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Vol 1 No. 39                TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                November 18, 1966



Unit                   Page Unit                  Page Unit                  Page Unit                  Page
1/5                          3 1/27                        3 2/27                        1 3/21                        8
1/5                          3 1/35 Photo              3 2/27                        7 4/9 Story/Photos     4
1/5                          6 17th Cav F Trp       3 2/27                        8 4/9                          6
1/5                          7 196th Inf Photo       1 25th Admin             8 4/9                          7
1/14                        7 196th Inf                 1 3rd Bde                  7 4/31                        3
1/14 Photo              7 196th Inf                 7 3/21                        6 725th Maint            7
1/14                        8 2nd Bde                  6 3/21                        7 Chieu Hoi               2
1/14                        8 2/9 Arty                  1 3/21                        8 Oprn Attleboro       1
1/27                        1 2/14                        6 3/21                        8  

[Some of the photographs and images in this issue of Tropic Lightning News were very light or blurry and did not reproduce clearly.  They have been included only to give a sense of the activities in the Division.]



   Operation "Attleboro II," which erupted like an angry volcano in the first week of November, simmered down last week as 10,000 American soldiers swarmed over the dense jungle of Tay Ninh Province in the biggest operation of the Vietnam War.
   Units of the 25th Infantry Division reported only light contact with the enemy after the fiery battles which marked the beginning of the month.
   Enemy casualties for the operation, which started with the division's 196th Light Infantry Brigade, climbed over the 900 mark this week, only a slight increase over last week's total.  American casualties remained light.
   Through Wednesday, the American effort resulted in 949 Viet Cong dead, 39 captured, 82 suspects captured, 111 small arms weapons and 17 crew served weapons.
   Some officers estimate there may be as many as 6000 Viet Cong in the area.  The Tay Ninh Province has long been a communist stronghold.
   American pilots flew over the province last Tuesday, appealing to the Viet Cong to turn themselves in and dropping leaflets.
   Meanwhile, Gen. W. C. Westmoreland, commander of U.S. troops in Vietnam. congratulated elements of the 25th Infantry Division, 1st Infantry Division and the 196th for their determined action against the enemy.
   Operation "Attleboro" started on September 14, but the real action didn't begin until the first week in November when units of the 27th Infantry Wolfhounds ran into an estimated Viet Cong battalion.
   In the following five days of fiery battles units of the 1st Division, 25th and 196th went up against an estimated VC division.
   The battle was highlighted when the pin-downed Wolfhounds repelled six Viet Cong human wave assaults.



Through November 16

Operation Province Began FC KIA VCC VCS
Attleboro Tay Ninh Sept. 14 L 949 39 82
Lanikai Long An Sept. 15 L 22 4 26
Paul Rev. IV Pleiku Oct. 18 L 357 65 33



2/9 Scares V.C. for 150,000th Time

   Col. James G. Shanahan, 3rd Brigade Task Force commander, recently fired the 150,000th round for the 2nd Bn, 9th Arty, in support of ground operations in the central highlands of Vietnam.
   The event came exactly 300 days after Gen. W.C. Westmoreland, commander of all U.S. forces in Vietnam, fired the "Mighty Ninth's" first round on January 2.
   That round was the first to be fired in combat by any artillery unit of the 25th Infantry Division since the Korean Conflict.
   The artillerymen have averaged 500 rounds a day for the 300-day period.
   The 3rd Brigade Task Force recently broke the record for a sustained combat operation by a U.S. Army unit.  The record breaker came when Operation "Paul Revere" entered its 166th day.
   Batteries A and B of the Mighty Ninth have been in the field continuously since the Record breaking Operation Paul Revere began May 16.  Battery C has been in base camp for only six days.
   In the field, the battalion has made more than 100 battalion-size air mobile moves since arriving in country.
   Lt. Col. Bruce Holbrook, battalion commander, says that as far as he's concerned this is the finest 105mm artillery battalion he's ever seen.  According to Col. Holbrook the major artillery innovation over here has been the use of the 6400 mil firing chart 360 degrees which enables the batteries to shoot rapidly in any direction.  Technical fire direction is conducted at the battery level with tactical fire direction control at the battalion level.
   There are three line batteries and a headquarters and service battery organic to the battalion but it has normally controlled the fires of from nine to 11 batteries.  For a short period in July they controlled the fire of 13 batteries.  The 150,000 round total, however, was fired only by those batteries organic to the Mighty Ninth.


Col. William Sandlin and Francis Conaty CHANGE - Col. William B. Sandlin Jr., gives the 1st Bde. colors to Col. Francis S. Conaty, Jr., new brigade commander.  Col. Conaty was formerly in command of the 196th.  (Photo by PFC Vernon D. Shibla)


Col. Conaty New 1st Brigade Cmdr.

   Col. Francis S. Conaty Jr, has succeeded Col. William B. Sandlin Jr, as the commander of the division's 1st Bde.
   The change of command was marked by a short ceremony in front of the brigade headquarters at Cu Chi recently.  Col. Sandlin, who joined the 25th in 1963, has been assigned as MACV Secretary of the General Staff.
   Col. Conaty arrived in Vietnam as the Deputy Commander three months ago.  He served in Vietnam as the senior advisor for the 9th Vietnamese Inf Division in 1964 and 1965, and as an infantry advisor in Turkey during the Korean conflict.
   The colonel commanded a mechanized cavalry unit in the Asiatic Pacific Theatre during World War II.
   Col. Conaty's decorations include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal with "V" Device and Oak Leaf Cluster, Purple Heart and two Air Medals.


Sp 4 Earns Silver Star in 'Attleboro II'

   Sp4 William Wallace, who brilliantly assumed command of an encircled "Wolfhound" company while pinned down for more than 24 hours by an estimated Viet Cong battalion, was awarded the Silver Star Medal this week at Tay Ninh.
   The 23-year-old from Williston Park, N.Y., was decorated by Brig. Gen. George G. O'Connor, assistant division commander, for his heroic action during the fierce fighting during Operation "Attleboro," 60 miles northwest of Saigon.
   Co C, 2nd Bn, 27th Inf, swept through the thick undergrowth to join up with other elements of the battalion when it became engaged with the enemy.  During the opening minutes of the battle, the battalion and company commander became casualties.  The young radio-telephone operator (RTO) had the only source of communications with higher headquarters.
   Through radio communications with Maj. Guy S. Meloy, 1/27th commander, Specialist Wallace was credited with holding the company together and enforcing strict fire discipline.
   "I spent the whole night talking to him," Maj. Meloy said.  "He was scared out of his wits but he kept that company organized and followed instructions".
   During that night, the Viet Cong continually probed the perimeter, trying to locate the company's exact location.
   "I told him to pull his perimeter in tight and not to fire unless I gave the order," Maj. Meloy said.  "Because he kept his men from returning the fire, the VC were never able to pinpoint his location."
   Throughout the night, Specialist Wallace offered encouragement to the men and aided the wounded.
   "I was so scared I couldn't think," Specialist Wallace said.  "I think it was a nightmare.  When elements of the 196th (Light Infantry Brigade) finally got to us, I almost cried with joy."


Page 2                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           November 18, 1966



Capt. John M. Harrington, HHC, 4th Bn, 31st. Inf. (Posthumously)
1st Lt. James F. Panzarella, Co A, 2nd Bn. 1st Inf. (Posthumously)
2nd Lt. Edward T. Dappen, Co A, 2nd 'In, 1st Inf.
PSgt. Donald B, Williams, Co C, 2nd Bn, 1st Inf.
SSgt. Russell V. Stith, Co A, 2nd Bn. 1st Inf.
Sp4 Manzie Glover Jr, HHC, 4th Bn, 31st Inf. (Posthumously)
PFC Richard A. Smith, Co A, 2nd Bn., 1st Inf. (Posthumously)

Capt. James L. Yoho, HHC, 196th Lt Inf Bde.

CWO Henry L, Luers, HHC, 196th Lt Inf Bde.


SSgt. Roland T. Levesque, Co A, 8th Spt Bn.

Capt. Mitchell L. Leeds, Co D, 3rd Bn, 21st Inf.
Capt. Franklin S. Pearce, Co C, 4th Bn, 31st 'Inf.
1st Lt. Joseph Calvallero Jr, Co C, 4th Bn, 31st Inf,
1st Lt. James E. Hanks, 769th MI Det.
SSgt. Charles W. Arivett, Co D, 3d Bn, 21st Inf.
SSgt. Willie T. Carpenter, Btry B, 3rd Bn,82nd Arty.
SSgt. John P. Carvalho, Co B, 3rd Bn. 21st Inf.
SSgt. Walt S. Cook, Co B, 3rd Bn, 21st Inf.
SSgt. Albert Hoover. Co C, 2nd Bn, 1st Inf.
SSgt. Malcolm E. Newton, Co A,, 2nd Bn, 1st Inf.
SSgt. Charles E. Salisbury, Co C, 2nd Bn, 1st Inf.
SSgt. Harry B. Taylor Jr, Co C, 4th Bn, 31st Inf.
Sgt. Ventura Cintron, Co A, 4th Bn, 31st Inf.
Sgt. Calvin A, Grams, Co B, 3rd Bn, 21st Inf.
Sgt. Joseph W. Hertz, Co D. 3rd Bn, 21st Inf.
Sgt. Earl West. F Trp, 17th Cav.
Sgt. Alois Williams, Co A, 2nd Bn, 1st Inf.
Sp4 Anthony T. Mazzuchi, Co C. 4th Bn, 31st Inf.
Sp4 Neil V. McColluin, F Trp, 17th Cav.
Sp4 George E. Papachronis, Co B, 2nd Bn, 1st Inf.
Sp4 Thomas A. Reiches, Co B, 2nd Bn, 1st Inf.
Sp4 Barney R. Rogers, Co A, 2nd Bn, 1st Inf.
Sp4 Robert A. Sroka, F Trp, 17th Cav.
Sp4 Vernon D. Wolfe, Co B, 3rd Bn, 21st Inf.
PFC Juan A. Rosa-Medina, Co C, 2nd Bn, 1st Inf.
PFC Edwin A. Stokes, Co C, 3rd Bn, 21st Inf.
PFC Michael L. Weber, Co C, 3rd Bn, 21st Inf.
PFC Joe J. Wright, Co B, 2nd Bn, 1st Inf.



   Dependent Care

   A serviceman gets a warm feeling when he knows his loved ones are well cared for and safe.
   American fighting men separated from their families because of an overseas assignment, or a service family assigned to a remote area, now have renewed insurance that dependents will receive adequate medical care.
   The military Medical Benefits Amendments of 1966 passed by the 89th Congress is now law.
   These benefits are for dependents of active duty, retired, and deceased members of the uniformed services, plus retired members of the Armed Forces.
   In a nutshell, the new health benefits fall into three broad categories:
   1.  Civilian outpatient care for the wives, children and dependent husbands of active duty personnel.
   2.  Civilian inpatient and outpatient care for retired members and their wives, children and dependent husbands of members who died while on active duty or in a retired status.
   3.  Institutional care, training, rehabilitation, and special education in civilian facilities for wives, children, and dependent husbands of active duty members who are moderately or severely mentally retarded or who have a serious physical handicap.
   The new law eliminates restrictions on types of hospitalization which may be provided dependents, such as treatment for nervous and mental disorders and chronic conditions.
   If used wisely, the Military Medical Benefits Amendments of 1966 should prove advantageous to the serviceman and his family, providing the necessary health care for wives and children of those wearing uniforms of this country's Armed Forces. (AFNB)


New Viet Reup Policy

   The Army is again offering a choice of stateside duty station and a guaranteed 12-month stabilized tour to Vietnam returnees who reenlist for four or more years.
   This option, dropped last July because of the buildup, is extended to E-6 s and below with less than seven years active service who complete a normal Vietnam tour.
   Individuals not due for separation may be discharged and immediately reenlisted before they leave Vietnam.
   Those eligible for separation because of enlistment expiration are given wider latitude.  They may reenlist before leaving Vietnam, or they may reenlist in the Untied States, or they may reenlist within three months after separation.


Your Suggestion Means Money

   The Army Suggestion plan now offers cash awards to both the military and civilians for adopted suggestions

Known as "Operation Teammate."  The plan is designed to attract increased participation in the program by all Armed Forces personnel.
   Soldiers of the "Tropic Lightning" Division having suggestions on methods or means to effect a greater efficiency and economy throughout the military establishment, should submit them on DA Form 1045 to G-1, ACoS.
   Further information on this program can be obtained from USARV Regulation 672301.
   Suggestions which are used result in savings to the government and a cash award for the individual concerned.


Hoi Chanhs (Ralliers) Tell Why They'd Rather Switch Than Fight

   (Editor's Note:  The "Chieu Hoi" (Open Arms) Program of the Government of Vietnam has brought in more than 12,000 former Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army members in the first eight months of 1966, all voluntarily returning to South Vietnamese government control.
   (Here are some comparisons, made by Hoi Chanh themselves, of their former way of life and life within the Chieu Hoi Program.)
   "In the North, even if we have money and we want to buy a radio set, we have to have papers signed by high ranking cadres before being able to buy it.  But here, I see all the soldiers own radio sets to listen to during their pastime."
   "When I compare the Government of the Republic of Vietnam and the people's life here, as I am living here now, I see that the people, even in the region of Pleiku which is the red-soil region, lead a standard of living which permits their children to have woolen sweaters, clothes and bicycles and even to go school every day.   They can eat when they are hungry and spend their money as they like.  For that matter, freedom here is immense.
   "Generally speaking we live under restriction.  Each man has the right to three meters of cloth per year.  Meat is rationed.  Rice is sold on presentation or tickets (ration cards).  For every 220 lbs. of rice produced by the peasant the VC allow him 33 lbs.
   They collect 66 lbs, as tax.  The remaining 121 lbs. go to different committees such as the country loving club, the committee for the building of the regime...  Each citizen of North Vietnam has to enroll to perform labor for two months per year.  He must provide his own food during that time.  They also force us to go to study at night.
   We have to learn about mass production, communist politics and its policy and some other subjects.  The purpose is to keep us busy all the time and we had no pastime.  We ate little and worked hard.  That's how the communists build their communist regime in North Vietnam.


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 The Vietnam Guardian.

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
Sp5 Jimmy Edwards  . . . . . . . . . Editorial Assistant
Sp4 Adrian E. Wecer  . . . . . . . . Editorial Assistant



Page 3                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           November 18, 1966


Co B Was Already Busy

   When the big fighting during Operation "Attleboro II" erupted near Tay Ninh last week, Co B, 1st Bn, 27th Inf, was already busy.
   Working along the banks of the Saigon River in a densely forested area, Co B found a hastily deserted VC base camp, a former way station for Viet Cong infiltrating through Vietnam via the Saigon River.
   In and around the camp site, the "Wolfhounds" found six structures.  At the same location were 1000 pounds of rice, 50 pounds of beans, a 55-gallon drum of gasoline, two bicycles, 12 sacks of tools suitable for chopping wood and digging trenches (all with Chinese markings) and five sampans, one with an outboard motor.


Viet Cong's Sad Sack

By Cu Chi Charlie

   A red-eyed, skinny VC looking like he'd been living on a mixture of LSD and Dog Biscuits gave himself up to a unit of the 25th Infantry "Tropic Lightning" Division yesterday.
   The unit immediately searched him and found a rusty zip gun, three rounds of 45 ammunition, a picture of Ho Chi Minh in Bermuda shorts and three dozen baseball cards.
   Upon questioning he said he didn't mind giving up the gun or the picture, but would like to keep the baseball cards.  It took a call to the commander of the capturing unit to get permission.
   The commanding officer said there had never been a precedent set for a situation like this, but he thought it would be all right.  The fellow also wanted to know if anyone had any cards to trade.
   It seems he had two Mickey Mantle and would like to trade one for a Don Drysdale.  He was told the information was classified and besides that it was football season.
   Before the VC would answer any more questions he insisted upon someone bringing him a beer.  Someone did.  In a new pop-top can.  It took a good hour to convince the VC it wasn't an American booby-trap.
   When asked if he ever killed any Americans, he said his leaders wouldn't allow him to carry a gun because one time he accidentally fired his weapon and put a bullet through 14 of his squad leader's baseball cards, which happened to be in his back pocket at the time.
   Upon further questioning it was learned that he used to be a messenger, but was relieved of that job too.  One time he was to deliver a message to Garcia, who ever he is, but got lost and wound up going on R and R to Hong Kong.  After an almost fateful attempt at being a cook (a can of peanut butter he threw into the fire exploded and burned down the mess hall), he was made the unit's official LP (leaflet policer).
   Every time the Americans would drop leaflets, he would have to pick them up before the Vietnamese people were able to read them.  In two months time he picked up than a more million leaflets, but got tired of it and used one of them to turn himself in.
   This Hoi Chanh is now in the 25th's POW camp picking up cigarette butts.  Incidentally, if anyone has any extra baseball cards to trade, visiting hours are between four and five any Wednesday.




PFC Falls Asleep On Viet Cong Mine

   If PFC James Buffington of Minersville, Pa., were a sleep walker, he'd be lucky to be around today.
   PFC Buffington did nothing more than sleep on a "harmless" coconut for two days and nights without realizing the shell of the fruit housed a Viet Cong anti-personnel mine.
   PFC Buffington set up his tent with three other companions while on a search and destroy mission with the 4th Bn, 31st Inf, 196th Light Infantry Brigade.
   "We began to walk about the area, preparing for the night's stand," PFC Buffington recalled.
   He laid down his back pack in which he carried two rolls of wire and a telephone directory over what he thought was an ordinary coconut.
   Then he settled down to his job of monitoring the radio.  For two days and nights he went about his job, sleeping, when relieved from duty, on the booby trap.
   When the coconut was discovered by a Vietnamese interpreter who "noticed a lump under the the pack," the faces of PFC Buffington and his companions reddened slightly.
   PFC Buffington promised himself that he will now clear the area before he pitches his tent - away from coconuts, of course.


Former VC Leads Populars

   Au ex-Viet Cong squad leader, tired of little or no pay, constant artillery strikes and little food, is now a Popular Forces assistant platoon leader just four months after turning himself over to government officials at Trung Lap.
   Nguyen Van Lon, 27, returned to the government because "I learned the Viet Cong's aim is to dominate my country and not to help it."  Lon walked into the Army, Republic of Vietnam, (ARVN) compound last July and told his story.
   Later, taken to Bao Trai, Lon was given a 45-day rehabilitation course.
   When he turned himself in, Lon told of terrifying artillery strikes whenever he and his unit moved, never knowing when he would be able to eat again and that he had not been paid in more than four months.
   His childhood sweetheart strongly influenced him to return to the government so they could be married and settle down.  They recently wed and are now living together at his present duty station.


VFW Adopts F Troop

   Post 8164, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), of Tewksbury, Mass., has adopted Troop F, 17th Cavalry, 196th Light Infantry Brigade.
   Certain members of the post had become acquainted with Troop F when it was stationed at Fort Devens, Mass., before joining the 25th Infantry Division in Vietnam.
   In a letter to members of Troop F, the post commander, Mr. Robert F. MacDonald said, "Our national leaders have announced our wholehearted support of the Vietnam war by the Veterans of Foreign Wars.  We, at the Tewksbury Post, however, feel that lip service is hardly adequate.  Consequently, with your permission, we would like to adopt Troop F."
   The men, of course, said yes.


Late Pay Call For Charlie

   Pay call for the Viet Cong will be late this month because the soldiers of the 25th have captured the paymaster.
   Co A, 1st Bn (Mech), 5th Inf, captured him during a recent search and clear operation 30 miles northwest of Saigon.
   The "Bobcats" were maneuvering through the dense jungle when a man cut off the road into a small peanut patch and attempted to flee.
   Lt. Richard O. Ward, 1st Platoon leader, grabbed him and turned him over to Capt. Jacques Gerard, company commander, for questioning.
   The man refused to talk for some time, but finally came around and admitted he was a Viet Cong.
   In his possession were 25,000 Vietnamese piastres.  He said the money was to pay the VC in the area.


Maj. Ronald Rabin, Capt. Donald Mandel CACHE IN - Capt.Donald M. Mandel (r), brigade surgeon, and Maj. Ronald Rabin, brigade intelligence officer, inspect cans of dried blood plasma, part of the biggest cache of North Vietnamese Army medical supplies ever seized by the 3rd Brigade Task Force.  Co B, 1st Bn, 35th Inf, uncovered the cache which included items from Japan, Red China, Romania, Bulgaria, East Germany, France and North Vietnam.  Included in the supplies captured were penicillin, dried blood plasma and morphine.  (Photo by Sp4 Dale Sutphin)



1/5 Finds 106 75 mm Rounds

   Elements of the 25th recently destroyed a large Viet Cong cache containing 106 rounds of 75mm recoilless rifle rounds and two rifles.
   Co A, 1st Bn (Mech), 5th Inf, was 25 miles northwest of Saigon when it encountered a trench line.  Dismounting armored personnel carriers (APCs), the "Bobcats" fired grenades into the area.
   The 3rd platoon had completed its search when Capt. Jacques Gerard, company commander, sent a Hoi Chanh (returnee) to their position.
   The Hoi Chanh, a recent returnee who was familiar with the area, walked around in the brush and pointed to an area on the ground.  Scratching away at the dirt, he uncovered a trap door.
   Sgt. Richard G. McLane asked for a pistol and jumped into the opening.  He immediately found a box of 30 magazines for a 30 caliber Thompson sub-machine gun.  Moving into the tunnel, he discovered two rifles wrapped in oilcloth.
   Unable to remove it all from the one close entrance, he instructed the men to dig.  Three holes were dug and the men extracted 106 rounds of Chinese 75mm recoilless rifle ammunition.  Along with the rounds, they found 124 fuses to be mounted in the nose of the mint condition ammunition, and 15 pounds of plastic explosive.
   The cache was set into the trench with a case of TNT and a cratering charge.  The explosion set off destroyed the ammunition, and the trench.


Page 4-5                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           November 18, 1966


[This issue of Tropic Lightning News was scanned from a bound library volume provided by the 25th Infantry Division Museum.  Portions of the photographs and stories on pages 4 and 5 are missing.  They were printed across the center of the 2-page-wide sheet and were hidden from sight because of the way the paper is bound into the book - the book could not be safely opened far enough to see that part of the page.]



Deep Paddies Fail To Stop Manchus
By Sp5 Wayne Brendt

   The 4th Bn, 9th Inf, which just returned from the Long An Province, had the Viet Cong on the run during Operation "Lanikai."
   1st Lt. Paul E. Turner, platoon leader of Co. B, noted that by forcing the VC to keep constantly on the move we made him concentrate on self survival, and this demoralized his troops."
   The Des Plaines, Ill. officer has had first-hand experience in the Ben Luc area, 18 miles southwest of Saigon.  During one mission, his men dropped unexpectedly from the air in a heliborne assault against a known VC area.
   As the American troops moved in, the Viet Cong fled in all directions, but not before Co B claimed two enemy killed, one wounded and another captured.
   The Viet Cong didn't want to be caught and went to all lengths to avoid it.  Before there were groups of 10 or more moving around to harass and tax.  Now they have broken up into groups of two and three.
   Lt. Turner said, "We kept the VC hopping.  We stopped taxation, the movement of supplies and kept the people from supporting the VC."
   The "Manchu" claim the biggest obstacle on the operation was the terrain.  During a recent operation, men disembarked from helicopters into what looked like a normal rice paddy.  The water was from nine to 12 feet deep.
   Sgt. Eugene L. Brown of Hebron, Neb., a squad leader with Co B, put it this way: "It's rough.  Every time you take a step you sink in deeper, but you know, when the shooting starts, you don't seem to notice the paddies."
   "At first it was very trying, but we got used to it," commented Lt. Turner.
   With Charlie running and the movement through the terrain hard, it could have been expected that morale would dip.  But as Lt. Turner said, "My men are informed.  We knew what we were doing and what we are fighting for.  Most important we know the good we are doing for the area."
   Sp4 Louis D. McCarter, a team leader with the 2nd platoon, stated, "If anybody's morale was messed up, it's Charlie's."

Photos by Sp4 James Pardue, PFC Vern Shibla


LAND HO - Manchus approach a welcome sight in Long An - dry land.


Medic in water KEEPING PACE - A medic keeps pace with his unit through knee-deep water.
Manchu infantryman plow through hazardous swamp. Patrolling swamp
Alert ALERT - Soldier keeps alert for Viet Cong in rice paddy.
SUSPICIOUS - A soldier forgets the water for a moment as he suspects VC activity nearby. Watching for enemy
Deep water NEW PROBLEM - A trooper from the 4th Bn, 9th Inf, finds combat is different in Long An; fighting from the waist up.



Page 6                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           November 18, 1966


2/14th Sgt. Saves Two, Leads Assault To Earn Silver Star

   Sgt. Ralph M. Graff, a squad leader for Co C, 2nd Bn, 14th Inf, recently was awarded the Silver Star for doing what he considers a part of his job.
   Sgt. Graff's unit was on a search and destroy mission near Tay Ninh, about 40 miles northwest of Cu Chi assisting the then newly arrived 196th Light Infantry Brigade.
   Co C had engaged a Viet Cong force the day before and had come out on top after a long fight.  This day they were back in the same area in search of the rest of the force.
   Sgt. Graff's squad had taken the point as the company moved through the jungle.  Without warning, the still air was split by the crack of a rifle.
   Within minutes, the point squad found itself locked in fierce fighting with a well-concealed enemy force of superior number.
   Disregarding the intense fire throughout the area, Sgt. Graff moved forward to his two wounded point men.  He quickly administered first aid and dragged one man back to the platoon medic for further treatment.
   Again without hesitation, he traced his route through the dense undergrowth to bring back the second wounded man.  Halfway there enemy fire from the ground trees forced him to stop and return fire until the enemy weapons were silenced.
   Sgt. Graff reached the wounded man, found him unable to move, and carried him to safety.  The sergeant then returned to his squad and led his men in a maneuver to relieve another squad that had been pinned down.
   When the day was over, Sgt. Graff had saved the lives of two men and contributed to the success of the assault on the enemy's position.


Recon by Chopper Big Aid

   Photo reconnaissance pilots of the 2nd Bde proved their value to the division again recently.  Armed with cameramen and OH-23 helicopters, their work permits assault pilots to study flight areas several days before their mission.
   Photo reconnaissance flights decrease time involved in placing and withdrawing ground troops in combat zones, and thus quicken the punch of the "Tropic Lightning" division.
   The OH-23 helicopters fly to an altitude of 3000 feet where they circle and recircle the future assault areas, diving in for close-up photos of tree lines, banking for over-all shots of the landing zones and dodging occasional enemy fire.
   Pictures of the area are then presented to the assault helicopter pilots who, after careful study, become closely acquainted with their area of interest.
   Photo reconnaissance pilots are experienced aviators with more than 1000 hours of flying time.  Warrant Officers James R. Hamilton, 22, of Veroma, Ky., and Jeareld Miller, 20, of El Paso, Tex., are perfect examples and have more than 500 flying hours in combat.  Both men have been awarded Air Medals with more than 10 Oak Leaf Clusters.


GONE FOREVER - Large accumulation of rain at Cu Chi is beneficial, but those days are just about over as the monsoon season drizzles to a close.  The road dirt and mud that deposits on the trucks used to be washed off by backing trucks into the ditch. Washing the trucks



Hueys, A1Es
    Specialist Finds VC 'Air Force'

   Sp4 Troyondis Brown, a rifleman with Co C, 4th Bn, 9th Inf, "Manchu" had his own Air Force, at least for a little while.
   The Knoxville, Tenn., soldier was on a sweep during Operation "Lanikai" through a known VC area in Long An Province.  He was looking for suspects and searching buildings when he came across a typical Vietnamese hut.  Specialist Brown entered the building for a look.
   At first glance the little thatched hut resembled many of the others he had searched earlier but then be spotted something lying on a table near one wall.
   "Come quick," the young specialist yelled to his fellow soldiers and they came on a dead run expecting trouble.
   Instead of danger they found a dozen tiny clay models of U.S. helicopters and war planes.  There were UH-1D "Huey" helicopters, Chinooks. and different types of fighters that were later identified as A1E and A1H attack aircraft.
   The models were made of clay, molded over slivers of hard bamboo and stuck together with an expert's touch.  As Specialist Brown put it, "They were too well made to be toys and they were all in that one area."
   Specialist Brown and his friends gathered up samples of "Brown's clay Air Force," turned them over to the platoon leader and continued their mission.
   Later in the day, 1st Lt. Robert E. Patterson of East Liverpool, Ohio, the platoon leader in charge of the sweep turned the models in to the intelligence section of the 9th Infantry.
   They informed the lieutenant the innocent little Air Force was actually a group of Viet Cong training devices   used to demonstrate how to shoot down American aircraft.


Tay Ninh Like Home - Almost

   "I just don't believe it," remarked a member of "A1pha Company as he looked across the acres and acres of tall grass, trees, and ant hills of his new home in Tay Ninh Province.
   This was in August when the "Gimlets" of Co A, 3rd Bn, 21st Inf, a part of the 196th Light Infantry Brigade, had just moved into their new base camp.  The long boat ride from the States was over, and now the hard work of making a permanent base camp began in earnest.
   The area looked impossible.  After weeks of hard work the men of Alpha company began to wonder which was easier, sweeping through wet paddies and jungles in search of "Charlie" or working on the base camp.
   But it paid off in the end.  Now when the men of Co A return from the field a degree of comfort which closely parallels garrison conditions at many stateside posts awaits them at base camp.  Each squad is billeted in a prefabricated tent with screen sidings and a screen door.
   The sides of the billets have been painted grey and trimmed with white.  Palm trees have been planted along the company street.  A trench network has been dug around each tent and throughout the the company area.  They serve as drainage ditches and protection against enemy mortar attacks.  An eight-man field shower has been built in the rear of the company.  A well has been dug nearby which pumps water for the shower.  Lights have been installed in each tent.
   Three months after their arrival in Vietnam the men of Co. A can look back and think of how the area looked when they first moved in and how it looks now.  All they can do is shake their heads and say, "l don't believe it."


Cong Don't Like Lt.'s Weapon

   Lt. Clarence D. Stamper and his 50 caliber machine gun just couldn't get together during a recent 25th operation in the Ho Bo Woods near Cu Chi.
   While Co B, 1st Bn (Mech), 5th Inf, conducted a sweep in the dense woods, Lt. Stamper's 3rd platoon came under fire from an entrenched 30 caliber gun.  One of the rounds damaged the 50 caliber weapon Lt. Stamper was firing from his armored personnel carrier (APC).
   He climbed through his hatch to fix it.
   Rifle grenades and automatic weapon rounds bounced off the armored vehicle and a fragment hit Lt. Stamper in the back.
   The Lieutenant was not hurt seriously and was back to duty the next day.  He was trying to fix the machine gun again when an enemy 57mm recoilless rifle round demolished the APC's weapon with a direct hit.  Lt. Stamper suffered wounds in the face, arms and hands but, as before not seriously enough to keep him from returning to duty.
   Now the lieutenant's APC is equipped with a brand new machine gun - one he says, will talk so much that the VC will not have a chance to fire back.


VERSATILE - It might not look like one of New York's best, but PFC Jack O'Savage and Sp4 Pete Toddeo of HHC, 1st Bde, do their best on the final coat of grey paint on the company's new "Indoor-Outdoor" theater.  The "penthouse" projection room is operated nightly by Sp5 Bob Clark who keeps the big shows roiling. PFC Jack O'Savage, SP4 Pete Toddeo



Page 7                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           November 18, 1966


Soldier Trips Dud VC Mine

   I'll never take a shortcut main as long as I live," exclaimed PFC Ruben Lee of Jersey City. N.J., of his harrowing experience with a VC mine while on a search and destroy operation with Co B, 3rd Bn, 21st Inf.
   "We had set up our temporary camp for the night.  My squad leader told me to go to the platoon command post to get water for my squad.  On the way back, I decided to take a short-cut through the tall grass and underbrush separating my squad's position from the command post.
   "About halfway through, I heard a small explosion behind me.  At first I thought I had been fired at so I hit the ground."
   "My platoon sergeant, SSgt. Holland Estepp of Norwood, Ohio, moved up to in position to see if I was hurt.  He immediately spotted a hole in the ground with smoke coming from it near where I was laying.  He told me he thought it was a mine.
   With his bayonet, Sgt. Estepp probed around the hole and uncovered a 60mm mortar round with a Chinese fuse.  The fuse had exploded when I stepped on it but had not detonated the mortar round.  When I realized what had happened and what would have happened if the round had gone off, I got pretty shaky.  Believe me I've learned my lesson.  I'll go the right way from now on."


Returned Grenade Saves 6

   PFC David Hennan, 20, of Farmington, Minn., and five other members of Co A, 1st Bn, 14th Inf, are still around thanks to his quick thinking and good throwing arm.
   Sniper and machine gun fire were pinning down PFC Hennan's platoon when he heard a pin pop behind a log and then heard his sergeant yell, "Grenade!"  Nobody had to tell PFC Hennan.  It landed in his lap.
   He grabbed the grenade and threw it back.  Three seconds more and he and his five buddies wouldn't have been around to talk about it.


1/14 Tests Ladder Approach

   Thirty-six men of Co C, 1st Bn, 14th Inf, came out of the sky from a CH-47 "Chinook" helicopter via a 60-foot flexible aluminum troop ladder recently.
   Only a practice session this time, the 3rd Bde Task Force plans to use ladders to drop troops into areas where terrain prohibits landing of helicopters.  The same system can also be used to extract men from a landing zone.
   The men boarded the chopper at the brigade's forward command post and within a few minutes the Chinook was airborne and the ladder was dropped.  The men all made their descent without any trouble but seemed pleased when their feet touched the ground.
Chinook Assault



Night-Eyes Coming at 3rd Bde

   The men of Co. D, 725th Maint. Bn. are working around the clock to give the 3rd Brigade Task Force armor elements a new set of eyes.  The name of the unit's project is "Project Night-Eyes."
   The purpose of the project is the installation and modification of new night vision equipment for the M48A3 tank.
   "Xenon," the name of the new searchlight system, has 150 million candle power.  The light produced by the new searchlight system can be clearly seen in bright daylight.
   The two men in charge of the project are Frank Marciante and SFC Aaron Bert, both from Frankfort Arsenal, Philadelphia.
   The searchlight is called "Night-Eyes" because of the infra-red devices which, when used, enable the tankers to see without being seen.
   Sgt. Harold R. Brewer, a tank commander of "Charlie" Troop, 3rd Sgdn, 4th Cav, thinks the project is "the best thing that I have seen to keep the doggone VC from sneaking up on us."
   Talking to some of the other men in the tank units, they all agreed on the same answer, "It's the best thing to come along since bubble gum."
   The 3rd Brigade Task Force is just the first stop for the "team" from Pennsylvania.
   Their next stop will be Cu Chi.  They will be making stops throughout the country to assist all American armor units in learning how to use their "new eyes."


Didn't mind the air strikes or the tanks, but when I saw the female nurse at the MEDCAP, I knew we were all through!




1st Brigade


   SSgt. James G. Lanier, assistant battalion operations sergeant, got the chance to become qualified as a midwife when he recently helped the Tactical Operations Center cat, "Hobo," during delivery.  Actually the cat did most of the work.  But when Sgt. Lanier discovered the tiny animal starting to deliver, he grabbed a nearby box, placed an old pair of fatigues inside and made Hobo more comfortable.
   Ho Bo, who was discovered and returned to friendly control on Operation "Wahiawa," was a VC cat of sorts.  Co C picked her up but she soon staked out the TOC as her permanent residence.
   The personnel at the TOC are now caring for three new guests: Tango, Oscar and Charlie.

2nd Brigade


   Two officers were recently presented their silver bars during promotion ceremonies.  Congratulations to new 1st Lts. David R. Becerra of Co A and Raymond A. Szarek of HHC.


   Seventeen Wolfhounds were promoted within the enlisted ranks this week.  Receiving their fourth stripe and the rank of staff sergeant were: Gerald Byrd, Sonny L. Cecil, Bythel L. Nutt, Charles E. Peterson, Richard F. Bitch, Charles I. Taylor, Joe Uidner and Robert T. Young.
   New sergeants include: Harry E. Bindle, Carlton R. Cox, Stanly C. Foster, James E. Hannum, Gordon. M Prior Jr., John K. Puffenberger, Monty R. Riggs, Roger C. Teague and Raymond E. Wright.
   A total of $2470.15 has been donated to the Wolfhound Orphanage by members of the battalion.  Co. B topped the list of contributors with $1130.

3rd Brigade

   Adm. D.C. McDonald, chief of Naval operations, visited the 3rd Bde Task Force forward command post recently.  He was briefed by Col. James G. Shanahan, brigade commander, on ground combat operations and the significant role played by the brigade in the Vietnam central highlands.
   The admiral also visited the 2nd Bn, 35th Inf, where he was briefed by Lt. Col. Phillip Feir, the "Cacti Blue" commander, on unit tactics employed in the area.

196th Lt Inf Bde

Troop F, 17th Cav

   Troop F has a song of its own thanks to PFC Anthony V. Sperlazza of Howard Beach, N.Y.
   The 23-year-old grenadier put it this way: We often go out on two or three-day missions.  Trying to stay awake at night in my foxhole, I make up songs.  This song is about our troop and what we go through."
   Called "F Troop," the ballad is sung to the tune of "This Land is My Land".  With the assistance of SSgt. David M. Morris who sings and and plays his guitar, it is becoming increasingly popular among the cavalry troopers.


Page 8                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           November 18, 1966


Captain Wins 'Star' in Tay Ninh Fight

   The commanding officer of Co A, 2nd Bn, 27th Inf, "Wolfhounds" was awarded the Silver Star Medal for gallantry in action during the fiery action recently near Tay Ninh..
   Capt. Robert F. Foley of Belmar, Mass., was decorated for leading his company against an enemy bunker perimeter in an effort to free a sister company which was pinned down by the enemy's heavy fire for more than 35 hours.
   The stranded company was caught in a circle of fire on November 4 and was held at bay through the night.
   Early on November 5, Capt. Foley led his men towards the trapped company about 200 yards away.  Co A marched 70 yards unchallenged before it was hit by a large number of automatic weapons, carbines and rifle grenades.
   Almost immediately, a machine gunner near Capt. Foley was wounded.  The captain picked up the wounded man's gun and led an assault to within 10 yards of the enemy bunker positions.  Heavy fire threw them back but the captain tried several times to penetrate the bunker line although he was wounded.
   After several hours of tireless efforts, the captain pulled his men back for reinforcements before successfully reaching the stranded unit.


Reconnaissance Sgt. Outsmarts Viet Cong

   The quick thinking of SSgt. Polland E. Lawrence of the 196th Light Infantry Brigade's Co C, 3rd Bn, 21st Inf, turned a routine reconnaissance patrol into a rout of the VC.
   The seven-man squad had just completed a recon of its ambush site for the evening and was returning to the base camp when one of the men reported hearing Vietnamese talking off to the right.
   "Our mission was to recon the area and avoid contact," Sgt. Lawrence said.  "But these Viet Cong were too close to our prospective ambush site to ignore."
   The squad moved quietly and spotted five Viet Cong with weapons sitting around a tree, listening to a radio, talking and eating.  They all had weapons and were dressed in back shorts or pajamas."
   "I again radioed my platoon leader and he gave me the word to take them," Sgt. Lawrence said.  "My squad opened fire on the VC, killing all but one, who, although wounded, escaped through a rice paddy and to the jungle."
   As Sgt. Lawrence , and his men pursued the fleeing VC, sniper fire erupted from a woodline across the rice paddy.  Artillery was called in.  The snipers broke contact, moved deeper into the wood and disappeared.
   The patrol captured two rifles, several hand grenades, an odd assortment of clothing and equipment and 6726 piastres.



Capt. Roth Talks on OCS Leadership

   (This is the first in a series of personal interviews with OCS graduates.)

   "Leadership is greatly emphasized at Infantry OCS, " says Capt. Gary E. Roth, commanding officer of the 25th Admin Co, a 1962 distinguished Infantry OCS graduate from Ft. Benning, Ga.
Capt. Gary E. Roth   Each candidate has the chance to serve in command positions in class platoons and company slots.   At the end of the course, a candidate's final class standing is determined through an average of academics and leadership merits.
   Perhaps the toughest test, explained Capt. Roth, is that of physical stamina.  "During the first 18 weeks of the 24 week course, we double timed everywhere.  Each day we could look forward to rigid PT."
   During his enrollment, the school's slogan was "Cooperate and Graduate."
   The capitain recalls that for several days he continued to get demerits for his bunk during inspections.  Finally he approached a "tac" officer and asked why.
   "There's nothing wrong with your bunk," the officer said.  "It's your buddy's bunk that's wrong!"
   Capt. Roth named two qualifications he feels necessary of a candidate today.  First, he must understand the enlisted man and how to deal with people tactfully.  Second, a candidate must know how to organize his time effectively to meet the stiff requirements.
   Recommending OCS, Capt. Roth points out that candidates enjoy greater responsibility and prestige.


New Cmdr. At C/1/14

   Capt. A.M. Federline Jr., 29, assumed command of Co C, 1st Bn, 14th Inf, at ceremonies held recently at the Company's forward command post on Operation "Paul Revere IV."
   The men stood in formation as the outgoing commander, Capt. Thomas A. Simcox, 28, presented the company colors to Capt. Federline.
   Capt. Federline was previously the battalion adjutant.



ASST. C of S. - G-3



PFC Saves Lieutenant's Life

   PFC Robert Ligans, 19, of Dallas, Tex., is a radio-telephone operator for 1st Lt. James K. Bainbridge, a platoon leader with Co A, 1st Bn, 14th Inf.
   Recently he saved the lieutenant's life.  Lt. Bainbridge was advancing down a steep hill and was under enemy fire.
   The area was covered with vegetation which limited visibility from three to four feet, making it difficult to determine the enemy location.
   Just after he crawled past a large log, the lieutenant heard shots from PFC. Ligan's weapon.  The shots had been fired at a North Vietnamese soldier who had been hiding in a dip under the log.
   The young radio operator had shot the NVA just as he was ready to take a shot at the platoon leader.
   The enemy soldier and PFC Ligans were only about three feet away when the incident occurred.  Said Lt. Bainbridge afterwards, "In a situation like that, you are kind of glad you have someone like PFC Ligans behind you."


'Gimlets' Give Party

   It was fun for all at the Cao Xa school recently; as the 3rd Bn, 21st Inf, "Gimlets" threw a party that the local youngsters would remember for a long time to come.
   The school children greeted Capt. Emil C. Gregg of Hazeltown, Pa., and his men with a group song.  Soldiers and children mingled and became acquainted.  Each child received from the men a book bag, paper and writing supplies.
   Next, games of tug-of-war, sack races and apple dunking had children and soldiers alike playing gleefully.
   Capt. Arturo M. Sanchez, the battalion civil affairs officer, coordinated the civic action program with Father Du, the religious leader of Cao Xa.
   The lack of supplies at the Cao Xa school prompted the "Gimlets" to contribute food, clothing, and school desks.  In the future other companies of the battalion will undertake similar programs at the school.


3/21st Snags Viet Cong Equipment

   Stealth and good discipline paid off recently for a platoon of infantrymen from the 196th Light Infantry Brigade "Chargers."
   Co A, 3rd Bn, 21st Inf, were moving through thick jungle to a new ambush site when they spotted five Viet Cong grouped together eating breakfast.
   1st Lt. Thomas J. Ruffing of Pittsburgh and two men of his platoon edged cautiously toward the unsuspecting enemy.  When they saw the Americans, the VC broke into a run for the jungle.
   Sp4 Lloyd Jones of Oakland City, Ind., and Sgt. Garland Thomas of Weldon, N. C., along with Lt. Ruffing, downed three VC.
   Co A moved into the deserted clearing and gathered up three rifles, some grenades, clothing, rice, canteens, and a first aid kit.


Thanks to:
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.

This page last modified 11-25-2007

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