TLN.JPG (37996 bytes)

Vol 4 No. 44          TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS          November 3, 1969



Unit                   Page Unit                  Page Unit                  Page Unit                  Page
1/5 Photo                       8 2/14                                 4 2/77 Arty                        3 3/4 Cav                           7
1/8 Arty                         1 2/14 Photo                     4 25th AVN Bn                 1 3/4 Cav                           8
1/27                                 7 2/14 Photo                     4 25th AVN Photo           2 3/4 Cav                           8
1/27 Photo                     7 2/14                                 6 25th LCLC                      6 4/9                                   7
116th AHC                    8 2/14                                 7 3/13 Arty                        1 4/23                                 1
137th Med Det             2 2/14                                 8 3/13 Arty                        6 44th Med Bde               2
160th RF                        1 2/22                                 6 3/22                                 1 65th Engr                        3
187th AHC                    1 2/22                                 7 3/22                                 3 65th Engr Photo            3
2nd ARVN Airborne   3 2/27                                 1 3/22 Photo                     3 65th Engr                        6
2/12                                1 2/27                                 3 3/22                                 6 65th Engr Photo            6
2/12                                2 2/27 Photo                     3 3/4 Cav                           1 65th Engr                        6
2/12                                7 2/27 Photos                   3 3/4 Cav Photo               1 7/11 Arty                        7
2/12                                8 2/34 Armor                     1 3/4 Cav                           1 Air Force                        1
2/14 Photo                     1 2/49 ARVN                    4 3/4 Cav                           6 VC/NVA                         1


Allies Evict VC-NVA from Nui Ba Den


When five Allied infantry units moved out as the hard core of a three-day operation on Nui Ba Den, two Tropic Lightning combat correspondents, Specialist 4 K.C. Cullen of the 3d Battalion, 22d Infantry and Specialist 5 Carl Detrick of the 2d Battalion, 34th Armor were with their units.  This is their report of the action.


   TAY NINH - A daring, well-coordinated and powerful Allied force yesterday ended three days of reminding the enemy soldiers who insist on their Nui Ba Den squatters' rights that the high-rise living on the mountain is neither cheap nor comfortable.
   Rent-paying for 40 NVA-VC soldiers ended during the 72 hours of Operation Cliffdweller, as artillery and gunships complemented the digging work of five infantry units that made up Task Force Jones.
   JONES' MAIN men were the Regulars of the 3d Battalion, 22d Infantry, bolstered by Company A of the 2d Battalion, 34th Armor, Company B of the 4th Battalion (Mechanized), 23d Infantry and two Vietnamese units, the 160th Regional Force Company and a provincial reconnaissance element.
   The operation, a direct challenge to what remained of enemy claims on control of the mountain, found Allied infantrymen going down from the top and coming up from the bottom.  Meanwhile, artillery and air support rained down from all directions on the harassed enemy.
   While the 2/34 Dreadnaughts' armor and the RF company soldiers set up blocking forces around the base of the mountain, the 187th Assault Helicopter Company Crusaders dropped the Regulars' B Company on the top of auxiliary peak Nui Cau to secure that area.
   The 3/22 Delta Company drew the job of struggling up the side of the mountain to occupy the Pagoda area, while the Regulars' C Company and the Vietnamese recon unit started down from the top after being dropped at the Allied signal facility there by chinook.
   When movement was spotted near the Regular-RF defensive position the first night, half the world fell in on the enemy soldiers.  Twice during the night, the RF soldiers ventured out to sweep the movement area, and the second time they met no resistance.
   When morning came, they found 20 enemy bodies, plus a collection of AK-47 assault rifles and armed, unused RPG-7s.
   DURING THE next two days, the Regular-RF force scoured the mountainside, a challenge even to a mountain goat, during the day and stayed alert at night.  It accounted for two more enemy dead in a skirmish near a cave that hid a cache of medical supplies, clothing and food.
   The Regulars' Delta Company, meanwhile, used the Pagoda as a base and roamed the surrounding area, despite harassment by enemy snipers.  The Tropic Lightning unit killed four NVA near one cache, and eliminated five more during the sporadic clashes among the rocks and brush of the craggy slopes.
   The Cobra gunships of the D Troop, 3d Squadron, 4th Cavalry and B Company, 25th Aviation Battalion, providing continuing support for the ground troops during the operation, were credited with another nine enemy killed.
   Regular Commander Lieutenant Colonel Warren A. Jones of Minneapolis called Cliffdweller "an unqualified success."
   "Besides the obvious military victory, the psychological victory of occupying an area the enemy considered to be his and his alone was enormous," Jones said.

Lt. Col. Donald Crutchley, 2d/14th, and 3/4 Cav officer
THEY WENT THATAWAY - Lieutenant Colonel Donald O. Crutchley of Bethesda, Md., 2d Battalion, 14th Infantry commander, and a 3d Squadron, 4th Cavalry officer look over a cache found when a 3/4 Cav LOH was shot down and its crew had to battle out of trouble. Story on page 8.  (PHOTO BY 5P4 FRANK DITTO)



Hounds' Bite Bad As Bark

   PHUOC LUU - Second Battalion Wolfhounds supported by ten air strikes and a Centaur helicopter team killed 18 enemy during a rare daylight contact in the area surrounding this 3d Brigade border outpost.
   The enemy were believed to be part of a 200-man force that moved into the area from nearby Cambodia.  They were supported by .51 caliber machinegun positions about 2,000 meters from the battle site inside Cambodia.
   First contact came after the enemy was spotted moving along a road near the border.  One platoon of Alpha Company and two platoons of Delta Company, 2d Battalion, 27th Infantry, were sent to find the enemy and made contact about 500 meters west of Phuoc Luu.
   The Wolfhounds engaged the enemy force with small arms as a light fire team and air strikes were directed at enemy positions by Air Force forward air controllers.
   F-100 jets and gunships from Delta Troop, 3d Squadron, 4th Cavalry remained in the area throughout the day.  Both were subjected to enemy .51 caliber machinegun fire.
   One detainee was taken, four bunkers were destroyed and two AK-47 rifles were captured in addition to the 18 enemy killed during the battle.


Take Tons of Concentrated Firepower,
Mix into Mushroom; Serves 47 NVA

   CU CHI - Warriors of Alpha Company broke a major enemy concentration late this evening in a fierce four-hour battle in The Mushroom area 15 miles north of Cu Chi. Forty-seven enemy died in the action.
   The 2d Battalion, 12th Infantry soldiers encountered enemy small arms fire in late afternoon after they had been airlifted into a nearby cul-de-sac formed by the Saigon River, just north of the Ho Bo Woods.
   As the Warriors pushed through the fringes of the heavily cratered woods toward the river, they began receiving AK fire from its swampy banks.  Laying down a heavy cover of automatic weapons fire, the Tropic Lightning troops called for artillery and air support.
   FROM FIRE Support Base Pershing, 105mm howitzers of the 1st Battalion, 8th Artillery launched the first barrage.  They were joined seconds later by batteries of the 3d Battalion, 13th Artillery at FSB Patton II and FSB Hampton.
   Forward Air Controllers of the Division's ISSUE Tactical Air Control Party dove into the area, their armed OV-10 Broncos firing both rockets and machineguns.
   For 30 minutes ordnance fell on the enemy positions.  Then the Warriors, augmented now by elements of their Bravo Company, drove in for what they expected to be a routine after-action sweep.
   BUT THE ACTION wasn't over, and it was no sweep.  Private First Class Ernesto Gonzales of Freer, Tex., described it this way:
   "Standing there watching the air strike go in, I didn't think there would be anything in there left alive.  But there was.  They hardly fired at all at first, until we got right on top of them.  Then they started coming out of the ground everywhere.  There were VC behind us, in front of us and on the sides as well.  All we could do was grab our casualties and shoot our way out."
    With no bunkers or fighting positions left, the NVA dashed from bomb crater to tree stump, firing at times from only meters away from the Americans.
(Continued' on Page 8)


VC's View of War: No Mail, No DEROS, No Hope

   CU CHI - Top sergeant got you down?  That lieutenant jumping all over you?  Tired of C-rations, sweat and the tedium of it all?
   Well, take a close look at what the other side is going through.
   A recent pair of hot chanhs-a reluctant VC grunt and a Hanoi-trained VC captain-gave these accounts of what they experienced while living with the enemy:
   Nguyen Van Tri, a farmer and family man who lived near Trang Bang, was inducted into the VC in 1967 at gunpoint.  (His name has been changed here to protect his family from reprisals.)  Along with a number of other "volunteers," he was marched into Cambodia for training.
   For more than a year he studied tactics, political theory and bunker building. (Tri, not being the most apt pupil, filled a lot of sandbags.)
   RIFLE TRAINING started with a three-week orientation using a wooden AK-47.  After this phase, Tri and 80 other trainees tromped out to a practice range with two real rifles for the group and two bullets per man.
   If a novice marksman hit the target on the first try, he was made an instructor.  If he missed with both rounds, he had to go through the whole course again.  (Tri was re-cycled three times.  He blamed his problem on the weight disparity between the real and wooden rifles.)
(Continued on Page 8)


If you've been thinking about the war and asking yourself, "Is that all there is?" the answer is no.  Look elsewhere on this page, ask someone at Tay Ninh base camp - it's not over yet.  Stay alert and DEROS.  Do it the safe way.



Page 2                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           November 3, 1969



1LT Danny E. Mull, E Co., 2d Bn, 12th Inf
SSG Jon M. Davis, C Co, 2d Bn, 14th Inf
SGT John P. Fee, B Co, 2d Bn, 14th Inf
WO1 Eric G. Brethen, D Co, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav
SP4 Charles Carmel, A Co, 25th Avn Bn
SP4 Kenneth E. Taylor, D Co., 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav
SSG Marcus C. Fisher, HHC, 2d Bn, 34th Armor SP4 Charles W. Lovell, 390 Quartermaster Det.
CPT Edwin Chappabitty, HHB, 3d Bn, 13th Arty
1LT John H. Lowe, A Btry, 7th Bn, 11th Arty
1LT John D. Revier, HHC, 4th Bn, 23d Inf
2LT William R. Hyder, D Co, 1st Bn, 27th Inf
2LT Terrence N. O'Connell, D Co, 2d Bn, 34th Armor,
2LT Michael P. Pater, A Co, 2d Bn, 34th Armor,
    (two simultaneous awards of B.S. w/"V")
1SG Floyd English, B Co, 2d Bn, 22d Inf
PSG Clinton Russell, B Co, 2d Bn, 22d Inf
PSG Richard W. Stinchcomb, A Co, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
SSG John D. Burch, HHC, 4th Bn, 23d Inf
SSG Donald L. Calhoun, D Co, 2d Bn, 22d Inf
SSG Charles E. Hawes, A Co, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
SSG Dan L. Helms, A Co, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
SSG Issac Jacobs, B Co, 2d Bn, 22d Inf
SGT Perry W. Basham, HHC, 4th Bn, 23d Inf
SGT William C. Davis, B Co, 2d Bn, 22d Inf
SGT William M. Battle, D Co. 1st 27th Inf
SGT Robert S. Burns, B Co, 3d Bn, 22d Inf
SGT Thomas Eagle, A Co, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
SGT Gary P. Hershberger, A Co, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
SGT William C. Skidmore, A Co, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
SGT Victor S. Stanley, A Co, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
SP5 Bruce J. Rose, A Co, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
SP5 Richard E. Whitely, D Co, 2d Bn 22d Inf
SP4 Roy Blevins, HHC, 4th Bn, 23d Inf
SP4 Willie L. Brown, B Co, 2d Bn, 22d Inf
SP4 Walter L. Dalton, C Co, 3d Bn, 13th Arty
SP4 Andrew Diffily, D Co, 2d Bn, 22d Inf
SP4 Grosvenor C. Hanlin, B Co, 2d Bn, 22d Inf
SP4 Noe Hinojosa, B Co, 2d Bn, 22d Inf
SP4 Robert Hunt, A Co, 1st Bn, 5th Inf
SP4 Michael J. Irvine, B Co, 2d Bn, 22d Inf
SP4 Charles Jones, E Co, 2d Bn, 12th Inf
SP4 Lawrence V. Kassanavoid, B Co, 2d Bn, 22d Inf
SP4 Thomas E. Langenburg, C Co, 1st Bn, 5th Inf
SP4 Joseph J. Masa, B Co, 2d Bn, 22d Inf
SP4 Wayne Miskimen, D Co, 2d Bn, 12th Inf
SP4 John A. Morgan, A Co, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
SP4 Stephen Murphy, B Co, 2d Bn, 22d Inf
SP4 Daryl V. Orr, HHC, 2d Bn, 12th Inf
SP4 Will D. Parks, A Co, Bn, 34th Armor
SP4 Moody C. Pitts, D Co, 2d Bn, 22d Inf
SP4 Ronald B. Poston, E Co, 2d Bn, 12th Inf
SP4 Lloyd L. Rassat, HHC, 1st Bn, 27th Inf
SP4 Francisco San Nicolas, D Co, 1st Bn, 27th Inf
SP4 Robert I. Sechi, B Co, 2d Bn, 22d Inf
SP4 Robert S. Webb, E Co, 1st Bn, 27th Inf
SP4 Jack R. Williams, B Co, 2d Bn, 22d Inf
PFC Gregory E. Hall, E Co, 1st Bn, 27th Inf
PFC Gary L. Holloway, D Co, 2d Bn, 12th Inf
PFC George A. Huffstutler, D Co, 2d Bn, 12th Inf
PFC Charles P. Humphrey, D Co, 2d Bn, 12th Inf
PFC Won H. Kim, B Co, 2d Bn, 12th Inf
PFC Gary L. Reeves, B Co, 3d Bn. 22d Inf
PFC Gregory T. Stoicheff, D Co, 1st Bn, 27th Inf
PFC David Vines, D Co, 1st Bn, 27th Inf
PFC Henry G. Zudowski, B Co, 2d Bn, 22d Inf



                 Combat Honor Roll

Sgt. Walter E. Lausman, 2/12th   Sergeant Walter E. Lausman of Company A, 2d Battalion, 12th Infantry Warriors, has been added to the Tropic Lightning Combat Honor Roll.
   Lausman was serving as a squad leader on a reconnaissance mission when his company came in contact with a large enemy force in well-fortified positions.
   During the initial burst of fire, the point man from the Warriors' lead element was seriously wounded; lying in an open position well forward of the rest of the unit.
   Lausman, defying a deadly barrage of fire directed at him, rushed to within 20 feet of the enemy bunkers and began putting out a heavy volume of fire while his unit moved to cover.
   Although fully exposed to the enemy gunners, Lausman then moved to the side of his fallen comrade and administered first aid.  He picked up the wounded man and carried him through the embattled area to a sheltered spot, despite the continuing hostile fire.


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:

PFC Harvey McConaughead, A 4/9, girl, Oct 4
MAJ David C. Kiger, HHC 4/23, boy, Oct 7
SGT Ray Thomason, A 65th Engrs, boy, Oct 10
PVT Thomas D. Konen, A 4/9, girl, Oct 11
SP4 Roosevelt Scott, A 1/27, girl, Oct 12
SP4 Ronald D. Watkins, 548th Mnt, girl, Oct 14
PFC Joseph Parisi, B 3/4, girl, Oct 15
SP4 Ernest Primas, A 25th Avn, boy, Oct 15



Dentists Fill Role Of Tooth Savers

   Charlie doesn't care, it's true, if all your teeth fall out and all you can eat is reconstituted applesauce.
   But the Army cares, and has sent the dental personnel of the 44th Medical Brigade to Vietnam to make sure you return to the world with the same pearly white smile you had when you left.
   If your teeth are in good shape now, brush them regularly and they will stay that way, the dentists say.  But if you need some dental work, their dental clinics and mobile teams provide complete care ranging from oral surgery to replacement of missing teeth in facilities that go from tents up to air-conditioned buildings as well-equipped as any stateside dentist's office.
   "The only limitation we have on providing dental care is time," says Lieutenant Colonel Allen Betts, clinic chief of the 137th Medical Detachment.  "The patient should have 30 days left in-country in case follow-up work is needed."
   Most of the dental problems affecting troops are routine decay and non-restorable teeth.
   "The reason for losing teeth after age 25 is usually gum problems, which can be prevented by frequent brushing," Betts says.  "Out in the boonies the main dental problem is just keeping one's mouth clean; even brushing with just a dry toothbrush reduces decay significantly."

SP4 George Thomas, WO Robert Miller HELP KEEP CU CHI CLEAN - Warrant Officer Robert Miller (right) of the 25th Aviation Battalion watches as Specialist 4 George Thomas throws the first handful of trash into a new road-side litter barrel.  Miller directed a battalion project to set up litter barrels to keep 25th Aviation's area at Cu Chi clean.  Setting the barrels up, Miller said, was easy.  "The hardest part is getting people to use them."  (PHOTO BY SP4 GREG TELLE)



Life Assurance

   Nearly all soldiers separated from the Army with a less than honorable discharge are "unable to overcome a civilian life of failure and insecurity,"  Federal government studies show.
   Those who receive a dishonorable or bad conduct discharge are not eligible for most benefits administered by the Army, the Veterans administration and other Federal agencies for the rest of their lives, according to the Department of the Army.
   Only a small percentage of petitions to change less than honorable discharges is allowed by the Army Discharge Review Board, DA adds.


Only You Can Prevent Duds

   (ANF) - Qualified soldiers in grades E4 through E7 are encouraged to volunteer for drill sergeant assignments.
   As of July 31, the Army was short 2,558 drill sergeants or almost 30 per cent of total authorization.  This shortage has forced greater workloads on those currently performing this duty.
   Drill sergeants receive $30 per month superior performance pay, extra uniforms and free laundry for fatigues.  They generally are stabilized for an 18-month tour or until completion of 24 months in CONUS, whichever comes first.
   Drill sergeants may be promoted to grade E6 for outstanding performance of duty or for being the top graduate at drill sergeant school.
   Consult AR 614-204 for additional information.


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
SGT Bill Obelholzer
SP4 Larry Goodson
PFC Jim Williams
PFC Richard Sears
SP4 Carl Detrick
Wally Baker
SP4 Frank Ditto
PFC Greg Stanmar
SP4 Phil Jackson
SP4 Pat Morrison
SP4 Ken Baron
SP5 Tony DeBlasio
PFC Rich Fitzpatrick
SP4 Ken Fairman
SP4 Brad Yeager
PFC Frank Rebbonico
PFC Doug Sainsbury
PFC Richard Fitzpatrick
SGT Larry Goodson
SP4 K.C.Cullen
SP4 Tony Crawford
SP5 Pete Freeman
SP4 Craig Sampson


Page 3                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           November 3, 1969


Enemy Infiltration Stifled:
       2d Wolfhounds Keep Watch on Border

   CU CHI - "Almost every night I can see a long stream of convoy lights pass just on the side of the border.  It scares the hell out of me to actually watch an enemy convoy in Cambodia so near to this outpost."
   Specialist 4 Gordon Maga made the comment as he took his position behind a .50 caliber machine gun outside Phuoc Luu village less than 3000 meters from an enemy staging area in Cambodia.
   Each night Maga and soldiers like him in the 2d Battalion, 27th Infantry Wolfhounds take up positions at Phuoc Luu and Patrol Base Kotrc, another outpost a mile and a half southeast.  Their job is to plug infiltration routes into Hau Nghia Province.
   "The tip of the Angel's Wing to An Ninh village has in the past been a prime infiltration route for the NVA wishing to pass from Cambodia to Saigon and the Citadel area," said 2d Battalion Wolfhound S-3, Major Frank Leach of Manteca, Calif.
   FOR THIS reason, the 3d Brigade Wolfhounds during Tet and again recently, established forward patrol bases close to the border.
   In February the Hounds began the first of four patrol bases called Diamond to check enemy infiltration.  The concept was successful in halting the flow of NVA while inflicting more than 600 enemy casualties.  By May enemy activity was so low in the area that the Wolfhounds tore down the outposts and moved on.
   By July, enemy activity west of the Vam Co Dong River picked up.  The increased activity led to two large conflicts between Tropic Lightning forces and NVA on the western side of the river.  Total enemy casualties ran near 200.
   The Wolfhounds went west of the river again in August to build a forward patrol base.  An element of Alfa Company was eagle flighted to secure a site and encountered a reinforced enemy battalion.
   Three companies were committed to the battle.  Together they routed the enemy after an assault on the dug-in NVA.
   ON THE BATTLE site, the Wolfhounds built Patrol Base Kotrc, four kilometers east of the border.  Shortly after that Bravo Company joined Popular Forces at their outpost in the nearby village, Phuoc Luu.
   "These forward positions are very important to us," Leach said.  "Kotrc sits right in the middle of that infiltration route.  Now we are forcing the NVA to move further south which takes him three times as long to reach the Vam Co Dong River.  Thus, he is exposed longer and it forces his slave laborers to work three times harder."
   "Bravo Company has established good relations with Phuoc Luu villagers,'' continued Leach.  "Phuoc Luu is a rich village and because of its proximity to the border, the VC had been trading extensively there. Also it was a major recruiting area for the NVA."
   "NOW THAT we are forcing the enemy to travel farther out of his way and since the people no longer cooperate with him, enemy morale has dropped very low," Leach said.  "We have made it easier and more desirable for the enemy to Chieu Hoi (rally).  Fourteen of them rallied to Bravo Company last week."
   At Patrol Base Kotrc, the Wolfhounds and elements of the 1st Battalion, 49th ARVN Regiment occupy the bunker line.  Cannoneers from the 2d Battalion, 77th Artillery work the big guns inside.
   "The two elements depend on each other for survival," said First Lieutenant Joe Pritchard of Benton, Ark.  "The infantry relies on artillery to engage the enemy far from the perimeter.  The artillerymen depend on the infantry when the enemy gets close, to drive them out if they get inside the wire."
   DELTA COMPANY Commander Captain Jay Yurchuck of Columbus, Ga., commented on the defense of Kotrc, "Survival along the border involves some of the most sophisticated devices known to modern warfare.  Also coordination between infantry, artillery and aviation are necessary for successful completion of our mission."
   "This patrol base is unique for us in that it was fought for, occupied, and successfully defended against four enemy probes.  Two required us to drive sappers out of the perimeter and two large ground probes that never made it near the wire," Yurchuck said.
   Radarman Specialist 4 Lonnie Jurgesmeyer of Warrenton, Mo., sums up the feeling of the men at the border posts.  "We man a constant night vigil so we are aware of enemy movement across the border.  At times I wonder what it would be like to watch girls on the beach instead of my radar controls."

Wolfhound on watch SCANNING - A Bravo Company Wolfhound scans the area around Phuoc Luu village during blocking operations near the Cambodian border.


LIFE ALONG THE BORDER - (Top) A Wolfhound keeps a lookout on the perimeter of Patrol Base Kotrc, near a major enemy infiltration route. (Right) Border-dwelling Wolfhounds find that sleep is more secure when you're not far from your 90mm recoilless rifle. (Bottom) A Wolfhound gives a piggyback ride to an ARVN across a deep canal near the border.  (Photos by Sp4 Phil Jackson) Taking a break
Wolfhound in the water  



Regulars, ARVNs Join, Build 2 Support Bases

   TAY NINH - Regulars of the 3d Battalion, 22d Infantry have been involved in a number of combined operations since the beginning of 1969, but none has been as extensive as the operation now in progress with elements of the 2d ARVN Airborne Brigade.
   The mission got off to a rousing start with the establishment of Fire Support Bases Elizabeth and Cathy.  These bases, with the Vietnamese paratroopers guarding the perimeter and manning their own howitzers, were established in two days with a multi-company force.
   Alpha, Charlie and Delta Companies of the Regulars cleared and guarded the road and area surrounding the new Fire Support Base Elizabeth during the first phase of the construction.  The regulars' "rat pack" reconnaissance platoon and its gun jeeps escorted the bulldozers and heavy trucks of Alpha Company, 65th Engineer Battalion to the site.
   The initial site of Elizabeth was found unfit as the Whiskey Fifth dozers got bogged down in a marsh concealed beneath the thin layer of hard ground.
   Lieutenant Colonel Lich, commander of the 2d ARVN Airborne Brigade and First Lieutenant Thomas R. Chapman of Lawton, Okla., of the engineers utilized an LOH helicopter and located a suitable site at the other end of an old French airstrip, the major landmark in the area.
   As the berm was pushed up, the ARVNs arrived with one of their mechanized companies leading the trucks.  The paratroopers immediately began the essential construction of bunkers and gun emplacements.

At FSB Elizabeth
CAT AND BIRD-A Whiskey Fifth bulldozer moves to push up a defensive berm during construction of Fire Support Base Elizabeth as the Regulars' command-and-control helicopter lifts off just to its front.  (Photo by Sp4 K. C. Cullen)



Page 4-5                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           November 3, 1969


Lao Tao

Lao Tao, the Hamlet of New Life


Dragons Help Villagers Turn VC Terror into New Life

   In August, Le Van Sieng, village chief of Trung Lap, offered a plan of hope to nearby farmers and hamlets dwellers who were plagued by Viet Cong: Build yourself a new village and we will protect you.
   With help from Golden Dragons of the 2d Battalion, 14th Infantry, men of the 2d Battalion, 49th ARVN Regiment and Trung Lap civil defense cadre, the people did just that. By mid-October over 50 families had moved into new homes.  Most had been relocated from the villages of So Noi I and So Noi II..
   In August, construction of the new hamlet got under way as bulldozers were brought in to clear a plot of land on the outskirts of Trung Lap.
   The "New Life" hamlet of Lao Tao was completed by the new inhabitants.  The Golden Dragons and ARVN Regiment had furnished the materials, but the future occupants did all the construction and planning themselves.
   The new village offered police protection from nearby Trung Lap, and the danger that civilians might be injured in military operations was eliminated.
   Soon after they resettled, the people held a secret ballot election and elected their own hamlet chief.  Battalion surgeon for the Golden Dragons, Captain Howard M. Hanna, Jr., of San Antonio, Tex., held the village's first medical civic action program (MEDCAP) more than 100 people were treated.
   "Even though we donated the materials along with the 49th ARVN Regiment, the villagers did all the work and set up their own village.  The people worked hard and are very proud of their new homes," said. Sergeant Anthony Newcomb, Midland, Mich., of the Golden Dragon S-5 section.


Photo Feature By SP4 Frank Ditto


Preparing beams  
TO BUILD A HAMLET - Farmers and villagers near Trung Lap, long plagued by Viet Cong, took the situation in hand and, with help from the 2d Battalion, 49th ARVN Regiment and Tropic Lightning's 2d Battalion, 14th Infantry, they built a new hamlet, Lao Tao, where they could receive police protection and start new and secure lives. Ready to build


Doctor examines villager A Golden Dragon MEDCAP doctor inspects a young patient.
An evening stroll downtown

Baby on the loose
Village chief discusses village TRUNG LAP VILLAGE CHIEF Le Van Sieng discusses the success of the village resettlement program outside the new hamlet of Lao Tao with Lieutenant Colonel Constantine Blastos, former commander of the 2d Battalion, 14th Infantry.  The Golden Dragons supplied much of the material for the new hamlet.
A new home, a new life, a new smile Vietnamese child
Ready to occupy PROUDLY FLYING the Republic of Vietnam's flag, villagers at Lao Tao, the Hamlet of New Life, settle down to the tasks of life-minus the constant threat of Viet Cong terror which they had known before.



Page 6                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           November 3, 1969


Engineers Build Fire Support Sub-division

   TAY NINH - When new concepts in fire support command and control are proposed, Tropic Lightning engineers can be counted upon to put them into practice.
   In direct support of the division's infantry units, the 65th Engineer Battalion has constructed a new fire support control center in Tay Ninh East.
   "IT'S BEEN a big project," said Sergeant First Class Tommy Alexander of Hartsville, Ind., project NCOIC.  "Everyone from MACV on down is interested in it, and we've had visitors out here every day."
   The primary purpose of the project, Alexander said, is to unify and coordinate artillery and aerial support among all branches of the service operating in the area.  The new fire support center housed in the bunker complex will have facilities for joint occupation by Army, Air Force and Navy forces in addition to ARVN troops.
   DESPITE HEAVY rains, Alexander's second platoon from Bravo Company stayed with the project.  Before the concrete floor could be laid, mud had to be scooped up and hauled away from the work site and dry fill hauled in.
   When first notified of the project, welders from the battalion maintenance section worked all night to cut and drill half-inch steel plates to form custom-made braces for the bunker beams.
   "We've mostly been humping," said Private First Class George A. Bullard of Whitmire, S.C., as he tightened steel cable used to shore the bunker's heavy timber supports.
   "Over 35 dump trucks full of laterite will be needed to provide fill for the bunker's walls," Alexander said, as nearby ARVN works crews shoveled dirt into ammo boxes soon to be stacked on the roof of the structure.
   THE TAY NINH East project is only one of many the engineers have worked on recently.  During his past eight months with Brave Company, Specialist 4 Nathaniel Haerriott of Myrtle Beach, S.C., said, he has become adept in the defensive art of bunker construction.
   "We've built a lot of them," he said.
   Specialist 4 Clamen L. Lutjen, attached to the Whiskey Fifth from the 3d Battalion, 22d Infantry, has learned much about carpentry in general from his bunker-building experiences.  Pointing to Alexander on the beam above him, Lutjen said, "I could build a good bunker anywhere with 'Sarge' up there to show me how."

65th Engineers at work BRAVO BUNKER builders of the 65th Engineers muscle beams supporting a reinforced roof in a fire support center project.  (PHOTO BY SP4 GARTH FIKE)



Ask Sgt. Certain

DEAR SGT: We cooks are tired of hearing complaints about the chow we serve.  People are always accusing us of serving roast water buffalo, powdered eggs left over from the War of 1812, stale cake with salt-peter frosting, grease fried in bacon and other so-called jokes.  We are all GIs like everyone else; we love our mothers and go to Doris Day movies.  We are beginning to feel neglected. Please give us some advice.

DEAR PERS: I for one, have always felt Army chow was really an advanced form of haute cuisine, and have tried for years to get a few of the more outstanding mess halls listed in Duncan Hines' guide to good eating.  It's true that I once noticed "Size 11W" stamped on a piece of roast beef I was eating at Fort Polk and another time ate a pancake that weighed nine pounds at a Fort Ord breakfast, but in general I've found Army food to be the best thing this side of White Castle.  In fact, my wife used to be a WAC mess sergeant, and I've come to enjoy having cold cuts and cheese for lunch every eight days.  The only thing I don't like is having to wash my plate in the garbage can after every meal.

DEAR SARGE: As a soldier who works in the hold baggage processing center, I'd like to make a complaint.  Last week seven people tried to send tanks home in their hold baggage.  Four people brought in chinooks wrapped in brown paper, two others wanted to send mortars and one asked if there'd be any extra charge for sending the division swimming pool.  Could you tell people that they aren't allowed to send government property home like that? 

DEAR OVER: You're certainly right, and we hope this will be sufficient warning to the despicable people who try to send things like that.  By the way, Over, do you think I will have to pay customs on my howitzer?

DEAR SERGEANT: Can you give me some hints about keeping order in an EM club?

DEAR NC: This is a difficult but rewarding task.  First of all, remember that it is not a good idea to promise that you are going to have a live show and then not have one.  It is worse than not a good idea, in fact, since you may face being beaten to death with beef jerky by disgruntled EM.  Also, try to prevent customers who are sure there must be one more Budweiser there somewhere from diving into the beer cooler.  And finally, in the event of near-riot, think fast and yell, "Who said there were blank discharges being given out at AG?"


Cavmen Take Over LCLC

   CU CHI - The 25th Infantry Division's Lightning Combat Leadership Course has all but become the 3d Squadron, 4th Cavalry's own Non-Commissioned Officers Candidate Course recently.
   Out of one recent group of seven graduating classes, the outstanding soldier five times was a soldier from the 3/4 Cav, and each time he was rewarded with a promotion from Specialist 4 to Sergeant.
   Alpha Troop has had four of the LCLC stars, Sergeants Douglas Clapp of Montreal, Canada, Richard Hagle of South Dayton, N.Y., Donald E. Master of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. and Vernon Hallenbeck of Hudson, N.Y.
   Captain Philip Hogue, of New Orleans, Alpha Troop commander, said:  "We select the personnel whom we think will best represent Alpha Troop and the Squadron at LCLC, and we always hope to produce a graduate who finishes number one in his class.  An effort is made to send qualified personnel who have a chance of excelling.


C Battery Earns Clan Cannon

   TAY NINH - C Battery, 3d Battalion, 13th Field Artillery (The Clan) received the coveted Clan Cannon quarterly award at ceremonies at Tay Ninh base camp.
   The red and yellow mini-cannon was presented by Division Artillery Commander Colonel Dan D. Stedham to Captain Frederick A. Carroll of Pasadena, Calif., C Battery commander.
   The Clan Cannon is awarded quarterly to the battery within the battalion that demonstrates the highest scores on over-all testing by the Clan's S-3 section.  Areas covered in testing include fire direction procedures, gunnery procedures, speed and accuracy.


Shower Power

   FSB Patton - Reminiscent of childhood hot summers in the city, Fire Support Base Patton, home of the Fire Brigade's 2d Battalion, 14th Infantry, has installed Vietnam's version of the open fire hydrant.
   The "shower power" system of eight high-pressure faucets offers welcome relief to the overheated foot soldiers of the Golden Dragons.
   "It's the next best thing to enamel bathtubs," commented Private First Class Robert Barret.  "We keep closer tabs on when the showers will be activated than when chow is going to be served."
   Water is supplied through two 55- foot wells.
   "We'll never run out of water with these wells," said Private First Class Albert Holden of Bronx, N.Y. operator of the shower.
   The shower is turned on for half-hour intervals at 6 a.m., 3:30 p.m. and 6 p.m.


Deuces Improve Roads

   TAY NINH - Cooperation on the part of many has resulted in improved roads in Khiem Hanh District.
   Heavy daily travel by armored personnel carriers of 2d Battalion (Mechanized), 22d Infantry convoys and the rains have made smooth roads rough.  Captain Willie F. Black of Columbus, Ga., Triple Deuce S-5, coordinated efforts through Tropic Lightning's First Brigade, and officials at Khiem Hanh District.
   Laterite furnished by the 65th Engineer Battalion from Cu Chi was brought in and unloaded by volunteers from Phuc Thanh refugee camp.   Lien Van Buu, road construction supervisor from Co Dau Ha, shows the people where the material is to be unloaded and arranges coordination of people and material.
   Black said, "When we help these people to help themselves they retain their pride in themselves plus we show them how to improve themselves."


Page 7                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           November 3, 1969


Warriors Down 15 Near Hamlet

   CU CHI - With little sleep ahead of them, 2d Battalion, 12th Infantry Warriors moved out with an ARVN Reconnaissance Company on a night-early morning operation that resulted in 15 enemy killed, eight detainees and an assortment of equipment and supplies.
   The target of the operation was a village just south of the Boi Loi Woods known to harbor VC and NVA troops and supplies of units based in the Boi Lois.
   At approximately 10:30 pm, the Reconnaissance Company of the 8th Regiment, 5th ARVN Division proceeded northwest across Highway 6-A and then north along the road. Shortly thereafter, Bravo and Charlie Companies of the Warriors moved out of Fire Support Base Pershing to the north along the east side of the road, all three units converging on the target soon after midnight.
   The Reconnaissance Company set up a series of ambushes to the west of the village, and Charlie Company set up to the east of the village near Highway 6-A.  Completing the U-shaped formation was Bravo Company, which acted as a blocking force to the north, cutting off any escape routes from the village north into the Boi Loi Woods.  With the stage set, the long vigil began.
   The allied soldiers didn't have to wait very long, however.  Shortly after 2:00 am, three enemy soldiers were spotted by Bravo Company; they alerted Charlie Company by radio.
   Private First Class Ken Kneeland of Shelton, Wash., described the scene: "Bravo spotted three VC moving south on 6-A.  They called us and we blew an ambush on them.  Soon after the first ambush was sprung, the ARVN Reconnaissance Company spotted more individuals moving in the area.  Opening fire, they killed three, detained two suspects and captured four AK47 rifles.
   Later in the morning, Charlie Company spotted three more enemy soldiers, killing all of them and confiscating one K-54 pistol and a quarter pound of documents.  Finally, under illumination, gunships moved in at approvimately 4:30 am, giving the target village everything they had and boosting the body count.
   Only with the arrival of sunlight could the damage wrought by the gunships be assessed.  Three hootches were nearly leveled, with heavy damage to several others.  Hutchinson commented, "We made a complete search of the area and found supplies and gear."

FUTURE ARVN - Two artillerymen from the 7th Battalion, 11th Artillery, Private First Class Gary Richardson of Upland, Calif. (left), and Specialist 4 Jimmy Jewell of Baker, La., put this young Vietnamese boy through drill and ceremony training during a break in firing at the Special Forces-CIDG Camp at Thien Ngon.  (Photo by SP5 Pete Freeman) PFC Gary Richardson, SP4 Jimmy Jewell



Tired Troops Down 12 VC

   The Fire Brigade Company was thinking of showers and hot chow on its way to the pickup zone at the end of a long mission.  The enemy, though, was not yet ready to call an end to the day.
   Delta Company, 2d Battalion, 14th Infantry began to receive fire from a tunnel complex in the Ho Bo Woods.
   "The third platoon opened up and then the company swept the area," said Private First Class Mike Hansel of Mt. Vernon, Ky.
   The battle was short-lived, and all that was required to end it was the fire from the company's small arms.
   A search of the site afterwards revealed five enemy dead and four AK-47 rifles captured.  Earlier the company found seven fresh enemy bodies near Patrol Base Hunsley.


Manchus Trip NVA in Boi Loi

   TAY NINH - Night owls of Bravo Company Manchus killed 14 NVA soldiers in springing two night ambushes in the dense jungle of the Boi Loi Woods 25 miles southeast of Tay Ninh.
   On the first night of a four-night operation, the 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry soldiers, working with the 2d Battalion, 22d Infantry, broke into four separate elements as they left Fire Support Base Wood.
   Soon after nightfall the enemy was spotted.
   Sergeant Dennis Theesefield of Armstrong, Iowa, recalled: "Eight of the little men walked right into the first platoon's ambush."
   Claymore were blown and hand grenades thrown, leaving five enemy dead.
   "I saw the other three crawl away into the woods," added Private First Class Eugene Kininock of Anaheim, Calif.  "They looked as though they were hit pretty bad."
   Artillery support slammed an end to the firing, but at dawn the Manchus found five NVA bodies.
   Next night the scene was played again.
   "We put out everything we could right on top of Charlie and then had to wait until morning to see what happened," said Specialist 4 Elmon Harmon of Lizella, Ga.
   When daylight came, the Tropic Lightning soldiers moved to the previous night's target area.
   "We could see a lot of them lying in the open, not moving, when the sun came up," remembered Private First Class Paul T. Walla of Gary, Ind.
   There turned out to be nine more enemy KIA, making a two-night total of 14 against not even a dust-off for the Manchus.


1st Wolfhounds Man Marshes:
                         Recon Guards Duc Hoa

   DUC HOA - The fast-moving reconnaissance platoon of the 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Wolfhounds is continuing to build on its reputation as a crack combat-ready unit in the marshy area of operations of the 3d Brigade.
   Under command of First Lieutenant Patrick Smith of Madera, Calif., the platoon operates out of Duc Hoa in Hau Nghia Province.
   Coordinating operations with the First Wolfhounds and the District Chief at Duc Hoa, the platoon's mission encompasses local and long-range reconnaissance as well as the ultimate destruction of the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese infiltrators in the area.
   OPERATIONS RELY heavily on the unit's four jeeps that are equipped with .50 caliber and M-60 machine guns.  With them the platoon tears into terrain that most units reach only by air.
   When the words "saddle up" are sounded, each man moves to an assigned jeep and within minutes the platoon is ready for action.  In one recent action, the alarm was sounded and within a half hour, the team had moved ten kilometers to set up a blocking force and check civilian identification in a remote hamlet.
   Occasionally the mud and water are too thick and deep even for recon's jeeps.  In a recent outing to locate an enemy weapons cache and bunker complex, the platoon's members dismounted and charged the last 500 meters through the swamp.
   THE WOLFHOUND reconnaissance platoon has been working out of Duc Hoa for three months.  Their camp site was a mud-covered area of decayed bunkers and poor security when they arrived.
   Under the direction of Smith and Sergeant Richard Kittrell of Layton, Utah, the area has taken a new form.  A mess hall, sleeping quarters, shower facilities and new bunkers have been built.  A club and additional sleeping quarters are under construction.
   Private First Class Mark Oizerowitz of Lakewood, N.J., is a prime example of the spirit of the First Wolfhound reconnaissance platoon.  He says, "If I had a chance to join any infantry unit in Vietnam, it would be this one."


Cav Kills 7, Finds Hospital

   CU CHI - Operating 15 miles northwest of Cu Chi base camp in the area known as the Country Store, the men of Bravo Troop, 3d Squadron, 4th Cavalry uncovered a small hospital complex and killed seven soldiers.
   First Lieutenant Charles A. Shaw of St. Louis, Mo., 3d Platoon leader said, "We were heading north on a reconnaissance-in-force mission to the Boi Loi Woods when we had a change of mission.  A Delta Troop light observation helicopter (LOH) had killed two Viet Cong and spotted a bunker complex in the Country Store area and we were sent in to check it out."
   "Upon reaching the area we put our dismounts down and started checking out the holes, when suddenly people started running out of holes to our front in all directions," continued Shaw.  "The quick reactions of our dismounts when they saw these people running from the holes resulted in seven enemy soldiers being killed."
   A further check of the area revealed a small tunnel complex with three interconnecting large rooms, and a large quantity of medical supplies.  The complex was believed to be a Viet Cong convalescent hospital.


Grants Given

   Applications are currently being accepted for the Army ROTC four-year scholarship program.  The program is open to personnel who are scheduled for separation prior to the 1970-71 school year and who will enter college as freshmen during 1970.
   The program is aimed at personnel who are seriously considering careers as commissioned officers.  Assistance and information is available through the AG Personnel Actions Branch in Cu Chi.

SPLISH SPLASH - Men of the First Wolfhounds' reconnaissance platoon trudge through a swamp near Duc Hoa in the 3d Brigade area of operations.  Marshy spots are nothing new to the recon team.  Most of the Duc Hoa area is under water during monsoon season.  (Photo by PFC Frank Rezzonico) 1st Wolfhounds cross swamp



Page 8                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           November 3, 1969


VC's War: No Mail, No DEROS, No Hope

(Continued From Page 1)
   Base camp discipline was harsh.  Small talk or casual conversation was strongly discouraged.  A VC cadreman told Tri and his group when they first arrived that if they did anything wrong, they'd be executed.  Tri never saw this policy carried out, but often saw comrades publicly beaten by the VC equivalent of MPs for no apparent reason.
   ONE OF THE biggest problems his unit faced was a lack of supplies. The only medical supplies available were malaria pills that caused cramps and diarrhea.  Rather than suffer the ravages of that weekly pill, most of Tri's companion's simply refused to take them.  (Consequently, more than 50 per cent of the Communist forces suffered recurring spells of malaria and as many as 20 per cent died during peak malaria seasons.)
   Tri's clothing issue for his two-year tenure with the enemy consisted of two pairs of fatigues, one set of underwear and a pair of sandals.  His salary was 80 piasters - 68 cents - a month.  He never received mail.
   More than two months of Tri's time were spent at political indoctrination courses, but much of the theory was lost on him since he could not understand the thick dialect of his NVA instructors.
   TACTICALLY, THE Communist soldiers were told to avoid daylight contact with American forces unless they outnumbered the GIs at least two to one.
   Tri also said he was taught that if his unit came under gunship attack, it should hold its ground while flanking units scattered into the brush.  If they threw up enough fire, Tri and his companions were told, they would scare off the minigun-packing choppers.
   Tri didn't see much future in his military career, so when he was selected for a 30-man advanced infiltration party bound for the Boi Loi Woods, he defected - encouraged by a PSYOPS chopper that was advertising the Chieu Hoi Program and a gunship that had strafed his unit.  An additional persuasion was the memory of four B-52 bombing raids in five nights that wiped out 15 of his friends.
   TRI STUMBLED upon a Tropic Lightning patrol and although terrified, surrendered and asked to join the Chieu Hoi program.  The Americans gladly complied.
   After being reunited with his family, Tri said he'd like to get his fields back in order and then join the ARVNs.
   Life among the VC/NVA officer corps is hardly any more attractive.  VC Captain Tran Minh Dao was found in a spiderhole in the Boi Loi Woods by troopers of Company B, 2d Battalion, 14th Infantry.  He chose that opportune moment to rally to the government and has since provided Allied forces with some valuable information and insights into life with the enemy.
   A PROFESSIONAL soldier who helped drive the French from Indo-China in 1954, Dao went to Hanoi and Red China for advanced military training, with emphasis on guerrilla tactics.  But he was relieved of his command and drummed out of the service in 1960 when he protested land reforms that included the shooting of hundreds of private landlords.
   In 1967, North Vietnam needed soldiers - regardless of politics - so Dao was commissioned again and sent on the five-month journey down the Ho Chi Minh trail into Tay Ninh Province with a unit of NVA regulars.  He had been away from military training for more than seven years.
   Dao served as the senior captain of the combat tactics section of the VC's Sub-Region 1 northwest of Saigon and as regimental executive officer of the Quyet Thang Regiment. He received a monthly 120 piasters - $1.01 - plus 15 piasters a day to buy food.
   Dao said that NVA forces in South Vietnam are tired of the war.  The NVA soldier has no DEROS day, no leaves to return home and very little mail.  He has seen many of his comrades killed and must wonder about his own chances.
   TO COMBAT these problems, Dao said, discipline with the enemy units is extremely strict.  Disciplinary problems are often shut up in small cages for prolonged periods of time.
   Dao has great respect for the Tropic Lightning soldier.  He said the 25th is the best American fighting unit he has come up against.  He said his men seldom tried to beat the Americans in the field.  Instead, he hoped the Americans would hurt their own cause by disregarding the customs of the Vietnamese.  His men were ordered always to treat the villagers politely and never to appropriate food.
   This, he said, is where the war will be won or lost.


Warriors Lead Rout of Enemy
                            Mushroom Is Poison, NVA Find

(Continued From Page 1) 
   PRIVATE FIRST Class Lonnie Bruce Wagner of Hawthorne, Nev., added: "Once we were in there, everything was up to us.  We couldn't ask for air strikes anymore.  We were taking fire from every direction.  At times the enemy was right in between us and we couldn't fire for fear of hitting our own guys.  We just kept firing until we could get out."
   Again the Tropic Lightning soldiers pulled back and called for fire support and again the early evening sky exploded with air strikes, artillery and gunships.
   Stingers from the 116th Assault Helicopter Company swept across the marshy plain that lies on the other side of the river and dropped a curtain of machine gun fire across the enemy's only possible escape.
   "CLOSE? YES, it was close," said Lieutenant Colonel Burton Walrath of Arlington, Va., Warriors' commander.  "It was toe to toe.  They were a stubborn outfit, recently trained and well equipped.  They intended to stay."
   With a platoon from Charlie Troop, 3d Squadron, 4th Cavalry and elements of the 2d Battalion, 14th Infantry Golden Dragons, the infantrymen swept again with guns blazing and artillery in close support.
   Tropic Lightning had apparently encountered a supply and assembly point where recruits were being trained to replace the nearly 800 enemy lost to Tropic Lightning in this area since July.  If the VC wished to keep the real estate, the Warriors, the Golden Dragons, and the Cav. intended to exact a very high price.
   AFTER A LAST feeble effort to resist, the remaining enemy broke contact and fled toward the Saigon River.
   In the immediate area, 47 enemy dead were found as the allied soldiers circled into a night laager position.  Nine U.S. soldiers had been killed in action and a major enemy position decimated.  It was not a position the 25th Division intended to give up easily.


Cobra Saves Downed LOH Teammates

   CU CHI - Under circumstances that seemed like the script for an adventure movie, three men of Delta Troop, 3d Squadron, 4th Cavalry found themselves in a frying pan of fury, but scrambled out and put an enemy base camp into the fire.
   While investigating Alpha readings - indications from "people-sniffers" that enemy is nearby - a Light Scout Team, an LOH helicopter and Cobra gunship, were hovering over a dense section of the Ho Bo Woods.
   Suddenly the low-flying LOH received fire.  The pilots, Captain Thomas J. Sinclair of San Carlos, Calif., and Captain Wayne A. White of Columbus, Ga., were both hit in the leg.  The LOH faltered, hit the ground and rolled over on its left side.
   Immediately, Specialist 5 Charles P. Vierra of Providence, R.I., the LOH's crew chief, pulled the two wounded men from the downed craft and helped them to safety in a nearby bomb crater, despite a hail of enemy small arms fire.
   White later recalled, "I thought we could stay by the LOH, but when I saw the dust raised by the incoming fire and heard a lot of excited talking in the bushes, I felt much safer moving out of the area."
   Vierra returned to the aircraft, took out his M-60 machinegun and ammo, and set up a 180-degree field of fire facing the enemy.
   Meanwhile, Sinclair had struggled from the crater, found a landing zone about 20 meters away and waved the Cobra in for a landing.
   The VC were screaming and rushing the area, but the Cobra touched down after blasting the enemy positions with rockets to back up Vierra's continuing fire.
   The Cobra pilot, Captain William Malinovsky of Columbus, Ohio, said, "I knew it was a chance to pick them up, but it was a better one than they had down there with wounds."
   Warrant Officer 1 Larry E. Bruce of Richfield, Minn., leaped from the Cobra and helped Sinclair unfasten the ship's doors and free the ammo pods.
   While the wounded men were hustled into the gunship, Vierra kept up his suppressive fire until he ran out of ammunition, and by that time everyone had been loaded onto the Cobra.  It took off, carrying three hits it absorbed while on the ground and leaving the suprised enemy for Fire Brigade infantrymen.
   They arrived soon in the person of Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry.  A four-ship lift brought the company's third platoon to the scene of the crash and its first platoon soon arrived to link up.
   The Golden Dragons moved quickly into what turned out to be a VC base camp.  The LOH was lying on its side, expended AK ammo scattered all around.  The Tropic Lightning troops formed a 360-degree perimeter and began searching the area, soon finding a vast tunnel complex.
   The Dragons found a small cache, but the VC had fled.  The Americans stayed around long enough to secure the area while a Huey UH-1 came in to lift the downed LOH out of the area.
   Sinclair, Bruce, Vierra and Captain William E. Malinovsky of Columbus, Ohio, commander of the Cobra who made the decision to land and then used his sidearm to help hold the enemy at bay, all received Silver Stars for their part in the action.  White was a awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross.  The five awards were presented in ceremonies the day after the incident.

SAME-SAME - Beginning their daily road clearing reconnaissance on Highway 7A, Bobcats of the 1st Battalion (Mechanized), 5th Infantry get ready to battle the mud.  (PHOTO BY PFC RICH FITZPATRICK)



Holy Vietnamization!  ARVN-GI Duo Prevails

   CU CHI - Like the Joker, The Penguin and the Riddler, the Viet Cong have all learned the hard way that it just doesn't pay to fight Batman.
   This time, "Batman" was in the form of the 8th Reconnaissance Company of the 8th Regiment, 5th ARVN Division, whose men sport pictures of Batman over their right shirt pockets.
   The Batmen have been working with the Warriors of the 2d Battalion, 12th Infantry.  Recently they conducted a night bushmaster south of the Boi Loi Woods.
   The ARVNs sprang their ambush four times during the night.  On the way to their AP site, a hasty ambush was set up when Viet Cong were spotted a few meters in front of the Allies.  Again and again the Vietnamese set up to spring their AP on the unwary enemy.
   A sweep of the area the next day found the effects of their night's work: eight VC killed, two detainees, two prisoners of war, ten pounds sugar and 100 pounds of cooking utensils.
   As a result of their actions during the busy night, the ARVN soldiers were awarded Bronze Stars and Army Commendation Medals from Tropic Lightning Commander Major General Harris W. Hollis.  General Hollis, who presented the awards at Fire Support Base Pershing, told the ARVNs: "You're doing a fine job. Keep up the good work."


Thanks to:
Karl Karlgaard, 2nd Bn., 27th 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 01-29-2005

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