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2-8 Oct 1968

2 - 5 Oct - R & R (All my entries for these days, discuss expenditures for tailored clothes and uniforms for myself, gifts for Mary Lou and the children, and housing and eating. On the final page it shows I spent $675.)

The following remembrances of what occurred while I was on R & R were supplied in October 2004 by Don Starnes, who at the time was the Battalion Executive Officer and in-charge during my absence:

"During the week, we ran a convoy around the east side of Nui Ba Den from Soui Da (FSB Bragg I or II) to Katum (FSB Barbara, Old French Fort). The vehicles were mostly supply and dump trucks. However, an M-88 Vehicle Track Retriever (VTR) was included.

As the convoy was driving around the mountain, a dump truck detonated a mine, killing the passenger and severely wounding the driver. The VTR operator, on his own, pulled out of the convoy and attempted to approach the dump truck. The ground was very spongy and wet. As a result, grass, dirt, and brush became entwined in the tracks and drive sprockets. Between the truck and the VTR, the convoy was halted.

I landed the OH-6A (Loach) and began to attempt to clear the road way and get the VTR back on the road. Of course, I began to receive call after call from BDE demanding that I get the convoy moving again. The dump truck was loaded with laterite and was very heavy. The VTR could only move a few feet until the tracks were filled with debris. The stuff was so thick that the track was raised several inches away from the drive sprockets. You had to clear the stuff to move the vehicle or lose a track and that was something horrible to contemplate.

Of course having hit a mine and there being a likelihood of others being planted in the area, COL Fair only flew over the site giving orders. As a consequence I didn't have to contend with his presence on the ground.

At one point, he ordered a second VTR to be dispatched to the area. I asked that he delay that order as I did not need a second vehicle stuck. He insisted. Fortunately, MAJ Cain Bridgeman, S-3, used a land line to cause the VTR to be delayed until I got the first one on the road. After several hours, the VTR moved ahead of the damaged truck, hooked up and moved north.

While all of this was going on, BDE was demanding to know the exact size of the mine and the extent of the damage. I was at a loss as to the size, etc. A soldier sitting on a track, said, "Tell them it was a ten pound mine and left a three by four crater." I did and they were happy.

A second event happened when I received a call from BDE to report to COL Fair at once. I flew into TNBC and walked to BDE HQ where COL Fair was waiting for me. He ordered me into his jeep and we sped off to the 25th ID Direct Support (DS) Company that supported the 4th (M)-23rd. On the way he accused me of not keeping our tracks running as there were parts and engines available and we were not drawing parts, etc.

When we got to the DS company, he demanding that our PLL clerk come across the street and check his due out list. He did and it was for the second time that day. The 1LT commanding the DS Company admitted that he did not have any engines available but thought perhaps some might become available in the salvage yards. In other words the LT had tried to impress COL Fair with BS.

COL Fair got so mad that he jumped into his jeep and left me standing. I walked across the street and got a ride back to the pad and went back to work.

(As a footnote, in 1970-71, I was assigned as the Chief, Operations Center, USARV. One day I saw then BG Fair walking toward me. As I tried to duck into an office, he followed and you would have thought we were blood brothers. He began telling all who would listen about our daring dos in the 25th ID. He was assigned as the guy in-charge of automated information and was on a junket to learn about our needs for information)

That entire week was made very easy for me through the efforts of MAJ Cain Bridgeman, CPT Houston (S-2) and BCSM Wise. They took the load off of me and tried to anticipate missions, troop requirements, etc. They would present the BDE requirements along with their recommendations. They would answer my questions clearly and distinctly. As a result, orders were issued and the companies complied.

One last thought. I remember that you were impressed with the BCSM's ability to plan and arrange your R&R."

Don Starnes

6 Oct - [field strength] 520. Return to Saigon 0900 - caught chopper to Div & then to Tay Ninh, then to Rawlins. Arrived 1900.

Final Results - Opn Thunder Road (25 Sep-3 Oct)
1. Vehicles destroyed
    2 - M48A3 Tanks
    3 - M113A1 APC
    3 - 5 ton Dump Trucks

2. Vehicles damaged
    1 - AVLB
    1 - 5 ton Dump truck
    1 - M113A1

3. Personnel
    2 - KHA (1 from 4/23; 1 Engr)
    9 - WIA (8 from 4/23; 1 Engr)

7 Oct [field strength] 485. 62 malaria, 10 APC DL [probably meaning dead lined, e. g., inoperable. This is the first of many such entries about dead lined APC's. Funny, when combat was intense and APCs were destroyed with great regularity, higher headquarters was not concerned about DL. Let the action die down and we're back to Regular Army - dead lined vehicles, haircuts, and inspections.] Quiet nite - B Co. stood down - 1st day.
A & C Cos
- open road to Dau Tieng.
Scout - escort battery to Hull, secure & return. Also artillery convoy & DT convoy.
2 plt AP
No mail. Mailed films. Wrote ML.
Visit by MAJ Redden, LT Reid, & CAPT ?

8 Oct - [field strength] 487. 10 APC DL. Quiet nite - Sct plt escort DT-TN convoy one way.
A & C Cos - open Rt 26.
B Co. moved to TN. B Co. - stand down, move to Rawlins.
2 letters ML, 1 letter Vic
2 plt AP

[notes at bottom of page]

Motor stables
Delegation of auth to sign 02
Supervise Maint
Maint of weapons in arms room

From the 25th ID CG Journal, 8 may 1968:
"...Colonel Fair
[1st BDe CO] stated he is concerned about the level of maintenance in the 4/23 Mech...."

Cliff Neilson
Mohawk 6
May-Nov 1968

Illegitimi nil carborundum

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