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Pfc. James V. Hembree, a radioman in a rifle platoon of Troop B, 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile), is getting orders from his troop commander in an OH-13 Sioux observation helicopter on July 28, 1967. Also in the sky above is a UH-1B Huey providing security for the platoon, conducting an assault on Viet Cong and North Vietnamese troops in the An Lao Valley of South Vietnam’s central coastlands during an Operation Pershing search-and-destroy mission. A purple smoke grenade shows helicopters the location of the platoon.

In Vietnam, smoke grenades were used to send signals and provide cover for troop movements. The colored smoke was also available in green, yellow and red. Hembree, of Loogootee, Indiana, was killed on Sept. 6, 1967, in a helicopter crash and explosion. 

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