Pacific Stars and Stripes information
for 1 CAV

For date 680507

1 CAV was a US Army unit
Primary service involved, US Army
Thua Thien Province, I Corps, South Vietnam
Location, A Shau Valley
Description: 07May68-A Shau Valley . . . That First Day Was Hell (with map) A SHAU VALLEY, Vietnam (AP) The fire was coming up so heavy it sounded like a steady roar. It was a solid red wall beside me. Capt. Denny Miner of Harrisburg, Pa, tensed as he recalled that initial assault April 19 into this long green valley near the Laotian border. Miner, a helicopter pilot in the 1st Air Cavalry Division was in the first wave that entered the Communist stronghold. American troops had not entered the valley in force for two years. North Vietnamese troops, using Russian made antiaircraft weapons, were in bunkers and ready. Pilots here said 10 choppers were destroyed the first day by the enemy gunners and another 13 were hit so badly they just managed to limp back to base. "That first day was hell." Miner said. "The fire was coming up so heavy it sounded like another engine running alongside. You know, usually the up-coming rounds make a cracking sound, you can hear, but this was a steady roar. I looked out the side window and it was a solid red wall beside me. All those tracers." Miner, red eyed from lack of sleep, paused. "We were so lucky. We didn't take a single hit." Many of his friends were not so lucky. Machine gun fire from the North Vietnamese in bunkers blasted the tail of a ship directly in front of Miner. He had to swerve sharply to miss the rotor blade that spun by him. Across the valley, WO Larry Vought of Marlton, N.J., was flying a recovery ship. He watched helplessly as a stream of red tracer fire slammed into the copter near him. "The copter just came down in a long streak of fire. It exploded in the air and then again on the ground." Another twin bladed chopper heavily loaded with supplies took direct fire through its thin skinned underbelly and plunged to the ground. Vought recalls seeing an explosion and figured the crew was lost. But by some miracle, they were blown free and survived. Other rescue choppers coming in for them were waved off because of heavy fire from North Vietnamese troops. The four crewmen ran up the grassy hillside until they reached a position covered by 1st Cavalry troopers. 1st Lt. Richard E. Barrett of Belle Glade, Fla., went in with his chopper loaded with troops. "Everything was coming up at us. It looked terrible out there. But you get kind of used to it. You accept the inevitability of it. You think, am I getting it this time?" Skytroopers, as the 1st Cavalrymen call themselves, found light ground resistance once they got in position. But the helicopters took a severe beating. Miner said it was the biggest loss of choppers in one day he could recall. Another pilot on the first wave was WO Dale Fillmore of Pendlton, Ore. "It was just a curtain of fire out there I looked ahead of me and there wasn't any place to dodge. You just had to go through it and hope for the best." He made it without a scratch. But another ship in front of him took a bad hit and lurched so suddenly that one trooper was thrown out while the craft was still more than 100 feet up. "The radio kept up a constant stream," Barrett recalled. "of stuff like this: ":I'm hit, going down. There's red smoke, what do they want? There's some yellow. I'm hit, going down." By the second day however, the antiaircraft fire had fallen off sharply as wave after wave of Navy, Air Force and Marine jets pounded the positions and were followed by B52 bombers at night. With the exception of a couple of pockets, the A Shau Valley belonged to the 1st Cavalry after four days.
Comments: CPT Miner, Denny; ; ; WO Vought, Larry; ; ; 1LT Barrett, Richard E.; ; ; WO Fillmore, Dale; ; ;

The source for this information was 6805PSS.AVN supplied by Les Hines

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Date posted on this site: 05/13/2023