The Early Phase of Airmobility in Vietnam from “Super Gunner Six”

Arthur J. Ryan III


MAJ(R) Arthur Ryan graduated from West Point in 1963 and branched Armor. During his career, he deployed to Vietnam twice. He shares his experiences from two tours in Vietnam, one in an Aviation Company with UH-1 helicopters and another as an Executive Officer of a Cavalry Troop. His first tour in Vietnam, from September through December of 1965, was a volunteer temporary tour where he led a detachment of door gunners under the “Shotgun Program.” This was early in the process of developing standard operating procedures for the employment of helicopter assets and door gunners were not organic to aviation units. During his first thirty days in country, his crews flew in all four Corps areas in Vietnam. After returning from his short tour in Vietnam, he immediately began preparing for a standard one year deployment as the Executive Officer of A-3/4 Cavalry. In this interview MAJ(R) Ryan discusses the training program for volunteer door gunners, describes his first mission flying as a door gunner in Vietnam, and talks about supporting the Special Forces Camp at Plei Me when it was attacked in October, 1965. He was deployed to Vietnam early in the war and provides a perspective of the country before the major American build-up. He then talks about returning to Vietnam with 3/4 Cavalry as the A Troop Executive Officer and functioning in an armored ground role. Near the end of the interview, he notes the positive attitudes of the Soldiers he was deployed with from 1965-1967.


conflicts Vietnam War
topics Military Techniques War in the Air
interviewer Mark Frankel
date 15 July 2011


name Arthur J. Ryan III
institution USMA
graduation year 1963
service Armor / Ordnance
unit A Co 1st Aviation Battalion, A Troop 3/4 Cavalry 25th ID
service dates 1963 1984