Skip Fahels Maps of 1967 Bravo Company Action
Index to narrative and maps (or just scroll thru all)
May 1967 Narrative and Maps
June 1967 Narrative Only
July 1967 Narrative and Maps
August 1967 Narrative and Map
September 1967 Narrative and Maps
October 1967 Narrative and Maps
November 1967 Narrative, Maps and some pictures
December 1967 Narrative, Maps and some pictures
Extra maps with no dialogue. They represent most of 2nd/22nd areas of operation and Dautieng
(Note: Most maps are scaled down, double clicking on those will enlarge the map)
May 1967 (Narrative and four maps)
First 15 Days With the 3rd Platoon, Bravo, 2-22
After receiving a briefing from the Battalion XO at the base camp at Dau Tieng (Camp Rainier), I was taken to the company area and meet LT Jack Pryor, the company XO. He briefed me on the company and company commander. CPT John C. Bialkowski. I would be joining LT Tom Tracy, 1st platoon leader and LT Bill Addison, the 2nd platoon leader, replacing LT Scott Coonce as the 3rd platoon leader. The 4th (Weapons) platoon was lead by the platoon sergeant. After the briefing he directed me to the platoon leaders tent where I could store my belongings and then to the supply tent to draw my equipment. After storing my belonging and drawing my equipment I was taken to the helicopter pad to wait for the helicopter to take me to the battalion. I got on an OH-23, my first helicopter ride, to go out to the Battalion. One of the first things that I saw after taking off was Nui Ba Den (Black Virgin Mountain), which would be a focal point during my first tour.
The battalion was in the final phases of Operation Junction City, operating in the area around the Special Forces Camp at Prek Klok (North of Tay Ninh City). We landed at the battalion laager position and I was directed to the Battalion Commander, LTC Ralph Julian. LTC Julian welcomed me to the battalion and informed me that the B Company Commander, CPT Bialkowski would be coming to pick me up.
The company had four platoons, 3 rifle platoons and a weapons platoon, each platoon having 4 APC’s (Armor Personal Carrier)/Tracks. The weapons platoon APC’s carried one 81mm mortars in each track, with the fourth carrying the platoon leader and FDC (Fire Direction Center). In addition, the command group consisted of 2 APC’s, the company commander and the communications/maintenance track for a total of 16 APC’s. Each of the APC’s had a .50 Cal machine gun.
CPT Bialkowski picked me up in his M-113 APC and we headed back to the company area. There I was introduced to the First Sergeant, Arthur Werner, (Who served with Merrill’s Marauders in WWII). CPT Bialkowski briefed me on the current company operations and mission. He then called for LT Coonce telling me LT Coonce would be staying with me for a day or two.
LT Coonce came and took me to the platoon area. As we walked around the platoon, he introduced me to the platoon Sergeant, the squad leaders, and other men of the platoon. The platoon authorized troop strength of 44 men, but only had 27 in the field at this time (Never got over 30 men in the field and as low as 18).
After the tour of the platoon, we walked back to the 3-1 track, my home for the next 8 months. The 3-1 track was the 1st squad of the platoon. The other tracks in the platoon were the 3-2, 3-3, 3-4.
SGT Slater was the first squad leader, PFC Tom Priesthoff the track driver, and SP4 Tom Izbicki my RTO (Radio Telephone Operator). In addition to the PRC25 radio, Izbicki weapon of choice was the M60 machine gun. My call sign on the radio was Fullback Bravo 3-6 or just 3-6, my RTO was 3-6 X-Ray.
I was lucky that for the first month, the Platoon did not see any direct action. We had a variety of missions and covered a lot of ground in the Brigade area of operation. This quiet time gave me a good opportunity to get to know the men and the men to know me. It provided the time needed to get accustomed to the life in the field and gain confidence in my leadership and decision-making, and work on my map reading.
Most of the men of the platoon trained together at Fort Lewis, and came to Vietnam on a boat. In later years, they are referred to as the “Boat Originals”, where all others, like me, are the “replacements.”
It was an advantage being assigned to a mechanized unit because you did not have to carry everything on your back. When we went dismounted, all we had to carry was our ammo, water, and a few rations for the day. We were able to carry an increase load of ammo, an extra M-60 machine-gun, this was in addition to the Izbicki’s M60. All added to our firepower. It made movement easier, and once we did get into contact, you appreciated the lightweight. Another noteworthy item about a mechanized unit was the firepower available. If you got into contact, and the tracks were with you, it was great to see the jungle and anything else being torn apart by the .50 cal. Also, the three 81mm mortars were there to provide that quick fire support
However, if you carried everything with you, there was no need to go back to the base camp. We would only use the base camp to get the other side. We would pass through the base camp entering by one gate and going out the other, stopping only long enough to get fuel and some supplies, and then continue the movement. We did not stop and spend the night at Camp Rainier until July, and that night was cut short.
However, even with the lighter load, the first few weeks were difficult on me. When we were dismounted, I had my steel pot, flack jacket, water, M-16, 45. Cal., compass, maps, and 1 or 2 cans of C-rations, not much of a load. What made it hard was the heat and humidity. Within 10 minutes of starting the movement on foot, I was dripping wet from sweat, and exhausted. Nothing could prepare you for the introduction to the climate. During that first month, I lost 20 pounds. But over time, you got use to the climate.
The movement through the bamboo was the hardest and took the most out of you. I can still remember Izbicki’s using every four-letter word you could use going through the bamboo one day. Cutting trail through the thick jungle was not too bad if there was a high ceiling of trees to keep you in the shade. In the jungle you had to contend with all the insects, and especially the red ants. The worst thing that could happen was to have a nest of red ant’s drop from the tress on you. Then at night, the mosquito, thank god for the insect repellent. Walking the rice paddies was easy, but you did have the sun bearing down on you. We had the advantage of operation on relative level terrain with many clear areas. We did not have to climb up and down and hills or mountains.
We could return to the tracks at night, we would have a hot meal, cold drinks (to include beer), ice, and other comforts that were not available to the other infantry units. Being mechanized, we could get resupply and mail every day. We carry everything in our tracks; we had radios, chairs, tables, clothes, soft drinks, beer, blankets, pillows, paper and pens, reading materials. I remember getting into the track one day after resupply, and all the ammo was under the cases of beer and soft drinks. The tracks also provided excellent protection from small arms fire, weather, and a dry place to sleep. At night, I had a cot set up in the track to sleep on. Later, I would sleep on the bench of the APC. But I would always sleep with my boots on.
During these first 15 days, the platoon conducted sweeping operations, both mounted and dismounted, provided road security, went on night ambush patrols. We ran the road between Dau Tieng and Tay Ninh and around the Black Virgin Mountain. The company went deep into War Zone C and operated around the Prek Klok firebase. The company came under ineffective mortar fire and some sniper fire, but no heavy contact. However, several times, other companies in the battalion were in heavy contact.
On May 17th and 18th the company was engaged in its first heavy contact with me as the platoon leader of the 3rd Platoon. The contact resulted in lost of seven brothers of the 2nd platoon (Larry A. Crisci, Robert M. DeDominic, Lynn C Hays, James R. Michael, Jasper N. Newberry, Andrew J. Short, Roger D. Thompson) and one from the 1st Platoon (Allen K. Dearden) with 14 WIA (All from 2nd Platoon), with 2 M-113 destroyed.
Here is a list brothers that were with me in the 3rd Platoon, Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion (Mech), 22nd Infantry Regiment, Vietnam 1967-68. (If you know of any one that is not listed, or have complete name, please let me know)
Kenneth Anderson, Meduardo Archuleta, Richard Bartels, Gary Beeman, James Blount, Joseph Brecko, Richard Cobb, John Cooper, Thomas Cox, Clyde Davidson, David Fisher, Tony Fusco, Elton Gill, Kenneth Gladdish, Donald Gregg, William Hawkins, Joe Huerta, Thomas Izbicki, Richard Jensen, Jacki Johnson, Edward Kubisky, Raymond Lee, John Lesher, James Meek, Melvin Pichon, Thomas Priesthoff, Ron Russell, Tracy Slater, Willie Smith, PFC Stroup, Thomas Tuluzek, John Yoshikane, Dan Vannoy, Alan Zweig. (Brothers of the 3rd platoon that gave their all: Thomas Priesthoff, David Fisher, James Meek (Medic), Edward Kubisky, Dan Vannoy.)
Overview for May17-18 1967
May 18 1967 (one of two)
May 18 1967 (Two of two)
June 1967 (Narrative only, no maps)
With the beginning of the monsoon season in late May, and getting our daily heavy downpour in June, we were happy to have the tents to stay dry. However, we did have flooding after each rain. Two to three inches of standing water and mud in our tents. The floors of the tents had wood pallets so we did not have to walk in the water or mud except when we were out side. A few hours after the rains, the ground would be dry again.
The company received replacement troops for the 2nd platoon, a new 2nd LT for it’s platoon leader, and 3 replacement M-113’s. The new platoon leader was 2nd LT Joe Weiss. LT Weiss was later moved to the Weapons Platoon, and then to Battalion. LT Weiss ended up in a Brigade assistant staff position.
On one occasion, the 3rd platoon mission was to provide security for an LZ. This required the platoon travel some distance on the streets of Saigon. The platoon was making good time in the traffic, when a MP jeep pulled up along the lead M-113, and directed the M-113 to pull over to the side of the road. The squad leaded directed one of the MP’s back to my track. The MP came up to my track, and I leaned over and asked what he wanted. The MP asked for our “convoy clearance.” I told the MP that I did not know what he was talking about, and I was on a mission to secure a LZ. The MP said that he did not care; I still need a convoy clearance for the platoon to be on the road.
I call the CPT Bialkowski and told him what was happening. He told me to hold tight, and he would get back to me. Thirty minutes later, CPT Bialkowski called and informed me that the MP should be getting a call giving me permission to proceed. The MP received a radio message and the platoon was able to move out and secured the LZ before the choppers came in.
The company did not have any contact during the time in Saigon. However, during one of our platoons sweeps, we found an old bunker, inside the bunker was a VC. He did not put up a fight since he was hungry and tired. He did not have a weapon, but did have two old grenades. This was my first POW.
One of the benefits of being in Long Bien was the access to the PX and clubs. The men not out on patrol or on some other detail [Which CPT Bialkowski was good at assigning] were able to take advantage of the PX and clubs during the day, but had to be back at the company area by 1800 hrs, which was not always the case. CPT Bialkowski had daily company formations at 1830 hrs to check on the status of the troops. There were a few Article 15’s handed out by the CO for not being back in the company area on time.
The whole company was able to spend one day at a recreation area along the river. There we ate, played volleyball, basketball, football, and taking boat rides on the river. Some of the troops even got a chance to water ski. It was a fun day.
At the end of June, the Company was directed to move out to Dau Tieng and join the battalion. This time, the march was made during the day. A few days after we hooked up with the battalion, we got on new Company Commander, CPT James Bristol.
July 1967 (Narrative and maps)
Captain James Bristol assumes command of the Company from Captain John Biakolwski.
Over 20 men of the Company, including myself are presented the Combat Infantry Badge at the base of Nui Ba Den.
For the first 7 days of July, the company provided road securing for the MSR (LTL 26) between Tay Ninh and Dau Teing. During July 8th to 15th, the company sets up in two positions along LTL 26 in the vicinity of Ap Phuoc Bihn (3rd platoon in one (315485), the rest of company in other (338464). During this time, the company provided road security and patrols into the rubber east of LTL 26. On July 15, A Company replaces the B Company, with the 1st Platoon of A Company taking over the position of the 3rd Platoon of B Company. B Company then goes to Dau Teing for a one-night stand-down that included a big steak dinner, movies, and a lot of beer.
At approximately 0015 hours on July 16, Battalion alerts B Company that the 1st Platoon of A Company is under heavy attack and the Company should prepare to move out. We had to drag the men out of their bunks and pore them into the tracks. Most of the men went right back to sleep in the tracks. At that moment, the Company was in no condition to fight. At 0100 hours, B Company was ordered to move out with lights on. The 3rd Platoon took the lead [I was in the second track], followed by Command Group, 1st Platoon, Weapons Platoon, and the 2nd Platoon.
As the Company departed the Base Camp; I was directed to move as fast as I could. The movement to the contact area was nerve-racking; I was scared the whole way. Being night, and the dust kicked up by the tracks, we had to maintain a gap between the tracks of about 100+ meters. I was fearful of hitting a mine, driving off the road, throwing a track, or driving into an ambush. The Company had air cover and would recon by fire along the way. When in range of the artillery, CPT Bristol would call for artillery flares to be fired off to the flanks of the road. During this time, some of the men continued to sleep. We were lucky! IT WAS A NIGHT THAT I WAS HAPPY THAT I DID NOT DRINK.
By the time B Company reached the contact area, about 45 minutes after we cleared the gate at Dau Teing, the rest of A Company and the Cavalry Squadron Troop had arrived in support of the 1st Platoon. B Company was placed in the rice paddies to the southwest to secure the landing zone for the dust-off, where the mosquitoes attacked us in force. There was still some light contact with the withdrawing VC/NVA, but it would not affect B Company. The men continued to sleep.
At first light, B Company was given the mission to conduct dismounted sweeps through the contact area and move to the east and attempt to establish contact with the VC/NVA. The company moved out with the 1st Platoon moving to the northeast and the 3rd Platoon to the east. The 3rd Platoon searched to the east for 3500 meters, and then moved to the south, and then back to highway 26 and the contact area. The Command Group and 2nd Platoon followed the 1st Platoon. The Weapons Platoon secured the APC’s. During this sweep, we found several fighting positions, a mortar position, and tracks that lead to and back from the contact area.
For the rest of the month, the Company continued to provide road security along LTL 26, LTL 35 to Soui Da, and LTL 4 north of Nui Ba Den, and conduct patrols in the rubber and jungles.
August 1967 (Narrative and maps)
3rd Platoon, B Company, 2nd Battalion (M), 22nd Infantry
On August 1, 1967, the 3rd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division is relieved from assignment to the 4th Infantry Division and assigned to the 25th Infantry Division.
August is not a good month for the 3rd Platoon. We sink a track and get all 4 tracks of the Platoon stuck in the mud.
Again, the Company is providing road security on MRS between Tay Ninh and Dau Tieng and the roads around Nui Ba Den. There is a lot of standing water on the roads around Nui Ba Den. In addition, the Company conducts searching operations and ambush patrols in the area.
The 3rd Platoon, B Company is the lead element of the Battalion movement from the MSR to jungle northwest of Dau Tieng (Vicinity of 400560), approaches a stream. The 3rd Squad track with SGT Gill, is in the lead to cross the stream. However, the far bank is too steep for the track to climb, as the track backs up, it backs into a bomb crater, and begins to sink. The Battalion is forced to find another crossing and leaves B Company to get the track out. SGT Gill dived into water and hooked up cables (Tow hooks on bottom of track) to tow the track out. Four tracks were required to pull 3-3 out of the water. Once on dry land, the back hatch was lowered, and everything not tied down came out with the water.
Battalion Commander and Company Commander were not happy!
B Company is conducting mounted searching operations in the area northeast of Nui Ba Den (Vicinity of 325615). The Company was conducting this operation with the 1st and 3rd Platoons operating independently with the Company Command Group, 2nd and Weapon Platoons on a static position. The 3rd Platoon would move in the rice paddy area along the tree line, staying 150 to 200 meters from the tree line, and then make a turn towards the tree line with the tracks on line. The troops would dismount approximately 50 meters from the tree line and advance into the tree line for about 100-150 meters. If nothing found, would move back to the tracks. We did this 4 times. On the 5th time, we were about 50 meters from the tree line in a grassy area, when the 3-1 track got stuck. I halted the platoon and set up security and then move the 3-3 track to pull the 3-1 track out. The 3-3 track then got stuck, and then the 3-2, and finally the 3-4 track. All of the tracks were now stuck. I kept CPT Bristol advised, and when I told him all of the tracks were stuck, he had a fit, threatening to make the Platoon stay there the rest of the day and night. After a lot of 4 letter words, he directed the 1st Platoon to move and assist. The 1st Platoon arrived, and staying out of the grassy area was able to daisy chain the tracks and extract the 3rd Platoon with a lot of wisecracking comments from LT Tom Tracy, the 1st Platoon Leader and the rest of his Platoon. CPT Bristol had some more 4-letter words for me when we got back to the Company.
After sinking the track and getting all 4 of the tracks stuck within 10 days, I stayed away from CPT Bristol for a few days.
The Company also provided security for the landing zone of either the 3/22 or 2/12 don’t remember which Battalion.
August 1967 AO
September 1967 (Narrative and maps)
3rd Platoon, B Company, 2ndBattalion (M), 22nd Infantry
LTC Awbrey G. Norris assumes command of the Battalion from LTC Ralph Julian.
The company gets two new platoon leaders, Lt Dean Springer, 1st Platoon [Lt Tom Tracy becomes the Company Executive Officer], and LT Bill Donald, 2nd Platoon. (Lt Joe Weiss is assigned to Battalion) The Company also gets its largest group of replacement troops.
The Company begins the month conducting operations in the area of north of Nui Ba Den along TL 4. On evening of September 2, the Company establishes its night position about 2000 meters northeast of the saddle of Nui Ba Den (Vicinity of 292615), just east of 243. Ambush patrols are sent out to the northeast of our position. As we sit in our defensive position, we look at Nui Ba Den and can see a great number of lights moving on the mountain. The next morning, we get orders from Battalion to move to the base of the saddle, then move up the saddle.
At approximately 0730 hrs., the Company begins its movement to the base of the saddle dismounted, leaving the Weapons Platoon to secure the tracks. The 3rd Platoon is in the lead, followed by the Command Group, the 1st Platoon, and 2nd Platoon. About 500 meters from the base, CPT Bristol changes the formation from the column to having the 3rd and 1st Platoons going on line, (with the squads of each Platoon also on line. The Company has a front of about 250 meter). We reach the base of the saddle (Vicinity of 280604) 45 minutes after departing the night position.
Once we start the climb, the Company changes formations again, with the 3rd Platoon in lead in a file formation because of the difficulty of moving up the saddle. The steepness of the slope, the rocks, and thick vegetation made the movement extremely slow, and we had to keep changing out the point men.
We continued up the saddle for a few hours, and then it started to rain. CPT Bristol informed Battalion that he was stopping the move up the saddle and we started back down, just turning around and heading back down, with the 3rd Platoon now at the rear of the movement. Going down was harder than going up, a lot of slipping and sliding on the rocks and in the mud.
During the movement to the saddle, the climb, and return to the Company area, we saw no indications of any NVA/VC activity. B Company was lucky. It was one of the few units that operated on Nu Ba Den that did not have contact with the VC/NVA. On September 4, the Company continued its patrolling north of Nui Ba Den along TL4.
On September 4, at approximately 1030 hrs., A Company operating along 243, spotted some NVA/VA in the vicinity of the saddled where B Company climbed on the 3rd, called in artillery and then moved to sweep the area. As they approached the base, A Company was engaged by a large NVA/VC element.
Battalion ordered B Company to hold in place and directed C Company to move to support A Company. About two hours later, B Company was order to move to a position to be able to support (Vicinity of 288608). During this time, artillery, air strikes to include gunships and the Air Force were hitting the area. As darkness set in, both A and C Company pulled back to B Company’s position, where we all settled in for the night. Again, we could all see lights moving on Nui Ba Den and in the Saddle. Artillery was called in all night on the Saddle.
The next morning, A Company moved back into the contact area, and again received fire, but not as heavy as the day before. Artillery and air strikes were hitting the base of the saddle. Later in the morning, a battery of 155mm self -propelled howitzers show up and moved into a position to direct fire on the contact area. A company was pulled back and the rest of the day artillery and air strikes hit the area. Later in the afternoon, some C-47 Chinooks flew over the contact area dropping 55-gallon drums of tear gas and napalm.
We spent another night at the base of Nui Ba Den, and next morning pulled out to continue with our road security mission alone TL4 with A and C Companies remaining in the area.
On September 16rd, 1967, B Company was conducting sweeps in the area around Soui Da with the 1st and 2nd Platoons. The 3rd Platoon remained with the Company CP for security and a reaction force. It was a quiet day with no signs of the NVA/VA. Around 1500 hours, the 1st and 2nd Platoon closed with the Company. The 3rd Platoon would provide the ambush patrol for the night and the I would take the 1st & 2nd Squads out on the ambush. At 1905 hours the patrol moved out to set up a position at a trail junction about 1400 meters south of the Company position. At approximately 2130 hours the patrol reached the junction and set up for the night. Two hours later, it started to rain, and rain for the next 2 ½ hours. At 0313 hours, I receive a radio call from CPT Bristol that my daughter was born (No name was given, did not find out name until later, (Candace Marie) and that mother and daughter were doing fine. At 0645 hours, the squads retrieved the claymores and we departed the position and returned to the Company.
For 3 days, the 3rd Platoon provides security at the rock quarry at the base of Nui Ba Den. Also assigned to provide security is a team with a 40mm Duster. Each night the Duster would fire harassing fire onto Nui Ba Den. It was fascinating watching the Duster fire its tracer rounds and the explosions as the round impacted the mountain.
September 30, 1967: An ambush patrol from the 2nd platoon walks into an outpost of C Company, 2-22 and a fire fight erupts. One man (C/2-22) is killed by friendly fire and 9 men are wounded from both B & C 2/22.
September 1967 AO
October 1967 (Narrative and maps)
3rd Platoon, B Company, 2nd Battalion (M), 22nd Infantry
The company continues to provide road security, and changes its main area of operations to conduct patrols in and south of the Michelin Rubber plantation.
October 7, 1967, I flew back to Dau Teing to see the dentist. RPG’s, small arms, and grenades hit the Company the next morning. Two of the 2nd Platoon tracks are hit and 5 men lightly wounded. I see dentist and have a tooth pulled and return to field in the afternoon of October 8th.
October 10, 1967 Company is conducting patrols in the northeast section of the Michelin Rubble Plantation. At approximately 1200 hours, the 3rd Platoon is alerted by CPT Bristol that the 1st platoon has spotted an estimated VC/NVA platoon on bicycles moving to the east on the perimeter road of the plantation (569571). CPT Bristol directs the 3rd Platoon to move to engage the VC/NVA on the road at 589551. The 3rd Platoon engages the VC/NVA and they jump off their bikes, with one group running to the northeast and another group running to the northwest.
On the move, I direct the 3rd squad (6 men) to stay and secure the bikes and take the 1st (7 men) and 2nd (7 men) squads with me pursuing the VC/NVA moving to the northwest. The 1st squad is about 50-75 meters behind the fleeing VC/NVA, with me, my two RTO’s and platoon medic, behind 1st squad and 2nd squad behind me. The 1st squad is spread out in a line formation spanning three rows of rubber trees. The men of the first squad are engaging with M16’s, M-79’s and one M-60 MG. They are leaning against trees, in the kneeling positing, and prone firing. Bark from the trees, tree leaves and branches, and dirt are flying everywhere from the 1st squad fire, but the VC/NVA keep running. The chase and firing go on for about 150-200 meters, with the bark, leaves, and dirt still going everywhere. The ground vegetation is getting heavier as we move.
With platoon in pursuit, Allen Zweig, (Bravo 3-6 X-Ray) my RTO with the company radio on my right, and William “Willy” Smith, the 81mm RTO/FO on my left a step ahead. I have the handset from Allen’s radio to my ear when he spots a VC/NVA to our right flank preparing to fire. As Allen turns to engage, the VC/NVA opens fire with AK47, hitting both of my RTO’s. With radio handset to my ear, I’m pulled down as Allen goes down (586554). Allen takes the round that could have hit me. The platoon medic, SP4 James Meek is right behind us and immediately begins to assess injuries and provides aid. The 2nd squad engages and secures the wounded. I help Sp4 Meek removed the radios from both men. SP4 Meek tells me that both men will need to be evacuated, but the wounds are not life threating. I get on the Company radio and update CPT Bristol on the contact and the need for a medivac. During this time, the 1st squad continued the pursuit, but stops when they hear that we have taken WIA’s. The 1st squad is about 50 meters from me as I pick up the radio, and move to join the 1st squad. The fire that hits Zweig and Williams is the only incoming we take, and we can no longer see any VC/NVA.
With only the 1st squad with me, and the 3rd squad securing the bikes, I decide to break contact and move back to the 2nd squad and wounded. I consolidate the position and prepare to move to the point of the initial contact to bring in the dust-off. We pick up Allen and Willy and move to join the 3rd squad. The dust-off comes in, picks up Allen and Willy. After the dust-off is completed, we gather up the bikes and supplies and move back to the company position.
The platoon captures 24 bicycles carrying medical supplies. The 3rd squad fines some blood trails while securing the bikes. Both RTO’s return to duty in mid-November. This is my first contact since the contact on May 18, 1967.
After this contact, I sat in my track rehashing the day’s events, it hits me for the first time since I have been in Vietnam, something bad could happen to me.
B Company switches between road security and patrolling the Michelin for next two weeks. Lt Bill Donald returns from a sweep and gives CPT Bristol a captured VC/NVA turtle.
October 23, 1967, Company is in night position (604495), after a Chinook brings in our rations for the day, the chow line is set up and the men start heading to get there evening hot rations. I am briefing the 3rd squad leader on the ambush patrol for the night when there is an explosion in the center of the perimeter. The security nearest the tree line opens fire into the trees. CPT Bristol orders a cease-fire, and all is quiet. The Artillery Forward Observer (LT Gary Weir) fines some of the larger shrapnel and identifies it’s from a 105mm round. The Company was hit with friendly fire. The Company has one KIA, Eddie Fisher (3rd Platoon), and 11 WIA, 5 serious.
SSG Ernest Murray joins the company. SSG Murray was my 1st SGT in Company A, 5th Battalion, 31st Infantry, 197th Infantry Brigade at Fort Benning, my first assignment as a 2nd LT. SSG Murray takes over command of the Weapons Platoon.
Oct 1967 AO
Oct 10 1967 AO
November 1967 (Narrative, maps and pictures)
3rd Platoon, B Company, 2nd Battalion (M), 22nd Infantry
As I enter my 7th month in the field, I receive some good news, confirmation of my R&R. Will be going to Hawaii on December 22, 1967. Will be spending Christmas with Mary, but returning to Vietnam for New Years. CPT Bristol also told me I would be taking over as the Company Executive Officer in mid-December before going on R&R. Just 40 plus days left in field. By the end of the month, I was ready to get out of the field! CPT Mike Mitchell assumes command of Bravo company.
On the last day of October, the Company goes back to the Dau Teing Base Camp to get resupplied and join the rest of the Battalion. Once resupply is completed, the Battalion moves out to its new area of operations in the southern part of the 3rd Brigade Area of Operations. The area will be along the eastern bank of the Saigon River and south of Dau Tieng and the Michelin Rubber Plantation in the area called the “Trapezoid.” This was the first time the Battalion operated in this part the AO since the operations in early part of 1967 during Operations Cedar Falls.
The mission is assisting in the resettlement of Vietnamese living alone or in small villages into larger government controlled villages, and conducting search and destroy patrols in the area. Before we are able to move any villagers, the 1st Platoon walks into a bobby trap area and has 6 men wounded. This is going to be a very bad area.
The movement of villagers requires all of the villager’s belongings to include all of their livestock. The water buffalo would be moved by air, either loading them on a Chinook (not the most desirable method) or swing loading them below the chopper. Which was fun to watch. After all the inhabitants of the villages are removed, the villages are destroyed.
Overview of Nov 21-28 Area of Operations
November 21, 1967
While conducting S&D operations northeast the “Mushroom” bend on the Saigon River, the 1st Platoon, B Company under the leadership of Lt Dean Springer, encounters a VC/NVA force in a trench line with bunkers, resulting in 5 seriously wounded. The 3rd Platoon went to the aid of the 1st Platoon and was able to bring fire on the VC/NVA enabling the 1st Platoon to break contact. This contact is the first in a series of contacts that last until November 28, 1967.
Map November 21, 1967
November 22, 1967
B Company is given the mission to go back to the area of contact of the 21st. SP4 James Friar, from the Battalion S1 Section (PIO), asked if he could go with Bravo Company and joins the 3rd Platoon (SP4 Friar is the one who takes the pictures of the Platoon during the contact) The 3rd Platoon is in the lead as the Company enters a bombed-out area. The rest of the Company halts as the 3rd Platoon continues its movement. The Platoon is a column formation with the 2ndSquad in the lead, followed by myself, my RTO (SP4 Zweig, who is carrying a shit load of smoke grenades, which came in handy marking our position), the 1st Squad, and the 3rd Squad in the rear. The movement is very slow and difficult with all the destroyed trees and bomb craters of different widths and depths. With the slow movement of the 3rd Platoon, the rest of the Company halts at the tree line and the Platoon gets approximately 150 meters ahead of the Company. The 3rd Platoon is ambushed. As the first rounds are fired, the men of the Platoon dive into the bomb craters for cover and protection. The Platoon is receiving fired from the front and right flank. Once in the bomb craters, the men return fire. From my position, I move up to take a look to see several rice hats (Only see the tops of the hats) moving in a trench to my front.
I call Bravo 6 to give him a status, since he can hear that we are in contact, we are retuning fire, with no one hit at this time. I give him my location and request fire support to my right flank and front of the of our direction of march. The first round that are fired come from the Company 81mm mortars and the Battalion 4.2 in mortars.
I’m told Fullback 6 (LTC Arb Norris) is flying over the area of contact, and will be directing the fire missions for the 105mm Artillery support. I request that the artillery fire to the front of the Platoon with the 81mm and 4.2 mortars fire on our right flank. Bravo 6 relays the corrections on the fire support with the assistance of LT Ken McKenize, the Company FO.
The Platoon is taking incoming from AK-47’s and machine guns but no indirect fire or hand grenades and returning fire with M-16’s, M-60’s, and M-79’s. Both sides keep up a steady stream of fire.
In his position above, Fullback 6 joins the Company radio net, and informs us he can see VC/NVA movement in trenches to the 3rd Platoons front and both flanks. He directs that the Battalion 4.2 mortars shift their fire to the left flank.
For over an hour, the 3rd Platoon is under fire. At one point in the contact, flying above me are the Battalion Commander, Brigade Commander, Assistant Division Commander, and the Division Commander. Stack helicopters!
At one point, supporting fire was brought in within 50 meters to our front. Airstrikes are requested and hit the tree line to our front to try to stop and reinforcement by the VC/NVA. Gunships hit the trenches in the bombed-out area. As the incoming fire stops, the stack Command helicopters can see VC/NVA still moving in the trenches, and continue with the artillery fire. After about 3 ½ hours, the Platoon is directed to move back and join the Company and head back to the laager position. It is a slow movement from bomb crater to bomb crater until we reach the tree line. The 3rd Platoon comes out of the contact with no causalities.
Map November 22 1967
November 22 B COMPANY
November 22, 1967 BOMBED OUT AREA
November 22, 1967 LT FAHEL
335 × 480
November 22, 1967 LT FAHEL
November 22, 1967 PFC Stroup
November 22, 1967 SP4 Zweig
November 23, 1967
Bravo and Charlie Companies are directed to move back into the contact area, again with the 3rd Platoon in the lead, but with the Company maintaining contact with the rear of the Platoon. We advance pass the location of the contact of the 22nd, and again take fire front out front. Artillery is called in and we hold in place. Both Companies are directed to pull back to the Company laager position and artillery and airstrikes are called in for the rest of the day. The Battalion enjoys a Thanksgiving meal with all the turkey and trimmings.
In the early morning hours of November 24, 1967, the VC/NVA mortar our position, with Charlie Company taking some lightly wounded. However, the VC/NCA mortar team is ambushed by a patrol from Charlie Company, killing 7 VC/NVA. In the morning, both Bravo and Charlie Companies move into the contact area. This time there is no contact. The Companies spend the day destroying the bunker complex, but are unable to complete the task by the end of the day. The Companies move back to the laager position.
November 23, 1967 AIR STRIKE
November 25, 1967
Bravo and Charlies Companies move back into the base camp complex to complete its destruction. An element of Charlie Company is ambushed, and starts what will become a prolong contact of 5 hours. Cpt Bill Allison, Company Commander of Charlie Company commits the rest of his company to extract the wounded, and that element starts taking causalities. The Company is not able to get all of its men out. Cpt Allison request a Platoon from Bravo Company be attached to Charlie Company. Bravo Company sets up to the rear of Charlie Company and secures the LZ for the dust-offs. With the 3rd Platoon, Bravo Company attached, the 3rd Platoon, Charlie Company on the right (With its APC’s) and the 3rd Platoon, Bravo Company on the left (Dismounted) begin their moving to retrieved the men still in the contact zone. Cpt Allison is following his 3rd Platoon.
Both Platoons are able to advance under fire to an area short of the two wounded men from Charlie Company (LT Mlynarski and LT Van Patten). The 3rd Platoon, Bravo Company is just behind the two, with 3rd Platoon of Charlie Company off to the right.
I have two Squads on line (1st Squad on the right and the 3rd on the left) with 2nd Squad in file on our left flank. There is a small gap between the 1st Squad and elements of Charlie Company, but we are maintaining visual contact. I have positioned myself behind the 3rd Squad.
All elements of Charlie Company are under heavy VC/NVA fire from their front and right flank, while the 3rd Platoon, Bravo is receiving heavy fire from its front, and a few rounds from its left flank.
The 3rd Platoon Bravo Company continues its slow forward movement until the 1st Squad spots the two down men of Charlie Company. I move over to a termite mound that is several meters behind the 1st Squad and then move up to a position where I can observe the down men. At this time, I am about 10 meters from them. The 1st Squad is about 7 meters from them. I direct SP4 John Yoshikane to move forward and try to extract them. John is able to get to LT Van Patten and pull him back a few feet.
LT Ken McKenize then comes forward and rushes pass me and hits the ground next to John. With the assistance of John, Ken grabs LT Van Patten, pulls in back to my position, and is wounded in the back. Lt McKenize then lifts Lt Van Patten to his shoulder and carries him to the rear.
After many attempts to pull LT Mlynarski back, John is unable to move Lt Mlynarski since his arm is entangled with a tree limb. To untangle his arm would require John moving in to the kill zone. I did not want to risk any additional men at this time.
Also, Charlie Company has taken addition causalities, and is attempting to break contact. The fire to my front is increasing, with any movement drawing fire, we are also taking additional fire from our left flank. I yell out to John to see if he can tell if Lt Mlynarski is WIA or KIA. John craws up some more where he is able to determine that the LT is KIA. I notify CPT Allison the LT Mlynarski is KIA, and ask for guidance. Cpt Allison then request that he be able to pull back out of the contact area. He is very concern that any additional attempts to retrieve Lt. Mlynarski will result in additional causalities.
With the support from LTC Norris, the Brigade Commander approves the withdrawal from the contact area. With the 3rd Platoon of Bravo Company providing covering fire, Charlie Company is able to withdraw from contact and pull back to the Battalion laager position. Once Charlie Company clears the contact area, the 3rd Platoon of Bravo begins its movement back. Both Charlie Company and the 3rd Platoon Bravo Company close the Battalion laager, and artillery and air strikes are called in on the base camp.
On this day, Charlie Company suffered 25 casualties, with Lt. Robert Mlynarski, Lt Robert Van Patten, PFC Dennis Estes and PFC John Gibson KIA. The 3rd Platoon Bravo Company had no casualties.
November 25, 1967 Map
November 25, 1967 Jim Nelson Painting
November 25, 1967 Jim Nelson Painting
November 26, 1967
Charlie Company moves back into the contact area of November 25, and is able to reach the location where Lt Mlynarski was hit. There is no contact, and the Company is able to retrieve Lt Mlynarski. The Company makes a sweep of the area and fines over 20 VC/NVA KIA’s and some weapons. CPT Allison made the following comment about the base camp: “Air strikes that were called in on the unfolding VC complex, revealed one of the most elaborate base camps that I remember the battalion every finding. The camp was, among other things, an ammunition and fuse factory. There was a foundry where the VC were melting pieces of our destroyed personnel carriers and casting the molten metal into grenades.”
November 27, 1967
The Battalion remains in the laager position as artillery and airstrikes are called in on the base camp. All indications point to the VC/NVA withdrawing from the area.
November 28, 1967
At 0800 hours, the 3rd Platoon Bravo Company departs the Battalion laager to make a limited sweep of the area to see if the enemy had cleared out of the area. The Platoon moves to the north and then to the north east so that it can approach the base camp area from the east. The Platoon is in a column formation with the 1st Squad in the lead, followed by the 2nd Squad, the Command Group, and the 3rd Squad in the rear.
As the Platoon pushed into the bombed-out area for about 150 meters, when the lead element comes on a new trench. As the 1st Squad was calling in this trench, the VC/NVA opened up with small arms and machinegun fire from 3-4 positions from their front and right front. I requested artillery support and directed the 2nd Squad move to the right flank of the 1st Squad with the 3rd moving to the left. I moved up to the rear of the 1st Squad. The objective was to get the Platoon on line so all of the Platoon could return fire. The 3rd Platoon was able to get quick reaction from the artillery because one artillery section was in direct support of the 3rd Platoon and was following our movement. After the initial fire mission, the rest of the artillery battery joined in. I made one adjustment to the fire mission and after the mission was completed, stopped the artillery. At this time, SP4 Meek was with me and my two RTO’s.
It took a while for the 2nd an 3rd Squads to get in position, and by that time, the enemy fire had ceased. The Platoon remained in position for another 10-15 minutes and waited for instructions. Cpt Mitchell directed that the platoon should move forward to see if the enemy had truly pulled back. The Platoon moved out on line and moved about 75 meters when it was hit again with small arms and machinegun fire. I again called for artillery support and received the same rapid response. At this time, I was about 20 meters to the rear of the Platoon line.
After I called in the fire mission, I realized that there was a trench 2-3 feet in front of me. The trench had a berm on both sides that was about 4-5 inches high and a foot and a half across. Thinking it would be better to be in the trench, I eased forward, and just as I pushed off to dive over the small berm and into the trench, a tree branch caught my flak jacket and stopped me cold. At the same time a machinegun burst of 3-4 rounds hit the berm to my front and the dirt flew into me. The rounds hit right where my back would have been if the branch did not stop me. I untangled the branch from my flak jacket, and eased myself back, and felt fear for the first time. I closed my eye and thought of Mary and Candy, would I make it out of here. After about 30 seconds, the artillery rounds hit, and shocked me into action, I called for the radio to make the corrections to the artillery fire.
After I gave the corrections, the 1st Squad reported the SP4 Meek was hit during the initial burst of fire. The 1st Squad Leader, SGT Tom Priesthoff then directed one of his fire teams to move forward and retrieve SP4 Meek. Again, it was John Yoshikane, that went out to pull SP4 Meek back. During this time, the Platoon was still under fire, and additional artillery fire was being directed by the Battalion Commander flying above. Cpt Mitchell directed me not to maneuver against the enemy, but to hold in place. I moved forward to a point about 5 meters behind the 1st Squad.
SP4 Yoshikane and SP4 Cobb brought SP4 Meek to my position, at one point, SP4 Meek’s head was resting right beside me. SP4 Yoshikane informed me that he was KIA. The enemy fire stopped, I informed Cpt Mitchell we had one KIA. He directed that the Platoon should fall back to a position to dust-off SP4 Meek. The Platoon pulled back to a clear area and called for the dust-off. Once the dust-off was completed, the Platoon moved back to the Battalion laager.
The order was given that the Battalion would be pulled out of the area on the next day, and artillery would continue with a B-52 strike on the area.
During the previous 6 days of contact, myself and the men of the 3rd Platoon felt we were invincible, nothing could stop us, nothing could happen to them. We did not show fatigue, either mental or physical. For six days, we ruled the world. But the death of SP4 Meek hit us all, hit me especially hard. We made it back to our APC’s and it appeared we all collapsed at once. Not a word was spoken. The stress and fatigue of the last 6 days had hit.
I just sat in the track, closed my eyes, and all I could see with the dirt flying up in front of me, SP4 Meek lying still beside me. I hoped when I opened my eyes, I would be home. I did not want to be there. I looked at some of the men in my platoon, I saw the look of lost, I wanted to talk to them, but I did not know what to say. How could I provide comfort and encouragement if I was so emotionally drained and dejected? The was the low point of my two tours.
After about 30 minutes of just sitting there, LTC Norris came over to the Platoon. He called me aside. He started out by saying “Young man.” He told me I had done an outstanding job of leading the Platoon. He continued saying there are many men here today because of my leadership and the actions of the Platoon. You and the Platoon responded to the challenge and hardships to accomplish its missions. The Platoon showed a spirit of togetherness that enable them to fight as one. He said that the last 6 days had been hard on me and the Platoon, but I had to get myself together, the Platoon needed its leader. We are in a hostile land, and it is quite now, but all hell could break out. The way to get out of here is to be a good soldier, leader, to continue to perform, and not let fear take over. Stay here a few minutes to reflect, pray, and then get back to being the Platoon Leader of the 3rd Platoon, B Company.
LTC Norris then went around to the men of the Platoon, talking with them and providing reassurance and understanding. As he talked to each man, I could see the expression change from despair to a positive look. The men started talking.
LTC Norris was a true leader and inspiration to me. He was able to get me out of my misery and continue to lead the Platoon. I was able to get myself together, and go talk with the men of the 3rd Platoon.
I have relived this week over and over, and still cannot understand how SP4 Meek went from being at my side to being in front of the 1st Squad after the first contact. I see the dirt flying towards me, I see the rice hats to my front.
I would be in the field for another 17 days.
After meeting Jim Nelson at my first reunion in Cleveland, and discussing the contact during the 1967 Thanksgiving week, Jim painted the “Trapezoid.”
November 28, 1967 Map
December 1967 (Narrative, maps and pictures)
3rd Platoon, 2nd Battalion (Mech) 22nd Infantry
After the rough final week in November, the Battalion moves out of the Trapezoid to an area of operations north of the Michelin. After one week in this area, the Battalion moves back to the Trapezoid. LT Gary Smith joins me on December 12 to spend time with me in preparation for taking over as the Platoon Leader on December 15. Can’t wait until I head back to the Company area to take over the Executive Officer duties of the Company. The days seems to go by so slow. I have a hard time sleeping on the evening of the 14th.
I return to the rear in the afternoon on resupply chopper December 15, 1967. I shower, get a clean uniform, and head to get good meal in the Company mess hall. While eating, 1st Sargent James T. Sills joins me and briefs me while we eat. After the meal, I go to Battalion HQ to get a briefing from the Battalion XO, Maj. Schultz. One item I get out of the briefing is when I return from R&R, I will rotate the Battalion Staff Duty Officer with the other Company Executive Officers, Lt James, A Company and Lt Sherman C Company. I head back to the Company area and move my personal items from the platoon leaders tent to my room in Company HQ that has the Orderly room, mail room, and sleeping areas for me and the 1st SGT.
The next morning, the Company clerk wakes me up to inform me that one man of the Company was killed by friendly artillery fire. Tom Priesthoff, was the driver of the 3-1 track when I took over the 3rd Platoon, and then promoted to a Squad Leader in late September was the causality. Tom was wounded by friendly artillery fire as the battalion was pulling out of laager to return to Dau Tieng.
About an hour later, I was informed by the S1 that I would have to go to Graves Registration and identify the remains. Tom was one of the few men of the Platoon that I got close to besides my RTO’s. I had the 1st Sgt go with me. When I walked in to where Tom was laying, his body was covered except for his left hand, but I could identify Tom by his High School class ring. His face was uncovered and I confirmed the remains were Tom.
Three days later, 1SGT Sills and I had to identify the remains of PSGT Dave Ashford of the 2nd Platoon who was killed by one of his own men as he walked the perimeter.
On December 22, 1967, I departed for my R&R in Hawaii. Mary meets me at Fort DeRussy, and we go to our hotel. The first meal in Hawaii for me is a Chef’s Salad and a glass of whole milk. Mary and I take in the sites of Hawaii for the next 6 days.
The Battalion returns to Dau Tieng on December 26, 1967, get resupplied and then departs on the road march to the new Battalion Area of Operation and Fire Support Base Burt. The Battalion closes in to FSB Burt on December 30, 1967.
On December 30, 1967, I departed Hawaii after spending seven days on R&R. I landed in Saigon on December 31, 1967, but was too late to catch a flight to Dau Tieng. I spend the night in Bien Hoa. During the night, there were several mortar attacks in the area around Bien Hoa, and the night skies were lit up with flares all night. I was able to catch the first flight out to Dau Tieng scheduled to depart around noon on January 1, 1968.
Fire Support Base Burt December 30-31, 1967
Area of Operations December 1967