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Old July 13th, 2005, 05:20 PM
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All the battles of the 1st CAV DIV with detailed description

1st AIR CAVALRY DIVISION (Airmobile) [ Top of Page ]



AHC = Assault Helicopter Co
Arty = Artillery
Bd = Brigade
Bn = Battalion
Brty = Battery
Co = Company
Dv = Division
Gp = Group
LIB = Light Infantry Brigade
Ord = Ordinance

History of the 1st Cavalry Division
1st Cavalry Division Association Web Pages
Armed Falcon
Bullwhip Squadron Association
HHC, 1st Brigade: 'Flying Circus'
Cavalry Battalions (Airmobile Infantry)

5th Cavalry (1st & 2nd Battalions)
7th Cavalry (1st, 2nd & 5th Battalions)
8th Cavalry (1st & 2nd Battalions)
B Company 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry
Regiment 'Jumping Mustangs'
C Company 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry
D Company, 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry
Regiment 'Angry Skipper'
D Company, 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry
12th Cavalry (1st & 2nd Battalions)
Cavalry Regiment
Divisional Aviation
11th Aviation Group
227th Aviation Battalion (Assault Helicopter) B Company 227th AHB 'The Good Deal Company'
C Company 227th AHB 'Snakes'
D Company 227th AHB 'El Lobo'
228th Aviation Battalion (Assault Support Helicopter) 229th Aviation Battalion (Assault Helicopter) 11th Aviation Company (General Support)
17th Aviation Company (Fixed Wing Transport)
478th Aviation Company (Heavy Helicopter)
Divisional Artillery
2nd Battalion, 20th Aerial Rocket Artillery
Divisional Reconnaissance Squadron
1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment (Air)
A Troop, 1st Squadron, 9th Air Cavalry
A Troop, 1/9 Cav
A Troop, 1/9 Cav
A Troop, 1/9 Cav
A Troop, 1/9 Cav
B Troop, 1st Squadron, 9th Air Cavalry
B Troop 1/9 Cav
C Troop, 1st Squadron, 9th Air Cavalry
C Troop, 1/9 Cav
C Troop, 1/9 Cav
C Troop, 1/9 Cav
C Troop, 1/9 Cav

__________________________________________________ _____
Platoon / US Air Cavalry Squadron
Platoon HQ Squad - in Bell UH-1D
Officer - Armed with M16
Platoon Sergeant - Armed with M16
Radio Operator - Armed with M16, Radio

4 x Rifle Squads - in Bell UH-1D
Squad Leader - Armed with M16
1 x Machine Gunners - Armed with M60
1 x Assisstant Machine Gunners - Armed with M16
1 x Grenadier - Armed with M79 "Blooper" Grenade Launcher
2 x Riflemen - Armed with M16

Scout Section
2 x OH-6A

Weapons Section
2 x AH-1G Cobra or 2 x UH-1B Gunship

D Troop, 3/5th Air Cavalry
Submitted by Don Armstrong

I. Introduction

The purpose, operation, mission, composition, and a typical day's operation of D troop 3/5 Cav.

II. Mission

To extend by aerial means the reconnaissance and security capabilities of the ground units. To engage in offensive defensive, or delaying actions within its capability and to seize and dominate lightly defended areas or terrain features. * (note: real mission was to search and destroy.)

III. Composition

A. TOE Authorized
1. 216 enlisted men
2. 14 officers
3. 36 warrant officers

B. TOE Actual
1. 221 enlisted
2. 18 officers
3. 29 warrant officers

C. Aircraft
1. 8 UH-1H lift ships
2. 10 OH6 scout ships
3. 9 AH-1G cobras

D. Troop makeup
1. Hq section
2. Aero Scout Platoon (War Wagons)
3. Aero Weapons Platoon (Crusaders)
4. Aero Lift Platoon (Longknives)
5. Aero Rifle Platoon (Doughboys)
6. Maintenance Platoon (Scavengers)

IV. Platoon Makeup & Tactics

1. Scout Platoon (Warwagons)

A. 2 Sections
(1) 2 teams each section
(2) 2 ships each team

B. OH6 Armament
(1) M60 on bunji cord-operated by door gunner
(2) 4000 rounds per minute mini gun operated by pilot
(3) 40 lbs of explosives
(a) frags
(b) CS gas
(c) smoke
(d) baby bombs-also known as W.W.A.S. (Warwagon air assault)
[1] 1 lb tnt 2 lbs C4
[2] 1 lb C4 a can of transmission fluid.

C. Tactics:

The scouts are given an area to work by the C & C (command and control) A/C. Only 1 team will work an area at any one time. They move into an area at tree top level and check any suspicious areas thoroughly. Some of the things the scout looks for are fresh trails, military clothing and equipment, fresh activity in abandoned areas and suspicious military age males. To help the scout to perform his mission of finding and killing VC, he uses a variety of armament which are utilized to blow bunkers, clear underbrush and kill VC. The lead scout is the one that does most of the work. The trail scout ship is closely behind the lead to give him cover at all times, and in case the lead is shot down the trail ship will be right there to pick up the downed crew. Some of the other function of the scout team was to screen for troops moving into an area, giving them constant air cover. Also, the scouts will pick out a suitable LZ for lift ships to insert troops.

2. Aero Weapons Platoon (Crusaders)

A. 2 sections
(1) 2 teams to each section
(2) 2 ships to each team

B. AH-1G armament
(1) 2-M59 Rocket Pods holding 19 rockets
(2) 2-M27 Rocket Pods holding 7 rockets
(3) 1 XM-28 turrent
(a) 1 mini gun- 1500 RPM, or 4,000 RPM
(b) 40 mm - 340 RPM
(c) or any combination of the above

C. Tactics
(1) The cobra is a vital part of the Aero weapons platoon. The aircraft commander is in charge of the aircraft and sits in the rear seat and controls the firing of the rockets. The gunner (also a lot) pilot control the firing of the turret and sits up front. He can also fly from the front seat to relieve the pilot.

(2) As with the scouts, the cobras only have 1 team on station at any one time (usually). The cobras cover the scouts in the A/O (area of operation) and usually orbit around them about 1200 feet. Anytime the scouts call "taking fire", the lead cobra automatically rolls in to cover the scouts exit out of the area. While the lead cobra is rolling in the gunner in the front seat is already putting down a heavy volume of mini gun fire into the area the scouts received fire. When the lead ship is in position he fires rockets into the area. Also at this time the trail cobra is putting rockets into the area to cover the leads break and to keep constant fire in the area. By the time the trail ship is ready to break the lead cobra has already gained altitude and is ready cover the trails break.

This cycle can continue until the cobras feel it's safe for the scouts to return or until the target is destroyed. Some of the other functions of the cobras is to cover the lift ships on insertions and extractions, and to destroy targets given to them by either the scouts or the ground troops. The cobras can provide close support to the ground commander.

3. Lift Platoon (Longknives)

A. UH-1H
2 sections with 7 ships for each section

B. Lift

UH-H (Huey) carries 2 M60 machine guns, troop capacity 8 U.S. or 10 ARVN

C. Tactics

The lift platoon uses 4 A/C to carry troops. They usually will fly a staggered formation or trail formation. The main purpose of the lift platoon is to insert and extract troops into the LZ. The lift ships are usually staged out of a staging area which is usually a base camp close to the AO. Another function of the lift ships is to be used as a medevac, or ash and trash missions.

4. The Aero Rifle Platoon (Doughboys)

A. 4 squads - 40 men (10 men each squad)

B. Armament
(1) 8 45 cal pistols
(2) 8 M-79's
(3) 32 M-16 rifles

C. Tactics

The Doughboys are equipped and trained to be ground pounders. Their main purpose is to give a ground reconnaissance of areas that the scout ships cannot check out by air. They are strictly a recon element. They are not a main fighting force and only about 32 soldiers are inserted at any one time. They can handle small numbers of VC. Anything of a larger size would have to be dealt with by a regular infantry company which would be brought in by an Assault Helicopter Company. Another function of the Doughboys (outside of details) is to secure any of our downed aircraft until it can be extracted.

5. Maintenance Platoon (Scavengers)

A. 4 sections and a platoon Hq
(1) A/C maint section
(a) Cobra maint team
(b) Huey maint team
(c) LOH maint team

(2) Allied Shops section
(a) engine shop
(b) prop and rotor shop
(c) sheet metal shop
(d) electrical shop
(e) avionics shop

(3) Armament Section
(a) Cobra armament
(b) LOH armament

(4) Tec supply section

B. Mission
To maintain and repair our A/C. 110 soldiers sometimes working 24 hours a day.

V. Typical Days Operation.

During the night the aviation battalion TOC will give our troop operations a mission. The crews are already scheduled for the next days operation. Wake up 4:15 a.m. shower, shave and eat breakfast. Briefing is at 5:15 a.m. for the lead scouts, lead cobra pilots, and lead lift pilots. At this time they are briefed on the mission and any special instructions. Meanwhile the "Pete's" are out preflighting their aircraft.

The troop takes off at 0600 a.m. and reports to the staging field at 0700 hrs. The mission commander goes into the TOC to receive his briefing on the days mission. At this time he meets his backseat (US Advisor) and the ARVN counterpart. The backseat has given us several areas that he would like to check out. At this time the mission commander will ask for "free fire" in those areas and rules of engagement. Also the U.S. Advisor will indicate where the ARVN Troops are located and if there are any friendly troops in the area.

We have been given several areas along the canal to check out. These have been designated as free fire areas. The scouts move into the area along the canal checking for camouflaged hooches and bunkers and dropping CS into those areas with fresh activity around them. Meanwhile the C & C aircraft is orbiting about 800 feet above the scouts and the cobras are covering the scouts at 1120 ft. (commonly called cutting doughnuts).

After working about an hour the scouts report a lot of fresh signs and activity. The lead scout has taken fire and the cobras are "inbound". The scouts return into the area for damage assessment and continue to work the area. The scouts just reported that this would be a good area to insert troops. The mission commander agrees and coordinates with the backseat and he in turn gets approval from his counterpart. The mission commander cranks up the lift ships to bring the troops out into the A.O.. Meanwhile the scouts have found a good L.Z. near the area, to be checked out. The lift ships are in the area and called "on long final" The scouts drop smoke in the L.Z. and depart the area. The cobras's pick up the lift ships (they're in position behind and high above the slicks and lay down continuous fire into the tree line in case they receive fire). The slicks are on the ground and men are coming out. The lead cobra has broke right and the trail has picked up the slicks to cover their exit from the L.Z.. As soon as the lift ships are clear the cobras break off and cover the scouts who have moved back into the area to give constant air cover to the ground troops. The troops are moving slowly into the area. They have come across a few hooches and are continue into the target area. The ground troops have reported coming into thick underbrush that has slowed them up. They have also reported finding several booby traps and bunkers. The ground troops also confirmed two KBA's for the scouts.

The troops are moving back out into the P.Z. and are waiting for the slicks. The scouts move out of the area and the cobras again pick up the lift ships for the extraction.

The troops have been extracted and are being returned to their base camp. The scouts make a final check to see that no one was left behind.

The mission commander notices that there isn't much daylight left and asks for a release from the backseat, which he gets and then returns the backseat and counterpart back to their base camp. It's already 1903 hrs and the troop reaches Vinh Long at 2000 hrs.- refuel, rearm fill out forms and do a good post flight.

The mission commander returns to operations to spend another hour filling out after action reports .

This concludes a typical day.

This article was taken from the D Troop 3/5th Air Cavalry web site and is reproduced here with the kind permission of Don Armstrong. This material is copyright of that site.

__________________________________________________ ___


There was normally a single Air Cav Troop organic to each Armoured Cavalry Squadron and three Air Cav Troops organic to the Air Cav Squadron of the Airmobile Division. For a full commentary on the role and organisation of an actual Air Cavalry Troop see D Troop 3/5th Air Cavalry. An Air Cav Troop contained an Aero Weapons Platoon, an Aero Scout Platoon and an Aero Rifle Platoon.

The high proportion of Warrant Officers is due to the fact that most air crew were of this rank. In the schematic below I have only shown the 'combat' elements of the Troop - there was also a Maintenance Section and an Aviation Section.


The Troop invariably undertook missions which can be categorized as follows:

INTELLIGENCE - visual reconnaissance of roads, areas, targets; bomb damage assessment (BDA); LZ reconnaissance and selection; target acquisition; Ranger/LRRP support.

SECURITY - providing early warning of impending attack; screening ops; first/last light reconnaissance; convoy protection; downed aircrew and aircraft recovery.

ECONOMY OF FORCE - artillery raids; combat assaults and ambushes; delaying actions; sustained security for construction of Fire Support Bases (FSB); base defence reaction force ops.


In order to carry out the various missions assigned to the Troop, the combat elements of the troop would, where necessary, be mixed, as appropriate, into teams as below.

Two Gunships assigned to offensive operations.

Two OH-6 assigned to recon

Combination Gunship and OH-6 ('Hunter Killer')

Blue's embarked to carry out ground recon and security.


Standard tactics for the aviation elements was to fly HIGH/LOW, that is, one aircraft would fly very low looking for targets or reconning the area (possibly attempting quite literally to 'draw' enemy fire in order for the enemy to reveal their positions) while the second aircraft flew at altitude providing cover, acting as the radio relay ship and giving the low flying aircraft navigational instructions. In operations involving OH-6's an OH-6 would always fly low.
The OH-6 would be in constant communication with the high flying AH-1G Gunship, feeding back data which would be annotated by the crew of the Gunship. If necessary the Gunship was always ready to 'roll in hot' in order to provide suppressive fire if the OH-6 came under attack. If the scout observed targets it would drop smoke marking rounds and the Gunship would roll in.


The following is an example of the way the Troop worked :

PINK TEAM makes contact with elements of the enemy; smoke used to mark contact; contact co-ordinates are relayed to Troop HQ; Gunship engages marked targets or targets of opportunity while OH-6 keeps enemy under observation, looking in particular for route of egress or re-inforcement and making attempts to establish the composition and size of enemy force as well as their deployment and the extent of their defenses.
Once Troop HQ receives contact information the decision is made as to whether to deploy BLUE team; second PINK team and/or RED team is redirected to contact in order to support and/or relieve team on station. BLUE team is scrambled..

BLUE team inserted near contact and deploys to engage the enemy; OH-6 guides BLUE team to contact, reconning forward and to the flanks of the BLUE team; BLUE team engages the enemy supported by all ships on station.
Once enemy starts to withdraw RED and PINK teams continue to interdict their routes of egress; BLUE team secures area of contact and polices battlefield.
BLUE team is extracted, enemy is pursued by RED and PINK teams. Occasionally the ARP's ( the Aero Rifle Platoon) would be re-inserted ahead of the retreating enemy as a blocking force.
Occasionally the Blues would be inserted and then find themselves on the receiving end of determined enemy forces and usually outnumbered. In preparation for this it was common to have a regular Infantry Company on stand-by to reinforce the Blues or to be inserted as a blocking force behind the enemy which the Blues were assaulting.


I strongly recommend using an Aero Rifle Platoon in your Vietnam games. The Air Cav Troop supporting an ARP platoon gives you great versatility and many options. Although technically under strength compared to a platoon from a Line Infantry Company, the ARP's made up for a lack in numbers by sheer volume of firepower. The ARP's pack a punch but they are always on the verge of being outmaneuvered and overrun since they are such a small combat element.
Nonetheless, with the aerial support which they always have on station, they can engage targets which a standard infantry platoon would avoid. Having an organic lift section of UH-1's also opens up many gaming possibilities - hot insertions, hot extractions, pilot rescue, search & destroy etc. The Air Cav Troop employed as an offensive unit against company sized enemy elements or smaller leads to some great games.

Other advantages which the ARP's 'enjoyed' as a consequence of their role, apart from being led by a captain, was extra communications equipment and a disproportionate number of NCO's. This results in greater command and control of the unit.
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Old July 13th, 2005, 05:26 PM
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On 01 July 1965, the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) was officially activated. It was made up of resources of the 11th Air Assault Division (Test) and brought to full strength by transfer of specialised elements of the 2nd Infantry Division. As a part of this reorganisation, the 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry was redesignated the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment and the 2nd Battalion, 9th Infantry was redesignated the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment. On 03 July 1965, in Doughboy Stadium at Fort Benning, Georgia the colors of the 11th Air Assault Division (Test) were cased and retired. As the band played the rousing strains of GarryOwen, the colours of the 1st Cavalry Division were moved onto the field.
Within 90 days of becoming the Army's first air mobile division, the First Team was back in combat as the first fully committed division of the Vietnam War. An advance party, on board C-124s and C-130s, arrived at Nha Trang between the 19th and 27th of August 1965. They joined with advance liaison forces and established a temporary base camp near An Khe, 36 miles inland from the costal city of Qui Nhon. The remainder of the 1st Cavalry Division arrived by ship, landing at the harbour of Qui Nhon on the 12th and 13th of September, the 44th anniversary of the 1st Cavalry Division. In the Oriental calendar year of the "Horse", mounted soldiers had returned to war wearing the famous and feared patch of the First Cavalry Division. The First Team had entered its third war - and the longest tour of duty in combat history.

On 10 October 1965, in "Operation Shiny Bayonet", the First Team initiated their first brigade-size airmobile action against the enemy. The air assault task force consisted of the 1st and 2nd Battalions, 7th Cavalry, 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry, 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry and the 1st Battalion, 21st Artillery. Rather than standing and fighting, the Viet Cong chose to disperse and slip away. Only light contact was achieved. The troopers had but a short wait before they faced a tougher test of their fighting skills; the 35-day Pleiku Campaign.

On 23 October 1965, the first real combat test came at the historic order of General Westmoreland to send the First Team into an air assault mission to pursue and fight the enemy across 2,500 square miles of jungle. Troopers of the 1st Brigade and 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry swooped down on the NVA 33rd regiment before it could get away from Plei Me. The enemy regiment was scattered in the confusion and was quickly smashed. The 3rd Brigade joined the fighting on 09 November. Five days later, the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry air assaulted into the Ia Drang Valley near the Chu Pong Massif. Landing Zone X-Ray was "hot" from the start. At Landing Zone X-Ray, the Division's first medal of honor in the Vietnam War was awarded to 2nd Lt. Walter J. Marm of the 1st Battalion 7th Cavalry. The fighting, the most intensive combat in the history of the division, raged for three days. When the Pleiku Campaign ended on 25 November, troopers of the First Team had killed 3,561 North Vietnamese soldiers and captured 157 more. The troopers destroyed two of three regiments of a North Vietnamese Division, earning the first Presidential Unit Citation given to a division in Vietnam. The enemy had been given their first major defeat and their carefully laid plans for conquest had been torn apart.

25 January 1966, began "Masher/White Wing" which were code names for the missions of the 3rd Brigade in Binh Dinh Province. The mission ended 6 March 1966, with the enemy losing its grip on the Binh Dinh Province, however its name would be heard again and again during the next six years. On 01 April 1966, the 5th Battalion, 7th Cavalry was activated at Fort Carson, Colorado. using the personnel and assets of the 1st Battalion, 11th Infantry, The unit joined the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 7th Cavalry, 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division in Vietnam. In August 1966 the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry was sent to the southernmost end of II Corps to bring the long months of "Operation Byrd" to a productive finish. In 16 months the 2nd Brigade fanned out from Phan Thiet, the capital city of Binh Thaun Province, and cleared from the enemy from the area.

The need for rice by the famished Viet Cong was the catalyst for Operation Paul Revere II which commenced on 02 August 1966. Significant contact with the enemy did not occur until 08 August, at LZ Juliett. Company "A", 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry came under heavy fire from a reinforced enemy battalion. In several hours of intense fighting, Alpha Company turned back repeated mass attacks. Timely artillery and air strikes eliminated the opportunity for the enemy to surround the Skytroopers. The roar of helicopters from two companies from the 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry arriving at LZ Juliett frightened the enemy, causing them to flee.

Hill 534, on the southern portion of Chu Pong Massif near the Cambodian Border, was the location of the final battle of Operation Paul Revere II. It began on 14 August, after Company "A" 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry suddenly ran into a North Vietnamese battalion and Company "B", 2nd Battalion began slugging it out with enemy troops in bunkers. A total of two battalions of Skytroopers were committed to the fight. When it ended the next morning, 138 NVA bodies were counted.

At the end of Paul Revere II, which had killed 861 of the enemy, a task force of the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry was organised for Operation Byrd. The task force was dispatched to Binh Thaun Province, at the southern of II Corps, to support the Revolutionary Development Program. This mission would last until the end of 1966.

On October 25, Operation Thayer II continued the drive to pacify the Binh Dinh Province. On 01 November, troopers of the 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry, 5th Battalion, 7th Cavalry became engaged in a sharp fight with the 93rd Battalion and the 2nd Viet Cong Regiment. The action took place in the vicinity of National Route 1 and Dam Tra-O Lake south of the Gay Giep mountains. In Thayer II the enemy suffered a punishing loss of 1,757 killed.

On 13 February 1967, Operation Pershing began in a territory which was familiar to many skytroopers, the Bong Son Plain in northern Binh Dinh Province. For the first time, the First Cavalry Division committed all three of its brigades to the same battle area.

The division began 1968, by terminating Operation Pershing, the longest of the 1st Cavalry's Vietnam actions. When the operation ended on 21 January, the enemy had lost 5,401 soldiers and 2,400 enemy soldiers had been captured. In addition, some 1,300 individual and 137 crew weapons had been captured or destroyed.

Moving to I Corps, Vietnam's northern most tactical zone, the division set up Camp Evans for their base camp. On January 31 1968, amid the celebration of the Vietnamese New Year, the enemy launched the Tet Offensive, a major effort to overrun South Vietnam. Some 7,000 enemy, well equipped, crack NVA regulars blasted their way into the imperial city of Hue, overpowering all but a few pockets of resistance held by ARVN troops and the U.S. Marines. Within 24 hours, the invaders were joined by 7,000 NVA reinforcements. Almost simultaneously to the North of Hue, five battalions of North Vietnamese and Viet Cong attacked Quang Tri City, the capital of Vietnam's northern province.

Following fierce fighting at Thorn La Chu, the 3rd Brigade moved toward embattled city of Hue. The southwest wall of the city was soon taken after the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry overcome severe resistance and linked up with the 5th Battalion. At this point, the NVA and Viet Cong invaders were driven from Hue by late February. The Tet offensive was over. The NVA and Viet Cong had suffered a massive defeat, with 32,000 killed and 5,800 captured.

After shattering the enemy's dreams of a Tet victory, the 1st Cavalry Division "Sky-Troopers" initiated Operation Pegasus to relieve the 3,500 U.S. Marines and 2,100 ARVN soldiers besieged by nearly 20,000 enemy soldiers. On 1 April 1968, the 3rd Brigade, making a massive air assault within 5 miles of Khe Sanh, were soon followed by the 1st and 2nd Brigades and three ARVN Battalions. Company "A", 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry led the way, followed by Company "C", 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry. After four days of tough fighting, they marched into Khe Sanh to take over the defence of the battered base. Pursing the retreating North Vietnamese, the 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry recaptured the Special Forces camp at Lang Vei uncovering large stockpiles of supplies and ammunition. The final statistics of Operation Pegasus were 1,259 enemy killed and more than 750 weapons captured.

On April 19 1968, Operation Delaware was launched into the cloud-shrouded A Shau Valley, near the Laotian border and 45 kilometers west of Hue. None of the Free World Forces had been in the valley since 1966, which was now being used as a way station on the supply route known as the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The first engagement was made by the 1st and 3rd Brigades. Under fire from mobile, 37 mm cannon and 0.50 caliber machine guns, they secured several landing zones. For the next month the brigades scoured the valley floor, clashing with enemy units and uncovering huge enemy caches of food, arms, ammunition, rockets, and Russian made tanks and bulldozers. By the time that Operation Delaware was ended on 17 May, the favorite VC sanctuary had been thoroughly disrupted.

In late 1968, the Division moved and set up operations in III Corps at the other end of South Vietnam. In February 1969, Operation Cheyenne Sabre began in areas northeast of Bien Hoa. The year 1969 ended in a high note for the 1st Cavalry Division. The enemy's domination of the northern areas of III Corps had been smashed - thoroughly.

On 1 May 1970, the First Team was "First into Cambodia" hitting what was previously a Communist sanctuary. President Nixon has given the go-ahead for the surprise mission. Pushing into the "Fish Hook" region of the border and occupied the towns of Mimot and Snoul. Troopers deprived the enemy of much needed supplies and ammunition, scattering the enemy forces. The Cambodian Operation far exceeded all expectations and proved to be one of the most successful operations of the First Team. All aspects of ground and air combat were utilised. The campaign had severe political repercussions in the United States for the Nixon Administration. Pressure was mounting to remove America's fighting men from the Vietnam War.

Although there would be further assault operations, the war was beginning to wind down for many troopers. The efforts of the 1st Cavalry Division were not limited to direct enemy engagements but also, using the experiences gained during the occupation of Japan and Korea, encompassed the essential rebuilding of the war torn country of South Vietnam. As a result of its' gallant performance, the regiment was awarded two presidential Unit Citations and the Valorous Unit Citation.

Although 26 March 1971 officially marked the end of duties in Vietnam for the 1st Cavalry Division, President Nixon's program of "Vietnamization" required the continued presence of a strong U.S. fighting force. The 2nd Battalion of the 5th Regiment, 1st Battalion of the 7th Regiment, 2nd Battalion of the 8th Regiment and 1st Battalion of the 12th Regiment along with specialised support units as "F" Troop, 9th Cavalry and Delta Company, 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion helped establish the 3rd Brigade headquarters at Bien Hoa. Its primary mission was to interdict enemy infiltration and supply routes in War Zone D.

The 3rd Brigade was well equipped with helicopters from the 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion and later, a battery of "Blue Max", aerial field units and two air cavalry troops. A QRF (Quick Reaction Force) - known as "Blue Platoons", was maintained in support of any air assault action. The "Blues" traveled light, fought hard and had three primary missions; 1) to form a "field force" around any helicopter downed by enemy fire or mechanical failure; 2) to give quick backup to Ranger Patrols who made enemy contact; and 3) to search for enemy trails, caches and bunker complexes.

"Blue Max", "F" Battery, 79th Aerial Rocket Artillery, was another familiar aerial artillery unit. Greatly appreciated by troopers of the 1st Cavalry, its heavily armed Cobras flew a variety of fire missions in support of the operations of the 3rd Brigade. The pilots of "Blue Max" were among the most experienced combat fliers in the Vietnam War. Many had volunteered for the extra duty to cover the extended stay of the 1st Cavalry Division.

Most of the initial combat for the new brigade involved small skirmishes. But the actions became bigger and more significant. Two engagements in May of 1971 were typical operations. On 12 May the third platoon, Delta Company, 2/5th tangled with enemy forces holed up in bunker complexes. With help from the Air Force and 3rd Brigade Gunships, the troopers captured the complex. Fifteen days later, helicopters of Bravo Troop, 1/9th received ground fire while conducting a reconnaissance mission over a large bunker complex. Air strikes were called in and the troopers overran the complex.

Early in June, intelligence detected significant enemy movement toward the center of Long Khanh Province and its capital, Xuan Loc. On 14 June Delta Company of the 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry ran into an ambush in heavy jungle and engaged a company-sized enemy unit. The troopers were pinned down in a well-sprung trap. Cavalry field artillery soon pounded their North Vietnamese positions and heavy Cobra fire from Blue Max, "F" Battery of the 79th Aerial Rocket Artillery, swept down on the enemy positions keeping pressure on the withdrawing North Vietnamese throughout the night. The Brigade's timely movements had thwarted the enemy build up north of Xuan Loc.

By 31 March 1972, only 96,000 U.S. troops were involved in the Vietnam combat operations. In mid June 1972, the standdown ceremony for the 3rd Brigade was held in Bein Hoa and the colours were returned to the United States. The last trooper left from Tan Son Nhut on 21 June, completing the division recall which had started on 05 May 1971. With the 3rd Brigade completing their withdraw, the 1st Cavalry had been the first army division to go to Vietnam and the last to leave.

"Firsts" had become the trademark of the First Team.

On 27 January 1973, a cease-fire was signed in Paris by the United States, South Vietnam, North Vietnam, and the Provisional Revolutionary Government of the National Liberation Front (NLF), the civilian arm of the South Vietnam Communists. A Four-Party Joint Military Commission was set up to implement such provisions as the withdrawal of foreign troops and the release of prisoners. An International Commission of Control and Supervision was established to oversee the cease-fire.

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Old July 13th, 2005, 05:30 PM
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Default Order of Battle: 1st CAVALRY DIVISION

Order of Battle


Cavalry Battalions (Airmobile Infantry)

5th Cavalry
1st Battalion
2nd Battalion
7th Cavalry
1st Battalion
2nd Battalion
5th Battalion
8th Cavalry
1st Battalion
2nd Battalion
12th Cavalry
1st Battalion
2nd Battalion
Division Aviation

11th Aviation Group
227th Aviation Battalion (Assault Helicopter)
228th Aviation Battalion (Assault Support Helicopter)
229th Aviation Battalion (Assault Helicopter)
11th Aviation Company (General Support)
17th Aviation Company (Fixed Wing Transport)
478th Aviation Company (Heavy Helicopter)
Division Artillery

2nd Battalion, 17th Artillery (105mm)
2nd Battalion, 19th Artillery (105mm)
2nd Battalion, 20th Artillery (Aerial Rocket)
1st Battalion, 21st Artillery (105mm)
1st Battalion, 30th Artillery (155mm)
1st Battalion, 77th Artillery (105mm)
Battery E, 82nd Artillery (Aviation)
Division Reconnaissance

1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry (Air)
11th Pathfinder Company (Provisional)
Company E, 52nd Infantry (Long Range Recon)
Company H, 75th Infantry (Ranger)
Division Support

1st Personnel Service Battalion
8th Engineer Battalion
13th Signal Battalion
15th Medical Battalion
15th Supply & Service Battalion
15th Transportation Battalion (Aircraft Maintenance)
27th Maintenance Battalion
15th Administrative Company
371st Army Security Agency Company
545th Military Police Company
Other Units on Temporary Assignment

1st Battalion, 50th Infantry (Mechanized)
2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry (Mechanized)
1st Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry
2nd Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry
3rd Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry
Other Aviation Assets - assets of these aviation companies were utilised to build the 11 aviation companies of the 227th, 228th and 229th Aviation Battalions of the division, since at the date of deployment only Company A, 227th Aviation Battalion had complete equipment and personnel required. These were never officially part of the division's aviation force.

110th Aviation Company (Aerial Weapons)
131st Aviation Company (Aerial Weapons)
132nd Aviation Company (Assault Support Helicopter)
133rd Aviation Company (Assault Support Helicopter)
194th Aviation Company (Assault Helicopter)
202nd Aviation Company (Assault Helicopter)
Company A, 4th Aviation Battalion (Assault Helicopter)
Company A, 5th Aviation Battalion (Assault Helicopter)
Aviation Company, 6th Special Forces Group (Assault Helicopter)
Aviation Company, 7th Special Forces Group (Assault Helicopter)




ELEMENT FROM TO 1966 1968 1970 1972

Division HQ & HQ Cpy. 11-9-65 29-4-71 167 195 195
1st Brigade HQ & HQ Cpy. 12-9-65 29-4-71 223 223 223
2nd Brigade HQ & HQ Cpy. 12-9-65 26-3-71 223 223 223
3rd Brigade HQ & HQ Cpy. 12-9-65 26-6-72 223 223 223 346
Division Arty. HQ & HQ Cpy. 12-9-65 29-4-71 162 162 162
Support Command HQ & HQ Cpy. 12-9-65 29-4-71 163 163 163




An Khe 9-65 6-67
An Khe / Bong Son 7-67 1-68
An Khe / Hue 2-68
An Khe / Phong Diem 3-68 4-68
An Khe / Quang Tri 5-68
An Khe / Phong Diem 6-68 10-68
An Khe / Phuoc Vinh 11-68 4-69
An Khe / Phuoc Vinh (*) 5-69 4-71

* 3rd Brigade only
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Old July 13th, 2005, 05:38 PM
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Default Ia Drang Valley & Landing Zone X-Ray. :1st CAV DIV

By Pete Jones



This article is a piece I first wrote for my local club newsletter (which I also edit). I hope you find it interesting and is a good idea for a scenario in either 6mm for the entire battle or in l5mm/20mm for the desperation of B Company.

In 1965 the Americans identified the Ia Drang Valley to be a major enemy staging area with at least one North Vietnamese regiment being based there. On 14th November Colonel Thomas brown decided an airmobile assault should be launched into the Valley near the base of Chu Pong with foot patrols conducting a search and destroy mission. Fire support was to be provided by two 150mm howitzer batteries located east of the assault area. Up until then no major contacts with enemy had been received by any ground troops sent to Vietnam -things were about to change.

At 0830 hours the assault began with helicopter reconnaissance and artillery preparation fire on three possible landing zones was made. At 1030 hours Company B of the 1st Battalion of the 7th cavalry landed unopposed at Landing Zone X-Ray. (This is probably one of the most famous American units; it is the unit that was annihilated by the Sioux Indians at the battle of Little Big Horn.) The first foot recce patrols moved out from the LZ meeting no resistance at all. A NVA deserter was captured and he confirmed their intelligence sources that the area was indeed a major enemy communist base.

In fact, the 66th and 33rd NVA Regiments who had been planning to attack Plei Mei Special Forces camp were now redirected to attack this American operation. By noon the two NVA Regiments were in place to attack the LZ. B Company by now had moved across a dry creek and spread out two platoons abreast and one in reserve heading up a ridge towards Chu Pong. As they moved through thick jungle heavy contact was made by the 8 superior NVA forces. 2nd Platoon became separated from the rest of the Company and were surrounded by the enemy. 1st and 3rd Platoons tried to force their way through to their aid but the NVA small arms fire was too intense.

Back on the LZ A Company completed its' insertion amongst a shower of 60mm and 81mm mortar fire, one platoon was immediately ordered to help B Company. As they approached B Companies position they became aware of a considerable Vietnamese force moving around their left flank heading towards the LZ and the rest of A Company, they too had become surrounded. The NVA units that had cut them off was company sized but the enemy had made one major blunder. They crossed the dry creek which the rest of A Company was using for cover, they easily cut the NVA down as they ran.

C and D Companies now landed in the LZ and secured the perimeter as A Company moved up the ridge and joined B Company who in turn attempted to reach 2nd Platoon. They met murderous incoming fire, which halted them quickly. Massive artillery fire and air support was used but it seemed not to make an impression on the NVA and still the Americans held on by a thread. Hand to hand fighting was taking place everywhere and despite heroic efforts A and B Company could not reach 2nd Platoon.

As evening tell both A and B Company's were ordered to fall back to the LZ where C and D Company's were still involved in a ferocious firefight. C Company were fighting off two Vietnamese Company's alone. No further rescue attempts could be made on the forlorn 2nd Platoon who were all alone. Of the 27 men who had started in 2nd Platoon 8 had already been killed including Lt. Herrick and the second in command. The platoon was now commanded by Sergeant Clyde E. Savage. During the night three major enemy assaults were repulsed due to well aimed small arms fire and accurate fire missions.

B Company of the 2nd battalion 7th Cavalry was now airlifted into the LZ but thereafter because of the ferocious enemy fire no more troops could be airlifted in. Further reinforcements had to be landed at alternate LZ's between 3km and 10km away. The only hope was they could march overland to the assistance of their colleagues. During the night the NVA weren't inactive either, the 8th Battalion of the 66th NVA regiment was moved into the area with the responsibility of attacking the eastern side of the LZ defended by D Company. H-15 main Force Viet Cong Battalion was ordered to attack the South side of the LZ where C Company defended. They kept the 32nd NVA Regiment assailable to be thrown in and mortars and anti-aircraft equipment was moved towards the LZ. During the night the NVA probed the American positions, which were now well dug in.

The Americans used air and artillery support highly effectively. The Americans did not suffer too many casualties overnight. By dawn the firefights had subsided and small recce patrols covered the perimeter. C Company's recce patrol soon met heavy resistance and once again heavy fire was received across the Company's front. The Vietnamese were launching a massive assault in attempt to overrun the American positions and artillery and air support arrived in abundance. Quickly the situation worsened and A Company was sent to help C Company and as they left D Company received heavy contact. The reserve, which was the battalion recce platoon, went to D Company's aide. The LZ was covered with criss crossing incoming fire.

Heavy and accurate fire/air support was landing on the NVA positions, by 0800 hours a third attack was made by them on A Company. The Americans were by now in a desperate situation, B Company 2nd Battalion 7th Cavalry was moved into the centre of the LZ so they could lend support to the danger spots. Yet amazingly the defenders hung on whilst the Vietnamese suffered heavy casualties through very intense barrages. B52 bombers also dropped payloads onto the NVA to assist the ground troops. At 0900 hours the first American helicopters landed on the hot LZ with reinforcements in the shape of A Company 2nd Battalion 7th Cavalry.

Every officer in C Company had been killed but their firepower had proved too intense for the NVA and the attack disintegrated. At LZ Victor 3 km away the 2nd Battalion 5th Cavalry had to battle through heavy enemy resistance to reach LZ X-ray and duly arrived at noon. A and C Company's of their battalion joined up with B Company 1st Battalion to lead a rescue attempt on the beleaguered 2nd Platoon. At 1300 hours they set off firstly meeting light resistance and sniper fire, they there escorted the living, wounded and dead back to the LZ.

The American forces spent another night on the LZ and shortly after midnight a massive NVA attack was launched against the LZ . But the Americans had received reinforcements and consolidated their positions and the NVA attack was only over a small front. The defenders co-ordinated all mortars and the available four artillery batteries to halt the attack and were not overrun at all. By dawn the Vietnamese had melted back into the jungle and the odd shot fired by wounded VC was the only firing.

The American casualties were 79 killed, 121 wounded and none missing. There were 634 enemy dead soldiers on the field but numerous trails of blood were found, Americans estimate they caused 1,000 casualties. The Vietnamese certainly learnt from this battle because never were they to throw troops at cavalry forces again in such a mindless manner.



In 15mm/20mm a large number of figures would be required unless you stick to the plights of A and B Companies. In 1/300th (6mm) if you count one base as a squad of 10 men you can represent a company with 12 bases. Each company could be divided into four bases per platoon (one platoon being the heavy weapons platoon the other three rifle platoons9. Each NVA regiment would require 150 bases and the VC main force as 50 bases - I suggest recycling dead bases or using counters as well. Americans should be classed as veterans and the Vietnamese as regular troops.


1st Battalion 7th Cavalry (4 Co.'s)
2nd Battalion 7th Cavalry (4 Co.'s )
2nd Battalion 5th Cavalry (4 Co.'s)
Four 105mm Artillery Batteries
Liberal air support


32nd NVA Regiment (1,500 men)
33rd NVA Regiment (1,500 men)
66th NVA Regiment (1,500 men)
H-15 Main Force Viet Cong (500 men)
Mortar and Heavy weapon Support
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Old July 13th, 2005, 05:54 PM
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Default Vietnam: US TO&E

Vietnam Tables of Organisation and Equipment


Armor Battalion

Organized HQ and HQ Company [3 tanks], three tank companies [17 tanks each] and Service Coy.

Personnel: 592

M48 tanks: 54, M106 APC with 4.2" mortar: 4, M113 APC: 14

Divisional Armored Cavalry Squadron

Organized in HQ and HQ Troop, three armored cavalry troops, air cavalry troop

HQ and HQ Troop: 264 personnel, 10 M113 APCs, 4 M132 Flamethrower Carriers

Ground Troop: 197 personnel, 9 M48 tanks, 3 M125 APC with 81mm mortar, 21 M113 APC

Air Troop: 194 personnel, 9 AH-1G, 9 OH-6A, 2 UH-1B, 6 UH-1D

Aggregate: 1049 personnel, 27 M48 tanks, 9 M125 APC with 81mm mortars, 73 M113 APCs, 4 M132 Flamethrower Carriers, 9 AH-1G, 9 OH-6A, 2 UH-1B, 6 UH-1D. Both here and in the armored cavalry regiment the M577 ACV has been ignored and is not included in the M113 count.

In 1965, the TOE included M114 vehicles, which were not well regarded. Squadrons replaced them with M113’s before deployment. However, they were also prevented from taking their tanks, as MACV and other high-level Army headquarters were opposed to armor in Vietnam. If the tanks were shipped, they were not allowed to be used. Thus, the 1st Infantry Division’s squadron had their M48 tanks withdrawn and held at base camp for six months after arrival in Vietnam before the division commander could convince Westmoreland to allow their use. The tanks were back in use by 1966.

The Air Troop was also somewhat different in 1965. A TOE from then or somewhat earlier showed a unit of 141 personnel, with an aero scout platoon (9 LOH and four UH), an aero weapons section (4 UH armed with rockets), and the aero rifle platoon (four squads carried in 5 UH). Other aircraft at headquarters included 1 LOH and 4 UH.

In Jan 1969 3rd Sqn 4th Cavalry began to receive the M551 Sheridan, which replaced M48 tanks one for one. By 1970, the other divisional squadrons were re-equipped with Sheridans.

Note that a divisional air cavalry squadron (e.g., in 1st Cavalry Division) had the opposite organization: one ground troop and three air troops. It probably had some variations in the HQ and HQ Troop as well.

Armored Cavalry Regiment

The regiment had a HQ and HQ Troop, Air Cavalry Troop, and three squadrons. HQ and HQ Troop included 2 light observation and 8 utility helicopters. The Air Cavalry Troop was essentially the same as that in the divisional squadron. The three squadrons were organized into HQ and HQ Troop (281 personnel, 5 M113 APCs, 3 AVLBs, 2 light observation and 2 utility helicopters); three armored cavalry troops (each 170 personnel, 9 M48 tanks, 3 M106 APC with 4.2" mortars, 22 M113 APCs), Tank Troop (102 personnel, 17 M48 tanks, 3 M113 APCs), and Artillery Battery (143 personnel, 6 M109 155mm SP howitzers). A squadron thus had 44 M48 tanks, 9 M106 APC with 4.2" mortars, 6 SP 155mm howitzers, and a number of M113 APCs.

In 1965, as with divisional units, the TOE had included M114 reconnaissance vehicles. M113’s were substituted for them, and for the M48 tanks in the cavalry troops (giving each squadron another 27 M113’s and no 48’s). While the design had existed earlier, the designation of ACAV (armored cavalry assault vehicle) for a modified M113 (.50 caliber machine-gun with shield in front, two M60 machine-guns with shields in the rear) was coined by the 11th. Even though divisional squadrons had their tanks restored in armored cavalry troops during 1966, the 11th shipped without them. The tank troops were allowed to ship their vehicles.

In Jan 1969, 1st Sqn 11th Armored Cavalry began to receive M551 Sheridans, receiving three Sheridans for each two ACAVs in the troops. By 1970 the remainder of the regiment was re-equipped with Sheridans.

Airmobile/Assault Helicopter Company

258 personnel, 23 UH-1D [door-mounted MG], 8 UH-1C [6 with 2.75" rockets and MG, 2 with 40mm GL]

Medium Helicopter/Assault Support Helicopter Company

269 personnel, 16 CH-47, 2 OH-6A

Division Aviation Battalion

These were originally organized with a HQ and HQ Company, Light Airmobile Company (24 utility helicopters) and GS Aviation Company (6 utility helicopters, 16 light observation helicopters, and 4 observation aircraft).

105mm Towed Howitzer Battalion

HQ and Service Battery and four batteries (each with 6 105mm howitzers)

These originally had three batteries

641 personnel

General Support Battalion [towed 155mm and SP 8" howitzers]

HQ and Service Battery, three towed batteries (each 6 155mmhowitzers), one SP battery (4 8" howitzers)

These were found in the infantry divisions

616 personnel

155mm Towed Howitzer Battalion

HQ and HQ Battery, three batteries (each 6 155mm howitzers), service battery

598 personnel

175mm Gun/8" Howitzer Battalion

HQ and HQ Battery, three firing batteries (each 2 175mm SP guns and 2 8" SP howitzers), Service Battery

565 personnel

All of the original 175mm gun or 8" howitzer battalions were reorganized by 1969 as composite units; both weapons were mounted on the same carriage.

Aerial Rocket Battalion

39 helicopters with 2.75" rockets

Quad M55 Battery

142 personnel with 24 trailer-mounted M55 quad .50 MGs

Infantry Battalion

HQ and HQ Company, four rifle companies, Combat Support Company

HQ and HQ Company had 166 personnel

Each rifle company had 164 personnel (HQ: 12, three rifle platoons: 42 each, mortar platoon: 26 [3 81mm mortars])

Combat Support Company had 100 personnel with 4 4.2" mortars

Each rifle company had 3 90mm recoilless rifles on TOE, but these were usually left at base camp

Battalion aggregate: 922 personnel. The battalion had 33 jeeps and 17 trucks (8 ¾-ton and 9 2 ½-ton)

At the time of the initial commitment, 1965-66, there were variations in infantry battalions. A normal infantry battalion had HQ and HQ Company (290 personnel, 4 4.2"mortars and 2 106mm recoilless rifles); three rifle companies (180 personnel, with 2 3.5" rocket launchers at company HQ, 3 81mm mortars, 2 106mm recoilless rifles and 1 3.5" in the weapons platoon, and 2 MG and 2 90mm recoilless rifles in each of three rifle platoons). The battalion totaled 830 personnel.

An airmobile battalion had HQ and HQ Company (134 personnel), three rifle companies (170 personnel, with 3 81mm mortars in the weapons platoon and 2 MG and 2 90mm recoilless rifles in each of three rifle platoons) and a Combat Support Company (123 personnel, 4 81mm mortars and 8 106mm recoilless rifles). This unit totaled 767 personnel.

Gradually the Army standardized infantry on the model light infantry battalion given at first. Actual strength, of course, would have been well below the nominal 900-plus personnel.

Infantry Battalion (Mechanized)

HQ and HQ Company, three mechanized rifle companies

HQ and HQ Company had 304 personnel

Each mechanized rifle company had 199 personnel, with heavy weapons probably similar to 1965 infantry battalion

The strengths shown above are from 1963. By Nov 1970 a mechanized rifle company had 170 or 172 personnel, with three platoons, each in 4 M113 APCs, and a weapons platoon (3 M125A1 with 81mm mortars and 2 M113 with TOW). The company had a total of 15 M113 APCs. By Nov 1970 there was also a Combat Support Company, which included a scout platoon (10 M113), a mortar platoon (4 M106 with 4.2" mortars), and AT platoon (6 M113 with TOW). The Combat Support Company pulled units from the old HQ and HQ Company. Battalions in Vietnam did not, as far as I know, ever receive the M113 with TOW.

Ranger Infantry Company

118 personnel (two platoons, each eight 6-man patrols and 2-man HQ)

Armament was restricted to rifles and 40mm GL; the company had 9 jeeps
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Old July 16th, 2005, 09:44 AM
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1st Air Cavalry loads up for operation Masher-White Wing in the Iron Triangle, 1966

Picture taken by Dick Swanson

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Old July 16th, 2005, 11:00 AM
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Soldiers of the 1st Air Cavalry Division board a Chinook helicopter that will take them from the valley, where they have been operating for a month against North Vietnamese troops defending the Ho Chi Minh Trail. A Shau Valley, 1968

Picture taken by Dana Stone

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Old July 16th, 2005, 11:04 AM
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Men of the 1st Cavalry Assaulting from a Helicopter I–corps, December 1967

Picture taken by Gilles Caron

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