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335th Assault Helicopter Company - "Cowboys, Falcons"

"A brief history of the Cowboys: The original "Cowboys" of A Company, 82nd Aviation Battalion arrived in South Vietnam on 1 May 1965. In September of 1966, A/82nd was redesignated the 335th Aviation Company (Airmobile Light,) and eventually the 335th Assault Helicopter Company. The first A/82nd patches are extremely rare, but I'm obtaining a drawing of the original design. The Cowboys spent over 30 months in direct combat support of the 173rd Airborne Brigade, an association which culminated in the battles around Dak To from June to December of 1967. During that time period the Cowboys were awarded the PUC, The MUC w/ 1 OLC, and three RVN Gallantry Crosses w/Palm." - Courtesy of Tillman Jeffrey

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This calling card is the one I was given in January 1967 when I arrived at the Cowboys. The Falcon gun platoon had a variation the said in Vietnamese "The Viet Cong in this area have been killed by the 335th Assault Helicopter Company." A nice bit of PR....
Image courtesy of Tillman Jeffrey

This is a photo of me at Phu Hiep near the end of my tour, probably in early December of 1967. Was I EVER that young? Scary! After my first tour I instructed in Primary II at Fort Wolters, Texas. Most of my flight students were older than me.
Image courtesy of Tillman Jeffrey

Insignia for the 145th C.A.B.. In December, 1967 we were reassigned from the 145th CAB to the 268th CAB
Image courtesy of Tillman Jeffrey

When I got to the Cowboys in Jan. 1967 we were still wearing the 173rd Airborne patch. By April we had been ordered to wear the 1st Avn Bde patch, so we moved our 173rd patches to the other shoulder. We were attached to the 173rd until 1968, winning a PUC for the Battle of Hill 875 at Dak To in November, 1967
Image courtesy of Tillman Jeffrey

A "Falcon" crew chief - Willie Eastman
Image courtesy of Tillman Jeffrey

Two original Vietnamese-made patches from my tour (67-68)with the 335th: a "Cowboy" company patch and a "Falcon" patch from the gun platoon. The 335th AHC was originally "A" Company, 82nd Aviation Battalion, then the 335th Aviation Company (Airmobile, Light)before being re-named the 335th Assault Helicopter Company. The company call sign was "Cowboys," the 1st Airlift Platoon was the "Ramrods," the 2nd Airlift Platoon was the "Mustangs," and the 3rd Armed Helicopter Platoon was the "Falcons". The ragged-looking Cowboy patch was designed by me at Phu Hiep in late 1967. The unit had moved up north from Bien Hoa and we couldn't get our old style patches from Bien Hoa. We redesigned the Falcon patch with the falcon patterned on the Atlanta Falcons logo. Also, in late 1967 we started painting the Atlanta-style falcon in gray on the noses (battery compt. door) of our gunships.
Image courtesy of Tillman Jeffrey

That's me next to the B-model gunship. My first tour, we had three pilots in my unit shot in the legs and two in the head. The "armored" seats left your limbs and head exposed and the gunshot wounds received by helicopter pilots reflects this fact. Both of our "head shots" survived thanks to the ballistic flight helmets they wore. The rounds were deflected enough to sort of "plow" a furrow aroound the scalp without penetrating the skull. Now, those guys were REALLY lucky!". Note 335th "Cowboys" unit logo on the aircraft door.

"Dak To was a real fun place. The first time I flew there, I got out of the helicopter and picked up a dozen or so tail fin assemblies from expended NVA mortar rounds that were lying on the runway. I'd missed the morning mortar attack by a couple of hours! Air Force C-130's used to come in and unload ammo and supplies with all four engines running so they could haul ass in a hurry. The NVA would nail one every now and then- usually a direct hit with the first or second round! I saw two C-130's blow up on the ramp while I was there. We kept our helicopters in revetments, which really helped protect them. After missions, we'd re-arm, top off with fuel, then hover the gunships back into the revetments. You had to "park" facing to the west, so if the wind was out of the east, you'd usually run out of left pedal (and power!) trying to get the ship back into the revetment. Usually, the crew would get out to lighten the load while you parked the aircraft! There were times I'd have liked to have joined them. I took all of my hits (and got shot down) while working out of Dak To. It may not have been the worst place in South Vietnam, but it was a pretty strong contender. The nights up there were pretty cold during the monsoon and I actually slept in a sleeping bag. There were even pine trees in the higher elevations. We clipped to top off one of them once coming back from a mission. Broke both chin bubbles and wrapped pine boughs around the skids and gun mounts. We looked like Santa's sleigh!! We went from 90 knots to 5 or 10 knots in a couple of seconds....

This photo of me with the gunship was taken at Dak To and is oriented in the same direction. We parked our gunships along the runway on the north side. During the wet season we always had to wade through mud to get across the runway.
Image courtesy of Tillman Jeffrey


An original 335th AHC door emblem .The 335th painted their aircraft in an olive green and black camoflage pattern. We also carried unit insignia on our front doors-these were painted on sheet metal and "pop-riveted" to the doors. I have one of the originals from a wrecked aircraft. We did a lot of field modifications that were never entered in the aircraft's log books. Heck, we didn't even have seat belts for our "passengers." I can't recall ever giving a "safety" briefing to our pax! It would have gone something like this: "Welcome aboard! Your crew flew twelve hours yesterday, so try not to make any excessive noise as they need their sleep. In the event of ground fire, the floor of the aircraft is NOT bullet-resistant, so feel free to sit on your flak vests, helmets, or packs. In the highly likely event of a forced landing, please try and stay inside the aircraft until all of the wreckage has come to a complete stop. Avoid, if possible, making contact with the main rotor or tail rotor blades as you exit the aircraft. In the event of a water landing, be advised that the helicopter was not designed to float. This helicopter is barely capable of flying, so that should give you a pretty good idea of how well it will float. Thank you for choosing the Cowboys for your Vietnam travel needs. We realize that you didn't have any choice and, frankly, we didn't either!" - Tillman Jeffrey
Image courtesy of Tillman Jeffrey

Dak To, November 1967: A Hook bringing in one of our wounded slicks. We had six slicks shot down on 11/19/67 while supporting the 173rd Airborne Brigade's 2nd Bn/503rd Infantry on Hill 875.
Image courtesy of Tillman Jeffrey

1/LT Rod Hallinan, 335th AHC at Dak To in 1967
Image courtesy of Tillman Jeffrey

Military Payment Certificates or "Funny Money"-It always reminded me of Monopoly money. At our club in Bien Hoa, sodas were a dime and so was beer. Do the math!
Image courtesy of Tillman Jeffrey

Gary Cody with Air Medal with "V" device for heroism on 22 June 1967
Image courtesy of Gary Cody via Tillman Jeffrey

Gary Cody with "Hog" 335th AHC March 1968
Image courtesy of Gary Cody via Tillman Jeffrey




Meal card from the 335th AHC.
Image courtesy of Gary Cody via Tillman Jeffrey

Cowboys medevac
Image courtesy of Tillman Jeffrey

Cowboys medevac
Image courtesy of Tillman Jeffrey

C-130 explodes at Dak To
Image from the 173rd Airborne Brigade's yearbook from 1966 and 1967 courtesy of Tillman Jeffrey

Cowboys take off
Image from the 173rd Airborne Brigade's yearbook from 1966 and 1967 courtesy of Tillman Jeffrey

Cowboys combat assault
Image from the 173rd Airborne Brigade's yearbook from 1966 and 1967 courtesy of Tillman Jeffrey

Photo of the unit patch from the 145th CAB Phtorial History Book Volume ,1 pub in 1967, page 01
Image courtesy of Dave Green 68th AHC crew chief

Photo of the units HQ staff from the 145th CAB Phtorial History Book Volume 1, pub in 1967, page 39
Image courtesy of Dave Green 68th AHC crew chief

Photo of the 1st page of the units history page from the 145th CAB Phtorial History Book Volume 1, pub in 1967, page 40
Image courtesy of Dave Green 68th AHC crew chief

Photo of the units personnel from the 145th CAB Phtorial History Book Volume 1, pub in 1967, page 41
Image courtesy of Dave Green 68th AHC crew chief

Photo of the 2nd page of the units history page from the 145th CAB Phtorial History Book Volume 1, pub in 1967, page 42
Image courtesy of Dave Green 68th AHC crew chief

The Cowboys maintenance unit, the 166th Transportation Detachment, used this UH-1B (call sign: "Horsethief") for transpoting mechanics and spare parts to get our downed aircraft back in the air. "Horsethief" flew trail on every combat assault we made and she saw plenty of action.
Image courtesy of Tillman Jeffrey

This is an example of the "nose art" worn by the "Falcon" gunships at Phu Hiep in late 1967.
Image courtesy of Tillman Jeffrey

Late version of the 335th AHC "Cowboys" patch worn by Judd Clemens as XO at Fort Riley, 1975.
Image courtesy of Judd Clemens

First Lietenant A.W. Steed and Captain Bill Jones of the 2nd Airlift Platoon "Mustangs." On 21 January 1967 their ship (#610) was hit by a command-detonated claymore mine while on short final to drop off a passenger at the 2/503 Infantry base camp. Both pilots, one crew member, and the passenger were wounded by the explosion, but Lt. Steed and Cpt. Jones were able to fly their badly damaged aircraft to the 3rd Surgical Hospital. Lt. Steed's Silver Star was awarded for extracting a LRRP team from "E" Troop, 17th Cavalry at night while under intense enemy automatic weapons fire.
Image courtesy of Tillman Jeffrey

Major John Dickerson was the 335th's Operations Officer (Cowboy 3) in 1967-68. His skill in putting together and running a helicopter combat had few equals.
Image courtesy of Tillman Jeffrey

WO Fred Enright, Cpt. Phil Osterli, WO John Bryan, 1/Lt. Chuck Jackson, anf WO Ole Quiberg relaxing at night with a few warm beers in the Falcons tent at Dak To. Obviously, they have just started as the stack of empty beer cans has not reached the top of the tent!
Image courtesy of Tillman Jeffrey


Image courtesy of Ed Sitzer via Dave Green


Image courtesy of Ed Sitzer via Dave Green


Image courtesy of Ed Sitzer via Dave Green


Image courtesy of Ed Sitzer via Dave Green


Image courtesy of Ed Sitzer via Dave Green


Image courtesy of Ed Sitzer via Dave Green


Image courtesy of Ed Sitzer via Dave Green


Image courtesy of Ed Sitzer via Dave Green


Image courtesy of Ed Sitzer via Dave Green


Image courtesy of Ed Sitzer via Dave Green


Image courtesy of Ed Sitzer via Dave Green


Image courtesy of Ed Sitzer via Dave Green

Early "Cowboys" patch in Pocket hanger for easy removal or wear on summer tans. Also a later era bronze "Challenge Coin" from the 173rd.
Image courtesy of Edward L Sitzer CW2 USA DAVPRM

I recently lost my father. This is his photo from boot camp. I think he served from April of 1968- 1969 in Vietnam. His M.O.S. was 67n40 - helicopter maintenance supervisor. He also assumed duties as a UH-1 crewmember due to shortage of personal. His base-camp was Phu-Phip (unsure of spelling) with the 335th Assault Helicopter Company. I am just looking for people that might have known him in hopes that they might have some photos/stories they would share. We lost most of what he had in a house fire years ago. Thank you for your consideration. J. Thomason northshore2229@hotmail.com
Image courtesy of J. Thomason

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