Army Reporter information
for 101 ABN DIV
101 AHB 101 ABN

From date 681022 to 681028

101 ABN DIV was a US Army unit
101 AHB 101 ABN was a US Army unit
Primary service involved, US Army
Thua Thien Province, I Corps, South Vietnam
Location, Phu Bai
Description: The following is an edited version of an article titled "Smokey prevents fire from overcoming GIs" dated 11 Nov 1968. Like his furry faced namesake in Yellowstone Park, the 101st Abn Div's "Smokey" devotes his life to preventing fire. There is a difference though. In the rice paddies, jungles and mountains surrounding Hue, "fire" means AK-47s, .50 caliber Chicom machine guns, and 81mm mortars forged in Hanoi. A few seconds before a division combat assault, if wind conditions permit, a UH-1 helicopter nicknamed "Smokey" swoops in along the LZ at grasstop level. Using a special oil pump attached to the chopper's superheated exhaust, "Smokey" lays down a solid wall of white smoke between the LZ and likely enemy gun positions. Before the smokescreen has a chance to disperse, half a dozen troop-carrying Huey "slicks" deposit enough paratroopers to secure the LZ for the main landing force. There is no way to gauge the number of Screaming Eagle lives "Smokey" has saved, but many soldiers have said they feel much safer on CAs, when the smoke-billowing bird leads the way. The handful of pilots and crewmen who fly the "Smokey" missions for the 101st AHB have become aviation's equivalent to the infantry pointman. "If it turns out to be a hot LZ, we're the first to know about it," says CWO Charles W. Patison. To lay the best possible smokescreen "Smokey" pilots must fly slower than usual and as low as possible. "Other pilots worry about anti-aircraft fire," Patison says,. "We have that problem too, but we also watch out for rocket propelled grenades and water buffalo. "Smokey is lightly armed, but by no means helpless. As Patison drops the chopper down to start the smoke run, he gives the word for his doorgunners to begin "suppressive fire." Swivelling their turret-mounted machine guns, SP4 James W. Schilpp and PFC Ronald C. Ellsworth spray bushes, hedgerows and creek banks to discourage snipers. In the co-pilot's seat, ready to take over in an emergency, WO Ronald A. Carl searches the area ahead to spot targets for the gunners. "Usually we don't get shot at," Patison said. "I think maybe the noise, the wind, the smoke and all those M60 tracers flying around shake "Charlie" up a bit. Photo Caption - UH-1 HELICOPTER lays down a smokescreen providing cover for a CA by the C/2/506th Abn, 101st Abn Div. The helicopters fly slower than usual to lay a good smoke screen, making a good target for the enemy.
Comments: CWO Patison, Charles W.; 101 AHB AC; ; WO Carl, Ronald A.; 101 AHB pilot; ; SP4 Schilpp, James W.; 101 AHB CE; ; PFC Ellsworth, Ronald C.; 101 AHB G; ;

The source for this information was 6811AR.AVN supplied by Les Hines

Additional information is available on CD-ROM.

Please send additions or corrections to: Gary Roush Email address:

Return to panel index

Return to Helicopter Pilot KIA index

Return to VHPA Home Page

Copyright © 1998 - 2023 Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association

Date posted on this site: 05/13/2023