Army Reporter information
for C/2/20 ARA 1 CAV

For date 690106

C/2/20 ARA 1 CAV was a US Army unit
Primary service involved, US Army
South Vietnam
Location, Quan Loi
Description: The following is an edited version of an article titled "Cavalry to the rescue NVA outgunned by rocketeers" dated 6 Jan 1969. Diving from the sky with rockets striking and mini-guns blazing, the aerial rocket artillery ships of the 1st Air Cav. Division are a welcome sight to the riflemen. Whether "prepping" assault areas, searching for enemy rocket sites, or supporting the infantry units in contact, the "Blue Max" pilots are constantly called on to deliver. Sometimes they must place fire as close as 20 meters from friendly positions. "It's a thrilling experience piloting one of these birds, "said WO Stephen J. Shaw, an aircraft commander with C/2/20th Arty. "When I have a mission I feel excitement and anticipating about what I am to face and whether our fire will be on target." "Usually two ships go together on a mission," he continued, "with one maneuvering to hit the target, while the other overs for him. We have had as many as eight ships on a mission, though." With a team of two ships always on two-minute alert, fire support is only minutes away from any location in the division's operations area. Loaded with 76 rockets and 4,000 rounds for its mini-guns, the Huey Cobra can make instant believers of any who dare to challenge its authority. "Once we receive information on an enemy force, we try to formulate a picture of where our forces and enemy troops are located," explained Shaw. "Then we launch our attack from such a direction that long or short rockets will not be a hazard to our own men. "The most interesting mission is to fire for the Long Range Patrols," said CPT Franklin T. Thornhill a platoon leader with Battery C. "They can't give away their position and they have to signal us by mirror. After that we have to keep them in sight so we don't lose them. We all have to put a little more for this type of mission." Problems do creep into the operations, however. Low hanging clouds, such as those that harassed the A Shau Valley operation,m make maneuvering and locating enemy targets difficult. "Night missions are also hairy," reported Shaw. "Trying to spot from two thousand feet, a flashlight marking friendly positions, isn't easy." "We were called once to provide night support for a friendly force that was pinned down by the North Vietnamese, less than one hundred meters away," continued Thornhill. Directed by the light of heat tablets, the pilots fired 470 rockets with such accuracy that the enemy force was sent staggering, and the Skytroopers escaped without a single casualty. "We've never refused to take a mission, nor have we ever pulled out when the going got rough," added Shaw. "When the riflemen are out of reach of artillery, we're all they have. We'll do anything to help them out." "The most satisfying part of a mission to me," he continued, "is when you've gone in and hit the target, and the riflemen call up and say "Roger Blue Max you've hit right where we wanted it!""
Comments: CPT Thornhill, Franklin T.; Plt Ldr; ; WO Shaw, Stephen J.; AC; ;

The source for this information was 6901AR.AVN supplied by Les Hines

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Date posted on this site: 05/13/2023