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VMO-6 History 1967 to 1969

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  • VMO-6 History 1967 to 1969

    Capt. Steve Pless of VMO-6, flying gunship escort out of Ky Ha for a medevac on 19 Aug, was enroute back into Ky Ha when he heard an Army Chinook (CH-47) pilot on the "guard channel" indicating that he had landed in an unsecured LZ with mechanical problems. He then came under VC attack and lifted off, leaving some of his passengers in the LZ whom immediately came under heavy VC fire. Pless was overhead and saw the VC capture the six Americans who were stranded there. He rolled in with rockets and machine guns, which caused the VC to scatter. Pless then landed, and together with his copilot and crew, left the helicopter to assist the survivors aboard his UH-1E. As they scrambled aboard, the VC resumed their attack on the helo crew and its new passengers. Overloaded, Pless jettisoned his rocket pods, and nursed his helicopter out of the LZ. Pless was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions, while his remaining crewmembers received Navy Crosses for their actions that day.

    On 1 January, USMC personnel in the RVN totaled 76,616 men. MAG-36 units at Quang Tri airfield were HMM-163 (H-34s), HMM-262 (H-46As) (from SLF) and VMO-6 (UH-1Es). MAG-36 supported 3rd Mar Div and Task Force Xray of the 1st Mar Div. VMO-6 remained all UH-1E through the year, based at Quang Tri.

    In order to provide improved response to 3rd Marine Division units along the DMZ, PROVMAG-39 was established from the existing units at Quang Tri on 14 Apr. The attached units were HMM-163 (H-34s), HMM-262 (H-46As) and VMO-6 (UH-1Es).Also included were HMM-161 (H-46Ds-Quang Tri), HMM-262 (H-46As-Quang Tri) The year ended with 80,932 Marines in RVN.

    To the north, MAG-36 and PROVMAG-39 provided helicopter-borne logistic support to Operation Dewey Canyon, which took place in the northwestern-most I Corps. By mid-1969, wing helicopters were flying at 150 percent of their authorized utilization. Crews were working near the 200 percent level. The lineup of helicopter groups and squadrons in July, just prior to the beginning of troop withdrawals: ProvMag-39 at Quang Tri with HMM-161, HMM-262, and VMO-6.

    VMO-6 stood down on 2 Oct and had departed for Okinawa by 20 Oct. ProvMag 39 was deactivated 31 Oct.

    19 March - Quang Tri City and Quang Tri Province abandoned by South Vietnamese Forces
    Writers: John Van Nortwick and Alan Barbour
    Assisted by: Mike Leahy, Gene Salter, Jim Shanahan, Roger Herman, Joe Novak, Bob Stoffey, and Ted Read .
    **GySgt [J.D.] MACK McKernan {Retired}**
    {VMO-6, Quang Tri} **{Mar69-Mar70}**