Vietnam Field Forces Maps - Suoi Tre
Location of the regiment's Presidental Unit
Citation - OPERATION JUNCTION CITY
- Phase II
Suoi Tre / LZ Gold / FSB Gold
Close up of area.
The Brigade should have known they were in for a fight
when the units first arrived and received a warm
reception at LZ GOLD. Within a few short days, the VC
were not happy we set up shop right in the middle of
their staging area. By March 21th, the VC, 2,500 strong,
thought they could over run the small force guarding FSB
The battleground was NE of Nui Ba Den, near an
abandoned village east of the Suoi Samat stream (some
maps show "May Tau" steam). Battle involved the A 3/22,
B 3/22, 2/77 Arty, 2/34, 2/22 and 2/12th. Over 647 VC
confirmed KIA and largest battle ever in Vietnam.
U.S. Losses were 31 KIA's and 187 WIA's.
For more articles on the battle, click on any of these links:
Another great website is from the 2/77th Artillery
Nui Ba Den
Suoi Tre - March 21, 1967
The Recommendation of a Presidential Unit Citation below has significantly more information that the actual Presidential Unit Citation.
Audio tape of TV report + Takes a long time to load so be pacient
[the text below has been reformatted for economy, for the actual text in the recommendation see the link above]
HEADQUARTERS 3D BRIGADE
4TH INFANTRY DIVISION
APO SAN FRANCISCO 96268
AVDDC-CO 1 April 1967
SUBJECT: Recommendation for the Presidential Unit Citation
THRU: Commanding General
25th Infantry Division
APO SF 96225
THRU: Commanding General
II Field Force
APO SF 96266
TO: Commanding General
United States Army, Viet Nam
APO SF 96307
1. The Presidential Unit Citation is recommended for the 3d Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, and all assigned and attached units (see Enclosure 2), for their actions on 21 March 1967.
2. On 19 March 1967 elements of the 3d Brigade made an opposed airmobile assault into a small clearing near the abandoned village of Suoi Tre in central War Zone C, Republic of Viet Nam, at coordinates XT385708. Their mission was to establish a Fire Support Base at the location of the air landing to support further offensive operations. The Fire Support Base was code named “Gold” after the code name of the landing zone. By late afternoon on 19 March the 2d Bn 77th Artillery (105mm) had been airlifted into position. On 20 March the 2d Bn 12th Inf, under the command of LTC Joe F. Elliot, had moved west on a search and destroy mission against Viet Cong forces suspected to be in the area. Less than two battalions of U. S. Troops now remained at Fire Support Base Gold, the 3d Bn 22d Inf (minus Company C), commanded by LTC John A. Bender, and the 2d Bn, 77th Artillery, commanded by LTC Jack Vessey. Total complement of U. S. troops at Fire Support Base Gold was less than 450. To the south, the 2d Bn 22d Inf (M) under the command of LTC Ralph Julian, and the 2d Bn 34th Armor (minus company B) under the command of LTC Raymond L. Stailey were attempting to cross the Suoi Samat River and join the 2d Bn 12th Inf in an offensive sweep to the west. During the afternoon of 20 March the Brigade Commander observed 30 - 35 Viet Cong 2,000 meters southwest at Fire Support Base Gold. The enemy was engaged with artillery and all units were alerted to the possibility of enemy activity.
3. At first light on 21 March 1967, in accordance with standing operating procedures, a stand-to was conducted in FSB Gold and a security patrol from 3d Bn, 22d Inf began a sweep of the perimeter. This action prematurely triggered an attack on FSB Gold which subsequently proved to be the largest single attack and the most catastrophic enemy defeat of the war to date.
4. As the security patrol moved to sweep the perimeter, the enemy force began a heavy mortar attack at 0640 hours followed minutes later by a ground assault from the north, east, and south. This enemy force was later determined to be approximately 2,500 men strong, composed of three battalions of the 272d VC Main Force Regiment reinforced by two attritional battalions, and supported by the U-80 Artillery Regiment. The mortar attack consisted of some 500-700 rounds of both 60mm and 82mm. At Brigade Headquarters, thirteen thousand meters southwest, an alert that FSB Gold was under attack was relayed to all elements of the Brigade. B Btry, 3/13 Arty (115 SP), C Btry 1/8 Arty (105mm), B Btry, 2/32 Arty (8-inch and 175mm), B Btry, 2/35 Arty (155 SP), all located within supporting distance of FSB Gold, commenced firing preplanned defensive fires into every clearing large enough for the enemy to use as a mortar position around Fire Support Base Gold. The Brigade Commander, Colonel Marshall B. Garth, and the Brigade Sergeant Major, AMG Bill V. Woods, boarded the only available aircraft, an OH 23-G helicopter, and flew from Soui Da to the scene of the battle. Simultaneously, the Forward Air Controller from Dau Tieng and fighter pilots from Bien Hoa Airbase scrambled their aircraft. Less then 20 minutes from the impact of the first mortar round, the small force at FSB Gold was engaged in a bitter, hand-to-hand struggle with the enemy.
5. The situation inside FSB Gold had by this time become so critical that howitzers within the perimeter were lowered to fire directly into the waves of advancing enemy soldiers. The tenaciously held perimeter of the Fire Support Base had been penetrated in the north and southeast by 0751 hours. During this penetration the enemy succeeded in overrunning and destroying one M-55 Quad .50 caliber machine gun and actually penetrating one of the howitzer positions. The other Quad .50 MG had been destroyed by an anti-tank round during the initial attack. In all, two howitzers were totally destroyed by mortar and anti-tank rounds, and nine others were damaged. In addition, many of the more than 500 RPG-II anti-tank rounds which were fired into the support base landed in the ammunition stores. In spite of the withering small arms fire and the exploding stores of 105mm ammunition, the gun crews remained at their guns, cannibalizing the destroyed howitzers to keep the damaged ones firing. Crew members from destroyed guns carried ammunition and steeped in to fill vacancies as casualties occurred in the operation crews. All cooks, clerks, and other available personnel of the artillery battalion which had been formed into a preplanned reaction force, now moved to block the penetration of the infantry’s perimeter. By this time the infantry soldiers on the perimeter of the FSB who were subjected to the brunt of the assault were fighting from isolated positions as the determined enemy force penetrated and encircled the U.S. defensive positions. Small elements of the U. S. soldiers fighting fiercely in hand-to-hand combat continued to resist the assaulting enemy. As the fighting intensified and ammunition stocks depleted friendly troops reacted quickly to the situation, seizing weapons and ammunition from the dead and wounded enemy. During the course of the action, the penetrating Viet Cong threatened the Command Post of the 3d Battalion, 22d Infantry and the Fire Direction Center of the 2d Battalion, 77th Artillery. These positions were successfully defended, however, and the enemy assault was repulsed after suffering numerous casualties. Twenty-six dead Viet Cong soldiers were found within 50 meters of the artillery Fire Direction Center. By the time the relief force reached the scene of the battle it was estimated that over half of the troops on the eastern portion of the perimeter had exhausted their own ammunition and were using captured AK-47’s and Chicom carbines.
6. Meanwhile, two defensive ambush patrols from 3d Bn, 22d Inf, composed of 15 men from Company A, 3d Bn, 22d Infantry at XT384709 and 12 men from Company B, 3d Bn, 22d Infantry at XT388702 reported “hundreds” of Viet Cong all around their positions. The patrols were told to remain in their ambush sites and move back to the perimeter at the first opportunity. Prior to their withdrawal they reported enemy carrying parties pulling “hundreds” of dead and wounded VC to the rear. Both patrols eventually made it back to the perimeter, however nearly half their original number were either dead or wounded.
7. Air strikes were called in on the outskirts of the perimeter and all supporting artillery units were firing final protective fires around the support base. Nearly 4,100 rounds of varying caliber were used in the accomplishment of their mission. When the Forward Air Controller directing U.S. fighter planes was shot down by enemy antiaircraft weapons, another plane was made available at Dau Tieng and a replacement FAC was on station within minutes.
8. Alerted at 0655 hours and ordered to move to the aid of the beleaguered defenders of FSB Gold, the 2/12 Inf, 2/22d Inf (M), and 2/34 Armor pressed on from positions as far away as 3,000 meters. As they started to move, the 2d Bn 12th Inf was subjected to heavy concentrations of enemy mortar fire in an attempt to delay their progress. Treating their wounded on the move, the 2d Bn 12th Inf continued to push on through 2,500 meters of heavy bamboo and underbrush toward their objective at FSB Gold. Harassed by sniper fire and blocked by security elements of the enemy’s main attack force, the 2d Bn 12th Inf continued to advance, moving the 2,500 meters overland through dense jungle against a determined enemy in less than two hours. The first elements of the 2d Bn, 12th Inf entered the southwestern part of the perimeter minutes before the mechanized elements arrived at 0900 hours.
9. For the 2/22d Inf (M) and the 2/34th Armor, the order to reinforce meant crossing the Suoi Samat River which had already halted their advance for 24 hours while they searched for a suitable crossing site the previous day. The success of the enemy effort was dependent upon this natural obstacle to prevent the reinforcement of FSB Gold. Realizing the urgency of the situation, a personnel carrier was quickly brought forward with the idea of sinking it in the river to serve as an expedient bridge for the remaining elements. Meanwhile, A Co, 2/22d Inf (M), attached to the 2/34th Armor, located a possible crossing site and had pushed one APC across. The first armored vehicle reached the far side of the river at approximately 0745 hours. The lighter Personnel Carriers were pushed through first and the heavier tanks of the 2d Bn, 34th Armor brought up the rear.
10. Having been repulsed on their first attempt to overrun the FSB, the enemy mortared the objective once again and launched a second determined ground assault. This second assault was interrupted as mechanized columns of the 2/22d Inf (M) and foot elements of the 2/12th Inf almost simultaneously broke into the clearing at 0900 hours, trapping the enemy in a murderous crossfire. The 2/34th Armor was trailing, and swept in immediately behind the mechanized battalion. Both the mechanized and armored elements passed through the 2d Bn, 12th Inf and swept around the southern and eastern half of the FSB while enemy troops swarmed over the APC’s. The heavy guns of the tanks were firing direct fire at point blank range into the teeming mass of troops as the enemy panicked and attempted to flee. After the mechanized units assisted in breaking the force of the attack in the eastern and southern flanks, the 2d Bn, 12th Inf moved in on the west and northwest, sweeping the entire perimeter and neutralizing the small remaining pockets of resistance. The full force of available air and artillery support was brought to bear against the Viet Cong force which was now desperately trying to break contact.
11. At 0931 hours, during the first lull in the fighting, with dazed VC still wandering inside the perimeter, the Brigade Commander directed his UH1-D Command ship to land in the center of the battle area. Without hesitation, Colonel Garth directed that his helicopter be used to evacuate the wounded while he remained at FSB Gold to personally direct the conduct of the action.
12. Behind the scene of the fighting in Suoi Tre there was another kind of battle going on, one that drew on the resources and ingenuity of all support personnel in the Brigade. All available ammunition stores for both howitzers and small arms were rapidly being depleted. Thousands of meters away, at Dau Tieng Base Camp, at Suoi Da, and at Tay Ninh, the support and service elements of the Brigade were moving and loading tons of ammunition on UH1-d and CH-47 helicopters which flew, in spite of a heavy could cover, to begin the tedious and dangerous task of resupplying ammunition to the engaged units. At FSB Bronze, the primary support base for FSB Gold, the first resupply of howitzer ammunition was airlifted in minutes before the last on-hand round was slammed into the breech of a howitzer of C Btry, 1st Bn, 8th Arty.
13. By 1145 hours the intensity of the fight had tapered off and there remained only the slow task of clearing the battlefield. The scope of the battle was so vast that five days later security and ambush patrols from FSB Gold found weapons and bodies, and captured wounded prisoners up to 1500 meters away.
14. In just over five hours of intense fighting the 3d Brigade, 4th Infantry Division used the following amounts of ordnance:
2/77 Arty 2,200 rounds of 105mm He
40 rounds of 105mm Beehive
C, 1/8 Arty 1,008 rounds of 105mm HE
B, 3/13 Arty 357 rounds of 105mm HE
B, 2/35 Arty 357 rounds of 105mm HE
B, 2/32 Arty 22 rounds 175mm; 20 rounds 8 inch
7th Air Force (14 immediate 34 tons of ordnance, not including
missions consisting of 31 20mm used in strafing runs
sorties along the perimeter
of FSB Gold; additional
missions were flown in
pursuit of the withdrawing
15. The infantry units in contact used approximately 90% of the two basic loads, carried by all the units, of small arms ammunit8ion, grenades, claymores, 81mm and 4.2 inch mortar ammunition.
16. Total U. S. casualties for the battle of Suoi Tre were 31 KIA and 187 wounded in action, 92 of which were evacuated. The remaining wounded were treated on the scene and returned to duty. By mid-afternoon of 21 March all U. S. personnel were accounted for with none missing or captured.
17. Enemy killed numbered 647 by body count. Ten prisoners, to include one wounded prisoner found two days later, were captured. Two of the prisoners later died of wounds. From the patrol reports of the 2d Bn 22d Infantry and interrogation of prisoners and defectors, it was conservatively estimated that at least 200 more of the enemy were killed and evacuated.
18. Analysis of the enemy actions of 21 March 1967 indicate an intent to conduct a ground attack against the 2d Battalion, 12th Infantry immediately following the mortar attack on that unit. Only the early commitment of the 2d Battalion, 12th Infantry prevented the ground attack. The entire movement of the battalion was subjected to continuous sniper fire from the north flank. The presence of the great numbers of anti-tank weapons further indicated that the Viet Cong expected a quick “roll-up” of Fire Support Base Gold followed by an engagement with the mechanized forces. In spite of a heavy preponderance of automatic and anti-tank weapons, the Viet Cong force was so thoroughly defeated that the mechanized forces suffered only two slightly wounded personnel. Not one M-113 armored personnel carrier or M48A3 tank was struck by anti-tank fire during the course of the engagement.
MARSHALL B. GARTH
HEADQUARTERS 3D BRIGADE
4TH INFANTRY DIVISION
APO San Francisco 96268
AVDDC-A 29 March 1967
1. Significant enemy weapons and ammunition captured during the battle of Suoi Tre:
a. WEAPON NUMBERED CAPTURED
US Browning Auto Rifle 13
US M-14 5
SKS Carbine 12
Chicom 7.92 Rifle 13
US M-79 Grenade Launcher 2
US 12-guage shotgun 3
Pistol P-38 3
US Rifle, M-1 10
31,000 rounds of small arms ammunition
1,900 stick grenades
580 rounds of RPG-2 ammunition
40 rounds of 75mm Recoilless Rifle ammunition
28 rounds of 57mm Recoilless Rifle ammunition
21 DH-10 claymore mines
8 DH-2 claymore mines
2. Intelligence summary of enemy situation at time of the battle:
a. Approximately 2,300 pounds of assorted Viet Cong equipment and web gear were collected and destroyed during an after battle police of the battle area.
b. Based on information from captured documents and statements from prisoners of war, it has been determined that 3d Brigade forces were attacked by the 27d main force Viet Cong Regiment and two additional Viet Cong battalions. This attack was supported by elements of the U-80 Artillery Regiment. Prisoner of war interrogation reports revealed the average strength of each battalion to have been approximately 400 men. The attacking VC force was well armed and possessed large quantities of ammunition. Captured weapons were in excellent operation condition, and in many instances, were new.
HEADQUARTERS 3D BRIGADE
4TH INFANTRY DIVISION
APO San Francisco 96268
AVDDC-A 29 March 1967
1. Enemy and friendly casualties sustained in the battle of Soui Tre:
United States troops killed in action: 33
United States troops wounded in action: 187
United States troops missing in action: 0
Viet Cong killed in action (body count): 647
Viet Cong killed in action (possible): 200
Viet Cong captured: 10
Viet Cong suspects detained: 0
HEADQUARTERS, 3D BRIGADE
4TH INFANTRY DIVISION
APO San Francisco 96268
AVDDG-A 30 March 1967
Supporting Units during the battle of Soui Tre:
UNIT POSITION FIRED RELATIONSHIP
B Btry, 2d XT281684 357 General Support
B Btry, 2d XT344577 8” - 20
Bn, 32d 175mm - 22 General Support,
Arty (8” & Reinforcing
US AIR FORCE:
7TH Air Force - 14 immediate missions consisting of 31 sorties.
OTHER AIRCRAFT SUPPORT:
Light Fire Team - 335th Combat Assault Helicopter Company
Light Fire Team - D Trp, 3d Sq, 4th Cav (4 AC)
116th Combat Assault Helicopter Company (9 AC plus 1 Light Fire
3 - CH47 - 178th Combat Assault Support Helicopter Company
1 - CH47 - 213th Combat Assault Support Helicopter Company
Co A, 25th Avn Bn (2 Aircraft)
Dustoff (Exact designation unknown)
HEADQUARTERS, 3D BRIGADE
4TH INFANTRY DIVISION
APO San Francisco 96268
AVDDC-A 30 March 1967
Task Organization, 3d Brigade, 4th Infantry Division - 21 March 1967
HHC, 3d Bde
Co C, 4th Engr Bn (-)
2d Plat, Trp C, 1st Sq, 10th Cav
4th Section, 1st Platoon, Btry D, 5th Bn, 2d Arty (Duster)
TASK FORCE TANKER
2d Bn, 34th Armor (-)
Co C, 2d Bn, 34th Armor
Co A, 2d Bn, 22d Inf (M)
2d Bn, 77th Artillery (Reinforced)
Btry C, 1st Bn, 8th Artillery (105mm)
Btry B, 3d Bn, 13th Artillery (155 SP)
1st & 4th Squads, 4th Section, Btry D, 71st Arty (Quad 50)
3d Section, 1st Platoon, Btry D, 5th Bn, 2d Arty (Duster)
Troop C, 1st Sq, 10th Cav (-)
44th Infantry Platoon, Scout Dog (-)
3d Platoon, 4th MP Co TASK FORCE FULLBACK
20th Public Information Det 2d Bn, 22d Infantry (M) (-)
10th AA Plat, 24 CA Company Co B, 2d Bn, 22d Inf (M)
Tm, 246th Psyops Co Co C, 2d Bn, 22d Inf (M)
3d Support Bn (Prov) Co A, 2d Bn, 22d Inf (M) 34th Armor
3d S&T Co (Prov) Squad, 44th IPSD
Co B, 704th Maint Bn 3 Teams, Co C, 4th Engr Bn
Co D, 4th Medical Bn
3d Bn, 22d Infantry
Squad, 44th IPSD
2d Bn, 12th Infantry
Squad, 44th IPSD
The Presidential Unit Citation is awarded by direction of the President of the United States to:
THE 3D BRIGADE, 4TH INFANTRY DIVISION
ASSIGNED AND ATTACHED UNITS
HEADQUARTERS COMPANY, 3D BRIGADE, 4TH INFANTRY DIVISION
2D BATTALION, 12TH INFANTRY
2D BATTALION, 22D INFANTRY (MECHANIZED)
3D BATTALION, 22D INFANTRY
2D BATTALION, 77TH ARTILLERY
2D BATTALION, 34TH ARMOR
HEADQUARTERS COMPANY, 2D BATTALION, 34TH ARMOR
COMPANY A, 2D BATTALION, 34TH ARMOR
COMPANY C, 2D BATTALION, 34TH ARMOR
44TH INFANTRY PLATOON, SCOUT DOG
COMPANY C, 4TH ENGINEER BATTALION
BATTERY C, 1ST BATTALION, 8TH ARTILLERY (105mm)
BATTERY B, 3D BATTALION, 13TH ARTILLERY (155 SP)
1ST AND 4TH SQUADS, 4TH SECTION BATTERY D, 71ST ARTILLERY (QUAD 50)
3D AND 4TH SECTIONS, 1ST PLATOON, BATTERY D, 5TH BATTALION,
2D ARTILLERY (DUSTER)
C TROOP, 1ST SQUADRON, 10TH CAVALRY
TEAM, 246TH PSYCHOLOGICAL OPERATIONS COMPANY
3D SUPPORT BATTALION (PROVISIONAL)
3D S & T COMPANY (PROVISIONAL)
COMPANY B, 704TH MAINTENANCE BATTALION
COMPANY D, 4TH MEDICAL BATTALION
20TH PUBLIC INFORMATION DETACHMENT
10TH AA PLATOON, 2D CIVIL AFFAIRS COMPANY
3D PLATOON, 2D CIVIL AFFAIRS COMPANY
3D PLATOON, 4TH MILITARY POLICE COMPANY
COMPANY C, 588TH ENGINEER BATTALION
19TH TACTICAL AIR SUPPORT SQUADRON
FOR EXTRAORDINARY HEROISM
The 3d Brigade, 4th Infantry Division and the Attached and Assigned Units distinguished themselves by extraordinary heroism while engaged in military operations on 21 March 1967 in the vicinity of SUOI TRE, Republic of Viet Nam. The members of this Brigade and the foregoing units demonstrated indomitable courage and professional skill while engaging an estimated force of approximately 2500 Viet Cong. During the early morning hours of 21 March 1967, an estimated force of 2500 Viet Cong launched a massive and determined ground attack against elements of the 3d Battalion, 22d Infantry and 2d Battalion, 77th Artillery located at Fire Support Base Gold near Suoi Tre, Republic of Viet Nam. Opening the engagement with an intense mortar attack, the enemy force, later identified as the 272d Main Force Regiment, reinforced by two additional infantry battalions, struck the perimeter in three separate location.
Due to the ferocity of the assault and the overwhelming number of enemy troops, untenable positions in the north and south-east were overrun within the first 30 minutes of the battle despite determined resistance by friendly forces. As the enemy penetrated the perimeter, the American troops set up an interim perimeter and continued to direct withering fire on the enemy. When the Viet Cong directed anti-tank fire upon the artillery positions, heroic gun crews cannibalized parts from damaged guns, and, at several points, fired directly into the advancing enemy including the firing of “bee-hive” ammunition through gaps in the perimeter.
While the battle continued to rage and grow in intensity, the Brigade Commander was directing the 2d Battalion, 12th Infantry, the 2d Battalion, 22d Infantry (Mechanized) and the 2d Battalion, 34th Armor, to the besieged fire support base. At the same time, the support and service elements of the brigade began a furious aerial resupply of ammunition and medical supplies from the Brigade Rear base camp at Dau Tieng.
As the 2d Battalion, 12th Infantry began its overland move to the fire support base approximately 2,500 meters distant, a heavy concentration of enemy mortar fire was directed upon their position, killing one man and wounding 20 others. Undaunted, the battalion moved nearly 2,500 meters in less than two hours despite constant blocking and harassment efforts by the enemy. Concurrently with the movement of the 2d Battalion, 12th Infantry, mechanized and armor elements began moving across the Suoi Samat River at a ford which had only recently been located and which previously had been thought impassable.
Driving towards the fire support base, the mechanized unit followed by the armor battalion, drove into the western sector of the engaged perimeter passing through engaged elements of the 2d Battalion, 12th Infantry. Striking the Viet Cong on the flank, the 2d Battalion, 22d Infantry smashed through the enemy with such intensity and ferocity that the enemy attack faltered and broke. As the fleeing and now shattered enemy force retreated to the north-east, the 2d Battalion, 34th Armor swept the position destroying large numbers of Viet Cong who were now in full retreat.
Throughout the battle, fighters of the United States Air Force, directed by the Brigade’s Forward Air Controllers, provided close support to the fire support base and hammered enemy concentrations outside the perimeter. As the FAC aircraft dived through heavy anti-aircraft fire to mark enemy positions, the plane was hit by ground fire and crashed killing both occupants.
After securing the fire support base, a sweep of the area was conducted, revealing a total of 647 Viet Cong bodies and 10 enemy captured. It is estimated that an additional 200 enemy were killed as a result of the aerial and artillery bombardment. Friendly casualties were extremely light, resulting in only 33 killed and 187 wounded of whom approximately 90 were returned to duty.
Through their fortitude and determination, the personnel of the 3d Brigade, 4th Infantry Division and attached units were able in great measure to cripple a large Viet Cong Force. Their devotion to duty and extraordinary heroism reflect distinct credit upon themselves and the Armed Forces of the United States
Text of Presidential Unit Citation taken from the award.
Award of the Presidential Unit Citation (Army) by The President of the United States of America to the following unit of the Armed Forces of the United States is confirmed in accordance with paragraph 194, AR 672-5-1. The text of the citation, signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson on 23 September 1968, reads as follows:
By virtue of the authority vested in me as President of the United Stated and as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States and as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States I have today awarded the Presidential Unit Citation (Army) for extraordinary heroism to:
3rd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division
Brigade Command and Control Party at FSB Gold
3rd battalion (less Company C), 22nd Infantry
2nd Battalion (less Company B), 34th Armor
2nd Battalion, 77th Artillery
2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry
2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry
The 3rd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division and the attached and assigned units distinguished themselves by extraordinary heroism while engaged in military operations on 21 March 1967 in Suoi Tre, Republic of Vietnam. During the early morning hours the Viet Cong 272nd Main Force Regiment, reinforced, launched a massive and determined ground attack and overran elements of the 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry and 2nd Battalion, 77th Artillery, located at Fire Support Base Gold near Suoi Tre, Republic of Vietnam. As the enemy penetrated the perimeter, the American troops set up an interim perimeter and continued to fire on the enemy. When the Viet Cong directed anti-tank fire upon the artillery position, heroic gun crews repaired their damaged guns and, at several points, fired directly into the advancing enemy. While the battle continued to rage and grow in intensity, the Brigade Commander was directing the 2nd Battalions of the 12gh Infantry, the 22nd Infantry (Mechanized), and the 34th Armor, to the besieged fire support base. At the same time, the support and service elements of the brigade began a furious aerial resupply of ammunition and medical supplies from the brigade rear base camp at Dau Tieng. As the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry, began its overland move to the fire support base, a heavy concentration of enemy mortar fire was directed upon their positions. Concurrently, mechanized and armor elements began moving across the Suoi Samat River at a ford which had only recently been located and which previously had been thought impassable. The mechanized unit, followed by the armor battalion, drove into the western sector of the engaged perimeter passing through engaged elements of the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry. Striking the Viet Cong on the flank, the 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry, smashed through the enemy with such intensity and ferocity that the enemy attack faltered and broke. As the fleeing and now shattered enemy force retreated to the northeast, the 2nd Battalion, 34gh Armor, swept the position destroying large numbers of Viet Cong. Throughout the battle, fighters of the United States Air Force, directed by the brigade’s forward air controllers, provided close support to the fire support base and hammered enemy concentrations outside the perimeter. As the Forward Air Controller aircraft dived through heavy anti-aircraft fire to mark enemy positions, the plane was hit by ground fire, and crashed. After securing the fire support base, a sweep of the area was conducted, revealing a total of 647 Viet Cong bodies and 10 enemy captured. It is estimated that an additional 200 enemy were killed as a result of the aerial and artillery bombardments. Friendly casualties were extremely light, resulting in only 33 killed and 187 wounded. Through their fortitude and determination, the personnel of the 3rd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, and attached units were able in great measure to cripple a large Viet Cong force. Their devotion to duty and extraordinary heroism reflect distinct credit upon themselves and the Armed Forces of the United States.
Article written by Mario Salazar, a first hand account quoted from the Washington Times Communities, dated
MONTGOMERY VILLAGE, Md. - March 21, 2011 - Forty four years ago today, on March 21, 1967, the battle of Suoi Tre was fought in War Zone C, north west of Saigon. This battle yielded the highest body count of enemy in a one day battle in Vietnam. By noon of the 21st, 647 enemy bodies were collected and placed in two huge common graves dug by tanks with optional bulldozer blades. I remember eating my lunch, of cold C rations, with my feet hanging over the edge of one the graves. Had to leave before I finished as the smell got overwhelming and because as the result of a discarded cigarette, a corpse’s clothing caught fire, and the smoke was not pleasant. Does this sound heartless? I wasn’t; it’s one of the realities of combat - that one adapts to it or is done in by it.
First let me introduce you to what was my mechanized Battalion. It consisted of about 80 Armored Personnel Carriers (APC or tracks). These were propelled by tracks like a tank, and while not possessing the same armor as a tank, it was an awesome vehicle. It could go about 45 miles per hour and had amphibious capabilities. Its weapons were three machine guns, one 50 caliber and two 7.62 M60 machine guns. This in addition to the individual weapons carried by each member of the squad that they transported. It was made of aluminum and protective of small arms fire and fragments from a grenade. Many armies throughout the world still use these vehicles.
The beginning of the operation was marked by missed assignments and “snafus”. After a saturating artillery fire mission to soften the original landing zone, it couldn’t be used. The original airlifting of the troops to man the new Fire Support Base Gold, was supposed to take place on March 18. Because my unit, 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry (Mechanized) and an attached armored unit, the 2nd of the 34th (Armor), could not secure the assigned clearing in the jungle, the operation was delayed to the next day. On the 19th, we still couldn’t make it to the assigned location to defend the landing of an artillery unit, 2nd Battalion 77th Artillery Regiment, and a protective infantry battalion, the 3rd Battalion 22nd Infantry Regiment (part of the Third Brigade, 4th Infantry Division), so the commanding coronel selected a different landing zone and started the operation without the prior securing of the landing zone.
As the second wave of helicopters started to land near the village of Suoi Tre, a remote controlled 155 mm. artillery round improvised explosive device went off and destroyed 2 helicopters and damaged 5 more. The rest of the landing was contested and several more helicopters were destroyed, notwithstanding the protection of several gunships that had been called to assist in the insertion.
While the helicopter units were fighting to land in the clearing near the abandoned village of Suoi Tre, the other two units of the Third Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, the 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment (us) and the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment and the attached 2nd of the 34th Armor Company, were not making much headway. While the terrain was dry, almost continuous harassment by the enemy and rough topography had us advance very slowly.
On the 20th, while our tracks came through an opening in a ridge, the leading units were ambushed, and as we watched we saw a rocket propelled grenade (RPG) hit one of the tracks, penetrate the inside of the vehicle, go through a friend of mine and explode, causing several casualties inside. My friend Frances Smith, from England, died immediately.
That night we laagered on top of a small hill. It was almost denuded of vegetation, except for a few saplings and termite mounds. We all knew that the Viet Cong gunners had this hill zeroed in and we would be mortared that night. To our surprise, we had an uneventful night, except for a rather strange thing that happened to me. While I sat under one of the trees, eating dinner, a grenade went off by mistake and a fragment of it hit the tree and landed on top of my helmet liner (hard plastic helmet that fits under the steel helmet that we wore then).
After a good night’s sleep we were aroused to the unusual command of “Pick up and mount up!” As we “mounted” our tracks, we were further informed that “this is the real thing”. We were also alerted that if our track became disabled, to abandon it and hitch a ride with the following vehicles. As we progressed through the jungle, we learned that our sister battalions, the 3rd of the 22nd and the 2nd of the 77th Artillery, were under heavy attack by a large enemy force. The battle had started early in the morning and some positions had been overran and a “quad fifty” had been captured by the enemy. A quad fifty is a defensive weapon that was used by artillery units. It consisted of four 50 caliber machine guns mounted on a pivoting turret. It was an awesome weapon. The message was that unless we reached the assailed units, over 450 of our fellow soldiers would be killed or worse.
Map of the Battle of Soui Tre, Vietnam 3/21/1967 from 25Aviation.org
The enemy had amassed over 2,500 soldiers in the attack. They were composed of 272nd VC Main Force Regiment. They had gambled that such overwhelming number superiority would easily turn the battle to their advantage. Our troops were outnumbered almost 5 to 1.
The race to Fire Support Base Gold at Suoi Tre seemed to take forever, and, although we were scared to death, we wanted to reach the clearing before it was too late. I really can’t remember how long it took and as we talked about it much later; there are conflicting versions of how long it took and how difficult it was to get there.
As we reached the clearing the scene that we witnessed was worthy of an outrageous Hollywood set. There was gun and artillery fire everywhere. The middle of the compromised perimeter was on one edge of the clearing and appeared to be a lights show. Artillery rounds including white phosphorous and flares, grenades, smoke signal grenades and of all things beer cans, were exploding all around. Like the good, red-blooded American unit they were, they had placed the beer in the best protected place in the perimeter, right along the ammunition.
The scene reminded me of an old cowboy movie in which the Indians had a wagon train surrounded and the cavalry comes to the rescue. I can still see the image of about 20 APC’s busting into the clearing with machine guns blasting.
We were immediately approached by soldiers from the 2nd of the 12th, asking for ammunition and water. As we progressed into the perimeter, our buddies from the 3rd of the 22nd hugged our tracks and told us we had saved their lives.
There were dead and dying enemies everywhere. Our leading tanks and tracks had caught them by surprise and many had died under the tracks of our vehicles. We could see some trying to reach the protection of the jungle and not making it. Those that we couldn’t catch up with, fell to our 50 caliber and M60 machine guns and our M-16 rifles.
I remember getting to our assigned position and getting out to set poles for our gun sites. As I walked away from the track, I found several of the enemy that were drawing their last breath. Some of our troops were coming around making sure it was their last breath. I kind of remember that everything was over by around 10:00 AM, I was in a state of shock. The inventory of the enemy weapons found in the battle field included several hundred RPGs that they intended to use on our unit’s vehicles. They never got the chance, not one of our vehicles was hit, and our unit did not suffer casualties of any kind. It was an almost absolute victory. Unfortunately the units at the defensive perimeter had lost 33 dead and one missing. Some of the defensive fox holes on the perimeter held layers of dead bodies - one of our dead soldiers in the bottom, a dead VC on top of him, and a live American soldier above with barely enough room to lie down.
During the worst part of the attack, the artillery units fired their guns point blank (in a horizontal position), using what is called canister rounds. These rounds are full of thousands of small flechettes and are the equivalent of a very large shot gun blast.
After the tanks opened the huge common graves, that were filled and covered, General Westmoreland’s helicopter landed. Our unit received the “Presidential Unit Citation” in the following months, the highest award given to a unit in time of war.
Click on photo to start slide show. Thanks to CPT Ed Smith, A 2/12th and others for photographs of the battle.
From the Pages of Vietnam Magazine
Again, courtesy of Jim Hardin, 2/22 Inf. (M)
An account of Suoi-Tre by former CPT. Robert Hemphil, C.O. B/3/22 Inf. Who retired a Lt. Colonel
Like the Cavalry in the Old West, an armored task force arrived just in the nick of time to relieve the besieged defenders of FSB Gold
Time: 06:31 hours, March 21, 1967. The sound of small arms fire, answered by the distinct sound of AK-47 fire and the 'crump' of grenades, suddenly jolted CPT. James ("Walt") Shugart III commander of Bravo Company 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment,4th Infantry Division out of his reverie. He stuck his head out of his command post bunker at Fire Support Base Gold to see what the firing was all about. SP4 Terry Smith, his Radio Operator,(RTO)on the company communications network was outside the bunker. He told Shugart that the firing was coming from the direction of the first platoon's ambush patrol site, about 500 meters outside the perimeter. As the firing continued, Shugart called the first platoon leader, (call-sign: Bravo 1-6)2nd Lt. John H. Andrews for a situation report. Andrews informed the Bravo company commander that his patrol was engaged in a serious firefight. While breaking down their ambush site, the men had spotted a couple of VC. When they opened up on the enemy and threw their grenades, the VC had returned their fire-they had been in the tall grass around them. When Shugart inquired about casualties, Andrews knew only that part of the patrol had made it back in to get help, but that there were still about five guys pinned down out there. Shugart told him to get a squad ready to provide help, but he withdrew that order a few minutes later, when the firing died down and he heard several bursts of AK-47 fire. He knew the short, distinct bursts meant that any survivors had been executed. Shugart looked around for 1st Lt.William Pacheco,artillery forward observer (FO)and ordered him to call in some high explosives (HE) around the ambush patrol's last position. He wanted it near the position, not right on it, in case somebody was still alive out there. Shugart told Pacheco to walk the HE around the area in case any larger forces were nearby. But the fire missin was never executed - before the target could be plotted, everyone in the perimeter heard the sound of enemy mortar rounds going down the tubes beyond the ambush position. Shugart shouted a warning that echoed throughout the firebase. Men could be seen diving for the nearest bunker as 61mm and 82mm mortar rounds started falling everywhere, walking all around the perimeter and the artillery tubes. So started what became known as the battle of Soui Tre or the defense of FSB or (or LZ) GOLD. The location was a small clearing in a remote section of jungle near Cambodia in War Zone C, III Corps Tactical Zone.The 3rd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, (Brigade call sign "Flexible")commanded by Colonel Marshall B. Garth, was operating in the area. On the perimeter at FSB Gold were Alpha and Bravo companies, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry, (3/22, call sign "Falcon"), commanded by Lt. Col. John A. Bender, with the 2nd Battalion, 77th Artillery (2/77) 105mm(call sign "Focus"), and its three howitzer batteries inside the firebase. The artillery battalion commander, Lt. Col. John W. Vessey, would later become chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Operating in the nearby jungle were the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry, (2/12, call sign "Flame"), and tank - mechanized infantry task forces of the 2nd battalion, 22nd Infantry, (2/22 mechanized call sign "Fullback")and the attached 2nd battalion, 34th armor (2/34) supporting FSB Gold. From other locations were other units of 8 - inch, 175mm, and additional 105mm and 155mm howitzers. At 06:35 the opening mortar attack drifted toward Alpha Company's side f the perimeter. Suddenly, from the 2nd Platoon's area in Bravo's center to teh east, the perimeter was raked by intense fire. The small arms fire, punctuated by exploding grenades and claymores, gradually crescendoed. RTO Smith informed Shugart that "Romeo 6" (the recon platoon leader) had reported a large number of VC to his front. They had sneaked up to within 30 or 40 meters of his positions, and he was heavily engaged. The recon platoon had been given to Shugart the day before to reconstitute his 2nd platoon after the platoon leader and half of its members had been wounded on the 19th at the LZ. He told Romeo 6 to send in his final protective fire when he thought it was necessary, to which Romeo 6 responded that it was already necessary. Shugart looked around for Lt. Pacheco and saw that he was already on his radio calling in his defensive contact artillery fires. The FO glanced up and reported that it was on its way. As Shugart was about to warn the other platoons, Bravo's entire sector erupted in gunfire. The biggest outbreak of outgoing and incoming fire was on the right (southeast) in Bravo 1-6's area. Andrews reported massive waves of black - clad enemy to his front at a distance of less than 50 meters. He said they were just boiling out of the woodline. Shugart ordered Andrews to provide final protective fire. The 3d platoon leader on the left,northeast, Lt. James Slinkard (Call sign "Bravo 3-6")reported that enemy troops were massed to the front, but he was holding his own. He was also instructed to call for his final protective fire. Mortars continued to fall inside the perimeter among the artillery tubes and near Alpha Company. The defenders could hear the shells crashing near the perimeter and the more distant explosions of counter-mortar fire. The volume of mortar fire was diminishing. It was now 06:38. Only seven minutes had passed since the ambush patrol had set off the VC attack. The VC had been sneaking up on them in the woods and tall grass when the patrol had surprised the enemy troops. Shugart turned to Sp4 Henry Toyama, his RTO on the battalion radio and told him to inform the battalion S-3 (Operations Officer)Major Cliff Roberts, that they were fully engaged and calling for final protective fire. He also instructed Toyama to ask Falcon 3, Col. Bender, where the Air Force Tactical Air Support was - it was clearly needed. At that point, Smith shouted to Shugart that all platoons reported VC in the wire. Romeo6 and Bravo 1-6 reported hand-to-hand combat. Lieutenant Andrews radioed that the enemy was surrounding some of his positions. Shugart told Pacheco to notify the 2/77 Artillery to have their reaction force standing by. He expected to need them shortly, most likely in 1-6's sector. It was a move they had rehearsed the day before. Shugart also wanted the 105mm howitzer fire to keep coming as close to the perimeter as possible and the heavy artillery plastering the woodline to get some of the enemy troops still coming out of the woods. Toyama relayed a message from Falcon 3 that the FAC was inbound toward them. He woud start with four sorties of fighters. Flexible 6 had alerted the 2/12, the 2/22 and the tankers (2/34) to get to Gold as soon as possible, but they first had to negotiate the jungle and bamboo surrounding the position. At 06:40 Bravo 1-6 called Shugart and reported VC around his positions. Shugart instructed him to get as far inside the perimeter as he could. He assured Andrews that help would arrive soon. Shugart told Toyama to inform Falcon 3 that Bravo 1-6's position had been penetrated. Agitated and anxious, Shugart told Pacheco to call for Focus's reaction force. He made sure that they knew that they were to execute exactly what they had rehearsed the day before to restore the perimeter. And they had to move as soon as possible. As Shugart sat back against the side of the bunker at 06:55, the firebase continued to be swept by incoming small arms and recoiless rifle fire and falling mortar rounds. Looking out over the battlefield, Shugart shouted to Pacheco over the tremendous din to move the artillery to within 100 meters of the perimeter. Pacheco informed Shugart at 07:01 that the reaction force was on the move. Shugart informee Bravo 1-6 of the movement and cautioned Andrews to be alert and not shoot them up. Andrews certainly needed them, since he was being pushed hard from the east and southeast. Five minutes later, Andrews was back on the air, reporting that the VC were all around his men. The reaction force was nowhere in sight. The fear in his voice was obvious. Shugart turned to Toyama and inform Falcon 3 that Bravo 1-6's position had been overrun and was surrounded,and that they were fighting hand to hand. He also told Falcon 3 that the Artillery reaction force had not arrived. At 07:11 Shugart had smith check on the status of the other two platoons. Romeo6, the recon platoon was holding it's own against tremendous pressure on it's front. Bravo 3-6 Slinkard, reported that they were fighting VC in his foxholes at the center of his position. Slinkard was not sure how much longer he could hold out; Both Romeo6 and Bravo 3-6 were really burning up ammo and would need resupply soon. Suddenly Shugart heard Andrews exclaiming that the reaction force had arrived and was counter attacking on line across his positions. His men were concentrating on keeping their heads down out of the line of fire. Shugart cautioned him not to get in their way. A silver object swooped down overhead at 07:15, passed along the edge of the woods to the east, and pulled up to the north, followed by the thunder of ordinance. The Air Force had arrived! A second Macdonald Douglas F-4 Phantom appeared and repeated his wingman's performance. Shugart saw the FAC in a small plane, circling to the southeast, directing the fighter-bombers. Two more silver birds swooped down and delivered their loads. Shugart had Pacheco tell the FAC to move some of his strikes down to the southeast corner in front of Bravo 1-6. Shugart wanted him to make some napalm runs in closer. He was trying to catch the VC in the open. By the time the planes launced their attacks, the mortars had tapered off, due to the continuing artillery counter-mortar fire. The VC were still shooting at the artilery positions with rocket-propelled grenades, and 75mm and 57mm recoiless rifles from the woodline. The firebase was raked by automatic fire as the attack on the perimeter intensified. At 07:45 Shugart glanced back toward the FAC's plane. As he focused on the small silouhette, the plane spiraled from about a 1,000 foot altitude down into the trees. Shugart asked Pacheco what had happened. Pacheco looked up from his map, shocked and said that the VC had shot him down. That meant that there would be a lull in the airstrikes. As the ramifications of the loss of air support sank in, Shugart directed Pacheco to tell the artillery fire direction center that he wanted beehive rounds loaded and standing by - now! Beehives were anti-personnel rounds that contained thousands of small flechettes capable of converting a human being or a group of them - into hamburger - in the blink of an eye. They had not been used much before but the commanders had been briefed on them. Shugart called Bravo 1-6 and asked for a report. Andrews reported that they had just linked up with the reaction force. The VC kept on coming, despite their losses. Shugart decided to use the beehives in 1-6's sector. He told Andrews to get his men under cover, then gave the order to Pacheco to fire toward the east, and southeast. One minute later, the first shell screamed overhead and exploded over 1-6's sector followed by several more. The company radio crackled to life and Andrews' excited voice attested to the effectiveness of the beehive rounds. The flechettes had torn a wide swath in the attacking ranks of VC - he wanted more. On the battalion radio Shugart called "Alpha 6" Captain George Shoemaker. He quickly summarized his situation, particularly in Bravo 3-6's sector, and and requested that Alpha have a reaction force standing by, expecting to need it for 3-6. Shoemaker agreed. Shugart told Toyama to report what was going on to Falcon 3. He also wanted to know when they were getting another FAC. The company radio jumped to life at 08:00. It was Slinkard, reporting that his sector had been penetrated. The VC had occupied a couple of foxholes in his center. His reserve squad was trying to block them, but he needed help. Reassuring 3-6 that help was on its way, Shugart notified Alpha 6 to dispatch his reaction force. Shoemaker replied that his 20 man force would be moving in two minutes. At 08:10 Slinkard called Bravo 6 to say that Alpha's force had linked up with him and that they were containing the penetration but the fighting was fierce. Shugart told his FO to get some beehives into 3-6's area. Three minutes later, rounds began screaming in that direction. At 08:20 Shugart received reports from all platoons that they were barely holding their own and that ammo was running low. Clearly, they were firing a lot of ammunition, since they had started the battle with a double basic load. The VC were continuing to press Shugart's perimeter as more troops flowed from the woods. The platoons had prepared secondary positions back around the artillery tubes the day before. In addition to rehearsing an artillery counter-attack, Shugart had made the platoon leaders rehearse the movement back to those positions. Now was the time to use them. He gave each platoon leader instructions for moving back to their secondary positions. They would have to fight their way back, holding off the attackers as their squads leapfrogged backward. He test fired the artillery while they were moving. By 08:40 all Bravo platoons had completed their move to the secondary postions and obtained ammo from the artillery. In their new positions, they were closer together, making their formation harder to penetrate. Furthermore, the artillery could now fire their beehives over the soldiers' heads, directly into the attacking VC, making it much more effective. However the swarm of VC kept coming at them like an army of ants after a jar of honey. Although the enemy troops did not penetrate the dense rain of small arms and automatic fire, and beehives, they were within hand-grenade range of the battalion command post and within five meters of the aid station. But the tenacious managed to blunt the waves of attackers before they could get to most of the artillery. At 08:45 a silver bird again swooped down and laid it's 500 pound high explosive egg. Another FAC was on station. Shouting so that he could be heard above the din of battle, Shugart told Pacheco to have the FAC put HE in the woodline and napalm within 50 meters of his current position on the east. Pacheco had to make sure that the FAC knew they had pulled back to secondary positions. After relaying Shugart's instructions, Pacheco informed Bravo 6 that 2/77 had run out of beehives. The guns would be using direct fire HE at point-blank range. By 09:00 Bravo was running short of ammo again but their reduced perimeter was still intact. Alpha was under moderate pressure from VC 15 meters from their positions, but they still held their original perimeter. Staff Sergeant Robert E. Freeman, the second squad leader in 2/22 Charlie's second platoon halted his armored personnel carrier 30 meters inside the woodline southwest of FSB Gold. He checked to make sure the other tracks were ready. His track commander pulled back the cocking handle twice to ready his .50 caliber machine gun for firing. Freeman's job was to lead the company in the charge against the VC trying to overrun GOLD. He checked to see that his squad members had their weapons ready. Earlier that morning as they were preparing to break camp just south of the Soui Samat river, the members of the platoon had heard the mortars and automatic weapons fire erupt around FSB Gold, about 400 meters to their front.Every man in the company knew that they were in a position to assist the defenders. Task force Fullback was comprised of most of most of 2/22 mechanized with company A 2/34 armor, attached. Although - Charlie Company with one tank platoon - was only 400 meters from FSB Gold, the rest of Fullback was 3,000 meters to the southwest. They had spent most of the previous day trying to cross the Prek Klock river,just managing to get all units across before nightfall. They had established their night position near the river. Charlie company, commanded by Captain George C. White III had crossed first and been sent ahead of the task force. The recon platoon, commanded by 1st lt. Roger Frydrykowski was postiioned with the task force headquarters until the firing started at FSB Gold. The platoon then moved forward to Charlie company's location. When White heard the firing at Gold,he requested permission from Lt. Col. Ralph W. Julian(call sign Fullback6)to react to Falcon. Julian, who wanted to consolidate his combat power, denied his request. But the Brigade commander, colonel Garth, wanted the 2/22 to move more quickly through the jungle and bamboo to get some combat force up to the firebase. Garth prodded Julian until he finally gave in. From his observation helicopter, Julian told White (call sign Charlie-6)to go in with all he had. Since the task force was only about 500 meters from Charlie's location, they could assist if necessary. White issued his instructions to his platoon leaders and Romeo6. He told the second platoon leader, 2nd Lt. Thomas Utter to have freeman lead the attack, since Utter had not seen much action. White told Freeman to cross the shallow river and have the FAC guide him into position. Beyond the river, Freeman executed a flanking movement to the west to avoid some big trees and to allow the company to get on line. While this was being done, the Recon platoon crossed the river, to the west and surged ahead of Charlie, heading back east and then north, and the tankers followed. As Freeman prepared to launch the assault, he looked to the east and saw the 2/12th infantrymen bursting in to the southern end of the clearing, firing as soon as they cleared the trees. They had fought their way through the sniper fire in good time. Freeman waved the company on. At 09:01 Shugart heard firing off his right flank to the south. He could infantrymen emerge from the woodline, heading for the perimeter, with weapons blazing into the flank of the attacking VC. He told Toyama to inform Falcon 3 that the 2/12 was approaching the perimeter from the south. He then ordered Pacheco to shift the artillery away from that area to avoid hitting the good guys. Toyama relayed a message from Falcon 3 that Alpha company was was the 2/12's lead element and that Bravo 6 was to guide him into position. Shugart contacted Alpha 6, Shoemaker and then began planning how to use the 2/12 to restore his perimeter. Suddenly, from the southeast corner of the clearing came the roar of engines and the crash of heavy-caliber machine guns. Through the battlefield haze, Shugart saw a line of tracks emerge from the woodline, pass through the 2/12's lines and head directly for the southern end of Alpha's sector. A few moments later he saw more tracks charge out of the woodline from the south, followed by several tanks. They passed around the perimeter and charged into the flank of the attackers between the perimeter and the woodline. Shugart watched 2/22 Charlie company's tracks sweep across the clearing through Alpha Company's southern perimeter, through the southern half of his sector and back out to the east the .50 calibers cutting wide swaths in the VC ranks. Charlie's tracks crashed into the attackers head-on, track grinding bodies as the vehicles rolled over everything ahead of them. Soldiers used pioneer tools to knock off VC who attacked tracks with their bayonets and tried to swarm over the turrets. Passing through the original perimeter, Charlie turned north to cover the VC's exit route. Recon and the tanks swept to the east outside the perimeter and north along the woodline, cutting deeply into the enemy ranks. As they continued to chew up the attacking formations, the VC began to turn and run towards the woods, dragging many of their casualities with them. The tanks roared forward, trying to cut them off before they reached the trees. When Alpha 6 of 2/12 arrived, Shugart briefed him on his plans for the counter-attack. He then told his platoon leaders to move out on his order. At 09:20, after 2/22 moved beyond the perimeter, Shugart gave the order to move out. A line of men from each platoon sector stood up simultaneously firing point-blank into the VC still moving around them inside the perimeter. Moving forward, they took out anything in their way, firing, changing magazines, and then closing in on the few enemy troops that survived the furious onslaught. Moving with precision, they arrived at their old positions, pulled out the dead and wounded and began firing from their old positions. Medics evacuated any friendly wounded uncovered by the counter-attack. At 09:28 Shugart had Toyama inform Falcon 3 that they had reoccupied their old positions.Toyama then relayed a return message from Major Roberts that Charlie 2/22 had found a VC aid station just north of the perimeter. They also came across Bravo's ambush platoon position, where they found 4 KIAs, and one man alive - Pfc Edward Watson. He had hidden under some bodies until help appeared. Across the battlefield, the VC attack faltered.They ran from the firebase back into the woods to the northeast. The mechanized and armored formations chased the VC into the woodline,trying to get as many of them as possible. The supporting artillery had been shifted into the woods to pound their avenue of withdrawal. As Charlie recon and the tanks entered the woodline after the VC, the remainder of task force Fullback reached the clearing, taking up positions outside the perimeter. Later, they were joined by the 2/34 armor. After the firing died down inside the perimeter, Col. Vessey, the artillery battalion commander, toured the units on the perimeter, congratulating them on the tremendous job they had done. As Vessey was talking to Bravo 6, Flexible 6's commanded chopper landed, and he turned it over to Vessey to evacuate the casualities. Soon, medevac choppers appeared as well. Later that evening Major Roberts called a meeting, and the Commanders learned the extent of their victory.They were told that the battle would be called "Soui Tre" after a village that had once been nearby.Bravo Company had taken the brunt of the attack, which had been conducted by the VC 272nd Main Force Regiment, reenforced by 2 battalions for a total of 6 battalions, consisting of about 2,500 men. The attackers had lost 647 men. As many as 200 more were believed to have been killed and dragged away after the battle.Friendly casualties included 31 KIAs and 187 wounded. Supporting Artillery had fired more than 3,900 rounds of various sizes, with the 2/77 alone firing more than 2,200 rounds of HE and 40 rounds of beehives, most of it fired point-blank. The Air Force had flown 31 sorties around the perimeter,dropping 34 tons of ordinance. Participating 3d Brigade units later received the Presidential Unit Citation.