Casper aviation platoon Casper Platoon Story

Night Hawk Cancels The Darkness

This site was last updated: 2/15/15


Reprinted from: Fire Base 173

May 17,1969


As darkness falls over northern Binh Dinh Province, the enemy moves out from the daytime cover to roam about the valleys and the mountains with a little freedom. The ever-present eyes in the sky, helicopters and observation planes, can't see them as they make their way to a new village to terrorize--or to a familiar village hamlet to extort food and money. The biggest worry at night is the ambush patrols set out by paratroopers of the 173d Airborne Brigade, and they are sometimes avoided.

Swooping down from the sky above the lush valleys is a "Huey Slick" (a UH-1D helicopter) with a few innovations mounted. Namely, a large starlight scope, a xenon searchlight, and a .50 caliber machine gun. The sudden surprise of the terrified enemy on the ground can be seen plainly on the faces illuminated by the light, as the .50 caliber pumps lead downward.

This weapon is "Night Hawk." Night Hawk is a new innovation in airborne search technique. By scanning the ground with the starlight scope, the crewmen can spot activity without letting the enemy know he has been seen. He soon does know, however, because spotlight snaps on and finds "Charlie" with his pants down. With the target spotted by the light, the .50 caliber opens up.

Night Hawk for the 173d Airborne Brigade is the brainchild of CWO Dale J. Morrison. Morrison works with the 173d Aviation Platoon, Casper.

The Salinas, California, native took his idea of Night Hawk to the head shed where it was greeted with enthusiasm. Several men from the brigade went scrounging throughout Vietnam, and they came up with the need equipment for the Night Hawk- the scope and the light.

Morrison then took the materials and put them together on a Huey. he worked out the way to mount the scope on the spotlight so that the light, even when not on, would follow the track of the scope--in other words, he mounted them coaxially.

It was a lot of hard work, but it was worth it, as Night Hawk is another thing that Charlie must worry about, and for good reason; Night Hawk is interdicting the enemy during his best hours of clandestine operation.