OPERATION PAUL REVERE II
1 August 66 - 25 August 66
August 1, 1966 found the 2/35 Infantry entering phase II of
OPERATION PAUL REVERE. On this date Company C conducted a heliborne.
assault. in to LZ 29X without enemy contact. Company A, 2/35 INF was
rested and reorganized after heavy contact on 31 July 1966. 2/35 INF(-)
continued search and destroy, ambush, and blocking positions in AO.
On August 2, 1966, Company A was given the mission of returning to
the 31 July 66 scene of action. Rather than approach from the southwest,
Captain McDonough was directed to move due east of LZ 36J (YA973053)
until he crossed a north-south trail that previously had been detected
by airborne visual reconnaissance. Once astride this trail, Captain
McDonough was to proceed north following and mapping the trail and its
major offshoots, if any. In this fashion he was to proceed north of the
08 east-west grid line, turn west, and come into the 31 July 66 scene of
action from the northwest. The area of contact would then be thoroughly
searched. Inherent in the assigned task was a concurrent search and
At 0755 on 2 Aug 66, a composite. force consisting of the 3d
Platoon, Company A, and the attached battalion reconnaissance platoon,
departed LZ 36J (YA973053). The force was commanded by Captain James M.
McDonough, CO, Company A. The reconnaissance platoon was given the
mission of providing the point. Since there were no trails running east
from LZ 36J, Lt. Brennan, the reconnaissance platoon leader, selected a
route to the SSE. This. route was selected because it avoided a hill
mass and some very thick vegetation.
At 0931 a north-south trail was discovered and the point element
of the reconnaissance platoon sighted one NVA at YA988052. This NA
soldier was engaged with results unknown. At 0934, three NVA were
engaged at coordinates YA988053. One of the three was KIA. As a
precautionary measure, Capt. McDonough instructed his arty FO, Lt.
Knutson, to call fire on the area to the north of the previously
mentioned coordinates. At 0945, the artillery fire completed, Company A
moved northward. The trail formed a junction. Many foot prints indicated
that a platoon or more had recently used the branch heading to the
northeast, therefore Capt. McDonough instructed Lt. Brennan to follow
that branch but, to exercise extreme caution. After moving approximately
400 meters, the trail turned again to the north. Two NVA were spotted in
a tree line. Artillery fire again was called in. When completed, Company
A swept through the area without positive results. At 1035, two NVA were
observed at YA991061 and were engaged with a M-79 grenade launcher. One
soldier was killed and the other pursued for a short distance to
Movement was continued to the north guiding on the trail. At 1125,
two NVA were sighted and taken under fire at YA992067. Both were killed.
Just north of this skirmish, an abandoned Montagnard village containing
twenty huts was discovered. A detailed search indicated that the huts
had been used for sleeping within the past few days. At the southern
edge of the village, the trail turned west. Footprints still were
visible. Signs showed movement in both directions and indicated very
Captain McDonough instructed his 3d platoon leader, Lt. Tragakis,
to remain behind with his platoon and destroy the village. The company
command group and reconnaissance platoon would continue to follow the
trail. Lt. Tragakis was further instructed that he would rejoin Capt.
McDonough upon the completion of the village destruction mission. After
approximately 200 meters, the trail again turned north. Evidence of
recent use by a large group persisted.
At 1200, the point squad observed two NVA at coordinates YA991071.
Both were engaged by the point and both were killed. Concurrent with
this action, fifty or more NVA were observed running on the flank. The
enemy appeared to have been caught totally off guard. The reconnaissance
platoon immediately engaged the NVA force. Both reconnaissance platoon
flank security elements observed NVA to their flanks firing automatic
weapons. Clearly the NVA were reacting rapidly and were moving to
surround the friendly forces.
Capt. McDonough ordered the 3d platoon to the scene of action. Lt.
Tragakis had heard the firing and already had started to move. The left
flank element of the reconnaissance platoon was pinned down by automatic
weapons fire. In an attempt to maneuver against the enemy machinegun
position, Sgt Munoz, SP4 Gardner, and SP4 Trueluck were killed almost
immediately. SP4 Ledebur, the fourth member of the maneuver group, was
wounded in both legs.
Pvt Sanderson, the reconnaissance platoon medic quickly ran to the
aid of SP4 Ledebur. In the process, Pvt Sanderson was wounded three
times. SP4 Ledebur was killed as the result of an additional head wounds
A base of fire was provided for Pvt Sanderson and he was able to return
to the platoon position.
A three man enemy machinegun team was observed moving into
position on the high ground to the north, SSG Dean, the acting
reconnaissance platoon sergeant, took the team under fire and killed all
As the 3d platoon maneuvered to assist the reconnaissance platoon,
they were engaged by a small force; however, they were able to break
through and closed in with the reconnaissance platoon at approximately
1300. By this time, the NVA had maneuvered two separate elements to each
Captain McDonough reported his situation to battalion
headquarters. His estimate was that he had entered a base area and that
he was in contact with an enemy force of at least battalion size. As his
brief report terminated, his estimate was confirmed as a mortar round
was heard as it fired from the tube. This first mortar rounds hit to the
left flank. Both flank elements were heavily engaged at this time. Three
more mortar rounds were fired and traced a path across the area from
west to east. The second of the three rounds hit on the trail between
Lt. Brennan and Captain McDonough. Captain McDonough was wounded by
fragments. Moments later a machinegun firing in his direction hit him in
the chest. Capt. McDonough died within seconds.
1st Sgt Perez moved quickly and spontaneously to the aid of
Captain McDonough only to be killed instantly by a third mortar round.
This group of three mortar rounds caused more than twenty casualties,
including Lt. Brennan and SSG Dean.
Lt. Brennan immediately took command, made a quick estimate of the
situation, and determined that he had too many wounded to attempt to
break contact. He then instructed Lt. Tragakis to strengthen the
perimeter using all available personnel, including the wounded who could
still function. At this time, the US Force was completely encircled.
Because of the thick terrain, Lt. Brennan could not readily determine
his exact location.
The artillery FO, Lt. Knutson, called for smoke rounds; however,
during the adjustment a FAC appeared on the scene with two AlE’s on
station. By this time, the perimeter was firmly established and the dead
and wounded had been gathered into a central location. Enemy fire still
was so intense that digging of positions was hazardous (had to be done
from the prone position) and clearing of a LZ to extract the wounded was
The perimeter was marked with smoke and the AlE’s dropped
"mini-bombs" all around the perimeter. Prior to this all signs
indicated that the enemy had regrouped for a large scale coordinated
attack against the perimeter. Yelling, screaming, and whistle blowing
Was heard. Some of the NVA were heard to yell in English "1st Cav"
and "Lt. Brennan." (It is believed that Lt. Brennan’s name
was picked up from wounded personnel who called for him on several
Before the AlEs made their bomb run, enemy troops were observed
rising to the standing position, a clear indication of impending attack.
At this instant, a second mortar attack of twelve rounds fell along the
trail. An undetermined number of casualties were caused by these rounds.
The bomb run by the AlEs broke up the mortar attack and in all
probability aborted a mass attack by the enemy at this time. On
completion of the A1E ordnance, two gun ships arrived on the scene.
Smoke was used to mark the friendly positions, after which the gun ships
worked over the east and west flanks.
Upon completion of the gun ship activity, A1Es were again on
station. They laced the area to the south. Until the second air strike,
enemy fire was still being received; however, upon completion of the air
strike to the south, enemy fire ceased. It was thought that the enemy
had broken contact. Preparation of a LZ was started at this time. As the
LZ preparation neared completion, enemy automatic weapons again opened
fire. Three more mortar rounds fell. Work was discontinued on the LZ and
personnel were directed to return to their defensive positions.
A machine gun team from the reconnaissance platoon observed thirty
NVA in the draw to the left flank. As the group came into range, it was
taken under fire and ten NVA were KIA. The remaining twenty quickly
dispersed. One Soviet LMG (7.62), one 1 LMG (7.62), six AK-47’s, and
three SKS’s were captured in this action.
Work again was resumed on the LZ. During this period, sporadic
firing continued. Upon completion of the LZ, a DUSTOFF aircraft
attempted to come in to extract wounded. The DUSTOFF aircraft was fired
upon, therefore Lt. Brennan instructed the pilot to leave the area.
Because of the large expenditure of ammunition and the need for
materials to improve the small LZ, a resupply mission was attempted at
1700, As the re supply aircraft came into the area, Lt. Brennan popped
smoke; however, the pilot identified the wrong color. It is presumed
that the NVA were using smoke to lure the aircraft into their area. The
resupply aircraft flew over the LZ and attempted to push the supply
items out. This effort was a total failure in that all items landed
outside the perimeter and either were broken open and scattered or were
damaged as a result of hitting the ground. This attempt to resupply
apparently caused a flurry of activity by the enemy. A fire fight which
lasted for 45 minutes developed.
As soon as the fire fight slowed down, teams were sent out in an
attempt to recover the supplies. The only items the recovery teams
retrieved were a few blocks of C4, one broken chain saw, and one case of
Because of the relative quiet that prevailed at this time, Lt.
Brennan led a six man group outside the perimeter in an attempt to
recover the reconnaissance platoon flank security group which had been
killed earlier. The attempt failed because the NVA had the bodies
covered with a MG; however, the NVA likewise were prevented access to
the bodies and equipment as Lt. Brennan placed one of his machine guns
in position to foil any NVA attempts. In the meantime, work on the
perimeter defensive positions, on protective holes for the wounded and
on the LZ continued.
Shortly after it became apparent that Captain McDonough’s force
was in contact with a large enemy unit, Battalion headquarters began
efforts to constitute a relief force. Companies B and C, both deployed
well to the north in blocking positions, were directed to assemble and
prepare to be lifted by helicopter to LZ 36J. Both units assembled in
good order, commenced movement, and closed into LZ 36J, Company B at
1603 and Company C at 1602. Company C, commanded by Captain Robert L.
Ord III, was directed to move overland to effect relief. Captain Charles
A. Murray, newly designated commander of Company A, accompanied the
relief force. Company C departed LZ 36J at 1615. At 1830, lead elements
made link-up without major incident. On arrival at the scene of action,
Captain Ord made a hasty estimate of the situation and decided to defend
the perimeter with personnel of Company C only. Personnel of Company A
and the reconnaissance platoon who still were functioning were given the
mission of establishing an inner perimeter, protecting and preparing
positions for the wounded. As personnel from Company C moved into the
perimeter, automatic weapons fire was received from the north. When fire
was returned, enemy fire would cease, then pick up again when friendly
At 1900, Captain Ord learned of the fact that there were four
casualties from the reconnaissance platoon outside the perimeter. Lt.
Davis, Platoon Leader, 1st Platoon, Company C, was directed to send out
a four man team, plus a guide from the reconnaissance platoon, to
attempt recovery of the bodies before nightfall. Unknown to Captain Ord,
Lt. Davis took out the group himself. Only ten meters out, sniper fire
wounded the point man, Pfc Petit. Sniper fire was so intense that
repeated attempts to rescue Pfc Petit were driven back. The recovery
group returned to the perimeter under covering fire, which was later
discovered to have killed the sniper. There were now five casualties
outside the perimeter. Captain Ord decided it was not worth sacrificing
more men in recovery attempts. Later, a medic, Pfc Doolin, crawled out
and brought back Pfc Petit, who died later that night.
At 1945, because of the improved condition of the LZ (A seven man
engineer squad had been attached to Company C. From arrival, this squad
worked on the LZ and had improved it to the point that it easily could
accept one aircraft) and the strengthened perimeter, Captain Ord
attempted to get DUSTOFF into the area to extract the more seriously
wounded. As the DUSTOFF aircraft came on short final and almost to a
hover, an enemy light machinegun began firing. It was later learned that
the pilot and door gunner had been wounded. The aircraft immediately
withdrew as Company C troops put down a heavy base of fire to cover the
departure. By this time, darkness as well as enemy activity precluded
further attempts by DUSTOFF aircraft.
At 2000, four mortar rounds fell within the perimeter. It is
believed the distribution was one round of 60mm and three of 82mm. This
mortar attack caused the following casualties in Company C......from the
one 60mm round, two WIA; from the three 82mm rounds, two KIA (including
Lt. Davis) and sixteen WIA. These rounds landed on the perimeter
positions. Lt. Davis was killed in the process of checking his portion
of the line. The battalion reconnaissance platoon and the 3d no
casualties since they were occupying positions on an inner perimeter as
previously mentioned. The relatively heavy number of casualties
resulting from this mortar attack is explained by the fact that the men
of Company C were establishing the new perimeter and had not yet had
adequate time to finish their positions. Concurrently with the start of
the mortar attack, enemy small arms were fired into the perimeter from
the N and NE. Again enemy fire immediately ceased when a large volume of
fire was returned. Artillery fire was adjusted into the area in which
the enemy mortar was believed to be positioned. As the artillery rounds
landed, a secondary explosion was heard. Work began again on improving
positions. At 2130, an alarm was given that mortar rounds again were
incoming. Personnel dived for their positions, however, the rounds
landed outside the northeastern corner of the perimeter. There were no
casualties from this mortar attack. Counter mortar artillery fire again
was brought in, after which work resumed on the defensive positions.
At 2145, two NVA approached the perimeter from the
north-northeast. It appeared. that they did not realize they were
approaching the perimeter. The lead individual carried a light
machinegun on his shoulder and an AK-47 in his hand. The second man did
not have a weapon. SSG Pasowicz, a squad leader of the 1st Platoon
Company C, permitted the two NVA to get within two meters of his
position, then halted them in English. Regardless of whether they
understood English, the NVA halted, answered in Vietnamese, and SSG
Pasowicz immediately replied with an automatic burst of fifteen rounds
from his M-16. The remaining four rounds were expended on the second NVA
who turned, took a step, and fell. The second body was not found at
At approximately 2220, the enemy began blowing whistles, bugles,
and screaming in unintelligible fashion. Captain Ord, concluding that a
major assault. was imminent, called in repeated artillery FFE on the
area from which the greatest volume of screaming seemed to be coming.
These repeated artillery drubbings caused the "war dance" to
cease. Apparently the artillery was on target. Captain Ord estimated
that preparations for a major assault. again had been disrupted.
Thereafter, Captain Ord devoted attention to the task of bringing in
continuous artillery and mortar fire plus the fire support ordnance
provided by USAF. The artillery FO attached to Company C, Lt. Zschoche,
adjusted DEFCONS around the perimeter. Extensive H&I fires wore
planned and placed throughout the area for the entire night. Lt.
Knutson, the artillery FO who had been accompanying Captain McDonough’s
force, although wounded earlier in the action, assisted in the fire
planning and adjusted the fires of another artillery battery.
At 2400, one USAF AC 47 (puff the Magic Dragon) fired its entire
load around the perimeter, followed at 0200, by an airstrike of two AlEs
dropping napalm, CBUs, and finally strafing with 20mm cannons. This
latter airstrike was conducted under very adverse weather conditions.
The ceiling was extremely low and the pilots were further hampered by
frequent rain showers. A single flashlight was used initially to
identify the friendly perimeter to the FAC. Air support strikes were
extremely well executed. All pilots involved displayed magnificent
skill, courage, and perseverance.
During the remainder of the night, the perimeter received sporadic
automatic weapons fire and two relatively light probes. At daylight,
sweeps were pushed out 25, 50 and finally 75 meters. The bodies of the
four men from the reconnaissance platoon were found undisturbed. The NVA
KIA body count in the immediate area was completed. During the sweeps,
contact was made on two occasions, each with one NVA. The first contact
was made from a distance of 75 meters. The NVA was not armed. He carried
only a pack or case. It is assumed that he was a medic or else simply
was policing the battlefield. He was not hit by friendly fire and he
successfully evaded capture. The second contact was made in precisely
the same manner, again without positive results. Early morning weather
conditions on 3 Aug 66 precluded aerial medevac, however, at
approximately 1200 DUSTOFF moved into the LZ, landed, and loaded two WIA.
While loading the third WIA, firing broke out to the south. Two
positions on the perimeter engaged a six man NVA force. The DUSTOFF ship
immediately withdrew, receiving several hits on liftoff.
Meanwhile, Company C, 1st Bn, 7th Cav, 1st Air Cav Div, which had
begun moving shortly after first light, was pushing toward the scene of
action from the south. At 1230, link up was made with Captain Ord’s
elements. The remainder of the 1st Bn, 7th Cav, followed.
At 1335, detailed sweeps of the area were completed and the entire
1/7 Cav had closed. Company C, 1/7 Cav, killed two armed NVA during the
sweep. The entire area was secured and DUSTOFF and resupply aircraft
were able o get into the area without incident.
The first aircraft to arrive brought in a volunteer physician (Dr.
Reber) from the brigade clearing company, He immediately administered
needed aid to the seriously wounded. His selfless and courageous act
brought quality medical attention to several of the seriously wounded
and undoubtedly was instrumental in saving the life of one if not
Upon completion of the evacuation of the wounded, the remnants of
Company A and the battalion reconnaissance platoon were lifted to LZ
36J. Company C then conducted a more expensive sweep to the northeast,
discovered a battalion size base camp, and counted an additional
fourteen dead NVA. Company C returned to LZ 36J at 1700, having had no
contact along the return route.