The 19th TASS

 

Patch Description: On a white disc, a gremlin in a blue suit trimmed with collar, cuffs, and three buttons, all red, shoes and cap, diving through the air, peering forward under the cupped right hand while holding brown briefcase in the left hand; binoculars strung about the neck by black straps and flowing to rear.

Significance: The insignia typifies the function of the Squadron, speedy courier service, observation, reconnaissance, and liaison. The patch shown here is the original WWII version. The description, although not grammatically correct, is as it has come down in the archives.

 

The 19th TASS dates its lineage to the Second World War. It was first constituted the 19th Observation Squadron (Light) on 5 February 1942, and was activated on 2 March 1942 at Miami Municipal Airport, Florida. It was redesignated the 19th Observation Squadron on 4 July 1942, and the 19th Liaison Squadron on 2 April 1943. It was inactivated on 1 December 1945 at Fort Lewis, Washington.

This section only addresses the squadron history during the Vietnam War. The Squadron, redesignated the 19th Tactical Air Support Squadron (Light), was reactivated on 17 June 1963, and was organized on 8 July 1963 at Bien Hoa AB, RVN. Briefly inactive between August and October of 1964, the Squadron remained at Bien Hoa until 1 August 1971 when its resources were relocated to Phan Rang AB, RVN, and were incorporated into a unit located there. On 15 January 1972, the Squadron relocated to Suwon AB in the ROK. Ultimately, it relocated to Osan Air Base, ROK, where it was inactivated on 1 October 1993.

Editor's note: Clicking on Bien Hoa AB in the paragraph above will display a map which encompasses III Corps and a small part of adjacent territories.  Of the 17 TACP locations mentioned below, 13 are locatable on this map.  The four that are not can be located as follows: Lai Khe was about five miles northeast of Ben Cat, or about one-third the distance from Ben Cat to Phuoc Vinh.  Di An was about six miles southwest of Bien Hoa or about at Thu Duc.  Phu Loi was west of Bien Hoa and about four miles east of Phu Cuong.  Long Binh was a large complex south of Bien Hoa running toward Long Thanh.

In Vietnam, the Squadron primarily provided visual and photographic reconnaissance and airborne forward air control of fighter aircraft. Operations included combat support liaison, artillery and naval gunfire adjustment, forward air control of helicopters, and escort for convoys and trains. Psychological warfare missions, radio relay, and resupply missions were flown as well. Finally, the Squadron trained USAF and VNAF Pilots in the O-1, O-2, and OV-10 aircraft. The O-1 was operated from 1963 to 1970. The O-2 and the OV-10 came into service in 1968, and were operated until departure to Suwon AB in 1972.

A search of official unit records has produced only a few documents. Those documents provide only the most basic summary information and address only issues current at the time. As a result, information regarding changes in mission, disposition of forces, and numbers of personnel and skills assigned are almost nonexistent. There is one document, which provides a snapshot view of the disposition of FACs in the 19th TASS as of July 1966. It is summarized as follows:

In the 5th ARVN Division AO, there were three locations. At Phu Loi there were three Division ALOs, a Binh Duong Sector ALO, and a Binh Long Sector FAC. Their callsigns were Viper 1, 2A, 2, 3, and 10. At Hon Quan there was a Binh Long Sector ALO and FAC. Their callsigns were Viper 5 and 8. At Song Be there was a Phuoc Long Sector ALO and FAC. Their callsigns were Viper 7 and 9.

In the 10th ARVN Division AO, there were four locations. At Xuan Loc, there were three Division ALOs, a Long Khanh Sector ALO, and a Long Khanh Sector FAC. Their callsigns were Copperhead 1, 2, 9, 11, and 5. At Bien Hoa there was a Bien Hoa Sector ALO and a Bien Hoa Sector FAC. Their callsigns were Copperhead 3 and 12. At Baria there was a Phuoc Tuy Sector ALO and a Phuoc Tuy Sector FAC. Their callsigns were Copperhead 6 and 8. At Ham Tan there was a Binh Tuy Sector ALO and a Binh Tuy Sector FAC. Their callsigns were Copperhead 7 and 14.

In the 25th ARVN Division AO there were three locations. At Duc Hoa there were two Division ALOs and a Hau Nghia Sector ALO. Their callsigns were Cobra 1, 2, and 4. At Tan An, there was a Long An Sector ALO and two Long An Sector FACs. Their callsigns were Cobra 11, 10, and 12. At Tay Ninh there was a Tay Ninh Sector ALO and a Tay Ninh Sector FAC. Their callsigns were Cobra 6 and 7.

With the 1st Australian Task force at Vung Tau there was an ALO and four FACs. Their callsigns were Habu 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.

In the Capital Special Zone at Tan Son Nhut there was an ALO and two FACs. Their callsigns were Easy 3, 4, and 5.

With Field Force Vietnam II at Long Binh there were two ALOs. Their callsigns were Kingsnake 1 and 2.

With the173rd Airborne Brigade at Bien Hoa there were two ALOs and four FACs. Their callsigns were Python 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7.

With the ARVN Airborne Brigade at Tan Son Nhut there were two ALOs and three FACs. Their callsigns were Red Marker 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.

With the 1st US Infantry Division and attached units there were FACs assigned at five locations. At Di An, there were an ALO, an airlift operations officer, a reconnaissance operations officer, and a fighter operations officer. Their callsigns were Sidewinder 1, 2, 4, and 3 respectively. With the 1/4 Cavalry at Phu Loi there was an ALO/ FAC with the callsign Sidewinder 10. With the 1st Brigade at Phuoc Vinh there were two ALOs with the callsigns Sidewinder 11 and 12. With the 1/28th Battalion, 1/26th Battalion, and 1/2nd Battalion at Phuoc Vinh there was one FAC each with the callsigns Sidewinder 13, 14, and 15 respectively. With the 2nd Brigade at Bien Hoa there were two ALOs with the callsigns Sidewinder 21 and 22. With the 2/18th Battalion, the 2/16th Battalion, and the 1/18th Battalion at Bien Hoa there was one FAC each with the callsigns Sidewinder 23, 24, and 25 respectively. With the 3rd Brigade at Lai Khe there were two ALOs with the callsigns Sidewinder 31 and 32. With the 2/28 Battalion, the 1/16th Battalion, and the 2/2nd Battalion at Bien Hoa there was one FAC each with the callsigns Sidewinder 33, 34, and 35 respectively.

With the 25th US Infantry Division and attached units there were FACs assigned at Cu Chi in the following order. At Division Level, an ALO and three OPSOS, one for reconnaissance, one for fighter operations, and one for airlift. Their callsigns were Cottonmouth 1, 2, 3, and 4 respectively. With the 3/4 Cavalry, there was one FAC with the callsign Cottonmouth 10. With the 1st Brigade, there were two ALOs and three FACs with the callsigns Cottonmouth 11, 12, 13, 14, and 15. With the 2nd Brigade there were two ALOs with the callsigns Cottonmouth 21 and 22. With the 1/5th Mechanized Battalion there was one FAC with the callsign Cottonmouth 25. With the 1/27th Battalion there was one FAC with the callsign Cottonmouth 23. With the 1/69th Armored Battalion there was one FAC with the callsign Cottonmouth 61.

At III DASC at Bien Hoa there were several staff officers and FACs with the call signs Tangerine 01 through Tangerine 10 and Copperhead 13.

Editor's Note: This document records 95 officers. It fails to record the numbers and disposition of support staff, and of radio operators and aircraft mechanics, all of whom were integral parts of the 19th TASS operation at Bien Hoa, or of deployed TACPs. The 19th TASS History for 1 October 1966 through 31 December 1966 indicates the following:

Personnel Strength:

Authorized

Assigned

Attached

Officers

241

56

98

Airmen

439

286

109

Total

680

342

207

The report also indicates a net gain of 37 officers over the 30 September 1966 figure. Considering that there were some non-rated officers in the TASS, and that there was a considerable buildup of forces in progress, these figures roughly validate the detailed information above, i.e. 154 officers assigned six months after the above data were compiled.

Presidential Unit Citations: 1 August 1968-31 August 1969; 1 January 1970-1 December 1970; 30 January 1971-30 September 1971.

Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards with Combat "V" Device: 1 May 1963-31 July 1964; 1 July 1965-15 May 1966; 1 July 1966-31 May 1967; 1 May 1969-30 April 1970.

Foreign Awards: Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm: 1 April 1966-30 September 1971.

Campaign Honors: Vietnam Advisory; Vietnam Defense; Vietnam Air; Vietnam Air Offensive; Vietnam Air Offensive Phase II; Vietnam Air Offensive Phase III; Vietnam Air Ground; Vietnam Air Offensive Phase IV; Tet 1969/Counteroffensive; Vietnam Summer/Fall 1969; Vietnam Winter/Spring 1970; Sanctuary Counteroffensive; Southwest Monsoon; Commando Hunt V; and Commando Hunt VI.

Commanders: Unknown, 8 July1963; Maj. David W. Shoup, 10 July 1963; Lt. Col. John J. Wilfong, 19 July 1963; Lt. Col. Frederick J. McAnally, 9 March 1964; Lt. Col. Andrew J. Chapman, 14 July 1964; Maj. Vincent J. Mankowski, 21 October 1964; Lt. Col. Daniel J. Miller, 1 May 1965; Lt. Col. Alfred N. King, by June 1966; Lt. Col. John J. Jones Jr., 10 February 1967; Lt. Col. Paul D. Jones, 2 September 1967; Lt. Col. James T. Patrick, 13 March 1968; Lt. Col. John D. Ward, 4 December 1968; Lt. Col. William G. Reitz, 3 June 1969; Maj. Thomas A. Shircliff, 16 September 1969 (acting); Lt. Col. William G. Reitz, 13 October 1969; Lt. Col. William G. Morton, 6 April 1970; Lt. Col. Andrew G. Martin Jr. 19 January 1971; Lt. Col. Irl R. Hollingsworth, 15 July 1971.

Editor's Note: Awards and commanders are listed only for the Vietnam War Period.

           The 19th TASS Headquarters at Bien Hoa.

      The date is unknown. Courtesy of William Fargo

 

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