1st BATTALION - 35th INFANTRY
1968 – 70
MESSAGE FROM THE BATTALION COMMANDER
To The Men Of The Fighting Gypsies:
During the past three months as your battalion commander, I have had
the extreme pleasure of working with this proud and vigorous unit. I
have witnessed its operation in all sections and units, from Camp Enari
to our forward areas. After this short, but reflective period, I can say
with great admiration that am glad to have been part of the lst
Battalion, 35th Infantry, especially now as it closes a glorious page in
the history of this country’s fight for freedom.
Our task here has not been easy, conflicts never are. But our record
speaks for itself. From Dakto to Kontum to Chu Pa and back to Pleiku,
this battalion has left behind a spirit that is parallel to the best
units in Vietnam. In past actions, when the going got tough, the men of
the Cacti Green kept the pace and made the grade. That is not only the
key to success in military life, but in civilian too.
This decade of the seventies will call for Leaders of the highest and
most redeeming qualities, those that I find in our young men within this
battalion. With men such as you, I know our country will he steered in
the proper direction. Keep with you that undying spirit you held for
your battalion, your fellow soldiers, and your country. Now let me wish
all of you the very best of luck in your future years and endeavors.
LTC Cliff R. High
CACTI GREEN HISTORY
COLORS GO HOME
On the 10th of April, 1970, 17 men from the 1st Battalion, 35th
Infantry will represent the Third Brigade’s pull-out and de-activation
of the Fighting Gypsies.
The colors of the battalion will leave from Pleiku Air Base by C-141
jet and will fly direct to Fort Lewis, Washington. Upon arrival there,
the 17 men representing the Fighting Gypsies will practice for the
de-activation ceremonies, which will take place April 15, 1970.
The two officers going with the colors are 1st Lt. Charles Barrett
and WO I George Prince. NCO’s will consist of PSG David Eberly, SGT
Nelson Cronkright, SGT Tony Alexander, SGT George Franklin, SGT Gerald
Jelen, SGT Paul Lee, SGT Steven Moore and SGT James Zell. EM’s traveling
with the colors will be SP/4 Eugene Garity, SP/4 Tom Gibson,
SP/4 William Gregroy, SP/4 Harry Hudson, SP/4 Gordon Miller, SP/4 Robert
Runge, and SP/4 Gene Zunker,
IMPRESSIONS OF VIETNAM AND A BATTALION
It doesn’t seem as though a year has passed in Vietnam, and in the
1st Battalion, 35th Infantry. How many of you ever had that thought?
Just about everyone who went home. But can you remember those first
impressions when exiling from that C-123 (C-130 if you were lucky) at
Pleiku from Cam Ranh Bay. You were a new guy then. Loading a Japanese
built bus heading for a place called Camp Enari, home of the Fourth
As soon as you hopped off that plane, grabbed your gear and piled on
that bus, you took a quick look around at the Central Highlands. Several
thoughts filled your mind. Would I make it? Was the enemy close at hand?
When was the last time this place was rocketed? What unit will I be
You rode along the paved highway, seeing perhaps your first
Montagnard villager, holding a cloth wrapped baby. Before you knew it,
the bus had entered base camp, and you were unloading at what was called
"Repo-Depot" and those passing by were yelling ‘SHORT!’
At Repo-Depot, you learned once more, how to zero, your weapon, read
maps, call in artillery, and distinguish various models of helicopters.
Words like ’di-di’ and ‘beaucoup’ became part of your
Then, the big day came, the day you were assigned to the
1st Bn, 35th
Infantry. More than likely, you were picked up in a 2 1/2 ton truck and
driven to the battalion area. Now more processing was in store, this
time with your new company clerk; who would issue you ration cards, and
help plan your R and R.
Once through with processing (remember handing in most of your Ft
Lewis issued clothes’) and receiving your rucksack, it was
out forward. For those going out ‘to the boonies it was perhaps your
first helicopter ride, or the bounciest 2 1/2 ton truck ride in your
life. There would be more.
Jumping off your means of transportation, you were now out in the
boonies; a new guy, more than likely a PFC. You were anxious, yet
nervous, to meet your company commander, your platoon leader, and the
men you would hump, fight, eat, sleep, dig holes, laugh, and sometimes
cry with. They would be your friends for life; for this was life.
From that day you carried out different missions with your company.
You humped in valleys, and over mountains, in dry weather and those
seemingly endless monsoons. You grasp the method of cooking C rations to
perfection, and perhaps created some new meals by mixing meals together,
or with the aid of a package from home.
CACTI GREEN HISTORY
IMPRESSIONS OF VIETNAM AND A BATTALION (Continued)
You remember the times your company come onto a battalion size
firebase, and you hod hot meals and cold drinks, and some time to write
home in the privacy of a bunker. It was also the time to resolve any
problems, request to see a finance clerk or ‘re-up’ clerk or be
asked to make a radio hometown interview with a PlO representative. If
you were real lucky, a visiting USO show would make a one day appearance
As the months passed along, you kept a record of how much time you
had left in Vietnam. Then one day, you would awaken and tell all you
were getting ‘SHORT!’ With it came a sudden overt awareness
for even more security and precaution in your daily life in the field.
That big day finally arrived when the ‘old man’ came up to you,
and with a smile, told you to "Catch the next thing
smoking" into Camp Enari. You were getting too short.
Anxiously, you packed your rucksack, giving some items of value away to
your fellow ‘grunts.’
Somehow, when you jumped on that ‘slick’ and she started to lift
off, blades cutting into the air, and dust and grass blowing around you
gave the ‘V’ sign to your friends on the ground. Now that misty
feeling in your eyes told you. You would never forget those men in the
field, for they were perhaps the best friends you would ever have in
life. And you hated to leave them behind.
AS WE SEE IT
Creating a scrapbook newspaper of the battalion’s history, in
Vietnam, is not a simple task. Old newspapers, records and other
publications had to be found, thoroughly read, and pieces picked out and
edited: Also, memories were put to the test in relation to those events
which were not written or otherwise recorded.
Naturally, the entire operation took time. But we believe it is
definitely worth the effort to present the departing men of the Fighting
Gypsies with a living scrapbook newspaper of their battalion’s history
in Vietnam. It is a proud one, indeed. And this publication is dedicated
to those men who made the Cacti Green a proud unit, the infantrymen who
gave their utmost, some the supreme sacrifice. To those men, this
publication is in your honor.
Sgt. Gerry Ducharme 1/35th PlO
Sgt. Nels Cronkright
1968 - THE YEAR OF HEAVY ACTION - CHARGING CACTI GREEN KILL 45 ENEMY
KONTUM - The 1st Bn, 35th Infantry dealt a punishing blow to North
Vietnamese Army elements west of Kontum last week when sweep maneuvers
by the Ivy force and supporting artillery overpowered the entrenched
enemy soldiers. When the fight was over 45 North Vietnamese soldiers
were dead and dozens wounded.
Plans called for Companies A and D to forge through the jungle,
divide and sweep the base of Landing Zone Mile High, rejoining after
they had circled the hill. Company D would remain behind as a support
The two company sweep netted dozens of NVA mortar rounds and rockets
and hundreds of feet of communication wire.
CACTI GREEN HISTORY
1968 - THE YEAR OF HEAVY ACTION (Continued)
As the companies fanned out into the surrounding jungle, enemy
riflemen cut loose with bursts of automatic weapons fire and mortars.
The Ivymen countered quickly with M16 and M60 machine guns while the 2nd
Bn, 9th Artillery gunners found the range of enemy targets.
Companies A and D regrouped, and forged back against the enemy before
darkness ended the battle. A sweep the next day tabbed 45 enemy bodies
for the action.
CACTI GREEN STOP ENEMY PATROL
KONTUM - July is the traditional month for fireworks, and a Fourth
Division recon patrol, searching for the enemy and arms, recently saw
plenty of them.
The Cacti Green patrol, a part of Company B of the 1st Bn, 35th
Infantry, made contact with a squad of Viet Cong, killing two of the
enemy and wounding four others in the process.
Second platoon of Company B was taking a short break near two cross
trails. One of the squads was checking out one of the trails while the
rest of the platoon was watching the other trail, when the platoon
spotted a squad of six VC coming down toward the reconnect trail. Some
of the VC were wearing black pajamas, others were sporting tiger
The recon element opened fire, killing two VC and wounding four
others. The Fighting Gypsies also policed up two SKS rifles and two
AK-47’s, along with enemy canteens, knives and protective masks.
AWARDS FOR A DESERVING BATTALION
Above are just two stories from the action of 1968. During that year,
awards were presented to a line unit and to some valiant men of the
In December, 1968, Company A received the Presidential Unit Citation
and three men from Company C were awarded the Vietnamese Cross of
Gallantry for actions against the North Vietnamese Army.
EDITOR’S NOTE - 1969 saw a change in the action of the Fighting
Gypsies. Action with the enemy was less frequent, but the battalion was
hurting the enemy more with large bunker and rice caches. Following are
some 1969 stories on these caches and one on a rocket attack on LZ
CACTI GREEN UNITS HUNT ENEMY AT PLEI MEI
In the largest combat assault (CA) of the year, the 1st Bn, 35th
Infantry flew 500 men and support equipment 12 miles south of Landing
Zone (LZ) Oasis for an operation that has led to the discovery of enemy
caches and huts.
Four companies and a command element were lifted by 15 Hueys and 5
Chinooks and was completed within an hour to Plei Mei. Each company was
immediately assigned a search area.
Found during the mission were over three tons of rice, sleeping huts,
and enemy anti-personnel devices.
CACTI GREEN HISTORY
AUGUST MARKS THE MONTH FOR ENEMY BUNKER FINDS
Sixty-six enemy bunkers, including four mess hall bunkers, were
discovered 15 miles northwest of Pleiku. Company A of the Fighting
Gypsies found the bunkers while on a late afternoon sweep.
Surrounding the company sized complex were 40 foxholes of various
sizes. The complex was destroyed before the company moved on.
Twenty five enemy bunkers were found later that month by Company A,
this time 10 miles northeast of LZ Oasis The complex was also complete
with outside kitchen areasand sleeping positions.
Each bunker has two feet of overhead cover Also found at the complex
were ammunition pouches and medicine.
As the month ended Company C found a bunker complex, consisting of 50
positions which had overhead cover and were well camouflaged.
ROCKET ATTACK QUICKLY SILENCED
September - A rocket and mortar attack on Landing Zone Gypsy, home of
the Cacti Green, was quickly silenced by a heavy return of mortar,
artillery and light automatic weapons fire.
Just as dusk was approaching, enemy 82mm rounds were fired at the LZ,
and the 4.2 mortar platoon responded with rounds fired at suspected
enemy positions, along with artillery support from the 2/9th Artillery.
Results were immediate. Seven secondary explosions were reported, and
the bunker line opened up with small arms fire to prevent a ground
The next day, various sweeps netted enemy detainees, one dead Viet
Cong soldier, and fresh bunker positions.