UNIT HISTORY 1968


JANUARY

The new year finds the 129th Bulldogs still supporting the Capitol Republic of Korea Infantry Division in the Qui Nhon area. Running direct combat support missions has given the Bite and Strikers a taste of just about every possible kind of combat flying.

During the month of January, 129th slicks flew 8,923 sorties in 1,179 hours carrying 15, 174 passengers and 8,206 tons of cargo. The cobra gunships of the 129th managed in the space of only this one month to carry 2,997 sorties in 383 hours, killing 154 of the enemy and depriving the Communists of 110 structures of various types.

While the numbers may not be very impressive, one has only to think of the monsoon weather involved and the rain and fog making flying just barely within safety limits. The nature of most of the LZ’s, pinnacles and confined areas definitely gave the Bulldogs the right to be proud of themselves.

FEBRUARY

The month of February got off to a good start with Operation Ho San Guin II. Lasting from 3 February to 16 February, the 129th worked in support of the 26th Regiment in the area between Tuy Hoa and Qui Nhon putting in Combat Assaults and supplying troops once in the field.

With direct combat support from the Bulldogs, the Tiger Division soldiers were able to rack up a score of 28 enemy dead. At the same time the ROK’s also captured 39 small arms. Through the whole operation, the Koreans lost 11 men.

As Ho San Guin II was completed, the 129th turned right around and walked into another operation, Dok Su Ri Maeng Ho 10 on February 17th. The operation lasted until the end of March and was a full division affair involving units from 1st Regiment, Cavalry Regiment and 26th Regiment.

During the Ho San Guin II and the first two weeks of Maeng Ho 10, including normal company missions, the Bite and Strikers’ slicks flew 9,307 sorties in 1881 hours carrying 19,312 passengers and 8,640 tons of cargo. The Cobras managed 2,997 sorties in 377 hours getting 48 KIA’s to their credit and destroying 81 structures. All told, it was a very productive month.

MARCH

The month of March found the 129th Assault Helicopter Company embroiled in Operation Dok Su Ri Haeng HO 10. Throughout the month, combat assaults, flares and cobra missions were flown with heavy regularity.

On the first of March, right in the middle of Maeng Ho 10 and just as the Communists’ TET offensive was beginning to reach its peak, Major Curtis Crouch turned over command of the 129th to Major Ronald Emery. With a very smooth transition, the company continued the operation and other company direct support missions.

As Operation Maeng Ho 10 drew to a close, the Koreans held an impressive score of 664 enemy dead, 57 prisoners, 248 captured weapons, and had lost 23 of their own men.

Throughout the month of March, the 129th slicks flew 11,744 sorties, carried 18,728 passengers and 1,412 tons of cargo utilizing 2176 hours of aircraft time. The Cobras working night missions, day fire missions and combat assault escort, had just as busy a month flying 3,263 sorties in 373 hours, showing 35 enemy KIA’s and 1 structures totally destroyed.

APRIL

April got off to a quiet start as the 129th went back to normal company support work, hauling water cans and C-rations to the permanent Korean positions around the area.

But after about a week of “rest and recuperation”, the Tiger Division soldiers again took to the field in Operation Dok Sa Ri Bunks 68-1. This was only a minor operation, however, involving the 8th Company of the CRID Cavalry Regiment. After six days the ROK’s final tally was 9 enemy KIA and two weapons captured.

Another week of light resupply and minot troop moves went by with everything quiet just before the storm. This time element from three regiments moved into the Delta area west of Qui Nhon. 24 ROK companies were involved in the lift and the 129th was forced to get help from other companies in the 17th Group.

Operation Maeng Ho 11 was a big sweep from Phu Cat Air Force Base all the way to the South China Sea. The Koreans burned as they went along and by the time the operation was over seven days later on the 27th of April, the Koreans had killed 201 Communists, captured 79 prisoners and captured 115 weapons and lost only 2 of their own men. A 100 to 1 kill ratio was the happy outcome.

In support of this operation and Dok Su Ri Bunke and including normal work loads, the slicks managed to carry 17,280 passengers and 1,388 tons of water, C-rations and ammunition. All of this was done in 11,405 sorties and 2,091 hours.

The cobra gunships had another big month flying 2,825 sorties and 318 hours to get 30 KIA’s to their credit and to destroy 175 structures.

As April drew to a close one very big event took place. April 30th, the first H-model Hueys arrived at Lane. Bulldogs 740 and 808 were the forerunners of what would eventually be a complete reequipping of both slick platoons. The new H-models differ from the UH-1D’s in power, primarily, although there are other minor modifications. The 129th was quite happy with their arrival.

MAY

The month of May consisted solely of normal daily missions for all regiments of the Capitol ROK Infantry Division. During the month, the Bulldogs managed to fly 10,498 sorties in 2,223 hours. 1,263 tons of cargo were delivered, as well as 16,715 passengers.

The Cobras during the month ran 2,680 sorties in 277 hours getting 22 enemy KIA’S and destroying 19 structures in various small fire missions.

Also, on the 12th of this month a new mission concept was instituted. Under the new Reaction Force System, each day one platoon will take normally scheduled missions such as Tiger wagon (the ROK Commanders’ personal aircraft), Command and Control ships for each of the three regiments and two or three resupply ships for each of the regiments.

The other of the two slick platoons is to be held in reserve for combat assaults, resupply of troops in the field and various other missions such as defoliation, Snoopy, VIP tours, liaison, etc.

It is a good system, giving each platoon every other day either a regular mission or a special slot in an orderly pool of available aircraft and crews. It eliminates confusion in emergency situations such as tactical emergency extractions or C/A’s.

It was on one of the reaction force C/A’s that W01 Roth, a 129th pilot was hit in the leg as he left an LZ on an extraction. He was the first pilot to be hit while in the 129th in almost a year.

JUNE

The month of June was again another rather quiet month for the 129th. This kind of month gave the 129th and its home, Lane Army Heliport, the reputation of the “In-country R&R Center”. June held no mortar attacks, no perimeter contact and no bullet holes in any ships.

On the 19th of June, the Koreans moved into the field once again on Operation Dok Su Ri Maeng Ho 12. This operation, involving 1st Regiment and Cavalry Regiment, took place in the mountains west of Phu Cat Air Force Base. Again, in order to move the large number of troops called for in the operation, the 129th called in outside help. Units from all over the II Corps responded and worked well with the 129th.

The troops were put into the field and the 129th settled back to normal work with additional aircraft being assigned the rather touchy job of resupplying the forward companies carrying water, G-rations and ammunition, as well as bringing out prisoners and captured equipment.

During the operation and on standard missions, the Bulldog slicks flew 9,968 sorties in 2,231 hours carrying 22,971 passengers and 907 tons of cargo. The Cobras managed 2,29 sorties in 369 hours getting credit for one KIA and 6 structures destroyed. Our men on the ground were moving too as W01 Johnson took over the Supply Room when CW2 Rivers went to Battalion as S-4.

JULY

July found the Bulldogs still working with the CRID on Operation Maeng Ho 12. For the first 19 days of the month, they continued small troop moves and confined area-pinnacle resupply.

On July 5th, the 129th Bite and Strikers celebrated their 3rd anniversary of the birth of the 129th at Fort Campbell, Kentucky in 1965. After a very big company party-cookout, the men hit the sack to get their rest for the next day’s flying. Around two o’clock in the morning, screams pierced the night air. Shamrock, the Battalion goat-type booby prize for accidents had given birth to a bouncing baby girl. Promptly named “Wobbly One”, she became the 129th’s sweetheart and began traveling Vietnam with her mother.

On the 19th of July as Maeng Ho 12 came to a close, the Koreans has tallied 304 enemy killed and 141 small arms and 14 crew served weapons captured. But, the Koreans lost 23 men and had another 46 sent to the hospital.

On July 30th the 129th moved south for Operation Hao San Jin III with the 26 Regiment of CRID.

During the tow operations and including normal support, the 129th slicks flew 9,342 sorties in 1,920 hours carrying 17,550 passengers and 1,028 tons of cargo. The Cobras managed 2,578 sorties in 270 hours getting 25 KIA’s and leveling ten structures.

July also saw the completion of a new seven bay hanger for the 129th AHC. Constructed with a cement floor, the walls are corrugated aluminum siding and the roof, also aluminum, is high enough to allow the ships with head and blades to be moved into the building.

At about the same time the maintenance hanger was completed, Lane Army Heliport got itself a new tower. Lifted onto its 75 foot legs by a CH-47 from the 196th AHC, the fully equipped tower is now regulating all Bulldog and other traffic in and out of Lane.

AUGUST

August got off to a rather interesting start as Major Ronald H. Emory turned over command of the 129th Assault Helicopter Company to Major Curtis R. Dassonville. The third Commanding Officer of the 129th this year, Major Dassonville effected a smooth changeover and Operation Hao San Jin III continued unaffected.

As Hao San Jin III came to a close, 22 KIA’s and 4 captured small arms were reported by 26th Regiment CRID.

Operation Bi Ho 16 came up next on 20 August yielding 3 KIA’s and 4 small arms captured. This 4-day operation was again in the 26th Regiment.

To close out the month, 26th Regiment went on the road for the third time in Operation Hao Sun Jin 3-3 starting on 22 August. As the month ended the troops were still in the field.

During the month of August the 129th slick platoons moved 17,091 passengers and 1,114 tons of cargo in 9,623 sorties in 1,872 hours. The Cobra gunships managed to tally 37 KIA’s in 2,607 sorties while flying 310 hours.

SEPTEMBER

September was a fast moving month for the 129th Assault Helicopter Company. On the 6th, a group of four Korean pilots arrived at Lane. Captains Han, Kwang Song, and Han came to the 129th for intensive training in tactics and advanced helicopter maneuvers.

The Koreans had been aviators in the Republic of Korea Army. They each had several thousand hours of fixed wing time and around five or ten years in the army. Our four guests aviators were part of a new program at 17th Group to augment the ROK Army’s Huey capability. They were given a 25-hour transition course at Nha Trang and once familiar with the aircraft, they were sent to us for 2 months OJT in confined areas, pinnacles, sling loads, and other normal field operations utilized by the 129th.

On the 12th of September, Captain E.W. Hallford took over the position of Company Executive Officer from Major Walter D. Marshall. He had flown UH-1D’s in the company for four months.

On 10 September an unnamed operation was begun in the 1st Regiment area. In the space of two days the ROK’s got 13 kills and captured six small arms and 35 CS gas grenades.

Slicks flew ,540 sorties in 1,872 hours carrying 17,091 passengers and 919 tons of cargo. Cobras flew 3,983 sorties in 274 hours getting 20 KIA’s and destroying one structure.

September also saw the departure of Aircraft No. 853, the last D-model in the 129th. We were now only equipped with H-Models.

OCTOBER

October saw the monsoons in full fury, though apparently the monsoons were rather gentle with us compared to past years. Several days the ships in all three platoons were grounded all day and on most days the fog would not lift until around 1000 hours.

Even when the fog cleared enough to take off, the day was spent low leveling under a 500 foot ceiling and dodging intermittent rain showers as they blew down the valleys from the west and north.

Often on resupply and combat assaults landing zones were obscured and the 129th Bite and Strikers had a particularly touchy situation to contend with.

On 3 October Cavalry Regiment of the CRID put in an unnamed C/A west of the Phu Cat AFB. After fighting rain and fog on the major lifts and on resupply, the operation was terminated on the 8th. Cavalry Regiment managed to get 21 KIA’s and capture 24 small arms and 6 CS grenades.

This month was a very bad month for the Bulldogs as a very heavy DEROS quickly drained the 129th of pilots, leaving us understaffed, 20 pilots short of full strength. Also, most of the Aircraft Commanders on hand were relatively new and terribly overworked. A 140 hour month was quite a normal thing. But even under these poor conditions, new AC’s in their first monsoon season and overworked crews, the 129th came through all right with no accidents and usually completed missions.

Dok Su Ri Bo Ho 17 was begun on the 15th of October and continued for five days until the 20th. The 129th Bulldogs braved enemy fire, an unusual occurrence in our area of operation, and heavy fog and rain to resupply troops in the Phu Cat Mountains north of Qui Nhon. The final extraction was pulled in a drizzle that kept the Cobra gunships IFR much of the time on station.

As a result, the Koreans scored 68 enemy KIA’s, 55 small arms and 9 CS grenades. Along with a letter of commendation, the 129th received from the Commander of First Regiment an AK 47 and captured hammer and sickle Communist flag as trophies and tokens of appreciation for good support service.

During October Bulldog slicks flew 7,734 sorties in 1,555 hours carrying 13,973 passengers and 8,336 tons of cargo. The Cobras managed 1,707 sorties in 210 hours getting only 1 KIA and destroying 13 enemy structures.

As the month closed, our first class of Korean officers completed their period of OJT and returned to the 11th ROK Aviation Company. Four new Korean trainees replaced them, Captains Hou, Cho, Kang, and Lee.

NOVEMBER

November saw a mass arrival of officers as about 20 new Warrants and Lieutenants brought the company back to full strength. But, while a welcome relief to our overworked pilots, the aircraft commanders were still working long hours which were made even tougher as they were forced to break in the new pilots who only flew abut every third day.

Operation Dok Su Ri Hwa Rang 6 was the first move of the month as the 26th Regiment moved into the field between Qui Nhon and Tuy Hoa for a total of 29 KIA’s and 9 captured small arms profit in the 3 day operation.

On the 13th 26th Regiment rearranged their men in Operation Dok Su Ri Ho San Jin 5 Ho. This time their score was 44 KIA’s, 16 small arms, and 100 hand grenades.

On the 18th of November, 3rd Battalion Cavalry Regiment started Operation Dok Su Ri Yul Pung 68-4 Ho southwest of Qui Nhon. In two days of jungle mop up work, they had 9 KIA’s and 11 small arms.

As this area was completed the 129th turned north to work with the 1st Regiment in Operation Dok Su Ri Hwa Rang 68-5 Ho. In seven days until 30 November, the Koreans only showed 2 KIA’s and 3 small arms for their trouble.

Dok Su Ri Jae Gu 166 Ho, run simultaneously 21 through 28 November by the other battalions of 1st Regiment, netted 28 KIA’s, 16 small arms and 17 hand grenades.

For all the operational activity during the month, because of monsoon weather the 129th had a rather light workload. Slicks flew 1,825 hours, 7,628 sorties carrying 14,272 passengers and 586 tons of cargo. Cobras flew 3,375 sorties and 312 hours scoring well with 34 KIA’s and 1 structure destroyed.

As November drew to a close, the 129th was still embroiled in Operation Dok Su Ri Ho Jun Jin 12 Ho in the 1st Regiment area.

DECEMBER

December began with troops already in the field. Operation Dok Su Ri Bo Ho Jun Jin 12 Ho was in progress. As the maneuver was completed on the 3rd of December, the ROK’s had accounted for 94 KIA’s and 47 small arms. It had taken 2nd Battalion, 1st Regiment just seven days.

The first of December saw a novel one day operation involving 1st Regiment’s 1st and 3rd Battalions. As the day drew to a close, the Koreans had 19 KIA’s and 8 small arms to show for Operation Dok Su Ri Jae Gu 17.

On four December, Dok Su Ri Bi Ho 18 Ho was started down in the 26th Regiment area northwest of Tuy Hoa. In 12 days, 79 KIA’s and 48 small arms were credited to the Koreans.

Dok Su Ri Hwa Rang 7 was next on the agenda as 26th Regiment rearranged its men. A three day operation lasting 9 through 12 December resulted in 9 KIA’s and 0 small arms.

22 December saw Operation Dok Su Ri Jae Gu 18 Ho make its first lift in the 1st Regiment area. Lasting 7 days, Jao Gu 18 Ho tallied 19 KIA’s and 9 captured small arms.

As the month drew to a close, Dok Su Ri Bun Gae 68-5 Ho was still going on in the 26th Regiment area. When it finally ended on 15 January 1969, the ROK’s would eventually count 170 KIA’s and 246 small arms and 112 hand grenades to the credit of 3rd Battalion Cavalry Regiment, 1st Battalion 1st Regiment and 1st Battalion 26th Regiment.

During December, with marginal weather and all the Christmas activities, the Bulldog slicks still managed to fly 9,547 sorties in 2,098 hours carrying 17,147 passengers and 743 tons of cargo. The gunships succeeded in flying 3,983 sorties in 407 hours to account for 15 enemy dead.

Early in December, the Bulldogs completed a long awaited structure. A combination volleyball-basketball court was completed and the “fun in the sun” crowd started playing games, usually between the officers and the EM.

As the Christmas season rolled around, plans were formulated for seeing the Bob Hope Show when it arrived at the Phu Cat Air Force Base. Most missions were canceled although the reaction force was still maintained on standby, The 196 Flippers lifted several ship loads of our man to the air base.

Also, Flippers worked with the 129th on Operation Christmas Tree, where tow CH-47′S, a UH-1H control ship and one gun team were sent out on a combat assault to bring back Christmas trees for the post chapel and various orderly rooms around post.

But the 129th GI’s still believe Christmas is to be shared, so the year of 1968 was climaxed when children from the Phu Cat Orphanage were brought to Lane for Christmas Dinner and a distribution of presents donated by all the men of the 129th. After the festivities, the boys and girls were given a tour of the Bulldogs’ home.

1968 had a Merry Christmas to end a very good year.

The primary mission of the 129th Assault Helicopter Company is to provide direct combat support to the Capitol Republic of Korea Infantry Division in connection with counter insurgency operations against hostile forces in the Republic of Viet Nam.

The Capitol ROK Division mission is to secure and keep open the segment of Highway 1 from the southern border of Tuy An province to the northern side of the Phu Cat Mountains. To do this they must control an extensive area of the central highlands from Qui Nhon to the Au Kho Pass.

Providing air mobility to the Korean Division is more than just moving troops. It includes constant resupply work, Chemical, Biological, Radiological Warfare, reconnaissance, courier, medical evacuation, and liaison work with surrounding units.

Unit organization of the 129th Assault Helicopter Company consists of Headquarters and Service Platoon, 2 airlift platoons, one armed platoon and a maintenance platoon.

Attached to the 129th is the 394th Transportation Detachment (Field Maintenance) and the 296th Signal Detachment (Avionics).

Unit Commanders during 1968 were Major Curtis R. Crouch, Major Ronald Emery and Major Curtis R. Dassonville.