Battle of Soui Tre information
for 145 CAB
68 AHC
118 AHC
334 AWC

For date 670319


145 CAB was a US Army unit
68 AHC was a US Army unit
118 AHC was a US Army unit
334 AWC was a US Army unit
Primary service involved, US Army
South Vietnam
Description: On 19 March 1967, the 145th Combat Aviation Battalion distinguished itself by exceptionally valorous actions in the prelude of what was to become known as the battle of Soui Tre- the most significant one/day battle to date in the III Corps Tactical Area. The 145th Combat Aviation Battalion was operating in direct support of 3rd Brigade, 4th infantry Division, with the mission to conduct a combat assault into a landing zone located approximately five miles north of Suoi Da, Republic of Vietnam. The initial operational plans were made for the assault to take place on 18 March 1967, several miles further north of the actual landing zone: however obstacles prevented the 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry (Mech) and the 22nd Battalion, 34th Armor from securing the landing zone as planned. On the evening of 17 March, the assault was rescheduled for 19 March with the landing zone changed to the new location. The armored and mechanized elements were unable to meet this new schedule. It was then decided that the assault would be conducted into an unsecured landing zone with the armored and mechanized elements scheduled to reinforce the infantry at a later time. The hazards of this unsecured landing zone were known to be many as there were relatively few clearings in the dense jungle which were adequate for airmoble operations. Past experience indicated that when there were few clearings in the area, the Viet Cong either mine or establish ambushes on or near the potential landing zones. Professionalism and esprit de corps prevailed as the aviators of the 68th and 118th Assault Helicopter Companies eagerly awaited the termination of the twenty minute artillery preparation which would mark the beginning of the first lift. The assault was under the control of the Commanding Officer, 145th Combat Aviation Battalion. The lift units were supported by gunships of both assault helicopter companies and those of the 334th Armed Helicopter Company. The first lift encountered little resistance upon entering the landing zone, but received automatic weapons fire upon departure. At the moment the aircraft of the second lift touched down, a command detonated 155mm artillery round was exploded. Two helicopters were completely destroyed and five others seriously damaged from shrapnel. More mines were detonated and the landing zone became a holocaust of fire and flying steel. The Viet Cong were in well established bunkers and had numeric superiority- it was later learned that major portions of two Viet Cong regiments were engaged in the battle. Heroism became the norm rather then the exception. Realizing the necessity for reinforcing the ground units already in the landing zone, the decision was made to land additional troops into a landing zone immediately adjacent to the initial landing zone. The 118th Assault Helicopter Company "Thunderbirds" and the 68th Assault Helicopter Company "Top Tigers" wasted no time getting another load of troops aboard and into the air. The tremendous urgency of the situation was realized by all. The lift approached through sporadic ground fire which culminated in the detonation of another mine which damaged the lead aircraft. The next element approached through a withering hail of automatic weapons fire and was met with another mine upon landing. Initially suppressive fire from escort gunships was impossible due to friendly elements scattered throughout the area. Showing the utmost in determination and a remarkable tactical grasp of the situation the armed helicopters located the enemy emplacements and supported the troop carrying aircraft by delivering accurate and deadly fire on the enemy. The armed helicopters were only able to accomplish the needed accuracy by flying directly into the barrage of fire. Their actions were instrumental in preventing the loss of additional lives and aircraft. Under the calm, inspirational leadership of the battalion commander, the companies preformed in a manner that was in the highest traditions of Army Aviation. The courageous air crews flew eight lifts into the landing zone after the initial holocaust with individual acts of heroism being numerous as indicated by five individuals being awarded the Silver Star, 19 the Distinguished Flying Cross, 14 the Bronze Star for valor and 96 the Air Medal for valor. Four enlisted crew members of the first helicopter downed in the landing zone immediately began stripping the helicopters of radios, weapons, and other valuable equipment. Realizing that the landing zone was in imminent danger of being engulfed in flames, they secured fire extinguishers and flack vests to fight the blaze. Failing the thwart the fire, they ran through the inferno looking for the wounded. As the blaze advanced, it set off hand grenades that had been dropped during the confusion of the initial mine explosions. These men began giving medical aid to wounded infantry soldiers and loading them onto helicopters which came back on successive lifts. They voluntarily remained in the landing zone under heavy fire throughout the morning and afternoon. Another enlisted crew member braved the exploding mines and rescued his critically injured pilot and mortally wounded door gunner from their burning helicopter. Then he carried the pilot under intense automatic weapon fire to an evacuation helicopter across the landing zone. He returned and removed the radios and weapons from the helicopter prior to returning to the evacuation helicopter where he preformed life saving first aid to the wounded. A warrant officer's aircraft received extensive damage during the initial blast; however he determined that the urgency of the situation warranted the helicopter being flown and he made three successive lifts in his damaged ship to deliver additional reinforcements to the beleaguered ground troops. These are only but a few examples of the many acts of bravery which occurred during this action. There were cases of downed aviators taking machineguns and providing suppressive fire in the landing zone for successive lifts instead of being immediately evacuated. In several instances, aircraft which were severely damaged were flown out of the landing zone to more secure areas so that they could be air lifted without incurring additional damage.

The following is from Glen Wright:
2 of 77th Arty had only 17 guns at LZ Gold during the battle. C battery had damaged one of its 105 mm towed howitzers by tipping it over in a ditch at the staging area. This accident broke the gunners site mount. During the battle 11 more guns were disabled. All three batteries were 105 towed and were airlifted by helicopters. No 155 SPs were at LZ Gold. We were rescued by 22nd mechanized infantry and tanks from I believe the 11th Armored Calvary. I may well be wrong about whose tanks arrived with the APCs.

From: Glen Wright

The source for this information was From Brian Wizard's 145th Combat Aviation Battalion website via Ron Leonard


Additional information is available on CD-ROM.

Please send additions or corrections to: Gary Roush Email address: webmaster@vhpa.org


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Date posted on this site: 05/16/2021