Original U.S. Vietnam Hunting Club Helicopter Attack Squadron MA1 Type Flight Jacket

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. This is an excellent condition MA-1 flight jacket that features and embroidered HA(L)-3, (Helicopter Attack Squadron (Light) 3) "Seawolves" insignia patch to the right chest, Viet Nam Hunting Club patch to the right shoulder, name tag that reads BECKER and U.S. NAVY Naval aviator wings. Jacket is offered in very good condition with functional zippers and snaps. Size is approximately a US 42.

HA(L)-3, (Helicopter Attack Squadron (Light) 3), nicknamed the "Seawolves", was an all-volunteer squadron in the US Navy formed in support of Naval Special Warfare operations and Mobile Riverine Forces during the Vietnam War.

Beginnings of the Navy helicopter gunship

Prior to the Vietnam War, the helicopter was a valued tool within the United States Army for reconnaissance, Search and Rescue (SAR), and medical evacuation of wounded (MEDEVAC). As an offensive weapon for ground-based targets, the helicopter was relatively ignored in favor of traditional, fixed-wing aircraft.
A UH-1E of HA(L)-3 landing on USS Harnett County (LST-821), October 1967.

In 1965, the US Navy began joint operations off the southern coast of South Vietnam in support of the growing war. In the same year, the Navy began limited river operations in the Mekong Delta, disrupting the Viet Cong's lines of communications, locating supply caches, and eliminating tax collecting stations. Based on the "Brown-water" Navy's early success, a commitment was made to continue river operations on a full-scale basis in the Mekong Delta. It was also determined that key to the survival of the boats operating in the rivers would be close air support.

Initially, the Brown-water Navy was supported by elements of the US Army's 145th Combat Aviation Battalion who had greater experience in helicopter gunship operations and tactics. Operating off a "Mothership", the USS Belle Grove, the Army and Navy worked together on Operation Jackstay. Although the joint effort was a success, it was felt that Naval Aviators and Aircrewman would be more suitable for the mission, especially since the mission would require the pilots and crews to operate off the deck of ships in all weather conditions, day and night. This, coupled with Army's pilots and aircrews lack of training in shipboard operations, identified a need for a dedicated, United States Navy, helicopter gunship program in Vietnam.

The birth of the HA(L)-3 and the Seawolves
In 1966, rotary wing support was originated as part of the response to the ongoing war in South Vietnam. Starting with Helicopter Combat Support Squadron ONE (HC-1), detachments of helicopter gunships transferred to the Navy to conduct combat operations in the Mekong Delta region of South Vietnam. HC-1 operated two-aircraft detachments of Army UH-1B gunships, staged from shore bases and patrol craft tenders. Providing a quick reaction, close air support (CAS) role for units of the Brown-water Navy, the effectiveness of the helicopter attack mission was quickly realized.

In response, the Navy began to widen the mission requirements. This created a need for a specific Squadron in support of the mission requirements. In April 1967, HC-1 was divided into four separate units, Helicopter Combat Support Squadron THREE (Navy Vertical Replenishment), Helicopter Combat Support Squadron FIVE and Helicopter Combat Support Squadron SEVEN (Navy Combat Search and Rescue) and Helicopter Attack Squadron (Light) 3 (HAL-(3)), nicknamed the Seawolves.

In 1966, the Navy sent a message fleet-wide, asking for volunteer Naval Aviators to man HA(L)-3. From the response, eighty Aviators were chosen to be the first "Seawolves" and transferred to Vietnam. On 1 April 1967, HA(L)-3 was officially established in South Vietnam under the command of LCDR Joseph B. Howard.

The wolf on the patch was inspired by the lion logo on a Löwenbräu beer can; a trident as a symbol for the Navy was added, and a shield with a spade as a symbol for death with red and yellow coolers as found on the flag of South Vietnam.

Fighting in Vietnam
The Seawolves would see their first major action while still part of a detachment of HC-1. On 31 October 1966, two Navy boats encountered a superior force of over 80 boats transferring a Viet Cong battalion. Encountering fierce resistance from them, the Navy boat commanders requested close air support. Scrambling and arriving within approximately fifteen minutes, the Seawolves would claim 16 Viet Cong boats sunk or destroyed.

The squadron was activated on 1 April 1967 at a commissioning ceremony at Vung Tau with four detachments: Detachment 1 (formerly HC-1 Detachment 29) on USS Hunterdon County; Detachment 2 (formerly HC-1 Detachment 27) at Nhà Bè Base; Detachment 3 (formerly HC-1 Detachment 25) at Vĩnh Long Airfield and Detachment 4 (formerly HC-1 Detachment 21) on USS Jennings County.

By August 1967, the squadron had grown to eight two-helicopter detachments based at Vung Tau, Binh Thuy Air Base, Đồng Tâm Base Camp, Vĩnh Long, and Nhà Bè and on LSTs anchored on the Hàm Luông, Cổ Chiên and Bassac Rivers.:126

After the activation of HA(L)-3 missions included Search and Destroy patrols, reconnaissance, medical evacuation (MEDEVAC), and SEAL Team insertion and extraction. From its inception the squadron were designed as a quick-reaction force. Two ship formations would stand alert for 24-hour shifts and respond to close air support requests up to 50 miles (80 km) away from their base. The squadron fell under the command of Task Force 116 and was originally deployed to support Patrol Boat, River (PBR) operations, but in time the squadron found themselves supporting Task Force 117 operations and even Army forces.
  • This product is available for international shipping.
  • Eligible for all payments - Visa, Mastercard, Discover, AMEX, Paypal, Amazon & Sezzle


Cash For Collectibles