Archive for the Travel Category


Posted in Travel on November 3, 2011 by ivankatz

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



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.

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.


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.


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.


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.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Dau Tieng was attacked with mortars last night

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.

Note:  The following report I found on the Virtual Wall, probably refers to the event mentioned above.

‘Shortly before 7 AM on 21 August 21 1968 C Company 1/5 Inf departed Dau Tieng for a reconnaissance in force operation through the Ben Cui Rubber Plantation. C Company was to operate approximately 1 kilometer south of Highway 239, while the 1/5 Recon Platoon, the 3rd Brigade CRIP Platoon, and one twin 40mm “Duster” were to sweep the highway itself, paralleling C Company’s movement through the rubber plantation.

Just after 11 AM C Company began receiving sniper fire, followed by increasingly heavy automatic weapons and RPG fire. At 1140 the Recon Platoon sighted hundreds of enemy soldiers moving south to engage C Company. The Recon force engaged the enemy with .50 caliber machine guns and the Duster’s 40mm cannons but were unable to break up the attack against C Company.

In the heavy fighting which ensued, C Company suffered 17 men killed in action and 21 wounded in action. Staff Sergeant Marvin R. Young received the Medal of Honor and SP4 Michael R. Mangan the Distinguished Service Cross for their efforts in support of their comrades. Additional information regarding the fighting, which continued on 22 and 23 August, is available on the 5th Infantry site  (’

The President of the United States
in the name of the Congress of the United States
takes pride in presenting the


posthumously to

Staff Sergeant
United States Army

for service as set forth in the following


For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. S/Sgt Young distinguished himself at the cost of his life while serving as a squad leader with Company C. While conducting a reconnaissance mission in the vicinity of Ben Cui, Company C was suddenly engaged by an estimated regimental-size force of the North Vietnamese Army. During the initial volley of fire the point element of the 1st Platoon was pinned down, sustaining several casualties, and the acting platoon leader was killed. S/Sgt Young unhesitatingly assumed command of the platoon and immediately began to organize and deploy his men into a defensive position in order to repel the attacking force. As a human wave attack advanced on S/Sgt Young’s platoon, he moved from position to position, encouraging and directing fire on the hostile insurgents while exposing himself to the hail of enemy bullets. After receiving orders to withdraw to a better defensive position, he remained behind to provide covering fire for the withdrawal. Observing that a small element of the point squad was unable to extract itself from its position, and completely disregarding his personal safety, S/Sgt Young began moving toward their position, firing as he maneuvered. When halfway to their position he sustained a critical head injury, yet he continued his mission and ordered the element to withdraw. Remaining with the squad as it fought its way to the rear, he was twice seriously wounded in the arm and leg. Although his leg was badly shattered, S/Sgt Young refused assistance that would have slowed the retreat of his comrades, and he ordered them to continue their withdrawal while he provided protective covering fire. With indomitable courage and heroic self-sacrifice, he continued his self-assigned mission until the enemy force engulfed his position. By his gallantry at the cost of his life and in the highest traditions of the military service, S/Sgt Young has reflected great credit upon himself, his unit and the U.S. Army.

Sergeant Young had been wounded twice before, on 7 Dec 1967 and on 1 Feb 1968. At the time of his death he was within two months of completing his tour in Vietnam.



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.


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.


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.



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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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.


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.
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


Posted in Travel on March 21, 2010 by ivankatz


If you want to attract crowds, just say the word, ‘forbidden.’  It all started in the book of Genesis in the Holy Bible, where we read about the ‘forbidden fruit.’  Mankind has been in search of the ‘forbidden’ ever since!

With this thought, I begin, telling my story with photos and narrative,  of my visit to Beijing, China and the ‘Forbidden City.  ‘

Traveling to China, is not easy.  To visit Beijing and the Forbidden City requires a long tiring flight for the  U. S. visitor to this Asian city.  A flight over the frozen wilderness of  Alaska and Siberia.



We are now flying over Alaska.  It is beautiful.  The mountains are covered with Snow and we can even see huge glaciers between the mountains stretching toward the sea.


It is fascinating the way the Alaska’s rivers twist and turn as they sprawl across the flat lands and between the mountains.

Alaskan Shore Line

When we cross the Bering straight, the day will change from Sunday to Monday, even though it is broad daylight out.


We are fast approaching the Bering straight, and will soon be over Siberia.  When we cross the straight, the day will change from Sunday to Monday, even though it is broad daylight out.  The sun is following us all the way to Beijing.  We will have a day with 22-23 hours of sunlight, assuming the sun rises at 6 and sets at 6.





SPEED 552 MPH 35000 FT -67 DEGREES






We are getting close to our destination – Beijng.





Travelers have an opportunity to exchange their currency for Chinese currency (yuan) at the airport terminal, near the baggage pick up area.



In the same area, near the restrooms, is a kiosk to purchase a SIM card for your unlocked GSM phone. The cost is only $33 for 100 minutes of call time to the U.S.   My MOBAL Sim card costs  $2.50 a minute, so the Chinese SIM card is a bargain.


The Tian Tang Guang Hotel is vacant, and is located next to our hotel.Our hotel for the next week - The Mariott City Wall Hotel. What remains of the old city wall is next to our hotel, thus its name - the Beijing Mariott City Wall Hotel.

After a good night’s rest, we started the day out with a fabulous breakfast buffet.  There wasn’t anything really exotic on the buffet, but it was very good.  The chef’s scrambled an omelet to our specifications, with onions, bacon bits, cheese, and peppers.  Also a selection of coffees, juices,  and fruits and pastries  awaited our selection,  along with  sausage, bacon and American cereals.
As much as we would like to stay in the restaurant and eat until noon and then eat again, all good things must come to an end.  Our next stop,  is our first tourist attraction – the SUMMER PALACE.
There are many high rise apartments in Beijing.  All apartments have their own air conditioners, rather than central air.
Beijing has many unusual buildings.  And many usual buildings!
Click on any of these photos to enlarge them!

Many Beijing office buildings are built of glass.

Enormous LCD Screens are everywhere in Beijing.

It is common to see many 3 wheel bikes, which serve as delivery vehicles for passengers and merchandise. None have gasoline engines, but may be pedal powered or have an electric motor.

Unusual structures - purpose unknown.These buildings are not far from the Olympic Stadium.

Well, enough photos of streets and buildings.
The destination of the Summer Palace is what we set out to find, and I will tell about it next.
The Summer Palace complex is actually named literally “Gardens of Nurtured Harmony” in Chinese, but missionaries named it the ‘Summer Palace,’  I guess because it was easier to say than the Chinese name.
The Summer Palace started out life as the Garden of Clear Ripples in 1750.  It is made up of a hill and lake, plus some buildings (palaces) , buildings and an ornately painted half mile long covered walkway.
Kunming Lake was entirely man made and the excavated soil was used to build Longevity Hill.
This park was damaged by  the Anglo-French allied invasion of 1860 , and the boxer Rebellion,  in an attack by the eight allied powers in 1900. The garden  was rebuilt in 1886 and 1902.
It served as a summer resort for the ‘Dragon Lady’ Empress Cixi, who diverted funds designated for the Chinese Navy to repair and enlarge the Summer Palace.

Our tour group approaches the entrance to the Summer Palace. Our excellent tour guide, Steven holds the flag.

Stephen our excellent tour guide. For his website go to:

Steven Lu Jin Li, our tour guide, speaks very good English and is very personable.  He never visited the US.  Before his marriage,  he tried to get a visa, but US officials were concerned that he wouldn’t leave the U.  S.  so  his visa request was denied.  He hopes to visit the U. S. with his family some day.  He and his wife, Tracy Hu have a 19 month old son.

Steven has a website on which tourists  can choose individual tour guides.  The site is and is full of interesting information about travel in China.

Steven is 36 and has an interesting story.  His father’s  Red Guard unit was defeated early during the Cultural Revolution, 1966-1976.  His family was sent to the countryside in 1976 for ‘purification and re-education.’   When he was 2 years old his family was allowed to return to their home town.  The government realized that some had been unfairly punished due to the excesses during this period of time.  So the government reimbursed his father for lost wages during their exile to the country side.  He used this money to purchase a home, and his former government job was restored.

Steven has lived in the countryside on a communal farm, in a small town, and now the big city.  He speaks English and Mandarin.  When he visits Hong Cong, he feels ‘foreign’  because he must speak English, since only English and Cantonese are spoken there, and he doesn’t speak Cantonese.

Steven discussed the good and bad of the Cultural Revolution.  It got rid of the good and bad in their culture, and wiped the slate clean for China.  The purging process allowed the government to implement many changes that would not have been possible under the old rules, but they also lost a lot of their ancient traditions.

In 1995, due to housing reform, housing was privatized.  When the government embraced capitalism, it privatized  government owned and run industries.  Government officials decided who were the new owners of these industries.  Corporations were quickly created, sometimes by relatives of the government official.  As a result, the former the industries were transferred to many government official’s’ families, thus family wealth was quickly created.   This is seen as corruption.

Prior to government reforms, everyone worked for the government.  Now only 5% of the people work for the government.

Steven does not work for the government.  He works for a private company called Destination China for the last 13 years as a tour guide.

His wife Traci works as a tour guide too and as an English tutor.  They have a nanny to help care for their 19 month old son.

They are compliant with China’s one child policy.  If they  have a second child, they would pay a $17000 fine.  If they lived in south China,  (Shang Hai area) the  fine would increase to $34,000.  If the fine is not paid, then the child would have not have any rights as a Chinese citizen.

When a couple is married, they are given a certificate which allows them to have one child.  Exceptions are made for twins and triplets, and for couples who are children of parents having only one child.  Children born out of wedlock have no rights as citizens.

This watch tower/fort is named the WENCHANG TOWER - built in 1750 and destroyed in 1860 by Anglo French forces and then rebuilt again.

This is a man made lake (Kunming Lake) and the excavated dirt was used to build Longevity Hill which you see in this photo, overlooking the lake.

Longevity Hill - built from excavated dirt from the man made lake.

The Long Corridor - an ornately painted covered half mile long walk way, leading to the Mable Boat.

The Long Corridor - an ornately painted covered walk way, leading to the Marble Boat.

Close up of painting on wall of the Long Corridor.

Close up of painting on the Long Corridor

Close up of painting on wall of the Long Corridor.

The Long Corridor roof

The Long Corridor ceiling.
Painting in the Long Corridor.

Close up of painting in the Long Corridor.

Ornate arch at the Summer Palace, Beijing China

Arched bridge at the Summer Palace.

Couples enjoying a dance on a cold Beijing day at the Summer Palace.

On our way back to the tour bus, local vendors urge us to buy their  merchadise at the Summer Palace.



Beijing Zoo Subway entrance

Beijing Zoo Entrance

Toy Panda Exhibit Sign at the Beijing Zoo Entrance

Beijing Zoo Entrance Display of Toy Pandas

Beijing Zoo Panda House

Giant Panda Beijing Zoo


Giant Panda Beijing Zoo

Click on photo to enlarge to read text of this plaque.


But first, let me discuss a little about what we have learned about China’s political system.  As you know, China has a one party system.  Well that is not quite right  right.  It isn’t that simple.  China has a number of officially recognized political parties which have the role as ‘advisors’ to the government.  Their constitution mandates that they each are represented in their congress, according to the number of votes they receive.  But they cannot vote, only advise.  the Communist party is the ruling party, and representatives are elected by the people.  Voters chose the person best suited to do the job.  There are no ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative’ candidates as in our elections.

Land ownership  in China is interesting also.  Land in China belongs to the government, but the government allows citizens to use the land for 70 years.  They can ‘buy and sell’ this right, and its value decreases as the 70th year approaches.  No one knows what will happen on the 70th year.  The Communist regime has been in control only 50 years, so there is about 2o years left before they have to decide what to do next.  They pay no property tax on the land they use.  In the U. S. we may buy property, but we pay property tax, which is a form of  ‘rent’ paid to our  government.  If we don’t pay the property tax, the government will sell ‘our land’ to someone else, to pay the unpaid tax (government rent).

And now to the Great Wall of China, built between 2800 years ago to 1500 AD.  Much of it is in disrepair or completely buried by sand storms.  Much of what survives has been repaired and is made of bricks and rock.  The original wall was not all made of rock and bricks, but of earth, gravel and wood, subject to deterioration.

It is an urban legend, or myth that the Great Wall can be seen from the Moon or outer space.  To see the wall from the Moon  would be the equivalent of  seeing a human hair from 2 miles away, which requires eyesight that is 17,000 better than 20/20 vision!

We traveled by bus to a portion of the Great Wall which was a few miles north west of Beijing.  As we approached the mountain we could see the walk ways and guard towers in the distant.  Guard towers on the high points, were used as signal towers.  One smoke signal would alert the army that they were under attack by 500,  two smokes signals indicating 1000 enemy were advancing, an so on, so that military reinforcements could be sent to counter the attack effectively.


A very steep and challenging climb awaits us!



With great difficulty we climbed to the first watch tower on very slippery, steep, uneven stone steps.  On the right in the black overcoat and black cap, Hans climbs the Great Wall.

Hans – far left – pauses to catch his breath.

We are greeted by a ‘NO CLIMBING’ sign on the watch tower!

'Don't Climb' Sign on side of watch tower of the Great Wall

Inside the watch tower we can see the Great Wall in the distance!





The left side of the steps were covered with snow making it difficult and even dangerous to descend.  The right side was full of tourists climbing up.  So I hung onto the railing and slid down on the snow packed steps on the left.


She gives me a relieved smile, having successful reached the bottom of the steps without falling!



Posted in Uncategorized, Viet Nam on November 12, 2009 by ivankatz

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.John Anderson 4 Photos W NAME

Please contact Ed at: 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

Page 1

* 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, PROV SIG CO, 125TH SIG BN, 25 INF DIV


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:












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





*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.

Page 2

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 )

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.
Page 3

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.

Page 4

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.
Page 5

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.

Page 6

Page 7

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

Page 8

(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.

Page 10

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)
Page 12
(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.
Page 14
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.


Page 15

Page 16

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.



Page 17

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.

Page 18

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

Page 21

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.

Page 22

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

Page 23

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

Page 24

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.

Page 25

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.

Page 26

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.

Page 27

Page 28

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.

Page 29

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.
Page 30

At this time the soldiers ran out the back door, killing 2 Viet Cong.


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)

Page 31

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.

Page 32

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.

Page 33

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.

Page 34

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.


(Click on photo to enlarge)


See page 74 of 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.


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.

Page 35

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.
Page 36

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

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.

Page 38

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.

Page 39

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

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.

Page 40


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.

Page 41

                                                       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.

Page 42

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.

Page 43

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

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.

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.

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

Page 44

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.

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.

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.

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
Page 46

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:

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

Ed Tatarnic

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

‘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.

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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.

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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.

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*******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.

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.


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

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:
    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:

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.
(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!


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.

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:

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)





Page 98





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.



Source of photos and narrative:

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 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



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.


 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.

Hamby Lanny KIA NBD


The following message was posted by Gary Harding on 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. 


Page 104  **OPERATION CLIFF DWELLER – 1969**

Page 4-5                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           November 10, 1969

Story and Photos By Sgt K.C. Cullen


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.





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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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”.

MAJ, Infantry
Division Historian


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

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


Page 3                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           February 2, 1970

‘On-Timers’ Aid Operation Cliffdweller
Artillery Support Is The Name Of The Game

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 4 – 5                           TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS                           November 30, 1970

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

Stehno, Klema Czech Republic Ancestral Village Tour

Posted in Travel on December 21, 2008 by ivankatz

Our Trip to the Czech Republic, narrative by Shirley Hooper, photos by Ivan Katzenmeier and genealogical research by Jean Shanelec.

We left K.C. on time at 10:15 via Delta Air Lines Day 1, Thursday, June 21, 2001– Arrived
in Prague (Praha) on time at 8:00 A.M. [1:00 A.M. KS time]Praha airport

Our Czech guide, Jana, met us all and boarded us on a large bus and introduced us to our driver, Frantisek.

On the route into Prague from the northwest, we drove past Bila Hora, White Mountain, which is the site of the famous battle between the Roman Catholic Habsburgs and the protestant Hussite Czech Army on November 8, 1620. The Czech army was defeated, and Bohemia became a de facto province of Austria.

Since our rooms were not yet ready, she took us on a long walking tour of part of Prague.strahov_klaster_big

strahov_klaster_LibraryPart of the walk took us to the 800 years old Strahov Premonstrate Monastery (Strahovsky Klaster) and we were able to have our first beautiful panoramic view of Prague. prague-castle-viewIt was a vast sea of red roofs and quite a site with all the spires from the different cathedrals, etc.
From there we walked to a beautiful court yard and on to the Presidential Palace ( Prague Castle and Hradcany).Presidential Palace courtyard Prague
We saw the palace guards march by and also the guards walking for the change of the guard. They are quite a sight, about five of them walk in a straight line and keep time with their rifle butts striking the cobble stones in rhythm.PresidentalGuardPragueCzechRepublic
We walked through the courtyard to the palace and out on a bridge that is over an old moat. As we were standing on the bridge, some one said, ‘here comes the President (Vaclav Havel).’ We were able to get a picture of his car as they drove past. Only three cars in the motorcade. Jana told us that the President lived in the Castle before the Communists took over in 1950, but the President now lives in his own house somewhere else in Prague and works in the castle.

They also receive foreign dignitaries there.
We were finally taken to our hotel where we got our very nice rooms. The only thing missing in the European Hotels are wash cloths. You must bring your own.
At 1:30, we were back on the bus for a trip downtown to the National Archives for a lecture on Genealogy. They explained how they keep their records and how researchers can look up someone’s ancestry and know exactly where they lived, were christened and where they migrated.

National Archives Prague
We then went back to the hotel to prepare for the two and half hour dinner cruise up the Vltava River. This was our initiation to the wonderful Czech buffet and entertainment. This time the entertainment consisted of accordion music.prague-vltava-river-cruises

There was some misty rain, but not enough to interfere with anything for dampen anyone’s spirits. On the top deck of
the ship, we were able to see a wonderful view of Prague.

karlov-most-charles-bridgeWe went under the St. Charles bridge, and could see many historical buildings and cathedrals on the shore.


Praha,_Letná,_MetronomOn the skyline is a large metronome, which was constructed on 1991. It is lit up at night and makes a striking image against the night sky. It was built on the site of a gigantic statue of Stalin, which was blown up in 1961.stalin-letna-prague2

Then it was back to the hotel for a good night’s rest.
Day 2, Friday, June 22–
After a huge buffet breakfast at 6:30 A.M., we boarded the bus for Straznice via Brno, the second most important city in Czech Republic.
On the way to Straznice we visited the Moravsky Kras caves, at Punkevni.

This area is called the Moravian Karst, which is a beautiful heavily wooded hilly area north of Brno, carved with canyons and honeycombed with some 400 caves, created by the underground Punkva River.

Groups of 75 people are admitted to the caves every 20 minutes.

We walked 1km (.6 mile) through the deepest caves, admiring the stalactites and stalagmites, ending up at the foot of the Macocha Abyss.

There we boarded a small boat for a 400-meter ride down the Punkva River out of the cave.

Traces of prehistoric humans have been found in the caves.

Punkva caves in Moravian Karst


Punkva cave stalagmites in the Masaryk Dome.


Boat ride on the 40 meter deep underground river Punkva, exiting the Moravian Karst cave.


Took a tram up to the top of the Mt. and then on up to the top of a tower via elevator or stairs.

We had a great view of the city.

we visited Moravsky Krumlov castle which housed the gallery of the Mucha’s giant paintings “Slovanic Epopej”.

These paintings were about 24 feet square and depicted a story of the Slovic life and history.


The guide was very soft spoken and it was difficult to understand what she said, but the paintings were beautiful. We weren’t allowed to take pictures.  These photos are from the internet.


From the castle we continued on to Uherske Hradiste for our hotel and dinner of pork tenderloin, shredded cabbage, carrots and unique potato patties.

We went to the opening night dances at the Czech festival in Straznice.  They were very interesting and quite colorful. Wonderful for photos.Czech festival Dancers in Straznice

We returned to the hotel about 11:30 P.M. Very tired after such a long day.
Day 3, Saturday, June 23–

Up early for another buffet breakfast then off for the Festival via visiting another huge Lichtenstein castle in Lednice.

Lichtenstein Chateau

The Lichtensteins, at first a poor but belligerent family of Austrian origin, enlarged their domain by diplomatic skill, and war-services, by taking full advantage of the confiscations after the Battle of the White Mountain and by conscious economic policy.

Lednice has been the property of this family until the end of the second world war, with the exception of a five-year interval in the 16th century.

At the end of World War II, this property was confiscated by the state, because of the family’s cooperation with the Nazis.
They are suing the government for the return of their property. After the communists lost power, all property that was confiscated by the communist government was returned to the prior owners, except for those families who cooperated with the Nazis.

This castle appeared to me more like a huge palace with court yard and beautiful gardens, etc.


The large rooms inside were covered with beautiful oak carvings covering the walls and ceilings. moravian-lichtenstein-chateau-3191



It is famous for the beautiful free standing spiral staircase that is suppose to be made from one oak tree.

It goes from the ground floor up to the second floor.


It is pretty much restored on the inside, but the out side still looks very run down.

All buildings, etc. in the Czech Republic look very run down as everything was let go during the 40 years of Communist’s rule. They are in the process of trying to restore all public buildings and are doing a good job, but they are so massive that it takes a long time. Visited the gift shop briefly and the toilet. It costs 7 Crowns (less than 20 cents) to use their toilet facilities.


Then it was back to Straznice for the festival.


Everyone was dressed in their native costume representing their district or area.



We went to the different arenas and listened to the music and saw the different cultural dances. straznice-dancing-501





At 3:00 we went to the town square for the parade. That was very colorful as well.

Ivan, Larry and Ona skipped the parade and attended a pavilion that featured the Czech dance finals, which was quite a show.


We left about 5:30 to go on to dinner in the Flag hotel restaurant


and to a wine tasting event, which included cheese, pretzels, and rye bread and accordion music. It was interesting to see how they store their wine.Petrov wine cellar

In Petrov
(3km south-west of Straznice) the cellars are partially underground; in Vlcnov they are more like huts. At Prusanky, 8km west of Hodonin, the wine cellars constitute virtually a separate village.
Then, it was back to the hotel after another late night. We all were quite tired by then.


Another large breakfast buffet at the  Hotel Grand in Uherske Hradiste, then boarded the bus for the final part of the festival at Straznice.

In the festival pavillion were non Czech entertainers, such as the Gypsys and other ethnic groups performing their traditional songs and dances.

The festival went on all day, but we had to leave by noon and go on to CESKE BUDEJOVIC with a stopover in TELC to see the local Renaissance chateau and on to the village of KOJAKOVIC.


We visited Telc, which lies at the midpoint of the old King’s route from Vienna to Prague. It is the best preserved Renaissance town north of the Alps and was recently added to the UNESCO list of international heritage sights.

We walked through a tiny arch and there it was, the Telc square in all its magnificence!


Telc is an architectural and artistic ensemble of exceptional quality.

Its triangular marketplace also possesses rich cultural importance because it is surrounded by intact or well-preserved Renaissance buildings with a striking array of facades.


At the end of the Middle Ages in Central Europe, planned communities were established in the midst of regions of complete forest for reasons of political control and economic expansion; Telc is one of the best surviving examples of this tradition.KojakovicePeasantMuseum

Next we visited The Kojakovice Peasant Museum and Information Center, in Kojakovice.

The museum focuses on how the farmers and peasants lived and worked in previous centuries in this rural part of South Bohemia, of which Kojakovice is a typical example.

Ultimately, the museum will include traditional working and living places like old farmhouses, a blacksmith shop, and a school. Initially, the exhibitions focus on the period around the Revolution of 1848 till the first World War (1914-1918), when the Czech lands were still part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The revolution was suppressed, but the Empire had to concede many concessions, including abolishing serfdom and allowing larger personal freedom. Its impact is shown most strikingly in the large numbers of Czechs emigrating to America. See below for more on this subject.

Grande Zvon in Ceske BudejoviceOur hotel was the beautiful Grande Zvon in Ceske Budejovice (Bud Weiser) overlooking a beautiful courtyard and fountain. All the buildings were on a square and quite colorful. Many are newly restored and some are in the process.

Day 5, Monday, June 25–

After a breakfast in the hotel, we got in a van and car with Robert Dulfer and his friend Olga to go to Jilovice, Lipnice, and other villages to visit the ancestral villages of the Rezab and Lilak families.


The villages houses were small with red roofs. Our first stop was at what is considered the Lilak village, Lipnice #27 where Alzbeta Psotka was born on October 19, 1805.   She married Simon Lilak in Jilovice on February 23, 1824.  They are buried in the Wilson Cemetery, Wilson, Kansas.

The Lilaks and Klemas are related to the Stehnos by marriage.  Ludvig Stehno, married Marie Rezab, daughter of John Rezab and  Marie Lilak.  Marie is the daughter of Simon and Alzebeta  (Psotka) Lilak.  Agnes Stehno married John Klema.   CLICK CHART TO ENLARGE.




The building has not been restored.  A man was there  who went into the house. We didn’t get to talk to him.   At the back of the house was the remains of an old horse drawn sleigh that would have been used in the snow.


004 HRACHAVISTE 23We then went on to Hrachoviste #23,  home of Mariana Mraz,  born about 1709 mother of Simon Lilak.  She married Lukas Lilak in Mladosovic, March 24, 1789.    He later died circa 1843 in Veska No. 9.

It is located in a beautiful village and a direct descendant of the original family is living there. We visited with her and took pictures of all the cousins together.   She had an original scythe there and they all had to have their picture taken with IT.  HRACHAVISTE 23 SYCTH The house originally built in 1785 has been restored and is lovely.   It has a nice court yard in the middle as it is built on a square with the barn attached, etc. There was a pretty flower garden in the front of the house.


Next, it was on to the Kojackovice village and the Rozenberk Society Immigrant museum, founded by Robert, Olga and other supporters.


They are restoring an old school house and are providing two computers for students to work with.

We were introduced to the mayor of the town and a city councilman. She showed us some ledgers that had the Rezab name in it and we took pictures of her and the councilman in the city hall.


From there we visited with Adolph Rezab in this home.

Rezab Home in Kojakovice Guide Robert Dulfer, Adloph Rezab, and Guide’s Friend Olga

Adolph and his wife were quite excited to welcome us, although they didn’t know we were coming.

They invited us into their beautiful courtyard and served us orange and raspberry soda.005 KOJAKOVICE ADOLPH REZAB HOME

Their place is also built on a square with the barn, wood shop, and machine shop on the far end.


There were some little chicks there in the barn that kept getting out and Mrs. Rezab kept shooing them back in.

Mr. Rezab said he would have entered  his father’s vocation as a carpenter,  but the Communists made him work in a brewery. He made the famous Pilsner Urquell beer (they say is better than the Budweiser Beer).

He showed us a book that he is keeping records in.


I have a picture and the first page although I can’t read the date, but I thought he said it started in 1575 or there about.

From there we went to the Rezab’s church in Jilovice, where Marie Rezab would have been baptised.


It was beautifully decorated and smelled of roses when we went in, as there were so many bouquets of them sitting at the altars.


Rezab Church in Jilovice – Rev. Larry M in the Pulpit


Olga told us the building dated back to the 1300’s and under the wooden floor you could see the old concrete or rock floor. The present building was built in the 1600’s.

The gardeners were mowing the grass outside with their mower that looks like two weed eaters on wheels. It made an interesting picture as well.

Visited the birthplace of Marianna [Marie] Rezab. The house number 53 in Vesca.


roll-7-vesca-53-marie-rezabs-birthplaceErrol H, Ivan K, Pep S, and Ona M.

Visited in Tesinov and the Rezab family home which dates back to 1534.


It has been restored by some people from Prague.

People from Prague like to come to the country for a summer home. There is a creek in the back of the house that Robert said would have had a mill on it. There are no sign of the mill today.

011 BROUSEK MILLWe also stopped at the Brousek mill and took pictures.

They are still using a part for making of lumber. The old part is abandoned. There were living quarters in the second story to the right of the old door with the inscription above it. The inscription reads, ‘Matthew Hepiel AKA Brousek, A blessing on this (remodeled mill ), 1830.’  CLICK TO ENLARGEREZAB ANCESTORAL TREE HIGHLIGHTED

As we were driving around to some of the Rezab houses we would pass by some large ponds that Robert explained were for raising their famous carp. Each year at the appropriate time they pull the plug at the bottom and drain the pond. It makes it easier to gather in the carp. They start over the next year. They have been doing it this way for centuries.

On the way back to our hotel, Robert took us to the famous walled city of Cesky Krumlov.Cesky Krumlov

Cesky Krumlov is the largest castle complex in central Europe. Dating back to the 13th century., it hovers over a charming,  medieval town on the banks of the Vltava river. The entire town and the castle are under UNESCO protection. It is only 35 minutes south by bus from Ceske Budejovice.

Ceske Budejovice, lying at the confluence of the Rivers Vltava and Malse, was founded in 1265 by order of King Premysl Otakar II and was undoubtedly expected to provide strong support for royal power in this region.

Cesky Krumlov’s Old Town is almost encircled by the River Vltava, Cesky Krumlov is a jewel of historical architecture in Southern Bohemia. Known as Krumau in German, the name of the town comes from the German for a place on a crooked meadow, and the first written reference to the town in 1253 refers to it as Chrumbenouwe.

The Cesky (Czech for Czech) part was added in the 15th century.

Lying close to the Germany and Austria, the town was always a mix of German and Czech residents, until 1938, when the Germans occupied the area, and then 1945, when the German residents were forced to leave.

The year 1302 was to be a major turning point for the town. This was the year that the Rozmberk family of nobility came into possession of the town, and bestowed upon it the benefits only a powerful family could bring. The town received certain privileges, buildings were built, commerce and culture flourished, and the town grew in importance.

The town’s architecture still reflects this period of affluence, especially in its Renaissance buildings. In 1494, the town was even granted Royal status.

The Latran quarter, which includes the castle, and the inner Old Town, were joined together in 1555 by Vilem of Rozmberk.

But this period would come to an end in 1602, when the aging Peter Vok of the Rozmberks was forced to sell off the Cesky Krumlov estate to the Emperor, Rudolph II. This meant that the town was no longer the seat of its overlord, and it fell into the status of backwater again.

Soon after, in 1613, the town was taken when troops from nearby Passau in Germany invaded Bohemia, and then, of course, came the Thirty Years’ War.

The town was occupied first by Imperial forces, then Bavarian, and then in 1648, Swedish, and all the money spent to keep the town from being razed to the ground over the years left it financially ruined.

The town passed to the Eggenberk family in 1622, and then to the more powerful Schwarzenberks in 1719, who also made the town their seat.

Though the town didn’t prosper as much under their rule, but there was still some construction completed.

Much of this took place in the castle, which was built into the second largest in Bohemia, behind only that in Prague.

We strolled through part of the city, mostly “shops and tourists traps” and took the steep walk up through the castle, etc.

Masne Kramy RESTAURANTWe were ready to head to the hotel by then, but had to stop by the restaurant, Masne Kramy, for our dinner: pork, loaf style and carp for the appetizer.

They had a wonderful dumpling with a berry sauce and whipped cream for dessert. We walked back to the hotel.

Day 6, Tuesday, June 26–

Today we left for West Bohemia via Pisek and Domazlice where we visited the famous church in Lomecek. This church was out in the country and run by about 25 nuns. It was quite ornate on the inside. Many of the carved figurines were of wood made to look like gold. It had been left in ruins after the Communists rule of 40 years, but they are getting it all restored. The nuns had been put in prison for part of the time that the Communists were in power.

Pisek_BridgeAt Pisek, we briefly visited the stone bridge The oldest remaining bridge in the country, it was evidently built before the end of the 13th century. It is 111 meters long and had defense towers on both banks, which have not been preserved. The bridge is decorated with statues of St. John of Nepomuk, St.  Anne, St. Anthony of Padua and the Christ crucifixion. The bridge is part of the national heritage.


Kolonáda, Mariánské Lázn?, Bayern, DeutschlandWe stopped in the spa town of Marianske Lazne and bought the special kind of mugs that are used for drinking the spa mineral waters. The musical fountain went off at 5:00 P.M.

Tepla2After the show we boarded the bus for the Monastery in Tepla where we would spend the night at the hotel Klasterni Hospic. klasterni-senkThe old huge barn has been converted into a hotel. Our room was up in the loft section. It was quite quaint and interesting.

Day 7, Wednesday, June 27–
We toured the church and library of the Monastery. Most of the Monastery is in a very run down condition, but is slowly being restored. There are 18 of the original monks still living there.

From there we toured the spa city of Karlovy Vary (German name, Karlsbad).  Karlovy VaryWe walked to the many different mineral waters and tasted each. They are at varying degrees of temperature and are suppose to be good for different parts of the body; such as, the liver, stomach, etc.
It is the most famous Bohemian spa. It was named for the Bohemian king and German and Holy Roman emperor Charles (Karl) IV who allegedly found the springs in 1358 during a hunting expedition. In the 19th century, royalty came here from all over Europe for treatment. Among the rich and famous who visited Karlsbad are Goethe, Schiller, Beethoven, Chopin, and Karl Marx.

.Karlovy Vary View

Fodor’s Eastern Europe, in 1994, said of Karlovy Vary: “The shabby streets of modern Karlovy Vary, though, are vivid reminders that those glory days are long over. Aside from a few superficial changes, the Communists made little new investment in the town for 40 years; many of the buildings are literally crumbling behind their beautiful facades.”

Based on what we saw, a lot has been done to renovate many of the buildings.

The river entering the hot springs creates fog. The spring shoots 40 feet into the air. The communists built the Yuri Gagarin Colonnade for it, a rather ugly modern structure.

More than 60 hot springs have been found here and 12 are used in spa treatment. The springs, which vary in temperature from 34 to 73 degrees C, are used in drinking cures and for baths.

Peter's Height Karlovy VaryThere are some interesting buildings on the hillside above the river. On the plateau called Peter’s Height. Peter the Great is said to have carved his initials in a wooden cross on the hill.

The facades of most of the houses are decorated with stucco.
lidice_children_Memorial_lidice_420610_enWe visited the Ledice Memorial, the site of the former village of Ledice, where all of the men, 15 years of age and older were murdered and the women and children were sent to death camps, in 1942, by the Nazis in retribution for the assassination of the Nazi governor of Bohemia, Reinhard Heydrich, whose sadistic and brutal reputation was unrivaled among the Nazi leadership. All the buildings, including the houses, churches, etc. were destroyed by the Nazis. A visitor’s center at the site presents a movie of the act and pictures of the men and women who lost their lives.

Day 8,Thursday, June 28–
In the morning, we went on a half day city tour of Prague including old town and the Prague Castle. St_Vitus Prague



st-vitus-cathedral-newOn the grounds of Prague Castle is a cathedral called St. Vitus Cathedral, which we walked through. The cathedral has the remains of many historical figures, such as the tomb St Wenceslas, the royal mausoleum of Ferdinand I who died in 1564, prague-st-vitas-tomb-of-st-john-nepomukSt. John Nepomuk’s tomb crafted of solid silver, and the royal tomb of Charles IV.

In the afternoon we traveled to the Castle of Sychrov.sychrov-castle


is located in north-eastern part of Bohemia. The building has the shape of closed tetragon. It was owned by the Rohan family. It was reconstructed in 19th century in romantic gothic style. The interior also reflects the form of the second half of 19th century. Composers Antönin Dvorak and Josef Suk often stayed in the castle. Sychrov is also surrounded by beautiful and large English park.sychrov-castle inside

The castle’s interiors are decorated by well-known miniaturist Jan Zacharias Onast, sculptor Emanuel Max or painter Josef Hellich. On the walls and ceilings are richly carved veneers (by Petr Busek) – especially remarkable is the carved ceiling in castle dining-room and also a library which contains over 7000 volumes stored in carved cases. Very famous is a collection of oil-paintings – it is a biggest collection of portraits in Middle Europe. Also there are interesting collections are those of porcelain and glass. As a reminder of Antonin Dvorak who often visited the castle there was established a little museum of him.


granat-in-praha-1_28_456x370turnov-galerie-granat-395 Then we traveled to Turnov for a visit or buying time at the Garnet factory.

Prague ufleku tavernIn the evening we returned to Prague for a Dinner that night in the Brewery Hall U Fleku, which is the oldest in Prague. It seats 1200 people. Music was provided with the accordion and an unusual instrument.

Day 9, Friday, June 29–

Traveled in a van to villages of the Stehno & Bouska ancestors of Ludvig Stehno: Frantisky, Bilek, Chotebor and Marieves.006 ROUZENA - FRANTISKY'S HISTORIAN

Went to Frantisky where all the Bouskas lived. Met first with Ruzena Tepla, one of the three permanent residents of Frantisky.  She acted as our hostess, serving us coffee, then took us to the different houses. They are spread quite a ways apart. The farmers were cutting and stacking hay. Some were baling it.





007 FRANTISKY 17 inside roomWe saw Frantisky house #17 and met Ann (Bouska) Nunvar, the owner.  Anna Nunvar was born in this house in 1801.  CLICK CHART TO ENLARGENUNVAR TO STEHNO TO KLEMA FAMILY TREE














We also saw  the church where Bouska ancestors were christened and two cemeteries where some were buried.  The Frantisky village belonged to thePusta Kamenice parish church.

LUDWIG STEHNO FAMILY 2 NAMEDBilek is where Grandfather Ludvig Stehno was born. Took pictures of house #49. Visited with the man living there now. He has restored it. His granddaughter and two other little girls were there. One of the girls spoke a little English. She was with two other girls who picked a bouquet of flowers for us.  The gentleman gave Jean original papers that showed ownership of the house.

013 MARIEVES #11014 MARIEVES #11


Next, we went to (Marieves) Prijemky where we visited the Kilian family.  They are Stehno descendants of a Frantisek Stehno (not  our ancestor Frantisek Stehno born in 1808) who married Anna Patek, Milada’s grandparents, all dates unknown. Frantisek and Anna’s daughter, Anna Stehno is Milada’s mother.  The Kilians  live on the original birthplace and home site of the of our ancestor, Frantisek Stehno, born 1808 in house #15.   House #15 burned, but the relatives rebuilt it and the new house is now #11.  MIlada Kilianova is our  Stehno relative. Her husband’s name is Josef Kilian. They have a son, daughter-in-law, Mary who speaks a little English and children Andy and Paula. These are the American names. They knew we were coming and had open faced sandwiches and cold drinks for us. Malada was recovering from foot surgery after breaking her heel.

After, we visited the Stehno & Bouska villages, Ivan, Ona and Larry departed with
Josef Zoefl and the rest of us returned in the van back to Prague.

Dinner that night was at a local restaurant Staroprazska restaurace.

Day 10, Saturday, June 30–

This was a free day for some, while others went on a trip to the villages.

Dwayne and Shirley went with Pep and Jean on the subway down to the square. We shopped along the way and walked to the Karly Most (St Charles) bridge, which is the most famous bridge in Prague. There were many venders on the bridge selling their wares and it was quite crowded. On the way back we had a light lunch at one of the restaurants. We sat on the street and listened to a large band play while we ate.

Ivan, Ona and Larry visited Busin, the village of the Klemas, and Hosterlitz (Hostice) village of the Vejnos family (Albert Klema’s wife’s family), via the town of Litomysl, where we stayed on Friday night with our guide and interpreter, Joseph Zoefl.

This is Litomysl.014 LITOMYLSL


We met the Cikryt family, Milan, Martina, Ludmila and Antonin. Antonin is a (great?) nephew of Stepanka Klemova. Stepanka is Antonin’s grandmother Hedvika (Klemova) Janku are sisters.  See family tree below.

We were invited to enter the ancestral home, which was vacant and planned to be torn down. 008 busin 90Then we went to Antonin and Ludmila’s home to look at some old photographs, drink plum brandy and eat sausages. 008 cheersI presented them with the greeting card that was signed by those attending the Klema reunion a few weeks age at Wilson. Also I showed them pictures of the Klema reunion. Their old photographs had no names, but I recognized the Vejnos’ family in the pictures. Also they had pictures taken in Wilson, Kansas, but they had no idea who the people were. We labeled as many of the pictures for them as we could, and promised to send more information to them as we identified persons in the pictures. Ona took pictures of the old photographs with her digital camera. It was around noon, and we had to leave.

Near the end of our visit, a letter was given to us written by a Ladislav Klimes, a retired animal fiber merchant, living south of Prague. He invited us to call him.  He is related to  Stepanka Klemova, who he refers to as his aunt.  011

Although I had written the Mayor of Busin. We did not have time to meet him. Upon my return to Kansas I found he had sent me a letter with two pictures of Busin, and indicated he was looking forward to our visit.


This is the Klema family tree.  CLICK TO ENLARGE.


See family tree.  These are the grave stones of Stepanka Klemova, the last resident of House #90, and Hedvika (Klemova) Janku, whose daughter married a Cykryt, and their son, Antonine Cykryt, we visited in Busin.  He owns the Klema ancestral home #90.





013 Klemova Janku graves


We took a quick trip through the villages of Hostice and Hrabenov, and then headed for Prague. On the way to Prague, we made a quick stop at Kutna Hora, and took pictures of the great cathedral of St. Barbara. 006 Kutna Hora Church


006 Kutna Hora Flying ButressesThe church has three steeples and flying buttresses. It was constructed by Peter Parler who constructed St. Vitus cathedral in Prague.

The farewell dinner that night was at the restaurant U Pelikana. Live music was provided that included dancers, singers, and musicians.004 2

Day 11, Sunday, July 1–

Jana took us by bus to the airport. All went their separate directions.

Ivan Dwayne and Shirley were together again on the return trip to the US.

On the flight from Prague to NY, I was seated next to a blonde Russian, about 25 to 30 years old, by the name of Svetlana Mariochienschenko. She was from the Ukraine.  We conversed about life in the USSR under communism.

For her , life under communism, was very good. Her family lived very well, but now under capitalism, conditions are worse. But she was optimistic for the future. She planned to visit the US and work in Harrisburg Pennsylvania.

She had a folder indicating she was involved with the foreign exchange student program, but when I questioned her about her student status, she said she had a G1 visa but was vague about her intent to study in the US. She  had missionary friends, from Tulsa, whom she met in Russia. They were involved with an orphanage in Russia.

She also asked for help locating a man who had not written his 80 year old mother in Russia for 5 years. She said he had joined a ‘church,’ in the US and there has been no more contact with him. She took my e-mail address and promised to send me more information about him, after I offered to help her locate him. I told her that if he had joined a cult, it would be almost impossible to locate him, and he would probably not respond to any letters delivered to him by his mother, if he was involved in certain cults.

She was very teary eyed when I left the plane. She said she was nervous about being processed through US customs and immigration in NY.

We arrived in KCI about 11:30.


Posted in Viet Nam on November 2, 2008 by ivankatz

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 am indebted to Mr. Leonard for his excellent research and detailed account of this battle. His account, has been edited, revised and condensed to make it more readable for those readers without a knowledge of military terminology.

Within his narrative, I have inserted my account of the battle, based on my first hand experiences in the battle, as the Senior Medic for Company C, 3/22nd, 25th Infantry Division.  I am inserting narratives by Marvin E. Branch, who was wounded during the battle and Jerry A. Headley, 3rd PLt LDR of B Troop, 3-4 Cavalry, 25th Infantry Division.  Also I wish to thank the combat artists for the battle scenes.  The story of this battle comes alive due to their artwork. Their names are listed by their works.

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.

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.

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 plans of our enemy, the Viet Cong, to ambush one of our supply convoys.

It was the  rainy season, with poor visibility, and a low ceiling making flying of our helicopter gunships dangerous.  Initially, there was no available artillery in range of the ambush, to support our troops.

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.  Unfortunately, his warnings to the General proved to be prophetic!


On the night of 24 August 1968, a reinforced Viet Cong battalion of five 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.


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

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 of 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 ammunition 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 exploded.  This stalled the remainder of the convoy as the truck 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 thirty first truck in the convoy and rear  vehicle, 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 fired automatic weapons, threw grenades, and were supported by machine gun, and rocket propelled grenade (RPG) fire in an attempt to overrun our convoy drivers and take control of their trucks.

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

SSgt William Seay of the 62nd Transportation Company  was one of those drivers.

He had been driving a truck laden with artillery charges.