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The 101st Airborne Division “Screaming Eagles”is a U.S. Army modular light infantry division trained for air assault operations. During World War II, it was renowned for its role in Operation Overlord the D-Day landings starting 6 June 1944, in Normandy, France, Operation Market Garden, the liberation of the Netherlands and action during the Battle of the Bulge around the city of Bastogne, Belgium. During the Vietnam War, the 101st Airborne Division fought in several major campaigns and battles including the fight for Hamburger Hill in May 1969
WAR BOOTY FROM THE TET OFFENSIVE VIET CONG/PEOPLES LIBERATION FLAG BEN TRE 1968
Upon its arrival in Vietnam in 1965 (1st Brigade, followed by the 2nd and 3rd Brigades in 1968), the division was an airborne unit. In mid-1968 it was reorganized and redesignated as an airmobile division, then in 1974 as an air assault division. Both of these titles reflect the fact that the division went from airplanes as the primary method of delivering troops into combat, to the use of helicopters as the way the division entered battle. Many current members of the 101st are graduates of the U.S. Army Air Assault School and wear the Air Assault Badge. Division headquarters is at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. In recent years, the division has served in Iraq and Afghanistan. The division is one of the most highly decorated units in the U.S. Army and has been featured prominently in military fiction since its first deployment.
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1968 101st Vietnam River Rat watch with cuff
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Dustoff 65A flew a UH-1 Iroquois
The Rescue of Dustoff 65 ,,,was a battle in April 1968, during the Vietnam War. A Medivac helicopter was preparing to evacuate wounded soldiers from the United States 101st Airborne Division when a rocket hit the tail rotor forcing the helicopter down into the jungle. A rescue team spent five days finding, retrieving and extracting the men from the crashed helicopter while fighting off communist forces..
Following the Tet Offensive during the Vietnam War American forces tried to limit arms and material from being re-supplied to depleted enemy units via the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Supplies flowed through the A Shau Valley, about 30 miles (50 km) southwest of Hu, South Vietnam.
There elements of the 101st Airborne Division would frequently interact with NVA units. On 3 April 1968 during one such firefight the 101st took several casualties that required immediate medical evacuation.
A Bell UH-1H Iroquois helicopter (serial number: 66-17043) from the 498th Medical Company, 55th Medical Group, 44th Medical Brigade, originally from Fort Benning, operating under callsign Dustoff 65, was assigned to evacuate the wounded. Due to the thick jungle foliage the helicopter could not land and so the Americans used a “jungle penetrator”, which is a wedge-shaped stand attached to the helicopter’s winch to lift the wounded from the jungle floor to the hovering helicopter.
On board Dustoff 65 were:
Crash and rescue
As the helicopter was
hovering above the canopy a North Vietnamese Army rocket struck the tail
rotor resulting in a controlled crash landing a short distance away. In John
Cook’s book he claims that medic Bruce Knipe and crew-chief James Richardson
were blown from the helicopter but Knipe claims his safety harness
(nicknamed the Monkey tail) kept him in theaircraft
At the medic evacuation site
Lieutenant Tim Lickness, from the 502nd Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne
Division, saw the helicopter go down and immediately arranged for a five man
strike team to try and rescue the downed crew of Dustoff 65.
Four hours later, after trudging through thick jungle, with at least one enemy contact, Lickness’ team found the two survivors. The group discovered the medic in a tree with a broken hip while they were returning to American lines. Richardson’s body was not found for several weeks.
It took almost the whole day to extract the men to the 101st Airborne Division position and another three days to clear a big enough landing pad for another helicopter to Land .
When the 498th’s commander, Lt.
Col. Byron P. Howlett, Jr., learned of the downed helicopter he personally
oversaw the extraction operation, including piloting the helicopter that
finally extracted the men from the Dustoff 65 crew and the original wounded
from the 101st Airborne Division.