The 4th Aviation Battalion was organized (constituted) at Fort Lewis, Washington, just east of Seattle, in August 1963. It was activated in October 1963 and deployed to the Republic of Vietnam in September 1966. The advance party, B Company, arrived in country on September 25, 1966 to Camp Enari, just south of Pleiku Vietnam. Within a couple months, the Battalion Headquarters and A Company arrived to complete the Battalion. D Troop of the 10th Cav. was also activated and arrived in Vietnam in late 1966, followed by 7th of the 17th Cav in early 1967. In early 1970 the battalion moved to Ankhe, with the rest of the division and left Vietnam and arrived in the states in December 7, 1970. It was inactivated 4 December 1970 at Fort Lewis, WA.
The Unit was once again activated at Fort Carson CO in March 1982. It was inactivated in November 1990.
The Unit was activated for
the third time in January 1996 in Fort Hood, Texas.
4-4 Attack Reconnaissance Battalion Meets two of its Gambler Guns Legacies
By: Captain Crystalyn Fillmore, Battalion S1, Ft Hood, TX.
Legacy—what does it really mean? The word by definition has multiple meanings to include living to tell the tale or living up to something of notoriety. We Soldiers of 4th Battalion 4th Aviation Regiment (ARB) “Gambler Guns” of the 4th Infantry Division’s Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB) had the thrilling opportunity to meet two men that were part of the original Gambler Guns from the Vietnam era—true living legacies.
We had this distinct pleasure on March 28-29, 2008 which culminated with our unit’s pre-deployment Family Readiness Group (FRG) teambuilding formal event, the “Gambler Gun Monte Carlo Night.” Battalion Commander LTC Kevin A. Vizzarri admitted, “It’s important for units to identify with their history at the lowest level; it makes it even more special to have living legacies of the Gambler Guns present to tell their story and reconnect the Gambler family.”
Historically, the Gambler Guns draw their unit’s lineage from Bravo Company, 4th Aviation Battalion dating back to Vietnam in December of 1967. Jim Adams who currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia and Bruce Loughridge who lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico both were part of the original Gambler Guns who were then Bravo Company, 4th Aviation Battalion and served together in Vietnam at Camp Enari located in south Vietnam near Pleiku from 1968-1969.
Although the current Gambler pilots fly Apache Longbow helicopters while Jim and Bruce flew Cobras, they admit that the intensity of their jobs was roughly the same and although the face of the enemy may have changed, ultimately Gambler pilots have faced and will continue to face a tough and determined foe. During their tour of the AH-64D Apache Longbow, Loughridge and Adams were surprised to meet to the CAB’s living legacy, CW5 Lance McElhiney who began his Army Aviation career as a Vietnam Cobra pilot in 1970 and remains on active duty to this day.
“It was interesting to talk to and hear from Lance and his perspective of how some of the same tactics we used then are still being used today,” stated Adams. “Seeing Lance still doing what he does made me want to grab a flight suit and come back on active duty,” Adams joked.
Loughridge summarized the weekend events in just four words to his friends in an email after his return to Albuquerque, “Wow! What a trip!” The two arrived for the weekend and were given a VIP tour of the flight line and the hangar where they sat in an actual AH-64 D Apache cockpit. Afterward they got a feel for the capabilities of the Apache by experimenting with the Longbow Collective Training Simulator (LCTS), an exact six cockpit Longbow simulator. After a BBQ with the battalion, the legacy Gambler Guns went to the Engagement Skills Trainer where they shot M16s and M9s in simulation.
The “Monte Carlo Night” was a huge success all the way around. It not only allowed the FRG to interact and create stronger bonds that must last throughout the pending 15 month deployment; it also aided in building espirit de corps in the unit with the presence of the Vietnam era Gambler Guns. It was a formal and classy conclusion to a phenomenal moment for these Gambler Guns legacies. The event featured great music and casino tables for donated prizes, but the video featuring Gambler Guns through their history stole the show as it captured Gamblers from the beginning with the Vietnam era Gamblers and concluded with the present Gamblers. Our battalion’s gratitude to these two Gambler legacies as well as all of their fellow Vietnam comrades was expressed when the entire room gave them a thunderous standing ovation and they in turn honored us by partaking in the cake cutting ceremony with army sabers.
“Tonight was awesome – it was better than any other formal I’ve been to including Cavalry units who pride themselves on unit history. To see and talk to these guys in person was priceless- our Battalion will be better because of this experience,” said Battalion Executive Officer, MAJ John Cochran.
Jim Adams presented a Gambler Gun business card which was used in Vietnam to LTC Vizzarri which he shared with the audience. It read:
“Ace High – Gambler Guns
Live by Luck
Love by Nature
Death on Call
Danger is our Business
Lovers one and all
Gunships are our specialty
But we are damn good
At them all.”
These two American heroes can never fully know how much they are appreciated within the Gambler Gun Family and as unsung heroes of an openly unpopular conflict, we as present Gambler Guns owe it to our part of the legacy that has lived to tell the tale to live up to their stories and continue the legacy into the future. The unit plans to conduct a joint welcome home after our Iraqi tour is complete for both Vietnam Era and present day Gambler Guns, where we can formally say Ace High Gambler Guns – we lived your legacy, thank you and welcome home!
|Bruce Loughridge, Jim Adams, LTC Kevin Vizzarri||
Jim Adams, Gambler Guns, Viet Nam
|L to R Mary Portman (friend of Jim Adams), Jim Adams, CW2 Mark Pluckinski (4-4 pilot), Bruce Loughridge, Lesle (Bruce's wife), CW5 Lance McElhiney (Brigade Master Pilot) LTC Kevin Vizzarri (4-4 Battalion Commander), CW3 Charles Day (4-4 pilot), CW2 Joshua Trickey (4-4 pilot), CW2 Jason Sullivan (4-4 pilot)|
|Here is Jim and Bruce in the OLD days...|
Bruce is standing in front of his Snake while parked
on the hill overlooking Plieku AFB.
They were escorting a general officer and
he was either leaving or arriving via Air Force equipment.
Jim is reloading his Cobra.
Gambler pilots almost always helped rearm
the gunships because it was hard work
and the crew chief needed help and time
was usually short between missions.
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Last updated May 02, 2013