Vietnam II

 

  

 

Michael Belis

 

Bill Noyes

 

Andrew Alday

 

Herb Artola

 

Gadsden & Tucson

 

MG. Ruggles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Crum & Helmet

 

 

 

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Bob Babcock B/1-22 Nov. 65 -Aug. 67.

 
It was 35 years ago today - November 20, 2000 - (if not the exact date, it was the Monday before Thanksgiving) when this young broken legged second lieutenant walked into B Company, 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division and met for the first time 1SG Bob MacDonald, 1LT Sandy Fiacco, and PSG Frank Roath. Later in the day, I went to the battalion HQ building to meet with LTC Len Morley and caught my first wrath from CSM Clarence Arruda. Thus began my lifelong love affair with the 22nd Infantry Regiment and the 4th Infantry Division. Since you are all important parts of my life, and friends I made while serving together, I wanted to acknowledge my thanks to you for your friendship and the good training and help you gave me during the most memorable couple of years of my life. Attached is the story from my unpublished book that describes that first day in B/1-22:
Training at Fort Lewis, Washington
"What in the hell happened to you, Sir?," First Sergeant MacDonald growled as I hobbled into the Bravo Company orderly room. His tone of voice added to the gloom of that rainy, late November morning.
Two days earlier, Phyllis and I had arrived at our new duty station, Fort Lewis, Washington. Those first two days had been spent checking into post housing and doing the seemingly endless processing that comes with any new post assignment. Now I was ready for duty with my new unit, Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment of the 4th Infantry Division.
"I broke my leg in AIRBORNE School, First Sergeant," was my reply. He shook his head with a look of disgust on his face and motioned to a chair. "Have a seat, Sir. The Old Man will be with you in a minute," he said as he disappeared into the Company Commander's office. Soon he reappeared and said, "Lieutenant Fiacco will see you now." I got up, hobbled in to the CO's office, and gave my best salute as I stood at attention in front of the "Old Man's" desk.
Lieutenant Fiacco was a slender, sandy haired, athletic looking first lieutenant. He left me standing at attention as he eyed me up and down. I stood as tall and as rigidly as my six foot two inch frame would hold me. With a very stern look on his face he asked, "What in the hell happened to your leg, Babcock?" Once again I responded with how my leg had been broken. He replied, "I don't need a lieutenant with a broken leg, what good are you to me?"
In my best military voice, still braced firmly at attention I responded, "Sir, I can walk on my walking cast, I will put a plastic bag over it to keep it dry, and will do everything I can to do my job over the next month as my leg heals. I will not let you down, Sir." Still staring sternly at me, he responded, "Have a seat, Lieutenant."
I sat on the front edge of my chair as he started my orientation to the company. "The company is terribly under strength. In fact, we only have 40 of our authorized 180 men assigned. With all the things that have to be done around here, we are lucky to be able to muster enough men from the entire battalion to do any decent training."
Lieutenant Fiacco continued, "There is a strong rumor going around we are scheduled to get a large group of replacements right after the first of the year. That should really keep us busy."
"Babcock, you are going to be the platoon leader of the third rifle platoon. Your authorized strength is 43 men but there are only eight now. Sergeant Roath has been running the platoon for the past six months."
He continued, "Sergeant Roath is good, you can learn a lot from him. He is a combat veteran and was a prisoner of war in the Korean War. He will stay in the platoon and be your platoon sergeant. One word of caution, he does not like second lieutenants. I want you to learn from him and not get in there and screw things up. Any questions?"
After I had asked all the questions I knew to ask, he called First Sergeant MacDonald back in. "Get Sergeant Roath down here so he can take Lieutenant Babcock upstairs to his platoon area." Sergeant Roath soon appeared in the CO's office. He was blond with the ruddy complexion of a man who spent a lot of time in the elements. He stood about the same height as Lieutenant Fiacco, 5'9" was my guess.
My uneasiness was multiplied as I looked at his "Indian Head" Second Infantry Division patch on his right sleeve and his Combat Infantryman's Badge (CIB) above his left fatigue shirt breast pocket. (A unit patch is worn on the right sleeve only when you have served in combat with that unit. CIB's were a rarity in those days since it had been over twelve years since the end of our last war).
He had an obvious look of scorn on his face as he sized me up and focused on the cast on my right leg. For the third time in less than an hour I got the same opening comment, "What in the hell happened to you, Sir?"
We walked in silence from Lieutenant Fiacco's office and up the stairs toward our platoon area. He finally broke the silence with, "Lieutenant, if you get any of my men killed in combat, I'll kill you."
And "that" was the beginning of my first day with Bravo Company, First Battalion, Twenty Second Infantry Regiment of the Fourth Infantry Division. My name and "hell" had been mentioned three times in the same sentence and I had an offer to be killed. Having heard enough stories about how new, green second lieutenants are treated when they join their first unit, I was not devastated by their treatment but I sure was uncomfortable and apprehensive about what lay ahead.
By the end of January 1966, my leg had healed and was back at full strength. The rumor Lieutenant Fiacco had heard was true and my platoon was filled, overnight, with 48 men, most of them fresh out of basic training and ready for Advanced Individual Training (AIT). Our entire brigade was filled with troops to "train and retain". Even though it was unofficial, we all felt certain we would be in Vietnam before the summer was over.

 

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Michael Belis C/1-22   - 1970

The Sniper

C Co., 1/22, stayed in the jungle between An Khe and Kontum for nearly four months in late 1970. We humped everything on our backs, finding or making a clearing every 4 or 5 days for re-supply by chopper. High in the mountains we took water from the streams, adding purification tablets and lots of Kool Aid. At times we would come across nothing but water too foul to use, or no water at all. Then the slicks would sling huge black rubber blivets with potable water and bring them with the re-supply. At one LZ on the top of a ridge line, a couple of hours after we had received our re-supply, Utah and I were detailed to fill the canteens for our squad. The LZ had been cut by hand and blown with C-4 by us and Engineers who had been flown out to help. The blivet was at one end of the LZ, next to a large pile of cut down limbs and branches and tree trunks. As we were filling canteens, a sniper in the opposite tree line fired a shot that literally went right between me and Utah. We dove into the pile of limbs just as his second shot cracked overhead. His third shot smacked into the limbs and made us burrow deeper into the tangle of branches, nearer to the ground. The guys in the tree line on our side of the LZ yelled out to stay put. But we weren't going anywhere. We each had a rifle and a bandoleer of ammo, a pack of cigarettes, all the water we wanted, and were behind excellent cover. We figured to stay there all day, no problem.

About 20 minutes to half an hour later we heard brush breaking in the jungle at our end of the LZ, halfway to the sniper's treeline. Then a lot of brush breaking, and even chopping and hacking. Then a whole lot of shouted curses. It was the unmistakable voice of Livingston, our squad leader for 1st squad. He was a Southern boy and we Southern boys have a knack for colorful language, but Livingston was teaching us all a few new things in the stuff he was yelling. Utah and I laughed till we cried, for we knew what had happened. Livingston had led the rest of the squad around the LZ to go get the sniper, but had run into growth so thick they couldn't get through it. It really upset him to not be able to get that NVA.

After things quieted down the sniper popped off another round, just to let us know he was still there. Half an hour or so after that, the guys yelled out to us to get ready to run toward our side of the LZ. They were calling in artillery on the opposite tree line, and would lay down cover fire with M-60's for us. They would hold fire long enough for us to make it to the safety of the trees. Four M-60 machine guns opened up and when they stopped the guys started yelling but we were already up and running. The last twenty feet I flew through the air, landing on my stomach next to a gunner from 2nd Platoon who had resumed firing before I hit the ground. Not but a few seconds later the artillery began impacting on the far side of the LZ. Sometime after it finished, an L-T led a patrol but found neither hide nor hair of the sniper.

Livingston was something else. He had once run right up to a dink in a spiderhole and shot the man in the head from only a few feet away. Only a couple of months before the sniper at the LZ, Livingston had taken a hit in the arm from a claymore booby trap, and a few weeks later was back humping the bush again. I still smile when I remember how frustrated he was to not be able to get through that brush and get that sniper.

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The Pig Lady

Dick Donnelly, HQ/1-22 VN remembers this story: It was in the spring of 1967 and 1-22 Infantry “Regulars” were operating out of the 1st Brigade command post in a place called Jackson’s Hole, not to be confused with Jackson’s Hole, Wyoming.  It was towards the end of the dry season and everything that did not move collected a thin coat of red dust. In fact, even if you did move you looked a little rusty from the dust.  In addition to the operations of the line companies, the battalion sent out routine patrols and medcaps in and around the local Montagnard hamlets.  A Medcap was an operation designed to help the “friendly civilians” by giving them medical care and “goodies”  which consisted of C-rations and excess sundry packs.  A sundry pack contained cigarettes, soap, shaving materials and the GI’s favorite, tropical chocolate bars.  These chocolate bars would not melt in a 350 degree oven and were mostly used for restoring the leather on worn jungle boots. 

One bright morning, a medcap composed of the S-5 (Dick Donnelly), battalion surgeon Doc Howie Shiele, a couple of medics, and a squad of infantry set out for a hamlet about six kilometers from the Brigade CP.  On arrival, they setup shop and began tending to the Montagnards.  We dispensed all of the goodies which had filled the back of a three quarter ton truck.  Dr. Shiele examined a large number of children while the medics cleaned up minor cuts, abrasions, and skin infections.  A couple tetracycline tablets and liberal amounts of bacitracian  ointment worked miracles.  The team would inspect the hamlet for signs of MVC (Montagnard Viet Cong) activities 

and question the villagers who always feigned ignorance of their presence.

Just before leaving, one of the men who was taking pictures of the hamlet said that he had found an old woman who looked to be living with the hogs in the pig sty.  It turned out that this lady, although a member of the hamlet, had no relatives to take care of her.  She looked to be quite old, which for a Montagnard would be between forty and fifty years old.  She had built herself a small “hooch” inside the sty fence and lived off the scraps that were fed to the hogs.  A quick examination by Doc Shiele revealed a very large and deep infectious wound in her right buttock.  This poor human being was filthy, her hair matted with dirt. She wore the standard Montagnard female dress, which consisted of an ankle length black skirt and not much else.  Dr. Shiele and the medics took her to a nearby stream and gave her a bath.  Montagnards are very modest people and naturally she protested violently, but what can a four and a half foot tall woman do against two six foot medics.  After she was cleaned up, she was given an antibiotic shot and the wound  was packed with bactracian ointment. As a reward, she was given a large GI tee shirt and all the tropical chocolate bars she could eat. 

The S-5 and Dr. Shiele cut a deal with the hamlet chief to care for the woman.  In exchange for ten cases of C-rations and sundry packs, he would make sure that she had a hut to live in and somebody would care for her.   The chief was given a bottle of tetracycline pills and told to give the woman one pill when the sun rose, one when it was high in the sky, and one when it went down.  He was also promised more C-rations and clothing.  The “Regulars” operated in that area for three more weeks, then returned to the Oasis. 

During the remainder of their stay the Pig Lady, as she became known, was checked frequently.  She gained weight and her infection healed.  The people of the hamlet were given a lot of discarded clothing and jungle boots and became very friendly with the medcap team when it was in their area.  They also passed on a lot of intelligence on VMC and NVA activity, a small bit of which was useful.  A short while before his DEROS, the S-5 had a chance to get back to the 

and question the villagers who always feigned ignorance of their presence.

Just before leaving, one of the men who was taking pictures of the hamlet said that he had found an old woman who looked to be living with the hogs in the pig sty.  It turned out that this lady, although a member of the hamlet, had no relatives to take care of her.  She looked to be quite old, which for a Montagnard would be between forty and fifty years old.  She had built herself a small “hooch” inside the sty fence and lived off the scraps that were fed to the hogs.  A quick examination by Doc Shiele revealed a very large and deep infectious wound in her right buttock.  This poor human being was filthy, her hair matted with dirt. She wore the standard Montagnard female dress, which consisted of an ankle length black skirt and not much else.  Dr. Shiele and the medics took her to a nearby stream and gave her a bath.  Montagnards are very modest people and naturally she protested violently, but what can a four and a half foot tall woman do against two six foot medics.  After she was cleaned up, she was given an antibiotic shot and the wound  was packed with bactracian ointment. As a reward, she was given a large GI tee shirt and all the tropical chocolate bars she could eat. 

The S-5 and Dr. Shiele cut a deal with the hamlet chief to care for the woman.  In exchange for ten cases of C-rations and sundry packs, he would make sure that she had a hut to live in and somebody would care for her.   The chief was given a bottle of tetracycline pills and told to give the woman one pill when the sun rose, one when it was high in the sky, and one when it went down.  He was also promised more C-rations and clothing.  The “Regulars” operated in that area for three more weeks, then returned to the Oasis. 

During the remainder of their stay the Pig Lady, as she became known, was checked frequently.  She gained weight and her infection healed.  The people of the hamlet were given a lot of discarded clothing and jungle boots and became very friendly with the medcap team when it was in their area.  They also passed on a lot of intelligence on VMC and NVA activity, a small bit of which was useful.  A short while before his DEROS, the S-5 had a chance to get back to the

 

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Bill Noyes, B/2-22 wrote:

The contribution to history by most individuals, except those glorified individuals, are overlooked and easily forgotten. A case in point is B/2-22's Neil Scuderi of 3-1 squad. He killed 40 plus enemy in a brief minute or two. No award or recognition was given and I suspect I know the reason - a draftee with a FTA attitude.

Scuderi (Scooter) had instigated the mounting on 3-1 track of a 30 caliber mini-gun which he had scrounged from a chopper company in Dau Tieng four or five months before. Finally, on the night of June 9 (maybe it was early that morning) of 1969, while he sat guard, he also proved its effectiveness. Scooter spotted movement behind a paddy dike, 20 - 30 yards to his left front and alerted our battalion perimeter. Then seeing more movement a few minutes later, his mini-gun screamed its longest ever burst. I watched from the 3 - 4 track to the left of his as the tracer stream lit up the dike, though even then I saw no sign of the enemy. Either discipline or fear kept them from responding and revealing their positions. The fight was on and lasted several hours but except for two RPG launches I didn't notice any return fire. I guessed our attackers were no more than a fire team or squad, though there was constant fire from a far woodline at the gunships making their runs.

In the morning sweep of the area, we were surprised to count 48 dead behind the small dike in front of the 3 - 1 and 3 - 4 tracks. Overall count was 51 with 2 POW's. Though the battalion was totally involved in the fight that night, receiving one dead and maybe a couple wounded from mortars and RPG's, I have always viewed it because of the lack of return fire as the closest thing to a one man victory that I ever saw.

For Neil Scuderi, "Deeds Not Words" led to anonymity in the OR-LL for the 25th Division but the principle he proved, firepower dominates, was, I think, an important legacy of the Vietnam war. Firepower, not negotiated settlement, would win the peace on the battlefield.

 

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Andrew Alday, A/3-22 wrote :

In may of '94 at the Vietnam Veterans of Maui County Memorial day picnic at the 4th Marine Division park here on Maui, I was asked by a friend and fellow Vietnam Vet, if I would consider accompanying 2 other Vet buddies on a visit back to Vietnam. After about a week of very serious contemplation, I agreed to go to Vietnam with the 2 of them. Our departure date was tentatively scheduled for around the end of Sept. so I began the task of applying for my U.S. Passport and Entry Visa with the Vietnamese Consulate in Mexico City. After all the required paper work was in order, we eventually flew out of Honolulu International Airport on the 26th of Sept.

We arrived in Saigon on the afternoon of the 27th, and spent the remainder of the day just acclimating. All hotel accommodations and ground travel were arranged in advance through a friend on Oahu who works for a travel agency. On the morning of the 28th, we proceeded by mini-van to Cu Chi, on through the villages of Trang Bang and Go Dau Ha, and finally to Tay Ninh. We noticed many Memorials and cemeteries along the way! At Tay Ninh, we went to the famous Cao Dai Temple, as many 25th Vets will probably remember! After staying for the noonday ritual, we finally said our good-byes to some former friends and went on to Nui Ba Den, "the Black Virgin Mountain".

Having spent about 2 months of my tour of duty on "Nui", it was a very spiritual experience to be back in her "shadow"! We climbed up to where they, the Vietnamese, had built a monument to their victory. We moved down a small path to where there was a few small "hooch's" and we could look east and south towards the 2nd brigade A.O. What a beautiful sight! The land was as green and "quiet" as many of us had imagined, if not for the war going on! After leaving "Nui", we headed northeast towards the village of Suoi Da, the 'ol V.C. market- place.

There is a hydroelectric dam and irrigation system where our 'ol Dau Tieng basecamp used to be. I took some pictures and video as well, just to show how it's changed since we were there. Eventually we headed back to Saigon for the evening and went to a great noodle (pho') shop not far from our hotel, and for drinks at Bodart's on Dong Khoi street, formerly Tu Do. Then settled in for the night.

The next day, the 29th, we headed on up to Ben Cat and Lai Khe, where one of my friends was a "Grunt" with the 1st Infantry Division. After crossing the Dong Nai river it was all new to me! We continued up to Ben Cat, where we enjoyed a noonday meal of "banh mi thit heo", or Vietnamese pork sandwich and sodas. Next we came to The "Big Red One" basecamp of Lai Khe where my friend had been stationed back in '66 & '67. We found the remains of his old bunker and also some old "c-ration" tin and soldier detritus as well.

After leaving Lai Khe, we went further north to the 'ol village of Ben Suc. As many might remember, this was the village that was "cleared-out" during operation Junction City, in 1967. It had been suspected of being the C.O.S.V.N. (Central Office for South Vietnam) headquarters during the war. We tried to cross the Saigon river there but it was a bit too shallow so we decided to go back towards the village of Binh Duong and cross there.

Next we went by the 'ol Boi Loi woods, the place is still "creepy", and on to the tunnel complex there. I didn't go through the Tunnels! I was too big to be a Tunnel Rat back then, and still too big now, as well as a bit heavier!!! but I did go to the museum and saw all their propaganda bullroar as well. I just laughed out loud which seemed to really tick a number of them off! "As if I really gave a damn!" So I took a stroll across the street to a hootch where there were 2 lovely ladies who where selling ice cold beer, and enjoyed myself until my friends finally showed up.

After traveling south through the Cu Chi district, we went on to Saigon for an evening of Dining and Drinking. My friend from the "Big Red One" accepted an invitation from a student friend whom he had taught English, to take us to a "specialty" restaurant. As we app- roached the entrance we found out why it was called a "specialty" restaurant! All they served was snake, monkey, dog, frog, bats and other "creepy crawlies"! We opted for the Cobra snake which was beheaded at our table! We were offered a carafe of rice wine which was mixed with the blood of the cobra. It's supposed to increase health and vitality, but all I've really noticed is "scaling" on my posterior! The snake was cooked 2 ways, and it was quite delicious but I think rattlesnake is better! After imbibing quite a few beers and shots of the snake "juice" we went back to our hotel for the evening.

On the morning of the 30th, we left Saigon for the coastal city of Nha Trang. We traveled up highway 1 and passed many interesting sights along the way. Up near Xuan Loc, as we were looking at a place called "V.C. Hill", I noticed some movement to my right near a stand of small rubber trees. Out of the rubber trees come a platoon of N.V.A.! Complete with AK's, RPG's and mortars! As you can probably imagine I started reaching around for my imaginary "M-16" and started stuttering "stu stttuu stuuu"(my friends name is Stu) and he just laughed and said "the war's over Andrew!". He'd already been through that, and being his 6th trip back, was expecting my reaction to the NVA! As we passed them by, they just waved and yelled hello, not "daz vhedanya" which is the Russian greeting. So they certainly knew that we were Americans and not Russians!

After passing the former airbase of Phan Rang and Phan Thiet we eventually came to the city of Nha Trang. It is a truly beautiful city on the coast of Vietnam on the south china sea. Everyone that we met were extremely friendly and polite. We stayed at the Vien Dong hotel about 200 meters from the beach. The rooms and service were of good quality and it was a great 2 days that we stayed there. On the morning of the 2nd of October, I awoke to the sound of a fierce, badass firefight! Actually it was a wedding ritual meant to scare away the evil demons of bad luck for the newlyweds, but ended up scaring this 'ol "Grunt" as well!!!

Northward we traveled, through the provinces of Binh Dinh, Quang Nai, Quang Nam and on to Da Nang. In Da Nang we stayed with a charming family of 5 at their guesthouse near the Da Nang oceanfront. Being that we all live in Hawaii, we eat mostly Asian food anyway, so eating Vietnamese cuisine was really a matter of choice not necessity. I truly "gorged" myself on platters of fried shrimp and crab, tons of steamed and fried rice and lots of beer and bottled water.

We went to the village of Dai La where we took some school items such as pens, pencils, notebooks, crayons, sketchpads and such, to a schoolhouse near where one of my friends had been stationed as a Marine with one of their units there. The teacher and the students could not believe their eyes when we arrived with all the school stuff. We made so many friends that day because most of the village turned out to meet us, including the village chief! Next we went to the "Peace Village" (Lang Hoa Binh) that was built by the East meets West foundation with the financial aid of many many Vietnam Vets such as Oliver Stone and many more too numerous to mention.

Onward to Marble Mountain and a tour of the caverns there, with an eventual stop for lunch at the famous "China Beach"! After a wonderful 2 1/2 day stay in Da Nang, we headed back down south to Nha Trang for the last leg of our tour. I had to stop at Chu Lai where I had lost a cousin with the Marines in '67. A Silver Star recipient, it was truly an honor to stand where he had died back during the war, I MISS HIM DEARLY!

I bought many fine items of marble and a few lacquer boxes for friends at some very cheap prices,as well as some neat gifts and curios while in Saigon. You can find almost anything that's for sale in Asia, in Vietnam as well, at some truly bargain prices. We returned to Saigon on the 8th of October where I enjoyed one last night with "new" and old friends, even got to enjoy that 'ol war rush "siklo-racing" down the streets of Saigon! Some things never change!!!!!

I left Vietnam on the morning of the 9th and eventually made my way home to Maui. Even now when I look at the pictures and the videos, I can't believe that I really did it! Somehow for me, when I left Vietnam during the war, it never really had ended. I felt as though many of my friends and comrades were still there fighting and I should have been there with them! Going back after 27 years, I was truly able to put the "ghosts" to rest and move on with my life. I have absolutely no regrets about going back to Vietnam again. It has truly helped me in coping with the residual effects of combat, AKA; Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and most importantly in reconciling with myself that what I did was serve my country in the noblest of ways, fighting a war that it did not intend or knew how to win!

What greater patriotism does any man have than a man who will fight for his country regardless of the politics! I plan to go back eventually as I now have many new friends and experiences to enjoy. The war is truly over for me now, and I owe it to the many Veterans of that war to tell of my return visit there and to hopefully help them in their recovery as well. To tell them that almost all the people that I met in Vietnam have put the war behind them and forgiven everyone who fought on their land. Now it is time to forgive ourselves as well!

In Comradeship, Andrew Alday "A" co, 3rd/22nd Infantry Reg., 25th Infantry Division Vietnam, III Corps, '68 & '69

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Herb Artola, D/HQ/E/3-22 Wrote :

Fire for Effect !

It was the big combat leadership test they told you about in the Infantry Officer's Basic Course at Fort Benning. With 15 months in the Army, 3 months in grade as a First Lieutenant, and 6 weeks in country, I was acting company commander of Delta Company, 3d Battalion, 22d Infantry.

My company commander, Captain Pat Wright, had just been medivac'd with malaria. The Battalion Commander, LTC Hubert Bartron, took 1LT. Sonny Tuel's 1st Platoon for some detached mission, but I still had my own 2nd Platoon and 1LT Bill Alsup's 3d Platoon. All together, with the company headquarters, maybe 50-60 GIs. A pretty good number for my first independent command.

After several days, we discovered a well-used trail with signs of recent use. Another trail branched off at right angles, forming a "T" in the jungle. After moving 100 meters down the "stem," the point squad leader reported hearing voices, hammering, sawing, and trees being felled. Obviously a bunker complex under construction only a few hundred meters away. And they didn't know we were there! After a quick council of war, it was decided to pull back on line along the main trail, the cross of the "T" and to use artillery to drive the NVA toward our ambush.

Battalion concurred with the plan and arranged for an 8" howitzer battery to be in direct support. Carefully, we moved into position. Claymore mines guarded our flanks and rear and all four M-60 machine guns were spread out with interlocking fields of fire. A perfect ambush, right out of Ranger School. All my training and experience were coming together in one classically executed small-unit action. Lieutenant Norm Lyde, our artillery forward observer, plotted the approximate location of the suspect bunkers and added a couple of hundred of meters for the initial "battery one." Subsequent volleys would be dropped 50 meters each to force the NVA into our arms. Once the adjustments reached the area of the bunker complex, the guns would fire 18 rounds for effect. We were basically on the gun-target-line so "danger close" for the big, but accurate, 8" shells in the triple canopy jungle would be 200 meters in front of our line.

Once all was ready, I nodded to Norm who gave the command to fire. In the distance a muffled boom. Suddenly the freight train rumble-whoosh of six 8" HE shells flying overhead, crashing through the tree tops, and exploding in the distance. So far, so good. As Norm walked the artillery in toward us, the explosions became noticeably louder and more immediate and we began to hear occasional "splash" passing over our heads in the trees around us. Sometimes, something would fall through the canopy onto the jungle floor nearby. At first, our attention riveted in the direction of imminent contact, we paid little attention to the shells passing over or the shrapnel passing the other way.

When the adjustments reached the bunker complex, Norm gave the command, " Fire for effect." As 18 rounds exploded within about 300 meters of our line, the "splash" definitely increased and people started to hunker down and intently look toward the direction from which we reckoned the NVA would come. Abruptly, the firing ceased and, except for a random branch falling, it became eerily quiet.

Smoke and the smell of explosives drifted toward our position. No sound or sign of movement in front or to the flanks. One minute. Two minutes. Three minutes. Four minutes. Where were those damn NVA? Nothing. Nothing, except a strange humming, buzzing coming from the right flank. What was it? Some unknown danger?

As it grew louder, we looked at each other quizzically. Turning to the right, I watched a bizarre unplanned, unchoreographed movement as one by one my men turned on their backs and looked toward the canopy. As the noise grew louder, I realized it sounded like a swarm of angry bees. No. Very, very angry bees, maybe wasps. Slowly traveling in a large, if hidden swarm somewhere directly over our heads. Were they turning around after "trooping" our line? Damn, they were.

Well, it was time for this infantry officer, this green-tabber, this acting company commander to make a decision: "Quietly, quickly, pull in the claymores, saddle up, and get ready to move out." As I reported the failure of our ambush to Battalion, I was relieved to receive orders to move toward a possible NVA radio transmission site away from the suspected bunkers and away from the angry bees.

As we moved out, Norm Lyde smilingly asked for an damage assessment to give to the supporting artillery battery. I told him to report numerous trees damaged and one NVA beehive destroyed with unknown enemy casualties. I'm not sure he made that report. I didn't have anything else to say about my first independent combat action.

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Operation GADSDEN and TUCSON CHAPTER IX 


The Warm-Up Tosses: GADSDEN and TUCSON 
Twenty days before the beginning of JUNCTION CITY preliminary operations were 
started by the 25th Infantry Division under code name Operation GADSDEN. Twelve 
days later, on 14 February 1967, the 1st Division's Operation TUCSON jumped off. 
The primary objective of these operations was the positioning of men and 
mate-riel on the western and eastern flanks of the JUNCTION CITY operational 
area; however, they would become significant in their own right.


Operation Gadsden
Officially classified as a search and destroy operation, GADSDEN employed two 
brigades of the U.S. 25th Infantry Division under the command of Major General 
Frederick C. Weyand. Involved were the 3d Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, 
commanded by Colonel Marshall B. Garth, and the 196th Light Infantry Brigade, 
Brigadier General Richard T. Knowles commanding.
The GADSDEN area of operation was some thirty kilometers northwest of Tay Ninh, 
in the vicinity of Lo Go and Xom Gina, South Vietnamese villages on the 
Cambodian border. (Map 9) The terrain is generally flat and the vegetation 
ranges from rice fields to triple-canopy jungle. During the operation grasslands 
in the area were as tall as six feet. There was some heavy mud in paddy areas, 
but most of the previously flooded positions had dried, thus facilitating 
overland movement. Weather was favorable for the operation.
Before the operation it was suspected that elements of the 271st and 272d Viet 
Cong Regiments, 70th Guard Regiment, 680th Training Regiment, and miscellaneous 
elements subordinate to the Central Office of South Vietnam-including several 
medical units-might be encountered. According to intelligence sources, Lo Go was 
a major supply center of the Viet Cong forces where shipments from Cambodia were 
transferred to local units. Therefore, the area of operation was believed to 
contain extensive supply and ammunition caches, communications storage areas, 
hospital facilities, base camps, and major training complexes. In addition, 

personnel and supply routes to and from Cambodia were expected to be found.
The plans stipulated that Operation GADSDEN be conducted in several phases. 
During Phase I, forces would be positioned for the attack with combat elements 
established as close to the operational area as Trai Bi. Phase II, starting on 
D-day, would include a two-brigade attack to the west to seize two intermediate 
objectives, secure landing zones, and establish fire support bases. This would 
be followed by attacks on Lo Go and Xom Giua. Other objectives would be 
designated later. Search and destroy missions would be conducted in the zone, 
and blocking positions would be established to seal infiltration and 
exfiltration routes along the border during Phase III. During the last phase the 
units would expand the area of operation to the southeast to search for and 
destroy enemy forces and base camps.
Using a combination of airmobile assaults and attacks by mechanized battalions, 
the operation went as planned. During the 20-day duration of GADSDEN, the 
fighting was typified by small unit actions. Even though the fortifications 
encountered were extensive and many were capable of withstanding very heavy 
artillery and air strikes, the enemy chose not to stand and fight but rather to 
employ guerrilla tactics.


Evidence was uncovered to confirm that in the operational area were located a 
training area for main force Viet Cong units which included an obstacle course 
and an elaborate land navigation course; a rest and recuperation center 
including numerous medical facilities and supplies, as well as a 100-gallon 
still with 2,000 gallons of mash and 50 bottles of alcohol; an ordnance facility 
for fabricating and storing bombs, artillery rounds, and grenades; and numerous 
caches of food and other material. Also identified in the area were the postal 
transportation section, the current affairs section, and the military staff 
directorate of the Central Office of South Vietnam. Captured documents and 
ralliers identified elements of the 3d Battalion? 271st Viet Cong Regiment; the 
3d Battalion, 70th Viet Cong Regiment; the 680th Training Regiment; and a 
medical unit subordinate to the Central Office.
In addition to confirming the location of various units and installations in the 
area, GADSDEN inflicted some fairly significant losses upon the enemy. His 
casualties totaled at least 161 killed and 2 captured. He lost 26 weapons, 390 
tons of rice (of which 50 percent was evacuated), salt, sugar, tea, soap, 
cigarettes, and 550 pounds of documents. Five hundred fifty huts, 590 bunkers, 
and 28 sampans were destroyed, as were numerous items of explo- 
sives and ammunition. U.S. battle losses were 29 killed and 107 wounded.
GADSDEN also accomplished its primary mission of positioning troops and supplies 
for JUNCTION CITY. The chances of success for that operation were bolstered by 
the opinion expressed by Colonel Garth: "GADSDEN proved the ability of 
mechanized units to operate in heavily vegetated terrain and that U.S. forces 
have the capability of moving at their desire within War Zone C."


Operation Tucson


TUCSON was a 1st Infantry Division operation employing the 1st Brigade under 
Colonel William B. Caldwell and the 3d Brigade under Colonel Sidney M. Marks. 
The triangular-shaped area of operations was located in the southwestern corner 
of Binh Long Province; the town of Minh Thanh was at the north corner, Bau Long 
on Route 13 at the east corner, and the eastern edge of the Michelin Plantation 
at the western corner. (Map 10) The terrain is gently rolling with the 
differences in elevation varying less than 
forty meters. Cross-country movement is generally good along the edges of the 
area and along the main roads, Routes 239, 242, and 245. The other areas, 
moderate to dense jungle, are unsuitable for vehicular traffic and poor for foot 
traffic.
The area was believed to be an enemy sanctuary containing numerous storage sites 
and base camps. In addition, it was this area, part of the Long Nguyen secret 
zone, which contained a portion of the "northern rice route," the major 
logistical and troop channel between War Zones C and D. Enemy units believed to 
be operating in the area included elements of the 272d Regiment and the Phu Loi 
Battalion. Other Viet Cong units included the Ben Cat District (local force) 
Company and one local force platoon from Chon Thanh. Elements of the Binh Long 
Province and Chon Thanh District Committees were also thought to be in the area.
The plan called for the 1st Brigade to employ a cavalry squadron to attack south 
from Minh Thanh along Provincial Routes 13 and 242 to secure a position in the 
center of the operational area. One battalion of mechanized infantry would sweep 
southwest from Minh Thanh on Route 245 along the edge of the triangular area, 
taking up blocking positions in a 15-kilometer arc along Route 245 and in the 
northeastern portion of the Michelin Plantation. Two battalions of infantry 
would then attack southwest from Minh Thanh between the positions of the cavalry 
and mechanized forces and conduct search and destroy operations. On the east, 
under the control of the division's 3d Brigade, a second cavalry squadron (3d of 
the 5th Regiment of the U.S. 9th Division) would attack north along Route 13 to 
Bau Long, then turn to the west for eight kilometers, establish a blocking 
position, and conduct search and destroy operations. Two infantry battalions 
would make an airmobile assault into landing zones on the southern edge of the 
operational area between the 3d of the 5th's blocking position and the eastern 
corner of the Michelin Plantation. From there they would search and destroy. One 
infantry battalion would be held at Minh Thanh as a Rapid Reaction Force.
The operation was conducted as planned with only sporadic contact with small 
elements of the enemy. Although captured docu-ments revealed that the 272d Viet 
Cong Regiment had recently been in the area, only local guards for the caches 
and base camps were contacted. The period 14-17 February was used for search and 
destroy operations during which 1,700 tons of rice and 27 tons of salt were 
found, almost all uncovered by 3d Brigade elements in caches 50 to 200 meters 
from the trail along which their initial landing zones were located. (This rice 
would have fed thirteen enemy battalions for one year.)
The enemy lost 13 killed; U.S. casualties were 3 killed and 65 wounded. A few 
weapons and some small arms ammunition and explosives were found. About 150 
installations were destroyed; among them was a regimental-size base camp with 
four mess halls and a barbed-wire-inclosed cage dug into the ground which 
appeared to have been a prisoner of war enclosure large enough for about 30 
persons.
It was with great disappointment and reluctance that the search and destroy 
operations came to a close after only four days, since it was obvious that only 
a fraction of the rice in the area had been discovered. However, it was 
necessary for the 1st Division to spend the next four days, 18-21 February, 
completing the primary mission of TUCSON, positioning its troops and preparing 
them for JUNCTION CITY. 

 

Lest You Forget !

  What The 22nd Infantry Regiment Did For You !

  1. Gave you the opportunity to serve your country in a proud and prestigious national unit.

  2. Gave you buddies who stuck by you and helped you endure fear, horror, and hardship.

  3. Gave you good reason to harbor a personal feeling of high accomplishment and pride.

  4. Gave you treasured lifetime friends markedly improving the quality of your life.

MG (Ret) John F. Ruggles 1908 *1999

Honorary Colonel - 22nd Infantry Regiment

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