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Vol 5 No. 36                TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                September 21, 1970



Unit                   Page Unit                  Page Unit                  Page Unit                  Page
1st Bde Lancers    8 2/14 Photo            2 25th Avn.              3 4/23                       8
1/5                        1 2/22                      1 25th Med Bn         2 44th Scout Dog      7
1/5                        6 2/22                      3 25th Spec Svc       3 44th Dog Photos    7
1/5 Photo              6 2/22 Photo            3 242 ASH               3 65th Engr               8
1/27                      1 2/27                      8 3/4 Cav Photo       1 65th Engr Photo     8
12th Evac              3 2/77 Arty              3 4/23                      4 7/11 Arty               8
2/12                      2 2/77 Arty              3 4/23 Photos           4 725th Maint           6
2/12                      3 25th Avn.              1 4/23 Photos           8 Air Force               8


Village Chief Aids Americans
          Gunships Destroy The Enemy

   CU CHI - Helicopter gunships of the 25th Division, assisted by local village officials, raked an unknown-sized enemy force near here recently, killing 11 Communists.
   The night action by a light fire team of Bravo Company, 25th Aviation Battalion, occurred near Truong Mit village.
   In the early evening, an undetermined number of enemy attacked a night position set up by regional forces about 150 meters from the village.
   After the brief contact, the attackers moved into a nearby rubber plantation.   The call for air support was relayed to B Company at approximately 10 p.m.
   Within minutes, a flareship had arrived at the village to pick up the district chief, his advisor and an interpreter.
     Targets Cleared
   "Picking up the district chief is a good practice," said Captain William C. Melvin of Kansas City, Kan., a Bravo Company pilot. "With his approval, questionable targets can be cleared immediately."
   "By talking to his people on the ground, the district chief helped us determine pretty closely where the Viet Cong were," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 William L. Miller of Detroit.  "I marked the suspected target with rockets, then made sure there were no friendly forces in the area."
   "When we made our first pass at the enemy, they must have gotten a little nervous," Miller went on.  "They started shooting at us with what appeared to be their rifles."
   The muzzle flashes were bright target markers in the darkness.  Leaving no question as to their location, the VC were hit heavily by the Cobra rockets and mini-guns on the next two passes.
   Upon sweeping the area the next morning, the Regional Force found five AK-47s and 11 bodies.

Sky Crane moves APC MECH GOES AIRBORNE - An immobilized APC is carried in from the field by a CH-54 sky crane.  The carrier had hit a buried enemy mine 12 miles north of Cu Chi.  (Photo by SP4 Frank H. Salerno)


Alert Telephone Man Foils Viet Cong Bush

   FSB LYNCH - Thanks to their alert RTO (radio telephone operator) a 1st Wolfhounds patrol foiled an enemy ambush by killing one and scattering the rest near here recently.
   While walking along the trail by a small stream enroute to Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry's night ambush position, RTO Private First Class George Keys, spotted several of the enemy dug in on the opposite side of the stream.
   Immediately, Keys of North Carolina shouted a warning to the rest of the platoon, enabling them to take cover before the enemy's ambush was sprung.
   As the VC opened up, so did the Hounds.  This was too much for Charlie and he quickly fled, leaving one dead comrade behind.
   Keys' action saved his buddies and allowed the unit to continue operating.  The next morning, on a sweep, the Hounds discovered an enemy bunker complex which was apparently being used to plan future operations as was evidenced by the goods left behind.


Scout Thwarts Ambush
        The Enemy Attacks Lone APC

   XUAN LO - Its a lonely and being left behind in the boonies to mend a disabled APC (armored personnel carrier) while the rest of the company pushes on.
   This is especially true if the disabled 25th Division vehicle is in the midst of a rubber plantation and the enemy has been active in the area.
   While Alfa Company, 1st Battalion (Mech), 5th Infantry was conducting a recent RIF (reconnaissance-in-force) through the plantation, a sharp right turn caused a track to fall off one of the APCs.
   "I wasn't happy to see the other tracks continue on," said Sergeant Ed Gobert of Worthington, Ohio.  "I felt that something was going to happen and I wanted them to stay."
   Another carrier remained with the stricken vehicle and the men quickly set to work repairing the problem.  Back in business again the two APCs went to rejoin the company.
     Spot VC
   "We were moving along among the rubber trees when our flank spotted about 15 VC," Gobert said.  "Tru, our Kit Carson Scout, opened up on them with his M60 machinegun."
   The enemy used the densely-packed rows of trees as cover and scattered in all directions.  The carriers cautiously headed toward the general direction of the dispersed enemy and, as they moved through the area, came upon a large number of plantation workers.
     Sharp Eyes
   "We checked their IDs and detained six who did not have correct identification," said Sergeant Dave Roush of Huntington, Ind., a squad leader.  "Then sharp-eyed Tru began gesturing with his .45 at one of them."
   The singled-out man quickly rallied to Tru.  As it turned out, the man had sought refuge among the workers when his comrades had scattered.  He had no weapon but was transporting an artillery round.
   "Things worked out okay, but I hope we never throw a track in the rubber again," said Specialist 4 Larry Smith of Baton Rouge, La.  "Being stuck there is a lonely, scarey feeling."
   Amen, brother.

On Patrol TOUGH ON UNIFORMS - This trooper from the 3/4 Cav is tough on uniforms.  No wonder.  The terrain near the Boi Loi Woods is tough on troopers.  (Photo by SP4 Howard Lavick)


Enemy Is Surprised While on Police Call

   CU CHI - While on patrol recently 12 miles north of here, an element of the 25th Division's 2nd Battalion (Mech), 22nd Infantry, popped an ambush which killed one enemy as he policed up soda cans.
   "Our ambush site was at our previous night laager position and, shortly after dark, we heard digging sounds," said Charlie Company Private First Class Marvin Witt of Greenwood, S.C.
   "We called in that we had movement nearby and everyone was tense and alert because the sounds were coming our way."
   Before long the men saw three enemy digging up the trash the GIs had buried that morning.  As they sorted through it, they kept all the empty pop cans.
   "They were probably going to use them for booby traps," said Sergeant Rodney Babin of Fort Kent, Maine.
   Seconds later the men engaged the enemy with claymores and small arms fire while receiving no return fire.
   A sweep of the area produced one dead Communist, one M-26 hand grenade, three shirts, three pairs of Ho Chi Minh sandals, several sandbags containing US rations and several dug up soda pop cans.


Page 2                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           September 21, 1970


CPT James M. Pogue, Co C, 1st Bn, 5th Inf
1LT Neil Y. Morimoto, HHC, 1st Bn, 5th Inf
1LT Peter K. Ransom, Co A, 4th Bn, 23d Inf
1LT Douglas P. Schultz, Co C, 1st Bn, 5th Inf
1LT Hector Saenz, Co B, 1st Bn, 5th Inf
SFC Roger L. Jackson, Co A, 1st Bn, 5th Inf
SFC Raymond H. Wood, Co B, 1st Bn, 5th Inf
SSG Timothy D. Troyer, Co C, 1st Bn, 5th Inf
SGT Homer A. Brown, Co B, 2d Bn, 12th Inf
SGT Craig P. Carroll, 25th MP Co
SGT Norman D. Shirley, Co C, 1st Bn, 5th Inf
SP5 Dean L. Eikman, HHC, 1st Bn, 5th Inf
SP4 Jesse A. Bums, HHC, 1st Bn, 5th Inf
SP4 Douglas T. Carter, HHC, 1st Bn, 5th Inf
SP4 James A. Carter, HHC, 1st Bn, 5th Inf
SP4 Robert A. Cogdill, Co C, 1st Bn, 5th Inf
SP4 William R. Dobie, Co B, 2d Bn, 12th Inf
SP4 Randall Hill, HHC, 1st Bn, 5th Inf
SP4 Richard R. Jennings, Co B, 2d Bn, 12th Inf
SP4 James R. Lempke, Co B, 1st Bn, 5th Inf
SP4 Fredrick N. LoBue, Co B, 1st Bn, 5th Inf
SP4 Garold D. Norman, Co C, 1st Bn, 5th Inf
SP4 Jack R. Schmidt, HHC, 2d Bn, 12th Inf
SP4 Sim L. Sharpe, 25th MP Co
SP4 Billy E. Teague, Co C, 1st Bn, 5th Inf
SP4 Jerry A. Thomas, 25th MP Co
SP4 Clifford L. Tyree, Co C, 1st Bn, 5th Inf
SP4 Harold L. Watkins, Co B, 3d Bn, 22d Inf
SP4 Daniel A. Watwood, Co B, 2d Bn, 12th Inf
SP4 Roger R. Wood, Co B, 1st Bn, 5th Inf
PFC William I. Ausbrook Jr, Co B, 3d Bn, 22d Inf
PFC Anthony F. Chetko, Co C, 1st Bn, 5th Inf
PFC James Tournir, Co B, 3d Bn, 22d Inf
PFC Thomas Oates, C Trp, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav
PFC Ronald Overson, C Trp, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav
PFC Jeffrey Schinaman, C Trp, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav



Carpenter Turned Soldier Is Expert Bunker Builder

   DAU TIENG -- Fortified bunkers are the "in" thing at this 25th Division base camp, and there's a man here who's making bunker building his military profession.
   Specialist 4 Doug Kohls of Milwaukee, a member of the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry, is a skilled carpenter who has worked on schools, apartment buildings, and even churches.  But he had never filled a sandbag -- at least not until he arrived here.
   Finished carpentry skills may not be necessary but the requirements of a bunker are demanding.  Fifteen hundred sandbags (total weight 50,000 pounds), many wooden timbers, and about a week of Kohl's work will make one of these miniature fortresses virtually impregnable.
   The task, as Kohls often points out, is a difficult one, but an ounce of sweat may mean a sandbag-layer of protection, so especially important during a mortar attack.

Cu Chi Amnesty Program
        Helping Addicts Go Straight

   CU CHI - The Drug Amnesty Program is designed to help drug addicts and pot-smokers kick the habit without being prosecuted, harassed and without compiling any sort of "record."
   The Tropic Lightning's 25th Medical Battalion established the no-risk mental hygiene consultation service a year and a half ago.  Specialist 5 Robert Pirozzoli of Bridgeport, Conn., has been working with the volunteer patients since last November.
   "If a man is on drugs or marijuana and wants to go straight, he should go to his commanding officer or first sergeant.  There won't be any article 15s, courts-martial or any other sort of disciplinary action taken.
   We treat this as a purely medical problem and no permanent records of the case are kept.  When a man leaves the division, his records are destroyed."
   Pirozzli, one of six technicians who work with the drug patients, said most of the people he's seen are psychologically hung up on grass.  The clinic's full-time psychiatrist, Dr. (Captain) Phillip W. Cushman, noted that there is never any physical addiction with marijuana.
   "It's just a psychological thing and if they decide they want to give it up, there's no problem - most of them need a little nudge to help them decide to quit smoking."
   The program has been highly successful, according to Pirozzoli.  "When we get the patients, they've already decided they want to quit.  Our job is to give them medication, when necessary, to fight withdrawal and then to counsel them," Pirozzoli explained.
   Cushman and Pirozzoli both agreed that imminent DEROS dates are the most frequent cause for men coming to them with the drug problem.  But Pirozzoli noted that a lot of men come in after having seen a buddy going through withdrawal.  "Sometimes that sort of thing really scares them and jolts them to their senses," the specialist added.
   Cushman emphasized the "no repercussions" guarantee of the program.  Besides stressing the no disciplinary action and no records kept aspect, the doctor pointed out that this program provides for the only "priviledged communication with a psychiatrist" in the Army.
   "I'd like to see some more patients in here," Pirozzoli said.  "I don't think the word is getting out about this program.  We had five patients last month and I'm sure we would have had more if the word about us was spread around more.
   The guys can go through their CO, first sergeant, chaplain, Red Cross or come right into our office - we're here to help."

Lt. Col. Ralph Salucci, 2/14thCHANGE OF COMMAND

Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Salucci, former executive officer of the 1st Brigade, has assumed command of the 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Golden Dragons.  Salucci succeeds Lieutenant Colonel Charles W. Norton Jr.



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:

August 27
PFC Richard Nutt, C Co 4th Bn 9th Inf, boy
SP4 Ronnie 0. Wagstaff, C Co 3/4 Cav, boy

August 28
SGT Monte L. Burgess, A Co 125th Sig, boy
SGT Carroll B. Froah, B Btry 1st Bn 27th Inf, boy

August 29
PFC Ernest Roche, A Co, 1st Bn 27th Inf. boy
SP4 Freddie E. Weise, 362 Eng Bn, girl
SP4 Ronald Neal, HHT 3/4 Cav, boy
August 30
SP4 Thomas D. Yeager, Nui Ba Den, girl

August 31
SP4 Robert E. Sanslow, E Co 725th Maint Bn, girl
SP4 Joe G. Mata, B Co 588th Engr, girl

September 1
SP4 Jackie D. Brown, B Co 1st Bn 27th Inf, boy
PVT Robert M. Harris, HHC 588th Engr. girl
PFC Richard Sharpin, 25th Admin Co, 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. American Forces Press Service and Army News Feature materials 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 Edward Bautz, Jr . . . .  Commanding General
MAJ Robert E. Kelso . . . . Information Officer
1LT Martin E. Webb . . . .  Officer-in-Charge
SP4 William M. Lane . . . .  Editor
SP4 Scott Watson . . . . . .  Assistant Editor
SP4 Joseph V. Kocian . . .  Production Supervisor


SGT Mike Keyster
SP4 Tom Benn
SP4 Frank Salerno
PFC Dan Lowry
SP4 Greg Duncan
SP4 Rich Erickson
SP4 Ed Toulouse
SGT Mark Rockney
SGT Mike Conroy
SGT William Zarrett
SGT Daniel House
PFC Irwin Polis
SP5 Tom Watson
3/4 Cav
SP4 William McGown
PFC James Stoup
SGT Derr Steadman
SP5 Doug Sainsbury
SP4 James Duran
SGT Jack Strickland
SP4 Kris Peterson
SP4 Frank Morris
SGT Bob Lodi
SGT Dan Davis
SGT Jack Strickland
SGT Byron Fites
PFC Doc Polis
65th Eng



Page 3                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           September 21, 1970


Sweet Sue Gelling Her Revenge
            Grand Old Lady Finally Going Home

   CU CHI - "Sweet Sue" got her revenge, and now she's going home.
   After 10,000 miles and 17 months of full combat duty, a 25th Division armored personnel carrier known as "Susie" or "Sweet Revenge" recently ended her tour in the Republic of Vietnam.
   The Bravo Company 2nd Battalion (Mech), 22nd Infantry Regulars met "Susie" in early March of 1969 when she joined second platoon.  The APC compiled an excellent record for reliability, as the company log books and her crew would attest.
   "She was always in the lineup whenever the company moved," said Specialist 4 Royal Mattson of Minneapolis.  "She spent very little of her time in for repairs."
   As the months passed, it was obvious to the Triple Deuce company that Susie was going to be a record setter.  Before going home the vengeful carrier would see action throughout the division's area of operations, including Cambodia.
   She traveled in excess of 10,000 miles - a record for Bravo Company.  Also, the 17 months in the field broke the old company record for consecutive field time.
   "There was a challenge and responsibility in driving the oldest track in the company, because we wanted her to keep that reputation." said Specialist 4 Bob Stevens of Ottawa, Kansas.

"Sweet Sue", Bravo Co., 2/22nd TAKING FIVE BEFORE TAKING OFF -- Before ending her tour of duty recently, Sweet Sue and her crew from Bravo Company, 2nd of the 22nd, pause and pose.  (Photo by SP4 Dennis LeBlanc)



It's Happening

LOST AND FOUND . . . The Warriors of the 2nd of the 12th have misplaced their totem pole.  Which is no easy task.  The pole measures 40 feet from end to end and has a large combat infantryman's badge as one of its distinguishing features.  The Warriors took great pains in shipping the thing from Ft. Lewis to Dau Tieng a few years ago.  They took it apart in the world, shipped it in segments, then put it back together again over here.  But when the 2nd of the 12th was hastily redeployed around Saigon in 1968, nobody thought to bring along the pole.  So if you happen to stumble upon a piece of lumber featuring carved figures of men fighting in the War of 1812, Mexican War, Civil War, World War I, World War II and Vietnam, dial Dau Tieng and tell a Warrior about it.

OLYMPIC VILLAGE TO OPEN . . . First Lieutenant Ernie Gilkerson, assistant special services officer, stopped by this week to give us the word on the special services sports program.  His major piece of news was that Cu Chi's Olympic Village will open soon.  The village, located adjacent to the Lightning Bolt entertainment area behind the service club, will include a boxing ring, four softball fields, basketball courts, horseshoe pits and perhaps a football field.  The ring will open on Friday, September 25th at 7:30 p.m. with a card of six bouts.  Thereafter, regular Friday night fights will be scheduled.  Gilkerson said that special services is eager to form a post softball league.  Any units wishing to field a team should call PFC Larry Hand at extension 5044.  Also, a physical fitness club for joggers is in the works.

DON'T LET THEM DO IT TO US AGAIN . . . The Bunker Bunnies, a softball team composed of the girls from 12th Evac and special services, recently struck down a team from Little Bear operations 11 to 6.  The men, it must be admitted, were playing under some handicaps.  First, the pitches were slow teasers by rule.  None of the fast stuff was allowed.  Second, the men were bound to bat left handed if they were right-handers and right handed if they were natural southpaws.  The Bunnies, flushed with success, are willing to take on all comers.  Men, we can't let them do it to us again.  Somebody put together a team of switch hitters (there can't be any rule against that) and blast them.  Please.

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A MONTH MAKES . . . In the August 17 issue of the "Tropic Lightning News," we ran a picture of the brand new sign erected at Fire Support Base Redleg.  There wasn't a scar on it.  Times have changed.  And one of our office's ace photographers Jay Hall caught the change on film.  The Redleg sign is now covered with shrapnel wounds dutifully patched up with band-aids.  Never let it be said that the men of the 2nd of the 77th don't go on MEDCAPs.


New Standdown Program
             Artillerymen Get A Breather

   CU CHI - Pity the poor 25th Division artilleryman.  He never gets a standdown.  Well, he never used to.
   "A direct support artillery battalion cannot stand down a firing battery, even for one day," said Lieutenant Colonel Thomas L. Kelly, 2nd Battalion, 77th Artillery commander.
   "Traditionally, tactical requirements for artillery units have been such that the batteries must stand ready to fire support for the infantry at all times," Kelly of El Paso, Tex., explained.
   The requirements placed upon infantry units allow for periodic rest periods for the grunts.  When one element comes in for standdown, another element moves to the field to replace it.
"Redlegs Sign"    However, the Up Tight artillery recently initiated a program to bring a permissible number of men from a support base firing battery into Cu Chi periodically.  Besides working on their howitzers and truck, they can relax under the comfortable base camp conditions for a few restful days.
   Under the program, twelve men from a firing battery come into Cu Chi in the late afternoon of the first day of the rest period.  They in-process, draw clean linen and enjoy a cookout in the evening.
   Private quarters for these Redlegs were made available by renovating an existing building in the battalion headquarters area.
   During the morning of the second day, the cannoneers move their truck and howitzer to D Company, 725th Maintenance Battalion here where both pieces of equipment undergo a thorough technical inspection.
   While the truck and howitzer receive their going-over, the crew returns to the arty battalion area to phase out unserviceable field gear and individual clothing.
   The afternoon of the second day finds the Redlegs in the battalion motor pool correcting deficiencies noted during the morning's inspection.
   On the morning of the third day, the cannoneers run a basic periodic test on their "one-oh-deuce."  This test is to insure that the sensitive instruments on the howitzer are operating properly to provide critical accuracy when firing.
   In the afternoon the men have transportation available for visiting base camp facilities.  The evening is full of free time as well.
   The program allows about 72 men per firing battery to rotate into Cu Chi every three months.
   "The implementation of the program serves two primary objectives," Kelly said.  "The first is thorough testing and maintenance to insure that the howitzers and equipment are constantly in top shape.
   "The second is just to allow the men a chance to enjoy the facilities available here."

Quick Thinking Pilot Wins Broken Wings

   CU CHI -- The Broken Wing Aviation Safety Award was recently presented to a quick-thinking helicopter pilot working with the 25th Division.
   Second Lieutenant Gerald L. Anderson of the 242nd Assault Support Helicopter Company received the award for successfully recovering his CH-47 Chinook helicopter from an in-flight engine failure.  Brigadier General Jack W. Hemingway, 1st Aviation Division commander, made the presentation.
   The award is given to an Army aviator who demonstrates the highest degree of professional aviation skill and judgment while recovering an aircraft from an in-flight failure or malfunction necessitating an emergency landing.
   During the early morning hours of April 19, 1970, Anderson of Sioux City, Iowa, was carrying supplies into Fire Support Base Mace located at the base of Gia Ray mountain.  On board were 12 passengers.
   He had picked up 4,000 pounds of ammunition from three trucks and was hovering 75 feet above them when his caution light for the number two engine went on.  As Anderson started to move the Chinook back to the ground to check out the engine, it failed.
   The aircraft began to fall with its load.  Anderson vainly attempted to increase his RPM's to avoid hitting the trucks, but the helicopter came down, the load landing on the trucks.
   Once the cargo was down, the aircraft moved up again.  But as it did the cargo hook became entangled in the webbing, the strap tightened and down the Chinook went again.
   Within seconds, the quick-thinking Anderson skillfully got rid of his load and brought the aircraft down next to the trucks.  He also had avoided landing in the two gulleys boardering the area.
   Luckily, there was no damage to the Chinook, and no injuries to crew members or passengers.
   Anderson is the first Army aviator to receive the Broken Wing Aviation Safety Award for a multi-engine aircraft.


Page 4-5                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           September 21, 1970


The Night Ambush

Story and Photos By SGT MIKE KEYSTER

   FSB LYNCH - Despite the weather or personal feelings, ambush is a nightly activity for the men of the 4th Battalion (Mech), 23rd Infantry.
   A Tomahawk grunt pulls an average of one ambush every three nights and each company is responsible for one every night.
   Night Charlie hunting is an altogether different task from the daylight patrol.  Night activities demand the use of more equipment, because "a unit has to have a lot of firepower when it goes out on its own," said Sergeant Gary Eagleton, a squad leader from Woodland, Calif.  Eagleton has had over nine months of bushing experience.
   Claymores, trip flares, extra ammo and grenades are just some of the added equipment carried on each nocturnal mission.
   The job means walking in the dark, finding a place to set up, fighting off the swarming mosquitoes and humping the extra equipment.  But, most of all, it means extra alertness.
   Bravo Company grunts say the monsoon rains are their worst enemy.
   "I hate the rain most of all," said Private First Class Marvin Rhodes of Bowie, Tex.  "If it rains, you stay wet all night, and then you freeze."
   "During the rainy season, nobody has a good night," added Private First Class Bob Johnson of Gainsville, Fla.  "Sleeping in the rain is a real bummer."
   The best thing about a bush, Tomahawks say, is having a little time off after each mission.  About 95 per cent of the time they will get the next day to rest and recuperate.
   Sergeant Bob Lawson, a squad leader from Dallas, summed up his feelings about nighttime ambushes.  "It's no fun going out there.  You never really get used to it."
   "We know that gunships, artillery and mortars are just a few minutes away," Eagleton added.  "But that doesn't stop you from feeling lonely."

4/23rd Armored Personnel Carrier LEAVING THE WIRE - Infantrymen of the 25th Division's 4th Battalion (Mech), 23rd Infantry pass through the wire on their way to a night ambush position 20 miles south of Xuan Loc.
GETTING THE WORD - Tomahawks of the 4th of the 23rd receive briefing. Briefing
Radio check FINAL CHECK - This infantryman of the 4th of the 23rd makes final commo check before ambush patrol moves out of Fire Support Base Tomahawk.



Page 6                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           September 21, 1970


Bobcats Use New/Old Early Warning System

   XUAN LOC - Has the 1st Battalion (Mech), 5th Infantry gone to the birds?
   The exploits of Alfa Company's chickens have become famous within the battalion, but now Charlie Company, not to be outfeathered, has added four geese to its roster.
     Unusual Request
   It all started when Specialist 4 Richard Minton, Charlie Company resupply man, received an unusual request.
   "I thought my ears had deceived me," he said, "but I swore the radio telephone operator said 'geese.  When they asked me to get six geese harnesses, and fifty pounds of grain, I knew they meant business."
   Charlie Company Commander Captain James Pogue clarified the situation.  He told Minton he wanted the geese for an early warning system.  So, after some sharp haggling with a local villager, Minton procured four geese.
   Pogue, an animal lover from way back, has been aware of the goose's anti-intrusion capability for some time.
   "Geese have no natural defense against predators, so they are naturally alert to unusual noises," he explained.
   According to First Lieutenant Douglas Schultz, a platoon leader with Charlie Company, the Roman Legions used birds as sentries.  So does the Jack Daniels distillery and warehouse in Tennessee.
     Six and Six
   Pogue's eventual plan is to have a total of 12 geese, six to the front and six to the rear of Charlie Company's night laager sites.
   Each of the platoons has adopted a goose and all havoc breaks loose when they try to police up Bertha, Rufus, Gus and Norman.  About the only trouble the Bobcats have had with the geese is that they are a little messy.

Rufus on top of 'Track' RUFUS MANS (GOOSES?) THE GUN - Rufus the goose, the early warning device for Charlie Company, 1st of the 5th's 2nd Platoon, perches atop his favorite sentry post - a .50 caliber machinegun.  (Photo by SGT Bob Lodi)


725th Has Refrigeration Man
                     He Keeps Cu Chi Cool

   The 25th Division's 725th Maintenance Battalion is "blessed to have in its midst" a person who is capable of repairing and rebuilding the many various tactical air conditioners and refrigeration units the Army uses, according to Captain James R. Ritchie of Cumberland, Md., the shop officer of Headquarters and Company A.
   "Refrigeration repair is much more technical, and more intricately demanding than most repair work and one must go to school to receive a basic understanding of refrigeration," Ritchie added.
   Until he came in the Army, Specialist 5 George A. Windham of Sanford, N.C., worked as a refrigeration repairman with his father in their family business.  "I began working with my father in the tenth grade," said Windham.
   Before coming to Cu Chi and the 725th, Windham worked for the Ben Hoa-Long Binh post exchange installing and servicing air conditioners, including the one at the main PX at Cu Chi.
   "Windham has the ability of repairing any type of refrigeration equipment but is hampered in his operation because of the critical lack of repair parts," said Chief Warrant Officer (CW3) Walter J. Gregory of Colorado Springs, Colo., the chief maintenance warrant officer of HQ & Co A, who believes Windham is "the best refrigeration man in Vietnam."
   "Probably one of the best refrigeration men in the Army" corrected Captain William R. Hardgrave of Witchia, Kansas, the maintenance platoon leader of HQ & Co A.
   Windham says his best source of repair parts is the post's salvage units. He can modify them by redesigning their shape or wiring so the system he is repairing will function as a unit.
   "If it weren't for Mr. Gregory getting me copper tubing and freon (the coolant used in refrigeration equipment) I wouldn't be able to do a thing," said Windham.
   "Repairing any refrigeration equipment is a difficult job," Windham pointed out.  All the parts must be wired in series and function as one piece.  If all the parts don't function at the same time, the compressor (the heart of any refrigeration unit) will overheat and turn the machine off.  Refrigeration equipment just won't run unless it's in perfect working order; it's not like a car which can run on seven cylinders."
   Windham's work is not limited to the shop.  He is also head of a mobile service that goes anywhere to perform maintenance at the site of the problem.  From 20 to 30 times a month, Windham and two of the three men he has working for him make service calls, whether it be at G-1 or a fire support base.

Ask SGT Certain

DEAR SARGE: I'm a big radio fan.  Here in Vietnam, I listen to AFVN (big choice).  Now, the station isn't all that bad.  For instance, it's fun at suppertime to watch the city-slickers wretch over the country and western music, and, I imagine it saves on rations.  What bugs me is listening to the same commercials over and over again.  Comrade Nguyen has had five minutes to re-up for the last five years; and my only suggestion on their "suggestion system" commercial is to take it off the air.  How can we be spared?
                                                                                        Tun Din

DEAR TUN: You are in luck.  This season, AFVN is adding four new commercials to the four they already have.  This means that the same one will be repeated each hour instead of each half hour.  The four new commercials will include (1) a short talk by Ralph Ginsburg to convince people who've tried marijuana to rehabilitate themselves, (2) a colorful jingle with twelve sexy girls telling you not to jump headfirst into a scro ditch, (3) a poigniant drama discouraging you from throwing live frags at your first shirt and (4) Jimmy Hendrix singing about a Siberia R &R.

DEAR SERGEANT CERTAIN: Maybe I'm a prude, but it makes me very upset to watch dogs running loose in troop areas around Vietnam.  Really, soldiers shouldn't be allowed to keep canines and if they are allowed, someone should insist that they put pants on the females.  The carrying on is something terrible.
                                                                                        Putzum Pantson

DEAR PUTZ: Army regulations allow one dog for every twenty GIs but make no stipulation as to proper uniform.  The dogs don't offend me; in fact at lunch time, some of us NCOs get together and watch them.  We've learned a great deal from the experience.

DEAR SERGEANT CERTAIN: I've always been a lucky gambler.  Since arriving in Nam, I've invested my paychecks in slot machine slugs.  In the last two months, I've hit 4,873 jackpots.  I intend to use my winnings of $27,826.80 to buy an OD Cadillac on the sides of which I will letter "The Army Takes Care of Its Own."  I have a little problem though.  Whenever I bring my foot lockers full of slugs to the Vietnamese clerk at the EM Club to cash them in, he shakes his head and says "Xin Loi."  I want my money.  What can I do?
                                                                                        Master of luck

DEAR MASTER: Send the slugs to the Ace Novelty Company in Philadelphia.  Ace supplies slugs to the whole U.S. Army open mess system.  Your collection is worth $.75.  Maybe you can use the money to buy an OD rollerskate you lucky son of a gun.

DEAR SERGEANT CERTAIN: Is the division planning any celebration for its 29th anniversary in October?
                                                                                        Lyle Firecracker

DEAR LYLE: Yes, indeed.  All the tracks operated in the division will be covered with colored bunting and decorated with scantilly clad girls from the Lightning Center Steam Bath.  The tracks will roll up Highway One to a scenic spot and commence fire.


Page 7                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           September 21, 1970


Cu Chi Canines Harassed
                       Scout Dogs Drill to Remain Alert

   CU CHI - Just as the combat soldier must keep training to remain sharp, the scout dog must drill to stay alert.
   While he is here in the 25th Division base camp, Prince, a shiny, black German Shepherd with the 44th Infantry Scout Dog Platoon, continues to train on the lanes.
   "The dog must be worked so he will maintain his acute senses and remain in good physical condition," said First Lieutenant Russell E. Murphy Jr. of St. Louis, the platoon leader.
   Specialist 4 Russell Kessler, Prince's handler, said that on the lanes he will harass the dog by talking to him suspiciously about the trip wires and the human decoys.
   "Scout dogs are more alert in the field than they are on the training lanes," said Kessler of Indianapolis.  "They become more protective because they are around strange people.  They seem to sense the danger."
   Dogs are in the field for about five days at a time and are used primarily on ambush patrols and reconnaissance missions.
   But whether on the lanes or in he field, scout dogs usually alert between 100 and 150 meters away, depending on the direction of the wind.  The wind is important because the dogs use "airborne scent" - picking up the scent a few inches off the ground.
   An important factor is the ability of the dog and the handler to work together as a team.
   "All dogs alert, but the handler must be able to detect it, for the dogs alert in a different manner to different situations," Kessler added.  "It's just a matter of the handler and the dog being able to understand each other."
   The team must be compatible in order to work. "You can't have an aggressive dog and a shy handler and vice versa," Kessler said.
   The handler has five commands he can give the dog: sit, stay, heel, down and come.  A reward and punishment system is used in training.
   Scout dogs are effective from three to six years depending on the dog's health.

SP4 Russell Kessler and Prince HAMMING IT UP - (Left) Prince hams it up for his handler, Specialist 4 Russell Kessler, during a lesson in basic obedience.

ATTACK - (Right) One hundred and twenty-five pounds of fury named Prince snarls at Sergeant Willie Posey, a human decoy.  The dog is being held by Handler Kessler.
SP4 Russell Kessler, Sgt. Willie Posey, and Prince


SP4 Russell Kessler and Prince WELL DONE - Specialist 4 Russell Kessler gives Prince, a German Shepherd assigned to the 44th Scout Dog Platoon, a little encouragement after the dog successfully completed the training lanes.



Page 8                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           September 21, 1970


Turn Over River Equipment
                  65th Engineers Launch ARVN Boatmen

   BIEN HOA - Three members of the 25th Division's 65th Engineer Battalion arrived here recently to turn over river control equipment to an ARVN unit stationed nearby.
   The event was part of the Army's ever-expanding role in the Vietnamization program.
   Sergeant Charles T. Woods of Omaha, Neb., served as technical advisor for the group, while Specialist 5 Lavern S. Cameron of Swartz Creek, Mich., and Specialist 4 Frank W. Busher of Newport, Ky., provided technical assistance.  All are with Echo Company of the engineers.
   The battalion gave the ARVN four river boats and five outboard motors for use in patrolling the Dong Mai River.
   Before the turn-over was completed however, the men spent three days instructing the ARVN troops.
   "This is not the first time we've turned-over river boats to the ARVNs," said Cameron.  "The 65th has been involved in this type of operation for the past few months."
   "We don't really have to teach them how to operate the boats," Woods said.  "But we do have to teach them how to maintain the equipment, observe water safety and courtesy and prepare the various fuel mixtures."
   Captain Harry Glowaski of Wyoming, Minn., from MACV Advisory Team 98, coordinated the activites for the 65th.  He made the physical arrangements and will eventually oversee the river patrolling operations for the ARVNs.
   "The ARVNS will soon take over all river patrolling operations from US units in South Vietnam," Glowaski said.
   The engineers confronted few problems in the turn-over operation.
   "The hardest part for me," said Sergeant Woods, "was trying to break down the technical jargon I learned during my training so that the Vietnamese could understand what I was teaching them."

EASY DOES IT -- Technicians from Echo Company, 65th Engineer Battalion, instruct ARVN soldiers on the procedures of operating motor launch equipment.  (Photo by PFC James Stoup) Unloading boat



1st Brigade Digs In
                  Lancers Scalp 'Indians'

   (DAU TIENG) - They call it "Indian Country," and Dau Tieng base camp, the new home of the 25th Division's 1st Brigade, is located virtually in the middle of it.
   Snuggled near the eastern perimeter is a French-owned rubber plantation, a longtime hiding place of Communist forces.  To the north are the foreboding Razor Back Mountains, a stronghold from which the enemy has often lobbed rockets and mortars into the camp below.   South of here are the menacing Hobo and Boi Loi Woods, two more favorite hiding places of Charlie.
   Understandably, then, base camp defense is of primary concern to the 1st Brigade Lancers.  There are numerous bunker complexes along the berm, supported by a base camp reactionary force on five minute alert.  In addition, there are reactionary forces assigned to each of the four sectors, permanent and mobile radar and a 100-foot high observation tower equipped with aiming devices.
   All of these are coordinated at the base camp defense (BCD) operation center with an elaborate communications system to the bunkers and the artillery batteries.
   The artillery units here, and at the surrounding fire support bases, use a concept called "Quick Revenge," which is a defense against rocket and mortar attacks.
   Major A. Daniel Dell'Elce, installation coordinator and BCD commanding officer, from Boston, explained, "the artillery pre-positions the guns at target areas known to have previously originated enemy fire.  Therefore, the instant the base camp receives incoming rounds, the artillery can immediately respond, then later adjust their fire once an exact location is found."
   "Speed is of the essence when returning fire, for Charlie knows the faster we are, the less rounds he can throw at us before the world blows up around him," commented 1st Lieutenant Rodney Gibbons of Tulsa, Okla., a BCD officer.
   The 10-story high observation tower contributes greatly to the effectiveness of Quick Revenge.  When exploding rounds are spotted by the observer, he obtains an azimuth which is then telephoned down to the batteries, said Private First Class Sid Cassel of Cheyenne, Wyo., 7th Battalion, 11th Artillery tower observer.
   "When the action starts, you've got to get a reading as fast as possible," he said.  "It's probably the safest place to be during incoming, but the guys down below are counting on you."
   Charlie has found Dau Tieng's defenses tough to crack.  But nevertheless, he keeps hoping that the next time he tries, the GI's will have their guard down.  For instance, last July the enemy launched a sapper attack against the base.  The attack went for naught as 17 died.  None of the Indians even reached the wire.


Grunts Take To Air, Flyboys Come Down

   CU CHI - A grunt in the Air Force?
   When Sergeant Tom Buckman of 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry, learned he would be spending three days with the Air Force, he couldn't believe it.
   "They told me that I, along with two others from the division, would be going to Bien Hoa, and two Air Force personnel would be coming to Cu Chi for three days," said Buckman of Forest Park, Ill.
   It was all part of OPERATION TEAMWORK, an exchange program the Air Force has, not only with the 25th Division, but with other allied units as well -- including Australians.
   Buckman, who was selected for the exchange because he was "short" and had been in the field for almost twelve months, was sent to the 823rd Combat Engineer Squadron, part of the 3rd Tactical Fighter Wing.
   Apart from building practically the entire Air Force complex at Bien Hoa, the 823rd "Red Horse" unit has had some part in just about every construction project of the Air Force in the III Corps area.
     Like It Is
   "Most of the guys asked a lot of questions and expressed a desire to go to the field with the Wolfhounds to see what it's really like," the sergeant said.
   "We gave the flyboys who came up here a real treat," he continued.  "They went on one of our airmobile missions and also spent one night on an ambush patrol."
   An Air Force sergeant observed that the night ambush patrol was quite different from the air-conditioned club he is accustomed to spending his evenings in.
   "While enjoying myself in their club a little later, I couldn't help but feel a little sorry for these guys, knowing they were out in the middle of nowhere sleeping in the rain."

CHOW TIME -- This cook of the 4th of the 23rd makes use of a 548 (half track) to prepare chow for hungry Tomahawks in the field.  (Photo by SGT Byron Fites)


The Life of a Cook

   FSB TOMAHAWK -- To the uninformed, the life of a cook in Vietnam must seem great.  They stay in the perimeter area all day long and always seem to have ice for their sodas as well as the best food.
   Underneath the glossy exterior, however, the job of cooking for the 4th Battalion (Mech), 23rd Infantry isn't as groovy as the picture might seem.
   Cooks get up at least two hours before most everyone else to prepare the morning meal.  Before the stoves are cool and the breakfast pots and pans scrubbed, Bravo Company Mess NCOIC, Sergeant First Class John Britt of Sandersville, Ga., is already thinking about preparing the evening meal.
   "I prepare the menus and the cooks and myself prepare the food," Britt said.  "We cook the evening meal here and send it to the field in insulated containers which keep it fairly hot for the men."
   Then there are other problems.  When the wind blows from the northwest, it brings two or three inches of rain along with it or enough dust to cover the food.
   The rain makes the mashed potatoes soupy while the sand turns them lumpy.  "If a tent is available, these problems aren't so difficult," Britt said.


Thanks to
Glenn Kantorski, 4th Bn. (Mech.), 23rd Inf. and 3rd Bn., 22nd Inf., for sharing this issue,
Kirk Ramsey, 2nd Bn., 14th Inf. for creating this page.

This page last modified 11-17-2004

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