TLN.JPG (37996 bytes)

Vol 5 No. 12          TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS          March 23, 1970



Unit                            Page Unit                            Page Unit                            Page Unit                           Page
1/5                                             1 2/12                                          8 3/22 Photo                               1 49th ARVN                             4
1/5                                             6 2/14 Photo                              6 3/22                                           1 49th ARVN Photos               4
1/5                                             7 2/34 Armor                              7 3/22 Photo                               1 5-2 Arty                                   1
1/5 Photos                               7 2/34 Armor Photo                  7 3/22 Photo                               2 65th Engr                                 1
1/5 Photo                                 8 25th Inf Photo                        2 38th Scout Dog                       1 7-11 Arty                                 1
1/8 Arty                                   7 25th Inf                                    3 4/23                                            6 75th Rangers                          7
116th AHC                              4 3rd Bde PSYOPS                    8 4/23                                            8 725th Maint                             3
116th AHC Photos                4 3/4 Cav                                     1 4/23 Photo                                6 725th Maint Photo                 3
2/12                                          7 3/22                                           1 44th Scout Dogs                      1 Donut Dollies Photo              8



Food Build Up Broken Down
   Regulars Raid Hidden Base Camp, Re-Route Red Rice

   TAY NINH - It's said that the best way to a man's heart is through his stomach, in which case the hearts of a great number of enemy have recently come under the influence of the 25th Division's 1st Brigade.
   In one of the most significant interruptions of communist resupply channels in recent months, Regulars captured nearly eight tons of enemy rice and destroyed 18 enemy bunkers during a daytime bushmaster operation east of Mo Cong village.
   Alfa Company, 3d Battalion, 22d Infantry, had been airlifted into the area north of Tay Ninh City.  While conducting a search late in the day, the left file followed a trail into heavy bamboo.
   "We've got them in here," yelled Sergeant Richard Hawkins of West Allis, Wis., as his element began taking AK fire from the trees.
   "The firefight lasted only moments," Hawkins said.
   It was getting dark and Captain George Robertson, the company commander, decided to call in artillery for a good ground pounding.
   At first light Alfa moved out across the suspected enemy positions and found the bunkers, cooking utensils and the 16,000 pounds of rice.
   "That's a heck of a lot of NVA dinners," Private First Class James Hardagon of New York City said.
   The main enemy element had scattered while the area was being prepped by artillery.  The communist force left a few snipers behind to guard the rice but they were quickly chased out by the Regulars.
   "The enemy camp had been there about a week," one infantryman said.  "They're trying to set up a base camp near these villages and we keep driving them out; only this time they will be a good deal hungrier than ever before."

IT WAS A RICE DAY - Privates First Class Dennis Crook and Joseph Green, both of Alfa Company, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry, wait for choppers to come and take away the eight tons of rice their company found.  (Photo by SP4 Brian Flaherty) PFC Dennis Crook, Joseph Green



Six Division Units Cited by President

   CU CHI - A Presidential Unit Citation has been awarded to the 1st Battalion (Mechanized), 5th Infantry; along with five other Division and two non-Division units, for valorous action during a one month period in the Summer of 1968.
   General Creighton Abrams, Commanding General, Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, made the presentation March 13th at a ceremony in Cu Chi.
   The award for the period from August 18th to September 20th, states, "The officers and men of the Task Force displayed outstanding bravery, high morale, and exemplary esprit de corps in fierce hand-to-hand combat and counter-offensive action against well disciplined, heavily armed and entrenched enemy forces."
   The Citation goes on to detail the battle of August 21st when the unit fought off an enemy attack, killing 182 Communists in a period of an hour and a half.
   General Abrams, comparing the Presidential Unit Citation to the Distinguished Service Cross, said that the award is given as a "recognition of extraordinary gallantry in combat."
   Pointing out that few, if any, of those involved in the action were present, General Abrams continued, "The activities we recognize today demonstrate the quality of men and leaders who belong to this unit and it is a stimulus for us to uphold and honor what those before us have accomplished."
   The present commander of the 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Bobcats, Lieutenant Colonel Ted G. Westerman, pointed out that his men are fighting a different kind of war today.  He said, "Enemy units are smaller now and they are avoiding contact."
   "Our job now," Westerman said, "is to attempt to suppress and root out the residual forces and thereby allow the GVN (Government of Vietnam) to exercise control over the local population."
   The assisting units receiving the award are: 1st Platoon, Troop A, 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry; 38th Infantry Platoon (Scout Dogs); 3rd Platoon, Company A, 65th Engineer Battalion; 1st Platoon, Battery B, 5th Battalion, 2nd Artillery; 5th Section, Battery D, 7th Artillery; 44th Infantry Platoon (Scout Dogs) and Battery A, 7th Battalion, 11th Artillery.


Enemy Runs, Leaves Tube Behind
      1st Brigade Captures Chicom Menace

   TAY NINH - First Brigade Regulars recently captured a 120mm Chicom mortar tube that had been regularly pounding Tay Ninh base camp for the past few months.
   One recent enemy attack killed and wounded several of the 3d Battalion, 22d Infantrymen.
   Major Carmen Cavezza, the battalion Operations Officer, directed preparations to capture the mortar tube at the first opportunity.  Practice night eagle flights and nightly ambush patrols were conducted in the suspected vicinity of the enemy weapon by the Regulars' Bravo and Delta Companies.
   "The men were well trained and prepared," one infantryman said.  "Most important, they were motivated and very determined."
   "The most difficult part was the wait," another man said.  "Night after night we went out waiting to pounce on the enemy the moment he gave his position away."
   The Regulars' patience paid off one night recently when the enemy began lobbing 120mm mortars into Tay Ninh base camp shortly after one a.m.
   Two ambush patrols received good readings on the Communist position, and one of them immediately opened up.  At the same time Cavezza directed two choppers filled with Delta Company troops to leave the base camp and head for the hot spot to set up a blocking position.
   The infantrymen, landing within 500 meters of the firing site, forced the enemy to scatter northward.
   As the Communist force dispersed a third friendly force picked up their movement and opened fire.  The enemy was on the run and Bravo Company, led by Lieutenant Les Wright, was in hot pursuit.
   The mortar tube was discovered during a search of the enemy position shortly before daybreak.

Capturted mortar tube THE END OF A TUBE - Two members of the 3d Battalion, 22d Infantry, haul away a 120mm Chicom mortar tube which had previously been used by the enemy to harass Tay Ninh Base Camp.  (Photo by SP4 Brian Flaherty)



Enemy Lays Egg

   TRANG BANG - Soldiers of the Light Mobile, Special, Airborne, Reconnaissance Mechanized Command (LIMOSPAIREMECHCOM) recently discovered a cache of high protein rations 11 miles east, southeast of Trang Bang.
   The find yielded 75,000 hard-boiled eggs, 6 large, waterfilled vats, 14 pounds of dye and 69 wax pencils.
   The keeper of the lair escaped through a tunnel opening as LIMOSPAIREMECHCOM approached.
   Lt. Natty Bumpo, of Cooperstown, N.Y., an Army dietician assigned to the unit, termed the discovery "one of the most profitable ever in terms of protein count."  He added that the cache contained enough protein to feed all the soldiers in War Zone C through April 1st.


Page 2                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           March 23, 1970



Thomas J. Kubeck, B Co, 3rd Sqdn, 4th Cav Steven Leaply, HHB, 3rd Bn, 13th Arty

Daniel V. Kelly, A Co, 25th Avn Bn

Raymond S. Cabanban, A Co, 25th Avn Bn

Corwin A. Mitchell, HHT, 3rd Sqdn, 4th Cav  
Edwin Chapabitty, Jr., HHS, 3rd Bn, 13th Arty
Myron L. Scott, A Co, 2d Bn, 14th Inf
Anthony Franceschi, B Co, 3rd Bn, 22d Inf
John S. Jacoby, C Co, 3rd Bn, 13th Arty
Joseph M. Murphy, A Co, 2d Bn, 14th Inf
Glenn J. Ramsey, 25th Admin. Co.
Harold E. Reid, A Co, 2d Bn, 14th Inf
William D. Richardson, A Co, 2d Bn, 14th Inf
Randy C. Brackin, A Co, 3rd Sqdn, 4th Cav
Robert S. Burns, B Co, 3rd Bn, 22d Inf
James G. Denny, C Co, 65th Engr Bn
Floyd E. Childress, A Co, 3rd Sqdn, 4th Cav
Roger Clements, B Co, 3rd Bn, 22d Inf
Robert E. Falconer, A Co, 2d Bn, 14th Inf
Larry K. Greene, C Co, 3rd Bn, 2d Inf
Darrell F. Gilliam, D Co, 4th Bn, 9th Inf
Harry John, C Co, 65th Engr. Bn.
John R. Merrill, D Co, 4th Bn, 9th Inf
James B. Quellhorst, HHC, 4th Bn, 23rd Inf
John G. Wilkes, A Co, 65th Engr. Bn
Harold A. Whitley, B Co, 3rd Bn, 2d Inf
Marcus Scofield, C Co, 3rd Bn, 22d Inf
William R. Sinden, C Co, 3rd Bn, 22d Inf
John L. Schafer, C Co, 3rd Bn, 22d Inf
Dennis J. Smith, C Co, 3rd Bn, 22d Inf



Dead Letters?
    Error Mail Haunts GI's

   If the post office in Vietnam has ever returned any of your outgoing mail, then there are a few things you should know.
   Military personnel in Vietnam are authorized to send letters free of postage anywhere in the world.  Letters which have in-country or stateside addresses must have your full military return address written on the upper left corner of the envelope and the word "Free" typed or printed in the upper right corner.
   If you are sending the letter to a foreign country, however, do not mark the word "Free" in the upper right corner of the envelope.  The post office will mark it appropriately for you.
   Although there is no size limit for "Free" letters, the contents must be personal correspondence.  This means that you are not authorized to enclose merchandise, newspapers, magazines, or advertising materials in an envelope marked "Free."  You may, however, enclose clippings from newspapers or magazines.
   Photographs of any size may also be mailed free of postage.  But when you do send photos home, make sure that the envelope is marked as follows: Personal Correspondence - Photos Enclosed.  Otherwise, the envelope may be returned to you.
   There are size and weight limits for parcels.  The regulations say that packages must be less than 70 pounds each and the combined measurements of length and girth must not be more than 100 inches.
   Parcels which weigh more than 25 pounds should be banded with steel bands or at least be tied up with a heavy cord or rope.
   Remember, too, that the only kind of tape which is acceptable for use of registered mail is paper tape.  Registered packages must be covered with brown paper, and all the seams must be covered with tape.  Registered letters must be sealed with tape at all the seams, but only up to and not including the intersection of the flaps on the envelope.
   The decision to accept or reject mail which violates the regulations is left wholly up to mail clerks at the post office.
   So in order to make sure that your letters and parcels are accepted at the post office, get them marked, taped and packaged properly - the first time.


Three College Classes Will Begin March 30th

   A 25th Division soldier interested in beginning college or adding credits to his college record doesn't have to wait until he leaves Vietnam to begin studying.
   The Army Education Center at Cu Chi has announced three college courses will begin March 30: English Composition 001, Business Enterprise 010 and Introduction to Mathematics 010.
   All three courses are for three semester hours of resident credit from the University of Maryland.  Classes will meet for three hours two nights a week for eight weeks.  Class times will be 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. and will be held at the Education Center.
   Costs to students include $15 tuition ($45 more is paid by the U.S. Government) and a $10 matriculation fee if the student has never been enrolled in a University of Maryland course.  The cost of books ranges from $10.50 to $18.30 depending on the course.
   Any serviceman with a high school diploma or the equivalent may register at the Cu Chi Army Education Center until March 30 without penalty fee.  A fee of $10 will be charged for late registration through the second class session.
   For more information contact your education officer or the Education Center in Cu Chi at 5143.

FATHER JAMES KLEFFMAN, chaplain for the 3d Battalion, 22d Infantry, is usually on the move.  While he's away he leaves the "Boss" in charge of his Re-up office.  "Appointments aren't necessary, as a matter of fact, the Boss will come to you wherever you are," Kleffman said.  (Photo by SP4 Brian Flaherty) Good Advice!


SP David Outlaw, Maj. Louis Crook, SP5 Alan Sheriff AN OUTLAW, assisted by a Crook, takes $700 from a Sheriff at the division finance office.  Specialist Four David Outlaw (left), Camden, S.C., assigned to HHB, Division Artillery, reenlisted for three years.  Major Louis M. Crook, Jr., McCrory, Ark., deputy division finance officer, reenlisted Outlaw.  Specialist Five Alan Sheriff San Diego, Calif., a reenlistment finance clerk, gave Outlaw his variable reenlistment bonus.  (Photo by Gary D. Sciortino)



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:

Mar. 3
SP4 Ronald L. Jones, B Co, 3rd Sqdn, 4th Cav, boy

Mar. 4
SP4 James L. Davis, 46th Scout Dog Group, boy
SP4 Danny G. Doyle, B Co, 4th Bn, 9th Inf, boy

Mar. 6
SGT George Dufer, HHC, 1st Bn, 5th Inf, girl
SGT Gary McElligot, C Co, 4th Bn, 23rd Inf, girl
SSG Ellis Lawson, B Co, 735th Maint. Bn, boy
SP4 John Jamros, 242 Asslt. Hel. Co, girl
PFC Robert West, C Co, 4th Bn, 9th Inf, boy
PFC Gary L. Roberts, B Co, 2d Bn, 12th Inf, girl
Mar. 7
SP4 Johnny Passmare, A Btry, 7th Bn, 11th Arty, girl
SP5 Riter Matson, 587th Engr. Co, girl

Mar. 9
CPT John H. Maddox, HHB, 1st Bn, 8th Arty, girl
SP5 John E. Davidson, 548th Light Maint. Co, boy
SP5 Hubert Walker, A Btry, 7th Bn, 11th Arty, boy

Mar. 10
SP4 Wendell Magee, A Co, 4th Bn, 23rd Inf, girl

Mar. 11
PFC Charles H. Campbell, A Co, 65th Engr. Bn, girl



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 Caspari . . . . . . . . .  Officer-in-Charge
SSG Stephen F. Veroczi . . . . NCOIC
SP4 Charles C. Self . . . . . . . . Editor
SP4 Gary D. Sciortino  . . . . . Assistant Editor


SP4 Dennis Bries
SGT Bill Obelholzer
SP4 Jim Williams
SGT Wally Baker
SP4 Greg Stanmar
SP4 Phil Jackson
SP4 Jeff Hinman
SP4 Doug Sainsbury
SP4 Ken Barron
SP4 Greg Duncan
SP4 Brad Yaeger
SP4 Frank Rezzonico
SP4 Dan Neff
SP4 Henry Zukowski
SP4 Joe O'Rourke
PFC Ray Byrne
SGT William E. Zarrett
SP4 Robert Caplin
SP4 Brian Flaherty
SP5 Pat Morrison
SP4 Rich Fitzpatrick
PFC Rob Lato



Page 3                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           March 23, 1970


Save Valuable Time
     Platforms Prevent Damage To Sheridan Power Packs

   CU CHI - Dust and the bumpy road from Cu Chi to Fire Support Base Wood formerly caused additional damage to Sheridan tank power packs which were being sent to 725th Maintenance Battalion for repairs - but not now.
   Two men of the Service and Evacuation Platoon of Headquarters and Alfa Company, 725th Maintenance Battalion, have designed and constructed two metal platforms upon which the power packs are mounted when they are transported to Cu Chi for repairs.
   A Sheridan tank's power pack consists of the engine and the transmission which are attached so they can be lifted from the tank at the same time.
   "When 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry sent power packs down from FSB Wood for us to repair, they were simply placed on the bed of a two and one-half ton truck," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Dewey B. Buttram from Columbus, Ga., the platoon's Ordnance Shop Technician and designer of the platforms.  "It is about 30 miles from Cu Chi to FSB Wood and the only connecting road is dusty and bumpier than a scrub board.  Consequently, the power packs were banging around in the back of the trucks causing damage to radiators, lines to the engines, and oil pans."
   Specialist 5 Leo E. Young of Springfield, Ohio, the Senior Body Repairman for the platoon who constructed the platforms, claimed that the excess damage to the power packs often delayed repairs.  "Some of the parts which were broken were hard to attain and had to be requisitioned," he said.  "This could cause a tank in the field to remain out of operation for as long as two or three weeks."
   "In designing the platform, I had to make it so that it would hold the power packs stable," remarked Buttram.  "At the same time, it had to be strictly mobile."
   "It turns out that with the new platforms a Sheridan power pack could feasibly be picked up as a slingload by a helicopter and be dropped off without receiving any damage whatever," stated Young.
   A canvas dust cover has also been improvised to protect the power packs from dust.

CWO2 Dewey Buttram, SP5 Leo Young THE FIRST SHERIDAN POWER PACK is fitted onto the platform which was designed to save such packs from excess damage while in transit for repairs.  The 725th Maintenance Bn's Chief Warrant Officer 2 Dewey B. Buttram (left) from Columbus, Ga., the designer of the platform, fits the engine into place.  Meanwhile, Specialist Five Leo E. Young of Springfield, Ohio, prepares to lock the transmission section of the pack into its mounts.  (Photo by SP5 Gary D. Sciortino)



Home Away from Home
    Shelter for Civilians Operating at Cu Chi

   CU CHI - The 25th Infantry Division has opened a center to house innocent civilians who have been detained for questioning.
   The recent opening of the Innocent Civilian Center (ICC) at Cu Chi Base Camp marks the end of almost two months of planning and construction and the beginning of a long period of improved Vietnamese-U.S. relations.  The ICC was planned and built for one reason: to offer comfort and security to Vietnamese nationals who are detained by Tropic Lightning troops operating in the field, until transportation is made available to return them to their homes.
   The idea was conceived by Major General Harris W. Hollis, Commanding General of the 25th Infantry Division, who originated the concept while he was Commanding General of the 9th Division.  The Cu Chi ICC offers a relaxed feeling for the Vietnamese civilians and their families who stay there.
   Construction of the Center was supervised by Sergeant First Class Donald Neal of Columbus, Ga., Civic Action Operations Sergeant, who is also responsible for taking care of the ICC's guests.  Working with Bravo Company, 65th Engineers, Neal and his men worked many hours to complete the center quickly.
   During the day Neal is assisted by Miss Li Troi Chan, known as Miss Mai, who acted as a consultant during construction.  "I never made a move unless I first checked with Miss Mai to see if it was okay," Neal said.
   The young Vietnamese girl acted as interior decorator when it came to finishing the inside of the main dormitory advising Neal and his men as to what kind of furniture should be used and how it should be placed to achieve the "Vietnamese look."  Consequently the motif of the Center is about as native as one can expect, with Vietnamese beds and bedding, kitchen utensils and reading matter.
   Guests can sleep, shower, eat and relax at the Center.  The ICC is equipped with separate shower and bathroom facilities for men and women.  Towels and shower kits with a toothbrush, comb, soap and a washcloth are supplied.
   Miss Mai handles the cooking and the menu, which does not include chipped beef on toast.  The food, like everything else at the center, is Vietnamese and comes from caches found by Tropic Lightning troops or is purchased on the open market.
   There is also a day room, used for reading or radio-listening, but also equipped with toys and games for children.
   "Everything we've done here is for our Vietnamese guests," Neal said.  "We don't want to impress them with American luxury.  We just want them to feel at home, that's all.  We hope that they realize that while they may have been detained for questioning, they are our guests and will not be mistreated.  There are no guards here, no MP's.  The people who stay here are free to enjoy themselves."


Mountain Top Troop Makes Sundaes Daily

   NUI BA DEN - Someone is making ice cream on top of the Black Virgin Mountain.  Sergeant Lynn Miles of Mesa, Arizona, air traffic controller on Nui Ba Den, fabricated a crank-type ice cream freezer to treat himself and his buddies.
   This unique field expedient was made from a cracker can, parts of an old tape recorder, insulation packing from mortar fuses, parts of a discarded VHF antenna and an M16 cleaning rod.
   Initiation for the machine was in early January, when 1/2 a gallon of vanilla ice cream was produced.  Miles called the initial attempt, "a rousing success."  Ingredients included milk, sugar, evaporated milk, vanilla and lots of ice.  The original attempt has been followed up by the production of root beer floats and chocolate ice cream.


MOBILITY in all situations is vital. This trooper is ready to move out. Taking a break



Page 4-5                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           March 23, 1970


Mobility Is Key to Success
     ARVN's learn Fast the Need for Speed

   In the five years American forces have been fighting in Vietnam the concept of air mobility has proved itself time and again.  With the Vietnamization of the war, this lesson is being taught with great success to the government forces.
   "The ARVN's have really improved," said Captain Allyn Arnold, Wichita Falls, Tex. Arnold is 2d platoon leader for the 116th Assault Helicopter Company.
   "They used to take their time loading and getting off a chopper.  But they have rapidly learned the reason for quickly getting off the craft and into the dirt."
   "Sometimes they (the ARVN's) can get overzealous," said Warrant Officer Gary T. Grant, Olympia, Wash.  "Today we had one get off while still ten feet above ground."
   Another pilot told of once looking out his side window while still high in the air and seeing a young ARVN soldier staring at him from the other side of the glass.
   "He was standing on the landing skid to be able to get off the chopper when it landed," said the pilot.
   On the day that story was told, the 116th was flying 49th ARVN Regiment soldiers into the Ho Bo Woods area formerly a favorite center of operations for the 2d Battalions of the 12th and 14th Infantry.
   One mission of the ARVN,'s involved an air assault into a contact between Cobra Gunships and NVA soldiers.  The Vietnamese soldiers' restlessness to get off the craft paid off this time.  Within minutes after departing the helicopters they were thoroughly immersed in a firefight.
   The efficient ARVN sweep soon silenced the Communist guns.

Story by
SP4 Greg Stanmar

Photos by
SP4 Jeff Hinman


Landing Zone
Coming in too fast


Get off fast  
Ready for pickup  


Mount up!



Page 6                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           March 23, 1970



Sounds at Night No Sweat for 'Cats

   DAU TIENG - If you are not sure how well your jeep is tuned, drive up the road leading into Dau Tieng Base Camp late some night.  The operators of the radar unit at the bridge will hear your jeep clearly enough to check the tune while you are still miles away.  Of course, within a couple minutes artillery would be falling on your position, eliminating the need for a tune-up.
   Such is the effectiveness of the radar unit of the 1st Battalion (Mechanized), 5th Infantry which operates nightly on the outskirts of Dau Tieng Base Camp.
   A team of men takes turns watching two small screens and listening to a constant rushing sound over a pair of headphones.  When the continuous roar is broken, something or someone is moving.  The scan of the scope is locked in on that spot and two built-in computers are activated.  One gives the exact azimuth to the movement.  The other gives the range in meters.  Then comes the hard part:  identifying what the movement is.  Unfortunately, there is no training manual defining the different sounds.
   Bobcat radar team leader, Staff Sergeant Lehman Powell of Gower, Oka., explains it this way: "Experience is all you can rely upon.  You tell an ox-cart by the way it squeaks.  No one can tell you what something should sound like.  You have to learn each sound yourself."
   From dusk to dawn the team takes two hour shifts watching the set.  During the day the men rest, pull maintenance and practice identifying movement.  They are trained at schools in Long Binh and Cu Chi.  But experience is so significant that a new man is not left alone monitoring a set until he has more than a month OJT.
   Specialist 4 Jay Faulkner of Haney, British Columbia, says, "Sometimes it gets kind of boring listening to that roar for hours, but when you spot enemy coming towards your position, call in "arty" and the movement stops, you feel like you've done some good."

MOM CALLING - Amidst a bushmaster communications system of the 2d Battalion, 14th
Infantry, Specialist Four Stephen Colvey listens to a tape sent from home.  By plugging
an earphone into his company radio headphone he manages to be in two places at once.  (Photo by SP4 Greg Stanmar)
SP4 Stephen Colvey



Tomahawk Cooks Makum Meals

   TAY NINH - It is often said that being a cook must be great.  After all, you have access to tremendous amounts of food and things such as ice for that warm coke.  But, under the glossy exterior, the job of cooking for the Tropic Lightning Tomahawks of the 4th Battalion (M), 23rd Infantry, isn't nearly as nice as it may seem.
   The cooks of Delta Company, for example, get up at least two hours before anyone else to insure that all the Tomahawks will have a hearty breakfast.
   Before the stoves have cooled or the breakfast pots washed, head chef, Staff Sergeant John Britt of Sandersville, Ga., is already thinking about the evening meal that has to be prepared.
   Besides the difficulties encountered in the normal preparation of a large number of meals, there are also other problems that are peculiar to Vietnam.  For instance, if the Vietnamese mosquito could talk he would assure you that he is always a welcome and honored guest in any mess hall in Vietnam, even if the cooks disagree.
   Fighting to keep the food pure and otherwise braving the problems of the day, the cooks give the word, "chow's ready", and then try to avoid the frantic rush of the Tomahawks.
   As the evening draws to a close, the men are writing home about the chow they had for supper and probably complaining.  Yet, faintly in the background you can hear the banging of pots and pans as the cooks use the last rays of light to finish cleaning the large mound of cooking utensils and to prepare for the early breakfast the next day.


Ask Sgt. Certain

DEAR SGT CERTAIN:  Having spent the last eight months out in the field, I have now been switched to a soft office job.  The problem is that I have to clean the office every evening - sweep, dust and mop.  I've forgotten how.  Can you offer some advice.
                                                                                         SPEC DIRT

DEAR SPEC:  The Army has come to your rescue with TM 5-609, Military Custodial Services Manual.  This book lays down rigid rules for sweeping including the frequency and the average space per hour that should be covered.  Page 37 is dedicated to dusting, with appropriate pictures and diagrams.  There is also a section suggesting the best mopping strokes.  There are three pages on washing walls, and the book ends with a special section on latrines offering five steps to be followed in cleaning porcelain fixtures.  A Department of Defense study showed manual trained personnel saved the military several man hours last year.

DEAR SGT CERTAIN:  I realize that this might be out of your line, but I was wondering if I might inquire as to what to do in my dilemma.  Last week at mail call I received a "Dear John" letter from my mother.  What should I do?

DEAR TUNA:  Do not become upset.  Women have always been fickle by nature.  Sometimes a clean break is a good idea and easier on both of you.  If you were quite attached you might give her a second chance, of course it is possible you just weren't cut out for each other.


Page 7                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           March 23, 1970


Allied Tactics Foil Enemy
     Bobcats Leave Tracks and Go Straight Leg

   FSB PINE RIDGE - When the Viet Cong band together in a large-sized unit, they are met with comparable large Allied units.  Similarly, when the VC break down into small units and conduct guerrilla operations, they are met with the same style of warfare.
   This challenge stood before a number of 25th Infantry Division units at Dau Tieng when they recently moved to their new area of operations.
   The area has few civilians and has long been used by the VC for resupply, hospitals, and "rest and recuperation" centers.  The vegetation is so thick in many sections that a mechanized unit is unable to efficiently penetrate it.
   The answer was Task Force Warrior.  Atop one of the Razorback Mountains stands Fire Support Base Pine Ridge - the nerve center of the operation.  It is manned by one company of the 2d Battalion, 12th Infantry, along with Alfa Battery, 1st Battalion, 8th Artillery.  The Warriors wait there as a reactionary force if any of the units need assistance.
   The units of operation are: the Reconnaissance Platoons of the 1st Battalion (Mechanized), 5th Infantry and 2d Battalion, 12th Infantry along with two elements of the 75th Rangers.  Each day a unit is air-inserted into the A.O.
   Recently the Bobcat Recon Platoon made its first such mission.  The mechanized troops left behind their APC's and donned heavy packs which held three days of supplies.  The unit was inserted in two two-ship airlifts.
   The men from the first lift sprang from their ships and set up a hasty perimeter in order to protect the landing zone for the next lift.
   Soon, the units merged into a staggered file and headed out towards the woodline.  As they moved into the foliage they found their new A.O. thick with underbrush and covered with a heavy canopy of vines.
   All around security was set up as the Bobcats broke for chow.  Unpacking a meal of C-Rations, Specialist 4 John Ludwig of Bemidji, Minn. commented, "The more I eat, the lighter my pack gets."
   After chow, one team secured the site while the other reconned the area.  The line of troops weaved its way through the thick brush sometimes resorting to "all fours" and even the "low crawl" to get through.  The Bobcats located a "tree house" which the VC had been using as an observation tower.
   As the sun set, the men set out claymore mines and figured out their guard schedules.
   The next day, the team which had stayed behind the previous afternoon went out on a recon mission up the western side of one of the Razorback Mountains.  Meanwhile, at the ambush site, the other team spotted five NVA in uniforms led by two VC guides crossing an open area 400 meters away.  Since the enemy were too far away to effectively engage with small arms, a request for a light fire team was made.
   That afternoon the unit moved out to a new ambush site overlooking two frequently-used pathways.  The Bobcats quietly set up in their camouflaged position until noon the next day.
   Early that afternoon, the men heard the welcome roar of Huey slicks.  The soldiers returned to Dau Tieng for a shower, a cooler of beer and soda and two days of rest before the next mission.

ON GUARD at all times, Private First Class Joseph Viotto of Menasha, Wis., a machinegunner for the 1st Battalion (Mech), 5th Infantry, recon platoon breaks through the brush on one of the Razorback mountains northwest of Dau Tieng.  (Photo by SP4 Rich Fitzpatrick) PFC Joseph Viotto
On patrol SADDLED UP and moving out, these troopers from the recon platoon of the 1st Battalion (Mech), 5th Infantry, check out an area between the Razorback Mountains and the Saigon River.  (Photo by SP4 Rich Fitzpatrick)



Rollin' Along Together
Dreadnaughts Move


   BEARCAT - Powerful M-48 tanks of the 2d Battalion, 34th Armor, recently became part of the 2d Brigade arsenal working out of this basecamp five miles southeast of Long Binh.
   They came from the 1st Brigade's Fire Support Base Buell in Tay Ninh province.
   The Battalion road marched more than 100 miles from Buell to Bearcat after an advance party established a home for the Dreadnaughts here.  The main body was up and moving before sunrise several days later.  As light broke they were approaching their first stop, Fire Support Base Hampton, an old home for the battalion.
   There the armormen checked over their vehicles and stretched their legs.  The break was short and soon the tanks were roaring down the road again.
   By late morning they had lumbered past division base camp at Cu Chi.  Farther on, they made another maintenance stop and ate chow at Fire Support Base Emory which the Dreadnaughts built last year.
   After a meal of C rations and cans of pop the Dreadnaughts moved on.  Near Long Binh the column turned on to highway 316 which has four paved lanes, traffic lights and signs reading "Keep Right Except to Pass" - a sharp contrast to the rice paddies, jungle and dirt roads of Tay Ninh province.
   It was late in the afternoon when the Dreadnaughts, aboard tanks and tracks, arrived here.  Bones ached from the 9 hour ride as the armormen banged dust off each other.
   After checking their vehicles they broke for a long awaited hot meal and then bedded down for the night.  The next morning the line companies - Headquarters, Alfa and Bravo - were off to start new operations as part of the Fire Brigade.

End of a long day
ROAD MARCH - More than 100 vehicles travelled more than 100 miles as the 2d Battalion, 34th Armor Dreadnaughts made a day-long journey from Tay Ninh to Bearcat.  (Photo by SP4 Bob Silberblatt)



Page 8                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           March 23, 1970


Kit Carson Scout
   A FeatherInTomahawks'Cap

   TAY NINH - Lee Van Cong rallied under the Chieu Hoi Program to the South Vietnamese government about five months ago.  His six man patrol had been wiped out by an American ambush in the Crescent area and the next day he appeared in Tay Ninh to permanently change his loyalties.
   Bravo Company 4th Battalion (Mech), 23d Infantry was the lucky recipient of this Chieu Hoi, for shortly afterward Cong was selected as the senior Kit Carson Scout for the Company.  He advises the company's Kit Carson Scouts and is able to explain problems that are inevitable with the language barrier.  He's accustomed to leading men, as he was a platoon sergeant for his VC company which operated in the Ben Cui rubber plantation.
   The second platoon speaks highly of Cong.  Sp4 Tom Regan of Queens, N.Y., commented, "Cong pulls guard on our ambushes and he insists on walking point on our sweeps."
   SSG. Steve Jenkins of Morgantown, N. C., added, "Our platoon won't go anywhere without Cong.  He knows the area well.  Besides that he carries extra ammo and his ability with all the U.S. weapons has come in handy."
   Recently Cong was on an ambush patrol when they encountered an enemy force of unknown size.  Scout Cong crawled onto the trail the enemy had used, to bring more effective fire on the enemy, thereby exposing himself to their hostile fire.  When the ambush patrol relocated to a more secure position, Scout Cong remained behind to establish a flank position and in so doing denied the enemy the opportunity to outflank the patrol.  Cong remained in his position until a reactionary force reached him, although he had expended all his ammo.
   For his bravery and aggressiveness Cong received the Bronze Star Medal for heroism from the Assistant Division Commander of the 25th Division, Brigadier General Michael J. Greene, in ceremonies at FSB Rawlins.


Size Eleven Shoe Stills The Patter of Little Feet

   TAY NINH - I was in my Night Reclining Position when I heard the enemy approaching.  They are called "friendlies" but that is just a nickname.  They really aren't friendly.  They are a ruthless enemy that devour everything in their path.
   To my front I saw a squad size element silhouetted against the moonlight as they moved on line across the floor of my bunker.  My heart beat faster as I reached out in the darkness for my weapon.  I clutched my flashlight in my left hand and my weapon, a shower shoe (Men's individual, type II, size 11, two each) in my right hand (I'm ambidextrous).
   I could hear their footsteps approaching in the darkness and I waited for them to put a feeler in my direction.  With a flick of the switch I directed a blazing shaft of light onto the enemy's, position.  They were panic stricken.  They stood motionless for a split second and then started running helter-skelter all over the floor running into each other in their haste to reach the safety of their own lines.
   Then I opened up on them. Blam, Blam, Blam, three quick swats and I had chalked up three enemy dead.  Smack, Squash, Squish and another one died and two more were wounded but moving out fast in spite of broken limbs and crushed torsos.
   The fight didn't last long, two minutes at most.  When it was all over I had racked up a body count of four confirmed and two blood trails.  It brought my average up.
   This was, and is, part of the nightly bunker battle between a battalion of cockroaches (the friendlies) and myself.  So far the "friendlies" have suffered heavy losses but for me it is a Pyrrhic victory - I'm losing too much sleep.  However, I'm training a frog to take over my duties as part of the amphibianization of the war.  I'll probably be able to withdraw from the war in a few weeks, just as soon as I teach the frog how to hold a shower shoe.

AFTER RELAXING on a three-day stand down, the Bravo Company Bobcats, 1st Battalion (Mech), 5th Infantry, reload their tracks in preparation for another month in the field.  (Photo by SP4 Rich Fitzpatrick) Row of armored personnel carriers



Warriors Rap Twelve Enemy In Trapezoid

   FSB KIEN - In two separate actions recently, Warriors of the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry ridded the Trapezoid area of twelve enemy soldiers.  Working east of the Saigon River to the south of Dau Tieng, the men of C Company were on a recon-in-force mission when their lead element was fired on by an unknown-sized enemy force.
   Said Sergeant James Ross, who took command after his platoon leader was wounded, "The enemy was concealed in heavy brush.  It wasn't until we were right on top of them that we could see anything unusual in the terrain."
   The Warriors killed six enemy.  An assortment of clothing and food supplies was found also.
   Two days later, while on a search mission near Fire Support Base Tennessee, elements of Alfa Company ran into another unknown-sized enemy unit with similar results.  Six more of the enemy were put away with no friendly casualties.

LEE VAN CONG was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for Valor.  He's with the 4th Battalion (Mech), 23d Infantry.  (Photo by SGT Bill Oberholzer) Scout Lee Van Cong



PSYOPS Team Saves Vietnamese Auto Victim

   FSB JACKSON - A 3d Brigade PSYOPS team may have saved a Vietnamese civilian's life recently because its medics reacted quickly to an automobile accident on Highway 1.
   The 2d Battalion, 27th Infantry team was on its way to Phuoc Luu to conduct one of its daily ICAPS when it came upon the accident.
   "We were driving along the highway near Fire Support Base Hampton when we saw a damaged car turned sideways off the road," Captain David Cogan of Elkhart, Ind., the battalion civil affairs officer, said.  "We stopped immediately and our medics rushed to aid the injured Vietnamese in the car."
   "He had injured his left side quite seriously and we knew he needed more attention than we could provide, so we called for a dustoff," Private First Class James Brown, a medic, from Cleveland, said.
   While Brown and Specialist Four Mike Kendrick of Douglas, Ariz., applied first aid other members of the team set up security for the dustoff helicopter.
   "Even with the fast evacuation to the hospital in Cu Chi I know our medics provided the initial proper action that saved the man's life," Staff Sergeant Glenn Hurley of Pennel, Pa., the team NCO, said.  "That made us feel pretty good."


Yearbook Due

"Vietnam 1969" the 25th Division Yearbook has been delayed due to production problems.  Tell your family and friends to expect its arrival in the states during early April.


Donut Dollies
JULIE ANDREWS and the Von Trapp family?  No, it's the 25th Division "Donut Dollies."  Since there weren't any Austrian mountainsides to romp across the Red Cross girls figured a drainage ditch would have to do.  (Photo by SP4 Rich Fitzpatrick)



Thanks to:
Roger Welt, 4th Bn., 23rd 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 04-16-2006

©2006 25th Infantry Division Association. All rights reserved