The origins of Avel Central begin with the 335th Signal Detachment. The unit was originally formed on 1 January 1966. Information on Avel is fragmented at best. Thankfully, several Avel veterans have supplied us with some useful information.
Harry Lance was one of the first Avel troops. He was a Warrant Officer with the 335th Signal Detachment, later Avel Central. He supplied the following information about the beginning of Avel Central.
Hello Jack: The first picture on the Avel Central 1967 page shows me wearing the 335th Signal Detachment and red hat. I think we were the only ones to wear a red hat in early 1967. Rumors were that both were not official or sanctioned by the Army. At the time we were at Phu loi and attached to the 539th Transportation Company.
My first job after my arrival was Detachment 2 commander and I was detached from the 539th and sent to Cu Chi for that. The 2nd Detachment was tasked to support forward maintenance for the 25th Infantry aviation assets. The enlisted troops were drawn from the 539th, 20th and 605th Transportation Companies. I was attached for rations and quarters to the 20th. I held this position till Oct. 1967 when I was then sent to Di An to build up Dettachment 3.
This detachment was formed to give forward avionics support to the 2/17th Cav. which was still in the states. Most of the 3/17th arrived before Christmas and were busy assembling their OH-6 choppers and working the kinks out of them. The aircraft maintenance company there was F Troop and Detachment 3 Avel was the avionics section. All of this time I remained on the morning report of the 539th at Phu Loi and my immediate boss was Maj. Hartman at Phu Loi. Rations and quarters for myself and Plt. Sgt. were obtained from 1st S&T Battalion, 1st Infantry Division. My troops were housed in their very own GP Medium tent located on the Detachment 3 real estate.
It was in late 1967, around November I think that I found that we were re-designated as 3rd Platoon, Avel Central and that I was the Platoon Leader. All of my troops were drawn from Phu Loi and Cu Chi. As Detachment 3 grew and became operational we had around 20 military and 4 civilians. We had many problems obtaining test equipment, supplies and tools to do our job. I sorely needed a Platoon Sergeant and none were available. I convinced Maj. Hartman to give me a Spec 5 that he had no use for. His MOS was radar operator on a Mohawk but had lost his flying status due to an injured knee. He knew nothing about avionics maintenance and HarTman had no idea why he had been assigned to Phu Loi. I Had him promoted to a hard strip E-6 and essentially used him as a 1st Sergeant while I scoured the country for equipment to do our job. This entailed much shady dealings, horse trading and outright stealing so S/Sgt Roswell pretty much ran the troops on a day to day basis while I rounded up equipment from where ever I could find it. 1st Platoon at Phu Loi was the back up support for whatever we couldn't handle.
In early February of 1968 we packed up the whole 3rd Platoon and were deployed to Tay Ninh since that is where the 3/17 had been assigned after being made combat ready. This entailed moving over road to Long Binh and joining a convoy to Tay Ninh. Tet was in full swing at the time and it was over 80 miles from Long Binh to Tay Ninh. The convoy was hit a few times but Avel got thru with no casualties. Some of us had a few extra button holes in our shorts though. The move took a total of 5 days from Dian to Tay Ninh. At around 1:30 am the Vietnamese sappers blew up the ammo dump at Long Binh which delayed us a bit.
After Avel Central was formed it consisted of 3 platoons located in three different locations. 1st Platoon was at Phu Loi, 2nd Platoon was at Cu Chi and 3rd Platoon was located at Bien Hoa. 1st Platoon at Phu Loi was billeted with the 605th Transportation Company.
Avel Central finally consolidated at Phu Loi in 1970. There is a short history of Phu Loi on this site.
1967 - 1968: Major Glover
1968 - 1968: Major Barber
1969 - 1970: Major Paul F. Burke
1970 - 1971: Major Roger D. Shiley
1971 - 1972: Major Joseph Matos