Honors and Lineage
Click on the AF Outstanding Unit Citation ribbon to see the Honor awarded to the 505th Tactical Control Group.
Webmasters Note About This Report:
If you're interested in the beginning of the 505th TCG then read on. This was the first History Report created under the new organization in 1965. As you read through the material you'll notice several different writing styles. I've had to write unit histories before, hated it and unfortunately tended toward the succinct. As you'll see here some authors embrace the task with more vigor than others do. In retrospect I wish more of the authors had taken, or had the time to take, the extra effort in developing a complete picture. As you'll see by the writing of the author for the 20th TASS this report served as an excellent vehicle to shine the spotlight on his unit for "higher headquarters".
Lee Dixon firstname.lastname@example.org
The following report covers the period from July 1, 1965 thru December 31, 1965
505th Tactical Control Group: The 505th TCG is assigned to the 2nd Air Division and was activated on 1 August 1965. The group was originally designated as the 6250th Tactical Air Support Group (PROV). The formation of this new group resulted from the implementation of the Southeast Asia Integrated Tactical Control System (SEAITACS).
In order to understand the necessity for the SEAITACS, and the formation of the 505TCG it is necessary that the background of this concept be explored. In 1961, a study of the Vietnamese Air Force operation revealed that there was no system for directing or controlling air strikes. As a result of these deficiencies, a system was established for control of tactical air in "small war operations" along lines developed by the Air Ground Operations School at Keesler AFB, MS. On 30 December 1961, Thirteenth Air Force Operation Plan 226-61 was published establishing a Tactical Air Control System in Vietnam. This plan called for Air Operations Center, two Air Support Operations Centers, Air Liaison Officers, and Forward Air Controllers.
The Air Operations Center was designated at Tan Son Nhut and became operational on 14 January 1962. The ACC was manned by VNAF and USAF personnel. An Air Support Operations Center was established at Da Nang in late January 1962 for support of I Corps. Another Air Support Operations Center was established at Pleiku in January for support of II and III Corps. Later, in March 1963, Air Support Operations Centers were established in III and IV Corps areas. This in essence was the beginning of the Tactical Air Control System.
By April 1963, 32 PCS Liaison Officers in Vietnam were assigned to each Corps and Division with regiments covered on an "as needed" basis. The VNAF provided L-19 FAC vehicles at division level until the arrival of the 19th TASS with 22 O-1Fs in July 1963.
In late 1963, a study of the TACS revealed one major deficiency, that being a slow reaction time. To correct this, a new system called the VNAF Air Request NET was implemented in May 1964 by 2AD/VNAF. This system to monitor these requests and stopping them in a five minute period if desired. The number of ALO/FAC's were increased and the new system was implemented in all Corps areas. Tactical Air Control Parties, with ground radio equipment were sent into the field starting in June 1964 and by the end of 1964, TACP's were in all four Corps areas.
With the introduction of USAF jet aircraft to in-country operations in February 1965, plans were made for three additional TASS's. These were to become operational in August 1965 with some 120 O-1F aircraft and crews in Vietnam.
In August 1965, the Air Operations Center was re-designated the Tactical Air Control Center and the ASOC's became the Direct Air Support Centers.
On 1 August 1965, the 6250th Tactical Air Support Group (Provisional) was established to provide supervision and support for the Tactical Air Support and AC&W elements of the Tactical Air Control System that was developing with the buildup of US Forces. On 8 November 1965, this unit was re-designated the 505th Tactical Control Group by PACAF at which time it became a legal entity to which units and personnel could be assigned. The unit was originally and is presently under the command of Colonel Charles L. Daniel. Personnel from all commands formed the nucleus of the new group. These included operations, maintenance, supply, personnel, administrative, analysis, and materiel specialists. By the end of December 1965, the 505th TCG had it full complement of personnel which included 23 officers and 48 airmen.
On 8 November, the subordinate units assigned to the 505th TCG were four (4) Tactical Air Support Squadrons (19th, 20th, 21, and 22nd), two (2) Tactical Control Squadrons (619th and 620th), and one (1) Tactical Control Maintenance Squadron (505 TCMS).
The 19th, 20th, 21st, and 22nd Tactical Air Support Squadrons were assigned to the 505th Tactical Control Group on 8 November 1965 for command, administrative, and limited logistical support. Operational control of these units still remains with the Tactical Air Control Centers. The 19th, 20th, 21st, and 22nd TASS's are presently at Bien Hoa, Da Nang, Pleiku, and Binh Thuy respectively and are commanded by LtCol Daniel Miller, LtCol Sam Pool, LtCol Jack Martin, and LtCol Harold Sperber. Each of these units is authorized 30 O-1E/F type aircraft.
The 619th TCS and 620th TCSare presently the Tactical Control Squadrons operating as subordinate units of the 505 TCG. Operational control of these units is the responsibility of the TACC. The 619th TCS is presently commanded by LtCol George Collins. The 620th TCS is presently commanded by LtCol William Meyers. The 619th TCS was originally assigned to the 5th Tactical Control Group at Clark AB. The 505th TCG assumed the responsibility for administrative, command and logistic support of the 619th and detachments thereof on 8 November 1965. At this time, Detachment 1 of the 619th was redesignated the 620th TCS. The 619th is located at Tan Son Nhut, RVN and has detachments located at Ubon - Det 2 (Thailand), Can Tho - Det 3 (RVN), Udorn - Det 4 (Thailand), Nakhon Phanom - Det 5 (Thailand), Greenhill - Det 6 (Thailand), Trang Sup - Det 7 (RVN), Ca Mau - Det 8 (RVN), Ban Me Thuot - Det 9 (RVN), Pleiku - Det 10 (RVN), and Cam Ranh Bay - Det 11 (RVN). The 620th TCS is located at Danang (RVN) and has one detachment located at Dong Ha (RVN).
The 505th Tactical Control Maintenance Squadron was assigned to the 6250th TASG (PROV) on 1 August 1965 under the provisions of the SEAITACS plan. The squadron at that time was designated as the 6250th Tactical Communication Maintenance Squadron (PROV). The squadron was re-designated the 505th Tactical Control Maintenance Squadron on 8 November 1965. The squadron is presently commanded by Major John E. Ryan.
The 505th TCMS had its original beginning in March 1964 when a section of the 2nd Air Division, then known as Contingency Communications Operations, began to undergo a drastic revision. Instead of merely providing a few radio operators at permanent locations, and occasional deployment of Mobil Radio Communications teams to provide for recovery operations, rescue work and some Air Force participation in Vietnamese Army operations, a Direct Air Request NET was established. Radio operators and equipment were provided at various Vietnamese military echelons to establish a Direct Air Request NET in support of USAF Air Liaison Officers (ALO's) and Forward Air Controllers (FAC's) who provide tactical air request support for the Vietnamese Army. Twenty-nine AN/PRC-47 HF SSB radio sets, fifty (50) AN/PRC-41 UHF radio sets, forty-two (42) AN/PRC-25 FM radio sets, forty (40) KWM-2! HF SSB radio sets and an initial group of TDY radio operators constituted the beginning of the Direct Air Request NET.
In November 1964, the Contingency Communications Operations became known as "Project Pack-Rat", a staff agency of the 2nd Air Division. The section at that time consisted of two communications officers, 99 radio operators 19 maintenance technicians and 3 supply specialists. Since that time, "Project Pack-Rat" continued to expand with the influx of US Forces into Vietnam and finally, under the provisions of the SEAITACS, became the 6250th Tactical Communications Maintenance Squadron in August 1965.
The overall mission of the 505 TCG is to provide command and staff supervision over specified units assigned to the Tactical Air Control System under 2nd Air Division. Specific responsibilities of the group are as follows:
Tactical Air Support Squadron (TASS)
The mission of the Tactical Air Support Squadron is to:
Tactical Control Squadrons (TCS)
The mission of the Tactical Control Squadrons is to operate and maintain tactical control radar elements of the Tactical Air Control System in accordance with SEAITACS program. These squadrons with detachments are responsible for the following functions:
Tactical Control Maintenance Squadron (TCMS)
The mission of the 505th Tactical Control Maintenance Squadron is to:
505th TACTICAL CONTROL GROUP
The 505th Tactical Control Group had many accomplishments since its activation on 1 August 1965. The Group was organized into two basic sections, namely operations and materiel. The operations section was further divided into Tactical Systems, Current Operations, C&E Staff, Standardization, Personnel, Training and Administration. The Materiel Section was further divided into Supply, Maintenance Control, Quality Control, Analysis and Materiel Control.
During the Month of October, group personnel visited many of the operating locations of subordinate units in order to become thoroughly familiar with past operations and to formulate new procedures and standardize existing ones. These visits were extremely enlightening and enabled the group to effectively assume its responsibilities of supporting subordinate units and thereby increasing the effectiveness of the TACS. During the month of November, the group was involved in the deployment of equipment for establishing new radar sites at three new locations. These were Dong Ha, Ca Mau, and Cam Ranh Bay. Working in conjunction with the 5th Tactical Control Group, 619th Tactical Control Squadron and the 620th Tactical Control Squadron, these deployments were accomplished within a minimum time. The operating site of Dong Ha was activated on 25 Nov 65 and was designated as Detachment 1 of the 620th TCS. The site at Ca Mau was activated on 20 Dec 1965 and was designated as Det 8 of the 619th TCS. The site at Cam Ranh Bay was activated on 25 Dec 65 and was designated as Det 11 of the 619th TCS.
The Group Operations formulated plans and policies necessary for support of the SEAITACS plan. The C&E Staff programmed for all additional equipment necessary for subordinate units. The Operations Section determined operational requirements and set forth guidelines to fulfill them. The Standardization Section established checkout and proficiency requirements for all assigned pilots, the Administrative and Personnel Sections determined the additional personnel needed to support SEAITACS and UMD changes were submitted.
In the Materiel Division, the supply section was tasked to provide a wide variety of items such as vehicles, jungle clothing, electronic equipment, rockets, petroleum and furniture. Interservice support agreements were formulated for all necessary support. The Supply Section was also instrumental in establishing a Forward Supply Point at Tan Son Nhut consisting of critical items for all communications and electronic equipment in SEA. This Forward Supply Point will eliminate much of the lag time experienced in the past in obtaining C&E spares.
In the Maintenance Section, all functions required by AFM 66-1 were immediately instituted. The Quality Control Section made visits to all radar elements to observe and insure that maintenance practices conformed to established standards and that all equipment operated at maximum efficiency.
The Maintenance Control Section established equipment status reporting procedures, maintenance schedules, and coordinated in obtaining materiel support when necessary. The Analysis Section established maintenance data collection procedures for all USAF owned and operated CEM equipment possessed by subordinate units.
TACTICAL AIR SUPPORT SQUADRONS (TASS)
The 19th TASS during this reporting period flew 13, 250 sorties for a total flying time of 18,865 hours. The squadron possessed an average of 32 aircraft for this period. The 19th TASS trained 58 USAF pilots and 12 VNAF students in the O-1E/F program. Pilots of the 19th TASS earned the following medals during the reporting period: 4 DFC's , 2 Airman's Medals, 1 Bronze Star, 115 Air Medals, 4 Combat Readiness Medals, 5 AFCM's and 4 Purple Hearts.
The 20th TASS became fully operational on 4 September 1965. From 4 September 1965 thru 31 December 1965, the 20th TASS flew 3,961 sorties for a total of 6,851 hours, of these, 33% were FAC missions, 66% were VR missions and 1% was theatre indoctrination training. Full support was given to the Army Special Forces on operation 'Shining Brass". From 5 Dec 65 to 20 Dec 65, the 20th TASS provided full support for operation 'Tiger Hound".
Maintenance for the 20th TASS was provided by personnel detached from the 6253rd CAMRON, Nha Trang. Maintenance was adequate, although performing periodic inspection at Nha Trang was at times a handicap.
The 20th TASS submitted personnel of the unit for 22 Air Medals with 40 Oak Leaf Clusters and 5 Distinguished Flying Crosses. One Distinguished Flying Cross was disapproved while the remainder are still pending.
On 8 May 1965, the 21st Tactical Air Support Squadron was activated, although it did not become operational nor was it attached to a higher headquarters until 1 August 1965. At this time it became attached to the 6250th Tactical Air Support Group (PROV). Becoming operational one month prior to its target date meant that 21st TASS was able to take part in one of the largest battles of the Vietnam conflict to date, the Battle of Duc Co. the following is a chronological chain of events experienced by the 21st TASS during this reporting period.
Although the Squadron Commander and his Operations Officer and staff did not arrive from Bien Hoa until 15 August 1965, the new 21st TASS FAC's played a key role in saving the US Special Forces Camp at Duc Co, from 3 to 17 August 1965. Relatively new to the country and the job, five 21st TASS FAC's (three from Pleiku and two from Kontum) provided continual air cover in O-1 type aircraft from dawn to dusk throughout the battle, and rode in C-47 flare ships at night. They directed 127 air strikes killing 528 PAVN Regulars and destroying ten 50 caliber machine guns, two 30 caliber machine guns, one anti-aircraft emplacement and twenty-one mortar positions. They also provided air cover for continuous medivac missions into the camp, and their presence and ability to effectively direct air strikes in support of the ground force definitely kept a sizeable relief column from being decimated.
During this time period, 21st TASS FAC's took an active and significant part in thirty-nine major engagements with the Viet Cong or their PAVN allies. These actions occurred throughout the II Corps area. 21st TASS played a key role in the largest engagement with the Viet Cong in the history of the conflict up through October, 1965, the siege of Plei Me. On 18 August, 21st TASS initiated its VR program. This program became so effective at spotting Viet Cong targets that hand held camera program was established in early December to capture the VR targets on film. The Battle of Dak Sut, which was actually the repulsion of three separate VC attacks on the large but remote ARVN complex, was participated in by 21st TASS FAC's located in Kontum. Shortly there after, from 25 August to 10 September 1965, Operation Quin Thang 165 (Ramrod) was held. 21st TASS FAC's from Quin Nhon supported this road clearing operation by directing fifty A1-E strikes, four F-100 strikes and one B-57 strike, against constant ground fire, ambushes and automatic weapons fire for sixteen days. During "Ramrod", 21st TASS FAC's from Nha Trang were supporting Operation Than Phong III, a major effort to open Highway 21 to Ban Me Thout from Nha Trang. Within the six-day operation, 28 August - 3 September, one hundred and thirteen air strikes involving every type of strike aircraft belonging to Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps, were directed by the three Nha Trang FAC's. The conditions were equally as hostile as those encountered by the "Ramrod" FAC's.
Other major operations involving 21st TASS FAC's followed closely: "Tam Thang 118" on 6-9 September with FAC's from Ban Me Thout, "Than Phong 4" on 10 September with FAC's from Qui Nhon, Operation "Don Tre" on 22 September with FAC's from Tuy Hoa, and Operation 'Gibralter" from 19-21 September with FAC's from Qui Nhon. These were merely preludes to the Battle of "Bong Son" and Phu Cu Pass", which lasted from 23 September to 1 October and netted over 650 KBA, 300 of which were netted on one day, 25 September. On that same day one 21st TASS O1E, flown by a 21st TASS FAC received four hits from the continuously intense ground fire. The battle started when the Viet Cong overran the US Special Forces Camp at Bong Son and continued as relief forces were ambushed both at night and during the days to follow. The battle grew in such proportion that FAC's were called in from other 21st TASS operating locations as far away as Pleiku to augment the overworked FAC's from Qui Nhon. Constant air cover was flown by these FAC's, in O-1E aircraft during daylight and in C-123 flare ships at night. Time and again ground commanders praised the FAC's for directing strikes so accurately that the ground forces were saved from being overrun. During the Battle of Bong Son, the flexibility of 21st TASS was shown by the fact that the FAC's at Tuy Hoa were augmented in their operation 48th Quang Truh, held on 28 September.
Once again the Qui Nhon FAC's were tested in the Battle of "Phu Mi" on 4 October. Then Tuy Hoa FAC's responded once again in Operation "P.Y. 06/65" on 5 October. Two days later the 21st TASS FAC at Cheo Reo combined political psychological warfare and air strikes to effect the return of hundreds of Viet Cong sympathizers to the Government and by so doing, saving many friendly lives. He accomplished this by convincing the Province Chief to allow him to show the sympathizers a display of force by airpower and, afterwards, convinced them of the validity of the "Open Arms" policy by the use of psy-way aircraft.
On 11 October, 21st TASS began providing FAC's and O-1E aircraft to the US 1st Air Cavalry Division, engaged in two bloody battles east of An Khe. This program was so effective that the 1st CAV decided to employ 21st TASS facilities and instructor pilots to train its FAC's at Pleiku to engage the PAVN in the Siege of Plei Me and allow the 1st CAV FAC's to carry the battle on to the Ia Drang Valley. The concept was so sound that 21st TASS was chartered by Field Forces Vietnam to instruct its FAC's in O-1E flying and strike direction. As of 31 December, 30 Field Forces Vietnam FAC's, which consisted of the 1st CAV (airmobile), 101st Airborne Brigade, ROK Tiger Division, and ROK Marine Brigade, had successfully completed this program, a program designed and directed entirely by 21st TASS personnel.
(Transcribers note: The copy of this historical report was at some time read by someone at the Alfred Simpson Air Force Historical Library at Maxwell AFB that was familiar with this following battle. The parenthetical comments in the following paragraph are provided by that unknown reader/editor).
Immediately prior to or during the Siege of Plei Me, several operations were underway using FAC's from other 21st TASS operating locations. 'Quan Duc58/65", and "52/65", supported by FAC's from Gia Nghia, netted tremndous gains for the ARVN forces of that area. In two of those operations, quick response by the FAC's literally saved the lives of all the US Army Advisors and prevented massive slaughters of the ARVN by the Viet Cong. One strike netted 50 KBA; another two strikes netted 120 KBA. Another four-strike inuendo (underlined and !) netted 55 KBA, while yet another immediate air strike netted 100 KBA. During the same time period, on 19 October, the FAC at Bao Loc directed a single air strike, which netted 64 KBA with four F-11 aircraft. The major battle of this period, however, was the Siege of Plei Me. It lasted from 15 (19) October to 1 November (29 October) and netted over 860 KIA, the great majority by air strikes directed by 21st TASS FAC's both during the day and through the night. Again the FAC's from one 21st TASS operating location were augmented from those other locations. In this instance FAC's from Qui Nhon, Kontum, and Ban Me Thuot were brought into Pleiku. Over 600 strikes were directed by 21st TASS FAC's. The PAVN fought so fiercely that they were chained to trees with their automatic weapons. (undocumented) Seven (No!No!No!) strike aircraft were shot down, and an additional 13 aircraft suffered battle damage, during the 16 (10) day battle. This was the largest battle of (webmaster note: text missing) Plei Me will be documented as the turning point of the Vietnamese conflict. 21st TASS FAC's were instrumental in keeping both the camp and relief force from being overrun. Several times the fighters were directed to strafe and bomb immediately adjacent to or on the perimeter fence of the camp.
During the Siege of Plei Me, the FAC's at Tuy Hoa fought a sustained battle with the Viet Cong in Operation 'Phu Yen" 7 to secure the area's rice harvest. During this operation involving three 21st TASS FAC's , 465 KBA were counted, 238 by actual body count. The one crew chief attached to the 21st TASS at this operating location managed to launch 16 O-1E sorties per day for five straight days with three aircraft. Such support by crew chiefs and radio operators assigned to the 21st TASS cannot be neglected.
From 19 October to 8 November the FAC's at Phan Thiet netted 136 KWBA in nine widely scattered air strikes. Again two of the FAC's at Tuy Hoa distinguished themselves by halting a determined enemy offensive on 23 November, during the battle for the Tuy An District Headquarters. One Army O-1E was shot down and three damaged. Both Air Force observation aircraft also received battle damage. Although the weather was poor and the ground fire intense, these FAC's escorted and directed the movements of friendly ground forces in such a way that their relatively small force could be employed against the VS in the most effective manner.
On 30 November air strikes directed by 21st TASS FAC's from Qui Nhon in Operation 'Binh Khe" resulted in 32 KBA.
On 4 December, 21st TASS FAC's began directing air strikes at night from A-1E aircraft in support of "Fire Dragon", and on 6 and 7 December the Qui Nhon FAC's netted 160 KBA from two separate air strikes controlling F-11 aircraft. Unfortunately luck turned against the 21st TASS for the first time as two 21st TASS FAC's from Dalat were shot down on 14 December in an operation in Tuyen Duc Province in support of a ground operation.
In Lam Dong Province the two FAC's from Bao Loc netted 271 KBA in ten widely separated air strikes, between 19 October and 21 December. 21st TASS began supporting Operation "Tiger Hound" on 22 December, when sixteen of its FAC's were sent to Da Nang. Actually this operation had been supported out of Kontum and Pleiku by 21st TASS FAC's several weeks before, with varying success. On 28 December, 21st TASS FAC's from Pleiku began directing strikes from FC-47 and AC-47 aircraft in support of "Tiger Hound".
The last major action of 1965 taken part in by a 21st TASS FAC was Quang Duc 67/65. Out of Gia Nghia, this FAC directed air strikes in support of a reaction force attempting to relieve the Bu Prang outpost in Quang Duc Province. He also flew air cover, acted as a radio relay, and adjusted artillery, flying sixteen hours in 7 missions and controlling six strikes involving nineteen sorties during the first day of the operation in pursuit of two Viet Cong battalions. The mere presence of the 21st TASS FAC over the besieged outpost caused the VC to break contact and retreat, leaving 88 KIA and 45 weapons behind. Although the unit, newly formed and inexperienced, had some very difficult problems to over come, the numerous battles and the tremendous number of enemy casualties inflicted by air could certainly indicate that the 21st TASS has become a battle seasoned organization capable of performing its assigned mission in an outstanding manner.
The 22nd TASS averaged 1800 sorties per month from September thru December 1965. The standardization section of the 22 TASS designed ALO/FAC guidelines for performing missions in the most professional manner possible. The training program established and arranged to get all pertinent information to the field in the squadron FAC sheet. A portable MAP was also constructed with operating locations to familiarize newly assigned pilots with runway and airfield terrain. The 22nd TASS was the first all USAF unit in Binh Thuy area and is currently supporting 15 operational locations throughout the IV Corps, 7th, 9th, and 21st Divisions.
Aircraft losses for the four Tactical Air Support Squadrons during this period were as follows:
The minimum number of aircraft possessed by the four squadrons during this period was 118 and the maximum was 134. Authorizations called for a total of 120 O1-E/F type aircraft for the 505th TCG.
TACTICAL CONTROL SQUADRONS (TCS)During this reporting period the 619th TCS, 620th TCS, and detachments thereof supported the SEAITACS in an outstanding manner. With the 619th, 620th, and Det 4, 619th TCS assuming the responsibility of Combat Reporting Centers, the following is a consolidated summary of operational activities during Oct, Nov, and Dec 65.
Major radars operated and maintained during this period were as follows:
*(In-commission rate for all search radars was 95% and for Height 91%)
Summary of events for individual squadrons and detachments were as follows:
619th TCS - Saigon, Vietnam
Det 2, 619th TCS - Ubon, Thailand