About The Army Otter-Caribou Association
The ARMY OTTER - CARIBOU ASSOCIATION is a nonprofit Veterans Organization consisting of aircrew members and support personnel who flew or maintained these two magnificent and unique aircraft. Both aircraft were built by DeHaviland of Canada, a company well known for its design and development of short take off and landing,) aircraft for the "Bush" pilots of Alaska and the Yukon Territory.
The Otter and the Caribou were the first fixed wing Army aircraft to be deployed as aviation units to South Vietnam. The year was 1962, three years prior to the use of US ground forces. The mission in those early years was to support our Special Forces personnel who were scattered throughout the Republic of South Vietnam as training advisors to the South Vietnamese Army and Civilian Militias. Our aircraft often provided the sole source of contact, supplies and mail for these brave "Green Berets." In 1999 the General Membership approved allowing those members of the 1st Aviation Company who remained with the company after it lost the Caribous in 1966 and acquired a classified mission utilizing P2V aircraft, to become regular members of the association.
Because of their design, the Otter and Caribou aircraft had the ability to operate from extremely short unimproved landing sites which were not within the capability of US Air Force C-123 and C-130's. The reputation of providing support to what had been previously inaccessible locations continued to spread and the demand continued to grow until by 1966 there were two Otter Companies and six Caribou companies operating in Vietnam.
These units with their highly skilled aviators and crew members provided food, transportation, medical evacuation, fuel and ammunition for US and South Vietnamese ground forces from the Camau Peninsula in the south to the mountains and central highlands in the north. Their call signs of "Reliable, Big Daddy, Dump Truck, Big Moose, Blue Diamond, Muddy, and Hallmark" echoed over the airwaves of Vietnam as they went about their daily business. In all, millions of tons of cargo were hauled and thousands of passengers were transported in the effort to keep South Vietnam free of Communist domination.
While the main emphasis was placed on the Otter and Caribou units in Vietnam, Army Otters were busy with the Coast and Geodetic Survey Teams throughout Central and South America flying aerial photography missions for the mapping of the America's, something which had not been done before. Their slow speed and reliability made the Otter the ideal aircraft to produce detailed accurate photos of the Jungle and mountainous terrain particular to this part of the world. Otters were also stationed in Germany, France and Alaska providing support to our US forces deployed to these far flung regions. The era of the Otter and the Caribou aircraft will surely go down in history as the "heyday" of Army fixed wing aviation. It was an era of pioneer spirit where no task or mission wasn't given a full exerted effort towards accomplishment.
The Army Otter - Caribou Association whose members are now aging senior citizens has a proud heritage and comradeship equaled by few other such organizations. We are like "brothers" and our wives are like "sisters" as we join together each year to visit and relive times gone by. We remember our departed members with a special ceremony and are ever cognizant of the twenty two fellow aviators and crewmen who never had the chance to join because they gave their lives in combat supporting our government's commitment to The Republic of South Vietnam. In 1999 the General Membership approved allowing those members of the 1st Aviation Co who remained with or were assigned to the 1st after it lost the Caribous in 1966, and acquired a classified mission utilizing P2V aircraft, to be become regular members of the association.
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