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Documented Vietnam War SKS Rifle presented to Colonel Kenneth D. Mertel Cambodia 1970


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Documented Vietnam War SKS Rifle presented to Colonel Kenneth D. Mertel in Cambodia May 1, 1970.



1st Battalion Commander of the 1st Battalion (Airborne) 8th Cavalry Regiment
COL Kenneth D. Mertel was a VHPA member who died after his tour in Vietnam on 10/11/2006 at the age of 82.3
Williamsburg, VA
Date of Birth 06/08/1924
Served in the U.S. Army
Served in Vietnam with 145 CAB in 62-63, 1 CAV in 65-66, 11 CAG in 70-71

 - Colonel Kenneth D. Mertel, Infantry, US Army Retired, 82, died at home in
Williamsburg, Virginia on 11 Oct 06. A veteran of 33 years in the US Army, Ken retired in 1975. Upon retirement, he devoted 20
years of public service to the Coast Guard Auxiliary, serving at every level from flotilla to national. He also served one year in
the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1941. Enlisting in the Army in June 42, he graduated from Infantry OCS in 45 as a Second
Lieutenant. Winning a Regular Army Commission in 46, he served two tours as a combat Infantry rifle company commander in
Korea in 1952-53. During three Vietnam tours, Ken commanded both Infantry and Aviation units at battalion, group and brigade
level. Two tours were with the 1st Air Cavalry Division. Ken was a graduate of Mountainburg High School in Arkansas, the
University of Georgia and Boston University. His military education included Ranger, Airborne, Fixed and Rotary Wing courses
as well as the Command and General Staff College and the Army War College. He was awarded a Silver Star, two Distinguished
Flying Crosses, five Legions of Merit, five Bronze Stars, and fifty Air Medals. 


Battalion Commanders of the 1st Bn 8th Cav Reg in Viet Nam (jumpingmustangs.com)




YEAR OF THE HORSE-VIETNAM Kenneth D. Mertel...This book is the day-by-day story of the Jumping Mustangs - 1st Ballalion, Airborne, 8th Cavalry, of the 1st Air Cavalry Division, written by the man who knows them best. 1st Air Cav Lieutenant Colonel Kenneth Mertel. On 1 July 1965, at Fort Benning, Georgia, the 1st Air Cavalry Division was activated to employ newly developed techniques and tactics, providing the utmost in combat effectiveness and flexibility. After telling of the excitement at Benning over the formation of this revolutionary airmobile division, Colonel Mertel gives a vivid picture of the building of his own Jumping Mustang Battalion, the rigorous training of officers and men and, finally, the long voyage across the Pacific to Vietnam. Now the test. Would the new concept of airmobility, so painstakingly worked out stateside, produce the hoped-for results? The answer came quickly and dramatically in a rapid succession of search and destroy operations. Ia Drang . . . An Khe South . . . Plei Mei . . . the Cambodian border . . . Bong Son . . . Tarzan . . . In precipitous mountains, dense jungles, mud and water-filled rice paddles and expanses of view-obstructing elephant grass, the Jumping Mustangs sought out the enemy, engaging him in combat and stopping him in his tracks. Airmobility more than passed the test. Colonel Mertel pays tribute to the many acts of heroism of his men, who lived, worked and fought together in some of the world's most inhospitable conditions. He also writes movingly of those who never came back. In 1967 the President, at a White House ceremony, recognized the Division's success and valor by awarding it the Presidential Unit Citation for the action at Plei Mei. According to the Chines calendar,1966 was the "Year of the Horse." It was the "Year of the Horse" for the Jumping Mustangs in Vietnam. 

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Col. Mertel SKS (6).jpg


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Warpath, thank you for these posts here and on the edged weapons forum.  Out of curiosity, do the markings on the SKS show Chinese, Russian, or possibly North Vietnam, or another satellite country of manufacture?

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Based in that bayonet, my understanding is that would be a a Chinese SKS. 

That really is a fascinating piece of history. Great presentation. 

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Really nice. I exchanged emails with him years ago because my uncle was KIA when he was the brigade XO of the unit. He was also very active in the Jumping Mustangs association.

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