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Feb. 69

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01Feb69- Americal Div. Unit Wins Valor Award

   CHU LAI, Vietnam (Special) - "For extraordinary heroism while engaged in military operations" the 1st Bn., 6th Inf., 198th Inf. Brigade received the U.S. Army Valorous Unit Award.

   The battalion - the first unit in the Americal Division to win this award - at the time of the action was comprised of Headquarters and Headquarters Co., and Companies A, B, C, and E (Company D joined the unit later).

   While conducting a search operation south of hamlet of Lo Giang (1) in Quang Nam Province last Feb. 7, C Co. was pinned down by a heavy attack from an enemy force of unknown size.  A Co. moved from north of the hamlet to help out, but came under a barrage of small arms, rocket and mortar fire, causing several casualties and forcing them to withdraw.

   The lead element held their ground to cover the withdrawing remainder of the company, and engaged the Viet Cong in savage hand-to-hand combat to halt a human wave attack that followed the barrage.  Their inspired fighting temporarily repulsed the enemy, and enabled the rest of the company to regroup and launch a counterattack which drove the VC back into the hamlet.

   At the same time B Co. arrived and waded in to help out the beleaguered C Co. in repelling the Communists.

   The three companies then completely destroyed the Viet Cong force.  They killed more than 250 that there was evidence that the VC had removed an additional 300 dead or wounded from the area.

   Photo Caption  - In Combat Z-Z-Z-Zone

Rain-soaked fatigues prove little hindrance to a tired trooper of the 5th Bn., 46th Inf., 198th Inf. Brigade.  He caught a nap during a break in Operation Russell Beach near Quang Ngai City in Northern South Vietnam.  (USA Photo by Pfc. Art Noel).

   Tiger Hunt By GIs Fail

  CHU LAI, Vietnam (Special)

-A fast-moving tiger invaded the Chu Lai defensive perimeter and gave the Americal Div. guards a taste of big game hunting.

   The big cat slipped in through the perimeter wire along Highway 1 about 3:30 p.m., and moved out at a fast pace, keeping guards on extra-special alert within the area.  There were no injuries.

   One nervous solider reported to the command bunker that the tiger ". . . . wasn't the largest I've ever seen, but he wasn't the smallest, either."  Other soldiers who briefly glimpsed the running beast estimated his weight at about 250 pounds.

   At dawn, a helicopter with sharpshooters aboard and a ground patrol began a detailed search of the Chu Lai area without success.

02Feb69- 300 Reds Die in Widespread Viet Clashes


      S&S Staff Correspondent

   SAIGON - New battles erupted in widespread areas of South Vietnam Thursday.  Almost all of them were costly to the Communists.

   Allied spokesmen said Friday that more than 30 enemy troops had been killed in clashes from the mountains west of Da Nang to the Mekong Delta.

   At least 72 Reds were killed when Leathernecks of the 7th Regt., 1st Marine Div., battled a sizable enemy force northeast of An Hoa, about 40 miles northeast of Da Nang.  American casualties were six wounded.

   Marines of the same regiment chalked up eight enemy kills as Operation Linn River, centered just west of Hoi An City, near Da Nang, entered its fourth day.  The multi-battalion search and clear operation has also netted seven enemy suspects detained.  Marine losses so far have been five killed and 17 wounded.

  Also in the northern provinces Thursday, GIs of the Americal Div.'s 198th Light Inf. Brigade killed 14 enemy soldiers in a combat sweep about 11 miles southwest of Tam Ky.  There were no American casualties.

   Other Americal units killed 37 Communist soldiers in several clashes around Quang Ngai City.


   Meanwhile, an unknown-size enemy force, infiltrated a rural hamlet near Tam Ky City, about 35 miles southeast of Da Nang.  The Communists killed six civilians, including a woman.  South Vietnamese Popular Forces returned the Reds' fire but enemy losses were unknown.

02Feb69- When Red Baron Sees Red - ZAP!

   CHU LAI, Vietnam (Special) - The Red Baron was mad.  His voice jumped from the radio with cold fury.

   "He doesn't talk like that very often", said the colonel's driver, listening at headquarters of the 26th Combat Engineer Bn.  Only two minutes before, Lt. Col. Mathew W. Hoey and his chopper crew had been taking a break from a morning of flying over the engineer work parties of B Co.

   Now they were airborne, charging toward the mine sweep team that had called for

"dustoff," the emergency medical evacuation helicopter.

   The radio crackled with terse messages alerting them to the destruction that lay ahead.

   "The roller has been blown up, the driver and the operator were hurt pretty bad," said the platoon leader.  "Dustoff's already gone.  Looks like a CD (command detonated mine)."

   "Roger, We'll try to find who did it.  Get your tracks on the defense and we'll work over the area.

   With that, now seven minutes from a cup of coffee, the Red Baron (as Hoey was dubbed by his men) began a swooping flight at treetop level.  He was looking for the position from which the VC had just blown up the special armored personnel carrier (APC) rigged with a mine detection roller.

   "That bunker at 9 o'clock," barked the colonel.

   With only the briefest of directions, the pilot whipped the chopper left and right, up and down, to give Hoey the best chance of dropping white phosphorous grenades into jungle grown bunkers, trenchlines or ruined huts where a hidden enemy might be lurking.

   With each toss the anger ebbed.  The billowing smoke marked targets for the sol

soldiers on the ground.  With each pass, the door gunners strained against their safety straps, leaning into space to spray tracers from above.  For 10 minutes lethal fired hosed over the battle area.

   "Okay, that's enough.  Lets go downstairs."

   For the moment combat was over.  Action had lowered the intensity of emotions.

  "You'll have to stay here until we can retrieve the wreck.  They want to evaluate it," Hoey told the officer standing beside the hulk.  With that 1st Lt. Mathias J. Kasper issued instruction and Sgt. 1C Edward Robinson had his men and the ACAV's (armored personnel carrier with .50 caliber machine guns) from H Troop, 17th Cav., circle and dig in.  This was VC country, and the wagon circle was as effective now as it was in the Indian wars.

   B Co. and supporting elements were spread in three areas along the jungle road.  Their mission had been to build a road and get the heavy self-propelled cannons of A Btry., 3d Bn., 18th Arty., into Tra Bong.  This they had done.  A "road" inched along the Tra Bong river. But most of the 17.3 miles from Binh Son to the CIDG camp at Tra Bong was a cow path.  Years of war and disuse had allowed the jungle to creep back.  The VC mined what was usable.

   Three bypasses, two dry span bridges and 1 1/2 miles of pioneer road along with the ever-present mine sweep had been needed.

   "We flew airmobile heavy equipment into Tra Bong and started from both ends," commented the colonel.  "We were two-thirds of the way by the end of the first day.  Then the rain started (13 inches in 24 hours) and really hurt.  It took two days to go that last third of the way.

   The return trip was worse.

   "There isn't any road!" was one soldier's remark.

   Now the job was to get themselves back to Highway 1 at Binh Son, and then home.  The Combat Engineer Vehicles (CEV) presented a real-challenge in the deep mud.  Each of these monsters weighs 60 tons but they are essential to area clearance, ammunition off-loading and augmenting fire power.

   The tropical torrent washed out or weakened the road, erasing the previous work.  A CEV bogged in the mud when a section built on a paddy dike collapsed.  This halted the second party.  Landing strip planking was being used at a third stretch of the road so the huge cargo truck, called a "Goer," could go.

   Marauding VC also plagued the column.  Before they got to their base at LZ Bayonet, three soldiers would be killed and 21 wounded.  Seven of the wounded were from H Troop 17 Cav.; the others were from B,C,D, and E companies, 26th Engineer Bn.  Sporadic mortar, rocket and sniper fire harassed them every day.

   "Those guys are tops," reflected LTC Hoey.  "In spite of the mud, rain, floods, washouts, mechanical breakdowns, mines, rockets - you name it, they've been on the receiving end - they can still laugh.  I was kidding Lt. John C. Platt about the CEV being buried, and he was still able to grin.  The units supporting us have also been outstanding, particularly H Troop, 17th Cav. and the 123rd Aviation Bn.

   The Americal Div.'s 26th Engineers again earned the combat in the "combat engineer" title on the road to Tra Bong.

03Feb69- Highlanders Leave 5-Year Hideout 5,400 Montagnards Return to the Fold


    S&S Staff Correspondent

   SAIGON-A curious war within the Vietnam war apparently ended Saturday with the "surrender" of an army of Montagnards in the Central Highlands.

   South Vietnamese officials reported the return of more than 5,400 rebellious Montagnards - including 2,271 soldiers-to the government fold in ceremonies in the mountain city of Ban Me Thuot.

   Several Montagnard tribes - about one million persons in all - dwell in South Vietnam's mountainous central region.  They represent a startling mixture of races and cultures and for years drew only the contempt of Annamite, Cochin and Tonkinese Vietnamese who referred to them as savages."

   The Saigon government briefly courted Montagnard allegiance in the early 1960s, then shoed considerably less interest during the days of the "revolving door" government from 1963 to 1967.

   American Green Berets won some of the most marked successes with the highlanders, training them to carry weapons and bringing modern medicine to many tribes for the first time.  

   The good rapport has continued - despite some times - to the present.  Green Berets still work among Montagnards, but many Americans are finding the highlanders can take care of themselves.

   The seventh Special Forces "A" team to pull out in six months left Gia Vuc Special Forces camp Friday.  A joint ARVN-Montagnard defense force remained behind.

   President Nguyen Van Thieu's government has shown renewed concern for the highlanders, and it was Thieu himself who travelled to Ban Me Thuot, 150 miles northeast of Saigon, to attend ceremonies marking the return of 5,471 members of a rebel group called "FULRO."

   FULRO, derived from the French Front Uni Pour la Liberation des Races Opprimes (United Front for the Liberation of Oppressed Races), split with the Saigon government in 1964, charging discrimination.

   Led by members of the somewhat elite Rhade tribe, the highland natives demanded autonomy, including their own flag, army and government.  When Saigon ordered them to disband, thousands of FULRO members fled west into the mountains instead, fighting with government and American troops as they went.

  At the time observers considered the Viet Cong instrumental in the revolt, while a few officials accused the French of supplying arms and money to the Montagnards via Cambodia.

   Most agreed that the revolt was a major problem for the Saigon government and as late as 1967, some knowledgeable persons were predicting that the split would never be healed.

   But Saturday, more than 5,000 dissidents-by far the largest group of returnees of the war- came back to Ban Me Thuot in exchange for guarantees they would not be prosecuted.

   According to reliable sources, preparation for the mass return began last August, when Montagnard emissaries secretly contacted Americans in the Central Highlands and offered to surrender in return for promises they would not be punished.

   After negotiations, it was agreed that the Montagnards would turn in their weapons but retain their ranks as new members of the South Vietnamese army.

   Montagnard representatives in the South Vietnamese National Assembly were reported instrumental in reaching the agreement.

   The highlanders apparently returned without the man who led them into the mountains nearly five years ago.  Y B'ham Binur was reportedly held captive by Communists.

   If true, it is evidence supporting the prevailing theory that the Montagnards chose government loyalty because Communists were forcing them to grow food and pack supplies for fighting troops.

   Although some Montagnards remain in the hills, far from any community but their own.  South Vietnamese officials have labelled the case closed, calling it a victory for the government.

   Integration of the highlanders into South Vietnamese society remains, however, and even South Vietnamese officials agree the road will not be easy.

04 Feb 69- Photo caption - A Giant Drop of Water

   If it doesn't rain in Vietnam it may still pour water, as this 132nd Support Helicopter Co. Chinook in one trip, delivers a 400-gallon water trailer and three 500 gallon containers to a mountain top U.S. 11th Inf. Brigade position.  (Photo by Spec. 4 Steve Tipton).   (*personal note: this is the same U.S. Army photographed labeled as LZ Cork donated by Paul B. Parham (Americal Division Information officer 1969).

   U.S. Mop-Up Kills 25 VC

   S&S Vietnam Bureau

   SAIGON - U.S. Marines and infantrymen killed 25 Viet Cong Saturday on the Batangan peninsula 10 miles north of Quang Ngai City as the 8,200 man allied cordon pushed towards the South China Sea.

   U.S. military spokesmen said the Leathernecks reached the sea Saturday, the 19th day of the drive.  They killed 20 VC and captured 64 prisoners hiding in caves.

   Soldiers of the 11th Light Inf. Brigade, Americal Div., killed five more VC and discovered a cache - their second in two days - containing 27 assorted weapons.

   Saturday's action raised the enemy toll in the operation to 176 killed.  More than 300 hard-core Viet Cong soldiers and sympathizers have been filtered out form the more than 10,000 suspects questioned.

05Feb69- Destroyer Adds Fire To Drive

   S&S Vietnam Bureau

   SAIGON-U.S. Marines killed six Viet Cong Sunday on the Batangan Peninsula, 10 miles northeast of Quang Ngai City, as the Allied cordon moved with a quarter mile of the beach.

   Infantrymen from the 198th Light Inf. Brigade continued to push toward the South China Sea, killing one enemy soldier.

   The destroyer Power joined the operation Sunday in support of ground forces.  The destroyer blasted 22 targets, but damage assessment was unavailable.

   As the joint operation "Bold Mariner" and Russell Beach" continued in its 17th day, the operation has netted 173 enemy killed, 230 captured, 91 suspects detained

and 32 defectors.

    Elsewhere ............

06Feb69 - Vietnamese Special Forces Stage Parachute Jump During Turnover Ceremonies in Quang Ngai Province

   Berets Pull Out, Leaving a Secure Village

     Photos & Story


    S&S Staff Correspondent

   GIA VUC, Vietnam - It was a simple ceremony, and when it was done, the U.S. Special Forces troops, led by their commander Capt. Edwin C. Sittler, shouldered their packs and marched away.

   They were leaving their camp in a Montagnard village after nearly seven years of advising the villagers and securing their territory from Viet Cong marauders.  They wouldn't be back-except perhaps to visit, in more peaceful times.

   The U.S. was turning over operation of the camp to Vietnamese Special Forces and Civilian Irregular Defense Group soldiers.

   Before leaving, the Americans sat down to a last feast with their Vietnamese and Montagnard friends.  Water buffalo steak, spiced shrimp and beef rolled in rice crust, mushrooms and rice, and garden vegetables were the fare.

   Over the years the Special Forces team has brought improved rice harvests, better farming methods, education and health to the Montagnards.  Sittler, a vigorous, friendly man, says his team succeeded by showing the villagers "simple respect and recognition" of the individual and living and working with them.

   Gia Vuc nestles in the mountains of Quang Ngai Province, on the I Corps-II Corps boundary.  It's a beautiful place, and a better one now because of Americans who did more than fight.

   Photo Captions - Capt. Edwin C. Sittler, commander of the U.S. Special Forces troopers, sips Montagnard wine during the ceremonies.

   Buffalo graze by a rice paddy - a peaceful scene thanks to the special forces.

   Sittler bids farewell to a villager at Gia Vuc.  

   Turnover Ceremonies ended U.S. Special Forces troops march out of their camp for the last time.

08Feb69-Americal's Push Sends Reds to Lick Wounds


      S&S Staff Correspondent

   CHU LAI, Vietnam - "We feel they were planning something and that we upset their timetable."

   Col. JOhn W. Donaldson of the Alexandria, Va., was looking back over more than three months during which his 11th Light Inf. Brigade/had painfully pushed the 3rd North Vietnamese Army Div. out of a long held bastion southwest of the key city of Quang Ngai.  

   The Americal Div. brigade had been at work since last Oct. 4. routing the Reds from the rugged countryside that lies between the Quang Ngai Province capital and the inland mountains that range through the length of I Corps, the northernmost of South Vietnam's four tactical zones.

   The timetable Donaldson was speaking of is generally assumed to be the Communists expected winter-spring offensive, which could include a push on Quang Ngai, one of the most important cities in the upper third of the country.

   How well the NVA had dug into the area was obvious from what the sweeping, probing Americal troopers found there.

   Among the 74 enemy camps discovered and destroyed over the three months were three big headquarters installations-complete with running water and, in one instance, a barbershop - dug into the steep mountainsides just 10 miles from Quang Ngai, facing the city.

   The camps were almost complete.  Brigade officers on the scene said the NVA had apparently been working on them at least two weeks.  The water lines, made of bamboo, were already working.

   Farther back in the hills the GIs uncovered recently built facilities ranging from a bicycle factory to a hospital.   One large complex appeared to have been the division headquarters.

   We have destroyed their forward posture," said Donaldson in a concise summary of the damage done the Communist cause.

   Lt. Col. J. Godfey Crowe, commander of the 4th Bn., 21st Inf., one of the three Americal battalions involved in Operation Vernon Lake II, likened the scouring of the rough terrain to "a big Easter egg hunt."

   "We followed trails to see what was at the end," he said.  "Nothing was obvious.  Everything was well hidden, but our troops are pretty well acclimated to looking hard."

   The pile of "eggs" accumulated by the Americal troopers included some 120 tons of rice, 116 weapons, more than 22,000 rounds of small arms ammunition and about 1,500 mortar shells, rockets and recoilless rifle rounds, as well as large quantities of medical supplies and 961 NVA uniforms.

   And aside from the various caches that gave up this booty, the Americals found a total of 215 dead NVA and Viet Cong soldiers.

   Aside from these usual grim trophies of war, the battered and abandoned Communist camps disgorged such mundane items as 75 bikes seven sewing machines, a couple of typewriters, five transistor radios and 176 bolts of cloth totalling about 4,000 yards of material.  In one hastily-emptied mess hall the GIs found several cases of milk.  The North Vietnamese had apparently moved in to stay a while.  

   Much of the booty has already been put to use by local Vietnamese civilians.  Fifty-five surgical instruments found in the Red hospital have been donated to area medical centers and clinics. Parts from the bike factory were assembled into a dozen complete cycles by Vietnamese craftsmen at Duc Pho, a town 25 miles below Quang Ngai, and presented to students.

   The NVA were difficult to shove out of their mountain redoubts.  The triple canopy jungle on the steep peaks is broken only by the 6 to 8 foot high elephant grass on the summits.  Between the crests are deep ravines.  There  are almost no natural landing zones, even for agile helicopters.

   Infantrymen sometimes cut their way around a peak to find up-and-down trails to follow to the enemy lairs.  Lt. Col. Gregg G. Coverdale of Long Island, N.Y., who commands the 3rd Bn., 1st Inf., told the story of one such discovery.

   "Hill 893 overlooks our helicopter route up the valley to fire support base Cork.  Delta Company contoured the mountain with patrols and discovered a wide trail to the top.  We worked in the clouds most of the time.

   "We worked our way up the trail and spotted the NVA before they saw us.  We killed five in positions on the summit and next day followed a commo wire down the other side to the first of three battalion sized base camps We killed 15 more NVA in one of them."

   Each unnamed peak has been a challenge to the Americal infantrymen.  The mountains are honeycombed with hiding places that the VC-NVA forces built over a long time.  THe Reds have been reluctant to leave the destroyed camps and the tiny paddies terraced into the slopes.

   Stay-behind patrols and reconnaissance teams discovered small groups of enemy returning to the smoldering camps, searching the rubble and trying to rebuild.  The patrols pre-plan artillery strikes on camps and trails, then watch from a distance.  When the enemy appears he is shelled or ambushed and those who survive are chased back into the jungled mountains.

   Donaldson says the NVA and VC have been badly hurt.

   "They have lost most of their rice and supplies.  We know they are hurt because they return in twos and threes at night to work the small rice fields, even though they know we'll shell them.  Detainees complain of harsh living conditions and little to eat.  The number of Chieu Hoi's is going up."

   The brigade commander and his men believe that Operation Vernon Lake II has been a success.  "Even the men out humping it seem to enjoy and take pride in their work despite the rugged terrain," he says.  "There are no civilians out here.  If they see someone, he's sure to be an enemy.  We have shoved the 3rd NVA Div. out of an area they have used as a haven for a long time.

09Feb69- Enemy Pushed To Sea

   Compiled from UPI and S&S Reports

   SAIGON - U.S. forces have killed or captured nearly 700 Communists on the Batangan Peninsula and others in hiding must "fight or surrender," military spokesmen said Friday.

   Rear Adm. William W. Behrens Jr., commander of the 3,000-man amphibious assault, reported Thursday from his flagship off Vietnam's northern coast "...the enemy has been forced against the sea."

   Spokesmen said the 24-day cordon operation 320 miles northeast of Saigon has netted 200 Communist troops killed nd 491 Viet Cong or their sympathizers captured.  Another 32 Reds defected.

   Behrens said three Communists were killed Thursday and "nine more VC came out after almost three weeks in their deep tunnels and surrendered."  He said other guerrillas still in hiding "finally have to fight or surrender."

   U.S. losses in the sweep through the two-mile square tip of sandy peninsula have been 46 killed and 204 wounded, spokesmen said.  Most American casualties were caused by booby traps left as the Communists sought refuge in a network of tunnels-some built by the Japanese in World War II.

   Meanwhile, .......

11Feb69-Eggsactly 12,960,000

   CHU LAI, VIETNAM, (Special)

-For those who like to think in large numbers, the Americal Div. serves its soldiers 12,960,000 eggs a year.  Chicken farming can be profitable!        

18Feb69-Sgt. Perez Outwrestles 2 Reds

   Hefty Platoon Leader Foils Kidnap Attempt


  CHU LAI, Vietnam (Special) - The Viet Cong made a mistake when they tried to kidnap Platoon Sgt. Enrique Perez.

   Perez leads the 1st Platoon, A Co., 3d Bn., 1st Inf., operating off LZ Cork, in the 11th Inf. Brigade's Operation Vernon Lake II.

   His platoon was in bunkers on the southern perimeter of the fire base.  Perez a hefty six-footer weighing 200 pounds, moved from position to position checking on his men during the early hours of the night.  Just before 11 p.m., he returned to his bunker.  Shortly afterwards Viet Cong sappers attacked the LZ with satchel charges, grenades, and 60mm mortars.

   "They came from all directions," Perez said.  "And I heard explosions everywhere.  I started to leave the bunker when I heard Vietnamese voices right outside.  Someone was apparently leading the attack, because every time he said something.  "I heard a grenade or satchel charge go off."

   perez' bunker was open on one end, facing the perimeter, and he had stretched a poncho over the opening as a curtain.  When he heard the voices, he arose and stood next to it and waited for the VC to leave.

   "I figured my time had come," he said, "and was I was about to jump out and get as many of them as  I could with my M16 before they got me.  But then they left and I didn't hear any more voices."

   Just as Perez started to pull the poncho back, he heard a thump and a jarring explosion beside his bunker.  Three more times he heard grenades hit the poncho, drop then explode.  Perez's life had apparently been saved four times by the poncho which had bounced the grenades back into a depression directly in front of the bunker.

   He waited a few moments after the last explosion, leaped outside and sprayed a magazine to his front.  While he was in the process of inserting a new magazine, two VC jumped him from the side.  The VC who were wearing only black shorts and tee shirts, grabbed him by the right shoulder and left leg throwing him off balance.  As the VC attempted to drag Perez down the hill, they screamed "Didi! Didi! Didi! (Move! Move! Move! Move!), into his ears.  

  The rain-slick hill, however, foiled their attempt to keep Perez off balance and under control.  As Perez struggled, all three fell and rolled wildly down the slippery hill to within a few feet of the concertina wire forming the perimeter.

   "The first thing to come into my mind," he said "was the fact that I had been suckered outside my bunker to be kidnapped.  Apparently, the VC had scouted the area and singled me out as some kind of a leader.  Otherwise they could have easily thrown one of the grenades into my bunker instead of bouncing them against my poncho."

   About half way down the hill, Perez lost his weapon, and the struggle turned into a hand-to-hand combat match.  The husky sergeant pummeled the VC with his fists, and they staggered under his blows.  When the trio began receiving fire over their heads from AK47s, Perez broke away from his would be captors and began crawling quickly back up the hill.  The VC were either unwilling or unable to follow him.

   "When the AK47s started firing," Perez explained, "I thought more were coming to assist the two who had grabbed me, and it was getting time to clear the area.  I made every motion a human being could make getting back to my bunker."

   The next morning it was determined around 20 VC had penetrated the wire.  Sweeps into the immediate area revealed enemy positions in support of the attack, indicating it had been well planned.  AK47 brass was found in several places.

   As for Perez, he doesn't care to participate in any more wrestling matches with the enemy.

18Feb69-Revamp Americal Division

  S&S Vietnam Bureau

   SAIGON-The Americal Division whose three self-supporting brigades have been helping fight the war in South Vietnam's upper provinces, is being reorganized as a standard infantry division.

   The streamlining of support elements will reduce the division by 750 personnel slots.

   Military authorities said the reorganization was to be effective Sunday.

   Activated Sept. 25, 1967, the Americal is composed of the 11th, 196th and 198th Light Inf. Brigades.  The brigades were originally deployed to Vietnam as separate brigades and as such had their service support elements.

   With the continuing U.S. manpower buildup in Vietnam, including arrival of the 101st Airborne Div., U.S. officials say, "It has been determined that the flexibility of a standard infantry division was sufficient and that a reorganization of the Americal Div. permitting the redistribution of 750 spaces, was feasible."

   The officials maintain that the four separate brigades still operating in Vietnam - the 199th Light Inf., the 173rd Airborne, the 3rd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Div., and the 1st Brigade, 5th Inf. (mechanized) - provide enough of the old Americal-style flexibility for allied purposes at this time.

21Feb69-AF Jets Batter Outpost

   S&S Vietnam Bureau

   SAIGON-Air Force jets from two fighter wings teamed Tuesday to wipe out 45 enemy fortifications when they struck a Red outpost in South Vietnam's central coastlands about seven miles south of Quang Ngai City.

   F4 Phantoms form the 366th Tactical Fighter Wing at Da Nang knocked out 35 of the fortifications as the y covered GIs of the Americal Div. operating in the area.  Returning crews also reported touching of six secondary explosions.

   Almost before the Phantoms were out of sight, F100 Super Sabre pilots from the 31st Tactical Fighter Wing at Tuy Hoa zeroed in on the same target.  The second attack added 10 fortifications and a bunker to those already destroyed.  The jets also ignited a secondary explosion and a sustained fire.

   Meanwhile ........

24Feb69-Goodies Better Late Than Never for GI

  CHU LAI, Vietnam (Special) - Last Christmas, when everyone was receiving packages from the Red Cross and other organizations, Spec. 4 Ronald F. Blage of C Co., 26th Engr. Bn. was not so fortunate.

   The company had run out of "goody bags" when it was his turn to receive one.  Spec. 4 Gregory Homme, also of C Co. came to the rescue and gave Blage a pack of cigarettes from his own package.

   The engineers noticed the pack had a slip of paper inside the cellophane wrapper indicating the gift was from the Passaic Valley (N.J.) Elks Lodge.  Blage felt that even though it was a small gift, a note of thanks was in order.

   In early February, Blage received a reply to his note.  The note was so warmed by his response that they sent him a letter and package weighing more than 12 pounds.

   Among the assortment inside, was a 2 1/2 foot Danish sausage and a 5-pound block of cheese.

   The lodge wrote, "We believe that this is the least we can do compared to what you are doing for us back in the States."

24Feb69-Reds Pound U.S. Viet Bases

   ....Da Nang was apparently the hardest hit.  Stars and Stripes, staff correspondent Mike Kopp reported more than 50 rockets pummelled U.S. "and ARVN military bases surrounding the city beginning about 2:30 a.m.

   Among the targets was a South Vietnamese ammunition dump which was still exploding spectacularly five hours after it was hit.  

   Two rockets hit the Air Force base about 5:35, Kopp said.  One hit the flightline of a Marine air group causing a small fuel fire but no casualties and little damage,  Kopp said, the second started a bigger fire among the naval support t activity fuel pipelines but failed to ignite any storage tanks or cause any casualties.

   The deep water piers manned by U.S. Navy men at the foot of Monkey Mountain, the Marine air facility at Marble Mountain and the Air Force base on the city's outskirts were all apparently hit by rockets.  Kopp reported.

   There was no evidence that the rockets had hit the densely populated city itself.  The Communists appeared to be aiming at military installations exclusively there Kopp said.

   In Saigon and Da Nang, flareships quickly lit the early morning sky and the sound of answering artillery fire reverberated through the streets.

24Feb69-He's Got Nothing But Time on Hands

   ABOARD THE BATTLESHIP NEW JERSEY (Special) - How many clocks do you wind every day, or even twice a week?  Two, three or maybe even four?  well, aboard the battleship USS New Jersey, Quartermaster Seaman Michael Pratt winds and sets 145 clocks twice a week.

   Pratt, from Windsor Me. is a member of the battleship's Navigation department.  Every Monday and Friday mornings, he starts out on his rounds that take him from the secondary conning station on the 08 level (eight decks above the main deck) down into the deepest reaches of the ship the after diesel room of the sixth deck.

   It takes Pratt about five hours to make his rounds.  Not only does he wind each clock, but he checks the time and resets if necessary and then records the observed error in a log.

   When asked about the problems he has with the job, Pratt said, the biggest headache is with the clocks used on the battleship's bridge near the 16-inch main battery.

   "Every time the guns are fired, I generally figure on losing a clock up there," Pratt said.

   He explained that the concussion from the big guns, the largest artillery in the world today, often smashes the glass covers and jars the mechanism out of alignment.

25Feb69-Reds Shell 100 Cities, Bases.  (Continued from Page 1)

   .....Small bands of Communists started trouble in Bien Hoa, about 10 miles north of the capital; Tam Ky, on the central coast; and Da Nang, but were quickly defeated, officials said...........

27Feb69-Photo Caption  Right on the Button.

   An aerial photo shows a direct hit scored by a bomb from an F4D Phantom of the 366th Tactical Fighter Wing on an enemy position six miles west of Quang Ngai.  Bomb assessment showed they destroyed five fortifications, uncovered two bunkers and triggered two secondary explosions. (USAF).

*note this month of Pacific Stars and Stripes had obituaries.  Not determined when, but these were not published after July 1969 and later.