30 January 1968
SUBJECT: After Action Report
TO: 191st Assault Helicopter Company
1. At 0700 hours on 25 January, five RF Companies and the CRIP platoon from Long An Province began Operation Ben Thu I, supported by the 191st Assault Helicopter Company. The operation was routine until approximately 1330 hours when a spot report from a 3rd US Brigade FAC reported sighting 18 VC at grid 710650. This headquarters had received an intelligence report from FS/34 on the previous evening placing 120 VC from the 2nd Ind Bn in the same area.
2. As a reaction to the FAC sighting, LTC Gilbert, the ground forces Senior Advisor, in the C&C ship, decided to divert 2 RF companies which had been previously inserted into LZ's Northwest of Tan An along the Vam Co Tay. The two companies were inserted into LZ's under moderate ground fire and began searching the area vic 710650, south of the elbow. At this time Bounty Hunter 21, one of the gunships working the operation assumed a C&C mission for the extraction of the three Companies and the CRIP platoon in the Northern AO. This freed the C&C ship and the remaining gunships to work the new AO.
3. At approximately 1745 extraction of the first two companies in the elbow was initiated. From the approach through lift-off the slicks and the gunships were under a continuous and extremely heavy volume of AW and SA fire from a nippa-palm line northeast of the LZ. Five slicks were hit during the extraction and two had to shut down at Tan Tru. In spite of the extremely heavy ground fire and aircraft performed superbly. The gunships unloaded ordinance into the nippa-palm line time after time under heavy fire and the slicks persisted in carrying out their mission. Despite the fact that five had taken multiple hits, all ships cleared the PZ and deposited their loads.
4. It was growing dark when Boomerang 3 and Leroy Almond 6 decided that the situation was indeed critical and that the remaining ground troops must be extracted immediately. Eight slicks were available for the pick up.
5. In preparation for the final extraction, the ground troops had been moved some 200 meters further away from the nippa-palm line. This plus the maintenance necessary on the slicks resulted in some delay and the extraction was begun at about 1900 hours. Again from the approach through the lift-off, extremely heavy ground fire was received despite the fact that the gunships were dumping ordinance as fast as they could. One slick went down during the extraction. All but two of the slicks took multiple hits and all four gunships took hits. As soon as Boomerang 3 and Leroy Almond 6 heard of the downed ship it was decided to put another ship down near it to help secure it and to assist the crew if necessary. The ship's location was about 4000 meters from the hostile nippa-palm line. The slick immediately sat down behind the downed slick and picked up the crew and equipment from the disabled ship. Boomerang lead then came in with two additional slicks and deposited their troops making a total of five loads now on the ground to secure the downed ship. Lead and his ships again came under heavy fire as they departed the LZ. It has since been since determined that Boomerang voluntarily inserted five slicks with element of 2/60 US Inf into the area of the downed ship to assist the ARVN troops. considering the losses already sustained by the 191st and the fact that they had been flying since 0700 hours they could have easily declined and no questioned would ever have been asked. This act summarizes the spirit, courage and dedication displayed by the 191st on this day. Results of the operation were: 8 VC KIA / 6 KBA, 2 RF WIA , 1 US WIA, 1 VC CIA, 1 VC Susp., 2AK47, 1 Chicom MG, 1 B40 Launcher, 5 40 rds.
6. I cannot praise enough the actions of the entire 191st. Their actions throughout the entire operation were cool and professional. In spite of the murderous ground fire, they carried out the mission with minimal loss to the supported unit. Although all performed well beyond the normal requirement, the activities of Boomerang 6, Bounty Hunter 21, and Boomerang Lead were especially noteworthy and deserve specific commendation. Their actions were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Army and reflect great credit upon themselves and their unit. Their professionalism and tenacity for completing the job in spite of the hazardous conditions will make them remembered by this unit for a long time to come. Indeed, they surely saved it from possible grave losses due to the superior fire power demonstrated by the VC unit.
FOR THE PROVINCE SENIOR ADVISOR:
s/ Robert L. Gilbert
t/ ROBERT L. GILBERT
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