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Last updated on 4/4/17

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B Troop, 7th Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment

Click here to visit B Troop, 17th Cavalry

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B troop 7/17

Blue's Scarf  - (Aerorifle Platoon)
Image courtesy of Rich Hefferman

Scalphunter Patch (Scout Platoon) '69 and later
Image courtesy of Rich Hefferman

Undertakers  insignia (Gun Platoon) '69 and later
Image courtesy of Rich Hefferman

My 37th Birthday present. I crashed this UH1C during a test flight at Camp Enari, near Pleiku on 6 Feb 1968, while assigned to B Troop 7/17th Air Cav Squadron. The cause of the accident was a maintenance error by our support maintenance. The tail rotor bearings were improperly installed causing me to lose control in a revetment. No serious injuries and I was flying again two days later. The good news- We received a complete rebuild on all our UH-1 revetments, making them lower and wider.
Image courtesy of Bill C Walton, Former Maintenance Officer, B Troop, 7/17th Air Cav

OH6G!!!! One day in the spring of 1968, in Pleiku, we ran completely out of UH-1C gunships in my unit, B Troop 7/17th Air Cav. With the assistant of our Armament Specialist Anthony Holmes I converted a OH6A into the now well known OH6G, complete with rocket pods and 40mm turret on the nose. Of course it was not flyable, could not even be hovered, but it did look Tough.
Image courtesy of Bill C Walton, Former Maintenance Officer, B Troop, 7/17th Air Cav

B Troop Maintenance- (L to R) SFC John C Bonds, CW3 Bill C Walton, Tech Inspector Sp6 Ora Miracle. Bonds and Miralce were two of the hardest working men that I was fortunate to serve with during my 30 year, plus, Army career. Maintenance Supervisor Bonds was like an old hen with 27 chicks (helicopters). And if one of them was not flyable, late returning from a mission/whatever he was very unhappy and wanted someone to do something about it.!! Sp6 Miracle was a "well of technical information" and shared it with all the B Troop maintenance personnel.
Image courtesy of Bill C Walton, Former Maintenance Officer, B Troop, 7/17th Air Cav

Beauty and the Beast- My wife, Krys, on the ramp at Ft Knox Ky in front of UH1C 66-15066. I flew this helicopter as "Tail-end Charlie Maintenance Officer" as the last aircraft in a flight of 57 UH1s that flew from Ft Knox to Stockton Army Depot CA, for deployment to Vietnam. About a week or so before we left 066 developed a fuel control problem (You had to start it in the emergency position or the engine would get hot) There were two Cavalry squadrons getting ready to depart Knox, 3/17 and 7/17, and parts were in short supply with no fuel controls available. My commander asked if I thought I could get 066 (His aircraft which he used for Command and Control) to California with the bad fuel control. I said I thought so and would give it a shot. I had a WO1 as a copilot for the trip and he got his share of time at the controls. But I made all the engine starts!!!. The only maintenance problem on the trip, for all the helicopters, was a tail rotor chip detector light on anothe helicopter in Texas. I solved that minor problem and we all arrived as scheduled in Stockton, including 066. It went to Vietnam with that bad fuel control and the CO flew it for about 6 weeks, before we could get it changed. Ah yes-The good old days Image courtesy of Bill C Walton, Former Maintenance Officer, B Troop, 7/17th Air Cav

B Troop Maintenance Officers: From Apr 1967 to Jan 1968 my brothers and I were the Maintenance Officers for B Troop 7/17th. I am in the middle and I took care of the UH1Cs, plus overall responsibility. Wilhelm, on the right, took care of the UH1Hs, and Willie (left) solved all the OH6A maintenance problems. In Jan 1968 Fred Wilson joined our Maintenance section and I sent my brothers elsewhere. This is a Polaroid triple exposure made outside the Maintenance Tent in Pleiku.
Image courtesy of Bill C Walton, Former Maintenance Officer, B Troop, 7/17th Air Cav

B Troop's aircraft parking area was divided by two deep drainage ditches. The Maintenance tent was on the south end of this area, which meant we had to negotiate these two ditches in the dark when returning to the sleeping area at night. Larry O Banks (L) and I demonstrate just how deep they were. Banks was a Allison engine Tech Rep and he provided invaluable service in helping us maintain our OH6As the first few months in country. He was authorized to do Depot Level Maintenance and he didn't mind getting his hands dirty. After about three months bridges were built across these ditches and we held a small celebration!
Image courtesy of Bill C Walton, Former Maintenance Officer, B Troop, 7/17th Air Cav

Sp5 Jesus Hernandez, one of the mechanics in B Troop's Maintenance Section, repacks a UH-1 shortshaft in the "Maintenance Library" Hernandez will always be remembered for his wonderful sense of humor, because no matter how much work was to be done, he always joked about our problems. He is also noted for "Taking Six at Six" as he reenlisted for Six Years at Six Thousand feet over Camp Enari, near Pleiku. With a mechanic named Jesus and a Tech Inspector named Miracle I felt real good about the Maintenance situation in B Troop.
Image courtesy of Bill C Walton, Former Maintenance Officer, B Troop, 7/17th Air Cav

Capt Jim Longhofer, Scout Platoon Leader of B Troop, walks along Main Street in our first cantonement area after arriving in Pleiku. Notice the pavement, the curbing and the nice landscaping!!! The guys in background are not preparing BBQ. Actually the tents with floors that we had for quarters were much better than I had expected.
Image courtesy of Bill C Walton, Former Maintenance Officer, B Troop, 7/17th Air Cav

OH6A Repair-Two B Troop mechanics work on the tail rotor system of a OH6A in one of the Scout "Hangars" We had a maintenance shelter on top of come conex containers and this was big enough to get a UH1 helicopter in so it could be worked on in relative comfort, but the OH6As were left to fend for themselves and maintenance was performed either in the revetments or on the PSP pad in front of the Maintenance Tent. To me this photo looks like two Monks working on a religious Icon and believe me these guys were every bit that serious. B Troop submitted over 150 Equipment Improvement Requests (EIRs) on the OH6A suggesting some mechanical changes that would make it a better aircraft, and I feel sure that every unit that had them did the same.Some of the suggested changes showed up in later production aircraft, Rotor Head with sling loading eye built in, improved exhaust system and metal tail rotor blades. B Troop also had the first OH6A in Vietnam, according to the Army Aviation Heritage Foundation. But I wonder about how this was determined, since the lst OH6A to leave the carrier off of QuiNhon immediately made a right turn and crashed in South China Sea, and it didn't belong to B Troop. The pilot survived and all he got out of it was a broken thumb, as I recall
Image courtesy of Bill C Walton, Former Maintenance Officer, B Troop, 7/17th Air Cav

Parade Formation- B Troop took time out from a very busy pre-Vietnam training schedule at Ft Knox KY, to participate in a early spring parade in 1967.
Image courtesy of Al Iller, B Troop's First Commander via Bill C. Walton

You Call, We Haul - Scout pilot Lt Freddie Wilson unloads a OH6A full of 2.75" rockets at a field site northwest of Pleiku, in Dec 1967. In January 1968 Freddie became a part of the Circle Red X Ranch (B Troop) Maintenance Team and his two years experience flying the OH6A were of great value to the maintenance effort.
Image courtesy of Bill C. Walton

Maintenance Chit Chat- Sp6 Ora Miracle,(standing) B Troop's Tech Inspector, talks over UH1C maintenance with the Crew Chief of 66-733 Sp Grantham. Miracle was not one to hang around the maintenance tent waiting on "problems" to show up. He "cruised" the helicopter parking revetments offering maintenance tips and assisting with hands on help if required.
Image courtesy of Bill C. Walton

OH6 at Kontum- One of our OH6As, flown by WO Ron Nelson (right) had a maintenance problem at nearby Kontum. WO Larry Shelton (left) and I flew with a part and a Tech Inspector, Sp5 Jonathan "Grandfather" White (foreground), to Kontum and got it flyable again. We did not have the parts or people to send out with our daily unit missions, we operated on a "you call-we come" basis and this worked quite well. Sp5 White is noteworthy for two reasons, he was the oldest man in the 7/17th Air Cavalry Squadron and he was the only crewchief ever left behind in a "hot" landing zone.. On 8 Feb 68, during the TET offensive we had a OH6A shot down near Kontum. Lt Fred Wilson and I flew the recovery aircraft, White was a crew chief on the 2d UH1-H that was used to pick up the OH6 recovery team, after they had rigged the aircraft for sling loading. Everything went well, Fred and I picked up the OH6A and departed. But somehow, when White's aircraft departed, he was still on the ground!!! This shortage was not immediately discovered and when it was there was a fire fight going on in the area and the crew didn't think they should go back in. It took White about 2 1/2 days to make it back to Camp Enari and he was ready to "kick some ass" when he finally showed up. The aircrew apologized to him and the Troop Commander counseled them about their responsibilities.
Image courtesy of Bill C. Walton

Engine Wash: An important part of the preventive maintenance program on the OH6A aircraft was a weekly internal engine wash with hot, soapy water. While someone cranked the engine the soapy water was poured slowly into the engine intake, resulting in cleaning out some of the Pleiku dust and heliport penta-prime. The end result was bubbles out the exhaust pipe and better engine performance. It was quite a procedure to get the hot water, but my jeep driver Herman DeAtley knew where to get it.Since we had 10 OH6s we tried to do one or two a day, every day. We used Tide washing powder and I decided to send Tide a letter and picture with the cutline" Dirt can't hide from intensified Tide, even in Vietnam" I thought maybe the manufacturer would send us a case or two of this product, but all we got was a "Thank you for Using Tide" letter.
Image courtesy of Bill C. Walton

Maintenance Meeting- SFC John Bonds (right) B Troop's Maintenance Sgt, explains to Maj Thiring, 7/17 Squadron Maintenance Officer, that is is very difficult, if not impossible, to maintain flyable aircraft without a minimum of spare parts. Lt Fred Wilson,( 2d from left) and the Squadron Maintenance NCO (rear) wait to add their 2 cents to the discussion. Cannibalization is not a good way to have to maintain flyable aircraft, but since we had very few spare parts the first few months in Vietnam, we made it work and accomplished our mission.
Image courtesy of Bill C. Walton

1st Aviation Brigade sleeve patch and "Undertaker" gun platoon patch. Notice how the letters are off-set to allow for the call sign to be embroidered into the patch after issued.
Image courtesy of Larry Vieley, Undertaker 23

Cobra "Back Seat" instrument panel.
Image courtesy of Larry Vieley, Undertaker 23

It is a motley bunch taken at Phan Thiet. I am on the far left with the 2.75 inch FFAR in my hand.
Image courtesy of Larry Vieley, Undertaker 23

"Undertaker" Gun Platoon Scarf worn by Larry Vieley, Undertaker 23- "I'm not really sure how we got the scarves. I think somebody had them made up in a store in Phan Thiet or possibly Pleiku. As I recall, we wore them for a while and then after the novelty wore off, we quit wearing them. I think some wore the Stetsons, but I didn't like them because they were not handy to wear. The rotor wash was always blowing them and they got crushed easily in the rear area of the Cobra. If I remember correctly, they were also expensive to buy. I personally did not have one. I think they were ok for rear areas, but it seemed like we were always living out of a duffle bag."
Image courtesy of Larry Vieley, Undertaker 23

Rectangular marking (noted by yellow arrow) and nose door art indicate this is a Lift ship from B troop, 7/17 Cavalry , "Ruthless Riders"
Image courtesy of John Jones, information courtesy Steve Shepard


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