Master Sergeant David F.
2nd Battalion, 35th
3rd Brigade, 25th
Brigade, 4th Infantry Division)
Republic of Vietnam, 1967
Following is the complete journal of my time
spent as the Operations Sergeant (S-3) of the 2nd Battalion,
35th Infantry. This diary was kept on a coiled wire top-steno
type pad written with a lead pencil, blue and red ball pint pen and even
a grease pencil when nothing else was available.. Originally written in
my own version of "shorthand," I have edited it only to the
extent of clarification of the sometimes cryptic language it contains.
The content, hence the meaning remains unchanged.
6 January 1967: Departed Travis Air Force
Base on a C141. It was a miserable ride as there were no windows and the
seats faced backwards. First refueling stop was Wake Island. It was
raining relatively hard and didnít look at all like the World War II
movie of the same name. It is extremely small. Most of the island
appears to be airstrip. On to Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines.
Landed just before dawn. Very beautiful with the sun rising over a
volcano. From Clark directly on to Pleiku Vietnam.
7 January 1967: Arrived Pleiku. Crew chief
had the rear ramp open as we began our approach. He told us that the
since the pilot did not want to remain on the ground very long, that we
were to quickly disembark the instant the aircraft came to a stop. He
went on to say that the airfield had been mortared for several days in a
row. I say no damage. I expected a large, civilian type airport
surrounded by jungle. Actually is was just another Air Force base. My
first impression - BAD. All I saw were men with dirty cloths, some with
weapons, some without. Everything has a light coating of reddish dust.
Even the air seems to have a reddish tint. Glad we came in fatigues. We
were all herded into busses that took us to a small Replacement Depot
where our assignments would be verified and transportation sent to pick
us up. Presently there are thirteen E8ís and E9ís, myself included,
scheduled for assignment to the 3rd Brigade, 25th
Infantry Division. In processing very rapid consisting of an
unimpressive film on why we are here and a few war stories by the cadre
in a vain attempt to scare the youngsters. Since I was the 7th
Infantry Division Liaison NCO to the 38th Replacement
Battalion in Korea, I am somewhat familiar with "Repl"
activities. Personally, I get the impression that the cadre has never
seen the enemy and rarely heard a round fired in anger. Admittedly, I
have some apprehension but no fear. The apprehension stems from the fact
that the only protection is a very small trench that would only hold
about ten men. The perimeter is equally unimpressive consisting of only
two poorly built sand bag bunkers and a barbed wire fence that wouldnít
slow down a cow. The road has a moderate amount of traffic, mostly
military vehicles with some three-wheeled, Lambretta type, scooters
carrying Vietnamese. From all appearances is seems like a relatively
secure area since few weapons have been observed. The landscape is
desolate with high hills on the horizon. Everything is reddish-brown
with a layer of dust. Nothing is green.
8 January 1967: Slept poorly last night.
Kept thinking of the dirty bed I was in. My assignment was confirmed to
the 3rd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division. As I
understand it, the Division Headquarters along with the 1st
and 2nd Brigades is located far south, near Siagon, in a
place named Cu Chi. The have the 3rd Brigade of the 4th
Infantry Division OPCON to them. The 4th Infantry Division
Headquarters with the 1st and 2nd Brigades is
located here in Pleiki with the 3rd Brigade, 25th
Division OPCON to them. Seems screwy to me - but, "Ours is not to
reason why----" Had to wait until early afternoon for a truck to
take us to Brigade Headquarters. The trip was further than I thought,
about ten miles. The Brigade is located on a hill that is just as dusty
as Pleiki Air Force Base. All the buildings are covered with a layer of
the same red dust. We had some PFC with an M-14 rifle as shotgun on the
truck that took us directly to the Brigade Replacement Section. The
building was made of wood, with a corrugated tin roof. Again, in
processing was very rapid. All the E8ís and E9ís have been split up
into every unit in the brigade, including the 2nd Battalion,
9th Artillery, Engineers, 3rd of the 4th
Cavalry and the three infantry battalions (1st and 2nd
of the 35th and 1st of the 14th.) I have been
assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry.
Received all pay, dislocation allowances, etc. The finance officer was
one of my students from the University of Georgia ROTC detachment. Small
world! I didnít remember him but he remembered me. MSG Smith (11F50)
pulled a profile from a car accident at Ft. Jackson, South Carolina and
got assigned as the Operations Sergeant with the 3rd Brigade
(Rear). Kelleher was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company,
3rd Brigade. I am happy for him. He is too old to be humping
the bushes. SGM Killenbeck went to the 69th Armored while
Russ Streiber and I drew the 2nd of the 35th.
On to the battalion area which consists of
nothing but tent kits (GP medium tents on a plywood frame) with the
sides rolled up. Things are getting less and less impressive as I go.
Reported to Headquarters Company, 2nd of the 35th.
SFC Chase is the acting First Sergeant. He is originally from
Massachusetts but now lives in northern California. He is an
unpresumptious, high quality NCO, the first one Iíve met that didnít
have a bunch of war stories to tell the kids. Captain Fouty is the
company commander. He was the reconnaissance platoon leader until he
made captain. Since he is a "short-timer" they pulled him out
of the field and gave him this job. Good for him. The supply sergeant,
Baker, is extremely friendly. He came right out, shook hand warmly,
issued me my field equipment including a cold weather, mountain type
sleeping bag and two wool blankets. What in the world will I do with
them in a jungle environment like Vietnam. Sergeant Baker then led me to
the NCO tent. Wow! What an overcrowded mess. Trash and equipment strewn
all over the place. Ammunition and live grenades loose everywhere yet
everyone is completely at ease in what they call a very secure area.
Baker took Streiber and I around the battalion area. Other than the
First Sergeant, he is the only other man so far without a bunch of war
stories. He explained that the battalion has been out on a mission to
secure highway 19 since January 2nd. This is the main
east-west highway running from the coast to Pleiki and beyond towards
Russ Streiber appears to be a nice guy. His
date of rank is greater than mine so I suppose he will get his choice of
assignment within the battalion. Personally, I would prefer S-3 since itís
more combat oriented than S-2. As luck would have it, Russ prefers S-2.
Seems settled as far as we are concerned. Al we need to do is convince
the Sergeant Major. Sergeant Alvario, the battalion chemical NCO was in
the hootch when we returned. He answered many questions for us and was
very helpful in settling us in. Also bunking with us is SSG Blevins, the
battalion ammunition NCO, SSG Olsen (job unknown) who just returned from
an in-country R&R to Vung Tau, and SSG Camp, the battalion laundry
NCO. (I never heard of a TO&E position for a laundry NCO and by the
appearance of his fatigues he hasnít either.) Streiber and I turned in
early but the H&Iís (harassing and interdictory fires) kept me
awake all night. They are only 81mm mortars about a hundred yards from
the tent but I just was not prepared for outgoing all through the night.
9 January 1967: Arose early - who could
sleep! The mess hall, like everything else Iíve seen so far, was also
covered in red dust. Not very appetizing. Reminded me of Korea. We hung
around all morning with no word from the sergeant major. In the
afternoon he finally sent for us to report to his quarters. Very nice
house with a wooden porch, windows, the works. He really lives well but
didnít impress me very much. He told us nothing but war stories. I was
surprised to learn that he was a master sergeant and a commo chief at
that. Why wouldnít they have an infantryman as the battalion sergeant
major? I really donít understand. He did have a case of beer in the
corner but never offered Russ or I one. He did claim that he didnít
drink beer or water, only coffee. He said he was afraid of disease. In
any event he did agree to give me the S-3 job and Russ the S-2.
10 January 1967: I slept somewhat better
last night but still woke up with every H&I round fired. Even though
it is early January, the tent was very hot to the point of being
uncomfortable. The Sergeant Major has made arrangements for Russ and I
to fly out to the battalion in the commanderís command and control
helicopter (Charlie-Charlie). We grabbed our weapons, steel pots and
ammunition and climbed aboard. The Sergeant Major on the left door, made
a big thing about not wearing the seat belt since he was so accustomed
to flying. We got a good view of the Vietnamese terrain for the first
time. It was nothing like I expected. Looking for jungle vegetation, all
I saw was rolling hills, bushes, some sparsely located palm trees and a
few villages. Except for the palm trees, it looked very much like Korea
in the summer.
We flew east along highway 19. I was
surprised once again to see a paved road in what appeared to be in good
condition. It seemed to me that the pilot was flying very low, weaving
in and out of the trees while maintaining a constant altitude above the
ground with each hill and depression. I thought I was on a roller
coaster rather than in a helicopter. This type of flying makes it more
difficult for enemy antiaircraft fire to hit the chopper. I didnít see
any people at all. This was a little disappointing. I guess I figured
that every bush should have a VC behind it.
As we approached the fire base I couldnít
help but notice how small it was. I saw one battery of 105mm howitzers
(6 cannon), ten sandbagged bunkers around a barbed wire perimeter and
several GP medium tents. Because of its small size, we landed outside
the perimeter and walked through an opening in the wire to the TOC
(Tactical Operations Center) where we were introduced to the S-3
Officer, Major Vogentanz and the Battalion Commander, Lieutenant Colonel
Granger. Vogentanz is a big, well built man with a commanding stature
and equally commanding voice. The colonel, a much smaller man, was
dwarfed by the S-3 but appears to be equally impressive. They both
confirmed the assignments of Russ to S-2 and myself to work for
Vogentanz in the S-3 TOC. That suits me just fine. I am ready to go to
11 January, 1967: Slept very well last
night. The artillery battery of 105ís fired H&Iís sporadically
throughout the night. Even though they are significantly larger than the
81mm mortars at Pleiku and much closer, I only heard them in the early
part of the night. The biggest surprise was how cold I got. Now I know
why I was issued that sleeping bag (which I left in Pleiku.) Most of the
day was spent being briefed by Colonel Granger and Major Vogentanz. The
TOC consists of two radios, one on the battalion net and one on the
brigade net with a scrambler attached for secure voice communication. A
large situation map, with our area of operations outlined with grease
pencil on acetate pinpoint the companies in the field. During routine
operations, without enemy contact, there is one radio/telephone operator
(RTO) manning both nets along with a duty officer (LNO) and/or the
operations sergeant present. The TOC is the command post from which all
field operations are controlled by either the battalion commander or the
operations officer. During periods of contact with the enemy, a second
RTO is brought in supervised by the Ops Sgt and a duty officer while the
battalion commander, accompanied by the Artillery Liaison Officer and
frequently the Operations Officer flies in, around, and over the contact
area in the C&C helicopter.
Normal operations consist of one company
securing the fire base while the remaining two companies and the
reconnaissance platoon are out. A rotational system for pulling
"Palace guard" within the fire base has been established. The
artillery battery is in direct support of the battalion and goes with us
every place we go. Their six howitzers have preplanned concentrations on
potential enemy targets as well as defensive concentrations around each
of the companies in the field. They also maintain a good supply of
"beehive" rounds on hand to be used as a flat trajectory
defense of the fire base in the event of attack.
The battalion had recently been in heavy
contact with North Vietnamese Army regulars near the Ia Drang valley and
Chu Pong Mountain area. (Hence, the reason our plane load of
replacements flew directly into Pleiku.) Fitted with almost a full
compliment of replacements, the battalion was given the mission of
securing highway 19 from the eastern edge of the city of Pleiku, west to
the Mang Giang Pass. East of the pass is secured by elements of the 1st
Cavalry Division (Airmobile) through to the western edge of the city of
Quang Ngai located on the coast of the South China Sea. During the
French Indo China War, the French made a valiant effort to hold the pass
but were forced to withdraw and consolidate to Dien Bien Phu where they
eventually were defeated by superior Communist forces led by General
U.S. and South Vietnamese convoys of two and
a half five ton trucks frequently travel this main east-west
thoroughfare. The lead and trailing trucks in the convoy have armored
plates attached to their sides. They are armed with .50 caliber machine
guns and carry a squad of Military Police with M-60 machine guns, M-16
rifles and M-79 grenade launchers. The supply vehicles are protected
with sandbags and have at least one "shotgun" rider for
With tank support, small squad and platoon
sized pockets of infantry, from our battalion, are strategically located
just off the highway. Indirect fire support from the 105 battery, our
own heavy mortar platoon and each companyís 81mm mortars protect these
isolated positions as best as possible. The remainder of the rifle
platoons conduct search operations primarily north of the highway in an
attempt to locate and engage enemy units attempting to attack these
convoys. Our guys feel that this mission is a "cake walk."
Most enjoy this period of rest and relative security; some itch for
contact with the enemy.
12 - 20 January 1967: Continued to secure
Highway 19. Daily patrols from companies in the field continue to search
the area north of highway with no contact.
21 January 1967: Major Vogantanz stepped on
a toe popper while accompanying Recon Platoon on search mission.
Battalion Commander evacuated him in C&C ship.
22 January 1967: Captain James Lanning
assumed duties as S-3 officer.
23 - 28 January 1967: Administrative flight
to Oasis vic ZA114284. Very dusty but has a shower point. First one
since leaving Travis.
4 February 1967: Highway security mission
terminated. Battalion conducted combat air assault into the Ia Drang
Valley vic 940050.
8 February 1967: Flew to Chu Pong Mountain
vic 940010. Remained during Tet (Lunar New Year). Located wreckage of
Air Force plane with 20mm cannon still attached. Surprised the enemy
didnít find and remove it.
9 - 12 February 1967: Conducted security
patrols without incident.
13 February 1967: Report that 2nd
Battalion, 8th Infantry (4th Div) catching hell
north of highway. 2-35 moved to LZ 27D
16 February 1967: Bn moved north to 787242
to support 2-8 Inf
17 February 1967: Combat assault to 642504.
I took "jump CP" with B/2-35. We made contact at 726514. Enemy
withdrew, no casualties.
18 February 1967: Road convoy of Alpha and
Charlie companies from 787242 through LZ 3T vic 8545. Lead vehicle hit a
mine - no casualties reported. 2-8th Inf (4th Div)
ambushed vic 726514. Initial reports were that they lost 24 men from one
company and 32 from another.
19 February 1967: Flew from 726514 to join
with the convoy
20 February 1967: Reconnaissance platoon
made contact with about 10 NVA. Chased them across the border. Company B
vic YA684469 located 3 light machine guns, 3 each 60mm mortars, apx
7,000 rounds of small arms ammunition, beaucoup ammo pouches, 57mm
recoilless rifle ammunition, C-4 w/primers. Men in the battalion looking
for a fight - me too.
21 February 1967: At 1025H, Company C made
contact vic YA676467 with estimated platoon of NVA. C Co in persuit, B
Co moving south to block enemy escape over the Cambodian border. 1-8 Inf
still in heavy contact to the north. A 250 pound bomb was found close to
where the road crosses a deep chasm over the river. The bomb had been
dragged to the site where it was found. EOD called in to destroy bomb.
Battalion commander wants the bridge secured with an ambush tonight. All
companies out on missions. Myself and five volunteers from HHC directed
to set up ambush site between where bomb was found and the bridge.
Captain Lanning directed me to establish DEFCONS (artillery defensive
concentrations) around my position. Battalion rule was that all defcons
required first round smoke (in daylight) or illumination (night). After
dark, I positioned the patrol and et up claymores. Not wanting to give
away my position, I called for DEFCONS as first round HE, that I would
adjust, so that any lurking enemy would think it was just H&Iís.
First round lost. Switched to one round illumination, adjusted and
waited through the night without incident. At daylight we retrieved the
claymores. One of the claymore wires was found to be cut in half, about
25 feet from Blankenshipís position, by the nose cone of the DEFCON
illumination round. Not only was that danger close, but made the
claymore a dud. Glad we never had to use it.
22 Feb 67: Still in same location. Co C made
contact. No details yet. Bn CO authorized all troops in the LZ to go in
small groups the 800 - 1000 yards to the river for a bath. It was great.
One group of 5-10 would secure the river bank while the other washed
body and fatigues. When finished, the bathers would then secure the bank
for the next group, and so on until everyone get a bath.
23 - 24 Feb 67: LRP from the battalion
killed one NVA vic 6346. Oops - wrong side of the border.
25 Feb 67: All companies out of radio range
with the battalion. CPT Lanning directed me to establish a field
expedient radio relay station constructed from salvaged field kitchen
stove with two jeep batteries and a couple of jeep antenna welded to the
sides. Left the KY8 (scrambler) in the TOC. Wouldnít want the enemy to
capture it. C&C inserted us vic 677535. Am in contact with all
companies and the TOC.
26 Feb 67: Commo reestablished directly
between companies and TOC. C&C extracted my team and returned us to
the fire base.
27 Feb 67: Moved by dirt road to 666548. Bad
road - thick vegetation on both sides of road. Not very comfortable.
Good place for enemy ambush. Negative contact (thank God).
28 Feb 67: Arrived at new fire base. Built
TOC bunker with help from Engineer Squad. A 105mm Howitzer round hit the
trees and detonated. One serious stomach wound, two wounded in legs.
3 Mar 67: Made combat assault vic 762594. LZ
nothing but high (elephant) grass surrounded by heavily vegetated,
triple canopy woods. Pilots couldní tell how deep grass was and would
only hover while we jumped. Ground was further than we anticipated. Six
casualties (broken legs/sprained ankles). Ten NVA came to recon us.
Called in gunships. NVA flashlights during the night on hill to our
east. Called in artillery and mortars. Lights went out. This is what is
considered a "Free Fire Zone." There are no friendly villages
in the vicinity. Therefor we shoot anything that moves.
5 - 6 Mar 67: Still clearing vegetation.
Area bad with scorpions. S-2 reports NVA all around the area. Artillery
fired DEFCONS at enemy 300 yards outside perimeter. Get work from CPT
Lanning that we will be moving tomorrow to 2-8 Inf LZ at 676535.
Beautiful position on top of hill. It would take a sustained attack of
at least a battalion to overrun that position. I sure hope we stay for
awhile, but I doubt it.
8 Mar 67: Located radio relay station to
676573. Had good position but stayed awake all night. Adjusted Co B
& Co C DEFCONS
9 Mar 67: Returned to fire base. Visited by
General Key (now President of Vietnam), his wife and Brigadier General
James Stewart. He may be a movie star but he is still a general in the
Air force Reserve. This fire base, built by 2-8 Inf, 4th Div
is really nice. Has a battery of 155mm and 8" (big) guns. When they
fire, the ground literally shakes. The TOC and CP, including the
battalion commanders quarters are in a large, deep hole in the ground
(probably 50x50 feet) complete with good overhead cover. No way an enemy
82mm mortar could penetrate. There are also sandbagged bunkers with
overhead protection for all the men on the LZ with excellent fields of
fire and observation.
12 Mar 67:
Got new S-3, Major Crosby-Lanning to Company
Major Crosby saw the TOC of the Mechanized
Artillery and fell in love with it. It is actually an armored personnel
carrier with a higher than normal top. Inside is everything a commander
and S-3 need - radios, wall space for maps, field desks, the works. He
drew up the plans and got the old manís approval to have our motor
pool build one by cutting one end of each of two CONEX containers and
welding them together. He fitted the top with four jeep batteries,
antennas, a power-slave receptacle to recharge the batteries by
generator; mounted shelves at one end for radios and KY8 scrambler; a
large map area covered with Plexiglas; and work space opposite the maps
for himself, the duty officer and I. It will even have a custom made
tent extension coming off the door end just like the APC TOC. It will be
fitted with four rings on top and using the same type of slings used by
the artillery to move their howitzers, will be air transportable by
Chinook. Brilliant! Why doesnít the Army have more officers willing to
show that kind of initiative. I canít wait until its built.
Webmaster Note: I added these entries for 12
to 15 March, from another document that Dave sent to me. I am sure he
does not mind. (Jim)
12 March: Co A while moving south to check
B-52 area got heavy contact at 657487. Lt K killed. NVA split the
company up. Snipers in trees. Co C committed. Made CA from 666548 into
655478 and moving north to block. Co B committed. Making CA into 686482.
One company (B/2/8th Inf, 4th ID) moving by ground
along river. One company from 1/8th Inf, 4th ID
ready to assist. Co A receiving small arms & mortar fire. Count at
1600, 3 KIA, 11 WIA. Co B pushing southeast, Co C pushing east. Co A
needs reinforcements. Getting excellent support from Air force and
artillery. Colonel wants jump CP with A Co.
(written w/grease pencil) On ground with Co
A. Completely surrounded. Perimeter 100 meters. Thick vegetation. Must
stick out the night.
13 March: Long night. Took many casualties.
Co A worst. Lead platoon ran into NVA battalion size force. Snipers
still in trees. Lt K hit in chest-died about 0300. Blankenship got out
on first chopper (short-timer). Rhodes killed trying to get ammo to
surrounded 3rd platoon. Bodies already beginning to bloat.
Writing this by light of "Spooky". 2nd night with
Company A. We took many casualties. Still donít know exactly how many
dead and wounded. 1st Bde, 4th ID all around us.
Our AO reduced to 1500 meters. Still have movement all around but canít
fire arty because of 4th Div troops in such close proximity.
Danny dead. 60mm mortar round-couldnít recognize him. 3rd
plt Co A down to 15 men. Tonight quiet-no snipers. One poor NVA had a
bunch of pictures in his pocket of his family. He was sniping from a
tree. Lt K stuck his finger in his wound. Doc taped his hand in place to
hold finger in. Mortar round went off close by-he took a piece in the
leg and arm. His arm went numb & he just died (slowly). Men very
tired, moral high but a lot of anguish over casualties. No one likes to
see the dead carried out in ponchos. Now have a good foxhole with over
head cover. Colonel sleeping on top. JC and Marty also sleeping. Co C
closed to area where 3rd plt was. Should stay quiet for rest
14 March: Battalion FSB got mortar fire last
night and attacked 1st light today. Since we are still w/Co A
donít know what casualty situation is. All out of water-low on chow.
FSB attacked for 3rd time. Direct hit on medic tent. Doc
Hoover, Forrister (3 days left), Jarrells & Furman. Sorry-they were
all great medics. 1320 hours-chopper finally brought us water and
C-rats. Co C got another sniper in trees. 1700 hours-Pulled my men and I
out. Arrived FSB. It got hit bad-300 mortar rounds (official). Direct
hit on Co A mortar position, medic tent, 105mm How ammo truck and an 8in
gun emplacement. Total count-friendly 14 KIA, 42 WIA; NVA 53 KIA by body
count, 30 more estimated by observation.
15 March: Slept hard last night. So tired
didnít even hear H & Iís. During the day, got new S-3 (Maj
Crosby). Shammed most of the day.
16 Mar 67: Other units within the brigade
still getting heavy contact. Nothing here - getting rested.
20 Mar 67: G-2 reports NVA Regiment near our
LZ and may attempt to attack.
Webmaster Note: Again, I added these
entries, for 20 to 26 March, from another document that Dave sent to me.
20 March: Intel reports NVA Regiment
nearby-Will attempt to take FSB
21 March: Co C, while sweeping southeast
from 664585 made contact with enemy battalion. 3rd Platoon
stopped human wave attack. Most of the platoon are casualties. Co A
moved northeast to assist. NVA broke contact before Co A could reach Co
C. CPT Rykowski, although seriously wounded in stomach and both legs,
stayed on radio for three hours directing the fight. Sounds horrible to
hear a dying man talk on the radio. Battalion commander landed & got
him out. One chopper took direct hit from rocket launcher while about 25
feet in the air. Pilot lost both eyes, co-pilot seriously wounded, both
gunners dead. Initial reports 16 friendly KIA, 52 WIA, 11 MIA. Most
casualties from 3rd platoon and Co C Hq. Choppers did
tremendous job pulling wounded out during darkness in very bad LZ.
22 March: didnít get much sleep last
night. Now pulling friendly KIAís and remainder of Co c back to FSB.
Co B flew in to relieve Co C. Medic told me it looked like a graveyard
out there. Battalion commander estimates 3rd Plt, Co C took
at least 150 NVA with them.
23-25 March: Making close search of battle
area. NVA body count now up to 52.
26 March: Easter Sunday. Battalion Chaplain
conducted combined Easter Sunday and memorial service for Charlie
company. Real nice. (I have a picture of the service) Found
Regimental Hq of NVA. Also found GI equipment from 12 March action. Same
bunch of NVA. Hospital area with 5 more NVA in graves & many bloody
21 Mar 67:
Recruit walking to sounds of big guns.
Bunker collapse from vibration of big guns.
Trapped several guys. Pure panic
27 Mar 67: Preparing to move by convoy from
hill to Check Point 7 on highway 19 vic 033313. Company A & B walked
in from the contact area (6755)
28 Mar 67: Departed fire base by convoy into
Pleiku. No contact enroute.
29 Mar - 1 Apr 67: Base camp stinks. I would
rather be in the field. Too much bull-shit. Just like garrison duty
anywhere else in the world. Drank beer after beer every night. Cleaned
equipment and prepared to go back to the field.
2 Apr 67: Got drunk last night - picked a
fight with Russ Streiber. (Sorry about that.) Weíre headed for Bong
Son tomorrow. Where the hell is Bong Son?
3 Apr 67: Departed Pleiku by convoy. Will
travel east on highway 19 to Qui Nhon, then highway 1 north along the
South China Sea coast to Bong Son. Myself and driver in ĺ ton truck
with most of the TOC equipment. About halfway between east side of Mang
Giang Pass and Qui Nhon the water pump went on the truck. I radioed the
convoy commander and told him the problem. We decided the convoy would
continue on while I limped into Qui Nhon to get the truck fixed. Even
though my driver and I were armed to the teeth (M-60 LMG, 1 M-16, 1
M-79, 4 grenades each and plenty of ammo) we were more than a little
apprehensive. We drove until the radiator belched nothing but steam,
stopped at a rice paddy, filled our steel pots with water and continued
on. After repeating this process a number of times, we finally reached
the outskirts of Qui Nhon.
I have a cousin (Paul Crotty) stationed in a
maintenance outfit of some kind somewhere in Qui Nhon. I stopped the
first MP I saw and asked him where this outfit was located. His response
was "a block from the ice house." Wow! - city blocks and ice
houses too. What a way to fight a war.
Since neither the driver nor myself knew our
way around the city, the MPís kindly led us there. It was a relatively
small, fenced in compound, with a gate, guard, swinging barrier and all.
Finding the maintenance officer, I told him who I was, the fact that my
cousin was in this outfit and that I had to get a new water pump on the
truck so I could rejoin my battalion laggard overnight just north of the
Well let me tell you that nothing was too
good for us "Grunts." The motor officer guaranteed he would
have my truck fixed before morning even if he had to take a water pump
off one of his own vehicles to put on mine. He then proceeded to take
the driver and I to the "CLUB" for COLD BEER that wasnít
even in rusty cans. Boy, am I impressed.
Bad news: My cousin is on R&R to
Thialand. Worse, my truck wonít be finished until late tonight and
there is a curfew in Qui Nhon. No Americans off their compounds after
midnight! We would have to stay the night but had to lock our weapons
and ammunition in the arms room. The supply sergeant took us to the
(real) barracks with (real) GI bunks and mattresses that had (real)
sheets, pillows and blankets. Now this is the life.
The motor officer informed me that the truck
would be finished around midnight. With that, I informed the supply
sergeant that he had two choices: (1) Get woken up at midnight to
reissue our weapons and ammunition, or (2) Return it to us now and we
will secure it under the bunks until we leave. He chose the later but a
few of the other guys looked very uncomfortable with those grenades
hanging off our ammo pouches. We understood their plight. In fact we
were so concerned for them that we even slept on top of the blankets so
we wouldnít get the sheets dirty.
At 0330, the driver and I grabbed our gear,
quietly slipped into the truck and headed for the gate where we were
stopped by the guard with a resounding "Halt, who goes there!"
We stopped. "Advance to be recognized" he shouted. Now I knew
this poor sentry was only doing his job but wouldnít know me from Jack
Shit. So, I approached exactly as I taught troops in basic training at
Ft. Dix NJ. I explained to the sentry who I was, what had happened, and
that I had to rejoin the battalion somewhere north of the city before
they departed. "But you canít leave the compound until after
0600" replied the sentry. "Thereís a curfew."
"Private," I replied, "I know your only doing what you
were trained to do but I must get back to my battalion." "Now
you have two choices: (1) Open the gate, let me out and re-close the
gate and nobody will be the wiser, or (2) I will just direct my driver
to crash through the gate." True to his excellent training, the
sentry began shouting "Sergeant of the Guard, Sergeant of the
Guard." With a nod from me, the driver put the truck in gear and
away we went. I really felt bad about smashing their gate barrier
particularly since they were so great to us - but youíve "gotta"
do what you "gotta" do. We re-joined the convoy, still
crashed, near Phu Cat Air Force Base (LZ Hammond) before dawn and were
back in the fold.
4 Apr 67: Flew from LZ Hammond with Company
C into LZ Illini vic BR787673. I canít even say it let alone spell it.
Found out later that the University of Illinois are called "Illini."
Co B flew into LZ Corral vic BR735701. Both were 1st Cavalry
Division fire bases. Beautiful fire base. No dust, green grass and
prepared bunkers. TOC underground. Nice stream 100 yards west. Terrain
flat, sandy and open. Some outfit is here with a couple of quad-fiftys.
Major Crosby had a blast firing them.
5 Apr 67: Continuing to improve LZ. Recon
made CA into LZ Bill vic BR727687. While guiding in a HU-ID, Lieutenant
Harry Davis was struck in the head by the main rotor blades. Sergeant
Smith rushed to his aid and was also struck in the head. Smith died
enroute to Qui Nhon hospital, LT David died that night. The chopper was
secured for the night pending investigation. Co A OPCON to 1-35 Inf at
LZ Anchor vic BR958865. (3500 meters from ocean and 500 meters from
large salt lake.)
6 Apr 67: Continued setting up. Everything
under control. Received new S-3 Air, Captain Newman.
7-8 Apr 67: Received SPAR report of VC CP
located vic BR765735. Watched A-1E Skyraiders pound hell out of it. The
battalion commander and I flew over the area to draw enemy fire. We didnít
get any. Then flew over each company area. Still no fire. Flew back to
Hammond after dark. I must say that for the very first time since I have
been in country, I was scared. I donít like playing sitting duck in a
helicopter begging for someone to shoot at me.
9 - 14 Apr 67: Absolutely nothing in this
15 Apr 67: Moved TOC by Chinook, north to
Duc Pho vic 814385. Saw South China Sea for first time. Flew right up
the beach. Battalion will be OPCON to 2nd Brigade, 1st
Cavalry Division at LZ Montezuma. (The Marine Corps held the area prior
to turning it over to the Cav.) Major Crosby had an engineer outfit
bulldoze out a hole to fit the TOC into. Great idea. For the first time
we donít have to sandbag the sucker.
16 Apr 67: 1-9 Cav made contact vic 8048.
1A/2-35 committed with 1-9 Cav. Company C made combat assault north of
contact point vic 785495 and pushed south trapping about 50 VC. They got
21 VC KIA, captured 11 and had only one friendly WIA. However, we did
lose one helicopter gunship from ground fire. Five dead. Two poor souls
trapped in wreckage. Couldnít get bodies out until after wreckage was
airlifted by Chinook back to LZ Montezuma. Except for the gunship and
the loss of its crew, it was a very good day. We just have to remember
that fighting out here is significantly different that Pleiku/Kontum
Province. The terrain is flat, much more open with dangerous hedgerows
and numerous rice paddies.
17 Apr 67: Ash and trash day
18 Apr 67: 3A/2-35 caught 35-50 VC at
823409. Two friendly WIA ON INITIAL CONTACT. Killed 5 VC. Couldnít do
much because of heavy rain. Artillery and gunships got all five. Rained
all day filling foxholes with water and collapsing poorly constructed
bunkers. TOC flooded. I guess Crosbyís idea of bulldozing a hole for
the TOC wasnít so good after all. Had to get the bulldozer to drag the
TOC out of the hole. Everything soaked. What a job! Ended up sandbagging
19 Apr 67: Gunships caught 5 VC attempting
to carry body off C&C. Killed one. Female VC attempting to carry
dead dink was WIA
20 Apr 67: Company C found large cave and
tunnel complex vic 845376. Blowing tunnels. Found one M-60 and one M-14.
Looks like they came from downed chopper since the weapons were
21 - 25 Apr 67: Contact just about every
day. Small, but effective for us. Cumulative body count in this AO is 83
KIA, 95 POW. We have 5 WIA and 1 DOW from the battalion. Flew observer
mission for target marking with recon platoon. Area was north of river
from 8041 NE to the north side of the inlet. Using big 16" naval
guns. VC sneaking up to water point just outside the perimeter and
placing booby traps. Also they are planting many mines on the road
26 Apr 67: Recon ran into a squad of VC at
808408. Company A sent to reinforce. Received intel report of high VC
officials at 835415. CAíd one platoon from C Company who made contact.
A second platoon was sent in. I was on the hill behind the CP observing.
As I came off the hill, snipers just outside the perimeter began firing.
Mucci, Glynn and I maneuvered around left to engage. Gunships came in
and finished the job.
27 Apr 67: 1st Squad, 2nd
Platoon, B Company left LZ Semper vic 875320. Made contact 874307. 1KIA
from 1st Squad. CAíd one platoon from Co C and a second
platoon from LZ Guadalcanal with 3 tanks.
28 Apr - 3 May 67: Continued search and
destroy operations north of Montezuma. AO appears to be loaded with VC.
Canít seem to pin them down. Night of 3 May made airborne gas attack
(CS) over 4 VC in trench. Couldnít land. Came back to Montezuma. I
loaded 15 men on 2 APCís and went back to trench area. Found the
trench, VC gone.
4 May 67: Moved CP from Montezuma to hill
top a couple of thousand clicks north vic 755431. Good view of the war.
Had to move the TOC twice. First location to exposed. On closer
observation this location is not as good as I had first thought. It
consists of a large hill connected by a saddle to a smaller hill to the
north. The artillery battery fit just perfect in the saddle. The north
hill would make a good OP. The bad part is just to the west is the
largest hill. It has a commanding view of the entire fire base. An enemy
OP on that hill could direct mortar or recoilless rifle fire on us with
no problem. I hope we put something up there. LZ was named LIZ by the
battalion commander. His wife is Elizabeth. Finally got the TOC
sandbagged half way up and on top. Get the troops to dig in after dark.
Was totally exhausted. Russ and I just plopped down on the west side of
the crest of the hill without even digging a hole for ourselves.
Sometime later I felt like my body was on fire but I was to tired to
completely wake up. Finally I sat up, got my flashlight with a red lens
and saw that we were both completely covered with ants. We had fallen
asleep on top on a large colony on ants that were chewing us alive. You
never saw two men strip so fast in your life. We brushed the thousands
of ants of each other, shook our fatigues, emptied our boots, moved a
couple of hundred yards around the hill and went back to sleep.
5 May 67: Enemy continuing to engage us with
small arms in small numbers. One kid in B Company triggered a large
(probably 250 LB bomb) booby trap. APC loaded with a squad from
reconnaissance platoon hit an even larger explosive devise (maybe as
large as a 500 LB bomb). All killed including track commander and
driver. Largest piece of vehicle we found intact was a road wheel.
6 - 10 May 67: Continued S & D
operations. 1LT Chase, Battalion S-2 killed when ground fire hit a
grenade inside the chopper and blew him out. Made an amphibious landing
into VC village vic 785505 with tanks and a platoon of infantry from
Company B. Company A CAíd to the north side, Company C ambushed from
the southwest. Took everyone by surprise with the landing craft. Picked
up 250 refugees and a sack full of VC. Cumulative count now 126 enemy
KIA, 48 POW, 459 VCS and 1 informant. Friendly casualties: 9 KIA, 16 WIA,
1 DOW and 8 NBI. Gun ships caught eight VC on the large hill to our
west. Killed 1, wounded 3. I knew that hill was going to hurt us. Intel
reports that a large VC force is forming to attack LZ LIZ.
11 - 12 May 67: Still scoffing up VC. Intel
estimates LIZ to be attacked soon. Company C continuing to make contact.
Large contact vic 8047. Killed 32 more, captured one BAR (which I kept),
4 M-1 rifles, 1 M-1 Carbine, 2 French assault sub machine guns. I took
the wire stock off one of the sub machine guns and had the motor
sergeant weld in to the receiver of my Thompson. Makes it much lighter.
13 May 67: LIZ finally was attacked. At 2350
(12 May) we got hit by mortar fire. They started in the saddle where the
artillery is and landed a direct hit on one of the 105 ammo bunkers. I
was asleep and never heard the initial rounds hit. (Big difference for
the H&Iís that kept me awake all night my first day in country.)
Somewhere in the dark regions of my subconscious I heard wooshing sounds
but couldnít figure out what it was. As I got closer and closer to
consciousness I realized that it was large chunks of shrapnel from the
exploding 105 bunker wooshing over my head. Now I could see the fires
and hear the incoming. Realizing we were under attack, I ran towards the
106mm recoilless rifle position to begin returning fire. About 75 feet
away I heard someone from the 106 position yell "Fire." I dove
for the ground with the full realization of the back blast effects from
a 106mm recoilless rifle. Sgt Carswell, the artillery FO ran over
thinking I was hit. Other than the fact that I couldnít hear very
well, I was all right. Carswell & I continued to the 106 position
and found Lieutenant White, the new Assistant S-3 already directing
fire. We looked for the muzzle flashes for the mortars but couldnít
see them. We fired at possible locations but was totally ineffective.
The attack did a lot of damage, more so to the artillery in the saddle
than the CP area. Must dig a hole for myself. Havenít done that yet.
(Do as I say, not as I do)
14 - 16 May 67: Finally dug a foxhole. Moved
from the west side of LIZ to the south side. I figured it was better to
get away from the four-deuce mortars. They make a good target for
"Charlieís" mortars. I now have a full complement of RTOís.
Blankenship, Carter and Doyle all gone home. I still have McCourt who
extended for six more months, Sharp, Mucci, Boydell, Otts, Pellerito
(Pepper). Willie Roberts and myself. This will provide 2 RTOís with
shifts of four hours on and eight hours off with Willie and I
alternating each shift. That will work just fine, at least until August
when most of them DROS out.
Everyone pulled perimeter guard last night.
All companies are out on ambushes. Only Recon and us on the hill. C/3-4
Cav is in the saddle with the artillery. Keeping my BAR ready although I
still donít think Charlie would make a ground attack. Intel reports
the 101st got into a big fight vic 7049. They possibly broke
an attack on us. Thanks Screaming Eagles.
16 May 67 (Conít): Company A sweeping back
to LZ LIZ and will pull "Palace Guard." I know they like the
relative security of the fire base but really hate being here. Charlie
Company moved to 804497 and will set up ambushes. They have been very
successful for the last two nights. The got one machine gun, one more
BAR, two M-1ís, one carbine and one French sub machine gun. Unofficial
cumulative count is now: 185 KIA, 52 POWís, 555 VCS. Friendly stats: 5
KIA, 41 WIA, 2 DOW and 11 NBI.
17 May 67: Company A, while on search and
destroy vic 7744, ran into about a company of VC. Recon moved from LIZ
to secure an LZ at 7644 for Company C. C/3-4 Cav and Company A hit the
village from the west, Company C hit them from the northwest. Just like
Korea. They had them pinned in their holes and literally had to dig them
out with bayonets and grenades. Total count 72 enemy KIA. Company C lost
a few killed and wounded - donít know exact count yet. During the
night, Company A got hit. "Charlie" overran a LP. Sweep
revealed nothing the next morning.
18 - 26 May 67: Contact every day with all
elements. Small but effective
Webmaster Note: Entries for 27 to 30 May
were added to this dicument from antother document sent by MSG Butters.
27 May: Received SPAR report of enemy
battalion vic 7343. Didnít believe it because itís only 2000 meters
in plain view from LZ LIZ. What a mistake! Blue team (Infantry platoon
1/9 Cav, 1st Cav Div) made combat assault. They made contact
and immediately pinned down. Company B was RRF (Ready Reactionary
Force). The made combat assault southeast on contact while C/3-4 Cav and
Recon Platoon moved south into north side of village. Almost immediately
all elements surrounded. Two choppers shot down during the CA. One blew
up and burned. Fighting furious. Set up in night position inside
village. Appears enemy withdrew into the mountains to the west. Enemy
POW said it was the heavy weapons company of the 90th VC
Battalion, 1st VC Regiment.
28 May: Received C/1-35 OPCON to us. They
made a combat assault north of contact area. Company B moved up to draw
enemy that may have withdrawn. Made contact. Recon CAíd to top of
mountain vic 7146 sweeping down draw to meet Company B and C/3-4 Cav.
Light contact. Set up in ambush positions.
29 May: VC attacked ambush sites. Completely
camouflaged himself. Moved into perimeter. Mortars, recoilless rifles -
the works. Captain Penn, C/3-4 Cav dead. Captain Walker, CO B/2-35 dead.
Platoon of Company B and Company Headquarters would have been wiped out
but friendly troops got to them before dawn. Total stats to date: Enemy
KIA 115. WIA 3, POW 1, VC suspects 167, weapons 43. Friendly losses: 6
KIA, 41 WIA. Walker lived almost an hour after back blown out by mortar.
Thought only of his men right up to the minute he died. Told me over the
radio, "If I donít make it, remember 30 Sierra (RTO 3d Plt)
called in all airstrikes." I will really miss his frequent quips
with me. He was a real gentleman.
Sweep in daylight found location where enemy
withdrew after initial contact. Between contact of May 17th
and last three days have just about wiped out 90th VC
Battalion. Total for contacts with 90th - 451 enemy KIA by
body count, 75 POW, 892 VC suspects. Friendly losses, 18 KIA, 132 WIA, 5
DOW, 17 NBI. We now know Charlie was going to ry to take LZ LIZ but we
got him first (at a high price). Really sacked up the crew served
weapons. 7 light machine guns, two heavy machine guns, one recoilless
rifle, one B40 rocket launcher. Total weapons captured to date in this
AO: 14 SKS rifles, 17 AK-47ís, 16 sub machine guns, 17 M-1 and M-14
rifles, 12 BARís, 4 pistols, 26 carbines, 3 M-79ís, 1 60mm mortar.
All quiet now.
30 May: Very quiet Memorial Day. However,
from 2230H on, we have had no contact with LLRP located vic 707447 (the
larger hill just west of LZ LIZ.)
31 May 67: Still no contact with the 5 man
LRRP. I requested to take a patrol up the hill to investigate. Colonel
said "No!" Sent a patrol from C/3-4 Cav. Around 1030H they
found two dead and buried. Appears as though the other three are
captured or killed somewhere else. Evidently they put up a hell of a
fight because of the numerous expended cartridge cases and blood trails.
Followed trails but no luck. "Charlie" got one ANPRC-25, one
complete brigade SOI, one M-14 rifle with sniper scope, one M-60, two
M-16ís and one M-16 with a grenade launcher (40mm) underneath the
barrel. Assuming that all are dead. Company A got three moe kills in the
LRRP area later in the day. Iíve been saying all along that the
dominance of that hill, in such close proximity to LZ LIZ, makes for a
perfect OP. Sure hope the old man does something about it.
1 Jun 67: Very quiet - no significant
2 Jun 67: Company A received small arms fire
trying to cross a bridge northeast of LIZ. Pulled in the other companies
but missed closing the trap. Captured a letter from the VC Battalion
Commander stating that the 92nd Battalion, 2nd VC
Regiment was to attack troops in our area of operations. We must have
broken it up before he got a chance to launch.
3 - 25 June 67: An armored personnel carrier
hit a 250 pound bomb
26 Jun - 6 Jul 67: SitRep no change. Small
VC activity around the AO. We keep getting intelligence reports about
the 2nd VC Regiment going to attack us. Captured maps and
plans to attack our battalion during the period of the new moon from KIA
VC Company Commander. This calculates to be from 7 - 11 July.
7 Jul 67: Still nothing more on the 2nd
VC Regiment. (SIX MONTHS TODAY - Even "Lifers" count.)
10 Jul 67: At BS804427 captured one VC with
BAR who led us to a well concealed spider hole. Killed two in the hole
that wouldnít come out.
11 - 31 Jul 67: Thanks to Alpha Company and
Recon we finally figured out how "Charlie" vanishes. The
battalion is literally digging up the entire AO. Picking up many kills
and captures. Unofficial cumulative counts to date: 883 enemy KIA, 276
weapons captured, 281 POWs and 2246 VCS. Friendly: 55 KIA, 2 DOW, 257
WIA, 3 MIA.
1 - 3 Aug 67: Continuing to find many spider
holes. The battalion is chewing "Charlie" up.
4 Aug 67: Departed field for R & R
5 - 11 Aug 67: Remained at Pleiku awaiting
orders for R&R
12 - 18 Aug 67: Wow! Barbara met me in
Hawaii. Best six days of my life.
19 Aug 67:
I have not finished transcribing my journal
(19 Aug 67 - 6 Jan 68) One of these days, when I get some time, I will
complete the job. Working two jobs in preparation for retirement just
takes a lot of my time.