Department of the Army
History of the
2lst Reconnaissance Airplane Company "Black Aces"
Chu Lai Republic of Vietnam
Introduction The 21st Aviation Company was constituted on 27 February 1958 in the Regular Amy, and activated on 24 March 1958 at Fort Rucker, Alabama. The 21st was attached to the 2nd Battle Group, 31st Infantry and had the mission of providing support for the Army Aviation School at Fort Rucker activated there on 24 September 1965. Please click on items listed below to read more...
SFC Alejandro Bagosol
The 21st Aviation Company lost one member who was killed during 1968. On the morning of 29 September, SFC Alejandro Bagosol, Platoon Sergeant of the third platoon, RA 29 040 803, was killed by hostile fire while driving from the military compound in Quang Ngai City to the airfield where the platoon headquarters was located. It was this incident that caused the third platoon to leave its base in Quang Ngai and operate out of the company’s headquarters at Chu Lai.
1LT Stephan A. Shortall
The 21st Aviation Company lost one officer who was killed in action during 1969, 1LT Stephan A. Shortall, 127-36-9634, was killed 12 Feb 69 when his aircraft was downed by anti-aircraft fire west of LZ West. 1LT Shortall was the first aviator from the 21st Aviation Company killed in action since the unit’s arrival in the Republic of Vietnam.
Captain Wayne A. McConkey
The 21st Aviation Company lost one officer who was killed in action during 1970, Captain Wayne A. McConkey was killed as a result of hostile fire southeast of Tra Bong on 15 September 1970. Captain McConkey was the second aviator killed in the history of the 21st Aviation Company.
Unit Formation and Preparation for Overseas Movement
On 1 January 1967, General Order Number 242, Headquarters 6th U. S. Army authorized the activation of the 21st Aviation Company (Surveillance Airplane Light). The unit was formed under para from TOE 1-7D (Headquarters), 1-59D (Flight Platoons), and 50-500R (Service Platoon) with an authorized strength of 32 Officers, 1 Warrant Officer and 95 Enlisted men. As of 1 January 1967 there -were 15 Officers and 1 Warrant Officer on station.
The 21st was activated at Fort Lewis on 1 Januazy 1967 for the purpose of equipping and training the unit for overseas movement to Viet- nam. The unit was authorized 24 0-1 aircraft for perfoxmance of its assigned missions of Aerial Surveillance, Radio Relay, Artillery Adjustment and Forward Air Control,
The original authorization was contained in the applicable paragraph from the TOE's listed in paragraph 1 above with minor modifications specified by General Order 242. However, as the unit began to receive the authorized equipment it was readily apparent that the equipment authorized was not compatible with the aircraft and mission of the unit. The primary area of incompatibility was in the flight platoons which were authorized equipment under paragraph's 3 and 4 of TOE 1- 59D for a fixed wing light transport airplane company. A meeting was held with the G-4 Fort Lewis and it was agreed that the 21st should submit an MOB for equipment only. An MTOE was prepared and submitted in early February. After minor modifications the MOB was approved at post level and forwarded to Sixth Army. With this problem solved, the unit continued to draw equipment and by early March the majority of equipment had been received.
The 24 0-1 aircraft assigned to the unit were picked up by unit pilots at Wichita, Kansas in February and March. The last ferry flight was completed on 15 March. All the aircraft were O-lG models which had been rebuilt at Wichita.
During February and early March the company conducted training classes in preparation for the unit ATT scheduled in early April. The majority of the classes conducted during this period were concerned with individual training. On 12 March when the first 12 aircraft were received, the emphasis switched to aviator and unit training on a platoon or section basis, The majority of the aviators were newly assigned from Fort Rucker having just completed their flight training. Emphasis was placed on training those aviators in tactical employmont of the 0-1 and in becoming qualified with the 2.75" rocket system mounted on the aircraft. There were no rocket systems available at Fort Lewis, so systems were fabricated from rocket tubes and brackets fabricated by the Supply Division at Fort Lewis based on specifications drawn up by CW3 Anderson the unit Maintenance Technician. The system designed was based on system used by CW3 Anderson on a previous tour in Vietnam.
In March, a contest was held to determine a unit nickname and design a unit pocket patch since information received from units in Vietnam indicated all aviation companies in Vietnam had a distinctive name and patch ...... as shown in Appendix I was selected and the name 'Black Jack" was adopted.
On 26 April the 21st began its IM and completed it on 28 April. A satisfactory rating was obtained and the formal unit training for overseas movement was completed.
During May, the 21st completed POR qualifications requirements and prepared the unit equipment for'shipment. The personnel and equipment were divided into three (3) groups- An advance party to travel by air including the Commanding Officer, Operations Officer, Supply Officer and two (2) EMs group of 27 personnel to accompany the aircraft, and a main body under the Executive Officer to travel by troop transport.
Overseas Movement and In-Country Training
The aircraft were ferried to Sharpe Depot on 20 May and on l June 1967, the 24-aircraft departed Alameda California aboard the USNS Point Cruz, CPT Gideon, CPT Anderson and SFC Clark with 24 W accompanied the aircraft. The Point Cruz arrived at Vung Tau on 20 Jun and the aircraft were off loaded and assembled for delivery to the unit location at Tay Ninh. Assembly was completed by 15 July.
The main body departed Oakland, California on 9 June aboard the USNS Nelson M. Walker. They arrived at Vung Tau on 27 Jun and were airlifted to Tay Ninh the morning of the 28th.
The advance party departed Fort Lewis on 20 June and arrived in Saigon on 21 June after a briefing by the 12th Combat Aviation Group, they were turned over to the 269th Combat Aviation Battalion for further briefing and assistance in preparation for the arrival of the company. The sponsor unit for the 21st was the 187th Assault Helicopter Company, which was assistod by other 269th battalion units.
The conex containers which had accompanied the main body were barged to Saigon were transported to Tay Ninh by trucks from the 40th Transportation Group.
A small amount of equipment and a trail party of 1 man arrived at Saigon on 8 July. The 21st completed its move to Tay Ninh on 10 July without loss or major damage to a single item of equipment.
A program of in-country training was coordinated with the 184th Aviation Company and the 74th Aviation Company. The unit IP's were checked out between 26 June and 3 July. During the period 4-17 July the pilots received orientation briefings and conducted orientation flights with these companies. By 28 July the company had achieved operational status and the first combat mission assigned to the 21st was flown on 26 July 1967.
The 21st had the unit tite "Black Jack" upon arrival in Vietnam. However it was discovered that the BHC 12th Combat Aviation Group also had the title of "Black Jack", In order to avoid duplication, the 21st "agreed" to find a new designation and "Black Aces" was selected.
1967 Unit Combat Operations
During the period 20 June thru 31 December 67, the 21st Aviation Company flew 169372 combat hours in support of III Corps units. Primarily missions were flown for II Field Forces with the majority in the 25th Infantry Division area of operations. Missions varied and included artillery adjustment, convoy controls forward air control, radio relay, visual reconnaissance and night counter mortar watch. Approximately one-fourth of the hours were flown at night. In addition to the 25th Divisions units supported included Corps Artillery, III Corps ARVN, 9th Infantry Divisions lst Infantry Division,, 101st Airborne Divisions and U. S. Special Forces.
Twenty (20) aircraft were stationed at Tay Ninh with the remaining four (4) aircraft remoted to Duc Hoa (3) and Tan An (1). These four (4) aircraft were in direct support of the 25th ARVN Division and flow all of their missions in support of that unit.
During this period the 21st Aviation Company participated in several major operations with the 25th Divisions which included Operation Saratoga and Operation Yellowstone. In addition the lst platoon which was commanded by CPT Charles R. Welsh received a letter of appreciation for the support his platoon rendered to the Corps Artillery units stationed in the Quan Loi-Loch Ninh area* The comments contained in this letter are indicative of the type support rendered by the pilots of the 21st Aviation Company, Several paragraph are quoted below:
"These officers performed in an outstanding manner during this period and are to be commended. All are conscientious hard working, devoted officers and were involved in locating enemy mortar and rocket positions during actual attacks. During one of the most important allied victories of 1967--The Battle of Loch Ninh--these individuals acted as pilots and observers".
"The 21st Reconnaissance Airplane Company has provided this battalion with the most reliable aviation support. It is my desire to have the pleasure of serving with this unit again".
The section of the 3rd platoon stationed at Duo Hoa in support of the ARVN 25th Division commanded by CPT Carl M. Propp received two (2) letters of commendation from the senior advisor for their support* This section had outstanding success with the two (2) aircraft "high - low" type of reconnaissance. The high aircraft navigates, communicates and plots sightings for the low ship which is flying at tree top level. These teams worked closely with "on-call" gunship and forward air control teams to provide a highly effective team for seeking and destroying Viet Cong elements.
In addition to the normal missions of convoy controlp artillery adjustment and visual reconnaissance, the 21st Aviation Company supported special forces teams with radio relay and reconnaissance, On two (2) seperate occasions pilots from the company were directly responsible for coordination of fire support and control of ground units inserted to support patrols which had been ambushed by Viet Cong. This control and coordination resulted in successful extraction of the teams with heavy losses to the Viet Cong.
Due to the nature of the missions assigned to the 21st, all missions are of a one or two ship nature and place considerable responsibility upon the individual pilot. The combat record of the 21st Aviation Company during the period 28 JulY-31 December 1967 can be looked upon with pride by all members as having been accomplished through teamwork and devotion to duty.
The area of operations was generally the western two-thirds of the III Corps tactical zone. The general outline of the area is shown on the maps in Appendix Two. The area was generally divided into two (2) distinct type areas which were delta flat land and wooded areas. The only high terrain of any signifigance were two (2) prominent hill formations one located about seven miles northeast of Tay Ninh known as Nui Ba Den (The Black Virgin) and Nui Ba Ra just south of Song Bee The south- west portion of the area was primarily rice paddies and pineapple fields. Extensive rubber plantations were located around Dau Tieng and Tay Ninh as well as around Xuan Loo and Bear Cat in the east central portion of the area. The northern half and eastern third of the areas were primarily heavily forested and sparsely populated. This area was primarily north of a line from Tay Ninh to Dau Tieng to Phu Cuong and then in an aro about 15-miles north and east of Saigon, The majority of of the Viet Cong activity was along the major waterways and in the heavi-ly wooded areas adjacent to the Cambodian Border.
The 21st Aviation Company not only maintained one of the highest nmber of hours flown per monthp but also completed the year with the lowest accident rate of any 0-1 company which had been in Vietnam during the same period. The rate of 6.2 per 100,000 hours was well below the USARV average and could be looked upon with pride as having been obtained without sacrifice of mission accomplishment. The large percentage of night flights and the fact that seven (7) of the eight (8) months wore in the monsoon (Jun-Sep) or transitional period (Oct-Nov) made the record an even more outstanding accomplishment* The 21st also accomplished its mission without a combat loss although aircraft received hits on at least six (6) occasions and were subjected to ground fire on numerous missions. In mid-December, the 21st received word it had been selected to move to the I Corps area. The year ended with the unit preparing for this move which actually took place in early January 1968.
1967 Command and Control
The unit commanders and their period of assignment are as follows: Major Stephen J. Forsch 05301960 3 Jan - 5 Jan, Major Myron N. Thompson 02092599 5 Jan - 30 Apr, Major Ernest C. Strum 04016954 1 May - 12 Dec, Major George W. Moses 073576 13 Dec - 31 Dec. Executive Officers for 1967 were as follows: Major Stephen J. Forsch 05301960 6 Jan - 26 Jul, Major Donald G. Andrews 077254 27 Jul - 27 Aug, Major Bernard M. McInerney 089253 26 Aug - 18 Dec, Captain William H. Schwend 099726 19 Dec - 31 Dec.
The 622nd Signal Detachment (4vionics Maintenance) was organized at Fort Lewis, Washington and attached to the 21st Aviation Company on 16 January 1967. The detachment trained and deployed with the 21st Aviation Company and rendered outstanding avionics support after arrival at Tay Ninh. In addition, the detachment personnel provided operator instruction and maintenance support for the ground radios assigned to the 21st. l/LT Norman F. Colton, 05023497, was the detachment commander during the period of 1 May - 31 December 1967. 2/LT Jerry L. Pope, 05328202, was the commander from 16 January through 30 April 1967.
Equipment and Installations. As outlined in Chapter II, the 21st Aviation Company was equipped under an MTOE submitted in January 1967. The major items of equipment were: a. Airplane Observation Light O-lG 24 each, b. Truck 1/4 Ton 7 each, c. Truck 3/4 Ton 6 each, d. Truck 2 1/2 Ton 3 each, e. Truck Tanker 2 1/2 Ton 3 each, f. Fire Fighting Equipment Set 1 each, g. Truck Tractor Trailer 5 Ton 2 each, h. Shop Set A/C Maint A-1 and A-2 1 each, i. Radio Set AN/VRC-46 3 each, j. Radio Set AN/VRC-47 5 each, k. Radio Set AN/VRC-49 1 each.
The 21st Aviation Company was originally assigned to Tay Ninh Vietnam. Tents were provided by the sponsor unit and were mounted on wood frames. During the period 28 Jun - 31 December eight (8) wooden barracks, a shower, orderly room and mess hall were constructed by unit personnel and foundations had been laid for tho remaining three (3) billets required.
The 588th Engineer Battalion provided support for the airfield facilities required, Weather delayed constrution of the ramp facilities, but, by 26 July the ramp had been completed ...; During August and September, two 2) 1 toon revetment line buildings, a maintenance office and four (4 shelters were constructed. The revetment shelters provided limited protection from rain and wore invaluable in allowing the unit to perform maintenance during inclement weather.
In late July, the 21st began a project to construct aircraft revetments as required by U&.RV* Those revetments wore constructod of 1,1181.1 matting walls with earth fill and required many man-hours to construct. The fact that the 21st completed 24 of these revetments by 27 August without intcnVtions in their combt mission and with very limited support was indeed a major accomplishment. In fact, the 21st Aviation Company was the first aviaticn Company in Vietnam to complete all required revetments on a self help basis, The primary credit for this accomplishment goes to Major Bernard M, McInerney, SFC John D. Clark and the 'Unc IV Revetment Rats".
1967 Reflections - Awards and Honors
The following awards have been presented to members of the 21st for service or achievement during 1967. Richard H. Brady CPT Purple Heart, Basic Air Medal, John D. Wagoner SP4 Purple Heart,Norman L. Anderson CPT Basic Air Medal, Kenneth H. Bardot CPT Basic Air Medal, Charles T. Brown Jr. CPT Basic Air Medal, Ronald 0. Collier 1IM Basic Air Medal, David H. Conway 1LT Basic Air Medal, Dane W. Devos 1LT Basic Air Medal, Dick H. Forrester CPT Basic Air Medal, Wendell R. Gideon CPT Basic Air Medal, Cecil R. Gleason 1LT Basic Air Medal, Gerhard Haimberger 1LT Basic Air Medal, Leon Henderson 1LT Basic Air Medal, Clark D. Hein CPT Basic AIR Medal, James W. Lineberry CPT Air Medal 3-20 OLC, Ronald J. McNeese CPT Basic Air Medal, John L. MacIsaac 1LT Air Medal 2-21 OLC, Keith D. Moorhead 1LT Basic Air Medal, William H. Parcells Jr, 1LT Basic Air Medal, Carl M. Propp CPT Basic Air Medal, William H. Road CPT Basic Air Mdal, Hugh B. Roberson 1LT Basic Air Medal, Richard K. Roberts 1LT Basic Air Medal, Richard P. Rodbart CPT Basic Air Medal, Terry M. Tate CPT Basic Air Medal, Jon K. Thompson CPT Basic Air Medal, David F. Thomas CPT Basic Air Medal, Dana N. Wood UT Basic Ai Medal, David I. Wisnaes CW2 Basic Air Medal.
The following personnel were submittod for awards and action is pending at this time Kenneth U. Bardot CPT DFC, Gerhard Heimberger 1LT DFC, John L, MacIsaac ILT BS, Willie Tyson CPT DFC & AM "V", Carl PL Propp CPT DFC, David I. Wisnoas CW2 DFC, Terry L. Willis SP5 ACM, Thomas C. Bradley SP5 Soldiers Medal.
In accordance with present USLRV awards policy recomonda- tions for Onk Loaf Clusters for Air Mdals are consolidated and submitted at the end of the aviator's or crew member's tour.
The 21st Aviation Company suffered no members killed during the year 1967 and it is hoped -Uia unit history for 1968 may be closod with the same statment.
The unit patch was originally designed by SP5 Charles R. Crowder as the culmination of a company-wide contest held at Fort Lewis, Washington in March 1967. Approximately twenty five (25) designs were submitted by the Enlisted Men and Officers. Three (3) of these were selected for the finals and the officers and men selected the patch shown previously as their unit patch. Originally the call sign of the 21st Aviation Company was "Black Jack" obviously because Black Jack is 21. Upon arrival in South Vietnam, the unit was informed that "Black Jack" was already in use* In order to utilize the unit patch, the officers and men elected to be called the "Black Aces".
1968 Tay Ninh
1 January 1968 - 31 December 1968. The year began with the 21st Reconnaissance Airplane Company preparing to move from its base at Tay Ninh, in III Corps Tactical Zone in the Republic of Vietnam, where it had been located since its arrival in-country in mid-1967, to its new home in Chu Lai, in Southern I Corps.
On the morning of the 8th of January 1968, the company had its missions suspended in the III Corps area and was told to be fully packed and ready for loading aboard Air Force C-130 aircraft on the morning of the 9th. The three flight platoon leaders and the maintenance technicians were dispatched to Chu Lai that afternoon upon notification of the move, to coordinate mission assignments, maintenance support and training programs.
The planes of the first and third platoons were flown to I Corps by the pilots on the 9th of January. The first platoon under the command of Captain Kenneth Bardot was deployed to DaNang to work with the 1st Marine Division and the I Corps ARVN Forces, as well as the ROK Marines in that area. The third platoon was based in Quang Ngai City, about twenty-five miles southwest of Chu Lai.
The remainder of the company’s equipment was loaded in CONEX containers and shipped to Chu Lai, arriving on the evening of the 9th of January. Facilities had been provided to the company by the Americal Division and the 16th Combat Aviation Group along the beach of the south China Sea. Barracks for personnel and mess hall and orderly room were the only buildings in the area, but construction was started immediately on more billeting and working areas. Due to the loss of several CONEX containers during shipment the company was handicapped; however, support and equipment were provided by the 74th Seabees and the 335th Maintenance Battalion, and the company began to function normally.
Because of the hard work and dedication by both crew and pilots, as well as the rest of the members of the company, the first and third platoons were flying operational missions in the Da Nang and Quang Ngai areas respectively on the afternoon of 11 January 1968. With the arrival of the second platoon on 8 February, the move was complete and the "Black Aces" set out to repeat the fine performance they had rendered in III Corps.
1968 Unit Combat Operations
During the period 11 January 1968 through 18 May 1968, despite a lower mission commitment due to adverse weather conditions in I Corps, the company compiled an impressive combat record. This was in addition to learning new methods of flying and reconnaissance due to the terrain.
The Delta Region in III Corps was divided into two distinct areas, flat marshlands and wooded areas. The only high terrain of any significance was a few formations in the Tay Ninh area. Rice paddies and rubber plantations abounded everywhere.
Upon their arrival in I Corps, the "Black Ace" pilots saw an area with very little flat lands. Only a narrow coastal plain reminded them of the Delta. To the west, towering mountains with dense triple-canopy vegetation confronted them. New techniques of flying to cope with the terrain had to be learned and developed. Some help was provided by the pilots of the 219th, 184th, and 220th Reconnaissance Airplane Companies as well as the men of the 212th Combat Support Aviation Battalion, the parent unit of the 21st RAC. The pilots were eager to learn, and quickly adapted themselves to their new environment.
Visual combat surveillance and target acquisition to supported units through organic aircraft was the mission of the "Black Aces". Units supported included the Americal Division, the 11th Marine Regiment, and the 2nd ARVN Division. About 60% of all missions flown were artillery adjustment, forward air control, or combat observation, as opposed to visual reconnaissance which had been most common in III Corps. The increased productiveness of the company’s aircraft in terms of damage to the enemy during the first five months in I Corps is indicated as follows: ENEMY KIA 142 437, STRUCTURES (DEST) 971 (DAM) 1533, POW’s DETAINED 6.
The first platoon, with seven aircraft located at the Marble Mountain Air Facility near Da Nang, provided reconnaissance and close air support, in conjunction with Marine fighter aircraft, to the 1st Marine Division and the I Corps ARVN and ROK Marine forces. In support of the successful USMC Operations WORTH, JASPER SQUARE, ROCK, and BALLARD VALLEY, as well as the ARVN sweep of Go Noi Island, the first platoon completed 97 combat artillery missions and the 191 air strikes directed at enemy emplacements, personnel, and storage areas. Bomb damage assessment of these missions and the four ARVN and ROK Marine operations in the vicinity of Hoi An showed the following accomplishments: 117 Bunkers Damaged or Destroyed, 1145 Structures Damaged or Destroyed, 4 Bridges Destroyed, 68 Enemy Killed by Air, 112 Probable KIA.
As a result of the 21st heroic actions during this period 4 Distinguished Flying Crosses and 1 Purple Heart were awarded to members of the platoon.
The second platoon was the last to leave III Corps, having remained in Tay Ninh until 6 February 1968 in support of OPERATION YELLOWSTONE in the Delta region.
Upon their arrival in Chu Lai, the second platoon was given the mission of providing direct support to the Americal Division, working very closely with Division Artillery. The daily reconnaissance missions were instrumental in the success of the counter-mortar and counter-rocket programs. The high percentage of observed artillery fire successfully completed was largely due to the support provided by the 0-1 aircraft.
Almost immediately upon their arrival the second platoon was put to work with the 11th and 198th, Infantry Brigades of the Americal Division providing visual reconnaissance during the Duc Pho and the Chu Lai TAOR clearing operations. Pilots and observers worked together as a team, the missions having been planned in advance and crew members briefed beforehand. However, the bility of the platoon to respond to a contingency was proven in April when the Special Forces Camp at Kham Duc, near the Laotian border, was over-run and all personnel had to be evacuated. During the three-day operation the aircraft and pilots provided the primary means of communication between the beleaguered camp and Americal Division Headquarters. Much of this radio-relay was flown at night under minimum weather conditions. For their actions, the members of the platoon received several letters of commendation and appreciation.
The third platoon spent the first half of the hear in Quang Ngai City under the operational control of Advisory Team 2 and in support of the 2nd ARVN Division. As a result of the extensive visual reconnaissance program conducted by the third platoon frequently aided ground troop advisors in locating hostile forces and advising them on the most advantageous routes of advance. As a direct result of the high degree of proficiency attained in the employment or artillery and armed helicopter teams, numerous enemy troops, structures, and sampans were destroyed and hostile lines of communications and supply were interdicted. The employment of artillery and helicopter gun teams in support of friendly units in contact was frequently the determining factor in turning the tide of battle.
During the Tet Offensive in the month of February, the third platoon, although newly arrived in the I Corps area, played a major role in thwarting a determined Viet Cong attack on the cities of Quang Ngai and Tam Ky. Through their efforts, the 2nd ARVN Division was kept informed of enemy troop dispositions. This vital knowledge made possible the elimination of over 1200 Viet Cong and NVA troops in that area during this period.
The third platoon also worked successfully with the Air Force, assembling intelligence pertinent to air strikes, operational coverage and night missions in the Quang Ngai area.
Many of the missions flown by the Third Platoon, were two ship missions deep into the mountainous country to the west of Chu Lai. They continued to operate out of Quang Ngai until the end of September, when enemy activity in the surrounding areas deemed it unsafe. On the 3rd of October, the third platoon moved to Chu Lai and joined the second platoon on the (unreadable) the South China Sea.
The 21st RAC lost two aircraft during 1968, but suffered no pilots killed and only 1 injured. On 27 September 1968, 1LT Urban Reinhart was injured when his aircraft crashed in a rice paddy south west of An Hoa after being hit by enemy automatic weapons fire. He was evacuated back to the United States with multiple lacerations.
Although the planes and men of the 21st RAC were subject to hostile fire almost daily and received hits on several occasions, they were not hampered in completing their mission, a feat that can be looked upon with great pride and sense of accomplishment.
1968 Command and Control
The unit commanders and their periods of assignment are as follows: Major George W. Moses 073 576 1 Jan 68 - 15 Jun 68, Major George F. Prater OF 117 427 17 Jun 68 - 31 Dec 68. Executive Officers for this same period were: Major Charles H. Jacobsen 05 502 690 4 Jan 68 - 18 Mar 68, Major George F. Prater OF 117 427 19 Mar 68 - 16 Jun 68, Major Charles H. Jacobsen 05 502 690 17 Jun 68 - 31 Dec 68.
When the 21st Reconnaissance Airplane Company arrived in Chu Lai in late January, only a minimum number of billets and working facilities were available. With the help of the 74th Seabees located at Chu Lai, the officers and men of the unit constructed additional barracks, a day room for the enlisted personnel, and officers lounge, an operations office and other facilities. Many individuals worked long hours on special projects such as the revetments for the aircraft on the flight line, bunkers for company defense and storage areas. The crew chiefs for the second and third platoons constructed their own billets near the flight line, and as a matter of convenience and ease of access to the airplanes.
Much of the work done in the company area was on a self-help basis with materials obtained whenever and wherever possible.
1968 Reflections - Awards and Honors
The following number of awards have been presented to members of the 21st RAC for Service, Achievement, Valor and Heroism during 1968: 11 Dinstinguished Flying Cross, 9 Bronze Star, 7 Army Commendation Medal with V, 39 Army Commendation Medal, 5 Air Medal with V, 386 Oak Leaf Clusters to Air Medal, 58 Air Medal, 4 Purple Heart.
In accordance with the present USARV awards policy, recommendations for Oak Leaf Clusters for Air Medals are consolidated and submitted at the end of the aviator’s or crew-members tour.
The 21st RAC suffered only one member killed during 1968. On the morning of 29 September, SFC Alejandro Bagosol, Platoon Sergeant of the third platoon, RA 29 040 803, was killed by hostile fire while driving from the military compound in Quang Ngai City to the airfield where the platoon headquarters was located. It was this incident that caused the third platoon to leave its base in Quang Ngai and operate out of the company’s headquarters at Chu Lai.
1969 Chu Lai
1 January 1969 - 31 December 1969. The year began with the 21st Reconnaissance Airplane settled in Chu Lai after its move from Tay Ninh where it has been located since its arrival in-country in mid-1967.
The Second and Third Flight Platoons along with Company Headquarters are located in Chu Lai and the First Platoon is based in Da Nang (Marble Mountain Air Facility). Operating from two locations gives the company maximum flexibility and enables it to respond rapidly to the needs of the units it supports.
1969 Unit Combat Operations
Visual combat surveillance and target acquisition to support units through organic aircraft continues to be the mission of the “Black Aces”.
Units supported include G-2 Air, I Corps Headquarters (1st Flight Platoon), the Americal Division (2nd Flight Platoon), and the 2nd ARVN Division (3rd Flight Platoon). Missions include artillery adjustment, forward air control, radio relay, convoy cover, naval gunfire, target analysis and combat observation. The company has one U-6A assigned which is utilized for the company’s administrative and liason missions.
The increased productiveness of the company’s aircraft in terms of damage to the enemy for the year of 1969 is indicated as follows: Confirmed Enemy KIA 299, Bunkers 369 (Destroyed) 251 (Damaged), Sampans 52 (Destroyed) 38 (Damaged), Structures 222 (Destroyed) 156 (Damaged), Secondary Explosions 47 Captured (Enemy).
The First Flight Platoon located at the Marble Mountain Air Facility near Da Nang, provided reconnaissance and close air support in conjunction with Marine Fighter Aircraft, to the First Marine Division and the I Corps ARVN and Republic of Korea Marine Forces.
The performance of the pilots in the 1st Platoon speaks for itself in the numerous letters of commendation received in 1969.
The close cooperation between the First Platoon, with Marine and allied forces reflects the versatility of close combat support offered by the “Black Aces”.
Providing combat support to the Americal Division and working closely with Division Artillery continues to be the job of the 2nd Platoon. Being the largest of the flight platoons, 2nd Platoon is scheduled for thirty-six (36) hours a day in support of the 196th and 11th Light Infantry Brigades, Division Artillery and the G-2. Their area of operations lies between the Hoi An River and the II Corps border, north to south, and the coast to the Laotian border, east to west.
Intelligence missions flown for the G-2 extend deep into the mountains where enemy infiltration routes criss-cross the terrain. These missions are flown daily despite the large enemy elements encountered and the often undesirable weather. 2nd Platoon remains the “Eyes of the Americal Division”.
The 3rd Flight Platoon flys seven combat missions a day in support of the 2nd ARVN Division. These misions are divided between visual reconnaissance, naval gunfire, artillery adjustment and target analysis. the support of the Special forces Camps in Southern I Corps also falls on the shoulders of the 3rd Flight Platoon. The determination and professionalism of the 3rd Platoon pilots were instrumental in the inability of the enemy to maintain its foothold in Quang Ngai Province.
During the Tet Offensive in the month of February, the 3rd Platoon played a major role in thwarting a determined Viet Cong attack on the cities of Quang Ngai and Tam Ky. Through their efforts, the 2nd ARVN Division was kept informed of enemy troop dispositions. This vital knowledge made possible the defeat of a large enemy force.
Working effectively with an allied unit has been a great source of pride to the 3rd Platoon.
The 21st Aviation Company lost one officer who was killed in action during 1969.
1LT Stephan A. Shortall, 127-36-9634, was killed 12 Feb 69 when his aircraft was downed by anti-aircraft fire west of LZ West. 1LT Shortall was the first aviator from the 21st Aviation Company killed in action since the unit’s arrival in the Republic of Vietnam.
1969 Command and Control
The unit commanders and their period of assignment are as follows: Major Benjamin J. Kahalekulu 16 January 1969 - 15 June 1969, Major Joe T. Pope 15 June 1969 - 13 November 1969, Major Sam A. Scavo 13 November 1969 - 31 December 1969. Executive officers for the same year were: Captain Charles C. McCloskey III 1 January 1969 - 1 April 1969, Captain Ronald D. Fitzsimmons 11 April 1969 - 15 July 1969, Captain Oliver R. Becker 15 July 1969 - 31 December 1969.
No new buildings were constructed in the 21st Aviation company area. However, much time and effort was spent by the officers and men in the construction of bunkers and guard towers. A complete field phone system was established throughout the company as an emergency communications back-up system in the event of an enemy attack. This gives the commanding officer voice communications with all guard posts and reactionary forces.
Area beautification became the theme of the officers and men after upgrading the company’s defensive posture. The Orderly Room, Mess Hall and individual Billets became the target of an extensive effort to make the 21st Aviation company area attractive as well as comfortable. This effort was successful and we now fell the company area is one of the most attractive in Chu Lai.
1969 Reflections - Awards and Honors
The following numbers of awards have been presented to members of the 21st Aviation Company for service achievement, valor and heroism during 1969: Distinguished Flying Cross 4, Bronze Star 12, Army Commendation 16, Soldiers Medal 2, Purple Heart 3, Air Medal 341, USARV Certificate of Achievement 13.
On 1 April 1969 the designation of the 21st Aviation company (Surveillance Airplane Light) was changed to the 21st Aviation Company (Utility Airplane).
By direction of the Secretary of the Army, under the provisions of Paragraph 203, AR 672-5-1, The Meritorious Unit Commendation (First Oak Leaf Cluster) was awarded to the 21st Aviation Company (Utility Airplane).
The award was presented to Major Sam A. Scavo, Commanding Officer 21st Aviation Company (Utility Airplane) by Major General Allen M. Burdett Jr. Commanding General, 1st Aviation Brigade.
1970 Chu Lai
1 January 1970 - 31 December 1970. Throughout 1970, the 21st Aviation company has been located at Chu Lai, where it has been since it’s move from Tay Ninh in 1968.
The second and third flight platoons and the Maintenance Platoons and the Company Headquarters are located in Chu Lai adjacent to the 23d Inf Division Complex. The first Flight Platoon is located at the Marble Mountain Air Facility in Da Nang. Operating from two locations gives the company maximum flexibility, enablihg rapid response to needs of its supported units.
1970 Unit Combat Operations
The unit commanders and their period of assignment are as follows: Major Sam A. Scavo 1 January to 2 May 1970, Major Kenneth E. Kimes 5 May 1970 to 2 October 1970, Major Marshall J. Fayard 2 October 1970 to 31 December 1970. Executive Officers for 1970 were: Captain Oliver E. Becker 1 January 1970 to 2 May 1970, Captain Ronald D. Mothersbaugh 2 May 1970 to 10 August 1970, Captain Robert W. Kimbrough 10 August 1970 to 31 December 1970.
1970 Command and Control
Visual combat surveillance and target acquisition to support units through organic aircraft continues to be the mission of the “Black Aces”.
Units supported include G-2 Air, 1st Military Region Headquarters (1st Flight Platoon), G-2 Air 23d Infantry Division (Americal)Division (2nd Flight Platoon), and the G-2 Air 2nd ARVN Division in Quang Ngai (3rd Flight Platoon). Missions include Artillery Adjustment, Target Acquisition for Air Force and Marine Forward Air Controllers, Radio Relay, Convoy over, Naval Gunfire Target Acquisition and Adjustment, and target analysis.
The very efficient utilization of the company’s aircraft and men in terms of damage to the enemy for the year of 1970 is shown by the following statistics confirmed from supported units. CONFIRMED Hours Flown 23,647, Sorties Flown 15,677, Enemy KIA 124, Bunkers 141 (Destroyed) 83 (Damaged), Sampans 16 (Destroyed 18 (Damaged), Structures 236 (Destroyed) 104 (Damaged), Explosions 38.
The First Flight Platoon located at Marble Mountain Air Facility, DaNang, provided reconnaissance and close air support in conjunction with Marine Forward Air Control aircraft of the 1st ...(unreadable) forces.
The performance of the pilots in the 1st Platoon speaks for itself in the numerous letters of commendation received in 1970.
Providing Combat Support to the 23d Infantry Division (Americal) and working closely with division artillery continues to be the job of the 2d Flight Platoon.
Being the largest flight platoon, the 2d latoon schedules 33 hours a day in support of Division Artillery, Military Intelligence, Target Mission Force, and the 11th Infantry Brigade. The area of operations lies between the Hoi An River to the north and the II Military Region border on the south. The area is bounded by the Laotian Border on the west and the south China Sea on the East.
During the daily enemy attacks in the Hiep Duc area including FSB Siberia through the months of May and June, the second platoon provided daily and continuous reconnaissance coverage and artillery adjustment which was instrumental in the maintaining control of the Hiep Duc Valley. The efforts of the 2d Platoon no doubt sved many allied lives during this operation.
The 3d Flight Platoon flies nine combat missions a day in support of the 2d ARVN Division. These missions are divided between visual reconnaissance, naval gunfire, artillery adjustment, target analysis, and various other related missions. The support of the Special Forces Camps in Southern I Corps also falls on the shoulders of the 3d Flight Platoon. The determination and professionalism of the 3d Platoon pilots were instrumental in the inability for the enemy to maintain its foothold in the Quang Ngai province.
The 21st aviation Company lost one officer who was killed in action during 1970.
Captain Wayne A. McConkey was killed as a result of hostile fire southeast of Tra Bong on 15 September 1970. Captain McConkey was the second aviator killed in the history of the 21st Aviation Company.
Equipment and Installations. No new buildings were constructed in the 21st Aviation Company area during the past year. Much time and effort was spent by the officers and men in various projects upgrading the existing buildings and facilities. The mess hall, food storage area and the officers’ mess section received structural repair and finishing. The Day Room was thoroughly repainted and repaired, resulting in an area utilized by officers and men of the 21st Avn Co (UA) for many varied activities including the daily movie, weekly religious services, command information and safety and standardization meetings.
1970 Reflections - Awards and Honors
During 1970, the following awards and decorations were presented to officers and men of the 21st Aviation Company: Air Medals 208, Army Commendation Medals 91, Bronze Stars 32, Distinguished Flying Crosses 5.