A Collection of Stories about the 161st AHC

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4th Inf Smashes VC Force
On Banks Of Song Ve River

26Aug1967-DUC PHO Pushing the routed Viet Cong forces to the banks of the Song Ve River, 4th Infantry Division's 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry massed three companies and the reconnaissance platoon to seal off enemy avenues of escape.

Tightening the cordon around the VC, the day-long battle left 65 enemy killed by body count.

The operation was prompted by information from a Hoi Chanh who stated that a large enemy unit was located about 19 miles northwest of here near the Cong Ve River.

Responding to the intelligence, the infantry men conducted combat assaults into the area to find and destroy the enemy.

Companies A and C and the recon platoon were the first to touch down. They deployed rapidly to encircle the enemy force.

In an effort to escape the grip of the infantrymen, the enemy began fleeing to the north.

Observation helicopters of the brigade's aviation section immediately engaged and killed six guerrillas and spotted what appeared to be the main force.

Flying over the area in the command and control ship, Lt. Col. Norman L. Tiller, battalion commander, informed the company commanders of the rapidly developing situation.

The ground troops were ordered to move north, pressing the fleeing enemy toward the Song Ve River.

Company A, 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry was combat assaulted to the west to block off the remaining route of escape.

With all paths of withdrawal blocked and the enemy contained, the three companies and the recon began closing in on the besieged enemy force.

Under the mounting pressure, many guerrillas attempted to escape to the river but were met by the devastating firepower of the gunships from the 174th, 161st, and 176th Aviation Companies.

The choppers maintained an effective screen around the cordon while the infantry advanced.

Pushing in from three directions through thick, heavily vegetated hedgerows interspersed with trenches, bunkers, and spider holes, all three companies engaged the divided enemy forces.

With their control shattered, the guerrillas took to their underground hideouts. Carefully searching each bunker and trench the infantrymen dislodged the tenacious force.

Contact was broken by late afternoon and on the battlefield lay 65 enemy killed, 20 weapons, and large amounts of ammunition.

Source: Army Reporter, dated August 1967, provided by Les Hines, 123rd Aviation Battalion Historian.

1st Avn Crew Saves 6 As Plane Burns

07Oct1967-QUI NHON A helicopter crew from the 1st Aviation Brigade's 161st Assault Helicopter Company and two passengers from the 39th Engineer Battalion rescued six persons from a burning aircraft near here recently.

Warrant Officer Marston B. Hose, aircraft commander, and WO Douglas A. Miller, pilot, were flying their helicopter to Tuy Hoa from Chu Lai on a mission for the engineers.

While they were approaching Qui Nhon for a fuel stop, the tower requested that they proceed west of the airfield and try to locate and give assistance to a med-evac chopper that had just reported trouble and was going in for a crash landing.

With only 46 gallons of fuel remaining in from the ship's 220 gallon tank, the chopper headed in the direction of the downed aircraft. It was found burning near the base of a mountain with six person lying on the ground close by.

Hose called the tower giving them the location of the burning ship and requested that an additional aircraft be sent to help due to the low amount of fuel in his chopper.

Landing in the area, Miller, PFC Clarke W. Wilson, crew chief, Sp4 Richard R. McBroom, gunner, and the two engineers ran to the injured men and pulled them away from the burning ship.

All were found to be alive but the two pilots were badly burned. Hose was just taking off with the two pilots when a Chinook landed to give a hand. With only nine gallons of fuel remaining, the rescue ship departed the area and landed at Qui Nhon where the injured pilots were taken to the hospital.

The Chinook brought the other injured men to Qui Nhon a short time later.

Source: Army Reporter, dated October 1967, provided by Les Hines, 123rd Aviation Battalion Historian.

161st Crew Saves 3 From civilian Cessna

CHU LAI Three civilians were rescued recently from their burning aircraft and rushed to a Marine hospital by a helicopter from the 161st Assault Support Helicopter Company [sic, should be 161st Assault Helicopter Company]

Warrant Officer Gerald L. Latini, WO Bruce A Ruks, PFC James M. Holt, and PFC Wayne A. Gruber were on a routine courier flight from Da Nang to Tam Ky when they received an emergency radio call to search for and aid a downed aircraft.

The aircraft, a twin-engine Cessna belonging to a civilian organization operation in Vietnam, was said to be down approximately two miles northeast of the Tam Ky airstrip.

Turning toward the downed ship, Latini and his crew spotted a billowing cloud of black smoke. When they arrived at the scene, they found the aircraft lying on its back, engulfed in flames. The men found the ship's pilot and two passengers, who had managed to climb out of the burning plane.

Latini, Gruber, and Holt attempted to get inside the ship to rescue the other four passengers but were forced back by the intense heat.

Latini and his gunner and crew chief helped the three survivors on board the chopper and took them to the hospital at the Ky Ha Marine Base.

Source: Army Reporter, dated October 1967, provided by Les Hines, 123rd Aviation Battalion Historian.

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