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Vol 5 No. 5          TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS          February 2, 1970



Unit                   Page Unit                  Page Unit                  Page Unit                  Page
1/27 Photo                              2 2/27                                         7 25th Med Bn                         8 4/23                                         1
1/27                                          3 2/27 Photos                           7 3/4 Cav                                   8 4/23                                         3
1/27 Photo                              3 2/34 Armor Photos               1 3/22                                         3 4/23 Photo                             6
116th AHC                              1 2/34 Armor                            4 3/22                                         4 40th Med Det Photo            8
2/12 Photo                              1 2/34 Armor Photo                 4 4/9                                           1 40th Med Det                        8
2/12                                          1 2/34 Armor Photo                 4 4/9                                           3 7/11 Arty                               3
2/12                                          2 2/77 Arty                                6 4/9                                           4 7/11 Arty Photo                    3
2/12 Photo                              8 25th Inf                                   2 4/9 Photo                               4 7/11 Arty                                4
2/14                                          1 25th Inf Band                         6 4/9                                           8 Chaplains                               3


2/12th Warriors at dawn
RISE 'N' SHINE - Up with the sun from their night ambush site are these Warriors from the 2d Battalion, 12th Infantry.  They are getting ready for another day of Bushmaster operations in the Citadel.  (Photo by SP4 Jim Williams)



Dragons Get NVA Coming And Going

   CU CHI - A criss-cross operation that led the Golden Dragons of the 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry back and forth across the Rocket Belt and the southern Ho Bo Woods destroyed NVA forces coming and going.
   Early on the first morning of the operation 116th Assault Helicopter company gunships detected a dozen enemy and pursued them to a hidden bunker complex.
   WITHIN A MATTER of minutes Alfa Company Golden Dragons were lifted into the area to capture two of the enemy.
   Later in the day the Golden Dragon's Delta Company was inserted in the same area and found a heavily mined field and called in artillery fire to destroy it.
   The helicopters that extracted Delta Company brought in the third Golden Dragons company to set up a night ambush in the area.  The Bravo Infantrymen moved into their ambush site under a bright moon with little cover and concealment.
   The enemy spotted the Dragons and tried to outsmart them by circling around the ambush site to attack from the rear.  However, the enemy outsmarted himself by walking right into the rear security element's kill zone.  The devastating barrage of fire killed 6 well-equipped enemy.
   "THREE OF THE soldiers were really loaded down," said Specialist 4 Wayne Luber of Butte, Neb.
   Later that same night a brush fire caused by the smoldering rocket craters blazed up and began burning the tall grass growing about 400 meters to the front of the Dragon ambush site.
   Bravo Company machine gunner, Specialist 4 John Lavarnway of Attica, N.Y., said, "We could see the enemy out there in the midst of the fire trying to beat out the flames."


Disband Proud VC Force
      Tomahawks Aid In Chieu Hoi Program

   TAY NINH - A lone figure stepped out of the bushes near the Rubber Factory on Highway 26 near Tay Ninh City and flagged down an APC from the first platoon, Alfa Company, 4th Bn. 23d Inf (mechanized).  As the track stopped, the bedraggled 25-year-old man raised his hands and shouted "Chieu hoi".
   Within minutes Captain William Beaver II of Grand Junction, Col., the battalion S-2, and his interpreter were on the scene and had learned that Le Hoang Nua was a tattered, tired man, one of the last members of the once proud Can Khoi Village (VC) Force.
   The Can Khoi Force had been operating around the Rubber Factory since 1965 with a combat strength of 16 men.  Approximately a year ago their luck started running out when the 4/23 Tomahawks moved into the area.
   Protecting mine laying teams along Highway 26, taxing the local villagers and commo-liaison had been the main missions for the 16-man team.  Relentless pursuit by the Tomahawks finally took its toll.  As far as Le Hoang Nua knew, his three-man team was the last of the force.  He identified photos of three men killed as a result of recent Tomahawks ambushes as being from his unit and indicated one of them was a VC Party Secretary and chief the Cau Khoi Village.
   Le Hoang Nua told his interrogators his unit had not received orders in more than month and that two weeks earlier the Tomahawks had destroyed their one remaining bunker.  He and his men had been on the run ever since.  They managed to avoid American ambushes but the American artillery "follows us wherever we go."  He and his men had no rice to eat and had been eating plant roots to survive.
   Finally Le Hoang Nua decided it was useless to continue running.  He gave his AK-47 rifle to one of the men still at large and under the pretext of going to the latrine, rallied to the Allies.

2/34 Armor in action BRINGING SMOKE - A tank from Alfa Company 2d Battalion, 34th Armor, fires on enemy positions on the northern side of Nui Ba Den.  Alfa Company was the main support unit during the recent operation Cliffdweller IV.  (Photo by SGT Wally Baker)



Manchus In Bamboo
        Ambush Kills Two

   TAY NINH - A six man Charlie Company, 4/9th Inf. ambush element killed two enemy recently in a face to face early-evening battle in the Fingers area near here.
   After moving out from their landing zone, they set up a defensive position to provide time for a recon of the area for the coming night operation.
   About six in the evening Sp4 Ronald Way, of Claysburg, Pa., heard VC talking near his position.
   Sp4 Tom Peters, of Lincoln Park, Mich., recalled, "We were set up behind a thin bamboo hedgerow, looking through.  They could have heard any movement we made, so we held still."
   The six men waited until the entire group of VC were directly in front of their position.  Then they opened fire.
   SP4 Wentworth Nisbett, of Hollendale, Fla., started the fire with his M-16, immediately killing the VC point man.
   A split second later the Manchus opened up with M-16s, an M-60 machinegun, and a M-79.  The six men poured on fire for 15 minutes, then stopped.
   After checking for movement in the kill zone, the men ran a quick search of the area, uncovering two dead VC.  The fleeing enemy also left behind two AK-47s, two Soviet anti-tank mines, one rocket, two Chi Com grenades, three hundred rounds of AK-47 rifle ammunition, several bags of rice, medical and cooking equipment.  The Manchus also picked up a large packet of enemy documents.


No Mail Call For VC

   FSB PERSHING - "Neither rain, nor sleet, nor dark of night, shall keep the trusted courier from his appointed rounds."
   But what if the mailman is a VC mailman?  And what if there is no rain, or sleet, but it is dark of night and there is a Warrior ambush along the mailman's route?  The mail will not go through.
   Warriors of the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry, Charlie Company operating an ambush position northeast of Fire Support Base Pershing popped an ambush on two unsuspecting VC who turned out to be VC mailmen on their "appointed rounds."
   First Lieutenant Melvin A. Miller of Davenport, Iowa said, "Each of the two dead VC was carrying a sack that contained about 60 letters apiece.  Each letter was bound for VC hiding in the field.  I guess you might say we stopped the last leg of their underground mail system."
   Along with the two dead VC and the mail the Warriors also captured 1 AK-47 and 1 K-54 pistol.


Page 2                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           February 2, 1970



CPT Jose Martinez, Jr., HHC, 2d Bn, 14th Inf SGT Phillip Dennis, Co A, 2d Bn, 22d Inf
CPT Donald A. Burson, Co A, 25th Aviation Battalion
1LT Thomas J. Cannava, HHSB. 1st Bn, 8th Arty
WO1 Kevin M. Foley, HHC, 2d Bde
SP4 Robert G. Bunting, 25th MP Co SP4 David O. Shelton, Co C, 2d Bn, 12th Inf
LTC James E. Coggins, HHC, 4th Bn (M), 23d Inf
LTC Donald O. Crutchley, HHC, 2d Bn, 14th Inf
MAJ Carl R. Quickmire, HHC, 2d Bn 12th Inf
CPT John J. Mennig, HHC, 2d Bn, 12th Inf
CPT Michael F. Kush, Co A, 2d Bn (M), 22d Inf
1LT William F. Dealy III, Co E, 65th Eng
1LT Thomas J. Cannava, Btry A, 1st Bn, 8th Arty
2LT Wasyl Darczyn, Co D, 2d Bn, 14th Inf
2LT Larry E. Crawford, Co B, 2d Bn 12th Inf
2LT Paul E. Wible, HHC, 2d Bn (M), 22d Inf
2LT Loyd L. Saxton, Co A, 2d Bn, 22d Inf
2LT Ronald Roalstad, Co C, 2d Bn, 14th Inf
1SG Robert C. Cook, Co A, 2d Bn, 22d Inf
1SG Charles N. Bear, Trp A, 3/4 Cav
1SG George H. Bishop, Trp A, 3/4 Cav
SFC Richard A. Rowland, Trp B, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav
SFC Cleophas Crooms, Trp B, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav
SSG Thomas J. Curren, Co E. 2d Bn, 27th Inf
SSG Harrom H Kaili, Co B, 1st Bn, 27th Inf
SSG Philip Bynum, Co B, 2d Bn (M), 22d Inf
SSG Robert Washington, Co B, 2d Bn (M), 22d Inf
SGT Harlan K. Gammons, Co A, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
SGT Charles T. Williams, Co E, 65th Eng
SGT Jerry L. McDow, Co C, 2d Bn, 14th Inf
SGT Stephen Leapley, Trp B, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav
SGT Robert J. Reidel, HHC, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
SGT Bruce G. Sewall, Co A, 2d Bn, 22d Inf
SGT Thomas W. Shepherd, HHC, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
SGT Gregory A. Hammond, Co E, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
SGT Steve O. Stubblefield, Co B, 1st Bn (M), 5th Inf
SGT Charles W. Sanders, Co E, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
SGT Edward Cote, Co A, 1st Bn (M), 5th Inf
SGT Brown Y. Lightfoot, Co D, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
SGT William Rudlaff, Co B, 2d Bn (M), 22d Inf
SP4 Timoteo Ozuna, Co D, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
SP4 Carl W. Foster, HHC, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
SP4 Ronald W. Anderson, Co B, 2d Bn, 12th Inf
SP4 Herbert Wilbanks, Co A, 1st Bn (M), 5th Inf
SP4 Albert Urda, Co E, 65th Eng
SP4 Kenneth J. Perry, Co B, 2d Bn, 12th Inf
SP4 Roger P. Johnson, Trp A, 3/4 Cav
SP4 Herbert H. Gordon, Co A, 1st Bn (M), 5th Inf
SP4 Daniel D. Garcia, Co D, 65th Eng
SP4 Glenn F. Goff, Co B, 2d Bn (M), 22d Inf
SP4 Michael J. Hubbard, Co D, 2d Bn, 14th Inf
SP4 Charles W. Grayson, Trp A, 3/4 Cav
SP4 Paster L. Drones Jr., Co D, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
SP4 Richard H. Denison, Trp A, 3/4 Cav
SP4 Melvin R. Atcher, HHC, 65th Eng
SP4 Leon Bogedahl, Co D, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
SP4 Frank Apollo, Trp A, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav
SP4 Mark A. Larner, Co E, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
SP4 Leobaldi Romero, Co B, 2d Bn (M), 22d Inf
SP4 Roy G. Jalbert, HHC, 65th Eng
SP4 David P. Maloney, Trp A, 3/4 Cav
SP4 Robert W. Ming, HHC, 65th Eng
SP4 Perry L. Morris, Co E, 65th Eng
SP4 Morgan E. Smith, Co E, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
SP4 Stephen Holmes, Co B, 1/27 Inf
SP4 David R. Porter, Trp B, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav
SP4 George Bullard, Trp A, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav
SP4 Michael Campor, Trp B, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav
SP4 Dennis L. Stebbins, Co B, 1/27 Inf



Army Pays Dollars For Sense

   If you think there's nothing you can do to change the Army, think twice.
   Think of an idea which will help make the Army run more efficiently, write it down, and forward it to the Long Binh Civilian Personnel Office, APO In-Country 96491.  If the Army thinks your idea is good enough, it will not only adopt the idea but will pay you for it.
   Depending upon the potential value of the suggestion to the Army and the extent to which it can be used, you can earn yourself a cash award ranging from $25 up to thousands of dollars.
   If you do not have the proper suggestion form, DA 1045, you can write your idea out on any piece of plain paper and send it in.
   For instance, Captain Robert J. Cresci, the 25th Infantry Division protocol officer, received a cash award of $150 for a suggestion he made while stationed at Ft. Leslie McNair in Washington, D.C.  He thought it would be a good idea for mess halls to use special racks in the bottom of pans on mess hall steam tables.  The racks helped make mess hall food taste less greasy and his idea has been adopted by the Army.
   One helicopter mechanic in Vung Tau designed a special bolt for helicopter rotors.  The Department of the Army decided that the bolt would increase the safety of all its helicopters at savings of millions of dollars.  The mechanic was awarded $25,000.
   So take a tip on writing from Ernest Hemingway.  He once said that the art of writing consists mainly of taking one's self by the seat of the pants, sitting down and writing.
   You do not have to be another Hemingway to write suggestions for the Army, though.  So don't gripe, write!  Write!  Do it now!

Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Whitesel of Albany, Ga., assumed command of the 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Wolfhounds recently.  LTC Whitesel replaces LTC William Martin who now is executive officer of the 3d Brigade. Lt. Col. Thomas Whitesel



Tet Is A Time For Joy, Hope

   What is Tet?
   Tet is the biggest Vietnamese celebration of the year.  It's Christmas, New Year, Easter, time for family reunions, spring festival, national holiday and everybody's birthday all rolled into one.
   The three day event, beginning this year on the 5th of February and running through the 7th of February signifies the new lunar year and the beginning of spring.
   For the Vietnamese it is a time of solemnity, gaiety and hope.  It is a time to pay homage to ancestors, visit family and friends, observe traditional taboos, and of course, to celebrate.
   What is your part in the observance of this important Vietnamese holiday?  Well, for one it is a good time to make real friends among the Vietnamese people, but it's important to know what to do and what not to do.
   Arguments or insults should be avoided in the Tet period.  Vietnamese people avoid discussing any subject that might become controversial.  You should too.
   All American military personnel should use military bus transportation during Tet, to allow the Vietnamese maximum use of whatever public transportation is available.
   By observing rules of courtesy and consideration, one can enjoy the season of Tet.  Remember - to the Vietnamese, what a man does during Tet forecasts his actions for the rest of the year.


                    Combat Honor Roll

   Specialist Four Vernon Lyons has been added to the Tropic Lightning Combat Honor Roll.
   Specialist Lyons distinguished himself by heroic actions on December 9, 1969 while serving as a radio telephone operator with Company A, 2d Battalion, 12th Infantry.
   While on a joint reconnaissance operation with C Troop, 3d Squadron, 4th Cavalry an element of Company A came in contact with an enemy force in well fortified emplacements.  During the initial exchange of fire, two men were wounded and pinned down in an exposed position near an enemy bunker.
   Immediately, Specialist Lyons with complete disregard for his safety, exposed himself to the hail of fire as he maneuvered through the perilous area towards the hostile position.  As he neared the enemy emplacement, Specialist Lyons silenced the position with a hand grenade.  After destroying the enemy bunker, Specialist Lyons moved to the aid of his injured comrades and administered first aid to the fallen soldiers.
   His valorous actions contributed to the success of the mission and were responsible for saving several lives.


vStork.jpg (2787 bytes)Tropic Lightning Tots
The Commanding General Welcomes
The Following Tropic Lightning Tots
To The 25th Infantry Division – As
Reported By The American Red Cross.
Born To:

Jan. 16
SP4 Silvester Price, Co E, 65th Engr. Bn, boy

Jan. 17
SP4 Thomas Trostel, 45th Surg. Hosp., boy

Jan. 18
SGT Kenneth Abeyta, Hq., 1st Bde, girl
SP4 Clifford Pierce, Co A, 2d Bn, 34th Armor, boy

Jan. 19
SP4 Billy Rector, Co B, 1st Bn, 27th Inf, girl
Jan. 19
SP5 Danny Goodman, 25th Admin. Co., girl
PFC Raymond C. Everett, Btry C, 1st Bn, 8th Arty, girl

Jan. 20
SP4 Thomas Forst, HHB, 2d Bn, 77th Arty, girl
2LT Frank DiBella, 25th Admin. Co., girl
SP4 David C. Lang, Btry D, 3rd Bn, 13th Arty, girl

Jan. 21
1LT Roderick N. Ladd, Btry C, 7th Bn, 9th Arty, boy
SP4 Vernon Smith, Co D, 588th Engr. Bn., boy



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 Harris W. Hollis . . . . . . . Commanding General
MAJ Warren J. Field . . . . . .  Information Officer
1LT John Caspari . . . . . . . . .  Officer-in-Charge
SGT John Geritti . . . . . . . . . .  Editor
SP4 Gary Sciortio  . . . . . . . .   Assistant Editor
SP5 Harold Anderson . . . . .  Production Supervisor


SP4 Dennis Bries
SP4 Bill Frame
SGT Bill Obelholzer
SP4 Jim Williams
SGT Wally Baker
SP4 Frank Ditto
SP4 Greg Stanmar
SP4 Phil Jackson
SP4 Pat Morrison
SP5 Tony DeBiasio
PFC Rich Fitzpatrick
SP4 Jeff Hinman
SP4 Doug Sainsbury
SP4 Ken Barron
SP4 Tony Crawford
SP4 Craig Sampson
SP4 Richard Sears
SGT K.C. Cullen
SP4 Dan Neff
SP4 Henry Zukowski
SP4 Brad Yaeger
SP4 Frank Rezzonico
SP4 Joe O'Rourke
PFC Ray Byrne
SP4 Robert Caplin
SGT William E. Zarrett



Page 3                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           February 2, 1970


'On-Timers' Aid Operation Cliffdweller
   Artillery Support Is The Name Of The Game

   TAY NINH - A close-up view of the Black Virgin Mountain, Nui Ba Den, is enough to arouse anyone's curiosity.  The pinnacle rises abruptly in the center of a flat area which covers hundreds of square miles, and suggests a monster raising its dark scraggy head to look around.
   THE ENEMY VIEWS the mountain as a ready-made fortress.  The myriad of caves and tunnels make perfect bunkers, and solid-granite boulders offer more protection than a mountain of sandbags.  Although the top of Nui Ba is occupied by a US relay station, the slopes of the mountain still belong to Charlie.
   Bravo Battery of 7th Battalion, 11th Field Artillery, helped shake the enemy loose while supporting the Regulars of 3/22 Infantry and the 4/9 Infantry Manchus in a sophisticated version of "king of the mountain," Operation Cliffdweller IV.
   THE "ON TIME" cannoneers convoyed their six 105mm howitzers from Fire Support Base Buell to Fire Support Base Bragg, 5 kilometers northeast of the Black Virgin Mountain.  There they "prepped" landing zones for the infantry arriving via "eagle flights."  Once the infantrymen were on the mountain, three of the guns moved to the base of the northeast slope to provide direct fire and artillery support from a different angle.
   The hustling gun-bunnies kept their tubes hot for the next 4 days, firing almost continuously.  The constant barrage kept the little man deep in his hole.  Only during the few infrequent lulls in the firing did some of the braver individuals crawl out from under their rocks to fire sniper rounds and mortars back at the artillery.
   THE BATTALION ammo section had to hump to keep up with the cannoneers.  Every "duece-and-a-half" in the battalion that could be spared was used to haul ammunition, and as many as 18 truckloads of ammo were hauled to the guns in one day.
   When the smoke cleared and the guns were "march ordered" for Buell, any of the enemy who survived the siege were left with Battling Bravo's calling card, a painful ringing in the ears.

THE NAME OF THE GUN may be an exaggeration but each of the six guns of Bravo Battery recently fired almost continuously for four days.  The "On-Time" cannoneers were supporting the Regulars and the Manchus during Operation Cliffdweller.  (Photo By SP4 Dan Neff) Firing on Nui Ba Den



Religion Is Stronger In Field: Chaplain

   CU CHI - God is alive and living in the minds of infantrymen far from base camp areas.
   He's living in secure rear areas too, but hospitality is greater in the field.
   "Men become more oriented toward religion the further away from secure areas they get," said Chaplain (Captain) Anthony V. Rodrigues, of Honolulu, Hawaii.
   What's the reason?  Are men more religious in the field and less religious in the base camp?
   "No, I don't think so," Rodrigues said.  "Men in the field find themselves in a sort of channel, a channel where their thoughts about life and death and questions they have sought answers to may be narrower than ever before.
   "In other words, their situation permits them to think more about themselves," he said.
   Rodrigues said he thinks the combat soldier is up against a wall, religiously speaking.  He comes to grips with himself, with his being.
   "It's not a good thing to be comfortable with life.  In order to really look at ourselves in peace, we need religion," Rodrigues said.
   When the chaplain visits his "congregation," he tries to teach the concept of God as a personal God, a God that cares about each individual.
   "It's amazing to find that many mature people with childish ideas about religion," he said.  "Religion, like other concepts, must mature as the individual does."
   Have individuals in rear areas forgotten or lost sight of God?
   "Everyone, I think, is permitted a period of rebellion against God, just as adolescents rebel against their parents," said Rodrigues.

3 Silver Stars Awarded

   TAY NINH - Three members of Bravo Company 4th Battalion, (Mechanized) 23d Infantry Tomahawks have been awarded the Silver Star for actions while aiding an ARVN Regional Force where 88 enemy soldiers were killed.
   Captain Frederick Drew of Bakersfield, Calif., won the Silver Star for aiding the wounded and directing his company's fire into the enemy positions.
   Corporal Bufford Lyons of Newark, N.J. was awarded the Silver Star when he maneuvered his damaged track in position to direct 50 Caliber Machinegun fire into enemy positions.
   Specialist Four Patrick Bryan of Tulsa, Okla., was awarded the Silver Star for protecting the company command track from his side mounted machine gun after it had been damaged.



Hounds 'ICAP'
Just What Doctor Ordered

   DUC HOA - A combined ICAP (Integrated Civic Action Program) consisting of American and Vietnamese medics from the Civic Action Section of the First Battalion 27th Infantry Wolfhounds, recently conducted an operation at Tho Mo III, a village northwest of Duc Hoa.
   "The civic action section performs two functions," said Civic Action Officer Captain William J. Goodman of Philadelphia, Pa.  "If a Vietnamese civilian is in need of medical attention and we are able to treat the person we do so; however, if the wound is serious we arrange an appointment for the person with a qualified doctor," he said.
   "The villagers can usually get to the doctor by themselves but if help is needed we can either take them by jeep or call in a medical evacuation chopper," Goodman said.
   Goodman remarked, "Our second function is to obtain as much information as possible pertaining to the enemy.
   "The continued acceptance of the villagers toward our operations only proves further the confidence instilled in these people toward our medicine and good will," Goodman said.

SP4 Vincent Mollomo A LITTLE MEDICAL AID - Specialist 4 Vincent Mollomo of Newton, Mass., fills a prescription for a Vietnamese patient during a 1 /27th Wolfhound Intergrated Civic Action Program recently conducted for villagers in an area Northwest of Duc Hoa.  (Photo By SP4 Frank Rezzonico)



Page 4-5                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           February 2, 1970


Blast Enemy On Mountain
          Regulars, Armor Do Their Thing

   TAY NINH - The longest sustained battle in months took place January 4 through 11 on the steep, craggy slopes of Nui {Ba Den, as the 25th Infantry Division successfully maneuvered to trap and eliminate a large enemy force dug in on the hillside.
   Bravo and Charlie companies, 3d Battalion, 22nd Infantry, kicked off operation Cliffdweller IV on the morning of the 4th when they were airlifted by Chinook helicopters to the top of Nui Ba Den, and started working their way in columns down over the boulders toward the bottom, more than 3,000 feet below.
   The two companies moved into sweeping and blocking positions from the top, Alfa Company, 3/22nd, was moved in from the bottom to seal off the left side of the trap.  Recon Platoon, 3/22nd, and Alfa Company, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry (Manchus), were heli-lifted onto the ridgeline of Nui Ba Den's little sister, Nui Cau, putting their steel into the right side of the jaws closing in on the enemy.
   Alfa Company, 2d Battalion, 34th Armor, moved in on line with tanks and APC's at the base of the mountain, completing the trap.  Bravo Battery, 7th Battalion/11th Artillery, towed their howitzers from fire support base Buell to beef up the line at the bottom.  A skyful of artillery shells pounded the enemy positions constantly, keeping them down in their caves as Alfa, Bravo and Charlie company riflemen crept through the boulders on the line.
   The Recon Platoon and Bravo Company 4/9th, secured their positions on the ridge line and fire teams began moving out above the enemy's positions placing sniper fire on anything that moved.
   On the 9th of January, men of Delta Company, 3/22nd Infantry were brought in by helicopters to relieve Alfa Company.  Delta Company walked up the hill into position and Alfa Company came down, six days of heavy fighting behind them.
   Maneuvering continued on the 9th and 10th.  Delta Company moved about 200 meters across the boulder strewn slope under heavy sniper fire, destroying caves, supplies and fighting the enemy for every yard of ground.  Bravo and Charlie companies held their positions, blocking escape routes.  Alfa Company, 4/9th and Recon Platoon, 3/22nd held their positions on the 150 yard ridgeline from Nui Ba Den to Nui Cau, and Charlie had nowhere to go.
   Air Force jets were called in to strafe and bomb the enemy in his caves.  Dusters, quad-50-caliber machine guns, a tracked 175 MM howitzer, Cobra rocket and rapid-fire 60 MM guns plus artillery, tank and Huey gunship fire from the 116th Assault Helicopter Company, raked and pounded the sealed off enemy force for hours.
   Task Force Jones, (as the multi-unit Operation Cliffdweller IV was designated,) commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Warren A. Jones, battalion commander of 3/22nd Infantry, decimated the enemy's operational force on Nui Ba Den, killing 156 enemy soldiers during the eight day battle.  Numerous weapons, documents, medical supplies, clothing and other equipment was captured and more than a thousand yards of tunnels were destroyed.

Dreadnaughts fire on Nui Ba Den

2/34th Armor Dreadnaughts use the 90mm gun to support the Regulars in Cliffdweller

Situation Report

An RTO calls his company commander to check on instructions during Cliffdweller


Photos by
I LT R. Golden
SP5 D. Delaney
SGT W. Baker
SGT K.C. Cullen


Dreadnaughts fire against mountain Making smoke
Radio Check A quick radio check
With rotor blades at full pitch, a resupply chopper heads for the slopes of Nui Ba Den Heading for the mountain


Chopper resupply Squad watches the mountain Manchus
A chopper drops in to resupply troops on mountain Gunners keep a watchful eye on the slopes of Nui Ba Den. A machine gun crew from the Manchus scans the rocky slopes.



Page 6                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           February 2, 1970


Maj. Gen. Francis L. Sampson, Chaplain
TOMAHAWK INFANTRYMEN of the 4th Battalion (Mechanized), 23d Infantry listen as the Army's chief of chaplains, Major General Francis L. Sampson dedicates the new Tomahawk chapel at Fire Support Base Rawlins.  Sampson was on a tour of Vietnam.  (Photo by SP4 Gary Sciortino)



A 'Progress Party' For Arty, Villagers

   DUC HANH B - The Redlegs of the 2d Bn, 77th Arty recently celebrated the culmination of several months of civic affairs and MEDCAP efforts in this hamlet eight miles Southwest of Cu Chi with a "Progress Party."
   The party included most of the hamlet's population, the hamlet's young chief, a representative from the District of Duc Hoa, LTC Lewis W. Wright of Middletown, Del., CO of 2/77, a Dixieland combo of the 25th Inf Div Band, and several 2/77 cannoneers toting bags full of presents for the children.
   "Duc Hanh B is proof positive that the Vietnamization program can be effective," said CPT Richard Boss of Wash., D.C., the civic affairs officer of 2/77.  "When we first began working here, the people had a policy of passive acceptance of both Allied and VC influence.
   "NOW, HOWEVER, all of that has changed, and the policy of passive acceptance has given way to a policy of strong support of the Government of Vietnam", he said.
   The party, kicked off with a few numbers by the combo followed by speeches delivered by the distinguished guests.  Refreshments prepared by HHSB 2/77 were then served.
   Each child was given a package of toys, books, and clothes which were opened and put to use in record time.  The gifts were donated by people in the Los Angeles, Calif. area as a result of a program initiated by SP4 Fred Maul of Los Angeles, 2/77's battalion artist.
   The 2/77 has conducted pacification and MEDCAP activities here in coordination with the 3d Bde. civic affairs office for about seven months.
   "When we began the program, the emphasis was on medical aid and pacification activities, but now we are concentrating on intelligence gathering," said MSG Harold Baker of Lawton, Okla., the intelligence NCO of 2/77.
   "WHEN WE CONDUCTED our first MEDCAP in Duc Hanh B, we found that TB, skin cancer, and malnutrition were the primary health problems," said SP4 Dale Anderson of St. Cloud, Minn., the 2/77 battalion medical specialist.  "At first we had difficulty gaining the confidence of the people, but now we have their complete confidence and they seem to come from a much wider area for treatment."
   "Now the people are eager to be treated and the overall health standards of the hamlet have been greatly enhanced. The people are much more receptive now to coming into Cu Chi and Saigon hospitals for treatment of special cases," he said.
   The 2/77 has worked closely with the people to improve their way of life and to bolster their own defense system against the local VC.
   "The people have asked us for advice as to how to make their PSDF (Peoples' Self Defense Force) more effective, and we have given them supplies to build a solid bunker complex on the perimeter and within the hamlet," said Baker.
   "NOW THE PEOPLE give us information freely as to VC activities in the immediate area," he said.
   "An estimated company size VC force has been harassing this hamlet for several months, and a few of the people have died while fighting to keep the VC out," CPT Boss said.  "The farmers here have been transporting their harvested crops to local markets as fast as possible to avoid the VC tax collectors."
   The party lasted about two hours and the spirit of the participants was warm and festive.
   "The key to our success with our program here is the development of mutual respect and confidence," Boss said.  "It is the industriousness of the people in hamlets like Duc Hanh B that can produce positive results and make our own job so rewarding."


Like a Change Of Job, Station?

   Are you tired of your job and/or Cu Chi or Tay Ninh?  Would you like to work in Saigon?  Long Binh?  Cam Ranh Bay?  Qui Nhon?  Chu Lai?
   If you re-enlist for three years, you can be almost immediately reassigned to one of those areas, where the following job slots are open: personnel specialist, aircraft maintenance man, military policeman, stock control clerk, data processor, vehicle driver, clerk-typist.
   For details, see your unit reenlistment NCO.


Ask Sgt. Certain

DEAR SERGEANT CERTAIN:  I'm eligible for an R & R soon and I'd like to take it on Nui Ba Den.  I have always been fond of the mountains and I'm told that the scenery is beautiful this time of year.  Is there anything I should know about the place that might help me have a better time??  I've been having trouble finding information in the R & R brochures.  Is there anyone I can talk to?
                                                                                                                                                                               E. Hillary

DEAR HILL:  You're right, the mountain is beautiful this time of year.  There are many caves to be explored if you like spelunking and streams that abound with trout.  The summit of Nui Ba Den offers a get-away-from-it-all atmosphere and the natives on the top are pretty friendly.  This is not the tourist season, but people have been known to visit the peak.  Just last week, there was a 67-year-old donut dolly who climbed to the top "to give word games and used parcheesi boards to the boys up there."  During the winter season it is especially beautiful when the fog comes over the mountain and for miles and miles you can't see anything but white.  If you still want to go, there is a guy who just came down from the mountain after being stationed there since 1964.  He walks around with his head in the clouds but he should be able to give you a good insight on what it's like.  His name?  He doesn't remember.


Page 7                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           February 2, 1970


Singer, Magician Headline
    Kotrc Theatre Presents . . .

   CU CHI - A combination vaudeville comedy-magic routine and a gifted folksinger provided an entertaining day for the soldiers of 2d Battalion, 27th Infantry at Patrol Base Kotrc and Phuoc Luu Village.
   First Lieutenant Susan Cramer, Fort Wayne, Ind., a nurse with the 12th Evacuation Hospital and Specialist Four Marty Lacktman, Willingboro, N.J., assigned to the 25th Medical Battalion entertained the Wolfhound troops who guard the Division's border regions.
   The show at Kotrc went along fine except for occasional helicopters drowning out the entertainment and a small pup that was determined to upstage Sue Cramer's singing.
   Later the show moved to Phuoc Luu Village to entertain the Delta Company troops.  Marty Lacktman baffled his audience with a disappearing ball trick and had the men in stitches with his adlib comedy routine.
   Miss Cramer said that she had been looking for the opportunity to get to the field to entertain.  "I feel that I am just doing my part.  It doesn't seem that they get to see much entertainment, and Marty and I thought that they would enjoy what little we could give," said Miss Cramer.
   Miss Cramer is a graduate of Holy Cross School of Nursing in Indiana.

Photos and Story
SP4 Phil Jackson


1Lt. Sue Cramer Folksinger First Lieutenant Sue Cramer Entertains
SP4 Randy Odegaard, Rochester, Minn., Seems A Little Uncertain Of Things SP4 Marty Lacktman and Randy Odegaard


SP4 Marty Lacktman with a willing victim SP4 Marty Lacktman


Watching the show...

Magician Marty Lacktman Had 'Em Rolling In The Aisles At Patrol Base Kotrc



Page 8                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           February 2, 1970


SSG Dennis Evans reflected MIRROR, MIRROR - SSG Dennis Evans, Grand Rapids, Mich., is reflected in the water of a bomb crater while on an operation with Bravo Company 2d Battalion, 12th Infantry Warriors south of FSB Pershing.  (Photo by SP4 Jim Williams)



ARVNs On Their Own
     'Cav-cap' - A Vietnamese MEDCAP

   CU CHI - Vietnamization of the war throughout the Republic of Vietnam is progressing at a steady pace.  These efforts have not been confined to combat operations, however.
   The civic action program has now been Vietnamized within the area of operations of the 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry.  The new program has been dubbed the "Cav-cap" to distinguish it from the traditional medcap.  The "Cav-cap" is a medcap except that now it is being performed exclusively by the ARVN's of the Khien Hanh District.  They are employing their own personnel, equipment and supplies.
   Every Vietnamese who comes to the ARVN medics for treatment receives a written diagnosis of his ailment describing the illness and the treatment prescribed.
   ONCE THE PEOPLE have been treated they are given the form and told to present it to the medics when they come for further treatment at a later date.  In this way the Vietnamese medics are able to keep a record of the progress of the individual and determine whatever further treatment may be needed.
   Only one American is involved in the program, Captain James M. Weller of Carbondale, Ill.  Weller is the S-5 for the 3/4 Cav.
   "It took some time and patience to get the Vietnamese medcap program started," Weller said.  "The ARVN supply channels had to be opened up and it took a while before the ARVN's could treat and dress wounds on their own.  Now they are doing an excellent job and the turn out of Vietnamese civilians has been outstanding."
   First Lieutenant Nguyen Thanh Long, ARVN S-5 Officer for the Khien Hanh District, schedules the "Cav-caps" and is now supervising the complete operation.
   LONG SAID, "WHEN the 3/4 Cav moves out of the District we will be able to continue our medcaps because now we must no longer depend on the American units for supplies and equipment."
   "Also we are better able to help the people because we speak their language," Long continued.  "We are trying to win the faith of the people in the South Vietnamese government by showing them that their government is really trying to help them."

ARVN Medcap SELL-OUT CROWD - Response to the newly formed CavCAP has been very good.  Here villagers of the Khien Hahn Dictrict take advantage of the medical treatment provided by the ARVN Forces, under the direction of the 3d Squadron, 4th Cavalry.  (Photo by SP4 Joe O'Rourke)



Manchus Surprise Four VC

   TAY NINH - Once again, the element of surprise has brought success to the Manchus.  Echo Company, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry, operating twelve miles southeast of Tay Ninh City in the southern edge of the Renegade Woods, successfully sprang an ambush, killing four VC.
   The Manchus, having spent the entire night in an ambush by a high rice paddy dike, saw no movement until just before daybreak.  SP4 Charles W. Wills of Covington, Ky, stated that they watched ". . about twenty-five enemy coming across a small lake in front of us.  They got out of the water and headed straight at us."
   Following the command of Platoon Leader, Andrew D. Smith the Manchus waited, ready to spring the ambush until the point man and six VC walked well into the kill zone.  Finally, with the enemy no more than ten meters away, the Manchus sprung the trap.  Artillery and gunships were called in on the fleeing VC as they headed for the Cambodian border.
   Later that morning, a search of the area uncovered the bodies of four VC.  Two of the dead VC were officers; one a heavy weapons company commander and the other a high-ranking political officer.  Several important documents were found on the bodies of the two officers.  SP5 Russell Payne of Noblesville, Ind., Recon Platoon's medic noted, "There were many blood and drag trails around the area, showing us that the enemy had taken a lot of casualties."
   Along with the four killed, Echo Company Manchus policed up one AK-47, two K-54 pistols, one M-79 grenade launcher, several hand grenades and a large quantity of small arms  ammunition.

Cpt. Peter Schwenkmeyer, SP4 Ken Kerr Captain Peter Schwenkmeyer, dental officer, and SP4 Ken Kerr, team up to treat a patient atop Nui Ba Den.  The dental team treated more than 200 patients.  (Photo by SP5 Dan Delaney)


Careful, Nui Ba Den
Yanks Are Coming!

   TAY NINH - Wherever you are in South Vietnam dental treatment is within traveling distance when you need it.
   If you can't travel to it, it will come to you, as troopers atop Nui Ba Den found out recently when a four-man dental service team spent three days on the mountain examining, treating and counseling the men on preventive maintenance of their teeth.
   Major Thomas C. Stewart, dental officer with the 40th Medical Detachment, heads a team of dentists who travel around to 1st Brigade's outposts fixing teeth and helping to prevent tooth decay by conducting group flouride application and general dental care information meetings, informally, to give the troops a better idea of how to take care of their teeth.
   Specialist Four Kenneth N. Kerr, Dallas, dental assistant assigned to Company D, 25th Medical Battalion, sterilized instruments, mixed fillings and made records assisting all three dentists as they worked in operative dentistry and surgery in the mess hall.
   Captains Peter H. Schwenkmeyer, Cincinnati, and H. Bruce Clapp, Raleigh, N.C., both of Company D, 25th Med., working with Major Stewart, examined the teeth of all of the men on the mountain, putting in fillings when possible and pulling the tooth when it was beyond hope.
   "Our program here is to emphasize effective hygienic measures to stop decaying action," said Major Stewart, "Most of the work we do in the field is of a temporary type, to last until the soldier can get into our offices for more extensive treatment."


Australian Suzanne Matson CU CHI - SP5 Larry Wilson of Von Ormy, Tex., took his camera to the Waikaiki East swimming pool recently and focused it on Miss Suzanne Matson, an Australian entertainer who was catching some afternoon sun.  "My buddies had to dare me to take the picture," Wilson said.  "But when I talked to her she turned out to be bashful, too."  (Photo By SP5 Larry Wilson)



Thanks to:
Roger Welt, 4th Bn., 23rd Inf., and a Tropic Lightning News correspondent, for sharing this issue,
Kirk Ramsey, 2nd Bn., 14th Inf. for creating this page.

This page last modified 03-14-2006

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