174th Assault
Helicopter Company


This article was written by the 1st Aviation Brigade
Information Office (IO) and published in the Stars and Stripes

Silent Patrol Calls In Gunships On VC Patrol
14 October 1967

DUC PHO, (101st ABN-IO) - The sun had set, shrouding the Song Ve Valley in darkness. A squad of paratroopers from the 101st Airborne Division crept across a rice paddy, hoping to reach their ambush positions before the moon could come out and give away their position.

As they neared a tree line, the soldiers, from the 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry, could hear the Viet Cong talking and moving around.

Staff Sergeant Shelby L. Wilson, the squad leader, cautiously led his men around the enemy. As they approached another tree line, they heard more voices.

The moon was rising now, and passing minutes increased the possibility of discovery. The men had no choice but to hide in a well-concealed ditch near a trail, not more than 20 yards from the enemy.

Absolute silence was necessary. A cough, rattling of equipment, or even a sudden movement in the undergrowth could alert the VC.

Wilson, whispering almost inaudibly into the radio, called in gunships. Soon, the men could hear the hum of the approaching (174th AHC) helicopters. As the choppers reached the area and hovered overhead, a flare dropped from one and lit up the area.

The paratroopers remained low in the ditch to avoid detection as the gunships raked the tree lines and rice paddies.

The choppers circled for a half an hour, dropping flares, raking with machinegun fire, rockets and grenades.

Finally, the last flare died out and the choppers left the ambush patrol to await the sunrise.

Although we were unable to get the photographs, the microfilm copies of the Stars and Stripes, from which these articles come, also lists the captions of photographs carried in the newspaper. The following two captions were for photographs carried in the Stars and Stripes on 18 November 1967:


Photo Caption: DOWN AND OUT - Infantrymen of the 1st Battalion, 35th Infantry, 3rd Brigade of the 4th Infantry make a heliborne assault west of Duc Pho during an Americal Division operation. (Photo by Sgt. Urrea Jones, AMERICAL-IO) (Note: Emblems on the noses of helicopters look like Dolphins from the 174th AHC).


Photo Caption: GOING IN - Choppers from the 174th Aviation Company prepare to extract soldiers of the 3rd Brigade, 4th Infantry after a search and destroy mission west of Duc Pho for the Americal Division. The 174th recently received a unit citation for outstanding service. (Photo by Bob Towle, AMERICAL-IO)