Company A, 101st Aviation A.H.B.


"Alpha Eagles"


On 7 December 1950, the 4th Light Aviation Section was constituted in the Regular Army and was assigned to the Eighth US Army in Korea where it remained until deactivated on 5 November 1954.

The 4th Light Aviation Section was reactivated on 1 July 1956 as the 101st Aviation Company and assigned to the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.  On 3 December 1962, as the Army's aviation force structure continued to grow, the 101st Aviation Company was redesignated as the 101st Aviation Battalion.

Company A deployed to the Republic of Vietnam on 11 April 1965 and became the first element of the division to see combat since World War II. A Company, 101 Aviation served from 04/1965-09/1966 at Soc Trang, Republic of Vietnam.

In 09/1966 the A Company Colors return to Ft. Campbell, the company assets were transferred to the 336th Assault Helicopter Company.

After the colors were returned from Vietnam in 09/1966 the Company regrouped, acquired assets and trained at Ft Campbell KY in preparation for it's return deployment to Vietnam.

In 12/1967 Company A returned to Bien Hoa, Vietnam and then moved north to start Camp Eagle in northern I Corp. The division was reconstituted Airmobile in July 1968, and several separate theater aviation elements were reorganized under the 160th Avn Group Later renamed the 101st Aviation Group that included A Company, B Company, C Company, D Company along with Headquarters Company.

01/1969 Redesignated as A Company, Comancheros

 2nd Bde Pad at Cu Chi, VN - Jan. '68

Photo by Howard Klein


Chuck Luczynski, Co. A, 101st Avn Bn. 09/1967-03/1968 remembers his tour:


I arrived at A Co 101st Avn Bn in Aug or Sep '67 from A Co 82nd Avn Bn.  I was assigned to the maintenance  platoon since there were no flying slots open.  Lived in a small 2-story barracks on the air base. Wasn't too bad since we had to eat at the Zoomie mess hall & army e-4s could use their NCO Club.  We used to get up in the a.m., PT, run, shower, inspection & still be 1st in line at their mess hall.  Of course we had to uphold the airborne mystique, so we drank our breakfast eggs raw out of a glass.  Didn't get to go to Acapulco.  Helped load the hueys on C-141 Star Lifters.  Don't remember the TI at Campbell, but had heard he helped write the FM-20 for the huey.  He didn't deploy with us, I think a SP-6 by the name of Mackey became the TI in 'Nam.  I ended up being somewhat of a specialist on the horizontal stabilizer at Campbell. Turned out the FM had an error in it when it came to adjusting it for lateral chuck.  I figured it out & was questioned by the TI on how I'd down it.  He told me to keep it to myself.  Ships used to be down for days while the mechanics tried to get it right.  I wasn't about to let a good thing out of the bag.  In 'Nam we went to maintenance shifts because of the work load.  I ended up on the 1600 to 2400 shift.  I would squirm up into the tail boom, hang a few wrenches with safety wire & catch up on my sleep.  Bruce McDonald would wake me up when we got off.  After a day or two, I would fix it & be done until the next one came up.  One night, an alert or something came up & McDonald was pulled off & sent to the berm.  No one knew I was in the tail boom of a ship, so I slept the night through.  I woke up when I heard the day crew coming on.  I figured I'd play the hand I was dealt out, so I quickly changed the spacers in the "C" clamps, wiggled out & put the inspection cover back on.  The ship passed inspection & was released.  I ended up getting a letter of commendation for working extra hours on my off-duty time to get the ship back flying.  Needless to say, McDonald & I got a real kick out of that.  When Tet broke loose, our M-16s were in the weapons conex.  The guy with the key was on pass in Saigon or someplace.  We had to break into the conex & grab rifles.  In the confusion, everyone just grabbed the first rifle they could, so no one knew what the zero was on the weapon or even if it worked.  Next we had to get magazines & ammo & load the magazines.  Not much happened on our side of the berm & it got pretty boring.  About mid-morning word was passed around that we were out of JP-4.  They asked for volunteers to ride shotgun on fuel trucks to try and get through to Saigon for more fuel.  I was one of the volunteers.  These weren't the deuce and a half POL trucks, but the big tankers.  We grabbed some of the M-60s for the slicks.  This was somewhat of a problem because of the handles & butterfly trigger.  Those of us with the M-60s sat on top of the tankers, straddling them with the bipod legs down on the 60s.  This effectively limited us to firing straight forward.  We made it to Saigon, rumbled through various districts until we got to Shell Oil.  Lo and behold, there was no firing going on around there.  They had a few Nung mercenaries that patrolled their perimeters.  Rumor had it that they were like Michelin and paid bribes to protect their holdings.  Made it back to Bien Hoa and finally realized how foolish we'd been to volunteer for such a suicide mission. If any round had hit one of the tankers, we wouldn't have known what hit us. 

Chuck Luczynski

Co. A, 101st Avn Bn. 09/67-11/67 Vietnam 11/67-03/68


Howard Klein, Co. A, 101st Avn Bn. "Eagle 115/Kosher Eagle" remembers his tour:


Class 67-15 had just graduated from Ft. Rucker and half the class was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division. It was no secret that the Division was about to deploy to Vietnam to join up with its' 1st Brigade which had  been "in country" since 1965. Most of those who were assigned to the 101st reported to the 101st Aviation Battalion. The Battalion, in those days, consisted of A Company (a general lift unit consisting of 20 brand new UH-1H helicopters), B Company (a gunship unit equipped with UH-1C helicopters), and Headquarters Company, which took care of our administrative needs   (S-1, S-2, S-3, and S-4).


The Division was to deploy to Vietnam in History's biggest airlift. A total of 322, C-141, sorties would be flown between October and December 1967. The airlift was supplemented by a sea train which carried most of our heavy equipment and helicopters. Some of our choppers did go over via C-141 with their rotor blades removed. The 101st Airborne Division occupied Bien Hoa, Phouc Vinh, and Cu Chi upon arrival. The 101st Aviation Battalion went to Bien Hoa where it set up its' base camp.


Life in Bien Hoa wasn't bad. We had wooden hooches, mamma sans to clean, decent showering facilities, and a real mess hall. Life was good and we were green. That would all change with the 1968 Tet Offensive.


Since 99% of our pilots were "cherry new guys" we were sent out to the seasoned units of the 1st Aviation Brigade to get our "in country orientations." While this was going on some of our number were rotated out to other units and seasoned pilots were rotated in to replace them. That is how the unit was quickly made ready for combat missions. It's tough trying to accomplish a mission with both pilots having their head up their ass. It was much better to have at least one guy who knew what he was doing. I'm sure our crew chiefs were happier too.


 Camp Eagle June 1968 Howard Klein remembers his tour:


It wasn't long before we got the lay of the land and we were resupplying troops out in the field. There weren't many combat assaults in the early days. Our infantry troops were getting a little "in country orientation" also.


Then it happened. All hell broke loose! We were awakened by the sound of 122 mm rockets slamming into the compound. We could see Cobra Gunships working out over the rubber plantation just outside of Bien Hoa. It looked like a laser attack from the sky with the tracer rounds lighting a path from the miniguns to the ground. That was real impressive. Prior to dawn we were given a mission to take 10 UH-1H's, pick up an infantry assault team, and retake the American Embassy which had been overrun during the night. Of course, none of us had been to the American Embassy so we were playing this by ear. We did eventually find the building (after first attempting an approach to the Presidential Palace) and discharged our troops. The roof was small and could only accommodate one aircraft at a time. While orbiting above the Embassy the ammo dump in Long Binh exploded. It looked like an A-bomb had been dropped (mushroom cloud, shock wave, the works). Everyone who took part in the retaking of our Embassy received the Air Medal with "V" Device.


The next three days were spent in the air, almost nonstop. B-52's were hitting the area between Bien Hoa and Phouc Vinh. We were constantly resupplying the fire support base at Song Be. It was like supplying hell. Every time you landed and shut down the aircraft to stand by, snipers would try to pick you off from one of the surrounding hills. The place was made up of red clay. When you came back from Song Be you were as red as a sunburned American Indian. After a shower you were back to your natural color.

 Click on thumbnail photos below to see the full size image

 The tents in the holes were the A Co. area at Camp Eagle in early February 1968

Photo by Howard Klein

The flight line at Camp Eagle in late February or Early March 1968. The 801st Maint Hanger in the background.

Photo by Howard Klein

Camp Eagle June '68

Photo by Howard Klein

Provided by Milo Overstreet

"A" co 101st landing troops on the embassy during Tet 68. 

They are from the Life magazine Feb.9. 1968 issue. 

Provided by Milo Overstreet

A" co 101st landing troops on the embassy during Tet 68. 

They are from the Life magazine Feb.9. 1968 issue. 

Provided by Milo Overstreet

Combat Assault in trail formation, 1968

Photo by Howard Klein

1/2 of a team flying in pairs around Vehgel April '68

Photo by Howard Klein


February 1968 marked our total deployment to the Hue/ Phu Bai area. The Marines had just had a hard time in the old Imperial Capital and the 101st was sent to I Corp to relieve them. Our new Company Area was to be built around a grave yard not far from the small PSP landing strip used by the Marines. This would be our home for the next year (and then some). The new base camp would be called Camp Eagle. It was certainly different then Bien Hoa. The only permanent structure was "dirt." The engineers dug holes with their plows and we pitched our tents in them. It wasn't pretty but it was home.


Over the next month we built a refueling area by burying 3000-gallon fuel bladders on a tiered area that was plowed and pina-primed (solid tar). We stole enough plywood (another story in itself) to put floors in our tents, build a mess hall, a half assed "O" Club, and EM Club. Life was starting to become almost human.


Missions were tough. The areas we worked were mountainous with lousy weather conditions. The monsoon season was on us with rain and fog almost every day. Units we had to resupply were fogged in on top of mountains or on the sides of them. The Division was busy building a series of fire support bases right up to the edge of the A Shau Valley. Birmingham, Bastogne, T Bone, Vehgel, and an observation/radio relay station, on a 5000' mountain, called the Eagle's Nest. We were just as busy as the Division, supplying the troops at these FSB's.


It was a hot area. Camp Eagle had a really hellacious rocket attack in mid April. The new A Company mess hall building was well ventilated with shrapnel, as was the kitchen equipment within it. Headquarters Company had to feed us for a week until we could put ourselves back together. Charlie was bringing rockets down the Perfume River in sampans and hitting us on a regular basis until the Eagle's and the Black Angels (B Company) got together for an unauthorized Firefly Mission. One night they took out every sampan they could find on the river and adjoining waterways. The secondary explosions were impressive and the rocket attacks stopped abruptly.


That same month we lost our first aircraft. Brian Philbert and his crew were blown out of the sky just east of FSB Vehgel. The aircraft and crew remains weren't found until August. It hit us hard. Brian was one of the original Eagle's who deployed from Ft. Campbell.


The Division was undergoing some massive changes. It was transitioning from an Airborne Division to an AirMobile Division. The 158th Aviation Group was absorbed by the Division and A Company was redesignated "A Co., 101st Assault Helicopter Battalion." We also got a new Commanding General, Battalion Commander, and Company Commander. Platoon leaders were also changed. Rated aviators who were on loan to Battalion to fill unrated administration slots were released to go back to A Company. It was a whole new ball game.


Combat assaults became a way of life and we flew them in some of the tightest formations you have ever seen. Overlapping rotor blades were not uncommon. Some of our LZ's had to be made with "Daisy Cutters" just prior to our landing. It did get exciting at times. Like when the 3rd Brigade uncovered a heavily defended NVA hospital complex just outside of FSB T Bone. The resupply area we had to go into was so tight you had to fly in forward on a slope (half way up a mountain) and back out under heavy fire. Whistling rotor blades were not uncommon.


August 4, 1968, found us on our first massive assault into the A Shau Valley. Our Company Commander, Major Balberde, flew the C&C Aircraft that coordinated our assault ships. We picked up our troops a the road adjacent to FSB Birmingham and lifted off inroute to the Valley. Each lift consisted of 10 ships. The 1st Cav's April A Shau Valley assault taught us the lesson of  "don't come in high." They had 60 aircraft lost of damaged from a high assault. We came in low level over the valley wall and right to the valley floor. Our assault was so quick that we hit the LZ before our own artillery was turned off. More then one of us had a little shrapnel damage on that first lift. It definitely increased the "pucker factor." On a whole the assault was a success. We did lose our old 3rd Platoon Leader, Gary Higbee, who had transferred to the Black Angels, when his gunship was hit with an RPG. He was really a great guy and I truly miss him, even after more then 30 years.


A Company started pulling all sorts of wild missions after that. We resupplied the Marines at Khe Sanh from time to time during the siege. We worked with the 5th Special Forces out of My Loc with LRRP insertions and extraction's in Laos. "Prairie Fire Emergency" was not a term you wanted to hear when you pulled one of those missions. It meant that the team you were on standby for was hopelessly surrounded and you had to go get them. It was a 3 ship extraction mission. The first ship would make the extraction. If he got shot down, the second ship would pick up the LRRP's and the crew. If the second ship got shot down, the third ship carried the medic and would evacuate the wounded. Everyone else stayed on the ground and fought until help arrived (you could suck up your armored seat on one of those missions). We usually went in with 3 "slicks", a Light Fire Team, a pair of F-4's, and a team of A-1E's. The A-1E's would sterilize the LZ after the extraction. This was not the type of mission you would want to lose your cherry on.


That's how things remained until I rotated home in December of 1968. I never had a Commanchero Call Sign. Some of us "old timers" had given ourselves nicknames, which we used from time to time on some of our two ship missions. After Brian Philbert was killed we flew in pairs until the Division secured the AO a little better. Names like Crucifix 6, Mighty Mite, Kosher Eagle, and Boom Boom are a few that have endeared themselves to me. Other then that Eagle 115 will always be the Call Sign I liked the best.


Warmest regards,

Howard Klein

Eagle 115/Kosher Eagle 

Co. A, 101st Avn Bn (The Eagles)

Sept. 1967 - Dec. 1968


Formation Flying through the A Shau Valley - Photograph by Hermie Schindler



(Colonel, USA, Retired) Dennis P. "Duke" Vasey remembers his tour:


I joined A/101 AVN Bn in August 1967 while they were at Fort Campbell, KY. Not long after my arrival we deployed to Bien Hoa. Then, in late Feb, 68, we sent elements forward to Phu Bai; later we relocated to Camp Eagle.

As maintenance officer, I used "Knobdicker" from Dec. 67 until DEROS in Nov 68. Flight, and single aircraft, missions followed standard ATC call sign terminology, i.e., Army 12345, and were of no particular significance while we operated under the 101st AVN Bn.

The division was reconstituted Airmobile, in Jul. 68, and several separate theater aviation elements were reorganized under the 160th Avn Gp—later renamed the 101st Aviation Group. At that point, old habits were hard to break, and the newly joined units used their unit call signs.

A/101 Avn Co did not have a distinctive call sign while I was assigned to the unit and, it is my recollection that we used anything and everything to depart and return to "cloud 9" or the "membrane."

(Colonel, US Army, Retired) Dennis P. "Duke" Vasey, Knobdicker

Aircraft Maintenance Officer

Aug. 1967 to Dec. 1968


The well-known beer symbol was thanks to the efforts of John Bednarz. 

The “A” stood for A Company, the eagle for the 101st, and the star because we were the best.

Comanchero 23, Provided by Andre` D Thomas, Comanchero 23


John Bercaw, Co. A, 101st Avn Bn. 01-1968 - 09-1969 remembers his tour;


I served with A/101 from mid-January, 1968 until September 1968. The original call sign was just "Eagle" and the last three tail numbers or, at least, that's what we used. We also had a different patch it was rather crude (see A/101 AVN patch page) We were not allowed to wear flight suits as we were expected to look like the rest of the troops. They didn't want an elitist unit. It was a source of much grumbling among the pilots. Warrant Officers were treated differently than the regular officers and that also caused some ill will among the pilots. We weren't real officers. We were thrown together in a hootch that was very crowded.


Initially, A/101 was at Bien Hua. We didn't go North until after Tet had begun. Only two aircraft were sent then. I was in one of them. Later, a few more were sent. We supported the First Brigade, which was a fine outfit.


There was no Camp Eagle until sometime around March 1968. I believe that my aircraft was the first (or one of the first) to land at that location. There was nothing there at all at that time. The rest of the company did not go North until shortly after that. We kept a contingent at Phuoc Vinh (spelling?) (just North of Bien Hua) all of the rest of the time I was there.


John Bercaw, Eagle

Co. A, 101st Avn Bn

01-1968 - 09-1969

 More pictures of this and other eras of A/101 Avn



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