Music is "Give Me Love - Give Me Peace On Earth" By George Harrison
Huey UH-1M (Gunship)
Huey Air Drop
On 01 July 1965, the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) was officially activated. It was made up of resources
of the 11th Air Assault Division (Test) and brought to full strength by transfer of specialised elements of
the 2nd Infantry Division. As a part of this reorganisation, the 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry was
redesignated the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment and the 2nd Battalion, 9th Infantry was redesignated
the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment. On 03 July 1965, in Doughboy Stadium at Fort Benning, Georgia
the colors of the 11th Air Assault Division (Test) were cased and retired. As the band played the rousing
strains of GarryOwen, the colours of the 1st Cavalry Division were moved onto the field.
Within 90 days of becoming the Army's first air mobile division, the First Team was back in combat as the
first fully committed division of the Vietnam War. An advance party, on board C-124s and C-130s, arrived
at Nha Trang between the 19th and 27th of August 1965. They joined with advance liaison forces and
established a temporary base camp near An Khe, 36 miles inland from the costal city of Qui Nhon. The
remainder of the 1st Cavalry Division arrived by ship, landing at the harbour of Qui Nhon on the 12th
and 13th of September, the 44th anniversary of the 1st Cavalry Division. In the Oriental calendar year of
the "Horse", mounted soldiers had returned to war wearing the famous and feared patch of the First
Cavalry Division. The First Team had entered its third war - and the longest tour of duty in combat history.
On 10 October 1965, in "Operation Shiny Bayonet", the First Team initiated their first brigade-size
airmobile action against the enemy. The air assault task force consisted of the 1st and 2nd Battalions, 7th
Cavalry, 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry, 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry and the 1st Battalion, 21st Artillery. Rather
than standing and fighting, the Viet Cong chose to disperse and slip away. Only light contact was
achieved. The troopers had but a short wait before they faced a tougher test of their fighting skills; the
35-day Pleiku Campaign.
On 23 October 1965, the first real combat test came at the historic order of General Westmoreland to
send the First Team into an air assault mission to pursue and fight the enemy across 2,500 square miles of
jungle. Troopers of the 1st Brigade and 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry swooped down on the NVA 33rd
regiment before it could get away from Plei Me. The enemy regiment was scattered in the confusion and
was quickly smashed. The 3rd Brigade joined the fighting on 09 November. Five days later, the 1st
Battalion, 7th Cavalry air assaulted into the Ia Drang Valley near the Chu Pong Massif. Landing Zone
X-Ray was "hot" from the start. At Landing Zone X-Ray, the Division's first medal of honor in the
Vietnam War was awarded to 2nd Lt. Walter J. Marm of the 1st Battalion 7th Cavalry. The fighting, the
most intensive combat in the history of the division, raged for three days. When the Pleiku Campaign
ended on 25 November, troopers of the First Team had killed 3,561 North Vietnamese soldiers and
captured 157 more. The troopers destroyed two of three regiments of a North Vietnamese Division,
earning the first Presidential Unit Citation given to a division in Vietnam. The enemy had been given their
first major defeat and their carefully laid plans for conquest had been torn apart.
25 January 1966, began "Masher/White Wing" which were code names for the missions of the 3rd Brigade
in Binh Dinh Province. The mission ended 6 March 1966, with the enemy losing its grip on the Binh Dinh
Province, however its name would be heard again and again during the next six years. On 01 April 1966,
the 5th Battalion, 7th Cavalry was activated at Fort Carson, Colorado. using the personnel and assets of
the 1st Battalion, 11th Infantry, The unit joined the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 7th Cavalry, 3rd Brigade,
1st Cavalry Division in Vietnam. In August 1966 the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry was sent to the
southernmost end of II Corps to bring the long months of "Operation Byrd" to a productive finish. In 16
months the 2nd Brigade fanned out from Phan Thiet, the capital city of Binh Thaun Province, and cleared
from the enemy from the area.
The need for rice by the famished Viet Cong was the catalyst for Operation Paul Revere II which
commenced on 02 August 1966. Significant contact with the enemy did not occur until 08 August, at LZ
Juliett. Company "A", 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry came under heavy fire from a reinforced enemy
battalion. In several hours of intense fighting, Alpha Company turned back repeated mass attacks. Timely
artillery and air strikes eliminated the opportunity for the enemy to surround the Skytroopers. The roar of
helicopters from two companies from the 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry arriving at LZ Juliett frightened the
enemy, causing them to flee.
Hill 534, on the southern portion of Chu Pong Massif near the Cambodian Border, was the location of the
final battle of Operation Paul Revere II. It began on 14 August, after Company "A" 1st Battalion, 5th
Cavalry suddenly ran into a North Vietnamese battalion and Company "B", 2nd Battalion began slugging
it out with enemy troops in bunkers. A total of two battalions of Skytroopers were committed to the fight.
When it ended the next morning, 138 NVA bodies were counted.
At the end of Paul Revere II, which had killed 861 of the enemy, a task force of the 2nd Battalion, 7th
Cavalry was organised for Operation Byrd. The task force was dispatched to Binh Thaun Province, at the
southern of II Corps, to support the Revolutionary Development Program. This mission would last until
the end of 1966.
On October 25, Operation Thayer II continued the drive to pacify the Binh Dinh Province. On 01
November, troopers of the 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry, 5th Battalion, 7th Cavalry became engaged in a
sharp fight with the 93rd Battalion and the 2nd Viet Cong Regiment. The action took place in the vicinity
of National Route 1 and Dam Tra-O Lake south of the Gay Giep mountains. In Thayer II the enemy
suffered a punishing loss of 1,757 killed.
On 13 February 1967, Operation Pershing began in a territory which was familiar to many skytroopers, the
Bong Son Plain in northern Binh Dinh Province. For the first time, the First Cavalry Division committed all
three of its brigades to the same battle area.
The division began 1968, by terminating Operation Pershing, the longest of the 1st Cavalry's Vietnam
actions. When the operation ended on 21 January, the enemy had lost 5,401 soldiers and 2,400 enemy
soldiers had been captured. In addition, some 1,300 individual and 137 crew weapons had been captured
Moving to I Corps, Vietnam's northern most tactical zone, the division set up Camp Evans for their base
camp. On January 31 1968, amid the celebration of the Vietnamese New Year, the enemy launched the
Tet Offensive, a major effort to overrun South Vietnam. Some 7,000 enemy, well equipped, crack NVA
regulars blasted their way into the imperial city of Hue, overpowering all but a few pockets of resistance
held by ARVN troops and the U.S. Marines. Within 24 hours, the invaders were joined by 7,000 NVA
reinforcements. Almost simultaneously to the North of Hue, five battalions of North Vietnamese and
Viet Cong attacked Quang Tri City, the capital of Vietnam's northern province.
Following fierce fighting at Thorn La Chu, the 3rd Brigade moved toward embattled city of Hue. The
southwest wall of the city was soon taken after the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry overcome severe resistance
and linked up with the 5th Battalion. At this point, the NVA and Viet Cong invaders were driven from
Hue by late February. The Tet offensive was over. The NVA and Viet Cong had suffered a massive
defeat, with 32,000 killed and 5,800 captured.
After shattering the enemy's dreams of a Tet victory, the 1st Cavalry Division "Sky-Troopers" initiated
Operation Pegasus to relieve the 3,500 U.S. Marines and 2,100 ARVN soldiers besieged by nearly 20,000
enemy soldiers. On 1 April 1968, the 3rd Brigade, making a massive air assault within 5 miles of Khe Sanh,
were soon followed by the 1st and 2nd Brigades and three ARVN Battalions. Company "A", 2nd Battalion,
7th Cavalry led the way, followed by Company "C", 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry. After four days of tough
fighting, they marched into Khe Sanh to take over the defence of the battered base. Pursing the retreating
North Vietnamese, the 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry recaptured the Special Forces camp at Lang Vei
uncovering large stockpiles of supplies and ammunition. The final statistics of Operation Pegasus were
1,259 enemy killed and more than 750 weapons captured.
On April 19 1968, Operation Delaware was launched into the cloud-shrouded A Shau Valley, near the
Laotian border and 45 kilometers west of Hue. None of the Free World Forces had been in the valley
since 1966, which was now being used as a way station on the supply route known as the Ho Chi Minh
Trail. The first engagement was made by the 1st and 3rd Brigades. Under fire from mobile, 37 mm cannon
and 0.50 caliber machine guns, they secured several landing zones. For the next month the brigades
scoured the valley floor, clashing with enemy units and uncovering huge enemy caches of food, arms,
ammunition, rockets, and Russian made tanks and bulldozers. By the time that Operation Delaware was
ended on 17 May, the favorite VC sanctuary had been thoroughly disrupted.
In late 1968, the Division moved and set up operations in III Corps at the other end of South Vietnam. In
February 1969, Operation Cheyenne Sabre began in areas northeast of Bien Hoa. The year 1969 ended in a
high note for the 1st Cavalry Division. The enemy's domination of the northern areas of III Corps had
been smashed - thoroughly.
On 1 May 1970, the First Team was "First into Cambodia" hitting what was previously a Communist
sanctuary. President Nixon has given the go-ahead for the surprise mission. Pushing into the "Fish Hook"
region of the border and occupied the towns of Mimot and Snoul. Troopers deprived the enemy of much
needed supplies and ammunition, scattering the enemy forces. The Cambodian Operation far exceeded
all expectations and proved to be one of the most successful operations of the First Team. All aspects of
ground and air combat were utilised. The campaign had severe political repercussions in the United
States for the Nixon Administration. Pressure was mounting to remove America's fighting men from the
Although there would be further assault operations, the war was beginning to wind down for many
troopers. The efforts of the 1st Cavalry Division were not limited to direct enemy engagements but also,
using the experiences gained during the occupation of Japan and Korea, encompassed the essential
rebuilding of the war torn country of South Vietnam. As a result of its' gallant performance, the regiment
was awarded two presidential Unit Citations and the Valorous Unit Citation.
Although 26 March 1971 officially marked the end of duties in Vietnam for the 1st Cavalry Division,
President Nixon's program of "Vietnamization" required the continued presence of a strong U.S. fighting
force. The 2nd Battalion of the 5th Regiment, 1st Battalion of the 7th Regiment, 2nd Battalion of the 8th
Regiment and 1st Battalion of the 12th Regiment along with specialised support units as "F" Troop, 9th
Cavalry and Delta Company, 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion helped establish the 3rd Brigade
headquarters at Bien Hoa. Its primary mission was to interdict enemy infiltration and supply routes in War
The 3rd Brigade was well equipped with helicopters from the 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion and later,
a battery of "Blue Max", aerial field units and two air cavalry troops. A QRF (Quick Reaction Force) -
known as "Blue Platoons", was maintained in support of any air assault action. The "Blues" traveled light,
fought hard and had three primary missions; 1) to form a "field force" around any helicopter downed by
enemy fire or mechanical failure; 2) to give quick backup to Ranger Patrols who made enemy contact;
and 3) to search for enemy trails, caches and bunker complexes.
"Blue Max", "F" Battery, 79th Aerial Rocket Artillery, was another familiar aerial artillery unit. Greatly
appreciated by troopers of the 1st Cavalry, its heavily armed Cobras flew a variety of fire missions in
support of the operations of the 3rd Brigade. The pilots of "Blue Max" were among the most experienced
combat fliers in the Vietnam War. Many had volunteered for the extra duty to cover the extended stay of
the 1st Cavalry Division.
Most of the initial combat for the new brigade involved small skirmishes. But the actions became bigger
and more significant. Two engagements in May of 1971 were typical operations. On 12 May the third
platoon, Delta Company, 2/5th tangled with enemy forces holed up in bunker complexes. With help from
the Air Force and 3rd Brigade Gunships, the troopers captured the complex. Fifteen days later,
helicopters of Bravo Troop, 1/9th received ground fire while conducting a reconnaissance mission over a
large bunker complex. Air strikes were called in and the troopers overran the complex.
Early in June, intelligence detected significant enemy movement toward the center of Long Khanh
Province and its capital, Xuan Loc. On 14 June Delta Company of the 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry ran into
an ambush in heavy jungle and engaged a company-sized enemy unit. The troopers were pinned down in
a well-sprung trap. Cavalry field artillery soon pounded their North Vietnamese positions and heavy
Cobra fire from Blue Max, "F" Battery of the 79th Aerial Rocket Artillery, swept down on the enemy
positions keeping pressure on the withdrawing North Vietnamese throughout the night. The Brigade's
timely movements had thwarted the enemy build up north of Xuan Loc.
By 31 March 1972, only 96,000 U.S. troops were involved in the Vietnam combat operations. In mid June
1972, the standdown ceremony for the 3rd Brigade was held in Bein Hoa and the colors were returned to
the United States. The last trooper left from Tan Son Nhut on 21 June, completing the division recall
which had started on 05 May 1971. With the 3rd Brigade completing their withdraw, the 1st Cavalry had
been the first army division to go to Vietnam and the last to leave.
"Firsts" had become the trademark of the First Team.
On 27 January 1973, a cease-fire was signed in Paris by the United States, South Vietnam, North Vietnam,
and the Provisional Revolutionary Government of the National Liberation Front (NLF), the civilian arm of
the South Vietnam Communists. A Four-Party Joint Military Commission was set up to implement such
provisions as the withdrawal of foreign troops and the release of prisoners. An International Commission
of Control and Supervision was established to oversee the cease-fire.
Courtesy of Pete Jones - the SOTCW Vietnam War Study Group