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Vol 4 No. 38          TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS          September 22, 1969



Unit                   Page Unit                  Page Unit                  Page Unit                  Page
2/12                        1 2/14                        8 2/27 Photo             6 3/13 Arty               3
2/12                        3 2/14                        8 2/34 Armor            1 3/13 Arty               7
2/12                        6 2/22                        1 2/34 Armor             1 3/13 Arty Photo     8
2/14 Photo              3 2/22                        6 2/34 Armor             3 3/27                       2
2/14                        3 2/22                        8 2/34 Armor  Photos 4 4/23                       1
2/14 Photo              3 2/22 Photo              8 25th Avn                7 4/23 Photo             1
2/14                        7 2/27                        3 3/4 Cav                  7 4/23                       8
2/14                        7



Lightning Remains King of the Hill

Tomahawks Chop up NVA Around Nui Ba Den Again


   TAY NINH - A combined force of Tomahawks of the 4th Battalion (Mechanized), 23d infantry and soldiers of the 7th ARVN Airborne Regiment tangled again with the communist denizens of Nui Ba Den the morning of Sept. 11, with the usual disastrous results for the enemy.  The infantrymen, supported by artillery and light-fire teams, killed 49 NVA soldiers after a Tomahawk point element spotted movement at the base of the mountain.  The contact brought to more than 100 the number of enemy soldiers killed by the Tomahawks and their allies near the mountain in less than a week.

By PFC Sam B. Dixon
   TAY NINH - "AK-47's were cracking all around us.  We attempted to return to our laager site, but the fire was so heavy we were forced to seek cover.  We threw in more counter fire, returned and secured our objective."
   Those are the words of Sergeant Lynn A. Miller of Wichita, Kan., recounting action in which men of Alpha and Charlie Companies, 4th Battalion (Mechanized), 23d Infantry, killed 57 enemy soldiers in the southeast sector surrounding Nui Ba Den.
   Early in the day, the 4/23d Tomahawks had set out on a combined operation with the 688th Vietnamese Regional Forces Company.  Their mission: reconnaissance-in-force.
   Intelligence reports had suggested that a company-sized NVA element had been spotted in the area and had disappeared into the rocks and jungle at the base of the mountain.
   While establishing a defensive position, Charlie Company and the 688th RF Company began receiving incoming 82mm mortar rounds from the mountain.  All rounds impacted outside the laager site and caused no damage.  Immediately, the Tomahawks returned fire with their own mortars and called in artillery and light fire teams.
   MOVEMENT WAS observed in the banana groves at the base of the mountain and again the allied position received incoming rounds.  The Tomahawks again countered this time with organic fire, light fire teams, artillery and gunships.
   The Tomahawk company's first platoon moved out on foot and hadn't gone more than 100 meters into the bananas when it received heavy rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) and small arms fire.  The platoon dispersed, but later regrouped and moved deeper into the enemy position.
   Sporadic fire continued until 3:00 p.m.  By dusk the Tomahawks had counted 30 enemy dead.  Next day, Alpha Company of the Tomahawks moved into the area and established contact with the enemy.  Between the two companies, 57 enemy died in the two days of battle.


FIREPOWER, BUT NO DEMONSTRATION - Mechanized infantrymen from the 4th Battalion, 23d Infantry Tomahawks put it to enemy soldiers near the base of Nui Ba Den.  (PHOTO BY PFC SAM DIXON) 4/23rd Tomahawks



Armor Hits Sanctuary
By SP4 Carl Detrick

   TAY NINH - The 2d Battalion, 34th Armor is rapidly convincing the enemy that there is little sanctuary in the dense underbrush and caves that cover the rugged slopes of Nui Ba Den.
   The armormen's latest venture cost the enemy 27 dead.  The reconnaissance and tank platoons of Headquarters and Headquarters Company were conducting a ground reconnaissance of the terrain surrounding the eastern side of the Black Virgin Mountain.  As they approached the mountain, they observed several enemy running from a nearby banana grove into a large cave near the base.
   IMMEDIATELY, Headquarters Company commander Captain Thomas Boling deployed Dreadnaught tracks and men on line and directed their fire onto the enemy's position.  The ground trembled and the mountainside reverberated as the metal monsters unleashed their lethal barrage of 90mm cannon and .50 caliber machine gun fire.
   The company's mortar platoon was then called into action.  The mortar tracks maneuvered into position directly behind the firing tanks and soon began to pound the enemy stronghold with devastating 4.2-inch mortar rounds.
   After completely saturating the enemy's position, the combined elements of Headquarters Company shifted their fire onto other targets in the vicinity of the cave.
   Assessing the situation from the scene of action, Battalion Commander Lieutenant Colonel T. G. Smith of El Paso, Tex., requested a psychological operations team from the Tropic Lightning 1st Brigade S-5 section at Tay Ninh base camp.
   BY 7:30 A.M. the team was in action and the mountain again reverberated, but this time to the voice of an S-5 interpreter broadcasting over load speakers.
   "We explained the chieu hoi policy and urged them to rally to the government," said Smith.  "We told them that we will not allow them sanctuary on the mountain or any other place.  What they went through today was just a preview of events to come; everytime they see our tanks coming they can expect the same type of punishment."
   A post-mortem of the day's events revealed a success story of armor versatility and firepower coupled with modern psychological warfare techniques.  Not only did the Dreadnaughts eliminate 27 enemy soldiers, but put many questions in the minds of other enemy as to the effectiveness of Nui Ba Den as a sanctuary as well.


Claymore mines are a valuable weapon.  If handled carelessly, however, they are capable of making you wish they'd never been invented.  Always make sure the firing device is disconnected before you even think about going near the mine.  If you're not sure how to set it up, ask someone who is sure for help.  If you have ever paid heed to the maxim that encourages you to act slowly but surely, do so when working with claymores.  DEROS.  Do it the safe way.



Warrior Lt. Learns Pitfalls of Carelessness
By SP4 Larry Goodson

   CU CHI - A Fire Brigade platoon leader nearly disappeared into a bottomless pit recently while attempting to check out a VC spider hole.  But instead of quicksand or gravity pulling him under, it was a frightened enemy soldier.
   Airlifted into an area near the southern tip of the Boi Loi Woods, Company A, 2d Battalion, 12th Infantry began a systematic search of a village suspected of harboring Viet Cong.
   SHORTLY AFTER sweeping the objective, elements of the 2d platoon found evidence that confirmed enemy presence.
   The first contact with the communists proved to be hair raising for 2d Platoon Leader First Lieutenant David L. Sacket when he attempted to enter a tunnel he believed to be abandoned.
   As he lowered himself feet-first into the tunnel, Sacket was grabbed around the ankles by an NVA soldier who was determined to pull the startled officer into his underground lair.
   QUICK REACTION by Privates First Class James Byrd, Joseph Solleri, and Terry Lad produced a tug-o-war that resulted in the rescue of their somewhat shaken platoon leader.
   Grenades thrown into the tunnel produced one wounded detainee.
   Sacket said, "I learned today that no matter how safe a hole looks, it has to be fragged before it is investigated."
   Interrogation of the detainee by Vietnamese scouts led to yet another VC hiding place in the immediate area, which Private First Class John L. Raczykowski, Tygh Valley, Ore., described by stating, "It didn't look like anything but a big mound of dirt.  We started digging into it and broke through into an underground bunker."
   AS SOON AS the occupants realized that they had been discovered, they emerged, armed with hand grenades, from a well-concealed trap door.  Both enemy were killed by alert security.
   The operation came to a close after the Warriors had discovered an AK-47 rifle, a quarter-pound of documents and an NVA diary.  Two hundred pounds of rice and the sight for an 82mm Chi-Com mortar were also tallied in the day's bag.


Enemy Unit Cut Down
               Lightning Strikes Tree, VC

   TAY NINH - "If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?"
   That theoretical question has been toyed with by philosophers and students for centuries, but it never seemed quite as relevant as it did recently for men of Alpha Company, 2d Battalion (Mechanized), 22d Infantry, and the 2d Platoon of Alpha Company, 2d Battalion, 34th Armor Dreadnaughts.
   As a Dreadnaught M-48 tank rumbled through the dense foliage of a favorite enemy lair, Boi Loi Woods, 13 and one-half miles southeast of Tay Ninh City, it knocked over a tree.  Not only did the Americans hear the tree fall, but so did an estimated company of Viet Cong and North Vietnamese soldiers.
   FIFTEEN ENEMY soldiers died in the ensuing battle.
   "Before the tree had completely fallen," said Private First Class Howard A. Houston of Hope,. Ark., "they were firing rocket-propelled grenades, .51 caliber and small arms at us.  We must have stumbled straight into a small base camp because they were well dug-in."
   Alpha Company of Triple Deuce came on line as soon as the first enemy rounds were fired.  Alpha Company's armored personnel carriers and tanks from the 2/34th were hampered by the high concentration of craters in the area.  So with supporting fire from the Dreadnaughts, men of Alpha Company, Triple Deuce assaulted the enemy complex on foot.
   WHEN THEY STARTED receiving fire from their flank as well as their front, they withdrew to allow artillery and air strikes to soften the area.
   This was followed by helicopter gunships and then Alpha Company moved back in.
   "It was a rough battle all the way and we were tired.  We've done a lot of fighting in the last week," said Specialist 4 Ronald E. Hopkins of Belding, Mich.
   Fifteen enemy died during the battle.


Page 2                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           September 22, 1969



MAJ Arthur E. Solem, HHC, 2d Bde
CPT Ronald J. Taylor, V Btry, 1st Bn, 8th Arty
CPT John S. Regan, Co B, 2d Bn, 14th Inf
CPT Robert.B. Connolly, Co A, 2d Bn, 14th Inf
1LT Robert W. Evans, A Btry, 2d Bn, 77th Arty
1LT Steven L. Donaldson, Co A, 2d Bn, 14th Inf
1LT Larry C. Hodnett, Co C, 3d Bn, 22d Inf
1LT John Mitchell, Co D, 2d B, 27th Inf
1LT William S. Wall, Co A, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
1LT James R. Krause, Co C, 3d Bn, 22d Inf
2LT Gary B. Tucker HHS, Btry, 1st Bn, 8th Arty
1SG Hugh M. Hollis, Co B, 2d Bn, 14th Inf
PSG James F. Horn, C Trp, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav
SFC Harvey Black, HHC, 4th Bn, 23d Inf
SSG Gary D. Doss, Co B, 4th Bn, 23d Inf
SGT Donald L. LaFaive, Co A, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
SGT William P. Kenison, B Btry, 2d Bn, 77th Arty
SGT Edward K. Strickland, Co D, 2d Bn, 27th Inf

SGT Michael A. Janowiak, Co C, 2d Bn, 22d Inf
SGT Richard D. Laxson, Co B, 1st Bn, 5th Inf
SGT Kenneth E. Mullin, Co C, 3d Bn, 22d Inf
SGT John C. Morelli, Co C, 3d Bn, 22d Inf
SGT Brian L. Crawford, Co A, 1st Bn, 5th Inf
SGT James Windenwerder, Co A, 2d Bn, 12th Inf
SGT Donald G. Louk, Co A, 2d Bn, 14th Inf
SGT John F. Lawinger, Co B, 2d Bn, 22d Inf
SGT Gerald Johnson, Co D, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
SP5 Robert Craig, Co B, 2d Bn, 14th Inf
SP5 Cleveland Ott, Co C, 2d Bn, 22d Inf
SP4 Justin K. Anderson, Co C, 4th Bn, 9th Inf
SP4 Gary L. Starbuck, Co A, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
SP4 Edgar L. Otero, Co C, 2d Bn, 22d Inf
SP4 James L. Schneider, Co C, 2d Bn, 2d Inf
SP4 William E. Turner. Co C, 2d Bn, 22d Inf
SP4 Larry R. Goethe, Co C, 3d Bn, 22d Inf
SP4 Max A. Calhoon, Co A, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
SP4 David L. Lemmer, Co C, 2d Bn, 22d Inf

SP4 Lowell D. Vickers, Co C, 2d Bn, 22d Inf
SP4 Domingo Munoz, Co B, 125th Sig Bn
SP4 Robert R. Dallas, Co C, 3d Bn, 22d Inf
SP4 Vernon T. Ota, Co C, 2d Bn, 22d Inf
SP4 James D. Homan, Co A, 2d Bn, 14th Inf
SP4 Chris H. Ritchie, Co C, 2d Bn, 12th Inf
SP4 Duane K. McIver, Co C, 2d Bn, 12th Inf
SP4 Thomas J. Barker, Co A, 2d Bn, 14th Inf.
SP4 Thomas Feldman, Co A, 2d Bn, 14th Inf
SP4 Eddie C. Crowe, Co C, 2d Bn, 12th Inf
SP4 Benjamin R. Lawson, Jr., Co C, 2d Bn, 12th Inf
SP4 Carl K. Cory, Co A, 2d Bn, 14th Inf
SP4 Donald A. Spory, Co E, 65th Engr Bn
SP4 John N. Bellaire, Co E, 1st Bn, 27th Inf
SP4 Steven B. Sabat, Co B, 2d Bn, 14th Inf
SP4 Robert L. Penick, Co E, 65th Engr Bn
SP4 Kenneth Davidson, HHC, 1st Bde
SP4 Ronald N. Belford, A Trp, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav
SP4 Terrence Colangelo, Co C, 4th Bn, 23d Inf
SP4 John L. Laeseke, B Btry, 1st Bn, 8th Arty

SP4 Emil S. Kosko, Co C, 1st Bn. 27th Inf
SP4 James Wells, B Btry,1st Bn, 8th Arty
SP4 Stanford Baker, B Btry, 1st Bn, 8th Arty
SP4 James Winkenwerder, Co A, 2d Bn, 14th Inf
SP4 William C. Triana, HHS Btry, 7th En, 11th Arty
SP4 Dale R. Pavey, Co C, 4th Bn, 23d Inf
SP4 David N. Brinton, Co B, 65th Engr Bn
SP4 Kenneth Bellinger, Co B, 65th Engr Bn
SP4 Michael Hill, B Btry, 1st Bn, 8th Arty
PFC Jerome M. Joseph, Co A, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
PFC Carl R. Garver, Co C, 3d Bn, 22d Inf
PFC Denver E. Thornton, Co A, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
PFC Harold R. Booth, Co A, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
PFC Thomas E. Muzik, Co C, 4th Bn, 23d Inf
PFC Bruce E. Hahn, Co C, 3d Bn, 22d Inf
PFC James N. McClure, Co A, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
PFC Stephen W. Van Winkle, Co A, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
PFC Robert M. Pschirer, Co A, 2d Bn, 27th Inf



'DEROS' - The Sweetest Sound You'll Ever Hear

   It has been said that the English Language is not a beautiful language.  Frenchmen and Spaniards maintain that their flowing speech is, in and of itself, pleasing and not so harsh as English.
   Occasionally, however, there is a phrase or word whose sound is eternally pleasing, musically inspiring.  The word referred to here is "DEROS."
   There are very few concepts which are worthy of such a beautiful word. "DEROS" could mean, for instance, that moment on a spring morning when the sky in the east begins to lose its darkness, the dew drips softly from a maple leaf and a robin strikes the first note of a new day.
   "DEROS" could convey the thought of that moment when a lovely 18 year old coed hurries across campus to her next class, with books clutched closely to her sweater, and an autumn breeze plays teasingly with her skirt.
   Yes, very few things are worthy of the word "DEROS." And perhaps that word is the messenger of the loveliest concept of all.
   But in order for you to derive the full impact of this beautiful concept, there are some precautions you should tend to.
   REASSIGNMENT ORDERS - Your orders should arrive 45-60 days prior to your DEROS.  If you don't have them 30 days before you leave, it's time to check.
   BAGGAGE - You are authorized to carry a total of 200 pounds of baggage back with you on the bird.
   HOLD BAGGAGE - E-1 through E-4 with less than two years of service are allowed 200 pounds.  All other enlisted ranks are allowed 400 pounds.  Officers through the grade of 0-5 are allowed 600 pounds, 0-6 and 0-7s 800 pounds, and above 0-8, well who is?
   CLEARING - When you have your orders and have sent your hold baggage, the next step is clearing.  Take your orders to your orderly room and get your clearance papers.  E-8s, E-9s and officers may sign their own clearance papers.  Others must do leg work.  The rounds they must make include supply, the dispensary (have your shot record up to date), the billeting NCO, classified material and G-2, mail room, arms room, orderly room, duty section, finance and personnel.
   UNIFORM - Jungle fatigues will be worn on the way back to CONUS.  There you'll be issued greens.
   After clearing your unit you will report to the Replacement Returnee Processing facility named in your Port Call orders.  There an inspection is held and everyone in the grade of Lieutenant Colonel and below is subjected to a search for any illegal items.  Don't have any porno or pot, weapons or ammo - the chance of missing going home, (or worse) isn't worth it.
   Your travel authorization must be in your possession when you report to the Replacement Battalion.  Weapons and war trophies must have been registered and a license received.
   CURRENCY - After you have been manifested, trade your MPC in.  It's no good where you're going.
   When you arrive in CONUS it is best if wives or parents aren't at the airport.  You'll be transported to the personnel center.  Your out-processing can take anywhere from 6 hours (minimum for regular DEROS) to 36 hours (hopeful maximum for ETS - another beautiful concept).


Sergeant Gets Giant Bonus

   CU CHI - One of the largest reenlistment bonuses ever, $10,000, was recently awarded to Staff Sergeant Henry A. Levesque of Providence, R.I.
   Levesque, the communication section NCOIC for Headquarters Company, 3d Brigade, described himself as 'flabbergasted' when he discovered that he would be receiving such a large bonus.  He also added that the money was a big factor in his decision.
   With almost four years of prior service, Levesque signed on for another six and will also be getting a guaranteed trip to Germany out of the deal.  He will leave Vietnam in the latter part of October.
   Levesque plans to attend Warrant Officer Candidate School to become a Crypto Technician.
   When asked what he would do with all that money, Levesque replied: "I will invest it in the Soldiers Savings Program and keep it there until I really need it."


            Combat Honor Roll

   Private First Class Freddie Ballard of Company D, 3d Battalion, 27th Infantry Wolfhounds has been added to the Tropic Lightning Combat Honor Roll.
   Ballard distinguished himself while serving as a radio telephone operator with the Wolfhounds when he reacted to a call for assistance by a Special Forces unit which was in heavy contact.
   The company was flown to the area and engaged the enemy a short distance from the landing zone.  In the initial contact, the company commander was wounded and Private Ballard having the only operable radio, assumed command and maintained effective control over the company's elements.
   During the fighting, Ballard requested gunship and artillery support and even after he was wounded continued to adjust supporting fire and organize the company in an assault on the enemy.
   When an officer reached his position and took command, Ballard assisted with effective radio communications.  When his radio went out, Ballard directed heavy fire on the enemy.
   At one point in the battle, Ballard advanced on a hostile machine gun emplacement and destroyed it with several hand grenades, and was instrumental in his company's defeat of the enemy.


vStork.jpg (2787 bytes)Tropic Lightning Tots
The Commanding General Welcomes
The Following Tropic Lightning Tots
To The 25th Infantry Division – As
Reported By The American Red Cross.
Born To:

August 28
Willie T. Thurman, Co D, 2d Bn, 27th Inf, a boy

September 3
Larry W. Hanry Co A, 2d Bn, 27th Inf, a boy
J.T. Gwinn, Co B, 2d Bn, 27th Inf, a girl

September 5
Robert J. Rowe, Adv Team 43, a girl

September 8
Bruce E. Fiffany, Co C, 554th Engr Bn, a boy
Peter J. Contreras, HHC, 2d Bn, 12th Inf, a boy
September 8
Charles M. Hunt, Co C, 2d Bn, 12th Inf, a boy
Gary Chadwell, Co B, 2d Bn, 14th Inf, a girl

September 9
Lehman Aicher, Co E, 2d Bn, 14th Inf, a girl
James M. Oie, 269th Combat Avn, a boy

September 10
Hiseog Nuseber, HHC, 269th Combat Avn, a girl
D. A. Branscone, HHC, 2d Bn, 14th Inf, a boy
Harold E. Peace, Co C, 588th Engr Bn, a boy



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 Harris W. Hollis . . . . . . . Commanding General
MAJ Warren J Field  . . . . . .  Information Officer
1LT John C. Burns . . . . . . . .  Officer-in-Charge
SP4 Ralph Novak . . . . . . . . .  Editor
SGT John Genitti . . . . . . . . .  Assistant Editor
SP4 David DeMauro. . . . . . . Production Supervisor


SP4 Dennis Bries
SP4 Bill Frame
SP4 Sam Dixon
SP4 K.C. Cullen
SP4 Larry Goodson
PFC Tim Williams
SP4 Pete Freeman
PFC Richard Sears
SP4 Carl Detrick
SP4 Frank Ditto
PFC Greg Stanmar
PFC Jim Stalmaker
Phil Jackson
PFC Craig Sampson
SP4 Pat Morrison
SP4 Dennis Dibb
PFC Ken Barron
SP4 Ken Fairman


Page 3                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           September 22, 1969


Clan Has It Together in Taking 155's Apart

Dismantling Tank Dismantling Tank Dismantling Tank Dismantling Tank

- Removing the power pack - both engine and transmission - of this M-109 self-propelled 155mm howitzer is part of the regular quarterly preventive maintenance for such artillery pieces.  This 405-horsepower V-8 diesel engine can be removed in about an hour by the crack 3d Battalion, 13th Artillery Battalion maintenance crew.  The preventive maintenance routine then covers cleaning, tightening, adjusting and replacing external engine parts, a process that can be completed in 24 hours.  Minor emergency repairs can be done in four hours or less.  (PHOTOS BY SP4 PAT MORRISON)



1Lt. Charles Viola helps SP4 Harold Gravely NEED A LIFT? - First Lieutenant Charles R. Viola of Sebastoph, Calif., offers a helping hand to Specialist 4 Harold Gravely of St. Clair, Mich., as Bravo Company, 2d Battalion, 14th Infantry crosses a canal while sweeping northeast of Trung Lap.  (PHOTO BY 5P4 DAN ZALDIVAR)



Swamp Buggies Bug Cong
By PFC Phil Jackson

   CU CHI - Splashing through a marsh southwest of Trang Bang aboard swamp boats, a combined 25th Division-Regional Forces unit cut another area off the Viet Cong's dwindling list of safe hiding places.
   The unit included soldiers from Tropic Lightning's Delta Company, 2d Battalion, 27th Infantry and 2d Battalion, 34th Armor, Vietnamese troops from the 158th, 163d and 179th Regional Force companies, and a mobile strike force from Tra Cu Special Forces Camp.
   THE ALLIED force learned of enemy soldiers living in An Hung village, 11 miles west of Cu Chi, at night and moving into the swamp to the east during daylight hours.
   "Every time we moved into the area the Viet Cong would scatter into the swamp," said First Lieutenant Philip Dean of Rochester, N.Y.  "The enemy was always one step ahead and once he made it to the swamp, he disappeared."
   The combined operation, however, took that extra step away from the enemy.  At 7:00 a.m., blocking forces moved into position on the western end of the village, driving the VC into the swamp.  Other allied elements on the swamp's eastern edge were waiting.
   STOPPING SAMPANS and checking identification cards produced nothing, so the command was given and the Allies' boats sped deeper into the swamp, beginning the laborious job of checking canal banks for possible hiding places.
   The Popular Forces came up with an AK-47 rifle and cleaning equipment.  Then Sergeant First Class Theotas Tucker of Muskegon Heights, Mich., climbed on top of thick brush with a boost from a Popular Force soldier, and found two anti-tank mines.
   "It seems that the Viet Cong were using the top of the bush for a trail and a hiding place," Tucker said.
   "WE MUST HAVE had Charlie really confused," Specialist Four Hector Aguirre of Mason, Mich., added. "A villager told us that three Viet Cong ran out of the village and into the swamp earlier to avoid the Delta Company blocking force.  Later we received word that the 158th Regional Force Company picked up three VC who stumbled out of the swamp."
   By the day's end, the allies had gathered up one AK-50, an AK-47, a B-12 anti-personnel mine, one 40-pound antitank mine, one 10-pound anti-tank mine, a box of AK ammunition, five magazines, cleaning equipment and pots and pans, along with three confused Viet Cong.  The Viet Cong turned out to be a hamlet chief, a squad leader for a local force, and a guerrilla.


Combined AP Outfoxes Foe
By SP4 Larry Goodson

   FSB Pershing - A combined Vietnamese-American ambush patrol outfoxed a Viet Cong force recently and wound up beating the enemy at his own game.
   The patrol made up of Fire Brigade soldiers from Alpha Company, 2d Battalion, 12th Infantry, and men from the 36th Popular Force Platoon, encountered the unknown sized enemy force two miles northeast of Trang Bang.
   The Allies were moving along highway 6A and were approximately 250 meters from the scheduled ambush site when, as Platoon Sergeant Bruce D. Holzhauer recalled it, "Charlie opened up where they thought we were."
   The patrol had just turned and was moving through open rice paddies when the enemy put it's firepower on the road where the Warriors and Vietnamese had just been walking.
   Private First Class Clyde Glover of Johnson City, Tenn., said, "Everybody was already on line.  All we had to do was get down and return the fire.
   A sweep of the area later confirmed that four enemy had been killed.


Old Mortars Never Die, They Just Fire Away

   CU CHI - There is a famous trite expression about old soldiers fading away.  But what about old mortar tubes?
   Echo Company, 2d Battalion, 14th Infantry recently retired one of its 4.2-inch mortars.
   The gun was located at Fire Support Base Patton II.  The last round was sent on its way by Specialists 4 Robert Redmond of Mobile, Ala. and Gerald Anderson of Pepin, Wis.  They were assisted by Privates First Class John Staige of Minneapolis, Minn., and Alfred Haraguchi of Hilo, Hawaii.
   The tube's last "Fire Mission" was called on a bright sunny morning as the gunner dropped the 20,000th round down the tube.  The round was on its way and another vital piece of equipment had expended its life span.
   "In accordance with Army regulations, the gun had to be retired after 20,000 rounds had been fired from it," said First Sergeant John R. Putman of Willingboro, N.J.
   "We have been firing this gun since August of 1968.  It took a little more than a full year to fire the maximum," said Putman.


THERE SHE GOES - As the "2" on the 20,000th round disappears into the retiring 4.2-inch mortar tube, Specialist 4 Gerald Anderson of Pepin, Wis., reaches for his ears to protect them from the last blast.  Private First Class John Staige of Minneapolis, Minn., and Specialist 4 Robert Redmond of Mobile, Ala., are already prepared.  (PHOTO BY SP4 FRANK DITTO) Gerald Anderson, John Staige, Robert Redmond



Page 4-5                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           September 22, 1969


2/34 Makes Craggy Slopes Craggier
                Dreadnaught Armor Stalks the Black Virgin


Photo Feature


SP4 Carl Detrick


2/34th Armor

POINT MAN - A tank from Alpha Company, 2d Battalion, 34th Armor, leads a dreadnought convoy on an assault during the 1st Brigade operation.

RESUPPLY - A tanker totes 90mm cannon rounds to resupply his tank's arsenal during a Tropic Lightning operation. 2/34th Armor
2/34th Armor BRINGING SMOKE - Dreadnaught tankers from Headquarters company adjust 90mm cannon fire onto suspected enemy positions at the base of Nui Ba Den during a reconnaissance-in-force mission.
HANG ONE! - A mortarman "hangs" a 4.2-inch mortar round in preparation to fire on enemy emplacements on the slopes of Nui Ba Den. Firing mortar
Patrolling ALERT - A recon squad from Headquarters Company stays alert while moving through the banana groves at the base of the Black Virgin Mountain north of Tay Ninh.
RUMBLIN' DOWN THAT LONESOME ROAD, a Dreadnaught Tank secures the area around Nui Ba Den. 2/34th Armor
Break Time TIME OUT - Break time between assaults on Nui Ba Den allows a moment for checking weapons and preparing for the next volley of rounds to be thrown at the mountain.
PATROL - An Alpha Company tank patrols the roads and terrain north of Tay Ninh. 2/34th Armor



Page 6                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           September 22, 1969


MEDCAP Team Aids Villagers
By PFC Dennis Bries

SP4 Frankie Lane    TAY NINH - Combined US-ARVN operations mean more than just combined combat operations to the men of the 2d Battalion (Mechanized), 22d Infantry and the 1st ARVN Airborne Battalion.
   The ARVNs and Triple Deuce also undertake highly successful combined medical civic action programs (MEDCAPs).
   The MEDCAP team, directed by Captain Willie F. Black of Columbus, Ga., has tried to improve the quality of the medical aid available to villagers.  The combined team treated 149 patients in the small village of Xom Ba recently.  The team has treated as many as 300 patients in one day in larger villages.
   To handle this many patients the medical team needs the battalion surgeon from the ARVN Battalion and two to four ARVN medics, along with Specialist 4 Frankie G. Lane of Kansas City, Kan. chief medic for Triple Deuce.
   To aid the organization and recording of illnesses treated, an interpreter and an ARVN soldier register patients and send them to see the doctor, who prescribes treatment.  From there they are treated by medics or receive the prescribed medication.
   Black said, "We feel that the combined MEDCAPs have been very successful because they not only cure the illnesses, they enable the people to help themselves."

WALK-IN DRUGSTORE - (Above right) Specialist 4 Frankie Lane of Kansas City, Kan., a medic with the 2d Battalion (Mechanized) 22nd Infantry, fills a prescription while his counterpart medic from
the 1st ARVN Battalion explains the details of the medication to a little girl's father.  The combined MEDCAP operation was held in the village of Xom Ba, southeast of Tay Ninh.  (PHOTO BY PFC DENNIS BRIES)



Ronald Knackstedt and friend John IMPERSONAL HYGIENE - Specialist 4 Ronald Knackstedt of Seattle, Wash., gives John, a mascot for Bravo Company, 2d Battalion, 27th Infantry Wolfhounds a morning bath in what might well be the world's smallest bathtub.  John doesn't seem to have his heart in it, but caught in the grasp of a fellow Wolfhound, he patiently awaits getting out.  (PHOTO BY PFC CRAIG SAMPSON)



Warriors Occupy Booby Trap Garden
By SP4 Larry Goodson

   CU CHI - Perhaps they should have named it Patrol Base Booby Trap, in honor of its most common physical feature.
   Warriors of the 2d Battalion, 12th Infantry were given the task of constructing a new patrol base eight miles northwest of Cu Chi.  The area selected as the site has been known as a booby trap finder's paradise.
   SETTING OUT on the mission, infantrymen from Bravo Company didn't find anything until they arrived at the exact location of the future patrol base.
   Then, as Private First Class Ronnie L. Clark of Opelita, Ala., tells it, "There were booby traps, everywhere.  I couldn't believe there were so many of them in such a small area."  At the end of the day, 69 booby traps had been found and disarmed.
   Most were made of tin cans filled with explosives, nails, glass and other materials that would cause casualties.
   According to Private First Class Larry Marcum of Stirrat, W. Va., many of the traps were placed together in a line forming a barrier several meters long.
   "MOST OF THE trip wires were five feet long or less," Marcum said. "In most cases the wires were tied to a bamboo stake less than six inches above ground and fixed to a grenade-type detonator placed in the buried charge."
   Sharp-eyed infantrymen were aided by mine detectors in their efforts to uncover the well-concealed traps.
   Private First Class Mark J. Garcia of Monticello, Calif., described his role in the operation.  "I used a mine detector and found quite a few traps.  The grass was very tall, sometimes up to my waist. It was almost impossible to spot them all."
   When the area was finally cleared, the 2d Brigade soldiers were ready to begin construction of the patrol base, named Lorence in honor of Specialist 4 John E. Lorence, a 2/12 infantryman killed in recent action.



Page 7                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           September 22, 1969


Tower at Hunsley, firepower demos


FIRE-POWER DEMONSTRATION - B-52 crew members touring the 2d Brigade's operations area watch a firepower demonstration at Patrol Base Hunsley.  After climbing the base's 30-foot observation tower, the airmen watched with interest - and cameras ready - as Private First Class Lyle Thomason of Dearborn Heights, Mich., a mortarman with C Company, 2d Battalion, 14th Infantry, prepared to drop a round into his weapon.  Then they saw the strike of a white phosphorous marking round, pinpointing the spot where a barrage of artillery and mortar fire hit seconds later.



Airmen Visit Infantry
         B-52 Crew Gets Down to Earth View

   CU CHI - In a day of whirlwind activity here recently a five man B-52 crew from March Air Force Base, Calif., got a firsthand look at the war as it's seen by ground troops in Vietnam.
   "It really looks different from this altitude, said Captain Robert G. Scheffel of Williston Park, N.Y., as he flew over the Tropic Lightning's 2d Brigade area in a Little Bear chopper.  "We're usually at 30,000 feet."
   It was the first helicopter ride for four of the men.  Fire Support Base Patton was the first stop, where the airmen visited the 2d Battalion, 14th Infantry's forward tactical operation center and were given a 155mm self-propelled howitzer firing demonstration put on by Alpha Battery, 3d Battalion, 13th Artillery.
   From Patton the men were flown to Patrol Base Hunsley.  Artillerymen, infantrymen, and mortarmen there combined to put on a show of Tropic Lightning firepower.
   The 3d Squadron, 4th Cavalry was on hand to show the Air Force how a Army hunter-killer team operates.  The men were also introduced to weapons used by individual infantrymen, including M-60 machineguns, M-79 grenade launchers and M-16's.
   The short trip back to Cu Chi was followed by a visit to the 3/4 Cav area, where the men saw the armament of Centaur LOH's and Huey Cobras.  Several of the crewmen also got a chance to take a closer look at helicopters - from the co-pilots seat at 1000 feet.
   Upon their return to 2d Brigade headquarters, the airmen were presented with a captured AK-47 by Colonel H.S. Long, Fire Brigade Commander from Galatin, Mo.
   "It's going to be mounted on the wall back at our squadron," said First Lieutenant Russell L. Ware, of Bristol, Va.
   "It was an impressive day," commented Captain Guy Buesxing of Monmouth, N.J., "but it was all too short."
   "The demonstrations made me appreciate more how ground troops fight," Scheffel said.  "I've nothing but respect for the men on the ground and in the helicopters."


B-52 pilots fire M-16s Two Air Force officers, First Lieutenant Russell L. Ware of Bristol, Va. (left), and Captain Guy K. Buesing of Monmouth Beach, N.J. try their hands at M-16 marksmanship at Patrol Base Hunsley.
Fire Brigade Commander Colonel H. S. Long of Galatin, Mo., (second from left) presented the visiting airmen with a captured AK47 rifle. B-52 pilots receive AK-47



Page 8                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           September 22, 1969


Enemy loses 26 to Allies
              Deuces Change NVA Morning Report
By SP4 Dennis J. Bries

   TAY NINH - In a day-long battle against the NVA in a fortified bunker complex, C Company, 2d Battalion (Mechanized), 22d Infantry, and the 73d ARVN Airborne Company relieved the enemy of 26 of his soldiers, one detainee and an assortment of weapons and web gear.
   The action was part of continued US-ARVN operations in the Boi Loi Woods, eight miles north of Trang Bang.
   The Triple Duece Company had just begun the day's sweep when they were hit with small arms, RPG, and 51 caliber machinegun fire.
   Captain Richard H. Goldsmith of Laramie, Wyo., C Company Commander, said, "The men in the company did an excellent job of holding the contact until supporting fires could be brought in."
   Before the day was over, such support included artillery from Fire Support Bases' Wood and Pershing, air strikes from the Air Force, and helicopter light fire teams from Tay Ninh Base Camp.
   "One man who did an especially outstanding job was our Third Platoon Leader, Sergeant Keeno," Goodsmith said.
   Sergeant James Keeno of Myrtle Beach, S.C., the man Goldsmith referred to, said, "I was the first one to get hit, but I decided to stay in and fight despite my wound.  Most of the men in my platoon are new in country and I felt they needed me.  The men did an outstanding job and I'm recommending several of them for valorous awards."


A LUCKY ONE - The same artillery fire that flushed out the detainee being escorted here by two ARVN soldiers decimated an NVA force.  The artillery was supporting the 73d ARVN Airborne and Tropic Lightning's 2d Battalion, 22d Infantry, whose S-3 Air officer, Captain Thomas Casey, led the detainee to the POW debriefing area at Fire Support Base Wood III.  (PHOTO BY SP4 DENNIS J. BRIES) Cpt. Thomas Casey with NVA prisoner



Dragons Trip Trap Makers

   CU CHI - On a local sweep from Patrol Base Hunsley recently, Charlie Company, 2d Battalion, 14th Infantry Golden Dragons found what looked like a Viet Cong booby trap factory.
   "We found this bunker-tunnel complex and the men started checking the holes out," said Captain Lewis Kasper of Rixey Villo, Va., "It wasn't long before they found a pile of explosives, along with detonating devices."
   The find included a handsaw, one pull-type detonator, 30 smoke grenade fuzes, one AK-47 cleaning rod and 27 rounds of AK ammunition all of which are used to construct and plant booby traps.
   The explosive material discovered included two Chicom grenades, a US Butterfly Bomb, two 82mm rounds, and two 75mm recoilless rifle rounds.
   "This type of find helps to limit the VC supply and availability of equipment.  Viet Cong find it just a little harder to find this equipment, especially when we start dropping artillery on this bunker complex intermittently during the night," added Kasper.


TRUSTING EYES - A young Vietnamese patient and her mother watch Army medic Private First Class James L. Tier of McLean, Va., as he treats sores on the little girl's leg.  Tier is part of a 3d Battalion, 13th Artillery Medical Civic Action Program team that makes weekly visits to villages in the Cu Chi area.  (PHOTO BY SP4 PAT MORRISON)


Medic James Tier



US-ARVN Team Nabs Mortar-Rocket Officer
By PFC Greg Stanmar

   CU CHI - Two companies, one US, the other ARVN, were sweeping an area in the Fire Brigade's sector near their laager site outside Fire Support Base Hunsley.
   Shortly after noon, a squad of the Vietnamese Company came alive.  They detected movement nearby and rushed to the suspected enemy location.  Minutes later they came back with one unharmed Viet Cong.
   Later it was learned that the detainee was the commander of the Eighth Artillery Battalion, responsible for keeping Sub-Region I, the 25th Division's area of operations, under mortar and rocket attack.
   THE CAPTURE was only one instance of success Delta Company, 2d Battalion, 14th Infantry and the company from the 2d Battalion, 49th ARVN Regiment have had since teaming up to build the new hardspot.
   "I think it's a good company," Private First Class Dale Parrott, Walla Walla, Wash., said of the Vietnamese unit.
   "We have some problem with the language barrier," Specialist 4 Ronald Evans, Fall River, Mass., commented.  "Often during an operation it's hard to get across who's going to do what."
   HOWEVER, THERE was no language problem the night following the capture of the VC battalion commander.
   On that night ten ARVN soldiers and ten GIs were passing near a village on their way to an ambush site when they passed 30 Viet Cong carrying timber for their bunkers.  The ambush patrol greeted the enemy unit with the full volume of their small arms, creating grazing fire described by one sergeant as "very effective."
   The result was six dead VC.


KINGS OF THE HILL - Soldiers of the 4th Battalion (Mechanized), 23d Infantry patrol on what has almost become part of their reservation, the slopes of Nui Ba Den.  The Tomahawks killed more than 100 enemy soldiers on and near the mountain during the week that began Sept. 5.  (PHOTO BY PFC SAM B. DIXON)




Thanks to
Ron Leonard, 25th Aviation Bn., for locating and mailing this issue,
Kirk Ramsey, 2nd Bn., 14th Inf. for creating this page.

This page last modified 8-12-2004

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