The Geneva Accords stated that the division was to be temporary, and that national elections in 1956 would reunite the country. But the United States did not want to see Vietnam turn into a communist state, so the US supported the creation of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization, which provided defense for South Vietnam.
North Vietnam, then called the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, wanted a communist state, and South Vietnam, then called the Republic of Vietnam, wanted a non-communist state. In 1956, Ngo Dihn Diem, an anti-communist, won the presidential election in South Vietnam. But communist opposition in the south caused Diem numerous problems. And in 1959, southern communists decided to implement greater violence to try to oust Diem. This led to the formation of the National Liberation Front (NLF).
The NLF was a group of communists and non-communists who opposed diem and sought his ouster. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy sent a group to South Vietnam to determine what actions the US needed to take to assist them. When the group returned, they proffered recommendations in what became known as the "December 1961 White Paper" that indicated a need for an increased military presence; but many of the advisors of Kennedy wanted a complete pullout from the country.
In the end, Kennedy compromised and decided to increase the number of military advisors, but with the objective of not to engage in a massive military buildup. But in 1963, the government of Diem quickly began to unravel. The downfall began when Diem's brother accused Buddhist monks of harboring communists -- his brother then began raiding Buddhist pagodas in an attempt to find these communists
The Buddhist monks immediately began protesting in the streets, and in Saigon
on 05 October, 1963, one monk died by self-immolation. This incident caused
international outrage and Diem was soon overthrown and killed. On 02 August,
1964, North Vietnam attacked an American ship in the Gulf of Tonkin that
resulted in congress enacted the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which granted the
president broad war powers.
Lyndon B. Johnson was the president at the time, and the Gulf of Tonkin incident and the resultant resolution marked the beginning of the major military build up of America in the Vietnam War. In 1965, massive bombing missions by the US in North Vietnam, known as Operation Rolling Thunder, quickly escalated the conflict.
Upon deployment to Vietnam in 1967, the 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment consisted of three armored cavalry troops and one air cavalry troop, "D" Troop, which was not deployed until July 1968. "D" Troop spent that year training and equipping at Fort Hood to be one of the first Air Cavalry troops constituted as red unit- gunships, white unit- Light Observation Helicopters LOH and blue unit- UH-1s with aero rifle platoon. This organization provided flexibility, fire power, rapid response, close communications and extreme mobility ideally suited for jungle warfare and destined "D" Troop to primarily offensive missions like scout, reconnaissance, rapid insertion, search and destroy, interdiction and attack; but also search and rescue, medivac, resupply, flare drops, recovery and the list goes on.
"D" Troop was shipped to Vietnam with aircraft on board to join its parent unit, the 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, which was already in Vietnam attached to the Americal Division at Chu Lai. Enroute, "D" Troop’s orders were changed, temporarily attaching it to the 101st Airborne Division. The Troop disembarked at Da Nang on 21 July,1968 and flew directly to Camp Eagle. The Troop then remained on combat duty in I CORP for the next four years and used the call sign Sabre.
The 101st Airborne Division was undergoing a conversion from an airborne (parachute) to an airmobile (helicopter) formation and was renamed 101st Air Cavalry Division on 01 July, 1968 and renamed again as the 101st Airborne Division (Airmobile) on 29 August, 1969. The Division was short of aviation assets in the summer of 1968 and therefore arranged for service of "D" Troop until its own aviation assets were up to strength. "D" Troop was attached to the 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry within the division and flew missions primarily in northern I CORP in the Quang Tri, Thua Thien and Quang Nam Provinces. UH-1C model gunships were replaced with AH-1G Cobras through the summer of 1968 as new aircraft were received and crews were trained in-country.
In March 1969, one of the 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry squadron's air cavalry troops returned to Camp Eagle. The new troop and "D" Troop exchanged some personnel and flew together through May 1969, when "D" Troop departed for Chu Lai.
In May 1969, "D" Troop was returned to operational control of the Americal Division at Chu Lai, but it did not join its parent unit because, at the time it joined the Americal Division in January 1968, the 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment had already acquired a replacement Air Cavalry Troop, "F" Troop, 8th Cavalry, The Americal Division, formed in from three infantry Brigades, was not airmobile and found a pressing need for aviation assets. It activated the 123rd Aviation Battalion on 08 December, 1967 from a nucleus taken from the 161st Aviation Company, which was being deactivated (Pelicans and Warlords). "D" Troop was assigned to the 123rd Aviation Battalion so it too would support the entire Division. "D" Troop worked primarily the Southern part of I CORP in Quang Nam, Quang Tin and Quang Ngai Provinces until the end of 1971.
In October 1971, the Americal Division began to stand down and "D" Troop started a move to the old Marine base at Marble Mountain near Da Nang. On 23 October, 1971, typhoon Hester hit the southern I Corps coast. It was the worst storm in twenty-seven years. It swept in from the South China Sea and flattened half the base at Chu Lai.
On 04 May 1972, "D" Troop emerged from 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry to "D" Troop, 17th Cavalry, under the operational control of the 196th Infantry Brigade (the last remaining Brigade from the Americal). "D" Troop, 17th Cavalry established its Headquarters at Marble Mountain Army Airfield and flew missions all over I CORP. On 29 August, 1972, "D" Troop was relocated from Marble Mountain to Da Nang Air Base. The last "D" Troop missions in Vietnam were flown in November 1972 and the Troop stood down in February 1973.
On 15 April 1966 "E" Troop, 1st Cavalry Regiment was activated as the brigade reconnaissance troop of the 11th Infantry Brigade, 23rd Infantry (Americal) Division at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. On 06 December, 1967, "E" Troop, 1st Cavalry, departed Hawaii aboared the USS General William Weigel for the Republic of Vietnam. The advance party arrived on 19 December, followed by the arrival of the main body at Quin Nhon on 21 December, 1967. Immediately thereafter, "E" Troop joined the 11th Infantry Brigade and began extensive ground combat in Quang Ngai and Quang Tin provinces.
The unit's mission was to provide security and perform reconnaissance for the 11th Infantry Brigade and to engage in offensive, defensive or delaying action as an economy of force unit. Operating with M551 Armored Reconnaissance Airborne Assault Vehicles, "E" Troop was employed as an armor unit to engage primarily in security missions. Though somewhat limited in mobility by the terrain in the 11th Brigade's area of operation, "E" Troop proved the value of armor protected firepower on repeated occasions.
In late January, 1968. a fourth infantry battalion, the 4th Battalion, 21st Infantry, joined the "Jungle Warriors" of the 11th Infantry Brigade. Successful operations during this time included Operation NORFOLK VICTORY, CHAMPAGNE GROVE, and VERON LAKE II. During these operations the Brigade succeeded in destroying the enemy's major bases of operation, weapons and munitions caches, rice and salt caches, and interdicting his major infiltration and logistical routes.
The 11th Infantry Brigade operated from five forward fire support bases, each strategically located to hinder the enemy's movement and interdict his traditional lines of infiltration. Throughout their assignment to the 11th Brigade, "E" Troop engaged in eleven campaigns, receiving the Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry for service in 1969-1970. "E" Troop was inactivated in Vietnam on 13 November 1971.
In March, 1967, stationed at Ft. Hood, Texes, the 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment was alerted for movement to Vietnam. From March to August of that year, the squadron trained daily in all phases of squad, platoon, troop and squadron operations. In August 1967 the 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry was detached from the 1st Armored Division and sent to Vietnam as a separate armored cavalry squadron.
Upon their arrival in Vietnam in August, 1967, the 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry was deployed in I Corps Tactical Zone around Chu Lai. The squadron was committed to battle two days after its arrival and was in the field operating against the North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong continuously.
On January 10, 1968, the 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, attached to the 23 Infantry (Americal) Division, joined with the 196th Infantry Brigade in Task Force Oregon and operated around the Chu Lai areas.
The two longest running Americal Operations, WHEELER/WALLOWA, and BURLINGTON TRAIL, ended on 11 November. The former, which was primarily conducted by the 196th Brigade, accounted for 10,020 enemy dead and 2,053 captured weapons in its one year existence. BURLINGTON TRAIL, in which the 198th Brigade with help from the 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry; 26th and 39th Engineer Battalions, succeeded in opening the road from Tam Ky to Tien Phuoc, recorded 1,948 enemy dead and 545 weapons captured.
On 02 December 1968, a major pacification effort was initiated by the 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry, 1st Battalion, 46th Infantry. 198th Brigade; and the 26th Engineer Battalion in Thang Binh District. Operation HARDIN FALLS had as its main purpose providing assistance to Government of Vietnam forces so they could pacify six hamlets in the district. It ended on 28 February, 1969.
On 18 March Operation FREDERICK HILL was initiated in the northern sector of the Division by the 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry, and 196th Infantry Brigade along the 5th ARVN Regiment. In the center of the division, Operation GENEVA PARK was embarked upon by the 'Brave and the Bold' of the 198th Infantry Brigade and the 6th ARVN Regiment. Rounding out action in the southern regions of the Americal was Operation Iron Mountain started by the 'Jungle Warriors' of the 11th Infantry Brigade and the 4th ARVN Regiment.
On 04 January 1970, Americal troops of "B" Company, 4th Battalion, 3rd Infantry fought off an enemy mortar and sapper attack against their night defensive position. The infantrymen withstood the intense mortar barrage and ground attack and killed 29 of the insurgents. "A" Troop, 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment combined with the 15th Regular Force Group to defeat an estimated two companies of Vet Cong. "A" Troop, working in an area three miles west of Tam Ky killed 43 of the enemy during the engagement.
On 13 and 14 January, fierce action was reported in the 196th area of operation. A task force, consisting of 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry; 1st Battalion, 46th Infantry and 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry, overran the enemy positions resulting in 40 enemy killed and a large quantity of munitions confiscated. The 196th Brigade soldiers found themselves in the thick of it the next day as they recorded a total of 662 NVA soldiers killed in action in the "Pineapple Forest" area near Tam Ky.
The Squadron remained at Chu Lai for the entire tour of duty and departed Vietnam on 10 May 1972. The 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry has continued in active service as an Armor unit with an air cavalry troop to this day, although it is now scheduled for deactivation in Germany in 2008.
On 01 July, 1963 the 2nd Squadron, 1st Cavalry was relieved of their duties to the 3rd Armored Division, United States Army, Europe and reassigned to the 2nd Armored Division at Ft. Hood, TX. On 30 August 1967 the unit left Ft. Hood for Vietnam where they were attached to the 4th Infantry Division, headquarters in Plieku. During their service in the Central Highlands, troopers saw action in Plieku, Dak To, Suoi Doi, Kontum, An Khe and many other nameless stretches of road and jungle.
In May 1969 the squadron was transferred to Task Force South in Phan Thiet and attached to the 1st Field Force, Vietnam. Now operating in the rice paddies and rubber plantations of Vietnam, the Blackhawks further distinguished themselves in actions around Phan Thiet, Song Mao, Phan Rang and their environs. The 2nd Squadron, 1st Cavalry departed Vietnam in October 1970, leaving Cam Ranh Bay for reassignment to the 2nd Armored Division at Ft Hood, TX.
The 7th Squadron, 1st Cavalry REgiment, consisting of 6 Air Cavalry Troops and 1 ground (Infantry) Troop, arrived in Vietnam on 26 February 1968 from Ft Knox, Kentucky. The Squadron was first attached to the 12th Aviation Group operating out of Di An. On 03 June 1968 the Squadron moved to Vinh Long and became part of the 164th Aviation Group. Their service continued until 07 April1972 when they departed Vietnam.
As the Vietnam War wound down, there was a fundamental reorganization of the Army. As part of this reorganization, the 1st Armored Division was moved to Germany in 1971. It replaced the 4th Armored Division in the Bavarian city of Ansbach. The Division remained in Ansbach, with brigade units in the neighboring towns of Bamberg, Illesheim, Furth (Nurnberg) Katterbach, Crailsheim and Zirndorf, West Germany for the next twenty years, as part of the American forces committed to NATO.
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