174th Assault
Helicopter Company


Biography of

Tom Auman
Dolphin and Shark pilot


I was born in Fullerton, Ca. March 13, 1945. My father was a career Naval Officer and we moved quite a bit. Finished High School in McLean, Va. and went to the University of North Carolina for a couple of years until I flunked out. Was going to get drafted, so thought it would be fun to fly helicopters. Graduated Sept 13, 1966 from WOC class 66-13.

Arrived at Lane AHP, October 13, 1966. I was assigned to the 1st Platoon, I think, and after a week or so of orientation I was sent to Nha Trang, where the 174th had a small detachment. Stayed in a hotel downtown, supported II Corp Hqts, Special Forces, Korean Army.

Wish I was better at remembering names and faces. I can barely remember the names of some of the pilots who were my contemporaries, much less the guys who were copilots, crewchiefs, or gunners. Also It seems like I took few if any pictures of all of us. Wonder if it had to due with my young age, or a defense against someone getting hurt or killed. Still remember the long flights back and forth from Nha Trang to the area around Pleiku. Also sling loading those three 55 gal. drums of water to the pinnacle outposts around Nha Trang.

Moved north to Ninh Hoa for a couple of months in early 67, before we moved up to Duc Pho. Remember the CA on the mountain southwest of Ninh Hoa where we had to hover above the trees so the engineers could repel down through the trees to cut out an LZ. Took a couple of scary moments before we figured out we could only hover with two troops on board!

I went to the Sharks in May, but due to a lapse in judgement, and a lack of understanding on the part of the CO, I went back to the first platoon in July. I remember the mortar attack that killed the guys in the tent next door. I rolled out of my cot onto the dirt as the shrapnel went through the tent, hitting John Wall, who was next to me. He didn't realize he was hit till we got in the bunker and someone smelled blood.

I remember a late night scramble to help a unit that had been ambushed by a larger unit. We almost got hit by the artillery on the way out, but somehow in the dark we brought fire on the right place, although the guy on the ground radio was hit by mortars from the VC.

I could go on and on. I look forward to the VHPA reunion in Nashville this summer.

Anyway, I DEROSed in September 67. I can't believe I so quickly lost track of all those people that I was so close to. I was an instructor at Ft. Wolters for about a year when I was sent to A/9/9th Div. at Dong Tam. I decided I'd had enough, so when my tour was up I decided to get out. I went back to UNC and graduated in 71.

I also got my civilian ratings and was a flight instructor. Later I was a commuter airline pilot in Atlanta before moving to Moline, Illinois to take a job flying for the local company I still fly a KingAir for. I still live in Moline.

In 1986, I did become a Civil Service Pilot for the Army flight detachment located here, thinking it might be a more secure job, but I was wrong. I've been back flying for the same company since July 97.

I'm married to my second wife, Suzanne. I have two kids, both living in St Louis. A daughter Katie, who is 25, and a son Mike, 21, the same age I was back in 66, hard to believe.

Anyone wanting to contact me, please drop me an e-mail at TomA1@aol.com. I'll pass along my home address and phone number to you then.

Webmaster note: To see Tom's photos page, click HERE.

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