Vol 2 No. 33 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS Aug 21, 1967
|Unit Page||Unit Page||Unit Page||Unit Page|
|1st Bde 8||2/12 8||3rd Bde 3||4/9 7|
|1/5 1||2/14 7||3rd Bde 3||4/9 8|
|1/5 Photo 1||2/14 8||3rd Bde Photo 3||4/23 7|
|1/5 3||2/27 3||3rd Bde 7||4/23 8|
|1/5 7||2/27 4||3/4 Cav 1||588 Engr Photo 3|
|1/5 8||2/27 Photos 4||3/4 Cav Photo 8||6/77 Arty 3|
|12th Evac 1||2/27 6||3/13 Arty 6||65th Engr Photo 8|
|116th AHC 3||25th Inf 1||3/22 7||725 Maint Photo 6|
|116th AHC 4||25th Inf Photos 1||4/9 1||86th Signal 3|
|116th AHC Photos 4||25th Med Photo 1||4/9 6||Red Cross 6|
Munition Center Uncovered
By literally probing every foot along a five-mile strip of the Oriental River, mechanized infantry of the 25th Div's 2d Bde have uncovered and destroyed the largest munitions storage and manufacturing center ever found in the Hau Nghia-Saigon area.
The operation, which started July 15, is centered on the eastern bank of the river with elements of the 1st Bn (Mech), 5th Inf, working eastward through canals, streams and flooded rice paddies.
Probing with bayonets, bamboo poles and mine detectors, the "Tropic Lightning" Div soldiers have uncovered tunnel complexes, underground storage rooms, spider holes and buried 55-gallon drums containing munitions, tools or parts. Tons of explosives, thousands of component parts for grenades, booby traps and mines, and hundreds of hand and power tools used for their manufacture have been destroyed.
The importance of the area to the enemy was stressed by COL Edwin W. Emerson. brigade commander, when he stated, "Any large enemy force infiltrating from the west could reach the Oriental River by traveling light and fast. After resting up and rearming themselves with ammunition, grenades and booby traps they would go out to their objectives."
Early in the operation a base camp was uncovered which officials felt could house a multi-battalion enemy force. Eighty-four large bunkers were destroyed.
During the next three weeks company-sized elements probed the area foot by foot.
The battalion suffered a few casualties the first week because the area was infested with booby traps. CPT Dick Wells, Co B commander said, "In the 200 square meters that Bravo Co searched, we found many armed booby traps of every description. The search was so complete that we were able to avoid casualties by spotting trip wires and detonators in time."
Military officials have expressed the opinion that without this center, the enemy has received a serious set-back in their capability to arm new guerrilla elements and resupply presently active units.
Partial figures show that the Viet Cong have lost 8500 rounds of small arms ammunition, 1500 anti-personnel mines, 500 CHICOM grenades, 6000 pounds of explosives and 30,000 component parts for grenades and mines.
|A 1st Bn (Mech), 5th Inf, soldier looks over one of many munitions parts finds along the banks of the Oriental River. Thousands of component parts for grenades, booby traps and mines have been uncovered. (Photo by 1LT A. R. Karel)|
Cong Dr. Rallies
A doctor, who had been a Viet Cong for almost a decade is presently working in the Vietnamese ward at the 12th Evac Hosp in the 25th Div's base camp.
The doctor rallied to the South Vietnamese government after learning that the Viet Cong had killed his brother and sister.
Working under the supervision of Head Nurse CPT Ellen Langston, he has been assigned duties similar to those of an American practical nurse. "An evaluation by our medical board," explains Langston, "has shown that his basic knowledge is equivalent to that of a practical nurse, so for the present his duties are restricted to changing dressings, taking temperatures and general patient care."
Although the former VC doesn't speak English, the ward staff is teaching him medical terminology.
VC Ants Win Out
"Watch out for the ants . . I'm covered with them," warned the patrol leader. Seconds later, a Viet Cong ambush opened up with automatic weapons, forcing the patrol to drop in the middle of the ant hill.
Firing at the Viet Cong and fighting off the ants, the 4th Bn, 9th Inf, patrol silenced the enemy position and cautiously moved forward to check.
They found one body and a trail of blood leading off toward a clump of trees where they found a second body.
Moments later three more VC walked toward them, hands in the air, hollering "No shoot, no shoot."
Casualties among the 25th Div infantrymen - 200 ant bites.
Army Photographer Captures Viet Cong - Twice
By SSG Ray Levine
A U.S. Army photographer played a double role when he caught a Viet Cong on film and then by the scruff of the neck.
An OH-23 helicopter from Trp D, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav, was on a road check operation along Highway 1 when the pilot, 1LT Leland Burgess of Auburn, Ala., spotted a Viet Cong running along a rice paddy dike. "We had just cleared a high hedgerow when I spotted the VC standing on a dike," explained Burgess. "He started running for some woods about 300 meters away so I flew up ahead to block him."
While Burgess was maneuvering the aircraft back and forth blocking the running VC, Sp4 Jack Mraz of Fairfield, Calif., was snapping pictures.
"We were running low on fuel," Burgess added, "so Mraz volunteered to jump and take the VC. It was touchy because I couldn't take another passenger, which meant Mraz would have to wait on the ground till another chopper could get in."
The photographer grabbed an M-16, three magazines of ammo, jumped, grabbed the VC and waited almost ten minutes for another chopper, while Burgess circled overhead.
"The funniest thing about the whole operation," Mraz recalled, "was watching the VC running back and forth yelling 'Americans number one, Americans number one!'"
The VC was taken to the 25th Div's base camp for interrogation and later admitted that he was a member of a local force VC unit.
That same afternoon, just a mile away, two other choppers from D Trp caught two more Viet Cong.
|NO ESCAPE - The Viet Cong running frantically along the dike seconds before Mraz jumped from the helicopter to grab him. (Photo by SP4 Mraz)|
Page 2 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS Aug 21, 1967
The currency with which you pay for peace is made up of
manly courage, fearless virility, readiness to service justice
and honor at any cost, and a heart attuned to sacrifice.
CPT Richard P. Diehl, Co C, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
1LT James Cuthbertson Co A, 1st Bn (Mech), 5th Inf
SP5 Richard A. Puthoff, Co C, 3d Bn, 22d Inf
|SP4 Stanley L.
Baker, HHC, 1st Bn (Mech), 5th Inf
SP4 Paul J. Soares, C Trp, 1st Sgdn, 10th Cav
DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS
|SP4 Albert L. Jordan, 173d Aslt Hel Co|
BRONZE STAR (VALOR)
PSG Doyle B. Allison, Co C, 1st Bn (Mech), 5th Inf
SSG Billy J. Williams, Co B, 1st (Mech) 4th Inf
SP4 Kenneth L. Souza, Co A, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
SP4 Patrick E. Ossenkop, C Trp, 1st Sgdn, 10th Cav
SP4 William P. Becker, Co C, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
PFC Louis F. Stein, Hq & Svc Btry, 2d Bn, 77th Arty
PFC Glenn R. Wylie, Co C, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
PFC Ronald W. Barnhill, Co C, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
PFC Marion Lindsey, Co C, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
PFC John A. Stahl, Co C, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
BRONZE STAR (MERIT)
MAJ Robert Mc Cleave Jr., HHC & Band 25th Inf Div
CPT Samuel J. Robinson Jr., HHC, 1st Bn (Mech), 5th Inf
CPT John P. Otjen, HHC
1LT Floyd Holified Jr., Co B, 4th Bn (Mech), 23d Inf
1LT Michael E. Klatt, HHT, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav
2LT Stanley R. Patterson, Co C, 4th Bn (Mech), 23d Inf
CW3 Robert W. Bigelow, D Trp, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav
WO1 James R. Simpson, HHC, 1st Bde
SGM Richard G. Waken, HHC
SFC Victor F. Barejko, 38th Inf Pit (Scout Dog)
SP5 Peter Bentzen, HHC, 1st Bn, 27th Inf
SP5 Raymond M. Tanner, HHC, 3d Bde
Garland Co A, 2d (Mech) 22d Inf
SP4 Kenneth R. Anderson, Co C, 4th Bn (Mech), 23d Inf
SP4 John E. Carmack, A Trp, 3d Sgdn, 4th Cav
SP4 Teddy G, Talley, Co C, 2d Bn, 14th Inf
SP4 James A. Baiocchi, A Trp, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav
SP4 Donald E. Mc Dowell Jr., Co C, 1st Bn, 27th Inf
SP4 Joseph R. Nicholson, HHC, 4th Bn, 9th Inf
PFC Guillermo Munoz, Co A, 1st Bn (Mech), 5th Inf
PFC Raymond A. Gibbs, A Trp, 3d Squdn, 4th Cav
PFC Gilbert F. Ballard, Co C, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
PFC Michael J. Shehl, Co B, 4th Bn (Mech), 23d Inf
ARMY COMMENDATION MEDAL (VALOR)
LTC John W. Vessey, Jr., HHB, 25th Div Arty
SP4 Roy E. Gilman, Co C, 65th Engr Bn
SP4 Michael R. King, Co A, 25th Avn Bn
SP4 Edward E. Guy, Co C, 65th Engr Bn
SP4 Kenneth D. Ewalt, Co C, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
SP4 Paul J. Doyle, HHC, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
SP4 Richard P. James, Co C, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
SP4 John Mullen, Co C, 4th Bn (Mech), 23d Inf
SP4 Elliot A. Powers, Co B, 1st Bn, 27th Inf
SP4 Thomas M. Brennan, D Trp, 3d Sgdn, 4th Cav
SP4 Jerry F. Parks, D Trp, 4th Cav
SP4 Robert E. Swalley, A Trp, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav
PFC Richard J. Ancheta, Co C, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
PFC Emmit R. Brown, Co C, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
ARMY COMMENDATION MEDAL (MERIT)
CPT Daniel S. Berkley, Co B, 725th Maint Bn
1LT Gary I. Challen, How Btry, 3d Sgdn, 11th Armd Cav Regt
1LT Frank C. Radice, Jr., HHC, 65th Engr Bn
2LT Ben K. Brummett, Co A, 25th S&T Bn
2LT Anthony P. Desimone, Co A, 25th S&T Bn
WO1 John B. Parsons, HHCM
SSG Takaichi Mihara, Hq & Co A, 725th Maint Bn
SGT Clifford J. Leber, HHB, 7th Bn, 11th Arty
SGT Carl L. Counterman, Co A, 65th Engr Bn
SP5 Michael T. Ricco, 25th Admin Co
SP5 Larry P. Sissen HHC
SP4 Ronald S. Dunn, 25th MP Co
|SP4 Douglas Ecoy,
Co A, 2d Bn, 14th Inf
SP4 Frank J. Baker, Co B, 4th Bn, 9th Inf
SP4 Dennis W. Brown, Co C, 4th Bn (Mech), 23d Inf
SP4 Gary L. Jones, Co C, 4th Bn (Mech), 23d Inf
SP4 Andrew M. Pernice, Co B, 2d Bn, 12th Inf
SP4 Thomas J, Arnemann, HHC, 65th Engr Bn
SP4 Bruce R. Bubier, Co A, 1st Bn, 27th Inf
SP4 Marvin E. Ford, 25th Admin Co
SP4 Jimmy C. Kirstine, Co B, 65th Engr Bn
SP4 Martin Mc Dermott, Co C, 725th Maint Bn
SP4 Bobby W. Pearce, D Trp, 3d Sgdn, 4th Cav
The following letter was received recently by a 25th Div
battalion commander from the parents of a young man who had been killed while
fighting in the Filhol Plantation.
Special Leave to CONUS?
Saigon (MACV) - Servicemen returning to the States on Special Leave should use government or government procured transportation to the fullest extent possible upon their return to CONUS. Payment of mileage (six cents per mile) for travel in private vehicles to and from leave address is not authorized.
If travel by private vehicle is necessary for a portion of the distance to and from leave address, servicemen may be reimbursed for the actual cost of such travel. receipts for such costs as gas, oil, official telephone calls, tolls, etc., should be obtained and presented to Finance Officers for collection.
In the event that such receipts are not obtained, a statement signed by the serviceman indicating expenditure, type of purchase, place and date of purchase, is required.
Special leaves are granted to personnel who voluntarily extend their tour in Vietnam.
OF CONDUCT NO. III
If I am captured I will continue to resist by all means available. I will make every effort to escape and aid others to escape. I will accept neither parole nor special favors from the enemy.
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.
MG F.K. Mearns . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Commanding General
Maj. Bernard S. Rhees . . . . . . . . . . . Information Officer
1Lt. Larry Rottmann . . . . . . . . . . . . . Officer-in-Charge
SSG David G. Wilkinson . . . . . . . . . Editor-in-Chief
SP5 Terry S. Richard . . . . . . . . . . . . Editorial Assistant
PFC Dave Cushman . . . . . . . . . . . . Editorial Assistant
Page 3 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS Aug 21, 1967
3d Brigade Is Thanked
DAU TIENG - "Grateful to the US Army for his help to the building of our school," was written on a piece of tin roofing in red plastic letters. The sign, and the ceremony that was held recently in Dau Tieng expressed the thanks of the people of the village for the help that was given to them in the renovation of their high school.
A few months ago, the high school in Dau Tieng had chickenwire for windows, and as many holes in the broken concrete floor as in the rusted and torn tin roof which covered the classrooms. A dusty, litter-strewn yard was the playground and five strands of barbed wire separated the schoolyard from the alley and an open six-foot ditch which served as part of the village sewer system. A large sand box tree - toxic and thorny - occupied part of the schoolyard and served to house thousands of fierce red ants and a few dozen good-sized spiders. The desks in the school were full of scratches and holes, and wobbled distinctly when a student sat down.
Today, through the joint effort of the Vietnamese villagers and the 3d Bde, 25th Div, Civic Affairs Office, the school is completely changed.
Cement has been used to patch the holes in the walls and floors, and the new tin on the roof keeps the monsoon rains out of the classrooms. The sandbox tree has been removed and concrete poured for the schoolyard. A high brick wall now stands where the barbed wire once separated the play area from the street. When a student sits at one of the desks, he can concentrate on his studies instead of keeping his balance. A bright new coat of paint has been added to the once drab walls.
At the ceremony dedicating the renovated building, the assistant principal, Mr. Thoa, read a poem to the guests - first in Vietnamese and then in English.
"-- How bright is my school,
With all along the playground,
A high and straight wall.
Here is the basin, there the bicycle stand,
All the comfort for our school life.
Roof recovered again,
Walls washed with paint,
Green and blue, yellow and white.
Since we're quiet to study,
Always remembering to the US Army."
|SINGING ENGINEERS - A trio of engineers from Co C, 588th Engrs, entertain the children of Hamlet #5, Dau Tieng, during "Operation Friendship," a combined Vietnamese-US information program in the villages surrounding the 3d Bde, 25th Inf Div, base camp. From left to right, SP4 Howard Dunlap of Birmingham, Ala., PFC Richard Hendry of Chicago, and PFC Brian Donnely of Fairlawn, N.J. (Photo by LT Ralph F. Campbell)|
Friendship Opn Underway
DAU TIENG - "Operation Friendship," a combined Vietnamese-US effort to keep the people of Dau Tieng's five hamlets healthy, well-fed, and well-informed is now underway.
The program pools the resources of the 3d Bde, 25th Inf Div, with the information services of the local province officials. The entire operation is expected to last for five weeks - one week in each hamlet.
At the beginning of each week, over 200 workers from the public works program move into the hamlet to start work on the roads and drainage ditches. The workers are refugees who have been relocated due to combat operations in the Dau Tieng area. For their work they are paid in food and a plot of land on which they will build their new homes.
In addition to the workers, a door-to-door information program is started with members of the 3d Bde Civic Action Team, the Vietnamese Information Office, the Chieu Hoi program, and the Census Grievance committee. This personal contact gives the people a chance to meet some of their officials and also to express their needs and discuss their problems.
The week is culminated by a medical action program combined with entertainment provided by a musical group from the 3d Bde.
"The purpose of 'Operation Friendship,' stated CPT Vinton D. Loucks, 3d Bde civil affairs officer, "Is to bring the people of these hamlets information about their government and to demonstrate the willingnes of the Government of Vietnam and local US forces to assist in the improvement of their community."
|The 25th Infantry Division Information Office is presently compiling material and photographs of all division activities from 1 October 1966 - 1 October 1967. Anyone having good color, black and white, or color slide photographs of combat, civic action, or any other division activities, please bring them to the PIO and give them to LT Rottmann or PFC Hairston. If you desire, the photos will be returned, unharmed, after they are copied.|
Signal Tower Also Used As Arty FO Post
Exactly one hundred and forty steps, straight up, is what it takes 25th Inf Div's artillerymen to reach their observation post atop the 86th Sig Bn's 104-foot communication tower at the Div's Cu Chi base camp.
The men who make the climb are specially trained forward observers from Div Arty's 6th Bn, 77th Arty. Working in four hour shifts, two men at a time, they are ready 24 hours a day to adjust artillery fire on any enemy activity in the vicinity of the base camp.
The men are also trained in the use of the aiming circle and night observation telescope, which helps crowd their four by four foot perch. Even though quarters are close in the observation post, it allows 360 degree observation.
Escape Route Was Dead End
A usually dependable Viet Cong escape route in Hau Nghia Province was turned into a deathtrap recently when a combined mechanized-heliborne assault literally "put the squeeze" on local guerrillas.
The Viet Cong soldiers had frequently fled into the vast swamp west of the 1st Bn (Mech), 5th Inf, combat base. The thick growth provided near-perfect concealment from advancing U.S. troops.
Battalion Commander LTC Chandler Goodnow of Keene, N.H., decided to turn the tables on the VC. "We drove toward the swamp with two companies of armored personnel carriers," he explained, "and flew a third company to the very edge of solid land."
"The only routes left open were to the north and the south," said Goodnow, "and they chose the south, a real tactical blunder. Our supporting helicopter gunships were orbiting the area to the south."
While the infantry companies closed in, gunships of the 116th Aslt Hel Co struck the VC with machine gun passes, killing all five of the armed enemy soldiers. Three of them wore complete U.S. field equipment and supporting web gear.
"Hau Nghia Province is fast becoming a highly unpopular area for Viet Cong elements," says Goodnow, "they are finding that there is simply no place for them to hide."
U.S. 25th Inf Div soldiers operating northwest of Saigon recently discovered that the Viet Cong often hide some unlikely things in water buffalo pens.
Charlie Co of the 2d Bn, 27th Inf "Wolfhounds," was searching one of the small hamlets outside their night base camp when one of the soldiers found a false wall in one of the hundred pens in the area.
The shoulder high wall was pried loose and fell to the floor exposing a massive Viet Cong rice cache.
|SPEAKING VIETNAMESE - SP4 Paul Shaffer of Thornville, Ohio, jokes with children of the Thai Binh School. Shaffer is with the S-5 section of the 3d Bde, 25th Inf Div, at Tay Ninh. He spent 37 weeks at the Army Language School in Monterey, Calif., learning to speak Vietnamese. "At first I was a little afraid to speak but as my confidence grew so did my knowledge of the Vietnamese language," commented Shaffer. He is now in the process of learning the Thai language and would like to become fluent in all the languages in the Southeast Asia area. (Photo by SP5 George Swengros)|
Page 4-5 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS Aug 21, 1967
Photos by LT Larry Rottmann
ASK ANY SOLDIER WHAT THE HARDEST PART OF AN OPERATION IS, AND INVARIABLY HE'LL ANSWER "THE WAITING." IN VIETNAM, AS IN ALL PREVIOUS WARS, MEN, ACCORDING TO THEIR TEMPERAMENT, CHOOSE DIFFERENT WAYS TO DISPEL PRE-BATTLE TENSION. SOME USE THE TIME TO CLEAN THEIR WEAPONS; OTHERS READ, OR WRITE LETTERS; SOME PARTICIPATE IN CARD GAMES; MANY LIE DOWN FOR A FITFUL SLEEP; SOME JOIN IN THE SELF-CONSCIOUS BULL SESSIONS; A FEW JUST SIT AND WAIT, THEIR THOUGHTS KNOWN ONLY TO THEMSELVES. THE MEN PICTURED HERE ARE A COMPANY FROM THE 2D BN, 27TH INF "WOLFHOUNDS," 25TH INF DIV.
SHORTLY AFTER THESE PHOTOGRAPHS WERE TAKEN, THEY LOADED ON HELICOPTERS OF THE 116TH ASLT HEL CO (HORNETS), AND WERE FLOWN INTO A BATTLE AREA TO ASSIST THEIR SISTER BATTALION ON A SEARCH AND DESTROY OPERATION. FOR THAT DAY AT LEAST, THEIR HATED WAITING WAS OVER.
Page 6 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS Aug 21, 1967
25th MEDCAPs Aid 200,000 Villagers
"MEDCAP" is a term which has become part of the everyday language of the 25th Div soldier. He uses the word as commonly as he talks about machine guns, grenade launchers, Army food and when he's going home. And well he should, for "MEDCAPS," or medical civic action programs, are just as much a part of the war in Vietnam as any of these things.
Since arriving at Cu Chi 17 months ago, medical teams from the "Tropic Lightning" division have treated more than 200,000 Vietnamese citizens. Teams, consisting of at least one Army doctor and several enlisted medics, spend part of the time on each field operation "medcapping."
In addition, each division unit with its own medical staff has been assigned a specific hamlet or village in the area near the base camp. Teams from the assigned unit visit their village at least twice weekly, following a regular schedule. This system, devised by the division's G-5 (Civil Affairs) section, works best, claim the doctors, because it gives them a chance to follow-up on treatment.
When not busy with GI patients, one or more of the division's 20 dentists may accompany the regular MEDCAP team. It is not uncommon for a dentist to pull 100 teeth on a four-hour visit to a nearby village. Vietnamese oral hygiene is very poor, and the problem is compounded by betel nut chewing.
|PUZZLED PATIENT - Listening intently to Vietnamese interpreter, Nguen Van Ky, age 78, shows puzzlement as he learns that he is the 25th Inf Div's 200,000th MEDCAP patient. (Photo by SP4 Webb)|
|IT'S COLD - CPT Anthony Caprio of the 25th Med Bn listens to a small boy's heart beat. Many small children like this have been treated by MEDCAP teams which consist of at least one Army doctor and several enlisted medics. (Photo by PFC George Pullen)||CROWDED SHOWER - Small children of Phouc Hiep crowd around a shower point awaiting their turn to be bathed. The shower was set up by men of the 725th Maint Bn, on a recent MEDCAP. (Photo by PFC George Pullen)|
Airmen Are Awed
A group of U.S. Air Force pilots and crewman who have been pounding enemy targets from the air received a first hand view of Army ground operations during a recent visit to the 25th Inf Div.
Twelve officers and enlisted men from a B-52 Squadron witnessed a demonstration of artillery fire when they visited a fire support base. As part of an orientation program Btry B, 3d Bn, 13th Arty, fired several salvos to show the visitors the capabilities of the 155mm self-propelled howitzers.
The airmen, from the 3d Air Div based at Guam, have been pounding the Viet Cong for months but have seldom seen any actual fighting. To get a better understanding of the problems encountered on the ground, these pilots and crewmen are touring Vietnam.
TSgt Francis DeSio explained, "The war seems remote to a lot of us on Guam. We can't even see the ground most of the time."
DeSio, a gunner, recalled the air-conditioned billets and hot showers back on Guam as he walked past tents and sandbagged bunkers in the battery area.
"I thought morale was pretty low over here but these guys are really great. They've got a wonderful spirit," said DeSio as he watched the cannoneers in action.
The airmen watched in awe with hands clapped to their ears as the 155mm howitzers thundered. As powder smoke swirled around the group, a pilot best described the firepower of the artillery with his one word comment, "Fantastic!"
Viet Cong Awakened By 4th/9th
Acting on a tip that three high-ranking Viet Cong officials were hiding in Rung Cay hamlet, the 25th Inf Div's Co B, 4th Bn, 9th Inf "Manchus," set out to search and seal the village.
Once in position, CPT Alfred W. Baker, the commanding officer, gave the order to move in and search. 1LT Kenneth J. King of St. Louis, Mo., was the first man in the target hut, where he found a man asleep on a bed. Nudging the man's head with his .45 cal. pistol, King urged, "Hey, buddy, wake up - you have some visitors!"
As the sleeping figure became aware of what was happening, movement was heard beneath the bed.
Upon interrogation they learned that these Viet Cong were liaison officer, propaganda teacher and body guard, respectively.
RC Girl Fascinated With RVN
Fascinated with Vietnam, Miss Laurae Fortner of Sterling, Colo., returned to the country which fascinates few.
Laurae, the director of the American Red Cross Clubmobile at the 25th Inf Div, traveled in Vietnam in 1963 with her brother, Don Fortner.
An agricultural advisor, Don served with the International Voluntary Services (IVS). IVS provides young college graduates to teach English and carry out agricultural extension work.
She traveled from Saigon to Hue, the ancient Imperial City, then to Da Lat, Ban Nu Thont and back to Saigon during her two month stay. In each town she and her brother stayed with IVS personnel.
Traveling by air, bus and jeep, Laurae saw a great deal of the country and its people. She was impressed with the hospitality of the Vietnamese people and the beauty of the countryside.
Now Laurae has served almost a year in Vietnam with the Red Cross. What changes has she noticed during her second tour?
"The people and the land have not changed," she says. "When I was here in 1963 there were few soldiers, only advisory teams," she added.
VC Catch Wins R&R
SP4 John Gidney and SP4 Donald Brown spent three luxurious days at the in-country R&R center at Vung Tau for capturing a Viet Cong apiece.
The two infantrymen of the 2d Bn, 27th Inf, were taking advantage of a new program within the 25th Inf Div's 2d Bde that awards a man a free three day R&R for capturing an enemy soldier.
The program is aimed at raising the level of enemy intelligence in the Operation "Kolekole" area. The combat operation has already killed more than 200 Viet Cong southwest of Cu Chi.
"There are many occasions where a VC can be captured," said Bde Commander COL Edwin W. Emerson, "and many possess information on enemy locations and movement that is extremely important to the allied effort in the area."
Page 7 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS Aug 21, 1967
US Citizens Pay Tuition
DAU TIENG - Twelve high school children in the village of Dau Tieng don't have to worry about the tuition for their schooling this year because of a letter writing chaplain in the 3d Bde, 25th Inf Div.
On his arrival in Vietnam in May, Chaplain (CPT) James A. Tobin of Camden, N.J., found that there were many children in Dau Tieng who didn't have the money to pay their tuition to high school - more than 150. The cost of schooling in Dau Tieng varies according to the grade, but an average of nine dollars per student covers the cost for a year.
Knowing that many people in the United States would be more than willing to give nine dollars to educate a child, Chaplain Tobin began writing letters to his former parishes in the New Jersey area, telling them of the children, the country, and the need for education here in Vietnam.
"I felt that I needed to help," said the Irish Catholic Chaplain. "It isn't much money for us but for a Vietnamese family which has trouble keeping the children fed and clothed, nine dollars is a small fortune."
Last week, the first reply to his many letters was received by Chaplain Tobin in the form of a check for 100 dollars from the members of St. Bartholomew's Catholic Church of East Brunswick, N.J. Coordinating with the 3d Bde Civil Affairs Office, Chaplain Tobin arranged to give the money to 12 of the neediest students in the high school.
"This is only the beginning," commented Tobin. "I expect more letters and more money. In a few months, I feel that we will be able to pay the tuition for all the needy students in the school."
FAC Pilot Spots VC
An alert Air Force forward air controller (FAC) and a fast moving 25th Div infantry reconnaissance team blew the fuse on Viet Cong communications when they killed two ranking guerrillas during an apparent coordination meeting.
The O-1E Birddog pilot spotted the VC in a partial clearing three kms from the area where a jeep patrol from the 2d Bn, 14th Inf. was operating. PSG Lawrence Lackey of Columbia, Ga., was given the location by radio and started out to investigate.
As the two jeeps broke into the clearing, a VC jumped out of a spider hole on their left flank and opened fire with his AK-47 assault rifle. As Lackey shot him with his M-16, a second guerrilla jumped up from the opposite side firing his .45 cal. pistol and was also killed.
According to the documents found on their bodies, one VC was a communication liasion officer between enemy forces in Binh Duong and Tin Diah Provinces, and the second guerrilla was a local force squad leader.
Harrold New CO
DAU TIENG - LTC Thomas Harrold took the colors and command of the 3d Bn, 22d Inf, from LTC James Hilmar in ceremonies recently at Dau Tieng. The battalion's first change of command as an element of the 25th Div included a small party from each element of the unit as the rifle companies continued their assigned missions in the rice paddies and mountains of Tay Ninh Province.
The new commander is a combat veteran. He won a Silver Star and his first award of the Purple Heart at the Battle of Pork Chop Hill during the Korean War. A graduate of West Point, the colonel recently held the position of G-4 of the 25th Inf Div. As to origin, the new commander, smiling, admitted himself to be a Texan by birth and a Virginian by residence.
LTC Hilmar, who took command of the battalion in early April, will be serving at Ft. Leavenworth, Kan., upon his return to the United States. He expressed his regret at leaving, and said that he was certain that LTC Harrold would find the men of the battalion as fine a body of men as any commander could hope to receive. LTC Harrold spoke warmly of the battalion's past record in Vietnam and his wish to maintain the same high standards.
Chief on Tour
"We are over the hump now and will soon have this thing by the tail with a downhill pull," said GEN Harold K. Johnson, the Army Chief of Staff, while addressing a formation of troops at a fire support base of the 4th Bn, 9th Inf.
GEN Johnson was touring the forward base during a visit to 25th Inf Div units. Earlier in the morning he visited Co B, 4th Bn, 23d Inf, in their field location near the Filhol Plantation and observed them exploring a tunnel complex that had been uncovered three days before by the battalion's Co C.
The complex included a hospital room.
The general was accompanied by Sergeant Major of the Army William Wooldridge during his tour of the 1st Bde units.
Attacked by Bees Troopers Retreat
PFC Alan Spencer is feeling sore about the whole thing after a recent combat sweep by the 1st Bn (Mech), 5th Inf.
The 25th Inf Div soldier from Coos Bay, Ore., was a member of an engineer team with the mechanized unit on combat operations 37 kms northwest of Saigon when the carrier he was riding stopped in the middle of a dense thicket.
Track driver PFC Joe Rodriguez of New York City, turned around just in time to see Spencer madly slapping his face and yelling "get us out of here."
"I thought he was crazy," said Rodriguez, "until I heard the buzzing - then we really moved out fast." The tracked carrier had brushed up against a hornets nest and all the bees headed for the nearest target - Spencer.
"They were all over my face and arms," relates Spencer, "and they weren't just there for the ride."
The engineer was flown by helicopter to the division's Cu Chi base camp with 15 stings. After treatment he was returned to the field in good condition, this time adding hornet nests to his list of enemy threats to watch for on combat operations.
Page 8 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS Aug 21, 1967
Mobile Troops Engage Enemy
Just one hour and 25 minutes after the commitment had been made, 750 combat ready troops of the 25th Inf Div's 1st Bde were on their way to the Mekong Delta in support of the 9th Inf Div, 49th Ranger Bn and Vietnamese marines who were engaged in Operation "Coronado II."
The soldiers were flown in Chinooks to the delta region in Dinh Tuong Province about 165 kms south of Cu Chi. Here the allied forces were encountering heavy contact with a main Viet Cong force.
Soon after their arrival at the staging area of My Tho they began helicopter assaults into areas where the trapped VC were escaping. The assaults continued into the evening and soon the units participating in the operation linked together to establish a tight blocking force. During the next two days the helicopter attacks continued, bringing the total assaults for the operation to 16.
Due to the quick mobility of troops, the VC were kept off balance and confused. The enemy, not willing to engage the fresh troops of the 1st Bde, tried only limited probing action. The probing action resulted in six VC killed, two wounded and seven detainees captured.
A nervous old Vietnamese peasant woman led Co C, 4th Bn, 9th Inf (Manchus), to the discovery of 125,000 North Vietnamese piasters.
The company was sweeping an area five miles east of Trang Bang in Tay Ninh Province when they started receiving heavy sniper fire.
It was quickly determined that the fire was coming from four huts on their flank so the Infantrymen from the 25th Inf Div's 1st Bde surrounded the huts and moved in to search them.
PFC Allen R. Golden of San Jose, Calif., a machine gunner in Co C, said, "As we came near one of the huts an old lady began acting very nervous and tried to keep us from entering. We decided that if she didn't have anything to hide she wouldn't be so nervous so we cleared everybody out to give the place a good shakedown."
Nothing of any consequence was found until the Manchumen came upon a small table turned around with its front to the wall. They hit the jackpot after pulling a bunch of rags and cooking utensils out of the front of the table and uncovered a five-inch stack of money wrapped in brown paper.
The money was later confirmed by intelligence as a payroll for the hard-core VC D-14 Co. That operates in the Trang Bang area.
12th Inf Unearths VC BCs
DAU TIENG - Some 65 days into Operation "Diamondhead" in Tay Ninh Province, the 2d Bn, 12th Inf, uncovered what was easily the largest base camp found during the two-month long operation.
The destruction of the entire complex required the larger part of two days as 80 major bunkers were blown the first day, leaving an additional 30-35 left to be destroyed the following day.
Another smaller camp, discovered by the Charlie Co element that same day, contained four large and 35 smaller bunkers. All were destroyed, requiring some 2300 pounds of demolitions to accomplish the task.
The bunkers, some up to 60 feet in length, had been elaborately constructed, with a labyrinthine tunnel complex connecting them. A command center, mess facilities, a complete training area, and large storage areas were also uncovered and destroyed. The main complex showed many signs of recent occupation.
Eighteen hundred pounds of polished rice, six bicycles, a Chicom grenade and fifteen 82mm mortar rounds were also uncovered and confiscated.
Of special note was the careful distribution of the mortar rounds throughout the base camp, all wired as command detonated booby traps. A large portion of the first day was spent in delicately disarming each of the booby traps. They were all detected and disarmed before the Viet Cong could detonate them.
|SWEEPING - PFC Raymond Montoya (left) and PFC Raymond Jones of A Trp, 3d Sgdn, 4th Cav, sweep the Trung Lap Road for mines before track troops use the road. (Photo by SP4 Jack Mraz)|
5 Soldiers Save Drowning Buddy
A 25th Inf Div soldier considers himself mighty lucky to be alive after he went down for the fifth time in a monsoon swollen stream northwest of Saigon.
It took five other members of the 1st Bn (Mech), 5th Inf, to rescue SP4 Kenneth Sweeten after his hand slipped loose from a crossing rope. The stream's current pulled the Stillwater, Okla., soldier under for the first time.
"I was coming up to the crossing," said PVT Benny Martinez a rifleman from Mathis, Tex. "After hearing yells I ran up to the stream in time to see Sweeten bob to the surface and go under again."
Martinez dropped his weapon and field gear and dove in, but the drowning man grasped at him so strongly that they both went under. Seconds later another rifleman attempted the rescue but was also pulled under.
A third man, SP4 Richard Brewer of Royal Oaks, Mich., swam to the site and with the help of two others, pulled Sweeten and the two would-be rescuers to safety.
"He was a very lucky guy," said Brewer. "I have always heard that three times down and you're out."
SP4 Roger King had just joined Co C, 4th Bn, 23d Inf, and was on his first patrol near Bao Cap, when he spotted a Vietnamese peasant sitting in a spider hole.
King's and the peasant's eyes got as big as saucers and neither fired nor made a move for several seconds. King tapped the trooper next to him and asked, "Is that a Charlie?" The VC made his move then, raising his arms straight up to get his RPG-2 rocket launcher out of the narrow spider hole.
Before he could get off a shot, the 25th Div soldiers opened fire but they missed as he ducked back into his hole. They rushed over to the area and found a tunnel leading away from the hole, but Charlie was already gone.
|TIGHT SQUEEZE - Pushing explosives in front of him, SP4 Timothy Bodecker of St. Louis, Mo., crawls through the narrow opening of a Viet Cong tunnel in preparation to destroy it. Bodecker is one of the demolitions men from the 65th Cbt Engr Bn, that is accompanying the 2nd Bn, 14th Inf, on 25th Div search and destroy operations. (Photo by PFC Seymour)|
Gary Hartt, 2nd Bn., 22nd Inf. for sharing this issue,
Kirk Ramsey, 2nd Bn., 14th Inf. for creating this page.
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