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1968 Daily Journal Highlights
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25th Aviation Battalion Battle Staff Log

Items of interest taken from the 1968 Staff Log.  All mortar and rocket attacks are noted if listed in log.
Little Bear aircraft are usually listed by aircraft number.  Diamondhead aircraft are seldom listed by number
but are usually listed by their pilots Call Signs such as DH10, DH20 or LFT for Light Fire Team
This compilation done to assist in research.  Items of interest can be found in the actual Staff Log Available on CD only at the date and time indicated.

The history project is underway. As I get first hand stories of the events of the day, they will be plugged into this daily Journal page. If you have stories of daily events please send them to me. It is the only way we can pull it off.

LB Scramble for Emergency Resupply of Katum
FSB Bert On Fire, Ammo Exploding  (I have a 9meg CBS un edited morning after video of this Battle)
FSB Bert aka Battle of Soui Cut
A 25th was heavily involved with the resupply efforts and dustoff of this battle see AAR at http://25thaviation.org
As of yet no one has stepped forward to write the story of it.

POL and Rearm on Fire

Missed Intelligence
By- Dave Henard
Ed Gore was flying the artillery forward observer courier on his rounds in the Diamondhead OH 23 on a clear day in late January, 1968. The Diamondhead 10 fire team was scrambled when Ed received fire from a wooded area about two clicks NE of Nui Ba Den. By the time we arrived on the scene a pair of our fastmovers had already dropped their ordinance on the offensive area. Ed left as soon as he briefed us since he was low on fuel.

Some Vietnamese locals were exiting the woods heading south. They looked like forced laborers to me, given all of the circumstances, so we circled and started rounding them up. After a few orbits, we had collected about 50 people including a few ox carts. A couple of them started to depart from the roadway that we encouraged them to take. I asked our doorgunner to lay down some M60 rounds in such a way that these dissenters would be encouraged to rejoin the others.

I radioed our Battalion Headquarters, explaining what we had. I told the folks in our Tactical Operations Center that I could hold these forced laborers for questioning at an old abandoned airfield that rested in the shadow of Nui Ba Den. I was asked to talk to the 3rd Brigade Headquarters in Dau Tieng since they were the closest unit to us. Our gunners had to offer more encouragement a couple of times, but we were making good progress along the route southwest to the abandoned airfield.

The 3rd Brigade contact was having a difficult time locating anyone who could help. It took a long time for him to contact me again and he asked if we could hold them for a while. I responded that we could, but that we would have to refuel one at a time once we got them to the airfield. I told my wingman to go to Tay Ninh for fuel while we held the group at gunpoint. We quickly learned that Vietnamese folks do not all share the same personality. When our doorgunner took off his helmet, one of the old women slapped at a man who was wearing a hat as she rattled off some choice words that apparently encouraged him to take off his hat. It must have been his wife since he complied. She was definitely trying to be congenial. A second old woman had a scow on that would shake up a wolverine. I'm not sure if she was Viet Cong or if she just really needed to take a dump. In any case, she bent over and took one whether we liked it or not. We got a pretty good laugh from this activity.

Our wing ship returned a few minutes later and took over guard duty while we took off to refuel at Tay Ninh. I used the opportunity and the altitude to radio back to 3rd Brigade to see what was happening. I was told to let them go. I couldn't believe it, so I asked if he was sure. He said that there was no one available and that no unit was available to hold them. We passed this along to our wing and left the area after refueling at Tay Ninh.

I guess that the incident was played back to General Mearns, since I was invited to the Division briefing that night. I guess that nearly every officer with a rank of Major or higher was there. I was one of a few Captains there. The 3rd Brigade officer of the day and all others involved in the decision to let these folks go without questioning were severely chewed upon that evening. I'd have to say that I have never seen a better job of ass chewing done before or since that evening.

DH170 and DH603 took numerous hits from mortar attack. 3 crew had minor wounds
Mortar Attack LB Orderly Room Hit, Shower hit, 1 UH1D damaged, NCO Club minor damage, Hq. Major Damage.
DH961 major damage to main and tail rotor from mortars, DH657 minor damage, OH808 2 minor holes
25th Aviation notified they will be receiving 3 UH-1H, 1 in Jan, 1 in Feb, and 1 in Mar. UH-1ds to be turned in.
DH? Compressor stall on sniff mission, jettisoned rocket pods
DH603 sheared trunnion, Pipesmoke from Tay Ninh
Mortar Attack
DH808 down NW of Mushroom XT576332, Pipesmokeed
Mortar Attack
Lost One Brave Diamondhead Today gunner PFC Ed Pike In Defense of Ton Son Nhut Air Base
Mortar Attack
Mortar Attack
LB631 Crashed inside Dau Tieng - Engine Failure, Pilot Bankhead has broken leg
Mortar Attack
Mortar Attack
Runway damage reported
LB118 has 20 holes, LB915 has 10 holes
DH1 received hits, down at Ton Son Nhut
Mortat Attack, HHC assembling reaction force
Mortar Attack
2 rounds in Bear Pit
Mortar Attack
Mortar Attack
Mortar Attack
Mortar Attack
Mortar Attack
Mortar Attack
Mortar Attack
Mortar Attack
DH708 at 12th Evac, Rocket Pod Exploded, Gunner hit - WIA
The First Days Of TET-68 The Year Of The Rat

By- Dave Henard

It was fairly obvious that some changes were occurring in the days leading up to January 31, 1968. We were scrambled to near-daily firefights for one thing. This brings back a memory of the gunship jockeys who teased me out of the 25th Battalion Headquarters TOC and into the right seat of a Charlie Model gunship. (I had served as the Battalion Signal Officer and Assistant S-3 for the three months prior to December 1967 after flying with the Little Bears for a couple of months) Capt. Reynolds was one of the encouragers. All of the pilots except Capt. Reynolds were within a month of DEROS and were due for replacement. Capt. Reynolds became the Company B (Diamondhead) Operations Officer soon after I took over the Diamondhead 10 light gunship fire team. I really wanted more flight time and enjoyed the camaraderie shared among the Diamondhead crews. I surely don't regret the day that I signed on. However, it continues to be a little amusing to me that we went from escorting an occasional Eagle flight or a Chinook heavy load drop-off while these guys were still in country in December '67 to the stuff that we flew daily once I finished my on-the-job training. I remember seeing the south part of Tay Ninh burn a week after I took over the Diamondhead 10 fire team. For night entertainment during the month of January, we flew counter-mortar. In retrospect, we could view the mortar attacks as preparation for the 122 mm rocket attacks that were on the way.

I was assigned the task of serving as a defense attorney for an E-5 from our Division in a court martial case during the month of January and was involved in a hearing on the morning of February 1, 1968 when the Tet Offensive was underway. Based upon my recollection, every one of our gunships took hits and was shot down or shot up that day. We had at least one or two crew member's wounded that day, but were fortunate in that we suffered but one KIA Ed Pike a crewchief on a slick. We had nothing to fly after that until February 5 when a replacement aircraft was brought out of depot maintenance. There were plenty of pilots, but no aircraft to fly until February 5. Having missed the excitement on the first day of the Vietnamese New Year, it was the Diamondhead 10 teams turn to standby on Primary on the 5th. The problem was that the team was comprised of one hog since we didn't have a second aircraft to complete the team. The first scramble call came quickly to our field phone in the scramble hooch. Division headquarters had put together a team by adding a wing ship from the Centaurs. We received the traditional call sign, in this case a command and control(CC) chopper, frequency, and coordinates through the field phone and scrambled with the traditional goal of being off the ground in three minutes. That was a challenge since we could not hover and had to take short hops out to the runway so that we could drag and bounce off to get clean air and translational lift. We almost made it on schedule most of the time. I got a kick out of the slick teams from the Little Bears. If they happened to be near the runway as they exited their take-off area, they would cheer us off the ground.

The location for this scramble was the village of Tan Hiep, between Cu Chi, Bien Hoa, and Saigon. The village contained what was left of a regiment of North Vietnamese soldiers and one of our wounded soldiers who was separated from the main force. I could see the tracks of one of our 25th Division Battalions on the outside of the village as we approached the site. The LTC who was circling in the CC chopper explained that withering enemy fire made it impossible to retrieve the wounded soldier and that most of the machine gun fire was coming from a large hooch that was easy to locate from his description. He said that that position contained about 40 enemy troops and that he wanted me to hit it.

When I started our initial gun run, it seemed like the entire village was shooting at us, including some heavy stuff. I knew that it wasn't proper to fire rockets during the break, but the shooting was so intense that I did it anyway. I figured that it would help our door gunner and crew-chief keep the NVA heads down during the break. Besides, we could have hit another enemy position since they were all over that village. I think that we were all glad that it was a bright day because we couldn't see the tracers that well. I didn't hit the hooch until the third pass. When I did, we got a secondary explosion. The wing ship from the Centaurs had broken off earlier. He explained later that it was simply too hot. I'll have to admit that I went nearly blank with the obsession to hit that hooch. It was not a good place to be flying around.

I woke up a little after we made the hit and when the CC commander gave up a good deal of praise for doing so. I made two more runs at additional targets and hit those as well before we took the first serious hit. A 12.7 mm round hit two rockets it the starboard rocket pod, causing them to explode. Our door gunner took some scrapnel into his leg from the busted pod. He let us know that he was hit. The chopper was in a crab since the two rockets were still burning in the pod. The entire instrument panel lit up and we lost our radios immediately. It took me a short time to make the assessment that the explosion had probably cut through the wiring harness, causing the panel to light up. After deciding that the ship would probably continue to fly, we pulled off and I jettisoned the rocket pods as soon as we got away from the village and could get low enough to see where they were going to hit when I dropped them.
We headed straight for the 25th Infantry Divisions Hospital pad at Cu Chi. I couldn't radio the tower of course, so we all looked carefully to be sure that we weren't interfering with anyone's final approach. The helipad team from the hospital was very reluctant to bring out the stretcher. The gapping hole in the side of the chopper was still smoking and was easy to see since I had landed so that the door gunner was on their side. I motioned several times for them to come on out before they finally did. Once they got XXXXXXX(our door gunner) inside, he was patched up quickly.
The XXXXX Battalion was able to get the wounded soldier out of Tan Hiep while we were still on site or soon thereafter, so this story ends up well. I still have s real problem with the number that Oliver Stone did on the 25th Infantry Division with his fabricated “Platoon.” I certainly do not believe that we knowingly left a single man in the hands of the enemy. In fact, every effort was consistently made to do otherwise.
Dave Henard
Lt. Henard at the time

DH210 Smokey took hits
Mortar Attack
Mortar Attack
Mortar Attack
Mortar Attack
Mortar Attack
Mortar Attack
Mortar Attack
LB142 Mayday - down at 7296 - AC shot down XS573934, Crew out and safe
Mortar Attack
Mortar Attack
Mortar Attack
Mortar Attack
Mortar Attack
Mortar Attack
Mortar Attack
Mortar Attack
Mortar Attack
Mortar Attack
Mortar Attack
Mortar Attack
Mortar Attack
OH23D #6312867 hit tree at XT849052
DH6 engages sanpan at XT670971 sanpan destroyed, 2 KIA
LB615 fires on friendly troops after being fired upon at XT710095  3WIA
Mortar Attack
Rocket Attack
Rocket Attack
DH10 2 of 12 rockets exploed 50ft in front of aircraft
LB628 Down to unk Cause at XT712070, Pipesmoked
Disturbance at NCO club, Sgt Fannin, Alexander, Shaffer, and Harvey
Mortar Attack
DH LFT fired on US troops, unk casualties
Mortar Attack
DH961 hit tree, chin bubble out
Mortar Attack
Mortar Attack
Mortar Attack
Mortar Attack
DH808 took 2 rounds through chin bubble no injuries
Cu Chi Under Assault

There were several ways to know that Vietnam changed from the wet (monsoon) season to the dry season.  The easiest was to observe that the ground changed from mud 12 inches deep to dust 12 inches deep.  Also, there were no more thunderstorms to fly around and the prevailing winds changed so that we had a crosswind from the south across our Cu Chi runway.  We were in the middle of what was called Operation Saratoga during the month of March 1968.

 The North Vietnamese soldiers were somewhat younger than they were during the initial phase of the Tet offensive and they were able to hit our choppers better.  The local Viet Cong guerilla fighters had almost been eliminated.  Our soldiers found diagrams showing the NVA troops how to lead the aircraft.  These drawings were found in some of the tunnels that were searched near Cu Chi.

 The three Diamondhead light gunship fire teams stayed busy and were either flying, reloading, refueling, eating, or taking short naps.  If we got a break from close air support for 25th Infantry Division units, Division Headquarters would send us out on a “sniffer” mission, often at night.  Later on, in the month of May, I don't think that I completed  one full-nights sleep.  We had a few pilots wounded during the May Offensive battles and could only man two gunship teams.  We also had plenty of rocket attacks to interrupt our sleep.  I believe that our 25th Aviation Battalion mess hall was hit by a rocket a total of three times between February and May.

The dry season crosswind presented us with some problems.  It was really easy to run out of left rudder (anti-torque pedal to be more accurate) with a loaded Charlie model and a tail wind.  We were always heavily loaded on return since we had just rearmed and refueled.  I nearly lost one as I tried to position it in the counter-mortar bunker after wrestling it all the way from the runway.  That was all that I needed.  From that day on, I backed the ship up from the runway, with the door-gunner and the crew chief giving directions.  I noticed that some of the other pilots were doing the same thing after a week or so.  This may have been my greatest contribution to the Diamondheads as we neared the end of the Charlie model era.  One pair of Cobras had already arrived.  CWO Grinnell was one of the new Cobra pilots and was a favorite with all of us.

A major battle took place right on the edge of Cu Chi and the fighting was intense.  The Diamondhead 10 light fire team was scrambled to provide some close fire support on the edge of the village.  We heard that there were two badly wounded American soldiers down early after we got in position.  Our ground units were doing all that they could to hold off the NVA/LF unit that was engaged.  The word was that it was too hot for the Dust Off team to go in for these two soldiers.  I had a great respect for the job that the dust off teams did, but that red cross on the chin bubble just made a great target for the NVA.  The NVA didn't care that these aircraft carried no weapons.

The LZ was inside of Cu Chi and was really tight.  We were warned that there were aerial wires inside of the limited perimeter around the vacant lot where they were going to pop smoke.  I told them that we would go in once I had fired the rest of my rockets.  We held back some M60 ammo in case we had to return fire going in or out.  My wing-man was also going to cover our approach, and he did.  I saw the wires crossing our path when I was on short final.  The tail rotor barely made it over as we made a steep descent.  As we crossed this wire, I was thinking about how we would ever get out of here with two more people on board and no room for a take-off.

I guess that pilots throughout the history of aviation have had to learn to overcome challenges brought on by every aircraft in extreme conditions of one sort or another.  Gunship pilots learn to make very minute cyclic control movements to preserve the ground cushion during hover and take-off.  The heavily loaded condition also forces them to be smooth in all such maneuvers.  This experience really paid off for me during this take-off.  After backing up as far as we could in this small vacant lot, we took off in a classic but steep flight school take-off.  We bled off RPM but didn't go below red line. The front edge of our skids cleared the wire by inches.  Our door gunner and crew chief had to provide some covering fire as we ascended since we were low and slow, were receiving fire, and were beyond the area that our forces held.   I didn't stay around to see if the aircraft had taken any hits when we put it back in the bunker.  None went through the cabin and none of us were hit.  I usually didn't check on this because I really didn't want to know.  I told several radio operators to quit telling us that we were receiving fire.  I always explained that we had our hands full already.  They were trying to be nice and warn us, but it really didn't help that much.  Our job was to hit the targets that we were told to hit.

It was a short distance to the 25th Division Hospital pad, so we got those guys some medical attention quickly after our takeoff.

Dave Henard
Lt. Henard at the time

A and B company area receives AW fire
All missions late due to early morning Ground Fog
DH829 took 5 rounds had to be pipesmoked
LB080 Down at Tay Ninh due to transmission and power failure
Mortar Attack
LB 622 Down at XT782122, rolls on side, burning.  Crew out and recovered by LB 628
Mortar Attack
LB 577 took 10-15 schrapnel hits in Bear Pit
Bunker officer states Bunker 65 has 122 rocket embedded in ground 30 meters from bunker.
Mortar Attack
Mortar Attack
LB 065 down east of Trang Bang XT529229, Crew uninjured
Mortar Attack
DH961 door blew off
DH 170 accidential discharge of 6 rockets, no damage.  WO1 Hayner, SP4 Harkenberg, SP5 Farren,
Sp4 Godfrey.  1 rocket hit 4th/9th mess hall
Mortar Attack - Incoming rounds hit Orderly room - 4 WIA
DH23 Pilot hit
Mortar Attack
Mortar Attack
Mortar Attack
LB Emergency resupply to Conex City
LB 634 down at VIP Pad due to FOD
Mortar Attack
Mortar Attack
Mortar Attack
LRRP 6 In Trouble Again

By-Dave Henard

    If I had to come up with any group that fit the expression “the epitome of looking for trouble” it would be the long-range recognizance patrol (LRRP).  These guys were from the ¾ Cav unit across the Cu Chi airstrip from us.  They normally got support from their own gunship unit, the Centaurs.  However, the Diamondhead 10 fire team from 25th Aviation Battalion was privileged to be called to their support twice during the month of May 1968.
     We appreciated the job that the LRRP team was doing since we had been getting rocket attacks from the Ho Bo and Boi Loi woods areas since before Tet.  Our mess hall had been messed up twice with direct 122 mm rocket hits by now.  The pots and pans with holes through them were piled high.  Our mess hall seemed to be reference point 1 since the next round usually hit near our gunships along the runway.  I can understand why Sir Charles did not like our gunships or those of the Centaurs.
    The second scramble called by LRRP 6 occurred late in the afternoon on the 11th of May 1968.  When I switched to the FM frequency that was phoned to the scramble hooch, and following my announcement as to whom we were and that we were two clicks from their position in the Ho Bo Woods, LRRP 6 whispered “hello old buddy.”  The situation quickly became serious after this bit of levity.  I knew that things were tense when he had to whisper.

    LRRP 6 explained that he was surrounded and could not pop smoke.  The VC/NVA were within hand grenade distance of his position in the bottom of a bomb crater.  He had to use a strobe light to mark his location.  The good news was that it was nearly dusk and we could see the strobe.  The bad news was that we had to get him out of there because he definitely did not want to spend the night surrounded by these bad guys.

    We set up our gun runs from an altitude of 200 feet because we had to put the rockets within 50 yards of his location.  A higher altitude would have been risky.  It was hot during the first few gun passes, and I don't mean the weather.  We exchanged gunfire with Sir Charles until my wing ship and I expended all of our rockets.  Near the end, there was nothing coming back at us.  Our doors gunners and crew chiefs also burned most of their 7.62 mm ammo during the process.  We circled the location until the slicks arrived.

    The extraction went fine. I'm sure that  LRRP 6 was able to find more trouble in the Cu Chi area  as soon as his number came up again.  Those guys definitely knew how to raise the adrenaline level.

DH815 took hits in tail rotor while in bunker
Mortar Attack, day room has minor damage
DH603 autorotates at XT792981, Crew, radios and guns out
DH31 (Wingman) puts door guns on friendly position, no mention of any WIAs
DH20 hit and down 500m NW Cu Chi, pilot wounded XT643215
Mortar Attack
DH10 gunner receives schrapnel wounds in face
Infiltrators inside the wire
Mortar Attack
LB 633 Hit by Ground Fire, down at Katum

Colonel's Chopper Hits Fleeing VC; Kills Five

  3RD BDE - In a blazing exchange of gunfire, the gunners on the command helicopter of COL Leonard R. Daems Jr., CO of the 3rd Bde, killed five Viet Cong fleeing across a rice paddy.
   The five VC killed were credited to SP4 Louis R. Beam, Jr. of Lufkin, Tex. and SP4 Tony Grosso of Derby, Pa.
  The 20 minute engagement with an estimated force of 50 VC took place 30 kms northwest of Saigon.  It was part of a day long action by elements of Task Force Daems, which netted 183 enemy bodies.
  The task force consisted of the 4th Bn, 9th Inf; 4th Bn (Mech), 23rd Inf; and the 2nd Bn, 34th Armor.
   On a reconnaissance flight near the village of Bao Tre, COL Daems and crew members of his command ship spotted the enemy force. The door gunners of the “Little Bear” chopper of Co A, 25th Avn Bn, opened fire on the enemy, as the pilot, WO Clay Maxwell of Midland, Mich. and aircraft commander WO Alan E. Gould of Stroudsburg, Pa., maneuvered the ship into position.
   The VC answered with volleys of small arms fire and RPG rockets, while racing toward jungle cover nearby. Numerous tracers whizzed by the command chopper.
  While the enemy force fled in the direction of the jungle, COL Daems called in a cut-off force from the 4th Bn (Mech), 23th Inf, in an effort to head off the VC.

Rocket Attack
Rocket Attack
B Company reports possible sabotage to OH23 cooling fans
LB 577 down 6K north of Trung Lap - Excessive Tail Rotor vibration - Pipesmoke
LB 629 down at Trang Bang due to compressor stall
DH2 LFT hit by unk explosive, 1 WIA, enroute 12th Evac
DH210 examined, 1 large cal round hit rocket pod, exploded 1 rocket, shrapnel cuts bungee and m60 goes out
OH23 down at XT 625154
all ARVN compounds in vicinity of Cu Chi under attack.  Bunker line reinforced.
10 June

  CU CHI - A 25th Avn Bn gunship killed 25 Viet Cong and detained one while on its way to support an ARVN compound at Diamond Village near the Cambodian border.
  After the initial assault, pilot CWO George A. Grinnell of Berkeley, Calif., swooped his Huey in low. He and his co-pilot WO Robert E. Hayner of Wichita Falls, Texas, spotted two VC scuttling into a foxhole.
   A hail of bullets from door gunner SP5 Bill Caubeaon, Ellwood City, Pa., brought one of the enemy out to surrender. The chopper landed and picked up the suspect with his AK-47.
   While enroute back to Cu Chi, the detainee told Grinnell, who speaks Chinese, that he was Cambodian, and that the VC had pressed him to fight.
  Later, he was turned over to the ARVNs.
DH11 takes two hits , all normal, DH10 confirs one hit
DH10 recieves intense 50 cal fire off Cu Chi
DH10 receive hits, neg injuries, continuing mission
DH111 and DH 174 both receive hits at XT5023
OH23 #317 down at XT 6443 Engine Failure
DH961  Reports CS canister exploded in ship
Viking C&C crashed on Takeoff at Viking VIP pad Tan Son Nhut.  Crew OK, extensive damage to undercarriage
DISCOM informs BTOC that 9th VC Div supported by local VC and 200 122 Rockets have orders to attack
Cu Chi July 22-29. With orders to hold Cu Chi for 2 days
DH? Down at XT7516 loss of oil pressure
Major General Ellis W. Williamson, new 25th Infantry Division Commander, assumed command during ceremonies held at Cu Chi Saturday morning, August 3, 1968.
He replaces Major General F. K. Mearns, who moves to Saigon to become Deputy Commander, II Field Force and Commanding General, Capital Military Assistance Command.
General Williamson was born in Raeford, North Carolina on June 2, 1918. Through high school and college, he was a member of the 120th Infantry Regiment, North Carolina National Guard.
Upon graduation from Atlantic Christian College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1940, he entered the Federal Service with his unit.
General Williamson remained with the 120th Infantry Regiment throughout World War II serving in rank from Private to Colonel. Following commissioning as a Second Lieutenant of Infantry in March, 1941, he served as a commander at platoon, company, battalion and regimental level and as a battalion and regimental staff officer. He was regimental Commander at the time of the unit's return to state control in January, 1946.
The same year, he was integrated into the Regular Army. For three years he was an instructor of tactics at the Infantry School. He graduated from the Command and General Staff College in 1950 and was assigned to Headquarter X Corps in Korea. He participated in the amphibious landing at Inchon as Assistant Operations Officer, X Corps, later becoming Operations Officer.
General Williamson was assigned in 1952, to the Office of the Army Chief of Staff, next attended the Armed Forces Staff College, and then returned to Washington for duty in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
He assumed command of the 13th Infantry Regiment at Fort Carson, Colorado, in 1956 and took this unit to Germany on Operation Gyroscope. After 27 months as Regimental Commander, he became Chief of the Training Division, Headquarters, 7th U.S. Army. He returned home to qualify as a parachutist and attend the National War College.
Following three years in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel at Department of the Army, General Williamson assumed command of the 173d Airborne Brigade (Separate) upon its activation in Okinawa in July 1963. He organized and trained this unit for its mission as Pacific Theatre Reserve Force during the next two years.
After extensive training on the Pacific islands of Okinawa, Taiwan, Irimote, and the Philippines as well as in Korea and Thailand, General Williamson's brigade, in May, 1965, became the first U.S. Army ground combat unit to enter the conflict in Vietnam.
Under his command, the 173d Airborne Brigade (Separate) participated in actions designed to protect friendly installations and to destroy enemy forces in the Bien Hoa-Vung Tau-Ben Cat areas and into the mountain plateau areas of Pleiku and Kontum.
In addition to the 173d Airborne Brigade (Separate), General Williamson's command in Vietnam included all Australian and New Zealand combat elements, plus some Vietnamese units.
He served in five campaigns in Europe during World War II and seven during the Korean conflict.
General Williamson assumed command of the U.S. Army Training Center, Fort Polk, Louisiana, November 1, 1966, and comes to the 25th Infantry Division from that post.

LB 629 down at Hoc Mon XS7303, 086 to recover personnel
LB 627 hit by ground fire DH5 shot in foot while riding in LB627
DH539 received 14 hits and is down
LB 627 tail rotor failure, landed on active
DH42 reports receiving SA fire XT723005 at 1200 ft.
DH 535 down at Hoc Mon bridge, low oil pressure, pipesmoked to beach
LB 577 hit in tail rotor drive shaft
LB 637 15 min overdue at Trang Bang, diverted LB819 to look for aircraft
LB 814 spots LB 637 crashed on road XT458951, Two injured, both 101st.
LB 637 crashed at LZ 745851 2 injured, both 101st
LB 629 hit by ground fire picking up crew
LB 633 sent to Tay Ninh, Pilot Lt. Labarsh hit by small arms
LB 120 took hits it Radio
LB 633 crashed on Nui Ba Dinh, heavy damage, 1 broken leg, dustoff unable to land due to weather
My memories of our time on the mountain start on 19 August 68 with a crap game going on just before we lifted up
there. It was the typical hurry up and wait routine,we where gathered at the base of the mountain waiting
to get lifted up there, so someone took a towel fromaround his neck, laid it out with a "c" ration box at
the end and produced a set of dice, instant Las Vegas! I never played Craps before or after, but that day I
won $20. I guess our ride came in before my luck would change.

I think we thought this was going to be a vacation, 3 hot meals a day and no sweeps or ambush. I remember
the sleeping quarters, pretty good compared to a poncho and poncho liner, almost like a small house
with bunks. The bunkers looked good, not too far apart, although the Helo pad bunkers seemed isolated.
My bunker was, I believe, on the west side of the perimeter, and I was with some guys from other
platoons, I don't remember one of their names to this day. Maybe I just ended up at the wrong platoons
bunker. I was sleeping in the sleeping quarters when someone came in and said we were getting hit. I made
it to the bunker, there was a Sgt (e5) there and he took charge. I was inside the bunker and they, the Sgt
plus 2 others were coming in when an explosion went off just outside the back of the bunker. It had to
have been an RPG. I was knocked out for a short time and when I woke up the bunker was about destroyed
inside. I crawled out to find one guy beyond help, I don't know his name now and always felt I should have
tried to remember him by his name. The Sgt was badly wounded, I believe he had some serious head wounds but
he was able to walk. The other fellow was ok, but in shock. I told him to walk the Sgt up to a medic, I grabbed a 60 and layed out some cover fire while they moved out. About that time, my squad leader, Sgt Kraynak calls out to me that he is coming over to my position, his bunker is also destroyed and he is the only one left at it. He says we should fall back between the bunkers to watch over both fields of fire. We set up in some rocks just in front of the rubber
fuel bladders, not the best place to be but we had a good view of our area. We stayed there all night. At one point a lone figure appeared to my left about 20 feet away. He crawled up on a boulder and was watching out towards the perimeter. He looked small and was wearing a soft cover hat, I started to raise my rifle as I felt he was probably a vc, but even when the flares lit up the area, I couldn't be sure. I had heard we had special forces inside the perimeter, and
they wore soft covers, so I had to be sure. It wasn't long before he saw me and we both stared each other down. He disappeared between flares, I never did find out who he was, but I often wonder if my hesitation was to cost my Sgt and friend his life.

 At daybreak things were pretty quiet, Sgt.Kraynak told me to return to my bunker, he was heading to his and to keep alert until help arrives. I would be the last person to talk to Sgt Kraynak. We both headed out, I heard the shots that took his life, but there was still some shots being fired all around so I just sat tight and waited for someone to show up.

Maybe if we had gone back as a team things would have been different, I have thought about it many times, but thinking about it won't change things. Did I let his killer get a free pass, or did I make the right cho ice by not shooting the lone figure on the rock. Days later, I looked around the compound for the special forces group, but was told they where gone. Did my luck from the crap game follow me up on the mountain? No, I don't think so, it's just the way things go. I think of Jim often, his hometown is a days drive from where I live and I visited his grave last year.
It was a very powerful moment, reading his name on the tombstone.

He was well liked by all the guys in 4 plt, I think loosing Jim was probably the reason I asked to go to Aviation, it wasn't the same without him and his leadership.

Some of my other memories of the Mountain are Steve Rye, with his foot gone, leaning against a bunker waiting all day to get medivaced. The word of the short timer(14 and a wake up) from the Cav who was kia. The guy who carried the grease gun, Lowe I think, getting shot in the back, he was a popular guy in the company. How the Native American, Smith, told us in broken English how he was by himself and threw grenades at a bunch of VC, then opened up on them with a 60 and killed 5. The bodies were found by his bunker by the Helo Pad. How we all went ape shit and cheered when they dumped the dead 15 dead VC from the Chinook cargo net out over the lower mountain. True, not
something anyone else would ever understand, it just seemed right at the time. I also know the fellow who had the dice for that crap game died out by the Helo pad that night. His buddy told us he hid under his body when the bunker got taken out and the gooks swarmed it. They shot inside, but somehow he lived. I watched the first helicopter come in and crash with a General on board. I believe the pilot went threw the windshield and suffered a very bad facial cut.
This is what I can remember of 8/18/68, sometimes I catch myself reliving the night and wondering "what if", but then who that has been in combat dosn't do that? Robin Lauer B/25th gunner ex 3/22nd 11 B, came to Diamondhead right after this.

I remember this night all to well.

We were heavily engaged at FSB Buell, and were flying on the north side of Nui Ba Den to Tay Ninh to Rearm and refuel, we had got jumped with very heavy anti-aircraft fire that night on that northern refuel route, but that is another story. I will have to write it sooner or later, but I can't right now, it stings a little to hard yet.

I heard the desperate pleas for help from the mountain over the radio, but it was impossible to help. The whole top of the mountain was socked in with fog and clouds, all you could hear was the sounds of war, machine guns and explosions, and desperate men. All you could see was the eerie light of a flare burning in the clouds.  I to still see this night in the twilight of sleep in a surreal sort of way. Had we been able to help, maybe the VC would have disengaged, maybe Sgt Kraynak would have lived. But fate dealt a bad hand on 18 August 68.

Ron Leonard

LB 142 has engine failure at Tay Hinh POL
LB 142 crashes inside perimeter on Nui Ba Dinh, heavy damage. CG injured back. Dustoff
The Crash Of The Great Strawberry
By-Bob Seger

Date Line Nui Ba Den-Sometime in 1968 (August 19)

There was one striking feature of our area of operations that stood out above all others. It actually stuck out from all of the other terrain features and was known as Nui Ba Den. Nui Ba Den was a rock mountain sticking out of the middle of nowhere close to the Cambodian border. The mountain rose majestically to a height of 3225 feet. Nui Ba Den commanded the view of our entire area of operations. Nui Ba Den translated into English as the Black Virgin Mountain. On a clear day it could be seen from just about anywhere in the division's area of operation. On top of the mountain was a company of soldiers and a signal detachment for communication purposes.

Nui Ba Den was a freak of nature rising up out in the middle of nowhere and where some of the strangest battles of Vietnam were fought. It stood in stark contrast to the rest of the surrounding area. It was a perfect observation post so the Army established a Special Forces camp on top. Later when the 25th Infantry Division arrived in Vietnam, they assumed responsibility for it and also established a communication system on top.

Nui Ba Den was easily the most significant feature of the area of operation for the 25th Infantry Division. It was not that tall as mountains go, but it was a solitary feature and was surrounded by flat plain. Its beauty could easily make one forget a war was ongoing. I saw numerous sunsets with the sun setting behind the mountain while flying in my helicopter. At times like those, I forgot the war for a few seconds. It was a strange and beautiful sight at the same time. Beauty was seen in the midst of the horrors of war.

There are some other memories of the mountain that I have that are memorable in other ways. Resupply missions to the signal troops on top of Nui Ba Den got to be very dangerous because of the unpredictable landing conditions. There was only a small area in which to land on top of the mountain. The chopper pad was very small and required a precision landing. Additionally, the winds would whip around the mountain and suddenly instead of having a head wind, a pilot could be facing a severe cross wind, tail wind, or sudden down draft. This caused many difficulties when the crew was confronted with a landing on top of the mountain.

Since the mountain height was well above our usual cruising altitude, helicopter crews had to climb to altitude before they could attempt to land. Most Hueys approached the mountain top chopper pad at almost eye level. The pilots rarely faced this type of landing and never practiced this type of approach. Except for landing at a big base camp, most landings were performed while circling directly over the landing area. A spiraling while descending approach was the preferred and safest approach. If a pilot made a long straight in approach, the helicopter would get shot at while flying slow and low to the ground.

The landing to the mountain posed another problem as the helicopter was usually overloaded with supplies. A heavily loaded chopper can lose lift just like an airplane and can stall out and fall out of the sky. Helicopters require lift to stay airborne and in rare occasions, can lose actually lift. This is no problem at altitude, as the helicopter just drops its nose and can continue flying. However, if the helicopter is close to the ground, the helicopter will fall to the ground. This happened on a number of occasions to helicopters flying into Nui Ba Den.

Due to windy conditions, helicopters always approached slowly and cautiously. On one such approach the resupply chopper deliberately made its approach to the summit. Just short of the chopper pad, it started to lose altitude as it lost lift. The pilot tried in vain to restore power and control. Very slowly, the helicopter fell out of the sky, and started going down the side of the mountain. It crashed into nothing but huge boulders. Anyone who has been on the mountain knows that once you are below the summit, boulders are everywhere, big ones and little ones. Just before it hit the rocks, the soldiers on top took cover behind some rocks and bunkers and waited until the rotor blades stopped turning. Rotor blades hitting rocks will send shrapnel careening everywhere. After the crash, several of the soldiers ran down and extracted the crew. There was no fire and all survived. I heard later that the troops on the top watching said it looked as if they were watching a slow-motion chopper crash. A helicopter that looses its lift, initially falls slowly out of the sky. Some of the crew in the chopper were slightly injured, but none were hurt seriously.

The following day, another attempt was made to resupply the soldiers on top of the Black Virgin Mountain and to take out the crashed helicopter crew. I am sure a larger crowd was watching this time. As the helicopter got within a few feet of the top, it also started losing altitude and someone on the mountain top probably yelled, “there goes another one”. The pilot increased power and collective but to no avail. The chopper ran out of power. The chopper went down and again the soldiers on top took cover behind the rocks and bunkers. The rotor blades hit and made a god-awful sound as parts of the rotor blades were slung over the heads of those on top of the mountain. The once intact helicopter tumbled down the mountainside and was ripped apart. Again, soldiers ran down and pulled out the pilots and crew. There was no fire, just a wrecked chopper with a few minor injuries and some bruised egos belonging to the pilots. They had been warned by radio and by the crew of the previous crashed chopper how difficult it was to land.
Resupply and rescue was necessary, so the following day another helicopter was scheduled to make the resupply run. By now these pilots are wary, and as the make their approach they can not miss observing the two crashed Hueys lying just short of the peak of the mountain. As the third helicopter approaches, the crowd at the top was getting larger as they were expecting another show. Sure enough, they get it. Like the two previous helicopters, down this one goes, just like the others. Same results: no fire, lots of bumps and bruises and, of course, the pilot's bruised egos. The crew all scrambled to safety with assistance from the “Mountain Men”. By now they are getting proficient at rescuing helicopter crews. Now, the daily helicopter landing was an exciting event for the troops on top and a death defying maneuver for the pilots and crew.

Three lucky crews are on top and three unlucky helicopters lay strewn on the side of the mountain. Word spreads regarding the danger of the landing situation and reaches the division commander. Pilots insist the Huey is not stable enough in the unpredictable and windy conditions and is not capable of the mission. Helicopter pilots strongly recommend resupply by a Chinook. The commanding general is unconvinced of the danger and believes the helicopter pilots are exaggerating the dangers. Since the division commander knows more than the lowly helicopter pilots, he decides to fly to the top of the mountain to demonstrate that it can be done in safety.

The division commander's helicopter is unlike all the other helicopters in our division. His helicopter resembles his clean uniform, crisply starched, with spit shined boots. Of course the General does not do those things himself, as he has an army of minions for manual labor. It is the same with his helicopter. It looks a bit different from our Hueys, as it very clean and shiny because of it being washed and waxed all the time. It has painted on its nose, the Electric Strawberry patch representing the division's emblem. There is no mistaking the general's helicopter. Every other helicopter assigned to the 25th Infantry Division is a combat veteran and looks as if they have seen an abundance of combat. The general's helicopter looks just like it just rolled off the assembly line. Another mission is scheduled and the commanding general will be aboard this time to prove his point. The General is not that supremely confident of the tactical situation, as two Cobras are schedule to fly in support of him. We take off from Cu Chi, the general's helicopter and two Cobras, all in support of the General's ego.

This time, everybody is at the top watching the general's helicopter attempt to land. They have been informed the General is on the helicopter. Will it be Mountainside 4 and Helicopter 0, or will it be Mountainside 3-1. Vegas bookies would not want to handle these odds, as the Black Virgin Mountain was no longer a virgin. Her mountainside had been bloodied and she is a combat veteran. She is littered with the remains of three helicopters. The crashed helicopters had parts scattered all of the mountainside. I had no pressure on this mission, as I was along for the ride and enjoying my simple part of the operation.

However, the pilot in command of the general's chopper had tremendous pressure thrust upon him. Tension was high and the stress had to be unbelievable. As the troops on top were watching the spectacle of the Commanding General of the 25th Infantry Division approach for a landing, the pilot had to be apprehensive beyond any description. Scared shitless was more like it, for three good reasons. First he had an enthralled audience well schooled in ducking flying rotor blades. Secondly, three prior crews, equally qualified, all failed in their attempts to land. Thirdly, the other crews did not have added pressure of having the Commanding General of the 25th Infantry Division onboard. Everybody on top was aware of the three prior crashes on consecutive days and how dangerous and difficult it will be to land. The pilot of the general's helicopter certainly comprehends this but the General does not appreciate it. As I circle overhead the mountain, I watch the approaching general's chopper, I am watching this circus and can plainly see all the troops on the mountain top that have a front row seat.

The general's pilot has to be sweating bullets as he knows the three previous choppers are scattered in many pieces on the mountainside. Additionally, he knows that crashing the general's chopper with him on board, cannot be good for your career advancement. So guess what, there goes a flying career and the general's helicopter, along with the General in it. Down the mountainside goes the beautiful, simonized Huey dropping into the rocks and boulders on the side of the mountain. The pilot has misjudged his descent and starts to lose power and altitude. The pilot is attempting to add full power as the rotor blades clawed the air, trying to pull away from the mountainside with little success. The RPM's were bleeding off and the rotor blades were not providing sufficient lift. Soon the pilot loses power, altitude and ideas at the same time. Slowly down the mountainside plunges the once proud Huey belonging to the General. The troops on top are treated to another spectacle. The mountain has won again, as the General and his helicopter are going down. I imagine by this time, the drill was well orchestrated, as the troops on top take cover for the fourth time and avoid rotor blades smashing against the rocks and boulders. As soon as the crashing noises subside, the “Mountain Men” scramble down the mountainside to rescue the hapless General and the crew.
I had previously instructed my wingman to stay at least 500 feet below me, as I did not want to have to watch out for him also. Additionally, he knows I will keep the general's chopper in sight, while he looks out for any enemy activity. I do not hear any “Mayday” radio call from the general's helicopter, as it happened so quickly and the crew were struggling to control the helicopter. I plainly could see the general's helicopter lose lift and then slide down the mountain. The rotor blades were moving slower and slower. It is a good thing I had my wingman below me, as I was transfixed watching the general's helicopter. The general's helicopter rolled over slightly and the rotor blades hit the side of the mountain coming to an abrupt stop. Long before the helicopter stopped falling down the mountainside, I excitedly screamed in my radio to division headquarters, “the General's down, the General's down”. Quickly, I calmed down and regained proper radio procedures and requested some assistance from Cu Chi. It was one thing to leave lowly helicopter crews stranded overnight on the mountain top, but I assumed the General would not be spending the night there and an effort would me made to immediately extract the General.

I was in contact with division headquarters as they were closely monitoring his flight. They wanted to know his condition and I replied I did not know, and informed them the general's helicopter did not explode on impact nor was there a fire. I told them I could see individuals exiting the crashed chopper and soldiers scrambling down to rescue the occupants. All survived the crash, except for the beautiful helicopter. I presume the general's pilot, was no longer the general's pilot. I learned later the General got out of the chopper, stumbling and tripping and falling, as he was desperately trying to get away from the chopper, as highly combustible jet fuel was spewing everywhere. Helicopters use the same type of fuel as jet fighters and is extremely flammable.

I radioed the top of the mountain and requested to know the General's condition. I was not exactly specific enough, as I only wanted to learn if the General survived the crash. I was advised that when the General got to the top, the General was absolutely exhausted from the climb and out of breath. With that small bit of information, I knew he was alive. It was a harrowing experience for him. I was told the General needed assistance climbing to the safety of the mountain top. As he lay on the top of the mountain exhausted and out of breath, I wondered if the General now agreed with the expertise of the helicopter pilots regarding the unsuitability of landing Hueys on top of the mountain.
When I first entered the Army, I learned there were two ways to do things in the Army; the Right way and the Army way. Well I was wrong, as now, there was the General's way. The General, like so many high ranking officers, was a man accustomed to giving an order but not aware of the practicality of carrying it out. The destruction of his once proud helicopter proved that.

Since the mountain was a signal station with the best radios available, I can assure you the Commanding General of the 25th Infantry Division would be in radio contact with Cu Chi requesting assistance. Very quickly another helicopter was dispatched to pick up the General. It did not take long getting there and it was not a Huey. It was a Chinook, a twin rotor helicopter capable of carrying about 45 fully equipped troops. It was a much heavier helicopter and considerably more stable in the high winds conditions surrounding the mountain. The Chinook rescued the General and helicopter crews and flew them back to Cu Chi.

After that, by order of the Commanding General of the 25th Infantry Division, only Chinooks were permitted to resupply Nui Ba Den. That was great news for those soldiers who eventually would be flying off that mountain by helicopter. They knew they would now be able to safely fly off the mountain. The General did not know how lucky he was. American forces owned the top and bottom of the Black Virgin Mountain, however, the VC controlled everything in between. He could have been captured and all due to his willingness to prove a point. Sometimes, there is a God. This was the same general that kept me aloft one long night for no apparent reason, while flying a flare ship for over five hours without once dropping a flare. The General had me counseled (the polite military term for a severe ass chewing) the following day because I had the audacity to question a mission he ordered, but that is another story. Stupidity and foolishness I learned, were not limited solely to Privates or Lieutenants.

LB 153 requests pipesmoke due to damage from claymore mine.
LB 577 reports Dau Tieng under heavy mortar attack
LB 677 shot down XT276513
ADAO reports unk aircraft flying over MP jeep and dropped smoke on drivers head
LB 120 reports crew chief shot in leg, evac.
DH 174 had hit
The Ambush At Ap Nhi
By- Ron Leonard

       In the annals of Military History, and the Vietnam War in particular due to it's longevity, this incident would be little more than an obscure event except to those brave men that were there that rainy day in August 1968. To those men that survived, and to the family members of those who paid the ultimate price, this article maybe will help them find some missing answers.
Had it not been for William Seay being awarded the nations highest award, “The Medal Of Honor” that day, albeit posthumously, the events of this day would be just another obscure day in “Vietnam War” history.
Because of William Seay, historians have critiqued, researched, analyzed, and written many articles on this incident. All of those writings mostly have to do with William Seays actions themselves, the actions of the men of the 48th Transportation Group, and the rescuing Infantry units that helped repel the ambush.
   I am going to attempt to supply some incite into the causes of the ambush, not only due to it's logistics, but in the events and poor decision making leading up to the occurrence of the ambush that allowed it to happen in the first place. I will also add the aviation accounts of this incident that have never been written about that I can find, and I have thoroughly researched it at the National Archives.
   I was a crewchief on one of the “Diamondhead” gunships of B. Company 25th Aviation Battalion that spent many hours in the air in defense of the convoy personnel, the infantry units, and the protection of the convoy itself. So in part this will be a first hand description of the events of those two days as I remember them, and as other members of the flight crews that were there recollect.
 Most historians will tell you that the battle lasted nine hours. Maybe the main assault lasted nine hours, but gunship support was required on and off until 1700 the following day to assist in the removal of the wounded and dead, deliver re-supply of food and ammunition, and protect the convoy from the Viet Cong as sporadic fighting continued throughout the convoys recovery. This information is validated from our Daily Journals, After Action Reports, and our flight crew's memories.
In late August 1968 it was Monsoon Season in Cu Chi Vietnam, which is located 25 miles northwest from Saigon in Hau Nghai Province along Hwy 1, which lies on the Main Supply Route (MSR) to Tay Ninh and Dau Tieng, two of the 25th Divisions main base camps. Everywhere you looked was a mud hole that more resembled a lake than a simple puddle. During this time of year the clouds hung very low to the ground, at times they seemed so low you could almost reach up and touch them, which made flying very dangerous if not totally impossible. It rained nearly every afternoon at 3.pm.; you could set your clock by it. The sky would turn almost black, then just open up with raindrops the size of golf balls it seemed, and the rainwater temperature being actually warm. On more than one occasion I had grabbed a bar of soap and stepped outside the hooch to take a bath as the rain ran off the roof of the hooch in torrents. It was better than our make shift shower, and the water flow was more like a waterfall. Everywhere you looked was water. The company area would become “Lake Diamondhead” as the drainage system couldn't commence to keep up with that amount of rainfall.
   The roads in the AO (Area of Operations) were marginally better. They were kept passable because all of the AO Fire Support Bases (FSB's), and Base Camps had to be supplied by road. It took a convoy per day to keep the supplies and ammunition rolling to support our war effort.
   To understand this ambush, its location, and it's outcome you first have to have a little back ground on the 1st Brigade of the 25th Infantry Division, who's responsibility it was to protect the convoy, and the circumstances leading up to it and during it. I will do my best to keep it brief and to the point.
The Commanding General (CG) of the 25th Infantry Division was Major General Ellis W. Williamson, who had just assumed command earlier in the month of August 1968.
The 1st Brigade at this time was commanded by Col Duquesne “Duke” Wolf who to had just assumed the command of 1st Brigade earlier in August. He was responsible for US Army operations in the Cambodian border area from the Angels Wing north along the Vam Co Dong River, which locally we called the Oriental River, up to the Parrots Beak, War Zone C, and then south to Dau Tieng. This Tactical Operational Area Of Responsibility (TOAR) was eighty-five kilometers in depth (north to south), and approximately sixty-five kilometers wide (east to west). Within this TOAR were the Michelin, Ben Cui, Big Rubber, Little Rubber plantations, and War Zone “C”. All of which were staging and base camp areas for the 33rd, and 275th VC/NVA regiments.
Both the 1st and 3rd Brigade of the 25th Infantry Division usually defended this AO, with the 1st Brigade TOAR being Tay Ninh and the surrounding area, and the 3rd Brigade TOAR being Dau Tieng and the surrounding area.
With the feared third phase of TET (Vietnamese Lunar New Year) the entire 3rd Brigade was pulled in to the Saigon area and it's approach routes leaving just 1st Brigade to do the job of both. This would prove to be a fatal mistake.
During the previous week 17-24 August the 1st Brigade endured thirteen separate attacks of battalion and/or regimental strength. These included seven separate attacks against U.S. bases of the 1st Brigade. Two regimental-size attacks on FSB Buell II. Two regimental-size size attacks against the 1st Brigade TOSB at Tay Ninh, two battalion-sized attacks at FSB Rawlins II, and one battalion-sized attack against the signal facility atop Nui Ba Den Mountain. The remaining six enemy attacks were directed against units of the 1st Brigade in order to destroy U.S. combat units, to cut the MSR in order to isolate the 1st Brigade, to dominate and control the Ben Cui Rubber Plantation, and finally to impede and harass units of the 1st Brigade by ambushes along the main supply routes of Tay Ninh Province. By the 4th day of the VC/NVA offensive, 1st Brigade Intelligence (S-2) had determined that sixteen thousand fully combat ready troops of the NVA 5th and 9th Divisions accompanied by an anti-aircraft battalion, and two Viet Cong battalions were operating in conjunction with the NVA Divisions. The feared third phase of TET had already started, which contradicted the Intelligence that the 25th Division CG was operating under, although captured documents stated that Hue and Saigon were the major objectives of the enemy offensive.
Despite warnings by 1st Brigade (S-2) Intelligence, that Saigon was not the intended target, the surrounding countryside, particularly Tay Ninh was, went largely unheeded. Just a day before the ambush at Ap Nhi, even though the enemy offensive was four days old, the CG ordered a further reduction-in-force of the 1st Brigade. The 2/34th Armor was transferred from 1st Brigade to Divisional control and moved immediately to Cu Chi at 0600 25 August. The CG further directed that the 1st Brigade would still be held responsible for all its missions within its TOAR with the stipulation that the  “MSR clear and secure” mission was to be supplied only as time and manpower would allow.
This reduction-in-force was ordered by the CG without prior consultation with the 1st Brigade.  Colonel Wolf, Commanding Officer of the 1st Brigade, gravely concerned about the potential dangers to the division, and to the brigade, of this further reduction in force, personally conveyed to the CG his estimate of the situation. This included his concern that the assigned combat maneuver forces were barely sufficient to defend the six U.S. bases in the TOAR, and definitely insufficient to react to an enemy attack of even battalion size; therefore the reduction-in-force would not permit the reconnaissance-in-force and posting of security along the MSR essential to the free passage of the daily division supply convoy. Unfortunately this appeal by Colonel Wolf was ignored and the CG's order for the reduction-in-force stood.
Colonel Wolf objected bitterly to the CG to no avail. He requested one battalion of troops be returned to assist with the mission given him. General Williamson again denied him the troops.
Thus, during the days of 25-27 August the 1st Brigade was limited to the following combat maneuver, and combat support troops.

Infantry: Three rifle companies of the 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry (of which one was atop Nui Ba Den mountain), and three mechanized infantry companies of the 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry (Mechanized). Not one company was at full strength. Most of the companies only had three platoons instead of four and they to were undermanned.
Artillery: Two 105-mm batteries of the 7th Battalion, 11th Artillery, and two batteries of 155-mm medium artillery.
Armor and armored cavalry: None

Included within the 1st Brigades (TOAR) were:

1. Defense of six US army bases of which two were Division Base Camps, Tay Ninh and Dau Tieng, each a Tactical Operations Support Base (TOSB) capable of supporting two divisions of troops for a limited time.
2.  FSB's at Bao Co (Saint Barbara), 6 kilometers north of Nui Ba Den, Buell II, two kilometers west of Nui Ba Den, Rawlins III four kilometers east of Tay Ninh, Nui Ba Den Signal Facility located atop Nui Ba Den.
3.  Security of the Main Supply route (MSR): Each day sweep on foot for enemy mines and secure the MSR (by posting combat maneuver forces along it) in the 1st Brigade TAOR, from the village of Go Dau Ha, to Tay Ninh TOSB, to FSB Buell II, To FSB Bau Co, and to the Rock Crusher's site, to FSB Rawlins III, and to Dau Tieng TOSB, (a total road distance of approximately 98 kilometers).
 4. Conduct offensive operations to destroy or capture the main Viet Cong (VC) and North Vietnamese Army (NVA) forces in the 1st Brigade TAOR. This was to be accomplished with the troops on hand.
5. Support the internal defense and development of Tay Ninh Province, to include the defense of Tay Ninh City in combined operations with the Vietnamese Territorial Militia forces (Regional Force Companies and Popular Force Platoons) of Tay Ninh Province. This was more for political reasons. It would be unthinkable to lose a Provincial Capital.
   Such was the day of August 25, 1968, a typical monsoon day in the III Corp tactical zone, low clouds, poor visibility, and intermittent rain. In the morning hours, a large re-supply convoy was being assembled at Long Binh near Saigon. It was made up of 81 trucks of the 48th Transportation Group. The convoy makeup was Refer Trucks in front, supply trucks next in line, then fuel trucks and ammo trucks at the end of the convoy. The reasoning for this was if one of the fuel trucks or ammo trucks was ambushed and exploded it wouldn't stop the convoy in its tracks, the lead trucks could speed away from danger. Their mission was to transport a load of ammunition, fuel, and other supplies to the 25th Divisions 1st Brigade base camp at Tay Ninh, which was located just seven miles from the Cambodian border in Tay Ninh Province, just a stones throw from the famed Ho Chi Minh Trail.
    Tay Ninh is located approximately 45 miles northwest of Saigon and is usually but a six-hour trip with the mandated convoy speed limit of twenty miles per hour. For many of the truckers this particular trip would turn into an eternity. The convoy followed MSR 1 from Saigon, through the village of Hoc Mon, west past the 25th Infantry Division base camp at Cu Chi, through the village of Trang Bang, across the bridge at Soui Cao Creek, also known as Soui-Cide bridge because of the many ambushes that occurred there, on to Go Dau Ha where MSR 1 intersects MSR 22. The convoy would turn northwest onto MSR 22 through the village of Ap Nhi which lies approximately 4.5 miles northwest of the intersection, and on to Tay Ninh some twenty miles distant to complete the trip.
Road security from the intersection of MSR 1 and MSR 22 at Go Dau Ha was the responsibility of the 1st Brigade 25th Infantry Division, but due to the reduction-in-force of troops ordered by the CG during the days leading up to 25 August, that day it was impossible for 1st Brigade to provide this security. Only 8 gun jeeps of the Military Police (M P) secured the entire convoy. These gun jeeps were lightly armed with one M-60 machine gun, and a crew made up of only a gunner and the driver.
Due to a lack of communication by 25th Division commanders, the 48th Transportation Group was unaware there would be no road security supplied by the 1st Brigade as it usually was, nor were they made aware that an enemy offensive had been underway for the past week. Had they known, they could have been better prepared, more observant, and had an increased amount of ammunition issued to the convoys drivers and other personnel beyond their basic load of 100 rounds.
The sleepy little village of Ap Nhi, stretches about a mile along the south side of MSR 22 and is predominately a farming community. Directly across the road from Ap Nhi lies part of the Ben Cui Rubber Plantation, which also is about a mile long. This section of the Ben Cui Rubber Plantation is known locally as the “Little Rubber”. It to is about a mile long and consists of mature rubber trees that grew within 15 feet of the MSR. Between the MSR and the rubber trees there is an existing drainage trench and an earthen berm.
Unknowingly to U.S. forces the night of 24 August, elements of a VC reinforced battalion of 5 companies had moved into Ap Nhi village and made preparations to ambush the Tay Ninh supply convoy on the morning of the 25th.
Four of these VC companies were positioned in the trench and adjoining rubber trees on the western edge of the Little Rubber Plantation along MSR 22 for a distance of 2,500 meters. The fifth company occupied positions in the village, which also extended for 2,500 meters along the opposite side of MSR 22. The enemy had established strong points at each end of the ambush. On the north end a Buddhist temple on the east side of MSR 22, and on the south end a fortified farm house some 50 meters east of MSR 22. It was a bold and daring daylight ambush that was tactically well planned and executed. The ambush site provided cover and concealment on both sides of MSR 22, and the establishment of strong points at both ends of the ambush reduced the chances of an attacking force “rolling up” the ambush along it's vulnerable length. Furthermore, the ambush was sited at a point almost equidistant from the 25th Infantry Division base camp at Cu Chi and the 1st Brigade TOSB at Tay Ninh, thus requiring reaction forces to travel the greatest possible distance.
Furthermore none of the available artillery was within range of the ambush site and would have to be re-positioned to be effective, which would take time. The weather was also on the VC's side. The rain, poor visibility, and low ceiling prevented air support from being used initially, as the weather and low ceiling conditions made flying to dangerous, if not totally impossible.

At 1145 on the morning of the 25th as the lead elements of the convoy entered Ap Nhi it was misty and raining with the ceiling below 200 feet. The convoy met what appeared to be a column of ARVN soldiers marching single file along the north side of the MSR adjacent to the Little Rubber plantation. As the lead vehicles of the convoy departed the village of Ap Nhi, and the fuel and ammo trucks were in the kill zone of the ambush, the supposed ARVN troops turned and opened fire on the convoy. They were actually VC soldiers dressed in ARVN uniforms. The initial shot of the ambush was the signal to begin the assault on the convoy from the VC troops positioned in the “Little Rubbber”. 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 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 was burning and cooking off ammunition.
The initial assault had been against those two vehicles to seal the convoy in place and left trucks scattered along MSR 22 for nearly a mile between the burning vehicles. The initial targets other than the two trucks that were burning were the gun jeeps and vehicles with radios.
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 (TC) 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 VC soldiers attempted to charge his truck he dispatched them both with a burst from his M-16. All along the line the 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 VC 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 fire in the open ground between the truck and the trailer wheels, picked up the grenade and hurled it back across the road. Four VC jumped from their cover and tried to run, but they were killed when the grenade exploded.
 Minutes later, when another grenade landed close to Seays 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 VC 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 the wounded man in the three-foot wide ditch, while both men occasionally fired at enemy positions and awaited the next assault. Suddenly while Hinotes 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 VC trying to cross the road. Hinote turned just in time to see three of the VC 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 along the line had fallen into enemy hands during the battle, and enemy soldiers had rifled through them for plunder. At one point when VC were crawling all over the trucks, the truckers requested permission to call in artillery and blow the enemy troops off the road. The 25th Divisions Commander, General Williamson, denied that request.

1st Brigade learned of the ambush at approximately noon from Company C of the 4th Battalion 23rd Infantry (Mechanized), which had posted one of its platoons to protect the MSR just one kilometer south of the “Little Rubber” plantation. This under strength mechanized infantry platoon consisting of one officer and ten men along with two Armored Personnel Carriers (APC'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 an enemy force of company size deployed in length along the 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 strongpoint in the Buddhist temple at the northern end of the ambush. This under strength force of one officer and fifteen men in four APC's lacked sufficient combat power to overcome the force firing from covered positions in the /Buddhist temple, so they kept the enemy fixed in position by fire.

At approximately 1220 hours, the 1st Brigade Commander arrived at the ambush site in his Command and Control (C and C) Huey, “Little Bear” 120 of A. Company 25th Aviation Battalion, and went immediately to the aid of the platoon of Company C which was being surrounded by the enemy. With the additional firepower of the M-60 door guns of the C and C, and following the dropping of several cases of tear gas, which required the C and C ship to fly extremely low under the limited ceiling to be accurate and the weather that was quickly closing in the encircling enemy fell back from the two APC's of the platoon.

 Lacking any immediate standby reaction forces, the 1st Brigade Commander directed his operations section at Tay Ninh TOSB to have one company of the 3rd Battalion 22nd Infantry, which was conducting a Recon By Fire (RIF) five kilometers north of FSB Buell II, brought by helicopter as quickly as possible to the northern end of the ambush site.

Ten Hueys of the 25th Divisions 116th Aviation Hornets were scrambled for an emergency Combat Assault (CA). The troops to be picked up 5 Kilometers north of FSB Buell II and inserted just north of the Buddhist temple at Ap Nhi.

 The 1st Brigade commander received 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 was gratefully accepted and Troop B was ordered to speed north along MSR 22 to reach the southern end of the ambush.

The CA is inserted north of the Buddhist temple without incident, but had to fly in at 200-300 feet elevation to be under the cloud cover.
While supervising the CA insertion Little Bear 120's crewchief was wounded in the lower leg by small arms ground fire and medi-vaced to 12th Evacuation Hospital in Cu Chi.
After delivering the wounded crewchief to the hospital and acquiring a replacement crewchief, the Company Commander of the 4th Battalion 23rd Infantry was picked up in Cu Chi and returned to the battle aboard Little Bear 120 the 1st Battalion C and C ship.  
G-3 of the 25th Infantry division radioed the 1st Brigade Commander and proposed to send an infantry battalion into the ambush site and place it under Operational Control (OPCON) to the 1st Brigade if the 1st Brigade would release the ten Hueys under its control to division to assist in this airmobile reinforcement operation. The 1st Brigade Commander gladly agreed to this welcome proposal and released the ten 116th Hueys to go to Cu Chi to help lift the promised reinforcements. Unfortunately, for some unexplained reason these reinforcements from the division did not arrive, nor did the division inform the 1st Brigade that they would not to be forthcoming. Worse yet, the helicopter company was not returned to the 1st Brigade, which meant that the brigade lacked the airmobile capability to affect the outcome of the battle, or to meet any other contingency.

At 1310 Troop B of 3rd Squadron 4th Cavalry arrives on station and is immediately directed to attack from route column along the road and destroy the enemy strong point in the farmhouse located 200 meters south of the Little Rubber Plantation. Troop B charged the enemy-held farmhouse and came under heavy small arms and RPG rocket fire. After a 20-minute intense fire fight the lead platoon, led by the company commander, reached the enemy strong point, but during the assault the company commander and four of his men were killed and eleven others were wounded. Approximately fifty enemy soldiers broke and ran from their entrenched positions around the farmhouse and retreated north into the Little Rubber Plantation.

The 1st Brigade Commander directed the acting Troop B Commander to leave in place the assault platoon that had suffered these heavy casualties and to lead the rest of his troop in pursuit of the retreating enemy force. Troop B (less one platoon) set in pursuit of the enemy through the Little Rubber Plantation but after 15 minutes the enemy disappeared among the rubber trees. Consequently, the 1st Brigade Commander directed this force through the center of The Little Rubber Plantation to a position approximately 100 meters to the rear (east) of the Buddhist temple and had them prepare to assault this enemy strong point.
In the meantime, the platoon of Company C, 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry (Mechanized) (consisting of eleven men and two APC's), which had been trapped in the extreme southern end of the Little rubber Plantation, had taken advantage of Troop B's successful neutralization of the enemy strong point there to extricate themselves and join up with the assault platoon of Troop B to establish a U.S. strong point. Accordingly, the 1st Brigade Commander with his C and C ship dropped off the Company Commander of Company C, 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry  (Mechanized), so he could take command of these two platoons.
 While these actions were taking place, the division artillery commander had radioed the 1st Brigade Commander and offered to move a 155-mm artillery battery from Trang Bang to go Dau Ha so that this battery would be in range to lend fire support to the attack against the enemy ambush. Colonel Wolf gladly accepted the offer.

 By 1430 the 155-mm battery was repositioned from Trang Bang and was firing in direct support of 1st Brigade units. With this added fire support, the tide of battle began to turn in favor of the U.S. army.

With the ceiling starting to lift marginally, the primary Light Fire Team of B. Company 25th Aviation Battalion, “Diamondheads” was scrambled from Cu Chi to assist in the fight. At 1450 the lead ship piloted by CWO Robert Spitler, “Diamondhead 10” arrived on station accompanied by his wing ship “Diamondhead 14” piloted by CWO David Stock to join in the fight. As the gunships arrived on station radio contact was made with the ground commander, “Noble Corners”. It was established that the friendlies were in a ditch west of the road. There were people unloading munitions and supplies from the south end of the convoy and hauling them into the tree line, which was established were the bad guys. CWO Spitler assured the ground commander that would be straightened out promptly. Armed with mini-guns and 14 rockets plus the machineguns of the crewchief and door gunner the gunships made repeated low-level firing passes in support of the besieged convoy, and quickly dispatched the enemy looters for the moment. The hail of enemy ground fire was extremely intense.
CWO Robert Spitler remembers the flying difficulty he had to deal with was that he couldn't climb up and roll in on a target, due to the low cloud cover. He had to fire flat, from low level at a low angle with very little forward air speed. This was not a very good fire angle, as rockets easily go over the head of the enemy or fall short. A steep dive angle from 1500' is much more accurate. Eventually, they had depleted enough fuel and ordinance that they simply hung low over the convoy and worked the treeline as they fired at point blank range. He remembers nearly hovering at some points, as he couldn't afford to lose the time it took to go out and make a full run back in again. They were everywhere. We were firing door guns, rockets and miniguns from all sides at the same time. Soon, we were out of ordinance. A second Diamondhead light fire team arrived on station to take over.  It was a quick briefing from CWO Spitler and then a seamless transition as the new team moved in. He broke off and returned to CuChi to re-arm and re-fuel.
CWO David Stock “Diamondhead 20”, led the second Diamondhead Light Fire Team accompanied by his wing ship. They would remain on station in support of the convoy alternating with the Diamondhead 10 Light Fire Team until 1830 when the Diamondhead 10 ship took several hits in the blades and had to leave station and return to Cu Chi and change aircraft.

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 C and C Huey) then directed that the infantry units support, by firing 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 the enemy force of over 100 Viet Cong evacuated the temple and retreated southward through the trench in the Little Rubber Plantation.

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 moving just inside the Little Rubber Plantation but parallel to the trench. MSR 22 would be both the axis of advance and the boundary between the two attacking units. The Troop B CO was designated as the team leader.
 The “roll-up” operation proceeded slowly and cautiously to prevent the elements of the small team from being encircled and defeated in detail. 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 came under heavy small arms and 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 MSR 22 in an east-west direction through the center of the Little Rubber Plantation.
 The 1st Brigade Commander directed the Troop B forces to assault the enemy-held trench with fire and movement. They did so, but reported back in ten minutes that enemy resistance was very strong and that the troop was 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 MSR 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.
Thus, Troop B reduced to about 50 armored cavalrymen, and Company C, reduced to about forty infantrymen, with the assistance of helicopter gunships 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 reported that the enemy was in great strength in the trench to their front, and in ever increasing strength on their flanks; that the enemy firepower was too strong to permit them to close with and destroy the enemy; and that both units were almost out of ammunition.

These commanders requested permission to withdraw from contact and be allowed to regroup, resupply with ammunition, and attack again. With darkness approaching and the impending monsoon rains adding to the enemy's advantages of troop strength and fire power, the 1st Brigade Commander agreed to a withdrawal from contact and directed them to disengage and fight a withdrawal action moving northward to a defensive position astride MSR 22 just north of the Little Rubber Plantation. They were to be prepared to attack again as soon as ammunition resupply was accomplished.

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” slick was scrambled to the resupply point to get the needed munitions the Infantry units needed, and an additional “Little Bear” slick was put on 3 minute strip alert loaded with CS gas.

The Task Force skillfully effected its withdrawal just as a very heavy monsoon storm hit the area., bringing total darkness and heavy rains which forced all helicopters from the sky: this prevented the evacuation of the wounded and resupply of ammunition for several hours.

 Both “Diamondhead” Light Fire Teams and the “Little Bear”, C and C, and resupply slicks returned to Cu Chi because of poor visibility and to wait out the storm. Diamondhead 174 was grounded after suffering several small arms rounds in the rotor blades and had some structural damage in the forward cabin area caused by the enemy ground fire. CWO Spitler and his crew would have to switch ships to get back into the fight.
As we awaited the storm to subside in the scramble shack, we discussed today's activities. After discussions over different parts of the battle field., it became apparent the enemy  didn't want to blow the convoy or they would have already. They wanted to steal it, or at least the ammunition on it.
The drivers, some still pinned down at the north end of the convoy with little ammunition was a real concern. The large Viet Cong force in the Little Rubber Plantation was another. The main concerns then were 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.

Outside it was still a torrential downpour, so I ran back to my ship and dialed up the ground frequency on the radio to see if I could catch any information on what was going on. The best I could tell was fighting was still going on, but mostly sporadic sniper fire, and the .50 Cals from the Mech APC's with their searchlights was keeping the looting of the convoy down.
The artillery unit from Trang Bang was doing a job on the Little Rubber Plantation, so the Viet Cong in the trench were at least frozen in place for the time being, and hopefully thinned out some.

 At 1945 a Little Bear Flare ship was 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 afew flares, but it was a lesson in futility since the ceiling on the ground was too low to be effective or accurate.

Due to no visibility the Little Bear flare ship returned to the Bear Pit to wait out the storm further, as the artillery unit continued to pound the battlefield around the convoy and inside the Little Rubber Plantation.

An emergency call came at 2205 for an emergency resupply of ammunition. The ground units and drivers were in dire straights without it. Since the Little Bear resupply slick was already loaded, they voted to take a try at it. At worst they would have to return. As they approached the convoy they ducked under the cloud cover that was just afew hundred feet, the artillery unit fired some illumination rounds and somehow they found the drop zone that was illuminated by a strobe light. The conditions were much too treacherous for the gunships to work, or any other aircraft for that matter. After unloading quickly, and after some of the wounded were put on board they quickly were headed back 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 the weather out.

At 2306, again the Little Bear flare ship was scrambled. According to the ground commander the sky was starting to clear some, and the ceiling was improving. It would prove to be a very long night for all those flight crews involved.  
Jay Marion, the crewchief 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 C and C ship “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 fighting was beginning to intensify, as the VC again were beginning to assault the trucks in the convoy and the supporting drivers. Since the weather was beginning to break up, and the ceiling was lifting a call was sent for the “Diamondhead” gunships to return on station to assist in the battle.

At 2329 the phone rang in the scramble shack on the Diamondhead flight line. We were 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 were pockets of drivers and other convoy personnel still engaged with the VC along the roadway, and a pocket of them were still pinned down at the north end. At the south end VC had been seen unloading munitions from the trailers, but there wasn't manpower to totally stop it.
As we arrived above the convoy the weather still wasn't great, the ceiling was at about 900 feet with patchy clouds and a foggy mist hung in the air. The flare ship above was dropping flares, which cast an eerie almost surrealistic glow to the battlefield. The artillery impacting in the Rubber Plantation was creating 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 was figuring out the logistics as to where the friendly troops were, and where the bad guys were, I noticed this 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 this old barn or farmhouse. In a couple of minutes he was back and repeated the trip. I brought this to CWO David Stock my aircraft commander's attention. We decided to let him make one more trip then we would give him a wakeup call.
By now the ground commander had briefed us on the situation, and we had located the friendly troops and the bad guys, so we set up from the 900 feet ceiling and made one rocket run at the trench across from the convoy at the south end, as we started our run all hell broke loose, it was like a wall of tracers coming to greet us on the way down. I think we punched off 4 sets of the 36 rockets we had with us on that one run, and I covered with machinegun fire as we broke 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 barn 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 expended 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 seemed to have broken the attack on the convoy for the moment, and we notified the ground commander we were expended on ammunition and would have to head back to Cu Chi to re-arm and refuel. We had been on station more than an hour.

0041 26 December

The ground commander went ahead and just released us, and if he needed us further he would call.
The Little Bear C and C ship also left station to change crews, those guys had been going since 6 A.M. yesterday morning and were exhausted.
We flew into Cu Chi's refueling point and topped off the tank with twelve-hundred pounds of JP-4 and then hovered over to the rearming point to begin the arduous task of loading up thirty-six more rockets and re-arm the mini-guns and doorguns of both our ship and our wing ship.

We had barely got started when one of the pilots overheard on the radio that our secondary team had been scrambled back to the convoy. It seems the fire was not put out yet; they were under attack by an estimated battalion size force. At least we would get a little break until the secondary team needed to re-arm and refuel.
After finishing the task at hand, and inventorying the aircraft for damage we flew back to the “Beach”, the “Diamondhead” portion of the flight line, and returned to the scramble shack to await our next mission. We had acquired a couple of holes from small arms, but they had just punctured the skin and hit nothing. A piece of duct tape would hold it for now.

 We had barely got in the door when the phone rang and we were off again, back to the convoy. 174 had been shot up pretty badly for the second time in 24 hours and would havie to leave the fight.
The rest of the night was not real eventful, save ducking some ground fire.
Just Re-arm, re-fuel, and return to the convoy where we would shoot up some ammo and afew rockets when we found proper targets.

       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 moved along the edge of the village, and Troop B. platoons moving just inside the Little Rubber Plantation but parallel to the trench. MSR 22 would be both the axis of advance and the boundary between the two attacking units. The Troop B CO was designated as the team leader. During this sweep the gunships flew overhead incase they were needed, and as a safety precaution.
During this time frame all of the wounded had been medi-vaced to 12th Evacuation hospital in Cu Chi by either the C and C ship or 159th Medical Battalion dustoff aircraft.

By 1000 hours the entire ambush area had been swept clear and the evacuation of the disabled convoy vehicles began. The enemy had departed sometime before dawn.
 Five of the prime movers caught in the ambush the day before were total losses, but all of the trailers with the artillery ammunition were in good shape and there was little loss of ammunition. The unit commanders reported an estimated one hundred four enemy killed and twice that number wounded while U.S. losses were nineteen killed and fourty-nine wounded. Seven of the dead and ten of the wounded being truckers. 25th Aviation Battalion sustained one wounded. There were also two MIA's.
After the battle Colonel Wolf stated: “This defeat of the enemy ambush was largely due to the professionalism and fighting spirit of the 1st Brigade units and their comrades-in-arms from the 3rd Squadron, 4th Armored Cavalry, the division artillery, and the aircrews of the 25th Aviation Battalion, who displayed the best traditions of the U.S. Army in coming to the aid of a friendly unit and fighting alongside it with great valor and sacrifice.”

Two slicks were dispatched to the 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry for coordination of picking up the 19 KIA's. This is one of the most gruesome jobs any aviator could possibly have.


There were two Americans taken prisoner during the ambush. Specialist fourth class Bobby Louis Johnson of Detroit and Staff Sgt. Kenneth R. Gregory of Altus, Okla., both of the 62nd TC, were captured late in the fight. They were held in a VC 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 to them 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 Seargeant Gregory.
 “When they picked me up, I was actually crying,” Gregory was quoted as saying. He had escaped four days earlier and had been wandering 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 POW's 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

LB 636 down at Trung Lap, All safe.
Chopper Crew Does Job of 14

CU CHI - A job usually given to an entire assault helicopter company was handled recently by one helicopter from the 25th Aviation Battalion when elements of an infantry battalion needed to be transported to their night location.
Because of a tactical emergency during the day, 85 Golden Dragon troopers of the 2d Battalion, 14th Infantry, had lost helicopter support and at dusk they were five miles from their night location near Phu Long. Intelligence reports indicated a numerically superior enemy force in the area.
Because of the tactical situation, only Little Bear 086 from Company A, 25th Aviation Battalion was able to respond when word was received that the Golden Dragons had to be extracted.
With heavy cloud cover blocking the moonlight and only radio contact for prior planning, the Little Bear’s four-man crew, commanded by First Lieutenant Julian Clements of Tifton, Ga., located the infantrymen and started the shuttle. Without gunship escort and with the decreasing number of troops in the pick-up zone, time was critical.
Commented Clements, “The mission was extra hazardous because the landing zone was surrounded by tall trees. Because of this, we had to use our lights and come over and go straight down.”
In two hours and 45 minutes, picking up six men at a time, 086 flew 14 sorties and safely removed the Golden Dragons.

LB667 hit by schrapnel on Ground at FSB Darby
Dau Tieng under ground Attack
Diamondheads Give Support During Seven Hour Battle

  CU CHI - More than seven hours of continuous fire support was provided by Diamondhead gunships from Company B, 25th Aviation Battalion, as a platoon-sized ambush patrol from the 2d Battalion, 27th Infantry, beat back enemy attacking from three sides.  Firing as close as 15 meters from the friendly position, the choppers were guided by a fire of burning clothes and boots.
  While performing counter-mortar duties at Dau Tieng Base Camp, the Diamondhead 20 light fire team was called to assist the besieged infantrymen near Tay Ninh City. Enroute to the contact area, the fire team leader Second Lieutenant Neil M. Weems, received the tactical briefing from the ground commander.  The U.S. element was surrounded on three sides with the enemy no more than 30 meters from the friendly unit's perimeter.
  Arriving at the contact area, a more thorough briefing revealed the situation to be critical.  The Wolfhounds had suffered numerous casualties, and their ammunition supply was dangerously low. The seriousness of the situation was magnified by the lack of any means to mark the limits of their perimeter, which prevented immediate fire support.
  The urgency of the mission heightened when the ground commander reported he had visual contact with numerous enemy as close as 15 meters to his perimeter and expressed doubt that, due to critical ammunition shortage and massing enemy troops, he would be able to withstand the imminent ground attack.
   As a last resort for position identification, the infantrymen set fire to a pile of clothes, boots and anything else they could find. With this one light, aided by artillery illumination, immediate firing passes were initiated by the Diamondheads.  After expending all rocket and minigun ordnance the situation remained such that the Diamondheads resorted to firing personal weapons.
   Having expended all ordnance aboard and dangerously low on fuel, a member of the fire team, First Lieutenant Kenneth Griffith, an artillery officer, adjusted supporting artillery fires enabling an airborne forward observer to pinpoint the location of the ground unit.
  With repeated passes through enemy ground fire, it became apparent that continuous air support was required.  Coordinating with his wing ship, commanded by Warrant Officer Robert H. Moore, Weems arranged to have one gunship continue to engage the target while the other aircraft returned to Tay Ninh to rearm.
   The continuous fire support over a seven-hour period was instrumental in deterring the imminent ground attack long enough to allow reinforcements to reach the area.  Later sweeps of the area revealed that at least 56 enemy were killed in the fierce battle.  

LB 814 took schrapnel in tail rotor
LB 557 Hit tree at XT632338, major damage, pipesmoke
FSB Buell under ground attack, Tay Ninh on Red Alert, DH reports 40-50 antiaircraft around Buell
FSB Buell Forces Crush Enemy Drive

  1ST BDE - The apparent lull in the Vietnam conflict ended for units of the 25th Infantry Division and Vietnamese forces in Tay Ninh Province.  Base camps, fire support locations and numerous outposts came under heavy enemy fire as a determined Viet Cong force attempted to overrun U.S. positions.
   The attacks triggered a two-day battle filled with fierce fighting as 179 Viet Cong soldiers were killed near Tay Ninh City before pulling back late Monday. The attacks were apparently aimed at denying U.S. and Vietnamese control of the city itself.
  Initial action was triggered as an ambush patrol from Delta Company, 2d Battalion, 27th Infantry spotted an estimated enemy battalion three miles northeast of Tay Ninh City.  As they let the Viet Cong force deliberately pass their ambush site they engaged the enemy's rear elements while coordinated artillery fire blasted away at the front of the column.  Five VC were killed in the action, two rifles and one pistol captured.
  At Fire Support Base Buell II, only three and a half miles to the northwest, base personnel were alerted by the ambush and were aware of the imminent danger.  They were ready when at 1:23 am, 75 to 100 rounds of 82mm mortar and 12 rounds of 107mm rocket fire crashed into their perimeter.
   Moving under the cover of the rockets and mortars, an estimated enemy battalion made a vicious ground attack on the base, hitting first in the direction of the 7th Battalion, 11th Artillery.  During the following four-hour battle, the fire base was hit from the southeast and northwest.
  Small arms and sustained automatic weapons fire plagued the staunch U.S. defenders. The 105mm howitzers from Bravo Battery, 7th Battalion, 11th Artillery and the 155mm guns of Alpha Battery, 3d Battalion, 13th Artillery retaliated with point blank fire.  Elements from the 3d Battalion, 22d Infantry, 4th Battalion (Mechanized), 23d Infantry and 2d Battalion 34th Armor delivered a devastating fire into the VC as they pushed their attack.
   As the elements of the 9th NVA Division attacked from the shelter of a nearby banana plantation to the northwest, Base Coordinator Lieutenant Colonel Alexander H. Hunt, battalion commander of the 3d Battalion, 22d Infantry directed the artillerymen to use direct fire on the approaching enemy.
The VC attempted to penetrate the perimeter of the fire support base, and met a wall of flame and steel from the hard-working artillerymen. Within seconds the 155mm howitzers of Alpha Battery, 3d Battalion, 13th Artillery (The Clan), under Captain Clifford Crittsinger, joined the 105s of the threatened Bravo Battery under Captain Robert A. Snyder in presenting tremendous firepower to the stunned enemy.
  Lieutenant Colonel Hunt used flare ships and called U.S. Air Force tactical air strikes within 150 meters of the perimeter.  Helicopter gunships from Delta Troop, 3d Squadron, 4th Cavalry and Bravo Troop, 25th Aviation Battalion continually strafed the enemy with machine gun fire and rocket attacks.  They were assisted by the 187th Assault Helicopter Company, under the operational control of the 25th Infantry Division.
  As the shattered enemy assault forces began to retreat, the 7th Battalion, 11th Arty followed their movement with continuous fire from their 105mm howitzers. Twenty minutes later, another assault force attacked from the southeast. This time The Clan was directly faced with the charging enemy.
   Leveling their self-propelled howitzers, the artillerymen once again fired round upon round directly into the enemy's front.  Howitzer crews of both batteries continued to man their pieces despite small arms fire and automatic weapons fire throughout the attack.
  Heavy fighting continued until 4:40am when the enemy started retreating after suffering heavy casualties from the combined Infantry, Artillery and Armor team at the fire support base. Eighty-three enemy were killed while American forces suffered only one killed and 26 wounded.  Over 700 rounds of artillery alone were expended.
  “It was a real joint effort. The artillery batteries here did a real fine job as did the tank's direct fire,” commented Major Jerome Johnson, the 3d Bn, 22nd Infantry Operations Officer from Green Bay, Wis.
  Meanwhile, Tay Ninh base camp was attacked at 1:15am during the enemy operation but little damage resulted from the five 82mm mortar rounds and the nineteen 107mm rockets hurled inside the perimeter.
   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.
  At 7:20 am Monday, Bravo Company, 1st Battalion (Mechanized), 5th Infantry made contact with prowling enemy units three and a half miles due west of Dau Tieng base camp. Two VC companies unleashed small arms, automatic weapons and RPG fire on the infantrymen.
  Throughout the day, the Bobcats aggressively fought the enemy, proving too strong for them by 4:30 pm when the VC broke contact.  Forty-two Viet Cong bodies were found.
  During the coordinated attacks, Tay Ninh City was hit as the VC mortared the district headquarters in an attempt to move into the city itself. An unknown size enemy force was reported in the city.
  As the Regional Force and Popular Force units in the area, assisted by the 51st ARVN Ranger Battalion moved in to rout the VC, it became evident that the enemy could not hold their quarters and the Long Hoa market district, fled to the southwest at night after two firefights between 5 and 8 o'clock at night.
   Early Monday morning, the Vietnamese soldiers including elements of the 4th Battalion, 23d Infantry and 2d Battalion, 34th Armor who maintained blocking positions in the southern city limits, swept the city.  The sweep confirmed that the enemy had left the city itself. During the two days of fighting around the city, these units killed 14 VC while tactical air strikes accounted for another nine enemy killed.
   During the actions, 16 AK-47 rifles, two RPG-7 launchers and 32 rounds, 11 RPG-2 launchers and 84 rounds, six .51 caliber machine guns and one .30 caliber with two barrels, one M-16, one radio, 214 hand grenades and 40 rifle grenades, 4,000 rounds of AK-47 ammunition and twenty-one 57mm recoilless rifle rounds and 10 pounds of documents were captured. Thirteen enemy soldiers were detained for questioning.
FSB Buell under Ground Attack
Pilots Brave Bullets To Bring In Ammo

  CU CHI - A 25th Aviation Battalion helicopter crew braved heavy enemy fire to resupply an Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) compound under attack from the Viet Cong.
  Responding to the call for more ammunition was a Company A, 25th Aviation Battalion Huey, commanded by Warrant Officer Pat Lawlor of Plattsburg, Mo., and piloted by Major Jerry “Doe” Holliday of Memphis, Tenn.
   It was after midnight when Lawlor and Holliday had the needed ammunition loaded into their Little Bear helicopter at Trang Bang. They then took off in a heavy rain storm and proceeded north to the compound near X Rung Cay.
   Lawlor and Holliday orbited their craft at 2,000 feet over the compound for a time, hoping the barrage of RPG's, mortars and small arms fire would subside.
  However, with the ARVN's need for more ammunition now desperate, Lawlor and Holliday could wait no longer. Down into the volley of fire they took their craft, guiding in on a small light near the middle of the compound.
   The doorgunner, Specialist 4 Carlos Pizza of Astoria, N.Y., and crew chief Specialist 4 Ronald Robinson of Midland, Tex., gripped the triggers of their M-60 machine guns and tried to distinguish the enemy and friendly fire.
   The helicopter landed safely near some concertina wire and the ammunition was quickly unloaded. In less than 40 seconds the Huey headed back into the sky, luckily taking only a few hits from small arms fire.
   With their mission accomplished, Lawlor and Holliday took their craft back to Cu Chi as gunships flew in to support the ARVN's.

DH 876 down XT197507 unk cause
DH961 Rotor blade hit
Diamondhead's Smokey Is An Infantry Favorite

  CU CHI - In the world they call it smog - and most people are annoyed by it.  In Vietnam, they call it smoke - and the infantrymen love it.
  Diamondhead helicopters of Company B, 25th Aviation Battalion, create the smog in the area.  The smoke dispensing helicopter, appropriately named Smokey, is capable of laying a smoke screen by flying low-level and dispensing smoke over the desired area.
  Smokey is used to shield friendly elements by denying the enemy a visual target, and can be effectively employed by ground forces or in airmobile operations, day or night.
  Diamondhead Smokey was used recently by one infantry unit to enable them to evacuate wounded men.  Enemy fire prevented the infantrymen from getting to the wounded until Smokey screened them from the enemy's view.
  The smoke ship made numerous passes over and in front of the enemy. Each time, Smokey received intense enemy fire.  Continuing even after darkness had fallen, Smokey made it possible for the friendly elements to recover their casualties and continue the offensive on the enemy positions.
   In the airmobile concept, Smokey is employed to shield the troop-carrying slicks in the landing zone and enable the inserted troops to assume an offensive position.  On one such mission recently, Smokey was the first to discover that the landing zone was hot.
  Asked about the intensity of enemy fire, Captain Jerry Boyington, executive officer for the Diamondheads, said: “It was as it they were in the back seat shooting at us.” Boyington really felt smoked when a round passed through both of his boots. However, the wounds were minor, and he was smoking for another combat assault two days later.
  The statement “Smoking may be hazardous to your health” certainly applies to flying the smoke ship since the crew must constantly expose themselves to enemy fire to successfully complete their mission.
LB 613 Flying defoliation mission 20-30 feet off ground, set off claymore mine, gunner hit, hospitalized
Routine Mission Turns Out To Be Headache

By SP4 Tom Quinn
  CU CHI - It was to be a routine mission. The Company A, 25th Aviation Battalion, Huey took off from the Blaster pad at Cu Chi at 8:30 in the evening.
  Warrant Officer Randy Juge of New Orleans, La., the aircraft commander, and First Lieutenant John Lebansky of Glen Cove, N.Y., the pilot, has been diverted from a counter-mortar mission to pick up three detainees held by a 25th Division infantry unit seven miles northwest of Duc Hoa.
   As the helicopter approached the location, Juge - nicknamed Cage by his cohorts - flipped on the radio to one of the frequencies designated to contact the infantry unit. On the one frequency he could hear only the chatter of Vietnamese voices.  He flipped on the other frequency.
  Upon making radio contact Cage was requested to land from east to west.  The strobe light which would direct him in would come from a dike on a rice paddy and the copter should land to the right and bottom of the light. There was a tree line further to the right so Cage should be careful.
   Cage lowered the craft to 100 feet and then turned on his search light to scan the landing zone. Below, through the haze, he could see the soldier with the strobe light lying on a dike trying to conceal himself in the foliage as much as possible.  To the left, Cage spotted other soldiers lying scattered along a road.
  Cage turned off the light and brought the craft down, turning the light on for the last 20 feet. The Huey landed at the predetermined spot and a soldier brought over one detainee. The MP aboard helped him in. The detainee threw himself onto the floor and covered his head, knowing perhaps what was to come.
   As Cage waited for the other two detainees to be put aboard all hell broke loose. From seemingly all directions, mortars flew, RPG's cut through the air and small arms fire cracked in the night.
   It seemed evident that the Viet Cong had been waiting patiently for the helicopter to land and now they concentrated all their firepower on it.
  Cage hesitated to take off thinking the other two detainees were to be put aboard. The doorgunners' fingers twitched on their triggers but without permission from the aircraft commander they could not fire. To open fire was out of the question since the American positions were not known.
  Cage waited no longer.  He pulled pitch and took off. When he got about 20 feet off the ground an armor-piercing AK-47 round cut into the right side of the copter by the cockpit pillar passing six inches behind the head of Lebansky and tearing into Cage's helmet, grazing his forehead and then exiting out the left door.
  The impact of the bullet ripped Cage's helmet off, shattered his visor and thrust the upper part of his body violently to the left and down onto the control panel, ramming his chest into the cyclic stick.
  It was hard to imagine that the bullet had such force. But as Cage would later recall, “It felt like I was hit with a brick.”
   For a terrifying moment, control of the ship was lost as the copter dipped back toward the ground.
  In these frenzied seconds Lebansky might well have taken over control of the craft. However, since Cage's helmet had been knocked off he was unable to communicate with Lebansky and the pall of darkness and din of battle prevented Lebansky from quickly noticing Cage's plight.
   Besides, there was nothing unusual about the way the helicopter dipped; often this is done to gain air speed.
  As the volley of fire continued to be concentrated on the ship, Cage struggled to regain his senses.  He had lost control of his craft at its weakest moment. When a helicopter goes out of control from 10 to 100 feet, it has very little airspeed and usually goes into what pilots call the “deadman's drop.” The helicopter would almost assuredly slam into the ground, tumble over and burst into flame.
  Groping for his helmet and fumbling for the cyclic stick at the same time, Cage finally got hold of the cyclic and pulled it back.  The helicopter streaked into the safety of the sky.
  At 800 feet Cage put his helmet back on and told Lebansky to take over the controls. Cage then radioed ahead and explained the situation.
   While heading back for Cu Chi, Cage was still somewhat dazed and disoriented. He didn't know for sure how badly he had been hurt. But, he realized he had been lucky.
   He thought how when the bullet struck he had been sitting back in his seat while usually he piloted his ship, like many other pilots, by leaning over like a jockey. In such a position he would have been hit dead center in the head.
   Coming into Cu Chi, Cage had planned to drop off at the 25th Medical Battalion. But as the copter came over the 12th Evac Hospital's pad, Cage, seeing the big red cross, told the pilot, “Put her down here.”
   Cage walked into the emergency entrance of the hospital and, spotting two doctors and a nurse, asked if anyone had a band-aid. He told them that a bullet had gone through his helmet and creased his forehead. But nobody seemed to take him seriously until one of the doorgunners walked in with the helmet. Then as Cage remembers it, “Their jaws dropped.”
  After his wound was cleaned and he was given a tetanus shot, Cage scurried back to the pad and hopped into his helicopter.  He took over the controls, doing the job he liked best.
  That night, he signed the mission sheet off as an average counter-mortar mission.   
DH 170 Battle damage to main rotor
DH 111 Battle damage to tail rotor
Cobra down at XT3926, DH 657 (AH1G 488 and UH1-C  210 down)
Information on U.S. Army helicopter UH-1C tail number 66-15210
Date: 10/04/68
Accident case number: 681004182 Total loss or fatality Accident
Unit: B/25 AVN 25 INF
Number killed in accident = 0 . . Injured = 1 . . Passengers = 0
Source(s) from which the incident was created or updated: Army Aviation Safety Center database.
Summary: Mid-air with 67-15488.

Crew Members:
CE RG Leonard
G J Cardin

Accident Summary:
The flight of three helicopters had been engaged on a sniffer mission north of Nui Ba Den and were returning to Cu Chi after refueling at Tay Ninh. The flight was composed of one UH-1D flying in the lead at 2500 feet approximately 1/2 mile in front of the gunships. The UH-1C and AH-1G were at 2000 feet with the UH-1C leading in a tactical trail. The time was 1500 hours on 4 October 68. At 1505, the AH-1G aircraft commander notified the UH-1C aircraft commander that he was coming up on his right wing to fly formation. The aircraft commander of the UH-1C "rogered" this transmission and continued on his flight path. After approximately one minute of formation flight, the Cobra aircraft commander noted he was too close to the UH-1C. This fact was also noted by the doorgunner of the UH-1C who mentioned it to WO Robert Moore. The aircraft commander of the AH-1G then applied right cyclic to move his aircraft away from the UH-1C. At that time, the rotor blades of the two aircraft made contact. The AH-1G immediately entered an unusual attitude and then further went into a steep descending left turn. Both pilots of the Cobra state the aircraft was almost uncontrollable and was vibrating severely. The aircraft commander made an emergency transmission over the radio. Both pilots were attempting to control the cyclic and the aircraft commander was controlling the collective pitch. The pilot was unable to assist the aircraft commander with the antitorque pedals due to the extreme vibration. As the aircraft neared the ground both pilots executed a flare to dissipate their airspeed. All available collective pitch was applied and the aircraft struck the ground in a relatively level, but slightly sideways attitude. The skids of the Cobra were spread evenly. The aircraft rolled over on its right side. The pilot exited through his door using the emergency jettison handle. The aircraft commander exited through the left side of his canopy using his breakout knife. Both pilots were not wearing their clear visors down because they interfered with their vision. The pilot was wearing gloves but the aircraft commander was not. Their sleeves were rolled down and helmet chin straps were fastened. In the meantime the UH-1C was descending straight ahead experiencing a severe 1 to 1 vertical vibration. The aircraft commander had also made an emergency transmission. It required the efforts of both pilots to maintain control of the aircraft. No turns were made in the descent and the aircraft was landed with power in approximately two feet of water. After landing the aircraft was shut down as expeditiously as possible, and the crew set up a small defensive perimeter. The crew of the UH-1D, after hearing the emergency transmission executed an immediate left turn and saw both aircraft going down
This record was last updated on 05/07/01

Information on U.S. Army helicopter AH-1G tail number 67-15488
The Army purchased this helicopter 0268
Total flight hours at this point: 00000191
Date: 10/04/68
Accident case number: 681004181 Total loss or fatality Accident
Unit: B/25 AVN 25 INF
The station for this helicopter was Cu Chi in
Number killed in accident = 0 . . Injured = 0 . . Passengers = 0
costing 120060
Source(s) from which the incident was created or updated: Army Aviation Safety Center database.

Crew Members:

Accident Summary:
The flight of three helicopters had been engaged on a sniffer mission north of Nui Ba Den and were returning to Cu Chi after refueling at Tay Ninh. The flight was composed of one UH-1D flying in the lead at 2500 feet approximately 1/2 mile in front of the gunships. The UH-1C and AH-1G were at 2000 feet with the UH-1C leading in a tactical trail. The time was 1500 hours on 4 October 68. At 1505, the AH-1G aircraft commander notified the UH-1C aircraft commander that he was coming up on his right wing to fly formation. The aircraft commander of the UH-1C "rogered" this transmission and continued on his flight path. After approximately one minute of formation flight, the Cobra aircraft commander noted he was too close to the UH-1C. This fact was also noted by the doorgunner of the UH-1C who mentioned it to WO Robert Moore. The aircraft commander of the AH-1G then applied right cyclic to move his aircraft away from the UH-1C. At that time, the rotor blades of the two aircraft made contact. The AH-1G immediately entered an unusual attitude and then further went into a steep descending left turn. Both pilots of the Cobra state the aircraft was almost uncontrollable and was vibrating severely. The aircraft commander made an emergency transmission over the radio. Both pilots were attempting to control the cyclic and the aircraft commander was controlling the collective pitch. The pilot was unable to assist the aircraft commander with the antitorque pedals due to the extreme vibration. As the aircraft neared the ground both pilots executed a flare to dissipate their airspeed. All available collective pitch was applied and the aircraft struck the ground in a relatively level, but slightly sideways attitude. The skids of the Cobra were spread evenly. The aircraft rolled over on its right side. The pilot exited through his door using the emergency jettison handle. The aircraft commander exited through the left side of his canopy using his breakout knife. Both pilots were not wearing their clear visors down because they interfered with their vision. The pilot was wearing gloves but the aircraft commander was not. Their sleeves were rolled down and helmet chin straps were fastened. In the meantime the UH-1C was descending straight ahead experiencing a severe 1 to 1 vertical vibration. The aircraft commander had also made an emergency transmission. It required the efforts of both pilots to maintain control of the aircraft. No turns were made in the descent and the aircraft was landed with power in approximately two feet of water. After landing the aircraft was shut down as expeditiously as possible, and the crew set up a small defensive perimeter. The crew of the UH-1D, after hearing the emergency transmission executed an immediate left turn and saw both aircraft going down
This record was last updated on 04/14/99
DH535 down at Trung Lap possible hits to oil pressure hoses
LB 814 has engine failure at POL
LB 134 (2nd Brig C&C) hit, changing ships
DH814 had damage due to other aircraft hovering over
DH new cobra arrives #672
Gen Williamson inspects bomb racks used on UH-1D (LB 629 and others)
DH805 down at XT298362 rotor damage
DH170 Lost rocket pod over mushroom
Aircraft down and burning at XT665400 (b-57)?
Parchutes sighted, pilots Ok
Quick Huey Crew Doubles Up, Rescues Stranded Jet Pilots

By SP4 Jim Brayer
  CU CHI - The crew of a UH1D Huey helicopter rescued two grounded Air Force aviators only 15 minutes after their RB57 photo reconnaissance plane crashed 15 miles east of Dau Tieng.
   It took about 25 minutes from the time their distress signal was received until they reached Cu Chi's 12th Evacuation Hospital.
  First Lieutenant John H. Webb, commander of the rescue chopper, and. Warrant Officer Jeffrey M. O'Hara, pilot, are assigned to Company A Little Bears, 25th Aviation Battalion.
  Air Force Major James W. Johnston, pilot of the unarmed recon aircraft later said that one of its two engines developed trouble, and the plane went out of control. “It went into a starboard roll and was inverted when we ejected from the craft,” he said.
  He and his navigator, Major Philip N. Walker, managed to radio a distress signal before bailing out at 5,000 feet.  They had been on a photo mission for Detachment 1 of the 460th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing.
  Johnston stated that they parachuted to the ground uninjured about 2,000 meters from the wreckage of their aircraft.
   When they touched ground, both heard small arms and automatic weapons fire from what seemed to be two enemy troops. Johnston, some 200 or 300 meters from Walker, landed in waist-deep water in a rice paddy.  He sloshed his way through about six more paddies, trying to get away from the bright red and white chute.
  Noticing an O-1 Bird Dog light scout plane circling the area, Johnston tried to raise radio contact, but his portable radio refused to function. Finally he was able to signal the scout plane with a mirror, a part of his survival kit.
   Walker had landed in the river, but when he heard the gunfire, he untangled himself from the parachute straps and slid to the edge of a thicket.
    Meanwhile, Webb and his crew were flying a routine general support mission from Tay
Ninh to southeast of Dau Tieng. They had five passengers with them. “Our ship was almost at
gross weight,” Webb explained.
  Suddenly, at 11:30 a.m., they received a distress signal from an aircraft in trouble.
   Within ten minutes after the call, Webb and his Huey were in the rescue area. He saw the Bird Dog circling around overhead, and took his chopper in low. The commander spotted the brightly colored parachute on the rice paddy where Johnston landed and saw a nearby smoke signal.
  Knowing that his Huey wouldn't hover over the water with the size load he had aboard, Webb took his five passengers to a nearby dry clearing, where they disembarked and set up a perimeter.
  When they went in to rescue the Air Force pilot, he said he wasn't hurt and that Walker was nearby, toward the thick tree line.
  Johnston piled in with his equipment, and they proceeded to pick up Walker. Later, Johnston described the rescue as working like “clockwork.”
   After the five other passengers were again aboard, Webb guided his craft to the scene of the crash, planning to set up a perimeter around the wreckage.
  “All we saw was a hole that resembled a B-52 bomb crater. The plane was demolished and litter was strewn all around the area.”
  Feeling it safe to leave the wreckage, Webb and his crew returned to Cu Chi with their Air Force comrades
DH961 down at Duc Hoa, compressor stall
DH 111 has engine failure on final approach, everyone ok
LB conducts emergency resupply to Patton II
Chopper Crew Chief An Everyday Hero

By WO1 Donald Mattingly
  CU CHI - Out of the war in Vietnam have come many heroes. The single heroic acts of soldiers are recognized with medals and praise. But, the day-to-day heroism of men doing dangerous but necessary jobs often goes unnoticed by most.
   One such everyday hero is perhaps the helicopter crew chief. Warrant Officer Donald M. Mattingly, a chopper pilot with Company A, 25th Aviation Battalion, knows the crew chief well and depends on his competence. He has this to say:
  “As each and every infantryman will tell you, the chopper is his lifeblood. It delivers his supplies, takes out his wounded, and extracts his fellow soldier in time of imminent danger.
  “The man on the ground watches as the Huey comes in; piloted by, I am sure, the equivalent of the daring men of World War I who flew against the `Red Baron.' With enemy tracers streaking by the chopper, the crew defies all to bring needed supplies to the ground unit.
  “As the Hueys head for home, the infantryman says a quiet thanks to the pilot.
  “And yet, there is another man, less known and even less glorified who should be included, for without this man, all the money and all the aircraft available would be useless. This man is the crew chief.
  “The crew chief is the man responsible for the aircraft being operational. He sits in the left gunner's seat and shares the dangers of each mission with the pilots.
  “We call him a man but in reality he is an 18- to 20-year-old boy fresh out of Advanced Individual Training (AIT). He is a boy who, for the first time in his life is away from home.  He is a boy who is on the aircraft an hour before the pilot, insuring that all is well; the same boy who rides shotgun on the M-60 machine gun when flying; the same boy who continues to work on the aircraft when the mission is completed.
  “And after he has finished work on the aircraft, this same boy pulls guard duty, K.P., and does additional work in maintenance. It is a misnomer to call this individual a boy because he matures fast and leaves as a man.
  “As a pilot who depends on the competence and judgment of the crew chief, I wish to say to them: Thank you for a job well done.”

2-22 Fights VC Squad

  CU CHI - In a short but sharp afternoon clash with an estimated enemy squad, Company B, 2d Battalion (Mechanized), 22d Infantry, killed two Viet tong and captured one AK-47 assault rifle.
  The 3d Brigade unit was on a reconnaissance in force through wooded terrain three miles east of Go Dau Ha when it came under enemy sniper fire.  Immediately, Captain Malcolm Waitt, B Company commander from Montgomery, Ala., turned the guns of his armored personnel carriers loose on the enemy positions, flushing out ten Viet Cong.
  While the enemy fled, two were cut down by the riflemen. Cobra gunships from the 25th Aviation Battalion's Diamondhead Company then arrived on the scene, pasting the enemy area with rocket and minigun fire.
  The Triple Deuce company pushed into the area and uncovered an enemy base camp of more than 30 bunkers. The riflemen also recovered the weapon and web gear from the enemy dead.
   Two days later, Triple Deuce along with two companies of Vietnamese Marines swept back into the base camp to destroy the enemy positions and in the process captured stockpiled enemy equipment, food, and ammunition
LB 769 Took small arms fire at XT5617, hit forward of crosstubes
3 aircraft down XT545165, 1 aircraft down XT555135
5 ship lift off to Persing to pickup security force for downed aircraft.
Mortar Attack - 6 rounds in Battalion area, 5 at airfield
Phu Cong bridge under attack
FSB Patton under ground attack
LB 086 Hydraulic failure, landed safely on active
ADAO notified that "Charlie" aircraft down at XT564106, LB 086 reports all occupants killed
Report of NVA Regimental size in Angel Wing
FSB Reed Under ground attack
LB 134 received several hits, no injuries at XT525213
Pilot Gets Lieutenant's Bars Through New Army Policy

  Would you believe W01-CW2-2LT in nine days? Second Lieutenant Larry W. McCabe, an Army aviator serving with A Company (Little Bears), 25th Aviation Battalion, has probably set a new Army record.  McCabe went through three pay grades, from a Warrant Officer to a Commissioned Officer in nine short days.
  On October 24, WOl McCabe was promoted from WOl to CW2, something that happens every day. However nine days later on November 2 Brigadier General Glen C. Long, assistant division commander, commissioned, then CW2 McCabe, to the rank of second lieutenant, something that does not happen every day.
   McCabe, winner of two Distinguished Flying Crosses, twenty Air Medals, and a Bronze Star during his Viet Nam tour will shortly depart to attend the Basic Armor course at Fort Knox, Kentucky.
DH539 down at Trung Lap low oil pressure
LB 764 down in secure area , Hit by ground fire XT570175 Pipesmoke
DH10 hit by ground fire at XT5537
Arty Boasts Mobility

  CU CHI - The ability of artillery to keep up with the infantry anytime, anywhere, is a vital factor in the success of ground operations throughout the Republic of Vietnam.
  Recently, B Battery, 7th Battalion, 11th Artillery began a clearance operation of Fire Support Base Hines and demonstrated again the ability to quickly react to infantry plans.
  The clearance operation was accomplished by means of air mobilization.  Earlier, B Battery had been sent to a field position near the Cambodian border. The reason for this location was that a VC supply route was suspected in the area.
   Their mission was to fire artillery support for the 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Wolfhounds. The six days at FSB Hines were spent firing, building bunkers and securing their position.  During this period, B battery fired more than one thousand prep rounds for infantry maneuvers. Upon completion of their mission the clearance operation began.
  Airlifting from the field to the base camp is definitely a large-scale operation.  In fact, the whole fire support base is literally picked up and airlifted back to the base camp.
  In the course of the operation, 35 round trips were made by the Chinooks and Sky Cranes. Whole loads weighed approximately 8,000 and 14,000 pounds, respectively.
  The resupply pad at Tay Ninh base camp was a rush of constant activity.  The big choppers would come in and drop off loads, which were quickly loaded onto trucks that had to move out immediately in order to make room for the next drop.  The action took place in the midst of swirling, stinging winds and the thunderous noise caused by the mighty aircrafts.
  Despite these constant hazards, the operation came off smoothly, swiftly and in a professional manner. The air transportation was supplied by the 2d Battalion, 22d Aviation, Vung Tau, and the 242d Helicopter Muleskinner's Company, Aviation Battalion, Cu Chi. Working with the helicopters were the 25th Aviation Battalion, Pathfinders Detachment.
  The clearance of FSB Hines and the air mobilization of B Battery, 7th Battalion, 11th Artillery, was a complete success. The entire operation took but four hours and is not only an amazing accomplishment but a credit to the United States Army and all personnel involved.
Mortar Attack
Mortar attack. I round hits near bunker 54 , Sgt Martin wounded
Mortar Attack
LB 764 Down at Trung Lap Hole in transmission, all safe
25th Avn Bn Awarded Two Unit Citations

   In parade ceremonies at the 25th Aviation Battalion, Major General Ellis W. Williamson decorated the colors of that unit with the Valorous Unit Award and the Meritorious Unit Award.
   The Battalion was cited as a valorous unit for action July 19 1966, south of the Saigon River in the Ho Bo Woods when two infantry platoons made contact with entrenched Viet Cong forces and called for gunship support.
   Gunship crews of the 25th Aviation Battalion responded aggressively engaging the hostile force, flying fearlessly at treetop level through intense ground fire.  Despite the increasing barrage, they effectively suppressed the enemy and prevented them from inflicting heavy losses on the American forces.
   In reinforcing the troops, transport helicopter crew braved the hostile fire and landed within 150 meters of the line of contact.
   Later, when the battalion was requested to extract friendly forces from the battlefield, pilots maneuvered their craft from point to point, to pick up the still savagely engaged forces and often landed within two meters. of wounded men so door gunners could quickly lift them inside.
   The 25th Aviation Battalion earned the Meritorious Unit Commendation during the period of April, 1966, to December, 1967.  In that period the total dedication of the battalion earned it the respect and admiration of all those with whom they served.
   The men of the battalion participated in all major tactical operations conducted by the maneuver elements, and in every instance, they acquitted themselves in an outstanding manner.
rocket attack
DH 539 took hits, 1 round in main rotor
Major attack on Tay Ninh, 2 ship emergency resupply of ammo, LB 757 down at Tay Ninh-Xmission
DH10 receives fire from 51cal at XT250305
DH085 hit on tail boom by mortar at Tay Ninh
DH672 hit by 50 cal round at XT040570