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ORIGINAL 554 REDHORSE EXPEDITIONARY SQUADRON HEAVY CONSTRUCTION AND REPAIR

       

 
 
 

WELCOME TO THE ORIGINAL USAF

554 REDHORSE SQUADRON


PHAN RANG AB, VIETNAM

1 DECEMBER 1965-31 JANUARY 1967

OUR MOTTO
WE ALWAYS LEAD

SQUADRON OFFICERS & STATISTICS

COMMANDER: COLONEL JAMES P.CONTI

1st DEPUTY COMMANDER: LtCol JAMES M. MARTIN

2nd DEPUTY COMMANDER: LtCol ROBERT M. MIX

CHIEF ENGINEER OPERATIONS: Major ARTHUR F. CAYER

CHIEF AIRFIELDS: Major KENNETH E. MEYERS

CHIEF CONTONEMENTS: Major JOHN T. LARKINS

ADMINISTRATION OFFICER: Captain EDWARD M. McCARTNEY

CONSTRUCTION ENGINEER: Captain GERALD J. KUROUSKI

CONSTRUCTION ENGINEER: 1st LIEUTENANT JAMES O. PRICE

CONSTRUCTION ENGINEER: 1st LIEUTENANT IRA J. STUDEBAKER

CONSTRUCTION ENGINEER: 1st LIEUTENANT LLOYD M. STAFFORD

CHIEF LOGISTICS: 1st LIEUTENANT BRUCE E. EGGO

MEDICAL OFFICER: Captain JULIAN B. ULLMAN

FIRST SERGEANT: Master Sergeant MORRIS ESKENAZI

OFFICERS: 13

NCO'S & AIRMEN: 353

VIETNAMESE CIVILIANS: 318

TOTAL SQUADRON WORK FORCE: 684

AUTHORIZED: 915

IN THE BEGINNING:

ON OR ABOUT 8-10 AUGUST 1965, BRIEFINGS WERE HELD BY THE COMMANDERS OF THE ARMY, NAVY, AND AIR FORCE, AT HEADQUARTERS PACAF, TO ASCERTAIN AN ANSWER TO THE QUESTION, COULD EITHER THE ARMY OR NAVY CONSTRUCT AIR BASES AND SUPPORT THE AIR FORCE IN THE VIETNAM WAR AND FUTURE WARS. THE ANSWER WAS NO, EVEN THOUGH BOTH SERVICES HAD BATTALIONS ASSIGNED TO SUPPORT THE AIR FORCE.

AT THIS BRIEFING WAS THEN COLONEL WILLIAM TOM MEREDITH, HE STATED THE AIR FORCE COULD AND WOULD DO THE JOB. THUS THE SECAF ISSUED ORDERS FOR THIS TO BE CARRIED FORWARD. ACTIVATED THAT DAY WAS THE USAF REDHORSE.

ON, 1 OCTOBER 1965, SPECIAL ORDER G-173 WAS ISSUED FOR THE ACTIVATION OF TWO REDHORSE SQUADRONS, THE 554 AND 555 SQFUADRONS. ORIGINALLY THE ORDERS WERE ISSUED THAT THE 554 SQUADRON WOULD BE ASSIGNED TO CAMN RAHN BAY, VIETNAM.

ON, 15 OCTOBER 1965, COLONEL JAMES P. CONTI OFFICIALLY SIGNED IN TO LtCol TILLEY AS COMMANDER OF THE 554th REDHORSE SQUADRON, THUS THE BIRTH DATE OF REDHORSE.

ON, 21 OCTOBER 1965, SPECIAL ORDER G-181 WAS WRITTEN AND ISSUED TO COLONEL CONTI THAT THE 554th REDHORSE SQUADRON WOULD BE ASSIGNED TO PHAN RANG AB, VIETNAM AND THAT THE 555th REDHORSE SQUADRON WOULD GO TO CAMN RAHN BAY, VIETNAM.

THE AREAS KNOWN TO US AS PHAN RANG AB, OR TO THE VIETNAMESE AS BUU SON, AN-SON, MY-SON IN NINHTHUAN PROVIDENCE WAS LEASED FROM THE VIETNAMESE ON 6 SEPTEMBER 1965, ON VIETNAMESE ORDER NR 5905, FOR THE PURPOSE OF CONSTRUCTING A JET AIRSTRIP ON THOSE PARCELS OF REAL ESTATE. THIS ORDER GIVEN BY LtCol DIAH-VIET-LARG.

THE PLANNING AND START UP OF THE 554

ON OR ABOUT 16 OCTOBER 1965, THE OTHER OFFICERS BEGAN ARRIVING AT CANNON AFB, NEW MEXICO AND BRIEFING BEGAN TO TAKE PLACE WITH THE BASE COMMANDER, BASE PERSONNEL OFFICER, AND MILITARY POLICE, BRINGING EVERYONE UP TO DATE ON WHAT WAS ABOUT TO TAKE PLACE AT CANNON.

DURING THE MONTHS OF OCTOBER AND NOVEMBER MANY BRIEFINGS TOOK PLACE WITH TACTICAL AIR COMMAND PACAF HEADQUARTERS, AIR FORCE PERSONNEL HEADQUARTERS TO CUSTOM DESIGN THE ORIGINAL 554th CIVIL ENGINEERING SQUADRON HEAVY REPAIR FOR THE TASK OF CONSTRUCTING THE "JET AIRFIELD" AT PHAN RANG, VIETNAM.

THE QUESTION HAS ARISEN AS TO WHERE THE NUMBERS 554 CAME FROM? THERE WAS A BASE CIVIL ENGINEERING AT FORBES AFB, KANSAS THAT WAS DEACTIVATED, THE 4554th, THE NUMBER WAS SHORTENED AND GIVEN TO THE 554, THIS ACCORDING TO ONE PARAGRAPH OF THE HISTORY TAPE.

PRIMARY MISSION

TO PROVIDE A RAPID RESPONSE CAPABILITY WITHIN THE AIR FORCE TO AUGMENT BASE ENGINEER FORCES IN THE EVENT OF HEAVY BOMB DAMAGE OR DISASTERS, AS WELL AS ACCOMPLISH MAJOR REPAIRS WHERE CONTRACT CAPABILITY IS NOT READILY AVAILABLE. AS A BY-PRODUCT OF THIS CAPABILITY, "EXPEDITIONARY AIRFIELDS", USING AM-2 MATTING AND AUSTERE CONTONEMENT FACILITIES COULD BE BUILT, TO PROVIDE A CAPABILITY WHICH WILL NOT DUPLICATE ANY EXISTING EFFORT BUT "FILL THE GAP" UNTIL THIS EFFORT IS MADE AVAILABLE TO THE AIR FORCE AND REMAIN TO THE AIR FORCE, THE CAPABILITY TO PROVIDE "EXPEDITIONARY AIR FIELDS" AND AUSTERE CONTONEMENT FACILITIES IN 30 DAYS TO INCLUDE:
A - EXPEDITIONARY AIRFIELDS
B - A 1,000 MAN CONTONMENT AREA (IF REQUIRED) USING TENTS AND WOOD FRAME CONSTRUCTION, WITH AUSTERE ROADS, ELECTRIC POWER, WATER, AND SEWAGE.

THIS REDHORSEMAN IS WHERE THE TERM "EXPEDITIONARY SQUADRON" HAS CAME FROM AND IT REMAINS SO TODAY AS OTHER SQUADRONS GO ON EXPEDITIONARY MISSIONS INTO THE UNKNOWN AND EXPECTED TO DO THE UNEXPECTED WITH FEW PERSONNEL AND LITTLE TO DO WITH.

PROJECT REDHORSE TRAINING PLAN

THIS PLAN WAS PREPARED BY THE DEPUTY FOR CIVIL ENGINEERING, HEADQUARTERS AIR COMMAND, LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, VIRGINIA IN OCTOBER 1965. THIS PLAN ESTABLISHED REQUIREMENTS AND PROCEDURES FOR TRAINING OF TWO CIVIL ENGINEERING SQUADRONS (HEAVY REPAIR) AT CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, NEW MEXICO. DURING THIS PERIOD OF NOVEMBER 1965 TO FEBRUARY 1966.

UNIT INTEGRITY WAS MAINTAINED THROUGHOUT THE TRAINING PERIOD AS OUR SQUADRON COMMANDER COLONEL JAMES CONTI MANAGED HIS OWN PROGRAMS.

TRAINING OBJECTIVES

A. ASSURE THAT EACH INDIVIDUAL UNDERSTANDS THE MISSION, ORGANIZTIONAL STRUCTURE AND OPERATIONAL CONCEPTS OF CIVIL ENGINEERING SQUADRONS (HEAVY REPAIR)
B. INDOCTRINATE PERSONNEL IN SUBJECT AREAS DESIGNED TO ASSURE INDIVIDUAL UNIT CAPABILITY OF LIVING AND WORKING UNDER FIELD CONDITIONS.
C. QUALIFY INDIVIDUALS IN TECHNIQUES PECULIAR TO MISSION REQUIREMENTS OF HEAVY REPAIR SQUADRONS.
D. PROVIDE TRAINING EXERCISES AND PROJECTS TO CLOSELY APPROXIMATE UNIT'S ASSIGNED MISSION.

ANOTHER PART OF THE TRAINING WAS TO LEARN TO COPE WITH THE PHRASE "PENNY SHORT" WHICH CAME ABOUT DURING GOOD NATURED RIBBING FROM THE "TRIPLE NICKEL" HORSEMEN AT THE BEGINNING OF TRAINING PERIOD.

NEXT TRAINING WAS ON ALL ASPECTS OF INFANTRY BASIC TRAINING, RIFLE FIRING, WHERE SOME HORSEMEN ACHIEVED "EXPERT" WITH M-16's, SQUAD TACTICS, AND OTHER INFANTRY TACTICS, CHEMICAL AND BIOLOGICAL WARFARE, FIRST AID, FIELD LIVING, SANITATION, TRAINING ALSO INCLUDED ORIENTATION ON VIETNAM AND VIET CONG TACTICS, MINES, AND BOOBY TRAPS.

TECHNICAL TRAINING COVERED CARE AND OPERATIONS OF ROCK CRUSHER PLANTS, WELL DRILLING, HEAVY EQUIPMENT OPERATION, AND MAINTENANCE, EXPOLOSIVES, DEMOLITION, AND ALL OTHER PHASES OF CIVIL ENGINEERING CONSTRUCTION.

DEPLOYMENT

THE OPERATIONAL CODE NAME FOR THE START UP AND THE DEPLOYMENT OF THE FIRST TWO REDHORSE SQUADRONS WAS "OPERATION CORONA HARVEST."

THE FIRST TO ARRIVE AT PHAN RANG,VN. WAS THE ADVANCE PARTY OF TWENTY PERSONEL, DEPLOYED ON 6 JAN.66, AND THEY ARRIVED 8 JAN.66. THE JOB OF THE ADVANCE PRATY WAS TO SET UP, MESS AREA, CANTONMENT AREA, AND SANITATION AREAS. THIS FEAT WAS ACCOMPLISHED WITH NOTHING MORE THAN A FEW HAND TOOLS AND GOOD OLD AMERICAN INGENUITY.

THE FIRST SECTION OF THE MAIN BODY OF THE SQUADRON ARRIVED AT PHAN RANG, VN ON 1 FEB.66. THIS WAS A GROUP OF SOME 20 TO 30 PERSONEL INCLUDING COL. CONTI, FIRST SERGEANT, AND MYSELF "DON E AVERETT". WE SET RIGHT TO WORK ON SELECTING AN AREA TO CONSTRUCT A PERMANENT CANTONMENT AREA, WHICH WAS BUILT OUTSIDE THE PERIMETER OF WHAT WAS THE MAIN BASE AT THAT TIME. TO COMPLETE THE CANTONMENT AREA AS IT NEEDED TO BE MANY CONVOY TRIPS, BY THE ADVANCE PARTY AND THE FIRST GROUP REQUIRED MANY CONVOY TRIPS TO CAMN RAHN BAY, THRU 46 MILES OF VIET CONG INFESTED AREAS. ALL OF US HAD TO RESULT TO MANY DIFFERENT METHODS TO AQUIRE THE MATERIALS REQUIRED TO GET THE JOBS AT HAND ACCOMPLISHED. ON 9 FEB.66 MAJOR KENNETH MYERS AND A SIXTY MAN FORCE WAS SENT TO CAMN RAHN BAY, TO UNLOAD THE EXPORT AGENT, THE SHIP WITH THE 554 SUPPLIES AND EQUIPMENT ABOARD. AGAIN I WAS ONE OF THE SIXTY MAN FORCE. THE SUPPLIES AND EQUIPMENT WAS PUT ABOARD A NAVY LCI SHIP AND TRANSPORTED TO PHAN RANG HARBOR THIS WAS A SANDY BEACH 12 MILES EAST OF THE BASE ON THE SOUTH CHINA SEA. WE WERE HAMPERED IN THE UNLOADING PROCESS BY THE VIETNAMESE LONGSHOREMEN AS THEY WENT ON STRIKE FOR HIGHER PAY TO UNLOAD THE SHIP. THEY WERE BEING PAID 10 CENTS PER DAY NORMALY, BUT WANTED 50 CENTS PER DAY, AND IT WAS OK'd AND THE JOB COMPLETED. HARASSMENT WE WERE HARASSED CONSTANTLY BY SMALL ARMS SNIPER FIRE EACH TIME WE CONVOYED TO AND FROM CAMN RAHN BAY, ALSO AT THE BEACH HARBOR, AND AT THE ROCK CRUSHER AREA, THOUGH THAT PROBLEM WAS SOLVED BY CALLING IN " PUFF THE MAGIC DRAGON".

SQUADRON ACCOMPLISHMENTS

CLEARED & GRUBBED1,834,573 SY AGGREGATE55,571 CY SPOILS REMOVED178,789 CY
SAND6,632 CY BASE COURSE76,599 CY FILL253,605 CY
SANDBAGS190,560 EA TENTS68 EA TENT FLOORS-WOOD63 EA
TENT PADS-CONCRETE68 EA BUTLER BLDGS7 EA METAL BLDG9 EA
QUANSETS8 EA BAK-12 BARRIER4 EA SW INFLATABLES5 EA
ROAD REPAIRS5 EA PSP MATTING215, 073 SF MESS HALLS2 EA
3000 BBL WATER TANK2 EA ROADS CONSTRUCTED5 MI REVETMENTS ARMCO2,180 LF
CULVERTS1,284 LF TWO STORY DORMS29 EA LATRINES2 EA
EQUIPMENT OPERATION54,917 HRS MILITARY (PROD)357,07 MH RVN CIV118,124 MH
TOTAL SF BLDG278,510 SF RUNWAY LIGHTING10,000 LF MISC SHOPS12 EA
WATER HAULED2,910,515 GAL CONCRETE6,154 CY CONVOYED MAT240 TN
AMMO MOVED1,500 TN RATIONS MOVED700 TN SHIP TO BEACH5,000 TN
BEACH TO SHIP5,000 TN SHIP TO BEACH PR5,000 TN BEACH TO PR5,000 TN

THIS IS REALLY IMPRESSIVE WORK BY THE VERY FIRST AIR FORCE COMBAT ENGINEER SQUADRON EVER IN AIR FORCE HISTORY AND WORKING UNDER SUCH HARDSHIPS OF SHORTAGES OF MATERIALS, EQUIPMENT, AND COOPERATION.

LIST OF THE VERY FIRST 554 RED HORSEMEN!

SSgt Don Redd TSgt Horace Doyal SSgt A.J. Caparota
CMSgt T.Fl Kirk MSgt J.L. Minds MSgt M. Karashopoff
MSgt M.C. Rodden MSgt M. Bluford TSgt J.C. Bailey
TSgt R.G. Franko CMSgt C.A. Wulff MSgt G.D. Denny
SMSgt D.D. Shiverdecker SMSgt V.W. Bryson TSgt Bill Larrison
SSgt F. Belmares SSgt Carl Potter Sgt Scott
Sgt Padilla Sgt Berry AMN Taylor
AMN Black AMN Love AMN Yoder
AMN Hernandas AMN Heidebrecht AMN Havard
AMN Legett AMN Bearer AMN Dressel
AMN Drencelowz AMN Eastman AMN Fowler
TSgt Clark E. Sessions AMN Fryman AMN Greco
AMN Gerss AMN Chapman AMN Dorman
AMN McDaniels AMN Aubrey TSgt Walt Engeman
AMN H.G. Heilbron AMN J.B. Moore AMN Hassler
AMN Bullock AMN Evans Sgt Big John Schulte
Sgt Buck Odom Sgt Stoney Wheat Sgt Koropsak
AMN Harvey Lewis AMN Richard Gendreau MSgt Hardesty
Sgt Carl Allen Sgt Al Springs Sgt Wilford L. Brien
Sgt Bill Wilson AIC Mike Crampton Sgt Ray Morris
Sgt Cox Sgt Maurice May TSgt George Ezell
SSgt Fred Bohlken AIC Chico Guerra Sgt Sal Salle
Sgt Bill Wells Sgt Pat Keaton Sgt Bourgeois
Sgt George Potts Sgt Grimes Sgt Larry Wilson
Sgt Snowadski Sgt Doan Sgt W.D. Brown
Sgt Brea SMSgt J.H. Allard SMSgt E.J. Thompson
MSgt Salley R. Naylor MSgt George Cassens SSgt Ronald Ward
MSgt John W. Burkett Sgt Ricardo Leal Jr. AIC Don E. Averett

This is the 554th Red Horse Squadron's advance party to Phan Rang Air Base, Vietnam in 1966. In back row from left to right is Joe VanHooser and Arthur Tribble. In the front row from left to right is Carl Allen, R.W. Neipow, and Fred Farmer. Picture was submitted by Arthur Tribble.


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