Pacific Stars And Stripes
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Col. William V. Koch, USA..................Editor-in-Chief
Lt. Col. J. F. Townshend, Jr., USAF Deputy Editor-in-Chief
1st Lt. Herman G. Linnartz, Jr., USA.............Hq. Cmdt.
Capt. R. H. W. Grunwald, USMC ...........Asst. EIC/Vietnam
Gordon Skean ..............................General Manager
Richard T. Owen .......................Circulation Manager
Paul J. Brumbaugh ......................Production Manager
Malcolm M. Silles ........................Business Manager
John K. Baker .............................Managing Editor
Howard C. Peterson ........................News Editor
Lee J. Kavetski .........................Sports Editor
Thomas A. Scully ...........................Copy Chief
Frederick G. Braitsch, Jr. ................Photo Chief
Pacific Stars and Stripes
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03Jun70-Viets Get 20 PBRs
DA NANG, Vietnam (UPI)-The Vietnamese Navy took operational control of 20 U.S. Navy river patrol boats (PBRs) Monday , the last such craft in American hands in the five northernmost provinces, military spokesmen said.
Ten boats of River Div. 543, based at Hai (?Hoi) An, and 10 from River Div. 521, based at Tam Ky, were handed over to Cmdr. Nguyen Van Phu at ceremonies in Da Nang and Tam Ky, six miles east of Hue.
The latest acquisitions brought to 180 the number of river patrol boats being operated by the Vietnamese Navy. Forty were handed over Sunday in the Mekong Delta area.
Ninety river patrol boats are still being operated in Vietnam by the U.S. Navy. Fifty of them will be turned over to the Vietnamese June 23, military spokesmen said. The remainder will be handed over next fall.
With the latest turnovers, the U.S. Navy's accelerated turnover to the Vietnamese (AC-TOV) program is 70 per cent complete, military spokesmen said. River Diva, 543 and 521 were inactivated following the turnover of the boats, but some of the approximately 120 members of the two units will remain as advisors to Cmdr. Phu, head of South Vietnam's Naval Task Force 212, which will operate the Patrol boats in the northern provinces.
03Jun70-GIs Take Sailors' Jobs
DA NANG, Vietnam (Special) -
The U.S. Naval Support Activity (NSA) detachment at Chu Lai turned over all of its logistic support functions, except for public works repair and utilities, to the Army's Support Command Monday.
Included in the turnover were all of the supply warehouses, about 160 acres of real estate and the boat ramps at Chu Lai, 45 miles south of Da Nang.
Eventually, Vietnamese Navy men trained for craft repair and maintenance will be assigned to the base.
Nearly 250 U.S. Navy men attached to Chu Lai will be reassigned within Vietnam, or returned to the United States provided they have neared their tour in Vietnam.
Over 300 Seabees and 150 Navy men will remain at Chu Lai to set up the small repair base.
The Chu Lai detachment is the fourth Naval supply base to turn its logistic support functions over to the Army, Detachments at Tan My Hue, Phu Bai and at Cua Viet Dong Ha were turned over during the past several months.
04Jun70-NVA Find Death In Dip
FSB SAN JUAN HILL, Vietnam (Special)
-Swimming during duty hours recently cost one NVA his life and of two of his cohorts their freedom when an 11th Inf. Brigade unit of the Americal Div. invaded an NVA swimming hole.
A Co., 4th Bn., 3rd Inf., was moving down a trail near the Tra Cau River 10 miles northwest of Duc Pho when the pointman, Spec. 4 Dave Paavola, spotted the NVA splashing around in the river. The third platoon was in high elephant grass and quickly concealed themselves.
Sgt. James Rippl recalled, "The first squad got on line and we waited for the proper time to strike but we first had to clear it through the Command Post because there were friendly troops in the area." After clearance was received the third platoon opened fire with M60s, M79s, and M16s.
Following the firefight the second squad secured the high ground and the first squad moved down to the river. A search of the area revealed one dead NVA and another wounded not more than 10 meters away.
About the same time, another wounded NVA who had taken flight ran right into the waiting guns of the fourth platoon.
04Jun70-Escape Artillery But Fall to Rifles
FIRE SUPPORT BASE ROSS, Vietnam (Special) - The North Vietnamese Army artilleryman and his six companions moved cautiously in the mid-day heat along the rocky hillside.
Suddenly that peaceful hillside turned into a smoking fury as Marine artillery rounds burst around the heavily laden enemy soldiers. They hurried down in the base of the rocky hill and went through the less hostile rice paddies toward their destination - an enemy base camp.
The NVA artillery noncommissioned officer and three of his comrades never made it. Two Marine scouts and their supporting element made sure of that.
Lance Cpls. R. B. Lejewski and P. D. Murphy, had led a small patrol up onto the hillside to "check out" the area, looking across 100 meters of rice paddies, 100 meters of brush and a small stream and then the command post of II Co., 2nd Bn., 7th Marines, to which they were attached.
"We were sitting behind some rocks resting," said Lejewski. "I looked up and saw two NVA crossing the rice paddy about 100 meters from us."
The scouts opened up with their rifles and killed both enemy soldiers with just two shots.
"Then five more NVA came out of a treeline and started crossing the rice paddy," added Murphy. "I don't think they knew where the shots came from, because they just moved along like nothing had happened."
The two scouts and their security element opened up with rifle fire, killing two more of the enemy. The others escaped in the heavy brush along the stream.
A sweep through the area by the company's reaction element uncovered several heavy packs that the NVA had dropped when they started running from the Marine fire.
04Jun70-Rec Center Opens At China Beach
S&S Vietnam Bureau
DA NANG, Vietnam - With a ceremonial snip of a four-foot long wooden scissors Lt. Gen. Frank T. Mildren, USARV deputy commander, opened the recreation center at China Beach near Da Nang Monday.
And under blue skies, two 4th Inf. Div. troopers moved in for a three-day stay at the U.S. military's refurbished in-country rest and recreation center.
The first two guests were Sgt. 1.C. Laureano River-Baez and S. Sgt. Charles Scott.
The China Beach resort is operated by the Army Support Command, Da Nang. It can accommodate 200 enlisted men and 20 officers at a time. Allocation for spots in the center are issued to field units monthly.
05June70-Boat Brigade Is Bad, Bad News for Reds
By SPEC. 4
S&S Staff Correspondent
FIREBASE LIZ, Vietnam-
"King Arthur" thought it up, and everything went according to plan. The reconnaissance platoon jumped off Vietnamese junks during the night and splashed ashore from the wet landing zone.
Sounds like a scene from a World War II comedy, but to the Viet Cong who were surprised by the boat assault, it wasn't funny.
Lt. Col. Arthur F. Fischer, the battalion commander nicknamed "King Arthur," thought of sending troops in by boat - using the silent approach.
On Sunday, for the second time in two weeks, a reconnaissance platoon from the 11th Brigade, Americal Div., rode 30-foot converted fishing boats into combat.
By dawn, eight hours after the wade-in, the platoon had killed two Viet Cong and captured four suspects.
The Viet Cong had their revenge. One American was killed and two were wounded when a booby trap detonated under their feet later in the morning.
An assault by junk is unusual even in the unconventional war in Vietnam, but the recon platoon had accomplished unorthodox missions before. Only the night before, they'd gone on a night combat assault looking for Viet Cong in an area where gunships had killed six enemy at dusk.
"King Arthur" came up to me one day and said, "Hey, how about going on an amphibious assault," said 1st Lt. Warren T. Waterbury, platoon leader of the recon unit.
A few contacts with a naval advisory team and the project was on.
Not much happened the first time out. "They didn't find much. About all they did was get seasick," said Fischer.
The two junks used to carry the troops bobbed for hours like corks on the choppy waters of the South China Sea. It was dawn by the time the boats hit shore and the intelligence proved false.
But Fischer decided the idea was worth trying again.
"We've tried about everything to catch the VC," sat Waterbury. "They're on to helicopter assaults. We want to try to get in undetected and surprise them."
The second time, the surprise worked.
At 7 p.m., a pair of red and gray wooden boats chugged away from the dock in the tiny Vietnamese fishing and naval compound 30 miles south of Chu Lai. Men, rucksacks and rifles crowded every corner of the decks of the low-slung boats.
They were lucky. The China Sea was gentle and rolling - unlike the huge breakers that had soaked and sickened everyone the first time out.
For two hours the boats chugged along, gradually eating up the 10 miles as the night became blacker.
Finally the motors were cut and the boats drifted in close to shore. Weighted down by 50-pound rucksacks, the men lowered themselves off the bow. Some landed ankle-deep in the salt water. Others sunk in up to their chests, soaking their packs.
Shadowy figures quickly set up a perimeter on the endless sand while the second boatload scrambled ashore. The squad that calls itself "the animals" set out toward the treeline to set up an ambush site to the west.
Suddenly Huyen Bong, the unit's Kit Carson scout, pointed off in the distance. He had spotted some lights in the bushes.
The squad hoisted their packs and moved quietly across the beach and into the scrub brush treeline. Again Bong pointed and sopped the men. He heard voices.
"Robin Hood," as Waterbury is known to his platoon, "Little John," his squad leader, "Maid Marion," the medic, and "Friar Tuck" the platoon sergeant, were alerted.
Bong, the lieutenant and three men crept forward up a slight ridge and stopped again. The voices were Viet Cong. Bong said. "I speak sam-same them. They VC," he told Waterbury.
As the Americans moved in to surround the sand-covered bunker an illumination round burst in the sky a few miles away.
"They must have seen us moving." said Waterbury. "One man ran out and fired a couple of rounds at us with an SKS or carbine. We missed him but go the two guys who came out behind him before they could get a running start."
Besides the two Viet Cong killed, the men captured a man and a woman as suspected Viet Cong in what turned out to be a small, unmapped hamlet of a dozen thatched hootches clustered in the sand.
Another long trudge back through the shrubs and across the beach and the platoon paused to set up for the night. Bong began interrogating the prisoners.
"There beaucoup booby traps he say," Bong said after a few minutes of whispering with the frightened pair. It was midnight by the time anyone got to sleep.
At 5:30 a.m. there was movement on the horizon as the sky turned gray. Robin Hood and his merry men went dashing off across the beach and started a foot race with two black-clad Vietnamese. A bullet through one of the men's shoulder persuaded them to stop and give up.
At dawn, Waterbury made the prisoners walk point and went to check out the hamlet. Nobody was home except a dozen women and children. A search turned up nothing except a few small bags of rice and some drying tobacco leaves.
While one squad searched the hamlet, another moved out to set up an ambush site nearby.
Wham; smoke rose high above the treetops and immediately Waterbury was on the radio.
Booby trap. One American sniper dead, one seriously wounded and a squad member hurt.
After the dustoff chopper swept in, two explosive charges detonated other booby traps which had failed to go off under foot. Pointman Spec. 4 Truman Hall had tossed his pack down on one. The other was found on the pathway the stretcher bearers had taken to the medevac chopper.
By noon the sun was blazing and the recon men fashioned shade from their poncho liners and scrub pines on the edge of the beach, waiting to go on patrol and ambush that night.
A helicopter came in to take out the prisoners and gear that belonged to the dead and wounded.
The men talked about their now-broken streak of luck - no one killed or wounded since December. They didn't talk about it long before the subject changed to more pleasant things - girls or food or the "world."
It was still only the first day of a four-day mission.
06Jun70-Army Lists 10 Officers' New Posts
S&S Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON- The Army has announced new assignments for 10 senior officers now stationed in Vietnam.
They are Brig. Gens. James C. Smith, Herbert E. Wolff, Gordon J. Juquemin, Henry J. Muller Jr., Edwin L. Powell Jr., and Robert M. Shoemaker, and Cols. Richard G. Fazakerley, Will J. Maddox Jr., Louis J. Prost and Thomas H. Tackaberry, all brigadier general selectees.
......Powell to the Test and Evaluation Command Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md........Tackaberry is going to the office of the deputy chief of staff for personnel at the Pentagon in mid-June.
07Jun70-37 Civilians Killed In Enemy Shellings
S&S Vietnam Bureau
SAIGON - Enemy mortar and rocket crew killed 37 civilians Thursday and early Friday in heavy fighting which also saw three American helicopters shot down, according to the U.S. Command.
Twenty 82mm mortar shells slammed into Huong An refugee hamlet near Hoi An and about 20 miles south-southeast of Da Nang killing 22 civilians, wounding 19 and destroying 33 homes early Thursday morning according to the Vietnamese Command.
Seven more civilians were killed and 11 were wounded when Communist gunners fired seven 122mm rockets into Phuc Thanh hamlet about 40 miles southeast of Da Nang, Vietnamese military officials reported.
In the same general area, enemy troops shelled and then attacked four Regional and Popular Forces positions near Tam Ky City but were driven back with 17 killed and three captured, according to Vietnamese military spokesmen who termed Vietnamese casualties "light."
09Jun70-Photo Caption - Sgt. Michael Larkins (left ) and Lt. Lou Dougherty display the 300-pound tiger Larkins killed when the animal charged him. The Leathernecks were on a mission 17 miles northwest of Da Nang when they ran into the animal (USMC).
Unfriendly Tiger Comes Up 2nd Best in Test With Marine (Note-B/123rd Avn Bn had killed at least 2 tigers in the Americal AO).
DA NANG, Vietnam (Special) - Six members of E Co., 1st Recon Bn., 1st Marine Div. had been working in an area of Elephant Valley, 17 miles northwest of Da Nang, for four days. Now all that remained of their mission was to wait for the extraction helicopter that would return them to their battalion area.
The Leathernecks had set up a defensive position around the landing zone early in the morning. The scanned the surrounding area for movement and hoped for the quick arrival of the chopper.
Sgt. Michael L. Larkins positioned himself on a trail that led to the landing zone. Suddenly he spotted some movement approximately 150 feet in front of him. He motioned to the Marine beside him to remain quiet and still. Again Larkins detected the movement, but this time he was able to distinguish it. Staring at him through the bushes was the striped face of a 300-pound tiger.
Larkins took aim with his M16 rifle and fired. The bullet caught the animal in the throat and dropped him to the ground. The tiger began to growl and thrash around. Larkins, not wanting to take any chances, shot him again.
Lt. Lou E. Daugherty, the team leader was positioned on the other side of the landing zone when he heard the first shot fired. "I thought we had enemy contact," recalled the lieutenant. Daugherty began making his way in the direction of the fire. Then he and Larkins approached the tiger and discovered it was dead.
10Jun70-Convoy Nightmare Erased As Units Clear Highway 1
By SPEC. 4 PETER R. SORENSEN
FSB BRONCO, Vietnam (Special) - The highway is quiet save for the occasional puttering of a civilian vehicle. It is morning and the black asphalt has just begun to radiate the heat from a new day's sun. The roadsides are littered with undefinable rusted metal parts and the decaying skeletons of once lumbering vehicles. All bear silent witness to the landscape's treacherous past.
Highway 1, south from Duc Pho 15 miles to now abandoned Firebase Lowboy on the southern border of the 11th Infantry Brigade's area of operation was once a convoy commander's nightmare. "Ambush Alley" and "Engineer Pass" do not have any identifying road signs, nor do they appear on maps, but Americal Div. soldiers in the area can easily point out the real estate in transients.
Just south of Firebase Debbie Highway 1 assumes uncharacteristic curves and bends. Hills thickly covered with foliage and rocks rise up to the west. Also the west, the remnants of a destroyed French railroad parallel the road. At stretches foothills rise on both sides of the highway and dense vegetation has edged its way to the road's side.
"Before we started the 'minesweep-south" the NVA hit this section everyday with ambushes, mines and booby-traps," said Spec. 5 Richard D. Throm of D Co., 4th Bn., 21st Inf.
That was about four months ago. Now every morning, a team composed of infantry, engineers, artillery, armor and aviation insure that the highway remains open.
A light observation helicopter from the 11th Inf. Brigade flies a morning reconnaissance of the area radioing its finding to the sweep team. Gunships are on call, if needed.
C Co. of the 26th Engineer Bn., leads the column with a heavily-armed squad riding in a converted five-ton dump, "pressure-test truck." "We also sweep with mine detectors along the road and check culverts for mines each day," reported 1st Lt. Charles D. Butt.
A varying number of armored personnel carriers (APC) and "Sheridan" combat assault vehicles are scattered throughout the convoy, Said Sgt. Randall Fox, APC driver. "If we're hit, I swing in to face the action and put down a heavy base of fire for maneuver elements." E Troop, 1st Cav., also places their armored tracks in stationary strategic locations along the route.
Sgt. Norman N. Roberts leads a reaction force of a squad of infantrymen from the 4th Bn., 21st inf. "We;re put down to engage enemy elements and seek out snipers. These men are all experienced, having spent a minimum of eight months in the field."
Artillery provides a forward observer in constant communication with batteries from surrounding firebases. G Btry., 55th Arty., is represented by quad-mounted .50 caliber machine guns. "Our 'VC Eater' alternates mornings with another quad-.50, from Firebase Debbie. The quads can put down heavy fire and cover a lot of area. The last time we made contact, a couple of days ago, a '.50' expended 8,000 rounds," said Sgt. Steve Cole.
Each morning silence is ruptured by the roar of the column as it "recons by fire" through the once deadly gauntlet. "In four months of operation, we've been sniped at maybe six times," said Throm. From ambushes everyday, the enemy has been forced to retreat to feeble harassment of the section.
10Jun70-Red Medicines Assist Marines' MEDCAPs
LANDING ZONE BALDY, Vietnam (Special) - A Marine's decision to dig himself a fighting hole in his unit's command post area turned out to be a blessing for the Vietnamese people in the area and a definite morale depressant for the enemy.
The Marines of B. Co., 1st Bn., 7th Marines, 1st Marine Div., had just discovered a Viet Cong base camp complex, about 16 miles southeast of Da Nang, and were inspecting their find. One Marine decided to "dig in" for the night and discovered an ammunition can with his first few shovel probes.
"It looked like a swarm of locusts," said 2nd Lt. Richard Mansfield, of his unit's digging for other enemy equipment.
Just below the ammo box the Marines found a sandbag filled with little bottles. Their value; an estimated $4,000. The contained a large supply of penicillin and streptomycin, two of the most important medicines to the enemy - and the Vietnamese people.
Bravo Co. turned the medicines over to the battalion S-2, who in turn gave them to the battalion aid station.
Since then, U.S. Navy doctors and hospital corpsmen of the aid station have conducted several MEDCAPS (Medical Civic Action PRogram) into the same area where the medicines were found, using the antibiotics to treat the people once threatened by the same enemy that lost them.
10Jun70-ROK 'Blue Dragons' Learn How to Hide
By SPEC. 4 YUNG KEUN KIM
S&S Staff Correspondent
HOI AN, Vietnam - On the beach of the South China Sea, a highly decorated U.S. Marine officer has taught his own modern reconnaissance skills to Korean "Blue Dragon" Marines who wear the hair style of Mohawk Indians.
"To be a good recon member," said the instructor, 1st Lt. Clovis Coffman, quoting a general's saying. "You must be strong, smart and sometimes crazy."
For that matter, Korean trainees claim, they are well qualified.
"Koreans are highly motivated and better disciplined, and they are the best students I've ever had," said Coffman, who says he has trained numerous Vietnamese and Malaysian soldiers.
"I always wanted to behave as a real Marine, and I found the cubic training most manly," said a trainee, Koreans called it cubic training because it contains air, water and ground trainings.
Coffman, 38, the author of "Reconnaissance Marine," joined the Marines in 1949 as a enlisted man and has won all valor medals up to and including the Distinguished Service Medal, according to 2nd Lt. Wayne Morris of the 3rd Force Reconnaissance Company.
Coffman and 10 members of his company worked form 6:30 a.m to 10:30 between May 22 and June 5 to teach Korean Marines up-to-date recon tactics, said Morris.
"Koreans are individually strong and they have strong desire to learn," said Morris, But most trainees know that they will be employed in the most dangerous and toughest missions after the training, and that if they don't learn successfully they will, as a trainee said, "end up dead."
Although the physical status of Koreans is as good as that of Americans, Koreans could not catch up as fast as Americans with some lessons such as communication and weaponry because of the difference in language, said Morris.
The trainees, the first ROK Marines to be taught modern recon tactics in Vietnam, left their home base Sunday for a five-day combined training session with American recon Marines, according to the spokesman.
After the training they will conduct a 15-day combined operation in which three or four Koreans will be scattered into American recon squads, according to the spokesman.
And, finally, they will be the members of the first ROK Marine recon company in Vietnam which Gen. Lee Dong Yon, the ROK Blue Dragon Marine Brigade commander, is planning to form in then near future.
11Jun70- PACIFIC Stars And Stripes 10 cents Vol. 26, No. 161; AN AUTHORIZED UNOFFICIAL PUBLICATION FOR THE U.S. ARMED FORCES OF THE PACIFIC COMMAND Thursday, June 11, 1970.
PHOTO CAPTION - Charges by the Army against Capt. Thomas K. Willingham (center) in the alleged My Lai massacre have been dropped. He is shown with his attorney, Robert McKinley (left) and Capt. Jerold Allen, staff judge advocate, in Fort Meade, Md. (AP Radiophoto)
Captain Freed in My Lai Case
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Army Tuesday dismissed all charges against one of the officers accused in connection with the alleged My Lai massacre, the Pentagon announced.
The Army said that "based upon available evidence, no further action should be taken in the prosecution of those charges against Capt. Thomas K. Willingham, 25, of Allenhurst, J.J.
This was the first announcement of charges being dropped against any of the accused in the My Lai case. Thirteen men have been charged with murder, rape, assault and other offenses in connection with he incident on March 16, 1968, in South Vietnam.
Two other soldiers are under investigation along with 22 civilians who had been released from the ARmy.
In addition, 13 other officers have been charged with dereliction of duty and other charges in a field investigation of the alleged massacre in the village of Song My and My Lai hamlet.
Willingham was charged with unpremeditated murder, making false official statements and misprision of a felony.
The officer was serving with B Company, Fourth Battalion, 3rd Infantry, Americal Division at the time of the incident.
His company was operating about two miles east of C Company in a sweep through the Song My-My Lai area. All of the others charged were in C Company under the command of Capt. Ernest Medina.
The Army said Willingham would now be released from active duty as soon as necessary administrative procedure could be completed. His tour of duty expired last Feb. 10, but he was kept on active duty pending the investigation and disposition of charges against him. Willingham is a native of Washington, D.C., and was graduated from Murray State College in Murray, Ky. He is married.
He is now assigned to Fort McPherson, Ga., but is stationed at Fort Meade, Md.
11Jun70-ARVN Slay 28 Reds
S&S Vietnam Bureau
American military officials reported one crewman rescued and one missing after enemy gunners shot down a Marine Corps F4 tactical jet in Quang Nam Province 28 miles southwest of Da Nang on Sunday. They said this brings to 417 the number of U.S. fixed-wing aircraft downed by enemy fire over South Vietnam.
Flareships illuminated the battle zone for Americal Div. infantrymen locked in contact with enemy troops from late afternoon until an hour before midnight Monday 33 miles southwest of Da Nang. The enemy hit the 196th Brigade element with mortars, machine guns and rifles 23 miles west of Tam Ky and continued to fight despite air, artillery and gunship strikes. The enemy pulled back at 11:00 p.m., leaving four dead. U.S. casualties were two killed and 10 wounded, according to the U.S. command.
Also in Quang Tin Province another 196th Brigade element of the Americal Div. killed five enemy and captured one during a two-hour battle 22 miles west northwest of Tam Ky and 32 miles south-southwest of Da Nang, according to U.S. military spokesmen. They listed friendly casualties as one Vietnamese killed and five U.S. soldiers wounded.
An artillery forward observer from the 196th Brigade spotted eight enemy troops patrolling 12 miles northwest of Tam Ky and 71 miles southeast of Da Nang Monday night. He called in gunships which killed seven of the enemy according to the U.S. command.
12Jun70- Photo Caption - Americache Division
Two Americal Div. soldiers stand guard over a cache of Communist 122mm rockets captured just west of Chu Lai, Vietnam. The rockets, a main weapon in the Red arsenal, were captured by C Co., 5th Bn., 46th Inf., 198th Inf. Brigade, after a recent attack on Chu Lai.
13Jun70-Sapper Attack Thwarted
FIRE SUPPORT BASE 4-11, Vietnam (Special) - Without an enemy round being fired, Americal Div. soldiers here recently nipped a midnight sapper attack in the bud, killing 10 VC and detaining two.
A large number of enemy weapons including two rocket propelled grenade launchers, two AK47s, one AK50, one 9mm pistol, 76 Chicom grenades, 10 RPG rounds ,11 B40 rockets, and one five-pound satchel charge were seized in the aborted attack on this 3rd Bn., 1st Inf. firebase.
Near midnight, three enemy sappers had advanced through the perimeter wire when a fourth sapper, with an RPG launcher slung over his shoulder, touched off a trip flare. "I looked in front of me and there were a dozen of them just frozen in place," said Spec. 4 Jerry D. Parker.
The bunker line opened up with rifle and machine-gun fire. Hand grenade and claymore mine shrapnel showered in the area. Constant illumination, intermingled with accurate mortar fire from the 81mm and 4.2 mortar sections, encircled the perimeter as the 11th Inf. Brigade soldiers methodically dispatched the intruders.
After the fire subsided, a sweep of the area was made. The bodies of two sappers armed with RPG launchers were discovered on the wire. One VC still clutched a pair of wire cutters. A third sapper, awestruck at the fate of his fellow comrades, threw his arms in the air and surrendered.
14Jun70-Medina: Don't Judge Me Unless You've Been There
WASHINGTON (UPI) - To the stocky man, wearing his life's work in rows of campaign ribbons, it seems a simple truth: if you've never been there, you can't judge those who were.
The soldier is Ernest L. Medina, 33, Captain of Infantry, accused of murdering "not less" than 175 persons at My Lai 4 in South Vietnam on March 16, 1968. Now involved in the maze of military justice, Medina is forbidden to speak of that day. He can talk about the way it is for a foot soldier in combat.
"I don't think any individual who has never been in combat, that has never been to Vietnam, that has never been through the misery of living in mud, in the rain, in the heat, in the cold, that has never been shot at in anger, that has not had to watch his friends die or his blood spilling on the ground, can really formulate an opinion and be very objective about it."
Medina was questioned by a team of reporters in a special UPI "Washington Window" interview. Although under military court orders to make no public statements about the events at My Lai, the captain's legal advisers permitted discussion of two specific issues Medina had talked about earlier.
First, was what happened at My Lai, as President Nixon said it appeared to be a massacre?
Medina: "As I have stated on numerous occasions, I neither ordered a massacre nor did I see one take place."
Second, did Medina, as specifically charged, kill a Vietnamese woman near a rice paddy?
Displaying little emotion, the Captain recounted the incident. He said a helicopter pilot had dropped smoke to mark a Viet Cong body so U.S. troops could search for weapons.
Medina: "As I approached, I noticed it was a woman. I looked in the area and noticed there was no weapon. I turned and as I moved away from the area and as I was turning I noticed movement from the woman. The first thing that entered my mind was that she would have a hand grenade or a weapon. And I immediately spun around and instinctively fired and I shot the woman."
Aside from that, Medina said, his only other use of a firearm that day was to kill a water buffalo.
Medina, who commanded Company C, First Battalion, 20th Infantry, could say little more about the events at My Lai, but he spoke freely of his outfit and of the fatigue and frustrations he and his men encountered.
"I felt I had the finest company in the United States Army and that the individuals serving under me were outstanding soldiers," the New Mexico-born and Colorado-reared officer said. But he also said physical weariness and low morale were problems in his company.
"I know that the people were tired. I know that they were frustrate. It becomes very frustrating and morale becomes very low, particularly when the man in front of you steps on a mine and he gets killed.
"We had a number of individuals who were killed and wounded by mines and booby traps. This type of thing you cannot fight back... I believe it's the most demoralizing thing the individual soldier must face. He doesn't know if the next step he's going to take may be his last."
The Captain said he saw no one in his unit using marijuana prior to My Lai - a possibility raised by a Senate investigating subcommittee headed by Sen. Thomas J. Dodd, D-Conn., - and "so I do not think that marijuana played any part in this particular operation."
Medina had some firm ideas about public reaction to the war. He said the fact that television was bringing uncensored films of the fighting into American living rooms for the first time - which he favored - shaped antiwar opinion in a way never experienced in any previous war.
On the other hand, he said "there is no real involvement by everybody in the United States." he recalled that in World War II, when he was an altar boy taking part in military funerals and memorial services, almost all Americans either had or knew someone in the service and everyone felt the pinch of rationing.
"In this war, everybody isn't involved. It's increased the standard of living for the individual. He's not concerned about what's happening over there. He turns on his television set and he sees what's going on."
Then with more feeling than he permitted to show while talking about the specifics of Vietnam, Medina went on to declare that those who stay at home can never really understand what it is like to suffer and see death in war.
"I believe that there are certain people who understand it. But I feel that as a majority, the American people don't."
What about his fellow officers?
"Well, I'm presently stationed at Fort Benning (GA.) Infantry officers who have served in Vietnam as rifle company commanders or infantry officers with infantry units - they are very sympathetic.... I think many of them feel that it could be them, instead of me."
Medina has been charged with several specific murders and with torturing and assaulting prisoners as well as responsibility for at least 175 persons who died at My Lai. The Army still is conducting an investigation which will determine whether he must stand trial. The investigation was expected to last into the fall.
How does a man accused of murdering 175 human beings feel?
"Well, the charges are very overwhelming, very staggering, when you read them and realize what the Army is trying to prove against you. And it's very difficult to express your feelings on it. It scares you."
Would Medina, a man so eager to be a soldier that he got his unschooled Mexican-American grandparents to sign his National Guard enlistment papers when he was only 15 years old , go back to Vietnam?
Medina recalled how he explained about his will and his insurance to his wife as he prepared to leave for Vietnam, "and I tried to explain to the kids that if something should happen and I didn't come back, they should be able to continue on and not think that their father was killed in vain.
"Now, she has brought this up on numerous occasions because of the charges in the incident, But I think that because I am a soldier - it is my career, a professional soldier - I would go back to Vietnam if they ordered me."
15Jun70-GIs Withstand 5 Red Assaults Near Hiep Duc
S&S Vietnam Bureau
SAIGON - Americal Div. soldiers killed 33 Reds in an eight-hour fight in flatlands near Hiep Duc, 32 miles southwest of Da Nang. Friday morning in one of five major attacks on Americal troops within two miles of the village, the U.S. Command said Saturday.
Hiep Duc has been the scene of recurrent fighting. The last big battle came last May.
Heavy enemy small arms and mortar fire shattered stillness of the early morning hours for the 196th Brigade soldiers, and they returned fire with M60 machine guns and M16s. Crashing artillery fire, aerial rocket-firing helicopter gunships and Air Force jets aided the pinned-down Americans, U.S. military spokesmen said.
Finally, eight hours later, the enemy withdrew leaving 33 of their number dead, one crew-served and five individual weapons behind. The American force, which took one killed and 15 wounded, also destroyed five of the enemy's bunkers, the spokesmen said.
After that fire fight was over, another 196th Brigade unit nearby began taking a heavy mortar attack. U.S. military spokesmen said about 20 rounds of 82mm mortar fire smashed into the infantry position causing light casualties with no one killed and no equipment damaged.
Early in the evening the unit that repelled the morning ground attack was hit again, this time with about 10 rounds of 82mm mortar shells. The soldiers in their night defensive position took light casualties with no fatalities according to the U.S. Command.
A few minutes later the troopers spotted about 40 enemy soldiers near their position and called for helicopter gunships. The pilots blasted the enemy with aerial rockets, while door gunners opened up with machine guns to kill 10 enemy. The U.S. Command said there were no U.S. casualties.
A few hours later, early Saturday morning, about 35 rounds of 82mm mortar shells and 75mm recoilless rifle rounds smashed into the night position of another nearby infantry unit causing very light casualties with no Americans killed, U.S. military spokesmen said.
To the south in Quang Ngai Province Friday morning, Americal Div. soldiers spotted six enemy soldiers and opened up on them, killing five of the six and capturing four weapons. There were no U.S. casualties, U.S. military spokesmen said.
Elsewhere in Vietnam ........
16Jun70-Fighting at Hiep Duc Slows; Other Battle Action Scattered
S&S Vietnam Bureau
SAIGON - Fighting eased Saturday around the village of Hiep Duc, 32 miles south of Da Nang, where Americal Div. infantrymen fought repeated battles with Red soldiers Friday, according to the U.S. Command.
Four miles east of Hiep Duc Saturday troops from the Americal's 196th Brigade clashed with troops firing mortars, small arms and rocket-propelled grenades a command spokesman reported.
The American GIs called in artillery and helicopter gunship support, and the Reds withdrew with unknown losses, he said. U.S. casualties were one killed and 16 wounded.
At about the same time a regional force company 12 miles to the east killed eight Reds and captured two individual weapons in a brief fight, according to a Vietnamese military spokesman.
One regional force soldier was reported wounded in the fighting, the spokesman said.
To the north, a combined unit pacification team in a night defensive position 19 miles southwest of Da Nang came under attack by Red soldiers firing rocket-propelled grenades and small arms and hurling satchel charges, the U.S. military spokesman said.
The team - composed of a regional force company and U.S. Leathernecks from the 5th Regt., 1st Marine Div., returned fire and called in artillery and mortar barrages, the spokesman said.
After a searing two-hour fight, the Reds withdrew with unknown losses, he said. Three Marines were reported killed and four wounded, and the spokesman described the regional force casualties as "light."
In a delayed report, the U.S. command announced that two Americans were wounded and one is missing in the crash of an Army light observation helicopter downed by Red ground fire 22 miles west of Tam Ky.
20Jun70-GIs Kill 11 Enemy in I Corps
S&S Vietnam Bureau
SAIGON - Fighting throughout Vietnam continued to be spotty Wednesday, according to field reports reaching Allied headquarters here.
For American forces, most of the action came in southern I Corps - the five northern provinces of Vietnam - where Marine artillerymen and Americal Div. infantrymen counted 11 enemy killed in two separate engagements. According to the U.S. command, there were no GI losses in the battles.
23Jun70- Stien Heads MAG-13
CHU LAI, Vietnam (Special) -
Col. Laurence J. Stien has succeeded Col. Thomas E. Murphree here as commanding officer of Marine Aircraft Group 13. Murphree has been assigned to Marine Corps headquarters in Washington.
25Jun70- 9 Others Still Accused
Clear 3 Army Officers of Covering Up My Lai
Photo Caption: LEFT TO RIGHT: BRIG. GEN. GEORGE YOUNG JR., MAJ. ROBERT MC KNIGHT AND COL. NELS PARSON (AP)
WASHINGTON (AP) - A general and two other officers were cleared by the Army Tuesday of charges they helped cover up the alleged Son My-My Lai massacre in South Vietnam two years ago.
Exonerated were Brig. Gen. George H. Young Jr., Col. Nels A. Parson and Maj. Robert W. McKnight.
The Army said Lt. Gen. Jonathan O. Seaman, First Army commander at Fort Meade, Md., to whom the charges were referred for investigation, determined they "were unsupported by the evidence."
The three were among 14 high-ranking Army officers accused earlier this year of hushing up a field investigation of the alleged massacre.
Nine, others, including Maj. Gen Samuel W. Koster, remain accused of dereliction of duty while the Army determines if there is enough evidence to hold them for courts-martial.
As Army commission headed by Lt. Gen. William R. Peers announced last March 17 after an extensive 3 1/2-month investigation that "there was testimony and evidence to indicate that certain persons, wittingly or unwittingly, suppressed certain evidence about the incident from passing up the chain of command."
Koster, who requested reassignment form his post as superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point when the charges were announced, was the commanding general of the Americal Div., parent of the task force which swept through the My Lai area March 16, 1968.
In addition to the 12 who were accused of hushing up the investigation, 12 other Army officers and enlisted men in the task force were charged with murder and other crimes in the alleged massacre at Son My, village, My Lai hamlet.
These include Capt. Ernest L. Medina, charged with over-all responsibility in the death of as many as 175 civilians, and 1st Lt William L. Calley, Jr., accused of 102 deaths. Four of these 12, including Calley have been ordered to stand trial.
The dismissal of charges against Young, Parson and McKnight brought to five the number of officers cleared of complicity in the alleged coverup. Capt. Thomas K. Willingham, 25, of Allenhurst, N.J., was cleared June 9. He was accused of unpremeditated murder and of covering up the massacre. A cover-up accusation against Medina also was dropped.
Both Young, 49, of Pine Bluff, Ark., and Parson, 50, of Toledo, Ohio, were charged with failure to obey lawful regulations and dereliction in the performance of their duties. McKnight 37, of San Diego, Calif., was accused of false swearing.
At the time of the massacre, Young was assistant commander of the Americal Division while Parson served as chief of staff. McKnight was operations manager of the division's 11th Brigade.
29Jun70-23 GIs Hurt In Helos
S&S Vietnam Bureau
SAIGON - Twenty-three GIs were wounded Friday when enemy gunners hot down two UH1 helicopters during a combat assault 31 miles west-southwest of Tam Ky, the U.S. command reported.
Enemy casualties were listed as one killed in the assault by 11th Brigade troops of the Americal Div. No Americans were reported killed, according to the command.
Americal Div. 196th Brigade elements 72 miles south-southeast of Da Nang uncovered an eight-ton cache of enemy rice which had apparently been grown locally.
29Jun70-GIs 'Big Brother' to 5th Graders
CHU LAI, Vietnam (Special) - A group of Americal Div. soldiers is helping a class of fifth graders back home solve such major problems as how to keep an older sister from monopolizing the bathroom.
Troop D, 1st Sq., 1st Armored Cav., is the new adviser to fifth graders from the Wesley School in Addison, Ill. The soldiers received letters from the children last month and have been carefully answering the queries.
In addition to the letters asking for a "big brother's" advice, the letters express concern for the safety of the Americans in Vietnam and a deep interest in the war zone conditions.
The children repeatedly asked for words and pictures describing what Vietnam is like.
The greetings ranged from the casual "hi buddy," to the sincere "dear hero," The body of the letters explained the purpose for writing and varied from the "I am writing to make a new friend," to "well, it was either this or social studies, so here I am."
Although there weren't enough letters to go around, every "Delta trooper" with the desire to write back and gain a new friend received a letter.
29Jun70-Pilots Take 'Dips,' Dish 'em Out Too
CHU LAI, Vietnam (Special) - Two Marines got an unwelcome bath in the South China Sea and the Vietnamese Navy gained two friends and 12 gallons of ice cream.
Action began when 1st Lt. Robert J. Cecks and 1st Lt. Gary K. Bruce were forced to eject from their F4B Phantom recently.
The two aviators from Marine Fighter Attack sq. 314 managed to guide their Phantom out over the water before ejecting.
"We were spotted floating down by a Vietnamese navy gunboat and it reached us after we had spent only about half an hour in the water," commented Cecks, the pilot of the downed aircraft.
The two Marines were grateful for the quick rescue and decided to send the crew a "token of appreciation."
"We heard that the time honored tradition concerning sea rescues is for the aviators to give the ship's crew ice cream," Cecks said.
When the two Marines returned to their squadron they set out to honor the tradition.
"We had no trouble getting the ice cream, but we felt a little silly climbing aboard a C117 with 12 gallons of it and a 150-pound block of ice to keep it cold," the pilot said.
When their plane landed in Dong Ha, the Marines made arrangements with the Army to fly the ice cream to the ship by helicopter.
"The crew was thrilled to get the ice cream but actually they couldn't have been much happier to see it than we were to see them on our first meeting," Cecks said.
God of love,
God of might,
Oh God, I pray,
In prayer this night,
Will I die,
In this hell alone
Never to see,
The shores of home?
As I lay
Upon a grassy bed,
With only some leaves
To comfort my head.
Will I die
Within my dreams
Guided by a flare's
Now at twilight,
At the edge of sleep
I close this prayer,
And gently weep.
And now I dream
My dreams of home
And feel that with God,
I'm never alone.
PFC Edward C. McCrea
HHC 1/20th, 11th LIB
S&S Vietnam Bureau
SAIGON - ............
Near Quang Ngai City, 80 miles south-southeast of Da Nang, a combined action platoon of American Marines and Vietnamese soldiers spotted sic enemy soldiers and called in artillery fire to kill five of them Saturday afternoon, Military spokesmen said the platoon took no casualties.