1967 Public Information Activities

1967 PUBLIC INFORMATION ACTIVITIES OF INTEREST BIRDDOG GET V.C. Phan Thiet, Vietnam, An Armed “birddog” pilot of the 183rd reconnaissance Airplane Company directed air strikes on enemy positions recently that resulted in 22 VC killed and seven bunkers destroyed. While flying a normal reconnaissance mission in Binh Thuan Province, 115 miles northwest of Saigon, 1st lieutenant Fred C. Hankinson, Leesburg, Florida, spotted seven VC fox holes. The fox holes were well camouflaged with dark vegetation blending in with the terrain, but movement caught Lt. Hankinson’s eye. He immediately called an air strike. 1Lt. Hankinson marked the enemy positions with marking rockets as the Air force Fighters came in to make their strike. Results of the air strike were seven VC killed and three enemy bunkers destroyed. 1Lt. Hankinson’s second mission that day placed him flying low ship with an Air Force FAC as high ship over enemy terrain. Flying over a suspected large VC bunker complex, his birddog took ground fire and one round hit the left wing flap. Air strikes were immediately called in an stayed on the scene for the next two hours. Sky spots ere continued throughout the night to spotlight enemy ground activity. The next morning a ground force found a total of 15 VC dead and 4 large tin-covered enemy bunkers with hugh storage cellars completely destroyed.

“SEA HORSES” HEAD ‘EM OFF AT THE PASS Phan Rang, Vietnam…. During a reconnaissance mission near the base of the mountains in the vicinity of Phan Rang, 0-1 Birddog's of the Army’s 183rd Reconnaissance Airplane Company “Sea Horses” came under sudden enemy fire recently. The two Birddog pilots, Captain Jerry W. Ginn, Sasser, Georgia, and 1st Lieutenant Ronald R. Tamaccio, Warminster, Pennsylvania, reacted with rockets and machine gun fire to defend their aircraft and to mark the area for the Air Force FAC pilots, who brought in several immediate and direct air strikes to pound the enemy. After the Sea Horses had refueled and rearmed, they returned to the hostile area to pick up the fight and search for more enemy positions. Approximately two miles to the east and higher along the mountain ridge line, 1Lt. Tamaccio’s Birddog again came under enemy fire. This only brought more air strikes upon Charlie and the target position was called in by the Birddog Pilot. During the mission a total of seven separate air strikes were finally needed to bring quiet to the area. No estimate to the damage done is available but it can be said that Charlie could not have gotten off lightly.

GENERAL IS OBSERVER FOR “SEA HORSES” 30,000 COMBAT HOURS Dong Ba Thin, Vietnam…… “Sea Horse” pilots of the 183rd Reconnaissance Airplane Company have completed 30,000 combat flying hours in the Republic of Vietnam. On 14 October 1967, Captain Douglas L. Thorp, 29 (Honolulu, Hawaii) and Brigadier General Andrew P. Rollins, Comanding General of the 18th Engineer Brigade, landed at the Dong Ba Thin airstrip, making the completion of the 30,000 “Sea Horse” combat flying hour. BG Rollins and Cpt. Thorp had just completed a visual reconnaissance of the Dong Ba Thin, Cam Ranh security perimeter. The 0-1 Birddog's of the 183rd provide visual reconnaissance for the security of the installation. The Brigadier General, who is responsible for the area, had surveyed his perimeter of responsibility with a birddog’s eye view.  Arriving in Vietnam in June of 1966, the 183rd RAC is responsible for providing visual reconnaissance of the southeastern portion of the ARVN II Corps area, plus supporting the Americal Division from a base in Chu Lai. Primary mission for the 183rd RAC is visual reconnaissance and gathering intelligence. Over 23,800 sorties have been flown by the unit’s aviators. The vast majority of these sorties are visual reconnaissance missions. The unit has been directly involved in many large operations, such as Nathan Hale, Hawthorn, Paul Revere, Omega, Paul Revere IV, Gatling, and Task Force Oregon. The 101st Airborne, 25th infantry, 4th Infantry and Americal Divisions all have received direct combat support from the 183rd. Enemy totals reflect that the 183rd has been credited with 47 confirmed KIA, plus many others killed by artillery, air strikes and naval gun fire directed by the “Sea Horses”. The 183rd “Sea Horses” Reconnaissance Airplane Company provides eyes for the combat commander. In 30,000 combat flying hours the enemy has learned that he cannot hide and that there is no sanctuary in the jungles below the “Sea Horse” airspace.

VISUAL RECON PILOT PROVIDES VISUAL PROOF One of the 223rd Combat Aviation Battalion’s, 183rd Reconnaissance airplane Company’s aviators, Captain David L. Woods, of Bentleyville, Pennsylvania, recently proved a point beyond a shadow of a doubt. Captain Woods has been conducting a daily visual reconnaissance program in Ninh Thuan Province since June 1966. He has flown the area literally hundreds of times and reported numerous sightings to intelligence channels. For the past two months he has been reporting sightings of elephants in the province. The local sector S2 discredited the pilot’s reports because elephants had rarely been reported in the area. Viet Cong often use elephants to move supplies and the “Sea Horse” aviator was determined to prove their existence. Then one day he got his chance. While in support of a near by Special Forces camp, Captain Woods landed at their airstrip for co-ordination. After talking with the camp commander for a while the discussion centered on elephants. Captain Woods informed the camp commander of his dilemma concerning the elephants. The two of them got their heads together and came up with a novel idea. Later that day Captain Woods strolled into the sector S2 office carrying a large parcel. He requested to see the S2. When admitted, he stated that he had proof of elephants in the Phan Rang area. He then opened the parcel which contained elephant dung. The S2 now believes there are elephants in the area.

"SEA HORSES DEFEND NHA TRANG" Nha Trang, Vietnam….. Garbled and disjointed warnings by Vietnamese refugees helped Army aviators find and partially destroy a North Vietnamese Army (NVA) stronghold. The reports by the Vietnamese civilians at the Nha Trang refugee center led pilots of the 183rd Reconnaissance Airplane Company “Sea Horses” to investigate an area near the Song Thac Ngua River, north of the city. Captain Douglas L. Thorp, (Honolulu, Hawaii) had barely left the airfield traffic pattern when he sported an NVA flag waving atop a school house at the north edge of the city. Taking his “Birddog” reconnaissance airplane in for a closer look, he discovered trenches being dug around the house and a machine gun placed in an old bunker left from the French regime. Sudden ground fore aimed at the plane caused Captain Thorp to search the area from higher altitudes. A ground reaction force was notified. Within an hour the entire area was encircled by Vietnamese and allied troops. Meanwhile, aircraft departing Nha Trang runway began receiving ground fire. Traffic was directed away from the “hot spot’ and more of the 183rd “Birddog's” arrived at the troubled area to direct fire form A-1E “Sky raiders.” One “Birddog” fired two marking rockets simultaneously, opening a gap in the roof to the NVA stronghold. The Sky raiders, followed right on his heels, quickly strafed the area with their machine guns. The house and bunker were quickly secured while the fighting evolved into a house to house affair about 100 meters south. The ‘Sea Horses” patrolled the area all day to direct “Dust off” choppers evacuating wounded, and to watch the river for retreating troops. As the operation continued into darkness, the enemy retreated, leaving behind more than 20 dead, two AK-47 automatic rifles and many documents.

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