Patch courtesy John Jones, Manchester, UK.

The "Choppers"

2nd Platoon

The 2nd Flight Platoon, called the "Choppers" initially had 10 CH-21B &C "Shawnee" helicopters. When the 33rd had the "Shawnee" replaced with UH-1Bs, there were only 10 helicopters. With the change from the 33rd Trans. Co to 118th Aviation Co. (AML), the TO & E changed the number to 12. This number continued after the UH-1Bs were replaced with UH-1Ds in late 1964, early 1965. The UH-1Hs came into the inventory about 1968-69. When the author was in the 2nd Platoon in Aug-Nov 66, the D models were rather old and most had the "donkey stick" hydraulics systems and the L-7 engines.

The exact date the name "Choppers" was first used is not known. However, it is thought that the patch was designed sometime in 1964 by Farrell Cecil and Keith Leroy Pippin (see story below), who were 2nd Flight Platoon crew members. Initially, the "Chopper" patch was in color with a white back-ground and black axes with dripping blood. Also, initially the "Chopper" patch was painted on the Pilot and Co-pilot doors. It was shortly moved and reduced in size to the post between the pilot doors and the cargo door. About '68-'69, the patch became "subdued" in olive and black color. But, as can plainly be seen,above, the "blood" and the name "The Choppers" remained red.

Personal rememberance of Keith Pippin

 Keith Pippin says, "Farrell Cecil and I did in fact develop the patch. I went downtown to Bien Hoa. I located and purchased some drafting tools to layout the patch."

"The hood was patterned after the Batman mask and was much taller than the scanned photo(above). Also, the blood was shown only on the lower part of each axe blade with about 3 or 4 drops below each blade. I still have some of the original oval patches somewhere."

"We designed the patch sometime between mid to late 1964 which was
soon after CPT Hill assumed command of the 2nd flight platoon. We
probably spent a week to 10 days with the design as it evolved through
different configurations."

"I took the patch downtown and had the first one made up. As I recall, the first patch was not acceptable because of the quality of workmanship and was not very close to what we had designed. A second shop did much better and I remember I ordered 6 or 8 of the second rendering. Farrell Cecil and I presented these to CPT Hill to see what his reaction would be. They were well received , so we were on the way."

"One of our ships was down for maintenance so we removed the doors and "someone" painted them with the "Chopper" patch. Incidentally, this was how we found out that the emergency door release mechanism on the front door hinges DID NOT WORK. Of course, this resulted in a maintenance rework of all the quick release mechanisms. Shortly after that the "powers that be" nixed the "Chopper" logo on the doors so we resorted to the plates located between the doors. "

"As a point of interest, after returning to the states I happened to run across a fishing magazine which had a picture of CPT Hill in it. A "Gone Fishing" was hanging on the sliding door handle and there; big as life, was the "Chopper" Plaque which had been between the doors. I always had wondered if the insignia had survived. ...I now had my answer and know that it did."

Keith Pippin


Copy of one of the original 2nd Plt "Choppers" decals put
on the aircraft of the 2nd Platoon. Designed by some of the crewmembers,
it was taken downtown Bien Hoa to be painted on metal plaques to be inserted on the sides
of the aircraft between the pilots' door and the cargo door.
Courtesy Fred Holder, (65)


Personal rememberance of CPT Ron Hill who was 2nd Platoon Leader.

 "In late 1964, Farrell Cecil, Keith Pippin and Platoon SGT Hackney asked me if they could have a platoon insignia and if it could be put on the aircraft pilot doors. I told them if everyone in the 2nd Platoon had agreed to "The Choppers" insignia they had shown me, then "Do It!"

"Within a week the doors of one of the platoon aircraft had been painted. It was about the size of the yellow Bandit logo. I was somewhat surprised at the size, but if that was what everyone wanted, then I (somewhat reluctantly) agreed that it looked, OK! My first thought was with all the white background, it looked to me like a "bullseye" What really bothered me was that I and the other pilots would be sitting just on the other side of that "bullseye"! As I recall, I told them to put those doors with the logo on the Psy War aircraft because it always flew at altitude and was less apt to be shot at."

"At the end of that same week, I arrived at the flight line early one morning to find that all of the other platoon aircraft were missing their pilot and co-pilot doors. I think my words to SGT Hackney were, 'Where the Hell are all the doors?' I believe that without the doors, the airspeed was limited to 60 kts. SGT Hackney said the doors were in downtown Bien Hoa being painted. I told SGT Hackney to 'Get those GD doors back, immediately!' Seems to me we had the doors back on the aircraft in a couple orf hours. It was then that I suggested we paint the Chopper insignia on a plate, the same size as a General's Star plate. We already had a star plate holders on the each post between the pilot and cargo doors."

"When I left the platoon, I was presented my own plate with "Boss Man" on the hood. It is the original design. The ones put on the aircraft had the tail number, instead of "Boss Man", written on the hood."

The story about the "Gone Flying" sign that Keith Pippin mentioned above is this. I had a flight school classmate who was working for an aviation magazine. He sent me some door signs (red with white lettering) that said, "Gone Flying." I hung one of those signs on a 2nd Platoon aircraft door, took a picture and he published it! I also had the same sign that I hung on the door to my room every morning--"Gone Flying"!

James "Ron" Hill

(Thanks to John Jones of Manchester England for the scanned picture of the "Boss Man Chopper" patch)



Platoon Commander

 Platoon Sergeant

CPT James E. Wenzel 

CPT John F. Van Wert, Jr,
CPT Charles L. Raymond

CPT James Ron Hill
(Oct 64-Oct 65)
 PSG Hackney

CPT Drake 
CPT Johnny A. Phillips
CPT Gerald W. Cubine
(2 Oct 65-Jun 66)
 PSG Joseph James Compa
(? - 10 June 65)
PLT SGT Harold R. Williams
(10 June 65 - Feb 66)

CPT Tommy Thornton
(Jun 66-Sep 66) 
CPT Robert Ulzheimer
(Oct 66-?)
 PSG Robert D. Soult

MAJ James Jay
 CPT Leach
 PSG John W. Kelley June 67-Feb 68

1LT Weaver

 CPT Ed Lemieux

CPT Milton Snow
 SFC Homer Bearce

CPT Milton Snow
 SFC Homer Bearce


(Photo courtesy Pat McLarney)




2nd Platoon flight line hooch with all
the comforts of "home".(64)
(Photo courtesy Ron Hill)


2nd Platoon Flight line hooch with C-rats
and equipment on floor.(64)
(Photo courtesy Ron Hill)


Shrapnel collected by 2nd Platoon pilots
and crews as reminder to all in the
flight line hooch!!(64)
(Photo courtesy Ron Hill)


Aerial shot from altitude of Bien Hoa
Airbase and Song Dong Nai river.
Looking generally to the East.(64)
(Photo courtesy Ron Hill)




2nd Platoon 1965.
Front Row, (L to R) SP4 Appling, PFC Fugitt, ? , PFC Haddock, PFC Simmons,
PFC Sawyer with "Lu Lu" Plt Mascot.
2nd Row, (L to R) SP4 Bernstein, SGT Stewart, SP4 Matheny, PFC Glenn, SP4 Rux,
PFC Sauder, CPT Cubine.
3rd Row, (L to R) CWO George, CWO Mason, CWO Cunningham.
Back Row (L to R) SSG Williams, CWO Cronin, CWO Adsit, CPT Phillips (Plt Cmdr), 1LT Orr,
CWO Jim Ellis and CPT Tommy Thornton.
(Photo courtesy Patrick Matheny)





Sometime after taking off from Tay Ninh en route to Bien Hoa, a VC .30 cal round hit the lower left
side of the aircraft. The bullet went through the bottom of the aircraft, into the compartment pictured to
the left, hit an engine oil can and burst it, continued through the wall and through the fuel cell and continued
out the wall below 1LT Beck's hand, through the soundproofing, hitting Crew Chief's M-16 rifle which was
stored between the seat frame and wall. The round stopped only after breaking off the trigger of the Crew Chief's rifle.
We did not know about the hit until we flew all the way back to Bien Hoa !!
No one hurt or injured. (66)
(Photo courtesy Tom Payne)


2nd Platoon "Chopper" Hooch at the Bird Cage. (24 May 66)
(Photo courtesy Tommy Thornton)


2nd Platoon in front of "Chopper" hooch
Old "Birdcage" at Bien Hoa
Enlisted front row and Officers back row
(Photo from "145th CAB, A Pictorial History, Vol 1.")


2nd Platoon Officers in front of Operations hooch
New "Birdcage" at Bien Hoa
(Photo from "145th CAB, A Pictorial History, Vol II.")

2nd Platoon Enlisted men in front of Operations hooch
New "Birdcage" at Bien Hoa
(Photo from "145th CAB, A Pictorial History, Vol II.")

A Day in the Life of a "Chopper"


L to R: Al Capers, SP5 Rich Wright
and ? Bunton(65)
(Photo courtesy Pat McLarney)

CPT James W. "Bill" Griffin with his
"fast draw" Cheap Charlie holster and belt.
 Aircraft appearsto be "B" model prior
to "D" models arriving in 118th.(early 65)
(Photo courtesy of James W. "Bill" Griffin)


The very first Bluetail 9. (64)
(Photo courtesy Ron Hill)


Suzy "Q" II with her "wind-up key" on the stinger!!(64)
(Photo courtesy Ron Hill)


L to R: Jack Clark and George Wimberly
returning from mission.(65)
(Photo courtesy Pat McLarney)


SFC Howard, Operations NCO working
on scheduling board.(65)
(Photo courtesy Pat McLarney)


CW2 Ed Piper.(64)
(Photo courtesy Pat McLarney)


WO1 Mike Hurley in 2nd Platoon hooch.(64)
(Photo courtesy Pat McLarnery)


CPT Pearce A. "Rocky" Lane.(64)
(Photo courtesy Pat McLarney)


Ken Linville.(64)
(Photo courtesy Pat McLarney)


SP5 J. E. Rogers, a 2nd Platoon
(Photo courtesy Pat McLarney)


L to R: Richard LeJeune, Harold M. Christensen and
Pat McLarney celebrating Christmas, 1964.
(Photo courtesy Pat McLarney)


2nd Platoon Psy-War sound ship
at the stand-by.(65)
(Photo courtesy Pat McLarney)


George Horn cooling it.(65)
(Photo courtesy Pat McLarney)


Thunderbird emblem as painted on the
two inverter/electical doos behind
the cargo doors of the UH-1B's.(65)
(Photo courtesy Pat McLarney)


Short-Timer's "99 day and a wake-up"
(Calendar and Photo courtesy Pat McLarney)


2nd Platoon "Hooch Party" at the Bird Cage.
L to R: MAJ Orlie Underwood, CE Ziegler
and Gunner "Mac" Hooper.(65)
(Photo courtesy Patrick Matheny)

2nd Platoon "Hooch Party" at the Bird Cage.
L to R: CWO Fischer, CPT Tommy Thornton
and CWO Jim Ellis.(65)
(Photo courtesy Patrick Matheny)


Blue 7 (64-13726), aka "Suzy-Q II" when practically
new. Patrick Matheny was the Crew Chief.
This aircraft would later be destroyed on 1-17-67
with the loss of all four crewmembers and four passangers.(65)
(Photo courtesy Patrick Matheny)


Blue 7 (64-13726) getting new skids.
(Probably, CPT Cubine!) (65)
(Photo courtesy Patrick Matheny)


"Chopper" placard on Blue 8 on post
between cargo and pilot doors.(65)
(Photo courtesy Don Roof)


Fred Glenn, Blue 8 gunner standing and
Don Roof kneeling on stand-by
at unknown location.(65)
(Photo courtesy Don Roof)


Gunner Fred Glenn showing off
newly painted "Thunderbird:"
on Blue 8.(65)
(Photo courtesy Don Roof)


Gunner Fred Glenn in his gunner's
position on Blue 8.(65)
(Photo courtesy Don Roof)


Crew Chief of Blue 8 letting his sentiments
be known as he points to a
bullet hole in his aircraft.(65)
(Photo courtesy Don Roof)


Two "Chopper" buddies Don Roof (left)
and Wayne Beaver (right).(65)
(Photo courtesy Don Roof)


A Decca moving map display above the
sun-shield of Blue 7. Initially, there were
two ships in the 118th with Decca navigation
systems. Decca was a English made very
low frequency navigation system with numerous transmitters from the DMZ to the southern tip of
Vietnam. As long as you had a good receive
on at least two, the system could triangulate
your location and the map would be fairly
(Photo courtesy Pat Matheny)

Typical "wash party" using the water buffalo.
Guy in middle is "Mac" Hooper and one
in forground is Jim Trommatter.(65)
(Photo courtesy Patrick Matheny)


CPT Anthony Ferrarro, 2nd Platoon Cmdr
for short time. He went to HQ. The Platoon
became known as "Tony's Boys".(65)
(Photo courtesy Patrick Matheny)


SSG Williams who took over
2nd Platoon after SSG Compa was killed.(65)
(Photo courtesy Patrick Matheny)


George Horn catches a few.
Apparently, book by Clarence Darrow
put him to sleep!(65)
(Photo courtesy Pat McLarney)


CW2 Sam McGlone with trusty M-15.(65)
(Photo courtesy Pat McLarney)


CW2 Barry Shields with bear at Song Be.(65)
(Photo courtesy Pat McLarney)


CW2 Barry Shields.(65)
(Photo courtesy Pat McLarney)


1LT Tommie Elliott in cockpit.(65)
(Photo courtesy Pat McLarney)


1LT Tom Elliott and CW2 Barry Shields.(65)
(Photo courtesy Pat McLarney)


L to R: Three Captains...Jack Islin,
James Ron Hill and "Duke" Watson.(65)
(Photo courtesy Pat McLarney)


L to R: Unknown Gunner, CPT Larry Pettibone
and CPT William "Bill" Bruce.(65)
(Note: Larry Pettibone was killed in aircraft
crash while flying for the US Forest Service)
(Photo courtesy Pat McLarney)

L to R: MAJ Bill Gahn, CPT "Red" Henderson
CW2 Clinton Downing.(65)
(Photo courtesy Pat McLarney)



Platoon plaque from Blue 7 which was
mounted on the post between pilot's door and
cargo door. Note bullet hole!! (65)
(Photo courtesy Patrick Matheny)


2nd Platoon, "Choppers" at Cu Chi.
(L to R): CW2 Reggie Morrison,
WO Cronin & 1LT ? (65)
(Photo courtesy Jim Ellis)


A mad-dash following Awards Ceremony in
typical rainy season downpour. Several of
Thunderbirds can be seen with Air Medals
pinned on their uniforms.(65)
(Photo courtesy Jim Ellis)


Blue 3.
L to R: Patrick Matheny and "Mac" Hooper
(back) getting coffee from Crew Chief Jim
Trommatter's thermos Note: above Matheny's
arm the pin/safety modification to keep cargo
doors from flying off. (65)
(Photo courtesy Pat Matheny)


Patrick Matheny at his crew chief station. Note
his holding the belt of ammo to keep wind from
"pulling" it out of the box while flying at
80-90 kts.(65)
(Photo courtesy Pat Matheny)

Talking about the mission at Vung Tau in the Ben Gia Campaign(65)
(Photo courtesy Ralph Orlando)


CPT James R. Hill, Commander of the
2nd Plt "Choppers" during late 1964, early
1965. Note aircraft are UH-1B models which
confirms the time period.(65)
(Photo courtesy James W. "Bill" Griffin)


2nd Plt "Chopper" B Model with Psy War
package attached. Note "Chopper"
insignia on door(later moved to door post).
In aircraft is WO1 Jerry McKelvey and
asleep under is SP4 Steve Kartak.(64)
(Photo courtesy Pat McLarnery)

Stern, tough, cigar chewing, "Chopper"
pilot, Pat McLarney(64)
(Photo courtesy Pat McLarney)


SP4 Keith Pippin, Crew Chief of 2nd Plt Psy-War
"B" Model taking it easy. Note placement of
cargo compartment crew seats, pilot seat with
no armor and sound amplifier on bulkhead
behind. SP4 Pippin was one of the designers
of the original "Chopper" patch (1965)
(Photo courtesy Pat McClarney)
L to R: Unknown SSG and
SGT William E. Wilson.(65)
(Photo courtesy Pat McLarnery)


"Shooting the Bull" in 118th tent
compound at Bien Hoa Air base. (L-R)
Frank Zipperer, Al Moon Jack Islin and
PSGT Howard.(1964)
(Photo courtesy Pat McLarney)


Pat McClarney at Bao Trai Int'l helipad.
(Photo courtesy Pat McLarney)


SP5 William R. "Bill" Stewart, Crew Chief
of 2nd Plt "Chopper " slick. Note name
on door, "Arleen's Clown"(65)
(Photo courtesy Warren George)


Warren George (L) & William "Barry" Shields
in the Bird Cage.(65)
(Photo courtesy Warren George)


James Tromatter, CE of
"Kitten II" in 2nd Flt Platoon(66)
(Photo courtesy Tommy Thornton)


2nd PLT Pilots, L to R: CPT Robert Ulzheimer,
1LT Bob Hoffman, CWO Frank Rusk and
CWO Robert Cronin(66)
(Photo courtesy Tommy Thornton)


Inspecting bullet hole received during
Operation Attleboro, 4 Nov 1966.
L to R: CE Roosevelt, WO1 Jost and
Unidentified Crewman.(66)
(Photo courtesy Johnny Billingsley)


Holding a section of the tail rotor drive
shaft ,which was the first hit for
WO1 Johnny Billingsley,
4 Nov 1966 during Operation Attleboro. (66)
(Photo courtesy Johnny Billingsley)


1LT Tom Payne holding a section of
the tail rotor drive shaft which was
his first hit on 4 Nov 1966 during
Operation Attleboro.(66)
(Photo courtesy Tom Payne)


WO1 Johnny Billingsley doing a
little fishing while
standing-by. (66)
(Photo courtesy Johnny Billingsley)


"Five Amigos" (L to R) ? , CWO Joe Winner,
CWO Frank Rusk, ? , CWO Tom Baca.
Likely taken at Lai Kai or Loc Ninh
rubber plantations. (66)
(Photo courtesy of Tom Baca)



Jerry Bratcher (L) and Richard Brenner (R)
in 118th crew member barracks area,
Bien Hoa. (68)
(Photo courtesy Jerry Bratcher)


Bill Ansit, "Chopper" pilot.(Jan. 66)
(Photo courtesy Tommy Thornton).


Bill Wilkerson, getting ready to depart the Bird Cage.
(March 66)
(Photo courtesy Tommy Thornton)


CPT Robert Ulzheimer, 2nd Plt Cmdr
in late 66.(66)
(Photo courtesy Tommy Thornton)


CPT Glenn Weber, 2nd Plt Cmdr before
Robert Ulzheimer.(66)
(Photo courtesy Tommy Thornton)


2nd Platoon pilot Jake Mills.(May 66)
(Photo courtesy Tommy Thornton)


2nd Platoon pilots at Bird Cage.
L to R: CWO Cronin, CWO Cunningham,
Gunner Simmons, CWO Adsit and the
Crew Chief of Kitten II, SP5 Tromatter.(Jan 66)
(Photo couirtesy Tommy Thornton)
Unidentified maintenance crew checking
Blue 2 which shows the effects of
"Chopping Wood"(68)
(Photo courtesy Willis Long)
Blue 9 with crinkled tail boom, broken
greenhouse and broken transmission
mounts. Reason unknown.(68)
(Photo courtesy Willis Long)


Ken Simpson, gunner on Blue 10 and Blue 6.(70)
(Photo courtesy Ken Simpson)


Blue 1(with camouflage paint scheme)
and Blue 10 at An Loc.(70)
(Photo courtesy Ken Simpson)


2nd Platoon "Blue 10" crew waiting on a
mission. L to R: WO1 Wayne S. Guffy, ?,
WO1 Mata. (70)
(Photo courtesy Ken Simpson)


"Chopper" barracks on 2nd floor in
Bailey Compound.(70)
(Photo courtesy Ken Simpson)


Blue 2 following a hard landing beside an oiled
landing pad or site at unknown location..(70)
(Photo courtesy Don Chase)


Close-up of tail-boom of Blue 2 after apparent
hard landing.(70)
(Photo courtesy Don Chase)


Close-up of Thunderbird logo on nose of Blue 2
showing addition of "lightening bolt". Anyone
having knowledge of when the the logo with
"lightening bolt" was used, please contact
(Photo courtesy Don Chase)


Ken Simpson, Gunner on Blue 10(70)
(Photo courtesy Ken Simpson)


(Photo courtesy Ken Simpson)


Daniel Sutherland, Gunner working on his M-60.
An Loc operations.(70)
(Photo courtesy Ken Simpson)


Unidentified pilot(glasses on) and
2nd Platoon SGT doing a run-up.(70)
(Photo courtesy Ken Simpson)


Unidentified gunner on Blue 1 on stand-by
at An Loc.(70)
(Photo courtesy Ken Simpson)


Blue 4 with CPT Milton Snow checking the tail
rotor and verticle fin for damage following
Claymore mine detonation in an LZ near Chu Chi.(70)
(Photo courtesy Michael Breaux)


Preparing Blue 9 for a flight are Ronnie Adams,
Wayne Guffy and unidentified pilot. (70)
(Photo courtesy Michael Breaux)


Rocklin "Rock" Lyons relaxing.(70
(Photo courtesy Rock Lyons)


Rocklin "Rock" Lyons. (70)
(Photo courtesy Rock Lyons)


"Swamp Fox IV" or Blue 4. (70)
(Photo courtesy Rock Lyons)


"Cheap Thrills" or Blue 9. (70)
(Photo courtesy Rock Lyons)


Monthly Thunderbird party.
L to R: ? , ? , ? , ? , Charles E. Stephens , Bob McAdams, Wayne Guffy.
Dog is "Combat" (Fall 70)
(Photo courtesy Rock Lyons)
Same Party, different angle.
L to R: Bob McAdams, Wayne Guffy, Jim Satcher , Charles E. Stephens, Gaylord Bishop,
J. D. Badgley , ? , Junius Julien, ? , ?. J. D. Badgley was owner of "Combat". (Fall 70)
(Photo courtesy Rock Lyons)


Up Close and Personal with "Fabulous Blue 7"

Dave Norton , of the 2nd Flight Platoon, checks his bird, "Fabulous Blue 7". A very familiar perch of a
good Crew Chief, atop the head of his helicopter.....checking, greasing and cleaning. (Seems like there's
a "Jesus Nut" up here some where...gotta check the safety on it!)
(Photo courtesy Dave Norton)

WO Lyman L. Sramek , AC, ahold of the "potent" stinger of the "Fabulous Blue 7".(June 69)
(Photo courtesy Dave Norton)

Whole crew pulling some maintenance on "Fabulous Blue 7" back at the Bird Cage in Bien Hoa. (L to R:
WO Lyman L. Sramek, AC; SP5 Dave Norton, CE; SP4 Ken Domke, Gunner; WO Glenn R. Hands, Pilot.
(Photo courtesy Dave Norton)

"Fabulous Blue 7" feeling its oats in the cool, early morning air. Were helicopters really supposed to
fly like this? For the story and the significance of the "P-48" painted on bottom of horizontal stabilizer,
see below. (Nov 69)
(Photo courtesy Dave Norton)

"The "P 48" painted on the under side of the
stabilizer of "Fabulous Blue 7" was an assigned "Alpha Numeric" system
designed to identify a unit and aircraft from the ground. This system
worked very much like "If you see this truck being driven in an unsafe
manner call I-800 ---------." Each unit was assigned an Alpha code( "P"
obviously being the 118th's) and then each aircraft got an individual 2 digit
Numeric. Thus, if an individual aircraft was being operated in an unsafe
manner, to a ground observer, he could turn them in."

Ralph B.Young, Author
"Army Aviation in Vietnam, an Illustrated History of Unit Insignia, Aircraft Camouflage and Markings,
Vol 1 and 2" Published by The Huey Company, Inc., P.O. Box 625, Ramsey, NJ 07446-0625

Troops waiting at Bear Cat for transport to FSB somewhere in the area.(70)
(Photo courtesy Michael Breaux)