61. Men Of Hell's Half Acre Article by SP4 David R. Wood

Located along the coast of the Republic of Vietnam between Nha Trang and Qui Nhon is a wide expanse of sandy beach. It is so dense with the grainy substance that it can trap the wheels of a two and a half ton truck in its grip. During the hot, dry season, the sun reflects the heat off the white sand scorching anything that dares rise above its level.


The monsoon season does not bring with it any relief to the occupants of the sandy beach. Storm squalls whip across the now soggy sands. The expanse of beach is known to some of its inhabitants as Phu Hiep, but to the men of the 134th Assault Helicopter Company it is known as Hell's Half Acre.


The Demons, who fly the UH-1H slick in the first and second airlift platoon, and the Devils, who fly the C-model gunship in the third armed platoon, are commanded by Major William R. Hensley. They have made their home within the Half Acre since their arrival in Vietnam, Thanksgiving Day, November 24, 1967.


The mission of the 134th is to provide tactical air movement of combat troops and combat supplies and equipment within the combat zone as directed by the 268th Combat Aviation Battalion. The Demon Company is organized like any other assault helicopter company except instead of directly supporting a specific unit; they are assigned as general support to the 268th CAB. This results in the company supporting, at one time or another, every unit active in their area of operations (AO), II Corps. We have the opportunity to work a wide variety of missions for a wide variety of terrain, said the Demon commander.


The 134th commits a good percentage of its aircraft daily for customary missions. Inserting and extracting long range recon patrols (LRRP), lifting troops and resupplying them are a few of the missions performed for the 22nd ARVN Division. The 134th supports state department personnel in Phu Yen Province with provisions, as well as senior ARVN advisors in Phu Bon, Binh Dinh and Khanh Hoa Province.


Probably the most important regular mission is performed for the Qui Nhon Support Command. The operation involves continual daily visual reconnaissance of the pipeline that runs from Vung Ro Bay to Qui Nhon and Pleiku. The Demons also provide support for the 6th Battalion, 32nd Artillery at Phu Hiep and the 2nd Battalion, 13th Artillery at Phu Cat.


Other free world forces within II Corps continually receive support from the men of the 134th. Other than routine support, the 134th reinforces the other companies within the 268th CAB when they are short of aircraft. They also support the Famous Fighting Fourth and the 173rd Airborne Brigade, two US units at LZ English.


The complete list of units supported is too lengthy to include here.The number of aircraft used daily by the units varies from day to day. They were used enough during 1969 to account for approximately 185,600 sorties in 30,598 hours. The new year is off to a good start with 518 hours accumulated by the middle of January.


The airlift platoons transported a conservative 152,000 troops last year. Even though the 134th is not a major resupplying unit, it did account for approximately 1300 tons of cargo hauled in 1969.


During some of their most recent action, the 134th has taken part in night combat assaults (CA) and search and rescue (S&R) missions. While in support of the 28th ROK Regiment, the Demons were called on one night in January to perform a night CA. Major Hensley gave an account of the action.


Two companies of the 28th Regiment were inserted in two LZs 10 miles south of Phu Hiep. Approximately 12 minutes after our operations received the call, we had troops into their LZ under the illumination of ROK artillery and the mission completed.


Search and rescue is another operation which is performed by the 134th when called upon. During a three week period in December and January, 134th aircraft rescued two F-100 pilots. They were picked up after spending less than five minutes on the ground. The most recent S & R took place within their own company. It involved the snatching of three crewmen from the grasp of Charlie. Their gunship had gone down near LZ English while escorting a Dustoff.


This rescue exemplifies the attitude of the company. As Demon Six said, The company attitude is not for me but for we. We look after and take care of our own. The company proudly upheld their attitude during this S &.R


Whether in direct support or general support, the Demons need aircraft to perform their mission. Demon maintenance is relied upon to keep 134th aircraft available. On average during 1969, aircraft availability was better than 80%.


The aim of the company is to strive for professionalism. commented CW2 Davis E. Chessher, Assistant Maintenance Officer. We not only train the pilot and aircraft commander in maintenance, but also the gunner and crew chief because they are the eyes and ears for the rear of the aircraft.


The company works at being safe and it has paid off, added the Demon leader. We have de-briefings at the end of each day where problems of the day are discussed. Everyone must be kept informed because we fly such a large area of responsibility.


The task of the entire company is accomplished with responsibility, sound judgement, best equipment and the best training which has resulted in a more professional unit. These words of Major Hensley summarize his feelings toward the unit that he feels is the best in Vietnam.


Whether it is battling with the elements of Hell's Half Acre or Charlie, the 134th is constantly in fighting trim. If Charlie ever had the choice of confronting the Demons or the Devil himself, he would fare far better descending into the inferno of the underworld.


AM Def Ser Cam

Last modified: Monday June 27th, 2022