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Vol 1 No. 37                TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                November 4, 1966



Unit                     Page Unit                    Page Unit                    Page Unit                      Page
1/5                                          3 1/35                                        1 2/27                                        8 3/13 Arty                               1
1/5                                          3 196th Inf                               7 25th Admin                          3 4/9 Photo                               2
1/5                                          4 2nd Bde HHC                      7 25th Avn Bn                        7 4/23                                         1
1/5 Photos                            4 2/1                                          1 25th Band Photo                 3 4/23 Photo                             6
1/5                                          7 2/14                                        7 25th Div Arty                      7 558th Engr Photo                  3
1/14 Photo                            8 2/14                                        7 25th IG                                  6 65th Engr Photo                    3
1/27 Photo                            7 2/14                                        8 25th Inf Div                          6 Red Cross                              6
1/27                                        7 2/27                                        1 25th Inf Div                          6 Red Cross Photo                   8
1/35 Photo                            1 2/27                                        3 3rd Bde                                  7  




By 1st Lt. Patrick McKeand

   Those ear-shattering sounds which fill the air over Tay Ninh province nowadays, are not the sounds of artillery and air strikes.  They're the rumble of hunger pains emerging from the stomachs of Viet Cong operating in the area.
   Charlie left his sanctuary in a heavily wooded and camouflaged area, about 20 miles northwest of Saigon, last weekend in search of Americans operating nearby.  To his surprise, the American troopers, from the 196th Light Infantry Brigade, bypassed him along the way and retreated to the enemy sanctuary themselves.
   What they found there was a crude, but gigantic supermarket stocked with more than 800 tons of rice, 25 tons of salt, 455 gallons of tar and 440 gallons of gasoline.  It was one of the largest caches ever located in the jungles of Vietnam.
   Within minutes after their arrival in the dense undergrowth, infantrymen from Co. A, 2nd Bn., 1st Inf., took control of the area.  Business at the rice market was slow the first day until the troopers from the 196th arrived on the scene.
   It was like bargain days at Macy's as the infantrymen raced up to the first cache and began carrying the rice out of the undergrowth to the landing zone for evacuation to their Tay Ninh command post.
   They quickly located a second cache, then a third and a fourth, until they soon discovered the area was loaded with rice and salt, and other free bargains - waiting only for the taking.  And they did just that.
   By the end of the first day the shelves had been cleared of more than 420 tons of rice.  The "Tropic Lightning" shopping spree was extended another two days to accommodate the bargain hunters.  By the end of the third day their shopping carts were filled with 800 tons of rice.
   CH-47 "Chinook" helicopters had several field days as they dropped into the area to carry the goods back to Tay Ninh.
   Once the word got back to the 196th base camp, additional troops boarded helicopters and headed for the VC shopping center.
   The only interference during the shopping spree came on the second day when several disgruntled store keepers tried to retrieve their stock.  One was killed and the others decided to surrender.
   The supermarket was stocked with enough rice to keep a 6000 man VC division going for 180 days.  The gigantic rice cache follows closely on the heels of a similar discovery 30 days before when elements of the 2nd Bn., 14th Inf., uncovered more than 280 tons of rice about 10 miles south of the most recent supply site.




   Eighteen hours of fierce fighting highlighted a division sweep recently as the 4th Bn., 23rd Inf., patrolled an area six miles northeast of the Cu Chi base camp.
   A well organized, reinforced company of Viet Cong began the action shortly after noon when they fired on elements of the "Tomahawks" Co. A.
   Outnumbered almost three to one, the two "Tropic Lightning" platoons radioed for support and settled down determined to hold their ground until artillery or air strikes could free them from their position.
   Shortly afterwards armed helicopters flew over, pouring streams of rockets and automatic fire into the enemy position.  From the ground a voice on the radio shouted "Beautiful!  That was right on the money!"
   The gunships had hit their targets and only light fire could still be heard from what was thought to be a defeated enemy force.  The enemy came alive again.  When evacuation ships moved in, a rain of enemy fire showered over the area, sending troops scrambling for cover.  Enemy bullets ripped through the metallic skin of the rescue helicopter and whizzed by the heads of the wounded.
   With a splash, the dustoff ship hit the rice paddy, crippled from several enemy rounds that had pierced its engine.  The pilot and crew scrambled for cover while ground troops returned the fire.
   Another radio call was made for artillery support.  Howitzers from the 3rd Bn., 13th Arty, spit 155mm rounds into the area for almost an hour, and again the enemy quieted down.
   It was decided that an airstrike should be called in before any further dustoffs were attempted.
   The "Tomahawks" exchanged fire with the V.C. force another hour until jet aircraft screamed in, dropping the bombs over the enemy positions.
   The sun was setting as the jets soared away.  Enemy action was at a standstill.  It was time to bring in the choppers and go home.
   The "Tomahawks" hustled into the choppers as soon as they touched down.  Everyone was aboard and safe.  Then machine gun bursts were heard coming from the tree line, and tracers cut the dark sky as chopper door-gunners retaliated with their M-60 machine guns.
   The fight was on again; this time from the air.  Shotgunners raked into the flashing guns of the enemy as the VC fire began ripping into the sides of the helicopters.
   Two choppers were hit, and began slowly descending back into the rice paddy, and the ground fighting began again.
   It was already dark when the other ships relanded their troops and began their way back with the wounded.  Co. A stayed behind to protect the two fallen aircraft.
   Two more Dustoff choppers were forced down by fire.
   It appeared that further flights into the area could prove costly, so the "Tomahawks" decided to remain overnight.  Other platoons of Co .A soon joined them in the fight and together they stubbornly held off the enemy.
   The weary men of Co. A were replaced in the morning by Companies B and C, and the fighting continued.  Now outnumbered, the enemy began to fall back.  Further airstrikes and artillery barrages were called in as the men of the 25th advanced.
   By mid-morning, "Chinook" helicopters had flown away the damaged aircraft and were bringing in bellyfuls of supplies.  The enemy was on the run and the two companies were in hot pursuit.  What remained of the enemy force was pushed into the Saigon River and forced into the jungle wastes to the north.

Sgt. Clifford Totten, Gen. Creighton W. Abrams UP HIGH - Sgt. Clifford R. Totten, Co. B, 1st Bn., 35th Inf., received the United States' second highest award for valor, the Distinguished Service Cross, from the Army's Vice Chief of Staff, Gen. Creighton W. Abrams.



Sgt. Calls Artillery On His Own Position

   The Distinguished Service Cross, the Army's second highest award for valor, was presented recently to Sgt. Clifford R. Totten by Gen. Creighton W. Abrams, Vice Chief of Staff of the Army.
   Gen. Abrams presented the award on his visit to the 3rd Brigade Task Force at Pleiku.
   Sgt. Totten was cited for showing exceptional heroism against the Viet Cong July 3 near Thang Duc in the Vietnam's central highlands.
   Two squads from the 3rd Platoon of Co. B, 1st Bn, 35th Inf were on a search and destroy mission when they ran into a North Vietnamese Army (NVA) company-size ambush.
   After the platoon leader was critically wounded, Sgt. Totten, the patrol's forward observer, realizing he was the ranking man, organized a tight defensive perimeter.
   When his men's ammunition was expended, he and PFC Isaac B. Quick exposed themselves to enemy fire as they collected ammunition from the battlefield.
   Later, seeing that he was about to be overrun himself, he called in a three-hour long barrage of artillery fire on his own position.
   "It was beautiful," Sgt Totten said, "We caught them standing up!"
   Suddenly, all was quiet.
   "We thought they had pulled out," the sergeant pointed out.
   Fifteen minutes later, the roar of armored personnel carriers (APCs) pierced the silence.
   Then the NVA opened up.
   It was during this attack that Sgt Totten was wounded in the arm by fragments from an enemy grenade.
   The NVA opened upon the APCs with anti-tank rockets.  Two of the personnel carriers were ablaze in a matter of minutes.
   The other personnel carriers provided cover fire with 50 caliber machine guns, while the remainder of the patrol climbed inside.
   "I couldn't carry my radio and weapon both - my arm was numb - so my machine gunner fired a burst into the radio to keep the enemy from using it," Sgt. Trotters said.  "It was sputtering and flashing as we withdrew."
   "I discarded all my empty web gear so I could move quickly and raced for the APC.  I got in the last one."
   "Looking back we saw a most satisfying sight: Air Force C-47's with gattling guns spraying the enemy."


Wolfhounds Entertain VC

   The 2nd Bn., 27th Inf. "Wolfhounds" recently killed six VC and captured six more, including a finance representative and two female entertainers six miles southeast of Cu Chi.
   Co. B landed in three separate landing zones and swept toward each other.  As the third platoon landed, nine VC broke through a hedgerow and ran into a rice paddy.
   "Huey" gunships strafed the area and left five enemy dead.  As the platoon continued on, it received sniper fire.  During the counter-attack the platoon found a hole where another VC hid.  After a brief fight, the enemy, body was pulled out.
   While the second platoon and the battalion intelligence section searched the area, five more enemy were found hiding in nearby hut.  Two were female entertainers.


Latest Reports
Through November 2

Operation Province Began FC KIA VCC VCS
Attleboro Tay Ninh Sept. 14 L 5 5 54
Lanikai Long An Sept. 15 L 22 4 36
Paul Rev. IV Pleiku Oct. 18 L 125 29 5



Page 2                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           November 4, 1966



WO Thomas A. Carlson, HHC, 2nd Bde.  
Lt. Col. Robert W. Patterson, HHC & Band, Div. Spt. Cmd.
Maj. Thomas F. Healy, HHT, 3rd Sgdn., 4th Cav.
Maj. Joseph H. Kastner. HHD, 25th Avn. Bn.
Maj. John E. Thomas Jr., HHC, 65th Engr. Bn.
Capt. Michael J. Brekovich, HHB, Div. Arty.
Capt. Amos A. Bryan[, HHC, 25th Inf. Div.
1st Lt. Richard M. Cohen, Co. C, 4th Bn., 23rd Inf.
1st Lt. Rodney L. Lutes, HHC, 4th Bn., 23rd Inf.
1st Lt. Joseph G. Sevick, Co. A, 4th Bn..9th Inf.
2nd Lt. Laurence Baxter, Btry C, 7th Bn., 11th Arty.
SMaj Roland R.Petty, D Trp., 3rd Sgdn..4th Cav.
MSgt. Charlie L. Baler, HHC 25th Inf. Div.
Sgt. Emil Nehring, Co. A, 2nd Bn., 27th Inf.
Sp6 James C. McGee, 25th MP Co.
Sgt. George W. Hardy, Co. C, 125th Sig. Bn.
Sp5 Ernest E. Jackson. HHD, 25th Avn. Bn.
Sp5 Roland P. Tremblay, 25th Admin. Co.
Sp4 George R. Bares, HHC, 2nd Bde.
Sp4 Harry J. Lapierre, HH&S Btry., 3rd Bn., 13th Arty.
1st Lt. Donald K. McBride, Co. A, 4th Bn., 23rd Inf.
1st Lt. William W. Mendel, Co. A, 4th Bn., 23rd lnf.
1st Lt. Andrew Zorbis, Co. A, 4th Bn., 23rd Inf.
SSgt. Kenneth D.Roberts.,Co.A, 4th Bn., 23rd Inf.
Sgt. Antonio V. Carpio, Co. A, 4th Bn., 23rd Inf.
Sgt. Kenneth L. Philpott, HHC, 1st Bn. (Mech), 5th Inf.
Sp4 Loyd A. Smith, Co. A, 4th Bn., 23rd Inf.
PFC Jerald M. Norris, Co. A, 4th Rn., 23rd Inf.
PVT Richard H. Arnett, Co. A, 4th Bn., 23rd Inf.
PVT Danny R. Price, Co. A, 4th Bn., 23rd Inf.




   Christmas shopping has been made easy for Vietnam Servicemen through a new Vietnam Exchange Service, the Mail-a-Gift catalog.
   The catalog for use only by authorized Exchange customers in Vietnam and Thailand is being distributed to exchanges throughout the country and are now available to military personnel serving with the "Tropic Lightning" division at Cu Chi.
   Order blanks and personalized gift tags are included in the catalog.  All the customer has to do is fill out his order, enclose a check or money order, and mail them to the Army and Air Force Exchange Service in New York.
   Gifts may be sent to any address in the United States and Puerto Rico.  Delivery will normally be seven to 30 days after the order is received in New York, however, the Exchange advises to allow extra time for the Christmas rush.
   The Mail-a-Gift service will be in effect throughout the year.  The Exchange emphasizes that the catalog list price is the full cost to a customer; there are no extra charges.
   Listed in the catalog are quality gifts of every variety from sporting goods, cameras, radios, and silver plate to an unabridged dictionary.  All items are U.S. manufactured.


Three's A Target for Viet Cong

   Military Police authorities in Headquarters, Military Assistance Command Vietnam have issued new warnings to U.S. personnel to avoid congregating on streets and in other public places.
   Military Police have been directed to break up gatherings at bus stops and places where groups may congregate.
   Personnel are advised to wait indoors for buses or to space themselves apart.  The reminder to avoid grouping in public came after two separate incidents of explosives being detonated in downtown Saigon.  The incidents were blamed on VC terrorists who have directed attacks at similar targets before.
   Military Police warned that any regular public gathering place could be the target of an attack.
   Two's a crowd - three's a target.



   We Are No Different

   On November 11 we paused a moment at 11 a.m. in recollection and silent prayer.
   It may be a raw cold day, or a day of fleecy clouds and balmy sunshine.  But it always has the same meaning.  It's Veterans Day.
   In the United States this is the day we hold commemorative services at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery.  It's here we honor our dead comrades.
   It's a day everyone remembers.  Those of us now in the service have our memories as we honor our comrades-in-arms.  We pause and offer a prayer for those now fighting for our country in far-off places.  It could be that we will be among the remembered next year.
   It has been the same since World War I - Nov. 11, 1918, to be exact.  That's the day a truce ending that great war was signed.
   Then come our participation in World Ward II, Korea and now Viet Nam.  Why?  Because our desire is freedom, and always has been, to preserve and protect the freedom that we know, love and enjoy.
   We fought for our freedom 190 years ago.  It hasn't changed today.  We're still doing it, and we'll keep right on until aggression has been stamped from the face of the earth.
   We like the form of government that has been our country's heritage since its birth.  We want those who come after us to enjoy the same blessings.  Consequently, we have to fight and sometimes die to preserve it.
   Actually, we're just carrying out that portion of our heritage most dear to us.  Our fathers, grandfathers, and great grandfathers did it with honor.  We are no different.  (AFNB)


Legal Adoptions in Vietnam Considered Valid by U.S.

   The Laws of Vietnam provide that any person with the following qualifications may adopt a minor child, if the parents or guardian of the child agree.
   If the adopting person is married, either he or his spouse must be at least 25 years old and the spouse must submit written consent to the adoption.  If the adopting person is unmarried, he must be at least 25 years old and must be at least 25 years older than the child to be adopted.
   A lawyer should represent the adopting parents in these proceedings.  A list of lawyers in Vietnam is available at the Consular Section of U.S. Embassy.  Adoption by proxy is possible in Vietnam.
   An adopted Vietnamese child is required to have an immigrant visa in order to enter the United States.  The application for this visa by the adoptive parents should be initiated long in advance of the proposed departure for the United States, even before the child is selected if possible and at least four months prior to the departure from Vietnam of the prospective adoptive parents.
   Contact your legal assistance officer for complete details.

MG Fred Weyand, Nicholas Katzenback BRIEFED - Maj, Gen. Fred C. Weyand, division commander, greets Under Secretary of State Nicholas Katzenbach at the forward command post of the 4th Bn., 9th Inf., "Manchu" near Ben Luc in Long An Province.  Mr. Katzenbach was briefed by Lt. Col. Shepherd A. Booth, "Manchu" commander, on the Revolutionary Development program at Long An.  (Photo by PFC Vern Shibla)



New Printer for TLN

   The TLN takes on a cleaner look in this the first issue printed by our new publisher, THE VIETNAM GUARDIAN in Saigon.
   Along with the new look, readers can expect to find the same regular features, plus new items which we will introduce in the weeks to come.


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, Armed Forces Press Service and Armed Forces News Bureau material are used.  Views and opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Department of the Army.  Printed in Saigon, Vietnam, by The Vietnam Guardian.

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
Sp5 Jimmy Edwards . . . . . . . . .  Editorial Assistant
Sp4 Adrian E. Wecer  . . . . . . . . Editorial Assistant



Page 3                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           November 4, 1966



   Five Viet Cong were killed, one captured and important intelligence data confiscated by men in a command and control helicopter for Co. C, 1st Bn. (Mech), 5th Inf. recently.
   The division soldiers swept south of the village of Tan Phu Trung, 15 miles northwest of Saigon, as Capt. Willis A. Blair, company commander watched from his command helicopter flown by WO James R. Hamilton.
   WO Hamilton was flying in large circles and criss-cross movements to avoid drawing attention to the two platoons.  From an altitude of 1000 feet, Capt. Blair spotted what appeared to be a camouflaged sampan.  He flew down to 500 feet and confirmed this, also noticing a camouflaged VC hut.
   The platoons were far away and Capt. Blair decided to investigate.  As WO Hamilton swooped down, they noticed three Viet Cong in the hut.
   Capt. Blair fired his M-79 grenade launcher and killed one of them.
   The hut was set up on stilts along a canal and the two remaining VC dove into the water.  Capt. Blair fired again and killed another.  The last attempted to swim away.
   WO Hamilton hovered his bubbletop helicopter (OH-23) about six feet above the man while Capt. Blair motioned for him to surrender.  The VC put up his hands.
   The third was killed moments later and a search of bodies revealed maps and documents.  The captured VC led the company to find more Viet Cong.
   Capt. Blair deployed his unit to the area pinpointed by the Viet Cong.  As he flew ahead of his company, he spotted three VC and fired at them, killing two with his M-79 grenade launcher.


U.S.-Viet Effort
   Downed Bridge Is Rebuilt

   Military engineers from the U.S. 25th and the Vietnamese 30th Engineers recently teamed up to replace a damaged bridge on Highway 1 at Cau Bong, nine miles northwest of Saigon.
   Co. B of the 65th Engineers and the division's 588th Engr. Bn. worked around the clock with the Vietnamese 30th Engineers.
   The strategic bridge collapsed under the constant pressure of civilian traffic and military convoys temporarily severing civilian commerce and isolating military units beyond the bridge.
   Although the main bridge itself is not scheduled for replacement until early 1967, traffic is now flowing smoothly over two temporary bridges.  To accommodate civilian traffic, the engineers installed an American-donated light tactical raft and graded approaches of American-supplied rock and dirt.

DOWN BUT NOT OUT - Civilian traffic flows smoothly over a U.S. Army light tactical raft, installed by a combined team of 25th and Vietnamese 30th Engineers.  The raft replaced a fallen bridge on Highway 1 at Cao Bong.  (Photo by PFC Doug Kearney)




   A soldier from the 25th Admin. Co, received another letter from the young girl from Los Angeles, a person he had corresponded with for months although the two had never met.
   In the letter was an unusual request.
   "My aunt is sitting next to me," she wrote.  And she asked me who I'm writing.  I answered, and now she wants to know if there are any generals over50 years of age who want a pen-pal.
   She said she'll send him CARE packages with salami, corned beef and even lox."



1/5th Mech. Closes Down V.C. Explosives Factory

   A unit of the 1st Bn. (Mech), 5th Inf., put a Viet Cong factory out of business during a recent operation in the Ho Bo Woods, about 10 miles north of Cu Chi.
   Led by an ex-VC, Co. C found a cache of butterfly bombs, hand grenades and duds in three buildings.
   Co. C moved in through booby trapped thickets to search the buildings.  At the first of the three, Capt. William Blair, company commander, found a screen of bamboo slats blocking the door and realizing that the screen was a possible trap looked for another entrance.
   The returnee didn't give him a chance.  Pulling at one of the slats he set off an explosion and was knocked uninjured to the ground.
   Co. C infantrymen ruffled through the opened building and found pots filled with TNT.  Searches of the other two storehouses uncovered nearly 600 pounds of the explosive and other ingredients necessary to produce booby-traps.
   Charlie Company decided to slow production.  Setting a spark to the Viet Cong TNT, they leveled the factory and destroyed all of its materials.

SSG Harold Yonashiro and Montagnard IN THE BAG - SSgt. Harold Yonashiro of Honolulu shows Montagnard workers the fastest way to load sandbags.  The sergeant-in-charge of the brigade band here spends spare hours supervising the loading and stacking of sandbags which are picked up by 3rd Brigade units and used in building defensive structures.



Booby Trap Explodes - Sgt. Tin is Dead
By PFC Andy Jensen

   The smallest "Wolfhound" in the 2nd Bn., 27th Inf, recently lost his life on an operation south of the division's base camp when he was hit by an exploding booby trap.  Sgt. Vo Tin was an Army, Republic of Viet Nam, (ARVN) soldier.
   He came to the 2nd Bn, 27th Inf, seven months ago and was assigned to HHC as an interpreter.  His job was to use his knowledge of English to help the doctors on Medical Civic Action Programs (MEDCAPs) and on occasions he would be asked to go to the field.
   One day, it was necessary for him to go to the field with the battalion intelligence officer.  He was found to be of such value that he was taken along any time there was an important and delicate intelligence job to be done.
   Sgt. Tin was soft-spoken and well mannered and felt that he could obtain more from the captives by being kind to them.  He usually worked with his arm around a prisoner's shoulder, talking to him, smiling from time to time.
   It wasn't long before the captive felt at ease with this frilendly man and began to tell him all he knew.
   Sgt. Tin, although an ARVN soldier, wore his Wolfhound pin with great pride and when asked if he wanted to be transferred to a safer job, would always reply, "l am a Wolfhound and as long as the Wolfhounds are here, I will be too."
   Tin had a bad heart condition, but very few people knew of it and those who did were sworn to secrecy.  Tin would take what medicine he could get and make the best of the situation.
   On October 21 Sgt. Tin went on an operation with the Wolfhounds south of the 25th Division base camp.  He was accompanying the intelligence section on a sweep when for him, the operation was cut short.  The air was shattered by an exploding booby trap.
   Sgt. Tin was dead.


Page 4 - 5                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           November 4, 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 were printed across the center of the 2-page-wide sheet and partially 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.]



A.I.D. Equipment Used in Complex

   In the village of Tan Phu Trung the 1st Bn. (Mech), 5th Inf., "Bobcats" are building a complexed, Popular Forces compound to combat Viet Cong terrorism in the area.
   The compound is fortified with four bunkers made of concrete and sandbags.  The sandbags are four deep on the sides and one thick on top with concrete coverings.  Each can hold 20 people.
   The battalion, in conjunction with its civic action program, is also building houses in the compound for the dependents of the Popular Forces soldiers.
   Supplies for the buildings and bunkers are furnished by the battalion and all the labor by the Vietnamese.  A brick-making machine has been furnished by the U.S. Agency for International Development in conjunction with the civil affairs officer Lt. Col. Victor F. Diaz, battalion commander, recently met with the village chief to discuss further development and was given a guided tour of the area.

Photos by Sp4 James Pardue


ENTER - Market place at the village Tan Phu Trung. Marketplace at Tan Phu Trung
Drying bricks SUN BATH - A Tan Phu Trung villager sets fresh-made bricks out in the sun to dry.  The bricks, made with the help of the 1st Bn. (Mech), 5th Inf., and tools from the Agency for International Development, are being used to build a new military complex in that village.
THE OLD - This is a structure which once housed Popular Forces personnel and dependents at the village of Tan Phu Trung. Old structures
Making bricks INSTANT BRICK - A woman from Tan Phu Trung marvels at the brick she has just made using a machine provided by the Agency for International Development.  The machine and other tools were supplied by the 1st Bn. (Mech), 5th Inf.
PLANS AT WORK - Lt. Col. Victor F. Diaz (1-c), 1st Bn. (Mech), 5th inf., commander, and Capt. Archie L. Dowdell, battalion civil affairs officer, watch as Tan Phu Trung villagers utilize the brick-making machine. LTC Victor Diaz, Cpt. Archie Dowdell


New buildings
THE NEW - A new house in the Tan Phu Trung Popular Forces compound is shown after being completed by the villagers.  Supplies for the construction were provided by the 1st Bn. (Mech), 5th Inf, and the Agency for International Development.


LTC Victor Diaz talks with local leaders
WELCOME - Nguyen Trong Hue, Tan Phu Trung villager, meets Lt. Col. Victor F. Diaz, commander of 1st Bn. (Mech), 5th Inf., on his recent tour of the village.  Col. Diaz was inspecting the work of his battalion's civil affairs office in helping the villagers increase their standard of living.



Page 6                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           November 4, 1966


Da's Patience, Tenacity Pay Off

   Nguyen Van Da is a citizen of Bac Ha I, a small village located just outside the perimeter of the division's Cu Chi base camp.
   He had been the owner of a large general store in a farming community south of Hanoi in the 1950's when the communists began to openly pursue their revolution.
   They asked him to join them but he refused, and in doing so lost his home, store and left arm to the communists.
   Nguyen Van Da packed up a clean shirt, a few pounds of rice and his freedom and started walking south.
   He went to Saigon where he found a job, worked hard and began to save his money.  After a little more than a year, Da moved to Bac Ha.  He opened a store, not a large store, but it was a start.
   Da met a girl and got married.  A year later the first of his four children was born and Da opened his second store.
   As the years went by the VC became entrenched.  Their taxes ate up nearly all the profit from the second store.
   Good news finally came.  The 25th was making camp in the peanut field just north of Bac Ha.
   And things did change.  It took the 25th's 2nd Brigade Task Force six weeks of hard fighting to secure the field, but they were going to build their base camp there and nothing was going to stop them.
   Everything appeared to be going well for Da, but soon he found he was faced with a new problem.
   One day recently Sp4 Eric R. Mooney, Civil Affairs NCO for the 25th Division's Support Command, stopped by to see how Da was doing and found him a little dejected.
   "I just sold three of my stores," explained Da.
   "Why on earth did you do that?" asked Mooney, a bit surprised.
   "They were just too much for a man with one arm to handle," said Da, "I have gotten back everything I lost when I left the north except for my arm.  It is the only thing that is holding me back."
   Specialist Mooney didn't like the sound of that.  He was sure something could be done.  He did a little checking around and a few days later he came back to Da with an application to the National Rehabilitation Center for an artificial limb.
   When it was placed Da looked at the chrome hook and said, "Well, it might work."  It was clumsy at first but then he hadn't used that arm in almost 14 years.
   Specialist Mooney stopped by Da's store again a few days after they returned from Saigon.
   "What's new?" asked Mooney.
   "Oh, a number of things" replied Da.  "I'm opening a car wash across the street next week, and I've decided it's about time I bought a motorcycle and oh yes, can you think of a good name for a laundry?"



Red Cross Runs Up Big Stats in Div.

   During the month of September the American Red Cross Field Office and Clubmobile stationed with the division's 1st and 2nd Brigades at Cu Chi served 12,281 soldiers.
   The ARC staff includes only seven men and women.
   Siegfried Reichenberg, Red Cross Field Director, heads the office part of the operation.  During the month of September alone, his office handled 159 requests for emergency leaves, hardship discharges and compassionate reassignments.
   Another service the office handles in reporting for servicemen and their families.  Often, because of circumstances beyond their control, servicemen lose contact with their homes and families.
   When this happens, either the soldier or his family will contact the Red Cress who in turn contacts the nearest ARC office to the soldier or family for a welfare status report.
   During September, 214 of these reports were made for soldiers in the 25th and 229 reports were made for families of men serving with the "Tropic Lightning" division.
   The Red Cross Field Office also counsels soldiers with all sorts of problems.  During the same one month period 353 soldiers with personal and family problems were helped by the ARC office at Cu Chi.
   September also saw the Red Cross Clubmobile come up with very interesting statistics.  In that period the ARC recreation hostesses brought their programs to 11,365 "Tropic Lightning" troops.
   Pat MacDaniels, statistics chairman for the clubmobile, said this figure includes troop servings, hospital visits and attendance at recreation programs.
   In carrying out their program for the month, the girls made 234 visits to 72 different units.  They traveled some 1241 air road miles and spent more than 200 hours entertaining 25th Division troops.


Dr.'s Quick Thinking Saves Baby

   Lt. Donald H. McBride, 25 of Rochester, N.H. entered the dispensary at Tan Phu Trung about five miles southwest of Cu Chi and discovered that the midwife had just delivered a baby.
   He noticed instead of being pink like a normal baby it was blue.
   Capt. Robert E. Fuller, 28, from Carmel, Ind., the battalion's surgeon, found the baby had a strong heartbeat but was not breathing.  He covered the baby's mouth with a piece of gauze and performed mouth to mouth resuscitation for about five minutes.  Coloring came back, but the baby still couldn't breathe.
   Capt. Fuller surmised there was excessive mucus in the baby's lungs.  Sp5 Carl E. Lacey, 32, from Texas, fashioned a narrow tube from a 10 cc. syringe and the doctor inserted the tube into the baby's windpipe.  Specialist Lacey then withdrew the mucus and the baby began to breathe normally.
   The baby is now doing fine.


4/23rd Begins New Training Program

   A new intra-battalion training program has recently been instituted by the 4th Bn., 23rd Inf., in an effort to prepare newly arrived replacements for the rigorous jungle warfare that lies ahead.
   The five-day program includes training on field sanitation, VC mines and booby traps, methods of searching and destroying tunnels, first aid and medical care, demolition, artillery and air support procedures, familiarization in use and maintenance of weapons, scouting, patrolling and ambushing.
   To aid in the training, an entire section of the "Tomahawk" battalion area has been built to simulate fire fight terrain.
   Complete with trip wires, booby traps, punji pits, spider holes, and VC trench and tunnel networks, the 75 by 75 yard course provides the "Tropic Lightning" infantrymen a working example of what they soon will be experiencing.

In training LESSON - "Tomahawk" replacement goes through new training course.
TOGETHERNESS - SSgt. Thomas M. Williams explains the necessity or teamwork during the start of the new 4th Bn., 23rd Inf., replacement training program.  (Photo by Sp4 Richard Calvo) SSG Thomas M. Williams explains



Safe Guarding Rights
   IG Office Ready to Listen And Help

   "Ready to listen and help the troubled soldier," could well be the motto of the Inspector General's office throughout the Army.  And here in Vietnam, whether it be a problem involving pay or difficulties back home, the 25th Infantry's IG staff is able to help.
   The inspector general's job is actually to "assist the soldier and make sure his rights are properly guarded," said Lt. Col. William D. Brown, "Tropic Lightning," IG.  The individual cases handled by the IG staff generally fall into two classes - requests for assistance and complaints.  MSgt. Ruben B. Jaictin, chief clerk since Sept. 1964, said about 40 cases are received, processed and solved by the inspector general staff each month.
   For the individual soldier, the IG is the final step for seeking help.  Problems should first be brought to the attention of the unit first sergeant and company commander.  If they are unable to help, the battalion executive officer is the next step, according to Col. Brown.  If he is unable, the case is then referred to the inspector general.
   In addition to helping individuals, the IG conducts periodic inspections of units.  Col. Brown said that these inspections are to see how the unit is accomplishing its mission, specifically in regards to discipline and efficiency.  If the unit is having difficulties the IG will also assist them and give advice to overcome problems.
   Included on the IG staff are Lt. Col. Lloyd R. Yeston, assistant IG, and Maj. Donald Bartko, division safety officer.


Page 7                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           November 4, 1966


"Sharp-eyes" Prove Asset to Wolfhounds

   Whenever Bravo Company of the 1st Bn, 27th Inf. "Wolfhounds" is on a search and destroy mission, SSgt. Jesus M. Garcia can be seen almost anywhere his companions look.
   The 28-year-old squad leader from New York City runs around checking the identification cards of Vietnamese villagers and uses a "sixth sense" to find Viet Cong in tunnels, bunkers and other places no one else could see.
   "A lot of people think I have eyes all over me to see the things they don't," said Sgt. Garcia, "but there are clues right in the open.  A small pushed-in part of a hedgerow means someone either passed through there recently or is hiding in there now."
   The sergeant was recently awarded the Bronze Star Medal with "V" device for his actions on August 11 when his squad was defending a section of the battalion's perimeter being probed by the VC.  Sgt. Garcia spotted four Chinese claymore mines the VC had planted close his men.  According to the citation Sgt. Garcia ordered his men to return the fire and moved across the bullet-swept rice paddy to disarm the mines.  Despite the heavy fire, he disarmed the mines and brought them back to the battalion command post.
   Sgt. Garcia said that the incident was the highlight during his eight months in VN.  "I don't care for it though," he said, "it was an unpleasant experience.  I'd rather just pull people out of tunnels."

SPOTTED - Sgt. Jesus Garcia reaches into a haystack after spotting what he thought was a hidden Viet Cong rifle.  The sergeant, a member of Co. B, 1st Bn., 27th Inf. "Wolfhounds," was with his unit during a recent mission, five miles west of base camp.  (Photo by Sp4 Wally Stachera.) Sgt. Jesus Garcia hunts for weapon



Div. Arty. Aids Farmers with DDT Powder

   The 25th Div. Arty's civic action program recently increased its scope when DDT powder and sprayers were supplied to the farmers of Xom Hue.
   Xom Hue, a tiny hamlet in the Cu Chi District of Hau Nghia Province, some 15 miles northwest of Saigon, was having trouble supporting itself.
   With the introduction of more modern farming methods, Division Artillery in conjunction with Tran Van Men, agriculture office chief in Cu Chi, hopes to see a larger rice crop this year.
   At present the hamlet is being aided by medical attention and distribution of "Helping Hand" items of food and clothing.


2/14 Pounds V.C. Twice:  Same Place

   The reconnaissance platoon of the 2nd Bn., 14th Inf. successfully ambushed the Viet Cong twice in two days, both times in the same place.
   On an operation north of the Cu Chi base camp, Companies B and C and elements of the 3rd Sqdn., 4th Cav., were charged with securing the bivouac area while the other units conducted a search and destroy sweep.
   1st Lt. Stanley Yates, platoon leader, deployed his force in three-man ambush teams around the perimeter.
   The teams chose their cover in the thick underbrush surrounding the area and silently waited for the enemy.  They were almost sure VC would come to scavenge after the main element left.
   As they entered the clearing, the nearest ambush opened up, scattering the enemy back into the dense foliage and leaving behind one dead and a Chinese Communist assault rifle.
   Lt. Yates again set out his ambushes but this time no no avail.  After waiting all day he finally assembled his men and began marching to join the other elements on the way back to Cu Chi.
   Minutes after the platoon had departed the area, three VC came to search the area.  They had just begun to uncover some discarded ration cans when rifle fire split the air.  In seconds, two of the enemy lay dead and the third was crawling wounded into the undergrowth.
   When the platoon moved out, the three stayed behind in their concealed position.  It had been a risky trick, but they had to try something different.




          1st Brigade 2/14th.
   1st Lt. John P. Otjen is the new commander of Co. A.  Lt. Otjen of Elm Grove, Wis., arrived October 18 after completing an assignment at Fort Campbell, Ky.
   A tip of the hat to Johnny B. Page of HHC on his promotion to sergeant first class.
   SSgt. John S. Neilson, also of HHC, claims to be an authority on women's pocketbooks.  Proving this he took first place in a quiz conducted by two American Red Cross girls.  The subject; "Name articles found in a girl's pocketbook."  SSgt. Neilson quickly rattled off 20 correct answers.

          25th. Avn. Bn.
   Remodeling has set the pace throughout the week.  Among the new additions is an NCO hooch, properly named the "Castle."
   Congratulations to SFC Hector Serno of HHD on his perfect timing and birth of his daughter.  Sgt. Serna arrived in Hawaii at 5 p.m while on leave recently... almost too late.  Four hours later he was at the hospital.  At 1 p.m. he became the father of Phillis Miriam.  Sgt. Serna's family now stands at five girls and one boy.

          2nd Brigade HHC
   Rollin A.Siesburg and James Stevenson were promoted to staff sergeant at company ceremonies recently.
   Other promotions to the rank of sergeant include George R. Bares, Larry L. Cardwell, Joe W. Collins and Kenneth M. Powers.
   New Sp5s include Allan L. Bird, Robert L. Little, Dennis Kesiniecki and Ronald S. Takushi.

   PFC Daniel N. Smith of Co. B received a letter from his mother informing him that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had his name as a deserter.  It seems that when PFC Smith arrived in Viet Nam last February, he had orders to report to the 173rd Airborne Bde.  But while at the 90th Replacement Bn., he was reassigned to the 25th Division.  PFC Smith's hold baggage arrived at the 173rd but the owner never showed up and the alarm went out.
   Seven men from Co. B recently found a hole while digging a hole, reports PFC Brian Kidney.  While digging a drainage ditch, the nineteen-year-old soldier said "the ground started sagging.  The deeper I dug, the looser the ground got until eventually it caved in."  PFC Kidney had discovered an abandoned Viet Cong tunnel which is part of the intricate system around the base camp area.

   Patrons of the "Bobcat Brass Rail" officers club now enjoy more room with the recent completion of a new addition.
   David LaBang of Co. C received a promotion to platoon sergeant during ceremonies last week.
   Ten other soldiers were advanced to staff sergeant at the same ceremony.  They were Bobby Caldwell, Terry Dotson, Thomas Elliott, Roland Foster, Theodore Mills, William Moon, John Seipel, Jose Vallocillo, Roy Wareham and Robert Wigglesworth.  Promoted to sergeant were Larry Collins, John Holyfield, Joe Lee, George Maxwell, Allan Murphy, Dennis Scott, Edward Soto and William White.  James Gray, Dennis Homiak and Vincent Vasile made Sp5.

          196th, Lt. Inf. Bde HHC
   Everyone has heard of the singing postman, but HHC 196th Light Infantry Brigade, has its own "acting" postman.
   James W. Thurner of Pittsburgh, Pa., actor turned postman, began his stage career at the age of 12.  He later appeared on the legitimate stage with the Children's Theater at the Pittsburgh Playhouse.
   A two-year scholarship enabled him to study at the Pittsburgh Playhouse. During his studies he appeared in 16 major shows, starring in 12.
   At the age of 20 he got his first big break, a chance to audition for the American Conservatory Theater in Lincoln Center, New York.  The conservatory is a traveling society of actors which appears in all the major cities of the U.S.
   While with the Conservatory Specialist Thurner had a major part in the smash hit, "White America," costarring with Harold Stone, and then the lead in "King".
   In his next starring role, he played the part of a postman for the Army.


More Blessed To Give Than To Receive

   Maj. Neal Christensen, 3rd Bde Task Force Aviation Officer, wrote his 8-year-old son, Steven, and said that many of the children here didn't have any clothes.
   The major had mentioned this merely to describe how the Vietnamese live, but in the first letter he received from his son there was 50 cents.  The money, Steven's allowance, was to buy clothes for the Vietnamese.
   The major wrote back saying that they needed clothes, not the money.  This sent the youngster and his mother rummaging through Steven's clothes.  They came up with a boxfull and sent it to Maj. Christensen, who distributed the clothes to the Montagnard children at the village of Plei-Gao-Thong.
   The major said he may have to buy Steven a new wardrobe when he returns home in January, but it made him feel good to know his son would rather give than receive.




Page 8                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           November 4, 1966


Sheila Otto, Vicky Olsen entertain
GAMES - Red Cross girls Sheila Otto (1), and Vicky Olsen (r), stationed at the division's base camp, carry out one of their many programs for troop entertainment.  (See "Tropic Flashes", Page 7)




   An estimated company of Viet Cong triggered an early morning attack on the 2nd Bn., 27th Inf. forward base camp at Tho Mo recently, sparking the "Tropic Lightning" infantrymen to launch a startling counter-attack which left seven enemy dead.
   The first sign of trouble was detected at 2:09 a. m. when one of the assigned scout dogs alerted the battalion to enemy presence in the area.  Seconds later, the enemy attempted a breakthrough of the concertina wire fronting Co. A's perimeter and set off a trip flare.  A miscalculated enemy mortar barrage fell upon their men who were caught in the wire.
   The main attack occurred in the vicinity of the Co. A perimeter, although claymore mines encircled the command post.  Co. A continued to strike back at the enemy with withering fire as friendly artillery and mortars pounded the attackers and all possible routes of escape.  The heavy weapons fire was so intense that the enemy had no time to adequately set up their mortar positions and only 11 hostile rounds were fired, none of them hitting their targets.
   The attack ended as the enemy broke contact and desperately attempted to retreat under constant pounding from artillery and mortars.
   As the first signs of light appeared, Companies A and B conducted a sweep of the area, finding at least 20 enemy fighting positions and several mortar positions.
   Two enemy bodies were found where they had set up a claymore mine facing in the wrong direction and detonated it.
   Five additional enemy bodies were discovered along the enemy escape routes.  Scores or large blood spots and drag marks were found, indicating the possibility of other enemy casualties.
   They found five CHICOM claymore mines, 11 rifle grenades, two hand grenades, eight 81mm mortar rounds, five 60mm mortar rounds and 408 rounds of small arms ammunition.
   There were no friendly casualties.


Viet Pilot Downed Near Cu Chi Again

   While controlling his unit's actions north of the division's base camp here recently, Lt. Col. William E. Davis looked from his command and control (C&C) helicopter and saw a Vietnamese Air Force A1E Skyraider whistle by with its engine on fire.
   The 2nd Bn 14th inf., commander ordered his pilot to follow the craft.  As both aircraft passed over Cu Chi, Col. Davis saw the Skyraider's engine quit and the Vietnamese pilot labor over the controls to keep his airplane stable during its dive for the ground.
   The C&C ship kept a cautions distance behind the fighter and watched.  Clearing the base camp; the skyraider's pilot chose a deep rice paddy immediately beyond the perimeter.  With landing gear up, he eased the belly down and held on as the aircraft drove though the water.  The Skyraider coasted to a stop and settled 160 yards later.
   The pilot climbed out of his aircraft unharmed as Col Davis' helicopter dropped down to pick him up.  Back at base camp, the pilot, Lt D. Q. True, sighed. "This is the second time I have crash-landed near your base camp," he explained.  "l am beginning to feel at home here."
   Lt. True, a member of the Vietnamese 518th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Bien Hoa, had been supporting a division convoy between Cu Chi and Tay Ninh when he drew fire from a Viet Cong 50 caliber machine-gun position.  Realizing that his plane had been hit Lt. True turned and headed for home.  Col. Davis spotted him just after his engine caught fire.
   Lt. True had enough time for a brief account of his short day's activities before a Vietnamese helicopter came to take him back to Bien Hoa.
   In the meantime, 2ath Division soldiers placed security around the downed Skyraider until a "Chinook" was available to take it home.


Council Meets

   Meeting officially for the first time, the Friendship Council of Tay Ninh province laid the groundwork for civil and military cooperation in the Tay Ninh area.
   Host and chairman of the council gathering was Tay Ninh Province Chief, Lt. Col. Ho Duc Trung.


SFC Challenges All on Reup Record

BG Glenn D. Walker meets re-enlistees
REUP - Brig. Gen. Glenn D. Walker (second from right), former 3rd Brigade commander, congratulates Sp4 Allan M. Knoll upon his re-enlistment.  The six men who re-enlisted on October 19 were (L to R) Sp4 Bobby R. Shepherd, SFC Caesar Heyliger Jr., Sp4 Leslie W. Collins, Sp4 Robert L. Cullinan and Sgt. Warren Hargis.  At far right is SFC Herbert L. Rose the brigade re-enlistment NCO.
   "I dare any company-size unit in Vietnam to top the record of "Bravo" Company 1st Bn, l4th Inf. in the re-enlistment department," said SFC Herbert L. Rose - 3rd Brigade re-enlistment NCO.
   The remark was made after six members of the "Golden Dragons" company were sworn in for a total of 23 years.
   Five of the six men were from the weapons platoon.  The sixth was the company supply sergeant.
   The men were sworn in by Brig. Gen. Glenn D. Walker, former 3rd Brigade commanding general in a ceremony at the brigade headquarters.
   Since July "Bravo" Company, under the command of Capt. Russell L, Ware, has really been living up to its motto "Can Be Done."  Eleven men of the unit have re-enlisted, eight of which were first-termers.



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 01-13-2008

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