The 203rd RAC "Hawkeyes"operations were in both Binh Dinh and Phu yen Provinces, II Corps The Republic Of South Vietnam from Nov 1967 to July 15, 1970. From Nov 1967 to July 1970 the 203rd RAC Hawkeyes had a total of 385 men of which 85 were pilots. In the short life of the 203rd RAC Hawkeyes these 85 Aviators flew 47,469 missions, destroyed 1,170 enemy bunkers with 1,512 confirmed enemy K.I.A. From 1968 to 1970 we lost 20 out of or 40 0-1G Bird Dogs crashed and to enemy mortars. It took the 300 enlisted men to keep the 85 Aviators in the air all proud to have served with the 203rd RAC "Hawkeyes"
Of our 385 Hawkeye Brothers 95 are now gone.
Binh Dinh Province 7,000 square kilometers in size was the 1st and 2nd platoons area of operation. There were two major American Army units operating in Binh Dinh. In the northern section the 173rd ABN with supporting artillery. In the western section the 1st Brigade 4th Inf Div with supporting artillery, and the U.S. Navy. The 203rd RAC units supporting Binh Dinh were 1st and 2nd Platoon. 1st Plt. 5 A/C out of Qui Nhon. 3 A/C were committed in support of the Province,1 A/C to augument the 2nd Plt. at LZ English as needed, and 1 A/C for general support. The 2nd Plt. second section LZ English 6 A/C. 5 A/C were in support of the 173rd ABN. and 1 A/C as general support. The 1st section 2nd Plt. at An Khe had 5 A/C 3 A/C in support of the 4th Inf Div. and 2 A/C for general support. The 1st and 2nd Platoon A/C were used for visual recon, artillery adjustment, Naval gun adjustment, convoy escort, and radio relay for long range recon patrols. The members of the 1st. Platoon were awarded the Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation Medal in support of Naval operations in Binh Dinh Province.
Phu Yen Province is 5,000 square Kilometers in size was the 3rd platoons area of operation. and has 6 districts. Phu Yen had 20,000 allied troops. The units were the 268th Avn Bn, the 26th Korean White Horse Div, the 47th ARVN artillery Bn., 6/32nd Artillery, 545th Trans., 577th Eng, 134th AHC, 180th Chinooks, 203rd RAC, 338th AHC, 268th Pathfinders, 335th AHC, 355th Sky Cranes, 433rd Med, USAF Tuy Hoa, C/75th Rangers, MACV, and the USN. The 3rd Plt at Phu Hiep had 6 A/C in support of these units. 3 A/C were in support of MACV, 1 A/C in support of the 6/32nd Artillery, and 2 A/C for general support. The missions of the 3rd Plt. were convoy escort, Artillery adjustment, Naval gun adjustment, Perimeter patrol, night perimeter watch, Troop support, and visual recon.
Nov. 1967: The 203rd's first combat operation was in Nov. 1967 one month before the unit became formally combat operational. The operation was to support MACV SOG B52 Det. out of Nha Trang. The mission was a 183rd RAC Mission but their A/C for the mission was down so they ask the 203rd RAC for help. the mission was given to Cpt. John D. Lewis 203rd Hawkeye 3rd Plt.
December 1967: Binh Dinh Province Cpt. Brain P. Mullady and Lt. Gregory P. Barlow answered a call for assistance from a beseiged Regional force company. After hours of heavy fighting the enemy force fled leaving 34 dead, with no friendly losses. All but eight of the enemy KIA were credited to the 203rd RAC and the artillery they directed.
December 1967: Operation Bollind II began on Dec 26. The 3rd Platoon flew 58 sorties in support of this operation. The Hawkeyes were credited for finding 47 enemy structures, of which 23 were distroyed, 238 enemy defensive positions and 38 enemy personnel K.I.A.
January 1968: "Operation Walker" Conducted by the 173rd ABN to secure Hwy. 19 (QL-19) from Quin Nhon to An Khe . During the operation there were 554 enemy KIA 1,024 POW's. The 203 rd RAC was credited with 52 enemy KIA and 18 wounded.
January 1968: Cpt. Raymond O. Kincannon 3rd Platoon Phu Hiep Flying low on a visual recon mission in Phu Yen Province hit a tree tip with left wing causing major damage to the left wing and internal cable and electrical damage ( photo's in Gallery # 12 )
March 30 1968: "Operation Cochise" aganist the 22nd NVA Reg. and the 3rd NVA Div. In 10 months the Brigade accounted for 929 enemy K.I.A., 2,062 P.O.W.
April 1 1968: Cpt. Raymond O. Kincannon was killed in action. Cpt. Kincannon and his observer W0-1 Franklin Delano Audilet 172nd Mil. Intel. 173rd ABN. BDE. were killed when their aircraft 0-15050 crashed and burned near Can Ranh Bay South Vietnam. W0-1 Audilet was a Image Interpreter with 14 yrs service. This information comes from 1968-1969-1970 unit histories.
April 1968: Report on aircrash of 0-15050. Cpt Kincannon flew Cpt. Joe Swifts misson while Cpt. Swift was on R&R. He flew with Cpt. Swifts normal observer W0-1 Audilet who liked to carry white phosphours grenades on the missions. Company SOP was to always hold the grenade out the window while pulling the pin. The formal report was that while engaged by hostile ground fire W0-1 Audilet pulled the pin inside the aircraft dropped it rolling back under his seat which caused the aircrash. Reported in the Pacific Stars & Stripes April13,1968. It's initial report was non hostile aircrash. Then on April 20, 1968 after the formal report the Pacific Stars & Strips changed the status from died not as a result of hostile action to killed in action. W0-1 Franklin D. Audilet was reported in the Pacific Stars & Strips as M.I.A. until April 27, 1968.
1 Jan 1969: Report on aircrash of 0-15050 by Cpt. Raymond Veal Jr. On April 1, 1968 Cpt. Raymond O. Kincannon and his observer Franklin D. Audilet were killed when their aircraft crashed and burned after being engaged by hostile ground fire near Cam Rhan Bay, south Khanh Hoa Province, south Vietnam.
15 sept 1970: Report on aircrash of 0-15050 by Cpt Donald H. Davis. Cpt. Ramond O. Kincannon and observer were killed April 1, 1968 when their aircraft crashed and burned after being engaged by hostile ground fire.
Statement by Cpt. Kincannons Crew Chief SP/5 William Adamescu: I was told by the 203rd Company radio operator that Cpt. Kincannon was flying low following a river. On one side of the aircraft was a hill about the same hight as the aircraft. On the hill was an enemy 51 cal. machine gun implacement that killed Capt. kincannon and his observer. The radio's at Phu Hiep were being upgraded and our aircraft could'nt communicate dirctly to Phu Hiep. The radio traffic was routed through others. There were photo's of the crash site but I was not allowed to see them.
June 11 1968: report on air crash of 51-12008 PFC Terry Lee Ivener killed in action. observer PFC Terry Lee Ivener and pilot were killed when their Aircraft was shot down By Hostile ground fire While on a visual recon mission Binh Dinh Province, Vietnam. PFC Ivener had only 11 days in Vietnam and it was his first week With the 203rd. This information comes from the unit histories 1968-1969-1970.
June 11, 1968: Information on air crash of 51-12008; The pilot was 1st Platoon Leader Cpt. Joe Swift's replacement. Cpt. Swift had less than 20 days left on his Vietnam tour and was trying to get all the ER's out so the pilot took his mission. The pilot and PFC Ivener took off from Qui Nhon at 0800 Hrs. on the morning of June 11, 1968. The estimated crash time was 0900. When contact was lost Lt. David Creasman went airborn conducting a search and rescue. After 1 hour and 30 minutes he found the crash site near An Khe Pass. The aircraft had been down approximatley four and one half hours when found by Lt. Creasman. The wings were intact from the Hawkeye outboard (corresponding to the fuel tank location) The empennage was intact from just aft of the observers seat. The nose of the aircraft was intact just forward of the windshield. The crash was straight ahead because the wings and empennage were not displaced. The fuel tanks burst and spilled into the cockpit. The cockpit area was totally destroyed by the fire. Lt. Creasman contacted medivac to recover the remains. Then contacted MACV to secure the area. Medivac would not land until the area was secure. A team headed by Battalion commander, LTC. Detheles and 1st Platoon Leader Cpt. Joe Swift arrived at the crash site in a UH-1. The team was on the ground for several hours with no enemy contact.
June 11 1968: Information on air crash of 51-12008 provided by David George Hasselback LTC INF (ret). I was an Infantry Captain assigned to MACV Advisory Team 42 in a small district called Binh Khe. The District Headquarters was located in a large village called Binh Khe. Highway 19 ran through the middle of the village which was west of Qui Nhon in Binh Dinh Province and east of An Khe pass. The crash site was south of the village of Binh Khe about 20 clicks and in hilly terrain overlooking a valley. No one lived in that area except for wood cutters and "bad guys".
On June 11, 1968 the Vietnamese from the District operations center told us that an American aircraft was in "trouble" and needed help. One of my NCO's, my self and the local Vietnamese Deputy District Chief put together about 20 Regional Force and National Police and took a jeep and a 2 1/2 ton truck and we moved out toward the crash site. We could only go part way by vehicle and had to walk in (and up) the rest of the way. My NCO had the radio and we made contact with a Birddog and UH-1 overhead.
We came upon the crash site which was the only open area (due to the fire) and found both men dead in the aircraft which had burned. The fire was out when we got there and the plane was pretty much ashes (except for the heavy parts such as the engine) and the wings and tail.
At the crash site, since the choppers could not land, a UH-1 hovered over the site and dropped two body bags. My NCO and I lifted them up and put them in the body bags. with the help of the Vietnamese we carried them down the mountain to the vehicles and drove back to the District Headquarters were a MEDIVAC landed and picked them up.
A few days later we (with a larger force of Vietnamese and air cover) went back up to the crash site with two officers from the 203rd who looked over the crash site. There were rockets from the aircraft laying around that my NCO blew up with C-4 on our way out. The officers from the 203rd said it looked like the prop was turning when it hit.
For the past 50 years I did not know the names of the two men we pulled from the plane and carried down the mountain, I only learned their names in August 2015.
July - Aug 1968: Enemy mortar attacks distroyed three Bird Dogs at Phu Hiep 3rd Platoon. One of the Aircraft was a 183rd RAC Bird Dog staying over night at Phu Hiep. All of 3rd Platoons Bird Dogs were damaged during the Aug 1968 attack.
February 11 1969: W0-1 James E. Kirby was Killed in action while flying in support of the 173rd ABN Brigade in Binh Dinh Province. He was flying a mission with a personnel detector kit known as "Snoopy". This required the plane to be flown at tree top level. When the detector registered a high reading officer kirby made another pass over the area his plane then received ground fire and crashed into heavy jungle. His observer managed to escape the aircraft with serious injuries just before it burst into flames . The observer was immediately picked up by a supporting helicopter gun ship.
April 29 1969: While flying a visual recon mission in the Binh Khe area central Binh Dinh Province W0-1 Bradford Wheeler spotted a moderate NVA force along a trail. After realizing they were spotted they attempted to conceal themselves in the bush. W0-1 Wheeler immediatly called for a F-100 tactical airstrike. The results were 30 NVA KIA.
June 1969: The Hawkeyes were assigned a mission of providing air cover for an ARVN convoy in Phu Yen Province from Tuy Hoa to San Hoa district HQ at Cung Son On 7 June 1969. The escort mission was being flown by Cpt. Glenn R. Hechinger. After the convoy had moved 15 miles west of Tuy Hoa along Highway 7B it was ambushed by an estimated two companies of enemy soldiers. Due to the extremely rugged terrain there was confusion as to the exact location of friendly as well as enemy forces. Cpt. Glen R. Hechinger advised the Vietnamese commander of the location and maneuvering of the enemy troops. When the convoy was penetrated and cut off it became essential to fly at low levels to establish identity of the enemy troops. Cpt. Hechinger was accurately adjusting artillery fire on enemy positions when his plane was hit which caused damage to his flight controls and he had to make a forced landing at Cung Son. He was awarded the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry and the Dist. Flying Cross for his actions.
April 1969: The 203rd RAC An Khe 2nd plt. Operation Dan Quyen Hine with sub operations; Wayne Javelin 550 enemy KIA, Operation Gaffey Blue 227 enemy KIA, and Operation Wayne boulder 93 enemy KIA. 2nd plt LZ English Operation Darby Trail 57 enemy KIA.
August 8 1969: 3rd plt Phu Hiep supporting ARVN's in a seven hour fire fight adjusted ROK artillery and marked targets for F-100 tactical airstrikes which resulted in 52 enemy KIA.
Agust 26 1969: During take off at Phu Hiep Company Commander Maj. Daniel R. Bailey crashed in A/C 51-12082 at the end of the runway due to engine failure. the Crew Chief while cleaning the air cleaner set his stuby screw driver in the mouth of the carberator then replacing the air clener with another screw driver leaving the stuby screw driver in the mouth of the carberator. on take off the stuby screw driver was sucked into the throat of the carberator causing engine failure.
October 1969: The 203rd RAC at Phu Hiep had a mortar attack with Soviet 82mm mortar shells. During the attack Cpt. Glen R. Hechinger was flying night perimeter watch. He had just broken ground when the first rounds began to impact on the base camp. Immediately he gained altitude and spotted the tube flash. He alerted the helicopter gunships on standby and dircted them to the tube flash ending the mortar attack.
31 October 1969 (from the observer) Camp Radcliff - Cobra gunships of troop A, 7th SQ, 17th Cav. killed 10 VC flying in support of the 4th Inf. 75th Rangers 15 miles north west of An Khe. After moving from a clearing where they inserted Co K 75th Rangers, Pvt. Jauron heard the crack of an AK47. They Called the 203rd RAC "Hawkeyes" from 2nd Plt. An Khe. Hawkeye Pilot Captain Jack Armstrong of Santa Barbara Ca. was soon on station over head. Captain Armstrong reported that they were near a string of bunkers and huts which were about one mile away. After alerting them of the situation Captain Armstrong called in gun ships which distroid the complex of 3 huts and 12 bunkers killing 10 VC.
Nov 1969: The 203rd RAC at Phu Hiep came under another mortar attack with Soviet 82MM mortars. Officer Jerry W. York was flying night perimeter watch. Immediatly after the first rounds impacted, he directed gun ships to the tube flash that silenced the enemy position.
November 1969: While on a visual recon mission in the Ky Lo Valley northwest Phu Yen Province W0-1 Karl R. Havlicek received ground fire . His plane was hit in the Number one bulkhead By 51 Cal. heavy machine gun rounds and had to make a forced landing at Dong Tre east of Ky Lo Valley. the A/C was repaired at Qui Nhon and returned to service.
Feb 1 1970: Operation "Washington Green" a major operation of the 173rd ABN supported by 2nd Plt. Hawkeyes at LZ English. The objective was to contain the 3rd NVA Div. who had been attempting to disrupt the pacification program in Binh Dinh Provinces northeast sector. By the end of April the statistics for the operation were: 376 KIA, 25 CIA and 168 weapons captured.
February 28 1970: While on visual recon mission west of Van Canh Special Forces camp. LT. Micheal P. McCaleb flying low level crashed into trees and burned. LT. McCaleb was able to get free of the aircraft but his observer LTC. George A. Finter HHD 1st Log CMD. was engulfed in flames and KIA. A Medivac helicopter was directed to the site and picked up the pilot LT. McCaleb and was taken to medical care at 17th Field Hospital An Khe. This information comes from the 1970 unit history.
February 28 1970: Information on Lt. McCaleb's crash. On a visual recon mission west of Qui Nhon, north west of Van Canh Special Forces Camp about half way between An Khe and Qui Nhon they were making seveal low passes in a large valley looking for enemy activity. During one of their runs flying low up a small valley leading out of a larger one Lt. McCaleb shoved his throttle full forward on an upward climb and his engine stopped. They crashed into the trees with their white phosphorus rockets still on the wings. Lt. McCaleb said to the LTC. are you ok! and the LTC said yes. At about that time one or both rockets propellent located under the fuel tank on the right wing went off engulfing the plane in flames. The front wind screen was destroyed and Lt. McCaleb was able to crawl out seriously injured. LTC. Finter was K.I.A.
March 1970: W0-1 Charles L. Liffick while on a recon mission received a call that an ARVN patrol had been ambushed east of Dong Tre. Arriving on the scene W0-1 liffick learned that 9 ARVN's were wounded and one KIA. He called for dust off and gun ships. While the dust off made its pickup the gunships suppressed enemy fire. The results were 4 enemy KIA and numerous blood trails.
April 5 1970: Cpt. Charles O. Ryan on a recon mission in Binh Dinh Province was In search of enemy buildup near the hamlet of Hoa Ngai, Cpt. Ryan spotted a large enemy bunker complex with automatic weapon positions. He dircted in tactical fighters and then a ARVN ground unit inserted. 80 NVA KIA. Cpt. Ryan recieved the Dist. Flying Cross for his actions.
April 1970: During the month of April, Intelligence indicated a genral build up of NVA forces in Binh Dinh Province. On 13 April 1970 An ARVN unit was sent to reinforce another unit already engaged under intense enemy fire. Insertion of reinforcements was impossible. Cpt. Charles O.Ryan arrived at the scene and was unable to locate the enemy positions with complete disregard for his own safety, he made repeated low passes drawing enemy fire. The enemy positions given away he marked them and directed gun ships and called in artillery.
May 2 to may 24 1970: During The Invaion of Cambodia the 203rd RAC supported operations against the 95-B NVA and B-3 front in Cambodia; Operation Wayne Jump, putnam Paragon, Wayne Fast, Wayne hurdle, and Bradies Blue.
May 29 1970: W0-1 Vincent E.Woodward, Cpt John Mayers, Sgt. Adrian Badger, and SP/5 Phillip Jones came to the aid of a RF unit at An Nhon. The unit was under intense enemy fire from a VC viilage. They made repeated low passes to distinguish the friendly troops from the enemy troops. Once they made positive ID of the enemy locations they directed in gun ships. After the gunships they direted an AC-119 Shadow devastating the enemy.
June 27 1970: Cpt. John V. Meyers located an active 12.7mm anti-aircraft site. Cpt Charles O. Ryan arrived on the scene shortly thereafter to assist. They made low passes to mark the enemy positions for the tactical fighters. After the area had been worked over a reaction force was inserted. The results were 12 enemy KIA, One 12.7mm anti-aircraft gun captured and one RPD machine gun captured. Cpt. Ryan and Cpt. meyers both received the Dist. Flying Cross.
July 15 1970: The 203rd RAC went to stand down status. The 219th RAC Headhunters took over the 203rd's 1st and 2nd Platoon's aircraft, personnel and locations . The 203rd Locations at Tuy Hoa North and Phu Hiep were closed. The 203rd RAC was formally inactivated on September 15 1970.
January 3 1971: Cpt. Ferris A. Rhodes Jr. (203rd Hawkeye 1969-1970) 223rd Aviation Battalion, 17th Group, 1st Aviation Brigade missing in action. Cpt. Rhodes was the pilot of a U6 Beaver carrying 6 passengers; Lt. Michael D. Parsons, W01 Thomas R. Okerlund, W01 Dennis W. Omelia, W01 Luis G. Holguin, SP/6 Patrick J. Magee, and SP/5 Carl A. Palen. The Six men lost with Cpt Rhodes were just back from a Thailand R&R they had taken together and they were told they would be catching a U-6 from Qui Nhon to Ton San Nhut A.B. Saigon to pick up two new UH-1C's for their platoon. they took off from Qui Nhon at 0900 HRS. The weather that morning was terrible, rain with very low ceilings 3 to 4 hundred feet. After take off they talked to Phu Cat radar. at 1120 HRS all contact was lost. Their last location was 14 miles south east of Phu Cat which would put them on the coast line, the normal flight path to Saigon. For the next three days their intire company and aircraft from the 129th AHC, 219th Headhunters, and Mohawks from the 225th SAC searched II Corps sector by sector. It was then assumed the aircraft went down at sea. From Qui Nhon to Saigon the flight path would have been flying near or on the coast line. The search Grid Coordinates were 134700N 1090603E that would put them on the coast line south of Qui Nhon. The U-6 was never found all are still M.I.A and now declared dead. Cpt. Rhodes was the 203rd's Maintenance Officer until the 203rd went on stand down July 15 1970
The last Bird Dog flight in Vietnam was on April 29 1975 flown by an A.R.V.N. pilot Bung-Ly. On April 29 1975 during the Fall of Saigon he loaded his wife and five children in the back seat of his 0-1 Bird Dog and flew out to sea to the aircraft carrier USS Midway. With only an hour of fuel left he droped a note asking to clear the runway for he could land. Knowing there was no room the rear Admiral ordered 10 million worth of helicopters be pushed over the side.
Statistics April 12 1967 - Dec 31 1967 (no info)
Statistics Jan 1 1968 - Dec 31 1968 ; total missions flown 20, 632 ; total bunkers destroyed 684 ; total enemy K.I.A credited to the 203rd RAC 867
Statistics Jan 1 1969 - Dec 31 1969 ; total missions flown 19,920 ; total bunkers destroyed 427 ; total enemy K.I.A. credited to the 203rd RAC 553
Statistics Jan 1 1970 - July 15 1970 ; total missions flown 6,917 ; total bunkers destroyed 59 ; total enemy K.I.A. credited to the 203rd RAC 275
Totals Jan 1 1968 - July 15 1970 ; 47,469 missions flown ; 1,170 bunkers destroyed ; 1,512 enemy K.I.A. credited to the 203rd RAC.
There were 469 Bird Dogs lost in the Vietnam war 284 of those were US Army and 20 of those were 203rd RAC Hawkeyes Bird Dogs.