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Vol 3 No. 04            TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS            January 22, 1968



Unit                   Page Unit                  Page Unit                  Page Unit                  Page
1/5                           3 2/22                         3 3nd Bde                   1 4/9                            7
1/8 Arty                   1 2/22 Photo               3 3/4 Cav                    1 554 Engr                   7
1/8 Arty                   1 2/12 Photo               3 3/4 Cav                    6 554 Engr Photo         7
1/27                         1 2/27                         1 3/13 Arty                  3 554 Engr Photo         7
1/27 Photo               4 2/27                         1 3/22 Photo                4 65th Engr Photo         6
1/27                         6 2/27 Photo               4 3/22 Photo                4 MARS                       2
2nd Bde                   3 2/27                         6 3/22 Photo                8 Soui Cut Battle Map   8
2/12 Photo               4 2/27 Photo               7 4/9                            1 1967 Div Recap         8
2/14 Photo               4 25th Inf Div              6 4/9                            1  




   Four battalions of Main Force Viet Cong attempted to overrun a 25th Inf Div fire support base on Jan. 1 and 2, and lost 382 men in the abortive attack.  The battle took place at Soui Cut, some 90 kms from Saigon.  The enemy launched their attack on the afternoon of Jan. 1, hours before the termination of their announced New Year's truce period.  The Div's fire support base had been set up only three days earlier.
   The attack began with mortar and rocket grenade attacks in the afternoon and evening.  Then shortly before midnight, still well before the end of the truce, four enemy battalions from the 271st and 272nd Main Force Viet Cong Regiments, launched human wave assaults against the fire support base perimeter.
   The defenders were members of the 25th Div's 3rd Bde who were in the process of setting up a powerful fire support base at Soui Cut, only 12 kms from the Cambodian border.  (See Map Page 8)
   The enemy was repelled with small arms, automatic weapons, hand grenades and supporting fire.  The tubes of the 105mm howitzers were lowered and fired directly into the Viet Cong attackers.
   It was only last March that men of the 3rd Bde, then the 3rd Bde. 4th Inf Div, had killed 647 communists of these same Viet Cong Regiments in the battle of Soui Tre.  That battle is still the biggest one-day victory of the war.
   Additional fire support for the battle at Soui Cut was provided by Army helicopter gunships and Air Force tactical aircraft hitting enemy positions from which they launched their assaults, and later enemy escape routes.
   When the Viet Cong attempted to flee to the south and west at daybreak on Jan. 2, these aircraft sprayed the jungle with thousands of rounds of machine gun fire and air-delivered rockets.
   The infantrymen found most of the enemy dead around the base camp perimeter.  U.S. casualties were listed as 23 killed and 153 wounded.
   In addition to the 382 Viet Cong killed, the enemy lost 87 individual (rifles, carbines and sub-machine guns) and 29 crew-served (machine guns, mortars and recoilless rifles) weapons.


"Wolfhounds" Kill 191 VC In Two Separate Actions

Five-hour Battle

   2ND BDE - A battalion of North Vietnamese regulars, under cover of a heavy mortar and RPG rocket barrage, attempted to overrun the night location base of the 1st Bn, 27th, Inf "Wolfhounds," shortly after midnight on Jan. 10.
   The attack, which took place 9 kms northwest of Cu Chi, left 103 communist soldiers dead.  U.S. losses were five killed and 20 wounded.
   During the five-hour battle the Wolfhounds and a battery of howitzers from the lst Bn, 8th Arty, were supported by helicopter light fire teams, additional artillery from Cu Chi and an Air Force "Spooky" flare ship.
   The defenders poured thousands of small arms, automatic weapons rounds, grenades and direct howitzer fire into the enemy.  Several bodies were found within the perimeter.  The list of captured weapons included 5 RPG rocket launchers with 36 rounds, 160 hand grenades, 5,000 rounds of small arms ammunition, 14 other individual and 2 crew served weapons, and 50 complete sets of web gear.
   From captured documents, 2nd Bde officials learned that the enemy force was from the K-18 NVA Battalion, who reportedly entered South Vietnam early last May.  It is the same unit that clashed with the Wolfhounds in the HoBo Woods early in December.

Two-day Operation
   2ND BDE - In two days of hard fighting Operation Saratoga infantrymen killed 88 Viet Cong and captured five individual weapons and a number of small arms ammunition and hand grenades.
   Both battalions of the 2nd Bde's 27th Inf "Wolfhounds," struck enemy positions in a multi-prong attack near the western banks of the Saigon River in Binh Duong Province, 27 kms north-northwest of Saigon.
   According to captured documents, the slain enemy were part of the hard core 2nd Go Mon and the 1st MR-4 Battalions.
   Terrorist activities in and around the Saigon Area have been attributed to those two units said a military intelligence official.
   Heavy fighting broke out several times during the two-day operation in which the Wolfhounds were supported by a battery of howitzers from the 1st Bn, 8th Arty, and gunships from the 116th Aslt. Hel. Co.  Numerous Air Force tactical airstrikes were flown in support of the ground troops.
   At one point infantrymen uncovered a company-size base camp which contained what one officer called "he best built bunkers ever seen in this area."
   The now dry lowlands were dotted with thick hedgerows which completely concealed dozens of heavily reenforced enemy bunkers, tied together by tunnels and trench lines.


This "Break" Becomes Extremely Lucky Break

      2ND BDE - A company of U.S. infantrymen searching for Viet Cong in the Ho Bo Woods, 54 kms north-northwest of Saigon, took what they termed as the luckiest break they ever got.
   A company of the 2nd Bn, 27th Inf "Wolfhounds," had been on the move for an hour, when CPT Peter M. Elson of Mount Vernon, Ohio, called for a break.
   As the words "BREAK" were passed back through the ranks, automatic weapons fire suddenly tore through the heavy undergrowth.  Two men were wounded by the enemy bullets which came from what was later found to be an enemy company-sized base camp with heavily reinforced and well hidden bunkers.
   Elson reporting on the action, said that the Viet Cong apparently misunderstood the word "BREAK" and opened fire prematurely.  He also stated that the Wolfhound casualties would have been a lot heavier had they been closer to the bunkers.
   Two companies of Wolfhounds were brought in to reinforce Elson's unit while artillery and Air Force tactical airstrikes hit the enemy's base camp.
   After the Viet Cong withdrew, a check of the area disclosed 42 Viet Cong bodies.  The Wolfhounds had four men killed and 16 wounded.


Div Commander Presents Awards To "Manchus"

   1ST BDE - The 25th Inf Div Commander, MG F. K. Mearns, recently visited the 1st Bde's forward support headquarters at Katum, to present awards for heroism in actions against hostile forces to personnel of the 4th Bn, 9th Inf "Manchus."
   The medal winners were 1LT Ronald Reedy, who received the Bronze Star with "V" device for action in August at the Rattle of Phu Hoa Dong, and SSG Edward Henderson, who was awarded the Silver Star for heroism against Viet Cong forces in September in the Ho Bo Woods, during Operation Barking Sands.


Documents, Base Camps Discovered

   1ST BDE - Soldiers of the 4th Bn, 9th Inf "Manchus," slashing through a Viet Cong stronghold 40 kms northwest of Tay Ninh in conjunction with Operation Yellowstone, have killed 70 enemy troops and destroyed five of their base camps.
   The camps, all battalion size, were heavily secured by numerous networks of wires leading to CHICOM command detonated mines.
   On searching the camps the Manchus discovered secret documents, 25 pounds of hand-painted propaganda posters, and 52 tons of rice - an amount estimated to spell the difference between prosperity or starvation for an enemy regimental force for three months.
   COL John Henchmann, Manchu battalion commander, said, "This area is literally swarming with Viet Cong, and we're smack in the middle.  The fact that our casualties are practically nil is a tribute to the ability of these fine young soldiers."
   Thus far in Operation Yellowstone, the enemy has continuously harassed Manchu positions with day and night mortar attacks.


Enemy Mortar Crew Slain

   CU CHI - Courage and a pair of sharp eyes are credited with breaking up a possible attack on the Cu Chi base camp of the 25th Inf Div.
   When smoke cleared from the ensuing action, the 3rd Sqdn, 4th Cav's D Trp counted five enemy dead and captured a mortar.  Discarded bloody clothing and web gear led squadron officers to believe enemy losses were higher.
   The initial sighting of the enemy position was made by WO Jeffrey Halliday, an aircraft commander, while he and a second helicopter were flying a late afternoon perimeter patrol.
   Halliday, reporting on the encounter, said he was informed by squadron operations that a team was not available to apprehend and question the men who up to that time were only suspects.
   Rather than wait, Halliday's crew volunteered to do the checking while the second aircraft orbited overhead.
   As Halliday hovered over the area, SP5 Thomas Lange, the crew chief, grabbed his M-16 and jumped to the ground.
   According to Halliday, as the crew chief moved toward one of the hidden suspects, the man jumped up and threw a grenade which exploded.
   The aircraft commander swung the chopper around and sprayed the area with mini-gun fire, then dropped down and picked up Lange who was also firing.
   The second gunship remained overhead, firing rockets and machine guns into the enemy's position.  A short time later an Aero Rifle Plt arrived and swept through the area, finding the five bodies and bloody clothing.


Page 2                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           January 22, 1968



Silver Star
LTC Thomas A. Ware Jr., HHC, 4th Bn, 9th Inf
CPT Alfred W. Baker, Co B, 4th Bn, 9th Inf
CPT Peter M. Elson, Co D, 2nd Bn, 27th Inf
CPT Donald C. De Caper, B Btry, 1st Bn, 8th Arty
PSG Bob H. Smith, Co B, 2nd Bn, 12th Inf
SSG Cornell Johnson Jr., Co B, 4th Bn, 9th Inf
SSG Douglas Stanfield, HBHS Biry, 3rd Bn, 13th Arty
SSG Gary R. Pearse, Co A, 2nd Bn, 27th Inf
SP4 Charles W. Page, Co A, 2nd Bn, 12th Inf

Distinguished Flying Cross
CPT Paul G. Larish, 116th AsIt Hall Co, 269th Avn Bn
1LT Antony M. Coggesholl, 116th Aslt Co, 269th Avn Bn
1LT Robert D. Frazier 116th Aslt Hel Co, 269th Avn Bn
WO1 William R. Croucher, 116th Ash Hel Co, 269th Avn Bn
WO1 Michael L. Cheney, 116th Asti Hel Co, 269th Avn Bn
WO1 Wesley J. Ashabranner, D Trp, 3rd Sgdn, 4th Cav
WO1 William M. Gold Jr., D Trp, 3rd Sgdn, 4th Cav
WO1 Gerald F. Finch, 116th Aslt, Hel Co, 269th Avn Bn

Bronze Star Medal (Valor)
LTC Fremont B. Hodson, HHC, 2nd Bde
LTC Thomas H. Ball, H&HS Btry, 3rd Bn, 13th Arty
MAJ Victor A. Weber, HHC, 2nd Bde
CPT William L. Heiberg, B Btry, 3rd Bn, 13th Arty
1LT Aubrey B. Stacy, Co A, 4th Bn, 23rd Inf
1SG Walter P. Jackson, Co C, 4th Bn (Mech), 23rd Inf
SFC Roy J. Hatfield, C Btry, 3rd Bn, 13th Arty
PSG Boswald W. Sanders, Co A, 2nd Bn, 22nd Inf
PSG Otis R. Kraft, Co C, 4th Bn (Mech), 23rd Inf
SSG Vaughn M. Angell, Co A, 2nd Bn, 34th Armor
SSG J.C. Chambers, Co A, 2nd Bn, 34th Armor
SSG Gerardo Marrero-Maldonado, Co A. 4th Bn, 9th Inf
SGT Timothy Bodecker, Co C, 65th Engr Bn
SGT Raymond P. Engle, Co D, 4th Bn, 9th Inf
SP4 Michael J. Muesing, Co B, 2nd On, 22nd Inf
SP4 Robert W. Cooper, Co A, 2nd Bn, 34th Armor
SP4 Joseph E. Koshinsky, Co A, 2nd Bn, 34th Armor
SP4 Murlyn N. Cole, Co A, 2nd Bn, 34th Armor
SP4 Steve V. Finney, Co A, 2nd Bn, 34th Armor
PFC Graythorn C. Jamison, Co D, 4th Bo, 9th Inf
PFC David D. Cline, Co D, 4th Bn, 91h Inf
PFC Donald F. Comfort, Co A, 65th Engr On
PFC Ronnie E. Byrd, 3rd Bn, 13th Arty
PFC Michael 0' Donell, Co D, 2nd Bn, 27th Inf
PFC Leonce Arabia, Co A, 2nd Bn, 34th Armor
PFC Wendell Johnson, Co D, 2nd Bn, 12th Inf
PFC Michael O'Donell, Co D, 2nd Bn, 27th Inf

Bronze Star Medal (Merit)
LTC Richard C. Rogers, HHC, 2nd Bde
LTC Noel L. Bergeron, HHC, 25th Inf Div
MAJ Ervin N. Page, HHC, 25th Inf Div
MAJ James L. Mitchell, HHD, 25th Avn Bn
MAJ Robbie G. Pedigo, 341st Avn Det
MAJ Clifford W. Steelman, HHC, 2nd Bde
CPT Carl H. Burton, HHC, 1st Bde
CPT Michael J. Bender, Co A, 25th S&T Bn
CPT James E. Meador, HHC, 2nd Bde
CPT Dennis L. Fontaine, HHC, 25th Inf Div
CPT Walter H. McLendon, HHD, 25th Avn Bn
CPT Johnny C. Trammell, HHD, 25th Avn On
CPT Doyling G. Patterson, HHC, 251h S&T Bn
CPT Thomas M. Jones, HHB, 25th Inf Div Arty
MSG Charles O. Gautreau, 25th Admin Co
1SG Robert Kron, Co B, 4th Bn, 9th Inf
MSG Millard Orick Jr., HHC, 3rd Bde
PSG Joseph R. Smith, 25th Admin Co
SSG Gene Corley, 341st Avn Bn
SSG Andrew J. Mankowski, HHC, 4th Bn, 9th Inf
SSG Charles W. Rinehart, HHD, 125th Sig Bn
SSG Virgle, H. Woodrow, Co A, 2nd Bn, 27th Inf
SGT Marion Emmery, HHC, 25th Inf Div
SP5 Richard L. Foster, HHC, 25th Inf Div
SP5 Thomas Rowe, 25th Admin Co
SGT Robert L. Bonner, Co A, 4th Bn, 9th Inf
SGT James L. Conley, Co A, 4th Bn, 9th Inf
SGT Joseph J. Ingram, Co B, 25th S&T Bn
SP5 Richard L. Kuckawich, HHC, 2nd Bn, 27th Inf
SGT Willie F. Roberts, Co A, 4th Bn, 9th Inf
SGT Raymond L. Russell, HHC, 2nd Bde
SGT Robert A. Stahl, HHC, 2nd Bde
SGT Floyd E. Chamberlain, HHD, 125th Sig Bn
SGT Jesse J. Craig, Co B, 1st Bn, 27th Inf
SP5 Darrell D. Strong, HHC, 4th Bn (Mech), 23rd Inf
SP4 Stephen M. Dillard, 25th Admin Co
SP4 Leonard Pack, HHB, 25th Inf Div Arty


Apollo Crewmen Named

   Manned Spacecraft Center officials have announced the names of the three-man crew for the third manned Apollo space mission, scheduled for early 1969.
   Commander for the third flight crew will be Air Force Lt. Col. Frank Borman, who was command pilot on the 14-day Gemini 7 mission.  Command module pilot will be Air Force Lt. Col. Michael Collins, and lunar module pilot will be Air Force Maj. William A. Anders.
   Plans for the third manned mission call for an earth orbit flight simulation of the lunar landing mission.  Events of the lunar mission will be conducted in the same sequence and at the same relative times during this mission.


     More Money - More Savings

   You, the American serviceman, are richer today than ever before.
   The Uniformed Services Pay Act of 1967, signed into law by the President Dec. 16, has given you the fifth pay raise in as many years, supplemented by other improvements in the military pay program.
   First, Congressional action has provided you with a 6.8 per cent per annum increase in your basic pay, and second, included a number of other provisions such as:
•  Increased Dependents Assistance Act allowances for certain personnel in the lower pay grades;
•  Authorization of a basic allowance for quarters (BAQ) and dislocation allowances for certain bachelor personnel in connection with permanent changes of station;
•  Creation of a special basic pay rate of $844.20 a month for the senior NCO position of each of the services;
•  Travel and transportation allowances for one round trip from a continental U.S. medical treatment facility to a point selected by the serviceman and approved by his Service Secretary when traveling during convalescent leave resulting from illness or injury incurred while eligible for hostile fire pay.
   That's not all.  The pay bill also provides for future military pay increases tied in both date and amount to average future increases granted federal civil service classified employees.
   Now, you have more money in your pocket.  The question is - what are you going to do with this windfall?
   You could buy any number of attractive items currently on sale in the post exchange or offered through civilian outlets off-base.  You could pay off current indebtedness and declare yourself financially solvent.
   Or, you could invest in your own future and save through two sound savings programs offered the serviceman for the wise and prudent use of his money - U.S. Savings Bonds and Uniformed Services Savings Deposits.
   Consider, while counting that pay increase, that the new "Freedom Shares," which mature in four and a half years and earn 4.74 per cent interest, are sold as packages with Series E Savings Bonds.  With $39, you can buy a $26 Freedom Share and a $26 Series E bond.
   If overseas or about to be transferred outside the continental U.S. limits, you can use the Uniformed Services Savings Deposit Program which pays 10 per cent interest annually on deposits up to $10,000.
   Make that 6.6 per cent increase work for you, while remaining within the same budget you operated under before the pay raise.  (AFPS)


30,000 Call Home Over MARS Radio

   The Military Affiliate Radio System (MARS) in Vietnam was in full swing during the holiday season relaying calls to the United States.
   During December, the stations handled more than 30,000 calls and relayed more than 50,000 messages from servicemen there.
   The MARS stations in the combat zone got their start in December 1965 when the Vietnamese government authorized operations and 15 stations were opened.  Now, some 60 stations are located in all parts of Vietnam, and two of them are aboard the hospital ships USS Repose and USS Sanctuary.
   The stations are linked to the United States by 38 radio frequencies through "gateway" stations in Hawaii, Alaska and nearly 29,000 civilian affiliated stations in the U.S.
   The civilian affiliates receiving radio messages forward them by commercial lines.  The only cost to the serviceman is the price of a collect call from the stateside station to the recipient.
   Worldwide, there are about 760 MARS stations.


The TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS is an authorized publication of the 25th Infantry Division. It is published weekly for all division units in the Republic of Vietnam by the Information Office, 25th Infantry Division, APO San Francisco 96225. Army News Features, Army Photo Features, Armed Forces Press Service and Armed Forces News Bureau material are used. Views and opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Department of the Army. Printed in Tokyo, Japan, by Pacific Stars and Stripes.

MG F. K. Mearns . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Commanding General
MAJ. Bernard S. Rhees . . . . . . . . . .  Information Officer
1LT Larry Rottmann . . . . . . . . . . . . . Officer-in-Charge
SSG Dave Wilkinson  . . . . . . . . . . . . Editor
SP4 Dave Cushman . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Editorial Assistant


Page 3                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           January 22, 1968


Now Medical APC follows Infantry To Field
By SP4 Jim Friar

   3RD BDE - The high quality of medical treatment and the speed in which casualties are evacuated to rear areas are well known characteristics of the war in Vietnam.  Usually within minutes after a casualty is sustained, a medical evacuation helicopter (MEDEVAC) "dustoff" is on the scene, lifting the wounded men out of the jungle and into the nearest hospital facility.  At times however, multiple casualties, heavy, impenetrable jungle, or unsecure landing zones prevent the immediate aerial evacuation of the wounded.  In these cases, continuing loss of blood or the need for sophisticated equipment not available to the line medic can result in higher casualties from wounds.
   The 2nd Bn (Mech), 22nd Inf, is fortunate to be able to have a medical armored personnel carrier accompany it in the field.  Led by CPT Jack Coyer, the "Hemostat Hilton" armored personnel carrier provides the mobility for a doctor to accompany the battalion in the field with the capacity for medical supplies necessary to provide instantaneous broad scale medical care to injured soldiers.
   There are presently four other personnel attached to the medical APC.  SP5 Edvent Grinnell from Tillicum, Wash., is the enlisted man in charge and is a licensed practical nurse.  SP5 Joe Passillas from Cuttler. Calif., spent eight months on the line before transferring to the battalion aid station.  Joe is also the driver and in his spare time has to perform the usual maintenance necessary to keep the APC in tip-top shape.  SP4 Warren Vance, who spent four months in a line platoon and PFC Chuck Romans, from Chillicothe, Ohio, are the newest members of the group.
   Besides carrying a five or six-man medical team into field, the APC is able to carry everything that a normal battalion aid station would have in base camp.  In addition to carrying extra bandages and medical supplies used by the line medics, equipment such as whole blood, intravenous solutions, sterile surgical tools for minor surgery in the field, and a complete pharmacy are at the disposal of Dr. Coyer and his staff.  Since a mechanized battalion usually spends most of their time in the field, this enables the men on sick call to be treated in the field rather than being sent to base camp for treatment.
   When the "Triple Deuces" lager for the night, the first thing done to the "Hemostat Hilton" is to put up the tent attached to the back of the APC.  When darkness comes, with its inherent light discipline, the dry lightproof tent provides a place to treat casualties.
   Most of the time the duties consist of having sick call in the morning and night, and if need be, preparing casualties for extraction.  At times, the full capabilities have been needed to give treatment to multiple battle casualties.
   Last year, when the "Triple Deuce" relieved their sister battalions at Landing Zone Gold, the medical track came in with the battalion and quickly became the focal point for treatment and extraction of the wounded.  Over 100 soldiers from the battalions were treated by the "Hemostat Hilton."
   On Operation Diamondhead the battalion command post moved into a fire support base 7 kms south of Dan Tieng.  During the night the area was mortared.  Over 30 casualties were treated by the aid station, put in litters with blankets and airlifted to the hospital.  Field transfusions were performed on the spot.
   "Fortunately the occurrences are few and far between," said Coyer, "but there have been a few injuries where immediate availability of blood and surgical first aid have probably meant the difference between life and death for the injured personnel."
   Another advantage of the aid station is its capacity to hold MEDCAPs without requiring air mobile transportation to fly in the men and equipment.  Facilities are available to treat virtually all the people except those requiring surgery, x-rays, or long term treatment.
   With the doctor and senior medical specialist always in the field, the line medics also have the opportunity to refresh their memories on little used techniques.  When the Triple Deuces lager for the night or stay in the same camp for a few days the "Doc" will call the men together and go over the various life-saving steps and new techniques available.  The constant cycle of inexperienced medics entering the battalion has made this training an important part of the medics overall ability to perform under fire.

MEDICAL APC - Men of the "Triple Deuces" perform a little first aid on their APC.  In addition to caring for the men of the battalion, the "Hemostat Hilton" crew pulls its own vehicle maintenance.  (Photo by SP4 James Friar) Performing Maintenance



Viet Cong Wheat Goes To Orphans

   2ND BDE - Five tons of captured Viet Cong rice was transferred from the 25th Div's Helping Hand storehouse to the Catholic orphanage in Thu Duc, in what Father John Thien termed as reflective of the attitude of the American people.
   Father Thien is the administrator and spiritual leader of the orphanage which he and Doctor Tom Dooley founded in 1956.
   1LT Phillip C. Grinton, 2nd Bde civil affairs officer who headed the project, stated that word of the immediate need for food was received at division headquarters early in December and the rice had been transferred to Thu Duc by truck.
   Expressing his gratitude for the food, Father Thien said, "It is appropriate that this kindness is evidenced in the Christmas season.  I want to thank you on behalf of the children, the other fathers and myself for your selfless gesture."
   Emphasizing the Father's statement, Grinton feels that rice is more than a gesture in Vietnam - it means life or death to people.  Grinton then explained that this particular rice had been uncovered in the Iron Triangle during Operation Atlanta by elements of the 2nd Bde.
   About the origin of the rice, Father Thien said, "It is fitting that children orphaned by the Viet Cong should benefit from the rice captured from the Viet Cong."


Artillery Medic Aids Civilian

   DIV ARTY - A Vietnamese civilian was hurt in an accident recently in the village of Go Dau Ha and the call for help was answered by Alpha Btry of the 3rd Bn, 13th Arty.
   SP4 John Eckmann from Collinsville, Ill., explained, "I was returning from Go Dau Ha with Specialist Johnson when we passed a crowd of Vietnamese standing on the side of the road.  I looked closer and saw a man lying in a ditch."
   He stopped the truck and learned that the elderly man was thrown from his motor scooter by a passing vehicle.
   "The man was badly hurt and I thought his leg was broken so we sent for the battery medic," recalled Eckmann.
   Medical Corpsman Robert Blount arrived with several cannoneers a few minutes later from the nearby fire support base occupied by A Btry.
   "When I arrived the man was still sprawled in the ditch but some Vietnamese people had wrapped crude bandages around his thigh in an effort to staunch the flow of blood," said Blount.  It took Blount's practiced hands only a few short minutes to aid his patient.
   The artillerymen then placed the injured man on a stretcher and transported him to a Vietnamese hospital where his condition was later described as good.

Cpt. (Dr.) Jack Coyer ROVING DOCTOR - Dr. Jack Coyer, the doctor with the "Hemostat Hilton," checks out a little Vietnamese girl during one of the many MEDCAPs held by the roving medical track.  (Photo by SP4 James Friar)



25th MEDCAP Sets New Record

   2ND BDE - When a civil affairs team held an impromptu Medical Civic Action Program (MEDCAP) in the tiny hamlet of Soui Da, 112 kms northwest of Saigon, they didn't realize that it would turn out to be one of the largest single MEDCAPs in the history of the 25th Div.
   Shortly after the 1st Bn (Mech), 5th Inf, moved into Soui Da at the start of Operation Yellowstone, civil affairs personnel began planning activities for the hamlet.
   Civil Affairs Officer 1LT Stan McKee from Atlanta, Ga., explained that his team set up the MEDCAP in the village square without the benefit of prior announcements.
   As one medic exclaimed, "The place looked deserted and the chances for a good MEDCAP certainly looked slim."
   "The first thing I did," says McKee "was find the village chief, and through an interpreter I explained what we were there for."
   Given a loudspeaker, the chief walked through the hamlet announcing the MEDCAP.  McKee described the initial group of patients as a trickle which increased until it became a steady flow that lasted for four hours.
   By the end of the day, McKee reported that his team had treated 486 patients and given out 500 bars of soap, several pounds of candy and 2,000 agricultural and livestock pamphlets.


Page 4-5                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           January 22, 1968


The Foot Soldier





Page 6                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           January 22, 1968


Truce Violations Delay GI's Meal

   CU CHI - Viet Cong in the Boi Loi Woods broke the Christmas truce and delayed Christmas Dinner three hours for cavalrymen of the 25th Div operating 45 kms northwest of Saigon.
   Alpha Troop, 3rd Sqdn, 4th Cav, had been operating on Highway 19 southwest of Tay Ninh City before and during the Christmas Truce.  There had been several incidents prior to the truce and a large amount of rice and assorted building materials had been discovered.
   CPT Louis J. Sturbois of Cheyenne, Wyo., the troop commander, instructed his men not to recon by fire during the truce in accordance with policy.
   Tank 26 was outposting a sector of the small road on Christmas morning when it was hit by a RPG-2 antitank rocket.  After elements of the troop returned fire the area was thoroughly searched with negative results.
   At 11:30 a.m., the troop's first sergeant sent a truck to the various platoons with Christmas presents from the American Red Cross.  The troop commander in one armored personnel carrier (APC) and the executive officer, 1LT Dean Guynes of Hazelhurst, Miss., in another APC, escorted the truck.
   At 12:10 a.m. the Viet Cong fired another rocket from the side of the road hitting Sturbois' right number 4 road wheel.  The rocket passed under the personnel carrier and knocked out road wheels on the left side of the machine.  No one was hurt.
   Sturbois' machine gunner, SP4 Nery J. Brennis of Baysmoni, P.R., returned fire immediately.
   "I am convinced that Brennis got the man," Sturbois said. "He sprayed the area from which we could still see smoke from the rocket launcher."
   Before the area could be reconned, the troop's command post in position up the road, came under RPG-2 and small arms fire.  Gunships and rocket ships from the Sgdn's Delta Trp (Air) were called in.  They received fire.
   The firelight continued for another hour and a half.  A troop spokesman estimated the enemy force to be in excess of 30.
   After the fireworks, Sturbois directed an extensive search of the entire area.  The cavalrymen found one VC KIA, one CHICOM AK-50 with four magazines, and several documents.
   The squadron intelligence officer, CPT William Coomer of Fort Thomas, Ky., identified the force as elements from the 93rd Rear Service Group from the captured documents.  He has been in the field with the troop the entire week.
   During the attacks and the firelight, Christmas dinner was delayed.  "The mess sergeant and his men had been up until 4:30 a.m. Christmas morning preparing it," Sturbois said.  The troop's mess had been moved to the field during the operation.
   After an exciting Christmas day, the men of Alpha Trp set down at 3 p.m. to a meal of turkey, cranberry jelly, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie.
   "It was a fantastically good meal," said Sturbois, "and well earned," he added.


These VC Weapons Rather Odd

   2ND BDE - Tunnel rats have found some old and rather odd weapons in the Iron Triangle, according to one 25th Div company commander.
   CPT Peter Gleezer, the 1st Bn, 27th Inf's Alpha Co commander from Alexandria, Va., says his men are turning up an odd assortment of weapons during search and destroy missions, 45 kms north-northwest of Saigon, where the division is conducting Operation Atlanta.
   "We went through one tunnel and found a 1916 French rifle with a barrel as long as one of the old Kentucky Long-Rifles," explains Gleezer.  "Old Charlie must have had a hard time getting ammo for it, because it had an AK-47 round in the chamber that looked like it had exploded when it was fired."
   Gleezer also reported that his company found a 1917 Winchester rifle with a carbine stock and a homemade barrel, as well as a .25 cal. pistol and a .45 cal. automatic with a nail for a firing pin.
   "About all these weapons are good for," Gleezer feels, "are for souvenirs."


COL Brownell Is Spt Cmd CO

   CU CHI - COL James R. Brownell assumed command of Spt Cmd, 25th Inf Div, in ceremonies recently conducted at that headquarters.  He replaces COL Leonard R. Daems Jr., who has assumed command of the 3rd Bde.
   COL Brownell joins the 25th Inf Div following an assignment with the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington, D.C.  Prior to this, he has served with overseas commands in Europe, Japan and Korea, and has been awarded the Legion of Merit and Army Commendation Ribbon with oak leaf cluster.
   COL Brownell is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, the Air University, the Air War College, and the Command and General Staff College.  He has received a master of science degree in Civil Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a master of arts degree in International Affairs from George Washington University.


They Zap Big Python

   2ND BDE - "Hey, there's a snake up here."
   "How big?"
   "Don't know."
   "It's coming your way."
   PFC Jon D. Wrentmore of Cleveland, jumped up on a log and swung the muzzle of his M-16 in every direction from which the snake might be slithering.
   "I see it," yelled PFC Kenneth Green Jr. of Jonesboro, Ark., as he joined Wrentmore on the log.
   After firing a magazine of M-16 ammunition and two-M-79. grenades, the two 25th Div infantrymen left their perch and checked the battlefield.
   "He measured 12 feet," says Wrentmore.
   They packed the python in a plastic bag and carried it back to the 2nd Bn, 27th Inf's base camp.
   To the victor go the spoils.

Engineers repair bridge IN THE SWIM - Men from Co D, 65th Engr Bn, struggle against a river current to repair a pontoon bridge near the 25th Div's 3rd Bde base camp at Dau Tieng.  (Photo by SP4 James O'Neil)



Page 7                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           January 22, 1968


Landing Zone
HIDDEN FROM THE ENEMY - Soldiers from the 2nd Bn, 27th Inf "Wolfhounds," move from a landing zone toward a wooded area screened by smoke from a helicopter.  The assault took place near the Oriental River on Operation Saratoga.  (Photo by SP4 Joe Carey)



554th Engineers Resurface Vietnam's Route 19

   554TH ENGR BN - Traffic on Route QL 19 is moving a lot smoother now due to the efforts of the 554th Engr Bn (Const).
   Route 19 connects Trang Bang with Xom Bao Don.  In early December, 125 men with 45 earthmoving vehicles from Bravo and Alpha companies, convoyed from their Cu Chi base camp to a camp near the village of Go Dau Ha.  Their mission was to repair and resurface Route 19, using a laterite and peneprime process.
   Shortly after setting up camp, the engineers conducted soil tests which showed laterite deposits located near the road which was to be resurfaced.
   Dozers were employed to remove the over-burden under which the laterite was located.  Front-end bucket loaders were then able to move in and begin loading the dump trucks with laterite.  In the ensuing weeks, the dump trucks hauled over 9,000 cubic yards of laterite from this and other pits which were later opened.
   The process of resurfacing a road of this type, begins as the dump trucks deliver the laterite.  Then, graders and dozers take over, spreading, widening, upgrading and smoothing out the new surface.  Later, a peneprime solution is sprayed on the road to help solidify the surface and maintain dust control.
   The engineers placed a total of 320 feet of steel culvert under the roadway during the operation in order to improve drainage.
   Even though they had 45 pieces of heavy equipment operating daily on the road, the engineers made sure that Route 19 remained open to local traffic throughout the entire period.

Dumping Laterite LATERITE LOAD - Because of its iron-rich content, laterite is best suited for secondary road material.  Here another load is dumped on Route 19 by the 554th Engr Bn.  (Photo by SP4 Thomas Keller)



VC Using Old "Medic Cry" Trick

   1ST BDE - A Viet Cong trick of trying to get a medic out in the open, almost cost SP4 Randall (Doe) Dunphy of Seattle his life when he started to answer a call for help.
   At the peak of an enemy assault on the 25th Div's 4th Bn, 9th Inf "Manchu," base camp at Bo Tuc, 128 kms north-northwest of Saigon in War Zone C, Dunphy was in a command bunker scanning the area to his front for Viet Cong.
   "When I heard a yell for a medic," explained Dunphy, "I started out towards the sound, when bullets started zipping by me.  I dove for my bunker and realized that Charlie was playing games with me.
   "That was the last game those VC will ever play," snapped machine gunner SP4 Charles Woodruff.  "When I heard those shots, I opened up with my M-60 to cover Doc."
   At daybreak, the men found four Viet Cong bodies not more than 20 feet from their position.
   "That's what I call close-in fighting," says Woodruff.
   Dunphy mumbled, "I'd say it was a close call."

HAMMERS AWAY - SP4 Thomas Joy mans a jackhammer on Route 19 near Trang Bang during a resurfacing operation conducted by the 554th Engr Bn.  (Photo by SP4 Thomas Keller) SP4 Thomas Joy



Page 8                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           January 22, 1968


Enemy Kept On The Move During 1967

by SFC Roy Doupe
   CU CHI - The 25th (Tropic Lightning) Inf Div ranged far and wide over the four provinces west and northwest of Saigon to the Cambodian border in its continuous search to find and destroy the elusive Viet Cong foe during 1967.
   From its home base in Hau Nghia Province the division staged operations, ranging from company-size search and destroy missions to multi-division operations throughout the adjoining provinces of Long An, Tay Ninh and Binh Dunne.  And, as the year drew to a close, combat-hardened elements of the 2nd and 3rd Bdes were deployed north in Phuoc Long Province to counteract a flare-up of communist activity in that area.
   During operations such as Fairfax, Gadsden, Cedar Falls, Junction City and Manhattan the Tropic Lightning troopers penetrated the Pineapple Patch, the Filhol Plantation, the Iron Triangle, the Ho Bo and Boi Loi Woods, the Michelin Plantation and War Zone C where VC influence had reigned supreme for 25 years.  They met and defeated the enemy in his own back yard, destroying fortification systems and base camps that had taken him years to construct and, through continuous and relentless pursuit, denied him the time needed to build new areas where he could rest and recoup his losses.
   The Pineapple Patch, once a prosperous plantation that was reduced to a swamp by the VC and heavily fortified, is now merely a swamp filled with destroyed bunkers.
   The Filhol Plantation and the Ho Bo and Boi Loi Woods, sanctuaries where the VC formerly mounted their raids on Saigon and retreats where he could lick his wounds and rest and recuperate for further terrorist activities, are now just names on a map as engineer land clearing teams have laid low the rubber trees and dense undergrowth on approximately 17,000 acres.
   In addition to the major operations, each brigade conducted a monsoon offensive, that started in May and ended in November.  The 1st Bde's Operation Barking Sands covered the north half of Hau Nghia Province.  The 2nd Bde conducted Operation Kolekole in the rest of Hau Nghia and Long An Provinces while the 3rd Bde, during Operation Diamond Head, held its combat assault and Revolutionary Development missions in Tay Ninh Province and northwestern Binh Duong Province.
   Since the beginning of the year the 25th Inf Div has destroyed more than 20 VC base camps while killing more than 4,086 Viet Cong.  Other figures show that 25,000 fortifications and 1,900 tunnels were found and blown up with an additional 10,700 meters of tunnels destroyed.
   Among the myriad items of material that were captured and either destroyed or evacuated were: 3,113 tons of rice, 7,900 mines and booby traps, 2,147 individual weapons and 668,408 rounds of small arms ammunition.
   An integral part of the combat operations were the pacification and Revolutionary Development programs aimed at winning the confidence of the people of the provinces.  Medical Civic Action Programs (MEDCAPs) were conducted throughout the division's area of operations and 148,000 persons were treated for illnesses ranging from the more serious sicknesses to minor cuts and scratches.
   Surveys of villages were made to determine their needs, schools were rebuilt or repaired, dispensaries were opened, wells were dug or cleaned out to insure an adequate water supply.  Whenever possible the local villagers supplied the labor but when the project was beyond their capabilities Tropic Lightning troopers stepped in to get the job done.  The whole program was designed to demonstrate to the Vietnamese people that the division is here to help them rebuild their country instead of destroy it as VC propaganda had led them to believe.
   Two of the most notable accomplishments during the year occurred during Operation Diamond Head, at Dau Tieng In Tay Ninh Province, and Barking Sands, at Phu Hoa Dong in Binh Duong Province.
   The VC used three villages near the Div's 3rd Bde base camp at Dan Tieng as stopping points for supply trains headed for War Zone C.  To eliminate these rest stops the 334 residents of the villages were relocated to the resettlement area at Lai Thieu just outside Saigon.  Nothing was left behind as they took along oxen, water buffalo, chickens, dogs and all their household goods.
   Phu Hoa Dong, a village of 10,000 was estimated to be 80 per cent VC or VC sympathizers and was a vital link in the supply route into Saigon.  Following a seal and search of the town every resident was registered and ambitious civic actions program initiated.  The town was quite spread out and the inhabitants that lived in the heavily forested north and west sections were relocated to the more open southeast section.  The vacated sector was then leveled in a land clearing operation that included part of the Filhol Plantation.
   As 1968 begins the 25th Inf Div stands ready to strike anywhere, anytime to demonstrate that the VC's terrorist tactics cannot succeed and to show the Vietnamese people that their lives need not be made up of days waiting for the VC tax collectors to come around, or sleepless nights waiting for the next raid.

Captured Weapons Just a few of the weapons that were captured after the battle of Soui Cut by the 3rd Bn, 22nd Inf "Regulars."  The condition of the weapons shows that the Viet Cong were well equipped.  (Photo by MAJ Bernard Rhees)


Map of Battle At Soui Cut
This is a map of the 10-hour battle of Soui Cut. At least 382 Viet Cong of the 271st and 272nd Main Force VC Regiments were killed in their abortive attempt to overrun the fire support base. (See story Page 1)



Thanks to:
Andy Barber, 2nd Bn., 27th Inf. for sharing this issue,
Kirk Ramsey, 2nd Bn., 14th Inf. for creating this page.

This page last modified 01-08-2006

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