ANNUAL SUPPLEMENT HISTORY
OF THE
225th AVIATION COMPANY
(SURVEILLANCE AIRPLANE)
223D COMBAT SUPPORT AVIATION BATTALION
1st AVIATION BRIGADE

1 January 1969 - 31 December 1969



Prepared by:

Captain Jose A. Chapa
Unit Historical Officer



APPROVED BY:

WILLIAM C. PAGE JR.
MAJ, FA
Commanding


Phu Hiep Army Airfield,
Republic of Vietnam
APO San Francisco 96316


TABLE OF CONTENTS


CHAPTER I - HERALDRY

UNIT LINAGE AND HONORS

1. THE 225th AVIATION COMPANY (SURVEILLANCE AIRPLANE), PRESENTLY LOCATED AT PHU HIEP ARMY AIRFIELD, RVN, WAS ORIGINALLY CONSTITUTED IN THE REGULAR ARMY AS COMPANY "K", 34th QUARTERMASTER REGIMENT (TRUCK), ON 21 FEBRUARY 1941. IT WAS ACTIVATED 6 MARCH 1941, AT GODMAN FIELD, KENTUCKY.

2. REORGANIZED AND REDESIGNATED 10 JANUARY 1942 AS THE 843D QUARTERMASTER COMPANY (TRUCK).

3. REORGANIZED AND REDESIGNATED 19 SEPTEMBER 1942 AS THE 2015th QUARTERMASTER TRUCK COMPANY, AVIATION, AND REMAINED SO UNTIL ITS DEACTIVATION 17 JUNE 1946 ON LEYTE.

4. CONVERTED AND REDESIGNATED 1 AUGUST 1946 AS THE 2015TH TRANSPORTATION CORPS TRUCK COMPANY (AVIATION).

5. CONVERTED AND REDESIGNATED 1 JULY 1966 AS THE 225th AVIATION COMPANY.

6. ACTIVATED 15 JULY 1966 AT FORT LEWIS, WASHINGTON.

7. CAMPAIGN PARTICIPATION CREDIT: THE UNIT IS CREDITED WITH PARTICIPATION IN THE NEW GUINEA, THE LEYTE, AND THE LUZON CAMPAIGN DURING WORLD WAR II.

8. THE 225th AVIATION COMPANY HAS BEEN SERVING IN VIETNAM SINCE MAY 1967 AND IS SO FAR CREDITED WITH THE COUNTEROFFENSIVE, PHASE II CAMPAIGN.

9. DECORATION: PHILIPPINE PRESIDENTIAL UNIT CITATION, STREAMER EMBROIDERED 17 OCTOBER 1944 TO 4 JULY 1945.


PHANTOMHAWK HONOR ROLL

CPT David B. Peterson             KIA  21 March 1969
CPT Michael F. Grisafe            KIA  6 June 1969
SP4 Noel F. Josephs               KIA  6 June 1969
1LT Paul L. Graffe                KIA  3 October 1969
PFC Kenneth L. Cunningham         KIA  3 October 1969
CPT Mark A. Babson                MIA  14 October 1969
CP4 James T. Savage               MIA  14 October 1969


CHAPTER II - COMMAND AND CONTROL

NAME                              BRANCH     PERIOD OF ASSIGNMENT

1. Joseph L. Kulmayer       CPT   AT         15 Jul 66 - 14 Aug 66
2. Douglas L. Baker         1LT   SC         14 Aug 66 - 14 Sep 66
3. Paul W. Downey           MAJ   AT         14 Sep 66 - 1 Mar 67
4. John A. Koegler          MAJ   AT         1 Mar 67 - 5 Dec 67
5. Thomas E. Cote           MAJ   IN         5 Dec 67 - 1 Apr 68
6. William L. McDermott     MAJ   IN         1 Apr 68 - 31 Aug 68
7. David J. Amaral          MAJ   IN         31 Aug 68 - 23 Apr 69
8. Ronald N. Peterson       MAJ   IN         23 Apr 69 - 11 Oct 69
9. William C. Page Jr.      MAJ   FA         11 Oct 69 - Present

CHAPTER III - SUMMARY OF ACTIVITIES

JANUARY 1969:

"BEGINNING THE NEW YEAR"

1 January 1969: We greeted the new year with a sober outlook . . . .

The preceding week had been the climax of a long month of over indulgence. To top it off, we were privileged to extend our hospitality to the troops called "The Hawaii International Revue". They were great company and did a special show in the Officers Club on the eve of their departure.

New Year's Eve turned out to be a "health night" and January was greeted by 7 officers and civilians over soft drinks. The monsoon was waning and we really felt the need to dry out.

2 January 1969: The company was still buzzing and reliving MAJ Petesch's altitude record flight in Blackhawk 16.

After several days of planning and waiting for good weather, the attempt was made on 27 December 1968. Richard L. Ferguson, Field Representative for Grumman, accompanied the Blackhawk XO on the flight.

The old record was 37,000 feet in 23 minutes, 15 seconds, set at Fort Huachuca, Arizona.

The Blackhawk attempt saw a combat mission ready line aircraft climb through 37,000 feet in 22 minutes and 20 seconds, and end in 27 minutes even when #2 engine flamed out at 38,500 feet indicated.

The defog system was inoperative and naturally, the windows iced up during the unplanned descent. They managed to get #2 started at 15,000 feet and made a near zero-zero landing at Phu Hiep with an iced up Mohawk and a cold crew.

"Never again"! was MAJ Petesch's comment . . . . .

Not by coincidence, he completed his 1000th hour of Mohawk flying on the record flight and was presented the coveted Grumman 1000 hour plaque in a special ceremony.

9 January 1969: Suzy is going home! Bob "Suzy" Trowhill, Canadian Marconi Tech Rep for the ASN 64 Doppler system is returning shortly to Montreal. Don Andrews, Suzy's replacement arrived in RVN today.

25 January 1969: MAJ Richard Laritz relinquished his position as Operations Officer to MAJ Roger Warnshuis. MAJ Laritz returned to CONUS after an outstanding tour with the 225th, during which he earned a Distinguished Flying Cross for his intrepidity and actions during the tour.

28 January 1969: CPT Douglas V. Davis arrived at Phu Hiep to join us today. Since he is ranger qualified and blended with his sheets, he was quickly nick-named the "White Ranger". SP4 Larry Hanson was chosen as the 223d CSAB Soldier of the Month. He was promoted to SP5 and given a $25.00 US savings bond and allowed a 3 day in-country R & R.

There were 34 enlisted promotions during January. Promoted to Staff Sergeant were Jose Alatorre and Pierre Jacques. Promoted to Specialist Fifth Class were: Larry Hanson, John Robbins, Michael Anderson, Peter Intrieri, Robert Clausen, Norman McCauley, John Gallagher, Edward McGurk, Carl Worthy, Larry Conway, Teddy Price, Gary Morgan, and Joseph Thomas. Eight were promoted to Specialist Fourth Class and eleven to Private First Class.

31 January 1969: We looked forward to the Tet Offensive with gloomy anticipation. At times, things seemed quite dark . . . . .

However the last day of January was brighter for MAJ Warnshuis than for the rest of the Blackhawks.

Due to increased enemy activity in the mountains to the west of Phu Hiep, we provided Mohawk support to determine the extent of it.

On this dark night, MAJ Warnshuis coordinated with the 203d RAC for a night photo mission in the area. The 203d sent WO Roy Haddix, who was familiar with the area from his Birddog missions, to fly as observer with MAJ Warnshuis.

The mission was launched with 108 photo flares aboard. They flew around looking for indications of enemy in the area as well as investigating previous sensor and agent reports.

Finally, they decided they had something and rolled in to make a photo run. After he lined up, MAJ Warnshuis reached up to arm the flare pods and accidentally salvoed them, all 108 of them.

In addition to brightening up his night and earning the nick-name of "Flash", he managed to light up half of II Corps for a few seconds!

SUMMARY: During the month of January 1969, the pilots of the 225th Blackhawks flew 806.3 hours. High individual honors went to CPT John Swarthout with 58.7 hours.


FEBRUARY 1969:

"A NOW MISSION - NIGHT PHOTOS"

February 1969: The month of Valentines, George Washington's Birthday Sales, and the Vietnamese Lunar New Year (TET!). Quite a bit to look forward to, but we really can't see to far through the smokey haze that has settled over II Corps. It's a wonder that the ground hog could even see his shadow on the 2nd of February with all the fires burning from Pleiku to the III Corps border! Even so, the 225th Blackhawks take to the air everyday and night to fly their assigned missions.

1 February 1969: Just to start the month off right, we decided to let our Maintenance Officer, CPT "Camel" Schrantz, fly an IR mission. Camel and his observer blasted out of Phu Hiep at 1800 hours and returned at 2130 hours. The observer, SP4 Keutzer, knew where they were supposed to go, but swore they never got there. Thanks to the remarkable NAVAIDS in II Corps, they made it back safely, but Camel has been regulated to maintenance flights in the local area. We can't afford to have our Maintenance Officer getting lost on us.

2 February 1969: Ted Baranet rises bright and early with his plans and materials for the new patio cover in the officer's area. It takes a half a day to rouse those people not flying, or on duty, but he finally succeeds in getting MAJ "Ram Jet" Warnshuis to lead the pack in construction of the new edifice. Only upon completion of the engineering wonder was it realized that the new overhead cover more than succeeded in keeping all the smoke from the charcoal pit at eye level. Prior planning has paid off again!

3 February 1969: MAJ Amaral assembles all officers and NCO's in the mess hall to brief them of the upcoming CMMI. The event is expected to occur on the morning of 5 February, and the "Old Man" wants to pep his boys up in preparation for the event. "Keep up the steady work and don't peak out before the team gets here", is his advice. Everyone takes him at his word and immediately they begin a 36 hour per day program to get ready.

5 February 1969: Everyone has peaked out in getting prepared for the CMMI that never came. Oh well, at least we had the hell scared out of us and we are in better shape than we were before! Maybe they will totally pass up by this year and not have time to give us a CMMI.

7 February 1969: Still no CMMI, but the rumors of one sneaking upon us keep flowing. We just know it's going to be tomorrow! Everyone wants to get it over with, but we don't know when that will be! We just hope it happens before TET begins on 17 February, because we will probably be to busy to make a good showing after.

12 February 1969: We know that dark cloud hanging over Phu Hiep meant something when we crawled out this morning, but we really didn't envision that it meant the CMMI team was here. Now that it's happened there's nothing to do but drive on! Everyone grabs his inspector and leads him to his area of interest! No one is really concerned about a particular area except for supply and the motor pool. Of course our Motor Pool is gone on R&R, but that doesn't matter! The saving grace is that the CMI team has no inspector for supply! We would have max'd it anyway, but we're just as happy not to have to go through all the paperwork! The CMMI team leaves at the end of a half day of tedious inspecting and rewards our labors with an overall score of 87.6%. Not bad for a bunch of aviators!

13 February 1969: Our tried and true CW4 has consented to fly some photo missions for us, and has done a good job so far. Mr. Gabbard decided to expose an old buddy to the rigors of Mohawk flying and got SFC Denney all checked out on the Martin Baker Seat and Camera Systems used in the OV-1. This is quite a jump for SFC Denney, since he is the NCOIC of an Engineer Rock Crusher cruising around the Plie Trap Valley taking photos for the 4th Division. After a particularly good run, they notice these little red balls passing the cockpit. Not wanting to disturb the trajectory of these 12.5mm projectiles they evade to another valley further north and east. Now that they can breathe a little easier, they start plotting the position of the source of the harassment, but before they realize what's happening they notice some black puffs in front of the 00. Looks like Charlie doesn't like the Rock Crusher flying in a Mohawk and is trying to get his point across in the strongest possible way.

Following the second brush between Victor Charlie and the Rock Crusher, Ed decided it's not to safe to be in the air with him aboard. Consequently they scurried back to Phu Hiep and the relative safety of the club. Denney insisted he would never get into a Mohawk again and returned to his rock crusher again. Nothing but good could come from two such honorable oaths.

16 February 1969: Now all we have to do is worry about TET! It's supposed to start tomorrow, but there's no telling when Charlie's expected fireworks will begin.

18 February 1969: SP5 Larry Hanson left for Vung Tau today! He wants to return to Phu Hiep ASAP! Seems like Vung Tau was hit by rockets his first night there and he didn't particularly go for that. These 3 day in-country R&R's sure are nice.

21 February 1969: Four days since TET was supposed to have started, but no big sounds from Charlie. We've had a couple Alerts called, but nothing came of it. Maybe TET will pass us by just like the CMMI almost did. HA! HA!

22 February 1969: George Washington"s Birthday Sales at the PX! No reductions in prices, but it seems like a good day for a sale. The Gurmman Tech Rep, Dick Ferguson, and CW2 Bob Ashley decided it would be a good day to go shopping for a sale. The Marvelettes are due again tonight! Maybe we will have a little better show than last time.

23 February 1969: Another decent show last night by the Marvelettes. They are going to have to dress up their routine with a little more skin before we recommend them for that trip to Vegas!

25 February 1969: TET is supposed to end today, but we haven't seen any evidence of it starting, except that the hooch maids had a day off! Maybe Charlie has decided to hold off until next year's TET.

26 February 1969: No night photos for the past two nights! Ever since we started this two weeks ago we've been flying it almost every night until now. We will probably fly it again, but the two flare safety officers are enjoying this lull in the midnight flare pre-flighting.

28 February 1969: The last day of the month. TET still hasn't shown itself in the form of Charlie creating a fuss, but there's always next year. The time has passed quickly for most everyone, and we suffered no strong cases of "DEROS Blues". Maybe March will roar in like a lion, but we will have to wait until tomorrow for that.

It's only fitting that we should close the month with a party, and Bob Ashley's birthday appeared to be a good excuse. As midnight approached the lonesome strains of "You Dirty Old Egg Sucking Dog" could be heard drifting over the 225th Officers Area. Celebrating Bob Ashley's birthday with wine and song had to be the only fitting way to end the month.

SUMMARY: During the month of February the pilots of the 225th Blackhawks flew a total of 979.6 hours. High individual time was logged by CW2 Goodwin with 60.6 hours.


MARCH 1969:

"AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL"

8 March 1969: Men vs Machine: On a windswept morning in March the crew was in the briefing room for a SLAR mission. The unusual aspect of this mission was that it would last all day. Eight hours of flying with an intermediate stop for an inflight box lunch and fuel at Pleiku Air Force Base. During the spring TET offensive the beginning of round the clock surveillance of the II Corps border by the 225th SLAR Platoon was initiated. The big question was who would survive the longest, the Blackhawk pilots or the Blackhawk aircraft. This particular mission was scheduled for 9 days, but was so successful it was extended to a month and a half. The four SLAR aircraft totaled a record of 400 hours for the mission. The high pilot for the period was CPT John Swarthout, with a total of 104.3 hours. The 225th amassed a record of 1410.3 hours for the month of March. This is a long time to spend sitting in an ejection seat, just ask a SLAR pilot.

15 March 1969: King Cross Review - Australian Show at the EM Club.

One of the most enjoyable variety shows to date at the 225th EM Club starring "Chris" a cute Australian blond. The group held the attention of the members of the 225th for two hours of singing and dancing. Who is to say that blonds don't have more fun.

17 March 1969: "Blackhawk 00 - pop up target, your position bearing 020. Port bearing 350, starboard bearing 090. Closing 3 miles." Forward pressure on the stick and down we go. "Closing 1 mile", 200 knots, 500 feet on the radar altimeter. Level off. "On target. Contact". Camera on and then the blinding light of the photo flash cartridges. That was the way it was from 2330 hours to 0330 hours the next morning. 1LT Ted Baranet and his observer SP5 Michael F. Filhart successfully completed the last night photo mission for the 225th Aviation Company. The mission commenced in February and was flown for one month at the request of G-2 Air. The nightly ship would depart Phu Hiep at 0001 in the morning and arrive back at 0330 with its flare load expended. The mission was challenging as well as rewarding with the respect of self satisfaction. The only individual that was thoroughly overjoyed to hear about the cancellation of the mission was the Flare Safety Officer, who was responsible for getting up during the middle of the night and supervising the loading of flares.

21 March 1969: To say March came in like a lion and went out like a lamb for the 225th Blackhawks would be redundant. However the spirits of the men were riding high on the successful accomplishment of the night photo missions and the beginning of round the clock surveillance of the border with SLAR missions. The company also began its 20th month of accident free operation with over 15,000 total flying hours. The end of March was set with the predominate mood of sadness, for the company not only lost an airplane but, much worse, had lost a Blackhawk, Captain David Bruce Peterson.

CPT Peterson was the pilot of Blackhawk 09 on the morning of 21 March 1969, on a photographic mission in the Plie Trap Valley. He was informed that it would be a particularly hazardous mission due to the many reported enemy anti-aircraft and automatic weapons in the area and the low altitude that he was required to maintain. He nevertheless accepted the mission and made ready. Upon entering the target area, his aircraft came under intense enemy fire, receiving approximately 20 hits with 37mm fire and smaller caliber rounds. One of these rounds exploded in the cockpit directly between and below CPT Peterson's legs inflicting serious wounds. Although in extreme pain, and with flames and smoke engulfing the cockpit, he was able to expertly fly the aircraft out of danger of the enemy guns and at the same time give a "Mayday" call announcing their intentions and location. At the last possible moment, he ordered SP5 Norman N. McCauley, his observer, to eject from the aircraft. After McCauley had successfully cleared the aircraft, he also ejected. Upon reaching the ground, he directed rescue helicopters to his position. After seeing his observer lifted to safety by a UH-1 helicopter which came to his assistance. As the crew was attempting to bring him aboard, he apparently lost consciousness from his many wounds and fell back to the ground. Although he was immediately rescued by heroic actions on the part of the helicopter crew and First Aid was administered, he died enroute to the hospital. His selfless actions are credited with saving the life of his observer, for which he received the Distinguished Flying Cross posthumously.

26 March 1969: SP5 Norman N. McCauley, the observer who ejected from "Blackhawk 09", arrived back at Phu Hiep and the 225th. Following ejection and successful pickup, SP5 McCauley had been taken to the 71st Evacuation Hospital where he recovered from shrapnel wounds in his right arm.

On 26 March 1969, memorial services were held for CPT David B. Peterson at the Phu Hiep Army Airfield Memorial Chapel. At this time the friends and comrades of CPT Peterson paid tribute to a fine officer and an excellent Army aviator . . . and freedom is a gift from God that commands the highest price.

SUMMARY: Total hours flown for March: 1410.3 hours. High man was CPT John Swarthout with 104.3 hours.


APRIL 1969:

"THE MONTH OF THE AMARAL"

1 April 1969: As the day dawns in Phu Hiep we find our troops having breakfast in bed; being served by sweet young "Round- eyes". The troops are excited today because everyone has received drops and most of the people will be returning stateside sometime this afternoon. I wonder how long I could draw this out before you realize it's "APRIL FOOLS' DAY" (do they still celebrate that back in the WORLD?).

Actually there is very little time for fooling around, the AGI is due within the next two weeks. We know that our reputation as a unit is at stake. MAJ Amaral emphasizes that we must pace ourselves for the inspection. Work hard now, yet save that little bit of extra effort that will be needed just prior to the inspection.

4 April 1969: Preparation for the inspection continues as the war goes on. It's bad enough fighting the war; these inspections really make it rough. The hours are long, the work is hard, but the men respond.

5 April 1969: Intelligence reports continue to roll in telling of a new regiment infiltration into Phu Yen Province. As if we haven't got enough to worry about without new Charlies coming to visit.

6 April 1969: Activity in II Corps continues at a very low level. Charlie is reluctant to do battle. Our visual reconnaissance, in an effort to detect infiltration into Phu Yen Province, has produced very little intelligence. SLAR continues her vigil over Ben Ret in hopes of detecting an enemy armor threat, so far nothing significant.

In the company area tension mounts in anticipation of the AGI. It can't be much longer now.

12 April 1969: A TAQ-1A ground station is sent to Dalat today in support of Task Force South. This ground station becomes the fourth ground station from this unit located with the ground commander.

14 April 1969: Two fellow Blackhawks, CPT (Two Feathers) Thomas and CPT Winfield (Fat Albert) Williams, are scheduled to depart for the "WORLD" today. Imagine that the Ex-Administrative Officer and the Ex-Supply Officer ducking out before the AGI! Our two illustrious pilots nearly became the first Blackhawks to report to Cam Ranh Bay by way of Army Muel, however, in waning moments of their departure, MAJ Amaral weakened and allowed them the traditional Hawk flight to Cam Ranh.

The highlight of their departure was a beautiful accordion rendition of the "Caisson Song" played by the II Section Chief as only he can play it. It brought everyone to tears (is that it???).

16 April 1969: The company is awoken early - this is it, the AGI team will be here this morning at 0800. The company has an early breakfast and then it's right to work. It's time for that little extra effort. For no matter how well you prepare, there are still those finishing touches that must be made. Eight o'clock rolls around and no sign of the AGI team. Everyone is upset. Everyone is anxious to get it over with. It would be impossible to build the company to this pitch of readiness again. A few anxious calls are made. The team is coming but they'll be a little late. When they arrive they are nearly two hours late, but the inspection will be conducted. Quickly the inspectors are escorted to their respective areas and the various sections of the company are examined. All seems to be going well. There are a few minor deficiencies, but overall it looks as though we have passed the AGI. MAJ Amaral announces he is now short.

18 April 1969: The official word is out, "We passed the AGI". We achieved an overall rating of excellent. Congratulations to all. There will be much merriment in the clubs tonight.

19 April 1969: A new targeting system is initiated in the 4th Division AO, which incorporates the efforts of both O-1 and the OV-1 aircraft. The system should prove to be extremely successful in obtaining "Hard Copy" intelligence of enemy activity. It's about time we winged warriors coordinated a little better. "Way to go, Duck"!

So much progress in one day would be unbearable without a setback to retain some humility. Would you believe "The Great Phu Hiep Power Failure". Fore many moons our Mohawk company had enjoyed trouble free electrical power. Anybody want to buy an airconditioner cheap?

20 April 1969: Would you believe the water pump went out today. This is getting to be a hardship tour. MAJ Amaral rescinds his announcement about being short . . . he is not short enough.

23 April 1969: Today will mark a milestone in the history of the Blackhawks. It is a day of mixed and varied emotions. MAJ David Amaral is relinquishing his command and returning to CONUS.

Obviously he is anxious to return home to his wife and children. Yet once you have given so much of yourself to something you cannot walk away from it and not be sad. The Blackhawks came a long way under MAJ Amaral's direction. The improvements in the company area are almost too numerous to mention. We still laugh about how everyone lined up to take a shower in the new EM shower room. The mess hall hardly looks the same place - 100% improvement in appearance . . . . and what's more important, the food's better too. And don't forget the Crowley-Amaral Aerodrome, constructed to provide a little free time recreational activity. One of the most significant improvements was the addition of new runway lighting equipment which added to the safety of our crews.

While all this was being done we put forth our primary effort into providing intelligence for friendly units in II Corps. It was through MAJ Amaral's guidance that we established the surveillance conferences which enabled us and our requestors to develop a closer and better working rapport.

It was under MAJ Amaral's command that the Blackhawks established the direct support photo missions for several II Corps units, thereby enabling them to have the quickest response possible for gathering photographic intelligence information.

The change of command ceremony takes place at 1100 hours and the guidon and the green tabs are presented to MAJ Ronald N. Peterson, the new CO of the Blackhawks. MAJ Peterson joins the 225th after serving as S-3 at the 223d CSAB. With his background and experience, he promises to be a worthy replacement for MAJ Amaral.

At 1500 hours the company gathers on the ramp to pay final tribute to MAJ Amaral as he departs for Cam Ranh Bay and home. He is joined by CPT Steinbock, Ex-Maintenance Officer, who is also homeward bound after a highly successful tour.

"Anyone who can't dance is queer".
"Farewell MAJ Amaral - we salute you"!

At 1900 hours the power went out again - "Welcome to Phu Hiep MAJ Peterson." "What are you going to do now Company Commander"?

25 April 1969: By the looks of the intelligence reports Charlie will be building ten story bunkers. He'll have to accomplish this to accommodate all the VC/NVA infiltrating into Phu Yen Province. We wish: 1. That the reports are erroneous. 2. That if the reports are true, hopefully Charlie will find Phu Yen Province overcrowded and divert the infiltrators to Khan Hoa or Binh Dinh!

Are you cleared for rumors? Better sit down .....this may come as a shock. The 91st Evacuation Hospital is moving. I swear; no need to cry Papa Ranger. This has just got to be the worst setback to morale since "Chicken Man" went off the air. Well ..... what will life be like in fabulous Phu Hiep, fun capitol of the world without such fair damsels as the Prime Mover and the Front Loader?

28 April 1969: At 1300 hours this afternoon we will open our second G-2 Air conference. The main purpose of the conference is to show the S-2 Airs and G-2 Airs of units throughout II Corps how they can better utilize the Mohawk to collect the intelligence they require.

29 April 1969: The G-2 Air conference concludes and again extremely successful. Lines of communication are renewed and good rapport exists between ourselves and our requestors should make the job easier and the results better!

30 April 1969: Its out to the ramp again! This time it's CW2 Bob Ashly who is headed back to the world. No more will the walls of the Blackhawk Club ring with "Hang the Dirty Yankees from the Sour Apple Tree". Good luck Bob and thanks for a job well done in avionics. OK boys, pour him into the plane! Bob will set an altitude record, I've never seen anyone that high in an airplane.

"Hear this"! "Maj Page is no longer cherry"! Welcome to Vietnam and the war, sir. Blackhawk 15 now has a hole in her right wing. We almost made it through the month without a hit report! "Curse you Charlies"!

SUMMARY: During the month of April, the ;pilots of the 225th Blackhawks flew a total of 1001.0 hours. High pilot of the month was CPT Mike Grisafe with 81.6 hours.


MAY 1969:

"ANOTHER MONTH IN VIETNAM"

May, the fifth month of the Gregorian calendar, named after a Roman goddess. The month signifying the vigorous blooming time of human life. Sweet and fresh is the morning air of May.

1 May 1969: Webster's New World Dictionary is not far from wrong as the 225th awakens to a crystal clear May 1st. Hardly a breeze is stirring as the three regularly scheduled visual/photo ships taxi out for their departures. Today the "Dawn Patrol" is to support Task Force South, the 4th Inf Div, and a "roads patrol" assigned by G-2 Air, IFFV. "Winds calm runway 04 in use, altimeter 29.68", are the instructions received from the tower as the three heavy Mohawks waddle toward the exit ramp of the "Hawks Nest". 4000 pounds of JP4 cause the landing gear struts to compress and the 10 ply tires to bulge slightly but the taxing airplanes still, somehow, maintain their graceful stature as they slowly move down the taxi-way. Two crew chiefs, their jobs done, have climbed up on the revetment's wall to watch their birds depart. "They're so damned ugly, they're beautiful", remarks one as he watches the first ship begin its take off roll. A cone of misty vapor forms around the ends of the propellers as the Hamilton Standards push tons of air rearward and thrust the buff colored airplane down the runway. The long, spindly looking landing gear retracts fast, but smoothly, into the wheel wells. 140 knots airspeed is obtained fast and WO1 Robert "Charlie Brown" Jensen begins a left hand turn towards Pleiku. The month of May has now begun for the Blackhawks and all is well. But not for long.

1400 hours: CPT Stan Jones has radioed in to Operations that he has received ground fire south of Dalat. He isn't sure how many rounds struck home, but the fumes of hydraulic fluid are in the cockpit and he has lost all hydraulic pressure.

Emergency landing! Normally the OV-1 Mohawk is a nice, extremely controllable airplane that lands at 70 to 80 knots. That is to say, if all systems are "go". But without hydraulic pressure it becomes a horse of a different color. Landing speed goes up 40 knots, the landing gear comes down, reluctantly, under emergency air pressure, and such goodies as brakes, and nose wheel steering don't exist!

These were the factors facing CPT Joens as he calmly entered the traffic pattern at Tuy Hoa AFB and executed a perfect landing with no incidents. A pat on the back for you Stan. The first day of may ends, afterall, as it began, pleasant.

2 May 1969: CPT Joesph A. Beckham joins us today. A signal Corps officer, he is sure to be, the now "short", CPT Swarthout's replacement.

5 May 1969: Another new man in a key slot. CPT Doit L. Kippler has moved in from Vung Tau to become the unit's Service Platoon Leader and Maintenance Officer. Welcome aboard Doit!

10 May 1969: Right off the bat, our new Maintenance Officer is pulling his hair out! We have finally received word to change our Tech Supply from an ASL (Authorized Stockage List) to a PLL (Prescribed Load List). You have our sympathies CPT Kippler. Changing the paperwork on 1,516 items of spare parts is not a job anyone would relish.

11 May 1969: Once again, Charlie reminds us this day of our sole purpose here. Ben Het went "hot" again this morning and received 74 rounds of incoming. This time it was 85mm gun. CW2 Kevin Phillips spent a long day in support of the Ben Het camp on his scheduled visual/photo mission. "Beau Coup" infrared targets schedules for that area tonight. What makes that area any different from any other? In addition to tube artillery, the enemy also can, and does, employ 37mm radar controlled anti- aircraft guns. FLAK! Not a pleasant thought to an aviator.

14 May 1969: More and more ground fire emitting from the Ben Het area of the Plei Trap Valley. Today MAJ Bill Page and 2LT Duck Williams had to conduct a fancy little piece of evasive action to avert 5 airburst. While conducting a visual recon of a road network west of Ben Het, they encountered airburst approximately 500 feet below them and tracking with their flight path. "Duck " rolled into a tight, diving course reversal and headed for the trees," commented MAJ Page, "if we had been a few seconds longer seeing those burst we would have been in real trouble. The had us cold. By the time we pulled out, we were doing a good 280 knots and "de- deing" like Hades out of there"!

16 May 1969: Sailboats! Are you putting me on? That's right boys, the A&R men have done it again. Today the 225th Blackhawks became the proud owners of two each 12 foot Rainbow, two man sailboats. MAJ Page and CPT "Critter" Grisafe were the first to set sail for the distant horizon this PM. All in all it was successful expedition. They returned alive! Capsized four times and finally broke the tiller. (Rudder for all you fly boys). The 225th Yacht Club is off to a flying start!

21 May 1969: 1LT George R. Bruns signed in today. A 20 year old Mohawk driver! Reminiscents of WW II.

22 May 1969: Another "no hydraulics" landing this morning. 1LT Dan Hampton radioed in at 1045 hours that he had experienced hydraulic failure and was proceeding to Tuy Hoa Air Base. While enroute to the Air Base via 1/4 ton truck MAJ Peterson received a radio call from Operations; "the control tower just informed up that 1LT Hampton's gear collapsed as he turned off the runway"! Oh brother, there goes 23 months of accident free flying! We were all happy to hear that this was not the case for all that had happened was the aircraft had left the runway and buried in the sand. This gave the appearance from the tower that the landing gear had collapsed. Thanks to "Grumman Iron Works", the gear sustained no damage and Blackhawk 04 was repaired and flown home before the end of the day.

24 May 1969: A welcomed addition to the physical structure of our operations complex was begun today. Up until now it has been a true hassle to arrange for survival equipment for our combat missions. Not any longer for we will shortly have a personal equipment and survival gear issue room. The design of the new addition will allow each flying member of the organization to maintain and store his own individual equipment alleviating all problems in this area. (We hope!)

26 May 1969: Ben Het is our biggest concern again today. Over 40 rounds of artillery landed on that remote out post last night and Charlie probed at the perimeter until dawn. The Blackhawks had three birds in the air around Ben Het today and two more scheduled for "red haze" missions tonight.

27 - 30 May 1969: More of the same. Ben Het is really catching "Billy Hell". We are still supporting the other missions within II Corps, but our hearts are with the guys in Ben Het. 2LT Duck Williams received heavy anti-aircraft fire today but, once again, evasive action on his part prevented him from sustaining any damages. Our G-2 at IFFV feels that a major ground attack could come at anytime and has put us at maximum effort to try and locate any sizeable enemy ground force before they can make ready.

Another new pilot today. 1LT Mark A. Babson is fresh from school and ready to go.

31 May 1969: While the war rages on northwest of Pleiku the unit continues to improve its own positions. Now that all bunkers are concrete and brick, we have started this day to replace the sand bags around our quarters with self made brick. It just so happens that this tactical improvement also makes our company resemble the Holiday Inn!

SUMMARY: During the month of May 1969, the pilots of the 225th flew 1,128.8 hours. High individual flying time was logged by CPT Douglas V. Davis with 72.1 hours.


JUNE 1969:

"A MONTH OF MANY MIXED EMOTIONS"

June already and still Charlie pounds Ben Het. The first week the Blackhawks are on station in the Plei Trap day and night. "Hot spot on the scope, sir, calling Tollhouse now for an inflight report". "Break left! Air burst coming from the right"! "Roger Headhunter, I have your marking rounds, beginning my photo run now". These are the sounds over the sweaty earphones that first week of June 1969. Relentlessly, Charlie launches rocket after rocket at the small compliment of GI's and Montagnards in Ben Het. His ground forces, the smoking fortress giving every gram of assistance we can. There were 213 infrared targets, 12 SLAR flights, 12 visual photo missions. By the 5th of June, Charlie's supplies are apparently waning, for the rocket and artillery attacks slacken, going down to only 26 rounds on the 4th. It looks as though the big threat is over, but now is the time the OV-1 Mohawk is most valuable. If Charles is pulling out, which way, and with how many is he going.

6 June 1969: 0730, the majority of the unit is having a pleasant breakfast. The tension surrounding Ben Het is gone and it looks like we can settle down to the run of the mill operations: only the normally scheduled flights are searching for the enemy. "Sir, what time is your G-2 briefing"? "Now, about those fans for the mess hall...." No one suspects that something is amiss. The banana trees planted some eight months ago are already beginning to stir with the breeze coming off the South China Sea. Only a few ears even hear the phone in the Officers mess ring. A concerned voice replies: "Tell Major Peterson that "Critter" is over due". CPT Michael "Critter" Grisafe and his TO, SP4 Noel Josephs had departed for the Plei Trap at 0330 hours on a scheduled infrared mission and were due back no later than 0730. For thirteen hours that day eleven OV-1's search. Nothing. Charlie hasn't gone far though. CPT Joseph "Dirty Joe" Beckham picks up a heavy caliber round in his wing root taking him out of commission with smoke in the cockpit and a good size hole in the main spar. Scratch one more "B" model for awhile. Four more aircraft searched on the 7th, nothing. Two aircraft on the 8th. Nothing! For one week the Blackhawks look for their missing comrades with fading hope, then the word comes back. 2LT "Duck" Williams transmits over the Fox Mike, "Control, this is Blackhawk 04, I think I've found the bird and it doesn't look good".

Friday the 13th of June:
5200 feet up on a jungle covered, ragged mountain north of Ben Het, MAJ Peterson, the Company Commander, descends through the trees on a jungle penetrator. The Kaman Huskie is struggling in the thin air, giving all it has to maintain its hover. On the ground the CO finds what we all feared. Once again the Plei Trap Valley had cost us two experienced airmen, and more important, two good friends.

16 June 1969: Well, that fateful day has arisen! No longer will the "Blackhawks" journey into the black of the night on a visual recon to see what dangers lurk beside the still blue waters of the South China Sea. No longer will the suspense and thrill of it all pour through our bloodstreams. Gentlemen, you must brace yourselves and face reality with firm shoulders, a stiff upper lip and a stout heart. The 91st Evac Hospital is closed and they are all gone!!!

17 June 1969: The Blackhawks are pleased this fine day to receive our Group Commander, COL Nelson A. Mahone, for an overnight stay. MAJ William C. Page, the unit SIP, and COL Mahone flew an early evening mission in support of Task Force South in the mountains around Dalat. COL Mahone's comments? "You sure have to keep busy up there"! (You can say that again sir!)

18 June 1969: Four well earned promotions today.

20 June 1969: "Ram Jet" goes home. Today one of the more notable individuals to serve with the Blackhawks departed for the "Real World". MAJ Roger E. Warnshuis has served as the Surveillance Platoon Leader, Operations Officer, and Executive Officer during his one year assignment to the 225th. A second tour Mohawk driver, MAJ Warnshuis' experience and ability will be greatly missed.

25 June 1969: CPT Steven F. "Mary Marvel" Thomas receives his major's leaves. The is one big "Atta-Boy" for you Steve.

26 June 1969: Today marked the end of our search for a new name. "Phantomhawks" was the distinctive name, (submitted by SP4 Dennis R. Corss), voted by the unit's members to be the unit's nickname henceforth. The order from higher up to change, usually means you will change. Never fear though gentlemen, for it is a name that grows on you. Things could be much worse. What would we do if 1LT Bill "Moby" Beck's submitted name had been elected? "Carnivorous Chicken"????

SUMMARY: During the month of June 1969, the 225th pilots flew 1168.5 hours for an average of 46.7 hours per pilot. High individual flying time was chalked up by CW2 Phillips: 86.2 hours.


JULY 1969:

"THE MONTH OF THE NEW-BEE"

1 July 1969: The month has started off in typical fashion. CPT Ted Baranet had the first early morning infrared mission of the month in the Plei Trap Valley. The weather has started "down hill" in that area now and should start causing us problems in the near future. He had to abort 8 out of 19 targets because of the low-hanging clouds. The Doppler navigation system is good, but not THAT good. An infrared pilot's longevity is in direct proportion to his actions in poor visibility. Plowing around the valley floors at 1500 feet with 7000 foot mountains all around is "hairy" enough in the daytime, but at 0300 hours it will make an old man out of you fast. "Early morning infrared missions". A simple set of words that mean very little unless you have been the one sitting in that small little world of red lights and masses of gauges called an OV-1 cockpit. Plowing ahead at 200 knots, you strain forward in the Martin Baker seat peering out through the windscreen at that black mass of "terra firma" directly ahead of you. The terrain display indicator of the IR set tells you that mountain is still ten miles away. The Doppler navigation set reads out ""right on course". Your radar altimeter is setting steady on 1500 foot terrain clearance, yet all these man-made electronic nightmares fail to convince that "sixth sense" in you that you are not going to "buy the farm" on that S.O.B. Larger and larger the black silhouette grows, almost filling the whole windshield now, yet the "electronic gadgets" surrounding you say "don't stop now, only 3 kilometers left on this run". The urge to "suck back" on the stick is so overwhelming you can hardly control it. "Don't sweat it," you tell yourself. After all, you planned for over two hours on this mission! Yet, those contour lines and elevation markers on that flat map didn't begin to give any indication of just how big that Baby really is. The cool early morning air is flowing at "max" through the free air vent, still a trickle of perspiration breaks loose from your helmeted forehead and channels down the furrows to the bridge of your nose. "End of run" your unwary observer calmly states. He's been so busy on the scope that he hasn't even noticed the "big black thing" now engulfing the windshield! Mil power and back pressure on the controls. How good it feels to have that little tug of G-forces on the seat of your pants, telling you that those 1100 horsepower turbines are taking you up, up to that ever so nice "safe" altitude. It's over! That got target number 3 out of the way. Only fourteen more to go!

CW2 Ernie Serna checked-in today. A "second tour" man with more than a little flying time. Good people we've got, but lately all of our replacements have been straight out of school. Experience we are a little short of.

3 July 1969: A new mission! The unit was tasked today to supply one photographic bird in support of MACV in Quang Duc Province. The mission calls for one aircraft and crew to report to Gia Nhia airstrip every other day and receive missions direct from S-2, Quang Duc MACV Advisory Team. "Gia Nhia! You mean that little red postage stamp on top of a mountain?!" That's right boys, so brush up on those max performance landings. Actually, this is quite a break when one thinks of the French bread and onion soup for lunch and all those "bare bosomed" Montagnards running all over the place. This is in addition to the fact that the MACV teams and the Special Forces are our most appreciative customers.

5 July 1969: Congratulations to SSG Peter J. Conner! SSG Bonner received his warrant to WO1 on this date.

A much needed airframe electrician joined our ranks today. SSG Joesph Richardson brings with him "beau coup" Mohawk experience. Maybe now SP5 Anderson can get his "trouble making" wheels warning light fixed on "00".

6 July 1969: Word came down today that BG Allen M. Burdett, the 1st Aviation Brigade Commanding General, will be with us on the 9th. It will be, unfortunately, a short two hour visit so we've got to try and condense ten hours of discussion down to 120 minutes. Shouldn't be any trouble for MAJ Peterson. Just don't let the II Section say anything.

8 July 1969: Two true personalities of the 225th made their "freedom flight" for the world today. CPT John Swarthout and MAJ (JG) Steve Thomas departed the Blackhawk Ramp at 1330. CPT Swarthout, originator of the famous "is that it?" by-line, completes his second tour and will be missed on the avionics maintenance line. We promise you John, we will complete the "Swarthout Palace" Avionics Shop before the next full moon. Long will the boos and hisses echo across the volleyball court as we will always recall Steve "The Golden Ram" Thomas and his infamous "175 shots".

The smiles and joking atmosphere of the departure were turned to sobriety and deep thought as we paid our last respects to CPT Mike Grisafe and SP4 Noel Joesphs at a memorial service conducted in the Airfield Chapel on this date.

9 July 1969: Big Day. General Burdett's visit went off like clockwork and "The Boss" seemed more than pleased. We are a proud bunch, General, and we are happy (in more ways than one) that you were pleased.

Our official recognition as the "Phantomhawks" was approved today. The big question in everyone's mind is how our lineage could go back to the 34th Quartermaster Regiment (Truck)? The wonders of the "Army Way" never cease to amaze us.

12 July 1969: 1LT Mark D. Lawrence arrived today, fresh out of school.

15 July 1969: Organization Day! The CO has declared the day a unit holiday and only essential people must report for duty. The big feed is not scheduled for until 1500 hours, but there is plenty of free beer and soda to carry one through the heat of the day. The volleyball tournament is the big attraction with the "Flight Line Maintenance" taking the final honors. All shared in the laughs as the NCO's challenged the officers to a tug-o-war. Results? Everybody got soaked. LTC Cooper, Battalion Commander, graced us with his fine company the whole day. By the way, what young company commander decided the wind was right for a sailing excursion and invited his battalion commander for a brisk voyage over the briny deep? Two hours, one busted sail, and one ruined wrist watch later .... All in all, though, the day was a welcomed pleasure by one and all.

Another new face. SFC William R. Tart moved in bag-and-baggage to take over the 225th Mess Hall. Welcome aboard SFC Tart!

16 July 1969: Promotions galore!

18 July 1969: Congratulations to CW2 Paul L. Graffe. His direct commission to First Lieutenant came in today. Party time!

24 - 29 July 1969: With all the new people coming in you can't hardly go on a mission without coming home and finding a "New- Bee". The unit is now the fattest it's ever been on aviators and we welcome them all.

SUMMARY: During the month of July 1969, the 225th pilots flew 971.0 hours for an average of 38.8 hours per pilot, high individual flying time was chalked up by CW3 Gerald R. Randall: 71.8 hours.


AUGUST 1969:

"THE MONTH OF THE BIG C"

The month of August, 1969, was in full swing with the departure from Phu Hiep by Phantomhawk 12 piloted by LT Mark Babson. His departure time - 0123 hours, 1 August 1969. All in all, the Phantomhawks would attempt 3,185 visual, photo, SLAR, and infrared targets.

As the month progressed, high winds lashed our peaceful little complex. Early morning missions were aborted on the 3rd. By midnight though, three infrared and one SLAR mission were on their way.

CW2 Harold W. Nolan arrives on 5 August, along with a courtesy CMMI team from 1st Aviation Brigade. As expected, the Motor Pool requires special attention.

Intelligence reports indicated Charlie may launch a ground attack against Phu Hiep. As the month drives on, more messages arrive about pending attacks. On the 7th at 2100 hours, light contact was made west of the outer perimeter.

On 8 August, CPT (Dougie Do Right) Davis returned from skating classes at the E&E school. Our alert status increased to grey- yellow.

CW2 Gerald "Randy" Randall is no longer the senior W-2 in the unit. As of 1300 hours, 10 August 1969, he is the junior CW3. Congratulations, CW3 Randall.

The 11th working day was started by CW2 Yoha, who departed in Phantomhawk 12 at 0415 and returned at 0720 hours. At 0800 hours Conversion Day started. All Military Payment Certificates will be collected and exchanged for new. All gates are closed, no one leaves or enters the compound. The mail is picked up at Tuy Hoa Airbase by MAJ Peterson in Phantomhawk 00.

The long counting of money continues through the day. By 1930 hours, all money is in. CPT Ted Baranet, and CW2's Sernanad Yoha drive to 13th Finance with over $36,000.00 in old MPC. The money is being recounted. What was that "Incoming!?" Yes. The Korean Compound is getting hit. Everyone goes outside to see. Suddenly rounds begin to fall on the company area. The basketball court, outside the CO's office, the mail room, the model airplane strip, and on to the 268th Battalion area. So fast, so quick, there is no pandemonium. Casualty check - we have 3 WIA, one, SP5 Steen, is seriously wounded in the abdomen. He'll be med-evaced home later. In the meantime, Phantomhawk 12, piloted by CPT Steve "Stevie Wonder" Hammons diverts to Phu Cat. Red alert troops are deployed to fighting positions, but thank God there is no ground assault. By 0200 hours on the 12th, all is slowly returning to normal. Phantomhawk 11 departs at 0230 hours, piloted by CPT Jose "El Cid" Chapa, and Phantomhawk 12 returns at 0330. Back to normal. The three at finance return at 0500 hours with the new money. Major Page returns from an extended three day leave (all right).

The month drives on. On the 16th, Observation Post 11 engaged enemy gunners just outside the perimeter. No friendly casualties, enemy unknown. The alert status remains white, but not without reservation.

On the 18th of August at 1100, "Big Bertha", the unit generator threw a fan blade through the radiator. Twelve hours later, after makeshift repairs, she's running again.

During the month, nine men received promotion to Specialist Fifth Class.

During the month, there was a vicious campaign by some Rag NCO's to discredit the officers over their volley-ball playing ability. Truth, justice, and the American Way prevailed. The officers won - they played dirty.


SEPTEMBER 1969:

"THE CALM BEFORE THE STORM"

The month of September brought bad weather, but no VC to Phu Hiep and the 225th. The VC/NVA ignored Phu Hiep once again in favor of more scenic areas for their activities.

On the third day of September, severe weather throughout II Corps caused the cancellation of missions of aviation units of all kinds. The 225th had her problems also. Three early evening Red Haze missions had to be cancelled.

On the fifth of September, LTC Robert G. Cooper, 223d Battalion Commander, arrived for a visit with the Phantom Hawks. LTC Cooper visited all sections of the company and remained with us overnight.

The twelfth day of the month brought more of the famous Phu Hiep weather upon us. At 1800 hours, CPT Mark "Rabbit" Lawrence was forced to recover at Tuy Hoa Air Force Base because of the weather.

September fifteenth was a red letter day for one officer in the company. George "Junior" Burns made captain on this day. He is now the youngest captain in the 225th! Could he possibly be the youngest Captain in Vietnam?

The sixteenth was a busy day for CW4 Ed "Safety Six" Gabbard and Captain Doug "White Ranger" Davis. They spent much of the day at the office of the Phu Hiep Airfield Commander along with all the operations officers of the installation. Could it be that they are banding together in some sort of plot?

On the eighteenth, the Phantomhawks welcomed a new First Sergeant. 1SC Boone immediately began to acquaint himself with the company's policies and rosters.

The nineteenth brought another new face to our company. WO1 Phil Horsewood, an imagery interpretation technician, became a much needed addition to the imagery interpretation section. Because of his behemoth proportions, WO1 Horsewood was quickly tabbed with the nickname of "Hoss".

The twentieth day of the month brought a little relief to the enlisted men of our company. With the installation of gates on the motor pool, guards are no longer needed to protect our prize vehicles. The motor officer can now sleep in peace.

The morning of the twenty-third saw the 225th standing tall for the new 223d Battalion Commander. LTC McGuffin made his first visit to the 225th since taking over as Battalion Commander. LTC McGuffin spent the morning with us touring the various sections with Major Peterson. The twenty-fifth day saw another promotion among the officer ranks. Bill "Moby" Beck made Captain today. Because of his prowess on the volley-ball court, Bill received two huge sets of Captain's "tracks" made of cardboard. Appropriately enough, the presentation was made on the volley- ball court.

On the twenty-sixth we lost the services of one of our aviators for an indefinite period of time. CW2 Greg "Beach Ball" Yoha left for the 249th General Hospital in Hawaii. Since Greg's wife resides nearby, we wondered if his back would get its needed rest.

The twenty-seventh saw a new second Lieutenant come to the 225th. 2LT David Mullen quickly accepted the nickname "Moon" and took over as the imagery interpretation section leader. Now 2LT "Duck" Willaims can breathe easier. He is no longer the only "Butter Bar" in the company.

The Phantomhawks showed off their wares again on the twenty- ninth. Colonel Wright, 17th Group Commander toured the company area and was given the full VIP tour.

1SG Crowley left the 225th on the thirtieth. Although his services were deemed invaluable, he left an able replacement in 1SG Boone.

The month of September brought new faces to the 225th, and saw some old familiar faces leave. The company had her share of VIP tours and bad weather, but the ever important mission of aerial surveillance of II Corps was again accomplished in September by the 225th Phantomhawks.

SUMMARY: During the month of September the Phantomhawks logged a total of 1,205.7 hours for an average of 48.2 hours per pilot. 154.7 hours were flown under instrument condition giving an average of 6.1 hours per pilot. High time pilot for the month was Captain John Urquhart with 95.2 hours.


OCTOBER 1969:

"THE MONTH OF THE DARK CLOUDS AND HEAVY HEARTS"

1 October 1969: The first day of this the eighth month of the Old Roman year was kicked off by the 225th Aviation Company (Surveillance Airplane) at 0330 hours as "Phantomhawk 01" pointed its nose up into the dark cloudy sky and its pilot, 1LT Paul L. Graffee, reported over his Fox Mike radio, "Phantomhawk control, Phantomhawk 01 off the ground at 30". 1LT Graffee and his observer, SP4 Bobby D. Riddle, were off to be the uninvited guests for Charlie's breakfast call somewhere on the western part of II Corps. And while there, they would probably also listen for and hear "the crack of dawn".

It seems that our resident engineer and amateur weather forecaster, CPT Theodore "Ted" Baranet, has finally gotten together with the weatherman at Tuy Hoa, all those dark clouds and rain that he has been predicting and forecasting for the last month have finally come upon Phu Hiep. In spite of all the dark low hanging clouds and the rain, by 0845 hours all Phantomhawks scheduled for photo missions into all parts of II Corps are off the ground and on their way to the target areas to put the "big eye" on Charlie. "Smile Charlie, you're on candid camera".

Before the day ends, the fine standardization program of the 225th pays off dividends one more time as CPT George "Junior" Burns brings Phantomhawk 20 from an early evening infrared mission with hydraulics failure, and lands it at Tuy Hoa Air Force Base without further incident or damage.

"Groovy, Junior, groovy".

The day is put to an end by the 225th as CPT Raymond "Spaghetti Hands" McBride brings Phantomhawk 13 back to its nest from a SLAR mission at 2210 hours.

3 October 1969: No longer will the officer's BOQ area be filled with accordion music in the evenings, and no longer will the Officer's Calls on Friday nights go on for three and four hours.... You've guessed it! After 24 long months with the 225th, CPT Curtis "Squeeze Box" Middleton departs for the "World" at noon. As he departs, his only regret is that he cannot play one more tune for his comrades, this does not bother the troops too much and he gets the traditional Phantomhawk send off.

2000 hours: Officer's Call started like any other, but it certainly did not end like any other. Business and discussions were going strong, until the point when MAJ Peterson was called to the phone. Some of the thirsty ones took the chance to obtain liquid refreshment which would never be consumed, for as MAJ Peterson gently and slowly put the phone in its cradle you could see in his face that something had just ruined his whole day. "Paul Graffee is overdue," he told us as he walked out the door, and immediately the laughter and jokes that normally conclude our Officer's Calls were void. The tension mounted as results of ramp checks filtered in with negative results, and at 2130, the Operations Officer was forced to declare Phantomhawk 01 and its crew as missing.

At 1610 hours that day, 1LT Paul L. Graffee and PFC Kenneth L. Cunningham, had departed on mission number 2317 which took them into the well known enemy infested area around Dak To and Dac Pek. Their flight plan had an estimated time of arrival of 1915 hours which was never met.

2200 hours: The maintenance and avionics crews all started a maximum effort to have every aircraft in a flyable status by daybreak. The aviators and observers went to bed in anticipation of a long day in the air, while CPT Doug Davis and his operations crew, along with MAJ Peterson and MAJ Page, planned long into the hours of dawn in preparation for an early and hopefully fruitful search for our missing comrades in the morning.

4 October 1969: The whole company is up and around by 0530 hours, and by 0700 hours all search and rescue teams are standing by at the imagery interpretation section for their briefing.

0800 hours: The stillness of the morning air hanging over Phu Hiep Army Airfield is shattered by a loud and crisp radio transmission as MAJ Page calls Phu Hiep Ground Control for taxi instructions for 15 Mohawks. Within minutes, all 15 Mohawks are airborne, and as troops on the ground watch them disappear into the sky to the northwest they wish they too could go on the search.

The search is hampered by bad weather over most of the northern one half of the search area. Weather continued to deteriorate and by early afternoon it forces several of the rescue teams back to Phu Hiep. Artillery agencies, flight following facilities, and towers all along the way ask about the progress of the search, and offer encouraging words and best wishes for tomorrow's search. On the ground the crew chiefs and other troopers anxiously greet each returning search team in hopes of hearing favorable news. This goes on until 1930 hours when MAJ Page and MAJ Peterson return in Phantomhawk 05 and there are no more Phantomhawks in the sky to wait for.

5 October 1969: Six Phantomhawks are off by 0800 hours headed towards the primary search area. The weather seems to be a little better today than it was yesterday, especially on the northern half of the area. So, with renewed hope each search team starts to search once more for their fallen comrades, each meticulously search each square foot, of what seems to be an ocean of green jungle with gigantic waves formed by unending ridge lines and mountain peaks.

0945 hours: "Phantomhawk 00, this is Phantomhawk 03, we've found the crash site! Over". Within minutes, CW2 Robert "Charlie Brown" Jensen directed MAJ Page to the crash site. Pictures were taken of the crash site and the Phantomhawks were on their way to coordinate for a helicopter to penetrate the crash site. The news was brought back to Phu Hiep by the returning search teams. Phantomhawk 01 had been located approximately 30 miles northwest of Dak To on an almost verticle side of a jungle covered mountain at about 7000 feet above sea level. From the initial look at the site, it looks like it is going to be extremely difficult and dangerous to reach.

1000 hours: Contact is made with the 52nd Aviation Battalion for a support helicopter.

1155 hours: Phantomhawk 16 is off the ground and headed for Pleiku with MAJ Page and CPT Tom Higdon, S-3, 223d Aviation Battalion, to coordinate and attempt to penetrate the crash site.

1215 hours: CPT Theodore "Ted" Baranet and CW2 Kevin A. Phillips take off in Phantomhawk 03 to go and take additional photos of the crash site for better coordination and planning, and also to see if we can determine whether the Martin Baker ejection seats are still in the crash or if they were fired.

1300 hours: MAJ Peterson and CPT "Doc" Glenn, 268th Aviation Battalion Flight Surgeon, depart for Pleiku to assist in the recovery.

By 1730 hours everyone coordinating and attempting to reach the crash site is back at Phu Hiep with not so pleasant news. All attempts to reach the site were unsuccessful, primarily because of weather. And so, the 225th with heavy hearts, sees the gray clouds darken as the dreary day turns into night.

6 October 1969: Again today weather was not on our side and made it impossible to even get in the area. We'll try again tomorrow.

1LT Mark "Short Round" Babson Jr. is no longer a Lieutenant, he received his Captain's bars today.

Congratulations to you Captain Babson.

7 October 1969: CPT Klinger, Pathfinder Detachment Commander, 52nd Aviation Battalion, and his personnel are standing by the CH-47 when MAJ Peterson, MAJ Page, and "Doc" Glenn arrived at Camp Hollaway at 0730 hours. The weather is much better today than it was yesterday, so it looks like today might be the day. As they approach the side everyone notices that the wreckage is no longer in its original position or configuration. The aircraft commander decides to take a better look at the whole situation before committing himself, so he goes around for another try. During the second approach two men are sighted on the ground in close proximity to the wreckage and scuddling for cover.

"I don't like it", says CPT Klinger to no one in particular as st stares out the little window trying to evaluate the situation below. CPT Klinger had been nominated to receive the Medal of Honor for heroism in action that took place at LZ Yankee, southeast of Ben Het in May 1969, during the siege of Ben Het. He is not the type of man that's known for his reputation of turning down a fight, but he felt uneasy about all the activity down in the crash site. He looked at MAJ Peterson and said, "we can try if you like, but I don't think we'll come out of there". The decision was made to wait and let it cool off for seven days and then go back and give it another try.

9 October 1969: Our sister company, the 219th Aviation Company (BA), has also been stricken with disaster. One of their Headhunters has gone down supposedly over the same area where Phantomhawk 01 went down. Two Phantomhawks are dispatched to assist in the search.

1830 hours: Phantomhawk 08 returns to its nest after a day of search and rescue operations with three bullet holes as manifestation that Charlie is in and around the area where Phantomhawk 01 and the Headhunter went down. Luckily, the crew, 2LT Thomas "Duck" Williams and SP4 James T. Savage were not hurt.

It has been raining off and on for a couple of days, but the rains really started coming down earlier today. By 1915 hours three Phantomhawks returning home from early evening infrared missions had to land at Tuy Hoa Air Force Base due to the extreme weather, and the early SLAR mission was cancelled by G-2 Air also due to weather.

10 October 1969: The rains continued to come down all night last night and it doesn't look like its "fixing" to let up any day now. It looks so bad that 1SG Boone approached MAJ Peterson about a ten man detail to start working on the "Arc".

In spite of the rain and low visibility, by 0830, eight Phantomhawks have departed Phu Hiep to go on SLAR, infrared, photo, and search and rescue missions. After completing his mission, Phantomhawk 21, with CPT Mark "Short Round" Babson at the controls, had to land at Nha Trang due to weather at Phu Hiep. The weather continued to deteriorate and G-2 Air called to cancel missions for the remainder of the day.

At 1230 hours, CPT Jose A. Chapa, acting as a commander of troops, formed the company on the maintenance ramp for a wet and soggy dress rehearsal for the up-coming change of command ceremony. The troops are standing tall, the public address system is in place and operating, and everything seems to be in order, but wait! Who is supposed to be up front facing the troops?! Why, that's where the outgoing and incoming commanders are supposed to be. But where are they?! For a few seconds there is panic and confusion in the air but the situation comes under control as soon as CPT Chapa is able to recruit three volunteers to fill-in for the missing commanders and the reviewing officer. It was later discovered that MAJ Peterson had forgotten about the dress rehearsal for his change of command ceremony, so he invited MAJ Page to go with him to get a haircut at Tuy Hoa Air Force Base.

We'll see you tonight sir!!

2000 hours: The weekly Officer's Call was dominated mostly by MAJ Peterson's up coming departure and farewell. After the business portion of the Officer's Call, we continued with the weekly 225th Aviation Company "Cranium En Tu Anus" award. The award is a 14 inch wooden statue of a man standing up and bending over backwards, so far, that you cannot see his head regardless of how you look at him. It is awarded weekly to the officer who pulls the biggest Boo-Boo of the week, and it is done fairly and legally too. First, nominations are taken, then everyone present votes, and the nominee with the majority of the votes gets the award. This week MAJ Peterson was nominated for forgetting the dress rehearsal to his own change of command ceremony. He had some tough competition from some of the regulars from the "Ano Cephalic" crew, but he managed to acquire the majority of the votes.

Since Phantomhawk 01 went down on the 3rd, a total of four aircraft have been lost in that area, and at 1530 hours today G-2 Air called down a directive that there would be no more flights in that area until further notice. Phantomhawk 01, along with two 0-1's and one 0-2 have gone down in the same area, besides, several other aircraft have been shot up while searching for their fallen comrades. It has become very clear that Charlie is in the area and he is not trying to hide so he must be there in force and sure of himself because of the increased activity the rescue effort for all the downed aircraft has been taken out of the hands of the individual units and taken over by higher headquarters.

11 October 1969: Today marks another turning point for the 225th Aviation Company (SA) as another commander steps aside and says, "You've got it"! to his successor. MAJ Ronald N. Peterson departs for CONUS today, and his eagerness to return to his family is evidenced by his morning appearance on the ramp to inspect the two sail boats that belong to the Phantomhawk yacht club. If conditions don't improve, the sailboats might be the only form of transportation available to deliver him to his port of embarkation. Needless to say the rain has been continuous for three days now and according to the weatherman at Tuy Hoa there is no relief in sight.

At 0930 hours LTC Robert F. McGuffin, Commanding Officer, 223d Aviation Battalion, called down his regrets for not being able to come to the change of command ceremony due to weather. An invitation was extended to LTC Ulrich Harmon, Commanding Officer, 268th Aviation Battalion, to be reviewing officer for the change of command ceremony, and he accepted.

At 1030 hours the change of command ceremony was kicked off as per inclement weather schedule. LTC Harmon assisted by 1SG Boone passed the 225th guidon and the green tabs of leadership from MAJ Ronald N. Peterson to MAJ William C. Page Jr., the incoming commander. MAJ Peterson commended the troops for a job extremely well done during his tenure as commander, gave them encouraging words, thanked them for the fine support he received. MAJ Page spoke briefly and to the point, and with eagerness in his eyes and excitement in his voice he told the troops he proudly assumed command of the 225th Aviation Company (Surveillance Airplane).

MAJ Page is a dual rated Senior Aviator, however, the vast majority of his experience is in fixed wing and specifically in the OV-1. His association with the OV-1's dates back as far as September 1962, when he completed the transition course at the Aviation School. He is presently serving his second tour in RVN in an OV-1 unit, and in the 225th he could hardly be classified as a "new-bee", since he served his initial six months as the Executive Officer of the unit. The man is highly qualified and equally motivated, the Phantomhawks have a good hand, so the unit should continue to go nowhere but up. "Good luck to you, MAJ Page, you've got it"!

1300 hours: The Phantomhawk portal and red carpet are all layed out and the bubbling champagne is flowing as MAJ Peterson prepares to depart. All the activity took place inside the hangar because the rain was till coming down on Phu Hiep. It was a wet and almost dreary afternoon, but it didn't seem to bother MAJ Peterson too much as he smilingly waved at the troops from the cockpit of Phantomhawk 12 as it was being towed out of the hangar. Within minutes, Phantomhawk 12 was rolling down runway 04 for takeoff with MAJ Peterson at the controls and CPT Doit "Grease Monkey 6" Koppler in the right seat. Seconds after lift off Phantomhawk 12 disappeared, almost as if being swallowed by the misty rain and low hanging clouds. "Those green cards do come in handy every now and then, don't they"?

1900 hours: "Big Bertha", the 200 KW generator for the unit has been threatening to quit for several days, she has been pumping oil out of the breather just about as fast as it is poured in. As initiation for the new commander "Big Bertha" decided to quit now. So, for his first night as Company Commander, MAJ Page has about 10 inches of rain and zero electrical power for the unit. "Welcome, MAJ Page"!

12 October 1969: Incessantly the rains came, and 1SG Boone is still pushing the idea of building an "arc" just in case. He was very serious when he approached the new C.O. this morning trying to get men and material to get started.

The troops adapted to the situation quickly, and the American Soldier's ingenuity came through again as we saw a row boat being used as a shuttle between the barracks and the mess hall. "No Fishing" signs were posted by the volleyball and basketball courts and behind the orderly room.

MAJ Page has decided to put "Big Bertha" up for retirement, and since Pacific Architects & Engineers are not too cooperative, it looks like he will have to come up with a replacement himself.

14 October 1969: Once again that dark cloud of tragedy hangs low over the 225th. At round 1800 hours Operations receives word that Phantomhawk 14 missed a position report to coastal center at 1735 hours. Phantomhawk 14, with CPT Mark Babson at the controls and SP4 James T. Savage as T.O., departed Phu Hiep at 1540 hours for an infrared mission in the Da Lat area. By 1930 hours ramp checks had been made at Nha Trang, Phan Rang, and Cam Rhan Bay, all with negative results. By 1940 hours CPT Doug Davis, the Operations Officer, was forced to declare CPT Babson and SP4 Savage as missing in action. CPT Steve Hammons and PFC David J. Bossert in Phantomhawk 12 were diverted from a SLAR mission into the Phantomhawk 14 area of operations in hope of receiving a beeper signal or some sign from their fallen comrades. All through the night a Phantomhawk is on station. Well above the clouds and rain and turbulence it flies in the dark sky as it cuts its way through giant halls of silent air, its crew waiting, hoping.............listening.

15 October 1969: By 0710 hours all the preparations, briefings, coordination, and last minute checks had been made and 13 Phantomhawks were on their way to the search area, each with two men on board, all secretly hoping that they would be the ones who spot the missing crew. At first light, CPT Dugan Lawrence took off in an effort to duplicate CPT Babson's last mission. He was to fly each identical target until completing the mission, then reverse course and fly them again backwards. His mission was fruitless and discouraging. The efforts of the others who searched all day were about the same.

For seven days, from daylight to dark the Phantomhawks searched for their missing members, each day with fading hope. There were some suspicious sightings and several reports of distress radio signals, of the type transmitted by emergency survival radios. Each was checked out thoroughly, but none produced what we were looking for. After seven days with no trace or sign of either the crew or the aircraft, the Phantomhawks must turn their efforts to supporting the troops throughout II Corps, but in each one of our hearts remains a very secret and very strong hope, that some day soon our comrades will come marching out of the jungle.

18 October 1969: At 1500 hours CW4 Ed "Wopa 6" Gabbard gets the traditional Phantomhawk send off; red carpet, champagne, handshakes, pictures, low pass.....the whole works. Behind him he leaves a number of responsible positions. No longer will the Phantomhawks have their own Mohawk rated instrument examiner and the expert advise of a UCLA trained Safety Officer. By far "Wopa" will be hurting the most with the departure of "Wopa 6" and CW3 Gerald "Randy" Randall is left to fill his big shoes.

20 October 1969: With all the champagne flight departures for departing Phantomhawks, you have to make an effort to stay sober, and the 225th Aviation Company is starting to hurt for pilots. Two more Phantomhawks left for the world today. Our own resident engineer, CPT Theodore "Ted" Baranet, leaves the 225th after a highly successful and active tour. He served as Infrared Platoon Commander, as Resident Engineer, and as Company Administrative Officer. "Good luck to you, Ted"!

CPT Doit "Grease Monkey 6" Koppler, Service Platoon Commander and Aviation Maintenance Officer, leaves behind him an enviable record as Maintenance Officer. His departure was marked with a speech by Doit (he used notes) and by his usual jocularity that surrounded him throughout his tour with the 225th.

24 October 1969: MAJ Page and CPT Urquhart set out for parts unknown on a special mission. The mission was to find, fix, and recruit a replacement for "Big Bertha", the 200 KW generator which was been a trouble maker since MAJ Page took over the company. At 1930 hours they returned to Phu Hiep after a successful day. They found, fixed and recruited the replacement at Cam Rhan Bay supply depot, now all they have to do is get it to Phu Hiep.

25 October 1969: No longer will CW2 Tom Hall pull his remaining hair off his head every time the power goes off unexpectedly and blows up his test equipment, and no longer will the Phantomhawks have to have their drinks by candle light at the bar. "Big Bertha's" replacement arrived today at 1530 hours. She was brought to us by one of our neighboring units here at Phu Hiep. "The Workhorse in the Sky" comes through again as the 355th Crane Company delivers our new generator right to our front door.

At 2030 hours MAJ page and his Phantomhawks head for the infamous "Ten Ton Tavern" to personally thank the Workhorses and to do a little celebrating.

26 October 1969: "Phantomhawk 20 is turning back from its infrared mission and returning to Tuy Hoa with no hydraulics." That was the message received by CPT Doug "Dougy-do-right" Davis, the Operations Officer. "Who is flying it?!" he asked quickly. "Mr. Serna, sir." - "Ah no sweat, he is our Safety Officer, he can handle it!!" and handle it he did! Though not before pulling the emergency stores release handle to improve aircraft stability --------"is that it?!"

28 October 1969: Today the 225th Aviation Company was honored with a visit from the Commanding General, 1st Aviation Brigade, Major General Allen M. Burdett Jr. With General Burdett were COL Billy R. Wright, 17th Aviation Group (Combat) Commander, and LTC Robert F. McGuffin, 223d Aviation Battalion (Combat) Commander. After a short briefing on the mission of the 225th, MAJ Page proudly took the General and his party around the various sections of the company. The General and his party seemed well pleased as they departed the 225th. Another "atta boy!" for all Phantomhawks.

October 1969, a rather stormy month for the 225th Aviation Company. Twice this month the Phantomhawks were taxed by fate with the highest price that can be paid. We salute our comrades: CPT Mark Babson; PFC Kenneth Cunningham; 1LT Paul Graffee; SP4 James Savage. You will always remain in our hearts.......so push away your feelings, do your job this year; if nothing else, so your son does not come here.

SUMMARY; During the month of October the Phantomhawks flew a total of 1,489.1 hours, for an average of 74.5 hours per pilot. Of the total hours, 112.2 were flown under instrument conditions, for an average of 5.6 hours per pilot. High pilot for the month was CPT John Urquhart with 123.5 hours.


NOVEMBER 1969:

The first day of November 1969 began as a routine day in the life of the 225th Aviation Company. The skies were unusually clear for this time of year with its normal tendencies toward monsoon rains and treacherous typhoons so typical to this locale. Such inclement weather had been present during the days and weeks past, so the break made spirits soar in the Phantomhawks.

At 0730 2LT "Duck" Williams and CW2 Ernie Serna began their briefings for the first visual photographic missions to be flown for the month of November. 2LT Williams' mission for the day was to be the famous 4th Division Area of Operations, headquartered at Camp Enari, which is located at Hensel Army Air Field, twelve miles south of Pleiku Air Force Base in the Pleiku Province of II Corps, Republic of Vietnam. With him, as observer that day, was Major Langston, the 225th Aviation Company Liaison Officer to G-2 Air, First Field Force, Vietnam. Major Langston was visiting the company to better acquaint himself with our mission so he could more effectively advise G-2 Air of the mission capabilities of the Phantomhawks. After the S-2 briefing and planning the day's flight, 2LT Williams and Major Langston departed Phu Hiep Army Air Field at 0830 hours on mission number 2559, enroute to their target area. They successfully completed eight (8) primary targets this day.

CW2 Serna and his observer, SP4 Knox of the Aerial Surveillance Platoon, departed Phu Hiep on mission number 2560, enroute to their target area in the 173d Zone of Operations. This particular mission is usually a short one, and true to expectations, after successfully completing three (3) targets, they returned home at around 1330 hours.

The first day of November brought to the Phantomhawks, along with high hopes for better weather, a valuable asset in the person of CPT Virgil Weakley, an Engineer Corps officer fresh from Mohawk Transition Training at Fort Rucker, Alabama. He was immediately assigned the major additional duty of Phantomhawk Resident Engineer, in charge of all the dirty little jobs and maintaining a livable condition in general for the rest of us. In this capacity during the ensuing weeks he quickly proved himself adept.

This beginning day of new and high hopes to Phantomhawkers also brought about a transition in the life and career of one young Aviator Officer. First Lieutenant Robert D. Hampton awakened to find the day bright and shining in more ways than one; this was the day he joined the ranks of Captains in the United States Army.

The early evening infrared missions began their S-2 briefings and flight planning at 1400 hours. They were: Mission number 2561 flown by CW3 Gerald Randall and mission number 2562 flown by one of the most junior captains in Army Aviation, CPT Robert D. Hampton. Both aviators completed their briefing and departed Phu Hiep at 1530 enroute to their target areas. CW3 Randall had twenty (20) targets assigned, aborting four (4) because of bad weather. CPT Hampton was assigned twenty-five (25) targets, of which he completed twenty-three (23), aborting two (2) for bad weather.

At 1830 hours CPT Raymond McBride began his briefing for the evening's SLAR (Side-Looking Airborne Radar) mission. He and his observer departed Phu Hiep at 1930 hours and successfully completed their mission, returning home at 2300 hours.

The second day of November brought a darker foreboding to the 225th, even though the good weather continued to hold. Warning of possible enemy attack was spread and all units were under Grey Alert. This caused a more than doubling of our night guards. All were apprehensive, and at 0042 hours the morning of the third day the first enemy mortar rounds began to fall. Red Alert was immediately called and all personnel quickly assumed their battle-ready positions in anticipation of enemy ground attack. None was forthcoming. It was evident that "Charlie" was engaged only in a harassment type, standoff attack, and at 0120 hours Grey Alert Status was again called, but with 100% alertness. During the course of the attack SP4 David Colquitt received a shrapnel wound in the right forearm. He was treated at the 268th Battalion Dispensary and returned to duty. The majority of the mortar rounds fell out of our company area, between the Phantomhawk ramp and the runway. However, the same round that wounded SP4 Colquitt severely damaged Aircraft Number 18 and did minor damage to Aircraft Number 11. The first seven hundred feet of runway 04, along with taxiways 3 and 4, were closed due to mortar damage. The next day, the forth day, Yellow Alert Status was called. This meant all grey guards were present and on 100% alertness. The evening of the fifth day brought again White Alert conditions, and a minimum guard status.

The next few days saw a change in the Monsoon Season for the worse. Again, weather conditions became marginal, making flying and accomplishment of missions difficult.

The seventh day of November was a gala one for our Company Commander, MAJ William C. Page, as he boarded the Pan Am flight at Cam Ranh Bay and headed for Hawaii and Rest and Recuperation. He left the 225th Aviation Company in the capable hands of his Executive Officer, CPT Jose Chapa, who began, as we found out later, a stormy reign as Acting Commander.

The eighth day of November welcomed to the 225th Aviation Company 1LT Joel Koch, newly assigned to the Phantomhawks. It was found later that First Lieutenant Koch was derived of the National Guards of which he received his commission. This fact has brought him much woe in after-hours Club activities. However, being something better than the average National Guardsman, and having volunteered for Active Duty in Vietnam, he was warmly accepted into the much envied wings of the 225th Phantomhawks.

The eighth day also brought about record breaking events which began with the early evening infrared mission briefings. There were two infrared missions this evening: Mission number 2618 flown by CPT Hampton with SP4 Bob Allen as his observer, and mission number 2619 flown by CW3 Randall with SP4 Bob Clausen as observer. Each pilot attended a routine briefing noting with interest the unusually large number of targets assigned him. Each aviator was given thirty-two (32) targets, which was much more than usual. The large number of targets were due to the inclement weather making targets difficult to get at this time of year, so they began to accumulate on the target board. Thinking no more about it, they departed the area enroute to their numerous targets. The Monsoon rains had made a turn for the better this day and both aviators' target areas were clear. After a long and grueling flight CW3 Randall returned home much elated over the fact that he had successfully completed thirty (30) targets, thus breaking the previous record number of twenty- eight (28) successful targets completed by 2LT "Duck" Williams several months earlier. CW3 Randall's jubilation was running rampant until CPT Hampton walked in fifteen minutes later and calmly attested to thirty-two (32) successful completions out of thirty-tow (32) targets, thereby surpassing the brief record- breaking glory of CW3 Randall. CPT Hampton totally destroyed CW3 Randall's last thoughts of infamy by quietly adding "If I only another target assigned!!" As such are records made, broken, and broken again.

The ninth day, and the calm before the storm. The dawn came, bringing a stillness and ominous guilt none could quite explain to satisfaction. Later in the morning the vibrant and exciting life again was pulsing through the Phantomhawk area, as missions were received, planned, and crews assigned to execute them. The maintenance crews were just getting into the full tilt of their all-important work when the word came. Due to sudden and increased enemy activity in the southwestern portion of II Corps area, a priority call came through channels to immediately move our surveillance ground station from its remote position at Dalat to one more suited to support the increase in enemy movement. It was decided that Ban Me Thout, being the hub of friendly operations for that area, would be the best spot.

Preparations were made throughout the tenth day, and when all was in readiness, the movement began. The small exodus was going smoothly and efficiently until the tenth day when, a brief five minutes after the CH-47 Chinook hoisted the integrals most important piece of equipment high above the dense jungle foliage, dropped the infrared receiving station along with all hopes for a swift completion of the movement into savage terrain. The accident precipitated insurmountable discontent throughout the chain of command. Not withstanding this devastating accident, actions were taken on the spot to obtain a new infrared station to replace the lost one. This procurement was still in progress when, on the fourteenth day, Major Page returned to the chaos that had descended on the Phantomhawks. A short time after his return, the ground station at Ben Me Thout was in place and ready for action.

Our Phantom Captain. So-called because as a First Lieutenant, in preparation for the big event, inscribed "Captain" on his notebooks, clipboard, and various other articles. He only made one mistake. He let someone find it out. Then we had some real fun at the "O Club" with our National Guardsman. For that's who it was, our Phantom Captain, 1LT Joel Koch, again. Well, on the sixteenth day of November the Phantom really became a captain, for real!

On the twenty-third day we acquired through channels the person of CPT Howard Vail, who instantly became the newest "new-bee" to the family of Phantomhawks.

The next day, the twenty-fourth, the Monsoon opened up in all its terrifying might with rain, high winds, and no ceilings. Planes were grounded and all missions were cancelled. This inclement state lasted for six days, and the aviators thoroughly enjoyed the "Whiskey Front", as they interpreted the sky conditions.

Again on the twenty-seventh day the weather faired and missions were resumed on a usual schedule. Sunny skies greeted this day, and for good reason. It was Thanksgiving. That day the 225th Phantomhawks, officers and enlisted men alike, hosted 30 orphans from Tuy Hoa City and the traditional Thanksgiving meal fit for a king was the highlight of their visit. The tiny tots thoroughly enjoyed themselves and so did their sponsors. The men of the 225th Aviation Company (Surveillance Airplane) paused and gave thanks for the things they hold dear, and hoped they and their comrades would not have to spend another Thanksgiving away from home and loved ones. Feelings of good will and thanksgiving prevailed as outstanding features of the occasion.

The thirtieth, the last day of November 1969, brought about an incident which easily could have resulted in disaster had it not been for the professional competence demonstrated by CW2 Kevin Phillips. CW2 Phillips was piloting mission number 2793 in the Ban Me Thuot area. He was able to attempt only 4 of the 20 targets assigned him. Aborting the rest because of bad weather, he advised Pyramid Control, the radar flight following facility in the area, that he was climbing to 7500 feet and returning to home base (Phu Hiep). Shortly after leveling off at his altitude, still completely on instruments, a loud bang was heard, the aircraft shuddered and suddenly yawed violently to the right. CW2 Phillips' observer, from his vantage point in the right seat, advised that the Number 2 engine was on fire. CW2 Phillips took immediate emergency steps. He pulled the Number Two Fire Handle and discharged the first fire bottle into the flaming engine nacelle. The observer could still see sparks so the second fire bottle was discharged. There seemed to be no further visual evidence of fire. So, still flying by instruments alone and with radar following, CW2 Phillips flew his Mohawk home on a single engine, and made a successful landing at Tuy Hoa Air Force Base, located five miles north of Phu Hiep. This incident was indicative of the high standards of professionalism set, and willingly accepted and executed, by the 225th Aviation Company Phantomhawks.


DECEMBER 1969:

"THE MONTH OF THE KRISS KRINGLE"

"Glory to God in the highest;

and on Earth, peace

to men of good will."

Well, it's finally here, the month everyone so anxiously awaits back in the "World". It's not quite the same for most of us, as this is the first Christmas away from home and family. The holiday spirit is very slow in coming in spite of the Christmas gifts which are already beginning to arrive. Our working days are proceeding along almost as in any other month, except activity is slightly above normal because of a pre-CMMI Team which is going to check over the company with a courtesy inspection. LTC McGuffin has come down from Battalion for a visit and we were delighted to be able to show him our company area which is one of the nicer ones anywhere in II Corps. He was able to fly a SLAR mission and a night photo mission at which time he was able to hear one of the most experienced pilots yell over the radio, "Hey, sir! Those SOB's are shooting at you!" I am certain that after he heard that he was quite impressed with our radio procedures and techniques. That's OK LT Thomas "Duck" Williams, your mother still loves you. All in all, it appears that LTC McGuffin was well pleased with the company and we were more than glad to have him with us.

In preparation for the pre-CMMI, Major William "Wilma" Page, our CO, has already started the wheels of improvement in motion. All the officers in the company are reading up and becoming familiar with the guide book used by the CMMI Team. A "Steam Jenny" has been borrowed from the 18th Aviation Company, and all the vehicles are getting a real first class steam job. All the 1967 mud is being removed from the vehicles and they are being worked on daily, as well as a minimum amount of usage being put on them.

All sections of the company are planning and preparing to move into high gear to get their respective sections to such a state that they will come through the CMMI in an outstanding manner. The cooperation, enthusiasm and morale are very high and everyone seems to be certain that we will do well on the inspection.

The letter mail is beginning to slow down now. The Post Office says they are giving priority to the package mail and that is the reason why letter mail will take a few days longer than normal to arrive.

AFVN-TV Channel 11 presented a program featuring the 225th Aviation Company and its mission. In the program we were tagged with the nick-name of "Silent Stalkers". The films were taken by Airman 1st Class Young from the USAF who upon getting his first ride in the OV-1 for the purpose of getting the air shots became airsick and blew his lunch all over the cockpit - good going there Air Force. CW2 Harold "Little John" Nolan, head of II at the time, gave the narrative as to our mission and did a real fine job. The entire program lasted approximately five minutes and was quite complimentary toward the 225th Aviation Company.

The month of December was a big month for departures and arrivals of personnel. CW3 Gerald "Randy" Randall, who was one of the company's instructor pilots, left us. He also ran the Supply Room in an excellent manner and did such a outstanding job in everything that he was awarded a Letter of Commendation from Major Page, 225th Company Commander.

CW2 Kevin A. Phillips also left us this month to join the bread line back in the world. He flew IR while serving with the 225th, and during one of these missions near the end of his tour he encountered an engine failure with an engine fire under instrument conditions, 100 miles from home base. He handled the emergency in a very professional manner and flew his OV-1 on single engine, IFR, 100 miles without further incident and landed safely at Tuy Hoa Air Force Base. For this action he also received a Letter of Commendation.

To replace the losses of CW3 Jerry Randall and CW2 Kevin Phillips, we were sent a new II Officer, 2LT Harlow Hart. He came fresh out of school and seems to be quite capable of performing his duties. He will have lots of good experienced help to get him over the rough spots and I'm sure he will have everything well in hand in a very short time. Also we acquired CPT Paul Yates, aviator type. He came from Manor, Pa., served at Fort Sill, then went to AMOC, OV-1 School. We're always glad to see new pilots come in, they are especially in demand at this time.

CW2 Lonnie Bauman, another one of our pilots, has been sent off to attend the PACAF Sea Survival School for approximately 10 days. The 225th tries to send Flight Crews to survival school whenever possible. It's a real fine school and an invaluable course for a military aviator. It's just too bad that every single one of the crews can't attend.

Two of our officers went to Udorn, Thailand for a while, 2LT Thomas "Duck" Williams and CW2 Harold "Little John" Nolan. They claim that they had a good time and I'm sure none would doubt that, especially if they knew Duck and Little John. These little trips sure bolster the morale. Too bad we all can't spend our entire tours in Udorn.

Well, this month was a good month for promotions, even though we had two men busted. The number promoted far outweighed the number demoted. Privates Cribbs, Gaites and Cobbs were promoted to PFC's, SP4's McGrath, Guest, Moore, Buck, Cash, Gore, and Stewart were all promoted to SP5. We're sure they were all well earned and good luck to everyone of you. May your next 20 years with Uncle Sam be as fruitful.

The company acquired a new OV-1A this month, #22. It's a pretty good flying machine and has a set of dual controls which makes a lot of observers happy. The only drawback is that the avionics are in poor condition. It doesn't have a Tacan, and the ADF and VHF don't work very well. I expect that our Avionics Section will have it all squared away as soon as they can figure out how to untangle that big mess of wiring which we inherited with the aircraft.

Speaking of aircraft, the month of December was the month of the big annual "Cranium en tu Anus" Award. This is the time of the year that all the old goof-ups which require one to have a plexiglass navel to see where he is going are brought to light. Some of the nominations were: CPT Raymond "Spaghetti Hands" McBride trying to take off with both props feathered and couldn't figure out why he wasn't going anywhere. Another was CW2 Thomas "Beach Ball" Yoha inadvertently dropping a fire extinguisher on his foot while trying to squirt people at a party. It required three stitches, a giant size bandage, as well as having to hobble around on a cane for a week to make it better.

Still another was CW4 Ed Gabbard, "Old Safety Six", well noted for his oratories on safety and good preflights, taking off from Phu Hiep with the baggage compartment door open and flapping in the breeze. Good preflight there, Safety 6!

Last but not least of the runners up was Donald Andrews, our own "Donnie Doppler", the experienced Doppler Technician, who previously won the award for violating one of the rules of working around high voltage by wearing his wrist watch and making contact with said high voltage and melting his wrist watch right on the his skin. Unfortunately, his watch was an electric type and was blown all to hell. To top it off after receiving the award, he went on leave and accidentally locked up the trophy in his room so that it could not be presented the following week to the next recipient.

"Announcing the Winner!" CPT Dirty Joe Beckham, commonly referred to as "DJ", for his skill in navigation. While flying with another pilot to Tan Son Nhut Airfield in Saigon, he ended up in the Bien Hoa traffic pattern and contacted Tan Son Nhut tower for clearance to land. After receiving clearance, Tan Son Nhut advised DJ that they did not have him in sight, so a go- around was made. Two more attempts were made, each time the tower calling him to say that they did not have him in sight and DJ telling them he was in final, when suddenly a voice came over guard channel and said "OV-1 in the Bien Hoa traffic pattern, what are your intentions?" At this time DJ realized he was in the wrong place and then proceeded on to Tan Son Nhut. Another thing was that DJ had flown in to Saigon on a regular basis and after all that time still didn't recognize the airport.

Also this month the company acquired guard post 13 on the outer perimeter. This requires the 225th to supply 3 more guards per night and vastly extends our area of responsibility on the perimeter.

MAJ Page personally inspected the troops in ranks this month, and the deficiencies he mainly noted were poor haircuts and worn out fatigues and boots. More emphasis will now be placed on the personal appearance of the troops.

Near the end of the month, the Enlisted Club had a round-eye show from Australia, complete with music, go-go girls and a comedian who doubled as an impressionist. Everyone enjoyed the show immensely. It's always nice to see a round-eye show because they are so rare in this area and it gives you a chance to get a glimpse of people from civilization.

The II Section completed their Crypto Van this month and are now using it to store their classified material.

In the sports news for the month, the big 225th softball team played the rags from the 234 Assault Helicopter Company in a 22 inning game. After 19 innings, the score remained at a whopping 0 - 0. Night fell upon Phantomhawk Stadium so the game was continued the following week where the 134th lucked out and drove in one run after three innings of play to win the ball game 1 to 0.

In the volleyball line-up this month, the Big 0 team maintained a comfortable lead in games won over the NCO No-Jump F-----. How long can it last Big 0?!

In the model airplane news for this month, WO1 Phillip "Hoss" Horsewood, after numerous attempts, has yet to make one complete circle with his U-Control scale Spitfire. It is agreed by all that he produces some of the most sensational crack-ups in model airplane history. He always draws a big crowd.

Hoss' roommate, CW2 Greg "Beach Ball" Yoha, after observing Hoss' performance has nervously rejected the prodding of crash-happy model watchers to fly his beautiful scale Mustang until the winds die down. Also he insists on having a gallery of onlookers comparable with Hoss' so that when he crashes it will contribute to the entertainment of all. "That sure is thoughtful of you Greg."

CPT William "Moby" Beck, after long hours of work was finally ready to fly his R/C model. The engine was started and the plane was released. It ran frantically around the ball field in one direction then another chasing onlookers wherever it went. It never did get off the ground so it was named "the only car on Phu Hiep with wings". A new more powerful prop was placed on the R/C and another flight was attempted. After a long period of time, the little craft was finally airborne, about six inches off the ground. Too bad it hit an eight inch log. Oh well, back to the drawing board.

As everyone knows Christmas is due to come about. Thanks to the CO, the Christmas spirit was brought in with a bang as on the 22nd of December one of the best parties the company ever threw started off with a barbecue, salads, sandwiches, and free beer and soda for all. An outstanding band called "Mike and the Groove Makers" provided musical entertainment for the entire evening. Some of the Red Cross girls came by to talk and dance with the troops. They were kept very busy. You ought to see those Donut Dollies sweat. Good ole wobbly Doc Rose with the blood shot eyes make his musical debut by blowing one of the best trumpets we've ever heard. He demonstrated a real talent and captured the attention of everyone.

Christmas day finally arrived, a minimum work schedule was initiated for the day, a cease fire was in effect. Donations of food were taken to the Tuy Hoa Orphanage, the mess hall was already decorated for the Christmas season, and the Bob Hope Show missed Phu Hiep for the 5th straight year. Many persons waited until Christmas to open their gifts, many of the rooms were decorated in the traditional Christmas style, and all in all it was a very pleasant day.

Christmas is over now, but the spirit of Christmas still lingers on. Several of the pilots and observers have come down with a slight case of Amoebic Dysentery, that's what they get for digging in each others S---. The dispensary personnel seem to think that the dysentery is coming from either the water supply or the Vietnamese food handlers working in the clubs. Even the mess officer came down with a bad case, and has been ostracized from the mess hall by his colleagues. He was picked to serve the unit as permanent Duty Officer.

The company took on a new pet. A German Shepherd scout dog who was declared legally dead by the military, but who in actuality is sharing a room with Little John Nolan, one of our II officers. The dog's name is Ky and he has won both the Bronze Star and Purple Heart while serving Uncle Sam in Vietnam. Despite his strict military background, Ky has become a very congenial dog, popular with everyone, including his canine companion, Susie.

Earlier this month there was a slight shake in the Orderly Room. First Sergeant Boone had to leave because of personal reasons, and SFC Arlington R. Cooke from the II Section quickly stepped in and took over the job as acting First Sergeant and is doing a real fine job. It looks as though he will be in this position for quite a while. Keep up the good work SFC Cooke.

Well the end of the month is finally here. New Years Eve has come, another cease fire is in effect. Everyone is having a gay old time in the traditional fashion with floor shows, parties, and believe it or not, even the bars are doing a good business tonight. The II Section had their own personal party where they used their new, no burn, non stick popcorn popper. Champagne flowed freely and all the short-timers were toasted. It was excellent turnout and everyone enjoyed themselves immensely.

Midnight was approaching rapidly and at the 268th Club, Miss Maraha was entertaining the officers with her upside down a-go- go. Outside, fire works were going off all over the area. Tracer rounds, flares, star clusters and smoke grenades. It was quite an impressive sight.

During the month of December, the 225th Aviation Company flew 1247.0 hours. That's an average of 62.4 hours per pilot. Each pilot averaged 6.8 hours of instrument time for a total of 135.5 instrument flying hours. The high pilot of the month was CPT Steve Hammons with a total of 101.2 hours.

Looking back through the year we've had our share of good times as well as the bad times. Our tragic experiences with our fallen comrades, the fellowship enjoyed with one another, the associations with people of different races, colors and creeds will leave up with lasting impressions and hopefully a more mature and well rounded personality. Good luck Phantomhawks, may the year of 1970 be one of happiness, health and success to all.



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No restricted and/or classified information is contained herein. This home page and web site have been constructed and will be maintained entirely by the author, and the author is responsible for the contents and accuracy of this site. The contents of this page have not been reviewed, approved, or monitored by the United States Army, nor is this page and/or it's contents a representation of such. All comments, questions, and concerns should be directed to the author - Howard Ohlson

Credits

This history has been retracted, in its entirety, from the United States National Archives, Washington, D.C. (U. S. Government publication, no copyright applicable). Section - List of Officer Personnel - listing names of "key" unit members has been omitted as a consideration of their privacy.


Copyright © 1997, Howard Ohlson, All Rights Reserved.

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Last update: April 5, 1997