SUBJECT: Combat Operations After Action Report
1. NAME AND TYPE OF OPERATION:
a. Name: Operation Sullivan (OPORD 14-68)
b. Type: Search and Destroy
2. DATES OF OPERATION: 130700 September 1968 - 131940 September 1968.
3. LOCATION: Northern Quang Tri Province in the southern half of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). Map, Vietnam, 1:50,000 ams series L7014, Sheets 6342 I, Cam Lo, and 6442 IV, Quang Tri. Operational Area bounded by coordinates YD 1177, YD1170, YD 2077, YD 2070.
4. COMMAND HEADQUARTERS: 1st Battalion, 77th Armor, 1st Infantry Brigade, 5th Infantry Division (Mech) APO 96477.
5. UNIT COMMANDER:
a. Task Force 1-77
1. Commanding Officer 1st Battalion, 77th Armor, Lieutenant Colonel John M. Pickarts
2. Commanding Officer A Company 1st Battalion, 77th Armor, Captain James A. Herrington
3. Commanding Officer C Company 1st Battalion, 77th Armor, Captain Darrel Blalock
4. Commanding Officer D Company 1st Battalion, 11th Infantry, Captain Donald B. Smallwood
5. Commanding Officer B Company, 1st Battalion (M), 61st
b. Task Force 1-11
1. Commanding Officer 1st Battalion 11th Infantry, Lieutenant Colonel Seiby F. Little Jr.
2. Commanding Officer A Company 1st Battalion, 11th Infantry, Leonard A. Ragus
3. Commanding Officer A Troop 1st Battalion, 12th
6. TASK ORGANIZATION: (See OPORD 14-68)
1-77 Armor (-B Co., - 1 Plt/A Co.)
B Co., 1-61 Mech
D Co., 1-11 Inf
Plat, A/7 Engr
Co. A 1-11 Inf
A/Trp 4-12 Cav
a. The 1/77 Armor consists of A Headquarters Company, three Armor Companies (one com-
pany was detached in TF 1/11 at time of opn) and a service company. B Co 1/61 and D
Co 1/11 were attached to make a dismounted sweep once the objective had been secured.
D Co 1/11, a light Infantry Company, was mounted for this operation on tracks from the
1/77 Scout Platoon and three M113’s borrowed from 1/61.
b. Task Force 1/11, consisting of A Co 1/11 and A/Trp 4-12 Cav, secured Objective Romeo
2000 meters to the southeast of the primary objective. They were prepared to move on
on order to support operations on Objective Sierra.
7. SUPPORTING FORCES:
a. Army Aviation:
The Brigade Aviation section provided one (1) LOH for Command and Control to 1/77
Armor. Four (4) medevac missions were flown in support of the operation.
b. Tactical Air Support:
(1) During the conduct of Operation Sullivan a total of four (4) missions were flown in
support of ground forces. See enclosure 2 (Tactical Air Support)
(2) The following type missions were flown: four (4) Immediate.
(3) The forward Air Controller proved to be an asset not only in directing strikes, but also
in aiding the ground commanders in navigation and target detection.
c. Naval Gun Fire:
Naval Gun Fire was utilized to provide preparation fires but did not fire in direct support
of the ground forces.
(a) Enemy strength and exact locations and dispositions within the area of operations were
not known prior to the start of the operation. Order of Battle data indicated that the 138th
Independent Regiment was operating in the area in strength amounting to a reinforced
(b) Although some equipment and clothing were found during the operation there was noth-
ing of hard intelligence value turned up.
(c) Terrain and Weather:
(1) Terrain within the area of operation was characterized by low rolling hills with occas-
ional areas of bogs and paddy land.
(2) Except for existing trails, the terrain was covered with heavy secondary vegetation.
(3) Cover and Concealment in the terrain characterized by rolling hills was good due to
natural terrain features, artillery craters, and the dense foliage.
(4) The weather on 13 Sep was overcast with intermittent showers. Weather conditions
caused cancellation of several air strikes.
(5) Lighting conditions on 13 Sep were at 67% illumination.
Task Force 1/77 attacks at 130700 Sep 68 to seize objective Sierra, to search and destroy
Enemy forces, gain intelligence on enemy disposition and strength, and conduct asses-
ment of ARC light #4.
10. CONCEPT OF OPERATION:
Operation Sullivan was a mounted penetration into the DMZ. The primary objective Sierra
(YD 170770), was a suspected enemy concentration. This area was to be bombed by an
ARC light mission and then a damage assessment made by 1/77 a few hours later. Objective
Sierra had only one feasible route of approach and withdrawal. This necessitated securing
intermediate objectives Alpha and Tango to ensure that the route of withdrawal was secure.
Task Force 1/11 was to secure objective Romeo, to the southeast of Sierra, and prepare to
move to Sierra on order.
a. By 130700 all units had moved to their respective LD’s and crossed on time. Elements of
Task Force 1/77 were initially in a column with A Company leading. Sniper fire was taken
from vicinity of YD134715 but the tracks rolled on to objective Alpha. Alpha was com-
pletely vacant so they immediately moved on to objective Tango.
b. A Company hit objective Tango at about 0800. They drove into the middle of an estim-
ated NVA Platoon in bunkers and had the enemy scattering before anyone was fully aware
of the situation. The terrain prohibited pursuit so they had to pull back and attempt to find
a better route. At this time their VTR threw a track. The first elements of C Company and
the Battalion Command Group arrived at Tango about fifteen (15) minutes after A Company
They were able to relieve the pressure and allow A Company to break loose and continue to
c. An M-113 of B Company 1/61 had hit a mine at Vicinity YD 137724 and sustained three
(3) WIA requiring a medevac. Otherwise the column had moved well up to objective Tango.
Here a bottleneck was developing. D Company 1/11 was right behind A Company and un-
able to move. B Company held on objective Alpha.
d. Task Force 1/11 had moved out and had objective Romeo secured by 0930. In moving to
the objective an M-113 of A Trp 4-12 Cav, hit a mine which blew off three (3) road wheels.
They sustained three (3) WIA and required a medevac. In taking the objective some resis-
tance was met. The skirmish resulted in eight (8) NVA KIA and four (4) friendly WIA. A
subsequent search of Romeo netted three (3) 82mm mortars, 168 rounds 82mm mortar
ammunition, and one (1) RPG with two (2) rounds of ammunition all of which were destroy-
ed in place. An additional 300 rounds of 82mm and 60mm mortar ammunition was captured.
e. At Tango the bottleneck was beginning to break up. C Company, 1/77 was maintaining
contact with the enemy but not attempting to expand its perimeter. A Company had broken
contact and proceeded toward Sierra. It was still maintaining a column hoping to achieve
maximum speed and with it surprise. The trail was overgrown and the forward air controller
helped to keep the column oriented on their objective. Two bogs were crossed enroute to the
objective, the second of which, was crossed by only five (5) of the eleven (11) tanks. A Com
pany held at this the southern edge of objective Sierra and fired in preplanned artillery con-
centrations around the objective while waiting to be joined by the infantry.
f. When the message was received that A Company had reached Sierra, LTC Pickarts order-
ed B Company to move from objective Alpha through the position C Company was holding
on Tango and on to Sierra. D Company followed them arriving in position at approximately
g. By this time activity had picked up on objective Tango. Again C Company was receiving
small arms fire plus artillery or mortar rounds. It was ascertained that these rounds were com
ing from the northwest and 5/4 Artillery and 1/77 Armor Mortar Platoon responded with
counter-battery fires. The Forward Air Controller brought in an air strike dropping (14) 500lb
napalm canisters to suppress the ground fire. This ordnance fell within 30 meters of friendly
lines and was considered to be invaluable in helping to hold this vital piece of terrain. The
Mortar Platoon provided continuous fire support throughout the afternoon, expending a total
of 405 rounds. The forward trains were able to resupply the platoon with ammunition
immediately upon request, thereby causing no unnecessary delay of fire support.
h. On objective Sierra the infantryman had dismounted their tracks and were making a
sweep of the area. In this sweep they found 14 rounds of 82mm mortar, bags of rice and salt,
cooking utensils, and protective masks. There was no evidence that the area had been used
recently. At this time a tight sheaf of three (3) artillery rounds fell between the A Company
Commander’s tank and that of his First Sergeant. The Armor company pulled off two hund-
red meters to avoid further artillery shellings and the infantrymen returned to their tracks.
The Bn CO did not send A Company back to search after the Artillery subsided in that it was
time to start the withdrawal.
i. At 1350 hours the elements at Sierra began their withdrawal. A led out with the infantry
companies following in close order. They passed through the door which C Company had
held open since early that morning. A Company pulled in to the Market (YD 135728) at 1500
hours and established a holding position to cover the withdrawal of C Company from Tango.
B Company and D Company passed through this position and returned to A-4.
j. C Company began to move off Tango at 1611 hours. Before they had cleared the position
one of their APC’s threw a track. The Bn XO had already been called forward to supervise
the recovery of several disabled tanks. The platoon Leader of the rear guard element was
attempting to recover the APC and the Executive Officer of B Company was also bringing a
disable vehicle through the position at this time. Enemy activity picked up with NVA forces
moving south to cut off the withdrawal of these rear elements. This move was countered by a
timely air strike in which ten (10) 500 lb. Bombs were dropped on enemy positions. This
resulted in the destruction of ten (10) bunkers and an in determinant number of enemy troops.
k. By 1730 these last elements had passed through the lines of A Company. As A Company
turned to withdraw from the Market one of its tanks hit a mine. This again caused a delay
which was covered by an Air Force sortie. This time the fighters dropped eight (8) 500 lb
bombs destroying seven (7) bunkers, a possible automatic weapons position, and causing a
a large secondary explosion.
l. It was after 1800 when A Company finally got its entire column moving back to C-3 where
it closed at 1940 hours.
(1) Enemy KIA – 35
(2) Enemy WIA – unk
(3) Enemy captured – none
(4) Friendly KIA – none
(5) Friendly WIA - 25
(6) Friendly MIA – none
b. Captured or destroyed enemy equipment or positions (See Incl 4)
13. ADMINISTRATIVE MATTERS:
(1) The movement of the battalion from C-3 to A-4 was led by the Battalion Support Group.
This group included the Battalion Aid Station, Recovery Section, and supply trains and was
Under the control of the Battalion Executive Officer. This enabled the m-548 cargo carriers
Fitted with Mogas and Deisel fuel tanks to top-off the entire Battalion. This task was accom-
plished in 42 minutes and gave the Battalion the capability of operating an hour longer in
combat before refueling would become necessary.
(2) The Forward Battalion Aid Station proved to be invaluable. They treated many cases on
scene and ground evacuated them where otherwise medevac would have been necessary.
(3) Battalion supply trucks were loaded with ammunition and ready to move on call from C-3
All the Battalion’s resources were thus prepared and the Battalion could have sustained itself
in combat for several days without outside support.
(4) Communications were generally good, however, late in the day when the last elements
were attempting to recover downed vehicles and withdraw from objective Tango, other log-
istical net stations, unaware of the criticality of the recovery operation, were tying up the
Battalion log net with administrative matters. This caused some operational traffic to be de-
layed. It was agreed to use the service company command net to handle forward logistical
traffic on future operations.
14. SPECIAL EQUIPMENT AND TECHNIQUES:
LTC Pickarts chose to control his forces from the ground rather than the air. Although he
could not observe all elements he would have a better feel for the intensity of the action.
The jump CP (S3 Air and Arty LO) remained at objective Tango for the entire day. From
this position and with the advice of the S-3 in the air the commander was able to execute
effective and timely control over the Battalion.
15. COMMADERS ANALYSIS:
The operation on the 13th of September was a typical penetration with the single qualification
That objective Sierra offered only one route of approach and withdrawal. Hill56 (YD140730)
was a strategic piece of terrain along the route of approach and would have to be held to en-
sure that the withdrawal would not be cut off. We recommended to Brigade that they include
Hill56 as an intermediate objective, which they did. As it turned out we had our heaviest con-
tact on this position.
In tailoring our forces for the operation we mounted D Company, 1/11 Infantry on tracks
From our recon platoon and a few borrowed from 1/61 Infantry. This was imperative due to
the distance to the objective. A driver and track commander were provided with each vehicle.
Our movements were all made in column formation. This was due in part to the restrictive
nature of the terrain, but primarily to achieve speed of movement through increased control.
To be effective we had to get into the DMZ and on the objective fast, before the NVA could
react to our presence. Actually, on the 13th A Company got to be objective Sierra much faster
than anyone had expected.
The operation itself went according to the plan and at no time was it necessary to deviate
from it. Objective Tango was never secured. If a rifle Company had been available in reserve
we could have fully exploited the contact which we had there.
JOHN M. PICKARTS
INCLOSURE 3 TO COMBAT AFTER ACTION REPORT
CAPTURED OR DESTROYED ENEMY EQUIPMENT OR SUPPLIES
This list combines the equipment captured or destroyed by both Task Force 1-77 and Task
Force 1-11, with that destroyed by airstrikes.
82mm Mortars 6
82mm Rounds 482
RPG-2, B-40 Rounds 2
Claymore Mines, Chicom 4
Soviet Small Arms Ammunition 100
13 1210 YD 195 745 14-500 lb Napalm Cannisters Negative DDA
13 1358 YD 205 730 8-750 lb Bombs Destroyed 3 Bkrs, 1 SA Pos, 1 Mtr Pos
13 1710 YD 139 733 10-500 lb Bombs Destroyed 15 Bkrs
13 1755 YD 140 730 8-500 lb Bombs Destroyed 7 Bkrs, 1 secondary exp-
losion, 1 possibly AW Pos Destroyed
INCLOSURE 1 TO COMBAT AFTER ACTION REPORT
ARTILLERY MISSIONS FOR OPERATION SULLIVAN
TYPE MISSION NUMBER OF MISSIONS NUMBER OF ROUNDS
Pre-planned 16 196
Observed Fire 30 499
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