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Product Code: A173RDABBCPP3


173rd Airborne Brigade "Casper Aviation Platoon Black Patch" - On 5 May 1965 the Brigade was deployed to Republic of South Viet Nam becoming the first U.S. Army ground unit committed to the Vietnam War. The Casper Aviation Platoon first Commanding Officer was Captain Don Bliss. The 173rd AB deployed to Viet Nam on 5 May 1965 arriving at Bien Hoa Air Base.The origin of the Brigade Aviation Platoon's call-sign and Unit Pocket Patch "Casper the Friendly Ghost" later shorten to "Casper" in honor of the elusive Captain Leonard Small. The Casper Patch is believed to have been designed by Warrant Officer Don McGregor, who joined Casper Platoon after its arrival in Vietnam. Don Bachali first painted the image of "Casper the Ghost" on all aircrafts cowlings, doors and front bubble. Crewmember had the image painted on their Flight Helmets. The platoon's Observation OH-13 Helicopter was armed with Two Browning Machine Gunships and were known by their call-signs, "Hot Stuff". Later in 1968 their OH-6A LOH's Observation Helicopter call-sign changes names and became "Inferno" and a new "Inferno" Pocket Patch was designed. The remainder of the platoon continued to use "Casper" as its call sign with the exception of aircraft used for the Mortar Aerial Delivery Systems (MADS) which used call signs, "Mad Bomber" and "12 O'Clock High." From its arrival in Vietnam the 173d Airborne Brigade, Casper Platoon conducted every mission assigned with bravery and tradition. Casper missions consisted of Command and Control aircraft for the Brigade and Battalion commanders, psychological operations (loud speakers), aerial bombing missions, aero scout missions, artillery fire adjustment, convoy control, bomb damage assessment, re-supply, and medical evacuations. No other aviation unit remained with the Brigade from the beginning to the end. The Brigade Headquarters (Rear) was located an An Khe. The Brigade Headquarters (Forward) was located at Camp Enarie in Pleiku with Casper Platoon located principally at the "Crap Table" in An Khe. Casper Platoon was dispersed across the II Corps Tactical Zone's Area of Operation supporting the battalion commanders.

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