174th History -- 1968, Part 2
OPERATIONS SUPPORTING THE 11TH BDE AT DUC PHO
During this period, the 174th continued to work hand-and-hand with the “Jungle Warriors” of the 11th LIB (Light Infantry Brigade) while also lending support to the Americal Division’s 198th LIB and the Civilian Irregular Defense Group.
Keeping constant pressure on enemy troop concentrations west of Quang Ngai, the 174th inserted 200 troops of the 3rd Battalion, 1st Infantry, 11th LIB into the area on 18 June to begin Operation Chatahooche Swamp. When Kam Duc Special Forces Camp came under enemy attack in the 198th’s AO (Area of Operations), numerous Dolphin slicks were called to the scene to carry out emergency resupply operations and the eventual evacuation of the camp. WO John Donahue received the Distinguished Flying Cross when he twice landed to evacuate Kham Duc personnel while his ship was taking heavy automatic weapons fire and being hit by shrapnel from exploding enemy mortar rounds.
On 31 May, Shark gunships of the 174th were scrambled at 0030 hours to an area five miles northeast of Quang Ngai. Sampans loaded with much-needed VC supplies were spotted on the Cho Mai River. The Shark team, lead by WO’s Daniel Burton and Richard Baker, rolled in on the enemy boats and immediately came under fire. The gunships countered with rocket and miniguns, and sunk 35 enemy sampans.
WO1 Danny "Rug Rat" Burton. Photo by Jim McDaniel, 1968
WO1 Dick Baker covering the miniguns on Shark 165 at Duc Pho. Photo by Jim McDaniel, 1968
The many successful actions against the enemy did not come without a heavy price, however. At 0130 hours on 31 May, the Duc Pho base camp came under enemy attack by VC forces using 82mm mortars. More than half of the 100 rounds landed in the 174th’s area and along the flight line. Specialist Fifth class Carl T. McCoy was killed instantly by a direct hit on his living quarters. The billets of the flight platoons were damaged extensively and five aircraft received light-to-moderate damage. Sixteen men were injured and treated by the 756th Medical Detachment.
WO Henry Tews was awarded the Bronze Star with “V” (for Valor) during the attack. WO Tews ran through the incoming rounds to administer first aid to the wounded. On 13 June, tragedy again struck the 174th when an Air Force O-2 FAC (Forward Air Controller), with its pilots killed or severely wounded by enemy fire, dived uncontrollable into a command and control helicopter of the 174th. WO’s James Carter and Jerry Johnson, Specialist Four Allen Ray Weamer, and Stanley Milton died in the crash along with LTC Barker, Commanding Officer of the 4th Battalion, 3rd Infantry, his S-2 (Intelligence Officer), and his Artillery Liaison Officer.
During this three-month period, the Dolphins and Sharks flew 6388 hours. This high figure, coupled with the shortage of aviators, posed a serious problem. Because of increased mission requirements, aviators of the 174th were daily approaching and exceeding the 140 hours in 30 days limitation. This problem was finally relieved when the 174th was assigned more aviators.
There were several personnel changes throughout the 174th and its detachments. Major Richard K. Zimmerman arrived to replace Captain George Boswell as Executive Officer, First Lieutenant Steve R. Kennedy took over duties as Intelligence Officer, and Captain Lanny J. McCrary assumed the duties of Operations Officer.
Captain George Boswell, outgoing Executive Officer. Photo by Jim McDaniel, Duc Pho, 1968
Captain Lanny McCrary, pictured below when a Lieutenant, moved from Shark 6 to Operations Officer. Photo by Jim McDaniel, Duc Pho, 1968