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Vol 1 No. 2                     Saigon, Vietnam                     March 11, 1966


Unit                   Page Unit                  Page Unit                  Page Unit                  Page
1/5                                  1 1/69 Armor                    3 3d Bde                           1 65th Engr                      2
1/5                                  3 2nd Bde                         1 3d Bde                           3 65th Engr                      3
1/5                                  4 2nd Bde                         3 3/4 Cav                          1 65th Engr                      4
1/27                                1 2/9 Arty                         4 3/4 Cav                          3 Operation Garfield       1
1/69 Armor                    1 2/27                                 1 65th Engr                      1 Cu Chi PX                     2


This second issue of Tropic Lightning News published in Vietnam was mimeographed on  legal-size 8½ x 14 paper.


   The2d and 3d Brigades continued punching away at Viet Cone strongholds in the last week.  2d Bde., which continues to clear trenches and tunnels and eliminate VC concentrations around their perimeter in Hau Nghia Province, engaged in two battalion-size operations and a number of miscellaneous actions.  3d Bde., still occupied on operation Garfield, shifted its attention from Ban Me Thuot when the task force moved 55 miles north to Puon Prieng on Monday.         
   Operation Waikiki, a one-day search-and-clear operation continued this week by 2nd Bde., resulted in six Viet Cong dead and three others not confirmed by body count.
   Armor from 3/4 Cav knocked out one bunker, killing two Viet Cong.
   The operation had as its objective area the village of Xom Moi, a small "island" positioned in the middle of a rice paddy.
  While Cav. Tanks and personnel carriers from 1/5th (Mech.) moved in a mounted attack toward the objective area, troops from 1/27th Inf. Were helilifted to blocking positions north of Xom Moi 
(Continued on Page 3)



   The more than 50 tanks from 1 /69th Armor landed at Saigon Harbor this week to become the first armored battalion committed to the Vietnam war.
   Commanded by Lt. Col. R. J. Fairfield, Jr., of Minneapolis, Minn., 69th Armor left Hawaii in late January.
   The battalion's 580 men had been on Okinawa since February 6 to add new M-48A3 diesel-powered tanks to its arsenal.
   The battalion's headquarters, along with Hedaquaters, A and C Companies, will be assigned to the Cu Chi area.  B Company will become part of 3d Bde. at Pleiku.
   Until recently, the role of armor had been limited due to the natural terrain found in Vietnam.  However, its successful use in such places as Plei Me and by 3/4 Cav. At Cu Chi,
(Continued on Page 3)



   Lt. Col. Boyd T. Bashore has assumed command of 2/27th Inf. At Cu Chi.
   He succeeds Lt. Col. Harley F. Mooney, Jr., who has returned to Hawaii for a temporary duty assignment there.
   Colonel Bashore, formerly special assistant to Brig. Gen. Glenn D. Walker, assistant division commander/maneuver, was in the office of the Secretary General Staff at U.S. Army, Pacific, before being assigned to the division.
   Originally, he was slated to command 4th Bn., 21st Inf., which was deactivated when the division received deployment orders last December.



   The Viet Cong short course in how to lose friends and antagonize people has been winning droves of villagers in Hau Nghia Province -- for troops of the 2d Bde.
   When the brigade arrived at its base camp in January, they encountered hostility and misgivings among the natives, notably in the village of Vinh Cu, where the Americans were regarded as just more soldiers sent against them.
   The distrust of villagers in the area is being redirected from the Americans to the Viet Cong because of the guerillas' recent terrorist activities against the civilians.
   Recently, members of B Co., 65th Engr. Bn., were working to remove dirt fill from a quarry not far from the brigade's cantonment.  A group of children had gathered, sidewalk-superintendent style, to watch
(Continued on Page 4)


Page 2                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           March 11, 1966


Water, Water Everywhere (Where?)

   "How long you gonna keep'em water-supplied after they've seen VC?" was the lament of the 2d Bde., sitting hot, parched and dirty in their part of the Hau Nghia Viet Cong stronghold.
   The problem began the moment the first truck of the 635-vehicle convoy arrived in Cu Chi District in January.  It fell to the capabilities of Co. B, 65th Engr. Bn., to find an answer.
   First, the combat engineers sent a water truck to a nearby stream.  It soon came scurrying back to the base camp after Viet Cong, well entrenched in their years-old spider holes, had opened fire on the abortive water hunt.
   Somewhat subdued, but still thirsty, the engineers made a second attempt, this time accompanied by an armed convoy.  The hidden enemy continued to shoot at anything that moved.
   The following day, the engineers discovered that the Viet Cong had moved in during the night, mined the road leading to the river, and were waiting, snipers ready, for the water trucks to make a new attempt, even though the soldiers had been accompanied by armored personnel carriers the day before.
   There must be a better way to get water, insisted the engineers.
   It was more than five unsecured miles to the 1st Inf. Div.'s water point and "Charlie" held the river.  Why not dig a well?
   No sooner said than done and, in less than a day, water was flowing at Cu Chi.  No barnyard watering hole this, the 65th gouged out a hole 30 feet deep and 30 feet square, which became a combat engineer-produced well, proudly presenting 15 feet of water.  And not only was the water supply solved, but the well produced relatively pure water, requiring only minimum treatment to make it drinkable.
   Three-man teams from HHC, 65th Engr. Bn., attached to Co. B, work around-the-clock pumping out 20,000 gallons a day for drinking and for use in the brigade mess halls.
   Their internal needs satisfied, the engineers turned to the outer man and promptly dug a second well.  Used for laundry and showers, water from the second well doubled the total brigade supply to more than 40,000 gallons daily.
   With the Viet Cong sitting forlornly by their unused river, the engineers just smile and say, "The difficult we can do immediately; the impossible may take a little longer."


Beer Bubbles Brightly, Briskly Belts Business

   It takes guns and guts to fight a war and it takes cameras and Cokes to keep up the morale of the men who fight that war.
   While the swinging picks were still hacking into the dusty ground at Cu Chi, 1/Lt John T. Tunison, 2d Bde. Post Exchange (PX) officer, and his "hired help" were scurrying to se t up a store for the brigade's 4,000 men.
   In a two-week period in early February, the soft drinks, fruit juices and beer, the tape recorders, cameras and battery-operated electric shavers have been what's inside, accounting for sales of nearly $25,000.
   The sales came from $53,000 worth of merchandise, which is replenished weekly when 10 five-ton trucks make the pilgrimage from 2d Bde.'s base camp to Saigon over the Viet Cong-infested Highway One.
   For all their efforts in keeping 2d Bde.'s soldiers well supplied, the PX operators must face shortages of such luxury items as tape recorders and cameras because of the dust which billows in equipment-fouling clouds at Cu Chi.  But for the brave soul who must have a camera there is always mail order service, with orders being filled within a week.
   A safe return to the U.S.A., the land of the Pig PX, is the goal for most soldiers.  Until then, the "Battle of Little Big PX" at Cu Chi will be waged daily -- snipers or not.


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 U.S. Forces, 96225.  Views and opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Department of the Army.

Maj. Gen. Fred C. Weyand . . . . Commanding General
Maj. William C. Shepard . . . . . . Information Officer
Sp5 Dale P. Kemery . . . . . . . . . Editor



Page 3                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           March 11, 1966


(From Page 1)

prompted 69th Armor's assignment here.
   The M-48A3 medium tank mounts a 90mm gun as its main battle armament.  Its auxiliary equipment includes a 50 cal, cupola mounted machinegun and a 7.62mm-coaxial-mounted machine gun.
   Organized July 15, 1940, 69th Armor fought in both World War II and Korea and has earned 23 battle streamers.
   It joined the division in 1957 , succeeding 39th Tank Bn. as the division's armored unit.
   Upon his arrival in Saigon, Colonel Fairfield said, "The role of this battalion, i.e., 'support the advance of the infantry elements of the 25th Infantry Division,' can and will be accomplished by this battalion.  I can cite the accomplishments of this division's tank battalion in Korea as proof.  The capabilities of the battalion will greatly assist the 25th Infantry Division in seizing the initiative from the enemy in our areas of commitment.


Brigades Pound
(From Page 1)

   Receiving moderate to heavy sniper fire, members of Co. B, 65th Engr. Bn., moved to neutralize an extensive tunnel system and a broad minefield.
   Twenty-one bunkers and 25 tunnels were neutralized.
   One overrun ammunition cache resulted in the capture of extensive enemy materiel, including 1,000 pounds of rice, nine Chicom grenades, two 155mm artillery rounds, one 250-pound bomb and one 500-pound bomb.  Assorted mines, small arms and ammunition also were taken.
   Xom Moi had served as a source of trouble for the brigade for some time.
   Viet Cong troops have used the area to launch numerous mortar attacks on the brigade's base camp.  Up to a company of VC have been detected in the village, though a platoon normally uses it for its base of operations.
   Xom Moi had been ordered cleared of all civilians more than a year ago by the Vietnam government.
   There were no Brigade casualties in the operation.
   In operation Del Ray and miscellaneous actions Tuesday and Wednesday, 2d Bde. killed nine Viet Cong and another five possible enemy dead.
   Troops from 1/5th Inf. and 3/4 Cav., moving to destroy a tunnel complex in Del Ray, uncovered a two-level underground complex, which is believed to have served as a Vie t Cong battalion headquarters.  One bunker, large enough to house 36 men, was neutralized.  The complex was outfitted with steel doors and is reported to have been strong enough to withstand a
direct hit of a 4.2 mortar round.
   Two and a half tons of rice, 4,000 pounds of which were booby-trapped, were seized, along with five rifles, several bags of documents, medical supplies and 13 Chinese rifle grenades.
   In continuing action this week during operation Garfield, units of the 3d Bde. accounted for eight Viet Cong killed by body count and several weapons captured.  Included in the totals were several grenades, rifles and one Chinese machine gun.
   Moving from its former center of operations at Ban Me Thuot to Buon Brieng Monday, the brigade captured several uniforms, documents and a quantity of small arms ammunition.
   Garfield, which began February 26, has resulted in 14 enemy killed, 14 captured, 70 suspects detained and 18 individual weapons captured.



   Why pick up that document?  Why worry about fire support?  Field Force, Vietnam, operational headquarters for all Army tactical units in-country, has offered a list of "Tactical Tips."  The whys and wherefores of warfare in Vietnam.
   On intelligence, TT observes that it "must be timely, reliable, and detailed.  Stress importance of who, what, when, where, how many to troops for reporting.  Speed is essential for acting on intelligence."
   On fire support. FFV observes, "Special attention must be directed to fire support planning.  The VC will take advantage of any discernable inadequacy in fire support efforts.  All available combat support means must be given maximum utilization."
   (Editor's note: The above is the first in a series on ground combat operations in Vietnam.  It is a guide to the techniques of combat.


Page 4                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           March 11, 1966



   The artillery was responsible for the first enemy casualty on operation Garfield.
   Garfield, a search-and-clear operation conducted by 3d Bde, was in its second day when contact was made with the enemy.
   Lt. Col. Saul Jackson, commanding officer of 2/9th Arty., was in his command post about ten miles north of the brigade CP at Ban Me Thuot.
   The constant firing of the 105mm howitzers outside the CP and an especially dark night had enabled the culprit to sneak unnoticed right through the perimeter defenses.
   He had crept right into Colonel Jackson's tent and was crawling between the cots of the battalion commander and his executive officer, Maj. Paul Lenhart, when the colonel spotted him out of the corner of his eye.
   Jackson slowly inched his hand toward the .45 which was holstered on the opposite side of his cot from the unsuspecting enemy.
   Before the culprit could strike, the colonel had reached his weapon.  As the unwanted visitor raised up he caught the full blast of the Colt.  It almost tore his head off.
   "He's a nasty-looking little SOB," said Colonel Jackson as he reached  down to examine the remains of the three-foot-long pit viper still writhing between the cots.


Worst Enemies
(From Page 1)

the brigade's men and machines at work.
   Unnoticed, two Viet Cong stole up behind the children and tossed a grenade into their midst.  The resulting explosion seriously injured two of the youngsters, who were immediately hospitalized at the brigade aid station.
   Members of A Co., 1/5th (Mech.), who were safeguarding the engineers' operations, reacted and shot one Viet Cong, while the other escaped.  When a pursuit force went to locate the downed terrorist, they found only a trail of blood leading to a tunnel.  Searching the tunnel proved fruitless when the telltale blood faded.
   Such tactics have worked to the Viet Cong's disadvantage.  The villagers have ignored warnings to stop selling soft drinks to the Americans in spite of VC threats to mine their marketplace and plant grenades around Vinh Cu.
   It is a marked contrast to the animosity "Tropic Lightning" soldiers encountered when they first moved to Cu Chi.
   When agents crept into the village several nights ago and erected posters warning they would kidnap 2d Bde.'s Medical Care Aid Program team, the medics, ignoring the threat, set up their dispensary as usual the following morning.  Over 85 villagers were treated without incident.
   And when the soldiers noticed villagers were forced to wade across a stream to go to their rice fields, the engineers got busy and built a 15-foot long timber trestle bridge.
      Improving Vietnamese-American relations in Hau Nghia is proving to be a major aim for the brigade.  With Viet Cong harassment, their efforts are being made easier.


Broncos Give Help

   Third Bde. good will projects moved into high gear in Pleiku Province in February as civic action teams fanned out to offer help and assistance to the Vietnamese people near the Broncos' base camp.
   Troops from D Co., 65th Engr. Bn., have completed the first wing on the provincial hospital at Cheu-Hoi.
   Ceremonies are expected to mark the official opening of the structure, one of the few hospitals in rural Vietnam.
   Classes offering English instruction to elementary school students at Plei-Brel school have been held, on a twice-weekly basis.  The brigade is hopeful of obtaining school officials' approval to conduct the classes daily.
   Additionally, the school's teacher has been receiving English lessons and high school students are being encouraged to study.
   Over 1,400 patients were treated in one week during regular and semi-regular medical visits made in four villages around the brigade's headquarters.
   One suspected case of smallpox was treated in Plei-Brel.  The patient was moving around again in seven days.


Thanks to:
The 25th Infantry Division Museum for sharing the 1966 volume,
Ron Leonard, 25th Aviation Battalion for getting and mailing the book,
Kirk Ramsey, 2nd Bn., 14th Inf. for creating this page.

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