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Diary 10 - 16 July 1968

10 July: Start 9th week. [Field strength] 527 Quiet nite - A, B, C Co's & R RIF'd. C Co. found VC base camp - documents, bunkers, kitchen, etc. Destroyed. Trafficability marginal in paddies., OK otherwise.
  [List of items]
  A [Co. To submit]- award for FO [forward observer] on ambush.
  Rec'd ltr ML, Shirley, tape from ML.

11 July: [Field strength] 516 Quiet nite - R. saw 7 persons S of Base camp. Fire mortars, arty at them. Neg. results. C Co. swept alt MSR [alternate main supply route],  A Co. moved to new NDP, B Co. swept North thru rubber. Briefed BG Long, [25th ID ] ADC-MR.
  Rec'd ltr ML - wrote ML 2 letters.


12 July: [Field strength] 513 Quiet nite - no sights. A, B, & C Co's RIF'd way to north. R. swept road, pulled 4 arty guns to firing psn. C Co. found motorcycle; B Co. found 3 fresh graves. A Co. found large ammo cache - 81 82 mm rds, 625 grenades, 22 6' Bangalore torpedoes, 10 CHICOM claymores, 2 mines, 8 satchel charges. Coord 381554
  [separately] C Co. grenade incident - VIK 6 & XO
  PX List
  Head & shoulders shampoo
  Mailer for Ektachrome [35 mm color slides]
  Sight savers
  Dial soap

Vol 3 No. 33          TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS          August 12, 1968

Soldier Cashes In On Cache Cycle Worth Weight In Gold (26 AUG 68)

   1ST BDE - Tropic Lightning troopers of the 4th Battalion (Mech), 23d Infantry have captured a wide variety of enemy equipment, but a red motorcycle already filled with gas was almost too much to believe.
   The infantrymen came upon the swift cache while sweeping through the thick undergrowth five miles southeast of Tay Ninh.
   Private First Class Ronnie Dixon of Hartsville, S.C., was cautiously checking out the hazardous undergrowth when a bright red object attracted his attention.  The Company C rifleman carefully approached the bright object and saw a motorcycle covered with a poncho.
   “There wasn’t a road anywhere around us so I thought that Charlie had left the motorcycle booby trapped because it was probably worthless,” stated Dixon.
   The 1st Brigade soldier carefully wrapped a cable around the handlebars and stood back 40 meters.  He yanked at the cable until he had dragged it a few meters.  Since it wasn’t booby trapped he ripped the poncho off and exposed a beautiful bright red motorcycle filled with gas.

PFC Ronnie Dixon

SWIFT CACHE - Private First Class Ronnie Dixon of Hartsville, S.C., sits atop a captured Viet Cong motorcycle.  Dixon found the cycle while on a reconnaissance-in-force mission with the 4th Battalion, (Mechanized), 23d Infantry, five miles southeast of Tay Ninh.  (PHOTO BY SP4 WALT CHAIKIVSKY)

Troops of Charlie Company with captured VC motorcycle
Picture from archives of LTC Cliff Neilson "Mohawk 6" 1968 

Vol 3 No. 33          TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS          August 12, 1968

Tomahawks Find Weapons Hoarded In Enemy Bunker
   1ST BDE - (12JUL68) More than 600 grenades and 81 eighty-two millimeter mortar rounds were discovered recently by the 25th Infantry Division‘s 4th Battalion (Mechanized), 23d Infantry.  The large cache, which included 20 six-foot bangalore torpedoes, was uncovered in a well-camouflaged, 10 by 14 foot enemy bunker five miles southeast of Tay Ninh.
   Sweeping through the thick undergrowth, elements of the Tomahawk battalion commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Clifford C Neilson of Mobile, Ala., came upon a sophisticated enemy base camp.  Using extreme caution, the men of A Company began checking out bunkers with four feet of overhead cover, not leaving a single stone unturned.
   Then SP4 Lawrence A. Davis of Lothian, Md., spotted a well-camouflaged 10 by 14 foot bunker.  Very carefully he pulled away the brush concealing the entrance and saw something covered with a poncho inside.
   Immediately Davis called for his platoon leader First Lieutenant William McMongle of Colorado Springs, Colo., who placed security around the bunker and thoroughly checked the entrance for booby traps.  “I looked as best as I could into the bunker and saw the words ‘safety fuze’,” stated McMongle, “and knew we had latched onto something good.”
   Private First Class Benton Hoard of Salem Ill., volunteered to enter the dark bunker for a closer look.  Armed with a .45 caliber pistol in one hand and a flashlight in the other the Tomahawk tunnel rat entered.  The sweat rolled as he probed for booby traps that might be connected to the poncho covering the munitions.  Then he shouted: “There’s all kinds of good stuff in here.”
   The 1st Brigade infantrymen began hauling out the mortar rounds, claymore mines and hundreds of grenades.  After over an hour’s work, the munitions were extracted, and a count was made.  The Tomahawks counted 617 grenades of various types - ”little beer can,” “big beer can,” “potato masher,” and “torpedo” grenades.  In addition there were 20 six-foot bangalore torpedoes, 81 82mm high explosive mortar rounds, 31 cans of mortar charges, 12 twelve-inch claymore mines, eight satchel charges and two “black box” antitank mines.
   The Tropic Lightning infantrymen carried the cache to their night defensive position and laid the munitions in a foxhole just outside the perimeter.  There, the cache was blown in place all at once.  “When we left it was an ordinary foxhole, but after the explosion,” said Captain Henry Montgomery of Memphis, Tenn., the Company A commander, “it looked as if a 1,000 pound bomb was dropped there.”

13 July:
 [Field strength] 494 Quiet nite - Moved FSB to 388533. A & B Co's, A [Battery]-7/11 [Arty]; C Co. est. sep NDP at 423505. A Co. made RIF into prev BC [VC base camp referred to above]-neg results. Mailed film - returned 1 Aug 18 days
  [separate list] Boxes for carrying ice
  Turn in 5 ton trucks +7
  Arm 1/4 +1

Gone But Always Remembered
From the 4/23 KIA list
SFC Robert Creech, Jr.   A Co.

14 July:  Quiet nite. A, B, C Co's RIF'D C Co. Cmd. Grp. ambushed - Capt Mellis wounded in stomach, Lt Pickens, FO, in shoulder. 2 others. A, B, C Co's destroyed base camps. B Co. found 110 lbs rice, 1 PRC 10, 4 RPG, 4 bolts cloth, documents-D14. Received POW camp mission. Recon OPCON Fullback. Rec'd 3 ltrs ML, 1 Clark, 1 Vic, 1 dad. Wrote ML

Vol 3 No. 33          TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS          August 12, 1968

Tomahawks Sweep Enemy Base Camp

By SP4 Walt Chaikivsky
   1ST BDE – (14JUL68) Following up an intelligence report of enemy activity in the Boi Loi Woods, the 4th Battalion (Mechanized), 23d Infantry Tomahawks, routed through a regimental-sized Viet Cong base camp.
   Company E, commanded by First Lieutenant Morgan Sincock of Natick, Mass., was sweeping on a reconnaissance-in-force mission on the northwest edge of the Boi Loi Woods when they received automatic weapons fire from both flanks.  Immediately returning fire, the Tomahawks deployed in defensive positions.
   The battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel Clifford C. Neilson of Mobile, Ala., was flying over the scene of battle in his command and control (C&C) helicopter and began directing maneuvers when he noticed a wounded U.S. soldier pinned down between Company B and the estimated reinforced VC company.
   The enemy also realized the precarious situation of the wounded man and tried to prevent anyone from coming to his aid.  After three daring attempts, the wounded 1st Brigade soldier was extracted to a safe location for dust-off.
   The 1st Brigade infantrymen withdrew from the thick jungle and Neilson directed gunships from the 3d Squadron, 4th Cavalry, artillery from the 7th Battalion, 11th Artillery, and Air Force tactical air strikes on the enemy concealed in the dense foliage.  While the area of contact was being hammered mercilessly, Charlie Company, commanded by Captain Henry Phillips of Columbus, Ga., maneuvered to link up with Bravo to form an arc around the enemy base camp.
   When the suspected enemy positions were well softened-up Charlie Company attempted an   assault from another flank and ran into two RPG nests.  The fire fight raged into the night when the two Tomahawk companys withdrew to set up a defensive night location just 300 meters from the area of contact.
   The next day, the Tomahawks assembled on line and walked through the impregnable base camp with little resistance.  “They certainly must have left here in quite a hurry because of all the equipment they left behind,” pointed out Major Cain Bridgman of Chattanooga, Tenn., the battalion operations officer.  There were field packs scattered all over and blood-stained bandages lying along blood trails.
   Bunkers with as much as five feet of overhead cover were checked out thoroughly.  Company A, commanded by Captain Henry Montgomery of Memphis, Tenn., found a weapons cache in a bunker in the center of the huge base camp.  The weapons were believed to belong to the enemy’s heavy weapons section.

PFC Donald Stanfill fires, PFC Charles Cooper (kneeling) reloads

PREPARING FOR THE ASSAULT - Taking cover behind an armored personnel carrier Private First Class Donald G. Stanfill of Detroit, Mich., softens up the enemy positions with his M-79 grenade launcher as Private First Class Charles Cooper (kneeling) of Paterson, N.J., prepares his M-16 for the assault.  In the action the 4th Battalion (Mechanized), 23d Infantry, overran an enemy regimental-sized base camp.

PFC Larry Elzinga fires

MAINTAINING FIRE SUPERIORITY - Private First Class Larry L. Elzinga, from Charlevoix, Mich., a member of the 4th Battalion (Mechanized), 23d Infantry Tomahawks uses an M-60 machine gun to put down a heavy base of fire into an enemy RPG nest during a reconnaissance-in-force operation in the Boi Loi Woods.  (PHOTOS BY SP4 WALT CHAIKIVSKY)


SEARCHING - On operation IN THE BOI LOI WOODS, soldiers of the 4th Battalion (Mechanized), 23d Infantry, rumble through jungle and open terrain searching for an enemy regiment reported in the area.  (PHOTO BY CPT LES RASCHKO)

15 July: [Field strength] 496 50th malaria pill. Quiet nite - A & B Co's RIF'd - neg results. C Co. moved to new loc vic XT415439. Detail plan for POW mission. No mail -Tape to dad, postcard D & J.


16 July: [Field strength] 496 Unquiet nite. 30-40 rounds mortar. Moved to new psn, vic. XT466378, A, B,& C Co's made mtd atk on POW camp. Neg findings. C Co. moved to FSB vic XT439348.

The attack on the supposed POW camp was regarded by all concerned as a big deal. We were all aware that a Special Forces major had been captured and the hope was that we would liberate him. Very strict radio discipline was imposed for 24 hours before the attack which was conducted with great speed. The supposed camp was empty with little sign of recent occupancy and no clues that it had held a POW. We were all very disappointed.

  [separate list] Ltrs - CO or give up mech
  1st SGT - come to field
  A Co. incidence
  Sick call - Dr. out.

When a soldier needed to be seen by a doctor for non- emergency reasons, he went on Sick Call. If he was at a field location and the Battalion Surgeon was in Base camp, then the soldier had to be transported to and from the Surgeon. Often this meant he was out of combat operations for 2 days. There was a belief that more than a few soldiers took this route to avoid combat. The solution was to bring the Surgeon to the field location each day where he conducted sick call. That way, the soldier was gone from his unit only several hours.

Cliff Neilson
Mohawk 6
May-Nov 1968

Illegitimi nil carborundum

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