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 Pacific Stars  and Stripes

An authorized publication of the U.S. Armed forces in the far east.

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02May68-Former VC Gets Cash For Info

    TAM KY, Vietnam (IO) - A thousand piasters isn't much money - unless you happen to be a poor, hungry, unwilling 16-year-old VC.

    For Doan The Tu-who was all of these things - 1,000 piasters ($8.50) is a start toward a new life.

   The money was awarded Tu at the Tam Ky Chieu Hoi center recently for giving information which led to the capture of 14 Viet Cong suspects.

   Forced into the Viet Cong in December of last year, Tu spent three months prowling his native Ly Tin District, planting mines on Highway One as a member of an enemy sapper unit.

   He became aware of the Vietnamese government's "Open Arms" returnee program through air-dropped pamphlets picked up around Ky Khuong village near Tam Ky.

   After several unsuccessful attempts to desert, Tu finally made it as a "Hoi Chanh" - returnee-in mid-March.

   Doan The Tu wants to be a soldier.  But not for the Viet Cong.

   He's waiting now for a chance to enlist in the South Vietnamese army.

03May68-'Seduce and Destroy'

   Pretty Girls Could Have Kiss of Death

   DA NANG, South Vietnam (AP) - That beautiful Vietnamese girl, her silken black hair swirling about her fragile body as she bathes in the stream, can be an angel of death.

   Viet Cong terrorists around this big Marine base are using "seduce and destroy" squads of girls, in attempts to entice Marines to their deaths.

   Marine sources said three Marines were missing and one was killed by the female assassination teams in three months.

   A captured Viet Cong confirmed that attractive girls were being recruited and trained in English for assassination team duty.

   In one recent incident, three Marines on patrol near their camp spotted three girls swimming nude in a stream.  A few minutes later, one Marine lay dead, face down in the water.  The other two are still missing.

   "It is considered probable that the females were used as lures," the sources said.

   The first inkling of the death-dealing decoys came in January when Marine counter-intelligence units uncovered what they called a "Viet Cong suicide platoon, composed of approximately 30 females."  The girls were already operating near this sprawling Marine complex.

   The girls, many believed to be fresh-faced teen-agers like many Marines, strike up a conversation get the Marine talking about himself, make an appointment for a quiet rendezvous, then arrange the kill.

   Marine sources said the effectiveness of the "seduce and destroy" missions - a play on the Marine plan of "search and destroy"-is still limited.  But they are concerned enough to begin putting out warnings.  The curfew, which is imposed at 8 p.m. in the once-lovely city of Da Nang, is strictly controlled.

06May68-236 Reds Slain in Clash With 1st Inf. Near Saigon


    S&S Staff Correspondent



     Fighting continued near Dong Ha for the fourth straight day as a battalion of the 196th Light Inf. Brigade tried to dig a North Vietnamese battalion from a bunker complex.

14May68-Photo Caption - Close Look at Enemy's Weapon

   Maj. Gen. Samuel W. Koster, commander of the Americal Div., sights through an enemy RPG-7 captured by the 2nd Bn., 35th Inf. commanded by Lt. Col. Norman L. Tiller Sr. (left).  (USA)

14May68-Photo Caption - Sleepy-Time Boy Gets Hand

   1st Lt. Glenn R. Bowman leads a young orphan off to bed after the boy, who has been nicknamed Tom, was found sleeping on the battlefield by the Reconnaissance Platoon, 1st. Bn., 35th Inf.  After a night's sleep and breakfast, Tom went to his new home in a Chu Lai orphanage.

14May68-Score 14 Kills

   Hellcats Claw VC at Bridge

   CHU LAI, Vietnam (IO)-It was almost dark when Armored Personnel Carrier Hellcat 22 moved into position on the Binh Son Bridge.

   Most of the people in the village at the south end of the long bridge were in their homes clustered around small oil lamps.

   Spec. 4 Cecil A. Smith of Scottsburg, Ind., driver of the Hellcat, noticed that there were fewer people than usual in the streets.  He had already spent seven nights guarding this vital link along Highway 1.

   He thought his eighth night would probably be the same: block, guard and watch throughout the night.  But he was soon to change his mind.

   Hellcat 22, a part of the 198th Light Inf,. Brigade's Troop H, 17th Cav., was operating in the Americal Div. area in southern I Corps.

   A few minutes past 1 a.m., grenades and mortars exploded around the tracks.  Small arms and automatic weapons fire opened up on the tracks.

   "It all happened so fast," said Smith.  "One minute it was quiet and the next thing I new we opened up with all we had."

   Shortly after the firing began, Smith's track commander fell wounded in front of him.  "He tried to make it back to where I was," said Smith, "but fell.  I ran out and carried him back to the track: got him into it, closed the ramp and jumped up to take over the .50 caliber."

   Smith was second in command at the time.  There were only seven cavalrymen left facing elements of six Viet Cong companies.

   "Suddenly I realized that I was in command of the track.  I checked commo with (Hellcat 23 and then we gave it all we had.  It was our first real fight.  Everyone knew his job and knew how to get it done," said Smith.

   The battle kept up for five hours, its intensity rising and falling with Viet Cong determination to destroy the bridge.  Smith's track took a direct hit from an enemy 57mm recoilless rifle.  Toward morning the firing dwindled and the Viet Cong withdrew.

   Hellcats 22 and 23 were credited with 14 kills.  "There was no doubt about those .50 caliber kills", said Smith.  The Hellcat team had three wounded.

   The sun finally came up and with it Hellcat 22 moved out to check the area for enemy bodies and enemy equipment.

   "I guess eight is our lucky number," said Smith, after seven nights of waiting.

14May68-A Fire-Fight Sleeper

   GI Ignores Hot-Lead Reveille

   CHU LAI, Vietnam (IO) - Some people are heavy sleepers.  Others are deep sleepers.

   But Phillip W. Johnson of Wellston, Okla., is the soundest sleeper of all - for a while not even a war woke him up.

   Johnson, a machine gunner with the 198th Light Inf. Brigade's H Troop, had just come off guard.  His section was protecting the Binh Son Bridge in the Americal Div.'s area.

   Ten minutes after Johnson plopped down on his cot outside his Hellcat Armored Personnel Carrier (APC), enemy machinegun bullets sprayed the air above him.

   Spec. 4 Larry Fox of Shelocta, Pay, yelled "Johnson get up, we're being attacked," Johnson didn't move.  Fox yelled again, as more fire came in, Johnson didn't move.  Fox yelled again, as more fire came in.  Johnson didn't move.  After a few more rounds he woke up and slowly started to fold up his cot.

   Then the great awakener, a grenade landed so close to Johnson that the sand from the explosion slammed against the back of his legs.  

   Johnson threw his cot in the APC, jumped behind his M60 machine gun and started firing.

   On and off for the next five hours the men in the two Hellcats kept firing.  The Viet Cong on one occasion came within 75 meters of their position.

   Twice during the night the M60 jammed, but Johnson, who is described by the men on his Hellcat as "the greatest" when working with weapons, had them fixed in short order.

   "There was nothing to fixing the guns," Johnson said, "It had to be one of two things and the first one I tried worked,"  Johnson didn't mention that there are more than one or two things that can go wrong with a machine gun.

   By the end of the night the guns had done their work.  Fourteen Viet Cong were killed.

   That morning the troopers returned to base camp.  After a debriefing and some maintenance there would be just a few more hours until the Hellcat would move out on another mission.  Move out, that is, if they could get Johnson up - he had gone to take a nape.

15May68-NVA Cut Off Post, C130s Aid Pullout


      S&S Staff Correspondent

   SAIGON - Air Force transports evacuated nearly a thousand U.S. and Vietnamese soldiers from a Special Forces camp near the Laotian border Sunday after a large Communist force surrounded the camp during three days of heavy fighting, the U.S. Command reported Monday.

   More than 400 U.S. Green Berets, the Civilian Irregular Defense Group (CIDG) soldiers they train and a battalion of U.S. infantrymen from the 196th Light Inf. Brigade, were picked up by C130 and C123 transports at the Kham Duc Special Forces Camp about 13 miles from the border.

   Heavy air strikes were aimed at enemy forces during the evacuation.

   A C130 was hit by enemy ground fire and crashed, killing six Air Force crewmen and an unknown number of CIDG and Vietnamese soldiers.

   The command said the camp was evacuated to avoid encirclement and enable tactical aircraft and B52s to blast the Communist forces massed around it.

   The command said the decision to evacuate the camp came after three days of heavy fighting that started Friday when elements of two North Vietnamese Army regiments attacked an outpost 2 1/2 miles away that was manned by Special Forces and CIDG troops.

   Unable to hold the small outpost in face of the massive attack, Special Forces and CIDG soldiers retreated to the Kham Duc camp under cover of napalm and high explosives dropped on communist positions by U.S. jets.

   Late Friday evening and during the day Saturday, a battalion of U.S infantrymen from the 196th Light Inf. Brigade was rushed into the camp to help hold it until it could be evacuated.

   Shortly after the evacuation, B52s dropped tons of explosives on enemy positions around the camp.  The huge planes flew two missions Sunday night and five missions Monday morning.  

   U.S. casualties were put at 19 killed and 89 wounded during three days of fighting. CIDG casualties were not reported.

   The command said over 300 North Vietnamese are estimated killed in ground action around the camp, but would not estimate the number of killed during air strikes.

16May68-9 Aircraft Lost As Allies Give Up Surrounded Post

   SAIGON (UPI)-Allied forces abandoned the U.S. Special Forces camp at Kham Duc to the North Vietnamese at a heavy cost in lives and equipment, military spokesmen disclosed Tuesday.

   The surrender of the strategic camp to the Communists resulted in the loss of five helicopters and four airplanes, one of which was known to be loaded with Vietnamese soldiers and their dependents.

   Perhaps as many as 120 men women and children were aboard the U.S. Air Force C130 Hercules which was shot down about one mile from the Kham Duc airstrip, U.S. spokesmen said there apparently were no survivors.

   Brig. Gen. Jacob Glick, U.S. Marine Corps operations chief in Vietnam, termed the evacuation of the camp a "smashing victory for the allies."  The camp had been surrounded by Communist troops, he said.

   Glick reasoned that surrender of the outpost would permit U.S. forces to bomb the area with tactical air strikes and B52s.

   "The camp had served its purpose by sighting a major enemy movement," Glick told newsmen.  "It no longer had any military or political significance."

   U.S. spokesmen said 25 Americans were killed and 96 wounded.

   Two C-130 transports, an A1E Skyraider fighter-bomber, an observation plane, and five helicopters were shot down by ground fire.

   There were no casualties in the other aircraft shot down by Communist ground fire, spokesmen said.

   Glick said at least 300 North Vietnamese were killed in ground attacks on the camp, about 47 miles west of Tam Ky and 350 miles north of Saigon in Quang Tin Province.

   B52s flew at least 20 strikes against the outpost during the past 72 hours, U.S. military sources said.  One mission set off more than 100 secondary explosions, indicating strikes on Communist ammunition and fuel supplies.

   In other developments: ..............

16May68- Road Paves Way To Civic Betterment

   TAM KEY, Vietnam (IO) - Things are happening in Tam Ky.  After four years of crippling enemy interdiction , the road that connects Tam Ky to Tien Phuoc is open - an act which seems to have triggered a new vitality in the people here.

   The roadway was opened a concerted program of clearing and construction by U.S. and Vietnamese units.

   The celebration marking this event included a ribbon-cutting in Tam Ky and a highly enthusiastic reception in Tien Phuoc.

   Province Chief Hoang Dinh Tho would not relax following this significant achievement in his province.  He immediately initiated a "Clean-up Tam Ky" campaign, beginning the following morning.  This would be a combined effort by all the townspeople to make their home cleaner and a place to be proud of.

   They started by sweeping the streets and disposing of the accumulation of junk and garbage.  Then drainage ditches were cleared of debris.

   Each home was instructed to supply and maintain a trash barrel in front of the dwelling and to dig sanitary trenches for the family's use.

   Public areas were cleared by Boy Scouts, Combat Youth groups and school children.

   Police conducted a comprehensive check on all citizens to insure that they were registered residents of Tam Ky, and to prevent Viet Cong infiltrators coming in with the people who had traveled from Tien Phuoc on the newly opened route.

   Hoang Dinh Tho is not finished.  He is looking for other projects his villagers can undertake for self-improvement.  "...with the people as enthusiastic as they are, we will continue to initiate projects which will benefit their own well-being."

17May68(FRI)-200 Reported Killed at Kham Duc

   SAIGON (AP) - Incomplete casualty reports disclose that more than 200 Allied troops and civilians were killed in the last ditch defense and subsequent evacuation of the Kham Duc Special Forces camp in South Vietnam's Central Highlands.

   According to U.S. officials, 25 American Marines, soldiers and airmen were killed in the battle that ended Sunday.  Another 125 were wounded.

   Vietnamese sources said at least 185 Vietnamese soldiers and civilian irregulars and their dependents were killed.

   "There could be more," a South Vietnamese military source said.  He said he had no breakdown on how many of the victims were South Vietnamese army regulars, civilian irregulars and dependents.

   But American survivors trickling into Da Nang Wednesday told how panic swept among the Vietnamese at the Kham Duc camp when the order was given to leave.  The survivors said mothers with babies in their arms dashed for huge airport transport planes as North Vietnamese mortars slammed into the runway of the Special Forces camp.

   The 25 Americans were killed in evacuating and fighting a desperate rear-guard action at the camp while 1,700 defenders and their families were lifted out last Sunday.

    North Vietnamese gunners ringing the air strip knocked down four American planes and five helicopters during the three-day attack, including a huge C130 transport reportedly loaded with as many as 150 evacuees.

   U.S. Special Forces officers said the evacuation was a success and nearly everyone in the camp got out.

   Some who didn't make were U.S. Army troops on the camp perimeter, fighting a rear guard action while the others were evacuated.  They were overrun by the charging North Vietnamese troops.  Some of the U.S. infantrymen called air strikes on top of themselves and their wounded buddies when the enemy charged.

   After the evacuation, B52 bombers mounted 13 raids on enemy troop concentration around the camp Sunday and Monday.

   U.S. spokesmen said the B52 crewmen reported the explosives dropped in the raids touched off at least 76 secondary explosions indicating that enemy ammunition and fuel dumps were blown up.

20May68-Marine Pilots Spur Surrender of 9 N. Vietnamese Near Hue

   CHU LAI, Vietnam (OSI) - The Marine Aircraft Group (MAG) 12 debriefer looked twice as he read the report on the mission flown by A4E skyhawk pilots, Majs. John A. Herber and Thomas F. Lewis.

   It read "100 per cent target coverage, 100 per cent of the target destroyed, and nine North Vietnamese Army soldiers captured."

   All it took was a show of Marine air power and the NVA soldiers, with hands held high, walked into U.S. Army lines and surrendered.

   The Marine attack Sq. 311 pilots were on a bombing mission in support of Army units engaged in close combat with NVA northwest of Hue.

   A low overcast hampered an immediate attack by the Chu Lai based Skyhawks which flew over the target for 15 minutes.

   "I think that's one reason they surrendered," said Herber, 35, of Bethell, Wash., the flight leader.  "While waiting for the ground troops to mark their position and the Army controllers to mark the enemy positions, we circled under the overcast in plain sight.  It may have gotten on their nerves."

   "I's be hesitant about fighting, too," said Lewis, 30 of Pisgal Forest, N.C.  "The NVA were surrounded by the Army and above them were two Skyhawks with 20mm cannons, 250 and 500-pound bombs, waiting for them to give away their positions.  What else could they do?"

   Those who decided to stay more than likely wished they had surrendered.

   Once the enemy positions were spotted, the Skyhawks made a series of passes dropping their bombs.

   Flying through intense automatic weapons fire, the Skyhawks strafed as close as 20 meters away from the U.S. troops who started to tighten the circle on the NVA.

   A total count of enemy dead could not be obtained immediately due to smoke and fire in the area.  However , the controller informed the flight that it was credited with nine prisoners captured.

21May68-Unit Scares Off Reds, Discovers Giant Arms Cache

   CHU LAI, Vietnam (IO) - A combination of hard driving initiative and good luck brought to light the largest weapons cache ever uncovered by the Americal Div.'s 11th Inf. Brigade and destroyed a major enemy base of operations during Operation Norfolk Victory.

   Ironically, the most successful single action in destroying enemy bases  and sources of supply involved what was supposed to be the operation's "beater" force.  Two platoons of 4th Bn., 3rd Inf. were operating on the fringe of a sweep by the brigade's 1st Bn., 20th Inf. through the mountains and into the Tra Khuc River Valley west of Quang Ngai City.

   A 3rd Inf. company made an amphibious assault across the river, swept up the valley north of the main force, and into the mountains, killing five enemy and capturing 112 suspects, in an attempt to drive the enemy into the "Norfolk Victory" area.

   "We counted 21 enemy soldiers in green uniforms running away from us up a hill, and we went up to check out the area they'd come out of," Sgt. Charles Akes said.

   The first platoon moved into the area, and noticed several hooches, and an enemy weapon laying out in the open.  A search of the area revealed several tunnel entrances and the platoon began investigating.

   "They were really well hidden," said Spec. 4 Robert Van Tholen.  "The entrances were all natural openings, none of them dug."

   "Suddenly," said Sgt.  Eddie Symington, "people began pulling weapons out of everywhere."  The tunnels yielded stacks of rifles, submachine guns, carbines and automatic weapons.  "A lot of them still had the waxed paper wrappings on them," Symington said.

   "The place was bigger than we thought," said S. Sgt. John Williams.  "It looked like a major supply base.  Instead of the usual tunnels, the place was honeycombed with a series of caverns.  They had sleeping quarters, a hospital, even offices with typewriters."

   Spec. 4 Peter Rico thought "It looked like some kind of training center.  They

had pictures drawn on the rocks with chalk, showing soldiers using bayonets, Huey helicopters, soldiers shooting rifles, all indifferent spots like training areas."

   The 2nd platoon provided security for the searchers as the men gave the area a thorough going-over during the next three days.  The platoon captured one North Vietnamese ARmy prisoner who had been left behind.  He led them to another weapons cache that had been overlooked, containing 11 U.S. carbines.

   "There just seemed to be no end to it," said Spec. 4 Bobby Scott.  "They had everything there, factories for making booby traps and grenades and even vegetable gardens."

   "The engineers were a lot of help to us," said Spec. Ronald Blake.  "They identified a lot of the booby trap materials; explosives, firing devices, and things like that."

   "We found 1,000 pounds of raw explosives that the VC were using to make booby traps and grenades with," said Spec. 4 Gary Olson, "and the engineers used it all to blow the tunnels.  That mountain just got up and moved over when all that stuff went off!"

    The final count was 126 individual and crew-served weapons, including a 60 mm mortar, a 7.92 mm machine gun and a number of automatic rifles.  In addition, the cache yielded nearly 100 mortar rounds and B-40 rocket rounds, as well as thousands of rounds of small arms ammunition, including belts of M antiaircraft ammunition.

21May68-GI Takes Lucky Fall

   CHU LAI, Vietnam (IO) - A not so surefooted member of the Americal Div.'s 196th Inf. Brigade fell into something rewarding recently while dodging Charlie.

   Spec. 4 George Queen, of Centralia, Ill., and his squad were walking behind another squad when they came under enemy fire.  Queen's squad then moved up a ridge line to help out.

   "I was almost at the top when the rocks gave way and I went smashing to the ground," said Queen.  "When I looked around I could hardly, believe my eyes.  There was an enemy machine gun on wheels."

   Fortunately, t here was no one behind the partially camouflaged 7.62mm heavy machine gun.  "I signaled my platoon leader and we began combing the rocky area," Queen said.

   The squad fanned out and found over 10,000 rounds of ammunition for the gun, three more heavy machine guns, 22 122mm rocket, 123 82mm mortar rounds and four 4.2 inch mortar rounds.

23May68-Not the Time To Be Polite

  CHU LAI, Vietnam (IO) - There's a right time and place to meet women.  A 198th Inf. Brigade soldier picked the wrong time, but he had no choice in the matter.

   S.Sgt. Jerry E. Carter was searching a tunnel in Than Phuoc where he and fellow 1 Bn. 46th Inf. soldiers had killed in an Americal Div. battle.  Turning a corner he found himself staring into the muzzle of a rifle held by a woman.

   "All I had was a flashlight.  She must have been as scared as I was.  Instead of shooting, she tried to hide the weapon under some boards," he said.

   After pulling the woman from the tunnel, Carter discovered the Russian-made rifle had a round in the chamber and the safety was off.

   But Carter's troubles with the opposite sex weren't over yet.

   In another hut he found an old woman, "she must have been 80 years old," sitting on a cooking pot, "It looked kind of strange so I pulled her off-and would you believe it, that little old lady was sitting on a whole bunch of Chicom grenades!"

23May68-VC Dead Wrong In Pat Choice

   CHU LAI, Vietnam (IO)-Four Viet Cong found out the hard way that when they fled from American soldiers it's a good idea to know where to run.

   The incident occurred during Operation Muscatine when infantrymen from the Americal Div.'s 4th Bn., 3rd Inf., 11th Inf Brigade, flushed out five VC northeast of Quang Ngai City.

   In their haste to get away, the enemy ran right into a boobytrap, rigged either by themselves or their comrades.  Four of the soldiers were killed by the explosion while the fifth man evidently made his escape.

23May68-Souvenir Lighter Is Hot Stuff

   CHU LAI, Vietnam (IO) - Street vendors selling souvenirs abound in Vietnam, but Pfc. Virgil K. Dennis will long remember one particular street vendor, and one particular "bargain" that she sold him.

   Dennis is a switchboard operator for Americal Div.'s 11th Brigade at Landing Zone Sue.

   A few weeks ago, he purchased a cigaret lighter from a woman vendor in Chu Lai.  "The little old lady looked innocent enough," he said, "and I got it for a good price."

   "I was on switchboard duty at the 4th Bn., 3rd Inf, firebase when I decided to light up," Dennis recalled.  "As I lit the lighter a call came through the switchboard.  I se the lighter on a table and took the call.  When the call was completed, I picked up the lighter gingerly because it had gotten hot from being lit so long."

   "It was so hot," he said, "that I held it horizontally to light my cigaret.  Suddenly, there was an explosion, and the upper portion of my lighter blew off and took a chunk out of my cheek.  The other fragments nicked my nose and cost me three stitches in my finger."

  A charge of powder had been placed under the wick.