FLY DELTA’S BIG JETS
This story concerns the arrival of the Winged Warriors in Viet Nam, from the perspective of a pilot that joined the unit immediately after it was deployed to the Mekong Delta at Soc Trang International Airfield. My first unit was the 114TH Aviation Co. (AML) stationed at Vinh Long, on or about May 10 1965, I and several other pilots from the 114th were transferred to A Co. 101st Avn. Bn. as part of what was known as a “DEROS transfer”. This transfer allowed for a mix of “DEROS” or rotation dates so that any one unit would not be stripped of experienced personnel due to completion of their assignment in country (normally about 12 months after arrival). At the time of this transfer I had been in country for about three months, flying as a “peter pilot” in the 114th 2nd Platoon (White Knights). I already had my “cherry busted” by receiving hostile fire on several Combat Assaults (or as we lovingly referred to them “Rat Fucks”).
Upon arrival at Soc Trang we were immediately checked out in a new aircraft (at least to us), the famous “D Model” Huey (UH1D), which was bigger and more powerful than the UH1Bs that we had been flying. This was really great, we had new aircraft that could carry more troops and fly faster than the ubiquitous “B Model”. As I recall, these aircraft had not yet been fitted with mounts for the door guns, nor did they have any seat armor, of course the “B Models” didn’t have seat armor either so we really didn’t know any different. As we got used to flying these new aircraft and training for our first missions, we all thought that we were hot stuff, we would cruise around at 90 kts, making formation over flights of Vinh Long and Can Tho, just to announce our arrival. We even tried flying in a big “W” for Warriors! We were the only air assault company in the Delta to have these “D Model” Hueys, the other three companies all had “B Models” using them for slicks as well as Gun Ships. Our Gun Ship Platoon (The Thunderbirds) also was equipped with “B Model” aircraft.
After about thirty days of this “training”, we went active and started carrying our portion of the load in the Delta, flying “RFs” and general support missions. Sometime after going active, someone had the idea of getting, or had seen bumper stickers that read “Fly Delta’s Big Jets”, apparently Delta Airlines had a promotion going on at that time advertising some new capability or aircraft. Anyway some of these bumper stickers found their way to us and we mounted them on our “D Models”, on the front doors. It seemed very appropriate since our lift aircraft were bigger than the other companies; we were in the “Delta” and assigned to the “Delta Battalion”. We had a great time with this idea of “Flying Delta’s Big Jets”. As I remember the idea was well received and we used that for our Unit Motto while I was there.
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