K Troop 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment

The Blackhorse In Vietnam 1966 - 1972

hosted by Bob Hersey

Cavalryman - Blackhorse - 11th Cavalry

Regimental History
11th US Cavalry
th Armored Cavalry   Regiment

Cavalryman - Blackhorse - 11th Cavalry

The 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment traces its roots back to Fort Myer, Virginia.   The 11th US Cavalry was born on February 2, 1901 and was formed as a horse cavalry regiment.  When I served with the Regiment in Vietnam in 1968 its status was that of a light armored, completely mobile reconnaissance force with a proud tradition.

Following its activation in 1901, the 11th Cavalry was deployed to the Philippines to help put down the insurgent uprising that was ravaging the island.  For four years the Regiment fought with distinction and was awarded by the war department the "Samar 1902" battle streamer, the first of many that would ultimately be awarded to this fine Regiment.


The Regiment's motto was earned early on in its history.  "Allons" (Let's Go) symbolizes the courage and swiftness that the Regiment exemplified throughout its history.  The Regiment still retains this motto even today.  For students of French, the more accurate translation of "Let's Go" is - Allons`y

The Regiment had been back to the US from the Philippines for only the shortest of time when it was again called upon to join the Army of Pacification in Cuba where the men of the Blackhorse served with merit.

Pancho Villa

One of the "Blackhorse's" most noteworthy campaigns was against the notorious Mexican bandit, Pancho Villa.  In 1919, the Regiment joined General John J. Pershing's Punitive Expeditionary force against Villa and his bandits.  Overcoming the desert wasteland of Mexico, the Regiment won its second battle streamer, "Mexico 1916-1917."  It was here that the Regiment made "The Last Mounted Cavalry Charge In US History."

March to Parral

The Provisional Squadron led by Major Robert L. Howze under special orders from Pershing marched southward on March 24, 1916 toward Parral.  The New York World had this to say:

"Among many instances of achievement since the troops entered Mexico, one to the lasting credit of the Regiment stands out among the rest - the time when 208 men of the 11th Cavalry were cut loose from all communication on a desert march.  On an issue of five days rations, the column in twenty days marched 571 miles, only 100 miles less than the distance from Paris to Berlin."

"The country through which they marched was a desert waste.  It afforded no fodder and only at long intervals was there water for the horses.  There were no roads, at best only untraveled trails.  During the entire march they were beyond reach of relief.  they fought several engagements and suffered only one fatality.   It is doubted if there are cavalrymen in the armies of Europe capable of equaling this feat."

Organization Day

Organization Day for the 11th Armored Cavalry is based upon an action which happened May 5, 1916, when six troops under Major Howze made forced night march on Ojo Azules when at daylight, they surprised one of Villa's bands.  Forty-two of the Villistas were killed without one American casualty.  The 11th Cavalry was re-deployed to Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia on February 5, 1917.

W.W. I

The Regiment did not see service overseas in World War I.  In the years leading up to World War II the 11th Cavalry was based at Presidio of Monterey in California.  It was here during this period that the Regiment converted from horse to armor.  It also converted its title to: the 11th Tank Battalion, 10th Armored Division.


In France, Belgium and Germany the Battalion won five battle streamers for campaigns in: Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace and Central Europe.  Two other representatives of the 11th Cavalry, the 11th Armored Group and the 11th Cavalry Group also saw combat in Europe.  The 11th Cavalry Group were awarded three battle streamers for Normandy, Rhineland and Ardennes-Alsace.  The 11th Armored Group distinguished itself at the Battle of the Bulge when it controlled the entire sector once held by the 102nd Division.

Korean War

From 1948 until 1951 elements of the 11th Cavalry Regiment were disbanded.  With the onset of the Korean conflict, these elements were reactivated to teach armor tactics.   The days of the Regiments home stay were short-lived with in 1957 the unit was sent to Germany as part of the NATO forces.

The Cold War

Border patrol was now the mission of the Regiment.  In an area known as the "Iron Triangle" that was formed by the Bavarian towns of Straubling, Landshut and Regensburg the Regiment set up operations to patrol the boarder between West Germany and Czechoslovakia.  For seven years the Regiment protected the border from communist aggression.  In August, 1964 the Regiment was called home.


Home now for the Regiment was Fort Meade, Maryland where the "Blackhorse" engaged in operational training and support activities like participation in the Presidential Inauguration and support for ROTC summer training.

With the conflict in Vietnam escalating, the Blackhorse Regiment was alerted for assignment to Southeast Asia on March 11, 1966.  The Regiment began specialized training for combat in a counterinsurgency environment.  Modifications were made to the organization and equipment (MTOE) with emphasis on the use of modified M-113 Armored Personnel Carriers (APGs).  Two M-60 machineguns with protective gun shield were mounted at the rear of the vehicle and a gun shield was added around the .50-cal machinegun located at the commander's hatch.  This lethal combination produced a deadly M-113 that was swiftly maneuverable and armor protected.  Its nickname was ACAV (Armored Cavalry Assault Vehicle).

The Regiment's modifications emphasized the use of ACAVs instead of the main battle tanks and the M-114s that were found in reconnaissance platoons.  The tank companies, with there M-48A3 main battle tanks, remained the same in each squadron.

The Blackhorse Regiment arrived in Vung Tau, South Vietnam on September 7, 1966 and was commanded by Col. William W. Cobb.  "Operation Hickory" (Oct. 7, 1966 to Oct. 15,1966) produced the first enemy casualties inflicted by the 3rd Squadron and elements of the 919th Engineer Company in the vicinity of Phu Hoa.

Blackhorse Base Camp

"Atlanta" was the code name for the establishment of Blackhorse Base Camp - the new home of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment in Vietnam.  Blackhorse Base Camp was located approximately 6 kilometers south of the village of Xuan Loc on Route 2 and approximately 2 kilometers southeast of the village of Long Goia.  Saigon lie approximately 35 kilometers to the west along Rt. 1.  The operation began on Oct. 20 and concluded on Nov. 3, 1966.

Stanton's Vietnam Order Of Battle lists the following locations for the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment's Headquarters in Vietnam:

Bien Hoa Sept. 66 - Nov. 66
Long Binh Dec. 66 - Feb. 67
Xuan Loc March 67 - Jan. 69
Lai Khe Feb. 69
Long Giao March 69 - Sept. 69
Bien Hoa Oct. 69 - June 70
Di An July 70 - March 71

"Operation Cedar Falls"

From January until May 18, 1967 the Regiment conducted three major search and destroy operations.  These operations would later be known as reconnaissance in force (RIF) operations.  The first of these operations commence on Jan. 8, 1967 and was known as "Operation Cedar Falls".  It continued until Jan. 24, 1967.  The 1st and 2nd Squadrons operated in the infamous "Iron Triangle" region near Ben Cat employing search and destroy tactics, screening and blocking, and security in attacks on successive objectives.

"Operation Junction City"

"Operation Junction City" I and II involved the 1st and 3rd Squadrons.   It began on Feb. 18, 1967 and ran through April 15, 1967.  This operation took these squadrons to the headquarters of the Central Office South Vietnam (COSVN) believed to be located in Bihn Duong Province with the objective of destroying this important headquarters.  This joint mission conducted with the 1st Australian Task Force secured lines of communication and fire support bases (FSB).  Extensive RIF operations were conducted as well.

"Operation Manhattan"

Commencing on April 23, 1967 the third operation titled "Operation Manhattan" was a thrust into the Long Nguyen Secret Zone by the 1st and 2nd Squadrons.  This zone was a long suspected regional headquarter of the Viet Cong.  60 tunnel complexes were uncovered.  1884 fortifications were destroyed.  621 tons of rice was evacuated during these operations.  The 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment was building a solid reputation for carrying out effective reconnaissance in force operations.   "Operation Manhattan" ended on May 11, 1967.

"Operation Kittyhawk"

Beginning on April 1967 and running through March 21, 1968, the Regiment was tasked to secure and pacify Long Khanh Province.  This year long mission was called "Operation Kittyhawk".  It achieved three objectives: Viet Cong (VC) were kept from interfering with travel on the main roads, Vietnamese were provided medical treatment in programs like MEDCAP and DENCAP and finally, RIF operations were employed to keep the VC off balance, making it impossible for them to mount offensive operations.


From the summer of 1967 until the winter the Regiment was led by Col. Roy W. Farley.   "Operation Emporia I & II was a road clearing operation with limited RIF missions by the 1st and 3rd Squadrons in Long Khanh Province.  "Operation Valdosta I & II was a regimental size operation.  Its purpose was to provide security at polling places during elections and to maintain reaction forces to counter VC agitation.  So successful was this operation that 84.7 % of eligible voters cast ballots in Long Khanh Province in the first general election and 78 % in the second.

"Operation Quicksilver" involved the 1st and 2nd Squadrons of the 11th Armored Cavalry.  Its purpose was to secure routes that moved logistical personnel of the 101st Airborne Division between Bihn Long and Tay Ninh Provinces.  Cordon, search and RIF missions were also performed.

"Operation Fargo"

"Operation Fargo" ran from Dec. 21, 1967 until Jan 21, 1968.  This regimental size operation conducted RIFs in Bihn Long and Tay Ninh Provinces and opened Route 13 to military traffic for the very first time.

The Tet Offensive

The early part of 1968 was marked by the most ambitious and embolden offensive attack coordinated by the VC and NVA in the history of the war.  It was know as "The Tet Offensive" designed to coincide with the Vietnamese New Year known as Tet.

"Operation Adairsville"

This operation began on Jan. 31, 1968.  Word was received by the II Field Force HQs to immediately re-deploy to the Long Binh/Bien Hoa area to relieve installations threatened by the TET Offensive.  At 1400 hours (2:00 PM) the 1st Squadron was called to move from their position south of the Michelin Rubber Plantation to the II Field Force Headquarters.  The 2nd Squadron moved from north of the plantation to III Corps POW Compound were enemy soldiers were sure to attempt to liberate the camp.  The 3rd Squadron moved from An Loc to III Corps Army, Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) Headquarters.   It took only 14 hours and 80 miles to arrive in position after first being alerted.

"Operation Alcorn Cove"

The security operation in the Long Bihn/Bien Hoa area and the area around Blackhorse Base Camp by the 1st and 2nd Squadrons is continue under "Operation Alcorn Cove" which began on March 22, 1968.  This joint mission with the 18th and 25th ARVN Infantry Divisions was a two fold operation of security and RIFs.  "Operation Toan Thang was an extension of "Alcorn Cove".  That joint operation involved the 1st and 25th Infantry Divisions.

"Workhorse"  The 3rd Squadron

K Troop was part of the 3rd Squadron and known as "Killing K Troop".   The nickname for the 3rd Squadron was fittingly called "Workhorse".   Shortly after its arrival in Vietnam, the 3rd Squadron engaged the Viet Cong for the first time.  So devastating was the 3rd Squadron's infliction of casualties against the enemy the it was awarded a Meritorious Unit Citation for this period.

The Tet Offensive of 1968 gave the squadron a chance to fight the enemy's troop formations in open combat.  In Bien Hoa the 3rd Squadron drove the enemy forces from the area near III Corp s Headquarters.  Its action was crucial in smashing the enemy's offensive.


While in Vietnam and up until the time I left Vietnam in 1969 the Blackhorse Regiment had been in almost constant enemy contact as it reclaimed many enemy held strongholds.   The Regiment operated in areas from the Mao Tao Secret Zone in southeast Long Khanh Province to Loc Ninh in northern Bihn Long Province close to the Cambodian border.

When I left the Blackhorse in April of 1969 the Regiment comprised three squadrons, an Air Cavalry Troop, Regimental HQ and HQ Troop and assigned and attached units.   General Harold K. Johnson, then Army Chief of Staff said in August of 1967 that: "the Blackhorse Regiment in Vietnam has successfully silenced those (critiques) who doubted the effectiveness of armor in this counterinsurgency environment. The Regiment departed Vietnam on March 7, 1972.  It had earned 11 battle streamers. 

The "Cold War" - Fulda, Germany

The next mission for the Regiment would be found in Germany where it provided boarder security until the end of the Cold War.  On November 9, 1989, the East-West German wall fell. *The Regiment’s 17-year vigil along the Iron Curtain was over.

"Operation Desert Storm" - Kuwait

Elements of the Regiment saw service in "Operation Desert Storm" in Kuwait.In August of 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait. 1st Platoon, E Troop, 2nd Squadron went to war with 3rd ACR. On 10 April 1991, the Regiment deployed an aviation task force to support the U.S. Kurdish relief efforts in Turkey and Northern Iraq (Operation Provide Comfort). On 16 May 1991, the Regiment deployed to Kuwait for Operation Positive Force to secure Kuwait as it struggled to rebuild from the war. By October, Task Force Thunderhorse’s mission in Turkey was over, and its remaining troopers returned to Fulda. As the need for U.S. forces in Europe decreased, on March 15, 1994, in an emotional ceremony, the Blackhorse Regiment was deactivated.  A sad day in the annals of this proud force.

"Whenever Duty Calls . . . .
Our Nation To Be Free . . . .
With A Thunderous Roar
We Will Ride Again . . . .
11th Cavalry."

And so it would.  On October 26, 1994 the 11th US Cavalry was once again activated and stationed at the National Training Center at Ft. Erwin, California were it trains the Army's combat units to "Be The Best That They Can Be".  The 11th was not entirely whole.  It was missing the 3rd Squadron.  It would later be in September of 1995 that the Blackhorse would be made whole again with the activation of the 3rd Squadron as the Las Vegas National Guard.   Troop E  is now part of the Montana Army National Guard. It use to be 2nd Cav 163 Armored Battalion.

The 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment has had 62 Commanders of which includes Col. George S. Patton.  He retired as Maj. General.  Col. Patton was the 39th commander and my commander when I served with the Regiment in 1968 and 1969.  He died June 27, 2004.  He is noted for his Standing Order To Troopers of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment: "Find The Bastards, Then Pile On".

The 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment is currently based at the National Training Center at Ft. Erwin, California under the command of Mark E. Calvert the 62nd Regimental Commander.  During the winter of 2004/2005 the 1st Squadron, 2nd Squadron and Regimental HHT were deployed to Iraq.

On November 5, 2006 D Troop, 1st of the 221st Cavalry, Nevada National Guard was reflagged at K Troop, 1st of the 221st and is expected to join the 11th ACR.

100th Anniversary Reunion

100 Years of Service to the Nation - 11th US Cavalry




The 11th Armored Cavalry's Veterans of Vietnam and Cambodia, along with the Blackhorse Association, celebrated the centennial anniversary of the founding of the Blackhorse with a reunion in Washington, DC - Ft. Myer, VA. in 2001.  For more about this event, visit Reunions of the 11th Armored Cavalry's Veterans of Vietnam And Cambodia.

The Gulf Crisis ( Southwest Asia Service Medal)

    The unexpected surprise Iraqi invasion of Kuwait on 2 August 1990 triggered the Gulf Crisis that gripped the world's attention.  

    The Regiment was not deployed into the Gulf as a unit.  The first deployment of 200 troopers included aircrews, mechanics, truck drivers, physician's assistants, intelligence analysts and others.  The scout platoons of Troop E and Troop K deployed as units.  In the brief, but violent ground campaign that routed Saddam Hussein's Army, one group of Blackhorse scouts, the 1st Platoon of Troop E distinguished themselves.  While fighting as part of the 3rd ACR, led by 1st Lt. Tom Johnson and Staff Sergeant Richard Shelton, Troop E moved over 325 Kilometers in less than 60 hours, finishing the war just south of the Iraqi City of Basra.  This one platoon captured thirteen enemy prisoners and destroyed thirteen trucks, two command bunkers, and the communications bunker.  None of the scouts of Troop E, nor any other Blackhorse trooper, suffered any casualties.  

     The end of the actual hostilities in the Gulf did not result in a return to normalcy. Far from it, the aftermath of Saddam Hussein's defeat triggered an uprising of Iraq 's oppressed Kurdish minority.  The Iraqi military bloody suppression of the Kurdish uprising sent hundreds of thousands of Kurds fleeing into the mountainous wastes of southeastern Turkey and western Iran .  The world watched in horrified wonderment when the United States took the lead in responding to this intolerable situation.  American and Allied military units were directed to deliver relief supplies to the refugees.  


     The morning of 10 April 1991, V Corps directed the Blackhorse to deploy an aviation task force to supervise the relief operations in Turkey .  This was no different from the "No-Notice" deployment to join General "Black Jack" Pershing, in 1916 in Mexico .  The Regiment responded quickly and deployed for Operation PROVIDE COMFORT.  Within 70 hours of receiving first warning orders, Task Force Thunderhorse, under the command of Major John Mainwaring, launched from Fulda and landed in Diyarbakir, on an austere and remote airfield in southeastern Turkey.  Fourth Squadron played a leading role in PROVIDE COMFORT.  Fourth Squadron was the foundation from which massive allied helicopter fleets emerged: flying hundreds of sorties, delivering supplies, flying Special Forces teams and relief workers in and out of refugee camps, evacuating the sick and wounded, and inserting the Allied forces to protect the Kurds from Iraqi interference.  


     In orders dated 16 May 1991, as part of the Operation POSITIVE FORCE, the Joint Chiefs of Staff directed the 11th ACR to deploy immediately to Kuwait in order to sustain a presence there.  


     13 June 1991, only two weeks after the first Blackhorse soldier had arrived in theatre, the Regiment assumed from 1st Brigade, 3d Armored Division the responsibility for defending Kuwait .  The Regiment's new base camp was a sprawling complex surrounded by an eight-foot high wall.  


     The three line squadrons took turns pulling "Z Cycle", a designation that included responsibility for security.  Manning gates, towers, the Z Squadron kept a platoon-size Quick Reaction Force (QRF) on alert around the clock, seven days a week.  The QRF deployed off the compound without notice at least twice daily, a muscle-flexing exercise.


     On the morning of 11 July a defective vehicle heater triggered a motor pool fire in the north compound of Blackhorse Base Camp. Despite valiant efforts to extinguish it, the blaze burned out of control and began detonating ammunition stored in and around the Regiment's vehicle fleet.  The resulting shower of shrapnel and unexploded ordnance forced the evacuation of the entire compound and caused extensive damage.  


     Some fifty Blackhorse troopers suffered injuries that day, a number that would have been far higher had it not been for numerous individual acts of heroism and the Regiment's disciplined response to the emergency.  Miraculously, there were no fatalities.  


     Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, Commander-in-Chief of the United States Central Command, visited the Regiment.  He presented the Soldier's Medal for Heroism to three Blackhorse soldiers:


     Major Ricky Lynch

     Staff Sergeant Charles Rogers

     Private Eric Tomlinson


     As the Regiment returned from the Gulf in September 1991 it had to confront this period of change with an odd mixture of uncertainty and unpredictability.  The "good guys" and "bad guys" could not be identified, as before.  In a world wracked by religious and ethnic passion, economic rivalry, and the frustrated aspirations of hundreds of millions of people, the prospects for lasting peace and harmony seemed remote.  Prudent nations and wise soldiers would "keep their powder dry".


Southwest Asia



( Battle Streamer)


15 October 1993 - 15 March 1994, Germany


     It is always a time of great sorrow when a Regiment with such distinction is ordered to furl its colors.  As the military was down sizing, the Regiment was inactivated, but not for long.



16 October 1994 Fort Irwin , California


     The Regiment now serves as the opposing force (OPFOR) in exercises designed to train Army battalion and brigade task forces in tactical and operational level skills under near-combat conditions. The Regiment formerly publishes the "Red Thrust Star", a quarterly magazine to disseminate accurate and current information regarding the doctrine, organization, equipment, and tactics of all potential adversary military forces.  


     Most knowledgeable leaders and soldiers alike, consider the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment the best-trained mechanized force in the world.  Continuing in the NTC tradition of Lead, Train, Win, the Blackhorse stands ready to respond to any mission to which it may be called.  

    NOTE:  The famous writer Tom Clancy wrote a book entitled Executive Order, in which he mentions the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment as being the premier regiment in the U. S. Army and that they went into the Gulf region again to stop a dictator.  It was based on the training and experiences acquired at Fort Irwin , California .




January 2005 – 17 March 2006


On 4 July 2004, the Regiment received deployment orders for Operation Iraqi Freedom.  Previously, in June 58th Combat Engineers, Red Devils, was the first to deploy attached to 2nd BDE, 10th Mountain Division in Baghdad , Iraq .  2nd Squadron deployed in December 2004 to Babil Province , to conduct support and stability operations with the 155th Mississippi National Guard.  1st Squadron deployed in January 2005 to Baghdad , Iraq . Over the course of the year they were attached to four different Brigade Combat Teams conducting full spectrum operations in the Baghdad area of operations.  The Regimental Headquarters deployed to Mosul Iraq that same month and assumed duty as the division headquarters for Multi National Force North-West.    

  The Regimental Support Squadron was faced with the dual mission of providing the Regimental Rear Command Post and continuing to support the rotational training mission. 1/221 Cavalry, Nevada ARNG, was activated and deployed to Fort Irwin in the fall of 2004, formed the core of NTC’s premier Opposing Force. On two separate continents the Regiment demonstrated cavalry panache and flexibility, performing its wartime mission within a tradition of unmatched excellence that no other separate brigade has been called on to perform.

The Regiment returns to Fort Irwin to reorganize as a deployable heavy brigade combat team while continuing to serve in rotational support for the military at large.

The Regiment on Wikipedia

Bugle Call  Playing - Charge

Play and Download The Song - Allons (MIDI).

Liniage and Honors of the 11th Armored Cavalry.

*In a letter dated March 6, 2007 Chris Harlow, a  919th Engr, 11th ACR vet (5 68-5 69), writes that the mission continued on until 1993 as he was there, "polygraphing troopers with w/TS."

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