unit history information
for 3/5 CAV
D/3/5 CAV

For date 680115


3/5 CAV was a US Army unit
D/3/5 CAV was a US Army unit
Primary service involved, US Army
Long Khanh Province, III Corps, South Vietnam
Location, Blackhorse
Description: The lead ACAV burst into flames as two platoons patrolled south of Blackhorse about ten miles into the jungle. MAJ Mahler, the squadron XO, conjectures that it had been hit by a two-man rocket team because there was no ambush. The cavalry moved off even as the fuel continued to burn and the internal ammo exploded. Even the wreck of a vehicle was too valuable to be left to the enemy because it provided an endless source of metal and wire for making booby traps and mines. Due to other operational commitments, several days passed before the recovery was made and D/3/5 Cav aerial scout teams routinely monitored the wreck. The recover operation consisted of most of D Troop’s assets, a flatbed truck, two tank retrievers, a portable bridge, and a cavalry platoon for security with MAJ Mahler flying in a LOH as a C&C. To fend off the possibility of mines and booby traps at the only possible stream-crossing site and around the wreck, D Troop’s ARP was inserted about 1,000 yards back from the stream on the trace (one of the tracks used by the ground cavalry to get through the jungle in this area). Supported by their scouts and gunships, the ARP worked their way down the trace to the stream and made sure the approaches and crossing site were not mined. Then they cleared the space between the stream and the wreck before spreading out into the jungle for security. To protect the march of the ground cavalry, a scout team flew ahead and they used marching artillery fire along the flanks. They used mine-sweeping equipment once they started down the trace. The ARP saw and fired at two figures in the jungle but otherwise their movement was routine. The lead tank arrived at the wreck just as the ARP was ready to help establish security. The portable bridge was set and the cavalry platoon deployed for security. The maintenance teams positioned their tank retrievers and rigged the huge A-frame booms for lifting. The wreck was lifted and moved so the flatbed could be positioned underneath. The wreck was secured and the tank retriever helped wench the tractor over the soft spots back onto the trace. The area where the wreck had been now served as the PZ for the ARP. By 1600H the column closed at Blackhorse. In his closing remarks, MAJ Mahler states that they had completed a routine mission in a routine manner without any loss of equipment or personnel. In one sense the operation was a microcosm of our overall efforts in Vietnam, where every small success was the result of detailed planning and a generous expenditure of time, effort, and equipment. Our losses were always in inverse proportion to that expenditure.

The source for this information was Ringed in Steel by Mahler :90-95


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Last updated 11/05/1999

Date posted on this site: 05/16/2021