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Aug. 69
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Pacific Stars  and Stripes

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

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01Aug69- VC Raid Bus, Kill S. Viets

   S&S Vietnam Bureau

   SAIGON - Viet Cong terrorists killed three persons and wounded six others when they attacked a bus in QUang Nam Province Monday, National Police reported.

   The VC destroyed the bus and took two other passengers with them  It was one of seven such incidents reported to National Police within 24 hours.

   None of the terrorist incidents occurred in the Saigon area but police revealed a total of nine civilians were killed and twelve wounded while five others were kidnaped throughout the country.

   Early Wednesday morning, 38 rounds of 82mm mortar fire hit Kien Van District town, 64 miles west-southwest of Saigon.  Nam Province was also shelled during the night.  No casualties were reported in either incident.

03Aug69-VC Serenade 'Roundly' Applauded

  LZ STINSON, Vietnam (Special) - A Viet Cong psychological operations team picked the wrong audience to serenade recently and was applauded by a barrage of artillery rounds.

   After squelching an attempted VC ambush, Delta Co. of the 198th Inf. Brigade's 1st Bn., 52nd Inf., settled into their night camp near here.

   "It was around 9 o'clock when we heard a voice call out to us on a loud speaker," said Pfc. Charles H. Nichols of Houston.  "He was about 400 meters outside our position but we didn't fire.  I guess everyone was curious about what he would say - we figured it was a battle assessment of our earlier fight."

   In broken English the Viet Cong began his message to the Americal Div. infantrymen: "GIs and officers show us a light and surrender."

   Then - with what soon became a fleeing melody to the blasts of artillery rounds fired from LZ Stinson - the enemy began its rendition of "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?"

   The stopped singing each time the rounds came in," said Nichols.

04Aug69-Helo, Plane Hit; 6 Die

   SAIGON (AP) - Six Americans were killed Saturday when a U.S. Army helicopter and an Air Force observation plan collided in flight 23 miles west of Chu Lai on Vietnam's central coast, military sources reported.

   They said the victims included the pilot of the Air Force plane a propeller driven craft, and five crewmen of the helicopter, a big twin-rotor CH47.

   Both aircraft were destroyed as they fell in jungled hills west of Chu Lai, headquarters base of the Army's Americal Div.

   The spokesmen said the Air Force plane was on a forward air control, or artillery spotter, mission.

05Aug69- Copters Carry Their Load in War

   Helicopters carrying American troops to an operation near Chu Lai swarm like bees across the sparsely settled sand flats of the South China Sea coastline.  The helicopter, once viewed with skepticism by some military planners, has become as much a part of the Vietnam war as the rifleman.   (UPI) (Photo shows 12 helicopters in flight heading to an area where artillery prep is being delivered.  There are trees in the river bed area where the rounds are impacting, in a sandy area.  Most likely near the coastal area.)

08Aug69-5 Officials Killed in VC Attacks

    S&S Vietnam Bureau.

   SAIGON - Two hamlet chiefs, a village chief and two village officials were among 11 person killed in terrorist attacks, according to national police reports released Wednesday.  Nineteen persons were wounded and seven others kidnaped.

   In Quang Nam province Tuesday, two terrorists infiltrated a hamlet guarded by Civil Self-Defense members and killed a hamlet chief, a village chief and a small child.  Another child was wounded.

   Later that day, ................

09Aug69-Enemy Buildup Feared

    Laos Border - Reds' Springboard


      The Los Angeles Times

   DA NANG, Vietnam - While conditions for demilitarizing the Demilitarized Zone have not seemed as favorable in the last five years as they do today, the Laos border remains highly inflammable in the opinion of American military men.

   The North Vietnamese are judged capable of launching fresh offensives from the mountains across the narrow neck of northernmost Republic of Vietnam against Hue. Da Nang and other populated localities along the coast of five provinces that constitute I Corps.

   U.S. Marines and airborne troops have uncovered the war's largest caches of supplies in the last seven months right up against the border of Laos, depriving the North Vietnamese of some of the potential.

   But in at least one respect the North Vietnamese are better off than they were at this time last year.  Since the halt in American bombing of the southern panhandle of North Vietnam Nov. 1, the North Vietnamese have again been able to transport supplies unhindered to the DMZ.  Bridges have been rebuilt.

   From just north of the DMZ the North Vietnamese have been moving supplies over two newly improved roads running southwest to Laos and then south around the western end of the DMZ.

   One of these roads just cuts through the northwest corner of the six-mile-deep DMZ but by and large the North Vietnamese have adhered to the understanding with President Johnson governing the bombing halt: that the DMZ not be used for continued massive shipment of men and supplies.

   With the help of radar, sensor devices, reconnaissance and some defoliation, the American military command has been able to keep accurate track of what moves through or along the DMZ.

   From the western extremity of the DMZ, Hanoi's lifeline to its troops in I Corps runs south through Laos, re-entering South Vietnam across the Tchepone River in Quang Tri Province south of Route 9.

   Everything south of Route 9 falls under the area of operations of North Vietnam's B-3 front, which is headquartered far to the south and is separate from the command along the DMZ.

   The lifeline then stretches south just inside South Vietnam through the A Shau Valley in Thua Thien Province and into Quang Nam Province, from which branches run further into Quang Tin and Quang Ngai provinces.

   This trail benefits from a geographic peculiarity of the border between Laos and the Republic of Vietnam.

   When French surveyors mapped the border between Laos and Vietnam in the 19th Century they used the distinction between the Lao houses built on stilts and the Vietnamese houses with mud floors for deciding where the boundary between the two countries should lie.

   Marine and Airborne operations, including a spectacular helicopter landing by five battalions of the 101st Airborne Div. along the western flank of the A Shau Valley in May, have disrupted Hanoi's lifeline.

   North of the A Shau the North Vietnamese, surprised by the sudden appearance of American troops in the middle of the rainy season, abandoned several Soviet-made 122mm tractor-towed artillery pieces.  To the south the Americans found a dozen Soviet Molotova trucks and enough communications equipment to outfit 10 regular battalions.

   They were the biggest caches of the war but American military men suspect that these caches represented only the forward supplies of a stockpile inside Laos that may be the result of a logistical effort spanning many years.

   In other words, North Vietnam may be hiding uncalculated tonnages of arms, ammunition, medicine, food and other supplies just inside Laos.

   For this reason, military men here are skeptical about the marked drop-off in truck traffic along the Ho Chi Minh Trail in recent weeks.  Traffic has ben averaging barely a dozen trucks a day, the lowest volume in a year and a half, compared with more than a 100 a day nine weeks ago.

   From their areas inside Laos, the North Vietnamese would be in a position to cross the A Shau Valley and drive all the way to Hue following the same route they used during the 1968 Tet Offensive when North Vietnamese troops held the Citadel for one month.

10Aug69-Reds Bag 2 Little Choppers  (1st Bde 101st was OPCON to Americal)

   Shootout Saves 3 Wounded Fliers

   S&S Vietnam Bureau

   SAIGON - Two little U.S. helicopters fell to Communist groundfire Thursday, and three wounded crewmen watched while still more choppers brought in GIs to rescue them from approaching Reds, military spokesmen said.

   Air cavalrymen of the 101st Airborne Div. vaulted out of UH1 "Slicks" and began a shootout with a band of Communists near the crash scene, about nine miles south of Tam Ky along the central coast of Vietnam.

   The Americans killed at least one enemy soldier, while one GI died and 11 more were wounded in the sharp, bloody exchange.  Spokesmen said the three wounded fliers from the two small observation helicopters were rescued.

   The incident took place on Operation Lamar Plain, a large-scale Allied sweep through an area long dominated by Communist forces.  It brought to 1,255 the number of choppers lost to gunfire in the south in more than eight years of war.  The coppers were the seventh and eight shot down this week.

   Elsewhere, other chopper-borne GIs came under heavy groundfire deep in the central highlands and started a day-long air show that left 31 Communists dead.  At least 122 Reds have been killed in the area by airplanes since Monday.


11Aug69-Red Jungle Haven Laid to Rest

       Photo Captions-






      U.S. Army Photos

   LANDING ZONE BRONCO, Vietnam (Special) - It was a veritable treasure chest for American troops.  Moving through the Vietnam jungle west of Chu Lai, the Americal Div. soldiers were looking for what was believed to be a small enemy camp.  Instead the troopers came upon a massive Communist base camp.

   The horseshoe-shaped camp hurriedly deserted by the Red occupants, was found to be an elaborate and well-equipped staging area for the enemy.  It contained many buildings, including two 75-foot-long barracks-type structures.  Other bunkers, caves, storage areas and stock pens dotted the hill-side.

   Military men say the camp was built to accommodate up to 200 Communist troops and served as a sort of rest area for the enemy.

   American troops blasted out a jungle landing zone near the camp.  Later Army demolition experts will move in to reduce the camp to rubble.

   Americal Div. leaders believe there are several similar camps in the area, shrouded by the thick jungle.  And - a warning to Charley-the Americal Div. is looking for them.

11Aug69-VC Turn Healing Into .....


     S&S Staff Correspondent

   CAM RANH BAY, Vietnam- The cluster of buildings that is the 6th Convalescent Center here sits atop a sun-splashed slope on the Cam Ranh Bay peninsula overlooking the South China Sea.

   At the foot of the slope transparently clear blue waves wash against a sugarwhite beach that stretches away until it becomes lost in the blue-green haze of the jungled mountains to the north.

It is a place where soldiers come to forget the war, to relax, and to recuperate.  Clad in light blue pajamas, they congregate on the beach in small groups.

   They swim in the warm water, or stroll in the damp sand, or they spread blankets and bask in the heat of the sun in a sky that is almost always cloudless blue.  It is a peaceful place.

   Or, rather, it was.

   An hour after midnight Thursday morning, that peace was abruptly and savagely shattered. A barrage of 107mm rockets streaked upward on the mainland, arced across the bay, and slammed into the air base.  At the same time, a small group of Communist sappers cut through the perimeter fence at the north end of the convalescent center and raced through the compound, flinging satchel charges into buildings as they went.

   Halfway down the compound a GI on duty in the A Co. orderly room heard the first explosions and dived for the floor.

   "I thought at first we were being hit by mortars or rockets," he said.  "Then I crawled to the door and looked down the street.  I saw somebody running toward me.  He stopped, pitched something into a building, then turned and ran the other way.  Then a bunch of satchel charges went off, boom, boom, boom, coming my way, and I knew that sappers had gotten in."

   In "L" ward Pfc. Charles D'Hondt from Utica, Mich., woke up and started running from the direction of the explosions.

   "Man, my mind may have been asleep, but my body was getting out there," he said, "I was headed for the back door, but about halfway there I saw somebody there trying to open the door.

   "I knew he wasn't one of us, so I turned around and started the other way.  Then I saw the flash of an explosion at the front of the war, about six feet from my bed.  so I crawled under a bunk.  There was nothing else I could do. I didn't have anything to fight with."

   In the next ward, Spec. 4 Renard Hainesworth sat up in bed just as a satchel charge went off outside the door, 10 feet away.  A door hinge buried itself in his locker, inches away from his head.  He dived for the floor and rolled under his bunk.

   "I just couldn't believe it" he exclaimed.  Being  here was like being on a vacation, everything was so peaceful and quiet.  You almost didn't feel like you were in Vietnam, and now here was Charlie, blowing up our wards."

   Near the north end of the compound, in her trailer quarters, 1st Lt. Dianne Houser from Sandusky, Ohio, heard the exploding satchel charges and raced to a window.

   "I could see the flashes of the explosions and flames coming from the bachelor officers' quarters across the street," she recalled.  "All I could think about was, "My God, those men are going to be burned alive."

   Then as more explosions rocked the trailer, she dove under her bed.  Something smashed into the window.

   "I saw sparks on the floor," she said, "but they didn't register.  I thought the window had been broken by the concussion of the explosions outside.  I didn't find out until later that four sticks of TNT together with a detonator and a fuse, were lying on the floor about three feet from Margaret (1st Lt. Margaret Cohee, of Denton, Md., a second nurse living in the trailer) and about 10 feet from me.  Somehow, the fuse went out."

   But for 100 other patients and staff members of the convalescent center, the fuses burned too long.  Ninety-eight were wounded., some seriously.  One man sleeping within 10 feet of the spot where a satchel charge-exploded, died instantly.  Another died on the way to the 12th USAF Hospital for treatment.

   In all, the sappers hit 19 of the 94 buildings in the compound.  Four of the - one unoccupied patient ward, one patient and one staff officers' quarters, and a latrine - were burned to the ground.

   The day after the attack, the question in everyone's mind was "why?"

   "It just doesn't make sense," Lt. Houser said bitterly.  "Why blow up a hospital?  The men here were already sick and hurt.  There's nothing here that could have harmed the VC.  I knew that they don't abide by the Geneva conventions . . . but this?

   Particularly galling to the GIs in the wards was the fact that they had no means of fighting back.  Here - in theory, safely away from the fighting  - they were without their weapons.

   "A lot of the infantry guys wanted to go after them," one patient said, "but you can't fight rifles and satchel charges with your hands."

   Nonetheless, one sergeant gave it a try.   Clothed only in pajama bottoms and unarmed, he ran after a sapper escaping over a hill only to trip in the darkness and break a leg.

   Ironically, until the day before the attack, volunteer patients who were well enough stood guard duty around the perimeter, supplementing regular security forces.  But due to a policy change, no patients were on guard duty in the Thursday morning darkness.

   The 15 damaged buildings, in the process of being repaired, are already back in partial use; the ashes and scorched metal debris of the burned buildings are being removed.

   The same sun shines on the same beach.  The Idyllic surroundings of the 6th Convalescent Center are unchanged, but the sense of peace and security is gone.

(Note: I put this in because several of the wounded from my company were shaken up by this attack.  In fact this was a little bad for my morale at the time).

11Aug69-206 GIs Marry Viet Girls in Year

        Another Lull - Number of 'War Brides'(Note: This had a personal reference to one of the men in my battalion.  He has children still in Vietnam.  He wanted to marry the girl, but had problems going through the official channels.  He was also faced discrimination from his enlisted buddies.)


     S&S Staff Correspondent

   SAIGON - Unlike other wars the United States has been involved in, the one in Vietnam has not produced a particularly high number of "war brides."  According to U.S. Embassy figures, only 206 GIs have married Vietnamese girls from July 1968, through July 1969.

   A MACV spokesman said that nearly 400 applications for marriage certificates were received during this same period, all of which were approved.  The low number of marriages compared to applications is probably the result of a change of heart by one out of two applicants.  The paperwork for a marriage in Vietnam takes nearly five months to process and time has been known to cool many an ardor.

   Marriage applicants are of a mixed variety, from the young man whose tour in Vietnam represents his first real absence from home to field grade officers who have served in almost every part of the world.

   The American soldier who wishes to marry a Vietnamese girl appears to be swamped with red tape.  But most of this is designed for his own protection, officials say.

   The intended bride is subjected to a thorough medical examination, primarily to determine her eligibility to enter the United States.  If the girl has contracted syphilis, tuberculosis, cholera or another serious, communicable disease, her application for an American visa will be rejected.

   Soldiers with a pay grade of E4 or below must submit a detailed statement of their assets before they can obtain approval for their marriage application.  The purpose of this is to prove that their dependents will not become public wards once they reach the United States.  Presumably, E5s have achieved financial security.

   The expense in the actual marriage to a Vietnamese girl is relatively slight although some money must be paid for the military application forms and to the Vietnamese government since all marriages involving Vietnamese citizens require a civil ceremony.

   But a soldier must show that he has sufficient funds to transport his wife to the United States, and this can run anywhere up to $500.  Furthermore, his wife must have a passport issued by the Vietnamese government.  The fee for the passport is a nominal 500 piasters, but the "tax" on the passport amounts to 20,000 piasters, or roughly $170.

   A legal advisor from MACV headquarters also has a conference with all prospective husbands.  His primary duty is to explain the rights and status of the soldier's wife once the couple reaches the United States.  Although miscegenation statutes in the United STates were ruled unconstitutional several years ago, thee are still areas in the States where hostility to mixed marriages, even on an official level, only thinly veiled.

   Many servicemen think it's very difficult to marry a Vietnamese.  This is not necessarily true.  Many soldiers who have married Vietnamese girls report that the bulk of official resistance to their plans occurred on the local level.  Approval of a soldier's immediate commander must be granted before he can continue with his marriage application.  At higher levels, active efforts to discourage these plans are almost nonexistent.

   Col. Henry J. Cotman, a deputy commander in the legal assistance office at MACV headquarters says, "Our only purpose here is to advise, not to condemn or discourage.  It doesn't take much money to get married, but divorce is a luxury few can afford.  We try to point out possible obstacles, but you just don't argue with a man who is in love."

   Soldiers who do take their wives back to the United States are often in for a hard time.  Family pressures may upset some men, while others may become distraught over their wife's lack of ability to adjust to American ways.

   The Army does not have an organization which keeps track of GI-Vietnamese marriages that have failed, but Cotman's point is well taken.  There are soldiers who wish their dewy eyes had been clearer when they said, "I do."

17Aug69-Robinson the PFC Prefers Rob., CF

   CHU LAI, Vietnam (Special) - Allen Robinson wishes it was "Robinson, CF" at the top of a Chicago Cubs's box score.  But in reality, it's Robinson, PFC" here.

   "I was invited to spring training with the major league club this season," said Robinson, Chicago's No. 3 pick in the 1967 college draft and a Selective Service choice last October.

  "I though I had a real good chance of making it this year," said Robinson, who instead is spending the season as a rifleman with the Americal Division's B Co., 3d Bn. 21st Inf., 196th Inf. Bde.

   Robinson, 24, turned pro after four years at Tennessee STate University.  In June of 1967, he moved to the Cubs' Caldwell (Ida.) team in the all-rookie Pioneer League.

   "I went to Tennessee State on a football scholarship but I played only two years" Robinson reviewed.  "I stayed with baseball when it coincided with spring football practice."

   As a shortstop at Central High in Mobile, Robinson never hit under .390 in there varsity seasons and was the youngest player on a local semi-pro team.

   His Central predecessors?  Willie McCovey and the Aaron brothers - Hank and Tommy.   

   At Caldwell, the 5-foot-10, 175 pound leadoff batter hit .327 and led the league in stolen bases.  He bats left, throws right and has run the 100-yard dash in 9.4 seconds.

   "I went back to school for my degree, finished in March, and went to spring training with the Cubs' minor league teams," Robinson said.

   Then in 1 1/2 months with Quincy (Ill.) of the Class A Midwest League, he batted first, hit .354 with five home runs and again led in stolen bases.

   That brief, impressive showing earned Robinson a boost to Class AAA at Tacoma, one step from Wrigley Field, Chicago, and the big time.

   "That was a big jump," he recalled.  "I didn't start any games, but I pinch-hit and pinch-ran a lot.  It was a real experience playing with young guys an da lot of older veterans."

   At season's end, Robinson opened his mail and learned he'd be an Army private Oct. 8.

   Like many drafted athletes Robinson blitzed the basic training PT course with a perfect 500 score.  He was assigned to the infantry and knew right away where I'd be going.

21Aug69-250 Reds Killed in 8 Battles, 14 GI killed


    S&S Staff Correspondent

   SAIGON - The center of fighting in the Republic of Vietnam swung to the upper regions of the country Monday and early Tuesday as U.S. and Vietnamese forces killed more than 250 enemy soldiers during eight sizable engagements in the four northernmost provinces.

   Military officials listed 14 GIs killed.  ARVN losses were light.


   The heaviest part of the northern flare-up occurred south of Da Nang.  Two American Div. companies, backed by helicopter gunships, Air Force jets and "Spooky" gunships, killed 143 North Vietnamese in a pari of battles within a mile-and-a-half of their 196th Brigade Headquarters base 32 miles below the city.  

    Both fights began at mid-day and raged well into the evening.  Thirteen 4th Bn. GIs were killed and 48 others wounded.  The battalion's recon platoon killed five other Reds in a nearby encounter.

   About 15 miles closer to Da Nang, 1st Div. Marines opened fire on a group of 25 enemy troops Monday evening, killing at least nine.  Five Marines were injured.

   Early Tuesday morning sappers tried to blast their way into the headquarters area of the 1st Marine Div.'s 5th Regt. at An Hoa Combat Base, 22 miles southwest of Da Nang.  The enemy withdrew two hours later leaving six dead behind.  One Leatherneck was killed and 10 wounded.  

   Two night positions of the 1st Div. Marines and another of the 196th Brigade GIs were hit with enemy mortars during the night.  About 10 122mm rockets slammed into the Marble Mountain Air Facility two miles southeast of Da Nang.   

    Photo Caption - Lensman Missing

    Associated Pres photographer Oliver Noonan, of Norwell, Mass., was reported missing in action Tuesday.  A helicopter he was in  was evidently shot down over jungle terrain about 30 miles south of Da Nang.   Searchers were unable to reach the area immediately.   (AP)

22Aug69-Hit Copter Falls On Troops, 2 Die

   ....To the north four 31st TFW F100 pilots returning to their base from an earlier mission raked an enemy location 75 miles south of Da Nang with 20mm cannon fire, destroying or damaging 34 fortifications and igniting 19 sustained fires.

22Aug69-Battered Reds Retaliate, Hit Camps, Down 2 Hueys


    S&S Staff Correspondent

   SAIGON - Communist troops south of Da Nang, hit hard in two battles Monday struck back Tuesday against two American camps in the area, shot down a pair of Huey helicopters and pounded a Marine position with about 100 rockets and mortars.

   Military reports listed 12 enemy and at least nine Americans killed in the incidents with shelling casualties given only as "light."

   Eight Americans died in the late afternoon when an Americal Div. UH1 chopper exploded in mid-air after enemy ground fire ripped into it 34 miles south of Da Nang.  The dead included Associated Press photographer Oliver Noonan.

   The other downed helicopter crashed only a mile farther south that morning.  Two men aboard were injured and the aircraft destroyed.

   Ground fighting began just after midnight Tuesday as Reds charged a 1st Marine Div. camp seven miles southwest of Da Nang.  The unsuccessful raid which was preceded by a mortar attack, cost the enemy 12 dead.  Fourteen Leathernecks were wounded.

   Late that night, Americal Div. GIs beat back an attack on their night positions 23 miles south of Da Nang.  Enemy losses in the firefight were unknown but one American was killed and 14 were wounded.

   A 100-round barrage of mixed 60mm and 82mm mortar and 122mm rocket hit Marines of the 1st Div.'s 5th Regt. camped near the An Hoa combat base 21 miles southwest of Da Nang.

  Other 5th Regt. troops close by took about five rounds of rocket fire.  The early evening attacks caused light casualties.

   In day-time fighting jet bombers swept down on about 35 enemy sighted by Marines 20 miles south of Da Nang.  Bodies of 11 Reds were later seen lying the strike area.

   Elsewhere in the country, ............

23Aug69- Army Names 8 Dead Aboard Crashed Helo  (Note:a 71st AHC helicopter)

   SAIGON (S&S) - The Army Thursday released the names of seven military personnel aboard a UH1 helicopter when it was hit by enemy ground fire and reportedly exploded in mid-air 34 miles south of Da Nang.  Associated Press photographer Oliver Noonan was also aboard the aircraft.

   The crew and passengers included: Lt. Col. Eli P. Howard, commander of the Americal Div.'s 3rd Bn. of the 21st In., WO1 Johns D. Plummer, WO1 Gerald L. Silverstein, Command Sgt. Maj. Franklin D. Rowell, Spec. 4 Richard A. Doria, Pfc Steven L. Martino and Pfc. Stuart J. Lavigne.

   The Army statement listed all eight persons as "missing in action,"  but U.S. Command spokesmen said Wednesday that the explosion and crash "apparently killed all eight personnel aboard."

23Aug69- Fierce Fighting Continues Near Da Nang

    Compiled from S&S and AP

   SAIGON - Increasingly bitter resistance from North Vietnamese regulars apparently determined to turn a helicopter crash site into a major battlefield sent casualties on both sides soaring Wednesday and Thursday as the Allies poured reinforcements into a mountain valley 32 miles south of Da Nang.

   At least 103 Reds and two GIs were killed in stiff fighting Wednesday three miles north of the Americal Div.'s 196th Inf. Brigade headquarters, and early reports listed another 121 Communists killed Thursday although details of that fighting were not available.

   As of late Thursday, U.S. officers had reported upwards of 400 North Vietnamese killed since the fighting  flared last Sunday, more than half of the m in the past two days.  U.S. casualties were at least 25 killed and 150 wounded, according to field reports.

   More than 1,200 Allied troops have been committed to the field with more in reserve.  The fighting moved through its fifth day in an area called the Rice Bowl about five miles east of the key district town of Hiep Duc.

   U.S. fighter bombers had flown 17 strikes by mid-afternoon, nearly twice as many as all of Wednesday, and dropped 118,000 pounds of high explosives and napalm.

   By late afternoon, three U.S. companies were still in contact - some of it heavy - about there quarters of a mile from the scene of the helicopter crash.

   The U.S. troops were encountering enemy bunkers with interlocking fields of fire and equipped with recoilless rifles as well as small arms and the .51 cal. antiaircraft guns that posed a grim threat to resupply and medical evacuation helicopters.

   Several helicopters were riddled by bullets Thursday as they flew in and out of the area.  Associated Press photographer Horst Faas reported from Landing Zone Center a mountaintop fire base two miles from the fighting, that one helicopter loaded with wounded men barely made it to the fire base after being shot full of holes.

   U.S. officers said they were puzzled by the North Vietnamese selection of the battlefield, which is familiar to U.S. troops and is covered by an umbrella of artillery fire from three American bases.

   U.S. officers here had speculated that the North Vietnamese 2nd Div. was bent on a major attack on the key district town of Hiep Duc last Sunday when U.S. patrols ran into the moving forces and the battle began.

    Photo Caption  This photo showing Americal Div. troops watching an air strike on enemy bunkers south of Da Nang was on the last roll of film received from Associated Press photographer Oliver Noonan before the helicopter he was riding was shot down Tuesday, triggering a major battle that was still raging late Thursday (AP Radiophoto)

24Aug69-Photo Caption  Smoke puffs from the explosion of artillery shells in Que Son valley 30 miles south of Da Nang where Allied and North Vietnamese troops are locked in a battle that began with a helicopter crash Tuesday.  This picture was one of the last taken by photographer Oliver Noonan, 29, who is believed to have been killed when the aircraft was shot down.  (AP).

   4 Days of Jungle Fighting

    Que Son Battle Rages On

   SAIGON (UPI)-Hundreds of U.S. infantrymen, fighting 120-degree heat and an enemy they couldn't see, battled a Communist division Friday for control of a northern jungle valley, military authorities said.

   The battles raged at the northern and southern tips of Que Son valley, a 10-mile basin wedged between the rugged mountain ridgelines near Tam Ky, 340 miles northeast of Saigon.

   Although supported by scores of air strikes and thousands of artillery rounds, the GIs were unable to penetrate the Communist-infested jungles to determine how many of their enemy had been killed.

   But spokesmen said the intense fighting around "Million Dollar Hill" had claimed more than 400 Communist dead this week, including at least 122 Thursday.

   Initial reports said at least five Americans were killed and seven wounded Friday.  The four-day battle has cost the Americal Div. more than 35 dead and 75 wounded, spokesmen said.

   Intelligence sources said it was believed the entire 2nd North Vietnamese Div. with up to 5,000 seasoned troops was operating in the valley, about 25 miles inland from the South China Sea.

   The division includes support units and 15 antiaircraft companies armed with about 30 powerful .51-cal. machine guns, sources said.

   The fighting around Tam Ky began Tuesday when Red gunners hot down a UH1 Huey helicopter.

   But after four days of fighting, U.S. infantrymen still had not reached the crash site in the southern tip of Que Son valley by nightfall Friday.

25Aug69-Near Helicopter Crash Site

    GIs Take Strategic Hill From Reds

   LANDING ZONE CENTER, Vietnam (AP) - American infantrymen met little resistance Saturday as they captured a rocky knoll from where entrenched enemy forces had blocked efforts to reach a downed American helicopter for four days.

   Four companies of the U.S. Americal Div., totaling about 250 men, occupied Hill 102 at dusk.

   From their vantage point, they were in a position to move to the site of the helicopter crash about 1,000 yards away.  Presumably the final drive would come Sunday.

   The helicopter, carrying seven soldiers and an Associated Press photographer, was shot down by enemy gunfire Tuesday.  All aboard were believed killed.  Efforts to reach the scene produced the biggest battle of the Communists' fall campaign.

   More than 500 North Vietnamese regulars are thought to have died in the fighting which broke out last Sunday when American patrols bumped into enemy forces believed positioning for an attack on the nearby district town of Hiep Duc.

   The action intensified the next day and swelled into heavy fighting after the helicopter was brought down.  American losses were estimated at nearly 40 killed and more than 160 wounded.

   But Saturday, the advancing Americans met only sniper fire as they approached the hill.  When they reached its crest, four enemy mortars crashed in on them.  U.S. casualties were six wounded.

   The hill had been steadily pounded by artillery, bombs and napalm for 12 hours prior to the assault, which began just after midday.  Officers believed the enemy pulled out form their steel-reinforced bunkers during the early morning.

   A maze of bunkers still lay between the blackened hill and the site of the crash, but officers said the enemy probably had pulled from the low ground as well.

   But with the captured of Hill 102, the major obstacle was overcome.  Heavy machine guns on the knoll had inflicted serious losses and damage on American troops and helicopters for days.

   Photo Caption A medic offers water to a wounded Americal Div. soldier waiting for evacuation during heavy fighting in Que Son valley.  American troops captured strategic Hill 102 Saturday with little resistance.  (AP Radiophoto)

26Aug69-Photo Caption- One of Noonan's Last Shots

   In one of the last pictures Oliver E. Noonan ever took, the Associated Press photographer captured these Americal Div. soldiers searching for enemy snipers.  The bodies of Noonan and seven Army men were found Sunday in the wreckage of a U.S. Command helicopter that crashed Aug. 19. thirty miles south of Da Nang.  Noonan's body was identified by AP photographer Horst Faas who accompanied the searchers through five days of battle to reach the downed chopper.  Lt. Col. Eli P. Howard, a battalion commander with the division's 196th Lt. Inf. Brigade, was also killed in the crash.   (AP).

27Aug69-GIs Keep Heat On North Viets In Desert Valley

   S&S Vietnam Bureau

   HIEP DUC VALLEY, Republic of Vietnam - Army and Marine infantry continued to claw and hammer Communist Monday in this 110-degree desert valley that has claimed more than 500 Communists killed last week.

   Americal Division troops from the 196th Inf. Brigade fought several small, dirty eyeball-to-eyeball fights killing an estimated 74 of the North Vietnamese soldiers here - once a showcase for the pacification program in Vietnam.

   American casualties were reported as one killed and 49 wounded.

   Half a mile east of the Americal troops, Marines from the 2nd Bn.., 7th Regt., in blocking positions, fought all afternoon and well into the night against a strong, dug-in enemy.

   Marine losses were 11 men killed and 41 wounded.  Communists losses were unknown.

   Military observers believe the enemy here consists of two regiments of the 2nd North Vietnamese Div. and look upon the fighting here as an indication of the failure of the Hiep Duc pacification program.  Refugees only recently had moved back into the area once overrun and terrorized by the Viet Cong.


    Photo Caption- Where 8 Died in Copter

   American soldiers examine the wreckage of a U.S. Army helicopter shot down in South Vietnam's Song Chang Valley.  Eight men, including Associated Press photographer Oliver Noonan, were killed.  For five days Americal Division soldiers battled the North Vietnamese to reach the crash site, 30 miles south of Da Nang.  (AP).

27Aug69-GI's Dive Is a Full Gainer

   SAIGON (Special) - An Americal Div. infantryman hid so well from enemy mortar fie in the recent heavy fighting south of Da Nang that he even lost his American buddies.

   Troops of the 31st Inf.'s 4th Bn. were heading toward their night defensive position when North Vietnamese opened fire with 82mm mortars.  Pfc Marion Seaster dove into a stream and submerged.  When the barrage stopped he came up to find the rest of his unit was no where in sight.

   Seaster grabbed a damaged radio to keep it out of enemy hands and waded upstream to catch his unit.  "I though I knew about where they were going, but I must have miscalculated," he said.  "When I came out of the stream I came face to face with another group of NVA soldiers.

   My lucky stars must have been shining that night because they took me for the advance point man for a large American force and let me pass through their ambush so as to trap the main body of the unit.  

   "By the time they began firing at me, I had almost made it to my unit's perimeter," he said.  "I just ran like hell.  My buddies were too busy blasting the NVA to worry about me."

      Chu Lai TV

   2:05 - Movie

   3:30 - To Be Announced

   4:00 - To Be Announced

   5:00 - Jerry Lewis

   6:00 - Star Trek

   7:00 - Gentle Ben

   7:30 - News

   7:40 - Big Picture

   8:10 - Perry Mason

   9:00 - Lost in Space

  10:00 - News

  10:05 - Dean Martin

  11:00 - Movie

28Aug69-Artillery, Ground Strikes Clobber the NVA


      S&S Correspondent

   SAIGON - U.S. artillery fire ripped into a force of 200 North Vietnamese 35 miles south of Da Nang Monday afternoon, killing at least 52 Reds, American military officials said.  

   Troops of the Vietnamese 2nd Inf. Div. spotted the NVA, then held back as Americal Div. artillerymen pummeled the enemy soldiers.  No resistance from the scattered Reds was reported as the ARVN infantrymen searched through the area after the strike.

   Stars and Stripes correspondent Bob Hodierne at the Americal Div.'s Landing Zone Baldy said that GIs of the Div.'s 196th brigade killed about 50 Communist soldiers Tuesday during stiff fighting in the nearby Hiep Duc Valley.  Exact U.S. casualties were not yet reported.

   Five of the NVA were killed by artillery fire after an aerial observer sighted them around an 82mm mortar.  The 196th Brigade troops have been taking heavy and accurate mortar fire during the outbreak of the fierce fighting south of Da Nang, Hodierne said.

   The infantrymen also found a grave holding 12 enemy dead who appeared to have been killed by small arms fire about three days earlier.

   Six Americans were killed and 39 injured in 23 enemy shellings in South Vietnam during the 24 hours ending at 8 a.m. Tuesday, military spokesmen said.  Sixteen were aimed at U.S. troops.

   Two GIs were killed and six wounded Monday when Communists fired a volley of rocket-propelled grenades at a U.S. Army convoy 38 miles southwest of Saigon.

   Helicopter gunships quickly scattered the attackers.  At least three Reds were killed in the afternoon fight, four miles northwest of My Tho.

28Aug69-Cooks, Clerks Join Massive Battle

   SAIGON (UPI) - U.S. Marines turned their cooks and clerks into riflemen Tuesday and pushed toward a valley to reinforce American infantrymen fighting one of the year's biggest battles.

   But Communist machine gunners hidden in camouflaged spider holes raked the Marine ranks with .30-caliber bullets, forcing the Leathernecks to pull their dead and wounded back into the jungles.

   Official U.S. spokesmen listed Marine casualties in several battles Monday and Tuesday as 16 dead and 61 wounded, but battlefield reports indicated the figures might go higher.

   The eight-day fight has cost North Vietnam's 2nd Army Div. and estimated 800 dead, including 250 killed or found in graves Monday.  Officials said U.S. losses were at least 30 killed.

   Reports from the front said the 110 Marine reinforcements, about 50 of whom normally fulfill support roles, joined two other Leatherneck companies to try to link up with four U.S. Army companies locked in heavy combat.

   By nightfall Tuesday, the three Marine companies were still more than a mile from their linkup with the Army's Americal Div. on the shoulder of a valley, 340 miles northeast of Saigon.

   Dozens of silvery U.S. fighter-bombers from bases at Da Nang and Chu Lai pounded the Red positions with round-the-clock strikes.  Thousands of artillery rounds from three nearby outposts thundered into the 10-mile-long valley, tearing huge chucks of the jungle floor.

   One Marine unit from the 7th Regt. battled from noon Monday until dusk Tuesday with an entrenched enemy.  The fight cost the Leathernecks and the Communists 11 dead each.  Forty-one Marines also were wounded.

   The Leathernecks moved into the Que Son Valley fight as a result of a recent order extending the 1st Marine Div.'s area of operations about 15 miles farther south.  The division is based in Da Nang, 35 miles north of the valley.

   The order was given early in the month when two battalions of the 101st Airborne Div., which had been operating temporarily near the valley, were returned to their home base at Camp Evans, 90 miles northwest.

     Photo Caption - U.S. Marines take cover behind large rocks as the charge entrenched troops of the North Vietnamese 2nd Div. near the Hiep Duc Valley.  The Leathernecks were attempting to link up with troops of the U.S. Americal Div.  (AP Radiophoto)

Sailors, Gunship Kill 15 In Saigon River Ambush


    S&S Staff Correspondent

   SAIGON - ......

   Meanwhile, Stars and Stripes correspondent Spec. 4 Bob Hodierne at the Hiep Duc Valley 30 miles south of Da Nang reported that fighting continued to flare there Wednesday, but casualty figures were not yet available.

   He said the 3rd Bn. of the 1st Marine Div.'s 7th Regt. had begun a five-mile push from Landing Zone Ross at the eastern edge of the valley to replace the Regt.'s 2nd Bn., which has suffered heavy casualties in the rugged valley fighting.

   Americal Div. GIs of the 196th Brigade were about a mile and a half west of the 2nd Bn. Leathernecks and in between the American forces lay North Vietnamese troops which military sources believe began as a regiment of the NVA 2nd Div., Hodierne said.

  The U.S. military command reported one Tuesday engagement between the Marines and NVA.  Each side lost one dead.  Twenty-four Leathernecks were injured.  Spokesmen reported five Reds killed Tuesday by the Americal Div. troops.  Six GIs were wounded in the fighting.


   Officials said 27 of the 35 reported rocket and mortar attacks were directed at U.S. troops or installations.  Five Americans were killed and 49 wounded by the barrages.

   At least three of the shellings were aimed at Americal Div. Soldiers near Duc Pho, about 100 miles southeast of Da Nang.  About 50 mortar rounds hit armored Cavalrymen working there during the afternoon.  Casualties were light with no fatalities in any of the three attacks.


     Photo Caption - A wounded Americal Div. Infantryman, his eyes bandaged, is led by a buddy to a spot where he can wait for an evacuation helicopter in the Hiep Duc Valley.  (S&S Photo by Spec. 4 Bob Hodierne).

His Men Balk at Order Into Battle - CO Shifted

   SAIGON (AP) - A company commander who had a small revolt on his hands in the battlefield Sunday was relieved of his job, his battalion commander said Wednesday.

   Lt. Eugene Shurtz Jr., 26, of Davenport, Iowa, commander of Alpha Co., will be given a new assignment with the 196th Brigade of the Americal Div.

   His battalion commander, Lt. Col. Robert C. Bacon, said in a telephone interview from Landing Zone Center south of Da Nang that he personally went out into the field Monday morning to relieve Shurtz.

   The battle-worn and under strength Alpha Co. at first refused Sunday to move again down the jungled, rocky slopes of Nui Lon Mountain into a labyrinth of North Vietnamese bunkers and trench lines.  They had made the same push and had been driven back five days in a row.

   But after persuasion, the company finally moved out.

   Bacon said Alpha Co. met no resistance Sunday after it moved out.  He said the company was still operating in the field but had not been involved in any significant fighting since Sunday.

   Meanwhile, an Americal Div. spokesman said there were five troops who had questioned Shurtz' order to move out Sunday.

   "They did however, move out with the rest of the company - all of them - and the company completed its mission," the spokesman said.

   Both Bacon and the spokesman said that to their knowledge there are no charges pending against anyone and no formal investigation is being conducted.

30Aug69-GIs Are Toast of Village After Returning Relics

   QUANG NGAI, Vietnam (Special) - Americal Div. infantrymen received a heroes' welcome recently when they returned religious relics to more than 2,000 Vietnamese now living in a nearby Son Loc Village.

   A four-foot, 200-year-old temple bell and a three-foot Buddha statue were returned to the people after a four-year absence by troopers of the Americal's 1st Bn., 52nd Inf.

   "We surely didn't expect anything like this," said Lt. Col. Reed E. Davis Jr., battalion commander, as he and six other 198th Brigade soldiers found themselves the honored guests in a two-hour-long Buddhist parade through the streets of Quang Ngai City to the hamlet of Son Loc nearby.

   The reasons for the parade, said a South Vietnamese interpreter, was the return of the religious articles, found a few weeks earlier by members of Delta Co., 1st Bn., 52nd Inf. in an abandoned pagoda.

   The story goes further back than that, however.  In 1965 the villagers of Phuoc Loc abandoned their village on the Quang Ngai River because of the increasing Communist activity in the area.  They left behind their pagoda with all the religious articles intact.

   Resettling near Quang Ngai City in the new refugee village of Son Loc, the village elders recently asked for American and provincial help to regain their religious articles.

   A few weeks later Delta Co., commanded by Capt. James A. Fivin, found the articles, including about 10 statuettes, the replica of Buddha and a 200-year-old bell.

  "I knew they would be happy about the return of these articles," said Maj. Luther Kallan.

  Going "all out" meant a parade honoring the American who had returned the articles.

   More than 1,500 persons including young boys and girls, village elders and Buddhist monks paraded through the streets of Quang Ngai.  The Americans, sitting in a small bus in the middle of the parade, were the center of attraction.

30Aug69- Quang Tri TV

        Sunday, Aug 31

  1:03 - Christophers

  1:15 - Sacred Heart

  1:30 - The Answer

  2:00 - Melody Rancy

  2:50 - American Sportsman

  3:45 - Sports

  6:05 - GE College Bowl

  6:30 - News

  7:00 - The Monkees

  7:25 - Ed Sullivan

  8:15 - Bonanza

  9:05 - Mission Impossible

 10:00 - News

 10:05 - Joey Bishop Show

 Chu Lai TV

        Sunday, Aug 31

  1:00 - Christophers

  1:15 - Answer

  1:30 - Sacred Heart

  2:00 - Sports

  6:00 - College Bowl

  6:30 - 21st Century

  7:00 - To Be Announced

  7:30 - News

  7:40 - Get Smart

  8:10 - Lawrence Welk

  9:00 - Mission Impossible

 10:00 - News

 10:05 - Bonanza

 11:00 - Jonathan Winters

         Monday, Sept. 1

  2:05 - State Fair

  4:00 - Hazel

  4:30 - Combat

  5:30 - Monkees

  6:00 - Voyage to the Bottom Of The Sea

  7:00 - Auto Racing

  7:30 - News

  7:40 - To Be Announced

  8:00 - Mission Impossible

  9:00 - Gunsmoke

 10:00 - Hollywood Palace

 11:00 - Peter Gunn

30Aug69-Incident 'Very Small'-Americal CO

   SAIGON (UPI) - The Americal Div. commander said Thursday the incident involving five men who balked at advancing unfairly overshadowed a major victory won by "magnificent" soldiers.

  "This was one of the greatest battles and victories my men have fought," said Maj. Gen. Lloyd B. Ramsey, 51.  "The incident, a very small incident, was taken way out of context."

   "It was a fierce fight, and I mean fierce.  The lieutenant faltered temporarily.  He didn't use enough initiative to get the five men moving.  He made an error and he realizes it.  It is a hard way to learn.  He still has the potential to be a fine officer."

  Ramsey, who was wounded five times during World War II, assumed command of the 22,000 man Americal Div., the largest in the Army, last June.  He spoke during a telephone interview from his Chu Lai headquarters, 335 miles northeast of Saigon.

   The incident occurred Sunday in nearby Que Son Valley when five infantrymen with less than three months to go in Vietnam refused their lieutenant's order to move into the jungle after a week of heavy combat.  

   The battalion executive officer, Maj. Richard Waite, 38, and Sgt. Okey Blankenship slew to Alpha Co.'s position.  Ten minutes later the entire 90-man unit advanced with protest with its lieutenant and completed its mission without casualties.

   The lieutenant, Eugene Shurtz Jr., praised his unit in a statement Thursday but declined interviews.  He was commissioned after graduating from Toledo University and had been in Vietnam about one month.

   "The delay of my company was based on the hesitation of five men," Shurtz said.  "All my men in the day's action did perform their mission in an extremely professional manner.

   "I believe Alpha Co. is an excellent unit and for anyone to believe otherwise would be a slap in the face to the men who gave their lives . . .  and those who suffered wounds and the remainder of the unit which executed its mission courageously and to the best of its ability."

   Shurtz, 26, was relieved of his command after the incident and is awaiting reassignment within the 196th Light Inf. Brigade. Division spokesmen said Shurtz needed more experience and savvy.

   Maj. Gen. Ramsey said no disciplinary action will be taken against anyone in Alpha Co.'s 3rd Bn. of the 21st Inf. as a result of the incident.

30Aug69- GIs Push On at Que Son Against Riddled NVA Div.

   Compiled From AP and UPI

   SAIGON- U.S. Marines and Army infantrymen pushed slowly into the foothills of the Que Son Valley Thursday where the battered remnants of a North Vietnamese division still pose a threat to a small village that had become a model for pacification.

   An 11-day campaign by the Communists to overrun Hiep Duc in the 10-mile-long valley west of Tam Ky, 340 miles north-north-east of Saigon, has cost the Communists more than 1,000 dead.  More than 70 Americans were also killed in the fighting.

   Marines and troops of the Army's Americal Div. inched into the foothills Thursday receiving mortar fire and bursts from automatic weapons which reportedly killed eight Americans and wounded 43 others.

   The Americans were chasing "delaying forces" of North Vietnamese regulars left behind midway through the three-mile-wide valley.  The enemy is reportedly trying to regroup its forces and appeared to be trying to move out of the immediate area to avoid total destruction.

   Prisoners reported that a B52 strike had wrecked the 2nd NVA headquarters killing 160 of the headquarters staff.

   Americal Div. infantrymen, artillerymen, helicopter gunships and Air Force and Marine fighter-bombers accounted for 836 of the enemy dead.  A battalion of U.S. Marines and a battalion of Vietnamese army (ARVN) soldiers, working with the Americal Div., added to the heavy casualties inflicted on the Communists.

   The all-out Communist effort to overrun the village of Hiep Duc appeared to have been very carefully developed, an Army spokesman said.

   The Communists had occupied Hiep Duc from 1965 until 1968, when they were driven out by Americal Div. troops.  Before they left, the Communists burned the town.

   With the help of Americal soldiers, the town was rebuilt and more than 4,000 Vietnamese returned there to resettle.  Under the protection of the Americal soldiers, the village had become an example of the progress that could be made to free villages from Communist terrorism.

   UPI reported that allied intelligence still believes the North Vietnamese might try and overrun the refugee village.

   "The people have been real nervous that the NVA will keep their threat and take the Hiep Duc refugee center, Lt. Col. Cecil Henry commander of an Americal battalion in the valley, said.

   It was reported that the Communist push into the valley could have been stopped sooner if the refugees had notified military authorities of the latest infiltration.

   The drive by the 2nd NVA Div. began before dawn Aug. 12 with an attack on Fire Base West, located deep in the jungle atop Nui Liet Kien a 1,300-foot-high mountain.

   It is believed here that the sole purpose of moving on this position was to bait the Americal Div. commander into committing the bulk of his forces to this area.

   However, Maj. Gen. Lloyd Ramsey decided that it was a lure and instead called for Marine and Air Force fighter bomber strikes and aerial attacks with his own Cobra gunships.  The enemy fled.

   Had the lure been successful, the first NVA regiment was then to overrun Fire Base West and move on Hiep Duc, military analysts believe.

   Units of the Americal Div. reported uncovering bunker complexes and fresh graves in regions deserted by the North Vietnamese before the latest pre-dawn push Thursday.  U.S. artillery batteries fired more than 500 rounds into the foothills, spokesmen said.

31Aug69-Photo Caption - A shocked and pained casualty from the Americal Div. is shown to an evacuation helicopter by a fellow soldier who uses his weapon for a pointer.  The wounded man, holding a cigarette, was hit in heavy fighting in the Que Son Valley, where Marines and troops of the Americal Have killed more than 1,000 Communists.   (AP)

31Aug69-Marines, Americal GIs Close In on Enemy

       By SPEC. 5 ERIC JOHNS

          S&S Staff Correspondent

   SAIGON - Americal Div. GIs and 1st Div. Marines have linked up to vise North Vietnamese troops between them in the Hiep Duc Valley.  The Marines reinforced the Army troops with tanks as they smashed at enemy troops in sturdy well-fortified bunkers.

   Pacific Stars and Stripes correspondent Bob Hodierne reported from the battle scene, the Que Son-Hiep Duc Valleys 30 miles south of Da Nang, that the first two companies of Leatherneck replacements of the 3d. Bn., 7th Regt., met Thursday with battle-worn Americal troops and took heavy fire as they fought for control of Hill 381 on the northern edge of the valley just northeast  of the town of Hiep Duc - reputedly a showcase pacification village.

   American casualties in the 13-day battle neared the 400 mark.  More than 1,000 Communists have died in a costly fight to keep the Reds out of the settlement, which has a population of about 30,000, and to keep them from invading the coastal lowlands.

   Fighting from bunkers, the Communists poured a shattering stream of fire into the Marines as they joined the Army troops.  However, Hodierne reported they doggedly pushed on and captured prisoners from every unit in the 2nd NVA Div., including headquarters and support troops.  They now believe they are facing the major portion of the division, and that the enemy headquarters and a substantial number of infantrymen are now on a finger-like ridge that separates the two valleys.

   A 3,000 man task force of soldiers and Marines set up blocking forces at the southern edge of the Hiep Duc Valley to cut off escape routes for the Communists.  Military sources told Hodierne they did not believe that a ground assault against the enemy stronghold would be useful and that they were preparing to blast the Reds from several surrounding fire support bases.

   The U.S. command in Saigon said the 7th Regt. Marines lost 13 dead and 42 wounded in action in that area Thursday.  The bodies of 18 slain NVA soldiers were found.

   Hodierne also reported that a Leatherneck machine gun team of three to four men disappeared in the midst of the fighting and that a CH-46 Medevac helicopter had crashed into the side of the hill.

   Marine spokesmen said the chopper crashed as it maneuvered to avoid ground fire.  All aboard survived, but several were injured, Hodierne said.  The aircraft was destroyed by the crash.

   The command listed five enemy killed Thursday by Americal Div. GIs of the 196th Brigade less than a mile to the southwest of the Marines.  Hodierne said that one company of the 31st Inf.'s Bn. took 3 per cent casualties in the fighting, including five dead.

   Meanwhile, a 1st Marine Div. reconnaissance team called Marine jets down on a group of about 60 Communist soldiers spotted 10 miles north of the valley Thursday evening.  The later counted the bodies of 48 enemy lying in the strike area.

   Farther north, Reds opened fire with small arms and rocket-grenades on a 3rd Marine Div. night position three miles south of the Demilitarized Zone twice early Thursday morning , but were beaten back in both brief attacks.  At least six enemy killed in the encounters, four miles southwest of Con Thien.  Three Leathernecks died and nine were injured.

31Aug69-  A Weary Company Fights On With Rifles, Grenades, Guts


       S&S Staff Correspondent

   HIEP DUC VALLEY, Vietnam- The fighting here is a very close, personal infantry fight.

   The valley bottom is dried terraces, each terrace three or four feet higher or lower than the one next to it.  Around each of these tiny fields are thick hedgerows.  And in the middle of the hedgerows are ditches and bunkers - ditches and bunkers that you just know Charlie is in.

   Bravo, Co., 4th Bn., 31st Inf., Americal Div., knows it.  They were here when it all stared last week and have been chewed up and chewed up again until Thursday morning they numbered only 73 men and two officers.

   Thursday evening, when the fighting was over, they would number only 46 men and one officer.

   Thursday morning Bravo Co. moved slowly forward - forward being the direction they had to move - to join Marines fighting from the other end of the valley.  The Marines were  just a few hundred meters ahead and everyone hoped this time they might find nothing in between.

   At 11 a.m. two machine guns, two AK-47 and an M79 grenade launcher blew that hope away.

   Pinned down in the late morning sun, a very hot sun, Bravo had a man killed, a new guy, and 13 others wounded or nearly unconscious as a result of the heat.  Heat that sometimes reaches 120 degrees.

   Carefully they pulled back, leaving the body of the new guy, to evacuate their wounded.  

   By 2 p.m. the 61 men of Bravo Co. were ready to move back into the same area.  No one really wanted to go.  They just wanted to sit in the shade and be left alone.

   The commander, Capt William H. Gayler, explained the situation.  There would be no helicopter gunship support.  The gunships had more important things to do than support Bravo Co.  Air and artillery couldn't be used because the Marines were too close.  They had no mortars.  The infantryman, with his rifle and grenade was expected to dig out the North Vietnamese.

   Wearily, Bravo moved forward again-only to be pinned down almost at once.

   Low crawling ahead, the first 15 men were cut off from the rest of the company.  Men who had been tired for days, men with no water, men who were really scared, were on their own.  

   The man nearest the cut off group was told to carry grenades forward to them.  He refused, crawled back and asked the medic for pills for his nerves.  While hiding back with the wounded the nervous soldier was wounded by an M79 grenade round fired by the NVA.

   While the rest of the company lay pinned down and helpless the point group fought it out with Charlie.  Late in the afternoon, just as darkness was coming, the point men managed to escape, crawling a few meters back to the rest of the company.

   Four more Americans were  dead - their bodies still forward.

   The company threw out tear gas and looking like monsters in their gas masks, tried to advance against the enemy to recover the bodies they managed to get just one of them.  Five more NVA were dead and two captured M60 Machine guns destroyed.   As night fell, the company straggled back to find a place to sleep.

   Friday morning, more tired than Thursday morning, but now only 47 strong,, Bravo knew they would have to go back in to get the bodies.

31Aug69-Reds Kill 12 Civilians

   S&S Vietnam Bureau

   SAIGON - A Viet Cong 60mm mortar round slammed into a public TV viewing station late Tuesday evening 110 miles southwest of Saigon in Phong Dingh Province, killing five civilians and wounding six others according to a Vietnamese National Police spokesman.

   To the north, Viet Cong explosive experts blew up a local market place in a small hamlet 20 miles southwest of Da Nang.  In the blast, two civilians were killed and 15 others were wounded.

   The two terrorist incidents were the most serious ones on the latest government terror report released Friday.

   The delayed report also cited five other Communist terrorist actions in which five civilians were killed and 26 wounded in a three-day period ending Aug. 28.