D Troop 1/10th Cavalry, 1966-1971

“The Original D Troop”

Shamrocks in Vietnam

”In Country”

D Troop organized in 1965 in Ft. Lewis, WA, to provide air reconnaissance and rapid deployment capability to the US Army’s armored 1st Squadron 10th Cavalry.  D Troop’s “Shamrocks”, a name given them by CO MAJ Thomas Shaughnessy, deployed to Vietnam with the 2nd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division in 1966 where the unit remained continuously engaged until withdrawn in 1971.

Operating from  Dragon Mountain Base Camp (later known as Camp Enari) near Pleiku in Vietnam’s Central Highlands, the “Shamrocks”, were quickly engaged. With the 4th Division positioned astride a branch of the Ho Chi Minh Trail, which funneled North Vietnamese (NVA) troops into South Vietnam via nearby Cambodia, enemy contact was frequent and widespread.

D Troop’s mission was to deploy “Scout” aircraft to locate the enemy, then “Gunships” would suppress and destroy so that “Slicks” could insert Aero-Rifle infantry into the Landing Zone (“LZ”)  to hold the area until reinforced by ground units.  In fact, Shamrock aircraft found themselves involved in a continuous stream of missions in support of  a wide array of ground and other airmobile forces in the area.

In 1970, D Troop moved from Camp Enari to Camp Radcliff at An-Khe, and later would be based at Lane AAF in Qui Nhon.  D Troop’s Shamrocks distinguished themselves with bravery, resourcefulness and tenacity throughout their involvement in the Vietnam War and helped write an important chapter in Army Aviation history.

D Troop was a diverse mix of volunteer and drafted enlisted men, and pilot/officers, both groups made up of both career soldiers and those who counted down the days until they resumed civilian life. Living together, eating together, working together as days in country turned into weeks, and then months, with no real time off, deprived of even basic comforts, they performed remarkably.

Serving 1-year “Tours” (some for longer), an estimated 1200 men served in D Troop during its deployment in Vietnam.  For some, it was a brief interruption of their otherwise civilian lives, for others it was a stepping stone in military careers.  For all, the experience remains a defining moment in their lives.