In the Beginning.............
Some Unit History before Arriving in Vietnam
Original Card of the 11th Air Assault. Congrats to SGT Oyler for keeping it.
(Photo courtesy of Sgt Oyler)
Lt. Robert D Sturdivant , Lt. Harry V. Smith, SSG Larry Stotts (sunglasses), Capt. John G. Gergulis, Sgt Thornhill. Picture taken of training in 11th Air Assault in "The World", prior to designation of the 1st Cav. Extensive testing, verification, and training of airmobile tactics was conducted prior to deployment.
(Photo courtesy of Sgt Oyler)
The 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry was constituted and activated 1 February 1964 at Fort Benning, Georgia, as an element of the 11th Air Assault Division, and the consolidated unit designated as the 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry, an element of the 11th Air Assault Division (Test) at Fort Benning, GA. It was inactivated on 30 June 1965 when the 11th Air Assault Division and 2nd Infantry Division were combined to form the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile), during which time the elements of both the 11th and 2nd were reflagged with new designations. This 187th was nick named the "Rakkasans", a term derived from a Post World War II Japanese attempt to describe paratroopers (falling down umbrella men).
Currently the Rakkasans are part of the 101st Airborne Division.
Quote from 11th Airborne Division History in Wikipedia
In the early 1960s, the United States Army began to explore alternative means by which it could conduct future conflicts, and one of the many ideas from the United States Department of Defense was the concept of helicopter assault. To investigate this concept's feasibility, the 11th Airborne Division was reformed on 1 February 1963 as a test-bed formation, and renamed the 11th Air Assault Division (Test). This was done on the recommendation of the U.S. Army Tactical Mobility Requirements Board, also known as the 'Howze Board' after its president Lieutenant General Hamilton H. Howze.
The 11th was reincarnated as a "light" division, capable of rapid deployment via air force or army aircraft, thereby completely recreating the organizational structure it had possessed when deactivated. Elements of its original combat units - the 187th Airborne Infantry, the 188th Airborne Infantry and the 511th Airborne Infantry - were also reformed under the new division.
For the next two years, the 11th Air Assault Division developed and refined air assault tactics and the equipment required to operate effectively in the role. The 187th and 188th tested helicopters during various exercises, ranging from command and control maneuvers to scouting, screening and aerial resupply, to assess their ability to perform as combat aircraft. However, the division was inactivated on 29 June 1965, with its personnel and equipment being merged with the 2nd Infantry Division to form the newly-raised 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile). The colors of the 1st Cavalry Division, at that time assigned to Korea, were transferred to Fort Benning.
Prior to deployment of the First Air Cavalry Division to Vietnam, the Army conducted extensive development and training to test and evaluate the idea of "air mobility" using the helicopter. The 11th Air Assault Division (Test ) was formed at Ft. Benning to achieve that goal. The members of Delta Company and the 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry who went to Vietnam were responsible for many of the tactics that were later used by the First Cavalry Division. These tactics met with such success on the battle field, that they became an ingrained part of the Army doctrine and were expanded to other Divisions.
As you read through these articles you will recognize many of the names who fought beside us in Vietnam. The articles also illustrate many aspects of the "stateside" activities, tactics development, and training that were a prelude to deployment.
"Click" on the newspaper articles to enlarge
This article refers to SSG Perpetua, who was a hero of the battle on Dec 17, charging machine guns, trying to protect his men. He was awarded the Silver Star for his self sacrifice. He had extended his stay in Vietnam to lead Recon.
This is a reference to SSG Rubio who was a Ranger and squad leader in Recon Platoon.
It is important to realize that the tactics developed here by Delta were fundamental to tactics used through the Vietnam War by the First Cavalry Division and other Divisions who increased their use of helicopters and airmobility. Some tactics were updated and modified in the crucible of combat. But from these humble beginnings, a new type of combat was born.