AI CAVALRY - Vietnam Center and Archive · PDF fileAI CAVALRY --..... --_ .. st 1965-December...

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Transcript of AI CAVALRY - Vietnam Center and Archive · PDF fileAI CAVALRY --..... --_ .. st 1965-December...

  • AI CAVALRY --........ --

    _ .. st 1965-December

    This vol ume can be many things to many people-a book of memories, a souvenir. a pictorial essay on alr-mobdity, or simply a story of gallant mcn at war. It can be many things, but one thing it is not. nor does it pretend to be-a complete history of the I st Air Cavalry Division in Vietnam.

    The task and burden of history must lie with the objectivity of future genera-tions, far rcmoved from contemporary

    --... _--Foreword

    pressures and restraints. It is true, of course, that much research for this book has been done from available official records, the ultimate source of written history. But even more has been drawn from the vivid recollections of the Ca\,alrYlllen \\ho fought.ta::,ted the brassy bile of fear. shared the fierce exhultation of victory or were drenched in the dark despair of death.

    This is the story of the small, close

    world of fighting men in action, men who even at this writing still are fighting. This volume contains the memoirs of a fighting team-THE FIRST TEAM. It is a memory of combat; no doubt it is imperfect as all memory, but none-theless real for those who were there, for those who can fill in the inevitable gaps.

    It does not presume to be more than that.

  • 2

    To the 1 st Cavalry Division Sky trooper

    Phuoc Vinh 12 February 1970 Men of the Cav:

    This is your story-the story of the FIRST TEAM from its reactivation at Fort Benning through the years of fighting in Viemam. Those who worked and trained in the days of the test division at Fort Benning before coming to Vietnam will find a memory included here, too. This book is more than a history; more than an illustrated after-action report. It is the story of men, told in words and in pictures, men who have fought valorously and who have carried the banners of the FIRST TEAM proudly on to new and greater honors. It is, in effect, a book of memories.

    Since the vivid recollections of a man who served in an infantry battalion differ from one who served in an artillery battalion, and because the oudook at brigade level is substan-tially more detailed than the view at the top, this book has been organized to give several perspectives. There is a section devoted to each battalion and separate company in the division, a section for each brigade and one for the division as a whole. I will not attempt to summarize the history contained in this book, but I would be remiss not to pay reverent respect to those fallen Sky troopers who have given their lives in the service of their country. It is to their memory that this book is dedicated. All profits from the sale of this book will go to the Education Foundation of the 1st Cavalry Division Association to provide educational scholarships for the children of our comrades who made the supreme sacrifice in Viemam and once again paid the price of freedom.

    To every Sky trooper who has faithfully served this division, it is my sincere hope that in years to come this book will sti-mulate reminiscences and will always serve to remind all that in Vietnam, as it was in World War II and Korea, the FIRST TEAM remained-ALWAYS FIRST!

    .eP /.?/?d.i/a -E. B. ROBERTS MAJOR GENERAL, USA Commanding

    12 20 25 44 48 52 57 62 67 72 76 8 1 86 9 1 96

    100 104 11 2 114 11 8 122 126 130 134 140 142 146 150 154 156 158 162 166 170 174 178 180 186 190 192 194 195 196 198 200 203 2 16 22 1 226 233 237 238 241 244 295

    Contents I ' Division' 192 1- 1965 The 1st Cava IY d . i I ill Air Assaull Divisioll

    AirmobIle Antecel ents 'Vietnam: 1965- 1969

    The 1 st AI r Cava I Y In 1 st Brigade 2nd Brigade 3rd Brigade I st Battal ion, 5th Cavalry 2nd Battalio n, 5th Cavalry 1 st Batta lio n, 7th Cavalry 2nd Battalio n, 7th Cava lry 5th Batta lio n, 7th Cavalry 1 st Batta lio n, 8th Caval ry ?nd Bat ta lio n, 8th Cavalry 1st Batta lio n, 12th Ca valry 2nd Battalio n, 12th Cavalr y . The Infa ntry: II pitlorilli jell lw e I st Squadron , 9th Cavalry Di vision Artillery . 2nd Battalio n, 19th Artillery 1st Batta li o n, 2 1st ArttilelY I st Batta li on, 30th ArttilelY 1st Batw li or" 77 th Artlll cl Y

    . 8? nd Arttllery Echo Battel Y, - .'. I A '(Ilcry) 20th Artil lery 2nd l3attairo n (Aell

  • 4

    GENERAL

    CREIGHTON W. ABRAMS

    COMUSMACV

    GENERAL

    WILLIAM B. ROSSON

    DEPUTY COMUSMACV

  • LIEUTENANT GENERAL

    JULIAN EWELL

    COMMANDING GENERAL

    II FIELD FORCE

    LIEUTENANT GENERAL

    THOMAS MILDREN

    COMMANDING GENERAL USARV

  • 1ST AIR CAVALRY DIVISION COMMAi'~DERS

    MAJOR GENERAL

    HARRY W.O. KINNARD

    MAJOR GENERAL

    JOHN J. TOLSON

    MAJOR GENERAL

    JOHN NORTON

    MAJOR GENERAL

    GEORGE I. FORSYTHE

  • BRIGADIER GENERAL

    ROBERT M. SHOEMAKER

    ASSISTANT DIVISION COMMANDER.B

    BRIGADIER GENERAL

    GEORGE W. CASEY

    ASSISTA T DIVISION COMMANDERA

  • ASSIST ANT DIVISION COMMA~~DERS

    MAJOR GENERAL RICHARD T. KNOWLES

    MAJOR GENERAL JOHN M. WRIGHT, JR.

    MAJOR GENERAl. WILLLA:M A. BECKER

    BRIGADIER GENE.RAL

    GEORGE B. BLANCHARD

    LATE BRIGADIER GENERAL \

    '--___________ ALFRED J. F. MOODY l

  • BRJGADJF.R GENERAl. EDWARD H. DESAUSSURE,jR.

    RRIGAJ)]ER GENERAL

    RICHARD L. LRBY

    BRIGADIER GENHRAL

    OSCAR E. DAVIS

    HRIGAl)IER GHNERAI.

    WLLLlAM E. SHEDD, 1II

    13 R.IGAI )IER GENliRAI,

    FRANK MESZAR

  • DIVISION CHIEFS OF STAFF

    Colonel George S. Beatty Colonel Herbert E. Wolf Colonel George W. Casey Colonel George W. Putnam, Jr. Colonel Conrad L. Stansberry Colonel Robert N. MacKinnon Colonel Robert M. Shoemaker Colonel Joseph P. Kingston

    DIVISION COMMAND SERGEANTS MAJOR Command Sergeant Major Chester R. Westervelt Command Sergeant Major Kenneth W. Cooper Command Sergeant Major W. O. Marshall Command Sergeant Major Jack Moore Command Sergeant Major Vern O. Peters Command Sergeant Major Lawrence E. Kennedy

  • The First Cavalry Division

    1921- 1965

    The I st Cava lry Di vision was activated as a Regular Army diviSion on Septem-ber 12, 192 1, under the new Nati ona l Defen se Act. Three days later th e 7th a nd 8th Cavalry Regiments we re assigned to the dIvisio n. The 5th Cavalry Regi-ment was assigned o n Dece mber 18, 1922. Until 1932 the 1st Cava lry Regi-ment was assigned to the divi sion, making the Cavalry a "square" division. In 1932 the 12th Cava lry Regiment replaced the 1st, and remained with the division until the M arch 1949, reo rganizati on, when it was disba nded as the di vision assum ed the " tri angula r" (three-regiment) con-fi guration of a regular infantry divi sion .

    1 n addition . to three of the four regi-ments of cavalry the original organiza-ti on included the 82nd Field Artillery Battalion (Horse), the 8th Engineer Battalion (Moun ted), th e 13th Signa l Troop, the 27th Ordna nce Company, Divisio n Headqua rters and the 1st Cava lry Di vision Qua rterm aster Tra in , which later beca me th e 15th Replacement Company.

    Major Ge neral Robert L. Howze was assigned as the fir st di vision co mma nder.

    In 1923 the division assembled in the Camp M arfa a rea in Texas for its first maneuver and for the nex t four years was engaged in training and pa trolling the F ort Bliss, Camp Clark and Camp M a rfa a rea, aga in engagin g in combined maneuvers in 1927.

    The division engaged in ma neuvers in 1936 at Camp Ma rfa, Texas, a nd in 1938 a nd 1939 at Balmorhea, Texas. Following the Third Army ma neuvers in Louisia na in 1940, th e divi sion (less the I st Brigade) constructed canto nments for 20,000 a nti-a ircraft troops at Fo rt Bli ss and too k part in the development of the EI Paso Air Base.

    In 1941 the entire division was assem-bled at Fort Bli ss for extensive fi eld training. The strength of the divi sion was increased by the activation of the 61 Sl F ield Artillery Ba ttalion as the first

    12

  • medium support artillery of the divi-

    sio n and the authorized personnel

    strength was increased from 3,575 to

    10, 110 men.

    WORLD WAR II

    In 1942, troopers of the 1st Cavalry

    D ivisio n were still horse soldiers.

    T he changeover from horses to jeeps

    came in February 1943 when the divi sion

    received orders assigning it overseas.

    U nder the command of Major General

    In nis P. SWIft, it arrived in Austra lia

    on July 26 and went thro ugh six months

    of j ungle and amphibious training at

    Camp Strathpine, near Brisbane. Early

    in 1944, the division moved to Oro

    Bay, New Guinea, where fina l prepa ra-

    tions were made for an assault into the

    Admiralty Islands north of New Guinea

    and west of the So lomons. O n the morning of February 29 a

    shattering naval bombardment preceded

    the 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry, as it led

    the rest of the regiment into Hayane

    Harbor on Los Negros Island. Waves

    of land ing craft filed through a dan ger-

    ously narrow channel under fire. But

    the loca tion of the landings had been a

    surprise to the Japanese.; their defenses

    were oriented toward the la rger Seeadl er

    Harbor on the other side of the island.

    Before they could shift their concen-

    trations eastward to meet the onrushing

    Cavalrymen, the Momote Airstrip and

    much surrounding territory was in

    American hands.

    The Japanese infiltrated the perimeter

    at night and launched a series of bloody,

    although futile, counterattacks. But as

    one prong of the American advance

    swept northward up the Mokerang

    Peninsula, the other squeezed the J