1st Aviation Brigade LOGO 52 Combat Avaition Battalion
Gladiators - Cougars » 1967 - 1973
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57th Aviation Company

Gladiator

In 1966, the 57th Aviation Co., an air mobile fixed wing company flying Caribou's went to war in Vietnam. Upon arrival shortly after the first of the year, the 57th and its maintenance support unit, the 138th Transportation Detachment were assigned to the 14th Aviation Battalion at Nha Trang. The first few days were difficult as few airplanes were flyable and living conditions that first month were primitive. The company achieved an operational status on 16 January and began flying an average of 1500/55 hours a month/day. The assigned mission of the 57th was to provide airlift of supplies and personnel as directed by the Army. To accomplish this, ten CU-26 aircraft were made available daily. During the year, the 57th flew missions from Ca Mau in the southern most Delta to Dung Hoa on the DMZ, hauling ammo, food, supplies, and troops. In the fall, the 57th took part in a unique assimilation program, Operation "Red Leaf". This was the transfer of the CU-26 Caribous aircraft from the Army to the Air Force. As Air Force personnel filled the ranks in August through December, the remaining members of the 57th trained those men to take over the mission. When the Air Force took control 1 Jan 67, the 57th Aviation Co. returned to the United States. For them, the war was over. The 57th was inactivated. but not for long

57th Assault Helicopter Company


Gladiator

On 10 February 1967, the 57th AHC was reorganized from an Airmobile Fixed Wing Company to an Assault Helicopter Company. October 1967 saw the 57th deployed to Vietnam and by the end of December it was operating from its new home at Kontum in Northwest II Corps. The 57th's primary mission was to provide tactical air mobility of combat troops, supplies, equipment, and aerial fire support within the II Corps area. Various units who received support from the 57th include the 5th Special Forces Group, (ABN), 4th Infantry Division, 1st Field Forces, and MACV and ARVN units. Upon arriving at Kontum, the 57th set up camp at the airfield formerly used by the 1st Cav. The construction of permanent structures was foremost in everyones's mind and the nickname of "Rocket City" given to Kontum gave everybody incentive to build bunkers and a strong defensive perimeter. During the seige of Dak To, in November 1967, the 57th proved itself to be combat ready and capable of handling any mission assigned to it. More 1967



1968 saw the Tet offensive hit Kontum. Other than suffering an initial sapper attack on 10 January the 57th AHC kept the compound secured from all ground attacks. Kontum City itself was overrun and at the end of a six day battle a body count revealed 785 NVA troops dead. During the remainder of the year normal missions were carried out in such a manner which gave recognition to the 57th as a highly professional unit ready to take any task. The units motto of "Try Us" came into being with everybody giving their utmost for any unit supported by the 57th. More 1968



CCC

1969 saw the 57th flying FOB II in support of the 5th Special Forces Group (ABN), out of Kontum. This is a highly classified mission with a normal rotation of four months for each unit assigned to it, but the 57th AHC did such an outstanding job with a minimal loss of personnel and equipment that it was put on an indefinite status. The seige of Ben Het began in June with the 57th playing a significant role in supplying the battered camp and bravely making dustoffs under intensive ground and motar fire. More 1969



14 March 1970 saw the 57th pack it's bags and move to An Khe with it's new primary mission to support the 4th Infantry Division. In April the 57th was once again flying up near the tri-border area as the Special Forces camp of Dak Seang was under seige. After a month of fierce fighting the NVA retreated back into Laos, but thanks to emergency resupply by the 57th AHC and other aviation units in the 52nd Battalion the camp repelled all the ground attacks made by the NVA. May was the month when the 57th helped take the war to the NVA and VC as the Cambodian border was crossed. Although there wasn't much enemy contact after the initial insertion, the move was a success in that a great quantity of equipment was discovered and brought back into Vietnam. By the end of June the 57th AHC had helped bring back the 4th Division to An Khe. From June 70 through January 71 the 57th AHC was tasked with the primary mission of supporting and supplementing the 4th Division aviation assets. More 1970




Cougar

With the vast reduction in troop level in Vietnam, the 57th was soon returned to Pleiku where they could best support the various advisory groups in Pleiku and Kontum provinces. With the move to Camp Holloway the 57th assumed a daily committment of 12 UH1H and UHIC gunships. Six of the slicks were placed in direct support of Task Force II (FOB) and the remaining six supported Ranger Comnand, Pleiku Province, Kontum Province, 2nd Ranger Group, II Corp General Staff and Office of Highland Affairs. In May the 57th received their first AH1G gunships and became the second unit stationed at Camp Holloway with the highly manueverable aircraft. From the summer of 71 until March of 72 the 57th continued their rigorous mission supporting the II Corp Highlands. It was during this period of time the Cougar gunships and Cougar Nighthawk aircraft made their mark as a fighting force to be reckoned with. The FOB mission was very costly for the Gladiators in 1971. 3 men were killed in action and 11 were wounded. The experience gained from this mission was soon to be put to the test in the spring of 1972. More 1971




On 27 March 1972 a single UH1H was shot down and destroyed west of Kontum City. The aircraft commander and gunner lost their lives in what turned out to be the beginning of a fierce enemy offensive. The three months that followed were by far the most trying months for the 57th as the battle for Tan Cann, Kontum and the outlying fire bases raged at a murderous pace. The 57th played a most important part in the survival of the ground elements. During the next 90 days, 5 aircrafts were destroyed and 41 were damaged by hostile fire. Seven lives were lost and 17 men received injury due to enemy fire. Enemy losses are estimated at 500 KBA by the Cougar gunships. As the battle for Kontum City subsided in July the 57th was called to provide cover for and extract several hundred refugees from local base camps. Again braving hostile fire the Gladiators displayed their professionalism in the accomplishment of the mission. As September 1972 arrived the Gladiators continued to support all allied units in II Corp, South Vietnam. 1972 found the Gladiators of the 57th Aviation Company (Aslt Hel) still involved heavily in the struggle for freedom in II Corps, Republic of Vietnam. The company added to its already distinguished combat record during the spring offensive of 72 which they played a decisive role in preventing the fall of Kontum to the enemy. For the remainder of the year the Gladiators were called repeatedly into battle while the rest of the world talked of peace. Despite a withdrawal of supplies and replacements, the "Try Us" spirit of the company enabled them to complete every mission with outstanding results. More 1972



Soon after the cease-fire on January 28, 1973, the company strength was reduced considerably by the disbanding of the "Cougar" gun platoon. The unit then continued to reduce in personnel strength proportionate to the withdrawal of U.S. forces in Vietnam. With the arrival of the unit's final day, 9 Mar 73, personnel strength was at 30 officers and men who would leave Camp Holloway and start their return trip home together. In the little over two months the unit flew in 1973, they were the only aviation assets to provide daily support to the four Western Provinces of II Corps. More 1973