Vol 1 No. 5 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS April 1, 1966
|Unit Page||Unit Page||Unit Page||Unit Page|
|1/5 1||1/8 Arty 3||2nd Bde 1||3rd Bde 4|
|1/5 1||1/27 3||2/9 Arty 1||3/4 Cav 1|
|1/5 1||1/27 3||2/14 1||3/4 Cav 3|
|1/5 2||1/27 4||2/27 1||3/7 ARVN 3|
|1/5 3||1/35 1||2/27 4||65th Engr. 1|
|1/5 4||1/35 4||2/32 Arty 2||65th Engr. 1|
|1/8 Arty 1||1/69 Armor 1||2/35 1||Cu Chi Museum 4|
|1/8 Arty 1||1/69 Armor 2||2/35 2||GI Bill 2|
|1/8 Arty 3||125th Signal Bn 1||25th Inf 3||Outpost Ann-Margret 1|
|1/8 Arty 3||2nd Bde 1||3rd Bde 2||Vietnam 3|
GENERAL WEYAND ARRIVES TO
|Maj, Gen. Fred, C. Weyand, commanding general, 25th Infantry "Tropic Lightning" Division.|
Maj Gen. Fred C. Weyand arrived in Vietnam
this week to assume command of the division's soldiers in the III Corps
The general's arrival officially marks the completion of the division's 6,000-mile move from Hawaii to Vietnam, although the 1st Bde. Task Force remains in the 50th State.
General Weyand, who landed at Tan Son Nhut Air Base aboard a C-141 Starlifter, was welcomed to Vietnam by Brigadier General Richard J. Seitz, assistant deputy commanding general and chief of staff for the U. S. Army, Vietnam.
General Weyand took command of the 25th in August 1964. Since the division's 2d Bde arrived in January troops in III Corps have been under the interim command of Brig. Gen. Edward H. de Saussure, ADCIS.
The "Tropic Lightning" commander brought with him the members of his staff not already in Vietnam, including Brig. Gen. Glenn D. Walker, who had been here earlier to coordinate the arrival of the 3d Bde. at Pleiku.
Accompanying General Weyand were Lt. Col. Duane W. Compton, 25th Division G-1 (personnel); Lt. Col. Truman E. Boudinot, the G-3 (operations); and Lt. Col.. Robert R. Hicks, the division's G-5 (civic action).
Lt. Col. James W Cannon, the division G-2 (inteiligence), and Maj. William E. Davis, 25th G-4 (logistics), preceded the General to Vietnam earlier this year.
Elements of the 25th Infantry Division in Vietnam now include 2nd/14th Inf ; 1st and 2nd/27th Inf; 1st and 2nd/35th Inf; lst/69th Armor; 1/5th (Mech.); 3/4, Cav. 1/8th Arty; 2/9th Arty; 125th Sig. Bn. 65th. Engr. Bn, and support elements.
Elements of the 25th
Infantry Third Brigade Smashes VC Ambush Force
It was an old, unhappy story with an unfamiliar, happy ending. It happened last week in Darlac Province, about 50 miles south of Pleiku, where 3d Rd was conducting operation Garfield.
Lieutenant Pat Lenz was leading the 3d Pla . A Co., 1/35th Inf in pursuit of a mortar party, which had shelled the battalion base camp earlier that day.
About noon, one of the men in the platoon found some telephone wire running up a stream bed. Lt. Lenz took his men up the stream. Carefully following the wire, it was not until too late that the platoon detected the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) company. The platoon found itself choked and heavily outnumbered in the middle of an ambush.
Lt. Lenz, who had already been shot in the thigh, and his platoon sergeant, Staff Sergeant Warren Jones, immediately led a counter attack on the entrenched communists.
Checking his map for a good landing zone (LZ) for evacuation helicopters, the platoon leader called for assistance. But the platoon had to fight its way through enemy positions to get the 200 yards to the LZ.
(Continued on Page 4)
Displaced Villagers Recover
A casual observer could have walked over and asked some original question like, "Are you digging for gold ?" Yes, as a matter of fact, the three Vietnamese and two Americans were digging for gold.
It was one of the side effects of the Vietnam war that the solders of the 2d Bde. have earned since they moved to Hau Nghia Province.
In January, the brigade began clearing the area of Viet Cong, who had used it as their own sanctuary for years. Before striking enemy positions, however, the Americans warned Vietnamese civilians living in the vicinity that the advancing forces were approaching.
Many of the farmers, thinking the move was temporary buried money and jewelry near their thatched-roofed homes for safekeeping. In the fighting which ensued, however, many of the buildings were damaged beyond repair.
(Continued on Page 4)
Tunnel Running for Fun and
Tote them demolitions! Lift that tunnel hatch! Crawl through that chamber! Dodge that booby trap!
Ho-hum, its all in a day's work for Specialist Four Tony Murdock, who spends more time peering at the results of Viet Cong burrowing than smelling the fresh air of Hau Nghia Province.
Murdock, a 20-year-old native of Radford, Va., is one of the unique breed of soldier to have earned the nickname of "tunnel runner" or "tunnel rat".
It all began shortly after he arrived at the base camp, 20 miles northwest of Saigon, and his unit, Co. B, 1/5th (Mech.) Inf. discovered itself sitting on the end result of 15 years of communist digging.
Cu Chi was the one perfect place in Vietnam to establish a tunnel school. School? SCHOOL?! There was no school according to Murdock. It was OJT (on-the-job-training) and I was the guinea pig.
But the specialist, who spent six months in Vietnam in 1964 as a helicopter aerial door gunner says he doesn't mind squirming through the tunnels, most of which are no larger than three feet by five feet.
Certainly, not a job for a man with claustrophobia, the big problem lies not in the cramped quarters but in the little surprises the Viet Cong leave behind them - punji sticks (sharpened and hardened bamboo stakes), booby traps, stray dogs and even an airplane engine.
(Continued on Page 4)
Puu's Gallery Attracts
Military "Art" Lovers
The sign reads, "There has never been an enemy soldier killed with baseball bats, rocks, baseballs, golf balls, pool cues, tennis rackets..."
But the Viet Cong, who have never been trained in an American basic training camp, haven't seen the sign and, not knowing the maxim, use anything from hollow bamboo shoots to rusty nails to work their mischief.
It has not gone unnoticed at 2d Bde. however. There, amidst the dust of Hau Nghia Province, stands Puu's Gallery (after Bde. CO Colonel Lynnwood M. Johnson, Jr., nicknamed "The Big Puu," Hawaiian for mountain), several boards which act as an open-air exhibit of Viet Cong combat deviltry.
If a guide were furnished, he would point out the crude weapons of this "ancient-modern" war such as the crossbow and several razor-sharp spikes left on paths or abandoned in tunnels. There is also one captured slingshot, apparently intended to slay the American Goliaths.
Enemy ingenuity was at work when they made a booby-trapped bamboo shell. Pointed skyward, it explodes when weight forces a live round into a firing pin at the bottom of the hollow bamboo tube.
(Continued on Page 4)
MOVIE STAR BECOMES 2D BRIGADE OUTPOST
"Ann-Margret," the telephone voice said.
Actually, of course, it wasn't Ann Margret. She never got to Viet Cong infested Cu Chi on her whirlwind tour of Vietnam.
But no matter: she has friends there.
Co. B, 65th Engr. Bn., recently completed a key bridge on the brigade's dusty northern perimeter and 1/5th (Mech) Inf. drew the assignment of guarding the strategic outpost. It was christened Outpost Ann-Margret, named longingly for the actress's visit to Vietnam. Naturally, "Ann-Margret" is the ONLY way to answer the telephone.
Although actress Ann had only been guarded from thousands of wild-eyed GIs, Outpost Ann still has to be defended from live Viet Cong bullets.
The men from 1/5th weren't talking, though, when asked if they had any reminders of their outpost's namesake decorating the bridge to brighten those dark nights.
"Charlie" Gets 25,000th
Surprise from 1/8th Arty.
SECOND BDE. has delivered the Viet Cong greetings in the form of the 25,000th round of 105mm howitzer firepower dumped on enemy positions since the unit arrived in Vietnam two months ago.
The fiery aloha rumbled into the jungles somewhere in Hau Nghia Province at the hands of assistant gunner Cpl. Terry M. Witherington, of Cochran. Ga. He was the same man who, on January 19, pulled the lanyard to send the first 105 round to the VC from 1/8th Arty.
(Continued on Page 4)
Page 2 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS April 1, 1966
Bunker Life: Loneliness,
Mosquitoes and Viet Cong
If 20th Century Fox and Paramount were to be believed, the American fighting man charges imperturbably from foxhole to foxhole and from triumph to triumph.
Naturally, when the enemy throws a grenade at him, he flips his M-16 rifle around and belts it harmlessly away, much as Willie Mays might line a double into the left field corner.
War, however, is not always filled with the action Hollywood would like to portray. Much of it is silent, agonized waiting.
I spent 24 hours in a bunker with members of Co. B, 1/5th (Mech.)- whose duty is to guard a strategic outpost half a mile outside the Cu Chi perimeter.
I moved into a bunker with two riflemen of the 2d platoon's third squad. It was their turn to spend 48 hours in the rubber tree surroundings before going back to the foxholes on the perimeter.
It was dusty, cramped and humid. There were ants crawling on the floor and very shortly on me. On the ground were chewing gum and candy bar wrappers and shells from expended M-14 rounds.
Specialist Four Nathaniel (Nat) McLean, a native of Zebulon, N.C, a speck of a town about 20 miles from Raleigh, and Pfc Leo Hinterlong, a 22-year-old from Cincinnati, sat quietly listening to a transistor radio to Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots Were Made for Walking" on Armed Forces Radio.
Thoughts of home invade the quiet hours. Leo was thousands of miles away. His fatigues were very dirty; it doesn't take long in a grimy foxhole. In the left pocket of his fatigue shirt was a letter from his best friend's girl.
"I guess she just wanted to write," he said. He took out the letter and read it. "I read it before, but I like reading it over again."
He said he had a girl back home. I asked if she wrote much, and he said; "Yes. Well, not that much. She wrote one time and told me she had found another boy friend."
Nat was interested in the all-important mail, too. He said if he missed getting mail a day or two he really got down in the dumps.
"I sure hope they have some mail for me tonight," he said. "I'm expecting some pictures from home. My wife has been keeping me up on my favorite TV shows."
They didn't talk too much. Most of the time, their eyes were gazing at the flat area in front of the bunker. Thirty yards from the bunker was a string of concertina wire. Thirty yards from there was the fringe of the rubber plantation, and beyond that.... ?
"How long were we here before we saw our first action?" Nat asked "Two hours. A guy went down to the river and the V.C. opened up He couldn't get out."
The sun started to dip into the rice paddies in the west, and Sergeant Boyd, the squad leader, stuck his head into the bunker, and said, "I want you boys to keep alert."
Leo turned off his radio. "I'm glad I bought this thing," he said. "It's not too bad in here with this. It keeps us up with the world."
"It can get real lonely here," Nat said. "You have so much time to think. You think about things you haven't thought about in 10 years. I thought about some girl I used to go with in grade school. She's probably married now and has a flock of kids."
There would be no moon that night and Nat worried about this. It is hard enough to find the Viet Cong in the light.
"I've never seen anybody shoot at me yet," Leo said, "but I've had those bullets really hugging my head. The closest I've seen the enemy is when they capture one."
As darkness descended, they talked, when necessary, in whispers. Leo was behind his M-14 automatic rifle, staring quietly to the front, while Nat rested his head on his steel helmet and tried to get some sleep.
Sleep is a precious commodity in a bunker. There is no room to stretch the body and the mosquitoes buzz tormentingly around the ears. It is deadly humid. And there is fear.
Co. C had ambush patrols in front of us. If they had to return quickly in an emergency, they were to yell code words, allowing them to pass our field of fire safely.
Leo got sleepy and Nat took over. He saw a figure walking in front of the bunker.
"Halt!" he snapped. "Who is there ?"
"Wherling," the voice said.
"What're you doing out there?" Nat said.
"Some of our sandbags fell in," and he was looking for the command post to report the matter.
"All right," Nat growled. "Go behind the bunker."
And then it was silent again. Occasionally, the silence was broken with small arms fire from another area of the perimeter or the blasts from artillery hitting distant Cong positions.
Leo went back on duty and then it was Nat again. All of a sudden it was bright. Trip flares blazed in red about 50 yards from the bunker. Nat had his finger ready on the M-79 grenade launcher. He whispered to me, "There's somebody out there."
If there was, Nat couldn't spot him, and soon the light died without a shot being fired.
"Wake up," Nat said to Leo. "It's morning."
The first rays of the sun yawned over the trees.
"Well, we made it through another night, Leo," Nat remarked.
Too bad all nights aren't as quiet.
"G.I. BILL" Gives
Benefits In Education, Financing
By Pvt. David Kleinberg
For the first time since 1955, members of the armed services have been given benefits under a so-called "GI Bill." Officially named the Veterans' Readjustment Benefits Act of 1966, the law, passed by the House of Representatives on February 7, and by the Senate three days later, affords broad, new advantages to both servicemen being separated from active duty as well as those remaining in the armed services.
Unlike the Korean GI Bills the new act has been established on a permanent basis, to run indefinitely. All provisions of the new law went into effect as of March 3, the date President Johnson signed the measure into law, except the education feature. Education benefits will be effective on June 1, 1966.
The broadest provision offered under the law is, of course, the far-reaching education program. It is available for anyone who has served MORE than 180 days on active duty, has been discharged or released from active duty under conditions other than dishonorable, or has been discharged or released for a service-connected disability. Six-month trainees are not covered.
The act is far-reaching in its coverage, allowing for tuition assistance not just for college, but for trade, vocational and technical schools - including correspondence. However, apprentice and job training, farm training, flight training (unless it is part of a standard college course), and certain hobby and recreational courses do not fall within the law's provisions.
Unlike a similar bill passed by the Senate last fall, the final law provides schooling at the rate of one month of schooling for each month an individual spends in the armed forces. It is limited to 36 months maximum. Anyone who may have used the bill under the provisions of the World War II and Korea GI Bills will be ineligible for the new program for the amount of time used previously.
When the education provision becomes effective, single veterans will be given $100 a month for full-time study, while veterans with one dependent will receive $125 a month. Veterans having two or more dependents will get $150 monthly.
Also provided for under the "cold war" bill is tuition assistance for part-time schooling at the rate of $75 with no dependents, $95 with one dependent, and $115 for veterans who have two more dependents.
Although the law fails to define half-time students, it allows for payments of $50, $60 and $75 for each of the three categories studying "half-time".
Students studying by correspondence will be given assistance for the regular course fee charged non-veterans for the same course. The allowance will be paid every three months for lessons actually completed.
However, any schooling sought by a veteran must be completed within eight years from his date of discharge or release from active duty.
The education program of the new law is not the only provision available. One of its biggest features is the Veterans Administration guarantee program, which provides for home and farm loans of up to $17,500, with the same requirements applying as for the education clause. A fee of one half per cent of the loan amount is charged to cover the cost of claims and expenses.
To take advantage of the loan program, you have ten years from the date of your discharge to apply for a loan. Not limited just to ten years, however, the law also grants an additional year for each three months spent on active duty to apply. In short, an individual with two years of active duty has ten years from his discharge date, plus four years for each year in the service, or a total of 18 years to apply for the loan. You must apply within 20 years after leaving active duty to be eligible.
A new feature of the Veterans' Readjustment Benefits Act is the inclusion of a free medical care program. All veterans who have served since Jan. 31,1955, are eligible for hospitalization if a bed is available and they are unable to pay for their treatment. The provision applies primarily to non-service connected hospitalization.
In addition to its other benefits, the law has amended the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act to provide for payment of $150 a month for individuals renting homes when they are called into service. Formerly, the provision was limited to $80 a month.
COMUSMACV Visits 3d
Gen. William C. Westmoreland visited 3d Bde. 's base camp and forward command post last week.
He arrived at the Broncos' "home on the hill" at Pleiku shortly after 2 p.m. His helicopter landed in the 2/35th's battalion area, where he was met by Lt. Col. George A. Scott, battalion CO.
After touring the company area or HHC, 2/35th, General Westmoreland was shown a well dug by the men of the "Cacti Blue" to supplement the camp water supply.
The U.S. commander in Vietnam then went by jeep to the opposite side of the camp to give an official welcome to the men of B Co., 1/69th Armor. The tankers, commanded by Capt. Richard R. Russell, joined the brigade after a sea journey from Hawaii via Okinawa, where they had spent over a month being outfitted with new M48-A3 tanks.
General Westmoreland explained the reasons for the U.S forces being in Vietnam and discussed the role the armor would be playing in future operations in the area.
Following his welcoming talk to the tankers, General Westmoreland said good-bye to Colonel Scott and flew to the Bronco forward command post at Buon Brieng, a small Mortagnard village about 50 miles south of the Pleiku base camp.
Upon arrival there, the general was met by 3d Bde. Commander Col. Everette A. Stoutner. They went directly to the tactical operations center, where General Westmoreland was given a briefing on operation Garfield, which ended late last week.
Before boarding his plane for Saigon. the general wished Colonel Stoutner continued success on the operation, which accounted for 124 enemy killed, 18 prisoners captured and 74 suspects detained. The brigade also took 62 individual weapons, 27,600 rounds of small arms ammunition and 112 rounds of 82mm mortar.
Artillery Chief Tours 2/32nd
Maj. Gen. Harry H. Critz, CG of the USA Artillery and Missile Center at Fort Sill, Okla., toured 2/32nd Arty, which is now part of 2d Bde.
General Critz, on a tour of artillery stations in Vietnam, was greeted by Lt. Col. Leon L. de Correvont, the battalion commander.
After a briefing, the general then toured the 175mm cannons - Alabama, Proud American, Agitator and Angel - the largest pieces of artillery in the world.
Returning to battery headquarters, he cut the ribbon to open the new battalion enlisted men's club and concluded his tour with a visit to the battalion's eight-inch artillery.
General Critz was formerly executive officer of 2/32nd Arty. during World War II.
|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.1 Forces 96225. Army News Features, Army Photo Features and Armed
Forces Press Service material are used. Views and opinions expressed are
not necessarily those of the Department of the Army. Printed in Saigon,
Vietnam, by Dai Doan Ket Publishing Company.
Maj. Gen. Fred C. Weyand . . . . Commanding General
Maj. William C. Shepard . . . . . Information Officer
Sp5 Dale P. Kemery . . . . . . . . . Editor
Page 3 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS April 1, 1966
Vietnam: Country of Age and
"I can' t really believe I'm in Vietnam" is a common statement from newly-arrived division soldiers after having heard so much so long about this ancient country.
In this, the first of a series of articles on Vietnam, getting along here, and understanding the people, the TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS offers a little background on the country in which you are now living.
Vietnam, shaped like a huge "S" forms the east coast of the Indo-China Peninsula. Northern Vietnam is a mountainous, high region. Its peaks however, do not reach a great height. The best known are Fan Si Pan, Tam Dao and Pat Vi. Central Vietnam, a sort of long, irregular corridor joining the north to the south, is made up of a series of small hill plains drained by relatively short streams rising in the "Cordillera of Vietnam" called Truong Son.
The indented coast of headlands and bays sketches a great convex across the island-scattered sea. South Vietnam is a flat country. It results from the emersion of a shallow sea bed, silted up with the deposits of the Mekong, which finishes its course here in a vast delta.
It can be said that south Vietnam is the magnificent gift of the Mekong.
This delta constitutes very nearly the entire land surface of the country, with its rice fields stretching as far as the eye can see and surveyed by a few peaks of very little elevation.
In the north the climate is similar to that of Southern China. It is characterized by a wide difference between summer and winter temperatures and by many sudden changes. The central region is the transition zone, which progresses to the southern climate of a simple monsoon type. The southern areas are characterized by the consistency of temperatures, the distinctly alternating monsoons and the regularity of the rainy season. The summer monsoon ranges from May to October. The winter monsoon from November to February is followed by a period of cool evenings and clear skies from February to April.
In south Vietnam, the Mekong and its wide-flung arms drain all the country. The principal branches are the Tien Giang (upper river), Hau Giang (lower) and Tonlesap. The entire delta of south Vietnam is furrowed by many little streams, by tributaries of the bigger rivers, and by a multitude of canals, which form an excellent network for navigation and irrigation.
Vietnam is inhabited by 25 million people, of whom the Vietnamese constitute the predominant racial element (about 22 million). Although of small stature, the Vietnamese are robust and resilient. Over long centuries, they have been subjected to Chinese influence, which has become part of their character and manifests itself in many ways. He is a man of the plains, rejecting the highlands and preferring to leave the mountains and forests to the racial minorities of Thais, the Man and the Mao.
Historically, Vietnam's first records show early domination by the Chinese from 111 B.C. to 938 A.D. The great national dynasties run from 939 to 1945 and may be divided into ten separate periods. French influence first became notable in Vietnam in 1858 when Tourane was captured by Franco-Spanish troops. In 1954, after many years of bitter fighting, Vietnam was divided approximately in half.
The communists control the area north of the 17th parallel, while the area south is known as the Republic of Vietnam. which was established July 5, 1954.
In 1950, an agreement was made among the governments of the United States. France, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam providing military assistance in Indo-China. The U.S Military Advisory Assistance Group, (MAAG) at that time was actually a small logistical group which provided equipment to the French.
When the French withdrew after the Geneva Accords Conference in 1954, MAAG began assisting the Vietnamese who had taken command of their own forces. Military assistance was increased early in 1962 and the buildup of American forces here has been continuing in varying degrees ever since.
The social system of Vietnam is founded on the clan, which is made up of a varying number of families. The clan is composed of all families having a common ancestor. In principle, the lineage is reckoned as far as the ninth generation. Since time immemorial, absolute, parental authority has been exercised over women and children, both as individuals and over their property. These days, under the influence of Western ideas, and since the development of new civil codes, the Vietnamese family has lost much of its rigidity. The individual has more and more often asserted his own rights, which has caused an increasing fragmenting of the family formerly considered an impregnable fortress.
In Vietnam, the most sacred and solemn events are marriage and death. The first is looked on as an entirely family affair, a matter of interest to the whole family community and not as the personal concern of the future bride and groom.
Through China, Vietnam has received three religious systems: Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism. The first Christian missionaries arrived in Vietnam at the beginning of the 14th century. Permanent missions were not established in the country, however, until the 17th century.
From the time of the arrival of the missionaries until the present there has existed in Vietnam a community of about two million Catholics. A new religion sprang up in South Vietnam at the turn of this century. It is known as Caodaism and it combines qualities of Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity and Confucianism.
The Vietnamese with their deep-rooted sense of harmony and beauty are naturally artistic people. Across the long years of their history, few traces remain of their artistic skill because their materials (wood, bamboo and baked clay) have no durability in a tropical climate and little resistance to destruction by termites. It is, as ethnologists have called it, "a civilization of the plant world." Nothing now is left of the famous palaces of the Go Loa, Hoa Lu, Trang Long and numerous others. What has remained standing, in spite of the work of the climate and the termites, man has taken upon himself to destroy by the unending wars which have been waged over the centuries. Only articles of iron, gold, and silver have managed to survive everything.
Modern Vietnam presents a virtual kaleidoscope of faces to the newcomer. A vast opportunity presents itself in Vietnam to know and understand the people. There are so many contrasts and differences in culture that you will indeed be doing yourself a disservice if you do not attempt to learn as much about the people and their habits as possible before you leave Southeast Asia.
25th Inf. Div. Association
Meets for Sixth Reunion
The European Chapter of the 25th Infantry Division Association has announced plans for their sixth annual reunion to be held May 27-30, 1956, at the General Walker Hotel, Berchtesgaden, Germany.
The purpose of the yearly reunion of the chapter is to further the traditions of the Tropic Lightning Division.
In a letter to Maj. Gen.Fred C. Weyand, division commander, SMaj Edwin K. Maunakea, Jr., said, "This year's reunion will be built around a Hawaiian and Vietnam atmosphere since the 25th Infantry Division is currently stationed in Vietnam."
This year, the chapter is sponsoring a Hawaiian reunion (Hoolaulea Luau) for all islanders, in conjunction with the 25th Inf. Div. Reunion. Sergeant Major Maunakea explained, "All islanders are invited even though they have never served with "Hawaii's Own" during times of peace and war."
Hawaiian food will be served at the reunion and the "Kamaaina" Hawaiian Hula Troupe, the only Polynesian entertainment troupe of its kind, will perform.
Included in the four-day reunion will be memorial services to be conducted on May 29 in commemoration of the division's war dead in Vietnam
The association is a benevolent and charitable organization and exists to reunite and to keep united all present and former members of the division, to keep alive those memories and friendships and to uphold division traditions.
Range Opened To Honor
The Wallace K. Matayoshi Rifle Range, a memorial to the first man of 1/27th Inf. to be killed in action here, was officially opened by Brigade CO Colonel Lynwood M. Johnson Jr., at Cu Chi last week.
Specialist Four Matayoshi had been assigned to a three-man listening post (LP) 150 yards beyond the perimeter the night of Jan. 29. At 10 p.m., a Viet Cong hand grenade seriously wounded the rifleman. Realizing that the slightest movement or sound would reveal the exact location of the LP to the enemy, Matayoshi told his comrades in the post with him that he was not seriously injured.
In the morning, when the true extent of his wounds was discovered, the courageous 24-year-old soldier was beyond medical help. For his action, SP4 Matayoshi was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with V device, the Purple Heart, and the Combat Infantryman's Badge.
The rifle range named after him was built less than 200 yards from his final assignment by members of his platoon. It will be used primarily for zeroing and training with the newly-issued M-l6 rifle. Matayoshi, a native of Hawaii, was a member of Co B, 1/27th Inf..
Second Bde. Hits Viet Cong
In Circle Pines
Second Bde. launched operation Circle Pines Tuesday in a new drive to clear the area of continued Viet Cong resistance near their Cu Chi base.
Involving elements of 1/5th (Mech.) Inf., 1/27th Inf, 69th Armor and 3/4 Cav., in addition to the 3/7th Inf. Regt. (ARVN), Circle Pines moved into Phu Hua Kong Plantation not far from the Hau Nghia Province's Ho Bo Woods.
The first day of action saw ten Viet Cong killed by body count, with another 17 possible enemy dead, not confirmed by body count.
In uncovering a tunnel complex, which had branches leading in eight different directions, 1/5th discovered a rice cache of 25 tons of bagged rice.
Searching for a suspected VC main force battalion believed to be operating in the area, brigade units captured ten weapons, including one Chinese rocket launcher and assorted foreign small arms.
By Thursday, 23 VC had been killed, with another 66 estimated dead.
An artillery observer for 1/8th Arty, observed two secondary explosions when several buildings were destroyed by "Automatic Eighth" firepower.
The operation is continuing.
Flying "Papooch" Turns in
"Little Raven" was a fearless flier with sharp eyes and a keen, twitching nose. Unfortunately, heart trouble has caused her to be grounded. And the 2d Bde. is considering pressing charges for alienation of affections.
She joined Captain John W. Kearns, of Salem. W. Va. and Sergeant John W. Kelly, of Andalusia, Ala., almost daily in their OH23G helicopter to give 1/8th Arty. observation support.
So much did she fly after her arrival and subsequent adoption at Cu Chi, 20 miles northwest of Saigon, that she had accumulated almost 25 combat hours in the air. "She's not quite eligible for an Air Medal," Capt. Kearns said, "But we're keeping a record on her."
A couple of weeks ago, while Raven, who happens to be a dog, was waiting to take off from Bien Hoa, a canine friend ran up to the helicopter and jumped in.
"She prefers to stay back now," the captain lamented. "She's gotten used to having another dog around. She's a female. He's a male."
Raven now stays at. the fire direction center, where she has a comfortable home. She still comes out occasionally to greet Capt. Kearns and Sgt. Kelly when they return from a flight, but the thrill is gone.
No one is too worried about her listlessness, though, least of all Capt. Kearns, who thinks things may start jumping in the FDC soon.
"We'll probably have a whole bunch of little Ravens running around here before long," he grinned.
Anyone need a flying puppy? Complete with (news) papers?
Page 4 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS April 1, 1966
Third Brigade Smashes...
(Continued From Page 1)
As the fighting raged on the ground, an Air Force forward air controller arrived on the scene in his small "birddog" observation plane. He had no communication with the platoon but soon had Air Force A1-E Skyraiders bombing the communists, forcing them to fall back. So close was the fighting that the Skyraiders were dropping their bomb loads and rockets within 75 yards of the Americans.
Despite the air attack, the NVA troops were in their final assault when the helicopters dropped into the landing zone. A company's first platoon, under the command of Lieutenant Richard Coleman, was assaulting the attackers before the choppers had fully touched down.
The fresh platoon launched a counterattack against the communists, pushing the enemy back from the LZ. The intense firing damaged several of the 'copters before they managed to get off the ground.
The first platoon's artillery forward observer made quick calculations and, while the remainder of his platoon continued the assault, called howitzer fire almost on top of the American position. The communists began to withdraw.
It was only moments before A Company's 2d platoon joined the fight, hitting the NVA troops from sill another position. The platoon, commanded by Lieutenant James Kelsey, linked with the first platoon and began to sweep across enemy positions.
Men who had received minor wounds were helping their more seriously injured buddies back to the helicopters. Others were carrying additional ammunition to the advancing troops. Many of the "Tropic Lightning" soldiers continued to fight in spite of their wounds.
One of the men, his right hand wrapped in bandages and bleeding from fragment wounds, crawled up to an enemy bunker and threw in a grenade, with his good left hand.
The main body of the communists, realizing that the odds had changed, broke and ran for the jungle, leaving a small holding force behind. Two hours later, A Company troops finished wiping out the holding force, which had returned to the enemy `s previously prepared positions.
Into the fight moved B Co., 1/35th Inf., which set up blocking positions in front of the retreating NVA company. Although the communists had scattered in all directions, several groups ran directly into B Company's waiting traps.
When the dust cleared, the Americans found 36 dead the staggering Communists left behind. A captured North Vietnamese soldier later said that more than 100 of his comrades had been wounded in the exchange.
While it wasn't necessarily the kind of tactics taught in manuals, it was a classical reminder to the communists that they have stopped writing the rule books in Vietnam.
From 4 Teachers
Darlac Province Natives Learn 3rd Bde. English
The little, frightened girl managed a timid smile as she stood behind the desk made of wooden planks, looked up at the American towering above her, and said, "Yes, I have a pen."
The American, Specialist Four Edward Cervantes, of Los Angeles, Calif., is an interpreter for 2nd/27th Inf. As he stood facing the 11-year-old girl, he was fighting the other half of the Vietnam war - the half without mortars or bullets or booby traps. It's the half being waged against disease, malnutrition and illiteracy.
Cervantes, who learned Vietnamese at the 25th Infantry Division Language School while still in Hawaii, heads a team of four infantryman-instructors from the Wolfhounds and three Vietnamese Army interpreters.
"We work in two-man teams using lesson plans developed by the Civil Affairs section," Cervantes explained. "First, the instructor says a phrase in English, then the interpreter translates for the students to repeat it."
Three separate classes are taught on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the village schoolhouse at Cu Chi. The village elders, civil servants and the chief of Cu Chi are in the first class, while the other two groups are students at the school. All attend the sessions on a voluntary basis.
"We do this," said Specialist Five Gerald D. Snyder, of Walla Walla, Wash., "because we want to help, the people want to learn, and, although we've missed a couple of sessions because of operations, the students are here when we show up."
The results of the Wolfhound English classes have already become apparent on the streets of Cu Chi. "We noticed it right after the first sessions," observed Specialist Four Charles J, Oliver, Sr., of Allston, Mass. "The people would say 'hello' or 'how are you, any of the simple phrases we'd taught them. Now, their sentences are getting more complex. The teenagers, especially, have picked up the language."
However, the Wolfhound education program seems to have worked a - city ying - change between American soldiers and Vietnamese.
Now in Cu Chi the cry, "Number one! Number One!" has become almost passe. Instead, the little boy peddling sunglasses or can openers or the dozens of other items small boys sell, may say, "Sergeant this can opener is made of the finest..."
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The Army quickly established temporary tent living quarters for the Vietnamese, many of whom accepted jobs from the brigade.
But still the peasant farmers didn't have valuables, and three of them asked permission to go to their homes and dig up their life savings.
Captain Richard Melli, from Upper Darby, Penna, intelligence officer for 1/27th Inf. took Specialist Four Edward Cervantes, of El Sereno, Calif, to act as interpreter for the two women and one man.
The odd little procession made its way to where the 55-year-old woman and her daughter pointed out a tree stump. An Army entrenching tool and five pairs of hands soon uncovered a brown beer bottle, containing 4,000 piastres (about $34).
But that wasn't all. The search continued nearby under two fallen trees. Excitedly, the women chopped at the dry, solid earth. At first they thought their treasure was lost, but they kept on digging. An Army sergeant watching the digging offered his assistance and. about a foot underground, he found a small, rusty container.
Inside packed in cotton were two gold earrings, a gold ring and a necklace made of tiny gold links. The women explained, through Cervantes, they were so happy at locating their "bank" because it meant they could afford food for themselves and the daughter's 11-year-old son. The jewelry is worth about 5,000 piastres or $42.
Not yet finished with the hunt, the peanut farmer, who had been a neighbor of the two women, went to his former homesite and produced a tin can and a small pottery jar. They held about 60 silver coins, about the size of an American silver dollar. The Piastres de Commerce, dating from 1897 to 1913, had been minted by the French Indo-China Government. Containing 27grams of silver each, coin is worth about a dollar.
American help notwithstanding, the farmer insisted he was going to return to recover 12,500 piastres, gold and more silver coins, which he had buried in a now collapsed tunnel.
"CHARLIE" GETS 25,000TH...
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In the interim, the days and nights have been filled with the almost constant rumbling of the howitzers as they tossed nearly 600 rounds a day for VC in the area to play hot potato with. The potato seems to have been too hot on occasion, according to information the brigade has received.
While fortifying its base camp, the brigade met continual harassment from a Viet Cong battalion, estimated to number upwards of 400 men. A liberal dose of "Automatic Eighth" howitzer fire, however, soon saw the battalion - by then thought to contain about 150 men - scampering to the north to regroup.
Then, early in March, two Viet Cong surrendered at Trung Lap, complaining they had been harassed enough by 8th Arty. firing. Just the previous day, nine of their platoon had died from the bursting rounds.
Cpl. Witherington, who has had his share of VC mortar and small arms fired the 25,00 round, "Here's a kiss for ya, Charlie !"
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"You never know what's around the next corner," Murdock says somewhat obviously. "Sometimes you can go 50 yards along one of those tunnels and there'll be nothing but ants and bats."
A tunnel-clearing operation usually sees two men squeeze through the camouflaged trap door armed with .45 caliber pistols, smoke grenades and a knife. Specialist Murdock, who is a fire team leader when not sniffing through tunnels, is frequently the first into the furrows because of his knowledge of booby traps.
But the extent of the underground chambers is what intrigues Murdock. "I've crawled through tunnels as much as five hours and found no end," he claims. "They seem to go on forever. I hear the Wolfhounds found one - two miles long."
As Matt Dillon would say, "It's a chancy job and it makes a man watchful."
For instance, there was the time when "I got trapped in one for an hour and a half one day," Murdock related. "It was a real small area and I tried moving a shoulder at a time. When I slipped to my side, the tunnel caved in and they had to tie a rope around my feet and drag me out."
Even though the Viet Cong live in these tunnels, Murdock has yet to meet one face-to-face feet below the earth's surface, although he has had a few scares in the wake of VC fleeing from a tunnel.
He found the entrance booby trapped, little more than a minor irritant for Murdock. But while he was disarming the explosive, it blew up. The tunnel's former inhabitants had booby-trapped the booby trap. The explosion slapped him against the wall but he escaped with minor injuries.
And then there was the time when he dug through a hole only to find light beaming through.
"Now, this was kind of an eerie feeling, to be crawling and see a light below. We radioed back and then went in with smoke grenades, but all it turned out to be was the bottom of a crater from one of our big bombs," he sniffed.
Murdock says that even when there are ventilation holes, "you still come out soaking wet" from the extreme heat and humidity,
But lie likes his job "because it's something different." Too, he realizes there is a wide open market for civilian gophers.
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Included with the Viet Cong homemade weapons is a variety of guns and rifles, ranging from a homemade, single shotgun to modern, high-powered Russian Mossin Nagant carbines, the latter of which fires 7.62mm ammunition, the same as the American M-14 rifle.
Any such display at 2d Bde. would have to include diagrams of some of the nearly 500 tunnels which the "Tropic Lightning" soldiers have destroyed in their two months at Cu Chi. The "gallery" shows expertly camouflaged tunnel openings, barely large enough to admit a man and covered with sod.
Also on display are samples of VC medical supplies, primitive gas masks, sandals made in North Vietnam, a flashlight inscribed with the word "Peace" in English at the top, and "Made in China" on the bottom. And then there is communist propaganda, most of which is directed at United States soldiers.
One leaflet observes; "Your lives are precious. Your family, your wife and children need you. You must not let Washington decide by itself your own destiny in serving the selfish ambitions of the warmongers and their stooges!"
Another bit of propaganda addresses the Vietnamese in saying, "Youth, you must join the Liberation Front so your fathers will be pleased."
Somehow, though, the warmongers and their stooges shoved a clinker into the VC propaganda effort for, on the back of one sign is a message in English, "Brewed by our original process from the choicest hops, rice and best barley malt. Brewed and canned at St. Louis Mo, USA."
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.
This page last modified 08-12-2004
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