CALENDAR YEAR 1967
1ST BATTALION 35TH
INFANTRY (THE CACTI)
3RD BRIGADE, 4TH
APO SAN FRANCISCO 96355
WILLIAM W. TAYLOR JR.
The 1967 historical supplement of the Cacti Green is
presented with the hope that it may be of some service to those charged
with the responsibility for development of tactical doctrine and troop
training programs, and also with a view toward helping to perpetuate the
battalion's proud record among past, present and future members.
An effort was made in the Training and Operations
portion of the supplement to present the material in the most readable
and understandable manner while highlighting certain actions which
demonstrate the successful application of tactics or problems peculiar
to fighting in Vietnam. Thus, the action at Hoa Tan describes the
successful employment of the "hammer and anvil" tactic, Dien
Truong points out the hazards faced by the overzealous company commander
who attempts the envelopment of a fortified village with his unit, while
the episode of "Charging Charlies" reaffirms the effectiveness
- under the proper conditions - of the traditional infantry assault, and
The fighting in Vietnam continues to bear out the
validity of the nine principles of war, albeit the techniques of their
application have in some cases altered radically. Particularly inviolate
is the cardinal rule of strategy, "Be stronger at the decisive
point"! The enemy understands this perfectly and devotes constant
effort and no small amount of skill to achieve this end, much to the
occasional chagrin of the small unit leader.
History is basically the story of people and their
actions. So here follows the story of the men of the Cacti Green - their
moments of glory, and some of tribulation-in 1967.
WILLIAM W. TAYlOR JR.
APC - Armored Personnel Carrier
ARVN - Army of the Republic of Vietnam
FAC - Forward Air Controller
G.O. - General Orders
LAW - Light Antitank Weapon
LRRP - Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol
LZ - Landing Zone
MEDCAP - Medical Civic Action Program
NVA - North Vietnamese Army (also known as PAVN,
People's Army of Vietnam)
TOE - Table of Organization and Equipment
USARPAC - United States Army Pacific
ORGANIZATION AND ADMINISTRATION
To close with the enemy by means of fire and maneuver in
order to destroy or capture him or to repel his assault by fire, close
combat and counterattack.
Headquarters and Headquarters Company
TOE 7-16E *
TOE 7-18E *
Combat Support Company
TOE 7-l78T *
*Modified by USARPAC G.O. 18, dtd 13 Jan 68.
Significant changes in battalion organization: On 10
September 1967, one additional rifle company (D) and a combat support
company (E) were activated under the provisions of USARPAC G.O. 149.
Average strength of the battalion fluctuated between 700
and 750 men during the first three quarters of 1967. The battalion
average strength for the final quarter was 854 due to the activation of
an additional rifle company and the formation of the combat support
company: Company strength throughout the year for all rifle companies
averaged 150 men,
The most significant personnel realignment of the year
came with the activation of a fourth Rifle Company (along with the
combat Support Company) on 10 September. This afforded the battalion
commander more flexibility in the planning and conduct of operations.
ROSTER OF COMMANDERS AND
PRINCIPAL STAFF OFFICERS
LTC ROBERT C. KINGSTION, Jan-Feb
MAJ ROBERT M. DRUDICK, Jan-Jul
MAJ James E. MOORE JR., Feb-3 Aug
MAJ HENRY DOCTOR JR., Aug-Dec
LTC ROBERT G. KIMMEL, 4 Aug-14 Nov
LTC WILLIAM W. TAYLOR JR., l5 Nov-3l Dec
1LT WILLIAM M. DALEHITE JR., Jan-Jul
CPT JAMES A. BURR, Jan-Sep
CPT DONALD R. PARRISH JR., Aug-Nov
1LT GLENN R. BOWMAN Aug-Nov
1LT ROGER G. LADD Nov-Dec
1LT ANTON BLOEMHARD Dec
MAJ GAROLD L. TIPPIN, Jam-Sep
CPT WILLAM A. BAKER Jan-Jul
MAJ GERALD M. WYNN Oct-Nov
CPT JAMES H. BRAGG Aug-Oct
MAJ JOHN A. JOYCE, Dec
CPT WOLFGANG BOETTCHER Nov-Dec
CPT MARTIN P. KELLY Jan-Aug
CPT LINWOOD P. KNIGHT JR., Jan-Feb
1LT DAVID W. CLARK, Aug-Dec
CPT LLOYD YOSHINA, Feb-Aug
CPT GEOFFREY D. ELLERSON Aug-Oct
CPT CHARLES W. CHAPLINSKI, Oct-Dec
CPT EDGAR L. NEALON, Jan-Mar
CPT JOSEPH CAUDILLO Jan-May
CPT KENNETH I. BARTON, Mar-Jul
CPT JOHN H. CAVENDER May-Aug
CPT WILLIAM A. BAKER, Aug-Nov
CPT DAVID R. COLLINS, Sep-Dec
CPT DONALD C. REH, Nov-Dec
CPT WOLFGANG BOETTCHER, Sep
CPT JOHN K. TERRY, Sep-Dec
CPT GEORGE C. D'AVIGNON, Oct-Dec
*Companies D & E not activated until 10 September.
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF BATTALION
Note: Detailed biographical data on former commanders
was not available at this headquarters at date of preparation.
l. LTC ROBERT C. KINGSTON JR. source of commission, USMA
2. MAJ JAMES E. MOORS JR. of commission, USMA – ‘52
3. LTC ROBERT G. KIMPL source at commission, USMA –‘52
4. LTC WILLIAM W. TAYLOR JR., LTC Taylor was born in
Richmond, Va. on 20, Jan. 1925. He entered the army in 1943 and served
in World War II as an enlisted man with the 95th Inf Div. Received a
direct commission as 2LT, Infantry on 9 May 51, and served with the 45th
Inf Div in Korea. LTC Taylor has had a broad background of infantry
assignments, having served in all command positions through battalion
level and as battalion S-3 battalion XO, and brigade XO. Prior to his
present tour in Vietnam, LTC Taylor served three years with the Infantry
Branch, Officer Personnel Directorate. He is a 1964 graduate of the Army
Command and General Staff College.
Throughout the year a policy was scrupulously followed
of allowing each company several days of "stand-down" time
each month as the tactical situation warranted This enabled the company
commander to concentrate on such areas as supply procedures, property
accountability, unit administration, maintenance of equipment, formal
training sessions and funds management. These stand-downs also provided
the unit with a needed psychological break from the routine of daily
TRAINING & OPERATIONS
CIVIC ACTION & PUBLIC
The battalion attempted to integrate civil affairs
activities into combat operations whenever possible in addition to
maintaining a separate civil affairs pro gram.
During the route security operations on Highway 19, sick
calls were frequently held at villages along the route and soap
distribution was also made. This program probably directly influenced
the low number of sniping incidents which occurred along the battalion's
assigned sector of Highway #19.
During Operation Thayer II the battalion medical section
worked actively in the villages around Phu Cat. In the village of Phu
Diem a particularly effective civic action project was completed. During
the daily sick calls held at the village by the battalion MEDCAP team it
was noted that the village had no readily accessible water supply. To
obtain water for their daily needs the villagers had to travel one mile
to the nearest source. A team from the battalion began working with the
villagers on a well digging project. The job took two months and
required some fifty feet of digging before water was reached, but the
project had a significant impact. on the villagers.
While the battalion was in the Duc Pho area the
battalion surgeon and medical section worked closely with Vietnamese
health workers in the local hospital. The surgeon made daily rounds of
the fifty to seventy in-patients at the hospital. Battalion personnel
also instituted a program of English classes in the Duc Pho high school
which were extremely well received.
When the battalion moved to its forward fire base at LZ
Baldy in November for Operation Wallowa, the civic action program in
that area was considerably reduced due to the unsettled tactical
situation. However, various civic action activities were continued in
the trains area at Duc Pho. On the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays
some 30 children from the Rod Orphanage in Duc Pho were guests of the
battalion at a special meal in the field trains mess.
All during 1967 the battalion treated over 6,000
civilians during MEDCAPs, assisted in the movement of more than 1,600
refugees to secure areas and turned over some 150 tons of captured rice
to GVN officials to be used for refugee relief.
Training & Operations
New Year's Day found the Cacti Green at the Base Camp of
the 4th Infantry Division at Pleiku. The battalion was in the final
stages of a route clearance and read security mission along twenty miles
of Highway #19 running east from Pleiku. This area included the ominous
Mang Yang Pass, site of the destruction of French Group Mobile 100 some
thirteen years earlier during the Indochina War. However, aggressive
patrolling by the battalion north and south of the highway kept the area
well cleared of the enemy and limited action to scattered incidents of
sniper fire in the Mang Yang Pass.
On 3 January the battalion was airlifted to an area of
operations eleven kilometers southwest of Phu My in central Binh Dinh
Province to join Operation Thayer II. The battalion launched numerous
search and destroy operations and made frequent use of ambushes and
blocking positions. Two Viet Cong battalions, one a main force unit,
were known to be operating throughout the area. Engagements during this
period were characterized by small unit contacts involving a squad or
less of the enemy. Scattered throughout the area were numerous cave and
tunnel complexes utilized extensively by the enemy. Frequently, liberal
applications of irritant CS gas and white phosphorous grenades were
required to induce the enemy to quit these lairs.
On 11 February the battalion moved to LZ Uplift, ten
kilometers north of Phu My, to participate in Operation Pershing. During
the following eleven weeks units of the battalion conducted operations
in the rugged hill mass known as Nui Mieu lying east of LZ Uplift about
midway between Highway 1 and the seacoast. During this period emphasis
was placed on joint US-ARVN operations. Some fifteen coordinated search
and destroy operations were conducted with the 40th and. 41st ARVN
Regiments by the Cacti Green. In March the battalion conducted long
range reconnaissance patrol (LRRP) training for selected men from each
company. The "LRRP School," with emphasis on advanced
techniques of patrolling, reconnaissance and small unit tactics sought
to provide each company with a nucleus of experts in reconnaissance and
The morning of March 6 began as another day of routine
operations for units of the battalion. Alfa and Bravo companies were
conducting a village search at Chua Trieu Son located about ten
kilometers north-northeast of LZ Uplift. Charlie Company started the day
under the operational control of' the Commanding Officer of' the 1st Bn,
14th Infantry conducting search and destroy operations in the area south
of LZ Uplift. But events were already taking place in Hoa Tan, a small
village located about four kilometers to the northeast of' Chua Trieu
Son, which set the stage for one of the 1/35th's more resounding
victories of the year. A "Blue Team" (infantry platoon
reaction force) from the 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry was lifted into
position on a small rise about 200 meters southeast of Hoa Tan. At about
0735 hours after a gunship from Charlie Troop 1/9th Cav had been downed
fifty minutes earlier by heavy automatic weapons fire emanating from Hoa
Tan. The Blue Team immediately became heavily engaged with an enemy
force occupying bunkers on the eastern outskirts of the village. At 1030
hours, one platoon of Alfa Company 2/5th Cavalry was lifted to a
blocking position on a hill some 600 meters north of Hoa Tan.
Immediately on landing the platoon came under automatic weapons fire
from the village and suffered one casualty. Major James E. Moore Jr.,
Commander of the Cacti Green, was directed to divert Alfa and Bravo
Companies from their village search operation at 1045 hours and move
them to Hoa Tan. The remainder of Alpha Company 2/5th Cav was lifted
into positions north of Hoa Tan by 1130 hours. Throughout this period
sporadic contact had been maintained by the Blue Team and several
gunship strikes were called in on the enemy bunker positions.
By 1130 hours, Alpha and Bravo Companies wore moving by
foot northeast toward Hoa Tan. One platoon from Alpha Company was
dispatched to LZ Anchor, about two kilometers northwest of Chua Trieu-Son,
to secure the area so that Alpha Battery 2/9th Artillery (105mm
Howitzer) could be lifted from Uplift to Anchor.
At 1300 hours Bravo Company, moving up the road, had
reached a point some 500 meters south of Hoa Tan. Here Capt. Edgar L.
Nealon, commanding Bravo Company, split his force. The 1st and 3d
platoons maneuvered initially to the southeast, then north to come up on
the small rise where the Blue Team still held. There they would block
any attempted enemy withdrawal to the east. The remainder of Bravo
Company punched north toward Hoa Tan proper. Capt. Linwood P. Knight
Jr., commanding Alpha Company moved his force to the northwest, then
east through a saddle on the hills about 1500 meters west of Hoa Tan.
Alpha Company then occupied blocking positions along the high ground
covering possible escape routes to the south and west of Hoa Tan.
At 1330 hours Major Moore assumed operational control of
all forces in the area The Blue Team was extracted and placed in
As the 1st and 3d platoons of Bravo Company moved down
the narrow ridge line toward the village, they came under withering
automatic weapons fire from the firmly entrenched enemy The force
withdrew 500 meters and called for further gunship strikes. Meanwhile
CPT Nealon attacked Hoa Tan with the remainder of his Company on two
axes, to the west and east of the north south road running through the
village As they entered the village the fighting increased sharply
Fighting from well-concealed spider holes and heavy bunkers, the enemy
put up a tenacious defense. Bravo Company pushed on, fighting for every
At 1545 hours, Charlie Company having been released from
operational control of the 1/14th Infantry was lifted into a landing
zone five kilometers north of Hoa Tan. The Company immediately moved to
occupy blocking positions along the Bo Hop ridgeline which commanded its
the north and northeast escape routes three kilometers north of Hoa Tan.
Bravo company 2/5th Cavalry was lifted into a blocking position two
kilometers to the northwest of the village while the Blue Team was
inserted two kilometers north of Hoa Tan, blocking the road from the
high ground Both units were placed under the operational control of the
By 1600 hours Alpha Company’s blocking force was in
position and the Howitzer Battery was set up on LZ Anchor. Blocking
fires were called in north of Alpha Company 's position.
At 1630 hours Capt. Nealon was wounded and evacuated.
The Bravo Company force fighting in Hoa Tan was still heavily engaged at
close quarters. Casualties were mounting and their ammunition supplies
began to dwindle. Bravo Company (-) withdrew and consolidated in
positions along the road to the east of Hoa Tan to permit the evacuation
of wounded and ammunition re-supply. The 1st and 3d platoons of Bravo
Company moved about 100 meters south to link up with the remainder of
the company. At 1800 hours Major Moore instructed Bravo Company to break
contact and withdraw to two major blocking positions to the east and
west of the road, about 500 meters south of the village. Throughout the
night heavy fire was placed on the village and along possible escape
routes by the supporting artillery.
At 0800 hours the following morning after a heavy
artillery preparation, Bravo Company attacked north on two axes, while
Alpha Company moved down to the low ground just west of Hoa Tan to
afford better fire support. Bravo Company met only light resistance. The
village was quickly seized. The battle for Hoa Tan was over.
The battle had been waged against the 3d, 4th and
Weapons Companies of the 9th Bn, 18th Reg - a unit of the 3d NVA (
Yellow Star) Division. The lopsided victory cost the enemy eighty-four
men killed and twenty crew-served and individual weapons captured. US
losses were eight killed and fifteen wounded. The men of Bravo Company
were wearing armored vests on the day of the battle. This resulted in
the saving of' at least five lives.
The timely application of battlefield mobility and
employment of supporting fires in this engagement coupled with the
hard-hitting punch of the rifle company in the assault produced a
notable victory in this classic example of' the "hammer and
On 20 April, the battalion moved north some forty miles
to the Duc Pho area of southern Quang Ngai Province to beacon one of the
units comprising Task Force Oregon. Operations in the Duo Pho area soon
came to be characterized by vicious, close-in fighting frequently in
fortified villages. Prior to the entry of' Task Force Oregon units into
the area, the enemy had never met any serious sustained opposition and
he controlled over eighty percent of the area, It soon became evident
that the enemy here was much more willing to stay and fight from his
carefully prepared fortifications. Many of these were constructed,
sturdily enough to withstand a direct hit from a 155mm howitzer. As if
anxious to test this "new unit" the enemy initiated a fierce
engagement from within the fortified village of Thiep Son on 22 April.
The Cacti Green was tried and not found wanting as the men of Charlie
and Bravo Companies and the Reconnaissance Platoon wrested the village
from the enemy on 23 April with the support of artillery and air
strikes. Subsequently Bravo Company destroyed twenty-two bunkers in
Thiep Son, all having overhead cover from three to five feet thick The
battle cost the enemy forty-seven dead while the battalion lost five men
Training during this period focused on artillery forward
observer skills. A three day class was initiated and conducted by the
artillery liaison officer. Fire mission requests and adjustment of
artillery were stressed. Two men from each company received this
training. A system was devised of rotating all rifle platoons through a
3-1/2 day training cycle at LZ Montezuma. Emphasis was placed on rifle
marksmanship, battle drill, ambushes, patrolling, mines and bobby traps
and map reading.
The dew still lay on the grass as the men of Alpha
Company jumped off at 0600 hours on the morning of 22 May. Capt. Lloyd
N. Yoshina's men were moving on the village of Dien Truong, located to
the east of Highway 1, seventeen kilometers southeast of Duc Pho. As the
company approached the village from west they came under persistent
automatic weapons fire from the village. CPT Yoshina decided to have his
1st and 2d platoons maneuver in a wide arc to the northeast to envelop
Dien Truong from the north. However this plan came to naught as both
platoons came under intense fire and their attack stalled in the open
rice paddies north of the village. In an attempt to relieve the pressure
on those platoons, the company commander moved with his 3d Platoon
across Highway 1 and gained the outskirts of the village, there to be
stopped by withering enemy fire from the many bunkers throughout the
village. By 0830 hours all elements of Alpha Company were pinned down.
They were to remain so for the better part of the next four hours.
With the support of gunship strikes, Alpha Company
slowly began to extricate itself from its precarious position. Meanwhile
artillery began pounding the village and two air strikes were called in
on the hill mass to the northeast of Dien Truong. Major Moore alerted
Capt. Kenneth I. Barton to prepare his Bravo Company for a combat
assault onto the high ground south of the village to further relieve the
pressure on embattled Alpha. Bravo Company was lifted in to the area on
the southern hill slope without incident at 0950 hours. The company
immediately attacked to their northwest; as they entered the southern
portion of Dien Truong they also became heavily engaged.
Between 1500 and 1600 hours four air strikes were called
in on the northwest sector of the village. By this time Alpha Company
had broken contact and withdrawn to the west of the village where they
established a blocking position with three platoons on line. The FAC
controlling the air strikes reported observing thirty-three enemy bodies
within the village.
At 1730 hours Bravo Company 2/35th infantry came under
the operational control of Major Moore. At 1815 hours, he had them
lifted into the same area where Bravo Company or the Cacti green landed
earlier. Bravo 2/35th immediately maneuvered to take up positions on the
flank of Bravo 1/35th.
1900 hours, Capt. John C. Cavender's Charlie Company was
lifted into the area minus one platoon used for battalion fire base
security. Charlie Company occupied blocking positions along the
southeast sector of the village, tying in with Bravo 2/35th's right
Darkness found Dien Truong ringed to the west and south
by four rifle companies. Continuous illumination and artillery and
gunship strikes covered the open ground to the north of the village
while a platoon of tanks on the eastern shore of An Khe Lake laid down
heavy blocking fires on the eastern edge of the village.
The following morning, behind three air strikes and a
smoke screen, Alpha and Bravo Company joined in the final assault of
Dien Truong. They met minor resistance throughout the morning and by
1500 hours the village complex was occupied. The thirty-two hour battle
resulted in eighty-seven enemy killed and forty-nine weapons captured.
Diem Truong served as a warning to all commanders of the threat posed to
a single rifle company in attempting to engage single-hand an enemy
force fighting from a fortified village with every intention of staying.
The lesson was not lost.
Throughout June and into July the battalion continued
operations aimed at clearing the enemy out of the Duc Pho area and
preventing his re-supply parties from keeping his forces in the
mountainous area west and south of Due Pho provisioned. Small unit
actions and ambushes were used extensively. As the summer wore on the
mercury shot up and stayed there. Temperatures in excess of 100 degrees
were the norm.
CHARGING CHARLIES CHARGE
On 15 July, Capt. Cavender and his Charlie Company were
operating in the rugged terrain fifteen kilometers southwest of Duc Pho.
The area is characterized by steep hills, the slopes of which are
covered with thick jungle under-growth. In most places a double canopy
completely shuts out the sun. Charlie Company had been working the area
for two days, acting on an intelligence report that an NVA battalion was
operating in the area. The temperature was an energy sapping 105
Charlie Company was moving south along two axes. The 2d
and 3d platoons were on a high ridge line with the company minus moving
parallel in the valley below. At 1035 hours the 2d platoon under 2LT
Anthony M. Hassa came upon an enemy bunker from the rear. Surprised and
unable to fight effectively since the bunker was oriented to fire down
the slope, the three enemy soldiers inside bolted and were killed by the
platoon. All had been armed. The two platoons continued their cautious
movement down the slope. Suddenly the whole area erupted in a blaze of
fire - the enemy had allowed the point squad to come within twenty
meters of the well-camouflaged bunkers before engaging them. According
to PSG Jack H. Jasper, 2d platoon sergeant, "The fire was so
intense that no one could move - if he did he was hit." The platoon
suffered nine wounded in the first minutes, but managed to gain fire
superiority over the enemy, firing their M-16s, machine guns, and
sixteen LAW's (Light Antitank Weapon).
Meanwhile the 3d platoon was maneuvering to the left in
an attempt to flank the enemy positions. However they soon became
heavily engaged also. 2LT James H. Smith, 3d platoon leader, was hit
twice leading an assault on one of the bunkers In just one of the many
acts of valor performed by Cacti Green medics that day, SP4 Lawrence W.
Ireland, the 3d platoon medic, braved enemy f ire to carry his wounded
platoon leader back to a covered position where his wounds could be
By 1200 hours, Capt. Cavender was maneuvering his 1st
and 4th platoons up the ridge in an attempt to close the pincer on the
enemy. Their forward progress was greatly hampered by the dense foliage.
Two squads from the 1st platoon were detached and sent to a small knob
to the east of the enemy position as a blocking force to the north of
the enemy. While moving forward to reconnoiter the enemy positions a
squad from the 1st platoon came under heavy automatic weapons fire from
previously undetected bunkers, resulting in several casualties.
At 1230 hours a squad from the 2d platoon pulled back
100 meters to clear a landing zone for an ammunition re-supply and the
evacuation of wounded.
The 3d platoon maneuvered into position to employ their
LAWs, and knocked out the bunkers to their immediate front. But now the
platoon was receiving heavy fire from further to their east. Due to
distance at which the battle had been joined and the dense overhead
foliage, the employment of supporting artillery and gunship fires was
By 1400 hours the disposition of Charlie Company was, 2d
and 3d platoons to the west of the enemy positions, 2 squads of the 1st
platoon on the knob to the enemy's east. The remainder of the 1st
platoon with the 4th platoon and company command group to the north. The
gap to the south was effectively covered by fire from the two squads on
the eastern knob
Charlie Company now concentrated on neutralizing the
remaining bunkers with LAWs and a 90mm recoilless rifle, but the dense
vegetation hampered the effort. The company continued to take casualties
and had suffered seven teen wounded by this time. Capt. Cavender decided
to take the bunkers with a frontal assault. At 1600 hours, using the 2d
and 3d platoons to put down a base of fire Cavender led his remaining
force in the final assault. The infantry line rose as one. They stormed
the enemy bunkers in frenzy, shouting and screaming at the top of their
lungs. So violent was the attack that some of the enemy broke and
attempted to flee while others wore found cowering in their positions.
Using grenades and heavy fire the men soon took their objective losing
only one man during the final rush. The position consisted of five large
bunkers arranged in a circle. In and around the bunkers were found
twenty-five enemy bodies along with fifteen weapons. After the battle
Capt. Cavender said, "The longer we stayed where we were, the more
casualties we were taking. I have never seen enemy fire so accurate. It
seemed like every time a man moved he was hit. We were too close for
artillery and air, and we couldn't pull back without taking a lot of
casualties. Charlie was surprised when we charged. Once we started our
assault I knew that it would soon be over, and victory was ours."
This action by Charlie Company bears testimony to the
fact that, even denied the use of his heavy supporting fires, the
well-trained, aggressive American infantryman is more than a match for
The battalion continued to participate in Operation
Baker until 4 October. Action during August and September continued to
be on the small scale order, with numerous village sweeps and ambushes
being conducted However, the enemy never ventured another sizable
encounter with the battalion. By the time the Cacti Green departed Duc
Pho on 4 October to join Operation Wheeler in Tam Ky (southern Quang Nan
Province) the Viet Cong yoke on Duc Pho had been broken.
During Operation Wheeler (4 Oct - 3 Nov) the battalion
was under the operational control of the 1st Bde. 101st Abn Div.
Operating from LZ Marylou, the companies conducted extensive search and
destroy operations, sweeps and ambushes. On 9 - 10 October, Alfa Company
encountered several squad size elements three kilometers northwest of LZ
Marylou. In the ensuing fight twenty-four enemy were killed, while
elements of two platoons of Alpha Company were hard hit in an ambush,
losing eight men killed and ten wounded. On 20 October a small measure
of vengeance was extracted when the Reconnaissance Platoon killed an NVA
officer armed with a CAR-15, which had been taken from a lieutenant
killed in the 10 October action.
On 4 November the battalion left the Tam Ky area,
jumping north twenty- five miles to LZ Baldy, near Hoi An. For the
remainder of the year the Cacti Green participated in Operation Wallowa
under operational control of the Commanding Officer, 3d Brigade, 1st
Cavalry Division (Airmobile). Major contacts with the enemy during the
Operation Wallowa action were with elements of the 2d NVA Division.
These contacts were characterized by sharp, relatively short battles in
which the enemy permitted US troops to advance to within very short
distances of their concealed positions before initiating action. Such
tactics frequently gave the enemy the initial advantage of surprise and
effectively limited our use of supporting fires. Operations conducted in
the new area of operations included night patrols, ambushes and searches
and destroy operations.
On the morning of 9 November Alpha Company, under Capt.
Charles W. Chaplinski Jr., was advancing toward the village of Thon Hai
about twenty-one kilometers southwest of LZ Baldy aboard armored
personnel carriers of Bravo Troop 1st Squadron, 1st Armored Cavalry
Regiment. Suddenly the column was taken under heavy recoilless rifle,
mortar and automatic weapons fire from the village. Two of the APC's
were destroyed almost immediately. Dismounting his men, Capt. Chaplinski
deployed his company and the supporting APC’s on a broad front to the
northeast of Thon Hai.
At this juncture LTC Robert G. Kimmel, battalion
commander, instructed the commander of Bravo Company, Capt. Donald C.
Reh, to move his unit to an area southeast or the village and set up a
blocking position. Bravo Company was located about 350 meters from the
outskirts of the village; during this maneuver the company received
sniper fire and sustained a few casualties.
At this time Alpha Company with Bravo Troop 1/14 Cav in
support attempted to move against the enemy positions, but was held up
by intense enemy fire
During the afternoon LTC Kimmel instructed Alpha Company
and Bravo Troop to pull back while air strikes were brought in on the
enemy positions. While these were in progress, Charlie Company, 2/12th
Cavalry was lifted into the area and established a blocking position on
the high ground to the south of the village.
Alpha Company along with Bravo Troop remained under
enemy fire until darkness fell. During the night blocking fires and
flair ships were employed extensively to interdict enemy escape routes.
At dawn on 10 November, Charlie Company 2/12 Cavalry
swept the enemy positions meeting no resistance. Enemy casualties were
thirty-eight killed. Two 75mm recoilless rifles were destroyed and a
third was captured along with an RPG-2 rocket launcher.
Throughout this period units received training as they
rotated through periodic "stand-downs" and such activities as
zeroing of individual weapons, classes on artillery forward observer
procedures, ambushes and patrolling, and mines and booby traps. Also
during these periods the battalion S2 and S3 gave comprehensive
briefings on the intelligence and operations situations to key unit
On the morning of 14 November tragedy struck as the
battalion command and control helicopter was shot down by enemy ground
fire enroute to Alpha Company’s location fifteen miles southwest of LZ
Badly. Everyone aboard the ship was killed in the crash, including the
battalion commander, S3, liaison officer and artillery liaison officer.
The battalion was placed under the operational control of the commanding
officer 2/12th Cavalry.
On the 15th of November LTC William W. Taylor Jr., a
combat veteran of two wars arrived to take charge and it was back to
business as usual for the men of the Cacti Green.
THE ELUSIVE FOE
On 27 November the enemy graphically demonstrated his
vaunted ability to find and slip through any opening left uncovered in
an encirclement. The action that day had developed with Alpha Company
running into stiff opposition from a well dug-in enemy force about
seventeen kilometers southwest of LZ Baldy. Since Capt. David R. Collins’
Charlie Company had also combat assaulted into the same area, LTC Taylor
instructed Capt. Collins to try to flank the enemy position. Charlie
Company completed this maneuver but was unable to sweep the enemy
positions because of heavy automatic weapons fire. Just before darkness,
Bravo Company 1/7th Cavalry, under operational control of the battalion
commander, moved to occupy a blocking position on the enemy's other
flank. As darkness fell it appeared the enemy was boxed in, with Alfa
Company to the north and west, Charlie Company to the south and Bravo
Company 1/7th Cav on the east. However, Alfa Company had lost radio
communication with a nine-man element on their extreme left flank.
During the night illumination was kept on the enemy positions, but
blocking fires were not employed because of the unknown status of the
missing Alfa Company men. Under the cover of darkness, the NVA troops
slipped away throughout the unguarded sector where the cut off element
was located. When the group was recovered the following morning, one of
the men reported witnessing forty-one enemy troops slip out of their
positions and disappear past him, into the night
On 2 December the battalion engaged in a joint operation
with the navy in conducting a broad sweep of an area from approximately
seven kilometers inland out to the coast. A Navy swift boat blocked the
coast and forced back all small craft attempting to flee from the area
so that identification checks of their occupants could be conducted by
the infantrymen on the shore. The operation resulted in twenty enemy
killed and documents and medical supplies uncovered with our losses
being six men wounded
NO SUPPER FOR CHARLIE TONIGHT
One of the year's more spectacular actions began as a
routine mission for Bravo Company. On the morning of 9 December, Capt.
Reh and his company were lifted into an area about six kilometers
northwest of LZ Badly on a search and destroy mission. Almost
immediately they spotted five enemy soldiers attempting to flee.
Gunships were called in and killed the five. At the same time scout
helicopters from the 1/9th Cavalry spotted a large enemy concentration
attempting to escape the area along a stream bed to the northwest. Bravo
Company was instructed to pursue the force up the stream bed. More
gunships were called in and commenced strafing runs along the stream
bed, killing large numbers off the fleeing enemy. Bravo Company kept the
pressure on the enemy, occasionally receiving small arms fire from
scattered pockets of resistance which were quickly neutralized.
At noon, Capt. Chaplinski's Alfa Company was alerted for
a combat assault in an area about three kilometers northwest of Bravo
Company. Their mission was to establish a blocking force along the
stream and then to sweep to the southeast along both sides of the stream
to effect a link up with Bravo Company. Alfa landed at 1315 hours and
proceeded according to plan, killing six enemy in their advance.
The two units made contact later in the afternoon. All,
the while the companies were advancing toward each other, gunships
engaged the remaining enemy between them. When the action terminated
seventy-six enemy had been killed by the gunships and sixteen more by
the companies at a cost of one US soldier wounded. Ten enemy were also
From interrogation of the prisoners it was learned that
the gathering had been a rice distribution meeting with representatives
from various NVA and VC units in attendance to pick up their ration. The
initial assault of Bravo Company caught them completely by surprise. The
relatively open terrain and the enemy's channeled escape route made them
easy prey for the gunships and two rifle companies employed.
The remainder of 1967 saw a continuation of combat
operations in the vicinity of LZ Baldy. The battalion enjoyed a brief
respite during the Christmas truce as they prepared to begin a new year.
The men of the 1st Battalion, 35th Infantry can look
back with pride on their record during 1967. The year saw the battalion
displace over two hundred miles, fighting from the central highlands of
Pleiku to the coastal plain from Phu Cat to Hoi An. The battalion
successfully coped with all the problems peculiar to the Vietnam
fighting - monsoon rains, searing heat, and maintenance of a high state
of combat readiness in units faced with a continuous integration of
replacement personnel and perennial shortages of experienced leaders. In
the final analysis, the performance of an infantry unit in Vietnam is
judged by the number of enemy killed in relation to its own losses. In
1967 men of the Cacti Green killed 1019 enemy while losing 113 of their
own. Three hundred members of the battalion were recommended for awards
for valor during the year, including sixty - one for the Silver Star,
three for the Distinguished Service Cross, and one for the Congressional
Medal of Honor.
Their record speaks for itself.
Operational Report for Quarterly Period Ending 31
January 1967. Headquarters, 1st Battalion 35th Infantry, APO San
Francisco 96355, 31. January 1967.
Operational Report for Quarterly Period Ending 30
April 1967. Headquarters,
1st Battalion 35th Infantry, APO San Francisco 96355, 3, May 1967.
Operational Report for Quarterly Period Ending 31
July 1967. Headquarters,
1st Battalion 35th Infantry, APO San Francisco 96355, 3 August 1967.
Operational Report for Quarterly Period Ending 31
October 1967. Headquarters,
1st Battalion 35th Infantry, APO San Francisco 96355, 31 October 1967.
Operational Report of Lessons Learned for Quarterly
Period 1 Nov 67 – 31, Jan 68. Headquarters,
1st Battalion 35th Infantry, APO San Francisco 96355, 2 February 1968.
Report of Unit Engagements at Close Range.
Headquarters, 1st Battalion 35th Infantry, APO
San Francisco 96355, 17 April 1967,
TIPPIN, MAJ GAROLD L., Charging Charlie’s Charge.
Headquarters, 1st Battalion 35th Infantry, APO San Francisco 96355, 15
TIPPIN, MAJ GAROLD L., Lessons Learned Vietnam
1966-1967 Headquarters, 1st Battalion 35th Infantry, APO San
Francisco 96355, 1967.