 1 Rds 107mm Rkt 0
060208 Sep 4 Rds 107mm Rkt 0
062608 Sep 3 Rds 107mm Rkt 0
085508 Sep 2 Rds 107mm Rkt 0
232526 Oct 10 Rds 107mm Rkt 0
(b) During this reporting period the 145th Combat Aviation Battalion retained the responsibility of primary command and control of all armed helicopter light fireteams utilized in support of OPLAN Checkmate. A Command & Control helicopter has been flown nightly by members of this battalion and the hours have been expanded from 2300 - 0400 to 2100 - 0600 in support of this operation.
(1) Mandatory Training
(a) Mandatory training as outlined in USARV Regulation 350-1 and 12th Combat Avn Gp Reg 350-1 is being conducted by all units in this battalion. During this reporting period a replacement program was set up to utilize the facilities of the Screaming Eagle Replacement Training School of the 101st Airborne. The program of instruction in use by the 101st Airborne has been modified to reduce the loss of operational man-hours incurred. Their six day training schedule has been reduced to two and one-half days per man by rescheduling classes to avoid blocks of instruction that are required only by 101st Division regulations. This program seems to be beneficial in that it gives both the division troop and the aviation troops a chance to learn mutual respect for the others job. A supplementary training program being developed to provide the required training when the division training load is too great to permit the school to accommodate non-divisional replacements.
(b) The lack of a suitable CBR training site in the Bien Hoa / Long Binh area continues to preclude effective CBR training.
(2) Assigned Training Tasks
(a) During this reporting period six VNAF aviators (three Staff Officers and three VNAF pilots) were awarded a certificate of graduation upon completion of transition training in the UH-1D. In addition, two staff officer aviators and four operational aviators are presently undergoing this type of training with the assault helicopter companies of this battalion. The staff officers are trained for a period of approximately three weeks while the operational aviators remain with the battalion for a period of approximately three months. Upon completion of the transition phase of their training they remain with the units that trained them and fly the daily missions with that unit.
(b) The battalion has received six allocations to the Navy's Jungle Environmental Survival Training School and three allocation to the Air Force Jungle Survival School. All assigned quotas have been filled and distributed among the units with the emphasis on giving each unit as many school qualified personnel in this field as possible. The battalion favors slightly the crews that are assigned to firefly duty because it is felt that they are the ones most likely to be faced with a survival situation.
(c) In-country training and orientation for newly assigned senior officers continues to be done in this battalion. These officers normally stay from two to three days. During that period, they are afforded the opportunity to participate in the various types of missions flown by this battalion.
(3) Physical Security
The physical security plan has been revised during this reporting period to incorporate numerous change that were to the original plan. The plan remains under constant review and changes are made as necessary to improve the overall security of the battalion. During this reporting period a lighting system has been installed around the aircraft revetment area. Some of the units have also installed one or two lights in each aircraft revetment to help detect the presence of sappers during the hours of darkness and this has also proved to be useful to crews performing night maintenance on aircraft. The aircraft revetment area has also been surrounded with a system of eighteen two man bunkers which are manned during any increased threat to this battalion and are the battalion's primary defense against sappers who may have managed to penetrate the airbase perimeter under the cover of darkness and/or rocket/mortar attack. It has also proven beneficial equip the five bunkers which are utilized in the defense of the battalion's sector of the Bien HoaAir Base perimeter with AN/PRC-25 radios to allow them to communicate with the battalion commander when he is mobile and also to provide the bunkers with a means to contact the firefly aircraft that checks the perimeter as required.
(1) During the period the subordinate units of company level completed the necessary transaction to establish their own COMSEC (Crypto) accounts - including the preparation of the facility. COMSEC equipment was requisitioned and received by each account, and FM Voice Secure (FM) was established in the battalion, to include a 24 hour FM Secure/Command Net.
(2) Telephone service to all units and sections of the battalion was improved with the installation of a more versatile switchboard system (employing two SB-868s), with primary problem areas being in the disruption of the lines themselves by heavy earth moving equipment brought in by engineers for area improvement. This heavy equipment also destroyed a 25-pair Air Force cable, and knocked out many class "A" or "C" Subscribers in the battalion area. Due to a reduced repair force which lacked sufficient team of repairmen to provide quicker service for priority designator subscribers, there was a serious interruption of phone service to the battalion.
(3) Battalion perimeter security was improved by employing a primary wire system to the battalion S-2, backed up by AN/PRC-25 radios in contact with the Battalion Operations Center (BOC). The system was reversed after some experimentation, and the AN/PRC-25s were employed as the primary mean of communication, and were backed up by the wire lines to S-2,
1. Logistics (1) Class III: Fuel consumption rate of the AAIA refueling pointat Ham Tan increased from 3000 gallons to 4000 gallons of JP-4 per week during this reporting period. This 25% increase is due to an increase of airmobile operations being conducted in the Ham Tan area. A weekly flight has been coordinated with the 528th Quartermaster Company to resupply fuel to the AAIA as necessary. An operational load of 10,000 gallons of JP-4 is currently maintained at this location.
(2) Class V: Additional guide-line figures have been received from Headquarters, 12th Combat Aviation Group to be used in computing battalion basic load and storage levels and are being maintained accordingly. This change incorporates the basic load of each unit with the currently authorized operational load d and allows for. better management of the amount of ammunition at the battalion ammunition point. The new warhead XM-229 ( 17, 5 lbs ) and the proximity fuze (XM-429) are now authorized for operational use, and are being stocked at the ammunition point. Beginning next quarter, ammunition will be requisitioned and distributed on the basis of 40% M-229 and 60% M-151, It is anticipated that 10 to 15% of the M-151's will be equipped with the XM-429 proximity fuze.
(3) Construction: New vertical construction completed during this reporting period consisted of two wooden buildings 20' x 100'. These buildings will be used for flight platoon standby and equipment storage.
( a ) The engineers have programmed the replacement cement of 33 aircraft revetments which were originally constructed utilizing CBU containers and sandbags, Estimated completion date at this time is unknown.
( b ) During this period two day-rooms and an orderly; room were completed under this self-help program. The ammunition supply point has been graded and the ammunition storage point has been relocated.
( 1 ) During the period 1 Aug 1968 through 31 Oct 1968, the 145th Combat Avn Battalion experienced four major accidents and our incidents in 43,835 flying hours. This was for a rate of 9.1 per 100,000 flying hours,
( 2) The air traffic control, with its full complement).. of radios now in operation twenty-four hours a day. Also, to further aid pilots; a large wind sock was placed in the southwest portion of the Airfield,
(3) Helicopter revetment areas are no longer referred to by individual company names. Instead, every lane has a number painted on each end and pilots request takeoff and landings to and from a particular lane. This was necessary for two reasons: (a) It is the only method which allows the tower to positively control traffic on the heliport, and (b) pilots, who are not familiar with the field can easily be directed to any given area.
n. Flight Standardization
(1 ) During this reporting period the primary training and standardization has been focused toward the initial in-country orientation and the making of new IP/SIP. This training is accomplished as much as possible at unit level. A training program is in progress at this time to give each unit a minimum of one SIP and three IP's. This should prove beneficial in keeping their training and standardization up to date.
( 2 ) Problems still exist in the availability of qualified, experienced pilots capable of performing instructor and standardization pilot duties. The majority of the replacement aviators are recent flight-school graduates and require in excess' of six months to gain sufficient experience to perform these duties. The assignment of more experienced aviators would greatly enhance the effectiveness of a sound flight standardization program.
C) Section 2. Lessons Learned: Commanders Observation Evaluation and Recommendations
a. Personnel: Rotation procedure of Royal Australian Navy Element
(1) OBSERVATION: The Australian personnel rotation was broken into two stages, fifty percent of the change occurred on 10 Sep 68, and the final stage was completed on 15 Oct 68.
(2) EVALUATION: The two-phase method of change over was very satisfactory and no decrease in unit capability was observed.
(3) RECOMMENDATION: That this method of rotation continue to be employed by the Australian contingent in the future.
b. Operations: (1) AH-1G Support at Night
(a) OBSERVATION: When flown at night either in support of ground elements or on the firefly mission, the AH-1G offers many advantages over the older and slower UH-1C gunship.
(b) EVALUATION: As a replacement for the UH-1D (high ship) on firefly the increased visibility from the front seat enables the mission commander to better observe the other members of his team. It also offers better station for navigation and target acquisition. When used in the low ship mode of the fire team, it is again flown in a similar manner as the UH-1C gunship. It is flown at airspeeds which vary from 20 knots to 100 knots with altitudes ranging from tree top to 400 feet absolute. With its ability to carry a combination of different weapons it is a far more versatile aircraft. In the mini-hog or heavy-hog configuration it has the added capability of carrying both the 17 lbs rockets for reinforced structures or sampans and 10 lbs rockets with the proximity fuzes for personnel in the open. Its increased power available to the pilot makes the Cobra more maneuverable at lower speeds. The only problems encountered when using the Cobra at night are the unreliability of the attitude indicator and the reflections on the canopy from the gunners instrument panel. It has been found that turning the gunner's instrument lights off and the pilots lights down will reduce the glare to a satisfactory level.
(C) RECOMMENDATION: That the AH-1G Cobra be used more in night operations, both in support of ground forces and on the firefly missions. That all pilots be advised of the problems encountered when flying the Cobra at night and the steps discussed above for eliminating them.
(2 ) In-Between Post Flights
(a) OBSERVATION: Post flight inspections during the day will aid in detection of potential hazards.
(b) EVALUATION: During an operational day, assault helicopter companies shutdown several times between insertions, extractions and repositioning of ground troops. During these shut down periods a thorough "in-between" post flight should be conducted. When carried out properly they can detect potential hazards such as clogged barriers filters, loose bearings of control sleeves, low or empty oil levels. One or more transmission inspection panels should be pulled, and with the crew observing in the hell hole and through the inspection port, the aircraft should be run to flight idle.
(c) RECOMMENDATION: That all units carry out post flight inspections during the day when the situation permits.
(3) Jettison Devices for 2.75" FFAR Pods
(a) OBSERVATION: During this wet season, units of this battalion have experienced numerous rocket pod jettison failures, both electrical and mechanical.
(b) EVALUATION: Due to the unusually wet and humid seasons here, a through and daily inspection of the rocket pod jettison is necessary to insure proper operation of these devices under emergency conditions. A thorough inspection can detect binding in the mechanical devices and frayed wires on the electrical devices.
(c) RECOMMENDATION: That all units have their armed platoon pilots conduct thorough and daily inspections of rocket pod jettison equipment.
(4) Crew Chief and Gunner Seat placement in UH-1C Gunship
(a) OBSERVATION: The standard seating arrangement in the UH-1C gunship can be improved by relocating the crew chief's and gunner's seats.
(b) EVALUATION: The crew chief and gunner on a UH-1C gunship have a very limited field of vision from the present seat location. They cannot observe to the front clearly due to the pilots seat location and their view to the rear is obstructed by the firewall. They cannot shoot to the front unless they lean outside of the aircraft. The seats can be moved forward approximately 12 inches and turned at an angle so that the crew members are facing approximately 45 degrees from the front of the aircraft. There are ample tiedown points to secure the seats. From this position they can easily place effective fire anywhere from the front of the aircraft to the rear. They have better observation capabilities and they do not have to lean out of the aircraft as far to see the rear.
(c) RECOMMENDATION: That all units using UH-1C gunships give consideration to this method of placement of the gunner's and crew chief's seats.
(5) Increased Firepower For the Smoke Helicopter
(a) OBSERVATION: Standard smoke ship configuration does not provide adequate suppressive firepower.
(b) EVALUATION: To be effective the smoke dispensing ship must fly low level in close proximity to the area that presents the greatest threat to the flight and as a result it is more subject to the effects of enemy ground fire than are the lift ships that are being screened. The M-60's presently utilized provide a small amount of coverage to the sides and rear of the aircraft. Twin mounted M-60 door guns mounted on each side of the aircraft supplemented by a free gun manned by a third gunner equipped with a monkey strap will provide the added firepower to suppress close to the aircraft. The free gun can move to the door that needs the firepower.
(c) RECOMMENDATION: That all units adopt this method of increasing the firepower available to the smoke dispensing helicopters.
( 6) Use of VT Fuzed Rockets
(a) OBSERVATION: Rockets with the proximity fuze are very effective for LZ preparation but the restrictions on their use near friendly forces dictates the need for special planning for their use.
(b) EVALUATION: VT fuzed rockets cannot be employed close to LZ's while the lift ships are landing. The UH-1C gunship cannot mix its rocket load.
This means that if VT rockets are loaded they must normally be employed prior to landing. When the VT is used it should be used as close to touch down as possible in order to achieve maximum shock action. One method of achieving maximum utilization of the VT warhead is to use one rocket ship with XM-159 pods loaded with VT fuzes and three XM-21 equipped aircraft loaded with HE rockets with the super quick fuzes. A LFT with the XM-21 system recons the landing zone and does a limited recon by fire. The second fire team with the rocket ship escorts the lift ships. The LZ is marked initially by the LFT and subsequently by the C&C from altitude. The LFT on the LZ recon pulls out early to join the formation. On long final, the rocket ship moves in front of the formation, salvoing his rockets several pair at a time, With this technique he can cover the LZ. After expending on this rocket run, the rocket ship immediately departs to rapidly rearm at the closest point. This is normally at the PZ, where rockets are pre-positioned. In the mean time the flight is covered by heavy fireteam loaded with HE rockets.
(c) RECOMMENDATION: This method of employment of rockets has proven highly effective in daily operations and it is recommended that other units give it consideration.
(7) Break-Up of Flights Upon Mission Termination
(a) OBSERVATION: Upon completion of a combat assault mission, the flights have been separating into individual aircraft for return flights to their home station.
(b) EVALUATION: All aviators assigned to the 145th Combat Avn Bn are required to maintain a minimum of four (4) hours per month of "hood" time or instrument training. One of the most opportune times to obtain a part of this required training is on the return flight from an operational area to the home station. By following this method of returning, it allows the aviator an opportunity to maintain his proficiency of instrument flying as well as giving him a break from the strain of formation flying. It is felt that this practice provides an increased safety margin by not requiring fatigued aviators to conduct unnecessary formation flight.
(c) RECOMMENDATION: Due to the valuable instrument training obtained and the added safety margin gained, it is recommended that all companies practice this method of returning from an operational area. It is further recommended that an interval of at least 2-4 minutes be taken between aircraft, as an added safety precaution while participating in instrument training.
(8) Utilization of Pathfinders
(a) OBSERVATION: Smooth operation of the PZ's has reaffirmed continued use of our Pathfinders.
(b) EVALUATION: The air mission commander in an airmobile operation should be fully aware that he has the responsibility to the ground commander to deliver and/or extract his troops to and from the designated LZ's in the least amount of time according to the tactical situation. Any delay in a rapid buildup of troops in the LZ or any delay in the extractions can result in unnecessary loss of personnel, or aviation assets. This can only be accomplished if the ground commander has set up the PZ according to procedures used by the aviation unit. Employment of the pathfinder team minimizes any delay encountered in the PZ.
(c) RECOMMENDATION: That Pathfinders be used more extensively in airmobile operations. In doing so, the aviation commander is assured the combat operation will be conducted in an efficient manner without the loss of time and unnecessary confusion.