Army Reporter information
for 71 AHC
196 LIB
1 MAR DIV

For date 680914


71 AHC was a US Army unit
196 LIB was a US Army unit
1 MAR DIV was a US Marine Corps unit
Primary service involved, US Army
Quang Tin Province, I Corps, South Vietnam
Location, LZ BALDY
Description: The following is an edited version of an article titled "Joint Army, AF, Marine effort saves recon patrol" dated 14 Sep 1968. Army, Air Force, and Marine units teamed up with a heroic helicopter pilot to save a marine recon patrol surrounded by NVA troops, 20 miles west of Tam Ky. When the eight-man LRRP from the 1st Recon, 1st Marine Div became surrounded by an estimated 50 NVA soldiers, the called for support from LZ Baldy, basecamp of the 196th LIB. To aid the LRRP, the soldiers dispatched a 71st AHC gunship light fire team. A spooky aircraft was also dispatched by the Air Force to provide additional fire support. "Arriving at the LRRP location we had a difficult time coordinating between us and Spooky due to poor radio communications and the LRRPs lack of familiarity with gunship support," said WO James Collins. "We initiated a target strike when we only had ten minutes left in the target area. The Recon Patrol was in close and intense contact with the superior-size NVA force, and requested to be extracted. WO Leon Schoenborn volunteered to attempt the rescue. "While waiting for a reply to Schoenborn's offer, the gunships and flare ship returned to the 196th basecamp to re-arm, refuel and replenish flares. "We kept the time on the ground to a bare minimum," said Mr. Collins. "We returned to station to find the situation rapidly deteriorating and the authorization for extraction granted by the Marines," he added. The "gunships" continued close support of the LRRP, pouring heavy suppressive fire on all enemy muzzle flashes they spotted. "After two cold passes over the LZ, we informed Mr. Schoenborn of the severe obstacles in and around the area, but he said he wanted to give it a try," continued Collins. Spooky took over illumination as the three Army choppers set up for the pickup. The two gunships escorted the slick into the hot LZ and maintained continuous fire all around it. As Mr. Schoenborn's ship set down about five NVA automatic weapons opened up from all sides of the small perimeter. "I told Schoenborn to abort the attempted pickup, but he elected to stay and try," said Collins. Loading was difficult as hostile fire grew more intense. Because of the delay in boarding, Schoenborn's aircraft was forced to leave with only three of the LRRP aboard. Collins and his wingmen expended the remainder of their ammunition covering the departure of the rescue ship. Spooky took over the job when the choppers had to return to Baldy for fuel. Again, they rearmed and refueled as fast as possible and after a quick meeting to determine the method for the second rescue they were once again in the air. Once more they returned to the area of contact. This time the LRRP reported the enemy movement had shifted to higher ground. The gunships changed their plan and attacked the enemy position under flare illumination. When the Marines reported the enemy closing in on them from all sides, Schoenborn decided to go in after them. "We set up and started inbound with all our guns firing," continued Collins. "The rescue ship quickly landed, picked up the Marines and climbed to a safe altitude while the gunships expended their firepower on the enemy positions. Mr. Schoenborn and his crew, with close Army, Air Force and Marine cooperation, successfully rescued the trapped Recon Patrol and brought back valuable information on enemy activities in the area of contact.
Comments: WO Collins, James; 71 AHC pilot; ; WO Schoenborn, Leon; 71 AHC pilot; ;

The source for this information was 6809AR.AVN supplied by Les Hines


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Date posted on this site: 05/16/2021