Vol 1 No. 22 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS July 29, 1966
|Unit Page||Unit Page||Unit Page||Unit Page|
|1/5 6||2/9 Arty Photo 1||25th Inf Div 8||4/23 1|
|1/27 Photo 1||2/14 Photo 1||25th S&T Bn 3||40th Med Det 1|
|1/27 Photo 3||2/27 3||25th S&T Photo 3||725th Maint 3|
|1/27 6||2/27 7||3/4 Cav 6||Cu Chi Attack 1|
|1/27 8||25th Band 7||3/13 Arty 1||Cu Chi PX Photos 4|
|1/27 8||25th DivArty 6||3/13 Arty Photo 1||GI Bill 2|
|2nd Bde 3||25th Inf Div 8||4/23 1||Viet Cong 2|
|2/9 Arty 1|
[The 1966 Vietnam issues of Tropic Lightning News were published in Saigon, and are of lower quality than later years that were printed in Japan. Over the years the photographs and text have faded and it has been difficult to reproduce them. Even when the photos are unclear, I have been included them to give a sense of the activities in the Division.]
3 Units Change Command
Lt. Col. Nicholas At 3/13th Artillery
Lt. Col. Billy B. Nicholas of Little Rock, Ark., assumed command of 3rd Bn., 13th Arty., last week during ceremonies in the battalion area. He succeeds Lt. Col. Aaron E. Walker of Allen, Okla., who has become Div. Arty. executive officer.
Once the battalion colors had been passed, Col. Nicholas, formerly director of the Division Fire Support Element, spoke to the men.
"On assuming command, I have a feeling of honor, pride and humility," he said. "Honor for being selected to lead such a fine unit, pride for becoming a member of 'The Clan,' and humility because I have seen this battalion perform in an outstanding manner under Col. Walker."
Col. Nicholas is a 1957 graduate of Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree.
Lt. Col. Holbrook At 2/9th Artillery
Lt. Col. Bruce Holbrook has assumed command of` 2nd Bn., 9th Arty., in recent change-of-command ceremonies.
The men of the artillery battalion, supporting the 3rd Brigade Task Force, stood in formation as the outgoing commander, Lt. Col. Saul A. Jackson, presented the battalion colors to Col. Holbrook.
Col. Jackson had commanded the artillery battalion since August 1965. He is now assigned to the G-3 section of I Field Force, Vietnam, in Nha Trang.
Col. Holbrook previously worked with the Department of the Army Military Personnel Management Team, Western Area, at the Presidio of San Francisco.
|Lt. Col. Billy B. Nickolas holds colors of 3/13th Arty. after assuming command of the unit at Cu Chi. (Photo by Williams)|
|Lt. Col. Saul A. Jackson (left), hands the colors of 2nd Bn., 9th Arty., to Lt. Col. Bruce Holbrook at 3rd Bde. (Photo by Sutphin)|
|GOLDEN DRAGON CO - Lt. Col. William E. Davis has assumed command of 2nd Bn., 14th Inf., in ceremonies at Cu Chi. Here, his predecessor, Lt. Col. John M. Schultz, and Battalion Sgt. Maj. Jerame J. Szafranski pins on the "Golden Dragon" crest, marking Col. Davis' assumption of command. The 38-year-old Col. Davis had formerly been division logistics and supply (G-4) officer. Col. Schultz has been assigned to Headquarters, II Field Force, Vietnam. (Photo by Pardue)|
40th Med. Det. Dentists Arrive
A new group of dental workers has been assigned to the 40th Medical Detachment at Cu Chi in an effort to challenge another enemy - tooth decay.
The detachment has set up shop in two general purpose tent kits, with plans for a three-quonset clinic on the agenda in the next two months.
The 40th Med. Det. Was activated last February at Fort Hood, Tex., and participated in the training exercise Operation "Desert Strike" before his arrival at Vung Tau on May 6.
Commanded by Lt. Col. George Kuttas of Cornwall, N.Y., the 16 officers and 20 enlisted men of the detachment can handle 12 patients at a time in their clinic at the medical battalion.
They conduct an average of 45 examinations a day and have the capability for more than 80 regular appointments daily.
Col. Kuttas explained that once the quonsets are built the unit will replace its field dental gear with permanent, high-speed equipment and will be able to perform almost every type of dental work available.
With more than $100,000 worth of equipment, the clinic can solve dental problems ranging from a simple toothache to building prosthetic appliances.
'Tomahawks' Return From
1st Inf. Job
Giant Air Force C-130s took off from Bien Hoa Air Base last week and, five hours later, had completed air lifting the 4th Bn., 23rd Inf., 40 miles away.
The massive air lift came after the "Tomahawks" had spent more than a month in the area around Bien Hoa in support of the 1st Inf. Div.
Five C-130s shuttled the battalion, its equipment and support artillery from 7th Bn., 11th Arty., to their new area of operations.
The C-130s, with a capacity of 30,000 pounds, ferried more than 500 people, 100,000 pounds of ammunition, vehicles, rations and fortification materials in 10 sorties. Two sorties were flown by a smaller C-123.
The lift and the two automatic resupply missions were completed in the morning. Perimeters, command post aid communications were established by evening, and the Viet Cong were on the run a few hours later.
Viet Cong Mortar Div. Base
The division's Cu Chi base camp was hit by two Viet Cong mortar attacks within ten hours of each other on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The first attack began at about 7:22 p.m., Tuesday, and lasted about 90 minutes. The second attack came at 5:03 a.m., Wednesday, and lasted approximately 35 minutes.
Reports showed that 82mm mortars and 75mm recoilless rifles were fired into the base camp.
Division gunships and counter-mortar artillery were firing at VC positions. within minutes after each attack.
Division Helps 1000th Cong Meet Maker
Division soldiers operating out of the Cu Chi base camp scored their 1000th Viet Cong killed during a noon-time battle last week.
SFC Robert S. Tucker of Moscow, Pa., weapons squad leader in Company A, 4th Bn., 23rd Inf., made the kill.
Sgt. Tucker, along with his platoon, was pinned down by heavy Viet Cong automatic weapons fire during a break for lunch. Co. A was providing security for an Army, Republic of Vietnam, (ARVN) Regional Force that was building bunkers and reinforcing security positions around a village northeast of Saigon.
Everything was quiet when Capt. Michael D. Iascco, company commander, stopped the men for lunch. The first and second platoons settled down to a meal of C-rations on the outskirts of the village, while the third platoon moved in and began to eat.
Can openers had just started to cut through C-rations when the firing broke out. Sgt. Tucker's platoon was pinned down by heavy fire from the village, while the remainder of Co. A fought off an attack outside the small hamlet.
In the midst of the 15-minute battle, which was raging in a heavy rainstorm, Sgt. Tucker yelled, "There go three of them into that hooth." He opened up with his M-I6 rifle and later found two bodies near the dwelling.
Meanwhile, artillery was called into the area, catching the VC between heavy fire from Co. A and exploding 105mm howitzer shells being "walked" into the village perimeter.
Two more bodies were found when the company moved into the village after the retreating VC.
Tucker was later informed that his kill was the 1000th recorded by division elements at Cu Chi.
|"Wolfhounds!," called Gen. W. C. Westmoreland, commander, Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, as he finished congratulating men of the 1st Bn., 27th Inf., on their successful operations against the Viet Cong, prompting a loud cheer from the infantrymen. (Photo by Pardue)|
Page 2 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS July 29, 1966
|BRONZE STAR MEDAL (With 'V' Device)|
PFC James F. Barber, Co. A, 2/14th Inf.
2nd Lt. Thomas P. Byrne, Co. A, 2/14th Inf.
2nd Lt. Dale R. Crafton, Co. B, 2/14th Inf.
Sgt. Thomas L. Davis, Co. B, 2/14th Inf.
SSgt. Luis Falu-Pesante, Co. B, 2/14th Inf.
MSgt. Samuel 0. Holbrook III, Co. B, 2/14th Inf.
Sgt. James W. Hurst, Co. B, 2/14th Inf.
SFC Herbert Maria, Co. B, 2/14th Inf.
Sp4 Ronald J. McCullough, Co. A, 2/14th Inf.
2nd Lt. Michael R. Rapuano, Co. B, 2/14th Inf.
PFC Charles H. Spinelli, Co. B., 2/14th Inf.
WO William V. Carroll, D Trp., 3/4 Cav.
SSgt. Lance L. Christensen, HHB, 25th Div. Arty.
Lt. Col. William E. Davis, HHC, 25th Inf. Div.
WO John D. Dismer, D Trp., 3/4 Cav.
SSgt. James M. Irby, HHC, 1/5th Inf.
Maj. Ricardo C. Saria, HHC, 1/27th Inf.
ARMY COMMENDATION MEDAL
Sp4 Ronald S. Barber, HHC, 1/27th Inf.
SSgt. Paul R. Coleman, 25th Admin. Co.
Sp5 Raymond Y. Kozuma, HHC, 2/27th Inf.
Sp5 Grady O. McDade, HHC, 2/27th Inf.
SSgt. Edward J. S. Parent, HHC, 2nd Bde.
SFC Alexander Sakl, HQ & Co. A, 725th Maint. Bn.
Sp4 Billy R. Skinner, HHC, 2/27th Inf.
SFC Walter T. Takemoto, HHC, 125th Sig. Bn.
SFC Arthur J. Wahner, HHC, 2nd Bde.
Sgt. James J. Welsh. HHC, 4/9th Inf.
VC Plans Well Laid
It has been said that the Viet Cong soldier probably is told the reason for everything that he does more frequently and in greater detail than any other soldier in the world. Almost certainly he is required to explain the reasons for his actions more than any other soldier. Every proposed action is discussed from all angles before it is taken - and by everyone concerned except the targets and the innocent bystanders.
Concerning the bystanders, one Viet Cong commented on the bombing of the U. S. Embassy. "If a few people get killed from a blast it is a risk of the war . . . The Front (National Liberation Front) is the benefactor of all the people."
Captain Lam, a "hard-core" Viet Cong, described what happens after action against a Vietnamese outpost is recommended, showing the almost incredible effort to make sure that everyone "gets the word" and performs his assigned duties.
"After studying the proposal, I report it to the head of the Provincial Military Affairs Committee. He then studies it from all points of view, considering especially the political effects, and the relative capabilities of our forces and those of the RVNAF (Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces). If he approves of the proposed operation he presents it to the secretary of the Provincial Committee of the Party. The secretary studies it and if he thinks it sound he calls a meeting of the whole Party Committee to study, discuss and perhaps approve the proposal.
"Once the proposal is approved by the Party Committee, the Military Affairs Committee divides the preliminary tasks among its three staffs.
"The Military Staff sends a reconnaissance unit to study the objective from a military point of view, and to prepare a sand table mock-up.
"The Political Staff sends a cadre to contact the civilians in the area, to learn their reaction to the (proposed) attack. It also studies the morale of the troops to see if they are mentally and emotionally prepared. If they are not, the political staff must take the necessary measures to prepare them.
"The Rear Services Staff (logistics) finds out if the civilians can furnish the necessary food and labor, including that needed for removal of the dead and any booty.
"When all this is done, the Military Affairs Committee holds another meeting. This will be attended by the leaders of all the units that will be involved in the attack.
"If the majority of the committee believes that the attack should be made, they report to another meeting of the Provincial Party Committee, which again reviews the proposed problem and the solution and perhaps directs some additional action. The Party Committee will approve the attack only if all conditions - political, military and logistic - appear favorable.
"After this is accomplished all units begin practicing for the attack, either on a sand table or an actual stake-and-string replica of the target.
"This practice will take from five days to a month, depending on the difficulty of the target, until every man knows just what he is supposed to do, how he is supposed to do it, and when. Every detail of the action will be planned out, including when and where the main force units will meet the local force and militia units.
"The militia are always necessary to guide the troops and to provide laborers to carry supplies, to carry off the booty and our dead, if any. We always try to carry away all our dead, to give them proper burial, which will comfort their families and strengthen the morale of the rest."
GI Bill Opens Doors
There's a new law on the books that provides qualified, present-day servicemen and veterans with a "golden key" to the future. This particular "key" unlocks many doors.
It opens new avenues of educational assistance and medical care, and permits the purchase of a home or farm.
It is the same "key" that helped millions of servicemen and veterans of World War II and the Korean conflict.
Specifically, it is called the Cold War GI Benefits Program, but to the U.S. Congress, which enacted it into law, it is Public Law 89-458 - the Veterans' Readjustment Benefits Act of 1966. The Act was signed into law by President Johnson on March 3, 1966.
Some four million veterans who have served during the past nine years and nearly three million men and women now on active duty are or will be eligible for the benefits provided under this Cold War GI Bill, along with 600,000 additional veterans who will be returning to civilian life each year.
Referring to veterans of World War II and Korea (who had similar benefits), President Johnson said they returned home to find "not just gratitude, but concrete help in getting a fresh start with educational assistance, with medical care, with guarantees that permitted them to buy homes to live in."
In a nutshell the new act expresses the nation's appreciation for your service and assures you the opportunity for a higher education if you choose, and home or farm ownership if you aspire to it. There are also provisions outlining Federal employment benefits as it concerns veterans as well as conditions under which medical aid can be obtained through the Veterans Administration.
So, the golden keys is yours. Whether you take advantage of the Act, either on active duty or in civilian life, is, of course, your choice. It's worth discussing with your personal affairs officer. (AFNB)
New Drug To Attack Malaria
Army medical researchers say a new anti-malaria drug now being authorized for U.S. troops in Vietnam can cut in half the number of men stricken by the disease.
Recent field tests conducted here by the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) show that DDS (diaminodiphenylsulone), a drug long used in treating leprosy, will combat a severe form of malaria which has resisted usual treatment.
Troops will be given one 25 milligram pill each day and will continue to take the pills for one month after leaving Southeast Asia.
Soldiers receiving the drug who still contract malaria should now be able to return to duty in two or three weeks, instead of six to eight weeks as before. Chances of a relapse, according to WRAIR, are expected to be cut from 40 per cent to four per cent.
In 1965, malaria caused a loss of 63,035 man days from duty in Vietnam.
The Army Malaria Research Program of WRAIR conducted its tests from December 1965 until May 1966. More than 100 university teams, private firms and military research units have been brought together for the malaria research program at WRAIR in Washington and in the field. (ANF)
|The TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS is an
authorized publication of the 25th Infantry Division. It is published
weekly for all division units in the Republic of Vietnam by the
Information Office, 25th Infantry Division, APO U.S. Forces 96225. Army
News Features, Army Photo Features and Armed Forces Press Service material
are used. Views and opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the
Department of the Army. Printed in Saigon, Vietnam, by Saigon Daily
Maj. Gen. Fred C. Weyand . . . . Commanding General
Maj. William C. Shepard . . . . . . Information Officer
1st Lt. William H. Seely III . . . . Officer-in-Charge
Sp5 Dale P. Kemery . . . . . . . . . Editor
Sp4 David L. Kleinberg . . . . . . Editorial Assistant
Page 3 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS July 29, 1966
Tower Assists Bunker Watch
A 50-foot observation tower recently constructed at Cu Chi has become the division's "distant early warning line."
The tower, equipped with telescope and 50-cal. machine gun, was originally, constructed to assist bunker observation teams in detecting and checking enemy movement.
Now it is an all-purpose watch tower, poking its nose high above the weeds and trees which obscure the vision of bunker observers.
Before the tower's construction, the enemy could have approached within grenade-throwing range of the perimeter before being detected. Now, with the use of telescopes, it is almost impossible for anyone to advance within 1,000 feet of the base camp wire.
The tower is also equipped with a radio and three telephones. Upon sighting the enemy, the observer in the tower alerts the bunker crews, the company commander, mortar teams and supporting artillery. Appropriate defensive action is then taken.
The tower also acts as a "guardian angel" for the night patrols that go out to intercept the Viet Cong. Again with the use of the telescope, the observer can keep the patrol under constant surveillance.
Thanks to the success of this first tower, a second has been constructed and more are on the way.
School Re-Opens At So Do
Not long ago the reconnaissance platoon of the 2nd Bn., 27th Inf., was assigned the task of securing the small hamlet of So Do and assisting the local forces in setting up an outpost.
Upon reaching its destination, the recon platoon found the hamlet had no leaders. The villagers said the elected officials had been killed by the Viet Cong and free elections had been stopped.
SFC William E. Joiner of Columbus, Ga., said the local school mistress told him the Viet Cong closed the school. She requested assistance in the form of school supplies.
That was all the recon platoon needed.
They quickly obtained the school supplies from the division's "Helping Hand" Operations Center and delivered them to the hamlet.
Since the arrival of the recon platoon, the villagers have elected leaders to run the hamlet. In appreciation of the platoon's efforts, the villagers have named the outpost "Viria" after Sgt. Joiner's wife.
They are also thinking about changing the name of the hamlet from So Do to So Do Recon.
Col. Johnson, Col. Kirkbride Tour Cu Chi
Col. Max J. Kirkbride, Army deputy civil affairs officer (J-5), visited the division base camp recently for a 25-minute briefing on current operations. Accompanying him was Col. Lynwood M. Johnson, chief, Vietnam division, J-5, and former commander of 2nd Brigade. The visitors later toured the artillery fire support element and the tactical operations center.
MOS 'Freeze' Hits Cu Chi
Somewhere in the depths of the Pentagon a discussion could be going on about three men assigned to the 25th Sup. And Trans. Bn.
"We've got to classify them under the MOS code," one man might say, "but we can't find an MOS to match the job - especially in a combat zone."
"How about, 'temperature control and morale-building specialist' for a name?" asked another Pentagon mind, as he tried the Madison Avenue technique of brainstorming.
"No," replied another, "I think internal organs coolant supply specialist' is the right name."
But the "problem" never will reach a solution in Washington.
The real answer lies with Sp4 Francis Kempton of Walla Walla, Wash.; Sp4 George Robertson of Dallas; and PFC Raymond Gurule of Albuquerque, N.M. Ask them what their job is and without patting a dictionary, they all say "ice cream maker."
Under the Supervision of SFC Bernardo Benigno of Honolulu, who runs the Class I storage yard (ration) for the division, the men are the first to be assigned to the new "Tropic Lightning" Ice Cream Plant.
With three machines going full blast all day long, they manufacture and pack enough ice cream to supply every division mess hall with the sought-after dessert twice a week.
"It sure beats the heat of a mess hall kitchen," said Kempton, a former first cook, as he dumped a can of shelled black walnuts into the churning mixer.
The spotless plant turns out 360 gallons of chocolate, vanilla, coffee, tutti frutti or black walnut ice cream daily. Made in 2 1/2-gallon batches, the freezy skid stuff is packed and stored until issued on Wednesdays and Sundays.
"I never figured on this type of job in Vietnam," said Roberson, another former cook, "and I still haven't figured out how to tell the people back home about it. They'll never believe it." He remarked, shaking his head.
|WAR IS...SWEET? - PFC Raymond Gurule, (third from left), issues ice cream made in the "Tropic Lightning" Ice Cream Plant to men from 25th Avn. Bn. Taking the cool dessert back to the battalion ration breakdown are Sp4 Jack Nolan (l.) and Sp5 Ronald Rois. Assisting with the distribution is PFC Vernon Swader. (Photo by Pardue)|
Polio No Handicap To Australian Girl
Mary Guy, a 24-year-old Australian from Moonah, Tasmania, is interested in shellcraft, coin collecting, reading, music and letterwriting.
Only writing a letter is a little more difficult for her than for the average person.
Miss Guy, a polio paraplegic, who is paralyzed from her neck down, writes letters by holding a pen between her teeth. She has written letters to members of the division and would like to write more.
Her first letter to the division came in response to a request by CWO Franklin H. Brown of Mullins, S.C., and the 725th Maint. Bn. He had written to a Hawaiian newspaper, and asked that it print a request that letters be sent to the men of his Unit.
The request was passed by a pen pal to Miss Guy, who promptly responded.
Miss Guy says she enjoys writing and would like to receive letters from Americans in Vietnam who are anxious to hear from people at home. Postage to Australia is 15 cents.
In her letter, Miss Guy apologized for not writing as an American citizen to the soldiers here. Certainly, she needs no apology.
Her full address is Miss Mary Guy, 125 Deswent Park Road, Moonah, Tasmania, Australia.
Col. J. K. Terry Visits Cu Chi
Col. James K. Terry, of the U.S. Army Combat Development Command, Combined Arms Group, recently visited Cu Chi to discuss doctrinal matters, coordinate collection of operational data and visit division maneuver battalions.
After spending 40 minutes with Division Commander Maj. Gen. Fred C. Weyand and Col. Thomas W. Mellen, division chief of staff, Col. Terry was flown to join elements of 2nd Bde.
In the field Col. Terry saw combat procedures first hand and was briefed on the role that the brigade had played since its arrival in Vietnam.
|UP IN SMOKE - Members of Co. A, 1st. Bn., 27th Inf., burn a building while sweeping an area 25 miles southwest of Cu Chi last week. (Photo by Earl)|
Page 4 - 5 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS July 29, 1966
A Long Wait in the Long Green Line
|As though they were waiting for the last tickets to the World Series, more than 100 division soldiers line up for the opening of the air-conditioned Cu Chi Post Exchange. The first man in the "Long Green Line" arrived more than two hours before the scheduled 10 a.m. opening.|
Gen. Weyand Says 'Come In' -- P.X. Opens
By Sgt. Mike Hirsh
With $50,000 worth of merchandise on the shelves and in storerooms, Division Commander Major General Fred C. Weyand said, "C'mon in, fellas," and the Cu Chi Post Exchange officially opened.
First to enter the air conditioned shoppers' paradise was SSgt. Donald Jorgensen of Council Bluffs, Iowa. The soldier from Co. B, 65th Engr. Bn., had arrived more than two hours before the 10 a. m. opening.
Before the soldiers entered, Gen. Weyand cut the grand opening ribbon. Then he was taken on a shopping tour guided by Maj. Virgil K. Barnes of Fayetteville, N.C., the division PX officer.
The first soldier to reach one of the three checkout lines was Sgt. Maj. Heartsill Wise of Clarksville, Ark., from 125th Sig. Bn.
The more than 100 soldiers outside when the doors opened entered the store in groups of 20 to prevent crowding.
However, once inside, most of the men made a bee-line for the counter laden with cameras, radios and jewelry.
Nearly all items available at the main exchange in Saigon can be purchased at the division PX, including such major appliances as refrigerators and televisions, as well as toilet articles, food and film.
Although there are no special-order facilities, items not available in the PX may be mail-ordered from the Japan-Korea Region Pacific Exchange. Catalogs and order blanks are available at a special counter near the rear of the exchange. The 400-page division pictorial review book, "The 25th's 25th... in Combat," may also be ordered there.
At present, personal checks are not accepted, although Maj. Barnes said that eventually a check-cashing facility will be available. Thirty-two enlisted men, the major and 2nd Lt. Norman Saliman of Denver, Colo., assistant PX officer, handle the sales. Civilian personnel from the Saigon exchange pitched in to help with the grand opening.
Although the new facility is resupplied by daily convoy from Saigon, Maj. Barnes said, "We'll be doing our best to keep the shelves stocked, but with the build-up of personnel in the area, many items are still in short supply. For example, he added, "there isn't a tape recorder to be had in Vietnam."
Cu Chi Post Exchange hours are 10 a.m., to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday.
Photos by Williams and Finklea-Martinez
|FIRST PURCHASE - PFC Oleh Babski of New York City rings up the first sale at the new exchange to Maj. Gen. Fred C. Weyand, division commander. Maj. Virgil Barnes, the division PX officer, looks on.|
|SHOPPING - For the first time since the division arrived in Vietnam, PX shelves are fully stocked. An unidentified soldier does his shopping.|
|PX TALK - Maj. Virgil K. Barnes, division PX officer (left), talks with Lt. John A. Heintges, MACV deputy commander, and Brig. Gen. Edward H. deSaussure Jr., assistant division commander.|
|The display of watches and cameras attracted most of the customers at the official opening. Most cameras were sold out before mid-afternoon. Here, PX clerks check ID and ration cards.|
|CHECK - Second Lt. Norman Saliman of Denver, assistant PX officer, checks one of the cash registers before the official opening.|
Page 6 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS July 29, 1966
1/5th Inf. Finds Way To Beat V.C.
In this strange war, it is difficult to find a just way of measuring success. Counting enemy losses is not always possible, and although a list of captured supplies is impressive, it in itself does not always reflect the tide of battle.
The 1st Bn. (Mech.), 5th Inf., however, has found an unorthodox but new way of measuring success - by proving you don't have to kill VC to beat them.
In a complex of four hamlets just south of Cu Chi, the 1/5th is conducting an extensive area pacification program, and meeting with success at every turn.
Classes on voting, never attended before, are now filled to capacity; more children than ever are attending school regularly and now hardly a day passes when someone doesn't freely offer information on Viet Cong activities in the area.
How did it happen? What is the secret? It lies in what Capt. Louis Edwards, the battalion civil affairs officer, calls his Operation "Getting to Know You."
When pacification began in July, the villagers were cool at best. They neither knew the Americans, nor why they were there, nor what they would do now that they had arrived.
Capt. Edwards had a long talk with the village chief, and then made the first of many trips through the village. He talked with the farmers about their crops and livestock; he played with the children, and admired the water buffalo.
He also explained why the Americans had come. He made it clear that they wanted to help, and said if there was anything the 1/5th could do, he would appreciate knowing about it.
The battalion medics conducted regular sick calls in the village, and clothing needed by the people was passed out through the village chief. The visits to the farmers continued and slowly little bits of information began to come in. "So many VC had been seen here. So many were known to sleep there."
Every piece of information was checked but most resulted in little or no contact. The 1/5th was becoming discouraged.
Then word came from the capital of Gia Dinh Province that two Viet Cong had turned themselves in to the "Chieu Hoi" (open arms) center. They had come from the 1/5th's area and had decided to give themselves up because things were "just too hot." The Americans, they said, were everywhere.
A few days later, two more VC, finding the area too hot, gave up. One was reported to be the Viet Cong's number one sniper. He brought his rifle with him.
The longer the Americans stayed, the more secure the villagers felt, and with security came more and more information. One tip led the Americans on a strike against a VC tunnel complex. In the attack, the Viet Cong chief of the area and one of his squad leaders were killed.
On another operation, two VC were captured. One was a 16-year-old propaganda specialist sent by the Viet Cong from Saigon to try to win back the hamlets they knew to be slipping from their control.
Capt. Edwards now looks to the future. He has begun English classes for the children and collected scrap lumber from the division's 2nd Bde. for the people to use as fire wood. Soon the medics will begin a series of first-aid classes for the girls.
In addition, the villagers were given 180 hogs by the Vietnamese government. Capt. Edwards is also investigating the possibility of getting some agricultural advice on improving the peanut crop.
"These are hard working people," says Capt. Edwards. "They are not satisfied with what they have. Every time I talk to one of them the dominant theme is their desire to improve.
"We have two jobs in this war: to fight and to help. We have to do both to win," he concluded.
|ERSATZ VILLAGE - Phao Binh villagers complete thatching another roof in community self-help project. Several months of work have converted a former Viet Cong stronghold into this comfortable and sanitary "American town." (Photo by Hawkins)|
The Perfect Village
To hear Maj. Glen. W. Emery, Div. Arty. civil affairs officer, tell it, the formula for success in Vietnam is: take some willing villagers and mix well with U.S. help. And he has the village of Phao Binh to back him.
When Maj. Emery first met the villagers he found them friendly and interested in improving what they had. The village chief said that he and his people would "totally support the United States and the Republic of Vietnam."
The civil affairs officer noted that Phao Binh is different from most in Vietnam; it is completely independent and self-supporting. Since the division's arrival, the villagers have thatched all their homes and set up recreational programs and local industry.
A self-defense militia has been organized to repel Viet Cong attacks. Under the guidance of the village chief, three permanent buildings have been built and plans have been made for two more large structures. Electricity is now available so the villagers can work at night and also take in the local movie.
The self-help program is flourishing. The village people have dug their own well, which services more than 1200 people.
Health and sanitation are rated as "outstanding." Capt. James D. Kimball, the division's MEDCAP officer, reports that fly-proof latrine facilities, showers, sumps and a community kitchen have been constructed. A rodent and insect-control program is underway while virtually all common diseases have been eliminated.
Drainage in the area was initially very poor. Village labor forces combined with division engineers to set up an efficient drainage system.
A division-launched English program was well received by the villagers and practically the entire population now has command of the language. Adult education classes are now in effect, in hopes of bringing about further technological advancements.
The village has its own dispensary with a doctor and a well qualified staff. The dispensary can be identified by the hong tap tu (red cross flag) flying by its front door.
Where is Phao Binh village? Who is the village chief? The village is located within the division's base camp. It is more often called HQ, 25th Div Arty. The village chief is Col. Daniel B. Williams. Incidentally, Phao Binh village translated to English means "artillery village."
25th Rushes to Aid ARVN
Quick reaction by division elements last week is credited with staving off a Viet Cong attack on the Popular Forces outpost at Phuoc Hiep, a small village four miles from Cu Chi.
When a VC company attacked the outpost, the handful of defenders went into action, immediately calling for artillery and armed helicopters from the division.
In addition to the requested support, two mechanized platoons of the 3rd Sqdn. 4th Cav., were dispatched to aid the beleaguered outpost.
By the time, they arrived, however, the artillery and gunships had done the damage. The VC broke contact, dragging with them most of their dead and wounded.
Two bodies were found by the 3/4 Cav., although the Vietnamese garrison soldiers reported killing 16. In addition, nearly 30 expended recoilless rifle rounds were found, along with five unexpended rounds.
An assessment made at the scene by U.S. infantrymen indicated that sandbag fortifications donated by the Division Civil Affairs Office may have saved Phuoc Hiep from being overrun.
Popular Forces casualties were light.
Wolfhounds Boast Top Recon Platoon
A reconnaissance platoon is essential to any infantry unit, but a good one can often be the unit's very backbone.
The reconnaissance platoon of the 1st Bn., 27th Inf., part of Hq. & Hq. Co., is the security unit for the tactical operations center during field problems. A reactionary force for nine nightly ambushes in the field, the platoon also conducts regular base perimeter sweeps.
During an operation last week, the "recons" were credited with killing two of the 14 Viet Cong hunted down by the "Wolfhounds," capturing three others.
In past operations, the platoon has continually lived up to its traditions by staging effective ambushes, supporting other units and supplying road security.
One of the unique aspects of the "Wolfhound Recons" is their "armored fleet," which has proved highly effective on mobile operations.
PSgt. Bobby L. Sturgeon of Connersville, Ind., said the vehicles were armored in the staging area upon arrival to Vietnam.
"They are highly effective against sniper fire, especially on road security," he added.
ARMS Found In Ho Bo Woods
Mechanized infantrymen on reconnaissance missions west of the Ho Bo Woods recently uncovered large quantities of enemy arms and ammunition.
It was in the same area where outnumbered "Tropic Lighting" infantrymen were hit last week during a five-hour battle with a Viet Cong main force company, resulting initially in 51 enemy dead. The latest action uncovered four more bodies, bringing the total to 55.
A search of tunnels and bunkers in the area netted three 105 rounds, 11 155mm rounds, eight hand grenades, 18 rifle grenades, 27 anti-tank mines, 22 butterfly bombs, three Claymore mines, three 81mm mortar rounds and two 250-pound bombs.
Also captured were 11 rifles, 5000 rounds of arms ammunition, miscellaneous web gear, uniforms and several documents.
Page 7 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS July 29, 1966
2/27 Empties Cong Cupboard
The next time old mother Cong goes to the cupboard, the cupboard will be bare, thanks to the 2nd Bn., 27th Inf.
Elements of Co. C, operating northwest of the division's base camp recently uncovered a Viet Cong weapons factory and repair depot in a camouflaged five-house complex.
The treasure hunt also yielded more than 1240 rounds of ammunition, large amounts of explosives, several artillery rounds, field gear and almost a complete set of carpenter's tools.
Among the array of articles were brushes, knives, a carpenter's square, files, a scale and weights, axes, table lamps, a map board, shovels and tools for repairing weapons.
In addition to the ammunition, the "Wolfhounds" uncovered rocket grenades, bomb fuzes and several weapons.
'USARPAC Rats' Hit As Cu Chi Big Cheese
Despite heavy rains and muddy roads at Cu Chi, division soldiers made it to the USO Show at the Division's "Lightning Bowl."
Entertaining the troops were five USO-sponsored Army Entertainment Contest finalists. Calling themselves the USARPAC Rats, all are stationed at various military installations in the Pacific.
The show began with a musical introduction by the division band, playing a medley of tunes ranging from the big band era to the present. Then Sp5 Steve Black of the 319th Mil. Intel. Bn. in Hawaii stepped on stage and introduced the other members of the group and the show was on.
Cheers and laughter were the order of the day in spite of wet sand bag seats, dark clouds and rain.
The men listened to jazz, folk and pop tunes. They laughed at 1st Lt. Warren Chaney's ventriloquism act and hummed along with the band. Lt. Chaney is stationed in Okinawa.
At the end of the performance, the group's lead singer, Sp4 Wiley Bennet, who came from Korea, said, "It was great watching all those guys sitting in the rain to see us perform."
Lt. Chaney, commenting on the "Lightning Bowl," said, "This is the best stage we've had in Vietnam so far."
The piano player, Sp 5 Dave Groter, whose duty station is in Japan, noted, "The 25th Inf. Div. Band really has some fine musicians. I think the guys would have come out in this rain just to hear them play."
More Troops To Vietnam
Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara has said he anticipates more men will be needed to bolster air and ground strength in Vietnam. He set current Vietnam strength levels in round figures at 280,000.
Page 8 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS July 29, 1966
Col. Bundy Leaves Div. Chemical Post
Lt. Col. Robert E. Bundy of Pittsburgh, division chemical officer and assistant operations officer, will leave Monday to fill a joint staff assignment for the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, in Saigon.
Col. Bundy, who has served with the division since August 1953, entered the Army in 1942. The following year, after being graduated from officer candidate school, he served in four campaigns in Europe.
He returned to active duty in 1948 and served as an armored platoon leader at Fort Lee, Va.
He served in four more campaigns with a 4.2 mortar company during the Korean War receiving the Bronze Star Medal, the Army Commendation Medal and Purple Heart.
He returned to the States where he attended the Chemical Advanced Course at the Chemical School, Fort McClellan, Ala. From there he was sent to Washington, D.C., as a member of the Army General Staff.
Col. Bundy received his Master's Degree in business administration from Syracuse University in 1960.
From 1960 to 1962, he was an instructor of financial management at Fort Lee's Management School and then attended the Naval War College before joining the division in August 1963.
New Viet LNO Joins Division From III Corps
Col. Huynh Cong Thanh (ARVN) has been assigned to the division as Army, Republic of Vietnam III Corps liaison officer.
A veteran of the first weeks of fighting at Dien Bien Phu, Col. Thanh comes to the "Tropic Lightning" assignment from the ARVN I Corps headquarters in Da Nang, where he was chief of staff.
In addition to commanding the detachment of ARVN interpreters stationed with the U.S. infantrymen, the colonel serves as liaison between 25th Division and ARVN III Corps headquarters.
|FIRST HAND - Four congressmen are briefed by Maj. Gen. Fred C, Weyand, division commander, following a tour of the Cu Chi base comp. Representatives John M. Murphy of New York, Thomas C. McGrath of New Jersey, William D. Hathaway of Maine and Gale Schisler of Illinois were accompanied by Maj. Gen. Lawrence S. Lighter, deputy director of the Air Force Legislative Liaison Office. The legislators, all veterans of World War II and Korea, were on a tour of U.S. military installations in Vietnam. (Photo by Pardue)|
CG Decorates Wolfhounds...
Eight members of Co. A, 1st Bn., 27th Inf., were decorated for heroism by Maj. Gen. Fred C.Weyand, division commander, in ceremonies last week.
The men were lauded for action the day before when their outnumbered company was hit by an estimated Viet Cong main force company west of the Ho Bo Woods.
Awarded Silver Star Medals with "V" Device were 2nd Lt. Peter H. Schnizer of Madison, N.J., and Sgt. Eugene M. Brown of Cleveland.
Bronze Star Medals were awarded to 2nd Lt. James W. Holiday of Lansdale, Pa; Sgt. Gerald D. Fisher of Seymour, Ind.; Sp4 John S. Blue of Carlhige, N.C.; Sp4 Marion Burns of Switzerland, S.C.; PFC Bernard V. Gabler of Lucinda, Pa., and PFC Paul J. Edwards of Wakefield, Va.
The "Wolfhounds" arrived in their landing zone at about 1230 p.m. and were on the ground less than five minutes when they received sporadic fire from a wood line to their front. As the company moved from the landing zone, small arms and automatic weapons fire hit them from a wood line to their right.
Sgt. Larry Freeman of Pulaski, Va., a Wolfhound squad leader, said the enemy was about 75 yards from them when they reached cover. Toward the end of the battle, the distance was reduced to within 15 meters.
Another squad leader, Sgt. Charles E. Fetch of Ash. Grove, Mo., said his men were pinned down during the heaviest fighting. "Every time someone moved," he added, "he got shot at."
The enemy was reported to have taken heavy losses each time it attacked.
Automatic weapons were manned by crews of threes. According to 2nd Lt. Roy Williams, a platoon leader, "whenever we knocked off a crew, three more VC would pop up."
Sgt. James Brown, a squad leader in the 3rd Platoon, said the Viet Cong were "well trained and used fire and maneuver-advance tactics."
Capt. Lowell Mayone of Saugerties, N. Y., company commander, directed his men from a helicopter above the battlefield and noted seeing many of the enemy bodies.
After the battle Capt. Mayone reported, "We hit some hard-core VC and inflicted heavy casualties on them. Unfortunately, we took losses too. If we had run into them earlier in the day, we would have stayed and finished them off. But since it was late, we fought as long and hard as possible before starting evacuation in time to complete it before dark."
Reactionary platoons were flown in and received heavy fire as soon as they hit the ground. Helicopters flew overhead spraying the enemy area with intense machinegun fire. One chopper was shot down, but the crew was evacuated.
The enemy fought with M-79 grenade launchers and machine guns.
Speaking to companions after the battle, one of the men complained of a headache because of a grazing wound he received above the right ear. A friend offered him a pill, but he replied, "No thanks, it's a pleasant pain. It lets me know I'm still breathing."
...and Lauds Heroism
The men of Co. A, 1st Bn., 27th Inf., sat silently as eight of their comrades were decorated. Some, in blood-stained fatigues, stared glassily at their fingertips. Others listened to the citations being read by the adjutant, occasionally dabbing at their eyes.
These are the "Wolfhounds" who dropped from UH-1B helicopters into the midst of an estimated force of one Viet Cong main force company one day earlier. They had inflicted heavy casualties on the VC, counting 55 bodies. But the VC, too, had taken their toll.
Maj. Gen. Fred C. Weyand, division commander, presented two Silver Star Medals and six Bronze Star Medals for heroism to the soldiers, who only 24 hours earlier had been through one of their hardest-fought battles of the war.
"You've been pushed to the wall - and you've stood up and been counted," said Gen. Weyand. "We often ask ourselves, 'What are we' fighting for?' Well," continued the general, "the answer that makes the most sense to me is that we're fighting for those fellows who were laughing and fighting and crying with you yesterday."
After decorating the eight men, the general said, "In every action there are men who rise to the heights, who do things that, if they were rational, they would never do. At each crisis there will be a group of men, who at that moment in time, will hold this company together.
"We're fighting," he concluded, "to see that these fellows did not die in vain."
The 25th Infantry Division Museum for providing the volume of 1966 Tropic Lightning News,
Ron Leonard, 25th Aviation Battalion for finding and mailing them,
Kirk Ramsey, 2nd Bn., 14th Inf. for creating this page.
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