OPERATION 7-67 Code name SAMURAI (Happy Valley)
Inclosure 3: (Aviation Support (281st AHC) to After Action Report)
a. Aviation Support was provided by the 281st Assault Helicopter Company (-) to
Detachment B-52 (PROJECT DELTA), 5th SFGA during the period 12 July 67 through
16 August 67. The operation was supported by 26 officers, 54 enlisted men, six UH1D
and four UH1C helicopters. The operation was supported in the following manner.
(1) Total Flying Hours:
UH-1D (Slicks) 581:40 hours
UH-1C (Guns) 404:00 hours
Total: 985:40 hours
(2) Total Night Flying Time 116:25 hours
(3) Total Tasks Flown 819
(4) Total Sorties Flown 1,655
(5) Number of Passengers Flown 1,901
(6) Weight of Cargo Flown 72,290 lbs.
(7) Number of Aircraft hits (Enemy fire) 11
(8) Aircraft Lost by Enemy Fire 1 (UH-1D)
(9) Aircraft Turned in due to Enemy Fire 1
(11) Total Recon Patrols Supported 10
(12) Total Roadrunners Supported 3
(13) Medical Evacuations (Missions) 14
(14) Ranger Operations
Platoon: (25-30 Men) 5
Company: (90-105 Men) 4
Battalion: (275 Men) 1
(15) Ammunition Expended
2.75in Rockets 1,146
40mm Grenades 701
(16) During this time, two CH46s from 1st MAW and 5 UH1Ds from Task Force
Oregon, were in direct support of the operation in alternating weeks.
b. Two aircraft were lost as a result of enemy ground fire. The following is a resume of each
(1) 5 August 1967: During the midmorning hours, an emergency medical evacuation was
performed utilizing the electrical hoist. The aircraft sustained one enemy small arms
round in the transmission mounts resulting in the aircraft having to be turned in for
fourth echelon repair. There were no injuries.
(2) 6 August 1967: During a normal Recon patrol extraction, the extraction aircraft
sustained enemy ground fire, lost power, crashed and burned. The crew escaped the
crash with minor injuries. Two of the Recon patrol team members sustained serious
injuries from flying debris from the aircraft during impact. The crew joined the patrol
on the ground and assisted in the preparation of the landing zone for extraction.
While the recovery aircraft returned to base for refueling, an Air Force rescue
helicopter arrived on the scene of the downed aircraft. The Air Force aircraft
successfully extracted three of the seriously injured personnel. In an attempt to
extract three crew members of the downed aircraft by means of a jungle penetrator
and electrical hoist, the pilot of the pick-up aircraft reported "Fire Warning Lights"
and proceeded to execute a take-off; the hoist cable caught in the trees, broke, and
threw the three crew members 150 feet to the ground. Two men were killed on
impact, the third died before another rescue attempt could be performed.
2. Problem Areas:
a. Aircraft Availability.
(1) In order to support any two PROJECT DELTA elements in the field, a minimum of seven (7)
UH1Ds and four (4) UH1C armed helicopters are a must. Three UH1D and two UH1C per
element, with an UH1D utilized as the Command and control aircraft. These aircraft must be
"flyable" and not merely on station. The present commitment of the 281st AHC is six (6)
UH1D and four (4) UH1C helicopters. Of this commitment during Operation Samurai, 17
July - 16 Aug 67, the 281st AHC - (FOB) had an average of 4.5 UH1D and 2.2UH1C flyable.
These figures present an availability rate of 77% for the UH1D and 27% for the UH1C. With
the help of Army and Aviation units under OPCON of II MAF, the mission of the 281st AHC
was accomplished satisfactorily. However, the use of these units on a daily basis presented
special training, mission planning and briefing problems resulting slow reaction time which
cannot be tolerated with small elements in the field dependent on immediate response of
supporting forces. Commitment to Detachment B-52 (PROJECT DELTA) should be re-evaluated
and tasked to provide seven UH1D and four UH1C "Flyable" on station at the FOB
during the period in which PROJECT DELTA is operational.
(2) During this operation, the enemy situation in vicinity of the FOB forced the 281st AHC to
relocate all aircraft at the end of the days operation to Marble Mountain Airfield, Da
Nang, RVN. Problems encountered as a result of this requirement were numerous.
(a) No hardstand parking areas were available at Marble Mountain for over half of
the aircraft resulting in additional "wear and tear", and maintenance problems
from parking in sandy, unprepared areas.
(b) Eighty (80%) percent of the second and third echelon maintenance had to be
performed at Marble Mountain which required the aircraft maintenance to be
performed twenty five miles from the Operations Section. Poor communications
and a lack of availability of an administrative liaison aircraft resulted in poor
coordination and improper "reports". Additional comments on maintenance
problems are annexed to this report.
(c) The aircraft did not arrive at Da Nang until approximately 2100 - 2200 hours
nightly. These late hours resulted in a post-flight inspection being performed with
a flashlight and at 0500 hours, the daily inspection being performed by flashlight.
b. Daylight Extractions: High density altitudes and actual altitudes of landing zones in the
mountainous area of this operation made it imperative that two aircraft be available to
exact five and six man patrols, resulting in longer exposure times to enemy ground fire.
Experience has proven that the second aircraft to go into the landing zone will receive
enemy hits if the enemy is in proximity of the landing zone. In all cases if the pick-up
aircraft was a 1964 model UH1D with the L-9 engine, it would extract a maximum of
three personnel. During "life or death" emergency medical evacuations using the electrical
hoist, hovering out of "ground effect", the 1966 UH1D with the L-11 engine could
extract a maximum of three personnel. A possible solution to this problem would be the
assignment of the L-13 engine component to the UH1H helicopter to the 281st AHC.
3. Lessons Learned.
a. If at all possible, all emergency type extractions should be performed by aircraft and crews
of the 281st AHC to take advantage of the training that the pilots and crew members of
the 281st AHC have received from PROJECT DELTA in these type operations. Aircraft
and personnel of other aviation support units can be utilized successfully if they are given
an adequate amount of time for training and orientation.
b. Photo Coverage of the Area of Operation. Prior to the beginning of this operation, an
extensive effort was made to obtain aerial photo coverage of the AO to include
interpretation "read-outs" of enemy positions, potential landing zones, etc. Unfortunately,
the acquired coverage was available only for a small portion of the area, however, the
area that was covered proved to be immeasurable value in mission planning. The use of a
handheld 35mm camera with telephoto lens used on visual reconnaissance was highly
successful in the study and picking of touchdown points for infiltration landing zones. The
newly acquired photo lab of Detachment B-52 made this possible.
c. Although the Mark 24 parachute flare was not used in this operation, this equipment was on
hand and four flares were carried in the Command and Control aircraft during "last light"
infiltrations for emergency situations. A new 50 ft, steel cable static line was tested in the
dropping of this flare from the UH1D helicopter. It is the opinion of the personnel in this unit
that the cable is not recommended for use from the UH1D in that it is too long and the
possibility of the cable being caught in the tail rotor presented a safety hazard. A full report on
the use of this equipment had been forwarded at an earlier date. It is necessary that all
personnel be thoroughly familiar with the use of this flare and a flare team and alternate be
designated to perform flare operations upon immediate alert.
d. WP 2.75 Rockets on C&C Aircraft. Four rockets were attached to the C&C aircraft for spotting
and marking landing zones for platoon and company size operations and to mark enemy positions
when altitude and speed made smoke grenades impractical. The sighting device was chalk marks on
the windshield of the aircraft. The system for firing the rockets was locally produced using simplified
launching tubes acquired from the US Air Force, mounted to the "Door-Gun" hard points of the
UH1D, a simple wiring system using a 1.5V battery for power and covered safety switches attached
to a .30 caliber ammo can setting off the radio console of the aircraft.
e. A locally produced CS gas grenade dispenser was tested which proved to be highly successful.
This device is mounted on the skids of the UH1D and manually operated by passengers in the
aircraft. It was fabricated by Detachment B-52 using a salvaged 2.75 rocket pod.