6th Battalion, 56th Artillery (HAWK)

97th Arty Gp (AD)

97th Artillery Group (AD) Vietnam

Motto: "HOOMAU I LUNA" (Always On Top)
The partition of the shield "gyronny" symbolizes the place of activation and the home station, Hawaii, known as the crossroads of the pacific.
The martlet is an honorable charge commemoration the central Pacific battle honor.
(Design approved July 28, 1952)

Colonel Edward J. Daley, Commander 97th Artillery Group Air Defense Vietnam

The 97th Artillery Group (Air Defense Artillery) arrived in Vietnam 30 September 1965 and was assigned to US Army Vietnam under operational control of the 7th US Air Force. The Group headquarters located at Tan Son Nhut Air Base exercise command and administration of the:

a.                   6th Battalion, 56th Artillery (HAWK) provided air defense of the Tan Son Nhut and Bien Hoa areas

b.                  6th Battalion, 71st Artillery (HAWK) provided air defense of the Cam Ranh Bay and Nha Trang areas.

And the support detachments of the:

a.     79th Ordnance Detachment (GMGS) (HAWK) locatedTan Son Nhut Air Base.

b.    459th Signal Detachment (AD Sys Comm) support detachments located at Tan Son Nhut Air Base.

In addition, the Group exercised command and administration, less operational control, of the assigned Field Artillery Detachments (RADAR-COUNTER MORTAR) and Infantry Detachment (GROUND SURVEILLANCE) during certain periods:

a.     6th Field Artillery Radar Detachment

b.    79th Field Artillery Radar Detachment

c.     231st Field Artillery Radar Detachment

d.    247th Field Artillery Radar Detachment

e.     249th Field Artillery Radar Detachment

The 97th Artillery Group (Air Defense Artillery) departed Vietnam on 25 October 1968.

97th Artillery Group (AD) Vietnam Campaign Participation Credits:

(1) Vietnam Defense Campaign, 8 March 1965 -24 December 1965.

(2) Vietnam Counteroffensive, 25 December 1965 - 3 0 June 1966.

(3) Vietnam Counteroffensive, Phase II, 1 July 1966 - 31 May 1967

(4) Vietnam Counteroffensive, Phase III, 1 June 1967—29 January 1968.

(5) TET Counteroffensive, 30 January 1968—1 April 1968.

(6) Vietnam Counteroffensive, Phase IV, 2 April 1968—30 June 1968.

(7) Vietnam Counteroffensive, Phase V, 1 July 1968—1 November 1968.

97th Artillery Group (AD)
Unit Commendation Award General Order No. 5681

Letter of Appreciation from Headquarters, II Field Forces Vietnam Artillery, 15 June 1968 to the 97th Artillery Group

Air Defense of South Vietnam

Air defense of the Republic of Vietnam against a hostile air attack was the responsibility of the Commander, 7th Air Force, who was designated the Commander of the Mainland Southeast Asia Air Defense Region. The Commander was directly responsible to Commander in Chief, Pacific Air Forces (CINCPACAF).

To accomplish the air defense mission, he was given operational control over a multi-service force of fighter interceptors and surface-to-air missiles, which were control through the radar agencies of the Tactical Air Control System (TACS). The fighter force consisted of F-102s deployed from Clark Air Base, Philippines, and a member of 1st Marine Air Wing (MAW) F-4Bs, augmented with forces drawn from tactical fighter units. The U.S. Army’s 97th Artillery Group (Air Defense), 6th Battalion, 56th Artillery, 6th Battalion, 71st Artillery and the Marines 1st LAAM Battalion and 2nd LAAM Battalion constituted the ground complement of this air defense system

97th Artillery Group (AD) collocate with PARIS Control (Control and Reporting Center) (CRC), Tan Son Nhut Air Base, Saigon, South Vietnam

On 28 May 1966 the 7th Air Force established a new Control and Reporting (CRC) facility at Tan Son Nhut Air Base, South Vietnam. This greatly enlarged and improved facility provided space to be utilized by the 97th Artillery Group (AD). Since the 97th Artillery Group (AD) did not have sufficient personnel to man both an Army Air Defense Command Post (AADCP) and a CRC section, and considering the fact that the 97th Artillery Group (AD) was not equipped with the materiel necessary to control the firing sections electronically, the decision was made to collocate the 97th Artillery Group manual AADCP with the 7th Air Force CRC. The old AADCP building was, therefore, abandoned on 28 May 1966, the day on which the section became operational in the new building. 

This change in operation proved advantageous in every respect, but of particular importance was the facility and speed with which targets could be plotted and identified. The coordination effected within the CRC between Air Force and Army Air defense controllers proved of material benefit to both, as 97th Artillery Group’s battalion’s radar were frequently used to provide aircraft identification to the Air Force. Frequently the Air Force called upon the HAWK units to aid in surveillance and interrogation of unidentified aircraft. In a majority of the cases, the response from the HAWK units allowed accurate and timely identification, thereby precluding the necessary for scrambling of interceptors to make visual identification. This situation proved dollar savings in the case of the Air Force, and added to the prestige of the HAWK system.
Manual Army Air Defense Command Post (AADCP) Tan Son Nhut Air Base South Vietnam

The manual AADCP served as a Tactical Operations Center (TOC) for the 97th Artillery Group (AD). Equipment included a status of equipment boards, status of alert boards, tactical action boards, air and ground defense condition informantion boards with appropriate detailed situation maps and necessary telephone and radios of communications.

Air Threat from North Vietnamese Air Force (NVAF) to South Vietnam

During the quarterly period ending 31 January 1967, MIG type aircraft available to the North Vietnamese (NVA) increased from approximately 100 on 31 October 1966 to 129 on 31 January 1967. In addition, the number of air bases capable of handling jet aircraft was increased. These bases could accommodate approximately 230 aircraft. The 7th Air Force estimated that the enemy capability remained approximately the same. However the continuing increase in Free World Forces deployed in South Vietnam and the increasing logistic complexes presented a more vulnerable targets should a North Vietnamese Air Force air attack be attempted.
In Defense of Tan Son Nhut Air Base

During the period from 040125 December 1966 to 060700 December 1966, three units of the 97th Artillery Group (AD), the 79th Ordnance Detachment, 459th Signal Detachment and C Battery, 6th Battalion, 56th Artillery (HAWK) participated in the defense of Tan Son Nhut Air Base against determined Viet Cong attacks. They assisted in the successful allied defense by manning an exposed sector of the Tan Son Nhut defense and by constant surveillance and intelligence reporting.


A new training evaluation technique termed “HAWK RUN” was initiated on 30 October 1967. These exercises were conducted to improve the command and control procedures of the 97th Artillery Group (AD)’s Army Air Defense Command Post (AADCP)’s and provide a quick reaction drill. The exercise was designed to test the HAWK defense and protection of assigned areas and installations. The first HAWK RUN involved 96 aircraft of the 7th Air Force. The 7th Air Force control requirements limited these exercises to the Tan Son Nhut – Bien Hoa Defense of the 6th Battalion, 56th Artillery (HAWK).

North Vietnamese Air Force (NVAF) Attack Still a Real Consideration

The period ending 31 January 1968 the enemy air threat remained marginal. However, the capability to mount harassing attacks was still a real consideration. During the period 6 December 1967 through 14 December 1967 several penetrations of the South Vietnamese border, from Cambodia, were made by unknown aircraft. These penetrations may have been attempts to evaluate U.S. detection and reaction capabilities against high performance aircraft.
During this period the Commander, 7th Air Force place Army HAWK missile units in a high state of readiness. Eight of sixteen fire units were required to be at battle stations. Therefore, 50% of each battery was at maximum readiness.

Artillery Plotting

97th Artillery Group (AD) Artillery Plotting Vietnam

Headquarters, 97th Artillery Group (AD) located at the 7th U.S. Air Force Control and Reporting Center (CRC) on Hon Tre Island, and 7th USAF Control and Reporting Center (CRC) at Tan Son Nhut Air Base performed another duty at the CRCs that was just as critical as there air defense mission. They kept track of the artillery and posted the artillery board. Artillery plotting for the safe passage and protection of friendly aircraft is accomplished by posting hot areas between tactical air navigation system (TACAN) radials and two ranges. They would draw this on your scope with grease pencil and then put the maximum height inside. Many people thought you could ignore the artillery and we even had pilots say that they would just fly underneath it.

97th Artillery Group (AD) Artillery Plotting from December 1967 thru July 1968

Period ending 31 January 1968 a total of 7,503 friendly artillery plots were recorded: November – 2,115; December -2,834; and January – 2,554. No accidents or incidents occurred during this period.

Period ending 30 April 1968 a total of 13,486 friendly artillery plots were recorded: February – 4,567; March 5,037; and April – 3,882. This was an increase of about 6,000 plots over the previous reporting period.

Period ending 31 July 1968 a total of 18,999 friendly artillery plots were recorded this reporting period: May – 5,410; June – 6,259; July – 7,330.

Artillery plotting ensured that incidents like the one below would not happen.

HAWK RUN F102 Interceptors

During April 1968 the 97th Artillery Group (AD) instituted no-notice, scored, air defense exercises known as “HAWK RUN”. These exercises, conducted at CRC/CRP level by 97th Artillery Group (AD) operations personnel and 7th Air Force personnel evaluated the reaction time of the State I and II HAWK batteries against 7th Air Force F-102 interceptors and targets of opportunity. Selected courses were flown against HAWK missile batteries to simulate actual engagements. A total of 32 exercises were conducted and proven to be an ideal training aide for improving team work, reaction time, target correlation and reporting procedures.

97th Artillery Group (AD) Vietnamese Lunar New Year (Tet) 1968

Upon notification of Red Alert (Tet 1968) at 310400H January 1968, the 97th Artillery Group (AD) Tactical Operations Center (TOC) initiated 24 hour operation and fully manned on a continuous basis until 10 February 1968. The TOC maintained constant communications with the 6th Battalion, 56th Artillery (HAWK) battalion operations center at Bien Hoa and the 6th Battalion, 71st Artillery (HAWK) battalion operation center at Cam Ranh Bay, the Hon Tre Island Control and Reporting Post maintaining a high state of readiness against the enemy’s potential air threat. And constant communications with, U.S. Army Vietnam (USARV) Headquarters via land line and EAC circuits, the Tan Son Nhut Sensitive Area Joint Defense Operations Center (JDOC) via radio and land lines, the MACV Annex reaction force (SECTOR C) (TASK FORCE CHARLIE) and monitored the Military Police Net. The TOC maintained an up-to-date status on ground and air defense conditions, equipment readiness and situation maps of the Bien Hoa/Saigon/Tan Son Nhut/Cam Ranh Bay/Nha Trang area as inputs were received from local and outlying units and agencies.
Possibility of Enemy Air Attack During Tet 1968

The possibility of an enemy air attack existed during Tet, as six IL-28 (BEAGLE) light bombers were reported in the southern area of North Vietnam--well within striking range of Tan Son Nhut. At that time, there was concern in the intelligence community that a successful air attack would be of sufficient advantage to
Hanoi that an attempt would be made regardless of the high risk.
Air Response to the Tet Offensive 30 January - 29 February, 1968 HQPACAF Directorate, Tactical Evaluation CHECO Division

Superb Support 97th Artillery Group (AD) Tet 1968

The 97th Artillery Group (AD) superb performance during the Tet Offensive and the months thereafter in support of the Tan Son Nhut Sensitive Area Joint Defense Operation Center (JDOC), the 1st Logistical Command, the 1st Infantry Division, the 25th Infantry Division, the 10st Airborne Division, the 34 General Support Group and the MACV Annex Sub Area Post Command. During this critical period 97th Artillery Group (AD) provided both manpower and logistical support to these organizations to forestall any Viet Cong breakthrough.

Task Force Charlie

A detail of four officers was furnished to the Tan Son Nhut TSN) Sensitive Area Joint Defense Operations Center (TNS-JDOC) from 31 January 1968 to 14 February 1968, to enable that facility to maintain a round-the-clock operation throughout this period. These officers of the 97th Artillery Group (AD) aggressively pursued their assigned duties and through the correlation and dissemination of intelligence information to counterpart personnel of the RVN Air Force, significantly assisted in the identification, selection, and subsequent destruction of enemy targets.

Task Force Peter

One month thereafter, the 97th Artillery Group (AD) assumed command of Task Force Peter (renamed from Task Force Charlie), now a 120 man quick reaction force assigned the mission of defending Sector C, Tan Son Nhut (TSN) Sensitive Area.

On 31 January 1968, one officer and 24 enlisted men, serving in the capacity of a security platoon, were attached to the 2d Service Battalion, Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) assigned the mission of defending gate 058 Tan Son Nhut Sensitive Area. This security platoon served as a quick reaction force during hours of daylight and actively patrolled the perimeter during darkness.

General Giap's Suicide Mission

During the battle of Khe Sanh, 1968 General Vo Nguten Giap was pondering and perhaps plotting new surprises. To preclude one such possibility, intelligence officers spread the warning among U.S. bases that North Vietnamese MIG-21s may strike Khe Sanh or other places in I Corps and that Hanoi might even try to send its handful of Russian IL-28 jet bombers as far south as Saigon. For several months, General Vo Nguten Giap is known to have been considering the use of warplanes in the south. Despite the huge array of U.S. radar, HAWK missiles and interceptors stationed to defeat any such attempt, the experts feel that suicide missions or low-flying intruders might just succeed in dropping their bombs.
Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964–1968, Volume II, Vietnam, January-June 1965, Document 342

Assignment of Field Artillery Detachments to the 97th Artillery Group (AD)

The support role of the 97th Artillery Group (AD) was further expended with the assignment of the 6th Field Artillery Detachment (Radar), the 9th Field Artillery Detachment (Radar), the 76th Field Artillery Detachment (Radar, the 79th Field Artillery detachment (Radar), the 231st field Artillery Detachment (Radar), the 246th Field Artillery Detachment (Radar), the 247th Field Artillery Detachment (Radar), the 248th Field Artillery Detachment (Radar), and the 249th Field Artillery Detachment (Radar).

Live Missile Firing

The first U.S. Army HAWK Annual Service Practice to involve live missile firing within a combat environment was conducted by the 97th Artillery Group (AD)’s 6th Battalion, 56th Artillery (HAWK) and the 6th Battalion, 71st Artillery (HAWK) from 26 May 1968 through 29 June 1968.

Field Artillery Detachments (Radar) Reassigned

During the reporting period ending 31 July 1968, the nine Field artillery Detachments (Radar) and one Infantry Detachment (Ground Surveillance) assigned to the 97th Artillery Group (AD) were reassigned to II Field Force, Vietnam. These detachments, although assigned to the 97th Artillery Group (AD), were under operational control of the Tan Son Nhut and Dong Nhai Sensitive Area Commanders. As a result, the 97th Artillery Group (AD) was primarily responsible for command and administration. The reassignment was effective on 6 May 1968 IAW USARV GO 2176, 10 May 1968.

97th Artillery Group (AD) Depart Vietnam

The 6th Battalion, 56th Artillery (HAWK) (- C Battery) redeployment north to Chu Lai to relieve the USMC 2nd Light Antiaircraft Missile Battalion and reassignment from the 97th Artillery Group (AD) to the 23d Infantry Division (Americal Division) IAW USARC GO 4664, 8 October 1968. This HAWK redeployment necessitated significant organizational changes:

In accordance with USARV 568, dtd 20 Sept 68, as amended, the following units were inactivated:

Unit                                                                             Effective Date
HHB, 97th Arty Gp (AD), UIC: WC6S                             25 Oct 68
79th Ord Det (HAWK) (GMGS), UIC: WB9Q                   25 Oct 68
459th Sig Det, UIC: WC5N                                              25 Sep 68

OPRD 60-69: 6th Bn, 71st Arty prepares for overseas shipment from RVN to CONUS NLT 31 Oct 68.
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