Casper aviation platoon Casper Platoon Story

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Reprinted from: Fire Base 173 Newspaper 1968

BONG SON, RVN - On the northern edge of LZ English lays Ghost Town.  Unlike most, It's not inhabited by spirits or wraiths but by the men of the Casper Aviation Platoon.

The only separate aviation platoon in the Army, its primary mission is to provide commanded and control ships for the brigade and to fly reconnaissance and scout missions.  In addition to its six Light Observation Helicopters (LOH) or "Loaches," Casper has been beefed up with eight "Huey-Slicks."

However, since the platoon arrived in Vietnam with the Brigade in 1965, it has flown nearly every type of mission including mdevacs, "Snoopy," Psyops, combat assault, resupply and "mad bomber" missions.

However, since the platoon arrived in Vietnam with the Brigade in 1965, it has flown nearly every type of mission  including mdevacs, "Snoopy," Psyops, combat assault, resupply and "mad bomber" missions.

According to Captain Stanley H. Streicher of Cincinnati, the platoon commander, there are both advantages and disadvantages in being separate from any aviation brigade in the group.

"Set apart from the other aviation units," he said, "we pretty well have to stick together and cooperate to keep our ships flying.  Of course, this makes us self-sufficient and closely-knit group with a very high morale."

"A lot of the enlisted men in the platoon keep on extending until their tour of service is over because they like it so well here.  I, myself, extended because I like being with the 173d and having my own platoon to command," he continued.

I feel flying with Casper is an especially valuable experience for the aviator because of the great variety in our missions.  It never really gets boring."

New Pilots fresh out of flight school coming into the platoon are paired off with an experienced pilot and familiarized with flying techniques in Vietnam.  As one of put it, "They just don't have enough time to teach all you need to know in flight school.  But you learn quickly over here out of necessity."

A Standardization Instruction Pilot takes each new aviator up for a check ride when he first comes in- country to see how he performs.  Then when he is considered ready and experienced enough to become an aircraft commander, he must pass another check ride.

There is an aircraft commander assigned to each helicopter in the platoon.  He is responsible for the welfare of the crew and passengers and also makes sure that the craft is kept in the best possible condition at all times.

The crew chief, who handles one of the M-60 machine guns, is personally responsible for insuring that the aircraft's necessary maintenance is performed.  He tells the mechanics what work needs to be done and either supervises the work or does it himself, usually with help of his door gunner.  He accompanies the chopper wherever it goes, whether it be to Lane Field outside of Qui Nhon for repairs, or opcon to another unit, as the six Loaches are at Phan Thiet.

"The crew chiefs usually start out as ground mechanics," said Specialist 4 Walter Perron of Barre, Mass., the Casper operations chief, who flew as door gunner and crew chief with the platoon for 18 months.  "They get experience working on the ships either at Lane Field or here."

"Then they are sent out on flights with veteran crew chiefs to learn their new duties.  When a slot opens up they are assigned to a ship until they leave the platoon," he continued.

Specialist 6 Darwin K. Russell of American Fall, Idaho, the Casper technical inspector, is on his second tour in Vietnam.  During his last tour he was assigned to an aviation company which supported the brigade.....

Footnote - The rest of this story is missing.  If anyone has a copy of it, please forward it to me - Webmaster.

Captain Stanley H. Streicher, Commanding Officer of Casper Platoon.