OPERATION 7-67 Code name SAMURAI (Happy Valley)         


Inclosure 3: (Aviation Support (281st AHC) to After Action Report)

1. General

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

(10) Casualties

KIA: 3

WIA: 3

MIA: 0

(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

7.62mm 265,366

2.75in Rockets 1,146

40mm Grenades 701

5.56mm 80

(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.