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Afer Action 43
HEADQUARTERS 3D BRIGADE
4Th INFANTRY DIVISION
APO SAN FRANCISCO 96268
AVDDC-CO 1 April 1967
SUBJECT: Recommendation for the Presidential Unit Citation
THRU: Commanding General 25~' Infantry Division
APO SF 96225
THRU: Commanding General
II Field Force APO SF 96266
TO: Commanding General United States Army, Viet Nam
APO SF 96307
1. The Presidential Unit Citation is recommended for the 3d Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, and all assigned and attached units (see Enclosure 2), for their actions on 21 March 1967.
2. On 19 March 1967 elements of the 3d Brigade made an opposed airmobile assault into a small clearing near the abandoned village of Suoi Tre in central War Zone C, Republic of Viet Nam, at coordinates XT385708. Their mission was to establish a Fire Support Base at the location of the air landing to support further offensive operations. The Fire Support Base was code named Gold after the code name of the landing zone. By late afternoon on 19 March the 2d Bn 77th Artillery (105mm) had been airlifted into position. On 20 March the 2d Bn 12th Inf, under the command of LTC Joe F. Elliot, had moved west on a search and destroy mission against Viet Cong forces suspected to be in the area. Less than two battalions of U. S. Troops now remained at Fire Support Base Gold, the 3d Bn 22d Inf (minus Company C), commanded by LTC John A. Bender, and the 2d Bn, 77th Artillery, commanded by LTC Jack Vessey. Total complement of
U. S. troops at Fire Support Base Gold was less than 450. To the south, the 2d Bn 22d lnf (M) under the command of LTC Ralph Julian, and the 2d Bn 34th Armor (minus company B) under the command of LTC Raymond L. Stailey were still engaged with artillery and alt units were alerted to the possibility of enemy activity.
3. At first light on 21 March 1967, in accordance with standing operating procedures, a stand-to was conducted in FSB Gold and a security patrol from 3d Bn, 22d lnf began a sweep of the perimeter. This action prematurely triggered an attack on FSB Gold which subsequently proved to be the largest single attack and the most catastrophic enemy defeat of the war to date.
4. As the security patrol moved to sweep the perimeter, the enemy force began a heavy mortar attack at 0640 hours followed minutes later by a ground assault from the north, east, and south. This enemy force was later determined to be approximately 2,500 men strong, composed of three battalions of the 272d VC Main Force Regiment reinforced by two attritional battalions, and supported by the U-80 Artillery Regiment. The mortar attack consisted of some 500-700 rounds of both 60mm and 82mm. At Brigade Headquarters, thirteen thousand meters southwest, an alert that FSB Gold was under attack was relayed to all elements of the Brigade. B Btry, 3/13 Arty (115 SP), C Btry 1/8 Arty (105mm), B Btry, 2/32 Arty (8-inch and 175mm), B Btry, 2/35 Arty (155 SP), all located within supporting distance of FSB Gold, commenced firing preplanned defensive fires into every clearing large enough for the enemy to use as a mortar position around Fire Support Base Gold. The Brigade Commander, Colonel Marshall B. Garth, and the Brigade Sergeant Major, AMG Bill V. Woods, boarded the only available aircraft, an OH 23-G helicopter, and flew from Soui Da to the scene of the battle. Simultaneously, the Forward Air Controller from Dau Tieng and fighter pilots from Bien Hoe Airbase scrambled their aircraft. Less then 20 minutes from the impact of the first mortar round, the small force at FSB Gold was engaged in a bitter, hand-to-hand struggle with the enemy.
5. The situation inside FSB Gold had by this time become so critical that howitzers within the perimeter were lowered to fire directly into the waves of advancing enemy soldiers. The tenaciously held perimeter of the Fire Support Base had been penetrated in the north and southeast by 0751 hours. During this penetration the enemy succeeded in overrunning and destroying one M-55 Quad .50 caliber machine gun and actually penetrating one of the howitzer positions. The other Quad .50 MG had been destroyed by an anti-tank round during the initial attack. In all, two howitzers were totally destroyed by mortar and anti-tank rounds, and nine others were damaged. In addition, many of the more than 500 RPG-ll anti-tank rounds which were fired into the support base landed in the ammunition stores. In spite of the withering small arms fire and the exploding stores of 105mm ammunition, the gun crews remained at their guns, cannibalizing the destroyed howitzers to keep the damaged ones firing. Crew members from destroyed guns carried ammunition and steeped in to fill vacancies as casualties occurred in the operation crews. All cooks, clerks, and other available personnel of the artillery battalion which had been formed into a preplanned reaction force, now moved to block the penetration of the infantry's perimeter. By this time the infantry soldiers on the perimeter of the FSB who were subjected to the brunt of the assault were fighting from isolated positions as the determined enemy force penetrated and encircled the U.S. defensive positions. Small elements of the U. S. soldiers fighting fiercely in hand-to hand combat continued to resist the assaulting enemy. As the fighting intensified and ammunition stocks depleted friendly troops reacted quickly to the situation, seizing weapons and ammunition from the dead and wounded enemy. During the course of the action the penetrating Viet Cong threatened the command Post of the 3rd Battalion 22nd
Infantry and the Fire Direction Center of the 2d Battalion, 77th Artillery. These positions were successfully defended, however, and the enemy assault was repulsed after suffering numerous casualties. Twenty-six dead Viet Cong soldiers were found within 50 meters of the artillery Fire Direction Center. By the time the relief force reached the scene of the battle it was estimated that over half of the troops on the eastern portion of the perimeter had exhausted their own ammunition and were using captured AK-47's and Chicom carbines.
6. Meanwhile, two defensive ambush patrols from 3d Bn, 22d lnf, composed of
15 men from Company A, 3d Bn, 22d Infantry at XT384709 and 12 men from Company B, 3d Bn, 22d Infantry at XT388702 reported “hundreds” of Viet Cong all around their positions. The patrols were told to remain in their ambush sites and move back to the perimeter at the first opportunity. Prior to their withdrawal they reported enemy carrying parties pulling “hundreds” of dead and wounded VC to the rear. Both patrols eventually made it back to the perimeter, however nearly half their original number were either dead or wounded.
7. Air strikes were called in on the outskirts of the perimeter and all supporting artillery units were firing final protective fires around the support base. Nearly 4,100 rounds of varying caliber were used in the accomplishment of their mission. When the Forward Air Controller directing U.S. fighter planes was shot down by enemy antiaircraft weapons, another plane was made available at Dau Tieng and a replacement FAC was on station within minutes.
8. Alerted at 0655 hours and ordered to move to the aid of the beleaguered defenders of FSB Gold, the 2/12 lnf, 2/22d lnf (M), and 2/34 Armor pressed on from positions as far away as 3,000 meters. As they started to move, the 2d Bn I 2th lnf. was subjected to heavy concentrations of enemy mortar fire in an attempt to delay their progress. Treating their wounded on the move, the 2d Bn 12th lnf continued to push on through 2,500 meters of heavy bamboo and underbrush toward their objective at FSB Gold. Harassed by sniper fire and blocked by security elements of the enemy's main attack force, the 2d Bn 12th lnf continued to advance, moving the 2,500 meters overland through dense jungle against a determined enemy in less than two hours. The first elements of the 2d Bn, I 2th lnf entered the southwestern part of the perimeter minutes before the mechanized elements arrived at 0900 hours.
9. For the 2/22d lnf (M) and the 2/34th Armor, the order to reinforce meant crossing the Suoi Samat River which had already halted their advance for 24 hours while they searched for a suitable crossing site the previous day. The success of the enemy effort was dependent upon this natural obstacle to prevent the reinforcement of FSB Gold. Realizing the urgency of the situation, a personnel carrier was quickly brought forward with the idea of sinking it in the river to serve as an expedient bridge for the remaining elements. Meanwhile, A Co, 2/22d Inf (M), attached to the 2/34 Armor, located a possible crossing site and had pushed one APC across. The first armored vehicle reached the far side of the river at approximately 0745 hours. The lighter Personnel Carriers were pushed through first and the heavier tanks of the 2d Bn, 34th Armor brought up the rear.
10. Having been repulsed on their first attempt to overrun the FSB, the enemy mortared the objective once again and launched a second determined ground assault.
This second assault was interrupted as mechanized columns of the 2/22d lnf (M) and foot elements of the 2/12th lnf almost simultaneously broke into the clearing at 0900 hours, trapping the enemy in a murderous crossfire. The 2/34th Armor was trailing, and swept in immediately behind the mechanized battalion. Both the mechanized and armored elements passed through the 2d Bn, l2th lnf and swept around the southern and eastern half of the FSB while enemy troops swarmed over the APC's. The heavy guns of the tanks were firing direct fire at point blank range into the teeming mass of troops as the enemy panicked and attempted to flee. After the mechanized units assisted in breaking the force of the attack in the eastern and southern flanks, the 2d Bn, 12th lnf moved in on the west and northwest, sweeping the entire perimeter and neutralizing the small remaining pockets of resistance. The full force of available air and artillery support was brought to bear against the Viet Cong force which was now desperately trying to break contact.
11. At 0931 hours, during the first lull in the fighting, with dazed VC still wandering inside the perimeter, the Brigade Commander directed his UH 1-D Command ship to land in the center of the battle area. Without hesitation, Colonel Garth directed that his helicopter be used to evacuate the wounded while he remained at FSB Gold to personally direct the conduct of the action.
12. Behind the scene of the fighting in Suoi Tre there was another kind of battle going on, one that drew on the resources and ingenuity of all support personnel in the Brigade. All available ammunition stores for both howitzers and small arms were rapidly being depleted. Thousands of meters away, at Dau Tieng Base Camp, at Suoi Da, and at Tay Ninh, the support and service elements of the Brigade were moving and loading tons of ammunition on UH1-D and CH-47 helicopters which flew, in spite of a heavy could cover, to begin the tedious and dangerous task of resupplying ammunition to the engaged units. At FSB Bronze, the primary support base for FSB Gold, the first resupply of howitzer ammunition was airlifted in minutes before the last on-hand round was slammed into the breech of a howitzer of C Btry, 1st Bn, 8th Arty.
13. By 1145 hours the intensity of the fight had tapered off and there remained only the slow task of clearing the battlefield. The scope of the battle was so vast that five days later security and ambush patrols from FSB Gold found weapons and bodies, and captured wounded prisoners up to 1500 meters away.
14. In just over five hours of intense fighting the 3d Brigade, 4” Infantry Division used the following amounts of
2/77 Arty 2,200 rounds of 105mm He
40 rounds of 105mm Beehive
C, 1/8 Arty 1,008 rounds of 105mm HE
6, 3/13 Arty 357 rounds of 105mm HE
B, 2/35 Arty 357 rounds of 105mm HE
B, 2/32 Arty 22 rounds 175mm; 20 rounds 8 inch
7th Air Force (14 immediate 34 tons of ordnance, not including missions consisting of 31,000 rounds of 20mm used in strafing runs and sorties along the perimeter of FSB Gold; additional missions were flown in pursuit of the withdrawing Viet Cong)
15. The infantry units in contact used approximately 90% of the two basic loads, carried by all the units, of small arms ammunition, grenades, claymores, 81mm and 4.2 inch mortar ammunition.
personnel were accounted for with none missing or captured.
16. Total U. S. casualties for the battle of Suoi Tre were 31 KIA and 187 wounded in action, 92 of which were
ev acuated. The remaining wounded were treated on the scene and returned to duty. By mid-afternoon of 21 March all U. S. p
17. Enemy killed numbered 647 by body count. Ten prisoners, to include one wounded prisoner found two days later, were captured. Two of the prisoners later died of wounds. From the patrol reports of the 2d Bn 22d Infantry and interrogation of prisoners and defectors, it was conservatively estimated that at least 200 more of the enemy were killed and evacuated.
18.Analysis of the enemy actions of 21 March 1967 indicate an intent to conduct a ground attack against the 2d Battalion, 12th Infantry immediately following the mortar attack on that unit. Only the early commitment of the 2d Battalion, 12” Infantry prevented the ground attack. The entire movement of the battalion was subjected to continuous sniper tire from the north flank. The presence of the great numbers of antitank weapons further indicated that the Viet Cong expected a quick “roll-up” of Fire Support Base Gold followed by an engagement with the mechanized forces. In spite of a heavy preponderance of automatic and anti-tank weapons, the Viet Cong force was so thoroughly defeated that the mechanized forces suffered only two slightly wounded personnel. Not one M-113 armored personnel carrier or M48A3 tank was struck by antitank fire during the course of the engagement.
HEADQUARTERS 3D BRIGADE
4TH INFANTRY DIVISION
APO San Francisco 96268
AVDDC-A 29 March 1967
1. Significant enemy weapons and ammunition captured during the battle of Suoi Tre:
a. WEAPON NUMBERED CAPTURED
A K-47 49
Browning Auto Rifle 13
SKS Carbine 12
Chicom 7.92 Rifle 13
US M-79 Grenade Launcher 2
US 12-guage shotgun 3
Pistol P-38 3
US Rifle, M-1 10
31,000 rounds of small arms ammunition
1,900 stick grenades
580 rounds of RPG-2 ammunition
4 0 rounds of 75mm Recoilless Rifle ammunition
28 rounds of 57mm Reco~Uess Rifle ammunition
21 DH-10 claymore mines
8 DH-2 claymore mines
2. Intelligence summary of enemy situation at time of the battle:
a. Approximately 2,300 pounds of assorted Viet Cong equipment and web gear were collected and destroyed
during an after battle police of the battle area.
b. Based on information from captured documents and statements from prisoners of war, it has been determined that 3d Brigade forces were attacked by the 27d main force Viet Cong Regiment and two additional Viet Cong battalions. This attack was supported by elements of the U-80 Artillery Regiment. Prisoner of war interrogation reports revealed the average strength of each battalion to have been approximately 400 men. The attacking VC force was well armed and possessed large quantities of ammunition. Captured weapons were in excellent operation condition, and in many instances, were new.
HEADQUARTERS 3D BRIGADE
4TH INFANTRY DIVISION
APO San Francisco 96268
AVD DC-A 2 9 March 1967
1. Enemy and friendly casuatties sustained in the battle of Soul Tre:
United States troops killed in action: 33
United States troops wounded in action: 187
United States troops missing in action: 0
Viet Cong killed in action (body count): 647
Viet Cong killed in action (possible): 200
Viet Cong captured: 10
Viet Cong suspects detained: 0
HEADQUARTERS, 3D BRIGADE
4TH INFANTRY DIVISION
APO San Francisco 96268
AVDDG-A 30 March 1967
Supporting Units during the battle of Soul Tre:
UNIT POSITION FIRED RELATIONSHIP
B Btry, 2d XT281684 357 General Support
B Btry, 2d XT344577 8” -20
Bn, 32d 175mm -22 General Support,
Arty (8” & Reinforcing
US AIR FORCE:
7TH Air Force - 14 immediate missions consisting of 31 sorties.
OTHER AIRCRAFT SUPPORT:
Light Fire Team - 335~' Combat Assault Helicopter Company
Light Fire Team - D Trp, 3d Sq. 4th Cay (4 AC)
11 6th Combat Assault Helicopter Company
(9 AC plus I Light Fire Team)
3- CH47 ~ 78~ Combat Assault Support Helicopter Company
1 - CH47 - 213~ Combat Assault Support Helicopter Company
Co A, 25~ Avn Bn (2 Aircraft)
Dustoff (Exact designation unknown)
HEADQUARTERS, 3D BRIGADE
4tH INFANTRY DIVISION
APO San Francisco 96268
AVDDC-A 30 March 1967
Task Organization, 3d Brigade, 4~ Infantry Division -21 March 1967 Bde Control
HHC, 3d Bde
Co C, 4th Engr Bn (-)
2d PIat, Tm C, 1~ Sq, 10~' Cay
4th Section, 1~ Platoon, Btry D, 5th Bn, 2d Arty (Duster)
TASK FORCE TANKER
2d Bn, 34th Armor (...)
Co C, 2d Bn, 34thArmor
CoA, 2d Bn, 22d Inf(M)
2d Bn, 77thArtillery (Reinforced)
Btry C, 1st Bn, 8th Artillery (1 05mm)
Btry B, 3d Bn, 13th Artillery (155 SP)
1st & 4th Squads, 4th Section, Btry D, 71st Arty (Quad 50)
3d Section, 1~ Platoon, Btry D, 5th Bn, 2d Arty (Duster)
Troop C, 1st Sq, 10thCav (-)
44~ Infantry Platoon, Scout Dog (-)
3d Platoon, 4~ MP Co
2Ottl Public Information Det
1Oth AA PIat, 24 CA Company
Tm, 246~ Psyops Co
3d Support Bn (Pray)
3d S&T Co (Prov)
Co B, 7O4tt~ Maint Bn
Co D, 4l~~ Medical Bn
2d Bn, 22d Infantry (M) (-)
Co B, 2d Bn, 22d tnt (M)
Co C, 2d Bn, 22d lnf (M)
Co A, 2d Bn, 22d Inf (M) 34th Armor
Squad, 44th IPSD
3 Teams, Co C, 4th Engr Bn
3d Bn, 22d Infantry
Squad, 44th IPSD
2d Bn, 112th infantry
by Squad, 44th IPSD
The Presidential Unit Citation is awarded buydirection of the President of the
United States to:
THE 3D BRIGADE, 4TH INFANTRY DIVISION
ASSIGNED AND ATTACHED UNITS
HEADQUARTERS COMPANY, 3D BRIGADE, 4TH INFANTRY DIVISION 2D BATTALION, 12TH INFANTRY
2D BATTALION, 22D INFANTRY (MECHANIZED)
3D BATTALION, 22D INFANTRY
2D BATTALION, 77th ARTILLERY
2D BATTALION, 34th ARMOR
HEADQUARTERS COMPANY, 2D BATTALION, 34th ARMOR
COMPANY A, 2D BATTALION, 34th ARMOR
COMPANY C, 2D BATTALION, 34th ARMOR
44th INFANTRY PLATOON, SCOUT DOG
COMPANY C, 4th ENGINEER BATTALION
BATTERY C, 1st BATTALION, 8th ARTILLERY (105mm)
BATTERY B, 3D BATTALION, 13th ARTILLERY (155 SP)
1st AND 4th SQUADS, 4th SECTION BATTERY D, 71st ARTILLERY (QUAD 50)
3d AND 4th SECTIONS, 1st PLATOON, BATTERY D, 5th BATTALION,
2d ARTILLERY (DUSTER)
C TROOP, 1st SQUADRON, 10th CAVALRY
TEAM, 240th PSYCHOLOGICAL OPERATIONS COMPANY
3d SUPPORT BATTALION (PROVISIONAL)
3D S & T COMPANY (PROVISIONAL)
COMPANY B, 704th MAINTENANCE BATTALION
COMPANY D, 4th MEDICAL BATTALION 20th PUBLIC INFORMATION DETACHMENT
10th AA PLATOON, 2D CIVIL AFFAIRS COMPANY
3d PLATOON, 2d CIVIL AFFAIRS COMPANY
3d PLATOON, 4th MILITARY POLICE COMPANY
COMPANY C, 588th ENGINEER BATTALION
19th TACTICAL AIR SUPPORT SQUADRON
The 3d Brigade, 4th Infantry Division and the Attached and Assigned Units distinguished themselves by extraordinary heroism while engaged in military operations on 21 March 1967 in the vicinity of SUOI TRE, Republic of Viet Nam. The members of this Brigade and the foregoing units demonstrated indomitable courage and professional skill while engaging an estimated force of approximately 2500 Viet Gong. During the early morning hours of 21 March 1967, an estimated force of 2500 Viet Cong launched a massive and determined ground attack against elements of the 3d Battalion, 22d Infantry and 2d Battalion, 77th Artillery located at Fire Support Base Gold near Suoi Tre, Republic of Viet Nam. Opening the engagement with an intense mortar attack, the enemy force, later identified as the 272d Main Force Regiment, reinforced by two additional infantry battalions, struck the perimeter in three separate location.
Due to the ferocity of the assault and the overwhelming number of enemy troops, untenable positions in the north and south-east were overrun within the first 30 minutes of the battle despite determined resistance by friendly forces. As the enemy penetrated the perimeter, the American troops set up an interim perimeter and continued to direct withering fire on the enemy. When the Viet Cong directed anti-tank fire upon the artillery positions, heroic gun crews cannibalized parts from damaged guns, and, at several points, fired directly into the advancing enemy including the tiring of `bee-hive” ammunition through gaps in the perimeter.
While the battle continued to rage and grow in intensity, the Brigade Commander was directing the 2d Battalion, 12th Infantry, the 2d Battalion, 22d Infantry (Mechanized) and the 2d Battalion, 34th Armor, to the besieged fire support base. At the same time, the support and service elements of the brigade began a furious aerial resupply of ammunition and medical supplies from the Brigade Rear base camp at Dau Tieng.
As the 2d Battalion, 12th Infantry began its overland move to the fire support base approximately 2,500 meters distant, a heavy concentration of enemy mortar fire was directed upon their position, killing one man and wounding 20 others. Undaunted, the battalion moved nearly 2,500 meters in less than two hours despite constant blocking and harassment efforts by the enemy. Concurrently with the movement of the 2d Battalion, 12th Infantry, mechanized and armor elements began moving across the Suoi Samat River at a ford which had only recently been located and which previously had been thought impassable.
Driving towards the fire support base, the mechanized unit followed by the armor battalion, drove into the western sector of the engaged perimeter passing through engaged elements of the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry. Striking the Viet Cong on the flank, the 2d Battalion, 22d Infantry smashed through the enemy with such intensity and ferocity that the enemy attack faltered and broke. As the fleeing and now shattered enemy force retreated to the north-east, the 2d Battalion, 34th Armor swept the position destroying large numbers of `diet Cong who were now in full retreat.
Throughout the battle, fighters of the United States Air Force, directed by the Brigades Forward Air Controllers, provided close support to the fire support base and hammered enemy concentrations outside the perimeter. As the FAC aircraft dived through heavy anti-aircraft fire to mark enemy positions, the plane was hit by ground fire and crashed killing both occupants.
After securing the fire support base, a sweep of the area was conducted, revealing a total of 647 Viet Cong bodies and 10 enemy captured. It is estimated that an additional 200 enemy were killed as a result of the aerial and artillery bombardment. Friendly casualties were extremely light, resulting in only 33 killed and 187 wounded of whom approximately 90 were returned to duty.
Through their fortitude and determination, the personnel of the 3d Brigade, ~ Infantry Division and attached units were able in great measure to cripple a large Viet Cong Force. Their devotion to duty and extraordinary heroism reflect distinct credit upon themselves and the Armed Forces of the United States
The most significant combat action during Operation JUNCTION CITY took place around Fire Support Base GOLD, 17 miles northwest of Tay Ninh. The fire base was occupied jointly by the 2d Battalion, 22d Infantry, of the 3d Brigade, 4th Division, and the headquarters and all firing batteries of the 2d Battalion, 77th Field Artillery. At 0640 on 21 March (1967) infantry patrols sweeping the area around GOLD made contact with elements of a Viet Cong force apparently preparing to attack the base. The contact prematurely triggered the enemy attack which began with heavy fire from recoilless rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and 60-mm and 82-mm mortars. At 0715 the Viet Cong launched a coordinated ground assault from the east, southeast and north with elements of five battalions under the control of the 272d Viet Cong Regiment. So violent was the assault that the enemy carried portions of the perimeter, but actions by the field artillery turned the tide. All batteries of the 2d Battalion, 77th Field Artillery, commanded by LTC John W. Vessey, engaged the enemy with over 1,000 rounds in direct fire including 30 rounds of Beehive, the largest number of these rounds fired in a single engagement to date. At the same time three batteries within range added their fire. The batteries included Battery C, 1st Battalion, 8th Field Artillery (105-mm Towed), to the south which delivered more than 1,000 rounds; Battery B, 3d Battalion, 13th Field Artillery (155-mm SP), which delivered almost 400 rounds; and a composite 8-inch and 175-mm battery from II Field Force Artillery to the south which provided additional support. Further fire support was provided by Air Force tactical air. During the attack two maneuver battalions of the 3d Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, were rushed to the scene, catching the enemy forces as they were attempting to withdraw and inflicting further casualties. The action in and around GOLD resulted in 635 Viet Cong killed (confirmed by body count) and seven captured with 65 crew-served weapons and 94 individual weapons. US losses were 31 killed and 109 wounded. The action was given the name Battle of Soui Tre after the fact.
FIELD ARTILLERY JOURNAL
by MG David E. Ott
The holiday truce ended abruptly on New Year's Day 1968 for the defenders of Fire Support Base BURT, a 25th Infantry Division base located 10 kilometers south of the Cambodian border. Beginning with sporadic mortar attacks in the late afternoon, the enemy sent four Viet Cong battalions against the base. Among the defending units were two batteries of 105-mm and one battery of 155-mm howitzers. The enemy ground attack commenced minutes before midnight, the official end of the truce. After a diversionary attack on the west side of the perimeter, defended by elements of the 2d Battalion, 22d Infantry (Mechanized), the enemy launched his main attack from the southeast, a sector defended by Company C, 3d Battalion, 22d Infantry, and Battery C, 2d Battalion, 77th Field Artillery. As the enemy slowly worked toward the bunker line, the artillery shifted from countermortar to direct fire in answer to a call from the infantry command post. Battery C began firing a heavy volume of direct fire with both high explosive and Beehive ammunition. The enemy attack slowed in the face of the artillery but picked up to the south of the fire support base, a sector manned by Company C, 2d Battalion, 22 Infantry, and Battery A, 2d Battalion, 77th Field Artillery. Battery A commenced direct fire, and flare ships and armed helicpters were used extensively throughout the south side of the base. Fire Support Base BEAUREGARD, located 12 kilometers to the west, provided supporting fire west of BURT in an attempt to prevent the enemy from reinforcing or withdrawing in that direction. The 155-mm self-propelled howitzers of Battery C, 3d Battalion, 13th Artillery, located on the north side of the firebase, supplied continuous direct fire to the north, northeast and northwest. In addition to the direct fire, indirect fire from both BURT and BEAUREGARD was shifted out to the road running south from BURT. Although they were not discovered until daylight, two enemy battalions were assembled on that road as a reserve force to exploit weaknesses in the perimeter. If weakness existed, the two battalions never found them. By 0300, tac air had arrived and was pounding the area to the south. The fires of the artillery gunships and tac air disrupted the Viet Cong attack: by 0600 contact was broken and 400 enemy lay dead in and around the base.
The artillerymen of the 25th Division played a vital role in the success of the operation. In addition to maintaining a constant stream of both direct and indirect fire, artillery personnel cut out hasty landing zones for resupply aircraft and broke out and distributed over 1,500 rounds of artillery and mortar ammunition and 200,000 rounds of small-arms ammunition, all during the hours of darkness and in the heat of battle. In addition, they established an improvised aid station in the fire direction center of Battery C, 2d Battalion, 77th Field Artillery, and assisted in the treatment and evacuation of the wounded.
The successful integration of infantry, artillery and air power had saved Fire Support Base BURT. The battle of Soui Cut is a typical example of many such actions that occurred during the war in Vietnam. It is representative of well coordinated position defense and fire support.
FIELD ARTILLERY JOURNAL
by MG David E. Ott
Batteries B and C (105-mm), 7th Battalion, 11th Artillery, and Battery A (155-mm), SP, 3d Battalion, 13th Artillery, were occupying MAURY I, a 25th Infantry Division Artillery firebase. Although the base was located in what was probably the most available area, bamboo thickets and wood lines surrounded the clearing. The three field artillery batteries had been arranged in a triangle within the perimeter, with one battery at each point. The 155-mm battery was to the west, and the 105-mm batteries were to the northeast and southeast.
On the night of 9 May, MAURY I came under heavy attack. The enemy began his attack at 0200 with an intense mortar and RPG (Russian-made antitank grenade) barrage. He launched a diversionary attack against the northeastern and southwestern portions of the perimeter followed by the main attack directed against the estern portion of the triangle, where the 155-mm battery was located less than 200 meters from the tree line.
The 155-mm battery, between the two 105-mm batteries and the attacking enemy, took the brunt of the attack. The RPG fire had a devastating effect on the 155-mm howitzers. At 0330 an attempt was made to move two 105-mm howitzers to the southwestern side of the perimeter to aid the medium battery. By this time, only one of the 155-mm howitzers was serviceable; of the others, three had been completely destroyed, as had two M548 ammunition vehicles. Flareships and gunships arrived by 0330 and Air Force fighter aircraft by 0500. At 0530 a relief element of the 4th Battalion, 23d Infantry (Mechanized), arrived and battered its way into the beleaguered base. The attack was finally repulsed.
All Beehive ammunition had been expended but, because of the speed and accuracy of the assault against the medium battery, less than 10 rounds of 155-mm ammunition had been fired before the destruction of the howitzers. Eighteen Viet Cong were confirmed dead, and friendly losses numbered 10 killed and 66 wounded. Four men died of wounds received in battle. These, along with seven others killed and 39 wounded, were artillerymen. Five M109 howitzers were destroyed: one serviceable howitzer was later pieced together from two damaged howitzers. Two M548s were destroyed, and one 5-ton truck was severely damaged. Fourteen M16 rifles were either lost or destroyed.
FIELD ARTILLERY JOURNAL
May - June 1976
by MG David E. Ott