Lo, I beheld a Pale Rider Astride a “Darkhorse”
and the Rider's name was DEATH”
The Unit, D Troop <AIR> 1ST Squadron, 4th Cavalry of the 1st Infantry
Division leaves Ft Riley, KS for the NAS in Alameda, CA. Here the
men boarded the USS Mann and the aircraft were loaded onto the USS
Core for a "lovely" 3 week cruise to the shores of South Vietnam.
Arrived in country after the boat ride. Moved to Phu Loi after
a brief stay at the University area of Ben Hoa. We began operations
with two Gunship platoons "Rodeo Clowns" and "Mustangs", an Aeroscout platoon,
and Aerorifle(ARP) platoon "Doughboys".
call-sign for the troop is originally "DIAMOND". At least the
first boss, Jim McLeod went by Diamond 6, not Darkhorse. There
are also some photos of guys with shirts that had a red diamond
logo on the front.
wanting to be confused with other Cav units, platoon/individual business
cards start showing up. (Someday, I'll add these images too)
have business cards and a picture on the back of a pilot's seat of
the Clown Logo. Shows a Clown's head/face wearing a beanie cap with
a Rotor/Propeller on it. The lighter side of war, maybe?
this year, I believe, we change the troop call-sign to from DIAMOND
to DARKHORSE. Any one out there know for sure when? For that matter,
"Rodeo" part of the Clowns call-sign starts getting used
less and less. Eventually, it is dropped altogether.
February, the Aeroscout platoon pilots were usually the newcomers.
Since they were the FNG's, this was their assignment. 3 of the
pilots, Jimmie Arnold and Tom Cook were sitting around discussing
this one evening with the platoon leader, Billy Slusher. They
were also discussing what to use as a platoon "Call-sign". Well in walks Dick Kleist, apparently
not real happy about something. Reportedly, he threw down his flight
helmet and said "We're nothing but the "Fucking Outcasts" of the
troop. The rest as they say is history.
referred to as "R & D East", we got to play with a lot of new
"Toys" as we developed our tactics.
we keep having trouble getting lift aircraft to support our ground
guys, The "Clowns" were "slicked" (stripped of their weapons systems)
and became the Aerolift platoon. We also went into the business of
supporting our own Long Range Recon (LRRP) platoon the "Wildcats".
(Not sure when we started using this call sign as the original guys
recall the LRRPs using the call sign "Phantom".
tents set up in 1965 were gradually converted to actual hootches.
Joel Spivak (Outcast 6/Clown 1)takes the credit for making this improvement
"Clowns" logo becomes (This may have happened in late 1966) the 2
Theatrical Clown Faces. The face on the left smiling and the face
on the right frowning/crying. Although I do have a picture of both
faces frowning that was painted on the nose of one of the slicks.
Probably a crew chief "Adjustment".
"Mustangs" use the Knight chess piece made famous by Paladin and his
motto, "Have Guns, Will Travel" for their Logo. This replaces a flying
horse packing rockets.
Outcasts, not to be outdone, develop their own patch, a Red bordered
White patch with an Indian head on it. The Indian either has an arrow
behind him or through his head.
ARPs also develop a pocket patch about this time. But, I can't explain
it. It looks sort of like a boot, has a rotor, and a ladder off the
really don't have much history for this year. C'mon guys help me out
new Hughes OH-6A replaces the OH-13S. Also, sometime this year, the
scouts change their patch to blue rectangle and white skull.
new Bell AH-1G replaces the B Model Guns.
new Troop logo is developed ; The rearing Black Horse w/ a blue cavalry
saddle blanket on it. This goes onto the transmission cowling of the
Snakes and the engine cowling of the Loaches. Don't know if it was
ever put on the Slicks. Bill Hatounian and Roger Trickler designed
LRRPs become their own unit, F Company-52nd Infantry (and in
Feb 1969 again are "re-designated" as I Company-75th Rangers) and are relocated
to Lai Khe. They maintain their 1/4 Cav identity by keeping the call
sign "Wildcat" We remain one of their primary support units. One
of our Cobra's even extracted a team (Wildcat 2)that was trapped
and in heavy contact one night. Check
out the story.
after September, The B model slicks are replaced by H models.
the platoons begin using the "Darkhorse" on the radio rather than
the individual platoon designator. Darkhorse 10 to 19 replaces
"Outcast", 20 to 29 designates replaces "Clowns", & 30 to 39 replaces
the "Mustangs". The platoon leaders are the six factor. 16, 26, 36,
46 (the ARPs boss). (I hear this was not a well received change)
concentrated our efforts on the Cav mission of "Find 'em, Fix 'em
and Destroy 'em" .
"Clowns" became the "4 Horsemen". Seems the troop 1st Sgt and the
new Platoon leader, Wayne McAdoo, didn't like their men being referred
to as "Clowns".
is the year made famous by Hugh Mill's book "Low Level Hell".
I'd encourage you to read it. I wasn't there then, but some of
the tactics described in it were still in use when I joined the
unit in late '71.
of this year saw the tour of the infamous "Big Red One" come to a
close. Most elements of the 1st Infantry rotated back to "The World".
Those with time remaining in D Troop, Companies A & B, 1st Aviation
Bn and a few others are combined to form C Troop (AIR) 16th Cavalry
and assigned to the 1st Aviation Brigade.
has it that we appropriated some Colonel's bath tub (from HHB 23rd
maybe) and took it with us. Who ended up with it?
new AO was to be the Mekong Delta and we went to Soc Trang to
"Charlie" to Darkhorse.
longer in support of American units, we began to support the units
of the 21st, 31st, 32nd, and 33rd ARVN Divisions. We did, on occasion
work with the Navy SEAL teams in the area.
May we are flying regular mission into Cambodia. Where we get to help
ruin at least one payday for the NVA. We uncovered a cache that includes
August, Darkhorse is on the move again, up to Can Tho Army Airfield.
As a result of Vietnamization, Soc Trang will be turned over to VNAF
on November 1st.
ARP's are no longer being used in the field for recovery, rescue,
or to stir it up. Relegated to perimeter guard and other such tasks,
some became door gunners. A sad ending for a great group of guys.
(We did call on them in 1972 for a recovery mission and they went
the mission is the same, VR's for an elusive enemy, we begin
to run into more and more NVA regulars. They have better training,
& fire discipline. They become a serious threat.
have heard that one of their Anti-aircraft units was all women.
not much unit history here. Help me out guys.
are hoping that "Vietnamization" is working and that we will
all be going home soon.
mission changes to primarily doing BDA's of the B-52 strikes that
are dropped regularly.
the Easter Offensive, we are introduced to the SA-7. A shoulder fired,
heat seeking SAM that has made it's way from Russia to the Mekong
Delta. I still remember that lecture in the mess hall and the Berry
pistols they issued for defense against them. YEAH, RIGHT!!
SAM measures arrived in the form of the "Toilet Bowl" exhaust
stacks for the Slicks and Guns. The Loaches got some fancy dual
no Darkhorse ships were lost to the SA-7 Threat. However, on
31-Oct, 4 men, newly assigned to us from another unit, are on
board a 147th ASHC "Hillclimber" CH-47 that was shot down by
becomes the last US Army combat aviation unit in the Mekong Delta.
last combat casualty is an Outcast gunner, John D. "Bernie" Satterfield
on December 28th in OH-6 #69-16069.
word finally comes down. The official "Cease Fire" will take
get a 5 month drop and was on a "Freedom Bird" headed back to "The
World" that same day. (I'll always owe Top Gardner for that!)
the guys left have to suffer watching the bad guys walk down the streets
and even had to fly them around. BUMMER!!!!
lights in Darkhorse hootches were "officially" turned off on February
2nd and the troop is "De-activated"