Stories about my family

Category: VIETNAM WAR (Page 1 of 3)

ASST BDE OPERATONS OFFICER, 3RD BDE, 25TH INF DIV

It was not unusual for an infantry officer to receive orders a second or even a third time. But it was a bit uncommon to be sent to the same division, same brigade, and ultimately the same battalion. It had been a year since I had been back to the 1/35th Infantry Regiment.

After in processing at 3rd Brigade Headquarters in early January, 1969, the Personnel Officer assigned me to Brigade Operations. I was disappointed. To be an Infantry Company Commander was my desire. Vacancies were few and were coveted by many captains in the division. In the meantime, I would become the best Assistant S-3 I could be.

As I analyzed after action report after action report for lessons learned, one thing became apparent. Many times inadequate security measures resulted in placing individual soldiers and units in jeopardy. Sometimes causalities were the result. Perhaps, from my cushy job sitting behind a desk, I was being too critical. But I think not. To my discredit I did not make friends and had much time on my hands.

I had always been somewhat of a loner. Depression is a strange phenomenon. I would never admit its influence on me. But it was there. I slept in a nice bed. I ate well prepared and tasty food. But in quite times, my mind would drift to family. My wife Phyllis, was a strong and a lovely person, but I knew I had left her a heavy burden to make a home by herself, manage finances, care for three children and make decisions by herself. (She never told me that she also struggled with depression,) as I had until years later. She explained she didn’t want to worry me.

But intuitively, I knew, and so in the darkest hours of the night silent tears would leak from my eyes. I was embarrassed and faulted myself for my own weakness. I asked for double duty to counter my loneliness and worked even harder to erase my shortcomings.

When the company assignment came, I was ready. I took command in March, but I was a changed person. For one thing, I became more careful when it came to matters of security and protection of my men. Security for units operating in the Central Highlands took many forms from always operating within range of supporting fires to spacing between soldiers. To close with and kill the enemy was fundamental to our mission, but not at the expense of adequate security.

Near the end of my tour a situation developed which tested my commitment to this tactical concept. (see Personal Integrity). Finally, the time spent at Brigade helped me better understand myself. More importantly, it helped me become a better commander.

MY FIRST COMMAND,

I took command in February, 1969. For several months B Company, 1/35th Infantry Battalion was involved in a number of small skirmishes. We had a few minor casualties.

Jack Burr

I had several encounters during my first tour with an enemy that had been trained in North Vietnam conventional tactics and usually fought battles with forces large enough to stand and fight. When they massed forces we used over powering air and indirect weapons to inflict significant casualties.

The enemy we confronted this time employed smaller units to strike and run. By using alert security teams permitted B company to anticipate where and when the enemy was likely to strike and take aggressive action to counter his plans and take the fight to him. Sometimes it was difficult for soldiers to maintain a high level of alertness when no evidence of enemy activity for days on end.

In fact, in those cases where we suffered casualties, the enemy had capitalized on lax security. But sometimes we suffer from our own mistakes. Such was the case on this day.

It was Saturday, June the 21st, 1969 when I called a halt to our search mission.  We had been on the go for several days and needed a few days rest. We found an area suitable for security and could be easily defended.  Of course, the area was near a stream where men could bathe, fish or just relax.

Platoon Sgt, SFC Freitas and I were sitting in the shade and talking about something that I cannot remember.  As infantrymen do, our talk turned to our profession.  We were sitting near the command post and overheard the battalion operations announce pre-planned artillery fire in an area about 4 kilometers from our location. 

SFC Freitas asked if they needed a forward observer for the planned fires.  The company RTO passed the question to Battalion Operations and the reply was affirmative.  I decided to go with him. I told my friend and RTO, Sgt Dill to inform the platoon leaders what we were going to do.

We found an elevated area about 600 meters west of our base and SFC Freitas made contact with the firing battery and started his fire commands.  With our binoculars, we could clearly see what the Sergeant was doing as he walked the fires along a ridge line and into a ravine.

Suddenly, a radio voice barked “SHORT ROUND, SHORT ROUND”.  We didn’t have time to react.  A loud explosion shook the ground as I could hear shrapnel whizzing all around.  SFC Freitas was hit by a large piece that took off his right arm at the shoulder.

I was kneeling no more than three feet to his right but was unharmed. I tried to stop the bleeding as I tended to SFC Freitas. I believe he was immediately knocked unconscious.  I called for help and continued my efforts to stop the bleeding to no avail. 

I cried and cried as I tried to stop the bleeding. But I could not.  I lost a friend.  After 50 years I am now able to reconcile his loss. (see preface to the “First Battle”, for comments about my reconciliation struggle.) 

NOTE:  A short round occurs when an artillery projectile does not have sufficient charge to reach the intended target and falls short.

Note: I was contacted by the niece of SFC Freitas a few weeks ago thanking me for writing this story. She had found the story I had posted over two years ago on the 1/35 Infantry Regiment website and contacted the website manager who forwarded her inquiry. I responded by telling her what I could remember about her uncle.

She was one of several relatives that I have had discussions with about a loved one lost in the Vietnam war. This is the most important reasons I maintain this site although I no longer write.

In fact, the Lord has impressed upon my heart to provide comfort to as many as I am able to find, or who find me. God has blessed me and I aim to bless others as I am able.

The decorations earned by SFC Robert Edwin Freitas include: the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Bronze Star with V, the Purple Heart, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, the Vietnam Campaign Medal and the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm Unit Citation.

MY LAST COMBAT ASSIGNMENT

MY LAST COMBAT ASSIGNMENT

I found a document in my personal files describing a combat assault conducted in the Central Highlands, South Vietnam in 1969.  I thought it might be interesting to my readers.

I’m in the middle, Artillery FO on left and I don’t remember the Major on the right.  Picture taken in fall of 1969 at LZ Oasis.

As I recall, the area of operation was in the vicinity of LZ Oasis, Plieku, South Vietnam.  I was assigned to the  1/35,  Infantry Battalion as the operations officer responsible for planning and executing the combat assault and subsequent operations.

AFTER ACTION REPORT:

OASIS — In the largest combat assault of the year, the Famous Fighting Fourth’s 1st Battalion, 35th Infantry flew 500 men and support equipment 12 miles south of The Oasis for an operation that has led to the discovery of enemy caches and huts.

Four companies and a command element were lifted by 15 Hueys.  Five Chinooks from the fixed-wing air field at the Oasis were used to transport heavy equipment.

Companies were picked up from various locations and inserted in designated areas and assigned an area of operation to search for enemy caches as they worked their way back to LZ Oasis.   The command element was situated at Plei Mei.  The airlift was completed within an hour.

During the first day of operations Bravo Company found and destroyed two well camouflaged huts, each capable of sleeping nine men. “The only consistently effective method of finding well hidden hootches,” stated 1st Lieutenant John Kelly, the 3rd Platoon leader, “is to search the thickest vegetation and keep away from used trails.”

On the second day of the operation, Bravo Company found two rice caches. Over 6,700 pounds of rice were in holes that had been concealed by two feet of overhead camouflage.

During the entire operation, companies reported a large number of the enemy’s anti-personnel devices (booby traps) which had decayed or were no longer functioning. One such booby trap consisted of a whip like piece of bamboo which, when functioning, projected an arrow along a well worn path.

In order to find hidden enemy supplies, the fighting Gypsies probed swamps with bamboo poles and searched stream banks for tunnels and caves.

Once the operation was complete, the enemy was minus a food source and supplies.  More importantly, we were certain the enemy was no longer using the area from which to launch attacks on LZ Oasis.

This is the last story I intend to write about my time in Vietnam.

COMPANY COMMANDER ON CALL: RECOLLECTIONS OF JACK BURR

 

 COMPANY COMMANDER ON CALL

On the 3rd of May, 1967, C Company CO, Captain Joseph Caudillo was killed by a sniper bullet fired by VC hiding behind a haystack.  AT 2311 hours the Battalion Commander was notified that Captain Caudillo passed away atQui Nhon Hospital.

Captain Caudillo was a respected leader, well liked by his contemporaries and especially by the men in Company C.  Therefore, morale would likely be an issue.

Jack Burr South Vietnam 1967, LTC Moore on left

I was told to take command until a replacement could be found..  LTC Moore directed that I implement a training program for the company until a new commander could be located.

We both knew that inactivity would be the worse thing for morale.

As I remember,  the new commander took command a few days later and I returned to my job as S-2.

Next, A Company Commander left on a two week leave to tend to an emergency back home.  Again, LTC Moore directed that I take over the company for the two week period.  Any thought that the Battalion Commander would take it easy on the company was fool hardy.

That was alright with me since I knew many of the soldiers in A Company because I was 3rd Platoon Leader for about 7 months.  I had learned that the best way to minimize casualties was insisting on alertness and good security.  Two weeks ended with only a few enemy sightings and frequent use of indirect fires.

When the commander returned,  I went back to my full time  job of S-2 for the remainder of my first tour.  I spent much of my time in the Battalion’s Light Observation Helicopter gathering intelligence about the enemy and passing it directly to friendly forces on the ground.

NOTE:  I returned to Vietnam a year later and was assigned to the same Battalion, in the same AO and commanded B Company.  This time I was with with B Company for several months.

OPERATION THAYER II, JANUARY 1967

OPERATION THAYER II, Suoi Ca Valley

 I was assigned 3rd platoon leader , A Company, 1/35th Infantry Battalion,  for about 3 months when we were attached to 1st Cavalry Division.  I was as comfortable as one could be fighting NVA in the central highlands, Pleiku, South Vietnam.  

My platoon remained with A Company until the 19th of January when we were assigned a reconnaissance mission deeper into the mountainous range West of Pleiku near the Cambodian border.

Talking to a squad leader, Central Highlands, South Vietnam

The following account was extracted from the Combat Operations After Action Report for Operation THAYER II, January 3- February 12, 1967.   The area of the operation generally followed the  Suoi Ca Valley about 20 miles south of Bong Son in the Binh Dinh Province.  The valley is named for the Suoi Ca stream that meanders through the craggy valley.

Operation THAYER II was conducted under the command and control of the 1st Cavalry Division and units from 3rd Brigade, 25th Inf Div. 

1st Cavalry 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, 1/35th Infantry Battalion made contact with a squad size unit capturing a great deal of equipment, maps and propaganda literature. 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 infrastruacture and NVA forces (believed to be the 18th NVA 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 capability 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 Battalion 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.

Intelligence 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 reconnaissance 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 Cambodian/South Vietnam border.

On the 19th of January, 1967, two Slicks (like the one above) mistakenly inserted our team of 14 men into an LZ, approximately 7 km from the one that was planned.  The next morning the enemy found us.  See stories the “Longest Day” and the Darkest Night”.

THE BATTLE CONTINUED


THE BATTLE CONTINUED, 1/35TH INFANTRY BATTALION, 25-30 APRIL, 1967

I had been flown in to replace the wounded Commander of B Company. This is a continuation of the story posted last week which covered The Battle, April, 23-24, 1967  1/35th Infantry Battalion Staff, 1967.  

Viet Cong had taken over several villages in the coastal ares of the 1/35th Infantry Battalion area of operation and snipers had wounded and several of our men. Village fighting was difficult for obvious reasons.  

The official After Action Report recorded the following action.  (Only portions of the Report that pertains to 1/35the Infantry Battalion were included in this story.)

 …On 25 April, At 1415 hrs the Bn CDR directed B Company to move to the Northwest of C Company’s contact area. A second air strike for C Company was approved at 1445 hrs….

….As the command and control (C & C) aircraft flew to drop smoke grenades to the unit on the ground to mark (friendly positions).  The Bn CDR and S-3 (aircraft) received 40 rounds of AW fire and began losing altitude and power rapidly….

….The aircraft made its way to LZ Montezuma air strip on a final glide and crash landed. No one was hit by gunfire or hurt in the landing. The ship caught fire during the glide into the air strip. A replacement C&C was immediate and the CDR and S-3 were not injured and returned to the contact area….

….On 28 April the Battalion Recon Platoon took under fire a woman with a pack and weapon. She was wounded and died later.  Her pack contained medical supplies, documents, propaganda leaflets, schematic drawings of fortified villages and a schematic drawing’ of the District Hq in Duc Pho…. Also she was carrying a photo of herself and in the picture sbe was holding a Thompson SMG. The 30 year old female was definitely a hard core communist.

…..B Co discovered a tunnel at BS812306 and when men entered into the tunnel they heard voices. Backing out rapidly, B Company notified Bn they wanted tear gas. An interpreter and tear gas were sent to the cave location….  (See note below for effects of tear gas).

The occupants of the tunnel were treated to a liberal dosage of CS after they failed to respond to the interpreters instructions to come out. After several minutes of gas inhalation, a VC came gasping,  stumbling out of the cave…. He was taken to a nearby creek and revived. He was persuaded to re-enter the cave and talk ‘the others out’.

The second man to exit the cave was a NVA, (North Vietnam Army) and he threw a grenade when he came out and was immediately cut down by a host of riflemen. A second VC came out of the cave and was taken to the creek to wash away the CS gas.

….Also captured were several bicycles. 2d plat, B Company at BS802306 found a circular position with a forked stick, believed to have been an anti-aircraft aiming device and recently cooked rice and a deer that had been recently killed.  

….The operations continued until 30 April with sporadic fire and airstrikes and indirect fires targeting a well entrenched enemy unwilling to surrender.  Engineer units were called in to destroy dozens of well prepared enemy bunkers, tunnels and underground storage areas as well as hundreds of bombs and explosive devices…. 

I don’t remember exactly when my replacement arrived but I think it was 29 or 30 April when I  returned to Battalion Headquarters to resumed my duties as S-2.  

Four days , later C Company CO, Captain Joseph Caudillo was killed by sniper fire and I was instructed to take command of his company.  

NOTE:  CS gas [2-chlorobenzylidene malonitrile] is the most commonly used ‘tear gas‘ in the world. … Exposure to the spray causes distressing symptoms including lacrimation, eye pain, blepharospasm, a burning sensation in the throat and nose, increased nasal secretions, chest tightness, sneezing, coughing and retching. (Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine.)

NOTE: The After Action Report quoted above is part of the Vietnam Historical Collection which was created and is maintained by the Texas Tech Univesity. Gateway to this extensive collection can be accessed by using this link. Http://www.vietnam.ttu.edu/. On the first page select “Browse the Collections” as a starting point and then use dates and units cited above to find the information you desire.

THE BATTLE, 23-24 April, 1967

THE BATTLE

I arrived in Pleiku, South Vietnam in September 1966 and was assigned to the 3rd Platoon, A Company, 1/35th Infantry Battalion.  In April of 1967, I was promoted to  Captain and assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company with duties as the Battalion Intelligence Officer,  S-2.                                                                                  

          

NOTE:   My name is Jack Burr not James as label above.

A short time after my new assignment, our battalion got into a major fight.  Viet Cong had taken over several villages and snipers had wounded several of our soldiers.

Young men of the village had been either conscripted or volunteered to join the VC.  Women, children and old men had fled the area.  This development meant the village was a free fire zone and later became ground zero for a major battle.  Very soon I would be in the thick of it, leaving behind the relative safety of the Tactical Operations Center.

The following excerpt was taken from the Combat Operations After Action Report, for period 23-24 April, 1967, 1/35th Infantry Battalion.

23 April, 1967, The requested air stirke was made at 0630 hrs. C Company platoons began to move into the village as soon as the dust and smoke cleared. The Bn Cdr and S-3 ( LTC Moore and Maj Tippin) flew to the village and began to orbit at 0700 hrs. C Company found no resistance and easily swept through the village, getting to the opposite side at 0755 hrs.

The company sweep back through the village at 0758 hrs to obtain a body count and met resistance this time.  Seven VC were picked up on initial sweep. B Company picked up one VC at 0800 hrs.

Medevac was called by the Bn CDR for the 3 wounded Vietnamese from the village at BS775426. The Medevac also extracted 4 US WIA and 1 KIA during the first hour.

The B Company sweep yielded 2 VC KIA and 36 VC capture.  Suddenly,  VC jumped out of a large bunker inside the village and tossed a grenade.

B Company Commander and 1st SGT were wounded and evacuated. 

As the reports came into the Tactical Operations Center, I heard what happened to B Company Commander and knew what was coming.  LTC Moore called and said he was two minutes out and instructed me to be on the LZ for pickup.  Fifteen minutes later, I was on the ground as B Company Commander.

I felt a bit apprehensive since I was a new captain.  But, I knew the enemy and I had been listening to the action as it had unfolded.  The following excerpt from the After Action Report recorded the on-going battle.

2nd plat, B company had just crossed the railroad when the VC opened fire. The Bn CDR called for an immediate air strike on the village of Binh My (1). At 1724 hrs the Bn CDR reported the VC were pinned down on the SW and the NW sector but B Company was still receiving heavy fire, and there were several US WIA at BS768411 near the railroad bridge. Three men from B Company were on the ground in an exposed position in front of three enemy bunkers.

One of the gunship pilots, Lt Wood, 174th Aviation Company, distinguished himself by hovering directly over the wounded at an altitude of 20 to 30 feet, and directly in front of’ the enemy bunkers.

With his guns blazing, resembled an irate, protective, mother eagle shielding her young. With the valiant support of the gunships, and the courageous effort of the B Company Forward Observer, Lt Keith, who crawled out to rescue the wounded, the area was cleared for the air strike.

All positions were marked with smoke and the F-104’s who were standing by, began to pound the enemy positions.

At 1810 hrs, the air strike was finished and the 2nd platoon, B Company and the Recon platoon began to close on the village, Dinh My, (1). The next flight of F104’s team was used to provide a white screen to the SE side of the village Binh My (1).

At 1810 hrs, 1 US KIA and 1 WIA were extracted.  The other WIAs were treated on the battlefield and were evacuated later. The Air Force-47 was requested and at 1930 hrs B Company reported 1 VC KIA who was armed with an M-16. Again, the night was spent watching for VC attempts to escape.

24 Apr 67 – At 0640 hrs the first air strike of 3 F-104’s delivered their ordinance on the village. A White Team was sent in to screen and observe reported VC movement in the village in the vicinity M803340. The second air strike was completed at 0750 hrs.

At 0735 hrs 3d plat, B CO shot one VC who was attempting to swim the river. The Recon plat and 2nd plat, B CO swept through the village at 0750 hrs meeting no resistance.  However, the enemy had not left  the area.  

A few months after the above story was published, a friend called and said he knew a Woods that flew a Gunship in Vietnam who had retired as LTC and now lived in Arkansas.  After a bit of investigating, he determined that it was the same Lt Woods.  We traveled to see him and  listened to his story.  He revealed that he had received the Distinguished Flying Cross for the actions described above.  It is gratifying to visit with and share stories that heal emotional wounds that only soldiers understand. 

Note:  The After Action Report quoted above is part of the Vietnam Historical Collection which was created and is maintained by the Texas Tech University.   Gateway to this extensive collection can be accessed by using this link.  https://www vietnam.ttu.edu/.  On the first page Select “Browse the Collections” as a starting point and follow documents about 1/35 Infantry Battalion, Combat Operations Report, 22-30 April, 1967, 3rd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, Pleiku Vietnam, 1967.

 

A BIG HAUL OF POLISHED RICE

RECOLLECTIONS OF JACK BURR, 3RD PLATOON LEADER, A COMPANY, 1/35TH INFANTRY, SPRING, 1967

“This underbrush is so thick, we have to cut our way through to move, the squad leaders voice spoke over the radio.  I picked up the horn and returned the call.  “keep pushing”.

Talking to a squad leader, Central Highlands, South Vietnam

As 3rd platoon leader, A Company, 1/35th,  I had stopped the platoon for chow and a short rest.   Then we heard automatic weapons fire and M-79 grenade rounds being fired.  Our sister platoon had made contact with the North Vietnam Army units and our CO, Captain Yoshinna, told us to give the 1st platoon some help.

We were faced with the task of moving up the finger of the mountain just to the west of the action.  Sweat blurred our vision as the noon day sun took its toll of my men.  At times we had to crawl through the bush since that was easier than cutting a path.

Word came over the radio that the enemy had cut and ran and a recon squad had found a large cache of polished rice, mortar rounds and other equipment a few kilometers to the north.  It would our job to move the the booty in the coming days.  I halted the platoon and waited for the situation to develop a bit.

WHEN I LEFT 3RD PLATOON, A COMPANY, I WAS PROMOTED TO CAPTAIN AN ASSIGNED DUTIES AS BATTALION S-2

During the next few hours we sighted several groups of enemy soldiers moving along trails in the area.  The Artillery Forward Observers had a field day.  I took the RTO and a fire team and walked to a bluff that a squad had reported earlier.  We crouched as we approached the edge of the bluff and was surprised by what we saw.

About 200 meters below us ran a small creek and bunched around the running water were 10-12 enemy soldiers.  I turned to the grenadier and asked if he could hit the enemy soldier with the hat on.  He said he thought he could.

The over/under grenade launcher is an indirect fire weapon and as such it is almost impossible to accurately judge the trajectory when used in the direct mode.  But our grenadier was an expert with this weapon.   He took his firing position, looked over the muzzle, looked up to the sky, looked at the target, repeated the process, pulled the trigger and hit the guy standing in the middle of the bunch.  We opened up with our M-16’s at the same time.

As dark approached, we linked up with the 1st platoon and found a defensible area with an Landing Zone nearby.  We would need one the next day.

Soon after sunrise we started policing the battle area.  We bagged 26 tons of polished rice to be transported to the Duc Pho refugee center.  It took us several days.

Enemy soldiers  preferred  white over brown rice even though brown rice was more nutritious.  Brown rice is milled to remove another layer to reveal the preferred polished rice.

A day or so later I was promoted and assigned to Battalion Headquarters as the Intelligence Officer.

 

Note:  I gave the above account to a reporter for the “Tropic Lightning News” when I  was the 3rd Platoon Leader, A Company, 1/35 Infantry Battalion,  The story was printed June 5, 1967, Vol 2, No 22.

 

 

 

TEN HOURS IN SOUTH VIETNAM

LOG BOOK ENTRIES, 1/35th INFANTRY, SEPTEMBER 16, 1969

I thought I’d write about a typical day  inside the Tactical Operations Center (TOC) of an Infantry Battalion in combat.  I will be using the daily log and like most days, you may find this one a little boring, but I hope you find the entries informative and interesting.

The events were taken from incoming and outgoing calls recorded from midnight to 10:05 the following morning on the 16th of September, 1969.  SGT Dill was the Communications NCO responsible for maintaining the log entries recorded below.

SGT Dill on right, Can’t remember name of soldier on left

The log recorded activities within our Area of Operations (AO) including activities of units in the battalion, eg. Three infantry companies of approximately 150 men each.  Each company has 4 platoons of 3 squads.  The squad is the smallest maneuver element.  Other units  under the control of the Tactical Operations Center included a weapons company and a reconnaissance platoon.

Log books were declassified and are available online for those who are interested.  I’ve included comments which were not in the log sheets to help the reader better understand the entry.  My comments are in parenthesis.

LOG BOOK, THE 1/35th INFANTRY BATTALION, SEPTEMBER 16, 1969

01. 0010 HRS   DUST-OFF COMPLETE  (A Soldier with a stomach ache was evacuated by helicopter.  Doctor later determined it was appendicitis).

02.  0100 HRS   Bde informed of MAD MINUTE  (On order every man on the  perimeter of LZ Gyspy fired his weapon for one minute.  A Mad Minute was not a scheduled event.  The irregular firing of individual weapons had two purposes.  First, it served as a warning to attackers and also allowed soldiers to ensure their weapons were firing properly.)

03.  0200 HRS  Neg Situation report to Bde.   (sit rep)  (No action in units of the battalion).

04.  0205 HRS   Fr Bde – request Snoopy box#4    (OK ‘d Request for aircraft (AC) to fire saturation fires on a predetermined target within our AO, box #4.   The US Air Force AC-130A , Snoopy, aka Puff the Magic Dragon, is a side-firing gunship, primarily for night attacks against ground troops. The AC-130A or C-47 were equipped with three 7.62 mini-guns capable of firing 900 rounds a second at an altitude of 3000 feet with pinpoint accuracy.  It is said that Snoopy can fire a bullet in every square meter of a football field in 10 seconds.  (see  You tube, Snoopy).

05.  0210 HRS   Request approved  Snoopy box #5.  (Checked to confirm area was clear of friendlies before approving).

06.  0300 HRS   Neg Sit rep  (No action in units of the battalion).

07.  0340 HRS   C Co to cordone village AM  (VC were known to be  in village, described mission for next day,  gave location and  support needed, air support on standby, artillery, etc.).

08.  0400 HRS   Neg Sit   (No action in units in the  battalion).

09.  0410 HRS   From Bde – request Snoopy box  (OK’d Request for AC to fire saturation fires in AO, box #5, preselected boundaries marked and distributed to all units involved ).

10.  0500 HRS   Neg Sit rep (No action units in battalion).

11.  0600 HRS   Neg Sit rep  (No action units in battalion).

12.  0720 HRS   From Bde-request 2 Snoopy Boxs (OK’d Req for AC to fire saturtion fires in AO, boxes 6 & 11).

13.  0750  HRS   From S-1:  Did you put SGT……in for Army Commendation Medal?  (Yes recommended SGT Collins for Medal, gave supporting details).

14.  0800 HRS  To S-4:   get recount of # 90 & 91 (Got headcount of two units and gave to S-3 by 1100 hours.  Supply Officer needed headcount to calculate resupply of rations, water and other needed items).

15.  0813 HRS  from D Co:   LP’s (listening posts) returned to CP   ( Co gave ID of 3x Listening Posts rtn to command post (CP).

16.  0830 HRS   From A Co: 451 sweep, neg findings  (# 451 identified a particular squad within the Platoon and Company) Squad swept  perimeter, rtn to Command Post).

17.  0840 HRS    From 07:  need 2 day of H2O,.… (Recon req supplies, ammo, mines, flares, C4 for ops lasting 2 days).

18.  0850 HRS  From 07: depart for 23BM, then NE  (Recon departed for LZ, pickup supplies, then depart on ops).

19.  0853 HRS   From C Co: 45B departed for sweep   (Squad sweep of perimeter, return to Command Post).

20.  0855 HRS  From 25 to D Co: Line 39 return to Bn Send  (#39 is name of man) to Bn for reassignment).

21.  0910 HRS   Recon at 23BM awaiting resupply  (Chopper on the way).

22.  0910 HRS  From S-3 to BN CDR: prep needed? (Asking:  do you need artillery fires on  LZ BUFF to clear possible booby trps?

23.  0910  HRS  3rd plt, C Co, found arms cache, gave loc of en cache and hosp complex, will search & report findings.

24.  0935 HRS   LZ BUFF insertion  complete, NE.  (CO D landed at LZ BUFF and moving NE).

25.  1005 HRS   4.2 testing 50. cal to S Gypsy  (Mortar plt testing Hvy MG, 50. cal).

Approximately 100 entries were rerecorded on the September 16, 1969.  Many more when units were in contact with the enemy.  Two men were on duty at night and three or more in the daytime.  Most of the time I slept on a cot in the TOC a got about four hours of sleep.

Keeping an accurate  log book was the reponsibility of SGT Dill and the TOC radio operators.  I could always depend on SGT Dill to keep good records and to keep me informed of important developments.

As reflected in most of the entries, things were pretty slow.  Most of the stories I have written have been action stories.  However, for every one day of action, they’re many days of boring inaction.

The task before the soldier was to stay alert and be ready for what could happen in a blink of an eye.  Boredom is the natural enemy of readiness.

Note:  The above Log Book entries can be found at the Vietnam Historical Collection which was created and is maintained by the Texas Tech University.   Gateway to this extensive collection can be accessed by using this link.  https://www vietnam.ttu.edu/.  On the first page Select “Browse the Collections” as a starting point and follow documents about 1/35 Infantry Battalion, Log Book, Sept 16, 1967, 3rd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, Pleiku Vietnam, 1967.

BACK FROM DEPRESSION

THE ROAD TO RECOVERY:  JACK BURR

My purpose in posting this account is the hope that it may help others who identify with the struggle to reconcile the incongruities of life .  For the soldier, a haunting question remains long after the battle.  “why was I spared when the soldier next to me was not?”

When I tried to answer this question, irrational  guilt ensued, followed by depression.  Sometimes, dark and deep, but always silence in my conversation with others.  God used Phyllis to guide me to a healthy life.  She suggested that I write stories.

At first, I wrote about growing up on a farm.  Later, I was able to face the details of combat which was both therapeutic and liberating.  As I wrote stories I was able to locate several men I served with. More importantly, God has used this experience to further His Kingdom.

I owe much to Pace Caldwell.  See our story posted here describing events which occurred January, 1967.  Finding Eddie Dill was a seminal moment in my road to recovery..  See our story,  “Righteous Anger”, and “Finding Sgt Eddie Douglas Dill”, on this website.  God has a way of working things out for our good.

As I look back on these memories I sometimes wonder:  was the fighting and dying worth it?  In retrospect, I think not.  It was a war that should not have been fought.  As incongruous as this may seem,  I would do it again.  It was a lawful order and I was a soldier.

A good one I hope.

« Older posts

© 2020 Possum Hollar

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑