Unit History (Jan 1969 through Dec 1969)

Unit History information for 1969 was contributed by Charles Pettyjohn, (Seahorse 17). If anyone has similar information concerning the 183rd please contact Jim McHaney.

Contents: Some of this information I have used for other sections of this Web site, see Roster 1969, Unit Stories, and Home Page.

Mission: States the mission of the 183rd and gives a break down on each companies man power allotments. A map of II Corps Tactical zone with the location of each company shown.

Chapter 1: Gives a quarterly summary of the activities the 183rd were involved in during 1969, this includes award summaries, and mission up-dates.

Chapter 2: Lists the Company commanders and the period of assignment.

Chapter 3: Provides the general operational statistics of the 183rd during 1969.

Chapter 4: A list of Honor Roll members of the 183rd. Note: this list should be expanded to include all members of the 183rd who have died in defense of their country. If any of you know where I can get these type of records please let me know.

THE O-1 BIRD DOG:
The Bird Dog was first built in 1950 by the Cessna Aircraft Company, as a reconnaissance plane for the U.S. Army. Between 1950 and 1964 3,398 airframes were built. Called the L-19 until 1962, it was then re-designated the 0-1. It saw extensive combat duty in Korea and Vietnam. The Bird Dog served with the U.S. Army, USAF, USMC and a host of 19 foreign countries, some of which are still flying the venerable Bird Dog today. Many people consider the Bird Dog the finest observation aircraft ever produced.

 THE LEGEND OF PEGASUS

"A WINGED STEED UNWEARYINGLY OF FLIGHT, SWEEPING THROUGH AIR SWIFT AS A GALE OF WIND."

FROM THE BLOOD OF THE DEAD GARDON, MEDUSA, SPRANG THE MARVELOUS HORSE PEGASUS. WONDERS ATTENDED HIM. HE WAS POETIC INSPIRATION, IN THAT, AT THE STRIKE OF HIS HOOF, THE SPRING, BELOVED OF POETS, HIPPORENE, ON HELICON, THE MOUNTAIN OF THE MUSES, GAVE FORTH.

IT WAS A GREAT YOUNG ADVENTURER, BELLEROPHON, MORE DEVINE THAN MORTAL, ENDOWED WITH THE WISDOM OF ATHENA, THE VIRGIN GODDESS, AND A GOLDEN BRIDLE WHICH SHE INDICATED WOULD CHARM THE STEED, WHO SOUGHT OUT AND TAMED THE GLORIOUS CREATURE. NOW, BELLEROPHON WAS LORD OF THE AIR. ON THE BACK OF PEGASUS LONG JOURNEYS MEANT NOTHING TO HIM. HIS ABILITIES WERE NOW UNLIMITED.

BELLEROPHON WAS ASKED TO SEEK OUT AND SLAY THE CHIMAERA, THE UNCONQUERABLE. SHE WAS A MOST SINGULAR PORTENT; A LION IN FRONT, A SERPENT BEHIND, A GOAT IN BETWEEN, SWIFT ON FOOT AND STRONG, WHOSE BREATH WAS FLAME UNQUENCHABLE. BUT FOR BELLEROPHON RIDING PEGASUS THERE WAS NO NEED TO COME ANYWHERE NEAR THE FLAMING MONSTER. HE SOARED UP OVER HERE AND SHOT HER WITH HIS ARROWS AT NO RISK TO HIMSELF. HE, INDEED, WAS SUCCESSFUL. HOWEVER, HIS MANY GREAT SUCCESSES LEAD HIM TO TRY TO TAKE HIS PLACE WITH THE IMMORTALS ON OLYMPUS. HE MOUNTED PEGASUS FOR THE VAIN JOURNEY, BUT THE HORSE WAS WISER. HE THREW HIS RIDER, WHO WANDERED ALONE, DEVOURING HIS SOUL AND AVOIDING THE PATHS OF MEN UNTIL HE DIED.

PEGASUS FOUND SHELTER IN THE GEAVENLY STALLS OF OLYMPUS WHERE THE STEEDS OF ZEUS WERE CARED FOR. OF THEM ALL, HE WAS THE FOREMOST; AS WAS PROVEN BY THE EXTRAORDINARY FACT THE POETS REPORT, THAT WHEN ZEUS WISHED TO USE HIS THUNDERBOLT, IT WAS PEGASUS WHO BROUGHT THE THUNDER AND LIGHTING TO HIM.

Extracted from several accounts of heroic deeds in Greek Mythology.

ANNUAL SUPPLEMENT

 183rd Aviation Company (Utility Airplane) January 1, 1969 - December 31, 1969

Commanded By: Willis L. Manley Major, Field Artillery

Prepared By: Allen B. Hodgson Captain, Infantry

TABLE OF CONTENTS

MISSION

Chapter 1: Summary of Activities, Describes the quarterly activities performed by the 183rd, Awards presented, and improvements made to the company area.

Chapter 2: Command and Control, Lists commanders and period of assignment from 1966 through 1969

Chapter 3: General Operational Statistics, Describes the type of Sorties flown and number of flying hours needed to accomplish each task

Chapter 4: Honor Roll, Lists 1969 Honor Roll pilots.

APPENDIX

1. Public Information Activities of Interest (See Unit Stories)

2. Company Personnel Roster (See Unit Stories, Roster 1969)

Aircraft of the 183rd Reconnaissance Airplane Company were located at five permanent locations to include Nha Trang, Dong Ba Thin, Phan Rang, Dalat, and Phan Thiet. During the first quarter of 1969 the 183rd RAC continued to support ground forces in the southeast section of the II Corps Tactical Zone. The supported units included Task Force South, C Company 75th Infantry (Rangers), Provisional Artillery, 5th Special forces (Recon), 101 Airborne Division and supporting units, and Cam Ranh Bay Support Command.

In March 1969 construction of a PLL building was completed as the first step in a more permanent and efficient motor section. Late in the first quarter work was initiated on a permanent wood constructed motor pool. The proposed structure would handle two 21/2 ton vehicles with an attached dispatch shack. Also proposed is a grease-inspection rack adjacent to the building.

Lieutenant Thomas R. Simmons was recommended for the Distinguished flying Cross for helping save a LRP team and helicopter crew from being overrun after they had been downed by a B-40 rocket on an LZ. Also recommended for the DFC during this quarter was Captain Jimmy N. Coffman for helping save ground troops in three separate contacts the night of 17 January. Captain Joseph Frander received an impact award of the DFC for his actions when he went to the assistance of a beleaguered outpost. In all, recommendations were submitted for 3 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 7 Bronze Stars, 1 Air Medal with "V" device, 12 Air Medals, 16 Army Commendation Medals.

The Unit experienced the tragic loss of three aviators and three aircraft during this period. On 24 February 1969, 1 Lt. Robert E. Holloway was seriously injured when his aircraft crashed during take-off at Dalat Camly airfield. On 3 April 1969, 1 Lt. Arthur G. Ecklund departed Phan Rang Air Base on a normal visual reconnaissance mission and did not return. An extensive search-and-rescue effort failed to find any trace of the aircraft or crew. Both pilot and observer are currently listed as missing in action. On 14 April 1969, 1 Lt. Victor M. Hodson was killed when his aircraft was shot down during an artillery adjustment mission about five miles northwest of Phan Thiet. Prior to the mishap at Dalat the Company had surpassed the 23,000 accident free hour mark.

Seahorse aircraft continued to support the II Corps visual reconnaissance effort during the second quarter. The support units remain the same as the first quarter with the exception of the First General Support Platoon who supported "C" Company, only when in the 183rd tactical flying area.

2nd Quarter

The second quarter brought about many changes in the company area. The motor pool, which was the main self-help project of this company, was completed. Other improvements include construction of a new ammunition bunker, painting the complete company area including the revetments, remodeling of the NCO barracks, construction of a new reenlistment Office, the building of a new storage shed, new roofs on 6 buildings, and a new communications section built in the existing Tech Supply building.

During the second quarter members of the 183rd received 6 Bronze Stars, 1 Air Medal with "V" device, 9 Air Medals, 10 Army Commendation Medals, and 1 Armed Forces Honor Medal.

Two Aviators attended the Navy Jungle Environmental Survival Training School in the Philippines and confirmed its value to the individual aviator. The new policy is for aviators to attend the survival school just prior to arriving in RVN.

During this quarter the O-1 units of the 223rd Aviation Battalion were redesigned Utility Airplane Companies.

3rd Quarter

During the 3rd quarter the mission of the 183rd Aviation company remained the same with one exception of the Second Flight Platoon received the mission of supporting "C" Company, 75th Infantry (Rangers) in the Phan Thiet area.

The company area-remodeling program was continued with new tile being placed on the mess hall floor, the perimeter bunkers were reinforced, additional lights were added to the perimeter, and a wash rack was built in the motor pool.

During this period the Third Platoon pilots were submitted for various awards to include Distinguished Flying Crosses for Captain Robert Hodes and WO1 Charles Pettyjohn for actions on 18 August 1969 in which an ARVN outpost was being overrun, WO1 Pettyjohn and a Marine observer were flying a VR mission over this area at the time. The observer was wounded when the aircraft was hit by automatic fire. WO1 Pettyjohn applied first aid while still flying, and returned to Phan Rang, at which time Captain Hodes launched his aircraft to cover the operation. He directed artillery and FAC air support on the enemy positions, dispersing the enemy force. On 19 July 1969, Captain Hodes, WO1 Pettyjohn, and Captain Kaminskis were submitted for the Army Commendation Medal with "V" device, for action at another MACV outpost. Captain Thomas R. Simmons received the Distinguished Flying Cross for his actions in preventing a LRP team and helicopter crew from being overrun. Captain Ernest Jennings was recommended for the DFC when he answered a call from a beleaguered ARVN Marine unit that was attempting to make a beach landing near Phan Rang. Captain Jennings used all available support to repel an enemy force of 150, thereby saving the friendly element from being annihilated.

During the third quarter there were 1 Distinguished Flying Cross, 14 Bronze Stars, 3 Army commendation Medals with "V", 28 Air Medals, and 12 Army Commendation Medals submitted. The 17th Aviation Group Maintenance Award was presented to the 183rd Aviation Company for achievement of high availability of maintenance for the quarter.

4th Quarter

The last quarter saw Seahorse performing the same missions for the same people at the same locations.

Right at the start of the last quarter Seahorse was called upon to perform a series of Search and Rescue missions as fellow aviators from sister units found themselves in a unfriendly situation.

October 26th saw the safety record shattered as Captain Quinnon Walker crashed at Dong Ba Thin Airfield while attempting to take off. The aircraft was destroyed with Captain Walker sustaining only slight injuries. He was back flying in one week.

On 30 November 1969 a squad of sappers entered the Seahorse company headquarters area and attempted to get to the aircraft. The damage sustained was three buildings slightly damaged, one latrine destroyed, and three individuals wounded by charges. The wounded personnel were Captain Hodgson, Specialist 5th Class Hoisington, and Specialist 4th Class Dorough. All were treated and returned to duty.

December 24th saw a change of command at Dong Ba Thin. Major Willis L. Manley replaced Major Edward L Harris as Commanding Officer of the 183rd Aviation company. Major Harris was transferred to the 17th Aviation Group for duty where Major Manley had come from.

During this period 1 Silver Star, 2 Bronze Stars with "V", 5 Bronze Stars, 14 Army Commendation medals, 3 Purple Hearts, and 18 Air Medals were submitted.

CHAPTER 2 COMMAND AND CONTROL

1. Major William L. Buck 13 Feb. 1966 to 13 Nov. 1966

2. Major Ralph L. Godwin 13 Nov. 1966 to 18 Jun. 1967

3. Major William R. Benoit 18 Jun. 1967 to 19 Dec. 1967

4. Major Robin G. Speiser Jr. 19 Dec. 1967 to 27 Aug. 1968

5. Major Bobby L. Owens 27 Aug. 1968 to 30 Jan. 1969

6. Major John D. Michael 30 Jan. 1969 to 26 Jun. 1969

7. Major Edward L. Harris 26 Jun. 1969 to 24 Dec. 1969

8. Major Willis L. Manley 24 Dec. 1969 to Jun. 1970

9. Major Alvin Solomon Jun. 1970 to Jun 1971

GENERAL OPERATIONAL STATISTICS

The unit's operational statistics have been collected from Unit Supply, Maintenance, Tech Supply, and Operations. Tech Supply has submitted over 6,000 requisitions. Maintenance reports that 264 periodic inspections have been performed and that the average aircraft availability rate has been 90%. More than 153,600 gallons of gasoline and 38,200 quarts of oil have been used by the unit's aircraft The wheeled vehicles of this unit have driven over 228,800 miles. The following items are complied from operations section and show a breakdown of sorties and hours flown from, 1 January 1969 to 31 December 1969.

 

 
Sorties
Hours
Visual Reconnaissance 7,615 10,211
Administrative Liaison 2,843 2,352
Artillery Adjustments 1,182 2,380
Escort Convoy 913 1,798
Combat Observation 481 982
Search and Rescue 132 237
Command and Control 456 911
Maintenance 447 266
Training 2,611 618
Radio Relay 260 440
Photo Recon 65 91
Forward Air Control 89 139
Naval Gun Fire 49 84
Combat Support Liaison 28 25
Total 17,171 20,534

 

CHAPTER 4
HONOR ROLL

First Lieutenant Victor M. Hodson, KIA April 1969, Victor Hodson was born on November 27th, 1942. He became a member of the Army while in Moses lake, Washington and attained the rand of 1st LT (02). On April 14, 1969 at the age of 26, Victor Hodson gave his life in the service of our country in South Vietnam, Binh Thuan Province.

You can find Victor Hodson honored on the Vietnam Memorial Wall on Panel 27W, Row 81. (Note: if you would like to pay your respects to Victor Hodson you can visit the Virtual Wall and leave a photo, voice recording, or a written tribute.)

First Lieutenant Arthur G. Ecklund, MIA April 1969, Arthur Ecklund was born May 5, 1943. He became a member of the Army while in Phoenix, Arizona and attained the rank of MAJ (04).

You can find Arthur Ecklund honored on the Vietnam Memorial Wall on Panel 27W, Row 6. (Note: if you would like to pay your respects to Arthur Ecklund you can visit the Virtual wall and leave a photo, voice recording, or a written tribute.)