Recommendation for Unit Citation

 

HEADQUARTERS
223RD COMBAT SUPPORT AVIATION BATTALION
APO SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA 96238

1 February 1968

SUBJECT:  Recommendation for Award of Meritorious Unit commendation

THRU:             Commanding Officer
                        17th Aviation Group
                        APO US Forces 96240

TO:                  Commanding General
                        United States Army, Vietnam

1.   APO US Forces 96307In accordance with paragraph 203, AR 672-5-1, it is recommended that the Meritorious Unit Commendation be awarded to the 183rd Reconnaissance Airplane Company, 223rd Combat Support Aviation Battalion, for exceptional meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services during the period of operation against an armed enemy in the Republic of Vietnam from 1 July 1966 to 1 January 1968.

2.   On 17 January 1966 the 183rd Aviation Company was activated at Fort Hood, Texas by General Order 18, issued by Headquarters III Corps.  The unit was to consist of one fixed wing company, (24 O-1E aircraft), and one signal detachment; total strength of 33 officers, 1 warrant officer, and 103 enlisted personnel.  Assembly and training of personnel was a continuous process from 7 March until 14 May 1966.  On 10 May 1966, the equipment was loaded and shipped followed by the personnel, who sailed over on the USNS    General Gordon.  The ship departed the United States on 14 May 1966 and arrived at Vung Tau, Republic of Vietnam, on 7 June 1966, after 18 days on the Pacific.

3.  The primary mission of the 183rd Reconnaissance Airplane Company is to provide aerial visual reconnaissance support to the II Corps Tactical Zone of the Republic Of Vietnam.

4. The 183rd Reconnaissance Airplane Company was tailored and designed to fulfill A definite need.  Using what was considered an obsolete airplane it rapidly proved its worth.  In addition to providing aerial surveillance to the different sectors of II Corps, the company has provided direct support to a great majority of all major and minor combat operations conducted by Vietnamese and American troops in the tactical zone.   

5. Upon arrival in Vietnam, the 183rd was assigned to the 10th Combat Aviation Battalion which immediately attached the 2nd Platoon of the 74th Aviation Company to the unit.  At the same time the 143rd Signal Detachment was transferred to the 34th General Support Group.  Confronted with the immense task of training, providing orientation and qualification rides for all aviators, the men of the unit worded many long hard hours with very little rest.  Along with this came the necessary building of living quarters, working areas, and the establishment of a perimeter defense.  Despite the many problems, the unit was fully operational in a very short period of time and the platoons were deployed to their field locations on 15 July 1966.  the 10 filed locations represented about 35 percent of the total land mass of South Vietnam and is bounded on the north by I Corps, on the South by III Corps, on the east by the South China Sea and on the west by Laos and Cambodia.  The facilities and airfields at each location varied from hard surface runways to small dirt strips, form completely equipped control towers to no radio facilities, from modern fueling facilities to hand pump fuel from 55 gallon drums, and from field maintenance facilities to a crew chief and tool box to care for the aircraft.  Due to the diversity and immense distance between the sites, the company was continually faced with the problems of communications and supply.  However, due to the extremely high esprit de corps, enthusiasm, and resourcefulness of the entire company, the problems were rapidly overcome and the mission of visual reconnaissance was soon being accomplished in a super manner.  The platoons were assigned in direct support of each Sector to accomplish a visual surveillance program.  In ever case it was necessary to train aerial observers provided by the Vietnamese Army.  Along with the platoon training of Vietnamese observers, the company headquarters at Dong Ba Thin housed, fed, and trained 2 observers from each sector.  This was instrumental in establishing effective and efficient visual reconnaissance in the Vietnamese observer could readily give permission to destroy a target or verify it as friendly or enemy.  Extensive coordination and liaison was also required with Sector Advisory personnel to insure proper processing of reports turned in by aviators.  In a minimum amount of time the aviators in each province learned the area well and flew over areas at low level that had not been covered in years.  Countless numbers of trails, bridges, fortifications, hidden buildings, way stations, and Viet Cong agricultural areas were reported with follow up destructive action.  By September, the company had organized a system of reconnaissance which insured on hundred percent visual coverage of the area assigned to include coastal surveillance of 250 nautical miles of the South Chinas Sea coastline, and the border reconnaissance along the Laotian and Cambodian frontier.  The individual aviator was given maximum freedom and opportunity to develop the assigned areas according to his own methods.  In all operations in the different provinces the was of prime importance.  His knowledge of the terrain, possible landing zones, Resupply points, and Viet Cong activity played an instrumental part in the overall concept of the operation.  The pilots of the 183rd reconnaissance Airplane Company have received numerous letters of commendation from Sector officials and supported US ground commanders.  In spite of numerous hits from enemy ground fire, aviators wounded in the execution of their mission and the loss of three aviators throughout the period, the enthusiasm and aggressiveness. Imbedded in the individual aviator and support personnel was conspicuously evident in the performance of their mission.  Flying over treacherous Viet Cong infested territory often under adverse weather conditions, the aviators vigorously performed their visual reconnaissance mission, and soon denied the enemy the free reign of the land which they had enjoyed for so long.  Execution of the visual reconnaissance program has been conducted in a manner above and beyond the expected performance necessary to accomplish such a task and has firmly established the O-1 aircraft and the 183rd Reconnaissance Airplane Company as a vital element in the counterinsurgency effort in Vietnam.  As well as visual reconnaissance, the company performed a multitude of either missions such as: adjustment of naval gunfire, artillery adjustment, forward air control for Air Force tactical air, radio relay, convoy escort, command liaison, command and control, airborne Resupply, medical evacuation, and search and rescue.  The 183rd Reconnaissance Airplane Company has provided combat support for a great majority of all ground operations in the II Corps area.  As well as aerial observation, the aviators provided fire support, many times disrupting ambush sites and Viet Cong assaults with their wing-mounted 2.75 rockets and M-60 machine guns, or by directing artillery or fighter aircraft on the enemy.  Of particular note was the third platoon assigned to the 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division.  They have supported the Brigade for nearly tow years given direct support in all ground operations performed during this period.  Ground commanders, on many occasions, made the statement that they were completely dependent on the aviators of the 183rd Reconnaissance Airplane Company for the control and accomplishment of nearly all missions and considered them an integral part of the combat team.  One section of the second platoon located at Phan Rang received many laudatory comments, one in particular form the 35th Tactical fighter Wing Commander who said that his airbase was secure and had not been attacked only because of the close surveillance and dedication to duty of the 183rd aviators assigned to the airfield.  Another example of outstanding support rendered is the four aircraft assigned to the Americal Division at Chu Lai, with a primary mission of adjusting and registering artillery, in which the aviators have been credited with inflicting numerous casualties on the Viet Cong.

The success or failure of an aviation unit is dependent to a large extent on its ability to maintain its aircraft.  To enable the company to maintain the many diverse operations, the maintenance repair platoon has turned in an exemplary performance, of then working by vehicle lights during the hours of darkness to insure that the aircraft were mission ready.  Even though short of qualified personnel, they have maintained an average 93% aircraft availability rate over the past one and one half years as well as performing its primary mission in an outstanding manner.  The 183rd Reconnaissance Airplane Company has contributed materially to the war effort in the civic action program.  The company has been active in many ways, one of which is supporting and maintaining an orphanage located south of Dong Ba Thin at Ba Gnoi. The company has also received the name “candy bombers” because the pilots, while flying a mission, take time to fly over a school or a village and drop small bags of soap, toothbrushes, and candy to the children.  This type of action by the 183rd

6. Reconnaissance Airplane Company has produced excellent relations with the Vietnamese people and in so doing gained their confidence and respect.

7. In every respect the 183rd Reconnaissance Airplane Company has excelled.  It can be truly said that the unit has performed its mission above and beyond that normally expected.  This professional knowledge, outstanding leadership, and aggressive attitude has contributed immeasurably to the war effort in Vietnam and reflects great credit upon itself, Army aviation, and the United States Army.

 LESLIE H. GILBERT:  Lt. Col   CE   Commanding

 Major Accomplishments

  1. Operations participated in
  2. Operational Statistics
  3. Aircraft and Area disposition
  4. AWOL, Court-Martial, UCMJ

Venereal Disease Rate

  1. Proposed Citation

 

OPERATIONS PARTICIPATED IN

 

TIME PERIOD

OPERATION

Apr 67 – Jan 68

Nathan Hale in support of the 101st Airborne.

Jun 66 – Jul 66

Hawthorn at Dakto in support of the 101st Airborne.

Jun 66 – Jul 66

Beaureguard at Dakto in support of the 101st Airborne.

Jul 66 – Sep 66

John Paul Jones at Tuy Hoa in support of the 101st Airborne

Jul 66 – Sep 66

Hastings at Danang in support of the U.S. Marines.

Aug 66 – Oct 66

Seward I at Tuy Hoa in support of the 101st Airborne.

Sep 66 – Jan 67

Prairie at Hue Phu Bai in support of  the U.S. Marines. 

1 Oct 66 – 25 Oct 66

Paul Revere at Plaiku in support of the 3rd Brigade, 25th Infantry.

Oct 66 – Nov 66

Seward II at Tuy Hoa in support of the 101st and 4th Infantry.

Oct 66 - Dec 66

Geronimo at Tuy Hoa in support of the 101st Airborne.

Nov 66

Omega in support of the Vietnamese Army.

Dec 66

Paul Revere IV at Kontum in support of the 101st Airborne.

Dec 66 – Jan 67

Pickett at Kontum in support of the 101st Ariborne.

Dec 66 – Jan 67

Omega at Phu Nhon in support of the Special Forces.

Jan 67 – Feb 67

Farragut III at Phan Rang in support of the 101st.

Feb 67

Gatling at Baoloc in support of the101st Airborne.

Feb 67

Recondo School in support of the Special Forces in Nha Trang.

Jan 67 – Feb 67

White Horse I at Nha Trang in support of the 5/27 Artillery.

Apr 67 – Jan 68

Task Force Oregon at Chu Lai and Duc Pho in support of the 101st Airborne and 25th Infantry Division.

Nov 67 – Dec 67

Rose at Phan Rang in support of the 101st Ariborne

Sep 67 – Present

Market Time in support of the U.S. Navy’s costal surveillance program.

 PROPOSED CITATION

By direction of the secretary of the army the meritorious unit commendation is awarded to the 183rd reconnaissance airplane company, 223 combat support aviation battalion for exceptionally meritorious conduct in support of military operations in the Republic of Vietnam from 1 July 1966 to 1 February 1968.  The 183rd Reconnaissance Airplane Company continually performed it’s many missions of visual reconnaissance and direct combat support in a highly professional and competent manner.  Providing coverage for the II Corps tactical zone and a portion of I Corps, the unit rendered invaluable assistance to all concerned and in some areas was the determining factor in victory or defeat.  They have been directly responsible for achieving and maintaining the necessary Vietnamese support throughout their assigned area.  The devotion to duty, enthusiasm, and extremely high Esprit De Corps displayed by the personnel of the 183rd Reconnaissance Airplane Company was instrumental in achieving outstanding results from all missions even though they were accomplished under most adverse combat and environmental conditions.  The professional approach, positive attitude and untiring efforts of the personnel of this unit are in keeping with highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon themselves, their unit, and the United States Army.

 MAJOR ACCOMPLISHMENTS

The 183rd Reconnaissance Airplane Company was formed at Fort Hood, Texas and deployed to Vietnam in May 1966.  Training and deployment of the company to its 10 different sites was accomplished in an expedient and efficient manner despite the fact that it was the height of the monsoon season.

In July 1966, only two months after arriving in country, the unit had already begun to make the name “Sea Horse” known throughout Vietnam.  The 183rd Reconnaissance Airplane Company implemented a systematical visual reconnaissance program that insured on hundred percent coverage of the area assigned.  This included the 250 nautical miles of coastline and the border of Laos and Cambodia.  Sightings turned in daily by the aviators accounted for most all of the operations, artillery, and air strikes in the provinces.

In July 1966, a platoon was attached to the 101st Airborne Division.  During this commitment, the pilots performed a variety of missions from normal reconnaissance to command and control of an entire operation.  The O-1 aircraft began to take on a new prospective.  Rather than performing only visual reconnaissance, the 0-1 became a deadly weapon for small targets of opportunity. Using wing-mounted 2.75 inch rockets and m-60 machine guns, it accounted for numerous Viet Cong causalities, routing the enemy from ambush positions, and marking targets for helicopter gunship and fighter aircraft.  It became, in essence, and integral part of the combat team.

Throughout the entire period the 183rd RAC has maintained close surveillance over the road and highway network in the II corps area.  They have been instrumental in keeping the roads open to troop convoy traffic as well as civilian traffic.  In most all cases when the O-1 was overhead the vehicles and personnel remained free from enemy activity and on the few occasions when the Viet Cong did attack, they were dealt a severe blow by the aggressive pilot of the O-1 and the fire power available to them.  In all provinces which the 183rd Reconnaissance Airplane Company operates, convoy commanders have refused to travel the road until a “Sea Horse” pilot has verified the road to be clear.  This has proven once again the reliability and dependability which the supported commanders have in the pilots of the 183rd Reconnaissance Airplane Company.

The coastline extending from Tuy Hoa to Phan Thiet has been continually watched by the company and has remained open to all cargo and fishing boats.  The Viet Cong depend a great deal on food from the sea as well as a main supply route.  The 183rd Reconnaissance Airplane Company, working with the Navy swift boats, identified boats spotted by the pilots.  The Vietnamese who depend largely on the sea for food as well as a way to make money have given continual praise to the men of the 183rd Reconnaissance Airplane Company.

 

Since 1 July 1966 to 1 February 1968, the 183rd Reconnaissance Airplane Company has had:

            Zero (0), absent without leave.
           
            Zero (0), convictions by Special Courts-Martial.

            Four (4), punishments under Article 15, UCMJ.

            A Venereal disease rate of 1.5  percent

       

 OPERATIONAL STATISTICS

COMMANDING OFFICERS

 Major William L. Buck                         15 February 1966 to 13 November 1966

Major Ralph L. Godwin                                    13 November 1966 to 18 June 1967

Major William R. Benoit                                   18 June 1967 to 19 December 1967

Major Robin G. Speiser Jr.                               19 December 1967 to Present

MISSIONS, HOURS FLOWN, SORTIES

MISSION                                           SORTIES                               HOURS FLOWN

Visual Reconnaissance                         16,295                                     23,972

Photo Reconnaissance                          45                                            61

Forward Air Control                               226                                          228

Artillery Adjustment                              1,160                                       1,773

Escort Convoy                                       941                                          1,572

Combat Observation                              882                                          1,294

Search and Rescue                                110                                          190

Flare Drop                                             4                                              4

Psychological Warfare                             71                                            73

Training                                                334                                          306

Maintenance                                         590                                          405

Administrative Liaison                           2,366                                       1,885

Tactical Aeromedical Evacuation             10                                            9

Airborne Resupply                                 100                                          66

Airlanding Resupply                               316                                          403

Combat Support Liaison                         3,482                                       2,825

Command and Control                           733                                          613

Radio Relay                                          964                                          1,292

Total Sorties – 28,629

Total Hours – 37,671

 

AWARDS AND DECORATIONS                                       RECOMMENDED

Distinguished Service Cross                                                           1

Silver Star                                                                                    1

Legion of Merit                                                                              1

Distinguished Flying Cross                                                             15

Bronze Star                                                                                  39

Air Medal “V”                                                                                20

Air Medal                                                                                      168

Purple Heart                                                                                  12

Army Commendation                                                                      55