Unit Operations

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1968 Annual Supplement


1 Jan 1968 - The 187th gets a maintenance stand down, What a way to celebrate the new year, Everyone enjoyed the relaxation with the exception of the Maintenance personnel of course.

2 Jan 1968 - The Rat Pack gunships killed six Viet Cong when they responded to a call for gunship cover in the early morning hours at Fire Support Base Burt twenty five miles northeast of Tay Ninh.  The base bad been hit by an enemy mortar attack and a ground attack was underway when the Rat Pack arrived on the scene and disrupted the enemy assault by 2 NVA Regiments.  This was the battle of Soui Cut.

5 Jan 1968 - The Blackhawks became involved in a fierce battle with a large NVA force while on short final to an LZ, thirty five mikes northwest of Tay Ninh.  Two helicopters were shot down by the heavy enemy automatic weapons fire.  One crew member, SP5 Kenneth Scruton was killed.  The three remaining crew, Warrant Officer Mercer, Warrant Officer Jordan and SP4 Seitz were down in an enemy infested area for two hours before they were rescued.   The only weapon among them was one .45 caliber pistol.  The Blackhawks continued the combat assault missions into the hostile area and later that afternoon, they returned for extractions.  Again they received heavy enemy resistance.  The flight was mortared while shut down at a nearby fire support base.  Throughout the day, ten crew members were wounded and eleven aircraft sustained damage from the ballistic assault.

6 Jan 1968 - The 187th gels a maintenance stand down in an effort to repair the heavily damaged aircraft from the previous day's action.

9 Jan 1968 - While inserting troops in an LZ thirty two miles northeast of Tay Ninh, the 187th received heavy enemy anti aircraft fire.   One gunship was hit by a 50 caliber round and wounded the pilot Warrant Officer Thomas Eatmon.  The flight of troop carrying helicopters received air bursts while executing low level approaches into the LZ.

17 Jan 1968 - Warrant Officer John T. Jordan earned his second Oak Leaf Cluster to The Purple Heart.  He was wounded twice by enemy ground fire within eleven days during the month of January and once in October 1967.   On the 17th he was wounded in the leg by a .30 caliber round while flying on a general support mission at 2400 feet. After checking with the medical attendants at Dau Tieng he remarked that it was only a scratch and continued to fly his mission.

February - 1968 Go Top

5 Feb 1968 -   Submitted by Bob "Frenchie" Gibeault  -  Tet was very hot and info is incomplete for Feb:     At 1220 hrs, a Rat Pack fire team on RRF was scrambled to support a Tac-E by 2/12th Infantry.  Capt. Henry 'Stinger 95'  was heavily engaged along Highway 1, in the Hoc Mon district against elements of the 271st, 272nd Main Force regiments as well as the 4th Go Mon battalion.   At approximately 1816 hrs 'Stinger 95' reported a Rat Pack gunship in trouble.  The gunner was wounded in the elbow and the rocket pods on the gunners side had to be blown due to heavy damage and fire.  The gunner was taken to the 25th Div field hospital, and a another rocket pod was secured at Cu Chi.  Rat Pack fire teams returned to the area of engagement and elements of 2/12th were able to withdraw from the enemy encirclement.  187th SGT. Rogers reported to battalion that no gun ships were available for the next day due to heavy damage.  Crew chief on Bob's (Frenchie's) ship was Bob Icard.   AC and PP unknown.

16 Feb 1968 - Major Russell J. Folta became the commander of the 187th Assault Helicopter Company.  The Blackhawks conducted a combat assault mission in an area Five miles north of Saigon.   The flight encountered enemy automatic weapons fire and Lieutenant Henry L Wyatt II escaped serious injury when a round penetrated the floor and lodged in a book under his seat entitled "The Source".  He wrote to the author, James Michener, about the incident.  Within a week he received a letter from the author and an autographed copy of the novel.  The Tay Ninh Base Camp was hit by an enemy rocket and mortar attack that night. Three helicopters were damaged by flying shrapnel.  One crew member Sp4 Dennis J. Lulof was killed and eight other Blackhawks were wounded.  The attack continued until 0400 in the morning .

l7 Feb 1968 - The 187th was granted another maintenance stand down so that the maintenance personnel could work on the damaged helicopters. All other personnel spent the day filling sand bags and digging deeper holes.   Again that night, the base camp was hit by a rocket and mortar attack.

March - 1968 Go Top

1 Mar 1968 - The 187th begins a campaign to find another name for the unit.   Another aviation unit arrived in Vietnam with a heritage to the name "Blackhawks" which dates back to 1832; the 7th Squadron, 1st Air Cav arrived in DiAn, RVN.

3 Mar 1968 - Nine aviators from the 7th of 1st Cav arrived for "in-country" training with the 187th.  Regardless of the unit name conflict the guest were accepted warmly in a manner for which the 187th has always been noted.

9 Mar 1968 - The aviators of the 7th of the 1st Cav Blackhawks returned to their unit after training with the 187th in combat assault and general support missions.   New aviators have always been accepted warmly by the Crusaders of the 187th but never in the past have any of them returned with our name.

10 Mar 1968 - The 187th Assault Helicopter Company voter on a new unit name.   The name "Crusaders" met approval and a vigorous program was initiated to spread the word.  New signs and symbols were placed in the company area.

23 Mar 1968 - On this day an official ceremony was conducted to publicly announce the new name of the 187th Assault Helicopter Company.   From this day on the unit will be the "Crusaders".  Television and radio personnel covered the event and the 25th Infantry Division Band added to the pomp and circumstance.  The 187th served as a Ready Reaction Force and the ceremony was interrupted when the flight received an urgent call to respond immediately to an assault mission near Phuoc Vinh, RVN.  The "Crusaders" scrambled to their helicopters and departed for the mission which continued through the hours of darkness.   The ceremony was never finished

27 Mar 1968 - The Crusaders flew combat Assaults around the Duc Hoa Area.  They flew 304 sorties, carried 525 passengers and 5 tons of cargo, they did not encounter any enemy fire.

April - 1968 Go Top

1 Apr 1968 - The Crusaders, working with the 199th Light, Inf. Brigade, flew 256 sorties and carried 302 passengers.  The flight encountered light semi automatic fire from grid XT 300290.  The Rat Pack was credited with 4 kills by actual body count and 1 estimated, with 9 structures and 7 sampans destroyed around the AP Bao area.

6 Apr 1968 - The Crusaders working with the 199th Lt. Inf. Bdg. had another long day, they flew 406 sorties, carried 669 passengers and 4 tons of cargo.  The flight logged 119.1 hours.

11 Apr 1968 - The Crusaders had another long but fulfilling day.  They worked with the 5th Ranger Group, 101st ABN, with II Field Forces as alt.  The Crusaders flew 539 sorties, carried 531 passengers and 10 tons of cargo, logging 114.1 hours.  The flight encountered heavy small arms fire but did not receive any hits.  The Rat Pack was credited with 3 kills by actual count and 2 sampans destroyed.

12 Apr 1968 - A sad day for the Crusaders.  While flying support for 3rd BDE. 25th Inf. Div., a Rat Pack gun ship received 6 to 7 .51 cal hits to the rear of the engine compartment.  The ship went down and resulting in 3 KIA's and 1 WIA.

A/C - WO1 Stephen John Eckle - KIA
Pilot - WO1 John Francis Fitzgerald - KIA
Crew Chief - SP5 Harold Allen Tharp Jr. - KIA
Door Gunner - John L. Wilcox -

The Area of operation was North East of Dau Tieng at the Northern tip of the Michelin Rubber Plantation.  The flight flew 351 sorties, carried 695 passengers and logged a total of 89.6 hours.

29 Apr 1968 - The Crusaders worked again with the 3rd BDE 25th Inf. Div. in the Michelin Rubber Plantation east of Dau Tieng. The flight received light small arms fire resulting in 1 WIA who was medevaced to Long Binh. The flight flew 293 sorties, carrying 683 passengers.

May - 1968 Go Top

1 May 1968 - The Crusaders supporting the 1 BDE 25th Inf. Div. flew 320 sorties, carried 617 passengers and logged 81.4 hours.  The flight received one hit from small arms fire at XS 553937, West of Saigon at the horse shoe.

8 Apr 1968 - The Crusaders again supported the 1st BDE 25th Inf. Div. flying 349 sorties, carrying 429 passengers.  The flight received 3 hits from light small arms fire in the Ap Ria between Trang Bang and Trung Lap, grid XT 542213.

11 May 1968 - The Crusaders flew 396 sorties, carried 744 passengers, logged 112.7 hours while supporting the 3rd BDE 25th Inf. Div.   The flight received small arms fire from the Michelin Rubber Plantation grid XT 542539, resulting in 1 hit on a UH-1 aircraft.

14 May 1968 The Crusaders supporting 1 BDE 25th Inf. Div and 3 BDE 25th Inf. Div. Flew 275 sorters carried 814 passengers and logged 102.3 hours.

The flight received heavy anti aircraft fire 3 klicks East of Trang Bang along Highway 1, grid XT 533187, which resulted in 2 aircraft hits and 1 crew member wounded.  The flight was credited with 1 kill by actual body count.

15 May 1968 -The Rat Pack, while working for 1 BDE 25th Inf. Div., spotted a 122 mm rocket launcher North of Tay Ninh Base Camp grid XT 091545, the rocket launcher was brought under fire by the Rat Pack and destroyed.

19 May 1968  - The Crusaders, while flying for the 1st BDE 25th Inf., flew 318 sorties and 549 passengers.  They encountered enemy fire and was cleared to return fire.  One UH-1D helicopter received shrapnel from a 2.75 and two enemy bunkers were destroyed.

25 May 1968  - While supporting the 1st Bde. 25th Inf Div., the Crusaders flew 501 sorties and carried 788 passengers.   Enemy fire was received and 3 UN-1d's received hits from automatic weapons fire.

29 May 1968  - While flying Combat Assaults for the 2nd Bde 25th Div., the Crusaders received enemy fire.   After obtaining clearance the Rat Pack rolled in and soon claimed possible (unreadable)VC killed and one sampan.

June - 1968 Go Top

1 June 1968  - The Crusaders while flying CA for the 2nd Bde flew 362 sorties and 468 passengers.  They received moderate automatic weapons fire and took 4 hits.   They quickly responded and claimed 2 VC killed by body count.

19 June 1968 -  While working for the 3rd Bde 25th Div., the Crusaders flew 392 sorties and carried 720 passengers.  Three enemy bunkers were spotted and destroyed.

24 June 1968 -  The Crusaders, supporting the 101st ARB, flew 363 sorties and carried 687 passengers.  Total hours flown was 122.5, another long day for the Crusaders!

July - 1968 Go Top

12 July 1968  -  While flying Combat Assault for the 101st Airborne, the Crusaders received small arms fire.  The Rat Pack rolled in and destroyed 4 structures and killing at least 2 VC. They got one secondary explosion from their attack.

August - 1968 Go Top

5 Aug 1968   - The Crusaders while working around the Sugar Mill received heavy small arms fire, resulting in four aircraft receiving hits and having two crew chiefs wounded.

23 Aug 1968  -  The Crusaders picked up 14 US WIA's and 2 US KIA's at XT 402440 and carried them to Dau Tieng.

30 Aug 1968   -  While working for the 101st, the Crusaders flew 426 sorties, carried 777 passengers and logged a total of 150.9 hours, a long day for the Crusaders.

September - 1968 

5 Sep 1968 - The Crusaders flew 319 sorties, hauled 685 passengers for the 1st Bde 25th Inf. Div. and the 101st Airborne, while logging a total of 137.9 hours.  The Crusaders received one aircraft hit resulting in one WIA crew member, while flying over the Michelin Rubber Plantation.

12 Sep 1968  -  The Rat Pack received two hits while flying over the rubbers southeast of Tay Ninh between Highway 22 and Highway 26. They were flying support for the 1st Bde 25th Inf.Div.

15 Sep 1968  -  While supporting the 2d Bde 25th Inf. Div, the flight encountered moderate small arms fire from a village six thousand meters east of the Mushroom, Grid XT 646328, which resulted in three aircraft hits and two crew members wounded.  The Village was destroyed.

21 Sep 1968  - The Crusaders, while working for the 2d Bde 25th Inf div, flew 225 sorties, carried 423 passengers and logged a total of 146.9 hours.  The Crusaders were credited with 5 VC KIA's by actual body count.

Oct - 1968 Go Top

12 Oct 1968   -  The Crusaders had a maintenance stand down so the crews and maintenance personnel could work on the aircraft in order to get them in top condition.

21 Oct 1968   -  The Crusaders, while working for the 1st Bde 25th Inf, flew 348 sorties, carried 705 passengers and transported five tons of cargo. So ended another rough day for the Crusaders.

24 Oct 1968   -  While on combat assault operations for the 3rd Bde 25th Inf., the Crusaders received enemy small arms fire five miles south of Dau Tieng.   We received hits on two ships and three crew members were wounded.  Our gunships claimed 1 VC killed by body count.

Nov - 1968 Go Top

4 Nov 1968   -  While working for the 3rd Bde, 25th Inf. Div. the Crusaders received light enemy small arms fire around the vicinity of the "Mushroom."   There was one aircraft hit but no casualties arose from this incident.

7 Nov 1968   - The Crusaders flying Combat Assaults for the 3rd Bde received moderate enemy small arms fire north of the "Mushroom."  One UH1H was hit but no one was injured.

18 Nov 1968 -   While working for the 11th FFV, the Crusaders flew 472 sorties transporting 538 passengers and 11 tons of cargo.  They received fair and accounted for 1 VC killed (confirmed) and two others estimated.

27 Nov 1968  - The day before Thanksgiving started out bad for the Crusaders and ended the same way.  On one of the first insertions the enemy were waiting in the LZ for the flight to come in.  They opened up with heavy small arms and anti-aircraft fire while the flight was on short final.  The trail ship was hit by an RPG and went down in flames killing one crewmember and seriously wounding the rest of the crew.  The ship that came back in to pick up the downed crew received so many hits that it too went down about one mile out of the LZ.   No one was injured in this forced landing.  Total casualties for the one LZ were one KIA, and 10 WIA's.  Out of the flight of 10 ships only one or two escaped without taking hits.  Two ships had too many hits to even try and count them. 

Although hit hard, the Crusaders lived up to their reputation and continued to fly support for the ground unit until late that night when the second tragedy struck. 

The Crusader flare ship, UH-1H #65-09620 went down in flames killing all five people on board.  When the flight finally came home, there were only five ships left in it.

Killed in action this day were:

SP4 James Gregory Brady
SGT Jerome Dee Chandler
SP5 David DeWitt Creel
WO1 Allen Eugune Duneman
SP4 Fredrick Harry Frazer
1LT August Karl Ritzau

28 Nov 1968  -  Thanksgiving Day was celebrated with the traditional dinner but hearts mourned the loss of friends and fellow Crusaders.

December - 1968 

3 Dec 1968 -   While working with the 1st and 3rd Bde 25th Inf Div the Crusaders logged 142.4 hours, flew 463 sorties and hauled 563 soldiers. The flight received one hit, but no one was injured, from XT 565 355, just northwest of the "Mushroom."   Another long day for the Crusaders.

7 Dec 1968  -  Flying 401 sorties, carrying 454 passengers and logging a total of 140 hours, proved "no sweat" for the Crusaders while supporting the 2nd Bde 25th Inf Div.  One of the Rat Pack ship received light automatic weapons fire resulting with only one hit on the aircraft.

25 Dec 1968   The Crusaders celebrated Christmas by flying 107 sorties, carrying 238 passengers.  Not a hard day as usual, but still tiring. The flight was on strip alert for a prisoner release by the VC.

28 Dec 1968 Another sad day for the Crusaders. "Smokey" a UH-1C smoke ship was shot down while on a run putting down a smoke screen so the Command and Control aircraft could land in and take off from the LZ safely.  Two of the smoke ship's crew,
SP4 Stephen C. Ponty Jr. and WO1 Gerald David Markland were killed and Aircraft Commander WO Roger Howell, Crusader "25" and Sp5 Marshall were wounded.  Another Rat Pack ship was shot down at the same time resulting in the pilot and aircraft commander receiving slight wounds.

31 Dec 1968   - The last day of December and the last day of 1968 saw the flight close out the year with a light day.  They flew 370 sorties, logged a total of 80.0 hours while working for the 1st Bde 25th Inf.

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