18th 54th 18th CAC Aviation Association

[From the annual historical supplement of the 18th Aviation Company, 1 January - 31 December 1970]

The unit structure of the 18th Aviation Company for 1970 was the same as the previous year, although one important change occurred during the year. The Headquarters and service platoon remained at Qui Nhon.

The First platoon ("Seagulls") started the year at Nha Trang but in October 1970 moved to Tuy Hoa.

They supported:
1st Field Force Headquarters
5th SFG Headquarters Asia Headquarters
Joint United States Public Affairs Office
17th Combat Aviation Group

The mission carries them through the length of the country and help explain the 18th proud claim that their planes from from the "Delta to the DMZ".

The Second Platoon had one section ("Eagles") at Pleiku. The second platoon is split with one section located in Pleiku and the other section in Da Nang.

The Pleiku Section of the section platoon is known as the "Eagles ". This section continues the role that brought the unit to Vietnam, direct support of the Special Forces "A" camp of B Co. SFG. In addition this section also provides courier and airlift services for the Headquarters advisory personnel of the II Military Region.

The ("Phoenix") Section at Da Nang, provides and proudly serves the northern most provinces along the DMZ.  This section supports the 67th Medical Group and I Military Region Headquarters, providing airlift of anything from Mail and food to VC prisoners.

January 1970

[No significant events noted in unit historical supplement for this month.]

February 1970

[No significant events noted in unit historical supplement for this month.]

March 1970

Brought improved flying conditions, therefore missions and flight hours began a steady climb.

April 1970

Brought with it even better flight conditions.

May 1970

Was very profitable for the Reliable aircraft, for the coastal regions were experiencing good flying weather while the Central Highlands had lower ceilings and reduced visibility due to the monsoons. Seventy-five percent of the missions are flown along the coastal provinces from the "Delta to the DMZ", thus accounting for the high mission completion.

June 1970

Was a repeat of May as far as mission accomplishment is concerned, until the 27th.

Crash and loss of Reliable 250, 2 crew and 2 passengers

On 27 June 1970 while flying in support of Bravo Company, 5th Special Forces Group out of Pleiku, aircraft 5-53250 piloted by CW2 Fabrick met a tragic fate. On an aborted landing attempt at Dak Pek Special Forces Camp the aircraft crashed and burned on the north end of the strip, killing the copilot, the crew chief and two passengers.

July 1970

Change of Command

Major Thomas L. McCord assumed command of the 18th from Major William Bloemsma on 31 July 1970.

August 1970

[No significant events noted in unit historical supplement for this month.]

September 1970

Proved best year with 1031 hours flown due to extremely good weather caused by the shift in monsoon season.

October 1970

Was a very busy month for the 1st Platoon when they moved from Nha Trang to Tuy Hoa along with the 17th Aviation Group Headquarters.

On 14 October 1970, Captain Mackay McDonald experienced a complete engine seizure shortly after takeoff from Qui Nhon Army Airfield. The aircraft was successfully landed on a beach 10 miles to the south of Qui Nhon where a Chinook helicopter retrieved the passengers and crew. The aircraft was safely evacuated after the wings were removed on the beach.

November 1970

Brought deteriorating weather along the coastal provinces, flight hours started dropping but moral was high due to the upcoming festive holiday season. Thanksgiving day was very heart warming, for a large number of the children from the Save the Children Hospital devoured their first turkey dinner in the 18th and HHC 223rd mess hall.

December 1970

Change of Command

Captain Rhoderick K. Patrick assumed command of the 18th from Major Thomas L. McCord on 1 December 1970.

Combat loss of Reliable 298 over water, Not recovered

On 23 December 1970 aircraft 5-53298 “Reliable 298” piloted by WO1 Michael W. McAndrews, WO1 Bain W. Wiseman, & crew chief SP4 Gary P. Booth was returning from Tuy Hoa on a Special Forces mission to Bien Hoa and had already radioed Tuy Hoi tower that they were 15 miles south for a landing. This radio call was the last thing heard for 298. Witnesses testified that “Reliable 298” was seen burning in flight and impacted into the South China Sea in two parts about eight miles south of Tuy Hoa. Neither the aircraft nor the remains of the three crew members have been recovered.

Needless to say the Christmas spirit of the Low, Slow and Reliable was severely dampened.

Christmas at Save The Children Hospital

Even though saddened by the loss of three brothers on the 23rd, the Officers and Men of the unit still had it in them for the kids of Qui Nhon.  A float had been built with Santa's Sleigh complete with Santa in his costume and reindeer.  The float toured Qui Nhon City while Santa and ten children from Save The Children Hospital threw thousand pounds of candy to the bright eye little ones in the street.   The day was capped off by passing out gifts to all the children at Save The Children Hospital.

Crash of Reliable 325

On 30 December 1970, aircraft 5-53325 had landed at Cam Ranh Army Airfield and was attempting to turn around in heavy winds when the aircraft nosed over causing extensive damage to the prop, sudden engine stoppage and damage to fuselage tail cone.

Updated statistics: Between 1962 and the end of 1970, the company transported more than 430,000 passengers, in excess of 26.5 million pounds of cargo, while flying 110,000 hours over a distance of 11 million miles.

Now nearing its ninth consecutive year of combat support missions in the Republic of Vietnam, the 18th Aviation Company has taken the honor as the oldest fixed wing unit in Vietnam today and the 1st fixed wing unit to arrive in Vietnam in Feb 1962.  Each year of its operation is almost a chronicle of the Vietnam War.

There is little doubt that if an inquiry was taken of a roster of Vietnam Veterans a good number of them would recall the 18th and its "Otters".  In Memory of those who flew above the best 6 February 1962 - 31 December 1970:
Captain Curtis J. Steckbauer
Captain Clarence L. Moorer
Second Lieutenant Louis A. Carricarte
Specialist Five Michael P. Martin, Jr.
Private Duane E. Limberg
Specialist Five Joseph Benson
Private First Class Kenneth B. Sykes
Private First Class Jerry W. R. Sanks
Private First Class John J. Victory
Chief Warrant Officer Wayne E. Jones
Warrant Officer Don R. Harger
Warrant Officer Lance M.Lofman
Specialist Four Gary Pridgen
Warrant Officer Michael W. McAndrews
Warrant Officer Bane Wiseman
Specialist Four Gary P. Booth

18th Aviation Company - Vietnam (9th year)