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Vietnam Silk Pennant With Unit Patch - Help ID Patch Please


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This comes from the estate of an officer who was part of M.A.A.G.  Is this patch Vietnamese?  French connection?  Thanks for the help.

 

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vintageproductions

That's a super early ARVN 1st K-9 unit patch.

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Salvage Sailor

Exceptional rare patch but (ouch!*!) staples

 

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Also, I believe the flag is an ascot.  Thanks for the help.

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nguoi tien su

I would kill for this one :)
 

I believe it is Quan Khu 1, I Corps.


 

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Quote

The design actually shows a horse, not a dog. You can see the halter designed in white. 
The patch would be worn mid 50s, probably 55/56.

 

Not a K-9 unit.  This information comes from nguoi tien su.  Thank you.  

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vintageproductions

Francois are you sure?

 

Kim translated it as K-9 as he said that is what the initials stand for.

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Also, I might be incorrect but the ARVN didn't use military K-9's until the US brought them there in the mid 1960s, approximately 1966.  This patch is from the mid 1950s.  If I'm wrong, please let me know.  

 

Thanks.

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vintageproductions

Had my translator in today who is usually pretty good with his military translations, and I could have misunderstood him originally, but he says it is 1st Company Quan Ky ( Military animal transportation).

He said it is for the mules and the horses the ARVN army used for transportation units, not for say cavalry.

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nguoi tien su

Great thread, far from the usual patches.

 

Bob, that lead is interesting. 

French units had mule companies. That would make sense indeed.

If so, that would be the patch before this one:

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nguoi tien su

This was the only reference of the patch I have had so far.

That would be great to get a proper ID!

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vintageproductions

On Facebook Francois found an article from the ARVN museum here in Southern California that might lead to a better id.

 

 

Museum of the Republic of Vietnam

 ·

Riders on the Highlands:

 

The 1st Animal Pack Company – The One and Only All Mounted Unit of the Vietnam War

Any history of the war in Vietnam undoubtedly conjures images in the minds of its audience of the type that are so abundant in popular collective memory of that time and place in history that they have become clichés. Much of this cliché imagery encompasses means of military transport. Helicopters, jeeps, and patrol boats of various models feature prominently in nearly every account of the Vietnam War from classroom textbooks and veteran memoirs to Hollywood films and the iconography of monuments. However, the most historically prolific means of military transport – the horse – is absent in virtually all these accounts.

A quick answer many people would have as to the question of why the horse is absent in narratives of the war would be that horses were not utilized as advancements in military technology made them redundant by the 1960s. The image of mounted soldiers riding horses on patrol through the jungles and highlands of Vietnam appears antiquated compared to squadrons of Hueys delivering and extracting troops as a quick reaction force. When horses are referenced in accounts of the war they are almost always relegated to the personal mounts of small bands of hill tribesmen, haphazard and sporadic application during the French period, or other anecdotal instances. For this reason, it surprises most people to learn that there were indeed uniformed contingents of soldiers who rode horses and engaged in battle in Vietnam in the 1960s.

The 1st Animal Pack Company of the Republic of Vietnam was the one and only military unit of any combatant force during the war from 1955 to 1975 that specifically employed horses and whose troops were fully mounted. The unit was based at Ban Mê Thuột in the Central Highlands of Vietnam, and although the formation’s existence was brief, it is worthy of noting as an example of the diverse and complex history that was the war in Vietnam.

The unit was formed in July of 1958. It was intended to be a pilot unit to see how feasible and effective a mounted force could be in meeting the challenges faced by the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN). If operations with horses proved successful, additional mounted units would be created. However, the application of horses to the terrain and climate of Vietnam along with difficulties in establishing the consistent logistical support necessary to maintain a large unit of mounted troops plagued the experiment with horses from the beginning.

The 1st Animal Pack Company was a part of the military transportation branch of the ARVN. As the soldiers were utilizing a means of transportation – the horse – it was determined the unit would be designated under that branch. The term “pack” was applied to the company’s name, because the traditional role of horses in the highlands of Vietnam were as pack animals, i.e. used as beasts of burden for carrying goods across the region’s mountainous terrain. However, in planned application and actual practice, the unit operated more regularly as a mounted patrol formation in defensive and offensive actions.

A rare original example of the company’s insignia is shown here. It features the standard white wheel motif against a dark green background that were the principle symbols in the iconography of ARVN transportation units. However, in place of the winged ship (as is present on standard ARVN transportation branch insignia) a caricature of a horse’s head is shown. The patch pictured was given to the Republic of Vietnam Historical Society (RVNHS) during an interview with an American military transportation advisor who was assigned to the area encompassing the headquarters of the 1st Animal Pack Company in the early 1960s and kept the patch as a souvenir (he requests to remain anonymous at this time). This patch is possibly the only of example of the unit’s insignia in existence today. This artifact will soon be on display at the Museum of the Republic of Vietnam (MuseumRVN) in Westminster, California.

Lieutenant Colonel Hà Văn Chuyển of the ARVN military transportation branch was a captain in 1961, and commanded a regular “motorized” transportation company which was headquartered beside that of the 1st Animal Pack Company. Colonel Chuyển was originally from north Vietnam, but was forced to flee with the surviving members of his family south during the partitioning in 1954-1955 due to Communist persecution. At twenty-nine years old, he found the 1st Animal Pack Company to be a very unusual sight to behold in the highlands of Vietnam, not the least because neither he nor most of the men under his command had ever seen a horse before encountering this company. His memories of the 1st Animal Pack Company were still vivid when he sat down for an interview with RVNHS in 2006. “They had a problem in the Vietnamese Army (ARVN) finding the right animal doctor for horses,” Colonel Chuyển recalled. “We had animal doctors who cared for army dogs, and others who cared for cows, and some for chickens too, and ducks. But, there was nobody who knew about horses. The transportation branch headquarters recruited and paid extra for a civilian horse doctor from the Saigon horse race track to come to Ban Mê Thuột to maintain the horses.” The young Colonel Chuyen befriended the new army veterinarian of the 1st Animal Pack Company. They were around the same age and relatively unfamiliar with the Central Highlands at that time. They alleviated the boredom they and their men occasionally faced in the lonely highland outpost by fine tuning their horse riding skills and staging mock horse races in homage to the famed Saigon horse track, which Colonel Chuyen noted as becoming a highly popular event among the local villagers.

A 1961 United States Army report on the 1st Animal Pack Company in Ban Me Thuot described the unit’s horses as “the small Southeast Asian horse of local origin.” They were considered “sturdy” animals as they were “completely acclimated to the environment of South Vietnam.” For only a company size formation (roughly one hundred riders), it was not necessary to import horses for the unit as enough were readily available to meet the needs of this small group. However, if the unit were to expand or additional similar type units be established the military determined horses would need to be regularly imported to maintain the mounted capability.

Initially, the mounted unit concept met with positive results. Practice revealed the effectiveness of horses for carrying supplies as well as deterring the enemy. A battalion size infantry formation of between five hundred to eight hundred men could be sustained adequately in the field by only thirty horses acting as pack animals. In confrontations with the enemy, the horses performed well. The horses’ speed and agility gave them an edge in their ability to drive out hidden enemy combatants from their positions and into the open. At night, the horses performed another valuable duty as an effective sentry system. Horses are sensitive to changes in their environment, and thus would quickly raise the alarm by bucking and groaning if unknown entities were to approach.

However, five years after the unit’s creation, the challenges and impracticality of applying mounted units to the contemporary military and logistical situation in Vietnam were apparent. Ensuring sufficient supplies were available to maintain the horses proved difficult from the unit’s inception. It was determined on average each horse required four kilos of rice or an equivalent staple food source each day. As a healthy allotment for a soldier in the field was five hundred grams per day this meant that supplies needed each day to feed one horse was equal to that of eight soldiers. It was hoped by military planners that some portion or all of the horses’ diet could be sustained through natural foraging and grazing. But, endlessly searching for forage spots from which the horses could feed was burdensome and distracting. Operations in the field would sometimes mean the horses would remain in the same location for multiple days. After the first day, whatever natural vegetation a site had to offer for the horses’ consumption was depleted. Any reduction in food would yield an almost immediate decline in the horses’ capabilities. This would often first manifest itself as the horses moving at an ever increasingly sluggish pace or horses simply refusing to make any manner of movement at all. Ultimately, it was impossible for the military to ensure consistent supplies for the horses, and nearly all became plagued by bouts of fatigue.

According to Colonel Chuyển, by 1963, although most of the soldiers of the 1st Animal Pack Company were the same men as had been part of its formation in 1958, on average every soldier was at the very least on his fourth or fifth mount (horse). The military service life of each horse lasted roughly only nine months before injury, fatigue, or illness, caused them to be retired from the army to be sold to local villagers for use on farms. Many horses were also killed or required euthanization as a result of wounds suffered in battle. Colonel Chuyển recounted with poignant reflection how his friend, the unit’s veterinarian, would offer a prayer beside each horse brought back to the unit’s base camp suffering combat wounds before he gave the injections that were necessary to cease the animal’s suffering.

The high attrition rate was something military planners had not foreseen. Importing horses from abroad was always seen as a risky endeavor. The horses would no doubt be larger than the indigenous type, and thus require greater sustenance. Horses are highly sensitive to their environment and anecdotal evidence had shown foreign horses would not fair well in the unique conditions of the highlands in Vietnam. Although requisitioning horses for a company in 1958 was not difficult, the equation that for every group of one hundred riders between four and five hundred horses would be required, many of them imported from abroad, over the course of five years to maintain mounted capability was simply far too costly for a nation at war with resources already strained in many areas.

Following the removal of Ngô Đình Diệm in late 1963, much of the military was reorganized. The 1st Animal Pack Company was dissolved in 1964. The remaining horses were donated by the army to refugees from the north of Vietnam who were allotted farmland in the south by the Republic of Vietnam. Colonel Chuyển, himself a northern refugee from Communist persecution, was proud of this gesture. The soldiers of the 1st Animal Pack Company were assigned to various units in the military transportation branch.

The veterinarian went back to his civilian job at the Saigon race track. Ten years later, as the Republic of Vietnam was entering its twilight year, Colonel Chuyển, then chief of military transportation for the Fourth Military Region, visited his old friend in Saigon while on leave. He spent a day at the track with the veterinarian. Both men were married with several children each by now, and they reminisced over their days as young men riding horses in the lonesome mist covered outpost in the Central highlands. The notion that the realities of the day to day boredom and difficulties of their life in the Ban Mê Thuột outpost were transcending in memory into humorous accounts of mock horse races with hill tribesmen and noble highland stallions who kicked and bucked ranking desk officers who attempted to mount them for photos ops was not lost on Colonel Chuyển.

Today, the memory of the 1st Animal Pack Company and the experiment with mounted cavalry in the Vietnam War is little known, and relegated mostly to only those few who know of and witnessed it first hand, such as Colonel Chuyển or the American advisor. The advisor was not a “souvenir” type of person, and himself noted it was unusual that he would keep anything as a memento. Fortunately, he made an exception with regard to the rare insignia of the 1st Animal Pack Company. He was in attendance in 1964 at the ceremony where the company was officially dissolved. He remembers it as the most “emotionally charged” experience during his long army career. Many of the soldiers in the company were in tears as they bid farewell to their horses. The advisor confessed to being somewhat overwhelmed at the sight himself.

Later that night in an officer’s club in Ban Mê Thuột, te advisor was drinking alongside a young Vietnamese lieutenant who was the last executive officer of the very recently dissolved 1st Animal Pack Company. The young lieutenant had only briefly been assigned to the unit before it ceased to exist, and was lamenting what could have been. “I never got to take a photo of me as a cowboy on the horse to send my girlfriend,” the American advisor remembered him saying. At the end of the evening the young lieutenant took out several pieces of newly manufactured insignia for the unit he had been carrying in his breast pocket. “I’ll save my new uniforms for the new badge of whatever unit they send me too,” the lieutenant said. He then gave each one of his companions for the evening a piece of insignia with the group holding one last toast in good luck before each departing. The American advisor kept this insignia. The only memento directly from his time as an advisor in Vietnam which he held onto. “It is such an unexpected story when I talk about it,” the advisor said as he reflected on the legacy of the one and only fully mounted formation of the war. “I thought I better hang onto the patch, just in case I needed it as evidence to prove to anyone that there really were cavalry in the Vietnam War.”

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This article was written by Darwin Andrei Hall, Curator of the Museum of the Republic of Vietnam, Westminster, California.

www.museumrvn.com

www.facebook.com/museumrvn

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This is really great.  Thanks again for all the help.  If anybody is interested, here is the back of the patch.  I can't show it all do to the staples.  

 

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