Operation THAYER II, JANUARY 1967.
I don’t remember the names of any of these men. I’m talking to the soldier with the m-16.
I had been platoon leader, 3rdplatoon, A Company, 1/35th Infantry Battalion for about three months and was as comfortable as one could be fighting NVA in the central highlands, Plieku, South Vietnam. My platoon remained with A Company until the 19th of January.
The following account was extracted from the Combat Operations After Action Report for Operation THAYER II, January 3- February 12, 1967. Commander of 1st Cavalry Division was Task Force Commander.
1stCavalry Division (airmobile) employed the 3rd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division task force in offensive operations in Suoi Ca Valley. First priority mission was to search for and destroy the 18th North Vietnamese Army (NVA) Regiment. Second priority mission was to search the eastern portion of the Couoi Ca Valley for enemy activity.
Between 4-9 Jan- Immediately upon the introduction of the combat forces of the 3rd BDE TF into the Suoi Ca Valley-Vinh Thanh Mountain range AO, several small contacts occurred. Friendly forces repeatedly engaged small numbers of enemy in sharp, short contacts.
Indicaions were that a very large force had recent]tly vacated the area. However the enemy, principally VC, began a terror and harassing campaign against the civilian populace along Highway One and against the main routes of communications.
On 9 January, 1967,…A Company, 1/35thInfantry Battalion made contact with a squad size unit capturing a great deal of equipment, maps and propaganda literaure. The enemy left the items behind and fled…
On 10 January, 1967 in the vicinity of BR739645, 3rdPlatoon, A Company, 1/35thmade contat with five VC wearing US steel helmets, OD shirts, VC caps (under their helmets) and ponchos. Apparently attempting to infiltrate the area.
Previously, C Company found several ladders which were probably used as early warning observation posts which seemed to fit the notion of infiltration.
A company made contact with one NVA and recovered a large medical bag in a hut. Later an individual dressed in khakis ran into another hut and from there into a cave.
At this time a large number of contacts with other NVA and VC were made in the same area. In addition, the pressure exerted by the 3rd Brigade task forces caused the enemy to start exfiltrating at a faster pace and in small groups, aided by local VC.
Two hundred sixty-five enemy were killed and seventy three captured attempting to exfiltrate out of the area during the operation.
This confirmed that the VC infrastrcture and NVA forces (believed to be the 18thNVA Regiment) were coordinating operations.
Information gained from a captured high level officer revealed a weapons and ammunitions procurement and storage location, a blacksmith shop which made grenades and booby traps and a manufacturing shop for making small tools . A limited weapons repair capaility was also maintained.
A Company was given the mission of destroying the blackshop facility and B Company destroyed the ammunitions and remaining items.
A Company was then airlifted to provide security for 1/35th Infantry Battlion for a week and then the battalion was given a surveillance mission in the southern portion of Suoi Ca Valley in accordance with the TET truce.
Itelligence indicted that the 18th NVA regimental HQ had relocated to the Northwest to Nghia Diem Valley …between 5-10 January as a direct result of the insertion of the 3rd Brigade Task Force into the THAYER II AO.
In an effort to obtain more information about the enemy, I was ordered to take two squads of my platoon and conduct a reconniance to gather information about the enemy’s locations and strength in an enemy stronghold. The only information I was given about where we were going was it would be rugged mountainous terrain near the Combodian/ South Vietnam border.
Huey’s (slicks) like this one was the primary tactical troop mover used in Vietnam.On
19 January, 1967, my recon team climbed aboard two Huey’s and were inserted into the designated location. The following day the enemy found us. My recollection of that day and night was published earlier. To find two stories about this battle go to www.possumhollar.com and use search term “Jan 20, 1967” in the search box. A third story can be found by using search term “50 years”. This story is about extraordinary circumstances 50 years later which led me to Pace Caldwell who was wounded on 20 January, 1967.