13 June 1969

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Red Base Stormed By Cacti

By Sgt Michael Tousey

Highlander Heights – The Reconnaissance Platoon of the 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry, with the support of Alpha and Charlie Companies, airstrikes, gunships, and artillery, routed an estimated North Vietnamese Army (NVA) company from a bunker complex ten miles south of Kontum City, killing five of the enemy.

Charlie Company was credited with killing an additional two NVA in the action.

A search of the bunkers, a battalion size complex containing 77 bunkers and three kitchen areas, the following day yielded four rucksacks containing personal equipment, seventeen 60mm mortar rounds, 250 AK47 rounds, two CHICOM grenades, one rifle grenade and food supplies, all abandoned by the fleeing NVA. Charlie Company also recovered two NVA packs the evening of the contact.

While searching for a weapons platoon which had mortared them the night before, Alpha Company made contact with the enemy. The Recon Platoon quickly moved in and engaged them too.

"We moved up the trail until I saw an NVA," said Sergeant First Class James Tibbit of Leesville, La. "The enemy was firing on us from as close as ten meters, but machine gun fire by Private First Class Johnnie Basey from Jamaica in the West Indies allowed Specialist Grinde (Specialist David Grinde of La Mesa, Calif.) and me to get to cover."

"Then they started firing 60mm mortars, but we did not break contact with the enemy so they were unable to hit us. They were afraid to bring them in too close to their own people. They followed the 60mm with 82mm mortars from the Montagnard village beyond the bunkers."

Artillery and gunships silenced the enemy mortars while the Recon Platoon employed M79s, and LAWs, against the bunker complex. Recon and Alpha Company then withdrew so the Recon Platoon leader, 1st Lieutenant Paul McGunnigle of LaVerne, Calif., could direct artillery and airstrikes against the enemy.

As it began to get dark Recon and Alpha continued to engage the enemy on one side of the village, while Charlie Company moved up in an attempt to seal off the other side from escape.

"Just as we were coming up on the village," said Private First Class Carl A. Bryant of Aurora, Ind., "we saw six NVA going down a trail approximately 75 meters away. We opened up and they took off down a trail an armored personnel carrier had made through the brush."

Two bullet riddled packs were recovered by Charlie Company.

The following morning the village was searched and the location from which the 82mm mortar had been fired was found. Alpha and Charlie Companies and Recon Platoon then swept the bunker complex finding the abandoned enemy equipment and ammunition.

"I think this is the battalion headquarters we’ve been looking for," said Captain Guy R. Marbury of Connellaville, Pa. "It looks like it has been used for several months – until we chased them out yesterday."

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