THE BATTLE OF 

VINH HIEN

Because this was a significant action, this account was excerpted from the Operations Report and Lessons Learned for the 2nd Battalion 35th Infantry, period ending 7-31-1967. Both A and C Companies , 2/35th, were heavily involved in the actions laid forth in this account. Actions before and after these dates are contained in the ORLL posted. For lack of a better title, I have named the action The Battle of Vinh Hien, after the hamlet mentioned in the report. (Jim Anderson)

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19 May-20 May 1967

        While in the process of securing an LZ, vic 775457, at 19 1545H May 1967, in preparation for a combat assault in support of C/2-35, in contact to the north, A/2-35 began receiving enemy automatic and small arms fire from three or four enemy positions to their south. The CO, A/2-35, decided, with the concurrence of the Battalion Commander, to attack these enemy positions and to develop the situation. The initial enemy fire wounded one soldier seriously.

        Moving to the south A/2-35 overran the enemy positions, killing two enemy. By 1610H, the enemy had disengaged and had retreated to the southwest. A sweep of the contact area produced an F.M. Radio, medical supplies and several NVA uniforms. They continued the search and then, upon receipt of information of enemy movement to the southwest, began a sweep in that direction.

        At 1735H, A/2-35 again received some small arms fire from the south. Realizing that his company might be led into an enemy ambush, CPT Barcena, CO, A/2-35, requested and received an air observation team from B/1-9 Cav (airmobile) to screen his flanks and front.

        Continuing to move to the south, A/2-35 was fired on at 1830H, from the south. The observation team located the enemy and directed the company along a concealed route to the enemy position. This position was destroyed and two enemy were killed. One Thompson sub-machine gun was captured.

        At 1910H Company A closed for the night, vic BS774455. At 1915H, one VC sniper fired at and wounded one of the companyís rifleman. The VC was killed and his weapon captured. The company dug in and listening posts were put out. The wounded soldier was evacuated.

        At 20 0025H, the CO, A/2-35, reported that his LPís to the northwest and southwest had engaged a total of eight enemy. The LPís threw grenades, detonated their claymores and fired their weapons.

        Two enemy with grenades were killed; the other six fled. The LPís shifted their locations and waited. A sweep was conducted by one of the platoons but they only discovered three blood trails and the two enemy killed. Blood trails indicated three of the enemy were seriously wounded.

        At 0147H, CPT Barcena reported his perimeter under attack by an estimated enemy company. Using existing trench lines that encompassed the entire area, the enemy was able to move undetected to within a few meters of where the LPís had been. The enemy, thinking the LPís were there, threw hand grenades and attacked the empty position. This brief warning enabled the LPís to "ambush" the attackers and move back to their lines.

        By this time artillery defensive concentrations were being fired. Despite the heavy volume of outgoing fire, the enemy pressed forward in a vigorous ground attack. Using "hugging" tactics to avoid the heavy artillery concentrations, the enemy threw a large number of hand grenades in the perimeter. It was these band grenades that inflicted most of the causalities.

        Flare ships and gunships were requested. The Battalion Commander requested an armed AC-47 and AC-47 flareship. By 0222H the enemy had ceased the coordinated ground attack and was engaging A/2-35 on only the northern flank. DUSTOFF, aeromedical evacuation, was alerted to stand by to evacuate the wounded once the area was secured.

        At 0247H, CPT Barcena requested a resupply of ammunition. LTC Granger, realizing that a resupply helicopter would, in all probability, be shot down in the attempt, decided to commit C/3-4 Cav (-); not only to carry the much needed ammunition, but also to block the southern escape route.

        Under the light from the 107mm illuminating rounds, C/3-4 Cav (-) departed LZ LIZ. At 0355H, the armed AC-47 "Dragonship" arrived on station and rained accurate fire on the enemy. The aircraft commander of the AC-47 also guided the APCís along the best route of advance toward the besieged company.

        At 0418H, Co A reported ten WIA and requested medevac for them. By 0427H, Dustoff was overhead and going into the LZ. Receiving enemy AW fire, the helicopter had to pull off, unable to extract any of the WIAís. He flew to LZ LIZ to check his helicopter for damage and to await the time when he could again attempt the extraction.

        C/3-4 Cav closed A/2-35ís perimeter without incident at 0451H. Just prior to the closing, the enemy fired rifle grenades and small arms sporadically throughout the perimeter. Contact was broken on the arrival of the C/3-4 Cav. Additional resupply was requested and the resultant resupply helicopter and DUSTOFF extracted the twelve WIAís and two KIAís. See sketch # 1.

        Between 0630 and 1210H, there was no enemy contact. A/2-35 and C/3-4 Cav conducted an extensive search and sweep of the night area of contact, locating ten enemy killed and three weapons. In addition, one hamlet guerilla was captured. Upon interrogation, it was discovered that he was wounded during the initial probe at 0025H. He observed two others in his group killed.

        At 0900H, A/2-3 5 located a VC bunker complex 100 meters west of their night location. An engineer squad from D Company, 65th Eng. Battalion, was airlifted with explosives to the LZ and was carried by an APC to that location. Elements from both C/3-4 Cav and A/2-35 provided security while the engineers worked on the destruction of the VC. camp and its bunker complex. See sketch # 2

        At 1221H, this work party came under attack by the enemy. Firing RPG-2ís, the enemy hit one of the APCís, killing the track commander and driver. The APC was destroyed. In reinforcing the engineer work party A/2-35 (-) and C/3-4 Cav (-) met heavy enemy resistance, but aggressively fought through it driving them to the southwest.

        At 1341, C/2-35 was alerted to move to a pick-up site where they would be extracted for a combat assault southwest of the contact area. The battalion reconnaissance platoon was alerted to move from LZ LIZ to vic BS768463.

        At 1410 an airstrike helped to break up enemy concentration.

        By 1448, Recon 2-35 Inf was in position and by 1500, C/2-35 (-) had conducted their CA into an LZ vic BS768443.

        While the elements were being moved into position, a FAC spotted twenty armed enemy moving toward the destroyed APC. While the. Battalion Commander adjusted the direct fire of the 1O6RR fire from LZ LIZ, CPT Barcena sent a ground element toward the enemy position and APC. When the troops arrived at the deserted APC they killed two more enemy, one of them inside the track,

        C/2-35 (-) moved from the landing zone to the east linking with A/2-35. By 1 40H, C Company was in contact with a well entrenched enemy southwest of A Company. During a stiff village fight that lasted more than an hour C Company killed twenty-six armed enemy.

        Meanwhile, A Company and C troop 3-4 Cav had turned to the east and were pushing through the southern edge of Vinh Hien (3) toward Highway #1.

        After C Company had evacuated their wounded and dead, they moved into the northern part. of Vinh Hien (3), paralleling A Companyís route of movement. Just inside the hamlet, C Company encountered another entrenched enemy element. Helicopter rockets and small unit tactics eventually overcame the remaining VC force, and C Company reached the eastern edge of the hamlet at 1950 hours. A Company and C Company established a combined perimeter in the paddy area east of the hamlet. See sketch # 2.

        C/3-4 Cav had begun a sweep back toward the blocking position of the recon platoon. At 2015H, Recon/2-35 and C/3-4 (-) closed LZ LIZ to provide FSB security. There were no further incidents that night.

        An armed AC-47 "Dragon Ship" reported on station at 2015 and his fires were directed by CPT Lanning. Artillery was fired into the hamlet throughout the night to deny the enemy access to the remnants of the battle area.

        At 21 0620H, the two companies began a systematic search of the hamlet and other areas of contact. In addition, before the village was destroyed each and every bunker, spider hole, and hut, was methodically searched for signs of the enemy. By the time the hamlet had been razed, all enemy material had been evacuated or destroyed One ton of explosives was used to destroy the complex.

    1. Results:

        1. Friendly Losses

            a. KIA 5

            b. WIA 24

        2. Enemy Losses-Personnel

            a. KIA 89

            b. CIA 3

            c. Detained (suspects) 12

        3. Enemy Losses

            a. weapons 47

            b. Mixed ammunition 10,000 rds.

            c. Rice 1,000 lbs.

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