A Seahorse Mission in Binh Thuan Province
During the late-night hours in the autumn of 1966, an amergency call for assistance came through the local MACV advisory team from a US Subsector Advisory Team reporting that the District Headquarters at Thien Gian were under attack by the Viet Cong estimated at battalion strength.
Immediately upon notification, a Seahorse pilot and his crew chief drove to the nearby Phan Thiet airfield, quickly readied their Bird Dog and with a MACV Army Major as observer, they were airborne within 15 minutes from receiving the emergency call.
Enroute to the area of the attack, the first Seahorse mission was accomplished, making radio communications with the commander of the outpost, establishing the intensity and directions of the VC attack and reporting this information to the local MACV Headquarters. A HU-1D Flare Helicopter had been requested and upon his arrival over the target area, radio contact was made, and the Seahorse pilot directed the placement of the flares (the second mission), illuminating the battle area and allowing the besieged forces to direct small arms fire on the Viet Cong.
As enemy tracer-laced automatic ground fire toward the Seahorse pilots Bird Dog was taking place by this time, he established black-out flight conditions. As the HU-1D aerial rocket helicopters from the 1st Cavalry Division, a USAF flare aircraft, one USAF FAC aircraft and several USAF jet bombers arrived on the scene, it became apparent that mid-air collisions could occur. The Seahorse pilot contacted and assigned orbiting flight altitudes or flight path directions to each aircraft, and with the able assistance of his U.S Army observer, simultaneously maintained radio communications with the Air Force FAC and MACV officers on the ground, as well as periodically reporting by radio to the MACV officers and the 1st. CAV. personnel in Phan Thiet (mission 3).
During this same phase of the enemy attack, the Seahorse pilot delivered (his own) and directed HU-1D helicopter HE rockets alont the stream beds nearest to the outpost which were occupied by the VC, as well as delivering WP rockets to mark the areas where the ground commander had requested 20 mm cannor fire, napalm and 250 pound bomb strikes. Maching gun fire from HU-1D Army helicopters was also directed by the Seahorse pilot on the enemy postions, as he was the only aircraft in radio contact with the friendly ground troops (mission 4 & 5).
After nearly 4 hours, MACV ground officers released all aircraft from the scene. The Seahorse pilot and his observer returned to the Phan Thiet airfield. Later intelligence reports indicated 63 VC had been killed and 48 wounded. There were no immediate reports of any U.S or friendly troops killed during the attack.
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