Charlie Troop Gold Star Family News Letters

Posted on November 20, 2014

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Charlie Troop 1st Squadron 9th Cavalry
Gold Star Family (Bullwhip)

My name is Patrick (Pat) Bieneman. Many of you may not remember me because it has been a while since we have talked.

It was recently brought to my attention and other’s that we have not invited any of you to our reunions. This was a bad oversight on my part. It is an oversight that must be corrected.

At one time Charlie Troop along with the other Troops of the 1/9 Cavalry belong to the Bullwhip Association. The Bullwhip Association was named In Honor of LTC Stockton who took the squadron to Vietnam in 1965. The Association held reunions every two years.

Charlie Troop is now holding reunions every year. We realize that not everyone can make a reunion a year but this does give more people the opportunity to at least attend one every other year.

I have talked to many Charlie Troopers and they all agree that we need to start sending out “Invitations” to you. Our next reunion is this October in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. It will be the 3-5th. I know this is short notice and that since many of you work, trying to get off on such short notice will not be easy. Our next reunion will be October of 2015. It will be held in Columbus, Georgia. The 1st of the 9th Cav left Ft. Benning, Georgia in 1965. This will be the 50th Anniversary of their departure.

We will honor “Our Fallen” and You at a dinner on the Saturday night of the reunion. I don’t have exact dates yet but we try to hold the reunions the 1st or 2nd weekend (Thursday – Saturday) of October. This dinner will be free to you and a spouse or other family member.

If anyone would like to make the reunion this year please contact me at: pcbnamin@verizon.net. If you have a question or concern, please contact me at the email address provided.

Please give me your feedback to email. Let me know if you may be interested in attending our reunions.

Patrick Bieneman
Cell: 859-771-6342

I decided to publish a Charlie Troop Gold Star Family News Letter each month. It is my intentions to try and let the family members know what their loved one did while in Vietnam. The First News Letter was just to tell the Family members who I was and what I hoped to attain as my objective.

Charlie Troop Gold Star Family

News letter #2

Welcome to the 2nd edition of the Charlie Troop Gold Star Family News Letter.  In this edition, I would like to introduce you to the Army alphabet. I will give examples of its use. Then I will do my best to give you an idea of the weapons use the men of Charlie Troop.

The US Military Alphabet:

A= Alpha
B= Bravo
C= Charlie
D= Delta E=Echo
F= Foxtrot,
G= Golf
H= Hotel
I= India
J-Julie
K=Kilo
L+=Lima
M=Mike
N= November
O= Oscar

P=Papa
Q= Quebec
R= Romeo
S= Sierra
T= Tango
V= Victor
W= Whiskey
X=xray
Z= Zulu

Examples of its use: Radio Telephone Operator (RTO) would be Romeo Tango Oscar.Phouc Vinh (which was one of our base camps) was Papa Victor. A grid co-ordinance was used to locate a position whether it was a friendly position or an enemy position. It was also used to call for artillery. A grid co ordinance was two letters followed by 6-8 numbers. Ie Golf Tango 13507850. All military maps had letters identifying a 1000 meter grid. A protractor was use to break this down into EITHER 100 OR 50 meters.

Call Signs:a call sign was used to indicate a person or a section. A commander was always a 6. The 6 was preceded by the unit’s moniker. Ie Cavalier 6 was Charlie Troop Commander. Cavalier Blue was the Blue Platoon Leader. Cavalier White/Red was the Platoon leader of that section. A Pilot in the White (Scout) section may have been 15 or White 15.  A squad Leader in the Blues may have been Blue 32.

The following is a list of most of the weapons used by Charlie Troop.

Most of the information in this post was found in the following websites:

http://www.aircav.com/”>www.aircav.com, http://www.238awc.org, 238awc.org, http://www.wikipedia.org, http://www.wikipedia.org

The weapons used in Vietnam were numerous. Those used by the Infantryman in Charlie Troop changed as field use and other factors demanded. The weaponry used on the helicopters also changed as the aircraft changed.

The following is a list of the weaponry used by the Infantryman and on helicopters in Charlie Troop:

M15 Car rifle: light weight (7.96 lbs), air cooled, gas operated, magazine fed (20 rounds a 30 round Banana clip was also available), shoulder fired. It could fire semi automatic or full automatic. It had a maximum range of 2653 meters and has a maximum effective range of 460 meters.  Gas operated means that it had a plunger and spring system that would be pushed back  into the stock of the rifle while the next round was inserted into the chamber. The Car 15 could be modified to be shortened and sometimes the pilots would use this as a personal weapon while flying the aircraft. I don’t have a picture of the M15 however it was very similar to the M16.

M16/M16A1 rifle: This rifle had all of the characteristics of the M15. Most infantrymen would tape two magazines together (one up one down) so when the fire fight would start they could quickly unload and reload the magazines. The average infantryman carried 20 to 30 magazines with the 5.56mm rounds. The M16 could fire both ball and tracer rounds. Many infantryman would put no more than 2 ball rounds and then a tracer so they could use the tracer round to adjust fire.

M1911 Colt 45

45 Caliber single action pistol: It used a 7 round magazine. It was mostly used by Pilots and other officers for close in personal protection. However, many M79 Grenadiers also carrying one until the M203 came along.

M3A1 Grease gun

M3A1 Grease gun: This weaponry was fully automatic. It fired a 45 Caliber round supplied through a 30 round magazine and could fire 350-450 rounds per minute ( if you could change magazines fast enough). It had a maximum effective range of  55 yards. It weighed 8 lbs.

M60

M60 Machine gun: The M60 machine gun was carried by each squad and mounted on a lot of helicopters. Door gunner would hook an M60 up to a bungee cord for more maneuverability. The M60 was belt fed, gas operated and could be carried, mounted on a tripod or as above on a bungee cord. The M60 weighed 23 lbs and when used in the Infantry it was suppose to have a two man crew. In our unit it was a one man crew assisted when possible by a second person. Every man carried 100 to 200 rounds of M60 7.62mm ammunition at all times. It could fire 500-650 rounds per minute. The M60 could fire, ball, tracer, and armor piercing rounds.

M79_afmil

M79 Grenade Launcher: The M79 is a single shot, shoulder fired (usually) weapon. It fired a  40mm grenade. The round could be an explosive anti-personnel round, a smoke grenade, a buckshot round and a Flechette round . A Flechette round is a round packed with many small horse shoe shaped pieces of metal. The M79 could be used like a mortar. It was required that the round made so many revolutions before it was armed. Firing at a short distance was not always that effective. By placing the butt of the stock on the ground, the M79 could be angled to fire at short distances by traveling high into the air. The M79 weighed 6.45 lbs. The effective distance was  383 meters with a maximum range of 437 meters. It is breach loaded.

220px-Loading_M203

M203 – M16A1 with a modified M79 grenade launcher attached to the bottom. This weapon gave the Grenadier added fire power.

The effective range was 150 meters. It was also called the “Over/Under”.

300px-USAF_M72_LAW

LAW – Light Anti-Tank Weapon: The LAW was an Anti-Tank Weapon but could be used as a Anti-personnel weapon by firing it into the trees and letting the schrapnel shower the area. It weighed 4lbs. It had an effective range of 165-200 meters and a maximum range of 1,000 meters.

250px-M-67Grenade

M61 Fragmentation Grenade: Anti-personnel grenade. The M61 had  a Pin you would pull and then you would throw the grenade. The Fuse had a 4-5 second time delay. The M61 had a 15 meter radius Kill zone.

A smoke grenade was use to mark both friendly and enemy positions. The smoke grenade came in many colors. Green to represent Friendly, Red to represent enemy, white to mark a position as well as a few other colors. A White Phosphorus grenade was use to mark the location of enemy force it could be used to start a fire. A nick name for this grenade is “Willie Pete”.

US_M18a1_claymore_mine

M18A1 Clymore anti-personnel mine: This mine would be placed 50 meters out to your front. The mine was concaved on one side and convexed on the other. On the convexed side were the words “Front Towards the Enemy”. The mine was made up of small (1/8 inch) steel balls and C-4 explosive. It came with a carrying case, a Plunger to detonate the mine and a roll of wire with a blasting cap. This mine was designed to hit anything from ground level to 6’6″ high and up to 50 meters away. The claymore was used mostly for night defense and for setting up ambushes.

Janus1 T 1484X1609

WO Jan D. Janus holding a 2.75mm Rocket 1968

2.75mm Rocket: Fired from pods attached under the short wing of a AH-1G helicopter or attached to the sides of a “B” or “C” model Huey.

Unsaved Project 1484X948

7.62mm mini-gun:  The min-gun was attached to the front underside of the nose on a AH-1G Cobra. The mini-gun can fire from 4,000 to 6,000 rounds per minute.

40mm Chunkier: This was a modified form of the M79 grenade launcher used on the Cobra and the “C” model.

I hope this has given you an insight into the weaponry that the 1st Squadron 9th Cavalry regiment used in Vietnam. Of course the most important piece of weaponry was the Troopers who served so proudly and use these weapons as needed.

If there are any questions about what I have presented or on another subject, please let me know. Is there a particular subject that you would like to learn about?

Always Honored and Never Forgotten

During the Month of September 1965 through 1972 the following Charlie Troopers gave the ultimate sacrifice. Let us honor them through our remembrance, our prayers and through our living our lives to the fullest because they can’t except through us.

William Craft             Huntington, WV    27 years old     Sep 25, 1967

Robert Fortin             Turton, SD             24 years old     Sep 13, 1971

Ronald Fulton            Walla Walla, WA    27 years old     Sep 24, 1969*1

Douglas Gossage       St. Louis, MO       19 years old      Sep 26, 1968

Richard Henrey         Solvang, CA          25 years old      Sep 25, 1967

Louis Porrazzo          Boston, MA           24 years old      Sep 24, 1967*2

John States                Baltimore, MD       26 years old     Sep 26, 1968

John Wallace             Neosho. MO          24 years old     Sep 26, 1968

Cordis White             Lamar, MO            19 years old     Sep 18, 1969

James Wise                Pittsburg, PA         20 years old     Sep 16, 1967

*1 Killed in Action on 2nd tour with 229 AVN

*2 Killed in Action after transfer to B Troop.

As long as we take the time to honor them, they will never be forgotten.

Have a great month.

Charlie Troop Gold Star Family News Letter #2

October 1, 2014

I hope this News Letter finds everyone doing well. July 3, 1965 the 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment left Fort Benning, Georgia for Vietnam. On July 3, 2015 we will celebrate the 50th Anniversary of their deployment. Charlie Troop will hold a Reunion starting on the 1st of July. It will be held the 1st, 2nd and 3rd. On the 1st , we will have a dinner to honor those men to include all of our Brothers who did not come back to join their families. Each of you are invited to attend. Charlie Troop will pay for your dinner that night. I will just need to know if you are planning on attending. On the 2nd , we will make a trip over to the Infantry Museum in Columbus, Georgia. On the 3rd , a special ceremony will be conducted on Ft. Benning’s Doughboy Field. This is the exact place the ceremony was held before the departure 50 years earlier.

I had said that I would get members of Charlie Troop to write about their duties in Vietnam. In this News Letter I will tell you what the average Infantryman did. Next month, I will get either a Crew Chief, a Door Gunner or a Pilot to talk about their duties. With each description, I will also include a story about a day in the life of that position.

The Blue Platoon (Infantry) was made up of: 1 Platoon Leader (Officer) , 1 Platoon Sergeant (Senior NCO), (when possible which was very rarely) 4 Squad Leaders. Each squad (once again when possible) had 10 men. In Charlie Troop, we were normally down to three Squads with about 7 men in each.

In the field, Platoon Leader was the man in Charge. The Platoon Sergeant was normally put in charge back at base camp. When a mission would come down the Platoon Leader would go to the Tactical (TOC) Operation Center and receive the mission. He would then decide whether that mission required the whole platoon or just a squad or two. He would decide on how he wanted to accomplish the mission. He would then make up an Operations (OP Order) Order. He would call for his Platoon Sergeant and the Squad Leaders. He would present the OP Order to the Squad Leaders telling each Squad Leader what his squad was responsible for in order to accomplish the overall platoon mission. The Squad Leaders would then give an Op Order to their Squad. The Op Order that the Squad Leaders would give to their Squad would be different than the one given to them by the Platoon Leader because the Platoon Leader would give an Op Order as to what the Platoon was going to do and how. The Op Order the Squad leader gave would be what that squad was going to do as part of the overall mission. Say the Platoon was to pull an ambush. The 1st Squad may be given the mission of being on the left flank of the platoon and would be responsible for initiating the ambush. . The 2nd Squad may be held in reserved and also have the responsibility to secure any prisoners. The 3rd Squad may be on the right of the 1st Squad with the responsibility of placing Claymore mines out front. Each Squad needed to know what it was going to do. The Squad Leader would also tell his men where he wanted the machine gun placed and would give each man his firing zone so that all terrain would be covered with accurate fire. Other things would also be in the Op Order but I am sure you can see that things can get complicated.

A Rifleman would carry an M16A1 rifle. An M16A1 rifle could be set to fire one round at a time or with the flip of a switch it could fire fully automatic. We use to call firing on full automatic “Rock and Roll”. Now this Rifleman would also carry 20 or more magazines of M16A1 ammunition, 4 fragmentation hand Grenades, a couple of Smoke Grenades, a Claymore Mine, a Gas Mask, and a 100 or 200 rounds of M60 ammunition. The machine gunner was normally place at one end or the other of the squad.

A Grenadier would carry an M79 Grenade Launcher and 20 or more M79 rounds. He would also carry a 45 caliber pistol. When the M16/M79 Over/Under came along they nor longer carried the 45 pistol instead they carried M16 ammunition. The would also carry their Gas mask and 4 Fragmentation grenades.

The Machine gunner would carry the M60 machine gun along with a lot of M60 ammunition, a gas mask, fragmentation grenades and a spare barrel for the M60 and 200 rounds of M60 ammunition.

The Radio Telephone Operator (RTO) carried a AN-PRC 25 radio on his back, his M16, 20-30 magazines of M16 Ammo, 4 Fragmentation Grenades, 6-8 smoke grenades of various colors, and gas mask. At the platoon level the RTO would have his radio tuned to talk to the helicopters above. He would also be able to change frequencies so he could talk to the squads. The squad RTO would have his radio set to a frequency where he could talk to the other squads. The Platoon Leader would normally position himself with a squad so he could quickly talk to the squad ( using the squad radio) and with the helicopters above.

The Platoon Medic was always near the Platoon Leader and would move from injured man to injured man. Many times this meant exposing himself to hostile fire. He carried basic life saving necessities.

The Blue Platoon had many missions. Here are a few. Recon by ground: If another unit thought they saw something or if one of our Pink Teams thought they saw something the Blues would be flown out near that position and would dismount and search the area by foot. Helicopter down: If one of our helicopters got shot down or had a mechanical problem the Blues would be flown out and dismounted to provide security for the helicopter and crew or to help in the extraction of the crew.  Support of Jets: If a Bomb run was to be made, many times the Blues would fly around until the bombing mission was over incase the bomber was to be shot down and then they would once again go in to secure the crew. Other  missions would also include aiding in the extraction of the Long Range Recon (LLRP) Patrol. The LLRP was a five to six man team that would go out on their own to secure information about the enemy. Many times they would be required to fire upon the enemy and need to be extracted. We would also pulled a Blocking Force mission. This is where we would be set up at a certain location, say the end of a village. Another force would come through the village and if any enemy force tried to escape it was our mission to stop them by blocking their escape route.

Hopefully this will give you a basic understanding of what an infantryman did in Vietnam.

On my blog at www.patrickbieneman.wordpress.com there is a story on “Jim Hohman – Battle of Hoa Tan”. This is an excellent article to read. It not only tells you what the infantry man did but it tells who the Red, White and Blue all work together during the most trying of times.

Once again, if you have any questions please email me or call me at 859-771-6342.

  

Always Honored and Never Forgotten

During the Month of October, 1965 to 1972 the following Charlie Troopers gave the Ultimate Sacrifice. Let us honor them with our Remembrance, Thanks and by living our lives to the fullest because they can’t except through us.

Rae Bailey:               Clemons, NY                18 years old         KIA: October 18, 1970

David Bryant:           Warner-Robbins,GA     21 years old         KIA: October 19, 1970*

William Cahill:         Havermill, MA              21 years old         KIA: October 18, 1970

Roger Carroll:           Avoca, Iowa                  21 years old         KIA: October 30, 1970

Charles De Amaral: Carmel, CA                   34 years old         KIA: October 4, 1965

Willie Green:             Little Rock, Ar             20 years old          KIA: October 3, 1967

John Musgrove         Eugene. OR                  28 years old         KIA: October 4, 1965

Douglas Strait            Moses Lake, WA          20 years old         KIA: October 18, 1970

* David was less than a week away from his DEROS when his best friend Rae Bailey’s helicopter was shot down. He volunteered to go out the next day to locate the craft. He said he knew that Rae’s family would want him home. David was shot while flying as an observer and died. It is this kind of dedication that makes us so proud to be Charlie Troopers .

Charlie Troop Gold Star Family News Letter # 3 November 1st, 2015

We have come up on another month. To begin with, I want to invite each and everyone of you to our Reunion beginning on June 30th 2015 and ending on July 3rd.  We will be honoring the Troopers who went to Vietnam in 1965. This is their 50th anniversary. I will send all of you an information sheet separately from this News Letter.

As I have said before, I will have someone from each of  different sections of Charlie Troop. Harry Reeg was a Crew Chief  on a Huey Helicopter. I know you will enjoy this. Once again. Any questions or suggestions please send an email to pcbnamin#verizon.net.

Charlie Troop – 1st of the 9th Cavalry – Bell UH-1 – Huey Crew Chief

That was me, Specialst-5 Harold E. Reeg during the summer of 1969 till February of 1970.

It was the third unit I served with in Vietnam and the one I am most proud.

I came to C-Troop in Phouc Vinh from  A Co. 228th ASHB 1st Cav in Bearcat (40 miles North of Saigon). I logged 2,200 hour as a crew chief in that Boeing Chinook CH-47 Company. Chinooks were a totally different type of helicopter than the Huey. We moved platoons and villages, pows and personnel,  internal and external cargo loads. This included artillery pieces, jeeps and equipment, fuel, food, water and ammo. When the Cav. moved South to III Corps, I helped put in every 1st Cav FSB (Fire Support Base). Knowing where they were located was a huge advantage, if ever I was shot down and stranded in the bush.

Most FSBs were located so that they could provide cover artillery fire to their sister FSBs in the event that our enemy, the NVA,  would try to overrun the base. They were fire support bases but we called them LZs (landing zones). They had names like LZ Buttons (Song Be) or LZ Grant – the water point for the entire Division, LZ Jamie and LZ Caroline to name a few. An LZ could also be on a road or in a stump field or even the side of a hill. This kind didn’t have names; they had map coordinates.

I was shot down twice by small arms while crewing Chinooks (Hooks – as they were called). We were lucky and they were soft crash landings. The second time was out in the bush. It was  halfway between Long Binh and Bien Hoa Airbase. B Troop 1st of the 9th got the scramble and secured our downed aircraft.

Their Blue (Aero-Rifle) Platoon was put in and set up a perimeter around our aircraft. A gunship was kept in orbit above. Man, I thought,  this is poetry in motion. They were professional and confident. They flat got the job done ! Techs were flown in, repairs were made and we were up and out of there. They impressed me so much that I wanted to be one of those guys. I transferred, I was successful. I became a Charlie Trooper (a Cavalier~) !

I received on the job training in Maintenance Platoon and learned the Bell UH-1 Huey. When an H-Model became available, I became the crew chief. Knowing the hanger and people who worked there was an huge advantage. I knew where everything was located and the procedures for getting parts and tools, information and help. As a crew chief I learned stuff like: Every single part on a helicopter has a service time limit in hours, after which , it must be replaced. I learned stuff like: If I dropped a nut or bolt and couldn’t find it… I had to continue looking until I did find it. A simple nut or bolt can jam the flight controls and cause a crash.

It’s what I loved about being an aircraft mechanic and crew chief. Everything had to be right on !

Maintenance on the Huey was a scheduled item. The PM (preventative maintenance) could become an exhausting thing. We didn’t have energy drinks in those days. (Chuckle) ! Some weeks we would log 25 flight hours in two days. After hours of flying , PM would have to be performed. Sometimes we got help from members of other air crews and sometimes the pilots would even roll up their sleeves and help us. Multiple helicopters could run out of time on the same day.

Every 25 hours the particle separators (air cleaners) would be removed and cleaned. The oil and hydraulic reservoir fluids were changed and the torques on certain bolts were checked. After 100 hours of flight, the aircraft went into the Maintenance Hanger. Inspection plates were removed and all the internal parts and the drive shafts and gear boxes were inspected. Every 100 hours the main drive shaft had to be packed. It is the shaft that couples the 1,400 horse power turbine engine to the transmission. It’s a job every crew chief hated. Inside of it were splines that had to be packed with grease. There could be not one air bubble in the grease and the grease had to be perfectly smooth and symmetrical. It was very tedious and took hours to accomplish. We were later issued Super Shafts that didn’t need to be packed, Thank God !

At 300 hours the turbine engine was pulled and what Maintenance called a “Hot End” was performed.  It was an overhaul. The every 300 hour inspections were more in depth and required more time to perform. During this time a crew chief would find some time to catch up on his letter writing, go to the Post Exchange and buy some needed items, get a haircut and stuff like that.

The crew chief’s thumb was always on the pulse of his helicopter though.

He knew what the maintenance crews and avionics guys were up to. He knew what parts were on order and when they were expected to be in stock. He even knew what the IA (aircraft inspector) was up to. He basically knew when his aircraft would be flyable.

Each helicopter had a log book that kept track of various items. For instance, the air crew members that day, the hours the day started with and ended with, fuel used and any items that needed maintenance or fixing. If a “Red X” appeared on any line, that task would need to be performed or a repair made. Then the corrected defect would need to be signed off by an IA (aircraft inspector) before it could be flown again.

The crew chief would be on those items like white on rice. The Crew Chief wanted his bird to be flyable at all times; lives depended on it.

It was a position of great responsibility but it was fun. I was able to work with people from all walks of life, from all over our country. Our motto was “We Can – We Will” ! These Cavalrymen lived up to it too. They would give you the shirt off their back, if need be. We were all in and all for one another !

What the crew chief wanted, more than anything, was to fly. Lives depended on the mission and the mission was the “Real Cav”, the air cavalry unit of the entire 1st Air Cavalry Division. With our Blue Platoon (Aero-Rifles – Infantrymen) we did reconnaissance, secured downed aircraft and extracted their air crews, reinforced line companies that were pinned down by the enemy. We also inserted and extracted L.L.R.P.s   (H Co. 75th Ranger Long Range Reconnaissance Patrols), inserted and extracted ARVN Ranger Teams, and Snipers as well. We were the eyes and ears….we found and fixed the position and strength of the enemy.

A typical day would begin early. Some days we would have a Troop formation but most times not. At Papa Victor (Phouc Vinh), we were housed in the rows of tin roofed cabins (Hooches). They had wooden floors with wood sides half way up and screen the rest of the way. Doors were located on both ends . We surrounded them with empty 55 gal. drums, refilled with sand. This provided some shelter from the frequent nightly enemy incoming rocket and mortar attacks. Sometimes our aircraft were evacuated to Bien Hoa Airbase or LZ Buttons  to avoid shrapnel damage.

At our hooch, we dug in. A bunker was built outside the back door for protection from the incoming fire.  The most I ever counted was 38 hits in our company area.

We’d sleep in bunk beds covered by mosquito netting and we’d use our poncho liner for a security blanket. In the morning we would awake very early, get dressed by putting our Nomex (fire retardant) flight fatigues and boots on. If we were lucky, the night before and we didn’t get back so late that there was no water left in our shower, we were able to get one. We’d shave, brush teeth and then eat breakfast in our Mess Hall.

It was then AO (Area Of Operations) time. We’d then go to the flight line and preflight the aircraft. Sometimes the bird  was ready to go already. We’d check all the fluid levels and inspect the control surfaces and look for any damage that may have occurred. Washing the windshields and chin bubbles was an ongoing thing. If they got too buggy, they were difficult to clean. The gunner would get the water and more ammo if needed, I would get a case of C-rations. The M-60’s machine guns were clean and ready, always. This was the Door Gunner’s job and he flew the right door. I flew the left door gun.

We didn’t use pintle mounts for the machine guns. We held them across our laps. We could fire them at every angle, even through the skids if need be.  I carried a hunting knife, a 45 caliber pistol, a M-16 rifle with 10 magazines in bandoliers and 3,000 rounds of 7.62 x 39mm ammo for each M-60 machine gun. On an average each gun would use about 2,500 rounds per day. The poles on each side of the aircraft carried quite a few smoke grenades in assorted colors (red, green, yellow, or violet). They were used for marking LZs & PZs (Landing or Pick Up Zones) and marking enemy positions.

When ready for flight, the crew chief would unleash the main rotor blade from its tie down on the tail hook. He’d be wearing his chest protector (Chicken Plate = Body Armor) and flak jacket. His flight helmet would be plugged into the intercom. He will help seat belt the pilot into the left seat while the gunner does the same for the co-pilot. He would then stand out in front of the craft and observe that everything is clear of the Main and Tail Rotors. He then informs the pilot, “Clear To Crank , Sir”! The starter is engaged and the screeching , whirring and thumping begins as the engine and rotors come to life and operating temperature. He then takes his place in the door and attaches his monkey strap and loads his gun. A monkey strap is a harness belt that will hold him, in case he falls out of the helicopter.

The tail rotor was mounted on the left side and we were always keen  to prevent someone from walking into it, when we were cranked.

The Huey pops up into a 3 foot hover and leaves it’s revetment. It turns and moves up the flight line to the loading zone and we pick up The Blues , The LRRPs or to just plain taxi for departure.

Our CAs (combat assaults) were different from regular aviation companies.  They were usually company sized lifts with a lot more aircraft. They received an Artillery Barrage followed by a round of white phosphorus (nicknamed Wilson Pickett or Willy Pete). It would produce very white smoke. This was the signal that the barrage had stopped. Their gunships would further soften the LZ and then the lifts could come in and off-load their troops.

We could normally do our CAs  like that, but not always. Our White Platoon (Aero Scouts) would have reconned the area and Red Platoon (Gunships) would take out the tree lines on the sides of our LZ. Many times though, Combat Lift Platoon with the Blues on board would circle the LZ from orbit. Each bird would then in turn, spiral in, off-load it’s squad and then come back up. Each Lift Bird would be providing cover fire if needed, while in orbit above the LZ. It was magnificent; we covered each other!

Sometimes a CA would come in the form of a “Scramble”. A radio call would come in to our TOC (Tactical Operations Center) and it would be a distress call. An aircraft was down ( many times it was our own), a LRRP Team was in contact with the enemy and needed immediate extraction, or a line company may be pinned down and running low on ammo or be in danger of being overrun. The radio operator would trigger a siren that would sound throughout our troop area. Since we were the quick reaction force, we responded extremely fast. Every trooper would drop whatever he was doing and all aircraft would be launched as quickly as possible.

When we flew with a full Combat Lift Flight of five Hueys, it was in one of three formations. Trail Formation which was in a line and staggered upward a little bit (10′). Echelon Left or Echelon Right Formation which was shaped like a half “V” and staggered to one side or the other from the center. We cruised at 1,500′ or at tree top level depending on the operation of the day. A helicopter is hard to hit either way at those altitudes. UH-1H version of the Huey uses a 1,400 shp Textron Lycoming T53-L-13 turbo shaft engine. It has a maximum cruise speed of 120 knots with a range of 276 nautical miles. Why is the speed indicated in knots instead of mph. (miles Per hour) ?  Because upper winds currents  are indicated in knots and also the early aviators were using nautical maps, instead of aeronautical charts. In any event, knots are a measurement of nautical miles whereas a mile per hour is a statute mile. A nautical mile is 6,000 feet while a statute mile is 5,280 feet. 120 Knots is 138 mph. Normally we didn’t fly flat out like that. Even at 100 mph., it is very windy in the back seat. The view made up for it though.

While in flight, another full time job of the crew chief and gunner was to give our pilots a heads up on the location of other aircraft, through their helmet intercoms. We would also clear them for take offs and landings with a Clear Left or Clear Right through the mic. On my bird (helicopter) the gunner and I would take turns refueling.

7,013 Huey’s served in Vietnam.  3,305 were destroyed in combat.  1,074 Pilots were KIA and 1,103 Air Crewmen were also KIA. If my stats are correct, who would guess that it’s more dangerous to be a crewman than a pilot?

Sergeant Patrick Bieneman wanted me to write an article about what my job as a crew chief was. It was really hard to just write about that job without writing about the whole Troop. I am a lucky guy and I am truly grateful for the men who trained me, protected me and shared their lives with me. I would never leave any man behind and will never let our POWs nor the loss of my Vietnam brothers be forgotten.

Harry Reeg

Ocala, Florida

(352) 209-2773

Cavalier446@yahoo.com

Charlie Troop 1/9 Cavalry Gold Star News letter #6

Welcome to 2015. In a celebratory way this will be a good and bad year. Yes, June 30 – July 3, 2015 we will be honoring those Brave men who left Ft. Benning, Georgia in August 1965 to go to Vietnam. It is their 50th Anniversary. We will be holding a Banquet on the 1st of July to honor all of the men who went to Vietnam with Charlie Troop and those who were assigned to Charlie Troop on or before the 31st of December 1965. We have several special honors scheduled for that night. We will honor the wives of these men. We will also be honoring all of Our Gold Star Family members who come to the Reunion.

It is a bad/sad year for many of you as this will also be the 50th Anniversary your Father, Brother, or Uncle being Killed In Action. Many of you were very young when this happened and some of you weren’t even born yet. Each and every one of you has known the feeling of having a void in your life. A father is suppose to hold you in his strong arms. He is to
give you guidance as you grow. He is suppose to walk you down the aisle. Big Brothers are suppose to stand up and protect you from Bullies. He is suppose to teach you how to get away with things so your parents can’t catch you.

I can not replace these things for you. I can not make up for them. I will
not tell you that these things are not important. I will not tell you that you shouldn’t feel them. I will not try to “make it better” by saying something foolish as “just remember he died Bravely so we can all be free”. What I will say is, that your Father, Brother or Uncle would rather be with you here today in person than just in spirit. Your loved one loved you unquestionably.

All I can do is try to get you to talk to each other. Realize that many of you have been down the same road in life. Talk about you trials in life. Many of you have grown up thinking there were no others in your position. You never had anyone that went through the same experience talk to you. You have that opportunity now. Rejoice in it. At one of my first reunions (one in which I sponsored ) a wife took my wife off to the side and said “I never had anyone to talk about what I was going through. No one from our small community had gone to Vietnam. My husband was so different when he came back. He was not the same man”. “I am so thankful for this reunion and the opportunity to talk to someone who has gone through the same thing. This, of course, was their first reunion and they have not missed one since.

This year I was able to make contact with or was contacted by four new Charlie Troop Gold Star Family members. Some I was able to put in touch with men who knew their loved one. For the majority of them this has brought new found love for their loved one as it has taken some of the mystery out of “Was I ever on his mind? Did he ever talk about his family?”

I will close this short News Letter out by saying that Charlie Troop 1st Squadron 9th Cavalry Regiment is truly a Family of Brothers and Sisters. You, each of our Gold Star Family Members, are part of that family. If I can do anything to assist any of you find out more about your loved one please contact me. I have contact with Brothers from every year we were in Vietnam. Let us help you.

In Loving memory:
This is a list of Our Brothers who Gave Their All during the Month of January 1966-1971:

Anthony Battel Oradell, NJ January 28, 1970
William Geis Evergreen Park, IL January 28, 1970
Harvey Howe Jr Muncie, IN January 28, 1967
Michael Hunter Ann Arbor, MI January 28, 1970
Joe Keifer Walnut Grove, AR January 4, 1967
LeRoy Peagler Philadelphia, PA January 27, 1967
Gregory Peffer North Aurora, IL January 22, 1971
Rudolf Schrader Lantana, FL January 23, 1968
James Whitmore St. Petersburg, FL January 4, 1970
Waldo Williams Rockwell City, IA January 4, 1970
Richard Dornellas Pensacola, FL January 27, 1970

Gold Star Family Newsletter # 9

I would like to take this opportunity to try and explain the “Healing Power” of a Reunion.

The first of the Charlie Troopers to go to Vietnam, departed 50th years ago this year. Over the next almost seven years, hundreds of more men followed. We lost many of “Our Brothers” your “Fathers or Brothers” during this time. You will not find one Charlie Trooper who does not shed a tear at one time or another every year for these “Brave Men”.

Friendships were formed between men in Vietnam. More importantly, a bond was formed between all men who served in Charlie Troop whether together or at different times. Yet for many the thought of getting back together is frightening.

Why? For many, it is the fear of bringing up old painful memories. For others, it is that they are afraid that what they remember may not be the same thing someone remembers.

I know the first reunion I made my wife, Carol, kept reminding me to understand that others may not remember things the same as I did. She also pointed out that this did not mean they were wrong or that I was wrong. Our minds do all they can to protect us. I tell everyone that I can only remember 15 – 20 days of my time in Vietnam. This is a fact. Someone will say “Do you remember when we” and I’ll say no.

Reunions that are held correctly are meant to heal. This year’s reunion is no different. On the 1st of July, we will be holding a “Special” ceremony behind the National Infantry Museum to “Honor Our Fallen Brothers” your Fathers and Brothers. The Museum is the final resting place for a High Quality “Vietnam Wall”. In front of the Wall, are paver blocks. Two blocks have been purchased to “Honor” all Charlie Troopers and a special one to “Honor Our Fallen Brothers”. These block will be in place in time for our ceremony. Part of the ceremony will be the “Reading of the Names” of all of “Our Fallen Brothers”. These names will be read by some of the wives of Charlie Troopers as it seems that most Charlie Troopers can not make it through the readings without true emotions coming out.
The ceremony will be done with all honors.

Many of you have never had the opportunity to meet “face to face” with either the men who served with your loved one or with other Gold Star Family members. I encourage you to take this opportunity. At his reunion so far we have two or three Gold Star Families being represented. We have a total of 5 – 6 members attending.

All Charlie Troopers look forward to meeting each of you. Your presence will not only benefit you but it will be beneficial to each of us.

God Bless each of you.

The following is a list of Our Brothers who Gave Their All during the month of April 1966-1972:

John Jelich (Ctrp 68-69) KIA April 1, 1972 on 2nd tour D229 Scouts

Earl Grove KIA April 10, 1967

Richard Noyola KIA April 11, 1966

Alton Roberts KIA April 13, 1971

Aways Honored and Never Forgotten

Gold Star Family News Letter for the month of May consisted of a story on this Blog by Paul Hart. It also contained the following:

Our Fallen Brothers who “Gave their All” during the month of May 1966-1972. “Always Remembered and Never Forgotten”:

Danny Bowers   KIA May 2, 1970
LeLand Chestnut KIA May 10,1970
David Combs KIA May 27, 1970
Thomas Koch KIA May 28, 1966
Gary McKiddy KIA May 6, 1970
James Rickerson KIA May 31, 1967
George Slye KIA May 2, 1970 Trans to Atrp
Tommy Whiddon KIA May 6, 1970

We must live our lives to the fullest in order to truly honor our Brothers.

 

Gold Star News Letter Number 10

Last month I did not post a GSF News letter. I was conducting a 50th Anniversary Reunion for the men who went to Vietnam in 1965. We celebrated not only with Charlie Troopers but with Troopers from all Troops. We have two Gold Star Families represented. Teri and Joe Nave, Daughter and Son or Major Billy J. Nave along with Diane Walton-Gleaton, Danny Walton and Kathleen Walton, Daughters and Son of SP/5 Louis Walton. Both Major Nave and SP/5 Walton were killed in the same helicopter crash the day they were leaving base camp to return home after the completion of their Tour of Duty. Along with these two brave men, Captain Richard Perrin and SP/4 Frank Gonderman were also Killed.

The reunion was a huge success. We held a Ceremony at the Vietnam Wall at the museum. Ladies from Charlie Troop read the names of all of our Fallen Brothers as well as names of many of the Fallen from the other Troops. The Boy Scouts from Troop 128 Smiths Station, Alabama Posted the “Colors” for us. We also had a “21 Gun Salute” and a Bugler who played “TAPS”. We honored Our Gold Star Family Members with a Plaque of “To Honor our Fallen Brothers”. Each Trooper and Gold Star Family Member was presented with a Yellow/Gold Rose with a black Ribbon to lay at the foot of the Wall at the bottom edge of their Family Member/ Comrade(s).

That afternoon, we held the 50th Anniversary Ceremony. I called each ‘65 Trooper up front to be presented a Certificate of Recognition, a Souvenir Coin, a DVD of all of the pictures of them that I could get may hands on and a DVD of Gary Sinise reading their Certificate to them. These items were also presented to Mrs. Lou Kidd, widow of Captain James Kidd, Our Gold Star Family members and to Elizabeth Wright daughter of Larry Wright who was a 65 Trooper in Alpha Troop and a mainstay in the Bullwhip Organization. We also presented each of the Boy Scouts and the Troop overall a certificate. We also presented Tiffany Hoffmann a Hummel Figurine “Soldier Boy” for all of the hard work she did to make our Ceremony at the Wall the success it was.

We had a “Meet and Greet” on June 30th. Jennifer Duncan, a local celebrity, donated two hours of her time to play 60’s music for us for one hour and then sing for us for another hour. Jennifer had Troopers and their wives or family members up on the floor dancing to include doing the Twist. Before Jennifer began to sing “These Boots are Made for Walking”, I had Tom Betts and Gordon Jones join her. Gordon drove Ms. Sinatra around the 1st Cavalry area for three days and Tom said that that song made him feel great for a long time. Jennifer also had Mrs. Lou Kidd ( cane and all), Mrs. Wendy Van Sant and Mrs Diana Fulford ( Daughter of Don Coshey) sing with her as she sang, “Stop in the Name of Love”.

I wish more of our Gold Star Family Members could have made this reunion. Maybe next year some of you can. We will be holding it in Branson, Missouri in October. The actual dates have not been set yet.

Next month I will hopefully have another Trooper tell what his duties were in Vietnam.

 

The following Charlie Troopers were Killed in Action during the month of August 1965 to 1972.

Tony Bakke Aug 8, 1966

John Becker Aug 16, 1966

Honorio Fidel Aug 9, 1967

David Kink Aug 3, 1969

Richard Meehen Aug 8, 1966

Ray Moran Jr Aug , 9, 1967

Leslie Nickles Aug, 8, 1966

Francis Rochkes Aug 9, 1967

Gerald Simons Aug 8, 1966

Charles Sonnkalb Jr Aug 16, 1968

Robert Thompson Aug 9, 1967

Always Honored and Never Forgotten

September 1, 2015

Gold Star Family News letter #11

I have decided to try and tell you why we Charlie Troopers Honor your loved ones. To do this, I must start by talking about “Blue Star Mothers”, “Gold Star Mothers” and the “Gold Star Families”.

For the longest time, it seems that the Government only thought that Mothers needed the comfort. So when a Soldier went to war the mother was given a “Blue Star” to hang in her window. If the Soldier was “Killed In Action”, she was given a Gold Star. History tells us that at least one Mothers had as many as 5 Gold Stars hanging in her window.

It wasn’t until more recently that the Government realized that Family members of “Our Fallen Heroes” needed to be able to talk to other Families that have lost their Father, Mothers, brother, sister, and even Uncles.

For many of the Family members, PTSD, is a factor. It is a shame that the government does not give you the same respect that they give to the Military member who has PTSD. Many of you never had the chance to meet your Father or were not old enough to remember him.

We, Charlie Troopers, suffered great loses when these Brave Men were Killed. These were our Brothers. Some were not with us long before they were killed. In a war environment it doesn’t take long to form a Brotherhood. The first mission whether it was flying or on the ground was enough time. We talk about our Love for each other. This extends to Our Fallen Brothers. The longer the time we got to spend with each other the closer the bonds became. Sometimes the lost was felt more in one section or another but in most cases it was a Troop “Family” loss. A pilot or Door Gunner may have been in the Scout Platoon, however. The loss was felt just as strongly in the Blues because we counted on these Brave men to keep a watch out for us. A loss in the Blues was felt just as hard in the Red Platoon because when a Red Bird went down it was the Blues who went out, secured the bird, and extracted the crew.

I will admit that it wasn’t until I became a member of the old “Bullwhip Squadron” association that I really realized that these Brave men had sons, daughters, brothers and sisters. It was only then that I realized many of you never knew your Father or Brother. It was then that I decided that I wanted to do something about it. The more I got into trying to reunite Charlie Troopers, the more I decided I needed to try and get each of you with Julie Kink Sprayberry. Julie, as most of you know, lost her Brother in Vietnam. In her search to find answers about him, she reached out to various organizations and then to Charlie Troopers. That is why when I find a Gold Star Family member I always try to put them in touch with Julie. She is a great support for you. I also try to put you in contact with any Charlie Trooper who served with your Father or Brother. Sometimes I even go to other units if your Father or Brother was transferred.

At every Reunion, starting with the old “Bullwhip Squadron” we always honored or Fallen Brothers. Today, we not only Honor Our Fallen Brothers but we also honor you the Gold Star Family members that attend that reunion.

Each and everyone of you are part of “Our Family” just as your Father or Brother is. Yes, I said is because they will “Never be Forgotten”.

Make sure you tell Your family about your Dad or Brother. You may have never met him or maybe you can’t remember him but he died doing what his Country had asked of him. Most of the time he was Killed trying to protect his Brothers. The Army was his job but not his life. I can guarantee you he never forgot you. I can bet you that he talked about you often while he was in Vietnam. I can bet you he talked about holding you in his arms if he was your father or giving you a big bear hug if he was your brother. If you haven’t gotten in contact with other Charlie Troopers who knew your Father or Brother let me help you do that. You can contact me by replying to this email or by calling me at 859-771-6342.

God Bless each and everyone of you.

The following is a list of Our Fallen Brothers who were Killed In Action during the month of September 1965-1971. We salute and Honor each one. Always Remembered and Never Forgotten.

I have decided to change the way I post our Fallen Brothers. I will post by the earliest date and I will group them if they way together when they died.

James D. Wise KIA: Sep 16, 1967 Blues

Louis E. Porrazzo KIA: Sep 27, 1967* Pilot

Douglas Gossage KIA: Sep 26, 1968 Scout Crew Cheif

John W. States KIA: Sep 26, 1968 Scout Observer

John C. Wallace KIA: Sep 26, 1968 Scout Pilot

Cordis R. White KIA: Sep 18, 1969 Blues

Ronald J. Fulton KIA: Sep 24, 1969 ** Lift Pilot

Robert G. Fortin KIA: Sep 12, 1971 Scout Pilot

*Louis Porazzo had been reassigned to Bravo Troop prior to his death.

** On 2nd tour with 25th AVN

 

 

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