A COMBAT MEDIC’S VIETNAM EXPERIENCE

JOURNEY TO VIETNAM 31 May 68 Oakland, Ca. Joe Ciacio and Ivan Katzenmeier – Oakland

- awaiting transport to Viet Nam

- We are leaving at 5:30 on Flight F239.


Flying Tiger Airlines will fly us to Viet Nam via Fairbanks, Alaska and Japan.

We will land in Bien Hoa, Viet Nam.

PHOTO AS WE FLY BY MOUNT FUJI JAPAN

I June 68

4:00 pm

This country is really scarred by war.  As we prepare to land, I see fields below.  Each field has at least a half dozen bomb craters in it.  It really looks like a war zone.

Bien Hoa – I arrive at the 90th Replacement Company.

Bien Hoa is 22 miles NE of Saigon.

MAP OF BIEN HOA AREA

2 June 68

Cu Chi – I was at Bien Hoa overnight and then I fly to Cu Chi Replacement Company for the 25th Infantry Division.

We are northwest of Saigon at Cu Chi.

It is hot, damp, muddy, and rainy over here.

The kids are thick as flies.

The Army buildings are very temporary wooden structures.

Water for drinking and especially bathing is hard to find.

I shaved this morning by standing in the rain.  It was the only source of water available.

I will receive 5 days RVN (Republic of Vietnam) training here at Cu Chi and then ship out on 10 June.

I expect to be assigned to a mechanized unit.

The living conditions are not good.

Every day there is a down pour of rain.  My clothing is always damp.

There is very little drinking water and no hot water at all.

The ground is always muddy.  The sidewalks are wooden.

The barracks look like they were built out of giant wooden Venetian blinds.  This permits the air to circulate through the walls.

There are bunkers right outside the barracks for shelter during enemy rocket attacks.

It has been six days since the last attack.

4 June 68

Cu Chi – Tomorrow I start 5 days of RVN  (Republic of Vietnam)  training.

After completion, I will be sent to an infantry unit.

Last night, we were mortared, here at Cu Chi, at 1 AM and 3 AM.


Each time we went into our bunkers until the ‘All Clear’ was given.

The Viet Cong were shelling the air strip’s heliports which are on both sides of the Replacement Company.

6 June 68 Cu Chi – We started our second day of RVN training.  We were shown Viet Cong booby traps and  dud rounds (bombs that did not explode on impact).

We haven’t been mortared for two days now.

Today we go through tear gas training.

I am sorry to hear  Robert Kennedy was shot.

8 PM I heard Robert Kennedy died.  I don’t understand why people have to kill.

See: http://www.robertfkennedy.net/

7 June 68

Cu Chi – I was issued a rife today and fired it at the rifle range. It is raining right now and I am lying on my cot in Hootch #9, listening to the rain hit the tin roof.  We call our barracks, ‘hootchs.’

It started raining about 6 PM while we were in an outdoor class.

The classes are held in the middle of a rubber tree plantation, among the trees.  I am soaking wet right now.

8 June 68

Cu Chi -There are no weekends over here.  Tomorrow is Sunday and it is my last day of RVN training.

Today we fired BB guns in a quick kill exercise. We are being trained on carrying out search and destroy missions and ambush patrols.

Monday I go to Dau Tieng.

10 June 68

Dau Tieng looks better than Cu Chi.

Morale is high and everyone feels reasonably safe here.

On the horizon I can see Nui Ba Den, The Black Virgin mountain.

This area has the largest rubber plantations in the world.

It is also a major silk producing area.

The natives wear black silk pajamas for every day dress.

Dau Tieng has a ‘MARS’ station, PX, library, and an Enlisted Men’s Club.

See photo below of the  Enlisted Men’s Club.

11 June 68

Dau Tieng – I am presently working in a clinic called a Battalion Aid Station, Head Quarters, Head Quarters Company 3/22nd, 25th Infantry Division (HHC, 3/22, 25th ID) which serves 4 infantry companies (Alpha ,Bravo, Charlie, and Delta).

We treat a lot of skin diseases.  What we can’t handle, we send to the 25th Evacuation Hospital.

Our Battalion Aid Station is made of brick with a tile roof.   It was part of a plantation mansion built by the French.  I would guess our building was servants’ quarters as it is connected to the plantation mansion.  It  is now used to house our officers.

The medics sleep in hootchs.  There are 8 cubicles with two men to a cubicle.  We sleep on cots.  Some have TVs and refrigerators.  All have electricity and lights, which flicker bright to dim.

Tomorrow I have guard duty.  I will carry an M-16 rifle with 14 clips of ammunition (20 rounds per clip).  I will be assigned a building to guard.

Guard duty is  two hours, then off duty four hours, and then on duty for two hours.

Dau Tieng was mortared today, with 3 mortar rounds hitting at 5 PM.  So far most injuries are caused by  running to the bunkers and stubbing toes, rather than injuries caused  by flying metal shrapnel from the exploding mortar rounds.  This is especially true when they hit during the  night hours.

The photo is a mortar pit, with mortar tube.  A mortar is a small rocket with an explosive charge.  It is dropped down the mortar tube, detonates when it hits the bottom, and fires.  When it lands, it detonates again, spraying shrapnel.

There isn’t much work  to do around here but fill sand bags to build more bunkers and entertain ourselves by playing checkers and writing letters during our spare time.

MEDICS’ BUNKER – DAU TIENG

13 June 68 Dau Tieng – I received my first letter from home today.  It took 6 days to arrive.  We can send letters home for free.

Dau Tieng is 100 miles from Saigon and about 30 miles from the Cambodian border.  The Ho Chi Minh Trail ends at Dau Tieng and stretches north through Cambodia into North Viet Nam.  It is the enemy’s main supply route.

The water situation at Dau Tieng is good.  There is plenty of water to drink, and I can shave and shower every day.  Cokes and beer are also in good supply here.

We  receive all our news from the Armed Forces Radio in Saigon.  That is how I heard of Robert Kennedy’s recent assassination.

It is so hot and humid over here, that it doesn’t take long to perspire after showering and then I feel dirty again.

The food isn’t always prepared very well.  A lot of grease is used in food preparation.  But so far I have survived.

The Vietnamese civilian women, mamasans, are hired to help in the kitchen, so there is no KP for us.

There is a lot of teasing of the women to make them laugh.  If they are mad at you, you are ‘Number 10,’ and if they like you, you are ‘Number one.’

14 June 68 Dau Tieng – We lost another medic, James Loyd Lawrence Jr.  He was with his infantry platoon (Delta Company, 3/22nd, 25th Infantry Division) on patrol, when his squad leader was hit by enemy fire.  He rushed forward through intense enemy fire and was shot and killed.  His squad leader was already dead.  This happened day before yesterday.  It was only this medics sixth day in the field.

See: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=17683626

See:  http://www.virtualwall.org/dl/LawrenceJL02a.htm

16 June 68

Dau Tieng – The mortar attack I reported on 11 June was not from the enemy.  They were from our own artillery!

We laid Constantina wire today, around the perimeter of this base camp.  It was hard work.

It is raining this evening.  A gentle, cooling rain, not like the down pours at Cu Chi.

The medics are having a barbecue with ice cold cokes, beer and chicken.

The area around Dau Tieng is mostly level with the Black Virgin Mountain being about 8 miles away.

There are rubber tree plantations and rice paddies in the area.
It thunders and lightnings when it storms, but it thunders more from the artillery firing constantly on suspected enemy positions.

Sgt.  Penneck is our platoon sergeant.  He is a nice person to work for.  He has requested 10 new medics, who should arrive in 2 weeks.

17 June 68 Dau Tieng – Today I was on latrine duty AKA ’shit’ burning detail.

Fifty five gallon drums are cut in half and used as containers to catch human wastes in the latrines.

The medics are assigned the responsibility of pulling the containers out of the latrines, pouring diesel fuel in the containers and lighting the wastes and watch it burn.

It is not glamorous duty to say the least.  It takes about two hours.

I also filled sand bags for a couple of hours and the Sgt. told me to take a break.  So I went to the air conditioned base library to read and write letters home.

Nearly all our medics have been wounded.  Out of eleven I know only one or two haven’t been hit.
Things are getting worse.  The enemy is now armed with automatic weapons, Chinese AK 47s and our M-16s!

A year ago they were using single shot German and Chinese rifles.

18 June 68 Dau Tieng – I will go to the field (forward combat location)  tomorrow.  I am replacing an infantry  medic who was wounded and will be hospitalized about 10 days.

I fly to Ton Son Nhut Airbase near Saigon, tomorrow and locate the Battalion Surgeon.  He will assign me to an infantry  unit.

20 June 68 Dau Tieng. 7 AM – No mail today.  The convoys can’t get through the enemy controlled highways.

An enemy attack was expected last night, but nothing happened.  A battalion of Viet Cong are near Cu Chi.  And a battalion of the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) were on both sides of Dau Tieng last night.

We are mortared by the enemy every day now, around noon, midnight and 4 AM.

20 June 68 Ton Son Nhut – I arrived in Saigon today.

I am living in a tent. we have half a tent where we hold sick call.  Since I don’t have a military drivers license, I can’t take patients to the hospital.

I think the Battalion Surgeon, Ira Mersack, M.D. will be sending me back to Dau Tieng and ask them to send him someone with a driver’s license.

21 June 69 Dan Tieng – I flew back to Dau Tieng from Saigon today.

Tomorrow I will fly back to Saigon to replace a medic that has been in the field 8 months.  He should have been replaced at 6 months.

We were mortared last night at Ton Son Nhut, but no one was hurt.

Here at Dau Tieng last night a soldier tried to ‘frag’ his commanding officer by throwing a half dozen grenades at his barracks.  The officer wasn’t in his barracks, so wasn’t hurt.  The soldier will be taken to LBJ,’ the Long Binh Jail.  There are a lot of guys refusing to fight, but of course it doesn’t make the news.

25 June 68 Saigon Area – I am assigned to an infantry platoon as a front line medic.  Last night we went out on ambush patrol on the Saigon River.

About 8:30 PM, 12 San Pans are seen floating down the river.

After curfew, anyone on the river is an enemy.  Our platoon  fires automatic weapons at them, killing 20 Viet Cong.  No one in my platoon was hurt.

We go out every day on patrols and have guard duty at night.  Every third day our platoon goes out at night on ambush patrol.  Then we get the next day off. The area around here is flat and tropical.  There are banana and coconut plantations in the area.  It is also very swampy.

27 June 68 Ten miles north of Saigon – We sleep on the ground at night, and are brought hot meals by helicopter once a day.  The other two meals are C rations.  The hot meals are very good.

We have not encountered the enemy in the last 2 days.

The area around here is a tropical orchard of banana trees, coconut, rubber trees, grape fruit, pineapple and rice paddies.


Canals are every where.  They connect with the Saigon River.

Natives swarm around our campsites selling us beer, coke and bread.

I treated two little boys, babysans, who had stubbed their toes.  They pointed to their bloody toes and said, ‘number 10!’ No one in my 20 man platoon has been wounded.  I treat them for skin diseases, headaches, colds and upset stomachs.

I haven’t bathed or changed my clothes since 23 June, and might not for another month.

When on patrol, I am in the middle of the formation, with the platoon sergeant and his radio operator.

I don’t carry an aid bag, but rather carry all my medical supplies in a Claymore mine bag.  I don’t want to look like a medic.  I am told the enemy shoots medics first, so I try to look like a ‘grunt,’ (infantryman).

28 June 68 Saigon Area – Today on patrol we walked through rice paddies looking for the enemy and found none. Papasan and his family followed us today, which was a good sign, because they know when it is safe and Viet Cong aren’t around.

Papasan carries a block of ice on his shoulder and mamasan and the babysans carry the coke and beer to sell us.

Papasan spins a can of coke on the block of ice to cool it and then sells it to us for 40 cents a can.

When walking in the rice paddies, we try to stay out of the water by walking on the narrow dikes that form borders of each rice field.

30 June 68 Saigon Area – I was on ambush patrol (AP) last night.  My clothes are  wet from wading through canals.  Mosquitoes bit my ears.  I am miserable. On yesterdays patrol, the mud was knee deep in places.  The canals are full of water and I fell in several times.

Most canals that are 4 feet across or less can be jumped.  Some canals are even narrower and are covered with grass, but are still waist deep.

The large canals are formed by earthen dykes and have numerous Viet Cong bunkers built into them.  I saw one yesterday that had two dead enemy in them.  They had been killed by air strikes several days before.

The bodies smelled of the stench of death.

We also crossed several sugar cane fields.  It rained on us yesterday morning. When we find bombed out houses, we stay in them when we can during ambush patrols at night.  Sometimes we find Vietnamese money or other ‘souvenirs’ in them.

The scout dog in the above photo leads the way, when we are walking  through thick vegetation.

Today is our day off.

We are getting about every other day off now.

We go out on a search and destroy mission during the day, set up an ambush patrol at night and then return to a field base camp the next morning.

1 July 68 Saigon Area – We have ambush patrol tonight. we waded across numerous canals and ditches today.  It is exhausting trying to leap over them and not always making it.

Sometimes we are wading through ankle deep water and then the bottom drops into a deeper canal about 3 feet deep.

Sometimes fallen branches and limbs form a bridge across the canals, but it takes good balance to walk across them with wet, slippery, muddy boots and carrying a rifle and equipment.

As we walk through the villages, it is common to see small children standing in the doorways with a shirt and no pants.

I can count the ribs of the children, they are so thin.  The children beg us for cans of C rations.

http://katzenmeier.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/viet-nam149.jpg

3 July 68 Ton Son Nhut – We moved to a different camp site.  It isn’t the best. Viet Cong had just been in the area.  We found the remains of their dinner, a fish they were preparing to eat.

I am now at the Battalion Aid Station in Ton Son Nhut as a patient.  I had fever, chills and dysentery all day yesterday. MEDICS ROBERT ROSS “DOC” DEWBERRY (kneeling) & IVAN “DOC” KATZENMEIER (patient)

4 July 68 Ton Son Nhut – The Dr. says I am well enough to go back to the field. Dau Tieng was attacked last night with mortars and a couple of enemy made it through the wire and into base camp.  There were a few casualties.  I am glad I wasn’t there.

5 July 68 Dau Tieng – We were taken out of the field today by helicopter and flown to Dau Tieng Base camp.  I have been assigned to Company B, Bravo Company.

Note:

Spec 4 Oliver Stone, Bravo Company, later in life created a movie reflecting his war experiences.    He made three films about Vietnam, Platoon (1986), Born on the Fourth of July (1989), and Heaven & Earth (1993).  Stone served with Bravo Company and  the 3/4 Cav in Vietnam, from April 1967 to November 1968.

Robert Hemphill (LTC ,Retired), former Bravo Company commander published his side of the story in his book  ‘Platoon Bravo Company.

Hemphill commanded B/3/22 in the Tropic Lightning 25th Infantry Division from 1 October 1967 through 18 Feburary 1968. During this time Bravo Company fought sharp battles with the Viet-Cong along the Cambodian border until the 1968 Tet offensive where they fought around Cu Chi.

I now have my own GI bed and GI mattress!  I really appreciate it after being in the field for a month.

Last night Dau Tieng was attacked.  The enemy fired 350 mortar rounds and 122 mm rockets at us.

There were 6 Viet Cong with satchel charges of explosives tied to them.

They came through the wire around the base camp perimeter and got inside of the base camp before they were killed.

Five of our soldiers were killed and 70 were wounded. That is why they pulled Bravo Company in from the field.  We are to guard the base camp.

Vol 3 No. 31          TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS          July 29, 1968

July 4th Attack Repulsed (By SP4 BILL SLUIS)

3D BDE - More than 400 enemy rocket and mortar rounds and a pair of pre-dawn ground attacks by two reinforced Viet Cong companies were repelled by 3d Brigade, 25th Infantry Division soldiers on the 4th of July.
The attack, largest sustained in the two-year history of Dau Tieng base camp, was broken by gunships and infantry.  At least 10 enemy soldiers were left dead on the perimeter of the camp.
The attack began shortly before 2:30 a.m. as salvo after salvo of mortar fire struck all corners of the base camp.
Miraculously, no one was killed as an official total of 374 mortars, eight 107mm rockets, and 25 RPG rocket rounds slammed around infantrymen who were huddled in defensive bunkers.
Striking from both sides of the perimeter north of the airfield, the Viet Cong, arrayed in suicide squads, attempted a ground wave pincer movement which hit night defensive positions of the 2d Battalion, 77th Artillery, and the 3d Battalion, 22d Infantry.
Several artillery bunkers were damaged as the enemy suicide squad, hitting the west side of the camp, struck with RPG rocket rounds and satchel charges.  At least seven VC broke inside the perimeter before the attack was halted.
On the east side of the camp, a larger Viet Cong force emerged from behind tombstones in a cemetery but were cut down in a welter of machine gun and duster fire.  Two VC planted themselves near the end of the runway and tossed pressure-released satchel charges onto the east end of the airstrip.
As gunships scrambled and shattered the air with a deafening roar of fire, the ground wave attacks were completely disrupted.  By the light of flares, enemy soldiers were seen to toss their weapons to the ground and run for the protective cover of nearby woods.

Before dawn, an AC-47 “Puff the Magic Dragon” aircraft began circling the base camp, dropping flares and adding further firepower to the assault on the retreating enemy.  Artillery fire and more gunship raids also rained down on the attackers.
A preliminary search of the perimeter the following morning recovered, in addition to the enemy bodies, 434 home-made satchel charges, three bangalore torpedoes, a dozen RPG-7 rocket rounds, 49 RPG-2 rounds, 45 60mm mortar rounds, one RPG-2 launcher, numerous hand grenades and six AK-47 assault rifles.
Blood trails leading away from the base camp indicated additional enemy deaths which could not be positively confirmed.  American casualties numbered five dead, all in defense of the west perimeter, and 53 injured, 18 of whom required hospitalization.

BRAVO COMPANY ASSIGNMENT

I am assigned to the 3rd Platoon of Bravo Company.

We have a good Sergeant.  Some of the guys are using ‘pot’ which is a concern.  Especially when they fall asleep on guard duty!

I    took my first shower today in a week and a half.

10 July 68 We are in Cu Chi base camp for 5 days.

During the day we stay in base camp and at night we go out with the 3/4 Cavalry (mechanized armored vehicles).

We ride on their Armored Personnel Carriers (APCS) and tanks and guard the roads (road security).

When we come to a village, we get off the vehicles and walk through the village.  Sometimes the yards are booby trapped.  Earlier this morning one of our men received a bullet wound in the leg.

Yesterday a soldier was accidently shot by a 50 caliber machine gun through the stomach.  A dressing was put on him and he was sent to the hospital.

A lot of soldiers are shot by accident.

11 July 68 Cu Chi – We went out again last night.  I slept on top of an armored personnel vehicle all night.

No mail since I left Dau Tieng.

CHARLIE COMPANY ASSIGNMENT

12 July 68 Cu Chi – I am at the airport waiting on a flight to Dan Tieng.  A medic arrived this morning to take my place in Bravo Company.

I    am assigned to be Charlie Company’s Sr.  Medic in Dau Tieng.

Last night we were on ambush patrol waiting in a ditch outside of a village keeping watch for any Viet Cong that might be in moving in the area.

The natives act like the war is ours and not theirs, and maybe it is!

13 July 68 Dau Tieng – Charlie Company is to come in tomorrow.  Our platoon Sgt says he talked to the Commander of Charlie Company and gave me a big ‘build up.’ He told the Captain of Charlie Company that I was the best man they had!  I am eager to be their Sr.  Medic.

14 July 68 Dau Tieng – Dr. Ira Mersack is our Battalion Surgeon.  He talked to me today and complimented me on my abilities.  It made me really feel appreciated.

17 July 68 Dau Tieng – The last 3 days I have been with Charlie Company in the rubber plantations near Dau Tieng.  It is easy walking through the rubber trees.  They are tall and their lowest branches are well above are heads.

We also went through some jungle.  It was slow moving due to the vines entangled throughout.  We had a German shepherd scout dog with us to alert us of any enemy.

On our last day in the rubber plantation we had ‘Boom Boom’ (prostitutes) follow us several times to sell themselves along with beer and soda.  It is a sign there are no enemy in the area.
Just before the trucks picked us up to bring us back to Dau Tieng, we saw a half dozen of them coming toward us on motor bikes.

CHURCH ON THE FRONT LINE
We have church in the field too.  The chaplain comes out in the middle of us as we form a semi-circle.  He reads a prayer, gives a short sermon, we sing a hymn, say the Lord’s Prayer and if it is the first of the month we have communion.

Part of my duties as Sr. Medic is to fill out the paperwork for Purple hearts.  I have about 20 to complete.

CAPTAIN HANSARD

Charlie Company is getting a new Captain, Captain Hansard.

Everyone wonders how we will like him.

This is his second tour in Viet Nam, so he is experienced.

CHARLIE COMPANY CAPTURES VIET CONG SUSPECT

20 July 68 Dau Tieng – Charlie Company spent 3 days and 2 nights in the rubber plantation near here.

This morning we captured a Viet Cong suspect.

He had no ID and only wore a pair of dark green shorts. He only carried a plastic bag containing tobacco and cigarette papers. His story Is that he was swimming last night and was captured and released by the Viet Cong.

Later he began telling more about VC activity in the area. An interpreter with us to interrogated him.

Yesterday we had an exhausting walk through the rubber trees.  Some of the soldiers became sick from the heat and lack of water. I have never before felt so thirsty.

A helicopter finally brought us water.  After a rest, some water and C rations I am ready to go again.

ARTWORK BY SP4 JIM D.NELSON

23 July 68 Dau Tieng -

We stayed in villages during the last two days, denying the Viet Cong access.

We killed 3 Viet Cong.

There are areas in the rubber trees with tall weeds and the wind doesn’t blow.  It is hot and we usually have one heat casualty a day.

It is hard to carry enough water plus the rifle and equipment.

Yesterday we walked about 7 kilometers or 5 miles.
We have fought the enemy every day we have been out this past week.

CHARLIE COMPANY AMBUSHES  VIET CONG SUPPLY TRAIN

27 July 68 Dau Tieng – Last night we set up an ambush patrol.  A Viet Cong supply train came through our camp site and we opened fire on them.  First we set off the claymore mines and then opened fire with automatic weapons.

Three Viet Cong were killed and one was captured. The rest of the Viet Cong company escaped, dragging their dead and wounded behind them in the night.  We also captured 12 oxen and ox carts full of rice, powdered Pet Milk, peanuts, salt and peas.

All of the enemy supplies were in sacks stamped ‘US.’

None of Charlie Company were hurt. We have run into Viet Cong every day and night this week.

28 July 68 Tay Ninh Area – We are near the Black Virgin Mountain by Tay Ninh.

Last night we had hard rains.  The monsoons are finally here.

We are camped in a young rubber tree plantation.  The trees are 15 to 18 feet height and 2 to 6 inches in diameter.

I slept on a piece of card board from a C ration box with my poncho stretched over me tied between two small rubber trees to form a tent.

The crops in this area are rice and a type of potato.  The roots look like sweet potatoes and the stems are tall with leaves on top.

30 July 68 Tay Ninh – We have been going out into the jungle the last two days.  We have seen no Viet Cong, which is good.

Helicopters fly us out (eagle flights).  I ride with the CP (Command Post) group, which is Captain Hansard, his 2 RTOs (Radio Telephone Operators and FO (Forward Artillery Observer).

We also have two Vietnamese with Charlie   Company.  One is an ARVN (Army of the Republic of Viet Nam) interpreter   and a Kit Carson Scout.  A Kit Carson Scout is a Viet Cong defector who   assists us in finding Viet Cong.

31 July 68 Tay Ninh Area – We are searching the base of the Black Virgin Mountain for the base camp of 3 regiments of Viet Cong.  Artillery prepares the area by shelling and bombers drop their bombs on the jungle before we go in.  Then we walk about 2 miles into the jungle.  It is hard going.

Animal Traps in the Jungle
1 August 68 Tay Ninh Area – Today we followed trails through the jungle.  It was easy walking.  There were animal traps made out of limbs built into a brush fence. Animals were caught in the traps as they passed through them to cross the fence line which was about two feet high and a mile long.

It was probably constructed by the Viet Cong to catch wild animals for food.

2 August 68 Tay Ninh Area – More walking through the jungle looking for the enemy.   We didn’t walk far.

I found some propaganda leaflets. Some have flags on them. They are supposed to provide safe passage for the enemy, if they surrender to us.

The C rations are good, or at least I am learning to like them.  The canned fruit is good with the canned pound cake.
We use blue heat tabs to heat the canned food.  So we can have a hot meal three times a day, if we want to.

In the evening we are brought hot prepared food by helicopter. Today we had veal, baked potatoes, lettuce and tomato salad and two cans of Pepsi.  Yesterday we had the same plus milk.

It rained on us just as the helicopters picked us up from the jungle.

I have 300 days to go over here.

3 August 68 Tay Ninh Area – Today is Saturday  and I attended church.  We stayed in camp today to rest.  I received two letters from home.

5 August 68 Tay Ninh Area – We have really been busy.   We walked 10 miles yesterday.

Today we walked through rice paddies and swampy jungle. They flew us into one area by helicopter, picked us up and flew us to another area and we were done by noon.

6 August 68 Tay Ninh Area – Today is my 2nd wedding anniversary.
We were ready to go out on a ’sweep’ today and then it was called off.

Last night Alpha and Delta Companies were out on a patrol and they ran into Viet Cong.  Two of our men were killed and 6 wounded.

PHOTO BY SP5 GORDAN GAHAN

Dau Tieng was attacked with mortars last night

Shamming
More of the men are claiming injuries or failing to care for their feet, in order to avoid going out on patrols.  Faking injuries is called ’shamming.’

It is my job to determine who has a valid injury and who is ’shamming.’  Sometimes when I tell them they are OK and can go out on patrol, they complain up through their chain of command.  So far my decisions have been upheld.

Sometimes I am not too popular, but it isn’t fair to the rest of the men who go out, if I would allow some to ‘sham.’

Most GIs don’t ‘sham’ but for some it is their way to try to protect themselves and survive this war.  This is every one’s goal.

Viet Cong Surprised by Charlie Company

9 August 68 Dau Tieng – We were pulled out of the Tay Ninh area about August 6th and put into the rubber plantations around Dau Tieng.  I haven’t had time to write.  Now we are being flown by helicopter to the Tay Ninh area.

Today we surprised 3 Viet Cong dressed in black building a dike.  It was in an open, grassy field and we were about .25 miles from them.  They didn’t notice us until Captain Hansard and his interpreters were about 100 yards from them.

The three Vietnamese men made a dash for the jungle and we began firing at them.

One Viet Cong paused, reached for his back, as if he had been shot, and then continued running.  At the edge of the jungle they grabbed their weapons and began firing back at us. Our Forward Artillery Observer (FO) began calling in artillery rounds on them and we followed them. We found their house and what they left behind.

I picked up a rice paddy hoe which had been dented by bullet.

I also picked up a small bottle with Chinese writing on it.

They left their ‘home’ with their dinner on the fire. A wrist watch, radio and $165.00 in U.N. currency was also found.

We are sure one of the enemy was hit in the back but they all got away.

When the shooting began, I hit the ground, with my steel helmet pushing against the back of my neck, it also covered my eyes every time I raised my head.  I realized for the first time it is difficult to belly crawl with a helmet on.

I also saw a punji pit, a big hole in the ground, covered over with grass, with sharp bamboo stake in the center of the hole.  The idea is for the someone to stumble into the pit and fall on the stake.

Fortunately the Kit Carson Scout that was with me pointed out the punji pit before I stepped into it.

10 August 68 Tay Ninh – Last night we were flown out here into a plowed field.

The 3/4 Calvary (mechanized unit) is camped with us.
I was so tired when we left Dau Tieng I unintentionally left some of my equipment there.

It is raining tonight and I am writing this letter with the help of a flashlight.

The So. Vietnamese aren’t helping us in this war, when given a chance.  Their heart isn’t in it.

We stayed at the campsite today, building fighting bunkers. I attended church today and had communion.

11 August 68 Tay Ninh Area – I can’t wait for August to pass and all the other months.  I am feeling well, but tired.

I am looking forward to getting out of Viet Nam and the Army. I will appreciate everything so much more when I get out.  The only good moments over here are eating and sleeping and sometimes they aren’t too much fun.

It is still bearable over here as long as I don’t see any more fighting than I have already. I hope to be taken out of the field soon, although I am confident I could make it for 4-5 more months if I had to.

We didn’t walk much today.  Instead we rode on the 3/4 Cavalry’s armored vehicles.  We only saw some farmers.  We rode right up to the base of the Black Virgin mountain.

12 August 68 Tay Ninh Area- Today is my day off.  I dug a latrine.  It was 5 feet by 3 feet, by 4.5 feet deep.  We hit water!

Charlie Company Guards Dau Tieng Base Camp 13 August 68 Dau Tieng – Yesterday at 1:45 PM we were notified we were flying back to Dau Tieng and by 3 PM we were in the air and on our way.  That’s how fast things change over here.

We are to be here in Dau Tieng a week or more, guarding this  base camp.  Everyone is happy to be in from the field.  It is so nice to be able to take a shower.

I located the equipment I left here and it is alright.

Our Battalion Surgeon, Dr. Mersack, leaves Sept 1st, so will be getting a new one.

Combat Fatigue
The other day we were following an oxcart trail into the  jungle.  We were fully expecting to be ambushed by the Viet Cong.   It was about an hour and a half before sundown.

One  of our men who was pulling ‘point’ suddenly went into a  fetal position and began sobbing, biting his fingers and   hiding his head in another soldier’s arms.  I gave the man librium, and tried to comfort him.  A close friend of his was killed in combat and this is the second time he lost  control of his emotions.

A helicopter was called in after  dark and he was flown out.  On his helmet was written ‘ I don’t want to die here, I have too much to go   back to.’

This is how we all feel inside.  We all have our breaking point.  It is just a matter of time when the stress of the  war will take control of our minds and emotions. We went back into the jungle after the helicopter took off.   It was a scary night for us all.

The Command Post

15 August 68 Dau Tieng – I am in the Command Bunker right now on radio watch for 2 hours.  It is 3 AM.  I have to keep in contact with the platoons who are guarding the perimeter of the base camp.  I ask them for a ‘Sit Rep’ (situation report) every 15 minutes.  They usually respond ‘negative sit rep.’  If they would see enemy movement then they would report that also.

Our company is manning 30  bunkers and will be doing this for a month.

This command bunker I am in has a large fan, TV, radio, cot with mattress, and wooden walls.  It is about 6 feet underground.  I am operating a field radio and a land line switch board.

I am in good spirits.  There isn’t too much enemy activity.

It rains everyday now.  The enemy uses this rainy season to move and store supplies for the next big offensive around the first of the year, when the dry season starts.  They tend to avoid contact until the dry season and then hit us with everything they have.

I hope to be out of the field by then.

17 August 68 Dau Tieng – I am still with Charlie Company. Last night we were mortared at 4 AM.

My duty is easy right now.  The medics are responsible for the latrines – burning the human wastes.

Usually I can get a detail of 3 men to help plus one of my medics.  Then I am free to do as I please until it is time to pull radio watch.

This evening I have radio watch from 6 – 8 PM, so I will get a full nights sleep unless we are attacked.

It has been raining tonight since 5:30 PM and it is now 9:00 PM.
Rumor has it that an enemy attack is planned for tonight. An informer has told our command that the enemy will attack us with 2000 men.

19 August 68 Dau Tieng – No attack.  The informer was misinformed.  We have been mortared several times, but that is all.

The mechanized unit ran into 1000 uniformed North Vietnemese Army in the rubber plantation by Ben Cui, near here.  They had quite a battle.
The fire support base at the bottom of the Black Virgin Mountain was attacked, and I heard our base camp on top the mountain was wiped out Saturday night by the enemy.

I was at the fire support base at the base of the mountain right before we were pulled into this base camp.

This is the beginning of the third enemy offensive that was predicted.

Dau Tieng Cut Off by the Enemy

Convoys can’t get through to us, so our supplies are being flown in.

20    August 68 Dau Tieng – Last night the Mechanized unit had 5 men killed and 50 wounded in the rubber plantation by the North Vietnemese Army (NVA).  The NVA will be trying to overrun Dau Tieng soon.

Last night was scary.  We heard lights of an enemy truck convoy was spotted North of here heading our way.

But nothing happened.

Our artillery and air strikes completely destroyed two suspected enemy villages last night.  They were near Ben Cui in the rubber trees.  We have been in the area many times.

We were mortared at 5:30 PM today.

Our First Sergeant was born in Mankato/ Kansas and lives in Missouri.  He is a nice guy.


21August 68 Dau Tieng – The enemy mortars hit us again today at Noon and 5:00 PM.

The situation is not good outside of the base camp.  The rubber tree plantations are full of the enemy NVA.  Yesterday 180 – 200 enemy were killed with 15 GIs killed.  None from Charlie Company.

ARTWORK BY SP4 JIM D NELSON

22   August 68 – Two more infantry companies flew in today to help us defend the base.   Also some artillery pieces were flown in.

There is a constant pop pop from the big guns. 

At times the ground vibrates from air strikes.

Charlie Company Becomes Viet Cong Bait Charlie Company Becomes Viet Cong Bait

23    August 68 Tay Ninh – We moved out of Dau Tieng today and are now at the base of the Black Virgin Mountain, where we were 10 days ago.

ARTWORK BY SP4 HARVEY W OLSEN III

We are bait for the enemy to attack.
Things are bad.  I expect to see my first real battle tonight.  I can’t wait until we are in a secure area again.

23 August 68 5:00 PM – We returned from a sweep of the area and saw many dead bodies of NVA.  I picked up an enemy canteen and military belt.

25    August 68 – Things are going fine for us.  No attacks on this fire support base, although one is expected.

I saw a lot of dead enemy lying around the perimeter of the fire support base yesterday. They use bulldozers to bury the bodies.

We are surrounded by enemy foxholes.  I hope they are filled in.

We are to be picked up by helicopter today and go somewhere. We walked a lot yesterday, but probably won’t walk much today.

Charlie Company Assaults the Enemy
26    August 68 Tay Ninh – Yesterday was one of the worst days so far.  We were carried by helicopter to the jungle.  We were walking through water most of the time.
At 1:00 PM we were notified a convoy had been ambushed between Go Da Hau and Tay Ninh, near a village called Ap Nhi.  Our assignment was to help them.

We were flown to Tay Ninh, waited an hour and then flown by helicopter to the sight of the ambushed convoy.

EAGLE FLIGHT TO HELL

The Viet Cong had taken the village and our job was to get them out.

A mechanized armored unit was in the area and they led the way into the village.  We followed behind the armored vehicles on foot.

ARTWORK BY SP4 JIM D NELSON

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

The following account is of The Battle of Ap Nhi as told by Ron Leonard, crew chief of a Diamondhead gunship of B Company, 25th Aviation Battalion.

I have edited his account, in order to condense it and eliminate some of the military jargon, to make it more readable for someone without a military background.  I also inserted my account of the battle, based on my first hand participation as a Senior Company Medic for Company C, 3/22nd, 25th Infantry Division.

I am indebted to Mr. Leonard for his excellent research and detailed account of this battle, which has many heroes, including  Medal of Honor recipient, William Seay.

The scene is the little Vietnamese village of Ap Nhi, which stretches along the south side of Main Supply Route 22, for about a mile.

It is a farming community, about half way between Go Dau Ha  and Tay Ninh, a distance of 45 miles.

The Ben Cui Rubber Plantation, known locally as the ‘Little Rubber,’ is near the village.

The weather and poor military planning on the part of our Commanding General,  favored the enemy’s ambush plans.  It was the  rainy season, with poor visibility, and a low ceiling making flying of helicopter gunships dangerous.  There was no available artillery in range of the ambush.

Colonel Duquesne ‘Duke’ Wolf, Commanding Officer of the 1st Brigade, complained bitterly to  Ellis W. Williamson, 25th Infantry Division Commanding General, about the lack of resources to react to an enemy attack.  His warnings to the General proved to be prophetical!

GENERAL ELLIS W. WILLIAMSON – ARTWORK BY SP4 JIM D, NELSON

On the night of 24 August 1968, a reinforced Viet Cong battalion of 5 companies moved into the village, with the intent of ambushing the Tay Ninh supply convoy.

The convoy had 81 trucks of the 48th Transportation Company, made up of Refer Trucks in front, then supply trucks, fuel  trucks, and ammo trucks following.

ARTWORK BY SP4 JIM D. NELSON

The enemy positioned four Viet Cong companies in the trench and rubber trees on the western edge of the ‘Little Rubber’ plantation.  The fifth Viet Cong company occupied fighting positions in the village.

25 August 1968
11:45 AM
As the lead convoy trucks entered Ap Nhi it was misty and raining. The convoy was met by a column Viet Cong dressed as  ARVN (Army of the Republic of South Viet Nam) soldiers marching single file along the north side of the Main Supply Route  adjacent to the Little Rubber plantation.

As the lead trucks exited  the village,  the fuel and ammo trucks, at the convoy’s rear were in the enemy’s ambush kill zone.  The enemy troops opened fire.

The initial shot of the ambush signaled the  beginning of  the assault.  Almost immediately at least one fuel truck at the front of the kill zone was hit and blew up which stalled the remainder of the convoy as it blocked the road and burned.

Thirty-one trucks in front of the fuel tanker truck sped away and escaped, but fifty were caught in the kill zone. Seconds later an ammunition trailer at the rear of the convoy was hit and burning,  cooking off ammunition.

The initial assault, disabling the lead and rear  vehicles, sealed the remaining 51 trucks in place.

In the initial attack, gun jeeps and vehicles with radios, were also disabled.

Almost as soon as the column came to a halt, the enemy charged from the rubber trees. They were firing automatic weapons, throwing grenades, and were supported by machine gun, and rocket propelled grenade (RPG) fire in an attempt to overrun the drivers and take control of the trucks.

From hastily established firing positions, the truckers gallantly returned fire.

Specialist Fourth Class William Seay of the 62nd Transportation Company  was one of those drivers. He had been driving a truck laden with artillery charges.

SPECIALIST 4TH CLASS WILLAM SEAY

When the attack began, he immediately leaped from his truck and took cover behind the left rear dual wheel of his truck.

About 20 feet away Sellman was behind the dual wheels of the trailer.

As two Viet Cong soldiers attempted to charge his truck he shot them with a burst from his M-16.

All along the line the convoy’s drivers held their ground until the attackers had been pushed back to behind the berm.

Within minutes the initial attack had been blunted, but the battle was just beginning. For the next nine hours the Viet Cong attempted to wipe out the small groups of drivers and convoy personnel concentrated along the roadway.

The Americans soon realized that they were not only being subjected to automatic weapons fire from the berm across the road, and the rubber plantation, but from snipers in the treetops as well.

Seay spotted one of the snipers in a tree about 75 meters to his right front. Aiming around the right side of the truck tire, he fired a burst from his M-16, killing the sniper.

Minutes passed, and then a grenade thudded to the ground and rolled under the trailer within a few feet of Sellman, who was well aware that the trailer was loaded with 175mm artillery shells.

Sellman later reported that Seay left his position without hesitation, exposing himself to intense enemy fire in the open ground between the truck and the trailer wheels, picked up the grenade and hurled it back across the road. Four Viet Cong jumped from their cover and tried to run, but they were killed when the grenade exploded.

Minutes later, when another grenade landed close to Seay’s group, Sellman kicked it off the road behind them. No sooner had the dust cleared from that explosion than another grenade rolled under the truck and Seay again retrieved it and threw it back across the road at the attackers.

Just as Seay returned to his cover he and Sellman killed two more Viet Cong trying to crawl through a fence. A few seconds later, an NVA bullet tore through the back of Seays right hand, shattering a bone in his wrist. Yelling that he was hit and for Sellman to cover him, Seay  ran back to his rear looking for someone to help him with his wound.

Positioned in a ditch on the west side of the road, Seay had found a group of six truckers who helped him with his wound. Unable to use his weapon with his right hand, Seay lay down to rest in the roadside ditch while the others moved to better firing positions 15 meters away.

After half an hour Specialist Fourth Class William Hinote brought water to the wounded man and remained with him in the three-foot wide ditch, while both men occasionally fired at enemy positions and awaited the next assault.

Suddenly while Hinote’s back was turned, even after being in mild shock from a loss of blood, Seay fired another burst with his M-16.

Seay had risen to a half-crouch and was firing with his left hand at some Viet Cong trying to cross the road. Hinote turned just in time to see  three of the Viet Cong fall backward over the berm.

No more than five seconds later he turned again and saw Seay himself fall backward, struck in the head by a snipers bullet. The man who had saved the lives of his fellow soldiers at least three times that day died instantly without making a sound.

Some of the trucks were being looted by the enemy. At one point when Viet Cong were crawling all over the trucks, the truckers requested permission to call in artillery and blow the enemy troops off the road. The 25th Division Commander, General Ellis W. Williamson, denied the request.

12:00 Noon
The 1st Brigade learned of the ambush about noon from Company C of the 4th Battalion 23rd Infantry (Mechanized).  This unit had positioned a platoon one kilometer south of the “Little Rubber” plantation, to protect the Main Supply Route .

This under strength mechanized infantry platoon consisting of one officer and ten men along with two Armored Personnel Carriers (Armored Personnel Carrier’s) had sped north when it heard of the ambush.

The platoon charged into the southern end of the ambush site in the plantation and was immediately engaged by a company size enemy force, along the length of a  trench.

They also began receiving fire from the enemy strong point in the farmhouse, now 200 meters to their rear.

Another platoon of Company C located some five kilometers north of the ambush site, sped south and came under heavy rocket and small arms fire from the enemy strong point in the Buddhist temple at the northern end of the ambush.

This under strength force, one officer and fifteen men in four Armored Personnel Carrier’s lacked sufficient combat power to overcome the enemy force firing on them  the Buddhist temple, so they kept the enemy fixed in position by firing on them.

12:20 PM
At approximately 1220 hours, the 1st Brigade Commander, Colonel ‘Duke’ Wolf,  arrived at the ambush site in his  Huey helicopter, “Little Bear.”

Immediately he flew to the aid of  Company C platoon, which was being surrounded by the enemy. With the additional firepower of the M-60 door guns of this helicopter, and the dropping of several cases of tear gas, the enemy fell retreated  from their attack on two Armored Personnel Carriers of the platoon.

12:30 PM
Lacking any immediate standby reaction forces, the 1st Brigade Commander, Colonel ‘Duke’ Wolf, orders Company C of the 3rd Battalion 22nd Infantry, 25th Infantry Division, to fly by helicopter as quickly as possible to the northern end of the ambush.

12:35 PM
Ten Huey helicopters  of the 25th Divisions 116th Aviation Hornets are scrambled for an emergency Combat Assault.

The Company C of the 3rd Battalion 22nd Infantry, 25th Infantry Division troops are  picked up 5 Kilometers north of FSB Buell II and inserted just north of the Buddhist temple at Ap Nhi.

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Charlie Company Assaults the Enemy

Inserted in the middle this  battle narrative by Ron Leonard is my account of the battle as I experienced it.
25    August 68

At 1:00 PM Charlie Company 3/22nd, 25th Infantry Division is ordered to join other assault units engaged in the battle at Ap Nhi.

Our unit is flown by helicopter to Tay Ninh, waits an hour and then flown to the sight of the ambushed convoy.

ARTWORK BY SP4 JIM D. NELSON

We land on a road outside of the village.

A mechanized armored unit leads our assault troops towards the village as we follow on foot.

ARTWORK BY JIM D. NELSON

There are many wounded and the medics are busy treating the wounded. first aid. Our Captain, James B.Hansard, walks in the center of the road with his RTO (radio telephone operator) at his side.

A model of courage, he shows no sign of fear.  He is intent on doing his job and taking care of the men in Charlie Company. I am walking with him, but near the ditch trying to keep a low profile.

Death and Destruction
Bodies of civilians are lying along the road. Parts of their bodies blown away.
The ambushed convoy’s trucks sit on the road, their drivers dead in the cabs.

Bullet holes in the thick metal rims of the trucks, bear witness to the fact that my fragile body is no match for the penetrating power of a machine gun round. The reality of the situation slowly soaks into my mind.  I am in a life and death situation.  I might be the next dead medic!

The tragedy of the situation intensifies as I see villagers, walking and running towards us towards us, screaming and crying in anguish, with children in tow along with a few meager possessions in their hands.  It was the most awful scene I have ever seen. I felt their terror, and knew I could not help them.

A lieutenant and an infantryman come towards me and ask me to treat their head wounds.  They have been hit with shrapnel.  I stopped their bleeding and continued on into the village.

Someone calls, ‘Doc’ over here.  I am close to the village now, and a trooper leads me to his buddy, with a bullet through his neck.  There is little I can do to save him from bleeding to death.  ‘Am I going to be alright Doc?’  ‘Yes,’ I reply, but know deep in my heart, his chances of survival are not good without a surgeon.

He is bleeding and spitting blood.  I start an IV and hope he can be evacuated.

Next a man is hit by a falling tree limb that has been shot off the tree by an enemy rocket propelled grenade (RPG).
Four more wounded come to me for help, I treat them and send them on their way to be evacuated to a med-evac helicopter (dustoff).

An armored vehicle roars up next to me with another wounded soldier. He has been bullet holes through his leg and hand.

I climb aboard the vehicle, an armored personnel carrier, and start treating his wounds.

Dan Orozco, a new medic, is with me now.  I ask the driver to head down the road toward the evacuation area where the wounded can be picked up by helicopter.
We arrive at an ARVN (Army of the Republic of South Viet Nam) compound where I jump off the vehicle and begin treating wounded lying in a ditch.  My supplies of bandages are running out.
A soldier runs up to me and asks me to help a man lying on the ground.  It is obvious from his pale face and shallow breathing he is going into shock. I begin giving CPR.

The enemy begins shooting mortars at us from the tree line.

We moved the man into a ditch to provide a little more protection and continued to give him CPR.  Our goal is to keep him alive until  a helicopter can transport him to a hospital.  Even though we thought he had died several times but we kept up the CPR.
Evacuating  Wounded Under Fire

In an instant, I feel red hot metal shrapnel hit my back, head and elbow, and several loud bangs.

Several enemy mortar rounds have found their targets – us!  They are trying to kill us!

I assess my wounds.  Am I OK? Am I mortally wounded?  My right elbow feels like some has hit my ‘funny bone’ with a hammer.  I have pain in my right forearm.  I am not sure if I need to be bandaged, or how bad I am losing blood.  The wounds seem to be minor and not life threatening, but my right for arm has ulnar nerve damage, causing numbness and pain, making it difficult to use.

I have to get these men to safety.  They are wounded, not able to fight due to their wounds.

Parked near us is an Armored Personnel Carrier. I yell at the  wounded “get on the ‘track.’  No one can help you, you have to get off the ground and climb on the track.  We have to get out of here before more mortar rounds find us.’

The dying man is left in the ditch. We are unable to help him. I climb on the Armored Personnel Carrier with difficulty, as do the others, in response to my urging.

‘Take us to the med-evac,’ I yell at the driver.

My right arm is useless, but with my left arm, I am able fire several short bursts toward the tree line from  my M—16 rifle.

The tree line is far enough away, it is impossible to see the enemy mortar crew.

My rifle jams several times and the track crew hands me another.

The Armored Personnel Carrier has a 50 caliber machine gun mounted on top, but they are unable to fire it, the wounded cover the top of the vehicle.
At the helicopter landing area, we wait for a helicopter to evacuate the wounded.  Although I am wounded I am undecided whether I should evacuate myself or stay and assist the other medics.

I am wounded, in pain and nearly out of supplies.  I also have a new medic with me, and that makes the choice even more difficult. In a few hours it will be night, the clouds are heavy with rain.  The battle is not over, it will go on through the night.

Do I stay and face the terror of battle, certain death for many, wounds for others, lack of supplies, and a cold lonely night in hell of battle, or do I leave for the safety of the hospital?   Those not wounded, have no option but to stay and fight.  I have an option, but with a price!

I leave a new medic on his own, to face the terrors I do not want to face any longer.

12:40 PM
The 1st Brigade commander, Colonel ‘Duke’ Wolf,  receives a radio message from the squadron commander of the 3d Squadron, 4th Armored Cavalry offering to send his Troop B to assist the brigade. The offer is gratefully accepted and Troop B was ordered to speed north along Main Supply Route  22 to reach the southern end of the ambush.

1:05 PM
The Combat Assault troops (Company C, 3/22nd, 25th Infantry Division) is inserted north of the Buddhist temple without incident, but have to fly in at 200-300  feet elevation to be under the cloud cover.

While supervising the Combat Assault troop’s  insertion ‘Little Bear’s crew chief is wounded in the lower leg by small arms ground fire and flown to the 12th Evacuation Hospital in Cu Chi.

1:10 PM
Troop B of 3rd Squadron 4th Cavalry arrive and are ordered to attack and destroy an enemy position in the farmhouse,  200 meters south of the Little Rubber Plantation.

Troop B charges the farmhouse.  The enemy directs heavy rifle and RPG
(Rocket Propelled Grenade)  fire at them.

After a 20-minute intense fire fight the lead platoon and  company commander, reaches the enemy occupied farm house. The company commander and four of his men are killed and eleven others wounded during the assault.

Approximately fifty enemy soldiers run from around the farmhouse and retreat north into the Little Rubber Plantation.

1:30 PM
The 1st Brigade Commander gives orders to the new acting Troop B Commander, who had just replaced his  commanding officer because he had just been killed.  He is to leave the farmhouse’s assault platoon in place, since they had suffered heavy casualties.  The remainder of his troop is to pursue the retreating enemy.

Troop B (less one platoon) pursues the Viet Cong through the Little Rubber Plantation.
After 15 minutes the enemy disappears among the rubber trees.

Next, the 1st Brigade Commander directs this force through the center of  The Little
Rubber Plantation to a position approximately 100 meters to the rear (east) of the Buddhist temple.  They prepare to assault the temple.

In the meantime, the platoon of Company C, 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry (Mechanized)
(consisting of eleven men and two Armored Personnel Carriers), which had been trapped in the extreme southern end of the Little rubber Plantation, has taken advantage of Troop B’s successful route of the enemy and joins up with the assault platoon of Troop B.

2:30 PM
A 155-mm howitzer battery is repositioned from Trang Bang and begins firing in direct support of 1st Brigade units. With this added fire power, the tide of battle begins to turn in our favor.

ARTWORK BY SP4 JIM D. NELSON

CWO Robert Spitler remembers the flying difficulty.

He couldn’t climb up and roll in on a target, due to the low cloud cover.
Flying low and firing flat at a low angle with very little forward air speed is not a good fire angle.  Rockets easily go over the head of the enemy or fall short.

ART WORK BY SSG JULIO C. DIAZ

A steep dive angle from 1500′ is much more accurate. Eventually, they depleted enough fuel and ordinance to hang low over the convoy and fire at point blank range into the tree line.

He was  nearly hovering at some points, as couldn’t afford to lose the time it took to go out and make a full run back in again. They were everywhere.

The helicopter gunships fired  door guns, rockets and miniguns from all sides at the same time, until the ammo ran out.

CWO Robert Spitler remembers the flying difficulty.

He couldn’t climb up and roll in on a target, due to the low cloud cover.
Flying low and firing flat at a low angle with very little forward air speed is not a good fire angle.  Rockets easily go over the head of the enemy or fall short.

A steep dive angle from 1500′ is much more accurate. Eventually, they depleted enough fuel and ordinance to hang low over the convoy and fire at point blank range into the tree line.

He was  nearly hovering at some points, as couldn’t afford to lose the time it took to go out and make a full run back in again. They were everywhere.

The helicopter gunships fired  door guns, rockets and miniguns from all sides at the same time, until the ammo ran out.


3:00 PM
After Company C, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry, had been moved by helicopter into the northern end of the ambush site to reinforce the two platoons of Company C, 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry (Mechanized), the platoons of Troop B, 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry advanced to a position 200 meters to the rear of the Buddhist temple.

The 1st Brigade Commander (from his Huey helicopter)  directed the infantry unit’s fire against the front of the Buddhist temple as Troop B assaulted the rear.

The Troop B platoons advanced in a line, firing all its weapons. When the assault reached the Buddhist temple, over 100 Viet Cong evacuated the temple and retreated southward through the trench in the Little Rubber Plantation.

3:30 PM
At 1530 the 1st Brigade Commander directed a “roll-up” attack operation down the axis of the enemy ambush positions in the village and the Little Rubber Plantation.

Company C, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry moved along the edge of the village, and Troop B platoons moved just inside the Little Rubber Plantation but parallel to the trench.

The enemy began moving southward through the trench in the Little Rubber Plantation while the enemy along the edge of the village also retreated southward through the village.

After advancing approximately 800 meters, the Troop B platoons receive rifle and  and Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) fire from approximately three hundred Viet Cong in a very large trench located 200 meters to their front.

This trench, approximately ten meters wide and two meters deep, ran perpendicular from Main Supply Route  22 in an east-west direction through the center of the Little Rubber Plantation.

4:20 PM
Troop B forces begin to assault the enemy-held trench, but after ten minutes reported that enemy resistance is very strong and that they are unable to move forward without more infantry support.

To bolster the assault on the trench the 1st Brigade Commander directed Company C, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry, to move across Main Supply Route  22 and proceed into the Little Rubber Plantation to join Troop B in an assault on the enemy-held trench.

Unfortunately, Company C was almost out of ammunition.  It had only enough for two platoons; thus it left one platoon in the village, and joined Troop B with two platoons.

Troop B reduced to about 50 armored cavalrymen, and Company C, reduced to about forty infantrymen, with the assistance of helicopter gun ships from Company B, 25th Aviation Battalion’s “Diamondhead’s” attempted a valiant assault against this naturally defensible position held by many times their number.

ARTWORK BY SSG JULIO C. DIAZ

After twenty minutes of intense fighting, both company commanders report the enemy is in great strength in the trench to their front, and in ever increasing strength on their flanks;  enemy firepower is too strong to permit them to close in and destroy them; and that both units are almost out of ammunition.

5:00 PM
Permission is requested to withdraw, regroup, resupply ammunition, and attack.

Due to darkness approachingand the impending monsoon rains adding to the enemy’s advantages permission is granted to withdraw and move to a defensive position astride Main Supply Route  22 just north of the Little Rubber Plantation.

They will attack again as soon as ammunition is resupplied.

5:15 PM
Back at Cu Chi, an additional light fire team from B Company 25th Aviation Battalion “Diamondheads” was scrambled to assist the withdrawal.

An A Company “Little Bear” helicopter is scrambled to the resupply point for the needed munitions, and an additional “Little Bear” helicopter is put on 3 minute strip alert loaded with CS gas.

5:30 PM
Our troops withdraw  as a very heavy monsoon storm hits the area., bringing total darkness and heavy rains which force all helicopters from the sky, preventing the evacuation of the wounded and resupply of ammunition for several hours.

5:40 PM
Both “Diamondhead” Light Fire Teams and the “Little Bear”, and resupply helicopters return to Cu Chi because of poor visibility and to wait out the storm. Diamondhead 174 is grounded after suffering several bullet holes in the rotor blades and had some structural damage in the forward cabin. CWO Spitler and his crew have to change ships to get back into the fight.

As we wait for the storm to subside in the scramble shack, we discuss strategy the enemy’s battle field strategy.  The enemy doesn’t want to blow up the convoy or they would have They wanted to steal the ammunition.

The drivers, some still pinned down at the north end of the convoy with little ammunition is a real concern. The large Viet Cong force in the Little Rubber Plantation is another.

Our main concern is to support the assault troops, protect the convoy from pilfering and looting, and to support the pinned down drivers. To do this successfully we needed the rain to stop and the clouds to lift some to give us room to work.

7:30 PM
Outside it is a torrential downpour.  I run back to my ship and dial the radio’s ground frequency.  The best I can tell is the fighting is continuing,  but mostly sporadic sniper fire, and the .50 Cals from the Mech Armored Personnel Carrier’s with their searchlights is keeping the looting of the convoy down.

The artillery unit from Trang Bang is doing a job on the Little Rubber Plantation, so the Viet Cong in the trench are at least frozen in place for the time being, and hopefully thinned out some.

ARTWORK BY SP4 JIM D. NELSON

7:45 PM
A Little Bear Flare ship is scrambled to the convoy. The Little Bear ship got on location at about 1955. The weather was still atrocious and they could not see the ground from their elevation of 2500 feet. They dropped a few flares, but it was a lesson in futility since the ceiling on the ground was too low to be effective or accurate.

8:15 PM
Due to no visibility the Little Bear flare ship returnS to the Bear Pit to wait out the storm further, as the artillery unit continues to pound the battlefield around the convoy and inside the Little Rubber Plantation.

10:05 PM
An emergency call is received an emergency resupply of ammunition. The assault units and drivers are in dire straights without it.  Since the Little Bear resupply helicopter is already loaded, they vote to take a try it. At worst they wil be forced to return.

As they approach the convoy they duck under the low cloud cover, the artillery unit firesillumination rounds and somehow they find the drop zone, illuminated by a strobe light.

The conditions are much too treacherous for the gunship helicopters to work, or any other aircraft for that matter.  Unloading quickly, they take on some of the wounded and return to Cu Chi’s 12th Evac hospital to deposit the wounded and then on to the sanctity of the Bear Pit and safety to wait out the weather.

11:06 PM
At 2306, again the Little Bear flare ship is scrambled. According to the ground commander the sky is starting to clear some, and the ceiling improving. It will prove to be a very long night for the flight crews.

Jay Marion, the crew chief on the Little Bear flare ship remembers the night all to well.

‘We took turns “rotating on station” with the Diamondhead flare ship. While we were reloading, Diamondhead was dropping flares and visa versa. That way we could constantly have the battlefield lit up. It was one very very busy night.’

‘We were flying with NO LIGHTS on anywhere and we didn’t have monkey straps on, so one wrong step, or you get hung up on an out going flare and you went with it. It was not one of the better missions that I would want to repeat.’

‘We were flying quite high and worked our butts off tossing out flares… hoping like you would not believe that we would NOT get hit. I still don’t want to think about what it would have been like to get rounds into that pile of flares and see it catch on fire. Things would have been very nasty.’

‘From the elevation we were at we couldn’t see things very clearly, but I do know the action was quite intense down below. Tracers were going everywhere, red ones from the gunships going down, green and white ones going up, and all of them going sideways on the ground.’

Within minutes of the arrival of the flare ship, the 1st Brigade  “Little Bear 120″ with the 1st Brigade Commander aboard was back on station above the convoy to direct the attack and recon the battlefield.

The Viet Cong again were beginning to assault the trucks in the convoy and the supporting drivers.

ARTWORK BY SP4 JIM D. NELSON

Since the weather is beginning to break up, and the ceiling lifting,  “Diamondhead” gunships are called to return on station to assist in the battle.

11:29 PM
At 2329 the phone rings in the scramble shack on the Diamondhead flight line. We are off within five minutes enroute to Ap Nhi to assist in the protection of the besieged convoy.

I remember just before we arrived on station we were monitoring the radio listening to the ground commander “Noble Corners”, situated at the south end of the convoy talking to his counter part at the north end of the convoy, “Bristol Kites”, about the developing situation.

There are pockets of drivers and other convoy personnel still engaged with the Viet Cong along the roadway, and a pocket still pinned down at the north end.

At the south end Viet Cong are unloading munitions from the trailers, but there isn’t the manpower to totally stop it.

As we arrive above the convoy.  The weather still isn’t great, the ceiling is about 900 feet with patchy clouds and a foggy mist hung in the air.

The flare ship is dropping flares, which cast an eerie almost surrealistic glow to the battlefield.

The artillery shells impacting in the Rubber Plantation create a noticeable amount of smoke drifting back towards to the convoy.   Add to this the tracers flying all over the place, green and white ones coming from the west side of the road, and red ones answering them from the east.

While our fire team leader is figuring out the location of our troops, and the bad guys, I noticed a little Lambretta scooter, one of those three wheeled jobs with a small cargo box on the back leave the south end of the convoy and disappear into an old barn or farmhouse. In a couple of minutes he returns and repeats the trip. My aircraft commanders (CWO David Stock)  and I decide to let him make one more trip before giving him a wake up call.

By now the ground commander had briefed us on the situation, and the  location of, our  troops and the bad guys.  From the 900 foot ceiling we make one rocket run at the trench across from the convoy at the south end.

As we start our run all hell break loose.  A a wall of tracers comes to greet us on the way down.  We punch off 4 sets of the 36 rockets we have with us. I covered with machine gun fire as we break west away from the roadway.

As we circled around, there was our little buddy and his Lambretta heading back to the little barn a couple hundred yards south of the convoy.

I opened up on him with the door gun and walked the rounds into him just as he cleared the door.

CWO Stock was already lined up and rolling in. He punched a set of rockets off as a barn-warming present.

ARTWORK BY SSG JULIO C. DIAZ

They went right in the door behind the Lambretta. At this point I estimate we were about 200 feet off the ground, and due to the intense ground fire we broke pretty hard and gained altitude quite quickly.

I don’t know how many trips that Lambretta had made into that barn, but now it was quite apparent what he had been hauling; it had been howitzer rounds!

The secondary explosion that went off in that barn was totally incredible!  The fireball went up into the clouds. We were back up to 900 feet and the bam parts were up there with us. We barely missed a piece of roofing tin and some other miscellaneous building materials.

ARTWORK BY SP4 JIM D. NELSON

My mind flashed to the morning headlines “Diamondhead 085 Shot Down By Exploding Barn!” That would make for a really shitty day!

After getting our composure back we use the rest of our rockets and machine gun ammunition in the trench across from the drivers, and into the edge of the Rubber Plantation.

This stops the attack on the convoy for the moment. We are out of  ammunition and head back to Cu Chi to re-arm and refuel. We were in battle  more than an hour.

26 August 1968
12:41 AM
The Little Bear also left the battle to change crews, those guys had been going since 6 A.M. yesterday and are exhausted.

At Cu Chi’s refueling point we top off the tank with twelve-hundred pounds of JP-4 and then hover over to the rearming point to begin the arduous task of loading thirty-six more rockets and re-arming the mini-guns and door guns of our ship and our wing ship.

12:55 AM
While we are refueling, our secondary team is scrambled back to the convoy. The battle continues.  They were under attack by an estimated battalion size enemy force. At least we  get a little break until the secondary team needs to re-arm and refuel.

After finishing the task at hand, and inventorying the aircraft for damage we fly back to the “Beach”, the “Diamondhead” portion of the flight line, and enter the scramble shack to await our next mission. We had acquired a couple of holes from enemy bullets, but only punctured the helicopter’s skin and hit nothing vital to our safety. A piece of duct tape will hold it for now.

01:35 AM
As we enter the scramble shack, the phone rings and we are on our way, back to the battle.

One of our helicopters is shot up pretty bad for the second time in 24 hours and will leave the fight.

The rest of the night was not real eventful, save ducking some ground fire.
Re-arm, re-fuel, return to the convoy, shoot up some ammo and a few rockets when we found proper targets.

06:30 AM
At 0630 the 1st Brigade Commander directed a “roll-up” attack operation down the axis of the enemy ambush positions in the village and the Little Rubber Plantation, a repeat of the operation the previous afternoon, while the team at the southern end of the ambush site acted as a blocking force.

Company C. 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry will moved along the edge of the village, and Troop B platoons will move just inside the Little Rubber Plantation but parallel to the trench.

Main Supply Route  22 will be both the axis of advance and the boundary between the two attacking units.

The Troop B Commanding Officer is designated team leader. During this sweep the gunships will fly overhead in case they are needed, and as a safety precaution.

During this time frame all of the wounded will be med-evaced to 12th Evacuation hospital in Cu Chi.

10:00 AM
The entire ambush area has been swept clear and the evacuation of the disabled convoy vehicles begins. The enemy left before dawn.

Five of the ambushed trucks are total losses, but the trailers with the artillery ammunition are in good shape with little loss of ammunition

About one hundred four enemy killed and twice that number wounded.   Our losses are nineteen killed and forty-nine wounded.

Seven of the dead and ten of the wounded being truckers.  The 25th Aviation Battalion sustained one wounded. There were also two MlA’s.

10:30 AM
Two helicopters are sent to pick up our nineteen dead soldiers. This is the most gruesome job any aviator could have.

Epilogue:
Two Americans are taken prisoner by the Viet Cong during the ambush.

Specialist 4th Class Bobby Louis Johnson of Detroit and Staff Sgt. Kenneth R. Gregory of Altus, Okla., both of the 62nd Transportation Company, were captured late in the fight. Both were held in a Viet Cong prison camp NW of Tay Ninh City.

Nine months later a 1st Cavalry Division helicopter was flying over northern Tay Ninh Province near the Cambodian border.

Twelve miles northwest of Tay Ninh the crew sighted someone  waving from a trail in the bamboo below.

ARTWORK BY SP4 RICHARD W. MCDOWELL

When the pilot descended for a closer look, he decided that the man looked like an American and brought the chopper down to pick him up.

It was Sergeant Gregory.
“When they picked me up, I was actually crying,” Gregory is quoted saying.

He escaped four days earlier and wandered in the jungle ever since – praying that a helicopter would fly over.  Gregory was taken to the 24th Evacuation Hospital in Long Binh.

Johnson remained in captivity for five years. In February 1973 he was released with most other known POWs and sent to Ft. Knox Ky.
Bibliography:
Convoy Ambush At Ap Nhi-Stephen C. Tunnell, Vietnam Magazine The Infantry Brigade In Combat-Duquesne Wolf Daily Journals from 25th Aviation Battalion After Action Reports From The National Archives

29 Responses to “A COMBAT MEDIC’S VIETNAM EXPERIENCE”

  1. Incredible reflections of terror,horror heroism and sacrifice by so many……………….

  2. Vickie (Way)Sellers Says:

    Thanks again for writing and giving us your first hand perspective on what happened! ! Your words really come to life with the pictures and drawings.

  3. Gary Wilson Says:

    Great perspective on what happened. I was there 68-69. Flew Birddogs w/74th RAC.

    Gary Wilson
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Welcome home Gary. good to hear from you!

    Ivan Katzenmeier
    Co C, 3/22nd, 25th Inf.
    Sr. Medic 1968

    • Frank R. Hernandez Says:

      Fearless “Doc” I was at Dau Tieng Base Camp in August 1968. In the late 1980’s I wrote retired Colonel Wolf our old CO for 1st Brigade after reading his book “The Infantry Brigade in Combat.” Do you know if “Duke” is still alive? I pulled bunker guard with the 3/22 Inf . We might have got shot at you and I because in August 1968 I was shot at. A lot of times. Frank (Chico) Hernandez 125th Signal Battalion A Company Welcome Home!

  4. Joe Colussi Says:

    You may even have been the one that patched me up after the Fourth of July fiasco in Dau Tieng. If you are: thanks again; if you’re not: thanks anyway for what you did. Welcome Home, Doc.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Joe,
    Thanks for writing.

    I looked at my diary, and on July 4th, 1968 I was at the Battalion Aid Station in Ton Son Nhut as a patient recovering from a fever, chills and dysentery. So I missed all the excitement.

    My diary is at: http://katzenmeier.wordpress.com/2011/11/03/katzenmeiers-vietnam-diary-1968-1969/

    Welcome home!

    Ivan Katzenmeier

  5. Ken Hampel Specialist 4th class Says:

    I was stationed in Dau Tieng from Jan 1967 to Sep 1967 in Headquarters Co. 2nd Battalion 22nd Infantry. My group was the one that came in and helped put down 647 kills with APC’s in March of that year when they came in and caught the VC cold. I think I actually saw my tent and a bunker I spent some time in and definitely the French house with the clay tile roof that I spent time in on your photos. I was a clerk and was responsible to lay out maps for patrols to S-4 and went on quite a few patrols with the cooks and the truck drivers, yikes. I had nine months infantry training before I transferred to HHCO. Your stories and pictures were unbelievable and seeing Dau Tieng again was surreal, especially with the Black Virgin mountain in the back. I look at the pictures and it does not seem real that I was there or that I made it out in one piece. The base was only mortared once the time I was there and I was in the field delivering registered mail. I was also to go on a patrol but got replaced and the seven guys did not return, all found in town dead presumably by Vietcong waiting in ambush. The next day they put up a fence by the airplane hanger and the town was off limits. Crash landed in a flying boxcar on that runway blowing tires on landing. Day before I landed that boxcar was shot down by VC in rubber plantation. Writing a book of short stories about the war and maybe will publish someday. Ken

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Welcome home Ken!
    Thanks for your comments.

    Ivan Katzenmeier
    Sr. Medic (1968)
    Co. C, 3/22nd, 25th Inf. Div.

  6. Amie Thompson Says:

    Hi, My name is Amie Thompson

    My father served two tours in vietnam, 69-71. He too was a combat medic. He never said much about being in the war, he loved his country very much! I remember when the gulf war started he stayed up all night watching and listening and praying for our young men and women over there. He would show pride on his face when the helicopters came in, and he would says those boys down there will be okay because here comes the rain! I would all excited not really knowing what my dad was talking about, but just knowing he served and we were all raised very patriotic I too knew that those boys would be okay. My father passed away in 1999 very suddenly, it is still a shock today. As we were things ready for his service we found his medals, we never knew he had received the bronze star while in vietnam. I asked my grandmother about it as my father and mother had not met until after the war. You see, my father tried to enlist, he was rejected because he was completely deaf in his right ear. A few weeks later he gets drafted, sent to Fort Polk LA and then shipped out in July of 1969 to the front lines. Right smack dab in the middle of the bombing of Cambodia. In the letters he sent home to his parents he states briefly he has received the bronze star. When he returned home in July of 1971 he then almost completely deaf in his left ear along with the right. My father was a very companionate, giving, loving, caring, Christian man. I truly can’t imagine what any of you all went through, I thank you all for you service and honor to your country! If there is to be any group of veterans out there who get over looked and NEVER got a welcome home it is out vietnam veterans!!! My fathers name was Steven (Steve) Lynn Angel
    If anyone out there served with him I would love to hear from you.

  7. glenn miller Says:

    My name is Glenn Miller I was based at Cu Chi [ 66/67 ] was Sgt, in “A” Btry 3rd Bn 13th Arty The details of these accounts are extemely accurate and historical while as bad as it mat hace seem to the Author and his accounts one can only imagine what we had to endure base camp Cu Chi didn’t exist until may of 66 I arrived during the builing and establishment of it in August of 66–extremly priitive conditions so while fighting, we wher also constructing that base camp–When I first arrived only platformed tents with half bunkered walls was all that was there. (shown in one of the pictures included NO WOODEN BARRACKS NO TIN ROOFS-While fighting as Artillerymen when that had a lull we started construction the work was endless–now take into account all those unbearable conditions so accurately described–My point is as bad is this all sounds–if you can imagine for the moment it being worse–it was for us! ENDLESS If you weren’t grapping your rifle you grapped a hammer, ot filled sand bags. we didn’t use the viet-namese for any thing while I was there they weren’t to be trusted–they could be viet cong so we didn’t use them. Chilling Memories for me!
    “A” Btry 3BN 13th Arty was locted at Cu Chi next to the Ambush Academy on the perimeter “A” and “D” Btry 8″ howitzer were side by side! Thank you for this detailed account interesting to know what was going the year after Ieft—Nothing changed!

    • Welcome home Glenn!

      Thanks for all the work you did in building Cu Chi base camp. Most of us never gave it too much thought. I guess we assumed everything was constructed by someone else, probably civilian contractors.

      Thanks for your interesting narrative!

      Ivan Katzenmeier

  8. George Meredith Says:

    Ivan…

    I appreciated reading of your history in Vietnam and, specifically, the Dau Tieng / Tay Ninh area. I was there in 1966 with the 1st Infantry Division. We went into Dau Tieng on a Caribou in early November as part of Operation Attleboro. I took over a plantation house as an aid station. Also, I went back to Vietnam in 2006 and went to Dau Tieng…. Drove up the airstrip…. Didn’t find or recognize the villa. As a fellow medic, I appreciate your well written account of your history there and the very significant work you accomplished.
    ==================================================
    Welcome home George! Good to hear from you.
    Ivan Katzenmeier

  9. Thank you very much for your story and pictures. Like you, I was assigned to the the 25th Division(Electric Strawberry) November 1968 to November 1969. I was with C Battery 1st BN 8th Artillery 2nd Brigade. I spent time at Dau Tieng, Fire Support Base Keene III, Fire Support Base Jackson, Patrol Base Diamond II,, Patrol Base Diamond III and IV. Air lifted to support in Tay Ninh area near Nui Ba Den. Pic of Oakland Army Base, 90th Replacement and 25th Replacement brought back memories. The Hairyist times were near Cambodian Border close to Go Da Hau and Tiay Ninh. Fire Base Keene was a lot of Mortar/Rocket fire seemed like every other day. Had 3 scary nights in a small village of AP Tho Mo. Real big scary nights at Patrol Bases Diamond II and III in April 1969. Nearly over run at both bases. I must addmit you Doc ( Bac Si) were good glad we had you. Like you my first night in the field I came down with a 106 fever and Doc Green watched over me all night. Could not be Medvaced out because of heavy movement. I was miserable. It could have been worse. We had a lot of people killed and wounded bad. I was lucky, only 2 very small scars, no biggie. Welcome Home Doc. You did good and may God Bless you.

    VNVNVNVNVNVNVNVNVNVNVNVNVNVNVNVNVNVNVNVNVNVNVNVNVNVNVNVNVNVNVNVNVNVNVNVNVNVNVNVNVNVNVNVNVNVNVNVNVNVNVNVN
    WELCOME HOME FREDDIE! Thanks for the comments!

    IVAN KATZENMEIER

  10. Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed the narrative and the photos.

  11. Billy D. Wood, USA, MSG (Ret) Says:

    Enjoyed your diary Ivan. Many memories have been jogged. I was with HHT, 3/4 Cav, 25 ID from Aug 67 – Aug 68, so we overlapped one another a bit. Thanks again for your service.

  12. jim(doc)kline Says:

    I was the medic for 2nd platoon ,B co,feb 68 till 9-68,great read.Everybodys experience is different, yet the same.

  13. Sonny Boles Says:

    I served with C troop 1/9 Calv. Dong Ha. , Ashau Valley , KheSan. , many more locals . I served from as CE Weapons > 67-69. Thanks for shaving your photos and art. Great job.

  14. Thank you for sharing… Welcome Home Brother!

    Rob Struck
    Charlie Troop 1/9th (Blues) 1st Air Cavalry, 1970-71 http://usastruck.com/2012/11/22/the-troopers-of-charlie-troop-1st-squadron-9th-cavalry-1st-cavalry-division-airmobile/

  15. Bob Ortiz Says:

    Hello Ivan. Your narrative brought back some deep emotional feelings and memories. You weren’t located too far from me. I was assigned to the Tay Ninh base camp in ’68-’69. As you know, Tay Ninh base camp was a 25th Division installation. I was with the 277th S&S Battalion, 1st logistical Command. We were a direct support unit that provided supplies, ammo, and equipment to infantry units at Tay Ninh and surrounding support bases. I got to know a number of 25th Infantry G.I.s and hung around with a couple of them, although for the most part, infantry didn’t hold us in high esteem because we weren’t infantry.

    Although I was assigned to a quartermaster battalion (part-time), I spent a great deal of time out on the line. We manned the bunkers on the perimeter and our main task was to keep our camp from being attacked and overrun. And attacked we were – often. I remember vividly when things got heated, Hueys and Cobras flew overhead and fired into the jungle below. What a sight to behold, especially at night.

    FYI, I met a veteran (Chris Woelk) on the Internet who was with the 25th Division, artillery, at Tay Ninh during the same time I was there. We got to talking and he shared quite a bit regarding the relationship between infantry and artillery G.I.s. He currently has a website with tons of photos of Tay Ninh and neighboring FSBs. I even submitted pictures I took of Tay Ninh Base Camp and he posted them on his site, since Tay Ninh was home for 13 months. Here is his site: http://www.vietnamsoldier.com. My gallery is: http://www.vietnamsoldier.com/gallery/main.php?g2_itemid=5335.

    Lastly, just wanted to share that my uncle served with the 25th Infantry Division in 1967. He was stationed at Cu Chi. He has told me some horrifying stories of his experiences. He was a ‘tunnel rat’ a few times and that scared the hell out of him. Sadly, when he was out on patrol one day, a buddy of his stepped on a mine. Killed his buddy and another G.I. standing next to him. My uncle received shrapnel all over his back.

    These were indeed trying times for us all. Glad you made it back to talk about it. Many didn’t.

    Bob Ortiz
    Tay Ninh ’68-’69
    U.S. Army
    Specialist 5th class

  16. I served with Delta Co. 2nd BN, 14th Inf. 25th ID 1969-70. Our area of operation included Dầu Tiếng, Tây Ninh, Gò Dầu Hạ, Trảng Bàng, Hố Bò woods, Boi loi woods, Củ Chi, Trung Lập, FSB Devin, FSB Pershing, FSB Patton II, Patrol Base Hunsley, and The Mushroom.
    In Google type in,
    http://www.i-kirk.info/2nd14th
    Click on,
    More of What’s New…
    Then click on,
    1969-70 Delta Company high-quality photos. You will see 112 photos I took in and around the places you mention while I was attached as a Combat Medic from mid Oct. 1969 to May 1970.

  17. Glenn F. Miller Says:

    I was there “A” Brty 3bn 13th Arty Cu Chi while evry thing you point out is true we had none of the provision or luxury you mention.
    While fighting the war we were busy building Cu Chi out of the jungle–plus all the misery you mention and for my first 3 months we didn’t hae ice for any cold drinks–potable water–scarce–we didn’t have a medic with are units in the artillery–just the imfatry if they were lucky to have one with them. most of the places you mentioned we established in1966–cut down level it and then rebuild for military use–saved what we could! Shot fire missions on the 155 SP all night H~I ‘S Build and fill thousands of sand bags
    No vietmese help–we couldn’t trust them to many VC and they would intelligence gathering on positioning with in out perimeter!
    So we did it all!
    I’m dealing with some issues with the VA ~ they say my military Medical record does’t show Dysentary–1966 it was rampant–they want proof I had it–I’d like them to prove to me some body who didn’t have it! I don’t know what to do to prove it we had no medical entries on record because we simply didn’t have a medic and no one made those entries for us! THE BS NEVER ENDS!

    • Welcome home Glenn. Good to hear from you.

      What a difference two years makes (1966 to 1968).

      Ivan Katzenmeier

      • Ivan: read your account. Thankful you made it out alive. I was with the 1/27th as a medic. Wounded twice. You mentioned a medic Daniel Orozzco. I met him at Ft. Lewis where we were both stationed when we got back. That was interesting to see his name.

      • Welcome home Dan!

        It’s nice to hear from someone who knew Daniel.

        Ivan Katzenmeier

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