Vol 5 No. 37 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS September 28, 1970
|65th Engr 8
|25th Admin 2
|3/4 Cav 2
|3/4 Cav 8
Regulars, VC Play Hide and Seek
in the Woods
By KRIS PETERSEN
FSB LYNCH While playing a game of hide and seek with the enemy, a
small element of the 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry, eliminated five
Viet Cong during a recent mission near the Boi Loi Woods.
The operation began when a small reconnaissance patrol from Echo Company was inserted into a fresh activity area via patrol boats.
Too Far Away
"We moved about 400 yards into the woods and spotted one enemy," said Private First Class Willard White of Yakima, Wash., "but he was too far away to engage."
The patrol then moved farther into the interior and saw two more VC in a different location.
"We tried to get closer to them when we saw two others a few hundred yards away in still another direction," said Private First Class Danny Owens of Rexburg, Ida.
These last two were within range and, using the shoulder of the patrol leader 1st Lieutenant Thomas Harris, another Regular fired and brought one of them down.
"We then watched the area closely," said Private First Class James Sheets of Eldon, Iowa. "They knew we were there, but they didnt know where. Then we popped a couple of grenades to make them run."
"While the enemy cautiously tried to find us, we stayed perfectly quiet until they gave up their search a few hours later," Harris of Mansfield, Ohio recalled.
After setting up in a hasty ambush for the night, the patrol waited until morning.
The next day was spent in searching for the enemy deeper into the woods. As the Regulars came upon a road, a small group of VC were spotted.
One Communist was killed in the ensuing action.
While moving to a day location, White noticed three more of the enemy coming towards them. The Echo men again responded quickly and quietly.
Crouching, they waited until the VC were in full view, then let loose with a heavy barrage of M-16 fire. The three enemy were killed instantly.
"Thats the first time Ive ever played hide and seek for keeps," said one Echo Regular, "and Im just glad we won."
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE In a climatic moment of graduation ceremonies at the Chieu Hoi Center, a group of former Viet Cong and NVA Soldiers pledge their allegiance to the government of South Vietnam. (Photo by SP4 Joseph V. Kocian)
Complete 60-Day Course
Hundreds Become Citizens
By SP4 JOSEPH V. KOCIAN
BAO TRAI More than 800 former Viet Cong and soldiers of the North
Vietnamese Army returned to their homes as citizens of South Vietnam recently.
At a ceremony in this villages Chieu Hoi Center, the ralliers graduated from a 60-day course in which they were taught the principles of democracy. The Hau Nhgia Province Chief presided and representatives from the Chieu Hoi ministry and 3rd Military Region were in attendance.
That this was the largest class of ralliers ever to graduate from the center is due in part to the efforts of a local PSYOPS (psychological operations) team. The team, through a series of questions posed to Hoi Chanhs, has determined the prevailing attitudes of the people and is using their new-found knowledge to induce more of the enemy to rally.
Several members of the graduating class said they rallied due to their fear of death. It is a tenet of their religion that if their bodies are not intact when they die, they will be lost souls forever.
In Concert With Death
In concert with the fear of death, poor living conditions and constant nomadic movement by bands of Viet Cong and NVA troops worked to influence the enemy to rally.
"All my friends left when the Americans went into Cambodia," one woman said. "I was all alone. I had only a few supplies. I did not want to leave with them so I picked up a leaflet and came here."
At the Chieu Hoi Center, the ralliers receive clothes, medical aid, food, shelter and education.
After graduation, some of the citizens will become Kit Carson scouts in the 25th Division and some will continue to farm tracts of land which they have been given.
The ones with education will go into politics, perhaps, or become doctors and nurses. In the class there were three doctors, five mechanics and two engineers.
Upon release from the center, each graduate received a sum of 1,200 piasters. They were also sent to secure areas where their lives will not be endangered by revenge-seeking NVA or Viet Cong.
In addition to the 1,200 piasters, ralliers who turned in weapons and ammunition were paid additional amounts.
|Letter from the Commanding General
Tropic Lightning Division enters its thirtieth year, it is time for us to look with pride
at our past and rededicate ourselves to the future.
Page 2 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS September 28, 1970
Would You Believe Shuttle
Cu Chi Has Snails Pace Rapid Transit System
By SGT DERR STEADMAN
CU CHI Soldiers of the 25th Infantry Division have a
convenience which many stateside city dwellers lack would you believe rapid
A shuttle bus service featuring a fleet of ultra-modern two and one half ton trucks with traditional hardwood seats, fresh air ventilation and quiet bounce-free ride has been put into operation as a service to the weary walkers of Cu Chi base camp.
The service was initiated primarily to improve the morale and welfare of the men, according to the NCOIC of the division transportation office, Master Sergeant Bobby D. McGarity, of Long Branch, N.J.
It has also proven effective in preventing crime by providing a nightly average of more than 150 would-be pedestrians with safe, fast transportation.
"Every evening," said McGarity, "two shuttle buses operate from 6 p.m. until 10:30, following separate routes with frequent stops at every recreation and entertainment facility on post."
"Vehicles for the shuttle service are furnished by every unit of Cu Chi which has deuce and a halfs and assigned drivers," said Captain Louis E. Skender of Pittsburgh, the division transportation officer. "Contributing units supply the operation with one truck and driver for an entire week on a rotation basis."
Immediately prior to the beginning of each nights operation, the trucks to be used undergo a safety inspection and are rigged with specialized equipment. Flashing lights are attached to the outside rear view mirror mounts; a "Shuttle Bus" sign is placed on the front bumper; and a step ladder is positioned on the tail gate.
"Driving the shuttle bus is really a lot of fun," said Specialist 4 Jessa J. Searcy of Atlanta, a mechanic of the 25th Administration Company. "I enjoy seeing the guys happy, and most of them seem to be pretty happy when I stop and ask them if they would like a ride."
"I talk with a lot of people on the route," added another driver, Private First Class Melvin Corpening of Lenoir, N.C., a wireman of the 1st Battalion 27th Artillery.
ITS NO GREYHOUND, BUT - These two Tropic Lightning troopers prepare to board Cu Chis answer to rapid transit: a shuttle bus which looks strangely like a deuce and a half. The bus is operated by the division support command. (Photo by SGT Derr Steadman)
Tropic Lightning Tots
The Commanding General Welcomes
The Following Tropic Lightning Tots
To The 25th Infantry Division As
Reported By The American Red Cross.
CPT Charles Lee, B Trp, 2nd Bn, 34th Arm, girl
SGT Gary W. Johnson, D Co, 2nd Bn, 12th Inf, girl
SP4 William A. Hudson Jr., HQ & Co A, 26th Med, boy
PFC Charles Fraley, C Bty, 3rd Bn, 13th Arty, girl
SP4 James L. Moore, HQ & HQ Co, 2nd Bn, 60th Inf, boy
PFC Ronald E. Abbot, B Co, 25th, S&T, boy
SP4 Steve C. Mathers, HHC, 2nd Brigade, boy
SP4 Gayden M. Nelson, E Co, 725th Maint. Bn, boy
SP4 Joseph F. Czapiewski, Svc Bty, 1st Bn, 27th Arty, girl
SP4 David A. Thompson, Co B, 25th Avn Bn, girl
SP4 Steven Ehlers, Svc Bty, 2nd Bn, 32nd Arty, girl
SP4 Robert C. Wiber, Plt Sct Dgs, 38th Inf, girl
SP4 Thomas A. Burr, HHD, 86th Sig, 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. American Forces Press Service and Army News Feature materials are used. Views and opinions expressed are not necessarily those 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
SP5 Tom Watson
|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 Byron Fites
PFC Doc Polis
Taking a Stroll Down the
Three VC Meet Their Maker
By SP4 TOM BENN
DAU TIENG "It was sort of a flukey thing. The forward observer
was sitting up on top of the mountain and he just happened to look down and see these guys
walking down the road."
This account of how three Viet Cong met their maker came from Private First Class Phil Denny, of Kearney, Mo. He is a member of the fire direction center of Bravo Battery, 7th Battalion, 11th Artillery, at Fire Support Base Byrd, near here.
Early one evening, First Lieutenant Dana Bent, of Cranston, R.I., a forward observer assigned to Delta Company, 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry, spotted "about 10 or 11 enemy soldiers moving down Highway 14 past the Razorback Mountains in the direction of Dau Tieng." He quickly called in artillery from Bravo Battery and soon the enemy group was decimated.
First Lieutenant George Gauthier, Bravo Battery fire direction officer, of Newton, N.Y., described it this way.
"The enemy ran away from the first rounds. We adjusted our fire and they ran right into it."
"What surprised me was that they didnt start running when they saw the first marking round," Gauthier continued. "They probably thought that it was just for some GIs who were lost."
The enemys mistake cost him dearly. Bent spotted three dead soldiers from his perch and a Nighthawk helicopter pilot later claimed to have seen as many as six dead. However, only three could be confirmed.
The Cavalry Creates A Housing
By SGT MIKE CONROY
Dau Tieng Elements of the 25th Divisions 3rd
Squadron, 4th Cavalry, created an enemy housing shortage near here by
destroying over 50 of his bunkers and other structures recently.
Operating six miles north of Dau Tieng, the men of Alfa Troop first found and destroyed 14 bunkers. The bunkers contained two cooking positions, two tables, 80 rounds of AK ammunition, four rifle grenades, one 55-gallon drum of CS gas and three gas masks.
Returning the next day, the troopers destroyed six additional bunkers, three tunnels, two wooden structures, nine fighting positions, two cooking positions, one Chicom grenade and nine chicken pens.
"No chicken soup for Charlie tonight," said one tired Horseman.
A thorough search of the area during the next two days resulted in 36 more bunkers destroyed along with a kitchen area complete with tables and chairs.
The men of the ¾ Cav are continuing to work in the area, keeping the enemy on the move and denying him access to a permanent base of operations.
Page 3 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS September 28, 1970
Tomahawks React Quickly to Viet
By SGT MIKE KEYSTER
Mobility and quick reaction have played a large part in 4th
Battalion (Mech), 23rd Infantrys operations for the past year.
For most of the year, Tomahawks of the 4/23rd have operated in War Zone C, which includes Tay Ninh and the infamous Black Virgin Mountain. Since moving from the main base camp at Tay Ninh, the Tomahawks have kept on the move. At present the mechanized battalion is still operating in III Corps area, but now 125 miles south of Tay Ninh, near Xuan Loc.
Through the past year, contact has been sporadic, but significant in reducing enemy strength and supplies.
The largest battle of the autumn in 1969 was on September 11. On that morning, Tomahawk and 7th ARVN Airborne troops were reconning the base of the Black Virgin Mountain, when they received heavy fire from an estimated enemy battalion. The 4/23rd, drawing on the quick reaction and fire power of their armored personnel carriers, and supported by artillery and gunships, eliminated 61 enemy soldiers.
In late October the Tomahawks, with several other elements in Operation Task Force Jones, netted 34 enemy killed, again at the enemy stronghold, the Black Virgin Mountain.
Combat remained at a low point until late January, when Bravo Company, 4th Battalion (Mech), 23rd Infantry made contact with an estimated enemy battalion size force near Fire Support Base Rawlins.
The next morning, Alfa Company, called in from a bushmaster in the crescent area for reinforcement, and two companies of ARVNs swept the contact area. Dead were 88 enemy.
Trouble again erupted on the slopes of the Black Virgin Mountain on March 15. Charlie Company, 4/23rd, while on a reconnaissance mission around the mountain, received heavy, accurate sniper fire.
Alfa Company and a battery of 7/11th artillery were called in for assistance. In a three-day battle, the Tomahawks, supported by mortars, artillery, gunships, and air strikes, and the 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry, killed 56 enemy.
Before long, the Cambodia campaign was in operation, and with mobility and fire power, the Tomahawks again were on the move. Operating mostly two to six miles inside Cambodia near the villages of Ph Kehley and Ph Take, and the city of Memut, the 4/23rd killed 23 enemy soldiers in numerous clashes. Over 183 tons of rice and numerous weapons and miscellaneous supplies were also captured in the 26-day Tomahawk operation.
After operating in Cambodia, the 4/23rd moved to Katum, which had been the rear logistical support base for the Cambodia campaign.
After living for several weeks in the mud and rain around Katum, the Tomahawk APCs again returned to Tay Ninh, and from there moved to their present area of operations near Xuan Loc.
Now, major areas of the 4th Battalion (Mech), 23rd Infantry have been turned over to the ARVNs.
Mobile Manchus Stymie Charlie
By SGT WILLIAM E. ZARRETT
CH CHI During the month of November, the 4th Battalion 9th
Infantry closed down all their existing fire support bases and became completely mobile.
The first outstanding operation of the new year placed Alfa Company under operational
control to the 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry on the slopes of Nui Ba
By acting as a blocking force, the Manchus took part in an operation that virtually stymied the Tet Offensive in Tay Ninh Province.
February found the Manchu Battalion working in a combined armor-infantry action in the Northern Fingers area of Tay Ninh Province. The team for the job consisted of Alpha, Charlie, and Delta Companies, 4/9, and one platoon of Manchus from Bravo Company.
Under operational control for the mission were two platoons of tanks from 2/34 Armors Alpha Company. By the end of the five day operation, the signs of success took on a material form: a confirmed body count of 15, four assault rifles, one RPG, two RPG boosters, three Chi Com grenades, one 45 caliber pistol, AK ammunition, plus a large amount of rice, clothing and medical equipment.
Meanwhile, the unglamorous task of destroying bunkers went on. The final count was 169 bunkers blown or caved in, thus destroying what had obviously been a major enemy staging area in Tay Ninh Province.
The 1st of March marked the beginning of activities in a new area of operations for the Manchu Battalion. Fire Support Base Rhode Island served as the new home for the Manchus for one month. The rear area was established in Bearcat, just south of Long Binh, with representatives from each company and each administrative section.
At the end of the month, with the black clouds of the rainy season already on the horizon, the Manchus left FSB Rhode Island and headed for higher ground. The move was only 1500 meters from the original position, but it afforded greatly improved observation, fields of fire, and drainage for the up-coming rainy season.
The new base was named Le Loi, in honor of the Vietnamese patriot who, in the 15th Century, led the uprising that liberated Vietnam from Chinese rule. The action seen in the southern area of operations was at a minimum, and when it was established the enemy quickly fled, preventing a true confrontation.
Under the operation control of the 2nd Brigade, the 4th of the 9th undertook a 46 day operation beginning the first week of May, designed to uncover and render useless the long-established enemy sanctuaries known to exist in the eastern border areas of Cambodia, northwest of Tay Ninh. Intelligence reports indicated that COSVN (Central Office of South Vietnam) was located in the area of operations.
The final statistics show the effectiveness of what came to be nicknamed by the units participating "Operation Big Haul." Forty-four enemy were killed, four enemy became Hoi Chanhs, twenty detainees were taken, twenty-three small arms and automatic weapons were confiscated and 288 tons of rice were captured.
Upon the completion of "Operation Big Haul," in Cambodia, the battalion came home to Tay Ninh, settling in an area once used by the Manchus some eight months earlier.
The Bobcats Wander All Over III Corps
XUAN LOC During the past year, the men of the 1st
Battalion (Mech), 5th Infantry have been playing "ring around III
Corps" with a brief timeout for work in Cambodia.
The Bobcat year began at Fire Support Base Devins. In February, however, that base was closed and the 1st of the 5th moved into rubber country with a rear at Dau Tieng. This was a new experience for the mech men, but they seemed to adapt readily and began rooting out enemy soldiers from the surrounding foreign-owned plantations.
On April 2, the trigger was cocked for firing the Bobcats into Cambodia. The II Field Force Tactical Operations people placed them under the temporary operation control of the 1st Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division. The rear moved to Tay Ninh, and the tactical units set up operations in the Dogs Head area. There they gained the experience that would prove so valuable later.
Upon completion of their mission with the 1st Cav, the Bobcats returned to the 25th Division to work with the ARVN in their push into the Parrots Beak.
At 6:55 a.m. on May 7, Bobcat B Company was fired across the Cambodia border hitting enemy base camp areas hard. During the next 15 days, the men of the 1st of the 5th captured tons of rice, weapons of all types and a communications facility.
In July, the unit prepared to move with the 2nd Brigade to Xuan Loc. While it was new area to much of the brigade, the land was like home to the Bobcats. More rubber country.
While at Xuan Loc, the battalion has been perfecting its ability to conduct night moves and night operations unusual tactics for a mechanized unit.
Hounds Secure The Countryside
By SP4 GREG DUNCAN
CU CHI From October 1969 to February 1970, the 2nd
Battalion 27th Infantry Wolfhounds primary mission was to provide
security, and to interdict the enemy from infiltrating into the interior of South Vietnam.
The Wolfhound area of operations extended roughly northwest along Highway 1 to Trang Bang, west to the Cambodia border, and from Cu Chi base camp west to the Cambodia Border.
In early October, Patrol Base Harris was erected on the west bank of the Vam Co Dong river. This was to facilitate battalion river boat operations, as well as to put a US position directly straddling a VC infiltration route.
Beside Harris, the Wolfhounds were also operating out of Patrol Base Kotrc, a mile and a half from the border, and from the small border village of Phuoc Luu.
While on an air-mobile operation out of Kotrc on December 12th, elements of Bravo company made contact with an estimated company size enemy force. The contact resulted in approximately 15 enemy killed and the destruction of enemy weapons to include a .51 caliber machinegun.
After February, the Wolfhounds were again operating in the same area with the same primary mission, but without the aid and security of patrol bases.
Checkpoints were established near the Cambodia border during the daytime. Anyone moving to or from the border was stopped, questioned and searched in order to keep infiltration to a minimum.
At the beginning of April, the Wolfhounds found themselves in the middle of one of the Divisions largest contacts of 1970.
After moving in to relieve a ranger team in the Renegade Woods, the Hounds encountered a well dug-in NVA regiment in a battle that lasted nearly four days. With the aid of elements of the 2nd Battalion (Mech), 22nd Infantry, gunships, artillery and air strikes, heavy casualties were inflicted on the enemy and several tons of rice, weapons and ammunition were captured.
During this time Echo Company, while pulling security for the radar set-up at Patrol Base Blue, took rocket and mortar incoming four nights in a row.
After the Renegades action, the Hounds moved to Duc Huy for nearly two weeks, where they formed a blocking force for the 25th ARVN Divisions sweep through the Angels Wing. The Hounds then moved to Fire Support Base Chamberlin, nine miles west of Cu Chi, where they continued their search for the enemy until moving into Cambodia early in May.
Although only in Cambodia a little more than four days, the Wolfhounds accounted for five enemy killed, and the capture of several large caches.
From the end of May until the present, the 2nd Hounds have been working out of Cu Chi. While eighty percent of the Divisions troops were either in Cambodia, or directly supporting Cambodia operations, the leg battalion took over an AO usually controlled by an entire brigade.
Artwork by SP4 Jim Willard / Photography by SP4 Joseph V. Kocian
Page 4 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS September 28, 1970
Redlegs Make Smooth
Arty Men Adapting to New Weapons
By SP5 DOUG SAINSBURY
CU CHI Providing direct artillery support for the 3rd
Brigade has been a time-consuming job for the 2nd Battalion, 77th
Artillery during the past year.
In September 1969 the Up Tight battalion received 18 brand-new M102, 105mm howitzers which replaced the old split-trailed M101A1, 105mm howitzers. The transition was smooth and the howitzer section personnel quickly adapted to the new weapon.
In late September and early October, A Battery, 2/77th was located at Patrol Base Kotrc, only four kilometers from the Cambodian border. Kotrc blocked a principal NVA infiltration route from Cambodia to the Saigon area, and the enemy was determined to knock the patrol base out.
Two separate ground attacks were staged by the NVA against Kotrc in an effort to re-open the infiltration route. In both instances, the Redlegs of Alfa Battery found themselves engaging in hand to hand combat with the enemy sappers and using direct fire to repel other incoming enemy soldiers. These actions left 50 enemy dead.
In late October last year, C Battery located at Fire Support Base Chamberlain, took part in a unique artillery tactical operation.
Two of the batterys howitzers were placed on "paddy platforms" and airlifted to a point near the Vam Co Dong River, which was later named Patrol Base Handel.
Personnel of the two sections literally lived on two other such platforms. Marshy, water saturated terrain has traditionally precluded the establishment of conventional artillery patrol and fire support bases, thus limiting the flexibility of a howitzer battery.
The paddy platforms, however, eliminated poor terrain obstacles to effective artillery support. The 2/77th was the first artillery battalion in the 25th Division to utilize the platforms in this manner.
Between October 1969 and March 1970, the 2/77ths firing batteries remained relatively stationary. Other elements of the battalion, however, continued to be active, such as those that played an instrumental role in the establishment of the Combined Fire Support Coordination Center for Hau Nghia Province at Boa Trai. The CFSCC became a central allied agency for clearance of artillery, naval and air fires.
In February, the 2/77th assumed responsibility for Cu Chi Base Camp artillery defense. Throughout the year, the battalions Civil Affairs section maintained vigorous MEDCAP and ICAP programs.
April signaled a shift in the Divisions concentration of operations, and the Up Tight Redlegs took to the road and to the air in support of the infantry in their frequent moves. The 2/77ths supported units began working west and northwest of Cu Chi near the Cambodia border and all three of the 2/77ths firing batteries drove and airlifted to various "hard spots" and patrol bases in that region.
During the Cambodian Operation, B Battery moved across the border to Fire Support Base Hilltop where it supported the Divisions 1st Brigade. After all US units returned from Cambodia, the Up Tight battalions firing batteries once again united, after operating in as split-battery concept for several months, and moved to their new area of operations north of Cu Chi.
In early July, A Battery built Fire Support Base Redleg employing the concept that cannoneers can pull their own security as well as providing support.
Charlie Battery quickly followed suit and rebuilt a model base called Fire Support Base Tennessee on the remains of an old ARVN compound.
This enabled infantry elements which would normally provide the security of the base to freely participate in maneuver activities.
Clan Batteries Scenes of Toil
By SP MICHAEL J. ROCHE
CU CHI Since October 1969, the batteries of the 3rd
Battalion, 13th Field Artillery have been the scene of constant toil.
Over the past 12 months, they have successfully supported the infantry and reinforced other artillery units. However, their responsibilities have gone far beyond those activities.
Move Nine Times
Moving has always been a major part of an artillery units duties. As many as nine times a month, they are ordered to relocate. The building of fire direction centers, mess halls, bunkers and hootches has become an everyday occurrence around the batteries.
It has gotten to the point that their capabilities in construction are second only to their masterful talents in the field of artillery. They are known throughout the division for turning bare fields into efficient fire bases in a matter of only a few days.
In May of this year, Charlie Battery of the 3rd of the 13th had the distinction of being the first medium sized artillery unit to enter Cambodia in support of infantry forces. The other batteries soon followed and continued to support the operation until the withdrawal of all American troops at the end of June.
As is often the case, surveillance was limited on that operation. When results have come back to the batteries, they have been exceptional.
The men of the Clan have pumped a lot of lead during the past year and look forward in the coming year to the firing of round number 900,000 in the Republic of Vietnam.
Artwork by SP4 Jim Willard
Photography by SP4 Joseph V. Kocian
Page 5 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS September 28, 1970
Keep Enemy on the
Divarty Batteries Make 600 Moves
SP5 William L. McGown
CU CHI With the continual redeployment of US troops and the
subsequent expansion of operational boundaries for the remaining units, the role of
artillery in Vietnam has become increasingly important.
Constantly looking for a place to move into or establish a supply route, Charlie is quick to notice a gap caused by strength reduction.
As a countermeasure, 25th Division Artillery (DivArty) has found that the key to effectively plugging these openings and keeping Charlie hurting for supplies is rapid mobility.
Although the old concept of maximum area coverage from a semi-fixed fire support base (FSB) is also used, DivArty has increasingly used the tactic of artillery movement to keep the enemy on the defensive.
The primary mission of DivArty is to provide artillery fire support to the maneuver battalions of the 25th Infantry Division and when the infantry moves out after Charlie, DivArty moves to support them.
To date this year, DivArty units have made over 600 separate moves. (A move is the displacement of one or more howitzers from one location to another. Normally a whole battery, 4-6 artillery pieces, relocates together. However, sometimes only half a battery or just one gun will be displaced, depending upon tactical requirements.)
Although the lighter 105mm howitzer can be transported by airlift, approximately 87 per cent of the displacements have been by road employing the maneuverability of the 155mm and 8 inch self-propelled (SP) Howitzers.
An excellent example of artillery mobility is found in the M110 Howitzer (8 inch) which has a cruising range of about 450 miles, can travel at speeds in excess of 35 miles per hour, and upon arrival at location can be emplaced in two minutes.
Utilizing this rapid mobility at the end of May, 25th DivArty staged the first and largest artillery raid in Cambodia. For the surprise attack, a total of 17 SP medium and heavy artillery guns moved from their respective fire support bases and massed together at the re-opened FSB Wood, three and a half miles northwest of Thien Ngon.
At the rate of seven rounds per minute, the 155mm and 8 inch Howitzers pounded away at known and suspected enemy positions along a 20 mile crescent-shaped sector across from the Dogs Face Region in Cambodia.
Aerial observers reported numerous secondary explosions in the target area indicating that many stored munitions stockpiles and enemy bunker complexes were destroyed. During the five hour assault, the arty units, massed for the raid, fired more than 3,700 high explosive rounds into enemy sanctuaries.
The Cambodian campaign also demonstrated the rapid mobility of DivArty. During the first week of operations, DivArty units made a total of 69 moves, either into Cambodia or to take up the slack left by other units employed in the operation. By the beginning of the second week, the 1st Battalion, 8th Field Artillery had entirely relocated in Cambodia, despite three convoy ambushes in the process.
Another movement problem was the more than 6,000 tons of ammunition which had to be transported. In support of some 180 contact missions called in by the maneuver forces there, DivArty units expended in excess of 100,000 rounds of ammunition during the eight week period.
This was a substantial portion of the more than half a million rounds fired by all DivArty units from January to September.
While in Cambodia, 1/8th had the distinction of being the only arty unit to find two ammo caches. As a reward for the many services rendered by the medics and men from headquarters battery on their daily MEDCAP, some of the villages informed them of the location of the caches.
On two successive days, the men of the Automatic Eighth uncovered enemy caches containing many supplies including three 82mm mortar rounds, seventy-two 120mm mortar rounds with fuses and propellants, and one sewing machine.
Batteries Batter Foe in
By SP4 TOM BENN
During the period from October, 1969 to October, 1970, the 7th
Battalion, 11th Artillery took part in several significant operations while
supporting the 1st Brigade.
Among these were the Cambodian operation in May and June of 1970 and also Operation Total Victory in the Tay Ninh Area during the first four months of the new year.
In the Cambodian operation, the On Time battalion was the first Tropic Lightning artillery unit to cross into Cambodia when 7/11ths Bravo Battery penetrated the border at Fire Support Base Minnie. The base had been secured just four days earlier by Alfa Battery of the same battalion.
Among the units that were dependant upon 7/11th in Cambodia were 4/23rd (Mech), 1/5th (Mech) and 3/22nd Infantry. Timely firepower from 7/11th helped these units immensely in their mission to find and destroy enemy sanctuaries.
The artillerymen entered Cambodia on two fronts during that operation, crossing first at FSB Minnie and later when they convoyed north from Katum and worked the area just west of the Fish Hook.
Total Victory was a drawn-out operation designed to clean up the Tay Ninh area. During the operation, enemy activity dropped to a new low.
In April, 7/11ths batteries were kept busy as they supported 65th Engineer Rome Plow operations in the now non-existent Straight Edge Woods and Renegade Woods. They also supported 1/5th (Mech) in mid-April shortly after Fire Support Bases Jay and Illingsworth were overrun.
In late July, 7/11th left Tay Ninh and set up operations in Dau Tieng.
Page 6 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS September 28, 1970
Long, Long Road Sweeps
First Wolfhounds Move Out in Clouds of Dust
By SGT DAN DAVIS
In October 1969 the 1st Battalion 27th Infantry was
conducting countless numbers of airmobile and recon missions around Fire Support Base
The Hounds put a quick stop to enemy infiltration and harassment of the villagers in the area west of here.
With the help of the Navy out of Tra Cu, the Wolfhounds conducted sweep operations along the Vam Co Dong River destroying what were once enemy sanctuaries.
The area west of the river was said to belong to Charlie. The Hounds chased the guerillas out thereby making it safe for the people to return to homes that had been vacated several years earlier.
The men of the recon platoon operated out of Duc Hoa with ARVN Forces. The combined operations took on new meaning for the battalion as the ARVNs began to assume more and more of the responsibility for the fighting in the area.
The battalion rear, which had become accustomed to staying in a relatively stationary area, now became a very flexible and mobile unit much the same as a line company. In January the battalion moved to Dau Tieng to conduct operations.
Their stay, however, was short lived. In February it was on to Bearcat. Clouds of dust and grit were the hallmarks of the long road sweeps between Fire Support Base Colorado and "Check Point Seven."
Alfa Company once again took to the water but this time they did not have the services of the Navy. Operating in streams and river tributaries, the grunts made good use of small outboards in their patrols.
May brought the challenge of operating in what the enemy had long considered a secure sanctuary. Assaulting into the Fishhook region of Cambodia, the battalion captured tons of rice and ammunition thereby depriving the enemy of sorely needed supplies.
Series of Moves
After Cambodia, the battalion began a series of moves which carried them throughout large portions of the divisions area of operations. The hounds moved to Fire Support Base Lynch to pick up where the 199th Light Infantry Brigade had left off. Stomping through enemy base camps and sanctuaries was a trademark of the 1st Hounds.
Now in a new home at Fire Support Base Kien, in the Trapezoid area above Cu Chi, the hounds are smashing the enemy again, cutting off supply routes along the Saigon corridor.
The Year of the Dragons Highlighted by Cambodia
Of the many operations by the 2d Battalion, 14th Infantry,
during the past year the foray into Cambodia had to be the most noteworthy.
Airmobiled in from just across the border, three companies of Golden Dragons landed just south of the Dogs Face region in Cambodia. The GIs began engaging a scattered and confused enemy force while searching out the first of many cache sites and bunker complexes.
Sweeping north through dense jungle, one company located an NVA training center complete with classrooms, charts and models of typical US defensive positions.
As the Dragons pushed north through triple canopy jungle, they uncovered another training and staging area consisting of 30 hootches and bunkers. In the course of the operation the battalion captured many tons of rice, assorted documents and medical supplies, 100 bicycles, four motorcycles, and various other equipment used to support a large enemy force.
Ho Bo Fight
During the fall of last year the battalion, stationed at Patton, engaged a determined, well entrenched enemy force in the Ho Bo Woods. Working the area around Trung Lap, the Dragons main concern was to provide security for the village and eliminate the VC infrastructure.
The GIs were not solely occupied with combat operations however. Building a new school, relocating refugees and providing housing material, the infantrymen were able to move small hamlets to secure areas around Trung Lap village.
In addition, the continual medical civic actions program enables the villagers to receive aid on a regular basis.
Moving westward in early January, the battalion was based at Fire Support Base Jackson, just west of Go Dau Ha. The Dragons were deployed along the Cambodian border in order to block known infiltration routes.
The men of 2/14th spent many days wading through waist-deep marsh and an equal number of mosquito infested nights searching for an ever elusive enemy. After many rumors, the Golden Dragons received the official word the 1st of May: next stop, Cambodia.
After the last lift of relieved grunts headed home from Cambodia, the battalion moved its entire support and combat elements to Dau Tieng Base Camp. The rugged geographics of the area, namely rubber plantations and the Razorback Mountains, explain why the region has been a favorite enemy stronghold.
In addition to searching out the NVA forces and destroying bunkers, the battalion infantrymen have the task of locating the enemys rocket and mortar sites which have been plaguing the base camp for some time.
Landmark Year For Warriors
By SP4 ED TOULOUSE
DAU TIENG Pershing, Lorence, Dees, Kien, Katum and Warrior
these are the landmarks that outline a year of travel and conflict for the men of the 2nd
Battalion, 12th Infantry. At every place the story was the same: the enemy
sought out and destroyed.
The following chronological account joined with newspaper headlines from the past year is a tribute to the units success.
October 15, 1969: From Fire Support Base Pershing, a Warrior base of operations north and west of Cu Chi near the village of Trang Bang, the battalion pulled frequent operations in the ever treacherous Boi Loi and Ho Bo Woods areas.
September 22, 1969: Fire Support Base Lorence was built and named in memory of Specialist 4 John E. Lorence, a unit member killed in action. Headlines that emanated from the base tell the story:
"Warriors Occupy Booby Trap Garden"
An unidentified infantryman gave the account. "There were booby traps everywhere. I couldnt believe there were so many in such a small area. The first day, we found sixty-five of them."
November 3, 1969: Now operating in the Ho Bo Woods, the Warriors again did their thing. Another headline, another story:
"Concentrated Firepower Kills 47 NVA"
January, 1970: Their task accomplished at Pershing, the 2nd of the 12th moved north to Fire Support Base Kien near the village of Dau Tieng.
"Warriors Rap Enemy in Trapezoid"
In May, the Warriors, like the rest of the division, moved into Cambodia. During the operation, they uncovered better than 130,000 pounds of enemy rice.
Again, a headline tells the tale:
"Warriors Fight to Cache"
Toward the end of June, the weary Warriors wrapped up their Cambodia involvement and were flown east from Katum to a desolate clearing in a thickly vegetated area to the northwest of Dau Tieng.
The battalion was faced with a formidable task build a fire support base. The foreboding jungle embracing the perimeter provided the inspiration. Within a few weeks, concertina wire, sandbags and p.s.p. put the units new Fire Support Base Warrior on the map.
Artwork by SP4 Jim Willard, Photography by SP4 Joseph V. Kocian
Page 7 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS September 28, 1970
Regulars on Nui Ba Den;
Make Like Mountain Goats
By SP4 KRIS PETERSEN
FSB LYNCH Since last October, the walking Regulars of the 3rd
Battalion, 22nd Infantry have beat feet from the scarred slopes of Nui Ba Den
to the sun-baked fields of Cambodia.
Early this year, the men made like mountain goats and crawled up and down the Black Virgin Mountain trying to smoke out a regiment of NVA. In March, the Regulars were summoned to the mountain again. With the aid of air strikes, gunships and the firepower of various mech units acting as blocking forces at the base, they began a nook and cranny search for the enemy.
They climbed the mountain down, poking into the myriad caves and crevasses in hopes of coaxing out the entrenched enemy from his many-tunneled home.
The Regulars did locate numerous NVA hiding places and called in air strikes to destroy them.
One Day in May
In May, the 3rd of the 22nd took part in another kind of operation in another kind of country Cambodia. The regulars penetrated the border on the 5th and immediately confronted a sizeable enemy force posing as friendly Cambodian villagers.
The Americans didnt take the bait. They opened up with small arms and automatic weapons fire.
South Vietnamese jet fighters then pounded the village while Cobra gunships strafed the outlying woodlines with their mini-guns.
The men of the 3rd of the 22nd spent another month in Cambodia mopping up the enemy destroying his base camps, capturing his medical supplies and confiscating his tons of rice.
As the Regulars marched out of Cambodia, they marched into the 3rd Brigades Fire Support Base Kien.
Their mission at Kien was to improve the morale and effectiveness of the local regular forces units. Joint platoon and company size operations were undertaken with substantial success.
The Regulars have just been transferred to the 2nd Brigade. Stationed near Xuan Loc, the 3rd of the 22nd is working an area in the vicinity of Operation Base Lynch.
Dreadnaughts: First Americans Into Cambodia
The highpoint of the past year for the 2nd Battalion, 34th
Armor came in early May when the Dreadnaughts were the first American unit to enter
Hours before President Richard M. Nixons dramatic TV announcement of the Cambodian operations, the 2/34th was spearheading the 25th Infantry Divisions advance into the Dogs Face region.
On May 11, the battalion withdrew to Tay Ninh and surrounding firebases. On May 14th, Lieutenant Colonel Birtrum S. Kidwell Jr. assumed command.
Earlier in the Dreadnaughts 69-70 campaign, eight members of the 2nd Platoon Alfa Company were awarded the Silver Star for heroism. The decorations were for action during the 2/34th operations around the base of Nui Ba Dan. The tankers were conducting RIFs around the mountains lower slopes during late 69 and early 70.
One of the toughest operations of the year was conducted during March around Camp Martin Cox, better known as Bearcat. In joint operations with the infantry, the 2/34th uncovered huge bunker complexes and rice caches in the triple canopy jungle.
Before this, the jungles had provided a safe hideaway from allied troops, but the M48 tanks busting jungle all day long uncovered sizeable enemy forces continually during the operation.
Recently, the Dreadnaughts moved from Tay Ninh, where they had been the security force, to newly-built Fire Support Base Simmons, from which they are sweeping through a French-owned Rubber Plantation.
Between Saigon and Tay
Triple Deuce Secures Highway
By SP4 Frank Salerno
CU CHI During the last year 2nd Battalion, 22nd
Infantry has spent most of its time in the large area surrounding Cu Chi.
As the month of October drew to a close, 2/22nd Triple Deuce was concluding operations in the Boi Loi Woods. As the companies returned to the Cu Chi area, the most immediate task was securing Highway 1 between here and Go Dau Ha, the main supply route going north and south between Cu Chi and Tay Ninh.
It also serves as the princple means of civilian travel between Saigon and population centers as far north as Tay Ninh City.
Triple Deuce, operating out of support bases Devins, Hampton, Dixon and Phuoc Luu village secured the highway and insured safe travel for both military and civilian personnel. With this primary mission completed in late February, Triple Deuce started the long and tedious job of searching for the enemy.
March and April found Triple Deuce working northwest of Cu Chi in the Filhol and the Renegade Woods. These areas were being used as infiltration and supply routes. Recent activity in these areas also pointed to an enemy build-up.
In early May, at the order of President Richard M. Nixon, American combat troops entered Cambodia. Triple Deuce, along with other 25th Division units, crossed the border and entered the previously forbidden North Vietnamese sanctuaries.
With a major staging and resupply area located at Thien Ngon, Triple Deuce was able to seek out and destroy enemy base camps in the Dogs Face and Krek areas. This contributed to the overall success of American operations in Cambodia.
Upon returning to Vietnam in late June, and spending the month of July at Thien Ngon and Katum, the men of Triple Deuce resumed the unfinished job of searching for the enemy.
In August and September the Cu Chi area once again became the principle area of operations for the 2nd Battalion (Mech) 22nd Infantry. Missions were conducted in the Iron Triangle, and are presently underway in the Filhol
Page 8 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS September 28, 1970
Counters NVA Offensives
Cavalry Denies the Enemy His Freedom to Move
By SGT MIKE CONROY
Durng all of January 1969, the 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry participated in
Operation Toan Thang, Phase III, and supported Operation Pizza. There were additional
operations which were conducted in the Mushrooms, Boi Loi Woods, Filhol Rubber, Little
Rubbers and the areas around Go Dau Ha and Trang Bang.
The squadron was operating under the direct control of the 25th Division Headquarters. Reconnaissance in force missions were used to develop the situation in all areas. Maximum use was made of artillery, gunships, fire power and air strikes in support of ground operations.
During this one month period the squadron was in continuous contact with enemy forces and given credit for killing eighty-seven enemy soldiers.
The Cav was also successful in destroying numerous enemy bunkers and equipment in addition to capturing 60,500 pounds of rice.
The squadron was also able to successfully operate in the Angel Wing, a few miles from the Cambodian border, substantially reducing enemy use of supply routes.
During the period February through May, the 3/4 Cav participated in Operation Trang Tang, Phase III and supported Operations Pizza and Caesar. The Squadron controlled road-sweeps, convoy escort and provided security on the main supply route.
In addition to this, the Squadron performed reconnaissance missions in assigned areas of operations. The Squadron AO during this period included the Ho Bo Woods and Boi Loi Woods.
In conjunction with units of the 25th ARVN Division Regional Forces, Popular Forces and National Police, the squadron conducted operations in these areas to counter enemy initiative, destroy his sanctuaries, thwart enemy night activities and deny the enemy freedom of movement.
During the operations in Toan Thong, Phase III, the 3/4 Cav captured numerous amounts of medical supplies and 65,000 pounds of rice. The numerous enemy contacts in the squadron AO resulted in a 250 enemy body count.
The unit received the Valorous Unit Award for the period January 1, 1969 to February 22 1969. The Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Bronze Star was awarded to the 3/4 Cav for the period January to March making it the only battalion size unit to receive the award.
The squadron continued to participate in Operation Toan Thong, Phase III while supporting Operation Pizza and Ranger operations. Operations were conducted in the Boi Loi Woods, the Little Rubber, Big Rubber and Tay Ninh district.
The squadron was given the additional mission of supporting rome plow operations. The employment of the rome plows to clear land and deny the enemy his natural hiding areas proved most effective.
In addition to normal operations, the 3/4 Cav conducted refresher training for the 10th ARVN Cav. The final phase of training consisted of independent ARVN operations.
From November through December, the squadron participated in Toan Thong Phase IV. The squadron continued to train and share a joint AO with the 10th ARVN Cav.
The efforts of the officers and men of the 3/4 proved extremely successful during the Cambodian campaign. Operating in the Dogs Face and Fish Hook regions of Cambodia, the troopers uncovered numerous enemy supply caches.
725th Keeps Division Ever Ready to Move
The 25th Infantry Division has continued to remain the best maintained
division in Vietnam over the past year, according to USARV statistics better than 60,000
maintenance jobs were completed during this period while at the same time the 725th
reduced the equipment backlog from 228 pieces last October to a new low of 103 pieces of
equipment deadlined on September 10, 1970.
The 725 the maintenance Battalion's soldier technicians have maintained an average equipment availability rate of 98 per cent.
Particularly significant was the divisions' maintenance record during the Cambodian operations, for it was during this period that the division led USARV in equipment availability for nine of ten "operational readiness" areas.
The 725th Maintenance Battalion was busy in other areas, too. Endeavoring to retain highly skilled technicians, an intensified program to reenlist highly qualified and motivated personnel was instituted in February 1970. The Battalion improved its reenlistment rate four fold that month and has continued to attain not less than 100 per cent of its reenlistment objective since that time winning the commanding generals reenlistment award for support units during both the 1st and 2nd quarters of 1970.
Civic Action projects remained high on the 725th's priority list during the year. Through voluntary troop donations in excess of $7,500 the Battalion supported the Vien Rose Orphanage in Hoc Mon and furnished the materials, transportation and coordination necessary to assure the completion to two elementary schools in nearby hamlets and the renovation of a Child Day Care Center in Cu Chi.
The 725th specializes in providing schools where none have previously existed and is presently supporting construction the first high school in Phuoc Heip.
Engineers Concentrate On
By PFC JAMES D. STOUP
CU CHI - The 65th Engineer Battalion, the engineers for the 25th Infantry
Division, has continued to provide excellent combat engineer support during the past year
as it has since its first component, Charlie Company, came to Vietnam in 1965.
The 65th Engineers were the first unit of the 25th Infantry Division to come to the war zone.
During the past year Vietnamization has been the key word for the 65th Engineers, as it has been for most of the units within the division.
A sizeable portion of the credit due the 25th Infantry Division for its important role in Operation Bold Lancer belongs to the 65th Engineer Battalion. In addition to the seizure and destruction of enemy supply points both in Cambodia and Vietnam, the engineers can add the following missions to their credit: the Battalion constructed numerous Bailey Bridges, twenty M4T6 dry spans, five M4T6 rafts, and four M4T6 float bridges.
In particular, M4T6 rafts were rapidly constructed and placed into operation at Go Dau Ha to replace the previously existing bridge that was destroyed in February by the enemy. Other key bridging operations included the construction of a 13 M4T6 bridge used to launch the division into Cambodia in early May .
Another major responsibility of the 65th Engineer Battalion was in the maintenance of the main supply routes (MSRs). This responsibility included the upgrading of road surfaces, continual grading and ditching to insure proper drainage, the emplacement of culverts, and emergency road repairs.
Land clearing is another important facet of the engineer's work, for it denies the enemy his hiding places.
Better than 14,815 acres of land were cleared by the "Whiskey Fifth," while 29 tunnels were destroyed, over 140 mines and boobytraps were encountered, and approximately 200 rocket, mortar, and artillery round were detected and destroyed .
Defense and fortification construction is always a necessity, and the 65th Engineers constructed 39 new fire support bases, 23 of which were built in support of the Cambodian operations.
Another little known fact to the 65th Engineer's credit is the fact that they provide nearly all the potable water for the 25th Division, both in the base camp and out in the field. This endeavor includes the location of surface water sources, the excavation of wells, and necessary purification and testing.
Other important missions completed by the 65th Engineer Battalion during the past year include: continual mine sweeps and demolition team support; river boating and patrolling operations the continual upgrading of berm lines at the various fire support bases as well as at the major base camps; and the construction and re-construction of bunkers and defensive positions.
Also to the 65th Engineer Battalion's credit is an expansive Vietnamization and pacification program, which includes: MEDCAPs; ARVN training, both in the classroom and in the field; and the construction and clearing of land areas for schools, churches, and hospitals.
Artwork by SP4 Jim Willard; Photography by SP4 Joseph V. Kocian
Ron Leonard, 25th Aviation Bn., for locating and mailing this issue,
Kirk Ramsey, 2nd Bn., 14th Inf. for creating this page.
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