False Insertions in RVN

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Spartan

False Insertions in RVN

Post by Spartan »

I've read a few books about Rangers in Vietnam and how false helicopter insertions were used, primarily to confuse the enemy about where a team was inserting by doing a brief hover over several LZs on the way to the actual spot that you would get off the birds to begin your mission.

I have a couple of questions in regards to this and I hope you can let me know:

- On any of the false insertions you guys did, did the enemy ever fire up the bird you were riding in?

- Did the birds ever continue to do false insertions after you unloaded, say at a couple of follow on LZs?

- Did the pilots also practice this procedure when coming out to make pickups, assuming of course, that he was not racing towards a hot PZ to extract a team under fire?

- Did any teams ever make a mistake and get off a helo at the wrong point, on what was intended to be a false insertion? If so, what then?

Thank you.

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Steadfast
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Re: False Insertions in RVN

Post by Steadfast »

Ranger Spartan wrote:I've read a few books about Rangers in Vietnam and how false helicopter insertions were used, primarily to confuse the enemy about where a team was inserting by doing a brief hover over several LZs on the way to the actual spot that you would get off the birds to begin your mission.

I have a couple of questions in regards to this and I hope you can let me know:

A. - On any of the false insertions you guys did, did the enemy ever fire up the bird you were riding in?

B. - Did the birds ever continue to do false insertions after you unloaded, say at a couple of follow on LZs?

C. - Did the pilots also practice this procedure when coming out to make pickups, assuming of course, that he was not racing towards a hot PZ to extract a team under fire?

D. - Did any teams ever make a mistake and get off a helo at the wrong point, on what was intended to be a false insertion? If so, what then?


To make things simple in reference to, I took the liberty to assign a letter (A. B., C., & D.) to each item.

Question A. - On any of the false insertions you guys did, did the enemy ever fire up the bird you were riding in?

Answer A. First let me explain the aircraft we were using. Simply Huey's. We 4 would be sitting with our legs out, 2 on each side. We as a rule traveled with 3 Huey's during insertions. Two were considered gun ships and one was the ferry carrying us. The false insertion didn't have to be by the Huey carrying the team. On one mission, we had two teams on one Huey. I watched one of our gunships go down near the ground and bank underneath our Huey and I turned and looked out the other side but didn't see it. I just figured it turned before becoming visible to me. But it was shot down. This particular incident I wrote about on airborne ranger dot com. Ah had to research to find it. I posted it on 1 Jan 04. Here it is as posted: Another time, We had two teams aboard a huey ready to do two insertions. Another huey swooped down low underneath us as I watched this huey disappear from my sight. I turned to watch the huey rise but he was nowhere for me to see. I just figured he either banked left or right. I was tapped on the shoulder and informed to leave my backpack on the huey as one of our huey was shot down. The 3rd huey traveling with us flew down to retrieve the downed crew and the 2 pilots and 2 door gunner were holding onto the slick as it rose from the jungle. One of the pilots fell off the skid 100 feet back into the jungle. Our two teams were inserted not far from where it happened. There was no LZ, it was a high leap, more than 30 feet down with full LBE. I got hurt, thought i broke my leg and was left behind by downed huey. My 7 mates, faces painted made their way thru the jungle only to have the pilot run from our people. Obliviously he was in shock with only one thought to escape. All this going on while we were in hot AO. It was 45 minutes before a rifle platoon was brought in to help find our lost pilot. A LOH came in and got me and brought me back to 4th MED EVAC. The sad thing is the pilot was never found after the brief sighting by our teams.
In conclusion I offer my ~S~ in memory of this aviator.

Question B. - Did the birds ever continue to do false insertions after you unloaded, say at a couple of follow on LZs?

Answer B. As a rule of thumb I might glimpse the Huey rising back up. My thoughts were immediately thinking how perilous insertions are and honestly can't say what the huey's did after we were inserted. We have had teams wiped out during insertions or many killed or wounded, strict attention was paid to what we were doing in field. No time to dily daly here. It might be a while before we agreed we were safe to move on. Some preferred to "lay dog" as Gary Linderer calls it. One of my friends was killed on insertion, I must mention his name. I didn't know him well but he was my friend. Steve Hathaway, 23 Jun 69. I was at LZ Mary Lou where his body was brought to. ~S~ I had returned from a three week course at Camp Enari. That day I stepped off a bus and returned to my unit and informed to go to LZ right away. Sad

Question C. - Did the pilots also practice this procedure when coming out to make pickups, assuming of course, that he was not racing towards a hot PZ to extract a team under fire?

Answer C. No. No sense in getting shot down where team is not. On 23 Dec 69 3 hard core NVA moved past where we were watching trail. TL wanted to follow them, we did but their platoon came up behind us. Unfornately for them we engaged them from a mere 10 feet away. I will skip all to pick up. While we were waiting for extraction an FO small plane happened by and aided us by firng willie peters into the platoon size unit. When the hueys came on scene they too engaged the enemy and then our ferry dropped out of the sky and extracted us. 4 happy LRRP's.

Question D. - Did any teams ever make a mistake and get off a helo at the wrong point, on what was intended to be a false insertion? If so, what then?

Answer D. I guess, but not with me. Here is something that happened more often then we liked and that was when the pilots dropped us off in wrong LZ or even AO. One time a pilot dropped us off in Laos about 3 Klicks in. We were informed that now since they knew we were over the border - that they couldn't come and get us. We were on our own to hump our asses out. I told this to a friend of mine at the V.A. and he said it weren't no accident. Could be my friend was right as we had to hump past the Ho Chi Minh Trail. We were 6 or 7 Klicks from our intended AO. Fun HuH?

The one thing I learned in Vietnam was, SNAFU's were always possilbe and happened quite often.

Very nice questions Ranger Spartan. Many things came to mind and I answered very few of them just trying to meet your questions. I have an email from the LT that was aboard huey when Hathaway was inserted with his account of how things unraveled. I will try to post it sometime in future. I am presently on msn, I rarely use my aol account where email is in file cabinet. Maybe I can come back tomorrow on aol and edit this topic. This LT had some recollection of events. Minga.
RLTW
Steadfast

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Post by Bandito »

Very informative Ranger Steadfast...thank you.

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Post by Slowpoke »

A.) Our Team never went into a hot LZ. Other teams had that misfortune but ours didn't. Once, our Team Leader spotted some VC on the edge of the LZ and the pilot pulled up and we inserted into our alt. LZ. We didn't take any fire from them that I knew.

B.) They were supposed to, I would imagine they did because the Plt Sgt and Asst Plt Ldr were in a C&C ship orbitting above.

C.) No. The Team Leader would tell the pilot where we were on the LZ and what azimuth he wanted the slick to come in on, then the pilot would let us know when he was 30 sec out, we would pop smoke, the pilot would identify the smoke, we would confirm, and then he'd hover while we ran like mad.

D.) The Team Leader and ATL did the over flight earlier in the day and picked the primary and alt LZs, if we ever set down in the wrong place, we in the lower pay grades never found out about it. I never heard about it happening to any of the other Teams.
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Spartan

Post by Spartan »

Slowpoke and Steadfast - thank you very much. I am sure that was quite a skip-over there Steadfast with a platoon sized element engaged and four men on the run, trying to do some damage and disengage yourselves at the same time. Glad to hear the whole team made it out.

Out of how many missions did such an engagement occur? I know it's obviously not a planned or desireable outcome to meet up with a much larger sized enemy force on a trail.

I appreciate your both sharing this with us.

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Post by RangerStew »

Hope you dont mind if I post this here, but I wanted to say that even with all our modern technology, Rangers are still getting dropped off into the wrong LZ.

Example: My platoon got EDRE'd(emergency deployment readiness exercise) at about 0230 on a Monday morning. After the op order, we spent the whole day prepping, rehersing, etc. At 2130 we were supposed to be picked up at Lawson. It was a Chinook. Someone said the crew was made up of reservist. So anyway, the bird goes into the LZ and we all unload, and it takes off. The PSG knew something wasn't right so he checked the GPS. The GPS said we were off the Ft. Benning map, somewhere southwest of Ft. Mitchell. So after walking all freakin night through farmers fields, breaking down fences, etc. we walked through the sleepy community of Ft. Mitchell(a glorified trailer park). Still wonder what those people were thinking when about 40 heavily loaded Rangers went walking through their neighborhood.
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Post by Silverback »

Ranger Stew thanks for the reminder about Ft Mitchell. Awesome BBQ
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Post by Lancer33 »

Guess this is a problem when new guys come onboard...get a bunch of really dated threads revisited.

I can't speak for the guys being inserted, but as a pilot that did a few of them I would like to concur with steadfast. False insertions were commom. We also would occasionaly use "firefight simulators" in false LZ's.

A lot of our inserts were low level (skids in the trees) with Covey vectoring and calling closure on the LZ. This seemed to be effective because if the team had it together the time spent for the infil was seconds. (These LZ's were almost always adjacent to a river, so you have two or three helicopters low leveling down the river and one of them just kinda stops for a second.)

Wrong LZ....once that I was involved in.

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