Official Website of the

219th Aviation Company (Recon)

 


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(This written history is a work in progress)

INTRODUCTION 

The 219th Aviation Company “Headhunters” was the largest unit of its type during the Vietnam War. Over 5,000 personnel were assigned to the unit from its activation in March 1965 to its deactivation in December 1971. 

The unit was responsible for a major land area located within II Corps that was comprised of jungles, mountains, high plains and Southeast Sea coastal areas. The unit also supported operations in both Cambodia and Laos where the terrain provided incredible challenges and difficult navigation. This diversity of combat operations areas demanded a wide variety of pilot training and excellent flight skills, plus a well above average dedication of all company ground support personnel to maintain a fleet of aircraft spread over a large area.

During the time from activation to deactivation the 219th Aviation Company suffered the most casualties of any O-1 Birddog unit. A total of fifteen (15) pilots and seven (7) observers were killed in combat. One pilot died years later of wounds suffered from a crash in combat. Numerous others suffered wounds qualifying for the Purple Heart. Two (2) pilots and two (2) observers are still Missing in Action (MIA).

FACILITIES 

The company originally had aircraft based at thirteen different locations but over time these were reduced to five locations. However, the aircraft may go Temporary Duty (TDY) to any location within the II Corps Tactical Zone. The airfields used vary from hard surface to dirt strips, from completely equipped aircraft maintenance shops to a field location with just a mechanic and toolbox, from completely equipped control towers to no radio facilities and/or from modern fueling operation to a hand pump from 55 gallon drums. Personnel accommodations in all areas are satisfactory but are no better that the facilities of the units being supported. 

EQUIPMENT 

The company’s main piece of equipment is the O-1 Birddog built by Cessna Aircraft under contract to the U.S. Army. It is equipped with one AN/ARC-51-Bx UHF radio and two AN/ARC-44 FM radios. The aircraft has a distinctive appearance due to the whip antennas on each wing tip. The normal operating airspeeds of the aircraft are between 60 and 150 MPH. Normal cruise settings allow the O-1 to cruise at an average of 100 MPH with an average fuel burn endurance of three and one-half (3 ½) hours. The aircraft provides excellent visibility from both the pilot’s and observer’s seats. The main means of marking positions is from independently firing rockets mounted under each wing. Two tubes are slung under each wing and a triggered electrical impulse fires a 2.75 inch rocket motor. The rocket is either armed with a high explosive or white phosphorous war head. All of the aircraft in unit are either 1955 or 1957 models. The total time on each aircraft span varies from a low of 1800 hours to a high of 5,200 hours. 

ACTIVATION (1965 The Beginning) 

On 25 March 1965, the 219th Aviation Company was activated at Fort Hood, Texas by General Order Number 64, dated 25 March 1965. The unit initially was to consist of one Fixed Wing Company (32 O-1 Birddog Aircraft) and one Signal Avionics Detachment; total strength of 42 Commissioned Officers, 1 Warrant Officer and 123 Enlisted personnel. On 7 April the company was attached to the 501st Aviation Battalion, 1st Armored Division for purposes of activation, organization, equipping, training and preparation for deployment to Vietnam. Shortly thereafter POR qualification was begun for the personnel who had been assigned from Fort Hood resources. Assembly and training of personnel was a continuous process from 25 March until 14 June. Supplies and equipment were assembled from activation until 12 May. On 12 May the equipment train was loaded with vehicles and equipment for overseas deployment. On 14 June 1965 the unit movement started in five echelons from Fort Hood. The unit departed Austin, Texas in five C-130 aircraft, staggered over a thirty hour period. The final destination for the company was Camp Holloway, Pleiku, Republic of Vietnam. Arrivals were staggered from 18 June until 26 June. 

ARRIVAL & DISPERSION OF PLATOONS (1965 Vietnam) 

Upon arrival at Pleiku, the unit was augmented with two additional platoons, bringing the total number to six. The major problem facing the unit was training, orientation and qualification of aviators in the forward combat area of Pleiku during the height of the monsoon season. Along with this was also the Challenge of establishing living quarters, working areas, defensive perimeters and making arrangements for further deployment of the unit within Vietnam. However, the unit overcame these various challenges and had deployed the various platoons to their field locations by 27 July 1965. Deployed at some thirteen (13) different sites within an 84,000 kilometer area that comprises Vietnam II Corps Tactical Zone, the company was faced with seemingly insurmountable problems of communications and supply. However, these problems were rapidly overcome and soon the primary mission in Visual Reconnaissance was being accomplished in a superb manner. The company continued its mission of Visual Reconnaissance for the entire Corps Tactical Zone until July 1966, when the 183rd Aviation Company arrived in country and assumed the responsibility for the Southern half of the area. The 219th Aviation was left with some 42,000 square kilometers of land that comprises the Northern half of the II Corps zone.

 

   
  © 2007 Eagle Team Publishing Group. All information on this website is the property of the brave military personnel who sacrificed their time and well being by putting themselves in harm's way in the service of their country. This website is dedicated to those 219th Aviation Company Headhunters personnel & their families who made the ultimate sacrifice with their lives in this service. Permission for the use of any content on this website is reserved for use by any person who served on active military duty with the 219th Aviation Company . All others must obtain written permission in advance by contacting bob@219headhunters.com