combat operations after-action report information
4/9 INF 25 INF was a US Army unit
for 4/9 INF 25 INF
B/25 AVN 25 INF
From date 680606 to 680607
116 AHC was a US Army unit
B/25 AVN 25 INF was a US Army unit
Primary service involved, US Army
Description: DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY 18TH MILITARY HISTORY DETACHMENT HEADQUARTERS, 25TH INFANTRY DIVISION APO San Francisco 96225
AVDCDH 25 June 1968
SUBJECT: Small Unit After Action Interview Report
1. NAME AND TYPE ORGANIZATION: A and B Companies, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division.
2. INCLUSIVE DATES OF OPERATION: 6-7 June 1968.
3. LOCATION: Vicinity of XT851047, map reference, Vietnam, 1: 50,000, Sheet 6330 IV, Series L8020.
4. CONTROL AND COMMAND HEADQUARTERS: 2nd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division.
5. PERSONS BEING INTERVIEWED:
a. 1LT JAMES E. STERRETT, O*******, Platoon Leader, 3rd Platoon, B Company, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry.
b. 2LT STANTON E. THOMAS, O*******, Forward Observer, A Company, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry.
c. 2LT DONALD G. WALKER, O*******, Platoon Leader, 2nd Platoon B Company, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry.
d. 2LT PAUL J. WILSON, O*******, Forward Observer, attached to B Company, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry from A Battery, 7th Battalion, 11th Artillery.
e. SGT DENNIS D. ALLWIN, US********, Squad Leader, 1st Platoon, A Company, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry.
f. SGT JESSE J. GENTRY, US********, Squad Leader, 1st Platoon, A Company, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry.
g. SGT DAVID P. MILLER, US********, Squad Leader, 2nd Platoon, A Company, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry.
h. SGT EMIL A. MAZUR, US********, Squad Leader, 2nd Platoon, A Company, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry.
6. INTERVIEWER: SGT DENNIS SMITH, US********, 18th Military History Detachment, 25th Infantry Division.
7. TASK ORGANIZATION: a. A Company, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry. b. B Company, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry.
8. SUPPORTING FORCES: a. A Company, 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry. b. 1st Battalion, 8th Artillery. c. 3rd Battalion, 13th Artillery. d. 116th Assault Helicopter Company. e. 25th Aviation Battalion. f. 604th Tactical Fighter Squadron. g. 352nd Tactical Fighter Squadron. h. 531st Tactical Fighter Squadron. i. 614th Tactical Fighter Squadron. j. 615th Tactical Fighter Squadron. k. 31st Tactical Fighter Wing. 1. 35th Tactical Fighter.
9. INTELLIGENCE: The area in the vicinity of XT8504 has been the scene of numerous contacts between allied and VC/NVA forces since 1 January 1968. Situated on the west bank of the SAIGON River approximately eight kilometers north of the SAIGON city limits, the location lies within a main avenue of approach for enemy forces into the capitol city area. The heavy woods and thick underbrush in the vicinity of XT8504 offer excellent cover and concealment. Accordingly, the area is used extensively by the enemy as an assembly area for forces moving into the SAIGON area and as a dispersal area for units that had exfiltrated from the capital city to receive reinforcements and resupply. The terrain is generally flat, lightly populated and is dominated by heavy vegetation. Dikes and east/west canals and streams flowing from the SAIGON River on the east compartment the region. The lower levels of the region are subject to frequent, shallow flooding from tides on the SAIGON River. A north/south road (route 248) paralleling the river and the river itself however provide good trafficability through the region. The road forms a Y at XT851047 with one branch continuing north/south and the other swinging to the east to cross the river into the village of LAI THIEU.
Agent reports, interrogation of prisoners of war and other intelligence sources exploited prior to 6 June indicated that elements of the 101st NVA regiment were dispersed in this general area. This regiment had been active in the second phase offensive against SAIGON and ostensibly was receiving replacements and resupply as it hid in the heavy vegetation about XT8504. Interrogation of an NVA officer captured in the engagement covered by this report revealed that the U.S. forces had, in fact, moved directly into a battalion base camp of the 101st NVA Regiment.
10. BACKGROUND INFORMATION: The 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry had been maneuvering in an area of operations north of SAIGON and west of the SAIGON RIVER since 25 May. The general mission of the battalion was to screen the SAIGON-TAN SON NHUT complex on the north blocking enemy forces attempting to infiltrate into the area and interdicting enemy units attempting to exfiltrate from the city. The battalion was executing this mission with daylight helicopter borne assaults and reconnaissance in force patrolling combined with extensive night ambushing along likely avenues of approach. Between 25 May and 6 June the battalion had engaged the enemy in several significant contacts in its assigned area of operations. Intelligence reports and previous contacts, however, clearly indicated that enemy units continued to be dispersed in the heavy woods and hedgerows in the vicinity of XT8504.
11. MISSION: The mission of A and B Companies, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry for 6 June 1968 was to conduct a combined operation in the vicinity of XT8504 to locate and destroy enemy forces believed to be dispersed in the area.
12. CONCEPT OF OPERATION AND EXECUTION: On the night of 5 June 1968, A Company occupied a night position at XT782058 and B Company was located at XT805050. The plan for the combined operation to sweep the area in the vicinity of XT8504 specified that A Company would be picked up at its night position bv helicopters of the 116th Assault Helicopter Company and moved to XT851047. Upon landing, A Company would deploy on line for approximately 500 meters along route 248 to establish a fixed blocking position. The helicopters would then pick up B Company at its night position and move the unit to a landing zone approximately 1500 meters to the west of the A Company block. After landing, B Company would attack to the east moving on line until it linked up with the A Company blocking position. The plan also provided that the area to be swept would he "prepped" by artillery fire throughout the night and early morning of 5-6 June. (1LT STERRETT, 2LT THOMAS, 2LT WALKER and 2LT WILSON)
A Company was picked up at its night location and air lifted to XT851047 according to plan. At approximately 0900 the helicopter formation descended into the landing zone which was the north/south road. As the helicopters touched down, the formation came under heavy automatic weapons fire from the wooded area to the west and south of the landing zone. In departing the aircraft several A Company personnel became casualties. These personnel were immediately placed back on the helicopters for evacuation. As the aircraft lifted off under fire two collided and were forced back into the landing zone. After a few moments both helicopters were able to lift out of the landing zone under their own power. Many of the assault helicopters remained over the landing zone for approximately 30 minutes supporting the troops on the ground with automatic weapons fire. (2LT THOMAS, SGT ALLWIN, SGT GENTRY, SGT MILLER and SGT MAZUR)
Initially taking up positions on line on the east side of the road, A Company returned fire on the trees and underbrush to its west and south.
When the enemy fire subsided at approximately 0930, the company commander, CPT ELCIE ADAMS, O******, moved his unit into a defensive perimeter [sic] around a building located east of the road approximately 150 meters south of the Y in the highway. This action was coordinated with the battalion commander, LTC RICHARD R. SIMPSON, O*****, who was now orbiting the area in a command and control helicopter. When his A Company landed in a "hot LZ", LTC SIMPSON elected to change the concept of his operation in the area. (2LT THOMAS)
As CPT ADAMS maneuvered two platoons to the west and south of his defensive perimeter and one to the east to locate the enemy firing positions and develop the situation, LTC SIMPSON directed the helicopters to pick up B Company and move the unit to a landing zone approximately 200 meters north and east of the A Company perimeter. (2LT THOMAS)
As the 2nd Platoon maneuvered to the southwest of the Company defensive position, it came under intense fire from concealed bunkers adjacent to an east/west canal and approximately 150 meters west of the road. The platoon leader, 1LT RICHARD J. RUDOLPH, *******, was killed by the initial burst of fire and several of his men fell within a few feet of the bunker position. Attempts by the platoon to recover these personnel was met by heavy enemy fire and resulted in additional casualties. The platoon then withdrew to the Company defensive position leaving many of its casualties in their exposed positions and adjacent to the enemy firing bunkers. (SGT MILLER and SGT MAZUR)
At approximately 1000 hours a medical evacuation helicopter landed on the road near the A Company defensive position. Several wounded personnel had been placed on the aircraft, and it was preparing to lift off when an RPG round struck the helicopter's tail boom. The force of the rocket spun the helicopter around and sheared off the boom. The wounded and crew were immediately removed from the aircraft and moved into the defensive position. The helicopter then burst into flames and exploded. (2LT THOMAS, SGT ALLWIN and SGT GENTRY)
The 1st Platoon which had maneuvered to the east of the defensive position had returned and reported that although it had discovered numerous bunker positions no enemy were to be found between the company and the SAIGON RIVER. CPT ADAMS then ordered the 1st Platoon to move into the area where the 2nd Platoon had come under fire and to recover the casualties that had been left behind. The platoon moved along the canal to where they were able to see the casualties. Each attempt to extract these personnel, however, was met with heavy fire from surrounding bunker positions. Several 1st Platoon personnel were wounded in the effort to reach the 2nd Platoon personnel. The 1st Platoon then withdrew back to the Company defensive position. (SGT ALLWIN and SGT GENTRY)
At approximately 1130 hours B Company arrived at its landing zone at XT853049. The landing was unopposed, and B Company moved west approximately 200 meters to cross route 248. The Company moved another 300 meters west and came into contact. It then pulled back to the road to allow artillery fires and air strikes to be placed on the enemy. B Company then established positions from which it could deliver fire to its west and south across A Company's front. B Company also established a secure landing zone to its rear and called in medical evacuation helicopters to take out wounded it had received as well as those of A Company who had been moved from the A Company position. The evacuation was accomplished at approximately 1130 hours. (1LT STERRETT, 2LT WALKER and 2LT WILSON)
Throughout the afternoon, extensive supporting fires from artillery, helicopter gun ships and Air Force air strikes were placed into the woods to the west and south of the A and B Company positions. These fires, however, were adjusted so as not to endanger the A Company casualties who were in an exposed position along the canal. The fire adjustment was accomplished by LTC SIMPSON and the battalion artillery liaison officer in the command and control helicopter above the battlefield and by the 2nd Brigade Air Force liaison officer flying above the scene. (1LT STERRETT and 2LT THOMAS)
At 1400 hours A and B Companies were reinforced by A Company, 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry. This company was air lifted into position by the helicopters of the 116th Assault Helicopter Company that had accomplished the two earlier lifts. The three companies then proceeded to dig in and establish a night defensive position at XT849047. (1LT STERRETT and others)
Under cover of darkness, CPT ADAMS attempted to lead a patrol into the location of his 2nd Platoon's contact earlier in the day to extract the casualties remaining in the area. This patrol come [sic] under heavy fire as it neared the location of the casualties. CPT ADAMS and several other members of the patrol were wounded in the effort, and the patrol was forced to withdraw. (2LT THOMAS, SGT MILLER and SGT MAZUR)
Throughout the night and early morning hours, artillery fires continued to be placed into the area occupied by the enemy. At approximately 0100 hours two NVA soldiers [sic] walked into the three-company perimeter moving in from the east. Troops from B Company, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry tackled and captured one of the pair. The second individual dropped his weapon and ran off into the underbrush to the east. Interrogation of the prisoner revealed that he was an executive officer of a company assigned to the 101st NVA Regiment and that his battalion was bivouacked [sic] throughout the area. (1LT STERRETT, 2LT WALKER and 2LT WILSON)
At first light on 7 June, A and B Companies, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry swept forward into the enemy positions. A Company, 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry remained in the night defensive position as a ready reaction force to any contact that might develop. (1LT STERRETT and 2LT THOMAS)
A Company moved directly south 600 to 700 meters while B Company moved to the west 200 meters and then turned south on A Company's right flank to move for 600 to 700 meters. In its maneuvering; neither company experienced my opposition. Numerous enemy casualties, bunker positions and large amounts of equipment were found abandoned indicating that the enemy had hastily [sic] pulled out of the area under the cover of darkness. A Company was able to recover its casualties of the day before without difficulty. The remainder of the day was occupied policing the battlefield, collecting captured enemy gear and blowing up the many bunker positions. (1LT STERRETT, 2LT THOMAS, 2LT WALKER and 2LT WILSON)
13. RESULTS: The following are the statistical results of the action of A and B Companies, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry on 6 and 7 June 1968:
We can determine from the context that these were group interviews and SGT Smith assembled his interviewees into two groups. This fact, however, should have been announced on the tape, as well as the names of everyone who was present, not just the names of the interviewees. A more appropriate first question would have required the interviewee to give his full name [with phonetic spelling] and rank, serial number, position [in this case forward observer], and unit. This is important because the interviewer could make a mistake while identifying his interviewees and the soldier may not correct the error. A series of easy, straightforward questions at the start of an interview will also help to calm the interviewee and give him confidence.
3. LT THOMAS: On 6 June approximately 0900 hours in the morning, Manchu Alpha [Company A, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry] was PZed [PZ refers to Pickup Zone. The expression "PZed" is used to indicated the removal of troops from their PZ.] From a base camp location into Go Vap Province [actually Go Vap District of Gia Dinh Province]. They were to set up a blocking force approximately 500 meters long on a north and south azimuth. When we LZed [a common Vietnam usage to indicate an airmobile insertion into an "LZ" or Landing Zone; in this case on helicopters of the 116th Aviation Company] into our position, we found out it was hot, and took two WIAs [Wounded In Action]. We also had two [UH-1D "Huey"] choppers shot down in the area. We set up a small perimeter within ourselves, and received fire from at least three different sides. We moved approximately 100 meters south and set up a new position, and from here Captain [Elcie] Adams, the CO [Commanding Officer] of Manchu Alpha, sent out a cloverleaf [a patrol formation shaped like a clover and used to locate and thwart enemy ambushes] to the east and one to the west.
4. The cloverleaf to the east went out and found negative findings of Victor Charlies [Viet Cong, although the term often was loosely applied as well to North Vietnamese Army (NVA) regulars]; however, they found a lot of bunkers and evidence there had been a large force in the area. The cloverleaf that moved out to the west moved approximately 150 meters along the area of a canal and ran into heavy automatic weapons fire and possible grenades. Near the cloverleaf the 2d Platoon received several casualties, and had to return, leaving some wounded personnel forward. This changed the whole outlook on our operation. Now the primary concern was to move forward and knock out the positions that we received fire from and recover our wounded personnel.
5. From the best of our knowledge, we were receiving fire possibly from three different directions. And also in this area we found large bunkers. One particular bunker was an area in which they were receiving fire. Captain Adams later sent the 1st Platoon up to recover personnel from the 2d Platoon who had been wounded. And before getting completely to wounded personnel of the 2d Platoon, the 1st Platoon received several casualties. Later on it was just a match of tactics as far as moving into the area and throwing grenades and using smoke, CS [a disabling agent stronger than CN "tear gas"] gas which was dropped from choppers, several air strikes in close support, with gunships and artillery. We moved several air strikes into the area before returning. A lot of the area was covered on the south and west with artillery. Gunships supported us close on the east when we did move into the area. We found that the CS that we dropped was not too effective in some areas, and later on we found out that most of the Victor Charlies were well equipped with a mask, which protected them quite well against any CS gas.
6. After recovering the personnel from the 1st Platoon and the WIAs received an initial contact that we had at our secured area, we called in for a dustoff [helicopter medical evacuation accomplished by either an aerial ambulance or any available utility helicopter]. A dustoff came in and while I was on the ground; we had all wounded personnel aboard and an RPG [rocket propelled grenade] struck the left rear side of the dustoff knocking the tail and rotor off and completely destroying the ship. Then we had a problem with moving out of the area. The dustoff ship, before it exploded-and we also had three additional personnel from DustOff 151 [the radio call sign of the specific shot down helicopter, probably from the 159th Medical Detachment (Helicopter Ambulance)] crew in our area. We sent most of our wounded personnel forward north.
7. By this time Manchu Bravo [Company B, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry] had airlifted in to our east and maneuvered around to our north and set up a perimeter. And this is where we moved our wounded personnel up. We made a link between Manchu Bravo and Manchu Alpha, and sent wounded personnel to the Manchu Bravo area where they had a secured LZ to move in and bring a dustoff ship in.
8. At different times throughout the afternoon, we received some RPG fire from approximately 200 meters south of our location and also some sporadic rounds from an AK-47 [Soviet Kalashnikov 7.62 millimeter assault rifle; it could be identified easily in the field because of its distinctive sound] off to the west of our position. At times the AK-47 was firing at our light fire team [consisting of one OH-6 Cayuse light observation helicopter (LOH) and one helicopter gunship] which was above us at all times. By this time it was quite late in the afternoon, and we had several unsuccessful attempts at moving forward along the canal to recover the wounded personnel from our initial contact. We would move up a canal in such a manner so we could get down in it and not receive any sniper fire. However, as soon as we would get near a wounded personnel, we would receive fire from at least two different positions.
9. About 9:30 or 10 o'clock at night, Captain Adams finally recovered one person from an initial contact that morning-it was a KIA [Killed In Action]-and in doing this he received several injuries both to the legs and to one hand.2 We moved him back and moved him into the dustoff area of Manchu Bravo, and closed the perimeter in from Manchu Bravo, which was to the north of us, and Mustang Alpha [Company A, 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry] which was to the northeast of us. And Manchu Alpha closed in and completed a perimeter between Manchu Bravo and Mustang Alpha. Here we waited until the next day and moved into a sweep. From this position Manchu Alpha went directly south for about 600 to 700 meters. Manchu Bravo went west 200 to 300 meters and then south. We found a lot of Victor Charlie equipment, quite a bit of government issue equipment that had not only been lost during the previous day but the VC had picked up in prior engagements with the U.S. troops. We found several Mike 16 [U.S. 5.56-millimeter M-16] rifles, several CBR [Chemical Biological/Radiological or "gas"] masks and some other equipment.
2. This passage reveals why SGT Smith began the interview with the forward observer rather than the company commander. It is quite probable that Captain Adams was sent to the 12th Evacuation Hospital, which was located at the 25th Infantry Division's base camp at Cu Chi. The 18th MHD was also located at Cu Chi and because of the critical position that he occupied an effort could have been made to conduct a follow up interview with Adams.
10. As Alpha Company moved south into the area they had made contact the previous day, we set up and maneuvered into an area to recover the rest of our personnel and equipment from our initial contact. We destroyed one bunker with a LAW [M-72 Light Antitank Weapon] and moved in and found that in this bunker was a Victor Charlie that we received most of our fire from the previous day. We knocked him out and found negative contact other than that, and moved in and picked up our equipment and personnel. From there we moved farther south and found several large bunkers and what looked like a base camp, or at least a company-sized unit. We checked most of the area out to the south and on both flanks. The demolition personnel that were attached we had blow the bunkers. And the equipment, which was found, was sent back up through channels. Later on that afternoon we were LZed out of there into a base camp.
11. SGT SMITH: Lieutenant Thomas, could you give me the grid coordinates of your initial insertion point?
12. LT THOMAS: The area, which we moved into the morning of the 6th, was grid [XT] 851047.
13. SGT SMITH: Lieutenant Thomas, did you have any knowledge of background information or intelligence prior to the actual mission?
14. LT THOMAS: Okay, the mission of Manchu Alpha that day was to set up a blocking force from our LZ approximately 300 meters south and 200 meters north. This blocking force was to be moved in early that morning and established while Manchu Bravo was going to move in to our west and south and move on a sweep towards us to move any suspected Victor Charlies towards us, and we could clear the area by this.
15. After we moved in and our LZ was hot, we established our perimeter close. And later on that morning, approximately 10:30, Manchu Bravo moved in to our east and swept to the west to give us some support both with firepower, if needed, and to secure an LZ in which to bring a dustoff ship in and move our wounded personnel out.
16. SGT SMITH: Lieutenant Thomas, did you have any opportunity whatsoever to establish any security or defensive position before you were initially hit?
17. LT THOMAS: No, we didn't. As soon as we moved into this area, we received enemy fire. Mostly from the west side of our LZ we received some AK-47 fire. After we got set up into the area and knew the LZ was hot, we received one hand grenade and some AK-47 rounds from our east and also seen a few personnel moving in this area. And as the day went through, we also received some RPG fire from our south. Later on the next day when we checked it out, we found some equipment and heavy bunkers that looked [like] a launch site for their RPGs.
18. SGT SMITH: Sir, could you tell me what weapon and equipment load each man carried was? Was it the normal load, and were you re-supplied at all during the contact?
3. These are important questions to ask during any after-action interview. Perhaps SGT Smith should have rephrased his questions concerning a normal load, because this type of question frequently leads to a yes or no response. Ask the men what they were carrying and have them explain what is part of a normal load or basic load. Loads varied from unit to unit and these terms will eventually lose their significance to future researchers. Notice that after LT Thomas responds we still do not have a complete picture of what the men were carrying.
19. LT THOMAS: Our basic load for ammunition and weapons was pretty much standard other than, because of our mission being a blocking force, we carried more ammunition for the M-60 machine gun, more Claymores [command detonated antipersonnel mines], quite a few more grenades per man and some more smoke [grenades]. We also took some equipment in which to dig in after we moved into our blocking force. We were going to dig foxholes and set up a blocking force and get down so we would not receive any friendly fire if Manchu Bravo happened to make contact during their sweep towards us.
20. SGT SMITH: Okay, sir. Let's turn our attention now to the communications. How did the communications function, and were there any problems?
21. LT THOMAS: No. We didn't have any real big problem with our communications. Most of our platoon and company communications was by voice command. We were in such a small perimeter that the platoons were the size that the platoon leader or platoon sergeant easily controlled them just by verbal command. And also when they moved forward at any one time, the group was small and there was no problem here with just verbal communications. Communications between the Manchu element and us was real fine at all times. We had no difficulty here, nor did we have any difficulty with indirect support, either artillery or gunships or air strikes or anything. We had good communication with these at all times and we had no problem.
22. Once late on in the afternoon of the 6th, we were re-supplied with grenades, fragmentation grenades, CS grenades, smoke grenades, M-60 ammunition and M-79 [40-millimeter grenade launcher] ammunition and water.
23. SGT SMITH: Lieutenant Thomas, were there any weapon losses or equipment losses?
24. LT THOMAS: No. We had no weapon losses or equipment losses to the enemy. However, when we moved into the area, we found that Charlie was using some M-16 rifles and some gas masks that were government issue that he [had] picked up some time prior and was using them against us. When we moved through the area we found some AK-47s, an AK-50 and some other equipment.
25. SGT SMITH: Lieutenant Thomas, did the enemy use any unorthodox tactics?
26. LT THOMAS: Actually I can't say, as anything was unorthodox. Really Charlie never sets a pattern or standard he constantly follows. One of the biggest problems that we ran into here, and it is often ran into by all units, is the problem when you get wounded personnel in front of you, it's the problem of recovering them and moving them back to a secured area. And here Charlie will usually wait on the patrol that is moving in the area to check it out. He will wait for these personnel to move within a matter of just a few feet before he opens fire. And this makes is very difficult after someone is hit three or four feet from a bunker to move up and retrieve these personnel.
27. Also, on our first dustoff ship, when it was hit, this was a real problem to secure the area and move the dustoff ship in as fast as possible. We had all wounded personnel ready to board. As soon as it was on the ground, why, we moved all the personnel on board, and at this time we received the RPG, which knocked out the ship.
28. SGT SMITH: Lieutenant Thomas, was there any difficulties you encountered in calling in artillery and directing the artillery?
29. LT THOMAS: No. I can't say as I had any difficulties considering everything. We couldn't see where the rounds were hitting because the vegetation was so high. And not only that, but the artillery moving in to where we could use it to retrieve our wounded personnel, we moved it in too close. And this was one big problem. We couldn't use our indirect fire support to knock out the area in which we had wounded people because it was just too close to friendly troops. Also, we received a lot of support from a[n artillery] liaison officer which was in the air with Manchu 6 [Commander, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry] that directed a lot of artillery and gunship support to our south and to the west at a greater distance to keep Charlie from either moving in the area or moving out and giving us a lot of flank protection, a little more distance.
30. SGT SMITH: The next interview is with Sergeant Dennis D. Allwin. The last name spelled phonetically: Alpha, Lima, Lima, Whiskey, India, November; serial number US********. Sergeant [Allwin] was a squad leader in the 1st Platoon [of Company A, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry].
31. Sergeant Allwin, could you give me your-describe your experiences and personal actions during the attack on 6 June?
32. SGT ALLWIN: As we moved into the area, we started receiving sniper fire and heavy small arms fire approximately 20 feet above the ground, and as our choppers landed, the pilots and the people got excited and, uh ... 4 The pilots tried to get out of the area as fast as possible. Two choppers collided and so we had two of them down on the ground. We got off, set up a perimeter around a hootch [hut or small building] and to secure an area for the downed helicopters (inaudible).5 (Inaudible) fire from at least two positions that we know of, and there could have been more. As we heard the small arms fire, we immediately lost contact-correction-radio contact with 26 as his RTO [radio telephone operator; normally in this context carrying an AN/PRC-25 radio set] was hit.
4. On the actual interview tape, SGT Allwin is obviously very nervous and taking a break to compose himself. Although we don't know the cause of Allwin's concern, he is probably either nervous about the interview or the remembrance of landing under fire upsets him. It is often necessary for an interviewer to comment on the psychological status of his interviewees in the interview report.
5. The recorder experiences a power surge which renders this section inaudible. The interviewer should periodically check the recorder to see that it is functioning properly. If a power surge or another problem is discovered, go back and ask the interviewee to repeat his response.
33. SGT SMITH: Now, Sergeant Allwin, could you identify who 26 is?
34. SGT ALLWIN: Two-six was Lieutenant [Richard] Rudolph, platoon leader for 2d Platoon, Alpha Company [2d Platoon, Company A, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry].
35. Captain Adams immediately gave a command for 1st Platoon to move in and try and get 26's wounded personnel out of the area. Lieutenant [?] Woods, 1st Platoon Leader, immediately got my squad and we moved approximately 100 meters down the road where gunships brought in smoke as we crossed the road. We got to the other side and immediately started receiving small arms fire. There we met part of the 26 elements. They had two wounded people back approximately 20 meters. And here we helped move those two wounded people to a dust off.
36. As the dustoff came in and sat down, we loaded the wounded people. And an RPG round hit the dustoff. The helicopter spun around and shrap metal [shrapnel] wounded part of our personnel. These personnel were immediately gotten back to our perimeter and later on taken back to Bravo Company where they were dusted off.
37. We tried going into the area where the 26's wounded personnel were located approximately three more times and from three various directions, and each time we were met with heavy small arms fire and could not recover these personnel. Later on that night, Captain Adams with two other personnel went into the area and retrieved one KIA, taking heavy wounds himself, and we had to pull him back. And they were also dusted off that night in Bravo Company's area. We then moved back and linked up with Bravo Company and Mustang Alpha in a perimeter, which we [stayed] set up in all night.
38. The next morning we moved back in and Lieutenant Robinson moved up on the bunker and fired LAWs into it. I believe there was three LAWs fired on the bunker. We received no fire during the morning's activities. We then moved up on the bunker, got our personnel out; there were two KIAs in. We dusted them off and swept through the rest of the area finding various VC equipment including some M-16 rifles which they were using against us. They must have received these during prior action. We finished our sweep, moved back to our LZ, which turned into our PZ and were picked up and eagle flighted [a Vietnam usage that indicates that the troops were moved by a group of helicopters] back to our base camp.
39. SGT SMITH: The next interview is with Sergeant Jesse J. Gentry. The last name spelled phonetically: Golf, Echo, November, Tango, Romeo, Yankee; service numbers US********. Sergeant Gentry is squad leader with the 1st Platoon, Alpha Company [1st Platoon, Company A, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry].
40. Sergeant Gentry, would you give us your personal experiences, observations and actions you took during the action covered in this interview?
41. SGT GENTRY: We had [an] eagle flight into the area, and before we got on the ground, we had fire as we came down and two men in my squad was wounded. However, we got them out without a dust-off by using our original choppers. And we took up position down in a small canal alongside the road, but we didn't have time to build any defensive positions.
42. After setting up the perimeter, we had two choppers that collided taking off, so we were going to move out 150 meters to the east [and] the west [and] secure the area so they could be picked up.6 However, the element on the east moved out. No
6. On the tape recording, the listener hears Sergeant Gentry say that the troops were moving "to the east, the west" with a pause between the two phrases. This could be interpreted as a correction made in mid-sentence or that men were actually moving in both directions at the same time. A common maneuver for American troops was called the cloverleaf (referred to by LT Thomas in his comments [P 3-4]) which involved sending men out in two opposite directions and having them to begin a circle and meet each other at a position in advance of their starting position. We can, therefore, insert our editorial notes with some certainty, but interviewers need to be aware of these potential problems and ask for clarification.
43. After this my squad was called on to move in. I only had four men left and I got them all together, and we moved over there with the platoon leader. And we got one body out and started receiving more fire, and we had to pull back with some more wounded people. Finally, after we got back, we all got together later on that night. The CO-Captain Adams-he went in and he got another man out, but was wounded pretty bad himself. And we had to pull him back out, and we had to pull back to Bravo Company's secured area for a dust-off for him. And we pulled all the KIAs back there to get them out.
44. Later on next morning we went back in, got the rest of our KIAs, receiving a few rounds. And we finally got the rest of the men out by knocking a bunker out then with three M-72 LAWs. And we pulled them all back out, got them all dusted off, and conducted a sweep through the area in the morning, and with no contact. And we blowed [demolished using explosives] the bunkers we found and reconned by fire [i.e., conducted a reconnaissance by firing weapons into a suspicious area in an attempt to draw return fire] before we'd go through. And later on that afternoon, we PZed from our original LZ back to base camp.
45. SGT SMITH: Swinging back to you, Lieutenant Thomas, could you tell me what the results were as far as KIAs and WIAs for 4th of the 9th was?
46. LT THOMAS: We received 7 KIAs and one five  WIAs during this operation.
47. SGT SMITH: The next interview is with Sergeant David P. Miller; service number US********. Sergeant Miller was a squad leader with the 2d Platoon [of Company A, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry].
48. Sergeant Miller, could you give me your personal experiences and actions that you took during the action on 6 June?
49. SGT MILLER: We landed on the road [Highway 248], immediately getting out of the choppers, and a man next to me was hit by a gunship immediately. And we moved him across the road and myself and another man.
50. SGT SMITH: You say a man or two got hit by a gunship. What was the reason for this? Wasn't there any control factor involved, or were you in the wrong place? Or just exactly what happened?
51. SGT MILLER: Well, coming into the LZ we received a lot of fire and the ships were coming down so fast that people were getting out before they hit the ground. And the only way we figured we could get out was to go out the other side of the door. And so, consequently, we ended up on the wrong side of the road and the gunships might have mistaken us for VC landing there. And immediately, about one minute later, we crossed back to our own side.
52. After crossing back to the other side, we organized, waited around, and we had our artillery and air strikes come in and support. After the air strikes and everything was finished, we got up on line and moved into the woods where the Victor Charlies were. And my unit and myself had got about 50 to 75 meters into the wood line when I spotted one Victor Charlie in a bunker and immediately opened up on him with automatic fire killing the gook inside. Right after this happened, we got back about five feet, threw a few grenades in it to make sure. And after that a man stood up in front of me and shot up the bunker with his [M-60] machine gun and was hit in the leg from an AK-47 round coming from our left flank. Another man and myself immediately threw bandages on him, and we tried to get him out as fast as possible. One man was shot three or four times in the back pulling this man out, and myself and two other men stayed up front giving him cover as they pulled him back.
53. We stayed up in the front for about 15, 20 minutes trying to find out where the fire was coming from but could not see because of the brush. There was a few rounds fired they shot at us. I gathered it was from the trees because we were real low to the ground and there was brush around us-nobody-we could not see anywhere, and the only way I could figure they shot at us after that was from the trees from someplace else. After this happened, we jumped in a small canal big enough for about one man at a time, and we left what we couldn't carry out there, and got ourselves out and pulled back to where the Captain was and the wounded. Then we set up some security around the wounded people.
54. That night we were instructed we were going back in to pull out our KIAs and WIAs, if there was any WIAs in there. And we crossed the road-Captain Adams, myself and a few other people. And as we crossed the road, one Victor Charlie came walking down the road with his AK[-47]. One man screamed halt. He did not halt, and two M-16s opened up on him. The man jumped into the ditch alongside the road, and we got in the ditch too. About two minutes after this I heard crawling in the brush about 15 feet from my position and I threw three grenades at it, and the person was still moaning when we pulled back-out of there.
55. The following morning we went across again to see if we could get the rest of the KIAs out, and our Chu Hoi [a former VC/NVA who had accepted amnesty under the "chu hoi" program correctly should have been called a hoi chanh] found the Victor Charlie in the ditch-he was blown apart with frag[mentation] grenades-and he picked up his AK-47. Other than that, I only saw two Charlies in there and about three bunkers. And we received fire initially from just about four different sides. In the morning, we swept through the area finding quite a few bunkers, one burnt up AK-47. Some people spotted a few spots of blood around the area, and everything abandoned. We just swept through the area, came back, threw the demolition charge), blew most of the bunkers, and then we choppered out back to our support base.
56. SGT SMITH: Sergeant Miller, could you tell me what type of fire support you had: artillery, gunships, air strikes or all three or exactly what it was?
57. SGT MILLER: Well, the support was real good. The artillery was coming in pretty good range [i.e. accurately] and we had quite a bit of that. I thought that was pretty good. The gunships gave us quite a bit of support. They shot up quite a few bunkers I noticed in the rear with rockets, and they gave us quite a bit of support when we had to maneuver around. I think without this support we would have taken a lot more casualties. The air strike was real close. It was ... they dropped napalm and small bombs. One position I was in they couldn't have been more than 200 meters away. But it was real good also. I don't think that they-the air strike-hit the exact targets where I was. I don't know where they were exactly trying to hit, but they were close enough to do quite a bit of damage. They came in with twenties, 20-millimeter cannons, and napalm, and everything worked out pretty good after that.
58. SGT SMITH: Back in to you, Lieutenant Thomas. Could you tell me what unit supplied you with the artillery support you received?
59. LT THOMAS: Our direct support artillery was Killer Five Niner. It was Bravo Battery, 1st of the 8th Artillery (Battery B, 1st Battalion, 8th Artillery), and also we had some more support from [other batteries of the 1st of the 8th at different times. They supported us real fine both on the west and on the south. Most of our artillery was shot from the air [that is, the fire was directed and adjusted by a spotter in the air].
60. SGT SMITH: The next interview is with Sergeant Emil A. Mazur. The last name spelled phonetically: Mike, Alpha, Zulu, Uniform, Romeo; service number US********. Sergeant Mazur is a squad leader in the 2d Platoon, Alpha Company, 4th of the 9th [2d Platoon, Company A, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry].
61. Sergeant Mazur, could you give me a rundown on your actions and experiences in the action that took place on 6 June?
62. SGT MAZUR: After we landed and found out the LZ was hot, our CO, he gave an order to the 2d Platoon to cross the road and sweep the area and find out if we could see where the fire was coming from and see if we could annihilate it. As the 2d Platoon moved across the road to the west, my file, which-we were on line, I had my squad on the right of the canal and the headquarters group and the second squad was on the left. I had the platoon sergeant on my side and the platoon leader had his RTO on the other side, and we had pretty good radio contact until after they got hit. After they got hit, I tried calling over there to find out what was going on over there, and we had no radio contact at all. So, I took two men from my squad and myself and tried to maneuver over to the other side of the canal and find out what was going on over there.
63. As I came around the canal I saw a bunker, and I told my point man, I said: "Watch that bunker, there may be Victor Charlies in it." As he approached the bunker, the Victor Charlies opened up with automatic weapons fire, but did not hit anyone. My point man ran to the left and got out of way of-range of-fire, but my backup man got behind a tree and could not move either way or else he would have got fired on again. I myself was at the very end of the canal watching what was going on, but I could not fire at the bunker because of I had my backup in between me and the bunker.
64. As I looked the situation over, I pulled the rest of my squad over to the right side of the canal and I told them to watch out [because] there was a bunker with a Victor Charlie in it right up there. And I told them to put some fire in there so we could get our backup man out of there. As they was maneuvering over, my backup man decided he didn't want to stay there, and he moved, and the Victor Charlie opened up again and got him, and he fell into the canal.
65. As this happened, I moved up to the right side of the canal to see if I could get my man out of there. In doing this, I had my M-79 man move up there and try to fire 79s at the bunker while I was going to get down in the canal and pull this man out. As we maneuvered up there, my platoon sergeant-which was acting platoon sergeant then-he was beside me and my 79 man was in front of me. As we looked over the canal, the sniper opened up again, and he got my 79 man and the platoon sergeant. And so I called Alpha 6 and had him-I informed him of what happened, and he told me to move back taking my personnel which was wounded and getting them back across the road.
66. As we went back across the road, I told Alpha 6-the CO, I told him, I said we need some more men up there because I only had two men left in the squad. I told him where the bunker was and what we had to do to get to it. So, when I tried to show him from the other side of the road where the bunker was, the man that was in the canal that we couldn't get to-he had crawled all the way to the road, and we ran out there and picked him up and brought him back to safety.
67. SGT SMITH: Sergeant Mazur, is Alpha 6 Captain Adams?
68. SGT MAZUR: Yes. Alpha 6-that's the way I call him, but he is the CO, Captain Adams, which commanded us during this time.
69. After we got to the man that crawled back to the road, we got him back to safety. We took a unit or element of the 1st Platoon and went across the road-back across the road-to see if we could get the other people that were still left up there. When we got across the road, we had found out that a few people of the second squad had pulled back a couple men to safety that were wounded. As we got across, after we got those people back to safety and across the road, we tried to maneuver up to this bunker where we were receiving all our fire. On maneuvering up there, we had a few more casualties on [that is, when they were] trying to throw grenades at the bunker. We couldn't get quite close enough to put one right in it because he would always snipe right back at us.
70. After we got the wounded personnel out that had been trying to get to the bunker, we got them back to safety. We called in a dustoff which was coming in, and we got all our wounded personnel on the east side of the road. The medevac ship [helicopter] came in, and we had all our personnel loaded. And it received an RPG, which put it completely out of commission, from the west side of the road. After this, we moved all our personnel to the north to safety and treated them and tried to keep them from getting into shock. Then we had some air strikes and artillery and gunship support which was real fine.
71. After a few more air strikes and the gunship support on these RPGs-where we received these RPGs and sniper fire-we tried to go across there again, maneuver up there to get the rest of our wounded personnel out. It was pretty late in the afternoon on doing this, and we tried again, which was unsuccessful. We had a few more wounded personnel. We got our wounded personnel out again from the unsuccessful try, and moved them back across, and waited again for more air strikes and artillery.
72. After this, it was pretty late in the evening. It was about 9:00, 9:30, 10 o'clock, and Captain Adams and four people from the second squad or the 2d Platoon, and my squad-which I had three people left and an RTO-tried to go across there again. Captain Adams took those four men with him on the right side of the canal-excuse me-on the left side of the canal, and I took my squad and my RTO and went to the left-[correction] right-side of the canal. On doing this we threw quite a few grenades, shot some M-79s, shot gas grenades, threw gas grenades up in there where the bunkers were. Captain Adams had his men maneuver up and got pretty close to the bunker and could see the wounded, the personnel which were up in there we were trying to get. My squad, which I had on the right side of the canal, was shooting 79s and throwing grenades all up and down the side of the canal which side we were on. We were trying to get the VC to keep their head down so we could maneuver in there and get our people out without getting shot at again.
73. While Captain Adams was trying to locate and get the rest of those people out, he was injured. He received numerous injuries in both legs and his hand. And the people on the left in the second platoon-they pulled him out and they got one of the other men that were left up there, which was a platoon leader. He was a KIA. They got him back to safety. And he was dusted off in Bravo Company's LZ. That night we moved back to the perimeter, set up perimeter between Manchu Bravo Company and Mustang Alpha.
74. The next morning they had numerous air strikes and artillery support. And we swept through the area on the east side of the road from our position on up approximately 800 meters. They came to our location which we had-at our LZ the day before. We stopped and tried to maneuver and get up there and get the two people that were left up there. As we moved across the road on the right-hand side of the canal, we could see the bunker that had two Victor Charlies in it. We shot two LAWs from the right-hand side and then maneuvered to the left and shot one more LAW at it. And it annihilated the two Victor Charlies and enabled us to get our two wounded-[correction] personnel out which were KIA.
75. After we got our personnel out, we moved on down the road approximately 400 more meters and swept the area and found numerous bunkers, found blood stains, found one AK-47 burnt up by napalm. After we swept through the area, we returned to our LZ which was turned into our PZ, and was picked up and took to our battalion base camp.
76. SGT SMITH: Going back to you once again, Lieutenant Thomas, could you tell me what the supporting forces were for the operation you were sent on?
77. LT THOMAS: Well, as I said before, the artillery that supported us was a Killer unit-direct support. And also, we drew some 8-inch howitzer support from Savage Seven and Eight, 3rd of the 13th Artillery [Battery D, 3d Battalion, 13th Artillery]. We used this in destroying some of the bunkers and destruction (inaudible) rounds. Air strikes came from Issue Two Three [23; Issue was the radio call sign for the 19th Tactical Air Support Squadron, USAF, assigned to the 25th Infantry Division] which was FAC [Forward Air Controller] in the area and they controlled all of our supporting air strikes. Stinger Nine Six  and [Stinger] Eight Three  were the two light fire teams that supported us by chopper from the air, and also Diamond Head [Company B, 25th Aviation Battalion] gave us some support at one time during that afternoon. Little Bear Six Three Three [633, radio call sign for a helicopter from Company A, 25th Aviation Battalion] was supporting ship that dropped in all of our CS gas into the area of the enemy.
78. SGT SMITH: Lieutenant Thomas, do you have any additional information on the enemy-what enemy battalion or regiment or whatever it was actually came into action?
79. LT THOMAS: Manchu Bravo picked up a POW on the night of the 6th, and later intelligence reports showed that he was an executive officer of a company. And they reported that it was the 101st NVA Regiment with three battalions and approximately 80 men per battalion. They were quite heavily equipped with rockets and RPGs. As near as we figure, their mission was to stay in this area and secure it as best they could.
80. SGT SMITH: Sir, is this the same NVA regiment that came in contact with C Company, 4th of the 9th [Company C, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry] back in MarcH-
81. LT THOMAS: From all we know about it, most likely it is. And also Mustang Alpha and Manchu Bravo-about two weeks prior to our contact on the 6th-they worked this area and also ran into contact with the 101st NVA Regiment at this time.
82. SGT SMITH: Okay, thank you very much, sir. [Background noises as first interview group breaks up.]
83. The following interviews are with personnel of B Company, 4th of the 9th [Company B, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry (Manchu)].
84. The first interview is with First Lieutenant James E. Sterrett. Last name spelled phonetically: Sierra, Tango, Echo, Romeo, Romeo, Echo, Tango, Tango; service number O*******. Lieutenant Sterrett is a platoon leader, 3d Platoon, Bravo Company, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry.
85. Lieutenant Sterrett, would you give your actions and experiences during the contact of 6 June with the 101st NVA Regiment?
86. LT STERRETT: On 6 June we were originally scheduled to make a sweep west [actually east] towards the Saigon River. Alpha Company was to be in blocking position, and we were to sweep up towards them. The ships [helicopters of the 116th Aviation Company] that took Alpha Company in were to come back and pick us up and drop us off so we could make our sweep towards Alpha. However, Alpha went in on a hot LZ and so the ships-our company was not picked up. We were left for several hours back at the PZ while the situation developed.
87. Like I say, about two or three hours after we were scheduled to be picked up-I think it was around-we were picked up at approximately 11:30 and brought into an LZ that was approximately 200 to 300 meters northeast of where Alpha Company had went in. Once we had landed, we moved west towards the road [Highway 248] running north-south on which Alpha Company had landed. I was reserve platoon. The two platoons in front of me both made contact after they had moved approximately 200 meters. My platoon did not make contact. As I say, we were in reserve. Once our company had pulled back our WIAs and KIAs, we moved back and set up a small perimeter and helped move our WIAs and KIAs back to the PZ and some of Alpha Company's WIAs back to the PZ.
88. We then made contact with Alpha Company and set up-we just maintained contact with them, we weren't really in a perimeter, we just kept contact with them and held fast in the position we were in and while air strikes and artillery was called in. This lasted until dark at which time my platoon crossed the north-south road, still to the north of where Alpha Company had received contact, and we moved into a small cemetery which was approximately 50 meters from the bunker that was giving Alpha Company a lot of trouble-that was setting right on this canal that was running east and west. And the personnel in my platoon were firing Mike 79 [M-79] rounds and throwing hand grenades at this bunker trying to support Alpha Company's personnel who were trying to maneuver in to pick up what was then unknown to be whether WIAs or KIAs that were laying very near this bunker. And we stayed there until approximately 2200 hours.
89. During this time we had a NVA officer come through our position, and two personnel in my platoon captured him after a short struggle. He was accompanied by one other NVA soldier who escaped. And this is the officer who gave the intelligence information upon which it was determined what size force the NVA was located here where Alpha Company got hit.
90. That night after Alpha Company had pulled back their wounded, my platoon went up and made contact with Alpha Company's CP [command post] and helped carry their equipment, WIAs and KIAs back-or their KIAs-back to the PZ. Then we moved into a perimeter between Mustang Alpha and Manchu Alpha for the night.
91. The next day we made a sweep going west and then south and we found numerous bunkers, a lot of fresh sign where people had pulled out rapidly-saw a lot of footprints, and a lot of abandoned equipment. I think we found 10 to 15 AK-47s and a light machine gun, numerous rounds of AK-47, RPGs, hand grenades, a few gas masks, various web gear. And after the sweep we moved back to where Alpha Company was hit, and set up a perimeter and stayed there for the next several days.
92. SGT SMITH: The next interview is with Second Lieutenant Donald G. Walker; service number O*******. Lieutenant Walker is platoon leader of the 2d Platoon, Bravo Company, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry [2d Platoon, Company B, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry].
93. Lieutenant Walker, would you describe your actions and experiences the day-afternoon and evening of 6 June in conjunction with the action which took place concerning Alpha Company, 4th of the 9th.
94. LT WALKER: On 6 June Manchu Bravo was supposed to be lifted into the area which was west of where Manchu Alpha had been LZed earlier that morning. We were supposed to sweep from west to east where Manchu Alpha was then supposed to be setting up a blocking position along a north-south road [Highway 248]. We were waiting for the choppers to come in when we got word that Manchu Alpha had run into a hot LZ. We waited approximately two hours while artillery and air strikes were called in on the positions where Manchu Alpha had made contact when they landed. After approximately two hours, Manchu Bravo was lifted into an area northeast of this road where Manchu Alpha had already LZed onto.
95. At this time my Two Six [2d Platoon] element [under LT Walker's personal command] and the One Six [1st Platoon] element proceeded west north of the road where Manchu Alpha had already landed. We had gone about two zero zero  meters when we received various sniper fire from our front and right front. At this time my right flank Two Five [other half of the 2d Platoon under the Platoon Sergeant] element proceeded up to the north-south road and received heavy sniper fire from across the road from a bunker that was on the southern side of a school house. This is the place where we took two KIAs and one WIA. At the same time my left flank element had proceeded along this east-west road and tried to make contact with Manchu Alpha. Approximately five zero  meters away from where we made contact with Manchu Alpha, we started receiving approximately four and five rounds of RPG-2 fire. It seemed to be coming from the east which would be in back of Manchu Alpha where they were located at this present time. My element then made contact with Manchu Alpha. At this time we started bringing back some of their KIAs and WIAs. We took them back to the same location where we had LZed in for at this time Mustang Alpha was securing this LZ. At the same time my Two Five element recovered the two KIAs and one WIA and brought them back to the same location.
96. After this, the Three Six (3d Platoon] element took over point and moved west along the northern side of the east-west road, made contact with Manchu Alpha and proceeded to move farther west across this north-south road. We stayed there for the better part of the night until around 2200 or 2230 while Manchu Alpha was pulling back some of their KIAs and WIAs that they could locate.
97. At this time our Three Six element, which I say again was on the west side of the road-at this time a VC officer, along with one other NVA soldier, came down the trail at Three Six [that is, at the 3d Platoon] -I already mentioned-and he was captured at that location. He was taken back to the secure LZ. Three Six then proceeded on up to where Manchu Alpha was located on the eastern side of the north-south road to where there was a large hootch, to where they had brought back their KIAs and WIAs. The Three Six element plus the Two Six element then proceeded to carry back Manchu Alpha's KIAs, WIAs and various equipment that they had found out by their-by their bodies. We then pulled back to a position where we set up a perimeter for the night. Mustang Alpha was off to our right flank, Manchu Bravo and then Manchu Alpha was connected into our left flank.
98. The next day Manchu Alpha proceeded to sweep along the eastern side of the north-south road, and Manchu Bravo crossed the road and proceeded to sweep the western side of this road. In here we found various bunkers, plus the one bunker that was giving Manchu Alpha a lot of trouble. Like Three Six [LT Sterrett] said, we found various equipment, various weapons, 10 to 15 AK-47s, one light machine gun, various rounds of RPG-2 and [RPG-]7, hand grenades-some Chicom [Chinese Communist manufacture], some homemade.
99. My element which was in reserve that day was following the One Six and the Three Six element. We proceeded west until we got to the first canal and then proceeded south finding various bunker complexes that had not been there two weeks prior because we had been in that area sweeping the same location. And the bunkers that we found that day were not there at that present time. Some of these bunkers were made with 55-gallon drums filled with mud and logs and were heavily reinforced. After we proceeded south down to the main road going north-south, we then pulled back to the Y formed by the east-west/north-south road where Manchu Alpha was then picked up and taken back to our battalion fire support base. At this time we set up a perimeter right on this Y formed by the north-south/east-west road and stayed there for approximately six days.
100. SGT SMITH: The next interview is with Second Lieutenant Paul J. Wilson; service number O*******. Lieutenant Wilson is a[n artillery] forward observer attached to Bravo Company, 4th of the 9th [Company B, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry]. His parent unit is A Battery, 7th Battalion, 11th Artillery [Battery A, 7th Battalion, 11th Artillery].
101. Lieutenant Wilson, would you give me your experiences, actions and observations of the action involving A Company, 4th of the 9th, on 6 June?
102. LT WILSON: On 6 June, we went out to the LZ at about one one three zero . We landed about 500 meters to east of Alpha Company. We then proceeded west trying to get to the candy stripe [Highway 2481 running north and south of which Alpha had landed that morning and received fire. We made it up to the candy stripe. Our 2d Platoon made contact with Alpha, and at that time started extracting the wounded and the KIAs that were not pinned downed at that time.
103. At this time another part of the 2d Platoon had gotten up to the road further north. They had received fire from their direct west, from their southwest and from their northwest. The part of the 2d Platoon to the south started receiving fire from their southeast. This was directly behind Manchu Alpha. We had one casualty from the Two Six element north [that is, the northern portion of the 2d Platoon]. At this time we, the 2d Platoon, got this man back, along with a couple of wounded, and we proceeded back to regroup so that we could move a little bit further south and then west so we could make closer contact with Alpha. They [Alpha Company] were having some problems getting their KIAs back.
104. We then reached a candy stripe. It was getting dark at this time. The artillery and the air strikes had been coming in; we had gunships. A dustoff tried to come in and take one of Alpha's personnel out. The dustoff was hit with an RPG; totally disabled. They got the-we got the crew and everything back to safety. It was starting to get dark then. Final attempts were made to get the wounded and the killed back which were successful. [When] we got them back, we moved approximately 200 meters from the initial point of contact. This was about 200 meters to the east of the candy stripe. We formed a perimeter consisting of Mustang Alpha to the east, Manchu Alpha to the south, and Manchu Bravo covering the west side of the perimeter and the north side also.
105. During that night, a VC officer-correction, an NVA officer-and I suppose maybe his RTO were walking along. The officer was captured by two Manchu Bravo elements of the 3d Platoon. The other man, the other NVA, got away. The executive officer was brought back, tied up, put on a chopper and sent in for questioning. The next day he came out and he had a little map drawn of the battalion of the 101st [NVA Regiment], how they were set up in this area. There was a company on the west - there were two companies on the west side of the candy stripe. Battalion headquarters was approximately in the middle. And where the battalion headquarters was-to the due west of where the choppers had taken Manchu Alpha. On the east side of the candy stripe was supposedly a weapons company.
106. We swept the area, led by the NVA officer. We saw running from north to south about 200 to 400 meters west of the candy stripe three complexes of bunkers-large. It looked like command post groups. On the outside towards the east of the road and also towards the west, all around coverage, there are fighting bunkers. Now, these fighting bunkers are good size bunkers, about 4 by 4 with 3 feet overhead covering and firing ports in three directions. Most of the complexes, two of the complexes had been hit by air strikes. There were bunkers that had received direct hits from artillery. However, most of the bunkers, especially the fighting bunkers, were not easy to detect, and they were mostly blown by the engineers attached to our company.
107. Manchu Alpha at this same time swept on the east side of the candy stripe, swept down approximately 600 meters. Then they were called back and returned back to the fire support base.
108. SGT SMITH: Lieutenant Wilson, you referred to candy stripe quite a few times. Would you explain exactly what this is?
109. LT WILSON: A candy stripe on a pictomap is a highway-supposedly a highway-that is paved. Now, the candy stripe I'm referring to, before it gets to the Y and when it turns to the east, this is a paved road. However, the one that keeps going north and a little bit to the west is a dirt road. However, you could probably drive a car down it.
110. SGT SMITH: Going back to you, Lieutenant Walker, do you have any idea why you were originally sent into this area on this particular mission?
111. LT WALKER: Prior to our mission, we had received word that at grid coordinates [XT] 848047 there was supposed to be a VC or NVA battalion located at this position around the bridge on this trail where this bunker complex was that afterwards gave Manchu Alpha most of their KIAs and WIAs.
112. SGT SMITH: Lieutenant Sterrett, do you know what the results were as far as U.S. KIA and WIA are concerned?
113. LT STERRETT: Manchu Bravo Company had two KIA and seven WIA in the two-day operation.
114. SGT SMITH: Lieutenant Walker, were there any control problems during the action that you noticed as being significant?
115. LT WALKER: Yes there were. Between our men is very, very thick, with underbrush and heavy trees. There are a lot of hootches and buildings in the area. And I myself-the first time we landed after Manchu Alpha had hit the hot LZ, and we landed on our LZ-we proceeded to sweep towards the west and my right flank element at one time was only approximately one zero , to one five  meters away, and I had no visual contact with them whatsoever. When my right flank element made contact, again I had no visual contact with them. I also had a loss of radio contact. And the exact whereabouts of them at that time were unknown.
116. SGT SMITH: Lieutenant Sterrett, as far as weapons and ammunition go, what type load did you carry? A basic load? Or did you have more or less depending on the type of operation?
117. LT STERRETT: We had at least a double basic load. We also carried a 90-millimeter gun [recoilless rifle] for use-specific use on these bunkers that we were sure we would be encountering in the area.
118. SGT SMITH: Lieutenant Sterrett, were you resupplied with ammunition during the operation?
119. LT STERRETT: No.
120. SGT SMITH: Lieutenant Wilson, you being an artillery officer, do you have any comments on the fire support that was brought in?
121. LT WILSON: Yes. The artillery support was real fine from the 1st of the 8th Artillery, B Battery and C Battery [105-millimeter howitzers of Batteries B and C of the 1st Battalion, 8th Artillery, in direct support]. We also had-from 3rd of the 13th [Battery D, 3d Battalion, 13th Artillery, the 8-inch howitzer battery of the division's general support battalion]-we had one 8-inch gun [actually howitzer] that had been moved into the area about one zero  days prior to this contact simply for the fact that it takes heavy artillery to knock out some of these bunkers. Now, if you have light [105-millimeter] artillery, it will knock out the bunker. However, it has to be a direct hit. Heavy artillery will shake them up quite a bit more.
122. The 8-inch had been worked in the area since it had been brought down there. It was brought down there for the specific purpose of knocking out these bunkers along the canals. The area had been shot up before by this 8 inch, and also that day after contact was made the 105 [millimeter howitzer] batteries [of the] 1st of the 8th, Bravo and Charlie Batteries, were firing into this area, and we had pretty good results from that. We had some bunkers that had received direct hits, and there were bodies definitely killed by this artillery.
123. Air strikes were also very good. If you get a 750-pound bomb on a bunker complex, there is not much left.
The source for this information was Vietnam Source document prepared by Ron Leonard
Additional information is available on CD-ROM.
Please send additions or corrections to: Gary Roush Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Return to panel index
Return to Helicopter Pilot KIA index
Return to VHPA Home Page
Copyright © 1998 - 2015 Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association
Date posted on this site: