Brief Unit History
The 4th Helicopter Company, with 20 years, 9 months and 12 days of
continuous service in the active Army was the third cargo helicopter
company activated in the Army. Over this time span, it operated five
different cargo helicopters serving 2 years and 9 months as an H-19/H-25
company, 2 years as an H-34 company, 13 years as an H-37 company, and 2
years and 6 months as a CH-47 company. The 4th was the first company to
operate the H-34 Choctaw, the first to operate the H-37 Mojave, the last
active army unit to fly the Mojave, and the first army unit in Europe to
operate the CH-47 Chinook. The following historical summary is an
attempt to outline the various unit designations, T0&E’s, equipment
changes, and duty stations reflected in the Official Army history of
this helicopter company.
The aviation history of the 4th Helicopter Company began when the
506th Transportation Company (Helicopter) was constituted in the Regular
Army and activated at Fort Sill, OK on 17 June 1952. The unit was
organized under TOE 55-57 with a strength of 5 Officers, 19 Warrant
Officers, and 56 Enlisted Men. The company was authorized 21 cargo
helicopters and 2 utility helicopters however none were available for
issue at the time. On 16 November 1952, after being assigned 25 new
graduates of Army Helicopter Transport Pilot Class #52A, the 506th was
transferred from Fort Sill to Fort Benning, GA and assigned to Third
Army and Hdqs. The Infantry Center & School. Beginning on 4 December
1952, the 506th received it’s first of 14 Sikorsky H-19C helicopters and
began flight operations from Lawson AFB at Ft. Benning.
The 152nd Transportation Detachment (Cargo Helicopter Field
Maintenance) was constituted in the Regular Army and activated on 10
November 1952 at Fort Benning, GA. It was organized under TOE 55-500A
with a strength of 1 Officer, 1 Warrant Officer, and 26 Enlisted Men. On
5 January 1953, the 152nd was attached to the 506th Company to provide
all 3rd echelon field maintenance and limited aircraft supply support
for the 506th helicopters.
In early 1954, after operating for more than 12 months with it’s 14
H-19’s, the 506th received 7 Piasecki H-25 helicopters to bring the
company to full TOE authorization of 21 cargo helicopters and making it
the only helicopter company in the army to operate and maintain cargo
helicopters produced by two different manufacturers. On 1 July 1955, the
506th Transportation Company (Helicopter) was reorganized as (Light
Helicopter) (H-34) under TOE 55-57R, however it continued to operate
it’s H-19C and H-25 helicopters. On that same date the 152nd was
reorganized under TO&E 55-500R.
Mid 1955 saw the design and introduction of the company’s distinctive
unit patch. Designed by the Walt Disney Co, the patch, in the shape of
the shield on the Army Aviator Badge, has an Infantry blue background
and features an Indian caricature of a H-34 Choctaw helicopter with
whirling feathers as the rotor blades. A first aid kit and a rifle
reflects the unit’s missions. Across the lower part of the shield is a
gold scroll with the unit’s identifying number in red. This unit patch
was worn by members of the 506th TC Co. the 152nd TC Det, the 4th TC
Co., and the 4th AVN Co -and was displayed on their helicopters until
the unit was inactivated. The patch continues to be used by the 4th
Helicopter Co./152nd Det. Reunion Association.
On 10 September 1955, transition training for 506th pilots in the new
Sikorsky H-34 Choctaw began at Fort Sill, OK. The 506th received it’s 21
new H-34’s during the last 10 days of October and on 11 November
departed Fort Benning with 21 H-34’s for Exercise SAGE BRUSH at Fort
Polk , LA This equipment change-over made the 506th company the first
helicopter company in the army to operate the new H-34 Choctaw. The
Company now was able to airlift larger and heavier loads of both
personnel and equipment and to develop new flight missions in support of
the Infantry School and other major Army units.
On 18 May 1956, the 506th Transportation Company (Light Helicopter)
(H-34) and the 4th Transportation Truck Company were consolidated and
redesignated as the 4th Transportation Company (Light Helicopter) (H-34)
and authorized to bear the history and honors of both units. Shortly
after consolidation, on 20 June 1956, the 4th Company was reorganized
under TOE 55-57C with a strength of 12 Officers, 34 Warrant Officers, 9
NCO’s and 92 Enlisted Men and continued to operate from Lawson AAF in
support of the Infantry School.
In May 1957 the Company was selected to begin transition training in
the H-37 Mojave helicopter at Ft. Rucker, AL and in July began receiving
the new Sikorsky model. From July thru December 1957, the 4th Company
flew support missions with both the H-34 Choctaw and the H-37 Mojave
helicopters. On 1 February 1958, the 4th Transportation Company was
reorganized as (Medium Helicopter) (H-37) under TOE 55-58T with a
strength of 14 Officers, 24 Warrant Officers, 30 NCO’s, and 110 Enlisted
Men. Sixteen H-37 Medium and 2 H-13 Observation helicopters were
authorized. This reorganization made the 4th Company the first Medium
Helicopter Company in the Army and began it’s participation in the
development of medium lift helicopter support missions. On 16 February
1959, the 152nd Detachment was reorganized as (Medium Cargo Helicopter
Field Maintenance) under TOE 55-5lOT with a strength of 1 Officer, 1
Warrant Officer, and 78 Enlisted Men and continued their maintenance
support of the 4th Company.
On 28 July 1959, the 4th Company and the 152nd Det. were transferred
on a permanent change of station from Ft. Benning, GA to Hanau, Germany.
The unit’s advanced party arrived in Hanau on 4 July with the main body
arriving on 30-31 July 1959. Upon arrival , the Company was assigned to
Hdqs, USAREUR and Seventh Army and further assigned to the 54th
Transportation Helicopter Battalion at Hanau AAF. Upon arrival of 18 new
H-37’s the 4th Company became the first helicopter company to operate
H-37 helicopters outside of CONUS.
From December 1961 to Mid 1962, the 4th Company was reequipped with
H-37B model helicopters. In June 1962 the 4th celebrated the tenth
anniversary of it’s activation as a helicopter company in Army Aviation.
In early 1964, the Company was reassigned to the 8th Transportation Bn.
when the 54th Bn. was inactivated.
Flight operations continued from Hanau AAF until early May 1965 when
the 4th and 152nd were transferred to Oberschleissheim Germany, APO
09029 (near Munich) with their helicopters based at Schleissheim AAF. On
25 May 1965, the 4th Transportation Company was redesignated as the 4th
Aviation Company (Medium Helicopter) and reorganized under TOE 1—258F
with a strength of 11 Officers, 20 Warrant Officers, and 118 Enlisted
Men. The 152nd was attached to the 4th Avn and continued it’s field
maintenance support of the unit’s H-37s. Both the 4th and the 152nd were
assigned to VII Corps and further assigned to the 107th Transportation
The Company conducted flight operations from Schleissheim AAF until
10 January 1967 when the 4th and 152nd were again transferred on a
permanent change of station to Nellingen Germany, APO 09061 and on 6
June 1967 assigned to the newly activated 16th Aviation Battalion. On 1
April 1969, both units were again reassigned to Hdqs, USAREUR and 7th
Army and further assigned to the 15th Aviation Group. On 1 May 1969 the
4th Aviation Company (Med Hel) identification was changed to 4th
Aviation Company (Assault Support Helicopter).
During July, August, and September 1970, the 4th Co. retired their
aging H-37s, received 16 CH-47As shipped from Vietnam, and transferred
from Nellingen AAF to Schwaebisch Hall, Germany, APO 09025. This change
of mission equipment establish another first for the Company--first
CH-47 Chinook Company in Germany and another record--the last Company in
the active Army to operate the H-37. On 25 November 1970, the 4th Avn Co
was reorganized under MTOE 1-258HE700 with an authorized strength of 9
Officers, 30 Warrant Officers, and 159 Enlisted Men. That same date the
152nd Transportation Detachment (MCHFM) was inactivated, ending 18 years
of active service in support of the 4th Helicopter Company.
On 17 June 1972, the 4th Helicopter Company celebrated it’s twenth anniversary of continuous service as a helicopter company in the Army Aviation program, a feat no other helicopter company could match. Nine months later, on 29 March 1973, all personnel, equipment and facilities of the 4th Co. were transferred (in place) to the 180th Aviation Company (ASH). This unit had been transferred less personnel and equipment, from Vietnam to Germany on that same date. As a result the 4th Helicopter Company’s guidon was retired and the Company was inactivated effective 29 March 1973.