A Troop, 3/17th Air Cav
Troop History January 1970
Redhorse Review Excerpts
The Redhorse Review was a monthly 3/17th Squadron newsletter published in-country. The following excerpts from our squadron newsletter were saved all these years by Bob Bennett, Blue Tiger 20 -- 7/69-7/70.
Bill Nevius, Delta Troop 3/17th webmaster graciously provided us copies for transcription.
The Redhorse Inn
Courtesy of Spur Scout Tom White
From the January 1970 Edition:
the REDHORSE REVIEW
Volume 1 Number 4
Di An, Vietnam
12 January 1970
Commanding Officer......LTC Robert A. Arnet
Information Officer.........1LT Charles S. McCulloch
Editor.................................SP4 Frederick C. Hypes
The REDHORSE REVIEW is an authorized monthly publication of the US Army, published by the Information Office, 3d Squadron, 17th Air Cavalry, APO 96289 (telephone: Di An 2281), which is under the 12th Aviation Group (Combat), commanded by Colonel John C. Hughes.
Opinions expressed in the REDHORSE REVIEW are not necessarily those of the Department of the Army. The services of the Armed Forces Press Service are used, and others sources as noted. Circulation: 500 copies.
Contributions to the REDHORSE REVIEW should be sent to the Squadron Information Office NLT the 27th of each month.
Silver Spur News
On a more recent note, A Troop now finds itself working out of Soc Trang, at least temporarily. It shouldn't take Charlie too long to learn that when he hears the jangle of the "Silver Spurs" it's time for him to di di mau the area.
Promotions in Troop A and Attached Units for December: 
A RIDE ANYONE?
by WO1 David A Lindemann
by WO1 David A Lindemann
CPT John Earwood is the lift platoon leader for Troop A.
CPT Bill Reynolds is the scout platoon leader for Troop A.
Now, for some time CPT Earwood had been after CPT Reynolds to take him up in an OH-6A Light Observation Helicopter (LOH), and show him how the scouts operate. Well, after hearing this for a couple of months, CPT Reynolds finally decided to take the "slick" pilot for a ride.
Early one morning, the little "jet egg" took off from Di An's Sabre Heleport and hustled easterly towards the "Silver Spurs" stomping grounds.
It is said that politics makes "strange bedfellows," but a Huey pilot flying in a LOH isn't quite the perfect match either. Scouts work low and very slow -- just teasing 'ol Charlie to come out from hiding to take a shot. They fly so low and slow that they can see the actual footprint of Charlie just made. Well, a Huey is not known for having to do that. They prefer the touch-and-go method, into and out of a Landing Zone. So when you take a lift pilot and put him in a LOH 10 feet above the trees, he tends to get a bit nervous.
Upon reaching the area of operations, the LOH went to work over the trees, making his way in zig-zags over the terrain. CPT Reynolds began to point things out to CPT Earwood: brush that was matted down, branches that were broken, coal and ashes from camp fires, camouflaged bunkers....camouflaged bunkers?????
"Hey John," said CPT Reynolds. "Look at that!"
CPT Earwood began to feel a little ill at ease.
"Right there, John, at your 3...now 4 o'clock. Bunkers! See 'em?"
"Nope," returned CPT Earwood avoiding the obvious.
CPT Reynolds circled around the area a few times. Then out of nowhere a suspicious looking character appeared. Quickly, he fired a burst of A.K. at the LOH, which made him all the more suspicious looking. So the LOH popped smoke and moved out of the area.
A Cobra then rolled in and expended its firepower on the target. When the smoke cleared, the "Silver Spurs" had scored another 5 enemy killed by air and 7 bunker complexes destroyed.
At the end of the mission, CPT Reynolds went to the Red Horse Inn for lunch. CPT Earwood went to bed, and lately none has heard him asking for a LOH ride. [End]
A MUSICAL MAJOR
by WO1 David A. Lindeman
by WO1 David A. Lindeman
Major Arthur S. Dervaes III, Commanding Officer, A Troop, 3d Squadron, 17th Air Cavalry, has all the headaches and duties of a Troop Commander--- you might say, however that he "strums" his blues away.
One of Major Dervaes' unusual talents is that he is a very accomplished musician-- not with just one instrument but just about any one could name. He claims, however, that his favorite is the guitar. Practicing almost daily, he mainly plays the song of his personal friend--friends like Mason Williams, with whom he has worked on the different techniques of the guitar.
Hailing from Tampa, Fla., Major Dervaes began his musical training early in life beginning on the clarinet. Soon, his talent developed and he became head of his high school band.
Major Dervaes majored in music when he attended Texas Christian University. [End]
THE ONLY INNOCENTS
The question that matters about the massacre at Song My [aka My Lai] is whether this abominable act is to be laid at the door of war as such, or of this war in particular. About the event itself there is no longer much room for argument. Some facts still remain obscure: how many people were killed; who of the Americans present took part in the killing and who did not; whether it was done on orders, or subsequently condoned, and if so by whom. But that an atrocity was committed, of a sort that calls for exemplary punishment, most people have already made up their minds -- and that is what matters. An atrocity committed by Americans cannot be excused on the grounds that North Vietnamese and Vietcong have done much worse. So they have; but the Americans have tried to fight the war by different rules, and when some of their troops violate these rules the punishment they receive should be designed to deter other men under discipline from doing such things again.
The massacre itself is now a matter for the machinery of justice. But President Nixon knows that the execution of two or three guilty men will not be the end of it. The sense or outrage has been slower to show itself in America than in Britain. But it has come this week. Mr. Nixon is being told that the fact that such a thing could have happened at all invalidates the whole American position in Vietnam. Whether you believe that depends on whether you think that there is a special relationship between this atrocity and this particular war.
The answer will be clear enough if the investigation shows that what happened. Song My was not just an atrocity but part of a policy of atrocities; if there exists a general order which requires, or encourage, the killing of civilians who happen to support the other side. If that were so the Americans would have taken over their enemy's practice. The number of civilians killed by the communist forces in Hue in February last year has now risen to 2,737, by a body count at the mass graves, and to 2,900 by the communists' own estimate. The number of such deaths in the whole of South Vietnam, by assassination or random terrorism has been running at an average of several hundred a month. Let it be repeated that this does not excuse the Song My massacre, though it may help to explain the state of mind of those who took part in it the month after Hue. The Americans would deserve to be told that they had lost the war if they believed that they could not win it without the physical elimination of anyone who helps the enemy.
But the fact is that no such general order has bean uncovered by any of the newspaper and television journalists who swarm through Vietnam. It is clear that people do get killed in "free-fire zones," which are supposed to be empty of civilians but often are not. The regulations which govern what the soldiers are permitted to do in inhabited areas -- in what circumstances they can use artillery, or call in aircraft, and whom they have to get permission from -- are not always honored; there may yet be more horror stories to come. The programme called Operation Phoenix, for the detection and arrest of Vietcong officials, had undoubtedly involved some plain murder. Yet the most remarkable thing Operation Phoenix is not its occasional murderous short-cut but the fact that most of the arrested Vietcong officials serve less than a year in prison. The bloodiness of this war is undeniable; but it is hard to detect on the American side anything that could be called a policy of atrocity.
So the question remains, what happened at Song My? Atrocities take place -- when they are not a matter of policy -- for one or two different reasons, and sometimes from a combination of the two. There are men in whom the acquisition of a uniform and a gun awakens a pleasure in inflicting violence. There are others, and no one can be sure he is not in this category, who break under pressure of war: when they see their friends killed, when self-preservation seems to be the only thing that matters, when they are just too tired to think.
It is probably fair to say that the Americans, on whom military discipline has never sat easily, have a rather large number of people who fall into this second category than they would wish. It is also fair to add that the two categories together, the sadists and the men who break, are liable to commit a rather large than average number of atrocities when a war is being fought between people of two different races. The way the Japanese treated their American and British opponents in the second world war, and the way their opponents treated them when the tide turned, is the best recent example of that. There are plenty of others, But these are only minor variations on the general fallibility of men at war. There is something close to a mathematical certainty that any army at war will produce a number of atrocity-makers of one kind or the other; and that a long war will produce some major brutalities on the
scale of Song My. Of course, in most wars there are not many reporters around to tell about it; the censorship stops the handful who not only know but care; and the side that wins does not write up its own atrocities afterwards. But on this point, at any rate, Mr. George Brown is quite right. There are no armies without old soldiers who know about something beastly.
The second most tragic thing about the killing at Song My, next to its innocent victims, is the discovery by American liberals that their soldiers are no better in this respect than anybody else's, For the past quarter of a century, since the United States emerged from behind the protection of British seapower, a number of Americans have indulged in a curious idyll. They have believed that their country could be a great power and yet not suffer the usual casualty rate of errors and brutalities and atrocities among men who have to use the power. They really thought that Americans would be better at it. The realization that they were wrong has left them broken men, It would be understandable if they now choose to be pacifists: a man may react to the horrors of war by rejecting violence altogether. But this is not how most of these Americans have reacted to the shattering of their long idyll. Some of them have jumped from the discovery that Americans are no less bloody-minded then anybody else to the belief that they are worse than the rest of us, which on the statistics is plain nonsense; or that this particular war has brought out the brute in human nature more than other wars do, which is merely naive. Others have fallen back on asking -- and the self-regarding nature of the question is revealing -- what this war is doing to Americans who fight in it. The answer is that it is doing what most wars do to the more or less predictable percentage of fighting men who break under the strain. The difference is that this time there is television on the spot and a free press at home.
If the Vietnam war were a contest between the Americans and the North Vietnamese to see which of them were better people, the unsurprising conclusion would be that there is not much in it. It is therefore worth repeating that this war is not a competition in psychological excellence. It is a struggle to decide which of two radically different systems of government the South Vietnamese would prefer, that the communists have rejected the idea of competing in an election which they themselves would help to supervise. It is a negative piece of evidence, but it tells a story. The central fact about this war is that, if the Americans lose it, South Vietnam and Laos and maybe some other places as well will be run by a party and a system that differs in no important respect from Mr. Brezhnevís in Russia or Mr. Husakís in Czechoslovakia; and that there may be no appeal from this decision for many decades. It is against this fact.... (of communism).... that events like the abomination at Song My have to be measured. The suffering involved in continuing the war including the suffering inflicted by American soldiers gone berserk, has to be set against the consequence of giving up. The price of giving up would include the loss by two or three generations of South Vietnam of the chance of creating an independent system of democracy and an efficient basis for economic growth. It is the devilís own calculus; but the sum has to be done.
It would be a harder sum to work out if last yearís massacre at Hue, for example, was anxiously being discussed this week in Nhan Dan, or Pravda; if Hanoi radio was interviewing the men who did it; if Mr. Truong Chinh had said it was abhorrent to the conscience of North Vietnam.
What happened at Song My is a terrible commentary on the cruel, or weak, men who committed the act. The fact that it was belated but inevitably discovered, and the reactions now it has been discovered, are a better commentary on what the war is being fought for. They illustrate the mile-wide difference between a closed society and open one. No one would argue that President Thieuís government is a model of democratic practice. Wartime governments in hard-pressed countries seldom are. But South Vietnam does possess -- in its constitution, in its hesitant tolerance of the principle of opposition, and above all in the fact that it is a war of the United States -- the means of becoming a democracy. If the war is lost it will pass into the silence that covers the political and economic stagnation
of the communist world.
This is why the question with which this article began seems to us to be one that can be answered. The Vietnam war, like most great events, is a tragedy in the strict sense of that abused word. It imposes and inescapable choice between one terrible thing and another. Those who find this choice imposed upon them can only weight the alternatives and decide, as calmly as is possible, which is worse. It would be easy if it were a choice between bloody hands and clean ones; but it is not. Whenever one commits an army to war it is statistically almost inevitable that some of its men will do something atrocious. An unforgivable act was committed by certain American at Song My. Its authors must be punished. But it does not change the issues that lie behind the war.
(The above article was taken from the 29 November 1969 issue of ďThe EconomistĒ) [End]
THE MECHANIC'S CODE
As a maintenance technician I recognize my obligations:
To the aircrews and passengers, who trust their lives and safety to my mechanical skills.
To my organization, which expects me to be a professional mechanic as well as a good citizen.
To my fellow mechanics, who as team members must depend on me for a task completed.
To discharge these responsibilities:
I will always be sure of my work, or when in doubt consult my supervisor.
I will always strive to improve my professional skill by attention to duty and self education.
I will not allow my personal desire or consideration to affect performance of duty.
I will never attempt to perform duty when my mental or physical condition might lead to maintenance mistakes.
I will keep my tools and equipment in first class condition to insure a job worthy of the professional mechanic I am.
I pledge adherence to these principles to reflect credit to myself, my fellow workers, and my profession."
ARMY PINS NAVY--IN BROTHERLY FASHION
SP5 Steve Ribardiere, a crewchief in the lift section of A Troop, 3d Squadron, 17th Air Cavalry recently found a chance to go to Nha Be Naval Station to visit his brother-in-law, Lieutenant Commander James C. Buchans, of Macon, Ga.
SP5 Ribardiere thought he would make a surprise out of the affair. It ended up a surprise for both of them as Lieutenant Commander Buchans was being promoted to his present grade that day.
What better way could there be to celebrate a promotion than to have a relative pin on your new rank. So, SP5 Ribardiere pinned the new oak leaves on his brother-in-law and then had lunch with him in the officers club. [End]
To February 1970 Excerpts....
© 3/17th Air Cavalry Squadron