Annual Supplement to the Unit History

1 January 1970 - 31 December 1970

Original Document Prepared by:

CPT Charles N. Larsen

1LT David M. Nelson

1LT Douglas S. Toschi

CW2 Terry L. Weber

APPROVED BY

JERRY T. WAGNER

MAJ, IN Commanding

FORWARD

The year 1970 has once again shown that the 57th Aviation Company "Gladiators" can meet and perform any mission assigned to it in a manner that exemplifies the highest qualities to be found in Army Aviation.

The officers and men of the 57th have shown such courage, dedication and professionalism that the "Gladiators" have developed a reputation for accomplishing any mission, at any time, in spite of any adversities. However, the 57th is not content to let its reputation go unchallenged. Our motto, "Combat Proven, Try Us", is an open invitation to all to test the 57th "Gladiators" and learn that these officers and men are soldiers in the finest tradition of the Military service.

COMMAND AND CONTROL:    1970

MAJ John D. Charles 14 August 1969 - 23 January 1970

MAJ Byron E. Byerley 23 January 1970 - 4 August 1970

MAJ Edward A. Janas 4 August 1970 - 3 February 1971

MISSION AND ORGANIZATION

The mission of the 57th Assault Helicopter Company is to provide tactical air mobility of combat troops, supplies and equipment and to provide attack helicopter fire support within the II Corps Tactical Zone.

On 10 February 1967, the 57th was reorganized from an Airmobile Fixed Wing Company (CU-2) to an Assault Helicopter Company by General Order 52, Headquarters Third U.S. Army. The company consists of Company Headquarters, two Airlift Platoons, one Armed Platoon, and a Service Platoon. No units are currently attached to the 57th Aviation Company.

The 57th, by MTOE, is authorized 19 Commissioned Officers, 51 Warrant Officers and 219 Enlisted Personnel. These 219 men operate, maintain and secure a total of 23 UH-lH troop carrying helicopters and 8 UH-1C attack helicopters.

INTRODUCTION TO UNIT OPERATIONS

The 57th Assault Helicopter Company is in general support of the II Corps Tactical Zone but has been primarily in support of the areas in and around Kontum, An Khe and Pleiku, Republic of

Vietnam. This is near the Tri-Border area of Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. The 4th Infantry Division, 5th Special Forces Group, 1st Field Forces, MACV and various ARVN units have been supported by the 57th. The units primary mission for the bulk of the year 1970 was supporting the 4th Infantry Division until their stand down in November. The 57th has had a remarkable record of successful missions with a minimal loss of aircraft and personnel.

The following narrative is a chronological record of the successes of the 57th Aviation Company. It gives an insight into the obstacles that were met and overcome by the men of the unit. The men of the "Gladiators" and "Cougars" take distinct pride in our motto "Combat Proven, Try Us".

UNIT OPERATIONS

The year of 1970 came in with the usual celebrations, but little enemy activity. Remembering the previous Tet offensive, the Kontum perimeter was rebuilt in preparation for what all hoped would be a quiet Tet.

The first incident of the new year occurred on 14 Jan 1970 when an aircraft piloted by WO1 Weber was shot down near Kon Arong in support of the 5th Special Forces. Mr. Weber received light shrapnel wounds in the hand and right knee.

On 17 January 1970, the enemy once again found W0l Weber's aircraft. While flying on the FOB II for the 5th Special Forces, his aircraft received numerous hits. He was able to fly the aircraft back to Dak To. Two of the reconnaissance team members on board the aircraft were killed by the intense ground fire the aircraft received.

W0l John Crumb was wounded in the left leg on 29 Jan 1970 when the UH-1C he was flying was hit by a B-4O rocket. He was able to regain control of the aircraft and fly the aircraft from Kon Arang to Kontum.

As the month of January came to a close, W0l Weber again came under the enemies guns while on the FOB II mission. He was able to fly his aircraft to Ben Het although it was heavily damaged. One member of the reconnaissance team that was aboard the aircraft was seriously wounded.

On 1 February 1970, the 57th was asked to provide twelve lift ships and three gun ships for a night combat assault in the Kontum area. The lift was completed successfully, and the unit continued its outstanding work by meeting its FOB II commitment and six other missions the following day.

The month of February saw the 57th begin training the 170th Aviation Company to take over the FOB II mission. The 57th was scheduled to move to An Khe in the near future to support the 4th Infantry Division

On 19 February 1970, WO1 Jones UH-1C gun ship received two B-40 rockets. The aircraft was damaged by shrapnel, but he was able to complete his mission before returning to Kontum.

By the end of the month, the training of the 170th Aviation was practically complete. The 57th began to make preparations for its move to An Khe.The move to An Khe was completed on 13 March 1970. All missions were completed that day, and the unit successfully completed moving in a twenty-four hour period.

On 26 March 1970, lLT Harvey was wounded in the thigh while flying a combat assault in support of the 4th Division. CW2 Williams flew the battle damaged aircraft back to the medivac pad at An Khe where 1LT Harvey was hospitalized.

On 6 April 1980, three weeks after their arrival in An Khe, the 57th was hit by a sapper unit of unknown size. Four aircraft were completely destroyed and another aircraft received major damage.

April began with the 57th Aviation Company leading the first flight of slicks into the Battle of Dak Seang. On 3 April 1970, the insertion was made which began the breaking of the siege. Intensive ground and mortar fire was received during the insertion, but the lift was completed with the loss of only one aircraft, that being from another unit.

Dak Seang Special Forces Camp

(Photo of Dak Seang SF Camp available from Photo TOC)

The entire month saw the 57th at Dak Seang, inserting troops and resupplying the battered compound. Twelve aircraft received combat damage during the siege, but fortunately the unit did not lose a life. Six crew members were wounded, but not seriously.

There was to be no rest for the 57th, for on 6 May the unit inserted a large number of ground troops into Cambodia. Four aircraft were damaged and one destroyed in the intense enemy fire.

CPT Ross, the flight lead was shot down, but the insertion was continued into the landing zone and CPT Ross and his crew were extracted from the landing zone by another aircraft from the unit.

During the same insertion, WO1 Bivens, a copilot in the aircraft piloted by WO1 Steanbock, received a shoulder wound. His life was saved by his protective chest plate as it stopped the impact of the bullet.

After the initial insertion, ground fire began to lighten and the job of resupply, medivac, and recovery of enemy stores began. By early June all the United States troops the 57th had been supporting were withdrawn from Cambodia and An Khe once again became the primary area of operations.As a result of the performance of the 57th at Dak Seang and in the Cambodian campaign, numerous awards for valor were received. Battalion and Group bestowed letters of appreciation on the unit.

From the middle of June until the end of September, the 57th continued to act in support of the 4th Division. It participated in many combat assaults with superior results. Resupply and medivacs were constantly run to support ground troops in the Field. During these months, several aircraft received damage from ground fire, but suffered no casualties in the unit.

This was not to last indefinitely, as on 6 October 1970, an aircraft flown by WO1 Morris received heavy .51 caliber fire near landing zone Uplift. One passenger in the aircraft was wounded, and another killed during the intense fire.

On 11 October 1970, WO1 Taylor was flying a UH-1C in support of a combat assault near landing zone Crystal. He was critically wounded in the thigh and stomach by intense enemy ground fire. W0l Coffin, copilot of the aircraft, recovered the aircraft from an unusual attitude and flew the aircraft to the medivac pad at landing zone Uplift.

On 20 October 1970, WO1 Terry Lnenicka was flying a classified mission in support of the 5th Special Forces. The aircraft crashed and was destroyed by fire after the impact. The crew was recovered without injury.

Webbmaster's Note:  On Sunday, June 13, 1999 I received a very nice e-mail from Caleb Lnenicka , son of  WO1  Terry Lnenicka advising me that his father's last name was misspelled .( Webbie: by the original "historians")  I really appreciate the nice comments Caleb made and I  have corrected the spelling. But more importantly is the fact that Terry is still alive and kicking.   Now that IS good news!

By the end of October, the 57th aided the 4th Division in consolidation of its troops in preparation for stand down. With the stand down occurring, the 57th began preparations for its move to Pleiku.

On 15 November 1970, the advanced party was sent to Pleiku. The move was completed on 18 November and the 57th began its support of ARVN ground units in the Pleiku area.

November 22 became known as "Black Sunday" to all of the "Gladiators". While on a support mission for ground troops under siege at Plei Mei, WO1 Jeffery L. Coffin, piloting a UH-lC gun ship, was severely wounded in the head. He died enroute to the 71st Evacuation Hospital in Pleiku. WOl Coffin was extremely well respected by all in the 57th and his loss was deeply felt by the whole company. Five more aircraft were damaged by fire the same day, with SP4 Walters being severely wounded in his leg. As the New Year approached, the 57th began preparations to take over FOB II. The unit was again being called on to it as a challenge they were willing to accept, and once again prove the superior combat capability of the 57th Aviation Company.

Christmas celebrated in a rousing manner, and a year of unprecedented service to the United States Army was looked forward to by all concerned.

HONOR ROLL

Unit Members Killed in Action 1970

COFFIN, Jeffery L. WO1   KIA 22 November 1970

MAJOR AWARDS PRESENTED TO UNIT MEMBERS

PORCHE, Henry SP4 Purple Heart

HIGGENBOTHAM, Carter WO1 AC/V, DFC

KIENENAPP, James WO1 DFC

NEELEY, Gary L. WO1 AC/V, Purple Heart

WILLIAMS, Paul R. III WO1 Purple Heart

BLACKMORE, Harry C. SP4 Purple Heart

DAY, Steven PFC AC/V

FRANCO, Joseph R. SP4 Purple Heart

FIRNSTEIN, Charles F. PFC AM/V

HAMILTON, Steven R. SP4 AC/V

HOOVER, Gary SP4 AC/V, Purple Heart

JONES, Paul T. WO1 AC/V, AM/V, SFC,

Purple Heart, DFC

NOLAN, Michael W. SP4 AM/V

SHANE, Michael F. WO1 DFC

THOMAS, David L. PFC AM/V

CHAMBLISS, William PFC AM/V, AM/V

RABY, Jack H. Jr. CPT Purple Heart, AC/V, BS/V

BENTHEIMER, Dean R. SP5 AM/V

CHUGON, Arley G. PFC AM/V

FUNES, Theodore PFC AM/V

HUNSICKER, John H. WO1 Purple Heart

POWELL, Joe W. PFC AM/V

ROSS, Vaughn R. CPT Purple Heart

McCULLOGH, Timothy L. SP4 BS/V, AM/V

VERASTGUI, Alfonso SP4 AM/V

HESTER, Steven K. SP4 AM/V

SCHAUS, Thomas E. WO1 DFC, DFC

LENICKA, Terry L. WO1 DFC

MURPHY, Lawrence E. 1LT DFC

UPHOFF, Frederick WO1 DFC

TAYLOR, Johnny S. WO1 DFC, Purple Heart

BERNHARDT, Joe S. CPT DFC

BIVEN, Jerry R. WO1 Purple Heart, AM/V

SRAINERD, Charles WO1 DFC, AM/V

PHOHAN, Patrick WO1 AM/V

HOLTSCLAW, Michael WO1 DFC

LARSEN, Charles 1LT AC/V, DFC

ROBERTSON, Steve WO1 AM/V

SMART, Thomas F. 1LT AM/V

STAPLETON, John G. WO1 AM/V

STEENBOCK, Stanley WO1 DFC, AM/V

SULLIVAN, Brendan WO1 AM/V

BURKE, Norman SP4 AM/V

COLIN, Jackie PFC AM/V

JOHNSON, Lyle PFC AM/V

LORELLA, Louis SP4 AM/V

OLIVIER, William SP4 AM/V

OESTERRIECHER, Edward PFC AM/V

WATER, William SP4 AM/V

COFFFIN, Jeffery L. WO1 SS*, PH*, PH

*Awarded Posthumously

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