27 May-3O May 1967
At 27 1200H, the battalion CP was
notified by the S2, 3d Brigade Task Force, of a suspected enemy CP located in
Tan Phong Hamlet, Due Pho District, Quang Ngai Province (BS735435). Since the
organic forces of the battalion were committed some distance from the area of
interest, the battalion commander, LTC Granger, requested and received
permission to insert the Blue Team, Troop B, 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry,
(Airmobile). The Blue Team (an infantry platoon) was inserted by combat assault
east of the target into an LZ vic BS739435 at 1225H. Team Penn (C/3-4 Cav (-)
and the Reconnaissance Platoon 2-35 Inf, located about ten kilometers north of
LZ LIZ, was given the mission of reserve reaction force (RRF) for the Blue Team
to their south.
At 1300H, vic BS738439, the Blues
reported observing thirty well armed and equipped enemy with camouflaged
uniforms. The Blues engaged the enemy platoon, killed three and called for
additional troop support to block what appeared to be a withdrawing enemy. Team
Penn, reacting to the call, immediately moved south to block. Gunships from the
weapons platoon B/1-9 Cav (Red Team) were dispatched to provide additional fire
support. Artillery blocking fires were adjusted to the west of the contact to
prevent enemy withdrawal in that direction. See sketch #3.
At 1340H, B/2-35 was released from
OPCON B/1-9 Cav and returned to the 2-35 Inf. They were alerted to move by air
to support the growing fight, At 1400H, the Blues had secured an LZ vic BS747472
and the lift ships carrying 1B/2-35 were enroute.
At 1402, the first helicopter
carrying lB landed amidst very heavy enemy fire. The other five helicopters were
forced to circle out of the area of contact. One ship was hit and the pilot
wounded. Despite his wounds, the pilot was successful in landing his aircraft
out of the battle area, 800 meters west of LZ LIZ, Recon (-) and two APCís
from C/3-4 Cav were dispatched from LIZ to provide security for the ship.
By 1415H, the Blues, heavily
engaged and suffering not only battle casualties but also heat injuries, had
requested an emergency resupply of ammunition and water.
At 1430H, a 174th Aviation Company
UH-1D was loaded and over the area of contact at an LZ secured by the Blue Team.
As the helicopter was making its short final it was hit by a heavy burst of
enemy automatic weapons fire and subsequently crashed 200 meters south of the
LZ. A squad from the Blues successfully extracted the wounded crew from the
burning craft before it exploded.
At 1554H, Company B (-) was
airlifted to the vicinity of the downed bird where it linked up with the
remaining elements of Recon and C/3-4 Cav. This force then deployed northwest to
the hamlet where the Blues were heavily engaged and surrounded.
By 1607H, Team Penn had arrived
from the north and was receiving fire from the enemy. Dismounting the battalion
reconnaissance platoon, the C/3-4 Cav moved about one thousand meters west and
attacked from the northwest. Recon assaulted the enemy from the northeast. See
The enemy, now engaged on three
sides, found itself surrounded. They still persisted in their violent attack on
the Blue Team and despite accurate gunship fire were able to inflict a few more
casualties. As the pressure grew more intense, the enemy slackened their rate of
fire and began to evade. The Recon platoon broke through the enemy lines and
linked with the Blues. See sketch #4.
Almost simultaneously, the APCís,
inflicting heavy enemy losses, broke through to the northwest. Captain Penn, CO,
C/3-4 Cav, decided to withdraw the WIAís from the contact area to a secure LZ
where the wounded could be evacuated. As his element with the WIAís in the APCís
moved through the perimeter, Captain Pennís tracks became surrounded. The
enemy undoubtedly thought they could stop the armor with their small arms but
they paid a huge price in lives before the error was discovered. The armored
cavalry succeeded in securing an LZ and at 1620H, the first DUSTOFF was
At 1631H, B/2-35 (-) linked with
the friendly elements in the contact area (Tan Phong). After reorganization of
the force, B Company deployed to the north for a careful, detailed search for
the enemy. Finding the enemy was not difficult as they continued to resist with
heavy volumes of small arms and automatic weapons fire. However, the enemy began
using the many spider holes and caves that infested Tan Phong in an effort to
escape the closing force.
As the units approached the
northern end of the hamlet, an airstrike was called in by LTC Granger on an
enemy hamlet 500 meters north of Tan Phong. C/3-4 Cav was directed to move to
the northwest in an attempt to move around the enemy and block his withdrawal.
In the meantime, Recon began
receiving moderate fire to the south, indicating the enemy had left a force
behind. The Reconnaissance Platoon turned back through Tan Phong while B/2-35
(-) continued to the hamletís northern fringe. By this time the large enemy
force (estimated company (+) had scattered and the units were receiving only
light resistance, See sketch #5.
By 1900H, all elements closed
together in a perimeter vic BS730437 to be re-supplied and to extract the Blue
Team. 2B was to be lifted in to reinforce the team. At 1918H, 2B attempted a
touchdown but again only one bird was able to land in the face of enemy AW fire.
It was decided that it was too risky to try the exchange, Gunships, flareships,
and an armed AC-47 reported on station. See sketch #6.
At 2100H, A/2-35 was airlifted from the beach to LZ Liz where they assumed
responsibility for FSB security. All elements dug. in for the night.
At 28 0315H, the force in Tan
Phong came under a light enemy mortar attack. Captain Penn, CO, C/3-4 Cav, the
only casualty, was mortally wounded, Counter mortar fires from LZ Liz and
artillery fires by 2d Bn 9th Arty were placed effectively throughout the area.
There was no further contact that night. In view of the enemy strength it was
decided to commit further troops into the area in the morning,
At 28 0938H May 1967, C/1-35 (-)
was placed OPCON 2-35 Inf and conducted a heliborne assault vic BS727477. Their
assigned mission was to sweep south along the base of the hill mass on the
western border of the coastal plain, a likely avenue of enemy withdrawal.
Recon/2-35 conducted a heliborne, assault at 1055H west of C/1-35 (-) vic
BS715465 and was assigned to sweep the ridge lines and draws in the hill masses
to the northwest of Tan Phong. A/2-35 departed LZ Liz on a sweep to the west not
only to aid B/2-35 in the search of the battlefield, but also to establish
contact. C/3-4 Cav was assigned blocking positions southeast of Recon. The Blue
Team was extracted and replaced by 2B at 0916H. See sketch #7.
The simultaneous sweeps of the Tan
Phong area on the 28th produced several small contacts. However, fire support by
the gunships of the 174th Aviation Company and B/1-9 Cav (airmobile) accounted
for the vast majority of the enemy dead. A prisoner and a Hoi Chanh identified
the enemy unit as the 60th Bn 1st VC Regiment. Undoubtedly, the majority of the
battalion was in the area.
As the 2-35 Inf elements pursued
the enemy, they forced him to break into the clearings and rice paddies. The
rockets and "Mini" gun fire of the armed "Hueys" killed or
wounded all observed enemy. The units on the ground forced the enemy into hiding
to avoid the increasing onslaught. Efforts to capture prisoners failed as the
enemy repeatedly fought to their death. By the end of the day, 87 enemy lay dead
on the battlefield, killed for the most part by the gunships. A/2-35 and C/3-4
Cav swept back to LZ Liz where they provided FSB security. B/2-35, C/1-35 (-),
and Recon/2-35 were re-supplied and assigned the mission of saturation ambush
patrols for the night. Recon/2-35 was placed OPCON B/2-35.
By 2215H, all elements were in
position. B/2-35 with OPCON of Recon occupied four ambush sites at the mouth of
the Song Tra Cau Valley: Recon located vic BS713424; 2B located vic BS712425; B
(-) located vic BS713433; and 3B located vic BS715438. C/1-35 had three ambushes
north of Highway 515 positioned along the road. See sketch #7.
At 29 0240H May 1967, the ambush
of Company B (-), located vicinity BS713433, came under an intense enemy ground
and mortar attack. See sketch #8. Using camouflage and stealth, at least one
enemy company surrounded the ambush position undetected. The enemy initiated the
attack with accurate mortar fire. Efforts to counter the mortar fire with their
own 60mm mortar and the 4.2 mortar platoon from LZ Liz proved useless. The enemy
was using at least two mortars which could not be located. As the mortars were
raining their deadly fire, the enemy began a concentrated ground attack. Captain
Ralph Walker, CO, Company B, although mortally wounded by the initial mortar
attack, rallied his men into a perimeter and requested artillery fire support.
His courage and determination provided the catalyst for the initial defense of
the position and undoubtedly prevented the unit from being overrun. Captain
Walker died forty minutes later. When the unit moved from its linear ambush into
a perimeter, it inadvertently closed around an enemy position. The two enemy
were swiftly killed.
At 0300H, Medivac was requested to
come to LZ Liz where it would remain on alert until the contact area was secure.
At the same time the aircraft commander of the armed AC-47 "Dragon
Ship" reported that he would be in the area of contact at 0320H. Armed
HU-1Cís were on station with a helicopter flare ship and began firing under
the guidance of the 2d platoon leader, who had assumed command. The enemy
continued to fire his mortars although the volume was not as heavy. Efforts to
locate these mortars proved fruitless.
It was later discovered that the
enemy had used a mud hut as a firing pit. A hole two feet in diameter was cut in
the roof through which he fired his rounds. This tactic prevented observation of
the muzzle flash and because of the muffled noise, made it virtually impossible
to determine with accuracy how far away the mortars were.
Meanwhile, the gunships
concentrated their fire on ten enemy in a rice paddy. As the enemy attack
intensified, the men from B Company threw white phosphorus grenades to mark the
proximity of an enemy automatic weapons position. This enabled the armed
helicopters from both the 174th Aviation Company and B/1-9 Cav (airmobile) to
engage the enemy accurately.
At 0325H it was decided to move the rest of B Company and the Reconnaissance
Platoon to reinforce the besieged platoon.
At 0346H, LTC Granger, over the
contact area in his command and control helicopter, decided to commit C/2-35 (-)
in a reinforcing action from the east. All elements, as they moved toward the
point of contact, made light contact which resulted in several more enemy dead.
At 0405H a medevac helicopter
carrying the company executive officer successfully made it into the perimeter
and evacuated three wounded. On its arrival 1LT Russel Chapman assumed command.
The departure of the medevac signaled a renewed enemy attack. At 0410H 1LT
Chapman was wounded in the head, but courageously continued to command.
At 0411H, Recon and lB attempting
to break through the attack from the southwest came under intense automatic
weapons fire. Maneuvering against the position, the reconnaissance platoon
overran it and Captured the Ml919A6 machine gun. This was the last strong effort
made by the enemy to block the relief force.
At 0434H, the enemy tried for the
last time to break through the unitís staunch perimeter. He assaulted in mass
from the east under a murderous barrage of enemy mortar fire. Some of the enemy
broke through the lines and into the perimeter but that was where they died.
Orders were issued that no one would leave their foxholes so that if anyone was
seen moving in the perimeter he would be enemy. The tactic worked.
At 0446H, the contact had
lightened considerably. Medevac was again requested and the helicopter landed in
the LZ amidst suppressive fire from the perimeter. By 0550 all contact had been
broken by the enemy, the casualties had been evacuated and a resupply of
ammunition had been effected.
At 0617H, C/3-4 Cav, with one
platoon of A/2-35, and A/2-35 (-) departed LZ Liz on two separate axes to the
west to sweep the flanks of the contact area to reestablish contact with the
enemy. At 0627H, C/l-35 closed with B/2-35. See sketch #9.
At 0854H, B/1-9 Cav was placed
OPCON 2-35 Inf. The Blue Team conducted a combat assault vic BS694423 and moved
east along, the Song Tra Cau Valley into prepared blocking positions of C/1-35
and C/3-4 Cav at the mouth of the valley floor. A/2-35 swept south and southwest
of the point of contact detaining large numbers of military age males who were
hiding in a Buddhist temple. They also discovered five tons of stored rice in
the same temple. The remaining elements made light contact while flushing the
Viet Cong from bunkers, caves and tunnels.
At 1030H, Company B was extracted
by helicopter and taken to LZ Montezuma where they met their new CO, Captain
Lindsey. At 1800H, A/2-35, C/3-4 Cav, and Recon/2-35 closed to LZ Liz, C/1-35
closed to a night location about 800 meters west-southwest of LZ Liz.
At 30 0930H May 1967, C/1-35
crossed the Song Tra Cau River, the southern AO line, and was returned to the
control of the 1-35 Inf.
Results of the three day contact were as follows:
(1) Friendly casualties:
(2) Enemy losses, personnel:
(3) Enemy losses, weapons:
recoilless rifle l
mortar w/sight 1
rocket launcher 1
RPD LMG 3
M-1, .30 cal 3
M-.2, .30 cal 2