Vol 1 No. 31 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS September 23, 1966
|Unit Page||Unit Page||Unit Page||Unit Page|
|1st Bde Photo 7||2/14 Photo 4||25th Inf Div 6||4/9 Photo 4|
|1/5 1||2/27 3||25th Inf Div Photo 8||4/9 6|
|1/5 1||2/27 Photo 4||25th Inf Div 8||4/23 1|
|1/5 6||2/27 Photo 7||25th Information 6||4/23 1|
|1/5 8||2/27 7||4/9 Photo 1||4/23 6|
|1/5 Photo 8||2/35 7||4/9 1||4/23 7|
|1/27 1||25th Avn Bn 7||4/9 3||588th Engr Photo 6|
|1/27 3||25th Inf Div Photo 1||4/9 3||588th Engr 6|
|1/27 8||25th Inf Div 1||4/9 Photo 3||Autumn Festival 2|
|1/69 Armor 6||25th Inf Div Photo 2||4/9 Photo 4||Chieu Hoi 7|
|118th Avn Bn 1||25th Inf Div 3|
[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.]
25th Mauls Cong in Filhol
1/5th Mech, 4/23rd Hit Plantation
Armored personnel carriers (APC) and infantry from the 25th recently teamed up on Operation "Kippapa," a search-and-destroy mission, to maul over the VC infested Filhol plantation.
In just under two weeks of sweeps through the dense underbrush just north of the 25th's base camp, members of the 1st Bn. (Mech), 5th Inf., operating APC and companies of infantrymen from 4th Bn., 23rd Inf., killed nine Viet Cong and brought back 45 suspects for questioning.
But that was not all the damage.
The infantrymen cracked down hard on the VC's bunkers and tunnel complexes. In short order, the units destroyed 121 structures used for varying purposes by the enemy, five punji pits, 39 foxholes and 16 trenches.
They blasted 47 important underground fortifications and plugged 65 tunnels.
Some of the Viet Cong equipment destroyed included four 250-pound bombs, one 500-pound bomb, six tons of rice, 36 105mm rounds, three 8-inch projectiles, 37 booby traps, 52 anti-tank mines and large quantities of mortar rounds and small arms ammunition.
The 5th and 4/23rd also brought at least a temporary end to the movement of supplies around the "Tropic Lightning" area.
|DIRECT WAY - A sergeant of Co. C, 4th Bn., 9th Inf., motions his men into action under sniper fire. The company was pressing forward in an operation in the Filhol Plantation. (Photo by PFC Vern Shibla)|
Manchu Unit Gets Results In Filhol Too
Co. C, 4th Bn., 9th Inf., "Manchus" recently conducted a one-day search-and-clear mission in the Filhol Plantation north of the 25th Infantry "Tropic Lightning" division base camp.
They were supported by elements of the 118th Avn. Bn.; 1st Bn., (Mech) 5th Inf., and 1st Bn., 27th Inf.
Co. C destroyed 40 underground shelters and captured four Viet Cong suspects, more than 700 pounds of rice and several documents.
Additionally, 11grenades and two 81mm rounds were destroyed.
|Special TLN Next Week
The Tropic Lightning News will celebrate the 25th birthday of the 25th Infantry Division October 1 with a special 16-page edition.
To coincide with the division's birthday, the Tropic Lightning News will be published Saturday instead of Friday.
The edition will include special reports on division actions in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, plus other exciting features.
VC Trash Hounds Trapped
By PFC Richard Calvo
Four Viet Cong searched the abandoned American field camp. They were hunting for discarded morsels of food and scraps of metal.
The food would feed their jungle fighters, their terrorists and their ambushers. The metal would be reformed into explosive containers for booby traps and mines.
The four Viet Cong moved around, slowly groping in the darkness, looking for the leftovers.
Then 1st Lt. Donald K. McBride, 27, of Bozeman, Mont., 2nd platoon leader, sprung his trap.
His platoon, from Co. A, 4th Bn,. 23rd Inf., had been lying in a three-pronged ambush just north of the "Tropic Lightning's" base camp for over three, long, tiring hours.
Ever since the battalion moved out earlier they had waited silently for a sound, a movement, a signal of any sort.
And finally it came.
From a tree line to the rear of the VC came the roar of automatic weapons. The tracers searched the night and brought death to the VC as they fled.
In flight, bleeding and terrified, the communist dashed for cover. One dropped to the ground, another crawled into his protective hole in the dense jungle.
The other two ran into the woodline as American artillery churned the ground, hunting for the Viet Cong.
The troops found one body and numerous blood trails but refrained from following the VC to prevent a counter-ambush.
The enemy not only was denied his parasitic supplies, but lost the equipment with which he started.
|SHAKE - Maj. Gen. Fred C. Weyand, division commander, has just presented a Hawaiian monkeypod wood bowl as a token of friendship to Maj. Gen. Vinh Loc, commanding general, II Corps, following a luncheon at the commanding general's mess. (Photo by Sp5 Jose Finklea)|
Viet C.G. Visits Division
Maj. Gen. Vinh Loc, Vietnamese commanding general, II Corps, visited the 25th recently.
Gen. Loc and his official party were greeted by Maj. Gen. Fred C. Weyand, commanding general, and taken directly to division headquarters where a color ceremony was held in honor of the visiting Vietnamese.
Following the ceremony, Gen. Loc was briefed by the division staff. Lt. Col. Boyd T. Bashore, deputy for pacification, highlighted the briefing with a discussion on the pacification mission of the 25th.
Gen. Weyand and Lt. Col. Harley F. Mooney, division G-2, briefed the general. on tactical operations and troop deployment.
A tour of the base camp followed the briefing, with Gen. Loc making stops at Helping Hand and Division Artillery, concluding the visit with lunch, at which time Gen. Weyand presented Gen. Loc with a Hawaiian monkeypod wood bowl, as a token of friendship.
Page 2 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS September 23, 1966
|SILVER STAR MEDAL (POSTHUMOUSLY)|
|Capt. Robert P. Andrews, Co. C, 4th Bn., 23rd Inf.|
BRONZE STAR MEDAL (VALOR)
Capt. George P. McQuillen, Co. A, 2nd Bn., 14th Inf.
1st Lt. Joseph E. Carpenter, Co. A, 1st Bn. (Mech), 5th Inf.
MSgt. Santos Rodriguez, Co. C, 4th Bn., 9th Inf.
Sgt. Charles H. Crane, Co. A, 1st Bn., 27th Inf. (Posthumously)
Sgt. Meredith G. Hubbard, Co. A, 1st Bn., 27th Inf. (Posthumously)
Cpl. Turner L. Thompson, Co. A, 1st Bn., 27th Inf. (Posthumously)
Sp4 John S. Blue, Co. A, 1st Bn., 27th Inf.
Sp4 Roger D. Clawson, Co. A, 1st Bn., 27th Inf. (Posthumously)
Sp4 Leroy Peterson, Co. A, 1st Bn., 27th Inf. (Posthumously)
PFC Hearne Bever, Co. A, 1st Bn., 27th Inf. (Posthumously)
Maj. Lowellyn A. Brown, Co. A, 25th Avn. Bn.
Maj. Lindberg A. James, HHB, 25th Div. Arty.
1st Lt. Curtis H. Landers, Co. A, 25th Avn. Bn.
SSgt. Samuel J. Maddern Jr., Co. A, 25th Avn. Bn.
Sp5 Robert C. Smith, Co. A, 25th Avn. Bn.
Sp4 Phillip R. Flores, Co. A, 25th Avn. Bn.
Sp4 Santitos Morales, Co. A, 25th Avn. Bn.
PFC John D. Cumbie, D Trp., 3rd Sgdn., 4th Cav.
PFC James B. Harris, Co. A, 25th Avn. Bn.
PFC William Susralski, HHB, 25th Div. Arty.
SFC William N. Gosselin, HHC, 4th Bn, 23rd Inf.
Sgt. John W. Baker, Co. A, 2nd Bn., 27th Inf.
Sp4 Patrick J. Devereaux, Co. C, 1st Bn. (Mech), 5th Inf.
Sp4 Jester Martin. Co. B. 4th Bn., 9th Inf.
Sp4 Kenneth G. Prettyman, HHC, 1st Bn. (Mech) 5th Inf.
PFC James D. Adams, HHC, 2nd Bn., 27th Inf.
PFC Alvin R. Dean, Co. B, 4th Bn., 9th Inf.
PFC Ernest J. Franzer, HHC, 2nd Bn., 27th Inf.
PFC Roger L. Teeters, Co. B, 1st Bn., 27th Inf.
PFC Peter D. Woll, Co. C, 2nd Bn., 14th Inf.
Lanterns, Dragons to Highlight Vietnamese Festival Thursday
Autumn has three months on the Vietnamese lunar calendar, the seventh, eighth and ninth months. Each lunar month normally has 30 days. The "Mid-Autumn Festival" is celebrated on the 45th day or half way through the autumn season. By our calendar this year it will be celebrated next Thursday.
Its origin is buried in Chinese and Vietnamese legends. One goes back to the T'an Dynasty of China in the eighth century. The emperor dreamed he made a visit to the moon where there was mirth merrymaking. The next day he inaugurated mid-autumn festivities as an annual affair. He had his servants duplicate the lanterns he had admired in the Moon Palace.
Since then paper lanterns have been associated with the festival. Among the traditional dragon, unicorn, star and carp shaped lanterns are modern rocket, tank and jet designs. Carp shaped lanterns are hung in front of homes to ward off an evil genii believed to live in a carp until festival night. Then it turns into a young man and roams the countryside searching for pretty girls and women.
Children marching and performing to the Dance of the Unicorn with lighted lanterns make a picturesque sight. Lanterns also add color to the group singing which is believed to have originated in the 18th century as entertainment for Vietnamese soldiers fighting a Chinese invasion.
The emphasis on toy animals is in keeping with the festival's legends. Every effort is made to make the, toys look as natural and animated as possible. They are moved about by heated air created by putting a lighted candle or small oil lamp inside the toy. Dragons, unicorns, and rabbits are very popular. The dragon appears in most Vietnamese festivals.
It is not an evil spirit but the emblem of nobility and power, a reminder to the Vietnamese of their legendary origin. The smiling unicorn is a mythical animal that is the symbol of kindness and wisdom. In the past it was the insignia of high officials. Farmers believe it can be influential in bringing rain and good luck. The rabbit has been made popular through legends.
While the children have their fun, adults hold parties, engagements are announced and weddings celebrated. Farmers discuss next year's crops and predict their harvest by the brightness of the moon. If it is cloudy or raining, next year's crops prospects are very poor. Whatever they are doing, Vietnamese people take time to enjoy this night when the moon is at its brightest.
Cold War GI Bill And You
(Editor's note: This is the last of a series on the Cold War GI Benefits program.)
The Veterans Readjustment Benefits Act of 1966 carries into the present cold war period the WW II and Korean war programs under which Service people, in the words of President Johnson, "found opportunity which they used to enrich themselves and to enrich the Nation."
Veterans of these two wars returned home to find "not just gratitude," the President remarked, "but concrete help in getting a fresh start with educational assistance, with medical care, with guarantees that permitted them to buy homes to live in."
So, whether you plan to make military or naval service your career or intend to return to civilian life after your present period of active duty, this law expresses your country's appreciation for your service and assures you of opportunities for education and home ownership that you might have aspired to if you had never entered the Armed Forces.
Some four million veterans who have served during the past nine years and nearly three million men and women now on active duty are or will be eligible for the benefits provided under this Cold War GI Bill, along with the 600,000 additional veterans who will be returning to civilian life each year.
Whether you take advantage of the provisions of this act, either while on active duty or in civilian life, is, of course, your choice. But the opportunity is there.
Gen. Lincoln Visits
Where The Action Is
There is plenty of action just around the corner for the serviceman who wants to participate.
This particular action doesn't come very often, but it's as exciting as any Kentucky Derby.
This race, of course, pertains to the upcoming general elections in November. And when your ballot is finally cast, you have participated in one of the most exciting events in our democracy. To see the results of your actions as an eligible voter do these simple things:
Learn who the candidates are; learn the issues at stake in your locality and make your choice; get your Federal Post Card Application form; mail it to your home state; and, when you get your absentee ballot, fill it out accurately and mail without delay.
Generally, that's all there is to it. But the reasons you voted in the first place go much deeper.
For example, the history of the world has borne out the truth of the warning that "eternal vigilance is the price of liberty." Case after case can be cited in which people's individual liberties have been lost because the majority of the people neglected their responsibilities.
In most countries which have experienced dictatorial forms of government, dictators came in power not by the will of the majorities, but with the support of aggressive minorities aided by the indifference of the majority.
So, there you are. An alert majority is what counts. And you are a part of the majority. Eligible voters have the duty and responsibility to their right to vote. Then, and only then, will the majority have their say and our great form of government continue to thrive. (AFNB)
|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 Saigon Daily
Maj. Gen. Fred C. Weyand . . . . Commanding General
Maj. William C. Shepard . . . . . . Information Officer
1st Lt. William H. Seely III . . . . Officer-in-Charge
Sp4 David L. Kleinberg . . . . . . . Editor
Sp4 Adrian E. Wecer . . . . . . . . Editorial Assistant
Page 3 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS September 23, 1966
After The Battle,
It's Back to Shower
And Mail From Home
"We think mostly about getting back, getting a shower and checking the mail from home," said SSgt. Dennis Garland, 26, of Philadelphia, Pa., as he relaxed with the men of his squad after returning from a night ambush.
The men of the 2nd Bn., 27th Inf., are accustomed to night ambushes; they have been going on them together for many months.
"We are a big happy family," said Sgt. Garland. "We trust each other and we all do our job the best we can. When we are out there, each man keeps an eye out for a buddy."
The men of the 1st squad, 1st Platoon have been together since the battalion came to Vietnam and a man has never asked to leave. Even the wounded have always asked to come back.
The squad hadn't seen too much action that night "and Manne didn't fall into wells," observed Sgt. Garland. It seems that one of the family has a habit of falling into wells.
Manne is PFC Mannuel Torrez, 18, of Taos, N.M., who is the point man for the squad. "He's my boy," mused Sgt. Garland. "He's the man that is the first to hit action, and he is the first man to let us know when there is trouble up there. The only problem he has is falling into wells. He could find one in the desert."
PFC Torrez has stopped counting how many he has fallen into, but says with a smile, "I must have fallen into every kind of well that you can fall into. I never worry though, my buddies are always behind me to help me whether it's 'Charlie' or wells."
The "family" spends all its time together in base camp and in the mosquito-ridden, leech-infested paddies. "Sometimes you want to talk to your buddy to make the time go faster but you know you can't," said Sgt. Garland. "When we pass the wire and leave base we are all business. We have to be - it might mean our lives."
"But we sure make up for lost horse-play when we get back ," Sgt. Garland reflected. "When the men are on the other side of the wire, they do their job well for another reason. In the words of one of the squad members, "We have to do a good job out there. We have a few scores to settle."
25th Enters Mekong Delta
Hundreds of school children turned out recently to meet the 4th Bn., 9th Inf., when it arrived at the village of Ben Luc, 20 miles southwest of Saigon in the Mekong Delta region.
Working closely with Vietnamese Army troops (ARVN), three "Manchu" companies have established a base camp inside the village and have begun a four to six week pacification mission in the area.
It is the first time that U.S. forces have been in the Ben Luc area.
Plans call for medical civic action programs for the villagers. U.S. and ARVN forces will conduct sweeps to find VC in the surrounding area.
25th and Villagers Celebrate Bac Ha Trade School Opening
Military and civilian leaders in Hau Nghia province gathered recently to celebrate the opening of a new trade school in the area.
The school, located in Bac Ha I, just outside the 25th base camp, was built by the villagers with the help of the division and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The school's three instructors will teach approximately 50 students between the ages of 12 and 17. They will take courses in sewing, basket weaving and cooking.
The building was constructed by the Vietnamese. The materials were donated by USAID and the labor was paid for through donations by the 25th.
Two sewing machines were also given to the "Tropic Lightning Helping Hand."
The trade school will be supported by a monthly contribution of 44,000 piastres or about $370, donated by division troops.
The inauguration ceremonies held at the school, were attended by Maj. Nguyen Van Nha, Hau Nghia province chief ; Capt. Duiny Quan, Cu Chi district chief, and Bishop Thieu of Tay Ninh, Long An, Hau Nghia and Binh Duong provinces.
Also present at the ceremonies were Col. Herbert S. Lowe, commander, 25th Support Command, and his staff. Music for the dedication was provided by the division's band.
|WIDE AWAKE - Co. C, 4th Bn., 9th Inf., keeps its eyes peeled for well concealed snipers during an operation in the Filhol Plantation. (Photo by PFC Vern Shibla)|
Capt. Tran Cong Nghiep, chief of Trang Bang district, recently visited several members of the 1st.Bde., 27th Inf., at the division's 7th Surgical Hospital.
Capt. Tran's visit to the "Wolfhounds" marked the first time a district chief has visited wounded "Tropic Lightning" soldiers.
The captain, accompanied by his wife and five secretaries, saw the wounded Wolfhounds shortly after the termination of a month-long Operation "Aiea" in his district.
Each soldier was presented a box of cookies and fruit. Capt. Tran presented the gifts in appreciation for "their dedication while serving my country and helping my district."
One of the wounded men said Capt. Tran told him, "I'm sorry you were injured and hope you have a quick recovery."
The soldier said, "Knowing he took time from his duties to visit us made me very happy, and I think I speak for all of us when I say how much his time and gifts were appreciated."
Due to the success of Operation "Aiea," a ceremony was held at the battalion's operational command post naming the troops under Capt. Tran's command as honorary Wolfhounds.
Page 4 - 5 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS September 23, 1966
[This issue of Tropic Lightning News was scanned from a bound
library volume provided by the 25th Infantry Division Museum. One of
the photographs and caption on pages 4 and 5 are missing and one is cut in half.
printed across the center of the 2-page-wide sheet and hidden from sight
because of the way the paper is bound into the book - the book could not be
safely opened wide enough to see that
part of the page.]
It's A Wet War
In Vietnam, where temperatures run high, a dip in the water may, to some, be considered the classical relief.
For the men who make their way against the Vet Cong daily, however, water is just one more unfriendly obstacle.
The rain itself is bad enough. When it pours, troop movements at times can come to a near halt, and even when the torrential downfall has finished inundating the land, the reminder of water is everywhere.
For most, the rains mean trudging through muddy rice paddies. For some soldiers, like one pictured on this page, proficiency in the 100-yard freestyle is almost a requirement for daily survival.
Others spend a good deal of the day around the rice paddies, pistol drawn, seeking out a hidden Viet Cong.
The water, especially in Vietnam, reveals many strange things.
|MUD - Elements of Co. C, 2nd Bn., 14th Inf., cross water-filled rice paddies while on a search-and-clear mission during Operation "Oahu" near Tay Ninh. (Photo by PFC Vern Shibla)|
|JUST HARD - For the 4th Bn., 9th Inf., "Manchus the jungle only makes the search for the Viet Cong harder - never impossible. (Photo by Sp4 Lee Earl)|
|PURSUIT - Member of the 2nd Bn., 27th Inf., "Wolfhounds" wade through rice paddies in pursuit of Viet Cong while on a recent operation. (Photo by Sp4 Wallace Stachera)|
|CROSSING - While crossing a wet field, a young officer of the 4th Bn., 9th Inf., directs elements of his platoon to cover an exposed flank of the advancing company.|
Page 6 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS September 23, 1966
|CHOW - One of the "tree-eating monsters" of the 588th Engr. Bn. smashes its way through the heavy growth of trees and shrubbery in the Filhol Plantation just north of the "Tropic Lightning" base camp. The engineer battalion and the 4th Bn., 9th Inf., are conducting Operation "Lumberjack."|
588th Tractors Eat
Trees for Breakfast,
Shrubs for Snacks
"Tree-eating monsters" have appeared in the Filhol plantation just north of the division's base camp.
In reality, the "monsters" are four HU-16-M tractors of the 588th Engr. Bn.
The engineers, along with the 4th Bn., 9th Inf., are conducting one of the division's newest operations called "Lumberjack."
The purpose of the operation is to clear the area in front of the division's northern perimeter of trees and shrubbery and to level the ground as much as possible. This is expected to provide observation and prohibit the Viet Cong from hiding in the plantation.
The clearing is being done by the four tractors with large Rome Cutter blades mounted on them. The blade has a slanting edge to slice right through trees. The left side of the blade has a "stinger," a long poker-like protrusion, attached to it in order to smash part of a large tree away until it is small enough for the lower edge of the blade to go to work.
Capt. John D. Canatsey of Santa Barbara, Calif., operations officer of the engineer battalion, said the cutters were tested in Long Binh before coming to Cu Chi.
To provide security for the engineers, the 4/9th has established a perimeter around the section of the plantation desired to be cleared.
When the dusty engineers; and infantrymen return from their positions just off the division's bunker line, it is plain that the end result will more than compensate for the hours of eating dirt and fighting mosquitoes.
The men guarding the northern perimeter can now see better and farther.
Companies B & C
4/23rd Hits V C.
Companies of the 4th Bn., 23rd Inf., recently met stubborn enemy resistance in activities just north of the Cu Chi base camp.
Co. B, encountered the Viet Cong first when it was hit by sniper fire, command detonated mines and grenades on its left flank.
2nd Lt. David P. Niles, 24, of Brockton, Mass., first platoon leader, commented, "My platoon was pinned down almost immediately. A mine hit the men and then grenades were hurled at us."
Seeing the wounded lying helplessly in a clearing with enemy grenades falling in their midst, Capt. David H. Kuhl, 25, of North Little Rock, Ark., the company commander, rushed into action. He snatched four grenades from a wounded man and blindly threw one into the brush to his front.
The well-concealed enemy, however, retaliated with several more grenades, and Capt. Kuhl was hit.
Still holding on to three grenades, he painfully searched for the enemy. A wounded noncommissioned officer in the clearing came to the captain's assistance.
"They're over there!" he screamed, pointing to a spot on the captain's right.
Capt. Kuhl wheeled and pitched his deadly missiles.
Following a series of explosions, the voice cried out again, "You got them! You got'em good, Sir!"
He certainly had. The enemy instantly fell silent, and the men of Co. B rapidly cleared and secured the objective.
Later in the week, Co. C. sweeping the same location, clashed head on with a Viet Cong force. They were hit by machine gun fire from a reinforced bunker and by grenades from a nearby tree line.
An armored personnel carrier (APC) from the 1st Bn. (Mech), 5th Inf., moved toward the enemy machine gun bunker. Moments later a tremendous blast blew off one of its tracks.
2nd Lt. James R. Kopp, 24, of Ashland, Ohio, the first platoon leader noted that the area was full of anti-tank mines, and said: "Their were really waiting for armor."
Another APC moved forward to over-run the enemy bunker, but it too was stopped by the mines,
Finally, a third APC rumbled successfully through the mine field and made its way to the bunker. Its steel tracks bit into the bunker wall, pulling the armored vehicle up and over the top, completely crushing the enemy emplacement.
No longer pinned down, the men of Co. C stormed the position, wiping out all resistance and chasing the fleeing VC survivors into the jungle.
Col. Clark Cmds. 1/69th
Lt. Col. Clyde O. Clark of Sweet Grass, Mont., took command of the first Bn., 69th Armor, recently at the 3rd Brigade Task Force base camp of Pleiku.
Col. Clark was handed the colors of the unit by the former commander, Lt. Col, R.J. Fairfield, the new deputy chief of staff, I Field Force.
Col. Clark came to the 3rd Bde. from Fort Hood, Tex., where he commanded the 2nd Bn., 13th Armor, 1st Armor Division.
A graduate of the U,S, Army Command and General Staff College; the Armored School and the Army Strategic Intelligence School, Col. Clark holds a Bachelor of Science degree in General Engineering from the University of Omaha.
The 41-year-old commander of the first medium tank battalion committed to Vietnam, holds the Bronze Star Medal, and the Combat Infantryman's Badge.
|TRAINING - Col. Harry Myers (1), director of training, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for individual training at CONARC, addresses officers of the 25th during a one-day visit to Cu Chi. Col. Meyers talked with commanders, staff officers and recent service school and training center graduates about problems relating to training adequacy.|
Mark This: Our 1000th Release
With the writing of this story, the 25th division's Information Office has produced 1000 public information news releases since coming to Vietnam in January.
This record number of releases for a major unit in a combat zone included some 500 stories about the division in combat, approximately 200 on civic action programs and the other 300 on topics of general and human interest.
Coverage has been evenly spread among the division's major units, with 26 per cent going to the Cu Chi based 2nd Bde., 21 per cent about the Pleiku based 3rd Brigade Task Force and the remaining 50 per cent concerning the Cu Chi based Support Command, Division Artillery, 1st Bde., and the newly arrived 196th Light Infantry Brigade.
Although the 1000 stories have involved the efforts of 46 writers, the majority of them were written by the division's full-time staff of 12 combat reporters.
The role of the combat reporter is a particularly hazardous one. Each of the 12 men in the division's Information Office has accompanied infantry units into combat with his normal load of field equipment and M-14 rifle plus a notebook and pencil and often a camera.
He must at the same time be both an infantryman and a reporter.
At the head of the division information office is Maj. William C. Shepard, 33, from San Antonio, Tex., a former battery commander with the division's 3rd Bn., 13th Arty. He holds a bachelor of arts degree in journalism from Texas A & M.
Maj. Shepard controls an information effort that includes a weekly newspaper, The Tropic Lightning News; a monthly magazine - the first produced by the military in Vietnam, called The Tropic Lightning Ambush; and an Armed Forces Radio Station, Tropic Lightning Radio.
In addition, the office has just finished an impressive 400-page silver anniversary yearbook commemorating the division's 25th anniversary in combat, to be available on October 1.
The public information section is under the direction of 1st Lt. Patrick J. McKeand, 25, of Anderson, Ind., a graduate of the University of Indiana's school of journalism and a former reporter for The St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times.
His duties include editing, news releases, editing the silver anniversary yearbook and, when time permits, writing releases of his own.
The 12-man reporting team has an average age of 21 and a versatile background. Some of the writers' civilian occupations include professional actor, musician, private pilot flight instructor, newspaper distributor, newspaper reporter and auto-body repairman.
As an example of their versatility, the information office staff is housed in an office built entirely by the staff.
Page 7 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS September 23, 1966
'Pathfinders' Show Way
By Sp4 Todd Darch
A luminous artillery flare hangs in the wet night air; its brief light silhouetting the forms of five men riding in a lone helicopter.
The men quickly check out the rice paddy terrain below, for once the flare has burned out they must work in total darkness.
Their mission is to establish a landing zone, utilizing only small landing lights, for a night air assault to be carried out by an infantry unit of the 25th Division.
The five men assigned this most difficult task wear the "black cap" of the 25th Avn. Bn.'s "Pathfinders." With the reputation of "First in, Last out," they are widely respected. Without the Pathfinders to show the way, air assaults which have proven so effective, would be nearly impossible.
As the chopper hovers above the paddies, 1st Lt. James A. Hill, 25, of Fairfax, Va., and his team jump down into the knee-deep water. There is no need for Lt. Hill to issue orders, for each Pathfinder knows exactly what he must do, as he silently fades into the darkness.
Suddenly, one by one the small lights began to appear on the narrow berms of the paddies. In a matter of moments, the individual lights take the shape of a landing pad, which is clearly visible to the incoming aircraft, yet subdued to enemy detection.
With the lights set out, Cpl. Talmadge Dobbs, 21, of Port Orchard, Wash., takes his place at the front of the landing zone. As radio operator, Cpl. Dobbs must act as the air controller in the tower of a large municipal airport.
"It's hard enough." explained Lt. Hill, "to land one of those whirly-birds during the day, to say nothing about landing one at night with a minimum of lighting."
However, wave after wave of choppers loaded with "Tropic Lightning" troops are landed without a trace of difficulty.
Once the infantry has landed, the Pathfinders must maintain the landing zone to extract troops as they return from their mission. The troop extraction is often the most risky part of the mission, since it is sometimes accomplished under intensive enemy fire.
When the troops have left, members of the Pathfinders board the last chopper.
|THANKS - Col William B. Sandlin Jr., 1st Brigade commander, thanks Chieu Hoi returnee for his services to the units of the 1st Brigade and presents him with piasters offered in the "Open Arms" leaflets. Looking on are Mr. Nhuyen Van Cong (1), Chieu Hoi advisor; SSgt. Nguyen Tuan (c), 1st Brigade interpreter, and Capt. Dale J. Bickert, 4th Bn., 23rd Inf., S-2.|
25-Year-Old Chieu Hoi Helps 25th, Government - And Himself
He is a Chieu Hoi. Born 25 years ago in a small village near Cu Chi, he is one of thousands of Viet Cong who have responded to the Chieu Hoi (Open Arms) program.
During his early years with the Viet Cong, he was convinced that they were dedicated to ending colonialism and bringing land reform to the people. He later became more skeptical of VC aims. In the few instances where he did see land reform, heavy taxation by the VC made life more difficult for the farmers than it had been as tenets.
Personal gain seemed to mean more to the Viet Cong cadre than dedication to ideas which would benefit the people. Lack of supplies, mistreatment and growing disillusionment with the goals of the communists in his country led him to respond to the Chieu Hoi offer.
Since siding with the government, he has provided valuable intelligence information concerning Viet Cong strength and operational strategy. He has personally led elements of the division's 4th Bn., 23rd Inf., through mine fields and to tunnel-bunker complexes.
As a Chieu Hoi, he has been given cash, housing and needed farmland. Job training and placement have been made available to him.
"I have enjoyed the welcome given me," he said, "and am pleased to be working for my government rather than against it."
After being thanked for his help by Col. William P. Sandlin Jr., the 1st Brigade commander, he said, "I have always wanted to do much for my country," he said, "but it has taken me a long time to discover how I can be of real help."
|CLICK - Captured photo equipment is displayed for the men of the the 2nd Bn., 27th Inf., who captured the cache west of Cu Chi.|
2/27th Smashes VC Photo Club
As the result of a recent action by Co. B, 2nd Bn., 27th Inf., at least one Viet Cong photo enthusiast will have to settle for pencil sketches.
While working in an area west of the division's base camp the "Wolf hounds" came upon a cache of photo supplies buried in a 55-gallon drum.
Included in the find were two 35mm cameras, 24 rolls of 35mm film, three 8mm movie cameras with film, 10 boxes of negatives, a flash gun, two cans of print paper, assorted developing chemicals and several different enlargement lenses.
A scrapbook containing 30 pictures was also found in the cache and displayed shots of local VC units training, holding rallies and conducting terrorist attacks.
Undeveloped film pulled from the drum was turned over to the division's 125th for processing. Division authorities guessed that the equipment belonged to an enemy intelligence center.
Our Fire power
Southeast Asia adversaries have come to "respect our firepower," according to Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara. "It is clear now that they can only hope for a wavering of our will power. In their belief that democracy is essentially decadent and undisciplined. They hold to the naive hope that public debate will gradually erode our national purpose."
1st Lt. Frank Willis, a 4.2-inch mortar platoon leader with the newly arrived 4th Infantry Division at Pleiku, asked a perfectly normal question last week.
Lt. Willis paid a routine visit to 1st Lt. Ray Pollard, mortar platoon leader with the 3rd Brigade Task Force. After a tour of the 3rd Brigade area and a briefing on operations in Vietnam, Lt. Willis asked Lt. Pollard about fire missions.
He said in the United States, his unit didn't get much practice and wanted to know how often the 3rd Brigade fired.
No sooner were the words out of his month than a report came in requesting fire support for Co. C, 2nd Bn., 35th Inf.
Lt. Pollard's platoon unlimbered their equipment and proceeded to fire for 15 straight hours.
When it was all over, Lt. Willis said, "I guess that answered my question."
Page 8 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS September 23, 1966
5th Mech Wins Over Village With Milk, Medicine, Books
In and around Tan Phu Trung, a small hamlet five miles southwest of Cu Chi, members of 1st Bn. (Mech), 5th Inf., are carrying on a determined civic action battle.
The village was controlled by the Viet Cong for many years. It is not anymore.
According to Capt. Archie L. Dowdell of Weston., Mo., the people have an "outstanding attitude towards the American troops." The battalion's civil affairs officer added, "The villagers are the friendliest and most cooperative people I have seen in Vietnam. Now the children come up and talk to you."
Milk, cooking oil, building materials, medicines, books and many other items have been distributed. Security for the villagers was provided by the 1/5th and the 3rd Sqdn., 4th Cav.
The battalion has given powdered milk in large quantities for the children. On one day recently it supplied the people with 76 bags of wheat, 25 bags of rice, 120 cans of cooking oil and 10 cases of powdered milk.
They also provided five five-ton loads of lumber, roofing materials, 270 fence stakes, 100 rolls of plain wire and 50 rolls of concertina wire.
To aid in the education of the children of Tan Phu Trung, the battalion has supplied books for their school library plus crayons and writing materials for the schools.
In addition the school has been supplied with a medical kit for treatment of minor injuries. The village nurse has been well supplied.
With wire they have virtually stopped VC infiltration.
|VISIT - Harry Zorthian, counselor of ministry, U.S. Embassy, and director of the Joint United States Political Activities Organization, chats with Maj. Gen. Fred C. Weyand, division commanding general, as they visit Bao Trai a few miles from the division's Cu Chi base camp. (Photo by Sp5 Robert Williams)|
Wolfhound Sgt. Hits Big League Streak
In Vietnam sometimes things go bad and everything seems in vain. Other times, you score like a big leaguer on a winning streak.
Sgt. Randolph Davis, a member of Co. C, 1st Bn., 27th Inf., recently had such a streak.
The 21-year-old fire team leader from Greenville, Miss., was on a multi-company sweep several miles west of the division's base camp when it happened.
Two "Wolfhound" companies were working in an area where intelligence sources reported several enemy soldiers terrorizing villagers.
"We didn't know how many we were after," said Sgt. Davis recalling the day's events. "All we knew was there were terrorists in the area, and they weren't going to be there when we left."
"l took a couple of my men and searched a small cluster of buildings. Most places we 'visit' only have women in them, but this particular group of buildings had a lot of men. I checked them out and took along the ones I wasn't satisfied with."
Sgt. Davis repeated the procedure again and again and personally apprehended 10 of the 18 Viet Cong captured that day.
"I guess I was just lucky," said Sgt. Davis, "but there hasn't been any reports of terrorist actions from that area since."
|HONOR - SFC Konello Pele (1) of HHC, 3rd Brigade Task Force, receives the Silver Star from Admiral U.S. Grant Sharp, CINCPAC, during the admiral's visit to the brigade's forward command post.|
Admiral Presents SFC With Sliver Star Medal
SFC Konello Pele received the Silver Star Medal, the United States Army's third highest award for valor, from Admiral U.S. Grant Sharp, the Commander-in-Chief of U.S. Pacific Forces, in a recent ceremony.
Sgt. Pele, a veteran of three wars, was cited for his actions on May 29, while serving as a platoon sergeant on an operation to secure a vital landing zone.
According to his citation, he "singlehandedly charged a Viet Cong machine gun emplacement, killed two of the crew members and caused the remaining insurgents to flee.
"After covering the evacuation of the dead and wounded, he carried an enemy machine gun and ammunition through a bullet-swept area to a friendly position. Sgt. Pele moved several hundred meters across open terrain to carry a fallen comrade to friendly lines."
Sgt. Pele already holds the Vietnamese Medal of Honor, Bronze Star with 'V' Device and Vietnamese Gallantry Cross with Gold Star.
Lightning Loop Turns For Better
The division's Headquarters Commandant Section has begun an improvement project on Lightning Loop, the horseshoe-shaped drive in front of the 25th's headquarters.
The commandant men, headed by MSgt, Charles L. Baker of Elizabeth, N.J., have erected nine signs around the loop as part of the project that began on September 8.
The signs were painted by Sp6 Tatsuo Schwartz of Tokyo, Japan.
The men of the section include MSgt. Baker, Specialist Schwartz, SSgt. Bernard L. Sewell of Washington, D.C., Sp4 Bobby L. Broadnax of Los Angeles, and Sp4 Mike M. Szabo of New Brunswick, New Jersey.
|REUP - SSgt. George T. McPhaul. career counselor for the division's 2nd Brigade, has created an interest in HHC, 1st Bn. (Mech), 5th Inf. During a recent month, he reenlisted seven men from that company. Sgt. McPhaul joined the staff of the 25th reenlistment office in June after an assignment as Army recruiter at Gastonia, N.C.|
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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