Pacific Stars and Stripes information
11 BDE 23 INF was a US Army unit
for 11 BDE 23 INF
For date 680521
4/3 INF was a US Army unit
1/20 INF was a US Army unit
Primary service involved, US Army
Operation NORFOLK VICTORY
Quang Tin Province, I Corps, South Vietnam
Location, Chu Lai
Description: The following is an edited version of an article titled "Unit Scares Off Reds, Discovers Giant Arms Cache."
Chu Lai (IO) - A combination of hard driving initiative and good luck brought to light the largest weapons cache ever uncovered by the Americal Div.'s 11th Inf. Brigade and destroyed a major enemy base of operations during Operation Norfolk Victory. Ironically, the most successful single action in destroying enemy bases and sources of supply involved what was supposed to be the operation's "beater" force. Two platoons of 4/3rd Inf. were operating on the fringe of a sweep by the brigade's 1/20th Inf. through the mountains and into the Tra Khuc River Valley west of Quang Ngai City. A 3rd Inf. company made an amphibious assault across the river, swept up the valley north of the main force, and into the mountains, killing five enemy and capturing 112 suspects, in an attempt to drive the enemy into the "Norfolk Victory" area. "We counted 21 enemy soldiers in green uniforms running away from us up a hill, and we went up to check out the area they'd come out of," SGT Charles Akes said. The first platoon moved into the area, and noticed several hooches, and an enemy weapon laying out in the open. A search of the area revealed several tunnel entrances and the platoon began investigating. "They were really well hidden," said SP4 Robert Van Tholen. "The entrances were all natural openings, none of them dug." "Suddenly," said SGT Eddie Symington, "people began pulling weapons out of everywhere." The tunnels yielded stacks of rifles, submachine guns, carbines and automatic weapons. "A lot of them still had the waxed paper wrappings on them," Symington said. "The place was bigger than we thought," said SSG John Williams. "It looked like a major supply base. Instead of the usual tunnels, the place was honeycombed with a series of caverns. They had sleeping quarters, a hospital, even offices with typewriters." SP4 Peter Rico thought "It looked like some kind of training center. They had pictures drawn on the rocks with chalk, showing soldiers using bayonets, Huey helicopters, soldiers shooting rifles, all indifferent spots like training areas." The 2nd platoon provided security for the searchers as the men gave the area a thorough going-over during the next three days. The platoon captured one North Vietnamese Army prisoner who had been left behind. He led them to another weapons cache that had been overlooked, containing 11 U.S. carbines. "There just seemed to be no end to it," said SP4 Bobby Scott. "They had everything there, factories for making booby traps and grenades and even vegetable gardens." "The engineers were a lot of help to us," said SP Ronald Blake. "They identified a lot of the booby trap materials; explosives, firing devices, and things like that." "We found 1,000 pounds of raw explosives that the VC were using to make booby traps and grenades with," said SP4 Gary Olson, "and the engineers used it all to blow the tunnels. That mountain just got up and moved over when all that stuff went off!" The final count was 126 individual and crew-served weapons, including a 60 mm mortar, a 7.92 mm machine gun and a number of automatic rifles. In addition, the cache yielded nearly 100 mortar rounds and B-40 rocket rounds, as well as thousands of rounds of small arms ammunition, including belts of M antiaircraft ammunition.
The source for this information was 6805pss.avn supplied by Les Hines
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