Our Stories

1st Squadron / First Cavalry - First Regiment of Dragoons
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Here are a few stories submitted by some of our guys. I hope you enjoy the stories and will submit a story of your own.

"Light my smoke"

While flying as a LOH observer on one of my very early missions with the Scout platoon, I was terrified about flying into Happy Valley. All I heard was how risky the missions were when flying in to scout around. I was flying with Cpt LaFleur, aka "Pepe", and felt considerably at ease with his nonchalant attitude. He seemed to have no fear of being shot at or even worse, being shot Down. Once we reached our objective, it wasn't long before we had our first encounter with the enemy. I sat up front with "Pepe" with my eyes peeled and looking for anything unusual. We finally encountered the enemy and bullets began to fly through the air. As "Pepe" jostled our LOH around to ensure the door gunner would always be in a position to defend our ship, he calmly asked me to light up a cigarette for him. I was shocked! I never smoked before and had no idea how to do this.
After a couple muffed attempts, he finally told me to put the cigarette in his mouth and he calmly leaned over as I flipped the Zippo. Humiliated by the experience of the cigarette, but always amazed by "Pepe's" calmness throughout a stressful situation. I'll never forget.

by: Mike Gustin - October 26, 2006
More stories by Mike

"Tigerland Vietnam"

approx 1970
During one of the many mornings flying the first mission of the day, our lite team headed west from Chu Lai looking for whatever. The sunrise was like makeup on a whore . . . masking the pock marks from countless bombings that scarred what was once beautiful jungle. This was new territory for us. As the Little Bird made his decent to the canopy, a trail was found that looked promising. It led up a canyon that had waterfalls that could only be from the imagination of a great artist. I had never seen anything as striking. I dropped a bit of altitude to see more. Then, on a small finger, in between falls, overlooking the river I noticed we were being watched. It took a minute to register the markings of the big cat. Our eyes met, or it felt like it, and I forgot why we were there. I never saw such a creature for the rest of my time in-country.

by: Mel Walker(Sabre 79) - October 27, 2007
More stories by Mel

"Blues vs NVA"

Late 1970
In late 1970, with a 3 ship Scout team (LOH, slick w/ 6 blues, and Cobra) we were flying north up route 1 toward DaNang. The LOH took small arms fire and was shot down. iirc they crash landed in a stream where some NVA troops were bathing. They landed directly on them, killing at least one. Our slick set down on top of a large nearby hill and inserted our squad of "Blues". Our first objective was to locate the LOH crew and get them (DJ Minor was the pilot iirc) safely aboard a Huey. Once we were out of the Huey and our feet firmly on the ground, we knew this was not good. There was that smell of a ville and yet we couldn't see any people or hooches. We got in a single file and headed to where the LOH went down, when almost immediately, our point man Jerry Noxem opened up with his M60. Turned out, he spotted a bunker with 2 NVA manning an anit-aircraft weapon. Jerry took it out. At the same time our drag guy, Curt Sims out of Corpus Cristie Texas, was shot and killed by an NVA popping out of a spider hole. We pulled into a tight perimeter as an NVA patrol advanced toward us. I got their officer and we tossed a few grenades in their direction before they finally retreated. At that time, a second blues squad was being inserted for additional support. DJ and his gunner could hear the firefight taking place as they quickly worked their way up the hill to our position. Once they reached safety, they were wisked away by the awaiting slick. That in itself was a heck of a story.
Once things calmed down, we policed up, had a body count of 3 NVA KIA, before our 2 squads and 1 prisoner hopped aboard the awaiting slicks. It wasn't until later that evening that we were informed that my squad was inserted directly on top of a bunker complex with a battalion of NVA troops directly beneath us. Needless to say, we were lucky that any of us were able to get out of there alive.

by: Tom Hilton - October 27, 2007

"Enemy Encounter"

Mar 15, 1971
Army Reporter information for D/1/1 CAV For date 710315
D/1/1 CAV was a US Army unit - Primary service involved, US Army South Vietnam Location, Chu Lai
Description: 15Mar71 LOHs blast 13 CHU LAI - Elements of D Troop, 1st Squadron, 1st Cav., trapped and destroyed a 15-man element five miles south of here during a daylight operation. (This might be action of January 21st 1971. ORLL indicates 13 KIA and 2 captured by D/1/1st Cav on this day).
An aerial observer working with the 1st Bn., 6th Inf., spotted three sampans loaded with Communist troops moving north along the Tra Bong River and called for support. The enemy immediately took evasive action, beaching their boats on an island and attempting to hide in the thick underbrush growing in the two feet of water that covered the island. Diverted from another mission, the 123rd Aviation Bn.'s Sabre flight (combined air-ground force) moved into the area. LOH pilots Capt. Sidney Austin and WO Doyle U. Miner spotted 15 enemy soldiers occupying the island, confirming the aerial observer's report.
Receiving instructions from flight leader Lt. Ralph V. Cain, members of the troop's aero-rifle platoon (Blues) were inserted on the opposite shore, 50 yards away. The enemy failed to respond to repeated attempts by the LOHs to force their surrender and when then subjected to a CS (tear gas) attack in hopes that they would give up.
Failing to receive any response, the Sabres requested permission to open fire and were cleared immediately by the district chief. The LOHs, supported by Cobra gunships, blasted the island. A team of volunteers, led by Lt. Arthur L. Galloway and including Staff Sgt. Wheeler Brooks, Sgt. Kevin O'Brien and Pfc Michael Tyson, was inserted by UH1H (Huey) pilot John M. Allen on the submerged island. Sweeping the area, the team detained two suspects. Thirteen enemy dead were accounted for an credited to the LOHs. Continuing the sweep, the Blues recovered eight AK47s and one 9mm plus 20 Chinese Communist grenades. Ammunition and 25 packs containing uniforms were also discovered by the 23rd Infantry Division troops.

Comments: CPT Austin, Sidney; pilot; WO Miner, Doyle U.; pilot
The source for this information was 7103AR.AVN supplied by Les Hines - November 11, 2007

"Help from the Ladies"

Mar 15, 1971
The date was March 15, 1971. I was getting ready to fly to Cam Rahn Bay the next day to fly home. Dave Jackson (another LOH gunner) and I decided we were going to sneak downtown Anton and visit some ladies. We snuck down about just before midnight I think. I had a Car-15 with ammo and Dave Jackson had a .38. As we entered the ville, about 13 or 14 Vietnamese approached us. They were not ARVN, PF's/RF's. By the way they acted, we could tell they were not friendlies. They ordered us at gunpoint to sit down in front of a hootch. One of them had his rifle trained on us as the others spoke quickly and with some excitement in their voices. As the conversations between these men continued, the one who had his rifle trained on us kept looking at his buddies. I felt this was not a situation that was going to turn out good for us and we were to leave the next day. I whispered to Dave that when I start shooting, take off running, don't look back and don't wait for me. It was quite apparent that this situation was not good and we had to do something about it. As I began to get rid of some fear I had, one of the hookers whispered for Dave and me to follow her. Seemed right to me. She sneaked us out back to another set of hootches and hid us in some sort of bunker. There were no shouts or firing going on, so, this might turn out okay for us. The next morning as we left the ville, we went to the main gate and were approached by the MP's who questioned where we came from. It was apparent to them, that we were trying to sneak back in and we were held and driven to the PMO for being in an off limits area. The MP's called our 1st Sgt. who came to pick us up. He was pissed. He took us to the C.O. and we were offered Article 15's. If we wanted to fight it, we wouldnt have time to make our flight, so we accepted. It was more like a slap on the wrist. Maybe $150.00 fine a month for only 1 month. We accepted, went back to the flight line and got all our gear ready for going home.
I find it a little crazy that we had been helped by a couple of hookers from Anton. We said our goodbyes to the rest of the guys in the Scout hootch and made our way to our plane ride home.

by: Bill Tucker - November 26, 2007
More stories by Bill

"In the beginning"

Aug 1967
In August of 1967, fresh out of flight school, I arrived at Fort Hood, Texas, assigned to Headquarters Company 1st Armored Division. Little did I know that I was only in a holding pattern and would soon be re-assigned to a new unit, an Air Cavalry Troop. Each month new pilots and other personnel and equipment arrived and "Delta Troop" was reborn.
For the next 10 months D Troop underwent daily training and in July 1968 received orders for RVN. I was one of five members of the advanced party that arrived at Cam Rhan Bay in early July. From there we made our way to Phu Bai and then to Camp Eagle. Our job was to prepare for the arrival of the main unit scheduled in approximately 3 weeks. Needless to say, we were never at a loss for something to do but did manage to fly some with the "Kingsmen" of B Co. 101st Aviation as a way to learn the A.O.
In late July the balance of D Troop arrived and soon became operational. The rest is History.

by: Gary Richards - January 08, 2008

"20k South of DaNang"

Dec 04, 1971
My name is Harvey Schwab and I was the Blues Platoon Leader that replaced John Kettlewell in D-Troop. I was later replaced by a non rated Lt named Wally Shroeder and returned to flying Slicks. We lost one of the Blues about 20 clicks south of Da Nang during a hot insertion surrounding a railroad trestle. During this time the firefight was rather intense. The VC were on top of a railroad and inside a tunnel. They were throwing grenades at the Blues as they attempted to climb to the high ground. It was reported by Wally Schroeder that the Blue platoon Sgt was slapping the grenades away with his hands. The blue that was killed that day was SP4 Dennis Ray Stewart. He demonstrated bravery beyond the call, attempting to get to the high ground and silence the enemy above. He was shot after he crested the top of the hill. The fighting was rather intense because I remember the gunships were flying so low to lay out suppressing fire, that some of the rockets did not have time to arm and were shot in the mud without exploding. One of the gunships was flown by "Quick Draw" (Harold McGarrh) with Lt. Larry Sloan in the front seat. Larry's turret did not work so he took pictures of the entire firefight. We extracted the Blues during intense fire and at that time we were unable to get to Stewart. An Air Force air strike of 500 pound bombs was ordered on the position. After the air strike and a BDA by the little bird, a Slick flew in and picked up our fallen comrade, SP4 Stewart. I believe I still remember the color of the smoke that marked Stewarts' position, it was yellow. Hopefully, I have his name correct, it has been a very long time. - wall location 02W-084

by: Harvey Schwab - January 30, 2008

"The Whites of their Eyes"

January 1972
My induction into the Scouts. ...The sun was barely in the horizon when take off was at 0500. The beauty of the country side was so remarkable that I lost the awareness of being in a war zone. When the free fire zone was announced, caution, fear, excitement and other unknown feelings, was the realty. Flying through a river bank, we spotted human foot prints leading us onto the entrance of a cave. Within a few minutes, the gunner and I started throwing grenades into the cave; left the area without any incident. By early morning I spotted an enemy hootch with the campfire still burning. We flew in for a closer look, started searching the area and began destroying. We started taking small fire; I felt the loach move each time a bullet struck. While the fire fight was going on my grease gun jammed, Mr. Bloyer's turned towards me and gave me his M15. Low in fuel and ammo, we headed for a fire base; as we landed Freeman helped me unjammed my grease gun. At the fire base I spoke to some of the Blues that had taked pictures of the fire fight. Now, I know that my hair was black before the fight, but I'm sure that it turned white at that moment; and those pictures will prove it, if I ever will see them. As we approached the hot zone, I could see the F4s and other aircraft that were engaged in the battle. They were using their arsenal, destroying a vast amount of the vegetation and the surrounding area. By late afternoon it was our turn to go back into the area and assess the damage (first one in and last one out). From this point on all I remember is how loud I was cussing going back into that hot zone and remembering what the company commander had told me "do you want to see the white of their eyes?" Inducted January 72.

by: Sp4 Rivas - August 16, 2009

"Not too much trouble"

December 1970
After a day of flying missions, I went with Dave Jackson, Tom Hayzlett, Duane Sather and I think Hoffman. We went drinking at the EM club and unfortunately stayed too late to catch our ride back to the flight line. Since I was an ex MP, I went over to the PMO and asked the desk Sgt if I could borrow his set of bolt cutters, since I had a jeep but lost my key. He handed me the bolt cutters and we went out and cut off the lock to one of his MP jeeps and we stole it. It was too long of a walk back to the flight line so who would have told us not to. We were caught by the MP's and had to have the 1st Sgt come and retrieve us at the Provost Marshall's office. I don't think we received any article 15's but Tom Hayzlett told me later, when first contacted him and asked if he remembered me. His answer was, how can I forget the guy who almost got me sent to LBJ. Sorry about that. Anyway, lesson learned. Not a war story, just a good memory.

by: Bill Tucker - December 12, 2011

"Miraculous Landing"

May 1969
My name is John Conroy. I was witness to Captain John Michael Henry's miraculous landing of his AH1G Cobra on the strip at Tam Ky Airport after he and his ship were shot up by .51's, which killed the pilot, Captain Huber. My company A 1/501 Infantry, 101st Airborne was pulling security at the end of the runway when this incident occurred. I brought this subject up on our website, LZSally.com, and one of the other guys did the research to bring up the incident #AH1G67-15686, and the story, courtesy of the VHPA. Anyway, if (then) Captain Huber, late of D-1-1 Cav, wants an independent account of his actions that day I will be glad to provide it to him. He passed out immediately after landing, and we all thought he was KIA for all these years. My comrades and I were the first to reach his (controlled "running landing") landed aircraft.

by: John Conroy 1/501 Infantry - December 29, 2011

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