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Vol 4 No. 42          TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS          October 20, 1969



Unit                   Page Unit                  Page Unit                  Page Unit                  Page
1st Bde Avn                   7 2/12                                  1 2/14                                  8 4/9                                    8
1st Bde Avn Photo       7 2/12                                  3 2/14 Photo                      8 4/23 Photo                       3
1/5 Photo                        3 2/12                                  7 2/22                                  7 7/11 Arty Photos           4
1/8 Arty Photo               1 2/12                                  7 2/77 Arty                        6 7/11 Arty                         4
1/8 Arty                           1 2/12                                  8 2/77 Arty                        7 7/11 Arty Photos           4
1/8 Arty                           3 2/12                                  8 2/77 Arty Photo            7 75th Ranger  Photo        3
1/8 Arty                           8 2/14                                  2 3rd Bde                           3 75th Ranger                     3
1/8 Arty                           8 2/14  Photo                     2 3/4 Cav                           8 86th Signal                      8
1/27                                  2 2/14  Photo                     3 3/4 Cav                           8 94th Maint                       8
116 AHC Photo              8 2/14  Photo                     6 3/22                                  3 Booby Traps                   2
2nd Bde                           2 2/14                                  6 4/9 Photo                        1 Chieu Hoi                         1
2/12                                  1 2/14                                  7 4/9                                    1  


Warriors 73, Viet Cong 0
Fire Brigade GIs Triumph in 3 Lopsided Battles

   CU CHI - Ever the spoil-sports, the 2d Battalion, 12th Infantry Warriors permanently bumped 34 enemy soldiers who were on their way to a Cambodia R&R recently.
   Bravo Company Warriors on an airmobile operation 2000 meters northeast of Fire Support Base Pershing found a VC equivalent of Camp Alpha, a holding area for enemy on their way through Trang Bang and across the border.
   After first spotting movement, the Tropic Lightning soldiers called in artillery and gunship support.  Then they moved up.
   "We had landed in an open area next to heavy brush, and when the arty stopped, we moved into the thick stuff," said Private First Class Jasper Tyol of Maryville, Tenn.
   Not far into the "thick stuff," the Fire Brigade troopers discovered the results of the artillery and gunship missions.
   "There were dead and wounded VC everywhere," Tyol said. "And there were blood trails all over the place."
   Captain Norman Aschenbrenner of Decatur, Ill., Bravo Company's commander, added;  "With one of our Kit Carson scouts blaring 'chieu hoi' through a hand megaphone, we suddenly saw the head of a VC pop up out of a hole.  He jumped out, and then five more followed him.  They just kept coming out."
   The final body count for the operation reached 32, and the Warriors also rounded up 18 pounds of documents, 25 pounds of medical supplies, three K-54 pistols, three hand grenades and two sets of web gear.  There were nine detainees.  The Warriors incurred no casualties.


Former Foes Rally 'Round RVN's Flag At Bao Trai Center

   BAO TRAI - The month of September was a record breaker for the Chieu Hoi Center at Bao Trai as 350 communist soldiers became hoi chanhs and the remainder of an entire enemy company was disbanded.
   On September 29, the last member of the Viet Cong Hau Nghia City company rallied to the Government of South Vietnam and thus concluded the final stage of the unit's downfall.  This came as a result of operation Red Rose, which is a combined campaign involving Tropic Lightning's 3d Brigade and South Vietnamese troops, aimed at pacifying Hau Nghia Province.
   A hoi chanh told interrogators he had been the commander of the Hau Nghia company since June 1965.  When he rallied to the allies he said that the unit, which at one time had 120 men armed with automatic weapons, had only seven remaining members.
   Sources indicated that during the week prior to September 29, six of these men had either been killed, moved out of the district.
   The Hau Nghia company was made up of local guerrillas charged with conducting reconnaissance of U.S. and South Vietnamese units operating in the area.  The final hoi chanhs related that members of the old Hau Nghia company had been tired of the war and did not like serving for the Viet Cong, intelligence officers said.
   According to Major Cullen S. Allen of Wichita Falls, Tex., Civic Affairs officer for the 3d Brigade, cooperation between U.S. and South Vietnamese forces was a significant factor in the VC unit's demise.
   "We've been working together in operation Red Rose, combining our intelligence systems to locate local guerrillas and utilizing Armed Propaganda Teams (APTs) as much as possible," Allen said.  An APT is made up of U.S. and South Vietnamese psychological operations officers and their assistants.
   Hoi chanhs accompany APTs to the hamlets, where they make personal contact with a potential rallier or his family.
   "It's a face to face operation," explained Allen.  "We try to make the individual realize it is his patriotic duty to chieu hoi."

Sgt. Gary Bronson at piano SWINGING SERGEANT Gary L. Bronson, a Tropic Lightning squad leader before he was named the best Army instrumental soloist in Vietnam at the USARV Entertainment contest finals, gets in some practice time at the Cu Chi Service Club.  (PHOTO BY SP4 GARY SCIORTINO)



Manchu Pianist Is Best in 'Nam

   CU CHI - Tropic Lightning's pianist sergeant, Gary L. Branson, won the title of best instrumental Soloist in the USARV Entertainment Contest at Tan Son Nhut's MACV Auditorium October 5.
   Playing jazz versions of "Autumn Leaves" and "Sunny," Branson won the hearts and minds of the contest judges.
   THE SWINGING triumph capped a series of events that saw Branson nearly miss entering the competition in the first place and then face the task of playing in the III Corps finals shortly after being involved in a helicopter crash.
   Branson, now a member of the division band but formerly a squad leader with Bravo Company, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Manchus, happened to be in Cu Chi for an appointment the day the division level part of the USARV contest was held.
   He entered the competition only five minutes before it began, but was judged best instrumental soloist, earning the right to advance to the corps finals at Bien Hoa September 21.
   THE HELICOPTER he was riding to Bien Hoa had an engine failure, and made a forced landing in a rice paddy outside the city.
   Arriving in Saigon at 11 a.m., he had to sit down at an unfamiliar piano at 2 p.m.  He won the best instrumental soloist title again, setting the stage for his triumph in the USARV finals 'two weeks later.
   Branson, who holds a bachelor of arts degree in music from Illinois Wesleyan University at Bloomington, Ill., first began playing the piano when he was in first grade.  A year later, he no longer needed a teacher to coerce him into playing the piano regularly.
   WHEN HE WAS ten he began playing solos for local social functions, and by the time he was 14, he has started his own dance band.  A year later he joined the American Federation of Musicians.
   Before entering the Army in 1968, Branson taught choral music for two years at Jefferson High School in Lafayette, Ind.
   "I can create more types of music with a piano than I could with any other instrument," Branson said.  "For me, it's the instrument that holds the most avenues of expression."

1/8th Artillery howitzers
DOUBLE-BARRELED BLAST - Two 105mm howitzers from Bravo Battery, 1st Battalion, 8th Artillery fire away in support of a 2d Battalion, 12th Infantry operation.  (PHOTO BY SP4 KEN BARRON)



Automatic 8th Keeps Charlie in Bind

   CU CHI - Pounding the dirt and brush west of the Mushroom area for more than five hours, Bravo Battery, 1st Battalion, 8th Field Artillery backed up the Fire Brigade's 2d Battalion, 12th Infantry with more than 1100 rounds during a recent battle.
   Alpha and Bravo Companies of the 2d Brigade Warriors were on a sweep in a heavily wooded area north of Bravo Battery's location at Fire Support Base Pershing.  The infantrymen came into contact with a well entrenched NVA force concealed in bunkers.
   FIRST LIEUTENANT Kenneth L. Lancaster of Marshall, Ill., an Automatic Eighth forward observer, began calling in blocking artillery fire south of the contact location about noon.  The vegetation was so dense that Lancaster had difficulty determining where the 105mm projectiles were landing.
   As the Warriors continued to receive small arms fire, the artillery volleys were adjusted in on the NVA bunkers.  The six 105mm howitzers were firing high explosive projectiles with variable time fuzes.
   Second Lieutenant Gary B. Tucker of Houston, the battery fire direction officer, said, "By firing what is called a 'battery right' we had rounds dropping on enemy positions at the rate of one every ten seconds.  This kept the enemy pinned down and stopped them from breaking off the contact."
   WHILE THE battery continued to hammer the enemy strongholds, an ammunition resupply convoy arrived.  Several cannoneers from each of the howitzer sections unloaded and uncrated the 105 projectiles.   The firing continued as the new ammo was fuzed and fired.
   Even though the contact was broken by late afternoon, the job had not ended for the artillery.  The 1/8 cannoneers from Bravo Battery continued to pound suspected enemy locations throughout the night.


Page 2                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           October 20, 1969


Home-made booby trap AN OLD smoke grenade detonator is used to strike the primer of a rifle round in this VC-style booby trap, made from an old fish can stuffed with glass, nails, metal scraps and miscellaneous debris.
TRIP WIRE - The thin trip wire used by the enemy to set off the home-made fragmentation mine is hard to spot in rainy season grassland.  (PHOTOS BY PFC JIM WILLIAMS) Trip wire


Smoke Grenades Become VC Mines

   Stop and think.  The next time you pop smoke, you may be putting a buddy in the hospital.
   The firing mechanisms from expended smoke grenades are the key parts in booby traps now being used extensively by VC in the Tropic Lightning operations area.  At the construction site of the 2d Brigade's Patrol Base Lorence alone, more than 70 of the homemade weapons were discovered and disarmed.
   THE DEVICE doesn't kill.  But it sends fragments of glass and shrapnel flying far and fast enough that a careless GI can lose a hand or find his body and legs riddled with a thousand painful holes.
   Construction of the booby traps is simple.  The enemy recovers the firing pin and spring housing from several of the hundreds of smoke canisters left behind by US and ARVN forces.  With a little bit of drilling, he can enlarge the opening to hold the casing and primer from an unfired AK-47 or M-16 round.
   When loaded, the device for his purposes is as good as new.
   THE RECHARGED mechanism is put into a tin can filled with explosive, nails, glass, shreds of sheet metal, pellets and sometimes just tiny stones.  The top is sealed with wax to keep moisture out.
   The deadly conglomeration is hooked up to a stake and trip wire and then left in hedgerows or along paths for unsuspecting soldiers.
   The loaded cans are hard to spot, since the firing devices are charred and blackened from previous use, and the metal containers are weathered.  But there are clues to their locations.  Where you find one, you will very likely find more.
   "CHARLIE LIKES to set them up in a series on line in one direction," said Specialist 4 Douglas Long of North Webster, Ind., who participated in the massive search for the boobytraps at Lorence.  "We kept finding them and finding them that way."
   Although the employment of the mines is not complex, they can produce serious casualties.  And as long as the materials are left lying around for him to use, the enemy will continue to put them together.


Re-up NCO Tells It Like It Is

   CU CHI - The secret is not to push, not to wheedle, and to keep right down the line straight.
   That's the word from Platoon Sergeant George F. Naze of Marlboro, Mass., who for three months has led the division in the number of men he has helped re-enlist.
   Naze is the recruiting NCO for the Fire Brigade's 2d Battalion, 14th Infantry Golden Dragons.   Since June, he has been Tropic Lightning's top re-up specialist.
   "THE ARMY is perhaps the biggest instructional institution in the world.  And it seems a shame for a man to let the chance for learning a chosen trade pass him by," Naze says.
   "Most of the men I work with are infantrymen on line with an MOS of 11B or 11C.  They realize that they can benefit from the Army in later life by going into some on-the-job training and learn a skill."
   "I always try to tell a man exactly what I can do for him and then let him make up his own mind," he said.  "Of course, the individual has to realize that the battery of tests that he took at the reception station is the important factor."
   NAZE ADDED that he never encourages a man to join for more than three years.  After that time, the man will know if he likes the Army well enough to make a career of the service.
   For his outstanding work, Naze received two letters of commendation from Major General Ellis W. Williamson, former division commander.

SFC George Naze, PFC Robert Stiava HERE'S YOUR CHOICE - Sergeant First Class George F. Naze, re-enlistment NCO for the 2d Battalion, 14th Infantry, explains potential benefits to Private First Class Robert Stiava, a recent client.  (PHOTO BY SP4 FRANK DITTO)



R&R Extended at 5 Sites

   If you've been planning to go to Bangkok, Hong Kong, Manila, Singapore or Taipei for your R&R, you have a pleasant surprise coming.
   Ground time at those R&R sites will be extended from five to six nights effective November 1, the division Adjutant General's office has announced.  Time at the other sites will not change.
   The AG office also reminds Tropic Lightning soldiers that the khaki uniform is still required on flights to Hong Kong, Bangkok and Taipei, but is optional enroute to other sites.


Books Available

   The Special Services Library has free paperback books to distribute to Army units in Vietnam.  Unit commanders are encouraged to contact the Field Distribution Center, U.S. Army Library, RVN, APO in-country 96348( phone 8-922-4350).


                 Combat Honor Roll

   Private First Class Williard C. Humphrey, a medic assigned to D Company of the 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry, has been added to the Tropic Lightning Combat Honor Roll.
   While established in a night ambush position, elements of Humphrey's company came in contact with a reinforced enemy squad, and during an initial exchange of fire, the Wolfhound platoon leader and several other men were seriously wounded.
   Humphrey, despite the hail of enemy fire, maneuvered to the wounded man nearest him, moving the man to a safe location and administering first aid.
   Spotting another injured man nearby, Humphrey again moved through the perilous area of contact.  After treating that man, he moved to the aid of still another wounded comrade.
   After a medical evacuation helicopter had been called to the area, Humphrey treated his wounded platoon leader.
   His actions were responsible for saving several lives.


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:

Sept. 24
PFC Frederick P. Raby, A 4/23, girl

Sept. 28
Sgt Ronald G. Hogue, A 3/22, girl

Sept. 29
Sp4 Donald V. Horn, B 4/23, girl

Sept. 30
PFC Robert Bainbridge, A 4/23, girl

Oct. 1
PFC Richard Foster, 187th AHC, girl

Oct. 2
Sgt. George Kibler, B 3/4, boy
SSgt James Sontag, HHC 4/23, girl
PFC S.D. Wright, A 65th Eng, boy
Sp4 Lawrence Hargis, B 588th Eng, boy

Oct. 3
Sp4 William S. Llewelyn, 25th MP Co, boy
Oct. 3
Sp4 Clarence W. Sauls, D 2/22, boy

Oct. 4
Maj Warren J. Field, Hq 25th Inf, boy
PFC George Young, HHB 7/11, girl
Sgt Richard F. Bourgelas, D 2/12, boy
PFC Paul K. Whritenour, B 25th S&T Bn, girl

Oct. 5
PFC Charles Ingram, D 3/4, boy
Cpt Morris H. Moses, Hq 25th Med Bn, boy

Oct. 6
PFC Roy Prunty, D 2/12, girl
Sp4 Thomas Lacy, B 3/4, boy

Oct. 7
PFC Bennie C. Joiner, A 1/27, girl

Oct. 8
Sp4 William E. Cooper, C 1/5, boy
Sp4 David Riling, 25th Admin Co, 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
SP4 Harold O. Anderson . .  Assistant Editor
SGT John Genitti. . . . . . . . . . Production Supervisor


SP4 Dennis Bries
SP4 Bill Frame
SP4 Sam Dixon
SP4 K.C.Cullen
SGT Larry Goodson
PFC Jim Williams
SP5 Pete Freeman
PFC Richard Sears
SP4 Carl Detrick
SP4 Frank Ditto
PFC Greg Stanmar
PFC Jim Stalnaker
SP4 Phil Jackson
PFC Craig Sampson
SP4 Pat Morrison
SP4 Ken Baron
SP5 Tony DeBlasio
PFC Rich Fitzpatrick
SP4 Ken Fairman


Page 3                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           October 20, 1969


LTC Frederick C. Delisle TAKING COMMAND of the 1st Battalion (Mechanized), 5th Infantry in recent ceremonies was Lieutenant Colonel Frederick C. Delisle.  He succeeds Lieutenant Colonel Robert A. Kurek, who had led the Bobcats since June 10.  Kurek moves to Division Operations section to become Chief of Staff.  Delisle was Cu Chi base camp defense coordinator before taking the battalion command. NEW COMMANDER of the 4th Battalion (Mechanized), 23d Infantry is Lieutenant Colonel James E. Coggins of Ewa Beach, Hawaii, who succeeds Lieutenant Colonel G. E. Taylor of Shelby, N.C.  Coggins previously served as executive officer of Tropic Lightning's 3d Brigade.  Taylor moves to a command in the 3d Armor Division in Germany. LTC James E. Coggins



Warriors Mark 108th Birthday

   Today marks the 108th anniversary of Tropic Lightning's 2d Battalion, 12th Infantry, which was born in the Civil War year of 1861.  This month is also the completion of the Warriors' third year of combat in Vietnam.
   Having been actively involved in the Civil War, three Indian campaigns, the Spanish-American War, the Philippine Insurrection, World War II and now the Vietnam conflict, the Warriors are credited with participation in a total of 26 major campaigns and have earned three Presidential Unit Citations.  A Medal of Honor winner has also fought in the battalion.
   Current Warrior Commander is Lieutenant Colonel Burton J. Walrath of Arlington, Va.

TWO RANGERS, one American and one Vietnamese, show how a combined long-range reconnaissance patrol operation begins by charging off a landing helicopter during a demonstration and award presentation for Tropic Lightning's 75th Infantry Rangers.  (PHOTO BY SP4 DAN ZALDIVAR) 75th Rangers



Ceremony at Cu Chi:
       Rangers Win ARVN Thanks

   CU CHI - In recognition and gratitude for their assistance, men of Tropic Lightning's Company F, 75th Infantry Rangers (LRRP) were awarded the ARVN Long-Range Reconnaissance Patrol Wing in recent ceremonies at the Lightning Combat Leaders' School in Cu Chi.
   The presentation was made by First Lieutenant Nguyen Quang Canh, commander of the 25th ARVN Division's Reconnaissance Company to 45 men of the 1st and 2d Platoons of Company F.  It was the first time that Americans had been awarded the Reconnaissance Patrol Wing.
   THE AWARDS ceremony was preceded by a demonstration of helicopter insertion, extraction and rope-descending procedures used by the combined US-ARVN teams in their operations.
   The ARVN Rangers have worked with the men of Company F for four months.  First Lieutenant Arthur Tomaschek of Allentown, Pa., Ranger commander, had nothing but praise for the ARVN Rangers.
   "They came up here from Duc Moa," he said.  "They were excellent soldiers when they got here, and we are giving them some intensive training in our operations, tactics and artillery and radio techniques.
   "THEY ARE aggressive soldiers," Tomaschek added.  "They are so eager that only a week ago one of our teams spotted eight Viet Cong in a field.  The enemy took off in all directions and the ARVN's learned fast.  They helped us, too.  They were especially good at finding booby traps and locating enemy hiding places."
   MAJOR GENERAL Harris W. Hollis, commanding general of the US 25th Infantry Division, was on hand for the award ceremony.  Hollis commended the unit for its outstanding performance, and praised the progress that has been made as a result of teamwork and the mutual development of skills.


Soldiers Battle Bull Run

   CU CHI - Two cannoneers from Bravo Battery, 1st Battalion, 8th Field Artillery recently acted as Oriental-style cowboys in coming to the aid of a small damsel-in-distress at Fire Support Base Pershing.
   A tiny Vietnamese girl about seven years old had been leading one of her family's most valued possessions, a large brown bull, along Highway 6A, when the animal broke free.
   ENJOYING HIS newly found freedom and ready to roam the wide open spaces of Vietnam, the bull promptly ran through the open gate at the Fire Brigade base and cleverly trapped himself between the first two rows of barbed wire on Pershing's perimeter.
   Captain David A. Zamory of St. Louis, the Bravo Battery commander, said, "The little Vietnamese girl was on the outside of the wire with streams of tears running down her face, and she seemed certain that we would kill her animal and she would never see it again."
   Sergeant Curtis E. Thacker of McDermott, Ohio, a section chief, and Private First Class Robert E. Watson of Formosa, Kan., decided to try their hands at wrangling.
   SO THE Automatic Eighth artillerymen herded, yelled, jumped over claymore mines, cajoled, ran, fell down, ensnared themselves in concertina tape and 40 minutes later had the situation well in hand.
   The bull was finally returned to its tiny owner, who was overjoyed at getting him back.  And it is most likely that she departed a confirmed ally of the Tropic Lightning artillerymen.


Philippines Learn To Use M-60's

   TAY NINH - The security battalion for the Philippines' Civic Action Group compound wanted to utilize M-60 machine guns to improve the defense of their area in Tay Ninh West base camp.  They turned to the 3d Battalion, 22d Infantry for assistance in training and instructing their men in the use and maintenance of the M-60's.
   The Regulars had the man for the job in Sergeant John Sharp, a squad leader with Charlie Company.  For his help, Sharp was guest of honor at a party held in the security battalion's officer's club and the recipient of a plaque for his efforts.
   Sharp, of Sarnia, Ontario, Canada, lived with the battalion for a week, teaching the troops the little tricks of maintaining the guns and getting the most from them.  Being there constantly, he was able to answer questions on a man-to-man basis.  He could also see how another army lived and worked.
   The sergeant commented, "Anyone could have done the instruction with the excellent cooperation which I received from the men."

CURE FOR A HOT HEAD - Private First Class Domingo Gomez of Ogelby, Tex., finds an easy way to take a portable if not potable shower while on operations with Golden Dragons of the 2d Battalion, 14th Infantry near Trung Lap.  (PHOTO BY SP4 FRANK DITTO) PFC Domingo Gomez



Page 4-5                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           October 20, 1969


Loading C-130
Loading C-130
Taking Off
ONE COULD, without too much exaggeration, call it the 7th Battalion, 11th Airmobile Artillery.  The On Time, On Target cannoneers showed their mobility again recently in a Tay Ninh - Thien Ngon - Tay Ninh move that brought added firepower to a U.S. Special Forces-Vietnamese CIDG camp for three days.  Above, one of the battalion's six l05mm howitzers is backed into a C130 transport plane at Thien Ngon airstrip for the trip back to Tay Ninh while a Muleskinner Chinook hauls back other equipment and unexpended ammunition.  The first C130 takes off (bottom photo) while the remaining artillerymen watch.


Photo Feature by SP5 Pete Freeman



On-Timers' Airborne Artillery Drops In On Berets, CIDG

   THIEN NGON - The ability of artillery to keep up with infantry, anywhere, anytime, was demonstrated again recently when "B" Battery, 7th Battalion, 11th Field Artillery was airlifted out of Fire Support Base Buell and flown 20 miles north into War Zone C, where it moved into the Special Forces, CIDG Camp here.
   Bravo Battery had been called on to fire artillery support for CIDG infantrymen operating near the Cambodian border, three miles northwest of here, in an area where they have made repeated contact with NVA forces coming in from their Cambodian sanctuary.
   Making good use of the recently overhauled airstrip at Thien Ngon and with help from the Air Force, the artillerymen and their six 105mm howitzers were flown back to Tay Ninh on C130 transport planes.
   The six guns and gun crews went on the first two C-130 flights, while CH-47 Muleskinner Chinooks flew six sorties in taking back leftover ammo and other equipment.  The remaining personnel and two vehicles returned on the third C-130 flight, but not before stopping in Bien Hoa to refuel.
   All in all it was quite a different day for the nomadic artillerymen from Bravo Battery, especially for the personnel on the final flight, who flew out of the northern woods of War Zone C and found themselves eating a sandwich and drinking a soda at the Bien Hoa Airport before finally returning to Buell.

Fire Away
CONTACT - The 7/11 cannoneers get off one of their last rounds before leaving Thien Ngon, where they fired in support of CIDG infantrymen.


Heave Ho!
LABOR INTENSIVE - Getting a howitzer on board an airplane requires manpower galore.


Ready and waiting
WAITING FOR TO GO - Howitzers and cannoneers await the arrival of transport planes to return them to Tay Ninh.


Moving howitzer
MOVING OUT - Bravo Battery Soldiers hump a 105 out from its parapet to the Thien Ngon airstrip.


Howitzer on-board COFFEE, TEA OR OIL? - An unusual passenger confronts a C130 crew.



Page 6                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           October 20, 1969


Ask Sgt. Certain

DEAR SARGE:  Last payday I went over to the PX, and the line was so long the men on the end were outside the fifth wire.  By the time I got in, all that was left was a size four pair of sneakers, two sets of seat covers for a 1956 Oldsmobile, a bag of petrified Chuckles on sale for three cents and an October 1962 copy of Mademoiselle.  My threats to take my business elsewhere don't seem to do any good.  What can I do?
   A customer

DEAR CUST:  You could, of course, have your family keep sending you things from back in the World.  That way you'd get even with the PX and at the same time pay back the APO for hiding all your mail.  That would take a long time, however.  Your best bet would be to extend to become a PX line supervisor.  Or, if you can't wait that long and really need something the PX doesn't have, you could just go into Saigon and go to the market.

DEAR SARGE:  There is a lot of controversy in our unit about whether or not you should walk on rice paddy dikes when you're out on a sweep.  What is the official policy on this?

DEAR UNDECIDED:  As everyone knows, the VC like to put mines and booby traps on the dikes because they think American soldiers, being lazy and liking to keep their feet dry, will walk on the dikes to save trouble.  However, American soldiers have cleverly outwitted Charlie, even though they do like to keep their feet dry, by walking in the paddies themselves.  Now, the question is: will the VC start putting the mines in the paddies, or, having been shown how clever Americans are, will they think the Americans will think that's what they'll do, and leave the booby traps on the dikes.  Maybe they'll even think that we'd know they knew we knew that they'd planned, and put them in the paddies after all.  See your re-enlistment NCO.

DEAR SARGE:  I'm an infantry squad leader and am considering re-upping for a burst of six.  How can I tell what my Variable Re-enlistment Bonus would be?

DEAR ANX:  It's easy: Take the square root of your MOS, add the average number of times per week you have roast beef, multiply by the most cans of beer you ever drank in a one-hour period, subtract your height, and divide by the number of jungle hats stolen from you this month.  Now you have your VRB prefix.  Everybody knows what to do after that.

That homey touch

Hunsley Gets 'Dragon Modern' Decor


   CU CHI - Those not initiated into the ways of life in an Army patrol base may think that mortars are only to provide infantry support fire.
   Not so - at least not as far as troopers of the Fire Brigade's 2d Battalion, 14th Infantry are concerned.
   The men of the Dragons' Bravo Company at Patrol Base Hunsley in the Ho Bo Woods are convinced one of the mortars' primary attributes is the wooden boxes their ammunition comes in.
   IN THE WIRY scrub brush of Hunsley's locale where lumber is scarce the smooth pine boards from the boxes are something no infantryman-carpenter could resist.
   One of the best examples of field expediency is a first platoon easy chair, complete with studded upholstery and back rest.  The chair was put together in two hours from pine boards, sandbags and nails with innertube finishing for the tucking.
   WHEN THE company first moved into the area to build the base, latrines were made from sandbags and engineer stakes.
   The story still goes around about the guy they had to pull out of one similar impromptu arrangement.
   Now, however, thanks to the ammo boxes Hunsley sports the "Best Privies North of Saigon," at least in the eyes of one Bravo medic.


'Country Doctor' Makes MEDCAP Hootch Calls

   CU CHI - A Medical Civic Action (MEDCAP) Team from the 2d Battalion, 77th Artillery, boarded Navy river patrol boats at Go Dau Ha recently to make the final leg of a 32-mile trip to An Thoi, an isolated village near the Vam Co Dong River.
   The trip was the first to this remote village for the artillery unit team.  Captain John M. Totten of Olney, Ill., the psychological operations officer for the 2/77, said the reception was enthusiastic.
   CAPTAIN JAMES E. Allen of St. Louis, who is the unit's "country doctor," spent the day examining and treating the villagers.  He told the seriously ill how to get medical help by visiting medical facilities at Cu Chi and Saigon.
   "The greatest asset of the MEDCAP program is the establishment of a practice in different villages and hamlets through routine visits," Allen said.  "This gives us a chance to treat chronic problems with repeated calls and referrals."
   Allen and his colleagues have nothing but praise for the cooperation MEDCAPs get from Vietnamese government medical centers.  He said they enable MEDCAPs to operate efficiently and smoothly.
   "PATIENTS WITH birth defects and skin cancer are referred to the 3d Field Hospital at Saigon where surgeons spend extra hours performing plastic surgery," he said.
   Allen added, "The trip to An Thoi by boat proved that no area is so isolated that we can't reach it."
   The visits to An Thoi will continue, according to Totten.  "We have two objectives: we must establish respect and cooperation among the people, the civilian officials and the country's Army, and we must improve the health environment," he said.


Page 7                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           October 20, 1969


No Time for Panic; LOH Lands Safely

   TAY NINH - "I heard something hit the chopper, then the crack of AK and .30 caliber rounds, and I knew we'd been hit."
   For Warrant Officer Robert Ecker of Panama City, Fla., the pilot of the 1st Brigade Aviation Detachment LOH, it was a harrowing experience, to say the least.
   ECKER WAS flying over the Boi Loi Woods, where the 2d Battalion (Mechanized), 22d Infantry had been securing a Rome plow operation when his light helicopter suddenly was riddled with enemy bullets.  There was no time for panic.  Ecker's reaction was swift, cool and precise.
   "We were losing altitude fast and I could only think of one thing, 'I've got to get this bird out of here.'  I kept cranking it up but we kept falling.  Finally the nose leveled off just in time to miss a tall tree."
   He managed to stay in the air until he got to Fire Support Base Wood III, the nearest secure landing spot.  "I could have sworn we were gone as those trees below almost met us," Ecker said.
   The extent of damage was not determined until after the ship landed at Wood.
   "We had holes from the front bubble to the tail rudder and from the skid supports to the main propeller blades," Ecker said.  "With that many holes I don't know how we got out alive, much less to Wood."

WARRANT OFFICER Robert M. Ecker inspects part of the damage done to his LOH by enemy anti-aircraft fire in the Boi Loi Woods.  Despite the damage, Ecker managed to land the chopper safely at Fire Support Base Wood Ill.  (PHOTO BY SP4 DENNIS J. BRIES) WO Robert M. Ecker



Mobile Paddy Platform:
        Decks Speed Arty Support

   CU CHI - Airmobile artillery platforms that will speed artillery support for infantry units are being put into use by the 2d Battalion, 77th Artillery.
   Called "paddy platforms," the new mobile artillery decks are just large enough to seat the new M-102 howitzer.  They are specifically designed for use in swampy terrain and were previously employed by the 9th Infantry Division in the Mekong Delta.
   "WE PLAN to use the platforms in the swampy regions west and south of the Vam Co Dong river at our fire support bases," Major Robert D. Helman of Louisville, the battalion S-3, said.
   "They can be airlifted immediately and placed into position quickly.  The platforms will be airlifted with the guns already mounted and as soon as they are emplaced we can begin putting out fire," Helman said.  "They will enable us to airlift into rice paddies and support the infantry for one or two day operations."
   The Up Tight cannoneers will use three of the six platforms for guns and the remainder for gun crews and ammunition.
   PADDY PLATFORM decks measure 18 by 23 feet, which allows for 360 degree traversing.  They are equipped with pre-fabricated bunkers which are sandbagged and bolted to the deck.
   The platforms are designed for emplacement in rice paddies having a mud base covered with water up to two feet deep.  They can absorb the loads that may be imposed by sustained firing or dropping the weapon or supplies from a height of two or three feet.
   Adjustable jacks at the four corners are used to level the platforms. A thick coat of anti-skid paint on paddy platform decks allows for maximum control of weapons.

GIANT LILY PADS?  They may be, but the croakers who sit on them are the new M-102 howitzers of the 2d Battalion, 77th Artillery.  These new mobile paddy platforms can be airlifted with guns mounted into the swampy lowlands of the 3d Brigade's area of operations.  (PHOTO BY PFC DOUG SAINSBURY) Howizter platform



Viet Cong Rocks It To Him

   CU CHI - For a while recently one Warrior thought the Viet Cong had reverted to the Stone Age.
   Sergeant Gary Ricci of Staten Island, N.Y., on a reconnaissance-in-force mission with the 2d Battalion, 12th Infantry, was moving his squad through an enemy hootch complex toward the rest of his platoon when he saw something moving in a hedgerow.
   Suddenly, out of the hedgerow came a startled, hysterical Viet Cong charging toward Ricci with a rock in his hand and screaming at the top of his lungs.
   When he neared Ricci, the VC threw the rock and ran on past, where members of the squad hit him with M-16 fire.
   "At first I thought it was a grenade and I figured I was dead," said Ricci later.  "But all I got was a bruise."


Warriors' Totem Comes To Cu Chi

   CU CHI - On a recent expedition beginning and ending in Cu Chi, a group of 2d Battalion, 12th Infantry Warriors retrieved what is thought to be the only totem pole in the Republic of Vietnam.
   The pole had remained in front of the old Battalion Headquarters at Dau Tieng when the 2d Battalion, 12th Infantry moved to Cu Chi.  It was brought to Vietnam from Fort Lewis, Wash., where it stood to commemorate the major conflicts in which the Warriors have fought.
   The totem pole is about 40 feet long and contains six carved figures in the main body.  A large wooden Combat Infantryman's Badge near the top and a 2/12 unit crest at the bottom also decorate the pole.
   The wooden figures are manikins in the battle dress worn by each enemy soldier during the time of the war represented.  From bottom to top the status symbolize the War of 1812 (a British Regular); the Mexican War (a Mexican soldier); and the American Civil War (a Confederate infantryman).  An Indian Chief stands for the many North American Indian Campaigns; a Spanish soldier represents the Cuban insurrection; and a Nazi German storm trooper typifies the enemy in WWII.  An additional figure of an NVA soldier has been added on the pole.

Vietnamese Bullfight

Bull Fight
NERVES CAN be taut by the end of the day, even if you are cattle on the hoof, as demonstrated by two bulls locking horns and a third stepping in to make his point.  The beef, which ended in a draw, was witnessed by men of the 2d Battalion, 14th Infantry who were passing - cautiously - through the area.  (PHOTO BY PFC GREG STANMAR)



Page 8                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           October 20, 1969


Airmobile Hits Boi Loi Lair

   CU CHI - A cordon and search operation ripped off with dazzling speed and surgical accuracy enabled Alpha Company Warriors to kill 20 VC and put an end to an enemy sanctuary on the edge of the Boi Loi Woods.
   The 2d Battalion, 12th Infantry soldiers, who took no casualties themselves, were airlifted into the village of Ong Dam, three kilometers southeast of Fire Support Base Pershing and reacted so fast that, according to Specialist 4 Kurt Kotter of Franklin, Idaho: "We hit them so quickly they were frightened right into their holes."
   "Some of the bunkers looked like anthills," said Kotter, "and we had to go probing with knives and sticks to find the entrances."
   Private First Class Steve Ryan of Fort Wayne, Ind., was providing security when the ground next to him started to move.
   "A VC poked his head out of the hole," Ryan said. "He looked around and saw me and ducked back into his hole."
   "Fragging" the hole with a hand grenade left three VC dead and three AK-47's destroyed.
   Twenty enemy soldiers fell at the hands of the Warriors, and the GIs' digging excavated one 9mm pistol, and .45 caliber pistol, 8 AK magazines, two pounds of medical supplies, 11 pounds of documents and two ChiCom grenades.  Fifteen AK-47 rifles were destroyed or captured.
   One of the day's best finds was the guidon from the C4 company of the Trang Bang Battalion.


Stop, Look, And Listen Six NVA Learn

   TAY NINH - Six NVA soldiers picked the wrong place to take a late afternoon stroll recently when they walked right into a group of Charlie Company Manchus waiting at a pickup zone.
   The PZ was 12 miles southwest of Tay Ninh, near the tangled Straight Edge Woods, where the 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry soldiers had just spent two days and nights on a bushmaster.
   "We had moved into the woodline next to our PZ and set up, waiting to be lifted out," said Staff Sergeant Daniel J. Ilk of Oshkosh, Wis.
   The men were spread out and taking it easy when a small element of enemy soldiers walked out into the open.
   "I looked up, and from my left about 300 or 400 meters out, I saw old Charlie come diddly-bopping across the field right in front of me," added Specialist 4 William Ozanich of Manistique, Mich.
   The Manchus waited until the enemy troops were as close as they were going to get.  Then they opened up, with machineguns and M-79 grenade launchers.
   The Manchus later rounded up two AK-47s, an RPG launcher and four RPG rounds to go with the body count of six before finally boarding their helicopters and heading back home.


AP Plots Downfall of 19 Foe
By Sgt. Larry Goodson

   CU CHI - Claymores, small arms and gunships - all directed by cool-headed Warriors of the Fire Brigade's 2d Battalion, 12th Infantry - wiped out an enemy force, killing 19, less than 3000 meters north of Fire Support Base Pershing.
   Enroute to a scheduled night ambush site, the 1st platoon of the battalion's Delta Company surprised and captured a VC medic who, when interrogated, revealed the presence of other enemy in the immediate area.
   While still in their holding area, the infantrymen of the 2d Brigade spotted 23 hostile soldiers moving toward their position.
   As Specialist 4 Chuck Humphrey, of McAllen, Tex., remembered it: "There were two big groups and a couple of VC moving by themselves."
   Most of the enemy moved into some nearby hootches and began to prepare for a night of rest.  However, three of them stayed behind planting booby traps.
   Specialist 4 Wayne Miskimen of Falsum, Calif., said, "Since we weren't planning to stay there, we hadn't set out our claymores.  I knew some of the enemy were close, but when I moved out to set up my claymore, I spotted three about 25 meters away."
   Miskimen aimed the mine directly at the enemy, backtracked to his position and squeezed the detonator.  That eliminated the most immediate danger.
   Instantly, the entire platoon of Warriors opened fire on the remaining enemy.  Flareships dropped light from the sky while 2/12 mortar fire from Pershing rained on the enemy location.  Helicopter gunships soon arrived on the scene, pouring deadly fire on the already frustrated and crippled enemy unit.
   Private First Class Gary L. Holloway remarked, "The gunships were really fantastic.  We couldn't have asked for more or better air support."
   Fire and maneuver tactics were employed by the infantrymen as they advanced through the enemy positions.
   "The choppers kept steady fire in front of us while we were assaulting, "Holloway added.
   The sweep of the battlefield produced 19 enemy bodies.  The Warriors suffered no casualties.
   First Platoon Leader Second Lieutenant Terrence O'Connel of Franklinville, N.Y., commented on his platoon's performance:  "The men were really outstanding.  Everyone did his job and a little more."

AN EMPTY - Private First Class James M. Scheurich of Bloomington, Calif., flips an empty cannister away from his 105mm howitzer as B Battery, 1st Battalion, 8th Artillery, backs up Fire Brigade infantrymen.  (PHOTO BY SP4 KEN BARRON) PFC James Scheurich



Talent Shines At USARV Finals

   CU CHI - The Tropic Lightning Division was represented by enough talent to keep the Ed Sullivan Show going for weeks in the USARV Entertainment Contest competition.
   In addition to Sergeant Gary Branson, the pianist who won the title as instrumental soloist in the competition, Private First Class Edward Perkins, New Orleans, of A Company, 2d Battalion, 14th Infantry, took second place in the vocal soloist category at the USARV finals.
   Two 25th Division entries placed second in the III Corps finals.
   Private First Class Sylvester Smith, Oklahoma City, Okla., of E Company, 2d Battalion, 14th Infantry, was runner-up to Perkins in the Solo singing competition.
   And a jazz trio of Specialist 4 Joe Putiri, Woodbury, N.J., of the 94th Maintenance Company on drums, Staff Sergeant Victor Belgrove, Neptune, N.J., of the 86th Signal Battalion on bass and Specialist 4 Mike Hamilton, Detroit, of C Troop, 3d Squadron, 4th Cavalry on piano, finished a close second in its category.


Cav Awarded NVA Flag

   FSB HAMPTON - A captured North Vietnamese Flag was presented to the 3d Squadron, 4th Cavalry by the 3/10 Cav (ARVN) as a gesture of their appreciation after the ARVNs had undergone a one week refresher training course conducted by the 3/4 Cav.  The captured flag had been taken by the ARVNs in a previous engagement.


Arty Checks Infiltrators

   CU CHI - Bravo Battery, 1st Battalion, 8th Field Artillery fired 175 high explosive rounds into an enemy infiltration route north of Cu Chi in a night fire mission that resulted in 20 NVA dead.
   The mission began shortly after radar at Patrol Base Hunsley made an initial contact of enemy forces approximately 700 meters west of the perimeter.  Sergeant Morrison R. Plaisance, Golden Meadow, La., a recon sergeant for the Automatic Eighth, sighted about 40 to 60 enemy soldiers along the edge of a brush line.
   He had the grid coordinates cleared through his fire direction center, and the six 105mm howitzers of Bravo Battery fired the 175 variable time and high explosive projectiles within a 15 minute period.
   Second Lieutenant Gary B. Tucker of Houston, who is Bravo's fire Direction officer, said, "Large numbers of NVA forces have been sighted in the vicinity of the infiltration route, which runs between a 'rome-plowed' area and some rice paddies."

2/14th waits for Hornets
AFTER SWEEPING through the Citadel, Bravo Company, 2d Battalion, 14th Infantry Golden Dragons gets ready to board seven ships of the 116th Assault Helicopter Company.  (PHOTO BY SP4 FRANK DITTO)



Thanks to:
Roger Welt, 4th Bn., 23rd Inf., and a Tropic Lightning News correspondent, for sharing this issue,
Kirk Ramsey, 2nd Bn., 14th Inf. for creating this page.

This page last modified 01-29-2006

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