The 3rd Platoon, nicknamed the "Bandits", did not exist within the 33rd Transportation Company at Ft. Irwin, CA or when it was deployed to Vietnam. The unit had two platoons with 10 CH-21B &C "Shawnee" each and that was all. There was no armed platoon to be used for combat assaults or typical armed missions.

Not until 16 Sep 63 did the 118th Aviation Company (AML) officially begin to fly the UH-1B "Huey." This marked the beginning of the 3rd Platoon and thus armed gun ships known as "Bandits".

Dave Kenny, one of the original "Bandits" remembers, "The first day all the Third Platoon pilots got together in CPT Bobby Bogard's hooch, we talked about how to conduct missions with gun ships. In fact, we didn't even have a call sign. CPT Bogard asked for suggestions for a call sign and a few were submitted and rejected. I yelled out "Bandits" and immediately it was accepted. we had a Bandit hat pin made up to wear on our hats, which we all wore."

Most of the pilots were checked out in the new UH-1B prior to the operational date by transition IPs who came to the 118th in Bien Hoa.

Ralph Young, author of Army Aviation in Vietnam, 1961-1963, Vol. 2 on page 82, states, "The 118th officially became operational with the new type on 16 Sep 1963. However, a two ship UH-B element had flown to Tay Ninh the night before(15th) to pick up an injured American advisor. Shortly thereafter the necessity for two ship flights was dropped as the new UH-1B's proved to be mechanically more reliable."

One of the pilots who flew that first mission was CPT Chad Payne, who was already checked out in the new UH-1B and remembers.."The last CH-21 mission flown by the 118th was a max. effort out of Phan Thiet(15th). We flew 6 hours apiece that day and that was a lot in a CH-21. (Photo of pilots who flew on that last CH-21 mission) That evening, at our "O" club, MAJ. David B. Hayes, or CO, asked me if I was drunk yet. When I answered that I was not, he assigned me a medivac mission to Tay Ninh. I agreed if I could fly the mission in a new Huey and he agreed. CPT Jack Phillabaum, Operations Officer, flew as my co-pilot and we flew after dark to Tay Ninh to pick-up a CPT Advisor type who had stepped on a mine. We took him to Saigon. drawing .51 cal. fire on the way up, but it was nowhere close."

Bandit Leaders


Platoon Commander

Platoon Sergeant
 CPT Bobby Bogard
 SSG Milbauer
CPT Bobby Bogard
CPT Geary Martin
CPT James Kilgore
CPT Lynn Knisely
CPT Pete Poston
 SSG ? Petreguin
SSG Caban
SSG Frantz
CPT Pete Poston 
CPT Jim Thompson
CPT Joe Newsome
(1 Oct-5 - Nov 65)
CPT John "Doc" Bahnsen
(6 Nov 65-14 Mar 66)
SGT Andenako
SSG Bob Pinkston
(Nov 65 - Jun 66)

CPT John "Doc" Bahnsen
(6 Nov 65 - 14 Mar 66)
CPT Gerald Cubine
(15 Mar 66 --Aug 66)
CPT Raydean Patterson
(Sep 66 -- Dec 66)
MAJ Bob Michel
 SSG John Kelley
(Jun 66 - Oct 66)
SSG Jimmie Pirtle

MAJ Bob Michel
CPT Jeff Thomason

 SSG Jimmie Pirtle


SSG George E. Haskins

 CPT Jim Thorne
CPT Tom Easton


CPT Walter M. Garner 

1LT Bob Weaver (Temporary)

CPT Cecil Gunter (May 1969)

CPT George W. Estess
SSG Gary Patterson

 CPT John W. Kavanaugh
(July 1970)
 SFC Gary J. Rhodes
(?-Sep 70) 
SSG James Wood
(Sep 70- Mar 71)


  CPT John W. Kavanaugh?
 SSG James Wood

The Bandit pages and photos have grown so large they are now displayed on pages for specific years!



  • The First Bandits 63-64
  • Bandits 65-66
  • Bandits 67-68
  • Bandits 69-71
  • Bandits--Top Guns Page 1
  • Bandits--Top Guns Page 2
  • Bandits--Top Guns Page 3
  • Bandit Tactics Guide
  • "Banditisms"
  • Bandit Aircraft Today



    CPT Bobby Bogard, first "Bandit 36",
    and 1LT Chad Payne, Sec. Ldr., in
    Bien Hoa (1963). First 118th
    accommodations for the 33rd/118th
    was"tent city" located on Bien Hoa
    Air base.
    (Photo courtesy Chad Payne)

    CPT Bobby Bogard, Bandit 36, arriving
    at the 118th with a new UH-1B. Note the
    equipment crates in the cargo compartment,
    and only one windshield wiper. Sep 1963.
    (Photo courtesy of Jack Phillabaum)

    "Bandit 1"

    Early UH-1B, with XM-16 system which was installed in early 1964. Note paint scheme with
    high gloss paint and high visibility markings. Also note the white 7 shot rocket pods.
    Anyone knowing details and the identity of crew members, contact Web master.
    (Picture courtesy of Australian War Memorial)
    Another photo of Bandit 1 in 1965 after being repainted
    with subdued markings.
    (Photo courtesy David Vandenburg)


    Some of the first "Bandits" standing in front of "Bandit" operations tent at Bien Hoa
    Air base(1963).
    L to R : Dave Kenny, Tom Watson, Bob Welch(behind), George Dorsey and T.J. Bourgeois.
    (Photo courtesy Chad Payne)

    Obviously "The Good Ole Summertime"--1964

    Some of the "Bandits" relaxing in the 118th Company area in 1964 before the move to
    Cong Ly Street. Note the 33rd cap which was worn by original pilots.
    (L to R--Jerry Peffers, Bill Wilson, Joe Cooksey , Bob Hites, Dave Kenny,
    Al Laya, Bob Walch , Chad Payne(with cap).
    Need help in identifying the rest .
    (Photo courtesy Frank Zipperer)
    The "new" Bandit HQ and stand-by hooch in the Bird Cage(64)
    (Photo courtesy Michael Hadley)


    The first "Bandits" enjoy a dinner and party in the 118th Company area.
    Note the matching smoking jackets(Happy Jackets) worn by all. Exact details
    about when or why they started is unknown. The jackets did not exist in the
    Platoon in 1965-66 and later. Instead, "Bandits" wore black silk kerchiefs
    with "Bandit" emblem held around the neck with a yellow
    "hang-man's noose" slide. (1963-64)
    Squatting: Del Straub & George Horn
    Standing L to R: James Hannah , Jerry Peffers, Bob Daws, George Leaf, Geary Martin
    Back two: Alan Laya, Dave Kenny
    (Photo courtesy Chad Payne)
    L to R: Bandits Alan Laya, Geary Martin and Les Valouche(64)
    (Photo courtesy Robert N. Daws)

    "Home-Made" Armament--1963



    At first, "Bandit" gun ship armament was the XM-6, M-60 flex-guns system from Emerson Electric which operated using the UH-1B's hydraulic system.
    The rocket system was another matter; scrounged rocket tubes attached in pairs
    and the selector and intervalometer from the B-26 rounded out the hybrid system. It worked!!
    Later, the first XM-16 came in country and was installed on the "Bandit" UH-1B's. (See below) Note the two M-60 barrels removed and laying on aircraft floor and the 3/5" WP warheads. The first "must do" chore for the CE and Gunner, immediately upon landing, was to remove them for safety.
    (Photo courtesy of Wayne Wright)


    Busted Huey

    According to Bobby Bogard (first Bandit 36) and Chad Payne, this is
    UH-1B # 62-2059(Bandit 4) and the reason it is squatting low is that apparently
    the Crew Chief, who was drunk, decided to try flying. He had watched the pilots
    hover and fly and thought it looked easy. He got up to a high hover, then
    got rattled and set it down, HARD!
    According to Chad, this aircraft was the "bad luck bird". It was the last
    UH-1B gun ship received at issue and they always seemed to have problems with it,
    especially after wiring it up for a gunship. (64)
    (Photo courtesy Robert N. Daws)



    The very first XM-16 armament system installed on
    "Bandit" UH-1B aircraft. This system replaced the pieced
    and fabricated system which had been used for months and
    as seen in the photo above.
    (Photo courtesy Chad Payne)





    A permanent sign in front of the Bandit Platoon HQ
    showing all the members of the Platoon. The list is from
    the beginning of the Bandits up through about mid-1965.
    The sign was present in 1966-67, but didn't seem to
    be kept up to date. (65)
    (Photo courtesy Harold "Chip" Austin)



    SP4 Roberto Flores, Bandit 2 "Hog"
    crew chief (64-65)
    (Photo courtesy Ralph Orlando)

    B Model "Frog" with 48 rockets and 40MM(1965). A very big load for a UH-1B. Reduced fuel was the norm and a 1:1 vertical was constant. Most "Frogs" had 36 or 24 rockets. Note: Cabin top
    color bars. This color combination not known in 145th CAB.(1964)
    (Photo courtesy Ralph Orlando)
    2LT Wayne Wright getting familiar with captured VC hand made weapons at An Hiep SE of Saigon.(1964)
    (Photo courtesy Wayne Wright)
    2LT Wayne Wright pointing out where a single round "shot-out" hydraulic line on armament causing the aircraft to lose all hydraulics. Wright was CP w/ company CO, MAJ Hayes during the evacuation of Bo Tuc, a village north of Tay Ninh. They landed in the village. (1964)
    (Photo courtesy Wayne Wright)


    Bandit mascot, "Gunner". Found as a puppy, "Gunner" grew up and had a free run of the 118th Area. All agreed, this was better than ending up on Vietnamese table! No pictures available showing he actually flew as a Gunner!(1963)
    (Photo courtesy Chad Payne)


    No name known, but some have said this was the Senior Advisor! Anyway, Bandits loved their fellow animals. Where was his helmet?(1963)
    (Photo courtesy Chad Payne)


    "Look here, it will fit"!
    "Yea, but keep her light on the skids"(1963)
    (Photo courtesy Chad Payne)


    "Jerry" Peffers being the tourist with movie camera from atop "Bandit" perch.(1964)
    (Photo courtesy Chad Payne)


    Robert N. Daws outside his hooch.(64)
    (Photo courtesy Robert N. Daws)



    L to R: Robert D. "Bob" Hites,
    Joe Cooksey & Jack McKnight.(64)
    (Photo courtesy Robert N. Daws)


    SP4 Koge, a Bandit Crew Chief from Hawaii.(64)
    (Photo courtesy Melvin Koon)


    Crew Chief Gary Ogle at the ready in
    Bandit aircraft.(64)
    (Photo courtesy Melvin Koon)


    Joseph Roderich, Door gunner,
    by his Bandit "bird"(64).
    (Photo courtesy Eric Roderich, Son)


    Joseph Roderich, Shotgun Platoon door gunner in stateside fatigues and issued .45 pistol (64)


    A great bunch of "Shot Gunners" in the Bandits.
    Standing (L to R): SP4 Cole, Doug Gordon
    (white) and the rest unknown.
    Squatting (L to R): SP4 Paddie, ? .(64)
    (Photo courtesy Melvin Koon)


    WO1 Melvin Koon and some of the 10 holes in cabin and tailboom. 2 1/2 Km E. of Tan Uyen.
    Also on board were CPT Drake(P), Sp4 Guy Gordon(CE), and SGT Bread(Gunner).
    SGT Bread was only one wounded.(64)
    (Photo courtesy Melvin Koon)


    WO1 Melvin Koon and SP4 Paddie a
    Bandit Armorer.(65)
    (Photo courtesy Melvin Koon)


    SP4 Horace Cleveland Collins who was
    killed on 10 Feb 1965. He was a
    "Shot Gunner" from the 25th Div.(65)
    (Photo courtesy Melvin Koon)


    Don Parrish, Pilot 64-65 taking a ride to Bandit flight line. Note- no revetments during this time
    at the "Old Bird Cage in Bien Hoa
    (Photo courtesy Ralph Orlando)


    TOP GUN !

    The designation TOP GUN not only was used in the world of US Navy fighter pilots....it was also a designation awarded to the best helicopter gun ship platoon in the 12th Combat Aviation Group in Vietnam! At the time, the 12th CAG included at least 8 assault helicopter companies in several combat aviation battalions.

    Meeting north of Bien Hoa, above the serene and peaceful Song Dong Nai river, a large number of competing fire teams met to see who would be "crowned" the best at sinking 55 gallon barrels in the shortest time.

    Thanks to the aid and assistance of Barbara Ross of the Army Aviation Association of America(AAAA) and its magazine, ARMY AVIATION, an article published in the January 24, 1967 has been found and made available. The article is reprinted with the permission of ARMY AVIATION Magazine, and posted on this web site. The article was written by COL Raymond P. Campbell, Commanding Officer of the 12th Combat Aviation Group. To read each of the 3 pages of the article, you will need to have the Adobe Acrobat Reader.

    The reader is available FREE for download at the Adobe web site by clicking this logo




    The TOP GUN competition was quite handily won by the "crack" Bandit aerial gunnery team of CW2 Wyburn H. Burroughs, WO1 Marvin W. Schmidt, Crew chief SP4 Richard Wehr and Gunner PFC Payton Crawford, III. As can be seen in the article hardly anyone came close, although the gun crew from the 68th Assault Helicopter Company, "Mustangs" came in second.


    I Thought Bungee M-60's Were Outlawed?

    Photo taken in 68-70 period showing a CE/Door gunner using a BUNGEE Cord to suspend his M-60!!
    (Photo courtesy Joe Michalkiewicz)

    From the very beginning, higher HQs attempted to forbid gun platoons from using Bungee(which doesn't appear in my dictionary) cords to suspend the CE/Door gunner M-60's. It seems there were incidents or near incidents whereby a door gunner, because of "target fixation", allowed a firing M-60 to traverse into the skid or chin bubble of the Gun Ship. Well....there might have been some truth to the rumor! But, most Gunship pilots and crews felt this was a "small price to pay" for the absolutely essential covering fire-power provided by a Door gunner when in a steep, tight break or turn. Without it, "Charlie" just wasn't going to keep his head down. The M-60 hard mount on the Gunships was used, as various photos show. But, the added weight, plus limited traverse, plus the "damn thing" being in the way, always seemed to lead crew members to try and remove it for such utilitarian reasons. Many crews often just elected to leave the "damn thing" off. Often, the Bungee cord won out and was used......until someone shot up the door or skid. Then HQ's raised hell again and quickly "outlawed" the practice. It was an on again, off again thing. The Bungee suspended M-60 also allowed the hot brass to be "sprayed" all over the cock-pit, which is another story!

    Another shot of a bungee M-60 on Bandit "Hog" in the 67-68 time period.
    (Photo courtesy Jim Thorne)



    17 Pound vs. 10 Pound Rockets

    WO Joe Michalkiewicz, Bandit 34, showing a comparison of the new 17 pound warhead 2.75" folding fin rocket. Introduced sometime in 1968, the new rocket had basically the same rocket motor as the 10 pound warhead rocket. However, because of the much heavier warhead, the flight characteristics required the use of not only "windage" correction, but super-elevation. The 10 pound warhead had several versions including the HE, White phosphorus(WP) and Smoke. The new 17 pound warhead had several added varieties such as Flashette. Many stories have been told of the changes in flight characteristics from the original 6 pound to the 10 pound to the 17 pound warhead rockets. Joe Michalkiewicz remembers...."Boy, do I remember how much I didn't like the dropping trajectory of the new 17 lb rockets as compared to the good old straight-arrow 10 lbs. But, the payload was better with the 17s and after a while we got used to them."
    (Photo courtesy Joe Michalkiewicz)

    Bandit Tactics Guide

    A written guide for the orientation and training of Bandit pilots and crews was developed over the years. It is interesting reading with important "Cardinal Rules" and "Banditisms" which were derived from lessons learned in combat. The actual guide was used over 30 years ago and the techniques listed and outlined were the important building blocks for U.S. Army armed helicopter tactics in use, even today.