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Division Spelunkers Keeping In Practice

OASIS The men of the Famous Fighting Fourth Divisionís 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry, are slowly becoming geologists in their pursuit of the NVA.

The Cacti Blue have been sweeping the rugged slopes of the Chu Prong Mountains 11 miles south of Kontum in an effort to deny the 24th NVA Regiment a previously impregnable sanctuary.

Accumulating intelligence reports had long indicated that the unique cave and rock formations of the Chu Prong held an enemy base camp.

Intelligence soon became knowledge when the Cacti Blue swept through a rock-filled ravine containing what was believed to have been an NVA battalion-sized aid station. Concentrating their sweep In the area of the find, the elements of the battalion were alerted for any similar rock formations.

Find Fortress

Two days later, their efforts were rewarded when the Reconnaissance Platoon crested a hill and walked down Into a ravine filled with boulders up to 20 feet in diameter. Climbing down Into the numerous holes and crevices the Recon Platoon discovered a fortress 200 meters long capable of holding an NVA Battalion.

The complex contained many rooms ranging in size from two-man sleeping positions to an amphitheater, capable of seating a company-sized force. One portion of the network had three levels of rooms. Water was provided by an underground stream that ran the length of the ravine. Bamboo poles and ladders had been constructed to provide escape routes and easy access from one level to another.

"In certain corridors we could stand up, while in others we had to stoop to get through," stated Recon Platoon Sergeant James F. Tibbit of Leesville, La., "Some of the entrances were so narrow only the smallest men in our platoon could get through."

Recently Used

No enemy resistance was met during the search of the complex. Artillery preparation fires in the area had apparently fore-warned the NVA of an impending sweep, and they had fled.

"Bomb strikes might have shaken them up a good deal," said Sergeant Tibbit, "But the only thing that could dig them out of those caves would be an infantry unit on the ground."

The pursuit of the NVA continues in the Chu Prong mountain area as the 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry and other elements of the 3rd Brigade remain locked on the enemy.

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