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The story behind the site name of
Company C, 2/5 Cavalry's first call sign in Vietnam was "Deadly Lizard." (Source: Edward Boyt, first commander of C 2/5 Cav in Vietnam, and his RTO, Tom Talton.) Like all other units operating in Vietnam, the company was required to change call signs and frequencies on a regular basis. Doing so prevented the enemy from identifying units by call signs and thereby gathering intelligence. As with all other units operating in Vietnam, the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) changed call signs and frequencies with regularity. But, because the "The Cav" used helicopters, units could move great distances at great speed. This created a lot of confusion, but changing call signs made the confusion worse.
In the 1967, the 1st Cav worked with the 173rd Airborne Brigade in a joint operation near Dak To. The story goes that there was so much confusion, so many helicopters trying to find units that had changed call signs, so much confusion coordinating artillery - just so much confusion - that the 1st Cav was exempted from the requirement to change call signs. (Note: This story has yet to be verified by any documentation.)
In October, 1967, the 2nd Battalion 5th Cavalry was commanded by LTC Joseph Love.. (Source: The History of The Second Battalion Fifth Cavalry, Calendar Year 1967, written by SGT Ronald L. Punch, Unit Historian, and approved by LTC Raymond Maladowitz, Commanding.) He was advised by his Communications Officer that the call signs had to be changed, but that LTC Love would be able to select the call signs. In a letter recently written to Ken Burington, COL Love (now retired) recounted the following reasons for the names.
"We had done a lot of talking about being in 'Indian Country', and being from Arizona. I knew and admired certain Indian tribes."
Battalion - Prescott Arizona. COL Love entered federal service in Prescott Arizona, hence he became Prescott Arizona 6. The other battalion level positions followed suit, hence the S3 was Prescott Arizona 3, the Executive Officer was Prescott Arizona 5, etc. Company E Recon Platoon and Mortar Platoon would also use Prescott Arizona.
Company A - Lean Apache. The company commander at that time was CPT Clay Pratt, and LTC Love thought he was "lean."
Company B - Ridge Runner. LTC Love can't really remember why he selected "Ridge Runner."
Company C - Tall Comanche. CPT Dean Learish, the CO, was "tall."
Company D - Ready Navajo. LTC Love thought CPT Joe Carpenter was "always ready."
These call signs remained in use from the fall of 1967 until late summer/early fall of 1970. 1LT Rudy Cariaga was the Third Platoon leader, and remembers that sometime after the company returned from Cambodia, (June, 1970), the division returned to the custom of changing call signs. CPT Adolf Carlson, the last commander of Company C, confirms that many different call signs were used, right up until the guidon was furled in 1972.
It is easy to grasp why the 1st Cavalry Division was forced to return to the system of changing call signs in 1970: the enemy possessed considerably more sophisticated intercept capabilities than they possessed earlier in the war. In a Lessons Learned report dated March 1970, and titled Enemy Exploitation of Allied Tactical Communications, captured enemy documents specifically refer to the 1st Cavalry Division and how easy it was to gather intelligence from our practice of not changing call signs. Courtesy Army Security Agency ONLINE
Company C, 2nd Battalion 5th Cavalry served in Vietnam over six and half years. During that time, some of the call signs included "Coffee-Pot" (1967, source Tom Rutten), "Mad Merlin" (1967, source Imre Furedi), "Rabble" (fall 1970, source Jim Holcombe) and "Stampede" (1972, Source: Air Mission request 3 March 1972). Only during three of those years did it carry the call sign
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Updated September 08, 2006