195th Assault Helicopter Company (AHC) “Thunder Chickens”
Part of 222nd AVN BN at Bear Cat.
The 195th, now under its new designation of Assault Helicopter Company, flew its first mission on 11/30/67, a Direct Combat Support missions, with operations beginning on 12/01/67. By the first week of December 1967, the second platoon had received all its helicopters and already had sent some aircraft and crews to Song Be to fly Special Forces’ SOG (Studies and Observation Group) missions. Upon arriving “in-country” most of our majors and senior captains were transferred to higher echelon headquarters. CPT John Hopkins now became the platoon leader and 1LT Arlo Hoerle was one of the section leaders.
At Song Be, a few Second Platoon “Slicks” and a couple of “Thunder Chicken” Gunships supported the Special Forces recon teams. It was at this early juncture our aircraft had the troop seats removed and the McGuire rigs and rope ladders installed. The second platoon had aircraft and crews assigned to the SOG missions in Song Be; we also kept a contingent of aircraft back at Long Binh for various other missions. The crews would be rotated periodically to give everyone a chance to take part in the SOG missions and to give us a chance to get back to Long Binh.
On 12/15/67, the Slicks and the Gunships left Song Be and proceeded 100 miles north to Ban Me Thuot to begin another SOG mission with another Special Forces unit. These missions took us into Cambodia many times. We shared this operation with the only Air Force “Huey” unit in Viet Nam. This operation kept us at Ban Me Thuot until 12/30/67, then we returned to Long Binh.
C5 (formerly the 5th SFG) officially became a separate SOG organization on 01/01/68, after absorbing and merging the Projects Omega (B-50) and Sigma (B-56); C5 & Sigma remained at Ho Ngoc Tao. In mid-year, SOG was given operational control of C5, B-56, and B-50, and ordered all personnel – over time, moved to Ban Me Thuot (BMT).
195th Loses Its First Aircraft: On 01/24/68, the 195th lost its first aircraft in RVN. It was not a crash, but rather an unusual ground incident. A second platoon helicopter landed to be loaded with aerial flares for a night mission. During loading, one of the flares ignited and burned the aircraft to a pile of ashes and a puddle of magnesium. The only injury incurred was to the sergeant loading the flares. He received a few broken bones when the flare cap struck him as it blew away from the flare.
When Sigma B-56 moved from Ho Nhoc Tau to Quan Loi, the 195th followed and supported B-56 & C5 and later CCS from that main southern launch site until the end of its commitment on 06/30/70 when its Special Ops missions ceased for the 195th in Vietnam. There were a few interruptions when other units were required to reinforce the 195th but they were the main helicopter support unit consistently for CCS southern operations out of Quan Loi. The 195th AHC ceased support ops for C5 & B-56 on 5/1/68. They would resume that operational mission on 05/18/68 and continue until 06/30/70. The 195th lost 11 men during all their support for CCS.