The Army Reporter

Back to Vietnam Index

52nd Avn. Supports Tropic Lightning

DUC CO, (25th INF-IO)---Sitting on the apron of this small Special Forces camp are many UH-1 "Huey" helicopters of the 52nd Aviation Battalion which are being used to support the 25th Infantry Divisionís 3rd Brigade.

The 52nd Battalionís choppers helilift units ranging from sections to a battalion of infantry or more.

On combat assaults, the infantry unit boards the choppers and heads for a landing zone (LZ) which has been "prepped" by Air Force strafing or bombing, artillery fire, or by armed "gun" helicopters.

The "prepping of an LZ is usually done by the Air Force jets or by 105mm howitzer fire from the "Bronco" Brigadeís 2nd Battalion, 9th Artillery. However, the proposed LZ might be out of artillery range and there might not be any aircraft available from the Air Force. In this case, the battalionís "gun ships" are called upon to prepare the zone for the infantry element.

Once the choppers set down and the troops are off-loaded, the "Hueys" head for home.

Meanwhile, the word "dustoff" might be heard on one of the radios. This means someone has been wounded and must be evacuated to the hospital at the brigadeís command post. This type of mission often means that the time taken in retrieving the wounded man could mean the difference between life and death.

Using a different type of helicopter, the CH-47 "Chinook," the 52nd has heli-lifted the 105mm howitzers of the "Mighty Ninth Artillery into inaccessible terrain on several occasions so that they could readily support the infantry elements on the operation.

Another mission the aviation battalion is called upon to do is aerial observation.

Using small, single-engine planes of the "Piper Cubí variety, the pilot and one passenger head for the wild blue yonder to see if they can spot any enemy troops or emplacements. Many times they do, and almost always these sightings are taken under fire by artillery, Air Force jets or by friendly troops on the ground. These small aircraft provide an "eye in the sky" for the brigade commander and the battalion commanders.

At the forward command post of Company A, 1st Battalion, 35th Infantry, there is now a landing zone.

When the helicopter pilots were given the job of re-supplying the forward company of the "Cacti Green" Battalion, they would have to take the supplies in by slinging them in nets and dropping them in, literally, from a height of 80 to 100 feet, because of the tall trees that covered the area. The answer was to cut down some of the trees.

The infantry company, along with some engineers from D Company, 65th Engineer Battalion, cut down trees and used explosives to blow up the tree stumps.

Then they built a "crib" out of logs to allow the helicopters to land. The landing is still a bit tricky.

Back to Vietnam Index

Cacti Home Page Main Index E-Mail Us