July 1, 2021
The aeroscouts of the 1st Infantry Division had three words emblazoned on their unit patch: Low Level Hell. It was then and continues today as the perfect concise definition of what these intrepid aviators experienced as they ranged the skies of Vietnam from the Cambodian border to the Iron Triangle. The Outcasts, as they were known, flew low and slow, aerial eyes of the division in search of the enemy. Too often for longevity’s sake they found the Viet Cong and the fight was on. These young pilots (19-22 years old) “invented” the book as they went along.
MEET THE SPEAKER: Hugh L. Mills, Jr. was one of the most decorated pilots during the Vietnam War. During his two tours in Vietnam as an aero scout pilot, Mills flew more than 3,300 combat hours and developed many of the U.S. Army’s standard Air Cavalry aero scout tactics. He was shot down 16 times and wounded three times, earning numerous decorations for valor, including three Silver Stars, the Legion of Merit, four Distinguished Flying Crosses and three Bronze Stars one for valor in ground combat. The government of Vietnam awarded him the Cross of Gallantry with Silver Star and Palm, the Vietnamese Honor Medal First Class and the Civic Action Honor Medal First Class.
Mills, who commanded the Aero Scout Platoon of the 4th Cavalry, was described by Major General A.E. Milloy as “the most courageous small unit leader in the First Infantry Division with the highest kill ratio of any combat unit in the Big Red One.”
Among Mills’ accomplishments are, leading Air Cavalry raids into Laos, Cambodia and North Vietnam; commanding the Army’s first night-attack helicopter unit; and serving as the Army Representative for Counter Narcotics to the Federal Aviation Administration.
Mills co-authored a book about his experiences in Vietnam, “Low Level Hell: A Scout Pilot in the Big Red One.” He retired in 1993 after 26 years as a combat aviator. He is a dual rated Master Army Aviator with over 12,000 hours of flying time.