THE HO BO LANDING ZONE (XT548319).
At 8:11a.m., elements of one platoon landed. The other four helicopters arrived at the LZ at 8:25.
[SOURCE: 2-12 INF Battalion Duty Officer Log/Journal 24 October 1969]
The platoon moved northeast off the LZ (#1 on this map). On their left the platoon followed the line
of a brush covered banks of a small stream. Ahead of them was the usual hedgerows and more brush.
At 10 a.m. Alpha reported capturing two NVA, a VC and one VC female nurse out of a hole at XT552327
-- #2 on map. The enemy had one AK-47 and a P-38 pistol, two U.S. flares, clothing; 10 lbs of
documents, and medical supplies.
Meanwhile, Bravo Company was flown from Patrol Base Lorance and landed to the west of Alpha in
order to exploit the situation. After landing, Bravo immediately saw that the area was a VC
underground hospital (vicinity of #2B on this map). Bravo Company spent the afternoon in what
George Veitch, four-deuce mortarman and FO, called it "a rabbit hunt." One after another the VC
would pop out of holes and Bravo would shoot them.
After finding the medical bunker, Alpha company turned south, passed their mornings LZ and headed
for the mechanized infantry laager of C Troop, 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry -- nickname the "Three
At 11:20 a.m. at XT545314 -- #3 on map -- Alpha found another bunker near the laager, but as artillery
forward observer (FO), Lieutenant Jachowski, wrote in his JOURNAL, "No one was home." Inside the
recently vacated bunker was an AK-47, with four magazines and 200 rounds of ammunition; 4 lbs of
rice; 3lbs of clothing; 2 lbs of documents; and a map.
As elements of Alpha was searching the area, a "Stinger" gun ship 11/2 miles east was fired on by a VC
with an RPG. The gunship killed the VC and Alpha was ordered to fly over to investigate the contact. A
pick-up zone (PZ) was established at XT544312 (#4 on map) and shortly after 1 p.m. they flew out.
Speciialist Gordon Kimbel recalls it as this:
"We had been flying around all morning - just flying around, We were supposed to go back to
Pershing for the day when someone in the ship saw a VC below, I wanted to keep going, but they
wanted to land."
The TOC Battalion Journal of the 24th and Lieutenant Ski's Journal, records a element of Alpha on the
ground that morning.
Enemy strength: July 1968: 288,000. August 1969 232,000. "The war continues to be fought primarily by NVA troops."
2 AUG 69
D Co KIAs:
PFC David L. Deloach (20) of Statesboro, GA;
SP4 William T. Gresham, Jr. (20) of Ashland, MS;
PFC Gerald S. Lotridge (19) of Arlington, VA; and
SGT David C. O'Connor (21) of Indianapolis, IN
perished in Hua Nghia Province.
D Co. encounters a bunker complex and destroys it with organic weapons, artillery and the help of helicopter
4 AUG 69
A Co WIA:
SGT Vance Baustert Torres
PFC Mike Novak .
This was the day, the choppers landed us between Bo Heo and the Little Rubber and a bunch of guys were wounded
jumping out and hitting a booby-trap. They jumped off the chopper... boom... they jumped back on and were
20 AUG 69
D Co KIA:
PFC Richard P.Albert (21) of St. Agatha, ME
died of wounds (DOW) received in Hua Nghia Province.
24 AUG 69
B Co KIA:
2LT Dennis M. Skogerboe (25) 3rd Plt of Forest City, IA perished in Hua Nghia Province
Medic PFC Daniel E. "Doc" Faran (19), 3rd platoon Bravo Co. of Hawthorne, CA perished in Hua Nghia
Alpha company at Dees.
30 AUG 69
A Co. at Pershing.
Co. A, 1st platoon - working with the Ruff Puffs - are
ambushed on their way to their ambush site. But the
combined ambush patrol turned the tables on the VC.
1969 Tropic Lightning Hews:
COMBINED AP OUTFOXES FOE
by SP4 Larry Goodson
"FSB PERSHING -- A combined Vietnamese-American ambush patrol outfoxed a Viet Cong force
recently and wound up beating the enemy at his own game. The patrol made up of Fire Brigade
soldiers from Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry, and men from the 36th Popular Force
Platoon, encountered the unknown size enemy force two miles northeast of Trang Bang.
The Allies were moving along highway 6A and were approximately 250 meters from the scheduled
ambush site when, as Platoon Sergeant Bruce D. Holzhauer recalled it, "Charlie opened up where
thought we were." The patrol had just turned and was moving through open rice paddies when the
enemy put it's firepower on the road where the Warriors and Vietnamese had just been walking.
Private First Class Clyde Glover of Johnson City, Tenn., said "Everybody was already on line. All we
had to do was get down and return fire." A sweep of the area later confirmed that four enemy had
12 SEP 69
Jack Harrington WIA (three days short of his 21st birthday).
On 12 September the battalion was operating far to the east of their normal tactical area. A Light
Scout Team working with the battalion sighted enemy activity just three kilometers north-east of Cu
Chi base camp. The 'Warriors' reacted and engaged an estimated NVA platoon. The enemy force was
completely destroyed and by the end of the day, the battlefield was strewn with 33 NVA KIA, eight
AK_47s and 25 sets of NVA uniforms were also captured.
19 SEP 69
D Co. in Cu Chi for Stand Down.
21 SEP 69
1LT David L. Sackett (Co. A, 2nd platoon) Bronze Star Citation:
"For heroism in connection with military operations against a hostile force: First Lieutenant Sackett
distinguished himself by heroic actions on 21 September 1969, while serving as a platoon leader with
Company A, 2d Battalion, 12th Infantry in the Republic of Vietnam. While on a sweep of a village,
Company A received word that a gunship had spotted an enemy soldier near the village.
Immediately, Lieutenant Sackett led his platoon to the suspected area. Arriving on the scene,
Lieutenant Sackett spotted the muzzle of a rifle protruding from a hidden spider hole. Unhesitatingly,
Lieutenant Sackett, with complete disregard for his own safety, rushed the emplacement and threw a
hand grenade into the entrance, killing the three enemy occupants...."
WARRIOR Lt. LEARNS PITFALLS OF CARELESSNESS
CU CHI - A Fire Brigade platoon leader nearly disappeared into a bottomless pit recently while
attempting to check out a VC spider hole. But instead of quicksand or gravity pulling him under, it was
a frightened enemy soldier.
Airlifted into an area near the southern tip of the Boi Loi Woods, Company A, 2d Battalion, 12th
Infantry began a systematic search of a village suspected of harboring Viet Cong.
Shortly after sweeping the objective, elements of the 2d platoon found evidence that confirmed
The first contact with the communists proved to be hair raising for 2d Platoon Leader First Lieutenant
David L. Sackett when he attempted to enter a tunnel he believed to be abandoned.
As he lowered himself feet-first into the tunnel, Sackett was grabbed around the ankles by an NVA
soldier who was determined to pull the startled officer into his underground lair.
Quick reaction by Privates First Class James Byrd, Joseph Solleri, and Terry Ladd produced a tug-o-war
that resulted in the rescue of their somewhat shaken platoon leader.
Grenades thrown into the tunnel produced one wounded detainee.
Sackett said, "I learned today that no matter how safe a hole looks, it has to be fragged before it is
Interrogation of the detainee by Vietnamese scouts led to yet another VC hiding place in the
immediate area, which Private First Class John L. Razcykowski, Tygh Valley, Ore., described by stating,
"It didn't look like anything but a big mound of dirt. We started digging into it and broke through into
an underground bunker."
As soon as the occupants realized that they had been discovered, they emerged, armed with hand
grenades, from a well-concealed trap door. Both enemy were killed by alert security.
The operation came to a close after the Warriors had discovered an AK-47 rifle, a quarter-pound of
documents and an NVA diary. Two hundred pounds of rice and the sight for an 82mm Chi-Com mortar
were also tallied in the day's bag.
23 SEP 69
A Co., 1st platoon WIA:
Platoon Sergeant SGT Herb Ballard WIA and evacuated.
The 1st platoon was working northeast of Dees in the vicinity of XT5623, which was near X. Rang (1) --
the July 28th battle. . "We opened up on some VC who ran across the rice paddies into the woods,"
said Mike Novak. 1st platoon checked out the woods and found nothing. It was getting late of the day
and after some disagreement, the 1st platoon moved out single file using a ox-cart path. The
explosion blew Sergeant Ballard off the road and into the flooded rice paddy with a splash.
THE SEPTEMBER BOI LOI BATTLE
26 SEP 69
A Co. KIA:
PFC Norman K. Fork (21) of Laurel, NE perished in Tay Ninh Province.
A Co WIA:
PFC Juan G. Torris, Jr. and
PFC Clyde E. Glover.
B Co WIA:
SP4 Marcos Molina.
Boi Loi Woods / Mushroom / Trapazoid
The large mass of green in the lower-left is "the Boi Loi woods" - actually, the Reserve Forestiere de
Trang Co. It was deep within this jungle that the Sept. 26th battle took place at XT522333.
Lower-right: "The Mushroom" area of rice paddies and swamp formed by a loop in the Saigon River.
Delta company landed just to the west of the Mushroom near the intersection of the roads 6A and 238.
On the north side of the river "the Trapezoid" area of operation stretched northwest from the
Mushroom to the southern Michelin at Dau Tieng.
Sept. 26, 1969 BATTLE
0834 hrs Co. D LZ XT563322 [Off this map.]
0854 hrs Co. A LZ XT523344 [Blue Triangle]
0910 hrs Co. B LZ XT529344 [Just South of the village of Boi Loi and the stream on this map.]
Blue Square: NVA bunker complex.
Blue Rectangle: Evening Pickup Zone (PZ).
Company B came abreast of A and they both moved south "on line" - Alpha on the right / Bravo on the
left. Alpha was soon forced to proceed single file because of the difficulty in maintaining contact
between each other in the thick jungle. As Alpha moved south, they found and destroyed a Chi-Com
grenade (XT523338) and a U.S. "butterfly" bomb (XT522333). Shortly after eleven they were sitting
down for a break when they came under intense RPG and small arms fire from three sides. Alpha
expended their ammo fighting out of what turned out to be a horseshoe shaped NVA bunker complex.
At 1135 hrs Alpha called for a resupply and Dust off (of one soldier wounded in the leg) at XT517333.
This became the resupply and rally point for the days battle. Artillery, helicopter gunships and Air force
jets pounded the NVA - turning the lush jungle cover into a tangle of burnt and broken trees. At 1328hrs
Alpha and Bravo companies attacked towards the bunker complex and were forced back - sustaining 1
US KIA and 5 US WIA. Two hours latter - after more air and artillery strikes - the American companies
once more attacked. Co. A sustained 1 US WIA, wounded in the leg by shrapnel, and he was dusted off
at 1547 hrs by Dust off 79.
The bunker complex was never really explored because it was so large - a horseshoe shaped bunker
complex backed up by two parallel lines of bunkers - and beginning at 1720hrs Company’s A and B
where picked up at XT514322 and flown out of the contact area.
1Lt. David L. Sackett (Co. A, 2nd platoon) Silver Star Citation: "
...... First Lieutenant Sackett distinguished himself by heroic actions on 26 September 1969, while
serving as a platoon leader with Company A, 2d Battalion, 12th Infantry in the Republic of Vietnam.
While on a reconnaissance mission, Company A encountered a large enemy force. During the initial
contact, the lead element became pinned down by the intense hostile fire. With complete disregard
for his own safety, Lieutenant Sackett led four of his men forward through the enemy kill zone and
swiftly destroyed the main enemy emplacemets. Noticing that one of his men had been wounded,
Lieutenant Sackett moved to his side and administered life saving first aid. His valorous actions
contributed immeasurably to the defeat of the hostile force....."
WARRIORS USE SOMETHING OLD; NVA IS SOMETHING BLUE by PFC Jim Williams
CU CHI - Fire Brigade Warriors combined the oldest military tactic there is - the infantry assault - with
modern firepower of artillery, helicopter gunships and air strikes to decimate an NVA company, killing
30 enemy entrenched in the Boi Loi Woods. Airmobile to a landing zone in the northern part of
thewoods, the 2d Battalion, 12th Infantry's A and B Companies had begun an on-line sweep, relying on
reports that placed a large NVA force in the area. As Alpha Company came out into a clearing, two RPGs
roared directly toward the Warrior command group, which included Battalion Commaner Lieutenant
Colonel Burton J. Walrath Jr.. "One went over and the other fell short, " said Walrath. "They probably
saw our radio antennas." Company A laid down a base of fire as the enemy poured on more RPGs, AK-
47 and light machinegun rounds. At the same time, Bravo moved up and also came under fire. Both
companies were within 100 meters of the forward enemy element. Artillery of B Battery, 1st Bttalion,
8th Artillery and A Battery, 3d Battalion, 13th Artillery, and then air strikes were called in. The enemy
positions appeared to be well saturated, so both companies went into an assault. According to one of
the command group RTOs, Private First Class [Felton] Cunningham of San Antonio, Tex., "the fire from
the enemy was as heavy as before the air strikes." Both companies drew back and 1800 more rounds of
artillery, four light fire teams and several more air strikes tore up the positions of the entrenched NVA
soldiers. In Walrath's words, "We knew we were going back in." When the support fire decreased, B
Company moved around to the right flank with Alpha and gunships providing cover fire. Alpha then
organized a third assault on the enemy. Said Cunningham, "We ere 200 meters into the enemy
position, receiving sniper fire and we still couldn't see the bunkers in front of us." It was nearly four
o'clock in the afternoon when a heavy storm moved in from the northwest. By this time, 2000 pounds
of ammunition had been flown in to the ground troops by slick and LOH helicopters. In addition to the
30 enemy killed in action, 20 bunkers were destroyed along with 15 of the new AK-47s with the
collapsible stock. Walrath said, "The enemy was excellently disciplined, perfectly entrenched and
organized in depth. We beat part of them down and then ran low on ammo and weatherat the same
time. This was one of the most violent actions I had ever seen; Charlie knew he had been in a fight
when we finished with him that day." [SOURCE: KIRK RAMSEY at 25th Infantry Division Association.]
28 SEP 69
Co. A at stand down in Cu Chi, Waikiki East -- the first time that Alpha had used this rec area There is a
memorial service at the Cu Chi Chapel for Norm Fork.
During the month of October, the 2/12th Inf was in the 2d Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, with an area
of operations (AO) that ran north from Hwy 1 (Trang Bang) to the Saigon River. The AO included the
Ho Bo woods in which Alpha Company had major contact on October 24th. 2/12th "Rear" at Cu Chi Bn
Forward at FSB Pershing PB Dees (one company) PB Lorance (one company
2/12th assigned to:
2nd Brigade, 25th Inf Div
Rear area: Cu Chi
Forward: FSB Pershing (Battalion);
PB Dees (one company); PB Lorance (one company).
AO: Trang Bang to Saigon River
2 OCT 69
C Co. KIA:
SP4 Dennis M. Lambert (21) of New York, NY died of wounds (DOW) received in Binh Duong Province.
C Co. Eagle Flight and short RIF south of Pershing.
10 OCT 69
D Co. KIA:
PFC Maurice R. Kraemer (20) of East Jordon, MI perished in Hua Nghia Province.
11 OCT 69
A Co.'s artillery Forward Observer begining in October was Lt. Tim Jachowski, 1/8th Field Artillery, and
he kept a journal in Vietnam. I rely on it heavily for the history of the 2/12th in the next few months.
"Landed near Patrol Base Lawrence (5142) and worked south. Came up on an abandoned house and
surprised 4 VC. I almost got shot while lookingfor more VC. I was about 10 feet away when he opened
up. He missed, our guys didn't. We killed 2 and captured 2. We found a lot of documents. 2 AK's and
some medals. We got picked up and happened to see some mortars firing at Pershing while we were
flying over a hedgerow. We called it in to Pershing. The battalion called in a LOH and I got off the
Huey and in the LOH. Called in artillery on the area where I had seen the mortars. They were probably
gne by the time I got there," Jachowski wrote in his journal. Along about this time - in the Fall - PB
Lorence was torn down.
12 OCT 69
Lt. Jachowski soon picked up the nickname 'Lieutenant Ski.' He wrote: "We [A/2/12] started a three
day operation in the same area as yesterday. We PZ'd in the afternoon to Ap Thin Phong (5320). We
checked out the civilians and left for ambush positions as it was getting dark. The village was
mortared that night by the VC. No contacts that night."
13 OCT 69
Lt. Ski [A/2/12] wrote: "Just hung around a village untill about 1700 when we got resupplied. As it
began to get dark we moved off to another village. There were a lot of people on the road to Trang
Bang. We questioned them and they said they were afraid they were going to be mortared. The
company moved out to three ambush positions. It was a wild night. 2nd platoon had incoming rifle
fire most of the night. 1st platoon [Lt. Swift] had its holding position mortared just after they moved
to their ambush position. We [the CP group] were with the 3rd platoon and received fire twice. I
could hear the mortars firing at 1st platoon so I fired some artillery in [the enemy's] direction. In the
middle of my mission someone said the VC were coming down the road, but it was a false alarm. Net
results of the night action; no sleep, no casualties." Lt. David Sackett was awarded the Army
Commendation Medal for Heroism for his actions on the 13th: "While moving toa night ambush site,
Company A came under heavy small arms fire froman enemy force. Immediately Lieutenant Sackett
organized his men in a defensive position. With complete disregard for his own safety, Lieutenant
Sackett exposed himself to the hail of fire as he moved from position to position checking his men
and directing their fire on the hostiles.
14 OCT 69
Lt. Jachowski [A/2/12] wrote: " In the morning we reassembled and went to another village, sent out
a few RIF's. They finally caught up with some VC and killed 7. No losses on our side." Tuesday,
October 14, 1969 my [Sarge Holzhauer] return flight from R & R in Hawaii on a 'Military Hop'; Pan Am
Boeing 707-321 (registration # N405PA) was roaring down the runway at Anderson Air Force Base,
Agana, Guam, for takeoff when the left inboard engine fell off the plane. I had a window seat behind
the wing, and was looking at the thing when it went. The pilot aborted the takeoff. The "Stew's"
panicked. Some of us went out emergency chutes - but, because there was no fire, the rest of us
waited for the boarding stairs to be rolled out. I walked off the plane. There was a trail of debris and
skid marks 100 yards long. At the end of the debris sat the engine on the tarmac.
15 OCT 69
A Co. KIA Sergeant First Class Francis P. Creamer (28) of New York, NY perished in Hua Nghia Province.
"This turned out to be a bad day. We were patrolling around southeast of Perhing (529235). It was
very hot. About noon SFC Creamer was moving through some tall bamboo when he tripped a booby
trap. It killed him and wounded his RTO," wrote LT Jachowski.
BACK IN THE WORLD: The 'peace movement' called for an October 24th "Moratorium" to end the war.
18 OCT 69
A Co. KIA:
PFC Robert L. "Bob" LaCombe (21) of Brookshire, TX perished in Hua Nghia Province.
19 OCT 69
A Co WIA:
PFC Mike Dowling
20 OCT 69
A Co.'s Spc4 M. Alvarez WIA.
21 OCT 69
A Co.'s SSG Bruce Holzhauer; and Pfc. Keysaw WIA.
24 OCT 69
A Co. KIAs:
1LT Steven Boal (24) of Upton, WY;
SP4 Benton Brown (19) of Twin City, GA;
SP4 Ralph W. Johnson (19) of Minneapolis, MN;
1LT David L. Sackett (23) of Welch, WV; PFC Vernon J. Seger (20) of Minster, OH;
PFC Thomas D. Tomaszewski (20) of Buffalo, NY
Medic SP4 Ronald "Doc" Sowell (20) of Philadelphia, PA;
.....perished in Hua Nghia Province [Binh Duong Province in the "official" record because it was the
location the casualties were finally called in to Headquarters].
A Co. WIAs:
SGT Robert Funk (24) of Penfield, NY died of his wounds (DOW) two days latter;
SP4 Raymond E. Alcantra;
PFC Thomas Munger;
PFC Ronald Orr
PFC Timothy E.Shannon;
PFC Danny Griffin;
SP4 Earnesto Gonzales;
PFC Lonnie Wagner.
DEES TO THE HO BO
The night of the 23-24 October, Alpha's 1st Platoon (led by Lieutenant Duane Swift) had setup an
ambush outsice Patrol Base Dees and were to spend the day of the 24th resting and guarding the
patrol base. The two other rifle platoons (led by 1Lt. Steve Boal and 1Lt. David Sackett) were to
helicopter to the enemy stronghold of the Ho Bo woods.
Commanding Alpha company was Captain Eddie White -- a seasoned officer who spoke fluent
Vietnamese. Lieutenant Sackett was a West Pointer. Lieutenant Boal had Ranger training. All three
officers had been with Alpha company since August.
On operations the company commanding office (CO) -- Captain White -- usually took with him a
command group (CP) consisting of two RTOs who carried radios for the company frequency (name
unknown this day) and the battalion frequency (Spceialist 4 Gordon Kimbel), two riflemen as
'bodyguards', the company 'top sergeant' (SFC Dennis Johnston), and artillery forward observer (1Lt.
Tim Jachowski). Lieutenant Jachowski's RTO, and artillery recon sergeant, was Sergeant Ken Berg.
A helicopter -- call sign Hornet 03-- was on station at 6:50 a.m. and a four ship lift from the 116th
Assault Helicopter Company (Hornet's) made the first pick-up at Dees at 7:32. Each helicopter usually
carried six to eight infantrymen and four helicopters lifted a platoon (+/-). On the 24th there were to
be two platoons flying up to the Ho Bo's.
The four choppers flew north towards the Ho Bo's and circled for about forty minutes before landing
between an old dirt road (nicknamed Six Alpha) and the brush beside the waters Rach Soui stream at
8:11. The Slicks returned to Dees to pick up the balance of the company and made the round trip to
the LZ in about fifteen minutes.
"Gordy Kimbel recalls that "we were flying around a long time - looking for trouble."
As the first men of Alpha were landing, a platoon from their sister company, Bravo, spotted seven or
eight VC a half-mile north of Alpha' landing zone. Alpha moved off in that direction.
According to the 2/12th TOC journal, elements of Alpha helicopter'd from the 3/4 Cav laager area in two
four-ship lifts, and in less than five minutes the first unit was on the ground at XT568305 (marked LZ on
map). As the empty troopships of the Hornets were leaving they took heavy enemy small arms and RPG
fire (vic #3 on map).
When and how all the elements of Alpha gathered together is unclear - some came from the Mech's
laager area, and some, like Kimbel said, "we were just flying around."
When Gordon Kimbel landed "there was sniper fire and we hit the deck. Someone said it was just sniper
fire and we began to get up," then all hell broke out!
"As soon as we landed we had contact all over," wrote down Alpha's FO, Lieutenant Tim Jachowski.
A helicopter Light Fire Team (LFT) was called to Fire Support Base's tactical operations center (TOC), and a
gunship -- the pilot's nickname was 'Diamondhead 20' and the ships' # is unknown -- reported at 1:30 that
he was overhead and ready to provide support.
FO Lieutenant Jachowski kept a dairy while he was in Viet-Nam - "Third platoon moved north and got 2
NVA in holes, 2 AKs and one RPG. We moved south with 2nd platoon and started going into the bush."
According to the official US Army records held at the National Archives, D.C., and written down at the 2-
12th TOC on the 24th, the NVA were captured about 1:45 at XT570303 (#3 on map).
"3rd platoon got some fire. Lt. Sackett was wounded," wrote down Jachowski. "The rest of the platoon
drew back with no casualties. The battalion commander came down in his chopper once the firing
stopped and picked up Sackett - who died on the way to Pershing or Cu Chi, where ever they were going."
1Lt. David Sackett's award of The Bronze Star Medal For Heroism reads;
"While on a reconnaissance opeation, Company A came under heavy small arms, automatic weapons, and
rocket propelled grenade fire from an enemy force in well concealed bunker positions. Immediately
Lieutenant Sackett led his men in an assault of an enemy bunker, silencing the enemy. As he was
advancing on another bunker, Lieutenant Sackett was fatally wounded by enemy fire."
Lieutenant Ski continues, "We pulled back to some large bomb craters and called in two air strikes,
gunships and artillery. The air strikes were really close. The napalm couldn't have been more than just a
hundred meters away. There was one F-100 and one F-4. While I was calling in the artillery it started
raining really hard. I could just barely see where my stuff was landing. Ken [SGT Ken Berg.] was helping
spot the rounds."
"When the rain and artillery were done we went back in," continues Jachowski. "After 75-100 meters we
hit a machine gun nest. One man was wounded. We pulled back again."
SP4 'Gordie' Kimbel said that the enemy fire was so intense that "we joked about cutting off the buttons
of our uniforms to get closer to the ground."
According to the 2-12th TOC Journal, a Flame Bath drop was made by Little Bear 186 at about 3:15 p.m..
Helicopter Pilot Joe Finch, author of Angel's Wing, wrote me; "I can tell you it seems familiar. It sounds
like a time when we were asked to drop the flame bath within 50 meters of the friendlies. If you
remember those flame baths, they were often 50 meters wide. We were scared on that run. There was
enemy ground fire, and if it's the same one, I dropped it as close to the target as I could. Too close for
anyone's comfort. And because I could not afford to miss, I dropped it from a height of about 75 feet. It
bubbled the paint on the tail boom and the crew-chief bald me out; then the company commander
chewed my ass too. The report from the ground was that we scored a direct hit on the target and I
returned to my other mission."
25th Aviation helicopter pilot Greg Bucy recalls; "I flew a Cobra 3.5 hours that day and was probably out
there. I remember one time a large fire fight, with Tac Air in that area." [Tac Air is the Air Force
fighter/bombers.] "The thing I remember most about it was the F-4's were using fuse delay bombs (for
the tunnels). After one exploded I saw a bad guy fly up in the air with all the debris, do a back flip, then
land and get buried at the same time. The guy must have been blown a hundred feet in the air by the
During the action, someone -- Captain White according to Kimbel -- requested that the Three-Quarter Cav
help us out. C Troop, 3/4 CAV, dispatched a platoon containing 2 Sheridan tanks and 3 armored personnel
As the armored column was working its way through the jungle they spotted four VC at XT558305 and at
around 4:00 p.m. helicopter pilot Stinger 04 reported that he had engaged them and killed three of the
In the air, the Slicks of the division's 25th AVN (Little Bear's) and 116th AHC (Hornet's) were busy. At 3:45
pilot 'Little Bear 22' reported he was on station for a resupply run. At 4:35 pilot 'Hornet 23' landed his
helicopter and evacuated an infantryman wounded in the face during the 1410 exchange of fire.
The gunships of the 116th AHC (Stinger's) were busy too. Shortly after 5:00, a Stinger gunship spotted four
VC at XT576304 and killed them. At the same time, a Stinger gunship engaged and killed one VC at
XT560314. The enemy was either fleeing from, or moving towards the action.
[NOTE: I presume that 'Little Bear 22' made his resupply drop and 'Hornet 23' performed his dust off
around this time. -b.h.]
Lieutenant Jachowski gives a vivid account of what happened after the "three-quarter-cav" joined up with
Alpha. For the 2-12th's third, and final, attack at the bunker complex. "They came through the bush and
joined up with us. We got organized and started moving again. The cav platoon had 2 Sheridans and 3
APC's with us moving behind and between them. We followed the [Cav] platoon leaders track in. The
Sheridans fired a few main rounds and all the Cav vehicles started firing. It was very thick brush. You had
no visibility to the sides - only what was in front. Then we came to a large clump of brush. Two men were
shot dead off one of the tracks....." 3/4 CAV troopers Spc4 Robert Aday and Staff Sergeant Henry R.
Lambert were shot in their heads by a sniper and knocked off their APC(s), according to latter reports.
Alpha Company's Lt. Boal was killed - either trying to get to them or someone else.
"Captain White was trying to figure out what was happening," continued Jachowski, "but it was really a
mess, no visibility and everyone talking at once on the radio. There was a VC position in the brush clump
and two [Alpha] guys were shot in front of it."
Captain White's RTO, Gordon 'Gordie' Kimbel, said, "There was mass confusion! Captain White was trying
to figure out what to do. [The enemy] were everywhere. They were in the trees. Everywhere!"
The fighting was at very close range and the enemy were all around Alpha. Kimbel recalls seeing Spc4
Benton Brown shot dead before his eyes, "I could see the machine gun, but they couldn't see me. I took
off the radio and grabbed a couple of grenades and took out the machine gun in that brush." Kimbel was
awarded the Silver Star for heroism for his action in taking out that gun.
Artillery FO Lt. Jachowski wrote in his dairy, "There was a VC position in the brush clump.... The battalion
RTO threw a couple of grenades in he brush which silenced it for a while. Later firing came from there
again and [Captain] White had the [APC] track roll over the clump and fire the .50 cal down into where the
hole probably was."
Jachowski continues, "Ken [Artillery RTO Sgt. Ken Berg] went over with the 3rd platoon to man a machine
gun leaving me with the radio. We started getting woundedcoming over to our position, which was in the
center. I couldn't call in anything because we were in the middle of their position. All the fighting was at
very close range. They were well dug in and waited until we were right on top of them before firing."
Two members of Co. A, 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry (David Fanesi and Ronald Sowell) earned the Nations
second highest award for heroism - the Distinguished Service Cross.
FANESI DSC CITATION
"When the platoon leader was fatally wounded during the initial exchange of fire, Sergeant Fanesi
immediately assumed command of the platoon and led his men in an assault on the enemy stronghold.
As the element maneuvered toward the enemy bunkers, four of the men were wounded and pinned
down by the intense hostile fire. Quickly organizing a medical rescue team, he moved to the aid of the
wounded soldiers. As the team was evacuating the casualties, three enemy soldiers opened fire,
wounding the medical aidman. Sergeant Fanesi moved without hesitation to an exposed position and
killed the three hostile troops with accurate automatic weapons fire. While moving the casualties to a
safer area, the rescue team encountered two more of the enemy in a concealed bunker. Sergeant Fanesi
quickly assaulted the bunker, and, although wounded himself, he killed the two soldiers with several
well-placed hand grenades."
SOWELL DSC CITATION:
"Specialist Four Sowell distinguished himself on 24 October 1969 while serving as a medic during an
airmobile operation. On this date his company came under intense automatic weapons fire from an
enemy force in a well-fortified bunker complex. The friendly element assaulted the hostile
emplacements three times attempting to rout the enemy from their positions. During the final assault
the third platoon suffered numerous casualties and Specialist Sowell began to maneuver through the
hostile fusillade to their aid. He crawled to within 5 feet of an enemy bunker to treat a wounded comrade
and then carried him to the relative safety of the friendly defensive lines where he insured the casualty
would receive treatment. Again he returned through the hail of enemy rounds to help another wounded
soldier and while evacuating him Specialist Sowell was seriously wounded by rifle fire. After bringing his
fellow soldier to safety, he received medical attention but refused evacuation. Despite the withering
volley of fire he again advanced to within 5 feet of an occupied bunker to administer aid to another
wounded man. As he was carrying the soldier back to cover behind the perimeter, Specialist Sowell was
shot again and fatally wounded. He managed to drag his comrade to cover before succumbing."
116th AVN Pilot Graig V. Fielding (Stinger 99) witnessed the carnage on the ground, "I must admit that I
had forgotten the date, but I will never forget the day. This was not the first, last, nor was it the largest
fire fight I was involved with during my tour. It is, however, the day I am reminded of when I hear
someone question the resolve or ability of the American Infantryman. I will forever carry with me the
individual and collective acts of heroism witnessed from 200 feet above in our gunship.... I send a
salutation to the men of Company A 2/12 Infantry, and C Troop 3/4 CAV. I also recognize the bravery of the
men of the 268th VC/NVA. We all lost a lot of good men on that day."
EVENING & NIGHT
THIS IS A PHOTO OF PATROL BASE DEES
- Courtesy of Ken Nerpel
"ALPHA IS IN A HELL-OF-A-FIGHT!"
During the day, Alpha's 1st platoon at Dees was listening to the radio at the Commo Shack - hell,
everyone in the 12th was listening, or had heard the rumor, that "Alpha is in a hell-of-a-fight in the Ho
Co. C, 2nd platoon, platoon leader Lieutenant Steve Slayton occasionally listened-in as his platoon
moved along Six Alpha working road security for the convoy.
Former Delta platoon leader Lieutenant Terry O'Connell had rode the convoy from Cu Chi to Pershing in
order to say goodbye to his former platoon. He had just left the 2-12th to take a new job to lead a new
Recon unit for Delta of the Three-Quarter Cav. "My guys were out, and I hung around Pershing for the
day. Everyone knew that Alpha was in a big fight in the Ho Bo's. PRC-25s were tuned in to Alpha's
After coming off Road Security, Lieutenant Slayton was summoned "to get your gear and report to TOC,
Up there I was told 'you are going up to the Ho Bo's -- Alpha had lost a couple of platoon leaders and
your going up to help out," Slayton flew out just as the sun was going down. "I remember landing and
talking to someone -- maybe it was White -- who pointed me to a position and the men were spent
Lieutenant O'Connell was shanghaied by his former Delta commander, Captain Wolfe, and ordered to
the Ho Bo woods. "I finally met-up my former platoon at the Pershing PZ." The platoon was to relief
Alpha and had been waiting for helicopters that never came. A single helicopter landed for supplies,
Lieutenant O'Connell and another lieutenant. "It was dark when we landed -- "well, kicked us out at a
hover and tossed a pile of stuff on top of us." O'Connell found himself in the elephant grass in the
pitched dark, "We didn't know where we were.... where Alpha was. Fortunately we had a radio with us
and Major Quickmire said they knew where they were and would send somebody out. A couple of guys
crawled out and we low crawled and dragged supplies back into the NDP. "The first thing I saw was a
guy in shock and a bunch of medics working on him. There were no defenses. They had packs and
everything they could piled up and they made a little ant line until they got the pile of supplies they
got off the chopper. We spent the night all awake - nothing happened."
TOC NOTES OCT24-25:
LZ ........................ XT568306
"Contact" area ..... (vic) XT5730
NDP [evening]..... (vic)568305
CO. A MORNING REPORT
The October 25th Morning Report for A Co. has the location as XT584305 - an area north-east of the
contact area on an old road-bed. There is a trail leading directly from the "contact" site to this location -
yet, the 2/12 Inf TOC Journal has a PZ site for Alpha (2/12) at XT568304 the morning of the 25th.]
Spc4 Kimbel didn't recall any Mech being at the laager - neither did Lieutenant Slayton. Evidently the
3/4 Cav had a battle moving towards Alpha and did not make it to the 2/12th the day of the 24th.
Stars & Stripes
STARS & STRIPES (Pacific) NEWS ARTICLES about October 24th
- Courtesy S & S Archives:
Sunday Oct. 26, 1969 25th DIV. KILL 47 REDS IN BATTLE NEAR CAMBODIA S & S Vietnam Bureau SAIGON -
Heavy fighting erupted 30 miles northwest of Saigon Friday afternoon as GIs of the U.S. 25th Inf. Div.
and North Vietnamese troops tangled in the area of the Cambodian border for the second straight day.
Fourty-seven Reds and 10 Americans were killed in the latest battle and 12 U.S. soldiers were
wounded. Thursday, at least 93 Communists were killed in scattered clashes between the capital and
the border, but spokesmen said Allied casualties had been light. The 25th Div. soldiers, supported by
armored tracks and heavy air and artillery strikes, scattered the remaining enemy shortly before
sundown Friday after a five-hour battle. They also picked up 15 Red weapons, three of them crew-
served, on the battlefield nine miles northeast of Trang Bang ......................
Monday, Oct. 27, 1969
25th ROUTS REDS AT POINT BLANK RANGE
S & S Vietnam Bureau SAIGON -
With U.S. and Communist troops at times trading fire from bomb craters and tree stumps only a few
yards apart, U.S. 25th Inf. Div. troops and American air power broke up an enemy supply-and-assembly
point Friday, U.S. spokesmen reported Saturday. Casualties - 47 Communists killed and 10 American
dead and 12 wounded - were the largest reported in any single action involving ground troops for more
than a month. The clash began when helicopter crewmen working with the 25th Inf. Div. killed three
enemy spotted in a crater near the Saigon River north of the Ho Bo woods. Infantrymen from the 25th
Div. rode choppers in to sweep through the area 30 miles northwest of Saigon and immediately
received heavy small arms fire. Artillery fire and massive aerial strikes - including air force F4, A37 and
F100 jet bombers and 25th Div. OV10 Broncos - pounded down a heavy cover fire for the GIs, Armored
tracks moved in to join the infantrymen, who received fire from all directions from the scattered Reds,
and the combined ground force fought into what was later discovered to be a supply-and-assembly
point for a Viet Cong regiment, manned by at least 80 per cent North Vietnamese personnel. The Reds
fled into swollen marshes on the opposite side of the river shortly before sundown. Elsewhere
throughout South Vietnam
25 OCT 69
The day of the 25th, Alpha flew back to Patrol Base Dees and Delta swept the battle area.
Delta came up in APC's and Lieutenant O'Connell joined them. He recalls, "We went through the
aftermath. These huge bomber craters and body parts all over the place."
26 OCT 69
A Co. KIA:
SGT Robert N. Funk (24) of Penfield, NY who was wounded during the Oct. 24th battle died of wounds
27 OCT 69
A Co. WIA:
Jim "Catfish" Spence WIA.
OPERATION TOAN THANG III ends
OPERATION TOAN THANG IV begins
Co. A -- and perhaps with others of the 2-12th -- platoons split up and some went to FSB Hampton (Go
Da Ha area).
1 NOV 69
D Co. KIA:
PFC Herschel C. Smith (20) of Millfield, OH perished in HuaNghia Province.
11 NOV 69 - See 9 DEC 69
14 NOV 69
D Co WIA:
PFC Steve Gray wounded by mortar attack at PB Dees. He was blown off the top of a bunker.
16 NOV 69
B Co. KIA:
PFC Marvin R. Berhowe (21) of Independence, MO perished in Hua Nghia Province.
30 NOV 69
B Co. KIA:
SP4 Tom Habad (21) of Hinsdale, IL perished in Hua Nghia Province.
2 DEC 69
B Co. KIA:
PFC Lyle F. Kell (19) of Wood Dale, IL perished in Hua Nghia Province.
D Co. WIA's:
PFC Fernando Gonzales
PFC Joseph J. Trusso
PFC. Peter R. Selby
3 DEC 69
C Co. WIAs:
PFC Dennis W. Mench
SGT John E. Nash
2LT James S. Parker
SGT Gary S. Ricci
SP4 David O. Shelton
PFC George W. Smith
PFC Gary Veeh
On this action Co. C moved out of the NDP 2/12 INF working OPCON with the Mech [?3/4 Cav?]. SGT
Ricci spotted VC and opened with one shot until weapon had stoppage. VC held ComChi grenades and
held seven (7) minor Purple Hearts
4 DEC 69
D Co. KIA:
CPT Hiram M. Wolfe IV (25) of Springfield, VA perished in Hua Nghia Province.
It's not in the record, but according to Michael Duncan, Medic, the company had sprung an ambush a
day earlier and CPT Wolfe decided to booby trap the bodies. The company remained in the area the
next day, and the CPT wanted to return later and check out the bodies to see if anything had
happened with his booby traps. That afternoon after patrolling the area, the company returns to the
bodies. CPT Wolfe and several other soldiers easy over the where the bodies are, leaving the rest of
the company behind about 30-40 yards away. CPT Wolfe sets off one of the booby traps and mortally
wounded himself. He was put on a Medevac and air lifted to 12th Evac Hospital in Cu Chi, but died
several hours later. Michael recalls this happening on December 14th, but all the records indicate
December 14th, including the casualty report. For a full accounting of this story, see "Last days for CPT
Wolfe" in RESEARCH > BATTLE STORIES CONT'D by Michael Duncan, HHC, D Co. Medic.
5 DEC 69
A Co. WIA's:
SP4 Howie Alexander,
SGT Frank Viscomi,
PFC John "Randy" Cornett
The 1st platoon was working north of Trang Bang, crossing a flooded rice paddy, towards a small
village when a booby trap exploded, Containing glass and scrap metal, it wounded Lockwood and
Cornett. They were dusted off. The platoon continued their mission, made contact, and several men
[SOURCE: John "Randy" Cornett.]
A Co WIA:
CAPT Jerry Andrews
ELSEWHERE IN VIETNAM:
At the 6 DEC 1969 Weekly Intelligence Estimate Update (WIEU) General Abrams said; "But I'll tell you
one thing, that 25th Division-woo, that's a coldblooded outfit! They're really sharp-the U.S. 25th.
There's no bullshit there. That's a very professional thing. I got no dancing girls in the briefing or any
of that. Really tight."
8 DEC 69
A Co. WIA's:
SP4 Willie Harrell,
PFC Latty Villanueva, and
PFC Robert Ziobro.
Alpha's Arty FO LT Tim Jachowski wrote in his diary, "The company is more or less breaking up. The 1st
platoon is going to Hampton [Lt. Swift]. The second [Lt. Slayton] is in the Bo Loi with the Cav and the
third [ ?Led by what Lt.?- Editor] is here at Pershing.
Co. A WIA:
PV2 Rodney Finkelson
Medic "Doc" Shangreux
LT Jachowski writes " .... I went out with the [Alpha's] 3rd platoon and a bunch of ARVNs. .... Had some
casualties up in the Boi Loi [2nd plt.].... An RPG hit a Sheridan and they got the splash. Doc Shangreux
was a Sioux and lost an arm, he was a real great guy. I hear he's doing all right. Had some incoming, I
slept through it. The artillery called me up and asked if I had a shell report, I told them I didn't hear
anything. Oh well." (it's possible that this action took place on November 11th, there is a discrepancy
in the records - Sarge)
12 DEC 69
B Co. KIA:
PFC Arlyn L. Lampert (20) of New Albin, IA died of wounds (DOW) received in Binh Duong Province.
13 DEC 69
A Co. KIA:
PFC James Michael Cheatham (20) of Morganfield, KY perished in Hua Nghia Province.
A Co WIA:
and two others.
LT Jachowski's diary:
"We had one killed and three wounded by booby traps near old PB Lawrence, 3 incoming rockets
tonight, didn't hit anything."
25 DEC 69
LT Slayton's platoon had ambush Christmas night.
26 DEC 69
From Arty FO, LT Tim Jachowski's diary: "Started out walking around south of [Lawrence] for a while.
They are starting to plow up Lam Vo...... [Patrol Base] Dee's is also going down. .....then flew on up
near the little peninsula and headed west to Highway 6A. Lt. Paschke has an ambush position below
[Sa Nho (vic XT5626)]."
"Flew up to the southwestern Boi Loi today and riffed around for a while....... We moved into three
ambush sites very near the ones we had on the last Bushmaster." [JACHOWSKI]
28 DEC 69
"Nothing happened on the bushes. We had breakfast at our ambush site then flew on over to the
little peninsula and laid around in a holding area the rest of the day...... moved into our ambush
positions about 1800. Just as it was getting dark 3 VC came walking up to our position heading
towards the other two Ambush positions. They [passed] us and [moved] on down to the third
ambush position. Number 3 opened up on them. One VC made it back to our position and we got
him along with a pistol. The next day we found an AK-47 but no sign of the other people."
31 DEC 69
"Flew down by New Ong Dam at 1500 and set up three APs. It got very foggy. Had the chaplain come
with us. Pershing had quite a fireworks display at midnight for the New Year." [JACHOWSKI
© All of (Lieutenant) Tim Jachowski Dairy/1969-70 JOURNAL is Copyright, all rights reserved.