The following is an operational summary of an actual Eagle Force operation carried out by the 21st Infantry Division, ARVN;
NAME: Duc Thang 17/42
DATE: 22 may 1963
PLACE: 21st Division tactical Area, Vicinity Bac Lieu, Ba Xuyen Province
CONTROL HQ: 21st Infantry Division
MISSION: 21st Division (-) attacks at 220700 May, north from Xom Phuoc Thanh to kill or capture enemy forces in the area; heliborne strike force "Eagle" attacks targets of opportunity.
NARRATIVE: The plan envisioned one battalion attacking on two "axes of advance", a Ranger Company in a mobile blocking role; one M113 company with one Ranger Company in a screening role and the 21st Division Reconnaissance Company and one Ranger Company as "Eagle" forces. The plan was considered to be tightly controlled for ground troops but extremely flexible in regards to use of "Eagle". The 21st Recon Co and the 362nd Ranger Co provided 40 selected personnel to be employed as the "Eagle" strike force hovering over the area of operation, prepared to strike targets of opportunity, block escape routes and reinforce units on the ground.
The "Eagle" force was divided into four 10 man squads, each squad wearing a distinctive colored scarf for identification and control purposes. Six (6) armed UH-1B's (escort) and four (4) unarmed UH-1B's (troop transport) were employed. "Eagles" mission were, blocking, searching, reconnaissance in force and attacking enemy troops flushed by foot troops.
The armed UH-1B's in addition to their normal mission of escort and close-in fire support, provided an excellent means of rapidly evacuating POW's from the area of operation. POW's were evacuated by the armed UH-1B's on their return trips from the area of operation for refueling. Evacuation thus relieved the ground units from having to sacrifice much needed troops for guard duty.
During this operation "Eagle" conducted seven landings, accounted for 32 enemy KIA and captured 21 prisoners. Ground units captured an additional 34 POW's. Armed UH-1B's of "Eagle" evacuated all of these prisoners.
BACK TO TACTICS
US Army Military Assistance Advisory Group Vietnam (MAAG) - Lessons Learned No. 32 Eagle Flight Operations (October 1963)