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Vol 4 No. 52          TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS          December 29, 1969



Unit                   Page Unit                  Page Unit                  Page Unit                  Page
2/12 Photo                     1 2/27                                 8 3/4 Cav                          8 4/9 Photo                       3
2/12 Photo                     3 2/27 Photo                     8 3/22                                 1 4/23                                 1
2/12                                3 2/34 Armor                     1 3/22                                 2 4/23                                 7
2/12                                6 2/34 Armor                     1 3/22 Photo                     2 65th Engr Photo            6
2/12                                8 2/34 Armor                    8 3/22                                 3 65th Engr                       6
2/12                                8 3rd Bde                          3 3/49 ARVN                    8 7/11 Arty                        3
2/14 Photo                     8 3/4 Cav                          1 4/9                                   1 Photo Section                4
2/14                                 8 3/4 Cav                          1 4/9                                   3 Kit Carson                      6
2/22                                 1 3/4 Cav                          7    


Armor, Cav Team Up
               Kill 27 Coming Round the Mountain

   TAY NINH - A combined force from Alpha Company, 2d Battalion, 34th Armor and Charlie Troop, 3d Squadron, 4th Cavalry ended in a sizeable cache and 27 NVA deaths during a two-day reconnaissance on the northern slopes of Nui Ba Den mountain.
   On the first day of the reconnaissance mission, Alpha Company came across a squad-size base camp.  While checking the camp out, the men spotted movement above them on the mountain.  They received small arms fire from the unknown size enemy force and immediately returned fire.
   THEIR TANKS in support began firing on the enemy positions.  The infantrymen pulled back and air support was called in.  Air Force jets pounded the positions with their devastating loads of bombs.
   After a few hours of placing fire on the enemy, the men returned to the enemy locations and uncovered ten dead NVA bodies.
   While conducting a sweep of the area, they uncovered a tunnel entrance.  Moving cautiously into the tunnel, they proceeded more than 100 feet and found a complex of rooms.  Before reaching the bottom of the tunnel, they uncovered a good-sized cache.
   THE CACHE included nine RPG-7's, five rifle grenades, 50 pounds of plastic explosive compound, two RPG-2's, five boosters for RPG-7 rockets, one booster for an RPG-2 rocket, one Chinese Communist anti-personnel mine, four bangalore torpedoes, and ten pounds of rice.
   The infantrymen also discovered a radio complete with batteries and a large number of booby traps.
   ON THE SECOND day, returning to the same area, they began receiving sniper fire.  Two light-fire teams were called in to spray the enemy's positions with their mini-guns and rockets.  Ninety millimeter cannon fire from the Dreadnaughts' big guns pounded at the enemy locations.
   Receiving fire from the mountain throughout the day, Air Force jets were called in again and proceeded to blast away at the positions.
   The bombs which were dropped caused many secondary explosions inside the mountain.  In all, there were at least 28 secondary explosions, and 17 more NVA soldiers were found dead.

PFC Samuel Hargrove SLIPPERY WHEN WET - PFC Samuel Hargrove teeters on the brink of disaster atop a footbridge near FSB Pershing.  He's with Company C, 2d Bn, 12th Infantry.  (Photo by PFC Jim Williams)



Allies Scratch Enemy Arsenal

   CU CHI - Fire Brigade infantrymen of Charlie Troop, 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry on a combined operation with the 773 Regional Force from Bao Trai, led by two Hoi Chanhs, broke into an enemy arsenal that yielded more than 300 enemy weapons recently.
   The cache was found in the same area that Alfa Troop, 3rd Sqdn., 4th Cav. uncovered more than two million piasters stashed in the NVA piggy bank a month before.
   Inside the enemy stronghold, the G.I.'s found 309 CKC rifles, six .51 caliber machine guns, a flame thrower, five submachine guns, seven 7.62 carbines, and 26 75mm recoilless rifle rounds plus a number of rockets, artillery rounds and ammunition.
   BASING THEIR OPERATION on intelligence information given by two Hoi Chanhs, Charlie Troop moved into an area south of the Mushroom.  It did not take long to locate the four large metal and concrete reinforced bunkers.
   "The Hoi Chanhs knew right where to go. We just followed their directions," said First Lieutenant James Swinney from Alpine, N.J., commander of Charlie Troop.
   ONE OF THE TROOPERS who found the cache was Private First Class Henry Clark of Chicago, Ill.  "One of the bunkers contained most of the weapons.  There sure was an awful lot of them.  Enough to fill four tracks.  Some were old, but most of them were brand new," Clark said.
   Private First Class Kenneth Bouey of Madisonville, La. was sitting on his armored personnel carrier which was stuffed with the captured enemy weapons.  "All the weapons I saw were in great condition," stated Bouey.  "They were wrapped in plastic and covered with grease and cosmaline.  Most of the rifles were still packed in cases.  The NVA hoped to use them on us one of these days, I'm sure.  Now, he just isn't going to get the chance, is he?"


It Takes A Good Man
                Mini Cav: A Real Life 'Dirty Dozen'

   TAY NINH - "They asked for a good man, and there I was," is how Specialist 4 Henry Milton of Detroit, Mich., a fire team leader from Headquarters Company, 2d Battalion, 22d Infantry, feels about his job with the Mini-Cav.
   Mini-Cav is a twelve-man team of well-armed men which provides a quick reaction force to act on intelligence reports from anywhere in the 25th Infantry Division's First Brigade area of operations.
   The Mini-Cav is led by First Lieutenant Lance V. Noyes of Denver, Colo., who was selected for the job over four other applicants, and Platoon Sergeant Ernest A. Lennon, from Panama.  The unit is made up of selected volunteers from the 1st Brigade's battalions.
   CONSTANTLY ON-CALL, the team can be saddled up and aboard slicks within ten minutes of a called-in mission.  A light observation helicopter and a Cobra go along with the team's two slicks to provide fire support cover while the Mini-Cav troopers work on the ground.
   They might be checking the identification of farmers in the rice paddies; investigating bunker complexes in the jungles; or they might be providing security while National Police or Military Intelligence teams gather information about Viet Cong movement in the area.
   In moves that catch tax-collectors and obtain first-hand enemy intelligence, the two slicks set the Mini-Cav down at Resource control points in farming areas.
   They then "try to catch the enemy soldiers who have intermingled with the civilian population," said Lt. Noyes.
  "We are called the Mini-Cav," explains Noyes, "probably because of the size of our unit.  We are organized like a company, but we are 'platoon minus' size."
   ALMOST EVERY ONE of the men in Mini-Cav volunteered for the job.  Specialist 4 Noel Toro-Medina from Lajas, P.R., a machinegunner for Company B, 3d Battalion, 22d Infantry, volunteered because he decided that "Mini-Cav" is where the action is."
   "It beats being out in the field for three or four days at a time," said Specialist 4 Ronell Frederick, Jr., a rifleman from Chester, S.C. who works with Company B, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry.  The feeling was unanimous among the other men, too.
   "These men are all individuals," he said.  "They think for themselves.  They have to.  There is no platoon or company backing them up.  They have to be able to work as a team - as a unit.  Small, but effective."
   Private First Class Marvin D. Lerch from Vinton, Iowa, an M-79 grenadier of Company D, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry volunteered for the Mini-Cav, too.  "My feet were getting tired of being wet all the time," he stated. "Moving in quickly via helicopter, doing the job, then moving out again is good for my feet...."
   Private First Class Randy L. Marino of Alameda, Calif., a rifleman formerly with the 2d Battalion, 34th Armor "Dreadnaughts," says he would "try anything once.  When they asked me if I wanted to join up, I jumped at the chance."
   PRIVATE FIRST CLASS Daniel McDonald of White Cloud, Mich., who was also formerly with 2/34th Armor, grinned as he said, "They picked the two best men in the outfit, and I am one of them."
   "It sure beats humping the boonies," sums up the way most Mini-Cav troopers feel about their job.  Specialist 4 Jim L. Donahue, rifleman and assistant machinegunner from Watsonville, Calif., volunteered from Company A, 4th Battalion, 23d Infantry.  "When the company commander told me about it, I liked the concept right away," he said.
   Private First Class Jeremiah Bradwell, Jr., a radio-telephone operator from New Haven, Conn., was assigned from Headquarters Company, 4/23 Tomahawks 4.2 mortar platoon.  Like the unit?  "At first, no," he said, "but now that we have worked together for a while, I would not like to switch."
   Not wanting to switch is a feeling shared by Specialist 4 Robert A. Miskowiec, team leader from Minneapolis, Minn., who was assigned from Company B, 3/22 Walking Regulars.
   THE FINAL MEMBER of the team, Private First Class Robert L. Fruchey of Springfield, Ohio, added one more M-79 grenadier to the ranks of the Mini-Cav when he volunteered from Company C, 2/22 Inf.  "When I go out," he said, "I expect contact.  We are ready for contact and a fight.  That is a big part of our job - staying ready."
   Mini-Cav is an experimental unit, conceived by Colonel John E. Tyler, the First Brigade commander.  The success of the unit might result in the organization of several more like it.  But the men of Mini-Cav are proud to be members of the original real-life "Dirty Dozen."


New Year's Eve is traditionally a time to forget the old and celebrate the new.  But one old acquaintance which should not be forgot during 1970 is weapons safety.  One sure way to forget all your old acquaintances for good is to accidentally leave a round chambered while cleaning your weapon.  Be around to celebrate next New Year's Eve back home.  Use common sense and DEROS - do it the safe way.


Jim Donahue, Bob Miskowiec, Bob Fruchey, Earnest Lennon, Henry Milton FARMER HAS A TIP - Mini-Cav men listen as a farmer gives them a lead.  The riflemen are (from left) Sp4 Jim Donahue, Sp4 Bob Miskowiec, PFC Bob Fruchey, PSG Earnest Lennon and SP4 Henry Milton.  (Photo by SP5 Dan DeLaney)



Page 2                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           December 29, 1969



CPT Kenneth R. Farrow, 25th Div Arty
1LT John A. Graham, III, HHC, 25th Inf. Div.
1LT Fred M. Perryman, 25th Div Arty
1SG Jesse Selly, Co C, 2d Bn, 14th Inf SP4 Ernest A. Freeman, Co A, 25th Avn Bn
CPT Jeffrey D. Fuller, Co C, 2d Bn, 14th Inf
1LT John E. Markham, Co C, 3rd Bn, 13th Arty
1LT Lilton J. Marks, Co A, 1st Bn, 27th Inf
1LT Stephen R. Simon, Co A, 1st Bn, 27th Inf
2LT James S. Parker, Co C, 2d Bn, 12th Inf
PSG Nikos Xadzipulus, Co B, 1st Bn, 27th Inf
SGT Thomas Cuthbertson, Co C, 1st Bn, 27th Inf
SGT Raymond D. Gordon, Co A, 1st Bn, 27th Inf
SGT Howard P. Taylor, Co B, 2d Bn, 12th Inf
SGT Arthur R. Pierse, Co B, 1st Bn, 27th Inf
SGT John D. McGeehan, HHC, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
SP5 Michael Stigall, Co A, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
SP4 William R. Ames, HHC, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
SP4 Robert Barret, Co B, 2d Bn, 14th Inf
SP4 Stephen L. Bird, Co B, 2d Bn, 14th Inf
SP4 Robert L. Chavies, HHC, 4th Bn, 23rd Inf
SP4 Robert K. Cochran, Co A, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
SP4 Benny T. Coe, Co A, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
SP4 Jack C. Conway, HHC, 4th Bn, 23rd Inf
SP4 Bruce A. Gallop, HHC, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
SP4 Willie E. Grayson, Co A, 1st Bn, 27th Inf
SF4 Ronald G. Hansen, HHC, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
SP4 Peter J. Hart, Co A, 1st Bn, 27th Inf
SP4 Raymond H. Lewis, Co C, 1st Bn, 27th Inf
SP4 Rosendo Lopez, Co A, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
SP4 William S. Moore, Co A, 1st Bn, 27th Inf
SP4 Lonnie L. Sweat, HHC, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
SP4 Larry J. Webster, HHC, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
SP4 Joseph P. West, HHC, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
SP4 Jimmy L. Williams, Co B, 2d Bn, 14th Inf
PFC Gerald G. Bell, Co A, 1st Bn, 27th Inf
PFC Freddie Devera, Co D, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
PFC Russell Fitts, Co D. 2d Bn, 34th Armor
PFC Edward Furtaw, Co D, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
PFC Luis Lebron, Co B, 3rd Bn, 22d Inf
PFC Wayne C. Lind, HHC, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
PFC Bobby L. Parks, HHC, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
PFC Terry Sager, Co D, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
PFC Charles Scelba, Co B, 1st Bn, 27th Inf
PFC William B. Schultz, Co B, 2d Bn, 14th Inf
PFC Robert Screws, Co D, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
PFC Duncan Roberts, HHC, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
SP5 Paul T. Jones, D Trp, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav
SP4 Michael J. Evans, Co A, 25th Avn Bn
SP4 James Floyd, D Trp, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav
PFC Lawrence W. Nichols, HHC, 2d Bde



Numbah 10 GI
             Black Market's A Bad Bet

   The multi-colored reflections of the neon lights glistened on rain-slick streets.  It was one of those damp, cool Saigon evenings.  The monsoon season was almost over and a late afternoon shower had left small puddles of water in the crowded streets.
   Specialist 4 David B. was making his way through the bustling masses.  It was a Friday night and David always met "Mr. Dong" on Friday nights.
   As he neared the usual street corner meeting place, David was grinning and daydreaming.  Short, he thought to himself.  In 36 days he would be back in the world.  Back to his girl, his family and the old buddies.  He could already see himself in civvies again, telling all his "war stories" to the old gang.
   MR. DONG WAS WAITING, as always, with a smile and a hearty handshake.
   "You numbah one, David," he beamed.
   "Yeah, sure. This is all I could get this time," David replied.
   "No sweat, man," Dong smiled but some of the earlier enthusiasm had vanished.
   David glanced about quickly and then handed Mr. Dong the two cases of soda and the sack containing three cartons of cigarettes.  Dong, his quick mathematical mind clicking, figured up his estimated profit and handed the young specialist a wad of bills.
   DAVID NEVER GOT A CHANCE to arrange for the next meeting or even count his money.  An agent for the Criminal Investigation Detachment stepped seemingly out of nowhere and put a pair of handcuffs on him.
   David was under arrest for dealing in the Black Market.
   At the court martial, he pleaded guilty to selling PX items for his own personal gain and profit.  For several months he had been selling cases of soda, cartons of cigarettes and many other PX items to Mr. Dong - a Vietnamese who owned a small sidewalk shop.  David had picked up quite a bit of extra cash this way.  He was saving the money to help pay for the new car he wanted to buy when he got home.  Only, David would not be going home for a while.
   He was found guilty of violating MACV Directive 60-7 and punished under Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (failure to obey an order or regulation).
   For his dealing in the Black Market, David received one year of confinement at hard labor and a bad conduct discharge.  In addition, he now has a federal conviction that becomes a matter of public record.  His bad conduct discharge resulted in the loss of his veteran's benefits and will probably make it difficult for him to obtain desirable employment, credit, and acceptance by society in general.
   And, David will not be "short" for some time.


Combat Honor Roll

SP4 David S. Saunders   Specialist 4 David S. Saunders has been added to the 25th Infantry Division's Combat Honor Roll for his heroic actions on November 25, 1967, while he was serving as a medic with Company D, 3d Battalion, 22d Infantry, 25th Inf. Div.
   On that date, elements of Company D came into contact with a large enemy force while on a reconnaissance mission.  The enemy soldiers were well-entrenched.
   During the initial engagement, Saunder's company took numerous casualties, and many of the men became pinned down in the firefight's kill zone.
   Maneuvering through the bullet-swept area, Saunders came under intense machinegun and small arms fire as he moved to give aid to the wounded men.  He exposed himself to the hostile fire time and time again as he made repeated trips through the area in order to evacuate injured soldiers to a safe area.
   His actions were responsible for saving the lives of numerous men in his company.


Civvies OK'd

   A recent message from the Department of Defense indicates that effective immediately, civilian clothes are authorized for wear by R&R personnel aboard R&R aircraft enroute to Taipei.  Only Bangkok and Hong Kong now require the military class "B" uniforms.
   So, GI, if you're still worrying because you can no longer get into those snug-fitting khakis of yours, a situation caused from living off of the fat of the land, you can stop.



MEMO: An Education Aid

   WASHINGTON (ANF) - The Department of Defense has joined with the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, and the Veteran's Administration to make servicemen more aware of educational opportunities available to them when they leave the military.
   Under a program called Project MEMO, (More Education, More Opportunity) servicemen will be placed in contact with colleges, universities, trade and technical schools before they leave the service.
   MEMO is aimed initially at servicemen in the Republic of Vietnam. Entertainer Bob Hope launched MEMO during his Christmas trip to RVN with the help of a team of 30 educators and admissions officers from colleges and universities.
   During his shows, Hope recognized the educators in the audience, recommended use of educational benefits offered by the G.I. bill and encouraged servicemen to continue their education.
   MEMO services include:
   • Sending a serviceman's name and address to the schools he lists on a questionnaire, or to colleges and universities in his home state.
   • Providing a serviceman with a list of names and addresses of all colleges and universities in his home state.
   • Telling him how to apply for admission and for financial assistance.
   • Helping an institution find the kind of student it is seeking.
   In many cases, colleges, universities, and technical schools will contact a man while he is still in the military, according to Dr. Gordon Sabine, vice president of Michigan State University and originator of project MEMO.
   The educators will counsel servicemen and assist them in filling out Project MEMO questionnaires.  Servicemen will be advised to fill out a questionnaire about six months before they leave the service.


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:

Dec 11
1LT John Lowe, 26th Asslt. Hel. Bn, girl

Dec 12
SP5 John J. Hussian, 25th Admin. Co., girl
SP4 James Lewis, HHC, 1st Bn, 27th Inf, girl

Dec 13
SP4 John Petz, A Btry, 2d Bn, 77th Arty, boy
PFC Lawrence Summerlin, Co D, 1st Bn, 5th Inf, girl
SP4 Johnny Snow, Co D, 2d Bn, 14th Inf, boy

Dec 14
SP4 Robert E. Faulkner, Co C, 2d Bn, 12th Inf, boy
PFC William C. Redelk, Co C, 2d Bn, 12th Inf, boy
Dec 14
PFC Edward Pinnow, Co B, 4th Bn, 23rd Inf, boy
SSG Keith A Chesser, Btry C, 2d Bn, 77th Arty, boy

Dec 15
PFC Dennis Moneypenny, 25th M.I. Det., girl
SP4 Michael G. Loomis, Co B, 2d Bn, 12th Inf, boy
PFC Norman Jack, Co E, 2d Bn, 12th Inf, boy
PFC Richard Garcia, Co A, 65th Engr Bn, girl

Dec 16
MAJ James D. Knipp, Div Chem Det, girl
SGT Leray Hunter, Co D, 2d Bn, 34th Armor, girl
PFC Foshin Wesley, HHC, 4th Bn, 23rd Inf, boy



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 Harris W. Hollis . . . . . . . Commanding General
MAJ Warren J. Field . . . . . .  Information Officer
1LT John C. Burns . . . . . . . .  Officer-in-Charge
SP5 Harold O. Anderson  . .  Editor
SGT John Genitti  . . . . . . . . . Production Supervisor


SP4 Dennis Bries
SP4 Bill Frame
SGT Bill Obelholzer
SP4 Jim Williams
SGT Wally Baker
SP4 Frank Ditto
SP4 Greg Stanmar
SP4 Phil Jackson
SP4 Pat Morrison
SP5 Tony DeBiasio
PFC Rich Fitzpatrick
SP4 Jeff Hinman
SP4 Ken Fairman
SP4 Doug Sainsbury
SP4 Ken Barron
SP4 Tony Crawford
SP4 Craig Sampson
SP4 Richard Sears
SGT K.C. Cullen
SP4 Dan Neff
SP4 Henry Zukowski
SP4 Brad Yaeger
SP4 Frank Rezzonico
SP4 Joe O'Rourke
PFC Ray Byrne



Page 3                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           December 29, 1969


Teamwork at Tien Thom
             Manchus, RFs Bolster Border Posts

   TAY NINH - When Manchus of the 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry closed Fire Support Base Sedgwick II (Mole City) and became completely mobile, Alfa Company moved into existing Vietnamese installations in the Ben Cau area, 12 and a half miles west of Tay Ninh, near the Cambodian border, to assist in strengthening the hamlets' defenses, and to promote civilian projects in cooperation with the village and hamlet chiefs.
   The Manchus wasted no time and immediately started construction of a new outpost in Tien Thom hamlet, greatly enhancing the hamlet's security.  Sergeant Jerry McCoy of Lobelville, Tenn., said "I was greatly surprised at how easily we and the Regular Forces worked together.  We had the outpost completed in no time."
   Specialist 4 David B. Davis of Ventura, Calif., added, "It was great fun working, and actually being friends with the people of the area.  I've learned a lot while working here and I think that they also have a better understanding of us."
   WHILE WORKING ON THE outpost at Tien Thom, Alfa Company was kept busy with other needed projects. The much used but rapidly deteriorating bridge at Long Hoa was resurfaced with portable steel paving (PSP), making it more durable.  The road between Long Hugnh and Ap Bao, impassable due to flooding, was rebuilt and at Ap Bao hamlet bunkers were built to reinforce its security.
   Health kits were presented by GVN/US personnel on a personal basis to families in the area.  The company medics were constantly helping the hamlet's inhabitants while MEDCAP operations were frequently run in the area, providing medical attention where needed.  Specialist 4 Dennis Beckman of Lakewood Ohio, said he finally felt he was doing something worthwhile.  After helping reconstruct a previously overcrowded school house in the Ap Bao hamlet, First Lieutenant Dana K. McIntosh of Tyler, Tex., along with qualified personnel from the company with the aid of interpreters, presented a program of American history to the schools of the Ben Cau area.  Similarities and differences of the governments and the two ways of life were stressed.
   The overall project has been an immense success. McIntosh put it this way: "This outcome has been the creation of mutual understanding and confidence between the soldier and the Vietnamese."  Alfa Company agrees that this is what was needed in the Ben Cau area and more of it is needed throughout Vietnam.

4/9th Inf build new bridge
AN OLD BRIDGE WITH A NEW FACE at Long Hoa goes back into use.  The men of Alpha Company, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry recently completed laying PSP on the bridge in an effort to make it more durable.  (PHOTO BY SP4 TONY CRAWFORD)


Heading home GOING HOME - Charlie Company Warriors, 2d Bn, 12th Infantry, move toward the pick-up zone after a long day in the field.  (Photo By Sp4 JIM WILLIAMS)



Arty, Infantry Make Dandy MED Team

   TAY NINH - There is nothing unusual about the artillery and infantry working together in a combat situation.
   Recently men of the 7th Battalion, 11th Field Artillery and 3d Battalion, 22d Infantry teamed up for a different kind of a mission in a war against disease.
   Medics from the two units are working together on MEDCAP operations in the hamlets near Tay Ninh base camp.  Specialist 4 Frank Dolan of Ashland, Ky., a medic with the Regulars, says "We go out on MEDCAPs as often as we can, usually for a couple of hours in the morning or late afternoon."  In a one week period they set up clinics at Cu Chi II, Trang Dopp, Trang Sop and two at Binh Trung.
   WHEN ASKED about the program, the 7th Battalion, 11th Field Artillery medic, Specialist 4 James McDermott of St Louis, Mo., said, "It makes things kind of difficult when we can't see the patients regularly, but the people seem to appreciate what we do for them.  Specialist 4 Hector Valesquez, 7/11 medic from Bronx, N.Y., added "I think some of the kids go out and bang themselves up just so they can see us."
   On their last visit to Trang Sop the medics were greeted with enough enthusiasm for a circus, as they came running to check out the approaching ambulances.  One small boy hoisted his pants leg up and proudly pointed to a skinned knee to make sure medics knew that he qualified as a patient.
   A CROWD QUICKLY gather while Staff Sergeant James Jenkins of Ashland, Ky., Private First Class Edward Tibbs of Baltimore, Md., and Private First Class Albert Alderet of Los Angeles, Calif., set up the equipment.  While the medics treated cuts, infections, colds and sore throats, eyes and ears, the villagers gave moral support to patients and carefully scrutinized the proceedings.
   Those who received small boxes of pills or bottles of medication passed them around for approval from friends and relatives.  When the medics were finished and everyone started for home, elated conversations seemed to indicate that it was a big deal to have a visit from the medics.
   Judging from the looks of appreciation on the faces of several mothers whose children were treated, the visit had indeed been a big deal.


Hometown Team Builds at Pershing

   FSB PERSHING - For the infantryman in Vietnam, home is where you dig it.  Or in some cases, build it, if the tactical conditions are right.
   There is no exception for the Fire Brigade Warriors of the 2d Battalion, 12th Infantry as evidenced by the continuous work being done at Fire Support Base Pershing.  There are always big changes being made, and endless refinements; all for security, efficiency, and comfort.
   Four man bunkers are being replaced by bigger eight man bunkers.  Fighting positions are being rebuilt.  Perhaps the two-seater outhouse will give way to a four-seater.
   The big building project at Pershing has been the construction of the larger Tactical Operations Center bunker, which may claim to be the largest of its kind in Vietnam.
   Two sergeants from Grovetown, Ga., Sergeant First Class Harvey Bell and Sergeant First Class Billy Muir are the "master builders."  Bell and Muir have been working on and off together for the past seven years at Fort Gordon, Georgia, and were reunited by "just luck" in Vietnam, according to Bell.
   Both men are in Delta Company and directed the construction of the big bunker together.  Bell, who made the original plans for the 864 square-foot structure says, "It was designed by everybody who came along."
   The job took 2100 boxes of 105mm howitzer ammunition, 4500 sand bags, 48 pieces of PSP, and a lot of sweat and skill.  Muir said, "Man that's big!  You get up on that roof and it's God's little acre."

Col. O. E. SmithCol. Smith Takes Over As 3d Bde Commander

   BAO TRAI - A ceremony that included participation by elements of Vietnamese military units operating in Hau Nghia province saw Colonel Olin E. Smith assume command of the 3d Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, here Dec. 7.
   Colonel Smith comes to the 3d Brigade from Washington, D.C., where he was assigned to the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations.
   A veteran of World War II and the Korean War he has served in Japan, Europe, Africa and Latin America.  He has been on the staffs of the United States Military Academy, West Point, N.Y. and the United States Army Infantry School, Ft. Benning, Ga.
   He is a graduate of the Army Command and General Staff College, the Armed Forces Staff College and the Army War College.  He holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Omaha.
   Colonel Smith is a West Virginia native who makes his home in McLean, Va.  He is married and has two sons.  One son, Captain James Smith, is serving with the 1st Infantry Division in Vietnam and the other is a student at North Georgia College in Dahlonega, Ga.


Page 4-5                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           December 29, 1969


It Was A Very Good Year... for Us


Under fire

CONTACT: Lightning Strikes Again and Again

Mech units engage

'MECHANIZED'-A Word Charlie Dreads!


Firing on Nui Ba Den The Black Virgin-Another NV A Hideout Under Siege
MEDCAP: Building Alliances Through Concern Medics helping villagers
Hueys CHOPPERS: Outstanding Support For Tropic Lightning
And The Beat Goes On . . . RTO
Wet Zone WATER: It's All In A Day's Work



Page 6                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           December 29, 1969


"THE WHISKEY-FIFTH'S IRON BEHEMOTH" - The crew of the Vehicle Tank Retriever gets set for action, main wench taut, as powerful engine builds up revolutions for pulling chore.  The VTR, a crucial part of the 65th Engineer Battalion's recovery section, is almost always on the move bringing in tanks and dozers made immobile by the soggy terrain of Vietnam's lowlands. Vehicle Tank Retriever and crew



Whiskey-fifth's VTR: A 54-Ton Iron Monster

   Rumbling down a rural road, tracks billowing up dust, the big armored vehicle speeds to the scene of distress and answers the call for help.
   The hydraulic whine of its winches is sweet music to the ears of stranded vehicle operators throughout the roads and rice paddies of Tropic Lightning country, where low marshy terrain and high water tables trap tanks and down dozers in less time than it takes to shift to reverse.
   That's why the Vehicle Tank Retriever (VTR) is often on the move.  One of the most active "T.R's" around is the giant workhorse serving the engineering equipment of the 65th Engineer Battalion.  The Whiskey-fifth's iron behemoth, an important part of the Recovery Section of Battalion Maintenance, stands ready to rush to the rescue anywhere from Tay Ninh to Due Hoa.
   "THE CREW OF THE VTR is a hardworking group," says Engineering Equipment Maintenance Officer Captain John L. Vaught of Bridgeton, Mo.
   "They're not only hard working, but highly skilled in the use of steel cables, pulleys, blocks and booms - our answers to problems often involving the movement of hundreds of tons," he said.
   The VTR itself weighs 54 tons and is equipped with dual winches.  The main winch exerts a pulling force of 90,000 pounds through using a steel cable an inch and a quarter thick.  The hoist winch can lift as much as 25 tons with its A-frame boom.
   "Our T.R.," says driver Gary S. Mills of Forest City, N.C. "can even lift a D-7 bulldozer stuck in four feet of mud."
   A 12 cylinder, 2,200 horsepower, GM engine makes this and other difficult jobs possible.  The tank also comes equipped with two tow cables and two tow bars to insure the safe return of stranded vehicles.  "I've seen the VTR tow a tank and an APC in tandem," says crewman SP4 Henry Birmingham of Blytheville, Arkansas.
   THE VTR IS JUST the thing to make a tough task seem easy, but even with this powerful machine the job is often difficult.  On one recent operation near Hiep Hoa and the Sugar Mill the VTR recovered a 20 ton rough terrain crane which had toppled to its side when the shoulder of the narrow road collapsed.
   "This isn't going to be an easy job," said SSG Dennis LaFreniere, Tank Commander of the VTR.  There was no stable ground around the stranded crane except the narrow rural road.  Hours later, however, the upright crane was again ready for the job.
   When the four man crew of the VTR is not on a mission, maintenance occupies its time.  When the crew of the VTR is not working on its own beast, it is often hoisting engines from other vehicles in order to perform maintenance.


Ask Sgt. Certain

DEAR SARGE: Well, my Christmas in Vietnam is over, and I must say I'm disappointed.  Wouldn't you be if your best buddies gave you nothing but a case of deodorant and a gallon of mouthwash for presents?  On top of that, my Aunt Genevieve sent me a hand-knitted sweater to take the chill off the evenings which wouldn't be bad except that it's pink and clashes with my fatigues.  Did you get anything for Christmas you'd want to trade for some of my stuff?
                                                                                                                   Right Guarded

DEAR RG'd: The of sarge did find a treasure or two under his bunker-top tree this year.  My wife sent me three sets of green socks, my son sent me a set of beads and a gold earring, my mother-in-law sent me pictures of her other son-in-law's plushy new house and Cadillac Coupe DeVille, a retired buddy sent me his entire collection of outdated training manuals, and my company commander gave me a new bottle opener.  I'll trade you two TMs on the M-1 carbine for a bottle of mouthwash.

DEAR SERGEANT: I'm writing on behalf of the division's clerks.  What happened to our supply of paper clips?  Whenever we call the main supply point and ask for paper clips, they say, "Sorry, we're out.  Sure you wouldn't rather have a chinook or an eight-inch howitzer or maybe a couple of tanks?"  We can't keep our papers together with leftover mashed potatoes forever.  What's up?
                                                                                                                   Coming Unstuck

DEAR UNSTUCK: According to usually reliable sources in the 225th Paper Clip Resupply Battalion, this too is part of the insidious VC plot to demoralize us.  They figure if they can deprive us of such vital items as paper clips, paper coffee cups, typewriter ribbons and Playboy magazines we'll lose our will to fight.  (There's another part to this campaign, by the way.  Have you ever wondered how all your envelopes glue themselves shut?)  We're fighting back, of course; because of security reasons I can't tell you exactly how they're making sure our paper clips stay in the warehouse, but it all has to do with this big magnet.


Former V.C. Sees Truth

   CU CHI - Tran Minh Hoang, like all young men, was given to fancy.  That's why he joined the Viet Cong when he was only 15 years old.
   Now, Hoang, 20, is a Kit Carson Scout serving with the 3d Brigade.
   "The Americans would rule Vietnam - they would kill all the people."
   That's what the VC told Hoang when they recruited him in Cu Chi.  He knew only the "truth" as the VC told him.  He had finished only the last year of elementary school.
   "I didn't study much history."  The VC told Hoang they would take care of him.
   "I was too young then, I did not know."
   At first, he was assigned to a reconnaissance unit.  Later, he went to a medical unit.  During the 1968 Tet Offensive, Hoang spent five days fighting in Saigon.  That's when his mind started to change.
   "The VC didn't win during Tet as they said they would."  The North Vietnamese Army didn't complete the revolution in two months as they promised when they entered the war."
   Hoang, after much thought, decided it was best to rally to the government of Vietnam.  It was a hard decision to make.  He had been a Viet Cong soldier for five years.
   "None of my family fought for the National Liberation Front.  My brother was a bandsman in the Vietnamese Army. I rallied."
   He believes he did the right thing.
   "I learned the truth about the Americans.  The VC had told me lies.  I realized the Americans would help us."
   Hoang sees no end to the war.  It could go on forever.  But, in a free election, he thinks the Saigon government would be victorious.
   "People are not influenced by the VC anymore.  They have moved out of VC-controlled areas.  They would vote for the Saigon government."


Warriors Hit NVA Icebox

   A local Viet Cong restaurant was forced to change the management recently as Warriors of the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry put it out of business in an operation south of Fire Support Base Pershing.
   Warriors from Bravo Company entered an enemy hideout and discovered the ingredients for no less than 50 hearty meals.
   Private First Class Jasper Tyler of Greenville, S.C. said, "We found a whole load of fish and even two freshly killed snakes!"  The fish came in the form of canned mackerel.  There were more than 50 cans in all.
   After the enemy enjoyed a good meal he could retire to a large underground room equipped with a number of sleeping positions.  The Warriors found the room only a short distance away.
   Operations like these carried out day and night by the Warriors are making it difficult for the enemy to set up business in what was once one of his most profitable locations, the Citadel.


Page 7                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           December 29, 1969


Police, Cav Combining PSYOPS

   CU CHI - Psychologists, by nature, keep their feet on the ground.
   Their patients are usually high fliers.
   But the Mini-Cav is reversing that axiom.  They're the high-flying psychologists of the Tropic Lightning's 3d Brigade Civil Affairs Section.
   The Mini-Cav, a platoon of aero-riflemen from Delta Troop, 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry, worked for the 3d Brigade first as a quick reaction force, responding to sensor readings and intelligence reports.
   NOW, THEY'RE FLYING in support of the brigade's pacification program as well as performing their job as a strike force.
   "We've given them leaflets, Vietnamese flags, T-shirts and other aids to help them get closer to the people when they go on a mission," said First Lieutenant John Q. McShane of University City, Mo., the brigade's psychological operations officer.
   When the Mini-Cav is inserted, they can put psychological operations into effect immediately, McShane said.
   THIS AIRMOBILE CONCEPT enhances our ability to reach people in out of the way areas that we don't get to contact often in the course of our other psyops programs.
   "The presence of the Mini-Cav in these areas invites a feeling of confidence from the people," he said.
   Another object of flying psyops is to show the Vietnamese people that the government of Vietnam is everywhere and has a vested interest in people of outlying areas.
   THE VIETNAMESE NATIONAL POLICE fly with the Mini-Cav.  It gives the people confidence to see both Americans and Vietnamese working together for a common goal," McShane said.
   Right now, the Cav and police are involved in a resource control program, designed to insure enemy soldiers don't get a rice supply from villagers.
   "They're checking to make sure the VC aren't taxing, buying or forcing the people to give them rice.  This is extremely important now during the harvest season," he said.


Groove on Grant's Girls!


Photos By:






Promotion - Family Style

   TAY NINH - On the morning he was to be promoted to captain, First Lieutenant Patrick Butler of Beaverton, Ore., wasn't expecting anything out of the ordinary.
   He was to be promoted by Lieutenant Colonel James Coggins, commanding officer of the 4th Battalion (Mechanized), 23d Infantry, Tomahawks.
   As the promotion ceremony began, Coggins stepped aside and Second Lieutenant Joan Butler, the staff duty nurse at the hospital in Tay Ninh base camp, appeared to pin the bars on her husband.
   Captain Butler was unaware that the battalion had made preparations for his wife to participate in the promotion ceremony.
   They were married in St. Robert, Mo., in June, 1969, after having met at Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo.


Page 8                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           December 29, 1969


NVA Ambush Falls To Tank-Cav Force

   On a reconnaissance in force mission about 1500 meters southeast of their night offensive position elements of Charlie Troop of the 3d Squadron, 4th Cavalry suddenly received small arms fire.
   A tank platoon from the 2d Battalion, 34th Armor and two squads of Infantrymen from the 2d Battalion, 12th Infantry were immediately called to the scene.
   The combined forces began to recon the area by fire.  The enemy returned fire with small arms and RPG's.  As the battle progressed heavy fire teams from Delta Troop were called in three times and two airstrikes were put into the area.
   After the airstrikes the ground elements moved back into the area. A Sheridan was hit by an RPG.  Two men from the 2d Battalion, 12th Infantry were wounded slightly.
   First Sergeant James Williams said, "By this time it was growing dark.  It was decided to move back to our laager site."
   The following morning Charlie Troop moved back to the contact area.  During the sweep bodies of 10 dead NVA were found.  Also 2 RPG-7 launchers were found and 4 RPG rounds.
   Williams said, "I suspect we ran into a well dug in NVA 12-man squad.  We got 10 out of the dozen, and that's not bad at all."


Wolfhounds, ARVNs Working Together
              Destroy Entrenched Enemy Near Border

   PATROL BASE KOTRC - The combined forces of Bravo Company, 2d Battalion, 27th Infantry, and 3d Battalion, 49th ARVN Regiment, and gunships from the 116th Assault Helicopter Company recently destroyed a dug-in enemy force in a pitched battle near the Cambodian border, 18 miles west of Cu Chi.
   "Before we touched down the door gunner nudged me and said that five enemy were spotted in bunkers in a hedgerow," said Specialist 4 Dan Griffin, Essex, Mo., a medic with Bravo Company.
   "After we were on the ground, we advanced on line toward the hedgerow," said Sergeant George Whitley, Kannapoles, N.C.
   "I WAS ON THE LEFT of the line with Whitley and some of the ARVN's," stated Griffin.
   The flank men maneuvered to a bomb crater within ten meters of an enemy bunker without taking fire.
   "It was strange that he didn't fire at us while we crawled.  He had a clear shot, but he waited until we got to the crater," continued Griffin.
   "When they started to receive fire on the left, I worked my way over to give them some help," said Richard Shannon, Topeka, Kan.  "We finally got up enough fire so Griffin and Whitley could get an injured man back to be dusted off," said Shannon.
   "THE JETS WERE SCREAMING in, dropping 500 and 750 pounders up there," said Sergeant Victor Espenosa, Santa Paula, Calif. "The pounding from the explosions was almost maddening," he added.
   Espenosa's squad was pinned down when they were advancing on the enemy.  He maneuvered himself behind the bunker, destroying the position and capturing an RPD light machine gun.
   During the assault on the enemy positions, Private First Class Duane Schindler, Colfax, Wis., knocked out an enemy bunker and then placed fire on a position that had a buddy pinned down, enabling him to escape the enemy fire.
   It was well after dark when the Wolfhounds and ARVN soldiers were air-lifted back to Patrol Base Kotrc.  Along with the enemy dead and the machine gun were found a complete 60mm mortar and sight, two AK-47s, 15 pounds of medical supplies, five pounds of documents, new NVA uniforms, clothing, ammunition and food supplies.

2/14th wait for choppers
WAITING IN THE HOBO WOODS, infantrymen from Alfa Company, 2d Battalion, 14th Infantry secure a landing zone for their still-airborne counterparts.  The Golden Dragons spend a good deal of their time searching out the jungle area in order to find low-lying NVA.  (Photo by SP4 Greg Stanmar)



Crowding Is Hazardous For Charlie

   Overcrowding may be hazardous to your health anywhere in Vietnam.  Enemy soldiers found this out the hard way when Warriors of the 2d Battalion, 12th Infantry trapped nearby two dozen of them in bunkers in recent operations north of Fire Support Base Pershing.
   On the first operation the Warriors of Bravo Company made a surprise airmobile insertion into an area near a suspected enemy stronghold.  As they swept through the area two VC were captured trying to enter a hole.  The captured VC said there were too many of their comrades in the hole already, and there was no room for them to fit.  A total of 86 more enemy were taken out of the tunnel and three killed before the Warriors moved on.
   Two days later the enemy made the same mistake.  Warriors of Delta Company operating in the Ho Bo Woods found a bunker complex without any enemy inside but with a number of signs of recent activity.
   Numerous fresh sandal tracks led from the bunker.  A platoon of Warriors decided to follow the trail.  Sergeant George Little of Chattanooga, Tenn. said, "We followed the enemy's tracks a distance of about 200 meters.  Then we spotted two pieces of bamboo placed in the shape of a `V'.
   "I was sure it was a marker of some kind," Little said.  "So we just checked the area out with a few grenades."  As it turned out the sticks marked the location of a trap door that was located a short distance away.
   "As luck would have it," Little said, "one of our grenades hit right on the trap door.  We found a dead enemy who must have been waiting right at the head of the tunnel.  He was still holding on to an AK-47 when we found him."
   Sounds were still coming from the tunnel so the Warriors tossed in a couple more grenades.  As a result of the action the overcrowded complex yielded one wounded prisoner and a total of 9 dead NVA.


Terrorists Turn Tail
              Dragon Bush Kills 15 VC

   The Viet Cong's terror tactic of forcing civilians out of pacified villages came to an abrupt halt as a result of two ambushes in which 15 of the enemy were killed.
   Sergeant Roy Davis of Spokane, Wash., who acts as liaison NCO between the 1st Battalion, 49th Regiment and the Golden Dragons of the 2d Battalion, 14th Infantry told the story.
   "The communists were trying to come into New Life Hamlet, a village built to accommodate Vietnamese coming in from the countryside, and trying to force the villagers out of the hamlet so they could get them to work for them."
   The first night's ambush was set up just outside the village.  Seven enemy were killed and two AK-47's and one M-79 grenade launcher were captured.
   The second night's ambush resulted in the death of eight more of the enemy and three more AK-47's plus a K-54 pistol.
   Commenting on the action Staff Sergeant William Morgan of Pittston, Pa. said, "The ARVN's did exactly what was required of them, an outstanding job.  You just can't take anything away from the 1st of the 49th's operations in this area."

Wolfhound on patrol A SOLDIER returns to 2d Battalion, 27th Infantry's Patrol Base Kotrc after spending a wet night on ambush patrol.  The Wolfhounds guard against enemy infiltration from the Angel's Wing.  (Photo By SP4 Phil Jackson)




Have A Happy New Year!



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 02-17-2005

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