Operation Chopper (Vietnam)

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

Operation Chopper
Part of The Vietnam War
Color shawnee over rice paddies

an H-21 over South Vietnam
DateJanuary 12, 1962
LocationSouth Vietnam
Result US/South Vietnamese victory[1]

 South Vietnam

 United States
South Vietnam Viet Cong
Commanders and leaders
South Vietnam Nguyễn Xuân Vinh
Casualties and losses
None 6 Killed


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


The helicopters transported over 1,000[3] Army of the Republic of Vietnam paratroopers for an assault on a suspected Viet Cong (VC) stronghold 10 miles west of Saigon. The VC were surprised and soundly defeated, but they gained valuable combat experience they later used with great effect against American troops. The paratroopers also captured an 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" on YouTube PBS.
  2. ^ a b c Lieutenant General John J. Tolson, CMH Pub 90-4 Airmobility 1961-1971 (Washington, D. C.: Department of the Army, Center of Military History, 1989).
  3. ^ "Vietnam War - The Vietnam War". Archived from the original on 2011-05-25.

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