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“And Lo, I beheld a Pale Rider Astride a “Darkhorse”
and the Rider's name was DEATH”
  • 1965
    • September: 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.
    • October: 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".
    • The 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.
    • Not wanting to be confused with other Cav units, platoon/individual business cards start showing up. (Someday, I'll add these images too)
    • I 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?
  • 1966
    • Sometime 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, why?
    • The "Rodeo" part of the Clowns call-sign starts getting used less and less. Eventually, it is dropped altogether.
    • Around 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.
    • Sometimes referred to as "R & D East", we got to play with a lot of new "Toys" as we developed our tactics.
    • Because 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".
    • The tents set up in 1965 were gradually converted to actual hootches. Joel Spivak (Outcast 6/Clown 1)takes the credit for making this improvement happen.
  • 1967
    • The "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".
    • The "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.
    • The 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.
    • The 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 toe.
    • I really don't have much history for this year. C'mon guys help me out here.
  • 1968
    • February-The new Hughes OH-6A replaces the OH-13S. Also, sometime this year, the scouts change their patch to blue rectangle and white skull.
    • April-The new Bell AH-1G replaces the B Model Guns.
    • A 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 it.
    • The 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.
    • Sometime after September, The B model slicks are replaced by H models.
    • All 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)
  • 1969
    • We concentrated our efforts on the Cav mission of "Find 'em, Fix 'em and Destroy 'em" .
    • The "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".
    • This 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.
  • 1970
    • March 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.
    • Rumor has it that we appropriated some Colonel's bath tub (from HHB 23rd maybe) and took it with us. Who ended up with it?
    • Our new AO was to be the Mekong Delta and we went to Soc Trang to introduce "Charlie" to Darkhorse.
    • No 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.
    • In 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 their Payroll.
    • In 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.
    • Our 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 without hesitation.)

  • 1971
    • While 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, equipment, & fire discipline. They become a serious threat.
    • I have heard that one of their Anti-aircraft units was all women.
    • Again, not much unit history here. Help me out guys.
  • 1972
    • We are hoping that "Vietnamization" is working and that we will all be going home soon.
    • The mission changes to primarily doing BDA's of the B-52 strikes that are dropped regularly.
    • After 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!!
    • Counter SAM measures arrived in the form of the "Toilet Bowl" exhaust stacks for the Slicks and Guns. The Loaches got some fancy dual exhaust stacks.
    • Fortunately, 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 one.
    • Darkhorse becomes the last US Army combat aviation unit in the Mekong Delta.
    • Our last combat casualty is an Outcast gunner, John D. "Bernie" Satterfield on December 28th in OH-6 #69-16069.
  • 1973
    • The word finally comes down. The official "Cease Fire" will take effect 31Jan73.
    • I 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!)
    • Unfortunately, the guys left have to suffer watching the bad guys walk down the streets and even had to fly them around. BUMMER!!!!
    • The lights in Darkhorse hootches were "officially" turned off on February 2nd and the troop is "De-activated"


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