F/51 LRP & F/51 LRS HISTORY

F Company (AIRBORNE), 51st Infantry (Long Range Patrol), 2nd Field Force

First I want to thank those who put together the original text and pictorial history of F/51 (LRP). In particular, the men who helped with pictures and reference material, SGT. J.D. Barrow for getting this undertaking published, Captain Thomas P. Meyer- proof editor, Specialist Mark G. Eastman and Dave Peace- art work, Specialist William D. Ellis- cover and emblems. I would also like to thank John W. "Pappy" Burke JR for a copy of the above pictorial history that one of our reunions. Gary D. Ford for the total list of missions on the Companies Activities Board, from his book "4/4 A LRP'S NARRATIVE", and Shelby L. Stanton, for the information about D/151 replacement of F/51 from his book "RANGERS AT WAR, LRRPs IN VIETNAM". To Naamon Grimmett's web site that is linked to by going to military.com unit pages and going to F Co INF ABN LRSC for the inception of F/51st and their lineage to Vietnam. Finally to David Peace and Mark Eastman for their help in suggestions and corrections and keeping me straight.

F/51 INF INCEPTION

F/51 was first organized during WWI on June 6,1917. Since then it has gone through a number of redesignations and activation. Lineage is as follows: WWI assigned to 6th Division, 1946 converted and redesigned as Troop C 10th Constabulary as part of 14th Constabulary Regiment. Dec,1948 converted and designated as C/10 Armored INF Battalion a part of 4th Armored Division, Feb 1953 became C/510 Armored INF Battalion and still part of 4th Armored Division. July, 1959 designated as Headquarters Company 6th Battle Group, 51ST INF. Aug., 1967 designated as Co, F (Long Range Patrol) 51st INF (AIRBORNE).

As the above lineage shows we have a long history, rich in tradition. F Company was reactivated and organized for Vietnam and was designated as a LRP unit on 9/27/67. The company was formed at Bien Hoa, where we were stationed, somewhat permanently. F/51 LRP became fully operational on 11/28/67.

F/51st INF ABN LRP VIETNAM

F/51 LRP's first commander was Major William C. Maus, who started the company in September of 1967. Our second commander was Major Joseph J. Zummo who assumed command in February of 1968. Major George M. Heckman replaced Major Zummo in November of 1968 and remained until the Company was disbanded in January 1969.

The company differed from other infantry companies in that it had 4 independently operating line platoons with each having seven six-man patrols. In addition, F company had it's own TOC and motor pool. The Company was placed under the control of G3, II FIELD FORCE and were OPCON to specific Brigades and Divisions operating in III Corps Tactical Zone. The only other company to have the distinction of a FIELD FORCE company is E/20 LRP AIRBORNE who were assigned to I FIELD FORCE and operated in and around the Central Highlands. As I am finding out, being assigned, as we were, makes it difficult to find records of actions where F/51 and E/20 were involved in. I commend those who have found the information for their books on LRP and RANGER books.

F/51st INF LRP Airborne was reactivated in 1967 due to the relocation of Special Forces to cross boarder operations and the relocation of 173rd to the upper part of South Vietnam. This left General Weyland's II Field Force without any long range patrols for intelligence gathering that the infantry units needed. Westmoreland, realizing that the line Companies needed intelligence, authorized the formation of E/20 and F/51 LRP Airborne. F/51st LRP was for the most part filled by taking volunteers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade LRRP, with the remainder coming from the 1st Infantry Division, the 25th Infantry Division, the 101st Airborne, the 1st Cavalry Division, and various units from the States, Canada and the 90th Replacement Battalion. The main prerequisite for service in F/51st was that every volunteer was to be Airborne qualified.

On 11/22/67 F/51 LRP sent its first team out and compiled an impressive combat record until it's deactivation in 2/1/69.

Operations that F/51 LRP were involved in include the following operations: Virgin- 11/28/67 to12/2/67, Kick-Off I- 12/3/67 to 12/5/67, Kick-Off II- 12/13/67 to 12/27/67, Uniontown III-Boxspring- 2/10/68 to 3/28/68, Wilderness-Toan Thang I- 4/2/68 to 5/23/68, Toan Thang II- 5/23/68 to 6/22/68.

Operational areas included but not limited to Bien Hoa- Long Binh Uyen area, The Mountain of the Black Virgin (Nui Ba Dinh), Phouc Vinh, Cu Chi area, Catchers Mitt, and the Pineapple Plantation area.

CONTROL AND SUPPORT

When we became operational we were under the operational control of II FIELD FORCE who assigned us to units that needed us for their eyes and ears in areas that they were interested in. Since we were under FIELD FORCE command along with LRPing for IIFF, they would assign us to other units, such as 199th LIGHT INFANTRY BRIGADE, and 3rd BRIGADE 101st AIRBORNE (when they first arrived in-country).

Our support came in the form of a ground reactionary force and support for helicopter insertion and air fire support. The ground support was provided by D Troop, 3/17 CAV. Our insertion and extraction helicopters and Cobra gunships were provided by a variety of units. One unit was 195th AHC who went by the call signs "Ghost Riders" and "Thunder Chickens" that supplied insertion and extraction helicopters and the gunships respectively. The other units were 117th AHC "Annie Fannie" for insertion and extraction and the 334th AHC "Playboys" for the Cobra gunships.

DEACTIVATION

Before the company's deactivation we were told that an Indiana National Guard unit - D/151 (LRP) - was taking our place as we were slated to be part of the nucleus for the formation of the 75th Rangers. Part of the Company was slated for O and P Companies of the 75th Rangers, while the remainder went with D/151.

When D/151 arrived in country and got settled, training and familiarization with their area of operation began under the guidance of seasoned F/51 veterans. It included insertions to give them actual experience with patrolling methods used in our area of Vietnam.

POST VIETNAM

F/51st INF ABN was reborn again in 1986 in Germany as F/51st INF ABN LRSC (Long Range Surveillance Company) and was attached to VII Corps, and was used in Desert Storm in 1990. They were again deactivated along with VII Corps in Germany in 1991. In 1993 F/51st was reactivated again as a LRSU under the 519th MI Battalion, 525th IM Brigade, XVIII Airborne Corp.

VIETNAM ACTIVITY BOARD

Taken from Gary Ford's book that is mentioned above. The Activity Board of F/51 LRP from 11/22/67 to 1/23/69 stands for itself as to the job we did.

  • Days operational: 438
  • Number of light team infiltrations: 638
  • Number of heavy team infiltrations: 133
  • Times enemy sighted: 808
  • Contacts made with enemy: 403
  • Enemy killed, body count: 293
  • Probable killed, visual: 189
  • Enemy wounded by visual report not counted as probable: 54
  • Captured enemy weapons 45
  • Enemy POW's taken: 45
  • Artillery fire missions to support F/51 LRP: 292
  • F/51 LRP's KIA/died as result of combat action 12

  • Wounded in action: 139
  • Missing in action: 0
  • Other friendly KIA in action: 4
  • Other friendly wounded in action: 7