Assault Helicopter Company
Dates of Service in Vietnam
Crew members & Enlisted
Aircraft Histories and Incidents
I remember when......
Det. (Bird Watcher)
Origin and Brief History
of the Thunderbirds
How the Thunderbirds
Got their Name!
News & Updates
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Sep 62 -- 25 June 63
June 63 -- 1 Dec 65
Units of the 118th
Det. (Bird Watcher)
On 7 June 1963 the 118th Aviation
Company(AML) was constituted in the Regular Army by AGAO-O (23
Jul 63). Then, on 25 June 1963, General Order 236, HQ, US Army,
Pacific, activated the 118th Aviation Company (AML) as one of
the two helicopter units comprising the 145th Aviation Battalion(the
other being the UTT).
Rising like a phoenix from
the deactivated 33rd Transportation Company(Light Helicopter)
which had arrived in Vietnam during the autumn of 1962 aboard
the USNS Croatan from Ft. Ord, CA, the 118th "Thunderbirds"
immediately began to typify their motto...."IT SHALL BE DONE".
Fully operational as an assault
helicopter company in July 1963, the Thunderbirds chalked up an
impressive record of combat assaults during their first month
of operation, without the benefit of an armed helicopter platoon.
Flying dual rotor CH-21's, the pilots and crews had to resort
to the use of personal sidearms when assaulting a hostile LZ.
One of the Thunderbirds' first confirmed Viet Cong kills was reported
to have been when a door gunner shot from the aircraft's landing
gear with his pistol.
With the replacement of the
CH-21 with the UH-1B helicopter in Sep 1963, the armed 3rd Platoon
"Bandits" was created. During Nov 1963, the Bandits
were credited with more than 150 enemy kills, a record not surpassed
until the large build-up of American troops in 1965.
Organized for heliborne operations
over the myriad terrain features of the III Corps area, the 118th
was the model for the assault helicopter unit concept that would
follow in another two years. The Thunderbirds were so highly regarded
by the commanders of other helicopter units that they were constantly
training crew members of the new units that began pouring into
Known as the"First of
the Assault Helicopter Companies", the 118th actively participated
in every major battle and operation in III Corps, distinguishing
itself in the early years in the Battle of Dong Xoai, Operations
Attleboro, Cedar Falls, and Junction City.
The measure of a helicopter
unit, like the measure of any fighting group, is in the measure
of its fighting men. Among the greatest claims of the Thunderbirds
and their reputation as a fighting unit was they were the first
to arrive and the last to leave because....."IT SHALL BE
Finally, after serving in
the Republic of Vietnam beginning 17 Sept 1962 the 118th Assault
Helicopter Company was inactivated on 31 Aug 1971 by USARPAC General
Order 458, dtd 25 Aug 71. The Thunderbirds had served in combat
with great honor and distinction for almost 9 years! (The 118th
was re-activated again on 21 Dec 1972 in Hawaii)
(Copied primarily from " First
in Vietnam--A Pictorial History of the 145th Combat Aviation Battalion "
published by the Battalion Information Office, 1966-67, Dai Nippon
Printing Co., LTD, Tokyo, Japan)
A listing of pilots,
crew members and enlisted men who died serving the United States
of America while in the 33rd Transportation Company and the 118th
AHC throughout the almost 9 year period of time in Vietnam.
A listing of Officers and Warrant
Officer Pilots who flew in the 33rd Transportation Company or
the 118th AHC during the almost 9 years in Vietnam
A listing of Enlisted men who flew
as Crewmen or were support personnel assigned to the 33rd Transportation
Company or the 118th AHC during its 9 years in Vietnam
A grid listing the names of those
who served in leadership positions of CO, XO, Operations, 1SGT,
CO of 573rd Maint. Det, and CO of 93rd Med. Det. during the nearly
Records indicate that at least 95
aircraft of the 118th AHC were involved in at least 210 incidents.
provided by former members of the 33rd Transportation Co. or 118th
Details from various
official and non-official publications about significant battles
and operations. Plus, personal remembrances of 118th pilots and
Old Thunderbirds and friends come
together after decades to relive and reminisce about good and
bad times in the 33rd Transportation Company and the 118th Thunderbirds.
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Thomas Payne, Web master