Diary 3-9 July 1968
3 July: [Field strength] 588 Quiet nite. B Co. dismtd sweep of Ba Que village. Neg. results. 2 troops swiped radios but returned same. Moderate rain. No mail - wrote ML & Pop.
[?] reports Bull dozer for A
echelon parts for A Co.
4 July: Quiet nite. B Co. mtd/dismtd on swamp sweep between 945-957. Neg. finds. Received word to move [to TNBC]. A Co. moved 1430. OPCON to 1st BDE. Buckup troops appearance msg. Mailed slides. Rec'd 17 July. Rec'd Ltr ML.
Butch Sincock, B. Co. Plat Leader has a vivid remembrance of the day's celebration not reflected in the diary.
"The battalion was laagered on the West side of Highway #1, opposite Gate 51 of Tan Son Nhut Airbase (TSNAB) on the northern edges of Saigon. I can no longer recall what we did for most of that day, but we were likely out on patrol to the Northwest trying to disrupt what had been called the "Rocket Belt" from which the NVA launched rockets on metropolitan Saigon most
nights through June and into July.
That evening we left one of the officers in charge of the company and the rest of us crossed the road and were given a ride from Gate #51 to the TSNAB Officer's Club. There we had a steak dinner and a few drinks. Toward the end of the evening the Korean band stuck up "American the Beautiful," followed in short order by "Anchors Aweigh", "Off We Go Into
the Wild Blue Yonder," the Marine Corps hymn, "The Caissons go Rolling Along," and finally, "The Star Spangled Banner." Besides a salute to Independence Day, it was the cue that they were closing for the night.
We walked out and four of us promptly requisitioned a jeep (Officers, as is well known, don't steal things) and drove it to Gate#51 where the USAF Air Police assured us with a wink that they were thankful that we had found the lost vehicle and would see that it was returned to its rightful owner. This was only a few months post-Tet '68 and the USAF recalled vividly the 25th
Division rescue of TSNAB the 25th ID 3/4 Cav. Consequently, was very difficult for a 25th ID Soldier to do any harm or get into trouble. It took a few more months for that welcome to wear out, but on 4 July 4 1968, it was a still fresh in the memory of the Air Police at Gate #51.
We walked across the road to our NDP and I recall heading for the latrine. One of the other guys was met by his platoon sergeant who had apparently been doing some celebrating of his own. He announced that they had something they had to do and he took his Lieutenant by the arm and headed to one of their tracks. As I exited the latrine I saw the two of them a few yards away. The
sergeant promptly struck the bottom of a Star Cluster sending several green streams of light into the sky The Lieutenant followed with a red Star Cluster and before long several others joined in lighting the sky with our military fireworks.
Suddenly the horizon lit up with similar displays of green, white and red light. Every American position within miles began to fire off Star Clusters. Those red, white and green domes of fireworks dotted the horizon north and west of Saigon for miles. Soon someone from Battalion came running out shouting to stop firing off the Star Clusters. By then we had expended our
supply of Star Clusters (something that we rarely had occasion to use in the course of normal operations anyway.)
I have seen many impressive displays of fireworks over the years but I will never experience as moving a display of 4th of July spirit as I did that evening thirty-six years ago when the Soldiers of the American Army showed their spirit and pride in an American tradition."
James "Farmer" Mallard, Recon remembers:
"Recon was down Highway 1 as always. What I remember was a big ring of star clusters around what appeared to be Saigon. Which was one heck of a big ring. When our star clusters were gone some of the guys threw smoke and trip flares. July. Also the ARVN Compound down the road got in on the fun by shooting off Red Parachute flares That was the biggest fireworks display I have ever
seen. I think about it ever year on the 4th."
"It came down from higher, that a display of pyrotechnics on any holiday was strictly forbidden. Col. Hodson [1st BDE CO] forbid any display. Of course each holiday, radio transmissions were always garbled but then you and I were only Lieutenants, so what did we know. I might add never was there a display that had such a lasting impression."
A 1/5 Bobcat, Roger Hayes was close by:
"Thirty-six years ago, on the Fourth of July, my company, Charlie 1/5 (Mech), was also performing security for TSNAB. At midnight on the evening of the Fourth (or was that the morning of the fifth?) I was a member of a platoon-sized ambush patrol (about a dozen soldiers) crossing a huge dried-up rice paddy en route to our ambush position. Suddenly, from probably six or eight
perimeters all around us, red and green star clusters and handheld flares shot into the air, casting long shadows of our small patrol on the surrounding rice paddy. We dove to the ground, and were pinned down by the illumination for probably around fifteen minutes, although it seemed like forty-five.
The next day we laughed about it. Now, thirty-six years later, it's nice to hear from someone on the other end of that incident. Thanks for the memory!"
From Donn McMahon of B. Co.:
"That was a glorious night I don't remember looking for red, white or blue just wanted something to lift the spirits of our quiet 4th. TSNAB raised hell because their approach was looking confused and a cease and desist order came to the perimeter. It started off slow because we used the heel of our hand (ouch)at first but then started popping them on the top of the PC's."
My involvement in that insubordination was to soon be transferred to the Mortar team as a driver. GOD bless LT Sincock for punishing me so EXTREMELY. The intoxicated SGT. was George Lovins, he knew how to make a dismal face become a smiley face.
5 July: Moved to TN. Left 0830, arrived 1430 (30 min Maint.) No enemy. Maj Tuten [BN XO] hit by track [he was evacuated with a badly broken leg which never healed properly. He walked with a limp the rest of his life.] Given mission by Viking 6 [call sign of
1st BDE Commander]. Made VR [visual reconnaissance] new area. Buckup appearance. Wrote ML.
For the remainder of July-November 1968, the 4/23 was home-based at TNBC.
6 July: Depart TN at 1030. Closed FSB [do not know name of FSB] vic 3944 at 1430 w/ B, C Co's, B-588 Engr, B-7/11 Arty. A Co. on road. C Co. conducted RIF.
Tomahawk - all 4 sides crappy letters off.[refers to battalion sign in TNBC]
for operations & within perimeter.
Safety - fire & explosives - Flame unit, kitchen, generators.
TK Plat SRCHLTS [M48A1 tanks were equipped with a turret mounted Xenon 1 million candle power searchlight and an infrared searchlight that some believed would be useful in defensive positions]
65 - ½ & ½
66 - doesn't no IR
63 - ok.
S-4 - wire steel mat, planking.
7 July: Quiet nite. Conducted B & C Co. RIF in rubber plantation - B Co. found 1000+ lbs rice. A Co. blocked road. 2 WIA by short mortar round. Rec'd ltr ML, L C Hightower [Army friend of mine].
cover - 1 bunker/line track 2 layers ???
Claymores - separation [between detonators and mines when not employed]
Uniform & shaves - helmet short
8 July: 49th malaria [Field strength] 526 Partly quiet nite - C Co. spotted 5 men vic. wire - took under fire w/ SA & mortars. Neg. results. B & C Co's swept northeast. B Co. hit large mine., destroying track & wounding 4. Minor signs of enemy activity. A Co. moved to
Head count report
wire - cover
B Co. - .50 cal.
Water, beer, and soda.
9 July: [Field strength] 528 Partly quiet nite - several volleys of unidentified ordnance flew over. No damage - later identified 107 mm found 6 craters. A, B, C Co's, R swept. 20 bunkers destroyed. Found 3 100 kilo bags fertilizer & 1, 55 gal drum sulphur. Extremely heavy rain - estimate
6" between 1600-1800.
Reduce cost of beer & soda
Report by CP [check point] not PO
R, B & C Co's get 292
bands w/brush [on helmets]
Drinking - ammo & billets
May -Nov 1968
Illegitimi nil carborundum