Vol 1 No. 19 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS July 8, 1966
|128th AHC 7
|25th Inf Photo 8
|3/4 Cav 7
|1/5 Photo 6
|25th Avn Bn Photo 3
|3/4 Cav Photo 7
|25th Avn Bn 3
|1/14 Photo 7
|25th Avn Bn 4
|2/35 Photo 1
|25th Avn Bn Photos 4
|65th Engr 7
|1/14 Photo 8
|25th Avn Bn 7
|Cu Chi Bus Schedule 3
|25th Inf Photo 1
|25th Avn Bn 8
|Operation Coco Palms 1
|25th Inf 1
|25th S&T 3
|Operation Santa Fe 1
|25th Inf Photo 2
[The 1966 Vietnam issues of Tropic Lightning News were published in Saigon, and are of lower quality than later years that were printed in Japan. Over the years the photographs and text have faded and it has been difficult to reproduce them. Even when the photos are unclear, I have been included them to give a sense of the activities in the Division.]
OPERATIONS SWEEP HAU NGHIA
"Coco Palms" Nets 10
Ten Viet Cong were killed, two captured and six suspects detained last week as 1st Battalion (Mechanized), 5th Infantry, swept through Ho Bo Woods on the six -day Operation "Coco Palms."
The sweep netted the "Bobcats" 41 tunnels, three bunkers, 16 buildings, two sampans and a bridge.
Additionally, 1/5th demolition teams exploded two Claymore mines, six anti-tank mines, 44 booby traps, 20 grenades, 10 rifle grenades, seven 105mm howitzer rounds and a 4.2-inch mortar round. They also destroyed a mortar position, three machine gun nests and 2,000 pounds of rice.
During the six days, two M-1 rifles, one Springfield rifle, two German Mausers, 12 Chinese carbines, three M-1 carbines, two unidentified rifles and a Czech machinegun were captured.
The 1/5th troops captured almost 40 of tons rice, 100 pounds of salt and 1,500 pounds of peanuts.
Among the miscellaneous items found were bicycles, cloth, clothing, pick heads, ammunition pouches, gas masks and a number of batteries.
Op "Santa Fe" Combines Dual Area Missions
Division elements, maneuvering on Operation "Sante Fe," report having killed two Viet Cong, while capturing 20 and detaining another 49 suspects since the operation began about three weeks ago.
The battalion has also captured or destroyed enemy bunkers, sampans, structures, mines, booby traps and six tunnels. In addition, they captured 1,500 pounds of rice.
Area pacification has taken a large part of the units' time and effort. Army surgeons and Army, Republic of Vietnam (ARVN), aid men have treated almost 1,400 persons while conducting Medical Civic Action Program visits.
Division soldiers are constructing roads and assisting ARVN troops in building compounds.
Captain Milton Goo, of Honolulu, said the results are "very pleasing. The people in the area are no longer afraid of us as they were when we arrived. They are submitting intelligence information and the children are putting out information on possible VC booby traps, 'dud' mortar rounds and hand grenades.
Two Get Viet Medals In Pleiku Ceremonies
A veteran of three wars, Sergeant First Class Kanelio Pele, and a soldier of 14 months, PFC Philippe E. Saunier, were awarded the Vietnamese Gallantry Cross with Gold Star and Vietnamese Medal of Honor during Heroes Day activities at the Vietnamese II Corps Headquarters recently.
A native of American Samoa, Sgt. Pele distinguished himself by single-handedly killing two members of an enemy machine gun crew and forcing the other two North Vietnamese Army soldiers to flee.
Under heavy enemy fire, he carried the machine gun and ammunition, weighing nearly 200 pounds, back to the company area.
Upon reaching his unit area, he realized a wounded man was still at the ambush site. He moved across several hundred yards of open terrain, found the soldier and carried him back to the company position, again receiving enemy fire.
PFC Saunier, of Delcambre, La., was also honored for his action during the fierce battle at landing zone 10 Alpha.
Saunier was a member of an 81mm mortar crew when Company B, 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry, came under heavy mortar fire and intense ground fire.
He remained at his position and continued to rain mortar rounds on the enemy.
|LAUDED - Lieutenant General Nguyen Huu Co, Vietnam deputy prime minister and minister for war and reconstruction, presents the Vietnamese Gallantry Cross with Gold Star to PFC Philippe E. Saunier, 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry, at Heroes Day ceremonies at II Corps Headquarters, Pleiku. (Photo by Martens)
Special Leave Proposed For V-N Extendees
A non-chargeable, 30-day leave at the expense of the government has been proposed for members of the U.S. armed forces in Vietnam who extend for an additional six months beyond the normal one-year tour.
A draft of legislation to amend the present law has been sent to Congress by the Defense Department.
The proposal requests a bill "to authorize a special, 30-day period of leave for a member of a uniformed service who voluntarily extends his tour of duty in a hostile fire area."
The leave would be exclusive of travel time and at an authorized place selected by the individual.
The bill also notes that transportation will be provided to and from the place of departure. (AFNB)
|CINCPAC - Major General Fred C. Weyand, division commander, presents a captured Chinese sub-machinegun to Admiral U.S. Grant Sharp, commander-in-chief, Pacific. Admiral Sharp visited Cu Chi as part of an inspection and familiarization tour of Far East facilities. The admiral, accompanied here by General William C. Westmoreland, commander, U. S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, also visited Cam Ranh Bay Air Base and the III Marine Amphibious Force's 35th Tactical Fighter Wing at Da Nang. (Photo by Park)
AF CG Visits 25th; Goes to Hawaii Job
Air Force Lieutenant General Joseph H. Moore, the former commander of the 7th Air Force (Vietnam), stopped at Cu Chi late last month as part of his farewell tour.
Gen. Moore, in command of the 7th Air Force for more than two years, is the new deputy commander, Pacific Air Forces at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii.
Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Henry A. Jones, U.S. Air Force liaison officer to the division, led a contingent of Air Force personnel stationed at Cu Chi to greet the general.
The general staff and Air Force personnel attended a briefing by General Weyand on the state of the division - past, present and future.
During Gen. Moore's two years in command of the 7th Air Force, he has seen the U.S. air element grow from a handful of World War II bombers, with advisors at the controls, to the present massive capability of the latest flying weapons systems.
Gen. Weyand presented Gen. Moore with a captured Chinese Communist sub-machine gun, taken during the recent Operation "Makiki." The weapon was mounted on a plaque expressing the division's thanks for the air support provided repeatedly.
Gen. Moore has been succeeded at the 7th Air Force by Lieutenant General William W. Momyer.
(See picture page 8)
Small-Unit Tactics Pay Off
One thing that American troops have learned from the war is that it can't be fought conventionally. What seems to characterize the fighting in this conflict is the reliance on small-unit tactics.
There is perhaps nobody as qualified to discuss the utilization of small units as a company commander.
First Lieutenant Thomas H. Snyder, St. Joseph, Mo., is the executive officer of Company C, 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry. The day before the company was to begin an operation, the company commander became ill and Lt. Snyder became acting commander. He learned first hand the importance of the small unit.
Explaining the use of the tactic, Lt. Snyder said, "It is extremely hard for even a company to move through the terrain in Vietnam and really expect to make some sort of contact because a large force is easy to detect and easy to evade."
"I think most contact occurs when a small platoon or squad-size unit is used."
Lt. Snyder explained why small patrols have proved effective.
"When a small patrol is sent out it gets artillery concentrations, armor to support it, radios, good communications, and medical supplies."
"In one instance our reconnaissance platoon went out on an operation and hit a little bigger force than was anticipated. Within about five minutes there were four Thunderchiefs in the air, bombing positions in front of them, and about 150 rounds of artillery being thrown at the enemy."
Page 2 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS July 8, 1966
|BRONZE STAR MEDAL (With "V" Device)
Sp4 Ronald E. Ange, Co. A, 2/14th Inf.
2nd Lt. Richard D. Clark, Co. B, 1/77th Inf.
Sp5 Billy D. Crumbley, HHC, 4/23rd Inf.
Sp5 Paul Derico, HHC, 1/5th Inf.
1st Lt. Frederick H. Henderson, Co. B, 1/27th Inf.
Sp5 Jerry 0. McBryde, HHC, 1/5th Inf.
Sgt. Nathaniel Merriweather, Co. A, 2/27th Inf.
Sp4 Gregory B. Norton, Co. B, 2/27th Inf.
PFC Joseph Pecora Jr., Co. C, 1/27th Inf.
PFC Lloyd G. Wiegel, Co. B, 2/27th Inf.
Sp5 William E. Boone, Co. B, 25th Avn. Bn.
Sp4 Chabes R. Burnett, Co. B, 25th Avn. Bn.
Maj. Frank E. Deam Jr., HH&S Btry., 1/8th Arty.
Maj. Earnest C. Elliott, Co. A, 25th Avn. Bn.
Maj. Glenn T. Feilke, HHD, 25th Avn. Bn.
Sp4 Melchoir Gonzales, Co. B, 25th Avn. Bn.
Capt. Robert H. Kelly, Co. B, 25th Avn. Bn.
Capt. Duane F. Kockx, HHD, 25th Avn. Bn.
PFC Walter H. Phillips, Co. B, 25th Avn. Ba.
Capt. William F. Prow, Co. B, 25th Avn. Bn.
Maj. Peter P. Seaton, Co. A, 25th Avn. Bn.
Capt. James R. Talbert, Co. B, 25th Avn. Bn.
Maj. James R. Vance, Co. B, 25th Avn. Bn.
Sp5 James B. Wiley, Co. B, 25th Avn. Bn.
Sp5 Vernon H. Woods, Co. B, 25th Avn. Bn.
ARMY COMMENDATION MEDAL (With "V" Device)
PFC Jimmy Cosley, HHC, 4/23rd Inf.
Sp4 Joe E. Douhly, HHC, 4/23rd Inf.
SSgt Purvis E. Hamm, HHC, 4/23rd Inf.
SSgt Robert L. Harris, HHC, 4/23rd Inf.
Sp4 Robert E. Walters, HHC, 4/23rd Inf.
PFC Clarence C. Biddle Jr., HHC, 2/14th Inf.
PFC Charles L. Boling, HHC, 2/14th Inf.
PFC James E. Cole, Co. B, 2/27th Inf.
PFC Frederick L. Collins Jr., Co. B, 2/14th Inf.
PFC Earl W. Hornung Jr., A Trp., 3/4 Cav.
PFC James L. Ledin, Co. C, 2/27th Inf.
PFC David H. Lowrie, Co. B, 65th Engr. Bn.
PFC Roger R. Mariani, HHC, 1/27th Inf.
PFC Lorenzo C. Maulden, A Trp., 3/4 Cav.
PFC Roy L. Pellette Jr.. HHC, 2/14th Inf.
PFC John A. Perkins, Co. B, 2/27th Inf.
Sp4 Robert Reedom, Co. A, 4/9th Inf.
Sp4 Richard G. Renaud, B Trp., 3/4 Cav.
Sp4 Ramon L. Reyes-Rodriguez, Co. B, 65th Engr.
PFC Antonio O. Salazar, B Trp., 3/4 Cav
PFC James R. Smith, HHC, 4/9th Inf.
PFC Robert Weekes, Co. A, 1/5th Inf.
PFC Arthur L. Williams Jr., Co. A, 2/14th Inf.
"Defending Freedom Safeguards America"
"I know that when my Country calls I must go. For each time the aggressor stalks the weak, and goes unchallenged, the hobnailed boot of oppression treads one step closer to me and mine."
Technical Sergeant Gerard R. Eder, USAF, wrote the above lines. They were included in his 500-word letter, "I am an American," to Freedoms Foundation last year.
And now it's time for the 1966 Freedoms Foundation Letter Awards Program.
As a serviceman or woman on active duty, you are included in this program. You too can win a cash prize and a trip to Valley Forge, Pa.
Here are the simple rules. The subject this year is: "Defending Freedom Safeguards America." Write or type no more than 500 words on this subject, using only one side of the paper. Be sure to print or type your name, rank, military address and home address. Mail entries to Freedoms Foundation, Valley Forge, Pa., 19481. The deadline is Nov. 1, 1966.
The top award is $1,000. There are 50 awards of $100, 50 more of $50. Runners-up will receive the George Washington Honor Medal or Honor Certificate.
What is the Freedoms Foundation? Basically, it is an independent, nonprofit organization not affiliated with any sectarian religious group or political party, dedicated to creating and building an understanding of the spirit and philosophy of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. (AFNB)
Drive Pushed Until July 31 For Army Aid
The division's 1966 joint fund campaign for Army Emergency Relief (AER) and Army Relief Society (ARS) will run through July 31.
The AER, ARS are designed to aid active personnel, retired soldiers and their families in times of financial distress.
Captain Richard M. Smith, chief of the division Personnel Actions Branch, has been designated division projects officer. Commanders have designated unit project officers down to company, battery, troop and detachment level.
Contributions, in either U.S. military payment certificates or Vietnamese piastres, will be made on a voluntary basis. No participation goals have been set.
The military services sponsor about 33 correspondence school centers. The largest is the United States Armed Forces Institute, Madison,Wis.
Ex-Cong Sings Song Of Terror
Although few, except those immediately affected, realized the war was on in the late 1950's and early 1960's, those who were the victims of the savage campaigns of terrorism, assassination and kidnapping in rural Vietnam were well aware of it. So, too, were the thousands of cadres - trained, dedicated, hard-core Communist leaders and military officers - who fanned out in the countryside to win support for the insurgent forces.
A cadre's role can be described as a combination priest, policeman and propagandist. He is the Communist Party and the National Liberation Front in the countryside hamlets and villages. How they operate is graphically described by one of them, Captain Lam.
"We seek to do three things. The first is to drive a wedge between the people and their government - to make the people hate their government and the Americans. Our second objective is to get people to join our armed forces. The third is to persuade them to increase their production of food and give the increase to us.
"Our cadre go into each village to study the situation and the people. Once they know the people and their problems, our cadre can explain how the problems are the fault of the government, and how the people can achieve their ambitions by following us. In this way we make the government in their village. Then we guide them in forming their own government and in organizing their own armed forces, which, of course, are our auxiliaries.
"Of course, we cannot do this right away in those villages and districts where the government is strong. There we concentrate on educating people politically to hate their government, and on forming both open and secret organizations, which can support us or embarrass the government. Every little bit helps. Any voluntary action of the people, from organized protest to simply slowing down on work ordered by the government, is a clear gain for us.
"Our cadre live in the village or if this is not safe very close by. They appeal to the ideals, the patriotism and the emotions of each individual according to his situation and try to recruit him for the cause. If a person is arrested by government forces we try to contact him as soon as he is released, sympathize with him, arouse his hatred of the government and recruit him. Many times we bring hungry, tired troops into a village so that the people may see how we are suffering for them, and arouse their sympathy. We try in every possible way to create hatred for the government and the Americans, to separate the people from the government and to make them see that we are their only hope.
|OUTSTANDING HELP - Major General Fred C. Weyand, division commander, presents an appreciation plaque to ward nurses. 1st Lieutenants Donna M. Vallee and Vane E Fritzges for the outstanding medical care given to division personnel. (Photo by Park)
|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 U.S. Forces 96225. Army
News Features, Army Photo Features and Armed Forces Press Service material
are used. Views and opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the
Department of the Army. Printed in Saigon, Vietnam, by Dai Doan Ket
Maj. Gen. Fred C. Weyand . . . . Commanding General
Maj. William C. Shepard . . . . . . Information Officer
2nd Lt. Patrick J. McKeand . . . Officer-in-Charge
Sp5 Dale P. Kemery . . . . . . . . . Editor
PFC David L. Kleinberg . . . . . . Editorial Assistant
Page 3 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS July 8, 1966
Buffalo, Bulls Bully . . .
The water buffalo, as much a part of Vietnam as the Vietnamese themselves, has a temper that at times is comparable to that of the waterlogged Viet Cong.
They have been known to charge soldiers on patrol and be generally as nasty as possible to American fighting men who may cross their trail.
However, the sight of three of the animals, stuck up to their backs in the mud and mire which usually follow a monsoon storm, was more than enough to attract the sympathy and immediate concern of at least one such American fighting man.
Staff Sergeant William E. Cunningham, of Junction City, Kan, has become known to the men of the 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry, as "the matador of the rice paddies."
Sgt. Cunningham, who is in the reconnaissance platoon, spotted the three, grey oxen engaged in a hopeless struggle to free themselves, just outside the 4/9th portion of the division perimeter.
After a minimum of red tape, Sgt. Cunningham was granted permission to take a small group of men, equipped with some strong rope, and go outside the wire barrier. To the group's surprise, one of the animals already had wriggled free and had fled the scene. This left two: a cow and her calf.
It was reasoned that the calf should be removed first since no one knew how much mama would cooperate once she was back on solid ground.
The baby was pulled out and lost no time scampering away. Attention was then turned to the mother. Ah, the mother. Someone said she looked as heavy and as mean as an M48 tank.
There were sighs of relief and exhaustion when the cow was finally hoisted out "Ground floor, cosmetics, ladies apparel, corsets," someone joked as the cow ambled away.
"Well," said Sgt. Cunningham, "maybe one of these days we'll be out on an operation and there'll be a water buffalo blocking our path. It just could be that she'd remember us and save us a lot of aggravation by just moving out of the way."
. . . And Wallow
Recently 3rd Brigade announced that it had enough armored vehicles to fill a football field if they were parked side by side and end to end.
Last week, men of 1st Brigade discovered that the Viet Cong also have quite an armor capability - of sorts.
Wading through the rice paddies on a search-and-clear mission, men from 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry, cautiously approached a wooded hedgerow. After checking for booby traps, the point man of the patrol suddenly stopped cold as he was picking his way through to the next paddy.
Lined up in battle formation was an entire company of "VC armor," poised to attack the advancing infantry as soon as the soldiers emerged into the clearing.
The almost armor was a herd of Vietnamese bulls and they were all quite put out by the noise of constant artillery and small arms fire in the area. Most of then had a healthy set of horns. One was not tied up.
The loose bull spotted the point man and the chase was on. The soldier was well trained in hand-to-hand combat, but man-to-bull fighting was different. Missing on the first charge, the bull came around again and caught the trooper head on.
Enough was enough - this beast definitely wasn't a "friendly". The platoon, now coming into the field, avoided the animal as it prepared to charge again.
Assisting its buddy to his feet "his pride had been seriously injured" the patrol continued its search, walking gingerly past the other incensed - but leashed - bulls.
Later at the patrol debriefing the matter of the "new" VC capability was discussed.
While a few of the men felt that the bulls were simply farm animals belonging to friendly local people, the thought that the bulls were especially trained guerrillas placed by the VC to harass the U.S. forces in the area was voiced by the majority, especially one man with a very sore pride.
|BLAST OFF - Captain Daniel R. Leonard is dwarfed by the 35-foot aviation water rocket on Cu Chi Launch Pad Number One. (Photo by Park)
25th Avn. Shower Is New "Way Of Life"
There are 50-gallon drums and five-gallon cans. There are urns and there are rude tubs. Showers all.
And then there is Cu Chi Launch Pad Number One, which is more a way of life at 25th Aviation Battalion than a mere shower.
Looking askance at their old Water system, the aviators decided it was time to introduce a little more sophistication to their body-cleaning, whisker-removing process and they worked day and night for more than six weeks to get it.
The Launch Pad, looking not unlike a confused bomb, is a retired airplane wing fuel tank, standing on end, towering 35 feet in the air. The watery storehouse for the battalion's Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, the tank contains 425 gallons of Clean.
Five times a day, a tiny, gasoline engine-driven pump sucks water from a 40-foot-deep well, which is lined with steel casing and filled with hand-crushed granite gravel to filter the water. At the bottom stands 1,500 gallons of free water.
For their effort, the men of the detachment now have running water in front of every other hut, as well as all the water they can use to shower with in their newly completed shower room.
Captain Daniel R. Leonard, of Honolulu, Hawaii, says, "The water pressure coming out of the shower is almost strong enough to scratch your back."
Capt. Leonard, the detachment commander, credits the whole installation to the unit's former first sergeant, Billy G. Hicks, who first suggested the well and underground pipe complex that has blossomed into one of the best makeshift water systems at Cu Chi.
The pipes were buried for esthetic reasons, but it was a back-breaking chore to bury more than 500 feet of pipe. Now the men can afford to laugh it off as an attempt to prevent freezing.
Cu Chi Shuttle Bus System Operating
Cu Chi now has a shuttle bus.
The Aloha Transit, Far East Route bus, operated by the 25th Supply and Transportation Battalion begins operation at 9 a.m. daily and runs continuously until midnight.
The bus makes 28 stops, including the various battalions, the Ilikai East service club and the hospital. The entire circuit takes about one hour.
The addition of the bus service is expected to ease the division's critical transportation problem.
Women V.C. Snipe At GIs
The American soldier may have affection for his girl friend, fiancée, wife, sister, mother, etc., but he has little for the female sniper in Vietnam's treelines.
During Operation "Fort Smith," a recent search-and-destroy mission, a company began receiving sniper fire.
As the snipers fled their positions, they were observed to be women, although none was captured.
It appears that now there are "Charlenes" as well as "Charlies" to contend with.
Youth Finds "Fire Inna Ho"
"Fire in the hole" Sergeant Jerry Whitehead, Tallahasse, Tenn., yelled his warning at least 86 times while on a recent operation six miles southwest of Cu Chi.
Sgt. Whitehead, a 21-year-old team leader with the reconnaissance platoon of the 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry, yells the warning before blowing up booby-trapped hand grenades and "dud" mortar rounds found in the area of operation.
Most of the explosives remain from an Army, Republic of Vietnam (ARVN), Ranger outpost overrun in December 1965. All but a few were found by Vietnamese children in the area, responding to the American soldiers' offer of rewards for such information.
"About a week and a half ago I was securing the road here when a Vietnamese boy came up and pointed toward a field," said Sgt. Whitehead. "I followed, and sure enough there was a grenade. I gave the kid a cigarette and ever since it's like an Easter egg hunt but now we give them C-rations."
Meanwhile, Sgt. Whitehead put another charge on an explosive and ran without giving his warning. He didn't have to.
"Hey GI," a young boy yelled, "fire inna ho."
Page 4 - 5 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS July 8, 1966
Daring Men In Their Flying Machines
The division motto, "Ready to Strike - Anywhere, Anytime," also stands for
the mobility, speed and shock power provided by 25th Aviation Battalion,
commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Edward P. Davis, of Warren, Ark.
It takes extensive planning and coordination to enable division soldiers to move faster and hit harder than ever before.
Before the "slick" (troop-carrying helicopter) touches down in the landing zone (LZ), much discussion and many conferences have taken place.
With the pace of operations never slowing, several heli-lifts are in some stage of planning at any given moment. When the operations order is received from division headquarters, the aviation battalion operations officer, Major Charles R. Standidge, of El Paso, Tex., coordinates with his counterpart in one of the infantry brigades to arrange dates, time of lifts and units of the brigade to be lifted.
One or two days before the planned lift, an aviation battalion liaison team contacts the platoon, company or battalion to be lifted to determine the number of spaces needed, exact locations of pick-up and landing zones and fire support coordination.
Finally, with all details assembled, the aviation operations order is written.
Company A, the "Little Bear" of 25th Aviation, is directed to provide the necessary number of slicks for the lift. Major Ernest C. Elliott, of Florence, S.C., the company commander, has a fleet of UH-1D "Huey" helicopters to draw from. When large lifts require additional choppers, requests for support are submitted to higher headquarters.
Armed helicopter "gun ship" support comes from Company B, commanded by Major James R. Vance. Most of his aircraft are equipped with dual rocket pods, with seven rockets each and "double-barreled" machine guns. In addition, the door gunners use machine guns. The other choppers carry grenade launchers and door guns.
Depending upon the resistance expected in the landing zone and the size of the heli-lift, "light" or "heavy" fire teams are assigned from B Co.'s "Diamond Head" aircraft. The light fire teams consist of rocket-equipped choppers while the heavy team has an additional, grenade-equipped Huey.
As late as an hour prior to the assault, the aircraft commanders and flight leaders are gathered for a briefing on the lift. The timing, routes, no-fire zones, condition of landing and pickup zones are discussed in detail, as are radio frequencies and call signals.
First to take off are the gun ships. They are followed by the command and control (C&C) ship, the slicks and finally, the maintenance chopper.
The gun ships and C&C craft move in advance of the choppers to reconnoiter the proposed landing zones and make final adjustments in the plan.
Aboard the C&C ship are the commander of the unit to be lifted into battle, and air and artillery liaison officers. Extra radios installed in the special ship enable the commander to talk to his ground units and the air and artillery controllers to direct supporting tactical Air Force or artillery fire.
The maintenance ship flies high above, and to the rear of, each flight. Should any of the other Hueys be downed the machine guns mounted aboard the trailing ship offer protection for the damaged aircraft. When gun ship support arrives, maintenance craft lands near the downed helicopter. If the downed craft is beyond immediate repair, the maintenance ship helps to provide cover until a CH-47 "Chinook" can be called in to extract the ship. The maintenance ship lands only in case of trouble.
With C&C, gun ships and maintenance ships circling overhead, the slicks drop into the pickup zone. The infantrymen are waiting in groups, already assigned to aircraft. The rotors barely slacken their speed. In seconds, the men are loaded and once more the flight lifts off.
Now the gun ships move slightly ahead. The LZ can be seen from far away as clouds of smoke from the artillery and air preparation billow up. Before the smoke clears the gun ships are once more over the area, cutting loose with their rockets and grenades.
Any uninvited occupants of the LZ barely have a chance to come up for air when the flight descends. In the time it takes to blink an eye the troops are on the ground completing the assault.
The flight returns to the pickup zone as many times as needed to lift the unit into battle. Each time the procedure is the same. Overhead the C&C ship coordinates the lifts, granting return fire permission to the gun ships and giving instructions for trailing lifts to orbit if a preceding lift is tied up on the LZ.
Once all the infantry is on the ground, the choppers, return to Cu Chi. Back on the ground, fuel tanks are refilled, ammunition is replaced and maintenance is performed.
Later in the day, perhaps only minutes later, the ships will be called on again to provide resupply to the ground forces. An emergency might require an unplanned lift on little notice.
None of the pilots knows when the work will end, but the men the of division feel strongly that it will end sooner because of these pilots and their crews.
25th Inf. Div. Photos by
|"Little Bear" helicopters from Company A, 25th Aviation Battalion, lift off from pickup zone during combat assault in operation "Fresno."
|PLANNING - Major Graham C. Davis (r), operations officer for 25th Aviation Battalion's Company A, briefs a group of aviators prior to an assault lift. Observing the briefing are (from left) Major Jesse M. Burch (back turned), Major Hughey L. Weston, Major Peter P. Seaton, and Major Ernest C. Elliott (back turned).
|PREPARATION - Specialist Four Jeffrey Adams, Company B, 25th Aviation Battalion, pulls belt of 40mm grenades through M-5 grenade launcher mounted on one of company's eight "gun ships."
|AFTER THEM! - Captain Cedric L. Blackwell, an officer of Company A, 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry, leads a group of his men in an airmobile combat assault on Operation "Fresno."
|BEGINNING - "Little Bear, helicopters drop into pickup zone during combat assault.
Page 6 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS July 8, 1966
Medical Civic Action Program
2/14th Treats 350
The 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry, treated more than 350 people in a Medical Civic Action Program visit and distributed more than a ton of "Helping Hand" items in a recent operation.
Members of the 14th Infantry's medical platoon and support and administrative platoon moved into the village of An Binh, northwest of Cu Chi, to give medical aid to the ill, distribute toys to the children and clothes and food to the adults.
Before the aid station could be set up in the rear of an armored personnel carrier, people were standing in the door, waiting for treatment.
Captain Warren V. Helwig, Alexandria, Va., made himself comfortable in his small clinic and began treating the hundreds of people that had by now gathered around him.
Specialist Five Robert G. Willson, Salem, Ark., a medical technician, along with other members from the "Golden Dragons" medical platoon, treated minor cuts and bruises.
After the people were treated, they received clothes and food from the members of the support and administrative platoon. The food was provided by the mess halls and individual battalion soldiers, and the clothes and toys came from "Helping Hand."
Support and administrative platoon sergeant James D, Spitz, Hutchinson, Kan., provided clothes that he had brought from Hawaii to give to the people of Vietnam.
After lunch the team moved to An Duc. First Lieutenant Curtis V. Ebitz, Pittsburgh, Pa., in charge of civic action for the 14th, said this was one of the largest battalion civic action projects since the program began in May of this year.
Security for the operation was provided by Company A, commanded by Captain George P. McQuillan, Bethesda, Md.
"Bac Si" Bribes Kids; Toys Produce Shots
By CAPT. WILL R. GOODRICH
"Bac si, bac si," the word flashed by village grapevine for it was Saturday and time for the American MEDCAP team to arrive.
The "bac si" (doctor) had arrived and was ready to set up in the village school of Ap Phu Trung to treat the people of Ap Ben Do hamlet. No loudspeaker trucks and no leaflets were needed, for the people of Ap Ben Do had come to know the division Medical Civic Action Program.
Silently they came, down the road and across the rice paddies. Young, old, sick, curious; they came to see the "bac si". Gone were the reluctant frowns that first greeted the MEDCAP team from the 1st Battalion (Mechanized), 5th Infantry, many weeks ago. There were smiles and soft words for old friends.
"Where's my friend, the Village chief ?" asked 1st Sergeant Robert Carmack, from Atchison, Kan.
A young man stepped out from the gathered villagers, anxious to try his newly learned English, "He is gone Cu Chi, come back soon to see you."
"Well, we'll go ahead as we have a special surprise for the children," said Sgt. Carmack, the 1/5th civil affairs sergeant.
The special surprise was soon unpacked along with the a medical kits, stretchers and medicines. It was a box of many-colored, stuffed animals, a gift from the home economics class of McKinley High School, Honolulu.
As the afternoon wore on prescriptions for vitamins, aspirin, soap, penicillin shots and other medicines were joined by prescriptions for a stuffed toy animal to right the eyes of a little girl or boy. When the short afternoon ended, over 80 villagers had been seen and treated by the two doctors.
Wolfhound Visits Pass 1,000 Mark On Opn. Fresno
More than 1,000 persons have been treated by Medical Civic Action Program (MEDCAP) visits as a battalion of the 27th Infantry "Wolfhounds" moved toward the one-month mark of Operation "Fresno."
Since the start of the operation, designed to concentrate heavily on civic action, the "Wolfhounds" have conducted MEDCAPs in more than 16 hamlets.
"Helping Hand" has also aided more than 700 villagers, who have received toys, clothes and health and sanitation items.
Department of Defense makes a substantial contribution to the nation's skilled manpower pool. Some 96 per cent of enlisted personnel and 84 per cent of officers retire in time to pursue a second career.
|FAT CHANCE - Everyone at Ap Phu Trung wants a pencil, but First Sergeant Robert Carmack of Atchison, Ken., is determined to see that they are passed out in an orderly fashion. (Photo by Hanson)
Page 7 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS July 8, 1966
65th Engrs. Build Chapel
The myriad sounds of construction are quite familiar to the men of the 65th Engineer Battalion. But the crunching shovels and banging hammers heard now within their own midst are shaping something very different.
The building's radical construction immediately draws the eye from surrounding tents. One's imagination conjures up a variety of images until the rows of pews are seen nearby.
The chapel is one of the first being built at Cu Chi. A second is now under construction at 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry.
It may be coincidental that the chaplain serving both units is the same man Chaplain (Capt.) Alfred Delossa Jr., of North Bridge, Calif., known as the division's "construction chaplain."
The lack of chapels in the base camp can be attributed to the construction priority list, which numbers about 60 structures necessary to a smoothly organized camp. Permanent chapels are low on the list.
Religious services in the 65th have been held in the company mess and outdoors in the pews that were shipped to Vietnam with the battalion. Chaplain Delossa said the men felt they "ought to have a special place to worship."
The chaplain received a number of volunteers willing to work on a chapel during their free time so he went about securing materials. A fund, which now totals over $400, was established, and the chaplain took off for wherever he could obtain building materials.
So far no money has been spent on the chapel. Chaplain Delossa said that he got help from the Army, Air Force and Navy in his effort. The actual construction has been going on for three weeks, with the completion date scheduled for early August.
So far the volunteers have laid a laterite base, raised the beams and prefabricated the ceiling to be placed on the beams.
The chapel was designed around the pews already being used by the 65th from plans drawn by 2nd Lieutenant Ronald E. Heck, of Twin Falls, Idaho.
Of a modern design in keeping with an open-air effect, the chapel will be 42 by 62 feet. It will be landscaped by greenery in three foot high planters, which will surround the building, the entrance and the altar.
|WORSHIP - The pews at the right are the clue to the type of building being constructed at 65th Engineer Battalion. Materials for the chapel were donated by the Army, Air Force and Navy. The labor is being performed by volunteers from the 65th. (Photo by Park)
3/4 Cav. Gets VC Pony
Gone are the days when the cavalry took to the field mounted on their fiery steeds.
Recently, however, a moment of that history was relived when Captain W.E. Cunningham, of the Special Forces detachment at Duc Co, presented a pony to C Troop, 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry,
This is a very special pony because, prior to May 29, it was the property of a North Vietnamese colonel.
On May 28, Trp. C, under the command of Captain W. E. Duffer, was attached to 3rd Brigade's 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry, operating in an enemy-infested area north of Duc Co. Contact with the North Vietnamese was heavy, and at dark the enemy elements withdrew to the west side of the village of Plei Brens.
The following morning the cavalrymen surrounded the village and in went Capt. Cunningham and his Special Forces strike force to search the village.
During the search, the captain discovered a black pony.
Interrogation of the village chief revealed that a North Vietnamese Army ( NVA ) colonel had left the pony, saying that the villagers were to care for it until he returned.
Realizing that the pony would make a better mascot for Capt. Duffer's cavalry troops than transportation for the NVA colonel, Capt. Cunningham confiscated the pony. In the animal's place Capt. Cunningham left a note for the colonel that the pony could be claimed by him or his friends if they would appear in person at the Duc Co Special Forces camp, Pleiku Province.
Then, thanks to a helping hand from the 52nd Aviation Battalion, the pony was helilifted to Duc Co where it made its temporary home for the next three weeks, leisurely grazing around the camp under the ever watchful eyes of the "Green Berets."
Finally, the reunion day arrived. Trp. C was once again committed to action in the Duc Co area. As the troopers rolled into Duc Co, dust clouds billowing, they were delighted to see their mascot awaiting their arrival. With the cavalry troopers and strikers cheering, the little pony passed in review for its new unit, the U.S. Cavalry.
There has been no word from the upstaged NVA colonel.
|HEY, HOSS ! - Specialist Four James H. Nail Jr., Duck Hill, Miss., a member of Troop C, 3rd Squadron. 4th Cavalry, at 3rd Brigade rides the troop's mascot after picking up the mail. (Photo by Sutphin)
4/9th Hit, Recovers
Four of the five men in the patrol were wounded; the fifth a machine-gunner, was making the Viet Cong wish they had never started the ambush in the first place. But this was no time to wish it hadn't started. The bullets were coming in fast and furious; the enemy had the jump on them.
It all started when the first platoon of Company B, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry, was conducting a search-and-destroy operation just outside Cu Chi.
In the early morning hours, they set up their command post (CP) about 2,000 yards from the base camp perimeter.
Two squads of the platoon were to sweep a pre-designated area, while the balance of the platoon was to remain at the CP as a reactionary force. One of the squads split into two, five-man fire teams, and the groups set out.
The first half of the sweep saw only light contact, but yielded one enemy casualty. The team proceeded further. Two suspects were spotted and captured. Returning to the CP the seven-man unit passed within ten yards of a VC-infested trench and spider hole network.
As in any well-planned ambush, the Viet Cong waited until the last possible moment before they opened fire. This tactic proved difficult for the 4/9th but was much harder on the V.C.
Rather than accept defeat, the Americans, many of them wounded, aggressively charged the surprised VC.
The radio telephone operator, although wounded, managed to radio that the team had been hit. That was enough for the rest of the squad. They knew their comrades position and lost no time coming to their aid. The fighting continued.
In the end, nine V.C. lay dead.
25th, ARVN Assault Ho Bo Woods
A multi-company force of Vietnamese soldiers took part in a heliborne assault conducted by the division recently in Ho Bo Woods.
Units of the 3rd Battalion, 49th Regiment, 25th Infantry Division (Vietnamese), were airlifted by the U.S. 25th Aviation Battalion. They had worked in close coordination with American units already in the Ho Bo Woods.
Ho Bo Woods, long a VC stronghold, has come under increasing pressure in recent weeks from division units. The operation is another in a series of search-and-clear missions designed to return the disputed area to friendly control.
The air lift was accompanied by a number of heavily armed weapons ships from the 128th Assault Helicopter Company stationed at Phu Loi, 35 miles from Cu Chi.
American military advisers, who accompanied the Vietnamese in the field, had high praise for the units, saying they were "some of the sharpest" they had seen.
|NYAHHH! - Captain Ora L. Boss (right), commanding officer, Company A, 1st Batlalion, 14th Infantry, and 1st Sergeant Yashiiwa Nagato, tack up a sign indicating two (in Roman numerals) VC "met their maker." The company has taken to advertising its presence through such signs - much to the VC's chagrin. (Photo by Blue)
Page 8 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS July 8, 1966
A weekly summary of major Army actions in the Republic of Vietnam compiled by Army News Features from Department of Defense published Official MACV Communiques.
June 23 through June 29, 1966
1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) - (See 101st Airborne Division account of
1st Cav. participation in Operation Nathan Hale.)
At Cu Chi
Fuel Tanker Catches Fire
A 1,200-gallon tanker caught fire recently in the fuel storage yard at the division base camp.
The truck, driven by Specialist Four Donald Shatto, Claremore, Okla, a member of Company A, 25th Aviation Battalion, caught fire as he started the engine while preparing to leave with a full load of JP4 jet fuel.
The cause of the blaze has not yet been officially determined, although it is thought that overflow plugs leaked a small amount of fuel onto the exhaust pipe, causing it to ignite.
Second Lieutenant David C. Whitcomb, of St. Paul, Minn., officer in charge of the fueling area, said the fire raged for a half hour.
"The truck just finished fueling from a 10,000-gallon, collapsible tank when the fire started," he said. "If that tank had blown it could have caused a chain reaction, igniting all the other tanks in the area. Six, 15-pound fire extinguishers were emptied in an attempt to put out the blaze before a fire truck arrived a few minutes after the fire started."
All tank truck drivers closed the hatches of their vehicles and left the vicinity of the fire. Road blocks were set up on Taro Road, where the fuel yard is located.
PFCs Woodrow Barr, of New York City, and Samuel Stoles, of Pine Hill, Ala., stayed behind in a vain attempt to quell the blaze before the fire truck arrived.
After the fire was brought under control, a wrecker towed the smoldering truck to a secluded area and a 5,000 gallon water trailer was sent to cool the vehicle.
|Major General Fred C. Weyand, division commander, presents a captured Chinese sub-machine gun to Air Force Lieutenant General Joseph H. Moore, (former 7th Air Force commander, during General Moore's farewell visit to Cu Chi. (Photo by Park)
The 'Air-Born' Pets
Pets in Vietnam are not unusual, but few units have pets that are "air-born."
A Company, 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry, boasts of one born in a helicopter between landing zones (LZ) during a company move.
PFC Charles E. Carlisle, of Collinsville, Okla., is the man who made the fowl presentation of a hen and her four chicks to the unit.
"We were on a search-and-destroy operation at an abandoned village about a mile from the company command post, clearing everything that the VC might be able to use," Carlisle said. "One thing I picked up was a basket containing the hen sitting on a nest. Under the hen were eight eggs."
A couple of days later, en route to a new LZ by chopper, one of the eggs hatched.
"All eight finally hatched," Carlisle said. "We have only four left, though, because one night the hen was frightened by artillery fire and accidentally killed four of the babies."
"Every so often on the radio now you might hear, 'Be sure you don't forget oats for the chicks.' If the VC happened to be monitoring the transmissions, I wonder how long it would take them to figure out THAT code?" Carlisle mused.
It costs the Department of Defense $1,200 to administer basic training for one person, plus another $2,000-$12,000 for skill training. More than $2 billion, half of Defense's annual training bill, goes for enlisted personnel.
1/27th Slows VC River Traffic
Viet Cong river traffic on the Oriental River was thinned out by "Tropic Lightning" soldiers last week. One company of the 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry "Wolfhounds" destroyed 25 sampans in a Viet Cong area six miles southwest of Cu Chi.
Fifteen of the sampans were found hidden in tall reeds in the swamps, and the other ten were in sheds in the surrounding villages.
The "Wolfhounds" captured one VC and four suspects.
|GRADE A-1 - PFC Richard G. Mall, Company A, 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry, at Pleiku, pays with one of the company's pet chicks. (Photo by Blue)
The 25th Infantry Division Museum for providing the volume of 1966 Tropic Lightning News,
Ron Leonard, 25th Aviation Battalion for finding and mailing them,
Kirk Ramsey, 2nd Bn., 14th Inf. for creating this page.
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