TLN.JPG (37996 bytes)

Vol 5 No. 21          TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS          June 1, 1970



Unit                   Page Unit                  Page Unit                   Page Unit                  Page
1/5 Photo                         1 2/14                                  7 25th Inf S-5                     8 3/22 Photo                      4
1/5                                     1 2/22                                  1 3/4 Cav                            1 3/22                                  6
1/8 Arty                           1 2/22 Photo                      3 3/4 Cav                            1 4/9                                    1
1/27                                  1 2/22                                  3 3/4 Cav                            8 4/9 Photo                         8
1/27                                  1 2/22                                  8 3/4 Cav                            8 65th Engr                         1
1/27                                  3 2/27                                  1 3/22                                  1 65th Engr                         6
1/27                                  8 2/27 Photo                      8 3/22 Photo                       1 65th Engr Photo             6
187 AHC                          1 2/47                                  1 3/22                                  3 Thien Ngon                     6
2/14                                  1 25th Inf Photos              4 3/22 Photo                      3 NVA Photos                    7
2/14                                  3      


In Cambodia
CAMBODIAN NIGHT - Tracks of the 1st Battalion (Mech.), 5th Infantry, set up a night laager during operations below the Dog's Face portion of the Cambodian border.  A trip flare produced this eerie effect in the night.  (Photo by SP4 Rich Fitzpatrick)


Hits Caches in Cambodia
    25th Raids Sanctuaries
By SP4 Charles C. Self

   NEAR THE DOG'S FACE, CAMBODIA - Fast-moving mechanized units and airlifted infantrymen recently swept through major enemy base camps confiscating rice, weapons and even trucks as two brigades of the 25th Infantry Division pushed into Communist sanctuaries in Cambodia.
   In a two-phase operation, the first and second brigades thrust into areas below and above the Dog's Face section of the Cambodian-Vietnamese border as third brigade took over the Division's Vietnam area of operations.
   1st Brigade alone the Americans uncovered more than 270 tons of rice, killed 266 enemy and captured 41 detainees during the first week of activity.
   Supplies captured included everything from bicycles and motorcycles to a 10-ton truck.  The GIs had captured 221 individual weapons and 22 crew served weapons early in the campaign and more were being found.
   The lightly-defended complexes found in the three primary areas of operation included above-ground structures as well as bunkers and often were connected by interlocking board sidewalks.
   Officials said only sporadic defenses were encountered by US troops.  They said the enemy seemed to be taken by surprise and were, for the most part, fleeing from the Americans in small, disorganized groups.
   The first phase of the operation began May 6 when the 1st Brigade crossed the Rach Cai Bac river separating Cambodia and Vietnam.  The second phase started May 9 when the 2nd Brigade airlifted troops into Cambodia north of the Dog's Face.
   The first unit into Cambodia was the 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry, which was airlifted into two locations.  Alpha, Bravo and Delta companies were inserted near the village of Tasous where they made contact with the enemy during a sweep of the area.
   Charlie Company landed in the thick jungle just across the river and secured a bridgehead for the 65th Engineers.
   On the Vietnam side of the river, the 2nd Battalion (Mech.), 22nd Infantry, cleared a way to the river for the engineers who constructed a flotation-type bridge so that mechanized units could cross.
   The next day, the 1/5th moved west to link with 3/22nd before moving farther south.  Meanwhile, the 2/22nd swept south from the bridge in two columns.  The 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry, was airlifted to a position between the two armored units and the entire brigade began the laborious block by block search of the area, ferreting out enemy food and supplies.
   Phase two of the operation began when elements of the 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry, and 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry, were airlifted into an area north of the Dog's Face.
   The 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry, swept north from the border and secured the roadways in the area.  The 4/9th was relocated to the east of the Cav and the 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry, and 2nd Battalion (Mech.), 47th Infantry, joined them in a search near Phum Krek.
   The four battalions formed a large box restricting the enemy's ability to evacuate supplies.  Then they began to carefully collapse the box searching for the enemy and his equipment.
   Then the 4/9th and the 3/4 Cav began to uncover caches that appeared to be part of a large complex.
   Equipment found included vehicles, generators, many large above-ground structures, field phones, duplicating machines, typewriters, explosives and even a 250-bed hospital.
   The careful, block by block search of the area continued at the time of this writing.
   Supporting elements included the 187th Helicopter Company, the 1st Troop, 8th Artillery and logistic units of the 25th Infantry Division.


Bullet Hits Cross Saving 'Hound

   FSB SHARRON, Cambodia - Catching an AK-47 round in the helmet isn't what a grunt looks forward to.  As much as he didn't want the experience, Private First Class Agapito Martinez of Brownsville, Tex., a member of Alfa Company, 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry "Wolfhounds," did just that in the jungles of Cambodia.
   Martinez' unit had been Eagle-flighted into an area for a morning sweep.
   "We moved about 150 yards when we made contact," said Martinez.  "When our platoon sergeant was hit, the platoon leader sent back word for someone to go and get him.  As soon as our 60s opened up, I ran to the wounded man."
   Just before Martinez got to the sergeant, an AK round hit the crucifix Martinez had on his helmet.  The round ricocheted off the cross, penetrated the outer steel portion of the helmet and exited two inches from its entrance point.
   Martinez emerged with a slight ringing in his head, but otherwise unhurt.  "It took me five minutes to find my steel pot, and I sure was glad to see it again."


Cav Confiscates Big Arms Cache

   FSB DORN, CAMBODIA - After searching for hours in the blistering Cambodian sun, the 25th Division's Alfa Troop, 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry, uncovered a large arms cache.
   Alfa Troop, under the command of First Lieutenant Edmund Winter of Erie, Pa., was moving slowly through a heavily wooded area six miles inside Cambodia.  A man had seen them and was fleeing.
   In hot pursuit, the Cavmen had to dismount their tracks so they could cross the deep river between their position and the enemy's.
   The first man across, Private First Class Robert Michaud of Grand Isle, Maine, spotted a well-concealed hootch.
   "I took my time going into that hootch, said Michaud.  Inside he uncovered several boxes of weapons and ammunition.
   According to Winter, what they had found was evidently a combined enemy base camp and training center.  In the area, the Americans also found several other hootches with blackboards and benches lined up classroom style.
   By the time the Cav was forced to quit their search because of darkness, they had found one mimeograph machine, two brand new generators, 86 M-1 rifles, three .30 caliber machine guns and three typewriters.
   They also found two unused 75 mm recoilless rifles with carriages, 38 cases of .30 caliber ammunition, 100 81 mm rounds, four cases of 3.5 inch rockets, four cases of Soviet mines, one 60mm mortar tube with bipod and one .30 caliber water-cooled machine gun.
   Also in the cache were 11 bicycles, 11 cases of AK ammunition, 100 60mm rounds, nine rocket-propelled grenade rounds and 40 hand grenades.


Undeer fire INCOMING -- Soldiers of Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry, hit the ground after they were bombarded with incoming artillery rounds.  They were securing a bridgehead on the Rack Cai Bac River in Cambodia.  (Photo by SP4 Charles C. Self).



Page 2                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           June 1, 1970



SP4 Costantino Flaim, Co C, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
SP4 Richard E. Guth, Co F, 75th Inf
SP4 Bruce D. Hotchkiss Jr, Co C, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
SP4 Robert E. Howell, Co C, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
SP4 Lee R. Johnston, Co C, 4th Bn, 23d Inf
SP4 Stephen M. Klaus, Co C, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
SP4 James C. Love, Co A, 4th Bn, 23d Inf
SP4 Kevin Morton, Co B, 2d Bn, 14th Inf
SP4 George W. Reinwald, Co C, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
SP4 John G. Romito, Co B, 2d Bn, 14th Inf
SP4 Charles M. Scherr, Co C, 4th Bn, 23d Inf
SP4 Bill B. Schultz, Co B, 2d Bn, 14th Inf
SP4 Paul E. Sharp, Co B, 2d Bn, 14th Inf
SP4 George E. Simard Jr, Co C, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
SP4 Robert M. Wood, Co C, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
SP4 Roy F. Worthy, Co C, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
PFC Steven L. Alfrey, Co B, 2d Bn, 14th Inf
PFC Dale A. Berg, Co C, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
PFC James A. Bergman, Co C, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
PFC Joseph P. Dastoli, Co B, 2d Bn, 14th Inf
PFC Kenneth Durand, Co A, 4th Bn, 23d Inf
PFC Russel E. Fridley, Co B, 2d Bn, 14th Inf
PFC Phillip M. Gay, Co A, 4th Bn, 23d Inf
PFC Arthur H. Hardin, 25th MP Co
PFC Thomas J. Heavilin, Co B, 2d Bn, 14th Inf
PFC Arnold L. Hendry, Co C, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
PFC John Janko, Co C, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
PFC Stephen L. Jones, Co C, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
PFC Terry D. Lane, Co C, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
PFC Kenneth J. Langland, Co F. 75th Inf
PFC James E. Latour, Co C, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
PFC Robert W. Legassique, Co C, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
PFC Joseph F. Luiz, Co C, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
PFC Catarino V. Mendoza, Co F, 75th Inf
PFC Blake Mutschler, Co C, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
PFC John W. Parrott, Co C, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
PFC Dennis P. Perry, Co A, 4th Bn, 23d Inf
PFC Robert A. Rohmer, Co C, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
PFC Russell L. Springer, Co C, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
PFC Robert L. Stafford Jr, Co C, 2d Bn, 14th Inf
PFC James H. Untch, Co C, 2d Bn, 27th Inf
PFC Michael Valentine, Co B, 2d Bn, 14th Inf
PFC Norman E. Willis, Co B, 2d Bn, 14th Inf



New Plan for NCOs
   Faster Rank Offered
   The Department of the Army recently announced a new non-commissioned officer promotion plan by which outstanding NCO's may be promoted to higher NCO ranks much faster.
   The new policy allows personnel of the rank E-6 to be promoted to E7 after only three years time-in-grade and regardless of time in service.  Formerly, an E6 staff sergeant had to have at least seven years in the service before he could advance to the rank of E7.
   Although the new policy change will affect all outstanding E6's throughout the Army, its main purpose is to recognize squad leaders who have shown their abilities to perform well under Vietnam combat conditions.
   Army officials hope that the overall effect of the change will be to retain many of the Army's NCOs.  Until now, many young men became E6's during their first year or two in the Army only to find that they had to wait many years before they could hope to compete for a higher enlisted grade.
   NCO's who have spent seven years in the service but have only six months time-in-grade as E6s will still be considered for promotion as they have been previously.
   A recent Department of the Army message stated, "Individuals who already meet the existing criteria are not now required to complete three years in the grade of E6.  They may still be considered under existing criteria.  Individuals who meet the new criteria do not compete as a separate group, but rather become part of the entire eligible poll from which recommendations and selections are made."
   The message also says that promotions under the new policy will not he made in an MOS in which a world-wide E7 overstrength exists.  Personnel wishing to find out whether the policy affects them should refer to DA Circular 611-4 which lists overstrength and understrength enlisted MOS's.
   In addition to the policy change for promotion to E7, Army officials have noted that the latest E8 promotion board recently dropped the secondary zone of consideration for outstanding men from 11 years of service to 10 years and that the next E9 board will have a secondary zone that will take in those with only 13 years of service.


Arms: Handle With Care


Don't be an idiot! THE HARD WAY - A machinegunner screws the barrel of his weapon into place.  But he is risking his DEROS.  He should not stand in front of the machinegun while doing it.  It could prove fatal.


   Recently, a man was riding shotgun with two mechanics who were taking parts to the radar site at Trung Lap.  As the shotgunner attempted to unload his shotgun, he pointed it between his legs out toward the ground.  He was sitting in the passenger's seat of the jeep and had his right foot perched on the edge of the vehicle.  The fourth round to be ejected went off, and the shotgunner consequently shot off three of his own toes.
   In another incident, a platoon was airlifted into a landing zone in order to conduct a search and clear operation.  The accident occurred while the platoon was awaiting an order to begin the sweep.
   While waiting for further instructions, a private and a specialist began a joking conversation debating about which of them could draw and unload his weapon the fastest.
   Deciding to try a dry run, the private grabbed his rifle which had been lying on the ground.  His hand accidentally hit the trigger and discharged the weapon.  As a result, the specialist was shot in the right buttock.
   Had the weapons involved in these two accidents been locked on safety, neither of the these incidents could have occurred.  Recklessness, in pointing the weapons in the wrong direction, was also a factor.


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:

March 16
CPT Williams Bryan, HHC, 25th Inf Div, boy

May 6
SP4 Calvin Feltner, A Co, 1st Bn, 27th Inf, boy
PVT Raymond D. Contreras, 1st Bn, 8th Arty, boy

May 7
PFC Michael Jerkebek, C Co, 4th Bn, 9th Inf, boy
LT Alfred C. Anders, HHC, 1st Bn, 5th Inf, boy

May 8
PFC George Banks Jr., HHC, 25th S & T Bn, girl
SFC Henry A. McWaters, 187th Avn, boy
May 10
SP4 Joseph A. Wilson, 46 IPSD, girl
1LT Otis J. Elam, HHC, 25th Inf, girl
SGT Joseph E. Howell, C Co, 2nd Bn, 22nd Inf, boy

May 11
PFC Arnold G. Lee, A Co, 2nd Bn, 12th Inf, boy
PFC Ronald D. Nelson, A Co, 2nd Bn, 14th Inf, girl
SGT Warren Allen, A Co, 2nd Bn, 27th Inf, girl
CPT Harvey Glowski, HHC, 25th Inf Div, girl

May 12
SP4 Royce D. Dickenson, B Co, 25th S & T Bn, girl



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 Edward Bautz, Jr . . . . . .  Commanding General
MAJ Warren J. Field . . . . . .  Information Officer
1LT John Caspari . . . . . . . . .  Officer-in-Charge
SSG Stephen F. Veroczi . . . .  NCOIC
SP4 Charles C. Self . . . . . . . .  Editor
SP5 Gary D. Sciortino  . . . . .  Assistant Editor
PFC Joseph V. Kocian . . . . . Production Supervisor


SGT Bill Obelholzer
SP4 Jim Williams
SGT Wally Baker
SP4 Greg Stanmar
SP4 Doug Sainsbury
SP4 Ken Barron
SP4 Greg Duncan
SP4 Brad Yaeger
SP4 Frank Rezzonico
SP4 Dan Neff
SP4 Henry Zukowski, Jr
SP4 Joe O'Rourke
PFC Ray Byrne
SGT William E. Zarrett
SP4 Robert Caplan
SP4 Brian Flaherty
SP4 Rich Fitzpatrick
PFC Rob Lato
SP4 Frank Salerno
SP4 Lawrence Merritt
SP4 William McGown



Page 3                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           June 1, 1970


Searching for Headquarters
   Dragons Find Cache

   NEAR THE PREK KAM POMG SPEAN RIVER, CAMBODIA -- An assault on what was believed to be an NVA Headquarters area by the "Golden Dragons" of the 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry, in Cambodia produced what was called one of the largest caches of the offensive.
   Among the list of goods uncovered were 67 AK-47 rifles, 22 other assault rifles, 80 pistols, six .51 caliber machine guns, one-and-one-half tons of rice, 100 anti-tank mines, 80 pounds of clothing, one 120mm mortar tube, 320 pounds of C-4 explosive and 600 construction tools.
   "In three days," said Lieutenant Colonel Charles W. Norton Jr., commander of the Golden Dragons, "we have destroyed what it took him (the NVA) six months to a year to build up."
   The cache was found five miles west of the border, near the Prek Kam Pomg Spean River, in Cambodia, by Charlie Company.
   Motor scooters, bicycles and a large training area also were located in the area.
   Resistance was first encountered when Charlie Company was pinned down by an unknown number of defenders of the supply depot.
   "It wasn't too hard to tell that they were there, after a Chi-Corn mine knocked me off my feet," said Specialist 4 Ron O'Daffer of Lima, Ohio, who was uninjured by the blast.
   The 2nd Platoon, Charlie Company, silenced the resistors with the aid of air strikes.  A secondary explosion indicated sizeable munitions had been destroyed.  The resulting fire burned through the night.
   "These were hardcore NVA," said Private First Class Louis J. Corso of Brooklyn, N.Y.  "I'm surprised we took the place as easily as we did."
   "A lot of the stuff was probably burned in the fire," said Captain Michael J. Collier of Wauwatosa, Wis., C Company commander; "We'll never know how much we really took from them."


JUST VISITING -- Cambodian villagers see armored personnel carriers for the first time as an element of the 2nd Battalion (Mech.), 22nd Infantry, passes through while searching a jungle area containing NVA retraining complexes.  (Photo by SP4 Charles C. Self) Cambodian Villagers



Regulars Search For NVA Depots

   TASUOS, CAMBODIA - The 25th Infantry Division's 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry, recently swept into what were believed to be North Vietnamese Army supply sanctuaries.
   While Charlie Company air assaulted a wooded area strategic to a border crossing, Alpha, Bravo and Delta companies were moved into the flatlands of Cambodia four miles deeper into that country's territory.
   As Delta Company, commanded by 1st Lieutenant Less Wright of Bellevue, Wash., moved from its landing zone toward the village of Tasuos, they made heavy contact with the enemy.  The contact lasted for two hours.
   Officials speculated that about 12 NVA were used to delay the American troops while a larger force escaped.
   The US troops found nine enemy bodies, 10 tons of rice, a jeep and assorted supplies and weapons during a sweep to the village.
   Following the battle, the Cambodian residents moved back in and the Regulars brought a medical team into the village.  Villagers were treated for cuts and scratches.
   Brigadier General Michael Greene, assistant division commander, was present during the evacuation of rice and the distribution of the medical supplies.
   The Regulars, under command of Lieutenant Colonel John Hazelwood of Falls Church, Va., broke the ice for the fast-moving mechanized units which moved north and south.  The Regulars patrolled the strategic areas near fire support bases Minnie and Wood and around the village of Tasuos.


Wagontrain, Ho!
    Hounds Make Huge Haul

   FSB SHARRON - Infantrymen of the 25th Division at this Cambodian firebase got quite a shock recently when they saw radio telephone operators (RTO) from the 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry, driving ox carts loaded-down with rice and arms down the road.
   The men, from Alfa Company, were part of an eagle flight operation into an area suspected to be infested with NVA regulars.
   "We moved approximately 150 yards from the landing zone when we made contact with the enemy," said Captain Thomas Carroll, of Anchorage, Alaska, the company commander.
   After the contact was broken, the infantrymen moved into a heavily vegetated area.  They soon found an enemy training area and forward aid station.  A thorough search established that the area was roughly 400 yards in circumference and contained a large number of bunkers, classrooms and rice storage areas.
   "The enemy must have moved out pretty quickly," remarked Specialist 4 Fred Hastings, of San Jose, Calif., "because when we got to the area some rice was still cooking on the stoves."
   After setting up a headquarters in one of the classrooms, the company set out in search of more enemy supplies.  On the first day, they found one and a half tons of rice and a number of B-40 rockets.
   The big find, however, came on the second day when separate elements of Alfa Company uncovered a number of rice storage areas, all filled to capacity, as well as several additional supply points.
   What the men found totaled 41 tons of rice, 34 ox carts, 10 oxen, 30 pigs, 100 chickens, two tons of cooking utensils, 300 pounds of cloth, 50 pounds of medical supplies, five sewing machines, 50 bicycles, five weapons, 400 rounds of AK ammo, eight claymore mines and a number of anti-tank mines.
   Because of the density of the foliage in the area, the men reasoned that the only way to remove their find was by stacking it on the ox carts.
   With the aid of point, rear and flank security, the Alfa wagon train set out across the jungle, arriving at Sharron a short time later.
   One RTO commented, "We figured Charlie wouldn't dare spring a bush - he'd be too startled when he saw us coming."


The Division Yearbook, VIETNAM 1969 is now available at the Division Information Office.  The book is $5.00 a copy.  If preferred the book can be sent to you.  Please send $5.00 in check or money order to: Information Office, Headquarters, 25th Infantry Division, APO In Country 96225.  Prepaid copies of the Yearbook are now in the mail.



Villagers Douse Triple Deuce GIs

   TASEK, CAMBODIA - Running water Cambodian style was adopted by "Triple Deuce Regulars" of the 25th Infantry Division during operations South of the Dog's Face in Cambodia.
   Resupply was limited due to the thick jungle terrain in the area, so the 2nd Battalion (Mech.), 22nd Infantry, soon became confronted with a shortage of water for washing and bathing.  The water to wash up with was important to the men working in hot, humid weather all day.
   Cambodian villagers seeking friendship and safe refuge offered their assistance.  They rigged up a shower - of sorts - using water from hand-dug wells.
   The GIs formed a single line and began to soap up.  Then, as each GI stepped up, his Cambodian friend heaved a bucket of water and thoroughly doused him Laurel-and-Hardy or Cambodian-shower style.


KEEPING WATCH -- A 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry, soldier keeps an alert watch while waiting for orders to move deeper into Cambodia during a sweep of enemy sanctuaries there.  (Photo by SP4 Brian Flaherty) On Guard



Page 4-5                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           June 1, 1970


Cambodian Caches


   One of the primary objectives when the 25th Division moved into Cambodia was to find enemy supplies and equipment, as well as the enemy himself.  And that's just what US forces did.  They found plenty of enemy caches and evacuated or destroyed them eliminating them for further use against the Allies.  The photographs on this page show just a few of the things uncovered during the opening days of the operations in Cambodia.


  Welcome to Cambodia
Rice a la Cart MUCH OF THE RICE FOUND WAS STILL LOADED ON CARTS  (Photo by SP4 Charles Self)
A GI EXAMINES FOOD AND WEAPONS WHICH FILLED CACHES.  (Photo by SP4 Henry G. Zukowski) Inspecting Cache


Rice Cache



Page 6                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           June 1, 1970


Engineers Bridge River for Tracks

   RACH CAI BAC RIVER - When the word came for the 25th Infantry Division to cross into Cambodia, the 65th Engineer Battalion began a crash program to span the Rach Cai Bac River on the western border of the Republic of Vietnam.  Tropic Lightning mechanized units would need the bridge in order to support operations inside Cambodia.
   The first morning, Company C, 3rd Battalion, 22d Infantry, air assaulted into Cambodia.  Their mission was to secure the Cambodian side of the river bank.
   Next on the scene was E Company of the 65th Engineers - the bridge builders.  The bridge was constructed of light transport rafts.  Every ten minutes the roar of the engineers' bridge erection boats (BEBs) signaled the arrival of one more section of bridge.
   While Echo Engineers fitted the pieces of the International Bridge, Bravo Company, 65th Engineers, cleared the Vietnamese side of the river for the site of Fire Support Base Mini, responsible for the defense of the bridge.
   It took only six hours to span the 50-meter wide river.  Even though it was nearly dark, two platoons of the 1st Battalion, (Mech.), 5th Infantry, crossed and set up a night defensive position on the Cambodian side.
   Early the next morning, the rest of the 1st of the 5th and the 2d Battalion (Mech.), 22d Infantry, crossed into the new area of operation.

INTO CAMBODIA -- Men of the 65th Engineers link pontoons to form a flotation-type bridge that will carry mechanized units into Cambodia.  (Photo by SP4 Charles C. Self) Pontoon Bridge



Thien Ngon Becomes Forward Supply Point

   THIEN NGON - The 25th Division's new forward supply point at Thien Ngon is a hot, ugly, depressing place.
   It is depressing because it is such a large sore pimple on the face of a once beautiful landscape.  It is a treeless patch of flat, sandy, beaten down grassy ground, surrounded by a stark naked hedge of defoliated trees.  All the limbs are intact, whitened by rain and sun.  The view is one of barren emptiness.
   The air is full of dust and cinders from hovering Chinooks, revved-up C-130s and incoming eagle flights.  The sand and grit and dust gets into everything.
   A long airfield has been scraped out of the land - paved by the 65th Engineers.  There is a tarred refueling helipad, and a place for airplanes to pull off the runway to unload.
   There are a few tents and bunkers, built by the men who are manning the base.  Every once in a while you see someone come out of a conex and start digging a hole or putting up a sunshade of poles and poncho.
   The sun beats down, pounding hot - a hundred and ten degrees.  Sweat drips, soaks clothes and stings the eyes.  You can hear the motors of the generators running night and day, droning on and on, powering the radios, the telephones.
   Thien Ngon was a staging area; now it is another rear area up forward.  It is ahead of the old forward area and behind the lines of the new fighting fronts inside Cambodia.
   Supplies come up a long, long dusty road from the old forward area 18 miles to the southwest at Tay Ninh, to the new forward area here, by truck convoy.  Or they come up by airplane.
   Then helicopters carry the resupply to. units in the jungle fighting.  Often, the resupply ship brings in the mail and takes out a guy who wants to get out for R&R, emergency leave, or, the lucky ones, ETS.
   The resupply ship is a pretty welcome sight to journalists, too, who have to get back to Tay Ninh to type stories, process film and find out where the action is going to be the next day.
   Thien Ngon has been worked on a lot since May 5th, but it is still a very ugly place.  Cots, showers, hot meals and cold beer would help it, but it probably will always be ugly.


Ilikai East by Night

WED   Floor Show (8 p.m.)
THU    "Soundout '70" Discussion Group (8 p.m.)
FRI     Cookout on Patio (8 pm.)
SAT    Tournaments (2 p.m.)
           Filmstrips & Popcorn (7:30 p.m.)
SUN   Coffee Call (10:00 a.m.)
            Tournaments (2 pm.)
            Smoker Bingo (8 pm.)
MON  Try-Your-Luck Party (8 p.m.)
TUE    Contract Bridge Tourney (8 p.m.)



Ask Sgt. Certain

DEAR SGT CERTAIN:  Faithfully read your column each week - Now I have a question.  Today marks two months since I've eaten in a mess hall - some friends suggested it might be a base camp record.  Tell me sarge, can I claim a record here on base for staying away from sam's chow?
                                                                                                SP5 John H. Twist

DEAR TWIST:  It may have been two months since you ate in a mess hall, but that doesn't mean you can claim a record for not having eaten Uncle Sam's chow.  Let's face it -- that kind of record's not easy to come by.  If you ate at the snack bar then you're disqualified.  That food still comes from Uncle Sam.  The same goes for C-Rations.  Unless you've been eating Nuouc Mam and rice every day for the past two months, you've got to be fudging.  Speaking of fudge, however, you did set a record.  You put more into your letter than my mother could ever hope to fit into a box.

DEAR SGT CERTAIN:  When my company uncovered a 300-ton cache of Communist supplies in Cambodia, I happened to find a harmonica manufactured in Communist China.  The trouble is that every time I try to play "Home on the Range", the harmonica persists in playing "The East Is Red."  What can I do to keep my find from ending on a bad note?
                                                                                                COUNTRY BOY

DEAR COUNTRY BOY:  Don't let anyone know that you blew it.  Tell the harmonica to Chieu Hoi.


Page 7                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           June 1, 1970


Captured NVA Photos
    Know Your Enemy

   NEAR TASUOS, CAMBODIA -- The photographs shown on this page were part of a cache captured by Delta Company, 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry, inside Cambodia.
   The photographs illustrate the type of weapons, uniforms and equipment used by the enemy.
   The hootch complex, located about 22 miles northwest of Tay Ninh Base Camp, also yielded several tons of rice, four motorcycles, about 50 bicycles, documents and medical supplies.

Story and Photos
Gathered by
SP4 Richard Erickson





Page 8                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           June 1, 1970


Refugees Receive Aid from Brigade

   TAY NINH - One of the most unkind by-products of war is the dislocated civilian - the man, woman or child who must seek refuge in an unfamiliar land.
   The recently increased Communist activity inside Cambodia has disrupted the normally peaceful lives of thousands of civilians.  In droves, these civilians have raced across the border, seeking the security of the Government of Vietnam.
   The Psychological Operations (S-5) section of the 25th Infantry Division's 3rd Brigade is playing a crucial role in the orderly processing and relocation of these refugees.
   "The GVN is masterminding the operation," said First Lieutenant John McShane, the assistant S-5.  "Most of our personnel have moved to Tay Ninh to provide direct assistance to the province officials involved."
   The 3rd Brigade assisted approximately 5,000 refugees during the first week of the Cambodian exodus.  Most were taken to a special refugee village west of Tay Ninh.  This is where S-5 assistance is most apparent.
   "Mostly we assist in obtaining food and water, clothing and transportation," McShane, of St. Louis, continued.
   In answer to the question of what would ultimately happen to these people, the lieutenant replied, "Those who have relatives in South Vietnam" - and it seems a good many of them do - "will be resettled near them.  Others will be resettled in areas into which they have come.  The rest will be set up in areas especially planned for them."
   With so many refugees streaming in, the task of location is far from a simple one.  McShane, however, confidently pointed out that, the GVN people are handling things very well."


Ambushed AMBUSH -- A soldier of the 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry, hits the ground after a squad of NVA ambushed the unit as it searched for enemy complexes inside Cambodia.  (Photo by SP4 Charles C. Self)



Use Grenades
    'Hounds Help Enemy Rally

   PHUM KREX, CAMBODIA - Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry "Wolfhounds," of the 25th Infantry Division cornered four North Vietnamese Army soldiers in a woodline near their landing zone shortly after they were airlifted for operations into enemy sanctuaries in Cambodia.
   The four NVA rallied to men of the 1st platoon after they were wounded by hand grenades tossed into their position by the 1st platoon leader and his Radio Telephone Operator (RTO).
   Delta Company was working about eight kilometers north of the Dog's Face section of the Vietnamese-Cambodian border searching for enemy caches and base camps.
   The three platoons participating in the operation were searching areas around their landing zone when medic Private First Class Byron J. Johnson spotted what appeared to be four NVA moving across an open area away from the US troops.
   The 1st platoon gave chase and caught the enemy in a woodline near the center of the clearing.
   "They cut loose on us pretty good and we fired back with our M-16's" said 1st Lieutenant Lawrence E. Smith, platoon leader of 1st platoon.
   "We kept calling out Chieu Hoi and trying to get them to rally and they wouldn't," he said.   "They just said 'No Chieu Hoi,' so we kept throwing frags in and firing at them."
   Johnson tossed one grenade in and moved to the enemy's flank while Smith and his RTO, Private Willie L. Williams, tossed more grenades at them.
   The grenades wounded all four of the NVA and convinced them to rally.


Rice Times

   THIEN NGON - The 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry, about five days, collected close to 400 tons of rice in operations inside Cambodia.  They were struggling to remove this rice from the thick woods.
   Using Chinooks, track transports, and in some cases the insides of their troop carriers, the Americans fought to get the rice back to Tay Ninh - where it would be redistributed to needy Vietnamese families -- before the monsoons began.
   Consequently, the men were pretty much fed up with rice.  One Cavalryman, Private First Class Robert A. Bear, of San Diego, put it this way, "If I see an ounce of rice after this thing is over I think I'll scream."
   Well, several days later Bear must have done quite a bit of screaming.  For when the men rushed over to their field expedient mess hall to eat the lunch that had just been delivered hot from Tay Ninh, their unbelieving eyes saw two brimming mermite cans full of steaming, white, juicy rice - just as planned on the Army Master Menu in Washington.



Triple Deuce Posts Funny Jungle Signs

   DOG'S FACE, CAMBODIA - For soldiers who enjoyed reading billboards along highways in the United States, the men of the 25th Infantry Division's 2nd Battalion (Mech.), 22nd Infantry, have prepared a special jungle trail in Cambodia.
   Along a resupply trail running from Tay Ninh Base Camp to the "Triple Deuce" line companies operating in Cambodian territory, they have made field-expedient billboards constructed from empty C-Ration carboard boxes and hung by sandbag strings.
   Signs read "Beware of Jay Walkers with AK's," or "Ho Chi Minh Trail."  Others include, "This used to be your country, Charlie, 'till the 'Deuce' came," and "Pick your pardner and we'll go 'round."
   Home states are also favorites.  Ohio, California, Iowa, Georgia are just a few represented on the signs.
   "We write the funny signs and hang them from the tall trees and jungle vines," explained Specialist 4 Roger Heard of Donaldsonville, Ga.  "This gives the guys a lot of laughs while traveling along the trail."


Rice Bag Trail Leads To Jungle Warehouse

   FSB DORN - There are a lot of jokes about bears in the woods, but no one was laughing recently when 25th Division Cavalryman Private First Class Robert A. Bear of San Diego and a companion, Specialist 4 Uros Bandich, uncovered 170 tons of rice in the dark Cambodian woods.
   Bandich, a Yugoslavian refugee and a resident of Fairlawn, N.J., was in the lead.  Bear was walking about ten paces to his rear.
   The two men were followed by several other "dismounts" and the tracks from Charlie Troop, 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry.
   "We dismounted when we noticed fresh tire tracks," Bear said.  The tracks led the men through the forest right to a large pile of green, plastic-covered rice.  Near that they spotted another pile of rice.  The two piles totaled about 220 bags - each bag weighing roughly 170 pounds.
   "I yelled to Mike (Private First Class Mike Weaber) to get the rest of the tracks and, following a hunch of Yugo's (Bandich's nickname), we continued up about 20 yards on the left."  There they found four more stacks of rice, all well hidden.
   As the tracks followed them to each new rice cache, the men moved up a well-used path finding large stacks of rice about every ten yards until finally they found two large trucks.
   "It was fantastic," said Bandich.
   "Yeah," Bear perked up.  "It almost seemed like it was never going to end.  Exciting, really exciting."
   As an afterthought, Bear added, "You know it would have been nice if we had found some weapons and ammo like Alfa Troop did.  But," he continued, "although they don't shoot you with rice, they can't fight without food."


CHASING CHARLIE -- Troops of the 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry, begin a push into a jungle area believed to contain a major enemy complex and supply cache.  (Photo by PFC Richard Connell) Patrolling



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 05-16-2006

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