Company A, 4th Aviation Battalion

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Don "Mad Dog" Rawlinson
A Company,
4th Combat Aviation Batallion

Got this through Landis Bargatze, A/1/8.

Below is some interesting information from Don 'Maddog' Rawlinson. It gives us grunts a different perspective on what the 'Black Jacks' of the 4th Aviation Battalion did while supporting us. These chopper pilots and the entire air crew were our life-line for survival in the jungles. An awful lot of us made it back to the world alive, because of their bravery and hard work.

A big salute for everything you did and the many lives you saved in A1/8 and the other companies of the 1/8th Infantry Battalion.


Call sign Black Jack ___, A Company, 4th Combat Aviation Battalion (AM) - (AM = Airmobile, concept we deployed under.)

Initially when A Company first deployed we used the call sign Black Jack, followed by the last three of the aircraft tail number. Later in 1967 that was replaced by the call sign and the designated placement of 24 aircraft. Example; Black Jack 15, was aircraft 15 of 24.

1. A total of 25 aircraft made up an Aviation Company

2. Company = 4 platoons of 6 aircraft each and one aircraft for maintenance.

3. Most missions were single ship missions that involved support, resupply, command & control, Direct Artillery, Insertion, Extraction, LRRP, Dog

4. Heavy Lift operations typically involved three companies of aircraft (72 aircraft total) at 4 to 5 troops per aircraft. Number of troops depended upon temperature and humidity, density altitude. That could leave the troops exposed for up to 30 minutes before we could get back with more troops or begin resupplying the troops originally inserted. If it was too hot and humid, sometimes we couldn’t develop enough power to lift off.

5. Single company support would put 24 aircraft carrying 4/5 troops per lift for a total of 96 / 120 on 1 lift. They would normally insert an entire company into just about any LZ on one lift, however, it would be about 30 minutes before any of us could get back with supplies.

Huey Aircrew:

2 Pilots --- The Huey was designated a two pilot aircraft and required two pilots for safety and cockpit workload.

Crew chiefs --- loadmaster, fire guard, daily maintenance on aircraft, gunner during battle, loading and unloading of paxs (passengers), helped to clear the aircraft

Gunner = Protection of the aircraft, assist in loading and unloading the aircraft, assist with wounded, maintain the weapons, helped to clear the aircraft


The gunner and crew chief were responsible for fueling, checking the aircraft upon landing, loading food, water, ammunition, explosives, etc. on each successive flight during that day.

On days that were particularly long and grueling, when we landed the pilots got to retire for the day. Not so for the crew chief and gunner who typically worked on the aircraft preparing it for the next mission, before their day was done.

Posted 11 FEB 2013

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