One out of every ten Americans who served in Vietnam became a casualty.  As a result, 58,169 were killed and 304,000 wounded out of 2.29 million who served.  Although the percent of dead is similar to other wars, amputations or crippling wounds were 300% higher than in World War II.  75,000 Vietnam Veterans are severely disabled.

11MEDEVAC helicopters flew nearly 500,000 missions, airlifting 900,000 patients (nearly one-half were Americans).  The average lapse between being wounded and reaching a hospital was less than one hour, and as a result, less than one percent of those wounded died of their wounds within the first 24 hours.

The helicopter provided unprecedented mobility.  Without helicopters, it would have taken three times as many troops to secure the 800 mile border with Cambodia and Laos (the politicians thought the Geneva Conventions of 1954 and the Geneva Accords of 1962 would secure the border).

1Army Huey’s totaled 9,713,762 flight hours in Vietnam between October 1966 and the end of American involvement in early 1973.  Cobra helicopters totaled 1,110,716 flight hours in Vietnam.  This is also the main reason that soldiers in Vietnam saw more action than those soldiers of preceding wars.  Large groups of soldiers could be air-lifted into a battle and then be withdrawn after a few hours and flown to another area to reinforce other units or to engage the enemy again in a different portion of the country.

300px-ah-1cobra_1The chart below is not all inclusive but includes most of the helicopter units that served during the Vietnam War.  Where it is known, I’ve indicated their unit name / call sign, and a sample of nose art or unit patch for those units.  I did post another article on this website a while ago that includes hundreds of photos of nose art used by these crews in-county.  I’ll leave a link at the end of this article in the event you want to check it out.

If I’ve erred on the chart below, please let me know so I can make corrections.  Also, I invite you to get back to me on any missing units, call signs or duplicates.  I am aware that many of the units mentioned herein had multiple call signs and nose art – I’m just limited to the available space I can’t show them all in this format..

CIVILIAN HELICOPTER UNITS
UNIT UNIT CALL SIGN
Air America 
U.S. ARMY HELICOPTER UNITS
Americal Division
 Southern Cross
B Co. 123rd Avn. Bn.  Warlords  warlordunitpatch.jpg
D Troop 1/1 Cav. Dragoons 
First Cavalry Division  Armed Falcons 
1st Brigade – 1st Cav Div (Airmobile)   Flying Circus
1st Aviation Detachment 1st CAV  Guns-A-Go-Go Image result for guns a go go
 

First Infantry Division 

Bulldogs, Rebel Guns, Longhorns, Danger Hawks 
1st Infantry Division 1/4th Cav   Quarter Cav
1st Infantry Division A – C Troop 1/4th – Armored Cav Squadron / Troop  Quarterhorse, Darkhorse
1st Infantry Division D Troop 16th Cav   Darkhorse, Mustangs   246
Fourth Infantry Division Aviation – The Ivy Division   Blackjacks and Gamblers  152
HHC 1st Brigade 5th Infantry Division Aviation Detachment  Batman
1st Squadron 9th Cavalry, 1st Air Cav Div   Bullwhip Squadron
A Troop 1/9th   Apache Troop & Headhunters
B Troop 1/9th    Bravo Troop
C Troop 1/9th    Charlie Troop
E Troop 1/9th    Echo Troop
F Troop 1/9th    F Troop  310
Aviation Platoon Headquarters & Headquarters Company – 173d Airborne Brigade (Sep)  Casper    10635f19bd4dt
Air Cav Troop 11th Armored Cavalry  Thunderhorse
A Troop 2/17th Cav   Assault 
B Troop 2/17th Air Cav.  Banshee 
C Troop 2/17th Air Cav Condors 
12th Combat Assault Group – A Troop 3/17th Cav  Silver Spurs 
12th Combat Assault Group – B Troop 3/17th Cav   Blackjack, Stogie  196
12th Combat Assault Group – C Troop 3/17th Cav 

12th Combat Assault Group – F Troop 3/17th Cav

 Comancheros167
7th Squardron 17th Cav Regiment (Air).  Ruthless Riders 
B Troop 7/17th Cav.  Scalphunters
7th Armored Squadron 1st Cav    Blackhawks
    
HHC 3rd Brigade 25th Infantry Aloha Airlines
A Company 101st Aviation   Thunderbirds13
B Company 101st Aviation Kingsmen untitled
C Company 101st Aviation and 188th AHC   Black Widows and Spiders 
D Company 101st Aviation  Hawks  D Company 101st Aviation Battalion
B Company 123rd Aviation Battalion  Warlordsunnamed (4)
A Company 158th Combat Aviation Battalion 101st Airborne Division  Ghost Riders Ghost Rider Unit Patch
B Company 158th Combat Aviation Battalion 101st Airborne Division  Lancers 
C Company 158th Combat Aviation Battalion 101st Airborne Division Phoenix 
B Company 159th Combat Aviation Battalion 101st Airborne Division  Varsity 
A Company 227th Aviation 1st Cav Div  Chickenman
B Company 227th Aviation 1st Cav Div   The Good Deal Company 
C Company 227th AHB 1st Cav 1966-67   Ghost Riders / Snakes 
D Company 227th AHB 1st Cav   El Lobo 
229th Assault Helicopter Battalion  Winged Assault 
A Company 229th AHC    Load Hackers 
B Company 229th AHC   Killer Spades
D Company 229th Aviation 1st Cav Div  Smiling Tigers
D Troop 1st Squadron 10th Cav  Shamrock

D Troop 1st Squadron 1st Air Cav 101st Airborne   Dragoons
D Troop (AIR) 1st Squadron 4th Cav 1st Infantry Darkhorse 
D Troop (AIR) 3rd Squadron 4th Cav 25th Inf Div and F Troop (AIR) 4th Cav  Centaurs  22
D Troop 3/5th Cav    Spooks / Raven / Long Knives180
E Troop 82nd Artillery 1st Cav Div
F Trp 8th Combat  Blueghost 
HHC 10th Combat Aviation Battalion   Vagabonds
A/377 ARTY 101 ABN 
2/20 ARA 1 CAV & F/79 CAV & 4/77 ARA & E82 (All ARA and AFA units)    Blue Max
8th Transportation Company
11th Armored Cav Regiment Aviation
12th Combat Aviation Group
14th Transportation Battalion (AM&S) (GS)  The Reliables  Picture
15th Medical Battalion   MEDEVAC
17th Assault Helicopter Company   Kingsman & Lancers
18th Corps Aviation Company   Green Delta
25th Combat Assault Company    Red Carpet
25th Aviation Battalion  Little Bears and Diamondheads 
31st Transportation (CH-34) Company and 138th Transportation Detachment 
48th Assault Helicopter Company  Bluestars and Jokers 99
52nd and 119th Camp Holloway    Dragons
52nd Combat Aviation +Battalion  Flying Dragons 
57th Assault Helicopter Company    Gladiators and Cougar  57th AHC
57th Medical Company    Dustoff
59th Combat Assault Company    Red Cloud
60th Assault Helicopter Company    Ghost Riders
61st Assault Helicopter Company  Lucky Stars and Star Blazers 
62nd Corps Aviation Company  Royal Coachman 62nd Royal Coachman
62nd Assault Helicopter Company    Outlaws &  Mavericks
68th Assault Helicopter Company  Top Tigers, Mustangs & Raiders 212
71st Assault Helicopter Company  Rattler and Firebirds 63
82nd Medical Detachment  DUSTOFF
92nd Assault Helicopter Company 

 

Stallions and Sidekicks 
101st Airborne Division Association

D Co, 158 Avn Bn (Cobras) Redskins
A Co, 101st Avn Bn (Huey’s) Comancheros
A Btry 377 Arty (Huey and LOH) Gunner
A Btry 4/77 ARA (Cobras) Dragons
B Btry 4/77 ARA (Cobras) Toros
C Btry 4/77 ARA (Cobras) Griffins
326 Med Bn (Huey’s) Eagle Dustoff
1st Bde Hdqtrs (LOH and Huey) Deadbone
2nd Bde Hdqtrs (LOH and Huey) Brandy
3rd Bde Hdqtrs (LOH and Huey) Thunder
163 Avn Co. (LOH and Huey) Roadrunner
A Co, 159th Avn Bn (Chinooks) Pachyderms
C Co., 159th Avn Bn (Chinooks) Playtex
476 Avn Co (Cranes CH-54) Hurricanes

 
114th Assault Helicopter Company  Knights/Cobras 254
114th Aviation Company     Knights of the Air 114th AHC Logo
116th Assault Helicopter Company Stingers, Hornets, Yellow Jackets & Wasps 340
117th Assault Helicopter Company  Beach bums, Warlords, Annie Fannies, Pink Panthers & Sidewinders 160
118th Assault Helicopter Company  Thunderbirds and Bandits 13
119th Assault Helicopter Company  Gators and Crocs 
120th Aviation Company and Attached Units  Deans & Razorbacks  253
121st Assault Helicopter Company  Vikings and Tigers   233
128th Assault Helicopter Company  Tomahawks, Gunslingers & Witch Doctor   244 
129th Assault Helicopter Company  Bulldogs and Cobras 197
132nd Assault Support Helicopter Company Hercules untitled
134th Assault Helicopter Company  Demons and Devils  untitled
135th Assault Helicopter Company  EMUs and Taipans
145th Combat Aviation Battalion First in Vietnam 
147th Assault Support Helicopter Company  Hillclimbers  untitled
155th Assault Helicopter Company  Falcons & Stagecoach 348
159th Assault Helicopter Company    Liftmasters Pelicans & Scorpions
159th Medical Detachment (Helicopter ambulance)   Dustoff145
161st Assault Helicopter Company    Pelicans & Scorpions  Scorpion_Patch_Color.gif (24581 bytes)
162nd Assault Helicopter Company   Copperheads & Vultures.  147
165-HMM (Helicopters, Marine Medium (Squadron)-165)  White Knights 
170th Assault Helicopter Company  Bikinis and Buccaneers 26
173rd Assault Helicopter Company  Robin Hoods and Crossbows 
174th Assault Helicopter Company  Dolphins and Sharks   95
175th Aviation Company  Outlaws & Mavericks
176th Assault Helicopter Company  Minuteman/Muskets 102
178th Air Support Helicopter Company  The Boxcars 
179th Air Support Helicopter Company   Shrimpboats & Hooks 
180th Assault Support Helicopter Company  Big Windy 
187th Assault Helicopter Company Crusaders & Rat Pack  Crusaders
188th AHC and C/101  Black Widows and Spiders 
189th Assault Helicopter Company  Ghost Riders and Avengersuntitled
190th Assault Helicopter Company  Spartans and Gladiators    338
191st Assault Helicopter Company  Boomerangs and Bounty Hunters 
192nd Assault Helicopter Company  Polecats and Tigersharks  untitled
195th Assault Helicopter Company   Sky Chief, Ghost Riders, Sky Pilots and Thunder Chickens
196th Assault Helicopter Company   Flippers & Chargers
197th Assault Helicopter Company   Gangbusters & Playboys109
199th LIB Aviation Group

 

Fireball Aviation                    
200th Assault Support Helicopter Company

201st Aviation Company 

Pachyderms

Red Barons

203rd Air Support Helicopter     Wildcats
A Company 203rd ASH     Wildcats
B Company 203rd ASH     Longhorns
C Company 203rd ASH    What more can we do?
205th Assault Helicopter Company  Geronimos 
213th Assault Support Helicopter Company  Blackcats 32
227th Assault Helicopter Battalion 1st CAV     Pouvoir   151
228th Assault Support Helicopter Battalion     Guns-A-Go-Go, Winged Warrior, Long Horns, Wildcats  
235th Air Support Helicopter Company     Delta Devils
237th Medical Detachment (Helicopter Ambulance)  Dustoff
238th Aerial Weapons Company –  Gunrunners 
240th Assault Support Helicopter Company  Greyhounds, Maddogs and Kennel Keepers  266
242nd Assault Support Helicopter Company  Muleskinners 
243rd Assault Support Helicopter Company  Freight Train 
271st Assault Helicopter Company     Innkeepers & Bartenders
272nd Assault Support Helicopter Company    
273rd Heavy Helicopter     Super Hook
281st Assault Helicopter Company  Intruders, Rat Pack, Bandits, Wolf Pack 
282nd Assault Helicopter Company  Blackcat & Alleycats  12
334th Aerial Weapons Company     Sabers, Playboys, Raiders & Dragons
335th Assault Helicopter Company (A/82 in 1965)  Cowboys, Falcons and Caspers   198
336th Assault Helicopter Company  Warriors and T-Birds 28
339th Transportation Company (DS)  Always in good hands
355th Heavy Helicopter     Workhorse
361st Aerial Weapons Company  Pink Panthers 13
362nd Aviation Company – The Last Chinook Unit in Viet Nam  Fly United 
478 Heavy Helicopter    Hurricane
498th Medical Company (Air Ambulance)  Dustoff
610th Transportation Company (AM) (GS) 1966-1972 Fast and Sure 
A Company 501st Aviation Battalion     Rattlers & Firebirds
 123
USMC VMO-3, HML-367, HMLA-367 Deadlock, Hostage, Cowpoke & The Angry Two
USMC VMO-2  Oakgate, Scarface, Eagle Claw, Cyclone 
USMC VMO-6    Klondike 
HMM-161  Evil Eyes         4195216f17956cd914902d5e44d4550e
HMM-163      Ridge Runners
HMM-164    Yankee Tango
HMM-165     White Knights
HMM-167     Warriors
HMM-261   Raging Bulls  
HMM-262    Old Tigers
HMM-263     The Thunder Eagles
HMM-361   Flying Tigers- 
HMM-362  (first USMC helicopter unit in and out of Vietnam) Ugly Angels 
HMM-363    Lucky Red Lions
HMM-364    The Purple Foxes  
HMM-365   The Magnificent Flying Circus.
HMA-369     Pistol Pete
HMH-463     Pennant Day, Dimmer, Pineapple
White Hat Airlines     Aircofat   
U.S. NAVY HELICOPTER UNITS 
HA(L)-3  Seawolves 34
Helicopter Combat Support Squadron Seven (HC-7)  Seadevils 
Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron 6 (HS-6) made WESTAC deployments in 1966 and 1967-8 on the carrier USS Kearsarge and provided Combat Search and Rescue in the Gulf of Tonkin prior to the establishment of Combat Support Squadron 7 (HC-7).
Combat SAR operations 
U.S. AIR FORCE HELICOPTER UNITS 
Rotor heads 
SOUTH VIETNAM HELICOPTER UNITS
VNAF (Viet Nam Air Force) was the air force of the Republic of South Vietnam.

15078641_718273888335584_6146625257839349695_n

 

300px-hughes_yoh-6a_cayuse_us_army_in_flight

4195216f17956cd914902d5e44d4550e

operation-hastings-vietnam-warApproximately 12,000 helicopters saw action in Vietnam (All services) and it’s estimated that 40,000 pilots served in the war.  Those red figures in the chart below represent the combined total of all other helicopters / crews outside of the Huey category; I was unable to locate individual statistics for each line item for that group.   The numbers in the destroyed column are actual numbers which are verified by tail numbers.

It should also be pointed out that 532 American passengers were killed in downed aircraft and are not included in any of the KIA totals.

    KIA KIA
Model # Served # Destroyed Pilots Lost Crew Lost
All UH-1 Huey Slicks/guns 7,013 3,305 1,074 1,103
All AH-1G Cobras 272  ⇑  ⇑
CH-21C Banana 18  ⇑
CH-3 Jolly Green’s 14
CH-46 / 47 Chinook 284
CH-53 Sea Stallions 23  ⇑
CH-54 Flying Crane 5000 9  1128  1601
HH-37 Heavy lift transport 2
HH-3 Jolly Green Giant 21
HH-43 Huskie Rescue 13
HH-53 Super Jolly Green 9
OH-13/23 Light Observation 240  ⇓
OH-6 LOH Scout 842
OH-58A Armed Scout 45
Misc Sioux / Sikorsky SH-3/34 14
Totals 12,013 5,111 2,202 2,704

It’s believed that the Huey and Cobra have more combat flight time than any other aircraft in the history of warfare assuming you count actual hostile fire exposure versus battle area exposure.  As an example, heavy bombers during World War II most often flew missions lasting many hours with only 10 to 20 minutes of that time exposed to hostile fire.  Helicopters in Vietnam were always exposed to hostile fire even in their base camps.

The following short video offers an animation presentation that shows crash sites during the war on a map of Southeast Asia.  It’s interesting to note that only three major areas of the country show heavy concentrations in additions to the many locations in Cambodia and Laos.

The following article was published in the San Diego Union Tribune by John Wilkens on January 8, 2017 about the last pilots to die in Vietnam:

History remembers them as the last two American pilots to die in Vietnam, killed when their Marine Corps helicopter went into the South China Sea during the frantic evacuation of Saigon on April 29, 1975. Their bodies were never recovered

“I’ve thought about it every day for 41 years,” said Steve Wills, who was on the helicopter as crew chief and survived the crash. “I think it would be a healing thing for the whole nation.”

One of the aviators was Capt. William Nystul, who grew up in Coronado. The oldest of four sons, he graduated from Coronado High and San Diego State. He was 29 when he died, married with a young son. His co-pilot, 1st Lt. Michael Shea, from El Paso, Texas, was 25.

YT-14 was on search and rescue duty off the carrier Hancock that day, ready to swoop in if other helicopters crashed and the crews needed to be pulled from the water. It took off at 6 a.m. for what would turn out to be about 17 hours of flying, interrupted a half-dozen times to land on the carrier to refuel.

About 1 p.m., Nystul and Shea came on board to relieve the original pilots. Nystul, who had been teaching at a fixed-wing flight school in Pensacola, was sent back to Vietnam for his second tour after about 20 hours of re-training in the CH-46. Shea, a CH-53 pilot, had about 25 hours of training in the 46 before he was deployed.

Wills, the crew chief and right gunner, and Richard Scott, the mechanic and left gunner, were the other crew members. It was a busy day. They transported refugees from one ship to another. They rescued a Vietnamese man who crashed his small plane in the water.

“We were dodging aircraft left and right,” Wills said in a phone interview from his home in Kalispell, Mont. “The helicopter flew good that day.”

At about 11 p.m., YT-14 was running low on fuel and needed to land on the Hancock. But there wasn’t room. Nystul got waved off twice. Finally cleared to come in, he had to make a hard right turn away from the carrier to avoid being hit by a plane arriving from behind.

“Missed us by less than 100 feet,” Wills said.

He remembers the pilot telling the crew, “Somebody is going to die up here tonight.”

Into the water

Bruce Collison was a medic that night on board the Hancock. Now living in Sarasota, Fla., he recalls being on the flight deck, transfixed by the red, blinking anti-collision light of a helicopter overhead: YT-14.

“It continued circling the length of the ship, running out of fuel, looking for a place to land, losing altitude with every pass,” he said.  “I’m convinced that if they had tried to land, with all the other helicopters there, some of them refueling, there would have been a total conflagration and a lot of people would have been killed. So they took it into the water instead.”

Others have surmised that the pilots got disoriented; it was a pitch-black night, no visible moon, impossible to see the horizon. The last thing Wills remembers hearing over his headset was a voice saying: “Pick it up! Pick it up! Pick it up!” Then darkness.

He regained consciousness underwater and made it to the surface. His left leg was fractured and his right hip dislocated. His helmet had been torn off. He fired two pen flares, then activated his rescue strobe. Scott was nearby and turned on his strobe, too.

On the Hancock, Collison remembers seeing the two strobes and thinking, “Great, there are survivors!” Then it dawned on him: “There should be four strobes.”

Another CH-46 lifted off the carrier, and to those on the flight deck, it looked as if it might disappear, too. Its landing lights went under water. Moments later, the engines roared and it lifted into the air and back toward the ship, carrying the engines roared and it lifted into the air and back toward the ship, carrying the two survivors.

The next day, on board the Hancock, they held a traditional burial at sea for the pilots. There were no bodies, so they put mock corpses under the American flags, and slid those into the ocean.

“We were numb like zombies,” Collison said. “We’d spent all day saving people and then we lost two Marines. Nobody wanted to be the last guy to die in Vietnam, and then it happened to two guys that we knew. The whole thing felt surreal.”

It’s part of military lore that no man is left behind, but the evacuation task force had orders to move on. Saigon had fallen to the Viet Cong.

Click on this link to read the entire story written above:  http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/military/sdut-vietnam-helicopter-crash-2016may28-story.html

Link for nose art:  http://wp.me/pRiEw-1P4

Information for this article was obtained from Wikipedia,  The Military Channel, The History Channel, https://www.archives.gov/research/military/vietnam-war/casualty, and Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association. (Visit the VHPA museum in the near future at http://www.vhpa.org )

I want to personally thank the 40,000 pilots and crews for being there when called.  You are all held in the highest regard by us grunts and others who were in harm’s way.  Thank you for your service and Welcome Back to those who made it home.  Side note:  Every time a Chinook or Blackhawk passes overhead from nearby Selfridge National Guard Base, I still find myself looking into the sky and watching it cross over until it’s gone…and then sometime when I’m outside, I hold my cane in both hands overhead in tribute to those magnificent men in their flying machines – and was then thankful that they didn’t land in my backyard.


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