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War Stories

F Troop "Orphans"


When the 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment and the 25th Inf Division left Vietnam, D Troop Air stayed and became F Troop Air. They became a "Have Guns Will Travel" independent unit to be deployed at will. Who came up with the paperwork that created several F Troops out of all the Divisional Air Cavalry units? Didn't some of them retain their lineage and honors going from D to F? And if not, why not? Is that something that could or should be corrected? We solved the issue for now by mutually declaring that we are one band of Cav brothers, the "Centaurs".

see Don Borey's report, Jan 2021 Article, D-F Troop Commander comments and others. - updated 1 July 2022

History speaks: Each time we address the questions concerning F Troop 4th Cav, more questions come up. Detailed document research by the men below say F Troop was not part of the 3/4 Cav or the 25th Infantry Division. It is inferred that the newly established unit was thrown together with people and aircraft from several departing units. Final designation F Troop, 4th Cavalry Regiment (D & F were both 4th Cav Reg).

Men who were there speak: Whether these men are right or wrong, they were there. We currently list 114 Centaurs that were in D Troop when it became F Troop. How many men and other aircraft were added to make it F Troop? Who decided to keep the Centaur Call Sign? Did they stay in the same hootches, use the same hangar and revetments? Since our website perports to tell our story directly from the men who served, it is important that their memories and opinions be published along side, or even above that of the historians and authors.

Maybe the simplest and best resolution for us is stated by Frank Dillon:
The 3/4 Cav and the 25th ID have always “claimed” F Troop. The 1st Avn Bde does not, so there’s that.

Someone else said: We are forever bound by our Call Sign and our Regiment; Paper pushers be damned. 

Please read all that is below and send us your memories/comments, and they will be added.


Don Borey: What I have learned from everything I have read is that the years of late 1970 to 1973 were years of turmoil in the Army in Vietnam. What I mean is that President Nixon was determined to withdraw forces from Vietnam and turn everything over to the ARVN. He ran on this and got elected. The problem for the army was how to deal with the reduction schedule while maintaining force protection. As part of Increment V of the U.S. withdrawal, the 25th Inf Div (except for the 2d Bde) was withdrawn officially 8 December 1970. The 2d Bde, 25th Inf Div (Sep) was officially established 8 November 1970. Since the 2d Bde was not part of the withdrawal in December 1970 but continued combat operations, it needed certain elements normally provided by the division in order to continue operating. One of these needed elements was a reconnaissance capability as 3/4 Cav including D Troop was “withdrawn” in December.

We know that while the colors went to Hawaii many of the D Troopers did not leave but continued operations without stop after December 10, 1970. The army maintains that F Troop is not a lineal descendent of D Troop. Officially that is true, but in reality, the core (nucleus if you will) of F Troop was the personnel and equipment of D Troop. You might say that F Troop rose like the Phoenix from the remains old D Troop. I doubt that many of the unit members at the time believed that their unit was F Troop and not D Troop for quite a period of time. In fact, unit casualties in January 1971 are listed as casualties of D Troop on the 3/4 Cav organization website. The conduct of operations was fairly seamless as the Troop, whatever its designation continued to support the 2d Bde, 25th Inf Div. As Dr. Hamilton has written, his first actions as D Troop CO was to move from Chu Chi to Camp Frenzel Jones in Long Binh. Other information indicates that at least as of December 10, 1970, the unit, whatever its designation was operating out of Camp Frenzel Jones and still supporting the 2d Bde, 25th Inf Div. I wonder if Tom Hamilton remembers the date when he was told D Troop was now F Troop?

Although the Army was drawing down troop strength in Vietnam, the Pentagon planners had recognized that the ARVN would still need U. S. aviation units to support combat operations for some time to come until the war was completely turned over to ARVN. I believe this strategy, as well as the need of the remaining U.S. brigades for reconnaissance units, was behind the creation of the several F Troops that were established as separate Cavalry troops during this period of drawdowns. Besides F Troop 4th Cav, there was F Troop, 9th Cav [formed 30 Jun 1971 initially to provide recon to support the 3d Bde, 1st Cav Div (Sep) after the bulk of the division left Vietnam]. After the 3d Bde 1st Cav Div (Sep) was withdrawn in June 1972, F Troop, 9th Cav was transferred to 12th Group according to Shelby Stanton's Vietnam Order of Battle. However, F Troop, 9th Cav remained assigned to the 1st Cavalry Div until 26 February 1973, according to Lineage and Honors information on Similarly, F Troop, 8th Cav, raised as a separate troop to provide recon for the 196 Inf Bde which was left behind when the bulk of the 23d Inf Div was withdrawn.

As separate Cav Troops, these units could be fairly easily moved around as the combat situation required. For example, F Troop was alerted in the end of June to move to Da Nang, a move that never actually happened in 1971. F Troop, 8th Cav was attached to 11th Group in July 1072 when the 196th Inf Bde was withdrawn in May 1972. It should be noted that F Troop, 8th Cav was F Troop, 8th Cav in the 23d Inf Div before being raised as a separate cav troop in December 1971.

From everything, my conclusion is that F Troop, 4th Cav was raised as part of the 2d Bde, 25th Inf Div (Sep) and remained part of the 25th division at least until the 2d Bde left Vietnam 30 April 1971. Based on the History of the 4th Cavalry by John G. Keliher, who states that his history is based on historical records of the U.S. Army and the information about F Troop, 9th Cav, I believe that F Troop, 4th Cav remained part of the 25th Inf Div while attached to the 12th Group and later the 11th Group of the 1st Aviation Bde.

For anyone interested, the 25th Inf Div Association accepts F Troop, 4th Cav veterans as part of the association. Our designation of an "Orphans" page for F Troop is very apt as F Troop family history is akin to that of an infant whose parents either died or abandoned him resulting in his being fostered by another family. He will always be his parents' child no matter what his foster family happens to be called. No matter who raised us, we always want to know who our biological parents were and from where we came.


The reality is that the only connection between D Troop and F Troop is the latter was formed from the personnel and equipment of D Troop. The paperwork Army made F Troop out of D Troop, but F Troop is not considered a lineal descendant of D Troop. None of the awards and honors transferred from D Troop to F Troop. Since the troop never stopped operating during all this, I suppose that people probably felt pretty unaffected by the designation change, if even they were aware of it until much later. This probably accounts for them continuing to use Centaur as the call sign. No one thought they weren't still Centaurs. Why would they as combat never really ceased and operations still continued with the 2d Brigade at least until April. The 2d Bde, 25th ID (Sep) and F Troop were under control of II Field Forces Vietnam (FFV) from formation until II FFV became Third Regional Assistance Command (TRAC) on 2 May 1971. F Troop remained under TRAC until May 1972 when it moved from supporting 12th Group to 11th Group which was under Second Regional Assistance Command (SRAC). Both SRAC and TRAC departed Vietnam in March 1973.

On the matter of F Troop being assigned to the 25th Division even after the division and the 2d Brigade left Vietnam, I found that F Troop, 9th Cav was redesignated and activated on 30 June 1971, assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division and remained assigned until inactivated in Vietnam and relieved from assignment to the 1st Cav Division on 26 February 1973 according to Lineage and honors information on the U S Army Center of Military History. The last Brigade of the 1st Cavalry Division left Vietnam 26 June 1972. Thus, it seems possible for a unit to be assigned to a division that is no longer in Vietnam. I submitted an FOIA to the Center for documents on F Troop, but I got some useless reply that pointed me to a website where the documents supposedly were available but searching for them was impossible.

At this point, much I suppose to everyone's relief, I give up on trying to get any more information about the checkered history and origins of F Troop.

Michael Peake (17 Apr 2022): What I've been contending all along is what Lloyd GoldSmith verified in his question to the same source that I used and the same source the author Shelby L. Stanton utilized to compile his massive work The U. S. Army and Allied Ground Forces in Vietnam Order of Battle: The Organizational History Branch, U. S. Army Center of Military History. In short, F Troop, 4th U. S. (Air Cavalry) at no time was an element of the 25th Infantry Division.

They confirmed that there was no lineal connection between Troop D, 3d Squadron, 4th Cavalry, 25th Infantry Division and Troop F, 4th Cavalry. The unit does not appear in the order of battle for the 25th Infantry Division and when examining the records of the 25th Aviation Battalion it clearly shows that unit consisted of Company A (Airmobile), Company B (Airmobile) and D Troop, 3rd Squadron, 4th (Air) Cavalry with notation "Assets used to ASSIST formation 4th Cav raised 10 Feb. 71 (see 12th Avn Gp)." That unit shows Tp F 4th Cav (Air Cav) under 12th Aviation Group from Feb 71-May 72 when transferred to 11th Avn Gp.

Now, the confusion lies in the 2d Brigade, 25th Division (Separate) that departed April 1971 showing F Troop as brigade reconnaissance, but they were still under the command of the 12th Aviation Group until the month after the 2d Brigade departed and the unit moved north into a sector controlled by the 11th Aviation Brigade. At best, F Troop was sharing the same compound while organizing before the brigade departed. Even the brigade was a separate entity from the 25th Division. F Troop was not the only unit in the same status. Eight units each of the 11th Aviation Group and 12th Aviation Group shared the same status. Both of these aviation groups, with listing of 11 aviation elements each, appear only under the 1st Aviation Brigade.


Don Borey (15 Apr 2022): Excerpts from: WAR. HISTORY OF THE 4TH U.S. CAVALRY REGIMENT

Elements of the 4th Cavalry Regiment saw extensive combat during the Vietnam War. The 1st Squadron 4th Cavalry was assigned to the 1st Infantry Division as the division reconnaissance squadron based at Di An. The 1st Squadron participated in eleven campaigns of the Vietnam War from 20 October 1965 to 5 February 1970. The 1st Squadron was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for its heroism in Binh Long Province as well as a Valorous Unit Award for Binh Doung Province. Troop A, 1st Squadron received a Valorous Unit Award for its actions at the battle of Ap Bau Bang.

The 3rd Squadron 4th Cavalry served as the reconnaissance squadron for the 25th Infantry Division and was based at Cu Chi near Saigon. Troop C, was the first 3rd Squadron element to arrive in Vietnam in December 1965 with the 3rd Brigade, 25th Division. Initially operating in the Vietnamese Central Highlands against North Vietnamese forces, Troop C later saw action against Viet Cong main force units in Quang Tri Province receiving a Valorous Unit Award. On 1 August 1967 Troop C rejoined the 3rd Squadron in Cu Chi.

The 3rd Squadron participated in twelve campaigns from 24 March 1966 to 8 December 1970. The 3rd Squadron received the Presidential Unit Citation for its magnificent defense of Ton Son Nhut air base outside of Saigon during the 1968 Tet counteroffensive and two Valorous Unit Awards for battles along the Cambodian border and in Binh Doung Province. In addition, Troop D, 3rd Squadron received a Presidential Unit Citation for gallantry in Tay Ninh Province and Troop A, 3rd Squadron received a Valorous Unit Award for the Cu Chi District.

Troop F, 4th Cavalry was activated on 10 February 1971 in Vietnam and assigned to the 25th Division as a separate air cavalry troop. After the 25th Division left Vietnam, Troop F remained assigned to the 25th while serving with the 11th and 12 Aviation Groups. It was one of the last Army units to leave Vietnam on 26 February 1973.


Lloyd GoldSmith (Sep 2021): I received the below email from CMH in answer to our questions about F Troop (Click here to read). Note that they are unable to complete the research but did confirm that there was no "lineal connection" between D Troop, 3/4 Cav and F Troop, 4 Cav. Their letter doesn't answer all the questions but if clarifies that F Troop was not part of 25 Inf Div. Still waiting on an answer from 1st Aviation Bde. Lloyd

Ron Holmes (Apr 2022): I came home on February 8, 1973. At that point we had prepared the Cobras and OH-6s to be shipped to the United States. We left the Hueys for the Joint Task Force volunteers to fly. I don't know if the unit stood up with the 25th in Hawaii. On paper F/4 was still part of the 25th even while it was under 11th Aviation Group in Da Nang.

Carl Betsill: I remember asking Dale Dow our Historian about this. Specifically I asked him why I had never even heard of the 25th ID during my tour, was it just because, being an enlisted man, I just didn’t understand the chain of command? His response was no, even the officer Corp was not aware of the fact that F-troop remained a part of the 25th. I’m not sure, if the officers didn’t know, where Dale got his information. It would be an interesting fact to verify.

Tom Hamilton (D & F Troop Commander) As inaccurate as memory is, I will try to offer some clarification/insights to the mystery of Delta to Foxtrot. I have a similar problem as Lloyd. No available records.
The orders directing 25th ID to stand down and return to the states exempted the 2nd Brigade and certain other units. One was D-3/4 Cav.
That caused a lot of admin panic. Short DEROS troops in the stay behind/exempted units felt cheated as long DEROS troops in other units were going home early.
An effort was made by 25th ID personnel to reassign the shorts to departing units replaced by longs.
The 2nd Brigade was beefed up with support units from the Division and was either at Long Binh or moved there during the transition of 25th ID stand down.
I assumed command of D-3/4 in Cu Chi. That day I was ordered to vacate ASAP and turn over all D Trp buildings in full repair to the ARVN. At the same time to occupy and sign for existing buildings, two story barracks, in the Plantation compound. I don’t recall spending the night in D Trp area. I may have. I recall being in the Trp office as the report that one of “MY” LOH’s had flown under the Mekong River Bridge and that I should report disciplinary action to Division G-3. The guilty “pink team” members reported to me. We had a short very intense discussion with me ending in chastising the Cobra pilot for not keeping his LOH in sight and going under the bridge with him. Letters of reprimand to be added to file later if the clerk got around to it.
I directed a Captain who I had just met to take charge of clearing the Cu Chi compound; lead the unit’s ground convoy and report to me at the new area when he had finished. As I said before, I climbed into a slick stuffed with Troop and some troop’s personal gear. Sat in someone’s rocking chair and flew to Frensel Jones. Our maintenance platoon moved into open bay shelters. We stole at least one pallet of plywood “by slick” from a supply point nearby to create some privacy in the barracks. Did not help very much. We were assigned to. commanded by, and fed by the Brigade.
When the 2nd Brigade received orders to stand down and return to the states, D-3/4 was still assigned to 2nd Brigade. F Troop, 4th Cavalry was created as an independent Air Cavalry Troop. There was some but not much lead time. Personnel and equipment were transferred from D to F. Same DEROS problems were encountered. Exchanges were made with Brigade troops and soon to be F Trp. F Trp TOE called for 304 personnel. That number is from memory. F Trp was augmented with special sections not found in Squadron D Troops. I don’t know from where the augmentation personnel and equipment came. As the reorganization was taking place we continued to support the 2nd Brigade until they ceased operations. We were then ordered to move to Lai Khe.
There was a PSP strip, a Vietnamese village on one side adjacent to an ARVN Division and on the other side were some buildings of US construction. As there were hormonally charged young men in the unit and eager to please females across 75 yards of open space, I asked that a ten foot cyclone fence be constructed all around the assigned compound. That revetments for the 26 helicopters assigned be constructed or repaired. We had an extra two float helicopters. The engineers had it done as we moved in. The rifles were assigned internal security for the compound to supplement the ARVN ID.
Again, memory recall says that we were attached to the 3rd of the 17th Cav for administration support and operational control. We were not assigned as I recall. That is a small but significant difference. The Trp Daily Report went to 3rd of the 17th. OER’s, award recommendations, personnel actions, etc., went there also.
That’s about all I can contribute to the mystery solution.
Essentially, we were independent. That meant we could stand alone. Which is what orphans do.
Tom Hamilton


Jan 2021 Newsletter:

Were F Troop Centaurs wearing the wrong patch? Don Borey has been doing some research and found that according to the "History of the 4th Cavalry Regiment" by John C. Keliher, which is on the 25th Inf Div Association website, F Troop was activated on 10 Feb 1971 and assigned to the 2d Brigade of the 25th Inf Div. After the 25th moved back to Hawaii 30 Apr 1971, the Troop remained assigned to the 25th Inf Div while serving with the 11th and 12th Combat Aviation Groups until it left Vietnam on 26 Feb 1973. Note: 11th and 12th Combat Avn Groups (CAG) became Combat Avn Brigades (CAB) sometime after Nam.

Don Borey arrived incountry 15 Mar 71 and has hard copy orders assigning him to the 2d Bde, 25th Inf Div. The next day someone from F Troop picked him up at 90th replacement. That was a month after F Troop had been assigned/attached elements of the 1st Avn Brigade

Most everyone thought they were no longer in the 25th Inf Div after March. Everyone changed the shoulder patches to the 1st Avn Bde patch.

Army Regulation 670–1 Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia21–16. Shoulder sleeve insignia-current organization (1) ACOM, ASCC, and/or DRU commanders are authorized to permit, on a case-by-case basis, the wear of corps orseparate brigade SSI by members of units attached to specific corps or separate brigades on a permanent basis. Theterm “permanent” applies to those units that are, have been, or expect to be attached for an extended period of time.

The 1st Avn Brigade Commander may have used the Regulation above to authorize our F Troop guys to wear their patch as they did missions for subunits the 11th and 12th CAG. But that still doesn't answer the question of whether they were still technically members of the 25th Inf Div. We may never know.


Feb 2021 Don Borey: In my continuing effort to beat a dead horse no one likely cares about, take a look at AR 670-1 Chapter 21-18b(3)(b). Seems to me like it all turns on whether F Troop was opcon to 1st Avn Bde or permanently attached. If permanently attached, the CG could have authorized F Troop to wear Brigade Patch as its shoulder sleeve insignia. If only opcon or temporarily attached, the Troop should have continued to wear the 25th Div Patch both in theater and after as the Former Wartime Service Patch , now referred to as the military operations in hostile conditions shoulder sleeve patch. I agree we will never know.


U.S. Army Center of Military History CMH

From: USARMY Ft McNair CMH Mailbox Answers <>
Sent: Friday, September 24, 2021 4:03 PM
To: '' <>
Cc: USARMY Ft McNair CMH Mailbox Answers <>
Subject: Troop F, 4th Cavalry Regiment

Major Lloyd Goldsmith (U.S. Army Retired):

Reference your August 16, 2021 letter to CMH requesting information on Troop F, 4th Cavalry in Vietnam, and whether or not it was assigned to the 25th Infantry Division or 1st Aviation Brigade. Your letter also mentioned that our website indicated your unit as "F Troop F, 3/4 Cav," but could you be more specific about where that is cited?

In general, during this era organic divisional or separate infantry brigade elements were usually formally and officially "assigned" to that echelon, while non-divisional/combined arms brigade units were usually and more informally "attached" to other functional branch echelons. The vast major of units serving in Vietnam fell into the second group. At this time, due to current work from home restrictions, CMH cannot confirm the chain of command for Troop F, 4th Cavalry or whether it was assigned to the 25th Infantry Division. Currently available resources have some conflicting information and further research into our reference files is required. We will send a follow-up email providing an answer if we can resolve the issue. The best sources of information are the units own operational records and the records of various higher headquarters. CMH does not maintain unit operational records, but interested individuals may conduct their own research into unit attachments and obtain other historical information by examining unit records in the custody of the National Archives and Records Administration.

We are able to confirm, however, that there is no lineal connection between Troop D, 3d Squadron, 4th Cavalry, and Troop F, 4th Cavalry, although the personnel and equipment assets from the former were probably used to activate Troop F. The campaigns and decorations from D/3-4 CAV (which was officially assigned to the 25th Infantry Division) did not transfer to F-4 CAV. Most of the 25th Infantry Division departed Vietnam by December 1970, but its 2d Brigade remained in Vietnam until the end of April 1971. We can say that after its activation (10 February 2971), Troop F appears to have supported the 2d Brigade, 25th Infantry Division's various operations as its aerial reconnaissance asset, but can't confirm at this time if this was a formal assignment or attachment. Shelby Stanton's Vietnam Order of Battle indicates the unit served with both the 11th and 12th Aviation Groups. These groups in turn served under the 1st Aviation Brigade. Stanton indicates that Troop F was under the 12th Aviation Group from its activation in February 1971 to May 1972, when the troop was transferred to the 11th Aviation Group (which was assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division until its relief in May 1972). Troop F appears to have served under the 11th Aviation Group until the troop's inactivation in Vietnam on 26 February 1973. It was during this period under the 11th Aviation Group that the troop earned a Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm for service between 28 June and 31 August 1972. For its service in Vietnam, the troop also earned four campaign streamers - Counteroffensive, Phase VII; Consolidation I; Consolidation II; and Cease-Fire.

I'm not sure of the dates you served, but we have no available information indicating that Troop F, 4th Cavalry served under 3d Squadron, 17th Cavalry. If this was an informal arrangement, however, there may not be official documentation.


Danny Jamison: (6 Aug 2021): As I recall, the question on that website was – who was F Troop assigned to … 25th ID … 12th Aviation Group or who? Bottom line up front ---- both. Read on for the rest of the story.

Here is the F Troop info I found. But first … a little background on perhaps how F Troop came into existence. In the army force structure world, there is this thing call the rules of allocation which Jerry knows well. Those rules more or less tell the builders of army units how many of the “eaches” make up something. For instance, a standard light infantry battalion is allocated three rifle companies and an HHC. In our case, an standard infantry division is allocated three infantry brigades, a division artillery composed of three artillery battalions, etc., etc., and a cavalry reconnaissance squadron.

So now we have in Viet Nam 3-4 CAV assigned to the 25th ID. Assigned is an important term. The only “organic” unit to any type of division, corps, theater army is the HHC. All other force structure is assigned. It is plug in and play. Consider what happened to the 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry when it deployed to Viet Nam in 1965’ish. As you know, the 25th deployed from Schofield with most of the division employed vic Cu Chi. However, the 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry and other units in the 3d Brigade, 25th ID deploy up north vic Pleiku and worked with the 4th ID. Long story short, 1-14 Infantry and the other 3d Brigade units were reflagged as 3d Brigade, 4th ID. Plug in and play. In the meantime, 3d Brigade, 25th was built from a few units “traditionally assigned” to the 4th ID. Now the 25th had 2d Battalion, 14th Infantry, et al. Plug in and play.

Ok – now back to F Troop. I can only deduct that as the 25th redeployed to CONUS in December 8, 1970, F Troop was formed to support the last 25th ID brigade remaining in RVN as the division redeployed. That may have been the 2d Brigade, 25th ID. This is where is rules of allocation come in. One reconnaissance squadron per division. That “requirement” was likely scaled down to provide one troop per brigade. As you know, the entire squadron redeployed to Schofield and the army established a “provisional” unit to support the 2d Brigade – which was F Troop.

F Troop activated on February 10th 1971, as a separate air cavalry troop. Now with the 25th completely redeployed … it has no C&C and most importantly no maintenance, chow, and other support. After the 25th redeployed, F Troop … here is the weird thing … remained assigned to the 25th but served with the 11th and 12th Aviation Groups. That remained assigned part does not sound right but I do not have information saying otherwise. That info is out there but I do not have access to it.

The three attachments show part of the paperwork chain of the Vietnamese recommending F Troop for a Meritorious Citation for actions during Operation Lam Son 72. F Troop may have been under some sort of C&C from the 12th Aviation Group during Lam Son.

F Troop was one of the last US units to leave RVN in February 26th, 1973. Ironically, in later years I was the S-3 for the last US combat unit to leave RVN – 3d Battalion, 21st Infantry, Metrical Division which eventually … thru plug in and play became part of the 25th ID at Schofield.

Interesting footnote … F Troop as reactivated January 16th 1999, as a recon troop for 3d Brigade, 1st ID in Vilseck, Germany. Danny


25th Infantry Division website:(Needs correction?) F Troop remained assigned to the 25th Division until the Troop left Nam on 26 Feb 1973. How can that be? Anybody have documents? If true, does this mean that both D and F Troops technically remained as 25th Inf Div units for the entire war?

"Troop F, 4th Cavalry was activated on 10 February 1971 in Vietnam and assigned to the 25th Division as a separate air cavalry troop in support of the 25th Division's 2nd Brigade.

After the 2nd Brigade left Vietnam on 30 April 1971, Troop F remained assigned to the 25th while serving with the 11th and 12th Aviation Groups. It was one of the last Army units to leave Vietnam on 26 February 1973."