This site is dedicated to the men of: D Company, 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry, 1st Air Cavalry Division
- Vietnam Experience 1965 and 1966 *
- Gallant Warriors every one, and Brothers in Arms Who Made the Impossible Routine
"WHAT WE DO IN LIFE, ECHOS IN ETERNITY"
"I have today ordered to Vietnam the Airmobile Division." (July 28, 1965)
With those simple words, President Johnson announced to the world the deployment for which the division had prepared since its inception. On 16 August, the 1st Cavalry Division set sail from Charleston, South Carolina.
That same day, the 66th Regiment of the People's Army departed from their base camp along the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
On 1 November, as lead elements of the 66th Regiment crossed into South Vietnam using trails that followed the Ia Drang River, the 1st Cavalry Division's Recon elements and the 1st Brigade (the only Airborne brigade of the 1st Cavalry Division) captured the North Vietnamese 33 rd Regiment's field hospital 8 miles west of Plei Me. On that same day Delta Company Recon platoon engaged lead North Vietnamese elements in a vicious fire fight that resulted in three KIA and numerous wounded from Delta Company.
This was the first encounter with the NVA and resulted in providing intelligence which was then acted upon by the Division. On 12 November, Brigadier General Richard T. Knowles, the assistant division commander, ordered 3rd Brigade to conduct an air assault operation near the heart of a suspected enemy base camp on the Chu Pong Massif above the Ia Drang valley. This precipitated the famous battle of the Ia Drang Valley, perhaps the largest battle of the Vietnam War. The rest is history. But as often was the case, we were the first to find the enemy. We and the rest of the Division caused the North Vietnamese to abandon their initial strategy of cutting South Vietnam in half at the Central Highlands.
Most of us were barely out of high school six months prior to our arrival in Vietnam. Fortunately, we had Officers and NCOs who had excellent training and experience; some saw combat during earlier wars, some Ranger school, some Recondo, all of course Airborne. From them we learned what it took to complete our many missions and to survive. Without good leadership, fewer of us would have made it home. But nothing is perfect. War is a high risk business and we accepted those risks with bravery and determination.
We looked into the face of death many times. Sometimes we saw it in our dead friends, sometimes in our enemy, but death followed us everywhere. And sometimes we followed it. On every helicopter air assault it lurked. At every river crossing, at every bend in the trail, behind every bush, in every village, at Chu Pong, at Happy Valley, at Bong Son, death lurked. Many of us who are alive today were wounded. Many of us had malaria.
We "humped" the mountains of the Central Highlands through horrible conditions, popping salt tablets to stop heat stroke in 118 degree temperatures, and shivered in the cold high altitude of the monsoon soaked mountains. We slept in mud puddled holes dug at night for safety, and in trees like other primates, to avoid the leaches that incessantly stalked our blood. We ate C's all the time. A "happy meal" was a saved can of pound cake and fruit cocktail with maybe a cigarette to top it off. There was no such thing as a "good nights sleep".
Helicopters became as much a part of our lives as a horse was to a cavalry trooper of old. That very mobility enabled us to constantly stay close to the enemy. So we could never relax. We developed the heightened senses of jungle animals, acutely aware of unusual sights, sounds, and smells which might indicate a threat. We completed hundreds of air assaults, all into unknown areas, all with the possibility, and at times the reality, of a "Hot LZ". Some of us died. All of us lost friends who we grew to love in a way that only combat veterans can understand. But we did it all together, trusting one another with our lives.
Then, after what had been for most of us the most intense experience of our lives, we suddenly got on a plane and went home. We dispersed and went back to the world, leaving Vietnam physically; but never really leaving it entirely behind.
It is now the time, in our more advanced years, to reflect back with deserved pride. We did make the "impossible routine" . We had experiences that most people can not even imagine; and we now look back a little incredulously, wondering how we did it, but knowing that deep within us was the strength and courage to summon that airborne spirit which never gives up. We lived through a special kind of hell and formed strong bonds with one another because of it.
It is the purpose of this web site to provide a catalyst for thinking about, and perhaps celebrating, the daily accomplishments of what we did there in our youth. Nostalgia is a luxury meant to be enjoyed. Let's remember our friends and honor them together: "All the Way".
Sept 20, 1965 USS Geiger arrived at Qui Nhon. Each Company drew straws to see who would be given the privilege of " first to go ashore". Delta Company won. The troops then unloaded from a landing craft where they met the assistant Division commander, General B.G. Wright, waiting on the beach. From there we were transported by chopper and truck to An Khe.
Some of the advanced party arrived earlier on the USS Alexander Patch.
This was the Delta Company headquarters tent, set up soon after arrival at An Khe. Here we see SSG Hofmister and Sgt Oyler holding the sign the first day it adorned the company area.
* This web site does not exclude anyone who was in Delta 1/12th in Vietnam at any time. The impetus for this site comes from those who arrived in RVN during 1965. For this reason, the available data used to create this web site (primarily copies of our orders) limits the time period to 1965 and most of 1966. We are working to get more data for later 1966 and beyond.
This in no way diminishes the sacrifice and honor due those who served at a later time. They too are our brothers. This is forcefully attested by a review of later KIA lists, as well as the awards and decorations given to personnel from D Company, 1/12th. Three awards of the Medal of Honor were given to members of Delta Company 1/12th Cav. in Vietnam (Click on Links below to view the Medal of Honor info on these men.)This is extraordinary for this size unit. We are therefore open to expanding the time period covered, provided data is available. Contact the Webmaster at: email@example.com)
This site is a work in process and is very much under construction. It is meant to evolve. We are currently waiting for and initiating data requests from the National Archives to add detail to some of the most important events.