Vol 4 No. 21 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS May 26, 1969
|Unit Page||Unit Page||Unit Page||Unit Page|
|1/27 1||2/22 Photos 7||4/23 4||65th Photos 4|
|1/27 Photo 1||2/22 8||4/23 Photo 4||65th Engr 8|
|1/27 8||2/22 Photo 8||4/23 Photo 5||65th Photos 8|
|1/27 Photo 8||319 Avn 3||588 Engr 4||7/11 Arty 4|
|1/27 8||319 Photo 3||588 Photos 4||7/11 Photo 4|
|2/12 1||3/22 4||588 Engr 6||725 Maint 3|
|2/22 1||3/4 Cav 6||588 Photos 6|
|2/22 7||4/23 3||65th Engr 4|
102 NVA Die, Huge Cache Taken
3d Brigade Scores in Trapezoid
By SP5 JACK ANDERSON
DAU TIENG - Infantrymen of the Tropic Lightnings 3d Brigade continued mop up operations after they had successfully overrun a huge enemy base camp area in the Trapezoid, killing 102 of the defenders. They also detained one suspect during two days of fighting.
On the first day, troopers from four infantry companies discovered 36 enemy bodies, many of them sprawled in heavily fortified bunkers concealed in the thick bamboo. During sweep operations on the second day, they found an additional 57 enemy bodies and killed nine more enemy soldiers.
Many of the enemy dead were attributed to a series of eight tactical air strikes and more than 4,400 rounds of artillery that were poured into the area while the infantrymen assaulted the bunker complexes.
The four-company force was responding to a tip from a hoi chanh who told officers that an entrenched enemy unit, some 200 to 250 men, would fight to the last man defending what he said was a large arms and food cache for the planned summer offensive. Later, a detainee stated there were 200 to 400 men in the area.
"The hoi chanh spoke only Vietnamese during most of the operation," said Major Jerry Holliday of Memphis, Tenn. operations Officer of 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Wolfhounds. "All of a sudden, he started shouting in English as we approached a woodline. It was at this time when he told us about the enemy force," Holliday said.
See page 7 for a photo feature by SP5 Jack Anderson covering the 3d Brigade operation.
On the first day of operations, the U.S. force pulled back twice to let its artillery and air support soften the area more thoroughly, before it successfully overran the bunker complexes. "The RPGs were falling in on us like rain that first day," said Captain Raymond Kauffman of Lexington, Ky., commander of Charlie Company, 2d Battalion (Mechanized), 22d Infantry. "We had two APCs damaged on the first assault," he said.
Later in the day, when the troopers succeeded in penetrating the enemy defenses, they found heavily fortified bunkers that were almost indestructible. "Those fortifications were so thick and well constructed that our tracks couldn't even crush them when we ran over them," said Captain David Crocker of Old Mystic, Conn., Alpha Company 2/22 commander.
The going was a little easier on the second day of fighting. "We didn't meet much opposition," the Wolfhounds' Holliday said. "Most of the enemy had been killed the day before by small arms, air and arty. But we did find big, wide trails leading south and west, and it looked as if they had dragged a lot of the cache away. I don't see how they could have had much left because they fired almost everything at us the day before."
One of the most important discoveries of the operation was an estimated 49,000 pounds of rice found in several caches near bunker complexes. The troopers also discovered 1,400 pounds of salt, 12 AK-47 assault rifles, four crew-served weapons, four rifle (Continued on Page 7)
BAMBOO AND DENSE undergrowth slow down search efforts in this base camp. These Wolfhounds from the 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry, are searching for bunkers and food caches to add to the more than 49,000 pounds of rice found nearby.
Hawaii Comes to the Tropic Lightning Division
CU CHI - Someday, perhaps, the subject and verb of the headline above will be transposed, but for the time being 25th Division soldiers will be satisfied with a little bit of Hawaii coming to the Tropic Lightning Division. For a while, members of B Company, 2d Battalion, 12th Infantry, thought they were in Hawaii .
It certainly didn't look like the hot, dusty place they have become accustomed to. There were palm trees, green grass, lounge chairs with sun umbrellas and even a snack bar selling stateside hamburgers and pizza.
But most of all there was the swimming pool, "Waikiki East."
The Warriors were the first stand-down unit to enjoy the new swimming pool at Cu Chi base camp. And enjoy it they did. Courtesy of the management, the opening day crowd had free beer, soft drinks and free food.
General Ralph E. Haines, commanding general of the United States Army, Pacific, was there for the opening ceremonies to cut the ribbon and say:
"I am proud to have a role in opening this grand new swimming pool which is a credit to the ingenuity and imagination of the Tropic Lightning Division."
The pool took four months to construct. Its design is as "Hawaiian" as possible, a reminder that Tropic Lightnings home is in Oahu, Hawaii, at Schofield Barracks. A Hawaii state flag flies proudly over the pools bath house.
Major General Ellis W. Williamson, commander of the 25th, escorted General Haines to the pool after a survey of the Division area of operations earlier in the day.
The generals were met at the entrance to the pool by Sergeant First Class Mauna Maunakea of Honolulu and Specialist 4 Gaylord Defries of Kahului, Maui. Both were decorated with the traditional leis.
It didn't take long after the official opening for the Warriors to start whooping it up.
"It really makes a stand-down seem like a vacation," said one infantryman.
SO EXCITED he doesn't know which end is up. At least thats the way it looks as this diver seems to enter the Waikiki East pool with his forefeet first. (PHOTO BY SP4 PAUL IADEROSA)
About this time each year back in the world everyone is reminded that school will be out soon and safe-driving season is approaching. This season, as every season in Vietnam, is safe-driving season. Whether on base camp or on the open rood, safety depends on you.
Page 2 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS May 26, 1969
|BRONZE STAR MEDAL (HEROISM)|
|MAJ Milton D. Ewanus, HHC, 2d Bn,
CPT Theodore Flannagan, HHC, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
CPT Michael D. Jackson, B Trp, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav
CPT Walter L. Mayhew, HHB, 2d Bn, 77th Arty
1LT Charles J. Johnston, 25th MP Company
1LT James McKinley Jr., Co C, 1st Bn, 5th Inf
CSM Charles L. Smith HHB, 2d Bn, 77th Arty
SFC Ronald D. Cooper, HHB, 2d Bn, 77th Arty
SFC Homer R. Beck, HHB, 2d Bn, 77th Arty
SFC Robert A. Maxey, B Trp, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav
SFC Paul D. Jarvis, HHC, 1st Bn, 27th Inf
SFC Ransom Jordan Jr., B Btry, 2d Bn, 77th Arty
SSG Frederick W. Hallman, A Trp, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav
SSG Manuel R. Tafoya, A Trp, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav
SSG Joseph Haggwood, HHB, 2d Bn, 77th Arty
SSG Thomas P. Furtney, HHB, 2d Bn, 77th Arty
SSG Brin P. Hessinger, Co C, 1st Bn, 5th Inf
SGT Harrison L. Cook, HHC, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
SGT Ronald E. Dummer, C Btry, 2d Bn, 77th Arty
SGT Steven M. Sutphin, C Btry, 2d Bn, 77th Arty
SGT James H. Weifenbach, HHB, 2d Bn, 77lh Arty
SGT Gary Mannich, 25th MP Company
SGT Orville L. Kurth, HHC, 1st Bn, 5th Inf
SGT Russell Seep, C Trp, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav
SGT Hector N. Nadal, HHC, 1st Bn, 27th Inf
SGT Dennis M. Rogue, Co C, 1st Bn, 5th Inf
SP5 Harold T. Gillespie, Co E, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
SP5 Bradford E. Turgeon, Co C, 65th Engr Bn
SP5 Frank R. Rodriguez, C Btry, 2d Bn, 77th Arty
SP5 Robert L. Hull, HHC, 1st Bn, 27th Inf
CPL William D. Burson, C Btry, 2d Bn, 77th Arty
SP4 Vincent J. Vizzari, HHB, DIVARTY
SP4 George W. Jones, HHB, 2d Bn, 77th Arty
SP4 Randy W. Engelgau, Co B, 4th Bn, 23d Inf
SP4 Ramon Perez, Co B, 2d Bn, 14th Inf
SP4 Michael L. Flanary, B Btry, 1st Bn, 8th Arty
SP4 David E. Peterson, C Btry, 2d Bn, 77th Arty
SP4 Phillip A. Tatum, Co D, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
SP4 Richard J. Foshey, HHC, 1st Bn, 27th Inf
SP4 David S. Hamilton, HHC, 1st Bn, 27th Inf
SP4 Peter J. Arnone, Co B, 1st Bn, 27th Inf
SP4 Clement M. Brierly, Co E, 1st Bn, 27th Inf
SP4 Michael L. Arbogast, Co E, 1st n,. 27th Inf
SP4 Gregory L. Rush, HHB, 2d Bn, 77th Arty
SP4 Phillip L. Fadley, HHB, 2d Bn, 77th Arty
SP4 Kenneth J. Pierce, HHB, 2d Bn, 77th Arty
|SP4 Stanley W. Serich, HHC, 1st
Bn, 27th Inf
SP4 Joseph Hamilton, HHC, 1st Bn, 27th Inf
SP4 Kim C. Perry, HHC, 1st Bn, 27th Inf
SP4 James L. Holton, HHB, 2d Bn, 77th Arty
SP4 Peter J. Smith, Co E, 1st Bn, 27th Inf
SP4 Michael D. Clark, C Btry, 2d Bn, 77th Arty
SP4 Thomas E. Glosgow, HHB, 2d Bn, 77th Arty
SP4 Carl R. Hathaway, Co E, 1st Bn, 27th Inf
SP4 Clifton McMennamy, 25th MP Company
SP4 Rodney A. Martin, Co E, 1st Bn, 27th Inf
SP4 Bill Shrawder, HHC, 3d Bde
SP4 Thomas A. Lange, B Trp, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav
SP4 Jack E. Noble, B Trp, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav
SP4 Marion T. Johnson, B Trp, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav
SP4 James L. Ball, B Trp, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav
SP4 David Navarro, B Trp, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav
SP4 Stephen W. Marriman, A Trp, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav
SP4 Edward A. Bodzinski, C Trp, 3rd Sqdn, 4th Cav
SP4 Robert M. Grape, Co A, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
SP4 Melvin La Bostrie, Co A, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
SP4 Anthony E. Ippolito, C Trp, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav
SP4 John Stewart, Co A, 1st Bn, 5th Inf
SP4 Hobart M. Matcalfe, A Trp, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav
SP4 Martin W. Frantz, Co C, 65th Engr Bn
SP4 George E. Chavez, Co C, 1st Bn, 5th Inf
SP4 Stephen D. Dodd, Co C, 1st Bn, 5th Inf
SP4 David K. Keyes, Co C, 1st Bn, 5th Inf
PFC Bobby D. Martin, 2d Bn, 77th Arty
PFC Ronnie N. Blackburn, Co C, 2d Bn, 12th Inf
PFC Marion A. Woodfork, Co C, 2d Bn, 12th Inf
PFC Glen Bambulat, Co D, 2d Bn, 12th Inf
PFC Marinez A. Bejito, Co D, 2d Bn, 12th Inf
PFC Daniel A. Latshaw Jr., Co D, 2d Bn, 12th Inf
PFC Daniel D. Overkamp, Co E, 1st Bn, 27th Inf
PFC John R. McIntosh, Co B, 1st Bn, 27th Inf
PFC Charles J. Rock, Co B, 3d Bn, 22d Inf
PFC Charles E. Chance, Co E, 1st Bn, 27th Inf
PFC Duarl G. Richardson, HHB, 2d Bn, 77th Arty
PFC John C. Helton, HHC, 1st Bn, 27th Inf
PFC Wilken R. Walker, Co E, 1st Bn. 27th Inf
PFC Wesley J. Wilber, Co A, 3d Bn, 22d Inf
PFC Joseph C. Topasna, Co B, 1st Bn, 5th Inf
PFC Robert S. Gottshall, B Trp, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav
PFC Steven Poe, B Trp, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav
PFC Vince H. Salveston, B Trp, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav
PFC Leon Siebert, B Trp, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav
Over $1,000 per day
VRB Cache at Re-Up Office
The 25th Infantry Divisions re-enlistment office has paid out over $100,000 in variable re-enlistment bonuses during the past three months.
Thats a lot of VRB, more than a 100 per cent increase over the previous three months' figures. One thousand dollars per day or more are being paid in bonuses, and all indications are that the high rate of payments will continue.
"The money spent is well worth it though," Major Fredrick Bangasser, Tropic Lightnings Re-enlistment Officer, said.
"The 25th Infantry Division has the best people anywhere, and by persuading these quality people to re-enlist, the government is saving money in the long run."
It is difficult to put a price tag on the worth of top quality personnel who are already trained and accustomed to Army life, but Major Bangasser indicates that the 25th has every intention of keeping the price high.
"We expect Junes VRB payments to exceed those of any of the three previous months," the major said. Theres a lot of cash involved, no doubt about it. Maybe some of it could be yours. Think about it. Call up the Re-Up Office.
Memorial Day Message by Melvin Laird
Memorial Day is an appropriate time for all members of our Armed Forces to reflect on the precious heritage of freedom bequeathed to us by our forefathers. For nearly two centuries - from Lexington and Concord to Vietnam - Americans have fought bravely to defend and preserve this heritage. In so doing, many gave their lives so that our Nation could maintain its freedom and integrity.
As America pays tribute to its war dead on this day, we must realize that only if we cherish our freedom and defend it against all assaults, can we hope to retain it. Our ultimate hope is for an enduring peace that will make the freedom protected by their sacrifice secure for all time.
It is only from the gallantry, patriotism, and devotion to duty of those who have gone before that we, the living, can draw inspiration and dedication. We honor their memory with the promise that America will always remember their contribution to our security in times of peril.
Melvin R. Laird
Tropic Lightning Tots
The Commanding General Welcomes
The Following Tropic Lightning Tots
To The 25th Infantry Division As
Reported By The American Red Cross.
1LT Robert R. Farrar, 25th MP Co, a daughter
SP4 Lorenzo W. Kup, 25th Co, a son
SP4 Dennis Flood, Co E, 65th Engr Bn, a son
SP4 Charles M. Crosly, C Trp, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav, a son
PFC Kirk Votler, Co A, 2d Bn, 12th Inf, a daughter
SP4 Anselmo Quinonez, HHC, 25th Med Bn, a son
SP4 James L. McClaskey, Jr., 242d AHC, a daughter
SP4 David J. Dedrick, HHD, 125th Signal Bn, a daughter
1LT Joseph Krawczyk, Co B, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav, a daughter
1LT William T. Taylor Jr., HHC, 2d Brigade, a son
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 Ellis W. Williamson . . . . Commanding General
MAJ John C. Fairbank . . . . . Information Officer
1LT John C. Burns . . . . . . . . Officer-in-Charge
SP4 Robert Imler . . . . . . . . . . Editor
SP5 Charles Withrow . . . . . . Assistant Editor
SP4 Ralph Novack . . . . . . . . Production Supervisor
VC Rocket Angers Village
TAY NINH - In the hamlet of Binh Phong near Tay Ninh Base Camp, a Vietnamese woman and two small children were killed while they slept huddled together in a house. A Chinese 107mm rocket shattered the houses corrugated tin roof adding more shrapnel to its killing zone.
Without any governmental supervision or encouragement, a group of embittered inhabitants of Binh Phong hamlet banded together to inform their neighbors of the Viet Congs killings.
They constructed a seven foot by four foot cardboard poster: its lettering, with a crude drawing of a Viet Cong and rocket read, "Kill the Viet Cong! The Viet Cong Launched a Rocket That Killed a Woman and Two Children."
Major Clarence M. DeYoung, San Diego, Cal., 1st Brigade Civic Action Officer, stated, "The poster was positioned in the center of the hamlet for days. While people looked at it, other people retold the tragic story and urged their neighbors to resist the Viet Cong."
Accidents Must Be Cut
Recent traffic accident rates in the second Field Forces area of operations have drawn a letter from Lieutenant General Julian J. Ewell, Commanding General.
Accident reports, the letter indicates, daily attest to the lack of attention to defensive driving on the part of the individual and the lack of command interest at all echelons. An analysis of the reports reveals the majority of the accidents could have been prevented had the vehicle operators exercised a greater degree of caution and consideration for others.
During the last six months, 53 Vietnamese citizens and eight US soldiers have died in traffic accidents involving US forces vehicles. During this period 69 US soldiers and 39 Vietnamese civilians were seriously injured.
Because of the concern raised by this poor record, immediate positive, forceful, corrective action is expected of all personnel and all echelons.
Radio Show Needs You
Would you like a new audience for your stories, war and otherwise? Do you know of someone who has something to say? Do you know of singing groups in the Division? Or any unusually interesting people?
If the answer to any of these slightly rhetorical questions is yes, by all means contact SP4 Jack Schmitt in the Tropic Lightning Information Office, Cu Chi phone number 5011.
Chances are good you'll quickly be on one of the Divisions weekly radio programs. You don't have to be a pro to be on the show. You do need something of interest to share with the Division.
Page 3 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS May 26, 1969
ASD Keeps Them That Way
Dau Tieng Runways Safe
By SP5 RICK ADAMS
DAU TIENG - At times the 3d Brigade base camp at Dau Tieng sounds like the artillery center of the world. For most people here, its just a problem of hearing yourself think. But for the 16 men that make up the 319th Aviation Support Detachment, it creates a few more problems.
The 319th is responsible for controlling and directing as many as 1,500 aircraft that use the Dau Tieng runway daily. "Artillery fire missions and circling aircraft don't mix very well - and that is where we come in," stated Private First Class Fred Davis of Monterey, Calif.
The 20-year-old air controller added, "The only time it gets really hectic is when our batteries fire in several directions, which is not uncommon here."
Artillery fire isn't the only hazard that the 319th must advise pilots about. "Several times we've had to tell pilots where to expect ground fire," recalled Specialist 5 Dympse Bowlin, a 25-year-old from Laurel Springs, N.C.
The controllers operate from a tower-booth along the main runway at Dau Tieng. The booth, looking like the bridge of a naval vessel with its FM, VHF, and UHF radio antennas, is perched atop several steel conex containers and affords the ASD team clear view of the air lanes.
"Sometimes we even act as linguists," explained Specialist 4 Charles Eckhardt of Wynot, Neb. "A couple times a week we assist French and Vietnamese pilots, and its really an experience helping them land safely here."
The air controllers' day ends about four hours after they fire up the flare pots which light the runway at night. With the groups constant companion, a dog named Susie, they take a break from the very hectic and pressing job of landing thousands of dollars worth of Air Force and Army aircraft.
Despite the many flight hazards at Dau Tieng, the 319th can boast a spotless record with no accidents in the nine months of controlling air movements here.
CO-ORDINATION - [Photo, above right] A 3d Brigade Cayuse hovers near the 319th Aviation Support Detachment tower as Private First Class Fred Davis of Monterey, Calif., records the latest air movements and Specialist 4 Mike Gironimi, Norway, Mich., directs another aircraft around Dau Tieng artillery patterns. (PHOTO BY SP5 RICK ADAMS)
Ambush Kills Six
TAY NINH - An alert ambush patrol from Company B, 4th Battalion (Mechanized), 23d Infantry, killed six Viet Cong who were preparing two mortar positions. The positions were being readied to launch attacks on a Tropic Lightning fire support base 19 miles north of Tay Ninh City.
"We were lying in the grass when we saw nine VC walk right by us. They calmly started digging twin mortar positions." said Sergeant Richard O. Allen of Enid, Okla. "We waited for a few minutes so they would be wrapped up in their work before we opened up."
In their hasty retreat the enemy left behind one AK-47 rifle, assorted web gear, and twenty 82mm mortar rounds fused and ready to fire.
EASY NOW - [Photo, above right] Specialist 4 John E. Jones of Iowa City, Iowa, finds that the dry way to cross a stream is a bit on the precarious side, especially when the log bridge is half rolled and ready to collapse at any minute. (PHOTO BY SP4 KARL KARLGAARD)
The Brothers Duvall Tour Vietnam Together Again
DAU TIENG - The Brothers Duvall. Sound like a literary classic? No, not really, but their story has epic proportions.
The brothers Duvall, James and Henry, both staff sergeants, have followed each other around the world, courtesy of the U.S. Army. They're both on their second tour in Vietnam now and both were assigned to the same unit they were in on their first tour, 725th Maintenance Battalion.
"On our first tour, we were both assigned to Delta Company as wheeled vehicle mechanics," Henry said. "When I came over for my second tour, I was assigned to Charlie Company, and I was in their orderly room one day and in walked my brother. I had no idea he was over here too."
But that was neither the first nor second time the brothers had been stationed together.
"In 1959, we were together in Korea," Henry said. "We were light weapons infantrymen with the 7th Infantry Division. Then we both went to Ft. Knox, Ky."
After remaining at Ft. Knox for a tour, the Brothers Duvall separated, for a brief time. "I was assigned to Europe," Henry said, "and James went to Fort Hood. I think I got the best deal."
Being stationed together most of the time does have its draw-backs, however. "My brother and I have traded off being each others platoon sergeants almost since we joined the Army," Henry said. "James was my sergeant in Korea, and I was his on our first tour in Vietnam. Naturally, you always give your brother a harder time than the other guys, but I guess weve pretty much evened the score on each other over the years."
Another drawback comes from the administrative red tape involved in having two men of the same name and same rank in one unit. Sometimes, my brothers and my records get confused. Its never anything serious, but, of course, we like to keep them straight. Usually, on our leaves between assignments, we sit down for a couple of hours and carefully go over the records and get things straight again," Henry said.
On this, their second tour in Vietnam, they became separated by a few miles when Henry took a job as career counselor for the Tropic Lightnings 3d Brigade at Dau Tieng. James remained with the maintenance battalion in Cu Chi. Soon, he will return to Korea for a second tour.
"We try to visit each other as often as possible," said Henry. "It sort of makes the time go a little easier."
Will the Brothers Duvall meet again? "I hope so," said Henry. "Id like to see how far we can go with this buddy system."
BROTHERS - Staff Sergeants James (left) and Henry Duvall meet at Dau Tieng base camp. James from D Company, 725th Maintenance Battalion and Henry, a 3d Brigade career counselor have followed each other around the world. (PHOTO BY SP5 JACK R. ANDERSON)
Page 4-5 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS May 26, 1969
Operation Roughrider: A Move to Remember
By SGT HERB BURDETT
TAY NINH - Units of the First Brigade transferred 100 military vehicles laden with tons of equipment, supplies and materials from Tay Ninh to Thien Ngon Special Forces Camp during Operation Roughrider. One U S. Division Commander called it a perfectly planned and flawlessly performed military operation.
Only a few hours earlier infantrymen, artillerymen and engineers had been poised at the gate of Tay Ninh base camp to make the arduous 25 mile trek along Route 22 through War Zone C to the Special Forces camp.
DOZERS, GRADERS and trucks from the 588th Engineer Battalion, charged with constructing a new airfield at Thien Ngon, were weighted down with sandbags to protect the drivers and passengers from enemy bullets, grim reminders the term War Zone C has real meaning.
Major Lloyd Brownfield, the 588th Operations Officer and First Lieutenant Francis Smith, Company D Commander, looked over their last minute plans as vehicles from the 23d Engineer Company took their place in line.
The light, mobile armored vehicles of the 4th Battalion, (Mechanized), 23d Infantry, led the charge accompanied by minesweepers from Company A, 65th Engineer Battalion, and B Battery, 7th Battalion, 11th Artillery. The artillery battery, commanded by Captain John Ricca of Clark, N.J., joined the lead element to deploy their howitzers along the road, providing direct artillery support for the convoy.
"IT WAS OUR JOB to keep the road free of mines and the enemy," said Lieutenant Colonel G. E. Taylor of Shelby, N.C., commanding Officer of the Mech. "We provided flank and point security and stayed right with the engineers, artillerymen and truck drivers all the way," continued Taylor.
Colonel Charles W. Hayward of Andover. Mass., 1st Brigade commander, flew overhead in his command and control helicopter keeping tabs on the convoy and coordinating the many units involved in the operation. Howitzers, pulled by trucks of C Battery, 7th Battalion, 11th Artillery, commanded by Captain Dennis Salz of Newark, N.J.,. could he seen blending in with the other vehicles.
THE SIX 105 howitzers were ready to deploy and protect the forces working at Thien Ngon. An AVLB (Armored Vehicle Launching Bridge) from Company A, 65th Engineers, came into view, sandwiched by two armored personnel carriers. The bridge would be used to span the Soui Tri Bi River, 29 miles farther down the road.
Soon the command and control chopper was hovering over the river. Artillery from Tay Ninh saturated the crucial crossing site near the Cambodian border with hundreds of high explosive rounds. Company C of the 3d Battalion, 22d Infantry, air assaulted in on the heels of the Artillery, and prepared to secure the crossing.
"WE MOVED ACROSS the foundations of an old demolished bridge and set up security on both sides of the river," said Captain William A Vestal of Glendale, Ariz, Commander of Company C. "We were extra cautious because this is a known enemy stomping ground," continued Vestal.
Company B, 3d Battalion, 22d Infantry, under the direction of First Lieutenant Hugh E. Stephens of Charleston, S.C., air assaulted into the jungles near Thien Ngon and swept south to meet its sister company, neutralizing any potential enemy thrust in the area.
Soon the convoy reached the river and the AVLB went to work. The accordion-like bridge raised off its tank tread foundation and quickly spanned the river in less than 40 minutes," said Captain Charles Nichols of Los Angeles, Calif., Commander of Company A, 65th Engineers. "The river bank was dry and solid, allowing us to put the bridge in place with very little preparation," continued Nichols.
Over 100 vehicles of every type and description sped across the quickly laid span. In just a matter of a few short hours the only bottleneck in the entire road had been breached and the convoy had crossed.
A FEW HECTIC hours passed and the supplies were unloaded at Thien Ngon. Dozens of barrels of surfacing material were reeled off their trucks and secured for the night.
Fire Support Base Ord quickly took shape and the Tropic Lightning soldiers settled down to make Thien Ngon their home for the next thirty days, the estimated time to completion of the new airstrip. Company B, 4/23, commanded by Captain Luther Dewalt of Cosby, Texas and C Battery, 7th Battalion, 11th Artillery, dug in to support and secure the engineers.
Over 40 trucks and vehicles, minus the heavy cargoes, were soon on the way back to Tay Ninh. Infantry and Mech. kept watch as the trucks rolled back across the river. The bridge was quickly lifted, collapsed back on its tracks, and joined the convoy.
Over 148 crossings were made across the river without incident. Aside from the normal communications checks and coordinative radio conversations the only message that came across the 1st Brigade tactical radio net that day was the voice of the Commanding General of the 25th Infantry Division. Major General Ellis W. Williamson praised Colonel Hayward for the perfect execution of a difficult and dangerous mission.
A TANK RETRIEVER [Above, right] from the 4th Battalion (Mechanized), 23d Infantry, is a must for this operation. The retriever will be used to off-load boxes of ammo and equipment once they reach Thien Ngon. (PHOTO BY SGT HERB BURDETT)
Photos tell the story of Operation Roughrider. The top left pic shows
engineers of the 588th loading PSP. An Armored Vehicle Launching Bridge from A Company,
65th Engineers, rumbles along Route 22 to Thien Ngon in photo at top right. The center
left shot shows the AVLB in use as a 12-ton grader crosses the Soul Tri Bi River. The
heavy work is underway in photo at center right as an earth mover starts its long task of
leveling the surrounding terrain. Artillery support was established immediately (bottom
left) as 105s from C Battery, 7th Battalion, 11th Artillery, were quickly set up.
The last shot shows part of the 1,200 rounds of ammunition being unloaded. (PHOTOS BY 1ST
PLANE TAKES OFF from the old runway. The
engineers and equipment in the foreground will soon widen and resurface the old runway to
better the landing and taking-off. (PHOTO BY SGT ROGER WELT)
|SWINGING ENGINEER It tales a lot of muscle to trim down the elephant grass at Thien Ngon. This trooper helps to create Fire Support Base Ord. (PHOTO BY SP4 PETE FREEMAN)|
|TRUCKS AND APCs from the 4th Battalion (Mechanized), 23d Infantry, line up to start the long journey home. (PHOTO BY SGT ROGER WELT)|
Page 6 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS May 26, 1969
588th Engr Battalion 'Builds Up' Dau Tieng
DAU TIENG - Soldiers from Company C of the 588th Engineer Battalion are fast becoming known as the 'Home Builders' of the Divisions 3d Brigade base camp at Dau Tieng.
But the dwellings are not always the conventional type and many are not even for people. The newest residents patronizing the construction boom by C Company are huge self-propelled 175mm artillery pieces, sleek cobra gunships, tons of fuel and ammunition, and even several Air Force spotter planes.
"We learned a lesson the hard way when we began constructing homes for the big artillery here," recalled First Lieutenant James Eagan, from New York City. "Our first gunpads couldn't take the tremendous shock and vibration stirred by these monsters, so we had a situation of back to the drawing boards. Now the gunpads we're building will take anything the artillery can hand out."
With more action in War Zone C, aviation units at Dau Tieng needed more protected parking slots for an increased number of helicopters. Getting the most from C Companys pre-fab yard the engineers built rows upon rows of defensive gunship revetments.
One of the new revetments paid for itself the first night it was completed. A new corrugated barrier that housed a Cobra, took the brunt of a 122mm rocket that smashed in the ground a short distance away. The chopper, unscratched, was flying missions the next day.
The helicopter re-arm point at Dau Tieng was just a series of steel conex containers along the refuel lanes before C Company was charged with making a more permanent home for the deadly rockets and ammunition that stock Tropic Lightning helicopters.
"The rainy season was coming so we knew we would have to work a little faster than usual," stated Captain Bernard Stalmann Jr., C company commander. "I'm really proud of my men, they worked day and night finishing a complete and sophisticated re-arm point in what must be a record five days," concluded the Greensburg, Pa. captain who is serving his second tour of duty in Vietnam.
Instead of just building normal protective covering for the Air Force OV-10 aircraft that fly forward air control missions for the 3d Brigade, the engineers also added a new RPG screen atop the nine foot walls of corrugated steel and dirt that surround the jet gray Broncos.
Realizing that in Vietnam, a soldiers home should also be his castle, the 588th Engineers did not forget the foot soldier. Fifty new bunkers all with RPG screens, now circle Dau Tieng base camp. Only one section of the bases perimeter remains unlit at night. First Lieutenant Eric Shannon, 1st platoon leader from Columbus, Ohio, and his men are speeding completion of the more than 300 spotter lights that will soon cover all avenues to the 3d Brigade base.
Last, but certainly not least, every time soldiers drink water at Dau Tieng they should thank the men of C Company for building the three main water points that support the 3d Brigade base.
UP AND AWAY - [Photo, above right] Perched above the Saigon River, Specialist 4 Thomos Ippolito, a 20-year-old 588th Engineer from Brooklyn, N.Y., installs some of the 12,000 feet of wire used for the lighting system at the Dau Tieng Bridge.
DRILL - [Left] Building a home for one of the big guns that support the 3d Brigade, Private First Class Joe Donovan of Southington, Conn., drills as Staff Sergeant Willie Wilson of Petersburg, Va., supervises and Specialist 4 Mike Hays of Susanville, Calif., hammers.
|Story and Photos by SP5 Rick Adams|
Cavalry Slick to Retire
By John T. Agnoletti
CU CHI - Sometime in May, a UH-1D troop-carrying helicopter from Delta Troop, 3d Squadron, 4th Cavalry, will retire from duty. At this time the slick will have logged over 2000 hours in the air over Vietnam since it came here nearly four years ago.
The helicopter had a variety of missions with Delta Troop. The slick has flown dust-offs, transported the aerorifle platoon, inserted and extracted Rangers, and was used constantly as a resupply ship.
In its four years of flying with the Cav, the ship has taken over a hundred rounds from enemy gunners. In the end, old age claimed what Charlie never could.
Warrant Officer2 Russell Mattison from Mt. Lake, Minn., likes to tell of the time the ship was involved in an emergency resupply of Charlie Troop of the 3/4 Cav. In early 1968, C Troop was hit hard by a numerically superior force. The men were almost completely out of ammunition so D Troop was called to resupply them.
Loaded with ammo, the ship landed on a rice paddy dike in the midst of crossfire. Enemy fire cracked the tail beam of the ship, but not before the ammo was unloaded. Shortly thereafter the enemy was repulsed.
The longevity and durability of the ship reflects the dedication of the slicks crew chief and the maintenance platoon for their ,job.
The crew chief, Specialist 4 Charles Lowe from San Francisco, Calif., performs a daily maintenance cheek on his ship and the maintenance platoon has the necessary skills for the major repairs.
Page 7 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS May 26, 1969
WORK - At right First Lieutenant Richard Nash of
Joy, Ill. examines part of the 49,000 pound rice cache found in the upper
Trapezoid. In the photo at left mechanized infantrymen of the Triple Deuce
off-load a portion of the salvable rice. An estimated NVA battalion will have to
tighten their "collective" belts as a result of this steal.
3d Brigade Finds Bonanza
(Continued From Page 1)
grenades, 50 AK-47 rounds, 200 .30 caliber rounds and four Chicom hand grenades.
"There were about 250 bunkers and we just couldn't blow all of them. We'll have to come back later and finish the job," said First Lieutenant Richard Nash of Joy. Ill., a platoon leader with Alpha Company, 2/22 Infantry. "Some of the bunkers were so tough we had to use three and four blocks of C-4," he said.
"Those bunkers we ran into were definitely constructed by hard core NVA elements," said Sergeant Lon Oakley of Dallas, Tex. "You could tell because of the heavy fortifications. The NVA planned on staying right here, theres no doubt," he said.
During the fighting, Colonel Louis J. Schelter Jr. of Columbus, Ga., the 3d Brigade commander, circled the area in his command and control helicopter and evacuated four wounded Gls, even though the ship was unable to touch down completely because of treacherous terrain.
His pilot, Warrant Officer Gunter Siedler of Torrington, Wyo., said he had about one foot clearance around his rotor blades when he tried to land in the tangled bamboo. "I couldn't sit down completely because of numerous bomb craters," he said.
All indications now are that the enemy has completely withdrawn from the area, dragging whatever was left of his cache with him. Brigade leaders are keeping their eyes open, and search operations continue in the Trapezoid.
AERIAL VIEW Tracks from the 2d Battalion (Mechanized), 22d Infantry, move through an enemy base camp area while Wolfhound infantrymen sweep ahead in the dense undergrowth searching for bunkers housing munitions and food caches. The complex, four miles east of Dau Tieng was the scene of bitter fighting.
EMERGING [Below] At right First Lieutenant
Richard Nash comes out of an enemy bunker in the upper Trapezoid after his unit, Triple
Deuces Alpha Company, with three other companies smashed into the base camp killing
|PREPARING to blast an enemy bunker, Sergeant Lon Oakley of Dallas cautiously moves into the entrance with two blocks of C-4 explosive.|
|PROCEED WITH CAUTION Sergeant Lon Oakley prepares to check out an enemy bunker. Oakleys unit, A Company, 2d Battalion (Mechanized), 22d Infantry, was engaged in bitter fighting at the NVA base camp.|
Page 8 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS May 26, 1969
12-Ton Grader Dusted Off
To Nui Ba Den Location
TAY NINH - How do you get a twelve-ton road grader from Tay Ninh base camp to the top of Nui Ba Den Mountain?
The answer is simple: all you need is five men from the 65th Engineer Battalion and one powerful flying crane.
A decision was made to do some heavy construction work at the signal site on Nui Ba Den. To do the job effectively it was necessary to get road working equipment up to the mountain as soon as possible.
"They gave our engineering battalion the mission to prepare a Caterpillar 112 Road Grader for a little trip to Nui Ba Den," said Sergeant First Class Ed Segers of Woodbridge, Va. "We drove it down to the resupply pad at first light and began the task of dismantling the equipment so it could be airlifted."
"A flying crane is powerful enough to lift equipment weighing twelve tons, but because of the way the weight is distributed on the 'Big Cat' we had to break it in half," said Specialist 4 Gary Adams of Petosky, Mich.
After 30 hectic minutes of loosening bolts and turning screws, the breaking point was reached.
"Put 'er in gear and back up," said Segers, and a few seconds later control cab and grader blade were in two separate locations.
The timing was perfect. The crane appeared overhead and Specialist 4 Dave Naftzger of Valley City, Ohio, rushed to get the canvas straps that would join grader and crane.
"It was a little hard standing on that cab and slipping the strap on that giant hook, but we did it," said Naftzger.
Within 45 minutes, the crane that had lifted the cab to the mountain returned for the blade section and was headed back to Nui Ba Den. The entire operation was completed in less than two hours.
ON THE WAY - [Above] Five tons of road leveling grader blade is lifted to the top of Nui Ba Den. (PHOTO BY SGT HERB BURDETT)
READY - [Right] The big machine a 25,000 pound road grader is prepared for airlifting to the top of Nui Ba Den. (PHOTO BY SGT HERB BURDETT)
Hounds Master Ambush
DAU TIENG - From a nearby rubber plantation to the Boi Loi Woods, Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry, is teaching another Charlie a lesson in his own forte - the art of ambush.
During a recent five-day period, the Wolfhound infantrymen successfully sprang six ambushes, killing 11 enemy soldiers and capturing nine AK-47 rifles. In sweeps near the ambush sites, they also uncovered two munitions caches.
Captain Lloyd Yoshina, the company commander, credits his units recent successes to new ideas in ambushing - "stay behind" daylight and night time ambushes using platoon-size or smaller units.
"We move into an area in force and drop off stay-behind patrols along strategic routes," commented the Honolulu native. "The rest of the unit moves away and sets up other ambushes."
In many cases, munitions and foodstuffs are uncovered near ambush sites. Unsuspecting enemy soldiers returning to their caches lead the Wolfhounds to hideouts. Conversely, ambushes are always set up when a cache site is uncovered.
Two such caches were uncovered within 150 meters of three successful ambushes that resulted in six enemy soldiers killed and five weapons captured. The first cache, found in the bottom of a dry well, contained 113 RPG rounds and 2,500 rounds of AK-47 ammunition. The second was uncovered at a nearby docking site. A bunker was discovered and the Wolfhounds probed it with bayonets locating a false wall that concealed a tunnel. A search of the tunnel netted 70,000 rounds of AK-47 ammo and 25 Chicom claymores, as well as other munitions and supplies.
"Charlie Company is doing a fine job of disrupting the enemys movement," commented Major "Doc" Holliday, battalion operations officer. "The ambushes keep the enemy constantly on the move with little chance to rest. They deny him access to his favorite infiltration routes and resupply areas."
Wolfhounds Overrun NVA Base Camp
DAU TIENG - Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry, after nearly a day of skirmishing with Viet Cong elements in a thickly wooded area three miles east of Dau Tieng successfully overran a company-sized enemy base camp, killing eight enemy soldiers and confiscating two weapons.
The Wolfhound company was engaged in sweep operations in the area when it received fire from an estimated platoon-sized North Vietnamese Army Force defending the base camp area.
With the aid of artillery and tactical air strikes the company was able to penetrate the camps defenses and establish a defensive perimeter.
Later, Alpha Company Wolfhounds joined its sister company and, with firepower from tracks of Alpha Company, 2d Battalion (Mechanized), 22d Infantry, swept into the area. They found, in addition to the eight enemy bodies, one AK-47 rifle, one RPG-2 rocket launcher and about one pound of documents.
The companies also discovered two bunker complexes, one housing a heavily fortified command bunker.
"We found a large bunker that looked sort of like a dormitory," said Major Jerry Holliday of Memphis, Tenn., the Wolfhounds' operations officer. "The bunker contained several articles of feminine apparel," he said.
EASY DOES IT - A Wolfhound infantryman from Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry, moves cautiously ahead of a track from Alpha Company, 2d Battalion, 22d Infantry, during an operation in a thickly wooded area three miles east of Dau Tieng. (PHOTO BY SP5 JACK R. ANDERSON)
Ron Leonard, 25th Aviation Bn., locating and mailing this issue,
Kirk Ramsey, 2nd Bn., 14th Inf. for creating this page.
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