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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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01Jan69- Boat Gets In Last Word

   CHU LAI, Vietnam (Special) - Three Viet Cong who thought the Psy Ops team broadcasting in their area was "all blow and no go" were in for a shock.

   The team was using a Navy Swift boat to patrol a portion of the coastline in the Americal Div. sector of I Corps.

   "We were broadcasting standard taped messages," said Capt. Banta York, the 198th Inf. Brigade Psychological Operations officer.

   As they were cruising along the coastline a helicopter flew out toward the Swift boat and opened fire on the tree line.

   The Viet Cong reacted immediately by returning a hail of automatic weapons fire.

   The Swift boat got into the act and placed 50 caliber M60 and 81mm mortar fire on the enemy position.

   The three VC were killed in the action.

01Jan69- (Wednesday) 5th Copter Downed in 3 Days by Reds

    S&S Vietnam Bureau

   SAIGON-Communist ground fire knocked three more U.S. Army helicopters from the sky Sunday and Monday, increasing to five the number of American copters downed by the enemy in three days, military spokesmen said.

   All three aircraft were destroyed and one soldier was killed.  Unofficially, 970 U.S. helicopters have now been felled by the Reds.

   Shots slammed into a UH1 Huey helicopter at 6:30 p.m. Sunday and brought the ship down near Quang Ngai City, 75 miles southeast of Da Nang.  One American soldier died in the crash.

   Monday, another Huey was brought down 50 miles north of Saigon.  Meanwhile enemy bullets ripped through an OH6 Cayuse 100 miles east of the capital, wounding two GIs.

  In air action Tuesday, U.S. Air Force crews knocked out 358 enemy bunkers and 202 fortifications.  They killed 25 Communists in 365 tactical sorties.

   B52s razed Communist concentrations and complexes in three late strikes before midnight Tuesday and in two others during the early hours of the new year.  Missions were flown in Binh Duong, Tay Ninh, Thua Thien, Bien Hoa and Quang Nam provinces.  One was directed at supply routes, bunkers and storage areas in the Upper Ashau Valley; a long-time Red stomping ground.

   Meanwhile, Vietnamese Air Force A1 Skyraider and F5 Freedom Fighter pilots killed 52 communists during 71 sorties throughout South Vietnam Tuesday.  They also destroyed or damaged 130 fortifications and 49 bunkers.

   U.S. Army helicopter gunners killed 30 enemy soldiers, destroyed 49 fortifications and sank 51 sampans.

05Jan69-THE HIGH-FLYING GUNSLINGERS Special to Stars & Stripes

  'Those guys are real pros!"

  It was spoken in admiration and often astonishment.  Within days and hours after they arrived, the pilots of four Air National Guard tactical fighter squadrons were flying hot missions and screaming over the treelines and jungle that hid crouching enemy.

   The Regular Air Force men, to whom flying and fighting was a profession, watched the Guardsmen who fought and the ones who waited - the ground crews that pumped fuel, and mechanics who pulled maintenance, the armorers who fed the guns of javelin-like jets that flew 12,000 miles to join the war.

   They got approving nods - the kind one professional gives another.  Called from the field, the plow, the classroom and the office, the Weekend Warriors had come through again 0 as they did World War II, Korea and the Berlin Airlift.

   They turned to as if they had been doing it for years.  Many of them had.

   The old pro Regulars, many of them frankly skeptical, were agreeably surprised.

   "I frankly didn't know what to expect from a bunch of guys recalled from civilian life,"  said Lt. Col. Tom Knoles, who commands the 614th Tactical Fighter Sq. at Phan Rang.

   That was before the 120th Tactical Fighter Sq. deployed from Buckley Field, Denver, Colo., flying 22 hours, mostly over water, being nourished en route by 11 to 13 air-to-air refuelings.  They landed at Phan Rang, were given a tough course in survival, and rushed into action almost as quickly as infantry replacements.

   It was the same story for the 174th TFS flying from Sioux City, Iowa, to Phu Cat.  The 188th TFS left Albuquerque, N.M., and the 136th TFS departed from Niagara Falls - both of these outfits landing at Tuy Hoa.

   With overnight stops at Hickam AFB, Hawaii, and Andersen AFB, Guam, each unit left with 20 F-100C Supersabres and landed them as perfectly tuned fighting instruments, without an accident or incident.

   But what really pleased the regulars was the discovery that they could glean years of golden experience from the newcomers.  Some were fighting their third war and a few their fourth - those who had served four to six years in Regular Air Force and Navy and already knew the livid green-dull brown tapestry of Vietnam from the air.  They volunteered to stay with the outfit they had come to know only on weekends but had become part of their lives.

   The Guardsmen belong to the working Air Force.  On its 44th day in Vietnam, 120th completed its 1,000 mission.  Maj. John Franse, a 35-year old Denver attorney, flew the landmark mission and shrugged it off as "routine."

   "We were turned over to forward air controllers on a mission to the South where enemy troops were engaging the Army," he related, "The enemy was retreating into a tree line along a canal.  We made three bomb passes and destroyed several bunkers and some military structures.  We strafed some sampans, sinking some but I don't know how many.  We got some small arms fire but weren't hit."

   Just another mission - the way any pilot, wartime retread or lifetime regular, might describe it.

   The flying gunslingers from Sioux City flew four more days than the 120th before they hit the millennium mark.  Because Phu Cat is the most isolated of the three bases manned by Guardsmen, and the closest to the Ho Chi Minh Trail and the DMZ, the 174th had hard work cut out for it.

   They work for the 37th Tactical Fighter Wing Col. LeRoy J. Manor, the commander, hands out "top gun" awards each day to the pilot who flies the best  mission.  Guards won it seven out of the last nine days of June.

   The 188th and 136th were behind only because they arrived last, at Tuy Hoa, which can be a launching, point for missions from the DMZ and south to Saigon, besides Pleiku and Hue.  Anywhere they park or fly is a long way from Albuquerque or Niagara Falls.  However, said one Regular Air Force sergeant: "They proved right off they were real pros.  In one sense, they were unhappy to be torn away from their families and civilian jobs, but they didn't gripe - they just said, "We're here, let's go to work!"

   Citizen soldiers, all, Ninety per cent of the Guardsmen in the 188th finished their military obligation years ago.  Lt. Col. Fred Fink, squadron commander relates that 356 out of 750 men were selected for the move to Vietnam - and were pointedly asked if they wanted to stay behind.

   "Not one man said he wanted to stay home," Fink says proudly.

   The outfit from Niagara Falls includes four World War II pilots who fought over this area.  One is a grandfather, Lt. Col. LaVerne Donner, commander of the 136th, learned he had become a father for the seventh time, the day he landed at Tuy Hoa.

   1st Lt. Garth Blakely, a former airline pilot in the New Mexico squadron, was far from his home base when the 188th was mobilized.  His job had taken him to Saigon.

   Mobilized, called up, dislocated from home and family, the Guardsmen accept it with the same game, heads-up spirit as the Regulars.  M. Sgt Thomas Mock, 32-year-old first sergeant with the 174th , puts it this way:

  "It's the first time I've been away from my family, but my wife and children are damned proud i'm here and able to serve my country."

*Note - I placed this article in with the Americal Division material because

of the fine support we received by F-100 supersabres based out of Phu Cat one day.

They dropped napalm on a cliff overlooking our position that really burned out a an area directly above us.  I got goosebumps thinking what would have happened if someone had been able to unload on our parked helicopter from that position.

14Jan69- Green Beret Captures Chris at Altar


   MIAMI BEACH (AP)-Chris Noel, the leggy disc jockey who went to Vietnam as the U.S. answer to Hanoi Hanna, was married Saturday to a Green Beret captain who proposed in a helicopter.

   The girl whose miniskirt was her trademark wore a floor length wedding gown when she became the bride of Capt. Ty Herrington, a native of Mullins S.C.

   Chris, of West Palm Beach, Fla., went to Vietnam several times to promote her twice-weekly show on Armed Forces Radio, "A Date With Chris."

   "I never really listened to her," said Herrington.  "I wasn't in an area where I could hear much of anything on the radio."  

   But the captain maneuvered to have himself assigned as Chris's escort and on her second trip, proposed to the singing blonde while flying to an appearance.

   They were married by the Rev. Jonathan Aho of the Bayshore Lutheran Church in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Rauthbord.

   "I knew we'd be married the second time I saw him," Chris said.

   Herrington, a paratrooper, was wounded three times during his 18 months in Vietnam.

   The couple will honeymoon in the Bahamas and live in Los Angeles.

   Chris said she would continue her radio program for the troops.

   -This was placed her because there is a large following for Chris Noel

    among the Vietnam Veterans community-

16Jan69-(Thursday)  Biggest Landing Of War



     S&S Vietnam Bureau.

   SAIGON - Storming ashore in the biggest amphibious assault of the Vietnam war, nearly 4,000 Marines moved onto a Communist-controlled peninsula near Quang Ngai, military spokesmen revealed Tuesday.

   As the Marines came ashore, U.S. and Vietnamese Army troops moved in by land to set up a giant cordon around the peninsula.

   The peninsula - known as Batangan - juts into the South China Sea about 10 miles above the coastal plain city of Quang Ngai, about 330 miles northwest of Saigon.

   It has an area of about eight square miles and long has been a staunchly Communist area.  The scheme behind the operation is to bring the area under government control.  In the past, Viet Cong troops fighting on Batangan's fringes could retreat in safety to the peninsula, officials said.

   Stars & Stripes Correspondent Spec. 5 Jack Benedict reported that five Viet Cong were killed in light action during the first day of the operation.  One American was reported wounded.

   The operation is really two operations, under two different commanders.

   The first-dubbed Bold Mariner-was the amphibious landing and includes some units of the 2nd ARVN Inf. Div. Leathernecks of the 26th Regimental Landing Team comprised most of the force.

   The second - called Russell Beach - consists mainly of Americal Div. troopers.

   Brig. Gen Howard H. Cooksey, who heads the Americal Div. task force, said heavier contact is expected when the cordon starts to tighten.  He said at least two main force battalions were in the encircled area when the operation stared.

   Early indications are that at least one of them has been trapped.  The remaining task of flushing the enemy out will be prolonged by an extensive network of tunnels-some dug three stories deep - and numerous booby traps.

   An impressive portion of the U.S. 7th Fleet - including the battleship New Jersey - stood offshore in the shallow green waters as the Marines hit the shore, wanting to help.  But the Leathernecks landed without opposition.

   The operation is expected to follow a pattern described by other big cordons.  Residents of the closed area-an estimated 5,000 will be evacuated to an interrogation camp on the fringes of the circle.

   Meanwhile, troops on the cordon's perimeter will slowly tighten the circle, searching for buried supplies and reluctant residents or Communist soldiers.

     Photo caption-Marines board helicopters on the USS Tripoli for flight to the Communist-controlled Batangan Peninsula in South Vietnam.  The action is the biggest amphibious assault of the war.  (UPI)

   Jersey Batters Bunkers

  SAIGON (S&S) - The battleship New Jersey destroyed or damaged four enemy bunkers Friday in the northern sector of South Vietnam, Navy sources said Saturday.

  (Personal reflections by a helicopter crewchief from the Americal Division's

A/123rd Avn Bn. about the Batangan Peninsula operation by Leslie Hines.)

I observed an amphibious landing of tanks.  All these years I had thought that these were marine tanks.  It turns out they were 1st/1st Cav tanks brought in on Marine landing boats.  I saw one of the tanks sink in the landing. It was driving in shallow water and hit a pot hole in the beach.  It floated a little over to one side before it sank completely, but just under the water a little. At the Americal re-union in Chicago I overheard a 1st/1st Cav veteran telling the story of how his tank had sunk in the landing.  I was surprised that I had found someone that had crossed my path years ago.  He related that his tank was to be blown in place when the officer in charge ordered them to do better.  They got it out.  The rest of the story that the tanker didn't know was that when the tank was being towed up to Tam Ky, the bridge collapsed on them.  I was flying with the for the 26th engineers the next day.  They cursed the tankers.  Although the river was nearly dry it was a big bridge and hard to get the tanks off the bridge.  It seemed that there were three tracked vehicles on the bridge.  I had thought that the tanks were headed south because their turrets were pointed south, but my pilot, Mr. McCaig, told me that they had the turrets pointed backwards from where they were going.  He recalled this and confirmed the 1st/1st Cav veteran's story and added

that there was an NBC filming the collapsed bridge repair.  They eventually brought in a Sky crane to carry in materials to repair the bridge.  

   As far as the New Jersey being close by in the green waters, it seemed to be quite far out.  I flew staff missions from the Americal out to visit the New Jersey three times.  It was quite a flight out over the water to the Battleship.  When we landed it was unsettling that we would set down, then the ship would go out from under us and we would have to land again and again until we were finally down for good.  I was surprised that the Navy guys were interested in getting of me and our helicopter.  One of the Navy guys showed me how I could see the 16" shells after they were being fired.  It took me a while to catch on, but I could see the shells going out.  I was told that it took between 300 and 600 lbs of gunpowder per shot.  The shells fired could go as big as 2700 lbs.  I could feel the ship move with the guns were fired.  When we flew the staff around the impact zone before we went out. It was amazing how far away from the impact zone the rice paddies were taking shrapnel.  I don't think I would have wanted to be standing up even if I was a mile and a half away.  There was a submarine partially submerged offshore on the day of the amphibious landing.  I recall the pilot saying that the submarine was one of ours.  That was a relief.

   Later during this operation we flew lots of loads of refugees to LZ CHIC.  The LZ looked like a sandbar in the river near Quang Ngai.  It was really tiring and stressful with lots of short hops and crowding the Vietnamese in the helicopters.

I was really beat when we returned at night.  I don't recall flying flares missions for this operations, but I read that the area was being illuminated all night long by flares.    

   I also recall a little of flying some wounded out to a hospital ship named Sanctuary.  Some of the wounded I think were Marines.

17Jan69- Enemy Breakout Repulsed

   Marines Tighten Noose on Peninsula Bastion

   Compiled From S&S Vietnam Bureau and AP

   SAIGON - U.S. Marines participating in an 8,200 man operation on the Batangan Peninsula got their first taste of action Wednesday as they tightened their noose on a Viet Cong stronghold 340 miles northeast of Saigon.

  The Marines repulsed an enemy attempt to break out of the cordon, suffering one dead and seven wounded in a fierce exchange of small arms fire.  Viet Cong casualties were not known.

   Two battalions of Marines swept ashore on the peninsula Monday in what the U.S. Navy said was the biggest seaborne assault since the Inchon landing of the Korean War in 1950.  With U.S. Army and South Vietnamese units sweeping from the inland side, the Allies hope to trap an estimated 800 North Vietnamese regulars and an undetermined number of Viet Cong guerrillas and sympathizers.

   The infantry units so far have reported encountering only sporadic sniper fire.  The Marines reported 700 suspects rounded up for interrogation to determine if they are Viet Cong sympathizers.

   In other action......

18Jan69- Reds Down 2 Copters, Ambush Salvage Column

         ........Three American airmen were killed when Communist troops downed an Army OH6 Cayuse light observation helicopter Wednesday 12 miles west of Quang Ngai City.  Later in the day, a UH1 Huey helicopter gunship was shot down near Pleiku............

   Americal Div Shift

  CHU LAI, Vietnam (Special)

--Command Sgt. Maj James P. Meade has assumed duties with the Americal Div. Meade filled the position left vacant by Command Sgt. Maj. James D. Rogers, who has been reassigned as command sergeant major of the 1st Army area at Fort Meade, Md.

19Jan69- Noose Tightens in Peninsula

   Marines Kill 42 Reds in 2 Battles


       S&S Staff Correspondent

   SAIGON-U.S. Marines, backed by artillery and F4 Phantom dive-bombers, killed 42 Communist soldiers in two battles Thursday 40 miles southeast of Da Nang.  There were no American casualties.

   Meanwhile, about 25 miles farther southeast, the 8,200-man Allied noose continued to tighten around an estimated 800 North Vietnamese regulars and an unknown number of Viet Cong guerrillas and sympathizers on the Batangan Peninsula.

   Leathernecks from the 5th Regt., 1st Marine Div., spotted two groups of Reds-totaling nearly 100 men-while sweeping six miles northeast of An Hoa.  In the first engagement, at 11 a.m., the Marines attacked about 50 Reds armed with rifles and rocket-grenade launchers and killed 25 with artillery support.  An hour later, a company sweeping nearby saw an estimated enemy platoon and called for artillery and air strikes.  The Marines moved in later and found 17 enemy bodies and four suspects.

   Stars and Stripes Correspondent Jack Benedict reported from Quang Ngai that 2,550 refugees had been moved to that city as the cordon operation 10 miles to the north went into its fourth day Thursday.  He said field commanders reported more than 1,000 suspects have been taken in for questioning.

   Twelve Communists were known dead as the Allies continued to meet only light resistance in their sweep over marshy plains and scattered woodlines.  But Benedict said commanders expect to meet heavy contact within a few days when they close in on what they believe is more than one dug-in NVA battalion.

   The cordon was formed las Monday when two battalions of Marines were put ashore in what the spokesmen called the biggest amphibious assault of the war.  U.S. and South Vietnamese soldiers were lifted into the area by helicopters.

   In other action..........


  Spotter-Plane Pilot, GIs Take 'Nasty Toy' From Reds

   DA NANG, Vietnam (Special)

-"One of these days I'm going to get that clown", muttered Lt. Col. Ralph N. Albright, Hampton, Va., as he pulled his O1 Bird Dog into a left turn away from the stream of anti aircraft fire streaking up at him from the hills north of the Thuong Duc Special Forces CIDG camp.

   As the light observation pulled around in a tight climbing turn he rolled into twisting dive making the little ship a difficult target.

   Albright flying in his third war, is no exception when it comes to seeking revenge.

   The quiet-spoken fighter pilot, who flew P-38s in World War II, is attached to C Co., 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) at DaNang.  Together with another forward air controller (FAC), they form a team flying for the Special Forces CIDG camps in I Corps.

   Albright has introduced some innovations which have proved successful.  He believes in getting out to the camps and on the ground with the teams to better understand their problems.  It was because of this that he happened to be on the operation that netted the 1.27mm AA gun that had plagued him earlier.

   While flying spotter-type missions, Albright had noted enemy activity in the area north of the camp and the camp decided to send out a company-sized patrol to investigate, accompanied by the FAC temporarily turned infantryman.

   One of the two companies temporarily assigned to Thuong Duc from Tien Phuoc CIDG camp moved out at 04500 in a steadily falling rain.  The senior adviser was the team sergeant from Tien Phuoc, Sgt. Ramon Mori, Fayetteville, N.C. With him in addition to Col. Albright was another member of his team, Spec. 4 David J. Klancer, Dunkirk, N.J. and Thuong Duc's team sergeant, Sgt 1.C. Richard W. Hall, Fayetteville, N.C., an expert on the terrain.

   The company moved east through the village, then swung north along the river, finally advancing up the hill.  They moved quietly but steadily, the small noises of the column muffled by the falling rain.  Behind them.  B40 rockets were falling on the camp.

   They were completely immersed in the towering elephant grass.  Finally, three hours out from the camp, the point made contact.

   Sharp firing broke out and the company quickly dispersed.  Enemy soldiers could be seen running up the far slopes ahead of them.  they had been caught by surprise in the act of digging three large bunkers.  As the company swept over the area, one body was found.  And then the CIDG soldier came upon the AA gun.

   "Well, I'll be darned", said Col. Albright.  "If it ain't my obnoxious friend with the nasty toys.  Now maybe I'll get a little peace up there."

   The AA gun and assorted ammo were carried away by the jubilant soldiers.  Then artillery fire from the camp and air strikes mopped up the positions.

19Jan69- GI Party-Poopers Put Crimp in Reds' Plans

   CHU LAI, Vietnam, Vietnam (Special)

-The invitation was "come as your are" and a company of "Chargers" from the 196th Inf. Brigade accepted, but they were unable to thank their hostess.  She remained incognito.

   During a patrol F Troop, teaming with 2nd Bn., 1st Inf., discovered a document notifying district VC cadre in Que Son Valley of a meeting to be held "at Mrs. Trinh's house."  The message contained the date time and location of the party at the lady's house, about six miles northwest of LZ Ross.

   Although their invitation had been delivered just a little late for elaborate preparations, they decided to add their own special surprise party.

   They outdid themselves to be punctual.  On the appointed evening, B Co., led by Capt John R. Malpass, of Larchmont, N.Y., cordoned the hill below Mrs. Trinh's home and swept up to the door.

   They were too early.  The other guests had not yet arrived and five Vietnamese women met them on their arrival.

   None of the five would admit being the hospitable Mrs. Trinh.

   With the aid of daylight the next morning the "Chargers" from the Americal Div. found a nearby cave loaded with "party favors" such as new black PJ's, land deeds, pictures of Ho Chi Minh and a Viet Cong flag.

20Jan69- Cordon Nets 35 Suspects  

         S&S Vietnam Bureau

   SAIGON - GIs and Leathernecks surrounding a Viet Cong-controlled peninsula near Quang Ngai spent another slow day Friday checking civilians, officials said.

   Americal Div. troopers have reported arresting 35 Vietnamese suspected of being Communist political workers since the Americal's part of the operation began Jan. 13.

  The prisoners came from the 1,294 persons reported by Navy spokesmen to have been taken from inside the cordon and questioned.

   Navy officials, apparently speaking for all components of the joint operation, also said 32 Communists have been killed in the five-day-old operation.  Four Americans are dead and 28 wounded.

21Jan69- GIs, Big Guns Kill 30 Reds

   N. Viets Routed in 2 Battles



    S&S Staff Correspondent

  SAIGON - ......Elsewhere, the enemy toll in the giant cordon operation on the Batangan Peninsula rose slowly to 44 killed as the 8,200 Allied troops continued to close in on what they believe to be at least one North Vietnamese Army battalion and an unknown number of Viet Cong guerrillas and sympathizers 10 miles north of Quang Ngai.

   Americal Div. sources said one of their camps set up behind the cordon lines was hit Saturday afternoon with five 60mm mortar shells, killing one soldier and wounding four.

   Other Americal Div. troopers killed two Viet Cong Saturday when they discovered

the Reds digging foxholes.  Three VC escaped.

   The trap has closed tighter by more than 2,000 yards since Monday, but the Allies have not met the heavy resistance they expected.  U.S. losses in the first days of the sweep were four killed and 28 wounded.  Four of the wounded are Navy corpsmen working with Marines.

   South Vietnamese military sources reported these other actions Saturday............

22Jan69  Marines Flush Out 5 Vast VC Tunnels

    Compiled From S&S and UPI

   SAIGON - A U.S. Marine fell into a vast, bomb-proof Communist tunnel complex Sunday while sweeping a red-clay peninsula south of Da Nang and then joined other Leathernecks to flush 90 Viet Cong sappers out of the estimated 900 yards of Red underground bunkers.

   At least five tunnels, some hundreds of yards long and as deep as 30 feet below the ground, were uncovered by Leathernecks in the eighth day of Operation Bold Mariner on the Batangan peninsula, 75 miles south of South Vietnam's second largest city.

   One tunnel was found by a Marine who dropped into it while digging a foxhole, UPI correspondent Kate Webb reported.  Another was spotted when a Viet Cong popped out to watch a U.S. gunship rake the surrounding area with fire.

   Four Marines from the 26th Regimental Landing Team were wounded when a big booby trap exploded near one of the tunnel entrances.  The detainees, most of the m draft age, said they had hidden in the tunnels since the cordon operation began, according to Michael Kopp, Stars and Stripes staff correspondent.

   At least 23 Reds were reported killed and 136 captured during the weekend, they were routed by Marine "tunnel rats" who crawled into the deep bunkers with 45-caliber pistols and smoke grenades.

   The peninsula is being blasted around-the-clock with bomb strikes, artillery, naval gunfire and gunship runs.

   At least 3,758 suspected Communists have been detained and 57 Red troops known-dead, officials reported.  Two hills - Nui Lon and Hill 37-were taken without resistance, they added.

   Overall Allied casualties in the operation, largest amphibious assault of the war, were described as "light." Many of the wounded were victims of "peanut butter mines," C-ration cans filled with explosives and designed to blow off the feet.

24Jan69-Marine-ARVN Cordon Flushes 156 From VC Tunnel Complex


    S&S Staff Correspondent

   SAIGON - Fighting flared near Quang Ngai City along South Vietnam's central coastlands Tuesday as Americal Div. troopers pressed efforts to keep Communists in the area at bay, military spokesmen said.

   As GIs, Vietnamese government troops and Marines cautiously tightened a cordon around a Viet Cong-held peninsula about seven miles north of the coastal city of Quang Ngai, two sharp fights flared a few miles away.  In the two battles and a dozen smaller clashes, Americal troops and Marines killed at least 87 Red soldiers and captured at least four more.

   And about six miles north of Quang Ngai, the 8,00 GIs, Marines and ARVN soldiers of operations "Bold Mariner" and "Russell Beach" slowly searched inside their cordon an a VC-held peninsula.

   The circle's most spectacular turn so far came Sunday when 156 persons - including 55 VC militiamen-were flushed from a huge tunnel complex  on the peninsula.

   Meanwhile ...............

   In another day of light and scattered fighting around most of South Vietnam, the most noteworthy-according to U.S. headquarters-was the action around Quang Ngai.

   The 11th Inf. Brigade, Americal Div. troops who surprised an unknown-size Red force in a supposedly abandoned village Monday kept their hold on the area.  So far 17 Reds are known dead in the fighting, while U.S. casualties remain light.     About six miles to the north, division military policemen patrolling in boats spotted about 100 Communist soldiers clustered on the shore.  The MPs called for a Navy Swift boat, which killed at least 10 Reds with mortar and machine-gun fire.

   The MPs landed and captured another four wounded Communists and seven suspects.


25Jan69- Cordon Push Nets 119 POWs

   S&S Vietnam Bureau

   SAIGON - American Marines and infantrymen engaged in "Operation Russell Beach" have turned up 119 confirmed Viet Cong political workers as the GIs continue to tighten a knot around a Red stronghold in the lowlands of Batangan Peninsula, 50 miles south of Da Nang.

   The 12-day-old cordon began with the largest amphibious assault of the Vietnam war.  So far, the Allied forces have picked up 6,894 Viet Cong suspects and killed 59 enemy soldiers.  American losses are five killed and 36 wounded.

   U.S. military spokesmen announced here Wednesday that a second cordon operation - also aimed as wiping out a VC strong hold- has been set up 25 miles to the west of "Russell Beach."

   The latest cordon got off a quick start Monday morning when GIs of the 11th Light Inf. Brigade came under heavy mortar, rocket-grenade and rifle fire from Communist soldiers entrenched in bunkers in an abandoned village.

   At dawn Tuesday, the Americans started sweeping the village.  Heavy fighting broke out again and continued all day.  

   Sporadic fighting continued through the night, the spokesmen said.

26Jan69- 2nd Crash Kills Marine Col.

   Reds Down Medevac Copter; 7 Die

   Compiled from AP and S&S

   SAIGON - A medical helicopter was shot down in the central highlands Thursday killing seven person and bringing the war's total of choppers lost in combat to 999, the U.S. command reported Friday.

   The command also belatedly announced that a helicopter shot down Jan. 15 south of Da Nang killed Col. Michael M. Spark, 41 of Alexandria Va., and commander of the 3rd Marine Div's 3rd Regt.

   Six other persons, including another Marine officer, died with him in the flaming crash.  Spark was the first Marine regimental commander killed in Vietnam.

   The medical evacuation helicopter was downed Thursday in the central highlands 23 miles northwest of Pleiku.  Three wounded Americans and four crewmen were killed.  The command said it was clearly marked with red crosses.

   Meanwhile, Communist mortar teams shelled two U.S. Army base camps causing light damage.

   Friday morning a camp of the 11th Light Inf. Brigade, Americal Div. was hit with about 10 82mm mortar shells.  The base is seven miles northeast of Quang Ngai city and is headquarters for U.S. soldiers fighting in the big. "Russell Beach" cordon operation on the Batangan peninsula.


   Meanwhile, a Coast Guard patrol boat apprehended 46 "Vietnamese natives" off the coast of the Batangan peninsula 70 miles south of Da Nang.  The Vietnamese, including women and children carrying household goods, were taken to a nearby interrogation center.

27Jan69- Photos and captions on the Batangan Peninsula operations.

      Cordon Tightens on Viet Peninsula

           S&S Photos

         By SPEC. 4 MICHAEL KOPP


(1) Americal Div. troopers check out a Vietnamese boat during cordon operation around Batangan Peninsula near Quang Ngai, Vietnam.  U.S. Marines and

Vietnamese troops are also taking part in the cordon.





?29Jan69- Photo caption - Artillery like this at fire support bases through out the Operation Common Taylor area in northern South Vietnam provide the "big punch" for Marine infantry units.  Supporting artillery is available to the Leatherneck ground troops 24 hours a day.  (This was a joint operation with the Americal Div.)

29Jan69- Marines, GIs Start Mop-Up

  SAIGON (UPI) - A force of 3,000 U.S. Marines and infantrymen behind a column of tanks began their "final push" across the Batangan Peninsula Communist stronghold on the northern coast Monday, military spokesmen said.

   Spokesmen said the Leathernecks and units of the Army's Americal Division hoped to complete the final two-mile sweep of the isthmus, 320 miles northeast of Saigon "within three days."

   The operation Sunday claimed the lives of seven Marines and wounded two others when an apparent electrical malfunction blew up a sophisticated minesweeper on the peninsula, officials reported.

   The 39-foot vehicle, known as a landing vehicle tank engineer (LVTE), normally has a ten-man crew.  Spokesmen said an electrically-detonated "blind charge" apparently exploded prematurely."

   A "blind charge" is a cable fired by a rifle-like device and usually detonates on command about 20 feet in front of the minesweeper.  The LVTE also is equipped with a 19-foot plow which furrows into the earth, exploding any mines in its path.

   Spokesmen said the explosion in the converted armored personnel carrier was the first of its kind in Vietnam.

   The Batangan operation originally involved about 8,500 allied but the number was reduced to 3,000 men as the cordon shrunk.  Almost a score of tanks led Monday's assault spokesmen said.

   More than 10,500 civilians have been removed from the hilly, red-clay peninsula.  At least 137 prisoners have been classified as Viet Cong and another 109 Communists have been killed in the sweep.

31Jan69-Scattered Fighting Kills 294 Reds

   SAIGON-The war in South Vietnam Monday was marked by occasional bursts of fierce, bloody fighting.

   The enemy lost 294 men in scattered fighting throughout the republic.

   At least 16 soldiers were killed in the republic's northern provinces when a combined action platoon spotted them moving in the open about six miles north of Tam Ky City.  The brief firefight also netted the American troopers several rifles and a crew-served weapon.  There were no U.S. casualties, and allied losses were light overall..........

31Jan69- Pfc. Named Brutus is GIs' Best Friend

   CHU LAI, Vietnam (Special)

-Caeser had his Brutus and so does a company of "Chargers" from the 196th Inf. Brigade.

   This Brutus is far from being a Roman statesman, however Brutus is a 95-pound part German Shepherd who is a familiar sight around LZ West, home of the 4th Bn., 31st Inf., located in Que Son Valley.

   Brutus was born 14 months ago on "Purple Heart Hill" near Chu Lai, when Echo Company was located there.

   His mother was a pet Vietnamese dog called Short Round and his father was an army scout dog.

   Brutus, once a short clumsy pup with very large feet, is no longer awkward.

   He is a combat veteran with numerous combat assaults by helicopter to his credit.  He has also been awarded the Combat Infantryman's Badge and the Purple Heart.

   The chaplain of 4/31, Cpt. David H. Lovelace, said that Brutus leads all personnel at LZ West in church attendance.  Brutus shows no discrimination, attending both Catholic and Protestant services regularly.

   Brutus' plans for the future are somewhat indefinite at present.  He is already in his second tour of duty in Vietnam and is thinking of extending to take advantage of the 150-day "early out" program.

   Now he is happier than usual - he just received his orders for Private First Class.  Prior to this he had more time in-grade as E-2 than any other enlisted member of the "Charger" Brigade.

   Perhaps the chief reason everybody gets along with Brutus is that no one would take a chance on making him mad.