Dustoff: The Memoir of An Army Aviator

By Michael J. Novosel | Go to book overview
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Military Operations Increase

The summer of 1966 saw a gradual buildup of forces in III Corps as the 1st and 25th Infantry Divisions kept the pressure on the Viet Cong. The preponderance of my flying was in support of units of the 1st Division that mounted simultaneous operations throughout the corps area. They were involved in Operations Paul Revere, Fillmore, Fresno, Santa Fe, and El Paso. Our rescue mission on the Minh Thanh road was in support of 1st Division units during Operation El Paso. By the end of June 1966, enemy losses as a result of the operations were 685 killed, 29 captured, and 124 weapons seized. The operations continued into July.

To keep pace with increased military operations, dustoff units were reorganized when the 254th Medical Detachment was formed and placed at Long Binh. The 57th and 283d Medical Detachments were given more space in a large hangar at Tan Son Nhut. The move increased the efficiency of operations despite the rotation of many of our pilots to the States.

The 283d lost its commander, Major Koch, as well as Captains Colbert, Borth, Lombard, and Rothwell and Lieutenant Sawyer. They were replaced by Majors Bill Briot (the new CO), Floyd (Flood) Coddington, and Warren (Punchy) Hoen; Captains Charley Webb, Joe Fulghum, John Hosley, and John Colvin; and Lt. Mel Ruiz. Coddington and Hoen were aviator retreads -- that is, they returned to flying duty after years of ground assignments with the Medical Service Corps. The others, except for Charley Webb, were relatively recent graduates from the army's flight training center at Fort Rucker in Alabama. None had any practical instrument flight experience.


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