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1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) in an adjacent area zipping about
all over."3*

Despite the massive and even decisive role the Marine helicopters
played in the resupplying of the Marine hill outposts at Khe Sanh, ground
officers elsewhere had complaints about helicopter support. Immediately
after the recapture of Hue, newspaper accounts circulated that Army
helicopter pilots flew under more adverse conditions than Marines. In
response to a criticism in one article about a 500-foot ceiling limitation
during the battle, Major General Anderson wrote that the wing placed
such restrictions on "all aircraft operations subject to the exigencies
of the tactical situation." The wing commander remarked the reason for
the 500-foot ceiling was "because of the extreme vulnerability to enemy
fire of low flying helicopters . . . ." He then argued that the "Army
UH-1 type aircraft has more capability for contour flying than the CH^6
and was therefore occasionally useable when the CH-46 was not . . .
."** Even with the deplorable flying conditions during much of the battle
of Hue, Anderson pointed out that the Marine helicopters flew 823 regular
sorties, transported 1,672 passengers, carried more than a million pounds
of cargo, and conducted 270 medical evacuation sorties, lifting out
977 casualties. More to the point, he maintained provisions existed
in the order to override the flying restrictions when the tactical situation
demanded. General Anderson admitted, however, "that this proviso, in
all honesty was little known or understood. The order is widely distributed,
but little read."4***


By April 1968, Brigadier General Earl E. Anderson, the III MAF Chief of Staff and also an aviator,

* Colonel David S. Twining, who as a lieutenant colonel commanded Marine
Air Control Squadron 4 in 1968 and earlier served in the Dong Ha DASC,
agreed with General Anderson that to an extent the difference between
Marine Corps concepts of helicopter usage and that of the Army was based
on "Marine Corps conservatism as a result of having far fewer helicopter
assets." Twining, nevertheless, claimed that Marine Corps "helicopter
doctrine or practice in Vietnam was not only conservative but relatively
unimaginative." While seating that the Marine Corps was the "first of
the services to institute a program to work out helicopter combat techniques,"
he believed that internal divisions within the Marine aviation community
between fixed-wing and helicopter pilots hampered Marine helicopter
innovation. In Twining's opinion, "it was only due to the insistence
of the ground community and the Commandant himself, that we entered
the war with the helicopter inventory that we had and this proved to
be insufficient for the innovative tactics that we might have otherwise
developed." Col David S. Twining, Comments on draft, dtd 15 Nov94 (Vietnam
Comment File). Lieutenant Colonel Thomas F. Miller, who served on the
MAG-16 staff and commanded a helicopter squadron in 1968, was unimpressed
with the Army helicopter organization and tactics. According to Miller,
some Army helicopter operations "anticipated aircraft losses of up to
25% of the first assault wave. I don't believe the Marine Corps would
ever consider accepting such losses." LtCol Thomas F. Miller, Comments
on draft, dtd 7Dec94 (Vietnam Comment File), hereafter Miller Comments.

** One experienced Cti-^6 helicopter pilot suggested that the CH^6
has the same capability as the HU1 as far as contour flying, but that
the Army helicopter was smaller and able to fit into tighter landing
zones than the larger Marine craft. LtCol Dale Johnson comments to author.

*** In a contemporary letter. Brigadier General Earl E. Anderson,
the III MAF Chief of Staff, expressed the following opinion about the
subject: "Regardless of what we said in our official response, the fact
remains that if the weather isn't above 1,500 feet and two miles, the
mission has to be declared a priority one before the Wing will fly.
If the weather is 500 feet and a mile, the requesting organization must
declare an emergency before the helicopters will fly. If the weather
is less than 500 feet and one mile, and if helicopters are required,
the mission must be declared as mandatory, and the only two individuals
who can approve a mandatory mission are the Wing Commander and the Commanding
General III MAF. I should say, they were [emphasis in the original)
the only ones who could approve such a mission, because following my
investigation of certain allegations made during the Hue battle, General
Anderson, at General Cushman's insistence, expanded the individuals
who could approve a mandatory mission to include the two Assistant Wing
Commanders, and the Chief of Staff, III MAF." Anderson concluded that
even this was "not adequate. The helicopter pilots will fly, and do
fly, in almost any kind of weather, but to require a requesting unit
to go to the Wing Commander or the III MAF Commander to have a mission
flown, when the ceiling is 400 feet, does not seem to be justified."
BGen E.E. Anderson Itr to MajGen McCutcheon, dtd 14Mar68, End, Gen.
Earl E. Anderson, Comments on draft, dtd 18Dec94 (Vietnam Comment File).
Lieutenant General Richard E. Carey, who as a lieutenant colonel commanded
a fixed-wing squadron in 1968 and also served on the 1st MAW staff,
recalled that during the battle for Hue a "CH46 did not do a MedEvac
because of an extremely low ceiling (allegedly on the ground). At wing
we were notified that a Huey had done the Med Evac for us because of
our 500-foot restriction. We reiterated the proviso about exigencies
of the tactical situation but too late. Unfortunately, this incident
gave an impression that the Army provided better helo support than us.
The 1st Cav observation helos buzzed around at low altitudes further
emphasizing the difference in equipment, numbers of birds, and methods
of operations, which certainly didn't enhance our support image to Marine
ground units." LtGen Richard E. Carey, Comments on draft, dtd 12Dec94
(Vietnam Comment File). Several Marine helicopter commanders emphasized
their willingness to fly under adverse conditions. For example. Lieutenant
Colonel Walter H. Shauer, who commanded HMM-362, wrote, "We were mission
oriented merely flying in whatever weather, terrain, or combat situation
in a manner ro accomplish the mission. In my briefings the only restriction
was attempt no mission that you were not capable of performing, otherwise,
attempt it later when you could get thru." LtCol Walter H. Shauer, Comments
on draft, dtd l Nov94 (Vietnam Comment File), hereafter Shauer Comments.
See also Col Roger W. Peard, Comments on draft, dtd 9Dec94 (Vietnam
Comment File), hereafter Peard Comments and LtCol Jack E. Schlarp Comments
on draft, dtd 21Nov94 (Vietnam Comment File), hereafter Schlarp Comments.






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