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War Stories

'Copters in Vietnam Dawn Patrol

Joe Owens - LOH Scout Platoon Leader 1968-69

Hometown newspaper of Richmond, MO prints Centaur Dawn Patrol story

JoeOwenCu Chi, Vietnam (25th Inf Div IO)-- "The Dawn Patrol" is one of the highest priority missions of the 25th Infantry Division. But what is the Dawn Patrol and why is it so important?

According to First Lieutenant Joe Owens of Richmond, MO, a pilot with D troop, 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry, the Dawn Patrol is an aerial reconnaissance of all main supply routes (MSR) in the 25th's area of operations. He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Owens of Richmond.

On these early morning missions, the patrol looks for any signs of enemy interdiction on the roads and radios information concerning roadblocks and possible mines back to engineer road-clearing teams.

An Army Engineer usually accompanies the pilot so that when a road block is sighted he can make an estimate of what equipment will be needed to clear the obstruction.

"The sweep teams could clear the roads by traveling them and removing the roadblocks as they come to them," said LT Owens, "but with five convoys a day traveling the supply routes it would take too long for the roads to be cleared and fewer convoys would be able to get to the more distant base camps. Thus the amount of supplies delivered would be greatly reduced."

According to Owens, interdiction along the MSR increases as enemy activity in an area increases, and currently there is very little. As a result, the Dawn Patrol pilots can train new observers in aerial map reading during the early morning run. In addition, they give new pilots an in-country orientation during the 2 1/2 hour flight.

"Since we cover nearly the entire area of operations that the new pilots and observers will be working over, these missions provide an excellent training opportunity." said Owens.

(see also "Discussion: Dawn Patrol")