Vol 1 No. 12 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS May 20, 1966
|Unit Page||Unit Page||Unit Page||Unit Page|
|1/5 4||1/27 8||25th Avn Bn 2||3rd Bde 6|
|1/5 Photos 4||2nd Bde 1||25th Avn Bn Photo 2||3rd Bde 7|
|1/5 7||2nd Bde Photo 1||25th Avn Bn 2||3rd Bde 8|
|1/5 Photo 7||2/9 Arty 6||25th Avn Bn 4||3rd Bde Photo 8|
|1/27 1||2/27 1||25th DivArty 3||3/4 Cav 3|
|1/27 Photo 1||2/32 Arty 3||25th Med Bn 6||65th Engr 3|
|1/27 3||2/35 1||25th Med Bn Photo 6||69th Armor 4|
|1/27 3||2/35 Photo 1||25th HHC Photo 7||69th Armor Photos 4|
|1/27 Photo 4||2/35 8||3rd Bde 6||Memorial Day 2|
[The 1966 Vietnam issues of Tropic Lightning News were published in Saigon, and are of lower quality than later years that were printed in Japan. Over the years the photographs and text have faded and it has been difficult to reproduce them. Even when the photos are unclear, I have been included them to give a sense of the activities in the Division.]
2nd Brigade Gets New CO
Lieutenant Colonel Thomas M. Tarpley took command of the 2nd Brigade of the 25th Infantry Division Monday in brief ceremonies at Cu Chi.
Col. Tarpley, the former commanding officer of the Rear Detachment (Provisional), 25th Infantry Division, replaces Colonel Lynnwood M. Johnson who assumed command of the 2nd Bde. almost two years ago, in July 1964. Col. Johnson has returned to Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.
Col. Tarpley accepted the brigade flag under cloudy skies from Lt. Col. Milton H. Hamilton, 2nd Bde. executive officer. After inspecting the honor guard, Col. Tarpley said he was "delighted to be here and have the opportunity to serve you in the coming months."
After the ceremonies, Col. Tarpley was congratulated by Major General Fred C. Weyand, division commanding general.
"Col. Tarpley has served with the division since August, 1963, when he became commander of the 1st Battalion (Mech.), 5th Infantry. In August 1965, he became assistant chief of staff, G-1, and, in March 1966, became commanding officer of the division's rear detachment.
The colonel was graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1944. He has degrees in Russian history from the University of Maryland and in International affairs, from George Washington University.
Col. Tarpley is also a graduate of the Command and General Staff College, Ft Leavenworth, Kans., the Army War College, at Carlisle Barracks, Pa., and The Infantry School. Ft. Benning, Ga. He has been awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Combat Infantryman's Badge, American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, National Defense Service Medal, and the American Occupation Medal.
The colonel served as a platoon leader with the 263rd Infantry in Europe doing World War II. He was graduated from the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth in 1954.
|CHANGE - Lt. Col. Thomas M. Tarpley (right) receives the brigade colors from Lt. Col. Milton H. Hamilton in change of command ceremonies at 2nd Brigade headquarters.|
Wolfhounds Mark Birthday
Organization days in Vietnam usually pass without fanfare. So it would have been for 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry, and its sister unit, the 2nd Battalion, had it not been for Lieutenant Colonel Harley F. Mooney Jr., commander of 1/27th.
Since his "Wolfhounds" were busy on an operational mission, Col. Mooney directed a cake be baked to mark the unit's 64th anniversary. Presented to Major Nguyen Van Nha, Hau Nghia Province chief, the cake bore the legend, "Happy Anniversary," in both English and Vietnamese.
The May 14th ceremony made official note of the Wolfhounds' birthday, which fell on May 2.
Constituted in 1813, the 27th reckons its history from 1901, when it was activated at Plattsburgh Barracks, N.Y.
Only 14 months later, the regiment was in action quelling the Philippine Insurrection. Remaining for heavy action throughout the Philippines until 1904, the 27th returned to the United States to be headquartered at Ft. Sheridan, Ill.
Called back into action in 1906, the unit was dispatched to Cuba at the request of the Government there to help put down a Cuban insurrection. The civil war was brought under control by Cuban forces and the 27th returned to the States in 1908.
Rushed to Texas City, Tex., in 1912, the 27th spent several years patrolling the Mexican-American border to guard against continued skirmishes which had been taking place there.
Returned to the Philippines in 1915, the regiment stayed on duty there until the Bolshevik revolution in Russia in 1918 saw the troops of several countries sent to maintain order.
It was while on duty in Siberia that the 27th was given the nickname "Wolfhounds," a grudging compliment paid by the Russians for the regiment's reputation for fierce fighting. The nickname came from the borzoi, or Russian wolfhound, a dog reputed to be gentle with its friends and fierce with its enemies. The name stuck and, in October 1952, the 27th became the first Army regiment to have its nickname made an official part of its designation.
The 27th Infantry Regiment was incorporated into the 25th Infantry Division when the division was organized in 1941 and became the first American unit to engage the attacking Japanese on December 7.
Fighting with the division through island-hopping operations in the Pacific, the Wolfhounds earned the Philippine Presidential Unit Citation for action in 1944 and 1945.
The war over, the division began more than four years of occupation duty in Japan. It was while the Wolfhounds were headquartered outside of Osaka that they began supporting the Holy Family Home, a Catholic orphanage. Contributions since then have amounted to almost half a million dollars.
Sweeping into Korea with the "Tropic Lightning" Division in 1950, the 27th Infantry acquired a second nickname for a series of campaigns throughout the peninsula: "General Walton Walker's Fire Brigade."
Fighting through ten campaigns in Korea, the regiment was credited with killing more than 3,000 of the enemy in one year of fighting there. The Wolfhounds hold four American distinguished unit citations and the Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation for combat from 1950 to 1954.
The regiment returned to Hawaii with the rest of the division in 1954 and became 1st and 2nd Battalions, 27th Infantry, when the ROAD (Reorganization, Army Divisions) concept was instituted in 1963.
The Wolfhounds, as part of the division's 2nd Brigade, landed in Vietnam in January 1966.
Lt. Col. Feir Becomes 2/35th Commander
Lieutenant Colonel Philip R. Feir assumed command of the 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry, in change-of-command ceremonies at Pleiku.
Men of the "Cacti Blue," one of the three maneuver battalions of the 3rd Brigade Task Force, stood in formation as the outgoing commander, Lieutenant Colonel George A. Scott, of Mobile, Ala., gave his farewell talk.
Col. Scott has commanded 2/35th since August 1964. In his parting comments, he recalled many events the battalion had taken part in over the last 23 months, including jungle training at Schofield Barracks, preparation for deployment. movement to Vietnam and four months of fighting Viet Cong.
The incoming commander, formerly 3rd Bde. executive officer, accepted the colors and his new command from Col. Scott and spoke to his men for the first time. He remarked on the outstanding record of the 2/35th and emphasized his pride in becoming a part of the battalion.
Guests at the ceremony included Major General Fred C. Weyand, division commander, and Brigadier General Glenn D. Walker, brigade task force commander.
Col. Scott is being assigned to I Field Forces, Vietnam, headquarters at Nha Trang, in the G-3 section.
|NEW CO - Lt. Col. Philip R. Feir assumes command of 2nd Bn., 35th Infantry, from Lt. Col. George A. Scott in ceremonies conducted at 3rd Brigade. Battalion Sergeant Major William R. Franklin looks on. (Photo by Sutphin)|
Excess Leave Studied By House Committee
The House Armed Committee is currently studying a proposal to authorize servicemen in a combat zone to accumulate more than sixty days leave by the end of the fiscal year.
Introduced in January and referred to committee, the measure would permit individuals serving in a combat zone to carry excess leave from one fiscal year to another.
The term combat zone is flexible in this case, however, and must be defined by the President. One official observed that "Vietnam definitely is included" in the consideration.
According to the measure, the excess leave must be used within the following fiscal year after it has been accrued.
Under current procedures, all leave over 60 days is lost at the end of the fiscal year, regardless of an individual's place of assignment.
To date, the full membership of the House has not yet acted on the proposal.
|FETED - Birthday cake and congratulations were passed as Lt. Col. Harley F. Mooney Jr. (r.), 1/27th commander, and 1st Sergeant Robert W. Hawkins, battalion sergeant major, presented a cake to Major Nguyen Van Nha, Hau Nghia Province chief. Lieutenant Colonel Clay T. Buckingham, senior adviser for Section Headquarters, Hau Ngtiia Province, (2nd from right) also was on hand to mark the Wolfhound's 64th anniversary. (Photo by Hanson)|
Page 2 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS May 20, 1966
Lest We Forget - Memorial Day
Memorial Day is essentially a somber day. It is a day devoted to honoring those who died in their nation's defense. Its outward aspects are speeches, parades, and other public events. And across the nation, Americans tidy up grave sites and decorate them with flowers and little flags. Such gestures pay honor outwardly to those men, while at the same time other Americans the world over pause to pay silent tribute to them.
For members of the armed forces, Memorial Day is also a day of rededication. So whether fighting the Viet Cong in a Vietnamese swamp, maintaining the freedom of West Berlin, or signing up recruits in a mid-western town, servicemen can honor other and earlier fighting men by rededicating themselves to their purpose and their duties. By carrying out those duties to the best of their ability, they will be keeping faith with past, present, and future generations of Americans. This not only will honor the dead but will also help assure the eventual victory of democracy over communism.
Memorial Day, also known as Decoration Day, was first observed officially on May 30, 1868, by the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans of the Civil War.
Although originally dedicated to the memory of the Union dead, Memorial Day has become a day in which the nation pays homage to its dead of all wars. It is a Federal legal holiday and a legal holiday in most of the States.
To members of the Armed Forces, Memorial Day has a special meaning. It focuses attention on our magnificent military tradition and inspires pride in it. It reminds us of those who died at Valley Forge, Gettysburg, San Juan Hill, Belleau Wood, Bastonge, Tarawa, Pork Chop Hill, and Ia Drang Valley. These men died for an important cause, and it is the same cause to which today's servicemen are committed: freedom.
The cold war going on today is unlike any other war we know. It is a total conflict. It must be fought with mental and moral as well as physical weapons. The adversary may or may not be in uniform. He may use conventional or unconventional weapons and tactics.
While the tactics and guises of communism take many forms and are often obscure, one fact remains constant and clear - the ultimate goal of communism is world domination, and as such is a direct threat to the freedom which we cherish.
So bear in mind during the observance of this Memorial Day that the day is also symbolic of the greater trial - the survival of freedom itself - facing you and every other free man and woman in the world today. This trial demands steadfast courage, firm conviction, deep faith in the cause of freedom. It requires the patience and willingness to outstay and to overcome the forces of communism that are attempting to destroy democracy and to banish liberty from the face of the earth - replacing them with total tyranny and oppression.
Know Your Enemy
Liberation Front Gives Viet Cong "Legitimacy"
Literally translated, the phrase Viet Cong (VC) means Vietnamese Communist, and those who are Viet Cong employ the whole Communist arsenal of deceit and violence.
A Viet Cong is a man, woman or child - a tough fighter, with words or weapons, for what he is taught to call the "liberation" of South Vietnam - the Republic of Vietnam. Viet Cong also applies to the military and civilian components of the "Front" (National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam, or (NFLSVN). To its deluded followers the Front is the government they serve - but to the vast majority of South Vietnamese it is an instrument of terror and oppression manipulated by the Communists of North Vietnam.
The Viet Cong, the Communist "Liberation Army" within the Republic of Vietnam has expanded its numbers enormously, despite increasingly heavy casualties. Its so-called main force has grown from about 10,000 men in 1960 to over 75,000.
Several regiments of the North Vietnamese Army have been sent by Hanoi into South Vietnam as part of the Communist buildup of forces in the south. As befits "regulars," many are armed with late-model, imported weapons and wear uniforms, helmets of wicker or steel, and even scarves for unit identification. From isolated companies their formations have grown to battalions and regiments.
The strength of the Viet Cong guerrillas has not increased as rapidly. The estimated more than 100,000 guerrillas and militia, mostly based in the vicinity of their home villages and hamlets, are essential to the success of the main force and to the whole Viet Cong effort. Better armed and trained than before, the irregulars still wear the "calico noir," the traditional black pajamas of the Vietnamese peasant (worn also by the regulars as fatigue uniforms). They guide, support, reinforce and provide recruits for the "liberation" movement. They also make possible the rule of the Communist Party in the countryside, enforcing the dictates of the local puppet Front organizations.
There are substantial areas in which the Front is the only effective government. It operates schools and hospitals, clothing factories and arsenals. Millions of Vietnamese support the Front out of friendship or fear, most often the latter.
Due largely to the militia and the secret agents of the Party, an estimated one-fourth of the people of South Vietnam pay taxes to the Front, even though they may also pay taxes to the legitimate government. This is an impressive record for a shadow government.
Editorial: Vietnam Games Are Deadly for
Three men from one unit in the Tropic Lightning Division recently stole a vehicle, drove it through the barriers of the perimeter and went into the village of Cu Chi after dark. On their way back to the base camp, about 600 meters from the main gate, the vehicle was ambushed by Viet Cong with small arms fire and grenades. One soldier was killed and two rifles and one pistol were abandoned and captured. The vehicle was damaged by rifle fire.
The incident is not representative of soldiers in the Tropic Lightning Division but it brings to the foreground the need to emphasize certain orders and instructions and the consequences of violating them.
In the first place, soldiers have been instructed not to leave the base camp at night unless participating in military operations. Of the three who violated these instructions, one paid with his life and the other two are subject to courts-martial for violating an order and AWOL. They are also subject to courts-martial for misappropriation of a vehicle.
Secondly, soldiers on duty in bunker positions on the base perimeter have been instructed not to permit individuals or groups of men to leave the base camp at night, unless participating with a unit on a military operation.
The three soldiers who left the base camp that night drove past two manned bunkers and a tank overlooking the camp's main entry. By failing to challenge or stop the vehicle as it left the perimeter, the rnen on duty in the bunkers and the tank contributed to the chain of events that led to the loss of life and equipment.
Had any one of the soldiers involved in this one incident followed the proper orders and instructions, the man killed in the Viet Cong ambush would be alive today.
|Reminder: To take advantage of free mailing privileges, the word "free" must be written in your own hand writing.|
CHOPPER PILOT MISSES BY SEAT OF PANTS
The co-pilot of a HU1D (Huey), a captain, sat tightly in his seat as the speeding chopper approached for a landing at Trang Bang, a quiet village eight miles west of Cu Chi.
The huey, one of the many just arriving from the United States for 25th Aviation Battalion use, featured a new, 168-pound, armor-plated, steel seat.
That seat literally saved the co-pilot's seat.
Automatic weapons fire from a Viet Cong sniper sent one bullet through the floor of the low-flying chopper. It bounced off the bottom of the captain's seat and ricocheted off to the rear. There were no casualties.
The armor-plated seat had received its first test under fire and the captain took it sitting down.
|NFW RANK - Lt. Charles L. Kendall is shown with Maj. Ernest C. Elliott, commanding officer, Company A, 25th Aviation Battalion, at ceremonies promoting him to his present rank. (Photo by Pardue).|
Aviation Marks End of Era With Promotion of
The division's 25th Aviation Battalion has lost its last second lieutenant. First Lieutenant Charles L. Kendall was recently promoted to his present rank in ceremonies at Cu Chi. The silver bar was pinned on by Major Ernest C. Elliott, Company A commander.
Promotions in the aviation battalion from second to first lieutenant are uncommon because of the amount of time it takes to finish required schooling. Most aviators enter the battalion as first lieutenants.
Lt. Kendall arrived in Vietnam with 175th Aviation Company on April 10. Prior to joining the Army, he was graduated from the University of Alabama in 1964, with a degree in civil engineering.
|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. 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
Maj. Gen. Fred C. Weyand . . . . Commanding General
Maj. William C. Shepard . . . . . . Information Officer
2nd Lt. Patrick J. McKeand . . . Officer-in-Charge
Sp5 Dale P. Kemery . . . . . . . . . Editor
Page 3 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS May 20, 1966
China, Optics Draw High Duty Fees
(Editor's Note: This Is the second of two articles concerning U.S. Customs laws.)
In shipping goods back to the United States, it should be remembered that duty is charged on a percentage basis of the purchase price. The exact figures vary from item to item, depending upon the type of merchandise being imported and its value. Even various makes and/or models of the same kind of product vary in duty charges.
Chinaware is possibly one of the most singularly expensive items to import in terms of duty. Individuals special-ordering china from exchanges in Vietnam or elsewhere should show a copy of their orders to permit exchange officials to ship the glassware to the United States under reduced tariff rates. In some eases, china may be admitted duty free - if a act of orders accompanies the merchandise. Otherwise, duty on china runs between 45 and 60 per cent of the purchase price.
Tape recorders and high fidelity accessories generally are assessed 15 per cent of the purchase price, while radios bear a duty of 12 1/2 per cent. Unstrung pearls may cost only five per cent duty while permanently strung pearls can cost between 30 and 55 per cent of the original cost to import. Binoculars will cost a flat 30 per cent to import, telescopes 22 1/2 per cent, while other optical goods, excluding cameras, will be assessed an import duty of between 30 and 50 per cent. Motion picture projectors bear a duty of 35 per cent. You will pay 12 1/2 to 19 per cent for brassware, but the cost may increase to 25 per cent for bambooware. Wearing apparel varies in duty costs, depending upon the type of material used.
It is unwise to attempt to fool Customs officials for they are well aware of human nature and can easily spot many individuals attempting to smuggle goods into the United States. Penalties are stiff and are seldom worth the small savings which could be realized from failing to declare merchandise.
Cameras average between 15 and 25 per cent duty, though usually the lower figure is assessed for returning service personnel. Beware of the brand of camera you plan to ship for Pentax and Nikon are not the only two which are illegal to import by mail. If you are planning such shipment, it would be well to contact Customs officials to learn which cameras, are protected by tariff barriers.
|Vietnamese women from the village of Tan An Hoi were invited to the division's base camp to dig up valuables they had buried is the area.|
At Cu Chi
Villagers Get Valuables From Hidden Caches
Dust swirled around the wheels of the large military trucks as they hurried from the village of Tan An Hoi to Cu Chi. Trucks that usually carry division troops to search-and-destroy operations this time carried 49 excited Vietnamese women on a different kind of operation.
The operation was named "Project Reclamation" and was conducted to allow women in the Cu Chi area to dig up valuables they had buried in the base camp area.
After a three-mile ride they pulled to a stop. The women hopped off and grabbed their homemade digging tools. Old neighbors began to group and assist one another on the search.
Many started digging within a few feet of the truck while others roamed through the rows of tents, looking for a familiar landmark.
In their musical chatter they decided the exact spots to dig. They remained for three hours digging and pulling their buried wealth from the earth. When their search was over, they had gathered more than ten tons of rice, about fifty dollars in Vietnamese currency and an unestimated amount of gold and jewelry.
Project Reclamation was a civic action program conducted by Division Artillery at the request of the villagers who formerly lived in this area.
|Unsafe Acts Make Accident Facts. Drive as if your life depended on it - it does.|
1/27th Road Service Open 24 Hours Daily
If you were driving through Los Angeles, Chicago or Philadelphia and your car suddenly developed engine trouble, a mechanic probably would be just a phone call away.
But when you're driving an armored personnel carrier through the village of Duc Lap, and something suddenly goes wrong, road service is hardly around the next corner.
The 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry, on the recent operation Maili have found what they consider the best solution to the problem.
Master Sergeant Bethel W. Kelly, of Los Angeles, heads one of several maintenance teams which, as Kelly puts it, "can fix just about anything in the field."
"We try to keep a supply of parts we need most right within the maintenance team, and we can always have special parts flown in by helicopter," he adds.
There are five other mechanics on Kelly's maintenance team, and all go prepared to repair wheeled vehicles. There is also a four-man team from the 725th Maintenance Battalion ready to handle tracked vehicles.
Sgt. Kelly says, "We have from two to five vehicles coming in every day - with everything from flat tires to burned out spark plugs. So far, we've only had one we couldn't fix."
The maintenance shop never sleeps in the field. It's open 24 hours a day to handle any vehicle which needs repair. "Our job is to keep them rolling," Kelly explains simply.
Snake Jolts Relaxing 1/27th Captain
It was a hot day, and Captain Ardeen Foss, of Sioux Falls, S.D., settled under a scraggly clump of bamboo to wait for the armored personnel carriers to come along.
He had been leading the men of Company C, 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry, through the rice paddies of Hau Nghia Province all morning and was ready to return to the base camp of operation Maili.
The clump of bamboo trees offered the only shade available, and shade was important because in Vietnam it can mean a 20-degree difference in temperature.
Capt. Foss had just gotten comfortable, with his back against the tree, when suddenly something wriggled free from the leaves above him.
He looked shocked, and for good reason. The 'something' was a five-foot-long bamboo viper, a deadly snake, and it had fallen right onto his chest.
As the captain describes it, "I did a back flip and jumped away. The snake took off in the other direction. I grabbed my M-16 and chased him. Now I've got a snake skin."
With the snake, added to a collection of dogs, chickens, iguanas and monkeys, division troops should be ready to open up their own zoo soon.
65th ENGRS. PAUSE IN REPAIR WORK
Company D, 65th Engineer Battalion, set out on operation Longfellow to repair bridges between Pleiku and the village of Dak To. They made it all right - but it took awhile.
As they advanced along Highway 14 to prepare roads for convoys of the 3rd Brigade, the men were approached by a French missionary asking for assistance in building houses in a nearby Montagnard village.
The engineers quickly went to work using power saws and cut more than 200 trees for logs, which were used as stilts and framework. They stayed to help the villagers erect their homes.
On another occasion, they found themselves under sniper fire and were pinned down for nearly two and one-half hours before forcing the enemy to break contact.
Despite the "spur-of-the-moment" activities, the engineers managed to repair a total of more than 60 bridges, large and small, on the stretch of road between the two Vietnamese towns.
Air Medal Goes To 3/4 Cavman For V-N Service
Specialist Four Bobby Taylor, a tank driver for Troop B, 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry, was awarded the Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters for participating in sustained aerial flight while a member of the division's "Shotgun" program last year.
Taylor actively participated in more than 100 aerial missions over hostile territory in support of combat ground forces of the Republic of Vietnam. During all of these missions he displayed the highest order of air discipline in spite of the hazards inherent in repeated aerial flights.
Lieutenant Colonel John R. Hendry, 3/4 Cav. commander, made the presentation during ceremonies at Cu Chi.
2/32nd Artillery Occupies Posh Cu Chi Club
When the United States establishes an Army base on the moon, one of the first buildings to go up undoubtedly will be an enlisted men's club.
The 2nd Battalion, 32nd Artillery, thinking six months in advance, won the race for leisure space recently at Cu Chi.
The unit, using "sundry funds," began saving for the club more than six months ago.
The survey section, taking no more than one month and one day from start to finish, built the club under the supervision of Sergeant First Class Richard E. Slead, Moline, Ill.
Because of an asbestos-pad ceiling and bamboo walls, the club keeps out much of the midday heat. "It's the coolest place in the battalion," one battery commander said.
And it's also the most elegant. The club, which seats 72 at capacity, has Oriental lamps hanging from the ceiling, new chairs and tables with beautiful formica tops.
One long bar, manned by Specialist Five Gary Dinsmore, of Minneapolis, Minn., and Specialist Five Ralph Pulliam, of Archie, Mo., serves up the soft drinks and the beer.
A new stereo recorder plays soft music in the background.
Specialist Four Joseph Fallon, a technician who has since returned to the United States, was credited for installing the floor and frame, and Staff Sergeant Norman E. Bates, of Martinsburg, Iowa,, put in he wiring.
"About the only thing it doesn't have," one enlisted man said, "are waitresses."
Page 4 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS May 20, 1966
Changing Face Of Warfare
Long thought to be terrain good only for the infantryman, Vietnam is
giving itself up to the onslaughts of armored personnel carriers, armor and
APCs from 1st Battalion (Mechanized), 5th Infantry, have proved valuable in moving advancing infantry through areas in which the Viet Cong have laid broad anti-personnel mine fields.
The heavy tanks of 69th Armor, the Army's first in Vietnam, loom formidably on the horizon in division operations, furnishing a quick ride for infantrymen, harmlessly detonating anti-personnel mines and performing the classic armor role of general infantry support with the firepower of 90mm cannons.
Unique to Vietnam and its specialized warfare has been the extensive use of helicopters. The choppers are used to move troops into place behind enemy positions and supply quick reaction forces to areas under attack. The workhorse of 25th Aviation Battalion's arsenal is the UH1D ("Huey"), which flies aerial fire support, resupply missions, medical evacuations and virtually any other job where speed and maneuverability are essential.
It is a different war, requiring new tactics and new weapons. But it is not so different that the methods and weaponry of past wars cannot punish the Viet Cong effectively.
125th Sig. Bn. Photos
|1/5th APC rattles on a road-clearing mission north of Cu Chi as curious villagers turn out to watch "Tropic Lightning" soldiers in action.|
|The foot soldier receives strong support from the might of 69th Armor as "Black Panther" tanks kick up dust in moving toward beleaguered infantry positions.|
|Infantrymen from 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry, slide from a 69th Armor tank during operation Makaha. Armored column had moved into position to strike enemy positions in support of the infantry.|
|Roaming the fields northwest of Cu Chi, 1/5th armored personnel carriers hunt for an elusive enemy.|
|Offering good protection for infantrymen against heavy Viet Cong infiltration in Ho Bo Woods, this 1/5th APC prepares to strike enemy positions in a tree line.|
|"Flying horses" are loaded to helilift infantrymen into position during operation Kahala.|
|Enemy positions routed, the UH1D helicopters touch down at the division helipad after operational mission in Trung Lap.|
Page 6 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS May 20, 1966
3rd Bde. Routs VC Agents
A reign of terror ended last week for more than 120 Montagnard villagers in Kontum Province.
Several months ago, three Viet Cong, armed with submachine guns, entered the village of Dak Lak, 30 miles northwest of Kontum. In short order, the three machine guns became the law of Dak Lak.
From that time the VC - Mok, Mar, and Luk - virtually held the villagers prisoner. All farming and work was done "under the gun." All production beyond the minimum needs of the villagers went to caches for later use by VC forces operating in the area.
The villagers were powerless to stand up against their captors. Dak Lak is located in the midst of the most rugged terrain in Vietnam's Central Highlands. Government forces rarely enter the area. American forces had never been in the area - until last week.
About 3 a.m. the three VC were jolted out of their drowsy watchfulness by a booming voice which seemed to come from all around them.
"VC, throw down your arms . . . villagers move east to Highway 14 and south to Dak To refugee center," came the voice from the sky. A Vietnamese language tape was being played over the powerful loudspeakers mounted in an American C-47 aircraft. Mok, Mar and Luk were visibly shaken, according to later reports of the villagers.
The captors were further shaken on the next night when artillery rounds began falling around the village at varying intervals.
Elements of the division's 3rd Brigade had moved into the town of Tan Carib, a few miles to the south. The Americans scheduled artillery fires throughout the night into likely targets in the Viet Cong-infested mountains.
When the villagers awoke the following morning, Mok, Mar and Luk were nowhere to be seen. A quick check found them to be gone, along with their three submachine guns.
Wasting no time, the residents of Dak Lak packed all they could carry and set out for the highway, 15 miles to the east. They did not know what they would find there. They only hoped that it would be better than what they were leaving.
The Montagnards moved to the road, then south to the Dak To resettlement center. There, protected by Vietnamese Army units, a 50-man government reception team met them and began the task of resettling them.
The villagers were provided temporary quarters, enough rice to eat until they were able to establish their crops, and medical assistance. The government then assisted them with the advice and materials for construction of a new home near Dak To. There they will be able to live in relative freedom from Viet Cong terrorist actions.
The 120 Montagnards from Dak Lak were part of more than 1,500 refugees brought into the resettlement center during operation Longfellow. Third Bde. and 24th Special Tactical Zone(ARVN) troops worked hand-in-hand to help the homeless Montagnards to get to Dak To. American and Vietnamese government personnel will now work together to see that these people are no longer harassed by the likes of Mok Mar and Luk.
Montagnard Children Get $140 Surprise
Thanks to a generous citizen of the "Aloha State," 60 primary school children from the Montagnard of Tri Le found their life $140 richer last week.
The extra cash came to the school in an issue of Life magazine. The magazine had been collected in the division's "Helping Hand" drive in Hawaii during late February.
Thousands of articles of clothing and tons of soaps, school supplies, and other items with civic action potential were donated by individuals and organizations throughout the state to aid the division's civic action program in Vietnam.
Many individuals, hearing that the Vietnamese like to look through picture filler magazines, donated thousands of back copies. One individual donated a copy of Life with a hundred dollar bill and forty dollars in smaller bills tucked inside. The donor remained anonymous.
Staff Sergeant Hubert Keener, of Collinsville, Ala., presented a bundle of magazines, which included the special issue of Life and some school supplies to the Tri Le school on behalf of the 2nd Battalion, 9th Artillery.
One child came across some strange looking slips of green paper as he glanced through one of the magazines. He showed his teacher, who recognized the small fortune the little boy held in his hands.
The teacher turned the money over to Tri Le's village chief, who in turn had it converted into piastres at the province capital in Kontum.
At their graduation exercises recently, the Tri Le school children were given equal shares of the gift. For most it was more than they had ever seen at one time, much less held as their own.
Fakers Join Ill at MEDCAP Visit
Almost like the neighborhood Good Humor man, the officer from the Vietnam Information Service drove the tiny, three-wheeled Lambretta through the narrow streets of Trang Bang, a quiet village about eight miles west of Cu Chi.
Even before the information service was beginning to perform its duties, two medical corps officers from the 25th Infantry Division, Major Walter Wiitala and Captain Paul Gagnon, both from 25th Medical Battalion, were already doing theirs.
The MEDCAP team had treated the people of Trang Bang the previous day, and when the children saw the Americans moving in again, the word spread quickly.
Organization at a MEDCAP can pose a problem, but the patients here were lined up at the front door and given a number. Some still tried to infiltrate through the rear door and promptly were led by the hand back to the front.
The bonafide patients received the traditional doctor's concern.
"I'll tell you what's wrong with this man now," Major Wiitala, of San Francisco, Calif., stated, ignoring the interpreter. "His chest hurts, he coughs, his knee hurts . . . He's got T.B. and it is quite advanced.
The interpreter confirmed the doctor's diagnosis. The doctor did his best, prescribing a shot of penicillin and other medication to prevent additional complications. "Give him some aspirin to get rid of the joint pain."
And so they filed in and out - skin rashes, cataract of the eye, fever, stopped up nose, bronchitis, etc. There were even a few out-and-out fakers.
Major Wiitala ran into a little trouble with one tuberculin patient. He prescribed penicillin and vitamins, but the patient, a man, refused to take the shot or medication claiming he had taken Chinese medicine earlier in the day and that the two medicines can't be mixed.
"I'll tell you what," Major Wiitala said, "You take this home with you and start taking It tomorrow."
A young boy walked up to the major and motioned toward his mouth. For a moment the doctor didn't catch on.
"What's wrong with you?" he said. "A toothache! Let me see."
A specialist pulled out a bottle of cloves, and the doctor fixed the tooth, temporarily, that is.
"Next time we get a MEDCAP out here, I'd like to get a dentist to come along," he said. "That tooth has to come out. I want her (the mother) to do exactly what I did with this stick and cotton. Just stick it into his tooth and that will stop it from hurting."
The doctor also handed the boy a tube of toothpaste, so he will have, in the future, 23 per cent fewer cavities, and America may have 23 per cent more friends.
|PRESENTATION - Sergeant First Class Raymond Carswell (l.), non-commissioned officer in charge of the division Helping Hand Operations Center, presents gifts from the people of Hawaii to Captain George Tamonaga, 25th Medical Battalion. The gifts are being given to patients in the hospital at the base camp.|
Villages Receive First American Medical Help
Four Montagnard villages never before visited by an American military medical team recently received treatment from the medics of 3rd Brigade.
The village of Dak Rao Kuen, Kon Kotu Peng, Kon Kotu Lop, and Dak Kang Lop, located in the central highlands of Vietnam, eagerly received the team, which was led by Captain William R. Gardner, of Jacksonville, Fla.
The villagers had been informed by the local Vietnamese district chief that the American team was coming. In anticipation of the American's arrival, the villagers cleared helipads from the forest and prepared entertainment for their visitors.
Two helicopters shuttled the team of eight medics and civil affairs personnel into the villages. Each visit lasted between an hour and an hour and a half.
While Capt. Gardner and his team of medics, 1st Lieutenant Larry R. Suit, from Monett, Miss., and Specialist Six Hurlie Cook, from Chula Vista, Calif., cared for the sick, Captains Richard B. Daluga and Stanley J. Zagalak, the sub-sector advisors, passed out candy and taught the young villagers to count in English.
First Lieutenant Francis W. Grothe, of York. Pa., the civil affairs assistant team chief, 2nd Lieutenant Tein, Vietnamese deputy district chief, and Master Sergeant Bui, medic/interpreter, assisted in the treatment.
In gratitude for the Americans' aid, the team was presented bracelets from the villagers. In Dak Kang Lop the villagers prepared roast chicken and rice for their visitors.
Page 7 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS May 20, 1966
Liaison Officers Act As Vital Handymen
Liaison officers are not authorized to make mistakes, and 1st Lieutenant Willie Williams, the coordinator between 1st Battalion (Mechanized), 5th Infantry and the division's 2nd Brigade, hasn't exceeded his authorization.
In the fight against the Viet Cong, Lt. Williams is one of many officers performing a vital, if somewhat unpublicized function.
It is the responsibility of battalion liaison officers to know where the battalion is located while in action, to know what they are doing and to keep higher command informed of all their activities. Additionally, he carries all plans and orders too complicated or sensitive to transmit by ordinary communications.
Since one slight mistake in location could rain artillery in on friendly forces, the duties of the liaison officer are of special importance. When friendly forces fall under enemy fire, the liaison officer is present to pinpoint the exact location of friendly forces in case of questions.
Lt. Williams, one of two 5th Mech. liaison officers, has been on the job for his battalion since the 2nd Bde. moved to Cu Chi in January, and he realizes its importance.
"You aren't allowed to make one mistake in combat," he said, "especially when you're liaison officer. If I were to make a mistake, such as reporting an incorrect position for American forces, it could cause many friendly casualties.
On a few occasions, Lt. Williams, using his personal judgment, may have saved a number of lives.
Normally, the responsibility of calling in artillery fire or air strikes to aid American troops belongs to the battalion commander, who circles the action in a command and control helicopter (C and C).
On rare cases. however, the C and C ship is not in a position where air strikes or artillery can be requested.
During operation Circle Pines near Ho Bo Woods, a long-time Viet Cong stronghold, a company of 1/5th came under fire while the C and C ship was out of the area. Lt. Williams stepped in and went to the forward air control center, reported enemy positions and had air strikes called in.
On another occasion, the battalion ran into Viet Cong fire late in the day. Since it was becoming dark, the lieutenant saw the need for battlefield illumination and notified the Air Force liaison officer. A quickly dispatched flare ship provided enough light for the units to maneuver against the enemy.
The 5th Mech. recognizes the value of the liaison officers and even named one operation after Lt. Williams' home town, Del Ray Beach, Fla.
|BOOTY- Men of Company, B. 1st Battalion (Mech.), 5th Infantry, load rice on a recent mission onto a truck, which will carry it to villages around Cu Chi. Specialist Four Richard Durivage (left foreground), of Waterford, N.Y., and Specialist Four Anthony Paudicz, Marysville, Ohio, lift a 50-kilo (about 100 lbs.) bag of rice onto a truck where PFC Kenneth Stewart (left lop), Kansas City, Mo., and PFC Larry Hensley, Sciota, Ill., secure the rice for shipment to needy villages. (Photo by Carollo)|
Large Payday Means Big Job
Payday! The magic day which gets almost holiday-like attention from soldiers everywhere - and members of 3rd Brigade are no exception.
Paymaster for the "Bronco Brigade" is 1st Lieutenant Joe Morgan, of Laurel, Miss. Assisted by twelve enlisted men, Lt. Morgan's job is to see that every man in the brigade is paid each month.
No small job this, brigade payroll approaches about $720,000 a month. However, the figure swells another $150,000 to $870,000 after travel vouchers and temporary duty per diem are paid.
Since 3rd Bde's arrival in the Pleiku area, the finance office has had the problem of paying the soldier in the field. Lt. Morgan and several of his men solved that by taking the payroll to the troops. At the forward area, they set up a disbursing point, where the unit pay officers are able to pick up the money for their men.
Not only does the finance office pay the troops, they convert about $15,000 a month in Military Payment Certificates to American currency for individuals going on rest and recuperation trips and returning to Continental United States. They also convert from $20,000 to $30,000 in MPC to Vietnamese piastres.
Complacency Helps Viet Cong
By Capt. John D. Dewar
Complacency: the single, greatest danger to survival in the face of an ever-watchful enemy. It is as great an adversary as sniper bullets and hand grenades. It could mean your death.
The National Liberation Front maintains an effective and elusive intelligence, espionage and sabotage structure, and it is easy to overlook the fact that such an organization operates in the Cu Chi area. It is quiet, stealthy - and deadly.
Always on the lookout for a means to a major combat victory, the Viet Cong also bend their efforts in the direction of smaller assaults upon the division's base of operations in order to confuse and demoralize.
These small scale assaults are called victories of opportunity. The VC can inflict damage only when they have the opportunity, so they might also be called defeats of complacency.
It must be remembered that although the division's presence has had a beneficial impact in the area, Cu Chi and the surrounding towns of Tan An Hoi, Vinh Cu, Phuoc Vinh Ninh, Tan Phu Trung, Trang Lam and Bao Cap long have been a VC stronghold. Much of the population is illiterate and VC propaganda was their only source of education.
Consequently, many of the area's inhabitants remain capable of hostile partisan activities. The security section has found such activities to be limited only by the ingenuity and imagination of enemy agents.
VC subversive agents, acting as the businessmen, vendors, taxi drivers, restaurateurs and prostitutes that anyone is likely to encounter whenever leaving base camp, are constantly trying to learn the strength, location, disposition, movement and combat efficiency of the division. In collecting all details - meal times, guard tours, names of dissatisfied individuals, data on personnel susceptible to blackmail, names of relatives who send mail - the VC can make plans for terrorism, sabotage, psychological warfare, or surprise attack which will have the highest propaganda value.
Several reports have indicated that VC are dressing in fatigue uniforms with Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) identification. The last incident reported occurred three miles from Cu Chi when a squad-sized element, appropriately disguised, entered an ARVN outpost and killed several soldiers before being driven out.
Non-military personnel who have access to the division area as laborers and hired help are, in most cases, people who have lived in the area, or even the base camp location itself, for most of their lives. They are fully capable of noting control points, communications facilities, water points, motor pools, helipads, etc.
One man left his weapon to go into a rural house of prostitution. When he emerged, he found his weapon in the hands of a native. Result: one U.S. KIA.
Unfortunately, an enemy agent can be the most innocuous of people. While he is busily gaining confidence, he is collecting information and supplying the VC with the wherewithal to launch a major surprise.
While this agent is busy winning the unwitting confidence of U.S. military personnel, he is equally busy forcing the people into a "coerced friendship." Acts of terror, ambush, sniping or small scale sabotage against U.S. personnel increases the fear - and control - he has over the people. In turn, they become his sources of information in exchange for his political protection racket.
Collaboration is complacency's greatest ally. Together, they work to produce the results the Viet Cong want.
The complacent and unwary soldier is a prime VC target; he could be dead.
|FUEL TO WATER - Not the entrance to a fish market, this airplane fuel tank serves as a shower for the officers of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 25th Division. It is one of many impromptu showers rigged up around the Cu Chi base camp, fashioned from oil drums, water cans or virtually anything that will hold water.|
Page 8 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS May 20, 1966
U.S., ARVN Troops Work for Victory
"The only way to measure success in this war is to see how many people you return to the influence of the Vietnamese government," said Lieutenant Colonel Clay T. Buckingham, of Vero Beach, Florida.
"To do this," continued the chief military adviser to Vietnamese forces in Hau Nghia Province, initially we must have a dual force of both Vietnamese and Americans. Only their own people can tell the villagers why the Americans have come. Only Vietnamese themselves can dispel Viet Cong rumors."
This dual force concept was used for the first time by the division on operation Maili. Meetings are conducted daily in the province capital of Bao Trai between Col. Buckingham., Lieutenant Colonel Harley F. Mooney Jr., 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry, commander, and Major Nguyen Van Nha, the province chief.
Simply stated, the operation involves U.S. forces moving into and clearing an area, while troops from the Army of Vietnam (ARVN) join other Vietnamese to go in and perform what Col. Buckingham calls "the bedrock function of pacification."
The pacification team includes Vietnamese medics, who operate in a manner similar to the U.S. Army's Medical Civic Action Program and National Police. The teams search each hooch, take a census and gain intelligence data, which, according to Captain James J. Kernan, of Youngstown, Ohio, the province S-3 adviser, "we couldn't get any other way except by sitting down and talking with the people."
The team also effects a psychological function which is probably as effective as helicopter loudspeakers.
Units of the 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry, were augmented by ARVN soldiers throughout operation Maili. Twenty Vietnamese sector special troops are divided among the line units for both day and nighttime action. Two or three regular Vietnamese troops go out on each of the nightly squad ambushes. In addition, entire battalions from the ARVN 25th Division are employed in offensive and blocking roles.
All members of the advisory team agree that this close contact between ARVN and American forces is resulting in a mutual respect for each others knowledge as well as personal friendships between the men.
What have been some of the tangible results of the combined operation in Hau Nghia Province?
"The most obvious," said Col. Buckingham, "is that the hamlet of Duc Hanh 'B' has three times as many people as it did two weeks ago. It's been overrun three times, and it wasn't until now that we could provide enough security to build a new outpost. We've given people a sense of confidence and security they haven't had before.
"Finally, we've discredited the VC by showing that U.S. and Vietnamese forces can operate almost with impunity in an area that once had three VC battalions ready to attack at any time."
McDonough Becomes CO of Co. A, 2/35th
Captain James McDonough, of Portland, Maine, became the new commander of Company 'A', 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry, in ceremonies last week at the 3rd Brigade's base camp.
The previous commander, Captain James E. Barnes, of Oklahoma City, Okla., is the new battalion adjutant. He has been commanding officer of Company 'A' for eight months and has led his men on several operations against the Viet Cong since the brigade arrived in Vietnam last December.
A parting "aloha" to Capt. Barnes and a welcoming one to Capt. McDonough were given by the men of the company, who threw an authentic Hawaiian luau. The luau was complete with a pig on a spit and one baked in the ground in a traditional Polynesian imu.
3rd Bde. Opens New Hospital
Members of the 3rd Brigade Task Force recently participated in dedication ceremonies for the new Pleiku Provincial Hospital.
The project originally began when the province chief gave the town of Pleiku the buildings of a former Vietnamese Special Forces billeting area. Much of the reconditioning of the buildings was done by the 41st Civil Affairs Team, attached to 3rd Bde. The hospital has a 100-bed capacity.
Total expenditures for the hospital project reached more than 150,000 piastres, plus the personal sacrifice and hard work of the people.
Members of the 3rd Bde. are holding their heads a little higher now with the feeling of a job well done. The feeling was expressed by Brigadier General Glenn D. Walker, task force commander, when he said, "This renovated hospital is indicative of the friendship and cooperation which exists between the people of South Vietnam and the People of the United States. I am confident that this hospital will exemplify the cooperation which exists between the people of South Vietnam and the people of the United States. I am confident that we will see much more evidence of that friendship and cooperation in the future.
|GRAND OPENING - Brigadier General Glenn D. Walker, CG, 3rd Bde., presents plaque to Lt. Col. Ho Vinh, Pleiku Province Chief, at dedication ceremonies of Pleiku Hospital which 3rd Bde. personnel helped renovate. (Photo by Sutphin)|
The 25th Infantry Division Museum for providing the volume of 1966 Tropic Lightning News,
Ron Leonard, 25th Aviation Battalion for finding and mailing them,
Kirk Ramsey, 2nd Bn., 14th Inf. for creating this page.
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