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1971 Phu Bai
Posted: April 8th, 2008 @ 6:54pm
The following is what CW4 Robert G. Smithson remembers of AH-1G 66-15348 during 1971. I think this is the same aircraft that is now on static display in DuBoise, PA at VFW Post 813 and they are trying to put together the history of their aircraft. If you have any information about this aircraft please email me at d101hawks.com and I will post the new information as well as forward it to the guys at VFW Post 813 so they can add it to their display. Thanks….Ray Pitts
This is a recount of AH-1G 66-15348 as I can remember it after almost thirty-eight years and may not be 100% accurate, but most information is correct. Cobra 348 came to D/101 with the beginning of Lam Son 719 from 1/9th, 1st Cavalry Division from somewhere south of DaNang. The call sign of this unit was “Dutchmasters” and they made a big deal of it because the cigar company had sent them a bunch of boxes of their cigars at some time in the past. By the time they got to Phu Bai the units were using the Signal Operating Instructions (SOI) and the tactical call signs and frequencies changes about every day.
The unit came to Phu Bai in about February 1971 with all their aircraft and people. The only two pilots I remember were CW3 Bob Villarreal and CW2 William Hoffman. I only remember them because CW3 Villarreal was the 1st W3 I had seen in Viet Nam and CW2 Hoffman and I had come to Viet Nam on the same airplane and were later in the same unit at Ft. Hood, TX.
The unit was quickly infused into D/101 for local orientations etc and then began running their own mission. After about seventy or so days the original unit stood down and their aircraft were distributed to the 101st. Most of the unit left country at that time.
Cobra 66-15348 was the oldest AH-1G that I had seen at the time. It did not have an Environmental Control Unit (ECU) or air conditioner and was very uncomfortable to fly for long periods of time due to the heat. I also had a very strange rear seat rocket sight. Where all the other rocket sights had a graduated orange sight reticule with a center line and ranges in it, #348 had a large white circle with a white dot in the center. It also had the clear plexiglass nose cone, where the landings lights were initially, was still there and painted OD green. I believe this to be one of the first models of Cobra rocket sights. I have never seen another one.
I do not remember which D/101 platoon it was assigned to but all the pilots there at that time would have flown it from time to time. It flew through the period of Lam Son 719 and then made the move to DaNang with the unit and probably returned to the states with the 101st and was assigned to Ft. Campbell, KY.
I can not remember any of the crew chiefs of the period but some pilots that may have flown #348 from D/101 would have been: CW5 Doug Gjertson, CW4 Jim Vick, CW3 Jack Hauck, CW4 Robert G. Smithson, CPT Richard Hill, CPT Terry Morris and anybody else assigned to D/101 from February 1971 through the time the unit returned to Ft. Campbell.
As I said, this is only as accurate as my 63 year old mind can recall and if I am corrected by anyone, I can accept it with dignity.