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SGT Scott Cummings, Catkiller Motor Sergeant


     220th Aviation Company personnel initially wore the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, shoulder patch, from July 1965, but changed to the 1st Aviation Brigade patch when our unit joined the 223rd Combat Aviation Battalion in September 1966.

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Catkiller operationational area, by Charles Finch

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Some of the much-appreciated men who kept them running! kneeling working on the prop is Al Lopez and standing Ken Lorentz. Photo by Charles Finch

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Catkiller Video

The Above Video Uploaded to YouTube on Dec 4, 2007:

This film shows aerial views of the flying area of the 220th Reconnaissance Airplane Company (RAC) and scenes from their officers' club during a visit from a USO sponsored entertainment group. Pilots in the 220th RAC were called "Catkillers." The Catkillers were based at Hue Phu Bai airfield, approximately 10 miles south of Hue, the ancient capitol of Vietnam. Their flying area was from just north of DaNang to the DMZ separating North from South Vietnam. The unit flew O-1 Birddogs. These single engine, high wing aircraft, L–19’s missions included artillery adjustment, forward air control, radio relay, convoy cover, naval gunfire, target analysis and combat observation. The "Dogs", as they were called, were two seat aircraft which carried no armament accept for up to eight 2.75 inch rockets which were used primarily to mark targets. The 1st platoon was assigned to support the marines near the DMZ and the Ho Chi Minh trail. The rest of the company provided support for the 101st Airborne Division, ARVN's and Navy ships off the coast for fire direction. The company flew reconnaissance missions in northern I Corps near the DMZ and the trail through Laos. This sequence of aerial scenes shows the military installations in the Phu Bai area then moves to the city of Hue where main focus is "The Citadel" the fortress walled home of former kings of Vietnam. The following scene is of the Marine base at Dong Ha, several miles south of the DMZ. The film then moves to aerial scenes of a Birddog flying near the famous "Rockpile" area, around which some intense battles were fought. The next scene is of an air strike being coordinated near the DMZ. The last aerial scene is taken in the DMZ near where the Ben Hai river empties into the sea. The subject matter in this footage is the giant garrison size flag the North Vietnamese had erected in the middle of the DMZ. As a footnote, subsequent to this film being shot, one of the Catkiller pilots successfully hit the flag with a 2.75 inch white phosphorous rocket and burned it to the ground! The final scene is of Catkiller pilots and their comrades doing a little "serious partying" after a long day on the job! Phu Bai was Alright!

COMMENT: Catkiller Historian Gene Wilson adds these corrections to the above paragraph:

This film must have been between June 1968, when the 4th Platoon was ‘dissolved’ and made part of the 1st Platoon, and September 1969—when the 4th Platoon was once again made a part of the 220th. During those months life at Phu Bai was much different than it was when only the Company Headquarters was there prior to the Summer of 1967.

The DMZ Platoon was the 4th Platoon, which had been evacuated from Dong Ha in August and was the only platoon based with the Company Headquarters in Phu Bai at that time. The 1st Platoon was still based at Quang Ngai until after Christmas (1967) when the 21st Avn Co came into Chu Lai—then the 1st Platoon moved to Phu Bai and in early January 1968 joined the 4th Platoon in support of the 3rd Marine Division and the 108th FA out of Dong Ha on the DMZ and the northern I Corps area. The 2nd Platoon was based at Hue/Citadel until Tet 1968 (Jan) when it was evacuated to Phu Bai. The 3rd Platoon was based at Da Nang/Marble Mountain until September 1968. The “partying” pilots may have been in the new officers’ club—and may have included pilots from Hqtrs, 4th and 2nd Platoons—but the club was not “officially” opened until December 28th (See 1967 History Index). And to the best of my knowledge, at that time the 220th was mounting only 4 rocket tubes.

Gene Wilaon
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