TLN.JPG (37996 bytes)

Vol 4 No. 33                TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                August 18, 1969



Unit                   Page Unit                  Page Unit                  Page Unit                  Page
1/5                            1 2/22                         1 242 ASH                 6 4/23 Photos             7
1/5                            1 2/22 Photo               1 242 ASH Photos      6 4/23 Photo               8
1/5                            8 2/34                         2 312 RF                    3 4/23                         8
1/5                            8 2/49 ARVN             1 312 RF                    3 40th Med Bn            4
125th Signal Bn         3 2/49 ARVN Photo   1 4/23                         3 40th Med Bn Photo  4
2/14                          1 25th Med Bn            3 4/23                         6 725th Maint              3
2/14                          3 25th S&T                 3 4/23 Photo               7 Phu Cuong Photos    3
2/14                          8 25th Avn Bn             8 4/23                         7 Medics - Photos       4
2/14                          8


Mash 22 in Crescent
       Top-Flight ARVN Unit Works with Bobcats

   TRUNG LAP - After eight hours of hard fighting, an ARVN Battalion cleared 22 NVA soldiers out of their hideout northwest of here and destroyed 20 well-camouflaged bunkers in the process.
   The companies from the 2d Battalion, 49th ARVN Regiment, which were recently brought into the 25th Division's area of operations, were aided by the U.S. 1st Battalion (Mechanized), 5th Infantry.  The two units conducted the operation where 49 enemy soldiers had died less than two weeks before.
   FORMERLY AN NVA rest area, the land had been leveled to piles of rubble marked with bomb craters.  But intelligence reports indicated the enemy was back again.
   The two elements, led by Battalion Commander Major Liem and his U.S. counterpart Major Richard F. Keller, Harvre, Mont., were airlifted into the region after preliminary air strikes and artillery softened the area.  Two companies of the 2d Battalion, 14th Infantry, were helilifted into the vicinity, north of the key objective.
   The Vietnamese troops had hardly advanced 1,000 meters from the LZ when AK-47 fire cracked open against them.  The troops reacted quickly and killed three enemy.
   "THEY GOT THEM as they were moving through the outskirts of the objective," said Keller.  "They were not wearing NVA clothes, but one of the men carried identification indicating he was born in North Vietnam."
   Using steep-sided bomb craters for cover, the units moved on toward the major objective, but resistance was strong.  At one point the ARVN were receiving small arms and RPG fire from both sides.  Two Vietnamese soldiers were wounded in the initial encounter.
   "Major Liem pulled back his men and requested more U.S. artillery," said Keller, "and we gave it to him."
   While the Battalion Command unit waited for the big guns to start pounding the area, ten bodies were uncovered lying in the open.  A German-made machinegun was also discovered.
   THE HOLED-UP NVA continued to resist after the second barrage of artillery rained down on them.  When the ARVN troops re-entered the contact zone, the fight was not over, but they met the resistance capably.
   "The men were great," said MACV adviser 1st Lieutenant Ralph Parmagiani, Brooklyn, N.Y.  "They were aggressive and moved in right away to root the enemy out of their spider holes with grenades and small arms."
   By 5:00 o'clock in the afternoon, the former enemy had been vacated for a second time and rendered more useless than before.
   TWENTY-TWO NVA were killed during the operation and eight AK-47 rifles were destroyed.  The ARVNs also collected five B40 rockets, eight 82mm mortars, a machine gun and several documents.
   The 2d Battalion, 49th ARVN Regiment is the first regular government military unit from the 25th ARVN Division to operate this far north of Saigon.  Since they entered the Fire Brigade's AO on August 1, they have compiled an impressive record.
   "It's the best Vietnamese unit I have ever worked with," said 1st Lieutenant James T. Carter, Columbus, Ga., Bobcat Liaison Officer.  "And I'm sure the fine work will continue."

ARVN troops land CRACK ARVN troops hit the LZ.  (PHOTO BY SP4 KARL KARLGAARD)
SWEEP - Men of the 2d Battalion, 49th ARVN Regiment advance on a hot spot.  (PHOTO BY SP4 KARL KARLGAARD) Moving forward



Bobcat Claymores Take Toll
By SP4 Dennis Dibb

   CU CHI - Ingenuity and quick thinking made it possible for members of the 1st Battalion (Mechanized), 5th Infantry Scout Platoon to overpower the point element of an estimated Viet Cong platoon recently.
   Staff Sergeant David Hutton of Ft. Meyers, Va., leader of the night patrol, reported, "Everywhere we had been finding obstacles placed across the road just outside the village of Andok and a well-used trail running north and south.  There was no cover near the road so we spliced together some claymore wire.  That enabled us to set our mines right on the trail, but we were a safe distance away."
   The patrol had been set up for only a few minutes when they spotted a group of Viet Cong crossing the road.  They waited until the enemy was right on top of the claymores before they opened up with small arms and blew the mines.
   When the fight was over, Hutton detained one Viet Cong suspect and made up a quick sweep of the area.  The patrol found five enemy bodies, including one of a VC officer, a pistol and two AK-47 rifles.

Deuces Trump Cong Cache
By PFC Dennis Bries

   TAY NINH - Working through an area recently cleared by rome plows, troopers from the 2d Battalion (Mechanized), 22nd Infantry, located a huge enemy ammunition cache buried near a tunnel complex.  The Triple Deuce soldiers were working with a Regional Forces company in the Crescent area, 13 miles east of Tay Ninh City.
   A tail fin of a rocket-propelled grenade that had been exposed during heavy rains was the clue that led the men of Charlie Company and their Regional Forces counterparts to the cache complex.  One large cache was surrounded by four smaller cache sites.
   The Crescent has long been known as an enemy hiding place and until recent clearing operations was largely inaccessible to mechanized units.
   Triple Deuce infantrymen worked a full afternoon handing the enemy supplies out of the holes.  Included in the find were six cases of oil, 71 mortar rounds, 135 57mm recoilless rifle rounds, 50 75mm recoilless rifle rounds, 433 complete RPG-2 rounds, 87 RPG-7 rounds, 142 rifle grenades, over 9,500 rounds of AK ammunition, over 6,000 rounds of .51 caliber ammunition, 58 Chicom grenades and two anti-tank grenades.  In addition, 206 quarter-pound blocks of TNT were blown in place.
   The main cache had three to four feet overhead cover.  All positions were well-camouflaged.  The underground complex consisted of a tunnel and separate rooms which had the appearance of a hospital.
   Captain Kenneth Helm, Triple Deuce historian from Louisville, Ky., said, "This is definitely the largest cache this battalion has found in the last two years."
   Lieutenant Colonel John C. Eitel of Newburgh, N.Y., battalion commander, commented, "This is the most successful combined operation we've had with district Regional Forces units, and we're looking forward to many more, hopefully with equal success."

Maj. Villalon Enrique, Cpt. Kenneth Helm MEDICAL SUPPLIES - Major Villalon Enrique of Honolulu and Captain Kenneth Helm of Louisville, Ky., examine the contents of a medical cache found by elements of the 2d Battalion (Mechanized), 22d Infantry, and the 309th Regional Forces Company in the Crescent area, 13 miles east of Tay Ninh City.  (PHOTO BY PFC DENNIS BRIES)



Don't let the lull in recent enemy activity lull you into a false sense of security.  Safety takes no holiday.  DEROS.  Do it the safe way.



Page 2                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           August 18, 1969



CPT Paul R. Allen, HHC, 2d Bn, 12th Inf
1LT Terry E. Cory, HHS, Btry, Div Arty
1LT Kendall E. Hatton, 1st Bn, 8th Arty
WO1 Tom H. James, Co A, 25th Avn Bn
WO1 John A. Driscoll, Jr., Co A, 25th Avn Bn
SGT Michael P. Swim, HHC, 25th Avn Bn
SP4 Louis H. Anderson, Co A, 25th Avn Bn
PFC Phillip Langston, Co A, 25th Avn Bn
CPT Kenneth E. Willingham, Co B, 1st Bn, 5th Inf
SGT Jesse Uptigrove, Co A, 1st Bn, 5th Inf
SGT Michael T. Mitchell, B Trp, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav
SGT Benjamin Manuia, Co A, 1st Bn, 5th Inf
SP4 Robert E. Casner, Jr., Co C, 1st Bn, 5th Inf
LTC John E. Mann, HHC, 2d Bn, 12th Inf
CPT Thomas H. Grace, Co A, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
CPT Robert L. Berg, HHC, 4th Bn, 23d Inf
1LT Charles J. Pruitt, B Trp, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav
1LT William R. McCaw, Co B, 1st Bn, 27th Inf
PSG Harvey Black, HHC, 4th Bn, 23d Inf
SSG John H. Lacovacci, HHC, 4th Bn, 23d Inf
SSG George L. Bowling, Co C, 1st Bn, 5th Inf
SP4 Terrence Colangelo, Co C, 4th Bn, 23d Inf
SP4 Salvatore Termine, Co B, 65th Engr Bn
SP4 William Dulaney, Co E, 65th Engr Bn
SP4 Gordon R. Ellis, Co B, 4th Bn, 23d Inf
SP4 Timothy Graskewicz, Co B, 4th Bn, 23d Inf
SP4 David C. Russell, Co B, 4th Bn, 23d Inf
SP4 Tolan Frazier, Jr., B Trp. 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav
SP4 Ronald L. McGuire, Co B, 4th Bn, 23d Inf
SP4 Rudolph L. Riley, HHC, 4th Bn, 23d Inf
SP4 Joseph M. Kukucska, 46th Inf Plt
SP4 Jerry St. Amand, B Btry, 1st Bn, 8th Arty
SP4 Henry L. Hoffer, Co B, 4th Bn, 9th Inf
SP4 Stanley Adams, Co B, 4th Bn, 9th Inf
SP4 Larry A. Croom, B Btry, 1st Bn, 8th Arty
SP4 Augustus C. Pierce, Co E, 2d Bn, 12th Inf
SP4 Robert R. Zareski, Co C, 4th Bn, 23d Inf
SP4 James B. Hill, D Trp, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav
SP4 Richard Burhans, Jr., Co A, 65th Engr Bn
SP4 Malcolm D. Stewart, C Trp, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav
SP4 Cornell F. Cooks, HHC, 1st Bde,
SP4 Eugene A. Bihn, Co C, 4th Bn, 23d Inf
SP4 Cleto Balandran, Jr., B Btry, 1st Bn, 8th Arty
SP4 Dennis M. Drake, B Btry, 1st Bn, 8th Arty
SP4 Ruben Jordan, Jr., Co E, 2d Bn, 12th Inf
SP4 Lloyd Reeves, C Trp, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav
SP4 Daniel M. Lloyd, B Btry, 1st Bn, 8th Arty
SP4 John M. Word, B Btry, 1st Bn, 8th Arty
SP4 Donald N. Pitkin, B Btry, 1st Bn, 8th Arty
SP4 George Depace, Co A, 65th Engr Bn
SP4 Craig Lawrence, Co C, 4th Bn, 23d Inf
SP4 Harrison C. Sogin, D Trp, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav
SP4 Louis P. Dupuy, HHC, 2d Bn, 12th Inf
SP4 Ruben Castro, Co A, 3d Bn, 22d Inf
SP4 Jerome Trainer, Co C, 4th Bn, 23d Inf
SP4 Loris V. Gilbert, Jr., Co C, 4th Bn, 9th Inf



Dreadnaughts Fight for Health
                          Hepatitis: Killer Disease
By Sp4 Carl Detrick

   As a result of the recent outbreak of hepatitis plaguing many countries of eastern Asia and the constant threat of affliction among American troops, the 2d Battalion, 34th Armor's Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel T.G. Smith, El Paso, Tex., decided that it was time to initiate some preventive measures to insure the future health of his men.
   His first step was to organize a research team, headed by the Battalion's medical staff, with the primary objective of determining the prominent causes of hepatitis and what can be done to prevent future cases.
   Acting immediately on the CO's orders, the research team went to work conducting a detailed investigation of the problem.  After digging into the latest medical texts and consulting with various medical personnel throughout the Division, they found that infectious hepatitis is a disease of the liver caused by a virus introduced into the body by consuming food or water that is contaminated by the bacteria from human waste.
   The majority of G.I.'s afflicted consistently fell into two groups.  Combat line troops, who because of their constant movement, have a difficult time practicing the proper sanitary precautions regarding eating habits and the disposal of human waste material.  Secondly, those personnel constantly exposed to Vietnamese civilian food, such as convoy drivers, military policemen, etc., were proportionately higher in hepatitis infection.
   A plan of attack was formulated in an attempt to remove all the causes and to prevent further outbreak of the disease.  Each man in the battalion would be given an informal briefing by the medical staff concerning the causes, symptoms and effects of hepatitis.  Also the Dreadnaught men were cautioned to refrain from eating food that was not mess hall prepared.  The men were urged to wash their hands frequently.
   Additional measures were taken by the battalion to thwart the spreading infection.  Waste was scheduled to be burnt at least once a day.  Potable water containers were strategically placed near the mess hall and latrines to facilitate washing of hands.


vStork.jpg (2787 bytes)Tropic Lightning Tots
The Commanding General Welcomes
The Following Tropic Lightning Tots
To The 25th Infantry Division - As
Reported By The American Red Cross.
Born To:

July 9
SP4 David A. Kern, Co A, 1st Bn, 27th Inf, a girl

July 15
PFC James A. Teller, 44th ITSD, a girl
PFC Larry Williams, Co E, 2d Bn, 27th Inf. a boy
SP4 James R. Renfrow, HHB, 3d Bn, 13th Arty, a boy
1LT William Gilstrap, HHC, 65th Engr Bn, a boy
SP4 Bruce Baker, B Co, 554th Engr Bn, a boy
SP4 David Oberle, Hq, Co A, 725th Engr Bn, a boy
PFC Jose A. Martinez, C Btry, 1st Bn, 8th Arty, a boy

July 16
SP5 Gordon Barr, B Trp, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav, a boy
SP5 Thomas Logan, HHB, 1st Bn, 8th Arty, a boy

July 18
SGT Roy Allen, Co D, 725th Maint Bn, a boy

July 20

CW2 Jack C. Bryan, HHD, 25th Avn, a boy
1LT James T. Carter, B Co, 1st Bn, 5th Inf, a girl
July 21
PFC Craig Bundy, HHC, 25th Inf Div, a boy
1LT Michael Pegues, 116th Asslt Hel Co, a girl
SP4 David E. Alves, 25th Admin Co, a girl

July 22
PVT Jerome Lipiec, 25th Admin Co, a boy

July 24
SSGT Vernon E. Welch, Co B, 2d Bn, 12th Inf, a boy

July 25
SP4 Peter R. Perez, D Trp, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav, a boy
PFC Dennis Monhollen, 25th MP Co, a girl
PFC Perry D. Ingle, Co A, 2d Bn, 14th Inf. a boy
SP4 William G. Bledsoe, Co A, 25th S&T Bn, a girl
PFC David B. Vines, D Co, 1st Bn, 27th Inf. a boy
SP4 Calvin S. Boles, HHC, 2d Bn, 14th Inf, a boy

July 28
SP5 Albert C. Davis, Co D, 2d Bn, 34th Armor, a girl

July 29
SP4 David Flakowitz, Co A, 554th Engr Bn, a boy



Detonator TAKE A CLOSE LOOK at this pressure-detonated, anti-personnel mine.  Finding it was close enough for 2d Battalion, 27th Infantry Wolfhound Private First Class Stephen Klaus of Mount Pleasant, Iowa, but Captain Bruce Langaunet of Great Falls, Mont., probes closer to identify it.  (PHOTO BY PFC CRAIG SAMPSON)



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 Ellis W. Williamson . . . . Commanding General
MAJ John C. Fairbank . . . . .  Information Officer
1LT John C. Burns . . . . . . . .  Officer-in-Charge
SP5 Charles Withrow . . . . . . Editor
SP4 David DeMauro . . . . . . . Asst. Editor
SP4 Ralph Novak  . . . . . . . . . Production Supervisor


SGT Jan Anderson
SP4 Dennis Dibb
SGT Roger Welt
PFC John Frame
PFC Sam Dixon
SP4 K. C. Cullen
SP4 Arthur Brown
PFC Larry Goodson
SP4 Pete Freeman
PFC Richard Sears
SP4 Carl Detrick
PFC Frankie Ditto
PFC Victor Allison
PFC Phil Jackson
PFC Craig Sampson
SP4 Pat Morrison



Page 3                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           August 18, 1969


ARVNs Defend Vital Phu Cuong

   CU CHI - One of the most strategic military positions in the III Corps Tactical Zone was recently placed under control of Vietnamese Regional soldiers after being secured for several years by the Tropic Lightning Division.
   The Phu Cuong Bridge is now defended by the 312th Regional Force Company commanded by Captain Le Van Nam.  Prior to the turnover, the bridge, which spans the Saigon River east of Cu Chi on Highway 8A, had been guarded by Tropic Lightning soldiers from the 2d Battalion, 14th Infantry.
   ENDLESS STREAMS of truck convoys snake across the Phu Cuong, moving urgently needed supplies and munitions, heavy construction equipment and other military machinery back and forth between Saigon, Long Binh and the Cu Chi base camp.
   Lambrettas piled high with people and produce dodge in and out of heavy traffic as the Vietnamese people take their goods to market.
   Many families cross the bridge twice daily going to and from work.
   EVEN PEDESTRIANS enjoy the speed and ease of crossing the murky river by the bridge.  At one time a ferry was the only means of crossing, which cost each traveler both time and money.
   The responsibility of protecting this vital link has now fallen to the South Vietnamese.  To insure that the Regional Forces were ready, the departing Golden Dragons soldiers held classes in tactics and defense of the bridge.
   "It was like an abbreviated Advanced Infantry Course back in the States," said First Lieutenant David Wood of West Palm Beach, Fla., a Golden Dragon platoon leader.  "We gave 12 classes in such things as ambush patrols, reconnaissance in force, use of claymores, M16s, M79s and other infantry basics."
   IN ADDITION to these basic classes, the Regional Forces were shown how to defend the bridge itself.  As the number of Americans at the site was gradually reduced, the Vietnamese took over the duties.
   Now there are only a few Americans at the bridge, advising the RFs on technical matters concerning the defense of the span.
   "The Vietnamese soldiers are learning fast," said Staff Sergeant Danh Truong, interpreter for Delta Company, 2d Battalion,14th Infantry.  "They seem to pay a lot of attention to the U.S. instructors."

THE LOOK of eager anticipation was evident on the faces of the children as they patiently waited for their share of the supplies being distributed by the Tomahawks.



'Hawks Wage Peace Fight

   TAY NINH - For more than a month Tomahawks from the 4th Battalion (Mechanized), 23d Infantry, were engaged in driving enemy forces from Nui Ba Den and Tay Ninh City.  Recently, they got the chance to perform a more peaceful chore.
   When enemy forces entrenched themselves near the holy Cao Dai center in Tay Ninh, some civilian property was damaged.  Some citizens were made homeless and hungry.  The men of the Tomahawks' reconnaissance platoon helped alleviate the situation by donating and distributing over a ton of food and supplies to the people.
   Under the command of Captain Glen H. Fleming of Hampton, Va., the reconnaissance unit worked swiftly to distribute all the supplies.
   Commented battalion commander Lieutenant Colonel G.E. Taylor of Shelby, N.C., "I was concerned with the distribution of supplies, but when I got there it was obvious that Captain Fleming and the village chief were very well prepared.  The village chief had prepared a roster of the civilians who had suffered damage to their property and had systematically listed their proportional need."


Stylish NO SWEAT - Even though the weather was steaming, one venerable old man came to the distribution point in a French dress coat.  (PHOTO BY PFC SAM DIXON)



Moore Wins Skeet Title

   CU CHI - From all over the Republic of Vietnam, 35 select men were called to U.S. Army Headquarters at Long Binh for a special and unusual event.
   The briefing was short.  Weapons would be shotguns rather than M-16 rifles; the enemy, rather than Viet Cong, would be clay pigeons; and unlike a combat operation everyone was to enjoy himself.  The operation: the 100 All-Gauge Skeet Shoot.
   Accepting the call from the 25th Infantry Division to the shoot was Andy B. Moore, Red Cross Field Director at Cu Chi.  Expertly demonstrating that Tropic Lightning strikes "anywhere, anytime," Moore, shooting as lead-off man of the first squad, turned in a perfect score of 100x100 to win the shoot.
   For Moore, who is departing in September en route to Europe, this was a fitting climax to his tour in Vietnam.


4 Support Units Have Birthdays

   Four of the division's support battalions will celebrate their 28th anniversaries Aug. 26.
   The 25th Medical Battalion, the 25th Supply and Transportation Battalion, the 125th Signal Battalion, and the 725th Maintenance Battalion all were officially organized on Aug. 26, 1941, more than a month before the division's organization.

RIGHT - A loaded mini-truck is typical of the kind of traffic sustained by a secure Phu Cuong Bridge, now being defended by Vietnamese Regional Forces.

BELOW - Bunkers, PSP, cat walks and barbed wire are all a part of the mighty bridge that the 312th Company is defending.  (PHOTOS BY PFC FRANKIE DITTO)
Lookout Tower
Phu Cuong Bridge


Page 4-5                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           August 18, 1969




MEDIC!  Heroism is part of his daily routine.  He is the first leg of an efficient, fast, professional medical operation.


Helping wounded on litter IV for wounded
Medevac coming in Giving comfort
Tending wounded Applying a bandage



Page 6                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           August 18, 1969


Muleskinners: Big, Ugly and Vital

By Sp4 Bert Allen

   CU CHI - From the swamps of the Delta marshlands to the top of Nui Ba Den, the CH-47 chinook helicopter has been an invaluable tool for resupply in Vietnam.
   And for the men of Tropic Lightning, chinooks mean the Muleskinners - the 242d Assault Support Helicopter Company.  Operating out of the home base in Cu Chi, the Muleskinners fly missions to nearly all corners of the division area of operations.
   "The Muleskinners support not only the 25th Division but also Special Forces troops, ARVNs, Royal Thai Volunteers and the Australians.  We operate in all of III Corps and down into IV Corps," said Chief Warrant Officer Carl Gillberg of North Plainfield, N.J., a chinook pilot.
   THE CHINOOK IS primarily a cargo-carrying ship weighing over 10 tons.  The craft is capable of carrying 8,000 pounds maximum load at speeds comparable to other lighter helicopters.  The flight crew is composed of an aircraft commander, pilot, flight engineer, doorgunner and crew chief who doubles as a second doorgunner.
   Every 100 hours, complete maintenance inspection is made on each chinook.  Parts are cleaned, inspected and lubricated by the Muleskinners' own maintenance staff.
   "All maintenance is performed right here in Cu Chi by our own mechanics, unlike other helicopter companies," said Gillberg.  "The flight crew performs what is called crew maintenance, changing oil, checking systems and all minor functions.  Our own maintenance section cares for flight systems, power plants and avionics."
   Most Muleskinner missions are cargo-hauling sorties, but occasionally the "big bird" transports troops.  Tropic Lightning soldiers on the summit of Nui Ba Den rely on Muleskinner chinooks as their only artery of supply.  Everything that gets to the top of the mountain goes by chinook.  The sides are impassable.
   TROPIC LIGHTNING'S famed patrol bases near the Angel's Wing - the Diamonds and Frontier City - were built and defended with invaluable assistance from the Muleskinners.  Artillery pieces, ammunition, sandbags, C-rations and even observation towers were brought in by chinooks.
   During recent action on the flanks of Nui Ba Den, troopers from the 4th Battalion (Mechanized), 23d Infantry, were aided by Muleskinner chinooks which dropped cannisters of riot control agent on the entrenched enemy positions, driving the enemy soldiers down into the kill zone.
   The "big birds" look clumsy and awkward next to a sleek Cobra or a shining Huey, but in the war effort, the Muleskinner chinooks' role is vital and undisputed.

UP IN THE AIR - Making a periodic inspection of the rotor assembly in the tail pylon of a Muleskinner Chinook are PFC Rick Piercy of Tipton, Mich., and SP4 David S. Carter of Hampton. N.H.  (PHOTO BY SP4 KARL KARLGAARD) Chinook Tail Rotor
Front Seat View YOU'RE IN THE DRIVER'S SEAT - Specialist 4 Merrill E. Herring, Muleskinner crew chief from Larkspur, Calif., guides a ten-ton CH-47 aircraft from its parking place.  (PHOTO BY SP4 KARL KARLGAARD)



Page 7                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           August 18, 1969


Eagle Flight Arrives
DUSTY - Hueys kick up a dust storm as Alpha Company, 4/23 troops catch an eagle flight to the crest of Nui Cau.


Tomahawks Charged With Security of Nui Ba Den

By PFC Sam Dixon

   TAY NINH - The operation began before daylight.  Soldiers from five fire support bases were roused early from their bunkers to prepare for the day's mission.  Some didn't have to go far, others had dusty rides over narrow trails in the early morning hours.  All were heading for one location: Nui Ba Den, in the heart of Tay Ninh Province.
   Objective of the mission was to check out the east side of Nui Cau, an auxiliary peak of Nui Ba Den, by using reconnaissance-in-force.
   ALPHA COMPANY of the 4th Battalion, 23d Infantry, positioned tracks not far from the west base of the mountain.  From there, the men eagle flighted to the northern-most crest of Nui Cau to Landing Zone Butler, named in honor of the late Tomahawk commander Lieutenant Colonel Albert Butler.
   The Huey helicopters landed three at a time, each making five trips landing the men on LZ Butler.  The transfer of men was accomplished in less than 20 minutes.  The terrain at LZ Butler is extremely rough.  The mountain had been hit heavily with artillery in preparation for the mission, and the area is covered with giant fallen trees, tangles of bamboo and huge chunks of freshly broken granite.  In many instances the Hueys couldn't land because of the terrain.
   THE TROPIC LIGHTNING soldiers immediately set up a tight defensive perimeter.  Then the operation began in earnest.  The plan was to "rif" or recon in force the southernmost crest of Nui Cau and then sweep down the east side of the legendary mountain, searching for evidence of enemy movement.
   The mission proceeded as planned.  The men moved out.  The terrain presents problems that are at times extremely dangerous.  The whole mountain is covered with large boulders and thick jungle growth.  There is almost no solid ground.  It is especially hard to maneuver over such terrain, at the same time keeping a sharp eye out for booby traps and the enemy himself.
   "AT TIMES, the slope of the mountain is more than 45 degrees, which makes going down harder than going up," commented Specialist 4 Joe Ortega of Calipatria, Calif.
   The mountain plays a strategic role in the Tay Ninh area.  The enemy could have an invaluable fortress if he could hold it.  Its elevation is perfect for radio relay.  A company of Special Forces soldiers operates such a station at the peak of Nui Ba Den.
   The caves and rocks of the mountain in the past have been a sanctuary for Viet Cong and North Vietnamese soldiers, but in recent months operations such as this have denied the enemy the mountain's many hiding places.  This time, the operation passed without incident, but it does not always happen like that.  The men left the mountain and returned to their fire support base to wait for another mission.

Going Up Going Down
GOING UP - Members of an M-60 machinegun team give each other a helping hand over the rough terrain. GOING DOWN - Sliding down the mountain is often trickier than going up.
PFC Jose Betancourt Watching
ALMOST THERE - Private First Class Jose Betancourt of Puerto Rico is just about finished with his long climb to the summit. LONG WATCH - A Tropic Lightning soldier provides cover on the side of Nui Ba Den while his element moves through an open area below.  The operation was designed to detect enemy movement and check out the east side of Nui Cau.



Page 8                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           August 18, 1969


Cordon-Searches Fight VC, Illness


Sing-along SING-ALONG - Vietnamese singers entertain large crowds at a Phu Hoa District school yard during a cordon-and-search conducted by ARVN soldiers and Alpha Company, 2d Battalion, 14th Infantry Golden Dragons.  The music was furnished by the Information Services of Binh Duong Province.  (PHOTOS BY PFC FRANK DITTO)


Bobcats Hold 23; MEDCAP Aids Villagers
By SGT Jan Anderson

   CU CHI - In a combined security mission, two companies of the 1st Battalion (Mechanized), 5th Infantry, conducted a midnight cordon of Cay Tram hamlet while two ARVN companies from the District Regional Forces awaited daylight to begin a hootch-to-hootch search for local Viet Cong.
   The operation was designed to reassert government control of the village.  The initial search located 23 Viet Cong suspects.
   Bristling with activity, the village school became the scene for identification checks by National Police and a medical civil action program (MEDCAP) by American troops.
   In addition, 85 cases of American C-rations distributed individually among the villagers made a favorable impression.
   While the hub of activity remained in the school yard, 1/5th's Bravo Company ringed the southern half of the village, and Charlie Company completed the cordon on the north side.  They sloshed through leech-infested water that was waist deep.
   Private First Class Melvin Wintergreen of Saratoga, Fla., commented, "After last night I feel like a sponge.  But if we can catch some of the local Viet Cong, it's worth it."
   The 1/5th Bobcat effort did prove worthwhile.  Of the 23 male villagers detained, 16 of those proved to be on the District list of Viet Cong suspects.  Further tests proved that seven of the detainees had recently taken part in enemy activity.


Bobcats Capture Cache In Follow-up To Battle

   CU CHI - Prowling through an area where a 10-hour battle was fought the day before, Bravo Company, 1st Battalion (Mechanized), 5th Infantry Bobcats found what amounted to the beginnings of an NVA supply depot.
   Detainees taken during the previous day's fighting indicated two battalions of NVA soldiers were massing in a wooded area near Trung Lap, planning to attack a number of U.S. and ARVN installations in the area.
   Specialist 4 Jerry Stevenson of Smithton, Mo., said of the sweep: "We went right back through the same area where we made contact the day before.  Only this time the enemy left the scene and we met with no resistance."
   "There were holes everywhere," according to Sergeant Steven Stubblefield of Cunoga Park, Calif.  "It was obvious that there were many more holes than we had found before.  We had to really scour the area to uncover what we think was most of the holes."
   Stevenson also said, "No one hole contained any great amount of anything.  In one group of holes and bunkers we found 13 anti-tank mines scattered about.  In another area we found nine 60mm mortar rounds in various holes."
   "It was obvious that they were preparing for a lot of action.  We found several large Chicom grenades and with them we even found a can of grease with 16 grease gun magazines," Stubblefield added.
   "We probably could have found much more but some of the holes were booby-trapped, so we just destroyed those tunnels along with anything that was left in them," he said.

EASY DOES IT - Lieutenant Colonel Kell Lovell of Mankato, Minn., extracts a tooth from a citizen during a MEDCAP that was combined with a cordon-and-search of Phu Hoa Duong village. Lt. Col. Kell Lovell



Dragons Join RFs to Clear Phu Hoa

   CU CHI - The cordon-and-search operation again proved recently its effectiveness both in routing enemy elements from villages and at the same time providing supplies and medical aid to villagers.
   This time it was soldiers from the 2d Battalion, 14th Infantry and Regional Force soldiers from Phu Hoa District who attacked the problem of waging war and peace at the same time.
   MAJOR JAMES R. Ballard of Lawton, Okla., District Senior Advisor of MACV III Corps, working with Major Tran Ai Quoc, District Chief of Phu Hoa and the Tropic Lightning soldiers, coordinated a program to cordon the village of Phu Hoa Duong and provide medical aid to its 6,000 inhabitants.
   A security screen was placed around the village at midnight by five companies of Regional Forces and Alpha Company of the 2/14 Golden Dragons.
   At 6:30 a.m., the villagers were instructed to pack their lunch and bring their identification papers to the villagers school.
   ARVN and Regional Force troops began a sweep through the village in search of Viet Cong and enemy weapons caches.  The center of activity remained at the school.
   THE SCHOOL YARD resembled an old-fashioned American county fair.  Huge trees lent shady covers as villagers moved from station to station as their papers were checked.
   A band provided by the Binh Duonc Province Information Services played, and two singers sang Vietnamese songs.
   Concession stands were set up, and villagers treated themselves to snacks between different stages of the program.
   At the same time, a medical civil action program conducted by the Golden Dragons and led by Captain Charles Allison of Lake Park, Minn., treated numerous minor cases, while a team from the 25th Medical Battalion, headed by Specialist 6 Stanley Wysoki of Manville, N.J., concentrated on general diagnosis.  A team from the 40th Medical Battalion, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Kell Lovell of Mankato, Minn., provided dental care for any villager with a tooth ache.
   AN ARVN MEDICAL team treated more villagers, bringing the total to 722 villagers given care during the day.
   Major Tran Ai Quoc's S-2 staff kept all the statistics on the operation and took charge of Viet Cong suspects.
   The screening produced 14 detainees out of 510 males and 466 females who were checked and interrogated.  Three hoi chanhs (ralliers to the government) surrendered to allied forces before the close of the day.
   "Today the Vietnamese civilians in this village saw that the ARVNs can provide protection and security for them," said Lieutenant Colonel Constantine Blastos of Ft. Leavenworth, Kan., the Golden Dragon battalion commander.  "This operation is also a prime example of how effective combined operations of the allied forces can be."

PCS FOR JOHN DOE - Sergeant Robert Adams of Fontana, Calif., supply sergeant for Bravo Company of the 4th Battalion (Mechanized), 23d Infantry, hands over former company pet John Doe to a priest from Cao Xa village.  The soldiers passed the buck to the village zoo when the animal became too large to be kept in Tay Ninh.  (PHOTOS BY PFC JOHN FRAME) Deer and Friends



Tomahawks Put Deer Friend in Zoo

   TAY NINH - The Cao Xa village zoo now has a deer named Doe to add to its animal collection, thanks to the men of Bravo Company, 4th Battalion (Mechanized) , 23d Infantry Tomahawks.
   "John Doe" was just a small fawn when the Tropic Lightning soldiers found him tangled in concertina wire along the perimeter of Fire Support Base Buell, about two miles east of Tay Ninh base camp.  Sergeant John Ligon of Spartanburg, S.C., a squad leader, found the helpless creature and helped nurse it back to health with hand feedings.
   But it wasn't long before "John Doe" became so active the men had to build a fenced-in area with a shed for shelter from the rain at Bravo Company's rear area inside Tay Ninh base camp.
   Finally, they decided to transfer him to the Cao Xa Zoo, run by a Catholic priest.  The deer joined a motley collection of animals including a Gibbon monkey, spider monkey, peacocks and myna birds.  At the presentation swarms of children excitedly gathered to see and pet the new addition.


Night Hawk Choppers Find Prey in Nocturnal Viet Cong

   CU CHI - Night hawk missions - a dangerous and deadly accurate means of impeding enemy night movement - has proved highly successful for men of the 2d Brigade operating from Cu Chi base camp.
   Night hawk means trouble for Charlie.  The UH-1 helicopters supplied by the 25th Aviation battalion are equipped to perform the mission of preventing the enemy from using darkness as an ally.
   Carrying a five-man team of aviators, aerial observers and gunners, the Huey helicopter carries a large, highly sensitive starlight scope and a powerful infrared searchlight system to spot the enemy from altitudes as high as 3,000 feet.
   Every night from dusk to dawn a night hawk patrols the 2d Brigade area of operations.  Men like Sergeant Jim Grusek of Pittsburgh, Pa., peer through the large starlight scope, scanning the countryside searching for enemy.
   "If I see anything with the starlight, I put the searchlight on it, and the firepower is ready to take over from there, Grusek explained.


Thanks to:
Karl Karlgaard, 2nd Bn., 27th Inf., and a Tropic Lightning News correspondent, for sharing this issue,
Kirk Ramsey, 2nd Bn., 14th Inf. for creating this page.

This page last modified 10-30-2004

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