Active Airborne status

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Active Airborne status

Postby VAslayer2002 » Mon Mar 02, 2015 2:29 pm

I'm trying to find out if the 1/50th had any active airborne units when they were attached to the 173rd Airborne Brigade, in VN, 1968 - 1970ish?

Thanks!
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Re: Active Airborne status

Postby Jim Sheppard » Mon Mar 02, 2015 11:16 pm

The 1st Battalion (Mechanized), 50th Infantry, was attached to the 173rd Airborne Brigade from April 2, 1968 to August 31, 1969. The 50th Infantry may have had various 173rd Airborne elements temporarily under the operational control of it's battalion elements from time to time.

Although it may ruffle some airborne feathers...it is important, from a historical point of view, to realize that the 173rd Airborne Brigade was NOT limited to airborne qualified personnel during it's tour in Vietnam. There were simply not enough airborne qualified replacements to maintain completely airborne rosters in the 173rd...nor any other major Airborne Command fighting in Vietnam. These units were eventually returned to Airborne rosters after the war.

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Re: Active Airborne status

Postby VAslayer2002 » Tue Mar 03, 2015 8:47 am

Jim - thank you, very much, for your response! It clarified what I thought. It's just something that's irritated me for a number of yrs. We had a vet, in my PTSD group, that "claimed airborne status" while "assigned" to the 1/50th, and even went so far as to have the 173rd Airborne patch tattooed, on his arm, in the '90's. To my knowledge, because the 1/50th were "attached," to the 173rd, they could wear the 173rd patch, while attached to the 173rd, but their combat patch, on their right arm, would've have been 1/50th. Correct me if I'm wrong, please! I haven't seen this vet since the early 90's and probably won't ever see him again, but it is just something that's been stuck in the back of my mind. Thank you again for your response and Welcome Home!!

I even did some research, for him, at the National Archives, in College Park, MD, back then. I was able to get the documents that show him being wounded at one of the bridges, on Highway 19, in 1968 or 1969(memory is slipping these days) during a night attack, when they were guarding the bridge.

Again, thanks!
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Re: Active Airborne status

Postby bongson » Tue Mar 03, 2015 12:46 pm

After the 101st. Abn. Div. was re-designated 101st. Airmobile Div. (I think in early '68) there became an eventual over-abundance of paratroopers arriving in RVN. We had at least four guys in 1st. Plt., A Co. who were "jumpers". None of them received "jump pay" while they were there. They all had the option to put in for transfer to the 1-4 503rd., and they all elected to stay with the 1/50th
There was also a "glut" of Special Forces people at An Khe in late '68, early '69. They were wandering around looking for something to do. They had SF people riding shotgun on convoys and pulling perimeter guard.

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Re: Active Airborne status

Postby Jim Sheppard » Tue Mar 03, 2015 2:07 pm

Your man was correct. We are authorized to wear the patch of the units to which we were attached...even after we left the unit. We had this "go-round" with a 1st Cav guy years ago who was trying to say we couldn't wear the Cav. Patch. He was wrong as well. We (1/50) were, at different times, attached to the 1st Cavalry Division, the 4th Infantry Division, the 173rd Airborne Brigade and 1st Field Force, Vietnam.

You also seem to be under the incorrect assumption that one could wear a Battalion level "patch" as his sleeve combat patch. Battalion (Or regimental) designation is indicated in other areas of the uniform...Usually by a "DUI",,,,Distinctive Unit Insignia...commonly called a unit Crest (sic) and THESE designations are only worn while assigned to a unit (Battalion/Regimental level).

Of course, being in the 1/50th while attached to the 173rd did not "make" one "airborne"! There is often confusion since the 173rd patch has the Airborne tab incorporated within it's design. One must remember my original "point"...that the airborne units in Vietnam were NOT entirely composed of airborne qualified personnel. As for "Jump Pay", it is my understanding that there are separate "qualifiers" for maintaining jump status, and I do NOT believe any of those involve unit of assignment. I could be wrong on this point, but don't really care much for all of this.

I never cared for the pissing matches between Airborne and Leg units. In a combat situation, having anything of a divisive nature such as this could be deadly. It is also one "Guaranteed" method to kick in lots of combat veteran PTSD symptoms!

Bottom line, the man was permanently qualified to wear the 173rd patch as his elected combat unit patch, but could not consider himself at any time as "airborne qualified" as a result of his attachment.
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