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The following “narrative description” accompanied the recommendation for an award of the Presidential Unit Citation for 2nd Squadron (Airmobile), 17th Cavalry. The S-3 section prepared the account using the operations logs filed daily at Squadron headquarters. The award recommendation was prepared at the direction of the Squadron Commander, LTC Robert Molinelli. This document was completed sometime in late December 1970 or early January 1971.
A few years back, I stumbled across a copy of the award recommendation in my personal papers. At the time I was corresponding with the B Troop historian at Fort Campbell to whom I sent a photocopy of the entire recommendation package.
The text is an interesting day-by day account of operations from April through early September of 1970. I cleaned up grammatical error and misspellings. However, I left the details as we wrote them 35 years ago. I hope you all enjoy the memories.
Terry Atkinson, CPT Armor,
The 2nd Squadron (Airmobile), 17th Cavalry, began Divisional operation Texas Star on 1 April by providing support to the ground elements of the three brigades, maintaining constant surveillance teams in the deep reconnaissance zones, and providing immediate reaction platoons for downed aircraft security. Company L (Ranger), 75th Infantry, maintained reconnaissance teams throughout Northern Military Region I. Invaluable intelligence information was gained for the Division from reconnaissance reports made by the 2nd Squadron (Airmobile), 17th Cavalry. Through tireless devotion to duty and intense desire to find and destroy the enemy, the troopers of the “Out Front” Squadron amassed an unequaled record of valor and success.
On 4 April, during the extraction of ranger team Mosquite, which had made contact with an enemy force on the Khe Sanh Plains, A Troop and the ranger team killed two NVA. Throughout the day the troopers harassed the enemy with pink teams (one AH-1G Cobra Gun Ship and one OH-6A Light Observation Helicopter) and killed 16 more NVA in five separate engagements.
5 April brought the death of the B Troop aero-scout platoon leader in the A Shau Valley during a visual reconnaissance of a downed Cobra gunship. B Troop responded by killing three NVA and engaging two 12.7-mm machine gun positions. C Troop inserted the aero-rifle platoon near Fire Support Base Ripcord to secure a downed aircraft. The platoon’s position was engaged by enemy mortars, wounding three of the infantrymen. The platoon evacuated their wounded and extracted the dead crewmen from the aircraft.
From 6 April to 10 April, the Squadron killed a total of 22 NVA, engaged and destroyed one 12.7 mm machine gun and captured six boxes of 122-mm mortar rounds, a diary and a number of documents. Five Squadron aircraft received hits from enemy ground fire. Two troopers were killed and four were wounded during the second five days of the operation.
On 11 April, after an unsuccessful night ambush attempt in the Khe Sanh Plateau area, the B Troop aero-rifle platoon conducted a reconnaissance in force operation which led to the discovery and capture of a complete 12.7-mm machine gun. In addition a wallet and diary were taken from an NVA body. From 12 April to 16 April, the determined men of the Squadron killed seven NVA. On 14 April, Cobra gunships from A Troop engaged and killed four NVA crossing a river west of the A Shau Valley. A team of five men in one UN-1H was inserted to locate the bodies resulting in 1 AK-47 rifle, 1 Russian-made radio, 5 protective masks, 100 pounds of rice, 5 rucksacks, and miscellaneous documents and maps captured.
On 17 April, the Squadron performed reconnaissance missions in the A Shau Valley and along the Laotian Salient. In separate actions during the day, ten Cavalry aircraft sustained damage from enemy ground fire. Seven aircraft returned to their base area. One was forced to land immediately and was later extracted, and two aircraft receiving major damage, crashed and burned. Fortunately, there were no fatalities, though eight crewmen were wounded. The Squadron continued operations throughout the day killing three NVA in two separate engagements.
The “Out Front” Squadron did not relent its attack against the enemy. The 18th of April resulted in another 12.7-mm machine gun destroyed by a pink team.
During the next week, from 19 April to 25 April, the Squadron inserted the aero-rifle platoons and D troop on ten occasions to stifle enemy aggression. Ranger teams operating in the Division reconnaissance zones made contact with three NVA elements. Pink teams continuously harassed the enemy in his logistical supply areas. The teams charged into the A Shau Valley day after day, locating enemy positions, equipment, and troops. Three 2 ½ ton trucks and four 12.7-mm machine guns were engaged and destroyed by Squadron cobra gunships and supporting gunships from the 4th Battalion (Aerial Rocket), 77th Artillery (Airmobile). A total of five enemy soldiers were killed during the week.
On 27 April, six NVA were observed and killed by pink teams operating near Khe Sanh. The A Troop aero-rifle platoon was inserted to reconnoiter the area to obtain an intelligence update. The landing zone came under intense enemy ground fire and two aircraft sustained hits during the insertion. The platoon returned fire, engaged the enemy and killed another NVA soldier. As the platoon was being extracted from a different landing zone, the aircraft again received enemy ground fire, but sustained no damage. The platoon had retrieved 10 rucksacks and 3 AK-47 rifles. Six kilometers to the south, a C Troop pink team observed, engaged, and killed two NVA.
The next day the Cavalrymen again returned to the Khe Sanh Plains to search out and destroy the enemy. Three NVA were sighted in a bunker complex. Their position compromised, the enemy fell under cobra gunship bombardment, resulting in three NVA killed and moderate damage to the bunker complex.
On 30 April, an OH-6A Light Observation Helicopter from A Troop received small arms fire near Khe Sanh Plain, which resulted in eight hits in the aircraft. The immediate area was engaged with cobra gunships with undetermined results. Near Fire Support Base Ripcord, an OH-6A from B Troop received six hits from 12.7-mm, 30-caliber, and AK-47 ground fire. The crippled ship returned to Camp Eagle and a second pink team was dispatched to the same area to pinpoint the hostile ground fire. As the OH-6A began its low-level search the enemy again opened fire and hit the aircraft an undetermined amount of times with small arms, 12.7-mm, and RPG fire. The aircraft burst into flames and crashed killing its 3 occupants. The B Troop aero-rifle platoon assaulted the area and extracted the crewmembers bodies. Another OH-6A covering the aero-rifle platoon on the ground received enemy ground fire and crashed into the Rao Trang River; all aboard escaped serious injury.
During the month of April, the “Out Front” troopers had killed 72 enemy soldiers while sustaining 7 troopers killed in action and 30 wounded in action.
On 1 May, an A Troop pink team observed one NVA while conducting a routine reconnaissance mission. The NVA soldier was killed by cobra gunships. Meanwhile B Troop was reacting to two downed aircraft; one 2 kilometers north of Hue, the other 20 kilometers southwest of Hue. Elements from the aero-rifle platoon secured both aircraft until they could be extracted. On 2 May, A Troop pink team received small arms fire five kilometers east of Fire Support Base Ripcord. Cobra gunships engaged the area and a sweep resulted in four NVA killed by helicopter.
During the next week the Squadron continued its relentless pursuit of the enemy. Flying through hostile small arms, 30 caliber, and 12.7-mm machine gun fire, the troopers of the “Out Front” Squadron continued to locate and destroy the enemy, killing 22 NVA between 3 May and 9 May.
Ranger team Washington gathered valuable intelligence information on 4 May when they conducted a daylight ambush on five NVA near Fire Support Base Nuts, and recovered three AK-47 rifles, two rucksacks, and various enemy documents. The same day A Troop destroyed a 12.7-mm machine gun and killed the enemy soldier manning the gun. That evening the 101st Aviation Group (Airmobile) suffered a mid-air collision during a night flare mission. The Cavalry was assigned the mission of locating the wreckage of the AH-1G and UH-1H, rescuing any survivors, and securing the debris for investigation purposes the following morning. The alert and persistent troopers spotted and secured the wreckage near Fire Support Base Kathyrn. There were no survivors and the dead were evacuated to Graves Registration, Phu Bai. A Troop was tasked to secure a downed CH-47 ten kilometers west of Camp Evans. The wreckage located and secured, the aero-rifle platoon evacuated the five dead crewmembers. Meanwhile an A Troop pink team observed four NVA in foxholes four kilometers southwest of Fire Support Base Ripcord. Cobra gunships riddled the area resulting in two enemy soldiers killed by helicopters.
On the 6th, A Troop observed bunkers three kilometers southeast of Fire Support Base Ripcord and engaged with cobra gunships killing four more enemy soldiers. Near Fire Support Base Kelly, an A Troop OH-6A received enemy small arms fire. The pilot returned fire with his mini-gun killing one NVA. At 1100 hours, the 158th Aviation Battalion (Airmobile) lost two UH-1H helicopters in a mid-air collision while evading hostile fire near Fire Support Base Henderson. The Cavalry again located the two crash sites, inserted the A Troop aero-rifle platoon, verified there were no survivors, and secured the areas in order to evacuate the dead. In a separate action, B Troop cobra gunships engaged and killed two enemy soldiers near Fire Support Base Satan.
On May 7th, A Troop observed engaged, and killed one enemy soldier four kilometers south of Fire Support Base Ripcord. The aero-rifle platoon secured a downed UH-1H helicopter near Fire Support Base Rakkasan. C Troop engaged and killed three NVA soldiers eight kilometers southwest of Hue. Ranger team Indiana sprung a daylight ambush on three NVA, killed one, and recovered documents revealing other planned enemy movement near Fire Support Base Nuts.
B Troop cobra gunships responded to the 220th Reconnaissance Aircraft Company’s sighting of enemy activity where Route 548 intersects the Laotian border. The cobras engaged and destroyed two 2-½ ton trucks and a 30-caliber machine gun, and killed three NVA. The B Troop aero-rifle platoon was deployed to secure a downed AH-1G on Fire Support Base Blaze, and on 9 May, the platoon secured a CH-47 helicopter, which was downed by enemy fire, crashed and burned two kilometers west of Hue. The platoon destroyed the sections of the aircraft and evacuated the wounded crewmen.
Near Fire Support Base Spear, Ranger team Kansas was engaged with fragmentation grenades and small arms fire by an unknown size enemy force between the hours of 0430 and 0630, 11 May. All six members of the team were killed before anyone could make a radio call for help. A B Troop OH-6A sent out to establish radio contact with the team discovered the bodies. The B Troop aero-rifle platoon was inserted to recover the bodies. A few hours later in the same area, an A Troop OH-6A received intense small arms fire from enemy ground forces, crashed and burned. Six NVA were killed by cobra gunships supporting the downed aircraft, and the crew was extracted with minor injuries. Two NVA were killed during an aerial reconnaissance mission for the 3rd Brigade west of Camp Evans after another A Troop OH-6Areceived moderate AK-47 fire. Two more NVA were killed during an air strike targeting the same area.
Due to inclement weather, the Cavalry saw little action until May 17th when A Troop secured a downed CH-47 helicopter that crashed and completely burned as a result of enemy action. There were no survivors at the crash site two kilometers west of LZ Nancy.
On 18 May, an OH-6A from A Troop received light small arms fire near Fire Support Base Spark. The area was engaged by cobra gunships resulting in two NVA killed. Later in the morning, a pink team observed 12 NVA in the Three Forks area, five kilometers west of Fire Support Base Kathryn. Cavalry gunships and Aerial Rocket Artillery raked the area and totaled six NVA killed. An OH-6A from B Troop ferrying infantrymen from the 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry, across the Song Bo River in the same area, was hit by intense small arms fire and crashed. The crew and passengers escaped with only minor injuries.
On 19 May, the B Troop aero-rifle platoon rappelled into a landing zone south of Fire Support Base O’Reilly to secure a downed UH-1H helicopter and locate the crew. The landing zone was under extremely heavy enemy ground fire. Three assaulting UH-1H helicopters were hit and two crewmen were wounded. The area was engaged with cobra gunships, but still the heavy volume of enemy fire prevailed. A Troop aero-rifle platoon and two platoons of D Troop were inserted to reinforce B Troop. It was determined that the NVA had established an ambush and had fired pin flares to draw the troopers into the kill zone. The B Troop platoon leader and two other soldiers were left in the first landing zone when enemy fire forced the “Out Front” troopers to select an alternate landing zone a hundred meters away to complete the assault. Though receiving moderate ground fire in the second landing zone, the insertion was completed without casualties. Five hours of fire and maneuver brought the main element to the three stranded troopers. There were no casualties during the ground move. The aircraft was finally located five days later seven kilometers southwest of Fire Support Base Ripcord.
After two days of inclement weather, the Squadron continued routine reconnaissance operations. On 21 May, south of Fire Support Base Tun Tavern, A Troop observed eight to ten NVA and engaged them with a pink team and Aerial Rocket Artillery. A total of eight NVA were killed. In the far western reconnaissance zone, an OH-6A was downed by enemy anti-aircraft fire near the intersection of Route 616 with the Laotian Border. The aircraft caught fire, crashed and exploded wounding one crewmember on board. A B Troop OH-6A was shot down by 12.7-mm machine gun fire near the A Shau airstrip. The B Troop Command and Control attempted to recover the downed aircrew but intensive ground fire and three hits forced the ship to return to Camp Eagle. The Squadron Commander arrived on station with another B Troop pink team and eight cobra gunships scrambled from throughout the Squadron. An estimated NVA company was attempting to maneuver towards the wounded pilot and observer, but was pinned down by intense and accurate fire from the gunships. The Squadron Commander landed near the downed crew and performed the extraction sustaining only two hits.
In the early afternoon while working with the 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry, a B Troop OH-6A was hit by enemy ground fire near Fire Support Base Ripcord and made a precautionary landing to assess damage. Inspection of damage revealed the aircraft non-flyable and a rigging crew was dropped into the landing zone. While departing the landing zone, the UH-1H extracting the OH-6A received intense ground fire. The OH-6A sustained more hits and burst into flames. The aircraft was jettisoned resulting in its total loss.
During the last few days of May and the early weeks of June, the Squadron supported the 54th ARVN Regiment during attacks on Fire Support Base Tun Tavern, with assets from two Troops. Command and Control aircraft directed air strikes, tube artillery, and Aerial Rocket Artillery gunships against enemy locations around the besieged firebase. The air cavalry troops were instrumental in destroying the enemy forces assaulting the ARVN stronghold.
From the first to the fourth of June, elements from the cavalry continued to operate in the Tun Tavern-Langly area. On 2 June, an estimated two NVA Battalions attempted to breach allied defenses with a large-scale ground attack against Fire Support Base Tun Tavern. Pink teams from B Troop directed aerial rocket artillery against the determined enemy. Forced to retreat, the NVA left 40 dead and 1 captured by the 54th ARVN Regiment. Arc Light, TAC Air, and heavy artillery strikes throughout the night completed the decimation of the enemy units. The next two days consisted of mopping up operations in the area and the shattered NVA units withdrew to reorganize their ranks and replace their losses. Throughout the week of heavy fighting the 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry, maintained continuous pink teams over the firebase. The troopers located enemy mortar, rocket, anti-aircraft, and troop positions around the firebase and directed air strikes and aerial rocket artillery onto the targets. More than two hundred NVA soldiers were killed during the defense of Fire Support Base Tun Tavern.
On 15 June, south of Khe Sanh, A Troop cobra gunships and OH-6As engaged an enemy force, killing 12. The aero-rifle platoon was inserted to confirm the bodies and gather intelligence material. The platoon was engaged by one NVA who was killed by organic weapons fire. Rucksacks and weapons were evacuated to Division headquarters. Two days later, in the same are, a large bunker complex was discovered and engaged with gunships and air strikes resulting in 12 NVA killed.
Returning to Khe Sanh on 18 June, A Troop reported more bunker complexes with recent activity. In seven separate engagements, 17 NVA were killed. Direct rocket hits on enemy bunkers caused three secondary explosions. On 19 June, pink teams from A and B Troop killed 12 more NVA in the area. As it became apparent that a large enemy force was operating in the area, D Troop, reinforced by the B Troop aero-rifle platoon, was inserted and discovered a 600-man hospital and bunker complex. Two UH-1H helicopters were needed to extract the captured equipment and documents.
On 20 June, A Troop again reconnoitered the area west of Fire Support Base Leatherneck and found a 200-bunker complex and a 400-bunker complex. Nine NVA were killed by cobra gunships. The next day the aero-rifle platoons from A Troop and B Troop, D Troop and the Hac Bao Company from the 1st ARVN Division assaulted the complexes. The ground elements discovered 52 tons of rice, 3 tons of salt, and 10 cases of miscellaneous foodstuffs. In addition, 19,500 AK-47 rifle rounds, 4,600 12.7-mm machine gun rounds, 310 RPG rounds, 40 75-mm recoilless rifle rounds, and 15 122-mm rockets were also discovered. Some material was evacuated by helicopter; the remainder was destroyed. The Hac Bao Company captured two NVA and killed four. However, numerous blood trails in the area indicated the enemy had suffered a higher number of casualties. Documents identified the units as elements of the 7th Battalion, 66th NVA Regiment. On 23 June, the entire Squadron moved north and staged out of Quang Tri to develop the situation to the maximum. Three aero-rifle platoons, D Troop, and the Hac Bao Company were inserted at different locations to reconnoiter an area suspected of being a regimental size base camp. The deserted base camp was soon discovered and numerous documents were captured, having been left in haste as the enemy fled across the Laotian border to escape the assaulting cavalry.
On 25 June, the operation was ended and all elements of the Squadron returned to Camp Eagle to continue normal operations. During the period of 17 to 25 June 69 NVA were killed and 2 were captured. Fifty-two tons of rice, three tons of salt, one crew served weapon, three individual weapons, nineteen thousand five hundred AK rifle rounds, four thousand six hundred 12.7-mm machine gun rounds, three hundred ten RPG rounds, forty 75-mm recoilless rifle rounds, and fifteen 122-mm rockets were evacuated or destroyed and two hundred eighty-three bunkers were destroyed.
The Squadron, refreshed by its accomplishments in the north, returned to the Division reconnaissance zones. On 2 July, B Troop engaged and captured a 12.7-mm machine gun near Fire Support Base Pike, in the southern reconnaissance zone. On 3 July, west of Khe Sanh, A Troop killed 14 NVA in six separate incidents. When the aero-rifle platoon was inserted to collect enemy equipment and intelligence data, they received RPG and small arms fire resulting in one trooper killed and five troopers and one Kit-Carson-scout wounded. Despite the heavy enemy fire, the platoon evacuated their casualties and the captured enemy equipment. On 4 July, the C Troop aero-rifle platoon was inserted west of Khe Sanh to conduct a ground reconnaissance. Five NVA bodies were found and the platoon engaged an enemy element in bunkers. The brief firefight routed the enemy from their hiding places and they disappeared into the jungle after a secondary explosion destroyed their position. The platoon evacuated 12 rucksacks, 170 AK rounds, 35 12.7-mm machine gun rounds, 5 60-mm mortar rounds, 1 full AK-47 magazine, and assorted documents. The documents revealed the possibility that the 9th Regiment, 304th NVA Division was attempting to infiltrate through western Quang Tri Province. In reaction to this intelligence information, the Squadron moved to Quang Tri on 5 July. Pink teams found evidence of large numbers of enemy personnel moving across the Laotian border into the Khe Sanh Plains. Ten NVA were killed that day in three separate contacts. Thirteen more NVA were killed on 6 July by ranger team Ferrari and Squadron cobra gunships.
On 7 July, 15 NVA were killed on the Khe Sanh Plains by pink teams conducting reconnaissance missions to locate evidence of large enemy concentrations. Near Fire Support Base Leatherneck, B Troop destroyed one 12.7-mm machine gun with gunships and D Troop captured another.
On 8 July, near Highway 9, southwest of Khe Sanh, an estimated two hundred fifty NVA were found in the open and engaged with cobra gunships, OH-6As, and Command and Control aircraft. Aerial rocket artillery support and air strikes were requested. D Troop was inserted to determine identification after 71 of the enemy soldiers were killed. While providing air support to D Troop, an A Troop AH-1G killed 11 NVA crossing a stream. D Troop, while gathering documents and equipment form the slain enemy soldiers came under intensive small arms, automatic weapons, and RPG fire. The troop returned organic weapons fire, maneuvered their M-60 Machine guns, and established fire superiority. After the contact was broken by the NVA element, D Troop advanced and collected additional equipment and documents, captured three NVA, and evacuated their prisoners and captured equipment. D Troop killed 24 NVA and captured valuable documents, including NVA maps of the entire Military Region I. During the extraction of D Troop an additional 33 NVA were killed. The troop lost six soldiers killed and five wounded.
During the ground action, Squadron pink teams continued to search out enemy personnel who were desperately trying to escape the cavalry aircraft. In the target-rich environment, even the OH-6As engaged small groups of enemy with mini-guns, grenades, and M16 rifle fire. Larger concentrations of enemy troops were engaged with cobra gunships. Time on station was reduced from two hours to only forty-five minutes due to the rapid expenditures of ammunition by light observation helicopters and cobra gunships. By early evening, 139 enemy dead lay on the plains of Khe Sanh. During the night, artillery and air strikes saturated the battle area. The next morning the Squadron returned to police up the bodies and equipment, some of which was extracted by OH-6A and UN-1H helicopters. An OH-6A observed a complete 12.7-mm machine gun and vectored cobra gunships firepower to the target. Returning to assess damage, the OH-6A observed that the gun had been destroyed, two NVA were killed, and one enemy wounded. The aircraft landed and extracted the prisoner, who later died from his wounds at the hospital. Two hours later another OH-6A observed an NVA standing in a clearing. The aircraft landed, captured the soldier, and flew him to Quang Tri for interrogation. The prisoner stated the four hundred NVA were killed and two hundred were wounded during the encounter with the cavalry. Reacting to intelligence received from the prisoner, cavalry gunships were launched throughout the night in an attempt to intercept NVA helicopters. A helicopter or light fixed-wing aircraft was sighted at 2300 hours and followed for 15 minutes on a southwestern heading crossing the Khe Sanh plains. The aircraft was not engaged because the Squadron could not get fire clearance. The days’ results were three NVA killed by helicopter, one NVA captured, and a sighting of enemy aircraft.
During the early morning of 10 July, while attempting to convince six NVA to surrender by hovering over them and restricting their escape with a mini-gun, the B Troop OH-6A was engaged by enemy sniper fire and hit ten times forcing the aircraft to land. The crew was not injured and was extracted by the Command and Control aircraft, which also received fire during the recovery. Throughout the day the cavalry continued searching the plains, utilizing both aerial and ground reconnaissance. Cobra gunships, aerial rocket artillery, and air strikes were employed against targets. The results were again commendable: twenty-four NVA killed. Four more NVA soldiers were captured and extracted by cavalry aircraft for interrogation.
On 11 July a pink team from A Troop observed four NVA and engaged them killing one. A subsequent sweep of the area by the 1st Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment (ARVN), revealed one 60-mm mortar intact, and 13 NVA killed by helicopter. As the ground element continued its sweep, the ARVNs killed five NVA hiding in the area. The allies were next directed to a cache site by the pink team on station where they discovered 30 more enemy bodies. The cache proved to be quite extensive. Items evacuated from the area during the day included: one 60-mm mortar, 1 B-40 rocket launcher, 309 Chinese grenades, 300 60-mm mortar rounds, 70 RPG rounds, 20 B-40 rocket boosters, 3 AK-47 rifles, 5,000 AK-47 rifle rounds, 20 M-16 magazines, 15 full AK-47 magazines, 248 empty AK-47 magazines, 185 pounds of rice, 100 pairs of slippers, 60 jungle hats, 30 protective masks, 20 pairs of boots, 1 flare gun, and numerous eating utensils. At the end of the day, 51 NVA had been killed, 30 of whom were credited to the Squadron.
The Squadron killed one NVA on 12 July, however, ground elements discovered on hundred enemy bodies killed by arc light strikes during the night. They also evacuated 200 Chinese grenades, 100 60-mm mortar rounds, 50 82-mm mortar rounds, 40 RPG rounds, 30 rucksacks, 1 B-40 rocket launcher, 1 60-mm mortar, and 1 AK-47 rifle. The ground element killed 3 NVA and found 14 more of the enemy dead who had previously been killed by helicopter.
One 13 July, enemy sightings had markedly decreased, although thirteen significant spot reports of enemy activity, including two ground-to-air firing incidents, were reported to Division by the Squadron. The NVA who had not been killed during the week had either escaped across the Laotian border or were in hiding. All desire to fight had been squelched by the massive firepower displayed by the” Out Front” Squadron.
The 14th of July marked the last day of the combined Squadron operation. Pink teams from the Squadron continued to reconnoiter the area in search of stragglers. Three enemy soldiers were killed that day, after which B and D Troops returned to Camp Eagle to continue normal operations.
The Squadron spent the following week conducting visual reconnaissance missions throughout the area of operations with emphasis placed in the area around Fire Support Base Ripcord, which was enduring daily rocket and mortar attacks and occasional ground probes. Pink teams from the Air cavalry were employed to locate and destroy enemy positions.
On 23 July, during the extraction of Fire Support Base Ripcord, elements from the Squadron performed reconnaissance and security missions around the firebase, locating and destroying troop concentrations, mortars, and rocket positions. During the following days the extraction, cavalry elements operated in the vicinity of the deserted firebase in an attempt to locate NVA units. The search ended on 9 August when an OH-6A from B Troop received fire from an NVA element. Further contacts established an enemy force of eight hundred in the area. In a four-hour period, three OH-6as sustained battle damage from ground fire. The enemy had disclosed his position before he had completed preparations for an offensive attack against ARVN-held Fire Support Base O’Reillly. The Squadron provided pink team support from all three air-cavalry troops to the O’Reilly area and sent a liaison officer to LZ Nancy for direct coordination with the 1st Infantry Division (ARVN) during the ensuing battle. During the first three days of fighting, B Troop provided continuous pink team security to the ground units and killed 26 NVA.
Three ARVN battalions from the 1st Regiment were inserted around the besieged firebase. With pink team support overhead marking targets and providing up to the minute intelligence information, the ARVN soldiers killed hundreds of enemy. Enemy resistance collapsed after four bloody weeks of fighting and the ARVN continued to operate in the area for another month before the firebase was closed on 7 October. There were 634 NVA bodies uncovered during the action, and 5 prisoners including a company commander were captured. An estimated seven hundred more NVA were killed or wounded and evacuated from the battlefield by their own units. With the aid of the air cavalry the Vietnamese Army prevented a major military and political defeat at Fire Support Base O’Reilly, allowing the triumphant ARVN soldiers to march off the fire base with banners waving, having destroyed or rendered ineffective five NVA battalions.
The Squadron continued its normal missions in addition to supporting Fire Support Base O’Reilly. It conducted aerial reconnaissance missions in the deep reconnaissance zones and ground reconnaissance operations, employing three aero-rifle platoons, D Troop, and the Hac Bao Company of the 1st ARVN Infantry Division, resulting in three destroyed and two captured 12.7-mm machine guns on 5 and 6 August. The Squadron searched throughout the rear areas of the NVA forces around Fire Support Base O’Reilly in an attempt to locate cache sites and disrupt enemy supply channels. Two sites were found and the contents either destroyed or evacuated. The first was discovered on 6 August when the Hac Bao Company and elements of D Troop were inserted west of Fire Support Base Ranger near the Da Krong River. The cache contained 600 pounds of C4 explosive, 500 NVA uniforms, 300 RPG rounds, 200 82-mm mortar rounds, 50 boxes of medical supplies, 36 cases of AK-47 rounds, 25 pounds of documents, and 15 rucksacks. On 16 August, the Hac Bao Company was inserted northeast of Fire Support Base Ranger and discovered the second cache consisting of 550 pounds of rice, 100 122-mm rockets, 60 NVA uniforms, 14 boxes of medical supplies and 7 cases of medical instruments.
The Squadron, after the completion of operation Texas Star on 5 September, began concentrating resources in the southern area of operations and in the Elephant Valley, along the northern boundary of the 1st Marine Division area of operations.
During the period from 1 April to 5 September 1970, the 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry was responsible for approximately one-third of the enemy killed by the 101st Airborne Division (Airmobile). The cavalrymen killed a total of 589 enemy soldiers. They captured 5 NVA prisoners. They captured 58 weapons and destroyed 20 weapons. The Squadron lost 36 killed and 117 wounded during the six-month period.
The cavalry Squadron conducted the majority of its missions beyond the range of supporting artillery against a well-disciplined and highly motivated North Vietnamese soldier. Aviators and crewmembers in the troops daily braved anti-aircraft fire to strike heavy blows to the enemy. Squadron ground forces rappelled into tree-covered, enemy-held landing zones, striking hard and fast, then departing the area before enemy elements could regroup and counter-attack. Personal courage, determination, and devotion to duty were virtues possessed by every man in the Squadron. These qualities repeatedly exemplified that the cavalry was not only the eyes of the Division, but also the teeth.
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