18th 54th 18th CAC Aviation Association

January 1963

On 15 January, Major Harry C. Davis, Jr. assumed command from Captain Edward E. Hawkins, who departed to MAAG Saigon as an instrument examiner. Major Davis had been assigned to the 1st Aviation Company, prior to his assumption of command. At this time, a large number of relatively senior captains reported into the unit in one group of nine (9). This resulted in a number of major organizational personnel changes: Captain Thomas K. McCready, Jr. as Operations Officer, Captain Ira C. Laney as Executive Officer, Captain Charles C. Frank as newly designated Administrative Officer, Captain Thomas W. O’Connor as Camp & Club Officer, Captain Russell J. Folta as Supply Officer, Captain Robert H. Carter as 2nd Platoon Leader and Captain Gordon D. Carpenter as 1st Transportation Leader. In effect the unit made almost a clean sweep to starting the New Year. The disposition and senior Headquarters were as described during April 1963.

February 1963

The majority of original 18th Aviation Company had departed PCS starting in October and extending through December. A few remained, one of which Specialist Fifth Boris (Maintenance Technical Inspector) continued with the unit till January 1964. Another, Specialist Fifth Dunagan, after departing in November 1962 returned as a volunteer in June 1963. As of the end of 1963 they were the only personnel who came to Vietnam with the unit who hasn’t either returned or extended.

The majority of change in living conditions had occurred in 1962 and early 1963 and had extended thru three separate stages. The initial tents and shortly thereafter tent kits with wooden floors, the second stage in which the officers and men purchased and helped build bamboo thatched roof wooden floor shelters and the third phase, in which semi-permanent cement and tile construction with wire screens was used for all unit quarters and working areas. This last phase was the result of the initial work order requests when the unit first was established at Nha Trang in February of 1962.  The third phase was completed with the exception of the latrines by February 1963. Besides screened living quarters, the biggest improvement was the consolidated mess hall although even to February 1964 a sump problem existed. During the entire time of Vietnam operation, the unit has been fortunate in being able to utilize the existing hanger facilities and ramp. However, this ramp quickly deteriorated under constant vehicle and aircraft use. The unit is of the opinion that no aircraft facility in Vietnam is used as much by motor vehicle traffic as this ramp and taxi way since they provide the only access to the 362nd Tropo site and Special Forces logistic area.

March 1963

On 2 March, the unit flew 10,000 Combat Support Hour since being assigned within the Republic of Vietnam. A complimentary letter thru channels was received acknowledging this feat.

As has been the situation both before and since, the unit was required to support the United States Special Forces in their visits to “A” and “B” teams throughout the country. During 17 – 21 March Captain Robert F. Henley and CWO Robert W. Kaczygasba provided outstanding work in this respect and received an appropriate letter of appreciation for their work.

The last of the original 18th Aviation Company aviator – CWO Puffpaff departed PCS to CONUS 29 March. The unit received another Otter, again from Pleiku; a female, agile, about 5-6 months old. She was a suitable playmate for Otto and after initial sparring; they mutually respected and apparently liked each other.  It appeared that she was much more playful than he.

Losses:
MAJ Loran Petersen, CPT Richard Ferguson, CPT Robert Spieldenner, CW2 Dan Smith, WO1  John Francis, SSG Bernard Handeland, SSG Robert Likes, SGT David Benbe, SP/5 James Ladner, SP/5 Major Carmen, SP/5 Robert Murphy, SP/5 Donald Ciertz, SP/5 Roy Taylor, SP/5 Joseph Batten, SP/4 Willie Gore, SP/4 Angus Hume.

Gains:
CPT John Smith, 1LT Daniel Frost, CW2 Kenneth Kendrick, CW3 William Easton, WO1 Frederick Hill, WO1 Roy Haddix, SFC George Chevalier, SGT Danny Martin, SGT Willie Montague, SP/4 Douglas Nichelson, SP/4 Walter Johnson, SP/4 John Saperito, PVT Robert Beck.

April 1963

As of 1 April, the unit flight platoon in Saigon, as per HSAS direction established separate quarters and a different rotation policy was initiated with the unit to enable all flight platoon personnel t enjoy the benefits of per diem rate. Quarters were established ad two villas for the officers and the enlisted men lived for a time in hotel. Previously, the officers were established at the My Lon Hotel for which HSAS (Navy) was responsible. Shortly after a month of this policy, the enlisted men, under SFC Feur, were again billeted under HSAS responsibility since the financial problem of no advance per diem aid, weekly payment for billeting; food and laundry were becoming command problem. The enlisted men were housed in the International Hotel and ate in another hotel about 200 yards away. They had two ¾ trucks for transportation, one driven by “Charlie”, a faithful Vietnamese who comes early and stays late. The officers utilized three ¼ tons of Japanese manufacture to move to and from the Rex (where they ate) and the flight line. These were obtained through III & IV Corps, the two organizations which we were supporting. Both villas were off bus lines so it was either use the jeeps or take the “blue and white staff cars” (Taxis). It is to be noted that during the entire period of per diem which lasted till 20 December 1963, only one accident occurred involving company personnel driving vehicles. This is to the credit of these drivers, since driving conditions are fiercely competitive and the streets are crowded with bicycles, motor bikes, and pedestrians. Short of driving on the left side of the road, the Saigon area represents as hazardous an area as there is for American drivers.

Back to the rotation policy, a two month change was established with a two-three week transition period during which each platoon had pilots flying for III and IV Corps together. Effective 1 April on orders, but actually not until about 15 April did the unit revert from control of the 45th TC Bn at Tan Son Nhut to the newly established 52d Aviation Bn at Pleiku. For the next month, pay records, personnel actions, correspondence, directives, and distribution were changing between these to higher headquarters.

At this time, the unit had the following displacement of aircraft and crews: Da Nang 3; Pleiku 3; Bon Me Thout; Saigon 6 and the rest, 3 at Nha Trang, of which usually 1 or 2 were flyable. It totaled 16. Most people inbound were not checked out in the U-1A and the transition training required considerable aircraft time. There was no requirement for keeping aircraft assigned to each corps by tail number.

Losses:
CPT Kenneth O’Neal, CPT William Jensen, CW2 Kevin Phillips, 1SG Vernon Davis, SP/6 Jesse Brown, SP/6 Charles Smith, SGT Monroe Smith, SP/5 Harry Vaon, SP/5 Rodney Adams, SP/5 Alejo Ortiz, SP/5 Robert Gately, SP/5 Robert Bohinski, SP/5 Michael Johnson, SP/5 John Yohler, SP’4 Gregory White, SP/4 Danny Martin, SP/4 Gary Weytalewicz, SP’5 Rafeal Hernandez, SP/4 Robert Dolson, SP/4 Mark Hunt, SP/4 Richard Patrick.

Gains:
1LT Michael Close, 1LT John Rutherford, WP1 Robert Fabrick, 1SG Elmer Beene, SSG Jack Newman, SGT Thomas Parks, SP/5 Neil Helms, SP/5 Walter Nowakowski, SP/5 James Haycraft, SP’4 Isaac Ortega, SP/4 Jeffrey Hall, SP/4 Konstantine Varelans, SP/4 Louis Page, SP/4 Terry Johnson, SP/4 William Ackerman, SP/4 Billy Moore, PFC Thomas Burnes, PFC Billy Bost, PFC Herbert Bliss, PVT Melina Quintana, PVT Alfred Perrino, PVT Carl Bubelz.

May 1963

On 18 May, Lt Clinton Cobb, and SP4 Delmar English of the 1st Aviation Platoon formerly of the 17th Aviation Company reported for duty. Lt Hennings and PFC Bales along with the 8 U-1-A’s mothballed arrived on the 27th aboard the same USN aircraft carrier USNS Core that transported the unit in January 1962.

On 25 May, the unit had its 1st complete party, and for the 1st time the Company Commander was able to see his officer and enlisted men together in one place. The party was occasioned by the PCS departure of Major Davis who had command the unit since January and by the desire by 1st Sgt Sias to get everybody together. The 1st Sgt contracted with the local province chief and police for a strip of beach by Beach Bar 9, actually where Beach Bar 9 ½ now stands and the party started at 1430 hours. All the TDY Air Crews who were coming arrived by 1600 hours. One crew had to remain at Da Nang, 2 at Saigon, but all other people made it. Beer, and soft drinks were covered with ice in a jeep trailer and chicken, potato salad, beef steak, beans, and relishes were more than ample except for the steak was finished well before sundown. A few people including Major Davis were thrown in the China Sea and a couple more in the jeep trailer, and the motor sergeant kept the shuttle bus operating back to the Company Area. By dark it was all over, and the Vietnamese were policing up every scrap. The major departed on the 28th.  Major Miller, former 52d Battalion S-3 had assumed command on 21 May 1963.

Losses:  CPT Herman Halterman, SFC Claudie Garalde, SSG Kenneth Burtner, SSG John Bradley, SP/6 Robert McGrady, SP/6 William Gillespie, SP/5 Billy Elkins, SP/5 Edward Smith, SP/5 Stephen Anders, SP/5 Robert Robertson, SP/4 Albert Morra, SP/4 Donald Blaser, SP/4 Edward Roundtree, SP/4 Raymond Regan, SP/4 James Hunting, SP/4 Kenneth Jones, PFC Archie Hall, PVT Daniel Ames.

Gaines:
1LT Arnold Barrett, CW2 Richard Cameron, CW2 Clifford Welch, SFC Gorden Heykeep, SGT Donald Cravens, SGT Ronald Haugen, SP/5 Werner Riley, SP/5 Michael Strick, SP/4 Ralph Merz, SP/4 Jerry Hedges, PFC Johnny Rosenbalm, PVT Ricky Wilson, PVT Kenneth Meyer, PVT Benedict Poczatek, PVT Gary Staseck.

June 1963

The unit received its 1st Inspector General’s inspection from USARYIS on 9 June after pre-inspections by both the 52nd Battalion and Support Group. It was determined we were in satisfactory shape; the only other rating possible was unsatisfactory. The flight platoons outside of Nha Trang did not participate in this formality.

On 16 June about 0600 hours, a Super C Constellation arrived with the new platoon, just having transitioned at Fort Ord under command of Captain Harlan W. Lohmann, those 15 officers and 22 enlisted men were briefed and billeted in the Company Area. They arrived directly from Okinawa and did not process though Support Group. Their augmentation to the unit was approved and the TO&E strength was increased to 16 officers, 33 warrant officers and 133 enlisted men. For unexplained reasons, we experienced failure of several propeller seals which resulted in EDP and the lowest availability rate during the year – 69%. Processing of personnel took the rest of the month while their aircraft were being put together by Air Viet Nam at Tan Son Nhut. By the end of the month we had all 7 flyable in the unit, the 8th was issued to the 330th since one of our pilots in May had broken theirs at Cam Ranh Bay while landing just a little short. During the 1st week of June, one night, our Otter “Otto” contacted a live electric wire lying on the ground near operations and was electrocuted, the female, was visibly distressed over the loss of her Otter companion. She nipped more and more fingers for the next week. Another male otter was obtained from Pleiku but she, being bigger, continually fought him until he ran away three nights later. Captain Chritton received PIO notice by flying 132 hours of Combat Support time during May. This was the last time any such record was attempted by order of Support Group commanding officer. All unit total weapons were fired for the first time since arrival in Vietnam during 11 – 12 June at the NCO Academy. Considerable problems were encountered with the 3.5’s and the 50 caliber machine guns, 1 of which had to be replaced.

During June and most of July, we hosted a greater portion of the 33rd Transportation Company, re-designated 18th Avn. Co, who were flying from Nha Trang for local Search and Secure MAAG missions. The S. O. Major Sanderson wrote a letter, thru channels, expressing his gratitude for our support. This support sorely taxed the club facilities and in two instances, the club ran out of beer for a short time. During June the unit supported JUSMAG in Thailand with one U-1-A, obtained from Nha Trang for a specific SEATO exercise. The crew was stationed in Bangkok with the “hard to take” per diem rate cost of the time.

Losses:
SFC George Chevalier, SSG Sherman Lenard, SP/5 Jen Stewart, SP/5 Heuy Paddie, SP/5 Walter Nowakowski, SP/5 Jack Richie, SP/4 James Early, SP/4 James Benson, SP/4 Daniel Redlin, SP/4 James Carroll, SP/4 David Charlton, SP/4 Mark Standifer, SP/4 James Oberle, SP/4 Michael Trotter, SP/4 David Nelson, SP/4 Loveless Frizzell, SP/4 Connor Britton, SP/4 Andrew Sneedy, SP/4 Alan Anderson, PFC Joseph Alascano.

Gains:
1LT David Robbins, SFC James Morgan, SSG Robert Johnson, SP/6 Clarence Manseill, SP/5 Robert Christiansen, SP/5 Johnny Castera, SP/4 Dennis Revels, SP/4 Ronald Johnson, SP/4 Douglas Pastor, PFC James Wilson, PFC Danny Tucker, PFC Nicholas Placco, PFC Clair Pecinovsky, PVT Conway Howdyshell, PVT Lugo Pacheco, PVT Richard Faisen.

July 1963

On 1 July, the unit sustained its 1st fatal accident, when Captain Stackbauer was killed at Hang Buc in gusty turbulence on takeoff 4000’ elevation and about 1200’ long. This airfield was subsequently closed to Otter operation. He was not wearing either helmet or shoulder straps; the only one of 6 on board to be killed. The others walked out although one passenger had a broken leg from the crew chiefs flying tool box. The aircraft 58-1706 was totaled, also the first for the unit. The new flight platoon was reorganized so as to spread the inexperienced crew members around the company and obtain experience from the other platoons.

In early July, MACV issued a directive which required the 18th, 73rd, and 61st Aviation Co’s to support the MAAG Corps Advisory sections with a specific number of aircraft by tail number to each location. This was NACV directive #44 and changed our support requirements to: four for I Corps, five for II Corps, six for III Corps, six for III Corps (one in Ban Me Thout), five for IV Corps, two for Special Forces from Nha Trang and the rest, all of two available for the units use. Additionally, each Unit Corps support detachment was placed under operational control of an Army Aviation Battalion or Provisional Detachment (I Corps) in each Corps Area. Missions were now processed thru Corps Combat Operations Centers with Army aviation representation to further send missions to the 18th Section or Platoon Commander.

Additionally, MACV Directive #45 restricted U. S. Aircraft from carrying Vietnamese civilians, dependents, and only carry Vietnamese military personnel with properly authenticated orders which would be issued by MAAG officers.

The Special Forces Logistic Operation Center at Nha Trang opened and from this time on, we never had difficulty in obtaining missions anywhere in the country.

Losses:
MAJ James Thacker, CPT Robert Terry, CPT Stanley Balcom, CW2 Kinard Brady, CW2 Fred Canto, CW2 Edward Bougher, CW2 Sverre Staurset, CW2 Norman Baker, CW2 Ronald Bruffett, SFC James Morgan, SFC John Whitmire, SP/5 Jack Ritchie, SP/5 Jerry Craven, SP/5 Charles Garrett, SP/5 Johnny Castera, SP/5 Lee Smith, SP/5 Lee Johnson, SP/5 John Coggins, SP/5 Robert Johnson, SP/5 James Dorough, SP/4 Russell White, SP/4 Archie Hall, SP/4 Ray Padgett, SP/4 Darrell Richter, SP/4 Konstantine Varelans, SP/4 Jerry Hedges, PFC Terry Cooley, PFC Alfred Parrino.

Gains:
MAJ William Bloemsma, CPT Ronald McBride, 1LT John Reynolds, CW2 Joseph McGovern, CW2 Dan Smith, CW2 Kenton Williams, WO1 David Darbyshire, SFC Frederick Barnes, SSG Bennie Garrett, SSG Sherman Lenard, SP/6 James Hoed, SP/5 Roger Randall, SP/5 Charles Garrett, SP/5 Linden Ballard, SP/5 Joseph Reichelt, SP/4 Douglas Pastor, SP/4 Eugene Anklam, SP/4 James Dorough, SP/4 Ray Padgett, SP/4 Darrell Richter, SP/4 John Kroening, PFC Terry Cooley, PFC Charles Ellis, PFC Aledore Andry, PFC Kenneth Zufall, OFC Thomas Harks, PVT Richard Morris.

August 1963

The unit aircraft ramp surface had deteriorated to the point that resurfacing was necessary. Because of support which the unit was giving to Raymond, Morrison and Knudsen Construction Company at Cam Ranh Bay, they agreed to do this job which started in July and finished in August. The tie down cable remained in position.

The company was required to continually support JUSMAG with a U-1A, which was obtained from III Corps and brought their number of supporting aircraft to five with one still in Ban Me Thout. It was established that the Bangkok crews would be rotated every thirty days, in the middle of the month and the crew would be paid at the end of each month. This allowed two trips a month from the Company Headquarters and provided a definite fringe benefit by giving unit personnel a free two day trip to Bangkok. The number was limited to four people in addition to the crew.

The unit Executive Officer, Captain Ira Laney was promoted to Major and established a record for elaborate parties, not only at Nha Trang, but at all other unit locations.

The unit commander established the policy that he would inform all PCS rotating officers 15 days prior to their 10 month period whether they could depart on their 10th month. Orders had to be in hand and a suitable replacement available. Most people started departing very soon after the 10 month period, with a few departing on the day of their 10th month. The unit replacements ere officers almost entirely, with only one warrant officer who was transferred from Pleiku. More than 50% of the replacements were required to undergo a complete U-1A transition, which severely affected the Nha Trang Platoon capability. The remainder were receiving the minimum 25 hour check out at Fort Ord prior to arrival.

Due to continued flow of information and directives by Support Group and the insufficient distribution thru MAAG channels in the field, it was necessary to initiate a monthly Newsletter to all aviators in the unit, to keep them up to date on Unit Directives.

The unit received more aircraft hits during this month than in any previous month due primarily to low cloud conditions in the Delta Area. One received seven hits in a few seconds near Chi Lang and another was ambushed on a short final at Phuoc Vinh, wounding the pilot, and requiring a oil tank change. However, most hits were sustained at altitudes and noticed by the crew only upon post flight inspection. Another exception: One aircraft was hit several times at Ashau while running up prior to takeoff and the pilot and co-pilot were slightly wounded.

A II Corps aircraft was based in Qui Nhon because of the requirement to support the 9th ARVN Division. This left Pleiku with only four ships.

Losses: CPT Douglas Keithly, 1LT Arnold Barrett, CW2 Andrew Sanford, CW2 Larry Kabriel, CW2 Roy Haddis, CW2 William Bean, CW2 James Reece, CW2 James Porter, SP/6 Eugene Atkins, SGT Willie Montague, SP/5 Brian Mendl, SP/5 Gordon Forbes, SP/5 William Ragsdale, SP/5 Richard Smith, SP/5 Paul Landry, SP/5 Roger Randall, SP/4 Stanley Sederhelm, SP/4 Ronald Verdi, PFC Kenneth Zufall.

Gains:
CW2 William Roche, CW2 Rodney Hackerman, CW2 Michael French, WO1 Donald Darr, SSG Larry Throneberry, SP/5 Edward East, SP/5 Jerry L. Jones, SP/5 Brian Doyle, SP/5 Thomas Gould, SP/4 Steven Hinsa, SP/4 Robert Mandt, PFC Robert Perry, PFC Herman Adams, PFC Perfecto Martinez, PVT Ricky Smith, PVT Lawrence Thir, PVT Harris Nero, PVT Emery Organ, PVT Charlie Day, PVT Danny Cash, PVT Daniel Ortegon.

September 1963

A number of experienced pilots and most of the crew chiefs departed PCS, this month. Another aircraft was totally destroyed 58-1716, this time at Ban Me Thout. The pilot was assigned his first operational mission, and it was loaded two hundred pounds over gross weight, although the prepared manifest weight indicated the load was one hundred pounds less than gross. Poor Pilot Technique and planning resulted in a crash into 75 foot rubber trees, no injuries except a facial cut on the pilot. There were a total of 5 persons on board and several hundred pounds of cargo.

During September, a requirement was established to maintain one of the II Corps aircraft in Quang Ngai. Previously this ship had been passed in Qui Nhon, but departure of the 9th ARVN Division for the Delta Area eliminated this need.

A re-designation of II and III Corps boundaries placed Ban Me Thout in the II Corps Zone, and gave III Corps five ships, again in Saigon and positioned another of the Pleiku aircraft in Ban Me Thout, leaving only three ships at Pleiku. The Nha Trang platoon was manning both the Ban Me Thout and Quang Ngai Otters.

During the early morning of 22 September 1963, the Viet Cong broke through the fence by the Special Forces Compound on the west side of the field and placed a high explosive charge upon each of the C-47’s parked near the loading area which crumpled a wing and damaged gear. Nothing on our side of the field, but there was plenty of action in getting to the alert positions.

Losses:
CW2 Frederick Hill, CW2 Norman Toler, 1SG Elmer Boone, MSG James Shaw, SP/5 George Griffin, SP/5 Jerry L. Jones, SP/5 William Ackerman, SP/5 Thaddeus Pilot.

Gains:
CPT George Black, CPT John Hoskinson, 1LT Francis Doherty, 1SG George Chevalier, SSG John Smith, SSG Harlen Murphy, SP/5 Charles Fulcher, PFC J. C. Smoot, PFC Allan Mahnke, PVT Troy Barfield.

October 1963

The unit organized its second party on 19 October to celebrate PCS departure of the 1st Sergeant and a large number of officers due to depart in November. This time it was held in the Grand Hotel and during the evening hours. Unfortunately, it rained hard all afternoon and evening, the attendance was small. However, good food and drink was in abundance.

The aircraft stationed at Quang Ngai was now returned to Pleiku giving them four again. And a requirement to place an Otter at Di Linh in the newly established Special Zone was given to III Corps. So again III Corps was back to four ships in Saigon. The Nha Trang platoon had the mission to man this aircraft.

Losses:
CPT John Hoskinson, SP/6 Clarence Manseill, SP/6 Theodore Sokorda, SGT Gerald Kreage, SP/5 Donald Wilson, SP/5 Norman Stubbs, SP/5 Lawrence Ortals, SP/5 Horacse Holley, SP/4 Roger Chambers, SP/4 Kelvin Decker, SP/5 Frederick Perkins, SP/4 Richard Wilson, SP/4 Louis Page, SP/4 Steven Hinsa, PFC Gary Cooper, PFC Walter Howe, PVT Richard Hamm.

Gains:
CPT Larry Thompson, CPT Barry Camp, CPT James Keaveny, CPT Thomas Williams, CW2 James Adams, CW2 Richard Runnels, SP/5 Jack Guisti, SP/5 John Greenwood, SP/4 Wendell Wilcox, SP/4 Kenneth Porter, SP/4 Malcolm Sumerlin, PFC Jon Serenson, PFC Ricky Mack.

November 1963

The first Vietnamese Coup occurred in the afternoon of 1 November; all planes were grounded for about three hours and the unit personnel in Saigon stayed in their hotel, the Affana, and the other Villa at 47 Duy Tan, they listened, observed and took tape recordings of the troops and tanks firing through the night and the early morning assault on the palace on 2 November 1963. The only way it affected the unit operation was a lack of transportation the following morning to get the early flights in the air. The previous owners of the jeeps, officers of the III & IV Corps MAAG Detachment had taken possession of the jeeps which had been the transportation of the officers in the Saigon Platoon, buses were not available that day neither were the taxis (blue and white staff cars).

On 2 November, in the early evening, two trip flares outside the west edge of Nha Trang airfield were activated by persons or animals unknown, and this initiated a night long alert which was uneventful.

The IV Corps at Can Tho had requested initially and then directed that at least one U-1A remain overnight at Can Tho. This caused considerable problems due to the mosquito problem at the billets and security at the airfield.  

The utilization of this aircraft did not warrant its continued stay overnight on a permanent basis and this procedure was implemented only specific missions. In fact, the requirement was dropped in October.

Losses:
CPT George Black, CPT John Smith, CPT Theodore Barber, CW2 Michael Patterson, CW2 Richard Cameron, CW2 Clifford Welsh, CW2 Billie Lund, CW2 Dan Smith, SSG Eugene Hinkle, SSG Bernett Jergenson, SP/5 Thomas Gould, SP/5 Charles Kramer, SP/5 Patrick Burke, SP/5 John Ortiz, SP/5 William Glover, SP/5 Richard Palmer, SP/4 Ronald Leary, SP/4 James Heil, SP/4 Lewelyn Boyd, SP/4 Donald Anderson, SP/4 Richard Denio, SP/4 Peter Blasquez.

Gains:
CPT Robert Duedall, CPT Terry Lee, CW3 Peter Cranford, SP/5 Jacell Crowder, PFC Edward Sehmill.

December 1963

This was a time, not only bad for Army Aviation in Vietnam, but particularly bad for the 18th. A third Otter 58-1690 was totaled and seven people killed. Apparently the plane flew into a mountain side at 7400’ elevation (still some 500’ from the top) on the way to Ban Me Thout, the highest peak in Vietnam south of Kontum.  First indications it to be an operational accident, but a closer examination of the bodies resulted in a determination that it resulted from hostile action since metal fragments were found in six of the seven bodies. The unit sustained three KIA: Pilot, Captain Clarence L. Moorer, co-pilot, 2nd Lt Louis A. Carricarte, and crew chief SP/5 Michael Martin. At the time of this writing a monument to their memory is being planned to be placed in the MAAG Headquarters at Ban Me Thout, where they were stationed for duty. Although Lt. Carricarte had just completed his check out and was being sent to the field for the 1st time during the third week in December with the departure of CWO Schuman, the 18th Avn Co, for the first time, listed no Warrant Officers present for duty. The situation was to last about five weeks, although unit strength continued close to 100%.

In addition, some unknown person killed the female otter during the first week of December apparently not one of the unit, since all associated with her, had learned to respect her teeth. At any rate, no definite information was available except she was dead, apparently of a broken neck quite possibly administered by a boot.

We finally received our new 1st Sergeant; Sgt Exley reported for duty on 17 December 1963 and was immediately put to work. SFC Powers acting 1st Sergeant was then assigned to Saigon to function as Platoon Sergeant and Maintenance Supervisor.

Another unexplained maintenance problem that occurred during this month was failure of nine tail wheel motors. Fortunately, there were a sufficient number in stock to keep the availability rate from being affected.

On 17 December, USASG-V initiated a pre USARYIS IG inspection with one of their own. The 18th was the first unit so inspected outside of the Tan Son Nhut area. Considerable Mess Hall improvements were noted. On 20 December, the Saigon per diem ended and Support Group contracted for the Alfana Hotel Annex for the Officers. This located close to the Rex Hotel and opposite deposed President Diem’s Palace. No change with the enlisted men in Saigon.

On 24 December, General Stilwell, in the spirit of Christmas, presented initial awards of the Air Medal to 11 pilots and 1 crew chief of the unit at a ceremony on the flight line at Nha Trang.

Losses:
MAJ William Bloemsma, CPT Robert Terry, 1LT John Holihan, 1LT Francisc Doherty, 1SG George Chevalier, SFC Jonah Britt Jr. SP/6 Jesse Crayton, SP/5 Darrell Richter, SP/5 Ray Padgett, SP/5 Alan Barrett, SP/5 Carl Cessna, SP/4 William Baxley, SP/4 Robert Beck, SP/4 Larry Weathers.

Gaines:
MAJ Thomas McCord, CPT Rhoderick Patrick, CPT William Barber, WO1 Glenn Johnmeyer, SFC William Cox, SFC Tommy Chain, SSG James Davidson, SSG Arthur Griffith, SSG Eustacio Padilla, SP/5 Aurrey Williams, SP/4 Charles Faircloth, PFC Ronald Sanders, PFC Peter Miller, PFC Charles Powers, PFC Richard Fiege, PFC Charles Patterson, PFC Lonnie Kelly.

18th Aviation Company - Vietnam (2nd year)

1963