Captain Bevan Smith's inadvertent broadcast about being hit, alerted the troops on the ground that a Viet Cong ambush had been triggered. The knuckles had been shot out of his left hand. Somehow, he got the Sioux chopper and battalion commander Colonel Alex Preece down safely, but his war in Vietnam was over.
The story of Australian Army Aviation in South Vietnam begs to be told. The fledgling 161 Reece Flight deployed to Bien Hoa in 1965 and its Possum call sign was heard in the crowded skies until Australian operations ceased in 1972. The Flight's pilots flew more than 87,000 sorties to provide intelligence on enemy movements and locations, as well as direct operational and administrative support for all task force operations. Three pilots were killed in action. Others were decorated for acts of quiet courage. Support and maintenance staff worked day and night to sustain the massive flying effort required.
Author Peter Nolan has drawn on official histories and the Flight's records, supplemented by oral histories from its past members, to present a vivid account of the challenges faced and overcome by a small group of Australians at war. Written for all aviation enthusiasts, it is a timeless story of dedication, humour and courage under fire.
List of Maps
Part 1: Deployment to Bien Hoa 1965-66
- 161 Reece Flight: Formation and Deployment
- Bien Hoa: Fitting In
- Learning the Ropes: October 1965-May 1966
Part 2: Joining the Task Force
- The 1st Australian Task Force
- Vung Tau: May 1966-March 1967
- Relocation to Nui Dat
- Nui Dat: March-December 1967
Part 3: The Tet Offensive
- The Tet and Second General Offensives: January-July 1968
- The Aftermath: August 1968-February 1969
Part 4: Pacification: March 1969-September 1971
- Pacification: March-December 1969
- Maintaining the Effort: January-December 1970
- The Final Challenge: January-September 1971
- The End Phase: August 1971-March 1972
Appendix 1: 161 Reconnaissance Flight/161 (Independent) Reconnaissance Flight: Nominal Roll 1965-72
Appendix 2: Honours and Awards
Glossary of Terms and Acronyms