History of the 12th Cav in Vietnam 27 Jul 1968
– 30 Nov 1971
According to the collective
remembrances of it’s surviving troopers.
CPT Errol D. Alexander, July-Oct 1968
CPT Kenneth G.
Carlson, Oct 68-Mar 69
CPT Larry R. Robinson, Mar-Sep 1969
William C. Kaufman, Sep-Nov 1969
CPT Matthias A. Spruill, Nov 69-Feb
CPT John L. B. Smith, Feb-May 1970
CPT Robert R. Richards,
CPT Woodrow W. Waldrop, Oct 70-Apr 71
CPT Edward E.
Helton, Apr-Oct 71
After a fun filled New Years on the bunker line at Charlie 2 (C2),
the Cav pulled out. C 2 took rounds promptly at 7:00 a.m. on a regular
basis and the Cav waited for it to end. 26 & 28 were down for
repairs and both crews were drinking coffee in the one-foot deep mud to
determine how we were going to get these two monsters back on the road.
One crummy rocket came in and landed fifty feet away. The angle of
impact was such that most of the shrapnel went forward. Messed up a 2
1/2 ton and blew holes in the shit house. Lucky no one was using it.
Unfortunately, there was shrapnel that came back and nailed seven out of
eight of us. Daryl Pence, 26G was sent back to the states. I knew
Deierling was hit right away, because I saw his shirt rip across the
back. Bass took a chunk in the leg and had infection problems for the
remainder of his tour. The rest of us just received minor injuries.
A week later, working the DMZ with Sgt Alexander as TC on 26 (DiSanto
was on R&R), we hit a land mine. That was the infamous night that we
locked and left 26 and came in after dark via flares. Mendoza's track
hit a mine. Spruill had negotiations with the medivac (Batman). We got
in about 2:00 a.m. to C 2.
The next day we loaded a canister round and fired on 26
before towing it to A 4 where two of us stayed with it for four days of
DiSanto came back from his R&R to no tank, no gunner, and no driver.
At that time I was an extra guy, because I was new in country and became
A week to remember, (John Sharpe)
John, I remember that day because my track was back at C2 for some reason. It was about the time Stamm was KIA. If I remember correctly the rocket landed beyond the guys but close. They caught the back blast. Mike D would know since he was wounded. I guess that is why C2 was rocket alley. Bob T.
I remember this day very well! PR, Maggot, and myself went out to pull 3 of the wounded troopers to safety!! C2 was ROCKET ALLEY!! Thank GOD we made it home. Kid
I DOOO remember That John I Think Myself and Fenwick were the only Two
without a Scratch
Merle A28 Reed
I also remember that when the rocket landed, I along with my crew, was in that bunker next to the 4/12 mess area, as we were in C2 every morning around breakfast time, safe from that lethal rain. The protocol was get your breakfast and walk directly into the bunker to eat it. Because you always timed it right, the "incoming" siren would always go off after you got your breakfast. That morning, someone came running into the bunker yelling for the 1st platoon doc. Doc Kagimoto ran outside along with PR, Kid, and Maggot. As the rockets were still falling, I thought it wise to be around to retrieve them should it become necessary. I kept on eating breakfast. I wondered why someone was outside during rocket attack time. During the same medivac , my friend Papasan, who had arrived with me in-country, was flown out never to be seen again. I thought he was one of the wounded from the rocket, but he wasn't. Someone had either pushed him or punched him and he fell from his track. He had just transferred off my track to the mortar track after 6 months on the crew. I think the bad craziness exhibited by SS and I finally got to him, and the relatively saner mortar crew appealed to him. Unfortunately for him, someone didn't like him. I never knew what really happened to Papasan until 2001, when I located SS, who told me the story. Papasan made it back to the world in one piece and I talked to him also in 2001, but he didn't want to reveal who sent him to the hospital. Pineapple
Around Jan 9th
N.E. of C-2 within easy
sight of the Red Chinese Flag, 1 tank hit a mine about 3 PM.
Another tank started to pull around it to tow him and hit a booby
trap. Claymore in a tree at a height to wipe everyone off a track,
but since the tank was higher the main blast hit the center. The
TC (Drake) caught pellets in the side of his face, groin, leg and side -
medivac'd. It was getting dark so we locked up the tank (26?) to
leave it and started leaving. We got about 100 yards when a 1st
platoon track hit a mine that about 8 of us tracks had already been over
(finally got the rust broken loose??). All 5 onboard were
medivac'd. We finally made it back to C-2 about 9PM with arty
supplying illumination all the way in.
By the time you receive this, except for Pineapple, it
will be January 12, this is the Day that according to
Duffy, I flew...The day that 1-0 hit a mine late in
the evening at the "marketplace".
We ran over a mine. I always wondered what it was
going to feel like? would our driver survive? would I
survive? would it hurt? would our APC explode
considering the amount of Ammo we carried? All those
questions went through my mind the instant after the
explosion. I remember talking to Hestand, the muffled
noise of an explosion, the sensation of going up into
the air, lots of dirt around me, the .50 Cal going up
ahead of me.....landing on the inside of the APC and
the .50 landing on my chest....looking at the gas tank
and wondering if it would explode because the mine hit
just ahead of it. My back did not hurt right away
until I jumped off the track and started looking for
Walker, our driver, then I realized I really hurt.
That day is etched in my memory also because that is
the day that our Capt. promised the medivac to shoot
him down if he did not come get us out, he became my
hero that day.
The next day I remember Big Daddy helping me get
dressed, I could not get out of bed in Quang Tri, we
were there 3 days and were sent back to join the
I wrote a speech in College about this experience
because on the Chopper ride to the hospital Walker's
face was bandaged up and he kept saying," I can't see,
I can't see" with lots of concern, Big Daddy put his
arm around him and told him, "don't worry Walker, you
gonna be ok" I looked down and could see the lights of
the city or the base.
Please don't mind me rambling on, just wanted to share
it with you all, I probably have shared it before with
you , but I always like to share it with someone on
this day.....We shall never forget!!
I always remember those that shared the experience
with me....Love you all.
You're right you did share that before, but it is okay. I think about that
event often. That was a tough time for the Cav. Monte Stamm and Al Hall were
killed in the few weeks prior and a rocket wounded about seven guys on C-2
on January 2nd.
I was driving 26 that day. Mike Deireling was laid up with shrapnel wounds,
Sgt Alexander was the TC, because Di Santo hadn't returned from his R & R
yet. Daryl Pence was send home with shrapnel wounds, so I don't remember
who the loader or gunner was.
That chain of events started with me hitting a land mine. We tried driving
it on one track, towing it, and finally booby trapping it and leaving it for
The one thing that stands out in my mind was how well the arty guys handled
those flares. A-4 fired for us until we were too close to A-4, then C-2 took
over. When we were too close for C-2 to fire, A-4 had turned there guns
around and fired.
Some pretty cool shit for a bunch of kids.
Wally and John, I remember that night too. I was driving 29 and trying to
be careful and not lose a track. The best thing that night was when Capt
Spruill called in that medivac and threatened to shoot it down. I'm glad
that we only suffered a few wounded. That was not a good place to be that
late and not set up in an NDP.
I remember that night well:) I was driving 13. After you boys
were Choppered out we SHOT THE HELL out of everything on our way home:) I
always wondered myself about how it would feel to hit a mine.
Thanks be to God I never did!! Sure came close a few times. I know in my
Heart The LORD protected all of us. I will Never Forget Duffy seating on top
of the track reading his Bible, and Praying for all of us!! As I look back
today I just want Duffy to know how thankful I am for his Faithfulness in
Hey Wally, welcome to that exclusive club of "minefinders".
The APC I was on (21) rolled over two of them while I was in-country.
One was on September 30, 1969 while we were working out of Charlie-2 and
the other was on February 8, 1970 while working out of Cua Viet (isn't
it amazing how those dates stick in one's head?)
The first one, two of my best buddies Jim Lundvall and Ed Ward were
medevaced out and wound up going home because of their wounds. The rest
of us on the personnel carrier were messed up a little bit though not as
bad as Ed and Jim. I remember being covered in black powder and walking around
in a daze.
The mine on Feb. 8 wasn't quite as bad as the first but hitting a mine is
definitely an experience not to be forgotten.
I also remember that night. At that time I was the 4.2" mortar platoon leader in 1/77. I had split the platoon, leaving 2 tubes at C2 with the platoon Sgt and I took 2 tubes to A4. We had been there since mid Nov.
We got the fire mission to provide continuos illumination for the Cav. If my memory still functions, we fired all the ilum we had except for our final defensive supply. Yes, the tubes got so hot that one gunner did piss on it (not a nice odor)!
Nice to know someone appreciated our efforts.
Earl Schorpp (40)
The day you flew was also my first experience at being "airborne".
It's funny some of the things you think about while flying through the air.
I remember being aware that the mine went off under the left rear of the
track and wondering if the shape charge we kept there was going to explode.
A day or two after we were medavaced I left to meet my wife in Hawaii for
R&R. One of the toughest things I ever had to do was get back on the plane
to go back, when my last memory of that place was hitting the mine.
Speaking of memory, when I got back Capt. Spruill commended me for the
report I made over the radio immediately after the incident. Didn't remember
it then, don't remember it now. Anyway, the crew of 10 is still around and I
look forward to seeing everyone in Sept.
The night was real bad; the
capper was that A12 was the last track to pull into A4 that
night/morning. That day the troop’s cooks had made a trip up there to feed
the troop a hot non-C ration meal. By the time our crew got to the meal
site, there was nothing but a few thin slices of mystery meat and dibs
and drabs of boiled carrots left. After swearing at the cooks, the crew
left and relaxed by taking a tub bath in an artillery water buffalo
(they denied us use of their shower.)
Al Hall is killed while waiting for a USO show at C-2, accidentally shot in the
back by a REMF.
We went to a USO show at C-2. Waiting
for the show to start when a shot sounded and everyone scattered -
except 2 medics who immediately started both kinds of artificial
respiration on the guy hit (Al Hall you say, I never knew him).
The 16 round never exited, just tore up his lungs and he was gone in a
very short time. Som new guy from arty had grabbed a 16 off the
rack. No mag in it but he never checked for the round someone had
left in the chamber - safety off. He leaned it against the split
log bench; trigger snagged and went off point blank into Al's
back. A lot more details are permanently etched in my mind about
this. About 15 minutes before this happened; I had been sitting
exactly where he was when he was shot. Some buddies came in so I
moved 2 benches back and into the middle and a few minutes later he came
and sat there. …But for the grace of God…
The rest of A Troop moves from LZ Nancy, to new and improved quarters at
Quang Tri Combat Base. For most of the troop, it’s no big deal
since we spend most of our time in the field, but now on stand downs,
the conditions are less primitive.
Jan 10 1970 At C2, going north of A4, cold, can see your breath (Taylor)
Jan 24 back to Quang Tri (Taylor)
EXCERPTS FROM GREENE RIVER COAAR
19 January 1970 – 22 July 1970
1. (U) NAME AND TYPE OF OPERATION:
b. Type. Search and Clear, reconnaissance in force, rocket suppression and ambush.
3. (U) LOCATION: Trieu Phong, Hai Lang, Mai Linh, Cam Lo, Huong Hoa, Gio Linh Districts, Quang Tri Province , RVN.
4. (U) COMMAND HEADQUARTERS: Headquarters, 1 st Inf Bde, 5 th Inf Div (M)
6. (C) TASK ORGANIZATION:
a. The brigade normally operated with four task forces formed by the cross attachment of infantry, mechanized infantry, tank and armored cavalry units. The composition of these task forces was varied on a mission type basis.
A/4-12 Cav operational control to 1-77 Armor
11. (C) EXECUTION: Following is a chronological list of significant events which occurred during Operation Greene River :
(46) 2 May 70 – At 0905H vic YD278468 1/A/4-12 Cav with members of the A/7 Engr received SAF from the south of their location from an estimated NVA squad. 1/A/4-12 Cav returned fire with organic weapons and searched the area. Results: Three US WIA (M).
(55) 4 July 70 – At 0659H personnel of A/4-12 Cav while retrieving a mechanical ambush vic YD343448 discovered three claymore mines missing and a fourth booby trapped. The booby trapped detonated resulting in one US WIA(E).
Hey all, By the time you get this it will be 34 years to the day since rockets rained on us at Charlie Two. Does anyone remember that???? I recall that it was a beautifully clear day, brisk and cool, Had rained recently and there was lots of mud on the ground because Big Daddy and I ended up in the mud when the shit hit the fan. I remember running into the command bunker and we were freaking out!! Capt. Spruill was sitting on his cot, I can still see him putting on his boots muttering to himself,,,,,," you damned civilians,"" I yelled" Capt. we are getting rockets" he said, don't worry about it, put on your flack jacket. He proceded to go outside and call artillery on their ass. That night there was a b-52 strike on the possition,,,( as I remember it). Just wanted to share the memories with you all. Sorry I remember so much of it. Love to all wally
Papasan, Gerald Holden, is medivac’d after a fistfight (?) at C2 in which is he thrown off a track. He never returned.
Larry somebody (not Veatch or Corso) was involved in that fight with
First night back from C2, we stayed there for a month
and half. Two Troopers were killed, Stamm 2nd platoon KIA and Alfred
Hall accidentally shot in the back by a REMF while at a USO show.
A17 and A10 hit mines; A10 had two or three people hurt. A10 driver was
the most serious but he is back with us now. We went west of C2 a lot,
Doc Parker found 28 mortar rounds. Received incoming about a half-dozen
times; I guess it was not too bad except for the rain. We went so far
north this time you could see the NVA flag flying across the DMZ with
your naked eye.
Need a little help from anyone, I found a letter my dad
wrote to a congressman about a grudge against the VA, in it, it states
how he was wounded the first time, it says (Mike Minchey), “I was
wounded on the last day of January of 1970,when a soldier in front of me
walked into a booby-trap at Jones Creek, I was blinded in right eye and
wounded in lower leg and spent the next several weeks on the Naval Ship
USS Repose, Instead of going home on a medivac I stayed on board till my
eyesight improved and I volunteered to return to combat.” Does
this incident sound familiar sound familiar to anyone dad also
stated that he was on the ship several weeks before he could return to
Thanks (Derek Minchey)
From G. Gersaba’s War Dairy:
We got here 2 days ago. 1-2 caught fire 3
miles before we reached here. The batteries have mysteriously reversed
polarity, they tell me. The days have sped by, unlike our track.
Otherwise, on the way over here, we went through Quang Tri City for the
first time in my tour. Tripped out on the sidewalks, shops, traffic
cops, etc., I was surprised to see that a real city exists here. Since I
came in country the only city I’ve seen was Saigon.
Crossed the Cua Viet today, going north. Nice day to ride in
the sun. It has been a long time since we’ve last seen the sun.
Sgt. Styles comes up to me and tells me that I’m going on LP and
Stoecker will take it out. OK, what the fuck, I say, and he says
nothing, turns and leaves. Fuck. After a while, Lt. Styles comes around
and says that I’m in charge of the LP again. Sgt. Styles comes
back and says, “I’ve changed my mind you’re in
charge.” What the fuck?? Stoecker comes by and says that he
doesn’t care that he’s not in charge and volunteers to hump
the radio. Should I break the news? I’m a fucking Speck 4! So we
stealthily set up about 250 meters from the village. It was very
realistic. Mendoza, Stoecker and Hooper are with me. I survive the
Another sunny day. Is it true that the monsoons are over?
February is the fabled time. Since September, it has been nothing but
rain, and here I am with a fresh pack of Marlboros, and a tepid Pepsi to
greet the day. Last night was a semi-bummer, but today the sun shines
and my heart sings. But essentially, this day is the same as yesterday
(as all days are.) Spent an uncomfortable night wrestling with flu
symptoms. I think I have a head cold, at the least. Defcons kept me
awake all night as they screeched overhead to land about 2000 meters
west of our NDP. Intelligence predicts that the 2nd platoon,
which is NDP’d on the other side of Jones’ Creek, is going
to get hit tonight.
We swept some flat sand today with PC’s on line. Most ridiculous
exercise yet. Object of a sweep being to look under rocks and shake
bushes, something we can’t do in an area devoid of bushes and
trees. I guess we were looking for mines. I lost my nerve and made Alvis
and SS drive, better them than me.
They’re telling me I have to attend the TC meetings since
I’ve been taking out LP’s since Groove left us in December.
Great. When the hell will they give 1-2 a sergeant? I’ve been
asking since December, with no answer.
Today we will go to Jones’ Creek to dick around and
eat lunch. We are scheduled to go back to the great sand wastes in the
afternoon. I am definitely sick. My nose is running and my eyes are
sore. Alvis gave me some penicillin and some thing he said was
“generic” Contac. I should beat this cold by tomorrow. Sgt.
Styles thinks I’m high. Wow.
Feb 4 Cua Viet, here 4 days now (Taylor)
I feel better. My nose is still running, but my body
doesn’t feel as if was used as a bowling pin, like last night.
Yesterday, I could hardly move.
At the end of my guard, about 0215hrs, Cooper’s LP spotted fifteen
gooks! He called for 19’s mortar tube and artillery. Christ! 15
gooks? This morning we go on a body count hunt. It rained last night. I
got wet despite my being inside all night. Today it is overcast. Maybe I
spoke too soon about the end of the monsoon.
We checked out the area where Cooper saw those gooks. Found nothing. No
blood trails, nothing. So we dried our wet sleeping bags and poncho
liners ~the rain did catch us by surprise. I am still sick, but feeling
100% better than I did yesterday. Tonight, Big Daddy takes an LP out.
My sprocket broke loose, all of the bolts snapped off because of short
blocking to increase the tension. I have to be towed back. Bummer. 1-2
dies again, unable to finish another mission. Have to remember to
replace the block, and puzzle the motor pool sergeant once again.
Ah! Today! Nothing happened in the night. No gooks to shoot
at. At 8 AM, I broke track and while I was working, an explosion sounded
about a click away, near the village. I find out later it was an advisor
to the PF & RF (ruff & puffs) who stepped on a tank mine. It was
in about the same spot the old 1-7 hit one last November. Brings back
visions of the grunt Captain who went the same way at the Marketplace in
I am towed in with some difficulty – but make it in safe, only to
run into skirmish #25 with motor daddy on sprocket theory. I let him have
his way without too much argument. I used works like
“probably” the bolts were loose…It is nice to be back
in Cua Viet proper.
Oh yes, I made friends with the kids from Lang Ha, the village across
the Cua Viet Navy base. “Mason” was one of the kid’s
names. I smoked one of their horrible gook cigarettes and shot marbles
with them. Mostly it was a nice day in the sunshine.
TET starts today, also is “Red” Phillips’ birthday. SS
and Alvis stay in the field. I saw the tail-end (ha-ha) of “Some
Like it Hot.” The movie was excruciatingly boring, even for what
little I saw.
I assembled a sprocket today with almost no help. All I
needed was professional opinion. That is the extent of the work I did.
It took me most of the morning, a job normally done in about 10-15
minutes by someone competent. From lunch to about 4pm, I read a
science-fiction novel, “Operation Time Search” a story about
the war between Atlantis and Mu. I never heard of Mu. Did you hear that?
Are there cows around here? Photograph of Pineapple
assembling a sprocket.
This afternoon, a LCM carrying a deuce and a half and army people hit a
mine just as they docked in Dong Ha. 2 killed, 1 mutilated and one
missing. One of the killed, a guy in HQ 1/77th, on the mortar
track, was on the way to face charges for possession of marijuana. The
mine blew the 2 ½ ton off the boat. No navy men hurt bad.
Pulled KP today in the Navy Mess, not as difficult as KP in
the world. I did very very little, almost nothing, but what can you say
They found the “missing” in that Dong Ha explosion. He was
under the 2 ½ ton. Crushed. His name was “Joker” same
company as those others that were killed. He was to face charges too. He
locked and loaded on the master-at-arms in the club. Swift justice dealt
out by the Cua Viet river!
While on the subject of mines, 2-1, 2nd platoon Sergeant
Hunter hit one today near those French ruins where I shot marbles with
the kids. The driver had a sore jaw and broken teeth. Sgt Hunter, a huge
guy, limed into the mess-hall. The mine blew him out of the cupola with
is .50 caliber MG.
Otherwise, today was another dull day in the NAM! Would duck hormones
A day characterized by dull recollections of the night
before. Worked hard all day. Nearly got the track together. Received
some “care” packages from the silent majority. Best ones
Motor Daddy, after seeing me pull apart a track adjuster, popped his
eyes and accused me of having the mechanical ability of a monkey. How
right he is! Luckily, Giz put it back together again despite motor daddy’s doubts about all the kings horses and all the kings men.
Got the PC together today. Batteries down low. Looks like
slave-starting from now on. In disgust, I volunteered for afternoon
detail on the bunker line. Tried to see Tony Rome and True Grit this
morning, but at the last moment, the films were cancelled.
Parkinson tells me that a girl who read his palm two years ago predicted “a horrible death” for him before his 24th birthday. In about 2 days, we shall see. Actually that’s a bummer
of a thing to think about in the field. I don’t think I’ll
This looks like a bleak day. Already my PC refuses to start.
Burnt-out slave receptacle. No negative ground, all melted away. Dammit!
I hate this stupid vehicle!!! I feel like going over to 1-3. Today we go
across the river for another 6 day mission.
Feb 11 Cua Viet 6 nights out, three in, new LT.(Taylor)
This time, we pull ambushes. 4-0 elements are already across spending
miserable nights in the Cua Viet cold. I anticipate another fight with
Motor Daddy today over “who melted the leads on my new cupped slave cable!? What will I tell him? That the evil
spirits that inhabit my track took a hold of it? Gah-damn! The hassles
mount steadily over the mechanical state of 1-2.
Across the river today with the old man. We swept our AO which is about ½ way up the river to Dong Ha. Rice paddies up the ass. Conducted
my first “cordon and search” since AIT. Cordoned a
bombed-out Buddhist temple and searched it.
Word is that the mission is mostly ambushes at night ~ a bummer. Right
now, ambushes are the worst things we do in the field.
Word on 1-2 is transfer case. They’ll pull the pack on that hunk
of shit! Gizmo scares me with his crappy tracking. Told him we may as
well be on the lead vehicle! Riding with Milard and Giz on the 1-3.
Hot chow today while the weather is bitter cold. My cold
lingers on, hoping for another wet night. We re-swept our AO this
morning. I shivered most of the way. Damn the monsoon is still fucking
Today is Parkinson’s birthday. He survived the horrible fate
predicted for him. The only negative thing that happened to him was an
insect bite near his groin (he said.) What an anti-climax! Whew. I drove
for a while today putting my mind at ease about the tracking
First platoon sends out an ambush patrol at night while
operating across the river at Cua Viet. Sgt Styles, Wally, Barnes,
Alvis, and Zahler. We ended up being ambushed ourselves. Too detailed to
write in, I will describe the scene when I see you all. I have been
dying to tell this story for 32 years, since everyone else was sleeping;
Alvis and I are the only one that really knows what happened that night.
By the time the others woke up the shit was all around us. (W.
Then there was the time when we couldn't decide if we wanted an ambush
or a listening post...sent 4 guys as I recall out way to far for a
listening post But too Small for an ambush. In the middle of the night
the NVA and our guys got into it. The NVA threw grenades so as not to
give away their position, our guys opened up with an M60 and M16s. I
can't remember who went out that night, but I talked to the guy who had
the M60. He ran a belt of ammo thru it took about 2 steps and threw it
down as it was slowing his progress. They left the M60 and a prick25
radio in the field.
Was this the same night that Coop, PR, Maggot, Kid, Veatch, and a few
others were out, and we took friendly fire coming in to help out Sgt.
Styles’ squad? Sounds like the same night. Anyway it was a wild
one!! Remember riding up river on the Navy boats, and getting sniped at?
It was a wild & crazy time, but got to know a lot of GREAT GUYS!!
From Ggersaba’s war dairy:
Last night, a little after 12,
the ambush led by Sgt. Styles (Mendoza, Barnes, Alvis and Zeke) was
surprised by some gooks. Very exciting for them. The story is as close
as I can piece out, is: Mendoza and Alvis were up on guard. Suddenly
without a sound, a gook walks up on the trail they were watching. He was
carrying an AK-47 and stooping low. 3 feet from Wally, he stops, spots
the ambush and runs. The gook dove into the bush, and with another (who
knows who else?) starts pitching grenades at the ambush. In the
confusion, our ambush manages to shoot about ½ magazine of 16 and
blow one claymore before they start running madly back toward our NDP.
Styles deserved some credit for getting all the men back. They left the
radio, the M-60, 2 rifles, grenades, sleeping gear and ammo. Yesiree
Bob. Must have been some run. Meanwhile, I had a major case of the ass
because I had to get up. We pulled 100% alert the rest of the night.
I’m going out of my gourd with the lack of sleep. Still, I’m
glad I wasn’t out there.
At dawn, we checked out the area. And I do mean dawn, yawn! We found the
weapons, radio and everything else intact. We also found 4 Chicom
grenades, all duds. Three grenades had the pins pulled and one was
completely intact. I guess the guy that threw the last grenade after 3
duds thought maybe he’d bean someone with it. I found something in
a cellophane bag that looked like dried food. There were blood trails,
but as usual, no bodies. 4/12 Cav strikes again.
The day is overcast and cold again. The C.O. wants a practice ambush
with 12 claymores on 12 clickers. What bullshit. We change AO’s
today ~ going to our old one just east of Jones’ Creek, word is
that no L.P.’s tonight!
Sgt Barrows needs to tell the tale of the 4 ill
fated guys who were too far out for a listening post and too weak in
strength for an ambush. He knows names etc. The NVA must have kicked one
of these guys and got his attention. The NVA threw grenades to prevent
giving away their position (damn guys were good) our guys on the other
hand opened up with their M60 machinegun and M16s giving the NVA a
target for their grenades. I talked to the M60 gunner the next day
(can't remember who it was) and he said he ran the 100 round belt thru
the M60, took a few running steps with it and decided it was way too
heavy to be running with and threw it down. They left the machine gun
and their radio out there that night. I don't recall anyone getting
wounded. They were way out there as well and had to come back in on a
very dark night.I don't remember the details of the mine we hit up on
the DMZ. I do recall spending days putting the damn thing back together.
It seems to me we hit 3 mines in A17. I know we got a new M48 while we
were there and it seems to me we hit one in a Sheridan and got a new one
but I've slept since then. Sgt Barrows was telling on the phone the
other day about getting the shit knocked out of me with a .50 cal ammo
can when we hit the mine north of Cua Viet..Hell I didn't remember
GOING TO SIGN OFF FOLKS
By the time you receive this ,it will be 12 Feb. I wanted you all to
have this before the end of the day.
It was 31 years ago
tonight that a small ambush patrol was ambushed by NVA at Cua Viet.
Sgt. Style, Zahler, Barnes, Alvis and myself were hit while on
night ambush about 500 meters from the Troop position .
recall it was raining lightly, Alvis was on guard, it was about 11:30 PM
. We had all turned in for the night, taking 2hours shifts (I think)
each, it was Alvis's turn and I had just finished my shift at 11:00pm so
I was a bit awake.
The way they hit us it is a miracle that
anyone of us survived, much less come out of it without a scratch. The
whole incident is too long to recount from beginning to end, suffice to
say I thank God I am alive today to retell it.
That is the
night I earned my CIB. I can still recall Big Daddy's voice in the dark
yelling from the troop location, "Mendoza, come on in! Mendoza come on
I have been spooked about the dark ever since and to
this day I cannot sleep in total darkness.
I am glad to be
around today to be able to share memories with You all who I consider
all to be brothers, even thou in some cases the memory is a bit faint. I
look forward to seeing all of you in November, when they will be saying
in Vegas, "HERE COMES THE CAV.!!!!"
Take care guys, Wally Mendoza
Sent: Saturday, November 29, 2003 6:56 AM
Subject: Monte Stamm's neice Ashley
it's good to hear from you. i was in the 2nd plt., Aug. 18, 69 to Feb. 13, 70. i was
a gunner on track 24. Monte Stamm was on 24 with me, also Jerry Hansard was
on 24. Stamm got hit on Dec. 15, 1969, and died. I saw a message on the message board from his neice Ashley, asking for anyone who rememered Stamm to contact
her. I posted my e mail address, she answered, and i have lost her e mail
address. I sent her a message, on the message board to write me again, but no
response, so far. I want to thank you for offering to help a old 12th cav. trooper I
think of you guy's often. I got hit on Feb. 13, 1970. I spent 6 months in the hospi
tal, at Ft. Gordan, Ga. I'm doing well. Maybe i'll see you guy's again someday.
Ron Stinnett i had no nickname.
What can I say? The morning is as overcast as my clothes. My
first exertion today was to fling squares of black tar paper. This is
the stuff they put in the crates of M-79 ammo. Kind of like tossing
Yesterday, on the way over to this AO, while on the LCM, I had the same
thoughts as I always do; that is, when I ride LCM’s on the river:
We’re going to hit a mine. That’s why whenever I board a
boat I loosen my shoelaces. Superstitious? You damn right. Today is
supposed to be Valentine’s Day back in the world.
Went out on a dismount along Jones’ Creek around noon ostensibly
to look for mines floating in the river, but really just to kill
Spent the rest of the day either sleeping or skipping stones in the
river. No LP tonight. A general pays us a visit and tells us about death
and communism. Also, the general expects us to tie down our one row of
concertina with tangle foot and engineer stakes tonight! What lifer
Stoecker, short as hell, (15 days) is driving me crazy with his Gracie
Allen logic and incomplete hearing. Ah well, someday…
Oh yes, around lunchtime, I taught some kids how to write their names
and drew some silly pictures for comic relief.
Instant cocoa this morning. Had a sleepless night because of the killer
mosquitoes attacking me. I fought a losing battle. First sentence I said
this morning was “Get the Fuck out of Here!” to the gook
kids that appear every morning at our NDP, hovering like vultures and
begging ~ unlike vultures ~ for food. I can almost see why the men who
massacred that village felt no pain as they cut down those skinny
children. I find myself wishing I could spray their bodies with my rifle
on full automatic. Meanwhile Gizmo is trying to brew the world’s
perfect coffee-can-full of cocoa. Tell me life isn’t maintaining a
weird cosmic balance.
Yesterday, a cataclysmic event! Before I went on the noon
dismount, the radio mentioned me, saying that higher wanted me for an
interview. Further probing revealed that I am being considered for a job
in Finance! Me? Lucked out and become a REMF? Suddenly Vietnam is not as
hostile. My problems all erased. No longer will 1-2 dictate my actions.
Out of the field and into the kitchen the slave moves!
Clearly this sudden turn in fortunes will have a profound effect on my
war dairy. After almost 8 months in the field, I can hardly think,
lucked out for the second time in my life, the first was when I was sent
to the Cav instead of to the leg unit I was born and bred for. No more
sleeping in holes, going on LP’s or AP’s! No more worrying
about land mines, no more ambushes to look for. All tension and all
danger is now reduced to intangibles. I pulled guard last night, I think
it is the last time I put out claymores, concertina, trip flares, and
dug a foxhole! Ah yes, 1-2 is “up” today.
A trip today on the way back from Cua Viet to Quang Tri. I
rode a ¾ ton truck with Karl from the 2nd platoon
driving. I sat in the back with my meager possessions, all of which fit
in a M60 ammo can. I had a broken mirror, a double edge razor, a book, “Waiting for Godot,” and a folding pipe from Hong Kong. We
stopped in Dong Ha and purchased some fine Dong Ha 100’s to smoke
on the way back ~ they look like commercially rolled cigarettes. I
don’t know how Karl could drive. I didn’t care. My brains
were numb as I:
- I saw the deputy commander of Red Devil in his
air-conditioned office. I started to salute but he waved me off.
- Saw a major somebody, he’s the commander of Finance, but has
an airborne ranger patch on his uniform. Very friendly guy.
a Mr. Reynolds, a not so friendly warrant officer.
tho’ I was high I functioned, because I really really wanted out of the field.
- Got the job, at
least until March 25, I’m out of the field!
But the field is where my buddies are, how about SS, Milard, Giz, Park,
Al and everyone else? Ah well. Met Deon, Vouk, PR, Jim D, and Corso to
party up the night. [This was the end of my "war diary" of 17 days in February, 1970 ~Pineapple]
Been having our trip flares tied off by Charlie. Bout
9:30 trip flares went off on 3 sides at the same time. (I was
buttoned up in my mortar track (hey, c'mon, it was raining - gotta keep
the ammo dry ya'know) when our perimeter exploded w/ return fire.
Banged my head then got it opened up and still remember how incredibly
impressive all that firepower was going off allat once. Damn you
guys were good!!!) I popped illum and HE until we all decided no
return fire was going to come. Chuck was just doing a serious
perimeter probe and he learned quickly our shit was much to fast and
much to powerful to mess with. Think they went home to change
Feb 19 Cua Viet, going back to Quang Tri on the 22nd. Tankers to get new
Sheridans . Lost two APCs to mines. Took speed boat ride on Cua Viet River (Taylor)
I just returned from R&R to Hong Kong. I have been
putting off for a long time facing something that I had to think about
first. About 3 or 4 weeks ago I took out a four LP. We had one M60,
three M16s and claymores. We were out about a half click or so in a
grave yard. Around 01:00 while I was on guard, I saw movement ( 6 or 7
VC) about two hundred meters to my front. I woke up Coronato and we saw
6 or 7 more go by. I told everyone not to make a sound, I was afraid
the VC might hear my knees knocking. The way I have come to look at this
is being the safest way I could deal with the issue. One group was to my
flank and out of sight while the in front out numbered us, through we
would have surprise on our side. We had one other ambush that tried to
shot it out with VC in a graveyard and they came out on the short end of
thestick. I have thought about this for a long time and like in most of
my cases your instincts take over for better or worse. I STILL THINK
ABOUT THIS OVER THE YEARS, BUT ALWAYS I COME TO QUESTION, “HOW
MANY MEN WHEN OUT AND HOW MANY CAME BACK UNHURT. The Kid, Maggot and
myself were talking about traveling to Sidney.
We made the switch [to Sheridan tanks] on or about March 1, 1970. John 26
The following was contributed by 3rd platooner Robert
Klinsky, from his war dairy:
1st platoon spotted 10 gooks across the river today. Made a sweep but never saw them again - natch.
Andy Shuller had a blasting cap go off in his face
(oops). Drew blood and blurred his vision but will be OK. Medivac'd by boat.
A gook sampan boat hit a river mine. 4 killed plus 1
with broken back & neck. We pulled a sweep and stayed out an
Screw up in 4 deuce defcons from Cua Viet. Landed an HE
50 mikes from our perimeter. Like we need this shit! 8th, back to Cua Viet.
2nd platoons across river. CO told them to go straight
to a woodline despite their protests they'd pass thru a minefield where
they'd hit a mine last month. Made them go anyway and they hit
another mine - 3 medivac'd - broken arm the worst. They also took
two incoming rounds that night. &*#$%^&* CO!!
LT and 4 tracks crossed Jones Creek at low tide. One
track had a breakdown on the wrong side of the creek and they tried
towing it back - across the creek - now at high tide. (Not!)
Got stuck in the middle of the creek with the track full of water and
the top 2" showing out of the water. We left it overnight.
Lopez passed out sitting on his track. Stomach cramps and
seizures. Medivac'd. Medivac was going to start treatment
for "heatstroke" - Doc Lagnese told them he was just crashing
Went back at low tide and towed LT's track out of Jones
Creek and drained it.
March 15 put in for R&R, swimming in ocean daily (Taylor)
16th, back in to Cua Viet.
March 19 cold, rainy, got small dog on track (Taylor)
2 AM defcons were a nightmare for our mortar track
(49er). 2nd rnd was a dud 300 mikes out, 3rd & 4th hot and on
target, 5th hot but 150m short, 6th 25m from the tube - INSIDE OUR
PERIMETER!!! Thank God it either didn't have time to arm or it was
another dud!! Next AM I read the lot number then blew it in place
and fired the rest w/ that lot number into the ocean. Didn't need
THAT experience either!
April 3 took first chopper ride. Operating on the beach, cold rainy (Taylor)
“26 took an RPG through the road wheels
and hit a guy in a fox hole. DiSanto was TC, I was gunner, Jerry
Beverage was loader, Chet Misa was the driver, and Tom The Gook was a
passenger. Tom was medivaced with a bullet in the leg.”
John Sharpe wrote that an RPG hit A26. Photo of RPG hole on Track A26 The night was April 8, 1970. We
had just set up our NDP north of Cua Viet. The area was flat and sandy.
We put up our RPG screens and a bunch of claymores in front of each
track. Guys also went out and put up trip flares 50 to 100 meters
outside the perimeter. It was a moonless very dark night, and as night
fell, our Lt, who I believe was Lt. Perrino, began calling in defcons on
one side of the perimeter. He brought them in very close. I was in the
middle of the perimeter manning the mortar track. It was hot and very
muggy so about 5 of us were talking behind my track, ducking the
shrapnel from the artillery. After the Lt was done on one side of the
perimeter, he had the artillery dropped in on the opposite side.
Shrapnel flew over our heads as we took cover behind track 29.
Right after a round hit extremely close, one of the trip flares went
off. One of the guys peeked around the PC and shouted,” Look
at all those gooks!” I didn’t need to look as the five of us
scrambled to our positions. I spun the mortar tube around and
began firing charge 0 rounds. The whole perimeter opened up at that
time. Smithy and Koontz joined me in dropping rounds. The tanks were
firing, machine guns blasting and all of a sudden there was this
bone-chilling scream. Gibbs, who was in a foxhole next to 26, took the
shrapnel from the RPG. His arm was nearly blown off. Tom, the scout, was
hit and also one of the other M60 gunners was hit. Sgt. D crawled over
to my track and opened the door. I thought that we were goners because I
believed that it was the NVA. He wanted me to fire some illumination
rounds and I remember that I replied that illumination rounds
don’t kill. He said OK and crawled away. After awhile a
Medivac landed and we loaded the three wounded men. When the pilot took
off, he caught our Concertina wire with his skid. Somehow Sgt. Hunter
got the pilots attention and we got the wire unhooked. In the morning, we went out on foot
patrol and found 7 dead NVA under our wire. They had bamboo sticks
holding the wire up. One had an RPG launcher and some of them had
satchel charges. We found another NVA further out. We were very
lucky that night. That trip flare saved our asses. I believe that a guy
named Ferguson set it out. Also, our Lt saved us by calling in
those defcons so close.
I was the gunner on 26 that night and was on guard behind the fifty. We
had a headquarters radar track to the right and Gibbs was in a foxhole
to the left. That doesn't say much for the radar. Most of the gooks were
in front and to the right of me. I opened up with the fifty, but the
rounds coming in were from the wire and not from the large amount of
gooks farther out. They just took off. I think the sappers in the wire
were going to open it up for the others farther out.
Before I could hardly fire, Sgt D pushed me down in the gunner’s
seat and I cleared my sector with three canister rounds with Jerry
Beverage loading. Sgt D emptied the fifty and went to check the
perimeter while Tom the Gook and Chet Meesa loaded. Tom got shot in the
leg. Gibbs scream was the most bone chilling sound I’ve ever heard
in my life. That RPG burnt through the road wheels on the right side of
26 and out the left. To add to the confusion in the tank, our coax
jammed a round in the chamber. Beverage unwrapped a new barrel, then
bare handed the jammed barrel to the floor. It ignited the wrapping from
the new barrel. I went back to the fifty while Jerry stomped the fire
out. In retrospect that part was a little comical.
I don't think we took a round in after a few minutes, but didn't quit
firing for a long time. I was soaking wet with sweat, but freezing cold.
Go figure. The TC on the headquarters track had a week to go and in the
midst of all this he yelled out "I’m too short for this
John Sharpe and Bob taylor write in the Hist. of the Cav that they were
north of Cua Viet on April 8 1970 when A26 was hit with an RPG. Was this
when the NVA had several hundred pounds of plastic explosive and a
balloon type water mine with them. They had come within 25yds of the
parimeter and dug fox holes? The guy who hit the trip flare was out
several hundred yards with the mine gear and all that gook C4)
Jerry, that is the night. Lt Perrino was calling in the defcons when the
guy tripped the flare.
The gooks hadn't dug holes and I don't remember water mines, but they
had a shit load of plastic explosives. One guy had a snorkel.
That night NVA Naval sappers hit us. They were coming down to mine
the river. The next morning we recovered 240 pounds of ChiCom TNT,
pencil delay fuses and baskets with inflatable rubber tubes to float the
mines. April 8 1970.
On the evening of 4-8-70 we in the Cav selected a position to set up our
perimeter. This position was a few clicks north of Cua Viet. It was a
flatpiece of terrain with white sand as far as one could see.
Our perimeter was set up in a 360-degree circle, just like the
cowboys did with their covered wagons in the old western movies. Tanks
were positioned a 12,5, and 7 o'clock. Next to each tank was a 113 PC
and in the middle was our mortar track. For some unknown reason I had
the troops dig foxholes in between each track which later proved to save
As the sun set in the west troopers visited with
each other at their emplacements. Most likely talking about the day they
would leave the Nam and return to the world.
in arty defcons that were landing so close one could hear the shrapnel
whizzing over our heads as we ran for cover by our vehicles. I recall
Sgt. Hunter making coffee for the troops and removing his boots to air
out his feet.
Just as the last defcon was registered
outside our perimeter I saw a trip wire go off approximately 100 to 200
meters to our west, and at that time I heard someone yell "god damn look
at the fucking gooks."
Every one ran for their foxholes and
gun emplacements and at that moment every emplacement opened up with
machine gun, rifle, and main gun fire spraying the areas to their
As this all took place I heard a blood
chilling scream as trooper Gibbs was hit by shrapnel from an RPG that
hit the road wheel of A26 to his immediate right.
you can believe this a captain in the rear with the fucking gear, most
likely sipping some cold beer kept coming on the radio asking for a
confirmed enemy body count. I got on the radio and told this son of a
bitch to keep the net clear of traffic we need a medivac for our
wounded,( which was Gibbs and little gook Tom).
Hunter being the good trooper he was grabbed an M-16 and jumped over the
concertina directly to our west where we had seen the trip flare go off
to get a body count.
After a few seconds I jumped over the
wire to assist Hunter. As he was coming back into the perimeter, he got
his sock on his caught in the concertina wire.
As I covered
Hunter I saw three fucking gooks off to my immediate right facing our
perimeter with what later proved to be AK-47's. At that split second I
fired several bursts from my M-16 at the gooks, and could see the shirts
on their backs rip as each round found it mark. (Mr. Rebbec this brings
back memories of our little encounter).
Someone called in
Puff who lit up our outer perimeter with cover fire I remember thinking
no one can survive that gunfire. There were so many red tracers falling
from the sky it looked like you could walk from the ground to the plane.
After puff finished the medivac came in to my left and
hovered just off the ground as the wounded were loaded. As the chopper
started to lift off the left skid got caught on the concertina wire
preventing it from lifting off. Two or three of us pulled the wire off
the skid, and as the chopper lifted off it turned on its searchlight
lighting us up like a candle in the darkness.
After a while
things for us started to settle down as a light fog started to settle
in. I walked from position to position checking on the troops. As the
sun rose in the east we could see seven dead NVA lying just outside our
perimeter, they were so close it was frightening.
later the Colonel flew out to our location and the Lt. asked me to
select a trooper off each track to receive an award. I went to each
track as requested and ask the troops to select the trooper they wanted
We then buried the 8 dead NVA and departed to
Closing comments : a captain that I won't mention
his name told me prior to 4-8-70, "Sergeant, the war is over in
Where did he gather his Intel?
these are my memories of the Cav.
From Klinsky’s war dairy:
2nd platoon got in
another firefight about 10PM. Body count, 8 NVA. Our worst,
1 messed up arm and a scouts broken leg. Same night, 1st platoon killed
one of 2 gooks walking near their perimeter and also the perimeter here
at Cua Viet had 2 exchanges with AK47s. We provided illum till
From: Jerry Beverage
Subject: Heart attack
To: "Jerry Malan"
Date: Saturday, June 27, 2009, 8:35 AM
Just a note to let you know. Just got out of the hospital
found out i had a heart attack sometime in the last
few months. Didn't know i had one no signs.. The Doctor
said it was on the bottom part of the heart. Can't do any
thing for it because the tissue is dead. The heart doctor
didn't say what % was damaged. I am doing good now
but still weak. I wanted you to be the first to know in
case the Lord calls me home. The night of the fire fight
on April 8th that 2nd Plt had i am the one that set out
the trip flare the gook set off.Over by the bomb crater
i was on 26 Sgt. Ds tank that night.Along with John Sharpe
Chet Mesa, Sgt D. My tank 28 had got some bad fuel
and was in base camp. Never told anyone i set the flare
out that night that they tripped until now. Thought guys in
2nd Plt. would want to know. Your Friend
41 hit 40lb
mine. Rodgers got broken left foot, broken right ankle, a hole in
his back, and a gash in his left leg requiring 120 stitches.
Werner, sitting behind Rodgers had some internal injuries but was OK in
a few weeks. TC & gunners OK.
I will be arriving Wednesday evening for the reunion. My cell is 401 354-5433. I received a letter - snail mail - today from an old trooper, Gerald Standridge. He's looking for a sworn statement regarding a PC that hit a land mine. He lists several names of people on the track: Richard G Rogers, J. C. Hunt from KY, Gerald Ware from Atlanta, Carter Fuller from FL, If any of you can help him or know of any of these troopers please contact Gerals A. Standridge, 100 Peach Hill Dr., Jefferson, GA 30549. See you in Vegas LT Zero
That incident happened in April of 1970, about the time and near the location of your famous night firefight on the north side of the Cua Viet river. I was in 3 rd platoon, but had the great, good pleasure of being on an in-country R&R to Vung Tau when the track hit the mine. Total combat loss, and I know that Rogers was medevac-ed to CONUS, and later had a foot amputated from injuries received in the blast. Carter Fuller is a sometimes member of the Commo Net. According to the last roster that I have, Rogers & Ware are TNF status, there is an address for J.C. Hunt, though I don't know how active he has been in the organization. Doc Lagnese probably treated the victims of that blast. I vaguely remember Standridge's name, but don't really recall anything about him. Perhaps he was medevac-ed too, and didn't spend much time in the platoon. Long time ago, and that is one of the incidents that I recall hearing about, but did not witness. Jim Good
Brothers: I do recall that incident. The track that blew was in column right behind mine (40). I had just radioed our proposed NDP to troop and started to move to a slight rise on otherwise flat terrain. Cpt Smith and the Battalion S3 Air had also just called and said they were airborne in our area and were coming in to our position. Then the mine blew. When I turned to see what in the hell happened, their track was in the air, and landed on its side, and was on fire by the time I got to it. The guys on top were blown off ( thank God for the soft sand of Cua Viet). Rodgers was still in the drivers seat. We pulled him out and away from the now burning PC. Rounds were starting to cook off. Andy administered morphine to Rodgers. When Cpt Smith and the S3 Air landed in a LOH, I kind of remember Medevacing the wounded on their LOH. I have Standridge's address and will write a letter to him confirming the incident. See you at FSB Vegas. ETA Thursday mid afternoon. Have a safe trip. Earl (40)
In the fight's aftermath, some medals were handed out to 2nd Platoon:
April 11 returned to Quang Tri for R&R (Taylor)
Left Cua Viet for Quang Tri
23 Apr Pedro - (boo coo mine area)
Track 32 Call Sign 42 went over a brush-covered
embankment - ass over teakettle - skidded down on their top. Can't
believe ….no injuries. (Click here for photos)
I don't remember who was on the track, but apparently the gravity was especially strong in the area where it flipped.
If I recall correctly, the sheridan that I was on had some sort of mechanical problem, (didn't they always??), and our crew was in Quang Tri when this incident happened. I remember them bringing the track back to the motor pool, but don't recall how seriously damaged that it was. It seems like no one was killed or seriously injured when it flipped, but somehow it seems that I recall that the driver was trapped in the driver's hatch for a while. Given all the ammo and other stuff that we carried in APCs it must have been a real mess inside when it went over. The story I remember was that John Coble was the TC of the track and he ended up trapped. Sniper Tom, you may be onto something there. I remember Coble had one of his arm's in a cast for a while. I can't remember how he broke it, but it might have been from when this track flipped over.
As I remember that incident, the 40 track was behind Coble as we traversed down and across a slope covered with high grass. When the PC started to roll
it was like watching it in slow motion. It rocked back and forth once or
twice and then rolled completely over. The roll occurred because the right
track went down into a hidden bomb crater. Coble's leg was pinned to the
ground by the 50 cal gun shield. I tried to get him unpinned but the damn
track was still rocking slightly, keeping his leg pinned. I was concerned
that the track may catch fire so I remember saying to him " You're coming
out of there right now" . I grabbed him under the arms and pulled until he
finally popped out from under the gun shield. We medivac'd him and he
returned to the field in a couple of days. Nothing more serious than some
25 Apr Pedro
21 hit mine. 1 busted eardrum. CBL
(combat loss) track.
26 Apr Pedro
62 hit small mine - no injuries.
April 27 Got back the 24th pulling bunker guard at Quang Tri (Taylor)
Sheridan and a pickup track (whatever THAT was) hit
mines on the way back from a log run. 18 caught fire and driver,
Sammons, slightly injured back.
**I think I remember this incident. Wasn't this the one where the
Sheridan & the M-548 (pickup track), and another vehicle, either a
second Sheridan or an ACAV, were on the way back to Quang Tri from FB
Shitty Smitty? The TC of the Sheridan thought of something he
wanted to tell the CO, and had just initiated a call on the radio.
Since the whole troop was in a perimeter, everyone was on the same
frequency, and most of us heard the exchange. "6, this is XXX (I've forgotten his call sign)" XXX, this is
6, go ahead." "6, this is XXX
[high pitchedscream] The TC of the other
vehicle with them then excitedly keyed his mic and said "6, XXX
just hit a big mine and blew up, they are on
fire!" Turns out the Sheridan had hit
a dud 155mm WP round, and burst it open. Scared the bejeezus out
of the TC who had his radio keyed, and he screamed like a woman being
raped. The other track could just see the flash and the cloud of
smoke that engulfed the Sheridan. Scared the crap out of everyone
for a minute, but as I recall, it really didn't do much if any damage,
and no one was hurt.
30 Apr 1970
Nixon announced that US troops have attacked Communist sanctuaries in
Cambodia, following the overthrow of Prince Sihanouk by US-aided Lon
May Assigned to 20 as gunner, no more mortar track. General and Colonel
stated that the 4/12 was the best outfit in the 5th Div. (Taylor)
4 May 1970
The National Guard kills 4 students at Kent State.
From Klinsky’s War Dairy:
18 hit another small mine - it's 3rd. No one
66 hit a small mine.
Watched a LRP team from a couple klicks away getting
fired on by some gooks last night. Cobra came and hosed the area
around them. We went in to extract them this AM. Pete (my
driver) spotted 8-14 uniformed NVA. We were set up in a horseshoe
formation so the direct fire who could see them couldn't fire w/o
hitting our own so 6 had us fire them up from 700m out. A tanker
watching thru a scope saw our 1st willy pete marker land in the middle
of 3 who'd split off from the rest. We dropped 75 and fired for
effect working the creek bed over pretty good. A later sweep found
a spider hole in the creek bank where they'd holed up. Never saw
them (or bodies) again but recovered 3 of their rucks, medals and
certificates, bloody pants and an NVA radio - on our push!!
27 hit small mine.
May 18 back out in field (Taylor)
I'm (Skee) now officially TC of 49er.
May 25 Blocking force, platoon only (Taylor)
27May Happy Birthday to me.
AM; Sgt Smith and Lee had a short
fight. 05 later, Coble picked a fight w/ Lee.
2:30 PM, a jet
caught fire and crashed within 500m of Quang Tri rear gate.
Monster smoke ring. The pilots must have bailed w/ 02 'cause we'd
given up watching for them in the sky when someone finally saw the speck
of their chutes.
4:30 PM Sgt Mac came out drunk cussin' and
threatnin' to kill Georgia, Minchey and a few others for trying to get
Coble and Smitty busted. 3rd herd's getting' flaky!!! WE
NEED A STANDDOWN!!!
May 31 track broke down, in Quang Tri (Taylor)
It was the summer of 1970, I don't recall the month. We were southwest of
Quang Tri, in the "Backyard" area between the combat base and the river Photo Quang Tri River. I
think LT Schorp was on leave, and don't remember who was calling in the
DEFCONs. We may have had a FO with us, but it was probably the platoon
sergeant. The area was fairly flat and open, not a lot of brush or trees
to stop shrapnel. I don't recall the round being all that close when it
went off. Seems like it was just a fluke that one, a lone, big hunk of
shrapnel flew a lot farther than usual. The arty guys may have goofed up
somehow - extra charge bag, wrong azimuth or deflection, or the guy calling
it in may have been more aggressive than he intended, but it really didn't
seem especially close. At any rate, we were spending a typical night in
the field. All the claymores, tripflares, RPG screens, etc.
had been put out. Most of the guys were just loafing, or visiting with
friends around other tracks, and not really paying a lot of attention to
the DEFCONs. Today, if there were 155mm artillery rounds going off just
over a half mile from your campsite, you would be going nuts. In Viet Nam
it was just another evening. As I recall Morris Smith telling the story,
he was thinking about his upcoming R&R in Hawaii where he was going to meet
his wife for a week away from the war. He said that he was trying to
determine how many days he had left until leaving on R&R and he raised his
left arm to count on his fingers when "Whap!" the hunk of shrapnel hit his
left side, and he let out a moan that everyone heard. If he would have had
his arm down by his side, he might have lost it. Later, someone found the
piece of shrapnell on the floor of his turret. Seems like it was about 6
or 8 inches long, and 2 inches in diameter. It split his side open from
just under his armpit to just above his hip, but fortunately didn't cut
very deep. Just split the skin, and the shrapnel didn't penetrate him. I
can't remember if he had on a flack jacket or not, but I tend to think he
didn't. We quickly shut down the artillery, and called a dustoff. Photo of dustoff with Smith onboard Doc
Lagnese may recall some of the details, as I assume he put Smith on the
medivac. Smith didn't even stay in the hospital at Quang Tri very long.
I remember a few days after the incident we were in the rear, and he was
resting at "B Med," Company B, 5th Medical Bn, which was the 5th Mech's
organic medical unit, and which served more or less as an outpatient
clinic and minor convalescent center. I think Smith only stayed there a
very few days before returning to the unit. He probably stayed in the rear
on light duty until going on R&R, but eventually he returned to the field
with the 3rd Platoon. Just by the grace of God his wounds were relatively
Summer 1970 continued...this is a conversation on the commo net in late Feb 2008
If it was in 1970 near the Rock Pile, it may have been that big fire at
the start of the Bai Long Valley when we went on Task Force 1/77 Armor.
Lots of artillery, the Cav, 1/77, 1/61 and probably other units as well.
Seems like it was June or July of 1970. After taking a large artillery unit
to Van der Grift and setting up a temporary firebase there for a week or so,
we returned to Quang Tri by way of the Bai Long Valley. The first night we
got a big grass fire which nearly got into our perimeter. An attached
engineer bulldozer was outside the perimeter trying to cut a fire break
between us and the flames. The fire got to some of the claymores and set
them off. Interesting night. After that, things were relatively quiet
going back through the Bai Long, but everyone was on full pucker factor
because we were the first U.S. unit to have been out there for quite a
while. LT Zero may offer more details -- not that he caused the fire or
Jim is right that the fire in the Ba Long valley occurred in mid-‘70 – in mid- to late-July. It is the source of two of the most memorable images that I recall from my time with the Troop. We had been at Firebase Vandergrift as part of an “artillery raid” that the Brigade had conducted, in which they moved 175mm and 8-inch artillery pieces out there in order for them to be in range to do harassing and interdicting fires on the Ho Chi Minh Trail complex (see entry under 9Jul further down in this history). Once that operation was concluded the artillery and other units returned to Quang Tri or Dong Ha Combat Bases, but we were sent south through the Ba Long valley. We set up our first NDP in a huge, grass-filled meadow; I’d estimate (after looking at Google Earth) that it was a mile or more long and a half-mile wide (at about 16deg. 37’ 54”N, 107deg. 01’ 41”E, I think). A few ancillary activities that afternoon were sending a team to blow up a dud bomb (big sucker!) that we had passed and allowing folks to wash up in the river (some “fishing with hand grenades” occurred, as I recall). As Jim says, later on a grass fire started outside the perimeter, started by a smoke grenade, I think. We had an engineer crew with a bulldozer with us; once we saw that the fire was getting serious, those guys went outside our ring of claymores and cut a firebreak around the NDP. That was right about at nightfall. So the first memorable image, from a while later on, was the whole valley full of grass burning in the dark, except where we were – like something out of Apocalypse Now! The other memorable sight occurred when the sun rose. By then the fire had burnt itself out, so there we were, in a little muddy, grassy circle surrounded by black in all directions. [Bob Richards]
John, I checked the Cav website history section and in July of 69 we were near LZ Angel. A marine tripped on of our flares and started a fire. Almost burned our tracks. I only remember it because I wrote home back then and mentioned it in the letter. Pineapple put it on the history section.
Bob Taylor, 2nd Platoon, 69-70
Hey John, the only fire I remember was our first mission to the DMZ (out of good old
LZ Nancy) and this was July or August of 1969. Capt. Robinson was in charge of the
Troop and we would go thru the bush using pop up flares and C-4 (yes, that C-4)
to start fires and deprive the bad guys of cover.
Thought we would burn down the whole DMZ at one point but of course that never happened.
Turtle I'm sure we were on some kind of move and got into some high dry
grass. I know we were tired but had to go on. I know we went by the Rock
Pile and some of the older guys told us that the Marines took it on
John were we set up on line during the day watching it burn? Or was that our
tracers starting a fire in the dry season????? Damn it's all so jumbled.
Sure wish I'd have kept a journal.
Turtle I am not sure any more but I think maybe summer time. John
John, do you remember about what time of year that was?
Bob do you remember what we were in when we got caught in some valley at
night and there was a fire coming our way or was it around us? I
remember it was some where past the Rock Pile. I also remember it was a
long night and mission. I guess if you can't remember maybe Turtle can.
Take care. John K. 2nd PLKT. 69/70-- It was in 1970.
6 Jun 1970
Robert F. Kennedy assassinated.
From Klinsky’s war dairy:
12Pm Quang Tri got hit by 19 rockets. Hit the
1/77 hootches killing 2 and wounding 22 engineers - direct hit on their
hootches. Hit empty service club and empty movie area.
Almost hit battalion TOC. 2 hit not far from our hootches - but we
were back in the bush.
I (Skee) got walked on my bare back by a 6"
centipede. Drew blood. Doc lanced it w/ a razor blade.
Tight & painful for a day or 2 but no damage.
Sgt. Mac hit a mine with 46 (YES, he was driving - for
kicks) Blew a nice hole but no damage or injuries. (believe this
is the day Sgt. Otts joined us.)
Sgt. Otts and Werner medivac'd for M-79 shrapnel
wounds. (If I remember correctly the round one of them fired hit a
limb right over their heads) Werner right back but Otts needed 4
stitches in his neck.
27 hit mine on Red Ball.
79 mini-primer, mortar round primer and 105 for a kicker - 105 didn't
detonate. No damage, no injuries.
I'm now an official "Acting Jack" (field 5) 24 hit
mine - kicker didn't detonate (same FNG must've set them both up).
1/77 scout track hit by command detonated 155 mine in our AO.
Chuck blew it directly under the driver. Blew him, the lats, seat,
dashboard - right up and out the hatch. Legs gone. KIA
27 June 1970
Tank A-38 hit mine: the incident took place near the
Quang Tri River, about 2 miles south of Quang Tri City. The driver (SP4
Lea) and I (Jim Good) were both slightly injured, and medivaced to Quang
Tri. Other guys from the 3rd Platoon saw a young kid, about 14 years of
age run from the area. It appears that he set off the command detonated
mine as we drove past. Lea, Jerry Darnell, John Davis and I all got the
Purple Heart for injuries resulting from that mine.Photograph of damaged A-38.
From Klinsky’s war dairy:
mine. 3- 155 rounds. CBL tank but bruised knee and sore
butts the worst injuries.
20 hit mine. Driver took 4 stitches in chin. CBL
track. Had belly plate which helped a bunch.
From R. Klinsky’s war
1Jul (Skee made 2 digit midget)
3rd herd moved to Hai Lang w/ 1st platoon joining us later.
3 companies of NVA supposed to be in the area. (what the heck were
Tingo shot his big toe almost off w/ a 60. Using the Cav and
2 platoons of 1/77 as a blocking force, the ARVN's waxed 145 NVA.
Sgt Debos went out to pick up a gangbang of 4
claymores. Gooks stole 3 and booby trapped the 4th. It went
off when he was about 20 ft from it. Messed up his side, legs and
chest pretty bad.
Moved toward Khe San way west in the Mountains not far from
Laos with 3/5 Cav, 1/61, 1/77, 4/12, 175's, 155's, aid station, dozers, & commo (most of Quang Tri, I think), to set up a new
firebase. Mine roller 48 tank hit major mine, knocked it off the
road and CBL'd it. 4/12 command track hit mine, CBL. Broken
wrist and bruises worst injuries.
As the entry above shows, the “artillery raid” to FB Vandergrift was a big operation.[see above Summer 1970]This was the first of two such operations in which we participated in the summer of ’70. The troop was the advance guard for the whole shebang. Shortly after we passed the Rockpile, we came to a stream crossing on route 9 (at 16deg. 45’ 58.3” N, 106deg. 51’ 15.7” E). Since we had an engineer team with us, I had them check the ford with their mine-detectors – it came out clear, so we proceeded through the ford. Two Sheridans crossed the ford ahead of the command track. As the command track crossed, the mine detonated (must have been command-detonated). It went off under the right-side track, so the vehicle, besides flying into the air, dumped me, Greg Beining, LT Malm, and whoever else was in the track off on the left side. We landed stacked like cord-wood, and I recall looking back up at the track as it fell back to earth on its side, and thinking, “Man, I hope that doesn’t land on our legs.” It didn’t. Maintenance/recovery took care of evacuating the vehicle; we continued the mission on down the road to Vandergrift. My “trophy” from this incident was a huge and persistent bruise on my left butt-cheek. I didn’t do much sitting down for several days. On thinking about this later, I was pretty pissed that the engineers did not detect the mine during their sweep of the ford. [Bob Richards]
24 hit mine while bookin'. Went down embankment and
flipped over. 1, and possibly 3 broken legs (I assume not all on the
same guy). New firebase is shaping up.
Convoy from Vandergrift to Cam Lo got ambushed. RPG's
and auto fire. 1 medivac'd - not bad. On our way back from
Cam Lo, 1/61 put out a dismount sweep to check the ambush area.
Got fragged by a gook. 1 KIA, 1 WIA. Gook got dead too.
Dude from 1/61 built his fire over an old M16 mag which
exploded and put shrapnel in his face. Medivac'd.
1/61 ambushed 1/77’s scouts! No one hurt. Dumb shits!!!
My claymore ambush blew at 6AM. Blew 1 gook into
a tree. Later found 2 rucks. 9PM, 1/77 security platoon killed a gook w/
From KlinskyÕs war dairy:
12Aug 7:30 AM
20 rockets were fired 1800m in front of us aimed at Sharon. Our tanks
and mortars fired up the launch site, as did 105's from Ann. Tried to
sweep the area but was tri-can - nothing.
Brigade security platoon ambushed in our AO. 2KIA, 2 WIA
27 sank completely in Quang Tri River. CBL.
I'm going in for E-5 board. 47 in front of us hit mine.
CBL. Roland minor back injuries and shock, Lea paralyzed 2 fingers -
also his 3rd mine! Sent stateside.
passed 5 board
28 hit mine. CBL. Minor injuries.
18 hit mine. CBL.
11 hit mine. CBL. Minor injuries.
22 hit mine. CBL. Minor injuries.
Gook fired 2 bursts of AK47 into the perimeter from about 400m out. No
injuries, never found him.
Sgt. Otts caught shrapnel from 81mm 200m out. Da Nang for recoup.
"66 hit mine. 8" round. 6 medivac'd. Beining (driving), broken arm,
possibly broken leg, messed up pretty bad - stateside bound. F.O messed
up neck &/or back, old man cut head (out cold). FNG - hurt knee,
engineer & LT, internal injuries." That was 5 days a'fore I ETS'd!!!
That was the last entry (besides "I'm outa here!") in my diary.
Melvin E. Tucker, PFC, perished.
Le Boeuf accidentally killed by a .50 caliber machinegun at home
base in Quang Tri
23 Nov 1970
A raid into North Vietnam to free American POWs comes up empty-handed.
I left Quang Tri on Thanksgiving Day 1970 to come home. We were to go to
Can Ranh Bay. Like most guys, we got orders to go home, but not given a
way to get there. Jerry Beverage and I bummed a ride on a C 130 to Da
Nang, hoping to find another flight to Cam Ranh from there, but no
flights were leaving in the forseeable future. The Air Force ran the
club at Da Nang and wouldn't let us in, because it was their
Thanksgiving celebration. ( I always thought they were a bunch of pansy
as &*%$*&%$). Somehow, we found our way to a French restaurant just
outside the base. We celebrated with another guy over some wine. We
truly had something to be thankful for, we were on our way home. When we
returned to the airport, it was deserted and dark, but we found a cargo
flight going to Cam Ranh Bay. There were no seats, just cargo, us, and
four or five Vietnamese that looked like farmers and probably had no
business in the plane. We flew through the worst storm I've ever flown
through. The plane even leaked. I think we landed about 2:00 a.m.
31 Dec 1970
Troop strength is 280,000.