LONGHORN 77 LAI KHE & PHU LOI SOUTH VIETNAM
1ST AVIATION BATTALION, 1ST INFANTRY DIVISION
Damn! I remember so little. For decades I barely even thought of Vietnam and the war there. At the time I left the army I felt I did my bit for king and country- and now I'm through! But today, as an "old man", I'm trying to put all the little pieces back together. I had my AIT (Advanced Individual Training) at Fort Gordon, GA in 1966 for infantry (MOS 11B). After training I was approached and offered a two week course to be a helicopter door gunner. I was also told it would guarantee me a trip to Vietnam. Being a 20 year old idiot I jumped for the chance.
So, after final training and a short leave home, I was sent to Vietnam on June 21, 1966. When I got there, surprise, they diverted me back to the infantry to be a rifleman with the 1st Infantry Division, 2/16, Co. A. After about 60 days in the bush I turned in my M14 rifle (yup, many units of the 1st Infantry were still using the M14 at that time) and was put on the M60 machine gun.
Well, living and crapping in the jungle with the boys was no fun. Yeah, OK, I loved the M60 machine gun (and what Chicago boy wouldn't), but still wanted out of the infantry and go where I was promised- aviation. Finally I put in a transfer request. Surprise- they would give it to me ONLY if I would extend my tour in Vietnam an extra 6 months. So, of course, once again being a 20 year old idiot, I did just that.
Amen. After several grueling months in the infantry, I was transferred to Co. B, 1st Aviation Battalion of the 1st Infantry Division (the Longhorns) and served as a helicopter door gunner. And there I stayed until I was sent home on January 21, 1968, or thereabout. I just missed the Tet Offensive (thank you, God).
I FORGOT IT ALL. SO NOW, HALF A CENTURY LATER, I'M PUTTING THE PIECES BACK TOGETHER....
SERVED IN VIETNAM
JUNE 1966 TO JANUARY 1968
OK. That's the basics. But, like I said, I remember so very little after more than 55 years. Home base for the 1st Aviation Battalion was Phu Loi where I flew on slicks. However, during my last 6 or 7 months in Vietnam I was flying the commanding generals of the 1st Infantry Division, and so I had to set up home at Lai Khe, the home base of the division. I flew as gunner a short time for MG William DePuy and about 6 or 7 months (or longer?) with MG John H. Hay, Jr. Our radio call sign was "LONGHORN-77" (pronounced: "Longhorn seven seven").
Other than that, and major operations, fire-fights and a few other facts and memories, I have forgotten a lot- like names of crew chiefs, pilots, any "donut dollies" I knew, and the location of my favorite bar where I "hung out" with "Suzie", etc. (actually, I remember Suzie at the La Pagoda bar in Phu Loi very well). If there is anybody out there who served with the 1st Aviation Battalion or was stationed at Lai Khe- especially during 1966 and 1967, please email me and fill me in with additional facts and details.
Or if you were there, and remember almost nothing yourself, I do have a few photos and other details that might help you! Note, if you're gonna tell war stories to your grandkids they may ask you some questions, and you should have some answers. Prior to this website and before the help of fellow vets, I even forgot the names of some of the base camps I was at. A skeptical person would doubt if I was even there.
This crest was originally approved for the 1st Aviation Battalion on 17 February 1964. It was rescinded in 1976. In 1981 the coat of arms was reinstated and in 1987 redesignated to the 1st Aviation Regiment of the 1st Infantry Division. The motto is "Above The First".
The 1st Infantry Division has been active since World War I and is the oldest division in the U.S.Army.
I was only with them a matter of months, and consider myself more of a door gunner than an infantryman. The 2nd Battalion 16th Infantry Regiment (2/16) was attached to the 1st Infantry Division. The term "regiment" is more ceremonial than anything else, with their origins often dating back a hundred years or more. I was really just part of the 2nd brigade of the 1st Infantry Division..
My inspiration for this site was Fred Dunlap, another Vietnam vet who served with the 1st Infantry Division, 2/28, the Black Lions- also based out of Lai Khe. He has many interesting photos and stories that many veterans can relate to. You can visit his site at: http://dunlapsite.com/Dunlap/VietNam/VietNam.htm .