Vol 2 No. 42 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS October 23, 1967
|Unit Page||Unit Page||Unit Page||Unit Page|
|1/5 1||2/14 3||27th Land Clearing 8||554 Engr 3|
|1/5 Photo 1||2/14 Photo 3||242 Hel Aslt Spt 6||554 Engr Photo 3|
|1/5 3||2/14 6||3rd Bde 3||65th Engr Photo 4|
|1/5 6||2/14 7||3/13 Arty 6||65th Engr Photo 4|
|1/5 Photo 7||2/14 8||38th Scout Dog 7||AH-1G Cobra Photos 1|
|1/5 7||2/27 6||4/9 1||AH-1G Cobra 1|
|1/8 Arty 1||2/27 Photo 6||4/9 3||HoBo Woods Photos 4|
|1/27 1||2/27 8||4/9 6||Laterite 3|
|1/27 7||25th Inf 1||4/9 7||Laterite Photo 3|
|125th Signal Bn 1||25th Inf Photo 4||4/9 7||Operation Kolekole 1|
|125th Signal Bn Photo 8||27th Land Clr Photo 8||4/23 8|
SLEEK AND DEADLY - The Army's newest helicopter, the AH-1G Huey Cobra-fast, sleek and deadly. (Photo by LT A. R. Karel)
Army's "Cobra" To Strike Back
The Army's newest helicopter - the AH-1G Huey Cobra - was introduced to the 25th Div last week when two of the aircraft were flown here from Bien Hoa for a demonstration of their flight and weapons system capability.
LTC Paul Anderson heads a special volunteer team from the U.S. Army Aviation Test Board at Fort Rucker, Ala., which is conducting in-country pilot training with six of the new helicopters.
Vietnam delivery of the Huey Cobra is expected to begin later this year or early 1968.
It was learned from Anderson that even though the aircraft incorporates the same transmission, engine and rotor system as the older UH-1B model, pilots will still have to go through an 18-hour transition period.
"We feel that with the difference in the agility, speed and armament system, pilots will need the transition training," Anderson explained. "They will receive ten hours of gunnery training and eight hours of flight technique from the front and rear seat."
Two each of the helicopters will be used for flight, maintenance and armament training.
The Cobras are armed with three 7.62 cal. mini-guns and two 2.75 rocket pods. It was disclosed that later production models will have either two grenade launchers or twin mini guns in a nose-mounted turret.
Full specifications were not announced, but Anderson stated that the cruising speed of the new craft is equal to the maximum speed of the UH-1B model because the fuselage is only 36 inches wide cutting air drag by one-third.
'Manchus' Capture Carbines
A recent sweep in the HoBo Woods 25 kms north of Trang Bang, netted the 4th Bn, 9th Inf "Manchus," 34 Chicom carbines.
Bravo Co was completing its part of the operation when third platoon's point man spotted a half-covered hole by the side of the trail, apparently exposed by recent air or artillery strikes.
Investigating the hole, the Manchus uncovered a tunnel. Just inside the entrance were two boxes containing the weapons. Only three had bolts in them, but all were at least partially covered with Cosmoline and fairly well-preserved. There was no estimate of how long the weapons had been there. One of the boxes had disintegrated and the other one was stamped '1945'.
Lady's Club Donates Clothing
The civic action programs being sponsored by various units in the 25th Div are enjoying a large amount of help from the American people.
One such case was reported this week by SP4 David Hargrave, a combat photographer with the 125th Sig Bn from Richmond, Calif.
An article appeared several months ago in the Richmond Independent which disclosed the contents of a letter from Hargrave to his mother, Mrs. Bette Hargrave. It described how his battalion had adopted the Vietnamese ward in the 12th Evac Hosp and how there was a great need for clothing.
In response to the article, a Richmond group called the Widows of World War I headed by Mrs. Majorie Ford, started sending clothing.
"The first few boxes that arrived contained baby clothes," says Hargrave, "but gradually I started receiving adult sizes. I've gotten about 25 packages so far, crammed full of clothing - some new and others used, but all in excellent condition.
The response has been so great that the nurses have been able to give away some of the clothing during MEDCAPS."
Hargrave learned last week that the donors are planning to send Christmas toys. "I'll be rotating before Christmas," Hargrave added, "but one of the nurses will take over for me."
Hargrave was referring to 1LT Phyllis Seaton, who has been working in the Vietnamese ward since January.
"At first Mrs. Ford thought I was a one-man army," says Hargrave jokingly, "but I finally convinced her that the whole battalion is working on the project. We've collected $700 so far just for the ward."
It was learned that quite a few of the soldiers visit the ward during the evening to give the patients cold soda, candy and chewing gum purchased by their own money.
Mech Back From Kolekole
142 - Days In The Field
The 1st Bn (Mech), 5th Inf, recently returned to their Cu Chi base camp after a record of 142 days of continuous mechanized combat. It was the first time many of the soldiers had seen the 25th Inf Div base since May 13.
During the nearly five continuous months in the field, the battalion killed 56 Viet Cong and destroyed the largest ammunition manufacturing and cache area ever uncovered by the Division.
May 13 was the beginning date of the 2d Bde's Operation "Kolekole." The Mech was initially assigned to central Hau Nghia Province.
The area produced only light contact with enemy forces, and the battalion was moved to the Loc Giang, an area long known for its heavy boobytrapping, 40 kms northwest of Saigon.
Giant CH-47 "Chinook" helicopters flew C Btry of the 1st Bn, 8th Arty, into position at the new base known as Diane.
Only days after the base was established, the mechanized battalion uncovered and destroyed a huge Viet Cong base camp capable of sheltering an estimated 600-700 enemy soldiers. The camp lay alongside the monsoon flooded Oriental River.
Soon after, in the same area, elements of the unit scouting a streambed emptied at low tide found a cache of mortar rounds lying in the mud under overhanging grass. At high tide the position was again flooded, this time minus the ammunition.
The find triggered an inch-by-inch search that quickly proved the area to be one vast ammunition storage and manufacturing area.
Underground workshops complete with drill presses, metal forming tools, melting furnaces, and ammunition reloading materials were destroyed.
Most were found by infantrymen on hands and knees probing with knives, bayonets and sharpened bamboo poles.
In all, more than 11,000 small arms rounds, 700 boobytraps, 570 Chinese grenades, 135 mortar rounds, and ten 250 pound bombs were destroyed.
In addition to the ammunition and manufacturing facilities, the battalion accounted for 56 enemy dead. Most of these were a result of the unit's first experience with heliborne operations since they arrived in Vietnam more than one and one half years ago.
Night ambushes along the Oriental River also accounted for their share of the total. Heavy weapons were frequently mounted on the riverbank to intercept night Viet Cong river traffic. This, and search operations, accounted for destruction of 62 enemy sampans.
During the 142 days, the mechanized troopers destroyed 733 enemy bunkers and 179 tunnels. Brigade officials credit the unit with dealing a major blow to local and infiltrating Viet Cong units in the widespread Loc Giang area.
|READY FOR EXTRACTION - Choppers set down to pick up elements of the 1st Bn (Mech), 5th Inf, for another combat assault along the Oriental River. (Photo by SGT Roger Smith)|
Abducted View Officials Escape
Two South Vietnamese government officials kidnapped by Viet Cong who overran a small outpost, recently told how they spent two days chained and blindfolded before escaping to a nearby 25th Inf Div unit.
They were abducted from an outpost near Trang Bang 34 kms northwest of Saigon after it was attacked. They told 2d Bde officials a story of midnight escape while shackled, and hot pursuit by their armed captors.
Running all night through thick jungle despite their chains, the two men stumbled into the forward base camp of the 1st Bn, 27th Inf "Wolfhounds," shortly after dawn.
Knowing little English, they shouted "Chieu Hoi" to perimeter guards and held their hands above their heads as if surrendering. The Vietnamese words are usually used by rallying Viet Cong.
Once inside the perimeter they frantically told interpreters of the Viet Cong force that had pursued them throughout the long night.
The battalion immediately deployed elements to sweep the escape route. As they moved, helicopter gunships overhead spotted VC moving away from the ground troops.
One Viet Cong was killed immediately by gunship fire and soon after one more was killed and two wounded by the ships and ground elements.
Infantrymen captured two AK-47 automatic rifles and one Chinese carbine. The wounded enemy soldiers were treated by battalion medics. As they began to treat the more seriously wounded VC, he attempted to pull a grenade from his belt.
The man was subdued, bandaged and evacuated to a military hospital.
The two government officials, though exhausted, were unhurt, and were returned to their unit at Trang Bang.
Page 2 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS October 23, 1967
They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety
deserve neither liberty nor safety.
|BRONZE STAR (VALOR)|
1LT John J. Ricca, Co A, 2d Bn, 14th Inf
SP4 Kenneth L. Tate, Co A, 2d Bn, 14th Inf
SP4 Richard P. Dawsey, HHC, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
SP4 David L. Burton, HHC, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
SP4 Ronald S. Summers, HHC, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
SP4 William McDaniel, Co A, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
SP4 Donald R. Glover, Co A, 2d Bn, 14th Inf
ARMY COMMENDATION MEDAL (VALOR)
SSG David G. Wilkinson, 25th Admin Co
SP5 David A. Jones, Co B, 725th Maint Bn
SP4 Franklin D. Howard, HH&S Btry, 3d Bn, 13 Arty
|PFC Darrel W. Porter, B Btry, 2d Bn, 77th Arty
PFC Norbert J. Deichl, Co A, 2d Bn, 14th Inf
PFC William Singleton, Co A, 1st Bn (Mech), 5th Inf
ARMY COMMENDATION MEDAL (MERIT)
CPT John C. House, B Btry, 6th Bn, 77th Arty
CPT Earnest A, Levasseur, B Btry, 6th Bn, 77th Arty
SP5 Alvin Griggs, Co E, 725th Maint Bn
SGT Paul R. Micenic, HHC, 25th S&T Bn
SGT Jerry L. Miller, HHC, 1st Bde
SGT Thomas L. Pearson, Co B, 1st Bn (Mech) 5th Inf
SP5 Larry L. Billeter, Co C, 725th Maint Bn
SGT Richard E. Chapman, D Trp, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav
SGT Willie T. Moorman, Co A, 125th Sig Bn
SGT Benson R. Bell, HHC, 2d Bn, 12th Inf
SP5 Raymond Martinez, C Btry, 2d Bn, 77th Arty
SP5 Ronald Conrad, B Btry, 2d Bn, 77th Arty
SGT Jerr L. Cope, C Btry, 1st Bn, 8th Arty
SP5 John R. Futhey, Co C, 725th Maint Co
SP5 Clark B. Lohr, 25th Admin Co
SP5 Gary W. Krahl, HHB, 25th Inf Div Arty
SGT James Cloudeagle, HHC, 4th Bn (Mech) 23d Inf
|SGT Gerald H. Toppen, HHC, 3d Bde
SGT Forest A. Pitre, C Btry, 2d Bn, 77th Arty
SGT Robert J. Birk, HHC, 2d Bn, 12th Inf
SP5 John B. Schrage, Co B, 3d Bn, 22d Inf
SP4 Alston H. Gabriel, Co B, 725th Maint Co
SP4 Patrick R. Leintz, HHC, 25th S&T Bn
SP4 Miguel Pagan, HHC, 4th Bn (Mech), 23d Inf
SP4 Therman K, Roberts, HHC, 25th S&T Bn
SP4 Jewel E. Sanford Jr., HHC, 25th S&T Bn
SP4 Van D. Karg, Co C, 2d Bn (Mech), 22d Inf
SP4 William B. Smith, C Btry, 2d Bn, 77th Arty
SP4 Melvin C. Johnson, HHD, 125th Sig Bn
SP4 Malcolm D. Kaiser, HHD, 125th Sig Bn
SP4 Darrell Armstrong, B Trp, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav
SP4, Charles L. Barber, 25th Admin Co
SP4 John A. Booth, 25th MP Co
SP4 Roger E. Olin, B Trp, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav
AIR MEDAL (VALOR)
CPT Robert D. Fuller, Co A, 25th Avn Bn
CPT John D. Sterrett III, 116th AsIt Hel Co
1LT Jack L. Zelsman, Co A, 25th Avn Bn
1LT Donald W. Doty, Co A, 25th Avn Bn
1LT Ethan R. Norris, Co A, 25th Avn Bn
1LT Joseph Bridges, D Trp, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav
1LT Walter H. McLendon, Co A, 25th Avn Bn
1LT Richard W. Prillaman, D Trp, 3d Sgdn, 4th Cav
WO1 Michael G. Grignot, Co B, 25th Avn Bn
WO1 Wallace R. Paddock, Co A, 25th Avn Bn
WO1 Jon M. Barnhill, Co B, 25th Avn Bn
|WO1 John J. Cooley, Co B, 25th Avn Bn
SGT James B. Harris, Co A, 25th Avn Bn
SGT Gene E. Nix, Co A, 25th Avn Bn
SP4 John Gannon, Co A, 25th Avn Bn
SP4 Albert P. Wright, Co A, 25th Avn Bn
SP4 James P. Hash, Co A, 25th Avn Bn
SP4 Andrew W. Carr, Co A, 25th Avn Bn
SP4 Anthony B. Lazzarini, Co A, 25th Avn Bn
SP4 Ralph W. Gesch, Co A, 25th Avn Bn
SP4 Edward T. Lyons, Co B, 25th Avn Bn
Says Communist Party
North Will Absorb South
The directing force behind the effort to conquer South Vietnam is the Communist Party in the North, the Lao Dong (Workers) Party. As in every Communist state, the party is an integral part of the regime itself. North Vietnamese officials have expressed their firm determination to absorb South Vietnam into the communist world.
Through its Central Committee, which controls the government of the North, the Lao Dong Party directs the total political and military effort of the Viet Cong. The Military High Command in the North trains the military men and sends them to South Vietnam. The Central Research Agency, North Vietnam's central intelligence organization, directs the elaborate espionage and subversion effort.
Under Hanoi's overall direction the Communists have established an extensive machine for carrying on the war within South Vietnam. The focal point is the Central Office for South Vietnam with its political and military subsections and other specialized agencies. A subordinate part of this Central Office is the Liberation Front for South Vietnam. The front was formed at Hanoi's order in 1960.
Its principal function is to influence opinion abroad and to create the false impression that the aggression in South Vietnam is an indigenous rebellion against the established government.
For more than ten years the people and the Government of South Vietnam, exercising the inherent right of self-defense, have fought back against these efforts to extend Communist power south across the 17th parallel. The United States has responded to the appeals of the Government of the Republic of Vietnam for help in this defense of the freedom and independence of its land and its people.
(This editorial was taken from Aggression from the North which was published by Armed Forces Information and Education, Department of Defense.)
Unofficial Berets Are Unauthorized
SAIGON (MACV) - Unofficial headgear will not be worn as part of military uniforms by servicemen on R&R, temporary duty, leave or permanent change of station outside the Republic of Vietnam, a MACV spokesman said recently.
Individuals have been reported wearing unauthorized items of headgear when out of the country.
Particularly noted have been berets of various colors.
Service regulations authorize the wear of the rifle green beret by members of the Army Special Forces, the blue beret by Air Force combat control team members and the maroon beret by Air Force para-rescue recovery specialists. No other berets are authorized to be worn outside of Vietnam, the spokesman said.
Uniforms with distinctive insignia and accessories authorized for wear while serving with Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces in-country will not be worn except as authorized by MACV directive 670-1.
The spokesman said commanders have been directed to take the necessary action to insure those leaving the command are wearing only authorized uniforms and accessories as prescribed in appropriate service regulations.
SAIGON (MACV) - "The Green Light" for additional privileges was flashed for authorized military dependents residing in Korea while their sponsors are serving in Southeast Asia. The Commander, U.S. Forces, Korea, announced a departure from policy that will permit these dependents to use commissaries, APO's and non-appropriated fund facilities.
Authorization for these services begins with the sponsor at his duty station. He must forward a letter of transmittal along with a verified Application for Uniformed Services Identification and Privileges Card (DD Form 1172), correctly filled out, through his personnel officer. After a records check, the letter and form are forwarded to the AC of S, J1, COMUSKOREA, at APO 96301.
By acting quickly to take advantage of this new "plus", the serviceman can help make life easier and less expensive for his wife and family.
OCS Mixup Is Clarified By Army
"There have been some cases of misunderstanding of the choices available to approved OCS applicants who were offered options to remain on the OCS waiting list or make other choices," the Army announced.
In a message to all commands, the DA message said it was the intent of the department that certain allocated applicants would not be affected by the OCS reduction. "Effective 19 Aug 67," the message said, "college option enlistees, in-service college graduates and other in-service applicants with more than 12 months service will be input to OCS between 19 Aug and 15 Jan 68...."
Also, the message said, "Neither should other approved candidates on 19 Aug 67 have been denied OCS." Delay was necessary, it was explained, and the applicants could agree to either be on a waiting list or withdraw as candidates and revert to their original enlistment option.
Army Speeds WO Requests
Processing of applicants for warrant officer flight training can be stepped up now by as much as a month or six weeks, an Army spokesman said.
Requirement for an examining board for applicants has been replaced by field grade Army aviators interviewing applicants. In the past it sometimes was a period of several weeks before enough applications were received to warrant calling a board for examination. The personal interview will determine leadership potential and pass on qualifications for flight training.
Also, the aptitude test minimum score requirement has been lowered from 115 to 110 and the Flight Aptitude Selection Test composite score requirement has been changed from a minimum of 230 to 250.
|MY GOODNESS - Sharon Tate strikes a fetching pose at a Southern California beach. The versatile Hollywood star displays her talents (and filling out of a bikini) in one of her most recent films.|
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. F. K. Mearns . . . . . . . . . . . Commanding General
Maj. Bernard S. Rhees . . . . . . . . . . . Information Officer
1Lt. Larry Rottmann . . . . . . . . . . . . . Officer-in-Charge
SSG Dave Wilkinson . . . . . . . . . . . Editor-in-Chief
SP4 Dave Cushman . . . . . . . . . . . . . Editorial Assistant
Page 3 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS October 23, 1967
All That Is Vietnam Clay Is Not 'Laterite'
To non-engineers, the purpose and use of laterite pits might not be very apparent - after all, why dig deep holes just to get some soil out of the ground?
Well, the problem with the clay type soil normally found in Vietnam is that it is best suited for planting rice. It will turn into a quagmire of mud or into dust (depending on the season) if you try to use it for anything else. This is not very desirable for road building or other engineering projects. As engineers are not in the rice planting business, other type soil material had to be found that was suitable for construction purposes. The type of soil for this purpose, that is available in Vietnam is known as laterite - a reddish, iron rich, rocky type of soil.
At Cu Chi, laterite is hard to find as it is located in only a few areas in the vicinity and often ten feet below ground level. Since the old laterite pit on the edge of the base camp has nearly been exhausted, laterite is being hauled into the camp from a laterite pit located 10 kms east of Cu Chi, operated by D Co of the 554th Engr Bn.
Hauling out of a pit this far away is quite an involved process, which usually starts early in the morning when the engineer and infantry security elements meet at the edge of the base camp to convoy out to the pit.
On arrival at the pit, the area is swept for mines and perimeter security is established. The bucket loaders, dozers and scraper pans then go to work stripping off the "overburden" to get down to the laterite veins, stockpiling the laterite and loading up the trucks while the 290M Scrapers load themselves. Occasionally, work is delayed due to incoming small arms fire and mortar rounds, but after the attack, work is quickly resumed.
The round trip for the loaded hauling equipment from the pit to Cu Chi and back again is a little over one hour. This is a long way to travel for this hard to come by "dirt" - but without it virtually all engineer construction of roads, taxiways, causeways and building foundations would be impossible.
|QUITE A HOLE - Engineers of the 554th Engr Bn leave their mark on the Cu Chi landscape as they extract laterite for base camp construction projects. (Photo by 544th Engr Bn)|
Baseball Is In His Future
A professional baseball trainer for the Minnesota Twins and the White Sox is today hurling grenades for the 25th Inf Div.
PFC Ellis Morris, a rifleman with the 1st Bn (Mech), 5th Inf started out in baseball as a batboy for a local team when he was twelve years old.
"I got the right breaks," says Morris, "and started moving up the ladder." The rungs of the ladder included clubhouse boy, assistant trainer, and finally trainer.
After that he traveled all over the United States working closely with such stars as Harmon Killebrew and Camille Pascual.
His duties included treating and preventing injuries to the players. "Keeping them in shape was the best insurance against injury," explained Morris.
"But the roughest job was trying to keep them from getting run down; most of the time they played seven times a week," he said.
Morris doesn't talk much about the work he is now doing seven days a week, but he does say that baseball is in his future.
"The Army is all right," he says, "but I sure don't have time for baseball. Three days after my discharge from the service I'll be in spring training."
Long Days Worthwhile
DAU TIENG - The men of the Dau Tieng APO have a job which can lead to as many as 12 to 15 hours of work a day.
When asked how they feel about their job, SP4 Paul J. Wetterau of Queens, N.Y., said, "It's simple, the men depend on us, in my opinion," he continued, "nothing is more depressing than going without mail."
On many occasions the mail arrives as late as 8 p.m. The moment it arrives the APO is notified, and within three hours the mail is at the some 14 units located within the 3d Bde, 25th Inf Div.
The eight men working at the APO handle an average of 2000 pounds of mail a day along with the many other services such as money orders, parcel post, and registered mail.
He Hurried Benediction
Chaplain (CPT) Carl H. Burton of Tupelo, Miss., was determined to hold services in a 25th Div forward base camp even if it meant ducking Viet Cong mortar rounds.
Chap Burton had just started services in the 2d Bn, 14th Inf's base camp when an incoming resupply helicopter drew Viet Cong mortar fire.
The chaplain and his congregation scattered for bunkers. Returning to the alter after the short attack, he continued the services.
Moments later another helicopter drew enemy mortar fire, and once again everyone scrambled for the bunker.
"As I resumed the services for the third time," explained the chaplain, "I saw another helicopter approaching, ... said a hasty benediction and everyone scrambled before the first round came in."
Death Brings Contributions
The death of a 25th Div infantryman earlier this year prompted Louisiana high school students to donate candy to a Vietnamese village last week.
Students of the Lafayette Senior High School bought some 240 pounds of candy requesting that it be given to Vietnamese children by the 4th Bn, 9th Inf - the unit that PFC Patrick Murphy was assigned to when he died.
The candy was given out last week by Alpha Co to youngsters in the hamlet of Suoi Cao A in Hau Nghia Province.
|MECHANIZED INFANTRY - Men from Co A, 2d Bn, 14th Inf, pose with Viet Cong bicycles captured during a recent sweep in the HoBo Woods. The bikes were given to needy Vietnamese families in the Cu Chi area. (Photo by SP4 Bill Wermine)|
Page 4-5 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS October 23, 1967
|HELICOPTERS DROP TOWARD LANDING ZONE IN HOBO WOODS UNDER COVER OF SMOKE SCREEN. (PHOTO BY SP5 TERRY RICHARD)|
Infantry, Engineers Team Up In HoBo Woods
Infantrymen and engineers of the 25th Div are sweeping through the HoBo
Woods northwest of Saigon, destroying a 30-year-old Viet Cong sanctuary. Two thousand troops of the 1st Bde began the massive search and destroy
operation Sept. 17 in the Viet tong stronghold, 55 kms from Saigon.
Rome Plows are following close behind the infantrymen leveling portions of the jungle at the rate of 250 acres per day. To date, searchers have found and destroyed four large base camps, more than five miles of tunneling, and hundreds of individual weapons, 25,000 rounds of ammunition, and 69,000 pounds of rice.
|BRIDGE SPANS WERE FLOWN INTO THE 25TH DIV'S OPERATIONAL AREA IN THE HOBO WOODS. A HOOKUP MAN SNAGS CARGO HOOK; BRIDGE SECTION IS AIRBORNE; BRIDGE CREW GUIDES SPAN INTO POSITION. (PHOTOS BY SP5 TERRY RICHARD)|
|65TH ENGR BN POWER BOATS PUSH RAFT UPSTREAM. (PHOTO BY SP4 JIM O'NEILL)|
|SOLDIERS OF THE 65TH ENGR BN TAKE A REFRESHING BATH AFTER A HARD DAY'S WORK. (PHOTO BY PFC GEORGE POLLEN)|
|ARTILLERY SHELLS POUND VIET CONG POSITIONS IN THE HOBO WOODS, 55 KMS NORTHWEST OF SAIGON. (PHOTO BY SP4 BILL WERMINE)|
|A TANK CROSSES BRIDGE SPAN. (PHOTO BY PFC GEORGE PULLEN)|
Page 6 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS October 23, 1967
Struck From Above
'Tropic Lightning' Indeed
Lightning struck twice in a 25th Inf Div forward base camp recently, giving two sergeants some shocking combat stories to tell.
Men of the 1st Bn (Mech), 5th Inf, started tightening tent ropes and covering supplies as monsoon storm clouds rolled over their camp. Medics in the "Big Angel," the battalion aid personnel carrier, lowered their tent flaps to sit out the rain.
"We were all sitting around," explained CPT Edward DeHass, battalion surgeon from Toledo, Ohio, "when all of a sudden, ZAP! The next thing anyone knew we were all lying on the floor."
Seconds later a soldier ran into the aid station shouting, "Hurry, a man's been hit by lightning at the command post."
"Evidently the guy didn't think it odd that we were all laying on our backs with dazed looks on our faces," said SFC Arlie Wolfrum, the medical platoon sergeant from San Antonio, Tex.
"I managed to pick myself up and hobble over to the command post," he explained. There he found a radio operator, SSG Steve Riga of Portsmouth, Ark., sitting on the floor nursing a burned lip. Riga had been talking on the phone when a ball of fire leaped off the set.
"I've been chewed out over the phone before, but this is the first time I've been knocked out over it," Rigajoked as Wolfrum treated the burn.
Not laughing, Wolfrum returned to his aid station to treat the others. "No one was hurt seriously," he said later, "but we do have some stories to tell about lightning striking twice."
He Hides in Homemade Headboard
American furniture manufacturers have built about everything imaginable into the headboards of beds; radios, bookcases, storage shelves.
A Viet Cong guerrilla in Hau Nghia Province has gone them one better - he built himself into the head of a bed.
As Alpha Co, 2d Bn, 27th Inf "Wolfhounds," began sweeping through the village of Lam Vo they spotted a man running behind a building.
A squad was sent to search the building. Inside they found a woman doing her household chores who denied having seen anyone.
Just before leaving, the soldiers noticed what looked like a large box built into the head of a bed.
Squeezed inside they found their man. He immediately admitted being a Viet Cong local force guerrilla and asked to rally under the "Chieu Hoi" program.
Today the former VC is working as a rallier with the 25th Inf Div trying to convince his former friends that no matter where they hide, they can't escape the allied forces.
|WEIGHTED DOWN - A member of the 2d Bn, 27th Inf "Wolfhounds," lugs a 90mm recoilless rifle through high grass during Operation "Kolekole." (Photo by SP4 Joe Carey)|
Cong's Own Punjii Stake Is Fine Probe
Some Viet Cong would probably feel very sheepish if he knew how his woodworking skill led U.S. infantrymen to the capture of some very valuable weapons and equipment.
PFC Lonnie J. Robbins of Caryville, Tenn., and other members of Co C, 2d Bn, 14th Inf, were detailed to get poles in order to search the brush along the Saigon River during a search and destroy operation.
Robbins chose a pole that had been a VC punji stake. "It had a sharp point on the end that looked as if care had been taken to carve it," said Robbins.
As they probed in the heavy brush along the river, Robbins poked his pole into a plastic covered and camouflaged 55-gallon drum. In the drum was a complete 60mm mortar, tools, cleaning equipment, grease, a Chinese claymore and many documents. A company spokesman mentioned the mortar is going to be put back in use but this time on the side of the allies.
Robbins said, "Everybody was happy about the find, it really hurt the VC."
Arty Support Base Blasted By Enemy
During a recent attack by VC on the 3d Bn, 13th Arty, RPG-2 rockets and 82mm mortars pounded the area wounding 21 artillerymen. The cannoneers of the general support unit blasted the Viet Cong position with direct counter mortar fire resulting in an unknown number of enemy casualties.
Bravo and Charlie batteries supported by the battalion headquarters were at a fire support base in the vicinity of Trung Lap when an unusually heavy call for artillery depleted ammunition stores. A night resupply was requested and the 242d Hel Aslt Spt Co responded.
SP4 John C. Baker of Bravo Btry, was manning a perimeter defense bunker when the Chinooks arrived with 155mm shells and powder. Baker, from Hamilton, Ohio, recalls, "Two Chinooks had already dropped their cargo and the third was just setting down with a load of high explosive shells when a sharp crack stunned me."
"There were more explosions behind me and I figured they had gotten the chopper." He continued, "as my head cleared I saw muzzle flashes from the tree line so I started firing my M79 as fast as I could."
What Baker didn't know was that an RPG-2 rocket had scored a direct hit on the top of his bunker ripping through the layer of sandbags and tearing a three foot hole through the steel plates on the roof.
"I'm glad I couldn't see that hole in the dark. I probably would have passed out," Baker said with a smile the next day.
The CH-47 received ten hits but did not fall. The crew managed to regain altitude and fly the crippled ship back to Cu Chi where the pilot was treated for minor shrapnel wounds.
With mortars still smashing into the battalion area the four available medics worked feverishly to bandage the wounded.
PFC Ronald E. Byrd, Bravo Btry medic from Humbolt, Tenn., headed for the perimeter but never reached it.
"I heard guys yelling for a medic by the Fire Direction Center so I turned and went back. When I got there the sergeant major and several others were wounded," said Byrd.
Byrd finished caring for the wounded and was organizing medical evacuation when shouts for a medic came from the direction of the mess truck.
As Byrd was running towards the truck he was knocked down by a mortar round blast.
"I felt something like a needle hit my thigh but all I could think of was getting to the guys calling for me," recalled Byrd.
Although wounded, Byrd continued aiding the wounded until he was evacuated by helicopter.
As the artillerymen started cleaning up and bracing themselves for another possible attack their hearts and thoughts were of the four medics and their valiant efforts to treat the wounded cannoneers, who all survived.
Maybe Saving For A VC Paper Drive
Two men of the 4th Bn, 9th Inf, already know the news for Nov. 21 - for the year 1940 that is.
PFC Jesus Chavez of Sacramento, Calif., and Kevin B. Sullivan of East Hartford, Conn., were with Bravo Co in a 25th Div operation in the HoBo Woods, assigned to an observation post.
"When Sullivan and I went out to the OP, we saw a hooch about 50 meters to our front," Chavez explained. "We checked it out and found a small stack of newspapers in one corner.
"You could just about make out the print of the top paper after we brushed the dirt and cobwebs off the stack. It was from Oakland, Calif., and the date was Nov. 21, 1940," he added.
Page 7 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS October 23, 1967
Dog Is Bewildered During Memorial
Men of the 25th Inf Div's 38th Scout Dog Plt gathered recently to pay tribute to one of their members killed in action against the Viet Cong.
The saddest member of all of them never said a word, but glanced repeatedly at the weapon and beret of his master.
Held at the 1st Bn, 27th Inf "Wolfhound's" chapel, the service was in memory of SP4 Bobby J. Shelton of Flagpond, Tenn., who was killed while on a search and destroy operation deep in the HoBo Woods."
"Paddy, his dog, took it hardest of all," said Plt Leader First Lieutenant John Anderson. "All morning he wandered around looking for him."
Paddy was trained at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, and was one of the dogs to arrive with the unit in Vietnam in July of 1966. Paddy has been on continuous combat operations with the 25th Div since that time.
Shelton was a product of the 38th Plt's own training program given at the unit's Cu Chi base camp. The program accepts volunteers from within the division and trains them to be combat dog handlers.
"Paddy will be retrained to another master," says Anderson, "but it takes a while to adapt to someone new."
No Men Sure Sign
A recent helicopter combat assault by Co D, 4th Bn, 9th Inf, really paid off. The targets were suspected Viet Cong medical resupply points located about 14 kms north of Trang Bang in Tay Ninh Province.
In one area they found a sure sign of VC activity - no men over 12. Several tunnels were discovered after a false well bottom caved in. The tunnel system built out of reinforced concrete, yielded several boxes of ammunition.
The next landing was half a mile further west. "It was the same story as before," said 25th Div Plt Leader 2LT Thomas Fisher of Glenshaw, Pa., "no man over 12. Just women and children.
"As we entered the hamlet two young women made a dash for the woodline. Even though the girls had a 75 meter head start on us, two of our men caught them after a 700 meter chase. When they were caught, one of the girls was attempting to jam some papers into a hole in the dike.
"Neither of the girls had an ID card, and the papers turned out to be a wad of money - around 10,000 piasters! Some local VC probably won't get paid this month," Fisher concluded.
|ALL ABOARD - Hauling its own firepower, an armored carrier of the 1st Bn (Mech), 5th Inf, moves out on the 25th Div Operation "Kolekole." (Photo by SGT Roger Smith)|
Carelessness Kills Guerrilla In HoBo Woods
Four Viet Cong wandered too close to the 4th Bn, 9th Inf, lines in the HoBo Woods and one paid for his carelessness with his weapon and his life.
The guerrillas apparently thought they were far from enemy lines for they strolled unconcerned down a trail to within 10 feet of the company's perimeter.
At the cry of "Halt!" the startled Viet Cong tossed two grenades wildly and ran.
"I heard the grenades and then saw this Charlie run right in front of me," said PFC Freddy B. Harmon of Olney, Ill. "I fired three rounds at him, he ran about 10 meters and fell."
The 25th Div soldier retrieved a Russian AK-47 from the body.
This Weapon He Can Keep
SSG Donald Glover of Dunn, N.C., finally has found a weapon he can keep.
In August, during a 2d Bn, 14th Inf, river assault Glover uncovered two weapons - a Chinese Communist machine gun and an automatic carbine. Because they were automatic he had to turn them in.
On Sept. 21, as his platoon was moving along a trail, Glover spotted the stock of a Chicom carbine sticking only a few inches out of the ground near a bomb crater.
"The weapon was in beautiful shape," said Glover. "It meant a lot finally to be able to claim one."
Not Always A Foot Soldier
"I always thought the infantry was a foot outfit but I've found out that it has a little Air Force and Navy mixed in too," commented a 25th Inf Div soldier after a recent operation.
First call for the 1st Bn (Mech), 5th Inf, came in the brisk dark hours of early morning. The sleepy-eyed men dragged themselves out of the sack, shaved, and ate chow under the stars. At 4 a.m. the order was given to move out.
Heavily loaded with extra ammunition, C-rations and weapons, the 1st Plt of Charlie Co left their night perimeter and began the long trek to the Oriental River.
Their mission was to set up a blocking force for the 27th inf which was conducting a sweep on the far bank.
Mid-morning, and the troops were in position keeping an eye on the river for Viet Cong attempting to swim to safety.
Just before noon a mammoth CH-47 "Chinook" helicopter carrying a large engineer assault boat slung beneath it hovered over the water in front of the platoon and landed its load.
Ten platoon members were added to the boat's three man crew and for the rest of the day the tiny group of "sailors" patrolled the river banks.
As the operation came to a close the Chinook returned and flew boat and crew to the Div's Cu Chi base camp.
That evening, the infantrymen mounted their armored personnel carriers and returned to the battalion's forward base.
"It was quite a day," said platoon leader 2LT Mickey Miller of San Diego, Calif.
Mess Sergeants' Rank Upgraded
The upgrading of ranks for mess sergeants and first cooks has been announced by the Department of the Army in a circular which reached the field last month.
Effective Oct. 1, company-level or team mess sergeants are authorized the top grade of E-7. At the same time it was announced that authorized slots for first cooks have been upgraded to SSG E-6.
THE 25th INFANTRY DIVISION
Now Available to all Servicemen, Their Families and Friends.
Since October 1966, the "Tropic Lightning" Division has held four full-scale
operations and participated in hundreds of smaller missions. Throughout the Boi
Loi and Ho Bo Woods, the Michelin and Filhol Plantations, and the many nameless
but not forgotten swamps and rice paddies of Vietnam, the 25th Infantry Division
has compiled an impressive record of military and civic action achievements.
Page 8 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS October 23, 1967
|WEAPONS CACHE - This weapons cache was uncovered by Rome Plows of the 27th Land Clearing Team, which is working with elements of the 25th Inf Div in the HoBo Woods. (Photo by SP4 Hugh Wyatt)|
Weapons, Clothing Caches Uncovered In HoBo
A quantity of weapons and ammunition critically needed by the Viet Cong, has been uncovered in the HoBo Woods by elements of the 25th Div. A Rome Plow from the 27th Land Clearing Team uncovered a tunnel containing a cache of large caliber weapons and munitions. Tunnel rats from the 2d Bn, 14th Inf, found three mortars, a Chinese and two World War II Japanese machine guns, four French submachine guns, two Chinese rifles and three .30 cal. machine guns.
Also found were 4,100 rounds of .50 cal. ammunition, 43 rounds of 75mm recoilless rifle ammunition and 10 Chinese claymore mines. Some 50 meters from the tunnel, searchers found a second cache containing 400 pounds of clothing and uniforms.
The plows have been clearing portions of this former Viet Cong sanctuary at the rate of 250 acres a day.
'White Warriors' Discover Large Base Camps, Bunkers
DAU TIENG - During a recent search and destroy mission southeast of the 3d Bde., 25th Inf Div's base camp at Dau Tieng the "White Warriors" of the 2d Bn, 12th Inf, uncovered a number of Viet Cong base camps.
The six day sweep under the command of LTC R. D. Tice, has deprived the local VC forces in this area of their base of operation.
On the third day of the sweep Bravo Co uncovered the largest camp which consisted of a total of ten buildings and a number of well constructed bunkers. Situated in the buildings were a classroom, supply room, mess hall, workshop, command post, club, and what looked to be a Viet Cong stockade. Found within the buildings were documents of the National Liberation Front and other VC propaganda.
The six-day sweep netted a total of over five tons of polished rice, destruction of sixty-two bunkers and the freshly dug graves of eight VC.
French Sedan Found
1st Bde units have found all manner of unusual objects in the HoBo Woods - cameras, printing presses and type for instance. But the latest find tops the unique list.
On a search and destroy mission approximately 19 kms north of Cu Chi Bravo Co, 4th Bn, 23d Inf, discovered a small trail that apparently reached a dead end in heavy brush.
The undergrowth turned out to be camouflage though, and the hidden trail continued to a bomb crater. Here the Tomahawks uncovered a small, light-green foreign sedan - a '58 or '59 Simea Aronde.
The interior was torn-up, and the body somewhat weatherbeaten, with bullet holes in the roof and left-hand door. The hood was jammed shut and the motor could not be turned over, but there was a smell of fresh gasoline in the area. All four tires were inflated.
A French-type license tag found on the car has been turned over to officials in Saigon in an effort to trace the owner.
Squad Leader Trips VC Trap
More than one hundred men had already safely filed down a narrow jungle trail when a 25th Inf Div soldier detonated a Viet Cong boobytrap.
SGT Bobby L. Mitchell, a squad leader with the 2d Bn, 27th Inf "Wolfhounds," was taking part in a search operation when his company began moving down the trail.
Near the end of the column, Mitchell's foot tripped the VC trap and the mud beneath him erupted.
"I really didn't know what happened," he explained later, "I knew I had hit a boobytrap, but I felt all right."
The explosive device had detonated with only a fraction of its full power.
|UNPACK - SP4 David Hargrove and CPT Ellen Langston unpack several boxes of clothing donated to the Vietnamese by residents of Richmond, Calif. (Photo by SP4 John Seymour)|
Jim Reynolds, 125th Signal Battalion, for sharing this issue,
Kirk Ramsey, 2nd Bn., 14th Inf. for creating this page.
This page last modified 05-09-2006
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