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Summary of Events-Calendar Year 1972
With the standdown of the battalion headquarters, HHC and Company A in late December of last year the remainder of the battalion realized that complete redeployment to Fort Campbell with the 101st Airborne Division (Ambl) was imminent. The Adjutant and the Property Book Officer had remained behind to finalize the administrative requirements, property turn-in, personnel re-assignments and to escort the battalion colors, files and property books back to the unit’s new home. For the short period in between, Company B and Company C were attached to the 159 Aviation Battalion and Company D was attached to the 2nd Squadron, 17th Calvalry to continue support of the division until final redeployment. Sooner than expected, the standdown process for the three remaining companies began 19 January and culminated on 2 February when the 101st Aviation Battalion was officially relieved from assignment to US Army Vietnam and reassigned to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, on Letter Order 2-2, Hqs 101st Airborne Division (Ambl), dated 2 February 1972.
NEW HOME FOR THE BATTALION
Standdown complete, a detachment of 86 personnel under the command of CPT William B. Leonard departed DaNang, RVN for McChord AFB, Washington, on 5 Feb 72. While most personnel took a 30 day leave, the colors and property books were delivered to Fort Campbell for safe keeping until the battalion could again open its Morning Report and begin the reorganization process. On 15 March the battalion once again began what was to prove a challenging and eventful period of reorganization, build-up, and training. Although the road ahead and the tasks to be accomplished appeared never-ending, the personnel of this “new battalion” were anxious to get started and achieve a posture whereby aviation support for the only airmobile division in the Army could again begin the daily mission. The Morning report was reopened and a basic organization was quickly established with all functions being performed at battalion level, primarily due to lack of personnel and space. The biggest initial tasks to be accomplished were the inventory and processing of equipment that began arriving from RVN, and the cleaning and preparation of the buildings assigned to the battalion from the departed basic training command.
On 3 April the units of the 101st Aviation Group welcomed a new commander, Colonel Edward P. Lukert, who arrived just prior to the division’s first major occassion at Fort Campbell: HOMECOMING. The gala event on 6 April was a memorable tribute to the outstanding accomplishments of the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam and an indication of things to come as the division began its “Unit of Choice” recruiting program under its new commander, MG J.M. Cushman. The division was on its way, and so was the battalion. Designated as the first aviation unit in the group to become operational, the battalion was given the mission to have one assault helicopter company an one aerial weapons platoon fully operational by 1 August. During this same time, the first UH-1H’s and AH-1G’s were assigned: finally, something for maintenance to do and our aviators to fly!
By early May the battalion had occupies all its administrative buildings and barracks and had some extremely limited space in the only available hangar at Campbell Army Airfield. It was obvious that the maintenance facilities would be quickly outgrown as more and more aircraft arrived and the new heliport not scheduled for completion until late 1973. But the task was still ahead and all personnel worked long and hard in the face of some tremendous obstacles to prepare for the influx of aircraft, equipment, and new personnel. The five companies were established acting commanders, opened their own Morning Reports and “detached” from the protective arm of the battalion to begin their own preparations for the unit training cycle ahead. Individual training began on a limited basis and overall, noticeable progress was seen even though personnel and equipment input was slower that had originally be anticipated . Company C was designated the first assault company to become operational and received top priority on personnel and equipment fill. Since the battalion would be organized under MTOE 01-155TCA05 for possibly one year, the aerial weapons company was redesignated Company A instead of Company D as it had been for four years in Vietnam.
CHANGE OF COMMAND
A bright sunny day on 6 June brought the battalion out to welcome its new commander, LTC William R. Lenderman from the faculty of the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Under his direction and guidance changes in key positions were effected to allow stabilization throughout the battalion as it prepared for the upcoming unit training cycle. Training plans and objectives were established to integrate HHC, the “Black Widows” of Company C, the “Commancheros” of Company D, and the “Hawks” of Company A into the divisions phased brigade slice training readiness plan. Personnel assignments and equipment input increased rapidly throughout the summer months. Things began looking up and dates to begin training were established. HHC and Company C were set to begin 1 August; Company D on 1 September; Company A on 1 October. It was obvious that the troops more than welcomed the long-awaited shift of emphasis from administrative/house cleaning requirements to mission-oriented activities.
A side light to the normal unit training program was the formation of the standard instrument school to meet the Department of the Army requirement that every aviator have a standard instrument rating by 31 December. Instructor pilots were trained and the first 12 students (out of 62 without standard ratings) began the six-week ground/flight phase in early August.
With many of the individual/ general knowledge training subjects completed during the summer months, the unit training cycle began on time and the fall months were devoted primarily to this extremely important endeavor. The battalion was preparing to perform its mission. Almost 50% of the assigned aviators had little or no flying experience since flight school, and subjects such as formation flying, airmobile assaults, PZ/LZ operations and other tactical requirements were a new “ball game”. Commanders and staff were able to take innovative approaches in the training programs in order to orient the tactical concepts taught away from those use in Vietnam to a mid-intensity warfare environment. The battalion had to prepare for a great variety of possible missions in extremely different environments. During the first few weeks of the training program a major problem area became readily evident; i.e. lack of a direct support maintenance capability at company level. The organization document (MTOE 01-155TCA05) had been approved by general order on 1 July without the KD detachments that provided this capability. To the relief of all, the 332nd, 333rd,, 388th, and 499th KD Detachments were attached to the four line companies in October, giving hem initially at least the authority to perform direct support maintenance functions. Personnel to fill the spaces were assigned on a gradual basis.
ARMY TRAINING TEST (ATT)
Throughout the training cycle, a great deal of training was integrated with the various units of the “3d Brigade Slice”, to include the important requirement for out aviators to impart instruction to the infantry units on airmobile operations. Small unit (up to company) airmobile assaults and re-supply missions were performed on almost a daily basis-an excellent opportunity to indoctrinate many brand new troops just out of basic training. On 30 October the battalion had its first chance to “put it all together”. At 0630 hours, an armada of 25 UN-1H lift ships and two light fire teams of AH-1G’s combat assaulted the 1st Battalion 503rd Infantry to a distant LZ on the reservation in the first battalion size airmobile operation to conducted at Fort Campbell since the division’s return from Vietnam. Operations of this nature greatly aided in the learning experience of all personnel involved and served to mold the companies into cohesive units that relied on teamwork to accomplish the mission.
Periodic breaks were taken in the training schedule to allow the units a chance to demonstrate their progress and abilities to visitors and guests of the division. On 17 November, the battalion conducted a 30 ship fly-by with all companies participating in honor of the 11th Airborne Division Retirement Ceremony. Immediately following the ceremony a simulated combat assault on Campbell Army Airfield was conducted for the benefit of the many visitors and honored guests present for the ceremony. The entire demonstration was extremely impressive to all, especially the close air support rendered by the Hawks of Company A.
Shortly thereafter, a training milestone was achieved within the battalion. During the week of 11 December the Black Widows culminated a 16 week training schedule and were administered an Army Training Test to determine the effectiveness of the training and their operationally ready status. After a careful and detailed evaluation, the unit was declared operationally ready for training. Close behind Company C were Company D and Company A, scheduled for their ATT’s in early January. The battalion was close to completion of its initial mission to provide aviation support for the 3rd Brigade FTX at Ft. Campbell -Quick Eagle I.
December found the battalion’s aircraft located at Diamond Heliport – a home it could call its own until the new heliport facility is completed. The accomplishments and progress throughout the battalion since March were astounding to those who had been here throughout, even though a great deal remains to be accomplished. Preparations for the next events to come in January well underway, all personnel looked forward to the upcoming Christmas Holidays, leaves, parties, and formal social events marked this holiday season – a welcome break before starting in again. The forecast for 1973 looked to be one of change, growth and even more rapid progress as the division continues to approach an operationally ready status-and the battalion right along with it. Wings of the Eagle!
COMPANY D 101ST AVIATION BATTALION 101ST AIRBORNE DIVISION
The preceding pages have been retyped from copies of the actual Annual Supplement to the History of the 101st AVN BN and I have been very careful in my typing to reproduce them as exactly like the original as I can make them in this age of computerized word processing programs. At a future time I hope to be able to post a scanned version of the documents. I have tried to be very meticulous in my typing, and I encourage you to email me with any questions concerning the historical supplements of the 101st AVN BN. The email address is email@example.com or you may leave your comments in the guest book on this site at d101hawks.com.
The copies that I have were obtained from the U.S. Government and National Archives about 16 years ago when I first had a idea about a history for the Hawks of D Company of the 101 AVN BN of the 101 ABN DIV. The documents that I obtained cover 1968, 1969, 1970, and 1972 the Annual Supplement for 1971 could not be located. I have yet to find a written history of the Hawks, some information can be gathered from the Battalion history, but it still remains a history of the battalion. It is my hope that a history will now be written about the Hawks by the Hawks themselves, it is to that end that I started the website for the Hawks several years ago. The website idea started from a few simple emails to and from JP Conway of vhpamuseum.org and then made possible by the very hard work of Webmaster Donna Delor of bearmarketgifts.com and wife of Dan Delor of the Blue Ghosts and two very brave Hawks pilots, Hawk 13 and Hawk 21 and I say brave for two reasons. The first being that they are truly brave men for flying all those years for the Army, the second being that they were brave enough and very gracious in allowing their photos to be the first ones posted on the website.
Ray Pitts, D101Hawks.com.