The 170th Assault Helicopter Company: "The Bikini's"

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The 170th Aviation Company (Light Airmobile) was activated September 1, 1965 at Fort Bennning Georgia under TOE1-77E (augmented)
by General Order 264, Third Army Headquarters dated August 25, 1965. It consisted of a headquarters section, and armed flight platoon
with eight (8) UH-1B helicopters, two flight lift platoons with twenty (20) UH-1D troop carriers (slicks) and a service platoon.
The 405th Transportation Detachment (TC), 448th Signal Detachment (SD), and the 755th Medical Detachment (MD) were attached.

Chopper Wars
This unit was to become one of the most elite helicopter units of the Vietnam War.

The lead-in of the TV sitcom "The A-Team" features a 170th helicopter landing a Special Forces team.
The VHS Tape "Chopper Wars" also has the same Video Segment but of a longer duration
showing several 170th Helicopters doing the troop insertion.
* press esc to Stop any Background Music playing prior to viewing these A-Team videos *
.mpg A-Team video lead-in (1,971kb)__Use Internet Explorer / Windows Media Player to view
.rm _A-Team video lead-in __(292kb)__Use RealPlayer to view

Phillip D. Chinnery's book, "Life on the Line", is dedicated with a poem written by a 170th
member that was later KIA, whose story is retold in the chapter, "Letters from Pleiku."
Life On the Line: Poem by 170th Member & Life on the Line: Chapter 26 Letters from Pleiku

W.E.B. Griffins fictional book "The Aviators" has the fictional hero coming from the 170th
and stationed in Pleiku.
The Aviators: Sample Pages

The tail section and tail rotor system from UH-1H #68-15262 are displayed in the 1st Aviation Brigade
Headquarter conference room at Fort Rucker, Alabama, dedicated to the men of the 170th.
It represents the heroism of ALL members of the 1st Aviation Brigade during the Vietnam War.

See www.SpecialOperations.Com - for information about RT Pennsylvania & Bikini Red Three

The 170th earned two Presidential Unit Citations, the Valorous Unit Award,
five awards of the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm,
and the Civic Action Honor Medal, First Class.
The men of the 170th earned numerous individual awards, however
Fifty Seven (57) Bikini's lost their lives.
And of the Nineteen (19) who were listed as Missing in Action,
pilot CW2 Lester Hansen still remains Missing in Action.
170th Prisoner of War, Pilot WO Roger Alan Miller , captured April 16th 1970 at the beginning of the battle at Dak Seang, was returned during Operation Homecoming in March 1973. Operation Homecoming

In November, the 170th departed Oakland, California on the USNS General John Pope. NAVSOURCE
Upon docking at Qui Nhon, South Vietnam on December 22, 1965
the 170th was initially assigned to the 10th Aviation Battalion.
On January 10, 1966 the company was redesignated the 170th Assault Helicopter Company
and assigned to the 52nd Aviation Battalion, the famed "Flying Dragons".

Upon deploying to Camp Holloway, Pleiku, in the Central Highlands of South Vietnam, the 170th joined the 119th AHC
and the 219th Aviation Company, a fixed-wing company. Sister assault helicopter company, the 155th AHC, was located in Bam Me Thout, a French rubber plantation south of Pleiku. The 52nd Aviation Battalion continued to grow as it was joined by the 179th ASHC a CH-47 unit, the 57th AHC, the 189th AHC, and in May 1969 the 361st Aerial Escort Company.

Camp Holloway

The men of the 170th were assigned the SOG mission,
later training crews of the 57th AHC in that mission,
as it was rotated between the two units for a period.
The 361st was exclusively equipped with Cobra helicopters that were the
daily fire support for the Bikini/Special Forces across the border operations.

361st Pink Panthers

The first Company Commander, [Sep '65 - Jun '66]
Major S.J. (Bud) Molkenbuhr Jr.
named the first flight platoon "Bikini Blue," the second flight platoon "Bikini Red"
and the armed helicopter platoon was named "Buccaneers" or "Bucs."
He named the company, the "Bikini's", as the naked, vulnerable, and exposed appearance of the slicks certainly fit that description.

Late one evening in November 1966
the second Bikini Company Commander, [Jun'66 - Dec '66]
Major George S. Murry
received orders the company was to move ASAP
to Tay Ninh, some 160 mile south of Pleiku.

The 170th packed up and by mid afternoon the following day was flying
in combat 160 miles south with the 25th US Infantry Division troops.
The Bikini's flew almost two weeks with the 25th Infantry.

As Major Murry said,
"The Can Do Attitude of the 170th's men resulted in the Bikini's
receiving more difficult missions than its fair share."

The third Company Commander, [Dec '66 - May '67]
Major L.E. Mabrey, a former Playboy illustrator, had custom graphics painted
on each aircraft nose.
The blonde "Annie Fannie" of Playboy fame wearing either a Red or a Blue Bikini
depending upon the flight platoon, standing beside a 52nd CAB Winged Dragon
was painted on the noses of the slicks while the Buccaneers had hand painted
skull and crossbones.

The forth Company Commander, [May '67 - 'Sep '67] Major Jack P. Doyle,
surreptitiously converted the Buc platoon UH-1B's, originally equipped with the 540 rotor system,
from the 900hp tyrbine engine to the 1100hp engine. And eventually the M-16 quad machine gun and rocket
systems were traded for the mini guns and rockets or the 40mm cannon of the UH-1C.
This allowed the Bucs, with their heavily loaded armed helicopters, to take off with the UH-1D slicks, at least
until the transport helicopters converted to UH-1H with the 1300hp engine. The high-density altitude of the
mountains of Laos, Cambodia, and the Vietnamese Central Highlands made flying conditions extremely
challenging when compounded by heavily loaded aircraft and enemy forces.

Major Jessie Stewart, was the fifth Bikini Six, [Sep '67 - Mar '68] wrote about 170th daily life:
"The 170 AHC was at one time or another assigned various missions.
It was assigned the mission of direct support of U. S. Army Infantry Divisions
and further assigned down to a brigade. Another mission was with U.S. Special Forces.
When I took command from Major Jack Doyle, the 170 AHC had just completed several months
in support of Long Range Recon Patrols with U.S. Army Special Forces.
These OMEGA missions were for the most part conducted within the geographical boundaries
of South Viet Nam. Additionally, the 170th AHC could be and was assigned in support
of Special Operations Group missions which were clandestine missions outside the borders
of South Viet Nam. The 170th AHC was also assigned the mission of general support for all
of II Corps. It was also assigned missions outside the II Corps area of operations such as
support of the Republic of Korea Infantry Divisions."

Others who guided the 170th Assault Helicopter Company's destiny:
The Sixth Bikini Commanding Officer, [ Mar '68 - Jun '68] was Major Cook
The Seventh Bikini Commanding Officer, [ Jun '68 - Oct '68] was Major Carl R. Jones
The Eight Bikini Commanding Officer, [ Oct '68 - Jul '69] was Major Donald A Roberts
The Ninth Bikini Commanding Officer, [ Jul '69 - Sep '69] was Major Raymond Harty
The Tenth Bikini Commanding Officer, [ Sep '69 - xxx '70] was Major Douglas H. Snell
The Eleventh Bikini Commanding Officer, [ xxx '70 - Oct '70] was Major Bill R. Ross
The Twelveth and "Final" Bikini Commanding Officer, [ Oct '70 - 16 March, '71] was Major George S. Crawford

Helicopter support was provided to the 4th US Infantry Division,
the 25th US Infantry Division, the 22nd ARVN Infantry Division,
and other units in Central Vietnam.
However the "Over the Fence" mission with the Special Forces FOB-2
Group (MACSOG) was paramount much of the time. This involved daily
operations in Cambodia and Laos inserting and extracting US Special
Forces led mercenary long range recon patrols deep in the mountainous
jungle along the Ho Chi Minh road network.

The 170th AHC was awarded the "Valorous Unit Award" for heroism during the period
May 28 through May 30, 1966 in the battle at Duc Co by DAGO #40, 1967.

For heroic actions from March 1, 1966 through March 26, 1967, the men of the 170th were awarded
the "Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm" by DAGO #21, 1969.

The 5th Special Forces Group also awarded Forty Two (42) Combat Infantry Badges to Bikinis.

April 1967 saw
the 170th issued the new UH-1H
with a 200hp increase in power,
desired because of the higher density air
of Vietnam's Central Highlands,
Cambodia, and Laos.

The 170th Bikini's and their new slicks earned a second "Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm"
for the period March 27, 1967 through May 17, 1968 by DAGO #46 and DAGO #21, 1969.

The "Presidential Unit Citation" was awarded for the period October 29 and 30, 1967 by DAGO #38, 1971.
And a second "Presidential Unit Citation" was awarded to the 170th for extraordinary heroism
in support of FOB-2 Group (MACSOG).

On January 21, 1970 the Bikinis moved
to Kontum airfield to replace the 57th AHC..
The Bikinis absorbed the 405th TC
and the 448th SD
while the 154th Medical Detachment
replaced the 775th MD
and an infantry platoon of the 52nd CAB
Security Force was attached.

The Headquarters Section became the "Bikini Dropouts"; 1st Flight Platoon became "Blue Snoopy";
2nd Flight Platoon adopted the "Red Baron" patch; the 3rd Flight Platoon remained "the Buccaneers" while the
Service / Maintenance Platoon became "Dry Dock". The Tech Supply Section adopted the "Instant Parts" patch;
the Motor Pool became "Bikini Wheels"; the 154th Medical Detachment proclaimed to be the "154th Mad
Medic's" and the Security Platoon wore the 52nd Security Force patch.

The third award of the "Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm"
was received for the heroism from January 1, 1969 through September 30, 1970
The forth "Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm" award was received
for the period of April 1, 1970 through June 26, 1970 by DAGO #11 1973.
A fifth award of the "Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm" was received
for the period of October 1, 1970 through stand-down by DAGO #6 1973.

The "Republic of Vietnam Civic Action Honor Medal, First Class" was awarded
to the 170th AHC for it's support of the Montagnard Hospital in Kontum
for the period July 1, 1970 through December 31, 1970 by DAGO #5, 1973.

November 28, 1970 saw the final Distinguished Service Cross being earned
for bravery in Laos awarded to 170th pilot, WO Mark Feinberg.
He also received the AVCO/Lycoming Aviation/Space Writers Association Award for Heroism,
that was presented at Wichita Kansas in 1971 during the AVCO/Lycoming Annual Convention.
170th Commanding Officer Major George S Crawford and 52nd Aviation Battalion Commander
LTC Ronald H Merrit were there to present the award.
170th Final Award of: Distinguished Service Cross

The 170th "Bikini's" also received many Commendations, those we currently have available are posted here.

The 170th AHC moved by motor convoy back to the relative safety of Camp Holloway, Peiku in February 1971.
The final Bikin flight by the final Commander, Major George S Crawford,
was from Camp Holloway to Kontum, to Dak To and Ben Het:
"Sadly, we didn't attempt a visit to Dak Seang, as it was too close to my DEROS." (George)
Tribute was paid to all those who served and to all those Bikinis that sacraficed so much.

DA-1 Morning Report The final DA-1 Morning Report was signed early in the morning mists on March 16, 1971
on the hood of the last Bikini jeep by Crawford, the last Bikini in Vietnam.
The 170th AHC was history to the United States Army and only memories to its warriors.

In October 2000, honoring all those who served in the Vietnam War, the 1st Aviation Brigade at Fort Rucker,
Alabama, enshrined the tail section and tail rotor of a Bikini slick that was shot down in Cambodia in 1970. The
remains of the crew and Special Forces reconnaissance team were located and buried with honors in August 2001.
Their display also includes the nose access battery panel of Bikini 26 from Kontum.
Our Bikini lady again rides "Above the Best."

170th 262 Memorial: POW/MIA Memorial Service At Fort Rucker - September 2000
170th 262 Memorial - Page 1 , 170th 262 Memorial - Page 2 , 170th 262 Memorial - Page 3