History of the 12th Cav in Vietnam 27 Jul 1968
– 30 Nov 1971
According to the collective
remembrances of it’s surviving troopers.
CPT Errol D. Alexander, July-Oct 1968
CPT Kenneth G.
Carlson, Oct 68-Mar 69
CPT Larry R. Robinson, Mar-Sep 1969
William C. Kaufman, Sep-Nov 1969
CPT Matthias A. Spruill, Nov 69-Feb
CPT John L. B. Smith, Feb-May 1970
CPT Robert R. Richards,
CPT Woodrow W. Waldrop, Oct 70-Apr 71
CPT Edward E.
Helton, Apr-Oct 71
Go directly to the Battle of Cam Hung
Go to Captain Carlson's account of the Battle of Cam Hung
Most of the advanced party, including Swinny and Mills, were sent to the
The story I remember being told when they were transferring us was
because the 11th was getting Sheridans. We were scared to death they
were going to put us on the Sheridans when we went but it turns out all
us tankers were put on the M48A3's and the new guys coming in from the
states on the Sheridans. At least for once that was logical since some
of those guys had been trained on the Sheridans.
I think it may have had more to do with breaking up the rotation than
the Sheridan story though. Since most of us that went over would be
leaving within a couple of months of each other it also made some sense
to do that. Charlie would have loved having a shot at an almost all
From Lt. William McShane:
Jan 4 Back in from the field.
Jan 12 Been back in the field for days.
Jan 27 report that I had left the beach some time ago for LZ Nancy and
as of the 25th was at C-2. Quiet, waiting for Feb 17. The monsoon
season is ending.
I think this action
took place late '68 or early '69. The Troop was pulling a sweep into
DMZ, this is the first time we went up far north into the Z. The grunts
and we were searching bunkers. This guy was from A15 track, he throws a
frag into a bunker and goes in and drags out a wounded NVA. He had to
disarm and drag him out because he was not coming out on his own. They
medivac’d the NVA. I remember it was still early in country for us
because the B52's were still flying missions. If I am not mistaken A15
trooper received the Silver Star for this; later on he went on R&R
to Hawaii and when he returned to the Troop he was put in charge of the
Club at Nancy.
Is this the
mission we sat up a NDP and a NVA rocket team started rocketing e that we were there. The north side of our
perimeter opened fire and then the New Jersey fired 2 rounds. The
morning we started the sweep. Then the incident you mentioned
took place. We
continued the move and ended up at the Ben Hai River.
I remember firing
several main gun rounds into North Viet Nam. We
then hooked west and ended
up in a NVA base camp. SSgt. Makela found
a bunker and went in with a pistol
and brought out a very frightened
dink. We trashed the camp. Found a bunch of
documents and a small
medical bunker. I heard we were ordered out.
While all this was
going on, A Co 1/77 was in contact with another bunch of
These could have been the owners of base camp.
The guy that tossed the grenade received the Bronze Star. We were
maneuvering along the beach and somehow he saw the bunker. I think they
had a formal presentation for the award. He came back and was shaking
his head. Why for you shake your head we asked. He said he received 2
Bronze Stars and he couldn't figure out what the big deal was and why
did he received 2. I think the morning after was when we, A28, sunk into
a sand bog. It took 2 tanks to pull us out. What fun. (Coop)
I was speaking with Ken Dye tonight and he confirmed the following
information for Dec 68 or early 69.
Person who went into the bunker and pulled out the NVA was Dan Lohman
and Ken put him in for a Bronze Star w/V, I do believe this would be the
first A Trooper to receive a medal for Valor while in Nam. Dan Lohman
was part of Ken's squad A-15.
We also discussed my notes on "First Time", Ken added we were working
with the 1/11 Inf. During the incoming Ken had to go out and recover the
grunts and then pull back; all of this took place while A-16 was stuck
down in the bottom of the bomb crater.
He was also talking about A Troop's trip to Hue part of the
Troop was assigned to the 101st Airborne (up on top of a hill outside of
town). He has a lot of good information for '68-'69. He gave me the
address of Dan Lohman, I am going to see if I can get a hold of him.
Subject: Sitrep: DMZ early 69
I was reading on the troops site about the action on the DMZ (it was in
early 69, not late 68). I had been wondering all these years why the
Brass was so hot for us to get out of there. Well, I found out. This
maps says we weren't just in the DMZ, but were in North Vietnam. :D
Anyway if I remember right we were up to the Ben Hai river on the coast.
From Lt. William McShane:
Feb 5 Received two sets of long john's
from home and slept in them along with a sleeping bag last night
Feb 7 The top half of the tree arrived. Mail service could not send a
six foot long tree so they asked permission to cut it. Naturally they
took two feet off the top, and not the bottom. Arty going off big time.
Carbine rifle vibrated right off the wall.
Feb 12 Tomorrow I am going back to the DMZ for about a week and a half.
Been quiet up there.
Feb 14 Mission to A-2 cancelled. Off to Wonder Beach.
Winkle killed on an ambush. AK round hit a M 79 round as he was
loading it. This was around a cemetery. Sgt Ski was severely wounded. A
guy from Sisters (?) Oregon was slightly wounded. Jerry, the Kit Carson,
sprung the ambush early. I think Larry Stone was also on the ambush. (G.
I recovered Rip's body after my ambush busted in to get the second platoon ambush out of trouble. Rip's m-79 was hit by an AK. The round went through the loaded 79 before hitting Rip. The 79 round did not explode. The 79 was still with Rip, I believe because it was unserviceable to the NVA. Ski was originally thought to be lost also, but we found him making noises. His 16 was gone. NVA got it. That was one of the scariest nights of my life. The guys on my ambush acted with great bravery and skill, making a long night move on line and in the open to help out the guys from 2d platoon. If I recall correctly I ordered fixed bayonet assault through that graveyard. Sgt. Jerry Jackson was hit in the head by a capsule from a parachute flare round from the supporting artillery. Good thing I had our ambush wear steel pots. I heard Jerry Jackson passed after coming home. I always thought he was a wonderful guy.
Jerry Fallon Thunderchicken
Feb 23 Been back in the field. Got four vehicles stuck in a ravine for
four hours and had to "float them down a river to where the banks were
not so steep." Out on ground patrols of foothills. Freyler shot the
Feb 27 "Been in the field for several days. Haven't had a shower or bath
or river to clean in for six days so I'm gross, filthy to be exact. My
replacement is here. Use the word "short" for the first time in a
letter. Should be off the line within the next week. Don't know what
the new guy is like.
I'll never forget how bad Ken Dye felt on the night of Feb. 28th, 1969
when we were riding with Herb Parsons on track A-13, on our way to setup
a night ambush near hill 101, and we hit a land mine. I got hit in the
head and leg and was bleeding like a stuck pig. Ken, the cool calm guy
that he was, took the situation in hand and made sure I got medivaced to
Quang Tri. He would have carried me on his back if he had to. Ken and
Herb felt so bad that I hardly hurt for myself because they were so hurt
that it happened. I remember I was gone from the Troop for about 8 to 10
days and when I got back the guys was all in camp and man what a welcome
I got when I came in the A Troop area. (Jim Rinaldi)
from Bill McShane:
First let me say that I was on the patrol with
Freyler, when he got the constrictor/ python or what ever. I was given a
mission to go out west of Nancy I think, to the foothills, cordon up the
platoon and take a squad of infantry out and patrol on foot to see what
wee could find. After humping in a few steps, there were nine or so of
us and a Chu Hoi, Freyler, on point, opened up. I crawled to his
position to find him saying I got it, etc, and then see him get up and
run into the bush and grab the snake by the tail. The damn thing had
gone under him and the head came out of a hole behind him and bit him in
the foot if I remember right. Was it 17 feet long, or shot 17 times or
both. Made the Stars and Stripes. Photo of the snake
On to March. In thinking about how to write this I realized there are
one hell of a lot of words I have no idea of how to spell so allow me
the liberty. Any way, your description and the AAR you sent put some
things in perspective that I really wasn't really sure of, but I will
assume them accurate and go with what I remember after 30 years.
We, the troop were ordered into a blocking action along the
ridgeline northwest of Cam Lo. I believe the whole troop was involved
and we spread out on the ridgeline. TAC air was called in and I
remember F4's nailing a few locations. Sitting up there is was like
watching a circus, but it seemed to take forever to get the air there.
Buy the time the air arrived the little guys had an hour to run. I knew
the 1/61 was involved but didn't know the 3/5 was, really only that
other friendlies were engaged to the north and were in the AO. I was
asked/ordered/told, whatever you prefer, result is the same, to take a
bunch of infantry down into the valley to link up with their unit. I
think they were to link up. I don't know of another reason. Carlson was
the CO at the time and Hap Trainer the XO. Anyway, Platt my Platoon Sergeant, was strung out some where
and it was easier for your tank to lead so you were attached to the
column and were the lead. I only had one other tank in the platoon at
the time because 38 I think, was that the third tank #, had sunk in the
Cua Viet. Do you remember when we were ferried by the navy down toward
the Hai Vong pass and attached to the 101. Any way my third tank was
loading when the boat backed up and the TC was off the vehicle and it
slowly rolled right into the Cua Viet, a million bucks down the river.
OK. We formed a column, loaded with infantry and down we
went. Couldn't recon by fire as friendlies were in the AO, couldn't fire
mortars because of friendlies and lets face it at that time, my mortar
guys didn't have the experience the VC did. Matter of fact I don't ever
remember using that big baby the entire time I was there. Do remember
talking about using it though. Anyway you know what happened. It ended
up not being the walk into nothing that we had taken so many times
before, but a ride into an ambush. When you were hit the whole column
pulled a right flank and opened up. I had to clear the infantry out of
my track, think I had their Lt on the track, and they hit the ground
behind my vehicle. In the process my como wire became undone and I had
to go below, make contact with 6 and then gain control of things, and it
took me a bit to get the como back up and working. In the frenzy I
didn't know if it was the radio again or what, and then I found the wire
unplugged. When I popped up Freyler was firing off to the right and
Zamora on the 50 forward I told Freyler to shoot low, and he got pissed
and yelled "I got one in my sights" or words to that effect. I cased the
terrain to the rear and fired some bursts, when Freyler got hit in the
wrist and went down. The firefight continued until things died down. I
remember looking at Sgt Skinner( second tour ex 11ACR, damn good Sgt.) the TC to my right and him motioning me to move
the line forward. I nixed that and motioned so. This is when I get
fuzzy. Don't know what I did about other wounded, assumed I checked but
knew support was headed down. Had to get Freyler out. I am embarrassed
to say I don't know how bad you personally were, but knew one guy, your
TC, was lost. Think I told others to stay put until support came and
took off up the hill alone to get Freyler out. May have been in some
shit on the way out as rear of the track was riddled with bullet marks.
Got Freyler medevaced, after passing the relief on the way down. Then
returned. Always wondered how the rear of my track got shot up with
small arms fire. We were on a little knoll. Where they on both sides of
us, or did it happen on the trip out to evacuate Freyler? I'll never
The rest is just some observations after 30 or so
years. Didn't know you were hit with 2 RPG's. Assume your TC was riding
in position. Ryan on the hatch. You on the outside left. How can you say
if the RPG hit Lower all would have been okay? They must have knocked
you out and hoped to take me out because there was one of those big
pizza type claymores they had just in front of my track location. Think
I recall a chunk was blown off but lucky they didn't get to fire it or
it misfired. Wonder if Zamora got it with the 50.
been embarrassed about this whole event for years. Wish all could have
been different. Lost some sleep many times, but managed to get on with
life. Have always wanted to talk with the guy others said fought the
tank single-handedly. The word was you did a hell of a job. What about
Hagland? Any word?
They gave me a Bronze Star with V. I'm
embarrassed about that. I did what I had to do. Nothing more and I hope
nothing less. I have no idea why I consented to ferry a bunch of
infantry down into the area, hornets nest, and didn't proceed slowly,
with infantry out front as would be classic formation. We were giving
these guys a ride! Of course we did a whole lot of things
unconventionally over there.
As for you, I would be more
than willing to write and find out why you didn't receive anything. You
deserve something. Believed in what we were doing and still do.
Volunteered to go the Nam with the 4/12. Was in C Troop in Carson and
transferred to A when the word got out they were going. Much rather go
with guys I trained and trained with.
Remember Sgt. Cook.
Think I liked him. Don't remember De Somer. Sgt. Platt told me one new
Lt. that came in after me to one of the platoons shot himself in the
foot. Charlie Brown was Kirchner, first Platoon, Mad Dog, Howell, second
platoon, and Blue Max, me the third. Don't know how or why on the call
sign, think Howell uttered it and it stuck. .
From Glenn Bowers:
I was in Ft. Knox teaching tanker stuff to trainee's. The
student Bn commander was walking by checking on his troops. He saw my
patch and ask what unit I was with and I told him. He was wearing the
9th Infantry patch and said that he was with, I interrupted and told him
he was from the 3/5 Cav. I haven't a clue why I said that, but it turned
out he was. I asked him if he remembered some crazy son of a bitch that
made contact with the 27th NVA Regiment and we had to come and bail his
ass out. He told me that he knew him quite well-he was the one. I could
not believe it. His name was Lau. He has retired and was working at the
golf course on Knox This is the AAR:
The Battle of Cam Hung
At 1540 hrs on 28 Feb 3/B/3-5
Cav was engaged by an estimated NVA company at YD098630. The remainder
of B & C Troop 3-5 Cav reinforced by a platoon of M/3-3 marines moved to
reinforce the platoon. The cavalry employing air & artillery closed with
the enemy and swept the battle area finding 60 enemy KIA. At 1815 hrs
contact was broken. Results of the days action were one (1) US KIA, nine
(9) WIA and 60 NVA KIA. The enemy appeared to fresh, well trained , and
well equipped with new uniforms and weapons. An assessment was that a
forward element for a larger force(possibly a Battalion or Regiment).
Based on the above estimate A/4-12 Cav was ordered to moved to an
assembly area at YD102596 to block. The troop moved at 0010 hrs on 1 Mar
and arrived 0330 hrs and was put opcon to 3-5. At dawn A/4-12 crossed
the Cam Lo river and moved north to regain contact. Contact was regained
at 1050 hrs at YD078639. Shortly after contact B/1-61 moved from AO
Black to C2 (YD136646) to act as reserve. At 1250 hrs C/1-11 was air
assaulted in the battle area. Results of the days activities, two (2) US
KIA, twenty-five (25) WIA and 17 NVA KIA. In addition five (5) PCs and
four (4) tanks were damaged and placed out of action. Then a whole bunch
of stuff. Enemy: During the battle of Cam Hung the enemy lost 118 NVA
KIA and 13 individual and 8 crew served weapons captured. A bunch off
ammo. Friendly: Personnel loses were three (3) US KIA, thirty-five (35)
WIA. Seven (7) personnel carriers, and six (6) tanks. Documents captured
during the battle indicate that two (2) Battalions of the 27th NVA
Regiment were operating in the Cam Hung area during the battle. Well we made it. Photo and newspaper
This very cathartic for me. If you have any questions, I will answer any and all the best that I can.
I will tell you that the inside of the tank was a mess. The RPG exploded a can of Rise menthol shaving cream. It took many years before I could stand the smell. I would almost throw up.
A28 led Lt. McShane's platoon into the valley. The crew was; TC - SSG Hagland, Gnr - Sp5 Ryan, Driver - Sp4 Gossman, and Ldr - Sp4 Bowers. There were several infantry riding on the outside of the tank. As we were going down into the valley we hit a dip and one of the grunts fell off the tank. It is strange, we could hear the sounds of fighting, but we were laughing at the grunt who fell off. We stopped and he got back on.
We entered the bottom of the valley into an open area. I remember looking right and then left. I saw a black cloud out of the corner of my eye, but I don't remember hearing an explosion. The RPG hit the right side of the turret just above the infantry rail. If it would have went lower it would have hit the track blocks that hanging from the rail. I kept hitting Bill on the head yelling we had been hit, but he was probably gone. The blast wounded several of the grunts, tore up Haglands legs (heard he lost one), and hit Bill on the right side. The next RPG hit the infantry squad leader in the chest. He was riding on the right front fender, this one also wounded Gossman, the driver. The concussion or the jerking of the tank threw me off the left side. The tank continued down the valley. I did some fighting and killed one NVA (another story for another time).
When the tank returned, I climbed on and looked into the turret.
I went over to a PC, but they could not understand me.
When I returned to the tank I found Bill lying under the breech and Hagland was gone. I found out at the 2d reunion that Miike Revill had removed Hagland from the tank. I could see muzzle flashes in the brush. I saw a couple of RPGs come in and hit the ground and I think some grenades went off too.
I fought in the tank the best I could and then we moved out of the area to the top of the hill. It was the longest journey of my life. Collage of some pictures that Lt. John "Mad-Dog" Howell took on that day.
If you were on Cook's tank, you must have some insight to the fight in Cam Lo valley. I remember Cook's tank flanking me to the right, breaking through some brush. That tank was putting out some outstanding suppressive fire as it moved forward. I lost contact with it as we moved out. Glenn A28
1969-From the DMZ to Cam Hung=3 days
I am trying to see how bad my memory is and to talk about something I have kept inside me for more than 30 years. I might be getting different actions mixed up, but this is how I remember it. This might not be the place for some of this, but I have held it in long enough and I think some of you might understand.
In my mind it all started in the evening. We were one or two clicks west of Ocean View. That's what I remember the name of the base just north of C4, it had two 40mm Dusters on it. Anyway after we had set up the captian told us that there was a build up north of as that might run as high as 5,000 an that we were bait. Boy that sure made me feel good. During the night there was a lot of action around us. I remember to the south west it looked like a ambush had been popped. There were red and green tracers flying everywhere then the Dusters over at Ocean View opened up. Then, at about the same time, an artillery cluster round went off to my right. I had never seen one before. While I was looking right I saw this flash out in the gulf. A little later heard this BOOM and than the round going over head and than seen a large flash and a little later BOOM. The captain came on and said "Oh, I forgot to tell you the USS New Jersey is backing us up. He sure could have told us that a lot sooner.
At the same time the mouth of the Cua Viet got rockets. (We were in a NDP and in the middle of the night a 122mm rocket platoon(?) set up north of us. I don't think they even knew we were there. The New Jersey fired 2 rounds one was an HE and the other was a Corfram(?). It was full of little bomblets and boy did it look like the 4th of July when it went off. A28 got stuck in some kind of sink hole the next morning. We were finally drug out and everyone had a chance to laugh at us. We headed toward the DMZ from there. G. Bowers.) When the sun came up we were told to go to C4 and pick up a platoon of Marines and see if we could catch the rocket teams going north. ( For some reason I keep thinking that we ran across 4 or 5 soldiers dressed like a band of gypsies. They came out of nowhere and didn't want to be bothered. G. Bowers)
We got the Marines and started north up the beach. I can remember that we passed some members of the 1/77 on the way up there. Later we were told that they had been hit by mortars. On the way north Rat said that he saw something. We stopped and he and some of the infantry squad went into the bush and came back out with a NVA with a chest wound. ( The NVA was a Lt . and it was someone from our unit that drug him out of a bunker. I think he received a Bronze Star for this G. Bowers ). We kept moving north and heard that the Marines had caught some bad guys trying to cross the Ben Hai River . By the time we got there they had already wasted the bad guys. (This is how I know my mind doesn't remember everything right). Over the years my mind told me that I had fired some rounds into North Vietnam . After reading Glenn Bowers memories I knew that it had been him that had fired those rounds. If I remember right you fired two rounds. A HE round at a radio tower and a Beehive round. I remember the beehive round because it was the first one I had ever seen fired and had to ask Sarge Cook what it was. .( I saw 9 or 10 gooks running down the bank of the river on the North side. I called Shadow and asked him if I could engage, he told me that I could. I fired a canister round at them and only one got away. I fired 3 or 4 rounds at the tower. I ranged out to 4000m and added Kentucky windage and still missed. G. Bowers)
We moved out again and heard that a bunker complex was found. When we got there I saw a group standing over by one of the bunkers. As I watch one of the guys leaned down to look in and said that something moved. So he went in to get him. (This was SSG Dick Makela, he received the Silver Star for this G. Bowers.) When he came out he said that the guy had pulled one of his dead buddies over top of him.
Higher up had been yelling at us all morning to get out of there and than about that time they told us to blow up the bunkers and get out of there. ( About this time one of the Kit Carson scouts found a cache of medical supplies that was covered with PSP and bamboo. We destroyed it. The marines were in overall control of the AO and Gen. Davis was screaming that we had no business in there because the Paris peace talks going on. G. Bowers) Right, we backed up and I fired one HE round right though the door of one of the bunkers. Hell, you couldn't even tell I had even hit it.
We started moving back south and on the way (if my memory is right) we got word that 1/61 and the 3/5 had gotten into some shit and were going to Cam Lo. We went down to the Cua Viet and loaded up on landing craft (I think that is what they were called). We got loaded just before dark and started moving up river. W got up to where we were to unload and got moving at just about sun up. Just a click or two before we got to Cam Hung valley we ran into a mine field. A tank in front of me hit a mine and a track behind me hit one. We stopped and waited for the mine sweeps to get there and while we were waiting a M88 showed up. Instead of waiting for the mine sweep he decided to go around us. Dumb move. He was right beside our tank when he hit a mine.
Another M88 showed up about the time the sweep team did and we start moving again.
I can't remember where everyone was parked at, but A17 was parked where we could look down into the valley. I could see one of our sister units moving around over on the other side and it looked like they got hit as they moved the hell out of there and the jets came in shortly after that. I sure did like watching those jets do their job.
Shortly after that we got word that us and I think it was A15 was supposed to load up with some infantry dudes and move out with orders not to fire as there might be friendlies down there. We got loaded up and were just starting to move out when we got word that the orders had changed (This is why when I think of RPG's I think of Ryan). A28 was going down instead.
A28 came up and the infantry dudes got on they we moved back up to were we had been. I can still remember standing up out of the loaders hatch watching them move down the valley when all of a sudden all hell broke loose. I ask Cook if there was supposed to be fire and he said “no, MOVE OUT.”
We got down there and got into action and it was hot and heavy. Glenn and Bill, I can tell you that was more than just an ambush. Sarge Cook told me after that with all the bad guys we saw that you had ran right into their HQ. I don't remember how long it went on, but there were buku bad guys.
One thing I don't understand is how they could come up with a body count. Beehive and canister rounds at that range don't leave nothing to count.
We put a dead infantry guy on our back deck and went back up the hill.
This is a part I might, should leave out but it has haunted me all these years. Ryan's death really ate at me. We got up to the top of the hill again and were told to take rounds from A28 since we were running so low. As we were unloading the main gun rounds I keep seeing blood and bits and pieces of body and a slow madness started building up in me. I remember all of a sudden turning around and walking off. I heard Cook yell at me, but I kept walking until I got up to were the captain and the officers were and walk up to the captain and in a very calm voice, ok in the voice of a mad man I asked "who changed the orders", he said "it came from higher up", I said "it won't fucking happen again" turned around walked back to my tank got a can of water, washed the blood off the back deck and laid down and went to sleep.
Question is, was I crazy?
I turned 19 five days later. Hell of a birthday present wouldn't you say.
The Battle of Cam Hung from the troop commander's viewpoint
I know that I am late on crossing the LD on the Battle of Cam Hung. I apologize, but as you know, "life is what happens when you have other plans."
After I left all of you guys in Vietnam , I went on to the Officer Advanced Course and then to Princeton University for my Master's degree. Returning to West Point as a member of the faculty, I used to tell all my Cadets one of the lessons I learned most strongly, both in my short military career and in my academic studies: "Where you stand, depends on where you sit." In short, your perspective on events is profoundly affected by the location from which you view those events. This is why five witnesses to a single crime can, under oath, recall totally different sets of events that they each saw with their own eyes.
So, as to Cam Hung, my perspective is only one view of what happened. I do have a couple of advantages, however. One, I was the Troop Commander, so I had a unique sense of what was going on both above and below me. Second, in a fight with the VA and the Department of the Army over compensation, I had to do some research in the National Archives here in Washington . Thus, I have the operational records of reports on Cam Hung which many of you looked over carefully at the Reunion
So here is the story of the Battle of Cam Hung from my perspective:
First, Blue Max was absolutely right that he was missing a tank, which "sank" in the Cua Viet River a few weeks earlier. Actually, it didn't sink - the Navy screwed the pooch by not keeping the screws of the LVT turning while 38 was driving aboard. 38 simply pushed the LVT out into the river and proceeded to disappear under the water. When we finally got Navy divers down in the river to hook up a tow cable, the tank had vanished. Later, we found that the power of the Cua Viet after a monsoon had pushed the 48 tons out to sea! 38 was found about 200 yards offshore in the Gulf of Tonkin . Nonetheless, 3rd Platoon only had two tanks. That plays a major role in the Cam Hung action.
28 Feb 1969 : A Troop was back from our Cua Viet adventure (another story for another piece) and had been assigned night screen and ambush duty - sound familiar? But this time, we were set up just west of Camp Red Devil and the Quang Tri Combat Base. Getting there had cost us a track which hit a mine about 1900 hrs. enroute to dropping off an ambush patrol. We had a casualty from a mine which we estimated as 30-40 lbs. of explosive which broke track and blew off two road wheels and an idler arm assembly. (Duty Officer's Log, Item #55, 1st Bde, 28 Feb 69 )(DOL 28)
Earlier, at 1632 hrs., 3-5 Cav Squadron (just attached to 1st Bde) reported contact west of C-2. Later, at 2225 hours, reports say that both B, 3-5 Cav and Mike Co, 3/3 Marines have been in heavy contact with unknown sized enemy force at YD 098630. 1 US KIA, 7 WIA.
2300 hrs., 28 Feb: I received a call on the radio telling me to report to the Brigade TOC at Camp Red Devil ASAP. We were about 4 miles away, at least. Since it was awfully dark and we had already hit a mine in the area, I asked if the Bde could send a chopper to pick me up. No was the answer, this is to be silent and covert. No tracked vehicle - I was to come in my jeep. When someone woke up my driver, all he could say, and I echoed, was "are you shi--ing me?" I called Blue Max and told him he was in charge while I was gone, which may be forever. We drove with lights off to the Red Devil gate, where the Brigade was nice enough to have alerted the perimeter that we were coming, blackout.
COL Jim Gibson, the Brigade Commander, met me soon after I entered the TOC. Our mission, he told me, was to move A Troop north, cross country, to the vicinity of Cam Lo, where we would be attached to 3-5 Cavalry for combat operations against an unknown sized enemy force. Why had he selected us, since we were already in place for the night? His answer was, “There is no other unit in this Brigade that can do what I am asking yours to do, under these conditions."
When would he like us to do this? "Now - immediately - and under blackout conditions. Under no circumstances were we to take roads because the enemy would know we were coming."
A cross country, night road march, into known combat, blacked out, and in an area where we knew enemy mines were planted... Let me assure you that, as your commander, my a--hole slammed shut, several times. I called Blue Max on my way out the gate and told him to bring in all the ambushes - NOW - and place the Troop in march order for my return. His 3d Platoon would lead. "Oh, and by the way, I cannot tell you what we are about to do but I will be coming back in a dark jeep - so unless you want command of what was about to become a "goat rope," please tell the troops not to shoot me."
Upon my return, at 0010 hours, LT McShane had done as I ordered. We started what was likely one of the most unusual and harrowing armored movements of the entire Vietnam War. (DOL, 1 Mar 69 , Item 32) There was no time to tell everyone what was happening. Blue Max had the lead track, or perhaps the second. I know that my track, A1A, was third, in the middle of his platoon. We guided by azimuths which we shot about every 1000-2000 meters ( by getting off the ACAVs), since the road didn't go to where we were headed. It was truly cross country. Although I hoped that the troops were trying to catch some sleep, I knew that, given the circumstances, all of you must have thought that I had lost my mind. Mostly, I was sleepy, concerned and determined.
Having crossed the Cam Lo River in darkness, we arrived in our designated assembly area, Quat Xa, YD102596, at 0330 hrs. During the night, suspected enemy positions in the valley around Cam Hung were fired upon by 6 batteries of Marine artillery, two batteries of Army artillery and the battleship, USS New Jersey. Not knowing what we were about to face - or how soon - I directed all platoons to put max numbers of troopers to sleep, while LTs and I planned what would happen next. Since we had heard nothing from 3-5 Cav, to whom we were now attached and whose radio freqs we didn't have, our plans were not very detailed. I don't think anyone got much sleep since we could hear the sounds of the artillery, and especially the New Jersey , all night long.
What I did know about 3-5 Cav was that their S-3 (Operations Officer) was MAJ Nick Krawciw, a Regimental Commander at West Point, a second tour Vietnam vet (and later a 3 star general.) Oh, and the Squadron Commander was LTC Bill Anderson (later a 2 star general ), once Army Football's "Lonesome End," who in a prior Vietnam tour, had won the Medal of Honor for calling napalm in on his own position to prevent being overrun. I figured these guys knew what they were about.
Just after dawn on 1 March, A Troop left its assembly area at Quat Xa and was ordered by 3-5 Cav to head through the hills to the North, and occupy blocking positions on Hill 124, YD075623, to seal off any enemy avenue of escape to the West or South from the vicinity of Cam Hung. at 0820 hrs. one of our ACAVs hit a mine estimated to be 40lbs of explosive which blew off the right track, 2 roadwheels, the final drive and put a hole in the hull. (DOL 1 Mar, Item 39.) We had one WIA.
Okie has reported in his recollection that not only did an ACAV hit a mine, but a tank and an M-88 as well. I can find no report of the tank and the M-88, but I do recall that we held up while waiting for a mine sweep team.
When we arrived on Hill 124, we were aligned facing generally North with 1st Platoon, then under 1LT John DeSomer (Shadow) on the left, 2d Platoon under 1LT John Howell (Mad Dog) in the center, and 3rd Platoon under Blue Max on the right. 1st Platoon made a button hook around the hill to the north where we linked up with 3-5 Cav, so the whole troop was not in a straight line on the hilltops. I was located with 3rd Platoon on the right.
We sat on Hill 124 for several hours, watching as 3-5 Cav across the valley engaged targets below that we couldn't see. Then the air show began at 1517 hrs. (DOL Summary, 2 Mar, Item 8). Mad Dog's photos show what we all remember - a lot of airpower, with both "snake and nape" being dropped on positions in the valley below us. Our orders were to continue to seal the area to the West and South, thinking that the enemy would try to escape the area. 1-61 Infantry (Mech) was sent in to seal off the Eastern escape route. They brought some Marine tanks with them.
It was starting to turn dusk (early March) at 1700 hrs. when we got the call to head down into the valley, taking with us a platoon of Infantry dismounts from C Company, 1-11 Infantry. Their job was going to be to search the valley for any survivors after the air strikes and the artillery and Naval gunfire barrages of the night before. We were directed by 3-5 Cav to get down the hill quickly, before darkness set in.
The fastest way down into the valley was a trail right in front of A1A and 3rd Platoon. Even though we had seen some impressive firepower rained down on the valley, I was still uncomfortable with the mission. Because one of 3-5 Cav's troops was going down opposite us, we were precluded from "recon by fire" as we went down. I decided that we needed to lead with tanks.
I directed Blue Max to take one of the 2d Platoon tanks plus his remaining one and lead the way. PSG Platt's tank was not located anywhere near the route down the hill, so it didn't go down with the first two tanks. My track, A1A, followed about 3-4 vehicles behind Blue Max, but still inside his platoon.
The route down (below) shows that there was a steep descent, followed by a flatter area, then another rise.
Blue Max directed Tank 28, the one he had borrowed from 2d Platoon, to lead. It was closest to the trail. SSG Harold Haglund, quite new to the troop, was the TC. SP5 Bill Ryan was the gunner, SP4 Bill Gossman was the driver and SP4 Glenn Bowers was the loader.
As 28 went over the first hump going down the hill is when one of the Infantrymen got bounced off. When the tanks got to the Valley Floor, they went up a slight rise. That's where the shooting began.
I told Bill McShane at the Reunion that I did not consider this to be an ambush. Rather, we were directed to take some Infantry down the hill to do BDA, bomb damage assessment. We would remain outside the tree line and support by fire, but only if needed. We had no mission to link up with the 3-5 Cav Troop coming down the other side of the valley, but we were to be aware that there were friendlies to our front. The combat logs say that we "conducted a "mounted assault against enemy bunker complexes at YD 082627." (DOL 2 Mar Item 8) That's news to me. If I had been given the order to "conduct a mounted assault" I would have called the Squadron Commander personally and told him that I can't assault without using my unit weaponry. We would have reconned by fire. Only after the fact could it be called "a mounted assault."
Once the shooting began, my troop command net became jammed with traffic on the needs for medics. Some track commanders keyed the net, thinking they were on their own intercoms. I could see what had happened ahead of A1A, but I couldn't talk to Blue Max or anyone else. I dismounted and ran forward to the slight rise where 28 had been hit. Tracks were shooting in all directions, and we had not yet concentrated our fire on the enemy bunker emplacement.
My platoon leaders and I had agreed as part of our SOP that I would load all tracer rounds into my M-16. If we ever lost commo and they could see me, they were to direct their fire where my stream of tracers were flying. I fired in the direction from where the RPG's were coming and the main guns and 50's began to concentrate on the area I was designating. The whole shooting match lasted perhaps 90 seconds to 2 minutes, but by that time we had tracks from all three platoons in the fight.
Bill Ryan was killed instantly by the first RPG. SSG Haglund was hit in the leg. The second RPG wounded the driver, Bill Gossman and killed outright SSG John Gibbons, the Infantry squad leader from C 1-11 Inf who was riding on the right front fender and was hit in the chest. Only Glenn Bowers escaped, by being thrown off the tank by the explosive force. He remounted soon after to continue to try fighting the tank.
SP4 Greg Freyler, a mechanic who couldn't stay out of the action, was hit on Blue Max's track. SGT Frank Long from 1st Platoon was hit; SP4 Jesse Zamora and SP4 Vernon Adams, both of 3rd Platoon were hit. And I was hit in the right arm by an AK 47 round which had ricocheted off my M-16 and embedded in my forearm. Luckily mine was just a flesh wound.
When the shooting stopped, some of the wounded, such as Freyler, had already been taken part way up the hill where the Infantryman had been bounced off 28. Down at the site of the shooting, I directed several soldiers to police up the remaining body parts of SSG Gibbons and put them in a poncho. They either refused or ignored me. So, I started picking up parts of SSG Gibbons, an African American, and putting them in the poncho. When one of the Platoon Sergeants saw me doing this, he got the other troopers involved immediately.
I walked back up the hill to the spot where we had medevac Hueys inbound. It was the area where Freyler had been taken by Blue Max. He and his crew headed back down the hill to help with the other wounded. I stopped to help Freyler whose left arm was a mess and he was in great pain. All the medics with the morphine were down below, but Freyler pleaded with me to help him with the pain. So, I hit him as hard as I could - and I knocked him out. I also broke two knuckles in the process and discovered, after all the adrenalin rush of the firefight, that I was bleeding a lot from my right arm. The medics came and bandaged me. Almost a month later, I got a note from Freyler in the Evac Hospital in Japan . He thanked me and told me that, in addition to his arm injury (which was very serious), he also had his broken jaw wired shut...
On the evening of 1 March, we remained atop Hill 124 and sorted out ammo shortages, preparing for expected orders next day to return down into the valley. I don't recall Okie or anyone else angrily telling me that “orders had been switched wrongly.” It may have happened – I just don't remember that. Probably a good thing for Okie…In addition that evening, my Kit Carson Scout used my bullhorn to call down into the valley with instructions on how to “Chieu Hoi” to the powerful American Cavalry. Much to my surprise, we had two NVA come in the next morning, weapons slung over their backs, muzzles down.
On 2 March, as expected, we were directed to go back down the hill, this time with just our own Infantry and Scouts, to search the battle area. 1 st Bde PAO flew in with two yahoos from CBS News. They were wearing Hawaiian shirts! One had a huge Bolex camera on his shoulder. They wanted to accompany one of our dismounted patrols.
As the only Ranger-qualified trooper, I felt that I should take one of the several patrols we stood up. The newsmen came with me and about 15 others. As we followed Chicom commo wire down one streambed, my Kit Carson warned of a possible ambush as we went around a turn in the stream. I ordered a MG crew to climb the bank and set up to cover us if that should happen. The camera guy shouted, “Hey, come back down here and do that again – I didn't get that on film!” I told the reporter that the next time I heard his cameraman shout while we were trying to sneak through the jungle, that I would kill him. He hurried back to cameraman and things got real quiet.
We found lots of weapons, ammo, rice and other stuff and lots of blood trails leading out of a bunker complex we discovered. The CBS Crew was filming the reporters “closing remarks” to the story. He said that we were “deep inside the DMZ” and the men were “dirty, hungry and didn't know why they were here” When I looked around, all I saw was a bunch of happy soldiers who had been victorious and were now blowing up the enemy's fortifications and equipment. So I confronted him. I'll never forget what he told me. He said that the editorial policy of CBS had changed once Walter Cronkite came out against the war. Now, if he wanted his story to be aired, it had better not make US operations look good…
The battle calculus for Cam Hung was 118 NVA killed and 13 individual and 8 crew served weapons captured. We also captured 194 mortar rounds and eighteen 122 mm rockets. There were 3 US KIA and 35 wounded. Seven APC's and six tanks were damaged. Two battalions of the NVA 27 th Regiment were involved in the battle against 3-5 Cav, 1-61 Inf, one company of 1-11 Inf and A Troop, 4-12 Cav.
In mid-afternoon of 2 March, we were directed to leave one platoon in position on Hill 124 to work with Engineers on bunker destruction the next day. The Troop (-) was to head for C-2 where we would receive new orders. There was some concern about this move because of all the mines we had hit in recent days and around this NVA headquarters. So, again, I directed that we lead with tanks.
I rode in the second tank, with PSG Platt. The first tank missed it, but PSG Platt's tank hit a mine, later determined to be rigged from unexploded USAF ordnance. I was blown out of the loader's hatch, told later that I went about 15 feet in the air, landing on my back. Blood coming out of all orifices, I was out cold with a concussion. PSG Platt was also wounded.
When I woke up, I was in Bravo Med, 3 rd Marine Division in Dong Ha. I was on an x ray table. The doctor said something to me, but I could hear nothing in my left ear and only loud ringing in my right. He wrote a note: “Your back is not broken, but you'll pay for this in future years.”
The Marines transported me back to LZ Nancy, where I was to be on quarters for two weeks while my back muscles healed and my hearing slowly returned. However, when the Troop came back to LZ Nancy on 4 March, I went to the front gate and saluted as each vehicle rolled in.
Bill McShane departed the Troop for the 11 th Cav on 14 March, so we never got a chance to discuss together what each of us perceived of the events from 28 Feb to 2 Mar 1969 .
MAJ Nick Krawciw, the 3-5 Cav S3, had observed all that happened from his OH-6 LOH over the battlefield on 1 March. He put Blue Max in for the Bronze Star for Valor, and I was proud to write the witness statement in support.
When I left command at the beginning of April, I went to Brigade Staff as the Deputy S-1. One of my jobs was to investigate and answer Congressional correspondence for the Brigade Commander's signature. Sometime in June, we received a letter from the Congressman representing the family of SSG Gibbons of C/1-11. Why, if as the Army reported, SSG Gibbons was killed by small arms fire, was the casket sealed for his funeral? I related the story of his death as an eyewitness, not as an investigator. When COL Gibson read the proposed response for his signature, it was the only time I ever saw him cry.
By: Captain Kenneth Carlson, C.O. A Troop 4/12 Cavalry
Been north west of Dong Ha for days. Been in a firefight,
walked into an ambush and also hit mine number 3 a few days later. Lost
men that were attached to me from an Infantry unit, and Ryan from second platoon. He was in the lead tank heading the column down
into the ravine, when hit by and RPG. Photo of A36 after it was hit. On the 7th wrote that we had run
into the 27 NVA regiment. Whatever. Remember the events clearly, just
don't to need to be public here.
March 12. Write home from Bien
Hoa. Left some of the greatest guys I have ever known, and from a
situation that would affect me for the rest of my life. **
Remembered there is a photo of A 36 after it hit a mine as/or in reference to Ryan. It may be giving the wrong impression that it was the tank Ryan was on. He was not on 36 but 28, which was attached to me for just this mission. Bill
DIAMOND DUST Vol 2, No 25 March 12,1969 (Apparently a newsletter of the 5 th Inf Div in Vietnam )
Article provided by Dan “Mack” McAuliff, 3 rd Plt 68-69
4/12 Interrupts Enemy Baths
by SP4 Robert P. Smith
An enemy bath party was interrupted recently by a reconnaissance patrol from A Troop, 4 th Squadron, 12 th Cavalry south of Quang Tri.
As the 10-man 1 st Brigade, 5 th Infantry Division (Mech) patrol cautiously made its way along a streambed, SP4 Mike D. Rich, Indianapolis, the point man, came to a sudden stop and motioned for the rest of the patrol to take cover.
“We heard voices to our left; we were going to back off and come in from their blind side,” stated 1LT John DeSomer, Syracuse, Ind. “We were going to assault them because we thought we could take them by surprise but then we heard voices all around us.”
“About 25 yards in front three enemy were taking a bath in the stream. The had their weapons lying on the riverbank,” SP4 Rich commented. “One of them turned around and we were staring directly at each other and then they all started for their weapons. One burst from my M-16 and all three of them tumbled into the water.”
“Then all hell broke loose,” SGT George Padrick, Salem , Ore. , added. “We were in a pretty heavy fire fight and we had to withdraw because we were outnumbered.”
The patrol returned to the site the next day: “They must have cleared out of the area as fast as we did because they left behind weapons and other equipment,” said 1LT DeSomer.
That sounds exactly like the mission we went on my first full day with the Troop. They put me on an PC and off we went. I didn'tt pay any attention to what direction
we went in just out to these hills and dismounted all but one per vehicle and off we went up in the hills. It seemed like we went up for hours. We were told to get down
because we ran up on these guys taking baths and such and then all Hell broke lose. Point came back up the trail running full out and we started to return fire,
the trigger pin vibrated out of my M-16 (the one i was assigned that morning) and then the trigger fell out, just when i knew i was going to die we hauled ass, it didn't take us
as long to get out of those hills as it did to get up them. The track i was on hit a mine going back across the river and blew us off the back and when we hit the
ground we looked back across the river at the rest of the column and they
where screaming at us to get back across the river and we didn't argue and that
was late March/early April 69 if i can remember right.
That was a Hell of a way to start my first day with the Troop but in hindsight it was probably the best way to start one's tour.
I had a little talk with the guys in the arms room when we got back to Nancy .
Coop-- I do remember that incident somewhat. As I remember, it happened pretty much like the article says. But,I think we tried to go back in the next day from the back side,but could'nt find it. So the next day we went in the original way and hoped for the best. Hope it helped.
I remember those night ambushes we had to go on. I was on the Infantry
track; I think it was A-15 in the 1st Platoon under TC SSgt Ken Dye. Man
he taught me all I ever learned in Nam. He was one smart dude and always
had his shit together. He saved me more than once. I remember one ambush
we setup and just after it got dark we hear all these Gooks talking. All
of a sudden the Gooks start walking down the trail towards us so Ken
(aka DOC 4 EYES) signals us to get ready to nail these guys with all we
got. Well we wait a little longer for some reason and all of a sudden we
realize that this line of Gooks just doesn't end. They all had two
mortar rounds tied on their backs and they are moving ammo up north. We
never did spring the ambush and we all quit counting when the number of
Gooks got over 100. (Jim Rinaldi)
8 April through 15 April
excerpts from Ellis Ravine Operational Report – Lesson Learned for Period Ending 30 April 69.
From 8 Arpil through 15 April the brigade conducted Operation Ellis Ravine, which was a search and clear, road building operation conducted in cooperation with the 1 st and 2 nd ARVN Regts, 1 st ARVN Division. During Ellis Ravine a road was opened between LZ Sharon(YD335445) and Ca Lu (Y015455) giving the 3 rd Marine Division a route from Quang Tri to Vandergrift Combat Base that could, with a little improvement, be used as a supply route for Vandergrift Combat Base should Route 9 be closed. On 8 April the 1 st Inf Bde, 5 th Inf Div (M) begin a combined search and clear, and road building operation in the Ba Long Valley west of Quang Tri City . The operation was conducted in coordination and cooperation with the 1 st and 2 nd ARVN Regts and lasted until 15 April 1969 .
Elements of the Brigade that participated in the operation were the 1 st Bn, 11 th Inf and the 3 rd Squadron, 5 th Cav. The 1 st Bn, 11 th Inf was reinforced by the addition of one Cav Troop (A/4-12 Cav) and an engineer platoon (Reinf) from the organic Brigade Engineer Company (A/7 Engr), while the 3 rd Sqdn, 5 th Cav Consisted of A and B Troops 3-5 Cav, D/1-11 Inf and a reinforced engineer platoon from A/7 Engr.
(4) Ellis Ravine had not resulted in the destruction of any enemy forces or caches, but an alternate supply route was opened between Quang Tri Combat Base and Vandergrift Combat Base.
23 April – 15 June 1969
excerpts from Massachusetts Bay COAAR
6. TASK ORGANIZATION:
TF 1-11 Inf: 1-11 Inf (-C Co) and B/1-77 Armor
TF 1-61 Inf (M): 1-61 Inf (M) and C/1-40 Arty
TF 1-77 Armor: 1-77 Armor (- B Co), A/4-12 Cav and C/1-11 Inf
11. EXCEUTION (Significant Events):
28 April – 3 May 69 : At o430 hours on 28 April 69 , A/4-12 Cav and C/1-61 Inf (M) of TF 1-77 Armor conducted a cordon of the Bo Brang, Le Xuyen, and An Trach areas until 0800 hours 3 May 69 .
13 May 69: A/4-12 Cav, on a mission of searching southwest along the Quang Tri – Thua Thien border, found three bunkers at YD419361.
14 May 69: At YD420322 a patrol from A/4-12 Cav found a fresh trail, an NVA pistol belt, miscellaneous gear and tracks of 10-20 individuals. At 1337 hours contact was made with an unknown size enemy element which resulted in two VC killed by small arms fire and the capture of one K-44 rifle. B/1-61 Inf (M) was moved from Wunder Beach , placed OPCON to TF 1-77 and committed to assist A/4-12 Cav in developing the situation.
16 May 69: (a)1/A/1-11 Inf, while on ambush, had one of their booby traps detonated at 0530 hours. A search of the area revealed a bag of rice, pair of pants, and a blood trail.
(b) B/1-61 Inf (M) while continuing to search along the Quang Tri – Thua Thien border, killed an NVA who was carrying an 81mm mortar base plate. In order to conduct a thorough search of the area, C/1-11 Inf was committed to support A/4-12 Cav and B/1-61 Inf (M).
Specialist Sam P. frags the orderly
room. Two sergeants who just walk in were caught in the blast. Sgt
Jackson was killed and Sgt. Michaelson wounded. 1SG Short wounded bad,
the Duck (nickname) wounded, and Sam P. suffered light wounds and a
broken leg. Lt. Trainer, the XO, later reads article of murder charges
to Sam P. The outcome is unknown.
I remember the dude that fragged the Orderly Room, His name was
Phronerbarger and he came to A Troop on the same day in Dec 1969 as Paul
Schiano and I did. He didn't like being out in the bush so he kept
trying to get hurt. Finally one day he jumps off a tank and breaks his
ankle. They send him to the rear to heal up. We are out on a mission and
when we come back into LZ Nancy the 1st Sgt sees Phronerbarger out at
the gook hootches in front of the main gate to Base camp. Top tells
Phronerbarger that the party is over for him and we were going to pull
out the next morning on another mission and Top tells Phronerbarger that
he WILL be going back out with us. Well the dude didn't like Top's idea
and the next morning he goes down with a loaded M16 and a grenade with
the pin pulled and decides to convince Top that he wasn't going back
out. Top tells him what he didn't want to hear and Phronerbarger sets
the grenade on Top's desk and jumps out the front door. We all heard the
explosion and figured we were getting rocketed as we often did, that's
another story, so we all jumped in the bunkers next to the hootches.
After a little while we found out what happened and the last I saw of
that dude they were locking him in one of those big reefers we had
behind the Mess tent until the MP's could come to get him. Paul Schiano
became the Company clerk that day because he knew how to type. Funny
thing about that is that when I got back to the states I was sent to Ft.
Benning and the clerk at the reception station was he clerk for A Troop
before the guys that got killed. He knew most of the A Troop guys so he
got me a nice instructor's job for my last 5 months in the Army.
There are at least two other brothers that died in Vietnam, Lenny Coles
from outside Rochester, NY, and John Jackson from Kansas. Lenny was a
friend of mine from Commo school. He was infused into A trp as a tank
driver and we needed a radio mechanic/operator. He transferred to commo
and then became a clerk in the orderly room. Both men were murdered by
a weasel named Phronenbarger (not sure how that is spelled) when he went
into the orderly room and dropped a hand grenade. I had just walked out
of the orderly room and passed him on the way up the hill to the commo
hooch. I never did find out what happened to him.
A couple of
years ago, I finally found Lenny's family in NY State. I went up there
for a wonderful memorial service for him. His family really did not
know what had happened.
I would love to know if anyone knows what
happened to the slimeball that murdered the two men and injured several
others, including the 1st Sgt.
But in reference to Lenny and John
Jackson.: When the incident happened, Lenny was hurt pretty badly, as
were Michael Harrison, Top and a guy from Charlotte that ran to the
Orderly Room from across the street at the barber shop. Jackson did not
seem to be hurt as badly, so I guess that he lived longer.
I was on a few patrols with this clown and I am the proud recipient of
one of his finer days. I was wounded in the crotch from on of his
grenade exploits. Then he fragged the orderly-room. I was in the motor
pool working on the tank with Garry Norberg. Gary left for a while and I
decided to look for him. I was headed up to the company area when I
heard an explosion. I thought we were getting hit. When I got to the
orderly room their were bodies everywhere. The Duck, nickname, was
laying out side the door, Jackson and Michaelson were laying on the
right side of the orderly room. Then the 1SG came crawling out, yelling
kill the f-----r. A chopper flew into the compound and we loaded
everyone up. The MP's showed up in a jeep and threw P. into it and drove
away. I know P. ended up with some wounds and a broken right (?) leg. I
saw him a one of the field hospitals. There is a lot more to tell, but I
will save that for the reunion. Glenn Bowers
I was in the 11th ACR when the orderly room incident happened but heard
about it when I called Sgt Platt from down south. After returning I was
stationed at Ft. Meade. Harrison showed up and I got him a job as
company clerk with the troop I was then with. Harrison was the company
clerk that was in the fragging in Nam and apparently was the clerk who
jumped on the guy with the grenade and the M-16 he was about to shoot.
Harrison was pretty messed up in the legs for a while but I am happy to
report that he probably has done alright given the circumstances. Are
you sure the name Michaelson isn't really Harrison?
From: Michael Harrison Sent: 9/7/2005 9:27:09 AM
It has been brought to my attention there are individuals that want to know what actually happened the morning of May 16,1969-I have written a short version:
The morning of May 16, 1969 I was in the First Sergeant Robert Short's office. I observed Samuel Phroneberger walking towards the office and that his M-16 rifle was loaded which was unauthorized while in base camp. The 1st Sergeant told me to go tell Phroneberger to clear his weapon. I went outside and informed him to clear his weapon. Phroneberger stated that it was his goddamn weapon and if he wanted it loaded he could. With the rifle pointed at my head I followed him back into the office where Phroneberger fired a round which almost hit me in my foot. Phroneberger then raised his rifle at the 1st Sergeant at which time I grabbed the weapon from him and hit him in the stomach with the butt of the weapon. I then dropped the weapon and grabbed him; Phroneberger struggling pulled a grenade out from under his shirt, pulled the pin and dropped it between my legs.
When the grenade exploded I was sent thru the front wall of building landing approximately 20-30 feet away from the building. 7 individuals were hit of which 2 individuals eventually died from sustained wounds.
While being attended to I felt myself slipping away and as my eyes closed I saw white lights-sensing I was dying in my mind I said no!
The next thing I remembered after being med-evac was in an operating room and that I came to and saw one of the other individuals hurt during the incident being operated on (he eventually dies). This individual had wounds across his chest and all across his face. This individual then vomits on me and I passed out again and woke three days later.
From: Michael Harrison To: coop Sent: 9/7/2005 6:00:11 PM Subject: RE: MESSAGE BOARD
P was taken to court martial at Fort Meade in late Oct 69 and was found guilty of assault only-was given 1 yr confinement and bad conduct discharge-sentence was appealed and on weekends P was allowed weekend passes and in Nov-early Dec went awol-I was discharged end of Dec 69 and never heard whether he was caught or not.
Again Thank You and hope you are well.
5 June 1969
Photo: Resting in shade after tank A16 it
mine. It was shortly after this that I was called back to base camp
at LZ Nancy to take over as company clerk after one of our own fragged
the orderly room killing the company clerk and sending the 1SG and
others to the hospital.
10 June 1969 U.S. Army Photo Two
M-113 APC's A Troop
8 Jun 1969
Nixon announced the withdrawal of 25,000 American troops. The first step
in a plan called "Vietnamization," the aim of which was to turn the war
over to the South Vietnamese.
"When I arrived in Country I went directly to LZ Nancy in June of 1969.
The Ammo dump did go up in either Sept or Oct 1969. We then moved into
the 3rd Marine Shore Party area in Quang Tri in Late 1969. I remember
clearly since I couldn't believe any one would fill up that many sand
bags in a life time." (Keith Eaton)
John E Macklin (SP4) and myself escorted one Sam Phronerbarger down to
Long Binh Jail for confinement. He is the one who threw a frag into the
orderly room. (The names and dates come from a copy of travel
Authorization. (I hope I have the names in the correct order) [Charles
"Was reading some old letters that a friend of mine sent me from Nam. He
was my loader. His name was Garry Norberg from Gillette Wyoming. The
letter is dated 5 Aug and he mentions 3rd platoon getting hit, the 30
track. There were four people wounded. A guy named Casha was really hit
bad. Do you remember any of this?" (Glenn Bowers)
1st Platoon is ambushed a few klicks away from the site of the 3rd
platoon ambush, no injuries, 1 NVA KIA, numerous blood trails.
1st Platoon spends 2 weeks guarding engineers in the Bi Long Valley,
re-cutting a crude road to Khe Sanh with Rome Plows.
Lt. Shadow, 1st platoon, leaves.
Lt. Styles arrives in first
platoon, reassigned to 2nd platoon on the 25th.
From Coop's war dairy 1st platoon, and 2nd Platoon's Bob Taylor's letters home:
02 July 69
Hi Lang Reinforce
fire support base
04 July 69
Hi Lang Troy G. 26
today should leave country by 14th
assigned to 4/12 Cav (Taylor)
My flag is out with the Cav pennant flying proudly below it. Can you remember where you were 35 years ago. I think do. It wasn't bad.....just awesome. I was on ambush in the scrub west of Quang Tri. We were hunkered down along a supposed 'rice trail'. The bush was not very thick and low enough that if you stood up the taller guys could almost see over it. Like with most all ambushes nothing was going on. Then, with no warning, to our north about a few clicks a duster opened up with tracers and air bursts. Suddenly, a couple of clicks east of them, pop ups of all kinds lit the sky. Buy now we were wondering what the fuck was going on and, I might add, getting a bit nervous. Behind us, to the south and south west, red tracers and pop ups split the darkness.....what, we're surrounded!!!???? It was all still going; duster, pop ups, and tracers, only a few moments had passed, when from the east....Quang Tri lit up too. That's about when one of the guys said, "it's the fourth of July!". The show went on for what seemed to be several minutes, and in the total black that was the Viet Nam bush, it was spectacular!!!! Bob [Rebbec]
Way to go Bob, I remember it also as Sgt "D" knocked his finger out of it's socket and told me to go out and setup as he would be our later but didn't make it back out. It was my first ambush and boy was I praying.. I do remember blowing the hell out of a pagoda. Joe [Byrne]
06 July 69
LZ Nancy 2nd and 3rd Platoon back in - 1st Platoon
due back the 7th
07 July 69
LZ Nancy Went to LZ Sharon to turn in old Tank
08 July 69
LZ Sharon Back to LZ Nancy with new Tank
09 July 69
LZ Nancy Doc took sitches out a grunt from 1/61 C
Company; he had been wounded by sharpnel from a RPG at Khan Shun
assigned to track 29(Taylor)
10 July 69
LZ Nancy Took new Tankers out to familiarize and
test firing of weapons 17:30 return to LZ just in time to receive orders
to move out in 25 minutes for a screening mission. It was 21:00 before
moved out and we could not see a damn thing, tracks were getting wire in
their tracks and tangled up with anything hanging over the side of the
track. 24:30 made it to our location just in time for it to start
11 July 69
Troy and W.P. left for the world.
company went out on ambushes from LZ Nancy, assigned to 23 M60
12 July 69
Still on screening mission, went out to pick up some
grunts and A13 threw a track. We stayed behind to help; rest moved on.
About twenty minutes later they received a change of mission and return
to LZ Nancy before moving on to Publeo, leaving my track and A13 behind.
About 12:00 hrs made it back to LZ Nancy hooked up A12, A15, A31 and A39
and took off to catch up rest of Troop. It started raining again and the
hills were beginning to get slippery. A13 threw another track A12 and
my track stay with him; had to call A18 to help tow A 13 up the hill so
other tracks go around us. It was dark by the time we had A13 running;
we had to locate our platoon during this process we manage to slide down
and turn sideways on the way to the bottom of this very steep hill ( the
brakes would not slow us down enough Jordan tried his best to kept it
straight) after the rest of the tracks regroup at the bottom of the hill
we continue on our way. As if sliding sideways in the dark to the bottom
of a hill wasn't enough, a little later we slide off the side of a hill
and threw a track. Brown came over and it took about an hour to throw
the track back on, otherwise we would have had to sit there all night.
WILLIAM'S GLADE 12 July – 26 July 1969
Excerpts from COAAR
( C ) TASK ORGANIZATION:
Task Force 1-61: 1-61 Inf (M) (-1 Co), A/4-12 Cav, A/1-11 Inf, 2 teams P/75 th Inf, and 1 team 407 th RRD
10. ( C ) CONCEPT OF OPERATION: From 12 July to 24 July 1969 elements of the 1 st Brigade, 5 th Infantry Division (M) with 1 st Battalion, 4 th Marine Regiment, 3 rd Marine Division under its OPCON conducted a joint operation in the area east of Highway 558 and west of QTCB. From 24 July to 26 July elements of the 1 st Brigade in coordination with 3 rd Marine Division and ARVN forces conducted a search and clear operation and established a cordon to provide security for the departure ceremony of the 9 th Marine Regimental Landing Team, 3 rd Marine Division on 25 July 1969 .
13 July 69
Another exciting day of hurry and wait; we are to sit
here the next couple of days. Tanks went to knockdown the undergrowth
around our location; during this we drove off into a ravine and A16
burned out a final drive. About 21:30 I was over at A15 when one of the
trip flares went off; talk about hauling ass back to your track. No
action, it may have been the wind or an animal.
15 July 69
Joint sweep with Marnies (grunts), one of them had a
sun stroke. We went out to get him but a stream was blocking our way; a
chopter came to pick him up. An M88 was on its way out, to work on A16,
and its brakes went out as it was going down a hill. Took three tanks to
pull it back up the hill. Barham came back from a 3 day R&R; he brought
a little something back with him he did not want.
IROQUOIS GROVE Combat Operations After Action Report 15 June – 25 September 1969
Task Organization to COAAR, Brigade control:
HHC, 1 st Inf Bde, 5 th Inf Div (M)
P/75 th Ranger
A/7 th Engr
75 th Supt Bn
298 th Signal Co
86 th Chem Det
43d Inf Plat (Scout Dog)
48 th PI Det
11. (C) EXECUTION:
The following is a chronological list of significant events which occurred during operation Iroquis Grove:
(2) 16 June 1969 3/A/4-12 Cav, while providing security for the Cua Viet Naval Base, sighted five frogmen emerging from the water at YD358658. The enemy were engaged with negative results. A naval mine sweeper later located and destroyed two mines in the mouth of the Cua Viet River .
(10) 30 June 1969 A tank from A/4-12 Cav detonated a mine at YD432398 while moving into an ambush location. There were no casualties.
(29) 3 August 1969 A/4-12 Cav made contact with an estimated ten NVA. One APC was hit by an RPG and was subsequently declared a combat loss. Five US were WIA (E) and three NVA were KIA.
(31) 11 August 1969 In two contacts by A/4-12 Cav at YD351418 two NVA were killed and one RPG with two rounds was captured.
(37) 24 August 1969 In the vicinity of YD066683, A/4-12 Cav found 15 NVA bodies approximately three days old.
(40) 30 August 1969 A/4-12 Cav received two 60mm mortar rounds. An aerial observer came on station and guided the ground elements to a point from which the area of operations had observed fire. Results of the contact were two NVA KIA, two PWs, five AK$&s and a 60mm mortar baseplate captured
SPECIAL EQUIPMENT AND TECHNIQUES:
a. Radar (PPS-5 and PPS25), night vision devices (XM-43), aquabuoy devices and sensors were used in defensive roles throughout the brigade AO. These devices have been proven of great value in giving early warning of enemy movement and have been instrumental in inflicting casualties on the enemy by artillery fire.
15 July 69
been out for 4 days as a blocking force whole troop, north of Nancy. (Taylor)
16 July 69
LZ Angel Shadow comes up to tank and wants one man
for AP; I went because 2 of my crew are on R& R and the third is new.
This will be my first AP, out of eight men seven were first timers on
AP. I stay awake almost all night.
17 July 69
LZ Angel Came in from AP 07:00, Shadow sends me and A13 out to help a
couple of M88 ( one has a throw track and the mags are out on the other
one). A13 and I end up spending the night on a hill guarding these two
18 July 69
Track back on one M88, another M88 came out and we help
to pull the M88 into LZ Sharon. Brakes are bad on our tank, so it makes
it a little interesting going down the hills. A13 broke down in Sharon,
we return to the platoon with the night log run.
19 July 69
New Lt. arrives, we take the log run back to Sharon.
A18 took out the nightly AP and threw a track; we went out and help him
back in (back in camp 21:30).
20 July 69
Help A36 with it's housing, it was giving them trouble
last night. Took the log run and Mr. Cool located us a cooler. On the
way back it started to rain, back at camp I was informed we would lead a
mounted AP tonight. Went to the wrong location the first time; relocated
and now the brakes will not hold, had to put a roadwheel in between the
wheels to hold us in place.
been out for 9 days, LZ Angel, Cam Lo, gave rides to Marines, one of
them tripped one of our flares and started a fire. Three claymores blew,
burned our bunkers, and almost our tracks. Marines caused it I was on 23 as
a gunner and 25 as M79 man (Taylor)
21 July 69
Return to camp 06:30, talk too new Lt. (he is ROTC)
seems OK. Hung out at A15 track most of the day; shooting the breeze.
22 July 69
LZ Sharon Rained all last night, started the day off
with a sweep around Pedro and return to Sharon that afternoon (out in
the field 12 days this time). Some people in 2nd platoon started
shooting of flares and started a fire around a radar tower and if that
wasn't enough they started shooting them at 5/4 arty. one landed in a
ammo dump. Boy did we have some pissed CO's come over. Rained last
23 July 69
had a couple of Sgt. Majors come looking around this
morning. Went down to C 1/77 to eat supper, Anderson and I went over to
the 1/61 NCO Club. If J.B., Hursch, and Pete hadn't been there I don't
think we would have made it back that night. But of course we all hung
together or should I say hung on to each other.
LZ Sharon, 12th day out, shot flares at arty unit a Sharon, big
24 July 69
LZ Angel Leave Sharon at 07:00, we have another new
platoon leader today, we are to go about 4 clicks north of Angel and sit
up a mounted AP and Blair will sit up two hill tops away as a dismounted
AP. Blair had to blow his ambush (he heard movement and one of his guys
saw some movement) about 22:00. He called for reinforcements; we took
our Tank and haul ass, it was so dark that we could not see shit and
drove our Tank off into a ravine, it was one hell of a ride. Made it to
the ambush site and searched the area; did not find anything. We were
out for about an hour and half but it only seem like 15 or 20 twenty
25 July 69
around 12:00 headed into the French Fort for chow; someone had started a
grass fire and it was causing old mines to blow. A19 and A13 broke down.
House-man ask me if he was in this journal, he is since he has been my
driver for the last 13 days
26 July 69
2 tanks and a PC went a sweep down to the stream; we
sit up on the hilltop by ourselves. Moved to our night location, A16
threw a track. Jordon and Brown came back from R&R.
27 July 69
Platoon return to Sharon to top off and then moved out
to secure engineers location. Upon arrival we test fired our weapons had
a little trouble with the 73, tube fires a little to the left and the 50
was dead on target.
28 July 69
up at 06:30 went out with A18, A13,
and A11 to guard dozers. A13 broke a U joint and final drive. A18 and my
Tank hooked up to tow it back in. A18 was in front and we were in the
back (acting as the brake). Coming down a hill A18 had to stop, this was
not a problem, went A18 started again we did not-- something had to give
and it was part of the rear ramp of A13. We tore a nice big chuck of
metal out of the ramp. We made it back to Sharon without tearing
anything else up. While we were in Sharon we paid a little visit to C
1/77 and acquired a few little items (two real nice ice
chests). That night Six called Ten and told him we had to
return the ice chest or 1/77would call CID in to solve the matter.
29 July 69
went out withA18, A15, and A12 to guard dozers.
Engineers finished their job this morning we should go in tomorrow. Word
is that we should move from LZ Nancy to Quang Tri around August 15.
Around 02:45 Dave was having some kind of fit and they could not medivac
him due to the wind. A11, A12 and my Tank took off for Sharon. We made
it in about 30 minutes. Took him to 1/11, they did not have a doctor so
A11 and A12 carried him into Quang Tri. (We were at LZ Mohawk ~ Pineapple)
30 July 69
LZ Sharon Keith came out this afternoon we went to
the NCO Club.
driving 24, second platoon got a new Lt. ( Bossom?) (Taylor) **I think it was Lt. Styles, actually, because Canda came to 1st Platoon and replaced him ~Pineapple
31 July 69
LZ Sharon Pulled maintenance today, helped A18
layout new track for both sides and let me tell you that is a
ball-busting job. Went down to 75th to watch a movie, Lt. went with us.
Ran into PP and Dan at the club, PP was blown away we took him back to
Carroll Church, Top, arrives in the troop, tells Pineapple that to burn
shit properly, the shit must be stirred, and happily demonstrates that.
Pineapple demonstrates his gag reflex.
Neil Armstrong walks on the moon. 1st platoon is on dismounted patrol,
in a place that also has lots of craters.
Elements of 1/61 Mech infantry and 1/11 infantry are blasted to
smithereens by artillery hidden in the hills that form the Bi Long
Valley as they use the new road.
1st Platoon works at LZ Angel, LZ Pedro and LZ Mohawk, all in the AO
that includes Nancy and LZ Sharon
From Coop's War Diary:
01 Aug 69
Left Sharon at 11:00; we are back out in the same area
we were in a few days ago. We have a 60mm mortar that Shue had traded a
46 for and out of eight rounds only one worked. Don't know if was the
tube or the rounds.
02 Aug 69
Changed location today,
we did a few sweeps around 14:00 Ð 15:00 we ended up at the river to
wash up. Went back to night location and J.B. set out a four-claymore
03 Aug 69
we are to head back into Sharon today. About 5 minutes
from Sharon we get a call that 3rd platoon has been ambushed. We turn
around and haul ass. 2nd platoon and the old man make it to 3rd platoon
before we do, we are instructed to take up the right hand side of the
cordon, on the way A13 breaks down and we hook up and tow him into
place. 6 calls in air strike, then artillery, and then the Troop opened
up. I fired 20 main gun rounds and 700 50 cal. (the 73 jammed). To this
day, what happen next I can not explain. Out of all of this hell we were
pouring down into this area one of the TROOPERS of 3rd platoon walks out
. I do not his name and I have always wonder what happen to him. 3rd
platoon had 5 troopers medivac'd that day. Before we fired, we were told
everyone was out of the area only the enemy was down there. Spent
the night on a hill overlooking the valley; J.B. took out a AP. Link to photograph of napalm
burning after being dropped on ambush site referenced above.
I was with the 3rd Platoon that day, I was the PSG of 3rd at that time. we had one person med evac'd and one PC destroyed. We were headed back in when we got hit. The ambush was set for for 4 vehicles because 5 other vehicles come in from another direction, but all 9 come out the same way. The ambush was not long enough to get the whole platoon. The track that got hit was the platoon leader's, which we did not have a LT at that time. Don Bunch
I was out with 1st Platoon that day. We were closer than the 2nd and
took a position on some low hills overlooking the little valley where
3rd got hit. All the vehicles except the one had pulled out of the
jungle. Saw the guy come out of the jungle with uniform smoking (an
unbelievable sight), nearly got bombed by one of those Phantoms, and
later saw what was left of the hit APC melted to a puddle of aluminum.
McFadden was the LT, but as I recall he was away from the platoon
picking up new funny money for C-day. That night we (1st) stayed on the
hills. A large "manned ambush" was set out behind us composed mainly of
FNG's, really just to get them some experience being out away from the
tracks at night. In the morning it was reported to me that everybody
was asleep. You know who you are! (Not to worry, I don't. Everybody
was an FNG once, and never again!) LTF
we were just about at the gate at Sharon when 3rd platoon got hit, and got hit hard, and how to my utter dismay we had to turn around the head back to where we were just an hour ago! Worse, when we arrived we were being shot at by 3rd platoon! I'm sure it wasn't the NVA because there were red tracers flying towards us! I remember just peering over the M60 shield at all the noise and moving greenery from the fight on the other side of those green jungle walls. Haw! Haw! If you see the jungle rocking, don't come a-knocking. I didn't see that 3rd platoon guy emerge from the jungle like you did. I guess I must have been looking the other way or my memory is erased. I do remember that the log run came in with cases of ice-cold apples so me & SS had us an apple feast while Phantom jets were dropping napalm between us & 3rd platoon. That's when Groulx explained to me that the hot sucking wind was caused by the fire consuming all of the oxygen to our front in big bites. Then, I heard the funniest thing on the radio. Some sergeant who was leading a patrol in that thick jungle screamed for artillery support. When they asked for coordinates, he said, "Dammit, just fire, I'll adjust" Sure enough, it took just 2 adjustments to get the fire on target. How lucky was that? Pineapple
John, good to hear you are still around. Don't worry about things being foggy
about Vietnam. Just a little while ago the ambush of 3rd Platoon in August
of 1969 was mentioned and it's amazing what came back to me about that day.
My recollection was that we were at LZ Sharon then when 2nd Platoon received
word that 3rd Platoon had been ambushed. We rushed out of Sharon and put up a
blocking force on one side of the ambush site (though I'm sure the NVA were
long gone by then). I watched what was probably the first airstrike of my tour
in Vietnam as jets bombed the area and then gunships strafed the area. Quite a
sight for a 19 year old to see.
Afterwards the platoon went down for a recon of the site. Saw the 3rd Platoon
vehicle that had been hit. Either us or 1st Platoon booby-trapped the vehicle
and we spent the night some distance from the ambush site. Next morning the
booby-trap was still intact so obviously none of the "little people" returned.
Anybody else out there from 2nd Platoon remember that day?
04 Aug 69
A Troop credited with 3 KIA, we had three men come up to
our location to be medivac'd One had shrapnel in his foot, one had a
M-16 round stuck in his back (didn't go all the way in) and one had a
blasting cap go off in his hand (if he hadn't had a Bible in his left
pocket it could have been much worse). We towed A13 back into Sharon.
Later that night Reb and I help Mike back to his track.
05 Aug 69
LZ Sharon Still in Sharon, a couple of other units and a
ARVN unit is out sweeping the area where 3rd platoon was hit.
The Night of the Ammo Dump
6 Aug 1969
The ammo dump went up in Late August, I believe. I was CO of A/1-77 at
the time and we were in a night position several miles northwest of LZ
Nancy when it happened. Initially I thought NVA had infiltrated the camp
and we were preparing to move back towards LZ Nancy in case there was an
attack. I was told by the battalion operations officer that when the
mortar platoon was pulling charges off the rounds or was disposing of
some charges that had been pulled off that they used an improper
procedure, started a flash fire that spread to other charges and so on
until most of the dump went up.
06 Aug 69
towing A18 down to the 75th (after 5 or 6 six stops nobody seems to
know anything about it) for repairs. On the way back to LZ Nancy, A14
and A15 break down. About 24:00 a short round from4 duce mortar set off
an ammo dump. You could see flames and explosives from all over Nancy;
it also touches off riot gas. They had to medivac 5 people, 1 dead and 2
In August of 1969 the ammo
dump went up at LZ Nancy. I can remember the incident because a bunch of
CS gas went up. I had just gone to bed after a night at the club when
the thing went up. No one could find their gas masks so we had to cover
our faces with whatever we could find. Does anyone remember the
August 6, 1969
From: John Olney "Okie"
What happen to A18 was we were crossing a river that had a steep bank on it. We had a new driver and he didn't hit it fast enough and the tank stalled on the way up. We got about 4 or 5 miles and all of a sudden a big puff of white smoke and the power pack froze up. The reason I remember is I was the skinniest and had to crawl in and unhook the sprocket. I also got a little R&R out of it, because I got to stay at the 75th and help them put the new power pack in.
I sure as hell remember
that incident 'cause I thought I was going to gag and or suffocaten to
death. I was concerned especially for the guys in 2nd platoon because I
think the last time any of us thought about using a gas mask was in
basic or at Ft. Carson. Seem's like we had pulled into Nancy for
refuelling and to change out an engine pack or maybe it was only to
check the drive axles, 3rd echelon stuff, but I remember squatting down
beside the 27 track and Turtle or somebody telling me to wet a tee shirt
and breathe through that. Fortunately, the wind blew the AO clear after
what seemed like forever, but in reality was probably only 3-4 minutes.
That's the way I remember it, 'course a lot of gin has flowed over the
transom since then.
Bob Taylor same night those motormen put a short round in the ammo
dump!!!!!! Ever been pukey drunk when the tear gas was so thick you
couldn't see 10 feet? Lots of fun!)
Ya, I was at Nancy when our side put a 'short round' in the ammo dump.
THAT was totally miserable!!! Very new in country and I had just
recently been introduced to "Beauford the Skull".(You guys remember
Beauford don't you?) Crawling through CS gas, so thick you couldn't see
to get to the tracks and our gas masks, was no fun!!!! Puking all the
way. We thought we were being over run. When I found out what happened I
couldn't decide to kiss the mortar man (no VC) or shoot him.
Remember it clearly. Was in my bunk in the commo hootch and the Commo
Sgt. came in and woke us up the CS wasn't bothering us while we were in
the hootch but once we went out side it hit you like a ton of bricks. I
think I would have rather spent the time in the hootch asleep instead of
being out in that stuff.
Take care, Keith
Hey I remember that night and your right I don't think many of us in 2nd
plat had a mask, I ran outside and headed towards the guard bunker thats
the last place i remember seeing a mask, on the way i almost fell into a
smouldering shit can and even that smelled better than that dam CS.
I remember that night the ammo dump went up
especially since I was one of the few guys (and there were only a few of
us) that had a gas mask available and believe me, I used it. A lot of
guys suffered that night although for a fairly brief time.
And I remember sleeping through the night the Ammo bunker blew up at Nancy then awakening to find myself alone in the reception barracks stinging from all the CS Gas and smelling of gunpowder. I remember wondering, where is everyone at, and looking over to see the bunk next to mine with a big shrapnel hole where Mike Davis's head should have been. He had jumped in the bunker earlier in the night and they couldn't wake me, evidently I wasn't in any shape to be woken. They had concern for their own lives. I'd a done the same! That should have been the end of little 'ole' me. Ask 'ole' Mike about it I'm sure he'll get a kick when he remembers. But I guess all the planets aligned and the Moon was in Aquarius and I was spared to live another day. Their ain 't no sense to it. [Bill Dodds]
In August of 69 I was the platoon leader of the Scout Platoon 1/77 Armor. On that fateful night, we were ordered to proceed from LZ Nancy to reinforce B Company 1/77 which was in contact with an enemy force of unknown size. The mortar platoon was firing illumination rounds so we could link up with B Co. as quickly as possible. All the way out I was unsuccessfully trying to raise the B Company Commander on the radio so that we could link up and not blow each other away in the process. When we finally did link up the contact had been broken, so the Capt. called me over to his tank to find out why we had been unable to communicate. At the time we were issued radio frequency books which gave the frequencies for all the units in the Brigade. The frequencies were changed on a regular basis and when that happened, new books were issued. Well, naturallly, the books had just been changed and I had forgotten to bring the new one, still had the old one.As the Capt was chewing the last little bit of my ass that was left, we heard a tremendous explosion. We turned and saw a series of explosions in the middle of LZ Nancy. We were sure Nancy was under attack and immediately radioed back that we were prepared to come back and do whatever was needed. We were told that there was no attack, and not to return to Nancy until the next day. The explosions had successfully interrupted my ass chewing and I managed to avoid the Capt. for the rest of the night. The next day we both went our separate ways. Fast forward now to November 69. The Troop has a new CO and he wants to meet his platoon leaders. He looks at me..."Don't I know you?" You guessed it. The Troop's new CO is the former CO of B Company, 1/77,Capt. Matt Spruill. You can imagine how thrilled he was when he remembered where we had met before. Turned out to be the best CO I ever had. LT Styles
An Eye-witness account of the Ammo Dump Incident with photos!
LZ Nancy, 6 August, 1969. In reference to several mentions of the ammo dump blowing up and as I in the 4.2" mortar platoon at the time, some clarification of that night should be made available.
We were firing illumination rounds for our FO that was out on an ambush with the 1/77 Scouts and we had overheated the #1 gun so we cranked up #2 and started hauling ammo over to the Gun#2 bunker. After about 30 minutes of constant firing, that tube was GLOWING hot and a piece of the "cheese pack" charge wafted out of the tube landed just inside the bunker door. Normally, a poncho would be covering the opening but with ammo going in and out at such a pace, it was folded over the top of the bunker. Anyway, the guys setting the charges were just dropping the leftover cheese packs on the floor of the bunker and when that burning charge landed on that pile, dat's all folks. We didn't even try to stop the conflagaration...we didi maoed outta there. I headed back toward the hootches and dove into a slit trench between them and the shower (which took a 4.2 round thru one of the 55 gallon drums). Ammo was blowing up inside the #2 bunker and was sending rounds flying thru the air everywhere. One of the rounds landed on the roof of the hootch next to me it, rolled off and nailed me in the back. It must have been only a few minutes later when another round landed in the trench that we used as our main dump because when those rounds went off, the CS went off too. Lucky for me, Lt. Jesse Silva came looking for us guys that were unaccounted for and he told me to get over to the Seabee's area. What a fireworks show it was that night. I have recently found out that a couple of Seabees that had driven a water buffalo over to the #2 bunker in an effort to put out the fire were killed when the HQ42 track exploded with a full load of ammo. My platoon wasn't allowed back in the area till later the next morning, just in time for the 8"ers to open up on the other side of the ridge. The "definitive" pucker factor. Just walking around the gun pit area kicked up the dust that was soaked in CS powder.
The photos were courtesy of my Company CO, Cpt. Floyd Robertson.
Memory by: Tom Loehr
Captain Floyd Robertson's pdf file with his and other's memories of that night.
Aug 10 - 13 LZ Nancy, 4.2 inch mortars got hit, we
used our three mortars to help them. The troop's mortarmen stayed behind
at Nancy while the rest of the Cav went to C2. Second platoon got 8
kills while acting as a blocking force. Us mortarmen eventually joined
back up with the Cav.
From Coop's War Diary:
07 Aug 69
LZ Nancy The ammo dump is
still burning; 4 mortar tracks and 2 or 3 other tracks that were next to
the ammo dump are toast. Talked to TOP about getting out of the field,
should be the new training NCO next month.
08 Aug 69
LZ Nancy Mounted AP tonight, men on second guard thought
they heard something and fired a 79 round & M-16. Turned on the
searchlight didn't see anything.
09 Aug 69
LZ Nancy A11 ran out of fuel on the way back in; we
towed them in. Towed A91 into the motor pool. Went to USO show ( NO BOB
10 Aug 69
04:30 going out past Jane this morning, will sit up as blocking force
for grunts who will be sweeping the area. A13 threw a track on the way,
took a couple of hours for A13 to be back on the road. A16 throws a
track next; finally we make it to our AO. Set up, put out claymores and
wire; J.B. put out three claymore ambushes.
Aug 10 –13 LZ Nancy, 4.2 inch mortars got hit, we used our three mortars
to help them. The troop's mortarmen stayed behind at Nancy while the rest of
the Cav went to C2. Second platoon got 8 kills while acting as a blocking
force. Us mortarmen eventually joined back up with the Cav. (Taylor)
11 Aug 69
A10 and I made a log run to 6's location, on the way
back one of J.B. ambushes was set off. The rest of the platoon cut loose
into the area. Once we made it back to the platoon we turned around with
A10 & A13 and returned to the ambush location and shoot the hell out the
area before the guys dismounted to sweep the area. 1 KIA NVA and 2
RPG's. They threw the dead NVA on our Tank deck (his face was blown
away, both legs were broke and his body was like one big bowl of JELLO
the poncho he was wrapped was soaked with blood). Artillery was called
in so close that one guy on my tank was hit. I fired 10 main gun rounds
and 300 50 cal.
12 Aug 69
LZ Nancy Return to Nancy today, getting ready to head
out to C-2 around Cam Lo (a lot of mines in that area)
13 Aug 69
06:00 loading up (wire, 79 ammo, water and a few other
items) 10:00 left Nancy went to C-2 then on to A-4. The OLD MAN just
finished giving us all a pep talk: C 1/77 had 4 killed, 9 wounded and
hit 10 mines. Those kinds of pep talks I could do without. I would say
we are a couple clicks south of the DMZ; a chopper just killed 2 NVA
(been there done it brought the T-shirt took the pictures all
Aug 23 Troop at A4, I was on 25 as gunner, puff came in one night and put
on a show for us. (Taylor)
24 Aug 69
We found 15 NVA bodies in various stages of decomposition. It was very, very hot and humid that day.
Aug 29 Alpha 4, gunner on 25, hit a mine and assigned to a tank, 3 APCs
lost to mines. CO's pc hit one also a couple of days earlier (Taylor)
Aug 31 Troop at Hill 100, moved to Mother's Ridge where 25 hit the mine.
Assigned to 27, got stuck, gooks dropped 2 mortar rounds close to troop.
Troop responded and got 2 kills and 3 prisoners. Dragged raced CO's APC from C2 back to A4. Still on 27. We won (Taylor)
Hey there Fearless Leader,
Do you remember the incident when you
guys encountered gooks?, Captain Robinson kicked one of them and forced
him to surrendered, while that was going on one of them ran up to one of
the tracks, Big Daddy shot him point blank. I was not in country yet,
but no one has mentioned yet.
Wally, I'm pretty sure I remember this we were up around the Z and the
whole Troop was together " one of the few times we were all together" we
were casually going about our business when we started taking on Mortar
Rounds the second platoon. and third platoon went to the left and right
and first platoon went down in the draw where the rounds were coming
from I was on a small hill and I could see these two NVA laying in a
ditch the first platoon was getting close to them when all of a sudden
they jumped up like rabbits and one ran straight for a personnel
carrier. Whoever who was on the 60 started nailing him but he just kept
coming finally he went down and the other was KIA also the reason I
remember this so well is that some big brass wanted to come out and see
the Dead NVA so we put the two dead on my tank and brought them up the
hill to where the chopper was going to land. We put the bodies on the
ground and after the big brass left Sgt. D was the lead tank and I was
following 26 went down into a deep gully and up the other side I went
into the gully and hit a mine I was in the same tracks as 26 never
understood that. The mine really messed 28 up blew a couple sets of road
wheels off and ruptured the fuel tank on that side. we got the Tank back
to Nancy but it took a long time for repairs during the time we were
down for repairs is when the incident happened where Sgt. D drove the
burning tank out the tank he drove out was 27 not 28 he was also wounded
and sent to Japan for about 3 months in this maylay (sic) .I forget the
platoon sergeant's name that was over the 2nd platoon while Sgt D was
gone but I know we were at Cua-Viet most of the time he was there and we
had to go on a lot of ambush patrols on foot being tankers we didn't
like that too much maybe this is the incident you are talking about.
I have a notation on my short-timer's calendar that this contact
occurred on 30 August 69. We were indeed casually going about our
business, in thiscase Troop-in-line test-firing all our weapons into the
DMZ, Six Robinson commanding. Scared the heck out of an NVA squad doing
forward observing for arty across the Z. They mistakenly thought we had
detected them. What appeared at first to be mortar fire were the
explosions of a couple of command-detonated chicom mines attached to
trees, attempting to sweep the crew off some of our tanks. Don't
remember who was closest. The squad attempted to evade by going down a
valley stretching into the Z. Six decided hot pursuit was justified. 2nd
and 3rd platoons went along the sides of the valley pouring in fire, 1st
platoon was at the head of the valley, and an artillery spotter flew
overhead. The spotter could occasionally see an unknown number of NVA
moving toward safety through the trees. Since 1st plt was the only one
in position to go into the valley, I requested permission for the 1st to
pursue and pin them down. Hell, that's definitely one thing Cavalry is
FOR. Six finally said do it (although to be honest, he later said there
was a misunderstanding in all the radio cross-talk and he had not meant
to) and away we went.
We did run them down and trap them, a
couple in a patch of woods and 3 in a large shell crater adjacent to the
woods. Turns out there were only 5 total, 2 killed, 3 captured including
the squad leader, who Intelligence later said had a bachelor's degree in
electrical engineering. The guy was no dummy, he did not panic, he
waited until the right time to calmly surrender. But one of his guys
started a rush across the crater toward the 10 track at the edge with a
chicom grenade in hand. Big Daddy Trimble on his 60 nailed him,
depressing the barrel so far down that he chipped the corner of the APC
deck. At the same time I hit him with a .45, he was really close. Pretty
fatal without that extra lead. How the other NVA got killed is a story
which I suspect I remember differently from other Troopers' versions.
The wounded guy in the woods took a bad hit through the leg from a .50
round. The other captured guy was unharmed physically, but literally
paralyzed with fear. He stood frozen against a crater wall, petrified
and unresponsive right under the front of 10 where we couldn't even see
him until we came around the crater from the far side. He had just seen
his buddy shot to hell in front of him, and truly believed as told that
we would skin captured NVA alive (so reported Intelligence later). I
heard he didn't come out of his trance-like state until the next day
when he suddenly started screaming like crazy.
notable aspects of the 1st's foray into the valley I'd rather hear from
somebody else so I don't sound too self-serving, and the details of the
squad leader's surrender to Six Robinson I could mention later. But that
sure was a good day for the Cav, as the forward observation team was put
out of action and whatever smoke they were bringing on the AO was at
least temporarily interrupted.
From: jerry malan
Date: Wednesday, July 16, 2003 6:45:29 AM
To: George Gersaba
Cc: Bob Barrows
Subject: Cav History Aug 30 1969
George, Have been reading the history. You are doing a great job. Thought I would give you a bit more detail on the events listed as occuring on 30 Aug 69. The troop was togeather that day with 1st platoon in the lead and Barrows tank at the head of 1st platoon.Ê We were approching a ridge line at a 90 degree angle and encountered a soft muddy area some 500 meters away from the ridge. The tank began to sink and we reversed and backed out of it before we got stuck.Ê We moved to our left aprox 500 meters where the ground was solid and turned right to head towards the ridge line again. Shortly after we had made this turn several explosions went off on the top of the ridge line at about the same area where we had encountered the mud.Ê Barky was in the area and spotted some NVA in a valley on the other side of the ridge line. The entire troop pulled up on the ridge inline and proceeded to open up on the valley. W! e emptied the turret of 90mm ammo during that time and had to move the gun tube to the rear to reload the turret ready racks from the 2 racks on either side of the driver. The 1st platton then proceeded to sweep the valley and 2nd and 3rd platoons kept their positions on the ridge line. The tanks were some 30 meters in front of the APCs during this sweep. Dodds had been assigned to our tank as noÊtankers were available as replacemnts and was loading that day. I don't think he had been with us long and am sure this was his first combat experience on an M48 tank.Ê The valley had some heavy bamboo and underbrush as it was very difficult to see anything but brush thru the tank sights. Some one was on one of the radios saying we were about right on top of them and I still couldn't see anything thru the sights on the tank. Vision or not I decided to fire the area up and cut loose with a canister round and told Dodds to reload canister while I s! prayed the area with .30 cal coax fire. I expected Dodds to say "up" when the cannon was reloaded and he was clear but didn't hear anything from him so I finally looked over and the turret was empty. I tapped Barrows on his leg and ask him where Dodds was and he said "on the back deck". I told Barrows to tell him to get back down inside which he did. A few minutes later Barrows said he wouldn't get back in the Tank. So I reloaded the 90mm and sprayed a little more coax and since I couldn't see anything I got out of the turret and grabbed an M16 and sat up on the loaders hatch. I hadn't been there very long when the NVA fellow appeared in front of us and Sgt Barrows sprayed him with the .50cal and he went down. The CO said that higher up needed prisoners and if the NVA was alive we should take him prisoner. We pulled the tank up beside this guy and could see he was hit in the leg but he also had his hands under his chest as if he migh! t have had a grenade so we decided to let him leak a little more before we called Doc up to look at him. We were about 30 meters in front of Lt Fs APC so he was to our rear and right.Ê There was a bomb crater in between his track and our tank. Sgt Barrows had his .45 pistol in a holster under his .50cal and I saw him reach for it. I didn't know what he had seen but knew the shit was close to hitting the fan if he was getting his pistol. I watched him pull the pistol and as he moved it to our rear I followed him with the muzzle of the M-16.Ê There was an NVA crawling up out of the bomb crater right in front of the Lts APC maybe 20 feet away from and the APC. The Lt was dismounted with his .45 pistol in hand. (Beginning to sound like the wild west?) In between the crater and the APC. Barrows popped the guy in the upper chest with the .45 and almost at the same instant I sprayed him with the M16.Ê He was not taken POW but the wounded one was.Ê Barrows got a wristwatch marked made in Moscow off one of the guys which I later lost. We also got a brand new AK47 which still had the factory grease on it and appeared to have never been fired. They choppered the wounded fellow out and patched him up. I understand he spilled his guts and they flew him back out the next dayÊwhen he showed our guys where they had stayed ect.Ê Word was that he told them when his unit was resupplied and one of our units set up an ambush for them and had some sucess. I felt for poor Dodds. The turret of a tank is bad enough looking out the gunners view but the poor loader has no view at all and it really wasn't fair to put him in that position without the benifet of some training. I don't recall any other NVA KIA or taken prisoner but that may have happened elsewhere where I didn't see it.
Sgt Barrows shot the NVA guy twice in the leg with the .50 cal and 6
wanted him taken as a prisoner. While waiting for the medic another NVA
came up out of a bomb crater between our tank an LT Fs' APC. Sgt B shot
him with his .45 pistol and I sprayed him with M-16 fire. I'm pretty
sure he never crested the edge of the bomb crater where the APC could
see him...ask Sgt B. Jerry
This is my memory of the incident of August 69 on the DMZ: Peter Rabbit
was TC; I can't remember now who the driver was or who was the left m60
gunner; Doc Parker was on the track with us and I was the m60 gunner on
the right. Over the radio came a message that we were heading into a
horseshoe shaped ambush-this message came from a spotter plane. While
this was going on, headquarters and 2nd platoon came up on the left
flank, while 3rd platoon came up on the right. 1st platoon went up the
middle and as we were closing in on the enemy, the barkey spotted the
nva crossing back over the dmz into north vietnam; as they were moving,
we were notified that the enemy was carrying some kind of "boxes";
therefore, 6 wanted to know what was in those boxes. As we moved on up
into a little valley we took on fire, so we proceeded to fire back. 50
cal. and 60 cal. were firing. I fired 100-200 rounds through it, then I
gave it to Doc Parker and as he was firing, I looked to my right and
there was a Sgt on a tank that was trying to fire his m50 machine gun
which would not fire but one round at the time; it seemed that his
timing was off; it appeared that he was getting exhausted from
chambering one round at the time. Being frustrated he grabbed the m79,
loaded it and it went off before he could get it completely raised; the
round went off directly in front of the tank. Peter Rabbit got word that
there was some wounded on the left and he saw nva go into a bomb crater.
As this happened, I decided to dismount, as being an infantry soldier I
felt like I could do more on the ground than where I was at. As I
dismounted, PR told me to get back on the track and I told him to Kiss
My A-- and that I was sick of this Sh--!! Doc Parker dismounted behind
the track for cover and I asked him did he want me to go with him, but
he said no; so I proceeded around the right firing my m16 over the
crater and closed in on the position and as I approached one side of the
crater, a guy from another platoon came up at the same time from another
angle. There was a young looking nva soldier holding a grenade in one
hand; as the other guy told him in vietnamese to surrender; my first
thought as he released the grenade, was is the pin released!?
Fortunately, it wasn't. As I held my weapon on him, the other guy tied
him up with his belt; there was one dead nva soldier in a hole in the
As others from the different platoons came up I
remember Capt. Robinson came up holding his 45 and he looked around at
me and said that I was in uniform; I suppose because I had my flack
jacket and helmet on. Since he knew the top brass was on the way (and I
was in uniform) he handed me his 45 and took my m16 and told me to take
in the wounded prisoner; and to shoot him if he gave me any trouble.
They loaded the prisoner on the Loach helicopter and as we were flying
tree top level I was holding the 45 upright; the pilot looked around and
told me to point it out the door! So I did. When I returned, the guy who
tied up the prisoner, was pissed with me because he kept saying that I
had stole his helicopter ride (well, he should have been in uniform!) I
returned the 45 to the captain and he gave me back my m16 and we
searched for the "boxes", but found nothing. We loaded up the dead nva,
and carried them "somewhere"; then "they" decided to bring them back; we
threw them off and some of the guys took their 4/12 cav patches and laid
them on the chests of the dead and also left the Ace of Diamond playing
card to let the enemy know we had been there. This is how I remember
Jerry I received your E about Birth Control, but, there was nothing on
it. Have you seen the way they are describing what happened the day we
captured the NVA Trooper and nailed the other two! If they did all the
shooting and capturing, I wonder how we ended up with the watch and I
got my new AK 47? Some are saying it happened in Aug before I got in
country and some say it happened later in the fall. I know I reenlisted
in October and got a 30-day reenlistment leave that I had to make up
before I left Nam!! I think that may be the time you got to go to the
rear till I got back cause when the original A17 got broken and we got
the replacement "Stoned One" (You picked the name!) It was only 12 days
before we hit the next mine as pictured in our collection of pictures. I
hit that dude in the thigh with the .50 Cal. I hope I didn't ruin his
Love Life!! Well I'm out of here, Regards to You and Debbie I'm Gone
My platoon was in the field with the rest of the troop near the DMZ. At one point 1 st platoon (my platoon) started up a scrubby brushy hillside, when we experienced two explosions. At the time we thought they were mortar rounds. We found out later they were, Chi/Com anti-personal mines.
At this point, I had been assigned to tank 1-6 I believe they were short 1 crew member.
When we heard the explosions go off very close by, we all climbed inside and buttoned up, and began advancing being guided by a F.O. flying above in a Cessna. Command had instructed 2 nd and 3 rd platoon to block and 1 st was to advance up the middle and engage the enemy. As we advanced we came to a knoll or high point and command ordered us to recon with fire. At this point I must mention that I was trained 11-B Infantry, and knew little of the operation of a tank. Jerry Malan a regular tanker on 1-6 had graduated tanker school, as well as TC. Sgt. Barrows, and had lots of experience firing etc. I asked Jerry where he wanted me, he in turn asked me if I wanted to fire and he would load, as Sgt. Barrows had an over ride to correct any wrong targeting I might have. I slid behind the breach and into the gunners seat, and began looking through the gunners sights. I could see the brush around the tank and the crater marked landscape ahead in the ! kill zone but I could not identify any enemy troops. So, I began firing H.E.-Rounds into the bomb craters in the distance, firing between 15 and 25 rounds total. At one point Jerry had to stop loading, to clear the empty casings from the turret.
Command ordered a cease fire and I believe we took time to refreshed the ready rack. Then the F.O. (code named Barkie) had just observed the enemy on the move ahead of our position, and near to the left flank of our platoon formation. Since Our tank was on the left flank
I took this time to speak with Malan and told him that, I was not comfortable with firing the 90MM and wanted to load as I felt he could probably do a better job engaging enemy targets being a tanker and all.
We switched and I helped throw out the last of the empty casings. Malan slid into the gunners seat and I loaded for him. Command ordered us to advance on the enemy, and we began creeping forward as per F.O.'s directions.
The vehicle I was in was 1-6 the left flank tank in our platoon sized online sweep formation. The PC next to us on our right was 1-1 ? not sure of number but the T.C. was Peter Rabbit, Jimmy Mann drove and I think Duffy was left gunner possibly Mike Davis Right gun.
Next P.C. over may have been LT Canda's command track.
I could hear F.O. talking us toward the bomb crater he thought the enemy had concealed it's self. We crept forward and at one point I heard F.O. shout excitedly over our CBC head sets, "Left flank tank stop, your about to run over them, Their in a bomb crater to your right front" (or words to that effect). I could hear Sgt. Barrows firing his 50-CAL and observed he seemed to be having trouble with it. At this point I decided to join him topside for 3 reasons, #1 I felt that firing the main gun was futile at this point being's as F.O. had said we were right on top of the enemy. Being an Infantryman 11-B, I was not sure of how close the 90MM could be fired, #2 From what I heard above I thought Sgt. Barrows could use some help above, as per our close range with the enemy. I felt that Malan could stay inside and fire the Co-Ax 7.62's, without my help. #3 has to do with a warning we had received several days prior to this engagement. It was reciently rummored that the NVA had ! a new weapon in their arsenal. A small shaped charge, fitted with a tiny parachute attached to its finned tail. This they would use in close combat with armor. It was to be throne from a concealed position by ground troops over the top of a US Tank or PC, where it would be effective against the thinnest armor on the vehicle. The tiny parachute would deploy and it would come down nose first upon the top of it's intended target. When the nose struck, It would detonate the shape charge that would blow a small hole through the armor and then explode inside.
I did not intend to find out how effective it would be. I left the turret after yelling to Malan that I was going Up top.
Upon emerging from the loaders hatch, I ran immediately to the bussle rack and found my personnel weapon M-16. I locked and loaded, then swung around, and walked forward on the deck of the tank, where I observed Sgt. Barrows trying to fire his 50CAL, Single shot at a time, toward target on the right front side of the tank Opposite me. I flipped the safety off my 16. Just at that moment I saw a flick/movement directly in front of the tank and closed my 16's sights on and enemy NVA obviously trying to flee the area. His AK-47 was in the present arms position in front of him and he turned to look at me. I fired at him on semi auto until the magazine was empty. To be sure, I didn't see a round hit him, however I was convinced that I had hit him, due mainly to his actions when I fired at him. He didn't return fire rather He Immediately turned back and hit the ground and began part crawling and part pulling his self out of my field of vision, under the right track and fender of! the tank. I was terrified and when I squeezed off those rounds tears came to my eyes and clouded my vision. I then leaned against the turret, reloaded and reconed the area to the left of Sgt. Barrows. There was a lot of firing that continued for several minutes before cease fire was finally called. I could hear Peter Rabbits track firing and their was much yelling back and forth between Barrows and I think LT Canda and or Duffy or PR. It wasn't at real clear to anyone where anyone else was and where the enemy was. When the firing stopped and cease fire was called I shouted that I was going to dismount and did, walking, creeping in front of the tank and coming over to the right of it. Where I observed the enemy NVA I had shot trying to hide under a small dead tree branch. I watched him for aprox 1-2 minutes then grabbed some como wire from the side of 1-6 and tied it to one of his legs. I stepped back to the rear of 1-6 and began to pull his body from under the tree branch.! When I was sure he was not booby-trapped I went over and claimed his AK-47 as a trophy of war, along with his wrist watch and his medicine kit and his note pad. I put those items in my personal container on board 1-6 except for the note pad, which I gave to command for investigation. I Believe Captain Sprull was our commander at that time. [Actually it was Captain Robinson]It was known that one of several enemy engaged that day survived. I am unsure weather the one I shot, survived or not for sure but it was my understanding and my fervent hope, that he was wrapped up and sent to K-2 for interrogation upon wince he received good treatment.
He was, shot twice in the knee, the same knee I believe.
That night I slept fitfully if at all, and the next morning ‘I believe', Captain Spruell [Captain Robinson] came over to our track and verbally commended me personally, for my duty in that skirmish.
After reading others accounts of this same incident I find that some saw it unfold differently. This is fine. I don't wish to argue with them, or to discredit them. That is for them to judge. But as for me, this is the way I remember it. I take no pleasure in believing that I shot the man I saw running in front of me.
On many other occasions I fired at the enemy who were concealed or hidden, however on this particular occasion I observed the whole thing at close range in Technicolor with Dolby stereo complete with blood and special effects.
It is entirely possible that Sargent Barrows shot him after he turned and scrambled out of my vision, indeed he went over to Sarg's side.
It's also entirely possible that fire from Peter Rabbits track felled him.
I only know the effect it had on me, believing in my heart that I had shot this man. To shoot at muzzle flashes or fire at enemy troops hundreds of yards away, or just to recon with fire is one thing, but to look into the eyes of a person your trying to kill is quite another.
It hasn't been a pleasant experience for me for I grow tired of remembering and wondering if this poor unfortunate rice farmer lived or died and weather he had loved ones who mourned his loss. I still remember to this day the look of fear on his face, as we faced off to each other, and the feelings I felt as I squeezed off those rounds from my perch on the deck of 1-6 that day. Had I spoken his language, perhaps I could have spared his life. Perhaps he was ready to surrender? I cannot say.
I'd be glad to let others claim this incident. I don't seek any glory nor do I believe killing and maiming others will yeald it.
Later I took the AK back to the troop area at LZ Sharon and turned it over to the NCO Club for safe keeping. They hung it on the wall behind the bar. The other items I took and put in my footlocker in my hooch back at, Sharon?, I believe the watch made in USSR, went to Sarg.Barrows. There was an ink pen made in Hanoi and the medical kit, that I hoped to take home to my mother who was studying medicine at Portland State, as a war souvenir. I don't know what happened to them, I believe they were stolen.
I believe this action in which I played a part, has profoundly effected the way in which I think about war.
I have been haunted by this and other such memories, since my return. I no longer think it's a good Idea to send skinny pimple faced kids over to foreign lands to kill people. Yea, I wish someone would take these thoughts from me I'd surrender them gladly. Bill Dodds.
3 Sept 1969
Ho Chi Minh, leader of the North Vietnamese, dies in Hanoi at the age of
Sept 5 Alpha 4, typhoon hit, heavy rain, wind and mud (Taylor)
Sept 6 Back at Nancy, The first and third platoon went to LZ Jayne. Finally
on 29, we got a new engine, transmission and transfer case. Pulling night
ambushes, Got a new CO. We stole the Col 's Jeep, repainted it and kept it. (Taylor)
Troop is back from A4, no one in 1st platoon was injured. 5 NVA KIA,
Dodds brought back an AK-47 (it is in the club along with a RPG from Hai
Lang) I will be taking over one of the tracks and J.B. will be taking my
place in the rear. (Coop)
Sept 14-29 broke again, We were put in for CIB's. Monsoon started, daily
rain. We had gook made jackets. “ Fighters by day, Lovers by night,
Drunkards by choice” on the back of them.
I am TC on A15 now (an old Tanker now a Grunt). We are now pulling night
mounted AP; it has been raining hard for the last four days. Dan went on
R&R yesterday. (Coop)
Troop is working along the DMZ/marketplace working from Alpha-4. As you
approach A4 from the south, the first thing you see on the first hill is
the EOD bunker. There is a huge sign telling you so.
The troop has a steak cookout at A4 way into the night. We use a piece
of anti-RPG fencing for a grill. The North Vietnamese leave us alone. My
theory is that they too were cooking steaks and in no mood to fight
We have two nights of staying at a large command bunker and witnessing
rockets bracketing the bunker in the mornings. We are very happy to be
going out to the field 1/77th troops take our place.
The next day, command bunker is rocketed at A4, supposedly killing many
1/77th troopers. (ggersaba)
Sept 27 2nd platoon sent to C2, attached to the 1/11 infantry. TC on 29,
2nd platoon received two new APCs (Taylor)
UNNAMED OPERATION 25 September – 22 October 1969
excerpts from COAAR
6. (C) TASK ORGANIZATION:
1-61 Inf (M)
1-77 Armor, A/4-12 Cav
3-5 Cav, C/2-34 Armor
10. (C) CONCEPT OF OPERATION: During the period covered by this report the brigade operational area was divided into five task force areas of operations.
c. TF 1-77 Armor operated in AO Gold. This battalion, based at LZ Nancy conducted search and clear, reconnaissance in force and rice denial operations throughout AO Gold.
11. (C) EXECUTION: list of significant events which occurred during the operation
(5) 30 Sep 1969 APC from 2/A/4-12 Cav detonated an AT mine at YD102668. Results were four US WIA (E) and moderate damage to the vehicle.
(7) 2 Oct 1969 Night defensive positions of B/1-77 Armor, A/4-12 Cav and 2&3/C/1-11 Inf were attacked by an estimated NVA company at YD72677. Results of the contact were one US KIA, 22 US WIA (E), 14 NVA KIA and one NVA PW. Nine RPG's, 11 AK47's, 60 Chicom grenades and 30 B40/B41 Rockets were captured.
(18) 18 Oct 1969 A/4-12 Cav found two NVA bodies at YD174679; two hours later the unit uncovered two more bodies at YD178682.
"I remember the night my tank caught fire during one hell of a firefight a
few klicks west of A-4. Sgt D jumped on my tank A-27 and told me we were on fire, my loader had already been hit and was laying on the turret floor, I had no turret power after being hit at least twice by an RPG, I had to traverse the
turret manually to let Sgt D in the drivers hatch so he could get us off
thaside (?) of the perimeter, I was wounded that night also."
We went out to retrieve some of the 1/77th and escort them and their
disabled tracks back to A4 I think, we were on are way back late
afternoon almost gettingdark, rained all night, some of the 1/77th guys
were playing poker in a VTR in thecenter of the perimeter, i could hear
them laughing and carrying on while I was on guard sitting in the
George, I was looking through some letters that I sent to my parents and
found two articles about Sgt D. It must have been published in the Stars
and Stripes. Article from the Stars
And Stripes describing Sgt. Di Santo's actions The fight occurred in
Oct of 69 near Mother's Ridge. The headlines on the article give allot a
credit to the 1/77 armor. Only three tracks from the second platoon were
there. 20,22 and 27. Two of our tracks were left guarding a portable
bridge on the way up there. The rest of the platoon was at C2 broke
down. Lt Bosson was the Lt and I know Larry Corso was one of the
wounded. The articles will be nice for the history. I also looked
through the letters and can come up with a chronological order of some
of the Cav's movement. I will send it later as a word doc and you can
post it as needed. I did mention something about a fire. It was started
by a marine coming into our perimeter and set off a trip flare and some
claymores. You can read it when I send the file. Bob Taylor
If you guys are talking about Oct. 2, 1969 I remember that pretty well.
I turned 21 10/02/69! We were hit at 1AM 10/02/69. Second platoon...at
least part of it... was on Mudders Ridge. A tank got stuck. There was
2nd 4/12, 1/77, and a light platoon of grunts from, I THINK, 1/11. Our
tracks (2) were left at a junction at the base of the ridge. It was a
very nasty night!!! An FNG, that had been in country a VERY short time,
lost half his face when an RPG hit the gun shield on his .50 cal.
Sergeant D got hurt pretty bad too. I don't know about the grunts or
1/77 guys, but most of the rest of our wounded was relatively minor if I
remember right. Look at the pic's I posted. The ones with captured AK's
and RPG's pilled up and a couple of guys with head bandages drinking
beer were taken 10/03/69. By the way WHO is the guy in those pic's???
(Seems he had a pregnant wife AND girl friend and couldn't go home...or
something like that. Real fun guy and yarn spinner...he gave me my first
beer served in Beaufort (our skull) shortly after I got to LZ Nancy....
same night those motormen put a short round in the ammo dump!!!!!! Ever
been pukey drunk when the tear gas was so thick you couldn't see 10
feet? Lots of fun!) I don't know for sure, but I've always had the
impression that 10/02/69 was the heaviest contact any of the elements of
the 4/12 engaged in. Not the biggest but the 'worst'. (I left for home
Aug. of '70 so I don't know about after that.) It went on until nearly
dawn with "puff" helping to keep the gooks at bay. It was so bad because
our guys were trapped on the ridge and the NVA used the bomb craters as
(hell the ridge was just a series of craters) foxholes! We were scared
shitless.... just two tracks...sitting ducks. We never got hit but we
didn't stay to watch the end of a very scary (and CLOSE) light show
either. About three or four in the morning we headed back toward Quang
Tri and ended up joining the relief element of the 1/77 that was headed
In Oct '69 I was XO and so nowhere near the action, based at C-2.
However, my understanding was that 2 tanks from the same platoon in 1/77
threw tracks in a shell crater, and at least 2 more got stuck trying to
recover them. (The platoon leader was a former LT from 4/12 who had had
2nd Plt before me - Robinson claimed he had this LT transferred out
before his troops shot him.) Inasmuch as it would not be possible to
recover the vehicles before dark, the tank company CO, approved by
Higher, made the decision to hold position overnight. 2nd Plt 4/12 was
also to stay. After dark an infantry unit was brought in to help provide
security. There was speculation at Bn HQ that the NVA did not know the
extra reinforcements were there, and so thought the position would be
relatively easy to overrun. That's how I heard it.
I didn't get hit in the track it was after we pulled back to the other
side of the ndp and got our driver (Joey) out of there, he had been on
guard when the first rpg hit us and got hurt pretty bad, I got hit after
we carried him back up into the NDP and sat him down to see how bad he
was, I lit two smokes and stuck one in his mouth then BOOM I went
flying, it looked like someone took a whole junkyard and threw it at me
at a thousand miles an hour, light shrapnel and no eardrums......You
really got me thinking about that right now more than I have in quite
awhile I'm sitting here almost shaking all over again.. If it wasn't for
Sgt D I might not be here right now, I lost all contact with Joey, my
mind is still not real clear what all went down that night...
2 October 69
Bob, do you remember Oct 2 or 3rd, 1969? The second platoon was at C2 and some of the tracks went with the 77th and got hit. Sgt D was wounded along with many others.
The next day we left C2 in a deuce and a half with 12 of us or so in the back. We were going to see Sgt D in the Quang Tri hospital. In the cab was the driver, Lt. Bosson and Capt Kaufman. As we entered the base, a marine MP stopped the truck and had Bosson get out of the cab because only 2 were allowed in the cab. We gave the marine a very hard time. After our visit, we again passed through the same sentry. The three were in the cab again. The MP jumped up on the running board and ordered someone out of the cab. Capt Kaufman forcibly opened the door knocking the marine on his ass. The MP pulled his 45, which didn't have a magazine in it, and arrested all of us. None of us in the back had proper uniforms on also. We were escorted to the marine HQ and Kaufman had to talk to the commander. I remember one of our guys had an ear cut off one of the dead NVA. He showed it to one of the spit shined marines who ran away. Kaufman came out and we were released to head back to C2. It would have made a good scene from the Dirty Dozen. Bob t
Bob I'll never FORGET Oct 2, 1969. (I turned 21 that night on Mudders Ridge and didn't even have a birthday cake) That was some night! I didn't go along on that trip to see Sgt D; I wonder how it would have gone down if Capt. Robinson had been the CO? The Marines would have found they weren't ready for the 12th Cav. Of course, you might all still be in jail. BobR
Captain Robinson leaves.
Capt Kaufman arrives as the new C.O.
EXCERPTS FROM FULTON SQUARE COAAR
22 October 1969 – 18 January 1970
1. (U) NAME AND TYPE OF OPERATION:
b. Type. Search and Clear, reconnaissance in force, rocket suppression, rice denial and security.
3. (U) LOCATION: Trieu Phong, Hai Lang, Mai Linh, Cam Lo, Huong Hoa, Gio Linh Districts, Quang Tri Province , RVN.
4. (U) COMMAND HEADQUARTERS: Headquarters, 1 st Inf Bde, 5 th Inf Div (M)
6. (C) TASK ORGANIZATION:
a. The brigade normally operated with four task forces formed by the cross attachment of infantry, mechanized infantry, tank and armored cavalry units. The composition of these task forces was varied on a mission type basis.
A/4-12 Cav operational control to 1-77 Armor
7. (C) SUPPORTING FORCES:
f. Chemical. The following activities were conducted by the Brigade Chemical section and the 86 th Chemical Detachment during Operation Fulton Square .
(2) Herbicide operations: The perimeters of FSB C2 and FSB A4 were defoliated with Agent Orange.
11. (C) EXECUTION: The following is a chronological list of significant event, which occurred during Fulton Square :
(4) 29 Oct 69 – At 1440 hours A/4-12 Cav, reacting to an intelligence report, sweep the area in the vicinity of YD144706 and located 13 recently used bunkers. The bunkers were destroyed.
(18) 25 Nov 69 – While conducting reconnaissance on the north bank of the Cua Viet river, a tank from A/4-12 Cav detonated a mine at YD330711. The tank was a combat loss and one US was wounded.
(22) 15 Dec 69 – While supporting an infantry search and clear operation by fire west of FSB C2, A/4-12 Cav received 15 rounds of 60mm and 82mm mortar fire without casualties or damage. Later, an APC was hit by an RPG round resulting in one US KIA.
(32) 13 Jan 70 – While conducting a search and clear operation in the vicinity of YD124727, two tanks from A/4-12 Cav detonated mines. There were six US WIA and the tanks received minor damage.
Oct 4 Still at C2, brought mess hall up, sleeping in large bunkers, day
Oct 12 rain, mud, limited travel (Taylor)
Oct 22 6th night out, hot, fired 40 HE mortar rounds and most of our
illumination. New Lt and platoon Sgt (Taylor)
Other events in October, 1969 (according to Pineapple)
The infamous neutral steer on the new asphalt road incident with the
Navy CB construction foreman occurs.
About the end of the month, a raging typhoon signals the beginning of
the monsoon season. 1st platoon endures the storm while out on the DMZ.
It rains every day of the monsoons until it's over.
Milard the Mallard Mills comes in from the rain tells Pineapple that
he'll stay with 1-2 only until the rain lets up. He'll leave in February 1970.
3/3 Marines began their pullout on the first.
We spent most of last month up at C2; except for about a week at the
first of the month at Fire Base Sandy. All we did was pull guard duty
and AP. After leaving Sandy we went to C2, it started to rain and we
didn't do much for about a week. After it cleared up we moved out on
sweeps and sitting up at night waiting for someone to hit us. Supposedly
we were attempting to draw attention to ourselves so we could have a
little pay back for 2nd platoon being hit hard about a week ago. About
10 men were medivac'd out of the field (2 were shipped stateside). So it
became the same routine every night: pull in, dig fox holes, RPG screen
up, 60's dismounted, claymores out and then wait. This went on for a
month; the last night was the only exception. About 22:00 2nd platoon
had movement on their side of camp (I did not write this part down but I
believe we had a mobile radar unit with us?) we lob some mortars in the
area and then called artillery in. Next we sent out Recon Patrol, there
were fifteen of us. On the way out I hump the radio we covered about 3
clicks. We were running up and down hills, getting caught in the
undergrowth, and stumbling over everything. We called in artillery again
and lob a bunch of hand grenades. During all of this I pick up a small
piece of shrapnel; I believe it came from one of our frags. Went back to
Nancy for the Medics to look at my leg, it hurt with them probing around
in my leg than when it hit me. Upon returning C2, was told to prepare
A15 for turn in. Took A15 back in to Nancy. Lost Westervelt, he was
transferred out of the Troop. We are short of men now, running with
about 4 men per track. Toni is supposed to take over the club soon. I
put in for R&R in Feb. (Hong Kong).
Nov 6 At Cua Viet, received orders for CIB. Articles about Sgt D (Taylor)
The troop goes to the Cua Viet Naval Base, but spends most of its time
across the river. Then the troop pulls perimeter security there and goes
on nightly ambush patrols along the river.
16 Nov 1969
The My Lai massacre, which occurred in 1968, is revealed. Lt. William
Calley is tried and convicted for his role in the massacre. This
atrocity further discredits the war and gives momentum to the peace
Nov 19 Cua Viet, the rest of the troop is coming up the 23rd (Taylor)
Thanksgiving is at Cua Viet: "We went into the Navy mess hall and got
our chow, I remember paper plates, rain, and not much food was left for
us. I clearly remember Big Daddy bitching and moaning about the little
bit of food that was left. About a half hour later they picked a group
of guys to go across the river, when the landing craft opened the front
door to let us out I jumped out and landed in water up to my neck. We
hiked up to a cemetery and set up an ambush site in the middle of a
bunch of graves, one was open and Big Daddy and I decided that was our
Thanksgiving 1969 photo and captions from
Around Nov 23rd:
Subject: Mine hit Nov 1969
|Gerry and Warren, Per your request I will tell you what I remember about Warren Congleton, Bob Barrows, and me (Jerry Malan) hitting a mine in late Nov 1969 north of Cua Viet Naval base in Northern I Corp. As near as I can recall it was on the 23th of Nov 1969 and 1st platoon of A Troop 4/12th Cav was deployed as a blocking force north of the Dong Ha river while 2nd and 3rd Platoons were doing perimeter security for the Navy base. We had spent the night close to a village and the next morning our tank A-17 was leading the platoon south out of our NDP. This was one of the few non free fire areas where we went and as the gunner and used to recon by fire using 40mm M-79, 90mm cannon, and 30cal coax machinegun fire I was bored and told Warren I wanted to drive that day. After a bit of protest I told him I had about 8000rds of 30 cal ammo that needed to be shot out of the coax machine gun (if you were ever a driver on a tank you would know that the coax barrel was about 10" behind your right eardrum and the noise from a 30-06cal 1919A4 machine gun going off that close to you would drive you crazy and deaf) and that if he didn't let me drive I was going to shoot all 8000rds over his head next time we were in the free fire zone. He said I could drive after that. I pulled out of the NDP in the same tracks we had come in on the night before and had gone 200-300 meters down the trail of last nights tracks when we hit a large mine. This was sandy beach area which usually did not damage an M-48 as badly as hard/rocky soil as the sand absorbed the explosion more then the other soil types. This mine likely had some extra explosive under it in the way of dud Arty shells as the blast was much worse than the typical anti tank mine I had hit before. The mine went off towards the rear of the tank and was so strong the next thing I saw out of the drivers hatch was the sand below me. The blast lifted the 52 ton ++ tank into the air so that I was looking straight down at the ground from the drivers hatch at what I would guess was about 15ft over the ground. We had about 2 tons of extra .50cal and .30cal ammo all over the running boards of the tank and in the bussel rack that was thrown into the ait as the tank went airbourne. I remember the tank hitting the ground and then something hitting me in the head and shoulder with a heavy blow and I blacked out. When I woke my Platoon Sgt and Tank Commander SSGT Barrows was shaking me and asking me if I was alright. Other than a few scratches and bangs I was fine. Warren Conglenton was riding on the loaders hatch when we hit the mine and was thrown up into the air and landed on the 90mm main gun tube. Think the landed with the gun tube between his legs. The Tank was a combat loss and it took several days to get it back to the Dong Ha River for transport across the river to the Navy base. We tried all day to get it loaded on the boats the Navy had at Cua Viet and they were too small to carry a tow vehicle (M-48 Tank) and a pusher vehicle (M-48 Tank) and our M-48 Tank. We had to wait for an LST to come form somewhere to get us back across the river. To transport the tank back to Quang Tri required a flat bed semi truck. It was monsoon season and the road from Quang Tri was washed out and we had lost control of it to the NVA. Warren and I stayed with the tank at Qua Viet for about 30 days while the Troop moved on. Warren was in some pain for sevearl weeks after we hit the mine and knowing nothing about the Navy Medical System did not know how to go to get him to sick call. Some of the Navy guys gave him some pain pills they got from sick call and after a few weeks he was better. Hope this helps...sure some of the other 1st Platoon guys remember this as well, Sending this to some other people as well...last time I want to tell this story, Jerry
01 Dec 1969
The Draft Lottery is instituted in an effort to reduce criticism of the
draft as unfair.
Jim Good arrives in country. President Nixon announces "we will have
peace in our time." For I Corps, this means that the 3rd Marines
finally go back to the world and we get to takeover their very nice
quarters at Quang Tri. No cav hands filled any of the hundreds of
sandbags. HQ moves there.
The troop returns to the DMZ from its last assignment at Cua Viet in
time to celebrate Christmas and New Years.
We have moved from LZ Nancy to Quang Tri, we have a new CO. We are
still short handed. We spent Thanksgiving at Cua Viet, out of the last
five nights we pulled 3 AP and when you're down to only fifteen men
I remember that young Lt. damned near lost his mind when 2-0 took an RPG
on the driver hatch killing his driver, Monte Stamm. That young Lt. came
on the radio freaking out and the Captain had to calm him down, 2-0 kept
yelling," 6,6,6,6, I have one KIA, two WIA, I have one KIA..." Does
anyone remember his name? I think Lt. Perrino came in after that.
We went to Hill 162 NW of C-2 to hit suspected enemy mortar positions.
4/12 Cav, 1/61 Cav & grunts, 1/11 grunts, and 1/77 tanks. Our track was
on an adjoining hill. The front line tracks got hit with mortar and RPG
fire. An RPG round made a direct hit on a 2nd platoon track driver. As
I remember this, it was when one damned gook popped out of his spider
hole, fired either an RPG or mortar, and then ducked back in his hole.
We brought in half the 5th mech., blew away a few hundred yards of
hillside and quit. A bit later he'd pop out another round so we'd light
him up again - he probably went back to his living room 100 yards inside
the hill to smoke some dope while we landed another million bucks of
ammo on the entrance. He did this several times. Before the day was
over, besides all the troops we started with, we also had 2 cobras, 2
Hueys, 2 Barkeys, 1 spotter chopper and 2 jets dropping bombs on that
hole. Never knew if we got him - no body count (Robert Klinsky)
When you here of someone getting hit with a RPG how many of you think
of Monte Stamm? I know after Nam every time I heard of an RPG attack I
thought of him. I watched Black Hawk Down and that movie made my stomach
turn. Just thinking about things I thought I forgot but were just
hidden. John K. 2nd PLT 69/70 A27
This is my recollection of an operation conducted by A Troop on 15
December 1969. Request you add it to the Troop history feel free to edit
A Troop participated as part of a task force under command of 1-77
Armor. Other units in the task force were C Co/1-77 Armor, A Co/1-61
Mech Inf, and maybe another Company from 1/11 Infantry.
The mission was to search the base of the mountain area located west and
northwest of C-2. A Troop was the advance guard for the task force.
We left C-2 in the early morning and moved west along a dirt
road that ran west and northwest to the mountains. When this road
reached the mountains it made a sharp right turn and ran north along the
eastern base of the mountains. Before we reached the turn in the road
we began moving cross-country and deploying. The scouts of each platoon
were leading their tanks sections. The mortars (formed into a
provisional platoon under 19) went into a supporting firing position.
The radar tracks with an engineer mine sweeping team on board initially
stayed with the mortars. We were moving towards a small ridge (hill) to
provide a covering position so the rest of the task force could deploy
behind us and then move forward.
We approached a ridge - Hill 162 - that ran generally from southwest to northeast. The tanks
went into positions to cover the advance and the scouts of each platoon
and the troop command track moved to the top of the ridge. On reaching
the top of the ridge we were facing northwest and could see the road to
our left after it had made its northward turn along the base of the
mountains. The troop was deployed from left to right: 3d Platoon (with
their left flank next to the road) Troop Hq, 2d Platoon, and 1st
Platoon. While the tanks were moving forward to join us on the ridge we
received RPG fire into the 2d Platoon and AK fire against the 3d
Platoon. The 2d Platoon Leaders track was hit with an RPG round and the
driver, Monte Stamm, was killed. The 2d Platoon leader provided me a
back azimuth from where the RPG came from and I had the mortars fire on
the position while the artillery Forward Observer (FO) called artillery
fire down behind the NVA position in case they were reinforcing or
withdrawing. While this was going on the tanks came up to our position
and the 2d Platoon tanks fire several rounds of main gun into the NVA
C/1-77 Armor deployed to our left rear to protect
that flank while A/1-61 Mech deployed behind us, dismounted from their
tracks, and moved forward on foot. They moved around us and to the base
of the mountains were they began searching the small valleys and draws.
After firing on the NVA RPG location, the 1st Platoon
scouts were sent forward on the right to check out the area behind the
small ridge in front of us. While doing this they had 4 or 5 round of
closely spaced artillery fire land about 100 yards from them. This was
followed a few minutes later by a second volley. The FO contacted the
brigade fire coordination center that told us that no artillery was
being fired in our area. At the time I wasn't sure if they were correct
or perhaps ARVN artillery had been miss-directed. After what happened
later in the day, I came to believe that the rounds were 130mm NVA
artillery being directed by an FO along the base of the mountains to the
northwest. The explosions were smaller than a 155mm but larger than a
105mm or mortar.
While out in this area the 1st Platoon
Scouts found a cache of NVA mortar rounds. Shortly thereafter they were
pulled back to the main position.
A/1-61 Mech had moved on
foot to the base of the mountains and began searching. This search
found several caches of mortar round.
While this was going
on a helicopter came in and took out Monte Stamm. The radar tracks came
forward with the engineer mine sweep team. The engineers went to work
sweeping the road along the base of the mountains from the 3d Platoon's
left flank back to where it turned east. This required several hours
and they found and dug up several mines.
Late in the
afternoon A/1-61 Mech began withdrawing from the search area. Their
route was through the low ground directly in front of us. As they were
moving through this area they began to receive mortar fire. I happen to
be looking to the northwest and saw the dust and smoke caused by the NVA
mortars. They were about 1,000 meters from us and next to the base of
the mountains. I had the mortars begin firing on this position while
the FO began calling for artillery fire. I then contacted A Co/1-61
Mech and told them we would be firing over their heads and if any thing
came close to let us know. I remember the reply was something like "Any
thing you can do to help is appreciated." Using the 50 cal on the
command track I was able to mark the mortar location for the 3d Platoon
tanks. They fired main gun into the area of the mortars, they were
joined by several other tanks. All tanks were firing HE. Some of it
was hitting in the trees, causing air burst and some was hitting the
higher ridge behind the NVA position. Do not know if we killed them,
but they stopped firing. The troop ceased firing and the FO walked
artillery fire back and forth over the area. By then a Forward Air
Controller (Barky) was on the scene and we turned the target over to him
as he directed a flight of jets and some gun ships.
order was given by the task force commander (LTC Miller, CO of 1-77
Armor) to withdraw back to vicinity of C-2 for the night. A Troop was
designated the rear guard.
After everyone else had departed
we began to move back to C-2. The radar track and one platoon (3d I
think) moved down the road the engineers had swept to the vicinity of
where the mortars had been. The mortars had displaced farther back to
provide fire support. Once 3d Platoon established a overwatch position,
the rest of the troop pulled out, again using the road, moved passed the
3d Platoon and established a position farther back. When this was done
the 3d Platoon moved back through this position. We continued to use
this rearward movement by alternating bound until we were well away from Hill 162. We then formed march-column and moved to C-2 where we spent
I guess I remember this so well, as I made some
notes afterwards. It was a classic use of cavalry: an advance guard, a
screen for the main body to deploy behind, overwatching fire support and
a rear guard using movement by bounds to cover the main body. And the
troop performed it so well.
Through out my Army career I
have told this story many times to show some of the things you can do
with a Cavalry Troop. (Matt Spruill)
A cook released the gas pressure on a stove to close to another lit
stove - fired him up. Sent back to the world but should by OK. (R.
Question...Christmas '69 at C-2
remember what brass we all had to get spit shined to meet? My memory
tells me he was a 4 or 5 or maybe a 10-star general, commander of the
Pacific Fleet or something. His son had been shot down over N. 'Nam so
every Christmas he'd make a pilgrimage as close to the "D" as he could -
in memory. He said he'd like the privilege of shaking each of our
hands. That 5 or 10 min. w/ him boosted my morale more than anything
else that ever happened to me over there. (R. Klinsky)
Skee's talking about the head squid in the AO, Admiral John McCain, the
CINCPACFLT ~ Commander In Chief Pacific Fleet. His son John eventually
became a powerful US senator from Arizona some years after his release
from the Hanoi Hilton. ~ Pineapple
Also around Christmas, Ron Ely, the guy who played Tarzan visited C2 and shook our hands. I was impressed that he had the cojones to come up there. Also, if I'm not mistaken, Johnny Grant, the mayor of Hollywood also showed up with 2 showgirls. It was muddy as hell and my track was in the motorpool as usual for major repairs when they showed up. It wasn't easy for them to navigate through the mud stepping on the odd pieces of board to get to us, but they did, shook me and SS's hand, remarked something about me looking like Sal Mineo, then left. Of course, SS & I were very high at the time and must have looked pretty odd looking to them because they really beat feet to get away. (Pineapple) see below link to more of the story.
Christmas 1969 at C-2