Tag Archives: 1st air cav

Helicopters in the Vietnam War


The New Cavalry

During the Vietnam War, the United States relied on the helicopter as never before. The helicopter’s role in combat expanded enormously in this conflict as thousands of “choppers” rapidly transported personnel throughout the war zone. Heavily armed helicopters offered a fearsome component to ground operations as close air support.

From March 1970 to April 71, I had the honor of serving with Charlie Troop, 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry, 1st Air Cavalry Division (Airmobile) in Vietnam. We were 100% mobile and made up of three platoons, aero scouts (White platoon) aero weapons (Red platoon) and aero rifle (Blue platoon).

My first duty was radio guy (Blue India) in the bush for the Blues…

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UH-1 ‘Huey’
Lift platoon

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OA-6A ‘Loach’
Scout platoon

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AH-1G Huey Cobra ‘Snake’
Aero Weapons platoon

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Maintenance hanger and flight line at Phuoc Vinh Airfield

The Maintenance platoon’s main job was to keep Charlie Troop’s aircraft running in tip-top condition, which was critical for the success of our missions.

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1st Air Cavalry in Vietnam


“First Team”

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Late at night in March of 1970 our plane landed in Bien Hoa, Vietnam. From there we were bussed to 90th Replacement in Long Binh. It was there I received orders to report to C Troop, 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry, 1st Air Cavalry Division.

If assigned to the 1st Air Cavalry Division, you were given a week of In-Country training before being sent to your new unit. This training was at the First Team Academy in Bien Hoa.

The 1st Air Cavalry Division entered the Vietnam War 50 years ago in 1965. The division’s colors and unit designations was transferred to the 11th Air Assault Division (Test), then at Ft. Benning, Georgia, in July, 1965. They began deploying to Camp Radcliffe, An Khe, Vietnam. The division perfected new tactics and doctrine for helicopter-borne assaults over the next five years in Vietnam.

The 1st Cavalry Division, popularly known as the “First Team,” was the only American division to fight in all four corps tactical zones. The bulk of the division began departing Vietnam in late April 1970, but the 3rd Brigade remained until June 1972. The 1st Cavalry Division was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation and “First Team” soldiers won 25 Medals of Honor, 120 Distinguished Service Crosses, 2,766 Silver Stars, 2,697 Distinguished Flying Crosses, and 8,408 Bronze Stars for Valor.

Charlie Troop 1st Squadron 9th Cavalry Regiment also arrived in 1965. Pat & Carol Bieneman will be hosting a Special Reunion June 30th through July 3rd in Columbus, Georgia honoring the men from Charlie Troop, Headquarters, and Headquarters Troop and Delta Troops.

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The First Cavalry Division (Airmobile), 1965

1st Air Cavalry casualties in Vietnam
5,444 Killed in Action
26,592 Wounded in Action

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“Click” On Images To Enlarge

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Television Coverage of the Vietnam War


The First “Living-Room War”

I entered high school in the middle 60’s when the war in Vietnam was escalating at a rapid pace. Newspapers and magazines were plastered with photos and stories about our involvement in Vietnam. The top stories on the nightly world news were always about the war. Newsmen were often in the middle of the action reporting the horrors of war as it happened.

I enlisted in the Navy shortly after graduating from high school and was on the 120-day delay program before I would become active. The Navy never occurred due to an untimely event in my life. I then became eligible for the draft and I knew Vietnam would be my fate…

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John Hlavacek

In early December 1970, I had the privilege of meeting John Hlavacek a reporter/foreign correspondent for a midwest television station. I was no longer with the Charlie Troop Blues due to an injury on the greenline of Phuoc Vinh and was chosen to be our Troop mail clerk for the remainder of my tour.

John’s mission was to film and interview soldiers serving in Vietnam from the TV viewing area around Sioux City, IA and Omaha, NE. He was putting together a program to be viewed as a TV Special during the 1970 Christmas Holidays. The families of the soldiers were notified by the TV stations ahead of times they could watch their loved ones when the program aired.

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Walter Cronkite

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Dan Rather

“I always want to emphasize, I felt honored — and I use the word measuredly — to cover American men and women in combat in Vietnam. Because, what everyone may think of the war — it may have been the wrong war and the wrong place at the wrong time for the wrong reasons — but the Americans who went there, went there for the right reason. They went there because they loved their country, and their county had asked them to go.”

-Dan Rather

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Photographer Dickey Chapelle

Chaplain John McNamara of Boston makes the sign of the cross as he administers the last rites to photographer Dickey Chapelle in South Vietnam Nov. 4, 1965. Chapelle was covering a U.S. Marine unit on a combat operation near Chu Lai for the National Observer when she was seriously wounded, along with four Marines, by an exploding mine. She died in a helicopter en route to a hospital. She became the first female war correspondent to be killed in Vietnam, as well as the first American female reporter to be killed in action. Her body was repatriated with an honor guard consisting of six Marines and she was given full Marine burial.

There were more images of conflict and battles in Vietnam than any previous war. Many scholars consider Vietnam to be one of the most well documented wars in modern times. War reporters began to report on the bloody battles of the Vietnam War and the Washington politics surrounding it. The American people began losing faith in the war effort and the government. “Reports during the Vietnam War and images from the front line on television were crucial factors in turning public opinion against the war.

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State Veterans Bonuses


Rebates to Veterans

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It dawned on me the other day that I received a check from The State of Iowa in the Seventies for my 13 month tour in Vietnam. I was a resident of Iowa when I entered the service in 1969. I thought it was around $300, but it must have been $227.50 based on the information below.

Iowa offers a Vietnam Conflict Veterans Bonus for Vets that serveded at least 120 days between July 1, 1973, and May 31, 1975.
Payment of $17.50 per month for service in the Vietnam service area.
Payment of $12.50 per month for service outside of the Vietnam service area.
Maximum payment of $500.

Iowa residents who served on active duty for at least 120 days between July 1, 1973 and May 31, 1975 are eligible for this bonus program. Veterans who served in Vietnam will receive $17.50 for each month served. Veterans that served outside of Vietnam during this time will receive $12.50 for each month of service. The maximum bonus amount is $500 for veterans who served in Vietnam and $300 for those who were not in country.

Quite a few states are giving some sort of rebate to veterans. In nearly all cases, the service member must have been a resident of the state when they entered the service, and be a resident of the state at the time of application.

Read more: http://paycheck-chronicles.military.com/2010/09/09/state-veterans-bonuses/#ixzz2bnvyUD8T
The Paycheck Chronicles

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Rolling Thunder


The sound of bombs landing in a small area delivered by B-52s

VIETNAM WAR BOMB CRATERS As our choppers headed toward Saigon, I looked down and could see many craters in the terrain caused by bombs dropped over the course of the war. Quite often the Blues were inserted to assess the damage and detonate unexploded bombs inflicted by B-52 strikes. Our mission in Saigon was for Charlie Troop 1/9th to recon the outskirts of the city in preparation for an upcoming visit by V.P. Agnew scheduled for August 27th, 1970. b52-runway

The 52s had three nick names: *Whispering Death. So called by the NVA because the altitude from which the B52s released their bombs meant you got no warning of their presence. When the bombs arrived was the first sign. Luckily for them bombs do little damage in a jungle. *Rolling Thunder. From the sound of 318 bombs landing in a small area in a carpet bombing mode with only 3 planes. Rarely did the Yanks use only 3 planes. In 3 years they dropped 860,000 TONS of bombs. 52,000 North Vietnamese died as a result. *BUFFS. The troops called them this from “Big Ugly Fat Fuckers” or in the presence of the Vicar or ladies, “Big Ugly Fat Fellows” Their normal bomb load was 84 bombs internally and 24 bombs under the wings. Each bomb weighed 500 pounds. Sometimes they carried 750 lb bombs.

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This photo was taken by Bert Schreibstein at Fire Support Base Buttons in January, 1970. A B-52 air strike (Arc Light) can be seen miles away.

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B-52 bomb craters full of water

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B-52 Stratofortress cutaway

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Hooch Maids


Did various chores for GIs

Hooch maids were paid by the GIs on a monthly basis to do a number of chores. These included doing laundry, making beds, sewing patches on uniforms, cleaning hooches (our sleeping quarters) and a number of odds and ends. The maids could earn as much as a captain in the South Vietnamese Army, although it was often less. Most were paid was about $10.00 per month.

The military generally allowed most officers and non-commissioned men to have hooch maids, whenever these men wanted and requested their services. Some maids reportedly had sex with soldiers to earn extra income…
 
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Photo courtesy of Dennis Junger

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Photo courtesy of Dennis Junger

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Photo courtesy of Richard Lamb

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Photo courtesy of Chris Bussells

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Hooch maid in front Blues hooch

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Phuoc Vinh village

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Working girl of Phuoc Vinh
Photo courtesy of Dennis Junger

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‘Asian Girls gone Wild’
Photo courtesy of Dennis Junger

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Stetson Cavalry Hat


Photo courtesy of retired Air Cav pilot Dan Carbone, who
served in Korea, Germany, Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
Website: http://www.cavhooah.com

The tradition of the Cav Hat began in the early days before the Vietnam War. The 11th Air Assault Division cavalry scout pilots were looking to distinguish themselves from other troops when they adopted the Model 1876 campaign hat for wear. They felt a need to return to the traditions of the Cavalry so long forgotten. LTC John B. Stockton, commander of the 3rd Battalion, 17th Cavalry Regiment, is given credit for establishing the tradition of wearing the Cavalry Stetson, much to the chagrin of the Division command group. By the time the 11th Air Assault Division was redesignated the 1st Cavalry Division (Air Mobile) the members of his unit, the 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, were wearing the hat.

1/9th Commanding Officers, 1970
Major Galen Rosher (Charlie Troop CO) front row far right

Nate Shafer, Scouts door gunner 1970 Pete Guthrie, Blues Plt Ldr 1968-69 & Pat Bieneman, Blue India, 1968-69
These men served in Vietnam with Charlie Troop 1/9th, 1st Air Cavalry Division .

The Cav Stetsons came out in full force for the Zit 990 Dedication Ceremony that was held on May 19, 2012 at the Mott’s Military Museum in Groveport, Ohio.

Blues Mini Reunion (September 2011) hosted by Pat Bieneman and his wife Carol (front row holding saber)

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Charlie Troop Blues Reunion (October 2013) St George Island, Florida

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Robert Duvall from “Apocalypse Now” (1979)

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Going Home


Back to the ‘World’

Although 26 March 1971 officially marked the end of duties in Vietnam for the 1st Cavalry Division, President Nixon’s program of “Vietnamization” required the continued presence of a strong U.S. fighting force.

My DEROS (Date of Expected Return from Overseas) was near so the first part of April, I transferred to Firebase Di An about 12 miles north of Saigon where I waited for my official orders to depart from Vietnam.

My final days in Vietnam were either uneventful or perhaps my mind shut down wanting to forget it all. I do not recall boarding the ‘Freedom Bird’ or where we flew out of, but I did take these pictures.

‘Freedom Bird’ leaving Vietnam taking us back to Oakland Army Base where the journey began.

I remember arriving at Oakland Army Base around midnight to process out of the Army. I thought back thirteen months earlier when I was processing for my entry to Vietnam. The men coming back looked burned out and lacked emotion. That night I understood why because that’s how I felt.

Although I physically left Vietnam, the experience of combat had a profound and life long effect on my frame of mind.

After receiving my last payment from ‘Uncle Sam’ (about seven-hundred bucks) I signed a bunch of papers, releasing me from active duty in the United States Army.

In the wee hours of the morning, a bus took us to a nearby airport where I caught a flight to Los Angeles International Airport. There I boarded a non stop flight to Eppley Airfield in Omaha, where I would be greeted by my family. I recall the strange looks I got from people as I walked through the airport terminal at LAX carrying my war trophy.

My eyes closed as soon as I boarded my last flight and didn’t open until our approach into Eppley. I looked out the window and saw the Missouri River.

I was home at last…

Eppley Airfield Omaha, Nebraska where my parents, two of my brothers and girlfriend (now wife) waited for my arrival…

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1st Squadron 9th Cavalry, 1st Air Cavalry Division (Airmobile)


Camp Gorvad

The 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) was officially activated on July 1, 1965. It was made up of resources of the 11th Air Assault Division (Test) and elements of the 2nd Infantry Division as a part of this reorganization, the 3/17th Cavalry Regiment was redesignated 1/9th.

The Squadron left with the Division for Vietnam in August, 65, wearing the Black Cavalry Stetsons to war for the first time since the Horse Soldier days. On 28 June 71, the 1/9th Cavalry (less B Troop) returned from Vietnam, the most decorated Unit of that war, and assumed the role of the Divisional Reconnaissance Squadron.

It is estimated that the 1/9th was responsible for fifty percent of all enemy soldiers killed by the 1st Cavalry Division during the war. It was for this reason the battalion earned its current nickname “The Headhunters.”

The 1/9th in Vietnam was made up of the following troops:
Headquarters Troop
Alpha Troop
Bravo Troop
Charlie Troop
Delta Troop
Echo Troop
Foxtrot Troop
LRRPs and Rangers
Dog Handlers

The 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry troopers earned three Medals of Honor in Vietnam.

1/9th headquarters, Phuoc Vinh (Camp Gorvad)

Richard Lamb (crew chief) C Troop early August until late October 1968.
Transferred then to HQ Troop as crew chief on the Squadron check-out LOH.
That aircraft was destroyed Christmas Day in a landing mishap and he was
transferred to B Troop Scouts. Shot down Feb 9, 1969 in LOH 16069

Photo courtesy of Richard Lamb

Captured by ‘FIRST TEAM’ in A Shau Valley
Photo courtesy of Jim Delp

Photo courtesy of Jim Delp

Bob Hinote (radio dispatcher) HQ Troop 1/9th, 1969
Photo courtesy of Jim Delp

Presenting Awards

Photo courtesy of Jim Delp

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1/9th Commanding Officers, 1970
Major Galen Rosher (Charlie Troop CO) front row far right

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1/9th Cavalry Regiment Parade Formation at Phuoc Vinh

Jim Delp (HQ Troop 1/9th, 1969) pointing at fresh shrapnel holes in a sign he had just painted.

Jim Delp (left) must have seen a ghost…

Phuoc Vinh Santa

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Charlie Troop Blues


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New guy in country (FNG) gets the radio

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Sgt. Gregory Lee Peffer KIA January 22, 1971

Relaxing – our squad leader Staff Sgt Dave Roger 

 Staff Sgt Dave Roger, Blues medic (right)

Dave Roger, Bob Quintana 

Dave Roger

Dave Roger (right)

Johnny Stiteler, Dave Roger, Eddie Smith, Tony Cruz, Jim Debolt, Tom Connell 

Dave Roger, Dave Parkhurst,  Larry Pruett

Jim Debolt, Dave Roger

SSgt. George D. Slye ‘Blue Mike’ KIA May 2, 1970 (with A Troop 1/9th) 

Blues in the bush

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Jeff Stone, Daffy Dawson

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Staff Sgt Dave Roger guiding chopper into LZ… 

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Dave Roger

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Just a Walk in the Park

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Blues Arriving at Song Be (Fire Support Base Buttons)

LZ Thomas on top of Nui Ba Ra Mountain

LZ Thomas

LZ Thomas

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smoke break

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Charlie Troop Blues at Rang Rang Airfield

Jeff Stone Photo

Blues in the bush

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What War?

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Blues communicating with Lift bird… 

Blues extraction

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One large combo with extra cheese and an order of breadsticks please… 

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Dave Roger (center) with combat engineers

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Blues in Saigon 

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Struck

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My M-60 

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Photo by Mike Thompson (crew chief) 228th Assault Support Helicopter Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division, 1970-71

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Blues in the air 

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Walter Maude with Veronica (Charlie Troop monkey)

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Rob Struck, Tony Mizzi 

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Struck

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‘Peace’ 

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Blues Rappelling 

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‘McGuire’ Rig 

Photo courtesy of Dave Roger

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Struck, ARVN’s

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Eddie Smith, Schumacher, Tom Connell 

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Daffy Dawson, Marv Lundervold, Dave Parkhurst

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 Eddie Smith

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Dave Roger, Rob Struck

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Rob Struck – search and destroy mission

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Home away from home…

PBR time – Dave Roger, Tom Connell, Rob Struck

Mike Melton, Jim Debolt, Bob Porter, George Burns, Dave Parkhurst, Dave Roger     

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Bob Quintana 

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Sgt. Gregory Lee Peffer (center on the ground) KIA January 22, 1971  

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Sgt. Gregory Lee Peffer

Photo courtesy of Ron Peffer

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Sgt. Gregory Lee Peffer on right with unidentified Charlie Trooper

 

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‘Cavalier Blue’ Mike La Chance, Rob Struck ‘Blue India’

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Johnny Stiteler, Charlie Thatcher, ? 

Bob Porter, Gilbert Ortiz

Dave Roger

Dave Roger

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SFC Lionel DeLa Rosa 

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Marv Lundervold (Lucky Lundie), Charlie Thatcher (Thumper), Harvey Bolejack (Boe) 

Dave Roger, Richard Brasteter

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I got a break

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Bob Quintana 

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SFC Lionel DeLa Rosa ‘Blue Mike’, PFC Rob Struck ‘Blue India’ 

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Smith, Struck, Mizzi 

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Bryant

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Eugene Vanasse 

George Burns, Mike Cody 

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Charlie Thatcher (Thumper) 

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Frank (Amigo) Alameda, George Burns, Schumacher 

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Our medic (?), Cadenhead, Struck, Cody, Roger (Mike La Chance on ground)

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 ‘Cavalier Blue’ Mike La Chance (right)

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Rob Struck, Eddie Smith

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Schumacher 

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Struck

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M-60 by my side 

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Vanasse, Debolt, Struck, Johnson 

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Lift Off

Jeff Stone Photo

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Weaver

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Lawrence 

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Johnson, Ancrum (sp), Fingers (nickname), Struck, Robert (Dutch) Florez – Saigon

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Cadenhead

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Robert (Dutch) Florez, Frank (Amigo) Alameda

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Pat Cadenhead, “Cavalier Blue” Lt. John Mackel, Sgt. Tom Criser

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Struck

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Sgt. Larry Pruett, Frank Alameda, Robert (Dutch) Florez, Eugene Vanasse 

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Weaver, ?, Mike Melton, Pat Cadenhead, Frank Biesel

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?, Johnny Stiteler, Eddie Smith, Rob Struck

Johnny Stiteler, Dave Roger

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Bryant, Struck, Mizzi

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Dave Roger on the left knocking down a PBR

Tom Connell, Bob Quintana 

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Struck

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Schumacher, Lawrence, Porter, ?, Doc, Bryant

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‘Cavalier Blue’ Mike La Chance, Rob Struck ‘Blue India’

1966 Blues 

1968, 69 Blues – Patrick Bieneman (front left) 

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1970 Blues – Crouch, Greg Peffer (KIA January 22, 1971), Tom Connell, Johnny Stiteler, Schumacher, Knight, Ringo 

1971 Blues – Gary Pope (right) fourth squad leader

 

 

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