Original Extremely Rare Theater Hand Embroidered, US ARMY AVIATION (GLADIATORS) 57TH AHC Vietnam War Pocket Flight Patch. EXTREMELY RARE MAGNIFICENT PATCH The 57th Assault Helicopter Company (AHC) “Gladiators,” arrived in Viet Nam in early October 1967, in time to participate in the Battle of Dak To, and the bloody battle for the infamous Hill 875 of 173rd Airborne Brigade fame. Initially stationed in the Central Highlands city of Kontum, the 57th flew missions in support of Northern II Corps area. Flights in support of the 24th Special Tactical Zone (STZ), MACV, Special Forces Camps, ARVN II Corps, and the 4th Infantry Division in the Dak To area were the normal day’s assignments. In January 1968 the 57th began preparations for assuming the FOB II Special Forces mission from the 119th AHC, a normal rotation that occurred every 60 days within the units of the 52nd Combat Aviation Battalion. The FOBII mission, later called CCC for Command and Control Central, consisted of supporting Special Forces reconnaissance efforts monitoring the movement of North Vietnamese Army (NVA) troops and equipment infiltrating South Viet Nam along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. However, weather conditions and other factors caused the 57th to stay on the mission well beyond the normal rotation. Such became the experience level and reputation of the Gladiator slicks and Cougar guns of the 57th AHC that there was no longer a question of their assignment to the FOB mission; henceforth they were requested. “Prairie Fire,” the Special Forces equivalent of aviation’s “MAYDAY,” became a common term heard in Gladiator headsets. The 57th AHC served in Viet Nam from October 1967 through March 1973, and was the last United States Combat Helicopter unit to leave Viet Nam. It was also the largest with three slick platoons, each having eleven lightly armed UH-1 Hueys, and a full compliment of eight heavily armed AH1G Cobra gunships. The 57th AHC was just one unit of one of the largest aviation Battalions ever formed, the 52nd Combat Aviation Battalion (CAB) “Dragons,” which in turn was subordinate to the 17th Combat Aviation Group (CAG). The 17th CAG was in turn subordinate to the 1st Aviation Brigade, the largest Army Aviation organization formed since World War II. The 1st Aviation Brigade was comprised of several Groups, themselves having several Battalions. At the top of this page is one of the the patches we wore on our shirt pockets signifying assignment with one of the slick platoons. “Slick” means relatively unarmed troop lift ships, as opposed to the heavily armed gunships. The primary function of a “slick” platoon is troop lift, with the ever present priority on medical evacuation. The job of armed escort and suppressive rocket and machine gun fire fell to the gun platoon called the “Cougars.” Their job was to provide close air support for the “slicks” while we assaulted troops into often hot Landing Zones (LZ), or when withdrawing troops from “Hot” pickup zones (PZ); they got to do all the shooting, and they did their job well. Business was good! Now if your are thinking, “My but that Cougar patch looks familiar,” you are right. When the 57th was formed at Fort Bragg, N.C. in 1967 an enterprising member of the newly formed gun platoon, the “Cougars,” exercised a little initiative and made a request to the Ford Motor Company. As the story goes, Ford was thrilled that a military unit would carry their “colors” into combat, gave it their blessing along with a generous supply of “pocket patches,” and the rest is history. The “Gladiator” patch you see depicted here is of recent manufacture and for a very good reason; it is the only version to be massed produced my automated machines. When the 57th was originally formed they elected to call themselves “The Avengers.” In as much as all these “nick-names” are unofficial to begin with, there was, of course, no central agency that controlled what unit members decided to call themselves, and no one knew there already was a unit called the “Avengers” in country. The original pocket patches, of course, said Avengers instead of Gladiators. Once on the ground in Viet Nam and the faux pax was discovered the name Gladiators was selected. New “pocket patches” were obtained locally and hand sewn. As a footnote here, some of those original “Avenger” patches should be quite valuable to serious collectors. GUARANTEED 100% ORIGINAL VIETNAM WAR FLIGHT PATCH Military Special Forces Patches HistorySpecial forces personnel began serving in the Republic of Vietnam in 1957. During the early days of the Vietnam military build up, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy sent Special Forces Units to South Vietnam in a special advisory capacity. In September 1962, United States Special Forces, Vietnam (Provisional) was formed from members of the First Group, stationed on Okinawa, and the Fifth and Seventh Groups from Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The soldiers, operating in small units, created many patch designs, which were locally manufactured and, in many cases, handmade. The first insignia, of course, was the beret flash, which combined the yellow from the first group, black from the Fifth, and red from the Seventh and incorporated them with a bend with bendlets that represented the flag of the Republic of Vietnam. This flash, designed by Colonel George Morton, eventually became the insignia of the Fifth Special Forces Group. Popular among the recon teams known as “Mike Force,” which is the universal corruption of “Mobile Strike Force,” was the use of state names, some of which appear here. As state names were used up, names of snakes (for example, the Adder, Anaconda, and Cobra) became popular. The motto “We Kill For Peace” was almost universally used by these units. The collector will find that many of the MACV-SOG insignia were all originally hand-sewn and can be found later reproduced machine-sewn in copied versions and in many variants. This is due to the fact that many of the insignia were originally Hand-Made “in country” which were unauthorized wear and preferred by Special Forces Soldiers for there unique individuality and flare being all completely hand made, with no two exactly alike. Most Hand-Made patches were unauthorized wear which the Special Forces Soldiers again preferred, issued to Special Forces trained Indigenous Tribesman and new arrivals and/or new recon team members signifying their fighting skills and acceptance as being attached to the team. It is interesting to note that the Green Berets in many cases wore their patches inside the green beret. It was placed there in keeping with the covert nature of their missions. Besides recon teams, MACV-SOG also deployed exploitation teams or “hatchet teams” which were of platoon size and consisted of Americans and indigenous troops. The most famous, all highly classified areas of operations were along the Ho Chi Minh trail, into Cambodia and Laos.Information extracted from the book “US ARMY PATCHES” by Barry Jason SteinThe Cloth Insignia Of The Vietnam War – The patches of the Vietnam war present a very interesting study because this is the first time where a fairly large number of in-country made patches were developed. The government issued patches had some new designs and saw the introduction of the subdued styles. Several soldiers took it upon themselves to contract with local seamstresses to create patches. some of them were replicas of existing ones while others were brand new. The Vietnam war saw the birth of a wide flurry of homemade (in-country made), unauthorized cloth insignia. When the US Army started fighting the Vietcong with guerrilla tactics, several small and specialized groups were formed. Groups such as MACV SOG Special Forces Groups made their way into history. Often times the unauthorized insignia was worn in hidden places such as inside hats and berets. The insignia provided a sense of unity, achievement and belonging. The example displayed in this page shows the same type of construction as that employed with similar patches that were worn inside berets and hats.HIGHLY COLLECTIBLE PATCH Buyer to send payment within 3 days of listing end. Please reply to invoice, or contact seller within 2 days of listing end. I accept Pay Pal only. Please ask any questions before biding.Any concerns or questions please contact seller ( use “ask seller a question” link) before bidding, buying or making offers. * Every effort is made to list my items on eBay accurately, honestly & exactly as I view them when they are in my hands. Mistakes and misunderstanding do happen, people do have different interpretations of descriptions and sometimes perceive them to be what they want the item to be like & some don’t always look at the complete description. That is when a dispute will come up . In 99.9% of cases the matter can be amicably resolved by a simple exchange of e-mails. I am of the opinion that using eBay’s adverse feedback system without first using the e-mail route or calling me is unprofessional and indicates a lack of desire to resolve any differences we may have. Communication is always the key to a resolution . Lets be honest we all make mistakes and I will always go that little extra with eBay members who do communicate in an e-mail or telephone call , rather than using neutral or adverse feedback. If there is a problem, please send me a message with your concern I will do what I can in reason! Please look at my feedback & you will agree that I try very hard to do the right thing! I am selling a long time patch collection from the Vietnam War. Check all my up-coming listings this week and in up coming weeks for additional rare patches.

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