Saturday, May 28, 2011

Vietnam -- A time of war, a time of rememberance and a time to move on

Often, when I look back at what was going on, I remember and would like to point out now, that we weren't alone. Soldiers from other countries were there, too. 

The "Rocks" from Korea, Canadian soldiers and "Aussies" from Australia were also there fighting side by side with us -- that is when we weren't fighting each other.

Put soldiers from the 82nd Airborne with soldiers from the 101st Airborne into the same bar and, well, the bar didn't fair well after that. Egos clashed and bones and teeth took the brunt of the altercation.

But there was a more important ally supporting us every step of the way. And that was our parents.   Without them, aside from the obvious fact that we would have been there in the first place, many of us would not have been able to do the things we did. They were our moral support and they made us feel like there really was light at the end of the tunnel.

With Memorial day just around the corner, for all you mothers and fathers still alive today to read this, you are the real heroes for putting up with us and being there when we needed you the most.

As for the 4th Battalion, 77th Aerial Field Artillery, it became the 101st Airborne Division 's anwer to addressing the issue of countering the massive tank threat the WARSAW Pact had behind the East/West German wall.  

Today, with the WARSAW Pact no longer a threat, while the primary mission is to use Hellfire missiles to destroy tanks and to support soldiers on the ground with close range artillery support, the concept of a fast and mobile aerial platform has staid true with the attack helicopter.

It is something that all of us who were involved with the Aerial Rocket Artillery should be proud of.

This is what the 4th Battalion, 77th Aerial Field Artillery did before the colors were retired:

From Army Aviation Digest -- December, 1976

The formation of an attack helicopter battalion from divisional units was part of the answer by the 10lst Airborne Division (Air Assault) to provide a quick-fix to kill tanks on a mid-intensity battlefield.

The 4th Battalion (Attack Helicopter), 77th Field Artillery was formed in January 1976. It was tested at Fort Campbell, KY, in air assault tactics and deployed to Europe in August 1976 to participate in Reforger 76.

The unit performed superbly and was recognized for its highly professional employment against armored

Although many had expressed doubt that the unit could organize and train for such an exercise in this short time, the Soldiers of the battalion, like the bumblebee, didn't know that they could not. So, they ATTACKED to get the job done.

This article discusses the battalion's training, preparation, deployment and participation in Reforger 76 and some of the lessons learned. While much has been done, the surface has only been scratched.

The use of attack helicopters is only limited by the imagination of those who employ them against opposing forces.

At this point in my career with the military, not knowning this had happened, my focus was on convincing a LTC Gerald E. Lethcoe that I was going to be the 3rd Combat Aviation Battalion Public Information Officer (PIO) and I was about to put our Anti-tank AH-1S Cobra battalion in the homes of America via Hillery Brown of ABC News.

From the perspective of military history, it is our slice of American history that was written in the blood, sweat and, yes, tears of the soldiers who shared Vietnam as their home while serving their country.

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