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Operation Chopper
Part of The Vietnam War
DateJanuary 12, 1962
LocationSouth Vietnam
Result Several US/South Vietnamese victories.[1]

United States

 South Vietnam
South Vietnam National Liberation Front
Commanders and leaders
South Vietnam Nguyen Xuan Vinh
United States Robert MacNamara
American Helicopters transported over 1000 50
Casualties and losses
None 6 Killed

Operation Chopper occurred on January 12, 1962 and was the first time US forces participated in major combat in the Vietnam War.

In December 1961, the USNS Core (T-AKV-41) docked in Saigon with 82 US Army Piasecki H-21 helicopters. A little more than 12 days later, Operation Chopper commenced.[2]

The helicopters transported over 1,000[3] South Vietnamese paratroopers for an assault on a suspected NLF stronghold 10 miles west of Saigon. The NLF were surprised and soundly defeated, but they gained valuable combat experience they would later use with great effect against US troops. The paratroopers also captured a sought-after underground radio transmitter.[2]

This operation heralded a new era of air mobility for the U.S. Army, which had been slowly growing as a concept since the Army formed twelve helicopter battalions in 1952 as a result of the Korean War. These new battalions eventually formed a sort of modern day cavalry for the Army.[2]


  1. Battlefield Viet Nam Episode 5 "The Undeclared War" PBS.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Lieutenant General John J. Tolson, CMH Pub 90-4 AIRMOBILITY 1961-1971 (WASHINGTON, D. C.: Department of the Army, Center of Military History, 1989).

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