Five-Zero-Yankee - Page 1

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by Major Ben G. Crosby

11 o’clock. 20 Aug. 1967. The radio in the operations center blurted. "Cougar six-five, this is Thunderball five-zero-yankee. SITREP no change. We’re still moving north about 1000 meters in from the beach."

"This is six-five, Roger, out."

Team Hocker, call sign "Thunderball," commanded by Captain Bill Hocker, a tanker, had evolved out of a mutual admiration of Lieutenant Homer Krout’s reconnaissance platoon and Hocker’s Company C, 2nd Battalion, 34th Armor. The recon platoon. known as "Krout’s Killers," was an elite bunch that would tackle any size fight with no holds

MAJOR BEN G. CROSBY, Infantry, the son of the late Colonel Ben G. Crosby, Armor, was graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1958. Following two years with the 82d Airborne Division he served with the 1st Cavalry Division in Korea where he was commandant of the division NCO Academy. From 1962 to 1964 he was a company commander and staff officer with the 2d Airborne Battle Group, 503d Combat Team (now the 173d Airborne Brigade) in Okinawa. After graduation from the Infantry Officers Advanced Course in 1965, he remained at Fort Benning as an instructor in the Mobility Department. During his recent tour in Vietnam he was S3 of the 2d Battalion, 35th Infantry. Here he earned the Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star (V) and 20 Air Medals. He is now assigned to the Doctrine Directorate, Headquarters, U. S. Army Developments Command.

barred. They had developed a liking for the tanks since the new CO had joined them in the field. "Old Bill" Hocker and Homer Krout made quite a pair. Homer loved the devastation the tanks left behind and Bill loved the way Homer’s men would charge into the very jaws of death right beside the iron monsters. They, together with Thunderball five-zero-yankee, SSG Dieter Burger, the fighting operations sergeant, made Team Hocker go. And a going concern it was.

"Cougar six-five, this is five-zero-yankee. We’ve got a resupply bird coming in a few minutes and we’ll be holding up until we get this resupply finished."

"Cougar six-five. OK, but move out on that mission ASAP! Over?"

"Five-zero-yankee. Roger, out."

Team Hocker’s mission was unique for a predominantly tank outfit. They were to move to the hamlet of An Tho and conduct a detailed search of the area. This type mission is one in which a unit is assigned a small area, such as An Tho hamlet to search for spider holes and enemy. The techniques used were developed by the 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry, better

known as the "Cacti Blue," who exercised operational control over Thunderball. LTC Norman L. Tiller, or "Cougar six," CO of the Cacti Blue believed that these small searches would eventually defeat the Viet Cong by denying them their hiding places. The operations had, in the past, been extremely successful. It was this "hole hunting" technique that wedded Recon to Tank Company.

They made the perfect combination. The old adage – likes repel – opposites attract – described Hocker’s team. Recon platoon and the tank company were direct opposites - but so were Krout and Hocker. Perhaps that’s what made the team great. Hocker – quiet, reserved, a thinker, mature, deliberate and Krout -

ARMOR march-april 1969



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