Stars and Stripes

29 May 1967 (Tan Phong)

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Cacti Men Kill Thirty NVA

DUC PHO —The sudden flash and sharp crack of enemy mortar explosions shattered the silence. The incoming rounds signaled the beginning of a three-hour night battle which many men of the Recon PIt and Co B of the 2nd Bn, 35th Inf, will long remember.

The "Cacti" had been sweeping an area where there had been recent clashes with units of an NVA battalion. It was late afternoon when the infantrymen set up their perimeter for the night. Ambushes were set along enemy routes.

At 2:30 the first mortar rounds landed and contact was made for the third time in three days.

The NVA hit the Cacti with everything they had. It was estimated 100 to 150 rounds of 60mm and 82mm mortar and recoilless rifle were fired at the infantrymen. The enemy then assaulted, supported by two machine guns, attempting to penetrate the perimeter.

Artillery immediately began to pound the charging enemy and was lifted only long enough for the gunships and "Spooky" to have their chance.

My platoon was on ambush when the first rounds landed," said 2LT Walter Twyford. "We moved back to the perimeter as fast as we could. The men on the perimeter were running low on ammo when we arrived after slicing through the enemy on the way in."

The recon platoon, also on ambush, moved back to reinforce the perimeter.

Dug in behind rice paddy dikes, the Cacti fought to hold off the furious assault by the NVA unit. The enemy charge carried them close enough to throw grenades over the paddy dikes. Gun ships from the 1st of the 9th Air Cav with flawless accuracy delivered their ordnance within 20 meters of the infantrymen driving back the enemy assault.

With the enemy momentum broken the Cacti swept the enemy back.

Daybreak revealed a battlefield littered with bodies of NVA. A total of 30 NVA were killed and three captured. Sixteen weapons were captured including a 57mm recoilless rifle and three light machine guns.

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