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…


UH-1 ‘Huey’
Lift platoon


OA-6A ‘Loach’
Scout platoon


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


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”


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.


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…


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.


Walter Cronkite


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


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

welcome home vietnam vets

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.


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.


B-52 bomb craters full of water


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…

Photo courtesy of Dennis Junger


Photo courtesy of Dennis Junger


Photo courtesy of Richard Lamb


Photo courtesy of Chris Bussells


Hooch maid in front Blues hooch




Phuoc Vinh village


Working girl of Phuoc Vinh
Photo courtesy of Dennis Junger


‘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)


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


Robert Duvall from “Apocalypse Now” (1979)


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