20th Special Operations Squadron (SOS) “Green Hornets”

On 10/08/65, the 20th Helicopter Squadron (later redesigned the 20th Special Operation Squadron) was formed at Tan Son Nhut Air Base, outfitted with 14 Sikorsky CH-3C helicopters. Later, the CH-3Cs would be replaced with more powerful CH-3Es and Bell UH-1 Hueys. The 20th began combat operations in December 1965. By March of 1966, the squadron was flying an average of nearly 1000 sorties per month from Tan Son Nhut (home base to ‘A’ FLIGHT, with five aircraft), from Da Nang (‘B’ Flight with three aircraft) and from Nha Trang (‘C’ flight, with six aircraft). When the 14th Air Commando Wing was activated in March 1966, the 20th was assigned to the new wing.

In April, the entire flight at Nha Trang was transferred to Udorn Air Base in Thailand and became known as the “Pony Express.” In June 1967 15 Bell UH-1F/P Huey helicopters, originally assigned to the 606th Air Commando Squadron at Nokhon Phanom, were transferred to the 20th Helicopter Squadron in South Vietnam when the Thai government no longer needed their services. They returned to Nha Trang as the “Green Hornets” and were soon chosen to support SOG units.

The Air Force originally chose the Bell UH-1F that was based on the civilian Bell 204B but was equipped with the same powerful General Electric T-58 turbo-shaft engine used on the CH-3. The T-58 produced more than 1,200 shaft horsepower, driving a 48-foot main rotor. UH1-F “Slicks” was used as a troop carrier. They were usually armed with “free” 60s, Infantry, model M-60 machine guns suspended on bungee cords. Flown by the “Green Hornet,” the 20th UH-1Ps were UH-1Fs that had been modified to accept a pair of GAU-2B/A miniguns, one in each cargo door, and two LAU-59/A 2.75-inch rocket pods mounted to hard points. The miniguns were mounted on a pintle and could either be locked to forward fire position and fired by the pilot or aimed and fired by gunners in the cabin. The P-model Hueys were used as Gunships, flying escort missions for Slicks.

The Green Hornets became the mainstay for the northern AO of C5 & CCS, operating out of Ban Me Thuot with both Slicks and Gunships. Occasionally they went to the southern AO to provide assistance on special occasions, such as on Thanksgiving Day 1968. It was on one of these 20th SOS missions that 1LT James P. Fleming earned the Congressional Medal of Honor for heroism to extract B-50 Recon RT CHISEL from certain death on 11/26/68. The Green Hornets continued to do unconventional warfare missions for seven distinguished years until deactivation of the 20th Helicopter Squadron in 1972.” The 20th SOS lost 13 men during all their support of CCS. [http://ccs-sog.org/]