The following is a little background with regards to an email that was sent out to A Troop following a phone conversation with Keith Short. Previous to this conversation, Keith Short who maintains contact with various individuals in the course of his project of documenting an historical record of the 5 th Div (Viet Nam era) based on official documents had been discussing with Tom Miller A Troop and its relationship with 1/77.

The results of this email have provided one of the more interesting and insightful Commo Net discussion in a long while. In the following pages you will find the original request for input and responses. In addition, I have added a couple of notes of interest.


6/30/2011 original email sent out


Received a request from Keith Short (he is the individual who developed the Society of 5 th Infantry archives into its present day status – also published a research manual with regards to Charlie Company of the 1 st Infantry Battalion, 11 th Infantry Regiment, 1 st Infantry Brigade, 5 th Infantry Division (Mechanized).


This request is with regards to the official status (Viet Nam Era) between A Troop and 1/77 Armor. It is been my understanding that the Troop was under the control (this may not be the proper military term) of the 1/77 Armor. I have always assumed that once the Troop was in Nam, 1/77 supplied the Troop with Officers and Medics.


I would greatly appreciate you input with regards to the status of the Troop with regards to the 1/77 Armor. In addition, what was system the to supplied the Troop with the day to day supplies, equipment, repairs to tracks that require the next level of maintenance, payroll, and day to day requirements.


Notes Of Interest

Successful military organizations are solidly founded upon the pride of their soldiers with a strong sense of belonging to their unit and enthusiastic about its being their begins the BROTHERHOOD

1968 was unquestionably the most eventful year in the history of A Troop 4th Squadron 12th Cavalry since its activation in 1962. The year started off like any other year for A Troop; rumors were heard about Vietnam deployment but first things first. The Annual General Inspection was scheduled for February; A Troop received a rating of "Excellent". A Troop was official alerted for deployment to Vietnam on 25 March 1968. With only a 12 week notice, an intensive training program was initiated. The training consisted of 8 weeks of Squadron training followed by 4 weeks of Brigade level training. Essentially, what was accomplished by A Troop was to take a 10 week Armored Cavalry Troop ATP, increase the RVN oriented areas, place considerable emphasis on live fire exercises, and complete the training in an 8 week time period. Concurrently, the A Troop tankers were firing their Annual Tank Gunnery Qualification administered by the 4th Squadron 12th Cavalry. The training and ability of A Troop proved so exceptional compared to the remainder of the 1st Brigade, that the Brigade Commander chose them as the security force for his advance party. This can only be attributed to the aggressive spirit and cooperative effort of the Troopers of A Troop 4th Squadron 12th Cavalry.

Between achieving an "Excellent" rating on their Annual General Inspection and preparing for deployment to Vietnam, A Troop took time out for Civil Disturbance Training and deployment to Washington D.C. in the time fame of March and part of April.

After intensive training on small unit tactics and combined arms coordination A Troop (1st Brigade) concentrated its personnel and loaded its vehicles on railroad cars for departure to Southeast Asia in June 1968.

The advance party of 1st Brigade 5th Infantry Division (Mechanized) included most of A Troop 4th Squadron 12th Cavalry (which consisted of 5 officers and 220 enlisted men). They departed from Peterson Field in C141 Aircraft July 1, 1968. First elements of the 1st Brigade 5th Infantry Division (Mechanized) arrived in Vietnam 2 July 1968 and proceed to FABULOUS Wunder Beach in Quang Tri Province. The balance of A Troop departed with "Task Force Diamond" (1st Brigade 5th Infantry Division (Mechanized), directly to Da Nang during 22 - 30 July, the second largest airlift in history (at that point in time).


During A Troop’s 4 weeks of Brigade level training, the Troop was selected as an aggressor force against 1/77 th Armor Bn HQ area. The task assign: was to penetrate their HQ area at night. 1 st Plt had no problem accomplishing this task. It seem that the individuals guarding the perimeter were not taking their duty very seriously, once we passed thru the perimeter it was easy to continue on to the main area and drop a few smoke canisters as a calling card.

Movement of A Troop to Vietnam

The advance party of the 1st Brigade included most of A Troop, which consisted of 5 officers and 220 enlisted men. They departed from Peterson Field in C141 Aircraft on 1 July. The balance of the Troop departed during the period of 22-30 July.

The bulk of the equipment of A Troop was shipped by rail from Fort Carson to the Military Ocean Terminal, Bay Area (MOTBA), Oakland, California, then by ship to Da Nang, Vietnam.


Equipping of A Troop, as far as the 4th Squadron, 12th Cavalry was concerned, simply involved a lateral transfer of property from the Squadron property book to A Troop, thus establishing a separate property book for them. From that point, (about 19 March 1968), until the Troop's deployment, A Troop re-equipped with the 1st Brigade. That r-equipping is covered in detail in the 5th Division Annual Historical Supplement for 1968.


I would say that A Troop had an “Attitude”, a well deserved attitude base on its previous history of being a unit solidly founded upon the pride of their Troopers with a strong sense of belonging to A Troop 4/12 Cav and enthusiastic about it being their own.






As I recall, the three types of "relationships" a smaller unit might have to a larger one were "assigned,", "attached", and "OPCON" (under operational control).

 These might not be the actual "school solution" descriptions, but the differences were:

An assigned unit was essentially a permanent part of the larger unit; that was a fairly long-term set-up.  For example, 1/77 Armor was assigned to 5th Mech Division.

An attached unit was associated with the larger unit for a moderately long time.  More importantly, the larger unit was responsible for providing the attached all the logistical, maintenance, personnel, etc. support that they would provide to one of their own assigned units.  A-4/12 was attached to 1st Brigade.

 An OPCON unit was only under the command of a larger unit for operational purposes, usually a short-term arrangement.  An OPCON unit had to get tis logistical and other support from its "parent" unit; the larger unit to which it was OPCON was not required to provide any logistical, maintenance, or other combat-service support.

 I'm pretty sure that was the set-up.  If I'm wrong, there are lots of folks out there that will set me straight.

 Dennis Perrino or some of the other XOs might be able to elaborate on the logistical- and maintenance-support aspects of this.

Bob Richards (Cpt A Troop 1970)

Bob Richards is probably correct about the relationship. While we were an organic unit assigned to the Brigfade we got our support from the Tank Battalion. As XO we attended the Battalion Staff meeting each morning. We worked throug the Battalion S4 and the BMO ( Battalion Motor Officer) for parts and second echelon maintenance. There was a separate Support Battalion( I can't remember the designation) in the Brigade that performed higher echelon maintenance.
Zero (Dennis Perrino 2 nd Plt Lt / Troop XO 70-71)

Jim Good forward the original email to Tom Miller

Tom, (Thomas Miller 1/77 Bn Commander June - December 1969)


Can you elaborate on the command and support status of A 4/12 Cav in Vietnam/


The first forwarded message is from Bob Richards, the A 4/12 Troop commander from May to October 1970, the second is a question to him from Charles Cooper, one of the more active members of the A 4/12 Cav veterans group.


Hope all is well with you.  Thank you for any input.


Jim Good (3 rd Plt 69-70)


Tom in turn forwarded it to a few of his other contacts from that era.


Jerry, Hap, Robin, (1LT Hap Trainor A Troop XO 68-69 – formally with A Co 1/77 / and CPT Robin Marriotte 1-77 Bn Maint Off during the deployment and a while after.)


Do you remember how things went with Personnel for A 4-12 Cav? Seems to me like most replacements were assigned directly to the unit, from the Bde, Replacement Platoon of 75th Support Bn., bypassing us entirely. If there were important vacancies, like Troop Commander or 1SG, then Bde came to us for a recommendation. Then, Bde issued orders transferring that person from 1 - 77 Armor to A 4 - 12 Cav. I could be wrong. However, I also remember that I investigated and then one Troop Commander. He had a severe alcohol problem.


Then, there was the incident where the Maintenance Books of all the A 4-12 Cav vehicles were transferred from the Bn Maint to A 4-12 right before an IG inspection. I was not there at the time, and don't know any more about that action. I think maybe Hap knows about that. Again, I could be wrong. Another fellow who might remember this is Robin.


Jim, I hope this is of some help. Maybe Jerry, Robin and Hap have a better memory than I have.


Best to you, my Cavalry travel companion and friend,

Tom (Thomas Miller 1/77 Bn Commander June - December 1969)




When I was XO I did a rewrite of the TO&E for the Troop. A Troop was a Separate Armored Cavalry Troop assigned to a Separate Mechanized Infantry Brigade. Basically it was designede as a standalone unit. I believe it was OPCON (Operational Control) to the 1st Tank when they deployed and that relationship remained at least through 1971 when I DEROSed.


Zero (Dennis Perrino 2 nd Plt Lt / Troop XO 70-71)


In regards to the medics. we were with the 5th Division and assigned to the Cav on a temporary basis.  All medical supplies came from 5th Div  HQ.  Also any promotions were the responsibility of HQ.   Hope this helps. 


Richard “Doc” Parker 1 st Plt 69



 You are really taxing my memory here, but thanks to a recent meeting, after 42 years, with Bill McShane a Plt. Ldr with the Cav, 68 and 69, my memory is somewhat refreshed.

1. the Cav, as deployed, was a reinforced unit attached to the 1st Bde for deployment to VN. 

2. Some time after the 1/77 moved into LZ Nancy, the Cav arrived at LZ Nancy and came under the control, "Attached to", the 1/77. I am using the word "attached here" probably very loosely in that the lines of command and support were very cloudy. See below.

3. Yes, I am very familiar with the dumping of the maintenance records on the Cav by Bn. Maintenance. About a month or two prior to the CMMI in the late winter or early spring of '69, the Cav's maintenance records were dropped on the Cav by Bn. Many of the records were incomplete or never materialized. We were offered no help of any kind by Bn to reconstruct anything, even though we asked.  I can clearly remember requesting, on multiple occasions, that we have a pre-CMMI inspection by Ordinance so we could determine what was missing,  where the deficiencies were and get Ordinances help in reconstructing everything. Ordinance was willing but I was shot down by the Bn and my CO. Needless to say, the Cav failed the CMMI. I had argued that I did not need the approval of the Bn to get Ordinance's help, but that argument only got me in hotter water than I was usually in. After the Cav failed the CMMI, the Bn stepped in to assist in the reconstruction of the missing records. It was almost as if the Cav was set up to fail so that the Bn could come in and look like the savior.

4. On the "attachment" issue, the Cav's maintenance line totally bypassed the 1/77, as we found out about the time of the CMMI. This might be one of the reasons the maintenance records were dumped by 1/77 Bn maintenance, although, personally, I think it had more to do with the up coming CMMI and the condition of the Cav's records at the time more than anything else. The Ordinance company at Red Devil was actually the next level of maintenance for the Cav after the Cav's maintenance platoon. (I forget at the present what the proper terminology for this would be- sorry.)  If you think on it, the Cav was attached at the Bde level for all purposes at the time we left Carson. Thus, Ordinance would have been the logical first level of maintenance support for the Cav. Also, when we got into country and until about  the time I joined the Cav, most of the Cav's operations were assigned out of Bde. When I went over to the Cav, it seemed that the Cav's operations were still independent of the 1/77 but somehow coordinated through the 1/77. That line was always cloudy to me, although on more than one occasion I met with the Bde S-3 regarding assignments. 

5. As for the transfer of personnel, I was the only officer and there were two senior NCO's assigned to the Cav from the 1/77 while I was there. I was with the 1/77 Armor for a year and then transferred to the Cav in December '68. Right before my DEROS, I was transferred back to the 1/77 as the Asst. S-3. I know the Troop Commanders were assigned by the Bde. When the orderly room was fragged and SMG Short was wounded, SMG Offitt was assigned to the Cav from A Co, 1/77. I had been with SGM Offitt since joining A Co, 1/77 in December '67. My Maintenance Sgt at the Cav came with me from the 1/77. In December '68, Col Pickarts had given me the choice of taking over the Bn Mortar section or being the XO of the Cav. I took the Cav and Lance Sopko took the Mortar section. I was being transferred out of A Co no matter what at that time. A Co had already lost Carl Felhauer who was sent to the 11th ACR, and Jim Davis who went to the Ordinance Company. (Jim was Ordinance who was detailed Armor for his first two years.)   Thus, if Col. Pickarts was transferring people in and out of the Cav, he must have had some "command" authority over the Cav. But this "command" was later clouded when it came time for my OER as XO of the Cav. The Bn was not in the rating change of command. It went from the CO of the Troop to Bde XO and then CO.  Figure that one out.

6. While I was with the Cav, we got most replacements, officer and enlisted, directly from Bde, 75th replacement. We got some NCO's and other enlisted from the 11th ACR.

7. finally, it always seemed to me that the Bde and/or the 1/77 Armor did not have a good idea on what to do with the Cav. Personally, I wanted to do more with the Cav, such as what the 3/5th did when it came into the AO just as I was departing, but we were not really given that latitude.

 I hope this helps.

Hap (1LT Hap Trainor A Troop XO 68-69 – formally with A Co 1/77)



Many thanks. I know your service in both the Battalion and the Cav Troop were of the highest standard. And, I know you are a loyal Veteran of both of these distinguished organizations. While I was Bn Commander, I tried to get Bde to give me the missions, take charge of the Cav, and then let me pick the unit most suited to getting the job done. That did not sell, as Bde
wanted the Cav to work directly for that HQ, but it wanted me to be responsible to see they were trained and maintained. That was hard to do when I couldn't get my hands on them to undergo training days and maintenance days while a tank co or scout platoon went on missions for them. Jim Good, are you making any sense out of all this? Obviously, it was a
confused situation.

Tom (Thomas Miller 1/77 Bn Commander June - December 1969)


I know when I was in commo I forward radios to the 77th which went on to support.
I think it was the 75th support Bn.
Joe Byrne 2 nd Plt 69-70


I finished my tour at A 75 support as a finance clerk. Everyone's finance records were kept there. As far as organization, hell if I had any info on that. 


Pineapple (George Gersaba, Jr 1 st Plt 69-70)


My two cents, for what its worth (probably only about 3/4th of a cent, given my memory nowadays)....Seems when I arrived at Quang Tri, I was assigned from Brigade to A Troop, then later, transferred from Brigade to 1/77, from which I was then assigned to CO of one of the tank it seems as if the Troop was a Brigade unit, with a quasi line relationship to 1/77 Armor?


Hank (Henry Gregor 1 st Plt Ld 69-70)

This is interesting.

So, I understand it this way:

The A/4-12 Cav was "assigned" to the 1/5 Inf Division (Mech), or Brigade as we might say (and I'm not using the term "attached" in this context since A/4-12 is organic to the 1/5 Inf Div (M)--or what was simply called, Brigade. At times A/4-12 was OPCON/attached to various units in a Task Force organization, such as what was called TF 1-11, or TF 1-61, or TF 1-77. It is more often OPCON/attached to the 1-77 Armor task force organization. And I assume this means that Bde is always responsible A/4-12's logistics, even when it's OPCON/attached to the various Task Force organizations.

Consider that in early 1969 A/4-12 Cav was passed OPCON from Bde to the 3-5 Cav that had been passed OPCON to the 1/5 Inf Div (M) from its attachment to the 101st while it was still organic to the 9th Infantry Division.

It seems logical that replacements would have come from Bde (via 75th Support). And it sounds like Bde assigned officers to A/4-12 Cav that it seemed to pick from the 1-77th Armor (and it stands to reason that an Armor officer would probably be more at home in a Cav unit than an artillery, aviation or infantry officer) and during the infusion period it was bringing officers from other Cav units.

The XO seems to say it differently ("I believe it was OPCON (Operational Control) to the 1st Tank when they deployed and that relationship remained at least through 1971 when I DEROSed," and I would disagree with this statement him since I have Bde documentation in the form of CAAR's showing that A/4-12 Cav was OPCON/attached in task force organizations of the Bde to TF 1-11, TF 1-61, Bde itself and TF 1-77 (many more times to TF 1-77 than the others). Other than when OPCON/attached in cross attachments with infantry in operations, it stands to reason that A/4-12 Cav would probably be more likely to operate in areas where Armor operated than where Infantry operated and therefore would be a better asset in a task force commanded by Armor than by Infantry or Aviation task force organizations.

It also seems logical to me that A/4-12 Medics came from Bde as well and that was what my original question was about.

And Tom pretty much nails this line of reasoning when he says, ". . . as Bde wanted the Cav to work directly for that HQ . . ."

It does sound like the 1-77th took care of the A/4-12 Cav when they were OPCON/attached to them, but Bde was always the ultimate authority over them.

Am I on the right track here ???

Is it okay to share these with Floyd Robertson (Captain in 1-77th Armor) who has been asking me about some of these things regarding the relationship of A/4-12 Cav and the 1-77th Armor?

Keith (Keith Short C 1/11)


The picture which is starting to appear is that many of the command and staff support relationships for the Cav were rather ad hoc and unclear.

Normally in that era an Armored Cav squadron worked for division, often with a troop dedicated to each maneuver brigade depending on the current mission and the division commander's intent.

Since only 1 brigade from the 5th Mech went to Vietnam, it appears that the division cobbled together a support slice of artillery, MI, DS logistics, admin, finance, medical and various other units and detachments.  I don't recall whether or not there was any organic 5th Mech aviation element. Seems that most of our aviation support was from the 101st or some other non-5th Mech unit.

In this lash-up there was probably a lot of confusion about who was supposed to be working for who, and I would imagine that as commanders changed at Bde and Bn level relationships and responsibilities shifted between various units. Some people feel driven to leave their mark on a unit when put in positions of authority and make changes whether they are required or not.

As for replacement officers and senior NCOs, 1/77 Armor was the only other armor unit in the brigade. When it came time to rotate officers into or out of the Cav, it would only make sense for most swaps to involve 1/77 Armor officers, unless an FNG officer from CONUS, or an ITT from the 11th ACR or another in-country unit happened to arrive. Even for the new arrivals, Brigade may have consulted with the 1/77 Armor commander, given that he was the senior armor officer in the brigade.


Similarly, 1/77 Armor was the only other unit with tanks, so out of necessity the Cav troop probably went officially or unofficially to 1/77 for repair parts, maintenance assistance and support, and related supply issues.  Whether this was an official channel, or just the way that mechanics, supply, mess and other NCOs deemed to be the necessary way to operate may not always have been clear.


Speaking of mess support, during our occasional forays into the base camp at Quang Tri, I know that on several occasions when only 1 Cav platoon was in the rear, or when only 1 vehicle came to base camp for maintenance, or one or two guys were back in the rear for whatever reason, it was not uncommon to be told that the Cav mess hall was closed, and our cooks were working at the 1/77 Armor mess hall.  We would walk over to the tank battalion HQ area and eat our meals in their mess hall.  Again, this may have been because of a direct command relationship between 1/77 and the Cav, or it could have just been for convenience sake because our orderly room, motor pool, and other facilities were closer to 1/77 than to any other unit at Quang Tri Combat Base.

The terms Chinese Fire Drill, Cluster Fuck, and Rag Tag Band of Gypsies could probably have been accurately applied to many units and operations in Northern I Corps (or any other combat zone since the time of Genghis Kahn) from time to time.  Much of the operational command and control of A 4/12 Cav and other units may best be described as following the “shit happens” management theory.  I suppose that many times, in the absence of clear instructions or policies, leaders at various levels just made the best decision they could at the time, whether that decision followed formal policy, doctrine, or procedures of that era.

In the last few years the US Army has again reorganized (something that armies do often). Presently brigades are task organized to deploy alone and be fully self sustainable. The current organization structure and operational doctrine may have been good for the 5 th Mech in Vietnam, but that is neither here nor there.

I would imagine that under the circumstances, most of the commanders and their subordinates in the 5th Mech did the best that they could, given the circumstances as they understood them. With the exception of the occasional self-serving asshole or incompetent who found their way into the system. . . ...

Jim Good (3 rd Plt 69-70)


Tom:  During my tenure at Battalion maintenance, to my memory, no log books were maintained at battalion level.  The log books were maintained at company level there was a problem with the log books that they were retained at company maintenance and no entries had been made since arrival in Nam which came as a shock to us in maintenance.  It seemed that the Maintenance Sergeants thought that no entries were required because their units involved hostile activities.  The battalion XO at the time did have me consolidate all the battalions PLLs at battalion level.  I informed at the time that this was in against the rules and would not fly.  I was right and after the IG the the PLL  clerks and the parts were separated and returned to each line company.  Of course prior to our departed to Vietnam I visited Publo Army Depot and scrounged two 5 tons load of repair parts.  It was easy since they had just completed an M48A3 rebuild program.  Our connection with A troop was strictly as a higher maintenance when they were attached to the battalion and we did some damage repair and bigger parts replacement but performed no services or PM for their equipment.  

PS  The IG took place in the  Fall of 1968 during our stay a LZ Nancy. 

CPT Robin Marriotte ( 1-77 Bn Maint Off during the deployment and a while after.)


Robin, Thanks. Max Pickarts told me you were the best Bn Maint Off he ever met. To bad we did not have a long time together. Jim Good, the picture builds, but is it becoming clear?

Tom (Thomas Miller 1/77 Bn Commander June - December 1969)





Thanks for the insight. As I had mentioned previously, the CMMI was held in the spring of '69. I know that the log books at the Cav were in terrible shape and I had initiated a program shortly after I arrived to have each crew start to maintain the log books. The gunners did not know about entering information on firing of the main tube, drivers regarding mileage, etc. Vehicle commanders were often clueless.  I can recall issues when I was with A Co, when the maintenance Sgt and I had a difference over the way to enter the information. I had gone to a maintenance course at Carson shortly before we left and was full of the latest and greatest, or so I thought.

Log books were just part of the Cav's problems, as I recall. Consistent with your memory, they probably were returned to the Cav prior to my arrival in December '68. However, I am not sure that the Cav was actually located at Nancy much prior to that time anyway. I also know that we had the log books for each of my vehicles at A Co, for most, if not all, the time I was there. Since my platoon operated independently so often, we took it upon ourselves to keep things up to date.


Hap (1LT Hap Trainor A Troop XO 68-69 – formally with A Co 1/77)




I sent out a request to the Troop for anyone’s memories with regards to Log Books. What follows is a summary of the response:


“Seem's like we had to at Ft. Carson.....but not in country” Don Bosson 2 nd Plt Lr 69


“I don't remember that.” Pineapple (George Gersaba, Jr 1 st Plt 69-70)


“ 49er never knew "log books" existed” Robert “Skee” Klinsky 3 rd 69-70


“I never saw a logbook the whole time I was with the Troop” James “Rag” Rinaldi 1 st Plt 68-69


“I drove for some time on a M-551,,, I do not recall ever seeing one little lone filling it out. of course being a PFC and FNG maybe the TC took care of it. I sure don't remember one at all.”


Charles “John Wayne” Russell 3 rd Plt 70-71


“ I do not recall my platoon recording information” Gerald “Thunderchicken” Fallon 1 st Plt Lr 68-69


“That is what the motor pool clercks had to do, besides deal with Peterson” Wally Mendoza 1 st Plt 69-70


“I don't ever remember having to keep records of anything like that” Paul Wedding1st Plt 70-71


“Don't Remember doing it on Tank 28” Jerry Beverage 2 nd Plt 70


“I drove track 13 for a little while, then drove 10 for Thunderchicken, then for Shadow when he took over until the end of June '69.  I never kept any log what so ever” Al Christine 1 st Plt 68-69


“I can't say one way or the other about logbooks. Just don't remember. 


I do remember doing PMCS checks from the -10 TM for sherridans and writing up deficiencies; especially when we were back in Quang Tri. “Jim Good (3 rd Plt 69-70)


I think we may be able to borrow a phrase with regards to the use of Log Books:


“Log Books, Log Books, We Do Not Need Any Sticking Log Books”


Now back to A Troop and its relationship with 1/77


Jim has a very accurate description as I remember it and later learned over my 24 years. What I remember about Quang Tri is that we had no hot showers. Don't remember ever eating in a mess hall. And could not get new clothing or socks.

Charlie Russell “John Wayne” Russell 3 rd Plt 70-71


Charlie THAT is what I remember too. Exactly. I ate in a mess hall in Quang Tri once that I can recall. The showers were cold. Got new boots when the Col. did an inspection, saw my year old off white Oakland issues and sent me to supply for new ones. It was not A Troop supply. Seems like we did some trading to get camo pattern fatigues. Again not issued through our supply.
What's up with all that.....didn't they like us well enough to equip us

Bob Rebbec 2 nd Plt 69-70


During 1970, the Troop had a mess hall in Quang Tri, although I think it was run by 1/77 Armor.  I'm sure we had that mess hall because I "went on the warpath" to get the mess sergeant either Article 15'd or relieved for the incompetence he showed in providing food service, both in the mess hall and in getting chow to the field.  He was lazy, slovenly, and "care"-less about his basic role of providing good meals.  Unfortunately, I "lost" that war - Battalion wouldn't support me, and I don't recall that the First Sergeant was too keen on the idea, either.  (I think the argument against taking some kind of action on the bum was, "We don't want to do that; it'll ruin his career!"  Aggghh!)  This is probably another example of the difficulties we had being attached to 1/77.

 I say "attached to 1/77", because I am pretty sure that was our situation.  I know that while I was the 1/77 S-1, we processed all the personnel actions (orders, NCOERs, OERs, etc.) for the Troop, as well as the rest of the Armor Bn.  And while I was the Troop CO, I certainly considered the Battallion CO as my "boss", not the Brigade CG or the Deputy Brigade commander.

 Bob Richards (Cpt A Troop 1970)

I think the only hot showers that I took in Vietnam were in Vung Tau on in-country R&R. As I recall it, there was another shower near the B&B lounge that did have an immersion heater or something to heat the water, but that one was for NCOs only. The rest of the troops used a larger shower building east of the platoon hootches, but the immersion heater for the water supply was either missing or it didn't work. I do remember eating in mess halls in Quang Tri whenever we were in the rear. Nothing great, but it was there. Usually, we ate in the mess hall
that the Cav's cooks operated, but sometimes we went to the 1/77 Armor mess hall. As for new fatigues, sox, boots, Etc, that did seem pretty rare. I remember getting a new pair of boots close to the end of my tour, but it seems that they sent a few of us to A 1/77 Armor's supply room to get them. I think that I got one or two new sets of jungle fatigues over the year that I was
there, but no idea when or where.

Jim Good (3 rd Plt 69-70)


We were a step child. An ugly step child Bob Rebbec 2 nd Plt 69-70


A step child with an attitude Gary “Trap” Thrappas, Sr 3 rd Plt 70-71


A step child, but probably not the only one. Usually in divisional brigades in that era one of the Cav troops from the divisional Cav squadron would work with each maneuver brigade. But the troop really belonged to the Cav squadron. Most supply, personnel admin, major maintenance, Etc was handled by the parent unit. The DS artillery unit was probably in a similar situation. An artillery battalion would normally provide fire support, forward observer teams, Etc. to a maneuver brigade, but Div Arty really owned the battalion and coordinated personnel, supply, maintenance, and training issues. Same with the Log Dogs in supply and maintenance at the
support battalion. They may have been used to supplying a maneuver brigade, but for their internal requirements of personnel management, admin, training, Etc, they would have been used to going through Discom. Add to that the lack of institutional memory due to 1 year tours and the general confusion and fog of war, it is probably certain that a lot of things were overlooked or simply slipped between the cracks in the Brigade. Like I said earlier, shit happens. People muddled through as best they could – often things got overlooked or forgotten. Shit happens.

That was then, this is now.

Jim Good (3 rd Plt 69-70)


Jim I love ya, I really do. But if the military structure is half as complicated as the explanations you and and a couple others have given NO WONDER things were F--ked up!!! Business or any organization is only as complicated as "they" make it. Bureaucrats create a mess.

Bob Rebbec 2 nd Plt 69-70



Well, the military by its nature is different from business, and while improvement is probably always possible, there are some unique factors at play. I don't know what the TO&E authorizations were for the various units back then, but the 1st Bde 5th Inf Div (Mech) probably had between 2,000 and 3,000 people to feed, equip, train, pay, administer, and deploy in life
and death combat. Businesses can streamline and cut out a lot of bureaucratic fluff, but then businesses generally don't get overly concerned with what their employees do when not on the job. They hire an employee, pay him, and it is pretty much up to the employee to find housing, food, medical care, and other necessities. It is not that simple for the military in a combat zone. In addition to the primary job (killing people and blowing things up), the Army had to feed, house (such as it was), clothe, provide medical care, and perform a variety of other functions. Furthermore, we couldn't go down to the NAPA auto parts in Quang Tri City for repair parts. While replacement troops had been trained, they pretty much all required significant additional training and supervision by the old hands. We couldn't go to WalMart for ammo and new socks and underwear. We couldn't go to the local supermarket or drive-in for food. We had to run systems to bring all of that stuff to us from half way around the world. Add to that we were operating on the countryside in a nation where we didn't speak the language, most of the locals didn't speak our language, and oh, by the way, there were thousands of bad guys lurking around trying to kill us. So was it more complicated than running a business in the USA? Definitely so!
Bureaucrats do create a mess, and I'm not saying that the military system is perfect. Far from it. But you gotta admit, that given the life and death stakes in a war, it is a challenge to tie everything together. A challenge further complicated by the fact that back then, the US Army
typically didn't send divisional brigades off to operate thousands of miles from the rest of the divisional support units. There were some brigades structured and trained to operate independently. Units like the 173d Airborne, the 11th ACR, Etc. But they had been designed to operate and support themselves independently. Divisional maneuver brigades like ours
had not.

Jim Good (3 rd Plt 69-70)


I cannot say for sure what happened prior to 1970, but the TO&E update that I worked on in October of 1970 was just that, a rework. I think it is safe to assume that the Brigade was reorganized at least prior to or coincidental to BG Burke's assumption of command.

What I find somewhat puzzling is that we, 2nd Platoon, never ran into a unit from 3/5 CAV. I can remember chance neetings with 1-11 INF and 1-61 Mech, but never met up with anyone from 3/5 CAV and they had 9 platoons.

Zero (Dennis Perrino 2 nd Plt Lt / Troop XO 70-71)

Thanks for that input. I did not know that the brigade had been formally
restructured as a separate brigade. Do you know if all that happened prior
to deployment to Vietnam, or did it evolve after the unit arrived in

As far as the general officer command authorization, I know there were
BGs in command while I was there, however the brigade deployed to Vietnam
under COL Richard J. Gilkes, JUL-OCT 68, he was followed by COL James M.
Gibson, OCT 68 - JUN 69, COL John L. Osteen, Jr. JUN-DEC 69. BG William A.
Burke who commanded JAN-JUL 70 was the first general officer to command the
1st of the 5th. BG John G. Hill, JUL 70 - MAY 71, and BG Harold H.
Dunwoody, MAY - JUL 71 rounded out the in-country commanders of the brigade.

Jim Good (3 rd Plt 69-70)

There are three things I can think of that might have kept us and 3/5 Cav from interacting.
Of course, most of the time during 1970, each of the battalions (and the Troop) had their own Areas of Operations in which we were free to roam, conducting search-and-destroy operations.  In those AOs there was only one unit operating, so that we would not inadvertently enounter one another.  So wherever it was that 3/5s AO was, we had a different AO (in our case, AO Green, the "backyard" of Quang Tri Combat Base).
Also, 3/5 Cav's base area was up at Dong Ha Combat Base, not in Quang Tri Combat Base, so even when we were "out of the field" we didn't encounter 3/5 troopers.
Finally, we were never OPCON to them to create a Task Force, since we would have just been "more Cav".  If a TF based on 3/5 were ever created, the OPCON units would probably have been Armor or Infantry units, instead of us.

Bob Richards (Cpt A Troop 1970)


I recall seeing 3/5 Cav units in the backyard, a click or so to our northwest at least once in the late spring/early summer of 1970. Some of heir M113 ACAVs had vertical engineer stakes on all 4 corners, with a tarp strung between them for shade. We joked that they were in M113 Winnebago's. Several of us who went through AIT and or Sheridan Tank school arrived in
country in early December, and a few of the guys went to the 3/5 Cav. Occasionally someone would see or hear from one of the guys in 3/5 Cav, and from all accounts, it appeared that their troops were a bit flaky. I recall hearing of them getting into contact much more often than we did. Same general area, Charlie could hide and attack whoever he wanted. Seems that decided that the 3/5 Cav was an easier target than A 4/12. Not that I'm impartial.

No idea where the 3/5 Cav typically operated, but as you said, we did not seem to have as many chance encounters with them as we did with 1/11 or 1/61.

Jim Good (3 rd Plt 69-70)


We always heard the 3/5th was flaky and there was a lot of drug use within the unit. I remember many times when we were approached by the civilians along the highways trying to sell us booze and drugs. To my knowledge no one in the 3rd platoon bought or used drugs (not in the field anyway). We knew that info would filter to the enemy and I firmly believe that's why our unit
didn't have as much contact as the 3/5th. And let's forget all the firepower we possess and ammo. There were many torsion bars replaced because of all the weight in our tracks.
Gary “Trap” Thrappas, Sr 3 rd Plt 70-71



I agree. We basically had the same TO&E as the 3/5 Cav troops did. Same equipment, same weapons, and the people came from the same replacement pool. We were just lucky in A Troop to have better leaders, both assigned and emerged from the ranks. Perhaps just a better random sample of people in A 4/12. Even during my 12 months in the Cav we had periods where we performed better, and appeared to be more combat ready than at other times, but we were never flaky in my opinion. I do remember 2 drug related incidents while I was with 3rd platoon. In the spring of 1970 a guy was medevaced from the field near Cua Viet for an apparent drug overdose of some sort. I don't remember his name or anything about him, other than that everyone
pretty much knew he was a "head." No idea what he had been ingesting, but it wasn't pot or beer. I don't think that he ever came back to the unit. The other time, one of the troopers decided that he would smoke a joint while the platoon was setting up our NDP southwest of Quang Tri in the
"Backyard." SGT Coble administered some physical counseling to perform an attitude adjustment on that trooper. Other than those two times, I do not recall seeing or hearing of any drug use in the field. I think that everyone just knew that it didn't make sense to be out in harms way with their head all messed up.
Jim Good (3 rd Plt 69-70)


We always felt like the TV series F Troop. Left over gear, food, cold showers, and last for promotions. We kept getting excuses from Top that there was a work order to repair The hot water heater. Myself and Holbert decided not to wait for hell to freeze over   and try to fix it ourselves only to hear Top say to us while we had it apart is “If you break it you bought it”. He was a real asshole and caused our unit too much grief and destroyed the morale. He had a passion for Art 15s. By the way we were able to get it working, no atta boys from our fearless leaders.

Gary “Trap” Thrappas, Sr 3 rd Plt 70-71


Interesting comments....... problably explains why some recommened awards fell off the radar, or got downgraded. Unfortunately, between out from the base with the platoon and then later being transferred to 1/77, those occurrences fell off my daily task lists...shoulda' been more attentive.


Hank (Henry Gregor 1 st Plt Ld 69-70)

Trap where the hell was I,, I don't remember that.   What I do know or at least think I know.  We did and accomplished every misssion we were givin. I am also a believer in that we didn't get hit nearly as much as some of the other units. #1 our firepower. #2 we always sent up our defensive stuff. #3 We dug sleeping holes and firing positions between the tracks. #4 LP were established and claymore ambushes set out. #5 Few if any went to sleep on guard. To a trained observer ie. NVA recon/scouts. They had the also ya know.  I'd say they reported back up there chain of command to not fuck with this 4/12 Cav american unit, they do things and don't mess around and we should pick on other less prepared/capable units and leave 4/12 CAV alone as much as possiable.  Dispite our lack of support and defined chain of command, we obtained what we needed or did without. It always seemed to me we got along well, we had our clicks that served as our coping mechanisms. With our RA and US mix of personel we seemed to have high morale and dispite complaining, bitching, FTAing and other such venting procedures we did well. During my career I often compared the other units I was assigned too and my goal was always to create the unity, commadrie, get it done spirit, creativity, you may have distain for the boss and the mission but do it anyway. Anyway that just some thoughts I have after reading the discussion over the few days. There is just something about the CAV especialy Ground CAV, AIRCAV doesn't realy count as far as I'm concerned. IF ya AIN'T CAV ya AIN'T SHIT
Charlie Russell “John Wayne” 3 rd Plt 70-71



I agree with you 100 %, thatÂ’s what the Cav was when you were there and I felt safe out in the field (except for land mines)until they started reducing troop levels. Instead of letting us do our job and leave us along when we returned  from the field they started playing the stateside Army.  Article 15Â’s were given for not wearing a Tee shirt while playing hoop. We had to shine our boots when no one even owned shoe polish or brushes. Before I left we were assigned to the 101 st which we nicknamed the 101 worst because they told us when a trip flare went off not to fire unless we had  positive enemy activity. It was painful for me to see a great unitÂ’s morale going down the drain and it wasnÂ’t just the Cav.  I believe this is why we canÂ’t get many 70-71 members to attend the reunions.

IÂ’m proud to have served with the Cav. TheyÂ’re  great solders and the majority of our leadership I respected, but there was those who did more harm then good for the memories I and others have for them.  Looking forward to seeing you at the reunion.

Gary “Trap” Thrappas, Sr 3 rd Plt 70-71



The lack of unit pride in the later years became fairly obvious as Diane was locating troopers in mass a few years back. Why I don't know, I can only guess.  I was lucky to have served when I did.

Bob Rebbec 2 nd Plt 69-70


I'd love to hear what you have to say. One of the things I remember most fondly is A Troop was not a chicken shit spit and polish state side wannabe outfit when I came to it.

I remember there were some efforts in that direction but we were in the field enough that it didn't matter.

Bob Rebbec 2 nd Plt 69-70


That  was the beauty of the Cav. We weren’t a chicken shit spit & polish wannabe unit and  the enemy knew not to mess with us because we had our shit together. One of my fondest memories is when we returned from the field and in morning formation was told to shine our boots. Naturally we were pissed and the lucky ones received new boots from supply and most of us sprayed high gloss spray paint on our boots and while returning to HQ dragged our feet through the sand giving that wet paint a nice glider.  Top wasn’t none too happy, but no one got busted. As we told him we left the polish in the states.

Gary “Trap” Thrappas, Sr 3 rd Plt 70-71


Ya know if I were to point out the military regulation that bothered me the most it would be the rotation of officers. It was six months with a combat unit right?? It seems to me that all new officers were FNG's, most realized that fact some didn't, when they joined the unit. About the time they got competent at their job they were transferred. stupid stupid stupid IMHO.        Why??????

Bob Rebbec 2 nd Plt 69-70


In many cases, it was cause folks got promoted. I remember the time when General Burke (a fantastic man and officer, IMO) was looking for a new aide...I think he asked every platoon leader in the troop and we all declined to leave. I remember telling him I preferred to stay with the platoon as long as I could and even if I got promoted to captain, he smiled and chuckled, saying something friendly and supportive, which I found to be his leadership style. Later on, after promotion, I did stay out in the field with the platoon for a few extra days, before a changeover. A few weeks later, having thought Gen Burke would have forgotten the encounter, our paths intersected and he teased me a bit about staying out as the only captain with a platoon. From there I went on to a tank company....great, just great, folks...but have always been so grateful for having been in the Cav.

I think many people believed that some sort of equivalent to the British regimental system wherein career troops of all ranks tend to stay primarily in the same outfit, would have been a good one.

The way units are moved in and out of theater nowadays probably does a lot for unit cohesion, thought then the units, I assume, must go through FNG status as they live and learn on arrival, if its a first deployment

Hank (Henry Gregor 1 st Plt Ld 69-70)

My second tour was with the 69/70 group and I can't say enough about those guys. We were good and did what was asked of us. John

John Kesterson 2 nd Plt 69-70