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Vol 2 No. 10                TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                March 13, 1967



Unit                   Page Unit                  Page Unit                  Page Unit                  Page
11th Cav                 3 1/14                        3 196 Lt. Inf Bde      6 2/27                      3
12th Evac                6 1/27 Photo             6 196 Lt. Inf Bde      6 2/27 Photos           3
17th Cav                 3 1/35                       6 2/5 Arty Photo       4 4/23                      3
17th Cav                 6 196 Lt. Inf Bde      6 2/14 Photos           4 Oper. Gadsden      6
1/8 Arty                  3 196 Bde Photo      6

The cover sheet for this issue was missing (pages 1, 2, 7, 8).  I've posted the remaining pages (3, 4, 5, 6) until I can get the rest . . .



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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 San Francisco 96225. Army News Features, Army Photo Features, Armed Forces Press Service and Armed Forces News Bureau material are used. Views and opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Department of the Army. Printed in Tokyo, Japan, by Pacific Stars and Stripes.

Maj.Gen. John C. F. Tillson III . . . . Commanding General
Maj. Bernard S. Rhees . . . . . . . . . . . Information Officer
Capt. John P. Fortner . . . . . . . . . . . . Officer-in-Charge
SSgt. David G. Wilkinson . . . . . . . . Editor
Sp4 Terry S. Richard  . . . . . . . . . . . . Editorial Assistant
Sp4 John R. Dittmann. . . . . . . . . . . . Editorial Assistant


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Cav. 'Collects' Cong Camps
6 VC Die In Fights

   The 11th Armored Cav. Regt. killed six Viet Cong and captured a VC training center and several base camps during the first days of Operation "Junction City" in the lush jungles of War Zone "C".
   The "Black Horse" Regiment, working in support of the 25th Inf. Div., is smashing through the dense area in a maneuver to trap the enemy between their armored units with their infantry units lining a horseshoe-shaped defense and blocking position around them.
   Two squadrons of the regiment, along with the "Tropic Lightning" division's 4th Bn. (Mech.), 23rd Inf., crashed through 15 km. of the enemy sanctuary in the opening day of "Junction City."
   The only resistance the cavalry men met came from mines and small unit harassment.  By the end of the second day, the cavalry regiment had destroyed numerous mines, foxholes.  Also destroyed were rows of punji stakes in addition to underground base camps.  The enemy training center was equipped with silhouette targets and rifle range supplies.
   The Black Horse Regiment continued its search and clear missions with numerous enemy contacts.


Tearning down VC camp
25th soldiers tear down VC camp.  (S&S Photo)



Artillery Uses 'Sky Guns' In Operation 'Junction City'

   "Guns from the Sky" is the way captured Viet Cong have described the ability of United States artillery to be heli-lifted into virtually any part of Vietnam.  The 1st Bn., 8th Arty., is making good use of that ability during the massive Operation "Junction City."
   The 25th Inf. Div. artillery unit supporting the division's 2nd Bde., during the operation deep in War Zone "C," found that the only way to place their 105mm howitzers in the dense jungle was to fly them in.
   Huge CH-47 "Chinook" helicopters easing the artillery pieces and ammunition in slings; lifted the deadly cargo over miles of thick forest and placed them in strategic clearings.
   "We can have the first round on its way into VC positions two minutes after the howitzer touches the ground," said section chief SSgt. Luis A. Romero of Puerto Rico. Sgt. Romero directs the emplacement of the guns once they have landed.
   The touchdown marks the start of frantic activity.  The howitzer is wheeled into position by hand, ammunition is prepared and the sites are set.  The command to fire is given, and the round is in flight.
   The tricky job of handling the air transport of the weapons is done by specially trained "Pathfinders."  The soldiers guide the mammoth helicopters into a hover over the howitzer, and quickly hook the carrying straps to the aircraft.  Winds under the hovering ship often reach 100 mph or more.


'Wolfhounds' End School For Viet Cong Students

   School for Viet Cong demolition men in War Zone "C" was let out permanently by the 2nd Bn., 27th Inf.  The 25th Division soldiers destroyed a complete explosives training area during Operation "Junction City."
   The classroom area was uncovered complete with mockups of Chinese explosives and textbooks on the use of demolitions.  Lesson books showed in detail how Viet Cong students could destroy bridges, fortifications and roadways.
   Student notebooks contained neatly copied study assignments on their deadly subject.  The notes indicated that the classroom complex was part of the VC 680th Training Regiment operating in War Zone "C."
   Student "doodlings" in notebooks showed a large, bruised Uncle Sam reeling after Viet Cong students had struck with knives and stones.  Neatly drawn pictures of U.S. helicopters and armored personnel carriers filled other pages.
   Books containing the lives of Viet Cong heroes were found carefully wrapped in waterproof material.  The complete story of North Vietnam's president Ho Chi Minh's "rise to fame" was found in many student packets.
   Songbooks praising the works of the VC and North Vietnamese newspapers extolling "victories of the National Liberation Front were uncovered by battalion troops.
   After the training material and student packets had been carefully collected and sent to intelligence officers, the area was destroyed by the infantrymen.
   The battalion continued its sweep of the densely overgrown War Zone "C" as their part of the multi-division Operation Junction City.


Wolfhound crossing river WET AND DEEP - "Wolfhounds" from the 2nd Bn., 27th Inf., cross river while moving into position during Operation "Junction City" in War Zone C.  (Photo By PFC Larry Craig)
DUCKING - A member of the 2nd Bn., 27th Inf., scurries behind a log for cover against sniper fire.  The incident occurred while the "Wolfhounds" were moving into position for their role in Operation 'Junction City' in War Zone C.  (Photo By PFC Larry Craig) Wolfhound looking for cover



F Trp. Looks for Mortar Positions

   Trp. F, 17th Cav., has provided the 196th Lt. Inf. Bde. base camp with reconnaissance in depth by finding Viet Cong mortar positions on more than one occasion.
   Trp. F's second platoon recently was given the assignment of searching and destroying VC mortar positions in the area.
   The cavalrymen, working with coordinates supplied by air observation, found numerous; mortar and surrounding foxholes.


'Dragon' Slays Tarantula In Hairy Tunnel Battle

   PFC William Bryan of Tifton, Ga., said, "It was either a baby gorilla or a giant tarantula, but when it's big and hairy, the size of my two fists, and coming at me with a sneer on its face, I'm going to shoot it."
   The 19-year-old infantryman from the division's 3rd Bde., was part of a 1st Bn., 14th Inf. "Dragon" search party in a Viet Cong tunnel on Operation "Thayer II."
   He was looking for one kind of enemy when he ran across one of another sort.  "Crawling along a rock right in front of my hand was a Tarantula spider about the size of both my hands," exclaimed PFC Bryan.
   "I didn't have a whole lot of time to decide what to do," he said, "because that thing was coming at me pretty fast.  My first impulse was to shoot - that's how big the darn thing was - but I settled on just clubbing him to death with my .45."


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2/14th sweeps Rach Kien
TO MAKE FREE - Soldiers of the 2nd Bn., 14th Inf., sweep through the nearly deserted streets of the village of Rach Kien during the early days of Operation "Lanakai."  Military authorities now term this operation one of the most successful U.S. Revolutionary Development Programs to date.


SFC James Spitz paints Rach Kien school benches TO MAKE NEW - A fresh coat of paint from the spray gun wielded by SFC James Spitz makes old desks from Rach Kien's elementary school look like new.  The school itself had been closed by the Viet Cong during their 14-month occupation of the village.
TO MAKE WELL - SP5 Robert Brown, a medic with the 2nd Bn., 14th Inf., listens as an interpreter describes the symptoms of an ailing villager at Rach Kien.  During Operation "Lanakia," more than 500 patients were treated by the medics. SP5 Robert Brown, 2/14th medic



U.S. Revolutionary Development in Action at Rach Kien



2/14th soldier takes a break TO MAKE FRIENDS - A weary soldier of the 2nd Bn., 14th Inf., takes time out to make friends with children in the village of Rach Kien in Long An Province.

TO GIVE BACK - For 14 months the Viet Cong used terrorist tactics to keep the market place at Rach Kien completely deserted.  The 2nd Bn., 14th Inf., cleared the village of communist forces, rebuilt the market place, and helped to make it the local center of commerce.

2/14th cleared village so villagers can shop



2/5th Arty stands guard at Rach Kien
TO MAKE SECURE - Track-mounted twin 40mm guns of the 2nd Bn., 5th Arty., aid the 2nd Bn., 14th Inf., in securing the village of Rach Kien.  The presence of the "twin forties" helped give the villagers a sense of security.



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72-Hour Week
        Nursing: A Job of Dedication
By SP4 Dan Desmond

   "I love working as a nurse in Vietnam," said 1st Lt. Flora Sullivan.  "It's almost hard to explain my feelings but there is so much satisfaction in helping people . . . people who need us."
   Lt. Sullivan, 24, of Glenolden, Pa., is a surgical nurse with the 12th Evac. Hosp. intensive care unit at the division's Cu Chi base camp.  Her job demands a work week of at least 72 hours and a special type of woman.
   "Many people can't understand why we want this type of work.  But, despite the hardships, it's really wonderful.  During my two months in Vietnam, I've probably put in more time than I would in three or four months elsewhere.  But it has been more rewarding in terms of personal satisfaction," said Lt. Sullivan.
   "There are times when it can be very frustrating.  For example when a patient has a limb amputated.  When he wakes up, he'll ask why it happened to him.  There's hardly anything I can say.  Sometimes I want to cry but know I can't," she added.
   "I worked in a civilian hospital for three months before joining the service and I find that military nursing is far more advanced than civilian.  WE treat different types of cases and keep up with the latest medical and nursing techniques," she said.
   "The experiences in general are tremendous although I don't think he effect of this year will be told until I return to the United States and see how much better I can handle the stateside situations," she added.
   "We never become close friends with our patients for obvious reasons.  Besides, they are rarely here long enough.  We do what we can for them by stabilizing their body temperatures and blood pressures, but when they are out of danger, they are evacuated.  If their recuperation period will be long, as in the case of broken bones or severe burns, they are sent back to the United States," she added.
   Lt. Sullivan summed up the motivating force of the Army nurse by concluding, "We are in a constant state of compassion and willingness to help.  Nothing makes us feel better than to see our patients leave the ward smiling."


Gomit Pied Piper Strikes 'Em Clean

   The Pied Piper struck in the resettlement hamlet of Gomit recently, but this time he brought all the children back, safe, sound and clean.
   Capt. Kenneth Barton, civil affairs officer for the division's 1st Bn., 35th Inf., was trying a new tactic to improve personal hygiene in the tiny refugee camp near the 3rd Bde.'s forward command post.
   On this visit to the camp, Capt. Barton took soap and candy in his pockets and a trick up his sleeve.  He gave each child a bar of soap and told the group to follow him.  He walked straight to the nearest water hole and began washing his hands and face.  The children quickly caught on and followed suit.
   Capt. Barton helped the smaller children with the unfamiliar joys of washing, and soon there was nothing but glistening skin in the water hole.  As each child emerged and dried, he received a piece of candy as a reward.
   Capt. Barton, who was as wet as any of the children, and most probably had more fun, said "The kids really needed the soap - they had a lot of sores."
   Capt. Barton feels the "Pied Piper" tactic was a success and plans to use it in the future to get all the people - young and old - to become interested in keeping themselves clean.


1/27th Wolfhound stands guard GUARDING - A soldier of the 1st Bn., 27th Inf., "Wolfhounds" stands guard in the dense jungles of War Zone C.  The photo was taken during the massive Operation "Junction City" in Tay Ninh Province.  (Photo By PFC David Givens)



Ambush Ends VC Mining Activity

196th ready for ambush    A major problem encountered on combat operations in Vietnam is the almost constant hazard created by Viet Cong mining activities.  The use of mines and booby traps by guerrilla forces has proven to be one of their most effective weapons.  They are masters in the use of both standard and homemade mines.
   The 196th Light Infantry Brigade's Troop F, 17th Cav.,  responsible for the reconnaissance, clearing, and security of the roads south of the Iron Triangle during Operation "Cedar Falls," found this operation to be no exception.
   Charlie had plenty of mines, and from the first day of the operation, made maximum use of this weapon in an attempt to slow down allied movements in the Iron Triangle.
   During the operation, Trp. F, disarmed or destroyed many Viet Cong anti-tank mines, but they found that the best way to eliminate the problem was to stop the Viet Cong who were laying the mines before they had a chance to inflict any major damage.  There was only one way - ambush.
   One such ambush by Trp. F about 200 meters south of the village of Lao Tao Duoi, on a road leading from Route One to the brigade's forward base camp.  This seemed to be one of Charlie's favorite areas for laying mines.  The patrol, led by 1st Sgt. Billy B. Crowder and Sgt. Gus Johnson, both veterans of the Korean War, moved into the area and began to set up.  Before the last claymore could be positioned, a lone Viet Cong moved toward the patrol's position and was shot down.  A search team retrieved the dead VC, an M-2 carbine, two grenades of American and Chinese manufacture, and several documents.
   The night's work showed positive results.  No more mines were found along the route for the remainder of the operation.  Allied troops were thereafter able to move faster and with more safety over the route.


196th Light Inf. receives supplies PARADROPPED - A soldier of the 196th Lt. Inf. Bde. watches as tons of supplies are air-dropped from C-130 aircrafts into their forward area during Operation "Junction City."  (Photo By 1st Lt. Ambrosio Sarmiento)



VC Suffered Setback in 'Gadsden'

   Operation "Gadsden" drew to a close after 22 days in Tay Ninh Province, some 85km northwest of Saigon.  Operation "Gadsden" accomplished in 22 days what would have taken non-mechanized units considerably longer.  Viet Cong activities in the area were again disrupted.
   Viet Cong killed during the operation totaled 161 while more than 386 tons of rice were captured.  U.S. casualties throughout the operation were light.
   Units taking part in the operation were elements of the 3rd Bde., 4th Inf. Div., 196th Lt. Inf. Bde., and elements of the 1st and 2nd Bdes. ef the 25th Inf. Div.
   "Tropic Lightning" infantrymen destroyed 588 underground fortifications, 543 VC structures, 117 hand grenades and a whiskey still.  They captured six AK-47 rifles, one Chicom rocket launcher, one Chicom sub-machinegun and five Chicom carbines.
   Other items captured included miscellaneous small arms and ammunition, a heavily stocked radio transmitting station, a Viet Cong training site, two fuel-powered generators and several hand-powered ones and assorted field telephones.
   At least 16 enemy base camps were discovered and destroyed by the highly mobile infantrymen on the operation.  Armored personnel carriers were used to a high degree during the operation to gain tactical superiority.  Often mechanized elements could crash into enemy camps before the VC had time to organize a defense.
   Operation "Attleboro" conducted in roughly the same area last November, proved the value of mechanized infantry units in maintaining superiority through mobility.  Operation "Cedar Falls," also in the Iron Triangle, underscored that point.
   Every item captured or destroyed, from the six cases of canned milk to the three rice polishing machines, have set the Viet Cong in Tay Ninh Province back immeasurably.


196th Conducts A 'MEDCOW'

   When the Medical Civic Action Program (MEDCAP) team of the 2nd Bn., 1st Inf., 196th Lt. Inf. Bde., went to treat the illnesses of the people in the village of Trung Sup, they never expected to have a cow as their only patient.
   "The night before, the village was mortared by the Viet Cong.  When we arrived, no one was around.  Everyone was attending the funerals of the victims," related Capt. Edward L. Garr of Los Angeles, battalion surgeon.
   Suddenly, an old lady, leading a cow, approached the men and pointed out a shrapnel wound in the cow's thigh.
   "We put the cow in a harness sling, dressed and bandaged the wound and headed back to base camp," said Capt. Garr.
   Recent visits to the village showed the cow in excellent health.


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Thanks to
Arlo Saboe, 2nd Bn., 14th Inf (Golden Dragons) for sharing this issue,
Kirk Ramsey, 2nd Bn., 14th Inf. for creating this page.

This page last modified 8-12-2004

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