Vol 2 No. 18 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS May 8, 1967
|Unit Page||Unit Page||Unit Page||Unit Page|
|1/5 Photo 1||2/12 6||2/35 6||3/22 1|
|1/5 3||2/14 Photo 1||25th Div Arty 3||34 ARVN Ranger 1|
|1/14 6||2/14 1||25th MP 3||392 Trans 6|
|1/27 3||2/22 6||283d Signal 6||4/23 6|
|1/27 6||2/27 6||3d Bde TAC 3||431st Med Bn 6|
|1/27 6||2/27 7||3/4 Cav 6||65th Engr 6|
|1/27 7||2/27 Photo 7||3/4 Cav 7||7/11 Arty 3|
|116th AHC 6||2/27 7||3/4 Cav Photo 7|
|2nd Bde 1|
Chanh Saves Squad From Claymore
A Viet Cong rallier leading a 25th Inf. Div. Patrol to a VC hospital hidden in the Boi Loi Woods saved the lives of at least three persons when he spotted a claymore mine shortly before it was detonated.
Tran Van Bay, a former company commander with D14 VC Bn. Operating in the Boi Loi area had turned himself in a few short weeks ago under the Chieu Hoi program.
When Operation "Manhattan" began he and another Hoi Chanh volunteered to lead 25th Div. Elements to a VC hospital.
On April 26, while guiding a patrol commanded by 1Lt. Mike Whiles of Boise, Idaho, the group, comprised of two Hoi Chanh, Whiles, his radio-telephone operator (RTO) and a military intelligence man, came to a left turn in the trail. Just as all had competed the turn, except the RTO, Bay spotted the claymore. He immediately knocked Whiles, the intelligence man and the other Hoi Chanh to the ground and covered Whiles with his own body. No sooner had he done this than the claymore was command detonated and VC hidden in nearby brush opened up with machineguns.
- The Pincer Begins To Close
"We couldn't call it anything but successful so far," a military spokesman said when asked April 30 how Operation "Manhattan" was progressing. "Even though we haven't found any large VC units yet," he continued, "we have discovered a considerable number of tunnels, underground bunkers, and weapons and food caches. And 'Manhattan' is far from over," he emphasized.
The success he was referring to was the finding and destroying of more than 612 fortifications, 29 tunnel complexes and 54 tons of rice.
More than 160 small arms and 12 heavy weapons were captured during the first week, including 177,600 rounds of small arms ammunition.
Although enemy contact had been light for 25th Div. Soldiers, the VC body count stood at 36 on April 30.
Units of the 25th and 3rd Bde, 4th Inf. Div., continued their push toward the northwest bank of the Saigon river with 1st Inf. Div. And 11th Armd. Cav. Regt. Units closing in from the opposite bank. It is hoped the pincer operation will force enemy troops into the open or make them stand and fight.
"Charlie has pretty much had his own way in this area," another spokesman added. "He usually picks the time and place when he wants to fight, but we're hoping he won't have much choice this time," he concluded.
MOVING OUT - 1st Bn. (Mech), 5th Inf. push through Boi Loi. (Photo by 1LT A.R. Karel)
34th ARVN Rangers Sweep VC Base
More than 90,000 lbs of Viet Cong rice were captured recently in the Boi Loi Woods by the 34th ARVN Ranger Bn. Taking part in the multi-division Operation "Manhattan."
The battalion is working in combined combat operations with the 2nd Bde, of the 25th Inf. Div.
The Rangers swept into the base camp area soon after leaving their night position. The VC camp, not far from that night position, could not be seen until the ARVN soldiers had actually entered the area, because of the intense jungle growth.
Aerial reconnaissance of the area the day before had not spotted the camp because of the heavy jungle canopy.
The nearly 50 tons of rice were evacuated for distribution to Vietnamese civilians and military dependents.
Also located and destroyed were three huts, five bunkers, 600 pounds of fish, and 150 sheets of construction tin. Fifteen pounds of documents were evacuated for study by intelligence officers.
A large cache of Viet Cong weapons has been uncovered by the 2nd Bn., 14th Inf., during a sweep 40 kms northwest of Saigon while on Operation "Manhattan."
Found were 128 weapons to include: Chinese, German, French and American rifles, sub-machineguns, carbines, machineguns and an anti-tank rocket launcher.
At the same time, some 55,000 rounds of assorted small arms ammunition, 125 anti-tank rockets, 200 grenades, 22 recoilless rifle rounds and six mortar rounds, were found.
Both caches were uncovered by the 3rd Plt., Co. A, as the result of searching two underground houses.
BULLETS - (Right) A soldier from the 2nd. Bn., 14th Inf., examines VC small arms ammunition that was found 40km northwest of Saigon during Operation "Manhattan."
(Photo by SP4 Richard Calvo)
US Troops Find Fresh Grave Site
U.S. Troops of the 25th Inf. Div. Uncovered a network of enemy bunkers and graves during Operation "Manhattan" as they pushed through a booby-trapped forest 50-km northwest of Saigon.
A battalion of the 25th found VC tunnels, fortified bunkers and a platoon-sized base camp four days after the operation began. The 1st Bde. soldiers found the camp 15 miles northwest of Cu Chi.
Another patrol uncovered 20 graves containing the bodies of Viet Cong killed when they were hit by a 25th Div. Company several days earlier.
The U.S. troops encountered mines and traps as they moved through forest on both sides of the Saigon River.
"The woods are heavily mined," said Maj. O.L. Chilelli, executive officer of the 2nd Bn., 14th Inf. Chilelli said part of the woodline "was booby-trapped so heavily that we pulled back and almost obliterated it with air strikes."
Dau Tieng - A small dog gave early warning of approaching Viet Cong here recently resulting in a 3rd Bn., 22nd Inf., ambush killing one VC and capturing his weapon.
The ambush, two kms west of Tay Ninh, was stumbled upon by eight VC just before dawn.
Just prior to spotting the VC, PFC Edward C. Darby was alerted by the dog skittering through the ambush site. "I was looking to the rear as this dog came up. When I heard something I looked up and saw men moving across the skyline." After a short fire fight the VC broke contact.
Page 2 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS May 8, 1967
Louis J. North, HHC, 25th Inf. Div.
Virgil M. Ledford, Co. B, 3/22nd Inf., 3rd Bde, 4th Inf. Div.
SP4 Thomas A. Peterkin, Co. A, 3/22nd Inf., 3rd Bde, 4th Inf. Div.
PFC Matthew D. Atkins III, Co. B, 3/22nd Inf., 3rd Bde, 4th Inf. Div.
PFC Warren F. Muhr, Co. B, 2/12th Inf., 3rd Bde, 4th Inf. Div.
DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS
Charles T. Brown Jr., Co. A, 25th Avn. Bn.
Wilfried H. Kast, Co. B, 25th Avn. Bn.
1LT Richard M. Healey, Co. A, 25th Avn. Bn.
WO John D. Heath, Co. A, 25th Avn. Bn.
WO Jon C. Jensen, Co. A, 25th Avn. Bn
SP4 Kenneth D. Gibbs Jr., HHC, 3/21st Inf., 196th Lt. Inf., Bde.
|PFC Richard A. Erickson, Co. C, 2/12th Inf., 3rd Bde., 4th Inf. Div.|
BRONZE STAR (VALOR)
Paul T. Short Jr., Co. B, 1st Bn. (Mech), 5th Inf.
Thomas R. Talmadge, Co. A, 3rd Bn., 22nd Inf., 3rd Bde.
Bruce C. Young Jr., 25th MP Co.
Maximo Belimarez, Co. A, 1st Bn. (Mech), 5th
SP5 Eric Mooney, HHC, Spt. Comd.
SP5 David R. Fisher, 25th Admin. Co.
SP5 David L. Kleinberg, 15th P.I. Det.
SP4 Daniel J. Desmond, 25th Admin. Co.
SP4 Douglas C. Kearney, 25th Admin. Co.
SP4 Joseph P. Kramer, 25th Admin. Co.
PFC Francis J. Wolfe, HHC, 2nd Bn., 14th Inf.
PFC Raymond G. Worth, HHC, 2nd Bn., 14th Inf.
AIR MEDAL (VALOR)
Ephriam M. Goss, Co. A, 25th Avn. Bn.
Tommy S. Canino, Co. A, 25th Avn. Bn.
PFC Merwin E. Lyon, Co. A, 25th Avn. Bn.
PFC Larry E. Muntz, Co. A, 25th Avn. Bn.
PFC Miles K. Shaulis, Co. A, 25th Avn. Bn.
You are on your last assignment before you change form military uniform to civilian clothes and add your name to the retired list.
It's going to be pretty nice to either sit back and relax or start that second career and receive your retirement check every month.
But remember, your retired pay stops when you die, it isn't passed on to your family.
For this reason, there is a voluntary survivorship annuity plan available which can provide an income for your widow and children.
Called the Retirement Serviceman's Family Protection Plan (RSFPP), its purpose is to supplement personal insurance programs. It's a program for everyone, but especially for a serviceman who, for one reason or another, wasn't able to start a commercial insurance program during his twenties.
Under the plan the retired serviceman's eligible survivors will receive a monthly check until eligibility ceases.
The plan applies only to the family of the retired serviceman and there is no coverage until retirement. Families of active duty personnel are covered by other programs.
If you decide to enroll in the plan, you must do so before you complete 18 year's service for pay purposes or three years before the first day on which you will be entitled to receive retired pay.
If you're a bachelor, investigate the program anyway as situations can change before you retire.
To get all the information on the Retired Serviceman's Family Protection Plan, see your legal, personal affairs or career advisory officer. Plan now for retirement. (AFNB)
In a war zone, the enemy takes its toll, but so do accidents. Each month hundreds of man hours are lost due to preventable accidents. Accidents are just that, preventable.
Safety training is the means by which accidents can be avoided. Safety awareness has to be created and developed in the individual soldier. The soldier must realize that his personal welfare is of concern to his family, his buddies, his commander and to the overall operation.
Frequent short talks or discussions have proven to be a means of establishing a co-operative safety attitude between the commander and his men.
Vietnamese Rangers Fighting in War Zone 'C'
Dau Tieng - One of the most dedicated Vietnamese fighting units is the 36th Vietnamese Ranger Battalion, now on operations in War Zone C.
Under the operational control of 3rd Bde., 4th Inf. Div., the Rangers are primarily a reaction force for the III Corps Area.
The battalion is made up of 360 soldiers representing nearly every Southeast Asian country. South Vietnamese, North Vietnamese, Chinese, Cambodian, Laotian and Montagnard soldiers live and fight together with complete cooperation and harmony.
Each man is a volunteer who goes through a tough six week course in jungle fighting in order to wear the patch of the screaming tiger, emblem of the Ranger Battalion.
Training and operations are conducted with a small contingent of American advisers. Three parties of three artillery forward observers and five American advisors total only fourteen Americans, all graduates from the U.S. Ranger School, working with the 36th Rangers.
According to Cpt. John Parker, of Little Rock, Ark., the senior American advisor who has worked with them for the past three months, there isn't a better Vietnamese unit.
The battalion takes its work seriously and moral is high. The Rangers work well with their advisors and like Americans as much as they hate the Viet Cong.
Since the Rangers have been formed, there has never been a case of Viet Cong infiltration.
Parker attributes this to two reasons. First, the battalion is constantly on the move and isn't accompanied by dependents, and second, the unit is very security conscious in everything they do. They do not trust local citizens in areas in which they operate - they keep all civilians away from them. This way, there is no chance a peddler can get close enough to observe or pick up talk of plans and activities.
The 36th Rangers have worked with several American divisions and continually prove that they are a loyal, capable combat force.
"We try to leave a favorable impression with Americans, and I think we've impressed all the divisions we have worked with," says Parker.
The unit uses strictly World War II American weapons. The .30 caliber machine guns, 60mm mortars, carbines and M-1 rifles are kept in immaculate condition and gleam as if they were brand new. Every soldier who wears the Tiger suit with a snarling tiger head on a yellow shield on his left sleeve attempts to convey the slogan of the 36th Vietnamese Ranger Battalion. Translated into English, their motto is, "Fierce in war, generous in peace."
Army enlisted promotion quotas are now the third highest since the Korean war. The total authorizations for April were 105,744.
SGM is the only rank that did not receive any extra allocations. It remained at 192. Seven-hundred forty-five openings were given for E-8s.
The other two NCO ranks were authorized; E-7s 2870 and 6590 for E-6s.
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
Page 3 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS May 8, 1967
|ANOTHER HELPING HAND - CPT Alton D. Norris presents school supplies to a student of the Xom Hue School in Cu Chi. The materials were donated by the Wesleyan Service Guild of the First Methodist Church in Wellington, Tex. SSG Duong Ba Nguyen (left), the class teacher, and Miss Le Thi Huong, the head teacher, watch.|
Guild Aids Cu Chi School
The Vietnamese school Xom Hue in Cu Chi received much needed school supplies last week from the Wesleyan Service Guild of the First Methodist Church in Wellington, Texas.
Several months ago Mrs. Esta Glenn, in a letter to her nephew, Cpt. Alton D. Norris, expressed the desires of her church group to help Vietnamese school children. Norris, as the 25th Inf. Div. Arty.'s civic affairs officer, suggested the great need for school supplies.
Nothing further was mentioned on the subject until a large package arrived in the mail this week addressed to Norris. It was full of looseleaf notebooks and paper, pen and pencil sets, coloring books, crayons, chalk and instructions to distribute them where most needed.
With the aid of his Vietnamese interpreter, SSG Duong Ba Nguyen, Norris surveyed all the schools in the Cu Chi area and found the Xom Hue school the most needy.
The school is regularly sponsored by the men of the 7th Bn., 11th Arty.
Following the distribution of the supplies, Miss Le Thi Huong, head teacher, wrote to the service guild extending thanks on behalf of the students.
'969' For Mine Find
To the 25th Inf. Div. Soldier who has been fighting his way through "Charlie Country," the sight of a Vietnamese civilian waving a piece of paper with a big red "969" on it should mean good news.
The man is carrying a leaflet that is distributed over most of the civilian areas near the base camp and wherever 25th Div. soldiers fight.
It urges the civilian for the sake of peace to report to American soldiers the locations of mines, boobytraps, weapons caches, and ambushes placed by the Viet Cong.
In return for the information the man is paid a specified sum of money.
The soldier faces with a 969 leaflet should courteously detain the civilian and notify his commander. If the civilian refuses to be detained, the soldier should obtain his (or her) name, address, place of birth, and date the person was born. The information is all contained on the civilian's identity card.
The 969 leaflet can mean good news for division soldiers, if the person using the leaflet is treated properly.
Pilot Takes It Easy With Responsibility, Artillery
By Lt. Ralph F. Campbell
DAU TIENG - "Doesn't the lightning bother you?" I asked as I sat terrified in the backseat of a little gray O-1E (Birddog) as it circled a Viet Cong base camp buffeted by a violent tropical thunderstorm.
"I don't worry about it," was the reply from CPT James R. Gross, as he concentrated on adjusting 175mm artillery fire on the target below. "The lightning usually strikes in the back seat," he said as the artillery boomed into the camp.
Gross is part of the 18 man Tactical Air Control Party which is based with the 3rd Bde., 4th Div., at Dau Tieng. The two O-1E aircraft of the party are airborne most of the day, providing constant visual reconnaissance of War Zone C. During the month of March, 120 airstrikes were directed by the six pilots in the group.
All the forward air controllers (FAC's) are experienced jet fighter pilots. Flying at ten miles a minute, the fighter pilot cannot pinpoint his target with the accuracy needed in close support of friendly troops. The FAC fills this requirement in his slow flying Birddog.
Using white phosphorous rockets to mark a target, the FAC directs the fighters into their target by radio commands telling the "jet jockys" to put their bombs or cannon fire to the left, right, above or below the white smoke of the marking rocket.
If fighters aren't available when a good target comes up, a call to the nearest artillery battery will give the FAC an additional means of supporting combat operations.
"Most of us would rather be flying the fighters, but this is an important job and gives you a different kind of satisfaction. You are running the show on a strike, and there is a lot of responsibility in it," concluded Gross.
Five hundred high school students graduated from the Minh Tanh School this week. The school is under the sponsorship of the 25th Inf. Div.'s Support Command. It is located one km south of the division's base camp, in the village of Bac Ha.
CPT John Tevz, of Detroit, Mich., as the Support Command's civil affairs officer, has been the project official for the Civic Action Program.
In a speech given during the graduation exercise, Father Tran Van Phan, headmaster of the school, extended his thanks for the help . . . "Without your books and other supplies, my children could never have such an education."
Attending the ceremony, among others, were MG John C. F. Tilson III, the "Lightning Division" commander, and COL Edwin Emerson, Support Command commander.
Filling Can Be Fun?
By Lt. Larry Augsburger
DAU TIENG - In order to fight the boredom that inevitably comes to soldiers occupying an artillery support base, the Army has devised an ingenious method of filling otherwise idle hours. Sandbags - thousands and thousands of them.
In a typical fire support base, as occupied by the 3rd Bde., 4th Inf. Div., well over 55,000 sandbags are filled. Everything that doesn't move gets sandbagged. Command posts are sandbagged, artillery gun positions are ringed with layers of sandbags, bunkers are built of them.
Sandbag filling is a job that requires teamwork. Five men make up a sandbag crew, and the necessary equipment is two shovels and a thousand bags.
The bags come from the manufacturer inside out. So one man is required to reverse the bags to outside out. You can always tell who this man is. He carries a rash along one arm from reaching inside the bag and dragging it along the skin.
The second man's job is to hold the bag while the third man, utilizing one of the shovels carefully places five and one-half shovels full of dirt into the bag.
The fourth man in the crew ties the tops of the bags shut.
The fifth man takes the second shovel and leans on it while the other four fill thousands of sandbags.
There are two people in the world somewhere who could make their fortune. First is the man who can figure a way to make sandbags outside out. The second is the one who can figure out a device similar to a hay baler that takes sandbags in one end and them drops a nicely tied sandbag from the other. Not only is there a fortune available, but the everlasting gratitude of the troops.
Howl in Den
The "Wolfhounds" of the 1st 27th Inf. returned to their base camp and to their surprise found a new enlisted men's club.
The new club which opened on April 20 was a perfect welcome for the tired men who had spent over a month in the field. Returning to the base camp at Cu Chi, the men had a lot of work to do before they could fully relax. First, equipment had to be cleaned and repaired, to be ready for the next trip to the field. Torn jungle fatigues and worn boots had to be turned in to supply for new issues. There was also the matter of personal cleanliness.
To completely relax the men made full use of the base camp's shower facilities. Cold showers were a relief from the dirt of the field. Of course, there was the matter of haircuts; there are not many barbers in the pineapple fields along the Oriental River.
All repairing and preparing accomplished, the Wolfhounds crowded to their new "Den" and discussed the operation just finished, and thought about when and where the next one would be. For the most part, they simply relaxed and enjoyed their new club.
Twenty-seven men of Co. A, 1st Bn. (Mech.), 5th Inf., can truthfully say that they were given a "dirty deal" at a promotion ceremony held at Cu Chi base camp.
Co. A was in a horseshoe formation with Cpt. William H. Pelfrey, the company commander, presiding. Twenty seven men were to be promoted that day, but none had any idea as to the full implications of the ceremony.
After each man was awarded his new rank, a signal from the company commander sent him to a nearby mud puddle to be deposited ceremoniously in the mire by his laughing comrades.
Some of those "baptized" managed to drag their harassers along with them into the puddle. All were cheerful and Pelfrey stated, "There wasn't anyone who didn't enjoy it."
Specialist Says 'Let's Celebrate'
What do you say when the Red Cross informs you that your wife has just had twins? SP4 Pasquale Carbone assigned to the 25th MP Bn., 25th Inf. Div., said "Let's Celebrate!" And that's what he and his buddies did.
Both boys are doing fine at last report weighing in at four pounds two ounces, and six pounds six ounces.
Carbone is from Barrington, R.I., and recently completed a tour of duty in Germany with the Third Division. His wife, Marie, and the two boys will reside in Barrington after returning home from the hospital.
|SLOSH - The rainy season is once again upon us. For the men of the 25th Inf. Div., both in the field and in base camp, this means muck and wet feet. (Photo by 1Lt A. R. Karel)|
Page 4-5 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS May 8, 1967
Soldiers, Stars and Smiles
|MAVERICK - James Garner, also known as Bret Maverick, jokes with a patient at the 12th Evac. Hosp. Garner spoke to almost every patient in Tropic Lightning medical facilities during his 36-hour stay at the Cu Chi base camp.|
|THATAWAY SHERIFF - "This is the closest thing I could find to a cowboy hat," jokes Dal Robertson. The "Tales of Wells Fargo" star entertained at the 25th's Lightning Bowl. (Photo by SP4 Rich Calvo)|
|STRUM 'N' HUM - Joy Eillers sings popular selections from broadway musicals during her appearance at the 25th Inf. Div.|
|YES SIR, THAT'S MY BABY - Joy Wilkerson, TV vocalist and comedian, sings an all time favorite with CPT Garth H. Holmes, adjutant of the 12th Evac. Hosp. Joy's performance brought continuous laughter from the enthused soldiers as she comically flowed across the stage with the young captain.|
DOG'S DAY - A singer of the ABC Sidney Dance Band has more than one attentive fan. Cong, an off the record member of the 25th Admin Co., enjoyed the show just as much as the men of the "Tropic Lightning" division.
|THAT'S TOO BAD - Yes, the young lady is married. Hubby, Norman Kaye, takes to the background as Cheryl talks to patients at 12th Evac. The twosome sang at their USO show in the Lightning Bowl. Even though Cheryl seemed to take the spotlight, Norman showed his stuff as a comedian.|
USO Show is here," a cry that is heard on the average of twice a month at the
25th Inf. Div. base camp at Cu Chi.
The entertainment ranges from singers to comedians and columnists to TV and movie personalities.
The Lightning Bowl spectaculars are arranged by the 1st LOG command in Saigon and coordinated by the Cu Chi Special Services office.
Schedules of visits are set up for the entertainers and almost always include the 12th Evac. Hops. To visit the men who are unable to attend.
The lineup for May includes the Ink Spots and Miss Advice herself, Ann Landers.
The shows turn out to be a most welcome respite from daily duties.
Page 6 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS May 8, 1967
Tower Cong's Bad News
Any "Charlie" thinking of becoming a Viet Cong hero had better forget trying to infiltrate into the perimeter of the 25th Inf. Div's 2nd Bde.
The perimeter, manned by the "Wolfhounds" of the 1st and 2nd Bn., 27th Inf., lies beneath two massive towers that can spot a VC moving a km out and make him wish he had forgotten the whole thing.
The tower inside the 2nd Wolfhound area is typical of what faces anyone outside the wire. Men in it spotted muzzle flashes during the recent base camp mortar attack and were the first to place fire on the enemy positions.
The fifty foot tower stands on legs that would support it through a hurricane. The lookout platform itself is shielded all around with armor plate.
Inside is a complete observing reporting system. Viewing devices aid the lookout men in spotting VC activity. Four telephone lines and two radios link the tower to all forms of fire support and the battalion operations center.
Each man on tower duty is capable of adjusting artillery and mortar fire, as well as recoilless rifle fire from positions along the perimeter.
The 2nd Bn. Bunker itself is dominated by a .50 cal. Machinegun with a specially constructed mount that allows complete coverage up and down the perimeter. The gun was the first used during some previous mortar attack.
Direction finding for blasting the enemy with artillery is no problem. A large photomural of the area in front of the tower has azimuths to important points clearly marked. It works in conjunction with a direction finding device that gives a reading as fast as the operator can sight on the enemy.
The twin towers of the Wolfhound battalions were constructed by the 65th Engr., Bn. They provide the brigade perimeter with the eyes that would make any Viet Cong attack on the base camp a complete disaster for "Charlie."
Bad" LZ Has Girls Too
BONG SON - "Illini" is not a bad LZ.
The 1st Bn., 14th Inf. build a formidable defense there in three months. Trenches connect bunkers and all headquarters and operations centers are underground.
The 2nd Bn., 35th Inf. moved into the 1/14th's area of operations and "Illini" in April.
Situated in the lower Soui Ca Valley, "Illini" gets cool breezes most of the time. A clean stream flows outside the perimeter. Men from the 1/14th dammed the stream, creating a 12-foot deep pool, the pride of "Illini."
Red Cross girls discovered the swimming hole during one of their visits to the 3rd Brigade Task Force units and now swim there every week.
Now after an 8-hour patrol on a hot day, a 2/35th soldier can come back to "Illini," slip into the cool water and see girls swimming in front of him and sigh, "This war's not so bad after all!"
"It was like watching the whole thing on television," said SP4 Wayne Force of the 1st Bn., 27th Inf.'s 4.2 Mortar Platoon after he watched two Viet Cong walk into an American ambush patrol.
Force was in charge of the battalion watchtower on the bunker line at Cu Chi base camp. "I was watching to the front through a high-powered scope when I spotted a man moving in the open. It was getting dark, but I could see him clearly," said Force.
The man laid down in the brush, but could still be seen from the high tower. Force reported the incident to his operations center and waited, watching all the time.
"A little while later I saw a second man walk over to the first and take cover. A few moments later I could see what looked like a firefight with tracers flying. It was too dark to see just what was happening," he said.
The firefight, too far away for Force to hear, was an ambush patrol of the 2nd Bn running onto the two dark figures.
The patrol was on its way to a night ambush position when the hidden men were spotted. One VC was killed in the fight that followed. Force had witnessed the whole incident from beginning to end.
An estimated company size unit of Viet Cong was surprised recently in a fortified base camp nine km southeast of Tay Ninh City by elements of the 25th Inf. Div. during a search and destroy mission "Saber Thrust."
Alpha and Delta Trps. Of the 3rd Sqdrn., 4th Cav., working with Co. B, 4th Bn., 23rd Inf. accounted for 17 enemy killed.
The Viet Cong were initially shaken by an air strike at 8:30 a.m., immediately followed by a Delta Troop armed helicopter assault. As the helicopters criss-crossed the objective with machinegun, grenade and rocket fire, M-48 tanks and armored personnel carriers moved through the dense jungle uncovering numerous tunnels, bunkers and living quarters. One underground dispensary complete with medical supplies was uncovered.
Alpha Trp. Commander, CPT James H. Strickland, of Birmingham, Ala., at one point during the height of the action dismounted from his command armored personnel carrier and flushed into the open an armed Viet Cong who was wearing "Ho Chi Minh" sandals, an olive drab uniform with web gear complete with a canteen and hand grenades.
The combined element of surprise, superior fire power and mechanized and air mobility assured the success for the "Tropic Lightning" a unit spokesman said.
Receives Silver Star
BONG SON - Two weeks after he earned it, SP4 John M. Mucci of Chelsea, Mass., received the Silver Star in a brief ceremony at the 3rd Bed., 25th Inf. Div., base camp.
MG Leland Cagwin pinned the award on the 20-yr-old team leader's jacket and congratulated him for his courage and gallantry in action.
Mucci was radio-telephone operator for the company commander of Charlie Company when his unit made contact with a North Vietnamese reinforced battalion west of Pleiku.
The company commander was seriously wounded early in the fight, and Mucci pulled his stricken commander to cover and provided him with medical treatment and protective fire. He established and maintained radio contact with the battalion commander and kept him informed of the tactical situation during the ensuing battle.
On several attempts by the NVA to overrun their position, Mucci personally engaged the enemy with hand grenade and rifle fire.
Let Out 'Permanently'
DAU TIENG - A Viet Cong support and training camp has been uncovered by the 2nd Bn., 22nd Inf. (Mech.) of the 3rd Bde., 4th Inf. Div., operating in the north-central area of War Zone C.
As the armored personnel carriers came crashing out of the jungle into the inhabited base camp, the fleeing VC fired one RPG round, one rifle grenade, and several claymore mines resulting in one U.S. killed and several wounded.
The base camp contained extensive trench and tunnel systems, running completely around and criss-crossing between sixteen well-constructed hootches and classrooms.
Apparently classes had been in session up to a few minutes before the arrival of the tracks. Searchers found three large classroom-type huts with blackboards and textbooks.
In the first classroom, some fleeting VC had chalked in English a warning to the Americans.
"Don't enter, don't search. Avoid deadfalls and boobytraps. Refuse to go on more raids as 300 of your companions from the 25th Div. at Cu Chi did Oct. 9, 1966."
Clothing was left hanging on commo wire clothes lines and chickens wandered around the camp. Twenty-five hundred pounds of rice was cached in fifty pound bags.
Most of the hootches were connected by walkways of short logs laid side-by-side.
Several practice telegraph keys and earphone set were discovered and medical supplies were stockpiled including dozens of glass vials of various drugs.
The base camp was estimated to be capable of housing between 100 to 150 people.
One anti-tank mine was dug up from one of the trails leading into the camp and several VC claymore mines rigged for command detonation were taken.
Two boards, resembling homemade switchboards were evacuated. By plugging a connection from the power source into any of the outlets on the board any predetermined combination of mines could be set off.
No weapons or ammunition caches were found, indicating that education in warfare was the primary mission of the camp.
Set New Record
The "Hornets" of the 116th Assault Helicopter Co. have set a record for the highest number of hours flown in a single month. The aviators of the 25th Inf. Div. hold the record over every other assault company in Vietnam.
The record, set in March, totaled more than 3600 hours and accounted for more than 10,600 sorties. Almost 4000 of these were combat assaults.
Ammunition, equipment and rations were moved to the quantity of 609 tons. More than 18,500 troops were transported within the III Corps area.
The aviators themselves averaged 104 hours of flying and the crew chiefs were often up past midnight performing maintenance of their aircraft.
The unit, commanded by Maj. Harold I. Small, is supported by the 283rd Sig., 392 Trans. Corps, and 431st Med. Bn.
The Hornets are part of the recently arrived 269th Cbt. Avn. Bn. Commanded by LTC Henry Nagao.
Plantation Roadblock Nets VC Bicycle Load of Supplies
DAU TIENG - A roadblock outside the 3rd Bde., 4th Div., base camp at Dau Tieng netted a bicycle full of supplies destined for Viet Cong elements hiding around the Michelin Rubber Plantation.
Early in the morning, a bicycle pulling a cart was stopped by SSG James M. Musgrove of Baltimore, Md., during the routine operation of the 2nd Bn., 12th Inf., roadblock on the road which runs around the perimeter of Camp Rainier - the only road from Dau Tieng into the Michelin Plantation.
The cart was filled with 25 lbs of dried fish, five gallons of rice wine, 10 lbs of coffee, five lbs of tea, five bottles of wine, 30 lbs of soap, and an assortment of toothbrushes, toothpaste and writing materials.
It was found that the supplies were destined for Village 14 of the Michelin Plantation.
Page 7 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS May 8, 1967
Resupplies Wolfhounds Fast
When the "Wolfhounds" of the 2nd Bn., 27th Inf., sweep through a Viet Cong held area, they travel light. Only the absolute essentials of food, water, and ammunition are carried.
But at night they often use heavy weapons to defend their perimeter, and enjoy a hot meal and a change of clothes.
The reason they can do both is the Forward Area Supply Team (FAST). This innovation of the 2nd Bn. Has been working successfully for the unit for nearly a year. It has been adopted by several other units in Vietnam.
The FAST team is composed of three men: a section sergeant, a radioman, and a helicopter landing man. The team travels with the battalion on all combat assaults. They can bring in needed supplies at any hour, day or night.
"Supplying a battalion in combat with all they need and yet having them travel light used to be a real problem," said the unit's supply officer CPT Dale Bergsten of Clay Center, Kan.
Resupply requests to the battalion rear were made one at a time and often tied up the unit's command radio network.
"The FAST team now consolidates all requests into one. They radio the requests to the rear on a special logistical network and direct incoming helicopters to the correct area," said Bergsten.
The team can talk the choppers in by radio or guide them in using smoke and hand signals.
"Just to make sure everything goes where it should, we hold classes for men in the companies on helicopter landing techniques," said support platoon leader 1LT Albert Cito. "That way the company can receive material at any time, even when separated from the battalion."
And the material includes everything from mortar rounds to dry socks. Heavy weapons such as machineguns and mortars are flown in at night. They are used for defense overnight and are extracted in the morning.
"The men have squad bags with complete changes of clothing for a whole squad," said Cito. The bags are brought in at night and removed in the morning.
Back in the rear, the dirty clothes are cleaned and checked for rips and tears. Unusable uniforms can be replaced and flown back the next night.
"The FAST team that has made all this possible has proven its worth to the Wolfhounds under fire time after time," Bergsten said. "They have worked with choppers, truck and boats to provide the 2nd Bn. With the best in resupply.
|CHOPPER unloads supplies at a 2nd Bn., 27th Inf. forward camp. It was guided to the area by members of the FAST. (U.S. Army Photo)|
Captives Freed By 27th Inf.
Seven Vietnamese civilians held captive by the Viet Cong for five months were freed by elements of the 25th Inf. Div. during a search mission this week.
The prisoners were being held as forced laborers in an area 24 kms west of Saigon.
Co. B, 2nd Bn., 27th Inf. found three of the captives, shortly after their helicopter assault landing. "My First Platoon radioed in," related CPt Thomas Manniz, Co. B commander from Dayton, Ohio, "that three Vietnamese had been found bound and blindfolded. Their bonds were so tight that their skin was blanched white."
As the three were evacuated to the battalion rear, three more Vietnamese were found . . . two bound and blindfolded, and a third sitting in a hedgerow. Soldiers searching the area found a rifle hidden in the nearby brush.
The Vietnamese who was not bound later admitted that he was a Viet Cong charged with guarding the prisoners. "It looked like he was trying to make us think he was a prisoner too," Manniz commented.
Further searching found two more captives lying in a ditch again bound and blindfolded.
CALL BRINGS HELP IN MINUTES
A frantic call for help came into the "Tropic Lightning" Div. operation center at two in the morning. An Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) outpost in the village of Phuoc Hiep, about four kms north of Camp Cu Chi, was under attack.
Just 37 minutes after the division received the early morning call, "B" Trp. Of the 3rd Sqdrn., 4th Cav., was on its way to the rescue.
As the first platoon, commanded by Lt. George Rogers, 24, of Williamsport, Pa., arrived at the besieged outpost, an estimated battalion size enemy force was at the perimeter wire. The VC broke contact immediately at the sound of the approaching armored cavalry.
The first platoon chased the fleeing VC to the south as the second and third platoons surrounded the village. SSG Glen Pike, 26, of Denver, Colo., and his second platoon soon found and engaged elements of the enemy force. Pike's "track" was hit by an anti-tank round and completely destroyed. All the men were rescued from the personnel carrier as it burned. Five wounded men were "dusted off" by Delta Trp. Helicopter gunships. No Americans were killed.
In the morning the second platoon found four dead VC, apparently the ones who had destroyed their lead "track."
The Army is doing research on a new type of ammunition for small arms and automatic cannons. The new ammunition has no metal case to be ejected.
This caseless ammunition's only metal is in the projectile. The propellant and primer assembly burns up when the round is fired.
The Army's research is in an early stage, but thousands of such rounds have been fired.
Studies will continue to improve production methods, reduce fire hazards and develop new weapons to use the ammunition.
Find Subterranean VC Mess Hall
The "Wolfhounds" spoiled Charlie's lunch during Operation "Manhattan" in the Boi Loi Woods.
The 3rd Plt. Of Co. C, 1st Bn., 27th Inf., found an underground company-sized camp. The rice was still warm in the Viet Cong "mess hall", a covered underground area with stoves hollowed out of the earth.
The men of the "Tropic Lightning" division found the camp while on a search and destroy mission near the Saigon River. The Viet Cong fled in such a hurry that they left everything behind except their personal firearms.
The platoon extracted five pounds of enemy documents and training manuals. One of the bunkers contained printing equipment. The Viet Cong were in such a hurry that clothing and medical supplies were also left behind. The Wolfhounds found three bicycles in the area and six bunkers were discovered. The bunkers were used as living quarters rather than defensive positions.
After a thorough reconnaissance of the area, the platoon returned to their base camp. That night an air strike was called in on the area.
4th Inf. Trains New Men
DAU TIENG - The men ran, sweat running down their faces. The cadence was fast, but the soldiers - many still with Stateside starch creases in their fatigues - kept up. They were the newest additions to the 3rd Bde., 4th Inf. Div., replacements.
The replacement center, commanded by CPT Samuel E. Negrea Jr., can accommodate 115 of these men at tone time.
"Since October," Negrea said, "we've processed 1300 new men." With a working staff of eight people each new replacement is given almost five days of extensive training before he is turned over to his assigned unit.
Soui Tre Hall, a new classroom named after the recent battle in which the 3rd Bde. killed 647 Viet Cong in four hours, can seat 75 students at one time. Here the men learn the finer points of Viet Cong fortifications, patrolling techniques, ambushes and booby traps.
The classroom is not the only training aid the men come in contact with. A special area surrounded by barbed wire is filled with American-made Viet Cong traps.
"At first some of the men laugh at the crude ways the Viet Cong make their booby traps," the 31-year old captain said, "but when they see the traps actually working the smiles disappeared.
The enclosed area is strewn with lethal traps designed to kill, maim and inflict an assortment of agonizing wounds.
A pit, four feet deep, has numerous deadly punji stakes embedded at the bottom. Normally such a pit would be camouflaged, but for obvious reasons the trap is clearly visible. The new men seldom come close to the edge.
A wicked mace, complete with long bamboo barbs, plunges to the ground. The weight of the weapon alone could break a man's neck - the bamboo stakes guarantee effectiveness of killing a person. The replacement personnel stress the importance of watching for such weapons.
Complete with a 40 foot tunnel the area is equipped with foot traps, swinging bamboo traps and minor obstacles designed mostly to inflict small wounds, but serious enough to put a man in great pain and definitely out of action.
Most of the men arrive to the brigade from the 90th Rept. Bn. At Long Binh or Cam Ranh Bay. Each is outfitted with a weapon and equipment from the units they are destined to become members of.
Each morning SFC Derald L. Leuszler awakens the men for a full schedule of the Army's "Daily Dozen" and a mile run. The afternoon calls for another jaunt through the brigade's rubber plantation base camp.
According to Negrea the men have a rough time with the heat at first, but seem to enjoy the running.
The week concludes with the men relearning the techniques of firing the M-16 rifle, M-79 grenade launcher, and the art of throwing hand grenades.
Page 8 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS May 8, 1967
Page 8 was missing from the packet containing this issue - we'll try to locate a copy and add it to this page.
Ron Leonard, 25th Aviation Battalion for locating and mailing this issue,
Kirk Ramsey, 2nd Bn., 14th Inf. for creating this page.
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