Operation "MEADE RIVER"
Statement by LtCol M. V. STATZER, 060909, USMC
On 20 November 1968 I was privileged to lead Charlie Flight during the assault phase of Operation Meade River which was conducted in the delta area southwest of Da Nang. Charlie Flight initially consisted of eight Ch-46D helicopters from HMM-364 and six CH-46A helicopters from HMM-265. In the initial assault, our assigned sector to insert troops of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines (3/5) extended from BT 014568 to AT 993577. This concept of operation should be noted, because it required each aircraft commander to be much more than just another member of a strike flight; in essence, each aircraft commander was flight leader unto himself. Each aircraft was assigned individual landing zones (LZs) 150 meters apart along Highway 4. The purpose of the operation was to seal off the area to prevent VC/NVA troop withdrawal.
Charlie Flight departed the orbit point in column when cleared by the Helicopter Commander (Airborne) and proceeded to the western edge of our insert sector. 4,000 meters out the flight encountered intense small arms and automatic weapons fire. Flight discipline was superb and all aircraft successfully completed the first wave in the face of determined enemy opposition. The gunners of all aircraft are to be commended for their actions in aiding the suppression of enemy fire. The second wave, consisted of the same aircraft, returned to their assigned LZs and in the face of even heavier enemy small arms, machine gun and mortar fire landed their troops in the specified landing points. During the insertion of the second wave six aircraft were damaged by enemy fire and one was destroyed in the LZ by enemy machine gun fire. At this point, four replacement aircraft from HMM-161 joined Charlie Flight to replace those aircraft which were forced out of action due to battle damage, and the assault continued. All aircraft of Charlie Flight made from two to as many as eight trips into LZs in the face of withering enemy fire.
From the second wave onward to completion the number of aircraft continuing with the lift decreased with each succeeding wave. At the conclusion of the lift of 3/5 into the zone a total of eighteen CH-46 aircraft had participated in the troop lift. One was destroyed and fifteen damaged by enemy action. Also to be commended were the actions of the search and rescue (SAR) aircraft of Echo Flight in their attempts to extract the casualties. Two of Echo Flight aircraft were shot out of the zone before the third attempt was successful.
The performance of each pilot, copilot, crew chief and gunner during this phase of Operation Meade River, in the face of determined enemy fire, was of the highest caliber, and I recommend each and every one for an award. Their courage and devotion to duty was exceedingly displayed to the highest degree under fire. Each man proved himself against determined enemy opposition to be fully competent, a credit to his organization, and to the Marine Corps.
In addition to this recommendation for awards I wish to express my appreciation for the loyalty, courage and the will to succeed displayed by each and every individual on the flight. This attitude, so spectacularly displayed, was the primary factor that lead to the successful accomplishment of our assigned mission.
/s/ M. V. Statzer
Col. USMC (Ret)
LtCol. M. V. "Bud" Statzser's History Index
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