Original document prepared by
CPT Charles N. Larsen
1LT David M. Nelson
1LT Douglas S. Toschi
CW2 Terry L. Weber
Jerry T. Wagner MAJ, IN Commanding
The officers and men of the 57th have shown such courage, dedication and professionalism that the "Gladiators" have developed a reputation for accomplishing any mission, at any time, in spite of any adversities. However, the 57th is not content to let its reputation go unchallenged. Our motto, "Combat Proven, Try Us", is an open invitation to all to test the 57th "Gladiators" and learn that these officers and men are soldiers in the finest tradition of the Military service.
On 10 February 1967, the 57th was reorganized from an Airmobile Fixed Wing Company (CU-2) to an Assault Helicopter Company by General Order 52, Headquarters Third U.S. Army. The company consists of Company Headquarters, two Airlift Platoons, one Armed Platoon, and a Service Platoon. No units are currently attached to the 57th Aviation Company.
The 57th, by MTOE, is authorized 19 Commissioned Officers, 51 Warrant Officers and 219 Enlisted Personnel. These 219 men operate, maintain and secure a total of 23 UH-lH troop carrying helicopters and 8 UH-1C attack helicopters.
The following narrative is a chronological record of the successes of the 57th Aviation Company. It gives an insight into the obstacles that were met and overcome by the men of the unit. The men of the "Gladiators" and "Cougars" take distinct pride in our motto "Combat Proven, Try Us".
The first incident of the new year occurred on 14 Jan 1970 when an aircraft piloted by WO1 Weber was shot down near Kon Arong in support of the 5th Special Forces. Mr. Weber received light shrapnel wounds in the hand and right knee.
On 17 January 1970, the enemy once again found W0l Weber's aircraft. While flying on the FOB II for the 5th Special Forces, his aircraft received numerous hits. He was able to fly the aircraft back to Dak To. Two of the reconnaissance team members on board the aircraft were killed by the intense ground fire the aircraft received.
W0l John Crumb was wounded in the left leg on 29 Jan 1970 when the UH-1C he was flying was hit by a B-4O rocket. He was able to regain control of the aircraft and fly the aircraft from Kon Arang to Kontum.
As the month of January came to a close, W0l Weber again came under the enemies guns while on the FOB II mission. He was able to fly his aircraft to Ben Het although it was heavily damaged. One member of the reconnaissance team that was aboard the aircraft was seriously wounded.
On 1 February 1970, the 57th was asked to provide twelve lift ships and three gun ships for a night combat assault in the Kontum area. The lift was completed successfully, and the unit continued its outstanding work by meeting its FOB II commitment and six other missions the following day.
The month of February saw the 57th begin training the 170th Aviation Company to take over the FOB II mission. The 57th was scheduled to move to An Khe in the near future to support the 4th Infantry Division.
On 19 February 1970, WO1 Jones UH-1C gun ship received two B-40 rockets. The aircraft was damaged by shrapnel, but he was able to complete his mission before returning to Kontum.
By the end of the month, the training of the 170th Aviation was practically complete. The 57th began to make preparations for its move to An Khe.The move to An Khe was completed on 13 March 1970. All missions were completed that day, and the unit successfully completed moving in a twenty-four hour period.
On 26 March 1970, lLT Harvey was wounded in the thigh while flying a combat assault in support of the 4th Division. CW2 Williams flew the battle damaged aircraft back to the medivac pad at An Khe where 1LT Harvey was hospitalized.
On 6 April 1980, three weeks after their arrival in An Khe, the 57th was hit by a sapper unit of unknown size. Four aircraft were completely destroyed and another aircraft received major damage.
April began with the 57th Aviation Company leading the first flight of slicks into the Battle of Dak Seang. On 3 April 1970, the insertion was made which began the breaking of the siege. Intensive ground and mortar fire was received during the insertion, but the lift was completed with the loss of only one aircraft, that being from another unit.
There was to be no rest for the 57th, for on 6 May the unit inserted a large number of ground troops into Cambodia. Four aircraft were damaged and one destroyed in the intense enemy fire.
CPT Ross, the flight lead was shot down, but the insertion was continued into the landing zone and CPT Ross and his crew were extracted from the landing zone by another aircraft from the unit.
During the same insertion, WO1 Bivens, a copilot in the aircraft piloted by WO1 Steanbock, received a shoulder wound. His life was saved by his protective chest plate as it stopped the impact of the bullet.
After the initial insertion, ground fire began to lighten and the job of resupply, medivac, and recovery of enemy stores began. By early June all the United States troops the 57th had been supporting were withdrawn from Cambodia and An Khe once again became the primary area of operations.As a result of the performance of the 57th at Dak Seang and in the Cambodian campaign, numerous awards for valor were received. Battalion and Group bestowed letters of appreciation on the unit.
From the middle of June until the end of September, the 57th continued to act in support of the 4th Division. It participated in many combat assaults with superior results. Resupply and medivacs were constantly run to support ground troops in the Field. During these months, several aircraft received damage from ground fire, but suffered no casualties in the unit.
This was not to last indefinitely, as on 6 October 1970, an aircraft flown by WO1 Morris received heavy .51 caliber fire near landing zone Uplift. One passenger in the aircraft was wounded, and another killed during the intense fire.
On 11 October 1970, WO1 Taylor was flying a UH-1C in support of a combat assault near landing zone Crystal. He was critically wounded in the thigh and stomach by intense enemy ground fire. W0l Coffin, copilot of the aircraft, recovered the aircraft from an unusual attitude and flew the aircraft to the medivac pad at landing zone Uplift.
On 20 October 1970, WO1 Lenicka was flying a classified mission in support of the 5th Special Forces. The aircraft crashed and was destroyed by fire after the impact. The crew was recovered without injury.
By the end of October, the 57th aided the 4th Division in consolidation of its troops in preparation for stand down. With the stand down occurring, the 57th began preparations for its move to Pleiku.
On 15 November 1970, the advanced party was sent to Pleiku. The move was completed on 18 November and the 57th began its support of ARVN ground units in the Pleiku area.
November 22 became known as "Black Sunday" to all of the "Gladiators". While on a support mission for ground troops under siege at Plei Mei, WO1 Jeffery L. Coffin, piloting a UH-lC gun ship, was severely wounded in the head. He died enroute to the 71st Evacuation Hospital in Pleiku. WO1 Coffin was extremely well respected by all in the 57th and his loss was deeply felt by the whole company. Five more aircraft were damaged by fire the same day, with SP4 Walters being severely wounded in his leg. As the New Year approached, the 57th began preparations to take over FOB II. The unit was again being called on to it as a challenge they were willing to accept, and once again prove the superior combat capability of the 57th Aviation Company.
Christmas celebrated in a rousing manner, and a year of unprecedented service to the United States Army was looked forward to by all concerned.
BERNHARDT, JOE S. CPT DFC
RABY, JACK H. JR. CPT PH, AC/V, BS/V
ROSS, VAUGHN R. CPT PH
LARSEN, CHARLES 1LT AC/V, DFC
SMART, THOMAS F. 1LT AM/V
BIVEN, JERRY R. WO1 PH, AM/V
BRAINERD, CHARLES WO1 DFC, AM/V
COFFFIN, JEFFERY L. WO1 SS*, PH*, PH
HIGGENBOTHAM, CARTER WO1 AC/V, DFC
HOLTSCLAW, MICHAEL WO1 DFC
HUNSICKER, JOHN H. WO1 PH
JONES, PAUL T. WO1 AC/V, AM/V, SFC, PH, DFC
KIENENAPP, JAMES WO1 DFC
LENICKA, TERRY L. WO1 DFC
NEELEY, GARY L. WO1 AC/V, PH
PHOHAN, PATRICK WO1 AM/V
ROBERTSON, STEVE WO1 AM/V
SCHAUS, THOMAS E. WO1 DFC, DFC
SHANE, MICHAEL F. WO1 DFC
STAPLETON, JOHN G. WO1 AM/V
STEENBOCK, STANLEY WO1 DFC, AM/V
SULLIVAN, BRENDAN WO1 AM/V
TAYLOR, JOHMMY S. WO1 DFC, PH
UPHOFF, FREFRICK WO1 DFC
WILLIAMS, PAUL R. III WO1 PH
BENTHEIMER, DEAN R. SP5 AM/V
BLACKMORE, HARRY C. SP4 PH
BURKE, NORMAN SP4 AM/V
FRANCO, JOSEPH R. SP4 PH
HAMILTON, STEVEN R. SP4 AC/V
HESTER, STEVEN K. SP4 AM/V
HOOVER, GARY SP4 AC/V, PH
LORELLA, LOUIS SP4 AM/V
McCULLOGH, TIMOTHY L. SP4 BS/V, AM/V
NOLAN, MICHAEL W. SP4 AM/V
OLIVIER, WILLIAM SP4 AM/V
PORCHE, HENRY SP4 PH
VERASTGUI, ALFONSO SP4 AM/V
WATER, WILLIAM SP4 AM/V
CHAMBLISS, WILLIAM PFC AM/V, AM/V
CHUGON, ARLEY G. PFC AM/V
COLIN, JACKIE PFC AM/V
DAY, STEVEN PFC AC/V
FIRNSTEIN, CHARLES F. PFC AM/V
FUNES, THEODORE PFC AM/V
JOHNSON, LYLE PFC AM/V
OESTERRIECHER, EDWARD PFC AM/V
POWELL, JOE W. PFC AM/V
THOMAS, DAVID L. PFC AM/V