92nd Aviation Company

Unit History
 

 

Vietnam History

 

 

Viet Cong Attack Caribou 93-9724 (cn 158) at Pleiku

Early in the early morning of February 7, 1965, two days before my twenty-sixth birthday, the Viet Cong launched a mortar attack on the MACV compound at Pleiku. At the same time, sappers penetrated the perimeter at Camp Holloway, which was nearby, and placed satchel charges on or near most of the aircraft and at key locations on the airfield. The enemy also lobbed dozens of mortar round into the barracks area. The attacks killed eight Americans and wounded another 104. The flight line was turned into a graveyard of destroyed and heavily damaged fixed and rotary wing aircraft.

On February 10, 1965, the hotel in Qui Nhon which housed the members of the 140th Transportation Detachment (our direct support maintenance detachment) was destroyed by a powerful explosive charge, which was placed on the first floor of the building--twenty-seven members of the 140th were killed.Later in the month, enemy mortar rounds heavily bombarded the air base at Ben Hoa. And on March 30, 1965, the U.S. Embassy in Saigon was severely damaged by explosive charges placed by the Viet Cong. Throughout the same period--February and March--enemy attacks against Special Forces camps throughout the country were also increased.

The Viet Cong attacks signaled more aggressive actions by the Viet Cong against American installations throughout South Vietnam. The acceleration of the Vietnam War had begun In less than an hour of the attack on Camp Holloway, our platoon's standby airplane, was airborne on its way to Pleiku to help evacuate the scores of seriously wounded to the 8th Field Hospital in Nha Trang.

Later that morning my airplane flew to Camp Holloway to fly missions originally assigned to 63-9724, the 1st Flight Platoon's Caribou stationed there.  We learned that 63-9724 was damaged in the ground attack and it was out of action, but we did not know how badly it had been damaged. When I saw the airplane I was stunned by the extensive damage it had suffered. There was approximately 20 bullet holes in the right forward portion of the fuselage. Several feet from the airplane, the ground was littered with spent cartridges from an AK-47 assault rifle. It was evident that one of the sappers stood at that location and fired a full 20-round magazine at the airplane. The airplane was also severely damaged by a satchel charge. One of the Special Forces sergeants I talked to that morning gave me his theory of what happened, based on his experience and the evidence at the scene. He sad that the evidence led him to believe that the sapper approached the airplane from the right, fired his AK-47 at the airplane, and then tossed the satchel charge under the airplane. In his haste, he threw the satchel charge so hard that instead of coming to rest beneath the airplane's fuselage, the charge slid or bounced clear of the airplane and then detonated. He pointed out that the darkness may have contributed to the fact that the satchel charge was thrown with too much force because it is more difficult to judge distances when the target is not clearly visible.

Originally, there was some disagreement as to the cause of the damage to the Caribou. Some believed that it was done by a mortar round and others said it was done by a satchel charge. The dispute centered around a hole that was blown in the PSP to the left rear of the airplane. The shape of the hole in the PSP, the absence or tears or holes in the airplane--which is common with an exploding mortar round--and the extensive structural damage supported the satchel charge theory. Also, the damage to the right side, which was on the opposite side of the explosion, further supported the satchel charge theory: the satchel charge theory won. The airplane had to be flown to the general support maintenance company in Vung Tau for repair. Vung Tau was approximately 275 miles to the southeast of Pleiku. Temporary repairs had to he made in order to make the airplane airworthy so it could make the flight to Vung Tau. The main gear tires were replaced and some temporary sheet metal repairs had to be made to the airframe. The trusty "green tape" played an important role in the temporary repairs as it-helped cover some of the bullet holes and helped hold temporary cardboard covers over the missing cabin windows. After a couple of days, the airplane was cleared for a one-time flight to Vung Tau.

After weeks of extensive maintenance, the damage was repaired, components were replaced, and 63-9724 joined her sisters in the sky over South Vietnam.

 

THE 92ND AVIATION COMPANY PATCH
    "Any Time - Any Thing - Any Place"

In January 1965, Major Lowell L. Ballard, the company commander of the 92nd Aviation Company, decided it was time for the 92nd to adopt its own logo (patch). 

Each U.S. Air Force and most U.S. Army Aviation units in South Vietnam had a logo (patch) which related to or depicted the mission of that particular unit.

Major Ballard made the announcement that a contest would be held to select a winning logo for the 92nd. He encouraged all members of the unit to submit their idea or sketch by the end of January. The winner of  the contest would receive a $25.00 U.S. Savings Bond.

I learned about the contest about the middle of the month of January {1965) during a brief stop-over in Qui Nhon. The guys were talking about the contest and the fact that very few ideas or sketches had been submitted. One of the sergeants said, "Butch, why don't you submit a sketch. You always have good ideas. You might win that savings bond" I replied. "What the heck Why not."

THE DESIGN PROCEDURE

Since we would be taking off for Nha Trang in less than a hour, I immediately began my sketch.

I began with the traditional circle. I remembered that the -20P and -34P parts manuals had small drawings of the CV-2B. Throughout the manuals were drawings of each of the systems on the aircraft (i.e., hydraulic, instruments, landing gear, pneumatic, flight controls, etc.). On the same page, in one of the corners of the system drawing, was a small drawings of the CV-2B indicating the location of that particular system in/on the airplane. I located a drawing of the CV-2B with the least amount of clutter and cut it out with scissors I borrowed from the maintenance office. In the top center of the circle I made a large "92" with a red grease pencil. Then I glued the cutout of the Caribou over the "92"

Below the aircraft I drew a semicircle to depict the top of a globe of  the world. I then added a series of horizontal and vertical arcs to depict latitude and longitude. Since we ferried the airplanes across the North Atlantic, across Europe and Asia, to Vietnam, I drew the lower portion of the map of the United States on the left side of the globe and placed a star at the approximate location of Fort Benning. On the other side of the globe I drew another land mass and placed a star in the upper corner of the land mass to symbolize a location in Vietnam. I used a felt-tip pen to darken the outline of the "continents" and then, using a green grease pencil, I colored in the airplane and area between the boundaries, leaving only the stars uncolored. I added a couple of white clouds--outlined with a black felt tip pen--and colored the sky blue.I added five arcs from the right star to the back of the airplane to depict the airplane taking off from one continent, going to another, although this indicated a east to west route, rather than the west to east route we flew. This was done because most patches I had seen had the aircraft facing to the left, as you view the patch. Also, the drawings in the -20P and -34P had the aircraft facing in this direction. Despite this change, the drawing told the story and also made the sketch complete.

For contrast, I decided to leave the area of ocean, white. In an arc at the bottom of the circle, I wrote "Aviation Company" and I finished the sketch by highlighting the latitude and longitude with a black felt-tip pen.

Settling on a slogan took only a few minutes of thought. We used to have a saying in the 187th Transportation Airplane Company, at Fort Benning, that went like this, "You call and we'll haul, any where."  When I thought about this saying, I immediately recalled one time in Grafenwohr, Germany, when I had to wait for a column of M-48 tanks from the 4th Armored Division to cross the road. Each tank had a name painted on the side of the turret and I remember reading the names as each tank passed. The names I could remembered were, "Miss Jones", "Always Ready", "Any Time", "Any Place", and "Any Where."  I decided to use three of these names, which were, "Any Time", "Any Place", and "Any Where,"

I drew a scroll around the bottom of the circle, highlighted the edge with the black felt-tip pen, colored the inside with a red grease pencil, and using the black felt-tip pen, entered the words: "Any Time," "Any Place," and "Any Where." Below the scroll I made the note: "Above words should be in white letters." After I finished the project, which took less than 30 minutes, I took my sketch to the orderly room and gave it to First Sergeant Fare. Shortly after returning to the flight line, we departed for Nha Trang.

About a week later, I received a telephone call from Major Ballard informing me that my sketch had been selected as the official logo (patch) for the 92nd.  He asked my permission to change the words "Any Place" to "Any Thing." Since "Any Place" and "Any Where" actually meant the same thing, I agreed to the change.

A few weeks later we received the cloth patches. The Caribou on the patch was less detailed than the one on the original drawing, but it was acceptable.

On August q6, 1965, during the celebration of the 92nd's first anniversary, which was held in Qui Nhon, Major Ballard presented me with the $25.00 U.S. Savings Bond.

ERWIN "BUTCH" KOEHLER

 

VARIOUS PATCH DESIGNS

Design Number I - This design closely resembles the original patch I designed.
Design Number 2 - This is the design which was made in Vietnam and worn by all the members of the company.
Design Number 3 - This is the patch worn by the 2nd Flight Platoon's element in Nha Trang.  Above the patch we added a tab on which was embroidered the words,  "Special Forces Support."

 

<<< Dan Stelzer and crew of the 51st Trans Det. work on a 92nd Aviation Co. Caribou engine at Quin Nhon, RVN late 1965.  (Don Wisniewski - Mutza collection)

>>> 63-9725 (c/n # 160) getting an engine change at Dalat, Vietnam in 1965.   (via Arthur Candenquist)

 

<<< 63-9725 (cn # 160) assigned to the 92nd Aviation Company at Kannack in 1965. (AOCA)

>>> 63-9727 (cn # 163) assigned to the 92nd Aviation Company at Mue Hoa in 1965. (AOCA) 

 

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