THE NUI BA DEN MASSACRES

The following narrative is written by Ed Tatarnic, John A. Anderson’s cousin,  one of the soldiers killed in the battle on Nui Ba Den (Black Virgin Mountain in Vietnam) 13 May 1968.

Please contact Ed at: tatarnic@shaw.ca if you knew his cousin John A. Anderson.

Mr. Tatarnic, has done an excellent job researching this battle, and I am indebted to him for the time and effort he spent on this narrative.

His excellent narrative, has been edited, revised and condensed for those readers without a knowledge of military terminology.

As you read this story, you may realize that you or someone you know was in this battle. If so, I invite you to contact me by leaving a note in the comment section. I plan to continue adding details, and photos of those involved in the battle, to give them the honor they deserve.

******* 13 MAY 1968 BATTLE KIAS/POW*******

The following 21 soldiers were killed in the battle of  May 13, 1968:
* SGT Joseph Adams, New Orleans, LA, Prov Sig Co, 125th Sig Bn
* SP4 John A. Anderson, Williamsville, NY,HHC, 4th Bn, 9th Infantry

* SP4 Ralph R. Black, Crystal Falls, MI, C Co, 121st Sig Bn
* SGT Fernando Calle-Zuluaga, Los Angeles, CA, 587th Sig Co, 86th Sig Bn
* CPT George Coleman, Birmingham, AL, Prov Sig Co, 125th Sig Bn

* PFC Samuel G. Connelly, Hammond, IN, A Co, 2nd Bn, 18th Infantry
* SP4 Moses J. Cousin, Detroit, MI, Prov Sig Co, 125th Sig Bn

* SP4 Albert E. Dahl, Aurora, IL, B Co, 125th Sig Bn

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* CPT Arthur L. Davis, Beaufort, NC, 587th Sig Co, 86th Sig Bn
* SP4 James A. Davis, Orlando, FL, B Co, 125th Sig Bn

* SP4 Gary J. Gilin, Detroit, MI, A Co, 4th Bn, 9th Infantry
* SP4 Jeffrey W. Haerle, Minneapolis, MN, HQ, 3rd ASA Fld Station
* SP4 Paul R. Hoag, Poughkeepsie, NY, Prov Sig Co, 125th Sig Bn
* SP4 Michael J. Juneau, Hessmer, LA, B Co, 125th Sig Bn
* SP4 Paul R. Lozano, Bay City, TX, 587th Sig Co, 86th Sig Bn
* SP4 Frank J. Makuh, Placentia, CA, C Co, 121st Sig Bn

*PFC John Patrick McGonigal Jr., 194th MP Co., 1st Signal Brigade attached to the 125th Signal Bn
* SGT Timothy J. Noden, Linwood, PA, A Co, 2nd Bn, 18th Infantry
* SSG Ray W. Owen, Columbia, SC, Prov Sig Co, 125th Sig Bn MEDIC
* 2LT Thomas N. Teague, Mountlake Terrace, WA, Prov Sig Co, 125th Sig Bn
* SSG Harold A. Stone, Champaign, IL, Prov Sig Co, 125th Sig Bn
* SSG Bobby C. Wood, Monroe, LA

McGonigal_John_P_Jr_DOB_1947

Brave Young Soldier

Posted on 10/22/01 – by R.E. Wood, MSgt. USAF/ret

‘I did not know this young soldier (John P. McGonigal Jr.); but I do know that on the 13th of May 1968 he was killed along side my cousin, SSgt Bobby C. Wood; while defending a firebase on Black Virgin Mountain. While assisting my cousin with a .50 caliber machinegun an RPG came through the porthole and ended both of their lives.  John: I also came to Vietnam the next year. Just want you and Bobby to know we got some of them for you.’

- See more at: http://www.vvmf.org/Wall-of-Faces/36742/JOHN-P-MCGONIGAL-JR#sthash.ygXmynUD.dpuf

Owen_RayW_DOB_1927

 

 

STONE HAROLD DOB 19 JUN 1938

 

Wood_Bobby_Clyde_DOB_1931

 

 

 

 

 


POW – PFC Donald Glen Smith, captured May 13, 1968- released 1-1-1969. (Far right)

PHOTO OF THE 1 JANUARY 1969 PRISONER RELEASE.  LEFT TO RIGHT,

SP 4 JAMES W. BRIGHAM, CAPTURED 13 SEPTEMBER, 1968*

SP 4 THOMAS N. JONES CAPTURED 25 AUGUST 1968

PFC DONALD G. SMITH CAPTURED 13 MAY1968 ON NUI BA DEN

*SP4 Brigham was a 12B20 Combat Engineer in A/65th Engineers, 25th Infantry Division.  He suffered injuries in captivity.  Upon release was flown to Walter Reed Hospital.  It was determined his injuries were untreatable.  He returned to his home in Florida where he died from those injuries.

******18 AUGUST 1968 BATTLE KIA’S*******

A second battle on August 18, 1968 took the lives of the following defenders of the mountain top camp:

  • 125th Sig Bn, 25th Inf Div


SP4 Ronald M. Heinecke, Theresa, WI, Prov Sig Company
PFC Arturo S. Zamora, Mathis, TX, C Company


  • A Company, 3rd Bn, 22nd Infantry, 25th Inf Div
    • SGT James C. Kraynak, Connellsville, PA
    • SGT Kenneth L. Krom, Walkersville, MD
    • SP4 James R. Moncrief, Cordova, AL
    • PFC Gilbert T. Delgado, Houston, TX
    • PFC Roy D. Lowe, Charlotte Court House, VA


  • F Company, 50th Infantry, 25th Inf Div
    • PFC Lorenzo Sewell, Sayreton, AL

I have added some photos of my own and from the internet to the narrative. The photos I have posted are of bunkers that were built after the base camp was destroyed in this battle. The ‘bunkers’ in place during the battle were wooden structures on stilts!

See the After Action Report following this narrative for survivor interviews.

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I spent the month of October 1968 on this mountain, as a Sr. combat medic, with Co. C, 3/22nd, 25th Infantry Division, s experiencing the mountain ‘up close.’  I have included my experiences while stationed on this mountain along with my unit, Charlie Company, 3/22, 25th Infantry Division.

Sadly, during this month, I learned of the death of Captain Hansard, our former Charlie Company Commander.
Nui Ba Den oxcart photo by CptTinnel

Here is the story:

THE ATTACK ON NUI BA DEN MONDAY MAY 13, 1968 by Ed Tatarnic (See his original narrative at
http://www.manchu.org/country/Nui_Ba_Den/ )

The evening started with the sky clear, many stars could be seen. Many soldiers were having a quiet evening watching TV. At 2145 hours the camp on Nui Ba Den came under attack from combined 82mm mortar and rocket propelled grenades.
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At this time the standard manning of defensive positions were odd numbered bunkers on duty from dusk to midnight and even numbered bunkers on duty from midnight to dawn. Therefore only every second bunker was on alert.

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BUNKER Nui Ba Dinh Black Virgin Mt 0004

At this time, Special Forces members at base B-32 at Tay Ninh reported hearing explosions and seeing fire atop Nui Ba Den.

From the radios of the Special Force’s Tay Ninh camp there came a request for “artillery to be brought in here fast” then the radio went silent. Other frequencies were tried by Special Force’s to no avail. It was at this time that the communications antenna was blown out by rocket propelled grenades or satchel charges.
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Upon the initial mortar attack, personnel from bunkers that were manned open fired with automatic weapons.

A soldier from bunker 12 just got off guard duty and while starting down to bunker 15 received small arms fire so he returned fire. He checked bunker 13 and saw one soldier wounded and one dead.

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He reported seeing a force of fifteen Viet Cong proceeding to the helicopter pad carrying Rocket Propelled Grenade’s.

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(Click on map to enlarge)

(Click on map to enlarge)

Page 9 After the first five or six mortars landed on site, bunker 19 was destroyed by either rocket propelled grenades or mortars from the ravine below bunkers 18 and 19.

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Bunker 19 faced north between the mess hall and the helicopter pad.

With bunker 19 out of action the enemy moved up the ravine completely hidden from bunkers 18 and 20. There was tear gas that came over bunker 20 as bunker 19 burnt.

Page 11 The US personnel moved from bunker 18 to 20 and 2 soldiers were in bunker 20 attempting to operate the radio.

The main enemy force advanced past the perimeter and split into two sections. Some American soldiers moved from bunker 19 to hide in the rocks (see 10a on map above) behind the Enlisted Men’s club.
Nui Ba Den Chopper PadThe larger enemy force moved east to the helicopter pad where they set up a command post with two radios and a mortar team. The smaller enemy force moved further east to bunker 17 then continued south, then west to bunker 13.
(Click map to enlarge)
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(Click map to enlarge)
Page 13 MESS HALL BUNKER PAD Nui Ba Den Base Camp 4a73bac0

This secured the bunkers around the helicopter pad.

The enemy met automatic fire at bunker 16 and afterwords the US personnel moved south to hide in some rocks in the vicinity of bunker 15.

The personnel in bunker 14, west of bunker 15, tried to open fire on the helicopter pad but were unable to swing the .50mm caliber around to the rear, which was north.

The US personnel in bunker 14 had no M-79’s (grenade launchers) and insufficient M-16 (rifle) ammunition to initiate and return fire as a Rocket Propelled Grenade had destroyed most of the M-16 ammunition.
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These US personnel then left bunker 14 through the gun port and sought safety outside the camp’s perimeter in the rocks.

ROCKS ON Nui Ba Dinh Black Virgin Mt 0006

The sound of Vietnamese voices chattering and screaming could be heard.

At the same time, an enemy force of between 15 and 20 penetrated the west slope between bunker 7 and the remains of bunker 8 which was burning from Rocket Propelled Grenade’s.

ABOVE PHOTOS OF BUNKER 8 WERE TAKEN  BY PFC DONALD GLEN SMITH IN APRIL 1968, PRIOR TO HIS CAPTURE

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There were US personnel in bunker 7 that attempted to stop this advancement but after a courageous attempt were knocked unconscious by a hand grenade.

The soldiers later gained consciousness when it started to rain at about 0230 hours and joined other soldiers in the burnt out bunker 8.

PFC Donald Glen Smith was stationed in Bunker 8, along with two other soldiers, when it came under attack. The bunker exploded from either a satchel charge of RPG.  PFC Smith suffered head trauma as a result of the explosion and his two fellow soldiers were killed in the blast.   Viet Cong captured him, while he was unconscious, and carried him to their cave in the side of the mountain, and later to a mobile prison camp in the jungle.  He was released January 1st, 1969 with two other POWS.

The enemy moved uphill eastward toward the pagoda at the top of the mountain blowing up the generator on the way.  The personnel hiding in the burnt remains of  bunker 8 did not open fire.

FOLLOWING PHOTO IS BY PFC DONALD GLEN SMITH

GENERATOR SHACK NBD APRIL 1968

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This photo is of the pagoda and antennas on its roof.

PAGODA ON Nui Ba Dinh Black Virgin Mt 0005

Upon reaching the top the enemy spread out and placed satchel charges in the operations building and the officer’s quarters.

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All the US personnel in the pagoda locked themselves inside and were not confronted by the enemy.

All the VHF antennas on the pagoda were destroyed by satchel charges.

Page 19 Another small enemy force penetrated the perimeter on the North Slope near bunker 2, west of the reservoir.

Page 20


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RESERVOIR ON NUI BA DEN
Photo by Captain Ronald Herman Tinnel

They continued up the hill to the summit where they joined the force that penetrated the perimeter from between bunkers 7 and 8.

During this time bunker 1 detected movement to their front and opened fire with the M-79 grenade launcher.
This drew enemy fire from the rear and the personnel evacuated through the front window and went east to bunker 20, near the reservoir where they remained through out the night.

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BUNKER NEAR RESERVOIR Nui Ba Den Mt TopPhoto by Captain Ronald Herman Tinnel

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Two soldiers who were in bunker 5 and opened fire with an M-79 grenade launcher, M16 and claymores. Both soldiers stayed in bunker 5 all night.

Special Forces had two soldiers in bunker 1, one manned the machine gun while the other tried to radio for help.

                                                                    ABOVE PHOTO BY PFC DONALD GLEN SMITH

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Also in the bunker were two CIDG’s, (Civilian Irregular Defense Group soldiers) – one was wounded when a mortar or Rocket Propelled Grenade blew a hole in the roof.

The Special Force’s mascot dog died of gun fire.

The butane tank for the stove was punctured and this started the bunker on fire.

The Special Force’s personnel could hear the Viet Cong talking.

At this time Special Force’s left the bunker and went down the mountain a bit and used a short antenna radio to contact Detachment B but could not for they were on the north side of the mountain.

They tried different radio frequencies and after about 30 minutes communicated with Katum.

The radio operator was told to go to frequency 68.00.

On this frequency they heard from the S-3 of the 25th Infantry Division, 1st Brigade that Spookys (AC 47 flare/ gunships) were on their way for assistance.

The Special Force’s soldiers who went down the mountain side a bit heard the other soldiers who were in the rocks near the reservoir and moved to their location.

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RESERVOIR ON NUI BA DEN
Photo by Captain Ronald Herman Tinnel

Upon arriving, Special Force’s secured the reservoir perimeter and there were about 20 Americans assembled there. There were only 5 weapons among them and most of the men were not fully clothed, some only had shorts and no boots on. Some were wounded.


Photo by Captain Ronald Herman Tinnel

Generally, US soldiers were split into small pockets of resistance and stayed this way through out the night. They were reluctant to move due to Viet Cong filtration and fire from the Spookys.

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Once the enemy secured the helicopter pad as a Command Post and mortar location, they split into 3 groups at approximately 2200 hours. The Command Post/mortar crew remained in place, a small group moved southwest to bunker 13 and a larger group moved west up the hill behind a barrage lay down by the mortar crew on the helicopter pad.

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Nui Ba Den Chopper Pad

While the larger force moved up the path westward to the mess hall and billets complex, the smaller force continued along the south perimeter securing bunkers 13, 12 and 11.

The soldiers in bunker 11 tried to detonate their claymores but most never went off. As each bunker was approached, the enemy threw satchel charges or hand grenades into the doorways.

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The personnel in each bunker manned their positions till they were forced to evacuate.

Some soldiers proceeded from the orderly room to bunker 10 where they laid down a field of fire until a satchel charge exploded in the door way.
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At this time the soldiers ran out the back door, killing 2 Viet Cong.

ARTWORK BY SP4 JIM D. NELSON

Then they ran west to bunker 8 where they joined the rest of the men from bunkers 8 to 12.

                                                     ABOVE IS A PHOTO OF BUNKER 9 (PHOTO BY PFC DONALD GLEN SMITH, POW)

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The soldiers in bunker 9 set off their claymores then started to fire their .50 caliber, then evacuated when bunker 10 was blown up.
                                                           ABOVE PHOTO OF BUNKER 9  BY PFC DONALD GLEN SMITH, POW

They saw the generator blow up when a Viet Cong threw something at it.

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All personnel regrouped in the wreckage of bunker 8 which had been destroyed earlier by a mortar or a Rocket Propelled Grenade.

They set up a local security force at approximately 2330 hours and most soldiers stayed there till morning.

One soldier left bunker 8 and preceded to the ammunition bunker next to the pagoda and obtained 2 cases of M-79 (grenades) ammo then returned east to a location in the rocks above bunker 12 and laid down intensive fire on the enemy command group on the helicopter pad. Immediately after this action, the enemy started exfiltrating.

At approximately 2200 hours the main force of the enemy was proceeding westward up the path towards the pagoda.

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MESS HALL BUNKER PAD Nui Ba Den Base Camp 4a73bac0

When they reached the mess hall, billets and officers and enlisted men’s clubs they spread out placing satchel charges and throwing hand grenades into the buildings.

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Mess Hall September 1968 Nui Ba Dinh Black Virgin Mt

Some of the buildings were already on fire from the mortar and Rocket Propelled Grenade attacks. The US personnel who were in the mess hall, billets and officers and enlisted men’s clubs left the buildings and went to the sandbagged bunker 19 or to the rocks in the immediate area for cover.

A melted watch found at the NCO club indicated the time was 2220 hours.

Nearly all the personnel were without weapons.

The soldiers with weapons were reluctant to fire them for they never had positive identification of the moving figures and ammunition was low and they did not want to give away their position.

PFC THOMAS TORMA KILLS ENEMY WITH BARE HANDS, AFTER BEING SEVERELY WOUNDED BY A SATCHELL CHARGE WHICH BLEW HIS WEAPON FROM HIS HANDS:

(Click on photo to enlarge)

PHOTO WILL BE POSTED LATER

See page 74 of http://www.history.army.mil/books/Vietnam/Comm-El/ch13.htm which describes PFC Torma’s actions.

CAPTAIN HAROLD R WINTON stated, –  ‘At about 0700 hours the 1st Medevac went in with Sgt. Benny E. Wigginton,, senior medic at Detachment B-32, and Specialist Byrne.’   These two medics and the Medevac pilot, evacuated the wounded including PFC Torma, who was severely burned from the satchell charge explosion.

BUNKER 19 ABANDONED:

The soldiers had to abandon bunker 19 due to the heat from the burning mess hall and moved to a cave located near the reservoir and bunker 20.

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RESERVOIR ON NUI BA DEN
ARTWORK BY SP4 JIM D. NELSON
Soldiers gathered in either bunker 20 or the nearby caves and rocks and they maintained local security the rest of the night. Some shots went into the cave and the surrounding rocks and ricocheted and wounded some men.

ROCKS AND BUNKER Nui Ba Dinh Black Virgin Mt

The Special Forces team house was destroyed when a Rocket Propelled Grenade hit the butane tank and caused a fire that destroyed the team house. Almost all the buildings on site were burnt to the ground.
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At approximately 2330 hours a Light Fire Team and mini-gunship arrived and were directed by a lone radio operator working under the Red Horse re-transmission.

The supporting forces providing fire and illumination during the attack were B Troop, 3rd Squadron, 17th Air Calvary (UHIC) gun ships; 5th Air Command Squadron (C-47 Flare and gun ships); Tay Ninh Artillery B Battery 2/32 Artillery.

Cobra gunship

Page 37Fire Mission - Howitzer Painting
ARTWORK BY SP4 JIM D. NELSON

The Light Fire Team drew heavy anti-aircraft fire from the base of the mountain. The Light Fire Team saturated an area about 75 meters outside the perimeter to prevent any further infiltration.

The lone radio operator directed Light Fire Team’s weapons fire and the flares dropped by the mini-gunship.

When the first Spooky arrived the weather was still a clear night but by the time the second Spooky arrived the clouds rolled in and it rained from 0200 hours till 0600 hours.

A second Spooky arrived at 0100 hours. By 0130 hours the top of the mountain was heavily fogged over and the Spookys were having difficulty making accurate assaults on the mountain even with the very good illumination from the flare ships.

By now the airships were receiving medium to heavy anti aircraft fire from the sides and the base of Nui Ba Den.

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Even under harsh conditions the Spookys shot up the resistive areas well. It was noted later that the response from the Spookys was outstanding in their fire power.

The aircraft remained in the air until their ammunition was depleted at which time they were replaced by another sortie.

At approximately 0230 hours the gun ships departed the area leaving behind the flare ship that remained on station till the weather forced them to return to their base.

Special Forces with their radio had problems communicating with the Spookys but found them on frequency 39.30.

While all this was going on, Special Force’s Detachment B at Tay Ninh was organizing a rescue operation.

They had gathered up ammunition, food, water, clothing and medical supplies as well as a 125 KW generator for supplying power ready to go at first light.

By 0230 hours B Detachment had received a message from the mountain saying all but one building and most of the bunkers were destroyed.

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From the Red Horse re-transmitter, the personnel back at Tay Ninh could hear Viet Cong voices walking around the camp shooting the wounded.

Later at 2400 hours the enemy forces moved down hill eastward toward the helicopter pad where they exfiltrated by an unobserved route.

From 2300 hours till they left, the enemy were setting booby traps in the area on their own fallen dead.

battle Painting
ARTWORK BY SP4 JIM D. NELSON

By 0230 hours the enemy had completely left Nui Ba Den.

No Dust Off’s (medical evacuation helicopters) were possible till morning due to rain, fog and gusting winds.

At 0530 hours the group of soldiers from bunker 20, the reservoir and the cave emerged from their positions and split into three units.

One group went to secure the helicopter landing pad in preparation of medical evacuation helicopters, another group swept the mountain camp to check for any Viet Cong that may still be there and the third checked for booby traps and brought the wounded and dead to the helicopter landing pad.

It was still raining and would continue raining until 0800 hours.

Several bodies were discovered in the bunkers and some were booby trapped.

The first MEDEVACS (medical evacuation helicopters) arrived from B Detachment , Tay Ninh at 0706 hours May 14 and the seriously wounded were evacuated by 0900 hours.

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medivac

Two Special Force’s medics came on the first helicopter with blankets and medical supplies and they worked with the two medics stationed on the mountain to tend to the wounded.

The first helicopters received automatic weapon fire from the southern portion of the mountain resulting in minor damage and one aircraft crewmen wounded.

When the first helicopters arrived there were soldiers standing around the helicopter pad, some with only shorts on and no boots.

There was some confusion as the evacuation of the wounded for some of the less serious were loaded on the helicopters before the more serious wounded.

Some soldiers had to be ordered off the helicopters to make room for the wounded.

These soldiers were described as junior enlisted soldiers who were in shock and wanted off Nui Ba Den.

A second set of helicopters came with more blankets, medical supplies and communications equipment.

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                                                       PHOTO BY PFC DONALD GLEN SMITH TAKEN APRIL 1968

The helicopter landing pad was now congested with equipment and all around the pad were the bodies of the fallen soldiers.

A senior officer asked that the bodies be covered.

By 0900 hours the perimeter was re-secured with available forces.

The soldiers arriving at the top noticed that everything was leveled except the pagoda.

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Painting Nui Ba Den

Special Forces personnel went to the pagoda and re-established communications by 1400 hours.

Special Forces had a much shorter time re-establishing communications than the 125th Signal Battalion.

A company of 2/12 Infantry, 25th Infantry Division was airlifted to the mountain to reinforce the remaining elements of D Company (Provisional) 125th Signal Battalion.

Eagle Flight

Initial sorties began arriving at 1227 hours and the airlift was complete by 1350 hours.

Three members of the Special Force’s A-324 received the Bronze Star for heroism during the attack.

Also two Special Force’s medics received Bronze Stars for meritorious achievement for the work they did as part of first medical evacuation helicopter.

It was noted in one of the After Action Report interviews that the night before the attack there was suspected movement noticed in the front of bunkers #14 and #15. There was a request for illumination (by flares) but the request was denied.

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It was determined that the size of the attacking Viet Cong force was between a reinforced platoon and a company size.

It was noticed later that 2 Americans were taken prisoner.

One was SP4 Donald Smith. I do not know the name of the other POW.

The overall toll was:
US Killed In Action ………… 24
US Wounded In Action ……. 35
US Missing In Action ……….. 2
Viet Cong Killed In Action ….25

********RECOMMENDATIONS!!!******
The Viet Cong advantage was their ability to closely approach and break into the perimeter undetected and their thorough knowledge of the locations of key installations such as VHF antenna towers and the generators.

The following recommendations were noted in the After Action Reports.

Since Nui Ba Den is in such isolation because of its poor access during periods of poor weather the entire camp must be completely self sufficient.

********MORE COMBAT SOLDIERS NEEDED******
Each major command unit having communications facilities on Nui Ba Den must increase its manpower.

A permanent force of 155 Enlisted Men and 3 officers must be stationed on Nui Ba Den.

At the time of the attack the 125th Signal Battalion had about 70 Enlisted Men on Nui Ba Den but since the 125th Signal Battalion primary duty was communications it did not have the resources necessary to properly defend the camp.

Most of the 125th Signal Battalion were communication’s specialists, not infantry soldiers.

Since the attack, the majority of the replacements have been infantry soldiers with no combat experience, straight from the US.

Increase the number of infantrymen at Nui Ba Den and at least 50 per cent must have combat experience.

Being stationed atop Nui Ba Den, completely surrounded by Viet Cong is a very insecure situation, especially for a new soldier.

There are 26 primary fighting position, 2 soldiers per position, 52 soldiers minimum.

At the time of the attack there were 58 infantry soldiers. At any one time, 15% could be expected to be off duty for various reasons, leaving about 49 on duty – not enough for the defense of the mountain camp, and the number must be increased.

*******IMPROVE CAMP DEFENSES*******
The terrain of Nui Ba Den is very difficult to defend due to restricted fields of fire, poor visibility and narrow defensive sectors. This requires a tighter defense

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with bunkers closer together supporting each other than currently exists.

Maintain and improve primary and secondary defensive position, all of which must be blasted out to the rock due to the camp’s terrain. Secondary positions must be manned in the case of enemy penetration.

Maintain and improve early warning systems such as trip flares and anti-intrusive devices.

There must be reconnaissance and ambush patrols each day and a minimum of 1 ambush patrol per night.

Provide between 4 to 6 listening post’s during nights.

Maintain and improve defensive razor wire.

*******MEDICAL PERSONNEL NEEDED******
More medical personnel are needed to sustain Nui Ba Den during times of isolation due to poor weather.

At the time of the attack there were 2 medics, and 3 are needed. Also, Sr. medic should be assigned to the area.

MORE FIRE POWER NEEDED
Operate a weapons section of three 90 mm recoilless rifles.

Operate a mortar fire direction center so support fire can be properly employed.

There must be more infantry soldiers to operate the three 81mm mortars. Four personnel per gun requires a total of twelve. To effectively employ the 81mm mortars a fire direction center must be maintained.

*******RADAR NEEDED******
Operate a ground surveillance section utilizing radar 24 hours a day covering the main avenues of approach to the camp.

A radar section was on the mountain but not authorized. It should have been authorized. The radar section should comprise of 2 radar sets and have six personnel of ground surveillance training and also on ground surveillance mechanic.

********ARMORY NEEDED*******
Also considering the number of weapons on Nui Ba Den there should be an armory for safe storage.

******COOKS AND SWITCHBOARD OPERATORS NEEDED******
Also two additional cooks should be added and two switchboard operators be made a part of the command section. The switch board should be connected to the Tay Ninh switch board and manned 24 hours a day.

The fighting positions would all be connected by telephone communications as would all other buildings on the mountain.

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******* REPORTS I USED: *******

125th Signal Battalion After Action Report, Attack on Nui Ba Den

5th Special Forces Group, A-324, After Action Report, Attack on Nui Ba Den

Report of interviews from the 5th Special Forces Group, A-324

S2/S3 Duty Officer log for HHC 2D Bde, 25th Infantry Division (no mention of the May 14th, 1968 attack).

The Duty Officer Log, dated May 13, 1968, for the 3rd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division.

The attack as noted below:

2210 hours…Nui Ba Den Special Forces Camp receiving mortars and small arms fire, Light Fire Team scrambled from Tay Ninh, Artillery being fired from Tay Ninh

2220 hours…Light Fire Team on station Nui Ba Den

2315 hours…Nui Ba Den still under ground attack, received heavy Small Arms and AW fire from west side

2320 hours… Nui Ba Den reported to have some Viet Cong within perimeter

2359 hours…Spooky on station for Nui Ba Den
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I would like to acknowledge certain people who have helped me in understanding what happened on Nui Ba Den May 13, 1968.

First, Reg Lee who was there at the very beginning as I was trying to find out about my cousin John Anderson and to Donald Crowley, who gave me insight to conditions on the mountain. Edward Shaw and Paul Sherman for their accounts of Nui Ba Den.

I would also like to thank the very generous and professional people at the National Archives and Record Administration, Clifford Snyder and Susan A. Francis-Haughton. Also the fine people at the FOIA, Department of the Army, National Personnel Records Center, and the Director of the Joint Services Record Research Center.

Also I would like to thank the following people for their kind emails and encouragement,
…Charles Stebbins …Ed Grant …Willie Gin…MSGT Woods
…Ron Figueroa…Ted Buchanan…Chester Poole

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…Jack Harrill…Bill Reeves…Bill Ott…David DeMauro
…Greg Smith…Mike Fowles…Ron Shonkwiler
…John Henchman…Denny Jump

Most of all I would like to thank Bruce Swander for all the invaluable assistance he has given.

Bruce instructed me as to what documents I needed, how to obtain them and how to understand them, which I still do not fully understand.

Bruce also gave me assistance on how the US Army functioned in Vietnam. Without Bruce, this account would not have been written.

Again, thank you Bruce.

In closing, I am not a military person, I have just documented the facts around Nui Ba Den, May 13, 1968.

I would like to repeat, if any one knew my cousin, John Austin Anderson, could you please get in touch with me as I would very much appreciate knowing more about John.

Contact me by E Mail: tatarnic@shaw.ca

My Mailing address is:
35 MacFarlane Avenue
Red Deer, Alberta
Canada, T4N 5S9
Thank you

Ed Tatarnic
*******SURVIVOR INTERVIEWS******

This is an edited and condensed version of the ‘After Action Report.’  Source:

http://www.angelfire.com/ks/bhd8ball/NBDPageAllHTML.htm

‘After Action Report’ for 13 May 1968 Massacre on Nui Ba Dinh

I am Captain Harold R. Winton, the S3 at Detachment B-32, 5th Special Forces Group located in Tay Ninh Province.

In addition to being the S3, I have an additional duty of Unit Historian for Detachment B32.

I have been directed to conduct a Combat After Action Interviews for the U.S.Army Special Forces personnel assigned to detachment A-324 Nui Ba Den.

The purpose of this interview is to extract from these personnel their observations concerning the attack on the night of 13 May on Nui Ba Den.

Page 48 *******(SFC) Peter T. Sherwin*******

My first interview will be with Sergeant First Class (SFC) Peter T. Sherwin, communications supervisor assigned to Nui Ba Den from June 67-March 68, then in September became the Team Sergeant, late October he took over as Camp NCO (non commissioned officer), and was on Nui Ba Den before and after the 25th Inf. Div took over operational control 20 Nov 67.

Here are SFC Sherwin’s comments:

The engineers came up In September. They had preliminary talks and we had to fill out the best way to build a camp.

We wanted to build concrete bunkers into the (mountain). But it ended up they constructed these small houses, this what we call them, as they were not bunkers as such. They were located near the perimeter (of the camp).

We were disappointed with the field of fire the ‘bunkers’ had when the camp was completed. Also in the type of materials that they were made of.

Some of these ‘bunkers’ are on stilts 10 feet off the ground, and there’s no way you can sandbag the sides.

They should have been concrete and so they could have been sandbagged because of the monsoon season lasts 90 days at the most then wood starts rotting and falling apart.

I personally was present when General Abrams came for a tour and inspected the ‘bunkers.’

When he asked why they were built like this, the answer was, ‘they were built for CIDG and not for Americans.’

General Abrams replied, ‘what difference does that make?’ and it was shrugged off. After this the engineers said they could be reinforced and sandbags added. But to my knowledge to this day this has not been done

The whole team made recommendations.

The biggest one is that we want to continue the offensive patrolling, which we did up until December. when we changed Commanding Officer – when Captain Coleman took over. He did go on patrols but only out 100 to 200 meters at the most, also alerts were not conducted through the week.

It’s a Special Forces SOP (standard operating Procedure) that 2 a week be conducted, especially on Nui Ba Den where you got a lot of new troops and a lot of them are not combat troops such as signal (corps).

It’s pretty successful when you have a repetitive order because everyone knows pretty well what to do and where to go.

This was not true under Cpt Coleman.

Some of the recommendations was to blast out the rocks so we would have a better field of fire from the bunkers, this was not accomplished.

We also requested he cement in his claymores and build another wall.

The last couple of patrols we ran he had one strand of wire out there and we pushed it in 8 seconds, 3 Americans and 2 CIDG’s. I felt we should put LP (Listening Posts) out, but Cpt Coleman took over and we stopped putting out LP’s which upset everybody because you lost your early warning.

Page 49

*******(SFC) Gilbert*******

My next interview will be with SFC Gilbert who is the NCOIC (non commissioned officer in charge) Det A 324 Nui Ba Den.

Q. Sgt. Gilbert, what was you doing the night of 13 May before the camp was attacked?

A. Myself and my Radio Operators except the one on duty, we were watching television.

Q. What was the first indication that there was an attack on the hill?

A. At approximately 0930 – 09:45 we heard an RPG (rocket propelled grenade) round hit the east side of the perimeter.

Q. What did you do at this time?

A. I left SGT Holguin on the radio, Sgt. Hager guarding the door, and SP4 Kelly and I went to bunker number one – directly to the rear of our building near the perimeter that was our defense position.

Q. After your move to the bunker what did you do then?

A. Shortly after getting into the bunker we got the machine gun manned and immediately started receiving small arms fire from our rear to the top of the mountain.

SP4 Kelly went back to guard the rear, and he saw some people without shirts. At first he thought they were Americans. After watching them one started passing an RPG. We were quite certain they were not Americans.

At the same time we took a 60 mm mortar hit on top of the bunker blowing a hole in the top and slightly wounding the CIDG (Vietnamese army soldier).

I ordered everyone out to the firing position out front. We took up firing position and returned fire into the rocks.

The VC had fired several RPG into our building and then moved out back up to the pagoda.
Page 50

After this I ordered the people to move down the mountain about 20 meters or so to positions up in the rocks.

We finally made radio communications with the Katum and they in turn notified our B team, headquarters that they had communications with us.

They give as the frequency of the only remaining station still operating, which was Red Horse Retrans.

After making contact with Red Horse Retrans we got their location and began moving toward them.

We received some fire from the rocks moving across, but I believe this was from friendly not from V.C.

I believe they had already moved back up to the pagoda and down to the chopper pad. at the time the building exploded.

It was knocked out.

Sgt. Hager, and Sgt. Holguin were still In the building and I knew then they were either KIA (killed) or I listed them as missing.

Sgt. Holguin after reaching Red Horse Retrans attempted to find some people. And we did find a pocket of about 20 in a cave just north of our position.

After going up there and getting some (personnel) out of the rocks he found that there were only 4 or 5 weapons between the people hidden in the rocks.

Page 51

The First Sergeant finally arrived and had us go ahead and hold our positions where we were.

We had a thin perimeter just around the north edge of the camp. We held fast there until they left.

Q. Could you describe what combat support you received in the way of fire teams and Spooky flare ships?

A. We received first of all a light fire team who was doing an excellent job. He fired every thing he had out around the perimeter.

The Spookys were outstanding. They just kept dropping flares and circular perimeter firing. They did an outstanding job that night.

We received 2 Spookys. At the time of the attack it was clear, but by the time the 2nd Spooky arrived it began to cloud up and it rained continuously from 0200 to 0800 the next morning.

Q. Beginning at first light, explain the condition on top of the hill in terms of the organization of the people and also give us an idea of the support that came to you.

Page 52

A. At the first light we organized 3 separate parties.

One was to secure the chopper pad, one was to start moving the casualties that were wounded down to the chopper pad and the third was to check the area out, secure it, and check for booby traps.

We found numerous booby traps the following morning.

The first ships to arrive were medevac from B32 Detachment (Tay Ninh) and also two Special Forces medics, SFC Wigginton and SP4 Burns.

They arrived with blankets and medical supplies.

They were the only medics capable of doing anything on the hill that morning.

After we got all the wounded evacuated the first ship to arrive was from B32 detachment.

It contained among other things whiskey, clothes, chow, and just about anything imaginable.

Also a ship right behind it contained all new communications gear, since we lost all of ours. Lieutenant Ballentine flew it in from Bien Hoa.

We had everything sitting on the pad and we couldn’t find a place to set up since everything on the hill was just about leveled except the pagoda.

There was quite a little confusion as to who was going to get into the pagoda and what not.

We waited on the pad until just about 1230 hours to see if we were going to get reinforced by the 25th.

We had requested reinforcements the night before but there seemed to be some confusion at higher level as to who was going to reinforce or what they were going to do.

I believe they moved in the positions around a company of about 95, commanded by Captain Hart.

After asking Lt Ballentine, he asked us and I imagine 10 of the people around here to move into the pagoda and set up our communication system again. Finally somebody, I don’t know who, said go ahead, and at 1400 we were in and operational.

Page 53

*******Sergeant Holguin*******

Q. My next interview is with Sergeant Holguin, who is a radio operator of Detachment A-324 Nui Ba Den.

Sgt. Holguin could you explain what you were doing the night of 13 May the night the attack started?

A. May the 13th, I was watching Jimmy Durante and I was getting pretty excited!

I was on Commo check and got called by one of the A sites to relay a message. I was relaying the message at the time when I started hearing loud booms.

I figured it was just the mortar crew, that usually would go up at night and once in a while, whenever the old man up here would let them, would fire some illumination rounds.

But then it started getting louder and dirt and shrapnel started falling on top of our roof and I knew something was wrong.

I told SP4 Kelly to go out and see what he could see. Right after that he called and tried to get artillery support at that time.

Sgt. Gilbert and SP4 Kelly went out to the forward bunker. They had a radio with them but apparently the battery was pretty weak.

Me and Sgt. Hager stayed in the Commo bunker till it was being burned down.

We tried to keep up our Commo because we tried to get the other people on the hill. But nobody else would answer us so we figured we were the last ones to go.

About that time an RPG rocket hit our butane where our stove was located and the whole place started up in flames.

We stayed in it just a little bit longer after, then the radios went dead.

I guess something must of hit the battery cables or one of the radios or the one we were working on. So we decided to make it. We made it outside.

We received fire, I don’t know if it was friendly or Charlie but we decided to go into the rocks. There was a couple of holes there.

We went into the rocks. We could hear gooks talking but we couldn’t hear no Americans. So we figured that we were the only survivors.

We saw the gooks walking around. We wanted to fire at them, but it was just not feasible because if we were the only two we were going to get blown out of that hole, if we started firing at them.

So we stayed there most of the night, until about 2:30 or 3:00.

We heard Americans talking in the background so we joined with them.
We found out there was actually more Americans there than we thought.

Page 54

There was approximately 15 In the rocks, about 15 or 20 meters away from us, the only trouble was that most of them had been caught sleeping or in the club.

There was about 4 weapons to all these men. Most of them was still scared, crying, and well for most of these men, it was the first battle experience..

I know we was pretty shook up and I believe Charles (the enemy) was pretty shook up too.

Q. So you just remained there huddled in the rocks until the next morning approximately first light is this correct?

A. Affirmative, we stayed in the rocks.

We formed up a little perimeter. We had a couple of wounded personnel in there, and tried to help them out.

They caught us at a bad time, we were all relaxed, most of us had our boots off and most of us were sleeping or else working.

So we stayed in the rocks until morning.

When the first med-evacs started coming in we secured the pad. We took all the men we had and secured the pad.

Sent a couple of patrols out to check the bunkers for bodies, booby traps and other wounded people.

On one of these patrols there was a Lieutenant and another person with us. It was me and SP4 Kelley that went out to check these bunkers.

We found bodies in the bunkers and a couple of satchel charges that were apparently duds, and didn’t work.

There was rumors that there were booby traps but I myself didn’t see any.

Q. Could you describe the weather conditions that existed on the hill during the night and also from where you could see, if you could see combat support like, light fire teams, and Spooky’s that came up here and how effective you think they were.

A. The weather conditions as we went outside was clear as a bell, the stars were out, and it was a beautiful night.

We got real good support almost instantaneous.

Before we made it out of our hooch we got word that two Spooky’s were coming up to our location.
Page 55

That made us really feel happy because we figured that it wasn’t going to be a complete disaster, the way it turned out to be.

The Spooky’s fired around the perimeter real good fire-in-tight.

Page 56 I would say there was artillery called in from 013 was real outstanding even though we didn’t adhere to much of it.

It seemed like there was a lot more banging going around in the perimeter than there was on the outside.

Q. Sgt. Holguin would you explain the support you received, what additional help came in from higher headquarters and exactly what the conditions were on top of the mountain at this time?

A. The support was outstanding we received blankets, water, a little bit of chow, which we needed definitely needed, but I feel that the most important thing that came in was a med-evac to get these wounded personnel out.

We had two outstanding medics from down at our B detachment that came up here.

They did most of the patching on these wounded since the medics we had – the doctor was killed and the 2 assistants were not too experienced.

Page 57

I wouldn’t say inexperienced, the didn’t have time in the combat zone to know how to treat a person like these people were.

We got all our Commo equipment up here. We could set up our relay station once again. We did not have the equipment we really wanted, but we definitely had some outstanding help out of our B team. The other units from the 25th Infantry Division, didn’t get the support that we got.

The support, was mostly chow and goodies for them.

These people didn’t want to stay up there, nor did we want to stay up there, but It was a good thing we did, because once you get away from something like this your always shook up afterwords.

We stayed here overnight. We set up our Commo. We had effective Commo to all the A Detachments and Lady Beetle, Company A, so we really had outstanding support from Company A and B-32.

*******Sergeant Charles E. Hager******

My next interview is with Sergeant E 5 Charles E. Hager.

Q. Sgt. Hager during the 3 months that you were here did you ever have any observations of your own of the defensive set up of Nui Ba Den?

A. OK the defense wasn’t properly manned.

Well if there was a man in the bunker it was just about one person and he wasn’t watching out to the front or anything. He was either in there listening to a tape recorder or sitting down.

I can’t confirm this but at one time I walked in a bunker and there wasn’t anybody in there at all.

Also so they had no camp defense as far as wire. Outside they had 2 strands of wire which can be penetrated just by strolling through it.

Also we never had any alerts, the whole time I was up here we had one alert. That was because there was some ricochets off the mountain from the base camp down at the bottom that was coming over our camp.

That’s the only alert we had the whole time we were up here.

Q. Sgt. Hager what were you doing the evening of 13 May?

A. I was watching TV. We got about 3 rounds in repetition close to our team house. We went out to check it.

Before we got to the door to check it I think 2 more rounds had hit, and that convinced us that we were getting mortared.

We began to get our equipment and started preparing for defensive actions at first and then we called in artillery. Then, Sgt. Gilbert and SP4 Kelly went out to Bunker number 1.

Me and Sgt. Holguin stayed in on the radios.

I was guarding the doors to make certain that no VC came in and tried to get a hold of Holguin.

Page 58

Holguin was on the radio trying to call in artillery, Spooky and light fire teams, when an RPG hit a butane bottle and blew it up and caught the team house on fire.

We had about 2 seconds to get out of there cause the whole thing was on fire.

The radios were knocked out. We left the team house.

Right after we left the team house some mortars came through the roof.

We seen small arms fire when we were leaving the building.

We went down into the rocks behind the building and tried to get head cover because the mortar rounds were coming in all over the place in rapid concession.

We picked up a board and put it in front of us for cover from mortar rounds that were coming in.

We stayed there about 30 minutes and we watched all the building burn and hoping that a round would not hit near us.

After about 30 minutes we got a quick glimpse of a VC that was up on top of the hill by our pagoda.

Before we could recognize him as a VC, we thought we couldn’t fire at him. We thought maybe it might be an American.

But then after we thought about it we knew that it was a VC.

We knew that we had a probe inside the camp. So we stayed there.

In the time being there was explosions all around us. Bombs going off in the hooches and stuff like that. We stayed there until about midnight.

Page 59 We wanted to move, and by this time Spooky came. Spooky was dropping flares.

We heard some American forces behind us. We were going to go up with them, and rally with them.

Page 60

Right after going up there Holguin went to the right and I went to the left. Somebody saw a machine gun out of the bunker that was right by a hooch. I looked up there and there were 3 VC.

So I told Holguin to freeze. He was by a rock and I tried to hide. We weren’t spotted and we didn’t have any cover what so ever to fire back.

I just got partly behind a rock. Couldn’t get at him so we stayed there.

I think that just about then Kelly dropped (fired) the M79 (grenade) into the bunker. I don’t think it killed them. I think it scared them away and after that we moved up behind the rocks there and waited.

About 0130 everybody started rallying together and that was about it.

We started getting all the wounded together and check the area out.

Q. So after you got the wounded together the best you could and formed a perimeter basically around the reservoir you more or less stayed fast the rest of the night. Did you see Sgt. Gilbert or Spec Kelly any time before daybreak?

A. That’s a negative. I saw (them) before we left the hooch.

I was getting Holquin’s web gear for him and after opening the door I saw a 60 or 62 mm mortar hit the bunker that he was in – that Gilbert and Spec Kelly were in.

Then I assumed that they were either dead or wounded.

Later on we thought they were finished because the bunker line was overrun and we didn’t see Sgt. Holguin until the next day.

We were in the rocks. We found out later that he was in bunker 20.

The next day when we started putting out med-evacs and everything I ran into him, and we saw each other.

Q. Would you explain what happen the next day after day break. What sort of support you received and in general what the conditions were on the hill in reference to the morale of the troops and what was being done to give you assistance?

A. As far as support goes (from) Special Forces we got a great amount of support on the first Med-evac that came in.

Two medics from the B detachment came up and helped put the Med-evacs out.

A little on we started bringing in very many supplies for setting up our Commo gear which we had set up by noon that next day.

As far as morale goes it was quite low, for not too long, as far as we go, because we stayed up here. A lot later units got replacements.

*******Major Richard S. Miller******

My next interview is with Richard S. Miller, Major, executive officer for Detachment B32 Company A 5th Special Forces GP.

Page 61

Q. What knowledge did you have of the attack on Nui Ba Den on the night of 13 May?

A. On the evening of the 13th of May I was walking around the B32 Compound I noticed a number of explosions taking place on top of Nui Ba Den mountain.

I went into the communications bunker and I found out we was in contact with the radio sight on top of the hill and they were receiving mortar fire and that we had lost communications with the special forces relay site on the hill.

From that time on … approximately 2300 hours, until approximately 0200 hours the next morning I was in the communications bunker monitoring all these Radio Transmissions between Red Horse Retrans and B-32 communications bunker.

It became apparent during the evening that the sporadic communications … was mixed, matched by the confusion.

There were a large number of casualties and a large amount of damage had been done.

The Special Forces Facility had completely been destroyed and that in general confusion was running.

It was most difficult to get the status of any special forces personnel.

The team house had been destroyed at about 0030 hours.

It became obvious that 2 of the special forces personnel Sgt. Gilbert and SP4 Kelly were all right and at this time.

We determined there was going to be an urgent requirement for resupply of building materials, personal items and radio equipment in order to get the facility operational the next day.

At approximately 0200 hours I departed the Commo bunker and headed back to my billets.

Q. Major Miller why did you go up to Nui Ba Den the next morning, on 14 May?

A. I went up on the mountain the morning of 14 May in order to get first hand information concerning the action that had taken place up there, and the extent of damages and extent of injuries, so I could advise the Commander of Detachment B-32 what the requirements would be to get that facility operational as soon as possible.

In addition I wanted to make sure that what supplies did get to the special forces personnel.

In addition I wanted to find out what the 25th Infantry Division’s intentions were for reoccupation or reinforcement of that installation.

Q. What were your observations and actions when you arrived at the top of the hill.

A. When I arrived at 0900 I found small groups of infantry personnel standing around talking to one another.

Obviously confused and some of them still in shock or a daze.

It took me about 10 minutes to locate an officer who was in charge of the situation.

Page 62

The majority of wounded personnel had been evacuated by the 2 special forces medics sent in at 1st daylight.

The bodies of the KIA (killed) from the previous night were still littering the hilltop.

A few, approximately 15, had been brought down to the helipad but no attempt had been made to evacuate them.

I thought that the presence of these bodies, uncovered, and quite mutilated, were having a detrimental effect on the young enlisted men in the area.

So I immediately organized a carrying party to get the bodies from the side of the hill over to the heli-pad. and start loading choppers as they came in for dispatch to Tay Ninh West for each registration facility.
After I got the bodies by the heli-pad out loaded to Tay Ninh West we organized in teams and started bringing the bodies down off the top of the hill for further evacuation. This seemed to be going rather slowly.

After looking for the special forces personnel to find out just what the situation was as far as they were concerned, I met Lt Ballentine, the Signal officer from Company A, who was there to determine what the requirements were in order to get the radio relay site operational again.

He gave me a briefing of what his findings were.

I received a quick rundown from Sgt. Gilbert the NCOIC (non commissioned officer in charge)..

After I talked to these people I then went over to find out what the 25th Infantry. Division’s intentions were concerning the hill.

I was introduced to a LTC (Lieutenant Colonel) from the 25th Division who stated he was the senior officer on the hill and had been given the mission of assessing the hill.

He was the XO (executive officer) from the 3rd Brigade 25th Division at that particular time.

He had not received any information concerning what the Division’s intentions were. He felt the Division would reinforce but he was not sure.

After this I returned to the special forces location and informed Detachment B-32 communications bunker of the situation, and what the immediate requirements were of the personnel on the hill.

I also informed them of the indubious intentions of the 25th Infantry. Division and made my recommendations that if there was no attempt to reinforce, that the 4 special forces personnel be pulled off the hill. And if there was a reinforcement that the facility stay up there.

From the time that I started talking to the the 25th Division officer, until I had finished at the Det B-32 Communications bunker, there were no aircraft arriving

Page 63

or departing the hill due to the cloud cover that had moved in about this time.

The cloud cover lifted and a number helicopters escorted by gun ships came in and started off loading supplies to the various units that were represented.

Throughout this resupply exercise there was a continual problem of junior enlisted men attempting to get on the helicopter in order to get off the hill.

As a matter of fact when I finally departed the hill to return to B-32 I had to pull 3 young men off those copters and explain that I had no authority to remove them from the hill and that any authority to do so would have to come from their parent organizations.

There seemed to be no attempt being made and to find out what units they belonged to and who was missing and who was available for duty.

After I had completed my survey of the situation of the hill I called for AB 32 work helicopter and was brought back down to the Detachment location.

Q. Sir you mentioned the situation was one of demoralization and lack of organization did you notice any difference In the I special forces people left on the hill?

A. Yes I noticed a definite difference in the attitude of the special forces people on the hill from the remainder of the group there.

And after much thought on this subject I think that it can probably be (due) to a couple of things.

One, the special forces people on the hill were all together, they were working as a group, they seemed to have a feeling of belonging to one another and belonging to a group.

They identified themselves with one another, rather than breaking up in small groups and brooding over their problems.

In regard to this business of brooding over their problems, it seemed that the primary interest of the 4 special forces personnel on the hill was directed toward getting their facility operational and getting back on the air, not in getting themselves off the hill.

As a matter of fact, I discussed the problem earlier that I was having with some of the enlisted personnel up there from the other units trying to get on the helicopter to get off.

With the special forces, it was just the opposite.

I had 2 NCO’s up there who I had to order off the hill.

They were not members of the organization up there, but had volunteered to go up to assist.

I think that the 4 special forces personnel up there realized that there was a unit genuinely interested in their well being.

I think this is evidenced by the fact that the 1st 2 Americans from without that arrived on the scene were the 2 Special Forces medics, that arrived up there and they were shortly followed up there by the communications personnel from Company A and Detachment B-32.

All arriving with personnel, supplies, and clothing and so forth, and food in order to assist these people.

Page 64

So I think it’s a combination of a feeling of belonging to a organization, a feeling that they were being supported, and that they were being appreciated – and the idea of having a definite, effective goal, they were directing their efforts toward.

This kept their mind off the more tragic and undesirable conditions that consisted up there at the time.

Q. Do you have any additional comments you would like to make at this time Sir?

A. There’s one additional comment I would like to make.

This concerns the local security that was in effect the night of 13 May, and possibly even before that.

I feel that from a walk through the area and assessing the damage that was done to the buildings, from the location the buildings was hit and so forth, I think the local security measures on the hill that evening were less than desirable.

I feel that this is one of the primary reasons for the rapid success that the VC (enemy) enjoyed that evening.

They were able to splinter or fragment the U.S. personnel up there (with ease) and then to clean them up (kill them) by individual groups, rather than (encounter) an organized and a well directed defensive effort.

The facilities that were made available to the personnel up there were not the best type of facilities for that type of situation.

The wooden structures in the photographs that the investigating officer has, I’m sure indicate a lack of defensive ability.

Possibly fighting bunkers would have allowed them a better chance, would have allowed them to better defend their positions. I think that’s all I have to add. Thank you very much Sir.

*******SP 4  Larry D. Kelly******

My next Interview is with specialist Specialist Fourth Class Larry D. Kelly, radio operator at Nui Ba Den.

Here are his comments:
We pull eight hour shifts, working radio listening to monitor continuously.

At this time after we realized we were under attack we knew we were going to have to call some artillery and this man on radio watch, Sgt. Holguin, started calling various people trying to get some Dep Cons fired.

We hadn’t yet figured out which way every thing was coming from.

we didn’t know until later on that night he was trying to call artillery and trying to clear the artillery through a couple of people.

They had already received a couple hits on their building.

So they couldn’t help any and they couldn’t get anything cleared.

So we didn’t get any artillery for a pretty good while.

The mortar rounds, I don’t know exactly how many came in. I didn’t hear anybody say how many we got even. We did receive about 30 to 40 mortar rounds during the whole affair. I guess from 15 to 20 minutes we were receiving mortar rounds.

Page 65 We located the antenna of our 25 (PRC-25 Radio -portable back pack radio).

I went out into a bunker with SFC Gilbert. The bunker had already taken 2 mortar rounds when I got to it. So I figured we wouldn’t get hit again on that bunker.

But we were in the bunker and Gilbert was trying to call someone on the 25 (PRC-25 portable back pack radio).

We were down on the back of the mountain with the short antenna and no one could hear it. We were on the wrong side of the mountain to be talking to the B team.

Page 66

When we were not able to make communications with anyone there was still mortar rounds going off all over the place, and small arms, we set up a defense inside the bunker.

We didn’t know if any other bunkers were still around. I was guarding the door and I noticed some small arms fire coming from a bunker that no one was suppose to be in.

I wasn’t sure there wasn’t any Americans in it so I didn’t fire. I waited awhile and then in about 1 minute 2 figures came out from around the back of this bunker.

I still didn’t know if they were any of our friendly CIDG (one of several South Vietnamese irregular military units during the Vietnam War) or if they were VC.

I didn’t really think the VC had time to get on the mountain yet so I didn’t shoot. Then one of them shot our hootch (living quarters) with a RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenade) and I shot him.
Page 67 ARTWORK BY SP4 JIM D. NELSON

The other one I didn’t see where he went. He left just before the 1st one fired the RPG.

Page 68 After that I fired one M79 (grenade) round into the bunker they were in.

I went back to the front of the bunker to get some M 79 rounds, when they shot the front of our hootch (living quarters) with either another mortar or an RPG.

At this time we all crawled out the front and stayed in front, just in case some one came and threw some satchel charges inside the bunker.

We stayed at the front of the bunker for 30 to 45 minutes. Everything started to seem kind of quiet.

We could hear small arms and the flames from a hootch (living quarters) was going on all around there.

And the smoke we could see all the way across the big pond. Sgt. Gilbert could see all the way around the other side.

We were guarding both sides to see that no one came up and we stayed there awhile. Then we could still hear a bunch of small arms and stuff.

Page 69

So we moved in on the side about 40 to 50 meters and stayed there on the side to get out of the smoke from our hootch burning up.

There were only 2 of us Sgt. Gilbert and myself.

One E6 that was in the bunker when we got in there and 2 CIDG that were with us.

In the Commo (communications) room they had a radio relay up there also.

We moved down the side of the mountain and we were trying to call different stations with different frequencies on our radio.

We were unsuccessful at first. Finally about 20 to 30 minutes after we got down there we got in touch with Katum and they told us to go to 6800 on our radio where everyone else was.

When we went up there we started calling people and Red horse Retrans (Retransmission Station) told us he was in bunker 20.

So we immediately started navigating toward this bunker.

We moved up the side of the mountain toward the bottom dike of this water reservoir. we had to walk across the bottom to keep from being seen by anyone.
Photo by Captain Ronald Herman Tinnel

We got to the bunker, enough to go up over the top. Sgt. Gilbert started up over the top. When he got to the top he received some fire.

Some people were hollering ‘cease fire,’ as they thought it was friendly.

But other people I’ve talked to since this has happened, I didn’t know at this time that this was not friendly fire.

Everyone that was in the bunker yelled for someone to ‘cease fire.’ Then we dove down.

We all thought it was friendly fire, but we later found out that it wasn’t coming from this same bunker on the other side of our hootch where I seen the first two before.

I suppose there were still a couple of VC up there with some automatic weapons. It wasn’t AK47. It was a grease gun or something else similar.

Page 70

After we got to the bunker Sgt. Gilbert and this E6 that was in the bunker I went on up to the bunker.

Myself and the 2 CIDG’s (Civilian Irregular Defense Group, one of several South Vietnamese irregular military units during the Vietnam War) stayed down behind the big rock and worked our way around the bottom to keep them going over the top from drawing fire if they came under fire again.

We got up to the bunker.

I was went down and laid down behind the rock. This big rock to the left above bunker 20. We needed to do a diversionary to keep some one from coming up the side and give a shot at the bunker.

It was the only bunker that we knew that was in operation and we wanted to get some kind of security around it.

I stayed there by the rock and the flares were coming in from the Spooky.

The helicopter gun ships were firing all around the mountain.

Page 71 The ‘Spooky’ stayed there about 30- 40 minutes, dropping flares and flying all around the mountain, continuously for 30 – 40 minutes.

The helicopter gun ships were also firing up and down the side of the mountain. I presume the low valleys that made up to the both sides of the chopper pad where it looked like they were firing.

I know once they got kind of close. I don’t think they knew I was down by the rocks which wouldn’t make much difference.

I was still inside the perimeter. They were getting kind of close sometimes.

The ‘Spooky’s’ were firing so much that we would have to hold radio communications until after they were through firing until we could talk.

I don’t really remember the time but after the ‘Spooky’ left he flew around and dropped a couple flares and the clouds started coming in and it rained from that time on till the next morning at about 4:00.

When the rain started all I had on was my jungle boots cut off pants and my wet gear, so I made it up to the bunker and stayed inside the bunker while it was raining.

Page 72

Some people had already checked the mountain out once for being secured.

While at night they located a bunch of wounded people and I got a pretty good picture of how everything was.

I was so cold when I got to bunker. I stayed in there. I just got all this (information) from the people who came back from the patrols.

The next morning at first light, one group went down to take care of the chopper pads to see if we could get “Dust Offs’ (medical evacuation helicopters) out.

A couple more of us went around and started checking the bunker line out to see if we left any people and to see if there was anyone else on the mountain.

We made the check, and had gotten to the Pagoda. By the time we got to the pagoda they were already making “Dust Offs’ (medical evacuation helicopters) moving the wounded out.

On the 1st ‘Dust Off’ Chopper ” (medical evacuation helicopters) the medic and his assistant came up. They started patching some people up that were on the pad.

They got the most urgent people. Some guys were just barely hurt. They were on litters.

There were ones hurt pretty bad. These people that were down here were leaving the ones that were hurt pretty bad until last.

They didn’t have any organization as to urgency of certain patients. They just put someone on there, if they were on a stretcher first. If they could walk, they got on by their selves.

The stretchers did go on first however, but some of the stretchers were not as urgent as others. I feel they should have put the most urgent first.

Well by the time the 2 medics from the B team had looked at all the patients they found one guy his leg was shot up pretty bad and he was already turning pale.

He felt alright, but he had been left until last. Then they got him on as soon as they could.

SP4 Burns and I checked around the bunker line one more time to see if we could find any more wounded people. We located some more KIAs (killed in action).

We started moving them down to the chopper pad because most of the wounded had already come out and had already been taken back to base camp.

We stayed here the following morning. At about 9:30-10:00 we got some more communications equipment. About 3 or 4 people came up to help us carry this communications equipment.

Page 73

We had set up communications temporarily in the pagoda, a big concrete building that’s up there on the mountain. I don’t know how long but its pretty secure and solid.

We set up communications here and started working on putting out communications back together and figure out where.

We finished our building defenses and bunkers.

The supplies they brought up Included one rectifier to keep power to the batteries a PRC 47 radio, and 2 PRC 25 radios ( portable back pack radios).

We received about 10 gallons of water, some food, clothing, blankets, and ammunition, for M-16 rifles and carbines.

We worked most of the day carrying this stuff up to the pagoda where we stayed.
*******Captain R.Harold Winton*******

I am Captain Harold R. Winton, Unit Historian for Detachment B32, 5th Special Forces Group located in Tay Ninh Province.  Now that you have heard from the personnel that were actually on the mountain, I’d like to give you an idea of what the Battle of Nui Ba Den the night of 13 May looked like and also sounded like from the B detachment here as we were monitoring the progress.

Before you can make any sense of this at all any of my conversation you will need to know the call signs:

Alien 06, is the call sign for the Forward Air Controller that went air borne that night.

Sabeone 3 is the call sign for the 2nd Battallion, 32nd artillery support for Tay Ninh province.

In Field Sinker is a call sign is the A Detachment 324 Nui Ba Den.

Flexible and specifically flexible 33 is the S3 section at the 3rd Brigade 25 Div located at Dau Tieng which had over all responsibility of the area.

Red Horse Retrans is the call sign for the retransmission station on top of Nui Ba Den Mountain for the 3rd Squadron, 17th Cavalry headquarters in Tay Ninh West base camp.

Roxy trays is the call sign for Katum, a camp located some 30 kilometers north of Nui Ba Den.

Indicated 58 is the call sign for the artillery unit located at Katum – two 105 mm artillery pieces.

Unjust Ringer is the call sign for Detachment B 32 here at Tay Ninh East.

I was first notified of the contact at Nui Ba Den at roughly 2145 – 2200.

All I heard that the mountain was taking incoming (fire).

I didn’t attach a whole lot of importance to this at first, but since I had to always go over to radio rooms as they progressed.

Page 74

I went over into Commo (communications) to find out what was going on at this time.

I monitored several transmissions, from Infield Sinker 013 asking for artillery concentration to be fired on them. He held several transmissions between himself and Sgt. Holguin on the radio.

Finally at 2220 I heard the last transmission of the day from an excited voice saying get some artillery in here fast.

And then the radios went dead.

I imagine this is about the time the RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenade) hit the butane tanks which caused the radios to go dead.

I talked to Sgt. Holguin later and he said his last transmission was, “we’re going off the air out,” I never heard him say this, the last I heard him say was “get some artillery in here fast.

So I imagine the radios went out before he stopped transmitting.

I talked with the artillery battalion later and Infield Sinker 224 was the only unit on the air that was calling for artillery at the time.

As soon as we lost contact with Nui Ba Den, I waited about 5 minutes to verify that we had lost contact. Then I notified Colonel Ray at 2230 that we had lost communication contact with the mountain..

I had notified him previously that they had been under attack.

About 2310 they were on station and ‘Spooky’ was on call.

We were very concerned about the status of Special Forces personnel and exactly what was going on with them because we hadn’t heard anything on them since 2230, when they went off the air.

One problem we did have was getting everyone on a compatible frequency.

The Alien FAC (Forward Air Controller) could not go to 6800 on his FM Radios. So we put a PRC-25 portable back pack radio in the back seat with Johnson and he was changing off and on from 6600 talking to people on the ground back to 4930 which was our frequency.

Then we thought since the FM was no good that we could go to UHF and have the light fire team which was on station at this time couple with 7AC on UHF and we tried this and couldn’t get a compatible frequency here.

We finally got a compatible on UHF and Alien could transmit to the light fire team.

The light fire team could hear them and talk back but Alien couldn’t receive so we were sort of in a mess trying to get everybody talking to everyone else on the same frequency.

This situation continued for a while.

At 1410 we heard from Foxy trays, that’s Katum, that Infield Sinker 28, that’s Sgt. Gilbert, and one other man were OK.

Page 75

They were located 50 meters north of the perimeter.

Sgt. Hager and Holguin were still missing and had last been seen in the team house which was burning down.

During this time the 1st light fire team expended around the perimeter.

At about 0130 the mountain got fogged in very badly and the ‘Spooky’ was flying around and dropping its flares and keep missing and flying off to the north and off to the east.
Although I will say he did an outstanding job of providing continuous illumination through the night.

They did have illumination most of the night.

Finally got ‘Spooky’ reoriented. During this time the light fire team was expended.

‘Spooky’ was expending and they were receiving from medium to heavy antiaircraft fire from around the base of the mountain and on the sides of the mountain.

Page 76 The light fire team and ‘Spooky’ shot up these areas pretty well.

A large pagoda was the source of a lot of this and we were going to shoot it up with artillery but the (trajectory) was too high and ‘Spooky’ would been endangered. So we pretty much let it go.

This pagoda has long been known as a Viet Cong (VC) dominated area but its a prominent religious shrine in Tay Ninh province and so far we haven’t been able to shoot it up.

We were actually suppose to get artillery from Tay Ninh West base camp.

Some of the troops on the hill had organized a semblance of a perimeter around the reservoir.

They were patched up, as many were wounded, a large number possibly killed.

Page 77

They were small pockets of resistance scattered around the mountain however they were afraid to move because they was still a possibility the VC were still in the perimeter and that everybody that moved would be shot at either by friendlies or VC’s.

So there wasn’t a whole lot more that could be done.

Red Horse Retrans (Retransmission Station) reported that all buildings but one had been destroyed and that most of the bunkers had been destroyed also.

We made arrangements with the Tay Ninh ‘Dust Off’ ” (medical evacuation helicopter) pilots who were sure to be flying in the next morning at first light.

They were to come by here first to pick up 2 medics Sgt. Benny E. Wigginton, senior medic at Detachment B-32) and Spec Byrne along with all our supplies we had pushed out.

We talked also with 3rd Brigade 25th Div Detachment 23 about stocking up supplies and radio equipment for then to send in from Dau Tieng, since we thought that some Dau Tieng Choppers would be going in.

They said they would do something about it but as it turned out they never did.

The only supplies went in the next morning other than one unit of PRC 25 radios, ours sent in B-32 and the special forces people ended up giving a lot of the clothes, C rations and everything else, ponchos, blankets and stuff that came in to the other conventional units. They didn’t receive any other supplies.

At about 0700 hours the 1st Medevac went in with Sgt. Benny E. Wigginton,, senior medic at Detachment B-32, and Spec Byrne.

There were no other medical personnel, doctors, nurses, aid men, corpsmen. None of the other units sent (supplies) up to Nui Ba Den.

There had been 3 medics of the 25th Div at the time on the hill. One was an E6 or E7 who was killed. The other two were a SP4 and PFC who really didn’t have enough experience to accomplish anything.

So the most of the, in fact the total amount, almost (all) of the medical treatment fell on Sgt. Wiggington and Spec Byrne, who established priorities and started moving Medevacs (medical evacuation helicopters) back down the hill.

After all this time I talked to Maj Kelly the Chief of operations office 25th Division, who asked me for an assessment of the situation.

I wanted to ask him whether or not he planned to stay up on the hill.

Page 78

Our plans were to get Commo (communications) equipment up there and since we knew, well I’m getting ahead of myself.

I went to bed for about 2 ½ hours and woke up and found out that Holguin an Hager were all right, and immediately notified Company A.

And by this time it was about 7:00 when the first Med evac went in.

A little after that I talked to the 21st Div and told them our plans were to, as soon as possible, reestablish communications on the mountain.

The night before we had called A Company and told them all the equipment were totally destroyed.

That morning they had a slick come out with Lt Ballentine, the signal officer from company A.

Lt Ballentine had a host of Commo (communications) equipment with, rectifier, batteries and everything else that would be needed to reestablish Communications upon the hill.

The only thing he didn’t have was a power supply and we got a 125KW generator, AC from Trang Sut and sent it up to the mountain for the power supply.
Then when Lt. Ballentine came with the radios we spent most of the morning shuttling up tent sand bags, clothing ponchos, the generator, I had mentioned cot, more food and clothing, a couple cases of C rations, shuttled up a big cardboard box of PX supplies, shaving equipment writing paper, pens cigarettes soap, everything we could think of took out of the PX and threw it in a box and sent it up there.

Plus Sgt. Johnson, the operations Sgt, got a case of whiskey for them and sent that up. Sent up a case of cold beer and a case of cold soda for them.

And so our people were pretty well squared away by noon that day.
By about 1400 that day they were back in operation.

We had several people down here.

Sgt. Sherwin and Sgt. Bayne volunteered to go up to the hill and we let him go.

Sgt. Sherwin we wanted to keep out of Ben Soi for a while, and he wanted to go back up there and help them get set up again.

Sgt. Moore volunteered to go back up. Every body, it seemed, wanted to go back up.

Sgt. ? was com chief, then went up along with Lt Ballentine and the radio equipment to help get set back up again.

We finally got a determination from the 25th Division that, yes they would reinforce the hill, yes, they were going to keep their communication equipment up there and Lt. Ballentine finally got permission to move into the pagoda.

Page 79

So he started setting up the radios on the hill, after the 1st load we sent up (with) the Commo (communications) equipment.

The ship came back to Tay Ninh East. It had 2 Americans who had been killed on it. He also had about 4-5 able bodied Americans left along with the wall.

The chopper set down at Tay Ninh East by mistake instead of Tay Ninh West.

I was really amazed at what appeared to be the exodus from the mountain from people trying to get off any way they could.

Contrary to this, the special forces people were trying to get up there anyway they could.

I think, and this is purely conjecture on my part, based on what happened.

I think that one of the problems was that all the units sent their people up there. They had a provisional company of KP’s, and other types to secure the place.

Basically what these people did was send their people up to secure the place. These units sent them up to Nui Ba Den and forgot about them. Or said they were under the control of the 25th Div. There was no unit identity, no cohesiveness, no sense of sticking together, and getting the job done or getting reestablished or anything else except for 324 (our unit).

We have kept close watch on them.

I don’t say that people from the B team get up there every day or even though the day we had the work chopper but at least there’s somebody that goes up there once a week, checks on them make sure they get plenty of food beer soda, and these sort of things all the time.

And the men really had a unit cohesiveness and even though they were separated, when they got back together the next morning they were able to stick together and get on with the job.

As I said I wasn’t an the mountain at the time but this will give you an idea of what took place as seen from the B detachment by monitoring the radio and by observing what went on here.

I’ve got negative further.

******A NOTE FROM THE VIRTUAL WALL******

Nui Ba Den (Black Virgin Mountain), a dormant volcano, rises some 3000 feet above the surrounding plain in Tay Ninh Province. During the war, the Army had a signal relay station atop the mountain, and Allied troops controlled the plain below – but the slopes of the jungle-covered Black Virgin were no-man’s-land. On 13 May 1968 the VC attacked the relay station, killing at least 21 American servicemen in bitter hand-to-hand fighting:

* CPT George Coleman, Birmingham, AL, Prov Sig Co, 125th Sig Bn
* CPT Arthur L. Davis, Beaufort, NC, 587th Sig Co, 86th Sig Bn
* 2LT Thomas N. Teague, Mountlake Terrace, WA, Prov Sig Co, 125th Sig Bn
* SSG Ray W. Owen, Columbia, SC, Prov Sig Co, 125th Sig Bn
Page 80

* SSG Harold A. Stone, Champaign, IL, Prov Sig Co, 125th Sig Bn
* SSG Bobby C. Wood, Monroe, LA
* SGT Joseph Adams, New Orleans, LA, Prov Sig Co, 125th Sig Bn
* SGT Fernando Calle-Zuluaga, Los Angeles, CA, 587th Sig Co, 86th Sig Bn
* SGT Timothy J. Noden, Linwood, PA, A Co, 2nd Bn, 18th Infantry
* SP4 John A. Anderson, Williamsville, NY,HHC, 4th Bn, 9th Infantry
* SP4 Ralph R. Black, Crystal Falls, MI, C Co, 121st Sig Bn
* PFC Samuel G. Connelly, Hammond, IN, A Co, 2nd Bn, 18th Infantry
* SP4 Moses J. Cousin, Detroit, MI, Prov Sig Co, 125th Sig Bn
* SP4 Albert E. Dahl, Aurora, IL, B Co, 125th Sig Bn
* SP4 James A. Davis, Orlando, FL, B Co, 125th Sig Bn

Gilin Gary 1st squad
* SP4 Gary J. Gilin, Detroit, MI, A Co, 4th Bn, 9th Infantry
* SP4 Jeffrey W. Haerle, Minneapolis, MN, HQ, 3rd ASA Fld Station
* SP4 Paul R. Hoag, Poughkeepsie, NY, Prov Sig Co, 125th Sig Bn
* SP4 Michael J. Juneau, Hessmer, LA, B Co, 125th Sig Bn
Page 81 * SP4 Paul R. Lozano, Bay City, TX, 587th Sig Co, 86th Sig Bn

* SP4 Frank J. Makuh, Placentia, CA, C Co, 121st Sig Bn

******18 AUGUST 1968 BATTLE*******

On 17 August 1968 a series of attacks occurred in Tay Ninh Province, leading to a month’s hard fighting. The 25th Infantry Division’s After-Action Report for the Battle of Tay Ninh City contains the following entry for the night of 17/18 August:

After Action Report

http://www.virtual.vietnam.ttu.edu/cgi-bin/starfetch.exe?wwkttvCuRjhq7RSCbavHjIrMvAF7k6A0DyJ8clVvLeLZmODx5w5pmojYT.XQ4XgIml65kb8mMjOyUitDxPrlKJ4nmrWXKm5fWrAMLgn4o8Q/2930218005.pdf

The enemy made a serious attempt to disrupt electronic communications into and out of Tay Ninh City at 0234 hours when an estimated company assaulted the perimenter of the communications relay site on the summit of Nui ba den Mountain (XT281581) to the northeast of Tay Ninh.

Striking with small arms, automatic weapons and rockets against the facility’s bunker line manned by A Company, 3d battalion, 22d Infantry, the enemy was able to breach the line in one location and was successful in blowing up one generator before he was pushed back out of the site.

“All other sectors of the bunker line held fast throughout the night and at approximately 0615 hours, the enemy withdrew down the mountain leaving behind leaving 15 dead, five AK-47 rifles, three rocket launchers, three pistols, 12 hand grenades, 100 sachel charges and 20 RPG rocket rounds.

Eight defenders of the mountain top were killed in the fighting, but the enemy was unable to accomplish his objective of disrupting the flow of vital radio communications for TAY NINH and the surrounding area.”

Page 82

The eight US soldiers who died at Nui Ba Den were

 

  • 125th Sig Bn, 25th Inf Div
    • SP4 Ronald M. Heinecke, Theresa, WI, Prov Sig Company
    • PFC Arturo S. Zamora, Mathis, TX, C Company


  • A Company, 3rd Bn, 22nd Infantry, 25th Inf Div
    • SGT James C. Kraynak, Connellsville, PA
    • SGT Kenneth L. Krom, Walkersville, MD
    • SP4 James R. Moncrief, Cordova, AL
    • PFC Gilbert T. Delgado, Houston, TX
    • PFC Roy D. Lowe, Charlotte Court House, VA


  • F Company, 50th Infantry, 25th Inf Div
  • PFC Lorenzo Sewell, Sayreton, AL

************** **************

 

  • Source of the following story:
  • http://www.25thida.com/TLN/tln3-37.htm#v3n37p7b
    Page 8        TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS      September 9, 1968
    Six-Pronged Attack
    Regulars Save Relay Site
    3D BDE – Driving off a reinforced Viet Cong company and killing at least 10 attackers, 25th Division
    infantrymen staged a heroic defense to save the retransmission and relay site atop Nui Ba Den mountain.
    • Plagued by 45 mile-an-hour winds, the defenders, including Alpha Company, 3d Battalion, 22d Infantry and members of the Provisional Company, 125th Signal Battalion, which operates the communications facility, held their ground despite near-zero visibility.
    • The mountain outpost was hit with a six-pronged attack in the midst of a rainstorm four hours before dawn.
    • “The VC were running all over the edge of the perimeter,” said Captain Ardre Blackmon of Augusta, Ga., Alpha Company commander.  He said the enemy used wire cutters to get through the concertina and rubber bands to render trip flares harmless.
      Page 83
      While the 3d Brigade Regulars were holding the bunker line, First Lieutenant Philip A. Girmus, signal officer from Seattle, Wash., was leading his reaction force of signalmen from the signal site at the crest of the peak down to the threatened perimeter.
    • Shortly after the attack started, Captain Blackmon was faced with a decision whether to pull his men back to the top of the outpost or to have them stay and hold the bunker line.  He chose to have his men hold, and this was seen as a major factor in saving the site and in defeating the enemy, probably saving many lives.
    • “My men are real heroes,” said Blackmon.  “They did what they were told and they did it well.”
      Many individual acts of heroism were cited by infantrymen who withstood the murderous assault.
      Men of the 588th Engineers Battalion put a security force in position around the signal buildings at the top of the mountain.
    • Lieutenant Edward D. Montgomery of Burns Flat, Okla., Alpha Company’s forward observer, kept eight-inch artillery shells raining in on all avenues of approach.
    • A sweep around and throughout the perimeter revealed the dead and numerous blood trails.  More than 15 weapons were confiscated, among them eight RPG rocket launchers, two AK-50 assault rifles and four Chi-Com pistols. In addition, 30 RPG rounds were found, as well as more than a hundred satchel charges.

Source of the following story:

http://www.25thida.com/TLN/tln3-36.htm#v3n36p8a

Page 8                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS September 2, 1968

‘A second target for the coordinated enemy advance was the communications center atop the 3200 foot Nui Ba Den mountain near the fire support base.

The small signal relay station received fire from small arms, automatic weapons and RPG rounds, beginning at 2am.  The sharp conflict continued until dawn.

At one point, four bunkers were occupied by enemy troops.  Ten Viet Cong were killed while eight Americans died and 23 were wounded.’

*******A MEDIC’S DIARY – OCTOBER 1968*******
I am Ivan Katzenmeier, Sr Medic, assigned to Charlie Company, 3rd/22nd, 25th Infantry Division. The following is my diary while stationed on the mountain.
ON TOP OF THE BLACK LADY
(Nui Ba Den – Black Virgin Mountain in Vietnam)

4 October 68 Nui Ba Din – I am now on the mountain top. The bunker I am in has electric lights, TV, refrigerator, and bed with mattress.

Page 84

It is very foggy at night and hard to see anything.
5 October 68 Nui Ba Din, The Black Virgin Mountain camp.

This camp is 1000 meters high, 3000 feet. There is a lot of communications equipment and antennas up here.

Helicopters bring all our supplies every day at 2 PM.
That is when the fog lifts up here for 30 minutes.
Page 85 At the highest point is a pagoda. The walls are a foot thick.

Bunkers surround the camp along with barbed wire and mines.

This camp was over run on 13 May 1968, 4 and 18 August 1968, by the Viet Cong, who live below us in caves in the mountain side. They attacked the camp, capturing the helicopter landing pad and set up the mortars on it and shelled the camp.

They threw a satchel charge of explosives into the medics’ bunker.

Page 86 This is the Medics’ where I will be staying.

The camp is more secure now, since the barbed wire and bunker line have been extended to include the helicopter landing area. So this denies the enemy access to it. They can’t set up mortar tubes any place else, since there is no other level spot below us.

Page 87 This camp is covered with large boulders. Some have artwork and names etched in the rock.

Skulls and bones can be seen if you look down between the boulders. Remains of prior battles. The Black Virgin must have tears in her eyes when she looks down on this mountain and sees the killing. Maybe that is why it rains so much in this country.

6 October 68 Nui Ba Din – I really like it on this mountain top. It is foggy a lot of the time.

7 October 68 Nui Ba Din – I am in charge of improving the sanitation up here. The latrines are unbelievably filthy. There are barrels of human waste piled around the latrines. They must be burned. Flies are numerous. I will have the situation under control in a couple of days. I have been given a four man detail plus my 3 medics to help me get it cleaned up.

The Viet Cong have let us alone up here so far. Part of the reason is that the men fire their machine guns down the mountainside every 10 minutes (recon by fire).
Page 88 Tonight I fired 18 rounds with my M-16 rifle to make sure it was firing OK.

9 October 68 Nui Ba Din – This morning is beautiful. The sky is clear, the breeze is cool, but not chilly. Tay Ninh, Cu Chi and Dau Tieng and Cambodia can be seen in the distance.

Jets are zooming over us making a deafening noise.

This is the only place in Viet Nam I have liked.

Page 89 Boulder Crushes Man
9 October 68 Nui Ba Din – Two large boulders fell on one of our men at 11:00 this morning, crushing his hip and legs.  His name is Joseph Mack.

He was in the hospital when I was wounded. He is a nice guy.

It took 30 men and a hydraulic jack to help slide him out from under the big rock.

Rain loosened the boulders and they rolled down on him while he was standing by his bunker.

It narrowly missed two other men who tried to push him out of the way, but they weren’t fast enough.

This is his ticket back to the ‘world’ (The U.S.).
Page 90 The ‘dust off’ evacuation helicopter got here before we rescued him. I was glad the fog had cleared so it could land.

10 October 68 Nui Ba Din – I got clean clothes today.

‘The Medicine Woman’
There is a Special Forces group up here to run the communications equipment. They brought up a Vietnamese girl to keep them company. She is their ‘nurse.’

No women are allowed up here so I doubt if she will hold many ‘sick calls’ before she is invited to practice her ‘medicine’ elsewhere!

MUSIC BY AIR

11 October 68 Nui Ba Din – A Red Cross plane circled the mountain top this morning playing music for us.

I have been reading the Bible and the ‘Ugly American.’

11 October 68 Nui Ba Din – The wind is blowing hard outside and it is rainy and cool on this mountain top. We are to have a severe tropical storm today.

I went before the promotion board and ranked in first place, so I will be Specialist 5th Class soon.

Fighting has slowed down and there is a rumor of a bombing halt.

Wind Storm Destroys Roof

12 October 68 – Nui Ba Din – A bad wind storm last night tore a roof from the Orderly room and scattered all over the mountain top. Some of it flew over our bunker.

Page 91

One man was slightly hurt with a scalp wound.

Men on the bunker line saw several Viet Conq close to their positions. This has been going on for a while. They like to probe our defenses and find out our weak points.
I have a new medic from California. I believe he is Oriental (Japanese?). He knows first aid very well.

My Editorial

The newspapers tell how many of the enemy have been defecting, but they don’t put on the front page that 48,000 So. Vietnamese Army Regulars have deserted their units in the last 6 months. That was on the back page of the newspaper.

I believe we should not be fighting a war for people who aren’t doing their share of the fighting. They only want our U.S. dollars and our men to do their fighting.

13 October 68 Nui Ba Din -

Today is Sunday. I read from the Bible, the book of Matthew today. We had church on Friday. All my medics go to church.

16 October 68 Nui Ba Din – Last night a man had a fever of 102. The fever left him last night about 9 O’Clock. His platoon sergeant was upset with me because I didn’t evacuate him. He thought he could have malaria.
Page 92 The Captain called in a ‘dust off’ evacuation helicopter this afternoon to send him to the Battalion Surgeon. I think they were over reacting, but they aren’t trained medics, and didn’t want to be responsible if he was seriously ill.

18 October 68 Nui Ba Din – We are supposed leave this mountain in a few days for a new assignment.

19 October 68 Nui Ba Din – We are to have another severe tropical storm. It has been cold and rainy today.

All of Charlie Company’s clerks and other base camp soldiers are to be sent up here. Rumors are that we will be up here two more weeks.

A Vote Against the Democrats

I received an absentee ballot today for the November Presidential election. I voted for Nixon. There are rumors that President Johnson is ordering a halt on the bombing of North Viet Nam. I hope it brings peace.

Buildings Destroyed by Storm

20 October 68 – Nui Ba Din – The tropical storm hit.

The wind was 130 knots and destroyed the orderly room and part of the mess hall.
Page 93 A lot of antennas fell.

They just put the roof back on the orderly room after it was blown off 5 days ago!

I just got my first free Army hair cut! The Sergeant Major sent up a soldier who is a professional barber to cut hair. He is from Nebraska.

The weather is cold, but I don’t have to go out in it. I lie in bed covered up with a wool blanket and watch TV, listen to the radio and read. Good duty.

21 October 68 – Nui Ba Din – The weather is improving. Helicopters are able to get up here with supplies for the first time in several days. They are our lifeline to the base camp. They are our only way out of here, since the mountainside belongs to the Viet Cong.

NEW MONEY FOR OLD
Page 94

We aren’t allowed to have U.S. Currency over here, only MPC or Military Pay Currency.

It was announced we have to exchange all our bills for new MPC.

The old money is now worthless, so Vietnemese dealing in our Military Pay Currency (MPC) will not be allowed to exchange it and it will be worthless to them.

Since we can’t have US currency incur possession, this prevents U..S. currency from getting into enemy hands for them to use to buy supplies.

I bought a Seiko watch from a friend for $23. It costs about $36 in the PX.

22 October 68 Nui Ba Din – I was offered $30 for my watch, but didn’t sell it.

I exchanged my MPC (money) today. It is raining again, but it was clear this morning.

We had ice cream for dinner, which was a treat.

Page 95

23 October 68 Nui Ba Din – I am reading ‘Mila 18′ about the persecution of the Polish Jews in World War II. It is a 560 page book.

More rumors of a bombing halt of North Viet Nam and a cease fire. I hope it works.

Today is a nice day with clear skies.

25 October 68 A man was burned on his face, hands, stomach and back today. He was throwing gasoline on a fire.

The nights are very cool up here. I sleep under a wool blanket.

I finished reading ‘Mila 18.’
Our base camp is to be moved from Dau Tieng to Tay Ninh.

News of Captain Hansard’s Death

Captain Hansard, former commander of Charlie Company was shot by a sniper a few days ago.

I thought a lot of him…. He was a true leader I could follow and trust. And he trusted me.

He was the ideal Army officer.

He was with Charlie Company on the day I was wounded.

I feel extremely sad at his death and very angry right now. A deep sense of loss hangs over me like a dark cloud.

I never had the desire to take anyone’s life in this war until now. I would like to kill who ever fired the shot that killed him.

Page 96 I remember the day I was wounded, I admired him for the example of courage he demonstrated to us that day.

I was overwhelmed with a sense of my mortality.

Death was all around us. The bullets had no respect for who you were. They cut through friend and foe alike.

It didn’t matter whether you were a good person or not. There didn’t seem to be a God looking over us any more, keeping us safe. He was not in control any more.

But when I looked at Captain Hansard on that dreadful day, sensed that he had confidence in his Creator. He seemed safe and protected from all danger that day. I wanted that too-

Now he is dead. It just doesn’t make sense why he should be taken from this world.

I will be struggling with this for a long time.

I want this war to end so that more good men like Captain Hansard will not be killed needlessly.

26 October 68 Nui Ba Din – Today a man ripped his leg open when a board with a nail in it fell on him. I sent him to the hospital for stitches.

The other day a man was injured when a bullet exploded in a fire.

I have cured myself of a case of athletes foot. I now have to keep my feet dry so it doesn’t come back.

29 October 68 Nui Ba Din – I received my orders today that I am an E-5. I will be making over $400 a month now.

3 November 68 Tay Ninh – Today is the day I have been waiting for! The Battalion Surgeon, Captain Sweatman took me out of the field.

I will be working in the Battalion Aid Station Treatment Room.
I am no longer in Charlie Company, but in Headquarters Company.

************************************

Source for the following story:  http://www.25thida.com/TLN/tln4-20.htm

Vol 4 No. 20                TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                May 19, 1969

Tomahawks Triumph In Mountainside Battle

TAY NINH – Playing a deadly game of hide and seek on the side of Nui Ba Den Mountain, Tomahawks from the 4th Battalion (Mechanized), 23d Infantry, killed eight Viet Cong.
The Tropic Lightning troops were inching their way up the mountain, checking everywhere for evidence of Charlie when the firelight erupted.
Initial contact was made when an enemy soldier jumped out of a hole 15 feet in front of the pointman and tossed a Chicom grenade at him.  The pointman rolled underneath a rock, escaping the blast and certain death.
“As soon as the first grenade went off, two snipers opened up on us.  They were on top of two giant rocks,” said Sergeant Henry Pistilli of Levittown, Pa.  “In back of the snipers we could see a mortar team pumping out rounds, we immediately called in support from the tanks we had down at the bottom of the mountain,” continued Pistilli.
As the Tomahawks, tanks and one eight-inch self-propelled artillery piece saturated the mountainside, the VC guns fell silent.
When the smoke lifted from the rocky mountainside, eight Viet Cong lay dead as the result of American firepower.

Page 97

JUNE 15, 1969  (Corrected Date)

SAPPER

ATTACK

PHOTOS

(CLICK ON PHOTOS TO ENLARGE)

Page 98

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Page 99 (CLICK ON PHOTOS TO ENLARGE)

(CLICK ON PHOTOS TO ENLARGE)

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Page 100

553rd EMS technicians serviced the equipment in the relay van. While preparing the relay van for airlift back to Korat, this unexploded sapper charge was found! This is the type of explosive charge planted by the Viet Cong to blow up the vans.

      (CLICK ON PHOTOS TO ENLARGE)

(CLICK ON PHOTOS TO ENLARGE)

Source of photos and narrative:    http://www.westin553.net/batcat00.htm

The following comment from Lt. Jon Blickenstaff,  states the above attack began Sunday night, June 15, 1969 at 11:30 PM.  Three of his men were killed (KIA).

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>.

Page 101  My name is Jon Blickenstaff and I was an Infantry 1st Lt. assigned to Nui Ba Den as a platoon leader under the command of Headquarters Company, 1st Brigade, Provisional Company, 25th Infantry Division. Our primary mission was to man and defend the bunker line. I was on the mountain from February 13, 1969 through June 17, 1969. I was directed to your sight by Ron Henry (he has previous posts) whom I served with during the late summer and fall of 1968 when we were both assigned to the 5th Infantry (Mechanized) Regiment, 25th Infantry Division while the unit’s assigned AO was out of Dau Tieng. We have a very comprehensive Regimental Association web site at http://www.bobcats.ws detailing the unit’s entire deployment history from 1966 through 1971 with tons of photos. The Regiment is the 3rd oldest unit, established in 1808, still on active duty with the US Army and is comprised of the 1st and 2nd Battalions.

I am contacting you regarding the post of Zahra dated June 5, 2012 and the above article titled June 18, 1969 and the Sapper Attack Photos. I was on the mountain the night of that attack, but all my documents and dated letters sent back to my family (which my mother kept for me) support the fact that the attack actually occurred on Sunday night, June 15, 1969 beginning at about 11:30 p.m. I have also confirmed that date with 1st Sergeant Harry Meyer (Retired) who was an E-7 at the time and served in the capacity of 1st Sergeant for the Provisional Company. The Commanding Officer of the mountain at that time was Major Campbell. Harry, now retired, lives near Ft. Knox and I can confidentially provide you his contact information if you are interested.

I had 18 men assigned to me and my security sector was bunkers 7 through 12, with 3 men per bunker. The last photo in the article above is the back side of the bunker I occupied, that being bunker 9.


On the night of the attack, an Air Force container holding top secret surveillance radio equipment was the first target hit by the sappers. That container sat on top of the hill directly behind my bunker 9, so I know that for a fact.

I and others are firmly convinced that the sappers were already inside the wire exploding satchel charges before we started receiving incoming AK-47 and RPG fire from outside the wire as those explosions were the first things we heard.

The focus of the incoming fire was directly in front of bunkers 8 and 9 with bunker 7 receiving fire on the left side as you look at the back of it from the inside of the bunker line.Top of mountain taken next to water reservoir (2)Area in front of Bunker 9 XBunker 10 taken from Bunker 9 XBunker 9 front right x

I had 3 men KIA that night,  Marvin C. WhIte, Ramona, Ca., Gary D. Bender, Des Moines, Ia. and Thomas E. Hughes, Oldfield, Mo. (No photo).

Page 102
White_Marvin_C_DOB_1948

MARVIN WHITE

GARY D BENDER

Because of all the boulders, elevation variations and bunker locations on the circumference of the mountain, there was an inherently flawed expectation regarding a realistic and tactically sound defense of the mountain.

At best we only had overlapping fire to the bunkers on our immediate right and left, and all the forward views from every bunker was looking downhill at 60 degree angles or more with even more boulders obstructing a clear downhill view to return fire. Once the stuff hit the fan, each bunker essentially became an island unto itself and a coordinated consolidation of manpower was impossible due to all the boulders which provided superb and protected firing positions for the VC to prevent that attempt.

Page 103 The attack reaction plan called for an OIC to assemble all available men on top of the mountain, then move down to the area of the bunker line which was receiving incoming fire and support the fire that was being returned from the bunker line.

Lt. Carl Zuzulak was the OIC that night and he did indeed execute that plan. He and the assembled men worked their way down the paths through the boulders to my bunker.

The Air Force was on station within about 20 minutes from the beginning of the attack and began dropping illumination flares. They stayed on station dropping flares all through the dark, early morning hours and then broke off at daylight.

In all the attacks on the mountain over the years, the VC always took advantage of the obstruction factor that the boulders provided, both inside and outside the perimeter, to exploit their efforts.

If your enemy is willing to give up his life to kill you, which the VC were, then the top of Nui Ba Den provided them the perfect topically disadvantaged position to inflict the most damage with the smallest number of men. It happened every time the mountain was attacked with a predictably factor that favored their outcome.

I rotated off the mountain on Tuesday, June 17, 1969 and returned to the 5th Mech, completing my tour and returning home on July 28, 1969.

I hope this post is not too long, but I wanted to detail the memories as clearly as possible. After all these years it still feels like it was just yesterday.

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 553rd Reconnaissance Wing    Nui Ba Den Mountain – Award of the Purple Heart

                 By Ron Cox – October 18, 2009                        Rev – A – 10/18/09
 
In early 1969 the 553rd  Electronic Maintenance Squadron (EMS) assumed the responsibility for maintaining and manning what was called the Commando Shackle Relay in South Vietnam about six miles outside of the city of Tay Ninh.  The relay was placed on top an extinct volcano, Nui Ba Den mountain, that rose 3235 feet above the flat delta plains and was considered the end of the Ho Chi Mihn trail.  While the US Army controlled the top of the mountain, the Viet Cong (VC) were very active and the mountain housed the headquarters for the liberation force for South Vietnam.  
 
The relay van housed much of the same radio equipment that was in the EC-121R except it was down linked to operators in portable vans at Bien Hoa Air Base.  The relay site was a high priority for the III Corps Tactical Zone and relieved our aircraft and crews to fly missions in other locations.  The night of June 18,1969 loomed dark and foggy, a VC sapper team crawled through the Army lines to make a deliberate attack on the relay vans.  In the attack the vans were severely damaged and the 553rd EMS Sergeant
on duty at the time, TSgt. John Linaburg, was wounded and at least two VC were killed by Army personnel responding to the attack. Sergeant Linaburg was the only 553rd Reconnaissance Wing member known to receive the Purple Heart.
 
The attack required the Wing to stretch its operation to provide immediate coverage to the III Corps mission, the Amber orbit, which resulted in a significant drain on our limited resources.
 
To make matters worse the relay van was a one of a kind item and a replacement would have had to be contracted and built from scratch.  A small team was dispatched from Korat the next day to see if there was any hope for repair.  An evaluation of the van revealed that while the van was beyond repair the damage to the equipment and wiring inside could be repaired.  The team requested that the van be transported to Korat for repair.  
 
Seventh Air Force immediately gave the repair and return of the Commando Shackle Relay a Combat Essential priority and within hours a Chinook helicopter was lifting it off the mountain and across South Vietnam. When it arrived the next day at Korat on a dedicated C-130 the Van was stripped by members of the EMS Comm Shop and repair began.  When two excellent technicians, TSgt Rozier and SSgt Saltzer, explained that they could increase the capability of the van by fifty per cent, approval was obtained
and by the time a new empty van was received from the States the upgrade was completed and ready to be installed.  As an added measure of protection the entire van was boxed in with steel boiler plate by 553rd personnel.   
 
The team returned with the van and installed it on what had become to be known as Black Widow Mountain, the entire episode took place between 18 June and 12 July 1969.
 
Webmaster NOTE – Ron Cox was the Officer In Charge of the Communications Shop, of the 553rd Reconnaissance Electronic Maintenance Squadron.
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Hamby Lanny KIA NBD

 LANNY HAMBY, KIA OCTOBER 14, 1969

The following message was posted by Gary Harding on vvmf.org Wall-of-Faces: 

(Lanny Hamby) was a fine member of the 25th Infantry Division, 3/22 Company C.

Lanny was stationed on top of Nui Ba Den Mountain (Black Virgin Mountain) where many fire fights occurred and several helicopters crashed. We controlled the top and bottom and the VC/NVA controlled the middle. It is hard granite rock with numerous caves.

Lanny was so glad to get this job of providing protection up there rather them hump to various places with other riflemen.

On this day, the communications group on top of the mountain received mortar shells from NVA/VC. It is reported that Lanny was in a bunker but was near the door and was hit by a mortar shell. This fine man will not be forgotten. Deeds not Words. 

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Page 104  **OPERATION CLIFF DWELLER – 1969**

Page 4-5                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           November 10, 1969

Story and Photos By Sgt K.C. Cullen

Source: http://www.25thida.org/TLN/tln4-45.htm

CH-47 Chinooks brought the troops to the top of the mountain.

Coming ‘Round the Mountain
‘Operation Cliffdweller’ Drives Enemy Off the Mountain;  Regulars Kill 40

Sounds of machetes slashing through thick underbrush were interrupted by frequent blasts from exploding grenades.  American and Vietnamese soldiers were making their way across giant boulders and jungle down the northern slope of Nui Ba Den.
“Operation Cliffdweller,” a multi-battalion endeavor under the operational control of the 3d Battalion, 22d Infantry’s commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Warren Jones of Minneapolis, had as its purpose the clearing of hundreds of caves and holes on the mountain’s north side.   Forty enemy died in the three-day journey down the mountain.
The entire operation consisted of establishing blocking positions, sweep forces and ambushes around the mountain.
Charlie Company of the Regulars took on the task of descending the mountain from the top, driving out enemy elements and destroying their positions.  The Regulars were accompanied on the descent by provincial reconnaissance unit (PRU) soldiers.
The combined force started from the Tropic Lightning signal facility on the mountain top.  CH-47 Chinook helicopters carried the troopers to the top and from there they started their downward journey.
The force made its way through vines, jagged boulders, steep cliffs, and recently dropped riot control agent.  The Regulars worked through areas that at first glance appeared impassable.  It was never a choice between the easiest ways down, but rather between the best of the bad.  For three days they fought a dual foe, the unseen enemy fleeing before them and the vertical jungle with rocks that is the side of Nui Ba Den.
The elite point element of Charlie Company preceded the rest down the slope, blowing as many caves and holes as they could.
Other units involved in. Operation Cliff Dweller included Alfa Company, 2d Battalion, 34th Armor; Bravo Company, 4th Battalion (Mechanized), 23d Infantry; 160th Regional Forces Company; and the Tay Ninh Province Reconnaissance Unit (PRU).
The Black Virgin Mountain fought the Regulars just as hard as Charlie did, but the combined force proved itself capable of handling both battles.

Page 105

‘Operation Cliff dweller’ begins as Regulars, Vietnamese start down Nui Ba Den.

LARGE ROCKS, dead trees and underbrush surround the Regulars during their three-day trip down Nui Ba Den.  Specialist 4 John Thommes, an RTO for Charlie Company’s forward observer, grasps a tree trunk for support.

Page 106Specialist 4 Bruce Hahn enjoys a brief, 45-degree snooze during a break.

Sgt Larry Goethe emerges after exploring a cave.

Page 107CHARLIE Company commander Captain Norman Sligar has a look of knowing anticipation as he prepares to slide down a big rock.  There were plenty of fatigue pants to DX after the operation.

Page 108A machete blazes a trail.

Page 109FIRE IN THE HOLE! With his grenade pin pulled and ready to drop, Private First Class John Larsen prepares to blow one of the deep holes too small to get into and investigate.  Each day of the operation, the quiet of the mountain was pierced by explosions as members of the point squad had a grenade for each cave and hole they found.

Gear had to be handed down over giant rocks during the three-day trip down the mountain.

Page 110   **OPERATION CLIFF DWELLER – JANUARY 1970**

THE FOLLOWING EDITED AFTER ACTION REPORT TELLS OFTHE JANUARY 1970  OPERATION CLIFF DWELLER IV:

Source: http://www.history.army.mil/documents/vietnam/vni/249.htm

DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY

18th Military History Detachment, 25th Infantry Division, APO San Francisco 96225

AVDCMH     31 January 1970

SUBJECT: Combat After Action Interview Report

THRU:     Commanding General, United States Army Vietnam
ATTN: Command Historian, APO San Francisco 96375

TO:     Headquarters Department of the Army ATTN: O.C.M.H. Washington, D.C. 20315

OPERATION Cliff Dweller IV.

04 January – 11 January 1970. Northeastern slope of Nui Ba Den (XT2860);

Sheet Number 6231 IV N and IV S, Map Series L8020, 1:25,000; Phu Khuong District, Tay Ninh Province.

CONTROL HEADQUARTERS: 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division.

INTERVIEWING OFFICER: RALPH J. BALLWAY, MAJ, Infantry, Division Historian

COMBAT FORCES:

Companies A, B, C, D and Reconnaissance Platoon, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry.

Company A, 2nd Battalion, 34th Armor.

Company A and one platoon, Company D, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry.

SUPPORTING FORCES:

ARTILLERY:
Battery B, 7th Battalion, 11th Artillery.

Battery C, 3rd Battalion, 13th Artillery.

Battery A, 7th Battalion, 9th Artillery.

Battery B, 1st Battalion, 27th Artillery.

NOTE: During the period 4-12 January 1970, a total of 12,653 artillery rounds were fired, of which 648 were used on the landing zone preparation on Nui Cau.

ARMY AVIATION:

Company A, 25th Aviation Battalion (Little Bear)�CS and Flame Bath drops, resupply and MEDEVAC.

Company B. 25th Aviation Battalion (Diamondhead)�Light Fire Teams.

1st Brigade Aviation LOHs (Yellow Jacket)�MEDEVAC.

187th Assault Helicopter Company (Crusaders)�Provided all lift support except extractions,

242nd Assault Support Helicopter Company (Muleskinner)�Resupply.

Troop D, 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry (Centaur)�Light Fire Team, Visual Reconnaissance.

Company A, 2nd Battalion, 20th Aerial Rocket Artillery (Blue Max)�helicopter gunships.

UNITIED STATES AIRFORCE:

Air Force Forward Air Controllers (OV-10).

F-100 Tactical Fighters�Air Strikes.

AC-119 (Shadow)�Gunship, flareship.

MISSION: The primary concept of Operation Cliff Dweller IV was to sweep the northeastern slope of Nui Ba Den, killing and/or capturing as many enemy as possible to include supplies and materials which could be used by the enemy.

BACKGROUND: The primary mission of 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division is to destroy VC/NVA forces and their bases of operation, assist the Republic of Vietnam in rural development, pacification and civic action programs; assist in training and provide support to RVNAF, and be prepared to reinforce US and ARVN forces within the TAOI as directed.

Page 111    INTELLIGENCE:

Enemy – Nui Ba Den is a headquarters location of elements of the “shadow” government, a staging area for attacks on Tay Ninh City and other allied installations in Tay Ninh Province, and a stopover point on the infiltration route through War Zone “C” from Cambodia to the 25th Infantry Division TAOI. Operation Cliff Dweller IV was one of a series of denial operations carried on by 1st Brigade on Nui Ba Den. In executing this operation, 1st Brigade assigned to the task the largest number of US troops ever to operate on Nui Ba Den mountain.

Terrain – The terrain of Nui Ba Den is unlike any other in the Division AO. The ancient granite mountain is very steeply sloped, covered with enormous boulders, honey-combed with caves, crevasses and tunnels and low, tangled undergrowth covers the greater part of the slopes (except for rock slides).

Weather – Generally the weather was very good – partly cloudy skies, not excessively warm. The altitude of Nui Ba Den allows for more cooling breezes than is normally experienced in other areas of Tay Ninh Province. The one natural phenomenon which caused a problem was that of drafts on the slopes of the mountain. Helicopters which were attempting to resupply US forces on the slopes of the mountain were unable to maintain position during the supply drops because of the heavy updrafts and downdraft.

CONCEPT OF OPERATION AND EXECUTION:

4 January 1970
Operation Cliff Dweller IV commenced. The concept of the operation was to have two infantry companies sweep down the northeastern slope of the mountain and set up blocking positions a short distance from the bottom.

(See Inclosure 2)

A third infantry company would sweep the base of the mountain from southeast to northwest, link up with the other two companies and all three would sweep through the rock slide area (XT279603) to the base of the mountain. Supporting forces would be placed off the mountain, north and south of the rock slide area and on Nui Cau from which a commanding view of the area of operations is afforded.

At 0800 hours on 4 January the first of eight CH-47 sorties landed.

Companies B and C, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry on Nui Ba Den at the Provisional Company installation (XT281582).

Between 0915-0935 hours a four ship lift inserted the Reconnaissance Platoon, C 3/22nd Infantry on Nui Cau (XT271605) where they established a blocking position 200 meters east of the crest of Nui Cau (XT273605) and remained in that position for the duration of the operation. Companies B and C began moving down the northeastern slope of Nui Ba Den on two axes, Company B on the right axis, Company C on the left axis.

Page 112  Because of the difficulty of movement in such terrain, B 3/22nd, C 3/22nd Infantry progressed about 40% of the way down the mountain on the first day. At 0934 hours on 4 January the demolition team from Company A, 65th Engineer Battalion attached to C 3/22nd Infantry destroyed a booby trapped US fragmentation grenade approximately 150 meters from the line of departure.

Night defensive positions were established at approximately 1830-1900 hours as further progress was halted by the ensuing darkness. Company C established its night defensive position approximately 1700 meters north of the crest of Nui Ba Den (XT279598). Company B established its night defensive position approximately 1200 meters northeast from the crest of Nui Ba Den (XT238591). Some enemy probings were suspected during the first night but no actual contact was established. Because of the terrain on the mountain it was difficult for the units to establish perimeters as would be done on more favorable terrain. To offset this difficulty a series of strong points were established to serve as a perimeter, the most effective method of securing a night defensive position in such terrain.

Earlier on 4 January (0645 hours), Company A, 2nd Battalion, 34th Armor and the 548 Regional Force Company occupied a blocking position at the northeastern base of the mountain (XT279608). Slightly to the southeast (XT293598), one platoon of tanks from A 2/34 Armor and one platoon, Company D, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry established a second blocking position. Artillery support was provided by Battery C, 3rd Battalion, 13th Artillery and from 6 January on, one platoon of Battery B, 7th Battalion, 11th Artillery at Fire Support Base Bragg (XT334579). Security for the artillery was provided by one platoon, Company C, 4th Battalion (Mechanized), 23rd Infantry and the 163 Regional Force Company.

ONE ENEMY KILLED – FIRST CONTACT
The first contact on 4 January occurred at 1925 hours when a sniper attached to Rcn/3-22 Infantry observed and engaged three enemy soldiers 300 meters south southeast of the sniper’s location with three rounds of M-14 killing one of the enemy.

SECOND ENEMY KILLED
At 0005 hours on 5 January an ambush position of Rcn/3-22 Infantry smelled marijuana and detected movement 35-40 meters below their position to the east. Engaging the movement with hand grenades and sniper fire, one enemy soldier wearing black pajamas was killed. No return fire was received. The dead soldier was searched but he had neither weapons nor documents on him.

At approximately 0700-0730 hours on 5 January B 3/22nd, C 3/22nd Infantry continued the sweep down the mountainside.

Because of rain the previous evening movement was very slow due to the rocks being slippery and wet. Very little forward progress was made the second day.

About noon a 14 ship lift inserted Company A, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry in a landing zone secured by A 2/34 Armor and D 4/9 Infantry. The company’s mission was to execute a detailed reconnaissance from southeast to northwest along the base of the mountain to 200-300 meters up the slope.

Companies B and C moved down the slope to set up a blocking position above the area to be swept by A 3/22nd Infantry. As Company A swept, Company B on the southern most axis would swing behind Company A to protect its rear. Company C afforded protection from enemy fires from above.

TUNNEL – VC CAMP LOCATED
Company A located one tunnel with a room attached (10x20x30) at 1635 hours (XT293595). Uncovered were a small VC camp with cooking area, two truck batteries, clothing and web gear. The room was large enough to accommodate 35 individuals. There were signs of recent activity within the last 72 hours.

At 1945 hours Company B observed movement and a light 400 meters west of their night defensive position (XT289594). Engaging the movement with organic weapons all movement ceased and the light went out.

6 January
At 1150 hours on the next day (6 January), A 3/22nd Infantry on a reconnaissance of this contact area located 12 graves containing 12 enemy killed by small arms fire. No weapons or documents were uncovered. The enemy dead were wearing green NVA uniforms.

THREE CAVES LOCATED
Operation Cliff Dweller IV continued as planned on 6 January. Company B moved out of its night defensive position at 0700 hours and continued to the bottom of the mountain where another night defensive position was established. Just before setting up, elements of B 3/22nd Infantry located three caves which they reconnoitered with fragmentation grenades. No return fire was received.

Company A continued moving across the lower slope of the mountain towards the rock slide area to the northwest (XT279603). Company C moved to within 400 meters of the base of the mountain and established a night defensive position.

The last day of Operation Cliff Dweller IV was originally scheduled to be 7 January. But because of the contact made by B 3/22nd Infantry the previous day the operation was extended. (See Inclosure 3)

Page 1137 January
During the 7th, the platoon from D 4/9th Infantry securing the tank platoon of A 2/34th Armor at the southernmost blocking position was relieved by a Regional Force Company.

CAVE FOUND WITH WEAPONS, EQUIPMENT  AND WOMEN’S CLOTHING – TWO ENEMY KILLED
At 1030 hours Company B while searching a cave (XT288599) located seven US M-1s, one SKS carbine, two M-72 LAWs, nine M-16 magazines (fully loaded), one can with 400 rounds of M-1 ammunition, one RPG round, one ChiCom hand grenade, one VC gas mask, one NVA shovel, four US poncho liners, two US canteens, one first aid packet, two bars of soap, US soy bean oil, C-ration cans, one fish net, one towel, four female pants, four sets of underwear with bells (female), one garden (15×20) and two enemy killed by small arms fire and fragmentation grenades (credited to A 3/22 Infantry reconnaissance by fire of the cave the previous day). All explosives were destroyed by the demolition team from A/65th Engr and the weapons were sent to Tay Ninh Base Camp.

CAVE LOCATED WITH DOCUMENTS
At 1600 hours Company B located ten pounds of documents in a cave. Later information revealed that the documents consisted of tax receipts, meeting reports, envelopes, financial reports and medical certificates which mainly concerned the Toa Thanh District unit and District Committees, and a list of changes in LBNs (Letter Box Numbers) for the Toa Thanh (D) Sections and Associations to have become effective 17 September 1968. Because of the nature of the terrain it was impossible to tell whether or not there had been recent activity in the area.

EIGHT ENEMY KILLED AFTER REFUSING TO SURRENDER
Fifteen minutes later (1615 hours), B 3/22nd Infantry observed eight enemy evading into a cave (XT286600). US forces attempted to get the enemy to Chieu Hoi, but were answered with fragmentation grenades, wounding three US so1diers. At 1820 hours the cave was engaged with CS and multi-shot flame thrower resulting in all eight of the enemy being ki1led.

Page 114  ONE ENEMY KILLED
The Reconnaissance Platoon observed one individual 125 meters northwest of their position at 2045 hours. Engaging the enemy with organic weapons, one enemy soldier was killed.

8 January
Beginning on 8 January and lasting for the next two days till the operation ended on 11 January, US forces came under almost constant enemy fire during daylight hours�mostly in the form of highly accurate sniper fire from well-entrenched enemy elements.

As US forces neared the area of the rock slide, enemy fires increased in their intensity. Only when forward movement slowed did the enemy fires slacken.

HEAVY ENEMY FIGHTING
As Company A came adjacent to Company C’s flank at about 0750 hours on 8 January (XT276604), heavy contact was established.

The left point of Company C first received fire from 3-4 enemy at about 0800 hours. When return fire from M60 machine guns were placed on the enemy snipers, US forces began to receive a heavy volume of fire. The enemy returned fire with small arms, RPGs, sniper fire and M-79 CS rounds.

As infantry elements engaged the enemy with organic weapons, air support saturated the area with fires from six light fire teams, three CS drops, one “Flame Bath” drop and seven TAC air strikes.

Four artillery batteries (1827 rounds), main tank guns and automatic weapons fire from blocking forces were also brought to bear against the enemy all day.

A break in contact occurred at 0835 hours. Five minutes later Company A received small arms and RPG fire from an estimated enemy platoon from several small caves. The enemy continued to fire at US forces throughout the rest of the day, mainly sniper fire. Movement was extremely difficult because of the terrain and the necessity for US soldiers to expose their position when moving.

Due to these factors, plus the highly accurate enemy sniper fire, Company C was able to move only about 50-75 meters during the first two days of contact.

RESUPPLY HELICOPTER CRASHED AND BURNED
At 1344 hours a resupply helicopter from Company A, 25th Aviation Battalion was hit by an RPG round. The helicopter crashed and burned. Three US personnel were wounded by shrapnel. The helicopter was totally destroyed.

TWO WOUNDED AWAITING MEDEVAC – KILLED BY COBRA ROCKET FIRE
The helicopter was to be used to MEDEVAC two wounded US personnel. The two wounded US personnel awaiting MEDEVAC were killed by AH-1G (Cobra) rocket fire as the helicopter gunship was making a firing run to cover for the downed helicopter and its crew.

This tragic accident would have never occurred had it not been for the close contact in which the US forces were involved and the confusion caused by intense enemy small arms and automatic weapons fire.

KIT CARSON SCOUT KILLED BY EXPLOSION
Just prior to this incident a Kit Carson Scout was killed by an explosion of unknown origin. The Kit Carson Scout and two US personnel were attempting to move toward the downed helicopter when ordered by their platoon leader to withdraw.

Just as the men started to make their withdrawal there was an explosion which knocked all three men to the ground. The two US personnel were not wounded but the Kit Carson Scout was killed by the concussion from the explosion.

No cause for the explosion could be determined. This Kit Carson Scout (Tran Van Oi) and another Kit Carson Scout (Tran Van Vien) have been recommended for the award of the Silver Star for their bravery and valor during this operation.

At approximately 1800 hours the enemy broke contact. US forces established night defensive positions in place. No further contact was established during the ensuing period of darkness.

SIXTY TWO ENEMY KILLED
Sixty-two enemy had been killed on this first day of heavy contact. After completing searches of the contact area, US forces evacuated one M-1 carbine, one SKS rifle, ten pounds of documents and five pounds of medical supplies. Six US soldiers were wounded during the initia1 enemy fires.

3/22N RECON PLATOON MEMBER ACCIDENTLY KILLED – INITIAL ATTEMPT TO COVER UP CAUSE OF DEATH
At 1958 hours on 8 January a member of Recon 3/22nd Infantry was killed by enemy sniper fire. The soldier was helping unload a resupply drop amid moderate enemy sniper fire when the incident occurred.

[NOTE: The authors of this report, SP4 Henry Walsh and SP4 Robert Wright initially attempted to report that this soldier died when accidentally crushed by a resupply load dropped from a CH-47. This fact was confirmed by multiple sources, including the aviators. They were ordered to change the paragraph to the wording used here; when they objected to the inaccuracy, they were threatened with reassignment to infantry duty by the division chief of staff.]

Page 115    9 JANUARY
On 9 January Company D, 3-22 Infantry relieved A 3/22nd Infantry in place at 1500 hours. Company A moved 1.5 kilometers east of the mountain and was extracted to Tay Ninh Base Camp.

Company D received sniper fire at the landing zone and all the way to Company A’s position. Company D’s mission was to sweep up the area of the rock slide and move up to the “saddle”.

Because of the accurate sniper fire D 3/22nd Infantry was unable to make any progress up the slope toward the enemy positions and remained in place until pulled off the mountain on 11 January.

At 1600 hours Company A, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry landed on Nui Cau and moved to the position secured by Recon 3/22nd Infantry where the Company remained the night of 9 January.

During the morning hours of 9 January three tubes of 105mm howitzer of Battery B, 7th Battalion, 11th Artillery moved to the northern blocking position of A 2/34th Armor to provide more accurate and direct artillery support. The 548 Regional Force Company securing this position was replaced by B 3/22nd Infantry  during the afternoon of 9 January. One platoon from Company B provided security for the tank platoon at the southern blocking position. Company B would also act as a reaction force in support of the remaining 3/22nd Infantry elements on the mountain.

At 1000 hours on 9 January, A 3/22nd, C 3/22nd Infantry received heavy sniper fire from an unknown number of enemy as the units continued to close on the enemy force in the rock slide area.

47 ENEMY KILLED
US forces were attempting to sweep the hillside near the rock slide area but because the enemy was so well-entrenched that to continue trying to move forward too many casualties would be sustained. Securing the positions they had advanced to, US forces returned the enemy fire with organic weapons, one CS drop, five light fire teams, eight TAC air strikes, five “Flame Bath” drops and three artillery batteries killing 47 of the enemy in contact which lasted all day long. Two US soldiers were wounded during the initial anew fires, the only casualties of the action.

At 1430 hours a MEDEVAC helicopter received heavy ground fire but suffered no casualties.

All during the three days of contact heavy enemy fires were directed at the resupply and MEDEVAC helicopters supporting the operation. Whenever helicopters approached the mountain on a mission the majority of enemy fire would be directed at them. A few of the enemy would try to place spraying suppressive fire on the US forces to protect other enemy soldiers who exposed themselves in the hope of damaging or destroying a helicopter. Though faced with this additional dangers resupply and MEDEVAC helicopters carried out their missions in a most admirable manner.

Fighting continued through most of the day (9 January), slackening off by mid-afternoon. Sporadic small arms fire was exchanged until approximately 1800 hours. During the night of 9-10 January the contact area was intermittently engaged by PSYOP broadcasts, helicopter gunships and artillery.

10 JANUARY
As dawn broke on 10 January US infantry elements again moved against the enemy forces entrenched in the cave-strewn area of the rock slide.

Company A, 4/9 Infantry moved down to the “saddle” at 0700 hours.

Five hours later the Company moved 150 meters down from the “saddle” to establish a blocking position above the area of contact of C 3/22nd,D 3/22nd Infantry.

At 0830 hours B,C, and D 3/22nd Infantry and A 4/9 Infantry began receiving small arms and RPG fire. US forces returned fire with organic weapons, one light fire team, three TAC air atrikes, two “Flame Bath” drops and three artillery batteries (1648 rounds) during the day long contact.

At 0837 hours all firing ceased briefly. Enemy small arms and sniper fire began again at 1015 hours and abruptly ceased at 1025 hours.

As US forces continued to press the advantage the enemy continued his resistance. Firing picked up again at 1225 hours as the enemy directed heavy small arms fire against approaching US forces. Fighting continued sporadically throughout the day until 1750 hours.

TWENTY ENEMY KILLED
Twenty enemy killed were credited to US fires.

The northern blocking force (XT286612) received a heavy volume of RPG and mortar fire at 1525 hours. Seven US soldiers were wounded by this attack by fire which ceased ten minutes after it began.

ONE ENEMY KILLED
At 1430 hours on 10 January snipers attached to A 4/9 Infantry observed three enemy approximately 300 meters from their position. One of the enemy was wearing camouflaged fatigues and a steel helmet. Engaging this enemy with one round of M-14 fire, the sniper killed the enemy soldier. A second round was fired at another enemy but he disappeared before a kill could be confirmed.

Page 116  ONE ENEMY KILLED
During the evening hours (2200 hours), A 2/34 Armor observed one individual moving 35 meters southeast of its position. Engagement with organic weapons resulted in the enemy soldier being killed.

OPERATION ENDS
On 11 January Operation Cliff Dweller IV came to an end. It was decided by the 1st Brigade Commander with concurrence of the Commanding General, 25th Infantry Division that no further significant results warranted a commitment of such a large force to extending the operation.

To provide direct support during the withdrawal of American forces, two 175mm howitzers from Battery A, 2nd Battalion, 32nd Artillery and two Quad-50’s from 5th Battalion, 2nd Artillery moved on the morning of 11 January to just northeast of the contact area. All US forces moved off the mountain and returned to their base of operations.

By the afternoon of 11 January all US elements had been withdrawn from the mountain.

NO ENEMY FIRE AS TROOPS RETREAT
An unexplained phenomenon noted during the withdrawal stage of the operation was that as the US forces a moved off the mountain they received no enemy fire. Because of the terrain US troops had to expose themselves to possible enemy fire as they moved down and off the mountain. Not one round of enemy sniper, small arms or RPG fire was directed against these troops.

12 JANUARY
Remaining in position until the morning of 12 January, A 2/34 Armor and B 3/22nd Infantry maintained surveillance over and placed direct and indirect fire on suspected enemy locations.

The 1st Brigade S-3 Daily Staff Journal noted that the Tay Ninh Province Chief stated that the enemy elements involved in the contact on the mountain were the F-31 and F-51 Sapper Battalions of the 271 NVA regiment. This report has not been confirmed through captured document readouts or identification by any other means. On 19 May 1968 the F-31 Sapper Battalion was involved in an attack on the signal installation atop Nui Ba Den and therefore may still have elements in the area, possibly targeted with the same mission.

TOTAL OF 156 ENEMY KILLED IN OPERATION  CLIFF DWELLER IV AND 3 US SOLDIERS KILLED, 55 WOUNDED
RESULTS: Operation Cliff Dweller IV was another in a series of successful denial operations on Nui Ba Den carried out by 1st Brigade maneuver and support elements. Eneny personnel losses during the seven day period were 156 killed. US forces suffered three men killed and one Kit Carson Scout was killed. Fifty five American soldiers were wounded, of whom eight were evacuated for further treatment. The remaining wounded returned to their units after a short period of convalescence.

The inability to use Nui Ba Den as a refuge seriously hurt the enemy plans to mount a coordinated, effective offensive in Tay Ninh Province. This area had long been a refuge for enemy elements staging for attacks on Tay Ninh City. Operation Cliff Dweller IV drastically reduced the enemy potential to mount a significant offensive without heavily reinforcing the forces remaining in the mountain refuge.

ANALYSIS:

Because of the type of terrain in which this operation took places many problems were encountered, not all of which could be successfully countered.

(1) Resupply.

(a) US infantry elements required a much larger rate of expenditure of smoke grenades to mark their positions for resupply drops and MEDEVACs, and for identification of friendly positions by supporting fires. (See Inclosure 4 for resupply to 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry)

(b) US equipment losses were abnormally high due to the difficulty troops had in maneuvering in the rock-strewn terrain,

(c) Resupply missions were extremely difficult to complete due to air turbulence on the slopes of the mountain; inability of resupply helicopters to place load a where directed due to irregular, steep terrain; heavy volume of enemy sniper fire directed at resupply helicopters; loss of resupply loads into holes and crevasses; loss of resupply loads due to “drop-off” method; the dropping of resupply loads into areas inaccessible to US troops; and the problems always involved in night resupply missions. Pathfinders were used to control supply drops and even though faced with almost insurmountable problems managed to complete many more resupply missions than was expected.

(d) The loss of water resupply, caused by the necessity of dropping loads rather than placing them in predetermined locations, and the loss of equipment, caused by operating in such unfavorable terrain, were two major problems encountered during resupply missions.

b. Communications. Though there were no reported failures in or loss of communications equipment, the battalion command net used while contact was in effect became heavily loaded at times.

c. Tactics. An interesting innovation employed by Company C, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry is the Point Squad. The point squad is an eight-man, all-volunteer element which acts as a forward reconnaissance element. Because the unit acts only in this capacity, it has built up the experience needed to perform the role of “point” more professionally than could the rotating point man system. The squad consists of a well-experienced NCO, one “tunnel rat”, one grenadier, one M-60 machine gunner and four team members. The success experienced with the point squad has been more than satisfactory.

Page 117  d. Snipers. All during Operation Cliff Dweller IV US forces received almost continuous enemy sniper fire. Though there is no conclusive evidence available, a number of unit commanders remarked that the highly consistent accuracy of sniper fire was due to the possibility that the enemy snipers were trained for that mission and they could have been aided by telescopic sights in this mission. It was noted that enemy snipers did use tracer rounds so as to make corrections while firing.

e. The Combat Engineer Vehicle (CEV), Company A, 65th Engineer Battalion successfully used several innovative techniques during Operation Cliff Dweller IV.

(1) The CEV devised a plan to afford more protection for US infantry elements providing security for the southernmost blocking position. When arriving at this position on 8 January the vehicle commander used the CEV blade to build a berm 3-4 feet high between the tanks to protect the infantrymen. This not only gave the infantryman a berm in front of him but also a depression behind the berm for further protection. On 11 January the CEV leveled the berm, filling in all holes after the blocking force had completed its mission and were returning to their respective bases of operation.

(2) In order to bring more destructive fires against the enemy with its 165mm demolition projector, the CEV commander took down the locations of caves during the daylight hours and fired at them at night using a range card system. Three secondary explosions were achieved by using this method. Further damage assessment to enemy personnel or equipment was undeterminable because of the destructive power of the 165mm demolition projector. It was the only weapon available during the operation capable of destroying caves of the granite type found on Nui Ba Den.

(3) It was noticed that by placing a red filter on a flashlight and shining it in the direction to be observed by using a starlight scope that observation was made much easier because the red light aided in setting objects out more plainly and clearly.

(4) A starlight scope was used successfully with an M-119 periscope on occasion for spotting movement on the mountain at night.

f. The one advantage of the rocky terrain was that it offered overhead protection for US troops against “splash” from friendly supporting fires. However, the danger area of “splash” was increased two to three times because of indirect fire rounds impacting on the hard granite rocks. Not only shrapnel from the munitions endangered US forces, but also the debris caused by a splintering of the granite rocks. Because of the closeness of contacts supporting fires were at times brought within a very close distance from US forces on the mountain. Some US soldiers were wounded by this “splash”.

RALPH J. BALLWAY
MAJ, Infantry
Division Historian

PERSONNEL INTERVIEWED

1. MAJ George F. Mohrmann, S-3, lst Brigade.

2. CPT Jimmy W. Harris, Commanding Officer, Company A, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry.

3. CPT Lawson R. Pride, Jr., Commanding Officer, Company C, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry.

4. CPT Larry B. Thomas, S-4, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry.

5. 1LT John M. LeMoyne, Commanding Officer, Company A, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry.

6. 1LT Robert A. England, Executive Officer, Company C, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry.

7. 1LT Tom D. Fritts, Executive Officer, Company D, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry.

8. 1LT Peter S. Shockley, Platoon Leader, Reconnaissance Platoon, Company E, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry.

9. 2LT Donald Vehlhaber, Platoon Leader, 3rd Platoon, Comrany A, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Intantry.

10. SSG John G. Wilkes, CEV Commander, Company A, 65th Engineer Battalion.

11. SGT Patrick Anderson, Squad Leader, lst Platoon, Company B, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry.

12. SGT Larry Goethe, Point Squad Leader, Company C, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry.

13. SGT Thomas Ragazzine, Platoon Sergeant, 2nd Platoon, Company B, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry.

14. SP4 Dennis R. Cook, Demolition Team, Company A, 65th Engineer Battalion (attached to Company C, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Intantry).

15. SP4 Leonard W. Garvin, FDC Computer, Weapons Platoon, Company C, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry.

16. SP4 William L. Grau, Loader-Machine Gunner, CEV, Company A, 65th Engineer Battalion.

17. SP4 David Reyes, Squad Leader, 2nd Platoon, Company B, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry

Page 118 RESUPPLY TO 3RD BATTALION, 22ND INFANTRY
Company     M-60 Ammunition     M-16 Ammunition     M-79 Ammunition     Smoke Grenades
A     12 Cases     9 Cases     9 Cases     18 Cases
B     16 Cases     12 Cases     12 Cases     24 Cases
C     22 Cases     15 Cases     18 Cases     33 Cases
D     6 Cases     3 Cases     3 Cases     6 Cases
Rcn Plt     8 Cases     8 Cases     8 Cases     16 Cases
TOTAL     64 Cases     47 Cases     50 Cases     97 Cases

SOURCE OF THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE:  http://www.25thida.com/TLN/tln5-05.htm


Page 3                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           February 2, 1970


‘On-Timers’ Aid Operation Cliffdweller
Artillery Support Is The Name Of The Game
By SP4 DAN NEFF

TAY NINH – A close-up view of the Black Virgin Mountain, Nui Ba Den, is enough to arouse anyone’s curiosity.  The pinnacle rises abruptly in the center of a flat area which covers hundreds of square miles, and suggests a monster raising its dark scraggy head to look around.
THE ENEMY VIEWS the mountain as a ready-made fortress.  The myriad of caves and tunnels make perfect bunkers, and solid-granite boulders offer more protection than a mountain of sandbags.  Although the top of Nui Ba is occupied by a US relay station, the slopes of the mountain still belong to Charlie.
Bravo Battery of 7th Battalion, 11th Field Artillery, helped shake the enemy loose while supporting the Regulars of 3/22 Infantry and the 4/9 Infantry Manchus in a sophisticated version of “king of the mountain,” Operation Cliffdweller IV.
THE “ON TIME” cannoneers convoyed their six 105mm howitzers from Fire Support Base Buell to Fire Support Base Bragg, 5 kilometers northeast of the Black Virgin Mountain.  There they “prepped” landing zones for the infantry arriving via “eagle flights.”  Once the infantrymen were on the mountain, three of the guns moved to the base of the northeast slope to provide direct fire and artillery support from a different angle.
The hustling gun-bunnies kept their tubes hot for the next 4 days, firing almost continuously.  The constant barrage kept the little man deep in his hole.  Only during the few infrequent lulls in the firing did some of the braver individuals crawl out from under their rocks to fire sniper rounds and mortars back at the artillery.
THE BATTALION ammo section had to hump to keep up with the cannoneers.  Every “duece-and-a-half” in the battalion that could be spared was used to haul ammunition, and as many as 18 truckloads of ammo were hauled to the guns in one day.
When the smoke cleared and the guns were “march ordered” for Buell, any of the enemy who survived the siege were left with Battling Bravo’s calling card, a painful ringing in the ears.

Page 119  THE FINAL STORY OF U. S. CONTROL OF NUI BA DEN


Page 4 – 5                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           November 30, 1970

By SP5 STEVE KROFT
The 25th Division’s Vietnam history is laced with geographical locations that seem to have appeared almost overnight, enjoyed a fleeting moment of prominence, and then ceased to exist.  Places like Fire Support Bases Kotrc and Crook, Sharron and Dorn, Frontier and Mole Cities.

The only stationary reference point in the otherwise protean area of operations has been Nui Ba Den.
From a distance, the Black Virgin Mountain appears majestic, slightly erotic, out of place: a black silhouette against blue sky and green rice paddy.  But like an aging beauty, she begins to show her years when you draw closer.

Scarred and craggy from years of bombing and shelling, that stately black coat turns to the muddy green of scrub brush and undernourished pine.
The mountain has been described as an island cut loose from the war.  Nowhere is this more evident than at the summit, where a group of 25th Division Soldiers have defended a signal relay site since 1967.
There is a notable absence of base camp atmosphere and the noise of the fire support base.  At one time, the mountain was isolated from the rest of the world, save telephone communication and helicopter resupply, but today, television has made it a full fledged member of Marshall McLuhan’s global village.
On a clear day you can see down across the Boi Loi and Ho Bo Woods, past Cu Chi to Saigon.  By night, the bunker guards command an impressive view of the countryside.  From their vantage point they are able to see artillery fire and then report miles away, tracer rounds crawl along the flatlands as if traveling in slow motion.
But at night, beautiful sights are overpowered by sinister sounds.  Noises made hundreds of meters down the slopes ride the updrafts and seem only a few yards away, serving as a constant reminder of the shaky coexistence on the mountain.
For the past three years, the security for the signal relay site at the summit has been provided by the men of the Nui Ba Den Provisional Company, its soldiers literally defending their own doorsteps, fighting off the VC recon elements that periodically probe the defenses.
Through the years, the Japanese, French, Viet Minh and Viet Cong have all held the summit at one time or another.  Today the only evidence that remains of those earlier occupants is the inevitable collection of names carved into rocks and a few stumps cemented firmly and neatly onto the mountain.
Recently, the Provisional Company stood down as part of the fifth increment of US troop redeployment from Vietnam and the responsibility for the defense of the mountain was quietly turned over to the Vietnamese.
Fittingly enough, as a final gesture, the division crest was carved on one of the rocks at the summit.  According to Major Frank Johnson of Tampa, Fla., the Provisional Company’s commanding officer, the insignia is cut one-quarter of an inch deep in solid granite.  “The Vietnamese,” he said, “say it will last 50 to 100 years.”
The mountain, unless man discovers a way to move them, will last considerably longer.

Page 120  UP THE HILL - Luggage, guitars and rucksacks are lugged up this rock strewn trail, as these 688th RF troops, piling out from the entrails of a Chinook, prepare to take up the defense of Nui Ba Den’s summit.

A LADY WELCOMES YOU — Struggling up the mountain top path, these 688th RF troops are greeted by the 25th’s Black Lady Mountain Welcome Mat, as they move in their equipment to take over the hilltop’s defense.

GOING HOME — This 25th Division trooper, atop his bunker home for the past few months, prepares to leave for good, as the 688th Regional Forces group takes over the defense of Nui Ba Den from the Nui Ba Den Provisional Company, 1st Brigade.

Page 121

A NEW GUARD REPLACES THE OLD — Looking over his new home, this ARVN trooper, a member of the 688th Regional Forces, Tay Ninh Province, is preparing to help take over the defense of the mountain summit.  The ARVN troops are replacing the Nui   Ba Den Provisional Company, 1st Brigade.

Page 122

162 Responses to “THE NUI BA DEN MASSACRES”

  1. Gary Robinson Says:

    RE: ‘The Nui Ba Den Massacres’ – Thanks for sketches and photos. I was on Nui Ba Dihn from June 68 until August 16 68 when the mountain was again over-run. I was with 194th MP Co [ physical security]. My self and approximately ten others from my unit were sent there to replace a temporary force and rebuild and reassess the security and defense of signal facilities.
    I found the information about May interesting. A couple of things, The number of KIA was over 30…at least two of the KIA were members of the 194th. One of the MIA was also a member of my unit and was later released in Cambodia. This of course is unverified but this was the info given to me by my unit and also 25th INF personnel in Tay Ninh. If anyone has more info please contact me.
    Gary Robinson Prescott Valley, Az robinsonbm@msn.com

  2. John Henderson Says:

    I hope you got my e-mail concerning Nui Ba Den. I was up there august 18 the second time it was overrun.

  3. Deb Munnings Says:

    RE: ‘The Nui Ba Den Massacres’ – It was not the story I had been told…..though harsh, much more mild to keep my, at that time, young ears from knowing the truth. My cousin was Sgt. James Clyde Kraynak. He has been a hero to me for years. Thank you for allowing a part of his story to be told.
    Peace & Blessings
    Mamasan/aka Deb

    • Deb, You are very welcome. The list of KIA’s on your cousin’s Vietnam Memorial Virtual Wall page was a ‘find,’ for me,
      since it gave me more information than I had before.

      If anyone has more details of the August 18, 1968 Nui Ba Den battle, please contact me.

      E-mail: Katzenmeier@hotmail.com Subject: Nui Ba Den

  4. Bill Prince Says:

    RE: ‘The Nui Ba Den Massacres’ – Nice job, the photos & stories bring back memories.

    I was 1 week in-country when the attack occured. I was on guard duty that nite in Cu Chi so the next day when 2 platoons from my Company, A Co 65th Engrs, went up to rebuild the place I missed that trip. 2 months later we moved to Tay Ninh and I spent 5 months working with 4/23rd Mech out of the Rock Crusher at the Mtn base. Mid-Feb 69 I went on top.

    I was a demo man and my job was clearing fields of fire, blowing up those boulders in front of the bunker line. I stayed in the Pagoda with some Big Red One como men. The medics had a place 2/3 of the way up the main trail to the Pagoda.

    In May 69 I went on a walk with 3/22nd down to Nui Cau to blow an LZ. I was with A Co 3/22nd in reserve on top for another trip down in Oct 69. After two extensions I finally left the Mtn in July 70. I’ve read most of these stories before and used much of the information for a story I’m writing about my time there. Thanks Regular.

    • Bill, thanks for the interesting comments. Please share your story, when it is finished.

    • RAY FARLEY Says:

      Very interesting reading. I was on the mountain off and on from April 1969 to Jan 70. I was with the 1st Inf Div. G-2.

      I was also on Nui Ba Ra from May 13, 69 to Jul 7, 69.

      I was 1 of 2 US forces on top of the mountain with only 15 Ruff Puff’s (Mountainyards) as security. The VC tried to overrun us on May 19th, 69, but with the help of a 1st Cav Gunship we were able to stop them at the perimerter or I also would be on the Wall. They gave me medals for it but as you know who have been in combat you only did what you had to do to survive and help save your buddies.

      I may have met Bill Prince on Nui Ba Den at some time since we seem to have been there at the same time.

      Thanks for your story I enjoyed it.

      If anyone remembers me from the mountain please contact me if you want.

      Welcome home Vets,

      Ray Farley Sgt 1st Inf Div G-2 Mar 24, 69-Mar 22 70.

      • Ray,

        Thanks for your comments. Welcome home.

        Note to readers: Our allies, the Vietnamese Regional and Popular Forces-irregulars were affectionately known as ‘Ruff Puffs.’ To learn more about the Montagnards (pronounced mountainyards) see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montagnard_%28Vietnam%29

        Ivan Katzenmeier

      • Bill Prince Says:

        Hi Ray, as mentioned, I stayed with a Big Red One commo team in the Pagoda at the summit. Maybe you know the unit and who they were. They had a TV, refrigerator, hotplate and pet monkey with a perch on the wall. Where were you located? I spent my days out in front of the bunker line blowing up those big ass boulders. At night I listened to KLIK FM, Lai Khe, on the radio. Sometimes it was off the hook. I loved it. Nui Ba Ra doesn’t sound like much fun. Love to hear from you.

        BP

      • Henry Matthews Says:

        H. Matthews says:
        Ray, I was on Nui Ba Ra from Dec 67 to Feb 68. Cold and windy at night and hot in the daytime. We I was second in command to the scrty force to protect the relay equipment on the mtn. Was no picnic but we had some great guys on the mtn. Just before I left to rotate to US the 101st Abn moved in on the South side of the mtn to do serch and whatever. We sure used a lot of ammo at night to help keep charlie out of our hair.

        You’re the first I have heard that was on the mtn.

        Good luck and god bless

        Henry M.
        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

        Welcome home Henry!

        Ivan Katzenmeier

    • david randall Says:

      i served on the mountain march 69 thru july69. i too was with a co. 65th. i am not sure but i think we worked together on the mountain my name is david randall my e-mail is earnhardt@live.com

  5. RE: ‘The Nui Ba Den Massacres’ – I was there.May 1968, I led a small team, como, 05Bravos for 25th Div Lrrp.

    We lost one of the team members who was new to the team. I need to know his name. Very important.

    The morning after, I looked into the eyes of everyone of the above KIAs, looking for my lost Lrrp.

    Gil Perez

    • RE: ‘The Nui Ba Den Massacres’ – If anyone reading this can help identify this new 05 Bravo (commo) who was a KIA on Nui Ba Den 13 May 1968, assigned to the 25th Infantry Division LRRP (Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol), please contact Gil Perez @ gamewarden@verizon.net.

    • Rudy Frausto (Flip) Says:

      Gil, I don’t know if you remember me. We met up on the mountain in ’68. You played with a band back in L.A., it was either the Ambertones or the Thee Enchantments, not sure now. When you used to come up to the top we would sit a bullshit about back home. I was there the 13th of May. Didn’t leave until the 23rd of May. You had just gotten back to the top and came and told me that my chopper was there to take me off cause I was going on R & R. You helped carry my stuff to the chopper and threw it in, That was the last time I saw you. When I came back to Long Binh after R & R, they wouldn’t let go back up. I’ve always wondered how you were. I am so glad you made it back. You were always one of the question marks from those days. Drop me a line sometime. I’m still in the L.A. area, actually, Pasadena.

      Love Respect & Brotherhood
      By~Pass (rudy frausto)
      Viet Nam/Legacy Vets Motorcycle Club

  6. Gerald Maddock Says:

    Very interesting. We, Bravo Co 2/27 Wolfhounds spent a little time on Nui Ba Den. Jan 6 thru Jan 23, 1969 and we were very glad to get off of there. It was one spooky place, and of course we had heard the stories about it being over ran a few times, and that didn’t help our nerves either.

    When it was clear at night, we could see firefights and action around the bases out from and down around the base of the mountain. And in the daytime could be socked in with fog and not get resuppllied that day. A lot of munitions went down that mountainside from reconning. We had one KIA due to misadventure. accidental friendly fire.

    I have much respect for anyone that spent time up there, and especially the ones who had to endure the attacks and the loss of life due to them.

    Gerald Maddock

    • Gerald,
      Welcome home!

      I thought life was good on the mountain. It was cool, a welcome break from the humid heat of the rice paddies and jungle. We even had TV to watch in the evening.

      While on the mountain I tried not to think about what it would be like to be attacked, although the fear of attack was always there.

      Walking or running at night, while under attack, on the uneven rocky paths, around the huge boulders, with enemy bullets, RPGs and satchel charges exploding everywhere, would have been very unnerving and challenging. I too have a great respect for those warriors who defended the camp during each assault.

      Note to readers with no military background:
      ‘Reconning’ or ‘recon by fire’ is military slang for firing machine guns, periodically, to discourage the enemy from approaching the perimeter of the camp.

      The root word is from the word reconnaissance (of an area; an enemy position); to scout with the aim of gaining information.

      When we ‘reconned by fire,’ we were ‘scouting’ with bullets, to determine whether the enemy was probing our defenses, or about to come through the wire surrounding our perimeter.

      As I mentioned in my narrative, the month I was on the mountain, we ‘reconned by fire’ every 15 minutes every night.

      Ivan Katzenmeier

  7. Mike Eakin Says:

    Thank you for the articles of May 13, 68. We lost 3 men that night and morning. Our commander Capt. Arthur L. Davis, Sgt. Fernando Calle-Zuluago and SP/4 Paul Lozano. I was C>Q orderly at Tay Ninh base camp on 13 May, 68 with the 587th Signal Co.

    We were hit at the same time that the mountain was hit. First mortars and rockets and then small arms fire. When I left the orderly room I took up position in a trench line around our camp. It was weird looking up at the mountain and seeing fire amongest the heavy fog up there and knowing there was nothing we could do for them up there. Too much fog for choppers to go up till the next day. It will always be with me.

    Mike Eakin

  8. Gil Perez Says:

    I personally appreciate the words from Mike, someone was actually looking at our dire situation while trying to hold their own. The fog on that mountain was always a threat against us as cover for charlie and air protection.

    Having read some of the after action reports from the SF (Special Forces) group up on the mountain and from those who were first to arrive I have to say that the medics who were their when we came under attack did an outstanding job regardless of their training or rank. They did their best with what they had. The pogada was our last stand, wall of protection.

    From my first trip to the mountain I always felt a sense of relaxation from the personnal assigned. I was only their for 3-4 days at a time, but remained cautious. Thanks again for the information and the forum, WELCOME HOME.

  9. Nui Ba Den 5.13.68‏
    E-mail From: Joe McClure
    Sun 4/04/10 1:55 AM

    I was there that night also.

    I was a commo guy (Granite Romeo Tango) with the 1st Inf. attached for months before to SF-324. I was on Nui Ba Den for 14 months about 12 of which were before the change over to the 25th. While I was there I was OPCON to Special Forces A-324.

    Kudos for the reconstruction of the events that night. The problem is that it is all from 25ID (25th Infantry Division) after action reports.

    One commo guy, Joe Styes from Wisc., 1ID (1st Infantry Division) won the Silver Star that night for his direction of aerial support.

    Two of the dead that you feature in the (youtube.com) video are 1ID (1st Infantry Division) commo guys. Our boy “Groovy” was booby trapped and the 1ID (1st Infantry Division) lost two medics the next morning during Med-Vac.

    Down at Tay Ninh east at the SF B-team a guy named Pete Sheerin who had just completed many months at A-324 realized that Nui Ba Den was being overrun and scrabbled the air support that saved “everybody’s” ass.

    “Everybody” at that time was the elements of the 25ID (25th Infantry Division). I don’t see Pete or Joe mentioned in this narrative.

    I was Med-a-Vac at about 10:am on the 14th and sent to the 45th Field Evac Hosp along with some of the fallen. Just me and dead soldiers. My wounds were relatively minor so I was one of the last to leave the pad along with some of the fallen from Nui Ba Den.

    If you believe that there were only 21 KIA you could not have been there on that chopper pad on 5/14/68 as the fog lifted.

    You and Tatarnic need to give some wiggle room for all that went on that night that “after action reports” don’t cover. You have reports that explain what one element reported on one event from one unit.

    There were at least 3 soldiers captured during that battle, you may remember that after negations they were released.

    I watched their release on TV in a bar in Baltimore and I cried like school-girl.

    Get tough and get all the facts before you report on Massacres! !

    Trung Si Mac
    ————————————————————-

    Response from Ivan Katzenmeier:

    For those who don’t speak Vietnamese, ‘Trung Si’ is ‘Sergeant.’

    I assume these comments relate only to my short youtube video – ‘The Nui Ba Den Massacre,’ and not to this blog.

    The three POWS mentioned in this e-mail were released 1-1-1969.

    Of the three, only Donald G. Smith was captured on the mountain, 13 May 1968.

    The other two POWs were captured 25 August 1968 (Thomas N. Jones) and 13 September 1968 (James W Brigham). They were not captured on the mountain.

    If anyone knows the names of other POWs captured or KIAs on the mountain during these battles, please contact me with their names.

    Bill Prince, has given me two more 5/13/68 KIA names, Richards and Jackson. PFC Wayne Richards, HHC 65th Engrs, 36K10; SP 4 Garland Duane Jackson was a black radioman with HHC 65th Engrs, a 05B20, in country only 2 months. I am sure there are others missing from this blog’s KIA list.

    Regarding the reports used – see page 45 above – sources are not limited to 25th Inf Div reports.

    This blog is a work in progress. I have received several contacts and leads on information from survivors of these battles. Unfortunately, a few just say they were in the battle, and don’t respond to my requests for more details.

    I appreciate any comments, additional information or leads anyone can provide.
    E-mail: Katzenmeier@hotmail.com Subject: Nui Ba Den

  10. Gil Perez Says:

    Still looking for information. Only the people that were there that night and the next morning knew the horror. Keep the doors and this web page open to learn as much of it as we can. Thanks again for the forum. As we communicate and get the word out perhaps I’ll find my answer.

    2010/02/13 at 8:49pm
    RE: ‘The Nui Ba Den Massacres’ – I was there.May 1968, I led a small team, como, 05Bravos for 25th Div Lrrp.

    We lost one of the team members who was new to the team. I need to know his name. Very important.

    The morning after, I looked into the eyes of everyone of the above KIAs, looking for my lost Lrrp.

    Gil Perez

    • Laura Brocato Says:

      My father was there. His name is William Brocato. He was special forces communications assigned to 25 infantry on a temporary assignment. He just recently started talking about the war, this being very tragic, and changed his life forever.

  11. Gary Roush has written an interesting article about how he risked his life during a zero visability helicopter evacuation of the 18 August Nui Ba Den battle wounded. I really admire the chopper pilots. They are my heroes!

    For his story go to: http://www.vhpa.org/stories/NuiBaDen.pdf

  12. James Brevard Says:

    I spent about a week on Nui Ba Den in July 1965 as a member of the Air Force. At that time the Air Force had a radar unit on the mountain and 13 5th Comm of the 5th Special Forces provided radio relay for units operating on opposite sides of the mountain.

    This site brought back memories.

    My first re-enlistment took place on the mountain. I was re-enlisted by the camp commander Capt Kennedy and feasted on a re-enlistment meal of jungle rat and paper rice (ran out of chow and weather prevented choppers from bringing in supplies).

    I feel bad for the those that lost their lives and their families. God bless them all.

    James Brevard
    CMSgt US Air Force (Retired)

    —————————————————————-
    James,

    Welcome home! That was a memorable re-enlistment meal!

    Ivan

    • james Brevard Says:

      Ivan i found some old 8mm tapes from my stay on the mountain in 1965. i was surprised they were in good a shape as they were. I had the film converted to wmv format (about 52mb in size). I can ftp the file to you if you like.

      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      Thanks a million James!

      Ivan
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
      Note: James put his 1965 Nui Ba Den re-enlistment video on Youtube!
      Go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-PVeJsDQJc&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL

      His earlier post is so interesting, I am repeating it below:

      April 20, 2010 at 9:45 am

      I spent about a week on Nui Ba Den in July 1965 as a member of the Air Force. At that time the Air Force had a radar unit on the mountain and 135th Comm of the 5th Special Forces provided radio relay for units operating on opposite sides of the mountain.

      This site brought back memories.

      My first re-enlistment took place on the mountain. I was re-enlisted by the camp commander Capt Kennedy and feasted on a re-enlistment meal of jungle rat and paper rice (ran out of chow and weather prevented choppers from bringing in supplies).

      I feel bad for the those that lost their lives and their families. God bless them all.

      James Brevard
      CMSgt US Air Force (Retired)

  13. Ron DeVries Says:

    I spent some time on the mountain early in October 1968. The reason I remember the dates is because the World Series was being played then and we could listen to the games on the radio.
    I was RTO in the CP Group with Charley Company 3/22 but while on the mountain I operated a switchboard.
    Would sure like to hear from anyone who was up there at this same time.

    Ron DeVries
    ……………………………………
    Hi Ron,

    Welcome home!

    Ivan Katzenmeier
    Sr. Medic Charlie Company, 3/22nd, 25th Infantry Division – 1968

  14. If you are curious about present day Nui Ba Den, here are links to five videos, 10 minutes each, of someone’s trip to the mountain.

    Video 1 – you can skip this video – it is of the tram ride to the cable car ticket booth.

    Video 2 is of the cable car ride from the base to the top. You may be interested in viewing this, if you climbed this mountain.

    Video 3 is of the temple on top, and worshipers. It is interesting to see how this mountain has been developed into a tourist attraction.

    Video 4 is of the cable car ride down the mountain. You might want to watch the first two and a half minutes. It shows a bird’s eye view of the mountain side.

    Video 5 has some still photos of the temple, and then a video of a 4 lane highway at the mountain’s base, filmed from a tour bus. I assume this is the road to Tay Ninh.

  15. If you are curious about present day Nui Ba Den, here are links to five videos, 10 minutes each, of someone’s trip to the mountain.

    Video 1 – YOU CAN SKIP THIS VIDEO – it is the tram ride to the cable car ticket booth.

  16. Video 2: The first 5 minutes of this video is of the cable car ride from the base to the top. You may be interested in viewing this video, if you climbed this mountain.
    The second 5 minutes shows many steps that must be climbed by the tourists to reach the temple. A tourist is seen entering the temple and worshiping.

  17. Video 3 is of the mountain temple and its tourists/worshipers. It is interesting to see how this mountain has been developed into a tourist attraction.

    At the beginning of this video (the first 5 minutes) there is a worship area, which appears to be in a cave. Note the rough rock roof. The rest of this video shows the same temple seen in the last 5 minutes of Video 2. If your time is limited, you might want to skip the second half.

    At about 6 1/2 minutes, you will see a little toddler imitating the adults bowing by lying on his face before the god on the altar. The last minute of this video records the cable car’s return trip down the mountain.

    Notice how tourists are worshiping a god made of stone, eating, drinking, and enjoying each others company. Do they have any idea how many lives were changed forever on this mountain?

    • John Chanik Says:

      The Vietnamese people seem to be living a healthy plump lifestyle these days. In 1969, the people were small and slim, especially the gals.

      John Chanik
      —————————————————

      John, that’s my observations too.

      Economics is about ‘guns and butter.’ Now they have more butter than guns.

      Ivan

  18. Video 4 is of the cable car ride down the mountain. You might want to WATCH THE FIRST 2 1/2 MINUTES only. It shows a bird’s eye view of the mountain side.

  19. Video 5 The first 2 minutes has some still photos of the temple, and a 4 lane highway at the mountain’s base, filmed from a tour bus. I assume this highway is the road to Tay Ninh. When you see the 4 lane highway, you can stop watching. The remaining 8 minutes of the video shows the tourists leaving the bus and entering a tourist shop/cafe, and then it returns to the remainder of the trip filmed on the tourist bus, and unloading passengers and bags at their destination.

    YOU WILL NOT REGRET SKIPPING THE LAST 8 MINUTES OF THIS 10 MINUTE VIDEO!

  20. John Chanik Says:

    I could have been there but was off by one tour.

    I was a C Co 121 Sig Bn VHF Radio operator from Di An that spent the Summer of 1969 on Nui.

    We were hit in July. Nothing like the 1968 attack, a much smaller VC force that were eventually destroyed by a SSG that saw them standing together, shot into the group, lucky hit one of their satchel charges and disintegrated them on the spot.

    We lost around six men.

    They had us up all night, and it was going on all around us. I was behind some sand bags near the mess hall with two others. No radio. We were just committed to that spot all night without knowing what was going on around us.

    Spooky flew around us dropping flares all night long, but in the end we were pretty much on our own, just as the guys in 1968.

    John Chanik
    ——————————————————-
    Welcome home John,

    Glad you returned safe and sound!

    Ivan

    • Jim Murphy Says:

      John,

      I was with the 125Th Sig. Bn. I was on top of Nui Ba Den from 4/69 – 10/69. The attack you are talking about occurred on June 16 1969. I had to drag myself out of our hooch. Alone I was terrified with others I was cool.

      It was mass confusion until Lt. Carl Zuzulock, the Signal Officer took charge. I was the one who contacted Cu Chi.

      I remember the E-6 who shot the gooks. I heard he lost his hearing. He was a hellva nice guy and his men spoke highly of him.

      My job was to work the FM radios in the pagoda.

      Lt. Zuzulock was awarded the Silver Star. Carl and I went back to ‘Nam in 1999 with other 25th Division Veterans. I call him every June 16. I presently live in Clinton, NJ.

      Welcome home,

      Jim Murphy

      • John Chanik Says:

        Although this website is dedicated to the 13 May 1968 attack, there must have been many more attacks on Nui Ba Den that we’ve never heard about. Thank you for giving the date of the 1969 attack. I’ve never read any account of that night. I didn’t know the E-6, but he might be given credit for ending the battle that night. Sure was a crazy night. I was on flat ground behind a stack of sand bags we called a “fighting position”. The mountain seemed to be blowing up all around us all night. I remember the spectacular blowout of the spotlight on the top. I also remember the plane flying around us dropping parachute flares. I also remember realizing that as support people, we were just sitting ducks waiting for the VC to come on in.

    • I am looking for anyone who knew Gary Robert Schmidtt (2 t’s) who was on Nui Ba Den in 68 or 69, I was on the mountain from June 68 – middle of August, I was a luck SOB as they got us just before and just after my stay. Thanks for anyone helping me get info on Gary.

    • Yes, thank you Ivan for your coverage of Nui Ba Den!! Being a former tenant on top of Nui Ba Den thankfully I think I missed all the combat, I can’t remember, I was ontop from June 68 til the middle of August 68 with the 1/5th Mech, 25th Division as a radio operator, and I don’t know why but am thankful, thanks to everyone who suffered through all the battles atop The Black Virgin. Welcome home to all my Brothers!!

    • Patrick Lewis Says:

      I was with Alpha 3/22 Infantry we were supposed to come up there that night but arrived very early the following morning to do what ever had to be done to resecure the the place.Around June 18th ,1969.

      Patrick Lewis

      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      Welcome home Patrick. Glad you made it back.

      Ivan Katzenmeier

    • Toni Wolff Says:

      John, since you were with 121 Sig Bn, did you know any of the details from the 13 May 68 attack where SPC Ralph Black was killed? We have a conference room named in his honor and would like to get more information regarding the battle or from people who knew him.

  21. Ray Farley Says:

    I see where John Chanick left a blog. I remember John from the mountain and wonder if he remembers me. I was with 1st Inf Div G-2, the unattended ground sensors. We were the ones with the black boxes we watched 24-7 and called in artillery when we had activity. If you read this John answer back. OK!! Ray Farley Tulsa, OKlahoma

    • John Chanik Says:

      I am sorry to say that I don’t recall you Ray, but I have no doubt that we knew each other on the mountain. I remember a Ray, but he was the medic next door. I was in the VHF hootch with the big butterfly antennas next to the Medic’s hootch. If you look at Ivan’s video “Vietnam Journey 1968 1969″ you will see my hootch to the left of the Medics Bunker at 2 minutes 59 seconds into it.

    • bob gee the whiz Says:

      farley, bob gee here. i was originally in lai khe and think i replaced one of you on the mountain. i sleep hard and was tired of waking up after the rockets hit. most folks would duck and cover as they heard the motor winding down. are you a part of the farley twins? there are many memories with the 1st div. the conex that was our command center, sgt kelly and many of the guys. went to the americal after the division, or flag, went home. i was on the mountain for about three months with no ill outcome. i just happened on this site while waiting for the weather to get decent. i am sure that i know one of you. were we not the “GROUND HOGS”?

  22. Billy Ramsey Says:

    I was on The Mn. the last four months of 1967. I have pictures.
    I was with a small group from the 588th Engineer BN. We were sent up there to build bunkers around the perimeter and dig a reservoir for water supply. I didn’t know until now what grave danger we were all in until this incident happened in May of 1968. When I left Nui Ba Dinh December 1967 I left Viet Nam to come home. My name is Billy R. Ramsey I was a SPEC 4.

    ——————–

    Welcome home Billy!

    Ivan

    • Billy Ramsey Says:

      Thanks Ivan.We had A few exciting moments, but nothing like what was to
      come.I thank God I left Nui Ba Dinh before all this happened
      We came from Dau Tieng

      C Co. 588Th Eng Bn.

      I have A lot of personal history to tell about my tour in Viet Nam if I can
      remember it. I’m glad you made it home safely Ivan.

  23. Billy Ramsey Says:

    Thanks Ivan,you too.

    .

  24. Great presentation of The Massacre on Nui Ba Den. I was on top of Nui Ba Den somewhere between June – August 1968 operating a relay station for the 1/5th Mech, 25th Infantry Division. I am sorry I cannot remember much of the war, I have a photo which I will post later, I think it was in front of the Pagoda.

    ………………………

    Ron,

    Welcome home!

    Thanks for the comments. The photo can be seen at: http://www.vietnambobcats.com/NuiBaDin.gif

    Ivan Katzenmeier

    • Ron,

      Your photo (in front of the pagoda on Nui Ba Den mountain) is at this website along with some other great combat photos:

      http://www.vietnambobcats.com/

      Ivan

      • Lincoln Casey Says:

        Ivan – does anyone remember 2nd Lt. Thomas (Tommy) Teague from the May 13 Nui Ba Den massacre? Tom was an OCS classmate of mine at Ft. Gordon, GA in 1967. When I was in RVN in ’68, I heard that he was KIA but never heard the details.

        Any information that you or anyone else who was there could provide would be appreciated.
        Thanks,
        L. Casey

        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

        L. Casey,

        Good to hear from you, and welcome home!

        See page 34 (above and following). Lt. Teague and others may have been killed when the enemy attacked the billets and officer’s club.

        I was stationed at Ft. Gordon in 1969-1970, after returning from Vietnam. Hopefully someone who knew Tommy will read this and respond.

        Ivan Katzenmeier
        Sr. Medic – 1968, Co. C, 3/22nd, 25th Infantry Division

      • Ivan, http://www.vietnambobcats.com is my website.

  25. eddie howell Says:

    I served 4 tours of about 25 days per tour atop nui from May – Nov 72 It was still a HELL tour Probably one of the most dangerous assignments in vietnam. My highest honor and respect to all those who served in the ‘hell’ hill. No where to run no sleep always ready to fight at night. God bless each and every one who served atop Nui Ba Den.

    eddie howell

    vnvnvnvnvnvnvnvnvnvnvnvnvnvnvnvnvnvnvnvnvnvnvnvnvn

    Eddie,

    Welcome home! I am sure all of us who have been on the mountain agree with your comments!

    Ivan

  26. Rudy Frausto (Flip) Says:

    A name is missing on the casualty/KIA list, PFC John Patrick Mc Gonigal, Jr., 194th MP Co., 1st Signal Brigade attached to the 125th Signal Bn. John died next to Bobby Wood when an RPG round was fired into their gun port, going off between them. They where in bunker 19 and died after taking out a VC mortar tube in the gully below bunker 19.

    Rudy Frausto (Flip)

    ………………………….
    Rudy,
    Welcome home!

    Thank you for the information about PFC John Patrick Mc Gonigal, Jr.
    I added his name to the list of KIAs.

    Ivan

    • William McNabb Says:

      Rudy, Thank you for your post. Bobby Wood was my uncle. This website has provided allot of information I never knew.
      God Bless You All!

      William McNabb
      USN Ret

  27. Rudy Frausto (Flip) Says:

    PFC DONALD G. SMITH, captured the night of the 13, May attack was part of the 194th M.P. Co assigned to the 125th Signal Bn., 25th Infantry Division. We found his glasses after his capture.

  28. Jacque Smith Says:

    Hello,

    I would like to research my father’s draft and time in vietnam. I really don’t know where to start. I figured asking other vets could give me a bit more guidance than what I’ve had thus far by searching google.

    My dad is alive but has always rarely talked about it.

    Recently, I have taken my 10 yr old daughter to him to interview him for a school project and gotten little from him even that way.

    I know the experience was traumatic for him to say the least. I cannot even imagine what he’s been through. I know a few details and am currently in the process of trying to get my mother to allow me to transcribe his letters home to my grandmother who kept every single one.

    I do know that he mostly talked of his car back home and the laundry service but am hoping there are a few things in his letters to clue me in.

    I know he was stationed atop Nui Ba Den in probably 1969, and was in the jungles in 1968.

    I know they brought him into the Bob Hope xmas show from the jungles and they brought him to the front by the stage to sit. He did name some of the towns/villages around the area he served but was sketchy on the details.

    Please contact me if anyone can help. I don’t know where good resources are to start with.

    I do not by any means want to make him relive any of this but rather would like to preserve history and have some information to pass down to my children and generations to come.

    Jacque Smith

    **********************************************************************

    Jacque,
    This is an excerpt from the Tropic Lightning News. This may be the Bob Hope show your father mentioned. To view the following article (page 7) go to: http://www.25thida.com/TLN/tln3-03.htm
    To view the photo go to: http://www.25thida.com/TLN/tln303-12.jpg

    Note: To view the Tropic Lightning News article (pp 4-5) of the Bob Hope Show the following year at:

    http://www.25thida.com/TLN/tln5-01.htm

    Best Wishes!

    Ivan Katzenmeier
    **********************************************************************

    TPage 7 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS January 15, 1968
    Comedian Bob Hope and part of his Christmas troupe as seen by nearly 10,000 screaming fans at the 25th Inf Div’s Lightning Bowl. Hope and his bevy of beauties visited the 12th Evac Hosp after the show. Shown are (from left) actress Raquel Welch, singer Barbara McNair, Hope, “Miss World” Madeline Hartog Bel, and actress Irene Dunn. The Hope aircraft was reportedly fired on while leaving Cu Chi and he later had this comment about the action, “Taking off from Cu Chi they took a couple of shots at us. Even the Cong gets sore when you don’t leave the girls behind.”

  29. Paul Manson Says:

    I spent 3 weeks on Nui Ba Den in 1972. I was 1 of 3 airforce with 12 US soldiers and 200 ARVN. Saved money and ate well, but I did not want to return.

    Paul Manson

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Welcome home Paul!

    Ivan Katzenmeier

    • Charlie Maxwell Says:

      I first landed on Nui Ba Den on April 7, 1972. There were 16 Americans assigned in those days, 8 of them USAF.
      We were over-run in an Easter Offensive attack which began the following morning at 0505 hours.

      During 1972 and early 1973 I spent many weeks on the mointain as an Air Force electronics tech maintaining radios.
      We were only 10 Americans after that April attack. Although we were attacked on a number of occasions, we never again allowed any enemy troop to penetrate our perimeter.

      I was among the last Americans to serve on Nui Ba Den, leaving from my final trip after the cease fire was signed.
      ———————————————————-
      Welcome home Charlie! Good to hear from you.
      Ivan Katzenmeier

  30. A song about the mountain “Nue Ba Den” by Mike Morningstar.

  31. Hi Ivan, my name is John R Schlaak.

    I was a Machine Gunner, 1st Platoon, Alpha Co, 3/22 Inf, 25th Div. I was the last contingency of Alpha Co to make it to the top late in the evening of Aug 18, 1968 on a 10 bird sortie.

    It took us 2 weeks to finally make it because of the thick clouds covering the top. Each morning the clouds was there, so we would go on patrol all day and 10 birds would fly in and we would circle that top looking for an opening in the clouds.

    We were taking incoming as we circled and could find no opening and then return to camp.

    I had exactly 90 days to go, so I could hardly wait to get on top for some rest, or so I thought.

    I hated flying around that mountain because the birds were flying a tight formation and almost running into each other because of the unstable air.

    On the 18th they went for it and we had to jump out quickly so the other birds behind us could unload.

    We got a plate of chow and then it was dark and raining inside this cloud.

    We were assigned bunkers and put on 50% alert. We started taking incoming around 11:00 hrs and by 01:00 the gooks had breached the perimeter and a whole Battalion poured in.

    They were like ants and they knew where everything was, where we did not, since we had no chance to take a tour, it was dark and raining with little visibility. Unfortunately my bunker was on the opposite side of the breach and we took 3 direct hits with rpgs, then chicoms and sachel charges.

    We had little hope of making it as we were on the lower perimeter and the commo wire had been cut. I was hit in the face, chest and leg, so I was blind and could not walk, only crawl and feel.

    Well I can see telling you all this is working me up and it is a long tale.

    Lt Chuck Boyle was my platoon leader until after the battle at FSB Burt, Jan 3, 1968 when he was transferred to Charlie Co as CO what bad luck for us.

    Funny thing is I originally had orders for Charlie Co when I left Cu Chi, but they got switched when I reported to Dau Tieng, to Alpha Company.

    Oh well, don’t know if that was good or bad they split most of my AIT buddies between Alpha and Charlie so I had friends in both.

    Well I really need to get to the point, since my time on the Nui Ba Den was short lived, I never really got to see it, so if you have any pictures you could email me I would greatly appreciate it.

    You could make them .jpg’s and size them for email. I have software that will blow up and enhance them.

    If you are going to the reunion in 2011, Atlanta, I’ll hook up with you and thank you personally.

    I am a Life member of the 22nd and 25th Inf associations. Thanks for the posting, there are not to many around who have been there.

    John R Schlaak, Gunner, 1st Plt, Alpha Co, 3/22. Address: 2728 Woodlawn Way, Lexington, KY 40511

  32. Thanks to John Thommes, who contacted me, and the ‘Tropic Lightning News.’ the story of ‘Operation Cliffdweller’ 1969, has been added to my blog on page 97. John was the Charlie Company 3/22nd RTO. Story and Photos
    By Sgt K.C. Cullen.

  33. Morgan Coleman Says:

    After reading the after action report, the securing of this base was an accident waitring to happen. Why wasnt a cohesive unit such as a company
    of troops placed there. Unless the leadership felt it was so insignificant that
    it did not warrant a coordinated command with immediate emergency
    back up support. These troops were isolated and forgotten.
    I served with the United States Marine Corps during the Korean War.

    Captain George Coleman is my brother.

  34. Ray E. Wood, MSgt. USAF/ret Nam Vet 69-70 Says:

    My cousin was SSgt Bobby C. Wood who died during that attack.
    Ray E. Wood, MSgt. USAF/ret Nam Vet 69-70

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Ray, I am sorry to hear about the loss of your cousin. Thanks for writing.

    Ivan Katzenmeier

  35. Gerry Meier Says:

    I was “Tay Ninh Arty”, 2nd/32nd in T.N. base camp the night of 05/13/68 when this happend, I can still rember us listning on an open mike as to what was going on,very chilling.., Until I read this I never thought I would hear, much less read about it ever again. I rotated out of country 3 weeks later so lost track of everyone & everything.
    I do rember that there was a guy, Special Forces I think from Sonoma Calif up there that nite in fact I was on radio with him when it broke loose & his radio went silent..
    Thank You for this story and to all that served.

    Gerry Meier
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Gerry,
    Welcome home!

    Ivan Katzenmeier

  36. I was on Nui Ba Den in July & August of 1968. I can not remember anything… I have a picture which I would like to post to see if anyone remembers me and help me remember (or maybe not)..
    Ron Henry
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~`
    Ron,

    Welcome home!

    For those who haven’t yet discovered it, the Bobcats have a great website with photos of Ron and others at http://www.vietnambobcats.com/

    Ron’s Photo on Nui Ba Den can be seen by clicking on this linking, or pasting it into your browser: http://www.vietnambobcats.com/NuiBaDin.gif

    Ivan Katzenmeier

    • Lincoln Casey Says:

      Ron – I did not see any reference to 2nd Lt. Thomas Teague or maybe I overlooked it? Can you direct me to specifics regarding
      his action when the site was over run? Thanks and glad to see that you made it back safely. Linc Casey, RVN ’68.

  37. John Chanik Says:

    This site is a tremendous tribute to those who experienced the May 13, 1968 attack. Fortunately for me, I was stationed in Korea at the time of this attack. I did happen to be stationed at the Nui Ba Den site during the Summer of 1969. I was in the VHF hootch next to the Medic’s hootch. We were hit pretty good in July. Not a massacre by any means, but the VC did major damage and we lost about 6 men. I can’t help but think this was one of many attacks that happened over the years.

  38. John Chanik and Jim Murphy have posted comments about Summer 1969 battles.

    The following articles mention casualties and dates of two of these battles.

    JUNE 16 1969 NUI BA DEN SAPPER ATTACK

    See:http://personalpages.tdstelme.net/~westin/batcat/catfatal.txt

    On June 16 1969, a radio maintenance technician from the 553rd Electronics Maintenance Squadron, TSgt. John Linaburg, assigned to temporary duty at a mountain top of an extinct volcano, Nui Ba Den (Nui BaDen), South Vietnam, was wounded. The mountain was about six miles outside of the city of Tay Ninh. There seems to be different English translations for the name of the mountain: Black Virgin, Black Lady and Black Widow.

    My earlier versions of this article incorrectly indicated Linaburg was killed. He was the 553rd Wing’s first Purple Heart recipient.

    SSgt David Collins, a diesel mechanic from Bien Hoa, who was on the mountain to service our power source was killed, as were two (maybe 3)Army enlisted troops who were manning the bunker line. This was a sapper attack by Viet Cong troops who attempted to overrun the site (my earlier version of this article incorrectly stated this was a rocket attack). Eventually the enemy was repelled, but it was a long night.

    My thanks to SMSgt. James Geimer, retired, for correcting my errors and adding additional information, corrections made 05/28/07.

    James Geimer was the 553rd NCOIC on site at the time of the attack. My thanks to Ron Cox, Officer In Charge of the 553rd EMS Communications shop for corrections made 10/18/09.

    If I have made any error to the above information please contact me with corrections at westin@Tdstelme.net

    Thank you – Larry Westin

    July 12, 1969 NUI BA DEN BATTLE

    See: http://www.sdvietnamwarmemorial.com/incountry.htm

    I was drafted from Gregory, SD after five years of college and two years of teaching high school in 1968. My training was taken at Fort Lewis, Washington and Fort Benning, GA.

    I was sent to Vietnam in May 1969 and was assigned to the Big Red One (mechanized) (A-2-2).

    Almost two months to day after arriving in Vietnam I was injured in the battle at Nui Ba Den (Black Virgin Mountain) on July 12, 1969.

    After spending two weeks in Japan, I was sent home to Fitzsimmons General Hospital in Denver.

    After spending nine months for a fractured left femur at Fitzsimmons, I was discharged from the Army on April 17, 1970.
    I am a very proud 50% DAV and am a life member of the DAV, VFW, and a member the American Legion. I retired from the teaching profession in 2003 and we have made our home in Broken Bow, NE, since 1978.
    • Dennis E Jones, Broken Bow, NE

  39. Date: Sat, 10 Sep 2011 21:35:23 +0000
    From: Jeff Kukuk

    Subject: Niu Ba Den

    Hello,
    I came across your youtube post telling about the battle on Nui Ba Den (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5c6ePH3SML0. Thank you for putting that together.

    I was put on NBD in June or July (cant remember exactly when) as a replacement for a guy from our outfit who had been captured along with two others (in other battles).

    I manned bunkers 17, 19, and 20. You made no mention of any captures but your narrative sounds like the stories I heard when I got there. I’m wondering if it was the same battle.

    I believe the mountain was overrun twice in ’68 prior to my arrival.

    The guy (Donald Glen Smith) captured from our outfit was released after negotiations with the VC in Saigon in December of ’68. Or it might have been early January of ’69.

    I remember meeting him back at our HQ in Long Ben on my way home. I rotated out of VN in early January.

    Thanks again. The pictures and narrative really brought back memories.

    Jeff Kukuk
    194th MPs

  40. UPDATES:
    See photos by PFC Donald Glen Smith, POW, of the bunkers (page 15) and generator shack (page 16), prior to their destruction on the May 13, 1968 attack.

    See the photo of PFC Joseph Mack inserted in the narrative about his being pinned and crushed by a boulder on Oct 9, 1968 ( bottom of page 89).

    See photos and narrative of a June 18, 1969 Sapper Attack (below page 97).

  41. Habitat Humanity International invites you to join U.S. Vietnam veterans as they travel to Tien Giang province March 30th, 2012 to build homes for families in need. This is a two-week build. For more information go to:

    http://www.habitat.org/gv/pdf/VietnamVetBuild_FLYR.pdf

    http://www.habitat.org/gv/special_interest_builds.aspx

  42. HAROLD W. NODEN Says:

    I AM THE OLDER BROTHER OF TIMOTHY J NODEN WHO WAS KILLED ON MAY 13. I THANK YOU FOR YOUR REPORT.WE STILL MISS TIM VERY MUCH.I HAVE NEVER MET ANYONE WHO WAS THERE WITH HIM.
    HAROLD W. NODEN
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Harold,
    I am sorry about the loss of your brother. May he rest in peace.

    Ivan Katzenmeier

  43. Rudy Frausto Says:

    Harold,
    I knew Tim when I was on the mountain. I arrived on the mountain in October of ’67 on my first tour and Tim came up a few months after. Good guy, I liked him. We worked together up there clearing fields of fire, normal when your securing a remote site.

    I left in January of ’68 and was back up in February. I didn’t leave again until ten days after we got hit on the 13, May. I still think about Tim. One of the men I can’t seem to forget and a part of me hopes I never will.

    Sp 4 Rudy Frausto
    194th M.P. Co., 1st Signal Brigade. (Then)
    By~Pass P Chapter Viet Nam/Legacy Vets Motorcycle Club California (Now)

  44. Larry Cote Says:

    Ivan,

    Thank you for such an informative site. I was on the mountain top in 1970, sometime I think around April for an entire month operating the radio relay station. I was with 3rd Brigade of the 25th. I guess my tour was without major mishap unlike others, but I think of the young men often that lost their lives. I was 22 years old at the time. For some reason, I recall a story somewhere that the mountain top was overrun again after I left Vietnam. I don’t know if that is true.

    Larry Cote
    Seabeck, Washington

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Welcome home Larry! Good to hear from you.

    Ivan Katzenmeier

  45. From VVA.org : Seeking anyone from 125th Signal Bn. who was on guard duty when Cu Chi came under attack, Feb. 1969.

    Also anyone who was on the summit of Nui Ba Den during the sapper attack on June 16-17, 1969.

    Contact: James E. Murphy,
    72 Overlook Dr.,
    Clinton, NJ 08809;
    Ph. 908-713-1765.

  46. I spent 6 weeks on top only to leave and a few days later– they were overrun on may 13- I was with the 588th HHC Co..of the 3 guys there 2 were wounded but ok…one guys name was DeJeus I cant remeber the others but do remeber their faces…I was at Tay Ninh base camp radio duty when someone came in and said the mountains on fire about the time the radio fm the rock quarry said their taking rounds..the Colonel came into the toc bunker and we monitored the radio action going on….and could see from TN base camp…some of these guys commenting on her I*ve probably met up there..welcome home fellows…thanx on the posting -brings back memories & accounts of what else happened ..the fellow 588th radio operators stories were very similar…
    chuck payne

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Welcome home, Chuck!

    Ivan Katzenmeier

  47. Matt Flikkema Says:

    Wow, what some stories, I just returned from a trip back to VietNam, I had never googled the mountain and when reading about all this activity I am just amazed about all this. I had no idea all this happened so close to my time on the mountain. I served with B Co. 3/22 Inf and we spent the month of Nov 68 pulling bunker guard duty. I and 4 other guys were on bunker 7, we reconded by fire every hour and no one ever bothered us. It was my best month serving in Viet Nam, what 3 hot meals a day and showers when ever we wanted them. Had all the trimmings for Thanksgiving dinner as I remember.

    Matt Flikkema

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Welcome home Matt!

    I was on the mountain October 1968, and my experiences on the mountain paralleled yours.

    Ivan Katzenmeier

  48. I was TDY to the 2/2 Mech, 1st ID in March-July 68, and with 1st Cav when it moved to III Corps for I Corps. There was a firebase “LZ St Barbara which was a serious artillery base for operations against Nui Ba Dinh and the boonies north of there.

    That base came under attack by three regiments from three of the VC/NVA divisions one night. The were expected but the cans in the wire were the first real warning. The had hit the TOC which had a flat roof with an airspace through which a 107mm rocket came inside and wiped out the Infantry staff there.

    Commo is the first to go out on the command channels, but we listened to the artillery and medevac chatter to get the gist of the action. Spooky had a good evening.
    Gordon Fowkes

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Gordon,

    Welcome home!

    Ivan Katzenmeier

  49. We have a lot in common: Viet Nam and the 419 Scam. I have five books, three music videos, three documentaries and my combat gear on display at the Smithsonian Inst. Nat’l Air and Space Museum. I also have two books regarding my efforts to thwart the success of the 419 scam industry by educating targets, victims, law and legal systems around the globe.

    Visit my website: http://www.brianwizard.com and check out my work.

    You might like my latest e-photo-book, Smokeships Always Leading the Way, and you blog is similar to that book. 168 photos, less than 6000 words.

    Sorry if this ‘reply’ is the inappropriate way to tell you the above. Email is better for me.

    Cheers, Brian Wizard.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Welcome home Brian!

    You have an interesting website (www.brianwizard.com). I am in the process of reading your fascinating stories on your ‘free page.’ I am sure my readers will also find your writing enjoyable.

    Ivan Katzenmeier

  50. Joe Mack Says:

    I think it was a great article .Now I know why we had to go to the top of the mountain an rebuild the bunkers. I was the one under boulder .Keep up the good work.

    • Hi Joe,
      I am glad you survived the ‘boulder attack.’ Welcome home buddy!

      Ivan Katzenmeier

      Note: Joe’s story is on Page 89 ‘Boulder Crushes Man.’

  51. I was at Tay Ninh in 68 & 69, Service Battery, 2nd 32nd FA. I truly remember the Mountain. I did supply runs to Katum and French Fort around her base. Our Firing Battery stayed busy all night.
    So sorry for your losses but God will care for them now and God Bless those that survived.

    Nomon R. Kennedy, Jr.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Thanks for the comment, Welcome home Nomon!

    Ivan Katzenmeier

  52. Thanks for your narrative. I spent some time around the base of Nui Ba Den with the 1/5 Inf, 25th Inf Div. in Nov & Dec ’67. We were mostly in the French Fort area on the far side of the mountain. Hell of a place. I posted some pictures of it on my Flickr site: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bobcatalpha/
    I know its been said before, but can never be said enough “Welcome Home”

    Frank (Tom) Goins

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Welcome home Tom!

    Thanks for the comments and wonderful photos!

    Ivan Katzenmeier

  53. Frank Taylor Says:

    The Redhorse relay soldier was named Rocco that led the relief effort with our gunships… He as I were with HHT 3/17 ACS based at tay Ningh at the time……I know this because I replaced Rocco at the bunker If you want to call it that.we were posted right besides the special forces bunker that was totally destroyed,our home made shower was on the other side and generators … we manned a 50cal in our bunker and had 32 claymore mines around our bunker(in front) not sure what number our bunker was .Rocco did say upon my relief that he had to get out of there and good luck..

    Frank Taylor
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~`
    Welcome home Frank! Good to hear from you!

    Ivan Katzenmeier

    • frank everingham Says:

      fascinating reading about all the experiences on nui ba den. i was with co.d 3/22 in 1969&70. i spent a lot of time on that mountain. one of your stories talks about a person from recon, 3/22, that was killed and the army covered up and lied about how he died. the person from recon that was killed on 1/18/70 was bob rutledge. he was from tennessee. the army lied about how he died. he was killed when resupplies crushed him, not by enemy fire. he did not volunteer for recon. bob and dana johns were transfered because our staff sgt …… was an idiot..bob got killed, dana lost his leg and our … sgt locked him self in his hootch because he thought we were going to kill him. bob should have lived and (the Sgt)… should have died. i’m still pissed

      frank everingham

      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
      Frank, you are listed as a Silver Star recipient in the Tropic Lightning, May 4, 1970, page 2,
      (http://www.25thida.org/TLN/tln5-17.htm). I am sure you have more stories to tell.

      Welcome home Frank.

      Ivan Katzenmeier

      • bob gee the whiz Says:

        we had a guy up there we called ”BLISTER BAG”, a name used for the container water was delivered bt ch47’s. when they cut it loose it got away, rolled down the hill and over blister bag. code name “rat hole” acquired from OCS days? He did survive.

        i remember a fellow by name of larry both? that went to cu chi for the show. I i remember correctly i gave my spot on the chopper, won by lottery, to him as his dad was in the stage guild union. BOB HOPE called him on stage i think. BOB HOPE was and is a good AMERICAN. actually the name may have been borman.

        i’ve read several times the enemy knew primary targerts. some probably are identifeid with common since. there was a comment made that special forces employeed a ”NURSE’” on the hill for awhile. If she were not disposed of, how much intelligence did she bring from the hill?

  54. John Bullock Says:

    Thank you each and every contributor to the above information. My interest is in the details surrounding the death of Sgt Timothy Noden. A very close and fine young man. I am an older friend who first met him in church and later next door neighbor. had the opportunity to drop him off for his college experience at Temple U. on my way to work every day. So any one having facts about young Timothy and his Vietnam experience would provide much valued information. I discovered this site by making a random google search for his name and reading of this battle added to my information about his untimely death. Anyinformation about him would be appreciated. Thanks John Bullock

  55. My United States History class at El Cajon Valley High School is doing a project to honor men who died in the Vietnam War. The project called “Put a Face With a Name” is sponsored by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund in Washington D.C.

    Can anyone please help me with information or perhaps a photo of Marvin Charles White? I know the he was from Ramona, California. He was also in the unit: HHC, 1ST BDE, 25TH INF DIV, and USARV. I am currently working vigorously trying to find his family and himself.

    I am contacting you because I would be so grateful if anyone would tell me more about the death of Marvin Charles White. Thank you so much for your time.

    You can reach me at Missz128@gmail.com

    If you any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact my teachers. Mr. Wilkerson at rwilkerson@guhsd.net or Mrs. Bogart at (619) 401-4843 or email her at dbogart@gushd.net.

    Thank you.

  56. John Chanik Says:

    Ivan,

    In your video “Nui Ba Den / Black Virgin Mountain 1968″ at about 38 seconds, there is a shot of the Medic’s Hootch and the Messhall in the background. This photo looks like it was after the May attack as the Messhall
    looks rebuilt. To the left of the Medic’s hootch looks like the VHF hootch I was assigned to in June 0f 1969. Would it be possible for you to email me the shot so I don’t have to go to YouTube everytime I want to see it?

    Thanks! John Chanik

  57. Ronnie Black Says:

    I was on the mountain from nov 1967 to the end of march 1968 with the provisional co 125 sig ba 25th infantry div. the may 13th attack occurred approximately 45 days after I rotated back to the states. After 44 years of wondering how the attack went down, now I know , thanks to this site. Anyone who served with me is welcome to contact me.

    Ronnie Black
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Welcome home Ronnie – good to hear from you!

    Ivan Katzenmeier

  58. NEW STORY

    Tom Torma’s heroic story follows page 34 above. He was with the 86th Signal BN, 1st Signal Bgde.

    His grandson tells me Tom received suffered severe burns during the 13 May, 1968 attack.

    Tom didn’t tell his family much about his war experiences, but they recall he was very close friends with a man from Columbia.

    Tom passed away March 2008.

    If you knew Tom, please contact me.

    Ivan Katzenmeier, Sr. Medic
    HHC, 3/22nd, 25th Infantry Div,
    Bravo & Charlie Companies (68-69)

    • John Chanik Says:

      Hello Ivan,

      I was on NBD during the summer of 1969. I was in the VHF hootch next to the medic’s bunker. The medic’s name was Ray. Is it possible that Ray replaced you?

      Did you know Ray? Of course that was long after the massacre of 13 May 1968, and your tour might have been over by the time Ray came along. I can’t remember his last name. Do you have any information about Ray?

      Thanks,

      John Chanik

  59. Gilbert Hughes Says:

    I was at Tay Ninh as a civi having served 4 years with the USAF as a B52 tech. I was working on the hueys installing some new gear i thought it was the 334th av outfit. I was there for the may offensive 1968 we lost 8 i believe from our bunkers at tay ninh when they came thru and blew satchel charges at our big 155MM the day before they hit the mountain. I clearly remember the ball of fire from our camp. Also met a 25th inf man who i do business with and will have to tell him of your site. He was as he said to me at the bottom of the hill. I will get his full name and post it if he is willing.
    Gilbert Hughes
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Welcome home Gilbert!

    Ivan Katzenmeier
    Charlie Company, 3/22nd, 25th ID, Sr. Medic 1968

  60. Attempting to locate Lt William R Holland, Plt LDR on Nui Ba Den 1970. To the best of my knowledge Nui Ba Den wasn’t over run in 1970. I believe it was turned over to the ARVN December 1970, and 25th ID troops removed and redeployed to Hawaii. Thank you for any assistance you can provide.

  61. Donald T. Marshall Says:

    I was with the 587th Signal Co. from 6/6/69-2/20/70. Never got picked to pull duty on the mountain. I didn’t know about all this. Very interesting. Going to add this to my diary on ‘Nam. Tks.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Hi Don,
    Good to hear from you! Welcome home.
    Ivan Katzenmeier
    Sr. Medic, Co. C, 3/22nd, 25th. Inf Div. 1968

    • Lincoln Casey Says:

      Don – no one seems to remember 2nd Lt. Thomas Teague with the 125th Signal who died during the night of the attack. If you know of anyone who remembers Tom, please provide my e-mail address so that we can communicate. Lincoln Casey (RVN ’68)

      • Donald T. Marshall Says:

        there are over 2,000 members of the vietnam veterans face book page, alot on the 1st signal brigade facebook page. this same with those yahoo pages….maybe that wud help ya…

  62. Sgt Phillip Roseberry Says:

    I arrived on Nui Ba Den on May 13, 1968. I arrived at the early morning. I was with A Co 2/12 inf 25th Div. It was my first vision of such mass casualties. I help carry the KIA’s on to the Chinook that I arrived on. I was horrified at what I saw. I relive that day often.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Welcome home Phillip!
    Thanks so much for your comments. It helps the rest of know that we are not alone in the pain we feel, as we look back.
    Ivan Katzenmeier, Sr. Medic, 1968
    Co. C, 3/22nd, 25th Inf Div

    • Lincoln Casey Says:

      Phillip,   Thanks for your thoughts re. the horrors that you saw at Nui Bad Den.  And, I’m sorry to hear that you still recall that incident so vividly after all of these years.  We were all young and impressionable back then and will never forget what we experienced.  Linc Casey, RVN ’68    

      ________________________________

  63. I was on the Black Virgin Mt. in 67 and 68.
    588th eng. battalion co. C Home base Dau Tieng.
    The water reservor you see on the Mt. myself and a phillipno and I cant remember to this day what his name was,
    Him and i were given the task to clear that area out with explosives ( C3 etc. } We had to use pneumatic rock drills to drill holes in the Granet to set our charges.
    When we were complete they brought a dozer up with a chinook to clean the rubble out. When that was completed a rubber liner was placed into the cavern to catch the water.
    Bunker 18 was where we bunked.
    Our commanding officer was Lt. Bernard Mundt from Muskegon, Mi.

    To this day I can remember only a few buddies names:
    John farmer from Mich City Ind.
    John Hardy from Detroit Mi.
    Ed Marlinga from Mi.
    Bobby Mullens from Ohio.
    John Hatfield from Oregon.

    I left NAm in Feb of 1968.

    Mike Carpenter

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~`
    Welcome home Mike!
    Thanks for the interesting information.

    Ivan Katzenmeier 1968-69
    Sr Medic, C 3/22nd 25th Inf Div

  64. I was sent up on the hill on July 7 1968 as punishment for getting drunk and missing guard mount ! I was a raido operator with the 168th Cbt Eng Bat that was in Dian supporting the Big Red One. We operated from a shelter that we cobbled up between some rocks until they got the Pagoda remodeld. We then moved into a beautiful, dry, 4×8 cubical. It was great. I survived the Aug 18th battle I was with the reaction team that secured the helecopter pad. I dont recall the VC setting up any morters on it as the flares had it lit up pretty good and we were able to hit many of them as they tried to hide under their cammo poncho liners. We had a great field of fire and good cover. once in positon we spent the rest of the night in the same spot. When morning came it looked like a butcher shop! I also remember clearly the VC with the top of his head blown off , his brain still attached to his burnt body at least 10 feet away clutching what was left of the satchel charge! I also remember clearly the brave men who were wounded. I gave several cigerets and used my radio to let them talk to their pals in the base camps. I went down to Dian in Sept and could not stand the lifer bullshit and begged them to send me back up on the hill. I stayed up there until Jan 2nd when they came up and made me come back to Dian. I never before or sense felt that strong a bond with anyone as much as I did that great bunch of people who were with me on the hill!

    Joe Jones
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Hi Joe! Welcome home.
    Thanks for your interesting comments.
    Ivan Katzenmeier 1968-1969
    Sr. Medic, C 3/22nd 25th ID

    • Hi Joe: I was on Nui Ba Den in July 68 – Aug 68, I was with the 25th Div, assigned to the Bobcats 1/5 Mech at Dau Tieng. Our radios were in a building that I believe the gooks built. I remember nothing about being top, according to the dates I am sure i was in the battle you are speaking of but…. Any more you can add would really be appreciated.

      • I received this message from Jon Blickenstaff: Ron Henry passed away yesterday as a result of congestive heart failure. He was a beloved Brother and one of the founders and cornerstones of the 5th Infantry Regiment Association. His passing is a great loss to us all. He was a former member of the 3rd Infantry Regiment, the Old Guard, and will be afforded internment in Arlington National Cemetery with full honors and ceremony.
        ””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””

      • Lincoln Casey Says:

        Ivan – thank for posting the notice about Ron Henry.  He will be missed by many.  Linc Casey, CPT, RVN ’68

  65. Morgan Coleman Says:

    Thank you very much for this report.
    My brother, Captain George Coleman is listed as one of those
    soldiers who was killed on May 13, 1968 at Nui Ba Den.
    Morgan Coleman
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Morgan,
    I am so sorry about the loss of your brother. I am sure he is missed by his family. Thanks for writing.

    Ivan Katzenmeier

  66. [IMG]http://i41.tinypic.com/1e9hmq.jpg[/IMG]
    Anyone know these guys? Center is Robert Langley, to the right is Freddy (ramon/ramundo/Ramirez?) and do not know man on the left. Robert Langley was a radio operator in the 125th Signal Battalion 66-68 at Cu chi and Nui Ba Den.

    http://tinypic.com/r/1e9hmq/5

    Please email me if you have any info! He mentioned some calling him Sgt Rock. My dad, Robert received the Bronze star but will not tell why.

    • Lincoln Casey Says:

      The soldier on the left looks a lot like someone who served with the 69th Signal Bn, Tan Son Nhut in 1968-69. His name was Proscel
      (sp ?) and he operated the batallion MARS radio station. He was a quiet and intelligent soldier who was well liked by many – especially those who passed through the MARS station. Sorry that I could not provide more information.

  67. I located and posted Gary Gilen’s photo (KIA, page 81) thanks to his friend, Willie Gin, who posted the photo several years ago on the following website: http://tinyurl.com/nlmvxg7

    • Lincoln Casey Says:

      Thanks for letting me know.  The war took a heavy toll on all of us.  I lost my OCS classmate and friend Thomas (Tommy) Teague in Nui Bad Den massacre as well. We can never forget them.

  68. Jon Blickenstaff Says:

    My name is Jon Blickenstaff and I was an Infantry 1st Lt. assigned to Nui Ba Den as a platoon leader under the command of Headquarters Company, 1st Brigade, Provisional Company, 25th Infantry Division. Our primary mission was to man and defend the bunker line. I was on the mountain from February 13, 1969 through June 17, 1969. I was directed to your sight by Ron Henry (he has previous posts) whom I served with during the late summer and fall of 1968 when we were both assigned to the 5th Infantry (Mechanized) Regiment, 25th Infantry Division while the unit’s assigned AO was out of Dau Tieng. We have a very comprehensive Regimental Association web site at http://www.bobcats.ws detailing the unit’s entire deployment history from 1966 through 1971 with tons of photos. The Regiment is the 3rd oldest unit, established in 1808, still on active duty with the US Army and is comprised of the 1st and 2nd Battalions.

    I am contacting you regarding the post of Zahra dated June 5, 2012 and the above article titled June 18, 1969 and the Sapper Attack Photos. I was on the mountain the night of that attack, but all my documents and dated letters sent back to my family (which my mother kept for me) support the fact that the attack actually occurred on Sunday night, June 15, 1969 beginning at about 11:30 p.m. I have also confirmed that date with 1st Sergeant Harry Meyer (Retired) who was an E-7 at the time and served in the capacity of 1st Sergeant for the Provisional Company. The Commanding Officer of the mountain at that time was Major Campbell. Harry, now retired, lives near Ft. Knox and I can confidentially provide you his contact information if you are interested.

    I had 18 men assigned to me and my security sector was bunkers 7 through 12, with 3 men per bunker. The last photo in the article above is the back side of the bunker I occupied, that being bunker 9. On the night of the attack, an Air Force container holding top secret surveillance radio equipment was the first target hit by the sappers. That container sat on top of the hill directly behind my bunker 9, so I know that for a fact. I and others are firmly convinced that the sappers were already inside the wire exploding satchel charges before we started receiving incoming AK-47 and RPG fire from outside the wire as those explosions were the first things we heard. The focus of the incoming fire was directly in front of bunkers 8 and 9 with bunker 7 receiving fire on the left side as you look at the back of it from the inside of the bunker line. I had 3 men KIA that night, one of which was Marvin White (as referenced in Zahra’s post) who was assigned to bunker 7. I know the details regarding his death. Because of all the boulders, elevation variations and bunker locations on the circumference of the mountain, there was an inherently flawed expectation regarding a realistic and tactically sound defense of the mountain. At best we only had overlapping fire to the bunkers on our immediate right and left, and all the forward views from every bunker was looking downhill at 60 degree angles or more with even more boulders obstructing a clear downhill view to return fire. Once the stuff hit the fan, each bunker essentially became an island unto itself and a coordinated consolidation of manpower was impossible due to all the boulders which provided superb and protected firing positions for the VC to prevent that attempt. The attack reaction plan called for an OIC to assemble all available men on top of the mountain, then move down to the area of the bunker line which was receiving incoming fire and support the fire that was being returned from the bunker line. Lt. Carl Zuzulak was the OIC that night and he did indeed execute that plan. He and the assembled men worked their way down the paths through the boulders to my bunker. The Air Force was on station within about 20 minutes from the beginning of the attack and began dropping illumination flares. They stayed on station dropping flares all through the dark, early morning hours and then broke off at daylight. In all the attacks on the mountain over the years, the VC always took advantage of the obstruction factor that the boulders provided, both inside and outside the perimeter, to exploit their efforts. If your enemy is willing to give up his life to kill you, which the VC were, then the top of Nui Ba Den provided them the perfect topically disadvantaged position to inflict the most damage with the smallest number of men. It happened every time the mountain was attacked with a predictably factor that favored their outcome.

    I rotated off the mountain on Tuesday, June 17, 1969 and returned to the 5th Mech, completing my tour and returning home on July 28, 1969.

    I hope this post is not too long, but I wanted to detail the memories as clearly as possible. After all these years it still feels like it was just yesterday.
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
    Welcome home Jon! Thanks for the interesting narrative and setting the record straight on the date of the battle.
    Ivan Katzenmeier

  69. chuck payne Says:

    welcome home brother!

  70. Larry Simon Says:

    Good information site..
    was a crewchief with the 195th Assault Helicopter Company 1st Air Lift in ’67-’68 and resupplied the top of Nui Ba Din Mountain many times..
    brought in MACV-SOG SF in Dec ’67 and was on many infantry combat assaults around the base of that mountain with the 25th Inf grunts.

    We also had many air drop illumination flare missions when the installation on top had unwelcome people.

    From the top up there you could see the lights of Saigon and way west into Cambodia on clear days and the enemy over there getting ready to come across the border.
    Larry Simon CE UH-1H Huey 214th CAB 1st AVN BDE

    ===========================================================================
    Welcome home, Larry! Good to hear from you.

    Ivan Katzenmeier

  71. barry smith Says:

    I was in Co. A 3d/22nd Inf during Operation Cliff Dweller.

    My first action. I was a green and unafraid Pfc. Was awarded the Silver Star for helping wounded, I then started rock hopping to get to my injured squad leader. Later on in the day we saddled up and were ready to move out. I was walking point took about a dozen steps, felt something to my left. It was man laying on a boulder with a gun pointed my way. I swear I stopped dead in my tracks and shot him a peace sign as his shot hit the rock 2 feet in front of me. His last action in life.. That ended our day and we got to sleep on those granite rocks. It was a weird place for sure.

    A couple months later Co A spent the night over in the saddle. The ground was softer there. We started us down the saddle and received sniper fire at first that picked up in intensity. Helped a few more injured to get down to flat ground. Was awarded a bronze star with a v device.

    I was on Nui Cau about a month after that but there was little action that day. I was never wounded in those actions but did get malaria.

    Barry Smith

    ………………………………………………………………………………………………………
    Barry, Welcome home!

    Thanks for your comments and descriptions of experiences in and around the mountain. Also thank you for your dedication and bravery in the heat of battle.

    This month is the 44th anniversary of the Vietnam War’s, Operation Cliffdweller IV, the longest sustained battle in months. The following is from an After Action Report:

    Bravo and Charlie Companies, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry, were airlifted by Chinook helicopters to the top of Nui Ba Den, and started working their way down in columns over the boulders toward the bottom.

    As the two companies moved into sweeping and blocking positions from the top, Alpha Company was moved in from the bottom to seal off the left side of the trap. Recon Platoon, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry and Alpha Company, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry, were airlifted onto the ridgeline of Nui Ba Den’s little sister Nui Cau, putting their steel onto the right side of the jaws closing in on the enemy.

    Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 34th Armor, moved in on line with tanks and armored personnel carriers at the base of the mountain, completing the trap. Bravo Battery, 7th Battalion, 11th Artillery towed their Howitzers from Fire Support Base Buell to beef up the line at the bottom. A sky full of artillery shells pounded the enemy positions keeping them down in their caves as riflemen crept through the boulders on the line.

    Air Force jets were called in to strafe and bomb the enemy. Dusters, quad-50-caliber machine guns, a self propelled 175mm Howitzer, Cobra rocket and mini-guns plus artillery, tank and Huey gun ship fire from the 116th Assault Helicopter Company raked and pounded the sealed off enemy. There were 186 enemy killed in the eight day operation.

    To view a short video of this operation go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xk4g3C6_gGo

    Ivan Katzenmeier
    Sr. Medic, Charlie Co. 3/22, 25th Inf. Div. (1968)

  72. Dear sir, my date of action was 8 January 1970. My medal was the silver star. I was a pfc who was serving with Company A 3rd Battalion, 22d Infantry. I can send you the award of the silver star if you need the proof.

    I am talking about Cliff Dweller IV. We saw quite a lot of crap in those days in early January. Like I said, my company was back up there in March in the Saddle area for some R&R (LOL) after we pulled a night ambush on a sizable force at the straight edge woods on the Cambodian border.

    We also got pretty torn up on a platoon level at the Elephants Ear in Feb. of 1970. We also went to the mountain later in March and were in a 2 company operation around Nui Cau Ci and sustained heavy casualties in that operation.

    I received a bronze star for my involvement in that mission. My company was also at FSB Washington and FSB Crook several times .

    We were also in Cambodia for several weeks in May of 1970 and a number of my Company suffered from Citric Acid poisioning from gourging ourselves for several days on the ripening pineapple crop that we found there.To this day I can tell if someone was truly an infantryman in our battalion by their knowledge of the call of a certain lizard that lived in the jungle and elephant grass of our area of operation. I assure you that those who know the call of that lizard will to this day display a smile at the mere mention of that lizard and its distinct sound.

    Barry

    • Lincoln Casey Says:

      Barry ,

      Welcome home. You certainly experienced a lot of hardship during your time in RVN. But, hopefully you put those times behind you and moved on with your life when you returned to the world. We all remember our time there – both good and bad.

      Capt. Casey, RVN ’68-’69

      • Barry,were you the person who saved Lonnie? From Pat Lewis (Louie)

      • Sir, Yes I have moved on in certain ways. I try to help vets get the benefits they have earned from using my own trial and errors in that area. I am actively involved with the local and state vfws. (Once a point man always a point man) I’ve had a fairly successful life and retired to a house on a hill with a beautiful view of the Ohio River. Very peaceful and serene.

    • Smith was your alias name hippie?? From Pat Lewis alias Louie.

      • Are you from New Jersey

      • Louie it is you. Yes I did. Lonnie was a machine gunner. Blonde haired dude from Iowa. His assistant was Willie Clark. Louie you Tom Walks took this FNG (me) under your wings and made me a GRUNT.. I owe my life to you especially. There is no frigging way that I could ever repay you for knowledge and experience. Right now I am sitting here typing this trembling and crying at the same time. THANK YOU

      • Yes originally from New Jersey ,but lived in South Florida for the last 35 years. Welcome Home Brother. Email:kwman@att.net
        Patrick Lewis(Louie)

      • Thanks for posting the emails between these guys. I hope that they can find a way to connect directly.

      • Matt Flikkema Says:

        It has been great to read this blog, its not often that I get to read about experiences similiar to mine in Nam, but you guys did. I served with B Co, 3/22 Inf arriving in Sept of 68. Started out at FBS Buell on Sept 20 and spent the month of Nov on top of Nui Ba Den, best duty I had for my year. Our company built FBS Crook and went thru the ground assualt on June 6. I returned to Nam in Feb 2012, but there is nothing left to see of our time there. Lt Irwin was my platoon leader when I first arrived, he later was A Co CO. He was a good leader as far as I was concerned, never let his men down. Anyway good to hear your stories and welcome home.

  73. Ivan thank you so much for this awesome site. I see you were Sr. Medic in Charlie Company in 1968. A friend of mine was in Charlie Company in 69-70. We were in basic and AIT together at ft Gordon, Ga. We rode all the way to Nam together, did our tour in 3/22 and rode all the way back to Columbus, Ohio together. He went on to Charleston, WVA. His name was Ronnie Kuhn.

  74. UPDATES: On pages 101 to 103 Jon Blickenstaff ‘s photos were inserted into his narrative describing the June 15-16, 1969 battle. Thank you Jon!

    Lanny Hamby’s photo was added in his honor (KIA October 14, 1969).

    • Jon Blickenstaff Says:

      Ivan, thanks for posting my photos, I’ve got a couple more things coming your way yet. It had to be fate, after all these years, that brought us together for breakfast that Saturday morning, November 16, 2013, in of all places….Sioux City Iowa! Go figure. I appreciate you keeping me in the loop on all the new postings and keep up the great work.

      Jon Blickenstaff

  75. Gypsy Morningstar Says:

    My dad’s name is Michael Morningstar. He was in Vietnam in 1969. He is a singer/songwriter and wrote a song called Nui Ba Den. It is a very emotional song for me. Thank you.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Gypsy,
    Thank you for your comment about your father’s song. I found it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qZeHUNgcNtw

    Ivan Katzenmeier

  76. From: Larry Linn

    I was with A Co/3rd/22nd/25th on Operation Cliff Dweller in January 1970, and we were sweeping the base of the mountain. I remember some of the guys from my platoon going to get water from a stream similar to the one in the video
    (at http://tinyurl.com/oweqvdx). We were ambushed. My platoon was sent out into the rice paddies below the saddle between Nui Ba Den and Nui Cao, and we came under heavy fire as well. Some of the guys in my platoon died, many where shot , and a helicopter which came in for a rescue was shot down.vvvvvvvvvvvvvvvv
    WELCOME HOME LARRY! The story of this battle is on pages 111-118 above. Ivan Katzenmeier

    • barry smith (hippie) Says:

      Larry, It seems to me that I remember that a gun ship played into the mix that day also. Wasn’t Ed Rosa in your platoon? When we got to Tay Ninh afterwards several people from my squad were transferred to your platoon. Sgt. Francis and Tom Walks are two that I remember.

  77. bob gee the whiz Says:

    thank you for the work on this. i have limited info but will be glad to share. memory is still sharp depending on time of day.

  78. Dave Helland Says:

    Great narrative – thank you ! One correction in the “units supporting during the battle” section : The artillery unit involved was B Battery, 2nd Battalion, 32nd Artillery (not 23rd, as written).
    Dave Helland, HHB 2/32 Arty. – Tay Ninh, RVN

    • Thanks Dave! Correction made on page 36: The supporting forces providing fire and illumination during the attack were B Troop, 3rd Squadron, 17th Air Calvary (UHIC) gun ships; 5th Air Command Squadron (C-47 Flare and gun ships); Tay Ninh Artillery B Battery 2/32 Artillery.

  79. Toni Wolff Says:

    I currently work for the Network Enterprise Center (NEC) at Ft Riley, KS. In Jan 2012 the NEC was given the opportunity to expand our offices and take on the responsibility of bldg. 200, Patton Hall, a conference room on each floor was going to be named in honor of a KIA soldier, the criteria of choice was the KIA had to be a Big Red One or Signal soldier.

    First floor conference room was named in honor of SPC Ralph Roland Black, killed 13 May 1968 at Nui Ba Den.

    We did as much research as was possible and thru Bob Black at “find-a-grave” site was able to contact some family and get a few pictures of SPC Black. Would like to contact anyone that was there and who might remember SPC Black and possibly get some more information.

    We are thinking of doing a memorial ceremony this year on Tues 13 May, so if possible would like to add maybe letters from those that were there, if you can assist that would be a tremendous help.

    Myself and co-worker Gladdia Towson spent many hours researching and putting together a memorial board and other items for the conference room, it was made even more personal for Gladdia since her military time was spent assigned to C Co 121 Signal BN up till they retired the flag in 2006.

    You can email me at toni.wolff@us.army.mil or toni.wolff@yahoo.com or check out the NEC Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/NECFortRiley?ref=br_tf

  80. Check out the excellent 13 May 68 battle narratives on: https://www.facebook.com/UnlikelyWarriors?fref=photo

    • G. B. Blackburn Says:

      Ivan:

      I left you a note on our Unlikely Warriors Facebook page, but I was afraid you would not see it. Thank you for stopping by our page. It is an honor to have you. When Lonnie and I were doing the research for the attack on the ASA installation at Nui Ba Den 2-3 years ago, it quickly became apparent that we could not pull up any info on the May 13th attack that did not lead us to you, so I will belatedly thank you for collecting this great trove of material. It is an invaluable asset. Thanks also for directing others to our page, and thank you for your service.

      G. B. Blackburn

  81. Warren Hunt Says:

    Although I did not serve on Nui Ba Den, I was an 05B20 for Co A, 121st Signal Bn. (“Alpha Relay”) around the time of the August 1968 attack on the Mountain. During that time I was supporting our forward commo site at Quan Loi. We heard transmissions from a certain radio relay operator at “Granite Romeo Tango” about probes occurring on the perimeter. At one point, we heard they guy say something like “gotta go” and transmissions stopped for some time. When they resumed, we heard some chilling details about casualties and damages.

    Over the months I had done many commo checks and “cover me for zero-five’s” with that same RTO. I don’t remember for sure who it was, but I believe it may have been the SGT “Joe Styes” mentioned above in an email to your blog by Mr. McClure – whose name, by the way, also rings a bell. It seems there was a McClure that spent some time with Co. A in Lai Khe. In any event, my impression was that “SGT Styes” (if it’s the same one we’re talking about) was a very dynamic NCO and signal corpsman who was a hero at Nui Ba Den. The story I remember, and I’m pretty sure it’s about “SGT Styes”, was that after he abruptly signed off, he grabbed his rifle and ran out of the radio shack toward his fighting position. He apparently was immediately confronted by a dink with a satchel charge, whom he proceeded to shoot, detonating the charge. I believe someone said that he had to be medevacked.

    Perhaps you can help me confirm the identity of this fellow, and the fuzzy details I have cited (perhaps I am thinking of someone else). In any case, the guy I’m recalling was obviously a seasoned veteran who had a reassuring, professional presence on the net.

    Thank you again for your detailed report on the massacres at Nui Ba Den. I remember hearing upon my arrival in the unit about SPC Makuh and SPC Black being killed on the Mountain on in May, a short time before I arrived in Vietnam. It has all helped me to gain some perspective on what happened and what it all meant.

  82. Warren Hunt Says:

    And thank you, Ivan, for your dedicated service as a combat medic in VN.

    WH

  83. Gary Iverson Says:

    I was attached to the 5th SF/125th Sig at Tay Ninh City B32 compound the last couple of months in ’68 from the White Platoon, 587th Sig Co in Dau Tieng, before getting transferred up to Nui Ba Den in January where I stayed for 4 months until my hitch was up in May. What I remember about NBD was a lot of time on bunkers 7, 8 & 9, reversed claymores in the morning, free fire at night, green tracers, red tracers, flares, sand bagging, carrying sandbags uphill, stacking sandbags, shit burning detail, a great view during the day, watching the B-25 bombing runs at night, this guy had a monkey that would jump me…that I hated, the radio rack in the radio room. I was patched into the radio with my old platoon in Dau Tieng during the night they got overrun in Feb. two of my buddy’s were killed there that night. I remember meeting in the supply hut at night for a pow wow, the large rats, the guys in the mortar squad, the guys with the 5th SF, the heli pad where I would catch a hop down to Tay Ninh once a week or so for a shower. Charlie always had the advantage up there but we never got overrun while I was there. I’m proud I was able to serve with a great bunch of guys. I enjoyed my time on the mountain.

  84. Wade Wall Says:

    I found this site by accident, looking at after action reports. My name is Wade Wall, I was with the 588th Engineer Bn. After operation Yellowstone, I volunteered to go up the mountain, TDY for 90 days. I got there in January 1968 and left March 1968. I wish I could remember names, so many great guys. I do remember Mike Mullin also with the 588th, he was on guard at the helipad during the attack, I spoke with him when he got back to the unit. He didn’t have much information about the guys that we were with. My memories include the S*** Barrel detail, cold windy weather with lots of fog. Rumors of a tiger roaming around at night. I spent time with a Sgt Pritchett on CQ. We did a lot of blasting over by the cave and maintenance on the damn reservoir. One guy in the 25th liked to play games with newbee’s,he had a dud grenade that he fumbled the pin out of when a new guy was in the bunker. Three of us were swinging on a vine on the NE side of the parimeter, it broke of course and I fell about 10-12 feet out into a thicket. I lived in a bunker on the south side maybe 10 or 11. I remember watching Saigon burn during Tet 1968, but we didn’t seem to worry, we felt safe. I came back in June or July 1968, we were building new quarters. There were a lot more infantry on top by then and much more security, we repelled one probe during that time. I came back to Viet Nam in September 1969 and eventually served with the 919th Engineers, 11th Armored Calvary. We operated around Nui Ba Din, it always seemed to be in the back ground. Thank you for putting this all down.

    • Welcome home Wade. Good to hear from you.

      Ivan Katzenmeier

      • chuck payne Says:

        I was there that night on the grenade incident–call in a medivac chopper -with clouds & night time the chopper couldnt get in & was taking rounds– he said stop shooting –it wasn’t us–the Capt looked around & no one had a weapon he yelled at someone to go get one– the chopper didn’t get there till next morning I think the 3 of them died…I was with David DeJeus –we were 588th HHC commo up there—welcome home Wade

  85. chuck payne Says:

    by the way– Wade– on Facebook there is a site–“588th Combat engineer Battalion” you might check out…My email addy bigchuk@live.com

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