Jan.69 | Feb. 69 | Mar. 69 | April 69 | May 69 | June 69 | July 69 | Aug. 69 | Sept 69 | Oct. 69 | Nov. 69 | Dec. 69
Pacific Stars and Stripes
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01Jul69- Nearly 200 Reds Die in Clashes
By SPEC. 4 JIM LINN
S&S Staff Correspondent
SAIGON - Almost 200 Viet Cong and North Vietnamese soldiers were killed Saturday as fighting erupted along Vietnam's central coastlands, barely 20 miles south of Da Nang.
At least 51 Reds were killed in the afternoon when jet fighters joined Leathernecks of the 1st Marine Div. and Americal Div. GIs in routing an estimated 300 enemy moving only 19 miles south of the country's second largest city.
Americal units made the first contact and called in jets from the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing which accounted for 11 of the enemy dead. Later, Marine units spotted the fleeing Reds again, and also called for air support. This time 40 Communists were killed before they disappeared.
Meanwhile, troopers of the Americal's 196th Light Inf. Brigade spotted another enemy force about the same time 14 miles west of Tam Ky. Once again jets pounded the Communists, killing 30.
A series of vicious firefights on a flat marshy island 10 miles north of the small coastal city left 105 VC and NVA dead as troopers of the Americal's 1st Sq., 1st Armored Cav. trapped the Communists in their camouflaged bunker complex.
Fighting also broke out anew Sunday..............
01Jul69-GI Patients Get Gifts
CHU LAI, Vietnam (Special) - Americal Div. patients in the 312th Evac. Hospital got quite a treat recently, when they received more than 1,000 gifts donated by the wives of Vietnamese dignitaries.
The donations were handled by Mrs. Hoand Xvan Lam, wife of the lieutenant general who is the Vietnamese I Corps commander. Other women who assisted included Mrs. Nguyen Van Toan, wife of the 2nd ARVN Div. commander, and Mrs. Hoang Dinh Tho, wife of the Quang Tin province chief.
The gifts brought smiles of appreciation from the wounded soldiers. "It's really great of them to do this for us," said Spec. 4 Mather Clark of Summerville, S.C.
03Jul69-Five Will Get You Ten (Note: lost the left edge when making microfilm copy, so some pieces have been filled in)
LZ BALDY, Vietnam. (Special) - The Viet Cong fired five mortar rounds at an Americal Div. base on a distant mountain top and seconds later their own ??ey
positions was blasted.
The enemy probably never saw what hit them, but if there are any survivors they'll be wondering what it takes to carry out a successful mortar mission on the 196th Inf. Brigade fire support base like LZ Center.
Actually, B Battery of 3rd Bn., ? Arty., had a practice alert turn into the real thing. The artillery unit was performing one of their usual test fire missions to check the accuracy of the howitzers.
During the test, Capt. Richard Madsen of Battlecreek, Iowa, artillery commander, called for a practice alert. All gunners fumbled for their flak jackets, protective masks, steel posts and readied themselves at their positions.
No sooner had they manned their guns when enemy mortar rounds hit inside the perimeter. In a matter of seconds the first salvo of artillery rounds was on its way.
We could see the fire from tubes deep in the valley," said Madsen.
The enemy rounds landed near the mess hall but no damage or casualties were reported.
04Jul69-101st Abn. Finds 10-Ton Arms Cache
(Note this brigade of the 101st was OPCON to Americal at the time)
By SPEC. 5 ERIC JOHNS
S&S Staff Correspondent
SAIGON - Almost ten tons of Communist weapons and ammunition was found by U.S. soldiers Wednesday in a group of five abandoned huts 50 miles south of Da Nang.
Troops of the 101st Airborne Div.'s 1st Brigade uncovered the huge cache as the y sept through an area where a reconnaissance team had spotted Viet Cong the previous day.
Included in the confiscated munitions were 112 individual weapons, three 60mm mortars, 700 60mm mortar rounds, 685 82mm mortar rounds, 27 122mm rockets, 78 rocket-grenades and about 8,000 small arms rounds.
Meanwhile, South Vietnam was quiet for the most part Wednesday as fighting was scarce........
06Jul69-Bobby the Weather Girl by Doug Warren SPECIAL to S&S.
SAIGON-Cloudy, foggy, rain or shine, the meteorological manifestations in this part of Vietnam will never be the same. "Weatherwise and otherwise" Bobbie-the-weather-girl is through, fini, kaput. She packed her miniskirts and bikinis and split the Viet scene.
For the past year, the leggy, shapely blonde has cavorted in front of the Armed, Forces Television cameras to bring the viewing troopers news of temperatures both here and at home.
She reached high, with hiked mini, to announce the heat "way up there at the DMZ," and bent provocatively low to point out the rains deep in the Delta. She may have missed accurate temperature a few times during her nearly 300 appearances, but there were few complaints. Bobbie was on the tube, and she was the show.
To accent the extent of regional monsoon rains at least a dozens buckets of water have been dumped on her freshly coiffed hairdos. She has been kidnapped - playfully - on a motorcycle, performed on a trapeze, and on Halloween, she played a witch that flew around the studio.
The latter act required a parachute-type harness that was concealed beneath her dress. The ride, she admitted, was fun. "But you should have seen the bruises I got. No," she said on second thought, "you shouldn't. I had to wear a longer mini-skirt for a week."
A gag that was particularly appreciated by the field troops put Bobbie on camera in one of her most minimal bikinis. Temperatures were painted on various sections of her exposed anatomy. This act was repeated because of a frantic plea from a remote unit in the Mekong Delta. Just as the camera started to zoom in on the midriff temperature, the unit received incoming mortars. The men missed the pay-off.
She has had to speak with a mouthful of confetti - used to illustrate snow in the Midwest - and more than once received skinned shins and bruises, but she has loved every minute of it. She also accepted an edict sent down from high brass, that she must refrain from wearing items of military garb without permission. A general was displeased to see her wearing a fatigue tope, without the pants. It has always been Bobbie's wish to entertain; not to offend.
There is no television performer who evokes universal adulation, and Bobbie's weather show had its share of critics. Nothing official or even vociferous, but gauged more by an occasional groan in a room full of viewers when she came on the air. Her true popularity can be better measured by the reaction of the troops in the boonies. She has received more than 1,000 letters, all complimentary but one. She answered them too, even the negative entry. She keeps all of them in a suitcase with a carbon copy of her reply attached to each.
An indication of her sincerity was illustrated a month ago when she used her R&R time to visit men in the field. "Visiting the troops," she said, "has really been a rewarding experience. The men have so much pride in their units, in their jobs. They's so willing to show me what they do and how they live. In one place they even built a private latrine for me."
She said that she heard not a single gripe or complaint during any of her travels, and saw no sad faces. . . not even in the hospitals.
Perhaps there is enough of the "show biz" compulsion built into her character to have motivated her hard work, but money was certainly not a factor. She received no pay for her television work. Her living was earned as a secretary for USAID in the Commercial Import Program. That has been her livelihood since she arrived in Vietnam in May of 1967.
To keep up her best appearances she visited beauty parlors three times a week - at her own expense of course - and to make sure the viewers had a variety of minidresses to scan, she became a best customer of Regine her favorite Saigon dressmaker. Bobbie packed the 60 minidresses that dented her purse at the minimum of $10 each.
If glamor appears to have been her constant fare, there is Tet 1968 to take into account. With Vietnamese unable to come to work. Bobbie washed dishes, cooked and served in various mess halls around Saigon. In addition, she delivered box-lunches to troops guarding the city. On one occasion show was forced to take cover beneath a Jeep when automatic weapon fire swept toward her. "I couldn't believe the y were firing at us," she said. "Maybe because my heart was pounding too hard during the racket. But when we later surveyed the Jeep we were under, we realized how close we had come."
In Vietnam, Bobbie has visited every area of the country with the exception of two places she regrets missing: Dalat and Hue. She has been out with the 1st Air Cav., 1st Div., 199th Light Inf. Brigade, 4th Div., 25th Div.,, 9th Div, and the 7th Fleet. She has ridden on LST's, PBRs, APCs, mules, LOHs, Hueys and Cobras. The week before she departed for her family home in Hampton, Va., she hopped from one ship to another in the South China Sea.
She assumes it was her penchant for excitement that put the initial impetus behind her venture to Vietnam, but travel has been her way of life since childhood. As an Army brat, Bobbie lived in 10 states after her birth in Cambridge, Mass. She also lived in Europe and attended high school and college in Japan. Her father John D. Keith is a retired colonel; her mother was Navy nurse.
Although her passport lists her name as Barbara Elise Keith, Bobbie-the-Weather-Girl is adequate identification in Vietnam. After her final weathercast May 24, she said to her audience: "I won't say goodby, because it's a small world, and I expect to see you in the real world. I'll be praying you have a pleasant tour weatherwise, and throughout your life otherwise.
Photo Caption- Miss Keith is coached on how to tell about the weather way down in Atlanta before weather show (center, left). Photographer Doug Warren shot Bobbie and her cat, Piwackit on the veranda of her apartment in Saigon shortly before the popular weather girl took her last swim in Vietnam.
10Jul69- An Explosive Job, Every Inch of It
Story and Photos
By SPEC. 4 JIM CLARE
S&S Staff Correspondent
DA NANG, Vietnam -- The shells and shell casings stick out of the ground like small crosses in a large cemetery.
The land itself is burnt and littered with twisted metal like a junkyard. Giant mounds of earth cover not tombs nor treasure, but bombs of unknown type and number. And there are craters 100 feet across, 100 feet deep, and big enough for several swimming pools.
The Da Nang ammo dump disarranged itself with the proverbial bang. The present problem is cleaning it up.
A Vietnamese - if is name were known, he might be as famous as Mrs. Leary's cow - was burning trash on the morning of April 27. The trash set the grass on fire, and the grass fire swept a short distance to the U.S. Marine ammo supply area. The munitions started to explode. The troops pulled out. The air filled with smoke, fire and hunks of metal. Some of the bombs were buried across the road where they set off secondary explosions in the Air Force ammo dump.
The explosions continued for 15 hours. Cleaning up the mess is taking a lot longer.
The amount of munitions stored here and the totals of what was lost have not bee released. But right after the explosion the estimated cleanup time was about six months. By this week the job was about one-third done.
The Marine ammo dump covers 332 acres, the Air Force dump is about one-third that size. Munitions are separated by type and sorted in revetments, areas about 40 yards square and surrounded on three sides by high, thick walls of dirt. There were 215 revetments in the Marine dump and 60 more on the Air Force side. One guess is that about one-half of the stored munitions exploded.
Some of the ammunition is still usable. It was either untouched or buried by dirt from other explosions.
Other munitions were thrown through the air. Marine ammo landed in the Air Force dump an vice versa. Most of the ammo that didn't explode has been subjected to enough heat or stress to make it highly dangerous.
Some of this ammunition, scattered on the ground as casually as pickup sticks, has taken all the temperature or tension changes it can. One more nudge and it will explode. There's no way to tell which piece of explosive is about to go off. So it's all treated the same.
Most Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) work is classified, so the men don't talk about the tricks of their craft. But it looks like a giant police call.
A man slowly picks up an explosive and carefully carries it to a group of the same kind. If it's small, like a hand grenade, he'll cradle it in sand inside a box. These will be box. These will be trucked away, to be dumped at sea or blown up in specially designed holes. In the meantime, the men continue the cleanup. Nobody rushes, they take frequent breaks. They work only a half a day to cut down on accidents caused by fatigue.
There is a look of casualness about the work, but of course it's not like a police call. "Everything you pick up is different. You remember that it might kill you," said S. Sgt. John L. Lorentz, with the Marine EOD team. "You must treat everything like it was the first time you touched it. You never let it become routine.
"I like the work," he continued, "not everyone can do it. And I'd go crazy if I had an office job, filing the same papers day after day."
It would be safer for the men to simply blow up everything in place, but there are so many explosives that it could set off another holocaust like the one of April 27. Jobs as big as this are rare for EOD men. Typical would be a load of bombs in a plane that crashed. For the EOD men cleaning up the ammo dump it is like a small town fire company having to battle a four alarm blaze every day.
"First the EOD teams cleared the roads that ran past the revetments. Then they cleared the ground and piled the munitions along the roads for the trucks to pickup. The last phase is digging out the buried revetments," said Capt. Gary J. Williams, chief of the Air Force EOD team.
The Air Force has 24 EOD specialists from all over Vietnam and the Pacific on temporary duty in Da Nang to help the base's nine-man EOD team cleanup the ammo dump. The TDY personnel are in Da Nang for two-week stretches, so that every Air Force EOD specialist in the Pacific theater can probably expect to be sent here.
Lt. William R. Sullivan leads about 50 men working mornings and afternoons to clean up the Marine dump. Five are U.S. Army EOD specialists working one-week shifts. Twenty-six are Marine EOD specialists from Vietnam and the Pacific area.
Another 25 are ammo technicians who worked in the dump before it blew up and who have volunteered to help clean it up. The same Marines will stay on the job until it's finished.
One other important fact; Not one of the men actually cleaning up the munitions in both dumps has been injured on the job.
(Note: Americal Division helicopters often carried officers to Da Nang. On the day of the explosion I witnessed the grass fire and an explosion of the ammo dump. Later flying down around Chu Lai, I saw a very large explosion off in the distance. My first panicky thought was that we had been nuked by the Russians.
I had heard rumors that a Marine had been burning brush and the fire had gotten out of control. I believe that I had read somewhere in the Marine Corps History that the explosion took out 40% of the munitions in I Corps. After the explosion there were acres of burnt out rubble.
The Vietnamese as far away as a mile had to worry about items blown out of the ammo dump.
I had seen a prior explosion of the ammo dump in Da Nang and wondered, why the revetments were not spaced better.(first loss caused by a mortar attack).
12Jul69- Find 'Posh' Enemy Camp
S&S Vietnam Bureau
SAIGON - An abandoned, 200-man Communist base camp, nestled in heavy underbrush atop a 125-foot cliff, was discovered by Americal Div. troops Wednesday about 45 miles southeast of Da Nang.
Among numerous large structures in the camp was a 15-by-75 foot, three-level building with an underground bunker, sleeping space and an attic.
One hut was divided into cubicles with three beds in each. Dotting the area were animal pens and a chicken coop.
"It was a pretty elaborate setup, complete with running water, showers and multi-story huts," said Maj. Theodore Cershaw, operations officer of the 6th Inf.'s 1st Bn.
12Jul69-Reds Skip School as GIs Show
SAIGON (Special) - Summer school ended early this year for some students of the North Vietnamese ARmy's 2nd Div.
Americal Div. troops of the 1st inf.'s 2nd Bn. were on their sixth day of a sweep mission about 10 miles below Da Nang when they moved up a hill to investigate sniper fire which had come from the position the night before.
They discovered a triple-canopy jungle sanctuary of a dozen bunkers and comfortable accommodations for about 30 persons.
The GIs apparently just missed catching the camps's occupants. Spec. 4 Doug Sanders, the group's pointman, said he heard them leaving as he approached. He said warm cooking fires and a menagerie of kittens, chickens and a pig indicated the camp had been used recently.
"I don't think they could have been gone more than 15 minutes," he said.
Found in the camp were NVA propaganda booklets, nurses' manuals, volumes of Communist history, song books, NVA and Soviet field manuals, drawings of military equipment, various maps and a NVA history of the war.
Personal papers found indicated that one of the camp's personnel had fought against the French as far back as 1947.
Of course, training aids included numerous pictures of Ho Chi Minh. And one of Nancy Sinatra.
13Jul69-THE DIARY OF A G.I.
by sp4 horace cassels
WRITTEN FOR UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL
The Vietnam war is seen in the following dispatch through the eyes of a young American soldier actively involved in it. Spec. 4 Horace M. Cassels son of UPI Senior Editor Louis Cassels, has been in Vietnam since March, flying as crew chief and doorgunner on an assault helicopter. His journal, mailed home in irregular installments, is a vividly personal account of the experience of going to war, from port of embarkation to combat. Here are some excerpts.
FORT LEWIS, Wash., Feb 26- This is the main port of embarkation for Vietnam. I arrived at Seattle Airport about 3 p.m., and boarded a bus for the 45-mile trip to the reception station. By 11 p.m., I had checked in, drawn my sheets and found my barracks. It's an old yellow wooden building put up hastily in World War II. The floors are covered with dust and trash. The only light comes from bare 60-watt bulbs. On each side of the long room, in rows of 10, are double-decker metal bunk beds covered with stained mattresses. It's not terribly homey. I guess they don't want us to get too attached to the place.....
Fort Lewis, Feb 27 - They let us lie around in bed until 4 a.m. today then routed us out for work details. I ducked out of mine about 10 a.m. and went over to quartermaster to turn in my dress uniforms and draw jungle issue. It's a good thing green is my color. . . .
Fort Lewis, Feb. 28 - We're leaving tomorrow. To celebrate, Gerry and I went to the PX and played the pinball machines. There was a movie I'd already seen - The Beatles in "Yellow Submarine." It didn't go over very big with the GI audience here. I don't see how anyone can expect soldiers to enjoy a flower power movie just before they take off to fight in Vietnam.
En route to Vietnam, March 1 - We got up about 6 a.m. to turn in our bedding and take buses to the airport. We were supposed to take off at 11:00 a.m., but as usual, everything ran late and we didn't get away until 3 p.m. We're flying on a chartered commercial airliner - a Boeing 707 jet. The flight to Vietnam takes 18 hours. A private sitting beside me said he wished we were going by boat instead of plane. I asked him why, and he said, "I can swim but I sure can't fly."
Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam, March 2 - This is our first stop in Vietnam. We'll be here until they sort us out and decide where to send us. I'm thinking of putting in for Hawaii. Cam Ranh is a pretty plush base. They have running water and electric lights. The latrines are like outhouses and there is one shower building at the end of the compound. The weather here is pretty hot - 95 degrees this morning and they tell me it can get as high as 130.
Cam Ranh Bay, March 3 - I think there are people here who don't like me. The reason I have this impression is that someone is shooting at me! I was asleep in the barracks last night when suddenly the sirens started going. The freshly-arrived troops set some new track records getting out of the barracks last night and into the bunkers. We didn't know what in hell was coming off. Turned out to be no big thing. Charlie was dropping a few rockets around but we didn't get any direct fire.
Chu Lai, March 5 - I have left Cam Ranh and am now at Chu Lai, which is in the I Corps area, about 90 miles from the DMZ. A little too close to Charlie's hometown for comfort. Last night, they lobbed some rockets in about 300 yards from my hut. Once they started to come in, we wasted no time getting into the bunkers.....Our hut is right on the beach. However, I do not think this place will catch on as a resort area. Aside from Charlie, the South China Sea has such a strong undercurrent they have forbidden us to swim in it. If you get shot, that's one thing, but if you drown it looks bad on the general's safety record.
Chu Lai, March 9 - The sea really is beautiful. As I look out from the beach I can see mountains jutting out from the coast. The water changes color as it moves into shore, going from a thick rich blue to greenish blue and then turning greener and greener until it washes over the reddish white sand. The only thing that spoils the picture is the barbed wire.. . . . endless rolls of it, about 40 yards offshore.
Chu Lai, March 10 - We've been taking classes on survival. Our instructor is a tough Green Beret sergeant who has survived plenty of hand-to-hand combat in World War II, Korea and 'Nam. He has taught us some methods of killing that are so bizarre all I could do was laugh. It's hard to believe how human beings can behave sometimes.
Duk Pho [sic], March 12 - I've finally been assigned to my combat unit - the 174th Assault Helicopter Co. We are at a small base just outside the town of Duc Pho in the southern I Corps area. I have a room of my own in the barracks, and I've hired two South Vietnamese civilians to help me fix it up. They charge $1.50 a day each. That's not AFL-CIO scale, but they do pretty good work. We have put plywood paneling on the walls and are building a desk. You should hear me try to talk to these guys in Vietnamese. They seem pretty friendly, but they may turn out to be VC spies. It's hard to tell the good guys from the bad guys. The other day, they caught our post barber setting up reflectors to guide rockets into our area. He turned out to be an NVA (North Vietnamese) officer........
Duk Pho [sic], April 2 - Wow, I've really been busy. I am crew chief and left doorgunner on a Huey H-model chopper. It has a crew of 4 - two pilots, two gunners. We fly 8 to 10 hours every day, and after we land I have to do the maintenance on our ship, so I put in some pretty long hours.
We've been getting plenty of action. Too much, in fact. My first time out, the man next to me was killed.
We were on a charlie-charlie (command and control) flight. That's a mission where a colonel rides with us on a low flight around his area of operations, directing his troops from the air. We also hunt Viet Cong. We were flying over the beach and spotted two VC crossing a sand dune. Dropping down to about 100 feet, we opened fire and killed the two VC.
At the same time, some VC hidden in the jungle nearby opened fire on us. A bullet went under my leg and hit the sergeant next to me. The bullet entered his thigh and went up into his chest. His blood splattered all over me.
I got chewed out because I quit firing my machine gun and tried to stop him from bleeding. The colonel said I should have kept on firing and let someone else help the sergeant.
but at the time, he sort of shook me up. He had only five days to go before going home and his wife was already waiting for him in Japan......
I bought a tape recorder at the PX and have begun to accumulate some good sounds on tape - The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, Dionne Warwick. I turn it on when I get to my room at night and let it play real loud. It keeps you from going crazy.
13Jul69-Map of Vietnam showing the Allied forces and strengths in Vietnam.
13Jul69- A 3-Day Course in Stemming Hunger
BY SPEC. 5 BILL GIBBONS
S&S Staff Correspondent
CHU LAI, Vietnam - A three day course to help local farmers help themselves ended here Thursday with all participants optimistic.
The program was sponsored jointly by American and Vietnamese agricultural experts, and coordinated by the G-5 Section of the Americal Div.
During the forum, experts in rice production, irrigation, fishing and livestock, gave talks on how existing methods of operation could be improved.
Three main advantages of the agricultural aid program were stressed throughout the conference. The most important of these is the speed with which results can be shown. It is not a program devoted to projected successes over a two-or three year period. Results are expected in as little as three months.
The expected surge of improvements should show heavily in improved local economy. More products will be exported to different parts of the country while local consumption levels remain the same.
Col Hoang Dinh Tho, Quang Tin Province chief, said that facts brought out at this conference should enable his people to more "effectively handle such things as building dams to supply enough water for the dry season and establish new facilities and more advanced techniques for covering a more lengthy sea territory."
14Jul69-Defector Shows the Way
Wounded GI Grabbed From Red Captors
By SPEC. 5 BILL ELSEN
S&S Staff Correspondent
SAIGON - A seriously injured American soldier held captive by the Communists since May has been rescued by U.S. and Vietnamese troops led by a Red defector, U.S. military spokesmen reported Saturday.
Spec. 4 Larry D. Aiken, 20, of Jamaica, N.Y., was found Thursday afternoon on a heavily camouflaged North Vietnamese Army hospital complex 17 miles southwest of Tam Ky.
Aiken was listed in "very serious" condition Saturday at the 312th Evacuation Hospital in Chu Lai where he is being treated for a skull fracture and brain damage.
He has not regained consciousness since his injuries were inflicted "just prior" to his rescue, spokesmen said.
Aiken's whereabouts was learned from a Communist soldier who defected to the Vietnamese 2nd Div., spokesmen said. The rescue force was formed of government reconnaissance units and a Regional Force company, troops of the U.S. Americal Div. and helicopters of the 101st Airborne Div.
U.S. artillery blasted open a landing zone in the thick jungle with 105mm and 155mm howitzers, and the ground assault led by the defector found the hospital complex about 1,500 yards away.
Six North Vietnamese troops were killed and two captured during the operation, although there was no enemy resistance at the landing zone or the hospital. One of the Reds was captured inside the complex.
"The area included about 10 to 15 huts with a massive underground tunnel network." said 1st Lt. William E. Colvin, an Americal Div. artillery forward observer with the Vietnamese. "It was naturally camouflaged by tall, thick, bush trees and was impossible to see from the air."
Aiken was first spotted by ARVN units which had moved about 300 yards up a stream bed. He lay on the ground and was wearing an American poncho liner and fatigue shirt. He was quickly moved to a makeshift stretcher and carried into the complex.
A UH1 helicopter piloted by Maj. Gary F. Dolan of the 101st Div.'s 2nd Sq., 17th Cav., was summoned and hovered above the trees while an ARVN volunteer was lowered to the ground in a yoke attached to the chopper.
PFC. Robert Bohler of Austin, Tex., the helicopter door gunner, repelled down another rope. Together, the two men eased Aiken into the rig and up into the chopper. He was flown immediately to the 312th Hospital at Americal Div. headquarters 18 miles away.
Throughout the rescue operation, U.S. Air Force planes circled overhead in case of enemy resistance.
Aiken who entered the Army in June, 1968 and arrived in Vietnam last Nov. 9, was taken prisoner during a vicious May 13 battle for control of Nui Yon Hill three miles southwest of Tam Ky.
His unit, the 2nd Platoon of the Americal's C Co., 3rd Bn., 21st Inf. engaged an estimated NVA company on a search-and-clear mission while Aiken and five other men were providing security in rice paddy.
The NVA were eventually routed by Americal and 2nd Div. forces but Aiken, last seen moving unwounded by his platoon leader, was listed as missing in action.
14Jul69-Viet Copter Rescue Like Trapeze Act
CHU LAI, Vietnam (Special) - To six U.S. Army Rangers on a Recon patrol a trapeze act is a wild ride through the night on a rope dangling from a Huey with a hail of enemy fire tracing their every move.
The G Co. Rangers, 75th Inf., Americal Div., had spotted two Viet Cong in a woodline 20 miles west of Chu Lai. A closer check revealed about 20 of their comrades enjoying a party. The team leader Sgt. Richard Welch of St. Cloud, Minn., called in artillery.
When the rounds were on target, he radioed for a pick up from the area. A Huey from F Troop, 8th Cavalry arrived followed by a flare ship to illuminate the area, and a gunship to provide protective fire.
The landing zone that the patrol had moved onto was too small for the copter to set down, and with the enemy hot in pursuit there was no time to move to another one. So a rigging and a rope ladder were dropped to the Rangers.
A McGuire rigging is a wooden yoke attached to a choppers' underside with ropes dropping 120 feet.
Pfcs. John Haines of Massapequa, N.Y., and Perry Hughes of Dallas scrambled up the ladder into the chopper with full field gear.
Sgt. Thomas McCarthy of Massapequa Park and Spec. 4 Robert Baldwin of Freehold, N.J., grabbed the ladder and hung on.
Welch and Spec. 4 John Shenkaruk of Detroit grabbed the McGuire lines. During the lift up with the four men swinging 120 feet below, Shenkaruk was brushed against a tree, lost his balance and ended up dangling and swinging by his feet. Welch came to his aid and steadied him by grabbing him around the legs.
Shenkaruk managed to pull his radio from his back and call the pilot. "I'm hanging upside down, can you set me down anywhere?" he asked. "Impossible," said the pilot so for the next 20 minutes and 15 miles Shenkaruk rode through the dark in this position until the pilot was able to set down in a rice paddy.
The ropes had become so tangled they had to be cut away. Then the men scrambled into the rescue craft and were flown to Chu Lai.
14Jul69- Army Flunks Geography Test
WASHINGTON (UPI) - Thanks to Spec. 4 Roque I. Ortega-Colon of New York City, the Army has informed its major commands throughout the world that native Puerto Ricans are not foreigners but Americans.
Ortega-Colon, now serving at Chu Lai, South Vietnam, discovered that the Army had him listed as a foreigner and complained to his native Puerto Rico's resident commissioner in Washington, Jorge Luis Cordova Diaz.
"I was born in Puerto Rico but have lived in New York since age one," he wrote.
"Since I enlisted believing I was a citizen I'd hate to think I made a mistake and really don't have to be serving in Vietnam of the Army."
Cordova Diaz contacted the Army, which subsequently informed its worldwide headquarters that U.S. territories, including Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Canal Zone and Guam , are considered American and not foreign.
Ortega-Colon is still in Vietnam.
14Jul69-Masons to Meet
The Chu Lai by the Sea, Square and Compass Club, Free and Accepted Masons, are holding regular meetings on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of each month at 3 p.m. in the Americal Div. Court Room. Bring your dues card and visit, as many Lodges are represented and yours is invited. For further information contact: CWO Don Talbot, A Co., 723rd Maint. Bn., Chu Lai, Tel. 3270.
Chu Lai TV - Tuesday, July 15
2:05 - Bewitched
2:30 - Mike Douglas Show
4:03 - Animal Secrets
4:30 - Jackie Gleason
5:30 - Walt Disney
6:30 - Dick Van Dyke
7:00 - We'll Take Manhattan
7:30 - News
7:40 - Face Of a Nation
8:00 - John Gary Show
9:00 - Lost in Space
10:00 - Charlie Chan on Broadway
Photo Caption - Warrior With Peace Motif
A peaceful warrior is Lt. Robert Youngs of Vancouver, Wash., who wears flowers on his helmet and rifle and the peace symbol on the butt of his gun. But Youngs present profession is war- he commands a rifle company of the 11th Light Inf. Brigade near Duc Pho in Vietnam.
16Jul69-Ex-VC Died Saving GIs
S&S Vietnam Bureau
SAIGON - The widow of a former Viet Cong who gave his life to save those of American soldiers accepted a posthumous Silver Star for her husband Sunday at the Americal Div.'s Landing Zone Baldy, 25 miles northwest of Tam Ky.
Lt. Col. Clarence Campbell, commander of the 1st Inf.'s 2nd Bn., presented America's third highest award for valor to Mrs Nguyen Thi Ut.
Her husband, Nguyen Hoi; was working as a "Kit Carson" scout with the division last April when the point man in his platoon snapped the trip wire on a booby-trapped grenade. Hoi threw himself on top of the grenade.
"His action probably saved at least a couple of lives and prevented several casualties within the platoon," said 1st Lt. Michael Holroyd, platoon leader.
16Jul69-Rescued GI Still in Coma
SAIGON (S&S)- A U.S. soldier, snatched away from Communist troops last Thursday after being held prisoner for two months, is in serious condition four days after his rescue military spokesmen said Monday.
"He is seriously ill and has not regained consciousness," an official said.
Spec. 4 Larry D. Aiken, of Jamaica, N.Y., was found in a North Vietnamese Army Hospital 17 miles southwest of Tam Ky by an American-Vietnamese search party.
16Jul69- U.S. Helo Downed, 3 Killed
S&S Vietnam Bureau
SAIGON - Three Americans died Sunday when Communist gunners shot down an Army OH6 light observation helicopter 20 miles southeast of Da Nang.
The chopper raised to 1,229 the total of helicopters downed in South Vietnam.
18Jul69-Army Paying Big Rewards To Keep Arms From Enemy
By SPEC. 5 BILL GIBBONS
S&S Staff Correspondent
CHU LAI, Vietnam - The U.S. Army is paying large sums of money to buy back weapons - many of them American - made - that have fallen into neutral civilian and Communist hands, according to officers in charge of such programs in the central highlands of Vietnam.
"We are better off paying the price to them than letting the Viet Cong or the NVA give it back to us the hard way," said Lt. Col. David T. Thoreson, the 4th Inf. Div. paid out more than $1,800 in May for loose weapons under the voluntary informant program (VIP), Thoreson said. Meanwhile, the Americal Div. at Chu Lai pays out about $6,700 for weapons each month according to their civic action officer, Lt. Col. Albert J. Dombrowsky Jr. American weapons account for a sizable portion of these payments.
Scattered reports claimed some of the weapons had been issued to Vietnamese Regional and Popular Forces (RF and PF). Then the RF/PFs reportedly turned over the weapons to their families and friends, who in turn, sold the weapons back to the U.S. Army.
"Some grenades have come back to us that were apparently issued to RF/PFs. These grenades are identifiable because of distinctive wear marks on parts of the outer casing," Dombrowsky said: "But they could have been dropped during a firefight or mislaid while a patrol was taking a break."
Thoreson also agreed the RF/PFs could be turning in weapons and munitions for money, but not on a large scale.
"There are people getting rich off the voluntary informant program," Thoreson admitted, but most of them, he thought, were "treasure hunters" who searched areas with a heavy volume of American artillery fire. When they found dud rounds they reported the location to American forces and claimed there reward.
One enterprising North Vietnamese soldier, however, built himself a nice nest egg when he surrendered to 4th Div. unit several months ago. He led the Americans back to a large cache of arms and got a 2 million piaster reward (1.5 million of which he reportedly donated to an ARVN widows and orphans fund). This cache was unusual since it consisted almost completely of arms made in Communist countries.
The highest rewards ar paid for arms that only Americans and the allies use. A 105mm artillery round, for example, will bring 20,000 piasters, compared to 500 piasters for a mine, booby trap, or grenade. A rifle or machine gun bullet is worth only five piasters. But every item brought in is paid for. As Thoreson said, it's easier than taking it back the hard way.
19JUl69-Viets Kill 50 Reds; GIs Repulse Attack
By SPEC. 5 ERIC JOHNS
S&S Staff Correspondent
SAIGON - Vietnamese troops killed 50 Communist soldiers in clashes about 50 miles southwest of Saigon Wednesday and GIs repulsed several Viet Cong sappers who tried to break into their brigade base camp on Vietnam's central coastline, military officials said. ............
Early Wednesday morning, Americal Div. soldiers killed six Reds as they repulsed a light attack on their 11th Light Inf. Brigade headquarters near Duc Pho, about 100 miles south of Da Nang.
Radar picked up movement around the base, called Landing Zone Bronco, about 2 a.m., and gun crews lashed out with more than 900 rounds of mortar fire. The sappers who apparently infiltrated the area as farmers, got close enough to toss grenades at perimeter bunkers, but only two GIs were lightly wounded in the 30-minute probe.
Spokesmen said 10 of the 15 rocket and mortar attacks reported caused casualties or damage. Two shellings were aimed at U.S. troops, but neither caused casualties.
19Jul69- NVA Beat, Hurt GI
By SPEC 4. RON MINNIX
S&S Staff Correspondent
SAIGON - A wounded American prisoner held captive by the North Vietnamese may have been clubbed to near death rather than allowed to fall into the hands of rescuers, according to reliable sources.
Spec. 4 Larry D. Aiken rescued from Communist troops July 10 after being held prisoner for two months, remained in very serious condition Thursday.
He had not regained consciousness at the 91st Evac. Hospital in Chu Lai seven days after his rescue.
Stars and Stripes correspondent Bill Elsen reported Thursday from Chu Lai that knowledgeable sources now believe Aiken was struck in the head with a rifle butt when - because of a previously broken leg - he was unable to travel. He was apparently clubbed repeatedly, shattering the skull and sending bone fragments into the brain.
Communist guards watching Aiken realized that Allied forces would soon discover their hideout and before fleeing hit Aiken over the head to kill him, rather than tipping off their location with a gunshot, sources speculated.
S&S Vietnam Bureau
CHU LAI - Three persons called the Americal Div.'s information office here Thursday. None of them had planned to do it Wednesday.
Their response came after Pacific Stars and Stripes of Thursday ran a story dealing with the vagaries of a new - and apparently still bug-ful direct dialing telephone system.
One of the callers, a major intimately connected with the new system, called to prove the call over a 350-odd mile connection could be made in one attempt. It was - from telephone system offices at Tan Son Nhut air base near Saigon.
Two other callers - both whimsical readers - called merely to see if it could be done. It was. No failures to get through were reported.
24Jul69-Deadly Game With Reds
How 7 GIs Saved Their Hides
By SPEC. 4 BOB HODIERNE
S&S Staff Correspondent (Note 1st Brigade 101st was OPCON to Americal)
SAIGON - Stomach wrenching games of hide-and-seek were played by seven 101st Airborne Div. troopers in the caves and jungles of Vietnam recently, according to division spokesmen.
A platoon of the division's 506th Inf. was hit with rifle and mortar fire while conducting a reconnaissance mission 50 miles south of Da Nang. Pfc. Julius Bray was knocked unconscious by a near-miss mortar round.
"When I woke up it was dark and I heard VC voices all around me," Bray said. "They came right up to where I was lying and pointed a flashlight in my face. The Lord was with me and somehow they didn't see me through the thicket."
During the night Bray said he counted 27 enemy in black pajamas and 15 in North Vietnamese army uniforms.
Three other men from the same platoon, SP4 Ted L. Brenner, Pfc. Duane R. Scott, and Pfc. John D. Haney, were also cut off from the platoon during the fight.
From 3:00 p.m. until daylight the next day the three were surrounded by Communists, some within 15 meters of their positions.
"We were well concealed and could see the VC all around us," said Haney.
"We heard them talking and digging all night," Scott recalled. "They were also checking the bodies of our dead."
Daylight came and, with no VC in the area, the three signaled a light observation chopper for help. The chopper landed and, with Brenner riding the skid, lifted the men to safety. Bray, who saw the other three rescued, signaled the same chopper later and was also flown to safety.
A three-man reconnaissance patrol from the 101st's 2/17 Cav. was hit by enemy fire while checking out caves on a mountain slope. Spec. 4 Edward O'Connor was trapped in one cave and Lt. Will Hanson and Sgt. Jess Gilley were trapped in another.
During the night the men tossed occasional grenades to hold the enemy at bay. O'Connor was pelted by rocks thrown all night long in an effort to dislodge him. With daylight Hanson called in helicopter gunships.
The men discovered the caves had interconnecting passages and O'Connor crawled through one of them to rejoin his teammates.
It was noon before an infantry unit came to their rescue and during the 17 hours they were trapped O'Connor reports that he shot one NVA officer who came to check out his cave.
24Jul69-In One Way, War is a Continuous Snap
By 1ST LT. JOSEF HERBERT
LZ BAYONET, Vietnam (Special) - The wind smashes against your face as the Huey helicopter zooms along at low altitude nudging the 80 knot mark on the speedometer.
Suddenly the doorgunner taps you on the shoulder:
"How about taking a quick picture? he shouts over the wind and rotors, handing you his 35mm camera. "I want to send it home."
"OK," you yell, "give me a smile" and you snap the shutter.
As the copter moves out across the coastal beaches of the South China Sea the doorgunner has both his weapon and camera within easy reach.
And he is not the only avid shutterbug in the Americal Div.
It might be a $12 Instamatic or a $200-plus-camera.
They are all evidence wherever you go. In the field many 198th Brigade soldiers "hump the hills" with a familiar camera bulge in their rucksacks. Truck drivers shoot from the road, pilots form planes, cavalrymen from their tracks and doorgunners while leaning over their M60 machineguns.
"There's another shooting contest going on here," said Pfc. Arthur Noel Jr. of Lynchburg, Va., a former combat photographer and now operator of a Special Services photo lab at this base camp of the 198th Inf. Brigade. "Everyone wants to take pictures."
"The picture possibilities in Vietnam are endless, "Noel continued. "The many varieties of terrain - you can have mountains, rivers, hamlets, rice fields - are all settings for endless interesting photographs."
Not only the terrain, but one's friends and fellow soldiers are often the most remembered photographs.
"I take pictures so I can remember Vietnam and the people I met here," explained Capt. Roger W. Browne of Philadelphia, brigade surgeon for the 198th. "I sent the pictures home and it lets my wife know better what I am doing and what it's like over here."
The brigade doctor has taken more than 700 color slides and has another month to go in South Vietnam.
Whether the photographer is the greenest amateur or a professional, Vietnam is a haven for his camera work. In part the relatively low cost of quality cameras here along with the inexpensive film in local PXs has added to the "shutterbug fever."
"When we get film in- especially color print film - it's never in the store more than a week," said Spec. 4 Ross Carlson of Chicago, manager of the branch PX at LZ Bayonet.
Carlson explained that cameras go just as fast. Recently a shipment of 30 Instamatic cameras were sold within a week and 10 cameras costing more than $100 each went in less than three days.
There is a story passed around the 198th Brigade that a hardened infantryman for the 1st Bn., 52nd Inf. once was seen in the midst of a heavy firefight shooting both his rifle and camera at the same time.
This is probably the extreme. But the story of combat in Vietnam is being recorded on film as well as in diaries.
25Jul69-Canine Flushes VC Into CO's Doghouse
LZ BAYONET, Vietnam (Special) - An Americal Div. scout dog apparently put a group of Viet Cong in their superior's doghouse recently and helped find a booty of 23 mortar rounds in the process.
It began when "Dix", a 90 pound German Shepherd, sensed something strange while he and his handler, Pfc. Roger M. Collins, of the 57th Inf. Platoon (Scoutdog) were on a night ambush patrol with the 1st Bn., 6th Inf. near LZ Bayonet.
"We were heading toward our first checkpoint when the dog started to lead us off to the side," recalled patrol leader Spec. 4 Rudy Lopez.
The dog led them to the edge of a sand berm where they saw nineteen 82mm mortar rounds scattered on the ground around two freshly dug holes. An additional four mortar rounds and an assortment of fuses were later found in the holes.
"I guess we interrupted someone from digging up these rounds and using them," said Collins.
But the communists who were interrupted continued to lurk nearby and it was Dix again who sensed something awry.
"This time he told us there were people around," the canine's handler said. They took cover at the base of the sand berm.
"We were in a bad position to move forward since "Charlie" was on high ground and we hardly had any cover, "Lopez recalled.
But the men - many of whom work as cooks, carpenters and clerks at the battalion basecamp - held their position and the Viet Cong moved from the area.
"The dog sure was a big help," Lopez said. "We probably wouldn't have found the mortars without him."
Headquarters Co. commander, Capt. Tom Cameron, agreed:
"We've been using the dogs for about a week and it's working out very well. I've seen the dogs work before and I'm a firm believer in them."
26Jul69-Americal Troops Spot Air Vent
GI Grenades Blast Reds in Tunnel
By SPEC. 5 ERIC JOHNS
S&S Staff Correspondent
SAIGON - U.S. infantrymen uncovered four Communist tunnel networks Wednesday in a day-long cordon of a village near the coast about 100 miles southeast of Da Nang, military spokesmen said.
Americal Div. GIs found the bodies of 12 enemy soldiers killed by the grenades the Americans used to destroy the underground systems. The GIs shot down two more trying to escape. No Americans were hurt.
An exposed air vent gave away the first of the tunnel complexes, dug out two miles southeast of Duc Pho. After dropping hand grenades into the hole, the 11th Light Inf. Brigade troops found the bodies of two Viet Cong and pulled out a third wounded. Red.
The entrance to the hideout was later discovered below the waterline of a nearby lake. The GIs handled two more complexes found in the same way and unearthed 10 more dead VC.
By the time they arrived at the fourth tunnel, the enemy had figured out what was going on, and the Americal Div. soldiers killed two North Vietnamese regulars who tried to outrun them.
Fighting in the northern half of the Republic of Vietnam increased noticeably Wednesday, all of it coming in brief, but sharp, contacts which have also marked recent action closer to Saigon.
Other Americal Div. troops killed 36 more Communist soldiers in engagements along the central coastlands. Nineteen Reds died in operations around Tam Ky, 35 miles southeast of Da Nang.
Two Vietnamese Regional Force companies killed 11 enemy Wednesday evening six miles northwest of Tam Ky. The RF ambushers were untouched.
28Jul69-Rescued Prisoner of NVA Dies While Still in Coma
By SPEC. 5 BILL ELSEN
S&S Staff Correspondent
CHU LAI - Spec. 4 Larry D. Aiken, rescued July 10 after two months as a North Vietnamese Army prisoner, died here Friday afternoon at the 91st Evac. Hospital without regaining consciousness since his rescue.
Reported missing in action by his unit after a firefight May 13, Aiken was plucked out of a NVA hospital complex 17 miles southwest of Tam Ky and brought here with an open skull fracture and brain damage.
Informed sources reported that Aiken had been hit on the head with a rifle butt "just prior" to his rescue by a team of Vietnamese and American soldiers.
Aiken, unable to travel quickly because of two broken bones in one leg, had been apparently clubbed and left for dead when his captors fled the rescue forces.
American authorities were never able to determine exactly what happened to Aiken.
Aiken, who was 20, entered the Army in June 1968, and arrived in Vietnam Nov. 9 to join the America Div. as an infantryman. His home was in Jamaica, N.Y.
The young enemy defector who led the rescue team to find Aiken was honored Saturday morning at Quang Tin Province headquarters in Tam Ky.
To Ngoc Chau, 17, a former Viet Cong medic, was awarded 120,000 piasters ($1,016) by Col. Hoang Dinh Tho, the province chief who organized the rescue mission.
Chau, who has begun a three-month indoctrination course at the Chieu Hoi center at Tam Ky, said he will use the money "to begin a new life."
28Jul69-Kidnaped Boy Rescued From VC After Long Hunt
By SPEC. 4 JIM BRUCE
LZ BALDY, Vietnam (Special) - It was a tearful homecoming for Kim Lunh Khanh.
The boy, kidnaped when Viet Cong terrorists assassinated his father, has been rescued after weeks of enemy captivity by Vietnamese Regional Forces and an Americal Div. infantry unit.
At tiny Xuan Phu hamlet, 25 miles northwest of Tam Ky, everyone had been enjoying the festivities of the annual Buddhist birthday celebration when three men walked unnoticed into the midst of the revelry.
They went quickly to the home of hamlet chief Luu Khanh and in brutal contrast to the merry-making outside, shot the chief in the head with a pistol and spirited away his 10-year-old son, Kim.
Kim's uncle, Theu Van Khanh, a Regional Force soldier, swore vengeance and began checking rumors of the kidnaped boy's whereabouts. After weeks of following up fragmented bits of information and blind leads, his efforts were rewarded.
On a joint search and clear operation 20 miles northwest of Tam Ky, the RFs and "Legionnaires" from the 2nd Bn., 1st Inf., of the 196th Inf. Brigade, were sweeping through the sand flats just inland from the South China Sea.
As evening approached, the "Legionnaires" suddenly began receiving fire from a range of dunes to their front. Dropping to cover behind the rice paddy dikes, company commander 1st Lt. Dwight D. Sypolt of Reedsville, W. Va., called in artillery and then airstrikes on the enemy.
Checking out the site, Bravo found a complex of nine bunkers - and six Vietnamese women and 24 children huddled in a hut near the bunkers.
While the American went to work destroying the bunkers, Khanh joined the party to question the women. One of the children looked familiar.
It was the kidnaped Kim, who had been held in the area by VC and NVA since shortly after his abduction.
"It was quite a reunion," said a Bravo rifleman, Pfc. Michael Fox of Brooklyn, who witnessed the scene. "He (Khanh) swatted the kid across the rear and sent him off by himself like you would a kid back home who'd been hanging around someplace where he shouldn't be. But he was real happy to see the kid again."
29Jul69-U.S. Team Bears Down on Deadly Plague
By CPL. DICK FRANKOVICH DA NANG, Vietnam (Special)
-One of the deadliest diseases in Vietnam is losing the battle to U.S. Marine and Navy corpsmen.
Bubonic plague has taken millions of lives in Asia. But modern medicine is bringing the plague under control.
Frontline fighters of the disease include three Navy medical personnel from Marine Force Logistic Command (FLC): Hospital Corpsmen 1.C. Charles Massengill of ARkansas City, Cheyne., Don Coons of Springville, N.Y., and Hospital Corpsman 2.C. Tony Hill of South Orleans, Mass.
Massengill accompanies two Vietnamese nurses to Phuoc Xuan and Tiep Cu Hamlets., north of Da Nang, on daily medical civic action patrols (Med Caps) held by the civil affairs section of FLC's Supply Bn.
Massengill and his Vietnamese counterparts treat simple cuts and bruises, dispense medicine, and assure the seriously ill of further medical treatment.
"We heard that some people died of plague." said Massengill. We had already referred a couple of cases to the Hoa Khanh Children's Hospital, so I decided to inoculate everyone in both hamlets. They are populated mostly by refugees."
Coons and Hill, both serving with Headquarters and Service Bn., volunteered to work on the inoculation team. Massengill rounded up the vaccine.
The Marine civil affairs team gathered the villagers together and 24-year old Massengill filled syringes.
The group went into action one morning. That afternoon the hamlet chief and a male nurse, helped give shots to members of the second hamlet. By evening, more than 3,000 people in Phuoc Xuan and Tiep Cu had been inoculated against plague.
Late in that evening the team inoculated its final villager. A few days later, a Navy Preventive Medicine Unit was called into the area. If more shots on a wider scale were needed, their teams would administer them. Tests would be made, and dusting units would spread insecticide to kill the plague-carrying fleas.
Although the "war" against plague has not been won, Marines and Navy corpsmen of FLC have won some decisive battles.
Chu Lai TV
Wednesday, July 30, 1969
2:05 - Harlow
4:00 - The Football School
5:00 - Star Trek
6:00 - To Be Announced
6:30 - Andy Griffith
7:00 - To Be Announced
7:30 - News
7:40 - Swinging Country
8:00 - Big Valley
9:00 - Ironside
10:00 - Get Smart
10:30 - Dean Martin
29Jul69-1 Shot, But They Shoot Works
TV Crew Wanted Action and Got Plenty
DUC PHO, Vietnam (Special) - Newsmen often risk death to get their stories. In Vietnam some have been killed. And when an Army information officer escorts a television crew to battle, he runs the same risk as 1st Lt. Stephen H. Cobb of Honolulu will tell you.
Cobb was the escort officer for a two-man NBC team. The enemy was being pushed back toward the hills after a futile attack in the rolling hedgerow country west of Duc Pho. The Americal Div's D Co., 4th Bn., 21st Inf., which had repulsed the attack in vicious fighting was now chasing the North Vietnamese out of the area. Combat had become sporadic as the Communists fled the Americans.
During the night tension ran high as an enemy force much larger than D Co. passed within 50 yards of the silent soldiers. There were too many to take on but the reporters were getting a story.
Capt. Frank Czap of Bay City, Mich., Delta's commander, put Cobb and the camera team in the lead squad as the company moved out toward the wooded hills in the morning.
As the trail narrowed into the heavily wooded area, Cobb cautioned the camera man to be alert. This was ambush country. Cobb's mission was to get the newsmen in and out of combat.
The tangled jungle closed in on the company, dropping visibility to 25 yards up the footwide trail. The point man was cautiously cresting the hill above
when a sniper opened up. Czap quickly maneuvered the lead platoon and the soldiers opened up with their grenades, small arms, and machine guns.
"I was about six back from the point, we were passing up grenades to the front when we got hit by AK47's and machine guns. I heard a couple of RPG's (Soviet-made rocket propelled grenades) whistling over me," recalled Cobb.
And then the camera man got hit.
Cobb sent the sound man back down the trail, and carried the camera man out. Pushing off the trail, he set up a casualty collecting point. But mortars zeroed in on him and the six wounded soldiers who had joined them.
"When they bracketed me, I knew we had to move on," said Cobb.
Remembering a clearing where the trail doglegged down the hill, Cobb moved the men out. There they met the 2nd platoon as it moved up to join Cap.
Together, they quickly enlarged the clearing into a landing zone for a medical evacuation (Medevac) helicopter. Then Cob went back up the hill to retrieve the TV camera. Talking briefly to Czap, Cobb took Pfc. Donald G. Naughton back as his radio operator. Since Delta's only other officer was too far to the rear, Cobb told the captain he'd take care of the middle platoons.
Naughton called in the Medevac.
As the bright Red Cross descended from the clear sky the men became more alert. The unarmed choppers are a favorite target of the enemy. Today was no exception.
Heavy machine gun fire greeted the flying medics, forcing them away. It also revealed that the NVA had moved in on the clearing from three sides.
Cobb radioed for gunship support. Armed helicopters raced in with their weapons spurting flame at the enemy. As they worked over the brush, Cobb was able to reposition the infantry's machine guns. Fire superiority allowed him to recall the Medevac chopper.
There were nine wounded now, and the eight most seriously injured, including the NBC man, were taken out.
Then 20 millimeter slugs cut off the LZ from the rest of the company. Cobb called for an air strike. One enemy machine gunner was now only 30 meters away, firing at anything flying or in the clearing.
The first jet thundered in to deposit its bombs 100 meters away. Cobb knew they had to be closer when the enemy opened up on the receding jet. So he called for them to bring it in.
"I don't know how close it was, but the fireball was over our heads, and hot as hell. The enemy machine guns shut up," said the lieutenant.
Three hours later, the platoons to the rear were able to work forward, linking up with Cobb, who turned his impromptu command over and prepared to take the second NBC man out.
This was not simple. The enemy was still around.
"I popped smoke (threw a smoke grenade) to mark our position for the utility chopper, and an AK47 opened up from about 40 meters away, "Cobb said.
He had been left with nine passengers, and the correspondent. Telling the slightly wounded soldiers to lay down a base of fire, the slim wiry lieutenant stood up to direct the chopper into the small clearing while enemy bullets cracked around him. H continued to stand until the helo sat down and his men could scramble aboard.
The day was Friday, the 13th.
Combat is not unknown to information men, but this was one of the most difficult ways to get publicity. And NBC didn't say what they thought of the story.
31Jul69-Undercover Stuff Found
CHU LAI, Vietnam (UPI) - Units of the Americal Div. reported finding one of the more interesting North Vietnamese supply caches of the war during a sweep along the upper coast, spokesmen said.
Americal troopers uncovered 30 packs containing 20 brassieres (size 20-26, A-cup), 29 pairs of women's panties, 116 pairs of black pajamas and 123 assorted shirts.
31Jul69-Photo Caption - Pulling Together in Rescue Drill
A Huey helicopter pulls all the strings as America Div. troops learn how to use a rope and pulley device that might be used to lift a recon team from dangerous areas. The practice session took place over the South China Sea near Chu Lai. The troops were from G Co., 75th Inf. *USA Photo by Spec. 5 Thomas Maus)