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Vol 2 No. 44            TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS            November 6, 1967



Unit                   Page Unit                  Page Unit                  Page Unit                  Page
1st Bde                     6 1/27                        3 2/14 Photo              6 25th Avn Bn            8
1/5                           1 1/27                        3 2/14                        6 25th DISCOM        3
1/5                           1 1/27                        3 2/14                        8 25th Signal Photo    4
1/5                           3 1/27 Photo              3 2/22                        3 25th Signal Bn         4
1/5                           6 1/27 Photo              8 2/27                        1 25th Signal Photos   4
1/5                           6 12th Evac                3 2/27 Photo              1 3/22                        1
1/5 Photo                 7 2nd Bde                  6 2/27                        8 3/22                        3
1/5                           7 2/12                        3 2/77 Arty                3 4/9                          3
1/5 Photos               7 2/12                        8 2/77 Arty Photos    3 4/23                        1
1/27                         1 2/12 Photo              8 2/77 Arty                8 40th Det                  3
1/27                         1 2/14                        6    


Hounds Smash VC Force
20 Killed, 18 Weapons

   A company-size infantry unit from the 25th Div clashed with a Viet Cong force 45 kms northwest of Saigon, killing all 20.
   The battle was a result of an eagle flight by the 1st Bn, 27th Inf "Wolfhounds", during the 2d Bde Operation "Kolekole."
   Two Americans received minor wounds in the fight.
   The combat assault, a shock-action heliborne move by four platoons, initially resulted in no enemy contact.  As the soldiers swept through the objective, LTC Fremont Hodson, then 2nd Bde executive officer from Atlanta (see XO, page three) spotted what he said appeared to be several Viet Cong to the west of the assault force.
   Circling low in his command helicopter, Hodson discovered a full twenty man platoon fleeing the infantrymen to their east.
   As helicopter door gunners blazed away to keep the enemy in the area, Hodson called in gunships of the 187th Assault Helicopter company.
   On the ground, LTC David Hughes of Colorado Springs, wheeled his unit westward and engaged the enemy force.
   Observers in the air said many of the Viet Cong lay on their backs to fire at the helicopters and then rolled into position to fire at advancing troops.
   Soldiers on the ground reported fighting at times as close as five meters to enemy positions.  When the ninety minute battle ended all 20 enemy soldiers had been killed and 18 weapons captured.
   These included five AK-47 assault rifles, four M-1's, two .45 pistols, a RPG-2 rocket launcher and a Browning Automatic Rifle.
   U.S. soldiers also captured 5000 rounds of small arms ammunition, fifty grenades, eight rocket launcher rounds and eighteen handmade rifle grenades.
   Documents indicated that a Viet Cong platoon leader had been killed and that the unit was probably part of a military affairs company based in Ben Can District.


Soldiers Go One Step Further-Donate To Needy

   The 25th Inf Div's 2d Bde has a new way of helping underprivileged Vietnamese, and its soldiers are responding with Infantry-style enthusiasm.
   Begun by the unit's Civil Affairs section, the Warrior Civic Action Fund is based on the idea of giving each man in the brigade a chance to do just a little bit more for the Vietnamese people who are too poor to help themselves.
   Civil Affairs officer MAJ Donal Royal of Chattanooga, Tenn., explained, "There just aren't enough official funds to do the hundreds of things that need to be done in Hau Nghia Province."
   "Building materials, especially for schools, nurseries and hospitals, are often unavailable because of the demands of war," he said.
   A voluntary collection is taken up every month and officials say the response has been very encouraging.
   In the first two months, "Warrior" soldiers of the 1st and 2d Bns, 27th Inf and the 1st Bn (Mech), 5th Inf have contributed more than $1700.
   Fund money has already purchased clothing for orphans in the province, and plans call for extensive aid to local schools and hospitals.
   "One of the best features of the fund," says Royal, "is that any soldier in the Brigade can suggest a project."
   COL Edwin W. Emerson, brigade commander from DeLand, Fla., says he is proud of his men's contribution.
   "Here's an Infantryman who spends 24 hours a day on combat operations," he said, "and still goes that one step further."

Wolfhounds ford flooded road
JUST KEEP MOVING - "Wolfhounds" of the 2d Bn, 27th Inf, move down a monsoon-flooded road 34 kms northeast of Saigon.  The 25th Inf Div soldiers are taking part in the 2d Bde Operation "Kolekole."   (Photo by SP4 Joe Carey)



Excuse Me, You Seen Charlie?

   DAU TIENG - A Viet Cong looking for a lost buddy found the wrong man north of the Michelin Rubber Plantation.
   While with the reconnaissance platoon of the 3rd Bn, 22nd Inf, SP4 Denny Brock of Cincinnati, had just opened his C-rations when he heard a twig snap behind him.
   Turning, Brock saw a black-shirted Viet Cong.
   "He must have been looking for a buddy," said Brock. "When I turned around I heard him call a name."
   Grabbing his rifle, Brock fired sending him scurrying.
   "If he was looking for a friend," continued Brock, "I'm not one."


Mech Specialist Jack Of All Trades
Mortar, Rifle And Radarman, Cook, Driver

   One 25th Inf Div soldier is a very unique person.  He's virtually a one man infantry company.
   SP4 Guadalupe Lopez of Corpus Christi, Tex., says he probably holds the record for being trained in the most military specialties.
   Lopez joined the Army Reserve in 1964 and after basic infantry training was trained as a mortarman during eight weeks of advanced training.
   Returning to his hometown unit, he discovered that they had been ordered to turn in all their heavy weapons.
   "That left me without a job for a short time," said Lopez.
   "To keep me busy they sent me to an eleven week school on small radar sets."
   For the remainder of his time in the reserves Lopez stayed with the radar.
   In 1966, he enlisted in the Regular Army and was assigned to a mechanized unit at Fort Ord, Calif., as a "inech infantryman".  But several months after he arrived, the unit sent their armored personnel carriers to Vietnam and once again he was left in the cold.
   "This time I was sent to an eight week cook's school where I learned everything from baking a cake to frying eggs," Lopez said.  "This time I figured I'd stay a cook."
   When Lopez received his Vietnam orders in 1966 he found that the Army needed his skills as a mortarman.  But after arriving in-country and being assigned to the 1st Bn (Mech), 5th Inf he found he was needed more as an armored personnel carrier driver.
   "Since I've been over here," he says, "I've done a little cooking, run the radar sets a few times, helped the mortar crews out, and gone on sweeps and ambushes as a rifleman.  I did this while I wasn't busy driving."


Rather Switch Than Fight

   A Vietnamese changed his allegiance recently: a switch the men of the 4th Bn, 23rd Inf greatly appreciated.
   The incident occurred while the unit was providing security for the Rome Plows in the Ho Bo Woods, 56 kms northwest of Saigon.  A man came out of the brush and approached the soldiers waving a safe-conduct pass.  He announced through an interpreter that he wanted to turn himself in under the "Open Arms" program.
   The Hoi Chanh agreed to lead the infantrymen to his weapon, hidden in the woods.  About ten meters from the treeline he stopped and pointed out the location of an anti-tank mine.
   Once in the woods, he paused three times to disarm butterfly bombs he said he had set up the week before and neutralized another boobytrap before reaching into the underbrush and surrendering his weapon.
   The man explained that he had rallied because of the great pressure American forces were putting on the Viet Cong in the area.  The Ho Bo Woods is currently the scene of the 1st Bde, 25th Inf Div's Operation "Barking Sands."


Page 2                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           November 6, 1967



   Our reliance is in the love of liberty which God has planted
in us.  Our defense is in the spirit which prized
liberty as the heritage of all men, in all lands everywhere.
Destroy this spirit and you have planted the seeds of
despotism at your own doors.

1 LT Henry W. Sterbenz, Co B, 3d Bn, 22d Inf
2LT Robert S. Rothberg, Co A, 2d Bn., 14th Inf
PSG Walter L.,Takamori, HHC, 2d Bn, 12th Inf
SP5 Clifford E. Bridges, 45th Med Co (AA)
SP4 Lester C. Powers, Co B, 4th Bn, 9th Inf
PFC Jimmy B. Martin, 45th Med Co (AA)

CPT Larry G. Powell, 45th Med Co (AA)

MAJ Douglas H. Farmer, HHC, 2d 12th Inf
SSG Carey J. Ogletree, Co A, 2d Bn, 14th Inf
SP4 Thomas C. McBrearty, B Trp, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav
SP4 Hollis E. Kearns, Co A, 2d Bn, 14th lnf
PFC James J. Lewis, Co B, 3d Bn, 22d Inf

LTC Kenneth D. Cowan, HHC & Band, 25th Discom
LTC Jere W. Sharp, HQ & Co A, 725th Maint Bn
MAJ Robert E. Ayers, HHC, 65th Engr Bn
CPT John E. Napper, Co C, 2d Bn, 12th Inf
CPT Robert E. Williams, Co A, 3d Bn, 22d Inf
1LT Walter C, Elliott, HHC, 2d Bde
1LT Albert R. Karel, HHC, 2d Bde
1LT Jerome J. Plamer, HHC, 3d Bde
1LT John W. Leek, 25th Admin Co
1LT William H. Hillis, HHC, 1st Bn (Mech), 5th Inf
2LT Thomas R. Howland, Co C, 4th Bn (Mech), 23d Inf
1SG Roosevelt Littlejohn, Co B, 2d Bn (Mach), 22d Inf
1SG Charles E. Gayles, Co A, 125th Sig Bn
MSG Patrick J. McGrath, HHC, 1st Bn (Mech), .5th Inf
1SG Donald R. Clark, Co B, 12th Inf
1SG Elbert Moore, HHC, 3d Bde
PSG William G. Wade, HHC, 2d Bn (Mech), 22d Inf
SFC Phillip H. Stevens, 25th MP Co
SFC Robert L. Forrester, Co B, 1st Bn (Mech), 5th Inf
SFC Dale L. Lowery, HH&S Btry, 3Bn, 13th Arty
SFC Juan R. Ramos, Co A, 1st Bn (Mech), 5th Inf
SFC Virgil W. Struckman, 25th MP Co
SSG Albert J. Brown Jr., HHC, 25th Inf Div
SSG Davere, HHC, 25th Inf Div
SSG John W. Fisher, HHC, 1st Bn, 27th Inf
SSG Curtis Lee, 25th Inf Div Arty
SSG Roderick M. Schuster, HHC, 65th Engr Bn
SSG Kenneth H. Kruse, Co A, 2d Bn, 12th Inf
SSG Francis S. Shearer, Co A, 2d Bn (Mech), 22d inf
SSG Raymond D. Weber, Co A, 2d Bn (Mech), 22d Inf
SSG Thomas H. Graham, Co B, 4th Bn, 9th Inf
SSG Raymond E. Levine, 25th Admin Co
SP5 Alvin H. Hale, D Btry, 3d Bn, 13th Arty
SP5 Willie B. Beverly, HHC, 65th Engr Bn
SGT Edgar L. Grizzle, Co C, 1st Bn, 27th Arty
SGT Ray Trepanoski, HHB, 1st Bn, 8th Arty
SGT Benjamin R. Martin, Co A, 2d Bn, 12th Inf
SP5 Felix W. Pasieka, HHC, 3d Bn, 22d Inf
SGT Norman W. Smith, Co A, 2d Bn, 12th Inf
SGT Andres Vasquez, Co B, 2d Bn, 12th Inf
SP5 Alvin A. White, HHC, 3d Bn, 22d Inf
SP5 Charles Berkheimer, Co A, 1st Bn (Mech), 5th Inf
SGT John R. Booth, HHC, 2d Bde
SGT David A. Brown, HHC, 2d Bde
SGT Roy Combee, Co A, 1st (Mech), 5th Inf
SGT Ray Trepanoski, HHC, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
SP4 William G. Sullivan, Co A, 2d Bn, 14th Inf
SP4 Charles R. Siebrasse, Co A, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
SP4 Thomas F. Langusch, Co C, 2d Bn (Mech), 22d Inf
SP4 Damion Farmer, HHC, 2d Bn, 27th Inf

SSG Joseph Oandasan, Co B, 25th Avn Bn
SP5 Charles E. Bowden, HHD, 125th Sig Bn
SGT Robert M. Conlon, HHC, 4th Bn (Mech), 23d jnf
SP5 Billie M. Nelson, Co A, 65th Engr Bn
SP5 Marshall R. Thomas, 25th Admin Co
SP5 Raymond R. Martinez, C Btry, 2d Bn, 77th Arty
SGT William A. lmhof, Co B, 125th Sig Bn
SGT Forest A. Pitre, C Btry, 2d Bn, 77th Arty
SGT Henry L. Robinson C Btry, 2d Bn, 77th Arty
SGT Robert J. Birk, HHC, 2d Bn, 12th Inf
SP5 Emile L. Caron Jr. HHC, 2d Bn, 12th jnf
SGT Gerald Schmidt, HHC, 2d Bn, 12th Inf



        Is Cambodia Neutral?

   Due to the proximity of Cambodia, it was felt that this article by the Armed Forces Information and Education. Department of Defense would be interesting. ED

   The Cambodian Government asserts that it follows a foreign policy of neutrality and that it seeks to promote friendly relations with all countries on the basis of reciprocity.  In practice, however, Cambodia has tended to follow major policies supporting the Communist line on major international issues and has strongly criticized U.S. policy, particularly in Southeast Asia.
   Cambodia's relations with neighboring Thailand and Vietnam are subject to suspicion stemming from centuries of conflict.  In recent years relations have been marked by sporadic flare-ups of feeling over border incidents, disputed territory, and alleged foreign intervention in domestic affairs.  Periods of tension have been accompanied by mutual recriminations in public statements and by the press.  Cambodia broke relations with Thailand in October 1961 and with the Republic of Vietnam in August 1963.
   The Cambodians assert that threats and provocations from Thailand and Vietnam have forced Cambodia to look increasingly to the Communist powers, especially Communist China, for support in case of aggression by these neighbors.  In addition, they have repeatedly called for international assurances of their neutrality and territorial integrity.
   Cambodia has accused the United States of complicity in the plots against her survival, allegedly hatched by her neighbors.  Cambodia broke diplomatic relations with the United States in May 1965, as the result of a border incident.
   The United States respects Cambodia's sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity and fully supports Cambodia's desire to remain neutral.  The United States accepted, regretfully, the Cambodian decision to sever diplomatic relations as the result of a border incident in which a Cambodian villager lost his life.
   The United States would like to see relations restored on a mutually beneficial basis, without preconditions.  Meanwhile, the United States remains deeply concerned over Communist use of Cambodian territory bordering Vietnam to support Viet Cong and North Vietnamese aggression against South Vietnam.
   The United States extended to Cambodia approximately $309.6 million in economic aid and some $83.7 million in military assistance from 1955 until the Cambodian Government terminated U.S. aid in 1963.  In the earlier years of independence, this aid was devoted to repairing physical damage resulting from the hostilities with Indochina, to the establishment and support of the military forces required to maintain internal security, to the stabilization of the disorganized economy, and to the expansion of some capital facilities needed to stimulate economic growth.
   In the last-named category the major project was the construction of a 130-mile, all-weather highway which, by linking Phnom Penh with a new French-financed port on the Gulf of Siam, gave Cambodia its first direct trade route to the outside world and also provides access to new lands capable of substantial economic development.


Youngsters reading Two youngsters try out their new reading skills on a 2d Bde Civil Affairs newsletter.  The unit is promoting extensive school support programs.  (Photo by SP4 Joe Carey)



Viet Cong Terrorism Hits Hard
Takes Away Natural Leaders

   The individual targets of Viet Cong terrorism are Vietnamese government officials, social or natural leaders in the villages and Americans in that order.
   A US survey of terror against GVN officials in the January to October 1964 period indicated that in almost every case the 429 village and hamlet officials assassinated and the 1482 officials kidnapped were people native to the village in which they served and were not Saigon appointees coming in from the outside.
   Civil servants, village officials, civilians holding some form of authority, these are the chief targets of the Viet Cong.  The assassination pattern appears to be directed toward the very best and the very worst officials, against the highly popular and effective government civil servant and against the most corrupt and oppressive local official.  Such a policy obviously stimulates mediocrity among civil servants.
   The second major target are the natural village leaders, those individuals who do not hold office but who, because of age, sagacity or strength of character, are the ones to whom people turn for advice and look to for leadership.  They may be religious figures, school teachers or simply people of integrity and honor.  Because they are superior individuals these people are more likely to have the courage to stand up to the Viet Cong when they come to their villages and thus most likely to be first victims of Viet Cong terror.  Potential opposition leadership is the Viet Cong's most deadly enemy.
   Steadily, quietly and with a systematic ruthlessness, the Viet Cong in six years have wiped out virtually a whole class of Vietnamese villagers.  Many villages today are virtually depopulated of their natural leaders.  Natural leaders are perhaps the single most important element in any society.  They represent a human resource of incalculable value.  This loss to Vietnam is inestimable and it will take a generation or more to replace.  By any definition, this is genocide.


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 San Francisco 96225. Army News Features, Army Photo Features, Armed Forces Press Service and Armed Forces News Bureau material are used. Views and opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Department of the Army. Printed in Tokyo, Japan, by Pacific Stars and Stripes.

Maj.Gen. F. K. Mearns . . . . . . . . . . . Commanding General
Maj. Bernard S. Rhees . . . . . . . . . . . Information Officer
1Lt. Larry Rottmann . . . . . . . . . . . . . Officer-in-Charge
SP5 Terry Richard . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   Editor
SP4 Dave Cushman . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Editorial Assistant


Page 3                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           November 6, 1967


Medevac Saves Mom and Baby

   Le Thi Thien My, a tiny Vietnamese baby whose name means "with the help of Americans" is resting well at the 12th Evac Hospital after 25th Inf Div soldiers saved her life and the life of her mother.
   The pregnant woman had walked five kilometers to the base camp of the 1st Bn, 27th Inf "Wolfhounds" to seek medical aid.  There SP6 Thomas Owens, a medic from San Antonio, Tex., found her in labor and apparently having trouble giving birth.
   He immediately called 1LT George Potter of Walnut Creek, Calif., the battalion's medical officer.  Potter requested an emergency medical evacuation helicopter.
   "She was in very bad shape when we put her on the ship," he said, "but the flight was probably her only chance."
   Fifteen minutes later the woman was on her way to the operating room where the baby was born.  Army doctors report that both mother and child are doing well and will soon be returned to their home.
   In thanks, the mother named the baby girl for the men who had saved both their lives.  The Infantrymen who first found her just call her their "littlest Wolfhound."


LTC Hodson
Mech XO

   One hour after he directed a 25th Inf Div heliborne assault that resulted in 20 Viet Cong killed, the executive officer of the div's 2d Bde was named as new commander of the first mechanized unit in Vietnam.
   LTC Fremont B. Hodson of Atlanta, assumed command of the 1st Bn (Mech), 5th Inf from LTC Chandler Goodnow of Keene, New Hampshire.
   He received word of his new command as he landed after co-directing the 1st Bn, 27th Inf "Wolfhounds" through a combat assault 64 kms northwest of Saigon.  The action resulted in 18 weapons captured and only two U.S. wounded in action.
   Hodson is a 1945 graduate of Infantry OCS at Fort Benning, Georgia, the Infantry Advance Course, the Armed Forces Staff College, and the Command and General Staff College.  He holds a Bachelor of Science, Degree from the University of Omaha.
   He holds the Bronze Star Medal with "V" Device, the Legion of Merit, the Army Commendation Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters and the Combat Infantryman's Badge.
   Hodson served with the 7th Inf Div during the Korean War; Headquarters, Third Army Headquarters in 1952; the 2d Inf Div in 1959; and was Secretary of the Joint Staff, MAAG, Republic of China before his assignment to the 25th Inf Div.
   He had been Executive Officer of the 2d Bde since August.
   Colonel Hodson is married and has three children.


Fast Strike Nets 3 VC

   An element of the 25th "Tropic Lightning" Div struck the hamlet of Tinh Phong, 18 kms northeast of Trang Bang in Tay Ninh Province like tropic lightning during a sweep of the area by the 1st Plt of Co B, 4th Bn, 9th Inf.
   The rest of Co B, commanded by CPT Alfred W. Baker of Oak Hill, W. Va., had met and scattered a Viet Cong force of unknown size just south of the hamlet the previous night.  The enemy, routed by 60mm mortars, had fled in the direction of Tinh Phong.
   "There were only three houses and a surrounding moat," said 2LT Jerry L. Nations, platoon leader from Olympia, Wash.  "We formed a half circle and moved in fast.  We found three VC hiding in reinforced concrete bunkers concealed by the houses.  The whole operation including blowing the bunkers only took 20 minutes and not a shot was fired."


89 Feet Up
     Observer Tower Rats
Photo and Story by SP4 Jerry Lubin

   DAU TIENG - Getting to work in the morning - rung by rung - is a regular occurrence for the "Tower Rats" of the 2d Bn, 77th Arty.
   Teams of six men, picked on a strictly volunteer basis, are assigned to a 24-hour vigil on one of the three observation towers at the Dau Tieng base, camp of the 3d Bde, 25th Inf Div.
   Other units participating in the tower system include elements of the 1st Bn., 27th Arty, 2d Bn, 12th Inf, 2d Bn, (Mech) 22d Inf, 3d Bn, 22d Inf and the 25th Div Support Command (DISCOM).
   Observers who man posts within the tower system are required to have an extensive knowledge of use of the M-2 Aiming Circle.  When centered on a suspected mortar position, an azimuth of fire can be determined from it and called in to the Artillery Fire Direction Center.
   The Dau Tieng "Tower Rats" must also be proficient in radio telephone operator procedures and must be able to successfully direct and adjust artillery fire to any given area.
   The highest point in the tower system is located at the top of the French-built water tower erected years ago for the Michelin Rubber Plantation.
   Each morning SP4 Paul Crumpton of Kansas City, Mo., SP4 Wayne Soprych of Chicago, and SP4 Chuck Wells of Chattanooga, Tenn., take up their posts 89 feet above ground.  The men reach their sandbagged positions atop the tower via a vertical steel ladder.
   Asked his feelings on the daily climb to work, SP4 Wells stated, "Getting up is only half the work.  When I started this assignment, I felt better going down again.  I like my feet on the around."
   To an observer, the "Tower Rats" have aptly earned their name.  Any fear of heights has been long overcome, and the men scramble atop their lofty perch with no concern.
   Asked about what measures the "Tower Rats" have available against enemy forces, SP4 Soprych replied, "Our only defense against Charlie is our speed and accuracy in adjusting countermortar fire."

Making corrections FINAL CHECK - Making corrections, the men of the 2d Bn, 77th Arty, prepare for a days work.
LONG HAUL - One of the "tower rats" descends the 89 foot tower. The tower is manned 24 hours a day. Descending the tower



VN Women Trained For Dental Aides

   The 40th Med Det (Dental Service) has been training five Vietnamese women to be dental assistants.
   The women, ranging in age from 18 to 27, are being instructed in an on-the-job training program.  Each girl works with one dentist most of the time, giving each an insight on what her particular doctor expects of her.
   Generally the girls work as a right hand for their doctors, arranging instruments for each operation, preparing mixture for fillings, and countless other small things the dentist needs help with.  One of the most important jobs for the young students is to see that the dentist is given instruments as he requires them during an operation.  The girls often have the instrument for him before the doctor calls for it.
   The assistants also serve as translators when Vietnamese patients are brought to the dental clinic on an emergency basis.
   The girls were chosen for the training according to their command of English and their interest in learning.  The Division Labor Office had many applicants for the training, but interviews with them narrowed the field to the five now being trained.
   The training program was set up as a Civic Action project.  The girls receive a stipend during their five-day-a-week training.
   Three of the girls are from the Cu Chi area, while two commute from Saigon daily.
   According to LTC Robert E. Ohlenbusch, executive officer of the detachment, the doctors are well pleased with the girls.  Ohlenbusch added, "There hasn't been one complaint from the troops."

Freddie Wilkerson CLOSE LOOK - SGT Freddie M. Wilkerson of Macon, Ga., scans a hedgerow for VC after fire broke out during a 1st Bn, 27th lnf "Wolfhounds" combat patrol.  (Photo by SP4 Joe Carey)



Page 4-5                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           November 6, 1967


Working on PBX


Voice of the 25th Div Signal Battalion

   The 125th Signal Battalion was organized August 26, 1941.  Its motto is "Leokani Okauwila" (Voice of Lightning).  It has 14 battle streamers earned during WWII and Korea.
   The mission of the 125th Signal Battalion is widely diversified.  Their primary job is, of course, to provide signal communications for division headquarters.  They are also responsible for establishing and operating the division's communication system.
   In addition, the 125th provides signal center service to all units located in the vicinity of the division area, service that is supplemental to organic facilities.
   The battalion also establishes and operates facilities which connect division artillery headquarters to the divisions area communication system.
   Other tasks for the battalion include the operation of the division ground messenger service, the taking and printing of all division photography, with the exception of aerial photography, providing still picture laboratory service for all divisional units, and performing third echelon maintenance of all cryptographic equipment in the division and organizational maintenance of signal equipment organic to their own battalion.
   The battalion also operates the Military Affiliate Radio Station (MARS) AB8AJ which enables 25th Division servicemen to make overseas telephone calls to their wives and families.  Truly the 125th Signal Battalion is the Voice of the 25th Infantry Division.

Photos by Signal Photo Lab






In the FM van



Page 6                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           November 6, 1967


Dragons' Foil Boobytrap Welcome

   "Welcome to the peaceful hamlet of Loi Don" read the crude wooden sign in Vietnamese.  A company of the 25th Inf Div found the place peaceful enough - it was deserted - but the "welcome" was typically Viet Cong - booby traps everywhere.
   Charlie Co of the 2d Bn, 14th Inf discovered the extensively fortified hamlet while on a sweep through the thick underbrush of the HoBo Woods, 56 kms north-northwest of Saigon.
   Carefully picking their way around 15 butterfly mines, the Dragonmen found several less deadly items: 75 pounds of rice, two bicycles, a small wagon, 40 cooking utensils, carpentry tools, 10 pieces of clothing, a home-made washing machine and an ancient battle-ax.
   The primitive washing machine consisted of two handmade metal buckets and a pair of granite rollers driven by hand-carved wooden cogs and gears.
   The crescent-shaped battle-ax was made of bronze and adorned with a dragon's head. Some Vietnamese believe axes of its type have supernatural powers.

VC WASH N' WEAR - SP4s Claude Seat of Dallas and Felix Rivera of Houston check an enemy hand-made washing machine found in the Ho Bo Woods by the 2d Bn, 14th Inf.  (Photo by SP4 Bill Wermine) SP4 Claude Seat and Felix Rivera




   Is modern technology always the best answer for a difficult problem?  For 25th Inf Div soldiers working in Hau Nghia Province, it's not.
   CPT Albert Amps of Mobile, Ala., an intelligence officer with the 1st Bn (Mech), 5th Inf recently received a report of 800 pounds of Viet Cong rice stored in a village close to the unit's base camp.
   The battalion has a continuing program of captured rice distribution to needy Vietnamese, so Amos decided to go after it.
   "We found the rice, all 800 pounds of it," said Amos, "but only half of it was in sacks."
   The 2d Bde soldiers borrowed bags from the villagers and began shoveling.  Soon the rice was all sacked.
   "The big problem came when we radioed back for transportation.  All the unit's armored personnel carriers were on combat operations," said Amos.
   After a little talking with villagers, one farmer loaned the men an oxcart, and another volunteered his two cows.
   The rice was loaded up and the rice patrol moved out with oxen pulling in front and soldiers pushing from behind.
   "The cart kept getting bogged down in the mud," said PFC Willie Warren, a grenadier from Muncie, Ind, "but we made it."
   The unlikely looking group finally reached the "Mech" base camp. Perimeter guards looked on amazed as the tired soldiers began to unload their prize.
   "The people who needed it so badly got their rice," said Amos, "but it never would have gotten there without the villagers and their simple means of transportation," said Amos before he returned the cart and oxen.


Just A Letter - 65 Feet Long

   Sixty-five feet of greeting from old friends recently met SP4 John M. Porter when he arrived at his unit's mail call.
   Porter is a chaplain's assistant at the 25th Inf Div's 2d Bde headquarters.
   "The letter came in a plain brown wrapper," he says, "and I was puzzled the minute I saw it."
   After unwrapping, the package produced a roll of paper with messages and greetings from the men of Parks Division, Toledo, Ohio, where Porter worked before entering the Army.
   "It took two of us to read it," explained the soldier, "one to roll out and one to roll in.  Before we finished it was spread all over the barracks."
   He says he plans to answer the letter with a longer one, but that it will probably take a long time to think up that much to say.


'See You Later'
     One Man Ambush

   A 25th Inf Div platoon leader whose ambush patrol ran into a Viet Cong campfire gathering, ended up in a gunfight with four Viet Cong recently 48 kms northwest of Saigon.
   2LT Joe Sample of Cusick, Wash., a member of the 1st Bn (Mech), 5th Inf's Co B, led his eighteen man patrol past the battalion's defensive claymore mines just before dark.
   The men had struggled through about six hundred meters of thick undergrowth when the point man, SSG Larry Wenzell of Elgin, Ill., heard noises to the front and halted the patrol.
   Sample hurried to the front of the column as the other men crouched silently into defensive positions.
   "There was just the faintest glimmer of light ahead," said the platoon leader.  "Sergeant Wenzell, the radio operator and I crept forward until the fire was just ahead, but the brush was so thick we couldn't see the people."
   After telling the other two to wait behind, Sample inched forward on his own.  He broke through the brush into a narrow trail leading to the fire.
   "That's about when I decided to go back for the others, but when I turned, there were four armed VC coming straight for me," he said.
   The Viet Cong snapped their weapons into position and fired first but missed.  Sample returned fire with his M-16 rifle and saw two men drop before he scrambled back to his men and formed a hasty defensive perimeter.
   After a wait, the patrol moved forward and found two enemy soldiers with carbine rifles and two blood trails running into the brush.


Money To Catholic VN Priest

   The bishop of Phu Cuong district made his first visit to the newly pacified hamlet of Phu Hoa Dong recently.
   Father Joseph Phan Thien became the district bishop early in 1966, but the VC threat in Phu Hoa Dong prevented him from visiting the parish there.
   Elements of the 1st Bde, 25th Inf Div, have pacified and relocated the village so that only one battalion of ARVN soldiers are needed to maintain the once VC stronghold.
   The occasion for the bishop's visit was presentation of 59,000 piasters ($500) to the church, from Catholics of the 25th Div.
   Following a mass given by Bishop Thien, Father John A. Barry, Division Chaplain, presented the money to the Bishop in a small ceremony.  The gift is to be used to carry on the church in Phu Hoa Dong.
   Services for the church are handled by an area priest, Father Joseph Phan, with the aid of chaplains of the 25th Div.


Only 8
Malaria Pills
Until Xmas



Pretty Powerful Poncho

   Like plainsmen of the old west, 25th Div soldiers have learned to "read signs" in order to avoid Viet Cong booby traps.
   The enemy often arranges branches, sticks or stones so that they point out the location of traps to those who know the code, thus preventing friendly casualties.
   These warnings take many forms.  For instance, the five clumps of earth in line with the fifth row of rubber trees that SP4 Fred Cope from Shickshimmy, Pa., spotted while moving along a trail in the HoBo Woods.
   Under the tree, the 2d Bn, 14th Inf, trooper uncovered a well-camouflaged poncho with a four-foot stick rising from it.
   A noose from the squad rope was gently laid over the stick and slowly drawn tight. After the squad had taken cover, the rope was pulled.  There was a tremendous explosion, and when the dust settled, there was a crater four feet deep and five feet wide where the poncho and stick had been.
   Battalion officials identified the device as an anti-tank "stick mine."  The protruding stick acted as the a trigger.
   After a wait, the patrol moved forward and found two enemy soldiers with carbine rifles and two blood trails running into the brush.


Page 7                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           November 6, 1967


Inflating the balloon
OPERATION INFLATE - While one man holds the balloon off the ground, others begin to put the gas generator into action.



From Leaflets to Fireworks -- Now Balloons
Story and Photos by SGT Roger Smith

   Civil Affairs soldiers of the 25th Inf Div's 2d Bde have used everything from leaflets to fireworks to entice Viet Cong into rallying to the government side.
   Now they're trying to do it with helium filled weather balloons.
   The idea, officials say, is to clearly mark the areas throughout Hau Nghia Province where the rallier can find allied welcoming points.
   Several ralliers in the past have told Brigade intelligence officers that they were afraid to approach heavily armed American base camps and didn't know where to go.
   With the balloons, backed up by intensive leaflet drops and airborne loudspeaker missions, officials say they have the problem licked.
   An example of the technique took place recently at a Vietnamese Regional Force outpost in the village of Thai My, northwest of Saigon.
   1LT Edger McKee of Atlanta, civil affairs officer for the 1st Bn (Mech), 5th Inf, and his team set up the marker.
   They used a helium gas generator to fill the balloon, then let it rise about fifty feet in the air.  In the flat ricelands of Hau Nghia they say the balloons are visible for many miles.
   The balloon at Thai My was large enough to spot easily, but many smaller ones, not as easy to see, are wrapped in brightly colored covers to make them more visible.

Anchoring the balloon TIE DOWN - Once the balloon is inflated it is anchored to a long rope tether.
MOVE OUT - When the balloon is up the gas generator is dismantled and taken to another point. Ready to move on



   The 208 page color and black and white yearbook is the story of the 25th Infantry Division from October 1966 to October 1967.
   It follows the Tropic Lightning Division operations through the Boi Loi and Ho Bo Woods, the Michelin and Filhol Plantations and the many nameless but not forgotten swamps and rice paddies.
   Price per copy is $4.00.  This includes prepaid delivery to each subscriber WITHIN the United States.  Delivery will ONLY be made in the United States.
   Payment may be made by American cash, check or money order.  Stamps, piasters, or MPC will not be accepted.
   All orders must be in no later than 1 December 1967.  Send your order to:
   Albert Love Enterprises, Inc.,
   P.O. Box 1000
   Doraville, Georgia 30040



Page 8                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           November 6, 1967


'White Warriors' Find VC Complex

   DAU TIENG - As Operation "Diamondhead" continues, 3d Bde, 25th Inf Div troops are finding a significant number of Viet Cong base camps and supplies.
   Recently, the 2d Bn, 12th Inf discovered several enemy base camp complexes northeast of the Michelin Rubber Plantation.  During a two day period, 46 bunkers were located by the "White Warriors".
   Penicillin, assorted medicine and a surgeon's mask were found in a well-built medical bunker measuring eight by eight feet.  Female clothing uncovered in the bunker indicated that the Viet Cong had used nurses in the base camp complex.  A quantity of Viet Cong uniforms were also captured.
   Ammunition uncovered at various locations included twenty-five RPG-7 rounds, twenty 60mm mortar shells, and 1 AK-47 automatic rifle.
   Freshly broken foliage and warm cooking pots in the area revealed that the Viet Cong had fled their sanctuary a short time before.
   As one unit was taking in medical supplies, another unit was giving them out.
   The shots came not only from needles in a doctor's hand, but from rifles wielded by a local VC during a MEDCAP held east of the base camp of the 3d Brigade.
   A team of medics from the 2d Bn, 77th Arty had been treating patients for about an hour in Hamlet No. 5 when a sniper decided to disrupt them.  Hitting the ground with their patients, the shots whistled overhead.
   "Seems like the VC just don't want us to help these people," said SP4 Perry Snyder of Cazenovia, New York.
   After an infantry patrol had been dispatched to silence the sniper, the MEDCAP continued, treating some 70 people.

PFC Robert Aparito READY FOR ACTION - PFC Robert Aparito of Long Beach, Calif., a member of the recon platoon, 2d Bn, 12th Inf, keeps a sharp lookout for the enemy.  (Photo by SP4 Joseph Hettermann)



2d. Bde Battalion Thankful To Persistent Vietnamese

   A little cooperation and a lot of wild sign language probably saved the lives of several 25th Inf Div soldiers recently 45 kms northwest of Saigon.
   Co C of the 2d Bn, 27th Inf "Wolfhounds" were securing a road building operation near the village of Trang Bang.  The project was part of the 2d Bde's wide-ranging Operation "Kolekole".
   SGT Dennis E. Neill of Pittsburgh, Pa., and his squad were checking houses along the road when one of his men spotted a hole in a nearby hillside.
   The men were just beginning to dig and probe into the small opening when a Vietnamese man came running up the road gesturing wildly.
   "We couldn't understand a word he was saying," said Neill, "but we could tell by his movements that something was wrong."
   After more protesting and signaling by the Vietnamese civilian, the men began digging very carefully.  Inside they found an eighteen foot bangalore torpedo explosive fused with demolition cord and ready to go off.
   The torpedo was disarmed and the man received the heartfelt thanks of Neill and his squad.
   "I hate to think of what might have happened if he hadn't been there," said the squad leader.
     Slightly - Used
   Three days later the same battalion scratched their heads a little and thought sometimes it's hard to believe your eyes in Vietnam.  Wolfhounds on a search and destroy operation on the edge of the Boi Loi Woods, came across the complete front half of a late model Chevrolet truck.
   Far from any roads, they said the vehicle was apparently the victim of an ambush and had been hauled into the woods.
   Chrome and engine parts were missing from the bullet riddled truck.


Holds 20 Tons
     Super Rack Built

   DAU TIENG - The 2d Bn, 77th Arty, maintenance section has constructed a vehicle rack used in maintaining the equipment of the unit.
   Using materials either issued or borrowed, WO1 John Andrican of Hibbing, Minn., and his crew built the rack capable of supporting more than twenty tons.
   "Our rack is designed for servicing all vehicles and is extremely useful and more convenient than crawling on the ground," commented Andrican.
   He personally engineered the rack and supervised the construction, placing the emphasis on safety.  Every part of the rack has double the accepted safety supports, with such features as twelve by fourteen inch support beams crossing between each leg.
   Measuring forty eight feet long, fourteen feet wide, runners four and one half feet wide, and standing room underneath it has well proven its capabilities.  Oiling and greasing are only two of the many uses of the rack.


Bullseye On Mortar Tube

   A mortar attack on a 25th Div unit recently resulted in a body count of two - both were Viet Cong probably killed by their own weapon.
   The four-round attack began as a CH-47 "Chinook" attempted to land and resupply elements of the 2d Bn, 14th Inf in the Ho Bo Woods, 56 kms northwest of Saigon.
   Gunships from the 25th Avn Bn, escorting the Chinook, immediately spotted one mortar position and swept it with rockets and machine gun fire.
   After the brief exchange, a search team from the "Golden Dragons" moved into the area.  They found the two VC lying beside their mortar tube, which had been blown apart at the muzzle.
   "The premature explosion could have been caused by a faulty round, or a bullet or rocket going into the tube," a battalion officer at the scene explained.

Captured weapons CAPTURED RESULTS - Soldiers of the 1st Bn, 27th Inf, look over some of the weapons captured when the unit clashed with a VC platoon.  (Photo by I LT Hugh Bell)



Thanks to:
Joe Carey, 25th Admin. Co., for sharing this issue,
Kirk Ramsey, 2nd Bn., 14th Inf. for creating this page.

This page last modified 07-31-2005

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