ANNEX C (Aviation Support) 281st AHC to After Action Report 2-68.
a. Aviation support was provided by the 281st Assault Helicopter Company (-) to Detachment B-52
(PROJECT DELTA), 5th SFGA during the period 4 March 1968 through 4 April 1968.
The operation was supported by twenty-five officers and sixty enlisted men. There were six
UH-1H helicopters and four UH-1C helicopters. The operation was supported in the following
(1) Total Flying hours:
UH-1H 614.5 hours
UH-1C 275.8 hours
Total 890.3 hours
(2) Total night flying time (included in total) 38.4 hours
(3) Total tasks flown 615
(4) Total sorties flown 1424
(5) Number of passengers flown 2399
(6) Weight of cargo flown 38,000 pounds
(7) Number of aircraft hits (enemy fire) 23
(8) Aircraft lost by enemy fire 7 (5 UH1H, 2 UH-1C)
(9) Aircraft turned in due to enemy fire 7
(11) Total RECON Patrols supported 11
(12) Total Roadrunner patrols supported 6
(13) Nung Platoon Operations 3
(14) MSF Company Operations 2
(15) Ranger Operations 8
(16) Ammunition expended:
7.62mm 653,450 rounds
2.75in rockets 1,545 rockets
40mm grenades 2,975 rounds
(17) During this time, two CH-46 helicopters from 3 MAF were utilized and on occasion,
more were used, as the situation required, as were UH-1H helicopters from the 1st CAV.
b. Seven aircraft were lots as the result of enemy ground fire. The following is a resume of each
(1) 13 March 1968: An extraction of a Recon team was accomplished using two aircraft with
ladders. The first aircraft into the LZ received intense enemy fire, wounding one VN who
subsequently died. The pilot was lightly wounded in the foot. The next aircraft into the
LZ also received intense enemy fire, which wounded the aircraft commander and
puncturing the fuel cell, which necessitated setting the aircraft down a short distance from
the LZ. A recovery aircraft then picked up the crew.
(2) 16 March 1968: There had been an MIA from the above Recon team. A mirror flash had
been sighted, and was believed to be the MIA. An extraction of the MIA was made, but
during the extraction, a UH-1C received enemy fire, which caused the aircraft to begin
burning. The aircraft made a forced landing near a small stream and the crew was picked
up by a recovery ship. The crew-members sustained no injuries. Later in the day, an
extraction of a Ranger Battalion was in progress, a UH-1H had departed the LZ with a
load and was shot down. The fire that hit the aircraft also wounded the aircraft
commander, passing through both legs and breaking the femur in both logs. The
passengers and the wounded aircraft commander were picked up by a recovery ship.
Approximately 50 minutes later, the rest of the personnel were picked up.
(3) 28 March 1968. Immediately following an infiltration of a Recon team, a UH-1C
helicopter had an engine failure and auto-rotated approximately 1 to 2 miles from the
infiltration LZ. While getting out of the aircraft, the gunner spotted an enemy soldier
behind a bush and put fire into the general area. The recovery ship then successfully
picked up the crew. The remaining gunships then destroyed the downed aircraft.
(4) 29 March 1968. During the support of an infiltration of two Ranger companies, one UH-1H
was shot down, but the crew members managed to make a soft landing on the LZ.
The enemy fire wounded the pilot lightly. The next aircraft into the LZ dropped their
passengers off and picked up the crew to the downed aircraft. A Marine CH-46,
attempting to extract recovery personnel who had been placed in the LZ was shot down
in the LZ. A 281st UH-1H landed to pick up the Marine crew and was on the way out of
the LZ when it received enemy fire, which killed the aircraft commander and damaged the
aircraft so that it had to land on the same LZ again. One other UH-1H and another CH-46
was shot down in the vicinity of the LZ.
2. PROBLEM AREAS:
a. The largest problem encountered during the conduct of SAMURAI IV was the weather. Many
operations had to be canceled because of limited visibility and low ceilings. Visibility was never
very good, due to a heavy haze in the AO, and usually limited visibility to two to three miles.
The low ceilings, when not completely prohibitive, usually averaged 2000 to 3000 feet, which
necessitated extensive low level flying.
b. The other major problem was the lack of suitable landing zones. Often bomb craters were used
as the only usable LZ in the area. Because of a lack of landing zones, LZ's sometimes had to
be used more than once, which increased the probability of compromise. The terrain in the AO
was heavily vegetated with tall trees that sometimes formed two canopies over the ground.
Consequently, ladders were often employed due to the lack of suitable LZ's.
a. Due to the unique mission of Delta, a radio beacon of the type employed by the Pathfinders
would be a great asset during the conduct of an operation.
b. If a radio beacon could be obtained, it could be placed at the FOB to aid in navigation. In the
AO, because of the limited visibility, aviators often had to request FM homing, which
precluded the use of the AN/PRC 25 for any other communications during that time.
Occasionally, replacement aviators and aircraft had a difficult time in finding the exact location
of the FOB. A radio beacon requires very little maintenance and would greatly aid in the air
operation aspect during the conduct of a Delta operation.