Vol 5 No. 22 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS June 15, 1970
|Unit Page||Unit Page||Unit Page||Unit Page|
|1/5 6||2/12 8||25th Inf 3||4/23 1|
|1/8 Arty 1||2/14 3||25th Inf Photos 7||4/23 6|
|12th Evac Photo 7||2/22 1||242th ASHC 8||7/11 Arty 3|
|116 AHC 8||2/22 8||269th Avn Bn 8||7/11 Arty Photo 3|
|187 AHC 3||2/47 Photo 1||3/4 Cav Photo 3||75th Rangers Photo 2|
|187 AHC 8||2/47 Photo 8||3/22 Photo 8||94th Maint 7|
|2/12 3||25th Med Bn 4||4/9 Photo 2||Caches - Photos 7|
|2/12 6||25th Med Bn Photos 4||4/23 1|
By SP4 WILLIAM L. MCGOWN
FSB SHARRON, Cambodia - "We were on this road passing an open field near a village. The first jeep had already passed the open zone when the enemy opened up with rocket-propelled grenades (RPG) and automatic weapons fire."
Command Sergeant Major August A. Myszka of Columbus, Ga., was describing a Cambodian MEDCAP. The coordinator for the 25th Division's 1st Battalion, 8th Field Artillery MEDCAPs was explaining differences between Cambodian MEDCAPs and those in Vietnam.
"Over there (Vietnam) we simply set up a medical aid station at the main gate and the people came to see us," said Private First Class Kerry W. Fleming of Princeton, W. Va. "Here we have to drive around and look for patients and so here we have to go out heavily armed."
Myszka said the ambush had occurred the day before.
"One RPG round hit right in front of our jeep and one just behind us, wounding my driver. I told him to keep weaving from side to side because we were directly in their kill zone. Meanwhile, I tried to return fire on them.
"Judging from the fire bursts and flashings I saw, there must have been 20 to 25 of them," said Myszka. "With the automatic fire power they had, they could have hit us worse. But instead of letting us drive into their line of fire, they tried to follow us. The fact that we kept moving and zig-zagging was the only thing that saved us."
The medics were able to treat the two wounded men on the spot since neither was hurt seriously. A subsequent search of the village found it deserted except for expended ammo casings, cigarette butts and blood trails.
The next morning extra security escorts were sent out with the MEDCAP vehicle.
"This is a necessary precaution," said Myszka, "since over here we don't know where or when the enemy will strike."
Major Bobby L. Rice of Knoxville, Tenn., executive officer of the 1st Bn, 8th Arty, explained the purpose of the MEDCAP to the village elders in French. Then he began passing out candy to the children to interest them in the project.
Soon the patients began to trickle in - a girl with a scraped knee, a boy with stomach trouble, a baby with an infection.
"As a doctor, I do not see much difference in the Cambodian MEDCAPS from those in Vietnam," observed 25th Division Artillery surgeon, Captain Charles R. Lyons Jr. from Francisville, Ind. "Ulcerated skin infections are the most common ailment in both places and the children always seem to have a lot more trouble with infections.
"None of the Cambodians I saw today appeared to be undernourished," the doctor said. "However, we see more people in a Vietnam MEDCAP - anywhere from 25 to 50. I think that is because the Vietnam MEDCAPs are coordinated through the local hamlet chiefs. Here we just go out on the road with no civilian coordination and the people are not quite used to us yet."
Fleming added that the villagers showed their appreciation for the doctor's efforts. "One of the local boys climbed a coconut tree and pulled off a dozen or so. After testing each for milk, the villagers presented all the good ones to the medics."
The MEDCAP proceeded to several more villages but attracted even fewer people.
"I'm afraid the VC have put the word to these people not to have anything to do with us," said Rice. "They seem to think that if they accept help from us, the VC will come back and punish them.
Trapped Platoon Hits Ambushers
By SGT MIKE KEYSTER
KATUM - Despite the fact that the Communists were the ambushers, they ended up on the short end recently when the 25th Division's Alfa Company, 4th Battalion (Mech.), 23rd Infantry, quickly returned fire and killed ten of the enemy.
The 4/23rd "Tomahawks" were traveling in a file formation near the village of Ph Khley, about two mile; inside the "Dog's Face" region of Camboida, when the Reds struck.
Initially, two flame tracks were hit with command detonated mines. Neither APC exploded.
First Lieutenant Steven Sarfati, whose platoon was leading the formation, said the enemy opened up as his men were dismounting to check out footprints, commo wire and bunkers.
"The enemy seemed far away from my platoon," he said. "But we got fire from all around us."
"We were pinned down," said Specialist 4 Dan Erickson of Eau Claire, Wis. "There were snipers all over in the trees just waiting for us."
Sergeant First Class David Jones, acting platoon leader, credited one of his squad leaders, Sergeant Ken Kajenke, with knocking out three enemy snipers. Kajenke, said Jones, "saw movement in a tree to our left. He fired and two snipers fell. We received more incoming rounds and he knocked out another sniper."
The Tomahawks continued firing on the suspected enemy positions until all incoming had stopped. Despite the heavy enemy small, automatic and rocket-propelled grenade fire from both flanks, Alfa sustained only three slightly wounded personnel.
Besides the ten Communists killed, the GIs spotted numerous blood trails.
Deuce Raids Complex
By SP4 HENRY G. ZUKOWSKI
SOUTH OF THE DOG'S FACE, Cambodia - Elements of the 25th Division's 2d Battalion (Mech.), 22d Infantry, recently enjoyed a "going out of business, sale," at what appeared to be an NVA "shopping center" here.
Alfa and Charlie companies, acting on aerial intelligence reports, were sent into a thickly wooded area to investigate a suspected enemy complex. The men made out like millionaires at a bargain store, but not without some enemy resistance.
"Upon nearing the huge complex, the armored personnel carriers were quickly put on line," said Private First Class James Crisp of Trenton, Ga., a member of Charlie Company. "After advancing about ten yards, we began to draw sniper fire."
The enemy were quickly overwhelmed by "Triple Deuce" firepower and the men moved on. Two NVA bodies were found.
Scores of hootches were soon visible. "There were about 50 of them," said Private First Class Tom Durham from Greenville, S.C., a Charlie Company rifleman. "With snipers still a threat, we went in cautiously, tracks and all."
The men found that the complex was sectioned off, several hootches set up as a communications center, others as living quarters with hammocks and make-shift beds and one long hootch as a mess hall with large cooking pots and numerous fireplaces. There were also several classrooms and a place of worship nearby.
"Each hootch was different. One was filled with rice, another with uniforms and another with ammunition," Crisp recalled.
"One had a couple of sewing machines and another was filled with women's and kids' clothes," said Durham. "Still another hootch had a lot of medical supplies. It seemed just like a big shopping center back home."
The two-company sweep of the complex and surrounding area turned up a massive amount of enemy materials. Included in the day's collections were 18 RPG rounds, more than 3,000 small arms rounds, 10 tons of NVA uniforms, more than 100 tons of food, a quarter-ton truck, 550 gallons of kerosene, 275 pounds of documents, more than 50 pounds of medical supplies and four motorcycles, two bicycles, two generators and assorted communications equipment.
The men loaded as much ammunition and food as their APC's and a tracked 548 could haul.
'Hawks Ravage Sanctuary
By SGT MIKE KEYSTER
KATUM - The 25th Infantry Division's 4th Battalion (Mech.), 23rd Infantry, "Tomahawks" on their first full day of operations in Cambodia collected two separate caches housed in thatched huts and bunkers well concealed by heavy vegetation.
Charlie Company, receiving some sniper fire, used their armored personnel carriers as they rode over the tall elephant grass one mile inside Cambodia, about nine miles northwest of Katum, the battalion's rear area for the Cambodian operation.
"The area got swampy so we had to dismount our tracks," said Specialist 4 Ed Flynn of New York City.
The Tomahawks moved on foot into a woodline and came upon thatched huts and bunkers. The enemy had vacated the area but left behind 24 40-pound bags of clothing, one sewing machine, medical supplies, 400 pounds of rice and one Chi-Com submachine gun.
As Charlie Company was extracting their cache, the men of Alfa Company, operating near the Dog's Face, killed four North Vietnamese soldiers and detained three.
Alfa's 1st Platoon spotted the enemy. Specialist 4 Bob Hamilton of Gary, Ind., said, "We saw seven in an open field, running toward a nearby woodline."
"They had rucksacks and rifles," added Specialist 4 Terry Huber of Riverdale, N.J.
Artillery and two Cobra gunships were called in to prep the area for a sweep. A search of the area turned up one NVA soldier killed.
As the sweep continued through a clump of elephant grass, a North Vietnamese soldier suddenly rolled over in his hidden position and threw a grenade at the advancing GIs.
Three Americans were wounded in the blast, none seriously. Immediately, the NVA's position was peppered with fire, killing the enemy.
A further search revealed two wounded NVA, One of whom later died. Another NVA, who was seen running from the advancing sweep, was also killed.
Later, with the search completed, when "everybody was packed up and ready to go back to the laager site, out of the bushes came two NVA with a white flag, said Specialist 4 Pat MacDonald of Bay City, Mich.
Equipment captured in the contact area included one light machine gun, three AK-47 rifles, one SKS rifle, hand grenades, AK ammunition and assorted field gear.
|FIREFIGHT - Enemy snipers who opened up on a reconnaissance unit of Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion (Mech.), 47th Infantry (under operational control of the 25th Division), are driven off by riflemen of the unit. (Photo by SGT Dan Delaney)|
Page 2 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS June 15, 1970
|SFC Charles A. Forse, Co B, 2d Bn, 27th Inf||PFC Donald Jackson, Co C, 1st Bn, 5th Inf|
DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS
WO1 Terrian Bachi, HHB, Div Arty
WO1 John M. Lanning, HHB, Div Arty
|SP4 Robert W. Tobey, HHB, Div Arty|
CPT Robert L. Adams, Co E, 725th Maint Bn
1LT Charles L. Gant Jr, Co B, 25th Avn Bn
1SG Joseph M. West, 25th Admin Co
SPC Donald R. Brock, Co B, 25th Avn Bn
SP4 Marc L. Knoles, Co E, 725th Maint Bn
SP4 James E. Krause, Co E, 725th Maint Bn
BRONZE STAR (VALOR)
SP4 Robert Ney, HHT, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav
SP4 Sammy W. Nugent, HHC, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
SP4 Arthur Olivas, Co C, 3d Bn, 22d Inf
SP4 Joseph A. Pereira, Co A, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
SP4 Roger E. Ramage, A Btry, 7th Bn, 11th Fld Arty
SP4 Donald E. Roach, A Btry, 7th Bn, 11th Fld Arty
SP4 Steven L. Sessions, HHC, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
SP4 Gary M. Smith, HHC, 3d Bn, 22d Inf
SP4 Russell C. Tipton, Co C, 3d Bn, 22d Inf
SP4 Lornie B. Wagnor, Co A, 2d Bn, 12th Inf
SP4 Ronald E. York, HHC, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
PFC Bernard Backsman, Co A, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
PFC Steven W. Bailey, HHC, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
1LT John H. Duncan, 25th MP Co
1LT Robert M. Sees, Co C, 2d Bn, 22d Inf
1LT Robert G. Umble, Co C, 2d Bn, 22d Inf
2LT Eric C. Schmidt, Co C, 3d Bn, 22d Inf
SFC Douglas H. Loomis, Co C, 3d Bn, 22d Inf
SSG Lowell W. Brown, Co C, 3d Bn, 22d Inf
SSG George Fleming, Co C, 2d Bn, 22d Inf
SSG Ronald L. Galluzzo, Co C, 3d Bn, 22d Inf
SGT Rex A. Daniel, Co C, 3d Bn, 22d Inf
SGT Daniel Farmer, Co C, 2d Bn, 22d Inf
SGT John Hendrix, Co C, 3d Bn, 22d Inf
SGT Larry G. Lowrance, Co C, 3d Bn, 22d Inf
SGT Edward Miesenheimer, Co C, 3d Bn, 22d Inf
SGT Jimmie W. Mims, 25th MP Co
SGT Ronald Moody, Co C, 3d Bn, 22d Inf
SGT Clark E. Slothower Co C 3d Bn 22d Inf
SGT Larry P. Thompson, Co C, 3d Bn, 22d Inf
SP4 James Griffith, Co C, 3d Bn, 22d Inf
SP4 Bobby G. Jolliff, Co C, 3d Bn, 22d Inf
SP4 David Ledterman, Co C, 2d Bn, 22d Inf
SP4 Michael V. Mc Iver, Co C. 3d Bn, 22d Inf
SP4 Bruce A. Mills, Co C, 3d Bn, 22d Inf
SP4 Michael J. Morea, 25th MP Co
SP4 Michael G. Pasowicz, Co C, 3d Bn, 22d Inf
SP4 Larry L. Roth, Co C, 3d Bn, 22d Inf
SP4 Larry P. Siebenthal, Co C, 3d Bn, 22d Inf
SP4 Ray Simpson, Co C, 3d Bn, 22d Inf
SP4 John W. Sunberg, Co C, 3d Bn, 22d Inf
SP4 Ricky White, Co C, 3d Bn, 22d Inf
PFC Robert A. Brault, Co C, 3d Bn, 22d Inf
PFC William C. Easton, 25th MP Co
PFC Robert Enoch, Co C, 3d Bn, 22d Inf
PFC Jerry B. Lozier, Co C, 3d Bn, 22d Inf
PFC Lillard B. Manning, Co C, 3d Bn, 22d Inf
PFC Richard C. Markham, Co C, 3d Bn, 22d Inf
PFC Phillip L. Martin, Co C, 3d Bn, 22d Inf
PFC John D. Meadows, Co C, 3d Bn, 22d Inf
PFC John E. Phillips, Co C, 3d Bn, 22d Inf
PFC Percy L. Ricks Jr., Co C, 3d Bn, 22d Inf
PFC George Rowe Jr., Co C, 3d Bn, 22d Inf
PFC Gary J. Stannish, Co C, 3d Bn, 22d Inf
PFC Jerry W. Boner, Co A, 2d Bn, 12th Inf
PFC Michael E. Braun, HHC, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
PFC Thomas L. Broadway, Co D, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
PFC Hermon Fennell, Co A, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
PFC Paul D. Francois, Co D, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
PFC Gary C. Heine, Co B, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
PFC Carl E. Herd, Co A, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
PFC Charles B. Kostrezewa, HHC, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
PFC Donald L. Krol, HHC, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
PFC Robert D. Lowman, HHC, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
CPT Charles E. Criswell, Co B, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
CPT Bennet S. Jones, Co D, 2d Bn, 14th Inf
CPT Charles C. Garifino, HHC, 25th Avn Bn
CPT Mitchell Meilstrup, Co C, 1st Bn, 5th Inf
|WATCH OUT WHERE YOU STAND when you connect your claymores. The man on the left is taking a big chance by standing in front of the claymore mine he is hooking up. If he's lucky, it will not go off. But with his buddy holding the detonator an accident could happen and then he'll need more than luck. Be safe. Make it a rule always to stand behind the claymore when connecting the wires and never let another man bother the detonator while your working.|
Ranger Scout Wins Combat Honor Award
A 25th Infantry Division soldier who distinguished himself by exposing himself to enemy fire without regard to his own safety in order to rout the enemy has been added to the Tropic Lightning Combat Honor Roll.
Sergeant Fred B. Stuckey of Longview, Tex., earned the award while serving as a scout observer for an element of Company F (Rangers), 75th Infantry, on April 2.
The Ranger Team was on a reconnaissance mission when it came under intense enemy fire. Stuckey was in the front of the formation and with complete disregard for his own safety, exposed himself several times to enemy fire as he positioned himself to return effective fire on the hostile force.
|Lieutenant Colonel Robert Welsh of Fairfax, Va. recently took command of the 25th Infantry Division's 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry, in ceremonies at Fire Support Base Le Loi.|
Tropic Lightning Tots
The Commanding General Welcomes
The Following Tropic Lightning Tots
To The 25th Infantry Division As
Reported By The American Red Cross.
SP4 Ira Cochran, HHC, 3rd Bn, 25th Inf, girl
SP4 James Walker, C Co, 3d Bn, 22d Inf, girl
SGT Johnny Pate, A Co, 2nd Bn, 12th Inf, girl
SGT David Blaney, B-588th, girl
SGT Lyle E. Silverthorn, C Co, 1st Bn, 27th Inf, girl
SGT George J. White, HHC, 2nd Bn, 12th Inf, girl
PFC Efrain Echevarria, B Btry, 2nd Bn, 77th Arty, girl
SP4 Stephen D. Russell, A Co, 125th Sig, 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 Edward Bautz, Jr . . . . . . Commanding General
MAJ Warren J. Field . . . . . . Information Officer
1LT John Caspari . . . . . . . . . Officer-in-Charge
SSG Stephen F. Veroczi . . . . NCOIC
SP4 Charles C. Self . . . . . . . . Editor
SP5 Gary D. Sciortino . . . . . Assistant Editor
PFC Joseph V. Kocian . . . . . Production Supervisor
|SGT Bill Obelholzer
SP4 Jim Williams
SGT Wally Baker
SP4 Greg Stanmar
SP4 Doug Sainsbury
SP4 Ken Barron
SP4 Greg Duncan
SP4 Brad Yaeger
SP4 Frank Rezzonico
SP4 Dan Neff
SP4 Henry Zukowski, Jr
|SP4 Joe O'Rourke
PFC Ray Byrne
SGT William E. Zarrett
SP4 Robert Caplan
SP4 Brian Flaherty
SP4 Rich Fitzpatrick
PFC Rob Lato
SP4 Frank Salerno
SP4 Lawrence Merritt
SP4 William McGown
Page 3 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS June 15, 1970
|CLOUDS OF DUST -- Clouds of dust and flying debris burst from around a Sheridan armored vehicle as its 152mm main gun blasts away at the enemy. The Sheridan belongs to the 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry. (Photo by SP4 Joe O'Rourke)|
Rear Ranks Move Forward
By SP4 TOM BENN
THIEN NGON -- For American infantrymen and artillerymen, living in a foxhole in the middle of nowhere is nothing new.
But for the clerks, cooks and rear-echelon soldiers of Headquarters Battery, 7th Battalion, 11th Artillery, moving away from the relative safety and comfort of Tay Ninh base camp to the boonies of Thien Ngon, near the Cambodian border is an experience that took some getting used to.
For these "base camp warriors," a soft chair had to be abandoned for sandbags and culverts. Suntans lost in the base camp quickly returned. Muscles gone soft from months in a supply shop have been toned up from hauling lumber for bunkers, stacking sandbags and unloading incoming supplies and mail.
The reaction of some of the Headquarters Battery personnel to their new surroundings was surprisingly favorable, considering that most of the men had to leave the TV sets, electric fans and refrigerators in Tay Ninh.
"It's great," said Specialist 4 Richard Mason, a supply clerk, from Morgantown, W. Va., "except that I've never worked so hard in my life."
Asked what he missed the most about Tay Ninh, Specialist 4 Warren Anderson, of Dunseith, N.D., had to think for a moment before saying, "Just the comfort of the bunker, I guess."
Specialist 4 Gene Gagner, a surveyor like Anderson, echoed his buddy's feelings. "I miss the luxuries," he claimed.
He continued, however, "I still kind of like it here."
The atmosphere at Thien Ngon was busy. GI's were rushing in every direction trying to do their part to make Them Ngon just a little more like home - or at least a little more like Tay Ninh.
Crusaders Move GI's into Battles
BY SGT DAN DELANEY
THIEN NGON - During the first day of the 25th Infantry Division's strike into Cambodia, the 187th Assault Helicopter Company carried more than 150 men into battle from the forward staging area at Thien Ngon.
Once off the ships the units took up positions at the bridgehead on the Rach Ca Bach River, and were set down in inland rice paddies near the Cambodian village of Tramean Pring and other places.
Pilots and crewmen knew what their passengers were going into, and so did the passengers. Their faces showed the strain of being ready to go, the strain of weeks in the field. But they went, carrying their weapons and their C's and water with them.
Flying combat assaults is done in formation, so the pilots concentrate on their position in the formation. When things happen on the ground, the pilots know it, they hear the calls for help, they see the smoke rising from battles on the ground and they see the dustoff ships being guided in. But they keep on bringing in the troops, flying in formation.
How they concentrate isn't easy to understand. It takes mental and physical discipline, the constant use of finely honed skills: balance, alertness, practice.
Flying on a combat mission is not done with the mind left in a love letter back at the hootch - the mind is one with the aircraft, the mission and the formation. On a combat mission, flying is done by teamwork, each ship in the right place at the right time.
Pilots offhandedly call their ships "birds." When they fly it is easy to see why: the bulky carcasses of those Huey's perform with the grace of a flight of Canadian geese headed home for the winter.
It may be good to see the birds when they're coming in to take you out of the field, but the feeling isn't so good when the flight is preparing to take you in the other direction. Crusader pilots have both jobs, taking men out and taking them in.
Together They Stood;
Together They Stayed
By SP4 ED TOULOUSE
FSB KIEN - Two troopers from the 25th Division's Delta Company, 2d Battalion, 12th Infantry, Specialists 4 Joe Haberstadt and Mike Helms, who live within three miles of each other on the outskirts of Richmond, Ind., have won a moral, even though perhaps a Pyrrhic victory over the "notorious O.D. computer."
Helms and Haberstadt, resisting all efforts to the contrary, have managed to stay together since entering the Army on Feb. 3, 1969.
When asked if they defeated the computer by chance alone, Haberstadt smiled.
"No, I don't think luck had too much to do with it. We got over on the computer legitimately. I attribute our success to prior planning. Since being in the Army, we have managed to stay next to each other in every line and formation we've encountered, and that is no small feat."
Helms looked at things a little more philosophically.
"I suppose we did win a battle, but actually the computer won the war. My overseas tour was supposed to be in Germany."
|ROUGH SLEEP -- Staying on the guns all night to provide fire support for operations in Cambodia, Specialist 4 Dennis R. Garnoe of Burlington, Iowa, an assistant gunner with Bravo Battery, 7th Battalion, 11th Field Artillery, has learned to take a break in place. (Photo by SP4 Bill McGowan)|
One way to make a first sergeant happy the next time he is in the field is to name the company's hard spot after him. Members of Charlie Company, 2d Battalion, 14th Infantry, did just that when they set up outside the village of Binh Thanh.
Since First Sergeant Jesse Selly from Columbus, Ga., was getting short, members of the third platoon decided to name their new residence after him. A sign was constructed and placed at the gate.
At last report the first sergeant was still out there admiring it.
Grips Grab Smoker Who Just Can't Quit
EDITOR'S NOTE: June 8 through 20 has been set for a national TB (tuberculosis) KICK THE HABIT campaign. The following account was written by 25th Division radio correspondent Steve Kroft who is a heavy smoker.
Smoking is one of the easiest things in the world to give up. I've done it hundreds of times. I've given it up for lent and passover. I've promised to give myself a Christmas present by abstaining, and vowed on my last five birthdays never to inhale anything stronger than carbon dioxide.
But today I am experiencing the strongest form of motivation thrust upon most heavy smokers. Today I've come down with my quarterly case of the "grips."
For you non-smokers, I will try and explain the "grips." Every three or four months, depending on the provocation, my body stages a moratorium protesting the unnecessary pollution of my body.
An organization of foreign matter is staging a sit-in in my lungs, while another group is picketing my wind pipe. Still another group has moved on my optic nerve with chemical agent. My eyes have been watering profusely now for hours.
The most distressing part of the grips is that they destroy my seemingly credible front as a mature, intelligent individual. It is difficult to appear suave and sophisticated while staggering around gasping for air. My usually healthy cough has turned into a desperate, gurgling sound.
In the past I have bought off the grips with idle promises. "I'll have to cut down." Or "This is the last pack of cigarettes I'm ever going to buy." These promises usually are reinforced with some token gesture such as throwing away a half-empty pack of smokes.
But as soon as my lungs are cleared and the normal flow of traffic resumes in my esophagus, I've always reverted to my old bad habits. And as each crisis dies down, I tend to play down the importance of the dissent. I must admit that I have even shown contempt for the impending dangers of my ways. I've always based my defense on an antidote attributed to Mark Twain. It seems that Twain's doctor told him that if he would quit smoking he could live another 10 years. Twain replied, "If I quit smoking, I wouldn't want to live another 10 years." Ho, Ho, Ho.
But that was before this current bout with the advocates of clean living began deep inside my body. And it appears this time they want their own way. The pollution issue has become secondary, and this final protest seems more concerned with the senseless slaughter of lung tissue.
I am afraid idle promises will not do this time. While Mark Twain is one of my favorite writers, I must cast aside his advice and seek a new literary ideal.
After five months in Vietnam, there seems to be nothing glamorous about a ten-year early out from the World.
Page 4-5 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS June 15, 1970
MEDCAP Swings with Soul
CU CHI - The small village of Trung An, 10 miles east of Cu Chi, recently experienced a touch of soul from "Fred and the Carusouls," the soul group of the 25th Division band.
The group, led by singer-Staff Sergeant Fred "Caruso" Jones of Los Angeles, accompanied a MEDCAP from the 25th Medical Battalion to the village. Such soulful numbers as "Funky Broadway" and "The Horse" seemed to delight young and old alike and even moved some of the villagers to tap their feet and shake their heads to the beat.
The idea of providing musical entertainment on MEDCAP missions started with the Tropic Lightning Division three years ago.
The purpose of the entertainment is to attract the villagers to the MEDCAP facility. When the musicians "take-five," the MEDCAP crew begins its job. Medical attention and dental care are given to the villagers, as well as instruction in personal hygiene.
The 25th "Med" employs Vietnamese girls to provide the villagers with the medical attention they need. These girls are trained for eight weeks in first aid, preventive dentistry, personal hygiene, and preventive medicine.
The personnel of the Med battalion work as advisors on the MEDCAP and give assistance only in cases where attention cannot be provided by the Vietnamese aides. For the most part, the aides and other Vietnamese medical personnel perform all the duties required on the MEDCAP.
Village children are given instruction in dental hygiene. They are shown how to properly brush their teeth and they give themselves flouride brushings under the direction of the Vietnamese medical aides. The kids also are warned of the dangers resulting from improper dental hygiene.
Meanwhile, the seven soul musicians who make up the "Carusouls" tune their instruments for the next "set." Again, the group begins to woo the villagers with their up-tempo arrangements.
The result is better health, new friends and a lot of soul.
Story and Photos
|Two band members pause to exchange gags with young villagers.|
|"This is the way we brush our teeth."|
|MEDCAP aide helps young.|
|Doctor and Vietnamese aide examine villager.|
|Fred Jones croons the blues.|
|Kids display talent on congo drums.|
|"A bird in the hand..."|
Page 6 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS June 15, 1970
Says He'll Go Back
Bobcat Describes Home in Cambodia
By SP4 RICH FITZPATRICK
TAY NINH - When PFC Bob Thornton crossed into Cambodia with the 1st Battalion (Mech.), 5th Infantry, his first thought might have been, "Wow, I'm finally home!"
In 1959 his family left Union City, Tenn., and moved to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where his father was an advisor to the Bureau of Public Roads. "While his father worked on "Friendship Highway" between Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville (now called Kompo Som), Bob attended grammar and junior high school in Phnom Penh.
During this time he and his family made frequent trips to Saigon.
"We used to fly to Saigon once a month. It was a beautiful town and it had ice cream and sodas which were difficult to find in Cambodia. It was sort of like an R&R for us," Thornton explained recently.
There being no English-language high school in Phnom Penh, he moved to Saigon to attend an American-run school. However, in 1964, when US-Cambodian diplomatic relations were dissolved, the Thorntons returned to America.
Less than two years later, the family was back in Indo-China. This time they moved to Bangkok, Thailand, where Thornton completed high school.
Returning to the States, he attended East Tennessee State University. In 1969, Thornton was drafted into the Army and is now serving as a rifleman with the Recon Platoon of the 25th's 1st Battalion (Mech.), 5th Infantry.
FITZPATRICK: What is the first difference you noticed between living here before and being over here in the Army?
THORNTON: Living conditions is the big change. I've seen lots of monsoon seasons but never on a track or wading in the mud. I never noticed the heat as much as now because we always had air-conditioning.
FITZPATRICK: Did your unit participate in the move into Cambodia?
THORNTON: We sure did! We were right there in the middle of the action. I did enjoy talking to the villagers. I was surprised at how easily the language came back to me. It was good to go back - but I didn't like the way I had to go.
FITZPATRICK: What about the Vietnamese people? Do they seem any different than when you were first here?
THORNTON: The people are more Americanized now. When I was here before, they stared at you when you walked down the street. It was kind of like being a movie star in the states. Before, they were a simple people with a simple life. Now the whole world's attention is focused on them.
It is not the same life-style they had before. They've become hard -- you know what I mean? Now they're starting to become complicated just like everyone else in the world. It's kind of sad.
FITZPATRICK: Do you think that having lived over here prepared you for this tour?
THORNTON: Growing up in Indochina is the best thing that ever happened to me. When most of the guys come over here they complain about the smell or this or that doesn't quite match U.S. standards. Well, I'm used to all that - it was just like coming home for me.
FITZPATRICK: What would you say is the most important thing you've learned by living abroad?
THORNTON: You learn that there are other people beside Americans and different languages and different religions and political systems that are not like ours. And you learn that just because they are different doesn't make them wrong.
FITZPATRICK: What plans do you have for the future?
THORNTON: I'm going back to finish college, then go into the Foreign Service. I'll major in Southeast Asian Affairs.
Views of Katum
|Ilikai East by Night
WED Floor Show (8 p.m.)
THU Soundout `70 Discussion (8 p.m.)
FRI Cookout on Patio (8 p.m.)
SAT Films and Popscom (7:30 p.m.)
SUN Coffee Call (10 a.m.)
Bingo (8 p.m.)
MON Zodiac Discussion (8 p.m.)
TUE Note-able Birthday Party (8 p.m.)
Ask Sgt. Certain
DEAR SGT CERTAIN -- During recent operations inside Cambodia I located 4 crew-served weapons, 13 AK-47s, 53 tons of rice, two mortar tubes and an M-47 Chi-Com protective mask. I'm about to DEROS returning to the United States where I will ETS and return to college. What should I do with all this equipment?
DEAR FINDERS -- Army regulations require that all equipment found during operations against the enemy be turned in to G-2 for analysis. However, since you're going back to school in the world, try to get G-2 to return the protective mask to you as a souvenir after they have finished with it. You might need it in college.
DEAR SGT CERTAIN: Since I have a brithday this month, I have just received an invitation to my birthday party at the Ilikai East Service Club. Of course, I'd like to go but my company is working inside Cambodia. What can I do?
Wishing I were back
DEAR WISHING -- While birthdays may be important and everybody deserves a party, getting you to Cu Chi might be logistically inconvenient. What you'll have to do is have your own field-expedient party. Take the pound cake from your case of C's, cover it with a disc of chocolate and add the appropriate number of lit matches. And since you're in the field, you'd better sing "Happy Birthday" very softly.
Page 7 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS June 15, 1970
In Cambodian Operations
And the Caches Just Keep on Comin'
As 25th Infantry Division troops continued operations inside Cambodia, more and more enemy supplies were laboriously ferreted out. The cache photos on this page were taken in Cambodia by correspondents SP4 Greg Stanmar (top left), SGT Dan Delaney (top right), SP4 Rich Erickson (bottom left) and SP4 Frank Rezzonico (bottom right).
'I Felt Grateful'
CU CHI -- GI Steven Secory toils for the U.S. Army by day and serves as a Red Cross volunteer in the evening.
The American Red Cross, almost exclusively a volunteer organization in the United States, has few volunteers in Vietnam, because not many can spare the time.
But Secory is one who finds the time. Regularly occupied in the mess hall of the 94th Maintenance Company in Cu Chi, the 20-year old serviceman spends much of his off-duty time at the 12th Evacuation Hospital there.
It all began last March when he was making daily visits to his mess sergeant who was hospitalized with a heart attack. "I thought maybe I could help out other patients by visiting with them, writing letters for them, or something. I asked the nurse and she sent me to the Red Cross. They were glad to see me."
Steve has seven months time in Vietnam and intends to continue his Red Cross volunteer work. His big project now is decorating the hospital's Red Cross recreation lounge. He has recruited some friends to help paint the lounge and is hunting for colorful psychedelic posters to decorate the walls.
"It makes me happy to know I'm doing some positive good in this war," Steve said. "There was this little Vietnamese girl they put on the helicopter with me when I came to Cu Chi. She had shrapnel wounds on her head, arms and legs. "They put her in my lap and I held her all the way here. She was so little, so small and did not have anything to do with the war, but still she's had to suffer for it
"When I first came over to the hospital, there were a lot of wounded, some crippled for life. I felt grateful that I was alright and wanted to do something to make it easier for them."
|HELPING WOUNDED GIs -- Steve Secory, mess clerk and Red Cross volunteer, paints walls in an effort to brighten up the 12th Evacuation hospital's Red Cross recreation lounge. (Photo by John Hendrickson)|
Page 8 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS June 15, 1970
269th in Cambodia
'To Hover is Devine'
By SP4 GEORGE GRAHAM
CU CHI - The first helicopter unit to cross over the Cambodian border was still busily transporting staggering numbers of troops and supplies into the former enemy haven after three weeks into the operation.
The men of the 269th Aviation Battalion (Combat), headquartered at the 25th Division's Cu Chi Base Camp since March, 1967, continued to put long hours of work into their 73 helicopters for the operation that started for them on May 6th.
Known as the "Black Barons," the battalion used three companies - the 116th and 187th Assault Helicopter Companies (AHC) and the 242d Assault Support Company - to perform more than 7,000 sorties so far in Cambodia. (A sortie is a hop - each time a ship lands to insert or extract troops and then flies to a new LZ or base.)
Until the Cambodian operations began, the 269th's three companies had worked exclusively in the III Corps area, primarily over the Hobo Woods.
The 116th, working out of Cu Chi, and the 187th, out of Tay Ninh, supplied the firepower and agility for troop insertions and extractions. The 242d Support Company, also at Cu Chi, muscled its way to the field troops with supplies and reinforcements.
The Hornets of the 116th, commanded by Major Gerald Kunde of South Point, Ohio, has 28 ships, seven of them gunners. The gunships acted as escorts for the slicks, the UH-lDs and UH-1Hs, whose primary mission was to wiggle in and out of LZs on insertions, extractions and medevacs.
The Tay Ninh "Crusaders," the men of the 187th AHC, maintain 29 helicopters. Their Cobra gunships and Huey "slicks," according to 187th commander Major John Gantt from Kingsport, Tenn., had flown more missions than any other combat assault aviation unit in Vietnam.
The mule is a beast of burden and so "Muleskinner" was an appropriate name for the 242d Assault Support Helicopter Company. Their 16 CH-47 "Chinooks" have hauled everything from water buffalo to observation towers through the Vietnam skies.
The company brought more than 5,000 tons of supplies to field troops in Cambodia and was responsible for a large percentage of transports.
Their normal flying load is six ships flying for six hours per day. However, since May 6 their average load has increased to eight ships flying 7 hours per day.
"If this doesn't seem so much of an accomplishment," said Major Allen Hammerbeck, the Muleskinners' commanding officer, from Green Cove Springs, Fla., "consider that for every hour a Chinook is in the air, four hours of maintenance must be pulled."
An unofficial aviation motto is: "To fly is human, to hover, divine." This semi jest was surely appreciated by the field troops in Cambodia, especially when they saw the Black Baron ships bringing them food, water, reinforcements and, more important, transportation back to Vietnam.
|STACKIN' 'EM UP -- Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion (Mech.), 47th Infantry, under operational control of the 25th Division, moves out on an operation inside Cambodia. (Photo by SGT Dan Delaney)|
Make Themselves Known
Warriors Work Cambodia
By SP4 ED TOULOUSE
FISH HOOK, Cambodia - Tropic Lightning Warriors from the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry, wasted little time making their presence felt in what was their initial appearance in Cambodia.
Infantrymen from Alpha Company on operation in an area west of the "Fish Hook" confiscated a sizable cache, but not without a futile attempt by several NVA soldiers to retaliate. Three enemy were killed with no friendly casualties.
Commenting on the discovery of the cache and the ensuing enemy contact, acting company commander First Lieutenant Gary Franklin of Williamsburg, Ind., said "It was about noon when our point element found an extensive hootch and bunker complex. An initial search revealed no enemy in the area, nevertheless we set out security.
In the bunkers we found what amounted to a good sized cache - everything from nine tons of rice to a practically new sewing machine."
After the cache was brought together, the third platoon spotted several NVA soldiers in the area. A brief exchange of fire resulted in three enemy killed and three weapons captured - two AK 47's and one SKS.
"We weren't sure of the size of the enemy element," Franklin said, "But the men laid down a base of fire like out of a textbook. It stopped any prolonged return fire."
The cache, aside from the rice and the sewing machine, also included: one loaded RPG (rocket propelled grenade) launcher, AK47 ammunition, Chi-Com and home-made grenades, medical supplies, roles of plastic and wire, two hundred pounds of pepper, plus other less significant items.
A short time later operating some 2,000 meters away, the second platoon also spotted several enemy personnel and opened fire. After an exchange of fire one enemy went down, but apparently only was wounded. He escaped leaving his AK 47 behind.
"After attempts to find the wounded enemy, we discovered a rather unusual thing in the mud where he had fallen was the full imprint of his face." recalled Second Platoon Leader Walter Crookes of Danbury, Conn.
Specialist 4 Boyd Guffey a medic from Rossvilee, Ga., had a story of his own, "I was just hitting the ground as the enemy returned fire. A bullet zipped by me. I didn't realize what had happened until I noticed particles of cotton and tape on the ground."
The bullet had gone through the medical bag that Boyd was carrying.
GI Goodies Overcome Cambodian Fears
By SP4 HENRY G. ZUKOWSKI JR.
SOUTH OF THE DOG'S FACE, Cambodia - "They told us that you would rape our women and kill us; destroy our homes and slaughter our livestock."
That was the attitude the 25th Division's 2nd Battalion (Mech.), 22nd Infantry, encountered when they entered a small village here recently. The Communists had done a "good" job of indoctrinating the people -- getting them believe the worst about American fighting men.
"Most of the people had run away by the time we arrived," said Private First Class Tom Durham, of Greenville, S.C., a rifleman with Charlie Company. "Our armored personnel carriers, with their noise and size, really stunned those who remained."
The men of "Triple Deuce" realized they had to win the people over before they could expect any cooperation.
"Giving out the old reliables, such as candy and chewing gum, was good as a first step in showing the kids that we wanted to be friends," recalled Specialist 4 Roger Heard, of Donalsonville, Ga., an APC driver in Bravo Company. "And the adults liked our American cigarettes."
The sharing of C-rations and a few friendly smiles, according to one of the men, did much to allay the fears of the villagers. Those in need of medical aid were treated by company medics, thus easing the apprehension that lingered.
The crucial opportunity for improving Cambodian-American relationship in this small village was afforded by the Communists themselves.
"We detected a land mine buried near the chief's hut," said Specialist 4 Frank Salerno, of Chicago, a member of Headquarters Company. "After clearing the area, we blew it in place to show that we were their true friends and that the Communists meant them only harm."
After the demo team had done its work, the people began to more fully trust the men of Triple Deuce. The villagers were especially helpful in leading the Americans to several hiding places in the area that the Viet Cong had used to store material and equipment.
The battalion moved on several days later; but this time they knew what to expect from the people of the next village - an immense amount of fear.
But most importantly, they knew how to overcome that fear and how to win the people's friendship and respect.
|GETTING WOUNDED OUT -- A 25th Division trooper signals to a Dustoff ship to lift a jungle penetrator bearing a wounded soldier of the 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry, during operations in Cambodia. (Photo by SP4 Charles C. Self)|
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.
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