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2017 Calendar, Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association (VHPA) - We Were Soldiers Once... And Young!

Item Number: 20080303001
Number of Pages
Digital Object Type
Physical Location
Box 03, Folder 03
Copyright Statement
This document is copyrighted
Item is Copyrighted - It is not available outside the VNCA building


  • 2017

General Note / OCR

Table of Contents Front Cover Photo - We Were Soldiers Once… And Young - VHPA Subscriber Bennie Koon took this photo about 3 April 1968 as his infantry battalion, the 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry, 2nd Brigade, 1st Air Cavalry Division gets ready to leave LZ STUD for their part in Operation PEGASUS (the relief of Khe Sanh). Bennie used a Ricoh 35 mm SLR plus a Gossen Pilot light meter. His wife mailed him rolls of 35 mm with a pre-paid mailer. When Bennie finished taking all the pictures, the roll went back to Georgia in the mailer for processing and hence delivery to his wife. Bennie was a 31B20, one of only two Field Radio Mechanics assigned to HHC/1/5 Cav to service all the battalion’s radios. His served in Vietnam from Oct. 1967 and Oct 1968.

January Firewater Mission Ron Richtsmeier with his 119th Assault Helicopter Company UH-1B gunship from the Crocodile Platoon armed with a USAF napalm bomb at Lane Army Heliport – early 1966 – This was the February photo in the 2007 Calendar, but is presented again in keeping with the “We Were Soldiers Once… And Young!” theme. Briefly while in Qui Nhon Ron, traded a USAF Master Sergeant a bottle of Scotch straight across for four canisters plus the igniters and the chemicals needed to turn JP4 into napalm, after learning that the canister would mount on the rocket pod rack. While the full story will be published in the VHPA Aviator, Ron concludes with “we learned that a partially filled napalm container dropped at 80 knots from a helicopter is not as impressive as full ones dropped by a jet at 250+ knots!” Lance Hopkins took the small photo in 1970 of a Crocodile UH-1C with an impressive paint job protected by Turtle Wax. Lance’s story and photos are the September photo in the 2010 Calendar.

February LZ Candy (again) 1st Air Cavalry Division started rebuilding LZ Candy on 25 Feb 1970 – VHPA Member Mike Egli took these photos from his B/228 ASHB CH-47 after leaving his load on the base. LZ Candy was located due north of Song Be city, in western Phuoc Long Province, III Corps, Vietnam. The small photo shows Jim Wastradowski of Company D, 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry on Candy in late March 1970. He wrote: “It was terribly easy to get as filthy as we look on one of these artillery bases. You sweat in 100 degree temps and the first chopter to land nearby would kick up the dry red dirt, need I say more. This was a former site for 175mm cannons. The red dust was about a foot thick and very powdery.”

March Movin’ On Preparing to evacuate a 1st Cav FSB somewhere in Phuoc Long Province – 1970. VHPA Member Mike Egli took this photo as these two B/228 ASHB 1 CAV CH-47As wait for their internal loads. #66-00087 is nearest the camera. It had three tours in Vietnam – two after several months of rehab in the States. The small photo shows #66-19056 from A/228 ASHB loading 1/8th Cav infantry.

April LZ Stud: Operation PEGSUS LZ Stud – April 1968. VHPA Subscriber Bennie Koon took this photo on 3 April as his infantry battalion (1/5th Cavalry) prepared to depart west toward Khe Sanh. Operation PEGASUS (1 – 14 April) reopened Route 9 from the coast to the border with Laos, relieved the North Vietnamese Army’s siege of Khe Sanh and positioned the entire 1st Air Cavalry Division for its push into the A Shau Valley.

May LZ Wharton: Operation DELAWARE LZ Wharton – May 1968. VHPA Subscriber Bennie Koon took this photo on 1 May as his infantry battalion (1/5th Cavalry) prepared for a combat assault from the base at LZ Wharton. Though Operation PEGASUS ended in mid-April, there were 1st Air Cavalry units continuing to clean up the Khe Sanh are while others participated in Operation DELAWARE – the famous Battle of the A Shau Valley. Not the radar unit on the right side of the photo ~ only Wharton had one during this period of time. The small photo shows a view of LZ Peanuts.

June Shawnee Scrapbook A tribute to the Piasecki CH-21C Workhorse/Shawnee. VHPA member Ross Russell provided the iconic photo in the center taken on 17 Jan 1964 by Bernie Quedens, the Operations Officer of the 120th Aviation Company, “The Deans” during the famous airmobile operation at Kien Hoa. We see crew chief Jack Eichmann in the top left photo. Six of Jack’s photos appear in this collage. Al Doucette and Al Laya also provided photos. The small color photo shows a CH-21 outside an I Corps Special Forces camp taken by VHPA member Ramon Williams.

July Dutchmasters Taking a Break B Troop, 7th Squadron, 1st Cavalry at Rach Soi – 11968. VHPA Subscriber Mike Treinen took this photo on the “Long Strip” at Rach Soi in Kien Giang Province in IV Corps. Roy Sudeck (a long time VHPA member, now deceased) without his shirt faces the camera next to an unknown person. Roy served in several units in Vietnam for many years. VHPA members Ben Bentley and Ed Thomas provided the cloth pocket patches ~ both were weapons platoon leaders in B Troop. Behind the AH-1G Cobra, we see two OH-6A LOHs (light observation helicopters) plus the UH-1Hs that transported the Air Cavalry Troop’s infantry platoon. Mike also provided the small photo of Roy starting the Cobra with Ben’s name on the side.

August Golf course/CPT. Hingston fatal crash, Bong Son 1-24-67/”In the office”/Beck’s bullet holes, Kon Tum Area/LZ X-Ray/1LT Brooks, early ‘66/Fuel blivets/Chinooks in the field/Staging Area A page from Jerry Brooks’ Scrapbook. VHPA Member Jerry Brooks serves with A Battery, 2nd Battalion, 20th Artillery, 1st Air Cavalry Division from April 1966 to April 1967 almost exclusively in II Corps. The battalion had three “letter” batteries: A, B, and C. Each was usually assigned one of the division’s three infantry brigades. Most everyone simply referred to them as “the ARA” ~ aerial rocket artillery or “Blue Max”. The small photo shows LTC Nelson Mahone (Battalion CO) on the right and MAJ Roger Bartholomew (C Battery CO) on the left soon after they arrived in Vietnam in 1965.

September Flying Tigers at Wunder Beach US Marine Corps CH-46s from Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 262 (HMM-262), also known as The Flying Tigers. VHPA Subscriber Bennie Koon took this photo at Wunder Beach (also known as Utah Beach) in late March 1968 while his unit, the 1/5th Cav, waited for the start of Operation PEGASUS. Wunder was a logistical base built after Tet-68 to support the increased Army and Marine operations planning for northern I Corps. Nearest the camera is bureau number 153400 that we believe survived the war. Furthest from camera is 154019. It was destroyed 11 July 1968. Both these helicopters appear to be on medivac stand-by for the medical aid station in the sand bagged bunker facilities on the left of the photo. The small photo shows another Tiger with some serious battle damage.

October Roger, Got Goofy Grape UH-1Hs from Charlie Company, 229th Aviation Battalion, 1st Air Cavalry Division – April 1969. VHPA Member Bert Outlaw took this picture from the right seat of Caulk 3 (the third Huey in the flight) some place between Tay Ninh and Phuoc Vinh. He says, “Like everyone who talked over the FM radios to the infantry when I didn’t want the enemy to know what we were saying (they listened as well) ~ instead of saying purple smoke, we’d use some slang words that maybe they wouldn’t know ~ goofy grape for example.” VHPA Member Rick Berry provided the small photos of a Alpha Company Huey landing troops.

November LZ Peanuts A CH-54A Sky Crane delivers a backhoe to LZ Peanuts – April 1968. VHPA Subscriber Bennie Koon took this photo in late April during a short visit to work on his infantry (1/5th Cavalry) battalion’s radios. A/1/77th Artillery and A/1/5th Cavalry manned the base. On the night of 4/5 May, North Vietnamese Army regulars and snappers breached the perimeter supported by artillery and mortars. During the battle, there was an emergency ammo resupply by helicopters plus the ARA “cleared up” the slopes before Puff arrived with illumination and more fire power. All six 105mm cannons, all their vehicles, the Fire Direction Center, and most of the artillery men’s private bunkers were destroyed. Eleven Americans died on Peanuts that night and at least 20 were medevaced the next morning. This photo is a small tribute to all those involved in this battle.

December LZ Uplift A UH-1B burns up at LZ Uplift – Nov 1967. VHPA Subscriber Bennie Koon took these photos. He wrote: “This gunship was a fully loaded with rockets and ammo when it landed to refuel. When it caught on fire the crew ran to a safe place. A lot of ammo cooked off and most of the rockets launched.” The small photo shows a gunship in flight.

Above: VHPA Potential Member Mike Jeffries provided these photos from his time with HML-167 at Marble Mountain ~ Da Nang. He left Vietnam in May, 1969. Below: Three CH-21C Shawnees from the 120th Aviation Company – April 1964. This photo was taken by Akihiko Okamura (a renowned Japanese free-lance photographer) and appeared in the 12 June 1964 issue of LIFE Magazine. VHPA member Ken Gehler is the pilot clearly visible in the left seat of the closest aircraft. Note that Ken and the doorgunners are wearing short sleeved uniforms! Akihiko took this photo from a Shawnee flown by VHPA member Bob Crissman. This was the April photo in the 1996 VHPA Calendar.

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Pub Credit Line
20080303001, Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association (VHPA) Collection, The Vietnam Center and Sam Johnson Vietnam Archive, Texas Tech University

Added: 18 Apr 2018 [Updated: 18 Apr 2018]