Vol 5 No. 32 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS August 24, 1970
|Unit Page||Unit Page||Unit Page||Unit Page|
|1/5 Photo 3||2/22 8||3/22 1||4/23 Photo 6|
|18th Hist Det 6||2/22 Photo 8||4/9 8||49th ARVN 1|
|2/12 Photo 1||2/34 Armor 1||4/9 Photo 8||7/11 Arty 8|
|2/12 3||2/34 Armor 6||4/9 8||Aussie Pilot Photos 4|
|2/22 Photos 7||25th Inf 2||4/23 1||Aussie Pilots 4|
|2/22 7||25th Inf Photo 3||4/23 3||Aussie Pilot Photos 4|
|2/22 Photos 7||Duc Hoa Chapel 6|
Dreadnaughts Inflict Heavy Casualties
Enemy Wilts Under Tanker Pressure
By SP4 FRANK MORRIS
TAY NINH - The 25th Division's 2nd Battalion, 34th Armor had a busy fortnight recently when they took part in several ambushes and in an operation which resulted in the death of 21 enemy.
On Monday on the first week, Alfa Company Dreadnaughts reacted to an ambush on an artillery convoy near Thien Ngon. In that action, they assisted the 49th ARVN Regiment which killed 11 enemy.
The following day, the tanks of A Company were again called in to react to another possible ambush of a convoy in the same area. This time the tanks triggered the ambush and resulted in light casualties to the tank company, with unknown enemy losses.
The same day, Alfa Company was again called upon to react to Civilian Irregular Defense Group, (CIDG) elements who were pinned down by an undetermined enemy force. Alfa Company extracted them from the contact, again killing an undetermined number of enemy and suffering fiery light casualties.
With the command group now on the scene, a unique assembly of forces was being formed to rid the region of the enemy. It was called Task Force Kidwell, after Dreadnaught commander, Lieutenant Colonel Birtrum S. Kidwell, Jr. It consisted of elements of the CIDG (Civilian-Regular Defense Group), the 4th Battalion, 49th ARVN Infantry Regiment, and Headquarters, Company A of the Dreadnaughts.
The international force undertook a massive reconnaissance-in-force mission on Friday to search out the enemy. The powerful allied forces unearthed four huge bunker complexes, the largest of which was 70 yards in length and contained stockpiles of commo wire. The bunkers were heavily fortified and had seemingly withstood air strikes, heavy artillery and tank fire. All of the bunkers were completely destroyed.
According to Major David P. Miller, Dreadnaught operations officer, the operation was a success. The combined forces during the period killed 21 enemy and took four detainees, while the allies suffered only minor casualties.
In another recent quick reaction, the 2nd Battalion, 34th Armor moved into an area one and a half miles southwest of Fire Support Base Lanyard at mid-morning to support CIDG in contact near the Cambodia border.
A search revealed five NVA soldiers had been killed by the CIDG.
Pedal Power Play
Bike Commandoes Strike
By SP4 KRIS PETERSEN
FSB KIEN -- Several 25th Division bicycle-commandoes recently outdid even their division's history of lighting-like mobility and resourcefulness, when they used "pedal-power" to round up a group of suspected communist sympathizers and uncover a rice cache.
While in a night defensive position near here, a small element of Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regulars, heard voices and a transistor radio playing in the distance.
The next morning, a company-sized sweep of the area discovered approximately 20 Vietnamese children who were cutting bamboo shoots along the side of the road.
"We rounded them up, put them on their bicycles and sent them on their way," said Captain James K. Skiles, of Marshall, Tex., company commander.
At that moment, farther down the road, the company spotted a moderate-sized group of women suddenly dart out from the jungle onto the road. As the GIs attempted to stop them, the women began to run.
Seeing this, three Tropic Lighting troops hopped on bikes and pedaled in hot pursuit, noting that the women were throwing small bags of rice and other foodstuffs away as they ran.
"We intercepted some of them about 500 yards away, but our bikes broke down in the chase," said Staff Sergeant Albert S. Fugit, of Stony Point, N.Y.
A shuttle system then was set up, using a LOH (Light Observation Helicopter) that was in the area to transport three men at a time down the road to help the "Cycle Commandoes" apprehend the large group of women and children.
The remainder of the company followed the road, picking up the goodies the Vietnamese had left behind.
"It looked like a bunch of kids in an Easter egg hunt back in the world," recalled one Regular.
The discarded bags of rice led to the discovery of a much larger cache. In his search, Sergeant William E. Connery noticed what seemed to be an unfinished bunker complex off the road. The complex turned out to be a cache containing 3,300 pounds of rice, and a variety of food items, including tobacco, flashlight batteries, soap, fish and a hundred pounds of fresh meat.
The Vietnamese were detained, and later turned over to local Vietnamese officials for interrogation.
"The worst part of the whole ordeal was trying to convince the women to get on the choppers without their bicycles," said Private First Class Melvin A. Bushong, of Beach City, Ohio.
Tomahawks Find Soup Instead of the Enemy
By SGT MIKE KEYSTER
XUAN LOC - A platoon of the 25th Division's Bravo Company, 4th Battalion (Mech), 23rd Infantry, working with a Regional Force (RF) element recently spotted and tracked three NVA. Instead of contact, they found soup.
Working about 20 miles south of Xuan Loc district, the Tomahawk-Vietnamese force ran into a fresh trail in thick jungle while conducting ground reconnaissance operations. Sergeant Gary Eagleton, of Woodland, Calif., said the Bravo forward element suddenly saw movement near a hill.
"Our Kit Carson scout tracked the enemy through the thick jungle in the area, but finally lost them," he said.
Just after losing sight of the NVA, however, the combined forces discovered a large cache in a bamboo thicket on a small hilltop. Specialist 4 David Vann, a squad leader from Detroit, said: "We were almost on top of the hill when we ran into a small enemy base camp with three bunkers and a large hootch."
The two platoons swept the camp on line and found a partly buried cache of 50 pounds of beans, 300 pounds of Chinese soup, 550 pounds of rice, 150 pounds of Vietnamese soup, six pounds of salt and three NVA ponchos.
|MOVE OUT -- Warriors of the 25th Division's Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry move to cover after being inserted into area by chopper. (Photo By SGT Mark Rockney)|
Page 2 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS August 24, 1970
|CPT Byron W. White, Co D, 2d Bn, 12th Inf
1LT Leroy Werkoven, Co B, 1st Bn, 5th Inf
SGT Richard E. Farrow, Co B, 1st Bn, 5th Inf
SGT James R. Owens, Co A, 1st Bn, 5th Inf
|SP4 Verl Bagley, Co C, 1st Bn, 5th Inf
SP4 Richard S. Fordyce, Co D, 2d Bn, 12th Inf
SP4 Daniel Kleven, Co D, 2d Bn, 12th Inf
|CPT Byron W. White, Co D, 2nd Bn, 12th Inf|
BRONZE STAR (VALOR)
|CPT James T. Ellis
CPT Johnny D. Garrard
CPT Nelson E. Rogers
1LT Thomas G. Harris
1LT Eugene C. McCaffery
1LT Philip E. McMahan
1SG Arcadio Torres
SFC Wayne O. Bardwell
SSG Jaward L. Buckalew
SSG Douglas Evans, C Trp
SSG Teynaldo Garcia
SSG Jerry Grace
SGT Jthn J. Bleyer
SGT Dnnie L. Davidson
SGT Rchard Gallagher
SGT Janes W. Griffin
SGT Abel Rivera
SGT Jfrry L. Roth
SGT Janes Scullen Jr
SGT Chris Vacek
SP5 John R. Brejla
SP4 Ronald E. Abrams
SP4 Harold E. Alexander
SP4 Lawrence D. Allen Jr
SP4 Pul Armstrong
SP4 Leslie L. Beaty
SP4 Francisco Berrios
SP4 Boyd Butterfield
SP4 Chris A. Chambers
SP4 James Collins
SP4 William R. Cox
SP4 Michael Dempsey
SP4 Arthur R. Derks
SP4 James Hager,
SP4 Eddie G. Harris
SP4 Robert Jacky,
SP4 George L. Kampas
SP4 Albert W. Kirchmer
|SP4 Karl W. Kock Jr
SP4 Willis Kruger,
SP4 Pablo G. Leal
SP4 Dwight E. Lutsko
SP4 James Madden
SP4 Lyle Mendicino
SP4 Mante L. Ortman
SP4 Antonio M. Perez
SP4 Donald Quintanilla
SP4 Gregory Sadler
SP4 Arik Salazar
SP4 Ronald L. Schaeff
SP4 Jesse L. Shelton
SP4 Richard A. Smot
SP4 Carl P. Steude Jr
SP4 Larry A. Stevens
SP4 Brady W. Traylor
SP4 Stephen R. Walker
SP4 Albert D. Werder
SP4 Jose Yrecheta
PFC Michael L. Aunyon
PFC Richard R. Bromley
PFC Jimmy D. Emberton
PFC Garron Hanley
PFC Thomas Hils
PFC Robert L. Hopp
PFC Donald Johnson
PFC Ruben Martinez
PFC Elmer Massingale
PFC Salvantore Misuraca
PFC Merlin Oseperook
PFC Morris Peebles
PFC John T. Pehih
PFC Robert Phelps
PFC James A. Roberts
PFC John M. Robinette
PFC Richard H. Vaughn
Refugees Get Cache Rice
By SP5 TOM BOZZUTO
CU CHI - More than 500 tons of enemy rice was discovered and evacuated by 25th Infantry Division soldiers as they swept through eneny sanctuaries during the two months of Cambodia operations.
Another 1,000 tons of rice were discovered and either destroyed on the spot or lost because of bad weather or spillage during rapid evacuation.
The evacuated rice went to Forward Rice Control Points located at Katum and Thien Ngon. Second Field Force civil affairs personnel logged the amounts salvaged and loaded it aboard 25th Division Support Command vehicles headed for the Main Rice Control Point set up at Tay Ninh West.
There the Vietnamese Social Welfare Service for the province, in conjunction with II Field Force civil affairs personnel attached to province advisory teams, received the rice shipments and distributed them to refugee centers.
Of the rice received at Tay Ninh West, 280 tons went to refugee enters in IV Corps. Another 166.25 tons was distributed to refugee centers in Tay Ninh, Hau Nghia and Long An provinces. The remaining 90-plus tons went to other distribution centers throughout the II Field Force area of operations.
"The Vietnamese decided we would receive the captured rice and transport it," Major David King, Gary, Ind., Tropic Lightning's liaison officer for civil affairs, said. "And they did an outstanding job of distributing it."
"Because of tactical requirements, and especially the large amount of transportation that would have been required to handle such a large amount of rice, it became tactically unfeasible to evacuate all of it," Major Jasper E. Hunter, Jonesboro, Ark., the division's deputy to the assistant chief of staff for civil affairs, said.
Hunter said that because of the time limitation imposed on the maneuver battalions because of the impending rainy season, political requirements and the need to maintain the element of surprise, units had to constantly be on the move.
"We simply didn't have time to evacuate all the rice we found," he said. "If the units had made attempts to evacuate all the rice it would have been impossible for them to search as large an area as they did during the Cambodia operations."
|WHICH WOULD YOU BET YOUR LIFE ON? - A dirty weapon here in Vietnam is no joke. Keep a clean machine, and when cleaning it, check all parts of the bolt assembly for chips, cracks, or rust deposits. Lubricate all moving parts of the rife with LSA, and use it sparingly in the chamber and bolt locking recess. Also, clear the gas port on top of the bolt carrier with a pipe cleaner. If this port gets clogged, it may result in a sluggish weapon. Remember: someone's life may depend on that rifle working. (Photo by SP4 Joe Loper)|
Tropic Lightning Tots
The Commanding General Welcomes
The Following Tropic Lightning Tots
To The 25th Infantry Division As
Reported By The American Red Cross.
SGT Carl E. Russ Co C 4th Bn, 9th Inf, girl
Maj James W. White, 277 S&S Bn, boy
SP5 Bobby R. Lewis, HHD 86th Sig Bn, girl
1LT David L. Phillips, HHC 2nd Bn, 14th Inf, boy
1LT Paul E. Wimble, HHC 3rd Bde, boy
SGT William H. Messengil, Co B 4th Bn, 9th Inf, boy
PFC Joh Clifton Jr, Btry D 2nd Bn, 34th Armor, girl
PVT Arthur Sanechez, 25th Repl, boy
SP4 Richard J. Van Wyns Berthe, Co D, 2nd Bn, 14th Inf, boy
PFC Sommel L. Woods, Btry A 2nd Bn, 34th Armor, girl
SP4 Jose Duran, Co C, 65th Engr, boy
SP5 Richard Bonham, 25th MP Co, girl
SP4 Gregory Green, Co B 2nd Bn, 34th Armor, girl
SP4 Brooky Gray, Btry D, 3rd Bn, 13th Arty, girl
SP4 William Potter, HQ 3rd Bn, 4th Cav, boy
SP5 John A. Huber, HHC 588th Engr, girl
1LT James M. Feel, HHC 3rd Bde, girl
SP4 William M. Lane, 25th Admin Co., boy
SP4 Richard Walker, HQ 65th Engr, girl
PFC James Garza, 25th MI. Co, boy
SGT Arthur L. Gillis, A 3try, 2nd Bn, 77th Arty, girl
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. American Forces Press Service and Army News Feature materials 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 Robert E. Kelso . . . Information Officer
1LT John Caspari . . . . . . . Officer-in-Charge
SP4 William M. Lane . . . . Editor
SP4 Scott Watson . . . . . . Assistant Editor
SP4 Joseph V. Kocian . . . Production Supervisor
SGT Mike Keyster
SP4 Tom Benn
SP4 Frank Salerno
PFC Dan Lowry
SP4 Greg Duncan
SP4 Rick Erickson
SP4 Ed Toulouse
SGT Mark Rockney
SGT Mike Conroy
SGT William Zarrett
SGT Daniel House
|PFC Irwin Polis
SP5 Tom Watson
SP4 William McGown
PFC James Stoup
SGT Derr Steadman
SP5 Doug Sainsbury
SP4 James Duran
SGT Jack Strickland
SP4 Dan Davis
SP4 Kris Peterson
SP4 Frank Morris
Page 3 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS August 24, 1970
|DUSTOFF -- Running to get their litter aboard a chopper, men of the 25th Division's Alfa Company, 1st Battalion (Mech), 5th Infantry don't waste any time. The Bobcats were in contact with the enemy in Xuan Loc District. (Photo by 1LT Martin E. Webb)|
Life on Nui Ba Den
Mountain Men Speak Out
NUI BA DEN -- Several years ago, due to the massive area of operations of the 25th Infantry Division, it became necessary for the division's 65th Engineer Battalion to build a radio relay station atop Nui Ba Den, the largest and most barren mountain in the area.
Since that time, a tour on the "Black Virgin" has become one of the least desired jobs among the engineers.
"It is an interesting place to visit for anyone who has never seen or been on the Black Virgin Mountain. But no one in their right mind would want to stay there very long," claims Private First Class Mick Calaci, of Vernon, Conn.
The mountain, which rises roughly 3,100 feet above sea level, is a huge defoliate granite stone. The primary duty of the engineers on the mountain is to communicate between the battalion headquarters and Alfa Company, as well as any elements that do not have direct communications with each other.
Evidently, not all the men who work on Nui Ba Den think it's bad duty.
"It is good duty here because things are more relaxed," said Specialist 5 John Dereda, of Atlantic Beach, N.Y., the team chief. "SOP's are not as rigid as in Cu Chi (the division rear area), and as long as we get the job done we are usually on our own."
Pulling a shift on the radios means sitting in a cubical about six feet square and trying to listen to your push with about twenty other radios squawking away in the same room.
According to Private First Class William Rose, of Jersey City, N.J., "About the only things we have to look forward to up here are the chow, which is not too bad, the mail, and returning to the peace and quiet of our sleeping bunkers after a long 12-hour shift."
Because of a recent reorganization of the 25th's AO, it has become necessary for the engineers to set up another signal retransmission station in order to support Bravo Company in their operations south of Xuan Loc.
A few weeks ago, Specialist 5 John Buie, of Panorama City, Calif., and Private First Class Wally Gibson, of Dallas, left Cu Chi armed with generators, radios, antennas and other signal equipment to establish the station atop the 2,800 foot Nui Chau Chan.
Life on Nui Chau Chan is very similar to that on the Black Virgin Mountain.
"We have it a little better here than on Nui Ba Den. We have a cement basketball court and movies several times a week," said Gibson.
YOU MAY LOSE A LITTLE SLEEP OVER THIS...Camp Alpha folk would like us to pass on the word that if you are of a mind to try stretching your R&R by arriving at the Camp a few days before your flight and staying on for a few days after your return, you'd better change that mind. There just aren't enough billets at Alpha and since the R&R center at Cam Ranh Bay closed, there are just that many more soldiers passing through. You will get a bunk the night before your flight, and one the night after you are returned to captivity. Before and after that, you'll have to find another hotel.
DELAY (GLUG) IN ROUTE ...A DC-8, carrying several tons of letters and packages from the world to Vietnam, ditched in the Pacific recently, breaking apart in the water at a depth of six feet. The letters and packages went swimming. Mail recovery operations have succeeded in recovering some of the stuff and that which can be identified will be forwarded after a hot spin in a clothes drier. If you know that someone sent you a special letter or package and it has never arrived, you may well bet that the piece was on the fateful aircraft. Claims may be made, but they must be initiated by the sender and not before August 28. Be sure to inform them if you have not received the expected mail by that date.
YOU CAN'T LEAVE UNLESS YOU'RE SHORT ... If you're planning on thumbing a ride on an R&R plane for leave, the word is that if you haven't spent at least 11 months in country, you won't get a seat. And they don't sell tickets for standing room. Advice to the leavelorn: hang tight until you're in your last month.
OUR FIRST--AND PROBABLY LAST--HAPPENING CONTEST ... We have been extremely impressed with the imagination of the American fighting man when it is directed toward a subject very dear to his neck: his DEROS calendar. So in the name of fine art and for purposes of spreading the wealth, we invite you to submit your original versions of the DEROS calendar to the Division Information Office. All entries will be judged by a very select list of shorttimers and winners will be insured a place among the immortals by having their works of art reproduced in the "Tropic Lightning News." One hint: we will not print dirty pictures. But if you have a calendar that fits that category, send it along anyway. It will look good on my wall.
A SHAGGY SNAKE STORY...Don't be surprised if you wander into the offices of the 25th Division's 20th Preventive Medicine Unit and are confronted by a 10 foot, 6 inch python. A rock python to be exact. Just say "nice Martha" and everything will be all right. "She's very gentle," says Specialist 4 Stanley R. Copeland of Kansas City, Mo., who should know. Copeland likes to wrap Martha around his neck and stroll about the post. We asked Copeland how one tells a male python from a female. "Very inaccurately," Copeland replied. "Martha is really a boy snake. But we didn't discover that until last week. For three years we thought he was a girl."
Martha eats twice a month. His menu consists of a rat or two, a chicken and perhaps a duck. While the men of the 20th have taken kindly to Martha, there are those at Cu Chi who would prefer to keep their distance. One day recently, Copeland and Martha were taking an afternoon walk, when the driver of a deuce-and-a-half full of mama-sans started at the sight of them and drove the truck into a ditch. Martha didn't even bat an eye.
Charlie Flees Bunker Complex, Would Rather Write Than Fight
"Americans, if you are intelligent leave this area. Advancing will mean never seeing home again." "The Liberation front of South Vietnam."
This was the greeting Bravo company 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry found recently while on a search and clear operation north of Dau Tieng.
A scout dog's alert nose led the element to an extensive bunker complex.
"The first thing we saw was the sign attached to the outside of a bunker," recalled Specialist 4 William Dobie of Miles City, Mont. "But it didn't alter what had to be done, so we continued searching very cautiously," he added.
Apparently the enemy wasn't far behind his warning. According to Kit Carson Scout Tac Huyng-Van, approximately 30 enemy had cleared the area only minutes before. The Warriors found rice cooking on a fire with two large piles of firewood nearby.
"They had been here some time," said Captain Ted Taylor, of Weston, W. Va. "And, they were in the process of digging a well that reached a depth of 80 feet without striking water."
By SGT MIKE KEYSTER
XUAN LOC -- In recent operations 20 miles southeast of Xuan Loc district, a recon element of the 25th Division's 4th Battalion (Mech), 23rd Infantry, found that alertness possibly saved several lives.
The Tomahawks, while conducting ground searches, came across a newly abandoned enemy base camp, which included several bunkers, hootches, and eating quarters. Nothing significant was found in the camp.
However, the surrounding area and several trails that ran from the camp were slowly searched. Within 50 yards of the camp, the Tomahawks luckily discovered a well-camouflaged booby trapped U.S. grenade just off a trail.
A small vine, of which there were many in the area, was ingeniously hung across the trail and wrapped around the grenade fuse so that it could be jerked easily by a passing GI.
|MEET MARTHA -- Wearing Martha the python like a snake stole is Specialist 4 Stanley R. Copeland of the 25th Division's 20th Preventive Medicine Unit. If you squeeze Martha, she'll squeeze back. (Photo by SP4 Joe Loper)|
Page 4-5 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS August 24, 1970
Up in Air with Men from Down Under
|Photos and Story By SP4 RICH DOMBROWICKI|
CU CHI - As common as clouds in the skies above Cu Chi are swift, nimble
aircraft known as OV-10 Broncos. Not so common are one group of Bronco pilots.
Aiding their allies from the land of stars and stripes is a contingent of airmen
from the lands of kangeroos and koala bears.
The up-in-the-airmen from down under (Aussies and a lone New Zealander) are attached to the 25th Infantry Division Tactical Air Control Party in a cooperative program between their countries and the United States.
The program is designed to afford combat training for the pilots while they help the U.S. effort through their participation in air missions.
"We are all experienced air-strike pilots," said Flight Lieutenant Ray Butler of Sydney. "Our tour here is eight months and the combat experience we gain is invaluable. We all volunteer to come."
Australian military training is oriented toward jungle warfare.
"This differs from the American concept which traditionally stresses the European or open area fighting style," said Squadron Leader Graham Neil, also from Sydney. "My government believes in defense in depth. That is why we are here, helping our allies while practicing our skills over jungle terrain."
The program has been in effect since 1966, although with the 25th Division only since last November. The men all receive two-weeks' training at Da Nang flying the OV-10 aircraft.
During the recent Cambodian operations, the down under personnel were really kept on the go.
"We took over the 3rd Brigade's area of operations while the U.S. pilots flew Cambodia missions," said Flight Lieutenant John Denton, the lone representative of New Zealand. "Now we're flying for the 2nd Brigade, so we've been all over."
The Bronco pilots feel that their contributions are just as important whether they fly recon missions or actual air strikes.
"The infantrymen like to see us up there," Denton added. "Our mere presence in the area is often enough to deter the enemy and save somebody's life."
|HOW FAST, HOW HIGH - Gauges of U.S. Air Force OV-10 Bronco in flight reflect some of its capabilities. These dials indicate (L to R) altitude, banking angle, speed and power. The twin turbo-prop planes are being flown by members of the Royal Australian and New Zealand Air Forces in support of the 25th Infantry Division.|
|ROCKET PODS - Royal Australian Air Force Pilot Flight Lieutenant Ray Butler makes pre-flight check on rocket pods of OV-10. Each Bronco carries a total of 28 rockets in four pods.|
|FINAL ADJUSTMENT - A ground crewman adjusts back straps of ejection seat while Royal Australian Air Force Flight Lieutenant Ray Butler straps himself in.|
|ONE LAST CHECK - Nose assembly and landing light of U.S. Air Force FAC aircraft are given pre-flight check by Flight Lieutenant Ray Butler. Butler, of Sydney, flys missions in support of the 25th Division near Cu Chi.|
|STRAIGHT AHEAD - Ground crewman guides U.S. Air Force Bronco to parking position at Cu Chi airfield. The planes are being flown by men of the Royal Australian and New Zealand Air Forces in support of 25th Division operations around Cu Chi.|
|PAPER WORK - Post-flight report on U.S. Air Force Bronco is made out by Royal New Zealand Air Force Pilot Flight Lieutenant John Denton of Whangarei, N.Z. Bronco pilots fly both reconnaisance and air-strike missions.|
Page 6 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS August 24, 1970
|IN THE SHADE OF THE OL' RUBBER TREE -- Recon Tomahawks of the 25th Division's 4th Battalion (Mech), 23rd Infantry take a short break in a rubber plantation while on operations 20 miles south of Xuan Loc. (Photo by SGT Mike Keyster)|
Cu Chi Has Karate Class
By PFC PATRICK F. MURPHY
CU CHI - Karate, an ancient oriental fighting art, is fast becoming a popular sport throughout the western world. A prime example is the course now being conducted at the Special Services exercise room here.
Organized by Staff Sergeant Doug Landies of the 18th Military History Detachment, the group is presently under the direction of Kim Sun Choi. Kim, an employee of Pacific Architects and Engineers, is rated a fourth degree Black Belt on a scale ranging from one to ten.
A native of Korea, Kim teaches the Tae Kwon Do (Korean) style of Karate.
"I view Tae Kwon Do as both a sport and method of self-defense," he said. "And its both a mental and physical exercise."
Of the seven students presently enrolled, Landies, of Cleveland, is the most experienced. A sixth degree Green Belt, he has been an avid devotee for the past nine months.
"I got into this back in the States and decided to follow it up when I got here. I asked around to see if anyone was interested and hence the classes," explained Landies.
"Depending on your viewpoint, Karate can be a sport, an art or a means of self-defense, - or a combination of all three," said Landies.
Purists, on the other hand, regard it with the respect due a religion. For many, it becomes a way of life. This is not uncommon in many oriental countries.
While there are various styles of Karate, Tae Kwon Do (Korean) and Kampo (Chinese) continue to dominate as the most popular with western fans. It is currently estimated that as many as four million people are taking instruction in the U.S.
Although the Cu Chi group is small, interest is picking up among GIs who hear of the course. All those enrolled (with the exception of Landies) have had little or no experience prior to signing up.
Dreadnaughts Begin Vehicle Upkeep Test
By SP4 FRANK MORRIS
TAY NINH -- The 2nd Battalion, 34th Armor has initiated a unique program to promote higher efficiency in the upkeep of their numerous track and wheeled vehicles. Awards are given monthly to the best-kept vehicle in the battalion.
The program is the brainchild of Sergeant First Class Walter Souther from Ft. Worth, Tex., the battalion maintenance sergeant.
The vehicles are broken down into three classes: (I) utility (one-quarter and three-quarter ton trucks), (2) trucks (two and one-half and five ton vehicles) and (3) tracks (all track laying vehicles).
Of these, one class is chosen by the battalion commander to compete for the award during the following week. His choice is not announced until one week before the inspection.
The different units of the battalion then prepare all the vehicles in this class for a thorough inspection. They select their best vehicle for the competition.
A maintenance team is brought in from the 725th Maintenance Battalion to search in every nook and cranny of the vehicles for gigs.
The soldiers who operate the truck or man the track receiving the fewest gigs are awarded a sum of money and a three-day R&R at China Beach. The winning unit's name is inscribed on a plaque displayed in a prominent place at battalion headquarters.
Americans Contribute To Chapel
DUC HOA -- Tropic Lightning chaplains recently presented $1,000 dollars worth of piasters to Vietnamese chaplains here to build a chapel.
The money was collected at 25th Division and 3rd Brigade, 9th Division services during the past several months. Vietnamese Catholics and Protestants will share the money on an equal basis, Lieutenant Colonel Roy Peters, the former 25th Division chaplain said.
The presentation was made by Major General Edward Bautz, Jr., the 25th Infantry Division commander, during a ceremony here. The gift was accepted by Major General Nguyen Xuan Thinh, the 25th ARVN commander.
Ask SGT Certain
DEAR SGT CERTAIN: In the August 3rd Tropic Lightning News, there is a picture of a truck of artillerymen arriving in Tay Ninh Base Camp. However, the way the sign reads they are apparently backing in. What's up?
DEAR SWEET: Correspondent, SP4 Tom Benn who wrote the article was not available for comment, but I got hold of PFC Tad Ferndock, an expert in such matters -- PFC Ferndock has been stationed in Nam for eight years. Ferndock told me that all forward gears on the deuce and a half had busted, but the guys decided they'd get to Tay Ninh or bust (PFC Ferndock used that word a lot.) Anyway, they traveled the last 12 and one half miles in reverse gear. This caused trouble on one-way bridges. Since bridge guards couldn't determine which way the truck was going they had to stop traffic in both directions. VC attempting to mine the road were also foiled, as they laid the mines where the truck had been, rather than where it was going.
DEAR SGT CERTAIN: Some time ago, the powers that be in in my unit threatened to serve us hot dogs made from the critters that hang around the mess hall if we soldiers didn't stop dropping them tid-bits. Last Thursday night, I think they made good on their promise. Can you verify?
(Unit name withheld on reqeust)
DEAR N.D.: Checking through the records of your mess hall, I do find an entry on the day in question identified only as "mystery meat." Also, as I was leafing through the books, a mess hall bulletin fell onto the floor. The bulletin ordered all cooks to fall out in full web gear with weapons on that Thursday morning at 0600 hours. Although I can't conclusively prove that "mystery meat" was local hound, I will definitely agree with you that the meal didn't cut the mustard.
Page 7 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS August 24, 1970
|WORKING QUICKLY AND EFFECTIVELY - Specialist 4 Orville Rickard, from Martinsburg, West Va., (at left) and Specialist 4 Richard Byers, from Lodi, N.J., (at right), combat medics of the 2nd Battlaion (Mech) 22nd Infantry, treat a wounded infantryman for chest and leg wounds.|
|SHOT TIME -- Private First Class Thomas Greenblatt, a combat medic for Triple Deuce, from Nashville, Tenn., gives another Triple Deuce infantryman a needed shot.|
The Combat Medic Is Everybody's Friend
By SP4 FRANK SALERNO
CU CHI -- He doesn't get the infantryman's headlines, but he deserves them. He's not an 11 Bravo but he's admired by them. He's invaluable. He's the combat medic.
He rides the armored personnel carrier of the 2nd Battalion (Mech) 22nd Infantry, on all operations. When the men dismount to check out an area, he's searching like everyone else.
When arriving at a night laager position, he is there to help out too. From digging a fighting position to setting up protective screens in front of the tracks, he's there sweating and cussing and getting grimey just like everyone else.
After supper the men going on an ambush patrol get ready. He does too - checking his gear which includes his all-important first aid bag.
He's as nervous as anyone else is in contact, but yet he works quickly, risking his life to comfort and save his wounded buddies.
He's a traveling drug store, with medication for everything from headaches to cuts and sores.
When the men finally get some free time after a busy day his job continues: bandaging, soothing, comforting.
He's like every other Triple Deuce infantrymen. But - he's the combat medic.
|GETTING PREPARED - Specialist 4 Herschel Cook, a Triple Deuce combat medic, gets his weapon, ammo and all important First Aid bag ready in preparation to go on an ambush patrol with his buddies.|
|MECHANIZED AID STATION - Sergeant Richard Plocinski, from Chicago, gets his twisted ankle bandaged by Specialist 4 Herscel Cook, a Triple Deuce medic, from Waverly Hill, Ga. inside an armored personnel carrier.|
Page 8 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS August 24, 1970
President Cites Manchus
Platoon Holds Off NVA
By SGT DANIEL A. HOUSE
CU CHI -- A Presidential Unit Citation for extraordinary heroism has been awarded to the 1st Platoon, Bravo Company, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry.
Lieutenant General Michael Davison, commanding general II Field Force, presented the award to the unit on behalf of the President.
The Manchus earned their distinction for action occurring on January 5, 1968. The platoon was waiting to be extracted from a landing zone near the Cambodian border when an enemy force of unknown size opened fire on Manchu positions with rockets, mortars and small arms. The element immediately maneuvered to the woodline and set up a defensive perimeter.
Supported by mortars and direct fire, the enemy launched a company-size offensive from the east which the Americans quickly turned back.
The enemy regrouped and hurled themselves at the Manchus in a human wave attack from the southeast. The platoon once again held firm, calling in air strikes and supporting artillery within a few meters of their own positions.
Despite heavy casualties and a dwindling supply of ammunition, the besieged platoon held out and repulsed yet another assault by the desperate enemy from the west.
During two and a half hours of continuous fighting, surrounded by a hostile, aggressive force much larger than they, the 31-man platoon suffered the loss of 7 dead and 16 wounded, yet were still able to offer such fierce resistance that the battered enemy finally had to retreat, leaving behind 60 dead.
Bravo Company is currently operating out of Fire Support Base Tennessee near the Hobo Woods.
|ATTENTION TO ORDERS -- LTC R.W. Welsh presents Trang Van Duc, a Kit Carson Scout, the Army Commendation Medal for Valor. (Photo by SGT Daniel A. House)|
When it Rains, On-Time Artillery Pours on Maintenance, Ingenuity
By SP4 TOM BENN
FSB BYRD -- Heavy artillery seldom his much trouble maneuvering across the Vietnamese countryside during the rainy season. The cumbersome self-propelled guns simply plow right through thick mud. However, the same can't be said for the tiny (by arty standards) "one-oh-deuces" of 7th Battalion 11th Artillery.
The 102mm howitzer does not ride on its own tracks like its big brothers, the 155, 175 and "eight-inchers." So it has to be transported behind a truck, which can lead to problems.
To Cross a Hole
"Once," said Specialist 4 Richard Ofte, a gunner with Bravo Battery, 7/11, "we were down around the Renegade Woods and had to cross a deep hole in the road. If we had kept the gun on the deuce-and-a-half, it would have messed up the barrel something terrible. So we hooked the gun to the back of an APC which tried to take it off the road and around the hole."
Private first Class Terence Vosepka continued the story.
"The track went off the road and the gun started to tip. We hollered "Stop!" but he kept going. We kept hollering and each time we did, the gun tipped over some more."
Three Feet of Water
"Finally," said Ofte, "it just went all the way over. It ended upside down in about three feet of water."
"The sight," said Vosepka, "is still a little messed up."
The Vietnamese rainy season presents more problems for artillery than just muddy roads.
"When we were up at Katum," Ofte said, "our gun was out of order just about every morning because it kept coming out of the soft dirt there."
According to Captain Ronald Yelk, battery commander of Bravo Battery, the biggest problem during the monsoons isn't with the howitzers at all.
"The biggest problem is that we can't put the ammo bunkers and personnel bunkers underground where they're safe. The holes just fill up with water."
Constant maintenance and American ingenuity overcomes just about any and all problems that the seasonal rains present to an artilleryman.
Manchus Pin Arcom On Kit Carson Scout
By SGT DANIEL A. HOUSE
TAY NINH -- In a combined awards ceremony here recently, the 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Manchus took the opportunity to present Kit Carson Scout Trang Van Duc with the Army Commendation Medal for his faithful service and heroic action while serving with his unit in an operation in the Boi Loi Woods last November.
Duc, who is with the second platoon, Delta Company, 4/9, was walking point for his platoon and through his alertness and quick action, the patrol was able to organize a hasty ambush when he spotted two NVA soldiers coming down the trail towards the friendly element.
During the action, Duc exposed himself to the enemy fire several times in order to place devastating fire upon an additional group of enemy soldiers that moved up on the Delta Manchus.
In both cases, it was Kit Carson Duc who spotted the enemy forces and alerted the friendly forces to their presence.
Tough Sarge Is Up For Infantry
By SP4 FRANK SALERNO
CU CHI -- In the annals of modern combat history, there have been a number of heroes of considerable fame. In World War I, there was Sergeant York. In World War II, there was Audie Murphy, who later on did his fighting on movie sets.
In the 25th Division, there is a new hero in the making. In fact, this hero has been in the making since the Korean War. He is Sergeant Gilbert Paris, from Ownsburg, Ky., currently serving with the 2nd of the 22nd (Mech).
"I got my first two purple hearts during the Korean War," Paris said. His unit fought such famous battles as Old Baldy and Pork Chop Hill.
"The fighting in Korea was much more intense than it is here," Paris went on.
The sergeant, now serving his third Vietnam tour as an 11-Bravo, has amassed a total of 21 battlefield decorations. "I'll always stay 11-Bravo," he said, "because I like to be where things are going on.
"Besides, I feel that there isn't any other job in the Army that presents more of a challenge than the infantry."
During Paris' first tour in 1966, his platoon once accounted for 112 enemy dead in a single action.
"We were a platoon-size ambush patrol of the Americal Division at Khe Sanh. An enemy force of undetermined size walked into our trap.
"After initially engaging them, we estimated that the hostile force was quite large. We called in artillery and gunships and the next morning saw the results.
Part of the Job
He has suffered numerous shrapnel wounds on his back and face, but discounts them as "Just part of the job."
Paris has seen a number of changes here since 1966.
"Water has become more plentiful and living standards have improved for the troops," he said. He also noted that Vietnamization is really working.
Paris is due for stateside leave shortly. Then it will be back to Vietnam once again, this time as an ARVN adviser.
For Paris, there is no other life.
|"WHY DON'T THEY MOW THE LAWN?" -- PFC Andrew Work of Hays, Mo., humps a light machine gun as men of the 2nd of the 22nd (Mech) take to ground after heavy monsoon rains. (Photo by PFC Nick Haren)|
Andrew Beiler, 1st Bn., 27th Inf., for sharing this issue,
Kirk Ramsey, 2nd Bn., 14th Inf. for creating this page.
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