These were a group of two helicopters a Loach, White platoon and a Cobra gun ship, Red platoon. The concept was the Loach would fly low and in tight circles to draw enemy fire. Then when the enemy was spotted the Cobra would use their fire power (miniguns and rockets) to attack.
When the situation warranted, the Blues would be inserted to fix the enemy until a larger force could be committed to the area. The Blues would also search out bunker complexes, possible cache sites, and conduct ground reconnaissance.
The Pink team would provide air cover for the Blues at all times while on the ground.
WO Randy R. Zahn (Cobra pilot) & WO Walker A. Jones (Loach and Cobra pilot)
Gunner SGT Ford (back)
Photo by Walker A. Jones
I recently purchased Randy Zahn’s book “Snake Pilot”. As I read it, I felt right back in the thick of things because Randy flew ‘high bird’ on many missions while I was on the ground with the Blues. As Blue India I had direct radio contact with him on numerous occasions. He gives a very detailed account of events as they unfolded before and during his Vietnam tour. He arrived in Vietnam shortly before the 1970 U.S. Invasion of Cambodia and was a Cobra pilot in Charlie Troop, 1/9th.
Zahn writes with authority about the duties and responsibilities of the high bird in a Pink team, the armed helicopter from the troop’s Red (weapons) platoon that kept watch over the Loach (light observation helicopter) from the white (scout) platoon. As a 19-year-old, fresh out of flight school, he went through a five-month apprenticeship in the front seat to qualify as an aircraft commander (AC). As an AC, he had responsibility not only for his own aircraft and the life of his front seater, but also for the little bird and its crew, the Hueys from the Lift platoon that inserted the Blues of the aero-rifle platoon and the Blues themselves once they were on the ground…
On March 12th, 2000 Walker A. Jones started the Charlie Troop 1/9th message board on Yahoo, which currently has 130 members. It is a way for current and former members, family and true friends of Charlie Troop, 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile), Vietnam, 1965-71 to communicate with each other. Walker moderated the message board for many years from his distant home in France almost daily and recently moved back to the States.
This board has reconnected many men who served together while with Charlie Troop 1/9th during the Vietnam War. Many thanks to Walker for his dedication in keeping Charlie Troop spirit alive…