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Chapter 4: Unit Operations
While reconnoitering an abandoned village on 1 August 1968, the Scouts took 5 NVA under fire killing three. The ARP was immediately inserted and captured two AK-47s plus six new packs with miscellaneous equipment. On 10 August the Scouts were covering an area where tunnels with fresh bamboo camouflaging had been discovered earlier in the day. The ships received fire from three NVA soldiers. The Scouts returned the fire killing all three of the enemy. On 21 August 1968, Troop A’s ARP plus D Troop were conducting a cordon and search of a village in the vicinity of Ban Me Thout. A Scout ship was shot down while covering the operation, however no one was injured. A Troop, 1/10th Cavalry joined up with the ground units to engage the enemy. By the time the enemy broke contact, they had lost 22 men, 12 packs, and 300 pounds of explosives, one AK-47, 2 SKS rifles, and some medical supplies. On 27 August while reconnoitering around Ban Me Thout, the Scouts came across three NVA soldiers taking evasive action. Taking the enemy under fire, the scouts killed one.
Reconnoitering around the Special Forces Camp of Dac Lap on 10 September the Scouts received intense automatic weapons fire from a bunker complex. The gun ships rolled in immediately and two air strikes were called in after that. Twelve NVA were killed and approximately 30 bunkers destroyed. Two days later the gun ships were providing fire support for a recon platoon in the Dac Lap area. One ship took five hits from a 50 caliber anti aircraft weapon, damaging its tail rotor control. The pilot made a safe emergency landing at Ban Me Thout. The next day two LOHs were hit by anti aircraft fire in the Duc Lap area. One made a safe emergency landing, the other OH-6A crashed when it was hit, killing both crew members. The lift ships were used to take the wounded from the battle area at Dac Lap to the hospital at Ban Me Thout on 13 September 1968.
On 14 September, A Troop worked northwest of Ban Me Thout around the Special Forces Camp at Ban Don. The Scout ships spotted approximately 100 NVA on top of a mountain. Immediately the gun ships rolled in and numerous air strikes were called in. The next day a CIDG element made a sweep of the area. From the amount of blood and flesh in the area it was estimated at least 30 personnel had been killed and wounded. Following the trail of the enemy, the Scouts found 30 to 40 NVA. The scout helicopters received intense automatic weapons fire. Two air strikes were put in the area resulting in six secondary explosions with smoke rising 100 feet in the air. Later intelligence revealed this was a NVA heavy weapons company. On 18 September 1968, A Troop was still working in the area around Ban Me Thout. The Scouts were observing a rest area with NVA ponchos and fresh sleeping mats when they spotted three NVA taking evasive action. They took the enemy under fire, killing one. A friendly unit had been in contact with the enemy on 21 September near Dac Lap. The unit had three seriously wounded men. The only LZ in the area was not big enough for the UH-1 to get into; however, A Troops LOHs were able to hover down into it and perform an emergence medevac mission.
The Scouts were screening, while the ARP performed a cordon and search of a village on 4 October 1968. Noticing two NVA escaping, the Scouts took them under fire, killing one and wounding the other. The ARP moved in capturing the wounded NVA soldier, two AK-47s and two packs. Moving on to another area, the gun ships fired on four North Vietnamese soldiers, killing two. An air strikes was called in, killing one more. During the bomb damage assessment, the Scouts killed a third. On 9 October the Scouts were performing a visual reconnaissance mission. While observing a group of people harvesting rice, the people produced AK-47s and proceeded to shoot at the Scouts. One ship took five hits; however three of the people were killed, after they fired at the ships. On 14 October the Scouts were observing a camouflaged hootch when three Viet Cong ran out and tried to escape. Only one managed to escape the fire from the Scout ships. 25 October 1968, marked the end of Troop A stay in Ban Me Thout.
On 2 November 1968, while enroute to the Area of Operation west of Oasis, near Pleiku, the Scout spotted approximately eight men traveling along a trail. The men took cover then the helicopter flew past. After determining the personnel were NVA, the Scouts took them under fire and the gun ships rolled in. During a BDA of the area after the gun ships had fired, one observer of the Scout was killed by enemy fire. Air strikes were called into the area before an infantry unit moved in. They captured ten rolls of rice, six bags of rice, one AK-50, twenty grenades, four 82mm mortar rounds and twenty five sacks. The troop was credited with eight NVA filled. During the rest of November, contact was only once made resulting in two VC killed. A larger bunker complex was found on 24 November near Polei Klong and was partially destroyed.
Southeast of Kontum on 6 December, the scouts were checking out an area of freshly cultivated fields when they discovered approximately 75 huts well camouflage in a valley. The Scouts drew intense fire with one aircraft taking four hits. Air strikes were called into the area however the results were unknown. The enemy continued to stay in hiding and contact was not made for another two weeks. During the period of 18 to 26 December, A Troop was given time down for maintenance of its aircraft and annual training requirements. Working out of Firebase Blackhawk on its first day back at work, the Scouts received fire. Returning the fire, they killed one VC. The ARP was inserted twice on 29 December, destroying 900 pounds of rice that the enemy had stored. The last day of the year, the ARP was inserted, discovering a large rice cache. By the end of the day 6000 pounds had been lifted out and another 6000 destroyed. It was estimated that at least another 12000 pounds of rice was in the area.