18th 54th 18th CAC Aviation Association
The year 1965 proved to be, by far, the best year of its existence for the 18th Aviation Company. The company rounded out its fourth year of assignment in Vietnam with a sharp increase in cargo and passenger total.
While air hours and sorties flown increased only slightly, passenger miles and cargo tons hauled increased tremendously. This indicates better utilization both on the part of the unit and the people we supported.
For the safety record, major and minor accidents decreased. It is believed that this is the result of an active safety program.
Combat damage decreased in 1965 with only one injury and no loss of life as occurred in 1963. This is the result of constant development of combat flying techniques by the old hands and their utilization by the newer ones.
The first month of the year was a good one for the company with an average of 63.2 combat hours flown per man.
WO Hall returned to flying status with the Can Tho Platoon after recovering from a wound he received on Christmas Eve. WO Orton was well initiated into the Can Tho Platoon with a hit in the fuel tank. WO Vanderpool received the news that he would soon be leaving the Can Tho Platoon for duty in the states. 1st Lt. Kiser and WO Baker also left Can Tho Platoon for duty in Nha Trang.
The Saigon section was the recipient of the new items during the month: a new pilot in the form of WO McGraw, who has served so ably as assistant Maintenance Officer in Nha Trang and a new strip smaller but closer to Xuan Be.
New additions to the Pleiku section are Captain Garner, who replaces Captain Harbor as Platoon Leader, WO Knox, from Can Tho, and WO Herrick. Congratulations are in order for Captain Garner who received his Senior Aviator Wings this month.
The company acquired a new permanent strip when WO’s Leverett and Foushee, along with SP/4 Kirby and AC 717 became stationed at Ban Me Thout.
The month of February started off with a bang as the Viet Cong made an unexpected attack on Pleiku in the early morning of the 7th. But even if Captain Garner did wind up with one combat boot and one jungle boot on, Pleiku Platoon was well up to the situation. With the only flyable F/W aircraft in the area, they flew all night bringing med-evacs to the 8th Field Hospital at Nha Trang through great danger bringing much credit to the platoon. Two days later they were off again at 2400 hours flying med-evacs to Nha Trang when the BEQ at Qui Nhon was blown up.
Headquarters Platoon at Nha Trang showed its true colors by donation of blood to the wounded. They also aided the 8th Field Hospital personnel in transporting some of the more severely wounded med-evacs from the hospital to waiting C-130 Air Force cargo planes for shipment to the Philippines and the states.
The Saigon platoon had more than its share of maintenance problems for the month plus the fact that the change in the Vietnamese government closed Tan Son Nhut on the 19th and 20th.
WO’s Bernhardt, Hall, Andrews and McGraw were rotated back to the United States during the month.
CWO Hardwick was honored at a Kac Sanh dinner on the 25th with a 10” by 13” picture of his ship taken during the final pass over the CZ on a combat re-supply mission which the Da Nang Platoon participated in. Three hits were taken on this mission to round out one of the most exciting months in the company’s history.
Captain Wall, 1st Lt. Atkison and SP/5 Dunagan from the Saigon Platoon aboard aircraft 699 flying a psy-war mission in the Minh Thant area received a “hit” in the left wing 6” from the cockpit. With this exception the month of March was a good one for the company with an average of 74 combat hours per aviator.
During the month we welcomed back for a second tour with the company Captain James W. Johnston. He will be assigned as assistant Platoon Commander with the platoon at Da Nang.
Captain Wilkins is the new platoon leader, Lt Devereux is the new Maintenance Officer, Lt Purks took over as the Section Administrative Officer and SP/5 Sisler is the new man in charge of crew chiefs in Da Nang.
Lt’s Noyes, Childree and Parish along with SP/5 Mena have been assigned to the Can Tho Platoon. Congratulations 1st Lt Parish on your new promotion.
Captain Wittekind and WO Burrows are spending a 30 day tour in Bangkok this month.
WO’s Miller, Roach and Knox have rotated to the states this month.
WO Hissong has left the Saigon Platoon to become the new Battalion Liaison Officer. New Arrivals in Pleiku this month are Captain Sherron, Lt Smith and SP/5 Donahue.
The month was ended with 60% participation by the Pleiku Section in the Red Cross drive. Their true colors came through again.
The month of April saw the departure of three officers and one enlisted man who would soon be an officer. 1st Lt. Adler, from Can Tho, WO Veon, from Pleiku, and 1st Lt. McFeely, from Nha Trang made the journey back to the United States. The Saigon section said a fond farewell to SP/5 McCanh, who is heading stateside to attend OCS at Ft. Benning, Georgia.
The company was blessed this month when they received six new aviators. To wit, Captain Joseph Hardy, 1st Lt. Robert Fitchett, WO Donald Waddel, WO George Warren, WO Jake Staples and WO Alvin Sneckenberger.
1st Lt. Childree is the new Company Supply Officer, Captain Hall is the new 14th Battalion S-2 and WO Turner is back on flight status with the Pleiku Platoon after being hospitalized with an undetermined virus. SP/5 Hardenberger is the new maintenance man with the Can Tho Platoon. PFC Frameli is the new crew chief aboard A/C 694 in Saigon.
Captain Garner and WO Herrick quality for the hero of the month award. They were submitted for Commendation Medals by the MAAG personnel at Ban Me Thout for their night med-evac mission from that Red Clay strip.
Air Medals this month went to 1st Lt. John S. Adler, SP/4’s Bruce A.Yarian and Gary L. Kirby and PFC Jesse L. Jones. CWO Robert Hardwick, rounded out the month as the recipient of a Purple Heart.
May was a quiet month in the company. The Pleiku Platoon moved to their new home at Holloway Army Air Field, a strip they lovingly refer to as “the Dust Bowl”.
WO Kluborg left Can Tho to join the platoon at Saigon to replace WO Hissong, who is leaving for the United States.
Twelve Air Medals were presented to members in the company during the month. Among those recipients are 1st Lt. Thomas A. Davidson, WO David E. Foushee, SP/5’s Donald S. Percival, Charles J. Duke, Edward L. Christie, Ramon C. Altamirano, SP/4’s Ronald Miller, Michael B. McNab, Robert C. Leach, James E. Grant, Jr., David R. Berret and PFC George W. Pidanich.
Change of Command
June was an exhausting month for the company. On the 20th Major Paul S. Walker took command of the unit from Major Raymond E. Dickens who leaves for Ft. Rucker next month.
Dong Xoai is getting plenty of attention from the Saigon Platoon. Captain Wall picked up a round through the floor of his aircraft there early in the month. Two weeks later it was overrun. Since then the platoon has been continually returning with re-supply missions and courier runs helping to rebuild the camp. Saigon was the recipient of two new items this month: a new parking area next to 3rd Corps ATCO and a new aircraft. This will be a benefit since most of the missions originate from the ATCO office.
Two new arrivals to the Da Nang Platoon are CWO Fitch, new Maintenance Officer for the section, and aircraft 285 to replace aircraft 697.
SP/5 Sonny Lewis has the only A/C in the company to be personally autographed by Martha Raye, who was their special passenger for a day.
Da Nang has lost the services of 1st Lt. Davidson and CWO Hardwick who rotated back to the states.
The month ended with a bang as the Viet Cong paid a visit to Nha Trang. About 40 mortar rounds were lobbed in. Fortunately most were duds but it was a harrowing night to say the least.
July saw many changes in the company as SFC William E. Hallman became the new 1st SGT. Lt. Col. Joseph E. Smith became the new 14th Aviation Battalion C. O. The 18th welcomed Captain Wilson E. Hall, Lt’s James Gibbs and Kenneth S. McTaggart, WO’s Stephen J. Tulley, Randy L. Cockrum, Gerald E. Eames, David G. Lather, Donald L. Nevels, Glen R. Pelkey, Michael C. Ryan and Arthur R. Sobey, SP/4 Belton Hayes, PVT’s Kennet E. Eaves, John O. Braden, Niles D. Olson and William R. Locust, Jr., who joined us this month.
Lt. Atkinson, Mr. Fouchee, SP/5 Paulak and SP4 Marchand left for Bangkok on the 16th.
A hearty farewell was said to our Commanding Officer, Raymond E. Dickens, our X. O. Captain Thomas H. Tyler and Captain’s Frank B. Harbor, Wilfred H. Wittekind, Douglas L. Thorp and Sp/4 Bruce A. Yarian.
Air Medal recipients for the month were Captain William D. O’Hara, Jr., Lt James Parish, CWO Harold L. Paige, WO’s David S. Kluborg, George L. Turner, Jr., Roger J. Veon, Norman C. Baker and Jensen H. Miller. WO Donald M. Burrow was the recipient of the Army Commendation Medal.
Captain’s Donald J. Mascia, Frank B. Harbor and Douglas L. Thorp rounded out the month with awards of the Bronze Star.
The month of August started out as a quiet one but before it would be over an Air Force jet bomber would crash and take 17 lives in Nha Trang, our Supply Sergeant would be nominated for the Soldier’s Medal for saving 52 lives and the company would have a new 1st SGT.
On the 6th of the month a U. S. Air Force B-57 jet bomber shot up during a strafing run careened into the western end of Doc Lap (Nha Trang’s main street) instantly killing 17 Vietnamese and injuring many more. SGT Henry M. Kwiatkowski, at great risk evacuated 52 school children from the area of the crash site. Members of the company were called in to help clear the crash site of debris and unexploded ordinance.
MSG Lawrence R. Wagner joined the company and on the 20th took over duties as 1st SGT replacing SFC William E. Hallman. SFC Hallman is the senior maintenance NCO of the company now.
Also promoted were Lt’s William J. Wells III and Peter M. Noyes, to the rank of Captain. Richard L. Hunt became a W-2, David J. Henley is a new SFC E-7 and Ronald N. Miller is now a SP/5.
Lt Dan C. Kingman, Jr. and CWO Walter E. Tobin are in Bangkok this month. Their maintenance men are SP/4’s John F. Jones and Robin A. Smith.
Those who received Air Medals this month are SGT Henry M. Kwiathowski, SP/5 Lloyd A. Olin and SP/4 Jessie L. Jones. SP/4 Bruce A. Yarian was the recipient of the Army Commendation Medal this month.
A special 18th welcome goes out to SP/5 Billy D. Salyers, an old Otter crew chief with the Da Nang section, who left the company last November. He has since attended the Otter Technical Inspector School at Ft. Eustis, Va. He will be a great asset to the maintenance section. Other new arrivals are Lt’s Douglas L. Keithly and Hugh C. Durhan III., SSG James C. Skinner, SGT’s Julius Gooden and Frederick O. Kogler, SP/5’s David E. Wagner, Robert R. Kafton and Charles H. Elias, PFC’s Michael D. Gagle and Wilson J. Alvarado, PVT’s William M. Smith, Jr., John H. Miller, James D. Calfee and Juan Garcia Castro.
A fond farewell to Captain James E. Garner, CWO’s Dennis W. Leverett, Harold L. Paige, Allen H. Robb and John C. Duffy, WO’s Daid F. Foushee, Donald A. Seymour and George L. Turner, SSG Henry M. Kwiatkowski, SP/5’s Lloyd A. Olin, Jr., and Sonny J. Lewis, SP/4’s Jack N. Martin and Glen R. Dartner.
Captain Noyes rounded out the month with a promotion party for the company at Beach Bar 10.
The monsoon season began this month and with it came bad weather, wet, slick strips and more mud. The month saw the arrival of the 256th Trans. Det.(ACFT-REP) on the 8th.
A highlight of the month was the promotion of MSGT William E. Hallman. He was transferred later in the month to assume duties as 1st SGT of the 220th Aviation Company, located 40 miles north of Da Nang.
Captain Stuart K. Purks and WO Robert D. Orton left for Bangkok on the 17th. Their maintenance crew was SP/4’s Gary Batterson and Craig B. Moore.
September was a good month for promotions as LT’s William C. Childress and Kenneth S. McTaggart both made their Captain’s bars. WO David S. Kluborg is a new W-2, SP/5 George W. Sisler and SGT Julius R. Gooden both became staff sergeants and SP/4 Michael J. Ferrer is a new SP/5.
New arrivals were highlighted by three new majors. An 18th welcome to Major’s William A. Walker, James C. Greenquist and Stephen Farish, W-2 Fletcher C. Parrish, W-1 Ira M. Stein, SP/4 Calvin Fergusen, Jr., and Jackie L. Coots, PVT’s Daniel P. Graham, Daniel L. Matteson, Gerald W. Hudlin, Wayne R. Hanson, Fred C. Arends, Charles A. Burns, Richard Reymers, James W. Thompson, George Hardwick and Richard D. Weber.
A fond farewell to Captain Thurel J. Poe, CWO David S. Kluborg, SFC Claudio F. Geralde, SGT Lee R. Davis, Jr., SP/5 Edward R. Christie, SP/4’s Michael B. McNab, John H. Rosen, Clarence E. Smith, William J. Kilmon, Robin A. Smith, John M. Manley, John F. Jones, William R. Willis, James D. Weaver and John J. Fromm.
Six Air Medals, three Army Commendation Medals and one Certificate of Achievement were awarded in the month of September.
This month saw the arrival of the long awaited 2nd Otter company to Vietnam. The 54th Avn. Co. set up headquarters in Vung Tau. Major Stephen Farish, 3 commissioned officers, 10 Warrant Officers, SSG Roy G. Harwick and 8 EM along with 8 Otters were transferred to the new company. They took over our platoons in Saigon and Can Tho.
Congratulations are in order for new Captain’s Dan C. Kingman, Jr., Donald K. Mogensen and Donald B. Smith. A party was held on Saturday afternoon in the company area late in the month in honor of the occasion. Congratulations to brand new SP/5 Jackie L. Coots.
WO’s Herrick and Coykendall, SP/5 Miller and PFC Fukuhard are in Bangkok this month.
New arrivals this month were highlighted by Major Russell W. Edwards our new Flight Operations Officer. An 18th welcome also goes out to WO’s Thomas J. Fetch and Carl E. Pearson.
A fond farewell to Captain’s William Hall and Dan C. Kingman, Jr., SFC – E-6 Herbert M. Sutton, our motor pool NCO, SP/5’s Paul Polen, Richard V. Pawlak and Wallace K. Martin, SP/4’s Thomas R. Marchand, Robert G. Leach, James A. Frameli, Michael Snell and Craig B. Moore.
Nine Air Medals were presented during the month along with four Army Commendation Medals. Captain William D. O’Hara, Jr., Platoon Leader of the Can Tho Platoon was the recipient of the Bronze Star to close out the month.
The month of November brought bad weather, IFR flight plans and a new 1st SGT. MSGT Ivey H. Boudreaux became 1st SGT on the 19th replacing MSGT Lawrence R. Wagner who became 1st SGT of the 256th Trans. Det. Along with his promotion to E-8.
Captain’s James E. Johnston and Donald B. Smith, SP/4 Keeble and PFC Rhew spent the month in Bangkok. For some strange reason they didn’t seem too happy about coming back.
New arrivals this month wer e CWO John L. Hueser, WO’s Edward L. Fisk, John D. S. Hartline II, and Wayne B. Hooper, SFC Joseph E. Carer and SSG Paulino Saholan.
A fond farewell to Captain’s William D. O’Hara, Jr., Stuart K. Purks and William J. Wells III, SFC Carl K. Davis, the Contango Club Manager, SP/5 Ronald N. Miller and SP/4 Albert J. Othic.
9 Air Medals and 4 Army Commendation Medals were presented during the month.
The month of December was highlighted by the return of one of its old timers back for a second tour. Captain Richard Quigley was reassigned from the 220th Aviation Company to the 18th Aviation Company as Operations Officer. This was the same job he had in 1964 until he became Commanding Officer when Captain Bailey rotated back to the states.
Other arrivals included Captain John P. Mattson, SSG James A. Ethridge, PFC’s Mace Brothers, Charles Jordan, Bryan Miller and Lawrence Talley.
Lt Fitchett was reassigned from Cockpit Club Officer to Section Leader in Da Nang.
Everyone in the company was thankful for all the Christmas Cards and packages received from the people back home.
The month of December was a relatively quite one and morale was extremely high during the holidays.
1 January 1965 – 31 December 1965
Prepared by Lt. Robert E. Fitchett
Approved by Harold J. Rogers
14th Aviation Bn
UNITED STATES ARMY SUPPORT COMMAND, VIETNAM
APO U.S. FORCES 96307