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Pacific Stars and Stripes
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06Mar68-'These Guns Were Made for Talking'
Battleship New Jersey
Readies Her Big Punch
BY EUGENE R. EISMAN
SITTING in the stateroom from which Adm. William F. (Bull) Halsey Jr., controlled a powerful Pacific fleet during World War II. Capt. J. Edward Snyder Jr. pounded the edge of his open hand against a table.
"This is not a game. We are being activated for a single purpose only -- shore bombardment," the commander of this 45,000-ton battleship said.
Snyder showed a visitor a plaque bearing the ship's motto - "Firepower for Freedom," and added: "This is exactly why we are being activated."
The New Jersey's firepower is its nine 16-inch guns, which Snyder said can fire a 2,900 pound armor-piercing shell 20 miles with an accuracy of 50 yards.
Cruising off the coast at a highly respectable 31 knots, the New Jersey will have much of the narrow waist of North Vietnam and the demilitarized zone (DMZ) separating the two Vietnams within range of its guns.
The biggest guns now being used for naval bombardment of Vietnam are the eight-inch guns of heavy cruisers. In addition, the New Jersey has 20 five-inch guns equal to the largest weapons carried by destroyers.
Since last August when the Department of Defense announced plans to take the New Jersey out of the mothball fleet and send it to Vietnam, 1,400 civilian workers at the Philadelphia Navy Yard have been working 16 hours a day, six days a week, to get it ready.
At present, the gray, 887-foot battlewagon is tied up at Pier 6 of the Philadelphia yard.
Preparing for its third war since it was launched one year to the day after Pearl Harbor, the New Jersey has proven wrong all those who thought the era of the battleship had ended.
Still, there will be some changes when BB62-as she is known to the Navy-sails from Philadelphia in mid-May for a planned fall arrival off Vietnam.
For one thing, instead of its World War II crew of 2,700, the New Jersey will sail with only 1,400 men and 70 officers, a complement set by the Defense Department. Snyder believes he can do the job with this number of men.
An outspoken, confident Naval Academy graduate who served on another battleship during World War II and has earned four rows of decorations, Snyder said his crew "has the best morale I've ever seen."
"This crew has been handpicked from veterans of battleship service and volunteers, and the crew of officers are magnificent," he said.
To free as many of the crew as possible for manning guns and other combat stations, Snyder is looking for labor-saving devices, such as power scrubbers for the battlewagon's teakwood decks instead of having hundreds of men scrub the deck by hand.
The New Jersey, deactivated in 1957 after action off Korea in the early 1950's is being completely repainted and Snyder is looking for "paints which don't have to be chipped and repainted frequently.
But he expects the sides of the ship may need a new paint job after the New Jersey transits the Panama Canal this summer. "This ship is 108 feet, eight inches wide, and the canal is 110 feet wide. That means some scraped sides."
Snyder estimates the cost of putting BB62 "on the line" off Vietnam at $50 million, including about $27 million for the actual reconditioning of the ship.
The cost would be considerably higher if the New Jersey were being reactivated as a flagship. But, the staterooms used by Admiral Halsey when he commanded the 5th Pacific fleet in 1944-45 will remain empty, although Snyder is using them for an office during the demothballing.
"I'm a taxpayer too, and I realize that there are not unlimited resources in this country," Snyder said of the decision to save money by drastically reducing the size of the crew.
Snyder, who has never been to Vietnam, views the ship's prime mission as helping Marine and Army troops in South Vietnam with pinpoint bombardment of Viet Cong targets and cutting the loss rate of Air Force and Navy bombers over North Vietnam by shelling from offshore.
Snyder was asked about the New Jersey's vulnerability to ship-carried missiles of the type used last fall by the Egyptian Navy to sink the Israeli destroyer Elath.
"No other ship in the U.S. Navy is less vulnerable than the New Jersey," he said. "The armor plating is up to 17 inches thick. This battleship was built to take one hell of a lot of pounding."
Later, standing on the battlewagon's bridge, Snyder added: "Don't take my word for it. This is the ship control (where key personnel gather when the ship is in combat). It has walls 17 inches thick.
The pillbox-like control room, built into the bridge, has only two breaks in its armor-two small slits in front.
Snyder pointed to two other battleships-the Iowa and Wisconsin-which sit, still in mothballs, about 100 yards from the New Jersey, and said that if his mission is a success, "there may be a decision to put the other battleships back in service."
(The best known of America's capital ships, the USS Missouri, is in mothballs at Bremerton, Wash. The Navy said the New Jersey was chosen for reactivation over the other three because its communications and electronic systems were more modern).
Snyder plans to operate his ship alone, without any escorting aircraft carriers or a destroyer screen.
"When we need a capability we don't have, we'll bring it in," he said, "We aren't going to be proud about this."
The New Jersey's 40-millimeter antiaircraft guns have been removed, and Snyder does not feel they would do much good against today's fast flying jets. The guns were originally installed to protect against slow-flying Japanese aircraft in World War II.
"Calling in a guided missile destroyer if we're attacked by enemy planes is both cheaper and more efficient than manning the 40-millimeters," he added.
He does not necessarily expect the New Jersey to escape its Vietnam mission unscathed. "This is not a bridge party. Someone may get killed. It might be us," he said.
Snyder spends his days walking from one end of the ship to the other, checking the vessel's progress. Below decks, the New Jersey looks anything but combat-ready.
There is grease on some of the ladders and water on some of the decks. Pink and gray tile is being laid in the mess hall and crews' quarters; 104 air-conditioners are being installed around the ship, mainly in the 500-seat mess sand the areas where the triple-tiered crew bunks are located.
Individual reading lights are being installed for the crew, and the walls of their quarters are being painted blue, light green, beige or sandalwood - whichever they choose.
"This ship has almost everything you need to live in comfort for six months," Snider said. (UPI).
Photo Captions (1) Snyder (Photo of the Captain).
Photo Captions (2) The battleship's big 16-inch guns will be put into action off Vietnam (AP).
Photo Captions (3) New Jersey cruises off Korea coast in 1951 (Navy photo).
Photo Captions (4) New Jersey's giant propeller undergoes cleaning, tightening and polish job. (AP)
09Mar68-GIs Score in Game With Viet Village
DUC PHO, Vietnam (IO) - Sportsmen are a race apart. Whether he is from South Vietnam or North America, the athlete possesses a common bond - that of sportsmanship.
Maj. Carl R. Smith, of Dover, N.H., MACV Team II commander, and Vietnamese Capt. Ho Van Luyen, the village chief, had this in mind when they organized a Sports Day recently in the village of Duc Pho.
Working with the S-5 (Civil Affairs) section of the Americal Div.'s 11th Light Inf. Brigade stationed nearby, an American and Vietnamese group set up a pavilion, refreshment area and a field for athletic contests. U.S. soldiers and people of Duc Pho got together for ping pong, badminton, and bicycle races. The highlight of the day was a volleyball game between members of the 11th Brigade's Security Platoon and the village volleyball team.
A Vietnamese announcer introduced the players and explained the rules. The team winning two games out of three would be awarded a championship trophy.
The Duc Pho team won the first game. "Volleyball is one of the Vietnamese's favorite sports," said Pfc Michael S. Bennett, of St Louis Mo., captain of the Security Platoon's six. "Since most of us hadn't played volleyball in quite a while, it looked like we weren't going to be much competition."
The American team warmed up and came from behind to win the second game. The final contest would decide the championship. "There were about 300 people watching the game," said Pfc. John R. Peters, of Somerville, Mass., "and not one of them left until it was all over."
The last game was close until Spec. 4 George L. Peckham, of Concord, Mich. spiked the final volley over the net and the American team won.
A championship flag was presented to the team members by Capt. Wayne Wharton of Parkersburg, W. Va., of MACV Team II, and Mrs. Luyen, wife of the village chief, both guests of honor. There were congratulations all around and the players moved to the refreshment stand to discuss the gam. "The people were really friendly." said Pfc. Larry R. Sullivan, of Wichita, Kan. "I knew they'd cheer when their team made a point, but they cheered us too."
"We'd like to do it again," said Bennett. "Wo would we," shouted the Vietnamese team. Everybody agreed it would be fun.
11Mar68(Monday)-GIS KILL 129 REDS IN LOWLAND FIGHT
SAIGON (AP) - American troops reported killing 129 Communists Saturday in a raging day-long battle in South Vietnam's coastal lowland.
The Communists broke contact with the U.S. troops Saturday night.
The day-long fighting broke out at 10:15 a.m. when a troop of Americal Division soldiers aboard armored personnel carriers (APCs) contacted an unknown size Communist force some nine miles northwest of Tam Ky.
The infantrymen, supported by artillery and dive-bombing aircraft, hit the communists with heavy bursts of .50-caliber machinegun fire from weapons mounted on their take[sic-tank)-like carriers.
The U.S. Command said U.S. casualties were not immediately available.
Other troops of the Americal Div. took a pounding from Communist mortarmen who fired on a U.S. night defensive position in the Tam Ky area. One American was killed and 25 wounded.
Meanwhile, at the embattled Khe Sanh Marine Corps ........
12Mar68-Westy Sees Fierce Fight For Northern Provinces
By JIM HOUSTON
S&S Staff Correspondent
PHU BAI, Vietnam - Gen. William C. Westmoreland said Sunday "very heavy fighting" lies ahead for the allies in South Vietnam's two northernmost provinces.
The commander of U.S. Forces in Vietnam said Hanoi considers the area part of North Vietnam and is trying to control it militarily and politically.
Westmoreland was attending a ceremony at Phu Bai where he placed Lt. Gen. William Rosson in command of military forces in the newly-created provisional corps area.
Westmoreland said a massive Communist buildup in the two northern provinces of Quang Tri and Thua Thien has caused the allies to reinforce and redeploy their troops there.
He said that the North Vietnamese interest in the Marine base at Khe Sanh underlines its importance.
Westmoreland cited the unprecedented air power available for the defense of Khe Sanh and said it would not be an American Die n Bien Phu.
Rosson's new command, officials in Saigon said, replaces the short lived Military Assistance Command Vietnam Forward. General Creighton Abrams, commander of MACV/F. has returned to Saigon to resume his post as deputy to Westmoreland.
Major units forming the provisional corps are the 3rd Marine Div. and the 1st Air Cav. Div. Marine Lt. Gen. Robert E. Cushman will remain the senior commander of allied forces along the DMZ and I Corps.
17Mar68-Medics Declare War On Village's Plague
DA NANG, Vietnam (ISO) - It's a different war, fought by an American medical team. It's the war against plague in Lang Cau - village.
A Preventative Medicine Team (PMT) from the 1st Marine Div. flew to the peaceful village in an effort to stop the spreading bubonic plague reported there.
The reported death of five villagers and many ill citizens alerted Hospitalman 2.C Ron Shedivy of Combined Action Platoon-9 located near Lang Cau.
Shedivy relayed the information to the 1st Marine Div. Civil affairs section. Their office arranged to heli-lift a PMT and consulting doctor. Navy Lt. Bruce Batchelor from 1st Medical Bn., in the area.
The local dispensary was designated as the inoculation center.
Soon hundreds of Vietnamese began to crowd the dispensary, and corpsmen worked feverishly to inoculate them.
With the process under way, Batchelor and Vietnamese -speaking Shedivy started making house calls to reach villagers too seriously ill to visit the aid station. Some 30 plague cases were treated by house calls.
The PMT entomologist, Lt. (j.g.) Lance Scholdt, accompanied the doctor and corpsman. His job was to spray insecticide in the infected homes. Later, he set traps for the large, flea-bearing rats in an effort to determine the cause of the outbreak.
A specific request came from a group of village nuns who had medicine at their school but no way of knowing what it was for. Shedivy translated the instructions.
As the day drew to a close, a count of inoculations was taken. The anti-plague serum had been given to 2,827 villagers. The next day, 2,373 were inoculated for a total of 5,200 out of the estimated 6,000 villagers.
18Mar68(Monday)-*U.S. Troops Surround Reds, Kill 128
(S&S Vietnam Bureau)
Photo caption - Troops of the Americal Div., operating south of Da Nang, charge in a village where a Communist force had been trapped. The operation netted 128 Reds killed. (AP Radiophoto)
SAIGON-U.S. infantrymen killed 128 Communists in a bloody day-long battle Saturday six miles northeast of Quang Ngai City on South Vietnam's central coast.
The battle was touched off shortly after 8 a.m. when a company from the 11th Light Inf. Brigade ran into heavy contact as they moved into an area following a U.S. artillery bombardment.
Within an hour after the company became locked in heavy fighting with the unknown sized Communist force, another company from the brigade was sent in two miles northeast of the battle.
The two companies began moving toward each other, encountering sporadic enemy contact throughout the day, until the enemy broke of the contact in the late afternoon.
U.S. casualties for the fighting were put at two killed and 10 wounded.
(Meanwhile, in the war's biggest allied operations ...........
*Note-this may have been the news release for the incident that eventually
became infamously known as the My Lai Massacre.
18Mar68-Young Viets Swamp Induction Center
DA NANG, Vietnam (IO) - The ARVN Recruiting and Induction Center here is swelling at the seams.
"Business is better than ever - thanks to the Communist Tet offensive." says Lt. Col. Nguyen Hoanh Nghia, commander of the center.
The colonel says his center is processing more than a thousand new recruits a week- most of them volunteers.
The center handles the five northernmost provinces of South Vietnam.
In addition to the troops being processed daily, more than 300 per province are waiting to get into the army - a situation that has caused the center to go to a 12-14 hour day, seven day week work schedule.
Another contributing factor to the heavy influx of recruits is Vietnam's mobilization plan - which requires all able-bodied men, 19-33 to be in the army for the duration.
"The ARVN Army is like the American Army. If you enlist you get a choice of career fields-but if you're drafted - you have no choice. I think this is another thing that is making so many men anxious to enlist," said S.Sgt. Jon Foster, recruiting adviser to the center.
"It's weird, though. Since Tet, it seems that everyone just wants to be where the action is. I took 150 men out to the Ranger training camp the other day-and you know they're going where the fighting is the hardest, when they finish their training," he continued.
"It takes anywhere from three to five days for Nguyen Van Long (Vietnamese for Johnny Jones) to go from civilian to soldier-on paper-depending on whether he's a draftee or an enlistee-we try to make the transition as simple as possible," Nghia said.
The first day the men are met when they get off the buses or trucks which bring them in and are briefed on what will take place during the next few days.
"This is one of the most important keys to our operation - keeping the men informed as much as possible," explained Nghia.
"It takes a lot of work to get a man into the army - there's paperwork to be completed, physical exams to be administered and testing and classification to be accomplished - all these things take time," added Capt. Joseph B. Mitchell, recruiting and induction adviser.
Photo Caption - Thoung Si Nhat (1st Sgt.) Cu of the ARVN greets new recruits as they arrive at the Da Nang Recruiting and induction center, which is bulging with volunteers.
20Mar68-'Chesty' Would Be Proud of These Marines
By PAT LUMINELLO
S&S Staff Correspondent
HOI AN, Vietnam - Marines, sporting jungle clothes and the familiar eagle and anchor symbol, have set up positions around this once embattled town about 15 miles south of Da Nang.
The enlisted men look hard and tough. At headquarters their uniforms are sharply pressed, their boots gleam and their brass glitters in the sunlight. They are not quite as sharp in their dug-in positions in a cemetery just outside Hoi An, but they look lean and fit and ready for anything.
The officers are treated with great respect, and they look as though they have earned that respect. All in all, the Marines here are almost the stereotype of the Marine image as pushed by drill instructors in Parris Island and movie-makers in Hollywood.
There is just one significant difference. These Marines are South Koreans, part of the 70,000-man Blue Dragon Brigade commanded by Brig. Gen. Yun Sang Kim, a stocky, hard-driving type who looks and acts like an Asian version of the legendary "Chesty" Puller.
Kim explained that his officers have all been trained by the U.S. Marines at Quantico or San Diego. They have learned tactics, tradition and the value of esprit de corps from the U.S. Marines, and Kim speaks proudly when he says: "We have the same spirit."
One U.S. Marine colonel at Hoi An wryly remarked: "We taught them everything we know, and now they know it better than us."
The ROK Marines have been trained by the U.S. Marines since the Korean War, a war in which Korean troops did not always perform in a manner designed to inspire respect. Poor leadership and the "bug out" often plagued the ROKs in the dark days of the early 1950s. But there has bee n a great change and now the ROKs speak with pride of their accomplishments in Vietnam.
Kim cited a recent engagement in which a company his Marines repulsed an attacking regiment. "The enemy body count - 243; our dead - 115," he says expansively. "Now I think the enemy is not too happy to make ground contact with us."
Kim also spoke with pride of his troops performance during the Tet offensive, which broke out just one day after the ROK Marines arrived in this area. He said that instead of hitting the city with artillery fire and destroying buildings and killing innocent people, he decided to draw the enemy out of the city and attack them there. His strategy worked.
Things are quiet here now, but the 2nd North Vietnamese Army Div. still poses a threat in the ROK Marines, and much of the 300-square meter area is infested by Viet Cong. But the ROK Marines are ready and they are taking no chances. Up to one quarter of the brigade is involved in ambush operations, patrols, or search and destroy missions during each day.
Kim has set up a command post in a dusty sandy area near the South China Sea coast. Tents, bunkers and a few wooden structures are the only things breaking the monotony of the sand, except for a few scraggly bushes. During the interview here, Kim spoke of his troops and how prepared they were. And he added meaningfully; "We are ready in our own country too; There won't be a 1950 again."
The combat figures back up his point of view. During the Tet operation, from Jan. 30 to Feb. 29, his men killed 609 Communists and captured five. They also captured more than 90 weapons. The ROK losses were 50 killed and 170 wounded.
Photo Caption - South Korean Marines are almost buried beneath a swarm of happy Vietnamese children as the Koreans pass out toys and games during a visit to the village of Lai Nghi. (S&S photo).
21Mar68(Thurs)-Allied Forces Kill 123 As Ground War Slackens
......Two other significant ground actions were reported Monday by the Allied headquarters. Troopers of the U.S. 11th Light Inf. Brigade killed 11 guerrillas along the coast 310 miles northeast of Saigon while suffering no casualties........
22Mar68- Offers Peace Pledge Plan
Vietnam Isn't Worth It - Shoup
WASHINGTON (UPI) - Retired Gen. David M. Shoup, the former commandant of U.S. Marines, Wednesday offered a peace proposal to end a Vietnam war which he said was not worth "one one-thousandth" of what it would cost to win.
Shoup's plan, offered in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, involved two pledges - one by the United States and South Vietnam to halt all offensive operations "the minute the gavel falls" at the start of peace negotiations, and the second by the United States to begin a withdrawal as soon as it becomes clear the North Vietnamese were negotiating in good faith and with a chance for success.
"We would not ask Ho Chi Minh anything except to name the time and place; and leave up to him the decision on the extent of participation by the National Liberation Front," Shoup told the committee.
Shoup said he presented his proposal to former secretary of defense Robert S. McNamara last summer and McNamara promised to see to it that President Johnson heard it. But since then, there has been no response from the government the retired general said.
Shoup, 64, a Medal of Honor winner who retired as top Marine in 1963, appeared in the same Senate Caucus Room where Dean Rusk defended America's role in the war for almost 11 hours last week. The room was crowded but not jammed and six television cameras recorded his testimony but non carried it live.
Shoup, born in Battle Ground, Ind., said he was grateful for a chance to defend himself against charges that his outspoken criticism of America's role in Vietnam was giving "aid and comfort to the enemy."
He argued that victory in Vietnam would be impossible without an invasion of North Vietnam, which could bring Communist China into the war and force America to use nuclear weapons against China.
Even if the allied forces succeeded in pushing all North Vietnamese forces out of the South, he said, it "would be no solution" because keeping them out would require an indefinite and fullscale U.S. presence.
"The people we are fighting are 99 per cent South Vietnamese," he said.
(Misquote ???? North Vietnamese instead of South Vietnamese?)
22Mar68-Americal Troops Kill 111; Reds Seen Building in Lull
SAIGON (AP) - Americal Div. units killed 111 North Vietnamese regulars in a series of fights Wednesday in the tough northern I Corps war zone, the U.S. Command reported.
The chief Americal action was 25 miles northwest of Chu Lai, where Americal infantry, artillery and the division's 1st Armored Cav. units combined to kill 64 Communists in a stiff, but brief fight at dusk.
Eight Americans were wounded, according to incomplete reports from the field.
The other Americal skirmishes raged throughout its command area on the coastal plain and Piedmont, about 340 miles north of Saigon, nd included another 1st Armor action that claimed 22 Communist dead.
24Mar68(Sunday)-New Red Guns at Khe Sanh
GIs Kill 112 in Hoi An Battle
S&S Vietnam Bureau
SAIGON - U.S. Infantrymen from the 196th Light Inf. Brigade reported killing 112 Communist soldiers Thursday during a savage battle four miles south of Hoi An.
Another 35 Reds were reported killed by Korean Marines in the same general area.
In the battle near Hoi An, a reconnaissance unit from the 196th Light Inf. Brigade, attached to the Americal Div. ran into a Communist force four miles south of the city.
The two units exchanged heavy small arms fire while a U.S. cavalry troop began to encircle the Reds.
As the cavalry troop closed the circle, the Communists fled, leaving 112 dead on the battlefield.
U.S. casualties in the fighting were put at 16 wounded.
Early Friday morning.............
27Mar68-Doctor Removes Live Grenade from GI's Leg
DA NANG, Vietnam (AP) - "My hands were steady, but my knees were sure shaky," the doctor said.
Maj. Kenneth Cass, 39, Waterbury Conn., was referring to a particularly dangerous operation-for himself as well as the patient: the removal of a live grenade from a young soldier's leg.
Pfc. Warren D. Hillman, 19, Buckholts, Tex., was moving in file as his patrol returned to their 198th Light Infantry Brigade company base camp near Chu Lai.
Hillman was just pulling himself out of a stream when another soldier, entering the water from the other side, tripped and fell. The soldier's M79 grenade launcher discharged as he fell.
The shiny, gold-colored grenade, bullet shaped and about the size of a golf ball, struck Hillman's right calf. The grenade did not explode, but it was buried from sight in the chunky soldier's muscle.
Hillman was sped by helicopter to Cass' 2nd Surgical Field Hospital at Chu Lai. Cass was alerted by radio.
Hillman was X-rayed and taken to the operating room. Cass decided to expose as few people as possible to the danger. On hand only were a weapons expert, Capt. Fred J. Puckett, 43, Benton, Ark., and an anesthetist, Capt. Stanley Keating, Hartford Conn.
Ten flak jackets were packed around Hillman on the operating table.
"There was a good chance he would have lived and would have been killed if that thing went off," Cass said.
Cass told Hillman: "Don't sweat it. It's a routine operation."
"He seemed relieved," Cass said wryly. "That only left us who were worried."
A broad incision was made, the grenade could then be seen. A retractor, a sort of pliers in reverse, was used to spread the calf muscles slightly more.
"Then it was loose," Cass said. "I lifted it out with my right thumb and index finger and gave it to Puckett."
Puckett took the grenade outside to a safe area and exploded it.
It took 35 minutes from the time Hillman arrived at the Americal Division hospital until Puckett blew the grenade.
The reason the grenade did not go off was that it must travel about 30 yards before it arms itself. In Hillman's case, that distance had not been covered.
The operation took place Sunday. No bones were broken, Cass said, and Hillman was to be evacuated to the United States, where he has an excellent chance of complete recovery.
29Mar68-These Viet Cong Were Hayseeds
CHU LAI, Vietnam (IO) - Where is a Viet Cong not a Viet Cong?
This question confronted 2nd Lt. Christopher Lane, of Olympia, Wash. Lane is a track commander from E Troop 1st Armored Cav., of the Americal Div.'s 11th Inf. Brigade.
Personnel carriers attached to the brigade's 3rd Bn., 1st Inf., observed what they thought were 10 enemy soldiers couching in a field and carrying weapons.
When the tracks moved in to challenge , three men made off. The remaining "soldiers turned out to be mannequin dummies made from straw. They were destroyed.
29Mar68-Bridge Repaired, Despite VC
DA NANG, Vietnam (PAO) - Behind the protective covering of 1st Marine Div. heavy tanks, civilian workers labor under battle conditions to repair the Cau Do bridge, heavily damaged by the Viet Cong five miles south of here.
A Communist mortar attack last fall dropped the two center sections of the four-section, 200-foot structure, slicing the main supply artery linking Chu Lai and Da Nang.
Vietnamese RMK-BRJ labor crews began repair work almost immediately. Salvage crews lifted the fallen sections from the river and barged them to a secure area for repair.
The sections were then floated back to the bridge site. One is already in place and the second is being readied for reinstallation. When completed, the bridge will have five sections instead of the original four.
Since the bridge site lies directly between important U.S. military installations and a favorite Viet Cong mortar and rocket firing point, work often goes on with artillery whistling overhead. Sniper fire sometimes ricochets from bridge metal.
29Mar68-Touch of Humor Promised Death
CHU LAI, Vietnam (IO) - An alert sergeant saw a footprint in a road near Duc Pho which led to the discovery of a VC booby-trap rigged by an enemy soldier who obviously had a sense of humor.
C Co., 26th Engineers, attached to the Americal Div.'s 11th Brigade, was sweeping the road between Landing Zones Bronco and Carantan.
The mine detector hadn't picked up anything unusual, when S. Sgt. Frank R. Marshall of Crockett, Tex., spotted the lone footprint.
The sweeper went over the area again. This time it detected a faint ringing sound. After two hours of careful digging, Sgt. Robert C. Dennny of Macon, Miss., uncovered two charges. One of them was booby-trapped.
Most of the materials for the mine were scrounged from sanitary fills near Bronco. The VC used C-ration and sundry pack boxes, and Army shoelaces. The device was wrapped in a red mail sack to waterproof it.
"There was almost no metal used to construct the mine." said 2nd Lt. Bill Hassan, of Arlington, Va., "that's why the mine-sweeper didn't catch it on the first pass."
As a final touch, the enemy soldier buried a U.S. Army leaflet on top of the mine. The leaflet offered rewards to Viet Cong for turning in mines and booby-traps.
30Mar68-Ky Hoa Hails Medical Aid
Isle Gung Ho for Corpsmen
CHU LAI, Vietnam (ISO) - A Navy doctor and his assistants have won the friendship and respect of the people of Ky Hoa Island through their work with the island's sick.
Islanders waved and smiled when Navy Lt. John A. Emery, 28, of Seattle, Wash., of the 2nd Light Antiaircraft Missile Bn., and his crew of Navy corpsmen drove their truck down the ram of a landing craft and onto the beach. The team travels from their headquarters at the Chu Lai Marine Air Base three times weekly.
On the beach they picked up two boys Kim and Tom, who acted as interpreters and guides. They then moved along the narrow sandy roads to An Binh hamlet. More smiles and waves greeted them.
At An Binh the sick gathered as Emery and his men quickly set up their treatment center.
"Medical problems here are much the same as they were in the States 100 years ago," said Emery. "Most of the patients can be cured quickly with a few modern drugs."
The doctor's time is spent examining patients and advising the corpsmen. Soap is distributed to cut down the cases of skin infection.
"The medicine we practice is simple but effective," said Emery.
30Mar68-A Rainy Morning Walk in the Viet Jungle
By SPEC. 4 RON MURPHY
CHU LAI, Vietnam (IO) - In the chill that swept the mountains just before dawn, Sgt. Michael J. Hedderich moved from position to position making sure that the men in the squad were ready.
The company had to move out even before the sun began to light the grey clouds that for the past three days had concealed their mountaintop perimeter.
The slopes of hill 410 were steep and slick with the red mud caused by the constant rain. B Co. had to be down, ready for helicopter pickup at 8:30. They had no time to waste.
Hedderich's squad, two machine gunners and their assistants, six in all, waited quietly for word to move. Preparation took only a few minutes. Hedderich had seen to it that they were ready the night before. No one smoked: it wasn't light enough yet.
The rain still fell, lightly, but the canopy of jungle above held the water until it became too heavy and slid form the leaves and branches in great syrupy drops. Hedderich's short black hair was plastered to his head as he signaled to the men to move.
The column snaked its way down the slopes, the men slipping, cursing silently in the half-light that was breaking through. Just before they disappeared into high elephant grass farther down, their silhouettes against the sky, they seemed stripped of their separate identities, with a common name. Part of the 198th Inf. Brigade's 1st Bn. 46th Inf. Soldiers, Infantrymen. The sky was indifferent.
The company stopped for a short break when they reached a stream bed. Because of the rain, the stream was swollen and all but the biggest rocks, great black boulders, were submerged, slippery. Hedderich had slipped and wrenched his knee coming up the few days before. Like the rest who had fallen, he said nothing of it.
He had a quick light laugh that drifted across the stream bed when someone related a misadventure they had in Australia.
They reached the pickup zone in the Americal Div. area west of Chu Lai, and Hedderich began placing his men in the order they were to board the choppers. It was a hostile area and the job had to be quick. The men sat in small groups of three or four, almost covered by the tall grass that held the clearing. A couple who hadn't eaten earlier rummaged through their rucksacks for a saved can of fruit to hold them until they could get resupplied.
Hedderich sat with the platoon leader and two other squad leaders, comparing information about the area where they were headed. A few minutes later the helicopters swarmed in.
The new landing zone was "hot", and mortars pocked the ground in front of the six aircraft touching down. In a matter of seconds, the choppers were airborne, heading back to pick up the second lift. One of the seven rounds had missed the lead chopper by fifty meters.
An hour later two men from the 2nd Platoon were dead and several more wounded, the platoon leader included. The enemy had put a booby trap near the landing spot. Hedderich, now the ranking man, was in charge of the platoon.
Hedderich , shaken, tried not to let it show. He took the added responsibility as he always had with competence and coolness, and went on with the mission. The wounded were evacuated and the company moved forward.
Hedderich, of Shirril, N.Y., raced stock cars in the summer after graduating from high school When he completed college he found a job with an insurance firm and worked there until he was drafted. The job is waiting for him when he gets back. It is a job with responsibilities - something he is getting a taste of every day in Vietnam.
31Mar68-MPs Sink Fleeing VC Vessel
CHU LAI, Vietnam (IO) - The 198th Inf. Brigade Military Police sank a 40-feet diesel-powered Viet Cong sampan and killed 13 enemy during actin in the Americal Div. area that resembled a roundup by a western posse.
The posse was made up of two MP "River Rats". Their horses were 16-foot whaleboats with 40 horsepower engines, manned by two MPs, one driver and one Vietnamese.
"We were alerted when the Viet Cong sampan fired on a Marine land position," said Spec. 4 Michael A. Yanek.
Following a call for assistance the MPs responded in hot pursuit, "They were headed out the channel toward the South China Sea and were throwing things over the side," said Spec. 4 Leamon W. Hall, a boat driver.
The two boats were close enough, Spec. 4 Bruce A Smith threw a hand grenade into the sampan, "There were secondary explosions and the sampan sank," Smith said.