October 1971 brings to a close a proud and gallant record of combat service in Vietnam for the 14th Combat Aviation Battalion. Members of the Battalion have engaged the Enemy from Nha Trang to the Khe Sanh and into the Kingdom of Loas over the past seven years. These engagements have taken their toll. One hundred and fifty four men have died gallantly for the cause of freedom and countless more were wounded. The high spirit and “can do” attitude remains with the unit up to and through the “stand down” phase. To some “stand down” is the demise of a unit, to current and former members of the 14th Combat Aviation Battalion it is merely a change in mission and preparation for a new challenge. The 14th Combat Aviation Battalion has on countless occasions proven its versatility as is so appropriately emblazoned on the Unit crest. The mission of the Battalion in CONUS, be it training or support, will be accomplished in the same spirit as the combat mission. To have served on two occasions with the “Arabs” has for me been a privilege, challenge and one of extreme satisfaction.
Joseph F Rutkowski
The 14th Aviation Battalion was constituted on 2 Sept 1964, in the Regular Army as Headquarters, Headquarters Company, 14th Aviation Battalion and was activated on 3 Sept 1964, (1) at Ft Benning, Georgia. The Battalion Headquarters arrived in Saigon, RVN on 14 Oct 1964, (2) and was assigned to the United States Army Support Command Vietnam. On 21 Oct 1964, Headquarters, 14th Aviation Battalion moved from Saigon to Nha Trang. The Battalion was declared operational on 17 Nov 1964. The 14th Aviation Battalion was composed originally of the following companies and supporting detachments.
18th Aviation Company
51st Trans Detachment (3)
92nd Aviation Company
2nd Signal Detachment
339th Trans Company
8th Field Hospital (attached)
87th QM Detachment
19th Signal Detachment
Later the following units were assigned:
I Corps Aviation Company
20th Aviation Detachment
54th Aviation Company
131st Aviation Company
61st Aviation Company
134th Aviation Company
220th Aviation Company
135th Aviation Company
57th Aviation Company
As a fixed wing battalion the 14th controlled assets throughout RVN and was responsible for numerous long distance cargo, regular VIP passenger flights as well as surveillance of various areas. Effective 15 April 1965, the 14th was assigned to the US Army Aviation Group Vietnam. The Group was then renamed the 12th Aviation Group 31 Aug 1965. By April 1966, the Battalion had been divested of most of its fixed wing assets. Many of the Companies were redeployed to the States. The 61st, 92nd,and 134th Companies were refitted with UH-1H and UH-1C Helicopters and returned to RVN on 1 Nov 1966. Later in 1966, the 14th Battalion moved to Lane Army Heliport (West of Qui Nhon) to begin operations as a combat aviation battalion. The 161st and 174th Assault Helicopter Companies were assigned 1 June 1966. The 282nd AirMobile Company was assigned to the 14th on 12 June 1966. In September 1966, the remaining fixed wing components were detached. During the spring of 1967, the 176th AHC and the 196th ASHC joined the 14th Battalion. The 196th afforded the Battalion its first organic CH-47’s.
The assets of the 14th while at Qui Nhon were used to support the famed 9th White Horse and Capitol ROK Infantry Divisions. This association lasted until April 1967, when the Battalion displaced to unprepared tactical field sites in and around Chu Lai to support Task Force Oregon. Task Force Oregon became the Americal Division and the 14th remained to provide Aviation Support for this unique combat organization.
While beginning their new task of supporting Task Force Oregon the 14th welcomed two more Assault Helicopter Companies to it’s command, the 71st and the 176th AHC’s. In April of 1967, the 71st arrived at Chu Lai from Ben Hoa to support the 196th Light Infantry Brigade. Later in the year, November 67, the 176th was released from it’s mission supporting the 101st at Duc Pho and Joined the 14th CAB at Chu Lai. The primary mission assigned to the 176th was to provide aviation support to the 196th Light Infantry Brigade.
The 14th Battalions present mission is to provide command, control, and staff planning and administrative supervision for three to seven transport aviation companies. (4) Presently the 14th Combat Aviation Battalion is providing timely direct and general aviation support to the 23rd Infantry Division (Americal) and selected units within the
I Corp Tactical Zone, on a 24 hour basis. At Chu Lai the 14th fulfilled this mission by providing the following types of support; resupply, reconnaissance, combat assaults, artillery displacement, administrative unit moves, command and control, medical evacuation, armed helicopter escort and other assigned missions to the 23rd Infantry Division and the 2nd ARVN division.
Headquarters Company, 174th AHC, 176th AHC, and the 178th ASHC were officially attached to the Americal Division in January 1968. On 6 Jan 1968, the 14th Combat Aviation Battalion was reassigned from the 17th Combat Group to the 16th Combat Aviation Group.(5) During this period the 161st AHC was released from the 14th Battalion and became A Co. 123rd, the nucleus of the 123rd Combat Aviation Battalion.
The 14th CAB now consisted of three assault helicopter companies and one assault support company. In Dec 1968 another company was attached to the 14th, it was the 132nd Assault Support helicopter Company. The capabilities of the 14th Battalion were greatly increased with the addition of this support helicopter unit.
During December 1969, the 14th CAB was tasked to support “operation Holly”. On this operation they were in support of the Bob Hope Show. They transported several thousand soldiers from Fire bases into Chu Lai and return, so they could view the show, Bob Hope and his Troupe were flown in from an Aircraft Carrier to Chu Lai.
The year 1970 had several significant events pertaining to the 14th CAB. The 116th AHC was placed under the operational control of the Battalion on 7 July 1970. On 1 Jan 1971 they were assigned to the Battalion, making it the largest aviation battalion in Vietnam.
Until September 1971, the 14th CAB consisted of it’s headquarters and Headquarters Company and it’s attached 14th Security Platoon and 534th Medical detachment; the 71st Assault Helicopter Company ( Rattlers and Firebirds); the 174th Assault Helicopter Company ( Dolphins and Sharks) and it’s attached 756th Medical Detachment; the 176th Assault Helicopter Company ( Minutemen and Muskets); The 116th Assault Helicopter Company (Hornets and Stingers); the 132nd Assault Support Helicopter Company (Hercules) and the 178th Assault Helicopter Support Company (Boxcars).
A. General Support
During November and December 1970, the 14th CAB was in direct and general support on a daily basis with operations involving elements of the 198th Light Infantry brigade, 196th Light Infantry Brigade, 11th Light Infantry Brigade, 4th, 5th and 6th ARVN Regiments and LRRP operations with G Company, 75th Rangers. These units were involved in the following operations:
11th Infantry Brigade – Iron Mountain
196th Infantry Brigade – Frederick Hill
198th Infantry Brigade – Geneva Park and Nantucket Beach
B. Operation Holly
On 24 Dec 1970 the 14th CAB was once again in support of “Operation Holly”, in which units provided aircraft to transport troops from the field to Da Nang for the Annual Bob Hope Christmas Show.
C. Lam Son 719
On 23 January 1971, the Battalion was notified two Assault Helicopter Companies and one Assault Support Helicopter Company would be redeployed in support of operation Lam Son 719.
On the morning of 29 January 1971, the men and ground support equipment of Headquarters 14th CAB, 71st AHC, 174th AHC, and the 132nd AHSC departed by convoy. All units deployed to Quang Tri, RVN, with the exception of the 132nd ASHC, they were under the operational control of the 159th Aviation Battalion, 101st Division at Hue/Phu Bai, RVN. Lam Son 719, incorporated the initial incursion into the Kingdom of Laos.
Some of the most intense anti-aircraft fire of the war was experienced during Lam Son 719. Later elements of the 116th AHC and 176th AHC supplemented the units at Quang Tri in order to make up for battle field losses.
From 1 Feb 1971 to 7 Feb 1971 the elements of the 14th CAB that were involved in Lam Son 719 also participated in Dewy Canyon II. A battalion forward base was set up at Khe Sahn. This facilitated better communications and flight following with forward aircraft.. On 8 Feb 1971 the 14th CAB participated in the initial insertion into Laos. The 174th AHC supported this combat assault into LZ Hotel (XD25344).
Combat Damage had caused availability of aircraft to decrease significantly. While flying support for Hill 30 in Laos, during Lam Son 719 on February 27 1971, the CH-47 flown by Cpt Seeger and CW2 Cook was forced down by NVA small arms fire damaging the Aircraft controls. All five crewmembers managed to safely exit the aircraft just after it crashed and were picked up by a UH-1 flying escort for the flight. The 132nd ASHC helicopter was one of ten supporting the surrounded South Vietnamese Paratroopers on Hill 30, despite continuous Mortar and small arms fire by two NVA regiments.
On 3 March, the 71st and 174th were in support of the 1st ARVN Division and the 1st Vietnamese Marine Division. Other aircraft in the combat assault were from the 101st Airborne Division's 158th AHB and the 101st AHB. During the initial insertion into LZ Lolo, seven aircraft were hit and five shot down. They were: one from the 71st and four from the 101st Abn Div. The combat assault was temporarily delayed due to intense enemy fire. On the second attempt to combat assault into LZ Lolo, assets from the 174th were utilized. Due to the chaotic conditions in the pickup zone, one 174th aircraft landed to the wrong smoke and was immediately shot down. All crewmembers were initially missing in action. Two Shark UH-1C's enroute to cover the downed aircraft were immediately shot in the engine, fuel and cargo areas by NVA .51 cal. machine guns, and made emergency landings at Aluoi. (See "1971 Photos" to see the Black and White NVA pictures of these two aircraft.) The crews from the two UH-1C's were recovered safely, off Aluoi.
The 4th of March, both the 71st and the 174th were involved with combat assaults, one for the 1st ARVN Division and one for the Vietnamese Marines. During this time the 116th, made up of aircraft and crews from the 116th and 176th departed Chu Lai for Quang Tri and arrived at 1210 hours. Lt Flemer, who had been listed as MIA as of the 4th was extracted with four ARVN’s and returned to Quang Tri.
On 5 March the 174th and 116th AHC’s inserted the 1st ARVN Division into LZ Sophia. The insertion met with fierce anti-aircraft fire. Three aircraft were shot down. Two crews were extracted. Lt Elliot and six members of his crew remained on the ground.
On 6 March, Cpt Bishop and SP4 Rhodes, shot down on the 3d of March, walked into a firebase and were extracted. The copilot, Lt Carl Flemer, who got separated from Bishop and Rhodes was rescued from an ARVN fire base the day before. SP4 Padilla, the gunner, died in the aircraft and his body was recovered. Rescue efforts continued for Lt Elliot and his crew.
On 7 March, Lt Elliot and six members of his crew were safely extracted. Although remaining on the ground for three days they sustained no injuries. Lt Elliot was promoted to Cpt via radio transmission by Maj. Spratt, while on the ground in Laos.
From the 18th until the 23rd of March, the Battalion was engaged in resupplying and finally the extraction of LZ Delta and LZ Delta 1. From the start to the finish enemy anti-aircraft fire, mortar fire, and small arms fire from around the LZ’s made resupplying almost impossible. The lack of aircraft availability was again supplemented by assets of the 116th and 176th , which arrived on the 20th at Quang Tri and departed on the 24th of March for Chu Lai. On the 24th of March, the 71st, 174th,and 132nd extracted LZ Hotel without incidents.
The 71st AHC on 28 March went into stand down for the return trip to Chu Lai. Headquarters and Headquarters Company stood down on 3 April and departed Quang Tri. The 132nd ASHC returned to Chu Lai on 4 April and the 174th AHC returned on 7 April.
D. Operation Quick Town 20B was a major relocation and insertion of combat forces of the 5th ARVN regiment. The 38th NVA regiment was attacked and aggressively pursued by the 5th ARVN Regiment during this operation. Elements from the 14th CAB provided air support for the 5th ARVN Regiment.
E. Operation Finny Hill was conducted in the southern portion of the AO. The 174th AHC provided resupply, visual reconnaissance, C&C and Combat Assaults for this operation. The 14th CAB’s current area of operation extends from Da Nang on the Northern border to, to Military Region II on the Southern border. The South China Sea borders the operational area to the East and the Kingdom of Laos borders it on the West. On special operations elements of the 14th CAB have worked in other areas of Military Region I .
A. Flight Companies
Currently the 14th CAB provides air support daily for the 11th, 196th and 198th Brigades of the 23rd Infantry Division. The type of missions flown are combat assaults, airmobile control, command and control, visual reconnaissance, resupply, psyops, medical evacuation and administrative flights. MACV and the 2nd ARVN Division, including the 4th,5th and 6th Regiments are supported by the 14th CAB. The following is a list of capabilities.
a. Combat Assaults
b. Command and Control
c. Aeromedical Evacuation
d. Emergency Ammunition Resupply
2. Logistical Movement
3. Armed Helicopter Operations
a. Landing Zone Preparation
b. Combat Assault Escort
c. Close Fire Support
4. Special Operations
a. LRRP Insertions and Extractions
b. Airmobile Raids
c. Flame Drop
d. Eagle Flight
e. Radio Relay
f. Chemical (CS-Insecticides)
g. Psyops (Loudspeakers-Leaflets)
h. Illumination (Flare-Firefly)
i. Search and Rescue
During the past year a typical days activities would consist of 43slick missions (UH-1H), flying a total of 250 flight hours. Normally 12 Gunships would be committed to fly 30-40 hours per day. The two CH-47 companies fly approximately 70 hours per day in support of artillery and firebase resupply.
B. Pathfinder Operations consist of airtraffic control, operation of LZ’s during Combat Assaults and Aircraft recovery. During Lam Son 719, the Pathfinders assisted the operations of combat assaults. They operated three airstrips and conducted recovery missions in the Kingdom of Laos and RVN. Upon returning from Lam Son 719, the Pathfinders resumed their normal duties of aircraft recovery, operation of Oasis Tower and Quang Gnai Tower, sling loads operations into LZ’s and PZ’s. The Pathfinders also participated in a program of providing instruction to the 2nd ARVN Division on Airmobile Operations and Aircraft Control.
As the 14th CAB redeploys to the United States the curtain draws close to it’s performance in the Vietnam Campaign. The 14th now has a history of providing aviation support to the free world forces in Vietnam for 7 years. In all areas of Vietnam from Nha Trang in the south to the DMZ in the North, the 14th CAB has played a leading role in the Free World Forces counter insurgent activities.
1. General Order Number 242, Headquarters, Third United States Army,Fort McPherson, Georgia 30330 dated 9 September 1962, as changed by General Orders Number 254, Headquarters, Third United States Army, Fort McPherson, Georgia 30330, dated 24 September 1964
2. History of the Fourteenth Aviation Battalion 3 September 1964-31 December 1964 –LTC John R Goodrich, page 2
3. See- Footnote2, organizational charts
4. Modification Table of Organization and Equipment Number 1-256GP01 dated 21 August 1970, Department of the Army Headquarters, United States Army, Pacific APO San Francisco 96558
5. General Orders Number 77 , Headquarters, 1st Aviation Brigade APO San Fransisco 96384, dated 6 January 1968.
1. Le Clerc, Dale R. Captain “ History of the fourteenth Aviation Battalion”, 3 Sept 64 – 31 Dec 71
2. History of the 71st Assault Helicopter Company, 71
3. History of the 116th Assault Helicopter Company, 23 September 71
4. History of the 174th Assault Helicopter Company, 15 Jan 71
5. History of the 176th Assault Helicopter Company, 15 Jan 71
6. History of the 132nd Assault Helicopter Company, Oct 67- May 71
7. History of the 178th Assault Support Helicopter Company, 30 Sept 71
8. “Operations Reports Lessons Learned”, 14th CAB, RVN, Period ending 30 April 71