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After Action Reports 1
18th Military History Detachment
25th Infantry Division
APO San Francisco 96225
SUBJECT: Combat After Action Interview Report
1. NAME OF OPERATION: Cliff Dweller IV.
2. DATES OF OPERATION: 04 January - 11 January 1970.
3. LOCATION: Northeastern slope of Nui Ba Den (XT2860); Sheet Number 6231 IV N and IV S, Map Series L8020, 1:25,000; Phu Khuong District, Tay Ninh Province.
4. CONTROL HEADQUARTERS: 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division.
5. PERSONS BEING INTERVIEWED: See Inclosure 1.
6. INTERVIEWING OFFICER: Division Historian.
7. TASK ORGANIZATION:
a. Companies A, B, C, D and Reconnaissance Platoon, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry.
b. Company A, 2nd Battalion, 34th Armor.
c. Company A and one platoon, Company D, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry.
8. SUPPORTING FORCES:
(1) Battery B, 7th Battalion, 11th Artillery.
(2) Battery C, 3rd Battalion, 13th Artillery.
(3) Battery A, 7th Battalion, 9th Artillery.
(4) Battery B, 1st Battalion, 27th Artillery.
NOTE: During the period 4-12 January 1970, a total of 12,653 artillery rounds were fired, of which 648 were used on the landing zone preparation on Nui Cau.
b. Army Aviation.
(1) Company A, 25th Aviation Battalion (Little Bear)—CS and Flame Bath drops, resupply and MEDEVAC.
(2) Company B. 25th Aviation Battalion (Diamondhead)—Light Fire Teams.
(3) 1st Brigade Aviation LOHs (Yellow Jacket)—MEDEVAC.
(4) 187th Assault Helicopter Company (Crusaders)—Provided all lift support except extractions,
(5) 242nd Assault Support Helicopter Company (Muleskinner)—Resupply.
(6) Troop D, 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry (Centaur)—Light Fire Team, Visual Reconnaissance.
(7) Company A, 2nd Battalion, 20th Aerial Rocket Artillery (Blue Max)—helicopter gunships.
c. United States Air Force.
(1) Air Force Forward Air Controllers (OV-10).
(2) F-100 Tactical Fighters—Air Strikes.
(3) AC-119 (Shadow)—Gunship, flareship.
9. BACKGROUND IFORMATION: The primary mission of 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division is to destroy VC/NVA forces and their bases of operation, assist the Republic of Vietnam in rural development, pacification and civic
action programs; assist in training and provide support to RVNAF, and be prepared to reinforce US and ARVN forces within the TAOI as directed.
a. Enemy—Nui Ba Den is a headquarters location of elements of the "shadow" government, a staging area for attacks on Tay Ninh City and other allied installations in Tay Ninh Province, and a stopover point on the infiltration route through War Zone "C" from Cambodia to the 25th Infantry Division TAOI. Operation Cliff Dweller IV was one of a series of denial operations carried on by 1st Brigade on Nui Ba Den. In executing this operation, 1st Brigade assigned to the task the largest number of US troops ever to operate on Nui Ba Den mountain.
b. Terrain —The terrain of Nui Ba Den is unlike any other in the Division AO. The ancient granite mountain is very steeply sloped, covered with enormous boulders, honey-combed with caves, crevasses and tunnels and low, tangled undergrowth covers the greater part of the slopes (except for rock slides).
c. Weather—Generally the weather was very good—partly cloudy skies, not excessively warm. The altitude of Nui Ba Den allows for more cooling breezes than is normally experienced in other areas of Tay Ninh Province. The one natural phenomenon which caused a problem was that of drafts on the slopes of the mountain. Helicopters which were attempting to resupply US forces on the slopes of the mountain were unable to maintain position during the supply drops because of the heavy updrafts and downdraft.
11. MISSION: The primary concept of Operation Cliff Dweller IV was to sweep the northeastern slope of Nui Ba Den, killing and/or capturing as many enemy as possible to include supplies and materials which could be used by the enemy
12. CONCEPT OF OPERATION AND EXECUTION
On 4 January 1970, Operation Cliff Dweller IV commenced. The concept of the operation was to have two infantry companies sweep down the northeastern slope of the mountain and set up blocking positions a short distance from the bottom. (See Inclosure 2) A third infantry company would sweep the base of the mountain from southeast to northwest, link up with the other two companies and all three would sweep through the rock slide area (XT279603) to the base of the mountain. Supporting forces would be placed off the mountain, north and south of the rock slide area and on Nui Cau from which a commanding view of the area of operations is afforded.
At 0800 hours on 4 January the first of eight CH-47 sorties landed
Companies B and C, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry on Nui Ba Den at the Provisional Company installation (XT281582). Between 0915-0935 hours a four ship lift inserted the Reconnaissance Platoon, 3 -22 Inf on Nui Cau (XT271605) where they established a blocking position 200 meters east of the crest of Nui Cau (XT273605) and remained in that position for the duration of the operation. Companies B and C began moving down the northeastern slope of Nui Ba Den on two axes, Company B on the right axis, Company C on the left axis. Because of the difficulty of movement in such terrain, B,C/3-22 Inf progressed about 40% of the way down the mountain on the first day. At 0934 hours on 4 January the demolition team from Company A, 65th Engineer Battalion attached to C/3-22 Inf destroyed a booby trapped US fragmentation grenade approximately 150 meters from the line of departure.
Night defensive positions were established at approximately 1830-1900 hours as further progress was halted by the ensuing darkness. Company C established its night defensive position approximately 1700 meters north of the crest of Nui Ba Den (XT279598). Company B established its night defensive position approximately 1200 meters northeast from the crest of Nui Ba Den (XT238591). Some enemy probings were suspected during the first night but no actual contact was established. Because of the terrain on the mountain it was difficult for the units to establish perimeters as would be done on more favorable terrain. To offset this difficulty a series of strong points were established to serve as a perimeter, the most effective method of securing a night defensive position in such terrain.
Earlier on 4 January (0645 hours), Company A, 2nd Battalion, 34th Armor (-) and the 548 Regional Force Company occupied a blocking position at the northeastern base of the mountain (XT279608). Slightly to the southeast (XT293598), one platoon of tanks from A/2 34 Arm (-) and one platoon, Company D, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry established a second blocking position. Artillery support was provided by Battery C, 3rd Battalion, 13th Artillery and from 6 January on, one platoon of Battery B, 7th Battalion, 11th Artillery at Fire Support Base Bragg (XT334579). Security for the artillery was provided by one platoon, Company C, 4th Battalion (Mechanized), 23rd Infantry and the 163 Regional Force Company.
The first contact on 4 January occurred at 1925 hours when a sniper attached to Rcn/3-22 Inf observed and engaged three enemy soldiers 300 meters south southeast of the sniper's location with three rounds of M-14 killing one of the enemy.
At 0005 hours on 5 January an ambush position of Rcn/3-22 Inf smelled marijuana and detected movement 35-40 meters below their position to the east. Engaging the movement with hand grenades and sniper fire, one enemy soldier wearing black pajamas was killed. No return fire was received. The dead soldier was searched but he had neither weapons nor documents on him.
At approximately 0700-0730 hours on 5 January B,C/3-22 Inf continued the sweep down the mountainside. Because of rain the previous evening movement was very slow due to the rocks being slippery and wet. Very little forward progress was made the second day. About noon a 14 ship lift inserted Company A, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry in a landing zone secured by 1/A/2-34 Arm and 1/D/4-9 Inf. The company's mission was to execute a detailed reconnaissance from southeast to northwest along the base of the mountain to 200-300 meters up the slope. Companies B and C moved down the slope to set up a blocking position above the area to be swept by A/3-22 Inf. As Company A swept, Company B on the southernmost axis would swing behind Company A to protect its rear. Company C afforded protection from enemy fires from above.
Company A located one tunnel with a room attached (10x20x30) at 1635 hours (XT293595). Uncovered were a small VC camp with cooking area, two truck batteries, clothing and web gear. The room was large enough to accommodate 35 individuals. There were signs of recent activity within the last 72 hours. At 1945 hours Company B observed movement and a light 400 meters west of their night defensive position (XT289594). Engaging the movement with organic weapons all movement ceased and the light went out. At 1150 hours on the next day (6 January), A/3-22 Inf on a reconnaissance of this contact area located 12 graves containing 12 enemy killed by small arms fire. No weapons or documents were uncovered. The enemy dead were wearing green NVA uniforms
Operation Cliff Dweller IV continued as planned on 6 January. Company B moved out of its night defensive position at 0700 hours and continued to the bottom of the mountain where another night defensive position was established. Just before setting up, elements of B/3-22 Inf located three caves which they reconnoitered with fragmentation grenades. No return fire wee received. Company A continued moving across the lower slope of the mountain towards the rock slide area to the northwest (XT279603). Company C moved to within 400 meters of the base of the mountain and established a night defensive position
The last day of Operation Cliff Dweller IV was originally scheduled to be 7 January. But because of the contact made by B/3-22 Inf the previous day the operation was extended. (See Inclosure 3) During the 7th, the platoon from D/4-9 Inf securing the tank platoon of A/2-34 Arm at the southernmost blocking position was relieved by a Regional Force Company
At 1030 hours Company B while searching a cave (XT288599) located seven US M-1s, one SKS carbine, two M-72 LAWs, nine M-16 magazines (fully loaded), one can with 400 rounds of M-1 ammunition, one RPG round, one ChiCom hand grenade, one VC gas mask, one NVA shovel, four US poncho liners, two US canteens, one first aid packet, two bars of soap, US soy bean oil, C-ration cans, one fish net, one towel, four female pants, four sets of underwear with bells (female), one garden (15x20) and two enemy
killed by small arms fire and fragmentation grenades (accredited to A/3-22 Inf reconnaissance by fire of the cave the previous day). All explosives were destroyed by the demolition team from A/65th Engr and the weapons were sent to Tay Ninh Base Camp
At 1600 hours Company B located ten pounds of documents in a cave. Later information revealed that the documents consisted of tax receipts, meeting reports, envelopes, financial reports and medical certificates which mainly concerned the Toa Thanh District unit and District Committees, and a list of changes in LBNs (Letter Box Numbers) for the Toa Thanh (D) Sections and Associations to have become effective 17 September 1968. Because of the nature of the terrain it was impossible to tell whether or not there had been recent activity in the area. Fifteen minutes later (1615 hours), B/3-22 Inf observed eight enemy evading into a cave (XT286600). US forces attempted to get the enemy to Chieu Hoi, but were answered with fragmentation grenades, wounding three US so1diers. At 1820 hours the cave was engaged with CS and multi-shot flame thrower resulting in all eight of the enemy being ki1led.
The Reconnaissance Platoon observed one individual 125 meters northwest of their position at 2045 hours. Engaging the enemy with organic weapons, one enemy soldier was killed
Beginning on 8 January and lasting for the next two days till the operation ended on 11 January, US forces came under almost constant enemy fire during daylight hours—mostly in the form of highly accurate sniper fire from well-entrenched enemy elements. As US forces neared the area of the rock slide, enemy fires increased in their intensity. Only when forward movement slowed did the enemy fires slacken.
As Company A came adjacent to Company C's flank at about 0750 hours on 8 January (XT276604), heavy contact was established. The left point of Company C first received fire from 3-4 enemy at about 0800 hours. When return fire from M60 machine guns were placed on the enemy snipers, US forces began to receive a heavy volume of fire. The enemy returned fire with small arms, RPGs, sniper fire and M-79 CS rounds. As infantry elements engaged the enemy with organic weapons, air support saturated the area with fires from six light fire teams, three CS drops, one "Flame Bath" drop and seven TAC air strikes. Four artillery batteries (1827 rounds), main tank guns and automatic weapons fire from blocking forces were also brought to bear against the enemy all day.
A break in contact occurred at 0835 hours. Five minutes later Company A received small arms and RPG fire from an estimated enemy platoon from several small caves. The enemy continued to fire at US forces throughout the rest of the day, mainly sniper fire. Movement was extremely difficult because of the terrain and the necessity for US soldiers to expose their position when moving. Due to these factors, plus the highly
accurate enemy sniper fire, Company C was able to move only about 50-75 meters during the first two days of contact. At 1344 hours a resupply helicopter from Company A, 25th Aviation Battalion was hit by an RPG round. The helicopter crashed and burned. Three US personnel were wounded by shrapnel. The helicopter was totally destroyed. The helicopter was to be used to MEDEVAC two wounded US personnel. The two wounded US personnel awaiting MEDEVAC were killed by AH-1G (Cobra) rocket fire as the helicopter gunship was making a firing run to cover for the downed helicopter and its crew. This tragic accident would have never occurred had it not been for the close contact in which the US forces were involved and the confusion caused by intense enemy small arms and automatic weapons fire. Just prior to this incident a Kit Carson Scout was killed by an explosion of unknown origin. The Kit Carson Scout and two US personnel were attempting to move toward the downed helicopter when ordered by their platoon leader to withdraw. Just as the men started to make their withdrawal there was an explosion which knocked all three men to the ground. The two US personnel were not wounded but the Kit Carson Scout was killed by the concussion from the explosion. No cause for the explosion could be determined. This Kit Carson Scout (Tran Van Oi) and another Kit Carson Scout (Tran Van Vien) have been recommended for the award of the Silver Star for their bravery and valor during this operation.
At approximately 1800 hours the enemy broke contact. US forces established night defensive positions in place. No further contact was established during the ensuing period of darkness. Sixty-two enemy had been killed on this first day of heavy contact. After completing searches of the contact area, US forces evacuated one M-1 carbine, one SKS rifle, ten pounds of documents and five pounds of medical supplies. Six US soldiers were wounded during the initia1 enemy fires.
At 1958 hours on 8 January a member of Rcn/3-22 Inf was killed by enemy sniper fire. The soldier was helping unload a resupply drop amid moderate enemy sniper fire when the incident occurred. [NOTE: The authors of this report, SP4 Henry Walsh and SP4 Robert Wright initially attempted to report that this soldier died when accidentally crushed by a resupply load dropped from a CH-47. This fact was confirmed by multiple sources, including the aviators. They were ordered to change the paragraph to the wording used here; when they objected to the inaccuracy, they were threatened with reassignment to infantry duty by the division chief of staff.]
On 9 January Company D, 3-22 Inf relieved A/3-22 Inf in place at 1500 hours.
Company A moved 1.5 kilometers east of the mountain and was extracted to Tay Ninh Base Camp. Company D received sniper fire at the landing zone and all the way to Company A's position. Company D's mission was to sweep up the area of the rock slide and move up to the "saddle". Because of the accurate sniper fire D/3-22 Inf was unable to make any progress up the slope toward the enemy positions and remained in place until pulled off the mountain on 11 January. At 1600 hours Compan A, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry landed on Nui Cau and moved to the position secured by Rcn/3-22 Inf where the Company remained the night of 9 January.
During the morning hours of 9 January three tubes of 105mm howitzer of Battery B, 7th Battalion, 11th Artillery moved to the northern blocking position of A/2-34 Arm (-) to provide more accurate and direct artillery support. The 548 Regional Force Company securing this position was
replaced by B/3-22 Inf (-) during the afternoon of 9 January. One platoon from Company B provided security for the tank platoon at the southern blocking position. Company B would also act as a reaction force in support of the remaining 3-22 Inf elements on the mountain.
At 1000 hours on 9 January A,C/3-22 Inf received heavy sniper fire from an unknown number of enemy as the units continued to close on the enemy force in the rock slide area. US forces were attempting to sweep the hillside near the rock slide area but because the enemy was so well-entrenched that to continue trying to move forward too many casualties would be sustained. Securing the positions they had advanced to, US forces returned the enemy fire with organic weapons, one CS drop, five light fire teams, eight TAC air strikes, five "Flame Bath" drops and three artillery batteries killing 47 of the enemy in contact which lasted all day long. Two US soldiers were wounded during the initial anew fires, the only casualties of the action. At 1430 hours a MEDEVAC helicopter received heavy ground fire but suffered no casualties.
All during the three days of contact heavy enemy fires were directed at the resupply and MEDEVAC helicopters supporting the operation. Whenever helicopters approached the mountain on a mission the majority of enemy fire would be directed at them. A few of the enemy would try to place spraying suppressive fire on the US forces to protect other enemy soldiers who exposed themselves in the hope of damaging or destroying a helicopter. Though faced with this additional dangers resupply and MEDEVAC helicopters carried out their missions in a most admirable manner.
Fighting continued through most of the day (9 January), slackening off by mid-afternoon. Sporadic small arms fire was exchanged until approximately 1800 hours. During the night of 9-10 January the contact area was intermittently engaged by PSYOP broadcasts, helicopter gunships and artillery.
As dawn broke on 10 January US infantry elements again moved against the enemy forces entrenched in the cave-strewn area of the rock slide. Company A, 4-9 Inf moved down to the "saddle" at 0700 hours. Five hours later the Company moved 150 meters down from the "saddle" to establish a blocking position above the area of contact of C,D/3-22 Inf. At 0830 hours B,C,D/3-22 Inf and A/4-9 Inf began receiving small arms and RPG fire. US forces returned fire with organic weapons, one light fire team, three TAC air atrikes, two "Flame Bath" drops and three artillery batteries (1648 rounds) during the day long contact. At 0837 hours all firing ceased briefly. Enemy small arms and sniper fire began again at 1015 hours and abruptly ceased at 1025 hours.
As US forces continued to press the advantage the enemy continued his resistance. Firing picked up again at 1225 hours as the enemy directed
heavy small arms fire against approaching US forces. Fighting continued sporadically throughout the day until 1750 hours. Twenty enemy killed were credited to US fires.
The northern blocking force (XT286612) received a heavy volume of RPG and mortar fire at 1525 hours. Seven US soldiers were wounded by this attack by fire which ceased ten minutes after it began.
At 1430 hours on 10 January snipers attached to A/4-9 Inf observed three enemy approximately 300 meters from their position. One of the enemy was wearing camouflaged fatigues and a steel helmet. Engaging this enemy with one round of M-14 fire, the sniper killed the enemy soldier. A second round was fired at another enemy but he disappeared before a kill could be confirmed.
During the evening hours (2200 hours), A/2-34 Arm (-) observed one individual moving 35 meters southeast of its position. Engagement with organic weapons resulted in the enemy soldier being killed.
On 11 January Operation Cliff Dweller IV came to an end. It was decided by the 1st Brigade Commander with concurrence of the Commanding General, 25th Infantry Division that no further significant results warranted a commitment of such a large force to extending the operation. To provide direct support during the withdrawal of American forces, two 175mm howitzers from Battery A, 2nd Battalion, 32nd Artillery and two Quad-50's from 5th Battalion, 2nd Artillery moved on the morning of 11 January to just northeast of the contact area. All US forces moved off the mountain and returned to their base of operations.
By the afternoon of 11 January all US elements had been withdrawn from the mountain. An unexplained phenomenon noted during the withdrawal stage of the operation was that as the US forces a moved off the mountain they received no enemy fire. Because of the terrain US troops had to expose themselves to possible enemy fire as they moved down and off the mountain. Not one round of enemy sniper, small arms or RPG fire was directed against these troops. Remaining in position until the morning of 12 January, A/2-34 Arm and B/3-22 Inf maintained surveillance over and placed direct and indirect fire on suspected enemy locations.
The 1st Brigade S-3 Daily Staff Journal noted that the Tay Ninh Province Chief stated that the enemy elements involved in the contact on the mountain were the F-31 and F-51 Sapper Battalions of the 271 NVA regiment. This report has not been confirmed through captured document readouts or identification by any other means. On 19 May 1968 the F-31 Sapper Battalion was involved in an attack on the signal installation atop Nui Ba Den and therefore may still have elements in the area, possibly targeted with the same mission.
13. RESULTS: Operation Cliff Dweller IV was another in a series of successful denial operations on Nui Ba Den carried out by 1st Brigade maneuver and support elements. Eneny personnel losses during the seven day period were 156 killed. US forces suffered three men killed and one Kit Carson Scout was killed. Fifty-five American soldiers were wounded, of whom eight were evacuated for further treatment. The remaining wounded returned to their units after a short period of convalescence.
The inability to use Nui Ba Den as a refuge seriously hurt the enemy plans to mount a coordinated, effective offensive in Tay Ninh Province. This area had long been a refuge for enemy elements staging for attacks on Tay Ninh City. Operation Cliff Dweller IV drastically reduced the enemy potential to mount a significant offensive without heavily reinforcing the forces remaining in the mountain refuge.
a. Because of the type of terrain in which this operation took places many problems were encountered, not all of which could be successfully countered.
(a) US infantry elements required a much larger rate of expenditure of smoke grenades to mark their positions for resupply drops and MEDEVACs, and for identification of friendly positions by supporting fires. (See Inclosure 4 for resupply to 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry)
(b) US equipment losses were abnormally high due to the difficulty troops had in maneuvering in the rock-strewn terrain,
(c) Resupply missions were extremely difficult to complete due to air turbulence on the slopes of the mountain; inability of resupply helicopters to place load a where directed due to irregular, steep terrain; heavy volume of enemy sniper fire directed at resupply helicopters; loss of resupply loads into holes and crevasses; loss of resupply loads due to "drop-off" method; the dropping of resupply loads into areas inaccessible to US troops; and the problems always involved in night resupply missions. Pathfinders were used to control supply drops and even though faced with almost insurmountable problems managed to complete many more resupply missions than was expected.
(d) The loss of water resupply, caused by the necessity of dropping loads rather than placing them in predetermined locations, and the loss of equipment, caused by operating in such unfavorable terrain, were two major problems encountered during resupply missions.
b. Communications. Though there were no reported failures in or
loss of communications equipment, the battalion command net used while contact was in effect became heavily loaded at times.
c. Tactics. An interesting innovation employed by Company C, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry is the Point Squad. The point squad is an eight-man, all-volunteer element which acts as a forward reconnaissance element. Because the unit acts only in this capacity, it has built up the experience needed to perform the role of "point" more professionally than could the rotating point man system. The squad consists of a well-experienced NCO, one "tunnel rat", one grenadier, one M-60 machine gunner and four team members. The success experienced with the point squad has been more than satisfactory.
d. Snipers. All during Operation Cliff Dweller IV US forces received almost continuous enemy sniper fire. Though there is no conclusive evidence available, a number of unit commanders remarked that the highly consistent accuracy of sniper fire was due to the possibility that the enemy snipers were trained for that mission and they could have been aided by telescopic sights in this mission. It was noted that enemy snipers did use tracer rounds so as to make corrections while firing.
e. The Combat Engineer Vehicle (CEV), Company A, 65th Engineer Battalion successfully used several innovative techniques during Operation Cliff Dweller IV.
(1) The CEV devised a plan to afford more protection for US infantry elements providing security for the southernmost blocking position. When arriving at this position on 8 January the vehicle commander used the CEV blade to build a berm 3-4 feet high between the tanks to protect the infantrymen. This not only gave the infantryman a berm in front of him but also a depression behind the berm for further protection. On 11 January the CEV leveled the berm, filling in all holes after the blocking force had completed its mission and were returning to their respective bases of operation.
(2) In order to bring more destructive fires against the enemy with its 165mm demolition projector, the CEV commander took down the locations of caves during the daylight hours and fired at them at night using a range card system. Three secondary explosions were achieved by using this method. Further damage assessment to enemy personnel or equipment was undeterminable because of the destructive power of the 165mm demolition projector. It was the only weapon available during the operation capable of destroying caves of the granite type found on Nui Ba Den.
(3) It was noticed that by placing a red filter on a flashlight and shining it in the direction to be observed by using a starlight scope that observation was made much easier because the red light aided in setting objects out more plainly and clearly.
(4) A starlight scope was used successfully with an M-119 periscope on occasion for spotting movement on the mountain at night.
f. The one advantage of the rocky terrain was that it offered overhead protection for US troops against "splash" from friendly supporting tires. However, the danger area of "splash" was increased two to three times because of indirect fire rounds impacting on the hard granite rocks. Not only shrapnel from the munitions endangered US forces, but also the debris caused by a splintering of the granite rocks. Because of the closeness of contacts supporting fires were at times brought within a very close distance from US forces on the mountain. Some US soldiers were wounded by this "splash".
RALPH J. BALLWAY
1. Persons Being Interviewed
1. MAJ George F. Mohrmann, S-3, lst Brigade.
2. CPT Jimmy W. Harris, Commanding Officer, Company A, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry.
3. CPT Lawson R. Pride, Jr., Commanding Officer, Company C, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry.
4. CPT Larry B. Thomas, S-4, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry.
5. 1LT John M. LeMoyne, Commanding Officer, Company A, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry.
6. 1LT Robert A. England, Executive Officer, Company C, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry.
7. 1LT Tom D. Fritts, Executive Officer, Company D, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry.
8. 1LT Peter S. Shockley, Platoon Leader, Reconnaissance Platoon, Company E, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry.
9. 2LT Donald Vehlhaber, Platoon Leader, 3rd Platoon, Comrany A, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Intantry.
10. SSG John G. Wilkes, CEV Commander, Company A, 65th Engineer Battalion.
11. SGT Patrick Anderson, Squad Leader, lst Platoon, Company B, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry.
12. SGT Larry Goethe, Point Squad Leader, Company C, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry.
13. SGT Thomas Ragazzine, Platoon Sergeant, 2nd Platoon, Company B, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry.
14. SP4 Dennis R. Cook, Demolition Team, Company A, 65th Engineer Battalion (attached to Company C, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Intantry).
15. SP4 Leonard W. Garvin, FDC Computer, Weapons Platoon, Company C, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry.
16. SP4 William L. Grau, Loader-Machine Gunner, CEV, Company A, 65th Engineer Battalion.
17. SP4 David Reyes, Squad Leader, 2nd Platoon, Company B, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry
1ST BATTALION (MECH) 5TH INFANTRY
APO San Francisco 96225
TLMAA-C 25 February 1966
SUBJECT: After Action Report - Operation Clean Sweep
TO: Commanding Officer
2d Bde, 25th Inf Div
APO U.S. Forces 96225
1. Reference: (our order) OPORD 11-66, 1st Bn (Mech) 5th Inf.
2. Date: 220730FEB66 to 241615FEB66.
3. Place: Wooded area running from coordinates 674135 to 691118 to 693128.
4. Mission: Search and destroy; protect ARVN bulldozers leveling the area.
5. General Summary of Operation: The operation was a coordinated attack between the 1/5th Mech and the 49th Inf (ARVN) Regt. Elements of the 1/8th Arty and Co C, 65th Engr Bn, were in support.
The 1/5th Mech crossed the LD at 0830 (prescribed time). The 1/49th (ARVN) Regt, attacking on the right of the 1/5th Mech, crossed the LD 17 minutes late. The 1/5th Mech attacked with two Co's abrest, A on the right (E), and B on the left (W). Recon plat screened the left (W) flank and a platoon of Co C searched and cleared the wooded area centered at coord 677118. Co C (-) was in reserve with the mission of protecting the bulldozers. The two forward companies proceeded slowly through rather heavy woods at first. The 1/49th (ARVN) Regt proceeded rapidly to the objective area mounted on APC's. Apparently they never dismounted to search and destroy in the zone until they arrived on their Obj 12 (698113). During this perion both the Recon Plat and Co B received sniper fire, primarily from their left flank and rear from the vicinity of the woods centered at 676118. As the Recon Platoon broke into the rice paddy short of the objective area (vic coord 684117) they received considerable fire from the woodline vic coord 684119. Fire included that from two automatic weapons believed to be .50 cal. VC elements were engaged by machine gun fire, small arms fire and artillery. It is believed that one of the MG's was knocked out. From the time the units crossed the LD until about 1130 hours all three companies and the Recon Platoon were subjected to sniper fire. Most of the fire was delivered from the flanks and rear. Co B ran into extensive tunnels vic coord 688120. Co B then searched the area thoroughly, after which they pushed approximately 800 meters into the woods to the NW in an attempt to run down the VC who had fled in that direction; no contact was made. Co A searched out the entire area from 691118 to 693128 with no further contact. Recon Platoon reconnoitered along the woodline from coord 687120 to 682133 and back with no contact. Co B returned to the perimeter using the rice paddy SW of the area in which they were searching (coord of rice paddy - 680120). A platoon of Co C supported this move from a position vic coord 679120. As Co B moved into the rice paddy they received machine gun and small arms fire from their right rear from the vic coord 676120. The battalion spent the night in a perimeter vic coord 688119. Nine ambushes were set outside the perimeter; two were triggered (4 VC confirmed killed, 3 more estimated killed).
On 23 Feb six tanks from Troop B, ¾ Cav, joined the attack. The battalion searched and cleared the entire area centered at coord 680125 and the area centered at 676118. The only contact consisted of sniper fire from VC located vic coord 673137. Fire was effectively returned. The battalion went into a perimeter at the same location as the previous night. Ambushes were established at coord 668122, 673129, 682132. Five additional ambushes were established close to the battalion perimeter. The only contact was made by ambush at coord 668122 which observed
6 - 8 VC just before dark vic coord 665123. VC were taken under fire by artillery and small arms. Results are unknown.
On 24 Feb Co A searched and destroyed a wooded area centered at 665128; Recon Platoon searched and destroyed area centered at 663133 but made no contact. Co B moved through the rubber plantation to the left (SW) of the road running through coord 6613. Co C checked rice paddies around objective area and protected the bulldozers. Upon returning to base camp, Co C received sniper fire from a lone sniper located vic coord 667126 - the only contact of the day. Throughout the entire operation security was provided the six ARVN bulldozers which leveled the entire area centered at coord 692122.
6. Description of Area of Operation: Area searched on 22 and 23 Feb was heavily fortified. There were trenches behind every hedgerow. Foxholes were everywhere and there were numerous small bunkers. Defensive tunnels were dug throughout the area; extensive tunnels were located vic 688120. The area obviously had been recently used. Area checked the last day (24 Feb) did not show any evidence that VC had stayed there. There was evidence of fresh digging in the rubber plantation. The holes were about two feet deep and were located vic coord 662125.
7. Enemy Encountered: First day: Estimated 2 squads reinforced with 2 heavy machine guns. They wore steel helmets and black uniforms. Second day: A total of about 10 men. Third day: Lone sniper.
8. Results of Operation:
a.. VC killed:
11 confirmed, 13 additional estimated killed.
- 25 bunkers
8 booby traps
- 4 AP mines
- 5 bags of black powder (regular sugar bag size)
- 79 tunnel entrances (4 of these were extensive. One was a two level tunnel about 200 meters long. Two one level tunnels of 40 and 75 meters were also destroyed. All four of these were located vic coord 688120. This area was apparently a VC training area. ARVN LNO stated that signs indicated that the cadre was from North Vietnam. An APC caved in a huge hole about 15' deep and 12' in diameter vic coord 689121 (this apparently was some sort of underground classroom).
- 800 pounds of rice
- 3 caches of food
- 20 duds (included 12 artillery rounds and 8 Air Force bombs)
c. Numerous documents and miscellaneous articles of clothing were found and turned over to Bde S-2.
9. Friendly Casualties: 5 KIA, 18 WIA. Of the WIA, 8 were returned to duty the same day they were wounded. One additional man was slightly wounded enroute to objective area when a .50 cal MG accidently discharged. List of casualties is attached at Inclosure 1.
10. Equipment Damaged:
a. One APC was hit by what was believed to have been a booby trap which contained a shape charge. Round completely penetrated front of track and came out the other side. Extensive damage was done and the APC will have to be evacuated.
b. Two other APC's were deadlined as a result of the operation. Both should be repaired within 24-48 hours.
c. One 1 ½ ton trailer was damaged when a main spring was apparently ripped out from under the trailer.
d. No weapons were lost.
11. Lessons Learned:
a.. It was determined that the battalion is capable of operating for 3 days on this type operation without resupply of anything except water. However the 1 ½ ton trailers pulled behind tracks received rough treatment during the cross country movement. These trailers cannot sustain such treatment. The ammo trailers, on the other hand, stood up very well. Surprisingly, the APC's consumed on the average of only 40 gallons of gas (this is one-half their capacity) for the three day operation.
b. Troops do not properly follow-up ambushes. When an ambush is tripped, the force should stay in place, attempt to locate and search the bodies, secure the VC weapons, and, where the situation permits, cover the bodies by fire in an attempt to further ambush any VC attempting to recover the bodies.
c. It is extremely difficult to coordinate and control the movement of APC's through heavily wooded areas. An air observer in the helicopter is essential for control and even then the rate of movement is slow and constant shifting of APC's back and forth to straighten the lines is essential.
d. Troops are unnecessarily exposing themselves in the APC's by sticking their heads and bodies too far out of the tracks.
e. Reconnaissance by air and map is considered very inadequate. The woods were much thicker than anticipated. The use of recon patrols several days in advance of such an operation, when possible, is recommended. This would also permit more adequate intelligence of the area. It is also felt that intelligence support from Brigade must be improved upon. What intelligence we got from the area we got ourselves from the 49th ARVN Inf Regt.
f. Traffic control points are essential when using Route One. Civilian traffic was heavy and interfered considerably with the operation.
g. Value of Mechanized Infantry was again proven. Had a straight Infantry Battalion attempted to cross the open rice paddy under the heavy enemy fire from the well dug in positions along the wood line, they would have received heavy casualties.
h. Use of extensive ambushes to screen preparation of perimeter and protect perimeters proved to be highly effective.
i. Casualty reporting from Co to Bn and from Bn to Bde must be more accurate and reports must be submitted more rapidly. It is believed the log net should be used for this to keep command net free. Minor wounds where a man stayed with his unit were not being reported. A standard form should be established by Brigade to permit giving casualty reports in the clear (i.e., fill in the blanks by line number).
j. Our system of keeping Brigade abreast of the situation must be improved upon. Forward CP must make at least hourly reports. Rear CP which should constantly monitor all transmissions should supplement information with periodic landline reports. It is also most helpful on a single battalion operation to have Bde monitor our net in an effort to stay informed.
k. Our communications secuity must be improved upon.
l. Companies must report enemy information more rapidly on the command net so that all units will have the benefit of the information.
m. More effective use can be made of artillery fire. The first day we should have preceded our movement by artillery fire. It was much better the second day. Use of H&I fires around perimeter at night was effective and could have been more so were it not for the proximity of the ARVN forces.
FOR THE COMMANDER:
1 Incl BILLY J. HAMMONS
CASUALTIES SUSTAINED DURING OPERATION CLEAN SWEEP
NAME RANK MOS
Inclosure 1 to Ltr, HQ, 1st Bn (Mech) 5th Inf, subj, After-Action Report - Operation
Clean Sweep, dtd 25 Feb 66.