Vol 5 No. 24 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS June 29, 1970
|Unit Page||Unit Page||Unit Page||Unit Page|
|1/8 Arty 3||2/14 Photo 3||25th TAC 1||725th Maint 8|
|12th Evac 8||2/22 1||3rd Bde 1||725th Maint 8|
|116th AHC 6||2/22 3||3/13 Arty Photo 3||725th Maint Photo 8|
|2/12 1||2/22 Photo 8||4/23 Photo 1||Katum 4|
|2/12 Photo 1||2/22 8||4/23 3||Congressmen 4|
|2/12 7||25th Avn Bn Photo 6||4/23 6||Congressmen Photos 4|
|2/12 Photos 7||25th Inf Band 3|
Leaves NVA Behind
Daring Downed Flyer Evades Enemies
By SP4 RICH DOMBROWICKI
CU CHI - "I never thought I'd get away alive."
Warrant Officer Kenneth E. Thiem, a helicopter pilot with the 25th Infantry Division's 3rd Brigade, had been shot down, killed three enemy soldiers and cheated death a half-dozen times, all within about two and one half hours.
He had been flying a routine mission over a thick rubber plantation when his light observation helicopter (LOH) received ground fire. Bullets ripped through the motor and flooring, wounding Thiem in both arms and legs with shrapnel.
"At the time I didn't even feel it. I guess I was too busy to feel the pain."
Thiem, of Florence, S.C., maintained control of the aircraft down to treetop level when the rotor struck a tree and sent the chopper spinning to the ground.
"The rotor blade broke off and struck a glancing blow that split my helmet in two. A harder shot would have crushed my skull."
Dazed and shaken, Thiem found himself pinned in by the instrument panel. He struggled free, grabbed a CAR-15 (modified M-16 rifle) and started off on foot.
"It all happened so damned fast that I never had a chance to use the radio.
"I lost all sense of direction after hitting the trees, and suddenly I was running right at a machine gun and about 10 NVA. I was dumbstruck - and so were they."
Taking advantage of the enemy's surprise, Thiem fired a quick burst into the group, killing three and sending the others to cover. He raced back to the wrecked chopper, grabbed additional ammunition and ran for his life as bullets cracked around him.
Hastily recalling his position, he raced off in a direction he mistakenly thought was towards Dau Tieng.
"I ran through the woods and brush until it felt like my lungs would burst. I didn't think I had a chance, but I knew I had to keep going. When you're out there all alone with about 20 NVA on your trail, you run as fast as you can."
Then began a run-rest cycle that was to save the young officer's life. Again and again he fought his way through the thick undergrowth until exhausted. Then he'd stop to regain his wind until the pursuing enemy set him off and running again.
"Once I got down into a shallow bomb crater where I burned my SOI and waited for them. The sun was high and hot. I felt dizzy and got sick to my stomach. But when I saw them coming, I fired off a burst and headed for the woods again."
Meanwhile, an air search was underway for the overdue flyer. Twenty-fifth Division helicopters and Air Force forward air controllers (FACs) combed the area for signs of the missing LOH.
In two hours Thiem had plowed through nearly three miles of dense woods.
"The jungle helped to cut down the enemy's firing potential, but it tore me to shreds."
Then he spotted a clearing.
"It was an abandoned fire support base (FSB Quick) that I had forgotten about."
The weakened airman, drained, dehydrated and near collapse, made his way to a drainage ditch for cover.
"There I hoped I would be spotted from the air while I held off the NVA. I knew they had to be searching for me by that time."
Then a glimmer of hope appeared for the beleaguered pilot. A FAC from the 25th Tactical Air Control Party flew high over the area and Thiem ripped off his tatered shirt and waved it frantically.
"The Bronco pilot spotted me. Those guys have really good eyes. It was a race to see who would reach me first - a chopper or the Commies."
Thiem discovered he had only four rounds left.
"I figured this was it. I had to stay there and hope that I could hold them off until help came. And I knew I couldn't go any further - I was just too worn out."
Within minutes, fellow 3rd Brigade pilot, Warrant Officer Craig Tate, sped his LOH into the area.
"I landed as quickly as I could as Thiem stumbled toward me," said Tate, of Riverside, Calif. "He dove into the back seat and screamed, 'Get the hell out of here!"
The LOH sped up and away. The men looked back to see several NVA emerge from the woods and watch helplessly as the chopper flew out of range to safety.
Thiem, who already holds one Distinguished Flying Cross and a Bronze Star for Valor, slumped in his seat and just breathed.
Foes' Litter Aids Warriors
By SP4 ED TOULOUSE
KATUM -- Twenty-Fifth Division "Warriors" of Delta Company, 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry, "cached in" on the enemy's litterbug-ways during a recent Cambodian operation west of the "Fishhook."
"We were moving slowly through a thick area," recalled first platoon pointman, Specialist 4 Ken Plummer, of Jersyvilled, Ill. "In the distance I spotted some enemy equipment lying scattered around several hootches and bunkers.
"We moved in carefully but met no enemy resistance," Plummer continued. "This was rather peculiar because on the ground we found canteens, cooked rice, pots, pans, Chi-Com C-4 and three American-made LAWs (Light Anti-Tank Weapons). We also discovered a clothesline with an NVA uniform hanging out to dry."
"The search led us into the underground bunkers," added 1st Lieutenant Edward Nagim, of Springfield, Ill. "The ease with which we found this area made all the men nervous. Suddenly, someone spotted movement in the brush. We all hit the ground anticipating enemy action."
The enemy turned out to be some very domesticated NVA chickens.
A more detailed search of the area was worth the GIs effort. They uncovered ten Russian-made .30 caliber machine guns, approximately 200 mortar rounds, 140 Chi-Com grenades, 300 pounds of Chi-Com C-4, 13 107mm rounds, four and a half cases of 7.62 ammo., medical equipment -- including ten artificial respirators, 14 tons of rice and six pigs.
Commenting on the enemy's littering habits, Specialist 4 Richard Greene, of Colorado Springs, Colo., said, "It appeared as if the enemy had moved out so fast that he just didn't have time to take everything with him."
|FOLLOW ME -- A member of Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry "Warriors," keeps low while on an operation west of the Fishhook region of Cambodia. (Photo by SP4 Ed Toulouse)|
Rallier Describes Complex Caches
By SP4 HENRY G' ZUKOWSKI
SOUTH OF HIGHWAY 7, Cambodia -- A former North Vietnamese soldier led a 25th Division mechanized unit to a large arms cache recently, one mile inside Cambodia west of the "Fishhook."
"There is a large complex with buried arms in the center which I will lead you to," said the rallier. "Four hootches pointing in all directions, north, east, south and west. Two-hundred meters from each hootch you will find the arms."
Led by the rallier, the men of Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion (Mech.), 22nd Infantry, mounted their armored personnel carriers and started for the enemy complex.
"Upon nearing the hootch and bunker complex we began to take sporadic sniper fire," said Sergeant Daniel Jacobs, from Niles, Mich., a squad leader. "We then proceeded to probe with even more caution."
Checking each hootch and bunker, the men of "Triple Deuce" worked their way into the center of the presumed enemy base camp without attracting any additional fire.
"Evidentally, three or four NVA had stayed behind to guard the weapons," said Specialist 4 David Rodriguez, of Sanangel, Tex. "We again received fire when one of our light machine guns began to spray the area."
The men worked their way on line to increase their fire superiority. Using M-60 machine guns, grenade launchers and small arms they quickly ended the enemy's resistance, killing two.
Continuing the search, the GIs soon found the well-concealed cache. They uncovered two Chi-Com submachine guns, one light Chi-Com machine gun, three M-16 rifles, three grenade launchers, two Brownie automatic rifles, 10 Chi-Com hand grenades, three rocket propelled grenades, NVA webgear and clothing, and numerous small arms ammunition.
"The arms were well oiled and ready to fire," added Jacobs. "So, I'm sure glad that we found them before they had the chance to be used on us."
|ROLLING ON -- 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry armored Personnel carrier grinds through the mud of a swollen Cambodian stream while heading back to a Night Defensive Position near Memut after capturing 29.5 tons of rice and discovering several enemy base camps. (Photo by SGT Mike Keyster)|
Page 2 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS June 29, 1970
SP4 James J. Fox, Co A, 4th Bn, 9th Inf
SP4 Dennis Golden, Co D, 4th Bn, 9th Inf
SP4 John P. Schaad, Co D, 4th Bn, 9th Inf
PFC Alexander P. Ott, Co A, 4th Bn, 9th Inf
DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS
MAJ William T. King, HHC, 3d Bn, 22nd Inf
CPT Robert C. Shilikas, Co B, 25th Avn Bn
1LT Charles L. Gant, Co B, 25th Avn Bn
CW2 Charles A. Poulos, D Trp, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav
CW2 John A. Riley, Co B, 25th Avn Bn
WO1 Thomas B. Haire, Co B, 25th Avn Bn
WO1 William L. Miller, Co B, 25th Avn Bn
WO1 Robert V. Rector, Co B, 25th Avn Bn
WO1 Michael J. Scholl, Co B, 25th Avn Bn
SGT James M. Gurganus, Co B, 25th Avn Bn
SP5 John D. Wade, Co B, 25th Avn Bn
SP4 Edward R. Eden, D Trp, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav
SP4 Thomas A. Montgomery, Co B, 25th Avn Bn
SP4 Gary A. Schoonover, Co B, 25th Avn Bn
|CSM Willie H. Hickey, HHT, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav|
BRONZE STAR (VALOR)
CPT John Michell, Co A, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
CPT Theadore Taylor, Co B, 2d Bn, 12th Inf
1LT Michael S. Beadle, Co A, 4th Bn, 9th Inf
1LT Joseph W. Brewster, Co C, 2d Bn, 14th Inf
1LT William N. lark, Co B, 2d Bn, 12th Inf
1LT Dennis E. Leiker, Co C, 2d Bn, 14th Inf
1LT Andrew D. Smith III, Co D, 4th Bn, 9th Inf
1LT, Martin E. Webb, Co A, 4th Bn, 9th Inf
2LT Michael J. Allison, HHC, 4th Bn, 23d Inf
2LT James W. Roy Jr, Co A, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
CSM August A. Myszka, HHSB, 1st Bn, 8th Fld Arty
SGM Albert L. Oliver, Co C, 2d Bn, 14th Inf
SFC Robert P. Johnson, Co C, 2d Bn, 14th Inf
SFC Robert D. Mickle, Co C, 2d Bn, 14th Inf
SSG Howard H. Dean, Co A, 4th Bn, 9th Inf
SSG John J. Gilbertson, Co D, 4th Bn, 9th Inf
SSG James Higginbotham, Co A, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
SSG Joseph J. Turner, Co D, 3d Bn, 22d Inf
SGT Edward Athey, HHC, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
SGT Richard L. Bowser, Co A, 4th Bn, 9th Inf
SGT Darrell Green, Co B, 1st Bn, 5th Inf
SGT Paul D. Hallison, Co E, 2d Bn, 12th Inf
SGT David V. Johnson, Co C, 3d Bn, 22nd Inf
SGT Jackson L. Johnson, Co C, 2d Bn, 14th Inf
SGT John F. Kukuk, Co B, 2d Bn, 12th Inf
SGT Albert E. May, Co A, 2d Bn, 22d Inf
SGT Jerry L McDow, Co C, 2d Bn, 14th Inf
SGT Peter R. McKenney, Co B, 3d Bn, 22d Inf
SGT Gerry R. Miller, Co A, 4th Bn, 9th Inf
SGT Joseph R. Moore, Co B, 2d Bn, 12th Inf
SGT Dennis Morin, B Trp, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav
SP4 Charles Cowart, Co B, 65th Eng Bn
SP4 David P. Fischer, Co B, 65th Eng Bn
SP4 Ralph Flanary, HHC, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
SP4 Jerry G. Hall, Co B, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
SP4 Arthur R. Murga, Co B, 65th Eng Bn
SP4 J. F. Lunsford, Co B, 65th Eng Bn
SP4 Barry W. Nix, HHC, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
SP4 Bobby L. Parks, HHC, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
SP4 Steven L. Sessions, HHC, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
SP4 John W. Strickland, HHB, 1st Bn, 9th Fld Arty
SP4 Warren Szeto, Co A, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
SP4 Johnny T. Vallejo, Co B, 65th Eng Bn
SP4 Charles Williamson, Co A, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
SP4 Louis F. Wisniewski, HHC, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
PFC Paul F. Anderson, B Trp, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav
PFC Bernard Backsman, Co A, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
PFC Douglas A. Felton, Co B, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
PFC Bobby D. Harris, Co A, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
PFC John R. Israel, Co B, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
PFC Randy Marino, HHC, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
PFC Jim Maushardt, Co A, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
PFC Dana W. Mertz, C Trp, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav
PFC Curtis J. Paulson, Co E, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
PFC James Reece, Co B, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
PFC Robert A. Shorts, HHC, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
PFC Gary B. Wright, C Trp, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav
PVT Thomas Delaney, Co A, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
PVT Dennis C. Gross, Co B, 65th Eng Bn
PV2 Roger Lundberg, Co A, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
|CAPTURED ENEMY -- One of the most important and difficult jobs of the front line soldier is the proper handling of captured enemy. The enemy soldiers should be treated well, but carefully guarded and not allowed to talk to each other. Most important, they should be turned over as quickly as possible to G-2 personnel.|
Defensive Driving - S. Vietnam
By SP4 DAVID R. MACLARY
"The character of Vietnamese traffic is extremely unpredictable. The variety of vehicle types and sizes, coupled with the large amount of heavy truck traffic and the multitude of two-wheeled vehicles require the vehicle operator to be constantly alert."
The Military Assistance Command Vietnam operator's guide description of driving problems peculiar to Vietnam is by no means an understatement of problems faced by US troops driving on often inadequate roads.
Defensive driving, emphasized so much in the United States, is even more important for persons driving in Vietnam with its special driving hazards.
In two recent accidents involving three Vietnamese nationals riding motorbikes, two US military persons were involved. The accidents reemphasize the importance of extra alertness while driving in Vietnam.
In one case, a Vietnamese man was trying to overtake a US three-quarter ton truck traveling east on Highway 8. As the motorbike was along the right-hand side of the vehicle, it hit a bump and the cyclist lost control of his bike. He fell against the rear wheel of the truck receiving lacerations of the face, chest and armpit.
In another accident, a US two-and-one-half ton truck traveling south to Saigon as first vehicle in a PX supply convoy from Cu Chi was struck by a Lambretta carrying two Vietnamese men.
The scooter was traveling in the opposite direction when it pulled into the lane of the oncoming truck. Both men were killed.
In each of these cases the GIs were not at fault. Yet, the accidents show the extra care required by every driver in Vietnam if he is to avoid becoming involved in an accident.
Remember, watch out for the other guy.
Tropic Lightning Tots
The Commanding General Welcomes
The Following Tropic Lightning Tots
To The 25th Infantry Division As
Reported By The American Red Cross.
MAJ Max C. Petri, 25th Admin Co, boy
SP4 Robert M. Olson, Btry B, 2nd Bn, 32nd Arty, girl
PFC Stan Halper, Co A, 2nd Bn, 12th Inf, girl
PFC Eric H. Warsin, CoA, 4th Bn, 9th Inf, boy
PFC Paul Hayer, 94th Maint Bn, girl
SP4 Johnnie L. Clemmons, CoA, 7th Bn, 11th Arty, girl
SGT Bert Turner, B Trp, 3rd Bn, 4th Cav, boy
SSG George J. Sousan, HHC, 4th Bn, 23rd Inf, 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
SP4 Charles C. Self . . . . . . . . Editor
SP5 Gary D. Sciortino . . . . . Assistant Editor
PFC Joseph V. Kocian . . . . . Production Supervisor
|SP4 Rich Erickson
SP4 Ed Toulouse
SP4 Doug Sainsbury
SGT Mike Conroy
SGT William E. Zarrett
SP4 Lawrence Merritt
SP4 Rich Fitzpatrick
SP4 Ken Barron
SP4 George Graham
SP5 Tom Watson
SP4 William McGown
PFC James B. Stoup
SP4 Robert Capian
SGT Mike Keyster
SP4 Tomm Benn
SP4 Brad Yaeger
SP4 Frank Rezzonico
SP4 Frank Salerno
SP4 Henry Zukowski, Jr
SP4 Brian Falherty
PFC Rob Lato
SP4 Greg Duncan
SP4 Ray Byrne
Page 3 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS June 29, 1970
MEDCAPS Pay Off
Arty Unit Captures Two Arms Caches
By SP4 WILLIAM L. MCGOWN
FSB BLASTER, Cambodia - Just as it is unusual for the tackle on a football team to score a touchdown, it's also unusual when an artillery unit scores by finding an arms cache.
Yet, that's just what an element of the 25th Infantry Division's Headquarters Battery, 1st Battalion, 8th Field Artillery, did in Cambodia recently.
The opportunity showed itself when a Cambodian villager came to 1st Lieutenant Thomas L. Bush, of Jacksonville, Fla., a member of the "Automatic Eighth," and said he could lead him to an enemy arms cache.
Since this was unusual for an artillery unit, Bush was hesitant at first and consulted the battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel Richard A. Manion.
"The villager explained to me that he wanted to do this because of our many services to his people during MEDCAPS," Manion, from Leavenworth, Kan., said. "Since coming to Cambodia, we've conducted almost one MEDCAP each day. I thought it would be best if we accepted this way of showing their gratitude for our help."
"Besides," added Bush, "we feared that if we didn't follow up on it ourselves, the villager might refuse to guide people he didn't know to the cache."
Together with an element from C Company, 2nd Battalion (Mech.) 47th Infantry, eleven men from 1/8th followed their guide into the heavy underbrush.
"I thought the guide said the cache was 100 meters off the road," said Specialist 4 Gary W. Watson, of Granite Falls, N.C., "but it seemed like more than 500 meters. By the time we got to the cache site, I was almost too tired to dig."
"Everybody took their turn digging," said Command Sergeant Major August A. Myska, of Columbus, Ga. "It took us about two hours to dig it all up, but it was worth it."
The cache yielded 50 bunkers, one mess hall, 72 122mm rockets, one base plate for a 75mm recoilless rifle (RR), ten 75mm RR rounds, 30,000 .51 caliber rounds, and a large amount of commo equipment. All the munitions were loaded onto the tracks and removed to Thien Ngon.
The following morning, the 1/8th MEDCAP team went out again. After noon chow, Bash reported that the same informant knew where some mortar tubes were located, not far from the first cache site.
By mid-afternoon, the "Auto Eighters" were again on the 2/47th tracks crashing through the dense underbrush. Again they had to dismount and continue into the thick growth on foot.
As they approached an apparently deserted VC village, tension mounted. When several men cautiously stopped to check out trenches and holes, the guide kept going.
Soon, everyone was aware he was missing. Fear of being led into an ambush seized some, while others welcomed the chance to rest. About 15 minutes passed before a whistle and a shout - "This way!" - put everyone back on the trail.
As they twisted through the jungle, one soldier remarked that, at best, he could only see the two men directly in front of him, and sometimes only one. Suddenly, everybody had caught up with the guide, who was pointing down at the ground.
"It looked just like everything else we had been stumbling over, and not even a clearing," said one soldier.
But a few probes with the shovel revealed that this was the site. There, under sheets of tin, were two 82mm mortars, complete with an additional base plate and two sights, 30 82mm mortar rounds various fuses and propellant for the 82mm mortar rounds, one M-1 carbine and 50 pounds of TNT.
For as long as they could, the men took turns going down in the hole and lifting out the equipment.
"Since it was getting late in the afternoon, we decided to carry what we could and blow the rest in place," said Major Bobby L. Rice, of Knoxville, Tenn.
"Each of us had to trudge back to the tracks with mortar rounds in our side pockets, along with the other equipment," said Specialist 5 Paul S. Gaffney, from Kings Mountain, N.C.
Laden with their heavy booty, the men tried to take a shortcut and meet the tracks in a clearing reportedly due west of the cache site. But the high grass and darkening sky confused them, and they were soon lost.
Fortunately, a 25th Division Artillery LOH (Light Observation Helicopter) pilot was able to identify their smoke and direct them to the clearing.
Dixieland in Cambodia
And the Band Played On
By 1LT MARTIN E. WEBB
CHIMAON - Under the shade of a gnarled tree in the dusty streets of Chimaon, Dixieland came to Cambodia.
Sounds of "Clarinet Marmalade" and "Tiger Rag" drifted through hooches of the tiny village, as young children and their parents crowded around members of the 25th Division Band, or as they liked to call themselves, the "Dirt Band."
Their dirt-covered faces - a result of the dusty ride from Thien Ngon - and bright brass instruments set the mood that day for a Medical Civic Action Program (MEDCAP) sponsored by the 2nd Battalion (Mech.), 22nd Infantry, "Triple Deuce."
Notes of "Darktown Strutters Ball" danced across the faces of the wide-eyed Cambodian children, as 2nd Lieutenant Peter Larson, of Hershey, Pa., medical services officer for Triple Deuce, and his helper Chia Kim In, a Vietnamese girl who lives in the village, tended the sick.
After pills were passed out and ailments tended to, Larson handed candy to the children with the aid of Specialist 5 John Jenkinson of Kansas City, Mo., and Specialist 4 James Gruchala of St. Louis.
After the session was over, trumpet man and band leader Staff Sergeant Gary Branson of Tanpico, Ill., explained that their group was just one part of the 25th Division Band.
"We've got a soul group besides our own, but as a whole we make up the 25th Division Band," he explained.
Tuba player Staff Sergeant Russ Hamdlin of Kansas City, Mo., felt that the whole thing went off pretty well "considering that we were probably the first U.S. Army Band in Cambodia.
"The Cambodian children and their parents seemed very appreciative that we were there. They were a very reserved audience," Hamdlin said.
Applause was spontaneous but awkward as the people appeared a bit unsure how to go about expressing their appreciation after a number came to an end.
They soon caught on, however, catching the rhythm to such numbers as "Spanish Flea" and "Tijuana Taxi."
Among bobbing heads and tapping feet, Triple Deuce Civic Actions officer 1st Lieutenant John Spangler of Louisburg, Pa., commented that these MEDCAPs are the best thing we've got going for us.
"We've been pulling MEDCAPs here for two weeks plus ICAPS (Intelligence Civic Action Program) and we've been picking up some pretty good information on enemy activity in this area as a result," he said.
According to Larson, some 80 people had been treated that day. An additional 80 to 100 had been treated, but in a special way. They had listened to Dixieland for the first time.
|SQUISH, SQUISH -- A soldier of Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry, "Golden Dragons," wades through a water "hazzard" near the Cambodian border looking for signs of the enemy. (Photo by SP4 Richard Erickson)|
Hao Says Halt!
By SP4 ROBERT C. CAPLAN
MEMOT, Cambodia - NVA soldiers in the Memot area beware! There's a one-man posse on your trail.
Tran Van Hao, an interpreter for the 25th Division's 4th Battalion (Mech.), 23rd Infantry, "Tomahawks," had become separated from the headquarters element during a recent operation.
Moving rapidly down a well-used trail, Hao was trying to catch up with the element which he knew to be ahead of him, though they were out of sight.
When he came to a fork in the path, he saw what looked like a GI carrying a radio on his back down one of the forks. Thinking he had caught up with the headquarters group, Hao started to follow.
Suddenly, he realized it wasn't a GI at all, but a North Vietnamese in full web-gear, carrying an AK-47 and a bag of rice on his back.
"I yelled for him to halt," said Hao, "but he started to run. So I yelled out louder, 'Halt, throw down your weapon!' He stopped, looked at me and then dropped his weapon."
Hao wasn't the only one surprised. Later, Lieutenant Colonel Edward M. Bradford, Tomahawk battalion commander, congratulated Hao for his courage, quick thinking, and of course, his loud voice.
|MOVING OUT -- A self-propelled, 155mm Howitzer of the 3rd Battalion, 13th Artillery, lumbers past a convoy of the 2nd Battalion (Mech.), 22nd Infantry, during operations near Cambodia. (Photo by SP4 Charles C. Self)|
Page 4-5 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS June 29, 1970
|KATUM -- A high-level government delegation recently visited the 25th Division to get a first hand look at the Indochina War.|
|Rep. Robert Price of Texas and Sen. Howard W. Cannon of Nevada examine captured enemy equipment.|
Looking uncomfortable in their Army fatigues under the hot sun at this
crude Vietnam support base, the fact-finding group of Congressmen and governors
were briefed by officers, shown captured enemy equipment and given time to talk
with enlisted men.
Katum, located one and a half miles from the Cambodia-Vietnam border, is the forward supply point for the 25th Division's 1st Brigade.
The group of legislators, governors and White House aides was greeted by Major General Edward Bautz Jr., commanding general of the 25th, and by Colonel Paul Mueller, the 1st Brigade commander. As the group entered the brigade Tactical Operations Center, the politicians met several of their constituents who were representing the various battalions located in Katum.
Specialist 4 Robert Blackburn, of Brush, Colo., an infantryman from Company C, 4th Battalion (Mech.), 23rd Infantry, was introduced to Governor John A. Love, of Colorado, the Republican chairman of the National Governor's Conference.
"He asked if I thought the move into Cambodia was good and about the morale in my company," said Blackburn. "My answers to both were yes, because we've found plenty of caches which should hurt the enemy. Also, our company has met little resistance, and this, of course, helps the morale," he added.
"I had met Governor Love when I was a freshman in high school," Blackburn continued. "It was a privilege speaking to him both times."
Specialist 4 Dave Wallace, of Crown Point, Ind., a 4/23rd "Tomahawk" mechanic was introduced to Representative William G. Bray of Indiana.
"He asked about the war and stressed the advantages of the GI Bill," said Wallace. "It was interesting and I was nervous, but he was very pleasant and an intelligent man."
After lunch, and before departing, the delegation was given a thorough briefing by General Bautz and Colonel Mueller.
Story by SGT Bill Oberholzer
|White House Aide Herb Klein||Gov. Raymond Shafer of Pennsylvania|
|Rep. William Bray of Indiana||Rep. O. C. Fisher of Texas|
|Gov. John Love of Colorado||Sen. John Tower of Texas|
|Visitors look at enemy equipment.|
Enemy equipment was placed on display along with photographs of caches in the field.
Division staff including Commanding General Major General Edward Bautz Jr. briefed the fact-finding group.
Page 6 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS June 29, 1970
Tomahawks Pass the SoySauce
Oriental Grain Seems Endless Pain
By SGT MIKE KEYSTER
TAY NINH -- The Commanding Officer of the 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry's Charlie Company, 1st Lieutenant Robert Schmidt, is thinking about having a special medal made for every member of his company.
The medal, he said, would feature a brown burlap bag and would have two rice stalks, one on either side of the bag.
The reason for the medal - the 25th Division company has become a rice-finding expert, he said.
In recent Cambodian operations near the villages of Ph Khley and Ph Take, about three and one half miles from Memut and two miles from the Vietnam border, Charlie Company found more than 100 tons of rice.
Some of the caches were spotted from the air by helicopter, but most were simply found during routine search operations.
The rice caches were found in heavy vegetation, making discovery difficult from the air especially, but also from the ground. The usual cache consisted of about 100 bags, each holding roughly 250 pounds of rice.
The bags were generally neatly stacked and stored in a make-shift framework of logs with a tin roof. The hut was usually three or four feet off the ground, and sometimes was encircled with long ponchos.
The rice caches were always located within base camps, which sometimes included bunkers, hootches and sleeping and eating quarters. Most of the caches were found about 50 yards from each other.
For the 25th Infantrymen, fiding the rice was only the first step. It also had to be moved from the original site. That meant back-breaking work loading the 250 pound rice bags on half-tracks (548s), which then hauled it to a nearby night defensive perimeter (NDP), so that it either could be air-lifted to a Vietnamese redistribution point, or given to nearby villagers.
Charlie Company has had a real problem fiding enough 548s to haul all the rice found. Only three half-tracks have been available, making several trips from the cache site to the NDP necessary to completely move the large rice bags.
The men naturally are pretty much fed up with rice. Many of them claim they will never eat rice again.
First Lieutenant Jerry Saxe, of St. Louis, summed up a general feeling when he remarked, "We can't even go into a woodline without finding rice."
'Flying Grunts' Lay Down Fire
By PFC PATRICK F. MURPHY
CU CHI - With a job that is often overlooked, doorgunners have nonetheless been in the thick of the action from the very beginning of the Vietnam conflict. Three months temporary duty was common as early as 1962.
The 116th Aviation Company (Assault Helicopter) which flies support for the 25th Infantry Division is "home" for what are described by several grunts who've been around as some of "the best doorgunners in the Republic."
Specialist 4 John Baca, Jr., of La Puente, Calif., and Specialist 4 John L. Macoskie are prime examples of the "flying grunts." Both are volunteers and have completed extensive training to prepare them for their assignments.
"When we're in the air my job is to report my observations to the pilot and lay down suppressive fire on the right side of the ship," said Macoskie. He added that he was also "responsible for the armament system on the ship."
Both men average 200 hours flying time per month. Added to this are numerous hours spent in the preparation and maintenance of their air crafts for the various missions.
This includes cleaning and servicing the weapons, assisting the crew chief in cleaning the ship and a general program of preventive maintenance. Hence the average day begins at 6:30 a.m. and ends at 7:30 p.m.
Flying combat assault missions (CA) is a regular part of the day-to-day schedule. Contact with the enemy is frequent. "We have been in constant contact in Cambodia," said Macoskie. "But April 2, when we supported the 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry, 'Wolfhounds,' in the Renegade Woods, was our last really heavy contact," he said.
Baca then recalled that the closest call he'd had was while on a CA over Cambodia.
"We had called in artillery and air strikes on the contact area. One of the shells whizzed right past us. When the F-100s came in, one of them almost plowed into us." His ship also sustained several hits from enemy small arms fire.
|AND HERE'S ONE for all those brave boys of the Tropic Lightning Division. Sexy Cris Cranston thanks 1st Lieutenant Alfred Little of the 25th Aviation Battalion for the chopper ride during a recent USO tour with Johnny Grant. Rumor has it that Cris' other assets may be viewed in next months' Playboy centerfold.|
|Ilikai East by Night
WED Floor Show (6 p.m.)
THU Trick Shot Pool Tourney (8 p.m.)
FRI Cookout on Patio (8 p.m.)
SAT Tournaments (2 p.m.)
Movie and Popcorn (7:30 p.m.)
SUN Coffee Call (10:00 a.m.)
Tournaments (2 p.m.)
Bingo (8 p.m.)
MON Sports Nite: Concentration (8 p.m.)
TUE Contract Bridge Tourney (8 p.m.)
Ask Sgt. Certain
DEAR READERS: An untold number of letters have come in inquiring as to how American troops could uncover so much rice in Cambodia, but no Nuc Mam sauce. For an answer I turned to PFC Edelbert Cronin, an old buddy I served with in the Korean Conflict. Cronin sneaked out the following report:
DEAR CERTY: After many hardships and great dangers, I think I've found the answer to the Nuc Mam problem.
To find this answer I visited the quaint frontier city of Katum a few miles from the Cambodian border, nestled snugly amidst the sylvan beauty of War Zone C.
Like Thien Ngon to the south it is a forward collection point for enemy rice captured from communist sanctuaries.
Several times each day convoys laden with tons of captured grain arrive here and yet officials in Katum still are waiting for the first big haul of Nuc Mam ... and time has just about run out.
The fact that Tropic Lightning forces have found more than 700 tons of rice without uncovering a single vile of the tangy fish sauce continues to baffle the high command.
The Vietnamese use Nuc Mam to enhance the flavor of practically everything. Consequently, finding rice without Nuc Mam is roughly comparable to finding arms without ammunition. This apparent failure has precipitated a great deal of soul searching on the part of concerned officials.
Early intelligence reports were optimistic about the prospects of finding a large centralized Nuc Mam factory in the jungle. But the troops didn't find it. Informed sources at Division headquarters in Cu Chi admitted that they soon lost hope of locating such an installation.
This was certainly a reasonable assumption. Not only did 25th Division troops search the area well, but several hundred vats of rotten fish should have been easily detectable (all the way down at Katum).
Early wire service reports of a large underground complex complete with sliding doors and air vents proved to be greatly exaggerated as did rumors of a commando assault on a suspected Nuc Mam bastion supposedly carried out by rangers equipped with protective masks.
Early failures gave rise to a new theory here in Katum.
It is now believed that the enemy Nuc Mam operation is more decentralized than originally thought. It is probably made up of a few independent detachments that travel throughout the jungle on motorbikes and take their orders directly from Hanoi.
G-2 currently is evaluating two pieces of information that may eventually prove helpful. One is a Kosher stamp and ink pad found in an enemy bunker; the other is an autographed picture of a Vietnamese cook shaking hands with Toots Shore.
Meanwhile, west of the Fishook, the search is almost over.
Page 7 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS June 29, 1970
Inside the Wire
What Happiness Is
KATUM - Time spent inside the wire is precious and well-deserved for the 25th Division Warriors of the 2d Battalion, 12th Infantry.
The thrill of entering the wire after a long operation belongs only to the "grunt." The physical relief is secondary only to the mental relaxation experienced by the field weary soldier.
For a brief time, the constant alertness and the restless nights, the things that wear a GI down, are non-existent. The mind is, for the moment, "at ease."
Being inside the wire reduces the concern over the physical discomforts that were so annoying out in the field - the damp clothes, the body grime and the ailing feet. The "free time" gives a Warrior a chance to relax - a chance to write letters, read, and, of course, catch up on some hard-earned sleep. Time is never wasted.
While out in the field, anticipation for "going in" is so great that one preoccupied Warrior referred to it as "going home" - a thought he would never foster in less trying moments. But for now home is a home which, compared to the marshy fields, is safe and comfortable.
Story & Photos By SP4 ED TOULOUSE
Time to write home
|From the field, inside the wire|
Even do-it-yourself showers
|A chance to get equipment back in shape|
A place to sleep in late in relative security
Page 8 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS June 29, 1970
|HIT IT -- After lighting the time fuse on bangalore torpedoes used to clear hedgerows from both sides of a new road, Specialist 4 Ron Keith of Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion (Mech.), 22nd Infantry, from Herlong, Calif., watches the resulting explosion. (Photo by SP4 Henry G. Zukowski)|
Heroes Rescue Crew From Burning Cobra
From SP5 TOM WATSON
CU CHI - Risking death, three 25th Division maintenance men saved two fliers from a burning, ammo-laden Cobra.
While on a technical inspection flight of a Huey (UH-I D) near here recently, three men from the division's 725th Maintenance Battalion received a call for help from the pilot of a Cobra gunship which was attempting an emergency landing.
When the Huey pilot, Captain Robert L. Adams, of Columbus, Ohio, realized the crippled aircraft had not successfully landed, he immediately went to the area of the crash and set his helicopter down as close as possible to the burning chopper.
As Adams held his ship on the ground -- despite the flames roaring near the Cobra's ammo - Specialists 4 Marc L. Knoles, of Stockton, Calif., and James E. Krause, of Philadelphia, rushed to the burning aircraft. They quickly removed one of the men, carried him to their helicopter and strapped him in place on the jump seats.
Both men started to return for the second man when the Cobra's ammunition exploded, driving them backwards and onto the ground.
Without a moment's hesitation, they scrambled to their feet and rushed to the aid of the injured man, who, by this time, had had all of his clothes burned off.
With the help of two officers who had arrived at the scene of the crash with a stretcher, they loaded the second man on Adam's helicopter and immediately returned to the 12th Evacuation Hospital in Cu Chi.
Adams, Knoles and Krause received the Army's Soldier's Medal for their actions. They were responsible for saving the life of one of the men.
Children and Refugees
NVA Rice Feeds Orphans
HOC MAN - For 135 children at the Sister Rose Catholic Orphanage rice captured by 25th Division troops in Cambodia is more than a way to stop the enemy.
The G-5 section of the division recently sent nearly five tons of rice to the orphanage - enough to feed the children for almost three months, according to the sisters who run the orphanage.
The children usually are supported by a monthly allotment from the government of South Vietnam and by donations from the 725th Maintenance Battalion.
However, the large influx of rice captured by the 25th Division in Cambodia has meant the sisters could use some of their funding for special needs instead of buying rice for the children.
Rice captured by the 25th Division was carried to a collection point at Tay Ninh where it was stockpiled until hamlet chiefs requested rice for special purposes.
Most of the rice went to feed refugees waiting at 10 refugee centers in the 25th Division's area of operations until they could be relocated after fleeing the Communists.
Other rice went to other units operating in the II Corps area.
"We figure we've given away more than $55,000 worth of rice," said Captain Marc C. Christianson, civil affairs officer for the 25th Division.
|RICE FOR ORPHANS -- Personnel of the G-5 section of the 25th Division carry rice for children of the Sister Rose Catholic Orphanage in Hoc Man. The rice was captured by GIs in Cambodia. (Photo by SP4 Charles C. Self)|
GIs Make War On Enemy Bugs
By SP4 FRANK H. SALERNO
KREK AIR STRIP, Cambodia - Viciously-biting red ants, poisonous scorpions, giant caterpillars and pesky horseflies ... used to bug 25th Division soldiers.
One of the worst problems encountered by GIs in Cambodia, besides the enemy, was the Cambodian bugs. The men of the 2nd Battalion (Mech.), 22nd Infantry, devised a "sure-fire" method of handling this itchy problem.
"The liquid repellent we carry didn't stop the red ants or the caterpillars, and the aerosol bombs couldn't really catch the quick-moving scorpions or flies," said Specialist 4 Gerald Silvester, from Coalton, W. Va. "It was really bad for our morale."
Surprisingly, the battalion's flame tracks provided the inspiration which proved invaluable to its men.
"We took the principle of the flame track's operation and made our own do-it-yourself, pint-sized flame tracks, by using the aerosol spary and a lighter or match," Silvester added.
"The chemical spray would catch fire from the lighter's flame, and no bug could live through that." Silvester continued. The Triple Deuce's new weapon had a range of 2-3 feet.
The men's spirits picked up considerably, now that they had a convenient and potent method of "getting even" with nature's hostile forces.
"It was a panic to see the guys setting up ambushes for bugs they used to try to avoid," Silvester said.
Souvenir List Grows
CU CHI - The Tropic Lightning Division's souvenir salesman - Benny, representative of the Tropic Lightning Association - has reported an expanded list of 25th Division mementoes available.
The items are sold though the Tropic Lightning Association and battalion and company orderly rooms to collect money used to bolster the morale and esprit de corps of the men of the division.
The newest item in Benny's bag is a waterproof wallet with the division crest, he said. Coming soon will be lighters, drinking mugs and a record album of the division band.
Benny said that division yearbooks and letter openers have long been best sellers.
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 05-20-2006
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