The Big Picture Over 10% of all combat and combat support deaths in Vietnam occurred in helicopter operations, a total of 6,175 (2,202 pilots, 2,704 aircrew and 1,269 passengers). The records of the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association (VHPA) reveal that of the 2,202 pilots killed in the war, 1,882 (86%) were U.S. Army and that over two-thirds of that number died while serving in an Assault Helicopter Company or an Air Cavalry Troop. VHPA records also reveal that although casualty rates varied greatly between units, average casualty rates for AHC’s and ACT’s were roughly equal, a statistic often masked by the more glamorized histories of certain air cavalry units.
In addition to the human cost of the helicopter war in Vietnam, the helicopter casualties of that war were staggering by today’s standards. A total of 11,800 helicopters of all types served in Vietnam. Approximately 5,000 helicopters were destroyed there, of which all but 500 were U.S. Army. Of these, roughly 3,000 were Hueys of all types, 1,100 were Scouts of all types and 300 were Cobras. The vast majority of these were lost while operating in an Assault Helicopter Company or an Air Cavalry Troop.