With the increased buildup of US Forces in Vietnam, the Army needed a means to gather field intelligence as well as increase reconnaissance capabilities, which would be immediately available to the field commander. Due to this need, the 3rd Squadron, 17th Air Cavalry was activated 25 Nov 1966 at Fort Knox.
Those personnel assigned to the squadron at that time immediately started planning and making preparations for the training program. Training exercises were later conducted at Camp Atterbury Indiana, and the Mountain Ranger Camp, Dahlonega, Georgia, as well as the Fort Knox Reservation. These training exercises stressed air cavalry tactics as applied in various terrain situations. At Dahlonega, the squadron received five days of training and practical application of ranger techniques as taught by the ranger committee.
Advanced unit training commenced 5 July 1967 with the squadron making road and air movement to Camp Dawson, West Virginia. Through the cooperation of the West Virginia National Guard and the staff at Camp Dawson elements of the 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne) of the West Virginia National Guard and the Maryland National Guard were made available to act as aggressor forces during part of the training period. Troop ATT's and squadron level training were also conducted at Camp Dawson who provided the squadron with an excellent opportunity to prepare for the squadron ATT. On 25 July the Squadron returned to Fort Knox.
We arrived in Vietnam in the fall of 1967. The 3/17th Air Cavalry was an independent air cavalry squadron, so we trained in-country with several different armor and infantry units before we settled down to the pattern of warfare that would characterize Delta Troop's assignments for the next four years.
Delta Troop and the whole 3/17th Air Cavalry was in the business of reconnaissance. Because the squadron was independent, II Field Force, Vietnam combined the squadron with II FFV's own long-range reconnaissance company to provide air, ground, and long range reconnaissance and intelligence directly to the G3 operations staff at II FFV.
Shortly after we finished in-country training and began reconnaissance work for II Field Force, Vietnam, the Chinese New Year arrived with a bang. You may know it better as Tet. Tet 1968.
Delta Troop and the 3/17th Air Cavalry put aside its reconnaissance work to work on the defense of Saigon and Long Binh-Bien Hoa. The 3/17th won the Meritorious Unit Citation for its work in Tet 68.
Following Tet 68, Delta Troop went back to the business of reconnaissance for II Field Force, Vietnam, as part of its "field force recon regiment". This ad hoc regiment was composed of Company F, 51st Infantry (Long Range Patrol), D Troop and A Troop of the 3/17th Air Cavalry, the South Vietnamese 36th Ranger Battalion, the Special Forces 1/3rd Mobile Strike Force Command, and Company D (tank) and Troop E (mechanized) of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment.
Please take a look at the pages below to find more details about Delta Troop, both in training in the United States and during its first year in Vietnam. I encourage any former Delta Trooper to contact me to find old friends and share your memories of Vietnam.
John Dungan, Delta Troop Coordinator
for the 3/17th ACR Association