|Select a War Diary|
THE YEAR 1966
“To close with the enemy by means of fire
and maneuver in order to destroy or capture him,
or to repel his assault by fire, close combat and counterattack.”
5 July (Tuesday): The battalion’s advance party, led by Lieutenant Colonel James R. Lay, the battalion commander, departs Fort Lewis, Washington for Viet-Nam. Lieutenant Colonel Lay’s task is to select the location for the 4th Division’s future base camp. One of the officers accompanying the battalion commander is First Lieutenant Ed Scherer, the S-3 Air officer (Dilkes:3).
21 July (Thursday): The battalion boards the United States Naval Ship (USNS) General Nelson M. Walker for a 17 day trip to Vietnam (Kohler:1, Williams:2).
26 July (Tuesday): During the night the USNS General Walker crosses the International Dateline. In the morning the battalion awakens to find that it is Thursday, the 28th of July (Kohler:1).
2 August (Tuesday): The USNS General Walker docks at Naha, Okinawa (Kohler:1).
6 August (Saturday): The USNS General Walker drops anchor in Qui Nhon Harbor in Vietnam. The battalion debarks under the command of the Battalion XO, Major Barney K. Neal, and is moved by C-130 aircraft and ground transport to the 4th Infantry Division’s new base camp in the vicinity of coordinate AR 803358 on the southeastern edge of Dragon Mountain (later to become know as Camp Enari). Elements of the First Cavalry Division provide security that first night (Kohler:1, Williams:3, 2nd BGD OR:1).
7 August (Sunday): The battalion begins building its base camp and initiates its in-country training. The battalion command and staff consists of Lieutenant Colonel James R. Lay, the battalion commander; Major Barney K. Neal, Jr., the battalion executive officer; First Lieutenant Eugene W. Echols, the S-1; First Lieutenant Michael C. Downs, the S-2; Captain Paul E. Freeman, the S-3; and First Lieutenant Louis A. Sylvester, the S-4. The company commanders are Captain Edward D. Northrop, Headquarters & Headquarters Company; First Lieutenant Brendan T. Quann, Alpha Company; First Lieutenant Melvin E. Case, Bravo Company; and First Lieutenant James Bigelow II, Charlie Company (Williams:B3, 3).
10 August (Wednesday): The 2nd Platoon of Alpha Company conducts its first reconnaissance patrol. The platoon covers over seven miles in its trek around the Dragon Mountain base camp perimeter (Hymoff:32).
13 August (Saturday): Specialist Fourth Class Gerald Mentzer of 1st Platoon, Bravo Company dies in a hand grenade incident. He is the first Red Warrior to die in Vietnam (Dilkes, Kohler:1).
30 August (Wednesday): The battalion radar section detects and reports a company-sized enemy force approximately 65 meters outside the perimeter. Investigation determines that the report is false as a rain squall had blown in over the radar site (Kohler:1).
1 September (Thursday): After hearing a vehicle horn sound continuously, the battalion races for its bunkers, only to find that it wasn’t an alert, but a vehicle in the motor pool with a stuck horn (Kohler:1).
4 September (Sunday): Private First Class Keeler of Alpha Company is killed (Dilkes).
5 September (Monday): Captain Melvin Huffine of Alpha Company is killed (Arnold: KIA records, Dilkes).
15-16 September (Thursday/Friday): The 2nd Brigade and the “Red Warriors” are attached to the 3rd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division for approximately 30 days of “supervised” search-and-destroy operations and training. Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie Companies each conduct a combat assault into the Red Warrior area of operation (AO 36 or 44) near the Chu Pong Mountains in the vicinity of coordinate YA 991008, establishing the battalion’s first fire support base, and initiate Operation Paul Revere III. The Recon Platoon conducts daily patrols out of the fire support base (Dilkes:8, Hymoff:32, Kohler:1, Williams:3, 29th MHD:4, 2nd BGD OR:4,12).
17 September (Saturday): Privates First Class William Andriko and Ruben M. Duran of Bravo Company are wounded when a member of their 1st Platoon accidently discharges his M-79 grenade launcher (Kohler:1). Private First Class John R. Lee is killed, and Privates First Class Robert Gutierrez and Dennis Sullivan of Charlie Company are wounded by an 81mm mortar round that falls on their 2nd Platoon patrol by accident (Arnold KIA records, Zawiski, 2nd BGD OR:A-1).
20 September (Tuesday): Bravo Company crosses the Ia Drang River on a three-strand rope bridge after Sergeant James Hafford swims the river first. Only one helmet is lost in the crossing (Kohler:2, Williams).
21 September (Wednesday): Staff Sergeant Istvan Szabo of the Charlie Company mortar section is wounded, while medics Specialist Fourth Class Vernell Jenkins, who is attached to Alpha Company, and Private First Class Robert Hyde of Headquarters & Headquarters Company are killed when a 105mm short-round falls inside the battalion perimeter. SSG Szabo dies of his wounds several days later. Wounded in this same incident are First Lieutenant Frank D. Willis, Private First Class William Norris, Specialist Fourth Class Robert Chambers, Private First Class James Bowman, Private Charles Anderson, and Staff Sergeant Richard Craver (Dilkes, Kohler:2, Nations, 2nd BGD OR:A-1).
22 September (Thursday): Staff Sergeant Petronell Montera of Alpha Company is wounded in an unspecified incident (2nd BGD OR:A-1).
23 September (Friday): 3rd Platoon of Bravo Company finds an AK-47 rifle (Kohler:2).
25 September (Sunday): While setting up the battalion’s 2nd fire support base, Bravo Company sustains three slightly wounded from an 81mm short-round (Kohler:2)
26 September (Monday): The remainder of the battalion relocates to the new fire support base, and Specialist Fourth Class David T. Armstrong of Alpha Company is wounded in an unspecified incident (Kohler).
26-30 September: Bravo Company remains in the fire support base as perimeter security. During that time they have their first cases of malaria and evacuate 10 men (Kohler:2).
28 September (Wednesday): At 0800 the battalion is brought back under the command and control of 2nd Brigade and assigned its own area of operation within the Paul Revere AO (2nd BGD OR:2 & 13).
4 October (Tuesday): The battalion conducts an air assault into AO 61 and assumes a search-and-destroy mission in Operations Areas 53-54, and 60 and 62. Bravo Company makes a combat assault into an LZ, only to find out that it is the wrong location. A second combat assault corrects the mistake (Kohler:2, 2nd BGD OR:13).
5 October (Wednesday): Bravo Company climbs Hill 711 (YA 884017) in the Chu Pong Mountains (Kohler:2).
10 October (Monday): While re-supplying Bravo Company, a departing Huey blows a poncho liner up into the air. The poncho liner then becomes entangled in the aircraft’s tail rotor, disabling it. When the aircraft goes into its “controlled” crash-landing, it drops onto the mermite containers set up in a serving line and destroys the company’s hot supper meal. The crew, who are pretty scared, have to spend the night until a CH-47 Chinook is brought in the next morning to lift the downed aircraft out (Kohler:2, Moody:1).
11 October (Tuesday): Private First Class Fred C. Willard of Bravo Company is wounded in action (2nd BGD OR:A-2).
12 October (Wednesday): Bravo Company is moved by aircraft to a new landing zone in Operations Area 72 to search for possible infiltration routes from Cambodia. Upon arrival 1st Platoon conducts a reconnaissance by fire (Kohler:2, 2nd BGD OR:13).
14 October (Friday): While on patrol, Sergeant Channell of 2nd Platoon, Bravo Company shoots a deer. The company has fresh venison that night for supper (Kohler:3).
16 October (Sunday): The battalion (-) moves to the vicinity of Ban Black. From there they move overland by motor convoy along Highway 14 and 19 and assume responsibility of Operations Area 21 (2nd BGD OR: 14).
17 October (Monday): 2nd Brigade returns to 4th Division control after being attached to the 3rd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division for the past 33 days (Williams:3) and Private First Class John R. Lee of Charlie Company is killed/dies (Arnold KIA records).
18 October (Tuesday): At 1000 Operation Paul Revere III becomes Paul Revere IV. The battalion begins moving to a new area of operation (AO 53 and 61) and sets up its 3rd fire support base at YA 717535. The Recon Platoon, along with a squad of engineers, makes a combat assault into the new landing zone. The command group and mortar platoon quickly follow. As the line companies land, Alpha and Bravo move out to some neighboring hills to set up their patrol bases, leaving Charlie behind to guard the fire support base (Hill:11, Williams:3, 2nd BGD OR:4).
19 October (Wednesday): Bravo Company conducts a sweep through a Montagnard village with Special Forces advisors (Kohler:2).
22 October (Thursday): The 119th Attack Helicopter Company supports Charlie Company with 12 sorties moving 60 men into a four-ship landing zone. The aircraft report light enemy fire, but no hits or any losses (119th AHC Logs).
23 October (Sunday): The battalion conducts an air assault into a new area of operation (AO 502) north of the Se San River for the purpose of conducting search-and-destroy operations to the northwest. Because the grasses are so tall, a number of men from Bravo Company are hurt in the jump into their landing zone. 1st Platoon is separated from the rest of the company for a short period of time (Kohler:3, 2nd BGD OR:5 & 14).
25 October (Tuesday): Alpha Company (121 strong) makes contact with the enemy, killing two and capturing one, a Montagnard boy (Hill:17, Hymoff:35).
26 October (Wednesday): While Alpha Company sets up a patrol base at coordinate YA 726530, the Recon Platoon, along with a Vietnamese interpreter and the Montagnard prisoner of war, depart on a four day patrol to find a Montagnard village being used by elements of the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) as a base camp. Bravo Company climbs Hill 539 (YA 705543) and undergoes a shortage of water when it is found that the re-supply helicopters cannot land due to the thick foliage. Water cans are dropped, but they all burst on impact. This day also marks the 36th day of field operations for the battalion (Dilkes:10, Hill:17, Kohler:3, Marshall:19).
27 October (Thursday): From 0100 to 0300, Alpha Company is engaged by three companies of the 5th Battalion, 32nd Regiment, 630th NVA Division at coordinate YA 723530. Friendly casualties include WIAs Staff Sergeant William Akerley, Sergeant Carl Harris, and Private First Class Charles Alexander, while the enemy suffers 38 known KIAs and five prisoners of war. Enemy WIAs are unknown (Dilkes:13-19&23, Hymoff:35-37, MacGarrigle:70, Marshall:20-30, Williams:3).
28 October (Friday): Bravo Company captures a wounded NVA who has to be carried to a pickup point (Kohler:3).
29 October (Saturday): Specialist Fourth Class Schmidt of Bravo Company falls and breaks a leg. Because of the thick overhead cover, he has to be lifted out by cable through the trees. Private First Class Walter J. Goleg is injured when the down draft from the CH-47 prop blast blows down a tree that strikes him in the head (Kohler:3, 2nd BGD OR:A-2).
31 October (Monday): As of this date, the battalion’s assigned strength is two warrant officers, 34 officers, and 767 enlisted men, of which only 729 are present for duty. (2nd BGD OR:6).
3 November (Thursday): The 119th Attack Helicopter Company moves Alpha Company (120 men) out of Jackson Hole to set up a fire support base. They then move Bravo company into the Oasis (119th ATC Logs).
5 November (Saturday): Phase II of Paul Revere IV is initiated. That night the battalion fire support base receives several rounds of 82mm mortar fire but does not sustain any casualties as all the rounds land on a burning trash pit outside the perimeter. This is the battalion’s first enemy mortar attack (Hill, MacGarrigle:70).
6 November (Sunday): As the enemy mortar muzzle flashes had been observed from the fire support base the night before, the Recon Platoon is sent out to investigate. Upon arriving at the firing point area, it is found to be abandoned. While searching the area, Specialist Fourth Class Rene Quiroz is wounded by a hand grenade booby trap (Hill, Quiroz).
7 November (Monday): The 2nd Platoon of Bravo Company trips a booby trap. Sergeant Cox and Private First Class Herrera are wounded (Kohler:3).
9 November (Wednesday): At 0530 Bravo Company receives about 20 rounds of 82mm mortar fire. Private First Class Rick Brady is wounded (Kohler:3).
11 November (Friday): The battalion receives a change of mission to assist a civilian irregular defense group (CIDG) strike force, a part of Task Force Prong, trapped near a dry salt flat known as Poli Wali west of Plei Djereng at coordinate YA 572555. The call finds Bravo Company in the fire support base at coordinate YA 717535 with the battalion support elements (the recon and mortar platoons, 4th Engineers, and Bravo Battery, 4/42) northwest of Plei Djereng, Charlie Company 3000 meters northeast of the fire support base, and Alpha Company southwest of the fire support base (Dilkes: 22, Marshall: 137). Alpha, Charlie, and the fire support base elements conduct a combat assault into the vicinity of coordinate YA 585570 and establish the Red Warrior Landing Zone and fire support base (the 4th fire support base), approximately 2200-2500 meters east of the Cambodian border. Simultaneously Bravo Company airlifts into a landing zone in the vicinity of coordinate YA 586587, within 1000 meters of the Cambodian border. The battalion’s mission is to provide fire support and relief for the trapped CIDG strike force. Fire support is to be provided by Bravo Battery, 4th Battalion, 42nd Artillery (105 towed). Enemy resistance is encountered during the ensuing insertions and results in the loss of three helicopters within 800 meters of the landing zone. By 1200 Charlie Company and Bravo Battery are well into their airlift into the new landing zone, leaving Alpha Company back in the old fire support base to act as a reserve, and the Recon Platoon out on patrol. Between 1400 and 1430 the CIDG breaks contact with the enemy, and Bravo Company links up with them. Bravo Company then sets up an ambush at coordinate YA 572555 south of Poli Wali, engages four NVA soldiers, and kills one. Alpha Company begins to arrive at the new battalion landing zone at about 1745, completing the transition (Dilkes:23-26, Hymoff:54, Kohler:3, MacGarrigle:73, Marshall:137-146, Williams:4).
12 November (Saturday): Alpha Company departs the fire support base to locate the three downed helicopters and to attempt to rescue the crews. Charlie Company is left behind to man the perimeter, while both mortar sections (81mm and 4.2 inch) assist the 4/42 in providing fire support. Charlie Company is tasked to conduct a patrol around the fire support base perimeter. The patrol departs at 0730 and closes back into the fire support base by 1630. Alpha Company encounters sporadic enemy resistance, locates two of the aircraft, rescues four crewmen, and recovers five friendly KIAs. At 1810, Alpha Company, while completing several secondary missions en route back to the fire support base, comes under mortar attack. At 1900, shortly after Alpha Company has closed into the fire support base, the fire support base comes under a major ground attack. The attack continues until 2130, and by morning an estimated 500 mortar rounds have fallen on the battalion. Air cover and artillery fire throughout the night keep the enemy forces at bay. Sweeps conducted at first light around the perimeter reveal 91 enemy KIAs and two prisoners of war. Interrogation of the prisoners indicates they are from the 88th NVA Regiment. Friendly casualties included 41 battalion WIAs and five KIAs from Charlie Company: Corporal Cecil Walker, Specialist Fourth Class Nicholas Fulmer, Private First Class Charles Anderson, Private Joe Blackwell, and Private First Class Ronald Bocook (Dilkes:26-40, Hymoff:54-56, MacGarrigle:74, Marshall:147, Williams:4-5).
13 November (Sunday): Aerial observation of the surrounding terrain reveals approximately 400 enemy KIAs among the trees and foliage. The battalion is ordered to displace from Red Warrior Landing Zone to a new location 2000 meters southeast of the battle area in the vicinity of coordinate YA 606561 and establish its 5th fire support base. Private First Class Simons of Bravo Company kills one NVA during the morning sweeps (Dilkes: 42, Kohler:3, MacGarrigle:74, Williams:5).
14 November (Monday): In the evening an NVA stumbles into a Bravo Company observation post and is killed (Kohler:4).
7 November (Thursday): Bravo Company locates the third downed helicopter and recovers the remains of the three-member crew. The condition of the bodies is so bad that those who pick them up must wear protective masks (Kohler:4). mber crew.
21 November (Monday): During a re-supply mission to Bravo Company, the aircraft drops the beer and Coke, bursting at least half of the company’s allocation. Emotions run high over this (Kohler:4).
22 November (Tuesday): The Personnel Roster (DA Form 305-3) prepared by the AG Data Processing Division, USARPAC lists by name 171 enlisted personnel assigned to Charlie Company.
23 November (Wednesday): The Recon Platoon is attached to Alpha Company as a reserve force (Hill).
24 November (Thursday): The day begins with Charlie Company making a combat assault. Supported by the 119th Attack Helicopter Company, one aircraft, callsign “Gator 180,” takes eight rounds of automatic weapons fire while coming out of the landing zone. Later in the day Alpha Company makes contact with an NVA trail watcher. Private Dennis Weinberg is on point when he and a North Vietnamese Army soldier encounter each other. After exchanging gunfire, both individuals are found dead. Bravo Company is in the battalion’s fire support base when they hear of Weinberg’s death (Hill, Kohler:4, 119th ATC Logs).
25 November (Friday): Alpha and Charlie Companies, along with the Recon Platoon, enjoy a hot Thanksgiving dinner flown out by battalion. A CIDG platoon working with the battalion shares the meal (Hill).
28 November (Monday): While sweeping the battalion perimeter, Sergeant James Hafford of 1st Platoon, Bravo Company encounters and kills an NVA. At the same time the fire support base begins receiving mortar attack (Kohler:4).
1 December (Thursday): Charlie Company establishes and mans the perimeter of the 6th and final fire support base of the year in the vicinity of coordinate YA 584549, while Alpha Company is on Hill 346 (coordinate YA 584543) overlooking the fire support base. Bravo Company is in a defensive position in the vicinity of coordinate YA 585555, and is approximately 1500 meters north of the fire support base (Dilkes: 53, Marshall:176).
2 December (Friday): Alpha (107 men) and Bravo Companies depart their night positions at about the same time (0730) with a mission to maneuver to the southwest and converge on another piece of high terrain about 1700 meters away. At approximately 0900 Alpha Company makes chance contact with a reinforced North Vietnamese platoon at coordinate YA 580540. Within an hour Bravo Company links up with Alpha, and by 1230 both units are conducting a sweep over the enemy position, resulting in 16 enemy KIAs and two prisoners of war. Friendly casualties are four killed in action (Private First Class Thomas Jones and First Lieutenant Mark Enari of Alpha Company, Private First Class Mahmet Gill-Boy of Bravo Company, and Specialist Fourth Class Larry Campos of the 4th Engineers) and 14 wounded (Staff Sergeant Raymond Marler, Specialist Fourth Class Dennis Mumma, Specialist Fourth Class Larry Redcey, Specialist Fourth Class Sammie Peak, Sergeant George Edmonds, Specialist Fourth Class Stanley Wysocki, Specialist Fourth Class Martin Barbusa, Private First Class Charles Alexander, Specialist Fourth Class Shelby Stewart, Sergeant Reyes Cruz, and Specialist Fourth Class James Brown of Alpha Company; and Private First Class John Barelli, Private First Class Horace Lucas, and Staff Sergeant Marler of Bravo Company) (Dilkes:43-53, Kohler:4, Marshall:177-200, Williams:5).
3 December (Saturday): During an early morning “mad-minute,” an M-79 HE round fired by a 2nd Platoon soldier in Bravo Company strikes a nearby tree and wounds four men. Later in the day a UH-1B strikes a tree with its rotor blades and is disabled (Kohler:4).
4 December (Sunday): The Weapons Platoon of Bravo Company captures a wounded NVA. Upon return to the company CP, the POW is tasked to fill out his own POW card. A short time later a Huey delivering hot chow crashes after getting a sandbag caught in its tail rotor. The hot meal is lost in the crash (Kohler:4, Williams).
10 December (Saturday): Bravo Company reports one individual lost. He is found alive after an hour-and-a-half search (Kohler:4).
13 December (Tuesday): Staff Sergeant Priddy and Specialist Fourth Class Green of Alpha Company are killed in a friendly fire incident, while Private First Class Peter Serve is wounded (Arnold KIA records, Dilkes).
14 December (Wednesday): Bravo Company returns to the battalion’s fire support base after walking over 5000 meters, much of it downhill, from Hill 534 (Kohler:5).
18 December (Sunday): A plane flies over the battalion’s fire support base broadcasting Christmas carols (Kohler:5).
20 December (Tuesday): The battalion’s participation in Operation Paul Revere IV ends. The battalion celebrates its first year of success by returning to its base camp at Dragon Mountain, where it remains until the New Year. During the break, the troops get to see a Bob Hope Christmas show, and participate in a memorial service for the 21 Red Warriors who gave their lives for their country. Staff Sergeant Waddell and Private Harris of Bravo Company are killed when the helicopter they are riding in crashes (Dilkes: 53-56, Kohler:5, Hill, Williams: p.5).
28 December (Wednesday): Battalion conducts a memorial service at the base camp for those who were killed in 1966 (Kohler:5).
29 December (Thursday): Bravo Company is airlifted out to the brigade forward resupply base, 3-Tango (Kohler: 5).
This diary is still being compiled.
Please Contact Del Willenbecher on how to send copies of any reports, documents, orders, manuscripts, letters, recollections, or pictures.