Vol 3 No. 06 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS February 5, 1968
|Unit Page||Unit Page||Unit Page||Unit Page|
|1st Bde 7||2/14 8||2/77 Arty 8||4/23 1|
|1st Bde 8||2/22 4||25th Inf 8||588th Engr 6|
|1/5 Photo 1||2/22 Photos 4||27th Land Clearing 1||588th Engr 7|
|1/5 6||2/22 7||3/4 Cav 7||588th Engr Photo 7|
|1/5 Photo 6||2/22 7||3/22 7||588th Engr 7|
|1/8 Arty 1||2/22 8||3/22 8||Cu Chi 8|
|1/27 Photo 3||2/27 1||4/9 3||Opn Yellowstone 1|
|12th Evac 3||2/34 Armor Photo 1||4/9 6||Red Cross 3|
|116th AHC 1|
Yellowstone Continues In War Zone C
|LOOKING FOR TROUBLE - A mine detector team from the 1st Bn (Mech), 5th Inf, sweep ahead of a 2nd Bn, 34th Armor tank during a search and destroy mission in War Zone C. The unit is participating in the 25th Div's Operation Yellowstone. (Photo by SGT Roger Smith)|
Infantrymen Kill 44 Cong In HoBo Woods
2ND BDE - Operation Saratoga infantrymen killed 44 enemy troops in two day-long battles throughout the HoBo Woods recently, while six more enemy died in scattered action throughout Hau Nghia Province.
The 2nd Bde soldiers further uncovered an underground storage room containing 271 RPG-2 rockets and 162 booster charges.
The two battles left three Americans killed and 21 wounded.
Elements of the 4th Bn (Mechanized), 23rd Inf, moving ahead of land clearing teams in the southern portion of the HoBo Woods, came in heavy contact with an estimated two companies of Viet Cong.
In the ensuing fight, punctuated by periodic lulls as the enemy tried to break contact, 8 communists were killed and two RPD-56 light machine guns, an AK-47 and an AK-50 assault rifle captured.
Armed helicopters poured fire on the enemy positions. Artillery from the brigade base at Cu Chi and from a forward support base of the 1st Bn, 8th Arty, pounded the communists. Air Force tactical fighters conducted two air strikes.
During a search and destroy mission three days later, infantrymen found a grave containing 36 more bodies.
In the second action, two companies of the 2nd Bn, 27th Inf "Wolfhounds," supported by helicopter gunships, systematically gunned down 20 communists in a day-long series of skirmishes in scrub brush, rice paddies and swamps at the western edge of the HoBo Woods.
Suffering only two wounded, the Wolfhounds rooted the enemy troops from spider holes, bunkers and tunnels as they conducted a search and destroy mission through the area.
Gunships from the 116th Aslt Hel Co killed five enemy soldiers as they attempted to escape.
Brigade intelligence officers identified the Viet Cong force as a company of the 1st Bn, MR IV Main Force Regiment.
The Wolfhounds captured two AK-47 and two SKS assault rifles, one CKC automatic weapon and a U.S. carbine, as well as numerous documents, web gear and ammunition.
In other actions, a 2nd Bde forward air controller flying over the Oriental River on a visual reconnaissance mission, came under fire from two Viet Cong in a sampan. He called for artillery fire which killed both enemy and sank the supply-laden sampan.
Members of the Combined Reconnaissance and Intelligence Platoon (CRIP), killed one communist, detained four suspects and captured two U.S. grenades in a brief skirmish in southern Hau Nghia Province.
Elements of Delta Co, 2nd Bn, 27th Inf, uncovered three communist bodies in fresh graves the day before their fight with the VC company.
The night before its battle, the 4th Bn, 23rd Inf, came under a heavy mortar barrage, but suffered no casualties. Communist gunners poured 115 rounds of 82mm mortar fire on the base camp, accompanied by light ground fire.
The U.S. troops returned fire with mortars, artillery, .50 cal. machine guns and other weapons, with unknown results.
The large cache of RPG rounds and booster charges was found by elements of the 27th Land Clearing Team and the 23rd Inf's reconnaissance platoon as they swept through an area in the HoBo Woods.
Hidden in a storage room within a small bunker, the rounds bore Chinese markings. They were later evacuated.
Page 2 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS February 5, 1968
|Distinguished Flying Cross|
MAJ Dale E. Snell, 116th Aslt Hel Co, 269th Avn Bn
1LT Frank S. Owen Jr., Co 8, 25th Avn Bn
1LT Justin C. Honaman, 577th Med Det (HA)
1LT Francis L. Briganti, 116th Aslt Hel Co, 269th Avn Bn
1LT Michael H. Adkinson, 116th Aslt Hel Co, 269th Avn Bn
|1LT Howard O. Sturgis Jr., 116th Aslt Hel Co, 269th Avn Bn
CW2 Jimmy Swindle, 116th Aslt Hel Co, 269th Avn Bn
WO1 Michael G. Grinot, Co B, 25th Avn Bn
WO1 Richard A. Price, 116th Aslt Hel Co, 269th Avn Bn
WO1 John H. Harrington, 116th Aslt Hel Co, 269th Avn Bn
Bronze Star Medal (Valor)
CPT William H. Coad, HHB, 3rd Bn, 13th Arty
CPT Lawerence Dimichele, Co A, 2nd Bn, 34th Armor
CPT Randall T. Elliot, HHC, 2nd Bn, 12th Inf
CPT Sidney P. Stone, HO Btry, 3rd Bn, 13th Arty
1LT David L. Wiesman, HHB, 2nd Bn, 77th Arty
1LT Bruce D. Jackson, HHC, 2nd Sn, 77th Arty
1LT Douglas B. Lawson, Co A, 2nd Bn, 12th Infantry
SGM Yukio Suenishi, HHC, 2nd Bn, 12th Inf
SSG Alfred L. Knopsnyder, Co C, 2nd Bn, 14th Inf
SSG Anthony Leibhart, HHC, 2nd Bn, 12th Inf
SGT David H. Moran, Co C, 3rd Bn, 22nd Inf
SGT Clyde K. Taylor, HHB, 2nd Bn, 77th Arty
SGT Gary R. Koenig, Co A, 2nd Bn (Mech), 22nd Inf
SP5 Horace A. Boyd, Co B, 25th Avn Bn
SP4 Michael J. Rupolo, Co A, 2nd Bn (Mech), 22nd Inf
SP4 Willie W. Bacote, Co A, 2nd Bn, 12th Inf
SP4 Nickolas P. Bartell, 2nd Bn, 34th Armor
SP4 Donald W. Whipp, Co C, 4th Bn, 9th Inf
SP4 Lawrence Osborne, Co B, 2nd Bn, 12th Inf
SP4 Malcolm A. Seay, Co B, 2nd Bn, 12th Inf
PFC Gildardo Soto, Co B, 2nd Bn, 12th Inf
PFC John L. Miller, HHB, 2nd Bn, 77th Arty
PFC Murray Birnbaum, Co C, 4th Bn, 9th Inf
PFC Henry P. Ford, Co C, 4th Bn, 9th Inf
PFC Peter J. Schembri, Co A, 4th Bn, 9th Inf
PFC George W. Nealy, Co A, 2nd Bn, 12th Inf
PFC Given W. Bradley, Co A, 2nd Bn, 12th Inf
PFC Robert L. Done, HHB, 3rd Bn, 13th Arty
Army Commendation Medal (Heroism)
1SG Raymond Caudle, 116th AsIt Hel Co, 269th Avn Bn
SSG James L. Fettkether, Co B, 2nd Bn, 12th Inf
SGT Lloyd G. Divel, Co B, 2nd Bn, 12th Inf
SP5 Mariano Miguel Jr., 116th Ash Hel, 269th Avn Bn
SP5 Santos Garcia Jr., 116th Aslt Hel Co, 269th Avn Bn
SP5 Antonio G. Roseia, 116th AsIt Hel Co, 269th Avn Bn
SP4 Thomas H. Bergren, 116th AsIt Hel Co, 269th Avn Bn
SP4 David G. Ruiz, 116th AsIt Hel Co, 269th Avn Bn
SP4 William B. lanigan, 116th Ash Hel Co, 269th Avn Bn
PFC Jack J. Szentmiklosi, 116th AsIt Hel Co, 269th Avn Br
PFC Ronald R. Baker, 116th AsIt Hel Co, 269th Avn Bn
PFC Jerry W. Okinga, 116th Ash Hel Co, 269th Avn Bn
PFC Charles Wickliffe, Co B, 2nd Bn, 12th Inf
PFC Robert T. Colley, Co B, 2nd Bn, 27th lnf
PFC Billy F. Stewart, Co A, 2nd Bn, 12th lnf
PFC Gary L. Lawerence, Co A, 2nd Bn, 12th Inf
PFC Anthony G. Ignash, Co A, 2nd Bn, 12th lnf
PFC Houston T. Williamson, Co A, 2nd Bn, 12th lnf
PFC Louis Collier, HHC, 2nd Bn, 12th lnf
PFC David L. Mathias, 116th Aslt Hel Co, 269th Avn Bn
PFC Richard M. Robinson, 116th Ash Hel Co, 269th Avn Bn
PFC Roger Jensen, 116th Ash Hel Co, 269th Avn Bn
Saving to Help 'Uncle'
President Johnson has appealed to all U.S. citizens for help in solving a problem "of vital concern to the economic health and well-being of this Nation and the Free World."
The problem is not a new one. It concerns the "international balance of payments" and affects every U.S. serviceman and his family now serving or about to serve abroad.
But how does this "international balance of payments" situation touch a serviceman and his family? What can he do to help?
The answer is simple: "Buy" and "Save" American.
Every dollar a serviceman spends for goods produced by Uncle Sam helps; every American dollar he invests in U.S. Savings Bonds, Freedom Shares or the Uniformed Service Savings Deposit Program also helps.
And in the "savings" programs you get paid for the privilege. U. S. Savings Bonds will pay you 4.15 percent interest; Freedom Shares pay 4.74 percent interest in only 4%i years; and at overseas stations the Uniformed Services Savings Deposit Program pays 10 percent interest.
New GI Bill For Pilot Training
Five new categories of specialized flight training are now open to veterans training for civilian flying jobs under the GI Bill.
The Federal Aviation Administration, after a number of requests from veterans for more advanced training, has approved these types of training:
• "Class" ratings to cover additional aircraft categories.
• Additional ratings to be added to instructor certificates.
• Proficiency training to prepare for an airline transport rating.
• Proficiency training for certification as a rotorcraft external load operator or chief pilot.
• Proficiency training for certification as an agricultural aircraft operator or supervisor.
Previously, the only FAA-approved courses were those leading to a certificate as a commercial pilot, flight instructor or instrument-rated pilot. The FAA action makes veterans enrolling in the advanced flight training courses eligible for reimbursement by the Veterans Administration.
New Currency Control Measures To Set $200 Transaction Limit
SAIGON (MACV) - A significant change in currency control measures starting March 1 and phased over a five to six month period was announced recently by a MACV headquarters spokesman.
Key to the planned changes, aimed at personal currency transactions, is the first phase introduction of a currency control form and establishment of a limit of $200 per month on cash transactions involving Military Payment Certificates (MPC).
The second phase of the change will be the issuing of an embossed MACV Currency Control Card to each individual subject to the system and establishing computer records for those individuals. The embossed card will not be used as evidence of entitlement to any privilege.
The Currency Control Form (MACV Form 385) will be used when MPC are converted to U.S. currency (green), when converting MPC to dollar instruments (postal money orders, treasury checks, traveler's checks, etc.) or when depositing MPC to bank accounts or United Services Deposits Program.
Only cash deposits come under the $200 limit in the latter case. Deposits to banks or the Savings Deposits Program by check or allotment are not subject to this restraint.
Exceptions to the $200 limit will be authorized only when an individual is leaving the Republic of Vietnam on R&R, permanent change of station, leave, etc., or when a bonafide personal emergency arises that requires purchase of dollar instruments in excess of $200.
Anytime an exception to the $200 limit is authorized, the individual must obtain a certificate from his commander or supervisor that the MPC in excess of $200 was legitimately acquired.
The MACV Form 385 will also be required when making purchases from the Vietnam Regional Exchange of cameras, television sets, tape recorders, tuner/amplifiers, refrigerators, fans, radios, airline tickets and automobiles.
The $200 monthly limitation on convertability of MPC is not a limit on how much pay an individual may draw in-country.
If an individual's pay is sent to a bank by the servicing finance/disbursing office, or if he is paid by check and he deposits the check to a bank account, subsequent check transactions by him are not subject to the $200 limit.
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.
MG F. K. Mearns . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Commanding General
MAJ. Bernard S. Rhees . . . . . . . . . . Information Officer
SSG Dave Wilkinson . . . . . . . . . . . . Editor
SP4 Dave Cushman . . . . . . . . . . . . . Editorial Assistant
Page 3 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS February 5, 1968
We Are Winning Viet War, JCS Chairman Tells
"The single most important factor in prolonging the war [in Vietnam] is Hanoi's calculation that there is a reasonable possibility of a change in U.S. policy before the ultimate collapse of the Viet Cong manpower base and infrastructure."
That statement was made by GEN Earle G. Wheeler, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, before the Economic Club of Detroit.
"I am convinced of four things: (1) We are winning the war in Vietnam; (2) I cannot predict when the war will end; (3) although the tide of battle is running against Hanoi, they are not yet convinced that they cannot win, and (4) flowing from item 3, Hanoi is not yet ready to negotiate an end to the war."
GEN Wheeler said that if we stop bombing
• The North Vietnamese would be able to put men and supplies into the south at lower cost.
• The material resources available to them would be increased, which would enable them to support more men in combat in the south or make life in the north easier, or both.
• It would be a lot easier for them to prolong the war in hopes of a change in U.S. policy.
"Therefore," he explained, "we cannot stop the bombing of North Vietnam until we have some indication - some decent hope - that the other side intends to move toward peace, rather than merely to conduct a war on more advantageous terms."
The general said the United States has been concerned about Vietnam for many years. He said that late in 1964 the fabric of South Vietnamese society was coming apart at the seams - that throughout South Vietnam communist forces had seized the initiative. By February 1965 the situation was desperate. This is when the United States began bombing North Vietnam and "probably saved South Vietnam from collapse."
"Nevertheless, the communists could see that victory was still within their grasp. They rapidly stepped up the infiltration of troops from the north in an attempt at a quick victory before American military power could stop them. From prisoners and captured documents we have learned that they hoped to cut South Vietnam in two by the end of the summer of 1965. The prompt arrival of U.S. troops thwarted that objective - as witness the decisive military actions in the battles of Plei Me and Ia Drang Valley."
After losing ground and battles during 1966 and 1967, said the general, "the North Vietnamese once again had to lower their sights. Now their objective became not a military victory, but war prolongation - part of an effort to wear down American will to continue. They had learned that their main force units were unable to stand up to the mobility and firepower of U.S. and allied forces. They saw in late 1966 and early 1967 that we were beginning to destroy their key base areas which had been inviolate sanctuaries for 20 years.
"To stem the erosion of the Viet Cong's power base, the communists have sought to divert allied forces from the heartlands of South Vietnam to the border areas. In the process, they sought to increase the attrition on U.S. forces and, if possible, seriously undermine support of the war on the home front by annihilating a battalion or two of our forces in a miniature re-enactment of Dien Bein Phu.
"This new communist strategy was responsible for the heavy fighting in the DMZ area this summer - and more recently the actions along the western boundaries of South Vietnam - such as Loc Ninh and Dak To."
GEN Wheeler also cited these significant facts:
"First, communist strategy has not thwarted steady progress in revolutionary development. In fact, that program is gathering momentum.
"Second, they have not achieved even a miniature Dien Bien Phu - as a matter of fact, they have not scored a significant military success in at least eighteen months.
"Third, this has been for them an extremely costly strategy. While they may consider it the best option open to them, it is not an ultimate 'win' strategy."
|TIGHT SQUEEZE - PFC Phillip Boardman drops into the entrance of a VC tunnel uncovered during a search and destroy mission by the 1st Bn, 27th Inf "Wolfhounds," during Operation Saratoga. (Photo by SP4 George Pullen)|
12th Evac Hosp Is "Personalized"
SAIGON (ARC-IO) - An American soldier has just been shot by a sniper while patrolling the Vietnamese jungle near the Cambodian border. He receives first aid from a medical corpsman on the scene who stops the bleeding and applies temporary bandages, while a rescue helicopter descends to pick him up. Minutes later, the wounded man is being treated by U.S. Army doctors in the 12th Evac Hosp at Cu Chi.
The mission of the 12th Evac Hosp is to give immediate medical care and stabilize the condition of wounded servicemen until they may be safely moved. Those with minor wounds - approximately half of the patients - are able to rejoin their units after a short stay. Of the remainder, half are moved to convalescent centers located elsewhere in Vietnam, while the more seriously wounded are evacuated to military hospitals in the U.S.
But emergency medical care is not all that the 12th Evac provides: a staff of trained Red Cross women assists the military by providing patients with the kind of personal attention that doctors - struggling to save lives and repair the human damage of war - are too busy to give. These women do their best to make hospitalization more comfortable for sick and wounded GIs by furnishing needed personal articles, medically-approved recreation facilities and supplies, and by helping to ease the patient's minds about the things that trouble them, such as problems of communication with home.
The Red Cross workers at the hospital are not alone in their efforts to make life easier for wounded soldiers. The American Red Cross chapter in Kansas City has "adopted" the 12th Evac Hosp at Cu Chi. Through a program called OPERATION HELPMATE, Red Cross volunteers at home are busy gathering paperback books and magazines, toilet articles, ballpoint pens and stationery, games and playing cards, recording tapes for messages to worried families at home, and a variety of other personal items to make hospitalization easier for patients at the '12th.'
These articles are shipped to the Red Cross women at the hospital and distributed to the patients when they make their regular rounds in the wards. Since last April, the Greater Kansas City Red Cross chapter has sent 3-4 cartons each month to the 12th Evac. Said Miss Cathy Carlin, of Cleveland, Ohio: "The Chapter has been extremely thoughtful and generous with its assistance. We've received two portable tape recorders for use in the wards; a polaroid camera, so that the men can send pictures of themselves home to reassure their families; inexpensive birthday gifts for the men; U.S. travel posters to decorate the lounge; Christmas cards, ribbon and gift-wrapping paper; and many other items, large and small, that we've made special requests for."
Cathy is one of three American Red Cross workers at the '12th,' including Pearl Hayes of Wayneville, N.C., and Gwen Turbeyfield, from Tacoma, Wash: There are more than fifty young women now serving 1-year tours of duty with the Red Cross at U.S. military hospitals throughout Vietnam. All are college graduates trained in social work and recreation, and all worked in military hospitals in the U.S. before assignment in Vietnam.
Their duties are many: They visit each man shortly after his admittance, bring him a comfort kit so he may wash his face and shave (patients arrive at the hospital directly from the field with no personal belongings), and see if he has any special needs or wishes to contact his unit for any reason. The Red Cross workers operate the recreation lounge within the hospital complex where convalescing patients may gather to read, listen to music, play ping-pong or pool, have a game of cards, or simply enjoy a chat with an American girl. They make daily rounds to talk to patients in the wards, go shopping or buy money orders for them, arrange phone calls (the military provides each patient with one telephone call home free of charge), and distribute recreation materials and needed personal articles. They handle individual problems and give casework services normally provided by Red Cross Field Directors serving with able-bodied troops. And perhaps most important of all, they give the men the individual attention and comfort which is psychologically necessary for speedy recovery.
As long as the Vietnam war continues, the Red Cross workers at the 12th Evac Hosp in Cu Chi will continue to comfort its casualties, daily bringing smiles and encouraging words to every wounded man.
Has Trap-Dream, Steps On Same
1ST BDE - SGT John Onhaus, from Pittsburgh, doesn't claim to be clairvoyant but he does believe in intuition.
The 4th Bn, 9th Inf, sergeant was point man during a recent search and destroy mission in War Zone C, when he began having odd thoughts.
"All of a sudden and for no reason at all, I began thinking about boobytraps," relates Onhaus. "Not just boobytraps in general, but rigged 155mm artillery shells.
"I hadn't gone too far when I felt something tight against my left leg. I looked down and saw that it was a wire running across the path to a clump of brush about five meters to my left."
Onhaus froze in position and called to the men behind him, who moved up and checked the clump of brush. Hidden under its camouflage was a boobytrapped 155mm artillery shell.
Page 4-5 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS February 5, 1968
Mech Displays Aerial Mobility
Story and Photos by SP4 Robert Rossow
3RD BDE - In a unique display of aerial mobility, the 2nd Bn (Mech), 22nd Inf, accomplished a vital piece of resupply work, airlifting two M-113 Armored Personnel Carriers (APC) by CH54 "Flying Crane" from their Dau Tieng base camp to a forward base near the Cambodian border. The vehicles were dispatched to fill shortages caused by weeks of hard campaigning in the border regions.
CPT Theodore R. Sucher III, the battalion S-4, commented that airlifting APCs is rarely done, but that it is, nevertheless, not exceedingly difficult. "Weight is the main problem," said Sucher. "Slings and attachments strong enough to support the weight of an APC have to be procured. The track has to be stripped. After making reservations for the 'Crane,' final coordination between the pad crews and mechanics both in base camp and the field is made. The bird comes and goes, and it's all over. With our competent mechanics, the tracks will be combat ready a few hours after they are deposited in the field."
The two vehicles were unable to travel with the battalion when it moved out on Operation Yellowstone due to mechanical difficulties sustained in the previous operation. One required a new power pack, and the other repair of an idler arm which had broken away from the hub. When the repairs were completed, the only way to get the APCs to the field was by air.
To prepare the APCs for airlift, four mechanics, directed by MSG John Pobodinski were assigned to disassemble the vehicles. Due to weight limits, it was necessary to totally strip them. First the mechanics removed the power packs, completely testing their performance before shipment on a test stand devised by the "Triple Deuces" maintenance section, then packaged them for airlifting. Then the basic load of ammunition was removed along with the basic issue items and personal belongings of the crew members. They then towed the two vehicles to the helicopter landing pad, where the tracks were removed to prevent damage to the suspension system during transit, and the carrying slings attached in preparation for flight.
On the appointed hour, the 'Crane' settled down over the first APC like a giant predatory insect descending upon its quarry. A man from the pad crew battled the fierce downwash from the rotors as he struggled to fasten the carrying hook. When the slings were attached, the 'Crane' lifted slowly off the pad taking up the slack; then with a staggering lunge, track and helicopter were airborne. Some twenty minutes later the 'Crane' set the track down at the battalion's advanced support base miles away near the Cambodian border, and returned to repeat the performance.
The Triple Deuces field maintenance section has had a great deal of experience at major field maintenance, and has several times replaced power packs away from base camp; so, aside from the airlift factor, the reassembly of the vehicles was a routine job.
|"TRIPLE DEUCES" MECHANICS REMOVE TRACKS FROM APC IN PREPARATION OF AIRLIFT.|
|SP4 WAYNE KRYSTER OF THE 2ND BN, 22ND INF, READIES THE APC FOR AIRLIFT.|
|THE GIANT CRANE HOVERS OVER THE APC AS MEN OF THE "TRIPLE DEUCES" FINISH LAST MINUTE PREPARATIONS OF THE VEHICLE FOR AIRLIFT.|
|SLOWLY THE GIANT CRANE MOVES OFF WITH THE APC TOWARD THE FORWARD BASE CAMP OF THE "TRIPLE DEUCES."|
Page 6 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS February 5, 1968
One-man Skirmish Stops VC Laughs
1ST BDE - In the darkness, SGT E. W. Tolbert of Cleveland, Miss., heard movement to his front, laughter to his right, and saw the claymore mine wire on his left jerk sharply.
"I swear I thought I was in an amusement park fun house," says Tolbert describing his experience as a perimeter guard in a War Zone C forward fire support base manned by the 4th Bn, 9th Inf.
Seconds later, Tolbert found what he was facing. "That's when I saw them," he related. "Three VC on my left and five more setting up a machine gun to my right. The VC on the machine gun started laughing again and that's how they died . . . laughing."
Without hesitation, Tolbert had whirled around and opened fire with his M-16, killing the VC to his left, and then swung around and killed the machine gun crew.
Asked later if he was scared, Tolbert replied, "I reacted so fast, that I didn't become scared till it was over."
What the sergeant didn't know at the time of his one-man skirmish, was that a short time later, a large Viet Cong force would attempt to overrun the base camp.
At daybreak, searchers found the VC bodies and weapons.
A few days after the incident, GEN Harold K. Johnson, Army chief of staff, visited the 25th Div and pinned a Silver Star on Tolbert's chest.
Shoe Shine Boy Now School Boy
2ND BDE - Little Nuynh, an 11-year-old Vietnamese boy, had never been to school. Money was scarce, so the boy became an expert at shining boots to earn money to help out his family.
Everyday he made his way down to the business district of Cu Chi to compete against the other boys for the job of shining shoes.
Because he did such a good job, Nuynh had many friends at the huge American base camp near the village. One of his favorites is 1LT Alfred Serrato of Santa Ana, Calif., who is the executive officer with the 25th Div's 1st Bn (Mech), 5th Inf.
One day as Serrato was having his boots shined he noted that the boy was extremely quiet and not his "usual self." When Serrato asked him what was wrong, Nuynh burst into tears.
"The other kids around us started teasing the boy, so I asked them what was going on," Serrato said. "They told me that Nuynh couldn't afford to go to school like the rest of them."
Serrato told the little boy that he would be back in two days with enough money for his schooling. A big grin appeared on the boy's face, he wiped away the tears and went on with his work.
"I thought that this would be a good project for the company," explained Serrato, "so I asked them for help. The response was great."
Within hours enough money had been collected to send the boy to school for a year. With the extra money they bought clothes for him to wear to school.
|ONLY AFTER SCHOOL - Nuynh Van Khoan gives that extra little touch to the boots of 1LT Alfred Serrato. (Photo by SGT Roger Smith)|
All Mahogany Bridge Built
1ST BDE - When the 25th Inf Div's 588th Engr Bn was assigned the job of constructing a bridge on Route 4, about 60 kms northeast of Tay Ninh, they decided to utilize local materials. Looking around, they discovered there were enough huge mahogany trees to provide necessary beams for the bridge.
The construction began with the preparation of the approaches and supports which were made ready to receive the six 3 foot by 60 foot logs that were to form the clear-span timbers. The logs were cut in the jungle near the road, hauled to the bridge site, emplaced side-by-side, and smoothed off to provide a level bridge surface.
Decking was nailed crossways on the logs, and planking for vehicle treadway was nailed on top of that.
SFC Willie Boulware from High Point, N.C., who is the platoon sergeant of Co C and in charge of the construction, said, "The hardest part was cutting and trimming the logs. That mahogany is darn hard wood, and we had to stop and sharpen our chain saws every few minutes."
Less than a week after construction began, traffic was crossing the bridge. Due to the great strength and number of logs used, the bridge has been designated as Class 100 (more than capable of supporting any vehicle the Army has).
"As far as we know," says Boulware, "It's the only solid mahogany bridge ever built. A man who worked in the import-export business estimated that the logs used in the bridge would cost about $9,000 back in the states."
In addition to its load-bearing capability, tests by demolition men have shown the massive bridge to be almost indestructible. Shape charges and plastic explosives had almost no effect when detonated on one log. "This is an added feature we hadn't planned on," said Boulware.
Barring some natural catastrophe, the engineers say the bridge will last over 300-years, pretty good for a project completed in four days.
Page 7 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS February 5, 1968
Quick Thinking Ambush Patrol Kills 7 VC
3RD BDE - Quick thinking by an ambush patrol that was caught in the direct line of attack on the 3rd Bde, 25th Inf Div fire support base Burt resulted in their pulling back to a bomb crater where they held off an all night attack killing at least seven enemy troops. This action took place during the Battle of Soui Cut that resulted in 382 Viet Cong killed.
The ambush patrol from Charlie Co, 2nd Bn (Mech), 22nd Inf, was led by SSG Mark Ridley of San Antonio, Tex, with only two weeks in country. Although the New Year Truce was in effect, previous mortar attacks which had broken the truce prompted the "Triple Deuces" battalion commander, LTC A.G. Norris, to send the ambush patrol out as counter-mortar security for the support base.
Leaving the southern end of the perimeter at 6:30 p.m. the patrol traveled 400 meters down a main trail before angling in to the right. "We had been set in place for half an hour," said Ridley. "Around 7:30 the perimeter opened up and a little later we began to hear the Viet Cong talking all around us."
"Then some Viet Cong came down the path, led by a man with a flashlight," commented PFC William Thompson from Seabrook, Tex. "We threw some hand grenades and got them."
By then SSG Ridley had received word that the whole fire support base was under heavy enemy contact. With friendly .50 cal. and enemy fire cracking overhead, the patrol crawled to a bomb crater where they set up in a circle.
It took only a moment for the men to realize that they were in the line of a major attack on their battalion, and their only chance for survival lay in maintaining a purely defensive posture. For the rest of the night, the patrol called in artillery concentrations and provided targets for the gunships and aircraft pounding the enemy's line of attack between their position and the perimeter.
The only reply to the enemy heavy small arms fire and hand grenades thrown by the circling enemy troops was defensive fire to keep the enemy at bay. PFC John Marts from Owaneco, Ill, kept his M-60 machine gun below ground level until he could see enemy troops creeping up to throw grenades. "We knew we were surrounded and would not be relieved until dawn," said Marts. "To conserve ammo I waited until they came close enough so I couldn't miss and then put a few bursts into the enemy and got back down in the hole."
The only casualty came when a CHICOM RPG-2 round hit the lip of the crater, lightly wounding one of the men.
By dawn the unsuccessful attack had been beaten back, and a reinforcing element had moved to the ambush site to escort the patrol back to friendly lines. Seven enemy bodies were found within 15 meters of the bomb crater, and four heavy blood trails led from the immediate area.
"It was a real hairy experience," remarked Ridley back at the fire support base, "and I never want to go through anything like that again."
Squad Surprises Cong In Attempted Ambush
CU CHI - SGT Vince Iacono, 20, of Brooklyn, N.Y., knew his patrol had to stop the Viet Cong at all costs before they reached Highway 1, where they would probably hit the 3rd Sqdn, 4th Cav's Armored column.
PFC Ed Weik of Bantam, Conn., was the first man in the Alpha Trp patrol to spot the approaching Viet Cong in the darkness. Passing the night vision Starlite Scope to Iacono, the squad prepared for a fight.
When the lead VC was within 15 meters of the hidden cavalrymen, Iacono gave the signal to open fire. The sergeant was to comment later, "We must have really surprised them . . . they didn't put up much of a fight."
After the enemy apparently withdrew, Iancono, with Weik and SP4 Andy Garnica from Richmond, Calif., moved forward to check for enemy casualties, leaving the rest of the patrol in position.
They found one body with an automatic rifle lying next to it. As they started to move forward again, small arms fire erupted from a dirt berm to their front. A bullet slammed into Iacono's shoulder.
Disregarding his wound, the sergeant with Weik and Garnica, started moving toward the VC position.
Two more bullets slammed into Iacono. Both Weik and Garnica pulled the wounded man to cover and bandaged his wounds as bullets snapped over their heads.
With Iacono's bleeding stopped, Garnica moved forward a few yards and hurled a grenade over the berm into the middle of the Viet Cong.
PFC David Kipple of Daggett, Mich., had moved up from the rear when the firing started, and arrived in position in time to kill three more VC that had been flushed out by Garnica's grenade.
A radio call by SP4 Frank Rompel of Allen Park, Mich., brought in the 1st Plt's reaction team to back up the patrol. With the team in position, the cavalrymen moved forward. A sudden noise to the front of PFC Steve Alvardo of San Antonio, Tex., caused him to fire an M-79 grenade into the brush, killing another VC.
Minutes later a helicopter arrived and took Iacono to the 25th Div's 12th Evac Hosp.
The enemy's attempt at an ambush cost them dearly . . five dead and the capture of six weapons.
"We really did surprise them," said Iacono later in the hospital, "because one of my men told me that the first VC we killed had an empty weapon."
Snake Hadn't Heard About "Quality" Of Army Chow
1ST BDE - When the 25th Inf Div's 588th Engr Bn moved to Katum, 60 kms northeast of Tay Ninh, they set up in a heavily wooded area and thus came into contact with a large number of jungle creatures. They share their bunkers and tents with frogs, lizards, spiders, and in one case, a large snake.
The engineers were getting ready for chow one day when the cry went out, "snake, a great big snake!"
The commanding officer of Co D, CPT Larry M. Pigue of Little Rock, Ark., came running to investigate and was amazed to find a 12-foot python moving slowly but surely through the battalion area, making straight for the mess hall. SGT David M. Beaver of Royal Oak, Mich., joined forces with Pigue in an effort to chase the snake off with rocks and sticks, but to no avail.
When it became apparent that the snake was determined not to retreat peacefully, Pigue drew his pistol and shot him. It took four shots in the head to stop the huge snake, who almost made it into the mess tent before he died.
SP4 Roger L. Gardner, from Madison Heights, Mich., who had civilian experience as a taxidermist, skinned the snake and mounted the skin on a long plank. The dried skin now stands on display outside Gardner's bunker, a reminder for all to keep constantly alert while in the jungle.
Battalion spokesmen feel the snake was attracted by the smell of food from the messhall, and was so hungry that he ignored all attempts to run him off. The mess sergeant later remarked that it was a good thing the snake was stopped, since only enough food had been prepared for the men - there were no portions allocated for "visitors."
|DRIED OUT - SP4 Roger L. Gardner (right) and PFC Chuck Galloway hold up dried skin of a 12-foot python that invaded their camp in search of some Army chow.|
Mortar Round Cache Found
3RD BDE - Daily mortarings are a part of the facts of life in the dense jungles along the Cambodian border, but an opportune discovery by Alpha Co, 2nd Bn (Mech), 22nd Inf, provided a welcome break in the usual routine.
One afternoon recently the "Triple Deuces" of Alpha Co, commanded by CPT Alan R. Wetzel, was sweeping through border jungles when they discovered an enemy base camp. Sniper fire cracking overhead informed Alpha Co that the occupants were still in the neighborhood. Quickly returning fire, they killed the sniper and captured his AK-47 assault rifle.
A search of the base camp showed it was presently in use; cooking utensils were found in quantity, and the fish in pots had not even begun to sour.
Then came the big finds. While searching the base camp, the men found three RPG-2 and two, RPG-7 anti-tank rounds. They then uncovered a cache of 76 60mm mortar rounds. The base camp and the enemy munitions were destroyed.
The riflemen of Alpha Co insist that their afternoon's work enabled the men of the battalion to sleep well that night. Charlie's nightly mortar attack never materialized.
Stranded GIs Survive Night
3RD BDE - "If our patrol had been located 15 meters away in any direction, none of us would have survived," stated PFC John M. Golden from Westminster, Calif.
The ambush patrol from Charlie Co, 3rd Bn, 22nd Inf, had set up 350 meters from the perimeter of fire support base Burt near the Cambodian border. A few hours after dark the patrol came under heavy Viet Cong mortar, RPG and small arms fire.
With the only radio knocked out of commission and men wounded, the patrol was forced to remain in position. "We couldn't move because we didn't know where the Viet Cong, were," commented Golden.
In the meantime the enemy was advancing all around the patrol in their attack upon the fire support base. With both enemy and friendly fire dropping around their position, the uninjured patrol members bandaged the wounded for the rest of the night.
Only when morning arrived was the patrol able to receive aid from the base camp and return to safety.
Katum Now Has 'Swap' Library
1ST BDE - When SP5 William Neibauer of Shanokin, Pa., arrived at the 25th Inf Div's 1st Bde base camp at Katum, he noticed that reading material was almost nonexistent.
So he obtained a small supply of books and magazines from Special Services, placed them on his bunker in an ammo box with the sign "One for One" and opened for business.
"A lot of the men had brought a book or a magazine with them, and were glad to have a place they could exchange them for something they hadn't already read," Neibauer said.
"Neibauer's Field Library" is now a popular gathering place in the evenings.
When He Plays Homemade Horn Better Watch Out For Elephants
1ST BDE - The first time WO Robert Lockhart played his trumpet, a large crowd gathered. "I was kind of proud," he recalls, "until someone asked where the elephant was."
Lockhart of Sayreville, N.J., is the maintenance officer for the 25th Div's 588th Engr Bn. He got the urge to play the trumpet one day, so since he couldn't find one in the field he had to make his own.
Taking a short length of hydraulic line and part of an airhorn assembly, he fashioned a crude, but playable instrument.
"You can't really improvise a complicated song," Lockart confesses, "but I can play 'Taps,' 'Retreat,' and 'Charge'."
He is now working on "Love is a Many Splendored Thing."
Page 8 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS February 5, 1968
Big Ammo Cache Found Near 'Burt'
3RD BDE - An old Viet Cong base camp 1500 meters outside of fire support base Burt yielded a large store of munitions to a careful search by men of the 3rd Bde, 25th Inf Div.
Bravo Co, 3rd Bn, 22nd Inf, led by CPT Robert L. Hemphill from Lavonia, Ga., discovered the recently hidden explosives while on a reconnaissance patrol.
"We knew from the numerous VC footprints nearby and the perfect condition of the stores that, they had been hidden only a few days ago," explained Hemphill.
The discovery included 156 60mm mortar rounds, 3 82mm mortar rounds, 13,750 rounds of AK-47 ammunition, 41 cases of TNT, 24 cases of C-4, and 14,400 non-electric blasting caps.
The mortar rounds were carefully packed twelve to a box and the fuses and warheads were separately packaged in small metal boxes to insure that the rounds didn't accidentally explode while being transported.
Using the TNT and C-4, the "Regulars" destroyed the entire bunker complex. The mortar rounds which had been packed were brought back to the fire support base for experimental study.
|BOXES FULL - A small representation of the total weapons cache found by men of the 3rd Bn, 22nd Inf, on Operation Yellowstone. (Photo by SP4 Pete Earl)|
Viet Language Barrier Has Them On The Run
1ST BDE - PFC Jimmy Adler of Caldwell, Idaho, latched on to a North Vietnamese soldier, but because of the language barrier, the detainee had Adler on the run.
Describing the incident, Adler explained that he had stumbled over the enemy soldier during a 25th Div search and destroy mission in War Zone C. At the time, Adler was flankman which pulled him to one side of the 2nd Bn, 14th Inf's Alpha Co, as they swept through the heavy brush.
"He was lying behind a large ant hill," Adler added, "and I was on top of him before I knew it. In fact, he was lying so still, I thought he was dead."
Adler pointed his M-16 at the man and motioned for him to get up. The flankman found the enemy soldier was carrying an RPG-2 anti-tank rocket launcher and three rounds.
According to Adler, it was about this time that things became confused. "When we started moving to catch up with the company, I motioned to the man to get his hands up higher, but all he did was walk faster. He kept lowering his hands and I kept motioning for him to raise them, but he kept moving faster. By the time we reached the company, both of us were running.
Interpreters later questioned the enemy soldier and found out he had become separated from his unit during an air strike. Immediately after that, Adler's company had been dropped in by helicopter, cutting him off from escape.
He later asked the interpreter why the American insisted on his walking so fast.
2nd, 77th Arty Names New CO
CU CHI - LTC William L. Albright has assumed command of the 2nd Bn, 77th Arty, replacing LTC A. T. Lindholm.
Albright was the 25th Div Arty S-3 before assuming command. He came to Vietnam from Ft. Leavenworth, Kan., where he was projects officer of the Institute of Combined Arms and Support.
Among the colonel's awards and decorations are the Bronze Star Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Air Medal and the Purple Heart.
WO Flies Strange Dust-off
1ST BDE - WO Donald Evans of Atlanta, recently flew one of the strangest dust-off missions of his career.
The strange flight started at dawn when Evans received word of an immediate dust-off required at the Special Forces camp at Prek Klok, 35 kms north-northwest of Tay Ninh City.
Nearing the pick-up point, he received a radio message advising him to hurry because the patient was in serious condition.
The second he sat down on the helicopter pad, two medics ran out carrying a poncho-covered stretcher and quickly lifted the evacuee into the small cockpit of the OH-23.
It was a tight fit, because the patient was a large Labrador Retriever tracker dog, who had been wounded during a combat mission.
Evans flew the dog and his handler to the 25th Div's 1st Bde base camp at Katum, where he was transferred to another helicopter for evacuation to the Cu Chi veterinary clinic.
"I had no idea that I was going to evacuate a dog," said 'Evans with a smile. "I was surprised, and glad we got him to the doctor in time."
Classrooom For 150 Discovered By Saigon River
3RD BDE - One of the most unusual enemy fortifications found by the 2nd Bn (Mech), 22nd Inf, was discovered by a platoon from Bravo Co while on a search and destroy mission near the Saigon River, 60 kms northwest of Saigon. A freshly dug classroom for at least 150 people was found, with the top of the seats at ground level and the seats and aisles dug into the ground.
Small trees which were left growing supported numerous interwoven vines used to shield the area from the air.
The classroom was found in an area where a number of huge enemy base camps were destroyed. The classroom consisted of seven double rows of seats with aisles down the middle and sides. The seats were lined with wooden boards.
25th Div Base Camp Mortared
The 25th Inf Div's base camp at Cu Chi received 48 rounds of 82mm mortar and recoilless rifle fire Jan. 19.
The 20-minute attack, which began at 7:48 p.m. resulted in three U.S. soldiers killed and 45 others wounded. Thirty-two of the wounded soldiers were treated and released. There was light damage to U.S. facilities and equipment.
Counter-mortar fire and helicopter gunships pounded suspected enemy positions. The results are unknown.
Joe Carey, 25th Admin. Co., for sharing this issue,
Kirk Ramsey, 2nd Bn., 14th Inf. for creating this page.
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