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Vol 1 No. 36                TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                October 28, 1966



Unit                     Page Unit                    Page Unit                    Page Unit                      Page
1st Bde HHC                         7 196th Inf                               6 24th RAG                             1 3/21                                        6
1/5                                          8 196th Inf                               7 25th Inf Div Photo             2 3/50 ARVN                            1
1/8 Arty                                7 2nd Bde HHC                      7 25th S&T                             3 4/9                                           1
1/14 Photo                            6 2/1                                         8 3rd Bde                                 1 4/9                                           3
1/14                                        6 2/1                                         8 3rd Bde                                 1 4/23                                         7
1/27                                        7 2/9 Arty Photo                    4 3rd Bde Photo                     1 4/31                                         3
1/27 Photo                             8 2/14                                       1 3rd Bde                                 1 48th Scout Dog Photo         6
1/27                                        8 2/14                                        6 3rd Bde                                 4 48th Scout Dog                     6
1/30 Arty                              7 2/14                                        7 3/4 Cav                                  3 7th Surgical Photo                8
1/35 Photo                            3 2/27                                        7 3/4 Cav                                  6 Air Force                                1
1/69 Armor Photo               4 2/34 Armor Photo                7 3/4 Cav                                  7 Black Market                         2
196th Inf                               1 2/34 Armor                            7 3/21                                        1  

[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.]


Manchus, ARVNs Raise Cain in Long An

   It was a jolly good show all around and it wasn't supposed to happen.
   But it did and it proved again the complete cooperation that exists between the 4th Bn., 9th Inf., "Manchus" and the Army, Republic of Vietnam (ARVN), in Operation "Lanikai," 20 miles southwest of Saigon in Long An Province.
   It also netted the American-Vietnamese units four Viet Cong killed, one captured, three carbines, two Russian style hammer and sickle flags and a large amount of medical supplies.
   The morning of October 14 found the Manchus supported by the 24th River Assault Group and the 3rd Battalion., 50th ARVN Regt., toiling in the hot sun along the Oriental River.  Directly across the river, a Forward Air Controller (FAC) on a routine sweep spotted some VC moving across an open space.
   He circled lower and the VC took off trying in an attempt to disappear.  In his small L-19 FAC plane, Capt. Edger D. Chivers, U.S. Air Force, could make out an even dozen men.  They crossed the field and ran into a red-roofed building.
   With no weapons to do battle, the FAC yelled for help and when it came, it was more than he could believe.  First there was artillery fire as the VC fled to the safety of the building.  It didn't quite track the enemy down, but it moved them all in one place where Capt. Chivers quickly called in an air strike.
   Minutes later, two flights of U.S. A1H aircraft expended bombs, rockets and cannon fire on the suspected Viet Cong hiding place.  The building with the VC in it was on fire and immediately thereafter artillery fire began to drop in the area again.
   Along with the air strikes and artillery came the helicopters from the division's base camp at Cu Chi with one platoon of the recon company, 50th ARVN Regiment.  The 40 Vietnamese soldiers were placed near the burning structure and immediately drew fire from their flanks.
   The Vietnamese troops hurriedly gained their objective and radioed back the first results.  They had discovered one Viet Cong killed in an enemy aid station, complete with large stocks of medical supplies.
   Grabbing up their prizes, the Vietnamese recon group made their way to a bunker nearby which had been hill hard by the air strikes.  Inside they discovered three more bodies and took a prisoner.
   Along with the haul, the men gathered up three carbines, numerous documents, two Communist flags and a set of unidentified Vietnamese dog tags.
   During all this, the FAC noticed a Viet Cong body in the canal near the burning building and a wounded VC struggling to get away on the road.
   Gunships immediately received enemy fire.  One wounded VC got up and ran off the road trying to camouflage himself.  The choppers gave out with a long burst of machine gun fire and climbed back upstairs.  The Viet Cong were making it extremely hot down there with automatic weapons fire from along the road and in the paddies to the right.
   Following a brief fire fight between the choppers and the VC on the ground, the American advisors with the Vietnamese recon platoon, Capt. Lee J. Weeks and Sgt. Kenneth A. Lemke called in to be extracted.  Their portion of the operation was over and the hours of daylight left were getting fewer.
   Flying overhead, Capt. Chivers banked his FAC plane and came up with another big surprise for everyone.  Lying along the canal still further north of the action area was a series of camouflaged buildings and bunkers.
   Soon, fast flying U.S. Air Force jet fighter-bombers arrived.  The FAC fired target rockets, banked away and left.
   As he flew hone, he radioed in a short report of action to Col, Booth.  Capt. Chivers in turn found out everything that had happened on the ground and when he was told the number of VC killed he replied, "Good show."
   Operations radioed, "Rogar, really good show by you.  Over and out."


3rd Bde. Has New Cmdr. - And Record


Mark for Sustained Combat Shattered

   The 3rd Brigade Task Force set a United States Army record for the number of days in sustained combat last week by slipping past the old mark of 165 days during Operation "Paul Revere."
   Paul Revere went into its 166th day of sustained operation October 23 in the central highlands around Pleiku.
   The operation began May 10 under the direction and command of Brig. Gen. Glenn D. Walker, now assistant commander of the 4th Infantry Division.
   Col. James G. Shanahan, the new brigade commander who took over as Paul Revere entered phase four, served with the 25th Infantry Division when the 25th set the old mark in World War II during the liberation of the Philippines.
   Operation Paul Revere has accounted for more than 1000 enemy killed.  Hundreds of small arms, automatic and crew-served weapons and thousands of rounds of various caliber ammunition have been captured.  Tons of rice and other food products as well as medical supplies have also been denied the enemy.
   The 3rd Brigade has been used to maintain surveillance along the Cambodian border and destroy possible crossing sites.  This has both disrupted and prevented the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) from conducting major combat efforts in the central highlands.
(See Pictures, pages 4&5)


Col. Shanahan Replaces Gen. Walker

   Col. James G Shanahan of Syracuse, N.Y., assumed command of the 3rd Brigade Task Force in change-of-command ceremonies October 20 at Pleiku.
   Col. Shanahan replaces Brig. Gen. Glenn D. Walker, who departed to assume the position of Assistant Division Commander of the 4th Infantry Division.
   Col. Shanahan joined the 3rd Brigade September 1 and served as deputy commander prior to assuming command.  Prior to his assignment to the 3rd Brigade Task Force, he was Deputy Chief of Staff of I Field Forces, Vietnam.
   He previously served with the "Tropic Lightning" division in the Pacific Theater from 1944 to 1947, during which time he was platoon leader, a company commander, an assistant S-4 (supply) and an assistant S-3 (operations) of the 25th Infantry Regiment.
   While assigned to the 35th Infantry, he participated in the Luzon and Northern Solomons campaigns at which time the 25th set an Army record for the longest time in the field under sustained combat operations.  That record was broken by the 3rd Brigade last week on Operation "Paul Revere."
   Col. Shanahan received his U.S. Army Reserve commission in May 1942 and his regular Army commission in 1946.
   His decorations include the Silver Star, Legion of Merit, four Bronze Stars for Valor, two bronze Stars for merit, Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Purple Heart and the Combat Infantryman's Badge with Star.

CHANGE - Brig. Gen. Glenn D. Walker hands the flag of 3rd Brigade Task Force to new commander, Col. James G. Shanahan, in ceremonies at Pleiku. BG Glenn Walker hands flag to Col. James Shanahan



3/21st Rescues Civilian Irregulars In 'Black Virgin' Mountain Battle
By Lt. Frank Lawson

   Nui Ba Den, "The Black Virgin," towers 3,232 feet above the grassy plains of Tay Ninh Province, 65 miles northwest of Saigon.  For years this majestic peak has been shared by VC and allied forces.  A U.S. signal site and special forces camp are on top.  The VC are at the bottom.
   In a recent search-and-destroy operation on the mountain, elements of the 196th Light Infantry Brigade's 3rd Bn., 21st Inf, supported five companies of the Civilian Irregular Defense Group (CIDG) on a sweep to clear the enemy from their dug-in positions on the western slope.
   Air strikes and brigade artillery pounded the enemy positions continuously for an hour before two CIDG companies moved out to assault the mountain fortress.
   Progress was slow and soon exhaustion took its toll on the game, but tired CIDG troops.  Orders came forward to abort the mission and return to the base of the mountain.
   One CIDG company began its slow descent of the mountain.  Unknowingly, they were heading into an enemy trap.  As the company reached a small clearing, the VC opened up with a murderous barrage of automatic and small arms fire.  Surprised, the CIDG hit the dirt and returned the fire as enemy grenades rained in all around them.
   Capt.. Russell DeVries, commander of the 21st Infantry's Co. C, was monitoring the radio net and could hear the fire fight on the mountain.  He ordered his company to set up a blocking position to assist in the withdrawal of the CIDG force.
   2nd Lt. Gregg Mikesell, 3rd platoon leader, was the first to come upon the CIDG.  Without hesitation he charged forward with four of his men, and with fire pouring in from all sides, carried the wounded to safety.
   While the 3rd and 4th platoons set up their blocking positions, the 1st and 2nd platoons secured a landing zone to evacuate the wounded.
   After all casualties were evacuated, Capt. DeVries withdrew his men from their blocking positions.  As the company pulled out the enemy fire intensified.  Fire rained in from all directions, momentarily pinning down the two platoons.
   Capt. Moylan S. Chew, battalion operations officer, recalls, "As Capt. DeVries left his position, an enemy soldier let loose with a burst of automatic fire, peppering the ground behind him.  I thought sure he was going to get hit.  I couldn't see the enemy but apparently he could see me because I felt two bullets whistle past my neck.  I hit the ground and fired a burst in the direction of the sounds hoping to keep him from firing at Capt. DeVries."
   At the same time 30 yards away, one soldier was wounded in the arm by VC fire.  As he fell to the ground, he emptied his magazine into the chest of his attacker, killing him on the spot.
   As the enemy melted back into their jungle hiding places, Capt. DeVries regrouped his company and moved his men overland.
   Today, "Charlie" knows he is no longer alone in his mountain sanctuary.


Gen. Walker Departs

   Brig. Gen. Glenn D. Walker leaves the 3rd Brigade Task Force to become deputy commander of the 4th Infantry Division at Pleiku.
   Gen. Walker was the 25th Infantry Assistant Division Commander-Maneuver in Hawaii prior to his arrival in Vietnam in February, 1966.  He took command of the 3rd Brigade in April.


196th Finds Large Cache

   The 196th Light Infantry Brigade's 2nd Bn., 1st Inf., recently scored one of its first big successes near Tay Ninh when it found and evacuated more than 75 tons of Viet Cong rice and 4750 pounds of salt.
   An additional 15 tons of contaminated VC rice was destroyed.
   The operation was a follow-up to Operation "Kamuela," conducted earlier by the division's 2nd Bn., 14th Inf.
   The 196th troops were aided by Army, Republic of Vietnam, (ARVN) soldiers who were called in to haul the rice out of the Boi Loi Woods some 25 miles from the 196th's base camp.


Latest Reports
Through October 26

Operation Province Began FC KIA VCC VCS
Lanikai Long An Sept. 15 L 22 2 32
Attleboro Tay Ninh Sept. 14 L 5 2 0
Paul Rev IV Pleiku Oct. 18 L 55 10 12



Page 2                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           October 28, 1966



1st Sgt. William W. Jones, HHC, 2nd Bn., 35th Inf.
PSgt. Hobart E. Crookhan, Co. B, 2nd Bn., 35th Inf.
SSgt. Clarence A. Ballard, HHC, 2nd Bn., 35th Inf.
SSgt. Earnest M. Lambert, Co. B, 2nd Bn., 35th Inf.
Sgt. Carl O. Johnson, Co. B, 2nd Bn., 35th Inf.
PFC Albert E. Ortiz, HHC, 2nd Bn., 35th Inf.
Lt. Col. Philip Feir, HHC, 2nd Bn., 35th Inf.
1st Lt. Raymond G. Pollard III, Co. B, 2nd Bn., 35th Inf.
SSgt. Troy G. Brown, Co. B, 2nd Bn., 35th Inf.
SSgt. Earsel G. Willey, HHC, 2nd Bn., 35th Inf.
Sgt. Freddy L. Centers, HHC, 2nd Bn., 35th Inf.
Sgt. Troy G. Brown, Co. B, 2nd Bn., 35th Inf.
Sp4 Otto J. Caudle, Co. B, 2nd Bn., 35th Inf.
Sp4 Thomas P. Coleman, Co. B, 2nd Bn., 35th Inf.
Sp4 Richard J. Cross, Co. B, 2nd Bn., 35th Inf.
Sp4 Raymond W. Kudar, Co. B, 2nd Bn., 35th Inf.
Sp4 Robert W. McCaulley, HHC, 2nd Bn., 35th Inf.
Sp4 Lloyd M. McKenzie Jr., HHC, 2nd Bn., 35th Inf.
PFC Larry G. Murray, HHC, 2nd Bn., 35th Inf.
PFC Charles L. Simmons, HHC, 2nd Bn., 35th Inf.
PFC Dwayne A. Wilson, Co. B, 2nd Bn., 35th Inf.
Capt. Paul R. Stalker, D Trp., 3rd Sqdn., 4th Cav.
Sgt. David H. Shields, A Trp., 3rd Sqdn., 4th Cav.
Sp4 William L. Alhinger, A Trp., 3rd Sqdn., 4th Cav.
Sp4 George A. Robacker, A Trp., 3rd Sqdn., 4th Cav.
PFC Robert Daughtry, Co. B, 2nd Bn., 14th Inf.
PFC Chalmers McElroy, A Trp., 3rd Sqdn., 4th Cav.
PFC William F. Tate, Co. A, Ist Bn. (Mech), 5th Inf.
PFC James O. Toles, Co. B, 2n4 Bn., 14th Inf.



Officers Get Word on Possible Tour Extensions in Vietnam

   Headquarters, Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, (MACV) has published guidance on the selection of officers for retention in the command beyond one year.  Primarily affected are officers who are or may be assigned to advisory positions.
   Officers selected will be extended for tours up to 18 or 24 months.  Both commissioned and warrant officers will be considered for selection.
   The new MACV Directive, Retention of Selected Officers Beyond Normal Tour, dated October 3, 1966, applies to officers of all services who are assigned to Headquarters, MACV and to the advisory groups.
   The directive states that "the retention of experienced or uniquely qualified officers beyond the normal tour in Vietnam is considered essential for the effective accomplishment of currently assigned or future missions of USMACV."
   Commanders and staff chiefs at each level of command may evaluate officer performance and recommend for selection or retention those who have performed outstandingly, demonstrated the potential for greater responsibility or have critical skills.
   MACV J1 advises that the bill now before Congress to grant 30 days free leave to personnel who extend their Vietnam tours has also been approved.

MG Fred Weyand, Gen. W.C. Westmoreland PRESENTS - Maj. Gen. Fred C. Weyand, division commander, presents Gen. W. C. Westmoreland, Commander U.S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, with a special copy of the 25th Infantry Division's silver anniversary yearbook.



Accidentless Advice

   Accident free driving is not only possible, it is imperative, especially here in Vietnam.  However, the ultimate goal lies with the military vehicle driver and his supervisors.  How can we accomplish this goal?  Accidents, for the majority, can be prevented if the proper safety attitude is developed.
   What do we mean by proper safety attitude? We all know attitude is a position we assume to serve a purpose.  The idea will come across when a few improper safety attitudes are discussed.   The following incidents are true, only the names have been changed.
   How many times did you hear the expression, "It can't happen to me."  Well brother, if you think it can't happen to you, you're sadly mistaken.  The following example proves it can happen to you.  Impatient.  Sp4 Sam Sorry Bout That is one of these poor souls.
   On a bright, sunny, August morning, Sam was guiding a 2 1/2 ton truck, in the process of backing out of a laterite pit.  Standing on the driver's side of the truck, he proceeded to direct the driver out of the pit.  The truck moved only a few feet when an awesome scream rang out.  Sam immediately stopped the driver from proceeding and ran to the rear of the truck.  There lay a small Vietnamese boy suffering from a severe head injury, which latter proved fatal.  If someone had only checked the rear of the vehicle this accident would have been prevented.
   Did you ever find yourself taking this improper attitude, "I'm bigger than you are - move over"?  This attitude usually ends in tragedy, as in the case of Sp4 Tom McBully.
   Tom was driving a five-ton tractor, pulling a 25-ton lowbed trailer loaded with a dozer, south on Highway 1.  While enroute, he encountered a slight turn to the right.  Upon completing the turn, he noticed two ARVN dump trucks pulled off to the left hand side of the road and a Vespa pulled off on the right side.  Without thinking, Tom attempted to go between the vehicles.  However, the back end of the Vespa was out too far.  A part of the dozer struck the roof post on the Vespa, shoving it off the highway and into the rice paddy.  The results of this accident: two Vietnamese killed, one injured.
   Would you like to have an accident like these on your conscience?


RVN to Mark Diem's Ouster

   South Vietnam will celebrate National Day next Tuesday.  The day will be a holiday observed with parades and other festivities throughout the country.
   Plans for National Day include a big parade in which units of the Armed Forces, the Regional and Popular Forces, the National Police, the Revolutionary Development cadres and other organizations will participate.
   Public entertainment programs, including sports, games, fireworks, torchlight processions and musical programs, are scheduled for the capital and provinces.
   November 1 marks the third anniversary of the downfall of the Diem regime, overthrown by a military coup in 1963.


Best Tip on Black Market - Avoid It Like The Plague

   (Editor's note: This is the last in a series on authorized currency and the black market in Vietnam).
   Q: Can I write checks here, on my Stateside bank?
   A: Yes.  Personal checks are accepted by PX's, military clothing sales stores, the commissary, and the military clubs and messes.  Also, personal checks may be cashed by PX's, for up to $50.
   Q: Can I use travelers' checks here?
   A: No, because you are required to convert all dollar negotiable instruments upon entry into the country.  So you can "use" them only upon arrival.
   Q: If I'm caught in some improper money deal, what happens?
   A: First, when you say improper you should say "illegal."  And under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, a great deal can happen to you.  This command has already courtmartialed several persons for illegal money transactions.  Two examples of sentencing after conviction: two men received 10 months confinement at hard labor, total forfeiture of pay, and a dishonorable discharge.  A third man was sentenced to dismissal from the Service, two years confinement at hard labor and payment of a $300 fine.  MACV and all subordinate commands have been cracking down on black market and illegal currency conversion operations.


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 Saigon Daily News.

Maj. Gen. Fred C. Weyand . . . . Commanding General
Maj. William C. Shepard . . . . . . Information Officer
1st Lt. William H. Seely III  . . . . Officer-in-Charge
Sp4 David L. Kleinberg . . . . . . . Editor
Sp4 Adrian E. Wecer  . . . . . . . . Editorial Assistant



Page 3                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           October 28, 1966


Ex-VC Leads Manchus to Big Finds


'Schmedly' Helps 4/9th In Long An Province

   The men of the division's 4th Bn., 9th Inf, "Manchu" just call him "Schmedly."
   To them be is a wonderful little fellow who has given them a chance to confiscate many precious VC supplies and chase the Viet Cong out of Long An Province.
   Schmedly used to be Viet Cong district squad leader in Can Duoc District, Long An Province.  He also dabbled in supply liaison.
   One day toward the end of September, Schmedly walked into Vietnamese government control and said he was tired of fighting.  He had heard about the Americans and wanted to take advantage of their leaflet offer, a new life.
   After a great deal of talking and questioning, Schmedly was linked up with the Manchus.  Working swiftly and with complete coordination, the joint American-Vietnamese pacification Operation "Lanikai," swung into action, acting on Schmedly's information.
   With Schmedly in the lead, Co. B struck in the early dawn almost on top of Schmedly's house.  Inside they found and evacuated his wife and four children.  Then, wearing a set of U.S. jungle fatigues with the nametag "Jones," Schmedly showed Co. B his caches.  But the VC had been there already; the large earthen jugs were still buried in the ground, but they were empty.
   Not easily discouraged Schmedly the following day took Co. C to another area where the unit scored big.  Included in their haul were mortars, rifles, ammunition, sub-machine guns, mines and grenades.  The men of Co. C teamed up with armed helicopters and accounted for 14 Viet Cong killed that day.
   Schmedly now had something to crow about but he wasn't finished by a long shot.  He dug back in his memory and brought up places he had been in the area.  These weren't spots he worked at but liaison stops where ammunition and weapons were passed along.
   Schmedly was now dealing from the bottom of the deck.  He not only wanted his immediate friends taken care of, but some distant relatives to boot.
   So the Manchus cranked up another operation, this time with Co. C, 3rd Bn., 50th Army, Republic of Vietnam, (ARVN) Regt. and the 24th Vietnamese River Assault Group.  The combined group functioned like well oiled machinery and sailed unhindered up to the VC supply base.  Schmedly was right in front, proudly leading his new friends.
   And he scored again; for in the house Schmedly took them to, the men of Co. C found large quantities of ammunition and mines.
   Co. C gave all the credit to Schmedly on this one for without him they said they never would have suspected a cache.  The munitions were buried in a jug covered by a hat.  Another large portion was found when the roof of the house was pried up.
   This is not all the Manchus learned from Schmedly.  He told them how the VC operate, how they move and where their supplies come from.
   Now the Vietnamese are showing Schmedly how to become a useful citizen of his country.  He is taking re-education training in a Chieu Hoi camp and will soon be provided a new home.
   Schmedly's reward for being a returnee amounted to 16,000 piasters paid already and another 24,000 piasters on the way.  He was presented the money by the Province Chief, Lt. Col. Nguyen Van Nguu.  Lt. Col. Shepherd A. Booth, the Manchu commander, gave Schmedly a certificate of appreciation.  And Schmedly, he just blushed and didn't say much.


196th Unit Makes Big Arms Catch

   In a battalion-size operation eight miles west of Tay Ninh, elements of the 196th Light Infantry Brigade killed two Viet Cong and captured a huge cache of arms, equipment and supplies.
   Operating in dense jungle, the "Polar Bears" of the 4th Bn., 31st Inf., uncovered a total of 5000 pounds of rice.  They also uncovered a 300-foot multi-layer tunnel, the largest tunnel complex yet found by the brigade.
   It had evidence of occupancy within 48 minutes of the unit's arrival.  Found in the tunnel were cooking and eating utensils and fresh leaves.
   The Polar Bears also captured 13 2.75mm rounds of ammunition, mortar rounds, one rifle, two grenade launchers, 250 rounds of .45 caliber ammunition, 312 rounds of 7.62 ammunition, 45 rounds of .30 caliber ammunition and one typewriter.

FIRING - A mortar section from the weapons platoon of HHC, 1st Bn., 35th Inf., a part of the 3rd Brigade Task Force, fire saturation into a landing zone for the battalion's recon platoon.  (Photo by Sp5 Dennis P. Martens) Mortar fire



Rifle Team Destroys V.C. Med Supplies

   Five bags of rice spotted on a rice paddy dike led to the destruction of Viet Cong medical supplies by the Aero Rifle Team, D Trp., 3rd Sqdn., 4th Cav.
   Spotting the bags of rice from the air, the rifle platoon landed to investigate.  After a quick search, it discovered the cleverly camouflaged VC aid stations in two different groups of trees about 190 yards apart.
   Although it made no contact the team did find eight medical first aid kits, eight tunnel head lamps, one rifle, two VC flags and miscellaneous documents.
   Returning the following morning, the rifle team destroyed the aid stations with explosives.  While sweeping the area for a third station, D Trp. encountered two VC hiding in heavy underbrush.
   Both surrendered without a fight.


No Housing

   There is no further housing available for dependents of absent sponsors at Pittsburgh, Pa., and Fort Riley, Kan.


S&T EM Club Lacks Only Bunnies

   The new enlisted men's club of the 25th Supply and Transportation Bn. has about everything but Playboy bunnies.  And they almost have those.
   When Capt. Edward Bahniuk, HHC, commander of the 25th S&T, was put in charge of the project, he sent off a letter to Playboy`s Hugh Hefner, asking for suggestions on how to decorate the club.  He got good results.
   A few weeks later, a 40-pound box arrived from Chicago.  It contained 18 pictures of playmates suitable for framing, an oil painting, several large bunny decorations, several dozen bunny balloons and several hundred yards of trimming paper, also in the traditional playboy design.
          Hong Kong
   Another letter was shot off to Hong Kong.  It located a pizza oven.  Since the battalion numbered among its members a professional pizza chef, Capt. Balhniuk purchased the oven and had it shipped immediately.  A few more letters uncovered a wholesaler in California who agreed to ship supplies to the club regularly.
   Then a popcorn machine was ordered from Singapore and a juke box and two pinball machines were brought from Saigon.  Arrangements were made with another California firm to send the top 20 records to the club every month.
   It all started in August when the men decided they had outgrown their beverage concession stand.  It was nice to be able to buy a cold drink but there was no place to go afterwards to relax.
   About that time the battalion moved from its old mess ball, a building constructed mostly of accumulated ships' dunnage, to its new brick mess hall.  The old building was immediately earmarked for the new EM club.
   With the profits from the beverage fund and $500 donated by the men, Capt. Bahniuk set out to build the best EM club in Vietnam.
   SSgt. James Woolridge Jr., and Sp4 Daniel Daniels became the chief carpenters for the project, but everyone helped in the building in one way or another.
   Then the big day came.  Lt. Col. William Kittrell, battalion commander, opened the club and welcomed its first guests, Col. Thomas W. Mellen, division chief of staff and Col. Herbert S. Lowe, commander, Division Support Command.
   The men took seats around the stage in the front of the club.  The lights dimmed and Capt. Bahniuk came on the stage to announce Gene Roman and Devvy Davenport, "The Love Bugs", the first in a series of state-side shows to be presented at the club every Saturday.
   As the men of the 25th S&T relaxed in their club, listening to Devvy Davenport as she sang a "good ole country song," everyone agreed they were sitting in the "best EM Club in Viet Nam."  Even if bunnies were not there.


Page 4 - 5                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           October 28, 1966


[This issue of Tropic Lightning News was scanned from a bound library volume provided by the 25th Infantry Division Museum.  Two of the photographs and captions on pages 4 and 5 are missing.   They were printed across the center of the 2-page-wide sheet and hidden from sight because of the way the paper is bound into the book - the book could not be safely opened wide enough to see that part of the page.]

Step by Step: 3rd Bde. Sets Record for Sustained Combat


Photos by Sp4 Dale Sutphin


In the field

WORK - The 2nd Plt., Co. C, 1st Bn., 69th Armor, works hard.


TREES - Members of the 3rd Brigade Task Force in heavy terrain.


IT'S WATERFUL - Members of the 3rd Brigade walk through central highland water. Walking in water



SUPPORT - The 105mm howitzers of 'C' Btry., 2nd Bn.. 9th Arty. fire support.



Page 6                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           October 28, 1966


VC Heavy Weapons Platoon Hit Hard By 3/4 Cavalry

   A Viet Cong heavy weapons platoon was recently trapped in their fortified position and hit hard by "Tropic Lightning" troops four miles from the division's base camp at Cu Chi.
   The 37-man company was armed with carbines, automatic weapons and communist manufactured anti-tank weapons.
   As the command track from the second platoon of A Trp., 3rd Sqdn., 4th Cav., "McKenzie's Raiders," approached, the enemy was ready and anxious to fight.
   It slowed the mechanized approach by scoring two direct hits on the command track.
   Air strikes and artillery support were called in and were credited with six VC killed.
   Companies B and C of the 2nd Bn., 14th Inf., "Battle Dragons" also participating in the sweep, moved in on both flanks of the cavalry unit and assaulted the enemy trench.
   The final tally showed six VC killed by Air Force bombing and artillery and five killed by the combined efforts of McKenzie's Raiders and the Battle Dragons.
   The Tropic Lightning unit also captured two crew-served weapon, and two carbines.


Sp4 Helps Viets With C-H-A-I-R.

   "Now repeat after me, this is C-H-A-I-R..."
   This and similar English phrases can often be heard coming from the elementary school of Cao Xa village.  This is because it now has its own English teacher, Sp4 David Reaves, a clerk-typist in HHC, 196th Light Infantry Brigade.
   Specialist Reaves was asked to be part-time teacher last September by Maj. Eduardo A. Torres, brigade civil affairs officer.
   Since then, the soldier has been spending at least one hour per class each Tuesday and Saturday afternoons, teaching the children the English equivalent of Vietnamese sentences.  He works with students in grades six through seven.

Sgt. Charles Gilmore SHORT CUT - Sgt. Charles Gilmore of Co. A, 1st Bn., 14th Inf., cuts a fellow soldier's hair utilizing his own source of electricity to operate his clippers.  The sergeant connected eight batteries to provide enough "juice" to power his electric barber clippers.  (Photo by Sp5 Dennis P. Martens)



Submerged Bridge
Gimlets Solves VC Infiltration Puzzle
By Lt. Frank Lawson

   Combat units new to the war in Vietnam learn early that "Victor Charlie" is a wily player in the age-old game of hide-and-seek.
   But the infantrymen of the 196th Light Infantry Brigade have also learned that alertness, aggressiveness and an unsated amount of curiosity can unveil some tricks used by the Viet Cong.
   Such was the case of Co. A, 3rd Bn., 21st Inf., "Gimlets," which found a submerged Viet Cong bridge across the Suoi Ba Tu tributary during a recent search-and-clear operation.
   Personally credited with the find was Capt. Emil C. Gregg the company commander.  He had been puzzled how the VC could quickly and easily escape and infiltrate across the stream which, from the monsoon rain, had swollen in some places to 10-feet deep and moving fast.  His own men had to form a human bridge to make the crossing.
   It was slow and dangerous, he realized, but it was the only method that could be employed.
   Once on the far bank, the captain's curiosity urged him to walk up and down the stream.  Suddenly, he noticed what appeared to be wheel tracks of an ox-cart. He followed the trail and it lead straight into the stream.
   Stepping into the near side of the water, his foot submerged two feet then stopped on something solid.  Cautiously he took another step forward then another, and another.
   Finally, he had crossed the entire width of the stream, literally walking on water.  The bridge, he found, was some 36 inches wide and made of bamboo.
   Although the area north of the stream revealed punji pits, tunnels, numerous booby traps, and no VC, Alpha Company feels its discovery will pay off in future operations in the area.

SMELLS OUT TRAP - Lochnivar poses with his handler PFC David C. Pelletier.  The dog recently had an important role in the springing of an ambush which resulted in four North Vietnamese Army soldiers killed. PFC David Pelletier and friend Lochnivar


'CEW' System Dogs NVA to Graveyard

   The old saying that a dog is man's best friend certainly won't be disputed by the men of Co. B, 1st Bn., 14th Inf.  Thanks to a canine early warning system, they managed to kill four enemy soldiers without taking a single casualty recently.
   One platoon from Co. B, part of the 3rd Brigade Task Force, was in a night ambush position when the word came over their radio.
   PFC David C. Pelletier told them that his scout dog, Lochnivar, had just spotted an approaching group of North Vietnamese soldiers.
   Few shots had to be fired, and when the platoon checked the area there were four enemy dead.
   PFC Pelletier and his dog are part of the 48th Scout Dog Platoon, which recently joined the brigade.
   Dragons and dogs aren't known as close friends, but the "Golden Dragons" of the 1st Bn., 14th Inf., and their scout dogs are getting along famously.


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from the 1330 spot on your AM dial.

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Page 7                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           October 28, 1966


Div. Gives Extra for Orphanage

   Three members of the 25th division last Friday provided tangible evidence that the U.S. Army never forgets its friends though many miles distant.
   SMaj. Robert E. Murphy, 1st Bn., 8th Arty; SMaj. Albert MacDonald, 2nd Bn., 27th Inf., and 1st Sgt. Samuel K. Solomon Jr., Co C, 1st Bn., 27th Inf., presented a check of $9,078 to the Holy Family Orphanage in Osaka, Japan.  The sum represented two months' contribution from the division members.
   The latest donation swells the total sum contributed by the division since 1950 to more than $500,000.
   In addition, a sizable contribution is forwarded monthly to the institution.
   The men spent several days visiting children and directors of the orphanage before returning to Vietnam.
   Members of the division remain in close touch with the children via mail, maintaining a close friendship which started in 1950 when the 27th Inf. Regt. was stationed near Osaka.
   Wolfhound contributions have helped build modern buildings and a hospital.

2/34th Armor tanks
LINING UP - M-48 tanks of Co. A, 2nd Bn., 34th Armor, enter the division's base camp.  The new armor company is now under the operational control of the 3rd Sqdn., 4th Cav.  (Photo by Sp5 Robert Williams)



'Alpha's Orphans' Find Home

   "Alpha's Orphans," Co, A, 2nd Bn., 34th Armor, has found a new home with the "Tropic Lightning" division.
   Organized in the late summer of 1941, the 34th Armor distinguished itself several times in Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace and Central Europe during World War II.
   After the war, the 34th returned to the States.  The breakout of the Korean Conflict found the 34th at Fort Chaffee, Ark., awaiting to be called into action.  But the call never came, and the armor unit remained on the mainland.
   Finally in mid-August of this year, the unit was summoned to support U.S. forces in Vietnam.  With only three weeks advance notice the three companies of the 2nd battalion began to move.
   Arriving in Vietnam less than one month later, Co. C was immediately attached to the 1st Sqdn., 4th Cav., of the 1st Infantry Division; and Co. A was placed under the operational control of the 3rd Sqdn., 4th Cav.


'Tropic Flashes' Strike

   (The Tropic Lightning News begins a new column this week, Tropic Flashes.  The column will grow over the weeks, and you can help.  Anyone with unit news is encouraged to contact the Division Information Office.)

          1st Brigade HHC
   Company personnel have been relaxing comfortably for the past two weeks since their return from the field.  Cold drinks and sweet stereo-taped music at the EM Club help the men pass their time as they wait for R&R orders or the much coveted one-way ticket home.  Specialist Joe Martinet of Longmont, Colorado, offers a touch of the Acapulco atmosphere along with some of the best drinks to be had this side of the DMZ.
   Several of the Brigade officers recently took on a group of EM in a sporting game of volleyball.  They made a good showing in the first round defeating them 21 to 13, but the youthful EM sparked by the powerful spiking arm of the 6'4" PFC Thomas E. Abel of Indianapolis, Ind., came back strong to win the series 2 out of 3.

   Last week the officers and NCO's of the 4th Bn., 23rd Inf. "Tomahawks" mixed it up in a rough but clean volleyball game.  PSgt. Earl C. Alligood, 42, of Columbus, Ga., told his men that he would gladly accept a victory as his birthday present.  They complied by putting the officers in their place (the showers) after walloping them in two games out of three.
   Most birthdays celebrated by the 4th Bn., 23rd Inf., have to make do on field experiments, but several men from Co. C managed to get together recently for a lively base camp party for PFC Joe Millbrook of Chicago, Illinois.  It was his 22nd.
   At a cost of well over 8000 piasters and untold man-hours, Co. A has finally unfurled its "Alpha Tigers" Company flag.  Visitors and their cameras are welcomed.

   PFC Mellin L. Sturgell of Co C, was recently informed by the American Red Cross that that he became the father of a baby girl on October 3.  Mother and baby are doing fine, but the new father appeared to be in need of medical evacuation upon receiving the news.
   The "Battle Dragons" newest addition to their stork club is SSgt. Billy O'Brien, Mess Steward for HHC.  SSgt. O'Brien attained his membership upon receiving the news that he was the father of an 8 1/2 lb. baby girl as of October 4.
   Further news in the battalion S-4: Capt. Tison, the former S-4, was assigned as assistant to the battalion XO in anticipation of his promotion and reassignment.
   Capt. Garry L. Patton replaced Capt. Williams as Co. B commanding officer.  Capt. Williams is now the brigade's S-2.

          2nd Brigade HHC
   Maj. Albert R. Knight Jr., former brigade adjutant, was recently promoted to the rank of Lt. Col., and is now on orders to attend the Command and General Staff course at Ft. Leavenworth, Kan.

          8rd Brigade 1/30th
   Dai Van Tam, Thanh An, District Chief, has designated the 1st Bn., 30th Arty., as the honorary battery of the province.  The ceremony, in which Capt. J. R. Picolli, battery commander, was presented a plaque in appreciation for the battery's contribution to the district, marks the first time Thanh An has awarded the position to an American unit.

          196th Lt. Inf. Bde.
   Philippine Ambassador Luis and the 1st Filipino Civic Action Group Commander, Brig. Gen. G. V. Tobias, were briefed by Lt. Col. Ho Duc Trung, provincial chief and USAID representative, Edmundo Navarao.  The party also visited Brig. Gen. Edward H. deSaussure Jr., 196th commander.



Coming Next Week In The TLN

   A new addition to the Tropic Lightning lineup will appear in this spot next week.  Cu Chi Charlie, the friendly VC, is the star of our new cartoon feature.
   Once the scourge of the 25th's Fire Brigade, Charlie saw the light (literally) when an APC caved in a bunker he was occupying.  He decided to go straight and opened a laundry in Cu Chi where he currently holds forth.
   CCC has two cousins from "up country" who will also appear from time to time.  Nguyen Van A. (pictured at left) originally from up North somewhere, is now enjoying himself in the Pleiku area.  A second cousin, Think Cong, holds down the fort at Tay Ninh.
          The Artist
   PFC John A. Fekete, 21, from the Bronx, New York, will bring Charlie and his friends to us each week.  PFC Fekete joined the division in April following his AIT training.  Serving with the security platoon in the second "Wolfhounds," he was wounded in action two times.  He became one of the division's combat artists in late August and is now busily turning out sketches and drawings of "Tropic Lightning" soldiers at work in Vietnam.
   He started drawing while in high school "just for fun" and now plans to pursue a career in art when he leaves the service.
   We hope you'll join us here each week "just for fun" as PFC Fekete portrays the life and times of "Cu Chi Charlie... the Friendly VC."
   EDITORS NOTE: Any resemblance of characters appearing in CCC to any actual persons living or dead might very well be intended.



Page 8                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           October 28, 1966


New Chapel Stands Tall at Tay Ninh

   Men of the 196th Light Infantry Brigade's 2nd Bn., 1st Inf., worshipped in their own chapel recently.  Built by men of Co. D, it is the only such chapel in the brigade.  It is used for for services of all denominations.
   The chapel has also played host to an official visitor, the Right Reverend Arnold M. Lewis, head of all Episcopal chaplains in the Armed Forces.
   The Reverend Mr. Lewis, who visited the battalion while touring the 196th's base camp at Tay Ninh, presented a service in the chapel.  He later complimented the men on their "splendid job."
   Built under the guidance of Delta Company's all-around handyman, Sgt, Arthur P. Sousa Jr., the chapel is a tent-covered wooden frame building.  At its entrance, on their side of a walkway, is a bed of daisies lined with a small white fence.
   In one of the flower beds stands a six-foot-tall cross, painted white and trimmed in bamboo.
   Although the interior lacks many of the furnishings usually found in the more permanent type chapels, its simplicity still offers much to the combat soldier in search of a house of worship.
   There is a confessional for the Catholic services, neatly arranged wooden ammunition boxes for pews, an altar with a large cross, and even a pump organ and a tape recorder for music.  Ventilation and lighting are provided by having the sides of the tent drawn up.

VC Nurse Captured

   A 17-year-old Viet Cong nurse was captured recently on an ambush patrol by the 1st Bn. (Mech), 5th Inf.
   The girl, a captain with the National Liberation Front, stood up in a rice paddy to the surprise of Sp4 David A. Troyer, 19, from Eureka, Ill., and PFC Lester Kearney, 19, from Philadelphia, Pa., both of whom stood less than 10 feet away.
   After surrendering quietly, she told the infantrymen she had served in the ranks of the NLF for seven months.
   The men had moved into the rice paddy after Capt. William Blair, Co. C commander, spotted a group of VC from his helicopter and directed his men toward them.
   Moving in, the squad discovered clothes, hats, a bayonet and bamboo slats for sleeping in trees before discovering the nurse.


GUTS, 1 EACH - While a soldier is in Vietnam, there are some things he must supply himself.   Before he gets to Vietnam, the Army provides the training.  When he arrives, the Army provides the necessary clothing and equipment.  Specialist Robert A. Gordon of HHC, 3rd Brigade athletic and recreation office, provides the soldier's recreational needs.  The rest the soldier supplies himself.  (Photo by Sp4 Dale Sutphin) Spec. Robert A. Gordon



Operational Needs
   27th Suppliers Work Long Day

   While most "Tropic Lightning" troops at Cu Chi are catching their lost wink of sleep, the supply men of the 1st Bn., 27th Inf., "Wolfhounds" are already working up a heavy sweat in their efforts to keep food, ammunition, and construction materials at the disposal of their line companies.
   The work of these men behind the scenes keep the Wolfhounds prepared to defeat the Viet Cong.
   The work of the supply section begins 24 hours before every operation. It is then that estimates of field unit needs are requisitioned from the division's re-supply office.
   After the requisitions have gone through the proper channels, the supply men gather the materials and break them down into company-size units to be taken to the re-supply pad and airlifted out.
   "We really have to hustle!" says SSgt. Roy Davidson, 35, of Fort Worth, Texas.
   The battalion operations center contacts 2nd Brigade headquarters to make arrangements for the choppers.  Often flights are scheduled early in the morning.
   On a normal day, the Wolfhounds send more than 30,000 pounds of supplies out by air.
   PFC David Zobel, 21, of Appleton, Wis., does most of the paper work for the requisitioned items.  Asked if he is kept busy, he replied, "I'm always behind."  But heavy work loads and long hours never seem to discourage Wolfhound supply men, for as they say:  "We don't have tine to get discouraged!"

2Lt. Mary Miller, 1Lt. Judith Smith BOTTOM'S UP - 2nd Lt. Mary Miller, 22, of San Antonio, Texas, holds child as 1st Lt. Judith F. Smith, 23, of Phoenix, Ariz,, inoculates him during a Medical Civic Action Program held near Cu Chi.  Both Army nurses are presently assigned to the division's 7th Surgical Hospital.  (Photo by SFC Joseph Hawkins)



Big 'Hello' to 196th Medics

   "Hello... hello...," cried the children of Binh Trung village as they ran to meet the Medical Civic Action Program (MEDCAP) team from the 196th Light Infantry Brigade's 2nd Bn., 1st Inf.
   Although this was the battalion's first visit to Binh Trung the children and adults were already well acquainted with MEDCAP teams of the 25th, so they gave the newcomers a grateful reception.
   The battalion MEDCAP team included 2nd Lt. James. G. Armstrong, battalion affairs officer, and six trained medical specialists.


Thanks to:
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.

This page last modified 01-10-2008

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