Vol 6 No. 4 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS February 22, 1971
|1/5 Photo 2
|1/5 Photo 3
|3/22 Photos 3
|2/12 Photos 4
|2/12 Photo 1
|3/4 Cav 8
|75th Ranger 3
|3/4 Cav Photos 8
|Stephanie Clark 7
|Miss Black America 7
Warrior's Recon - An Elite Group
|WET FEET - According to First Lieutenant John Hendricks of Richmond, Va., "Keeping a watchful eye is essential while on recon patrol." 1LT Hendricks is recon platoon leader for the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry.
By PFC RAY CASSIDY
FSB BARBARA - Equipped with camouflaged fatigues, black berets and back breaking packs, they move slowly and quietly through klicks and klicks of jungle. "They" are members of the 2nd Brigade, 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Division's, elite reconnaissance platoon.
Besides the difference in wardrobe, recon also works differently than the average line company. Although heavily armed, their mission is to find the enemy but not engage him, or as some of the recon people say "search and avoid".
Recon is comprised of men with MOS's of straight leg infantry, mortarmen, recoilless rifle, and reconnaissance. Many of the men in the element are on second or third tours and all members of recon are volunteers.
Recon is not strictly for the man with the infantry MOS. Anyone willing to put on a heavy rucksack and walk a long way is eligible to join. As Sgt. Pete Snyder of Staten Island, N.Y. explained, "We try not to judge a man by his MOS. If he wants to join bad enough, we will take him on a two week trial basis. Recently we had a cook that was going to join, but he got a drop and went home instead."
The reasons for volunteering to wear the black beret vary from man to man.
Continued on Pages 4-5
Page 2 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS February 22, 1971
Next Best Thing To Being There
Soon after his arrival in Vietnam a G.I. becomes a walking price list for camera equipment. Owning a camera becomes the thing to do and few GI's avoid the temptation. Photography equipment that dangles from a soldier's neck as naturally as a good luck charm or an M16 bandelier ranges from the all purpose Instatmatic to the sophisticated SLR camera.
The camera allows the GI in lighter moments to play the free lance photographer, who always gets his flick, sometimes blurred, sometimes cropped so that a head is left out, but nevertheless captured. The GI is not always a fighting machine, he can be a tourist. A not unfamiliar scene in the 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry is the crazy synchronized dance of rising and falling cameras as a column of APC's passes a picture-worthy scene.
The reasons for a GI becoming a shutterbug are as many and varied as his war stories. A tour in Vietnam can in itself be a reason to own a camera. A year spent in the boonies is an over - whelming experience. So much can happen to a person that significant happenings can be forgotten. Photos are a source of amusing and sober memories of these important events.
The war has its times of boredom. A camera serves to help the GI keep himself occupied.
The modern GI can go Dad and his WWII stories one better. The grunt of the Vietnam conflict has his pictures to verify those inevitable war stories. The GI's third eye captures for posterity the look of revulsion in the face of a grunt eating C-Rations, the bewildered innocence of a war child, or the frenzied letting go of troops at a 3-day stand down.
Pictures most importantly show the folks back home what the war was really like. The war that the boonie rat knows, not the war Walter Cronkite reports. Pictures serve to convey to the home front the discomforts of humping through the bush or what the stabbing fear of a firefight is like, in war Vietnam style. One picture of a weary unshaven GI is worth a thousand words.
Buddies are another important reason for the widespread presence of cameras in Nam. Camaraderie in the boondocks is one of the few things of which a GI can be certain. Grunts have to work together to make it through a year. In looking back, pictures will be mementos of those gone but not forgotten.
Memories fade with the first step off the freedom bird, the war is forgotten. A GI does want to forget Vietnam, but on the other hand, for many the tour was a year of hard won maturity, it cannot be forgotten. He will paradoxically display a perverse vanity in completing a year there.
Pictures are one of the few lasting material things a soldier brings back from Vietnam. Film will prove that there was a Vietnam and he was there.
|CHEESE! -- SP4 Steve Boeh, of Portland, Ore., a gunner with Alfa Company, 1st Battalion (Mech.), 5th Infantry, grabs a flick of the battalion correspondent during a recent stand down.
TLA To The Rescue
HEY THERE! Forget someone at Christmas time? Miss someone's birthday? Or maybe you couldn't find the right gift for Valentines Day. Well, your troubles are over. The Tropic Lightning Association Gift Shop, located in building 15882 (Second building to the right of Brigade Headquarters), now has a complete line of gifts that will excite the whole family. There's a Brigade Crest for your chick back home, and a 25th Division Record for the old man. For mom, there's a Miniature Machete and a letter opener, a wallet or lighter for your kid brother. Also, order your yearbook now!
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.
COL Joseph R. Ulatoski . . . . Commanding Officer
1LT F.E. Herron . . . . . . . . . . . Information Officer
1LT Richard Harris . . . . . . . . Officer-in-Charge
SP4 Scott A. Watson . . . . . . Editor
SP4 Michael J. Winston . . . Assistant Editor
SP4 Dave Maclary . . . . . . . . Production Supervisor
|SGT Bob Lodi
SP4 John Corbin
SP4 John Beres
SP4 Willie Morris
|SP4 Gary Burch
PFC Ray Cassidy
PFC Richard Haley
SP4 Jim Schmidt
Page 3 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS February 22, 1971
2nd Bn, 12th Inf.
FSB BARBARA - Warriors of the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry killed three Viet Cong and destroyed a number of bunkers near here recently. Two of the VC killed occurred on the same day.
An element of Bravo Company, patrolling an oft-used enemy trail, discovered that two of the enemy were trailing them. Remaining calm the GIs maneuvered the curious VC into an open position and then surprised them with several quick bursts of small arms fire.
After the initial blasts of their small arms fire, the men swept the area, finding one of the enemy dead and his AK and two AK magazines.
Nearby the Warriors located a cluster of six bunkers which the enemy had been using as a repair shop. An assortment of vehicle parts were found.
A second VC was killed by elements of the Warriors' Alfa Company later that day. In this case, a lone VC was contacted and killed by a small patrol several miles southeast of here.
Several days later the Recon platoon reported some movement in some bushes. After a warning had been made without results, the GIs reconned the bush by fire. An ensuing sweep of the area uncovered one dead VC.
1st Bn, 27th Inf.
FSB BEVERLY - Over a recent two-week period the Wolfhounds of the 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry killed 11 Viet Cong and located seven bunkers in the area northwest of here.
Alfa Company opened the period by locating the bunkers and then several days later killed one VC with a mechanical ambush.
Three days later Alfa's totals were completed when an enemy force was surprised by the Hounds. The quick contact in which the enemy didn't stay around very long, resulted in three VC killed.
Delta Co. reported six VC killed and various amounts of supplies captured in three separate actions.
Two of the contacts were by mechanical ambushes, the first killing three and the other killing one. Besides the bodies, the GIs found four AKs, a carbine and sundry amounts of ammunition and supplies.
Two more dead Communists were found by the Wolfhounds in the third report.
Charley Co. bushed an unknown number of VC early one morning. There was no return fire. A later search uncovered one badly wounded Cong who was medevaced out of the area.
1st Bn (Mech.), 5th Inf.
XUAN LOC - Over the past few days the 1/5 (Mech.) destroyed a total of sixteen bunkers in an area nine miles west of Xuan Loc.
The first find was made by Charlie Company recon patrol. Four bunkers were found in the morning hours and nine more the same afternoon. In searching out the bunkers several M-16 magazines, one grenade and a claymore mine were found.
Three days later, an element of Alpha Company destroyed three trench positions several yards from the bunker complex.
One Viet Cong was killed along a trail west of the bunkers two days later. After several blasts of small arms fire, the platoon swept the area finding one dead VC and an AK-47. A few yards away an RPG launcher was found. No GIs were hurt in the action.
3rd Bn, 22nd Inf.
FSB LEOPARD - Republic of Vietnam (25th Div IO) - The Regulars scored again in finding enemy bunkers and killing four VC in an area NW of FSB Leopard the past several days.
Charlie Company opened the period by killing one Viet Cong with a mechanical ambush. Two days later Charlie Company again surprised and killed a North Vietnamese Regular. Sweeping the area, the Regulars found one AK-50 near the body.
Delta Company on the same day reported finding two bunkers and three trenches. No equipment or weapons were found when a search was made.
One day later Charlie Company again made contact and one more Viet Cong was killed.
Charlie Company, still on the move, discovered a reinforced concrete bunker the next day. A search of the area proved it had been vacant for sometime.
Charlie Company killed another VC the next day with a hasty ambush set up along a trail. One AK-47 found.
Co F, 75th Rangers
FSB SCHWARTZ - Rangers of the 75th Infantry's Company F battled a large group of Viet Cong in a wooded area northwest of here recently, killing four.
The GIs encountered the enemy force moving through the trees of a wild banana grove. A quick exchange of gun fire ensured and the enemy took to cover.
The Tropic Lightning Rangers immediately called in artillery and helicopter gunships while keeping the VC pinned down with a continuous stream of small arms and automatic weapons fire.
A subsequent sweep uncovered four enemy dead and two AK-47s. Two U.S. troops suffered minor wounds.
|IT'S A LONG WAY FROM DILLEY, TEX. -- PFC Oscar Cantu doesn't take any chances on forgetting where the trigger is. Cantu is an assistant machinegunner for 2nd platoon, Charley 3/22 which has been working the jungles and the bananas west of Xuan Loc.
|VETERAN GRUNT -- Spec 4 Dave Allred humps boonies for Charley Company, 3/22 as he's been doing for more than 11 months now - with a sharp lookout and a ready weapon. Only two more missions and Allred will be heading home to Los Angeles, where a girl and a brand new Mach I are waiting.
Page 4-5 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS February 22, 1971
Continued from Page 1
Explaining his reason, Private First Class Gary Moore, an RTO from Hickery, N.C., stated that "I like recon because being such a small, experienced group we can be more flexible. We have a lot more freedom of movement than a large line company. We can slip into an area quickly and with a minimum of noise."
SGT Dan Tucker of St Maries, Ga., gave a different reason, saying "I guess I joined recon because of its size. After working together a while, we learn what we can expect out of each other. That's really important when we make contact."
What seems to be the main reason for recon's appeal is the fact that everyone that is in recon is there because he wants to be.
"The guys don't complain too much about having to carry a lot of extra weight in their rucksacks. Of course, a man can't complain about something he volunteered to do. Besides, everyone carries his fair share. We really stick together too, in and out of the field. I guess thats what I really like about recon," adds SP4 Bob Lucier, a medic from Holyoke, Mass.
A mission with recon is a vary relaxed affair. Relaxed in the sense that the team "keeps its cool" while at the same time taking every security precaution imaginable. Precautions such as keeping noise to a minimum. A man pulling guard in their night position spends his time between watching and listening for the enemy and keeping the chronic snorers from sounding off. Recon also uses the old Basic Training theme of "your rifle is your best friend". No man is more than an arms reach from his rifle at any time.
Placing security as its top priority has paid off, for they have not had a serious casualty in over a year.
Despite their motto of "Search and avoid" they do occasionally engage the enemy if they feel they can do so without any casualties. Of course just being in the field makes even the best soldiers susceptable to enemy ambushes and recon is no exception.
The philosophy of recon is best described by a little patch worn on the shirt pocket of the recon's Cammies. Shaped like a peace sign, the patch is inscribed with "Peace Through Recon Fire Superiority". That philosophy is one of unity mixed with quite a bit of pride.
|EVERYTHING BUT THE KITCHEN SINK -- The radio isn't enough sometimes while on recon patrol in an unexplored area. For example, take a look at the equipment packed on the back of this member of 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry's recon platoon.
|SPLISH SPLASH, TAKIN' A BATH - Sergeant Roseudo Santana of Bronx, N.Y., Specialist 4 Bob Cuoier of Holyoke, Mass., and Specialist 4 Steve Smith of Russel, Iowa, take time out for a bath while on recon patrol with the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry.
|A LOOK FROM ABOVE - A quick look at the area before going in and starting to work is taken by a member of the recon platoon of the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry.
|TAKE IT WITH YOU - A member of 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry's recon platoon proves "you can take it with you" and usually does when entering areas which may require several days reconnaissance.
Page 6 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS February 22, 1971
By SP5 RICH DOMBROWICKI
THE BERRY GOES GROUNDHOG!!??!! - Seems our previous remarks about the USARV golf driving range on the Long Binh Post has ruffled a few feathers at the Head Shed there. One feminine-type Captain (feminine, NOT effeminate) was heard to bellow something about the Tropic Lightning News turning into an underground rag! Well, Mam, all I can say to that is that it looks like the truth hurts, huh? By the way, the driving range has proven to be such a great morale booster that the powers-that-be are now making it into a permanent facility complete with cemented tees instead of the previous make-shift ones. Yes, Mam, it sure is a hardship tour all right!
THE MPs SCORE AGAIN!! - Recently an element of the 1-5th Bobcats had reason to travel to Bearcat. With their tracks in line and an MP jeep to escort them down Highway 1 past Long Binh Post, the Cats set out. But somehow the next thing they knew they were reconning the 90th Replacement Battalion! "You shoulda seen the looks on the guys' faces when they saw our tracks rumbling through!" Said another Cat: "Yeah, especially a couple of our buddies who were there to DEROS...they must've thought we came to bring `em back!" So, after the impromptu tour, the MP guide gauged the wind and led the Mech off in the right direction - and with the Bobcats still at authorized strength!
REPETITIOUS EPIDERMIS - Quick! What's the most trampled area of any PX? That's right, the magazine rack. Since arriving in-country last January, we have frequented said area often enough to become familiar with many of the monthlies and. their offerings. To any discerning individual, Pent-house and Playboy, (not necessarily in that order) are probably the most popular. However, the best facet of other epidermags is to see how many times the same model will appear in each one. There is one particularly bounteous young lady who has appeared under the aliases of Joby, Astrid, Ushe, Uchi, Ursula, Mandy, Julie, Debby and Hello There! The hairdos differ, as well as the colorings, but it's the same broad.
UNDECIDED WHERE TO R&R?? - If you are undecided as to where to spend your R&R (or leave), try Hong Kong. It's fantastic. But take plenty of $$$ with you. The China Fleet Club features a wide variety of top-quality items such as jewelry, watches, suits, giftware, perfumes, camera and stereo equipment, and lots of other merchandise at rock-bottom prices. The scenery is just beautiful and the people are something else. You'll meet not only the Chinese, but also natives of Britain, Australia, India and several other countries, including the USA. The nightlife is great too, if you can afford it! You may even be able to "wine and dine" a Playboy Bunny if you think you can handle such a "chore." But don't take only my word for it, ask anybody who's been there -- its really "something else."
YOSEMITE SAM VS USARV - A couple of 1/5 Mech boonie rats recently learned the hard way that REMFS have known all along - the importance of pretending that Vietnam base camps are actually stateside forts. The duo, sporting their most obvious set of jungled fatigues and swamp-shined boots, made the costly mistake of entering USARV (Pentagon East) HQ's snack bar at lunchtime. Before they knew what happened, the mustachioed pair had their heels locked by a strac E-8 and then plunked into a nearby barber shop for defoliation purposes. After the shearing experience, the men agreed that "it's safer in the jungle!"
Page 7 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS February 22, 1971
Miss Stephanie Clark: Black Is Beautiful
INTERVIEW BY SGT RICK CONNELL
CAMP FRENZELL-JONES - Stephanie Clark is one of a number of young ladies holding the title "Miss" who visit GIs in Vietnam each year. Like those before her, she is attractive, has a winning smile and curves in all the appropriate places. However, Stephanie Clark is not just another beauty contest winner - she's Miss Black America of 1971 and proud of it.
Currently she is on a tour of American military installations in Vietnam with her court consisting of Inas Slade, Miss Black Utah, Brenda Duff, Miss Black Alabama, and Sylvia Alexis Smith, Miss Black North Carolina. Before a recent appearance at the Headquarters, CSS Battalion, Stephanie talked about being Miss Black America of 1971.
"It's been the biggest thrill of my life," she said. "For the first time I feel I'm doing something for all black people."
Stephanie was quick to point out the differences between the Miss Black America and Miss America pageants.
"The Miss America Pagent is strictly a white beauty contest while the Miss Black America Pagent is part of the black experience. Miss Black America is judged on black standards of beauty, poise and personality."
Stephanie used nightclub singers Barbara McNair and Nina Simone in an analogy to explain black standards.
"Most white men would say that Barbara McNair is more attractive than Nina Simone because Barbara has features common to white women," she said. "But a black man would choose Nina because he has a different frame of reference."
Prior to winning the Miss Black America title, Stephanie was a college student and nightclub singer and says she plans to continue her singing career.
"However, I want to continue my education too," she said. "I plan to teach black children as well as sing in the future. My plans for the moment depend upon the success of a record I cut before coming to Vietnam. It's called 'Liberate Yourself' and is a message to black women."
When asked if her new record was a call for women's liberation among black women, Stephanie said no because black women are already liberated.
She explained, "Black women in American have always been liberated because they have had to share the burdens and frustrations with their men. I think the present women's lib movement in the United States is really for white women."
She also said she felt that the role of the black woman is to walk beside the black man to help uplift their racial pride. Stephanie admitted too that as Miss Black America she is saying something to white people as well as blacks.
"I guess I'm trying to remind white people that black is beautiful, and all you really have to do to understand that is look around," she said.
It didn't take much reminding for the black and white GIs who say Stephanie Clark and her court that black is indeed beautiful.
Page 8 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS February 22, 1971
Hanger 'Banger's Hold Maintenance Stand Down
FRENZELL-JONES - Members of Delta Troop, 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry took time out recently from normal operations for a maintenance stand down. Delta Troops, the air arm of the 2nd Brigade, spent three days working on organizational and direct support Maintenance. The stand down supplements the daily and 100 hrs flying time inspections, which are normal for all aircraft.
"We usually don't have a regularly scheduled stand down like most units. In fact, this is my second tour in Vietnam and this is the first three-day stand down I've had while working with the choppers", commented CPT Lawrence R. Welch, the Cav's maintenance officer.
The stand down enables the maintenance crews to check each aircraft from nose to tail. The most sophisticated equipment as well as the smallest nut and bolt are checked to insure top combat operational capability.
The superior fire power and mobility characteristic of Delta Troop places it in great demand in support of Brigade operations. In order to maintain a high degree of combat readiness, a complete and thorough maintenance program is a must.
The "Hanger Bangers" as the mechanics are called fulfill a vital role in assisting Delta Troop to accomplish its mission. Although they seldom receive any of the praise or credit, the "Hanger Bangers" have been instrumental in the proud combat record achieved by Delta Troop. Their continued efforts insures the Brigade's ability to be "Ready to Strike Anywhere, Anytime."
|A FRIEND IN NEED - Specialist 4 Danny Alexander (right) lends fellow crew-chief, Specialist 4 John Smith (center), a hand and little else, as Specialist 4 Smith finds himself more than up to his neck in maintenance problems. Both men are members of Delta Troop, 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry.
|TOOTHACHE? - Not really. A mechanic from Delta Troop, 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry is merely checking out the armament on one of their Cobra gunships.
RFs, Bobcats Stop 2 Enemy
LONG THANH CITY - Night Ambush patrol is a tedious daily routine that is to be counted on despite weather or personal feelings.
The second platoon of Company C 1st Bn (Mech.), 5th Infantry mated up with a squad of RF (Regular Forces) troops outside Long Thanh City and the combined patrol continued out to their preplanned ambush site on January 28, 1971.
"We set up behind a local village that was a suspected VC resupply point. We hoped to catch Charlie unaware." commented 1 LT Mark Kananberg of West Bend, Wisconsin.
In the early evening darkness the men set out their claymore mines and prepared for a long night of waiting.
"About 9:30 we first heard muffled voices to our rear. At first I thought they had stumbled upon our claymores set up as rear security for the ambush; but the talk continued so we figured our position was undiscovered." said SGT Charles Felton of Pulaski. N.Y.
The men not having a clear idea how many of the enemy there were, decided to initiate the bush by blowing the rear claymores, rather than pop the bush with automatic weapons fire and give away their position.
"We blew the claymores and called in 81 illumination and waited. We didn't hear anymore noises and I began to wonder if I had been hearing things from the start," said PFC John Griffin of NYC, N.Y.
A quick recon of the immediate area revealed a still smoking cigarette. The men had not been hearing things. In fact Charlie was not done for the night. When the illumination stopped the VC opened up with all they had. Fortunately Charlie did not have an accurate fix on the combined bush's position and the firing was wide of the ambush.
"We didn't return fire immediately, we saw that their fire was wide of us and we still didn't want to give our position away. We let the VC expend his barrage, and than the M60s sprayed the area" continued Felton.
81 illumination was called in again, and a sweep of the area produced a body, later identified as a VC company commander, an AK47 and a B40 rocket grenade.
The following day, the third platoon Company C 1st Bn (Mech.), 5th Infantry while on a combined RF and US foot RIF (Reconnaissence in Force) captured a VC, while a RF company found a second body not far from the previous night's ambush site. The VC that was captured had been part of the resupply party that had been ambushed. He confirmed the 2 KIA count and also informed that 2 other VC had been wounded.
The men of second platoon, now understood. That even though support is a short time away one can't help feeling lonely out on AP (Ambush Patrol) and caution as much as discretion is sometimes the better part of valor.
|CHARLIE COMPANY - Grunts from the 1st Battalion (Mech), 5th Infantry, move out ahead of their armored personnel carriers on a sweep through an area near Long Thanh City.
Lacking A Pied Piper
By PFC JOHN BERES
LEOPARD MAIN - In three days of heavy contact recently the Regulars at the 3d Battalion, 22d Infantry's fire base here have killed a total of 33 "enemy," and destroyed an extensive tunnel complex.
Seven of the foe were killed with "special ordnance", one died from a mechanical ambush detonation, and the rest were destroyed by small arms fire. In each case the "enemy" was clad in identical grayish-brown suits and were armed with razor-sharp teeth. (???)
No, Leopard is not the object of a massive spring offensive by the VC. The men are, however, fighting for control of their base against a formidable local opponent - the rat.
The existence of a trash dump just fifty feet from the berm has provided the rodents with a place from which to easily infiltrate into the camp. Because of this, an impromptu contest has started among the US units to see which one can annihilate the most pests. It has produced significant results.
The medics destroyed a tunnel complex and killed seven of the critters with an attack of mogas. The commo boys killed one with the simple mousetrap strategy. They knocked off a bunch of others with baseball bats, shovels and anything else they could wield. Others were erased through a variety of other means.
Sergeant George Kane of Cornwall, N.Y., started the "program" by releasing statistics in a humorous vein one night at the command briefing. Since then the body count has grown daily.
At last report Echo Company led with a count of nine KIAs, followed by the medics with eight. All units involved are trying desperately to take a POW!
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 11-23-2004
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