Vol. III, No. 18 August 17, 1970
173d Airborne Brigade
Brigade Changes Command
Cunningham Leaves 173D
Brigadier General H.S. Cunningham assumed Command of the 173d Airborne Brigade on August 9, 1969, after serving as the Director of Training, Military Assistance Command, Vietnam. The 49-year-old Commander first served in Vietnam as J-5 for MACV.
On August 10, 1968, he became Assistant Division Commander of the 101st Airborne Division. He remained in that post until 15 December when he began duties at the MACV Training Directorate.
General Cunningham's impressive military career began with the National Guard in 1936. High school graduation came in 1940 from Clarkston, Washington, and enlistment in the Army took place in August of the same year. Earning a commission as a Second Lieutenant, Infantry, the General graduated from Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia in March, 1943.
During World War II General Cunningham served in the European Theater of Operations with the 194th Infantry Regiment, 17th Airborne Division and later with the 82d Airborne Division.
1950 and the Korean Conflict found him serving as an Infantry Battalion advisor for the ROK Army.
Following Korea came a tour as the Commanding Officer of the 2d Battalion, 505th Airborne Infantry, 82d Airborne Division.
In 1953 he completed the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
He spent a year at the Army War College and then reported to Fort Amader, Canal Zone, for assignment as the assistant Chief of Staff for personnel operations. (G-1).
During his tenure as the 82d Airborne Division Chief of Staff he received the Legion of Merit for outstanding achievement when a division task force deployed to the Dominican Republic during that crisis.
After a year commanding the 173d, General Cunningham is leaving for a new assignment.
General Ochs Enters As New Brigade CG
Brigadier General Ray Ochs assumed command of the 173d Airborne Brigade August 10th after spending seven months as the unit's Deputy Brigade Commander. The 45-year-old commander first served in Vietnam as Chief of the Doctrine, Systems and Training Division (G3) for Headquarters, United States Army Vietnam.
In June 1968 he became a Senior Military Advisor working in III Corps with CORDS for the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam. He served in this position until December 1, 1969 when he became the Deputy
Brigade Commander of the 173d.
West Point graduation in 1946 marked his commissioning as a Second Lieutenant, Infantry. Japan and the 8th Cav Regiment of the 1st Cav Division, Far East Command, was his first assignment. He spent time in Korea during that conflict, and in 1955 he became the Assistant G2 for Headquarters Seventh Army, Europe.
Duty at West Point called in 1959 where he served as a Tactical Officer and D.C. to work in the Army Aviation Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Force Development. Ochs completed the Command and General Staff College in 1959 and graduated from the Army War College in 1968.
His last tour in CONUS prior to his current extended stay in Vietnam was spent at the United States Army Infantry School, Fort Benning, Georgia, as the Chief, Policy and Plans Branch Office of the Director of Instruction Secretary of the Infantry School.
Two awards of the Legion of Merit, one for his achievement at the Infantry School and the other for his excellence with MACV in 1969 are among his decorations. He also has the Bronze Star with "V" device.
The assumption of command by General Ray Ochs is particularly significant to the history of the 173d in that this is the first time that a current Deputy Brigade Commander has succeeded the Commanding General.
Capt Briefs ARVNs On 173d Operations
By Capt Bob Wilhelm
At the crack of dawn and before most of the "Herd" is up and moving there is a Crew Chief and Pilot from Casper preflighting their Jet Ranger. CW-2 Ken Thomas from Moraga, Ca, brings the aircraft to a moving hover and gently sets the bird down on the VIP pad. The engine keeps turning over and suddenly two figures dart up 26 steps and quickly seat themselves in the helicopter.
Up front the tall Army Captain buckles the shoulder straps, seat belt, rolls down his sleeves, places on a head-set and barks into the microphone, "Let's go to Ba Gi." Thomas calls Casper control and relates, "On-the-go with two pax."
The Ranger moves quickly over the tree-tops of Bong Son, towards the river and down the valley.
The Ba Gi run is on as Cpt Geoff McCarron, Los Angeles, settles back to prepare his notes and listen to the early morning news and music on AFVN. 25 minutes later Thomas begins the descent into Ba Gi near an old Vietnamese temple or memorial. His glide slope increases and finally they touch down. The brown haired McCarron steps out of the chopper reminding the pilot to return in an hour.
McCarron strides with his long legs towards an arch that leads into the headquarters' of the 22d ARVN Division. The UCLA grad speaks with confidence as he explains his mission. "This is part of the single war concept whereby US elements exchange information and liaison with ARVN and GVN units and officials."
It's easy to see why the ROTC Distinguished Military Graduate has become a crack briefer for the 173d Airborne Brigade in explaining the current operations to Bg Gen Trinh of the 22d ARVN Division.
Entering the Vietnamese briefing room through several huge doors, the two podiums and the 8' by 8' briefing maps stand out immediately. Beside the podiums are two Vietnamese Lieutenants standing rigidly at attention with microphones slung around their necks and pointers grasped in their hands.
The room fills with people sitting at the laminated tables. Cordialities are exchanged as well as handshakes. One set of tables has thin black head sets for visitors to understand the Vietnamese briefing as it is translated into English.
McCarron sits down at a table and spreads out his notes.
Suddenly everyone stands at attention as the General and Senior American Advisor enter.
The briefing begins in Vietnamese. It is not read but spoken from memorization with slight glances at cards. Cpt McCarron awaits his turn, and finally it comes. He stands in front of the audience poised to present the operations of the 173d. Twenty feet across the platform stands another Captain from the Fourth Division who will present their operations.
McCarron strides quickly down the patio and out through the gate returning the salute of the Vietnamese guards. The Pilot starts the olive-drab Ranger as he sights his passenger. Inside the chopper Mac barks "Tiger Town, Mr. Thomas!" and off they go. The main part of his day is finished after the briefing at Ba Gi. The rest of the late morning and early afternoon will be spent at Tiger Town with the Korean advisors and then down to Qui Nhon to visit another headquarters. While in Qui Nhon he stops as the USO to make a phone call, indulge in a rare treat of strawberry ice cream, buy a psychedelic poster and make a short visit to the '67th/173d Evac' hospital. A quick stop at Phu Cat AFB to see the Army Ground Liason Officer, Cpt John Taylor from Upper Montclair, NJ and his day is complete.
As Thomas pilots the chopper back towards LZ English, Cpt Geoffrey McCarron muses to himself, "I really enjoy this Ba Gi run. It breaks up the week for me and I enjoy working with the Vietnamese."
Today was his last briefing and almost his last day with the 173d.
Geoff McCarron is going home. Soon an attractive wife by the name of Margie will be at his side along with there three children. His next briefing will be at Harvard Graduate School of Business, Cambridge Mass early in September.
VN Driving Is Culture Shock
A vehicle population of 100,000-plus POV's, 500,000 "Hondas, Yamahas, Suzukis, 600,000 bicycles, 750,000 others", combined with a fleet of over 100,000 AMV's make defensive driving practices essential in Vietnam.
In addition to our past traffic safety experience, we must add another important ingredient to cope with local problems - an understanding of and an appreciation for the people who live here. Their way of life, history, culture and religions may seem strange to us, as our ways may seem to them. Sociologists refer to our condition as "culture shock". Simply stated it means that Americans find it difficult, if not impossible, to find a logical explanation, within our framework of experiences and environment, to Vietnamese driving habits.
There are however, cultural factors and historical influences which have a definite bearing on the Vietnamese approach to travel and transportation. As recently as 1965 there were relatively few motorized vehicles in this country. As you know, you do not learn to drive a vehicle by reading a book of instructions and practicing for a day or two, yet this is how most Vietnamese learn how to drive.
Another factor in accidents is religions. This is the fatalism that not only prevails in Vietnam but is also found throughout the Orient. This comes from both Confucius thought and Buddhism, which in their basic teachings, are fatalistic. This is seen in almost every area of life and especially evident in traffic.
These philosophies, relate that every one is born to suffer and has no control over it.
The religious aspects of the Vietnamese culture have a profound impact on their attitude on traffic. In this country, the dominent influence in all relationships is that of Confucius philosophy. In such a philosophy, there exists a stair-step type relationship which moves from the lowest peasant up the ladder to the president. Great emphasis is based on family relations. (This is often demonstrated, to our dismay, when we see the entire family on a Suzuki or Honda weaving merrily down the road.) In all of these relations, those individuals who are the most powerful, wisest, and richest naturally control those under them. This is a benevolent control. True, this does not always work out that way, but in the minds of the people this is the way it should be, and it carries over into their attitudes on driving.
There have been many instances where someone in a smaller vehicle caused an accident involving a larger vehicle. Invariably in these cases, bystanders will blame the driver of the larger vehicle. This attitude not only prevails towards Americans involved in an accident, but also applies to other Vietnamese.
These cultural and religious attitudes have a great influence on the way the Vietnamese drive, ride, and walk in traffic. They take off to have a good time, to go to work, and to go from one town to the next. They do this with a rather carefree (careless by our standards) air. If they make it, good! If they don't make it, well -- that's just life. Consequently, we are left in the position of having to be doubly careful. Since we know that accidents aren't just in hands of fate alone but in the hands of drivers, we have to drive carefully enough for two.
Believe Sleeve - He Does Know
LZ English -- If you're slated to return to the States and are going to get some of that "good old Ranger training," you are probably going to run up against Sgt 1C Bobby Trent -- better known as the "Sleeve."
Trent is a veteran Airborne Ranger from Statesville, NC, who received his nickname because of the running battle he wages against the subdued collar rank insignia. He prefers the pretty ones on the sleeve, hence he's the "Sleeve."
Sleeve has just finished his third year of front line combat in Vietnam. He's fought in War Zones C, D, and the Iron Triangle. He was at Khe Sanh when the NVA brought tanks in to assault the besieged camp.
His last assignment was as a Platoon Sergeant in E Troop, 17th Cavalry, which ranges through the An Lao Valley, the An Do Valley and many gullies of the Soui Ca Mountain Range - the stomping grounds of the 173d Airborne Brigade.
He has cheated death many times. His closest call was a B-40 rocket that hit within three feet of him. With shrapnel from the rocket digging beneath his skin, he continued to fight off the attacking communists.
While Trent's voice booms out in a deep Carolina accent, his men listen and learn. He learned his lessons the hard way and knows it's better to pass the information along to the men than have them learn the way he did. One of the Sleeve's most impressive talents is his expertise in calling and directing mortar and artillery fire. One time, in the Soui Ca Valley, Trent out did himself be calling in two separate missions at the same time on two different radios !
Army Has New Jacket
A new waist-length windbreaker jacket has been approved for optional purchase and wear over the short-sleeve summer uniform when a soldier is not in formation.The jacket is made from a treated polyester and cotton fabric - the same material used in Army Green shade 274 raincoat.
Insignia of rank is the only item authorized on the jacket. Officers and Warrant Officers will wear the insignia of rank on the shoulder loops. Enlisted men will wear subdued pin-on insignia of rank, with a white plastic backing on the collar.
The windbreaker will be available through the Army exchange and authorized civilian sales outlets in about two months. Cost is estimated between $10 and $12.
Dustoff Is Flying FLA
By Sgt John Grindlay
LZ English -- "When you're out in the boonies, it's sure good to know that if you get hit, a Dustoff will get you out in a few minutes," said Sp4 Robert Winkler, 19, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, as he watched a helicopter with a red cross lift off from the pad at LZ English in northern Binh Dinh Province.
The ship was from the 498th Medical Co. (Air Ambulance). Dustoffs from the same Company evacuate wounded troops from most of northern II Military Region. Everyone, the American GI, the Korean Soldiers, and even the VC/NVA has utilized these ships.
"We carry everything from bellyache to booby-trap victims, said Chief Warrant Officer (CWO) William Wollinger, 23, of Woburn, Ma, Aircraft Commander of Dustoff Three. "When we get more than one call at once, we have to decide which is most critical."
Since Dustoffs are not armed, they are a good target in the eyes of the enemy. On more than one occasion, a Pilot has found his ship being fired on from several directions. Since the Pilots are not supposed to risk their ships on "Hot" LZ's, they usually use Gunships to sweep a contact area before maKing their pickup. But the VC have often been known to wait until a Dustoff comes in before opening fire.
"We get really good ground support when we work with the 173d," said CWO Charles Clapp, 23, of' Dallas, Tx, the Co-Pilot of Dustoff Three, "but the VC around here will let you land in an LZ before they let anybody know they're there. Then they really cut loose. We had a ship get hit with an RPG. The whole ship went down in pieces."
Suddenly the phone in the crew's hootch rings. An urgent mission involving four seriously
wounded GI's has come up. the crew moves out to their ship. Wollinger stops long enough to check with the Dustoff operation desk and get the map coordinates of the destination. Quickly, the ship cranks up and lifts off.
Within five minutes, Wollinger is circling over the smoke of the distressed unit. The troops report no enemy activity. The four men were wounded by a booby-trap. The Dustoff moves in to land. It's a small LZ, they have to hover directly overhead, dropping straight down onto an old rice paddy. The fliers are tense, now is when the VC could easily destroy the ship. As four troopers run up to the aircraft carrying one of the wounded, Sp4 Peter Pius, the Medic aboard the chopper, a 20-year-old native of Detroit, Mi, jumps off with litters for the others. As the litters are loaded aboard, Pius and Sp5 Peter Torrano, 20, of Yonkers, N.Y., the Crew Chief and assistant Medic, help the patients as much as they can. Finally, all are aboard and the ship rises. Relieved to be off the bulls-eye, Wollinger speeds the ship to the medical detachment at LZ English.
Before the ship is near English, the stretcher bearers are waiting on the chopper pad to rush the patients inside. No sooner does Dustdff Three touch down, then the Sky Soldiers are quickly on their way to treatment.
The ship then moves off the pad into the area where it shuts down. As the blades spin to a halt, the crewmen take off their body armor and survival vests. CWO Clapp lights a cigarette. Pius and Torrano walk to the snack bar. Wollinger goes inside to check on the wounded men.
Later, after supper, they relax in their hootch. It's been an easy day, only four calls. Some days are better, some worse. But It's a job, an unusual job.
"You can go back to the States and know that you spent your time helping people instead of hurting them," concludes Wollinger.
Operation Brings Hope
GI Action Overshadows VC Promises
LZ North English - A young Vietnamese boy whose cleft palate disfigured his face and hindered his speech has found a new life, thanks to the efforts of American doctors. Xuan Ho was born with the defect. For years, the Viet Cong had promised him and his family that they would send him north for an operation. Their promises never materialized.
Then, the 173d Airborne Brigade's 4th Bn moved into Tam Quan District in northern Binh Dinh Province to support the Government of Vietnam's pacification program. The Paratroopers promised nothing, but gave the people of My Binh hamlet, where Xuan Ho lives, concrete proof of what could be done.
The 4th Bn's surgeon, Cpt Frank Elliott of Dallas, arranged for the lad to have the operation. The Civil Affairs Officer, Cpt Charles Glasscock, worked out the details with the family.
The Viet Cong knew what was happening in the hamlet, they turned to threats. Anyone who talked to the Americans or aided them in any way would be subject to reprisals. The hamlet dwellers ignored the VC threats.
When the young boy returned to the hamlet after his sucesssful operation, he was all smiles. The villagers decided to have a party to honor their American friends. The Americans had gave the Vietnamese something the VC had only promised, but couldn't deliver, medical help.
VC threats were issued again.
When the Americans arrived at the village, coconut juice flowed for all, except the VC. As Xuan Ho scurried up and down palms to gather the goodies for his friends, the boy's mother offered her thanks to the American doctor and Civil Affairs Officer.
Viet Cong threats didn't materialize, and the Vietnamese assured the two American Captains that the VC were gritting their teeth in the face of this defeat. Vietnamese local forces are near the hamlet now and will protect the hamlet from any future threat posed by their "new enemy".
Pill Day Called Off-Ubruptly !
LZ North English - A Stag Team from the 173d Airborne Brigade recently cracked one of the most unusual enemy secrets of the war - namely, which day the North Vietnamese soldiers gather for their weekly anti-malaria pill !
The team, from Co B, 4th Bn, 503d Inf, stumbled onto the pill-dispensing location and broke up the congregation of an estimated NVA squad, by killing one and capturing four along with fifteen bottles of Chloroquine tablets.
Early in the evening, the team led by Sgt Max J. Doyle, from Shelbyville, Ky, was patroling a suspected enemy encampment in Tam Quan District when his Kit Carson Scout, Nhon, spotted a communist running into a nearby bunker. Nhon gave chase, but the enemy soldier made it to the bunker which was almost completely hidden from view by the area's dense vegetation.
Creeping closer to the bunker, Nhon tossed a hand grenade into the stronghold, killing the first enemy soldier. When the scout entered the bunker he found several hand grenades and bottles of malaria pills.
Later in the night, Lt Col Robert C. Allen, Battalion Commander, was circling overhead in his command helicopter and observed an estimated fifteen NVA in the same area. Gunship helicopters were called into action, Artillery was also requested. It was the first time in over a year that artillery had been called into the area, about 10 kilometers south of the I Military Region border.
The following day, Sky Soldiers from the Battalion searched the area and killed one more enemy. He was caught in a rather compromising position in a rice paddy.
Apparently, the weekly anti-malaria pill, Big Orange, affects the North Vietnamese the same way it does Americans on Tuesday morning.
Heroic Deed Saves Squad
As darkness fell in northern Binh Dinh Province, a Squad from the 173d Airborne Brigade prepared to move out on a mission. Then, from the heavy vegetation came a squad of enemy troops. As the Americans hit the ground for cover, one man leaped to his feet and fired on the enemy troops to give his fellow Paratroopers cover. His reaction saved his buddies, but it cost Pfc Harold Cowan his life.
Sgt Burwell Russell, a 23-year-old native of Waverly, Texas, was getting his Squad ready to move out. All the men were packing their gear, when Russell heard something in the brush.
"It was a hidden trail," said Russell. "All of a sudden, it was full of NVA, one of them carried a machine gun."
This was when the men hit the dirt. Then Cowan, a native of Cahokia, Il, jumped up and fired. The enemy scattered and began firing at Cowan. After a short, fierce fire fight that killed two VC, Sgt Russell called in artillery on the fleeing enemy. Then they found Cowan, one of the rounds that he had drawn to keep his friends safe had taken his life.
"Hell, I was right out in the open," said Russell. "He drew their fire and kept the rest of us from getting killed." For his brave action, Cowan has been recommended for a Medal for Heroism.
Political Meeting Disrupted
LZ Uplift - Acting swiftly on an intelligence report, combined US and South Vietnamese forces brought a recent VC political meeting to an abrupt end. The local VC cadremen were forced to abandon most of their equipment and records as they sought to escape from a ring of fire and steel.
Shortly after receiving a report from a local intelligence source, MACV district advisers at LZ Orange in northern Binh Dinh Province relayed the message to the 3d Bn, 503d Inf for action. Within minutes, the 3d Bn had called for help from the gunships of 7th SQ, 17th Air Cavalry. As the 'Yellow Scarves', the Air Cav Troop began moving into the area, their Recon element reported sighting several VC washing and drying clothes in a small stream. Closing in for a better look, they observed what appeared to be a large base camp. The Recon choppers then backed off and called in the Cobras.
As the gunships raked the area with rocket and minigun fire, artillery from LZ Orange zeroed
in on the target. As soon as the Gunships had expended their ordnance, they whizzed off to reload. The artillery opened up with a barrage. As the rounds stopped falling, a forward air controller (FAC) marked the target for an airstrike. The jets roared in right behind him, blasting the entire area with cannon fire and an inferno of selective ordnance. Before the noise of the jets died, troops from Co D, 3d Bn, were spilling out of helicopters onto two LZ's. The Paratroopers moved quickly into the jungle, spreading out to cut off the retreat of any remaining enemy troops.
Results came soon.
A selective ordnance - scorched VC was found by following the sound of his moaning. A dead enemy soldier was found outside a gutted bunker. The base camp turned out to be a large complex of bunkers and hootches.
The Sky Soldiers, in an intense search of the area, captured numerous rucksacks. Chicom hand grenades and at least four pounds of documents. These documents were described as having significant value. But the real prize was considered to be a detainee, who, it is thought, may be able to aid district forces in their search for hidden enemy.
At any rate, local VC will not soon forget the surprise guests at their last political meeting.
Cat Wants ZZs But Gets Fight
In an unexpected maneuver one night last month, a fast-moving feline managed to leave his mark on a couple of cherry troops and gave everyone else in Cha Rang Valley a hot flash.
The two Paratroopers, Sp4 Gerald McLaughlin and Sp4 Glen Fosdick were on radio watch during their four-day stay at the Herd's Jungle School. They'd been told that the course was rigorous and demanding, but in their brief stay, they formed quite a different opinion.
McLaughlin was sleeping on top of a desk and Fosdick was doing the same in a chair when McLaughlin felt something furry walk between his legs, onto his stomach and sit down on his chest. Expecting to find "Short," the Brigade School's dog, he opened his eyes and discovered a member of the cat family resting comfortably.
The surprised trooper tried to knock the cat away and received a bite on his left hand for his pains. Fosdick woke up just in time to see the 35 pound beast sailing toward him. Undaunted 'Fearless' Fosdick engaged the intruder in hand to claw combat and like his namesake in the comic strip, got whipped. The cat slapped him on the face, leaving several deep scratches.
Under cover of the resulting confusion, the cat made his getaway. The two wounded men underwent 14 more days of misery by taking the Pasteur series of rabies shots. And the Jungle School has a new motto--"CATCH THAT TIGER!"
VC Taxes Irk People
LZ NORTH ENGLISH - In America, the term IRS (Internal Revenue Service) causes furtive glances. In South Vietnam, the term VCI (Viet Cong Infrastructure) evokes the same reaction.
The communists, especially the VCI, have for years heavily taxed the civilians against their will.
Terrorism and blackmail are favorite tools used by the VC tax collectors who travel between the villages and hamlets, forcing the people to finance a war they don't want to support.
Posing as a seamstress, farmer, or even housewife, these tax collectors are a shady lot, even raking a percentage of the illegal tax into their own pockets.
173d Airborne Brigade Soldiers have difficulty in seeing through their disguises. They've asked the Vietnamese National Police to give them the eyes and ears to see through the illegal tax dealings.
Usually two of the policemen are at each village and they intermingle with the people until they crack the cover of the Viet Cong financier.
After discovery, the culprit is evacuated to the district's headquarters where interrogators match up the facts and decide if the person in question is really a VCI or not. From that time on, if the suspect is found to be a VCI, his future is proportional to his cooperation. If none is forthcoming there are nice little jails in this country where these dissidents are placed.
Tango, Multi-Tour Ranger Vet
This Ranger has been in Vietnam for a long time. He's seen the jungles of War Zone C, the Central Highlands, and the Bong Son Plains. He's been with the 173d Airborne Brigade's Ranger Company since 1967. You might say he was a "Hoi Chanh."
He's a dog, and the men of November Rangers call him Tango. Tango has been the mascot of the Rangers since Staff Sgt Patrick Tadina picked him up in a Viet Cong base camp that had just been overrun in 1967 near Bien Hoa. Tadina took the pooch back with him, and the men adopted Tango as their mascot.
"Tango is one of us. He spends as much time observing in the C.O.'s chopper as any other man in the Company. If he were human, he would have the Air Medal with 10 Oak Leaf Clusters," says Staff Sgt Nat Turner, who now takes care of Tango. He assumed the duty after Tadina's DEROS.
"Tango moped around for a few days after Tadina left, but he soon perked up and began yapping away as usual," said Cpt Richard Green, the old C.O. of the Ranger unit.
Tango is just one of those mascots who has no DEROS. He will be around until he's old and gray, much to the delight of the Rangers. He may only be a dog, but like the man says, "he's one of us."
Paratroopers Chase Charles
LZ English, (RVN) - the Viet Cong used to be able to move with a free hand in northern Binh Dinh Province. Not so anymore, as the Paratroopers of the 173d Airborne Brigade recently demonstrated.
A reaction force composed of elements of 2d Bn, 503d Inf has been making multiple helicopter assaults and sweeps to chase a 50 man VC/NVA force that stumbled into the 173d's area of operation.
Delta Company, 2d Bn, 503d Inf, made heliborne assaults into northern Tam Quan District, Monster Mountain, southern Phu My District, to the west of Fire Base Kelly.
It was a long hard chase. Some of the men hadn't slept in three days. The persistance finally paid off, though. The VC/NVA were trapped in a geographic bowl west of Fire Base Kelly.
Delta and Charlie Companies, were lifted into blocking positions and the artillery and Air Force got into the act. The Redlegs at Kelly threw more than 500 rounds of high explosive projectiles onto the slopes. The Air Force had F-4 Phantom jets blasting the enemy position. Late that night a mini-gun firing AC-119 worked over the draws.
With dawn the Companies moved out. Charlie company moved down the slopes and set up blocking positions. They were in position to react as needed. D Co went down into the "Bowl". They scoured the area. Their finds for the campaign: destroyed weapons, an NVA flag, and a few bullet-ridden odds and ends, still the enemy had paid. He escaped the trap, but he buried a lot of his men to do it. The blood trails and drag marks tell that much.
After being chased relentlessly for five days, having every direction he turned to blocked, the enemy now knows it's dangerous to move. Times have changed. The NVA/VC are no longer safe when traveling.
Bn S-2 Pieces The Vast Intell Puzzle
LZ UPLIFT, (RVN) "Behind every good man, there's a good woman," goes the old saying "And behind every good line Battalion, you'll find a good intelligence section" says MSgt Walter Schwark, 38, of Hopkinsville, Ky. Sgt Schwark, is the Intelligence Sergeant for 3d Bn, 503d Inf, 173d Airborne Brigade at LZ Uplift.
Since most things concerned with the "Intell" section (S-2) are classified, one hears very little about S-2 outside the unit. Yet the success or failure of a line unit depends on the ability of the section to supply them with current, reliable information. The men in S-2 are not spies or saboteurs. Instead, they are men able to piece together the small bits of information gathered from local and other sources and fit them into the overall intelligence picture. This is then passed on to the Unit Commander for action.
Sp4 Jerry Hicks, 26, of Charlestown, W. Va, came to S-2 from 3d Bn, Recon. "With Recon, we just collected and passed on information. Here you can see how it's put together. You see how important it is to get it as complete and accurate as possible," said Hicks, who joined the section in April. From a small piece of information, properly interpreted, a Battalion Commander can plan and launch an operation that totally disrupts an enemy unit. Many times, quick response to an intelligence report has netted a victory for 3d Bn. In recent weeks, several enemy locations have been "set up" for the line troops by the section.
Pay High Price
Men Earn Success
LZ UPLIFT, (RVN) - "Everything has its price, and the price must be paid." True words, especially in the jungles of Vietnam. For some, the price is a year of tiring operations. For others, it is pain and injury. For Pfc Douglas Atkins, a 20 year-old Medic who arrived only recently in-country, the price of success was death.
On a search mission nine kilometers southwest of LZ English in northern Binh Dinh
Province, Elements of Co D, 3d Bn, 503d Inf, 173d Airborne Brigade engaged one enemy soldier in the thick brush.
Since darkness was rapidly approaching, the Paratroopers were forced to wait until morning before sweeping the area. With dawn, the Sky Soldiers moved out. Within a short time, they found themselves in an enemy base-camp. As Sgt John Leer, 21, of Koswick, Iowa, was leading an element on one side of the camp, a blast from the ground put him and his men out of the action. They had struck a booby-trapped rocket. Shrapnel struck Leer in the face and legs. Three other men, including Pfc Atkins, were also hit.
After the wounded were extracted, the men of Co D completed their search. In so doing, they discovered two complete US claymore mines, 2 US rockets, several B-40 rockets and a wide assortment of personal equipment. They also found a plastic bag containing documents.
The enemy had left the camp less than twelve hours before and in a hurry. Elated by their success, the men were extracted to LZ Uplift. There, their elation was dampened when they learned that Atkins was dead, despite all medical aid, including an emergency tracheotomy.
At times, the price of success seems high. Yet the men know it and face it. Because they know the job must be done and because they're men.
Water Speed Is Daring
LZ ENGLISH - "But the V-hull is nowhere near as good as the tunnel hull!" Strange words to hear in the boonies. But in Co C, 2d Bn, 503d Inf, 173d Airborne Brigade, it's a common thing to hear Sp4 David Hayden talk on and on about anything and everything to do with powerboat racing.
Before donning his army green, Hayden, a 20-year-old resident of Ferndale, Mi, was a constant competitor in many national boat racing events. In his last two years as a civilian, Hayden was a national champion in his class. Hayden has been involved in the sport since he was 14 years old. At first, he ran in wildcat races, spur of the moment things that took place every time six or seven boats got together. That was in Huron, Ohio. In one of these wildcats, Hayden had his first wreck. It was close to winter, and he was heavily dressed. The recently treated bottom of his flatbottomed boat crystalized and broke up. He found himself trying to swim in his winter jacket. After a brief struggle, he managed to get off the jacket and his heavy boots. Since then, the young racer has learned to wear a rubber wet-suit instead of heavy clothing.
After these early experiences, Hayden got into larger, better organized events. In 1967, he had his best year so far. In Wisconsin, he set a six-hour record for his class. In Celina, Ohio, he won the Governor's Cup race. Back in Wisconsin, he copped a first-prize of $3500, the most he's ever won in one race. He was named best in his class for that year and elected to the Gulf Marine Racing Hall of Fame. In 1968, he was again 1st in his class. The draft cut his career in the middle of the 1969 season. But Don Hayden is undaunted. He plans to pick up where he left off in 1971. A revolutionary design in a boat awaits him upon his return. A friend has designed a new type of racer that he wants Hayden to race.
Meanwhile, Hayden, an RTO in C Co, is passing the time making plans for his return to racing. He knows the long layoff will hurt him. But he's also confident of his ability to come back.
Asked about his worst experience, Hayden recalls another Ohio race. "We had eleven boats on the river between two breaker walls. There was a much slower boat in front of me, no real room to pass in an area like that. But I cranked up and tried to get around him. I had to cut back in behind him at the last moment and never had a chance to slow down. I cut his boat in half, mine jumped straight up in the air. It came down just right. Did't break up or swamp, it just landed on its belly and sat there."
When reminded of how far he is from boat racing, Hayden gets a funny glint in his eye.
"I've heard they have an outboard at the R&R beach at Lo Dieu," he says. "I wonder if I could get my hands on that!"
Westy Salutes 'Fightingest'
General William C. Westmoreland saluted the 173d Airborne Brigade as "One of the Fightingest Units in the History of the American Fighting Man."
Fighting the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese regulars requires a highly mobile combat force, able to adapt to an elusive enemy on his own grounds and conduct successful operations on coastal plains, dense jungles, rice paddies and rugged mountains of Vietnam. The 173d Airborne Brigade has proved itself to be just such a unit.
The 173d Airborne Brigade was organized from the 2nd Airborne Battle Group, 503d Infantry Combat Team on Okinawa, June 25, 1963. Activation of the 173d fulfilled plans to form the U.S. Army's hard-hitting, flexible strike force of the Pacific and Far East.
It was the admiring Chinese population on Taiwan, where the Brigade underwent Airborne training with the Nationalist Chinese Army, that gave the Paratroopers the name, "Tien Bing," or "Sky Soldier." The name stuck and is the proud nickname for the Paratroopers of the 173d Airborne Brigade.
In May 1965 the 173d loaded onto C-130's for deployment to Vietnam. Okinawa was left behind as the Brigade became the first Army combat unit to arrive in country. The 173d was considered to be the most combat ready American unit ever to enter an armed conflict.
The Brigade soon earned a reputation as the reaction force that deployed to areas where the fighting was the heaviest. Bien Hoa Air Base, the Mekong Delta, and War Zone D saw the 173d.
North of the Dong Nai River the Sky Soldiers trapped a main force VC regiment and killed 400. It was their first big combat action. Two missions, however, stand out from all the rest. The first occurred during February 1967, when the 2d Battalion made the first U.S. Combat Jump in 15 years to spearhead Operation Junction City. After the Parachute Assault deep into War Zone C near the Cambodian border and a massive heliborne assault of the other Battalion, the 173d swept its area, killing 266 enemy and destroying an important Viet Cong propaganda office.
The second mission was the assault up Hill 875 near Dak To. This was the largest and most celebrated single battle of the Vietnam Conflict. Twenty days of continuous bitter fighting ended finally on Thanksgiving Day, 1967, Hill 875 was taken by the 173d. Enemy deaths totaled over 800. The cost to the 173d was also high.
November 1967 found the "Herd" moving to An Khe. For almost three years the 173d had not found a home of its own. In March 1968, when the 173d replaced elements of the 4th Infantry Division in the Bong Son area, the Brigade found its home.
Pacification has been the role of the 173d since April, 1969. The most difficult task in Vietnam had again been given to the "Herd," in northern Binh Dinh Province. Some of the episodes to remember are Task Force Talon, the Battle of Hill 474, Blue Dragon in the Nui Mieu Mountains, and the attacks on Mahoney and Stinger.
August 10, 1970.
Project Washington Green is in the final stages of pacification in the 780-square-mile area of operation. Great strides have been made to help the Vietnamese people. The VC and NVA regulars have been stymied again and again in combined U.S. - Vietnamese combat operations. Civic action continues with new schools and buildings, tin roofs, irrigation pumps, and green crops as a few of the most evident changes.
The 173d is entering a new era of command, through self-help, the Vietnamese people have begun to realize their full potential to function as a free society. Continued civic action gives the people faith in their government's ability to provide security and develop a viable economy. Today, the 173d Airborne Brigade still performs the most difficult job in Vietnam: providing security for 300,000 people in Northern Binh Dinh, so that GVN pacification can progress. The success in terms of eeconomic growth and political stability is such that the Brigade's area of operations has been widely hailed as a "Showplace of Pacification."
Don't Make Your Buddy Walk - Please Let Em Ride
Some GI's aren't riding. It's not that they like to walk. It just happens that we have some lazy drivers in the Brigade. They don't want to go to the trouble of stopping to pick up a buddy.
"I spent well over an hour in an intersection trying to pick up a ride. Only four American vehicles passed, they just went right by me, too," says Sp4 Michael Lanning of the 3d Bn, 503d Inf.
Lanning was lucky, some Engineers who were working on the road let him eat lunch with them. Then he rode back on the chow truck. Sometimes it doesn't happen that way. Vietnam is no place to have to walk.
Pick up your buddy.
Floating Destruction Is the Fighting Saint
USS St Paul In Support Of The 173d Abn Bde
The heavy cruiser USS St Paul recently added another to her unique string of accomplishments when she passed by the eastern edge of the 173d Airborne Brigade's AO.
The vessel, a veteran of WW II and Korea, has operated in and out of Vietnam waters for the past four years. She won the Navy Unit Commendation for firing a record number of rounds in support of allied units in Vietnam.
Her five and eight-inch guns, which fired the last rounds from a naval unit in both WW II and Korea, can fire up to 20 miles. The fighting Saint has often been singled out for praise because of her accurate, dependable firing in Vietnam.
Any Sky Soldier who has seen the results of her salvos against "Sir Charles" will testify to the effectiveness of her role in Vietnam. She may be a leg, but with her long reach and devastating knock-out punch she sure is nice to have around.
Many Thanks to Gregg Corbin, C/3/503d, 9/69 - 9/70 who Contributed This Issue
FIRE BASE 173 is an authorized Army newspaper published biweekly by the 173d Airborne Brigade for military personnel.
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Address all communications to: Editor, FIRE BASE 173, 173d Airborne Brigade, APO 96250.